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Title: Mary of Burgundy - or The Revolt of Ghent
Author: James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainsford)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mary of Burgundy - or The Revolt of Ghent" ***

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Google Books (University of Virginia)

Transcriber's Notes:
   1. Page scan source: Google Books
     (University of Virginia)
   2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].

Mary _of_ Burgundy.

G. P. R. James

George Routledge
and Sons Limited.

_The Introduction is written by_ Laurie Magnus, M.A.;
_the Title-page is designed by_ Ivor I. J. Symes.


George Payne Rainsford James, Historiographer Royal to King William
IV., was born in London in the first year of the nineteenth century,
and died at Venice in 1860. His comparatively short life was
exceptionally full and active. He was historian, politician and
traveller, the reputed author of upwards of a hundred novels, the
compiler and editor of nearly half as many volumes of letters,
memoirs, and biographies, a poet and a pamphleteer, and, during the
last ten years of his life, British Consul successively in
Massachusetts, Norfolk (Virginia), and Venice. He was on terms of
friendship with most of the eminent men of his day. Scott, on whose
style he founded his own, encouraged him to persevere in his career as
a novelist; Washington Irving admired him, and Walter Savage Landor
composed an epitaph to his memory. He achieved the distinction of
being twice burlesqued, by Thackeray, and two columns are devoted to
an account of him in the new "Dictionary of National Biography." Each
generation follows its own gods, and G. P. R. James was, perhaps, too
prolific an author to maintain the popularity which made him "in some
ways the most successful novelist of his time." But his work bears
selection and revival. It possesses the qualities of seriousness and
interest; his best historical novels are faithful in setting and free
in movement. His narrative is clear, his history conscientious, and
his plots are well-conceived. English learning and literature are
enriched by the work of this writer, who made vivid every epoch in the
world's history by the charm of his romance.

The great passage in this book is so magnificently dramatic that James
feels it due to his conscience as an historian to apologise for its
excellence in a footnote. "It may be necessary," he writes at the foot
of page 234, "to inform those who are not deeply read in the
chronicles of France that this fact is minutely accurate." We are
glad of the reminder, for without it the reader might have thought
that here was something fictitious, or at least exaggerated and
'worked-up,' so intense and true is the tragic setting of the scene.
But if Mary of Burgundy's bearing at the execution of the Lord of
Imbercourt, and her grand historical utterance, recorded on page 305,
"You have banished my best friends, and slain my wisest counsellors,
and now what can I do to deliver you?" if these public appearances of
the heiress of Charles the Bold, and the love which she cherished for
the husband who was chosen for her on political grounds, justify James
in raising her to the title-role in this romance, it must be conceded
that the real hero is Albert Maurice, citizen of Ghent, a noble
mediæval prototype of the _citoyens_ of the French Revolution,
Whatever defects in character-study have been ascribed to James, no
one can deny that in Albert Maurice his skill was equal to its
material. The figure of the young President is firmly and consistently
drawn, and the conception touches considerable heights of human daring
and aspiration. Albert Maurice at the time of his fall was many years
younger than Wolsey, but he could say as genuinely as the Cardinal, "I
charge thee, fling away ambition!" In his story we realize to the full
the tragic import of that warning. His splendid dream of patriotism
was fulfilled by blunders and crimes, committed _per se_ or _per
alios_, for which he felt the responsibility, and at the end the
people of Ghent discovered the ancient truth, that worse than the
tyranny of tyrants is the tyranny of tyrannicides. But by that time
Maurice was dead; the victim of self-delusion would not survive his
disappointment; in the sudden knowledge that his goal was
unattainable, he became aware that his steps to it had been unjust.
This romance of the fifteenth century--Mary of Burgundy was married in
1477--is in what Matthew Arnold called the "grand style," and it is
therefore singularly free from faults of diction and false notes of
any kind. It has a certain attractive naturalness from beginning to
end, and it is one of the best, as it is one of the earliest, of the
series of novels in which James went for his plots to the French
Chroniclers of the Middle Ages.



It was on the evening of a beautiful day in the beginning of
September, 1456--one of those fair autumn days that wean us, as it
were, from the passing summer, with the light as bright, and the sky
as full of rays, as in the richest hours of June; and with nothing but
a scarce perceptible shade of yellow in the woods to tell that it is
not the proudest time of the year's prime. It was in the evening, as I
have said; but nothing yet betokened darkness. The sun had glided a
considerable way on his descent down the bright arch of the western
sky, yet without one ray being shadowed, or any lustre lost. He had
reached that degree of declination alone, at which his beams, pouring
from a spot a little above the horizon, produced, as they streamed
over forest and hill, grand masses of light and shade, with every here
and there a point of dazzling brightness, where the clear evening rays
were reflected from stream or lake.

It was in the heart of a deep forest, too, whose immemorial trees,
worn away by time, or felled by the axe, left in various places wide
open spaces of broken ground and turf, brushwood and dingle,--and
amidst whose deep recesses a thousand spots rich in woodland beauty
lay hidden from the eye of man. Those were not, indeed, times when
taste and cultivation had taught the human race to appreciate fully
all the charms and magnificence wherewith nature's hand has robed the
globe which we inhabit; and the only beings that then trod the deeper
glades of the forest were the woodman, the hunter, or those less
fortunate persons who--as we see them represented by the wild pencil
of Salvator Rosa--might greatly increase the picturesque effect of the
scenes they frequented; but, probably, did not particularly feel it
themselves. But there is, nevertheless, in the heart of man, a native
sense of beauty, a latent sympathy, a harmony with all that is lovely
on the earth, which makes him unconsciously seek out spots of peculiar
sweetness, not only for his daily dwelling, but also for both his
temporary resting place, and for the mansion of his long repose,
whether the age or the country be rude or not.

Look at the common cemetery of a village, and you will generally find
that it is pitched in the most picturesque spot to be found in the
neighbourhood. If left to his free will, the peasant will almost
always--without well knowing why--build his cottage where he may have
something fair or bright before his eyes; and the very herd, while
watching his cattle or his sheep, climbs up the face of the crag, to
sit and gaze over the fair expanse of Nature's face.

It was in the heart of a deep forest, then, at the distance of nearly
twenty miles from Louvain, that a boy, of about twelve years of age,
was seen sleeping by the side of a small stream; which, dashing over a
high rock hard by, gathered its bright waters in a deep basin at the
foot, and then rushed, clear and rapidly, through the green turf
beyond. The old trees of the wood were scattered abroad from the
stream, as if to let the little waterfall sparkle at its will in the
sunshine. One young ash tree, alone, self-sown by the side of the
river, waved over the boy's head, and cast a dancing veil of chequered
light and shade upon features as fair as eye ever looked upon.

At about a hundred yards from the spot where he was lying, a sandy
road wound through the savannah, and plunged into the deeper parts of
the wood. On the other side, however, the ground being of a more open
nature, the path might be seen winding up the steep ascent of a high
hill, with the banks, which occasionally flanked it to the east,
surmounted by long lines of tall overhanging trees.

A rude bridge of stone, whose ruinous condition spoke plainly how
rarely the traveller's foot trod the path through the forest, spanned
over the stream at a little distance. And the evening light, as it
poured in from the west, caught bright upon the countenance of the
sleeping boy, upon the dancing cascade above his head, upon many a
flashing turn in the river, and, after gilding the ivy that mantled
the old bridge, passed on to lose itself gradually in the gloom of the
deep masses of forest-ground beyond.

The dress of the sleeper accorded well with the scene in which he was
found; it consisted of a full coat, of forest-green, gathered round
his waist by a broad belt, together with the long tight hose common at
the period. In his belt was a dagger and knife; and on his head he had
no covering, except the glossy curls of his dark brown hair. Though
the material of his garments was of the finest cloth which the looms
of Ypres could produce, yet marks of toil, and even of strife, were
apparent in the dusty and torn state of his habiliments.

He lay, however, in that calm, deep, placid sleep, only known to
youth, toil, and innocence. His breath was so light, and his slumber
was so calm, that he might have seemed dead, but for the rosy hue of
health that overspread his cheeks. No sound appeared at first to have
any effect upon his ear, though, while he lay beside the stream, a
wild, timid stag came rustling through the brushwood to drink of its
waters, and suddenly seeing a human thing amidst the solitude of the
forest, bounded quick away through the long glades of the wood. After
that, the leaves waved over him, and the wind played with the curls of
his hair for nearly half an hour, without any living creature
approaching to disturb his repose. At the end of that time, some
moving objects made their appearance at the most distant point of the
road that was visible, where it sunk over the hill. At first, all that
could be seen was a dark body moving forward down the descent,
enveloped in a cloud of dust; but, gradually, it separated into
distinct parts, and assumed the form of a party of armed horsemen.
Their number might be ten or twelve; and, by the slowness of their
motions, it seemed that they had already travelled far. More than
once, as they descended the slope, they paused, and appeared to gaze
over the country, as if either contemplating its beauty, or doubtful
of the road they ought to take. These pauses, however, always ended in
their resuming their way towards the spot which we have described.
When they at length reached it, they again drew the rein; and it
became evident, that uncertainty, with regard to their onward course,
had been the cause of their several halts upon the hill.

"By my faith, Sir Thibalt of Neufchatel," said one of the horsemen,
who rode a little in advance of the others, "for Marshal of Burgundy,
you know but little of your lord's dominions. By the Holy Virgin!
methinks that you are much better acquainted with every high-road and
by-path of my poor appanage of Dauphiny. At least, so the worthy
burghers of Vienne were wont to assert, when we would fain have
squeezed the double crowns out of their purses. It was then their
invariable reply, that the Marshal of Burgundy had been upon them with
his lances, and drained them as dry as hay: coming no one knew how,
and going no one knew where."

The man who spoke was yet not only in his prime, but in the early part
of that period of life which is called middle age. There was no
peculiar beauty in his countenance, nor in his person; there was
nothing, apparently, either to strike or to please. Yet it was
impossible to stand before him, and not to feel one's self--without
very well knowing why--in the presence of an extraordinary man. There
was in his deportment to be traced the evident habit of command. He
spoke, as if knowing his words were to be obeyed. But that was not
all; from underneath the overhanging penthouse of his thick eyebrows
shone forth two keen grey eyes, which had in them a prying,
inquisitive cunning, which seemed anxiously exerted to discover at
once the thoughts of those they gazed upon, before any veil, of the
many which man uses, could be drawn over motives or feelings, to
conceal them from that searching glance.

Those given to physiognomy might have gathered, from his high and
projecting, but narrow forehead, the indications of a keen and
observing mind, with but little imagination, superstition without
fancy, and talent without wit. The thin, compressed lips, the
naturally firm-set posture of the teeth, the curling line from the
nostril to the corner of the mouth, might have been construed to imply
a heart naturally cruel, which derived not less pleasure from
inflicting wounds by bitter words than from producing mere corporeal
pain. His dress, at this time of his life, was splendid to excess; and
the horse on which he rode showed the high blood that poured through
its veins, by a degree of fire and energy far superior to that
exhibited by the chargers of his companions, though the journey it had
performed was the same which had so wearied them.

As he spoke the words before detailed, he looked back to a gentleman,
who rode a step or two behind him on his right hand; and on his
countenance appeared, what he intended to be, a smile of frank,
good-humoured raillery. The natural expression of his features mingled
with it nevertheless, and gave it an air of sarcasm, which made the
bitter, perhaps, preponderate over the sweet.

The person to whom he addressed himself, however, listened with
respectful good humour. "In truth, my lord," he replied, "so little
have I dwelt in this part of the duke's dominions that I know my way
less than many a footboy. I once was acquainted with every rood of
ground between Brussels and Tirlemont; but, God be thanked, my memory
is short, and I have forgotten it all, as readily as I hope you, sir,
may forget certain marches in Dauphiny, made when Louis the Dauphin
was an enemy to Burgundy, instead of an honoured guest."

"They are forgotten, Lord Marshal, they are forgotten," replied the
Dauphin, afterwards famous as Louis XI.--"and can never more be
remembered but to show me how much more pleasant it is to have the
lord of Neufchatel for a friend rather than an enemy. But, in Heaven's
name," he added, changing the subject quickly, "before we go farther,
let us seek some one to show us the way, or let us halt our horses
here, and wait for the fat citizens of Ghent, whom we left on the
other side of the river."

His companion shook his head with a doubtful smile, as he replied, "It
would be difficult, I trow, to find any guide here, unless Saint
Hubert, or some other of the good saints, were to send us a white stag
with a collar of gold round his neck, to lead us safely home, as the
old legends tell us they used to do of yore."

"The saints have heard your prayer, my lord," cried one of the party
who had strayed a little to the left, but not so far as to be out of
hearing of the conversation which was passing between the other two;
"the saints have heard your prayer; and here is the white stag, in the
form of a fair boy in a green jerkin."

As he spoke, he pointed forward with his hand towards the little
cascade, where the boy, who had been sleeping by its side, had now
started up, awakened by the sound of voices, and of horses' feet, and
was gazing on the travellers, with anxious eyes, and with his hand
resting on his dagger.

"Why, how now, boy!" cried the Dauphin, spurring up towards the
stream. "Thinkest thou that we are Jews, or cut-throats, or wild men
of the woods, that thou clutchest thy knife so fearfully? Say, canst
thou tell how far we are from Tirlemont?"

The boy eyed the party for several moments ere he replied. "How should
I know whether you be cut-throats or not?" he said, at length; "I have
seen cut-throats in as fine clothes. How far is it from Tirlemont? As
far as it is from Liege or Namur."

"Then, by my troth, Sir Marshal," said the Dauphin, turning to his
companion, "our horses will never carry us thither this night. What is
to be done?"

"What is the nearest town or village, boy?" demanded the Marshal of
Burgundy. "If we be at equal distances from Namur and Liege and
Tirlemont, we cannot be far from Hannut."

"Hannut is the nearest place," answered the boy; "but it is two hours'
ride for a tired horse."

"We will try it, however," said the Marshal; and then added, turning
to the Dauphin, "the lord of the castle of Hannut, sir, though first
cousin of the bad Duke of Gueldres, is a noble gentleman as ever
lived; and I can promise you a fair reception. Though once a famous
soldier, he has long cast by the lance and casque; and, buried deep in
studies--which churchmen say are hardly over holy--he passes his whole
time in solitude, except when some ancient friend breaks in upon his
reveries. Such a liberty I may well take. Now, boy, tell us our road,
and there is a silver piece for thy pains."

The boy stooped not to raise the money which the Marshal threw towards
him, but replied eagerly, "If any one will take me on the croup behind
him, I will show you easily the way. Nay, I beseech you, noble lords,
take me with you; for I am wearied and alone, and I must lie in the
forest all night if you refuse me."

"But dost thou know the way well, my fair boy?" demanded the Dauphin,
approaching nearer, and stooping over his saddle-bow to speak to the
boy with an air of increasing kindness. "Thou art so young, methinks
thou scarce canst know all the turnings of a wood like this. Come, let
us hear if thy knowledge is equal to the task of guiding us?"

"That it is," answered the boy at once. "The road is as easy to find
as a heron's nest in a bare tree. One has nothing to do but to follow
on that road over the bridge, take the two first turnings to the
right, and then the next to the left, and at the end of a league more
the castle is in sight."

"Ay," said the Dauphin, "is it so easy as that? Then, by my faith, I
think we can find it ourselves. Come, Sir Marshall, come!" And, so
saying, he struck his spurs into his horse's sides, and cantered over
the bridge.

The Marshal of Burgundy looked back with a lingering glance of
compassion at the poor boy thus unfeelingly treated by his companion.
But, as the Prince dashed forward and waved his hand for him to
follow, he rode on also, though not without a muttered comment on the
conduct of the other, which might not have given great pleasure had it
been vented aloud. The whole train followed; and, left alone, the boy
stood silent, gazing on them as they departed, with a flushed cheek
and a curling lip. "Out upon the traitors!" he exclaimed, at length.
"All men are knaves; yet it is but little honour to their knavery, to
cheat a boy like me."

The train wound onward into the wood, and the last horseman was soon
hidden from his eyes; but the merry sound of laughing voices, borne by
the wind to his ear for some moments after they were out of sight,
spoke painfully how little interest they took in his feelings or

He listened till all was still, and then, seating himself on the bank
of the stream, gazed vacantly on the bubbling waters as they rushed
hurriedly by him; while the current of his own thoughts held as rapid
and disturbed a course. As memory after memory of many a painful scene
and sorrow--such as infancy has seldom known--came up before his
sight, his eyes filled, the tears rolled rapidly over his cheeks, and,
casting himself prostrate on the ground, he hid his face amongst the
long grass, and sobbed as if his heart would break.

He had not lain there long, however, when a heavy hand, laid firmly on
his shoulder, caused him once more to start up; and, though the figure
which stood by him when he did so, was not one whose aspect was very
prepossessing, yet it would be difficult to describe the sudden
lightning of joy that sparkled in his eyes through the tears with
which they still overflowed.

The person who had roused him from the prostrate despair in which he
had cast himself down, was a middle-sized, broad-made man, with long
sinewy arms, and a chest like that of a mountain-bull. He might be
nearly forty years of age; and his face, which had once been fair, a
fact which was vouched alone by his light brown hair, and clear blue
eye, had now reached a hue nearly approaching to the colour of
mahogany, by constant exposure to the summer's sun and the winter's
cold. There was in it, withal, an expression of daring hardihood,
softened and, as it were, purified by a frank, free, good-humoured
smile, which was not without a touch of droll humour. His garb at once
bespoke him one of those vagrant sons of Mars, with whom war, in some
shape, was a never-failing trade; a class of which we must speak more
hereafter, and which the abuses of the feudal system, the constant
feuds of chieftain with chieftain, and the long and desolating warfare
between France and England, had at that time rendered but too common
in every part of Europe. He was not, indeed, clothed from head to heel
in cold iron, as was customary with the knight or man-at-arms when
ready for the field; but there was quite a sufficient portion of old
steel about his person, in the form of arms both offensive and
defensive, to show that hard blows were the principal merchandise in
which he traded.

He laid his large hairy hand, as I have said, firmly and familiarly on
the boy's shoulder; and the expression of the young wanderer's
countenance, when he started up, and beheld the person who stood near
him, at once showed, not only that they were old acquaintances, but
that their meeting was both unexpected and joyful.

"Matthew Gournay!" exclaimed the boy, "good Matthew Gournay, is it
you, indeed? Oh, why did you not come before? With your fifty good
lances, we might yet have held the castle out, till we were joined by
the troops from Utrecht; but now all is lost, the castle taken, and my

"I know it all, Master Hugh," interrupted the soldier; "I know it all
better than the paternoster. Bad news flies faster than a swallow; so
I know it all, and a good deal more than you yourself know. You ask,
why I did not come too. By our Lady! for the simplest reason in the
world--because I could not. I was lying like an old rat in a trap,
with four stone walls all round about me, in the good city of Liege.
Duke Philip heard of the haste I was making to give you help, and
cogged with the old bishop--may his skull be broken!--to send out a
couple of hundred reiters to intercept us on our march. What would you
have? We fought like devils, but we were taken at a disadvantage, by a
superior force. All my gallant fellows were killed or dispersed; and
at last, finding my back against a rock, with six spears at my breast,
and not loving the look of such a kind of toasting-fork, I agreed to
take lodging in the town prison of Liege."

"But how got you out, then!" demanded the boy; "did they free you for

"Not they," replied Matthew Gournay: "they gave me cold water and hard
bread, and vowed every day to stick my head upon the gate of the town,
_as a terror to all marauders_, as they said. But the fools showed
themselves rank burghers, by leaving me my arms; and I soon found
means to get the iron bars out of the windows, ventured a leap of
thirty feet, swam the ditch, climbed the wall, and here I am in the
forest of Hannut. But not alone, Master Hugh. I have got a part of my
old comrades together already, and hope soon to have a better band
than ever. The old seneschal, too, from the castle, is with us, and
from him we heard all the bad news. But, though he talked of murder
and putting to death, and flaying alive, and vowed that everybody in
the castle had been killed but himself, I got an inkling from the old
charcoal-burner's wife, at the hut in the wood, of how you had
escaped, and whither you had gone. So, thinking, as you were on foot
and alone, that you might want help and a horse, I tracked you like a
deer to this place: for your father was always a good friend to me in
the time of need; and I will stand by you, Master Hugh, while I have a
hand for my sword, or a sword for my hand."

"Hark!" cried the boy, almost as the other spoke; "there's a bugle on
the hill! It must be the duke's butchers following me."

"A bugle!" cried the soldier; "a cow's-horn blown by a sow-driver, you
mean. None of the duke's bugles ever blew a blast like that, something
between the groaning of a blacksmith's bellows and the grunting of a
hog. But there they are," he continued, "sure enough, lances and all,
as I live. We must to cover, Hugh, we must to cover! Quick--thy hand,
boy--they are coming down, straggling like fallow deer!"

So saying, Matthew Gournay sprang up the high bank, in falling over
which the little stream formed the cascade we have noticed; and, as he
climbed the rock himself, he assisted, or rather dragged up after him,
his young companion, whose hand he held locked in his own, with a
grasp which no slight weight could have unbent.

For a moment, they paused on the top of the crag, to take another look
at the approaching party, and then plunged into the long shrubs and
tangled brushwood that clothed the sides of the winding glen, down
which the stream wandered previous to its fall.


The party, whose approach had interrupted the conversation of Matthew
Gournay and his young companion, were not long before they reached the
little open spot in the forest, from which they had scared the other
two; and, as it was at that point that their road first fell in with
the stream, they paused for a moment, to water their horses ere they
proceeded. Their appearance and demeanour corresponded well with the
peculiar sound of the horn which they had blown upon the hill; for
though the instrument which announced their approach was martial in
itself, yet the sounds which they produced from it were anything but
military; and though swords and lances, casques and breastplates, were
to be seen in profusion amongst them, there was scarcely one of the
party who had not a certain burgher rotundity of figure, or negligence
of gait, far more in harmony with furred gowns and caps _à la mortier_
than with war-steeds and glittering arms.

The first, who paused beside the stream, had nearly been thrown over
his horse's head, by the animal suddenly bending his neck to drink;
and it was long before the rider could sufficiently compose himself
again in the saddle, to proceed with some tale which he had been
telling to one of his companions, who urged him to make an end of his
story, with an eagerness which seemed to show that the matter was one
of great interest to him at least.

"Well-a-day, Master Nicholas, well-a-day!" cried the discomposed
horseman, "let me but settle myself on my stool--saddle, I mean. God
forgive me! but this cursed beast has pulled the bridle out of my
hands. So ho! Bernard, so ho!--there, there, surely thou couldst drink
without bending thy head so low."

While he thus spoke, by a slow and cautious movement--not unlike that
with which a child approaches a sparrow, to perform the difficult task
of throwing salt upon its tail--he regained a grasp of the bridle-rein
which the horse had twitched out of his hand, and then went on with
his story, interrupting it, however, every now and then, to address
sundry admonitions to his horse, somewhat in the following style:--

"Well, where was I, worthy Master Nicholas? I was saying--so ho!
beast! The devil's in thee, thou wilt have me into the river. I was
saying that, after the castle was taken, and every soul put to the
sword, even the poor boy, Hugh,--for which last, I hear, the duke is
very much grieved,--be quiet, Bernard, hold up thy head!--Count
Adolphus himself fled away by a postern-door, and is now a prisoner

"Nay, but, Master Martin, you said they were all put to death,"
interrupted one of his companions.

"Remember what the doctors say," replied the other; "namely, that
there is no general rule without its exception. They were all killed
but those that ran away, which were only Count Adolphus and his horse,
who got away together, the one upon the other. Fool that he was to
trust himself upon a horse's back! It was his ruin, alack! it was his

"How so?" demanded Master Nicholas; "did the horse throw him and break
his pate? Methought you said, but now, that he was alive and a

"And I said truly, too," answered the other. "Nevertheless, his
mounting that horse was the cause of his ruin; for though he got off
quietly enough, yet, at the bridge below Namur--where, if he had had
no horse, he would have passed free--he was obliged to stop to pay
pontage[1] for his beast. A priest, who was talking with the toll-man,
knew him; and he was taken on the spot, and cast into prison."

"Methinks it was more the priest's fault than the horse's, then,"
replied Master Nicholas; "but whoever it was that betrayed him, bad
was the turn they did to the city of Ghent; for, what with his aid,
and that of the good folks of Gueldres, and the worthy burghers of
Utrecht, we might have held the proud duke at bay, and wrung our
rights from him drop by drop, like water from a sponge."

"God knows, God knows!" replied Martin Fruse, the burgher of Ghent, to
whom this was addressed; "God knows! it is a fine thing to have one's
rights, surely; but, somehow, I thought we were very comfortable and
happy in the good old city, before there was any quarrel about rights
at all. Well I know, we have never been happy since; and I have been
forced to ride on horseback by the week together; for which sin, my
flesh and skin do daily penance, as the chirurgeons of Namur could
vouch if they would. Nevertheless, one must be patriotic, and all
that, so I would not grumble, if this beast would but give over
drinking, which I think he will not do before he or I drop down dead.
Here, horse-boy, come and pluck his nose out of the pool; for I cannot
move him more than I could the town-house."

The worthy burgher was soon relieved from his embarrassments; and his
horse being once more put upon the road, he led the way onward,
followed by the rest of the party, with their servants and attendants.
The place of leader was evidently conceded to good Martin Fruse; but
this distinction was probably assigned to him, more on account of his
wealth and integrity, than from the possession of fine wit, great
sense, energetic activity, or any other requisite for a popular
leader. He was, in truth, a worthy, honest man, somewhat easily
persuaded, especially where his general vanity, and, more
particularly, his own opinion of his powers as a politician, were
brought into play: but his mind was neither very vigorous nor acute;
though sometimes an innate sense of rectitude, and a hatred of
injustice, would lend energy to his actions, and eloquence to his

Amongst those who followed him, however, were two or three spirits of
a higher order; who, without his purity of motives, or kindly
disposition, possessed far greater talents, activity, and vigour.
Nevertheless, turbulent by disposition and by habit, few of the
burghers of Ghent, at that time, possessed any very grand and general
views, whether directed to the assertion of the liberties and rights
of their country, or to the gratification of personal ambition. They
contented themselves with occasional tumults, or with temporary
alliances with the other states and cities in the low countries, few
of which rested long without being in open rebellion against their

One of the party, however, which accompanied good Martin Fruse must
not pass unmentioned; for, at that time acting no prominent part, he
exerted considerable influence, in after days, on the fortunes of
his country. He was, at the period I speak of, a bold, brave,
high-spirited boy; by no means unlike the one we have seen sleeping by
the cascade, though perhaps two or three years older. He was strong
and well proportioned for his age, and rode a wild young jennet, which
though full of fire, he managed with perfect ease. There was
something, indeed, in the manner in which he excited the horse into
fury, gave it the rein, and let it dash free past all his companions,
as if it had become perfectly ungovernable; and then, without
difficulty, reined it up with a smile of triumph, which gave no bad
picture of a mind conscious of powers of command, ambitious of their
exercise, and fearless of the result. How this character of mind
became afterwards modified by circumstances, will be shown more fully
in the following pages.

In the meanwhile, we must proceed with the train of burghers as they
rode on through the wood; concerting various plans amongst themselves,
for concealing from the Duke of Burgundy the extent of their intrigues
with Adolphus of Gueldres and the revolted citizens of Utrecht, for
excusing themselves on those points which had reached his knowledge,
and for assuaging his anger by presents and submission. The first
thing to be done, before presenting themselves at his court, was, of
course, to strip themselves of the warlike habiliments in which they
had flaunted, while entertaining hopes of a successful revolt. For
this purpose, they proposed to avoid the high road either to Brussels
or Louvain; and as most of them were well acquainted with the country
through which they had to pass, they turned to the left, after having
proceeded about a mile farther on their way, and put spurs to their
horses, in order to get out of the forest before nightfall, which was
now fast approaching.

The way was difficult, however, and full of large ruts and stones, in
some places overgrown with briers, in some places interrupted by deep
ravines. Here, it would go down so steep a descent, that slowness of
progression was absolutely necessary to the safety of their necks;
there, it would climb so deep a hill, that whip and spur were applied
to increase the speed of their beasts in vain.

As they thus journeyed on, making but little way, the bright rosy hue
which tinged the clouds above their heads showed that the sun was
sinking beneath the horizon's edge: the red, after growing deeper and
deeper for some time, began to fade away into the grey; each moment
the light became fainter and more faint; and, at length, while they
had yet at least three miles of forest ground to traverse, night fell
completely over the earth.

The darkness, however, was not so deep as in any degree to prevent
them from finding their way onward, or from distinguishing the objects
round about them, although it lent a mysterious sort of grandeur to
the deep masses and long dim glades of the forest, made the rocks look
like towers and castles, and converted many a tree, to the eyes of the
more timid, into the form of an armed man.

After having gone on in this state for about half an hour--just a
sufficient time, indeed, to work up every sort of apprehension to the
utmost, yet not long enough to familiarize the travellers with the
darkness, and when every one was calling to mind all the thousand
stories--which were, in those days, alas! too true ones--of robbers,
and murderers, and free plunderers--the whole party plunged down into
a deep dell, the aspect of which was not at all calculated to assuage
their terrors, whether reasonable or foolish. Not, indeed, that it was
more gloomy than the road through which they had been lately
travelling; rather, on the contrary. Whatever degree of light yet
remained in the heavens found its way more readily into that valley,
where the trees were less high, and at greater intervals from each
other, than into the narrow road which had led them thither, the high
banks of which were lined all the way along with tall and overhanging
beeches. The sort of dingle, however, which they now entered, was
clothed with low but thick shrubs; and no means of egress whatever
appeared, except by climbing some of the steep ascents which
surrounded it on every side.

There was a small piece of level ground at the bottom, of about a
hundred yards in diameter; and the moment they had reached the flat,
the word "Halt!" pronounced in a loud and imperative voice, caused
every one suddenly to draw his bridle rein with somewhat timid
obedience, though no one distinguished who was the speaker.

The matter was not left long in doubt. A dark figure glided from the
brushwood across their path; half a dozen more followed; and the
glistening of the faint light upon various pieces of polished iron,
showed that there was no lack of arms to compel obedience to the
peremptory order they had received to halt.

As the persons who obstructed the way, however, seemed but few in
number, one of the more bellicose of the burghers called upon his
companions to resist. His magnanimity was suddenly diminished by a
long arm stretched from the bushes beside him, which applied the
stroke of a quarter-staff with full force to his shoulders; and though
a cuirass, by which his person was defended, protected him from any
serious injury, yet he was thrown forward upon his horse's neck, with
a sound very much resembling that produced by the falling of an empty
kettle from the hands of a slovenly cook. All were now of opinion,
that, whatever might have been the result of resistance to the more
open foes before them, it was useless to contend with such invisible
enemies also, especially as those that were visible were gradually
increasing in numbers; and worthy Martin Fruse led the way to a
valorous surrender, by begging the gentlemen of the forest "to spare
them for God's sake."

"Down from your horses, every one of you!" cried the rough voice which
had commanded them to halt, "and we shall soon see what stuff you are
made of."

The citizens hastened to obey; and, in the terror which now reigned
completely amongst them, strange were the attitudes which they
assumed, and strange was the tumbling off, on either side of their
beasts, as they hurried to show prompt submission to the imperious
command they had received. In the confusion and disarray thus
produced, only one person of all their party seemed to retain full
command of his senses; and he was no other than the boy we have before
described, who, now taking advantage of a vacancy he saw in the ranks
of their opponents, dashed forward for a gap in the wood, and had
nearly effected his escape. He was too late, however, by a single
moment: his bridle was caught by a strong arm, before he could force
his way through; and his light jennet, thrown suddenly upon its
haunches, slipped on the green turf, and rolled with her young master
on the ground.

"By my faith," said the man who had thus circumvented him, "thou art a
bold young springal; but thou must back with me, my boy;" and so
saying, he raised him, not unkindly, from the earth, and led him to
the place where his companions stood.

The burghers and their attendants--in all, about ten in number--were
now divested of their arms, offensive and defensive, by the nameless
kind of gentry into whose hands they had fallen. This unpleasant
ceremony, however, was performed without harshness; and, though, no
resistance of any kind was offered, their captors abstained, with very
miraculous forbearance, from examining the contents of their pouches,
and from searching for any other metal than cold iron. When all this
was completed, and the good citizens of Ghent, reduced to their hose
and jerkins, stood passive, in silent expectation of what was to come
next--not at all unlike a flock of sheep that a shepherd's dog has
driven into a corner of a field,--the same hoarse-voiced gentleman,
who had hitherto acted as the leader of their assailants, addressed
them in a bantering tone:--"Now, my masters, tell me truly," he cried,
"whether do ye covet to go with your hands and feet at liberty, or to
have your wrists tied with cords till the blood starts out from
underneath your nails, and your ankles garnished in the same fashion?"

The answer of the citizens may well be conceived; and the other went
on in the same jeering manner:--"Well, then, swear to me by all you
hold holy and dear--but stay! First tell me who and what you are, that
I may frame the oath discreetly; for each man in this world holds holy
and dear that which his neighbour holds foolish and cheap."

"We are poor unhappy burghers of Ghent," replied Martin Fruse, who,
though at first he had been terrified to a very undignified degree,
now began to recover a certain portion of composure,--"we are poor
unhappy burghers of Ghent, who have been induced by vain hopes of some
small profit to ourselves and our good city, to get upon horseback.
Alack! and a well-a-day! that ever honest, sober-minded men should be
persuaded to trust their legs across such galloping, uncertain,
treacherous beasts."

"Ha! ha! ha!" shouted the man who had addressed him; "as I live by
sword and dagger, it is good Martin Fruse coming from Namur. Well,
Martin, the oath I shall put to thee is this--that by all thy hopes of
golden florins, by all thy reverence for silks and furs and cloths of
extra fineness, by thy gratitude to the shuttle and the loom, and by
thy respect and love for a fine fleece of English wool, thou wilt not
attempt to escape from my hands, till I fix thy ransom and give thee
leave to go."

Martin Fruse very readily took the oath prescribed, grateful in his
heart for any mitigation of his fears, though trembling somewhat at
the name of ransom, which augured ill for the glittering heaps which
he had left at home. His comrades all followed his example, on an oath
of the same kind being exacted from each; but when it was addressed to
the youth who accompanied them, a different scene was acted. He
replied boldly, "Of cloths and furs I know nothing, but that they
cover me, and I will not take such a warehouse vow for the best man
that ever drew a sword."

"How now, how now, Sir Princox!" cried Martin Fruse; "art thou not my
nephew, Albert Maurice? Take the oath this gentleman offers thee,
sirrah, and be well content that he does not strike off thy young
foolish head."

"I will swear by my honour, uncle," replied the boy, "but I will never
swear by cloth and florins, for such a vow would bind me but little."

"Well, well, thy honour will do," said the leader of their captors;
"though, by my faith, I think we must keep thee with us, and make a
soldier of thee; for doubtless thou art unworthy of the high honour of
becoming a burgher of Ghent."

The sneering tone in which this was spoken expressed not ill the
general feeling of contempt with which the soldiers of that day looked
upon any of the milder occupations of life. Whatever kindness they
showed towards the citizen--which was at times considerable--proceeded
solely from sensations approaching compassion, or from considerations
of self-interest. They looked upon the burgher, indeed, as a sort of
inferior animal, whose helplessness gave it some claim upon their
generosity; and such was probably the feeling that prompted the mild
and indulgent manner in which the body of roving adventurers who had
captured the Gandois travellers, marshalled their prisoners in rank,
and led them away from the high road--where, though improbable, such a
thing as an interruption might accidentally have taken place--to the
deeper parts of the forest, in which silence and solitude seemed to
reign supreme.

This part of the arrangement, however, was not at all to the taste of
good Martin Fruse; and though he certainly did not venture any
opposition, yet, while led along, together with his companions, by
fifteen or sixteen armed and lawless men, it was with fear and
trembling that he rolled his eyes around upon the dark and dreary
masses of wood, down the long profound glades, in which nothing was to
be distinguished, and over the wild and broken rocks, which every now
and then burst through their covering of trees and shrubs, and
towering up into the sky, caught upon their brows the first rays of
the rising moon, invisible to those who wandered through the forest at
their foot.

The scene was altogether a great deal too sublime and picturesque for
his taste; and he could not help thinking, as he walked unwillingly
along, how admirably fitted was the place, into which he was led, for
committing murder, without fear of discovery. Then would he picture to
his own mind, his body left exposed beneath the greenwood trees, to be
preyed on by the ravens, and beaten by the wintry showers; and his
heart would melt with tender compassion for himself, when he thought,
how all his good gossips of Ghent would, in years to come, tell the
lamentable story of worthy Martin Fruse, and how he was murdered in
the forest of Hannut, to the wondering ears of a chance guest, over a
blazing fire, in the midst of the cold winter.

He had nearly wept at the pitiful images he had called up of his own
fate, in his own mind; but, before he reached that point, a distant
neighing met his ear. The horses on which he and his companions had
ridden, and which were led after them by their captors, caught the
sound also, and answered in the same sort; and in a few minutes more,
a bright light began to gleam through the wood, which proved, on their
farther advance, to proceed from a watch-fire, by the side of which a
bird of the same feather with those who had captured them, was lying
asleep. He started up, however, on their approach; and by the
congratulations which passed mutually between him and his comrades, it
became evident to Martin Fruse, that a party of citizens of Ghent was
a rich prize in the eyes of the freemen of the forest. It is true that
he would rather have had his worth appreciated in a different manner;
but the sight of the fire cheered his heart, and a sumpter horse,
which the good burghers had brought with them, being led forward and
relieved of its burden, the various stores of provision with which it
was loaded were spread out upon the grass, and called up more genial
ideas in the mind of the citizen than those which had hitherto
accompanied him on his way through the forest. The pleasures of this
new subject of contemplation, indeed, were for a few minutes
disturbed, by apprehension lest the captors should proceed to divide
the spoil of the panniers, without assigning any part to the original
proprietors. But this source of uneasiness was soon removed; and, on
being made to sit down by the fire, and invited frankly and freely to
partake of all the good things once his own, the heart of Martin Fruse
expanded with joy, the character of robber acquired a dignity and
elevation in his eyes which it had never before possessed; and
deriving from fat cold capon and excellent wine both present
satisfaction and anticipations of future good treatment, he gave
himself up to joy, and began to gaze round upon the faces of his new
comrades with every inclination to be pleased.


Leaving the worthy burgher and his companions in the forest, we must
change the scene for a while, and bring the reader into the interior
of one of the feudal mansions of the period. The room into which we
intend to introduce him was small in size; and, being placed in a
high, square tower, attached to the castle of Hannut, it took the
exact form of the building, except inasmuch as a portion was taken off
the western side, for the purpose of admitting a staircase, on which,
indeed, no great space was thrown away. The furniture of the room was
small in quantity, and consisted of a few large chairs of dark black
oak, (whose upright backs of almost gigantic height were carved in a
thousand quaint devices) together with two or three settles or stools,
without any backs at all, a silver lamp, hanging by a thick brass
chain from the centre of a roof, formed into the shape of a tent by
the meeting of a number of grooved arches, and a small black cabinet,
or closet, one of the doors of which stood open, displaying within, in
splendid bindings of crimson velvet, what might in that day have been
considered a most precious library, comprising about forty tomes of

Besides being decorated by these articles of furniture, the room was
adorned with fine hangings of old tapestry; but the principal object
in the whole chamber was a table and reading-desk of some dark
coloured wood, on which were displayed, wide open, the broad vellum
leaves of a richly illuminated book. The table, and its burden, were
placed exactly beneath the silver lamp already mentioned, which threw
a strong but flickering light upon the pages of the work; and a chair
which stood near seemed to show that somebody had recently been

The person who had been so employed, however, had by this time ceased;
and having risen from his seat, was standing beside an open casement,
pierced through the thick walls at such a height from the floor, as
just to enable him to lean his arm upon the sill of the window, and
gaze out upon the scene beyond.

Through this open casement, at the time I speak of, the bright stars
of a clear autumn night might be seen twinkling like diamonds in the
unclouded sky; the sweet, warm westerly wind, breathing of peace and
harvest from the plains beyond, sighed over the tops of the tall
forest trees, and poured into the window just raised above them; and
some faint streaks of light to the west told that day had not long
departed. The person who gazed over the wide expanse commanded by the
tower, was a tall, strong man, of perhaps a little more than forty
years of age, with a forehead somewhat bald, and hair which had once
been black, but which was now mingled thickly with grey; while his
beard, which was short and neatly trimmed, had become almost white.
His complexion was of a pale, clear brown, without a tinge of red in
any part except his lips; and, as he gazed out upon the sky, there was
a still calm spread over every feature, which, together with the
bloodless hue of his skin, would have made his countenance look like
that of the dead, had not the light of his large deep brown eye told
of a bright and living soul within. We must take leave to look for a
moment into his bosom as he stood in his lonely study, gazing forth
upon the sky.

"And are those clear orbs," he thought, as with his glance fixed upon
the heavens he saw star after star shine forth, "and are those bright
orbs really the mystic prophets of our future fate? Is yon the book on
which the Almighty hand has written in characters of light the
foreseen history of the world he has created? It may be so: nay,
probably it is; and yet how little do we know of this earth that we
inhabit, and of yon deep blue vault that circles us around. The
peasant, when he hears of my lonely studies, endues my mind, in his
rude fancy, with power over the invisible world, and all the troops of
spirits that possibly throng the very air we breathe; and kings and
princes themselves send to seek knowledge and advice from my lips,
while I could answer to peasant and to king, that all my powers do not
suffice to lay the spirit of past happiness from rising before my
eyes, and all my knowledge does not reach to find that sovereign
elixir--consolation for the fate of man. All that I have learned
teaches me but to know that I have learned nothing; to feel that
science, and philosophy, and wisdom are in vain; and that, hidden
mysteriously within the bosom of this mortal clay, is some fine
essence, some distinct being, which, while it participates in the
pleasures and affections of the earthly thing in which it lies
concealed, thirsts for knowledge beyond the knowledge of this world,
and yearns for joys more pure, and loves more unperishable than the
loves and joys of this earth can ever be. Oh! thou dear spirit, that
in the years past I have seen look forth upon me from the eyes of her
new gone; surely, if ever the immortal being came back to visit the
earth on which it once moved, thou wouldst not have left me so long to
solitude. No, no," he added aloud, "it is all a dream!

"And yet," he thought, after a pause, "the powers with which the
vulgar mind invests me are not all in vain: they give me at least
corporeal peace; repose from all the turbulent follies; the wild
whirling nothings, which men call pleasure, or business, or policy;
more empty, more unimportant, in relation to the grand universe, than
the dancing of the myriad motes in the sunshine of a summer's day.
They give me peace--repose. I am no longer called upon, with an ash
staff, or bar of sharpened iron, to smite the breast of my fellow-men,
in some mad prince's quarrel. I am no longer called upon to take
counsel with a crowd of grey-beard fools, in order to steal a few
roods of dull heavy soil from the dominions of some neighbouring king.
No, no; the very superstitious dread in which they hold me gives me
peace; ay, and even power; that phantom folly of which they are all so
fond; and be it far from me to undeceive them."

Thus thought the Lord of Hannut; and, like most men, in some degree he
cheated himself in regard to his own motives. Doubtless, the
predominating feelings of his heart were such as he believed them to
be. But, besides those motives on which he suffered his mind to rest,
there mingled with the causes of his conduct small portions of the
more ordinary desires and passions which minds of a very elevated tone
are anxious to conceal even from themselves. Learned beyond any one,
perhaps, of his age and country, the Lord of Hannut was not a little
proud of his knowledge; but when we remember the darkness of the times
in which he lived, we shall not wonder that such learning tended but
little to enlighten his mind upon the deep and mysterious subjects,
which the height of human knowledge has but discovered to be beyond
its ken. Judicial astrology, in that day, was held as a science, of
the accuracy of which, ignorance alone could be permitted to doubt;
and the belief that a superhuman agency was not only continually but
visibly at work in the general affairs of this world, was both a point
of faith with the vulgar, and a point admitted by many of the most
scientific. Magic and necromancy were looked upon as sciences. In vain
Friar Bacon had written an elaborate treatise to prove their nullity:
he himself was cited as an instance of their existence; and many of
the most learned were only deterred from following them openly, by the
fear of those consequences which rendered their private pursuit more
interesting from the degree of danger that accompanied it.

Although magic, properly so called, formed no part of his studies, the
reputation of dabbling in that imaginary science was not disagreeable
to the Lord of Hannut; nor was it alone the desire of obtaining peace
and repose, which rendered the awe not unpleasing, wherewith both the
peasantry of the neighbourhood, and his fellow nobles throughout the
land regarded him; but, mingling imperceptibly with the current of
other feelings, gratified vanity had its share also. Nor, indeed,
though he affected to despise the world and the world's power, did the
influence that he exercised upon that world displease him. Perhaps,
too, that influence might be the more gratifying, because it was of an
uncommon kind; and though, doubtless, true philosophy, and a just
estimate of the emptiness of this earth's pleasures and desires, might
have a considerable share in the distant solitude which he maintained,
the pride of superior knowledge had its portion, too, of the contempt
with which he looked upon the generality of beings like himself. Much
true benevolence of heart and susceptibility of feeling, with a
considerable degree of imaginative enthusiasm, were, in fact, the
principal features of his character; yet his reasoning powers also
were strong and clear, and very superior to those of most men in the
age in which he lived; but as we sometimes see, these various
qualities of his mind and heart rather contended against than balanced
each other.

In his early youth, the enthusiasm and the susceptibility had ruled
almost alone. The din of arms, the tumult of conflicting hosts, the
pomp and pageant of the listed field, all had charms for him. The
natural strength of his frame, and the skill and dexterity given by
early education, had made many of the best knights in Europe go down
before his lance, and had obtained for him that degree of glory and
applause which in those days was sure to follow and encourage feats of
arms, and which might have kept him for life one of the rude but
gallant champions of the day. But then came love--love of that deep,
powerful, engrossing nature, which a heart such as his was alone
capable of feeling. The cup of happiness was given to his lip but for
a moment; he was suffered to drink, one deep, short draught; and, when
he had tasted all its sweetness, it was dashed from his hand, never to
be filled again. From that moment his life had passed in solitude, and
his days and nights had been occupied by study: nor had he above once,
for more than twelve years, passed the limits of that forest, over
which his eyes were now cast.

As he leaned upon the window-sill, and gazed out upon the sky,
pondering over the strange mystery of man's being, and the lot which
fate had cast him, the last faint lingering rays of twilight were
withdrawn from the air, and night fell upon one half of the world; but
it was one of those bright, clear, splendid nights, which often come
in the beginning of autumn, as if the heavens loved to look, with all
their thousand eyes, upon the rich harvest and the glowing fruit.
After he had gazed for some time, the eastern edge of the heavens
began to grow lighter, and the clear yellow moon, waxing near her
full, rose up, and poured a tide of golden light over the immense
extent of green leaves and waving boughs spread out beneath his eyes.
All was still, and solemn, and silent, and full of calm splendour, and
tranquil brightness. There there was not a sound, there was not a
motion, except the slow gliding of the beautiful planet up the arch of
heaven, and the whispering of the light wind, as it breathed through
the boughs of the trees.

Suddenly, however, a dull, faint noise was heard at some distance;
which went on increasing slowly, till the sound of horses' feet could
be distinguished, broken occasionally by the tones of a human voice,
speaking a few words of order or inquiry. The Lord of Hannut listened,
and when the horsemen came nearer, he gathered, from an occasional
sentence, spoken as they wound round the foot of the tower in which he
was standing, that the party were directing their course to the gates
of his own dwelling. His brow became slightly clouded; and though
hospitality was a duty at that time never neglected, yet so rarely was
he visited by strangers, and so little did he court society, that he
paused somewhat anxiously to think of how he might best receive them.
To throw the gates of a castle open to all comers, was not, indeed, at
all safe in those days; and though the Lord of Hannut was, at that
time, at feud with no one, and though his personal character, the
strength of his castle, and the number of his retainers, secured him
against the free companions and plunderers of the times, it was not,
of course, without pause and examination, that any large body of men
were to be admitted within the walls at such an hour of the night. He
remained, however, musing somewhat abstractedly, till the horsemen,
whom he had heard below, had wound along the road, which, following
the various sinuosities of the walls and defences of the castle,
skirted the brow of the hill on which it stood, and was only
interrupted by the gate of the barbacan on the northern side of the

Before it the travellers paused; and the sound of a horn winded long
and clearly, gave notice to denizens of the castle that admittance was
demanded by some one without. Still the master of the mansion remained
in thought, leaving to the prudence and discretion of his seneschal
the task of receiving and answering the travellers; and the sound of a
falling drawbridge, with the creaking of its beams, and the clanging
and clash of its rusty chains, followed by the clatter of horses' feet
in the court-yard, soon announced that a considerable number of
cavaliers had obtained admission. Many voices speaking were next
heard, and then, after a pause of comparative silence, a slow step
echoed up the long hollow staircase, which led to the chamber we have
already described. At that sound the Lord of Hannut withdrew from the
window, and seating himself before the book in which he had been
lately reading, fixed his eyes upon the door. There might be a slight
touch of stage effect in it--but no matter--what is there on this
earth without its quackery?

Scarcely had he done so, when some one knocked without, and, on
being desired to come in, presented, at the half-opened door, the
weather-beaten face of an old soldier, who acted the part of
seneschal, bearing a look of apprehension, which sat ill upon features
that seemed originally destined to express anything but fear.

"Come in, Roger, come in!" cried the Lord of Hannut. "Art thou fool
enough, too, to think that I deal with evil spirits?"

"God forbid, my lord!" replied the man. "But ill should I like to see
a spirit of any kind, good or evil; and, therefore, I always like to
have the room clear before I intrude."

"Well, what would you now?" demanded his lord, with somewhat of
impatience in his manner. "Wherefore do you disturb me?"

"So please you, sir," replied the seneschal, "a noble traveller just
alighted in the court below, with a small but gallant train,
consisting of----"

"On with thy tale, good Roger!" interrupted his master. "What of the
traveller? Leave his train to speak for themselves hereafter."

"So please you, my lord," continued the other, "he bade me tell you
that an old tried friend, Thibalt of Neufchatel, craved your
hospitality for a single night."

"Thibalt of Neufchatel!" exclaimed the other, his face brightening for
a moment with a transitory expression of pleasure, and then turning
deadly pale, as the magic of memory, by the spell of that single name,
called up the scenes of the painful past with which that name was
connected. "Thibalt of Neufchatel! an old tried friend, indeed! though
sad was the day of our last meeting. Where is he? Lead the way!"

Thus saying, the Lord of Hannut, without waiting for the guidance of
his seneschal, proceeded, with a rapid step, towards the great hall of
the castle, concluding, as was really the case, that into that place
of general reception the travellers had been shown on their arrival.
It was an immense gloomy apartment, paved with stone, occupying the
whole interior space at the bottom of the chief tower. At one end was
the great door, which opened at once into the court; and at the other
was a high pointed window, not unlike that of a cathedral. Arms, of
every kind then in use, decorated the walls in profusion. On the right
side, as you entered from the court, was the wide open hearth, with
stools and benches round about; and so wide and cool was the chamber,
that at the time I speak of--though a night in the early part of
September--an immense pile of blazing logs sparkled and hissed in the
midst, casting a red and flickering glare around, which, catching on
many a lance, and shield, and suit of armour on the opposite wall,
lost itself in the gloom at either end of the hall, and in the deep
hollow of the vault above.

A cresset--hung by a chain from the centre of the roof--added a degree
of light, which, however, was confined to the part of the hall in the
immediate vicinity of the lamp; and, within its influence,
disencumbering themselves of some of the habiliments of the road, were
seated the party of travellers just arrived, at the moment that the
Lord of Hannut entered. He came in by a small door behind one of the
massy pillars which supported the vault, and advanced at once towards
his guests. The sound of his footstep caused them all to rise, but the
Marshal of Burgundy immediately advanced before the rest to meet his
friend. When within a few steps of each other, both stopped, and
looked with a countenance of doubt and surprise on the face of the
other. Each had forgotten that many years had passed since they last
met, and each had pictured to himself the image of his friend as he
had before seen him, in the pride of youth and health; but, when the
reality was presented to them, both paused in astonishment to gaze
upon the effects of Time's tremendous power, which they mutually
presented to each other. Nor was their surprise at first unmingled
with some degree of doubt as to the identity of the person before them
with the friend from whom they had so long been separated.

"Good God!" exclaimed the Lord of Hannut, "Thibault of Neufchatel!"

"Even so, Maurice of Hannut!" replied the Marshal. "Good faith, old
friend, I scarcely should have known thee. But more of this
hereafter," he added, hastily. "See, here is a mighty prince, the Lord
Louis of Valois, who demands thy care and hospitality for this night,
as under my safe conduct, he journeys to visit his noble cousin, our
sovereign, the Duke of Burgundy."

The Lord of Hannut bowed low at this intimation of the high quality of
one of his guests, and proceeded to welcome the son of the reigning
monarch of France, with that grave and stately dignity which the early
habits of the court and camp had given to his demeanour. The forms and
ceremonies of that day, which would be found dull enough even to
practise at present, would appear still duller in writing than they
would be in act; and, therefore, passing over all the points of
etiquette which were observed in the reception and entertainment of
the Dauphin, the supper that was laid before him, and the spiced wines
that were offered him at his bedside, we will continue for a moment in
the great hall, which, after he retired to rest, remained occupied by
the few attendants who had accompanied himself and the Marshal of
Burgundy thither, and by the usual servants and officers of the Lord
of Hannut.

The presence of their superiors had restrained for a time all free
communication amongst these worthy personages; but, between the squire
of the body to the Marshal of Burgundy, and the seneschal of the Lord
of Hannut, had passed many a glance of recognition, and a friendly,
though silent, pinch of the arm during supper; and no sooner was Louis
of Valois safely housed in his chamber, and his companion, the Lord of
Neufchatel, closeted with the master of the mansion, than a
conversation commenced between two of the followers, a part of which
must be here put down as illustrative of those past events, which, in
some degree, however slight, affect the course of this true history.

"What, Roger de Lorens!" cried the squire of the Marshal, "still
hanging to the skirts of thy old lord? Do I find thee here at the end
of twelve long years?"

"And where could I be better, Regnault of Gand?" replied the other.
"But thou thyself, old friend, art thou not at the same skirts too as
when last I saw thee? How is it, that after such long service thou art
not yet a knight?"

"Why, in good faith, then," replied the squire, "it is that I am too
poor to do honour to knighthood, and too wise to covet a state that I
have not the means to hold. I have made money in the wars on an
occasion too, like my neighbours; but, alack, friend Roger, no sooner
does the right hand put the money in, than the left hand filches it
out again. And is it, then, really twelve long years since we met?
Lord, Lord! it looks but yesterday, when I think of those times; and
yet when I count up all the things I have done since, and make old
Memory notch them down on her tally, it seems like the score of a
hundred years more than twelve. I remember the last day we ever saw
each other; do you?"

"Do you think I could ever forget it?" said the other. "Was it not
that day when the pleasure-house of Lindenmar was burned to the
ground, and our good lord's infant was consumed in the flames?"

"I remember it well," replied the other, musing over the circumstances
of the past; "and I remember that my lord and Adolph of Gueldres, and
all the rest of the nobles that were marching to join the duke, saw
the flames from the road; and all came willingly to help your gallant
young lord. He was gallant and young then. But Adolph of Gueldres
cried to let them all burn, so that the lands of Hannut might come to
him. He said it laughing, indeed; but it was a bitter jest at such a

"My lord heard of that soon enough," answered the seneschal, "and he
never forgave it."

"Oh, but we heeded him not," exclaimed the other: "we all gave what
aid we could. Mind you not, how my lord rushed in and brought out your
lady in his arms, and how she wept for her child? It was but a
fortnight old, they say!"

"No more, no more!" answered the other: "and I will tell you what, she
never ceased to weep till death dried up her tears: poor thing! But,
hark thee, Regnault," he added, taking the other by the arm, and
drawing him a few paces aside, not only out of earshot of the rest of
the persons who tenanted the hall, but also out of the broad glare of
the lamp, as if what he was about to say were not matter for the open
light:--"but, hark thee, Regnault de Gand! they do say that the
spirits of that lady and her child visit our lord each night in his
chamber at a certain hour."

"Didst thou ever see them, good Roger?" demanded his companion, with a
smile of self-satisfied incredulity. "Didst thou ever set eyes upon
them, thyself?"

"God forbid!" ejaculated the seneschal, fervently; "God forbid! I
would not see them for all the gold of Egypt."

"Well, then, good Roger, fear not," replied Regnault de Gand, "thou
shalt never see them! I have heard a mighty deal of spirits, and
ghosts, and apparitions, and devils; but though I have served in the
countries where they are most plenty, I never could meet with one in
the whole course of my life; and between us two, good Roger, I believe
in none of them; except, indeed, all that the church believes, and the
fourteen thousand virgin martyrs."

"Why that is believing enough in all conscience," replied Roger de
Lorens; "but if you believe in no such things, I will put you to sleep
in the small room at the stairs' foot, just beneath my lord's private

Whither this proposal was relished much or little by the worthy
squire, he had made too open a profession of his incredulity to shrink
from the test; and he was fain to take up his abode for the night in a
low-roofed, but not inconvenient chamber, at the foot of the staircase
in the square tower. He looked somewhat pale as his old companion bade
him good-night; but he looked a vast deal paler the next day when they
wished each other good-morning. Not one word, however, did he say,
either of objection at first, or of comment at last; and no one ever
exactly knew how he sped during the night he passed in that chamber,
though, when some months after he married a buxom dame of Ghent, a
report got about amongst the gossips, that though he had not actually
encountered a spirit, he had heard many strange noises, and seen many
a strange beam of light wandering about the apartment, coming he knew
not whence, and disappearing he knew not whither.

He himself told nothing openly; and when the fair dame whom he had
taken to his bosom, and who was supposed to be deeply learned in all
the secrets thereof, was spoken to on the subject, she, too, affected
a tone of mystery, only assuring the ingenious gossip, who tried to
ferret out the details, with a solemn shake of the head, "that those
might disbelieve the apparition of spirits who liked. As for her
husband, Regnault, he had good cause to know better; though he had
once been a scoffer, like all the rest of your swaggering, gallant,
dare-devil men-at-arms."

Having now violated, in some degree, the venerable art of chronology,
and, in favour of the worthy squire, run somewhat forward before the
events of my tale, I must beg the reader to pause on his advance for a
single instant; and, while the Dauphin, the Marshal, and their
respective trains, sleep sound in the massy walls of the castle of
Hannut, to return with me to the party we lately left assembled round
a fire in the heart of the forest.


From the middle of the fourteenth to the middle of the fifteenth
centuries, and even, perhaps, to a much later period, there existed,
spread over the whole continent--equally in France, in Flanders, in
Italy, and in Germany--a particular class of men, whose livelihood was
obtained by the sword, and by the sword alone. In time of hostility,
they were soldiers; in time of peace, they were plunderers; and long
habituated to reap alone the iron harvest of war, they never dreamed
of turning the sword into the reaping-hook; a sort of proceeding which
they would have considered the basest degradation of an instrument
which they held in as high a degree of veneration, as that in which it
was regarded by the ancient Scythians.

In the interior of France, indeed, such a thing as peace was sometimes
to be found; but Germany, and its frontiers towards France, presented
such a number of great vassals, and independent princes, each of whom
had the right of waging war against his neighbour--a right which they
took care should not fall into desuetude--that the mercenary soldiers,
who at that time infested the world, were rarely, for any long period,
under the necessity of cultivating the arts of peace, even in their
own peculiar manner, in the heart of the green forest.

During the earlier part of the great struggle between France and
England, these men had assembled in bodies of thousands and tens of
thousands; and, during the existence of any of the temporary
suspensions of hostilities, which took place from time to time, they
seized upon some town or castle, lived at free quarters in the
country, and laid prince and peasant, city and village alike, under
contribution. Gradually, however, these great bodies became scattered;
kings found it more imperatively necessary to overcome such internal
foes, than to oppose an external enemy. The nobles also leagued
together to destroy any of the great bands that remained; but the
smaller ones--tolerated at first as a minor evil, consequent upon the
system of warfare of the day--were always in the end encouraged,
protected, and rewarded, when hostilities between any two powers
rendered their services needful to each; and were not very severely
treated, when circumstances compelled them to exercise their military
talents on their own account. Scarcely a great lord through Germany,
or Burgundy, or Flanders, had not a band of this kind, more or less
formidable, according to his wealth and power, either in his pay, or
under his protection. The character of the adventurer, indeed, of each
particular troop, greatly depended upon the disposition and manners of
the lord to whom they were for the time attached; but, on the whole,
they were a very much libelled people; and though in actual warfare
they were certainly worse than the ordinary feudal soldier of the day,
in time of peace they were infinitely better than the class of common
robber, that succeeded upon their extinction. There were times,
indeed, when, under the guidance of some fierce and ruthless leader,
they committed acts which disgraced the history of human nature; but
upon ordinary occasions, though they carried into the camp a strong
touch of the plundering propensities of the freebooters, yet, when war
was over, they bore with them, to the cavern or the wood, many of the
frank and gallant qualities of the chivalrous soldier.

It was in the hands of a body of such men, though of a somewhat better
quality than usual, that we last left Martin Fruse, the worthy burgher
of Ghent, beginning to recover from the apprehensions which he had at
first entertained, and to enjoy himself in proportion to the rapid
transition he had undergone, from a feeling of terror to a sense of
security. The balance of human sensation is so nicely suspended, that
scarcely is a weight removed from the heart, ere up flies the beam, as
far above as it was below; and long does it vibrate before it attains
the equipoise. Such, I believe, are the feelings of every bosom:
though some, ashamed of the sudden transition, have power enough to
master its expression, and clothe themselves with external calmness,
while their hearts are really as much agitated as those of other men.
Not so, however, with good Martin Fruse: though, occasionally, in
affairs of policy, he thought himself called upon to make a bungling
attempt to give an air of diplomatic secrecy and caution to his
language and manner; and though, when prompted by others, he could
speak an equivocal speech, and fancy himself a skilful negotiator upon
the faith of a doubtful sentence, yet, in general, the emotions of his
heart would bubble up to the surface unrestrained. On the present
occasion, as cold capon and rich ham, strong Rhenish and fruity
Moselle, gave pledges of the most satisfactory kind for his future
safety, his joy sparkled forth with somewhat childish glee; and his
good friends, the robbers, in the midst of the green forest, supplied,
in his affections, the place of many a boon companion of the rich town
of Ghent.

The stores of the sumpter-horse were soon nearly consumed; but it was
remarked by the worthy burgher, that a portion which, by nice
computation, he judged might satisfy the appetite of two hungry
citizens, together with a couple of large flasks of the best wine,
were set apart with reverential care, as if for some person who was
not present, but who was held by his companions in a high degree of
respect. After governing his curiosity for some time, that most
unrestrainable of all human passions got the better of him; and by
some sidelong questions he endeavoured to ascertain for whom this
reservation was made.

"Oh no! no, no!" replied the personage who had hitherto acted as the
leader of the freebooters, "we must not touch that; it is put by for
our captain, who will be here presently, and will tell us," he added,
with a malicious grin, as he played upon the apprehensions of the good
citizen--"and will tell us what we are to do with thee and thine, good
Master Martin Fruse. Thou art not the first syndic of the weavers, I
trow, who has dangled from a beam; and one could not choose a more
airy place to hang in, on a summer's day."

Though Martin Fruse perceived that there was a touch of jest at the
bottom of his companion's speech, yet the very thought of dangling
from a beam--a fate which the Duke of Burgundy was fully as likely to
inflict upon a rebellious subject, as the most ferocious freebooter
upon a wandering traveller--caused a peculiar chilly sensation to
pucker up his whole skin; but, as his danger from the robbers was the
more pressing and immediate of the two, he applied himself strenuously
to demonstrate, that it was both unjust and unreasonable to hang a man
either to beam or bough, after having abetted him in making himself
very comfortable in the world in which God had placed him. There was
something in the arguments he deduced from capon and hock, together
with the terror that he evidently felt, and a degree of childish
simplicity of manner, which made the freebooters roar with laughter;
and they were just indulging in one of these merry peals, when a
sudden rustle on the bank over their head gave notice that some one
was approaching.

"Hold by the roots, boy!" cried a rough voice above. "Here! Set your
foot there. Now jump: as far as you can. That's right! Cleared it, by
St. George! Now, slip down. So here we are."

As he spoke the last words, Matthew Gournay, followed by young Hugh of
Gueldres, stood within one pace of the spot where the freebooters had
been regaling. Two or three of the latter had started up to welcome
him, holding high one of the torches, to light his descent; and as he
came forward, his eye ran over the evidences of their supper, and the
party who had partaken of it, with some degree of surprise.

"How now, my merry men?" he cried, laughing. "Ye have had some sport,
it would seem; but, by our Lady! I hope ye have left me a share, and
something for this poor lad, who is dying of hunger."

"Plenty, plenty for both," replied many of the voices; "that is to
say, enough for one meal at least; the next we must find elsewhere."

"But here are some Gandois traders," added one of the party, "waiting
your awful decree, and trembling in every limb lest they should be
hanged upon the next tree."

"God forbid!" replied Matthew Gournay. "We will put them to light
ransoms, for rich citizens. Who is the first? Stand up, good man.
What! Martin Fruse!" he exclaimed, starting back, as the light fell
upon the face of the burgher. "My old friend, Martin Fruse, in whose
house I lodged when I came to teach the men of Ghent how to get up a
tumult! Little did I think I should so soon have thee under

"Nay, nay, good Master Gournay," replied the burgher, "right glad am I
to see thee. In truth, I thought I had fallen into worse hands than
thine. I know well enough," he added, with a somewhat doubtful
expression of countenance, notwithstanding the confidence which his
words implied--"I know well enough that thou hast no heart to take a
ransom from thine old companion."

"Faith but thou art wrong, Martin," replied Matthew Gournay, laying
his heavy hand upon the citizen's shoulder. "Thine own ransom shall be
light, and that of thy comrades also, for thy sake; but something we
must have, if it be but to keep up good customs. A trifle, a mere
trifle: a benevolence, as our good kings call it in England, when they
take it into their heads to put the clergy to ransom."

"Nay, but," said Martin Fruse, whose confidence and courage were fully
restored by the sight of his friend's face; "nay, but consider that I
was taken while journeying for the sole purpose of conferring with
thee and Adolph of Gueldres concerning the general rising we

"Well, well, we will speak further hereafter," answered Matthew
Gournay. "That job is all over for the present; and as, doubtless, the
duke has heard of our doings, it may go hard with your purses, and
with my neck, if he catch us, which please God he shall not do. But we
must think of some way of getting you all back to Ghent in safety.
Now, Halbert of the hillside," he added, addressing one of his old
band, who was probably an Englishman like himself, "hie thee to the
midway oak. Thou wilt there find the old seneschal. Tell him all is
safe! Bid him tarry there till to-morrow, collecting all our friends
that come thither; and, in the meantime, to send me the leathern
bottles from the hollow tree. These flimsy flasks furnish scarce a
draught for a boy; and, good faith, I will be merry to-night, whatever
befall to-morrow. Up the bank, up the bank," he continued; "'tis but a
quarter of a mile that way."

While the messenger was gone in search of the fresh supply of wine
which the leathern bottles implied, Matthew Gournay, and the young
companion, whom he had brought with him, despatched the provisions
which had been saved by the very miraculous abstinence of the
freebooters; and at the same time the two flasks of Rhenish
disappeared with a celerity truly astonishing. Four capacious bottles,
holding about a gallon each, were soon after added to the supply, and
all present were called upon to partake.

A scene of merriment and joy then succeeded, which would be impossible
to describe; such, indeed, as perhaps no men ever indulged in whose
lives were not held by so uncertain a tenure, whose moments of
security were not counterbalanced by so many hours of danger, and
whose pleasures were not bought by so many labours and pains, that it
became their only policy to quaff the bowl of joy to the very dregs,
while it was yet at their lips, lest, at the first pause,
circumstance, that unkind step-dame, should snatch it angrily from
their hands for ever. The final explosion of their merriment was
called forth by good Martin Fruse, who, after showing many signs and
symptoms of weary drowsiness, declared that he should like to go to
bed, and asked, with much simplicity, where he was to sleep.

"Sleep!" exclaimed Matthew Gourney, "sleep! Why where the fiend would
you sleep?"

"I mean, where's your house, good Master Matthew Gournay?" rejoined
Martin Fruse, with open eyes, from which all expression was banished
by surprise at finding his question a matter of laughter, he knew not
why. "It's all very well to sup in the wood in a fine summer night;
but it's growing late and cold, and I do think we had better a great
deal get us to our warm beds."

The only answer which he received to this speech, from the robbers,
was a new peal of laughter; but, at the same moment, his nephew
plucked him by the sleeve, exclaiming, "Hist, uncle! ye only make the
knaves grin; you may sleep where you are, or not sleep at all for this
night. Have you not heard how these men covet no covering but the
green boughs of the forest?"

"Thou art somewhat malapert, young sir," said Matthew Gournay, fixing
upon him a glance into which various parts of the boy's speech, not
very respectful to the freebooters, had called up a degree of
fierceness that was not the general expression of his countenance;
"thou art somewhat malapert; and, if thy uncle follow my advice, he
will make thy shoulders now and then taste of the cloth-yard measure,
else thou wilt mar his fortune some fine day. The boy says true,
however, good Martin; here sleepest thou this night, if thou sleepest
at all; so get thee under yonder bank, with that broad oak tree above
thy head, to guard thee from the westerly wind, and thank Heaven thou
hast so fair a canopy. There, wrap thy cloak about thee; ask God's
blessing, and sleep sound. To-morrow I will wake thee early, to talk
of what may best be done to speed thee on thy way in safety; for many
of the duke's bands are about; and without we can get thee some good
escort, thou art like to be in the same plight as the ass, who,
running away from a dog, fell in with a lion."

Although Martin Fruse believed himself to be as wise as any man that
ever lived, except King Solomon, he had a peculiar dislike, or rather,
it may be called, a nervous antipathy, to the very name of an ass;
but, when it was introduced, as on the present occasion, in the form
of a simile, to exemplify his own situation, his feelings were wounded
in a deep degree. In silent indignation, therefore, for he knew not
what to reply, he arose, and proceeded to the spot pointed out, where,
having made himself as comfortable as circumstances permitted him to
do, he lay down, and, notwithstanding a firm determination not to
close an eye, he was soon pouring forth a body of nasal music, which
seemed intended to shame the nightingales for their silence in the
autumn season.

The rest of the travellers took up with such couches as they could
find; and the robbers, too, one by one, wrapped their cloaks about
them, and resigned themselves to sleep. The two last who remained
awake were Matthew Gournay and young Hugh of Gueldres, whose slumber
by the cascade in the morning had sufficiently removed the weariness
of his limbs, to leave his mind free to rest upon the sorrows of the
past and the dangers of the present.

With him the leader of the freebooters held a long, and, to them, an
interesting conversation; in the course of which the boy narrated all
the events which had lately occurred to him: the storming of his
father's castle by the troops of Burgundy; the perils he had
undergone; the difficulties of his escape; his desolation and despair
when he found himself a wanderer and an outcast; his long and weary
journey; his adventure with the Dauphin, whom he described as a French
traveller; and the manner in which that base and artful prince had
deceived him. He told it all with so much simple pathos, that he
called up something very like a tear in the adventurer's clear blue
eye; and Matthew Gournay, laying his broad hand affectionately on his
head, exclaimed "Never mind, my young lord, never mind; you are not
without friends, and never shall be, so long as Matthew Gournay lives;
for I swear by the blessed Virgin, and all the saints to boot, that my
sword shall fight your quarrels, and my lance shall be at your
command, till I see you a righted man. But, as you say that the Lord
of Hannut is your cousin in the first degree, thither we must go for
help and counsel. I know him well, too; for my good band helped to
keep his castle for him, when the black riders were about last year:
and what with the troops of spirits that folks say he can command, and
the company of the good fellows that I shall soon gather together
again, we shall be able to do something for you, no doubt. By the
way," he added, seeming suddenly to bethink himself of some fact that
had before escaped his attention, "these travellers, you say, are gone
to Hannut too, and under their escort these Gandois weavers may pass
unsuspected on their way homeward."

"What if they refuse to take them?" said Hugh of Gueldres.

"By the Lord, they shall eat more cold iron than they can well
stomach," replied the adventurer: "but I must sleep, my young lord, I
must sleep, if I would rise fresh to-morrow! Lend us thy hand to shift
off this plastron." So saying, he disencumbered himself of his
breastplate, and the other pieces of defensive armour which might have
rendered his sleep uncomfortable; and, laying them down by his steel
cap or basinet, which he had previously taken off, he wrapped the end
of his mantle round his head, stretched himself on the ground, grasped
the hilt of his dagger tight with his right hand; and, in that
attitude, fell into as sound a sleep as if he had never tasted crime
or heard of danger. The boy soon followed his example, and all was

About an hour before daylight the following morning, Martin Fruse was
awakened by some one shaking him by the shoulder. He roused himself
with many a yawn, rose up, stretched his round limbs, which were sadly
stiffened by a night's lodging upon the cold ground and, gazing round,
perceived, by the mingled light of the expiring fire and one or two
pine-wood torches stuck in the ground, that the party of adventurers
had been considerably increased during his sleep; and that they were
now all busily employed in saddling horses and preparing for a march,
except, indeed, Matthew Gournay himself, whose grasp it was that had
awakened him. He was now informed, in a few brief words, without any
precise explanation, that a means had suggested itself for sending him
and his companions forward towards Ghent, with less danger than that
to which they would be exposed in travelling alone. For this courtesy,
and for the permission to return at all, Matthew Gournay exacted,
under the name of ransom, a sum so much smaller than the fears of the
worthy burgher had anticipated, that he only affected to haggle for a
florin or two less, in order to keep up the custom of bargaining, so
necessary to him in his mercantile capacity. A hint, however, from
Matthew Gournay, that, if he said another word, the sum demanded
should be tripled, soon set the matter at rest; and in a few minutes
the whole party were on horseback, and on their way to the castle of

On their arrival at the gate of the barbacan, they were instantly
challenged by a sentry, who at that early hour stood watching the
first grey streaks of the dawn. After various inquiries and messages
to and from the interior of the castle, they were led round to a small
postern, and, being made to dismount, were led, one after another, by
torchlight, up one of those narrow, almost interminable staircases,
still to be found in every old building whose erection can be traced
to the feudal period.


It was after dinner on the following morning--which meal, be it
remarked, took place in those days about ten o'clock--that the Dauphin
and the Marshal of Burgundy rose to bid adieu to their noble host, and
offered him, in courteous terms, their thanks for the hospitable
entertainment he had shown them.

"I have, my lord, a favour to ask in return," said the Lord of Hannut,
"which will leave me your debtor. The case is simply this: some worthy
merchants of Ghent, travelling on mercantile affairs, as I am told,
arrived here this morning; and, being fearful of encountering some of
the robbers, who have given to this forest not the best repute, they
are now waiting in the inner court, anxious to join themselves to your
train, and accompany you as far as Cortenbergh, where they will leave
you, and take the short-cut to Ghent."

"Willingly, willingly," replied the Dauphin; "by my faith, if there be
robbers in the wood, the more men we are, the better."

The Marshal of Burgundy looked somewhat grave. "I have heard rumours,
my lord," he said, "that the men of Ghent, who, in my young day, when
I frequented this part of the country, were as turbulent a race of
base mechanics as ever drove a shuttle or worked a loom, have not
forgotten their old habits, and from day to day give my lord the duke
some fresh anxiety."

"Nay, nay," replied the Lord of Hannut; "these men are rich burghers,
returning peacefully to their own city from some profitable

"Oh, let us have them, by all means!" exclaimed Louis, who possibly
might have his own views, even at that time, in cultivating a good
understanding with the people of Ghent. At least, we know that he
never ceased to keep up some correspondence with the burghers of the
manufacturing towns of Flanders, from the time of his exile among
them, to the last hour of his life. "Oh! let us have them by all
means. Think of the robbers, my Lord Marshal! By my faith! I have too
few florins in my purse to lose any willingly!"

The Marshal of Burgundy signified his assent by a low inclination of
the head; though it was evident, from his whole manner, that he was
not at all pleased with the new companions thus joined to his band;
and would at once have rejected the proposal, had good manners towards
his host, or respect towards the Dauphin, permitted him to make any
further opposition.

"So necessary do I think caution against the freebooters, my lords,"
said the master of the mansion, as he conducted them towards the
court-yard, where their horses stood saddled, "that I have ordered ten
spears of my own to accompany you to the verge of the forest. They
will join you at the little town of Hannut, about a quarter of a
league distant; and will remain with you as long as you may think it

Louis expressed his gratitude in courtly terms; and the Lord of
Neufchatel thanked his old friend more frankly; but said, he should
like to see the boldest freebooter that ever was born, stand before
the Marshal of Burgundy, though he had but four lances and four
horseboys in his train. The party were by this time in the court-yard;
and Louis greeted the burghers, whom he found waiting, with a familiar
cordiality, well calculated to win their hearts, without diminishing
his own dignity. The Marshal of Burgundy, on the contrary, spoke not;
but looked on them with a grim and somewhat contemptuous smile;
muttering between his teeth, with all the haughtiness of a feudal
noble of that day, "The rascallion communes! they are dressed as
proudly as lords of the first degree!"

Notwithstanding his offensive pride, yet untamed by years, the Lord of
Neufchatel was far from treating the burghers with any real
unkindness; and, after the whole party had mounted, and left the
castle of Hannut, he gratified himself every now and then by a sneer,
it is true; but, whenever any occasion presented itself for
contributing to their comfort, or rendering them a substantial
service, the natural courtesy of a chivalrous heart got the better of
the prejudices of education. At an after period, indeed, he went still
further, and greatly changed his demeanour towards the people of the
towns; but at present, his pride offended more than his services
pleased; and when, after a quiet and uninterrupted journey, the two
parties separated at Cortenbergh, though the Marshal left them as a
set of men on whom he should never waste another thought, they
remembered him long as one of those haughty tyrants whose insults and
oppression often goaded the people into tumults, though the time was
not yet come for a successful struggle for emancipation.

From Cortenbergh, the Dauphin and his companions rode on towards
Brussels, sending forward a messenger to inform the Duke of Burgundy
of their approach; but, before they reached the gates of the town,
they received information that the prince whom they sought was even
then in the field against the people of Utrecht. Nevertheless, as a
safe asylum in Brussels was all that Louis demanded, he rode on upon
his way; and, being admitted at once within the walls of the town,
proceeded towards the palace. His coming had been notified to the
Duchess Isabelle: and on arriving at the barriers which at that time
separated the dwelling of every prince or great noble from the common
streets of the town, he found that princess, together with the young
and beautiful Countess of Charolois--the wife of him afterwards famous
as Charles the Bold--waiting to do honour to the heir of the French
throne. No sooner did he perceive them, than, springing from his
horse, he advanced with courtly grace, and gallantly saluted the cheek
of every one of the fair bevy who had descended to welcome him; and
then, offering his arm to the Duchess, wished to lead her into the
palace. But this method of proceeding was not at all permitted by the
mistress of the most ceremonious court, at that time, in Europe; and a
series of formal courtesies began and endured for a mortal half hour,
such as would have slain any queen in modern Europe. At length, the
resistance of the Duchess was vanquished by the Dauphin taking her by
the hand, and thus leading her forward, as he exclaimed, "Nay, nay,
lady, you are overceremonious towards one who is now the poorest
gentleman of all the realm of France, and knows not where to find a
refuge, except with you and my fair uncle of Burgundy."

We might now pursue Louis XI. through all his cunning intrigues at the
court of Burgundy; for, though then a young man, with the ardent blood
of youth mingling strangely, in his veins, with the cold serpent-like
sanies of policy, yet his nature was the same artful nature then that
it appeared in after-years: and treachery and artifice were as
familiar to his mind while combined with the passions and follies of
early life, as they were when connected with the superstitions and
weaknesses of his age.

At present, however, it is neither with Louis nor with the Duke of
Burgundy, nor with his warlike son, that we have principally to do,
but rather with the young Countess of Charolois, then in that
interesting situation when the hopes of a husband and a nation are
fixed upon a coming event, which, with danger to the mother, is to
give an heir to the throne and to the love of both sovereign and

The subjects of Burgundy watched anxiously, till at length, in
the month of February, on St. Valentine's eve, was born Mary of
Burgundy--the only child that ever blessed the bed of Charles the
Bold. The baptism was appointed to take place as soon as possible: and
the Dauphin was invited to hold at the font the infant princess, much
of whose after-being his ambition was destined to render miserable.
Now, however, all was joy and festivity; and magnificent presents, and
splendid preparations, evinced how much the Flemish citizens shared,
or would have seemed to share, in the happiness of their duke and his
family. Even the people of Utrecht, so lately in rebellion, vied with
Bruges and Brussels, Ghent and Ypres, in offering rich testimonies of
their gladness; and Brussels itself was one scene of gorgeous
splendour during the whole day of the christening. The centre of the
great street, from the palace to the church of Cobergh, was enclosed
within railings breast-high; and towards night, four hundred of the
citizens, holding lighted torches of pure wax in their hands, were
stationed along the line. A hundred servants of the house of Burgundy,
furnished also with torches, lined the aisles of the church, and a
hundred more were soon seen issuing from the palace gates, followed by
as splendid a _cortege_ as the world ever beheld. The Duchess of
Burgundy herself, supported by the Dauphin, carried her son's child to
the font; and all the nobles of that brilliant court followed on foot
to the church.

It is not necessary here to describe the pompous ceremonies of that
day, as they are written at full in the very elaborate account given
by Eleonore of Poitiers. Suffice it to say, such joy and profusion
never before reigned in Brussels. The streets of the city flowed with
wine, and blazed with bonfires. Every rich citizen gathered round his
glowing hearth all the friends and relations of his house. Comfits and
spiced hippocras fumed in every dwelling; and the christening of Mary
of Burgundy became an epoch of rejoicing in the memory of men.

One event of that night, however, must be noticed. The fate of the
city of Ghent, whose project of revolt had, in spite of all
precautions, become known to the Duke Philip, had been left in the
hands of the Count of Charolois, that prince's son; and a deputation
from what were then called the three members of Ghent--that is to
say,[2] from the burghers and nobles, from the united trades, and from
the incorporation of weavers--were even then in Brussels, for the
purpose of imploring mercy and forgiveness. The young Count, whose
hasty and passionate nature was prone to be irritated by anything that
hurried or excited him, had been in such a state of fretful impatience
during the preparations for the baptism of his child, that his wiser
counsellors, who wished much that he should deal clemently with the
Gandois, had concealed their arrival, in hopes of a more favourable
moment presenting itself.

They were not, indeed, deceived in this expectation; and, after the
ceremony was over, and all the splendour he could have wished had been
displayed, without cloud or spot, on the christening of his child, the
heart of the Count seemed to expand, and he gave himself up entirely
to the joy of the occasion. His friends and attendants determined to
seize the moment while this favourable mood continued. After the
infant had been carried back from the church and presented to its
mother, and after the cup and sweetmeats had been handed with formal
ceremony to each of the guests, the Lord of Ravestein called the
Prince's attention to a petition he held from his father's humble
vassals, the citizens of Ghent; and seeing that he received the paper
with a smile, he added the information that the deputies were even
then waiting anxiously without, in what was termed the _chambre de
parement_. The Count's brow instantly became clouded; but, without
answering, he beckoned Ravestein, and several others, to follow him
out of the Countess's chamber, in which this conversation had taken
place, and at once entered the apartment in which the burghers were
assembled. There was something in the stern haste of his stride, as he
advanced into the room, which boded little good to the supplicants;
and his brow gave anything but a favourable presage.

The deputation consisted of about twenty persons, chosen from all
ranks; and amongst them were two or three who had followed to the
presence of the prince, from motives of curiosity, and a desire, for
once, to see the splendours of a royal court, though the reception of
the whole party was not likely to be very gratifying. Amongst the
principal personages of the deputation appeared our good friend Martin
Fruse, who had brought with him his nephew, Albert Maurice; and most
of the other persons whom we have seen with him in the forest of
Hannut bore him company also on the present occasion. Though the
burghers of Ghent were sufficiently accustomed to harangue each other,
either in the town-house or the market-place, and had a good conceit
of their own powers of oratory, yet fear, which, of all the affections
of the human mind, is the greatest promoter of humility, had so
completely lessened their confidence in their own gift of eloquence,
that, instead of intrusting the supplications they were about to make
to one of their own body, they had hired a professional advocate, from
a different town, to plead their cause before their offended prince.

"Range out, Messires, range out!" were the first ungracious words of
the Count of Charolois; "range out, and let me see the lovely faces of
the men who would fain have excited our father's subjects to revolt."

By his orders, the deputies from Ghent were arranged in a semicircle
before him; and, according to etiquette, the whole party dropped upon
one knee; though some went farther, and bent both to the ground. In
the meantime, their advocate pronounced a long, florid, and frothy
harangue, after the manner of that day, and calling David, Solomon,
and many others, both sacred and profane, to his aid, as examples of
clemency, besought the Count to show mercy to the repentant citizens
of Ghent.

The heir of Burgundy appeared to give little attention to the studied
and unnatural oration of the advocate, but continued rolling his eyes
over the countenances of the supplicants, with a bent brow, and a
smile, which--as a smile always proceeds from some pleasurable
emotion--could only arise from the gratification of pride and revenge,
at the state of abasement to which he saw the revolted Gandois

When the orator had concluded, the Count replied:--"Men of Ghent, I
have heard that in all time ye have been turbulent, discontented,
factious, like a snarling cur that snaps at the hand that feeds it,
but crouches beneath the lash: think not that you shall escape without
due punishment; for know, that it is as much the duty of a prince to
punish the criminal, as to protect the innocent."

He paused, and no one ventured to reply, except the boy Albert
Maurice, who, grasping the hilt of the small dagger, which persons of
almost all ages or ranks then wore, muttered, in a tone not quite
inaudible, the words "Insolent tyrant."

Whether these words caught the ear of any one else or not, they were,
at all events, loud enough to reach that of the Count of Charolois;
and, taking one stride forward, he struck the youth a blow, with the
palm of his open hand, which laid him almost senseless on the ground.

A momentary confusion now ensued; the nobles and attendants
interposed, to prevent any farther act of unprincely violence; the boy
was hurried away out of the room; several of the deputies made their
escape, fearing the immediate consequences of the prince's fury; and
the Count of Ravestein endeavoured to persuade his cousin, Charles of
Burgundy, to quit the apartment, terrified lest he should proceed to
measures which would throw the Gandois into open rebellion.

He was mistaken, however; the rage of the Count had evaporated in the
blow he had struck; and, somewhat ashamed of the act of passion he had
committed, he endeavoured to make it seem, both to himself and to
those around him, not the effect of hasty wrath--which it really
was--but the deliberate punishment of an insolent boy.

To Ravestein's remonstrances and entreaties for him to leave the
apartment, he replied by a loud laugh, demanding, "Thinkest thou I
could be moved to serious anger by a malapert lad like that? He spoke
like a spoiled boy, and I have given him the chastisement suited to a
spoiled boy; with these men of Ghent, I shall deal as towards men."

He was about to proceed, and was resuming the stern air with which he
had formerly addressed the deputies, when the Dauphin, stepping
forward, spoke to him in a low tone, as if to prevent his intercession
from being apparent, though his gesture and manner were quite
sufficient to show the burghers that he was pleading in their behalf.
The Count of Charolois had not yet learned all the intricate duplicity
of Louis's character, and took it for granted that, while he
interceded for the people of Ghent, he did really--as he affected to
do--desire that they should be ignorant of his generous efforts in
their favour.

"Well, be it so, my princely cousin," he replied, smoothing his
ruffled brow; "the godfather of my child shall not be refused his
first request to me, upon the very day of her baptism; but, by my
faith! the honour of this good act shall rest where it is due--with
you, not with me. Know, men of Ghent, that you have a better advocate
here, than this man of many words, whom you have brought to plead your
cause. My noble cousin, Louis of France, condescends to intercede for
you, and ye shall be pardoned upon the payment of a moderate fine.
But, remember! offend not again; for, by the Lord that lives! if ye
do, I will hang ten of each of your estates over the gates of the
city. What have ye there?" he added, suddenly, pointing to some large
objects, wrapped in violet-coloured linen, and carried by two or three
stout attendants, who had followed the men of Ghent to the prince's
presence; "what have ye there?"

"A humble offering, my lord the Count," replied Martin Fruse, rising
from his knees, and walking towards the object which had attracted the
attention of the Count of Charolois; "a humble offering from the city
of Ghent to our noble Count, upon the birth of his fair daughter;
though that foolish advocate forgot to mention all about it in his

"Well for ye that he did so!" exclaimed the Count; "for had he
attempted to bribe me to forget justice, I doubt much whether one of
the deputies of Ghent would have quitted these palace walls alive."

"But only look at them, my lord the Count," said Martin Fruse, whose
all-engrossing admiration of the rich presents they had brought made
him insensible to the stern tone in which the prince had been
speaking. "Only look at them; they are so beautiful;" and so saying,
he removed the linen which covered them, and exposed to view three
large and richly chased vases of massive silver. Certainly their
effect upon all present very well justified the commendations which he
had bestowed upon their beauty, and his censure of the advocate for
not mentioning them before.

Both Charles of Burgundy and the Dauphin took an involuntary step
forward, to look at them more nearly. But the eyes of Louis, who was
fonder of the examination of the human heart, than of the finest piece
of workmanship ever produced by the hands of man, were soon turned to
the face of his cousin; and, as he marked the evident admiration which
was therein expressed, he said, with a frank laugh, which covered well
the sneer that was lurking in his speech--"By my faith! fair cousin, I
think the advocate _was_ in the wrong."

"Good troth, but I think so too," replied the Count, joining in the
laugh. "Well, my friends," he continued, addressing the deputies in a
very different tone from that which he had formerly used; "get you
gone, and be cautious for the future how ye listen to the delusive
words of vain and ambitious men: the master of our household will see
that ye are well entertained with white bread, good wine, and all the
dainties of a christening; and as for the boy I struck," he added,
taking a gold brooch or fermail from the bosom of his own vest, and
putting it into the hands of Martin Fruse, "give him that to heal the
blow. There, set down the vases on that table. We thank you for them;
and by our faith! we will show them to our lady there within."

With many a lowly reverence the men of Ghent withdrew, very well
satisfied to have obtained pardon on easy terms. Young Albert Maurice
was found below, fully recovered from the blow he had received; but it
was in no degree effaced from his memory. His uncle immediately
presented him with the rich brooch which the Count had sent, never
doubting but the boy would be delighted with the present; but, the
moment he received it, he dashed it down upon the ground, and setting
his foot upon it, trampled it to atoms.

What he muttered at the same time was unheard by any one but his
uncle. The effect upon him, however, was such as to turn him deadly
pale; and after having tasted of the Count's wine, that he might not
be suspected of disaffection, he hurried his nephew away to the house
of a friendly citizen of Brussels, miserable, to all appearance, till
he had got the boy beyond the walls of the palace.


We have now concluded one period of our tale, and must beg the reader
to leap boldly over nearly twenty years. In regard to the events which
intervened, of some we shall here give a slight sketch before
proceeding; some we shall leave to unravel themselves in the course of
the after history.

Take any body of men, as many in number as the characters which we
have introduced already, and it will be seldom found that, at the end
of so great a lapse of time, the whole are still upon the busy stage
of life; nevertheless, such was the case in the present instance.
Time, the great enemy of man, and of all man's works, had not leagued
himself with death against any of those whom I have particularly
noticed. In other respects, however, he had not failed to do his
accustomed work. The youth had grown up into the man; the man of
middle age was bowed beneath the load of years; and the infant in the
cradle had reached the blossoming days of womanhood.

Of her, then, whose birth and baptism we have just commemorated, we
shall speak in the first place, before proceeding to notice the change
which had occurred in the other characters which we have brought upon
the scene. Her infancy passed in the midst of prosperity and
happiness, while the territories which she was destined to inherit
flourished under the dominion of her grandfather--that wise and
virtuous prince, who redeemed the errors of his early years by the
generous patriotism of his latter days, and both merited and obtained,
from neighbouring princes and his native subjects, the noble
appellation of Philip the Good; and while under the eye of her own
gentle mother, her education proceeded in calm tranquillity, and her
home reposed in peace.

Scarcely had she attained the age of ten years, however, ere, left
alone under the guidance of a severe and imperious father, she found
that, according to the common fate of those in the highest stations,
her lot was to be anything but happy. Gentle, kind, obedient, she
endeavoured, by making her inclinations the slaves of her father's
will, to obtain, at least, peace, by yielding to duty. Her hopes and
expectations were, nevertheless, in vain. The continual perils to
which Charles the Bold exposed himself, of course, kept his family in
constant alarm and agitation; and the frequent and capricious changes
of his policy, without obtaining for himself or his country any real
advantage, only served to wring his daughter's heart.

After the death of his second wife, Isabel de Bourbon, the desire of a
male heir induced him speedily to marry again; and the hatred which he
had, by that time, conceived for Louis XI. made him choose for his
bride, Margaret of York, the sister of the King of England. His hopes
of a son were disappointed; but upon his daughter, Mary of Burgundy,
his marriage conferred an inestimable benefit. Margaret of York fully
replaced in kindness and affection the mother she had lost; and
habituated early herself to cares, to sorrows, and to dangers, she
instilled into the mind of her step-daughter that patient fortitude
which she had acquired in so bitter a school; and taught her, in all
circumstances, both to bear up against despair, and to endure without

As years rolled on, the hand of the undoubted heiress of all Burgundy
and Flanders became, of course, an object of ambition to many of the
princes of Europe; and from the time that Mary reached the age of
fifteen, to obtain possession of her person, was a matter of open
negotiation and subtle intrigue to all the neighbouring sovereigns.
The brother of the King of France, the Duke of Calabria, the Prince of
Tarentum, and the Duke of Savoy, became successively the suitors for
her hand; and her father, to each and all, held out hopes and
expectations, which he either never intended to fulfil, or found cause
to disappoint. The most selfish of sovereigns, and, perhaps, of men,
the feelings of his child were never consulted throughout the whole
transactions which followed. He looked upon her simply as an object of
policy, a human seal, which, at his will, was to be affixed to the
charter of conveyance, destined to give to some neighbouring prince
the succession to his vast dominions.

Luckily, however, it so happened, that Mary had made up her mind to
her fate, and so guarded her own heart and feelings, that in her eyes
all men seemed indifferent till the sanction of her father warranted
the gift of her affections. Thus she beheld treaties commenced and
broken, her hand promised and refused, without either pain or
pleasure, till, at length, a suitor appeared, who, with all those
advantages which could satisfy the political ambition of her father,
possessed all those qualities of mind and person calculated to gain
her heart. Brave, chivalrous, and accomplished, graceful and
well-formed in person, and handsome in features, Maximilian, son of
the Emperor Frederick, displayed, at the same time, all that native
kindness of heart, which, giving a gentle courtesy to the whole
demeanour, is far more winning than the most splendid acquirements;
and such qualities might have been quite sufficient to gain the heart
of the heiress of Burgundy. Other things, indeed, were required by her
father; but besides these personal qualities, he was the son of the
richest monarch in Europe, the heir of the duchy of Austria, and would
be, undoubtedly, successor to the imperial throne itself. Every object
seemed attained by such an alliance; and when, after appearing two
years successively at the court of Burgundy, Maximilian demanded the
hand of the beautiful heiress of the land, Mary, for the first time,
heard with joy that it was promised to the new aspirant.

Long negotiations succeeded; and it was agreed that the duchy of
Burgundy, freed from its homage to the crown of France, should be
erected into an independent kingdom.

A grand meeting of the Imperial and Burgundian courts was appointed at
Treves, for the conclusion of the marriage; and Charles the Bold, with
his daughter, accompanied by a train of unrivalled splendour, set out
for the place of rendezvous. Mary's heart beat high as she entered the
ancient city; and now, taught to look upon Maximilian as her future
husband, she yielded her whole heart to the influence of her first
affection. But the greedy ambition of her father was destined to
overthrow, for a time, all those airy fabrics of happiness, of which
her hopes, and her imagination, had been the architects. Charles
insisted that the title of king should be granted to him previous to
his daughter's marriage; while the Emperor, who had watched his
capricious changes on other occasions, with a jealous and somewhat
indignant eye, refused to confer the title he sought, till the hand of
the heiress of Burgundy was irrevocably bestowed upon his son. Charles
argued, and railed, and threatened in vain; and at length the Emperor,
wearied with his pertinacity, and offended by his intemperate
violence, suddenly broke up his court, and left him, mad with rage and
disappointment, to carry back his daughter to Brussels, with her heart
bleeding in secret from the cruel wounds it had received.

Other negotiations succeeded with other princes; and though Mary
heard, with apprehension and terror, of each new proposal, the
capricious uncertainty of her father's disposition saved her from the
still bitterer pangs of yielding her hand to another, while her heart
was really given to Maximilian.

In the meantime, disputes and wars took place; the projects of her
marriage languished, or were abandoned; and while her father hastened
to the last fatal field, where his military renown was extinguished in
his blood, she remained with her gentle stepmother in Ghent, to weep
the perils to which her parent's mad ambition exposed him, and to
tremble at the sight of every packet that reached her from the
Burgundian camp.

Such were the changes and events which had affected the fate of Mary
of Burgundy, since we depicted her as an infant, born shortly after
the arrival of the Dauphin at the court of Brussels. Over the Dauphin
himself, greater alterations still had come in the course of passing
years. From an exiled prince, he had become the king of a mighty
nation; and time had stolen away all the graces of youth, and all
those better feelings, and nobler emotions, which, in the freshness of
early life, are more or less imparted to every human being, whatever
may be the portion of selfish cunning added to neutralize them.
However beneficial might be his policy to the country over which he
ruled, however much his acts might advance the progress of society in
Europe, and lead forward the world to a state of more general freedom
and civilization, his objects were mean and personal, and individual
ambition of the lowest kind was the motive for all his cunning schemes
and artful policy. An immortal pen has, in our own day, portrayed his
character with unequalled skill; and of Louis XI., at this period of
his life, nothing farther can be said, than that he was the Louis XI.
of Sir Walter Scott.

Of those who accompanied him on his journey, Thibalt of Neufchatel,
Marshal of Burgundy, still remained; a weather-beaten warrior, and
still, in a certain sense, a haughty noble. Though age, with its
infirmities, had somewhat broken his strength, and had also softened
his heart, he was ready at all times, nevertheless, to spring into the
saddle at the trumpet's call: but so much, indeed, had he learned to
look upon the inferior ranks with a milder eye, that he had become
rather popular than otherwise; and amongst the peasants and burghers
was generally known, at this time, by the name of good Count Thibalt.
The taint of pride still remained; but its operation was directed in a
different manner; and young nobles, and new soldiers, who were not
always inclined to pay as much respect to the old officer's opinion as
he thought his due, now monopolized the scorn which he had formerly
bestowed upon the citizens; while the degree of popularity he had
lately acquired among the lower classes, and the deference with
which they invariably treated him, contrasting strongly with the
self-sufficient arrogance of some of his youthful compeers, soothed
his pride, gratified his vanity, and made him, day by day, more
bending and complacent to those whom he had formerly despised.

On good Martin Fruse, the passing of twenty years had brought, if not
a green, at least a fat old age. He was not unwieldy, however; was
rosy, and well respected amongst his fellow citizens for his wealth,
for his wisdom, and for his many memories of the mighty past; and, in
short, good Martin Fruse was, in person and appearance, a man who had
gone happily through many changes, increasing in riches, honour, and
comfort, with very few cares to prey upon his mind, and scarcely an
ailment through life to shatter his body. As he had proceeded,
however, experience had done its work: and while he had become wiser,
and had really obtained a greater insight into affairs of policy, he
had grown less vain, and willingly restrained his personal efforts to
composing the municipal squabbles of his native city, and directing
the efforts of his townsmen for the extension of their commerce and
the improvement of their manufactures.

His nephew, Albert Maurice, had been differently changed by the wand
of the enchanter Time. His mind, indeed, was one of those firm, fixed,
and steadfast essences, on which the passing of years make but little
alteration, except by expanding their capabilities by the exercise of
their powers. From a boy, it is true, he had grown into a powerful and
handsome man; and, though in partnership with his uncle, he held the
peaceful station of a rich merchant of Ghent, yet he was skilled in
all military exercises; and, when the communes of Flanders had been
called to the field, on pressing occasions, amongst the various
struggles of that eventful period, he had shown knowledge, courage,
and address, which had excited the wonder, and perhaps the jealousy,
of many of those noble warriors who looked upon the trade of war as
peculiarly their own. Whenever he returned home again, however, from
the camp, he sunk at once into the citizen; seemed to forget or to
despise his military skill; and, though gay and splendid amongst his
own class, far from courting popularity, he appeared to conceal
purposely the deep thoughts and striking qualities of his mind. Once
or twice, indeed, he had been heard to burst into an eloquent and
indignant rebuke to some of the nobles, on the occasion of the haughty
vexations which they continually exercised upon the lower classes; but
he seemed to regret his words as soon as spoken; and--as if he knew
that, at some time, a fearful and deadly contest must arise between
himself and the oppressors of his class, and strove anxiously, and
with a feeling of awe, to delay it as long as possible--he avoided all
matter of quarrel with the nobility of Ghent, or with the officers of
the Duke of Burgundy. He seemed desirous of closing his eyes to
subjects of offence; and, when he heard of a brawl in any neighbouring
part of the town, or when the other young citizens called upon him to
take a lead in their frequent tumults, he would either quit the place
for the time, or shut himself sternly in his own dwelling, in order to
avoid any participation in the dangerous occurrences that were taking

On one of these occasions, when the city of Ghent, though not in open
revolt, was keeping up an angry discussion with the high officers of
the duke, Albert Maurice, then in his twenty-fourth year, obtained his
uncle's consent to travel into Italy, for the purpose of
superintending some transactions which their house was carrying on
with the merchant lords of Venice. In that sweet climate, the nurse of
SONGarts and too often of crimes, he acquired an elegance of taste, and a
grace of manner, unknown to the burghers of his native place. He came
home, skilled in many arts with which they were unacquainted; and, had
his spirit been less powerful, his talents less commanding, it is not
improbable that his fellow citizens might have contemned or laughed at
acquirements which they had not learned to appreciate, and might have
scorned the travelled coxcomb who brought home strange modes and
fashions to his native land. But Albert Maurice made a show of none;
and it was only upon long solicitation, or on some moment of joyous
festivity, that he would sing the sweet songs of a softer people, and
accompany himself with instruments unknown in his own country.

His personal beauty, and the fascinating grace of his manners, made
him seem a creature of a different race, and his superiority in every
quality, both of mind and body, to those around him, might have been a
blessing, had he not felt it himself; but he did feel it, and of
course was discontented; and who can doubt that anything which makes
man discontented with his state, without giving him the certainty of a
better, is a curse? All eyes turned upon him with satisfaction; and
many a soft, kind heart would willingly have given itself to him; but
his thoughts were of another kind, and he could see none to love
amongst the many by whom he was admired. The fair girls of Ghent--and
many a fair girl was then, and is now, within its walls--thought him
cold and proud, and blamed him for what was his misfortune, not his
fault. His heart was one on which love might have taken as firm a hold
as on that of any man that ever burned or died for woman since the
world began: but he sought for his equal--I do not mean in rank, for
that he never heeded--but in mind; and he found none such within the
number of all he knew.

Shut out by circumstance from the higher ranks of society, the finer
feelings, the better aspirations of his soul, were matter for a
thousand disgusts; and though a native sense of what is noble in
itself, and just to others, made him laboriously conceal the very
superiority which he felt, as well as its consequences, yet the
conversation, the manners, the thoughts, of those around him, even
those with whom he was most intimately allied, were constant sources
of hidden pain and annoyance. He lived amongst the people of Ghent,
and he strove to live with them; and so far did he succeed, that
though his talents and his occasional reserve made his townsfolk look
upon him with no small reverence, the urbanity of his manners, when
brought into casual contact with the other citizens, gained him a far
greater degree of popularity than any general familiarity could have

The union of pride and ambition--and he had both qualities in his
bosom--usually leads the man, whose mind is so constituted, to seek to
rise into the class above him: but both his pride and his ambition
were too potent for that. He was proud of the very difference between
his station and himself; he had a deep and settled love, too, of his
country, and even of his class; and while his ambition was of a
quality which would have snatched at empire, had there been a hope of
success, the hatred and contempt in which he held the nobles were far
too great for him to covet aught but the power to trample them down
amongst those ranks whom they now oppressed.

Such had some of the characters, whom we have attempted to depict at
an earlier period of life, become, under the passing of twenty years.
Time, in short, had done his wonted work on all: had expanded the bud
and blossom into the green leaf and the flower, and had changed the
flower and the shoot into the ready fruit and the ripened ear. But
there are others yet to be spoken of, and to them we will now return.


The withering power of Time--which, in brief space, can make such
havoc on man, and all man's works, that friend shall scarce know
friend, and grass shall have swallowed up the highways--is impotent
against the ever renewing vigour of Nature; and in the forest of
Hannut, the twenty years which had passed, seemed scarcely to show the
difference of a day. Green oaks were withered, it is true; the
lightning had scathed the pine and rent the beech; the woodman's axe
had been busy here and there; but, in constant succession, the
children of the wood had grown up to take the place of those which had
fallen; and the most discerning eye could scarce have traced a single
change in all the forest scene around.

Days seemed to have altered, however, and manners to have changed in
the forest of Hannut; for, instead of very equivocal looking soldiers,
and travellers who wandered on with fear and trembling, there was now
to be seen, near the very same cascade by the side of which we opened
this book, a gay, light party, whose thoughts appeared all of joy, and
to whom terror seemed perfectly a stranger. That party consisted of
three principal personages, with their attendants; and, mounted on
splendid horses, whose high spirit, though bowed to the most complete
obedience to man's will, was in no degree diminished, they rode gaily
across the bridge, and paused by the side of the stream.

The first whom we shall notice--a powerful young cavalier, who might
be in the thirtieth year of his age, who might be less, sun-burnt, but
naturally fair, strong in all his limbs, but easy and graceful in his
movements--sprang to the ground as they approached the waterfall; and
laying his hand on the gilded bridle of a white jennet, that cantered
on by his side, he assisted the person who rode it to dismount.

She was a fair, beautiful girl, of about eighteen or nineteen years of
age, round whose broad white forehead fell clusters of glossy light
brown hair; her eyebrows and her eyelashes, however, were dark; and
through the long deep fringe of the latter looked forth a pair of blue
and laughing eyes, which beamed with the same merry happiness that
curled the arch of her sweet lips.

Two of the attendants who followed, hurried forward to hold the bridle
and the stirrup of the third person of the party, who dismounted more
slowly, as became the gravity of his years. Time, indeed, had not
broken, and had hardly bent him; but evidences of the ironhanded
conqueror's progress were to be traced in the snowy hair and beard,
which had once been of the deepest black; and in the long furrows
strongly marked across the once smooth brow. In other respects the
Lord of Hannut was but little changed. The same dark, grave cast of
countenance remained; the same spare, but vigorous form; though,
indeed, without appearing to stoop, his height seemed somewhat
diminished since last we brought him before the reader's eyes. A gleam
of affectionate pleasure lighted up his countenance, as he marked the
graceful gallantry with which his young companion aided the fair girl
who accompanied them to dismount; and when, after having rendered his
service to the lady, the cavalier turned to offer him his arm also,
with a sort of half apology for not having done so before, he replied,
smiling--"Thou art better employed dear boy; think'st thou I have so
far forgotten my chivalry as to grudge the attention thou bestow'st
upon a lady? Here, spread out here," he continued, turning to the
attendants and pointing to the green short turf which carpeted the
bank of the stream just below the waterfall; "we could not find a
better place for our meal than this."

By the birds which they carried on their wrists, it was evident that
the whole party had been flying their hawks, the favourite amusement,
at that time, of the higher classes throughout Flanders. They now,
however, seated themselves to a sort of sylvan dinner which was spread
upon the turf by the attendants, who--with that mixture of familiarity
and respect which were perfectly compatible with each other, and usual
in those days, and in such sports--sat down with persons of higher
rank, at once to partake of their fare, and assist them at their meal.

The conversation was gay and lively, especially between the two
younger persons whom we have noticed. They were evidently in habits of
intimacy; and on the cavalier's part there appeared that tender but
cheerful attention to his fair companion, which argued feelings of a
somewhat warmer nature than kindred affection, yet without any of that
apprehension which love, if the return be doubtful, is sure to
display. Her manner was of a different kind; it was not less
affectionate, it was not less gentle, but it was of that light and
playful character, under which very deep and powerful attachment
sometimes endeavours to conceal itself: the timidity which hides
itself in boldness, the consciousness of feeling deeply, which
sometimes leads to the assumption of feeling little. It was
understood, however, and appreciated by her lover, who, possibly, had
taken some more serious moment, when the light and active guardian of
the casket slept, to pry into the secret of the heart within.

Love, however, it would appear, is insatiable of assurances; and,
probably, it was on some fresh demand for a new, or greater
acknowledgment, that the lady replied to a half-whispered speech:
"Certainly, dear Hugh! Can you doubt it? I will try, with all my mind,
to love you; for, as we are to be married, whether we love each other
or not, it is but good policy to strive to do so if it be possible."
And as she spoke, she fixed her eyes upon her companion's face, with a
look of malicious inquiry, as if to see what effect the lukewarmness
of her speech would produce upon a heart she knew to be sufficiently

He only laughed, however, and replied, "Sing me a song, then, dear
Alice, to cheer these green woods, and make me think you love me
better than you do."

"Not I, indeed," replied the young lady. "In the first place, I would
not cheat you for the world; and in the next place, neither song nor
_pastourelle_, nor _sirvente_, nor _virelai_, will I ever sing, till I
am asked in song myself. Sing, sing, Hugh! You have been at the bright
court of France, and are, I know, a master of the _gaie science_. Sing
the light lay you sang yester evening; or some other, if you know one.
It matters not which."

"Be it so, if you will sing afterwards," replied the young cavalier;
and without farther question than an inquiring glance towards the Lord
of Hannut, he sang, in a full, rich, melodious voice, one of the
common songs of the day, which was not altogether inapplicable to her
speech. The words, though in a different language, were somewhat to
the following effect:--


   Sing in the days of the spring-time, beloved;
     In those days of sweetness, oh, sing to me!
   When all things by one glad spirit are moved,
     From the sky-lark to the bee.

   Sing in the days, too, of summer-time, dearest;
     In those days of fire, oh, sing to me then!
   When suns are the brightest, and skies are clearest,
     Sing, sing in the woods again.

   Sing to me still in the autumn's deep glory;
     In the golden fall-time, oh, be not mute!
   Some sweet, wand'ring ditty from ancient story,
     That well with the time may suit.

   Sing to me still in the dark hours of sadness,
     When winter across the sky is driven;
   But sing not the wild tones of mirth and gladness,
     Then sing of peace and heaven.

"A pretty song enough, for a man to sing," observed the young lady, as
her lover concluded; "but, as I do not choose to be dictated to by
anybody, I shall even sing you such a song as suits me myself, whether
in season or out of season. What say you, dearest uncle?" she added,
turning to the Lord of Hannut; and laying the fair rounded fingers of
her soft hand upon his, "What shall I sing him?" And as she spoke, she
raised her eyes towards the sky, as if trying to remember some
particular lay from amongst the many that she knew; but scarcely had
she done so, when an involuntary cry burst from her lips--"Good
Heaven!" she exclaimed, "there are armed men looking at us from the
top of the bank: there, there!"

Every one started up, and turned their eyes in the direction which
hers had taken. There was, indeed, a rustle heard amongst the trees;
and a stone or two, detached from above, rolled down the crag, and
plunged into the stream at its foot. But no one was to be seen; and,
after gazing for a moment in silence, the lover beckoned one of his
attendants to follow, and bounding up the most difficult part of the
cliff, notwithstanding the fair girl's entreaty to forbear, he plunged
into the brushwood, in pursuit of the person who had disturbed their

"You are dreaming, my fair Alice," said the Lord of Hannut; "and have
sent poor Hugh de Mortmar on a foolish errand."

"Nay, indeed, uncle," replied Alice, "I dreamed not at all. I am not
one to dream in such a sort. For Heaven's sake! bid one ride to bring
us assistance, and send some of the men up to aid poor Hugh; for, as
sure as I live, I saw two or three faces with steel caps above,
looking through the branches of the trees. Hark! do you not hear
voices? Climb up, sirs, if you be men, and aid your young lord."

The attendants looked to the baron; and on his part, the Lord of
Hannut only smiled with an air of incredulity; when, much, indeed, to
the surprise of Alice, her lover appeared above the moment after; and,
springing easily down the rock, declared that all was clear beyond.

She gazed on him for a moment in serious silence, and then merely
replied--"It is very strange!" Hugh de Mortmar cast himself down again
by her side, and once more pressed her to sing; but it was in vain.
Alice was agitated and alarmed; and finding it impossible to shake off
her terror, she besought her uncle to break up the party and return to
the castle, notwithstanding assurances from all that she must have
been deceived by the waving of some of the boughs, or the misty spray
of the cataract.

Finding, at length, that to reason with her was fruitless, her uncle
agreed to return; and the horses being led forward, the whole party
remounted, and, with their hawks once more upon their hands, made the
best of their way back towards the castle of Hannut. For the first two
or three miles, Alice continued anxiously to watch every opening of
the trees on either side of the road; remaining in such a state of
alarm, that her falcon's wings were continually flapping, from the
agitated haste with which she turned to gaze on every object that they
passed on the road. It was only when they came within sight of the
vassal town, and the castle on its high rock, about half a mile
beyond, that she seemed to consider herself in safety; and the long,
deep breath she drew, as they passed through the barbacan, announced
what a load was taken off her mind when she found herself within the
walls of her uncle's castle.

"You have dwelt so long in cities, dear Alice," said the Lord of
Hannut, laughing, "that the forest is a strange world to you; and your
imagination peoples it with creatures of its own. I shall write to
your father, my good Lord of Imbercourt, to say, that he must leave
you many a month with me yet, till we have cured you of seeing these
wild men of the woods."

"Nay, uncle," replied the young lady, who had by this time recovered
her playful spirits, and looked up in his face as she spoke, with a
smile of arch meaning; "if I were to be terrified with imaginary
things, I can tell you I should not have come at all; for my maids
have got many a goodly story of the castle of Hannut and its forest,
ay, and of its lord to boot; and, on the morning after our arrival, I
found that they had all burnt shoes and twisted necks, with sitting
the whole of the night before, with their feet in the fire and their
heads turned over their shoulders."

The Lord of Hannut heard her with a melancholy smile. "And hadst thou
no fear thyself, my fair Alice?" he demanded; "didst thy imagination
never fill the dark end of the chamber with sprites and hobgoblins?"

"Nay, nay, in truth, not I!" replied the young lady; "such things have
no terrors for me; but, when I saw three armed men looking down upon
us in the forest, and thought that there might be thirty more behind,
there was some cause for terror."

The Lord of Hannut and Hugh de Mortmar--in whom the reader has,
doubtless, by this time discovered that Hugh of Guildres, who, twenty
years before, was found sleeping by the cascade--looked at each other
with a meaning smile, but replied nothing; and, indeed, the
conversation was here brought to a conclusion by a variety of unwonted
sounds which now suddenly rose up from the forest below. Seldom was
it, in truth, that those wild woods rang with the clang of charging
horse, and echoed to the blast of the trumpets; but such was the case
in the present instance; and, as the sounds came borne upon the wind
through the open windows, the brow of the Lord of Hannut darkened, and
his eye flashed, while the cheek of the younger cavalier flushed as if
with anger.

"By the Lord! our fair Alice is right, it would seem!" cried Hugh de
Mortmar; "there are more men in the wood than we thought for. What,
ho! warder!" he exclaimed, leaning from the narrow window and shouting
to some one stationed in the gallery of a tall slender tower, which,
more like some Moorish minaret than anything else, rose, towering
above all the others on the opposite side of the court-yard. "What,
ho! warder, what seest thou down in the woods below? By the Lord!
there is another blast," he added, as the trumpets again echoed
through the woods.

The next moment the loud voice of the warder was heard in reply: "I
see a plump of spears under the arms of Burgundy, running down a
handful of the green riders; but they have not caught them yet. They
come closer: they come closer," he added; "but the riders make
face; they turn again, and spur on; the men-at-arms are thrown out;
but I can see no more, my lord; they have all got beneath the haggard

"Sound the ban-cloche, ho!" exclaimed the young cavalier: "arm, and
saddle! arm, and saddle, below there!" he continued, shouting to some
of the groups who were assembled in the court-yard. "I would fain see
who it is," he added, turning to the Lord of Hannut, "who dares to
hunt down any men in these woods, your free domain, without your good
leave, my lord."

"Beware, Hugh, beware!" said the Lord of Hannut, holding up his hand
with a monitory gesture.

"I will, I will, indeed, my lord," he replied; "I will be most
cautious." So saying, he sprang down the steps into the court-yard,
and, while the great bell or ban-cloche rang out its warning peal over
hill and dale, he gave rapid orders for arming a small body of men;
and was springing on his own horse to lead them down to the valley,
when the warder called from above, announcing that the party of
Burgundians he had before seen, together with a considerable troop of
strangers, were winding up the steep road that led directly to the

Hugh de Mortmar paused; and the instant after, a trumpet was blown at
the barbacan, by a squire sent forward by the party to give notice of
the approach of the noble Lord of Imbercourt to the dwelling of his
good brother-in-law of Hannut.

The gates of the castle were immediately thrown open; the armed
retainers of its lord were drawn up to receive his honoured guest; and
Alice ran down to meet her father, whose unexpected coming seemed a
gratifying event to all. Hugh de Mortmar, however, lingered behind,
conversing for a few moments in a low and hurried tone with the Lord
of Hannut; and the only words which were heard, "It is strange that he
should have done so in your domains, my lord, a man so careful in his
conduct as he is in general. They surely would never dare to attack
_him_," seemed to show that the two gentlemen spoke of the events
which had just taken place in the forest.

While thus conversing, they overtook Alice of Imbercourt, whose
impatience had hurried her forward; and then dropping the subject,
they advanced with her even beyond the grate of the barbacan, and
stood on the edge of the hill, looking down upon the large party that
approached, as it wound slowly up the steep ascent which led to the

The cavalcade soon came near; and it became evident, as it did so,
that it comprised two distinct bodies: the one being but partially
armed, and riding under the banner of the Lord of Imbercourt; the
other being clothed in steel from head to heel, and bearing
conspicuous the cognizance of the house of Burgundy. The first band,
however, was the most numerous, and might consist, perhaps, of a
hundred men-at-arms, independent of a number of grooms, horse-boys,
and varlets, as they were called, leading several spare horses, some
perfectly unburdened, and some loaded with large quantities of armour
tied together confusedly with ropes and chains, and so disposed as to
be little burdensome to the horse. The other party seemed to have no
baggage of any kind; and the arms of all sorts which they employed,
they bore about their own persons.

Thus accoutred, both bodies wound on up the slope, glancing in and out
of the scattered wood, which, tinted with all the thousand shades of
the declining sun, clothed the ascent, and cast long marking shadows
across the winding road of yellow sand. Now, the horsemen passing
through the depths of the wood could scarcely be distinguished from
the trees amidst which they advanced; now, emerging from the
overhanging boughs, they stood out clear upon the evening sky, as
their path skirted along the edge of the cliff. At first all appeared
indistinct: one confused mass of horses and riders; but, soon coming
nearer, the form of each individual horseman became defined; and
gradually their features, as they wore their helmets up, could be
distinguished by those who stood and watched their approach.

At the head of the first party rode a tall, handsome, middle-aged man,
with a countenance which was grave, without being austere. When within
a few yards of the top of the hill, he threw his horse's rein to a
squire, and, springing lightly to the ground, advanced with a quick
step towards the little group of persons assembled to meet him.
Yielding first to natural affection, he cast his arms round his
daughter, Alice of Imbercourt, and pressed her to his bosom. He then
saluted frankly and kindly the Lord of Hannut and Hugh de Mortmar;
and, as he held their hands in each of his, he said, in a low and
hurried tone intended to meet their ear, and their ear alone, before
the rest of the party came up, "I beseech you, my good brother, and
you, my dear Hugh, whom one day I shall call my son, whatever you may
hear presently, bridle your anger. Your rights have been somewhat
violated by the leader of that band behind; but I have prevailed upon
him to desist: and both because he is a high officer of our sovereign
lord the duke, and because these times are too threatening from abroad
to admit of feuds between subjects at home, I entreat you to govern
your indignation as much as may be."

The followers of Imbercourt had halted as soon as they reached the
level ground or terrace in face of the barbacan; and the leader of the
second band, having by this time gained the brow of the hill, now rode
quickly up to the party at the gate. He was a tall, gaunt, bony man of
about forty, with keen eagle's features, and a look of that bold
assurance which proceeds more from animal courage, and a mind
continually upon its guard, than from conscious rectitude of action or
design. He was armed at all points except the head, which was covered
alone by its short curly grizzled hair, while his basinet hung beside
his axe at the saddle-bow. Such was the appearance now borne by
Maillotin du Bac, the famous Prevot Marechal of Burgundy, who, having
been himself one of the most notorious plunderers of the time, had
been appointed by Charles of Burgundy to root out the bands by which
the country was infested, probably on the faith of the old adage,
which recommends us to set a thief to catch a thief.

"You are my Lord of Hannut, fair sir, I presume?" said the Prevot,
dismounting, and speaking in a coarse, sharp, jarring tone of voice,
only fit for a hangman.

The Lord of Hannut answered by a stately bow, and the other proceeded:
"My good Lord of Imbercourt, here, whom I reverence and respect, as in
duty bound, he being as stout a soldier as he is a worthy counsellor,
has but now prayed, or rather commanded, for he having taken the
responsibility upon himself, I have yielded to his injunctions, has
commanded me to desist from pursuing the brigands and plunderers who,
for many years past, have haunted this forest of Hannut."

"Sir," replied the Lord of Hannut, "I, living within the precincts of
the wood itself, am, it appears, sadly ignorant of what goes on
beneath its shade; for during nearly twenty years I have heard of no
outrage whatsoever committed within the bounds of my domain. Had I
done so, had any tale of robbery or pillage met my ears, I, as supreme
lord, holding a right of exercising justice both high and low, would
not have failed to clear the territory within my jurisdiction of such
gentry as you mention; nor shall I certainly suffer any one else to
interfere with my rights, within my own lands."

"My lord! my lord!" replied the Prevot; "I will easily furnish you
with proof that your forest is tenanted as I say. Did we not, within
this half hour, encounter a whole party of as undoubted brigands as
ever lived?"

"That you attacked some persons in the forest, Sir Prevot, was well
enough seen from the belfry of the castle," rejoined Hugh de Mortmar,
with a frowning brow; "but whether they were not as honest or honester
persons than yourself, remains to be proved, and shall be inquired
into most strictly. At all events, sir, you have infringed upon the
rights of my uncle, which must be inquired into also. Well, well, my
dear lord," he added, noticing a sign by which the Lord of Hannut
required him to be silent; "well, well, I say no more, than that these
thief-catchers grow too insolent."

The brow of Maillotin du Bac bent, his eyebrows almost met, and his
left hand played ominously with the hilt of his dagger, as he
muttered, "Thief-catchers!" But farther discussion was cut short by
the Lord of Hannut, who exclaimed, "Peace, Hugh! peace! we must not
show scanty hospitality to any one. Sir Maillotin du Bac, we will
speak farther with you hereafter, on the subjects that you mention;
and if you can prove to us that any outrage of any kind has been
committed within the limits of my domain, both my nephew and myself
will do our best to punish the offenders. But neither duke nor king
shall exercise, within my lordship, the rights which belong alone to

"Outrage, sir!" rejoined the Prevot; "did not the men who burnt the
house of the Lord of Harghen take refuge in your forests within this

"Whether they did or not, I cannot say," replied the Lord of Hannut;
"but their burning the house of that audacious villain, the oppressor
of the poor, the plunderer of the widow and the orphan, was no very
evil deed in my eyes. However, let us not bandy words here at the
gate; we will speak farther this evening."

The whole party now passed through the barbacan, and the Lord of
Hannut gave special order to his seneschal to attend to the comfort of
the soldiers, while he himself led his brother-in-law, the Lord of
Imbercourt, and a few of that nobleman's most distinguished
attendants, towards the great hall of the castle.

Maillotin du Bac followed boldly, as one of the chief guests; and
finding that no great courtesy was shown him in marshalling the way,
he exclaimed, in a loud and intrusive voice, "My lord! my lord! before
we leave our men, I must crave that you would yield me the use of a

"For your own abode, sir?" demanded Hugh de Mortmar, with not the most
gracious smile in the world.

"No, no," replied the Prevot, "but for yon prisoner there;" and he
pointed to a part of the court-yard, where two of his followers were
aiding a young man of a powerful frame and striking appearance to
dismount from his horse, which was rendered difficult by his arms
being tightly pinioned behind.

"That can be no thief, surely," said Hugh de Mortmar; "I never saw a
nobler countenance. By his dress, too, he seems a burgher of the first

"The gown does not make the monk," replied Maillotin du Bac, with a
grim smile. "If he be no thief, he may be somewhat worse. However, he
was not taken on these territories, and therefore, my good lord, his
capture can be no offence to you. For courtesy's sake, and for the
prince's service, I claim the use of a dungeon for this night. He is a
state prisoner, and must be guarded carefully."

"Be it so, Sir Prevot," answered the Lord of Hannut; "thank God, all
my dungeons are clear at present; and far be it from me to oppose the
due exercise of your office in the duke's service."

"Said like a worthy lord, as I always held you," replied the Prevot.
"Where shall we bestow him?"

"Roger de Lorens," said the Lord of Hannut, turning to his seneschal,
"show this worthy gentleman, the Prevot of our lord the duke, the
different prison-rooms beneath the square tower; let him choose which
he will, as most secure; and when he has made his choice, give him up
the key thereof. Be the prisoner under your own charge, Sir Maillotin
du Bac," he added; "yet, for the honour of my dwelling I trust that
you will let his treatment be as gentle as may be. Let him have wine
and other refreshments to keep his spirits up, I pray you."

"Black bread and foul water would be good enough for him," replied
Maillotin du Bac; "but at your request, my lord, he shall have better
fare. Sir Seneschal, I follow you; lead the way. Ho! Martin du Garch,
bring along the prisoner."

Thus saying, the Prevot of the Duke of Burgundy, who, though a knight
and a man of good family, had once, as we have before noticed, been a
notorious adventurer, and had now become the great persecutor of
his former comrades, followed the seneschal of Hannut across the
court-yard, towards the passage which led to the dungeons. In the
meanwhile, the Lord of Hannut, Hugh de Mortmar, the Lord of
Imbercourt, and his daughter Alice, advanced to the great hall, where
preparations were already in course for serving the evening meal.


While the Prevot of Burgundy had remained within ear-shot, Imbercourt
had maintained a profound silence, or, speaking in a low familiar tone
to his daughter, had appeared perfectly inattentive to what was going
on beside him. No sooner, however, had they passed on through the
great hall, and up a flight of steps, into a large sort of withdrawing
room, in which it was the custom of the guests in those days to wash
their hands before dinner, than he closed the door, and earnestly
thanked the two noble gentlemen by whom he was accompanied for their
forbearance on the present occasion. "I have much, much to tell you,
my noble brother-in-law," he said; "and much on which to ask your
advice. Much have I also to tell you, Hugh," he added, laying his hand
on the arm of the younger of the two noblemen; "but I must do it in as
few words as possible, before we are joined by that unworthy man, whom
we must not offend, though he be part spy, part hangman, part
cut-throat. In the first place, in your solitude here, you scarcely
know the state either of the duchy of Burgundy, or of the county of
Flanders; both of which are unhappily in so dangerous a situation,
that it will need infinite moderation, prudence, and skill, on the
part of all true lovers of their country, to keep us from events too
fearful to contemplate. Throughout the whole of Duke Charles's
dominions, the nobles are turbulent and discontented; the citizens
rebellious and insolent; and, to crown all, the duke himself, never
very temperate in his conduct, seems since the defeat of Granson, to
have given unbridled rein to his fury, and to have cast all common
prudence away as a burdensome incumbrance."

"We have heard, indeed," said the Lord of Hannut, "of his having
hanged a garrison of four hundred Swiss, whom he found in a town in
Lorraine, a most barbarous and inhuman act, which, if he commit many
such, will make all good men abandon him."

"Too true, indeed," replied Imbercourt; "but I fear this is but a
prelude to greater outrages."

"Ay, and to greater misfortunes," interrupted the Lord of Hannut. "If
there be any truth in the starry influences, he has met with some deep
misfortune already, and will meet with greater still ere long. When
heard you from the duke?" he added, seeing a doubtful smile curl the
lip of his brother-in-law, as he referred to an art in which
Imbercourt placed less faith than most of his contemporaries.

"Our last news is more than a fortnight old," answered Imbercourt,
"the duke was then marching rapidly towards the mountains. But it was
not of his intemperance towards the Swiss I was about to speak, though
his conduct to them has been cruel enough. Still they were enemies;
but he seems resolved to drive the men of Ghent into revolt also; and
he has commanded his prevot to arrest any one, whether merchant,
mechanic, or noble, who attempts to pass the frontier from Ghent into
France. The prisoner, whom you saw but now, is the first-fruit of this
precious order. That meddling fool, Du Bac, who, like the tiger, loves
blood for blood's sake, takes care to fulfil every intemperate order
of the duke to the very uttermost, especially against the Gandois,
towards whom he and some others of his fellows have a most deadly
hatred. I can hear of no precise offence which the prisoner has
committed, though his captor has shown me some letters found upon him,
which he would fain construe into treason; and if they urge the matter
farther against him, they will drive the men of Ghent mad outright.
Why, one half of their trade is with France!"

"How is it then, my lord," demanded Hugh, "that you do not interfere
to set him at liberty?"

"I dare not for my head," replied Imbercourt. "Besides, I am not here
in the capacity of counsellor: I am now, by the duke's order, marching
to join him with the small force that you see: all, indeed, that I
have been able to raise. But to the object of my coming! Hugh, the
duke needs men, and calls angrily on all his vassals to take the
field. Often and earnestly have I entreated for clemency towards your
father; and my entreaties have been in vain. One good stroke in the
field, however, done by your hand, were worth more than all the
eloquence that the tongue of man could ever boast. Gather together
what forces you can, and follow me to the camp, under the name you
have at present assumed. I will take care that you shall have the
opportunity of distinguishing yourself; and, from your conduct both in
Spain and Italy, I fear not but--"

"It is in vain, my lord, it is in vain," replied Hugh de Mortmar.
"Never will I draw my sword for a man who holds my father a close
prisoner: surely it is enough not to draw my sword against him; and it
has only been for the hope that this fair hand--" and as he spoke he
raised that of Alice, who had been listening, with her deep blue eyes
full of anxious attention--"and it has only been for the hope that
this fair hand would form a bond, which, uniting the fate of
Imbercourt and Gueldres together, would render them too strong for
tyranny to resist, that I have refrained, during the last year, from
attempting to open the gates of my father's prison by force, while the
oppressor is embarrassed with wars and misfortunes that his own
grasping and cruel disposition has brought upon his head."

"I cannot blame your feelings, Hugh," replied the Lord of Imbercourt,
"nor will I hurt you by pointing out the somewhat serious causes of
offence which have induced the duke to treat your father with so great
severity; but do you, at the same time, moderate your angry terms, and
remember that Charles of Burgundy is my sovereign lord, my benefactor,
and my friend. I think I need say no more."

He spoke with grave and impressive earnestness, and seemed about to
proceed to some other part of the subject, when the heavy clanging
step of Maillotin du Bac, as he walked nonchalantly up the stairs,
from the great hall, into the withdrawing room, warned the Lord of
Imbercourt that a suspicious ear was nigh, and he merely added, "We
will speak more to-night."

The Prevot entered the room with a look of great satisfaction,
slipping at the same time the handle of an enormous key over the thong
of his belt, which he again buckled over his shoulder; so that the
key, dropping down till it struck against his sword, hung by the side
of the more chivalrous weapon, offering no bad type of the character
of the wearer.

"Admirable dungeons these, my good Lord of Hannut," he reiterated as
he entered; "Admirable dungeons, admirable dungeons, indeed! Your own
construction, I doubt not, and a good construction it is. I defy the
nimblest cut-purse in the empire to make his way thence, while this
key hangs at my side. The window, indeed, the window is a little too
wide; what the devil the rogues want windows for at all, I don't
understand; but it is just a thought too wide. I have known a fat
young rogue so starve himself down in a week's time, that he would get
through a hole that would not have passed his thigh when first he was
taken. No fear of yon fellow below, however; it would require a
precious hole to pass his chest and shoulders."

"Pray, what is the poor youth's offence?" demanded the Lord of Hannut;
but as the other was about to reply, the pages and varlets, as the
inferior servants were called in that day, brought in basins, ewers,
and napkins, for the guests to wash, while the trumpets sounded loud
without; and, in a few moments afterwards, the whole party were seated
at their evening meal.

As must always be the case in such meetings, when the ingredients of
the assembly are discrepant in themselves, notwithstanding the
fortuitous circumstances which may for the time have brought them
together, the conversation was broken and interrupted. Sometimes the
loud swell of many voices made, for a minute or two, an unspeakable
din. Sometimes one or two protracted the conversation in a lower tone,
after the others had ceased; but still, every subject that was
started, dropped after a few minutes' discussion, and the parties
betook themselves again to demolishing the huge piles of meat which,
according to the custom of those times, were set before them. Wine was
in plenty, but all drank sparingly, except the Prevot, and one or two
of the officers who followed the Lord of Imbercourt. For his part,
Maillotin du Bac seemed determined that, as far as the quality of his
favours went, no jealousy should exist between the trencher and the
pottle-pot. His food swam down his throat in Burgundy, and the
consequences were such as are usual with men of strong constitutions
and well-seasoned brains. He lost not in the least degree the use of
his senses; but his tongue, on which he was never wont to impose any
very strict restraint, obtained an additional degree of liberty after
the fifth or sixth cup he had quaffed; and, perceiving the Lord of
Hannut speaking for a few moments in a low tone to his brother-in-law,
he concluded at once that their conversation must refer to his
prisoner; and, resuming the subject without farther ceremony, he
replied to the question his entertainer had put to him before
dinner--so abruptly, indeed, that for the moment no one understood
what he meant.

"Offence, indeed!" exclaimed Maillotin du Bac; "offence enough, I
trow; why now, I'll tell you how it was. We had just come out of
Namur, where we had supped, not quite so well as we have done here,
it's true; no matter for that, we had wine enough; and we were
quartering ourselves in a little village down below, when one of my
fellows, as stout a hand as ever was born, got saying something civil
to the wife of a draper, just at the door of her shop. What more I
don't know, but the foolish cullion took it into her head to cry out;
when up comes my young gallant there in the dungeon, and at one blow
fells my fellow, Stephen, to the ground with a broken jaw. What the
devil business had he with it? If he had been an old lover of hers,
well enough; but he confesses that he never saw her before till that
moment, and must come up and meddle, because she chose to squeal like
a caught hare."

Hugh de Mortmar turned his eyes upon the Lord of Imbercourt, who bit
his lip, and observed gravely: "Were this all the young man's offence,
Sir Prevot, it would behove us to consider the matter better before we
give way to your hankering for dungeons and cords."

"Ha, ha! my lord," replied the Prevot, with a grin, "not so great a
fool as that either! Had I not thought to make more of the good youth,
I would have split his skull where he stood, with my axe; and his
punishment taking place in _chaudemelee_, as the laws of St. Louis
have it, we should have heard nothing more of the matter: but I knew
the gallant well by sight: one who affects popularity amongst the
turbulent folk of Ghent; and having orders to arrest all who attempted
to cross the frontier into France, I laid hold of him forthwith,
examined his papers, and found sufficient, with a little good
management, to give him a cool dangle by the neck in the fresh air of
some fine September morning. But what need I say more? You yourself
have seen the letters."

"Meddling fool!" muttered Imbercourt to himself; "he will contrive to
drive the duke's subjects into revolt at home, while he is assailed by
enemies abroad." This speech, however, passed no farther than the ears
of the two persons next to him. And the conversation soon turned to
the bands of freebooters which, the Prevot stoutly asserted, harboured
in the forest of Hannut.

A few words passed, in an under tone, between Hugh de Mortmar and the
Lord of Hannut; and at length the old noble proceeded to discuss with
the Prevot of the Duke of Burgundy the infraction of his rights which
had been committed by that officer in the morning. The Prevot,
however, sturdily maintained his ground, declaring that he himself,
and all his band, consisting of about forty persons, had encountered
and pursued a considerable body of men, whose appearance and demeanour
left not the slightest doubt in regard to their general trade and
occupation. Going farther still, he appealed to the Lord of Imbercourt
himself, who came up while the freebooters were still in sight, and
who actually did confirm his account in every particular.

"Well, sir," replied the Lord of Hannut, "since such is the case, far
be it from me to impede the execution of justice. The maintenance of
the law within my own territories I have always hitherto attended to
myself, and that so strictly, that for twenty years I have heard of no
outrage within the limits of my own domain--"

"Why, as to that, my lord," interrupted the Prevot, grinning, "we do
hear that you have an especial police of your own: a sort of airy
archers of the guard, who keep better watch and ward than mortal eyes
can do. Nevertheless I must not neglect my duty, while I am in the
body; and in doing it, I fear neither man nor spirit."

"I know not, to what you are pleased to allude, sir," replied the Lord
of Hannut, frowning: "nevertheless I may find many means to punish
those who are insolent. However, as you say that you have seen
evil-disposed persons in the forest, and my Lord of Imbercourt here
confirms your statement, I will grant you permission for one day to
scour the whole of my domain from side to side; and if you should find
any one strong enough to make head against you, my own vassals shall
be summoned to give you aid. After that day, however, you must
withdraw your troop and retire, nor ever again presume to set foot
within my bounds without my permission."

"One day, my lord," replied the Prevot, "will be hardly--"

"I shall grant no more, sir," said the Lord of Hannut, rising from the
table, in which example he was followed by several of his guests; "I
shall grant no more, sir; and the concession which I make, proceeds
solely from a feeling of respect for my good lord the Duke of
Burgundy. Though I rise," he added, addressing all the party from a
general feeling of courtesy, "though I rise, do not hold it,
gentlemen, as a signal to break off your revelry. Spare not the
flagon, I beseech you; and here are comfits and spices to give zest to
your wine."

Thus saying, he retired from the hall; and, leading the way to the
battlements, entered into a long and, to them, interesting
conversation with Imbercourt and Hugh de Mortmar, as we shall continue
to call the son of the imprisoned Duke of Gueldres.

With all his eloquence, however, Imbercourt failed to persuade the
young cavalier to join the armies of the Duke of Burgundy. To every
argument he replied, that men fought for their friends, not their
enemies; and such he should ever hold Charles of Burgundy to be, till
Adolphus of Gueldres was set at liberty. All that could be obtained
from him was a promise not to attempt his father's liberation by arms,
till one more effort had been made to persuade Charles the Bold to
grant his freedom upon other terms.

"Consider well, Hugh, the peculiar situation in which you stand," said
the Lord of Imbercourt; "the secret of your birth rests with myself
and my good brother here alone; but did the duke know that the son of
Adolphus of Gueldres is still living, the imprisonment of your father
would, in all probability, become more severe, and your own personal
safety might be very doubtful. An ineffectual attempt to liberate him,
must instantly divulge all; nor could I--though I have promised you my
Alice, in case we can obtain by peaceful means that which we so much
desire--nor could I, as a faithful servant of the house of Burgundy,
give you my daughter's hand, if you were once actually in arms against
the lord I serve."

"It is a hard alternative," said Hugh de Mortmar--"it is a hard
alternative;" and as he spoke he bent down his eyes, and pondered for
several minutes on the difficult situation in which he was placed.

His heart, however, was full of the buoyant and rejoicing spirit of
youth; and the cares that ploughed it one minute, only caused it to
bring forth a harvest of fresh hopes the next. Hard as was his fate in
some respects, when he compared it with that of the young man who now
tenanted one of the dungeons of that very castle--a comparison to
which his mind was naturally called--he did not, indeed, feel
gratification, as some would argue, at the evils of his
fellow-creature's lot; but he felt that there was much to be grateful
for in his own. Hope, and liberty, and love, were all before him; and
his expectations rose high, as he thought how much worse his fate
might have been. Such ideas led him to think over, and to pity, the
situation of the unhappy prisoner; and quitting the subject of his own
affairs, he inquired of the Lord of Imbercourt, whether he, as a
counsellor of the duke, could not take upon himself to set the
unfortunate burgher at liberty.

"I would well-nigh give my right hand to do so," replied Imbercourt,
"not alone for the sake of simple justice to an individual, but for
the sake of the peace and tranquillity of the whole state; but I must
not do it, my young friend. I have seen the letters which Du Bac found
upon his person: they consist of little more than the murmurs and
complaints of discontented citizens, such as are to be met with in all
countries and in all times; and which, at any other period would
attract no attention whatever. At present, however, with faction and
turbulence spreading over the whole land; with courtiers, who find it
their interest to urge the duke on to acts of insane violence; and
with a prince, whose temper and power are equally uncontrollable;
those papers _may_ cost the young man's life, _will_ probably set the
city of Ghent into open revolt, and _might_ light a flame in the land
which it would require oceans of blood to extinguish. Nevertheless I
dare not interfere."

Hugh de Mortmar made no reply, but mused for a few moments in silence;
and then, with a gay, light laugh, and a jest about some other matter,
he left his two elder companions, and proceeded to seek his fair Alice
through all the long, rambling chambers, and retired and quiet bowers,
so favourable for whispered words and unmarked meetings, with which
every castle of that day was most conveniently furnished.

Maillotin du Bac, in the meanwhile, continued sturdily to bear up
under the repeated attacks of Burgundy upon his brain. Draught after
draught he swallowed, in company with some of the old and seasoned
soldiers, who were no way loth to join him; but at length the sun went
down, night fell, the cresset was lighted in the large hall; and,
unwillingly giving up his cup, he suffered the board to be removed,
and cast himself down on a seat beside the fire, which the vast extent
of the chamber, and the little sunshine that ever found its way in,
either by the high window or the far door, rendered not unpleasant
even on a summer's evening. A number of others gathered round; and the
wine having produced sufficient effect to render them all rather more
imaginative than usual, the stories of hunting and freebooters, with
which the evening commonly began, in such a castle, soon deviated into
tales of superstition. Every one had something wonderful to relate;
and such, indeed, was the unction with which many a history of ghost,
and spirit, and demon, was told by several of the party and listened
to by the auditory, that two of the Lord of Imbercourt's officers, who
were playing at tables under the light of the lamp, and several
others, who had been amusing themselves at a little distance with the
very ancient and interesting game of "pitch and toss;" abandoned those
occupations, to share more fully in the legends which were going on
round the fire. Each individual helped his neighbour on upon the road
of credulity; and when, at length, Maillotin du Bac rose, from a
sense of duty, to visit his prisoner--an attention which he never
neglected--the greater part of his companions, feeling themselves in a
dwelling whose visitors were very generally reported to be more
frequently of a spiritual than a corporeal nature, got up
simultaneously, and agreed to accompany him on his expedition.

Lighted by a torch, they wound down some of the narrow, tortuous
staircases of the building; and pausing opposite a door, the massive
strength and thickness of which the Prevot did not fail to make his
comrades remark, they were soon gratified farther by beholding the
inside of the dungeon in which the unhappy burgher was confined.
Maillotin du Bac satisfied himself of his presence, by thrusting the
torch rudely towards his face as he half sat, half reclined on a pile
of straw which had been spread out for his bed; and then setting down
a pitcher of wine which he had brought with him, the Prevot closed the
door again without a word. The only further ceremony was that of again
slipping the key over his sword-belt, from which he had detached it to
open the door; and the whole party, once more returning to upper air,
separated for the night, and retired to rest.


Leaving the brutal officer and his companions to sleep off the fumes
of the wine they had imbibed, we must return to the dungeon where, in
darkness and in gloom, sat Albert Maurice, the young burgher of Ghent;
whom, perhaps, the reader may have already recognised in the prisoner
of Maillotin du Bac.

The silent agony of impotent indignation preyed upon his heart more
painfully even than the dark and fearful anticipations of the future,
which every circumstance of his situation naturally presented to his
mind. Wronged, oppressed, trampled on; insulted by base and ungenerous
men, whose minds were as inferior to his own as their power was
superior; he cared less for the death that in all probability awaited
him, than for the degradation he already suffered, and for the
present and future oppression of his country, his order, and his
fellow-creatures, to which his hopes could anticipate no end, and for
which his mind could devise no remedy. Whatever expectation Fancy
might sometimes, in her wildest dreams, have suggested to his hopes,
of becoming the liberator of his native land, and the general
benefactor of mankind--dreams which he had certainly entertained,
though he had never acted upon them--they were all extinguished at
once by his arrest, and the events which he knew must follow.

The arrest had taken place, indeed, while engaged in no pursuit which
the most jealous tyranny could stigmatize as even seditious. He had
visited Namur with no idea of entering France--a country on which the
Duke of Burgundy looked with suspicious eyes--but simply for the
purpose of transacting the mercantile business which his uncle's house
carried on with various traders of that city. Unfortunately, however,
on his return towards Ghent, he had charged himself with several
letters from different citizens of Namur, to persons in his native
place. Both cities were at that time equally disaffected; and amongst
the papers with which he had thus burdened himself, several had
proved, under the unceremonious inspection of Maillotin du Bac, to be
of a nature which might, by a little perversion, be construed into
treason. The immediate cause of his first detention also--the fact of
having protected a woman, insulted by one of the ruffianly soldiers
of the Prevot's band, and of having punished the offender on the
spot--might, as he knew well, by the aid of a little false swearing--a
thing almost as common in those days as at present--be made to take
the semblance of resistance to legitimate authority, and be brought to
prove his connexion with the letters, of which he had been simply the
bearer, unconscious of their contents.

Under such circumstances, nothing was to be expected but an
ignominious death; no remedy was to be found, no refuge presented
itself. Though his fellow-citizens of Ghent might revolt--though his
friends and relations might murmur and complain--revolt and complaint,
he well knew, would only hurry his own fate, and aggravate its
circumstances, without proving at all beneficial to his country.

Had he, indeed, seen the slightest prospect of the indignation which
his death would cause, wakening the people of his native place to such
great, generous, and well-directed exertions, as would permanently
establish the liberties of the land, there was in his own bosom that
mixture of pride, enthusiasm, and patriotism, which would have carried
him to the scaffold with a feeling of triumph rather than degradation.
But when his eye wandered over all those he knew in Ghent--nay, in all
Flanders--and sought to find a man fitted by nature and by
circumstances to lead and direct the struggles of the middle and lower
classes against the tyranny that then oppressed the land, he could
find none, in whose character and situation there were not
disadvantages which would frustrate his endeavours, or render them
more pernicious than beneficial to the country. His own death, he
felt, must extinguish the last hope of the liberty of Flanders, at
least for the time; and neither zeal nor passion could offer anything,
gathered from the prospect before him, to counterbalance, even in the
slightest degree, the natural antipathy of man to the awful separation
of soul and body. On the contrary, every accessory particular of his
fate was calculated to aggravate his distress, by accumulating upon
his head indignities and wrongs. He was to be dragged into his native
town amongst grooms and horse-boys, bound with cords like a common
thief, paraded through the long and crowded streets in mid-day to the
common prison, from whence he was alone to issue for the gibbet or the

Such were the subjects of his contemplation--such were the images that
thronged before his mind's eye, as, with a burning heart and aching
brow, and with a lip that seemed as if some evil angel had breathed
upon it all the fire of his own, he lay stretched upon the straw,
which was the only bed that his gaoler had afforded him.

The dungeon was all in darkness; for, either from carelessness or
design, no light had been left with him. But could his face have been
seen, notwithstanding the agonizing thoughts that thrilled through his
bosom, none of those wild contortions would there have been traced,
which affect weaker beings under the like pangs. His hand was pressed
sometimes firmly upon his brow, as if to hold the throbbing veins from
bursting outright; and sometimes he bit his under lip unconsciously,
or shut his teeth hard, striving to prevent the despair which mastered
his heart from announcing its dominion by a groan. His eye might have
been seen full of keen anguish, and the bright red flushing of his
cheek might have told how strongly the body sympathized with the pangs
of the mind; but all that the clearest light could have displayed
would have been an effort to repress what was passing within, not the
weakness of yielding to it. He lay quite still, without one voluntary
movement--he suffered not his limbs to writhe--he tossed not to and
fro, in the restlessness of agony--but remained quiet, if not
tranquil, though full of deep, bitter, burning, voiceless thoughts.

Thus hour passed after hour--for the wings of time, as they fly
through the night of despair, are as rapid as when they cut the
mid-day sky of joy. Thus hour passed after hour, from the time that
the brutal Prevot closed the door of the dungeon; and the prisoner
could scarcely believe that the castle clock was right, when
eleven--midnight--one o'clock, chimed rapidly one after another, each
leaving, between itself and the last, an interval that seemed but of a
few minutes.

The single stroke upon the bell--that, echoing through the long,
solitary, and now silent passages and courts of the castle, passed
unheeded by the sleeping guests, and only told to the watchful warder,
or the sentry, that the first hour of a new day was gone--had scarcely
sounded upon the ear of Albert Maurice when a new noise called his
attention. It was a harsh, heavy, grating sound, as of some weighty
body pushed slowly over a rough surface; and it appeared so near that
his eye was immediately turned towards the door of the dungeon,
expecting to see it open. It moved not, however: the sound still went
on; and he now perceived that it did not come from that side of the

The apartment itself was a low-roofed, massive chamber, just below the
surface of the earth; and seemed to be partly excavated from the rock
on which the castle stood, partly formed by the solid foundations of
the building. A single window, or spiracle, of about twelve inches in
diameter, passed upwards through the thick masonry, to the external
air beyond: and one of those short, massive pillars, which we
sometimes see in the crypts of very ancient churches, standing in the
centre, supported the roof of the dungeon, and apparently the basement
of the castle itself; under the tremendous weight of which, a fanciful
mind might have conceived the column to be crushed down; so broad and
clumsy were its proportions, in comparison with those of the rudest
Tuscan shaft that ever upheld a portico.

From behind this pillar, the sounds that the prisoner heard appeared
to proceed; and he might have imagined that some human being, confined
in a neighbouring chamber, sought to communicate with him through the
walls, had it not happened that he had caught the words of the Lord of
Hannut in the morning; when, in speaking with Maillotin du Bac, that
nobleman had declared that all the dungeons of the castle were
untenanted. Still the noise continued, becoming more and more distinct
every moment; and as, leaning on his arm upon his couch of straw, he
gazed earnestly towards the other side of the vault, a single bright
ray of light burst suddenly forth upon the darkness, and, streaming
across the open space, painted a long perpendicular pencil of yellow
brightness upon the wall close beside him.

Albert Maurice started upon his feet; and perceived, to his surprise,
the ray he beheld issued, beyond all doubt, from the body of the
pillar itself. The reputed commune of the Lord of Hannut with the
beings of another world, his dark and mysterious studies, and the
extraordinary fulfilment which many of his astrological predictions
were reported to have met with, had often reached the ear of Albert
Maurice; but his mind was too enlightened to be credulous, at least,
to that extent to which credulity was generally carried in that age.
All the fearful circumstances, too, of his new situation had hitherto
blotted out from his memory the rumours he had heard; and when he had
entered the castle of Hannut, he looked upon it merely as a place of
temporary confinement, from which he was to be led to ignominy and
death. Now, however, when he beheld with his own eyes a beam of light,
doubly bright from the darkness around, breaking forth from the face
of the solid masonry, without any obvious cause or means, all that he
had heard rose to remembrance, and without absolutely giving credit to
the different tales which he thus recalled, he was certainly startled
and surprised; and held his breath, with a feeling of awe and
expectation, as he gazed on the spot whence that mysterious ray seemed
to proceed.

At the same time, the sound continued, and gradually, as it went on,
the light expanded and grew more and more diffused. At length, it
became evident, that a part of the massy column, about two feet from
the ground, was opening in a perpendicular direction, slowly but
steadily; and that the light issued from the aperture left by the
rolling back, on either side, of two of the large stones which
appeared to form a principal part of the shaft. For the first few
minutes, the vacancy did not extend to a hand's breadth in wideness,
though to about three feet in height, and nothing could be seen
beyond, but the light pouring forth from within. A minute more,
however, so much increased the aperture, that Albert Maurice could
perceive a gauntleted hand, and an arm clothed in steel, turning
slowly round in the inside what seemed to be the winch of a wheel. The
form, to which this hand and arm belonged, was for some time concealed
behind the stone; but, as the opening became larger, the blocks
appeared to move with greater facility, and, at length, rolling back
entirely, displayed to the eyes of the prisoner a narrow staircase in
the heart of the pillar, with the head, arms, and chest of a powerful
man, covered with armour. Beside him stood a complicated piece of
machinery; by the agency of which, two of the large stones, forming
the shaft of the column, were made to revolve upon the pivots of iron,
that connected them with the rest of the masonry; and in a bracket, on
the stairs, was fixed the burning torch, which afforded the light that
now poured into the dungeon.

Albert Maurice stood gazing in no small surprise. The feeling of
awe--which, however near akin to fear, was not fear--that he had felt
on first perceiving the light, was now succeeded by other sensations;
and, had there been the slightest resemblance between the personal
appearance of the man who stood before him, and that of Maillotin du
Bac, or any of his band, he would have supposed that the purpose of
the Prevot was to despatch him in prison; an event which not
unfrequently took place, in the case of prisoners whose public
execution might be dangerous to the tranquillity of the state.

Totally different, however, in every respect, was the person whom he
now beheld; for, though his form could not well be distinguished under
the armour by which he was covered, yet that armour itself was a
sufficient proof, at least to Albert Maurice, that the stranger was in
no way connected with the band of the Prevot. Every plate of his mail
was painted of a deep, leafy green; and even his helmet, which was
without crest or plume, and the visor of which was down, was of the
same forest colour. In other respects he seemed a tall, powerful man,
formed equally for feats of activity and strength.

Little time was allowed the prisoner for making further observations;
for as soon as the stones had been rolled back as far as their
construction permitted, the unexpected visitor at once sprang into the
dungeon; though the young burgher remarked at the same time, that a
leap which would have made any other arms clang, with a noise
sufficient to awaken the whole castle, produced no sound from those of
his new visitor.

The mechanical means which he had used to procure an entrance had, at
once, banished all superstitious fancies from the mind of Albert
Maurice, nor did even his noiseless tread recall them. The young
burgher, however, still looked upon the man-at-arms with some feelings
of doubt and astonishment; though his own presence in the dungeon was
far from seeming to surprise this nocturnal visitor, who, advancing
directly towards him, clasped his arm, saying, in a low voice, "Follow

Albert Maurice paused, and gazed upon the stranger--over whose green
armour the flashing red light of the torch cast a fitful and
unpleasant glare--with a glance of suspicion and hesitation; but his
irresolution was removed at once, by the other demanding, in the same
clear and distinct, but low tone, "Can you be worse than you are

"Lead on," he replied; "I follow you."

"Pass through," said his visitor, pointing with his hand to the
aperture in the column. Albert Maurice again hesitated: but a moment's
reflection upon the hopelessness of his situation--the inefficacy of
resistance, even if anything evil were meditated against him--together
with the thought, that it were better to die, murdered in a prison,
than to be exposed as a spectacle to the multitude by public
execution, mingled with a strong hope, that relief was at hand, though
he knew not whence that relief might come--made him cast away all
doubts; and, stepping over the mass of stone, below the aperture, he
found himself in a staircase only sufficiently large to admit the
ascent or descent of one person at a time. The secret entrance, which
it afforded to that dungeon, seemed its only object; for, to all
appearance, it was carried up no farther through the column; the space
above being occupied by the machinery for moving the blocks of stone.

"Descend a few steps," said the stranger, "that I may close the
passage." And as soon as he found himself obeyed, he also entered the
gap; and applying the full strength of his powerful arm to the winch
which moved the machinery, he succeeded, in a few minutes, in rolling
the heavy blocks so exactly back into their places in the masonry,
that not even in the inside could it be seen that they did not form a
part of the wall of the staircase.

When this was accomplished, he said, in the same abrupt manner in
which he had before spoken, "Go on!" and then followed the prisoner,
holding the torch as far before him as possible, to let the other see
the way as he descended step by step. After having proceeded for about
fifteen or twenty yards, Albert Maurice found his further progress
opposed by a strong oaken door, but it was unlocked; and having pushed
it open by the desire of his conductor, he stepped forth into a small
vaulted chamber, not unlike in shape the dungeon he had just left. The
light of another torch which was burning there, however, displayed
various objects strewed about in different parts of the room, which
showed him at once that the purposes to which it was applied were very
different from those of the cell above. Several cloaks and gowns were
piled upon a bench close to the door; and across them leaned, with one
end resting on the floor, a common pike or reiter's lance, and a large
two-handed sword. A barrel of wine, or some other liquor, occupied one
corner of the apartment; and in the midst was placed a table, on which
stood a large leathern bottle, or _bottiau_, with two or three
drinking horns.

Sitting on a bench at the far end of this table, on which his head and
arms rested, was a man apparently sound asleep. He was armed all but
his head, which was covered alone by its own long tangled black hair;
but his armour was of a very different kind from that of the stranger
who had guided Albert Maurice thither, consisting alone of one of
those light suits of body mail, which were called brigandines; and the
common use of which, amongst the lawless soldiers of the day, had
acquired for them the name of brigands. The general hue of his whole
dress, however, was green, like his companion's, and Albert Maurice
was soon led to conceive, that he was in the hands of a party of those
bold adventurers, who in that part of the country had succeeded the
schwarz reiters, or black horsemen, and had obtained, from the general
colour of their dress, the title of green riders. It is true that the
latter had displayed, upon all occasions, a much more generous and
noble spirit than their predecessors, whose sole trade was blood and
carnage. As they abstained totally from plundering the peasants, and
directed their attacks in general against persons who were in some way
obnoxious to the better part of the population, the green riders were
far from unpopular throughout the country. Many of them were known to
show themselves familiarly at village feasts and merry-makings; and
upon the borders of France and Flanders, their general name had been
changed, from these circumstances, into that of _Les Verts Gallants_,
though it seemed that their principal leader was more particularly
distinguished by this appellation. Nor was the acquisition of this
pleasant title the only effect of their popularity, which produced for
themselves a much more beneficial result, by making both peasant and
burgher, and even many of the feudal lords themselves, anxious to
connive at the escape of the green riders, whenever they were pursued
by superior bodies of troops.

Into the hands of some one of their parties Albert Maurice now clearly
saw that he had fallen; and as the sort of romantic life which they
led had caused a thousand stories to be spread concerning them--some
strange and extraordinary enough, but none more common than that of
their finding access into towns and castles without any visible
means--their connexion with the dwelling of the Lord of Hannut
required no explanation to the young citizen.

The moment he had entered the chamber which we have just described,
the Vert Gallant, as we shall henceforth term the person who had led
Albert Maurice thither, closed the heavy door which cut off the
communication with the staircase, and locked and barred it with no
small precaution. Advancing towards the table, he shook the slumberer
by the shoulder, who, starting up, merely required a sign to place
himself in the position of a sentry, at the mouth of a dark passage
which led from the other side of the chamber.

"Now, Sir Burgher," said the Vert Gallant, approaching Albert Maurice,
"you have penetrated into places which the eye of none of your cast or
craft ever beheld before; and, as you have been led thither solely for
your benefit and safety, you must take a serious oath, for the
security of those who have conferred upon you so great a favour."

"That I will willingly," replied Albert Maurice, "although Heaven only
knows whether it may prove a benefit to me or not."

"Rule yourself by my directions," replied the other, "and fear not for
the result. But first for the oath." So saying, he unsheathed his
sword, and holding up the cross which formed the hilt, before the eyes
of the young burgher, he added, "Swear by this blessed symbol of our
salvation, by your faith in the Saviour who died upon the cross, by
your hope for his aid at your utmost need, by all that you hold dear
upon the earth and sacred beyond the earth, never to reveal, by word,
sign, or token, or in any other manner whatever, anything that you
have seen from the moment that you quitted the dungeon above, or that
you may see as I lead you hence."

"Willingly do I swear," replied Albert Maurice, and he pressed the
hilt of the sword upon his lips. "Nevertheless," he added, "for the
security of all, fair sir, I would rather that, by bandaging my eyes,
you should take from me the means of betraying you, even if I would."

"Hast thou no confidence in thine own honour?" demanded the Vert
Gallant. "If so, by the Lord, I regret that I took the trouble to save
so scurvy a clown!"

The eye of the prisoner flashed, and his cheek grew red; but, after a
moment's pause, he replied, "Not so. It is not that I doubt my own
honour, for I have sworn not to betray you, or to reveal anything that
I may see; and that torture has not yet been invented by the demons
who are permitted to rule so much upon our earth, that could tear from
me one word in violation of that oath. Nevertheless, sir, I would
rather be able to say that I cannot, than that I will not tell, and
therefore I proposed the means at which you scoff without cause."

"Thou art right, and I am wrong, stranger," answered the other. "Be it
so then. With this scarf I will bind up thine eyes. But first," he
added, "take a draught of wine, for thou wilt have to travel far ere

So saying, he filled one of the horns upon the table to the brim, and
presented it to the young burgher, who drank it off. The Vert Gallant
himself, however, did not unclose the visor of his helmet, to partake
of the beverage he gave to the other. As soon as the citizen had
drained the cup, his guide took the scarf from the bench, and bound it
over his eyes, saying with a light laugh as he did so, "I am clumsy at
the work with these gauntlets on, but better have my fingers busy at
thy temples, than the hangman's busy at thy neck. Now give me thy
hand," he added; "the way is rough, so mind thy footing as we go."

Albert Maurice was now led forward to the mouth of the passage, at
which the other adventurer stood; and he then advanced for some way
over an uneven pavement, till at length he was told that there were
steps to descend. Of these there were about thirty, and he remarked,
as he went down, that the air became very close and oppressive. He
thought, too, that he heard many voices speaking and laughing beyond;
and as he proceeded, it became clear that it was so, for by the time
he and his guide had reached the bottom of the descent, the sound of
merriment burst clear upon his ear. "Now, pause for a moment," said
his companion, and at the same time he struck three hard blows with
his mailed hand, upon what seemed to be a door. All instantly became
silent within, and then a single blow upon the woodwork was struck
from the other side. It was answered in the same manner, by one stroke
more; and the next moment, after some clattering and grating caused by
the turning of more than one key, and by the removing of more than one
large bar, the door was apparently thrown open; and Albert Maurice
could tell, by the freer air which he breathed, that he was led
forward into some apartment of much larger dimensions than any he had
yet seen. No voice was heard; but the sound of moving feet, and of
seats pushed on one side, as well as the steam of wine and dressed
meats, showed clearly that they had now entered some scene of late or
present festivity. The person who had conducted him thither soon let
go his hand, but at the same time he heard his voice, exclaiming,
"Now, unbind his eyes for a few minutes. Have my orders been obeyed?"

While several voices were busily answering this question, by detailing
the despatch of a number of messengers, as it seemed, in different
directions, and for purposes which Albert Maurice could not gather
from what was said, two persons undid the scarf which had been tied
round his head, and he suddenly found himself in a scene which may
need a more detailed description.

The apartment in which he stood, if apartment it could be called, was
neither more nor less than an immense cavern, or excavation in the
limestone rock, from which, as it bore evidently the traces of human
labour, it is probable that at some remote period the stone for
constructing one or several large buildings had been hewn out. In
height it might be twenty or five and twenty feet, and in width it was
considerably more; the length was about eighty yards, and the farther
end, on one side, was closed by a wooden partition. Overhead the rock
was left rough and irregular, but the sides, very nearly to the top,
were perpendicular, and tolerably smooth, while the floor, or rather
the ground, had of course been made as level as possible in its
original construction, for the purpose of rolling out the blocks of
stone with greater facility. Extending down the centre of this
spacious apartment was a table, covered with various sorts of food.
The viands which it sustained consisted chiefly of immense masses of
solid meat, amongst which, though beef and mutton bore a certain
share, yet the stag, the wild boar, and the fallow deer, with other of
the forest tenants, had contributed not a little to make up the
entertainment. On either side of this table, which, by the way, was
itself formed of planks, bearing traces of the saw much more evidently
than those of the plane, were ranged an innumerable multitude of
benches, stools, and settles of the same rude description. From these
had risen up, as it seemed, on the entrance of the prisoner and his
companion, the mixed population of the cavern, consisting of nearly
two hundred cavaliers, as sturdy, and, apparently, as veteran as ever
drew sword or mounted horse; and, when the bandage was removed from
the eyes of the young citizen, he found that a number of those whose
habiliments seemed to point them out as the most distinguished, were
thronging round the person who had led him thither.

"John and Nicholas have gone to the west," cried one, "to tell the
band of St. Bavon to keep beyond Ramilies." "Adolph of Sluy," cried
another, "has tidings by this time that he must remain within the
bounds of Liege." "The little monk, too," said an old, white-headed
man, of a florid, healthy complexion, which showed that time had
hitherto wrestled with him nearly in vain, "the little monk, too, is
trotting away on his mule towards Mierdorp, though he complained
bitterly of being obliged to set out before the feast was on the
table, and has carried away, in his wallet, a roasted hare from the
fire, as long as my arm, and a bottle of the old Bonne that we got out
of the cellar of Ambly."

"He shall feast well another time for his pains," replied the Vert
Gallant, moving towards the head of the table, at which a large armed
chair, like a throne, stood vacant, "he shall feast well another time
for his pains, good Matthew; but we must make this stranger taste of
our hospitality while the horses are saddling without. Sit down, Sir
Citizen," he added, turning to Albert Maurice, "sit down, and refresh
yourself before you go;" and he pointed to a vacant seat by his side.

"I thank you, sir," replied the young burgher; "but the grief I have
undergone, and the anxieties I have suffered, have dulled the edge of
appetite with me more than the banquet of a prince could have done;
and I would fain see myself once more upon my road to Ghent, if such
be the fate intended for me."

"Ha! ha!" exclaimed the old man whom we have before noticed. "See what
frail things these townsmen are, that a little anxiety and fear should
take away their appetite; but thou wilt drink, good friend, if thou
wilt not eat. Here, merry men all, fill to the brim, and drink with me
to our noble leader, 'Here's to the Vert Gallant of Hannut!'"

The proposal was like an electric shock to all. Each man started on
his feet, and with loud voice and overflowing cup, drank, "To the Vert
Gallant of Hannut! and may the sword soon restore to him what the
sword took from him!"

"Thank you, my friends, thank you," replied the Vert Gallant, as soon
as their acclamation had subsided; "I drink to you all. May I need
your aid and not find it, when I forget you!" and so saying, he raised
the visor of his helmet sufficiently to allow himself to bring the cup
to his lip. The eye of the young burgher fixed eagerly upon him,
anxious, as may be well supposed, to behold the countenance of a man
holding such an extraordinary station. What was his surprise, however,
when the small degree in which the leader of the green riders suffered
his face to appear, exposed to view the countenance of a negro.


An involuntary exclamation of astonishment burst from the lips of
Albert Maurice; and the Vert Gallant instantly closed his helmet.

"Now, Sir Citizen," he said, without noticing the other's surprise,
"we will once more forward on our way. Some one bind his eyes again;
and you, good friend, lend me your ear for a moment. Mark well,"
he said, speaking in a lower voice to the elder man already
mentioned--"mark well that all the precautions are taken which I
ordered. Be sure the tracks of the horses' feet, for more than a mile,
be completely effaced. Roll the large stones down, as I told you, over
the mouth, and let not a man show his head during the whole day. If,
notwithstanding all, you should be discovered, and the fools will rush
upon their fate, send round fifty men by the back of the rock, and on
your life, let not one of the band escape. I say not slay them: take
every man to mercy that is willing; but suffer not one living man to
pass the bounds of the forest if they once discover you. If, however,
they miss the track entirely, as doubtless they will, then, should I
not see you before to-morrow night, pick me out fifty of the best
riders, and the quickest handed men; let their horses be kept saddled,
and not a break in their mail; for I do not purpose that this Prevot
should hie him back to Brussels without being met withal."

By the time the Vert Gallant had given these directions, the scarf was
once more bound round the eyes of Albert Maurice, and he was again led
forward by the hand, apparently passing through several halls and
passages. In one instance, the peculiar smell of horses, and the
various sounds that he heard, convinced him that he was going through
a stable; and, in a few minutes after, receiving a caution to walk
carefully, he was guided down a steep descent, at the end of which the
free open air blew cool upon his cheek. The bandage was not removed,
however, for some moments, though, by feeling the grass and withered
leaves beneath his feet, he discovered that he was once more under the
boughs of the forest.

At length the voice of him who had been his conductor throughout,
desired him to halt, and uncover his eyes, which he accordingly did,
and found himself, as he expected, in the deepest part of the wood.

"Now follow me on, Sir Citizen!" said the Vert Gallant, "and as we go,
I will tell you how you must conduct yourself. Make your way straight
to Mierdorp, where you will arrive probably about the grey of the
dawn. As you are going into the village, you will be joined by a
certain monk, to whom you will say, 'Good morrow, Father Barnabas,'
and he will immediately conduct you on your road towards Namur. Halt
with him at the village where you were first arrested. Speak with the
syndic, or deacon, or any other officer of the place, and get together
all the written testimony you can concerning the cause of your arrest.
Then return to Ghent if you will. It may be that no accuser ever will
appear against you, but if there should, boldly appeal to the Princess
Mary, who is left behind by her father at Ghent. State the real
circumstances which caused your arrest at Gembloux, and call upon your
accuser to bring forward any proofs against you. But mark well, and
remember, walk not late by night. Go not forth into the streets alone.
Always have such friends and companions about you as may witness your
arrest, and second your appeal to the princess. For there are such
things, Sir Citizen, as deaths in prison without judgment."

"I shall remember with gratitude, sir," replied the young burgher,
"all that you have been pleased to say, and all that you have done in
my behalf. But on one point I must needs think you mistake. If I know
where I am rightly, we are full sixteen miles from Mierdorp--a
distance which would take four good hours to walk. The castle clock
has just struck three, so that it may be broad day, and not merely
dawn, before I can reach that place."

"Fear not, fear not," replied the stranger, "you shall have the means
of reaching it in time; but follow me quick, for the hours wear." Thus
saying, he strode on through the trees and brushwood, pursuing a path,
which, though totally invisible to the eyes of his companion, he
seemed to tread with the most perfect certainty. Sometimes the
occasional underwood appeared to cover it over entirely; and often the
sweeping boughs of the higher trees drooped across it, and dashed the
night dew upon the clothes of the travellers, as they pushed through
them; but still the Vert Gallant led on. In about ten minutes, the
glancing rays of the sinking moon, seen shining through the leaves
before them, showed that they were coming to some more open ground;
and the next moment they stood upon the principal road which traversed
the forest.

By the side of the highway, with an ordinary groom holding the bridle,
stood a strong, bony horse; and the only further words that were
spoken, were--"The road lies straight before you to the west; mount,
and God speed you. Give the horse to the monk when you are in safety."

"A thousand thanks and blessings on your head!" replied the young
burgher; and springing with easy grace into the saddle, he struck the
horse with his heel, and darted off towards Mierdorp.

"A likely cavalier as ever I saw!" exclaimed the Vert Gallant. "Now,
to cover, to cover," he added, turning to the groom, and once more
plunged into the forest.

In the meanwhile Albert Maurice rode on; and with his personal
adventures we shall now be compelled to proceed for some way, leaving
the other characters for fate to play with as she lists, till we have
an opportunity of resuming their history also.

The horse that bore the young burgher, though not the most showy that
ever underwent the saddle, proved strong, swift, and willing; and as
it is probably impossible for a man just liberated from prison, with
the first sense of recovered freedom fresh upon him, to ride slowly,
Albert Maurice dashed on for some way at full speed. His mind had
adopted, without a moment's doubt or hesitation, the plan which had
been pointed out to him by the leader of the adventurers, as the very
best which, under his present circumstances, he could pursue; and this
conviction--together with the proofs he had already received that the
wishes of the Vert Gallant were friendly and generous towards himself,
and the intimate knowledge which his deliverer had displayed of his
affairs--made him resolve to follow implicitly his directions.
Although this resolution was brought about by the mental operation of
a single moment, it is not to be supposed that the various events
which had befallen him, since entering the castle of Hannut, had not
produced on his mind all those effects of wonder, surprise, and doubt,
which they might naturally be expected to cause in the bosom of any
person so circumstanced.

There were a thousand things that he could not in any way account for,
and which we shall not attempt to account for either. The interest
which his deliverer had taken in his fate; the means by which he had
acquired such an exact knowledge of his situation; the existence of so
large a band of free companions, notwithstanding the many efforts
which the Duke of Burgundy had made to put them down, were all matters
of astonishment. He had felt, however, during his short intercourse
with the green riders, that neither the time, the place, nor the
circumstances admitted of any inquiry upon the subject; and with a
prompt decision, which was one great trait in his character, while he
took advantage of the means of escape offered to him, he had
suppressed as far as possible every word which might have betrayed
surprise or curiosity. As he rode on, however, he pondered on all that
had happened; and he doubted not, that, now he was at liberty to seek
and collect the proofs of his innocence, he should find little
difficulty in clearing himself from any absolute crime, if his cause
were submitted to a regular tribunal. Unfortunately, this did not
always occur. In most of the continental states the will of the prince
was law; and too often the same absolute jurisdiction was exercised by
his officers. This was especially the case in respect to Maillotin du
Bac, who, in one morning, had been known to arrest and hang thirty
persons, without any form of trial or judicial investigation.

Nevertheless, all these circumstances seemed to have been fully
considered by the Vert Gallant; and the means he had pointed out of an
appeal to the Princess Mary, in case of unjust persecution, were, as
the young burgher well knew, the only ones that could prove

So well had the distance and the horse's speed been calculated, that,
at about two miles from Mierdorp, that undefinable grey tint, which
can hardly be called light, but is the first approach towards it,
began to spread upwards over the eastern sky; and by the time that
Albert Maurice emerged from the forest of Hannut, which then extended
to within a mile of the village, the air was all rosy with the dawn of
day. Just as he was issuing forth from the woodland, he perceived
before him a stout, short, round figure, clothed in a long grey gown,
the cowl or hood of which was thrown back upon his shoulders, leaving
a polished bald head to shine uncovered in the rays of the morning;
and the young fugitive paused to examine the person whom he had by
this time nearly overtaken.

The monk, for so he appeared to be, was mounted on a stout, fat mule,
whose grey skin, and sleek, rotund limbs, gave him a ridiculous
likeness to his rider, which was increased by a sort of vacant
sentimentality that appeared in the round face of the monk, and the
occasional slow raising and dropping of one of the mule's ears, in a
manner which bears no other epithet but the very colloquial one of

According to the instructions he had received, the young burgher
immediately rode up to the monk, and addressed him with the "Good
morrow, Father Barnabas," which he had been directed to employ.

"Good morrow, my son," replied the monk; "though unhappily for me,
sinner that I am, my patron saint is a less distinguished one than him
whose name you give me; I am called Father Charles, not Father

As he thus spoke he looked up in the young traveller's face with an
air of flat unmeaningness, which would at once have convinced Albert
Maurice that he was mistaken in the person, had he not discovered a
small ray of more intellectual expression beam the next moment through
the dull, grey eye of the monk, while something curled, and just
curled, the corners of his mouth with what did not deserve the name of
a smile, and yet was far too faint for a grin.

"Well," said he, eyeing him keenly, "if your name be not Barnabas,
good father, I will give you good morrow once more, and ride on."

"Good morrow, my son," replied the monk, with the same demure smile;
and Albert Maurice, to be as good as his word, put his horse into a
trot, in order to make the best of his way towards Mierdorp, which was
lying in the fresh, sweet light of morning, at the distance of about
three quarters of a mile before him. To his surprise, however, the
monk's mule, without any apparent effort of its rider, the moment he
quickened his horse's pace, put itself into one of those long, easy
ambles for which mules are famous, and without difficulty carried its
master on by his side.

"You are in haste, my son," said the monk: "whither away so fast?"

"I go to seek Father Barnabas," replied the young burgher, somewhat
provoked, but yet half laughing at the quiet merriment of the monk's
countenance as he rode along beside him on his mule, with every limb
as round as if he had been formed out of a series of pumpkins.

"Well, well," rejoined the monk, "perhaps I may aid you in your
search; but what wouldst thou with Father Barnabas, when thou hast
found him? Suppose I were Father Barnabas now, what wouldst thou say
to me?"

"I would say nothing," answered Albert Maurice; "but--let us on our

"So be it, then," replied the other; "but one thing, good brother, it
does not become me to go jaunting over the country with profane
laymen; therefore if we are to journey forward together, you must don
the frock, and draw the hood over your head, to hide that curly black
hair. So turn your horse's bridle rein before we get into the village,
and behind those old hawthorn bushes, I will see whether my wallet
does not contain the wherewithal to make thee as good a monk as

As it now became sufficiently evident to the young citizen that he was
not deceived in the person whom he had addressed, he acquiesced in his
proposal; and turning down a little lane to their right hand, they
dismounted from their beasts behind a small, thick clump of aged
thorns, and the monk soon produced, from a large leathern wallet which
he carried behind him, a grey gown, exactly similar to his own, which
completely covered and concealed the handsome form of the young
citizen. The cowl having been drawn over his head, and the frock bound
round his middle by a rope, they once more mounted; and pursuing their
way together, soon found means to turn the conversation to the direct
object which they had in view, with which it appeared the monk was
fully acquainted.

The ice having been once broken, Albert Maurice found his companion a
shrewd, intelligent man, with a strong touch of roguish humour, which,
though partly concealed under an affectation of stolidity, had grown
into such a habit of jesting, that it seemed scarcely possible to
ascertain when he was serious, and when he was not. This, however,
might be, in some degree, assumed; for it is wonderful how often deep
feelings and deep designs, intense affection, towering ambition, and
even egregious cunning itself, attempt to cover themselves by
different shades of playful gaiety, knowing that the profundity of a
deep stream is often hidden by the light ripple on its surface.

However that might be, the young citizen's new companion was anything
but wanting in sense, and proved of the greatest assistance to him, by
his keen foresight and knowledge of the world.

With his co-operation Albert Maurice, at the little town of Gembloux,
at which he had been arrested by Maillotin du Bac, obtained full and
sufficient evidence, written down by the magistrate of the place, to
prove that the first squabble between himself and the prevot had
arisen in a wanton aggression committed by one of the soldiers of the
latter; and that before that officer had opened any of the papers in
his possession, he had sworn, with a horrible oath, that for striking
his follower, he would hang him over the gates of Ghent. All this was
attested in due form; and satisfied that half the dangers of his
situation were gone, Albert Maurice gladly turned his horse's head
towards his native place. The monk still accompanied him, saying that
he had orders not to leave him till he was safe within the walls of
Ghent: "seeing that you are such a sweet, innocent lamb," he added,
"that you are not to be trusted amongst the wolves of this world

Their journey passed over, however, without either danger or
difficulty; for though at Gembloux Albert Maurice had laid aside the
frock, as his very inquiries would of course have made his person
known, he had resumed it, by the monk's desire, as soon as they had
quitted that town; and the garb procured them a good reception in all
the places at which they paused upon the road.

As they approached Ghent, Father Barnabas thought fit to take new
precautions; and requested his young companion to make use of the mule
which he had hitherto ridden himself, while he mounted the horse. He
also drew his own cowl far over his head; nor were these steps in
vain, as they very soon had occasion to experience.

They reached the gates of Ghent towards sunset, on a fine clear
evening, and passed through many a group of peasantry, returning from
the market in the city to their rural occupations. On these the monk
showered his benedictions very liberally; but Albert Maurice remarked
that, as they approached a small party of soldiers near the gate, his
companion assumed an air of military erectness, and caused his horse
to prance and curvet like a war steed. Perhaps, had he noticed what
the keen eye of the monk had instantly perceived, that two of the
soldiers were examining them as they came up with more than ordinary
care, he might have guessed that the object of all this parade of
horsemanship was to draw attention upon himself, as a skilful conjurer
forces those to whom he offers the cards to take the very one he
wishes, without their being conscious of his doing so.

"Ventre Saint Gris!" cried one of the soldiers to the other, as they
came near. "It must be him! That is no monk, Jenkin! He rides like a
reiter--Pardi! I will see, however. Father, your cowl is awry!" he
added, laying his hand upon the monk's bridle rein, and snatching at
his hood as if for the sake of an insolent joke. The cowl instantly
fell back under his hand, exposing the fat bald head of the friar; and
the soldier, with a broad laugh, retired, disappointed, amongst his
companions, suffering the young citizen, who, on the still, quiet
mule, had escaped without observation, to proceed with the monk to the
dwelling of good Martin Fruse, which they reached without further
annoyance or interruption.


Although the soldiers that Albert Maurice and his companion had passed
at the gate, with the usual reckless gaiety of their profession, had
been found laughing lightly, and jesting with each other, yet it soon
became evident to the eyes of the travellers, as they passed onward
through the long irregular streets of the city, that something had
occurred to affect the population of Ghent in an unusual manner.

Scarce a soul was seen abroad; and there was a sort of boding calmness
in the aspect of the whole place, as they rode on, which taught them
to expect important tidings of some kind, from the first friend they
should meet. The misty evening sunshine streamed down the far
perspective of the streets, casting long and defined shadows from the
fountains and the crosses, and also from the houses, that every here
and there obtruded their insolent gables beyond the regular line of
the other buildings; but no lively groups were seen amusing themselves
at the corners, or by the canals; no sober citizens sitting out before
their doors, in all the rich and imposing colours of Flemish costume,
to enjoy the cool tranquillity of the evening, after the noise, and
the bustle, and the heat of an active summer's day. One or two
persons, indeed, might be observed with their heads close together,
and the important forefinger laid with all the energy of demonstration
in the palm of the other hand, while the party gossiped eagerly over
some great event, each one fancying himself fit to lead hosts and to
govern kingdoms; and every now and then some rapid figure, with
consequence in all its steps, was remarked flitting from house to
house, the receptacle and carrier of all the rumours of the day.

Though in one of the last named class of personages whom Albert
Maurice met as he advanced, he recognised an acquaintance, yet, for
many reasons, he only drew the cowl more completely over his face;
and, secure in the concealment of the monk's frock that covered him,
rode on, till he reached the house of his uncle, Martin Fruse, which
he judged to be a more secure asylum than his own, till such time as
his resolutions were taken, and his plans arranged.

The dwelling of the worthy burgher, though occupying no inconsiderable
part of one of the principal streets, had its private entrance in a
narrower one branching to the south-west; and the tall houses on
either hand, acting as complete screens between the portal and the
setting sun, gave at least an hour's additional darkness to the hue of

So deep, indeed, was the gloom, and so completely did the friar's gown
conceal the person of Albert Maurice, that one of his old uncle's
servants, who was standing in the entrance, did not in any degree
recognise his young master, though it was his frequent boast that he
had borne the young citizen--the pink of the youth of Ghent--upon his
knee a thousand times when he was no higher than an ell wand. Even the
familiar stride with which Albert Maurice entered the long, dark
passage, as soon as he had dismounted from his mule, did not undeceive
him; and he ran forward into the large sitting room, which lay at the
end of the vestibule, announcing that two monks, somewhat of the
boldest, had just alighted at the door.

He was followed straight into the apartment of Martin Fruse by that
worthy citizen's nephew, who immediately found himself in the midst of
half a dozen of the richest burghers of the town, enjoying an hour of
social converse with their wealthy neighbour before they retired to
their early rest. It would seem to belong more to the antiquary than
to the historian to describe the appearance of the chamber, or the
dress of the personages who were seated on benches around it; and it
may suffice to say, that the furred gowns, and gold chains, which
decorated the meeting, sufficiently evinced the municipal dignity of
the guests.

At the moment of his nephew's entrance, Martin Fruse was upon his
feet, following round a serving boy, who, with a small silver cup, and
flask of the same metal, was distributing to each of the burghers a
modicum of a liquour, now, alas! too common, but which was then lately
invented, and was known, from the many marvellous qualities attributed
to it, by the name of _eau de vie_.

"Take but one small portion," said the worthy citizen to one of his
companions, who made some difficulty; "not more than a common
spoonful. Do not the best leeches in Europe recommend it as a
sovereign cure for all diseases, and a preservation against bad air?
It warms the stomach, strengthens the bones, clears the head, and
promotes all the functions. And, truly, these are sad and troublous
times, wherein cordials are necessary, and every man requires such
consolation as he can find. Alack, and a well-a-day! who would have

But the speech of good Martin Fruse was brought to a sudden conclusion
by the entrance of his man, announcing the coming of the two monks;
which notice was scarcely given, when Albert Maurice himself appeared.
Before entering, the young citizen had paused one moment to cast off
the friar's gown, on account of the strange voices he heard as he
advanced along the passage, and he now showed himself in his usual
travelling dress, though his apparel was somewhat disarranged, and he
appeared without cap or bonnet.

"Welcome, welcome, my fair nephew!" cried Martin Fruse, who looked
upon Albert with no small pride and deference. "Sirs, here is my
nephew Albert, come, at a lucky hour, to give us his good counsel and
assistance in the strange and momentous circumstances in which we are

"Welcome, most welcome, good Master Maurice!" cried a number of voices
at once. "Welcome, most welcome!" and the young traveller, instantly
surrounded by his fellow-citizens, was eagerly congratulated on his
return, which had apparently been delayed longer than they had
expected or had wished. At the same time, the often repeated words,
"Perilous times, extraordinary circumstances, dangers to the state,
anxious expectations," and a number of similar expressions, showed him
that the opinion he had formed, from the appearance of the town as he
passed through the streets, was perfectly correct, and that some
events of general and deep importance had taken place.

"I see," he said, in reply, after having answered their first
salutations, "I see that something must have occurred with which I am
unacquainted. Remember, my good friends, that I have been absent from
the city for some weeks; and, for the last four or five days, I have
been in places where I was not likely to hear any public tidings."

"What!" cried one, "have you not heard the news? that the duke has
been beaten near the lake of Neufchatel, and all the forces with which
he was besieging Morat, have been killed or taken?"

"How!" exclaimed another, "have you not heard that the Duke of Lorrain
is advancing towards Flanders with all speed?"

"Some say he will be at Ghent in a week," cried a third.

"But the worst news of all," said a fourth, in a solemn and mysterious
tone, "is, that a squire, who arrived at the palace last night, saw
the duke stricken from his horse by a Swiss giant with a two-handed
sword; and, according to all accounts, he never rose again."

"Good God! is it possible?" exclaimed Albert Maurice, as all these
baleful tidings poured in at once upon his ear, with a rapidity which
afforded him scarcely an opportunity of estimating the truth of each
as he received it, and left him no other feeling for the time than
pain at the ocean of misfortunes which had overwhelmed his country,
though he looked upon the prince, who had immediately suffered, as a
brutal despot; and upon the nobles, who in general bore the brunt of
battle or defeat, as a number of petty tyrants more insupportable than
one great one. "Good God! is it possible?" he exclaimed: "but are you
sure, my friends," he continued, after a moment's pause, "that all
this news is true? Rumour is apt to exaggerate, and increases evil
tidings tenfold, where she only doubles good news? Are these reports
quite sure?"

"Oh! they are beyond all doubt," replied one of the merchants, with a
slight curl of the lip. "The Lord of Imbercourt, who was on his march
to join the army, when he was found by couriers bearing these evil
tidings, returned with his spears in all haste to Ghent, in order to
guard against any disturbance, as he said, and to keep the rebellious
commons under the rule of law."

The man who spoke thus, was a small, dark, insignificant looking
person, whose figure would not have attracted a moment's attention,
and whose face might have equally passed without notice, had not the
keen sparkling light of two clear black eyes, which seemed to wander
constantly about in search of other people's thoughts, given at least
some warning that there was a subtle, active, and intriguing soul
concealed within that diminutive and unprepossessing form. His name
was Ganay: by profession he was a druggist, and the chief, in that
city, of a trade, which differed considerably from that of the
druggist of the present day. It was, indeed, one of no small
importance in a great manufacturing town like Ghent, where all the
different fabrics required, more or less, some of those ingredients
which he imported from foreign countries.

In pronouncing the last words, "to keep the rebellious commons under
the rule of law," Master Ganay fixed his keen black eyes upon the face
of Albert Maurice with an expression of inquiring eagerness, partly
proceeding from an anxious desire to see into the heart of the young
citizen, whose character the other fully estimated; partly from a
design to lead him, by showing him what was expected from him, to say
something which might discover his views and feelings.

He was deceived, however; the very knowledge that his words were to be
marked, put the young citizen upon his guard; and, conscious that
there were mighty events gathering round, that his own situation was
precarious, and that of his country still more so, he felt the
necessity of obtaining perfect certainty with regard to the facts, and
of indulging deep reflection in regard to the consequences, before he
committed himself in the irretrievable manner which is sometimes
effected by a single word.

"Ha!" he exclaimed; "ha! did he say so?" and he was about to drop the
dangerous part of the subject, by some common observation, when
another of the burghers changed the immediate topic of conversation,
from the higher and more important themes which had been lately before
them, to matters much more familiar to the thoughts of the citizens.

"But there is more intelligence still, good Master Albert Maurice,"
exclaimed a little fat merchant, whose face expressed all that
extravagant desire of wondering, and of exciting wonder, which goes
greatly to form the character of a newsmonger; "but there is more
intelligence still, which you will be delighted to hear, as a good
citizen, and a friend to honest men. That pitiful, prying,
bloodthirsty tyrant, Maillotin du Bac, was brought into the town
to-day in a litter, beaten so sorely, that they say there is not a
piece of his skin so big as a Florence crown which is not both black
and blue. Faith, I wonder that the honest men of the wood did not hang
him to one of their own trees."

"Ha!" again exclaimed Albert Maurice, but in a tone far more raised
with surprise than before, "how did he meet with such a mishap? He
boasted that he would not leave a _routier_, or a free companion in
the land."

A low chuckle just behind him, as he pronounced these words, recalled
suddenly to his memory, that he had been followed into the room by the
monk called Father Barnabas; and, congratulating himself that he had
suffered not a syllable to escape his lips that might commit him in
any degree, he turned towards the companion of his journey, who, in
the haste and confusion with which all these tidings had been poured
forth upon him, had been forgotten by himself and overlooked by the

A few sentences in explanation of his appearance, and in general
reference to great services received from him on the road, instantly
called upon Father Barnabas the good-humoured civilities and attention
of Martin Fruse, and might have turned the conversation to other
matters, had not the monk himself seemed determined to hear more of
the drubbing which had been bestowed upon Maillotin du Bac.

"Verily, poor gentleman," he exclaimed, in a tone in which the
merriment so far predominated over the commiseration, as to render it
much more like the voice of malice than of pity; "verily, poor
gentleman, he must be in a sad case. How met he with such a terrible

"Why, father, you shall hear," replied the newsmonger, eager to
disburden his wallet of information upon a new ear; "what I am going
to tell you is quite true, I can assure you, for my maid Margaret's
sister is going to be married to one of the soldiers of the Prevot's
band. It seems that they had searched the forest of Hannut all day in
vain, for a body of the green riders who had taken refuge there, and
also for a prisoner who had made his escape; and towards night they
were making for Hal, because they would not go back to Hannut, as the
Prevot had some quarrel with the chatelain, when suddenly, in the
little wood, near Braine-la-Leud, they were met by a party of fifty
free companions, who drew up right across their way. The captain, who,
they say, was the famous Vert Gallant of Hannut himself, singled out
the Prevot, and at the very first charge of the two bands brought him
to the ground with his lance. Du Bac, however, was not hurt, and at
first refused to yield; but the Vert Gallant cudgelled him with the
staff of his lance, till there was not a piece of his armour would
hold together. He would not kill him, it seems; and when the whole of
the band were dispersed, which they were in five minutes, with the
exception of five or six who were taken prisoners, the Vert Gallant
struck off the Prevot's spurs with his axe, and, telling him that he
was a false traitor, and no true knight, sent him back to Ghent, with
all the others who had been taken."

While the burgher was detailing these particulars, the small grey
roguish eyes of the monk stole from time to time a glance at the face
of Albert Maurice with an expression of merriment, triumph, and
malice, all mingled intimately together, but subdued into a look of
quiet fun, which elicited a smile from the lip of the young citizen,
though the tale he had just heard furnished him with matter for more
serious reflection. The eyes of the druggist also fixed upon him,
while the story of the prevot's discomfiture was told by their
companion; and the smile which he saw play upon the face of the young
burgher seemed to furnish him with information of what was passing in
the mind within, sufficient at least for his own purposes; for from
that moment he appeared to pay little farther attention to the subject
before them, otherwise than by mingling casually in the conversation
that succeeded.

That conversation became soon of a rambling and desultory nature,
wandering round the great political events of the day, the fate of
their country, the state of the city itself, and the future prospects
of the land, without, however, approaching so near to the dangerous
matter which was probably in the heart of every one, as to call forth
words that could not be retracted. In fact, each person present felt
burdened by great but ill-arranged thoughts; and those who saw most
deeply into the abyss before them, were the least inclined to venture
their opinions ere they heard those of others.

With that sort of intuitive perception which some men have of what
is passing in the breasts of those around them, Albert Maurice,
without the slightest exertion of cunning or shrewdness, without one
effort to draw forth the thoughts of those by whom he was surrounded,
comprehended clearly the peculiar modifications under which each one
present was revolving in his own mind what advantages might be derived
from--what opportunities might be afforded by--the discomfiture and
death of Charles the Bold, for recovering those immunities and
privileges which that prince had wrung from Ghent, after they had been
too often abused by her citizens. His first thought had been of the
same nature also: but the mention of Maillotin du Bac had suddenly
recalled to his mind his own particular circumstances and situation;
and it must be confessed, that, for a few minutes, it was entirely
directed to the consideration of how greatly his own personal safety
might be ensured by the events, the news of which had reached Ghent
during his absence.

The moment after, however, he upbraided himself for his selfishness;
and, casting all individual considerations away, he determined to bend
the whole energies of his mind to reap, from the circumstances of the
times, the greatest possible degree of benefit for his native city. As
he pondered over it, the old aspirations of his soul revived. Not only
Ghent, he thought, might be benefited, not only Ghent might be freed,
but the whole of Flanders might acquire a degree of liberty she had
never known. Still, as he reflected, the image thus presented to his
mind increased, and, like the cloud of smoke in the eastern fable,
which, rolling forth from the mouth of the small vase, gradually
condensed into the form of an enormous giant, the thoughts which at
first had referred alone to his personal safety enlarged in object,
and grew defined in purpose.

The whole continent at that time groaned under the oppression of the
feudal system, decayed, corrupted, and abused; and as Albert Maurice
mused, he fancied that the freedom of Ghent and Flanders once
established, might afford an example to France, to Europe, to the
world. The trampled serf, the enchained bondsman, the oppressed
citizen, might throw off the weary yoke under which they had laboured
for ages; the rights of every human being might become generally
recognised over the whole surface of the globe; and broken chains and
acclamations of joy, the song of freedom and the shout of triumph,
presented themselves in hurried visions to his imagination, while
patriotism still represented a liberated world hailing his native land
as the champion of the liberty of earth.

Such thoughts rendered him silent and abstracted; and as every one
else felt a degree of painful restraint, the various guests of Martin
Fruse, after lingering some time, rose to return to their dwellings.
Although it was now night, several of them, before they set foot
within their own homes, called upon different neighbours in their way,
just to tell them, as they said, that Master Albert Maurice had
returned to Ghent. None knew why; but yet this information seemed a
piece of important news to all. By the sway which great natural genius
and energy insensibly acquire over the minds of men, Albert Maurice,
without ever attempting to force himself into prominent situations,
without effort or exertions of any kind, had taught the whole people
of the city of Ghent to look to him for extraordinary actions; and
thus each man who heard of his arrival, generally stole forth to tell
it to his next door neighbour, who again repeated it to a third. The
gossip and the newsmonger gave it forth liberally to others like
themselves; so that by a very early hour the next morning the return
of Albert Maurice, with a variety of falsehoods and absurdities
grafted thereon by the imaginations of the retailers, was generally
known, not only to those who were personally acquainted with him, but
to a number of others who had never seen him in their lives.


The appetite for news is like the appetite for every other thing,
stimulated by a small portion of food; and the various unsatisfactory
reports which had reached Ghent during the day, made her good citizens
devour the tidings of Albert Maurice's return with no small

In the meanwhile, the young merchant communicated to his uncle,
immediately after the departure of the guests, that, from various
circumstances, of which he would inform him more fully at another
time, he judged it not expedient to return to his own house, perhaps,
for some days. He prayed him, therefore, to allow him to occupy, for a
short space, the apartments which had been appropriated to him during
his youth, in the dwelling where he then was; to which request, as his
nephew had originally taken up a separate establishment much against
his wishes, Martin Fruse consented with no small joy, and proposed
that the monk, who still remained, should sleep in the little grey
chamber over the warehouse.

"Nay, nay," replied Father Barnabas, when he heard the proposal; "nay,
nay, dearly beloved brother Martin, no grey chamber for me; by my
faith I must be betaking myself early to-morrow to my own green
chamber, and in the meantime, I shall pass the night with a friend of
mine in the city, in pious exercises and devout exclamations."

Whether these pious exercises and devout exclamations might not be the
rapid circulation of the flagon, and many a jovial bacchanalian song,
there may be some reason to doubt. At all events, Albert Maurice had a
vague suspicion that it was so; and after pressing the monk to stay,
as much as hospitality required, he ceased his opposition to his
departure, at the same time putting a purse of twenty golden crowns
into his hand.

The monk gazed for a moment upon the little leathern bag, whose
weight, as it sunk into his palm, seemed to convey to him a full idea
of its value; and then raising his merry grey eyes to the face of his
travelling companion, he replied, "This is great nonsense, my son,
quite unnecessary, I assure you; and, indeed, I cannot accept it,
except upon one condition."

"What is that, my good father?" demanded the young burgher, supposing
that the monk was about to affect some notable piece of

"Merely that you will promise me, my son," replied Father Barnabas,
"that in case you should ever hereafter meet with a certain friend of
ours, whom some people call the Vert Gallant of Hannut, you will be as
silent as the dead about ever having given a leathern purse to poor
Father Barnabas, as he may well ask, what is the use of a purse to a
holy brother, who vows never to have any money to put into it. Do you
understand me, my son?"

"Perfectly, perfectly," replied Albert Maurice, "and promise you with
all my heart never to mention it."

"So be it then," rejoined the monk, "and benedicite;--I shall take the
horse and the mule out of the stable, and speed upon my way."

As soon as the monk was gone, Albert Maurice explained to his uncle,
as briefly as possible, all that had occurred to him during his
absence from Ghent; and the distress, agitation, and terror of the
worthy burgher, at every stage of his nephew's story, were beyond
all description. "Alack, and a well-a-day! my poor boy," he
cried;--"alack, and a well-a-day! I thought what all these travellings
would come to, sooner or later. Good Lord! good Lord! why should men
travel at all! In my young days I never, if I could help it, set my
foot three leagues out of Ghent; and the first time I ever was seduced
to do so, I was caught by robbers in that cursed wood of Hannut, and
was obliged to sleep a whole night upon the cold damp ground."

The young citizen calmed his uncle's agitation as much as possible,
and then proceeded to consult with him as to the best means they could
adopt, in case that Maillotin du Bac should recover from the drubbing
he had received, and pursue, as he doubtless would, the purposes he
had previously entertained. In some things, Martin Fruse was not
deficient in shrewdness; and he instantly saw the advantages that
would be gained by a personal application to the princess, if his
nephew were again arrested.

"If," said he, "we still had our old laws, I should say at once,
appeal to the eschevins, because, as we used to elect them ourselves,
we should have had justice at least, if not favour. But now that the
twenty-six, from the _Grand Bailli_ down to the last secretary, are
all named by the creatures of the duke, this Maillotin du Bac gets
them to warrant everything he does, while the princess, who is kind
and generous, will be sure to judge in your favour, especially when
she sees the papers that prove you were first arrested for taking part
with a woman; and her council, who have nothing to do with the Prevot,
will take care not to thwart her who will one day be their mistress."

It was consequently determined, after some farther discussion, to
follow the line of conduct suggested by the leader of the adventurers.
Such precautions as were necessary to ensure against any of those
secret proceedings, which sometimes made clean conveyance with an
obnoxious person, before any of his friends were aware, were then
concerted between Albert Maurice and his uncle; and the young citizen,
pleading fatigue, retired to the apartments which he had occupied as a

There was something in the aspect of the chamber, the quaint old
tapestry, with the eyes of many of the figures shot through by the
arrows which he used to direct against them, in the wanton sport of
childhood, the table notched with the boy's unceasing knife, the
well-remembered bed, in which had been dreamed many of the pleasant
dreams of early years; there was something in the aspect of the whole
that called up the peaceful past, and contrasted itself almost
painfully with the present. Setting down the lamp which he bore in his
hand, Albert Maurice cast himself on a seat, and gazing round the
apartment, while the thousand memories of every well-known object
spoke to his heart with the sweet murmuring voice of the days gone;
and while all the perils and anxieties of his actual situation, the
imminent danger from which he had just escaped, the menacing fate
which still hung over his head, and the fierce struggle in which he
was likely to be engaged, pressed for present attention, he could not
help exclaiming, "Oh, boyhood! happy, happy boyhood! must thou never,
never come again!"

The busy and usurping present, however, soon took full possession of
his thoughts; and, casting from him all care for the individual danger
which threatened himself, he applied his whole mind to consider the
probable fate of his country. If the Duke of Burgundy were really
dead, he saw, and had long foreseen, that great and extraordinary
changes must take place. He knew that there was hardly a town
throughout all Flanders, Holland, or Hainault, which was not ready
to rise in arms, to recover some privilege wrested from its
inhabitants: to break some chain with which they had all been
enthralled. He felt, too, and it was a proud consciousness, that he,
and he alone throughout the whole land, was capable of wielding that
mighty engine, a roused-up multitude, for the great purpose to which
it can only be properly applied: the benefit and the happiness of the
whole. This consciousness arose from two circumstances: a thorough and
intimate acquaintance with the general characters of the leading men
in the various towns of Flanders, together with a knowledge that each
was individually selfish or weak, full of wild and unfeasible schemes,
or absorbed in narrow personal desires; and, in the second place, from
the internal perception of immense powers of mind, strengthened and
supported by great corporeal vigour and activity.

Such qualities were not, indeed, all that was required to carry mighty
schemes to a successful result, especially where they were to be
founded on the consent and support of the vain and wilful multitude.
But Albert Maurice had on several occasions tried his powers of
persuading the crowd, and his ready eloquence had never failed to
lead, to convince, to command. Indeed, till the present moment, he had
felt almost fearful--surrounded, as he knew himself to be, by watchful
and jealous eyes--of the immense popular influence that he was aware
he could exert. But now, as he paused and considered the probable
events about to take place, he felt a triumphant security in his own
talents, and prepared to step forward, and secure a freer form of
government, for Ghent at least, if the reins had really fallen from
the hand that lately held them. His first thoughts, indeed, were all
turned towards the benefit of his native country, to the immense
advantages that might be obtained for her, and to that mighty thing,
liberty, which was scarcely then known to the world. But it was not in
human nature, that some breathing of personal ambition should not
mingle with his nobler aspirations; and for a moment he dreamt of
power, and rule, and sovereign sway, and of nobles trampled beneath
his feet, and of kings bending to court his alliance. The shade of Van
Artevelde seemed to rise from the deep past and beckon him on upon the
road to greatness.

It was but for a moment, however; and when suddenly the better spirit
woke him from his dream, and showed him whither he was wandering, he
hid his face in his hands, with a mixed feeling of shame for having
suffered himself to be betrayed into such thoughts, and an
apprehension lest, in some after-part of his career, when the golden
temptation was within his grasp, he should yield to the spirit that
even thus early had assailed him, and be in act what he had already
been in thought. The very idea of becoming so made him pause in his
resolves, uncertain whether to take any part, lest he should
ultimately take an evil one; and for a moment Albert Maurice, who
feared no mortal man, hesitated in fear of himself.

Reflection, however, soon removed his doubts: he knew his intentions
to be pure: and, calling before his mind the brightest examples of
past ages, he determined to hold them up to himself as models to
imitate, and to sacrifice everything to virtue. Even the very doubts
that he had entertained of himself made him choose his examples from
the sternest school of patriotism. He felt, perhaps, that any modern
efforts must fall below the standard of that antique firmness, which,
nurtured by the long habit of freedom, was with the Romans of the
republic a passion as much as a principle; and, fixing his eyes upon
the earlier Brutus, he resolved that if ever in after-life the
temptation to wrong his country should assail him, he would use that
talismanic memory to charm the evil demon away for ever.

While he thus paused and thought, the night wore on; all sounds died
away in the streets of Ghent: the footsteps in his uncle's house
ceased; and, after the midnight watch had gone by in its round, not a
sound for some time disturbed the silence of the place. At length,
about one o'clock in the morning, he heard a step ascending the stairs
which led to his apartment, and the moment after a tap upon the door
announced that some one demanded admittance. He instantly rose, threw
back the tapestry, and opened the door, when, to his surprise, he
beheld the small keen features and sharp black eyes of the druggist
Ganay, beside the face of one of his uncle's servants.

The sight, indeed, accorded very well with his thoughts and wishes;
for though the person who thus visited him was, in character and mind,
as distinct--perhaps, I should say, as opposite, to himself as
possible, yet he was one of those men who, in moments of general
excitement, are often serviceable in the highest degree, and must be
used for good, lest they should employ their talents for evil.

The little druggist had, in all his motions, a silent rapidity, a
quick, sharp, but stealthy sort of activity, which, to those close
observers of the human race, who pretend to read in the habitual
movements and peculiar customs of the body the character of the mind
within, might have spoken of dark and cunning designs, prompted by
strong but carefully hidden passions, with little scruple as to the
means of accomplishing schemes once undertaken. Before Albert Maurice
was well aware of his presence, he was in the room beside him; and in
a few brief words, spoken in a low but remarkably distinct voice, he
informed the young citizen that when he went away about two hours
before, he had requested the servant to wait and let him in, after the
rest of the family had gone to rest. Then, adding that he had business
of much importance to speak upon, he at once explained and apologised
for his intrusion.

Albert Maurice took his excuses in good part; and, bidding the servant
retire to rest, he closed the door and seated himself with his
visitor, well aware that he had to encounter a mind as keen and
penetrating, though far less powerful, than his own, on subjects
difficult and dangerous to discuss.

"Master Albert Maurice," said Ganay, when they were alone, and the
retreating step of the servant had announced to his cautious ear that
his words were not likely to be overheard, "it were in vain for you or
I to attempt to conceal from each other, or from ourselves, that the
moment is come when extraordinary changes must take place in our
native land, or opportunities be lost which may never return. To you,
then, I come," he added, speaking with a serious earnestness, which
was intended to give the appearance of sincere conviction to the
flattery he was about to administer--flattery which, as he knew it to
be based in truth, he calculated upon being readily received, and
producing a particular purpose of his own--"to you, then, I come,
Master Albert Maurice, as to the man calculated, by nature and by
circumstances, to take the most prominent part in the actions in which
we are about to be engaged--to whom the eyes of all the citizens are
naturally turned, and on whom the welfare of our country must, in a
great measure, depend. My object is, in no degree, to pry into your
confidence, to obtrude advice upon you, or to hurry you forward faster
than you may think it necessary to proceed, but simply for the purpose
of offering you any assistance in my small power to give, and of
pointing out to you the necessity of thought and consultation in
regard to the measures to be pursued."

The young citizen paused for a moment or two in meditation ere he
replied. "My good friend," he answered, at length, "much consideration
is, indeed, as you say, necessary. In the first place, we are by no
means certain that our noble lord the duke is dead. If he be living,
it will be our duty, as good subjects and good citizens, to give him
all the aid in our power to repel his enemies and to recover his

The druggist bit his lip, and Albert Maurice continued:--"If, indeed,
he unhappily have fallen in this rash attempt against the Swiss, say
what would you have us do?"

"Nay, nay, speak you," replied the druggist; "for well do we all feel
that it is you must lead, and we must follow."

"I see but one thing that can be done," replied the young
citizen--"humbly to tender our allegiance and our services to the
heiress of the Burgundian coronet, and to petition her to confirm to
us our liberties and privileges."

He spoke slowly and calmly, in a tone of voice from which nothing
could be gathered in addition to the words he uttered; and in vain did
the small dark eyes of his fellow-citizen scan his countenance to
discover something more. His face remained completely unmoved, if it
was not by a scarcely perceptible smile at the evident anxiety and
agitation with which his calmness and indifference affected his

"Good Heaven!" cried the druggist, starting up in the first impatience
of disappointed expectation, "Good Heaven! little did I expect to hear
such words from your lips! But no!" he added, after a moment's pause
of deep thought, during which he rapidly combined every remembered
trait in the character of Albert Maurice, with his present affected
calmness, and deduced from it a true conclusion in regard to his real
motives. "But no! Young man, I have marked you from your childhood. I
know you as well as my own son, nay, better--for his light follies
have made him an alien to my house, though not to my heart. I have
seen your character develop itself. I have seen the wild spirit and
petulance of boyhood become, when brought under the sway of maturer
reason, that overwhelming enthusiasm, which, like a mighty river, is
calm only because it is deep and powerful. Albert Maurice, you cannot
deceive _me_; and let me tell you, that even were the course, which
but now you proposed to pursue, that to which your feelings and your
reason really led you, the people of this country would leave you to
truckle to power alone; and though--wanting one great directing mind
to curb their passions, and point their endeavours to a just
conclusion--they might cast one half of Europe into anarchy, and rush
upon their own destruction, most assuredly they would do so, rather
than submit again to a new despot, or place their lives and their
happiness in the power of one who owns no law, no justice but his own

"Think you they would do so, indeed?" demanded the young citizen, well
aware of the fact, but somewhat doubtful still of the entire purity of
his companion's motives. "Then, my good friend, we must, as you say,
for the safety and security of all, find some one who may lead them to
better things; but to succeed we must be cautious; we must trust no
man before we try him; and we must first make sure of those who lead,
before we rouse up those who are to be led. Ere one step is taken,
too, we must ensure the ground that we stand upon, and know what has
been the real event of this great battle. Nay, nay, protest not that
it is as we have heard, Rumour, the universal liar, sometimes will
give us portions of the truth, beyond all doubt; but never yet,
believe me, did she tell a tale that was not more than one-half
falsehood. But even granting that the chief point be true, at the very
threshold of our enterprise, we must learn each particular shade of
thought and of opinion, possessed by our great and leading citizens.
Nor must Ghent stand alone; each other city throughout all Flanders
must be prepared to acknowledge and support the deeds of Ghent."

"You seem to have considered the matter deeply," said the druggist,
with a smile; "but I fear such long preparations, and the time
necessary to excite the public mind----"

"Fear not," interrupted Albert Maurice, "fear not. You little know the
commons, if you suppose that time is necessary to call them into
action. A few shrewd words, false or true, it matters not, will set
the whole country in a flame as fast as news can fly. Give me but just
cause, a good occasion, and an opportunity of speech, and in one half
hour all Ghent shall be in arms."

"It may be so," replied the druggist, thoughtfully; "I doubt it not;
indeed I know it is so. But, methinks, my dear young friend, that
while we are proceeding with such slow circumspection, our enemies may
take their measures of precaution also; and as they have the present
power, may use and extend it to such good effect that all our efforts
will be fruitless. Already the Lord of Imbercourt has returned with a
hundred and fifty lances; the number of nobles in the town, with their
retainers, will furnish near five hundred more."

"Again, fear not," replied Albert Maurice; "the popular mind is as a
magazine of that black hellish compound, which gives roar and
lightning to the cannon; one single spark, applied by a fearless hand,
will make it all explode at once. The nobles stand upon a mine; and
there are those in Ghent who will not fear to spring it beneath their
feet should there be need, which Heaven avert. One thing, however,
must be done, and that with speed. As a united body, these feudal
tyrants are powerful--too much so, indeed--but amongst them there must
be surely more than sufficient stores of vanity, wrath, hatred,
revenge, and all those other manifold weaknesses, which, skilfully
employed, may detach some of their members from their own body, and
spread division amongst them. Is there no one could be won?"

"None that I know of," replied the druggist, "except, indeed, it were
my very good lord and kind patron"--he spoke with a sneer--"Thibalt of
Neufchatel, who now affects mighty popularity, bows his grey head
to the people as low as to his saddle-now, calls them the good
commons, the worthy citizens of Ghent; and, no longer gone than
yesterday, made me, Walter Ganay, the poor burgher druggist, sit down
at his lordly table, and drink of his spiced wine. But I fear me, my
dear young friend, though the worthy lord may affect wonderful
popularity, and others of his rank might be brought to do the same,
they would never stand by us in the moment of need, the interest of
their class would soon resume its place in their thoughts, and they
would quit the citizens whenever the citizens wanted their help."

"That matters little," replied Albert Maurice, laying his hand upon
the arm of his companion. "The aid that we might derive from the
swords of half-a-dozen nobles were but dust in the balance; but the
advantages that we may derive from their seeming to be with us in the
outset, are great and incalculable. That which has overthrown the
finest armies that were ever yet brought into the field--that which
has scattered to the wind the noblest associations that ever were
framed for the benefit of mankind--that which has destroyed leagues,
and broken alliances, crushed republics under the feet of despots, and
blasted the best formed and brightest designs of human beings--doubt,
suspicion of each other; that, that great marrer of all men's
combinations, must be listed on our side against our oppressors. We
must teach them to fear and to suspect each other; and the bonds that
hold them together will be broken, and may remain severed till it is
too late to unite them again. This Thibalt of Neufchatel," he added,
hastily, "I have heard of him, and seen him often. When I was a mere
boy, I remember riding under his escort from the forest of Hannut, and
as haughty a lord he was as e'er I met with; but now, it would seem,
he has changed his tone, and is the popular, the pleasant noble, the
friend of the commons; he is somewhat in his dotage too, just at that
point where weakness affects great wisdom. He must be won, by all
means, if it be but for a day. Is there no way, think you, by which he
may be brought to show himself amongst us at some popular meeting? A
thousand to one the very fact of his having done so, and the scorn
that it will call upon him from his fellow-nobles, by committing his
vanity on our side, will bind him to us for ever; and he will calmly
look upon the fall of his order, if it were but for the purpose of
saying to each ruined baron, 'If you had done as I have, you would
have been safe.'--At all events," he added, "his presence with us
would sow the first feed of disunion among the proud nobility: can no
means be found?

"Oh, many, many, doubtless," replied the druggist; "but great
reverence and respect must be shown to him, and all ultimate views
must be concealed."

"Of course," answered Albert Maurice, "of course," and resting his
brow upon his hands, he remained in thought for several minutes. "Mark
me, good Master Ganay," he said, at length--"mark me, and remember
that you have sought me in this business, not I you. Think not,
therefore, that in giving you directions what to do, I wish to
arrogate to myself any superior power, or wisdom, or knowledge. Deeply
and fervently do I wish to serve my country. As far as I see my way
clearly, and as far as my countrymen choose to trust me, willingly
will I take a lead in their affairs. The moment my own view or their
confidence fails, I will draw back and leave the staff in better
hands. Let your first step, then be--at an early hour to-morrow--to
prompt as many of the principal citizens as you can meet with, to
assemble in the town-hall upon various pretences. Speak to one about
changes in the price of grain, and send him thither to hear more. Tell
another that the English wools have failed, and let him come for news
from across the seas. Bid a third to the town-hall for tidings from
France; and a fourth for the news from Switzerland. I, too, will be
there; and if you can so arrange it as to bring Thibalt of Neufchatel
to the same place by half-past ten of the clock, I will have all
prepared to fix him ours, if possible."

"I will undertake it," replied the druggist. "Albert Maurice, we
understand each other, though little has been said, and perhaps
wisely; yet we understand each other, and shall do so, without farther
explanations; I give you good night."

"Farewell," said Albert Maurice, as the other rose to depart; "but
remember, above all things, no word to any one of this night's
meeting; for, if we would work well together for the benefit of all,
we must not be seen together too much. Again, farewell."

Thus saying, he raised the light, and, after guiding his visitor
through some of the long and tortuous passages of his uncle's
dwelling, he saw him depart, and closed the door for the night.


Once more within the solitude of his own chamber, Albert Maurice cast
himself into a seat, and a degree of emotion not to be mastered,
passed over him, as he felt that he had taken the first step in a
career which must speedily bring power, and honour, and immortal
glory--or the grave. As I have before said, in all the mutinous
movements of the citizens of Ghent, he had recoiled from any
participation in their struggles, both with a degree of contempt for
such petty broils as they usually were, and with an involuntary
feeling of awe, as if he knew that whenever he did take a part in the
strife, it was destined to become more deadly and more general than it
had ever been before. There was nothing, indeed, of personal
apprehension in his sensations. They consisted alone of a deep,
overpowering feeling of the mighty, tremendous importance of the
events likely to ensue, of the awful responsibility incurred, of the
fearful account to be given by him, who takes upon himself the
dangerous task of stirring up a nation, and attempts to rouse and rule
the whirlwind passions of a fierce and excited people.

He had now, however, made the first step; and he felt that that first
step was irretrievable, that his bark was launched upon the stormy
ocean of political intrigue, that he had left the calm shore of
private station never to behold it again; and that nothing remained
for him but to sail out the voyage he had undertaken amidst all the
tempests and the hurricanes that might attend his course. It could
scarcely be called a weakness to yield one short unseen moment to
emotion under such feelings, to look back with lingering regret upon
the calm days behind; and to strive with anxious thought to snatch
some part of the mighty secrets of the future from beyond the dark,
mysterious veil which God, in his great mercy, has cast over the
gloomy sanctuary of fate. It was but for a moment that he thus
yielded; and then, with a power which some men of vast minds possess,
he cast from him the load of thought, prepared, when the moment of
action came, to act decisively; and feeling that his corporeal frame
required repose, he stretched himself upon his bed, and slept without
a dream--a sleep as deep, as still, as calm, as we may suppose to have
visited the tent of Cæsar, when, conscious of coming empire, he had
passed the Rubicon.

It lasted not long, however; and the first rays of the morning sun, as
they found their way through the narrow lattice of his chamber, woke
him with energies refreshed, and with a mind prepared for whatever
fortunes the day might bring.

A few hours passed in writing, and a short explanation with his uncle
in regard to the exigencies of the approaching moment, consumed the
time between the young burgher's rising and the hour appointed for the
meeting in the town-hall; and, accompanied by worthy Martin Fruse,
whom he well knew that he could rule as he pleased, Albert Maurice
proceeded into the streets of Ghent.

In deference to his uncle's dislike to the elevation of a horse's
back, the young citizen took his way on foot, followed, as well as
preceded, by two serving men, to which the station of Martin Fruse, as
syndic of the cloth-workers, gave him a right, without the imputation
of ostentation. It was not, indeed, the custom of either of the two
citizens to show themselves in the streets of their own town thus
accompanied, except upon occasions of municipal state; but, in the
present instance, both were aware that, if the news of the preceding
day were true, sudden aid from persons on whom they could rely, either
as combatants or messengers, might be required.

It was a market-day in the city of Ghent; and as they walked on, many
a peasant, laden with rural merchandise, was passed by them in the
streets, and many a group of gossiping men and women, blocking up the
passage of the narrow ways, was disturbed by the important zeal of the
serving men making way for the two high citizens whom they preceded.
The streets, indeed, were all flutter and gaiety; but the marketplace
itself offered a still more lively scene, being filled to overflowing
with the population of the town and the neighbouring districts, in all
the gay and glittering colours of their holiday costume.

Although the market had already begun, the principal traffic which
seemed to be going on was that in news; and the buzz of many voices,
all speaking together, announced how many were eager to tell as well
as to hear. No sooner had the two citizens entered that flat, open
square, which every one knows as the chief marketplace of old Ghent,
than the tall, graceful figure of the younger burgher caught the eyes
of the people around; and in answer to a question from some one near,
an artisan, who had come thither either to buy or sell, replied
aloud--"It is Master Albert Maurice, the great merchant, just
returned, they say, from Namur."

The words were immediately taken up by another near; and the
announcement of the popular citizen's presence ran like lightning
through the crowd. A whispering hum, and a movement of all the people,
as he advanced, some to make way, and some to catch a sight of him,
was all that took place at first. But soon his name was given out
louder and more loud as it passed from mouth to mouth; and at length
some one in the middle of the market-place threw up his cap into the
air, and in a moment the whole buildings round echoed with "Long live
Albert Maurice, the good friend of the people of Ghent!"

Doffing his bonnet, the young citizen advanced upon his way towards
the town-hall, bowing on every side to the populace, with that bland
yet somewhat stately smile upon his fine arching lip, which wins much
love without losing a tittle of respect; and still the people as he
went cheered him with many voices, while every now and then some
individuals from amongst them would salute him in various modes,
according to their rank and situation.

"Give thee good day, Master Albert Maurice!" cried one who claimed
some acquaintance with him. "God bless thee for a noble citizen!"
exclaimed another. "Long life to Albert Maurice!" shouted a third.
"What news from Namur?" demanded a fourth. "Speak to us, noble sir!"
again exclaimed another: "speak to us! speak to us! as you one day did
on the bridge!"

Such cries were multiplying, and popular excitement, which is very
easily changed into popular tumult, was proceeding to a higher point
than Albert Maurice wished, especially as amongst the crowd he
observed several soldiers. These, though a word would have rendered
them the objects of the people's fury, were, he thought, very likely
to become the reporters of the public feeling to the government,
before the preparations which he contemplated were mature; and he was
accordingly hurrying his pace to avoid disturbance, when suddenly the
sound of trumpets from the opposite side of the square diverted the
attention of all parties.

The young citizen turned his eyes thitherward with the rest, and made
his way forward in that direction, as soon as he perceived a dense but
small body of armed horsemen debouching from the street that led from
the palace, with clarions sounding before them and raised lances, as
if their errand were as peaceful as their garb was warlike.

Apprehensive that something might occur which would require that rapid
decision and presence of mind which rule, in many cases, even the
great ruler--Circumstance, he hurried on, while the people made way
for him to pass; probably from a tacit conviction that he alone, of
all the assemblage, was qualified to deal with important events. As he
approached, the body of horsemen reached the little fountain in the
middle of the marketplace, and he caught the flutter of female
habiliments in the midst of the guard.

At that moment the squadron opened, and, clearing a small space
around, displayed a brilliant group in the centre, on which all eyes
were instantly turned. A number of the personages of which it was
composed were well known, at least by sight, to the young burgher;
and, from their presence, he easily divined the names and characters
of the rest. Mounted on a splendid black charger, there appeared,
amongst others, the Lord of Ravestein, first cousin of the Duke of
Burgundy, together with the Duke of Cleves and the Lord of Imbercourt.
The faces of these noblemen, as well as that of Margaret of York,
Duchess of Burgundy, Albert Maurice knew full well; but in the midst
of all was a countenance he had never beheld before. It was that of a
fair, beautiful girl, of about twenty years of age, whose sweet hazel
eyes, filled with mild and pensive light, and curtained by long dark
lashes, expressed--if ever eyes were the mind's heralds--a heart, a
soul, subdued by its own powers, full of deep feelings, calmed, but
not lessened, by its own command over itself. All the other features
were in harmony with those eyes, beautiful in themselves, but still
more beautiful by the expression which they combined to produce; and
the form, also, to which they belonged, instinct with grace and
beauty, seemed framed by nature in her happiest mood to correspond
with that fair face.

Albert Maurice needed not to be told that there was Mary of Burgundy.
He gazed on her without surprise; for he had ever heard that she was
most beautiful; but, as he gazed, by an instinctive reverence for the
loveliness he saw, he took his bonnet from his head; and, all the
crowd following his example, stood bareheaded before her, while a
short proclamation was read twice by a herald.

"Mary of Burgundy," it ran, "Governess of Flanders on behalf of her
father, Charles Duke of Burgundy, to her dearly beloved citizens of
Ghent. It having been industriously circulated by some persons,
enemies to the state, that the high and mighty prince our father
Charles as aforesaid, Duke of Burgundy, and Count of Flanders, Artois,
and Hainault, has been slain in Switzerland, which God forefend! and
knowing both the zeal and love of the good citizens of Ghent towards
our father, and how much pain such evil tidings would occasion them,
we hasten to assure them that such a rumour is entirely false and
malicious; and that the duke our father is well in health and stout in
the field, as is vouched by letters received last night by special
couriers from his camp; and God and St. Andrew hold him well for ever.


A loud cheer rose from all the people, while, bending her graceful
head, and smiling sweetly on the crowd, the heiress of Burgundy
acknowledged the shout, as if it had been given in sincere
congratulation on her father's safety. The princess and her attendants
then rode on, to witness the same proclamation in another place; but
Albert Maurice stood gazing upon the fair sight as it passed away from
his eyes, feeling that beauty and sweetness, such as he there beheld,
had claims to rule, far different from those of mere iron-handed
power. He was wakened from his reverie, however, by some one pulling
him by the cloak; and, turning round, he beheld the little druggist
Ganay, who, with an expression of as much bitter disappointment,
anger, and surprise, as habitual command over his features would allow
them to assume, looked up in the face of Albert Maurice, demanding,
"What is to be done now?"

"Where is the Lord of Neufchatel?" rejoined the young citizen, without
directly answering.

"Thank God, not yet arrived!" replied the druggist. "Shall I go and
stay him from coming?"

"No!" answered Albert Maurice, thoughtfully. "No, let him come; it
were better that he should. Now, fair uncle," he continued, speaking
to Martin Fruse, who had followed him through the crowd, and still
stood beside him where the multitude had left them almost alone; "now,
fair uncle, let us to the town-hall, whither Master Ganay will
accompany us. You, who are good speakers, had better propose an
address of the city in answer to the proclamation just made; and the
good Lord of Neufchatel, who will be present, will doubtless look on
and answer for your loyal dispositions. For my part, I shall keep

He spoke these words aloud, but with a peculiar emphasis, which easily
conveyed to the mind of the druggist his conviction that the farther
prosecution of their purposes must be delayed for the time; and as
they proceeded towards the town-hall, Albert Maurice, by a few brief
words, which good Martin Fruse neither clearly understood nor sought
to understand, explained to the other the necessity of keeping the
Lord of Neufchatel attached to their party.

Albert Maurice then fell into silence which was deep and somewhat
painful; and yet, strange to say, the news that he had heard of the
Duke of Burgundy's safety, and the turn that the affairs had taken,
was far from a disappointment to him--it was a relief. The very sight
of the princess had made him thoughtful. To behold so fair, and
seemingly so gentle a creature, and to know that, as he stood
there before her, he bore within his own bosom the design, the
resolve--however noble might be his motives, however great the object
he proposed--of breaking the sceptre which was to descend to her, and
of tearing from her hand the power she held from her mighty ancestors,
produced feelings anything but sweet. Thence, too, thought ran on; and
he asked himself, why was her reign the one to be marked out for
overthrowing the ancient rule of her fathers? and he was forced to
acknowledge, that it was because she was weak and young, a woman, and
an orphan--and that was no very elevating reflection. Still farther,
as he once more passed across the whole extent of the market-place,
when the princess had just left it, he found all the busy tongues
which had been lately vociferating his name, now so occupied with the
fresh topic, that he walked on almost without notice; and contempt for
that evanescent thing popular applause, did not tend to raise his
spirits to a higher pitch.

He entered the town-hall, then, gloomy; and, though all the great
traders present united to congratulate him on his safe return to
Ghent, he remained thoughtful and sad, and could only throw off the
reserve which had fallen upon him, when the arrival of the Lord of
Neufchatel gave him a strong motive for exertion.

The other persons present received the noble baron, who condescended
to visit their town-hall, with a degree of embarrassment which, though
not perhaps unpleasing to him, from the latent reverence that it
seemed to evince, was, at least, inconvenient. But Albert Maurice, on
the contrary, with calm confidence in his own powers, and the innate
dignity which that confidence bestows, met the nobleman with ease
equal to his own, though without the slightest abatement of that
formal respect, and all those terms of courteous ceremony, to which
his station gave him a title, and which the young citizen was anxious
to yield. This mixture of graceful ease with profound reverence o!
demeanour, delighted not a little the old seneschal of Burgundy; and
when, after a time, an address was proposed and discussed in his
presence, and his opinions were listened to and received with
universal approbation, the sense of conscious superiority, satisfied
pride, and gratified vanity, taught the worthy old lord to regard the
good citizens of Ghent with feelings of pleasure and affection, very
different from those he had once entertained.

It so luckily happened, also, that on this, the first occasion of his
mingling amongst the citizens, their proceedings were of such a
character as could not, in the least, compromise him with his fellow
nobles. The matter discussed was merely a congratulatory address to
the princess, in answer to her proclamation, setting forth nothing but
loyalty and obedience, and carefully avoiding the slightest allusion
to all topics of complaint and discontent. The little druggist Ganay
spoke at length upon the subject; and, piquing himself rather than
otherwise upon a degree of hypocritical art, he launched forth into
high and extraordinary expressions of joy on the good tidings that the
princess had been pleased to communicate, assured her of the loyalty
and devotion of the good people of Ghent, and even ventured upon a
high and laudatory picture of her father's character.

Albert Maurice stood by in silence; and though the druggist so far
mistook his character as to imagine that the young citizen might
admire the skill and dexterity with which he changed the purpose of
their meeting, such was far from the case. While Albert Maurice
listened, and suffered the other to proceed in a task with which he
did not choose to interfere, his feelings were those of deep contempt,
and he silently marked all the words and actions of the other, in
order to read every trait of his character, and to acquire a complete
insight into the workings of his dark and designing mind, which might
be useful to him in the events which were still to come. Nor was the
druggist alone the subject of his observation. Always a keen
inquisitor of the human heart, Albert Maurice now watched more
particularly than ever the conduct of the different influential
citizens, as persons with whom he might at an after-period have to act
in circumstances of difficulty; but it was upon Ganay that his
attention was principally fixed, both from a feeling that he should
have to use him as a tool, or oppose him as an enemy, if ever those
events occurred which he anticipated; and also from a belief that the
other, in striving to hurry him forward, had some deep personal motive
at the bottom of his heart.

During the whole course of the discussion, the young citizen spoke but
a few words, the tendency of which was, to add to the congratulation
of the citizens, addressed to the Princess Mary, the petition that she
would be the guardian and protectress of the liberties and privileges
of the citizens of Ghent. While he was in the very act of speaking,
there came a clanging sound, as if of a number of steps on the grand
staircase, and, the moment after, an armed head appeared above the
rest; a second followed, and then a number more; and it became very
evident that a considerable band of soldiers were intruding themselves
into a place, sacred by immemorial usage from their presence. The
citizens drew back as the troopers forced their way on, and gradually,
with many expressions of surprise and indignation, gathered round the
spot where Albert Maurice had been speaking.

With the young burgher himself, indignation at the violation of the
privileges of the city overcame every other feeling; and, starting
forward before the rest of the burghers, he faced at once, with his
hand upon his sword, the inferior officer who was leading forward the
men-at-arms, exclaiming, "Back, back, upon your life!" in a voice that
made the vaulted roof of the building echo with its stern, determined

The officer did, indeed, take a step back at his command; for there
was a lightning in his eye at that moment which was not to be
encountered rashly. "Sir," said the Lieutenant of the Prevot, for such
he was, "I come here but to do my duty; and I must do it."

"And pray, sir, what duty," demanded Albert Maurice, "can afford you
an excuse for violating the laws of your country and the privileges of
the city of Ghent? Have you never heard by chance that this is our
free town-hall, in which no soldier but a member of the burgher guard
has a right to set his foot?"

"I come, sir," replied the man, "not so much as a soldier as an
officer of justice, in order to arrest you yourself, Albert Maurice,
charged with high treason, and to lodge you as a prisoner in the
castle, till such time as you can be brought to trial for your

Albert Maurice deliberately unsheathed his sword; a weapon which at
that time the citizens of many of the great towns of Flanders and
Brabant held it their peculiar right to wear. Others were instantly
displayed around him; and at the same moment the little druggist
sprang up to the window, and, putting out his head, shouted forth, "To
arms, citizens of Ghent, to arms!" which words the ears of those
within might hear taken up instantly by those without; and the cry,
well known in all the tumults of the city of "Sta! sta! sta! to arms!
to arms!" was heard echoing through the square below, while Albert
Maurice replied slowly and deliberately to the lieutenant of the

"Sir," he said, "whatever may be your motive for coming here, and be
the charge against me just or not, you have violated one of the
privileges of the city, which never shall be violated with impunity in
my person. I command you instantly to withdraw your men; and, perhaps,
on such condition, you may receive pardon for your offence. As far as
concerns myself, I appeal from your jurisdiction, and lay my cause
before the princess, to whom I am willing immediately to follow."

"That, sir, is impossible," replied the lieutenant; "nor will I
consent to withdraw my men till I have executed the commission with
which I am charged."

"Then witness every one," exclaimed Albert Maurice, "that the
consequences of his own deed rest upon the head of this rash man."

The two parties within the hall--of citizens on the one hand and
soldiers on the other--were equally matched in point of numbers,
though the superior discipline and arms of the Prevot's guard would,
in all probability, have given them the advantage in the strife that
seemed about to commence; but while each body paused, with that
natural reluctance which most men feel, to strike the first blow, the
multiplying shouts and cries in the square before the town-house, gave
sufficient notice that an immense superiority would soon be cast upon
the side of the citizens. Both Albert Maurice and the Prevot's
lieutenant caught the sounds; and the former, pointing towards the
open windows, exclaimed, "Listen, and be warned!"

"Do you, sir, really intend to resist the lawful authority of the
duke?" demanded the other, with evident symptoms of shaken resolution
and wavering courage.

"Not in the least," replied Albert Maurice, calmly but firmly; "nor do
I desire to see blood flow, or tumult take place, though the cause be
your own rash breach of the privileges of the city. I appeal my cause
to the princess herself; and you well know, from the very name you
have given to the charge against me--that of treason--that the
eschevins of the city are incompetent to deal with the case."

"Nay, but the princess cannot hear your cause to-day," replied the
Lieutenant of the Prevot; "for she has gone forth but now towards
Alost, to publish the safety of my lord the duke. You must, therefore,
surrender yourself a prisoner till she returns."

"Nay, nay," replied Albert Maurice, "not so. Here all the chief
citizens of Ghent will be surety for my appearance. Into their hands I
yield myself, but not into yours."

"I must have better bail than that," answered the lieutenant, with the
perturbation of his mind evidently increasing every moment as the
shouts became louder without, and the noise of frequent feet in the
stone vestibule below gave notice that his position was growing every
instant more and more dangerous.

At that moment, however, the old Lord of Neufchatel advanced to the
side of the young citizen. "Hark ye, master lieutenant," he said; "to
end all this affray, I, Thibalt of Neufchatel, knight and noble, do
pledge myself for the appearance of this young citizen, Master Albert
Maurice, to answer before the princess the crime with which he is
charged; and I become his bail in life and limb, lands and lordship,
in all that I can become bound or forfeit, to my lord the duke: and
now, sir, get you gone; for this day have you committed a gross and
shameful outrage against the privileges of these good people of Ghent;
and I, old Thibalt of Neufchatel, tell you so to your beard."

"Long live the Lord of Neufchatel! Long live the defender of the
people of Ghent! Long live the gallant friend of the commons!" shouted
a hundred voices at once, as the old noble thus far committed himself
in their cause, and waved his hand for the lieutenant of the Prevot to

Much would that officer now have given to be permitted to do so,
without any prospect of annoyance; but by this time, the two large
entrances at the end of the hall were completely blocked up by a dense
crowd of traders and artisans, armed hastily with whatever weapons
they had been able to find, from partisans to weavers' beams. Beyond
the doorways, again, the ante-chamber was completely filled by men of
the same description; and from the number of voices shouting up and
down the great staircase, it was clear that the whole townhouse was
thronged with the stirred-up multitude. Those who had first reached
the door had, with more moderation than might have been expected,
paused in their advance, as soon as they saw the parley that was going
on between the citizens and the soldiers. But when the lieutenant of
the Prevot turned round to effect his retreat, they made no movement
to give him way, and stood firm, with a sort of dogged determination,
which the slightest word from any one present would have changed, in a
moment, into actual violence. The officer paused as soon as he saw the
attitude they had assumed, and eyed them with doubt not a little
mingled with fear. The citizens round Albert Maurice stood silent, as
if undetermined how to act; and the grim faces of the crowd, worked by
many an angry passion, filled up the other side of the hall.

The resolution of Albert Maurice himself was taken in a moment; and,
advancing from amongst his friends, he passed round before the
Prevot's band, and approached the crowd that obstructed their passage
out. "My good friends," he said, "let me entreat of you to keep peace,
and let these men depart quietly. Let us not risk our rights and
privileges, and stain a just and noble cause, by any act of violence.
Let them go forth in safety; and we here, your fellow-citizens, will
see that no breach of our rights take place."

No one moved a step; and, for a moment or two, the leaders of the
crowd remained in silence, looking alternately at each other and at
the young speaker, with an expression of countenance which boded but
little good to the luckless band of the Prevot. At length one gruff
voice demanded, "What do they here?"

"They came with orders from their superior officer," replied Albert
Maurice, "for the purpose of arresting me."

"Then they should die for their pains," replied the same rough voice,
which was supported by loud cries from behind of "Down with them; down
with them!"

"Nay, nay," exclaimed Albert Maurice, raising his tone, "it must
not--it shall not be so. Men of Ghent! for my honour, for your own,
for the safety and privileges of the town, let them pass free. If you
love me," he added, in a gentler voice.

This appeal to their affection for himself was not without its effect;
and, after considerable persuasions and delays, he prevailed upon them
to withdraw from the ante-chamber and the staircase; and then, leading
down the lieutenant himself, he conducted him and his men-at-arms
through a lane of very ominous-looking faces in the vestibule out into
the great square, which was now thronged in almost every part by
bodies of the armed populace. Through the midst of these, also, though
not without considerable danger, Albert Maurice obtained a free
passage for the Prevot's band; nor did he leave them till he had seen
them clear of all obstruction. The lieutenant had remained completely
silent during their passage through the crowd, except when called upon
to give some command to his men concerning their array. When, however,
they were free from the people, he took the hand of the young citizen
in his, and wrung it hard: "Master Albert Maurice," he said, "you have
acted a noble part, and it shall be remembered when it may do you

"Let it be remembered, sir," replied the young citizen, "to show that
the people and burghers of Ghent, while they are determined to
maintain their rights with vigour, are equally determined not to
maintain them with violence. Do but justice, sir, to our motives and
our conduct, and we demand no more."

As soon as he had seen the little band of soldiers placed beyond the
risk of all farther opposition, he returned to the town-hall, amidst
the shouts of the people, who were now lingering to talk over the
events that had already occurred, and to discover whether anything
fresh might not arise to give them an opportunity of exercising the
arms they held in their hands, and of satisfying the spirit of tumult
that had been excited amongst them. On his arrival in the hall, the
young citizen instantly approached the Lord of Neufchatel, saying, "Of
course I consider myself as a prisoner in your hands, my lord, till
such time as I can be heard in my own defence by the princess and her
council, which, I beseech you, may be as soon as you can bring it

"You seem to understand all these things, young gentleman," replied
the old noble, "as well as if you had been born to courts. Let us now
go forth, then, to my lodging, where I will entertain you as well as
my poor means will admit; and will immediately send to ascertain when
the princess will condescend to hear your cause."

This mode of proceeding was, of course, immediately adopted; and
Albert Maurice accompanied the Lord of Neufchatel to his dwelling;
where, partly as a prisoner, partly as a guest, he remained during the
rest of the day, and the night that followed. The conduct of his
entertainer towards him was a combination of stately hospitality and
patronising superiority; and Albert Maurice himself, without abating
one jot of that innate dignity and proud sense of mental greatness,
which more or less affected his usual demeanour, succeeded, by showing
all due reverence for the rank of his host, and expressing no small
gratitude for the liberal feeling he had displayed towards him, in
gaining each hour more and more upon the old officer's esteem. The
whole history of his case also, as it had occurred, and the written
testimony which he produced to show the cause of his arrest by
Maillotin du Bac, afforded a sufficient presumption of his innocence
to satisfy the old Lord of Neufchatel, who assured the young citizen
of his personal protection and support before the council.

Late in the evening a messenger from the palace announced, that at
noon the next day the Princess Mary would hear Albert Maurice and his
accusers; and shortly after the old lord left him for the night,
bidding him amuse himself with a few books and papers which he pointed
out in the chamber assigned to him, and recommending him not to think
further of to-morrow, as his acquittal was certain. Albert Maurice,
willingly following his advice, sat down to read; and the sun soon
after set to the young citizen, leaving him in a position as different
as it is possible to conceive, from that which he had contemplated the
night before, as his probable situation at the end of four-and-twenty

And so it is through life! Where is the cunning astrologer, or sage,
or politician, who can lay out, beforehand, the scheme of a single


During the course of the following morning, Albert Maurice was
visited, in the sort of honourable imprisonment to which he was
subjected, by all the chief citizens of Ghent; and a number of them
begged permission of the ex-seneschal of Burgundy to accompany their
young townsman to the council-table of the palace. This was
immediately granted to Martin Fruse and several others, who, by
relationship or connexion, could claim a near interest in the fate of
Albert Maurice. At the same time the rumour of what was about to occur
spread all over Ghent, and before the arrival of the appointed hour, a
large crowd, composed of different classes, surrounded the great gate
of the dwelling of the Lord of Neufchatel. At about half-past eleven,
one of the young citizen's own horses was brought from his house to
the place of his temporary abode; and, shortly after, the old nobleman
rode forth, accompanied by his _protégé_, and followed by half a dozen
of the principal burghers; while a party of about twenty of his own
armed attendants brought up the rear of the cavalcade. In this order,
and amongst deafening shouts from the people, who ran on by the sides
of their horses, they proceeded to the palace, where a considerable
crowd was also assembled.

In the court-yard, drawn up so as to face the great gate, was a small
body of men-at-arms clad in complete steel, with horses furnished with
that sort of defensive armour called bard or bardo; while, in a double
line from the entrance of the outer enclosure to the steps before the
palace, appeared a strong body of harquebussiers with their slow
matches lighted, as if prepared for an anticipated struggle: behind
these again, appeared the soldiers of the Prevot's guard, who were
chosen in general from those lighter and more active troops, which at
a former period were called in the English armies hobblers, but which
had now generally obtained the name of _jennetaires_, from the jennets
or light Spanish horses on which they were usually mounted.

The Lord of Neufchatel and his companions alighted at the outer gate,
and passed on foot through the formidable military array above
described. The old nobleman led the way, followed by Albert Maurice,
who, with a firm step and an upright carriage, but without the
slightest touch of bravado in his demeanour, passed along the whole
line, which, he plainly saw, was drawn up to overawe any attempt to
rescue him, which the populace might be inclined to make in case of
his condemnation. The same demonstrations of military force appeared
in the outer hall, and in an ante-room beyond, in which the young
citizen and his companions were detained for a few minutes, while his
arrival was announced in the chamber of audience with which it

It were vain to say that no shade of emotion passed through the bosom
of Albert Maurice as he stood there waiting for a hearing which was to
determine his fate for life or death; but still his feelings were
different from those which men of less firm nerve might be supposed to
experience on such an occasion. Poor Martin Fruse, who stood behind
him, quivered in every limb with anxiety and apprehension; fidgeted
here and there, and many a time and oft plucked his nephew by the
sleeve, to receive rather than to yield consolation and encouragement.
The countenance of the young burgher, however, was in no way troubled:
there was in it that expression of deep grave thought, which befitted
the time and circumstances; but his brow was unclouded, his cheek had
lost not a tint of its natural hue, and his lip quivered not with
anything like agitation.

After a brief pause, two soldiers, who stood with their partizans
crossed before the entrance of the audience hall, raised their weapons
at a signal from within. The doors were thrown open, and in the midst
of much hurrying and confusion, for a number of persons had by some
means gained admission to the ante-chamber to witness the proceedings,
Albert Maurice, and those who accompanied him, were led forward to the
end of a long table, at which were seated a body of the noblest men
of the land. A wooden bar had been drawn from each side of the
council-board to the wall on either hand; and two soldiers with drawn
swords were placed within these barriers, to prevent the spectators
from advancing beyond them. The space thus left at the end of the
hall, being but small, was soon filled up; and the doors were
immediately closed by the orders of the Lord of Imbercourt, who was
sitting near the head of the table.

In the chair of state, which occupied the principal place at the
table, sat the same gentle, beautiful being whom Albert Maurice had
seen the day before in the great square. She was dressed as befitted
her state and station; and, in a semicircle behind her, stood a bevy
of fair girls, whose beauty, however, faded completely before her own.
She was somewhat paler than the day before, and perhaps a slight
degree of agitation and anxiety might be visible in her looks: but
still the predominant expression of her countenance was gentle
calmness; and, as she raised the dark fringes of her soft hazel eyes
towards the accused, when he took his place at the end of the table,
they seemed to say, "I shall be a lenient judge."

His eyes met hers for a moment, and the colour rose slightly in her
cheek as they did so; while, at the same time, a thrill of feelings,
new and strange, passed through the heart of Albert Maurice. The
principal places of the council-table were filled by the Lords of
Ravestein, Imbercourt, Hugonet, and Vere; but the Duchess of Burgundy
herself, the wife of Charles the Bold, was not present.

A momentary silence succeeded the bustle of their entrance, and the
Lord of Neufchatel surrendered in due form the prisoner for whom he
had become responsible, and claimed to be delivered from the charge.
The business of the council then seemed suspended for a time, from
some motive which Albert Maurice did not understand. This was
explained, however, the minute after, when a door, which opened into
the space within the bar, was thrown back, and Maillotin du Bac, his
countenance as pale as ashes, his arm in a sling, and his head wrapped
in innumerable bandages, was supported into the hall by two
attendants. The eye of the princess fixed upon him with an expression
of grief and compassion, and making an eager gesture with her hand,
she exclaimed, "Place him a chair, place him a chair!"

This command was immediately obeyed; and after the Prevot had paused
for a few minutes to regain strength, he was directed to proceed with
his charge against Albert Maurice, qualified simply as a citizen of
Ghent. This he instantly did with a loudness of tone and a degree of
vindictive vehemence, which no one could have supposed him capable of
exerting, from the weak state in which he appeared to be. His present
charge was somewhat differently couched from that which he had made
against the young citizen at the castle of Hannut: he passed over in
complete silence all the circumstances of the prisoner's arrest,
merely stating that he had received information of a treasonable
communication carried on by this young citizen, between Ghent, Namur,
and France; and that he had arrested him accordingly. On his person he
said he had found letters, the tendency of which placed the facts
beyond doubt; and also showed that the prisoner was criminally
connected with those lawless bands of _routiers_ and plunderers called
the Green Riders. He then went on to detail his having placed him
securely in one of the strongest dungeons of the castle of Hannut, and
of his having discovered the next morning that the dungeon was vacant.
How it became so he said he could not tell; but certain it was that he
had not been received by the Lord of Hannut with that courtesy and
willing co-operation which, as an officer of the Duke of Burgundy, he
had a right to expect. He next detailed to the council his pursuit of
the Green Riders; and related the manner in which he had been attacked
and defeated, although he rated the number of the brigands as not less
than triple that of his own band. It was evidently their design, he
said, and probably their whole design, to deprive him of the papers
which proved the guilt of their comrade and ally, who stood there at
the end of the table. In this view they had unfortunately been too
successful; but he was ready to swear upon his knightly oath, and two
or three of his band, to whom he had shown those papers, were prepared
to bear witness, that they were of a most treasonable character.

To confirm this statement two of the troopers were accordingly called
in, and swore to the Prevot having shown them the papers found upon
the prisoner's person, which were full of treason in every line.

During the evidence of one of these persons, the eye of Maillotin du
Bac detected the old Lord of Neufchatel in whispering something to the
prisoner; and he exclaimed loudly and indecently against that nobleman
for conniving with a base mechanical citizen and a traitor.

"Hark ye, Sir Maillotin du Bac," replied the old lord, bursting forth
with no small indignation, "you yourself are a grovelling hound; and
by the Lord that lives, the first time I meet thee I will drub out of
thee the little life that the good Green Riders have left thee, and

"Peace, peace, sirs," interrupted the Lord of Imbercourt; "you forget
the presence in which you stand, your own dignity, and the solemnity
of the occasion. My Lord of Neufchatel, do you object to tell the
council what you whispered but now in the ear of that young man?"

"Not I, in faith," replied the other; "that was just what I was about
to tell you when you interrupted me. I was then saying that the fellow
there, who has just sworn to having read so much treason, must have
learned to read very fast, and somewhat late in the day; for not a
year ago he was trumpeter in my train, and could not tell an A from a

"Ha!" cried the Lord of Imbercourt, "this must be looked to. Some one
hand him a book. Methinks thou turnest mighty pale," he added,
speaking to the trooper as his command was obeyed; and a volume of the
archives of Burgundy was placed in the man's hand. "There, read me
that sentence!"

With trembling hands the man held the book, gazing with a white face,
and lack-lustre eyes, upon the characters which it contained, and
which were evidently to him meaningless enough. After a moment's vain
effort to perform the impossible task, he lifted his eyes, and rolled
them, full of dismay and detected guilt, round the faces of all
present; while Maillotin du Bac, in rage and disappointment, set his
teeth firm in his pale lip, and stamped his foot heavily upon the

The brow of the Chancellor Hugonet darkened; and, pointing to the man
who had so evidently committed a gross and wilful perjury, he
exclaimed, "Take him away, and let him be well guarded." The command
was immediately obeyed, and the trooper was hurried out of the chamber
by two of the attendants.

"Do you not think, my lords," said the low, sweet voice of Mary of
Burgundy, "that we may dismiss this cause? If it be supported by such
witnesses as these, it will bring more disgrace upon our nation than
can be well wiped off."

"We must not forget, madam," replied Imbercourt, "that here is justice
to be done to the characters of two persons, the accused and his
accuser; and though the nature of the testimony offered as yet may
well induce us to view this charge with suspicion, yet we should be
doing less than justice to this young citizen of your good town of
Ghent, did we not give him the opportunity of clearing his character
fully from even a shade of doubt. Sir Maillotin du Bac," he added
somewhat sternly, "have you any other testimony to produce in support
of your accusation?"

"Methinks," replied the Prevot boldly, "that my own word and testimony
should be enough."

"Not here, sir," replied Imbercourt. "You, young gentleman," he added,
addressing the young burgher, "you have heard the charge against you;
do you desire to speak in your defence?"

"I pray thee, do so, young sir," said the princess, bending slightly
forward; "we would fain believe you wholly innocent, for we cannot
believe that our noble father, the Duke Charles, can have done
anything to turn one true heart against him; and we would fain hear
that such a word as treason is unknown in the good land of Flanders,
except in the mouths of base calumniators, such as the man who, but
now, has been taken hence."

Albert Maurice bent low his head, and then raising his eyes, he
replied, "Madam, for your good opinion I would plead long; and, that I
felt conscious of my innocence, and able to establish it before you,
you may, in some degree, see, by the bold appeal I have made to your
justice, rather than trust myself in the hands of one whose character
is not famous for equal dealing. It seldom happens, lady, that even in
this evil world one man persecutes another without some motive,
springing from either avarice, ambition, or revenge; and yon Prevot's
bare word, perhaps, might weigh even against the fair character I
trust I have hitherto borne, could I not prove that, besides the
general hate which he bears towards the citizens of Ghent, he has
cause of personal animosity against myself. The tale is soon told, and
the proofs of its veracity are in my hand," he added, laying his
finger upon the papers which he had collected to prove his innocence.
"In the small town of Gembloux, whither I had gone, on business
relating to the traffic of my house, I heard a woman's scream, and saw
the wife of an honest burgher insulted and ill-treated at her own door
by one of the brutal soldiers of that Prevot's band; a band, lady,
which, by their insolent contempt of all the ordinary charities and
feelings of civil life, have brought more hatred upon the rulers of
Flanders than ever your noble father dreamt of, and than ever their
services against the brigands can repay. But no more on that score,"
he continued, as the Lord of Imbercourt held up his hand with a
warning gesture. "Suffice it, I saw a woman ill-treated by one of the
soldiers of his band, and I struck the miscreant to the earth in the
very deed; and where is there a Christian man, be he knight or noble,
citizen or peasant, who shall say that I did wrong? Before I was
aware, however, I was seized and overpowered by numbers, my arms tied
with cords, my horse-boy beaten and driven out of the town, my baggage
plundered, and several sealed letters which I was bearing from Namur
to Ghent broken open, and read for the purpose of forging accusations
against me."

"You hear, lords, you hear!" exclaimed Maillotin du Bac; "he
acknowledges the fact of the letters, mark that."

"Ay, do mark it, noble lords! mark it well," continued Albert Maurice,
boldly; "I do acknowledge it. Nay, more, I acknowledge that in those
letters was the expression of some grief and indignation felt by the
people of Namur, on account of infringed rights and violated
privileges. But at the same time, I do most strictly deny that I knew
one word of the contents of those letters, till they were read by yon
bad man in my presence; and still more, I affirm that, even had I
known everything that they contained, or had I written them myself,
there was no sentence in them which tyranny itself could wrest into
such a crime as treason. Lady, and you, Lords of the Council, yon
Prevot has called witnesses to tell you what were the contents of
those letters, and of the honour and good faith of those witnesses you
have had an opportunity of judging. I will now call upon a witness
also, with whose character you have equal means of being acquainted.
My Lord of Imbercourt, to you I appeal. Those letters were shown to
you in my presence; and if you can, upon your knightly honour, declare
that they contain treason, do so before the world."

"Your appeal to me, young gentleman," replied the Lord of Imbercourt,
"must not be made in vain. I do most solemnly declare, on my honour
and oath as a belted knight, that in the letters shown me by the
Prevot, as found upon that young citizen's person, though there were
some expressions bordering upon turbulent discontent, yet there was
nothing, in my poor judgment, which any sane man could construe into

The eyes of Mary of Burgundy had fixed eagerly upon the counsellor as
he spoke; and when he uttered the last words, a bright smile of gentle
satisfaction lighted up all her features, while a slight glow,
spreading over her face, seemed to tell with what anxiety she had
listened to the testimony of the Lord of Imbercourt. That smile and
that glow were not unmarked by Albert Maurice; and his own cheek
flushed, and his own rich voice rather trembled, as he proceeded with
the next sentences of his defence.

"On such grounds of accusation, lady," he continued, "was I
dragged along, tied hand and foot as a criminal of the worst
description, hurried forward in this situation with the rest of the
troop, while they attacked a party of _routiers_ in the forest of
Hannut, carried on to the castle in that forest, and thrown into a
dark dungeon, with a pile of straw for my bed. I thence made my

"How?" shouted Maillotin du Bac; "how?"

"How matters not," replied Albert Maurice.

"Ay, by my faith, but it does," rejoined the Prevot; "for I accuse
you, Sir Citizen, of leaguing with these forest swine that have so
long plundered and desolated the land. Every one of my men can bear
witness, that for the papers concerning you alone was I attacked near
Braine-la-Leud; that they were the first things sought for when we
were overpowered by numbers, and that the continual cry of their
leaders was, 'Secure the papers.'"

Albert Maurice paused, and the Chancellor Hugonet exclaimed, "You had
better explain your escape, young gentleman; this gives a new aspect
to the case."

"On the facts that followed I can say something also," observed the
Lord of Imbercourt, "having been in the castle of my good brother of
Hannut when the absence of the prisoner was first discovered."

"Speak, then, my lord, speak," said Mary of Burgundy, eagerly; "such
testimony as yours is beyond all question; and, unaccustomed to such
scenes as this, I would fain see this case terminated speedily and
well. Speak, then, my lord, and tell us all you know."

"It were better," replied Imbercourt, "and more in the forms of
justice, to suffer the accused to tell his own tale in regard to his
escape; before I give any evidence that I can upon the subject. If you
require it, sir," he added, addressing the young citizen, "I will
absent myself from the council-table while you deliver your statement,
that my testimony may be considered the more impartial."

"Not in the least, my lord," replied Albert Maurice, "do I desire your
absence at all; nor is it my purpose to make any statement in regard
to my escape. Escape I did. Of course I could not have done so
effectually without some aid, from without or from within; and I do
not choose to injure any one, however lowly or however high, by
implicating them in an affair like this. Whatever you know upon the
subject must be from some other source, and, knowing my own innocence
in every respect, I hear you without apprehension."

"I have then but little beyond conjecture to advance," said
Imbercourt. "On the morning after our arrival at the castle of Hannut,
this Prevot presented himself in great wrath before my noble
brother-in-law and myself, informing us of the escape of the prisoner,
and insinuated, in somewhat insolent terms, that the Lord of
Hannut--as loyal a nobleman as ever lived--had abetted the evasion. An
instant investigation was instituted, and we learned that the dungeon
in which the prisoner was left the night before had been found locked
in the morning. No sign of violence was to be seen when we examined it
in person, not a bar was broken, not a stanchion was moved; there lay
the straw which had been the prisoner's bed, there stood the flagon
and the bread which had been given him for his supper on the previous
night. But on inquiry, we found, that this Prevot, after some deep
drinking, and in a state, as several persons witnessed, of stupid
drunkenness, had visited the prisoner's cell at a late hour the
preceding night; and we concluded that he had suffered the young
burgher to slip past him unobserved before he closed the door. Whether
it was so or not, none but himself can tell."

"My lord, as I before said, I will be silent on that point," replied
Albert Maurice; "but the use which I made of my liberty would be quite
sufficient, I should conceive, to prove that I had no very evil or
dangerous designs. I hastened immediately to Gembloux, where I
obtained these papers, which I now lay before the council, to
establish fully the fact that I was arrested, in the first instance,
solely for striking a soldier, who had insulted the wife of a burgher
of the place; I then made all speed to Ghent, where I was sure of
encountering my adversary, but where I trusted also to obtain

"And the first thing you did when you were in Ghent," exclaimed
Maillotin du Bac, with the angry vehemence of disappointed hatred,
"was to stir up the people to tumult, to make seditious speeches in
the town-hall, to resist the lawful force sent to arrest you, and to
incite the people to murder the officers that were despatched for your
apprehension. Pretty proofs of innocence, indeed! Well, well, the
princess and the lords of the council will see what will come of it,
if they suffer such doings to take place with impunity. Who will serve
the state, if the state will not support them in doing their duty? The
strong hand, lords, the strong hand is the only way to keep down these
turbulent, disaffected burghers."

"It must be the strong hand of justice, then, Prevot," replied
Imbercourt; "and let me tell you, that you yourself, by the unjust
arrest of this young man, have done more to stir up the people to
rebellion than the most seditious traitor that ever harangued from a
market cross. Nor, sir, must you scatter such false and malicious
accusations without proofs. Before I sat down here, I, with several of
the other lords now present, investigated accurately what had been the
conduct of this young burgher during the course of yesterday morning;
and I find that, so far from his behaviour being turbulent and
seditious, he acted only as a loyal subject to our lord the duke, and
was one of those good merchants who drew up an address of
congratulation on the news of our sovereign's safety. More I found
that, had it not been for his influence and strong exertions with the
people, your lieutenant and his band, Sir Prevot, would have been
sacrificed to their indignation, for imprudently intruding into a
privileged place, while the merchants of the good town were assembled
in deliberation. Nor can any one doubt the fact, for your own
lieutenant was the first to bear witness to this young citizen's
generous intercession in his favour."

Maillotin du Bac set his teeth hard, and stretched out his hand upon
his knee, with a sort of suppressed groan, which might proceed either
from the pain of his bruises, or the disappointment of his malice.
After a short pause, during which no one seemed prepared to say
anything more, either in accusation or defence, the princess herself
spoke, with that sort of timid and doubtful tone which was natural in
one so young, so inexperienced, and so gentle on giving a decision
upon so important a cause, although it was sufficiently evident to all
what her decision must be.

"I think, my lords," she said, "after what we have heard there cannot
be any great difference of opinion. The evidence which has been
brought forward seems not only to exculpate this young gentleman from
all charge whatever, but to cast the highest honour upon his character
and conduct. What say you, my lords? do you not acquit him freely from
all stain?"

The voices of the council were found unanimous in favour of the
accused; and it was announced to him that he stood free and clear from
all accusation. The princess bowed to him, as his full acquittal was
declared, with a smile of gratification at the result, which sprang
from a pure, a noble, and a gentle heart, pleased to see a fellow
creature, whose dignified deportment and graceful carriage could not
but win upon the weaknesses of human nature, establish clearly a
higher and more dignified title to esteem by tried virtue and
integrity. There was no other feeling mingled with her smile; nor did
Albert Maurice, for a moment, dream that there was; but, at the same
time, it wakened a train of thoughts in his own mind both dangerous
and painful. More than ever did he feel that he was born out of the
station for which nature had formed his spirit; and more than ever did
his heart burn to do away those grades in society, which, though the
inevitable consequences of the innate differences between different
men, he, from mortified pride, termed artificial distinctions, and
unjust barriers betwixt man and man. It were to inquire too curiously,
perhaps, to investigate how the one sweet smile of that beautiful lip
woke in the heart of the young citizen a train of such apparently
abstruse thoughts. So, however, it was; and, as the doors of the
audience hall were thrown open behind him, allowing those to go forth
who had gained admittance to hear his examination before the council,
he bowed to the princess and the nobles present, with feelings
individually more friendly to all of them, but certainly more hostile
to the general system of government, and the existing institutions of

Still Albert Maurice entertained no presumptuous dreams in regard to
Mary of Burgundy. He thought her certainly the most beautiful creature
he had ever beheld. She had smiled upon him sweetly and gently. She
had been present at his examination herself, though she might,
notwithstanding his appeal, have left it to the decision of her
council. She had done him full and impartial justice; and she had
seemed to derive a personal pleasure from his acquittal. All this he
felt strongly; and he was fond to picture, from that fair face, and
those soft hazel eyes, a mind and a spirit within all gentleness and
excellence. He thought, too, that had mankind been in its just and
natural situation, where no cold rules placed as wide a distance
between different classes, as if they were composed of different
creatures, he might have striven to win, ay, and he thought he might
have won, that fair hand, which had held the scales of justice for him
so impartially.

Such feelings, and all the many collateral thoughts to which those
feelings gave rise, were busy in his breast, as he followed the good
old Lord of Neufchatel towards the door. Just as he was going out, he
turned to take one more glance of the princess, the last, perhaps, he
was ever to obtain; but Mary of Burgundy, and her ladies, had already
quitted the hall, as well as his accuser, Maillotin du Bac, who had
hastened away to conceal himself from popular indignation. Nothing was
to be seen but one or two of the members of the council, standing
together in a group at the farther end of the table, and apparently,
by the gay laughter in which they were indulging, conversing over some
indifferent subject. Albert Maurice turned, and strode through the
ante-chamber, while the Lord of Neufchatel walked on before him,
demonstrating, with proud courtesy, various points of feudal law to
good Martin Fruse, who listened to his speech with every mark of the
most deferential respect. The young citizen was just entering the
outer hall, and he already heard the shouts of the people in the
square, welcoming with a glad voice, the news of his acquittal, which
had preceded his own appearance, when somebody plucked him by the
sleeve, and one of the officers of the household informed him, in a
low tone, that the Princess Mary required his presence for a moment in

The heart of the young burgher beat quick; but without pause he
followed the attendant, as he turned away from him, and in a moment
had passed through one of the side doors into the private apartments
of the palace.


Every one knows that, in the early dawn of a Sicilian morning, the
shepherds and the watchers on the coast of the Messinese Strait will
sometimes behold, in the midst of the clear unclouded blue of the sky,
a splendid but delusive pageant, which is seen also, though in a less
vivid form, amongst the Hebrides. Towers and castles, domes and
palaces, festivals and processions, arrayed armies and contending
hosts, pass, for a few minutes, in brilliant confusion before the eyes
of the beholders, and then fade away, as if the scenes of another
world were, for some especial purpose, conjured up during one brief
moment, and then withdrawn for ever from their sight.

Thus there are times, too, in the life of man, when the spirit,
excited by some great and stirring passion, or by mingling with mighty
and portentous events, seems to gain for a brief instant a confused
but magnificent view of splendid things not yet in being. Imagination
in the one case, and her daughter Hope, in the other, give form and
distinctness to the airy images, though both are too soon doomed to
fade away amidst the colder realities of the stern world we dwell in.

The mind of Albert Maurice had been excited by the scenes he had just
gone through; and success, without making him arrogant, had filled him
full of expectation. Each step that he took forward seemed but to
raise him higher, and each effort of an enemy to crush him seemed,
without any exertion of his own, only to clear the way before him.
Such thoughts were mingling with other feelings, brought forth by the
sight, and the voice, and the smile of Mary of Burgundy, when the
sudden call to her presence woke him from such dreams; but woke him
only to show to his mind's eye many a confused but bright and splendid
image, as gay, as glittering, as pageant-like, but as unreal also, as
the airy vision which hangs in the morning light over the Sicilian
seas. Fancy at once called up everything within the wide range of
possibility. Battles and victories, and triumphant success, the shout
of nations and of worlds, the sceptre, the palace, and the throne, and
a thousand other indistinct ideas of mighty things, danced before his
eyes for a moment, with a sweeter and a brighter image, too, as the
object and end of ambition, the reward of mighty endeavour, the
crowning boon of infinite success. But still he felt and knew, even
while he dreamed, that it was all unreal; and, as he followed the
messenger with a quick pace, the vision faded, and left him but the
cold and naked truth. At length, after passing through several
chambers, which flanked the hall of audience, the door of a small
apartment, called the bower, was thrown open, and the young burgher
stood once more before Mary of Burgundy.

One of the most painful curses of high station is that of seldom, if
ever, being alone; of having no moment, except those intended for
repose, in which to commune with one's own heart, without the
oppression of some human eye watching the emotions of the mind as they
act upon the body, and keeping sentinel over the heart's index, the
face. Mary of Burgundy was not alone, though as much alone as those of
her station usually are. She stood near a window, at the other side of
the apartment, with her soft rounded arm and delicate hand twined in
those of one of her fair attendants, Alice of Imbercourt, on whom she
leaned slightly, while the Lord of Imbercourt himself stood beside her
on the other hand; and, with his stately head somewhat bent, seemed,
with all due reverence, to give her counsel upon some private matter
of importance. Another figure was retiring from an opposite door as
Albert Maurice entered; but who it was, the faint glance he caught did
not permit the young burgher to distinguish.

He advanced towards the spot where the princess stood, with the usual
marks of ceremony and reverence; and, as he came near and bent one
knee, she held out her hand for him to kiss, with a gentle smile, but
with the air and demeanour of a princess.

"I congratulate you, Master Albert Maurice," she said, as soon as he
had risen, "on the clear and satisfactory manner in which you have
been enabled to establish your innocence; for I fear, it sometimes
happens that persons accused are not able to bring forward sufficient
evidence to exculpate them before their princes, who, judging
according to their best conscience, are often charged with cruelty or
partiality, more from the defect of the testimony offered to them,
than from any desire of doing aught but justice. I therefore
congratulate you most sincerely on your having had the means of
establishing your innocence beyond all doubt: and I am deeply
gratified myself, that you have been able to remove every doubt from
my own mind, as well as to satisfy my council."

"Had every person accused, so gracious and impartial a judge, madam,"
replied the young citizen, "it were happy for the world; and, indeed,
it was my full confidence in your own justice, and in that of the
noble lords of the council, which made me appeal so boldly to your own

"For so doing I thank you, sir," replied the princess; "and I have now
sent for you to say so, as well as to speak with you on one part of
your defence, which somewhat touched upon the honour of my father's
justice. Although I marked it at the time, I did not choose to notice
it before the many; and now, by the advice of one of my best and most
faithful friends, I seek this private mode, certainly not of chiding
you for what has passed your lips, but of calling to your remembrance
things which might have made your words less bitter."

The princess paused for a moment, colouring slightly, with some degree
of agitation, from the task thus imposed upon her, and from the long
time which it required her to speak upon subjects of some political
importance. She showed, indeed, no awkward incompetence, no want of
mental power; but her blush and her slight embarrassment were those of
her youth, of her sex, and of a delicate and feeling mind. While she
paused, Albert Maurice merely bowed his head, without reply; and in a
moment after, she proceeded.

"I am very young, sir," she said, "and, as a woman, am of course cut
off from mingling greatly with mankind. Nevertheless, as it has so
unfortunately fallen out, that the rule of these territories should
seem to be at some time destined for a female hand, and that hand
mine, I have not, of course, neglected the study of the laws and
institutions, nor of the history, of the dominions that may one day
become my own. In speaking of the city of Namur, you named rights
violated, and privileges infringed, and, perhaps, alluded to some
other privileges of which other towns have been deprived. Most of the
events that you probably referred to, took place before the period to
which my own remembrance extends; but, if the historians of the land
say true, no rights were ever, in any instance, arbitrarily wrenched
away from the people. In all cases, if my memory serve me right, the
loss of privileges was inflicted on the citizens as a punishment for
some crime, for some unprovoked revolt, for some attempt to snatch the
power from what they considered a weak or embarrassed hand. Such being
the case, justice, both in the abstract sense of awarding punishment
for evil, or in the moral policy of deterring others from crime, by
the example of retributive infliction, required that the cities which
so acted should suffer a certain penalty as the consequence. That
penalty has always been the loss of some of their privileges; which
punishment has uniformly been received by them as most merciful, at
the time when detected treason or suppressed revolt brought upon them
the wrath, and placed them at the mercy, of a powerful prince. Nor,
let me say, can they hope to regain the privileges they have lost,
except by a calm and tranquil obedience, or some service rendered,
which may merit reward and confidence."

She waited for a reply; but Albert Maurice remained silent. In truth,
he felt no small difficulty in so shaping his answer as not to swerve
from the truths indelibly written in his own heart, and yet not to
hurt the feelings, or lower himself in the esteem, of one whose good
opinion had become, he knew not why, of more consequence in his eyes
than mortal opinion had ever been before. He felt, too, that the
princess spoke according to the ideas and sentiments of her rank and
of her times; while he himself bore within his bosom the feelings of
his own class, and the thoughts of times long gone, when liberty was
eloquent and powerful.

Although between such different principles there was a gulf as deep as
the abyss, still love might span it with a bridge, which, like that
that leads to the Moslem paradise, is finer than a famished spider's
thread. But it were wrong to say he loved. Oh, no! he would have
shrunk from so idle a thought, had it come upon him in a tangible
shape. Yet there was something growing upon his heart which softened
it towards Mary of Burgundy; which rendered it unwilling to hurt her
feelings; which made it timid of offending her, though the eye of the
proudest sovereign that ever trod the earth would not have caused it
to quail for an instant.

The Lord of Imbercourt saw more clearly into the character of the man,
and knew more of the circumstances of the times, than the princess he
had stayed to counsel; and perceiving that the young citizen was not
about to reply, he spoke a few words in addition to that which Mary
had advanced, taking a wider ground than she had assumed, and
examining the subject more as a philosopher than either a feudal
noble, or the counsellor of an absolute prince. He spoke of the
necessity of order and good government, for the peace and happiness of
the people themselves; he pointed out that tranquillity and general
confidence were absolutely necessary to industry, both commercial and
productive; and he showed, with the voice of years and experience,
that turbulence and discontent were ruinous to any nation, but, in a
tenfold degree ruinous to a commercial people.

"Believe me, Master Albert Maurice," he added, "that just in the same
proportion that the man is to be blest, who teaches a people to
improve their moral state, to cultivate their intellects, and to
extend their knowledge and resources, in the same degree is he to be
hated and despised, who teaches them to be discontented with their

He paused; and Albert Maurice replied with more calm firmness than he
could, perhaps, have shown, had he answered the princess, "I will not,
my lord, attempt to use towards you that ordinary fallacy which, in
fact, arises only in the imperfection of language, namely, that people
must be rendered discontented with their condition, in order to gain
the desire of changing it. I know and feel, that, though we have not a
word exactly to express it, there is an immense difference between
discontent with our present state, and the calm desire of improving
it. But still, it may be doubted, whether the mind of man, especially
in multitudes, does not require some more universal and potent
stimulus to carry it generally forward to great improvements, than the
slow progress of increasing knowledge can afford."

"No, no, indeed," replied Imbercourt; "the potent stimulus is like too
much wine, which only maddens for the time, and leaves every nerve
more feeble and relaxed thereafter. No, no: administer good plain and
wholesome food to the social as well as to the human body; and,
growing in strength and performing all its functions correctly, it
will gain, by the same calm and easy degrees, the desire and the power
of obtaining that which is best adapted to its state."

Albert Maurice felt that there was truth in what the Lord of
Imbercourt advanced; but, nevertheless, between them there still
existed a thousand differences of opinion, which would have required
an infinite change of circumstances to have removed. The differences
of their age, of their station, of their education, and of their
habits, were all as much opposed to a coincidence of thought, as the
difference of their natural characters itself; and the only point of
resemblance between the young citizen and the high-born noble--namely,
the fine aspirations and elegant feelings which raised the former
above the generality of his class--naturally tended to make him detest
those laws of society which held him down in a rank below that for
which he was fitted, and look with disgust upon those who maintained
them as a barrier against him. At the same time he was conscious that
in his bosom there might be some feelings not entirely patriotic, or,
at least, he felt afraid that it was so; and, perceiving, also, that
the arguments which were addressed to him were far more liberal and
plausible than those usually held by the class to which the Lord of
Imbercourt belonged, he did not choose to enter into a farther
discussion, which might either shake his own determinations, or expose
the views on which he acted to those who would take means to foil his

"I am, of course, incompetent, my lord," he replied, "to argue with an
experienced statesman like yourself, on subjects which you must have
had a much greater opportunity of examining than I can have had."

Imbercourt watched his countenance during this brief reply; and he was
too much versed in the ways of men to be deceived by its apparent
modesty. He saw, and saw clearly, that the high and flashing spirit,
the keen and acute mind, which the young burgher had displayed at the
examination before the council--and which, indeed, had been reported
long before to the ministers of the Duke of Burgundy--was curbed and
restrained on the present occasion; and he easily divined some of the
motives which created such reserve. He saw, too, that it would be
necessary to make use of other inducements than those of argument for
the purpose of detaching the young citizen from the factious party in
Flanders, and of preventing him from giving to their designs the
consolidation, the direction, and the vigour which such a mind as his
might bestow.

Neither had the slight shade of emotion which had passed over the
countenance of Albert Maurice, when addressed by the princess, escaped
his experienced eye; and, though far too proud and aristocratic in his
own nature ever to dream that a burgher of Ghent could indulge in the
very thought of love towards the heiress of the land, he was
sufficiently chivalrous in mind to believe, that a smile from such
fair lips, a word from so sweet a voice, might bend a man on whom
arguments would prove all useless. He turned, therefore, to the
princess, with a smile, saying--"Well, let us not reason of the past;
I think, madam, that you had something to say to this young gentleman
concerning the future; and, as it could come with full effect from no
lips but yours, I pray you communicate it to him yourself."

"Most willingly will I do so," replied Mary of Burgundy; "and I am
sure that I shall not speak in vain. I have heard, and, indeed, I
know, Master Albert Maurice, that no man in the good city of Ghent
possesses so much influence as yourself with the merchants and people
of the good towns. My father being now absent, and likely, I fear, to
remain so for some time--as my dear and excellent stepdame, Margaret
his duchess, has been called to join him at Dijon--and the government
of Flanders resting in my weak hands, I am anxious, most anxious, to
preserve the country, and especially this city of Ghent--which," she
added, with a smile, "has not in all times been famous for its orderly
disposition--in peace and tranquillity during my temporary government,
which, I pray, God shorten. My request to you, therefore, is, that you
will use your best endeavours to still all irritation, to calm all
disposition to tumult, and to maintain in the people a spirit of order
and quiet. May I trust that you will do so?"

The blood rushed up to the temples of the young citizen with fearful
force; and the pain that he experienced for a few moments, till he had
determined upon his reply, would be difficult to describe. At length
he answered, though with some hesitation.

"Madam," he said, "I feel assured that, under your sway, however long
the government of Flanders may be delegated to you by your father, no
infraction of the people's rights, no blow at the privileges of the
good towns, will, or can take place. Under this conviction, I will
willingly promise what you demand, though, in truth, you attribute to
me much greater influence than I possess. At the same time, madam, let
me pray you to remember, that if--which God forbid! evil ministers or
tyrannical officers should, as sometimes happens, wrong their master,
by trampling on his subjects, I cannot, and I will not, bind myself to
support such things, or to oppose my countrymen in seeking to right

"God forbid, indeed," exclaimed Mary, eagerly, "that you should ever
be put to such a trial! Indeed, young gentleman, indeed," she added,
while her whole beautiful countenance glowed with enthusiasm, "to
merit and to win my people's love, to heal all feuds, to bind up every
wound, to wipe the eyes that weep, to raise up the oppressed, to
uphold and to promote the virtuous, and to guard the feeble and
defenceless, would be the first wish and thought of Mary of Burgundy,
were she queen of one half the world."

"Madam, I believe it! from my heart I believe it!" replied Albert
Maurice, catching the enthusiasm of her tone; "and may God bless and
prosper you in the performance of so noble an intention!"

As he spoke, he felt that the presence of that fair being had become
more dangerous to his resolutions and purposes, perhaps even to his
peace, than he could have imagined possible; and, afraid that at every
word he might promise more than circumstances might permit him to
perform, or bind himself so strictly, that his duty to his country
would be lost--he paused, and drew a step back, in order to take his
leave. The princess saw the movement, and bowed her head, to signify
that he was at liberty to depart. "Farewell, sir," she said; "and do
not forget the promise you have made."

The young citizen bowed, and retired; and, while Mary remained in deep
and anxious conversation with Imbercourt, he made his way back to the
ante-chamber of the audience-hall, which was now empty, and thence
into the court of the palace, where he was joined by his uncle, Martin
Fruse; and found the Lord of Neufchatel in the act of mounting his
horse. The old nobleman paused for a moment, to read the young citizen
a long and stately lecture upon the impropriety of leaving, as he had
done, those who had accompanied him to the council chamber, the moment
that the examination was over. The mind of Albert Maurice, however,
and his heart, were busied about far other things; and the reproof of
the old cavalier fell upon a somewhat dull and inattentive ear. He
answered with some formal words of apology, stating that he had been
called away unexpectedly; and then, with more energy and feeling,
expressed his gratitude for the kindness and services which the Lord
of Neufchatel had rendered him.

"Well, well, no more of that!" cried the old lord; "never shall it be
said that I shrunk from the side of an oppressed man, be he noble or
not noble. Happy I am that you have so fully cleared yourself, Master
Albert Maurice; and whenever the good citizens of Ghent require such
aid and advice concerning matters of state and feudal law, as I, from
my old acquaintance with courts and camps, can give, let them come
freely to consult me, without fear or bashfulness; that is to say,
while I am in the city; for, in ten days' time, I go to join the camp,
and once more, though the hand be feeble, and the head be grey, to lay
lance in rest for Burgundy. However, absent or present, I shall always
be happy to do what I can for the good city of Ghent."

Albert Maurice bowed, and his uncle bowed low; and, mounting his
horse, though with somewhat less alacrity than he had done in his
youthful days, the Lord of Neufchatel quitted the palace court, and
went nodding and smiling through the crowds assembled without. Albert
Maurice and his uncle then followed, passing the grim lanes of
soldiery that still occupied the interior of the court, with very
different feelings from those which they had experienced when they
entered its gates. The appearance of the young citizen, after his
exculpation, was instantly hailed by the multitudes without, as a sort
of popular triumph; and, amidst shouts of joy and congratulation, he
was conducted safely to his own dwelling.


We must now carry the reader's mind forward to a day a little in
advance of that which we last noticed.

It was towards that period of the year which the French call the
_short summer of St. Martin_, from the fact of a few lingering bright
days of sunshiny sweetness breaking in upon the autumn, as a memorial
of the warmer season gone before. The sky was all full of light, and
the air full of heat; and the grand masses of high grey clouds that
occasionally floated over the sun were hailed gladly for their soft
cool shadow, although the day was the eleventh of November. Sweeping
over the prospect, like the mighty but indistinct images of great
things and splendid purposes which sometimes cross a powerful but
imaginative mind, the shadows of the clouds moved slow over hill and
dale, field and forest. Now they cast large masses of the woods into
dark and gloomy shade, and left the rising grounds around to stand
forth in light and sparkling brightness, giving no bad image of the
dark memories that are in every heart, surrounded but not effaced by
after joys. Now they floated soft upon the mountains, spreading an
airy purple over each dell and cavity; while, pouring into the midst
of the valley, the bright orb of day lighted up tower, and town, and
farm, and hamlet, and village spire, as hope lights up the existence
of man, even while the many clouds of fate hang their heaviest shadows
on the prospect around him. The harmonious hue of autumn, too, was
over all the world. Russet was the livery of the year; and the brown
fields, preparing for the sower, offered only a deeper hue of the same
colour, which, though varied through a thousand shades, still painted
every tree throughout the woods, and sobered down even the grassy
meadows with a tint far different from that of spring. The sky, with
the sunshine that it contained, was all summer; but the aspect of
everything that it looked upon spoke of autumn sinking fast into the
arms of winter.

Such was the scene upon the banks of the little river Geete, when a
party, whose bright dresses and active movements spoke sport and
gaiety, rode up the windings of the stream, not far from the place
where now stands the little hamlet of Sodoigne. No village, however,
stood there then; and the banks of the Geete were bordered for some
miles with green meadows, not above two or three hundred yards in
breadth. These rich pastures were bounded to the eastward by the
forest of Hannut, which swept in irregular masses along the whole
course of the river, and were confined on the other hand by the low
but broken banks of the watercourse, sometimes, in the steepest parts,
lined with bushes, which dipped their very branches in the current,
but more often, where the turf and the stream were nearly upon a
level, fringed with long green flags and other water plants.

The party who cantered lightly along the meadows consisted of eight
persons, of whom three were females; and each of the latter upon her
hand bore the glove and falcon, which showed the object of their
expedition. The first in state, in loveliness, and in grace, was Mary
of Burgundy, mounted on a beautiful white horse adorned with many a
goodly trapping, and which, though full of fire and life, she managed
with that easy and graceful horsemanship for which she was famous, and
which, unhappily, in after years, led to the fatal accident[3] that
deprived the world of one of its brightest ornaments. By her side rode
the fair Alice of Imbercourt, her favourite friend and nearest
attendant, while another young lady, of inferior rank, but still of
noble birth, followed a step behind, somewhat embarrassed by the high
spirit of her horse, which she managed well, but with less dexterity
than the other two. An elderly gentleman, of mild, complacent, and
courtly manners, followed the ladies as their principal attendant;
while, of the other four, two habited in green, and furnished with
long poles for beating the bushes, together with lures, spare jesses,
hoods, and bells, at once showed themselves as official falconers; and
the two who brought up the rear, though armed with a degree of
precaution that was very necessary in that day, appeared what they
really were, namely, simple grooms.

There is something in the excitement of quick riding totally obnoxious
to both fear and sadness. It is scarcely possible to conceive a person
galloping easily along upon a spirited horse, without feeling his
confidence and hope renewed, in some degree, whatever may be the
circumstances of his situation. Thus, though in the heart of Mary of
Burgundy there was many a memory of painful feelings, of disappointed
hopes, and crushed affections; and, though across her mind, whenever
she suffered it to rest upon the future, would come dark and painful
apprehensions, still the excitement of the sport, the beauty of the
day, and the glow of exercise, had given her a flow of high spirits
that she had not known for many a day. Her mirth, indeed, was never
overpowering, and, if it reached the bounds of cheerfulness, it seldom
went beyond.

Now, however, as they rode along by the banks of the stream, and as
the falconers beat the bushes to rouse the objects of their chase, she
jested in a tone of gentle gaiety with the fair girl who accompanied
her upon all those matters which, to the heart of woman, are the
important things of life.

Alice of Imbercourt, on her part, maintained the conversation with the
same spirit, jested with the like good-humoured malice in reply to the
princess, and was never without an answer at her need, although she
did not for a moment forget, that however high her own rank, Mary of
Burgundy held a higher, nor ever failed to mingle with her speech so
much of reverence as to show that she had not forgotten the

"Nay, nay, own, dear Alice," exclaimed the princess, in reply to
something that had passed before, "that day by day you have been
bringing me nearer and nearer to a certain castle in the wood; and, in
truth, I think that you must have got the noble lord your father to be
a confederate in your plot."

"Good sooth, dear lady," replied Alice, "a happy thing were it for us
poor women if all fathers were so complacent: I know well where one
little heart would be in that case;" and she looked up with an arch
smile in the face of the princess.

However strongly prudence may enjoin them to be silent themselves, all
women feel more or less pleasure when the conversation is brought near
the subject of their loves. Though Mary of Burgundy would not say one
word that she could help, upon the feelings of her own heart, even to
so dear and faithful a friend as Alice of Imbercourt, yet she felt no
displeasure when the gay girl's tongue touched upon the subject of her
affections, although clouds and darkness hung over the prospect, and
all hope of their gratification was but faint indeed. At the same time
she was, perhaps, a little fearful of the topic ever being carried too
far; and, therefore, after a smile, in which melancholy mingled, in
some degree, with pleasure, she returned to her own jest with her fair
follower, without adding anything more to a subject on which both, in
happier circumstances, might have been well pleased to speak more

"Nay, nay, Alice," she exclaimed, "that was an artful turn, my sweet
friend: but you shall not escape so readily. Tell me, did you not put
it in your father's head, to think what a fine thing it would be for
me to visit all the different towns in Flanders, and win the love of
the good burghers? And did you not yourself lay out the very plan of
our journey from Ghent to Alost, and thence to Brussels, and thence to
Louvaine, and thence to Tirlemont? And have you not kept me three full
days at Tirlemont; and, at last, have you not brought me up the fair
river Geete, with our hawks upon our hands, and nobody to watch us,
till we are within a league or two of this same castle of Hannut? Fie,
Alice! fie! it is a decided conspiracy!"

Alice laughed gaily, and replied: "Well, lady, if it can be proved,
even by the best logic of your beautiful lips, that I do wish to see
my lover, I know no woman, who has one, that does not do so too, from
the farmer's milkmaid, with her pail upon her head, to the Princess of
Burgundy, on her white Spanish jennet."

Mary laughed and sighed. "You own it, then," she answered: "I thought,
when last night you were striving hard to persuade me to visit the
castle of Hannut, and have my future fate laid bare by the dark and
awful skill of this learned uncle of yours, that there was a leaf in
the book of fortune, or rather in the book of life, that you would
well like to read for yourself. But tell me, Alice," she added, more
seriously, "tell me something of this lover, to whom, it seems, you
are affianced. There appears some mystery about him, and you, of
course, must know more of him than any one else."

"Nay, quite the contrary, my dear lady and mistress," replied Alice of
Imbercourt; "that shows how little you know of the sad race called
men. His being my lover is the very reason, of all others, why I
should know less of him than any other person."

"How so," demanded the princess, with a look of surprise.

"Why, simply because, from the moment he becomes my lover," replied
Alice of Imbercourt, "he takes the very best possible care to hide
every evil quality in his nature and disposition, upon the full and
preconcerted plan of not letting me see any one of them till such time
as he is my husband. Then, out they come! But that is not all," she
continued; "that would only hide a part of his character; but, at the
same time that he takes these precautions, I, on my part, like every
wise woman, make up my mind, on no account whatever to see any little
fault or failing that he may accidentally display, at least, till such
time as he is my husband. Then, of course, when nothing more is to be
gained or lost, I shall, beyond doubt, take as much pains to find them
out as another, and he will take as little to hide them."

"That is a bad plan, Alice," replied the princess; "that is a bad
plan. Find out the faults, if you can, in the lover, while your hand
is your own, and your will is free. See them not at all in your
husband; for blindness in such a case is woman's best policy. But you
mistake me, Alice; it was not of his mind I spoke, but of his
situation; for, when questioning my Lord of Imbercourt the other day,
he called him your uncle's nephew: now, none of our wise heralds ever
heard, it seems, of such a nephew."

A slight blush came up into the cheek of Alice as the princess spoke;
but she replied frankly, "In truth, dear lady, I know nothing on that
score; and upon such subjects I have ever thought that if my father
was satisfied, I had no reason to complain. All I know is, that my
cousin Hugh was brought up at the court of France; has fought in the
civil wars of England, and under Galeas, Duke of Milan; has gained
honour, and knighthood, and glory in the field; is gentle, and kind,
and tender, and affectionate to me; and is--" she added, with a laugh
and a blush at the praises which she was pouring forth, and which she
felt must betray the whole secret of her heart, but which yet she
could not or would not restrain--"and as handsome a man, and as
graceful a cavalier as ever entered hall or mounted horse."

The princess smiled, and answered, "Well, well, if he be all that,
fair Alice, you are right, quite right, to ask no farther questions.
But how it is, good Bartholomew," she cried, turning to one of the
falconers, "how is it? Can you find no bird, in all the length of this
fair stream, for us to fly our hawks?"

"So please your Grace," replied the man, "the air is so sultry that
the herons will hardly wade where there is no shelter; but up beyond
those bushes, where the bank with its long sedges jets out into the
stream, I doubt not we may raise something yet."

The whole party accordingly rode on, and the judgment of the
experienced falconer was justified. Under the cool shadow of the bank,
one of the feathered fishermen had advanced some way, with his long
legs, and, taking fright at the noise of the horses, he stretched
forth his neck, gathered the air under his wings, and soared up at
about the distance of twenty or thirty yards from the approaching
party. The birds were instantly cast from the wrists of the ladies:
the heron, finding himself pursued, and apparently a crafty old fowl,
strove to beat to windward of the hawks, flying as rapidly as
possible, and yet keeping himself prepared for sudden defence. All the
horses were put to full speed, and in a moment the whole scene became
one of cry and confusion.

"Call the merlin up the wind! Call the merlin up the wind!" exclaimed
the princess to the chief falconer. "See! see! he is towering; he will
miss his stoop!"

"So ho! woa he!" cried the falconer, with a loud whistle: "he will
make his point yet, your Grace." But the heron, finding himself
over-reached, made a dip, skimmed, and evaded the fall or stoop of the
falcon, which, being a young bird, had endeavoured to strike it at
once, without being perfectly sure of its aim. The clamour and the
galloping now became more eager than ever, the bird making directly
for the wood, which it seemed likely to gain, notwithstanding the
efforts of its pursuers.

The meadow was the finest even ground that could be conceived for such
sport; and the rein being freely given to each horse, the whole party
dashed on at full speed, without seeing, or caring for, the massy
clouds, that, sweeping together overhead, directly in the face of a
light and flickering wind, which was blowing from the northwest,
seemed to threaten a storm of some kind. The air, too, had that
sultry, oppressive weight which one often feels in the neighbourhood
of a great forest; and the horses--animals peculiarly susceptible
to the sensations produced by an atmosphere overcharged with
electricity--seemed more eager and fiery than usual, and were soon in
a complete lather of foam.

The grey merlin which had been carried by Mary of Burgundy retrieved
the error of its first eagerness, and cutting between the heron and
the wood, kept it off for some time over the meadow and the stream.
The sport was thus in its highest point of interest, and the horses in
full career, when a sudden flash of lightning broke across their path,
and startled the whole party. Each horse involuntarily recoiled. The
princess and Alice of Imbercourt both kept their seats, but the young
lady who followed them, less skilful in her management, was thrown
violently to the ground; while her horse, wild with fright, dashed
madly across the meadow, and plunged into the stream. The falconers
rode forward to whistle back their hawks, the service most important
in their eyes, and one of the grooms galloped after the frightened
horse, in order to catch him ere he was irrecoverably lost. But the
rest of the party, instantly dismounting, surrounded the poor girl who
had met with the accident, whom they found severely bruised, but not
otherwise dangerously hurt. She complained bitterly, however, and, as
if conscious that she was not a very interesting person otherwise,
made the most of her misfortune to engross attention.

The horse and the hawks were soon recovered, but it became now the
question, what was to be the course of their farther proceedings.
Large drops of rain were beginning to fall; everything portended a
tremendous storm. The young lady who had fallen was too much bruised
to sit her horse with ease, and was, or appeared to be, too much
terrified to attempt it again. She, nevertheless, entreated the
princess and her companions to return as fast as possible towards
Tirlemont, leaving her where she was, with some one to protect her,
and to send a litter from the town to bring her home. But to this the
princess would by no means consent; and it having been suggested by
one of the grooms, who knew the country well, that at the distance of
about half a mile in the wood there was a small chapel dedicated to
Notre-Dame du bon Secours, it was determined that the whole party
should take refuge there, and wait till the storm was over, or till
one of the attendants could procure litters for the ladies from

They accordingly proceeded on their way, under the guidance of the
groom, who alone knew the situation of the chapel; and, skirting round
under the branches of the taller trees, endeavoured to obtain some
shelter as they went from the large drops of rain that, slow and
heavy, but far apart, seemed scarcely so much to fall as to be cast
with violence from the heaven to the earth. The clouds, in the
meantime, came slowly up, seeming to congregate over the forest from
every part of the sky; but still it was some minutes before another
flash of lightning followed the first; and the whole party had reached
the glade in the wood, which the groom assured them led direct to the
chapel, ere a second bright blaze broke across the gloomy air, now
shadowed into a kind of mid-day twilight by the dull, thick, leaden
masses of vapour above. The roar of the thunder followed a few seconds
after; and though it was evident that the storm had not reached that
degree of intensity which it was destined soon to attain, the princess
and her attendants did not neglect the warning, but hastened on as
rapidly as possible, though the long grass, cut merely by the tracks
of wood-carts, and mingled thickly with brambles and many sorts of
weeds, impeded them greatly on their way.

The road--if the glade or opening in the forest could so be
called--led on in that straight line of direct progression, which
seems to have been the original plan of road-making in most countries,
proceeding with a proud disdain of obstacles and difficulties, into
the deepest valleys, and up the sides of the steepest hills, without
one effort by sweep or turn of any kind to avoid either. Thus, a few
minutes after the entrance of the princess's party into the forest,
the groom led the way over the side of a hill, down the steep descent
of which the trunks and arching boughs of the trees might be seen in
long perspective, forming a regular alley, filled with a kind of dim
and misty light. At the end of the descent, however, the trees, in
some degree, broke away to the westward, and a steep hill rose
suddenly before the travellers, which seemed as if, at its original
formation, it had started up so abruptly, as to have shaken a part of
the primeval forest from one of its sides. The other side was clothed
with tall trees to the very top. Over the shoulder of this hill--just
between the part which remained wooded, and the part which, sloping
down to the wood below, lay for the distance of several acres, either
entirely bare or merely covered with scattered brushwood--the road,
now assuming a sandy appearance, climbed straight up to a spot where a
small building with a conical roof was seen, standing out from the
dark wood, at the very top of the rise, and cutting sharp upon a gleam
of yellow light, which--dimmed by the falling shower and fast closing
up under the gathering clouds--still lingered in the western sky.

The sight of the chapel, for so it was, gave fresh vigour to all the
party; and Mary, with her followers, hastened up, and reached the
little shrine before another flash of lightning came. The chapel, as
usual with such buildings in that age, was constructed for the mere
purpose either of affording a temporary refuge to the benighted or
storm-stayed traveller, or of giving the pious and devout an
opportunity of offering up their prayers or thanksgivings for a
favourable journey begun or completed, before an image of the Virgin,
which filled a niche in the far part of the edifice, protected from
profaning hands by a strong grating of iron. Whether the building
itself was kept up by casual donations, or by some small endowment, I
do not know; but, at all events, the funds which supported it were too
small for the maintenance of an officiating priest; and hermits, who
had occasionally supplied the place in former ages, were now becoming
"of the rare birds of the earth," at least in the north of Europe.
Thus the chapel was totally vacant when the princess and her
attendants reached it; and after murmuring a prayer at the shrine,
while one of the grooms was despatched to Tirlemont, to give notice of
Mary's situation, the most courageous of the party who remained placed
themselves at the door of the little building, to watch the progress
of the approaching storm. As no one dreamed of profaning the sanctity
of the place, by making it a shelter for their horses, the grooms
received orders to tie them as strongly as possible under some of the
neighbouring trees; and one was thus secured under a large elm, which
rose a few yards in advance of the chapel.

The commanding situation of the building, being pitched high up on one
of the most elevated hills in the wood, gave a wide view over the
country around, and afforded as beautiful a forest scene as the mind
of man can imagine. First, beyond the little sandy road, by the side
of which the chapel stood, extended, as I have before said, several
acres of broken mountain turf, sloping down with a considerable
descent, and only interrupted here and there by a solitary tree, or a
clump of bushes. Farther on again the eye wandered over many miles of
rich wood-land, clothed in all the splendid hues of autumn, from the
dark shadowy green of the pine to the bright golden yellow of the sear
aspen; and where the ocean of forest ended, it caught the faint blue
lines of a level country beyond.

At the time I speak of, the sky was full of clouds, and the yellow
light which had struggled for a time to keep its place in the heavens
was now totally obscured. Large dull masses, as hard and defined as if
formed of some half-molten metal, rolled slowly along the heavens,
while across them floated far more rapidly some light fleecy vapours
of a whitish grey. From the far extreme of these clouds was seen
pouring in long straight lines the heavy shower, in some places so
dark as totally to obscure everything beyond; but in other spots so
thin and clear, that through the film of rain the eye caught the
prospect of a bright and sunshiny land, over which the clouds had not
yet extended themselves, not unlike the distant view of bright scenes,
which the unequalled hopes of early life still show us through the
tears and storms that at times beset our youth.

Each moment seemed to add something to the gloom of the sky; and
scarcely were the party well housed, when another bright flash,
followed close by the roar of the thunder, passed eagerly over the
scene. The young lady who had fallen from her horse remained close to
the shrine; but Mary of Burgundy, with her arm through that of Alice
of Imbercourt, still stood by the door, looking out upon the prospect
below them. The last flash of lightning, however, was so near, that
Mary's eye caught a small thin line of pale-coloured but excessively
vivid light, which seemed to dart like a fiery serpent between herself
and the near tree, under which one of the horses was tied.

"Alice I will look no more," she said; "that flash was so near it made
me giddy;" and withdrawing her arm, she retired into the farther part
of the chapel, and closed another small door which opened from the
right-hand side of the shrine into the forest behind the building.

"You are not afraid, lady?" said Alice, with a smile.

"No, certainly not afraid," replied Mary; "for I know that He whose
weapon is the lightning, can strike as well in the palace or the tower
as in the open field; but still it is useless to deny that there is
something very awful in the sights and sounds of such a storm as this.
It seems as if one were in the presence, and heard the voice of the

"It is very grand," replied Alice of Imbercourt; "but from my youth I
have been taught to look upon the storm as the finest spectacle in
nature; and I would rather see the lightnings go tilting on their
fiery horses through the sky, and hear the roaring trumpets of the
thunder, than sit in the gayest pavilion that ever was stretched with
hands, to witness the brightest tournament that ever monarch gave."

"You are poetical, Alice," cried the princess; "had old George
Chatelain been here, he would have made fine verses out of that
speech----But, gracious Heaven, what a flash!"

As she spoke, there came, indeed, one of those tremendous flashes of
lightning that literally wrap the whole sky in flame, and, for the
brief space that it endured, lighted up every part of the inside of
the chapel, with a splendour that was painful to the eye. At the same
time Alice, who still stood by the door, saw clearly the brighter
waving line of more intense fire which accompanied the broad flash
dart from a spot nearly above their heads, and streaming downward with
fierce rapidity, strike one of the noblest trees on the edge of the
wood below, and tear it in one moment into atoms. She almost fancied
she could hear the rending groan of the stout oak, as it was shivered
by the bolt of heaven; but nearly in the same instant the thunder
followed, with a sound as if a thousand rocks had been cast on the
roof above their heads; and another and another flash succeeded,
before the report of the first had died away. Then came a momentary
pause--calm, heavy, and silent, without a breath of air to stir the
boughs, or to relieve the sultry oppressiveness of the atmosphere, and
without a sound, save the fall of an occasional drop of rain.

The duration of this state of repose was but brief. The whole air over
the forest seemed surcharged with electricity; and in a moment after,
with a loud whizzing noise, not unlike that of a musket bullet when it
passes near the head, a large ball of fire rushed rapidly by the
chapel, in a line raised not more than a few yards above the ground,
and pitched upon the point of a rock at a little distance below,
where, after quivering and wavering for a moment, it broke into a
thousand fragments with a loud explosion, and vanished entirely. The
lightning and the thunder now succeeded each other so quickly, that
there seemed scarcely an instant's interval; and flash after flash,
roar after roar, continued without intermission, while every now and
then the sight of a tree rent to pieces in the distant prospect marked
the work of the lightning; and the forest, and the rocks, and the
hills echoed and re-echoed the thunder, so that the sound became
absolutely incessant.

This had continued for about half an hour, and still Alice of
Imbercourt had remained gazing out upon the scene, as well as the old
cavalier, who accompanied them as their principal attendant, when she
suddenly exclaimed--"Good God! how extraordinary! There seems to be a
thick cloud gathering upon the edge of the wood, and rolling up the
hill towards us, sweeping the ground as it comes. Holy Virgin! the
lightning is flashing out of it like that from the sky! This is very
terrible, indeed!"

"Come back, Alice, I beseech--I entreat!" exclaimed the princess: "you
may lose your sight or your life--you are tempting your fate."

But Alice did not seem to hear, for she still continued gazing out
from the door, although it was very evident that she now had also
taken alarm.

"Now, gracious God, be merciful unto us!" she exclaimed; "for this is
the most terrible thing I ever saw! It is fast rolling up the hill!"

"Come away, lady, come away," cried the old cavalier, seizing her by
the arm, and leading her from the door; "this is no sight to look
upon;" and he drew her back towards the princess.

Alice once more turned her head to gaze; and then, overcome with what
she saw, she cast herself down upon her knees, throwing her arms
around Mary, as if to protect her from the approaching destruction,
exclaiming: "Oh, my princess! my princess! God protect thee in this
terrible hour!"

Mary's hand was very cold; but, in the moment of great danger she
showed herself more calm and firm than her more daring companion. "God
will protect me," she said, in a soft low voice, "if such be His good
pleasure; and if not, His will be done."

As she spoke, a tremendous flash illuminated the whole of the inside
of the building, accompanied--not followed--by a crash, as if two
worlds had been hurled together in their course through space.

The eyes of every one in the chapel, it is probable, were closed at
that moment, for no one saw the small door by the side of the shrine
thrown open. But the first who looked up was Mary of Burgundy; and a
sudden cry, as she did so, called the attention of all the rest. They
instantly perceived the cause of the princess's surprise and alarm;
for close beside her, in the midst of the chapel, stood a tall
powerful man, habited in the ordinary equipment of a man-at-arms of
that day, with the unusual circumstance, however, of every part of his
garb being of a peculiar shade of green; which colour was also
predominant in the dress of half a dozen others who appeared at the
door by the shrine.

He gave no one time to express their surprise. "Good Heaven!" he
exclaimed, "do you not see the ground lightning coming up the hill!
Fly, fly for your lives; it will be over the chapel in a moment.
Matthew, catch up some of the women. Karl, take that one who has
fainted. Let the men follow me as fast as possible, and we shall soon
be out of the direction it is taking."

So saying, and without farther ceremony, he caught up Alice of
Imbercourt in his powerful arms. One of his companions lifted the
princess, and another raised the form of the young lady who had fallen
from her horse in the morning, and whose terror had now cast her into
a swoon, and, darting through the door by which they had entered, the
Vert Gallant of Hannut and his companions passed out into that part of
the forest which swept up to the back of the chapel. Striking on as
fast as possible towards the east, he took his way over the other edge
of the hill, in a direction opposite to that in which Alice had been
looking. The lightning flashed around them as they went, the thunder
roared loud at every step, and the rain, which had ceased for a time,
began again to drop, at first slowly, but after a few minutes in a
more heavy and continuous shower, which, pattering thick through the
withered leaves of the wood, drenched the unfortunate hawking party to
the skin.

"Thank God for that!" exclaimed the Vert Gallant; "this rain will
drown yon accursed cloud, and we shall get rid of the ground

These were the only words he spoke; but, with rapid steps, he
continued to bear on his fair burden for nearly a quarter of an hour,
with apparently the same ease, and in somewhat of the same position,
that a mother carries her child. Two of his sturdy companions followed
loaded in the same way; and so complete was the helpless terror of the
whole party who had accompanied Mary of Burgundy, that they yielded
themselves passively, and without a word of inquiry, to the guidance
of the green riders; a body of men who acknowledged no law, though a
sort of generous and chivalric spirit amongst themselves seemed, in
some degree, to supply the place of the authority they had cast off.
It is true, indeed, that resistance or question would have been in
vain; for the superior numbers of these free gentlemen of the forest
set at defiance all opposition on the part of the princess's
attendants, and a sort of taciturnity seemed to reign amongst them
which did not at all encourage inquiry.

After proceeding steadily and rapidly for the space of time above
mentioned, over a rough and uneven road, sometimes down the side of a
wooded hill, where no unpractised foot could have kept its hold,
sometimes through deep ravines, which the torrents of rain that were
now falling had converted into water-courses, sometimes over the
trunks of trees that had been felled and shattered by the fire of
heaven, with the lightning flashing round their heads, and the thunder
rolling above them, the Vert Gallant and his companions at length
reached a deep dell, from one side of which rose up a steep and rocky
bank, forming the base of the hill which they had just descended.

At the height of a few yards above the bottom of the valley, which was
itself marshy and filled with long flags and rushes, was the mouth of
a low-browed cave, to which the Vert Gallant immediately directed his
steps. He was obliged to bow his head to enter; but within, it became
more lofty; and, though it did not run above nine or ten yards into
the mountain, the cavity afforded a complete shelter from the storm
and rain. The moment he had entered, the leader of the free companions
gently freed Alice from his arms; and then, in a low and respectful
voice, he said--"You will here, fair ladies, find some security. Keep
as far as you can from the mouth of the cave, and there is little fear
of any danger. You, sirs," he continued, in a sterner tone, turning to
the male followers of the princess, "should have known better than to
have placed this lady--who, if I judge right, must be an object of no
small solicitude to every subject of the House of Burgundy--in the
most exposed and dangerous situation of the whole forest."

"Good-faith, Sir Green Knight," said the old gentleman who had
accompanied the princess, "we certainly did not know that it was so
dangerous, or we should neither have placed her in it, nor ourselves,
as you may well suppose. And now, sir," he continued, with a voice the
slight tremulousness of whose tone showed that he was not without some
apprehensions of another kind; "and now, sir, that you have the lady
in your power, be she princess or not, I trust that you will deal
fairly and honourably with her. Our purses are, of course, at your
disposal, as well as our jewels, &c.; but I give you notice that--"

"Pshaw!" exclaimed the Vert Gallant, the beaver of whose helmet was
still down, "talk not to me of purses, sir, and jewels! Madam," he
continued, turning to the princess, "suffer not, I beseech you, the
vain and vulgar fears of this old man to affect you for a moment: the
Vert Gallant of Hannut takes no purses from wandering travellers, nor
draws the sword against ladies, far less against the Princess of
Burgundy. Rest here in safety, with your fair companions," he added,
turning slightly towards Alice of Imbercourt; "and we, who have
brought you hither, and have been your unseen attendants ever since
you were flying your hawks by the side of the river, will guard you as
well, or better, than if you were in your father's palace."

"I owe you many thanks, sir," replied Mary; "more, indeed, than I can
at present express; for this dreadful storm has left my ideas somewhat
confused. However, I am satisfied that to your prompt assistance I
stand indebted for my life."

"Perhaps, madam, you do," replied the Vert Gallant; "for I feel
convinced that, had that cloud reached the chapel before you quitted
it, the coronet of Burgundy would be now without an heiress. Think me
not ungenerous, madam," he added, "if I ask a boon in return. It is
this: that if, some day, I should need your voice to support a
petition with your father, or if you should, at the time, hold the
reins of government yourself, when I may have occasion to make a
request before the chair of Burgundy, you will give me your influence
in the one case, or grant my desire in the other."

There was something in the tone and in the manner of the speaker at
once so gentle and so lofty, that Mary of Burgundy could not but think
that his present adventurous life must be one more of necessity than
of choice; and she doubted not, that the petition to which he alluded
must be for pardon for his past offences. She gazed at him for a
moment or two before she replied, as he stood towering above the seven
or eight strong men who accompanied him, and who had now grouped
themselves round the mouth of the cave, watching, as it appeared,
every word of their leader's mouth with a sort of reverential

"If it be wrong, sir," she replied, "for simple individuals to make
rash promises, it is still more so for princes. But where gratitude,
such as I owe you, is concerned, even prudence might seem ungenerous.
I must qualify, however, in some degree, the promise you desire, and
say, that if your request, when it is made, prove nothing contrary to
my own honour or dignity, I will give it all my influence with my
father, should it depend upon him; or grant it myself, should it
depend upon me. Does that satisfy you?"

"Most fully, madam," replied the Vert Gallant; "and I return you deep
thanks for your kind assent."

"I doubt not," said Mary, "that what you have to ask will be far less
than a compensation for the service you have rendered me. However,
accept this jewel," she added, taking a ring from her finger and
giving it to him, "as a testimony of the promise I have made; and with
it let me add, many thanks for your honourable courtesy."

The leader of the free companions received the ring with due
acknowledgments; and after a few words more upon the same subject, he
bowed low, as if to take his leave, and made a step towards the mouth
of the cavern.

"You are not, surely, going to expose yourself to such a storm as
this," exclaimed Alice of Imbercourt, with a degree of eagerness that
made her mistress smile, and declare afterwards, when, in a place of
security, they could look upon the dangers of the forest as a matter
of amusement--that Alice had certainly been smitten with the
distinction which the Vert Gallant had shown her, in carrying her in
his own arms through the wood, although he knew that a princess was

"The storm is abating, lady," replied the freebooter; "and besides, we
fear no weather. I myself go to give notice to those who can receive
you as you should be received, that such a noble party require better
shelter and entertainment than we poor adventurers can afford you. My
men, though they must keep out of sight, will be near enough to yield
you protection and assistance, on one blast of a horn. Horns are
strange magical things in this wood," he added; "for though all the
hunters in the world might go blowing their mots, from one end of the
forest to the other, without seeing aught but boar or deer, I will
soon show you that we can conjure up beasts of another kind."

So saying, he approached the mouth of the cavern, and wound his horn
with a long, shrill, peculiar blast; when, in a moment after, from the
opposite part of the wood, a man, bearing the appearance of a mounted
squire, trotted rapidly forth, leading a strong black charger, which
he at once brought up to the mouth of the cave. A few words whispered
by the Vert Gallant to the men who had accompanied him hitherto,
caused them instantly to quit the place where they had taken refuge;
and, dispersing themselves over the side of the hill, the whole were
in a few minutes lost to the sight amongst the trees and bushes. Their
leader, once more, bowed low to the princess, sprang upon his horse,
dashed rapidly down the rough and uneven side of the hill, plunged
through the marsh that lined the bottom of the valley, and, in a
moment after, was seen followed by his squire, winding in and out
through the tall trees on the opposite slope, till the turn of the
hill hid him from view.

They were the eyes of Alice of Imbercourt which thus followed him on
his course; for the princess had seated herself on a mass of rock in
the farther end of the cave; and her other young attendant, stupified
with all the terrors and dangers she had gone through, though now
recovered from her swoon, continued sitting in silence on the ground,
where the soldier who had carried her had set her down, and still kept
her hands clasped over her eyes, as if every moment would show her
some horrible sight.

The storm had, nevertheless, abated considerably already. The rain, it
is true, continued to pour down in torrents, and an occasional flash
of lightning still broke across the sky; but it was dim, as if half
extinguished by the deluge through which it glared. The thunder
followed, too, at a longer interval; and each succeeding flash was at
a greater and a greater lapse of time from the one that preceded it.

Thus about an hour and a half passed away, during which the different
members of the falconing party amused themselves as they best might;
the groom talking with the falconers about the gallant horses they had
tied at the top of the hill, lamenting the fright and drenching they
must have been exposed to, and expressing some apprehension that the
good gentleman in green, who had hurried them away so fast from the
chapel, might take advantage of their absence to carry off their good
horses, the worst of which, he declared, was worth fifty golden crowns
of Florence at the lowest computation. The falconers, on the other
hand, who had taken care to bring away their birds with them, busied
themselves actively in providing for the comfort of their hawks; and
each administered to the falcon under his special charge a small ball
of choice medicaments, extracted from a pouch that every one carried
by his side, in order to guard the stomachs of those noble fowls from
any evil as a consequence of the storm.

The old gentleman, who might be considered--what we should call in the
present day--the chaperon of the party, stood by the side of the
princess, and addressed to her, from time to time, with sweet
unmeaning smiles and courtly language, a variety of easy flowing
sentences, very pleasant and harmonious, but signifying nothing.
Alice, on her part, generally remained silent and thoughtful, though
seemingly a little agitated, and perhaps, not displeased, at the
probability of revisiting the castle of Hannut. Sometimes she would
sit at the side of the princess, and talk to her, with all the light
gaiety of her character; but at others, she would fall into long
pauses of deep and silent thought; or would stand at the mouth of the
cave, and watch the diminishing rain and the storm as it passed away.
Every minute it decreased in some degree; and even the poor girl who
had fallen from her horse, and who was clearly the most timid of the
whole party, began to look up, and to venture an occasional word to
those around her.

At length, when the day was somewhat far advanced, a low whistle was
heard at a considerable distance, was taken up by some one nearer, and
then repeated from more than twenty places in the wood, till at last
it sounded close by the cave. All then relapsed into profound silence;
but at the end of about ten minutes more, a distant trampling sound
was heard; and, on looking forth from the mouth of the cave, Alice
perceived, winding up from the extreme of the valley, a gay cavalcade,
consisting of a couple of horse litters, escorted by about twenty
spearmen on horseback, bearing the colours of the Lord of Hannut.


The sight of the approaching party was very acceptable to every one of
the persons in the cave, who were not a little tired of their
situation, after having waited for nearly two hours, watching the
dying away of a thunder-storm, which, even then, left no better
prospect than that the hard leaden clouds which had poured forth the
lightning would soften into the showery haze of an unsettled autumn

The troop, however, seemed to approach but slowly; every now and then
pausing and looking round the valley, as if doubtful of the exact
place to which their steps should be directed. At length, Alice took
an impatient step out into the shower, and was followed by one of the
falconers; who soon attracted the notice of the horsemen by one of the
long and peculiar whoops practised in his vocation. The moment after,
a young cavalier, habited in the furs and embroideries which
designated a man of noble rank in the county of Flanders, dashed
forward from the rest; and the next instant Hugh de Mortmar was by the
side of his fair Alice.

A few words of explanation sufficed. A strange horseman, he said, whom
the warder described as bearing the appearance of one of the free
companions who infested the country, had given notice at the barbacan
of the castle, that the Princess Mary and her train were storm-stayed
in that valley which in the forest bore the name of "The Valley of the
Marsh;" and that, of course, he had instantly set out to render
service and assistance.

The young gentleman then, with deep respect, tendered his aid to the
princess. Mary and her attendants were soon placed in the litters, or
mounted on the spare horses; and, as it was too late to think of
returning to Tirlemont, the whole party wound onward towards the
castle of Hannut. At the earnest request of the chief groom, however,
as the road by the chapel was not longer than that by which the young
noble had come, it was preferred in returning to the castle, in order
to relieve the horses which had been left tied in the neighbourhood;
and, choosing a longer but easier ascent than that which had been trod
so rapidly by the Vert Gallant some hours before, the princess was
soon once more on the spot from which she had been carried in the

The scene that she there beheld was not a little awful. Three of the
walls of the chapel, indeed, remained, but that was all; and the
time-dried wood-work which had supported the tall conical roof, now
lay on what had once been the floor, still blackened and smouldering,
though the fire which had been kindled by the lightning was well nigh
extinguished by the subsequent rain. The chapel itself, however,
though it showed how terrible her own fate might have been, was not,
perhaps, the most fearful object that the spot presented. The tall,
majestic tree which had stood alone, a few yards in advance of the
building, was rent to the very ground; and, amidst the shivered boughs
and the yellow leaves with which they were covered, lay motionless the
beautiful horse that had been tied there, with its strong and
energetic limbs, but a few hours before full of wild life and noble
fire, now cold and stiff; the wide expansive nostril, small and
collapsed, the clear eye, dim and leaden, and the proud head cast
powerless down the bank. There are few things show so substantially
the mighty and awful power of death as to see a noble horse killed by
some sudden accident. The moment before, it stands at the sublimest
point of animal existence--as if the living principle were yielded to
it in a greater share than to any other thing--and the next it is
shapeless carrion.

"Alas, the poor horse!" cried Mary, when her eyes fell upon the
gallant beast lying stretched out beneath the tree: "alas, the poor
horse!" But, running along the chain of association, her mind speedily
reverted to herself, and the fate she had so narrowly escaped; and,
closing her eyes, while the litter was borne on, she spent a few
moments in thankful prayer.

The other horses, which had been tied at a little distance to the east
of the chapel, appeared to have broken their bridles from fear, and
escaped. The trees under which they had been fastened remained
uninjured by the storm, but no trace could be discovered of the
animals themselves.

After the lapse of a few minutes spent in the search, the cavalcade
moved on at a quicker pace; and Mary of Burgundy soon observed, with a
smile, that Hugh de Mortmar, though often at the side of the litter in
which she herself was placed, offering all those formal attentions
which her rank and station required, was still more frequently in the
neighbourhood of the one which followed, and which contained her fair
attendant, Alice, alone. The young waiting-woman, who shared the
princess's conveyance, remarked the particular attentions of the young
lord also, and commented on it with some acerbity; but her jealous
anger was soon repressed by Mary's sweet smile; and ere long the whole
cavalcade wound through the barbacan and the manifold gates of the
castle of Hannut.

The retainers of the lord of the mansion, drawn up in the court-yards,
received the heiress of Burgundy and Flanders with feudal reverence;
and the old lord himself waited bareheaded to hand her from the
vehicle which had conveyed her thither. She was instantly conducted to
the apartments which Alice of Imbercourt had inhabited during her
stay; and a part of the wardrobe which the fair girl had left behind,
in the hope of a speedy return, now served to replace the damp
garments of the princess.

On returning from the chamber where she had made this change of dress
to the little sitting-room or bower--as it was called, in the castles
of the nobility of that time--the princess found that supper had been
laid out for her there, rather than in the hall; but at the same time
she perceived, by the solitary cover which graced the table, while the
Lord of Hannut and Hugh de Mortmar stood by to attend upon her, that
she was to be served with all the formal state and ceremony of a
sovereign princess.

"Nay, nay, my lord," she said, as she remarked the fact; "I must not
suffer all this. While I am here, I must have you consider me as a
wandering demoiselle, whom you have delivered from danger and
distress, and with whose rank or station you are unacquainted. All,
therefore, of noble blood, must sit and partake with me of my supper,
or I partake not myself."

The old Lord of Hannut, well knowing the formal ceremony maintained at
the court of Burgundy, especially during the previous reign, would
fain have remonstrated; but Mary cut him short, laying her hand kindly
and gently on the old man's arm, and saying, in a soft and somewhat
playful tone, "Must Mary of Burgundy command? Well, then, be it so: we
command you, my lord, to forget from this moment that there is any one
beneath your roof but a dear friend of your sweet niece, Alice.
Believe me," she added, more seriously, "that I know no greater
enjoyment than to cast aside the trammels of state, and the cold
weight of ceremony, and let my heart play free. To me, it is like what
you, my lords, must have felt in unbuckling your armour after a long
day's tournament."

Although the politeness of that day was of the stately and rigid kind,
which might have required the Lord of Hannut to press further the
ceremonious respect he had been about to show, he had too much of the
truer politeness of the heart not to yield at once to the princess's
wishes thus expressed. More covers were instantly laid upon the table;
and, assuming easily the station of host, in place of that of feudal
subject, he treated his fair guests during supper with easy courtesy,
mingled, indeed, but not loaded, with respect.

The time passed pleasantly, and many a varied strain of conversation,
regarding all those matters which were interesting in that age, whiled
the minutes insensibly away. The common subjects, indeed, connected
with the state of society as it then existed, arms, and love, and the
hunting-field, the news of the day, and the gossip of the town, were
the first things spoken of, as matters on which all could converse.
But speedily, as each tried the other's powers, and found that there
were less ordinary topics on which they might communicate, the
conversation turned to arts, to letters, and to the human mind. Hugh
de Mortmar, whose travels through many lands had made him acquainted
with things but scantily known even at the luxurious court of
Burgundy, told of the efforts that Italy was then beginning to make to
cast off the darkness which had so long hung over her states,
described many a beautiful object which he had seen in the land of
ancient arts, and rose into enthusiasm as he spoke of Medici, and of
all that his magnificent efforts were likely to restore to Italy.

The newly-discovered art of printing, too, was mentioned and
discussed, and surmises of what it might one time accomplish were
ventured on that occasion which would astonish those who see them only
partly realized even in the present day. But it was, perhaps, one of
the weaknesses of that age to attribute great and mysterious powers to
everything that was new and unusual; and, though clear and
philosophical reasoning guided the Lord of Hannut to some of his
anticipations in regard to printing, a vague degree of superstition,
or perhaps it might better be called mysticism, added not a little. It
was an easy transition from considering what the mind could do, to
consider what the mind of man even then did; and Mary, half fearful of
offending, yet with her curiosity not a little excited, led the
conversation to those dark and mysterious arts, in the study of which
the Lord of Hannut was supposed to pass the greater part of his time.
Upon that branch of what were then called the dark sciences, which
referred to the communication of mortal beings with the spiritual
world, the old lord was profoundly silent; but in the accuracy and
reality of the art by which man was then supposed to read his future
fate, from the bright and mysterious orbs of heaven, he expressed his
most deep and sincere conviction.

"Many a long and weary night, many a deep and anxious thought, have I
given," he said, "to the subject; and, after the study of nearly forty
years--after searching philosophy and Scripture--after consulting the
learned and the wise--I cannot doubt, madam, that the science which
the Chaldee shepherds studied and acquired in the plains of the East
has come down to us, though not in the degree of clear accuracy to
which they had brought it. Our calculations are sometimes slightly
wrong; a day--a month--a year sometimes, too early or too late--but,
on examination, I have always found that the error was in the
imperfection of my own knowledge, not in a deceitful prognostication
of the stars."

The mind of woman is naturally more bent toward superstition than that
of man. Mary of Burgundy had heard her father rave against astrologers
as quacks and impostors, especially whenever their predictions did not
accord with his own designs; but she had heard him also express, on
many an occasion, a desire for their counsel; and even the abuse which
he showered upon them, had shown her how much importance he attached
to their predictions. Her belief, indeed, in their skill was not
untinged with doubt--more, indeed, than was usual in that age--but
nevertheless it was still belief; and the calm and serious assurances
of a man so famous for his wisdom and his skill as the Lord of Hannut,
raised that belief, for the time, to certainty.

"I wish," she replied, with a smile, in answer to what he had last
said, "I wish that I had here noted down the exact day, and hour, and
minute of my birth, that I might ask you, my lord, to give me some
insight into my future fate."

"Were such really your wishes, lady," answered the old nobleman, "your
desire might soon be gratified. Too much interest have I ever felt in
the house of Burgundy, not to obtain every particle of information
necessary to discover exactly, as far as human science can reach, the
destinies and fate of each child of that race."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Mary; "and can you, then, calculate for me, with
any degree of accuracy, the lot that is likely to befal me in life?"
and her eyes, as she spoke, turned with a glance of inquiring interest
towards Alice of Imbercourt, as if for confirmation of her belief in
the old lord's skill.

"I can do more, lady," said the Lord of Hannut: "I can show you a page
where the whole is already written. While you were yet in the cradle,
the interest which every one takes in those who are destined to rule
nations, led me to draw the scheme of your nativity, and to learn
everything concerning your part in the future, which human science
could discover. At the same time, the famous Anthony of Palermo
separately undertook the same task; and, after mature deliberation,
though at the distance of many hundred miles, each sent to the other a
transcript of the result. The difference between our calculations was
so slight as scarcely to merit the name; and I can now place before
your eyes the two combined. I pledge my word to you, that more than
eighteen years have elapsed since those calculations were made; and
from the past, which you cannot doubt, you shall learn to judge of the
future. Do you desire to see it?"

Mary turned somewhat pale, and paused ere she replied; but at length
she answered, "I do; and thank you, sir."

"The book in which that eventful page is written," said the Lord of
Hannut, "must never leave the chamber where it has been so long
preserved; and I can but suffer one person to accompany you to its
perusal. Choose, then, lady! who shall it be?"

"Alice," said the princess, "will you go with me?"

"Willingly, willingly," replied the lively girl, "if my uncle promises
beforehand to call up no spirits to terrify us out of our senses."

"Let me beseech you not to go, madam," exclaimed the old cavalier who
had accompanied them thither: "I never yet did know any one who
attempted to pry into the hidden secrets of fate, who did not bitterly
repent it."

"Madam," said the Lord of Hannut, "follow, I entreat, your own
judgment alone. I urge you not to read or to forbear; yet, as far as
my memory serves me, you may read without much apprehension; for
though you may have many a painful scene yet to go through--as who in
life has not?--still there will be bright days, and many, before the

"I will go, my lord," replied Mary. "Come, Alice, lend me your arm. My
lord, I will follow you."

"Ho, without, there! a light! a light!" exclaimed the Lord of Hannut.
"Pause yet a moment, lady. The sun is down, and the dim and narrow
passages of this building are not to be trod by a stranger without
more light than yon twilight sky will now afford. Bear a torch to the
end of the gallery, Roger," he added, speaking to a tall old man, who
appeared at his summons. "Now, madam, permit me to lead you on."

Thus speaking, he took the hand of the princess reverently in his own,
and led her from the chamber, followed by Alice of Imbercourt. The
next moment, Mary found herself in a long gallery, pierced by many
windows turned to the westward, through which might be seen the fiery
streaks left by the setting sun upon the verge of the stormy sky.
Manifold doors opened opposite to these windows, and between the
apertures the effigies of many a warrior frowned in steel, while the
red glare of the sunset flashed upon the polished armour, as each suit
stood supported by its wooden figure, giving to all the prominent
points a bloody hue, akin to the associations that the sight of those
implements of war called up. At the end of this long corridor was a
wide archway, at which, ere Mary had paced half the length of the
gallery, a figure took its place, bearing a lighted torch; and though
the whole arrangement of the building was, in that age, more common,
and consequently appeared less gloomy, than it would seem at present,
still there was an aspect of solemn grandeur about it, that raised,
and yet saddened, the feelings of Mary of Burgundy, as she advanced in
the firm belief that she was about to see the scheme of her future
life laid open before her eyes.

Passing through the archway, with the torch-bearer preceding them, the
old lord and his two fair companions wound round the greater part of
the building, in order to reach the apartment in which he pursued his
studies, without passing through the common hall; and as they swept
along the dark and narrow passages, with the torch-light flashing on
the rude and mouldered stone, the sense of awe and expectation
increased in the bosom of the princess almost to the height of pain.
Alice, too, felt it, and was profoundly silent; and when at length
they entered the chamber, in which the lonely hours of a long life had
been spent in solitary and mysterious study, she gazed around her with
a glance of curiosity and apprehension, which clearly showed that she
herself had never set her foot within its walls before. The silver
lamp hung lighted from the roof; and the attendant with his torch drew
back to let them pass, carefully avoiding, however, to set his foot
across the threshold.

Mary's heart beat quick; and she now began to ask herself whether she
had any right to unveil that awful future over which the Almighty has
cast so profound a shadow. What was she about to do? To learn her
fate, without the possibility of changing it; to acquire the knowledge
of each event that was to happen, without the power of avoiding or
ruling it as it arose; to mark every danger while yet it lay in the
womb of the future; to foreknow every pang while yet it was far
distant; to sip the cup of agony and fear, drop by drop, long before
fate compelled her to the draught; and to make each day miserable with
the certainty of the morrow's sorrow.

While such thoughts passed through her mind, the old noble took down
one of the large volumes from the cabinet, and unfastening the golden
clasps with which it was bound, he laid it on the desk beneath the
lamp. "Madam," he said, "you wished to know the fate of your future
years; it is now before you. Event by event I have marked the current
of the past, and I have found no error yet in what is there written.
Read, then, if you will, and with full confidence; for as sure as that
we all live, and that we all must die, every turn of your coming
existence is there, written down."

Mary took a step or two towards the book, laid her fair hand upon the
yellow leaves, then paused, and gazed upwards for a moment. "No!" she
exclaimed at length, "no, it is wiser, it is better as it is! Most
merciful was the decree of the Most High, that veiled the future in
uncertainty. Forgive me, God, that I have sought to pry beyond the
limits that thou thyself hast set! No, no! I will not read!" So
saying, she drew hastily back, as if afraid of her own determination,
cast open the door, and quitted the apartment.

The Lord of Hannut followed, in some surprise. "Madam," he said, as he
offered his hand to guide the princess through the passages which the
want of the torch now rendered totally dark, "I will not say you have
done wrong; but you have, I own, surprised me."

"My lord," replied the princess, "I feel that I have done right, and
have not suffered curiosity to triumph over reason. At least," she
added, with a smile, "you can say there is one woman in the world,
who, when the book of destiny was laid open before her, refused to

"It is, indeed, a wonder which may well be noted down," replied the
old nobleman; "but, I believe, we have left another behind who may not
have the same prudence, Alice." He added aloud, "Alice! beware! Close
the door, fair niece," he added, as the young lady followed; and
having seen that it was fastened, he led the way back to the
apartments which the princess was to occupy for the night.

The party they now rejoined were, as may be naturally supposed, full
of curiosity, which, however much restrained by respect, was
sufficiently apparent; and Mary, whose spirits had risen since her
determination had been formed, told them at once, with gay good
humour, that she had been afraid to read; "and therefore," she said,
"I can tell you nothing of the future; for, thank God! I know

"I am happy then, madam," said Hugh de Mortmar, "that I can tell you
something of the present, which may make up for the disappointment;
and what I can tell you is good. A messenger has arrived during your
brief absence, bringing news from Lorraine. My lord your father is, as
you doubtless know, in the field, and notwithstanding the checks of
Granson and Morat, has an army in better condition than ever. Of all
this you are aware: but now you will be glad to hear that Regnier of
Lorraine, and all his Switzers, have fled before the Duke, across the
Moselle; that Dieulewart, Pont a Mouchon, and Pont, have surrendered
to Burgundy; and that the general of the enemy has left his army, and
retired to Germany."

Such tidings in regard to the present banished the thoughts of the
future, which the preceding events had called up; and the messenger,
being summoned to the presence of the princess, repeated the joyful
news he had brought, in a more circumstantial manner; and added the
still more important information, in Mary's eyes, that her father was
in good health, and had totally shaken off the lethargy of grief into
which the defeat at Morat had thrown him for many weeks.

Thus passed the evening of the princess's stay in the castle of
Hannut; and early the next morning, escorted by Hugh de Mortmar and a
large body of armed retainers, as well as a party of her own
attendants, who had arrived from Tirlemont, she passed through the
forest, and proceeded on the visitation which she was making to
various cities in the county of Flanders.

In each and all she was received with loud and joyful acclamations;
for as both Philip of Commines and good John Molinet observed of their
countrymen, the Flemings, they always adored the heirs of the county
till they were invested with real authority: but from the moment they
succeeded to the sovereignty, they became objects of as much
detestation and abuse, as they before were of love and applause. Thus,
as she progressed through the land, Mary fondly fancied that the
Flemings had been a people greatly traduced, and believed that their
hearts and best wishes would surely follow a mild and just government.
That such, under all circumstances and in every time, should be the
character of her own sway, she firmly resolved; and she returned to
Ghent, convinced that peace, good will, and union of purpose, would
ever reign between her and the honest commons of Flanders.


We must make our narrative of the events which took place in Ghent
precede the arrival of the princess in that city by a few days, as her
return did not take place till the evening of the 10th of January,
1477; and it may be necessary to mark particularly some circumstances
which occurred on the 8th of that month: premising, however, that the
local government had been left in the hands of the Lord of Imbercourt
during her absence.

The scene to which we wish to introduce the reader, is a small dark
chamber in one of the largest mercantile houses in Ghent, but far
removed from the warehouse or the shop, and fitted up with a degree of
luxury and elegance only known in Europe, at that time, amongst the
great Flemish or Venetian merchants. The walls were hung with rich
tapestry; carpets of the same fabric covered the floor. Silver lamps
and small round mirrors, then one of the most costly articles of
furniture, hung around; and in short, the whole interior of the room
presented an aspect of wealth and comfort not to be exceeded by
anything of modern days.

At the time I speak of, however, various circumstances combined to
show that the apartment was the abode of sorrow. Only one of the lamps
was lighted. The cloak and bonnet of a citizen of the time were cast
recklessly on the ground, near the door. A small dagger lay upon the
table; and, in a seat before it, with his eyes buried in his hands,
and his body shaken with convulsive sobs, sat the little druggist,
Ganay, displaying that sort of dejected disarray of dress, and
careless fall of the limbs, which denotes so strongly that despair has
mastered the citadel of hope in the human heart.

From time to time, the sighs and groans which struggled from his bosom
gave way to momentary exclamations: sometimes loud and fierce,
sometimes muttered and low. "He was my son," he would exclaim,
"ay, notwithstanding all, he was my son! He had robbed me, it is
true--taken my gold--resisted my authority--scoffed at my rebuke--but
still my blood poured through his veins:--and to die such a death--by
the common hangman!--like a dog!--to hang over the gate of the city,
for the ravens to eat him, like the carrion of a horse!" and once
more, he gave way to tears and groans.

Then again he would exclaim--"The fiends! the incarnate fiends! to
slaughter my poor boy like a wolf: to refuse prayers, entreaties,
gold! Can they be fathers? Out upon them, cold-hearted tigers! he has
done no more than many a man has done. What though the woman was
wronged? what though her brother was slain in the affray? Do not these
proud nobles do worse every day? Besides, she should have had gold,
oceans of gold; but now I will have revenge--deep, bitter, insatiable
revenge!" and he shook his thin bony hand in the air, while the fire
of hell itself seemed gleaming from the bottom of his small dark eyes.

At that moment there was a noise heard without; and the voices of two
persons in some degree of contention, as if the one strove to prevent
the other from entering, sounded along the passage.

"Out of my way!" cried the one, in a harsh, sharp, grating tone; "I
tell you, boy, I must enter; I have business with your master. I enter
everywhere, at all times and seasons."

"But don't you know, sir, what has happened?" cried the other voice;
"my master is in great affliction, and bade us deny sight of him to
every one."

"I know all about it, much better than you do, lad," replied the
first. "Out of my way, I say, or I will knock your head against the

The little druggist had started up at the first sounds; and, after
gazing upon the door for a moment, with the fierce intensity of the
tiger watching his victim before the spring, he seemed to recognise
the voice of the speaker who sought to force his way in; and,
snatching the dagger hastily from the table, he placed it in his
bosom, wiped away the marks of tears from his eyes, and then cast
himself back again in his seat.

Almost at the same moment the door opened, and Maillotin du Bac, the
Prevot of the Duke of Burgundy, appeared, together with a lad, who
seemed to be a serving boy of the druggist's. The Prevot was habited
in a different manner, on the present occasion, from that in which we
have before depicted him. He was no longer either clad in arms, as he
had appeared at the castle of Hannut, or wrapped in bandages, as he
had shown himself before the council. His dress was now a rich and
costly suit of fine cloth, splendidly embroidered, together with a
bonnet of the same colour, in which, as was then very customary
amongst the nobles, he wore the brush of a fox, slightly drooping on
one side, as it may sometimes be seen in the cap of the successful
hunter of the present day. Over his more gaudy apparel, however, he
had cast a long black cloak, bordered with sable, which he probably
used, in general, on occasions of mourning.

"This person will have entrance," said the youth who accompanied him,
addressing the little druggist, "notwithstanding all I can do to
prevent him."

"Hinder him not," replied Ganay; "but shut the door, and get thee

The boy readily obeyed the order he received; and Maillotin du Bac,
advancing into the room, saluted the druggist with some degree of
formal courtesy, not unmixed with that solemnity of aspect wherewith
men do reverence to griefs they personally feel but little.

"Health and better cheer to you, Master Ganay!" he said, taking a seat
close by the druggist; "health and better cheer to you! This is a sad
business, indeed, and I wish to talk over it with you."

The druggist eyed him for a moment or two in bitter silence, while his
heavy eyebrows were drawn together till they met, and almost concealed
the small piercing eyes beneath.

"You are kind, Sir Prevot," he said, in a sneering tone; "you are
mighty kind; but let me tell you, that were it not that I hear there
has been something strange--I know not whether to say friendly--in the
conduct that you have pursued through all that is gone, I would soon
show you how a man deserves to be treated, who forces himself upon a
father on the day of his son's death."

"Why now, Master Ganay, I can bear with you a great deal," replied the
Prevot; "and therefore say what you will, I shall not be offended: but
you very well know, that I would not myself, nor would I suffer any of
my men to have anything to do with this bad business, either in regard
to the arrest or the execution."

"Murder! call it murder!" cried the druggist, grasping the arm of his
chair, with a convulsive motion of his hand.

"Well, murder be it," replied the Prevot; "though they say they did it
all by law. But, however, I did not choose to have anything to do with
it; not alone from considering the right or wrong of the matter, but
because I had a regard for yourself, and that there are two or three
little feelings in common between us."

"Ay, indeed!" cried the druggist; "and what may they be?"

Maillotin du Bac laid his large, strong, bony hand upon the arm of the
druggist, and fixing his keen hawk-like eyes upon his face,
replied--"First and foremost--hatred to Imbercourt."

"Ha!" exclaimed the druggist, almost starting from his seat; "how knew
you that I hated him?--at least, before this last dark deed?"

"Because," replied Maillotin du Bac, "some ten years ago, when the
people of Ghent were pressing boldly round the duke, and shouting for
their privileges, I saw this Imbercourt give a contemptuous buffet to
a man who had caught him by the robe. Do you remember such a thing?
The man was a rich druggist of Ghent; and in his first fury he got a
knife half way out of his bosom--not unlike that which lies in your
own, Master Ganay; but a moment after he put it up again, as he saw
the duke's horsemen riding down; and, with a smooth face and pleasant
smile, said to the man who had struck him, 'We shall meet again, fair

"Ay, and we have met again: but how? but how?" cried the druggist,
grasping the arm of the Prevot tight as he spoke; "how have we met
again? Not as it should have been--for vengeance on the insolent
oppressor: no; but to go upon my knees before him, to humble myself to
the very dust, to drop my tears at his feet, to beseech him to spare
my child's life."

"And he spurned you away from him, of course?" replied Maillotin du
Bac, eagerly.

"No, no," answered the druggist; "no, no, he did not spurn me, but he
did worse; he pretended to pity me. He declared that what I asked was
not in his power, that he had not pronounced the sentence, that it was
the eschevins of the city, and that he had no right nor authority to
reverse the judgment. Oh! that I should have been the cursed idiot to
have humbled myself before him--to be pitied, to be commiserated by
him whose buffet was still burning on my cheek--to be called, poor
man! unhappy father!--to be prayed to take some wine, as if I had not
the wherewithal to buy it for myself. Out upon them all! Eternal
curses light upon their heads, and sink them all to hell!" and as he
spoke, the unhappy man gave way to one of those fearful fits of wrath
which had divided his moments during the whole of that day, with grief
as bitter and unavailing.

Maillotin du Bac let the first gust of passion have its way, with that
sort of calm indifferent management of the other's grief which showed
how familiar his ruthless office had rendered him with every
expression of human misery and despair. "Ay," he said, after the
tempest had in some degree passed, "it was just like him; a cold
calculating person enough he is, and was, and always will be! Much
should I like to hear, though, how it happened that he had no power to
grant pardon. Did not the princess give him full authority when he

"He said not! he said not!" cried the druggist, eagerly; "and if he
lied, with a father's tears dewing his feet, a father's agony before
his eyes, he has purchased a place for himself as deep as Judas in the
fiery abyss--if there be such a place, at least, as monks would have
as believe: would it were true, for his sake!"

"But why did you not pray him," demanded the Prevot, "to stay the
execution till the return of the princess herself? She would have
granted you an easy pardon, and your boy's life might have been

"I did, I did," replied the unhappy father; "I did pray--I did beseech
for a day--for an hour; but he would not listen to me. He said that
the circumstances of the case would not justify such an action; that
the proofs were clear and undoubted; that he--he, my poor luckless
boy--had committed an offence heinous in the eyes of God and man; that
he had outraged a defenceless woman, and slain a fellow-creature to
escape from the punishment of the crime he had committed! Oh! may the
time come, that he himself may plead for mercy to ears as deaf and
inexorable! Mark me, Sir Prevot, mark me! men say lightly that they
would give a right hand for some trifling nothing that they covet in
this world: some rare jewel, or some painted hood, or some prancing
horse; but I would lay down both these old hands, and bid the hangman
strike them off, aye, with a smile, for but one hour of sweet

"If such be the case--" replied Maillotin du Bac, in his usual
common-place tone.

"If such be the case?" exclaimed the other, starting up with a new and
violent passion: "if such be the case? I tell thee it is, man! Why
came you here? What do you want with me? Beware how you urge a
desperate man! What seek you? What offer you? Do you come to give me
revenge? If me no ifs, Sir Prevot; come you to give revenge?"

"I do!" replied the Prevot, who had been waiting till the other had
run out his hasty exclamations; "I do, Master Ganay, if you can
recover your cool tranquillity, and argue some difficult points with
me, not forgetting the calm policy with which, I have heard, that you
can bend some of your young and inexperienced comrades to your
purpose. But recollect yourself--but be determined, collected, and
shrewd, and you shall have revenge----As I am a living man!" he added,
seeing the druggist's eyes fix upon him with a look of stern inquiry.

"Then I am calm!" answered the old man; "as calm as the dead. I seek
but that one thing--revenge! Thou sayest true, Sir Prevot; I have been
moved, far too much moved. I, who am wont to stir the minds of others,
while I keep my own as tranquil as a still lake, I should not have
yielded to such mad despair, but should only have thought how I might
repay the mighty debts I owe to some below the moon. Pardon me, and
forget what you have seen; but you have never lost a child: you have
never seen your only one given to the butchers. But I am calm, as I
said, quite calm; and I will be calmer still. Ho, boy! without there!"
and rising from the table, he threw open the door, and rang a small
silver hand bell which stood beside him, in answer to the tones of
which, the boy who had before presented himself, re-appeared.

"Bring me," said the druggist, "that small box of the precious juice
of the Thebaid, which the Venetian merchants sent me, so pure and
unadulterated. Let us be silent till it comes," he added, speaking to
the Prevot; "it will soon quiet all but the settled purpose. I marvel
that I thought not of its virtues before."

The boy returned speedily, bringing a small box of sanders wood, in
which, wrapped in innumerable covers, to preserve its virtues, was a
quantity of pure opium, from the mass of which the druggist pinched
off a small portion, and swallowed it, much to the surprise of
Maillotin du Bac, who held all drugs in sovereign abhorrence. However
violent might be his passions, Ganay, by the influence of a powerful
mind, had acquired such complete command over them, in all ordinary
circumstances, that seldom, if ever, had they cast off his control in
the course of life. On the present occasion, indeed, despair and
mental agony had conquered all for a time; but, even before he had
swallowed the opium, he had recovered his rule; and, speedily, as that
great narcotic began to exercise its soothing influence upon the
irritated fibres of his corporeal frame, the mind acquired still
greater ascendency, and he felt no little shame and contempt for
himself, on account of the weak burst of frenzied violence to which he
had given way in the presence of the Prevot.

He was too politic, however, when he had regained his self-command, to
show that he did contemn the feelings to which he had given way; and
he at once prepared to play with Maillotin du Bac the same shrewd and
artificial part which he had laid down as the general rule of his
behaviour towards mankind.

The two were fairly matched; for the Prevot was one of those, in whom,
a sort of natural instinct, as well as the continual habit of
observation, leads to the clear perception of other men's motives,
especially where they strive to conceal themselves amongst the dark
and tortuous paths of policy. He was, certainly, sometimes wrong in
his calculations, but was not often so; and, in the present instance,
by placing himself exactly in the situation of the druggist, and
conceiving what would have been his own feelings under such
circumstances, with a little allowance for the difference of
character, he arrived at a very correct conclusion, in regard to the
designs and the wishes of his companion, as well as to the obstacles
which might impede them from acting together.

One great difficulty, indeed, would have lain in his way on almost any
other occasion; for so accustomed was he both to see others attempt to
deceive him, and to deceive others himself in return, that he could
scarcely deal straight-forwardly with any one. As he was now perfectly
sincere, however, in his desire of aiding the druggist's revenge, or
rather of accomplishing his own through that of Ganay, he could afford
to be candid on the present occasion. All that obstructed their
cordial co-operation arose in those doubts and fears of each other,
which all villains, however bold, must naturally feel on leaguing
themselves together for an evil purpose; and such doubts and fears
were undoubtedly felt strongly by the Prevot and his companion.

Nevertheless, these difficulties were to be got over. The jealousies
and suspicions were soon very frankly avowed; for as each--though with
certain modifications--considered cunning or shrewdness as the height
of human wisdom, and, consequently, of human virtue, vanity itself
naturally taught them to display rather than to conceal the prudent
circumspection, with which they guarded against any danger from each

We cannot here detail the whole conversation that ensued; but, in the
first instance, the druggist made himself master of all the
circumstances which acted as incentives to revenge, in the mind of
Maillotin du Bac, against the Lord of Imbercourt, before he committed
himself further. By many a keen question, he induced him to unveil,
step by step, the manner in which, through many years, that nobleman
had thwarted his designs, and incurred his displeasure; how he had cut
him off from reward and honour, where he had striven for it by
dishonourable means; how he had defended the innocent against his
persecution; how he had sternly overturned many of his best laid
schemes, and exposed some of his most subtle contrivances, from a
period long before, up to the day on which his testimony had freed
Albert Maurice from the effects of the Prevot's vindictive hatred. Had
there been one defect in the chain--had not the motive for vengeance
been clear and evident--the doubts of the druggist might have remained
unshaken, and he might have conceived that Maillotin du Bac had
visited him as a spy, with the design of betraying the schemes of
vengeance which his incautious indignation might breathe, to the ears
of those who had refused mercy to his child. But the Prevot,
appreciating and revering his suspicions, recapitulated every event
with cool, bitter exactness, and dwelt upon the various circumstances
with a precision that showed how deeply they were impressed upon his
memory. He added, too, a slight glimpse of interested motives, by
showing how Imbercourt had stood in the way of his advancement, and
how he might be profited in his own office if that nobleman were
removed, by any means, from the councils of Burgundy.

The impression thus left upon the mind of the burgher--and it was a
correct one--was, that there was a long store of treasured hatred in
the mind of the Prevot towards this statesman, Imbercourt, aggravated
by thwarted ambition and avarice; and that he had reached that point
at which he was ready to run considerable risks for the gratification
of his vengeance and the promotion of his interest. As to any moral
sentiment standing in the way, it was an objection which neither the
Prevot nor the druggist ever dreamed of. Those were ties from which
each felt that the other was free, and therefore they were never taken
into consideration.

After a long conversation had brought them to this mutual state of
good understanding, and after the druggist had pretty plainly pointed
out that, before proceeding with any of the deeper and more intricate
schemes, which might place the life of each in the power of the other,
he should expect that the Prevot would join with him in some act
which, though less dangerous, would give him a hold upon that officer,
that at present he did not possess, he went on with the calmness of
intense but subdued feelings.

"By the sentence of the eschevins," he said, in a low, quiet tone,
which was, perhaps, more impressive than even his former bursts of
passion; "by the sentence of the eschevins, Sir Prevot, the body--you
understand me--the body is to hang in chains over the Ypres gate, till
such time as it is consumed by the wind, and the rain, and the foul
birds of prey; will it not be sweet for a father's eyes to behold such
a sight every time that he rides forth from his own house?"

"Why, truly no, Master Ganay," replied Maillotin du Bac: "good faith,
you must take some other road."

"Ay; but would it not be a matter of triumph, rather than shame,"
asked the druggist, "if I could ride through that gate, and find the
body gone? In a word, would it not be proud to show these paltry
tyrants that even now they cannot work _all_ their will? What! do you
not understand me yet? I would have my son's head laid in the calm
ground, man: I would have the body of the thing I loved removed from
the place of horror and of shame. What say you? can it be done?"

"I understand you now," answered the Prevot: "let me but think a
moment, Master Ganay: let me but think a moment. It can be done--ay,
it can be done: but I should think it mattered little to one of your
firm mind. The body will rot as soon in the holiest ground that ever
priest or bishop blest, as in the wide unholy air."

"Do I not know that?" demanded Ganay, with a curling lip. "Think you
that I ever dream of angels or devils, or all the absurd fancies that
monks and priestly quacks have built up, on the wild vision of an
hereafter? No, no! but I would fain disappoint the tyrants, and teach
them that they cannot do all. I would fain, too, remove the memento of
my house's shame from before the eyes of my fellow-citizens. Can it be
done, I say?"

"It can--it can!" replied Maillotin du Bac; "and, to please you, it
shall be done. Hie you away straight to the churchyard of the Minnims,
with some one you can trust bearing pickaxe and shovel. Use my name,
and the porter will soon let you in. Wait there till I come, and busy
the man you take with you in digging a trench. Be quick: for it will
take long. I go upon _my_ errand, and will be there in about two
hours. After this, Master Ganay, I think we may trust each other. So
we will meet again to-morrow night, at this hour; and, if I mistake
not, we will soon find means to crush the viper that has stung us

The druggist replied not a word, but wrung the hand that the Prevot
had given him hard in his own, and suffered him to depart.

It were needless to trace further the proceedings of that night, or to
give any more detailed explanations in regard to the events just
mentioned, than to say, that early the following morning a party of
children and women assembled before the Ypres gate, to gaze--with that
fondness for strange and fearful sights which often characterizes that
age and that sex--upon the body of young Karl Ganay, the rich
druggist's son, who, after a short course of wild profligacy and vice,
had been hanged for murder the day before. However much they might
expect to have their wonder excited, it was so in a greater degree,
though in a different manner from that which they anticipated. There,
on the projecting beam from which the unhappy young man had been
suspended, hung, indeed, the rope which had terminated his existence,
and the chains which marked the additional turpitude of his offence;
but the body itself was no longer there; and the tidings of what had
occurred soon spread through the city.

Strict search was immediately instituted. The eschevins, and other
officers appointed by the Duke of Burgundy, were furious at their
authority being set at nought, and both held out threats and offered
rewards for the discovery of the body. But it was all in vain: and
while some of the more malevolent--remembering the course of young
Ganay's life, and into the hands of what Being it had appeared likely
to cast him in the end--accounted for the disappearance of his body,
by supposing that the great enemy of mankind had carried it off as his
due, others, more charitable, but not less superstitious, chose to
believe that the father, by some drugs only known to himself, had
found means to resuscitate his son, and had sent him away to some
distant land, where his crimes and their punishment were equally

This version of the affair, indeed, obtained by far the most numerous
body of supporters; and the tale, swollen and disfigured by tradition,
is still to be heard at the firesides of the citizens of Ghent.


Other matters of more general interest occurred soon after the events
we have narrated in the last chapter, and imperatively called the
attention of the citizens of Ghent from the unhappy druggist and his
son. Strange rumours of a battle fought and lost beneath the walls of
Nancy, circulated in the good town during the evening of the ninth of
January. No one, however, could trace them to their source. No
messenger had arrived in the city from the army of the Duke of
Burgundy; and the wise and prudent amongst the citizens, after a few
inquiries concerning the authority on which these reports rested,
rejected them as false and malicious.

They were borne, however, in the evening, by Maillotin du Bac, to the
ears of the druggist Ganay; and the chance of such an event was
eagerly canvassed between them, as well as the course of action to be
pursued in case the tidings should prove true; which, as they
calculated all the probabilities, and suffered their wishes in some
degree to lead their judgments, they gradually persuaded themselves
was even more than likely.

Long and anxious were their deliberations; and it was verging fast
towards the hour of three in the morning when the Prevot left the
dwelling of the rich merchant. It was a clear, frosty night, with the
bright small stars twinkling in thousands through a sky from which
every drop of vapour and moisture seemed frozen away by the intense
cold. The world was all asleep; and the sound of a footfall in the
vacant streets was enough to make even the journeyer himself start at
the noise his step produced, so still and silent was the whole scene.
The sinking moon, though she still silvered over with her beams the
frost-work on the high roofs of the various buildings, and poured a
flood of mellow splendour down the long streets that led to the
westward, cast the broad shadows of the principal buildings completely
over all the other parts of the town, leaving no light but that which
was diffused through the whole air by the general brightness of the
sky, and its glistening reflection from the thin film of ice upon the

There is always something sublime and touching in the aspect of a
large city sleeping calmly in the moonlight of a clear quiet night,
with all its congregated thousands reposing beneath the good
providence of God. But the mind of Maillotin du Bac had reached that
point of obduracy at which the sweetest or the most solemn, the most
refreshing or the most awful of the pages in Nature's great monitory
book are equally unheeded. Wrapping his cloak round him, to guard
against the cold, he walked on, close to the houses, and turned into
the first small narrow alley that he found, in order that no watchful
eye, if such existed, might trace him from the house of the druggist.
Thence, again deviating into one of those lateral streets that lead
along by the side of the principal ones, he continued his course over
the stones, rendered black and slippery by the intense frost.

All was still. Not a sound fell upon the ear, except every now and
then the distant crowing of a cock heard through the clear air from
the country beyond the walls. After a little, however, as the Prevot
walked on, he caught the tramp of a horse's feet sounding afar off,
and, in a few minutes, the challenge of the sentries at the Alost
gate, the clang of the portcullis, the fall of the drawbridge, a brief
murmured conversation at the gate, and then again the sound of the
horse's feet advancing at the slow pace which the state of the
pavement rendered necessary, down the principal street. All this he
heard clearly and distinctly; for the sound must have been small,
indeed, which, in the calm still winter air of the night, did not
reach his practised ear.

He was now too far from the house of the druggist for his appearance
in the streets, even at that late hour, to lead to any suspicion of
their connexion, especially as his official duties were always a fair
excuse for conduct that in other men might have led to doubt and
question. At the same time the very habits of his life gave him a
propensity to investigate every occurrence, however slight, so that
the sound of some one entering the city, at such an hour of the night,
instantly attracted his attention, and his curiosity at once led him
to take a short cut into the street down which the horseman was
riding. It was one of those which, running nearly east and west, was
still illumined by the pale light of the moon; and the eye of
Maillotin du Bac, which never forgot the form that it had once rested
upon, instantly perceived and recognised an armed cavalier riding
towards him, whom he had known as a boon companion in the army of the
Duke of Burgundy.

His resolution was instantly taken to accost him; and, stepping out of
the shadow, as the cavalier approached, he exclaimed, "Why, how now?
What news, Paul Verdun? How long have you left the camp?"

"Who the devil art thou?" was the first reply of the cavalier, who
appeared to have drank more wine than was beneficial to his faculties
of perception; "Who the devil art thou? What! Master Prevot? Give you
good day; give you good day--night, that is to say--or day it may be,
too; for, by my faith, it is after cock-crow. What, going your rounds?
Ever watchful, Master Prevot, eh? What news of the good city?"

"Nothing stirring, nothing stirring," replied Maillotin du Bac; "no
news at all, except that the eschevins hanged a man yesterday, without
my help. But what news of the camp, I say; and how came you from it?"

"Ay, there is the mischief," said the soldier.

"What! no new defeat?" interrupted Maillotin du Bac, his wish, very
likely, being father to the thought.

"Defeat! No, no; no defeat, man!" answered the soldier; "never were we
better. A glorious army, posted strongly, the town almost reduced by
famine, and nothing but a handful of raw Switzers come to relieve it.
There will be a battle before many days are over; and Duke Charles
will cut up the churls like mincemeat. But the mischief is, that I
should be sent away before it is fought."

"So, then, there has been no battle after all," exclaimed the Prevot.
"Well, God send it a good issue, when it does come. Good night, good
friend, I must on upon my way."

"Good night! good night!" replied the soldier; "faith, I must on my
way, too; for I have letters from the duke, and from the Count de
Chimay, for my good Lord of Imbercourt, and, somehow, I met with
three good companions at Alost, who wasted my time over their cursed
pottle-pots. Good night, good night," and so saying, he rode on.

"Ha!" said the Prevot to himself, as he walked towards his own
dwelling; "so, that scheme is all vain, and we must try the other,
though it will be both difficult and dangerous to get any one to give
him the dose. I had rather that it had been something public, too, if
it had but been to wring his pride."

Thus muttering as he went, the Prevot now trod his way homeward. The
soldier and his war-horse were admitted into the court of the Lord of
Imbercourt's hotel. The streets of Ghent resumed their solitude and
silence; and the night between the ninth and tenth of January ended in

No small activity was observable, however, the next morning in the
precincts of the court. By seven o'clock the Lord of Imbercourt was on
horseback, and proceeding towards the palace, at which Margaret
Duchess of Burgundy, and sister to Edward IV. of England, had arrived
the day before. The Princess Mary, too, was expected from the side of
Bruges. But, nevertheless, two messengers were sent off, at different
times, in that direction; and it was supposed that they bore her the
intelligence of an approaching battle, and recommended her immediate
return to the city.

The news which had been brought by Paul Verdun, and the certainty
that, at the time of his departure from the Burgundian camp, no battle
had been fought, spread rapidly amongst the citizens, and was received
by every different individual with different feelings, as he was well
or ill affected to the reigning family. The certainty, however, that
an immediate struggle was about to take place between Charles the Bold
and his determined and hitherto successful adversaries, the Swiss, of
course kept the minds of the people of the city in a state of
agitation and excitement; a state the most detrimental, morally and
physically, that it is possible to conceive for any town or any
people. Business was neglected, if not suspended; political gossipings
supplied the room of activity and industry; anxiety, suspicion, and
irritation took the place of calm labour and tranquil enjoyment; the
slightest piece of news, whether false or true, was sought and
received as a boon; the wildest tale found some to believe it; and a
small lie, by the industrious augmentation of many, soon swelled into
a mountain of falsehood.

Towards evening the Princess Mary arrived at the palace; and while the
good people of Ghent proceeded to distort amongst themselves the news
of her return in every different way that suited their fancies--some
saying that she had come back with only a single squire, some that she
had brought with her a force of a thousand men-at-arms--that fair girl
herself, after dismounting in the court-yard, together with exactly
the same train which had accompanied her during the whole course of
her progress, ran lightly up the wide flight of steps which conducted
to the apartments of her amiable step-dame, and in a moment after was
in the arms of Margaret of York.

"Bless thee, my sweet child! bless thee!" said the fair Englishwoman,
pressing her husband's daughter to her bosom; "thou art come to
comfort me; for I am very sad, and my heart is full of forebodings."

"Nay, nay, madam, never fear," replied the princess; "you are sad and
anxious because you know my lord and father is likely to risk a
battle, and I, of course, am anxious too; but still we must not
despond. Remember, madam, how often he has fought and conquered."

"It is not for the battle that I fear," replied Margaret of York; "my
early days, and my early recollections, have been, and are, of nothing
but stricken fields, and battles lost and won; and the tidings of
approaching strife would give me no apprehensions, did not those who
are on the spot breathe doubts and suspicions which have sadly shaken
my hopes, dear Mary. In a word, with the duke's letters, received last
night, came a despatch to the good Lord of Imbercourt from the Count
de Chimay. He speaks vaguely and doubtingly; but he evidently
apprehends treason, and as evidently points to Campo Basso as the
traitor--your father's most trusted and favourite servant."

"I would fain see the letters," replied the princess: "may I beseech
you, madam, to let the Lord of Imbercourt be sent for?"

The desire of the princess was immediately obeyed; and in a short
time, Imbercourt returned to the palace. His words were few, and
tended merely to express his congratulations on the princess's safe
return, without touching upon the fears which had been more openly
spoken by the Duchess of Burgundy. There was, however, a degree of
settled gloom upon his countenance, and a restless anxiety in his eye,
which showed that his apprehensions were perhaps greater even than her
own. He immediately laid before the Princess Mary the letters which he
had received the night before, and which, as far as positive fact
went, merely stated that the Burgundian army, in great force, lay in a
strong position beneath the walls of Nancy; that a small army of Swiss
and Germans were encamped opposite to them, and that a battle was
likely soon to take place. The duke's letter was short and general;
that of the Count de Chimay was more particular; and Mary read over
both with deep and eager attention.

"There is much matter for fear," she said, as she laid them down, "in
both these despatches. May God defend us, and avert the dangers that

"That there is much to raise apprehension in the letter of Monsieur de
Chimay, I acknowledge, madam," replied the Lord of Imbercourt; "but I
see nothing in that of our noble sovereign the duke which should give
us any alarm."

Mary raised her eyes with a timid glance towards the face of Margaret
of York, as if fearful of causing her pain, or of increasing her
alarm. But the Duchess instantly perceived her hesitation, and
exclaimed: "Speak, speak, dear Mary! let us not have a thought
concealed from each other."

"Well, then," replied Mary, the tears starting in her eyes--"I must
say I see more, far more, cause for apprehension in _this_ letter than
in _this_;" and she laid her hand first upon the letter of her father,
and then upon that of the Count de Chimay. "The one," she proceeded,
"speaks vaguely of traitors to be feared in my father's camp; the
other shows me much cause to fear for my father himself. Oh, my lord!"
she added, laying her left hand upon the arm of Imbercourt, while,
with her right, she pointed to a number of blots and erasures,
sentences begun and not finished, or phrases entirely altered, in the
despatch from her father: "Oh, my lord! do you not see a great
alteration here? The time was when the brief, clear sentences of
Charles of Burgundy, unstudied and rough though they might sometimes
be, proceeded at once to the point, without change or hesitation, and
expressed with force and precision the exact meaning, which was too
distinct in his mind, ever to be doubtful in his words: but look at
that letter, my lord. Did you ever see anything like that from the
hand of the duke before?"

Imbercourt was silent, and gazed upon the paper with a stern and
mournful glance.

"My lord, my lord!" continued Mary, "my father is ill; and, with
Heaven's blessing, I will set out to-morrow to see him and console

"Nay, lady," replied Imbercourt, "you must not forget that you are
left here by our sovereign lord, as his representative in Flanders;
and indeed you must not quit your post. Before you could arrive, too,
a battle will have been fought. I will yet trust that the noble duke
will win it gloriously; and you know him too well to doubt," he added,
with a faint smile, "that a battle won will do more to console him
than the sweetest voice that ever whispered comfort in the ear of

"I do indeed, I do indeed!" replied Mary; but no smile accompanied her
words; for that truth had been often felt too bitterly during the
course of her past life. "I do indeed; but yet the only thing that can
detain me here while my father, ill at ease, and shaken both in body
and mind, lies in his weary leaguer before Nancy, is the doubt which
is the superior duty: to join him there, or to remain in the situation
in which he has placed me."

"Nay, nay, Mary," said Margaret of York; "your duty binds you to stay
here, and mine calls me hence. You can trust my lore both for your
father and yourself; and, as soon as may be, I will join him, though
haply my coming unbidden may call on me some harsh words, as when last
I saw him at Dijon."

"Bear with him, dear lady! oh, bear with him!" exclaimed Mary. "It is
but the haste of an impatient spirit chafed by unwonted reverses. He
knows the worth of your love too well to chide with any bitterness.
But hark!" she proceeded, "what noise is that in the court? For God's
sake, my Lord of Imbercourt, look out and see! for since I took upon
me the sad task of holding the reins, which require a far stronger
hand than mine, I have met with so many sorrows and misfortunes, that
every sound alarms me. Hark! there are many people speaking." In
obedience to her command, Imbercourt approached the casement which
opened above the lesser court of the palace, and, throwing back a part
of the lattice, he looked out upon what was passing below. The first
object that his eyes fell upon was the form of the old Lord of
Neufchatel, in the act of dismounting from his horse by the aid of two
stout attendants, whose dusty armour and jaded horses evinced that
they, like their master, had travelled far and fast. The old nobleman
himself, however, displayed strong traces of battle as well as
wayfaring. His helmet was off, and its place supplied by a small
furred cap, from underneath which, a mingled mass of bandages and long
gray hair, dabbled with dust and blood, made its appearance; while his
left arm, supported in a torn and soiled scarf, showed that the fight
had been severe ere he left it.

Imbercourt at once guessed the event which he had come to communicate,
well knowing that an aged and wounded cavalier would not have been
chosen as the messenger of victory, and while, with slow and painful
efforts, the old lord dismounted, the counsellor withdrew from the
window, doubting whether he should meet him on the stairs, and delay
the tidings that he bore, till Mary was more prepared to receive them,
or whether he should suffer him to see the princess, and let the shock
pass over at once. His course, however, was determined by Mary
herself, who marked the conflict in his mind by the changing
expression of his countenance.

"What is it, my lord?" she exclaimed; "speak boldly! Are they again in

"Who, madam?--the men of Ghent?" demanded Imbercourt. "Oh! no, no!
nothing of the kind. It is apparently a wounded officer bearing news
from the army; and I fear----"

Mary waved her hand: "Bid him hither!--quick!" she cried. "Suspense is
worse than any tidings. Quick, my lord! Bid him hither, without pause
of idle ceremony."

Imbercourt withdrew to obey; and while Mary gazed with eager eyes upon
the door, Margaret of York fixed her glance with melancholy interest
on her fair step-daughter, more anxious for Mary of Burgundy--in whom
she had found as much affection as she could have expected from a
child of her own bosom--than even for a husband, who had never greatly
sought her love, and who had neglected her as soon as he found that
she was destined to be childless. But a short time elapsed between the
Lord of Imbercourt's departure and his return; but moments of
apprehension would weigh down many long days of joy; and to Mary of
Burgundy his absence seemed interminable. At length, however, he came,
followed slowly by the old Lord of Neufchatel, unable, from wounds,
and weariness, and exhaustion, to walk without the support of several

Even anxiety conquered not the gentleness of Mary's heart; and though
she began by exclaiming, as he entered, "Well, my lord, speak!" she
instantly paused, and continued, "Good Heaven! you are sadly wounded,
sir. Bring forward that chair; send for the chirurgeon of the
household. Sit you down, my Lord of Neufchatel. How fare you now?"

"Better than many a better man, madam," replied the old knight, more
full of the disastrous tidings he bore, than even of his corporeal
sufferings; "many a one lies cold that could fill the saddle
now-a-days fax better than old Thibalt of Neufchatel."

"Good God! then, what are your tidings?" cried Mary, clasping her
hands. "My father?--speak, sir!--my father?"

"Is well, I hope, lady," answered the old soldier; "but as for his

"Stop, stop!" exclaimed the princess; "first, thank God for that! But
are you sure, my lord, that he is safe?"

"Nay, nay, I cannot vouch it, lady," he replied; "his army, however,
is no more. Fatal, most fatal, has been the duke's determination. All
is lost in the field. The army of Burgundy is, as I have said, no
more; and where the duke is, I cannot say, though I saw him galloping
towards the left when I quitted the field, which was not amongst the
first. Ah! had he but taken my advice," he added, with a rueful shake
of the head; a slight touch of natural vanity obtruding itself, even
then, in the midst of sincere grief of mind, and pain, and exhaustion
of body: "Ah! had he but taken my advice, and not that of either the
black traitor, Campo Basso, or of Chimay, and such boys as that! But,
lady, I am faint and weary, for I have ridden harder to bear you these
news, though they be sad ones, and to bid you prepare all sorts of
reinforcements to check the enemy, than ever I thought to ride from a
field of battle."

"But tell me, my lord," said Margaret of York, stepping forward, as
Mary, overwhelmed with the tidings, sat gazing mournfully in the face
of the old soldier, while her mind was afar; "but tell me, my lord,
how all this has happened. Speak, for I have a right to hear; and my
ear, alas! has been, from the cradle, too much accustomed to the
details of battle and bloodshed, for my cheek to blanch or my heart to
fail. Say, how went this luckless day?"

"Faith, good madam, I must be short with my tale," replied the Lord of
Neufchatel, "for I know not how, but my breath fails me.--My lord the
duke--God send him safe to Ghent! had sworn by all the saints, that no
house of stone should ever cover his head till he had slept in Nancy,
which, as you know, we had besieged some days. The enemy, in the
meanwhile, lay over the water a league or two beyond St. Nicholas, and
day by day increased in number, while day by day the forces of the
duke fell off; for we had famine and disease, and--worse than
all--traitors in the camp. But his Grace would not be warned, though
many a one strove to warn him; and at length, on the Sunday morning,
just five days since, the Swiss and Lorrainers, with their German and
French allies and Italian traitors, marched boldly up towards our
camp. Faith! it was a fair sight to see them come in two great bodies;
one by the river, and the other by the high road from Neufville.
Churls though they were, they made a gallant array. So then they came
on. But, madam," he added, rising and supporting himself by the back
of the chair, "I love not to think of it! Good sooth, it makes my
heart swell too much to tell the whole just now. We were soon hand to
hand: the artillery roaring, bolts and arrows and balls flying, the
trumpets braying, and the men-at-arms charging gallantly. But still,
as I looked round, I saw the ranks of Burgundy wax thin; and still the
Swiss churls pushed on; and I beheld many a stout soldier fall, and
many that had fought well turn his back. Well, as I was thinking what
might best be done, my lord the duke rode up; and, speaking softly as
a woman, he said--'My good old friend, I pray you join De Lalaing,
and, with your men-at-arms, make one good charge upon the flank of
yonder boors.' It was soon done and over. We went down like the shot
of a mangonel, but we were driven back like the same shot when it
bounds off from a wall of stone. One churl shivered my helmet, and
nearly split my skull with his two-handed sword. Another shot me in
the arm with his hand-gun. All my poor fellows but two or three died
around me bravely; and they who were left took my horse by the bridle,
and were carrying me off, when, by our Lady! I saw one of the base
Italians who had betrayed us all, despatching my poor Squire Walter as
he lay tumbled from his horse upon a little mound. He had served with
me in nine stricken fields, and many a chance affray; he had never
quitted me for well nigh twenty years, so I could not quit him then.
No, lady, no! but shaking the bridle from their hands that would have
stayed me, I turned me round, and struck one more good stroke for
Burgundy. But the poor lad was dead! God have his soul--the poor lad
was dead!" and as he spoke, the old knight dashed the tear from his
eye with the back of his brown hand.

"Little is there more to tell, madam," he proceeded, after a moment's
pause. "By this time the battle had changed to a flight and a pursuit.
There were not ten men who held together on the field. Shame to him
who turns his back while one hope lasts; but no shame to him who flies
from a lost field. I saw the duke galloping to the left; and as I knew
the country well, I spurred for the bridge of La Buissiere, and sad it
was to see the road all strewed with dead and dying. But when I came
near the bridge, the matter was still worse, for there was that foul
traitor, Campo Basso,[4] with a barricade of carts and wagons, cutting
off the fugitives from his betrayed master's host. When I looked
forward, there were the Italian devils--when I looked behind, down
were coming the German swine. On the one hand was the hill, with the
Swiss pikes gleaming over the top, and on the other was the river. The
water afforded the only chance; so in we plunged. Our horses were
strong and unwounded, and we struggled through, though many a gallant
gentleman sunk close before our eyes. But, lady," he added, once more,
as the excitement of detailing the battle passed away, "I am growing
faint again, and in good sooth I have little more to tell; therefore,
by your Grace's leave, I will retire."

Mary answered not a word, but gazed upon the old man with the same
fixed painful glance; but the duchess bowed her head, and the Lord of
Neufchatel, with the aid of his two attendants, moved towards the

Before he reached it, however, he paused, and turning round
exclaimed--"Faith! I had forgot the very errand which made me make
such haste; for I have travelled with scarcely an hour's rest, in
order to bid you take instant measures to secure the country, for that
wild young wolf of Lorraine will be upon the frontier speedily; and
even as I passed by Brussels I heard strange tales of movements in
France. You, my Lord of Imbercourt, look to it with all speed; for,
believe me, not an hour is to be lost."

Thus saying, he turned and left the chamber, while Imbercourt advanced
to the princess, and besought her to be comforted. She answered
nothing, however; and only by a melancholy wave of the hand, expressed
how deep were her apprehensions.

"Nay, Mary, my sweet child," said the duchess, "give not way to
despair: remember, there is a God of mercy above us, who sees all, and
rules all, for the best."

Mary of Burgundy cast her fair arms round her stepmother, and
exclaiming, "My father! oh, my father!" burst into a passionate flood
of tears.

"Leave us, my Lord of Imbercourt," said the duchess. "Let me beseech
you to take all the measures necessary for our security; and send out
messengers to gain more intelligence of this sad defeat. Call those
whom you can best trust to council; and, for God's sake, suffer not
your mind to be overcome at the moment that all its energies are most

Imbercourt bowed and withdrew: but there were circumstances in the
situation of the country which rendered it impossible for him to act
or think with that calm tranquillity which he had displayed at other
times. A deep and heavy gloom fell over him from the first moment that
the loss of the fatal battle of Nancy met his ear; and he never seemed
wholly to recover his former energies.

He took care, however, to summon to the side of the princess, in her
hour of need, all those who, he thought, might give consolation and
support. Messengers were instantly despatched to the Lord of
Ravestein, the Duke of Cleves, the Bishop of Liege, and several
others, whose relationship to the house of Burgundy afforded the best
security for their taking an interest in its fate; and Imbercourt
endeavoured, as far as possible, to increase the military force within
the town of Ghent, without exciting the watchful jealousy of the
inhabitants; but the country was totally drained of men, and few, if
any, could be added at a short notice to the force within the town--at
least, few of those feudal troops on which alone reliance could be

In the meanwhile, during the evening and the early part of the night
which followed the arrival of the Lord of Neufchatel, post after post
came in from the side of Alost and Brussels, bringing new details and
rumours of the battle; and each additional fact proved it to have been
more disastrous and bloody than it had appeared at first. Nothing was
heard but long lists of the dead, or exaggerated computations of the
total loss. Still, there was a deep silence in regard to the duke
himself. No one knew what had befallen him in the fight or the
pursuit; and no one ventured to assert, what all internally believed,
that he had fallen upon that bloody plain. The very silence, however,
was ominous; and the whole of the inmates of the ducal dwelling in
Ghent passed the night in that gloomy apprehension, which is perhaps
more racking to the heart than absolute sorrow.

Mary wept her father as dead; but yet she insisted upon hearing the
tidings that every courier brought in, with that anxious eagerness
which showed that a spark of hope, however faint, still remained alive
within her bosom; but with her, and, indeed, with every one else, as
fresh news arrived, as the accounts of the stern determination evinced
by the duke before the battle were multiplied, and as his often
reiterated declaration that he would never quit the field alive, was
repeated, the conviction of his death became more and more complete.

In the meanwhile, the people of the city, collecting in eager and
anxious crowds in the streets, especially towards the Brussels gate,
canvassed in low tones the events that had taken place. As one
horseman after another entered the town, still some individual would
start out to accost him, and running by his side as he rode on, would
gather from him whatever information he would afford, and then return
to tell it to the groups, whose comments on the past were seldom
unconnected with some of those whispered apprehensions for the future,
which, like the low moanings of the rising wind, generally give notice
of a coming storm long before it is ready to fall upon the earth.


It was remarked as an extraordinary fact, that during the whole course
of that evening--an evening of the greatest excitement and anxiety,
perhaps, that Ghent had ever known--not one of the principal and most
influential citizens was seen in the streets of the city. The groups
which collected were altogether of the lower classes; and those
amongst them who were supposed to be the most knowing in the policy of
the higher burghers, could discover no other sign of interest and
agitation on their part, than was afforded by the sight of one of the
serving-men of Albert Maurice calling rapidly at the houses of five or
six of the principal merchants, amongst whom the druggist Ganay was
the first.

Gradually, as the evening closed in, the crowds began to disperse--a
considerable number returning home early, to discuss with their wives
and families the news they had collected in the town, and to acquire
that degree of domestic importance which a budget of strange tidings
is always sure to impart to the bearer. One after another, the
diminishing groups thus separated at length--the wind, which was
intensely cold, though symptoms of a thaw had begun to manifest
themselves, driving even the most persevering to the shelter of their
own homes, as the night advanced--and only one or two idle young men,
who could boast some acquaintance with the soldiers on guard at the
Brussels gate, remained after nine o'clock within the warm refuge of
the guard-house, waiting for any tidings that might still arrive.

The many varied scenes, the continued presence of danger, the frequent
breaking short of ties and affections, have all a natural tendency to
render the heart of an old soldier, in some degree callous and
indifferent to events which agitate and affect younger and
fresher-minded men. It was wonderful to hear with what calm composure
the veterans in the guard-house talked over the events which had
spread grief and dismay through the palace, and excitement and alarm
in the city. Although they all loved and admired the character of
Charles the Bold, for the very lion-hearted qualities which had led
him to attempt impossible enterprises, and to rush upon certain
defeat, yet they canvassed his conduct with calm and somewhat
contemptuous examination, and spoke of his probable death in the same
terms that they might be supposed to use in talking of a hound which
had been gored by the boar.

"Why the devil did he sit down before Nancy, in the middle of winter?"
cried one; "he might have known very well that nobody would stay with
him, looking at stone walls, in a frost like this."

"Ay, ay, but he did worse than that!" replied another: "why did he
trust a set of Italian hirelings, when he had good subjects of his

"Why, old lions," rejoined a third, "will, they say, grow both
suspicious and obstinate."

"Full time, then, that they should get their throats cut," answered
the first: "but I know old Charlie well; and I will bet a flagon of
Beaune to a flask of sour Rhenish, that he never left the field of
Nancy. No, no; he had had enough of running away; and sure I am that
he died like a stag at bay. Well, I am almost sorry that I was not
with him, though a warm guardhouse and a pottle-pot are better, at any
time, in a January night, than the cold ground and a bloody nightcap.
Hie thee over, Bontemps, to the vintner's at the corner, and fill the
flagon with the best thou canst get for that broad piece. By my faith!
we will have a carouse to the old Lion of Burgundy, be he living or
dead, and then we will go sleep. Hie thee over, while I undo the gate,
for there is some one blowing his horn: a new post from Alost,
bringing more news, I warrant."

While one soldier, according to the request of the other, ran across
the street to seek matter for the potations with which they proposed
to conclude the night, his senior proceeded to the gate, where, the
portcullis being raised, and the drawbridge let down, a cavalier
immediately rode in, whom he addressed with--"Ha! Master Prevot; you
can never have gone as far as Alost since you rode out."

"By my faith! I have, though," replied Maillotin du Bac; "look at my
beast--he is steaming like a quagmire with hard riding."

"Well, what news?--what news?" cried the other; "you must have heard
some tidings."

"Nothing new at all," replied the Prevot: "all is stale as a miser's
cheese;--a battle fought and lost; men dead, but not buried; the army
dispersed, and every one gone Heaven knows where. Good night, good
night!" and so saying, he rode on. But it is remarkable, that though
his horse was evidently ready to drop with fatigue, he did not, at
first, take his way towards his own dwelling, but directed his course
towards the house of the little druggist Ganay.

In the meantime the soldiers in the guard-house discussed the contents
of the flagon, with which their messenger returned; sharing it
liberally with the two or three young artisans whom they had
permitted to remain at their post. With what had been drunk before,
the contents of the gallon pot which was now brought over was
sufficient, notwithstanding the fact of its being shared with the
citizens, to obfuscate, in some degree, the intellects of the
soldiery; and, after having given their civil companions a somewhat
unceremonious notice to go home, they cast themselves down upon the
straw which was provided for their accommodation during the night, and
soon forgot everything else, under the influence of the drowsy god.
The sentry without, who had been ordered to watch well, of course felt
a greater inclination to sleep than ordinary, which was increased by
the cold; and, in spite of various vigorous efforts to keep himself
awake, by walking rapidly up and down, dropping the end of his
partizan upon the ground, and several other little experiments of the
same kind, he found himself, from time to time, nodding most
refreshingly under the shelter of the high arch which spanned over the

How long this state of things had continued none of the soldiers knew,
when suddenly the sentry was woke by his weapon being snatched hastily
from his hands; and, on shaking off the slumber which oppressed him,
he found himself pinioned by a number of powerful men, while a stern
voice, backed by a naked sword at his throat, commanded him to be
silent on pain of death. Faithful, in this instance at least to his
duty, without a moment's consideration, the soldier shouted, "To arms!
to arms!" But he was instantly thrown down and tied by those who held
him, while a number of others made their way into the guard-house. The
soldiers there were already upon their feet; and the captain of the
watch was starting forward to light the match of his arquebuse at the
lantern which hung against the wall, when a powerful man, rushing in,
closed with him, and, throwing him violently back, interposed between
him and the light. A dozen more persons, completely armed, poured into
the building; and more than one stern voice commanded the four
soldiers which it contained to lay down their arms at once.

"Who, in the fiend's name, are you, my masters?" exclaimed the captain
of the watch: "let us hear that, before we put down our arms, at all
events:" and while he spoke he made impatient signs to one of his
companions to get out of the small window, and give the alarm: but
this scheme was frustrated by the same tall, powerful figure which had
before prevented him from lighting his match.

"We are the officers of the burgher guard of Ghent," replied the
stranger, "whose incontestible right and privilege it has been, in all
ages, to mount guard on the walls and at the gate of our own city;
which privilege, though it was usurped from us by the Duke Charles, is
no less valid than before that act. Give up your arms, then, quietly,
and no harm shall befall you."

"Before we do that, good sir," answered the captain of the watch, "we
must have authority from our superior officers. As you well know, the
commander for the night is at the Ypres gate; send to him, and we will
obey his commands."

"You seek, sir, to gain time," said the other; "but it is in vain. The
walls and the gates are now in our hands. Our sentinels are mounted
everywhere; and each military post which had been unlawfully placed by
the Duke of Burgundy, throughout the city of Ghent, has been disarmed
before we came hither. Yield, therefore, with a good grace, for yield
you must; and as no blood has been shed already, pity it were to begin

"Well sir! well!" replied the captain of the watch: "you say right in
that, at least; though I should be willing enough to shed blood of my
own, or of other men, could it prove of service. But four can hardly
cope with twenty; therefore, ground your arms, my lads, and give them
up. We are your prisoners, sir."

"You have done wisely, soldier," said Albert Maurice, for he it was
who spoke; "take their arms, my friends, but suffer them to pass
freely out. As our fellow-citizens arrive, let all the posts be
doubled. Now, good Master Ganay," he added in a whisper, "gather
together the men we named, and join me quickly at my house. It wants
but four hours to daybreak; ere the sun rises, we have as much to do
as would take lazy statesmen full many a month. I go round by the
western magazine, to secure, if possible, the stores and artillery.
But be quick, for _now_ despatch is everything."

The purpose of Albert Maurice was accomplished without difficulty. The
magazine was but scantily guarded; and the sleeping soldiers were
surprised at that post as easily as the others had been at the
guard-houses. The gates, the defences, and all the principal military
stations, were now in the hands of the people; and Albert Maurice
hastened home to meet a number of individuals, selected from the most
influential citizens, on whose consent, and with whose aid, he
proposed to assert the ancient privileges of the city of Ghent, as the
first step to those grander plans of general emancipation, which yet
remained but vague and undefined even in his own mind.

So rapid had been the determination and the movements of the young
citizen through all that night, so prompt and successful all his
measures, that even Ganay, stirred up by revenge and hatred, and
guided by consummate cunning and shrewdness, had been left far behind.
Where he had expected to be obliged to urge and suggest, he found
himself at once compelled to follow and obey; and, yielding readily to
a mind that he felt to be far superior, he had been hurried through a
series of actions in a few hours, which he had contemplated before,
indeed, but which he had contemplated as the work of many days, and
long and difficult intrigues.

Between ten at night and three in the morning, the young citizen had
received, from the druggist himself, the certainty of the Duke of
Burgundy's death, which had been obtained by the Prevot; had formed
his determination at once, had arranged his plans with prompt
decision, had assembled the ancient burgher guard in force in his
courtyard; by a few brief and striking words had explained to them his
views and his schemes; had carried all voices in his favour; and,
finally, had seized every military post in the town, except the
palace, without bloodshed, while the regular soldiery had everywhere
been surprised and disarmed.

His last effort upon the magazine, the one of the greatest importance,
had been effected, as sometimes happens, with more ease than attempts
which had seemed less difficult; and, leaving the citizens who had
accompanied him, to guard that post, he hastened home through the
solitary streets, not a little rejoiced to find, by the stillness of
the whole city, that the silence and caution which had been enjoined
in the first instance were still preserved. No one had arrived when he
again crossed the threshold of his own door; and whispering a few
hasty orders to the servant who admitted him, in regard to saddling
horses, and preparing trustworthy messengers, he entered the chamber
where he was about to meet his fellow-citizens; and casting himself
back in a chair, covered his eyes with his hand, and abandoned
himself, for a moment, to deep thought. More than one pang crossed his
heart, as he contemplated the future; but he smothered them instantly;
and, banishing regret, he directed the whole powers of his mind to
consider the best means for obtaining that object for which he had now
irrevocably determined to struggle.

So deep, so intense was the meditation to which he yielded himself,
that Ganay and several others entered the apartment without his
perceiving their presence; and it was only the voice of the druggist,
demanding if he slept, that roused him from his reverie.

"Sleep!" he exclaimed, starting up; "no, no! Who could sleep on such a
night as this? Welcome, my friends, welcome! Each sit down, I pray:
others will soon be here; but it is not fitting that of the few hours
which are given us for action, even one minute should be wasted in
waiting for any man. Some things need long counsel; in others, little
can be risked. Let us choose those first that are most easily
determined. Citizens of Ghent! are you not resolved to recover the
liberties and privileges which have been torn from you by the unholy
hand of power?"

"We are! We are!" replied a number of stern voices around.

"Is it not requisite, then," continued Albert Maurice, "that you
should call your brethren of the other good towns of Flanders and
Brabant to join with and support you, in asserting the rights of all?"

"Beyond all doubt! Let it be done!" was the answer.

"Well, then, by this time," said the young citizen, "four strong
horses stand saddled, ready to set out; and four trustworthy
messengers are prepared to bear to Brussels, Ypres, Bruges, and
Louvain, our request that the worthy burghers of those great towns
will send us deputies to give force to our proceedings. My letters,
written nearly six months ago, when the battle of Morat was lost and
won, have prepared them to do so at a moment's warning. The gates are
now in our own hands; shall the messengers set out?"

"The sooner they depart the better!" replied the rest; and a few
lines, hastily penned to each of the cities, were despatched without
farther delay.

Before all this was completed, a number of other citizens had arrived;
and the chamber was almost full. Everywhere were to be seen men with
faces pale from anxiety and excitement; some armed in hasty guise,
with such armour as could be caught up in a moment; some with their
night gear scarcely laid aside; and each, as he entered, gazing round
upon the rest, with half wild and somewhat fearful glances, as the
light of the lamps dazzled their eyes, on entering from the dark
streets without. Gradually, however, as they beheld a number of
friends and acquaintances all gathered together in the same cause as
themselves, the boldness which men derive from union began to spread
amongst them. Every one present had long before been prepared, in some
degree, for such events as were now taking place; and, while they had
been taught to look to Albert Maurice as the man from whose voice and
conduct the rest of the citizens were likely to take their tone, he
had taken care to ascertain the sentiments of each individual, whom he
now called to consult with him, in a moment of such exigency. He well
knew, indeed, that it is by no means a necessary result, that the
conduct of a large body of men will be regulated by the personal
opinions of each. The shades of thought and character in different men
are so infinite, that, when united, as in multitudes, they produce
combinations which defy previous calculation; and besides that fact,
there is something in the very change of position, from an isolated
station to a place in a large body, which alters the feelings of the
persons themselves. Some, singly bold, are timid in a multitude; and
some, cowardly as individuals, become even rash when supported by

Albert Maurice trusted to himself, however, to give the impress of his
own mind to all the proceedings of the great burghers, and through
them to rule the people also: but he well knew that the task before
him would be to restrain rather than to excite; for seldom, very
seldom, has a country, justly or unjustly, risen against the power
that previously ruled it, without going infinitely farther than those
who stirred it up originally designed.[5]

As soon as he perceived that all whom he had called were present, the
young citizen at once determined to address them, before any one else
could interpose to give a wrong direction to their efforts. "Men of
Ghent," he said, "may I crave your patience for a moment? Certain news
has just been received by our friend and fellow-citizen here present,"
and he pointed to the druggist, "that in this last and fatal battle,
wherein he staked his country's welfare and shed his people's blood in
an unjust quarrel, Charles Duke of Burgundy has paid the forfeit of
his obstinacy and ambition with his life. Now, men of Ghent, who is
there amongst us that does not feel that our rights have been
infringed, our privileges usurped, and our liberties trampled on, by
him, who has gone to give an account of all the wrongs he has so
boldly committed? We all know it, and we all feel it; and there is not
an artisan, however humble, in all Ghent--nay, in all Flanders, that
is not preparing to take arms to vindicate the freedom of our native
land. That freedom, citizens, we may look upon as secure; for never
yet did a whole nation join heart and hand in asserting its liberty,
but it gained its object against all opposition. But, oh! my friends,
let us beware--let us be cautious--let us be wise--let us be just--let
us be merciful. Those who would guide a stirred-up people through a
successful insurrection, must be calm as well as bold, and moderate as
well as zealous. The wild horses of popular excitement must be
governed with a firm and a clear eye, and strong rein, or they will
pass far beyond the golden goal of liberty, and rush into bloodshed,
anarchy, and licence. We take upon ourselves a great and an awful
responsibility; and every drop of unnecessary blood that is shed in
this great effort, will cry loudly to Heaven for vengeance on the head
of the rash men who caused or suffered it to flow. The sway of all
that vast and wealthy land which lately rested in the hand of Charles,
called the Bold, has now descended to a young and gentle lady, who, if
her counsellors be good----"

"We will give her good counsellors!" cried some one beside him; but
Albert Maurice proceeded: "Who, if her counsellors be good, will, at
our petition, not only restore us to our rights and privileges, but
will afford us some security that they shall never be infringed again.
But let us do nothing harshly. Let us proceed mildly and legally,
though firmly; and first petition, as good and faithful subjects, for
the redress of our wrongs, before we proceed to obtain it by our own
right hands. Such moderation, my friends, will gain us the love and
support of all good men--will prevent neighbouring princes from
interfering while we obtain our liberty, and will at once serve best
our cause, and satisfy the conscience of the most scrupulous."

"Methinks, Master Albert Maurice, you have already begun pretty
boldly," said one of the more moderate of the citizens: "I hear that
the gates and walls of the city have already been forcibly taken from
the duke's guard, and the soldiers have been disarmed."

"That, sir, was done," replied Albert Maurice, "solely for our own
security; and had it not been done, our meeting now, or our petitions
hereafter, unsupported by any power of our own, would have been
utterly fruitless. It was done to prevent the princess from being
carried away from us before our liberties were secure; it was done to
prevent the introduction of large forces into this town, before we
were prepared to bid them defiance; and, in doing it, we only asserted
and resumed the immemorial right of the citizens of Ghent to guard
their own walls and gates--a right which had been long unjustly

"It was wisely done! it was nobly done!" cried a number of voices, in
the midst of which Ganay the druggist stepped forward, and said:
"Friends and fellow-citizens! all here present are bearers of high
offices in the several trades, and members of the great commune of
Ghent; but we are meeting without form or order. Let us resolve
ourselves into a council, as a temporary government of the city; and
as president thereof I here propose him whose able conduct, whose
patriotic zeal, and whose prompt activity, has already conducted us,
thus far, with triumphant success."

A murmur of applause followed, which soon rose into a loud and
unanimous assent to the proposal. Nor did Albert Maurice affect to
decline an office which he had previously determined to assume.
His thanks he expressed with manly eloquence, and assured his
fellow-citizens, with the convincing voice of true feeling, that the
liberty and prosperity of his native land should ever be the dearest
wish of his heart, and the principal object of his endeavours.

As soon as this subject was discussed, an old man, one of the fathers
of the city, rose up, and addressed the new president. With a slight
touch of the monitory garrulity of old age--at least, most of those
who heard him thought it such--he offered a word or two of caution to
the young man who had taken upon him so bold and high a part. "He
would not," he said, "urge him, to be more moderate in his views, for
he seemed to feel the necessity of moderation already; but he would
warn him, in the course that was before him--a course, the turns and
circumstances of which, none could yet tell--to beware of his own
heart--to guard against ambition, or revenge, or love: for he was
young and ardent; and that spirit must be either very cold or very
strong, which could resist the influence of some mighty passion, when
under the excitement of great events."

Though Albert Maurice listened with attention, and felt, more deeply
than he suffered to appear, the justice of the good man's speech, yet
there were others who showed some degree of impatience, and evidently
thought it out of season. The old burgher perceived this feeling, and,
breaking off quickly, went on with the more immediate matter before
them. "It is evident, Master Albert Maurice," he said, "that you have
thought over all these events long and deeply before this night; and,
indeed, who is there amongst us who has not so thought? What, then, is
the result of your consideration? What is the first step that you
advise us to take?"

"This," replied Albert Maurice: "to meet to-morrow early, at the
town-house, and there to prepare a petition, at once condoling with
the princess on the events which have placed the government in her
hands, and beseeching her to listen to the voice of her own heart, and
spontaneously to restore to the good towns of Flanders those rights
and privileges of which her father deprived them. Especially, let us
entreat her, in the first instance, to do away with that false and
illegal body of men, which, under her father's jurisdiction, and by
his appointment, administered in this city--not justice, but the
arbitrary will of the prince; and to give us back our true and
legitimate magistrates, chosen by ourselves, from amongst ourselves,
to dispense our own laws to us and to our children."

While the full mellow voice of the young citizen touched thus
pointedly upon those subjects in regard to which the feelings and
passions of the druggist Ganay were so highly excited, the eye of the
unhappy father flashed like a living fire, and a small bright red spot
gathered in the centre of his sallow cheek, while his lip quivered as
if he could scarcely restrain the passion from bursting forth. The
moment that Albert Maurice had done speaking, he started up from his
seat, and exclaimed in a quick, sharp, discordant voice, which
trembled with the very effort that he made to banish from its tones
anything like personal rancour.

"I second the proposal. Are we all agreed?"

"We are," echoed the conclave.

"Now I," continued Ganay, "must offer my proposal, too. Listen to me,
men of Ghent. Our rights are our own--inherent, unchangeable; which
the voice of no despot can wring from us; which his power may hold in
abeyance, but which it can never destroy; which, when even suspended,
still exist in full force, and render everything that is done in
opposition to them unjust, illegal, criminal. I therefore call upon
you solemnly to arraign and to condemn those men, who, chosen from
ourselves by the late despot, Charles, became the instruments of his
tyranny against their own countrymen. The twenty-six men, falsely
calling themselves magistrates of Ghent--appointed, not by the people
of Ghent, according to ancient law and usage, but by the Duke of
Burgundy, contrary to all our inclinations and consent--have, for
nearly ten years, presumed to rule and judge, and doom to punishment,
and shed blood, within the walls of this city; for which, as traitors,
oppressors, and murderers, unjustified in their proceedings by any law
or right, I claim their death, as the just punishment for their
crimes, and a due warning unto others in the time to come."

As he spoke, his whole frame trembled with the angry passion that was
burning at his heart. His words flowed rapidly and clear; and his
face, with the bright dark eyes, flashing from beneath his
heavy-knitted brow, offered the very picture of eloquent revenge.
A murmur of doubtful import spread through his auditory; some
carried away by his passionate oratory, some unwilling to begin
their course with such a sweeping act of severity. Albert Maurice
himself--sympathizing deeply with the feelings of the childless
father, yet resolved, upon every principle of reason and right, to
oppose a proposition which, he well knew, proceeded rather from the
spirit of revenge than a sense of justice--paused between his
contending feelings; when, to the surprise of all, good Martin Fruse
raised up his portly person, and, with one of those bursts of generous
indignation, which sometimes rendered him almost eloquent, opposed
himself strongly to the course suggested by his friend the druggist.

"No, no!" he exclaimed; "no, no! that will never do. Good God! my
fellow-citizens, shall it be hereafter said that the people of Ghent
rose up powerfully in defence of their own liberties, and made their
first act the slaughter of six-and-twenty defenceless men, who had
been acting under the belief that they were justified by the law? If
any one was to blame, it was the Duke Charles, not they; and good
sooth, I doubt, that, at the worst, you could prove they did not
legally hold their posts; for, by my faith, we all consented that the
duke should appoint them, when we thought he was going to hang us all.
A cheap bargain we thought it then, when he was at our gates with ten
thousand men. But even were it not so, and had we not consented,
should we be the first to make widows and orphans in our own city?
Should we shed more Flemish blood, when so much has already flowed to
no purpose? Should we punish men for actions in which they believed
there was no offence? Fie! fie! Take from them their offices; reprove
them for having so far betrayed their country, as to accept the post
they held from one who had no right to give it; and let them go back
to their dwellings to mourn over their fall. What say you, my fair
nephew? Do I judge aright?"

"Most wisely, sir, as far as my poor judgment goes," replied Albert
Maurice. "None would show more rigorous justice towards men who,
perhaps, have been somewhat severe in the discharge of their office,
than I would, but that it is clear that the citizens of Ghent formally
consented to their nomination by the duke, and, therefore, that during
his life, they were acting at least under legal authority."

"But not after his death!" cried Ganay. "Charles Duke of Burgundy,
died on the fifth day of this month; and three days after his death my
child was butchered by men whose only title to authority had ceased.
The cry of blood must and shall be heard; and if it be not--"

Whatever the druggist added, was muttered in so low a tone, that no
one distinguished its import. Albert Maurice, however, saw the
necessity of conciliating him, well knowing the influence he possessed
over the minds of many whose support was absolutely requisite to
success in their undertaking. He now also began to experience how
difficult is the task of binding into one mass a large body of men,
without any power over them but that which is afforded by the
evanescent bubble, popularity. Revenge, ambition, avarice, vanity,
pride, and every other passion common to the sons of man, he knew must
ever be fertile sources of disunion in assemblies where, as in that
over which he presided, each one feels that his individual adhesion is
of too great consequence to the schemes of the rest, for anything to
be refused him, however unreasonable his request. But he had yet to
learn that the enchanter's wand, that stilled the very angry seas
themselves, would wave in vain over the unbridled passions of mankind.

"Master Ganay," replied the young citizen, seeing the impression which
had been made upon a great part of the burghers by the certain fact
that the druggist's son had been condemned and executed after the
duke's death--"the case you mention is one totally distinct from any
of the rest, and must be considered and judged of apart. Doubt not you
shall have full justice done you; and the day after to-morrow we will
assemble in our public hall, and solemnly debate on what course we
must pursue in that respect. In the meanwhile, let us not embarrass
our present consultations with any point on which there may be a
difference of opinion: morning will soon be here. Our proceedings,
then, are thus far determined:--first, to petition the princess for
restoration of our rights: if she grant them, well; but if by evil
counsellors she be persuaded to refuse, then to assert them with our
blood and with our fortunes, till the last man amongst us perish! Am I
right? Well, then," proceeded Albert Maurice, as a ready assent
followed his words, and many of the assembly rose to depart,
"to-morrow, by eight in the morning, let us meet in the town-hall;
and, in the meantime, friends and fellow-counsellors of the good city
of Ghent, have I not your authority to provide for the guarding and
safety of the town?"

"You have! you have!" was the general reply; "and now good night."

One by one the counsellors of the town of Ghent departed from the
apartment of the young citizen. But Ganay, the druggist, lingered
behind the rest. The conversation between him and Albert Maurice was
brief and rapid, but stern and to the point.

"Albert Maurice," said the druggist, "are we still one in purpose?"

"If you so will," replied the young burgher; "but beware that you
bring nothing to divide our councils."

"Nay, rather, you beware that you stand not between the sword of
justice and its victim," rejoined the other; "for, as I live, if you
do, my love for you will become something bitterer than hate; and more
than your ruin--the ruin of your cause, shall follow."

The eye of the young citizen flashed fiercely, as he was thus dared in
the first hour of power. "Mark me!" he said, grasping the arm of his
companion, and bending his majestic head over him, while he fixed his
full stern glance upon the sallow face of the other: "mark me! It is
time that our mutual determination should be spoken; yours has already
found voice, now hearken to mine. For the service you may do to the
cause that I hold dear, I will give a certain way to your revenge. You
see I understand you. But if you take one step beyond that, and show
me that you would rule our efforts for your purposes, I will crush you
or die. Man, you have met with your master! and, though you may have
caused the misery of lordly houses, the star of my destiny is above
your scope!"

As Albert Maurice spoke, the cheek of the druggist turned even paler
than before; and he answered, in a subdued voice, "Ha! indeed! We do,
then, know more of each other that I thought. But this is all vain,"
he added, after a momentary pause; "if you know so much you know, too,
that I love you. But, Albert Maurice, I must--I will have my revenge."

"You shall have justice," replied the young citizen, "and I will not
oppose you; though I think reason, and humanity, and a right
construction of the law, should save the unhappy men at whom you aim.
The day after to-morrow, however, plead your own cause before the
council in the town-hall. I will be absent; and if they judge for you,
I will not interpose by word or deed."

The druggist paused, and thought for a moment. "Be it so," he said, at
length. "They must condemn them: and now for you, Albert Maurice. Mark
_me!_ There are two paths open before you. The one, which you seem
choosing for yourself, leads to a long struggle between the people and
the throne, which, after nicely balancing rights, and weighing
tenderly the thousand grains of dust that constitute all questions of
government and policy, shall end in nothing for the state, and your
own death and ruin. The other, on which I would guide you, conducts,
by a few bold strides, to power, to empire, and to _love!_ You see I
know you, too! Choose for yourself, and let your actions speak the
result. Farewell! I will be ever by your side, to prompt you to your
own advantage, even to the last moment."

Thus speaking, the druggist quitted the apartment, and followed the
rest of the citizens; while Albert Maurice remained in the solitude of
his own chamber, with his eyes fixed still upon the spot where Ganay
had stood.

"To power--to empire--to love!" he repeated, in a low tone "How
dexterously yon man knows to mix the small portion of leaven,
calculated to turn and change the whole heart of him to whom he
speaks. To power--to empire--and to love!" and the young burgher
seated himself slowly, and turned his head towards the shady side of
the room, as if the very light of the lamps looked into his heart, and
disturbed the intense thoughts that were working in the dark chamber
of his bosom.

"No!" he cried, at length, clasping his hands together; "no! not no!
My country, thou shalt be my first object! and if, in serving thee,
without one effort for myself, aught of good befall me personally, I
will receive it, only as a reward for working thy freedom; but never
shall the thought of my individual wishes mingle with my aspirations
for the benefit of my native land. Fiend! how thou hast tempted me!"

He then gave a moment or two to other ideas connected with his
situation at the time; and the first blossom of that full harvest of
regrets, which every man, who sows the Cadmean seeds of civil strife,
is destined to reap in bitterness of heart, rose up in his bosom, as
he thought of the fate of the unhappy men, whom he felt forced to
yield to the revenge of Ganay; or to resign every hope of delivering
his country. It was the first sacrifice of better feeling he had yet
been obliged to make; but the first is ever the augury of many more.
Albert Maurice, indeed, would fain have persuaded himself that it was
not a sacrifice. He strove to prove to his own mind that the men
deserved their fate. He called up instances of their severity--of
their cruelty; and recapitulated to his own heart the specious
sophistry of Ganay; asserting that the act they had committed, however
just had been their sentence on the druggist's son, was illegal from
the previous death of him from whom alone they derived their power. He
reasoned, he argued in vain--his heart was unsatisfied; when a
neighbouring clock, striking the hour of five, made him start from his
seat, and gladly take advantage of its warning voice, to cast away
thoughts that brought regret, in the busy activity of preparing the
city to hold firmly the power it had assumed.


We shall pass over the forenoon of the following day rapidly. The news
of her father's death reached Mary of Burgundy early in the morning;
and though she wept long and bitterly, her grief was now more calm and
tranquil than it had been while uncertainty remained mingled with
sorrow. More agitating tidings, however, had reached the Lord of
Imbercourt and the Chancellor Hugonet, at a still earlier hour: for,
by daybreak, the first rumours of the disarming of the soldiery, and
the seizure of the gates and walls of the city by the burgher guard,
had been communicated to them; and before they could take any measures
in consequence, the painful fact that every post or defence in Ghent
was in the hands of the citizens, had been reported from all quarters.
Respect for the grief of the princess caused them to withhold from
her, for some hours, the knowledge which they themselves possessed of
the state of the city; and it was only when, by means of some other
private agents, they received information that the principal burghers
of the town had assembled in the town-house, and were voting a
petition to the princess, praying a restitution of all those rights
and privileges of which they had been deprived by Duke Charles, that
they found it absolutely necessary to communicate to her, both what
had occurred and what was likely to follow.

The news affected Mary of Burgundy less than they had expected; and,
indeed, proved only a sufficient stimulus to rouse her from the grief
into which she had fallen.

"Fear not, my Lord of Imbercourt," she said, as she saw the
apprehension that overshadowed his countenance; "fear not, I will soon
find means to quiet and satisfy the good people of Ghent. It was only
while the will and ordinances of my father were opposed to my own
inclinations, that I found any difficulty, or entertained any fear, in
regard to the tranquillity of the state."

"I hope, madam, and I trust," replied Imbercourt, "that you may find
it easy; but a stirred-up population is like one of those ravenous
beasts, that seems to acquire a greater appetite by feeding largely. I
trust that the Lords of Ravestein and Cleves, with others to whom I
have despatched messengers, may soon arrive, and in sufficient force
to overawe these insolent burghers; so that you may be obliged to
grant nothing but that which is just and right, and be able to check
concession at the proper point. Hark, lady!" he added, as a distant
shout burst upon his ear, "the unmanly brutes allow you not one day
for sorrow: they are coming even now."

Mary's cheek turned a little pale; but she showed no other sign of
apprehension; and merely replied--"Let them come, my lord! They shall
find it difficult to conquer the love of Mary of Burgundy; for love is
the only arms that I shall oppose to my subjects. Alas! that they
should ever be mine! I beseech you, my good lords, to have the hall of
audience fittingly prepared to receive the people, who seem
approaching fast. Have such guards and attendants drawn up as may give
us some show of state. Alice, my sweet friend, seek out the noble
duchess, and pray her to cast by her grief for a moment; for much do I
need her presence and support in what is about to occur."

The orders of the princess were promptly obeyed. Margaret of York
joined her in a few minutes. The hall of audience was prepared as
speedily as possible; and everything was ready for the reception of
the burghers before they reached the gates of the palace. The
deputation, consisting of about twenty persons, dressed in their
municipal robes, proceeded from the town-house on foot, followed and
surrounded by an immense multitude of the lower orders, shouting
loudly--"Ghent and liberty! Ghent and liberty! Long live the noble
syndics!" They soon arrived at the building called the _Cours du
Prince_; and some surprise, perhaps, was felt by the citizens, on
finding themselves at once admitted to the palace, without any
question, and ushered, through a line of armed guards, to the great
hall of audience. The general impression among them was, that the
counsellors of the princess, possessing a greater armed force than the
townsmen had been aware of, were determined to bring the matter to an
immediate decision; and, perhaps, even to arrest them in the palace,
for the events of the night before. This supposition was rather
increased by the appearance of the hall of audience, which was also
lined with armed attendants; and by the demeanour of Imbercourt,
Hugonet, and other counsellors, who stood with somewhat severe and
frowning countenances on each side of the chair of state, which now
remained vacant, under the rich crimson canopy that had so often
overhung the stern, determined features of Charles the Bold.

As soon as they had entered the chamber, the deputation paused,
uncertain to whom to address themselves. The counsellors neither spoke
nor changed their position; and, for a few moments, there was a dead,
unpleasant silence, which no one chose to break. At that instant,
however, when the dumb confronting of the court and the citizens was
becoming even painful to both, the door by the side of the throne was
thrown open by one of the hussiers or door-keepers, and Mary of
Burgundy, leaning on the arm of Margaret of York, preceded by some of
the officers of the palace, and followed by two or three female
attendants, entered the apartment, and advanced towards the chair.

She ascended the steps on which it was raised, but did not sit down;
and, turning towards the deputation of the burghers, she bowed her
head with a gentle inclination, while the novelty of her situation,
the feeling that she was taking possession of her dead father's
throne, and the difficulty of her circumstances, overcame her firmness
for an instant, and she burst into tears.

Wiping the drops rapidly from her eyes, she made a sign to the
Chancellor Hugonet, who immediately took a step forward, and
said--addressing the deputation of citizens, who still stood at the
further end of the room--"The high and mighty Princess, Mary, Duchess
of Burgundy, Countess of Flanders and Hainault, is ready to receive
any persons on behalf of her good town of Ghent."

There was a slight pause; and then Albert Maurice, as president of the
provisional council, advanced towards the throne, and knelt on one
knee upon the first step. Mary extended her fair hand to him, as he
knelt, and with a flushed cheek and quivering lip, the young burgher
bent his head over it, while something very like a tear glittered in
his eye, too. In his left hand he held a roll of parchment; and,
before he rose, he said--"Madam, I come to lay at your feet a humble
address of condolence, and petition, from your good and faithful
subjects, the citizens of Ghent. Is it your good pleasure that I read

Mary bowed her head; and Albert Maurice, rising from his knee,
unrolled the parchment which he held, and read, in gentle and
respectful tones, the address which had that morning been agreed to in
the town-hall. The terms in which it was couched were as mild and
moderate as the young burgher, by his utmost eloquence, had been able
to procure. The citizens, in the language of grief and respect, spoke
of the high qualities of the late Duke of Burgundy; and touched as
lightly as possible upon those acts of arbitrary power and barbarous
harshness, which had deprived him of that love which the more noble
and generous parts of his character might have obtained from his
subjects. They continued, however, to notice his attacks upon the
liberties of the good towns of Flanders, in terms both severe and
firm; and they petitioned the princess immediately to take into
consideration the consequences which such aggressions had produced,
and to remedy the wrong that had been done by her father.

While Albert Maurice read the petition, the deputation had gradually
advanced, and formed a little semicircle at a few yards distance from
the throne; and when the young citizen had concluded, the princess
immediately replied, addressing herself to all:--

"I did think, my good friends," she said, in a tone rather sad than
reproachful, "that the day on which I first heard the sad news of my
poor father's death, might have been passed in privacy, sanctified to
mourning and to sorrow. I know, however, that communities are little
capable of feeling for the griefs and affections of individuals,
especially when those individuals are their princes; and, therefore,
laying by my sorrow, I come willingly to hear your wants and wishes,
and to assure you all of my firm resolve to do everything I can to
satisfy and to make you happy. In regard to the rights and privileges
of the city of Ghent, far be it from me, now or ever, to inquire why
they were restrained or abridged by your late sovereign lord, my
father; or to renew old griefs and dissensions, by investigating who
was right or wrong in the times past. Me, men of Ghent, you have never
yet offended; you are my fellow-countrymen, therefore I feel for you:
you are my subjects, therefore I love you. At once, then, whether as a
boon, or as a right, whether as your own due, or as a testimony of the
affection of Mary of Burgundy, take, hold, and use wisely, all those
privileges and immunities whatever, which you can prove that you have
possessed at any time within fifty years of the present day. Farther
back let us not inquire, for it would lead us to times when Ghent and
Flanders, under the usurped domination of a man who was raised from
the dregs of the people, by the people's discontent, endured a grosser
and more bloody tyranny than ever they suffered from the most savage
and cruel of their native princes."

"We thankfully accept your Grace's bounty," replied Albert Maurice;
"and, without derogating from our own inherent rights, we willingly
receive your free and generous confirmation of them, as a grace and
benefit conferred; and so humbly take our leave."

"You will confer, my friends," said Mary, "with my chancellor here
present, in regard to all the particulars which you may claim, and
will have them clearly established and defined to the full extent of
the words that I have used."

The deputation were then permitted to kiss the hand of the princess,
and withdrew; and Mary, after giving one hasty glance round the hall
of audience, retired, once more to indulge her grief in her own

With her, and with the Duchess of York, the hours passed in lonely
mourning, only interrupted from time to time by an occasional call to
transact some of the necessary business of the state; or by the
tidings of some event which it was thought indispensable to
communicate. In the streets and lanes of the city, however, the day
went by with all those signs which show an anxious and excited
population. Continual crowds collected in various parts of the town;
now conversing among themselves, now listening to some popular
declaimer. The busy and important were seen hurrying to and fro in
every direction. The song, the fiddle, or the _cornemuse_, were
exchanged for pitiable verses on the pitiable battle of Nancy; and
while one part of the city was overflowing with people, and rang with
the sound of many tongues, another showed streets totally deserted,
the abode of silence and solitude.

At length, towards evening, a strong disposition to riot and tumult
displayed itself. Whispers and rumours, originating no one knew where,
were spread rapidly amongst the crowd, tending strongly to excite them
to outrage. Some said that the council were bringing in large bodies
of soldiers; some that the nobles were arming their attendants, and
intended to repossess themselves of the gates. But the strongest and
most generally credited reports were directed against the eschevins,
or police magistrates of the city, whose very duties of investigation
and punishment rendered them at all times obnoxious to the lower
classes, but who were now hated in a tenfold degree, from the
abrogation of the popular form of election in their last appointment.
In several districts petty tumults actually took place; whoever bore
the appearance of either a noble or a lawyer was insulted as soon as
he appeared; and the burgher guard, which was more than once called
out, with a very natural leaning to the people from which it was
selected, took merely such means of repression as dispersed the crowds
in one spot, only to collect in larger numbers in another.

In the meanwhile, Maillotin du Bac, as Prevot, and the druggist Ganay,
as one of the notables of the town, mingled with the crowds, and
harangued them with the apparent purpose of persuading them to return
peaceably to their houses. The first, indeed, was anything but popular
in the city; and some supposed that he was exposing himself to outrage
by the active part he took; but it was wonderful to see how readily he
assumed the tone and deportment necessary to captivate the people, and
how speedily the multitude forgot his former conduct. It is true that
neither he nor Ganay in their speeches said one word to appease the
current of popular indignation, or to divert it from the point to
which it was tending. They used every sort of common-place argument to
induce the people to return to their own dwellings. They told them
that it would be much better, much safer, much more prudent, to
disperse, and to let things take their course; though they
acknowledged, at the same time, that the eschevins, in the discharge
of their illegal office, had acted cruelly and basely. Nevertheless,
they said, that those instruments of tyranny would doubtless be
brought to justice, if they were not by any means smuggled out of the
city. In short, they did what may always be done: excited the people
in a far greater degree, while they affected to tranquillize them; and
pointed their fury to the very object from which they pretended to
turn it.

The troops which remained in the town, though totally insufficient to
overawe the citizens, or to repossess themselves of the walls and
gates, were numerous enough to hold out, for any length of time, the
palace or Cours du Prince, as it was called, which, according to the
custom of the day, was strongly fortified; and which was, luckily,
fully provisioned. The attention, therefore, of the ministers of the
orphan princess was solely directed to adding temporary defences to
her dwelling, and to repairing any slight defect which time or
oversight had produced, without attempting the vain task of putting
down the turbulent spirit which was manifesting itself in the city. No
hostility, indeed, was evinced by the populace towards the princess or
her attendants; and servants were suffered to go to and from the
palace without the slightest molestation. But still the tidings of
tumultuous movements, in various parts of the town, poured in through
the evening; and, as Mary sat in a high chamber of a tall tower, long
since pulled down, but which then rose above most of the buildings
round, the distant shouts and cries caught her ear, and more than once
made her inquire the cause. Towards nightfall, Imbercourt was summoned
to her presence; and she asked eagerly if there were no means of
pacifying the people.

"None, madam," replied the minister; "without, indeed, you could bribe
some of their demagogues; and that would, of course, be merely hiring
them to create tumults hereafter, whenever they wanted a fresh supply.
I am afraid they must be suffered to have their way for a time. In the
end, the populace will see their own folly, and the base selfishness
of those that mislead them, and will return to quiet and tranquillity
of their own accord. In the meanwhile, thank God, the palace is
secure; so be under no apprehensions, madam, for we could hold it out
for six months, against any force they can bring."

"Oh, I fear not for myself, my lord," replied Mary; "I fear for my
subjects and my friends. I beseech you, my lord, leave not the palace
to-night: they might murder you in your way to your own hotel."

"I do not believe, madam, that they have any ill-will towards me,"
replied Imbercourt: "I have never done them wrong, and have often
stood between them and the anger of their prince. But my duty commands
me to remain here, at least till the town is somewhat more calm; and I
certainly will not quit the palace this night."

So saying, he withdrew; and Mary approached the lattice of the room in
which she had been sitting, and which commanded a somewhat extensive
view over the city; though the objects that were visible were rather
the roofs of buildings and the spires of churches, than the busy
multitudes which she would fain have watched, herself unseen. Every
now and then, however, a glance was to be caught of some of the
manifold canals and squares of Ghent; and Mary threw open the window,
in order, ere the light faded away entirely, to gain a view of any of
the crowds whose shouts she heard. But the effort was vain; and
turning away from the chilling blast of the January wind, she closed
the window, and was returning to her seat, when she found that Alice
of Imbercourt had followed her to the deep arch in which the casement
was situated.

"I wish, dearest lady," said her fair follower, "that you would take
the counsel of a simple girl, which, I have a fond belief, would be
better than that of all these grave signiors."

"Well, my Alice," replied the princess, with a faint smile, "what
would you have me do?"

"May I speak boldly, lady?" demanded Alice.

"Ay, indeed, as boldly as you will," answered Mary, whose heart wanted
some bosom into which to pour its anxieties and sorrows. "But first,
dear friend, send away those two girls, who sit moping by the fire,
sharing my distress, without feeling my grief. Bid the page go light
the lamps in the lower chamber, and tell them to take thither their
embroidery frames, and work diligently, while we two stay here in the
grey twilight, as dim and melancholy as my thoughts."

Her commands were speedily obeyed. "And now, Alice," she said, as the
other returned, "what would you have me do?"

"I would have you despatch a messenger this very night," replied the
young lady, boldly, "to the only person on whose arm and to whose
heart you can rely to defend and guard you in the present strait--I
mean to the Arch--"

"Hush, hush! Not for a universe!" cried Mary "Good Heaven! what would
he deem me? No, Alice, no! you would surely never advise me to such a
step. Fie! fie! mention it not!"

"I knew that you would start away, my dearest mistress," replied
her fair counsellor; "but you must hear me still. What can you do
better? What can you do so well? The circumstances in which you are
placed, the difficulties which surround you, do they not justify such
an act? do they not render it wise and right, instead of indelicate
and bold? The Archduke Maximilian was once plighted to you by your own
father; and if ever two people loved each other--"

"Hush! Alice, I entreat, I command," interrupted the princess. "It
must not, it cannot be. If such be your advice, speak no more: what I
wanted was counsel how to tranquillize these unquiet people of Ghent."

"I had something to say on that score, too," replied Alice of
Imbercourt; "but perchance, my advice will not be more palatable to
you, in regard to that matter, than in regard to the other."

"Nay, nay; be not offended, Alice," answered Mary; "none can judge of
that on which you were speaking, but myself; but, of this business of
Ghent, perhaps any one can judge better."

"Well, then, madam, I will say my say," replied Alice; "and you can
follow my counsel or not, as you think best. You marked the young
burgher, with the furred robe and the gold chain, who read you the
address this morning? You must remember him--as handsome a youth as
ever lady's eye rested on."

"I scarcely saw him," said the princess; "nor should have noticed him
at all, but that I think it was the same who, some three or four
months since, was accused before the council of high treason, and
acquitted himself most nobly."

"The same, exactly the same," replied Alice; "his name is Albert
Maurice, as I hear; and he bears the noblest reputation of any young
citizen of them all. I have heard even my own father declare, that yon
young man has too high a mind, and too noble a spirit, for his class
and station."

"Well, what of him?" demanded the princess; "I fear me that his noble
spirit will work us little good; for, from all I saw to-day, he seems
to lead the disaffected of the city."

"You marked him not as I did, madam," answered Alice: "never mind what
I saw, or what I fancied that I saw. He does lead all parties in the
city, I hear; and I am fain to think, that had it not been for him,
that petition and address, as they call it, would have had a ruder
tone. Lady, that young man is well disposed towards you and yours; and
I believe that he might be easily worked upon to use his great
influence to cure the present madness of the people."

"Indeed, I believe he is well disposed," said Mary; "for, I remember,
by your father's counsel, I had him called back after the trial, and
besought him, in private, to do his best to maintain peace and order
in the city."

"My father's counsel was wise, madam," replied Alice, with a quiet
smile; "and his daughter's is just of the same piece. What I would
have you do now is what my father led you to do then. Send for this
Albert Maurice, and beseech him, fairly and gently, to do his best to
quiet the populace, and to restore tranquillity. Appeal to his
generosity--to his gratitude; show him how frankly you granted the
petition of the citizens this morning; and, take my word, you will
make a convert and a powerful friend."

"With all my heart," exclaimed Mary, at once; "but there is no time to
be lost: hie thee down to thy father, dear Alice; tell him what I have
resolved to do, and bid him send a messenger for the young citizen

"Nay, nay, dear lady," answered Alice, smiling again, "that way will
never do. In the first place, I hear my father is not, just now, the
best beloved in the city, for suffering a young man to be executed who
had committed murder, and was condemned by the eschevins; and, besides
that, I learned from one of my women but now, that he had sent, in his
own name, to this Albert Maurice and another of the citizens, named
Ganay, and that they refused to come."

"Then, most probably, they would refuse me, too," replied the
princess; "and though Mary of Burgundy will do all that she can to
make her people happy, she must not stoop to beg their presence, and
be refused."

"No fear, no fear, madam," said Alice of Imbercourt; "but leave the
matter to me, and I will answer for it, that, ere half an hour be
over, the young citizen shall be standing here before you."

"What do you propose to do, then," demanded the princess.

"Merely to write a billet, desiring Master Albert Maurice, in the name
of Mary, Duchess of Burgundy, to render himself to the palace, with
all speed, in order to speak with his sovereign," was her fair
attendant's answer.

"Nay, but it may seem strange," said the princess; "I hardly dare to
do so without speaking with your father."

"If you make it a matter for counsellors, lady," replied Alice, "all
our scheme fails, or worse may come of it than you suspect. I have
already heard the constable of the reiters and one of your Grace's
council regretting that they did not seize upon the deputation this
morning, as a pledge for the submission of the people. No, no; he must
come in disguise, and must go in disguise. I will send the page with
the billet; he is shrewd and active, and shall bring him in by the
postern, on the canal. Nay, nay, lady," she added, seeing Mary about
to make some farther opposition, "I will take it all upon myself. I
will write the note, and send the page, and bid the sentry give him
admission on his return: and if aught is heard of it, it will but pass
for the trick of a mad-headed girl--and I have more to lose than you
too, my princess," she continued, laughing; "for I have a lover who
could be as jealous as a spaniel dog, if I chose to let him."

Mary still hesitated, and probably might have refused her consent; but
some nearer and louder shouts met her ear, giving evidence that the
crowds were increasing as the night came on, and determined her to
accede. Alice's proposal was agreed to accordingly; and, as every
moment was apparently adding to the tumult in the city, she proceeded
to put the scheme in execution immediately.


The torrent of business in which Albert Maurice found himself
involved, had occupied his time in such a manner as hardly to permit
of his giving much attention to the tumultuous assemblages which took
place, during the day, in various parts of the city. Popular leaders,
indeed, are apt to attach too little importance to those commotions
which, being frequently raised by themselves with ease and rapidity,
they fancy they can allay with the same facility and power; but a time
comes when they are to be undeceived, and it was approaching with
Albert Maurice. Towards two o'clock the young citizen had addressed
the people in the market-place, and had easily induced them disperse,
by informing them that the princess had most generously granted them,
of her own accord, all that they could desire. He had then, in the
belief that all the other crowds would melt away, in the same manner,
before night, retired to his own dwelling; and, in the most remote and
noiseless apartment which it contained, had proceeded to make, with
rapidity and decision, all those arrangements on which depended the
defence of the city against external enemies, and the predominance of
the popular party within its walls. He wrote at length to all the
municipal councils of the various towns in Flanders; he took measures
for organizing a considerable national force; he sent express orders
to the guard at all the gates, to refuse admission to any party of
armed men; and he issued orders for the fabrication of arms as
speedily as possible, in order that the citizens might be found in a
state of preparation, if the privileges and liberty they had regained
should be menaced from without.

Thus passed the three hours of light that remained after his return
home; and busy hours they were. At length feeling himself,
notwithstanding his great corporeal powers, somewhat wearied with the
immense exertions which he had made, he proceeded into the garden
attached to his dwelling, which formed a little terrace on the banks
of the Lys. As he stood there, turning his aching brow to the cool
wind, the full roar of the tumult in the city burst upon his ear, like
the distant sound of a stormy sea; and, after listening for a few
moments to the combination of discordant noises, which rose up from
the many streets and squares, he felt at once that some great
change had taken place in the popular mind since he had left the
market-place; and, turning quickly back, he prepared to go forth and
use all the power he knew that he possessed to restore tranquillity.
At his own door, however, he was met by a boy, who instantly
pronounced his name, though it was now dark, and demanded to speak
with him.

"Who, and what are you, boy?" demanded the young citizen.

"I bear you a billet from a lady," replied the youth; "and you must
read it directly."

"A billet from a lady!" cried Albert Maurice, with a sneer curling his
handsome lip. "Go, go, my boy, this is no time for idle gallantries.
Give me the note, and get thee hence; I will read it to-morrow."

"Nay, but you must read it this moment," the other answered, without
giving him the note: "ay, and that in private, too," he added. "So
come, good sir, go back into your house; and take it with reverence
and care, for it deserves no less."

"Thou art bold enough," replied Albert Maurice; but at the same time
there was something in the deportment of the boy, so unlike that of
the common _Love's messengers_ of those days, that he yielded to his
desire; and, turning into the house, strode quickly to the chamber in
which he had been writing, and in which a light was still burning.

The moment he had entered, the apparel of the page, and a small St.
Andrew's cross, embroidered on his left breast, at once showed that he
was a servant of the house of Burgundy. Instantly closing the door,
Albert Maurice took the note with every sign of reverence and respect,
and read it attentively by the light of the lamp. As he did so,
however, his cheek flushed, and then turned pale and flushed again,
and he demanded eagerly, "Who gave you this note, Sir Page?"

"The Lady Alice of Imbercourt," replied the boy; "and she bade me lead
you speedily to the postern on the river."

Albert Maurice paused, and mused; and though no heart that ever beat
in a human bosom knew less of fear than his, yet the ordinary
calculation of danger which every one makes when engaged in
enterprises of importance forced itself upon his notice, and he could
not but feel that the step proposed to him was replete with peril. Was
it probable, he asked himself, that the princess should send to him at
that hour? And was not the dispatch of the note he held in his hand,
much more likely to be part of a scheme framed by the Prevot, or some
of the inferior agents of the government, in order to get the chief
leader of the popular party, the president of the provisional council,
into their hands, as a tie upon the people?

Yet, as he gazed upon the billet, it was evidently a woman's writing;
and as he re-read the contents there was something in it all which put
prudence and caution to flight at once. Was not the very name of Mary
of Burgundy enough? To be requested by her to visit her dwelling in
secrecy and disguise! to see her, to speak with her in private! to
bask in the light of those beautiful eyes! to hear that soft and
thrilling voice! The very hope was worth all the perils that ever
knight or paladin encountered; and his re-perusal of the billet
determined him at once to go.

Where to find some speedy means of disguising his person was his next
thought; but then, immediately remembering the monk's grey gown in
which he had already travelled so far, and which, by some accident,
had been left behind by his former guide, he instantly sought it out,
stripped off the furred robe which he had worn through the day, and
buckling on a sword and poniard under the frock, strode on after the
page, with that increased feeling of security which we all experience
when we know that we have the means about us of selling our lives
dearly, happen what will in the course before us.

"Better follow at a short distance behind, good father," said the boy,
as they proceeded into the street; "you know your way towards the back
of the Cours du Prince. If we go separate we shall the better escape
notice, and you will find me on the narrow path beneath the walls."

As he spoke thus, he darted away, and Albert Maurice followed with the
hurried step of excitement and expectation. It was now completely
dark; and passing onward along the quay of the canals, and through one
or two of the many large squares of Ghent, he soon saw enough of
popular feeling to make him anxious to resume a garb in which he might
take measures for repressing the turbulent spirit that was every
moment gaining ground. At the corner of each of the larger streets
immense bonfires, blazing and crackling in the chill air, at once
lighted, and warmed, and excited the multitudes that assembled round
them. But this was not all; wine, and ale too, that genuine Flemish
beverage, were circulating rapidly amongst the crowds of men and
women, whose class and appearance did not at all warrant the
supposition that their own means could procure, even on an
extraordinary occasion, such copious supplies of dear and intoxicating
liquors. All this excited a suspicion in the mind of Albert Maurice,
that some unseen agency was at work, to rouse the people to a far
higher pitch than he wished or had expected; and at the same time, he
felt that such scenes of tumultuous rejoicing on the news of the loss
of a great battle, and the death of their bold and chivalrous
sovereign, was indecent in itself, and must be bitter, indeed, to the
child of the dead prince. Such sights, of course, increased his speed;
and hastening on as fast as possible, he soon found himself upon the
narrow ledge of land between the fortified wall of the palace and the
river. But he was alone; the page was nowhere to be seen; and Albert
Maurice began to suspect he had been deceived; but, a moment after,
the appearance of the boy, hurrying up as fast as his less powerful
limbs permitted, soon showed him that his own anxious haste had
outstripped even the page's youthful activity.

Although a sentry paraded the wall above, with his slow match lighted,
no challenge was given; and three sharp taps upon the postern door
soon caused it to fly open, and admit them within the walls of the
building. An inferior officer of the guard stood by, and held a
lantern to the face of the page as he entered. The boy endured his
scrutiny quietly; but, to the surprise of the young citizen, he found
that the appearance of the page was received as a passport for
himself. The officer withdrew the lantern without farther comment, as
soon as he had satisfied himself in regard to the boy's person, and
suffered Albert Maurice and his conductor to enter the palace.

Up long and manifold staircases--through innumerable doors and
interminable passages, the page led the leader of the Gandois, and
only stopped at length, when both were out of breath, at a small, deep
doorway, where he knocked before he entered, making a sign to Albert
Maurice to pause. The boy was then told to come in, and remained
within for some minutes, while the young burgher continued in the dark
passage, his heart beating, as he thought of his near meeting with
Mary of Burgundy, with that thrill of expectation which would seem to
partake of the nature of fear, were it not almost always mingled in
some way with feelings not only of hope, but of joy.

After a time the boy returned; and, leading the young burgher to
another door, he threw it open, and admitted him into an apartment
fitted up with all the ostentatious splendour for which Charles of
Burgundy had been famous in the decoration of his palaces. It seemed
to have been a room peculiarly allotted to that prince's leisure
moments; for all around hung various implements of sylvan sport, each
ornamented in some way with the arms of Burgundy, and piled up against
the walls in the manner of trophies.

There is something strangely solemn in entering the chamber of one
lately dead. It seems more empty, more vacant and cold, than when its
master, though absent, is living. It appeals to our own feelings and
connects itself, by the thin gossamer threads of selfishness which the
human heart draws between our own fate and every external event that
befalls our fellow-men, with an after-period, when our chamber shall
be left thus cold and lonely, and our place be no longer found amongst
the living.

All spoke of the last Duke Charles, and of the bold rude sports of
which he had been fond. Even the sconce that held a few lighted tapers
was fashioned in the shape of a boar's head; and as the young citizen
entered the chamber, he felt that feeling of pity for, and sympathy
with, the deceased prince which nothing could have inspired but his
death: that common fate which breaks down all that holds man from man,
and first makes us feel our near kindred to each other.

There was no one in the chamber; and the page, after telling Albert
Maurice that the lady would be with him in a moment, retired and left
him to think both of the living and the dead. His thoughts of the
latter, however, soon ceased; for in this active life the solemn
impressions are naturally the most transitory; and the expectation of
meeting Mary of Burgundy soon absorbed the whole. He had no time to
analyse his feelings, or to examine with microscopic accuracy the
workings of his own heart. Since the day when he had first seen her in
the market-place her image had become connected with almost every
thought that had passed through his mind. The name of the princess,
and her conduct in all the events of the day, of course formed a
constant part in the conversation of the people; and whenever she was
mentioned, the fair form and the mild liquid eyes rose to the sight of
the young burgher, and the sweet melodious tones of her voice seemed
to warble in his ear. He had refused to let his own mind inquire what
was going on in his bosom; but the words of Ganay had, perhaps, in
some degree, opened his eyes to his feelings; and the sensations which
he experienced while waiting her coming in that chamber tended still
more to undeceive him.

"What, what was he doing?" he asked himself: "encouraging a passion
for an object beyond his reach." But even while he so thought, a
thousand wild and whirling images rushed across his brain--of triumph,
and success, and love. But how was it all to be obtained? By
overthrowing her power to raise himself into her rank; by overturning
the institutions of his country; by risking the effusion of oceans of
blood, and by inducing months of anarchy? Still these were the only
means by which he could ever hope to win the hand of Mary of Burgundy;
and he asked himself, would such means win her love? Even were he to
give way to the towering ambition, which was the only passion that had
hitherto struggled with patriotism in his bosom--the only one which he
had feared--would it obtain the gratification of that love which was
now rising up, a stronger passion, still destined to use the other as
its mere slave?

Such feelings as I have said rushed rapidly through his brain, while
expectation mingled with the rest, and made his heart beat till it
almost caused him to gasp for breath. These sensations were becoming
well-nigh intolerable, when the door opened, and Mary of Burgundy,
followed a step behind by Alice of Imbercourt, entered the apartment,
and the door was closed. The princess was still pale with grief; but
there was a fitful colour came and went in her cheek, that was far
lovelier than the most rosy health. Her eyes, too, bore the traces of
tears; but their heaviness had something touching in it, which,
perhaps, went more directly to the heart than their brighter light.

With a flushed cheek and agitated frame the young burgher advanced a
step, and made a profound inclination of the head as the princess
entered, not well knowing whether, when received in so private a
manner, to kneel or not. But Mary, after pausing a moment, with a
doubtful glance, as her eye fell upon the monk's frock with which he
was covered, held out her hand for him to kiss as her subject, a
custom then common to almost all ladies of sovereign station; and the
young citizen at once bent the knee, and touched that fair hand with a
lip that quivered like that of a frightened child. He then rose, and
stepping back, waited for Mary to express her commands, though his eye
from time to time was raised for a single instant to her face, as if
he thought to impress those fair features still more deeply on the
tablet of his heart.

"I thank you, sir, for coming so speedily," said the princess, "for,
in truth, I have much need of your counsel and assistance."

"I trust, madam, you could not entertain a doubt of my instant
obedience to your commands," replied Albert Maurice, finding that she

"The only thing which could have led me to do so," said the princess,
"was your refusal to come at the bidding of my faithful friends, the
Lords of Imbercourt and Hugonet."

"There is some great mistake, madam," replied the young citizen, in
surprise; "the noblemen, to whom your Grace refers, have never
signified any wish to see me. Had they done so, I should have come at
their request, with the same confidence that I have obeyed your

"Alice," cried the princess, turning to her fair attendant, "my
information came from you. I hope it was correct."

"All I can say, fair sir," said Alice of Imbercourt, advancing a step,
and applying to the young burgher the term that was generally used in
that day, from noble to noble--"all I can say, fair sir, is, that I
heard my father, the Lord of Imbercourt, despatch a messenger this
day, at about three of the clock, to entreat Master Albert Maurice and
Master Walter Ganay to visit him at the palace immediately; and I
heard, scarcely an hour ago, by the report of one of my women, that a
direct refusal had been returned."

"Not by me, lady, certainly not by me," replied Albert Maurice. "Since
the hour of two, this day, I have been in my own cabinet busily
engaged in writing, and know but little of what has passed in the
city. But assuredly no messenger has ever reached me to-day from the
palace, except the page who brought me the command, which I am here to
obey. But you say another name was coupled with mine. Perhaps that
person may have returned the uncourteous refusal of which you speak."

"I am very sorry for it, then," answered Mary of Burgundy; "for the
matter on which I desired to see you, sir, would be much better
transacted with men and statesmen than with a weak women like myself."

"Your pardon, madam!" exclaimed Albert Maurice. "If what you would say
refers to the city of Ghent and its present state, much more may be
done by your own commands, expressed personally to myself, than by an
oration of the wisest minister that ever yet was born. Statesmen,
madam, are often too cold, too prudent, too cautious, to deal with the
frank multitude, whose actions are all passion, and whose motives are
all impulse. But, oh! madam, there is a natural, generous, gentle
feeling about all your demeanour, from your lightest word to your most
important deed, which is well calculated to make our hearts serve you,
as well as our heads or our hands."

The young burgher spoke with a fervour and an enthusiasm that called
the blood up for a moment into Mary's cheek. But as the chivalrous
courtesy of the day often prompted expressions of much more romantic
admiration, without the slightest further meaning than mere ordinary
civility, Mary of Burgundy saw nothing in the conduct of the young
citizen beyond dutiful and loyal affection. The possibility of her
having raised a deeper or more tender feeling in the bosom of her
subject never once crossed her thoughts. It was to her as a thing
impossible; and, though she certainly felt gratified by the fervent
tone of loyalty in which Albert Maurice expressed himself, she dreamed
not for a moment that that loyalty could ever become a warmer feeling
in his breast.

"I trust, sir," she replied, "ever to merit the opinion you have
expressed, and to keep the love of my good people of Ghent, as well as
that of all my subjects. But, indeed, the conduct that they are now
pursuing evinces but small regard either for my feelings or my
interest, nor much gratitude for the first willing concession that I
have made in their favour. You say, sir, you know little that has
passed in the city since an early hour, listen, then to the tidings
that have reached me."

Mary then recapitulated all that she had heard concerning the tumults
in different parts of the city; and a conversation of considerable
length ensued, which--from all the important and interesting
circumstances discussed, from the free and unceremonious communication
which it rendered necessary, and from the continual bursts of high and
generous sentiments, upon both parts, to which the great events they
spoke of gave rise--brought all the feelings of the young citizen
within the circle of the one deep, overpowering passion which had been
long growing up in his bosom. If he came there doubting whether he
loved Mary of Burgundy, before he left her presence his only doubt
was, whether there was anything else on earth worth living for but the
love he felt towards her.

Such thoughts had their natural effect both on his appearance and
demeanour. He still maintained that tone of deep respect due from a
subject to his sovereign; but there was a free grace in all his
movements, a brilliant energy in all he said, a spirit of gentle,
chivalrous loyalty in all his professions, inspired by the great
excitement under which he spoke, that raised the wonder and admiration
of Mary herself, though still no one dream of bolder aspirations ever
crossed her imagination.

The chamber in which this conference was held was turned towards the
river, rather than to the square before the palace; and the shouts
which had made themselves loudly audible in the apartments from which
Mary had just come, had hitherto been less distinctly heard where she
now stood. But, in a moment after, the multitudes which had assembled
in other places seemed directing their course over a bridge that lay a
little higher up the stream; and the sounds came with redoubled force.
Shouts, cries, and songs of every kind were borne along with the wind,
to the chamber in which the princess was standing; and, pointing to
the casement, she bade the young citizen open it, and hearken to what
was passing without.

Albert Maurice did so, and, in listening, his cheek became alternately
pale and red; his brow knitted, and his eye flashed; and, turning to
the princess, he replied, "I know not, madam, what they have done, or
what they are about to do, but certainly some sort of insanity seems
to have seized upon the people. However, I will this instant go forth,
and, as I live, if they have committed the crimes of which I am led to
fear they are guilty, from some of the cries I have just heard, the
perpetrators shall meet the punishment they deserve."

He turned towards the door as he spoke, but Mary desired him to pause.
"Stay, stay, sir, a moment," she said: "Alice, bid the page see that
the way is clear."

The young lady opened the door, and whispered a few words to the boy,
who waited in the passage beyond, and who instantly proceeded to
ascertain that no change had taken place to obstruct the burgher's
egress from the palace. Scarcely was he gone on this errand, however,
when a pale reddish glare began to pour through the open window,
waxing stronger each moment; and Mary, whose face was half turned
towards it, started forward, exclaiming, "Look, look! Good Heaven,
they have set fire to the city!"

Albert Maurice sprang to the casement also; and, as with his right
hand he threw further open the lattice, his left rested for a single
moment on that of Mary of Burgundy, which she had accidentally placed
upon the sill of the window. It was but for an instant, yet a thrill
passed through his whole frame that made his brain seem to reel.

But he had no time to indulge such thoughts. A bright pyramid of flame
was at that very moment springing up through the clear night air,
affording a strange and fearful contrast to the pure sweet beams of
the early moon. Redder and redder the baleful glare arose, as if
striving to outshine the moonlight, and streaming over the city,
displayed the dark black masses of the buildings; wall, and roof, and
tower, and spire, standing out in clear relief upon the bright
background of the blaze. Thence gleaming on, the two lights were seen
flashing together upon the river, amidst the innumerable black spots
formed by the boats, in many of which a number of human figures might
be descried, gazing with upturned faces at the flame. The wooden
bridge, too, with the crossing and interlacing of its manifold piles
and beams, appeared at a little distance beyond, a piece of dark fine
tracery upon the glittering mass of the stream; and there, too, an
immense multitude were to be observed, looking on calmly at the fire
which was consuming some of the finest buildings in the city.

All this was gathered by the young citizen at one glance.
"They have set fire to the prison and the hall of justice," he cried,
divining in an instant, both from the direction of the flames, and the
cries he had before heard, the crime which had been committed. "This
must be put a stop to! Madam, farewell. When you shall hear to-morrow
of the events of this night, you shall either learn that I am dead, or
that I have done my duty."

The page had by this time returned; and Albert Maurice followed him
with a rapid step through the same passages by which he had been
conducted to his interview with the princess. Just as they reached the
ground floor of the castle, however, there was the sound of a coming
step. The boy darted across the corridor in a moment, and Albert
Maurice had but time to draw the cowl of his monk's gown over his
head, when he was encountered by the Lord of Imbercourt, advancing
with a hasty step towards the apartments of the princess.

The young citizen, with all his feelings excited by what had just
passed, was both fearless and careless of any mortal thing, and,
making slight way for the nobleman to pass, was striding rapidly on
after the page; but Imbercourt caught him by the arm, exclaiming, "Who
are you, sir? and what do you here?"

"I do the errand on which I am sent," replied the young citizen, "and
interrupt no man. Unhand me, sir; for I am not to be stayed."

"Not till I see your face," said Imbercourt sternly: "your voice I
should know. But that form, I doubt me, is no monk's."

As he spoke, he raised his hand towards the cowl which covered the
head of the young citizen. But Albert Maurice shook off his grasp,
saying, "Man, you are unwise! Stay me further at your peril."

"Ho! a guard without there!" shouted the Lord of Imbercourt, till the
whole passages rang, and cast himself immediately in the path of the
burgher. But Albert Maurice seized him in his powerful grasp, and,
with one effort sent him reeling to the further part of the corridor,
where he fell almost stunned upon the floor.

Without a moment's pause, the young citizen darted through the door by
which the page had disappeared, traced without difficulty the passages
which led to the postern, passed unquestioned by the sentry who was
conversing with the boy, and, in a moment after, was standing upon the
terrace without the palace walls.

Casting off the monk's gown, he rolled it hastily up and threw it into
the water; and then striding along the narrow quay, between the Cours
du Prince and the river, he directed his way at once towards the
bridge. It was still covered with people; and some one, recognising
him as he came upon it, pronounced his name, which was instantly
spoken by a hundred other voices. Still Albert Maurice passed on,
forcing his way through the crowd, but marking attentively the various
countenances, as he went, by the light which the flames of the burning
buildings cast upon them. There were many he recognised, but he spoke
to none for some moments, till he came to a stout honest-looking
clothworker, near whom he stopped for an instant.

"Are you ready to obey my commands, Gibelin?" he demanded.

"To the death, Master Albert," replied the other; "the rogues have set
fire to the hall of justice."

"I see," answered Albert Maurice; "follow me thither, and, as you go,
collect as many as you can who will obey without question."

He then strode on, stopping from time to time at the various crowds,
wherever he recognised a person on whom he could depend. With each of
these, a momentary conversation took place, of the same nature as that
which he had held with the man he called Gibelin. To some, however,
his address was much more brief. To others, merely, "Follow me, Kold!
follow me Gastner!"

His commands were instantly obeyed; those whom he charged to collect
more, were successful in doing so; and as he made his way forward, a
body of two or three hundred men, gathered in this manner from the
different crowds, continued pushing their way after him in an
irregular manner, up the great street, in which the old prison and
hall of justice were situated. Those buildings had been built so as to
retire a little from the general facade of the houses; and, being
placed exactly opposite to each other, left a sort of square between
them. The edifices on both sides were now on fire; but notwithstanding
the intense heat, the place or square was filled to overflowing with
people, whose appearance and occupation seemed altogether those of
devils in human form. The blaze of the burning buildings cast upon
their swarthy and excited countenances, disfigured as they already
were by drink and passion, a glare that was perfectly infernal. Loud
shouts of exultation, or rather screams of triumphant hatred, rent the
air: and, round about the square, suspended by the neck to the long
stone water-spouts which then distinguished the city of Ghent, were to
be seen a number of human figures, quivering and convulsed in the
agonies of death, while the demon yells of the populace hailed the
contortions of their victims with horrible delight.

Such, it is well known, was the death of the unhappy eschevins, whom
Charles of Burgundy had appointed for the city of Ghent; but the
vengeance which was immediately taken on some of the perpetrators of
that cruel act is not so generally recorded. Albert Maurice found the
multitude in the first exultation of the barbarous feat they had
committed; and many of those who had taken a leading part therein were
still making a parade of their activity. The young citizen, however,
hesitated not a moment; but striding up to a wretch who held the end
of one of the ropes used as the means of inflicting death upon the
eschevins, he seized him at once by the collar of his jerkin, and
dragged him towards the middle of the square.

A momentary movement was made by the people to resent this
interference, and to rescue their comrade; but he was instantly passed
from the hands of Albert Maurice to the trustworthy followers whom he
had called together, with the words, "To the town-house!" The next
moment the young citizen, without appearing even to see, or notice the
threatening aspect of the people, again strode through the midst of
them, and made another prisoner of a better class, thundering no
measured terms of reproach upon him as he cast him back into the hands
of those that followed. The multitude now perceived that amongst
themselves, in every part of the square, there were persons of their
own rank and appearance, acting with the young burgher, whose name,
never mentioned by any of the citizens without respect and applause,
also began to circulate rapidly amongst them. Even those most bent
upon evil, not knowing who was prepared to support, and who to oppose
them, lost confidence in themselves. Fear, the most contagious of all
diseases, seized them; and, one by one, they made their way from the
scene of their criminal excesses. Those on the outside of the mass
felt those within pressing to escape, and catching the alarm, began to
run also; so that in a few minutes, Albert Maurice, and the men who
had followed him, alone remained in the square, together with three
prisoners, while a fourth had been hurried away.

To cut down the bodies of the unhappy men who had become the victims
of popular fury was the proceeding of the burgher and his companions;
but as all aid in their case was found to be in vain, the attention of
Albert Maurice was soon turned to prevent the conflagration from
spreading further than the public buildings to which it had been
communicated. As they were very much isolated in their situation, this
object was easily effected; and, as soon as it was accomplished, the
young citizen proceeded with hasty steps towards the town-house, where
he found a number of the municipal officers in somewhat lengthy debate
concerning the measures to be pursued for tranquillizing the city. The
superior mind of Albert Maurice instantly brought all wordy
discussions to an end; and while armed parties of the burgher guard
were despatched with peremptory orders to disperse the crowds, the
attention of those who now ruled in Ghent was called to the case of
the ruffians taken redhanded in the crime they had committed. The
ancient laws of the city were hastily consulted; were found to be
conclusive in regard to their guilt and punishment; a confessor was
summoned; and, ere daybreak the next morning, the four persons who had
acted the most prominent part in the death of the eschevins had tasted
the same fate before the town-hall of Ghent.

With a sternness which formed no part of his original nature, but
which grows sadly and destructively upon the human heart in such
scenes of excitement and violence, Albert Maurice with his own eyes
saw the decree of the municipal council carried into effect ere he
trod his way homeward. But as soon as the execution was over, he
returned to his dwelling; and, exhausted with all he had gone through
during the last eight and forty hours, he cast himself upon his bed,
and slept.


We must now, once more, change the scene; and, leaving Ghent to
proceed step by step through all the mazes of anarchy and confusion,
which are sure for a time to succeed the overthrow of established
authority, we must trace the events which were occurring to some of
the other personages connected with this true history.

Once more, then, let us turn to the forest of Hannut, which now, in
the depth of winter, offered a very different scene from that which it
had displayed either in the full summer or the brown autumn. It was
early in the morning of the 20th of January; and, except on the
scattered beeches which, mingling here and there with the oak, and the
elm, and the birch, retained their crisp brown leaves longer than any
of the other trees, not a bough in the wood, but, stript of all that
ornamented it in the warmer season, was encrusted with a fine white
coating of glistening frost-work. Little snow, indeed, covered the
ground, and that which had fallen was too hard frozen to have any
tenacity, but--drifted about the forest in a fine white powder, lodged
here and there amongst the withered leaves, or collected in thick
sweeps upon the dingle side--it retained no form but that given to it
by the wind; so that the deep footprint of the stag or boar was
effaced almost as soon as made, and the only mark by which the eye of
the most experienced huntsman could have traced the lair of his
quarry, would have been by the hoar frost brushed off the boughs of
the thickets in the animal's course through the wood.

The morning was as clear and bright as if the sun were just starting
from the dark pavilion of the night, to run his race of glory through
the long course of a summer's day, but the wind, whistling keenly
through the woods, and tingling on the cheeks of the early forester,
told that the sharp reign of winter was in the height of its power.

In a wide, open, grassy spot, about half a mile from the high road to
Louvain, were collected, on the morning to which I refer, about a
dozen of our good friends the green riders. One or two were on
horseback; but the greater part had dismounted, and were employing
themselves in all the various ways which men devise to warm themselves
on a winter's morning. They were evidently waiting for some one; and
though the people who are watched for by such gentry, are not
generally in the most enviable situation in the world, yet, on the
present occasion, the freebooters seemed to have no hostile purpose in
view, and spoke of the person they expected as one of themselves.

"Cold work he will have of it, Master Matthew," said one of the
adventurers, addressing the florid, white-haired old man, whom we have
had occasion to notice somewhat particularly in the cavern.

"By my faith!" replied the other, "when anything disagreeable is to be
done, he does not spare himself."

"Ay, but such is the leader for us," rejoined the other. "Think you he
will be long? It is mighty cold, and the horses are half frozen."

"Hark!" cried his companion, "that clatter may answer your question.
By the Lord! he is coming down the hill at a fearful rate, for so
slippery as it is. I trust he is not pursued. Stand to your arms, my
men, and be ready to mount!"

As he spoke, the sound of a horse's feet at full gallop was heard
through the clear frosty air; and, in a moment after, along the little
road--which wound away from the open space where the adventurers were
collected over the side of a steep acclivity--was seen a man on
horseback, darting down towards them, without the slightest apparent
regard to the sharpness of the descent, or the slipperiness of the
road. He was armed like themselves, but with the distinction, that
instead of the open basinet, or round steel cap, without visor, which
they wore, his head was covered by a plumed casque, the beaver of
which was down.

He drew not a rein till he was in the midst of them; then, with one
slight touch, checked his horse and vaulted to the ground. The haste
in which he had arrived was now equalled by the rapidity of his words,
as he gave a number of different orders to the men who surrounded him,
clearly and precisely, but with a celerity which showed that no time
was to be lost.

"Matthew, my good lieutenant," he said, laying his hand upon the
shoulder of the old man, "who is fittest to send to Germany, on an
errand to a prince?"

"Why not myself?" demanded the adventurer.

"Because I want you here, and cannot do without you," replied the

"Well, then, send Walter there," rejoined the old man; "he is a
Frenchman, and courtly in his way."

"Courtly and honest, too," added the Vert Gallant, "which is a wonder.
There, Master Walter, take that letter to the Bishop of Triers. You
will find him at Cologne with the bishop of that city. There, mount
and be gone! you know your way. Here is a purse of gold to pay your
expenses. The bishop will send you on to the archduke. The Germans are
frugal; therefore be not you over fine. Yet spare not the florins,
where it may do honour to him that sent you. Away!"

"You, good Matthew, yourself," continued the Vert Gallant, "speed like
lightning to Ghent; but cast off your steel jacket, and robe me
yourself like the good burgher of a country town. Seek out your old
friend Martin Fruse: confer with him, and with his nephew Albert
Maurice; they are now all powerful in Ghent. Bid them beware of Louis
King of France. Tell them it is his purpose to force the Princess Mary
into a marriage with his puny son, and to make her yield her fair
lands into his hand, that he himself may seize them all when death
lays hold upon his sickly boy. Bid them oppose it by all means, but by
none more than by delay. Risk not your person, however; and if you
cannot speak with them in safety, write down the message, and have it
given by another hand. You, Frank Van Halle--you are bold and shrewd,
though you have but little speech: follow Matthew Gournay, habited as
his man; but when you are within the walls of Ghent, find out some way
of speech with the princess; and, whether in public or in private,
give her that ring, with this small slip of paper. Then leave the city
as quickly as you may."

"I doubt me it will be sure death?" replied Van Halle, looking up with
an inquiring glance. "What! you afraid, Van Halle!" exclaimed his
leader; "but go; there is no fear."

"Afraid! No, no," answered the man; "but I only thought, if I were to
die, I would go home first, and, with Martin of Gravelines and Dick
Drub-the-Devil, would drink out the pipe of sack I bought: pity it
should be wasted."

"Keep it for another time," said the Vert Gallant, "for, by my faith,
your errand to Ghent will never stop your drinking it."

"Well, well, if I die, tell the other two to finish it," rejoined Van
Halle; "pity it should be wasted;" and so sprang on his horse.

"Hold, Matthew," cried the Vert Gallant, as the two soldiers were
about to depart without more words; "meet me five days hence in the
wood between Swynaerde and Deynse. So lose no time. You know the red
cross near Astene."

The two instantly rode off; and the Vert Gallant then turned to the
others, and continued his orders, for marching the whole force he had
under his command, which seemed to be considerable, into the woods in
the neighbourhood of Ghent.

Those woods, though then very extensive, and covering acres of ground
which are now in rich cultivation, were nevertheless too small to
afford perfect shelter and concealment for such a large body of
adventurers as had long tenanted the vaster and less frequented
forest-tracks near Hannut, unless the entire band were subdivided into
many smaller ones, and distributed through various parts of the
country. All this, however, was foreseen and arranged by the leader of
the free companions; and it is probable that he also trusted to the
distracted state of the country--throughout which anything like
general police was, for the time, at an end--for perfect immunity in
his bold advance to the very gates of the capital of Flanders.

All his orders were speedily given, and one by one his companions left
him, as they received their instructions, so that at length he stood
alone. He paused for a moment on the spot, patting the neck of his
strong fiery horse; and--as men will sometimes do when they fancy
themselves full of successful designs, and are excited by the
expectation of great events--addressing to the nearest object of the
brute creation those secret outbreakings of the heart, which he might
have feared to trust in the unsafe charge of human beings.

"Now, my bold horse, now," he exclaimed, "the moment is come, for
which, during many a long year, I have waited and watched. The star of
my house is once more in the ascendant, and the reign of tyranny is at
an end; let him who dares, stand between me and my right, for not
another hour will I pause till justice is fully done."

While he was thus speaking, a sort of slight distant murmur came
along, so mingled with the whistling of the wind, that he had to
listen for some moments before he could ascertain whether it proceeded
merely from the increased waving of the boughs occasioned by the gale
rising, or whether it was the distant sound of a number of persons
travelling along the road which he had just passed.

He was soon satisfied; and as he clearly distinguished voices, and the
jingling tramp of a travelling party of that day, he sprang upon his
charger, leaped him over a small brook that trickled half-congealed
through the grass, and plunged into a deep thicket beyond, the bushes
and trees of which were of sufficient height to screen him from the
observation of the passengers.

The party whose tongues he had heard soon came to the spot where he
had lately stood. It comprised about thirty people, all well armed,
and dressed splendidly, bearing the straight cross, which at that time
distinguished France from Burgundy. The magnificent apparel of the
whole body, the number of the men-at-arms of which it was principally
composed, together with certain signs of peaceful dispositions on
their own part, evinced at once, to the practised eye that watched
them, that the cavalcade which came winding along the road consisted
of some envoy from France and his escort; furnished, probably, with
those letters of safe-conduct which guarded them from any hostile act
on the part of the government of the country through which they
passed, but prepared to resist any casual attacks from the lawless
bands that were then rife.

Not exactly at the head of the cavalcade--for two stout archers, armed
at all points, led the way--but at the head of the principal body,
appeared a small, dark, ill-featured man, whose person even an
extraordinary display of splendour in his apparel, sufficed not to
render anything but what it was, insignificant. Velvet and gold and
nodding plumes could do nought in his favour; and the only thing which
made his appearance in any degree remarkable, was an air of silent,
calm, and determined cunning, which had in it something fearful from
its very intensity. One gazed upon him as on a serpent, which, however
small and powerless in appearance, inspires terror in much mightier
things than itself, from the venom of its fangs.

He rode on quietly, speaking little to any one; and that which he did
say was all uttered in a calm, soft, insinuating tone, which
corresponded well with the expression of his countenance. The rest of
the party laughed and talked with much less ceremony and restraint
than the presence of so dignified a person as an ambassador might have
required, had he been by state and station fit to have inspired
respect. Such seemed not to be the case in the present instance; and
though not one word on any other than the most common-place subjects
passed amongst the followers of the Count de Meulan--for so the
ambassador was called--yet their light laughter and gay jokes,
breaking forth every moment close to his ear, were anything but

Some little difficulty seemed now to occur in regard to the road that
the party were travelling. It appeared that hitherto, on turning
slightly from the high road, they had followed the foot-marks of the
Vert Gallant's charger; taking them for those left by the horse of an
avant-courier, who had been despatched to prepare for them at the next
town. When they found, however, that the steps turned into the
savannah, and lost themselves in a number of others, a halt
immediately took place; and, after a short consultation, by order of
the ambassador, the whole party wheeled round, and wisely returned to
the high road.

Their whole proceedings, however, had been watched by one they knew
not of; and almost before they were out of sight, the Vert Gallant
emerged from his concealment, and, with a laugh which rang with
contempt, turned his horse's head and galloped away.

The Count de Meulan--or, in other words, Olivier le Dain, the barber
of Louis XI. whom that monarch had raised from the lowest class for
the basest qualities, and whom he now sent as ambassador, to treat
with the young heiress of Burgundy, and to intrigue with her
subjects--had hardly proceeded two hours on the high road, when a fat
rolling monk of the order of St. Francis, mounted on a sleek mule, the
picture of himself, joined the rear of the ambassador's escort, and
entering into jovial conversation with some of the men-at-arms,
besought their leave to travel as far as they went on the road to
Ghent under their protection, alleging that the country was in such a
disturbed state, that even a poor brother like himself could not
pursue his journey in any safety. The light-hearted Frenchmen easily
granted his request, observing, in an under tone to each other, that
Oliver the Devil--such was the familiar cognomen of the respectable
personage they followed--could not in all conscience travel without a
monk in his train.

Father Barnabas, whom we have seen before, no sooner found himself
added to the suite of the ambassador, than he displayed all those
qualities he well knew would make his society agreeable to the
men-at-arms who had given him protection; and by many a jolly carouse,
and many a licentious bacchanalian song, he soon won favour on all
hands. Even the barber count himself, whose more sensual propensities
were only restrained by his cunning, found no fault with the merry
friar, whose sly and cutting jests, combined with the sleek and quiet
look of stupidity which always accompanied them, found means to draw
up even his lip into a smile, that might have been mistaken for a
sneer. On one occasion he felt disposed to put some shrewd questions
to worthy Father Barnabas as to his situation and pursuits, and even
began to do so on the second night of their journey, as, occupying the
best seat by the fire in the little hostelrie at which they lodged, he
eyed the impenetrable fat countenance before him with the sort of
curiosity one feels to pry into anything that we see will be difficult
to discover.

But the monk was at least his match; and if the weapons with which
they engaged in the keen contest of their wits were not precisely the
same on both parts, the combat resembled that of the elephant and the
rhinoceros; whenever Oliver the wicked strove to seize the monk and
close with him, his antagonist ran under him and gored him. Thus,
when, by some casual words, the envoy thought he had discovered that
his companion was a native of Saarvelt, and suddenly put the question
to him at once, the other replied, "No, no; I only remember it well,
on account of a barber's boy who was there, and whose real name
was--pho! I forget his real name; but he is a great man now-a-days,
and has held a basin under the nose of a king."

The quiet, unconscious manner in which this was said, left Olivier le
Dain, with all his cunning, in doubt whether the jolly friar really
recognised in him the barber's boy of Saarvelt, or whether the
allusion had been merely accidental; but he resolved not to
interrogate any more a person of such a memory, and possibly
determined to take care that the most effectual stop should be put to
its exercise in future, if those plans regarding Ghent should prove
successful, in the execution of which he was now engaged.

Too wise, however, to show any harshness towards the monk at the
time--a proceeding which would have pointed home the sarcasm for his
men-at-arms, on whose faces he thought he had remarked a sneering
smile as the other spoke--he allowed good father Barnabas still to
travel under his escort, meditating a lesson for him when he arrived
at his journey's end, which some might have thought severe. In the
meantime, as they journeyed on, there was about the monk a sort of
subdued triumph--a self-satisfied chuckle in his laugh, especially
when he jested with the gay and boasting Frenchmen upon their arms and
their exploits--which occasionally wakened a suspicion in the mind of
Olivier le Dain, whose own conduct was far too crooked for him to
believe that any one else could act straightforwardly.

Still no danger appeared; and the party arrived in perfect safety,
within about four leagues of Ghent. There, after pausing for supper at
an inn, it was found, on preparing to resume their journey, and enter
the city that night, that the person who had hitherto guided them was
so drunk as hardly to be able to sit his horse. The ambassador
demanded a guide of the host, but none could be found; and the worthy
keeper of the inn answered, with true Flemish coolness, that he would
not spare any one of his own household. "Could not the monk guide
them?" he demanded. "If his eyes served him, he had seen his broad
face in that part of the world before."

"Ay, marry can I, my son," replied Father Barnabas; "but I offer no
service before it is asked. There is a proverb against it, man."

As the affairs he had to transact were of deep importance, and minutes
were of the utmost consequence to success, Olivier le Dain, though by
no means fond of riding at night, and not at all prepossessed in
favour of the monk, consented to accept him as a guide; and the party
accordingly set out. By a whispered arrangement between the
respectable Count de Meulan and the captain of his escort, however, a
large part of the armed attendants rode on at a sufficient distance
before, to enable Oliver to make his retreat if he heard any attack
upon this advanced guard; while the monk, riding between two troopers,
close to the worthy barber, was held as a sort of hostage for the
security of the road on which he was about to pilot them.

Father Barnabas, whether he perceived anything strange in this array
or not, made no opposition, and jogged on contentedly upon his mule,
chattering gaily as he went, and seasoning his discourse with various
choice allusions to barbers, and basins, and beards, much more to the
gratification of the men-at-arms than of Olivier le Dain.

Thus proceeded the cavalcade, till they reached the little wood
of Swynaerde, near Merebek, where the road from Alost, in ancient
days, crossed the Scheldt, over a wooden bridge, at which a certain
pontage was charged upon each horse that passed. Here the mind of the
barber ambassador was in some degree relieved, by hearing from the
toll-taker, that all was quite quiet and safe, though six good miles
still lay between him and Ghent, and that through a dark wood of tall
trees. At the distance of about a mile from the bridge, was a red
cross, marking the direction of four different roads, which there
intersected each other; and the whole party paused, as it was too dark
to read the information thereon inscribed, to receive the instructions
of the monk. "Straight on! straight on!" cried Father Barnabas; and
the first part of the escort moved forward, though somewhat nearer to
the rest of the body than before; but the moment they had again
resumed their march, there was a low, sharp whistle, and a sound of
rushing and rustling all around them. Olivier le Dain, who was already
following the van, drew in his rein; and the whistle, repeated a
thousand times in different parts of the wood round about, showed him
at once that his party was beset. Fear certainly was the predominant
feeling in his mind; but even that very absorbing sensation did not
banish a passion equally strong; and while he turned his horse's head
to fly back to the bridge with all speed, he did not fail to say, in a
voice but little changed from its ordinary calm and sustained tone,
"We are betrayed! Kill the monk!"

But both Olivier's purpose of escape, and his desire of vengeance,
were disappointed. At the very first whistle, the friar had slipped,
unperceived, from his sleek mule, and, passing under the animal's
belly, was no longer to be seen; and before the luckless ambassador
could reach the road, which led away to the bridge, he found it
occupied by armed men. To whichever side he turned, the same sight
presented itself; and even on the highway leading to Ghent a still
stronger party was interposed between him and the first division of
his escort. Thus then he remained in the midst of the open square of
the cross road, accompanied by about twelve attendants, and surrounded
by a body of adventurers, which could not consist of less than one or
two hundred, but which fear and darkness magnified into a much greater

The scene and situation were by no means pleasant. Not a sound was to
be heard, but the echo of horses' feet ringing over the hard frozen
ground, from which he justly inferred that the advanced party of his
escort, by whom he was neither loved nor respected, finding themselves
infinitely overmatched, had galloped off, leaving him to his fate; and
nothing was to be seen in the darkness of the night, but the black
trunks of the trees, slightly relieved by the colour of the ground,
which was covered by a thin drift of snow, while a number of dim human
forms appeared, occupying all the different roads; and a multitude of
faint, dull spots of fire, drawn in a complete circle round him,
showed the ambassador that the slow matches of the arquebusiers, into
whose hands he had fallen, were prepared against resistance.

For a moment or two not a word was spoken; but at length a voice not
far from him exclaimed, "Lord a' mercy! Only to think of the barber's
boy of Saarvelt coming ambassador to Ghent! Lack a day! lack a day,
Noll! lack a day! thou art become a mighty great man! Thou hast
lathered and shaved to some purpose, ha, ha, ha!" And the voice of the
monk was drowned in his own laughter, the contagious merriment of
whose thick plum-porridge sounds instantly affected all around; and
the whole forest rang and echoed to the peals.

"What would you, fair sirs?" demanded the soft silken tones of Olivier
le Dain. "If laughter be all you seek, laugh on; but let me pass upon
my way. If it be gold you want, there, take my purse; I make you
welcome to it."

"A fool and his money!" cried the monk, snatching the purse. "But,
'faith! Master Noll, the barber, it is generous of you to give what
you cannot keep unless we like it."

"Cease your fooling, monk!" said the stern voice of some one advancing
from the wood. "Get off your horse, Sir Barber; you shall know my
pleasure with you, when it suits me to tell it. And now answer me! How
dare you, a low mechanical slave, presume to undertake a mission to
the Duchess of Burgundy, without one drop of noble blood in your

"Your pardon, fair sir!" replied Oliver, dismounting slowly, and
standing in an attitude of deprecation before the tall commanding
figure by whom he was addressed; "your pardon; I was rendered noble by
my sovereign lord the king, for the very purpose, as his letters
patent will show."

"Faith! the letters patent must be miraculous ones, that could ennoble
one drop of your slave's blood," replied the Vert Gallant. "There,
take him away! Treat him not ill; but keep him safe and fast. Search
his person, his servants, and his sumpter horses. Examine well the
stuffings of the saddles, and the paddings of their coats; and bring
every paper and parchment you may find."

"But listen to me, fair sir! Only hear me!" entreated Olivier le Dain.
"Surely you will not show such treatment to an ambassador. My papers
and my person are sacred in every Christian land."

"Pshaw!" cried the Vert Gallant. "When Louis, King of France, so far
forgets what is due to a princess, as to send to the heiress of
Burgundy a mean, cunning barber, as an ambassador, he can only expect
that others will also forget the character with which he chooses to
invest his lackey. Besides, what is it to me that you are ambassador
to Burgundy? You are no ambassador to me. I am duke of the forests;
and when you come as envoy to me, you shall have forest cheer. Away
with him and do my bidding!"

Closely guarded, but well treated, Olivier le Dain and his attendants
were detained for some days in the woods near Ghent, during the
greater part of which time, though occasionally compelled to sleep in
a hut of boughs, they resided generally in a small lonely house, which
had belonged in former days to the forester.

At length, one morning, suddenly, while the twilight was still grey,
the ambassador and his followers were called from their repose, and
placed upon the horses which brought them. All their apparel and
jewels were restored, as well as their arms; and of the treasure,
which the barber had brought with him, for the purpose of bribing the
populace of Ghent, a sufficient portion was left in his possession to
maintain his dignity, but not to effect the object he had intended.

He was then told to proceed upon his way, for that he was free to come
or go; and with all speed he turned his rein towards Ghent, at which
place he arrived in safety, though seven days after the period that
had been fixed for his appearance.


In the meantime, many events had occurred within the walls of the city
of Ghent, of which some account must be given, though perhaps it may
be necessary to follow the same desultory course in which they are
related in shrewd old Philip de Commines and pompous Jean de Molinet.

The quelled tumult, the extinguished fire, and the prompt justice done
upon some of the incendiaries, spread in a thousand shapes through the
town; and as, whenever Fame has marked a hero for her own, she never
fails to load him with many more honours than his due, Albert Maurice
had soon acquired the reputation of a thousand miracles of skill, and
courage, and judgment, far beyond the acts he had really performed.
Thus, when, after a brief sleep and a hasty meal, he issued forth from
his house the next morning, and rode on to the town-house, he found
the people--on whose wrath for their thwarted passions he had fully
counted--ready, on the contrary, to shout gratulations and plaudits on
his path. At the town-house, the syndics and notables of all the
trades had already assembled, and the druggist Ganay was in the very
act of proposing that an address of thanks and applause should be
voted to the young burgher for his noble and courageous conduct of the
preceding evening. Albert Maurice, however, was not to be blinded; and
even when the druggist was declaiming vehemently against the outrages
of the foregoing night, and lamenting that the populace had dealt upon
the eschevins without due judgment by law, the eye of the young
citizen fixed upon him with a glance of keen reproach, which Ganay at
once translated, and translated rightly--"You have deceived me."

To have done so, however, was no matter of shame to the dark and
artful man who was speaking; and, as their eyes met, a slight smile of
triumphant meaning curled his lip, while, with a fresh burst of
eloquence, he called upon the assembly to testify their admiration of
the man who had saved the city from pillage and conflagration. The
address of thanks was carried by acclamation; and Albert Maurice soon
found that it was the determination of the more active part of the
citizens, under the immediate influence of Ganay, to carry forward,
with eager rapidity, all those bold measures which would deprive the
sovereigns of any real power for the future, and place it entirely in
the hands of the people--or rather, in the hands of whatever person
had courage, energy, and talent, to snatch it from their grasp, and
retain it in his own. Twenty-six eschevins, together with the
lieutenant-bailli, and three pensioners, were immediately elected by
the citizens, to replace those who had been massacred, and to
administer the law; but the grand bailli and chief pensioner were
still to be chosen, and Albert Maurice with surprise heard the
determination of the citizens to confound those two high offices in
his own person. From the body of magistrates, three persons were
selected, as a president and two consuls, as they were called, and
extraordinary powers were entrusted to them. The president named at
once was the chief officer of the city, Albert Maurice; and Ganay, the
druggist, was added as one of the consuls. The third office was not so
easily filled; and a strong attempt was made to raise to it a fierce
and brutal man, whose talents perhaps appeared greater than they
really were, from the total want of any of the restraints of feeling
and moral principle, to limit the field in which they were exercised.

Some one, however, luckily proposed the name of worthy Martin Fruse;
and his nomination, seconded by the eloquent voice of his nephew, was
instantly acquiesced in by all. A slight cloud passed over the brow of
the druggist, as he found his power likely to be counterbalanced by
the influence of one, who, if he possessed no other quality to render
him great, had at least that rectitude of feeling, which was a fearful
stumbling-block in the way of crooked designs. But unchangeable
determination of purpose, and unscrupulous exercise of means, had
rendered the druggist so often successful in things which seemed
hopeless, that he bore, with scarcely a care, any change of
circumstances, confident of finding some path to his object in the

After one of those noisy and tumultuous assemblies, in the course of
which, though no business is transacted with calm reason, an infinity
of acts are performed by impulse, the meeting at the town-house broke
up; and while Martin Fruse returned to his dwelling on foot, as was
his usual custom, Albert Maurice and the druggist mounted their
horses, and rode slowly homeward. Their conversation was long and
rapid--too long, indeed, for transcription here; but the commencement
of it must not be omitted, even for the sake of brevity.

"Ganay, you have deceived me!" said Albert Maurice, as soon as they
were in some degree free from the crowd.

"I have!" was the calm reply of the druggist. "You are ungrateful,
Albert. You have never thanked me for it. What, you would pretend you
do not see cause for thanks! Had not the populace taken it into their
own hands, the council must have condemned those foul vultures who
have so long preyed upon us. Ay, I say _must_; and then whose name,
but that of Albert Maurice, must have stood amongst others in the
order for their death? As I have managed it, the severity was no act
of yours. You have offended none--no, not even the princess; and, on
the contrary, you have had the means of adding, in one night, more to
your fame, than your whole life has won before. You have had an
opportunity of winning honour and respect from commons and from
nobles, and love and gratitude from Mary of Burgundy. Still farther,
have you not in one night, in consequence of acts with which you
accuse me almost as a crime--have you not climbed to the very height
of power in your native land? ay, I say the height of power, for who
is there, be he duke, or count, or prince, who has so much authority
as he who sways the power of all the people of Flanders? A few steps
more, and your hand may seize the----"

"The what?" demanded Albert Maurice, as the other paused.

"No matter," replied the druggist. "The gates of ambition are cast
wide open before you; and you must on, whether you will or not."

"Ha! and who shall force me?" demanded Albert Maurice.

"Fate! Destiny!" answered the druggist. "'Tis many years ago, and you
were then a mere boy; but I remember your fate was predicted in the
forest of Hannut by that gloomy lord whose only commune, for many a
year, had been with the bright stars. 'Twas one night when we fell
accidentally into the hands of the free companions--and he foretold
that you should go on from power to power, successfully through life;
and that no one should check you but yourself."

"And do _you_ believe in such vain dreams?" rejoined Albert Maurice.

"I believe," replied the druggist, gravely, "that our lot through life
is immutably fixed from the cradle to the grave; that like a wild
horse we may foam and plunge, or like a dull jade plod onward at a
foot pace--but that the firm rider, Fate, still spurs us on upon the
destined course; and when the stated goal is won, casts down the
bridle on our neck, and leaves us to repose. I believe, too, that the
stars, as well as many other things, may tell, to those who study
them, events to come; for depend upon it, everything throughout the
universe fits closely, like the blocks cut for a perfect arch; so
that, from the form and position of the neighbouring stones, a person,
who has deeply studied, may tell to a certainty the shape and size of
any other."

Albert Maurice mused for a moment over the confession of this strange
creed, and its illustration, and then demanded--"What did the old lord
say concerning me?"

The druggist repeated his former words; and his young companion again
mused for a brief space. Then suddenly bringing back the conversation
to the matter in which it arose, he repeated--"Ganay, you have
deceived me; and not for my interest, but for your own revenge. You
have worked your will; and I trust that you are now sated. Better for
us both to labour together as far as may be, than stand in the very
outset face to face as foes. Are you contented with the blood already

"There must be one more!" said the druggist, resolutely.

"And who do you aim at now?" demanded the young citizen, with no small
loathing and horror towards his companion; but yet with a conviction
that, by some means, he would accomplish his purpose.

"It matters not," replied Ganay; "but set your mind at ease. The man
to whom I point is less an enemy to myself than an enemy to the state;
and I give you my promise that I will practise nought against his life
but with your consent. So guilty is he, and so convinced shall you be
of his guilt, that your own hand shall sign the warrant for his death.
But, oh! Albert Maurice, if you believe that the blood shed last night
is all that must be shed to effect the purposes you seek, sadly, sadly
do you deceive yourself. Prepare to bid it flow like water, or betake
you to a monastery! Ambition joined to faint-hearted pity, is like a
tame lion at a show, led about by a woman."

"But there is such a thing as patriotism," rejoined Albert
Maurice--yet he named the virtue but faintly, compared with the tone
in which he would have mentioned it three days before.

"Ay," said the druggist; "patriotism! The first step to ambition--but
that stage is past."

Well did Ganay know that there exists no means of persuading a human
being to any course of action, so powerful as by convincing him it is
inevitable. To do so, however, there must be probability as a basis;
and Ganay had watched too closely the most minute turns of his
companion's behaviour during many months, not to divine the spark of
ambition lying half smothered at the bottom of his heart. Nor had the
effect of Mary of Burgundy's eyes upon the colour and the voice of
Albert Maurice been lost upon the keen spirit that followed him; and
he fancied he beheld an easy method of bending him to his own purpose.
He saw, indeed, that, if either by love, or any other means, he
succeeded in fanning that spark of ambition into a flame, he must
leave him to run his course without a struggle, or a hope to deprive
him of the prize; nay, that he must aid him with his whole cunning to
raise up a new authority in the land, on the basis of that which they
were about to overthrow. But Ganay was not ambitious of aught but
avarice and revenge; and he soon perceived that these two master
passions of his soul _must_ be gratified by Albert Maurice in his
ascent to power.

As he rode on, he spoke long of their future prospects. He cast away,
at once, the enthusiastic cant he had at one time assumed towards him,
of patriotism and the entire abnegation of self; and, in order to
habituate his mind fully to the dreams of ambition, he spoke of them
as things already determined and to be. But still, to smooth the
transition, he failed not to point out the mighty benefits that a
ruler with a truly liberal heart might confer upon his people--it
mattered not what he was called--governor, lord, duke, prince, or
king. As for a pure republic, the land was not yet in a state fit for
it, he said: but what a boon--a mighty boon--might not that man grant
to the whole world, who, starting up from amongst the people, were to
rule them for their own happiness alone, and to show to other monarchs
the immense advantages of such a sway!

"But if you speak of this land," replied Albert Maurice, in whose
heart he had discovered the unfortified spot--"but if you speak of
this land, how can any man so start up, without tearing her
inheritance from the gentlest, the noblest of beings?"

"By one means alone," answered Ganay, in a grave, decided tone; "by
uniting her fate with his own."

Albert Maurice, thrown off his guard by so bold and straightforward an
allusion to that which was passing in his own heart, suddenly drew in
his rein, and glanced his eye over the countenance of the druggist, to
see if there were no sneer at the presumption of his very dreams,
hidden beneath the calm tone which the other assumed. But all was
tranquil, and even stern; and, after a momentary pause, the young
burgher replied, though with a flushed and burning cheek--"If--as we
know her to be--she is so gentle, and noble, and kind-hearted, as you
admit, why not leave her to rule her hereditary lands by the dictates
of her generous will?"

"What! before a year be over," cried Ganay, "to give her hand, and
with it the wealth, and welfare, and happiness of her people, to some
of the proud tyrants under which the country groans; or, at the
instigation of her intriguing ministers, to bestow the whole upon some
foreign prince, who will come amongst us without one sympathy, to
grind into the dust the stranger subjects given him like serfs, as a
part of his wife's portion! Is this what you would have?"

Albert Maurice was silent, but not so Ganay; and as they proceeded,
with poisonous eloquence he poured forth every argument, to show both
the necessity and the facility of the course he suggested. He cited
Artevelde, as an instance of what talented ambition had accomplished
in that very city, and in an age when all the institutions of feudal
pride were a thousand-fold stricter than they had since become. He
depicted him, now a lackey in a noble house in France, and then a
mead-brewer in Ghent, and then a popular leader, and then a companion
of kings, seated beside the conquering and accomplished Edward of
England, treating as a prince with Philip of France, waging war at the
head of mighty armies, and balancing the fate of Europe by his power.
He had fallen, at length, he said, it was true; but he had fallen by
his vices and his follies; and as far as virtues, talents, courage, or
accomplishments, went, could Artevelde compete, for one hour, with the
man to whom he then spoke. The one was a lackey, risen from the lowest
order of the state, the other sprang from the highest class of the
burghers of the first commercial city in the north of Europe--burghers
who already ranked almost with nobility, and who, in fact, should rank
far higher.

With the skill of a practised musician, whose finger lights with nice
precision on all the tones and half tones of his instruments, Ganay
found means to touch every feeling in the bosom of the young burgher,
and make every chord vibrate with the sound that he desired. True it
is, indeed, that the heart of Albert Maurice was not one to have been
thus worked upon, had not the feelings been already there; and the
task of his companion--an easy one in comparison--was merely to excite
those feelings into stronger action.

At length they reached the door of his own dwelling; and Albert
Maurice alighted from his horse, without asking the druggist to do so
too. But Ganay rode on contented; for he saw that he had given the
young citizen matter for thoughts which sought to be indulged in
private, and he desired no better. Nor had his words failed to sink
deep. Albert Maurice, indeed, passed rapidly over, in his own mind,
all the intermediate steps; but there rested behind, as a result, the
proud, the inspiring conviction, that all which he chose to snatch at
was within his grasp--that in one single day he had reached a height
of power, from which it was but a step to the side of Mary of
Burgundy; and the conviction was a dangerous one for his virtue and
his peace. Much, however, was still to be done; and he sat down to
revolve all that must be attempted and effected, in order to render
the daring hopes of mingled love and ambition, with which his own
heart beat, a passion of the people--to crush, or scatter, or
circumvent the many rivals that must and would arise--and to win the
love of her, upon whose affections all his dreams were founded. For
the latter object, he felt that it was necessary to bury deep in his
own heart the aspirations which rose within it, till manifold
communings, service, and tenderness, should have ripened the esteem,
in which he saw he was held, into warmer feelings. Thus he pondered,
till, before he was aware, schemes were formed, and deeds were
prepared, which all eternity could not annul.

The following days passed much in the same manner; but each day
brought forward to the light some of the many difficulties with which
the young citizen was destined to contend in his progress towards the
great object before his eyes, but which, having calculated upon them
from the first, he was prepared to meet as soon as they assumed a
tangible form. During the course of the morning which followed the day
of his elevation to the supreme power in the city, the levy of a large
body of troops was voted, and the entire command was assigned to
himself: but, before night, the Lord of Ravestein, the Duke of Cleves,
and the Bishop of Liege arrived, to counsel and support the princess;
and though each came separately, their trains, united, amounted to
nearly a thousand men. A wary guard, however, was held upon the gates
of Ghent, and only thirty attendants were allowed to pass within the
walls in company with each of the noble visitors; while, much to the
discontent of their lords, the rest were sent back to their various

A new scene of intrigue immediately followed the arrival of these
princes in the palace; and it soon reached the ears of Albert Maurice,
that the Duke of Cleves was moving heaven and earth to obtain the hand
of the orphan Princess of Burgundy for his son. Almost at the same
time, good Martin Fruse received intelligence, from a quarter which we
already know, that Louis XI. sought to unite France and Burgundy, by a
union between the heiress of Charles the Bold and his sickly child,
the Dauphin; and it soon became evident, that Imbercourt and Hugonet,
supported by the Lord of Ravestein, were eagerly pressing Mary to
sacrifice her own feelings to the benefit of her country, and to
bestow her hand upon the feeble boy.

Clear, however--most clear, it was, both to Albert Maurice and to the
druggist Ganay, that while these parties contended for mastery, they
must equally court the people of Ghent, and more especially must bow
to the young citizen himself, whose power they all well knew, and
whose designs they did not suspect. Of neither of the parties at the
court did Albert Maurice at first entertain much fear; for he felt
sure that the heart of Mary of Burgundy, however tutored to sacrifice
her own will, would strongly revolt against either alliance--the one
with a fierce and brutal sot--the other with a sickly child. But
tidings speedily arrived, which made him fear that force or terror
would soon compel the unhappy girl to yield herself to France. News
now reached him that Louis was already in the field, that Picardy was
full of the troops of France, and that Commines and Bourbon were
advancing along the line of the Somme. An ambassador, too, he was
warned at the same time, was on his way from France to Ghent; and to
show the young citizen that he was sent rather to tamper with the
people, than to negotiate with the princess, or even with the
municipal council, copies of his commission and instructions readied
Albert Maurice from an unknown source, together with an assurance that
some days would yet elapse before he could appear at the gates.

The near approach of the ambassador, whom we have already seen delayed
on his journey, remained unknown in the palace; but hourly tidings
were received of the progress of the French king, and of his unjust
claims upon the whole inheritance of the late Duke of Burgundy. The
pretences he set forth were so futile and absurd--so contrary to every
principle of law or justice, that every one believed his sole object
was to force the heiress of Burgundy into an immediate marriage with
his son. Imbercourt, Hugonet, and all the ministers of the late duke,
saw his proceedings in the same point of view, and incessantly
besought the unhappy Mary to yield to her fate, and, before her
dominions were entirely incorporated with France, to avert the
misfortunes that must fall upon herself and her people, by yielding
her hand to the Dauphin.

The same conclusion in regard to the motives of Louis XI. was drawn by
the Duke of Cleves; but the result on his own conduct was totally
different. Instead of beseeching Mary to yield to necessity, he
opposed such advice with determined and angry vehemence. He
stigmatized Hugonet and Imbercourt as traitors; and, in order to
destroy the powerful party opposed to his own views in the council of
the princess, he laid himself out to court the people; rode side by
side with Albert Maurice through the streets of the city, amidst the
shouts of the multitude; and, after having excited the municipal body
to petition that their president might have a seat in the provincial
council of Flanders, he himself presented the address, which he knew
that neither Mary nor her ministers dared to refuse.

Albert Maurice, however, suffered himself not to be dazzled; and
though joy inexpressible thrilled at his heart at every triumphant
step he took in advance; though his whole soul rejoiced at the
constant opportunity now afforded him of daily communication with her
he dared to love; yet he allowed neither passion nor success for a
moment to relax his energies or his watchfulness; and he yielded to
the pretensions of the Duke of Cleves in favour of his son, only so
far as might stay the precipitate haste with which the French alliance
might otherwise have been concluded.

With Imbercourt he clashed continually; and the firm, calm reasoning
of the minister was constantly met and overpowered by the fiery and
brilliant eloquence of the young citizen. Nor was he, even in opposing
her faithful and her esteemed minister, without deriving some
encouragement from the eyes of Mary herself, whenever the discussion
took place in her presence; for though she both loved and reverenced
the wise and gallant friend of her father, who advocated, for her own
interests, the proposed union with the Dauphin; yet to her heart that
union was so repugnant, that she could not but look with pleasure on
every one who opposed it, nor listen without delight to arguments
which gave her new courage to resist.

Nor did Albert Maurice ever support the idea of her marriage with
another; so that while advancing his own design, and winning both her
gratitude and admiration, he was never found in opposition to her
wishes; and still, when he appeared, she welcomed his coming with a
smile and with a look of pleasure, which, without the slightest
purpose of deceit, served painfully to deceive.

Nevertheless, the Duke of Cleves made rapid progress; and, not
contented with the efforts of the young citizen to oppose the French
alliance, he left no means untried to stimulate the people to support
his own design. The watchful eye of Albert Maurice was indeed upon
him, but still his strides towards the accomplishment of his schemes
were more speedy than the other had anticipated; and the cries he
heard, when riding, one day, towards the palace, of "Long live the
Duke of Cleves! Long live his gallant son!" showed him at once that it
was time to raise up some barrier against his pretensions. At the same
time, he felt, that to give even a slight support to the opposite
party might prove fatal to his hopes; and, after a long consultation
with Ganay, he determined to seek out some one who might openly
pretend to Mary's hand, and draw away the countenance of the people
from the Duke of Cleves; but whose pretensions would be even more
repugnant, not only to herself, but to her ministers, her friends, and
her nobles, than even his own might prove at an after-period. But who
was to be the man?

Accompanied by the crowd of attendants, who now always followed his
footsteps when he rode forth, as chief magistrate of Ghent, Albert
Maurice hastened to the palace, some minutes before the council met,
and was admitted to the presence of the princess, whose smile gave him
even a more glad reception than ordinary. She was not alone, however;
for besides her usual train of ladies, a page, a chamberlain, and a
man dressed as a peasant, but whose scarred cheek told tales of
warlike broils, stood before her when he entered.

"Oh! you are most welcome, Sir President," said the princess, "and
have come to afford me counsel at a good moment. Here is a ring just
returned to me, which I gave some months ago to a stranger who saved
me, I believe, from death, in a thunderstorm, near Tirlemont. I
promised, at the same time, that on his sending it back, I would grant
whatever he might ask, if it were consistent with my honour and my
dignity. Look what he says on this slip of parchment. 'He, to whom the
Duchess of Burgundy gave this ring, demands, as the boon of which it
was a pledge, the instant liberation of Adolphus, Duke of Gueldres,
and his restoration to his own domains.'"

Albert Maurice almost started; for there was a strange coincidence
between the demand which the princess had just read, and the thoughts
which had been passing in his mind as he rode thither. "Lady," he
said, "it seems to me that there is but one counsel to be given you.
Your word is plighted; the liberation of the Duke of Gueldres--monster
though he be, _is_ consistent with your honour and dignity; and your
promise must be fulfilled."

"You always judge nobly, Sir President," replied the princess; "and I
thank you now, and ever shall thank you, for supporting that which is
just and generous, however contrary it may be to apparent interests."

"Believe me, madam," replied the young citizen, bending low to conceal
the joy that sparkled in his eyes, "believe me that it shall ever be
my endeavour both to forward your best interests and those of the
country, which are, indeed, inseparable; and I would ask you as a
boon, through all the future, whatever you may see or think strange in
my demeanour, to rest assured that your good and my country's are
still the motive."

"I will--I will, indeed," replied the Princess; "for it would be hard
to make me suppose that you, whom I have seen act so nobly in
circumstances of personal danger and difficulty, would forget your
honour and integrity, when trusted by our countrymen and your

A slight flush passed over the cheek of Albert Maurice, at such
praise. It was not exactly that he knew himself undeserving of it, for
he had laboured hard and successfully to convince his own mind that
his aggrandizement, the welfare of the country--ay, and he almost
hoped, the happiness of Mary herself, were inseparably united. He
replied, however--not with words of course, for his lightest thoughts
were seldom commonplace--but vaguely; and, after a few questions
addressed to the man who bore the ring, which he seemed unwilling to
answer, the princess rendered her promise to liberate the Duke of
Gueldres definite, and the messenger was suffered to depart.

At the meeting of the council, which followed immediately, the matter
was discussed and concluded, and the orders to set the duke at liberty
were instantly despatched. They were accompanied, however, by an
express command from the princess--whose abhorrence for that base,
unnatural son, turbulent subject, and faithless friend, was
unconcealed--that he should immediately retire to his own domains, and
never present himself before her.

Most important matters occupied the council also. New tidings had been
received from the frontiers; and all those tidings were evil. No doubt
could now exist, that while his principal officers were invading the
Duchy of Burgundy in the east, Louis XI., with an overwhelming force,
was marching onward towards Flanders, taking possession of all those
fair lands which had descended to the unhappy princess at the death of
her father, and meeting with little opposition on his way. Already
Abbeville had thrown open its gates. Ham, Bohain, St. Quentin, Roye,
and Montdidier, had followed; and Peronne--proud impregnable
Peronne--had been yielded at the first summons.

Again the Lord of Imbercourt boldly and strongly urged the absolute
necessity of propitiating the King of France, and arresting his
farther progress, by the immediate union, or at least affiancing, of
the Princess of Burgundy and the heir of the French crown. It was the
only means, he said--it was the only hope of preserving any part of
the dominions, which, by various events, had been united under the
coronet of Burgundy; and was it not better, he asked, for the princess
to carry them as a dowry to her husband, than to come portionless to
the same prince at last, and receive the honour of his alliance as a
matter of grace and favour?

"My lords," replied Albert Maurice, rising as soon as the other had
sat down, "already a thousand times have you heard my arguments
against the base and ungenerous step proposed; often have I shown, by
reasoning, that the interests of France and Burgundy are as distinct
as it is possible to conceive, and that centuries must elapse before
they can be united. But, if such be the case with the duchy of
Burgundy itself, and all its immediate dependencies, how much more so
is it the case with Flanders and Brabant. With England, the eternal
enemy of France, has ever been our great commercial intercourse; to
our friendship with England do we owe our commercial existence; and
the moment that this land is united to the enemy of that great
country, that moment our wealth, our prosperity, our being a distinct
land, is at an end. All this I have shown, taking a mere political
view: but remembering that I spoke to knights and nobles, to men who
can feel for national honour, and fear national disgrace, I have also
pointed out the shame--the burning shame--it would be in the eyes of
all Christendom, the moment that your bold and gallant prince is dead,
to truckle to his often worsted enemy; to yield to Louis the lands
which Charles the Bold so stoutly maintained against him; and to give
his daughter's hand to the son of that base foe, whose dark and
traitorous intrigues effected, more than aught on earth, your
sovereign's overthrow and death. Already have I demanded why, instead
of all those degrading concessions, you do not prepare defences in the
field: and why, rather than talk of yielding tamely to an unjust
tyrant, you do not go forth to encounter him with lance and sword,
as in the days of the great duke? But now I must use another
language--language more bold and more decided--and say that Flanders,
Hainault, and Brabant, will never consent to be the slaves of
France: France, who has so often wronged us, and whose efforts, vain
as they have been, have never ceased to grasp at the dominion of these
lands. More! I say--and by my voice the three united states now speak
to the councils of Burgundy--that we will consider and pursue, as a
false and perfidious traitor, bought with the gold of France to betray
his lady's interest, that man, whoever he may be, who henceforth
proposes the subjection of these lands to a French prince."

The Duke of Cleves eagerly supported the bold speech of the young
citizen, as did also the Bishop of Liege, more perhaps from personal
hatred to Imbercourt, than from any real disapprobation of the French
alliance. Warm and violent words passed on all parts; and the
discussion had reached a pitch of dangerous turbulence, when it was
announced that the Count de Meulan, envoy extraordinary from the King
of France, had just entered the city, and taken up his abode at the
principal inn of the place.

This news gave a different turn to the deliberations of the council;
and after determining that the reception of the ambassador should take
place the following day, the assembly broke up; and its various
members separated, with those feelings of personal animosity burning
in their bosoms, which have so often proved fatal to great designs.


About seven o'clock at night, a post arrived in Ghent, bearing the
unwelcome intelligence that Hesden, Montreul, Boulogne, Cambray, and
many other places, had yielded to the arms of France; that Philippe de
Crevec[oe]ur, the oldest and most tried servant of the house of
Burgundy, had gone over to the enemy; and that Arras itself was lost
to Flanders. Such were the tidings that reached Albert Maurice, while
busily debating with Ganay, in a private chamber of the Hotel de
Ville, the means of raising, as rapidly as possible, a large force for
the defence of the country.

The messenger delivered the sealed packets into the hands of the young
President, with notice that they were of the utmost importance; but,
ere he opened them, Albert Maurice dismissed the bearer calmly, and
finished the phrase which his entrance had interrupted. He then broke
the seals, and read; but as he proceeded, notwithstanding his great
command over his own feelings, it was clear, from the contraction of
his brow, and the quivering of his lip, that the tale therein written
was anything but pleasing.

Casting them on the table, after a moment's deep thought, the young
citizen laid his hand sternly upon the papers, and approaching the
lamp towards them, pointed to the fatal tidings from Arras, saying to
his keen companion--"This is sad! this is terrible! We must, if
possible, keep this from the knowledge of the council, till this
pitiful ambassador has had his reply."

Ganay read the contents of the papers over, word by word; then raising
his eyes to the face of his companion, and compressing his thin,
bloodless lips, he replied, calmly but sternly--"Imbercourt must die!"

Albert Maurice started. "No, no! not so," replied he; "I am not one of
those tigers, Ganay, to cross whose path is death. He may oppose me in
the council; he may even thwart me in my plans; and yet not die,
Ganay. But if he betray my country, his deed be upon his head. I will
crush him with my heel, as I would a viper."

"Imbercourt must die!" reiterated Ganay, in the same stern, determined
tone he had used before. "He _will_ betray _your_ country and
_mine_--and he dies. I have marked him well, I see his plans. He, like
the traitors who have gone over before, will sell his country to
France for French gold; and he must die. The only difference between
him and this Philippe de Crevec[oe]ur is, that the one, less cunning
than the other, went over with nothing but his own brute courage to
sell; while this Imbercourt, take my word for it, will carry, as
merchandise to Louis of France, the hand of Mary of Burgundy, and the
coronet of all these states."

"Never!" cried Albert Maurice, stung to the heart, as the other had
intended, and striking his clenched hand upon the table; "never! My
head or his shall whiten in the wind over the battlements of Ghent,
before such a sacrifice be consummated."

The moment he had spoken, however, he felt that he had given Ganay an
advantage; and well understanding that the game between him and his
subtle comrade was one that admitted of no oversight, and that he must
be as much upon his guard with his apparent friend as with a declared
enemy, he hastened to turn the conversation from a topic on which he
could not speak wisely. "We must think farther," he said; "we must
think farther! In the meantime," he added, abruptly, "see you to this
messenger, and ensure that he do not spread his news abroad before the
reception of the worthy ambassador whom Louis has deigned to send. I
have that in yon cabinet which shall overthrow, at a word, all that
his cunning can advance, were he as cunning as the fiend whose name he
takes. At the same time, Ganay, I must trust to your zeal also, my
friend, for the skilful management of our other purpose. This Duke of
Gueldres you must render popular with the citizens, and oppose him
strongly to the Duke of Cleves. Not too far, however. I would equally
divide between them the power that the Duke of Cleves at present holds
entire. Better it were, nevertheless, that the people over-favoured
him of Gueldres, than the other; for he has no hope. Every noble in
the land would rise up against him; and, at the worst, it were but
three passes of this steel," and he touched the hilt of his sword, "to
send him howling to the place he has so long deserved; and to win me
the thanks of all the world, for ridding it of such a monster."

Notwithstanding all his care, Albert Maurice felt, and felt angrily,
that the eager passions of his heart would burst forth and display
more of his real feelings and emotions than he was willing to expose.
Ganay smiled, too, as he listened; and with his smiles there was
always mingled a degree of mockery of the person who excited them,
which rendered their meaning very doubtful.

"May I trust you?" demanded Albert Maurice, sternly.

"You may," answered the druggist. "Doubt me not; for with you, Albert
Maurice, I am more frank a thousand-fold than with any other human
being. We are like two men playing one game of chess, against a whole
host of adversaries; and it is necessary that we should see each
other's moves. Your game I know, Albert; and mine I do not seek to
conceal from you; for it would be both useless and fatiguing. I will,
then, do your bidding in regard to these two men of Cleves and
Gueldres; and so play them off against each other, that they shall
both combine, in their dissensions, to raise you to the height of your

He spoke boldly; and Albert Maurice felt that, for once at least, he
spoke truly. He saw, indeed, that although they were in some sort
partners in the game, as Ganay had depicted them, yet they were
playing for different stakes, and might soon find that they had
different interests.

"And when this game is won, Ganay," said he, calmly, after a brief
pause, "this game in which you and I stand as partners, say, are we to
turn round the board, and singly play one short game more, against
each other? Ha! is it not so?"

"No; on my life!" replied Ganay, with a degree of fervour unusual with
him. "No, on my life, young man. I have my passions, like my
neighbours; but I am without ambition. Do _you_, too, believe me
without a touch of feeling? You have shown me kindness in times past:
you once saved the life of one that is now no more; three years ago
you held my head when it throbbed with fever, when we were together on
the shores of the Adriatic: and if you cross not my purpose, if you
oppose not the stronger passion, which guides, and struggles with, and
masters all, you shall find that my gratitude is only second to my
revenge. Even more," he added, resuming his ordinary air of calm
shrewdness: "I can even grateful for those things which I accomplish
by your means, though without your will; and our common efforts for
one great purpose bind us together more firmly than you think. So,
now, farewell! but remember, I tell you Imbercourt is a traitor, and
he must die!"

"If he be a traitor, die most certainly he shall," replied Albert
Maurice; "but in regard to that man, I mistrust my own motives too
much to rely on my own judgment. More, Ganay! still more! I mistrust
your motives, too; and I will not rely on your judgment either. Nay,
protest not! I see your bitter persevering hatred of that man as
clearly as if your bosom were of glass, though I see not the occasion
of it. But it matters not what be the occasion. I doubt myself, and I
doubt you; and others, more impartial than either you or I, shall
judge him, though, God knows, I know no cause of enmity you can have
towards him. So now, farewell."

Ganay's lip curled with a very mingled expression, as Albert Maurice
pronounced the last words, but he made no reply; and, leaving the
young citizen, he proceeded to confer with the messenger who had
lately arrived, and then held a long and secret conference with
Maillotin du Bac.

The post that brought such unwelcome tidings from the frontier supped
well at the Maison de Ville, and, resting his weary limbs upon his
bed, soon found the sweet sleep of fatigue; nor did he ever stir from
the precincts of the building. No one saw him without its gates; no
one held conference with him within, except in the presence of Ganay
himself. Nevertheless, before an hour had passed, the whole news he
had brought were known to Imbercourt, and were by him carried straight
to the princess. How it reached him it were hard to say, for no post
came to the Cours du Prince from that quarter, but still he had
learned it all. Not a word had escaped him, the whole evil tidings
were known, and the consternation was excited which Albert Maurice had
been so desirous of warding off, till the ambassador from France had
been received and dismissed. The views of the young citizen in this
desire were certainly partly patriotic and partly personal; but his
immediate object was to send back the messenger of the deceitful Louis
with such a reply as would render the project of a union between
France and Burgundy hopeless. Every fresh success of the French king
of course strengthened the arguments of those who advocated the
marriage of Mary with the Dauphin; and this torrent of evil tidings
was well calculated to overpower all opposition.

Such had been the light in which Albert Maurice had seen the effect
likely to be produced by the progress of Louis; but in vain, however,
did he take measures to conceal it. Each event, rather magnified than
otherwise, reached the ears of Imbercourt, and by him were that very
night detailed to Mary herself. Tidings had arrived in Ghent, not long
before, that almost the whole of the duchy of Burgundy also had been
overrun by French troops; and this, together with the unresisted
advance of the King of France on the side of Flanders, the total loss
of Picardy, Artois, and the Boulonnois, the desertion of her friends,
the turbulence of her subjects, and the power of her enemies, overcame
at length the unhappy girl's hopes and her firmness. After a long
conference with Imbercourt and her chancellor, as well as with her
cousin, the Lord of Ravestein, and her best of friends, Margaret, her
father's widow, in an evil hour Mary consented to send the two former
on a mission to the base monarch who was usurping her inheritance.

Under their dictation, with a trembling hand, she wrote part of a
letter to Louis XI.; but where she came to give them power to treat of
her alliance with France, her feelings overpowered her, and the tears
gushing from her eyes, obscured her sight.

"Give me the pen, my sweet child," said Margaret of York. "My Lord of
Ravestein and myself, your two nearest relatives and friends, will
each write a part under your direction: so shall the document acquire
additional weight, as showing the wishes of so many persons."

This was accordingly done, and Mary calmly heard a paper read, which
she felt was binding her to misery for life. With a hurried hand she
signed her name, but she could bear no more, and hastened from the

"Poor child!" said Margaret of York. "Poor child. But now, my Lord of
Imbercourt, lose not a moment. No communication with this coming
ambassador will answer our purpose. You must see Louis himself; and
treat with himself, and put forth all your wisdom to meet all his
cunning. Hasten to Peronne; fear not to bloody your spurs on the road,
for not a minute that flies, till you are before the King of France,
may not serve to recall this most necessary paper."

While this determination was adopted by the counsellors, Mary was
followed from the room by Alice of Imbercourt; and the moment she had
reached her chamber, that princess cast herself upon the bosom of her
fair attendant, and wept most bitterly. "Fear not, madam," whispered
Alice, "fear not! You shall yet wed him you love."

Mary had never acknowledged her lingering hopes even to Alice of
Imbercourt, perhaps hardly to her own heart. But now the more vehement
passion overcame the milder feeling, and timidity was forgotten in
grief. "Never, Alice! never!" sobbed Mary; "I have just signed away my
last and only chance!"

"Fear not!" again repeated the young lady. "Do you remember, madam,
when you would not read the scheme of your future fate in the castle
of Hannut?"

"Well, very well!" replied Mary, raising her head and drying her eyes;
"what then, my Alice?"

"Do you remember, then, that I stayed behind," continued her
companion, "when you quitted my uncle's observatory? Well; I remained
long enough to give you consolation even now; for I saw there written,
that the coronet of an archduchess was to bind the brow of my fair

Mary drew a deep and doubtful sigh; but there was a bright blush rose
also in her cheek, which might seem an augury of hope; and it were
false to say that she did not derive some comfort even from the
predictions of a science, which, since the excitement of her visit to
the castle of Hannut had worn away, she could hardly be said to

At that period, however, each day of the life of Mary of Burgundy was
a day of renewed care and anxiety; and the proceedings of the next
morning opened with the tedious and painful ceremony of receiving the
ambassador from the French monarch.

At the hour appointed it was announced that the Count de Meulan
waited, and Mary took her seat in state, with the Bishop of Liege on
one hand and the Duke of Cleves on the other, while Albert Maurice and
various members of the council stood round. It had struck the young
citizen, however, as soon as he entered the hall of audience, that
neither Imbercourt nor Hugonet, the two chief supporters of what was
called the French party, were present; and it appeared to him not a
little extraordinary that they should be absent, if in the town, when
such an opportunity for showing their respect to the King of France
occurred, as the public reception of his envoy. During the time that
elapsed between his own arrival and the introduction of the
ambassador, he asked frequently, but in vain, for the absent
counsellors, and on every movement near the door looked for their
appearance, supposing that the business of the day could not or would
not proceed without their presence. He was not a little surprised,
however, when the order for admitting the Count de Meulan was at
length given in their absence.

The doors were soon thrown open; and, dressed in the excess of
splendour, but with a certain crouching and stealthy pace, habitual to
the barber of the most cunning king in Europe, Olivier le Dain entered
the hall, and approached the chair of the princess. After the ceremony
of his introduction, which he went through, not without grace, but
without dignity, the ambassador was commanded to deliver his letters,
which he accordingly did. These were found to be in full and correct
form, and he was then directed to state the purport of his embassy,
and what he was charged to communicate to the Princess of Burgundy,
from her cousin the King of France.

Here, however, the envoy hesitated; and, after a moment's thought,
replied in a low, soft voice, that he was directed by his master,
Louis, the most Christian king, to explain his views and wishes to his
beloved cousin and god-daughter, the Princess Mary, in private, and to
her alone. He therefore, he said, craved a private audience, in which
his communication should be more full and complete.

The Bishop of Liege--whose territories lay too close to the French
frontier, and whose interests were too nearly connected with those of
France to suffer him to feel any great personal interest in the
distinct rights of the House of Burgundy--had hitherto been the person
who spoke on the part of the princess. He of course had evinced every
sort of respect for the ambassador of the French King; but at this
point the Duke of Cleves broke in; and with a haughty and contemptuous
tone, informed the Count de Meulan, that what he demanded was not
consistent with the customs of the court of Burgundy. He must,
therefore, he said, declare openly his errand to the princess
surrounded by her council, for no other course of proceeding could be

Again the ambassador hesitated: uttering several sentences, from
which, though loaded with fine and sounding words, and gilded with a
show of argument, all that could be gathered was, that the open
communication required by the council was contrary to his monarch's
commands. He then seemed about to retire; but at that moment Albert
Maurice advanced a little before the rest, and craved leave to explain
the object and views of the ambassador, which that functionary seemed
to have so much difficulty in doing for himself. The assembled court,
and the ambassador likewise, gazed on him with some surprise; but the
young citizen proceeded.

"In the first place," he said, "your Grace will be glad to hear, who
is the noble envoy whom that mighty monarch, Louis, King of France,
thinks fit to send to the court of Burgundy: to the daughter of that
great prince who overthrew him in the field by valour and skill, and
who foiled him in the cabinet by decision and boldness. Allow me, in
the man who calls himself Count de Meulan, to introduce to your notice
Olivier le Dain, or by some called Le Mechant, barber to the most
Christian King, born at Thielt, and serving as a barber's boy at
Saarvelt, near this city."

A roar of laughter burst from the nobles of Burgundy; and Albert
Maurice proceeded, waving his hand to the doorkeepers to prevent the
barber from making his exit too rapidly. "Do not let the worthy
ambassador depart till he has heard me explain the object of his
coming. I hold here in my hand, by the favour of some unknown friend
who sent these papers to me, a copy of the private instructions of the
King of France to the _Barber Ambassador_, which direct him, strictly,
to keep the princess and the court of Burgundy engaged in long and
tedious negotiations, while he strives in private to persuade the
people of Ghent to invite the King of France to enter their territory.
He is further ordered to spare no means, neither money nor promises,
to make the good men of this city declare for the King of France, and
throw off the authority of their lawful sovereign. To this, by your
Grace's permission, I, as the only individual of the burgher class in
this presence, will take upon me to reply, that Louis, King of France,
mistakes entirely the character and disposition of the men of Ghent;
for, though they may be anxious to preserve their own liberties and
privileges, they are no less anxious to preserve the legitimate
authority of their sovereign; and, though they are never disposed to
submit to tyranny from their own princes, they are no less determined
to resist all foreign domination. Let him learn that he can neither
buy us with his gold, nor fool us with his promises; and that his
intrigues and offers will be equally in vain with the men of Ghent. It
is for you, my lords," he continued, turning to the members of the
council present, "as older men, and more experienced in the ways of
courts than myself, it is for you to judge what course ought to be
pursued towards a man who comes as ambassador to a sovereign prince,
and, at the same time, undertakes to seduce the subjects of that
prince from their allegiance; who approaches the presence of an
oppressed princess, from the man who is robbing her of her territories
and massacring her subjects, affecting in words and in style to
negotiate with her as the messenger of a friend and a relation, while
his real errand is to excite treason amongst her people, and to bribe
her citizens to revolt. It is for you, my lords, I say, to judge what
is to be done with the caitiff who undertakes such a commission for
such a man!"

"Nail his ears to the door-post!" cried the Lord of Vere, an impetuous
noble of North Zealand.

"Throw him into the river!" cried the Duke of Cleves; "such treatment
does he well deserve."

Various other pleasant modes of disposing of the person of the barber
ambassador were suggested by different members of the council,
probably without any intention of carrying them into effect. They were
not, however, without producing some impression, and that of no very
agreeable nature, upon the mind of Olivier le Dain himself. That
worthy personage had listened to the speech of Albert Maurice in
downcast silence. No flush betrayed his agitation or shame, though his
lip quivered a little, and at one time he took two or three steps
towards the door. But when he heard the many unceremonious methods of
treatment proposed, he gradually crept back till he was within a step
of the entrance of the chamber. His face was still turned towards the
council; and he still seemed listening attentively to the somewhat
bitter strictures which were passing upon his own conduct; but he
showed no inclination to retreat farther than was absolutely necessary
to keep himself out of the reach of violent hands, so that the
doorkeepers were off their guard. As the Duke of Cleves spoke, the
barber paused and listened, gave a furtive glance over his shoulder;
and then, without any effort towards taking leave, he darted out of
the presence at once, reached the court-yard, mounted his horse, and
galloped away to the inn where he had lodged.

Before he arrived at that building, however, he began to feel that his
apprehensions of personal violence had probably been a little too
hasty; and a loud laugh, which he remembered to have heard, as he
quitted the audience-hall, confirmed him in that opinion. The calm
reflection of a few hours, during which he seemed totally forgotten by
the whole town, refreshed his courage and re-animated his hopes; and,
therefore, not to abandon his purpose without another effort, he
ventured to ride out in the evening; but the moment that he presented
himself in the streets, he was greeted with so much mockery and
laughter, that he soon found the attempt would be vain. A full account
of his birth and situation had been industriously circulated amongst
the people during the day; and as nothing excites the hatred and
contempt of the populace more than to see a person sprung from amongst
themselves, affecting the airs and splendour of a class above them,
they were all prepared to shower upon his head every sort of ridicule
and abuse. No sooner did he appear than this determination to insult
and annoy him in every different way, began to manifest itself among
the people. One held a pewter basin before his horse's head; another
lifted up his rugged chin, and begged that his highness would shave
him, just to keep his hand in; and a third exclaimed, that he must not
think to lead the people of Ghent by the nose, though he might often
have taken the King of France by that organ.

Just while he was turning away from these unpleasant salutations, in
order to return as fast as possible to his hotel, some shouts met his
ear, which seemed rapidly coming nearer, and in a moment after he
perceived half a dozen horsemen cantering easily down the street, with
a number of men and boys running by the sides of the horses, shouting
loudly, "Long live the Duke of Gueldres! long live the noble Duke of
Gueldres!" The horseman at their head was a powerful handsome man, of
about fifty, with a coarse and bold expression of countenance, but
still possessing that easy air of dignity and command, which is a part
of the education of princes. Some one, as the cavalcade approached,
recognising the person of the French ambassador by his splendid dress
and gaudy train, shouted out the name and various opposite occupations
of Master Olivier le Dain; and the Duke of Gueldres, dashing on, drove
his horse rudely against that of the unfortunate barber, which reared
with the stroke, and almost plunged him into the canal, near which
they were riding.

"Ha, ha! Master Barber," shouted the Duke, in the rough and brutal
tone which he usually employed, when he had no purpose to answer which
might require softer speech; "thou canst never shave without water,
man, but there is plenty in the canal."

The populace roared their applause; and while Olivier le Dain, keeping
his seat with difficulty, made the best of his way back to his inn,
and thence for ever out of the gates of Ghent, the Duke of Gueldres
rode on, nor stopped till he sprang from his horse at the house of
Albert Maurice.

Representatives from all the different cities of that part of Belgium
which was then under the dominion of Burgundy, had arrived in Ghent
the day before; and at the moment when the Duke of Gueldres
approached, the young President was in the act of despatching a
deputation to Louis XI. then encamped at Arras. Albert Maurice, be it
remarked, went not himself; but at the head of the deputation, on the
part of Ghent, was the druggist Ganay.

The Duke of Gueldres found the street before the young citizen's
house crowded with horses and horse boys; and the different chambers
of the house itself filled with the attendants of the deputies and
the officers of the city--messengers, visitors, soldiers, and
spectators--displayed a spectacle more like the palace of a sovereign
prince than the house of a simple merchant in a Flemish town.

"By my faith," the Duke muttered, as he walked on amidst robes, and
embroidery, and gold chains, and furred gowns, "times have strangely
changed with the good city of Ghent, since that cursed tyrant shut me
up in his old stone rat-trap. Which is Albert Maurice?" he then
demanded of a merchant who was passing out; "which is the grand
bailli--which is the president of the municipal council?"

"Yonder he stands at the head of the table," replied the merchant,
"speaking with the deputies of Utrecht and Bruges."

At that moment the eye of the young citizen fell upon the Duke of
Gueldres; and--though he was unannounced, and Albert Maurice had never
beheld him before--either from having heard his personal appearance
described, or from having seen some picture of him, the burgher at
once recognised the prince, and advanced a step or two to meet him.

The Duke of Gueldres was surprised to behold so young a man chosen
from amongst the jealous and factious citizens of Ghent, to wield the
chief authority of the city, to fill two of the most important
offices, and to influence so strongly the councils of all Flanders;
but he was still more surprised to find that high and dignified tone
in the merchant, which so well became his station. He had been
prepared to see the president in possession of vast power, but he now
perceived that his power was greatly derived from his superiority to
his class, and he at once saw the necessity of suiting his demeanour,
for the time at least, to the man. With a degree of suavity which no
one knew better how to assume, when it answered his purpose, than
Adolphus, Duke of Gueldres, that base and brutal prince, now, with his
manner softened down to an appearance of mere generous frankness,
thanked the young citizen for his liberation, and told him that he had
good reason to know that the happy event was solely owing to his

Albert Maurice at once gracefully complimented the duke on his
enlargement, and disclaimed all title to gratitude for an act which,
he said, emanated from the princess herself. He had, he acknowledged,
strongly advised her to the course she had pursued, when she had
condescended to consult him upon the subject; but he assured the duke
that she had first spoken of her kinsman's liberation, before he had
ventured to propose such a proceeding.

"Well, well," replied the duke, "I knew not that my fair cousin was so
generous, but I will kiss her pretty cheek in token of my thanks,
which, perhaps, she will think no unpleasant way of showing one's

The blood rushed up to the temples of the young citizen; but he made
no reply, and merely bowed low. He then begged the Duke to excuse him
for a few moments, while he concluded the business in which he had
been engaged. The prince replied that he would detain him no longer;
and Albert Maurice, with cold and formal courtesy, suffered him to
depart--from that moment either a secret or an avowed enemy. As soon
as he was gone, the young citizen took leave of the deputies, besought
them to make all speed to meet the king, and directed them to beg
him--instead of hastening on to plunge the two nations into long and
sanguinary wars--to halt his armies, till such time as the states
general could devise and propose to his majesty some fair means of
general pacification.

He then gave into the hands of Ganay a letter, fully authorizing the
deputation to treat, in the name of the princess, which instrument had
been unwillingly wrung from Mary during the morning, notwithstanding
the secret powers which she had so lately given to Imbercourt and
Hugonet. To this Albert Maurice added a private injunction, to trace
and discover all the movements of the two ministers, whose absence
from the council of that day he had remarked: and there was a sort of
fierce and flashing eagerness in the eye of the young citizen, as he
spoke this in a low whisper, which the druggist marked with pleasure
and expectation.[6]

The results of this deputation to the crafty monarch of France are so
well known, that they need but short recapitulation. Louis received
the members of the Belgian states with all civility, and treated them
individually with distinction; as that wily monarch well knew, that
through the intervention of such men alone he could hope to win that
extensive territory, which he was striving to add to France. At the
same time, he positively refused to treat with them in their official
capacity, and affected, at first, a great degree of mystery in regard
to his reasons for so doing, assigning a thousand vague and
unsatisfactory motives, which he well knew would not be believed for a
moment, but which he was aware would induce the deputies--encouraged
by his homely and good-humoured manner--to press so strongly for a
further explanation, as to afford him some excuse for the base
treachery he meditated against their sovereign.

The deputies fell into the trap he laid; made use of every argument to
induce him to negotiate with them upon the powers they had received
from their several cities; and finally urged, that if he would not
acknowledge them as the representatives of the towns of Flanders,
Hainault, and Brabant, he must at least consent to receive them as
ambassadors from the young Duchess of Burgundy, whose letters of
authority they then tendered.

Still, however, Louis refused; and, at length, as if worn out by
importunity, he said, "My good friends of Ghent and the other towns of
Flanders, you must very well know, from my whole conduct towards you,
that I would rather treat with you than with any other persons.
I am a plain man, and love to deal with plain citizens; but you
are entirely mistaken in supposing that you possess the confidence
of my dear god-child Mary, Duchess of Burgundy, or that you are really
authorized to treat for her. It is not impossible," he added, with a
self-satisfied and yet mysterious air, "it is not at all impossible,
that, were I so disposed, I might show you a letter, written partly in
her own hand, partly in that of the Duchess Dowager, and partly in
that of the good Lord of Ravestein, directing me to place confidence
in no persons but my excellent good friends, and faithful servants,
the Lord of Imbercourt, and William de Hugonet, Chancellor of
Burgundy, who were both with me at Peronne for many hours some nights
ago, and are by this time back again in Ghent."

The deputies, confounded and surprised, expressed, in the first heat
of their astonishment, a very uncourtly doubt of the truth of the
king's statement; and Louis, affecting to consider his honour
impugned, committed one of the basest acts of the many that stain his
memory, and produced the private letter of the Princess Mary to the
eyes of her turbulent and headstrong subjects. Furious with
indignation and disappointment, the deputies retired from the presence
of the king, without having concluded anything, and journeyed on with
all speed towards Ghent, neglecting the great and vital business of
the moment, in order to plunge into fresh scenes of anarchy and

Louis saw them depart with scorn and triumph; and, as proud of his
successful villany as ever conqueror was of a final victory, he
marched on to new successes in every direction, satisfied that, in the
discontented spirit of the people of Ghent, he had a faithful ally
that not even self-interest could sever from him.


It is wonderful, though common to a proverb, that days of sunshiny
brightness and placid tranquillity should so often precede great
convulsions in the natural and the political world; and that although
"coming events often cast their shadows before them," yet that the
storm, when it does approach, should almost always find the world all
smiling, and the birds in song.

The day after the return of the deputation from Arras, the aspect of
the city of Ghent was more like that which it had been during the most
brilliant days of Philippe the Good and Charles the Bold, than it had
appeared for many months. The shops and booths, which projected into
the street, and which, being totally unprovided with any means of
defence against popular violence, were generally closed in times of
tumult and disturbance, were now again all open, and full of the
finest wares. Mountebanks of different grades, and those who sold
books, and repeated verses, were exercising their usual vocations at
the corners of the streets. Burghers and their wives, lords and
ladies, artisans and peasantry, all in their gayest dresses--for it
was one of the high festivals of the year--moved about in the streets
and, to crown all, the foul weather had disappeared, and the sun shone
out with a warm and promising beam.

A great multitude had collected near the palace gates, to see the
different members of the council, and the deputies from the various
cities and states of Flanders and Brabant, proceed in state to visit
the Princess Mary; and the approbation of the crowd, often depending
not a little upon the splendour of the several trains, was loudly
expressed as their peculiar favourites approached the gates of the
great court. At the same time it was remarkable, that though loud and
vociferous in their applause, the multitude restrained all marks of
disapprobation on the appearance of persons supposed to be unpopular,
with wonderful and unexpected moderation.

Since the first effervescence of feeling had subsided, after the
defeat of Nancy and the death of Charles the Bold, and since the
apprehension of immediate revolt had gone by, the ministers of Mary of
Burgundy--or, to speak more correctly, the members of the provincial
council of Flanders--though spending the greater part of the day in
the palace, had generally returned to inhabit their own hotels at
night. Thus, almost every one but the Lord of Ravestein, who remained
in the palace with his cousin, had to traverse the crowd in their way
to the audience hall. Imbercourt and Hugonet, neither of whom had ever
been very popular, passed amidst profound silence, and Maillotin du
Bac, who, in his official dress as Prevot, was riding about the
ground, took no small credit to himself for saving those two noblemen
from some sort of insult. The Duke of Cleves again, was loudly
cheered; but the Duke of Gueldres, who, by some means unknown even to
himself, had acquired an extraordinary degree of popularity during the
short time which had elapsed since his return to the city, received a
degree of applause that went far beyond that which greeted the Duke of
Cleves. Albert Maurice, however, as the great favourite of the people,
and one whom they considered more peculiarly as their own
representative, was received with loud, long-continued, and reiterated
shouts. Indeed, as he rode on upon a splendid and fiery horse, dressed
in magnificent apparel--not only as president of the council of Ghent
and grand bailli of the city, but as holding, in the capacity of chief
pensionary, the presidency of the states general of Flanders[7]--and
followed by a number of guards and attendants, with his lordly air and
his beautiful person, he looked more like some mighty prince going to
claim his bride, than a simple merchant about to appear before his

The visit was one of ceremony, and as no business of importance was to
be transacted, the princess received her court in state; and, to see
the splendour with which she was surrounded, the guards, the
attendants, the kneeling subjects, no one would have supposed, as was
indeed the case, that Mary of Burgundy was less a free agent than the
meanest subject in her capital.

All who presented themselves before the princess were received with
affability and courtesy, with the one exception of the Duke of
Gueldres, from whom, as he approached the chair of state, she seemed
to shrink with a repulsive abhorrence, which she could in no degree
command. Although he appeared there contrary to her commands, she
strove to say something kind in regard to his liberation, and to smile
as he offered his thanks; but the words died away before they were
uttered, and the smile faded upon her lip as soon as it appeared. To
Imbercourt and Hugonet, the Lord of Vere and others, who supported the
French alliance--although they had so strongly pressed her to
sacrifice all her own personal feelings, and to abandon the hope of
happiness for life--she still, from a deep conviction of the honesty
of their intentions, and from long habits of regard, yielded the same
marks of friendship and affection with which she had always
distinguished the counsellors and friends of her father, however much
their advice to him or to herself had been at times opposed to her own
opinion, or to her dearest wishes. On Albert Maurice, too, as the
boldest and strongest supporter of her own wishes against the voice of
her more politic advisers, and as the leader of those who really ruled
in Flanders, she smiled sweetly, from a feeling of gratitude as well
as esteem; and none who beheld the young citizen in the midst of that
splendid court, could help acknowledging that he was well fitted, in
appearance at least, to take his place among the noblest and most
courtly of the land. His mien had all the calm dignity of power and
the easy grace of confident but not presuming self-possession. There
was also a freshness and variety in his words and actions, which,
springing from a rich and generous mind, gave a sparkling grace to the
whole of his demeanour, and rendered it at once striking and pleasing.
There was certainly a difference in his manners from that of the stiff
and stately nobles of the court of Burgundy, but it was slight, and to
his advantage, characterized by no want of grace or dignity, but
rather by the calm ease of natural politeness, as opposed to the
acquired formality of courtly etiquette. It seemed, not that he was
assuming a rank, and mingling amidst a class to which he did not
belong--but rather as if he had suddenly taken possession of a station
which was his own by the indefeasible title of ennobling nature. The
respect and deference also with which all the rest of the court felt
themselves obliged to treat him, both from his authority over the
people, and the powers of his own mind, placed him at his ease; and
perhaps the very excitement which he felt under the eyes of Mary of
Burgundy, and the mighty aspirations and brilliant hopes which
thrilled in his bosom, were not without their share in giving firmness
and dignity to the step with which he trod the ducal halls of the
house of Burgundy.

Thus passed by the morning; and everything proceeded in undisturbed
harmony and tranquillity, both within the Cours du Prince and without
its walls. The populace showed themselves calm and placable; and it
had seldom happened of late that so many nobles and statesmen, of
different opinions and different interests, had met within the gates
of that palace with so little jarring and contention. Nevertheless,
there were things observed by many of the keen eyes which always hang
about courts and watch the flickering signs of the times, that boded
events not quite so pacific and gentle as the first aspect of affairs
might augur. Between Albert Maurice and the Lord of Imbercourt no
words passed; but, when their glances encountered upon more than one
occasion, the lordly brow of the young citizen became overcast, and a
fire blazed up in his eye, which spoke no very cordial feeling towards
that nobleman. Imbercourt himself, whose demeanour through life had
always been characterized by calm gravity, not absolutely approaching
sadness, but still far removed from cheerfulness, had, since the death
of his master, shown himself more gloomy and reserved than he had ever
before appeared; and, on the present occasion, there was a deep
immovable sternness in his countenance, which had something in it more
profound than can be expressed by the word melancholy. He met the
fiery glance of the young citizen, however, calm and unchanged. His
eyelid never fell, his brow contracted not a line, his lip remained
unmoved. Not a trace of emotion of any kind passed over his face, as
he endured rather than returned the gaze of the young citizen; and,
after remaining a few minutes in the princess's presence, he took his
leave, mounted his horse, and rode homewards. But as he passed by
Maillotin du Bac, and addressed some common observation to that
officer, there was a sort of triumphant sneer on the hard countenance
of the Prevot, and an unnatural degree of courtesy in his manner, from
which, those who saw it inferred no very favourable anticipations in
his mind regarding the Lord of Imbercourt.

When the whole ceremony was over, and Mary of Burgundy was left alone
with Alice of Imbercourt, and a few of her other attendants, her heart
seemed lightened of a load, and a smile brightened her countenance for
the first time since her father's death.

"Thank God, Alice," she said, "that it is over. I was very anxious
about the passing by of this morning, for I feared much that some
angry clashing might have taken place, concerning the messengers
despatched to the cruel King of France. But you are sad, Alice," she
continued, seeing the fair face of her gay friend overcast with
unusual clouds, which probably had arisen from the increased gloom
she had observed upon the countenance of her father; "you are sad,
Alice;--you, whose gay and happy spirit seems formed by heaven to bear
up against everything."

"I know not well how it is, your Grace," replied Alice, with a sigh;
"nothing particular has happened to make me so; and yet, I own, my
heart feels more gloomy than it generally does on such a sunshiny

"Nay, Alice," replied the princess, "you must be sad, indeed, to call
Mary of Burgundy 'your Grace,' when from our earliest years we have
grown up together as sisters more than friends. But be not gloomy,
dear Alice; all will, I trust, go well. There is not that evil, in all
this sorrowful world, which could shake my trust in an over-ruling
Providence, or make me doubt that the end will yet be good."

"But sorrows must sometimes happen," replied Alice; "and in that
book--which I wish I had never looked into--in the cabinet at Hannut,
I saw that some time soon you were to lose two faithful friends: I
wonder if I shall be one."

"Heaven forbid, dear Alice!" replied the princess. "However, I am
sorry that you have told me;" and she fell into a deep and somewhat
painful reverie, from which she only roused herself, to propose that
they should go to the apartments of the Dowager Duchess, Margaret, who
inhabited the other wing of the building.

Alice willingly followed; and Margaret--though, in her grief
and widowhood, she had taken no part in the ceremonies of the
day--received her fair visitors with gladness, and inquired with some
anxiety how the morning and its events had passed away. Her mind was
of that firm and equable, though gentle tone, which feels every
misfortune intensely, but bears it with unshaken resolution; and it is
a quality of such minds to communicate a part of their own tranquil
and enduring power to others with whom they are brought in contact.
Thus Mary of Burgundy always felt more calm and more resigned after
conversing long with Margaret of York than before; and if, in the
present instance, her design in visiting her stepmother was to obtain
some such support, she was not disappointed. Both herself and Alice of
Imbercourt returned from the apartments of the Duchess less gloomy
than when they went; and the vague omens which had given rise to their
melancholy were dropped and forgotten, especially as nothing occurred
during the rest of the morning to recall them to the mind of either
the princess or her fair attendant. The day went by in peace and
tranquillity. The multitudes dispersed and retired to their own homes.
The brief sunshine of a winter's day soon lapsed into the dark, cold
night; and a thick white fog, rolling densely up from the many rivers
and canals that intersect the town of Ghent, rendered all the streets
doubly obscure. Several of the hours of darkness also went by in
tranquillity: though the glare of many torches, lighting various
groups of persons, through the dim and vapoury atmosphere, and casting
round them a red and misty halo of circumscribed light, together with
the shouting voices of people who had lost their way, and the equally
loud replies of those who strove to set them right, broke occasionally
upon the still quiet of the streets of Ghent, during the course of the
evening. All this, too, passed away, and the hour approached for
resigning the body and the mind to that mysterious state of
unconscious apathy, which seems given to show that we can die, as far
as sentient being goes, and yet live again, after a brief pause of
mental extinction. Mary of Burgundy, whose days--if ever the days of
mortal being did so--should have passed in peace, was about to retire
to rest, thanking Heaven that one more scene in life's long tragedy
was over. Her fair hair was cast over her shoulders, in soft and silky
waves, and she was thinking--with the natural comment of sorrow upon
human life--"how sweet a thing is repose!" Although she had assumed in
public the state of a sovereign princess, in private she had hitherto
dispensed with that burdensome etiquette, which renders the domestic
hours of princes little less tedious than their public ceremonies. Her
ladies were all dismissed to rest before she herself retired to her
own apartment, and two tiring women of inferior rank were all that
remained to aid her in the toilet of the night. Those women, whose
whole intellects were limited in their range to the thoughts of dress
and ornament, contented themselves with performing their several
offices about the person of the princess, and leaving her mind to
reflection. Thus, perhaps, the hour which she spent each night in her
own chamber, ere she lay down to rest, was one of the sweetest
portions of time to Mary of Burgundy. It was the hour in which her
heart, relieved from all the pressure of the day, could commune with
itself at ease; and, could one have looked into her bosom on that at
any other night, the whole course of her life gives reason to believe,
that it would have displayed as fine and pure a tissue of sweet and
noble ideas, as ever the thoughts of woman wove. Her toilet for the
night, however, had proceeded but a short way, on the present
occasion, when the door of the chamber was thrown open with
unceremonious haste, and Alice of Imbercourt, pale, agitated,
trembling, with her own brown hair streaming over her shoulders like
that of the princess, showing how sudden had been the news that so
affected her, rushed into the apartment, and, casting herself upon her
knees before Mary, hid her eyes upon the lap of the princess, and wept
so bitterly as to deprive herself of utterance.

"What is the matter, my dear Alice? What is the matter, my sweet
girl?" demanded Mary, anxiously. "Speak, speak, dear Alice! what has
happened so to affect you?"

"Oh, madam, madam!" sobbed Alice; "my father--my dear father!"

"What of him?" exclaimed Mary, turning deadly pale. "What has happened
to him, Alice? tell me, I beseech you!"

"Oh, madam, they have arrested him and the Lord of Hugonet!" replied
Alice, "and have dragged them from their beds, loaded with chains, to
the town-prison!"

"Good God!" cried Mary, clasping her hands; "will they deprive me of
all my friends? Has not the gold of Louis tempted all feeble hearts
from my service, and will my own subjects take from me the only ones
who have been found firm?"

"They will kill them: be sure they will kill them!" exclaimed Alice.
"There is only one person on the earth can save them; and, alas! I
fear these butchers of Ghent will be too quick in their murder for him
to come."

"Who do you mean, dear girl?" asked Mary. "Who is there you think can
aid them? What do you propose? Let us lose no time; but take any way
to save their lives. Some one," she added, turning to her tiring
women, "go to my mother, the Duchess; tell her I would fain speak with
her. Now, Alice, what way do you propose?"

"Oh, let me go!" cried Alice, wildly, "let me go! Let me lose not a
moment of time! I will easily find him out, or send on messengers--or
bring him by some way! Let me go, I beg--I entreat!"

"But of whom do you speak?" again demanded Mary. "You forget, dear
Alice, I know not what you mean."

"I mean!" replied Alice, while a slight blush passed rapidly over her
countenance, and was immediately again succeeded by the eager and
terrified paleness which had before appeared there: "I mean--I mean
the Vert Gallant of Hannut. 'Tis scarce three days ago, that, by a
letter from Hannut, Hugh de Mortmar bade me seek aid and assistance
from him, if any thing happened, in the tumults of this city, to cause
me danger or distress. He said that the Vert Gallant owed him much.
Let me go, madam, I beseech you."

"But you cannot go alone, dear Alice," said the princess, gazing upon
her almost as much bewildered as she was herself; "you cannot go
alone, and at this hour of the night. At all events, you must have a
party of the guards."

"Oh, no, no!" cried Alice; "they will only let one person go through
the gates at a time; and there are men here set to watch the river, so
that no large boat can pass."

At this moment the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy entered the chamber of
her step-daughter; and Mary was beginning to explain the
circumstances, as far as she had been able to gather them from her
terrified companion, when she found that Margaret was already
acquainted with many more particulars concerning the arrest of
Imbercourt and Hugonet than herself. So daring an act on the part of
the turbulent men of Ghent, as the arrest of two members of the
supreme council of Flanders, of course terrified and shocked both Mary
and her step-mother. But their personal apprehensions for the future,
and consideration of the long series of calamities and horrors which
such a deed portended, were overpowered by the wild agony of the
daughter of one of those victims of popular sedition. The tears poured
over her cheeks, her fair hands clasped in convulsive agony, till the
taper fingers seemed as if they would have broken; and still she
besought the princess, with wild eagerness, to permit her instant
departure in search of him on whose assistance she seemed to place her
only hope of delivering her father. Mary called upon her stepmother to
second her arguments, for the purpose of persuading Alice to secure
some protection and assistance, at least in her attempt to escape from
the town, and in the difficult search she proposed to undertake for
one, whose character was so doubtful, and whose dwelling was so
uncertain. But Margaret, animated by a bolder spirit, saw the proposal
in a different light, and supported strongly the desire of Alice, to
seek the assistance she hoped for, accompanied alone by the page.

"Great things," she said, "have been done by less men than this
adventurer seems to be. Many a battle between York and Lancaster has
been won by the aid of foresters and outlaws. If you can once secure
his assistance, and he can, by any of those strange means which he has
been often known to employ so successfully, introduce his bands within
the town, these rebellious men of Ghent may yet be taught a lesson
which they have much need to learn. Go, then, my poor girl, if you
have any probable means of discovering the abode of him you seek. Take
the page with you; furnish yourself with all the money and jewels
which you can collect. The princess and I will do our best to
contribute, for with such men gold is better than eloquence; and, at
all events, you will have the satisfaction of doing your duty towards
your father."

"In the meantime, Alice," added Mary, "be not more anxious than
necessary for your father's safety. These men will, doubtless, never
attempt anything against his life without bringing him to trial. All
the preparations must take long, and I will leave no means unused to
delay their proceedings, and to mitigate their rancour. I will send
for the president; I will speak with him myself. I will entreat, I
will beseech, I will rather lay down my own life than that they should
hurt my faithful servants."

"Thank you; thank you, dear lady!" replied Alice, kissing her hand;
"thank you, thank you for your comfort! But I must go," she added,
with eager anxiety; "I must not lose a moment."

"Stay, stay!" said the young Duchess, seeing her about to depart. "Let
Bertha call the page whom we employed before, and we will determine on
some better plans than your own unassisted fancy can frame."

It would be unnecessary here to enter into the minute details of all
that ensued; and, indeed, so rapidly were the arrangements concluded,
that many words would only serve to give a false impression of things
that were resolved and executed in a few brief moments. Suffice it,
then, that the page was soon brought to the presence of the princess;
and, in eager and hasty consultation, it was determined that he should
proceed in search of a small skiff, which, being brought opposite to
the palace wall, on the water side, would enable Alice to make her
escape with less chance of observation than if she attempted to pass
the gates either on horseback or on foot, at that hour of the night.

No large boat would be allowed to proceed, and therefore he was
directed to seek the smallest that he could possibly find; but, at the
same time, to use all his shrewdness in endeavouring to discover some
boatman, who was either trustworthy by native honesty, or might be
rendered secret by a bribe. The boy at once declared in reply, that he
well knew a man who used to bring the duke's venison up from the
woods, and whose taciturnity was so great, that those who knew him
averred, he had never said ten words to anybody yet in life, nor ever
would say ten words more.

In search of this very desirable person the page instantly proceeded;
but, either from the darkness of the night, or from having found it
difficult to wake the boatman out of his first sleep, the boy was so
long in returning, that all Alice's preparations for her journey were
completed, and many minutes spent in agonizing anxiety, ere he
re-appeared. When he did come, however, he brought the glad tidings
that all was ready; and, after taking leave of the princess, Alice of
Imbercourt, with a rapid but silent step, threaded the dark and
intricate passages of the palace, passed the postern unquestioned, and
finding her way with difficulty through the dim and foggy air, to the
steps which led towards the water, stood at length by the side of the
boat. Stepping forward over some unsteady planks, she was speedily
seated in the stern, with the boy beside her; the single boatman, whom
they had found waiting, pushed silently away from the bank, and, in a
minute after, the skiff was making its slow way through the fog, down
the dull current of the Scheldt.


Although other matters of some moment might claim attention in this
place, we will not interrupt the course of our narrative, but will
follow, throughout her journey, the fair fugitive from the city of
Ghent; as far, at least, as that journey was permitted to proceed

The boat glided along over the calm dull bosom of the Scheldt, with
hardly any noise, except the occasional dip of the oar in the water,
and the slight creaking of the gunnel as the rower plied his stroke.
Every one knows that the river which, a little distance further down
its stream, assumes so much importance as to be the object of
intrigue, negotiation, and even war, to rival nations, presents no
very imposing aspect in the neighbourhood of Ghent; but so gloomy was
the moonless sky, and so dense was the heavy fog which hung over the
waters, that from the moment the boat had pushed off from the quay
both banks became quite invisible. The deep, misty obscurity of the
atmosphere, and the profound darkness of the night, might have been a
cause of terror to Alice of Imbercourt under any other circumstances;
but now all apprehension of danger from the want of light and the
difficulties of the navigation, was swallowed up in the fear of being
overtaken or impeded in her escape; and the impenetrable veil which
seemed to cover all things around her she looked upon as a blessing,
in the hope that it would also conceal herself. The darkness, however,
which gave this feeling of security, did not continue so completely
uninterrupted as to leave her entirely without alarm. Now and then, as
the boat shot past some of the warehouses, or the quays where the
larger craft were moored, an indistinct dim line of light would break
across the mist from lamp or lantern, hung up to show the late watcher
the objects of his toil or of his anxiety; and the heart of poor Alice
would beat quick with fear, lest the skiff, or those it contained,
should attract the eye of any of the eager and wary citizens. But all
these perils were soon past; the boatman rowed strongly and well; the
slow current with which they were proceeding was not powerful enough
to afford much assistance to his exertions, but still the boat skimmed
swiftly over the waters, and ere long the last bridge was passed.
Beyond it there extended along the banks a short suburb, terminated by
scattered houses belonging to cowfeeders and gardeners, and forming a
sort of brief connecting link between the wide open country and the
fortified city; and further on, again, came the rich fields and
meadows in the immediate vicinity of the town, blending gradually into
the thick woods that at that time commenced about Heusden and Melle.

Alice's heart beat more freely, as the fresher air, the slight
clearing away of the mist, the occasional lowing of the cattle, and
that indescribable feeling of expanse which is only known in the
country, showed her--though she could not yet see the objects on the
banks--that she had passed beyond the limits of the city of Ghent. The
page, too, felt the same relief, and, for the first time, ventured a
whispered observation on the good fortune that had attended their
movements. But Alice was still too fearful of being pursued or
discovered, to utter anything but a low-toned injunction to be silent;
and no further sound marked their course but the stroke of the oars,
as the sturdy boatman impelled them on, unwearied, over the waters of
the Scheldt.

At the distance of about three miles from the city the air became
gradually less dense, and at the end of half a mile more the fog had
cleared away entirely. It was still dark, but the stars afforded
sufficient light to show the fair fugitive, and her companion, that
they were passing through a country where the meadow and the cornfield
were merging in the forest. Scattered patches of copse and underwood,
mingled with fields which had been reclaimed to the use of man, came
sweeping down to the banks of the river; and straight before the
travellers lay a dark and shadowy track, broken into dense, heavy
masses, the rounded forms of which, cutting black upon the lighter sky
beyond, distinguished it as wood, from the soft sweeping lines of the
uplands which in other directions marked the horizon.

There is scarcely anything on earth more gloomy and impressive than
the aspect of a deep wood by night, with just sufficient light in the
sky to contrast strongly with the stern body of impenetrable shade
presented by the forest, and yet not enough to show any of the smaller
parts into which it appears separated by day. The wood lay straight
before the bow of the boat, seeming to swallow up the widening course
of the Scheldt, as flowing on, it reflected here and there, the faint
lines of light which it caught from the sky, and which served to mark
its track, till it was lost in the sombre shadows of the trees. An
indefinite feeling of dread passed through the bosom of Alice of
Imbercourt as the boat cut its way on towards the dark and gloomy
wilderness which the forest seemed to present at that hour of the
night. She believed, indeed, that she had no cause for fear; and her
own peculiar plans absolutely required that she should banish all
timidity of the kind that she now felt. Some inquiry, however, was
necessary, in order to guide her further movements; and, as her
apprehensions of pursuit had by this time vanished, she addressed a
few words to the boatman, to lead him into conversation regarding the
part of the country at which they had now arrived.

"Those seem very dark and extensive woods," she said; "do we pass
through them?"

"Yes, noble lady," replied the man, and struck on with more vigour
than before, as if he considered the time occupied by the three words
he spoke as lost to all profitable employment.

"Are they safe to travel at night?" demanded the young lady again.

"No, noble lady," was all the reply she received.

"But do you mean that it is dangerous to pass through them in a boat?"
inquired Alice.

"I cannot tell, madam," answered the man; but still he rowed on, and
the page, laughing with the thoughtless glee of youth, whispered that
the attempt was vain to make silent Martin give them any information,
as he had never been known to speak ten words to an end in his life.
By this time they were within the limits of the forest, and nothing
surrounded them on every side but the trees dipping down their
branches over the water. Alice, however, ventured one more question,
to which the answer she received, though as short, was more
satisfactory than those the boatman had formerly given.

"How far does the wood extend?" she demanded.

"Three quarters of a league, noble lady," replied the boatman, and
again plied his oar in silence.

Whether Alice's voice, and his reply, had called attention, or whether
the stroke of the oars itself could be heard at the banks, cannot be
determined; but the man had answered but a moment, when a slight plash
was heard from behind a little projection of the shore, on which an
old oak had planted itself, spreading its roots down to the very
river. Then came a rushing sound, as of something impelled quickly
through the water, succeeded by the regular sweep of oars, and, in a
moment after, a boat, rowed by two strong men, darted out into the
mid-stream, and followed rapidly after that in which Alice sat. Still
silent Martin, as the boy called him, pulled stoutly on without a
word, but the superior power of the two men who pursued soon brought
them alongside the boat, and, grappling her tight, they addressed the
boatman in a tone rough but not uncivil.

"So ho, friend!" they cried; "stop a bit. What news from Ghent? How
goes the good city?"

"Well! well! my masters," replied the boatman, still striving to impel
his skiff forward, though the proximity of the other boat rendered the
effort to use his oars unavailing.

"It is silent Martin," said one of the men, "and a fair dame, by the
Lord! Who have you here, Master Martin?"

"There, there," replied the boatman, with what appeared to be an
immense effort to make an oration; "let me get on. You do not stop
women, my masters. Surely you would never stop a lady like that!" And
exhausted with this long speech, he again tried to push away from the
other boat, but in vain.

"No, no," cried one of the men, "we will not stop the lady long;
but every one who rows upon the Scheldt now-a-days must have a pass
from the captain. So come along, Master Martin; and when you and the
young lady have given all the news of Ghent, that, doubtless, you can
give--for certainly young ladies do not come up the Scheldt at this
hour of the night for nothing--we will let you go on your way."

"Fine times!" said silent Martin; but as resistance was in vain, he
suffered them to pilot his boat to the mouth of the little creek from
which their own had shot out; and he himself, with a certain degree of
awkward gentleness, aided Alice of Imbercourt to land.

Her feelings were of a very mixed nature; but, assuredly, not
such as might be imagined from a consideration of the more obvious
circumstances of her situation. She was certainly terrified as well as
agitated, and she trembled a good deal; but, at the same time, she
showed no unwillingness to obey the commands of those who now had her
in their power. Her terror, however, did not escape the eyes of the
men who had rowed the other boat; and one of them addressed her in a
kindly tone, saying, "Fear not, fear not. No lady ever suffered harm
or dishonour from the green riders of Hannut. So do not be alarmed,
and you shall soon be free to go whithersoever you will."

These words, which he spoke as they were landing, seemed to reassure
the fair traveller, more than they would, probably, have done most
other people at such a moment.

"Oh, where is he?" she exclaimed, eagerly. "Lead me to him, I beseech
you. It is he whom I am now seeking."

"Ay, indeed!" said the adventurer. "Mean you the Vert Gallant of
Hannut, lady? He is soon found by those who seek him, and rather often
found by those who seek him not. Ho, Roger!" he continued, addressing
his companion in the boat, "rouse up Frank Van Halle and Simpkin
yonder, to keep watch with thee, while I lead the lady and the boy to
the rendezvous. Come now, my pretty mistress," he added, "take care of
your steps, for it is as dark as the tomb. Here, take an old man's
arm. It was more pliant in days of yore, but never stronger, and will
serve at least to help you up the bank."

Alice was glad of assistance, and laid her hand on his arm; but though
his occupation had been sufficiently evident before, yet she almost
started back when her fingers rested upon plates of cold iron, forming
the brassards or defensive armour for the arms, so much are our minds
the slaves of our corporeal sensations, that our convictions are never
vivid till we have verified them by our external senses. She recovered
herself immediately, however, and clung to him both for support and
direction; for the whole scene around was wrapped in profound
obscurity; and though her eye was already accustomed to the night, yet
the additional gloom of the forest was so great, that she followed the
adventurer in perfect blindness, without being able to see, one
moment, where she was to set her foot the next.

After climbing a slight acclivity, which compelled them to walk
slowly, they came to more open ground, where her guide hurried his
pace, and Alice was obliged to follow rapidly upon his steps, though
not without often shrinking back for fear of striking against the
trees, which her imagination pictured as protruding across the path.
The way, though in fact short, seemed to her long, from the darkness
and uncertainty in which she moved; but at length a light began to
glisten between the branches; and, after walking on a few minutes
longer, she perceived a glare so strong as almost to make her believe
that a part of the wood was on fire. As her conductor led her forward,
she every now and then caught a glimpse, through the breaks in the
wood, of figures moving about across the light towards which they were
approaching; but a moment after, the whole scene was again shut out by
a tract of withered beech trees, loaded with their thick dry leaves,
through which the path that Alice and her guide were pursuing took a
sudden turn. The blaze of the fire, however, was sufficiently general
to light them easily on their way; and in a few minutes more they
emerged at once into the little sheltered arena whence it was

The frost, as I have before said, had for some time broken up, and the
preceding day had been warm and fine. Nevertheless, sufficient
precautions had been taken by the tenants of the forest to dispel, in
their own neighbourhood at least, whatever touch remained of winter.
In the midst of the open space which Alice now entered, they had piled
up, with very unceremonious appropriation of the duke's trees, a fire
of immense logs, sufficient to roast a hecatomb; and many a relic of
the more ancient and simple methods of dressing meat displayed
themselves around, in various immense pieces of venison and beef
roasting on wooden spits in the open air, while a gigantic black
caldron, pendent from the immemorial triple chevron, which has
suspended all primeval pots from the days of Noah, fumed and bubbled
with most savoury promise. Around, in groups, lay a number of stout
soldiery, prepared to refresh their vigorous and sinewy limbs with the
contents of the pot, or the burden of the spit, as soon as those
skilled in the mystery of cooking pronounced that they were ready for
the knife. Several more, whose appetite seemed still fiercer, stood
round the fire, watching with anticipating expectation the progress of
the cookery. But it is to be remarked, at the same time, that amongst
all this number of persons--amounting fully to fifty or sixty--a great
deal of decent order was kept up, and nothing like either rioting or
confusion was observed, notwithstanding the more than doubtful
character of the persons concerned. There was no singing, no shouting;
and those who were conversing together spoke in an under tone, as if
afraid of disturbing some person engaged in more important business in
their near neighbourhood.

The cause of this orderly tranquillity, perhaps, might be discovered
by running the eye on a little way beyond the fire, where stood a sort
of rude, but extensive, wooden shed or hut, raised upon a number of
upright piles driven into the ground, and thatched on the top with
boughs, leaves, and rushes, which materials also served to cover three
sides of the building. The side that remained open was turned towards
the fire; and, consequently, it both commanded a view of everything
that took place in that direction, and exposed to the sight of the
other parties in the savannah all that was passing in the interior of
the hut. It was owing to this disposition, that, as Alice approached,
she at once perceived the Vert Gallant of Hannut, habited, as we have
before described him, reclining on the ground under the shed, with a
paper before him, on which was apparently traced a rude map of some
country, the topography of which he seemed studying intently. Sitting
beside him, supplied with a flat board, which served the purposes of a
table, and on which were seen the implements for writing, was the
sleek, round monk, of whom we have previously given some account under
the name of Father Barnabas, and who now, with a ready pen, appeared
busily tracing some despatch at the dictation of the adventurous

On the other side of the Vert Gallant stood a page, whose rich dress
of green and gold seemed but ill to correspond with the scene in which
he was found, holding a torch high in his hand, to throw light upon
the papers before his two companions; and near him again was a person
in the habit of a courier of some distinction, whose horse, all in
flakes of foam with hard riding, stood, held by another page, close by
the entrance of the shed.

The approach of Alice and her conductor instantly drew the eyes of a
great part of the persons assembled in the savannah upon her; and,
shrinking from the gaze of the rude men amongst whom she now found
herself, the lady drew her mantle closer round her, and bent her look
upon the ground, while, at the desire of him who had led her thither,
she paused with the page, and suffered their guide to advance alone.
Without taking any notice of the groups around, he walked forward at
once to the shed; and only staying till the Vert Gallant had concluded
the sentence which hung upon his lips, he addressed a few words to
him, which were inaudible where Alice stood. Their effect upon the
leader, however, was great and instantaneous. He started at once upon
his feet, and turned fully towards the spot where the young lady
stood; but the bars of the casque, which he seemed never to lay aside,
still prevented his own countenance from being seen.

After the glance of a single instant, he advanced towards Alice; and,
bending respectfully over her hand which he took in his, he bade her
welcome with kind and graceful courtesy.

"I know the general meaning of your coming, lady," he said, "though
not the immediate cause; and I will speak with you as soon as I have
despatched the messenger. In the meantime trust to this old man, my
lieutenant, who will lead you to a place where I can hear your
commands in private."

Alice listened attentively, and looked up when he had done, with a
glance, in which anxiety and apprehension for her father's fate were
strangely mingled, considering the moment and the scene, with a rise
of the eyebrow, and a turn of the fair mouth, which altogether
approached very near one of the merry smiles that had so thronged her
lips in happier days. She replied not, however, though at first she
appeared about to do so; but following her former conductor in
silence, was led once more into the paths of the wood. She was not now
called upon to walk far; for little more than a hundred steps brought
her in front of a low-roofed building, which, apparently had been in
former times the abode of one of the forest guards, but which had now
fallen into the occupation of the free companions.

Everything within bore an air of comfort and neatness hardly to have
been expected from its present tenants; and in the chamber to which
Alice was conducted, nothing appeared to announce that it was not
still the abode of quiet and affluent industry.

The moment she and the page had entered, the old man retired and
closed the door; and Alice remained gazing upon the embers of the wood
fire that lay sparkling on the hearth, till the sound of rapid steps
passing the window again made her heart beat with redoubled quickness.
In a moment after the door was thrown open, and the tall, graceful
figure of the Vert Gallant once more stood before her.

"Quit the room, page," he said, as he entered, "but do not leave the

The boy hesitated; but a sign from Alice made him instantly obey; and
the Vert Gallant advancing, took her hand and led her to a seat.

"You are tired, lady, and evidently agitated," he said; "and I fear
much that some event of a sad and serious nature has gained me the
honour of your presence in this wild place."

Alice looked up with the same sparkling smile which had before played
for a moment on her countenance. "You cannot deceive me!" she said.
"Hugh de Mortmar, do you think that I do not know you?"

The Vert Gallant paused an instant as if in suspense, then threw his
arms round the fair girl who stood beside him, and pressed her gently
to him. "Dear Alice," he said, "how did you discover me?"

"It were vain to say how, Hugh," replied Alice; "I may have had
suspicions long before; but, from the day of the thunderstorm in the
forest of Hannut, I have not had a doubt; though why Hugh de Mortmar
should need to league with outlaws and adventurers, and, as it would
appear, to hide his face even from such strange companions, is more
difficult to divine."

"I am, indeed, willing, though not obliged, to hide my face even from
the bulk of my gallant followers," replied the young cavalier, undoing
the clasps of his casque. "Ay! and in order to guard against surprise
or inadvertency, to wear so foul a seeming as this, even beneath that
heavy helmet;" and removing the iron cap, he showed her a half mask
representing the countenance of a negro, which covered his own face to
the beard.

"You start, Alice!" he continued, "and look somewhat aghast! Is it at
that fearful painted piece of emptiness?"

"No!" she answered, "no! But it is to think that you--you, De
Mortmar--should, for any cause, condescend to hide yourself beneath
such a semblance."

"Indeed, Alice!" said De Mortmar, with a smile. "Then tell me,
beloved, and put it fairly to your own heart, what is it that a man
will not do--what that he should not do--to recover those things that
have been snatched from his race by the unjust hand of power, and to
free a father from captivity?"

"Nothing, indeed!" replied Alice, to whose bosom one part, at least,
of the question went directly home. "Nothing, indeed! and I will
believe, with the faith of a martyr, that no other way than this
existed for you to accomplish such an object; although till this
moment I knew not that you had either parent in existence."

"But your father did," replied the young cavalier; "and when first I
called these troops together, Alice--for you must not confound them
with a band of lawless plunderers--when first I called them together,
it seemed the only way by which I could ever hope to liberate my
imprisoned father. I am Hugh of Gueldres; and it has been only the
hope and the promise of your hand, joined to the prospect held out by
your noble father of obtaining my own parent's liberation by peaceful
means, which has so long prevented me from asserting his right in
arms, though the whole force of Burgundy were prepared to check me--I
might say, indeed, to crush me," he added; "for though, with the
forces of Hannut, and all the discontented men which the late duke
arrayed against him in his own dominions, with the aid of France, and,
perhaps, of Austria, my right and my good cause might have done much,
while Charles remained embroiled in foreign wars. I could have hoped
for little had he once turned his whole force against me. But, as I
have said, your father persuaded me to delay. During the years that I
have thus been induced to pause, I have been obliged to hide, as best
I might, the force of free companions I had raised; and no method of
concealment could be more efficacious than that which I have adopted.
As the green riders of Hannut we passed nearly unmolested, while the
Duke of Burgundy pursued his ambitious schemes against Lorraine, and
his mad ones against the Swiss; and though, if you recall the past
events, you will find that the green riders have punished the guilty
and the bloodthirsty--have laid many a plundering noble under
contribution, and have levelled more than one stronghold of cruelty
and oppression with the ground, yet not one act of baseness or
barbarity can be traced to themselves."

"Then, why such necessity for concealing yourself from them?" demanded
Alice, carried away for a moment from other thoughts by the personal
interest she felt in her lover's conduct.

"What!" exclaimed the young cavalier, "would you have had me, dear
Alice, give so important a secret as that of my existence, when the
Duke of Burgundy and all his court--nay, my own father also, thought
me dead; would you have had me give such a secret as that to the
keeping of more than five hundred men? No! they were levied secretly
by one who has been devoted and faithful to me through life--good
Matthew Gournay, who led you hither. The long accumulated wealth of my
more than father, the Lord of Hannut, served to gather them together.
His forests and the catacombs under the castle gave them shelter: and,
though far too strong in numbers to fear the weak bands of the Prevot,
or the force of any of the neighbouring nobles, it was absolutely
necessary to conceal, with the most scrupulous care, from the court of
Burgundy, that so large a body of independent troops existed, and
still more that such a force was commanded by one who had cause for
deadly hatred towards the duke, now dead. Thus, by the advice and with
the aid of the good Lord of Hannut, I mingled with the world as his
nephew, under which title he had brought me up from my youth. But as
it was necessary to keep my free companions in continual employment,
and to acquire over them that personal authority, which nothing but
the habit of commanding them could obtain, I was often obliged to
assume the character of the Vert Gallant of Hannut, and lead them to
enterprises, which, however dangerous, I took care should never be
dishonourable. The very concealment of my person, which was revealed
only to those who had previously known me, added a sort of mysterious
influence to the power which general success gave me over them; and I
believe that, at this moment, there is no enterprise, however wild or
rash, to which they would not follow me, with the most perfect

"But my father," said Alice, reverting to the still more interesting
topic of her parent's danger; "I must speak with you of my father."

"Well, then, in regard to your father," replied the young noble; and
proceeding eagerly in his exculpation, he explained to Alice that
Imbercourt had always lamented the Duke of Burgundy's severity to his
parent, and had striven by every means to call the sovereign to a
sense of justice, even before he acquired a personal interest in the
house of Gueldres. The real name and rank of the supposed Hugh de
Mortmar, the cavalier proceeded, had been revealed to her father, when
Alice's hand had first been promised to him as the young heir of
Hannut; and seeing at once that Hugh's design of liberating the
imprisoned Duke of Gueldres, and recovering his duchy by force, was
anything but hopeless, Imbercourt had only become the more anxious to
obviate the necessity for such an attempt, by inducing Charles the
Bold to grant as a concession that which he might otherwise be forced
to yield on compulsion. The purposes of the Duke of Burgundy, however,
were not easily changed, nor was his mind to be wrought upon in a day;
and Imbercourt was still occupied with the difficult task he had
undertaken, when the defeat of Nancy took place. On the other hand, he
had ever laboured zealously to induce the young heir of Gueldres to
delay; and many of those trifling circumstances which impede the
execution of the best laid schemes, had combined, from time to time,
to second his endeavours with Hugh of Gueldres. Friends and
confederates had proved remiss or incapable; supplies had been
retarded; changes had taken place in the disposition or circumstances
of particular states; and three times the young noble had been half
persuaded, half compelled, to put off the attempt on which he had
determined. All this Hugh of Gueldres poured forth eagerly to Alice of
Imbercourt, too anxious to exculpate himself from all blame in the
eyes of her he loved, to read in her looks the more serious cares that
were busy at her heart.

"In the disturbed and dangerous state of the country," added the young
cavalier, "although my father has been liberated by other means, it is
my determination to keep my band together, and, watching every turn,
to choose that moment which must come, when a small force, acting
vigorously for one great purpose, may give the preponderance to right,
and crush the wrong for ever."

"Now, then, is the moment! Hugh de Mortmar," cried Alice, clasping her
hands eagerly; "now, then, is the moment!--if you feel any gratitude
towards my father--if you feel any love for me--if you would uphold
the right--if you would crush the wrong--if you would save the
innocent from ignominious death--lose not a day, but force the rebel
people of Ghent to free my unhappy father!"

The young cavalier, who had never suspected the actual danger of the
Lord of Imbercourt, started with surprise; and Alice, with the eager
eloquence of apprehension, made him rapidly acquainted with the events
which had occurred in Ghent during the morning, and which had thus
brought her to seek him.

"Ha!" cried the Vert Gallant, "does Albert Maurice--does the President
of the States sanction such proceedings? I had heard that when the
unhappy eschevins were murdered by the populace, he wrought signal
vengeance on the perpetrators of the crime; and, if ever I saw one to
whom I should attribute noble feelings and just and upright
sentiments, he is the man."

"He is ambitious, Hugh," replied Alice, vehemently; "wildly, madly
ambitious. I have marked him well throughout--and you may trust a
woman's eyes for such discoveries--he has dared to raise his thoughts
to Mary of Burgundy. He loves her--deeply and truly, I believe; but he
loves her not with the love which an inferior may feel for a superior
whom they may never hope to gain, but rather with that rash and daring
love, which will make ambition but a stepping-stone to accomplish its
bold purpose--which will see the land plunged deeper and deeper in
bloodshed, in the wild hope, that out of the ruins of ancient
institutions, and the wreck of order, prosperity, and peace, he may
build up for himself a seat as high, or higher, than the ducal chair
of Burgundy. It is evident, Hugh, it is evident, that he has the power
as well as the daring to do much; and one of his first steps will be
upon my father's head; for had that father's will and counsel been
followed, our fair and gentle princess would now have been the bride
of the Dauphin of France, and every hour that he lives will be an hour
of suspense and anxiety to that ambitious burgher."

A slight smile of contempt, springing from the prejudices of the day,
curled the lip of Hugh of Gueldres, as Alice first spoke of the love
of the young citizen for the Princess of Burgundy; but it vanished
speedily as she went on; and he shook his head with an air of
thoughtful sternness as he replied, "He is one to be feared and to be
opposed, far more than to be contemned. Alice, my beloved," he added,
taking both her hands in his, "I must think what may be best done to
save your father; and of this be assured, that I will lose not one
moment in the attempt; but will peril life and fortune, and every
future hope, to deliver him instantly."

"And yet," said Alice, while a deep blush spread over her whole face,
"for my sake be not over rash of your own person. Save my father, I
beseech, I entreat!--but, oh! remember that you, too--that you--"

Her feelings overpowered her, and she finished the sentence by tears.
Hugh of Gueldres drew her gently to him, and consoled her as far as
the circumstances permitted. But on such occasions there is little to
be said but commonplaces; and all he could assure her was, that while
he made every effort to save her father, her love would make him as
careful of himself as the nature of the task would allow.

In that day, however, every sport, pastime, and occupation of man's
life, were of so rude and dangerous a nature, that perils lost half
their fearfulness from familiarity; and, though Alice of Imbercourt
could not but feel pained and apprehensive for her lover, yet her
feelings of terror were much sooner tranquillized than those of a
person in the present day could have been under similar circumstances.

In the meanwhile, the emergency of the case required that Hugh of
Gueldres should instantly fix upon some plan for the deliverance of
the Lord of Imbercourt, and proceed to put it in execution without
loss of time; and it was also necessary that Alice, whose return to
Ghent would have been both fruitless and dangerous, should seek some
safe asylum till her father's fate was decided. It was accordingly
determined that she should instantly proceed to the castle of Hannut;
and means for rendering her journey both safe and easy were arranged
at once by her lover.

While the litter for conveying her thither was in preparation, and the
soldiers destined to escort her were saddling their horses, Hugh of
Gueldres stole a few brief minutes from more painful thoughts, for the
enjoyment of her society, and the interchange of happy promises and
hopes--nor were those brief moments less sweet to Alice and her lover,
because they were so few, nor because they were mingled with many an
apprehension, nor because many an anxious topic intruded on the
conversation. It is the light and shade, the close opposition of the
dark and the sparkling, that gives zest even to joy. Hugh de Mortmar
felt all the sweetness of their brief interview to the full for the
time; but, the moment after he had placed Alice in the vehicle, given
strict directions to the band which accompanied her, and seen the
cavalcade wind away into the dark paths of the wood, he turned to less
pleasing thoughts, summoned some of those from his troops in whom he
felt the greatest confidence, and remained with them for a short time
in close deliberation, concerning the measures to be taken for the
deliverance of the Lord of Imbercourt.

A plan was soon determined; and an hour before daylight one of the
band was despatched to Ghent, habited as a peasant, and charged to
gain every information in regard to the proceedings of the council,
but to hasten back with all speed, as soon as he had obtained
sufficient knowledge of what was passing in the city. In the
meanwhile, all was held in readiness to act, immediately upon the
receipt of the tidings which he was to bring; and messengers were
despatched in every direction, to prepare the bodies of free
companions, scattered through the different woods in the neighbourhood
of Ghent, for instant movement upon the city.


While such events had been passing without the gates of Ghent, the
estates of Flanders and Brabant--as the members somewhat
grandiloquently styled the anomalous assemblage which had been
collected in that city--had prolonged their sittings till night had
shaken hands with morning. The Lords of Hugonet and Imbercourt had, as
we have seen, been arrested by their commands; but this was not all,
and every individual of any weight, who was clearly connected with
what was called the French party at the court, had likewise been
committed to prison. It may be necessary, however, to state how such a
bold and sweeping measure--a measure so full of difficulties, and so
likely to encounter strenuous opposition--had been carried into

No favour was shown to any one; and, as soon as the assembly met,
Albert Maurice, so averse, in general, to deeds of violence, proposed
in quick succession, and with an eager light in his eye, which proved
how deeply his personal feelings were implicated, the names of the
victims who were to be exposed to the fiery ordeal of a public trial,
under such an excited and furious state of the popular mind. With bold
and sweeping positions, supported by extraordinary eloquence, he laid
it down, in his opening address, as a first grand principle, that
those who sought to unite Flanders with France were declared enemies
to their native country; and he went on to assume, that even those who
could show that no mercenary motive influenced them, were worthy, at
least, of banishment, while those who could be proved to have been
bought by France, merited nothing less than death. All this was
readily admitted by his hearers; but the high rank and station of the
first men that he then proceeded to proscribe, their fair reputation,
and a long train of brilliant services to the state, caused no light
feelings of surprise and apprehension to agitate the various members
of the states, as they heard them named. But there was a power and an
authority in the tone of the young president, which overawed or
carried away the greater part of his hearers; and the calm sneer, or
cold philosophic reasoning of Ganay, who supported him, drove or
induced many of the rest to yield.

Still it required but the strenuous opposition of some one individual,
to rouse and lead a large party in the states against the bold and
dangerous measures proposed; and, to the surprise of all, that
individual was worthy Martin Fruse. As soon as Ganay had concluded, he
rose, and, after some agitated embarrassment--occasioned both by the
importance of the subject on which he was about to speak, and his
dislike to oppose his nephew--found words to begin; but, once having
done so, he poured forth, with rapid utterance, one of those torrents
of rude eloquence which generosity of heart and rectitude of feeling
will sometimes elicit from the roughest and most untutored mind.

"No, no, Albert! No, no, my dear boy!" he exclaimed. "No, no; it is
very wrong--very wrong indeed! For God's sake, my friends and fellow
citizens, pause! let us be wise and firm, but moderate and just. We
have done great things--indeed, we have. We have recovered our
freedom; we have regained those ancient laws and usages which were our
blessing in the olden time, and which may bless us still, if we use
them discreetly. But, fellow citizens, remember, oh, remember! there
is a point where our own privileges end, and where those of other
classes and other men begin. Let us not take one stride beyond the
barriers of our own rights; for surely, if we do, we shall, sooner or
later, be driven back with disgrace. The man who, with power to right
himself, suffers another to rob him of his property, is little better
than a fool; but he who, because he has once been robbed, grasps at
the possessions of another, is none the less a robber himself. The
nobles have their own privileges and their own laws; and right it is
that they should have them; for perhaps we are less fitted, from our
habits and situation, to judge them, than they are to judge us. But,
setting that point aside, we claim our own laws and our own judges,
and we have obtained them: the nobles, too, claim theirs, and let them
have them too. If they have wronged each other, let them right
themselves; and if they have wronged the state, whereby we may suffer
too, let us carry up our impeachment of their conduct to the footstool
of the princess, and demand that they be judged by their peers,
according to law. But on no account let us either arrest them without
lawful authority; and still less let us presume--a body of men
superior to them in numbers, and in some sort, I will say, prejudiced
against them, because we hold a lower rank than they do--and still
less, I say, let us presume to judge them, when we cannot, from our
very station, judge them impartially. A man can very well judge
others, may be, when he despises them; but no men can judge others
whom they envy. I know nothing of these two lords; and all I have
heard of them makes me believe that they were good and faithful
servants of their prince, so long as he was living; but if you have
good reason to think that they have since betrayed their country to
France, accuse them before the princess and her council, and let them
be judged by their equals."

"What! and give them time to escape the pursuit of justice?" demanded
Albert Maurice, sternly; but immediately assuming a softer tone, he
added, "Had any other man spoken the words we have just heard, I
should have instantly called upon the states of Flanders not to
entertain for a moment ideas which would go to circumscribe all their
powers. I would have endeavoured to show that we have a right, as the
representatives of the whole of Flanders and Brabant, to defend our
existence as a nation, and our general interests as a free people, by
arresting any one whom we find labouring to sell us at the highest
price to a foreign power; and, by making the most terrible example of
such traitors, to deter others from similar treason--without adducing
any weaker reasons. But to you, my uncle--my best and kindest
friend--I am bound by love and gratitude; and to you also--as the
oldest and most revered member of the council--the states are bound by
reverence and esteem, to yield every motive which can satisfy your
mind. I, therefore, as one of the provincial council of the princess,
may now inform you, that one half of that council----"

"The Duke of Gueldres has signed the order," whispered Ganay, laying a
parchment before the President, who instantly proceeded--"that even a
majority of the council, have consented to the arrest of these two
nobles, the Lord of Imbercourt and the Chancellor Hugonet; and surely,
did there exist no other right in this assembly to try them for their
manifold and recent offences, the warrant of three such men of their
own order as the Duke of Cleves, the Duke of Gueldres,[8] and the
Bishop of Liege, would be ample authority for such a proceeding."

As he spoke, he spread out the parchment on the table before the
states; and, slowly pronouncing the names of the three princes who,
from the base motives of personal ambition or revenge, had been
induced to consent to such a degradation of their class, he pointed
with his finger in succession to their signatures attached to the
order for arresting the unfortunate nobles. Martin Fruse was silent;
but the voice of every other person present was raised for the instant
execution of a warrant so signed, though many, by leaving the order
without any further authority, would have gladly shifted the
responsibility of the act upon those princes who had justified it, in
order to escape themselves from a task, for which, with all the will
in the world, they wanted the necessary courage.

Albert Maurice, however, and several others, made of sterner stuff
than the generality of the burghers by whom they were surrounded, had
more extended views and more daring purposes, and were determined not
to trust the execution of the vengeance they proposed to wreck on the
two counsellors, to such doubtful friends as the Dukes of Cleves and
Gueldres, and the Bishop of Liege. The first, indeed, had shown
himself the bitter foe of Imbercourt from the moment he had discovered
that the statesman had determined to save the country from foreign
invasion, if possible, by uniting Mary of Burgundy to the heir of the
French crown. To the Bishop of Liege, Imbercourt had long been a
personal enemy; and the Duke of Gueldres had motives of his own, or
rather motives suggested by Ganay, for seeking to alienate the unhappy
minister from the councils of the princess. Each, however, of these
great lords, Albert Maurice well knew, were willing to compound for
the exile of the minister, and to spare his life; but the young
president himself judged rightly, when he thought that Imbercourt, in
power or in banishment, would never cease his efforts to execute the
design he had formed, till he were dead, or the scheme accomplished;
and Albert Maurice resolved that he should die. He tried hard to
convince his own heart that his intentions were purely patriotic; but
his own heart remained unsatisfied. Yet, having once yielded to the
promptings of the worse spirit, the burning doubt in his own bosom, in
regard to the purity of his motives, only urged him on the course he
had chosen with more blind and furious impetuosity, in order to escape
from the torturing self-examination to which conscience prompted him
continually. He saw around him difficulties and dangers on every side,
obstacles alike opposed to his ambition, to his love, and to his
aspirations after liberty. He believed himself to be in the situation
of a mariner on a narrow bank, over which the ocean threatened every
instant to break, and overwhelm both himself and the vessel of the
state; and he resolved at once to push off into the midst of the
stormy waves, in despite of the fears of his companions, believing
that his own powers could steer the ship safely, and that their
feebleness must yield him the command, till he had piloted her into
the port for which he had already determined to sail.

The timidity of some, the subtlety of others, the wilfulness, the
self-conceit of all, he saw could only be bent to his purposes by
plunging them in an ocean of difficulties, from which he alone could
extricate them; and, understanding well the characters of those by
whom he was surrounded, and prepared to make their talents, their
influence, their wealth, their vices, their very weaknesses,
subservient to his one great purpose, he resolved to involve them all
in schemes of which he alone knew the extent.

At once, therefore, he rejected the idea that the warrant, signed by
the three princes he had named, was sufficient; and though he allowed
their names to stand first, he urged upon those who heard him, that
the states must also join in the same act, or forfeit thenceforward
all pretence to real power. His arguments and his authority easily
brought over a large majority of the hearers; and the warrants were
sent forth bearing the names of the whole assembly. A number of other
persons, less obnoxious, were then, as I have before said, added to
the list of those to be secured; and the meeting of the states did not
break up till the fearful work of proscription had been dreadfully

The assembly then rose; and member by member, bowing low to the
president, who had the day before taken possession of a suite of
apartments in the Stadthuys, and now made it his dwelling, left the
town-hall, and departed. Ganay alone remained, and he did so on a sign
to that effect from Albert Maurice; who, when all the rest were gone,
and the doors closed, leaned his folded arms upon the table, and
buried his brows upon them, as if utterly exhausted with all the
fatigues of the day, and the struggle of many a potent passion in the
arena of his own bosom. The dull flames of the long-burnt lamps but
dimly illumined the wide vacant hall and its dark wainscot; but the
great cresset hung just above the head of Albert Maurice; and as the
light fell upon the bright curls of dark hair dropping over his arms,
and upon the magnificent head and form which those curls adorned, it
seemed shining upon some fallen spirit, in the first lassitude of its
despair. Nor did the withered form of Ganay, with his shrewd keen eyes
fixed upon the young citizen, and his cheek shrunk and pale with the
long workings of passions, concealed by subtlety, but not the less
potent on that account, offer a bad image of some dark tempter,
enjoying his triumph over the fall of a better being, then writhing
before his eyes under the very fruition of its first evil hopes.

It was Ganay who began the discourse, and the tone of his voice at
once roused Albert Maurice from his momentary absence of mind. "They
have all plunged in now, indeed!" said the druggist. "I thought not
they would run before our will so easily."

"They have plunged in, indeed," replied Albert Maurice, "and so have
we! But that matters not. We will lead them safely through. But now
tell me--How was the Duke of Gueldres won to our wishes? He owes his
freedom as much to Imbercourt as to any one. Is he then so base a
slave as he has been pictured? Is the soil of his heart really so
fertile in weeds, that good service produces nothing thence but

"Nay, nay, my young friend," answered the druggist, while a bitter
sneer lurked round his lip, at the very candour he assumed; "you are
beginning to think sadly ill of mankind. They are not so bad a race as
you believe. Like all great patriots, you affect to despise the very
world you would shed your blood to serve. No, no; the Duke of
Gueldres, good honest man, would be as grateful as his neighbours, if
no more powerful motive came in the way of gratitude. You forget,
Albert Maurice, that we are teaching him to believe that his
pretensions to the heiress of Burgundy are full as good as those of
the sottish heir of Cleves; so that, whoever seeks to give her hand to
a stranger, is an enemy to Adolphus of Gueldres, who counts boldly on
being her husband."

The cheek of Albert Maurice flushed, and then grew pale; for often in
the dull and filthy trade of worldly policy, men must work with tools
they are ashamed to touch, and employ means abhorrent to their better
nature. Thus, though obliged to balance one mean soul against another,
as suitors for her he himself loved, it stung the young aspirant to
the very heart to hear their pretensions calmly named by any other
human being; and giving way to the first burst of indignation, he
exclaimed, "Out on him, vile swine! But beware, Sir Druggist, beware
how you raise his mad dreams too high! and still more beware," he
continued, as a sudden suspicion seemed to cross his mind, awakened,
as had been frequently the case before, by the sneering tone in which
the druggist sometimes spoke; "and still more beware how you dare to
play into his hands. Mark me, sir," and grasping Ganay by the arm, he
bent his dark brow upon him; "mark me! I know you well, and you know
me, but not so well! You think you use me as a tool, because, to a
certain point, you have succeeded while following my steps, and have
obtained, and are obtaining, the vengeance for which you thirst. But
learn and know that you have succeeded so far, only because the
interests of the state and your own desires have been bound up
together. It is, that those whom you seek to destroy have given you
the means of destroying them, by rendering it necessary that I should
strike them; not, as perhaps you dream, that you have bent me to your
purpose. You see I know you, and some of your most secret thoughts.
But hear me further ere you reply. Learn, too, that the transactions
of thirty years ago, are not so deeply buried beneath the dust of time
as you may think; and that, though you and Adolphus of Gueldres may
meet as strangers now-a-day, I have dreamt that there was a time when
ye knew more of each other. So now, you see, I know you, and some of
your most secret deeds; and once more, I say, beware!"

It was the second time that Albert Maurice had referred boldly to
events in the past, which Ganay had supposed forgotten; and the ashy
cheek of the druggist grew, if anything, a shade paler than before,
while, for a moment, he gazed upon the face of Albert Maurice with a
glance of amazement, most unwonted to his guarded features. It passed
off, however, in an instant, and a flash of something like anger
succeeded in its room. But that, too, passed away, and he replied
calmly, but somewhat bitterly, "I will beware. But you, too, Albert
Maurice, beware also. There are some things that it is not well to
discuss; but if you can trace--as, for aught I know or care, perhaps
you can--my whole course of being for more than thirty years, you well
know that I am one whose vengeance is somewhat deadly; and that
however strong you may feel yourself, it were better to incur the
hatred of a whole host of monarchs, than that of so humble a thing as
I am. Curl not your proud lip, Sir President, but listen to me, and
let us both act wisely. I love you, and have loved you from your
childhood; and, in the great changes that are taking place around us,
we have advanced together--I, indeed, a step behind you; or, in other
words, you have gone on in search of high things and mighty destinies,
while I have had my objects, no less dear and precious to my heart,
though perhaps less pompously named in the world's vocabulary. Let us
not, now that we have done so much, and stood so long side by side,
turn face to face as foes. Doubtless you fear not me: but let me tell
you, Albert Maurice, that I am as fearless as yourself--nay, something
more so--for there are many mere words cunningly devised, and artfully
preached upon, by monks, and priests, and knaves, and tyrants, which
you fear, and I do not. But let us set all these things aside; it is
wisest and best for us both to labour on together, without suspicions
of each other. If, as you say, you know the secrets of the past, you
well know that I have no mighty cause to love Adolphus of Gueldres. In
what I have done to win him popularity, and to make him raise his eyes
to the hand of the sweet and beautiful Princess of Burgundy, I have
but followed your own directions, and no more; and you must feel and
know that his power over the people, and his hope of that bright lady,
are, when compared with yours, but as a feather weighed against a
golden crown."

The firmest heart that ever beat within man's bosom is, after all, but
a strange weak thing; and--though feelings very little short of
contempt and hatred were felt by the young citizen for his insidious
companion--though he knew that he was false and subtle, and believed
that even truth in his mouth was virtually a lie, from being intended
to deceive, yet, strange to say, the goodly terms that he bestowed
upon Mary of Burgundy, and the flattering picture he drew of his
hearer's probable success, soothed, pleased, and softened Albert
Maurice, and wiped away, for the moment, many of the individual
suspicions he had been inclined to entertain before.

It must not be supposed, however, that those suspicions, thus
partially obliterated, did not soon return. They were like the
scratches on an agate, which a wet sponge will apparently wipe away
for ever, but which come back the moment that the stone is dry again,
and cloud it altogether. He knew Ganay too well, he saw too deeply
into the secrets of his subtle heart, to be ever long without doubt of
his purposes, though artful words and exciting hopes, administered
skilfully to his passions, would efface it for a time. If this
weakness, and it certainly was a great one, did not influence his
conduct, it was, perhaps, as much as could be expected from man.

"I mean not, Ganay," he said, "either to taunt you or to pain you; but
as our objects are different, as you admit yourself, I do you no
wrong, even on your own principles, in supposing that as soon as those
objects are no longer to be gained by aiding and supporting me, you
will turn to some one whose plans may better coincide with your own.
My purpose, then, in showing you how thoroughly I know you, is, that
you may have the means of seeing that it would be dangerous to abandon
my interest for that of any other person; and that you may balance in
your own mind the advantages and difficulties on either side. But, as
you say, to drop this subject, and never to resume it again, unless
the day should come when separate interests and different feelings may
oppose us hostilely to each other, tell me, candidly and fairly, do
you think that, if we encourage the popularity of him of Gueldres, in
opposition to this proud Duke of Cleves, we may safely count upon his
ultimate failure; for did I believe that there were a possibility of
his success, I would slay him myself ere such a profanation should
take place:" and as he spoke he fixed his eyes upon the face of the
druggist, in order to make the expression of the other's countenance a
running commentary upon the words he was about to reply.

"I think," replied the druggist, firmly, and emphatically, "that
Adolphus of Gueldres--stigmatized by the pure immaculate world we live
in, as the blood-stained, the faithless, the perjured, the violator of
all duties and of all rights--has as much chance of obtaining heaven,
as of winning Mary of Burgundy. I tell you, Albert Maurice, that she
would sooner die--ay, die a thousand times, were it possible, than wed
the man she has been taught to hate from her infancy."

"I believe she would," murmured the young citizen, calling to mind the
demeanour of the princess, when giving the order for the liberation of
the Duke of Gueldres; "I believe she would, indeed."

"Besides," continued the druggist, "besides, she loves another. Ay,
Albert Maurice, start not, she loves another! What, man," he
continued, seeing his companion change colour, "are you so blind? I
had fancied that all your hopes, and one half your daring, had birth
in that proud consciousness."

Never dreaming that his companion would announce so boldly what was
still but one of the most indistinct visions of hope, even within his
own bosom--a vision, indeed, which was the prime motive of all
thoughts and actions, but which he had never dared to scrutinize
carefully--Albert Maurice, with all the irritable jealousy of love,
had instantly concluded that Ganay, in the first part of what he said,
had alluded to some other object of the princess's affection, and his
cheek for a moment turned pale. Otherwise he might have paused to
consider whether the somewhat over-enthusiastic tone was not assumed
to blind and mislead him; but the latter part of the other's speech
set the blood rushing back into his face with renewed force; and his
own passions proved traitors, and lulled to sleep the sentinels of the

"Mark my words," continued Ganay; "mark my words, and see whether, by
the grey dawn of to-morrow, you are not sent for to the palace. But
remember, Albert Maurice, that though patriotism may lead a man to the
summit of ambition; and though love, as well as glory and authority,
may become the fitting reward for services rendered to his country,
yet, in the path thither, he must never sacrifice his duty for any of
those temptations, or he will surely lose all and gain nothing."

A slight smile passed over the features of Albert Maurice--whose
passions, in this instance, did not interfere to blind his native
acuteness--when he saw what use his artful companion could make of the
words duty and patriotism, while it served his purpose, though, at
other times, he might virtually deny the existence of such entities.
"How mean you?" he said. "Your position, good friend, is general, but
you have some more particular object in it."

"I mean," replied Ganay, "that should Mary of Burgundy use all those
sweet words, which love itself teaches woman to employ in moving the
heart of man, in order to shake your duty to your country, and make
you work out the safety of two convicted traitors, you, Albert
Maurice, must have firmness enough to say, no, even to her you love,
remembering, that if you let them escape, even into banishment--you
may look upon the marriage of Mary of Burgundy with the Dauphin of
France as an event not less sure than that you yourself exist. Look,
too, a little farther, and think of the consequences. Even supposing
you could brook your personal disappointment, and calmly see her you
love in the arms of the weak boy of France, what would befall your
country? Already one half of the nobles of Burgundy and Flanders have
gone over to the French! Already half our towns are in possession of
Louis, that most Christian knave; and at the very first breathing of
the news, that a treaty of marriage was signed between the heirs of
France and Burgundy, the whole land would rush forward to pass beneath
the yoke, while the blood of those who sought to save their country,
would be poured out in the streets of Ghent, to expiate the crime of

"Fear not," replied Albert Maurice; "proved as it is, beyond all
doubt, that these two men have dared to negotiate the sale of their
native land to him who has been its great enemy, there is no power on
earth that could induce me to interpose and save them from the
outstretched arm of justice. They shall be fairly heard, and fairly
tried; and if it be shown, which it cannot be, that they are
guiltless, why let them go, in God's name, as free as the blast of the
ocean: but, if they be condemned, they die, Ganay."

"So be it," said the druggist; "in this instance, at least, justice to
your country is your only chance of personal success; and now, good
night, and every fair dream attend you."

Thus ended their long conference; and Ganay, descending from the hall,
woke his two sleepy attendants, who were nodding over an expiring fire
in the vestibule below. Each instantly snatched up his sword and
target, to conduct his master home, for the streets of Ghent were not
quite so safe, since the death of Charles the Bold, as they had been
under his stricter reign. A boy with a lantern preceded the druggist
on his way homeward; and as he walked on across the Lys towards the
church of St. Michael, the subtle plotter bent his eyes upon the
ground, and seemed counting the stones, as the chequering light of the
lantern passed over them. But his thoughts were not so void of matter;
and he muttered words which showed how deeply some parts of his late
conversation--those which had seemed to affect him but little at the
time--had in reality sunk into his heart. "He is quieted for the
present," he said, "and he must do out his work, but he must die--I
fear me he must die; and yet my heart fails me to think it. Why and
how did he learn so much? and why was he mad enough to breathe it when
he had learned it? But I must think more ere I determine. Those
papers! he added--those papers--if I could but get at those papers!
Whatever hearsay knowledge he may have gained, he could make out
nothing without those papers."

While thus--muttering to himself broken sentences of the dark purposes
which dwelt within his own bosom--the druggist pursued his way
homeward, Albert Maurice retired to his bed-chamber in the town-house,
and summoned his attendants to aid in undressing him. No man really
more despised the pomp and circumstance of state; but since he had
taken upon himself the government of Flanders, for the power he had
assumed was little less, he had in some degree affected a style of
regal splendour, and attendants of all kinds waited his commands. The
necessity of captivating the vulgar mind by show, and of impressing on
the multitude respect for the office that he held, was the excuse of
the young citizen to himself and others; but there was something more
in it all than that--a sort of flattering stimulus to hope and
expectation was to be drawn from the magnificence with which he
surrounded himself; and he seemed to feel, that the thought of winning
Mary of Burgundy was something more than a dream, when he found
himself in some sort acting the monarch in her dominions. He felt,
too--and there might be a charm in that also--that he acted the
monarch well; and that the robes he had assumed became him, while the
native dignity of his whole demeanour, and the unaffected ease with
which he moved amidst the splendour he displayed, dazzled the eyes of
those who surrounded him, so that he met nothing but deference and
respect from all.

He slept that night as calmly in the couch of state as if he had been
born amongst the halls of kings; and he was still in the arms of
slumber, when a page woke him, announcing as Ganay had predicted, that
the princess required his presence at the palace with all speed. He
instantly rose, and dressing himself in such guise as might become him
well without incurring a charge of ostentatious presumption, he
proceeded to obey the summons he had received; and was led at once to
the presence of Mary of Burgundy.

The princess, as usual, was not absolutely alone; for one of her
female attendants--the same who had accompanied her during the
thunderstorm in the forest of Hannut--now remained at the farther
extremity of the room, but at such a distance as to place her out of
earshot. It was, indeed, as well that it should be so; for Mary was
prepared to plead to her own subject for the life of her faithful
servants--a humiliation to which the fewer were the witnesses
admitted, the better. The feeling of the degradation to which she
submitted, was not without a painful effect upon Mary's heart, however
gentle and yielding that heart might be; and the struggle between
anxiety to save the ancient friends of her father and herself, and the
fear of descending from her state too far, wrote itself in varying
characters upon her countenance, which weeks of painful thoughts and
fears had accustomed too well to the expression of agitated

It was still, however, as beautiful a picture of a bright and gentle
soul as ever mortal eye rested on; and as Albert Maurice gazed upon
it, half shrouded as it was by the long black mourning veil which the
princess wore in memory of her father's death, he could not but feel
that there was a power in loveliness like that, to shake the sternest
resolves of his heart, and turn him all to weakness. The agitation of
his own feelings, too; the hopes that would mount, the wishes that
could not be repressed, rendered him anxiously alive to every varying
expression of Mary's face; and without the vanity of believing that
all he saw spoke encouragement to himself, he could not but dream that
the colour came and went more rapidly in her cheek, that her eye more
often sought the ground while speaking to him, than in the most
earnest consultation with her other counsellors. Perhaps, indeed, it
was so; but from far other causes than his hopes would have led him to
believe. Seldom called to converse with him but in moments of great
emergency, Mary was generally more moved at such times than on other
occasions, and when agitated, the eloquent blood would ever come and
go in her cheek, with every varying emotion of heart.

In him, too, she met one of a class with which she was unaccustomed to
hold any near commune; and, at the same time, there was a power, and a
freshness, and a graceful enthusiasm in all the young burgher's
demeanour, which never can be without effect upon so fine a mind as
that of the princess. Perhaps, too, though had she ever dreamed that
such a thing as love for her could enter into his imagination, she
would have been as cold as ice itself--perhaps, too, she might feel
that there was something of admiration in the young burgher's eyes,
which she would not encourage, but at which she could not feel
offended, and which she might have done something to check, had she
not felt afraid of wounding and alienating one whom it was her best
interest to attach. Nevertheless, it might be the very desire of doing
so, and the fear of giving pain, that agitated her still more, and
rendered her manner more changeful and remarkable.

Such were their mutual feelings, varying through a thousand fine
shades, which would require a far more skilful hand than that which
now writes to portray, when they met on that eventful morning, the
sovereign to solicit and the subject to deny.

A few words explained to Albert Maurice the cause of the call he had
received to Mary's presence; and the occasion having once been
explained, she went on, with gentle but zealous eloquence, with a
flushed cheek and a glistening eye, to beseech him, by every motive
that she thought likely to move his heart, to save the lives of her
faithful servants.

"Indeed, dear lady," he replied, "you attribute to me more power than
I possess; for much I fear, that, even were I most anxious to screen
two men, accused of selling their native land to a foreign prince,
from a judicial trial and judgment, I should be totally unable to
bring such a thing to pass. Willingly, most willingly, would I lay
down my own life for your service, madam, and be proud to die in such
a cause; but to pervert the course of justice would be a far more
bitter task to Albert Maurice than to die himself."

"But remember, sir! oh, remember!" replied Mary, "that we are told to
show mercy, as we hope for mercy; and still further remember, that, in
their dealings with France, the Lords of Imbercourt and Hugonet were
authorized by my own hand; and if there were a crime therein
committed, I am the criminal alone! The act was mine, not theirs, as
under my commands they went."

"Your Grace is too generous," replied the young burgher, "to take upon
yourself so great a responsibility, when, in truth, it is none of
yours. How reluctant you were to treat with France, no one knows
better than I do; and what unjust means must have been used to induce
you, I can full well divine."

"Nay, nay, indeed!" she said; "it was my voluntary act, done upon due
consideration; and no one is to blame, save myself."

"If, lady," rejoined Albert Maurice, speaking in a low but solemn
tone, "if you, indeed, do wish for this French alliance, if you desire
to unite yourself with your father's pertinacious enemies, if, as your
own voluntary act, you would give your hand to the puny boy, whose
numbered days will never see him sovereign of France, and who can
alone serve to furnish a new claim to Louis XI. for annexing your
territories to his own--if, I say, such be your own sincere desire, I
will, most assuredly, announce it to the states general."

"If I say that it is so, will it save the lives of my two faithful
servants?" demanded Mary, anxiously, while her heart beat painfully
with the struggle between the desire of rescuing her counsellors, and
her shrinking abhorrence of the marriage proposed to her. "Will
it--tell me--will it save them?"

"I cannot promise that it will," replied Albert Maurice. "The states
must decide, whether those who counselled such an act are not still
most guilty, though your Grace was prevailed upon to sanction it. Nor,
lady, must you think that such a sacrifice on your part would achieve
even the pacification of France and Burgundy. Be assured, that there
is not an unbought man in all Flanders who would not shed the last
drop of his blood ere he would consent to the union of the two
countries. Nor do I believe that Louis of France himself would accede.
He claims the whole of your lands, madam, upon other titles. Burgundy
he calls his own by right of male descent; the districts of the Somme
he declares to have been unjustly wrung from the crown of France; and
the counties of Flanders and Artois, he says, are his of right, though
he has not yet deigned to yield a specification of his claim.
Doubtless he has striven to buy your servants and your counsellors;
and many of them has he purchased, not to promote your union with his
son, but to betray your lands and cities into his power."

"But these faithful friends," said Mary, "these noble gentlemen whom
you now hold in captivity, are all unsoiled by such a reproach."

"Your pardon, madam," replied Albert Maurice, gravely; "such is one of
the chief crimes with which they are charged. Good evidence, too, it
is said, can be produced against them; and though I have not myself
examined the proofs, yet I fear they will be found but too strong."

Mary stood aghast, not that she believed the accusation for a moment,
but that any one should find means of advancing even such a pretext
against those whose honour seemed in her eyes too bright for such a
stain to rest upon them for a moment. "Oh, save them!" she exclaimed,
at length, with passionate eagerness. "Save them, sir, if you love
honour, if you love justice! Look there," she continued, advancing to
the high window of the apartment, and pointing with her hand to the
scene spread out below; "Look there!"

Albert Maurice gazed out, in some surprise. It was, indeed, as fair a
sight as ever he had looked upon. The situation of the casement at
which he stood, in a high tower, long since demolished, commanded an
extensive view over the whole country round. The sun had not risen
above an hour. The world was in all the freshness of early spring. The
mists and dews of night, flying from before the first bright rays of
day, had gathered together in thin white clouds, and were skimming
rapidly towards the horizon, leaving the sky every moment more blue
and clear. Ghent lay yet half asleep beneath the palace, with its
rivers and its canals constantly gleaming in, here and there, amongst
the grey, sober-coloured houses, while innumerable monasteries, with
their green gardens, and churches, with their tall spires, broke the
monotony both of colour and of form, and pleasantly diversified the
scene. As the eye wandered on over the walls, past the suburbs,
through a maze of green fields and young plantations, a fair,
undulating country met its view, interspersed with deep, brown woods,
from which, every now and then, rose a village spire, or a feudal
tower, while the windings of the Scheldt and the Lys, with every now
and then an accidental turn of the Lieve, were seen glistening like
streams of silver through the distant prospect. Over all the ascending
sun was pouring a flood of the soft light of spring, while the clouds,
as they flitted across the sky, occasionally cut off his beams from
different parts of the view, but gave a more sparkling splendour, by
contrast, to the rest.

"Look there!" said Mary of Burgundy, "look there! Is not that a fair
scene?" she added, after a moment's pause. "Is not that a beautiful
land? Is it not a proud and pleasant thing to be lord of cities like
this, and countries like that before you? Yet let me tell you, sir, I
would sacrifice them all. I would resign power and station, the broad
lands my father left me, the princely name I own; ay, and never drop a
tear to know them lost for ever, so that I could save the life of
those two noble gentlemen now in such peril by false suspicions. Oh,
sir, I beseech, I entreat; and, did it beseem either of us, I would
cast myself at your feet to implore that you would save them. You
can--I know you can; for well am I aware of all the power which, not
unjustly, your high qualities have obtained amongst your fellow
citizens. Oh, use it, sir, for the noblest, for the best of purposes!
use it to save them at my entreaty, and for my sake."

As she spoke, agitation, eagerness, and grief overcame every other
consideration, and the tears streamed rapidly over her fair cheeks,
while, with clasped hands, and raised-up eyes, she sought to move her
hearer. Nor was he unmoved. On the contrary, he was shaken to the very
heart. That stern determination which he thought virtue, the ambition
which rose up beside patriotism, and was beginning to overtop the
nobler shoot--all were yielding to the more powerful force of love;
or, if they struggled, struggled but feebly against that which they
could not withstand. His temples throbbed, his cheek turned pale, his
lip quivered, and words were rising to utterance which might, perhaps,
have changed the fate of nations, when quick steps and loud voices in
the ante-chamber attracted the attention both of himself and the

"Stand back, sir!" exclaimed the coarse tones of the Duke of Gueldres.
"By the Lord! if the princess is in council with any one, as you say,
the more reason that I should be present at it. Am not I one of her
counsellors, both by birth and blood?"

By this time he had thrown open the door; and, striding boldly into
the chamber, he advanced with a "Good morrow, fair cousin: if you be
in want of counsellors, here am I ready to give you my advice."

Mary's cheek turned pale as he approached; but she replied,
mournfully, "My best and most tried counsellors have been taken from
me, sir, and I know not in whom I may now trust."

"Trust in me, fair cousin, trust in me," replied the Duke; but Albert
Maurice interrupted him.

"I believe, sir," he said, "that it is customary for the princess,
when she wants the counsel of any individual, to send for him, and for
none to intrude themselves upon her without such a summons. I, having
been so honoured this morning, and having received her commands, shall
now leave her, doubting not that she will be well pleased that we both

"School not me, Sir Citizen," replied the Duke of Gueldres, fiercely;
"for, though you fly so high a flight, by the Lord! I may find it
necessary some day to trim your wings."

Albert Maurice replied only by a glance of withering contempt, which
might have stung the other into some new violence, had not Mary
interposed. "I did not think to see such wrangling in my presence,
gentlemen," she said, assuming at once that air of princely dignity
which became her station; "I would be alone. You may retire!" and for
a single instant the commanding tone and the flashing eye reminded
those who saw her of her father, Charles the Bold.

The rude Duke of Gueldres himself was abashed and overawed; and,
having no pretence prepared for remaining longer, he bowed, and strode
gloomily towards the door, satisfied with having interrupted the
conversation of the princess and Albert Maurice, of which he had from
some source received intimation. The young citizen followed, not sorry
to be relieved from entreaties which had nearly overcome what he
believed to be a virtuous resolution, although--with that mixture of
feelings from which scarcely any moment in human life is exempt--he
was pained and angry, at the same time, to be forced to quit the
society of one so beloved, however dangerous that society might be to
his well considered purposes. He bowed low as he departed; and Mary,
dropping the tone of authority she had assumed, with clasped hands,
and an imploring look, murmured, in a low tone, "Remember! oh,

The Duke of Gueldres proceeded down the stairs before him, with a
heavy step and a gloomy brow. Nevertheless, that prince, whose cunning
and whose violence were always at war with each other, only required a
short time for thought, to perceive that he could not yet, amidst the
bold designs which had been instilled into his mind, dispense with the
assistance and support of the young citizen; and he determined, as
speedily as possible, to do away any unfavourable impression which his
rude insolence might have left upon the mind of the other.

"Master Albert Maurice," he said, as soon as they had reached the
vestibule below, "i'faith I have to beg your pardon for somewhat sharp
speech but now. Good sooth, I am a hasty and a violent man, and you
should not cross me."

"My lord duke," replied Albert Maurice, gravely, but not angrily,
"your apology is more due to yourself than to me. It was the Duke of
Gueldres you lowered: Albert Maurice you could not degrade; and as to
crossing you, my lord, that man's violence must be a much more
terrible thing than I have ever met with yet, that could scare me from
crossing him when I felt it my duty to do so."

The Duke of Gueldres bit his lip, but made no reply; for there was a
commanding spirit about the young burgher, which, supported by the
great power he possessed in the state, the other felt he could not
cope with, at least till he had advanced many steps farther in popular
favour. He turned away angrily, however, seeing that conciliation was
also vain; and, flinging himself on his horse, rode off with the few
attendants whom he had collected in haste to accompany him to the

Albert Maurice returned more slowly to the town-house, clearly
perceiving that the coming of the Duke of Gueldres, in the midst of
his conference with the princess, had not been accidental, and
endeavouring, as he rode on, to fix with certainty upon the person who
had given that prince the information on which he had acted.


A day intervened: but at noon on that which followed, an immense,
dense crowd was assembled in the open space before the town-house of
Ghent. Nevertheless, though the multitude was perhaps greater than
ever the Square of St. Pharaïlde had contained before, there was a
stillness about it all, which spoke that men were anticipating some
great event. Each one who spoke addressed his neighbour in that low
tone which argues awe: but by far the greater part of the people
remained perfectly silent, with their eyes turned towards the
town-house, immediately in front of which stood a scaffold, hung with
black cloth, supporting two low blocks of wood, and surrounded by a
large party of the burgher guard. A still larger body of the same
troops kept the space between the scaffold and the public building
before which it was placed; and, in all, the armed force present
seemed more than sufficient to keep order and overawe the
evil-disposed. In fact, the regular municipal power had been increased
to an extraordinary degree during the last fortnight, both by an
extended levy amongst the citizens themselves, and by the raising of a
number of extraordinary companies from amongst the peasantry of the
neighbouring districts, joined to all such disbanded soldiers as were
willing to enrol themselves under the banners of the commune. The
trained force thus at the disposal of the town-council of Ghent
amounted to at least seven thousand men, and, on the morning of which
we speak, a great part of this body were drawn up between the
town-house and the scaffold, and in the main court of the building.

At the same time, it is to be remarked, that almost all the burghers,
and a number of the peasantry of the country round about, had provided
themselves with warlike weapons, since the first disturbances which
followed the death of the duke; so that the multitude which thronged
the space before the town-house appeared universally in arms. The
principal weapons with which they had furnished themselves were long
pikes; and any one gazing over the market-place might have fancied it
crowded by an immense body of dismounted lancers; but, at the same
time, a number of the more wealthy were provided with swords also; and
one or two appeared more in the guise of regular men-at-arms than
simple citizens.

It was remarked that amidst the assembly were a number of persons with
somewhat hard features and weather-beaten countenances, habited in the
ordinary dress of peasants, but in general better armed than the rest
of the people. These men seemed to have but few acquaintances in the
town, but wherever any two of them met, they appeared instantly to
recognise each other; and, by a quiet, unobtrusive, but steady
movement forward, they gradually made their way one by one through the
crowd, to the immediate vicinity of the scaffold. Another
circumstance, also, was noticed by those persons in the crowd who
employed all their vacant moments in looking about them, which was,
that, close to the head of one of the bands of the burgher guard, and
conversing from time to time with the officer who commanded it,
appeared a young man of a powerful and active form, dressed as a
common man-at-arms, with the beaver of his helmet, at what was called
the half-spring; in short, so far open as to give him plenty of air,
yet not sufficiently thrown up to expose his face.

In those days, it must be remembered that the appearance of men in
armour had nothing extraordinary in it, either in the country or the
town, and consequently such a sight was not at all uncommon in the
streets of Ghent at any time; but it had become far more so since the
burghers had assumed the authority they now claimed, as not a few of
the rich young merchants, every now and then, chose to ape the nobles,
whom they were desirous of overthrowing; and would appear in the
streets, clothed, like the ghost of Hamlet's father, in complete

Whether the captain of the band to whom the stranger addressed
himself, was or was not previously acquainted with the man-at-arms, he
seemed well pleased with his company, which certainly somewhat tended
to relieve the irksome anticipation of a disagreeable duty. Their
conversation, however, soon appeared to turn upon more important
matters; and they spoke quick and eagerly, though in so low a tone,
that only a few words of what they said reached the bystanders.

"I wish them no ill, poor wretches, God knows," the captain of the
band was heard to say, in reply to something the other had whispered
the moment before. Two or three indistinct sentences succeeded; and
then, he again answered, "If any one would begin, I would follow! we
have as good a right to a say in the matter as any one else."

Again the man-at-arms spoke with him rapidly; and the other rejoined
in a low and hurried tone--"Stay! I will see what the men say! Stand
back, sir!" he added, pushing back, angrily, one of the crowd, who
intruded upon the open space, and came within earshot. He then walked
leisurely along the file of men that he commanded, speaking a few
words, now to one, now to another; and then, turning back with an air
of assumed indifference, he said to the person with whom he had before
been speaking, "It will do! They do not want any more blood spilt.
They are all murmuring, to a man. Go and talk with the captain on the
other side."

While this was passing in the immediate vicinity of the scaffold,
several of the persons I have described as looking like weather-beaten
peasants, had, in making their way through the crowd, paused to speak
with a number of the citizens; at first asking some questions in
regard to the multitude, and the dark preparations before the
town-house, as if ignorant of what had lately taken place in the city.
They then generally proceeded to comment on the reply made to them;
and then something was always said about the shame and horror of
staining their market-place with public executions for state crimes
which the events of a few weeks might render no crimes at all.

Thus, one of them demanded of a fat burgher, by whom he passed, "Why,
what is the matter, neighbour? This looks as if they were going to cut
off some one's head."

"And so they are, to be sure," replied the citizen. "They are going to
do execution upon the Lord of Imbercourt, and Hugonet the Chancellor,
who were condemned this morning for treating with France and receiving

"Ay, did they receive bribes?" rejoined the peasant: "that is strange
enough; for I always thought that they were as free and liberal of
their gold to those who needed it, as any men living, and coveted
nothing belonging to another; and those are not the sort of men, I
have heard say, who usually receive bribes."

"Ay, that is true enough, indeed!" answered the citizen, with a sigh.

"But did they really receive bribes?" persevered the peasant. "Was it
clearly proved?"

"No, no, I believe not," replied the citizen. "Proof they could not
get--proof they could not get; but there was strong suspicion."

"'Tis hard a man should die for mere suspicion, though; for who would
be safe if that were law?" said the other. "If I had been one of them,
I would have appealed to the King of France and court of peers."

"Why, so they both did," replied the citizen; "but they are to die for
all that."

"Then I would not be a citizen of Ghent for ten thousand crowns,"
answered the peasant; "for, by the Lord! Louis and his peers will be
like to hang every one of them that he catches; and it is a sad thing
to be hanged for spilling innocent blood. Were I one of the citizens
of Ghent, they should never stain the market-place in such a way while
I had a voice to raise against it."

"Ay, ay, it is very sad!" said the citizen: "and I dare say if any one
would begin, many a man would cry out against it too."

"Well, well," answered the other, "I must forward, and see what is
going on; and I hope some one _will_ cry out against it."

Thus speaking, the peasant, as he seemed to be, pushed his way on for
a little distance, and then, pausing by another of the citizens, held
with him a short conversation, like that which we have just narrated,
asking very nearly the same questions, and making very nearly the same
observations on the answers he received.

The instance which has just been particularized was only one out of
many; for in every part of the crowd were to be seen persons similar
in appearance to the man whose conversation we have just detailed, and
who acted precisely upon the same plan, though the words they made use
of might be slightly different. The man-at-arms who, as we have
mentioned, had been talking with the captain of one of the city bands,
in accordance with the intimation he had received, was, in the
meantime, making his way round to speak with the person who commanded
the company at the other side of the scaffold. As, in his apparent
military capacity, he strode boldly across the space kept clear in
front of the scaffold, and consequently encountered none of the
impediments which might have delayed him, had he attempted to proceed
through the crowd, he would, probably, soon have accomplished this
purpose; but at that moment a considerable noise and disturbance was
heard in the direction of the town-house, mingled with shouts of "They
are coming! They are coming!"

The ear of the man-at-arms immediately caught the sound. He paused
for a single instant; and then taking a step back to a spot whence he
could descry the intermediate space between the scaffold and the
town-house, he saw a body of people moving from the principal entrance
of that edifice, through a double line of the burgher guard. The
procession consisted of a number of the municipal council, a body of
various officers of state, Maillotin du Bac the Prevot marechal, two
executioners with naked axes, and the unfortunate nobles Imbercourt
and Hugonet, bound and bare-headed.

The man-at-arms instantly perceived that he would not have time to
accomplish what he proposed; and with three strides he placed himself
once more by the side of the officer with whom he had before been
speaking. Gathered at the same point were, by this time, at least a
hundred and fifty of the peasant-looking men whom we have before
described; and, forcing their way through the crowd in every
direction, with no longer any affectation of ceremony, or regard to
the convenience of those they thrust out of their way, there appeared
a number of others perfectly similar in appearance. The eyes of the
whole of this distinct body were evidently turned upon the
man-at-arms; and it was observed that the one who stood nearest to him
held something enveloped in the flap of his coarse brown coat, as if
to be given at a moment's notice.

"Now," said the man-at-arms, addressing the captain of the burgher
guard, "do your duty as a brave man, as a good citizen, and more, as a
good Christian, and you shall have plenty of support."

"But who are you?" demanded the captain of the guard, eyeing him
eagerly; "who are you, who so boldly promise support in such a case as

"I am the Vert Gallant of Hannut," replied the man-at-arms; and at the
same moment, stretching back his hand to the peasant behind him, he
received a broad green scarf and plume, the one of which he fastened
instantly in his casque, and waved the other, for a moment, high in
the air before he threw it over his shoulder.

The signal had an instantaneous effect. The brown coarse coats of the
peasants were thrown off, and they appeared armed in steel corslets
and brassards, while the distinctive marks of the well-known Green
Riders of Hannut were seen boldly displayed in the midst of the
streets of Ghent. Although where each of these men was making his way
onward, and at the point where so many had already congregated, this
sudden change occasioned a considerable sensation; yet the great body
of the crowd was agitated by so many different feelings, and the
tumult was at that moment so great, that the transaction did not
attract general attention. Almost every one throughout the multitude
was, indeed, moved by sensations of his own; and each nearly at once
gave voice to those feelings, as his eye happened to catch different
points in the scene that was passing in the square.

"They are coming! they are coming!" shouted some. "Where? Where?"
exclaimed others. "Who the devil are these?" cried those who saw the
green riders. "Death to the enemies of Ghent!" vociferated the fierce.
"Poor wretches! will no mercy be shown to them!" said the pitiful.
"What a large axe! How pale they look! Who are those behind?" cried
others of the crowd.

In the meanwhile the mournful procession came on. The new eschevins of
Ghent, elected by the people themselves, mounted the scaffold, and
ranged themselves around, to see the sentence they had lately
pronounced carried into execution. The two executioners took their
places by the blocks, and leaned the axes which they bore against
them, while they made themselves ready to go through the preparatory
part of their sad function. The condemned nobles followed after; and
several members of the municipal council--but Albert Maurice was not
amongst them--closed the whole, and occupied the only vacant space
left at the back of the scaffold. At the same moment a gentleman in
splendid arms, half concealed under a surcoat of costly embroidery,
followed by a number of richly-dressed attendants, forced his way
rudely through the crowd, and thrust himself close to the foot of the
scaffold, on the opposite side to that where the Vert Gallant had
placed himself. He then crossed his arms upon his broad, bull-like
chest, and stood gazing upon the awful scene that was proceeding
above, with a look of ruthless satisfaction.

The Lord of Imbercourt at once advanced to the front of the scaffold,
and gazed round upon the multitude before him. He was very pale, it is
true; but his step was as firm as when he strode the council-chamber
in the height of his power: and not a quiver of the lip, not a twinkle
of the eyelid, betrayed that there was such a thing as fear at his

"Must I die with my hands tied, like a common felon?" he said,
addressing the executioner.

"Not if your lordship is prepared to die without offering resistance,"
replied the other.

"I am prepared, sir," answered Imbercourt, "to die as I have lived,
calmly, honestly, fearlessly."

The executioner began to untie his hands; and the Vert Gallant, giving
one glance round the crowd, apparently to ascertain the proximity of
his followers, drew forward his sword-belt, and loosened the weapon in
the sheath. Imbercourt, at the same time, was advancing as far as
possible, as if to address the people, and the whole multitude, seeing
it, kept a profound silence; when suddenly, in the midst of the still
hush--just as the Vert Gallant of Hannut was passing round the head of
the file of burgher guards, till he was within a few steps of the
scaffold itself--a sweet and plaintive voice, which would have been
inaudible under any other circumstances, was heard from amongst the
crowd exclaiming, "Oh, let me pass! for God's sake, let me pass! They
are murdering my faithful servants. Let me pass; in pity, in mercy let
me pass!"

"It is the princess! it is the princess!" cried a number of voices:
"let her pass! let her pass!" and, by an involuntary movement of
feeling and compassion, the people drew hastily back on either side,
and Mary of Burgundy, in the deep mourning of an orphan, with her
bright hair escaped from her veil, and flowing wide over her
shoulders, her face deluged in tears, and her hands clasped in agony,
rushed forward into the open space, and, casting herself upon her
knees before the people of Ghent, exclaimed aloud the only words she
could utter, "Oh, spare them--spare them!"[9]

"Yes, yes," cried an honest burgher from the crowd, "we will spare
them. Out upon it! has not the prince always had power to show mercy?
Hark ye, neighbours, pikes and swords for Martin Fruse! On upon the
scaffold! We will save them!"

"Back, false citizen; back!" cried the cavalier in the glittering
dress we have described. "What, would you interrupt the course of
justice! By the sun in heaven, they shall die the death!" and, drawing
his sword, he threw himself between the people and the scaffold.

All was now tumult and confusion; and in one instant it seemed us if a
general spirit of civil strife had seized upon every part of the
multitude. Some shouted, "Mercy for them! mercy for them!" Some,
"Justice! justice! slay the traitors!" Pikes were crossed, and swords
were drawn on all sides. The burgher guards were as divided as the
people. Mary of Burgundy was borne fainting behind the scaffold; and
those upon the scaffold itself seemed paralysed by surprise and fear.
But the green scarfs and burgonets of the Riders of Hannut were seen
forcing their way forward through the press, in spite of all
opposition; and at the same moment the thundering voice of the Vert
Gallant was heard rising above everything else: "On, on to the
scaffold, friends of mercy!" he cried. "Lord of Imbercourt, cast
yourself over, you are amongst friends!"

Imbercourt might have done so; but he was instantly seized by
Maillotin du Bac, and one of the executioners, who unhappily awoke
from their first consternation in time to prevent him from seizing the
opportunity which was unexpectedly presented to him.

The Vert Gallant, however, pushed forward, sword in hand. All gave
way, or went down before him; the pikes opposed to his breast shivered
like withered boughs beneath his arm; and he was within a yard of the
spot where Imbercourt stood, when he was encountered, hand to hand, by
the cavalier we have before mentioned; and each found that he had met
an enemy very different from the burghers by whom they were
surrounded. Each was powerful and skilful; but the Vert Gallant had,
by more than twenty years, the advantage of his adversary; and feeling
that the fate of Imbercourt must be decided in the twinkling of an
eye--for the guards and executioners were forcing him down to the
block--he showered his blows upon his adversary with a thundering
rapidity that in a moment brought him upon his knees. He was still,
however, between the young cavalier and the scaffold; and, fierce with
the eagerness of the encounter, Hugh of Gueldres drew back his arm, to
plunge the point of his sword into the throat of his opponent, when
the voice of one of the cavalier's attendants exclaimed aloud, "Save
the duke! For God's sake, save the Duke of Gueldres! Forbear!

The Vert Gallant paused, gazing upon his prostrate enemy, with
feelings that can be understood, when it is remembered that it was his
own father, who, beaten down by his superior strength, lay within an
inch of his sword's point, raised for the purpose of terminating their
struggle by a parent's death. His eyes grew dim, his brain reeled, the
sword dropped from his hand, and he fell back upon the pavement,
without power or consciousness.

At the same moment, the axe of the executioner swung high in the air;
there was a dull, heavy blow, a rush of dark blood poured over the
scaffold, and the Lord of Imbercourt was no more.


It is a sad thing for a calm, retired student, to sit down and depict
the fierce and terrible passions which sometimes animate his
fellow-beings; and it is scarcely possible to tell how worn and shaken
his whole frame feels, after hurrying through some scene of angry
violence and wild commotion. He meets, indeed, with compensations in
pursuing his task. There may be a high and indescribable pleasure in
portraying the better qualities of human nature in all their grand and
beautiful traits; in describing sweet scenes of nature, and in
striving to find latent associations between the various aspects of
the material world and the mind, the feelings, or the fate of
ourselves and our fellow-men. Nay, more, there may be some touch of
satisfaction--part self-complacency, part gratified curiosity--in
tracing the petty things of humanity mingling with the finer ones, the
mighty and the mean counterbalancing each other within the same bosom,
and in discovering that the noblest of recorded earthly beings is
linked on to our little selves by some fond familiar fault or empty
vanity. But at the same time, though not so wearing as to paint the
struggle of mighty energies called forth on some great occasion, it is
even more painful, perhaps, to sit and draw the same strong passions
working by inferior means, and employing the low and treacherous
slave, _Cunning_, instead of the bold bravo, _Daring_. To such a
picture, however, we must now turn.

It was on the evening of the day, whose sanguinary commencement we
have already noticed, that, placed calmly by a clear wood fire, with
all the means of comfort, and even luxury around him, Ganay, the
druggist, sat pondering over the past and the future. Neither he
himself, nor Albert Maurice, had appeared at the execution of
Imbercourt and Hugonet--the one careless of what else occurred, so
that his bitter revenge was gratified--the other naturally abhorring
scenes of blood. The druggist, however--though where it was necessary
he neither wanted courage to undertake, nor hardihood to execute the
most daring actions--was ever well pleased to let more careless fools
perform the perilous parts of an enterprise, employing the time, which
would have been thus filled up by action, in thinking over the best
means of reaping his own peculiar harvest from the seed sown by
others. He now revolved every circumstance of his present situation,
and scanned the future--that dim and uncertain prospect--with steady
eyes, determined to force his way onward, through its mists and
obstacles, without fear and without remorse.

The predominant sensation in his bosom, however, was gratification at
the consummation of his long sought revenge. The man whom he most
hated on earth, who had offered him a personal indignity, and who had
refused pardon to his son, he had sent to join the unhappy magistrates
who had condemned that base and flagitious boy; and when he
contemplated the difficulties he had surmounted to bring about that
act of vengeance, the schemes he had formed and perfected, the events
which he had turned from their natural course, by his sole art, to
accomplish his purpose, the men he had used as instruments, and the
passions he had bent to his designs--when he contemplated, I say, the
whole course of his triumphant machinations, there rose up in his
bosom that pride of successful villany, which is so often the ultimate
means of its own punishment by the daring confidence which it

The maxim of Rochefoucault is applicable to men as well as women.
Where was there ever the man who paused at one evil act? Ganay had
previously determined to limit all his efforts to the death of the
eschevins and of Imbercourt; but his very success in that endeavour
had entailed the necessity, and furnished the encouragement, to new
and, if possible, less justifiable acts. Nevertheless, it must not be
thought that there was no such thing as a thrill of remorse ever
entered his bosom. There probably never yet was a man, however he
might brave it to the world, who, with a bosom loaded with crimes, did
not feel remorse when solitary thought left him a prey to memory.
Conscience is an Antæus, that, though often cast to the earth by the
Herculean passions of man's heart, rises ever again re-invigorated by
its fall; and he must be strong, indeed, who can strangle it

Remorse mingled its bitter drop even with the cup of Ganay's triumph;
and while he gazed upon the crackling embers, the joy of his successes
faded away; a feeling of age, and solitude, and crime, crept over his
heart; and the memories of other years--the hopes and dreams of
boyhood and innocence, rose up, and painfully contrasted themselves
with the mighty disappointment of successful vice. Through life he had
found many means of stifling such murmurs of the heart, in the
excitement of new schemes and the intricacies of tortuous policy; but
now he had learned another way of lulling the mind together with the
body; and, rising with his usual calm and quiet pace, he approached a
cupboard, poured a small silver cup half full of ardent spirits, and
then swallowed in its contents a certain portion of that narcotic
which he had found so soothing under the first anguish of his son's
death. Then carefully replacing the cup and the vial, he again took
his seat before the fire, and listened, as if waiting for some

He was not kept long in expectation; for, in a very few minutes after,
the door was opened by the boy, and Maillotin du Bac entered without
farther announcement. The cheek of the Prevot was flushed with wine,
and his lip curled with triumph; but he had by this time, learned the
influence of Ganay in the affairs of Ghent too completely to treat him
with aught but the most profound deference. After some formality, he
took the seat that Ganay offered; and hypocras and wine having been
brought in, with spices and comfits, he helped himself largely, and
then, at the request of the druggist, recapitulated the events
connected with the execution of the morning, which we need not repeat.

"So now," said the Prevot, in conclusion, speaking of the unhappy
Imbercourt, "he is dead, and that score is cleared. Master Ganay, I
give you joy, with all my heart! Your son's death is nobly avenged,
and you can sleep in peace. Now, give me joy in return."

"I do! I do! Sir Prevot," replied Ganay, grasping the hand the other
held out to him in his thin fingers: "I do! I do, with all my heart!"

"But stay! stay!" cried Maillotin du Bac; "you do not yet know for
what. Hark ye, Master Ganay, revenge is sweet to every honourable man.
Did you ever hear tell of the Vert Gallant of Hannut? Did you ever
hear how he overpowered me by numbers, and disgraced me as a man and a
knight? He delivered yon proud Albert Maurice, too, when he was a less
worm than he is now. Well, he it was, who, as I tell you, encountered
the good Duke of Gueldres, and would have slain him, had not his own
foot slipped, or some one dashed him down, and the duke was rescued."

"Well, well, what of him?" cried the druggist; "what has befallen

"Why, he is safe in the prison of the town-house," replied the Prevot,
"and shall die after seven days' torture, if I live to the end of
them. His fellows, somehow, cut their way through, and got out of the
press, every one of them; but he himself was trodden down as he lay,
by the people, and was taken up by the burgher guard, half dead, after
the crowd dispersed. We shall give him two or three days to recover.
There is no use of killing him like a rat caught in a trap, you know,
and just knocking his head against the stones, without letting him
know why or wherefore. No, no! we must give him time to recover his
strength and his senses, or he will die upon the first wheel. But
there is more--there is more to be told still," continued the Prevot,
rather heated by the wine, and seeing that the other was about to
reply. "Who, think you, this famous long-concealed Vert Gallant proves
to be at last? Who but the nephew of that old sorcerer, the Lord of
Hannut? and, by the holy cross! if ever I live to see quiet times
again, that vile, heathenish wizard shall roast in the market-place of
Brussels, if there be such a thing as law and religion in the land. I
knew it all the time! Bless you, Master Ganay, I saw through it all,
from the time I was at the castle. I told the Lord of Imbercourt
that his nephew was the brigand leader; you may ask him if I did
not--though, by the way, he won't answer, for he is dead--but
I told him, nevertheless, that I was sure it was the old man's
nephew.--Master Ganay, here's to you!"

Ganay had turned somewhat pale as the other spoke: but he showed no
farther sign of discomposure; and replied immediately: "His nephew!
You must mistake. He has no nephew. He once had a son!" he added, in a
voice, the tremulous tone of which the Prevot, whose faculties had not
been rendered more pellucid by the wine he had drunk, attributed to
the painful remembrance of his own loss--"he once had a son! But the
boy died in infancy."

"Nay," replied Maillotin du Bac, "of that I know nothing. All I know
is that this youth is his nephew--this Sir Hugh de Mortmar."

"But I tell thee, good friend, it cannot be," rejoined the druggist,
somewhat sharply. "No nephew has he. Surely I should know."

"Well, well, 'tis all the same," cried the Prevot. "If not his nephew,
he passes as such; and die he shall, after the torture has racked his
every limb. Ay, Master Ganay, he shall die," he added, clasping his
strong and sinewy hand tight, as if holding some substance which he
was determined to let no power on earth wring from his grasp; "he
shall die, although your precious President were to give his right
hand to save him; and if, out of what he calls his fine feelings, he
attempt to repay the good turn the Vert Gallant did him at Hannut, and
free him from prison in return, he may chance to stumble at that step
himself, and die along with him. I owe him something, too, which I
have not forgot. So let him look to it."

Ganay mused for several minutes over the words of his companion, who
spoke evidently under the excitement both of passion and drink. The
wine, however, had not very deeply affected his discretion; and the
moment after, remembering the close connexion between the druggist and
Albert Maurice, the Prevot added, "Not that I mean any harm to your
friend, Master Ganay, only let him not meddle with my prisoner, that
is all. I am sure I have refrained from Seeking any vengeance against
him himself, simply because he is your friend; and will not, if he
keep his hands from interfering with my affairs."

Still Ganay was silent, and remained musing, with his eyes bent upon
the fire, till he perceived that Maillotin du Bac, somewhat
discomposed by his companion's taciturnity, and imagining that he had
made a blunder in regard to Albert Maurice, was again about to apply
to the bowl of spiced wines, as the best means of restoring his
confidence and composure. At that moment the druggist, stretching out
his hand, caught him gently by the arm, saying, "Stay, stay, Master
Prevot, we have both had enough of that for the present; and as we may
have many things to speak of which require cool heads, let us refrain
till all is settled, and then drink our fill."

"Well, well, 'tis the same to me," rejoined the Prevot, relinquishing
the bowl, and taking his seat once again. "What would you say, Master
Ganay? Command me; for you know that we are linked together by the
same interests, and therefore are not likely to differ."

"Well, then, listen for a moment, good Sir Maillotin, while I just
tell you a few things concerning this Lord of Hannut, which, though
they belong to the days past, do not the less bear upon the days

The druggist then paused, and again mused for a moment in deep
thought, ere he proceeded; and in his countenance there was that air
of deep calculating thought, which may often be seen in the face of a
skilful chess player, when pausing, with suspended finger, over some
critical move. At length he went on: "We must both serve each other,
Sir Maillotin; and if you will aid me in what I propose, I will help
you to what you wish, though you dare not even hope for it."

"Speak, speak! Master Ganay," replied the Prevot; "and fear not that I
will refuse to serve you willingly and well. We have drawn vastly well
together yet; and there is no danger of our not doing so to the end."

Still however, the druggist hesitated for some minutes; for though he
could assume a false frankness as well as any one, he was not, by
nature, at all communicative, and what he had resolved, upon long
deliberation, to propose to the Prevot, required a more full
confidence than he could place in any one without pain. "I will tell
you a story," he said at length, "I will tell you a story, good
Maillotin du Bac. Listen then. 'Tis just two-and-thirty years ago
since I first heard much of this Lord of Hannut, who was then a
bright, brave young cavalier, whose life was not to be counted on for
two hours together, so much was his courage better than his prudence.
He had, as well you know he still has ample wealth and large
possessions, while his cousin, the present Duke of Gueldres, whose
father was then living, was so munificent a prince, as often to be
pinched for a hundred florins. Report said that the young duke, who
was then heir to Hannut, piously wished that his gallant cousin might
find the road to heaven speedily. But, as fate would have it, the Lord
of Hannut one day unexpectedly married, and within a year, his fair
lady made him the father of a son, of which she was delivered at their
pleasure-house of Lindenmar. All this went mightily against the
stomach of the good young Lord of Gueldres, whose father, then living,
kept him on scanty means; when, by another strange turn of fate, the
pleasure-house of Lindenmar was burnt to the ground, and the infant
son of the young Lord of Hannut perished in the flames. As fortune
would have it, a detachment of Duke Philip's army was marching over
the hill, within sight at the time, and with it was my good Lord of
Gueldres, together with Thibalt of Neufchatel, and a number of other
knights and nobles. As soon as the fire was discovered, they all
galloped down to put out the flames; and my Lord of Gueldres might
have passed for as zealous a friend as the rest, had he not been fool
enough to cry out, as if in jest, to let the whole place burn, so that
he had the lands of Hannut."

"He had better have kept that to himself," interrupted the Prevot,
shaking his head sagaciously. "No man has a worse enemy than his own
tongue. The good duke should have learned that it is better never to
let people know one's wishes, for they are never long in discovering
one's designs afterwards."

"He has marred all his good fortune through life," replied Ganay, "by
those rough sayings of his; for though he says no more than other men
think, yet he makes all men that hear him his enemies, by exposing
their feelings while confessing his own."

"However," continued the druggist, after this sage and liberal
observation, "down he came with the rest, of course, to make them
think what he said was a mere joke, and plunged into the flames with
the foremost. All was confusion, and no one knew what the other was
doing. The Lord of Hannut himself was stunned by the fall of a beam
upon his head, and was with difficulty dragged out by his servants.
Thibalt of Neufchatel, his great friend and brother in arms, carried
out the lady unhurt, through the midst of the flames; but the heir of
Hannut perished, and for some hours, no one could tell what had become
of Adolphus of Gueldres."

"Why you describe it all as well as if you had been there yourself,"
said Maillotin du Bac.

"I was there," replied the druggist, drily; "but you shall hear. What
put it into Thibalt of Neufchatel's head, I know not; but, after
saving the lady, he rushed back again into the house, and finding me
in the further wing, he dragged me out by the hair of the head, vowing
that I had kindled the fire. Now, you must know that I was then a
humble friend and domestic surgeon to the young Duke of Gueldres; and
when they searched my person, they found a number of letters, which
they thought of very doubtful meaning, and a few drugs, the use of
which their ignorance could not comprehend, and which they wanted much
to prove were materials for secretly lighting a flame. The good duke,
too, was not present; and, under all these circumstances, they had
nearly killed me on the spot. I took it all silently, for a man can
but die once in this world, and very little does it matter when that
once may fall. All I said was, to call my young lord, for that he
would clear me; and they agreed, at length, to spare me till the duke,
that is at present, could be found. He was not heard of, however, till
the next day, when it was discovered that he had retired to a
neighbouring village, much scorched by the flames. He instantly
despatched a letter to the Lord of Neufchatel, informing him that he
himself had sent me to inquire after the health of his fair cousins,
the Lord and Lady of Hannut, which was the cause that I had not been
seen accompanying him with the rest of the army. The servants of the
household of Lindenmar vouched for my coming the evening before on
that errand, and gave a good report of my proceedings. The Lord of
Hannut himself joined to exculpate me; and I easily found means to
convince Thibalt of Neufchatel that he had grossly ill-treated me, and
foully aspersed my character. Had he continued to treat me ill, I
might have devised a way to satisfy myself; but, on the contrary, as
soon as he was convinced of my innocence, nothing would serve him to
testify his sorrow for what had occurred, and to compensate the injury
he had inflicted. He kept his eye upon me through life, and, I may
well say, has been the origin of all my fortunes. The proofs he
gathered together of the charge against me, and of my innocence, he
has always kept in his own possession; and I have not chosen to press
for their being given up to me, lest it should seem that I was afraid
of anything therein contained. Do you understand me?"

"Quite well," replied Maillotin du Bac, drawing his clear hawk's eyes
together, with a shrewd glance upon the druggist's face; "quite well.
What more?"

"Why this," answered the druggist: "I love not be in the power of any
man. While Adolphus of Gueldres was in prison, and likely to remain
there--while Thibalt of Neufchatel was living, and likely to live--the
matter did not much signify; but now that Adolphus of Gueldres is
free, and that Thibalt of Neufchatel is dying of the wounds he
received at Nancy, it might be as well that those papers were in my
own possession. Thus, then, it must be managed, Sir Prevot: you must
find some excuse to take possession of his house with your men-at-arms
the moment the breath is out of his body; and while you are sealing up
the effects, I may be looking for the papers."

"But what, suppose I keep them in my possession for you?" demanded
Maillotin du Bac, with one of his shrewd looks.

"Why, then," replied the druggist, calmly, "I cannot aid you in
overthrowing Albert Maurice, and in obtaining possession of his person
and his wealth."

"I understand," said the Prevot; "we are agreed. But what surety have
I that you will do so when you have the papers?"

"This," answered Ganay, without any expression of indignation at a
doubt of his honesty, which he felt to be perfectly natural, but, at
the same time, approaching closer to the Prevot, and speaking in a
low, but clear and emphatic tone--"this, that Albert Maurice--by what
means I know not--has discovered my secret, and must die."

"Good! good!" replied the Prevot; "'tis better than a bond! We are
agreed, we are agreed, mine excellent good friend. But, hark ye,
Ganay, there is one bad stone in the arch. This Thibalt of Neufchatel,
this good Count Thibalt, is marvellously better to-day. It would seem
that the death of Imbercourt and Hugonet had done him good; for, about
the time of the axe falling, he began to mend."

Ganay, as was his habit when he heard any unpalatable tidings, replied
nought, but fixed his eyes upon the fire, and mused. "He is an old
man," said the druggist, at length, speaking in a low and quiet
voice--"he is an old man, this good Count Thibalt."

"Ay, doubtless is he," replied Maillotin du Bac, who was one of those
people who take a keen delight in discovering difficulties and
objections, solely for the sake of giving pain and disappointment to
those whom they were likely to thwart; "but he is a hale old man, and
may live these twenty years, if he get over this bout."

"He must have had enough of life," continued Ganay, in the same
meditative tone. "It is time he were asleep. Adolphus of Gueldres has
visited his sick couch more than once. It is time he were asleep."

The Prevot was silent; and Ganay, after considering his hawklike
features for a moment or two with an inquiring glance, added quietly,
"Well, well, Sir Maillotin, we will see. These sudden gleams of
convalescence often precede death in the badly wounded. I know these
matters better than you do, my good friend; and I have no faith in
this sudden and strange amendment. Let us keep ourselves in readiness,
and wait the result. You will be prepared at a moment's notice," he
added, in a more sharp and decided tone, throwing off at once the
quiet conversational manner of his former speech; "perchance he may
die to-morrow, perchance the next day; but be you on the watch, and
ever ready to secure the house."

"I will! I will!" answered Maillotin du Bac; and then speaking to the
druggist's purpose more than to his words, he added, "I will be ready
to secure the house and all that, Master Ganay; but I can do no more
in this business. To take men off except by the cord or the steel,
when they have merited their fate, is out of my line of operations."

"Who required you to do so?" demanded the druggist, gravely. "No, no,
Sir Prevot, men may die without your help or mine either. So, now to
the bowl! We understand each other, and that is enough. Be you ready
when I send to warn you that the good count is dead. If he live, you
know, which is likely, vastly likely--if he live, why all the rest is
in the moon. Sir Prevot, I carouse to your good rest this night; do me
justice--do me justice in the bowl!"

Thus ended their more important conversation; and all that passed
farther referred to the mysteries of the tankard, and need not be here
inflicted on the reader. It may be necessary to observe, however, that
the druggist did not suffer the Prevot Marechal to leave his house
till he had imbibed a sufficient quantity of various kinds of
intoxicating liquors to require the aid of two stout men to bear him
home; and that Ganay himself was, at the same time, incapable of
quitting the chair in which he sat.

It may be asked, was a man of such subtle schemes an habitual
drunkard, then? Far from it, though he could drink as deep as any one,
when some object might be gained by so doing: but he was one of those
men whose limbs only became inebriated, if we may use such an
expression, while their brain remains unclouded; and the debauch in
which he indulged was one of calculation, not pleasure. He had soon
seen that, in the case of the Prevot, the prudent guard which was
usually placed upon his lips was half asleep at the post long before
their conversation was over; and though he believed that he could
trust to old habits of caution to keep his companion from any
indiscreet babbling, either drunk or sober, yet he determined not to
let him leave his dwelling till utterance itself was drowned in wine.
Of himself he had no fear; and, leaning on his boy, he tottered to his
bed in silence.


Oh, the dull silent hours of the night, when not a sound stirs upon
the heavy air to steal one thought from man's communion with his own
dark heart!--when the stern silence renders the sleep that covers all
the world more like one universal death, and everything around us bids
our conscience scan the brief records of our past existence, and
prejudge us for the long eternity! The days had been, when, on a clear
spring-tide night, like that--while all the countless stars seemed
living diamonds in the heaven--Albert Maurice, full of fine soul and
noble aspirations, would have gazed forth enchanted; and, without one
heavy tie between his heart and the low earth, would have bade his
spirit soar up in grand, calm dreams to heaven--when, between him and
the multitude of bright orbs that sparkled before his eyes, there
would have been felt a communion and a sympathy; and when the
knowledge that each wondrous frame was the creation of the same
Almighty hand, would have awakened in his bosom a feeling of kindred
with the living lights of the sky. But now, how heavy was the night!
how dark! how hopeless! how reproachful! There was a voice even in the
solemn stillness; and the blood, which yet reeked upon the scaffold
beneath the very windows of the apartment where he sat, seemed crying
up, through the silence of the universe, to the Judge enthroned above
those eternal stars.

He was left, too, entirely alone, and had been so during the greater
part of the day; for such was the awful sensation produced in Ghent by
the events of the morning, that all the shops were shut, and every
kind of business was very generally suspended. Even the affairs of the
city seemed to be neglected by general consent. Neither the council of
the town, nor the deputies of the states, returned to consult over the
future. Nor was it the higher functionaries alone that seemed to feel
this sort of bewildered apathy. The clerks and secretaries were
absent; not above one or two of the many couriers usually in
attendance were now found in readiness; and Albert Maurice, after
having endeavoured, in vain, to occupy his mind with business during
the day, found himself, at night, left in utter solitude, to revolve
the tragedy of the morning, without any other thing to distract his
thoughts, or any voice to plead his cause against the accusation of
his own conscience.

He strove, however, to convince himself that he had acted justly. He
read over the evidence against the dead. He read over the sentence of
the judges. He thought over all the many specious reasons that had
before seemed to afford a thousand clear and patriotic excuses for
sweeping away those whose views were likely to thwart his own: but the
reasons had lost their force; the sentence was manifestly unjust; the
evidence was broken and inconclusive.

"At all events," he thought, "the act is not mine; the award has been
pronounced by the lawful magistrates of the land; and I have taken no
part either in the judgment or its execution."

But that pretext would not avail a moment before the stern inquisitor
within; and he felt that he, in whom the real power lay, if he did not
interpose to shield the innocent, made himself responsible for their

The heart of man cannot long endure such racking self-examination; and
the most dangerous resource, but the only refuge from present pain, is
flight from thought. As sad an hour's commune with himself as ever
sinful human being passed, ended with Albert Maurice, in a resolution
to think no more of the unchangeable hours of the past, and to fix his
mind upon the present. After pausing for a moment, during which his
ideas wandered confusedly over a number of objects, without finding
any subject of contemplation of sufficient importance to withdraw his
thoughts, for an instant, from the engrossing theme that ever called
them back with painful importunity, some sudden memory seemed to come
across him; and, taking up one of the lamps, he proceeded into the
ante-chamber, in which waited several of his attendants. Giving the
light to a page, with orders to go on before, the young citizen paced
slowly through several of the halls and corridors of the town-house,
his footfall, ever firm and proud, taking now a more heavy and
determined step, from the feeling of the dark, stern deeds which he
had done. Descending one of the staircases, he came to that portion of
the building which was set apart as the municipal prison; and,
proceeding to a small chamber or lodge, he demanded the keys of the
gaoler, who was dozing by the fire.

The man immediately delivered them; and, passing onwards, the
President of the States entered the gloomy dwelling, and descended the
staircase which led to the lowest chambers of the prison. He was
surprised, however, to perceive a light; and the moment after, in the
low passage which ran between six or seven small heavy archways
leading to the cells, his eye fell upon a trooper of the Prevot's
guard, seated upon a stone bench at the end, employed in furbishing
the steel of his partisan by the light of a lamp above his head.

The man instantly started on his feet; and, challenging the party that
approached, advanced his weapon, till it nearly touched the bosom of
the page. But Albert Maurice, stepping past the boy, put the pike
aside, and demanded, sternly, what the soldier did there, in the
municipal prison.

He was there, the man replied, by order of his captain, and was
commanded to give admission to none, but the gaoler with food for the

"Your officer is somewhat too bold!" replied the young burgher, "and
must answer for having dared to place a sentry where he himself has no
authority. Get thee gone, good fellow--you know me--get thee gone; and
let me not see your face within these walls again."

The man at first hesitated; and at length refused to obey, alleging,
civilly, the commands of his own captain, which he was bound to
follow. Well knowing the station and power of the person whom he
addressed, he spoke with courtesy and respect; but Albert Maurice was
in that state of dissatisfied irritation, which the first reproaches
of conscience leave upon a fine and energetic mind; and, returning to
the upper chambers, he instantly summoned a guard, and caused the
soldier to be disarmed, and confined him in one of the very dungeons
he had been placed to watch.

There was a stern fierceness in the whole proceeding, unlike his usual
decisive but mild demeanour; and those who watched him well, remarked,
that upon his mind and character, such as they had appeared throughout
the whole course of his life, that day had left a trace which no
after-events could obliterate. When he had seen his orders obeyed, he
dismissed the guard, and bidding the page wait him on the stairs, he
advanced alone to one of the cells and applied the various keys he
carried to the lock. It was some time before he found the right one;
and he thought he heard more than one low groan, while employed in
opening the door. At length, however, he succeeded, and entered the
dungeon, which was dark and dismal enough.

Stripped of arms, both offensive and defensive, and stretched upon a
pile of straw, lay the gallant and enterprising Hugh de Mortmar, as we
have generally called him, with every limb powerless and rigid, in
consequence of the trampling and blows he had received while trodden
under foot in the market-place. His fine head leaned languidly upon
his arm, while, with a motion which, however slight, seemed full of
anguish, he turned a little as he lay, to see who it was that visited
his prison. The light, for a moment, dazzled his eyes; but when he
perceived the face of Albert Maurice, a slight smile of pleasure
played on his lip. It was a face he knew; it was a being on whom he
had some claim, that came to visit him; and it is only necessary to
think over his situation--friendless, a prisoner, and alone, with
every mental power oppressed, and every corporeal faculty rigid and
benumbed--to comprehend what joy such a sight must have given, however
criminal he might hold some of his visitor's deeds to be.

The young citizen set down the lamp, and seated himself on a rude
wooden settle, which was the only article of furniture that the place
contained. Bending down his head over the prisoner, he said, in a kind
and gentle tone, "Do you remember me?"

"Well, very well," replied the young cavalier, faintly; "we have
changed stations since we met."

"You will find me ready," answered Albert Maurice, "to follow the good
example you then set me, and to give you back freedom, for the freedom
you then gave me."

Hugh de Mortmar shook his head mournfully, and cast his eyes on his
stiff and rigid limbs, as if to express the impossibility of his
accepting the proffered liberation.

"Fear not, fear not!" said Albert Maurice, in reply to this mute
language. "Fear not; in two or three days you will be able to use your
limbs as freely as ever, and I will find means to remove from them all
other thraldom."

"But my father," exclaimed Hugh de Mortmar. "Tell me, I beseech you,
tell me! Is he safe? Is he unhurt?"

"Your father!" repeated Albert Maurice in some surprise--"your

"Yes, yes!" cried the prisoner, raising himself as well as he could
upon his arm, "my father, the Duke of Gueldres! Is he safe? Is he
unhurt? I struck him down before I knew him; but I do not think he was

"No, no," replied the young citizen, "the duke is safe and well. But
this, indeed, is a strange tale. I do not comprehend you well, I
fear," he added; somewhat inclined to believe that the injuries the
prisoner had received had rendered him delirious. "Can the Duke of
Gueldres be your father? I never heard that he had more than one
child, who was slain, they say, by some of the cruel soldiers of the
late Duke of Burgundy's father, when Adolphus of Gueldres himself was
taken near Namur. I remember all the circumstances; for there was many
an event occurred about that time which impressed the whole story more
deeply on my memory than other things that have happened since. I was
then a boy, travelling with my uncle through the forest of Hannut, and
we had been at Namur not three days before."

"Ha! and were you that boy?" demanded the young cavalier. "I remember
you well. You fell into the hands of the free companions with whom I
then was, and were sent on safely by them, and by my father's noble
cousin, the Lord of Hannut. Mind you the boy who joined you, with good
Matthew Gournay, when you were sitting round the freebooter's fire in
the forest?"

"Well, perfectly well," replied Albert Maurice.

"Then, that was the son of Adolphus of Gueldres," rejoined the
prisoner, "escaped from the hands of the sworders of the Duke of
Burgundy, and flying to seek and find protection and concealment with
his father's cousin, the Lord of Hannut. Such was the boy, and I am

"These things are very strange," said Albert Maurice; "and if you knew
all that I know, you would say so. Most strange, indeed!" he muttered
to himself, "that the bereaved father should become a second parent to
the son of him who made him childless. But let your heart rest
satisfied," he added aloud; "your father is well and safe; and you
have not even an unconscious crime to reproach yourself with."

He spoke mournfully, and then fell into a deep, long fit of thought,
from which he was only roused by the young cavalier demanding, whether
the noble Lord of Imbercourt had been saved, after all?

What were the thoughts at that moment in the bosom of Albert
Maurice--whether his mind rested painfully on the consciousness that
he could no longer boast of a guiltless heart, and pondered, with all
the bitter, wringing agony of crime, upon the blessed sweetness of
innocence--can only be guessed; but an involuntary groan burst from
the lips of the young citizen at the question of the prisoner, and he
clasped his hands upon his eyes.

Removing them an instant after, he answered, gazing somewhat sternly
upon his companion, "He died as he deserved."

Hugh of Gueldres replied not; but, feeble as he was, returned the
stern glance of Albert Maurice with one still more severe and
reproachful. The young citizen recovered himself, however, at once,
banished the frown from his brow, and, for the moment, even stifled
the regret within his bosom. "Let us not speak, my lord," he said, "on
matters of painful discussion. The man you asked for, was tried and
condemned by lawful judges, upon what they considered sufficient
evidence. He suffered this morning according to his sentence. Suffice
it, that I had no personal hand either in his doom or execution."

"Thank God for that!" said Hugh de Mortmar; "for I do believe that I
should look upon even liberty as stained, if received from the hands
of one who, for envy or ambition, could do two such noble men to death
as died this day in Ghent."

The blood rushed violently up to the face and temples of Albert
Maurice; and, for a moment, he felt so giddy, that he started up and
leaned against the wall for support. What he had said was true,
indeed, to the letter; but conscience told him, that he was not only
an accessory, but a principal in the death of Imbercourt; and, though
he had spoken truth, he nevertheless felt that he had deceived. There
was again a bitter struggle in his bosom; but it was soon over, for
the presence of another person shamed him into conquering the
upbraidings of his own heart.

"Let us say no more on that subject, my lord," he rejoined, as soon as
he had somewhat recovered his calmness. "It is a matter on which you
and I cannot, I fear, agree. I am bound, in justice to the States of
Flanders and the magistrates of Ghent, to say boldly, that I think
they have done nobly, firmly, and well; and though I took no part in
the act itself, yet the opinion of no man on earth will make me shrink
from avowing, that I would have done the same. But all this has
nothing to do with the feelings between you and me. Suffice it, that I
owe you a deep debt of gratitude, which I am ready and willing to pay.
You shall be instantly removed from this dungeon to a more convenient
chamber, where you shall be tended with all care, till such time as
you have recovered strength. If you will, your existence and your
situation shall be immediately communicated to the Duke of Gueldres.
But still, I think----"

"No, no," answered the prisoner, quickly; "no, no; if there be any
other means whatever of obtaining my freedom, without revealing who I
am, let me still remain concealed for a certain space. I know not well
whether the news of my existence might, or might not, be well
received. There are new plans and views abroad, I find, with which my
appearance might interfere. My father, I hear, aims at the hand of the
heiress of Burgundy."

A scornful smile curled the lip of Albert Maurice, while the other
proceeded:--"And I know not how he might love to hear, that a son he
has believed to be dead for twenty years, had now arisen to cumber his
inheritance. Let us pause for a time and see. Nor, indeed, would I
willingly be found a prisoner."

"I think you judge rightly, my lord," replied the young citizen;
"though the Duke of Gueldres will never marry Mary of Burgundy. But,
as to your freedom," he added, cutting short something that the
prisoner was about to reply, "for that I will pledge my life; and,
when once more beyond the walls of Ghent, you can act as you will in
regard to discovering yourself."

The motives of Hugh of Gueldres for wishing to conceal his existence
from his father for some time longer, were certainly those which he
had stated; but perhaps he might also be influenced by another
feeling. In mingling with men who knew him not for what he was, the
name of his father had never reached his ears, but coupled with some
opprobrious epithet, or in conjunction with some evil deed; and
perhaps a lingering disinclination to claim kindred with such a man,
might make him still glad to leave his station unacknowledged to the

Some farther conversation then ensued between the President of Ghent
and the son of the Duke of Gueldres; and though Albert Maurice became
often thoughtful and abstracted, though there was a varying and
uncertain tone in everything he said, unlike his usual calm and
dignified manner; yet, from the nature of the subjects to which they
now both restricted themselves, there was something sweet and pleasing
in the commune which they indulged. They spoke of the early days in
which they had first met, of the times, and the scenes, and the
pleasures, and the hopes of other years; and a kindly sympathy
breathing from the past, made for them, even in the prison, and
separate as they were by state, by station, by education, and by
prejudices, a peculiar atmosphere in which they seemed to live alone.
Hugh de Mortmar felt it strongly, and seemed to revive under its
influence. His voice became firmer, and his eye regained its light.

"And what," said Albert Maurice, after they had conversed some time on
the scenes in the forest of Hannut--"and what has become of that good
stout soldier, Matthew Gournay, who was, in some sort, a friend of my
worthy uncle Martin Fruse."

"He was with me, this day, in Ghent," replied the prisoner; "and I
trust in God has escaped beyond the gates. Many a time also has he
been the means by which I have communicated to you, through your
uncle, those proceedings which I thought it necessary that you should
know. Once, not a month since, he was within the walls of Ghent; but
could not obtain a private interview with you. Thus it was that you
received tidings of the march of the base King of France. Thus, of the
coming of his barber ambassador. Thus, too, did I send you a copy of
that degraded slave's instructions."

"Then I owe you far more than I ever dreamed of," replied the young
citizen, "and I will peril my life but I will repay it. Nevertheless,"
he added, after a moment's thought, in which suspicions, vague indeed,
but strong, of the motives and designs of the druggist Ganay, rose up
before his mind; "nevertheless, although for the time I am powerful in
the city, yet several days must elapse ere you can mount a horse. I
have many enemies, too--many false friends--many dangerous rivals; and
I would fain place your security beyond the chance of anything that
may happen to myself. Think you," he added, musing, "that Matthew
Gournay, with twenty of his picked companions, would venture once more
within the gates of Ghent, and, habited like followers of my own, be
ready to aid in your deliverance, whether I be alive or dead."

"If he have escaped," replied the prisoner, "he would come at my
bidding, were it into the jaws of hell. But you must make me certain
of his safety, Sir Citizen."

"That he has escaped, rest assured," replied Albert Maurice; "for no
one but yourself was taken: and as for his future security," he added,
with a smile, "what object think you I could have in shortening an old
man's days?"

A bitter reply rose in the heart of the young cavalier, as he thought
of the unhappy Lord of Imbercourt; but he felt it would be ungenerous
to give it utterance, and he refrained.

"I trust you, sir!" he replied; "I saved you at a moment when you were
an oppressed and injured man; and to doubt you now in such a case,
would be a kind of blasphemy against the God who made the human heart.
Take this ring, and send it by some sure messenger--a young boy,
perchance, were best, though I do not think they would maltreat any
one but an open enemy--but send it by some page in a small skiff down
the Scheldt at two hours after dusk. The boat will undoubtedly be
stopped; and let the page give the ring to Matthew Gournay, whom he
will find in the woods between this and Heusden, if he escaped unhurt
from Ghent. Let the boy add a message, bidding him, in my name, render
himself, with twenty of his comrades, to the house of good Martin
Fruse, at any hour that you may appoint. Fear not that he will meet
you, and then take counsel with him as you may think fit."

Some more explanations ensued; but as Albert Maurice perceived that
the prisoner was exhausted with so long a conversation, he soon after
bade him farewell, and left him. "For two days," he said, as he turned
to depart, "in all probability, I shall not visit you; for it may be
well not to excite any suspicion of my design. But you shall be
watched carefully night and day, that no foul practice be employed
against you; and at the end of the third day I trust to find you well
enough to bear at least a short walk to the river side. In the
meantime, as they have deprived you of your arms, for greater security
take this;" and he placed in his hands a broad double-edged Venetian
poniard, adding, "fear not to use it, should any one attempt to injure
you; for if they do, the means they employ must be of that kind which
does not court examination; and now, once more, farewell!"

The young citizen then retired; and though the more kindly and
noble feelings which his conversation with Hugh of Gueldres had
awakened--feelings untainted by the world's ambition or its
policy--could not; it is true, stifle entirely the cry of remorse; yet
there had been a balm in it all, that sent him forth soothed and
softened. He retired not to his chamber till he had given orders that
care and attendance should be shown to the prisoner, and that he
should be removed to a better chamber; but when, at length, he cast
himself upon his bed, fatigue, and the feeling that his heart was not
all bitterness, brought sleep, though it was disturbed; and he woke
not till the dawn looked in, and roused him from slumber.

Already, when he rose, the first poignancy of regret was gone; and the
wound in his heart had grown stiff and numb. The voice of self-love
was more ready to plead extenuation; and hope, always far more potent
than memory, told him that mighty things might yet be derived for love
and for his country, from the very deeds he so deeply regretted. At
all events, policy whispered that he must not let the moments slip;
and, though the immortal worm, remorse, was still slowly preying on
his heart, he rose prepared to forget the pang, in all the active
energy of watchful policy and great ambition.

Even while he was dressing, messenger after messenger, from different
parts of the country, bearing news, not alone of the movements of
friends and enemies, but also of the preparations which he himself had
been labouring to complete, was admitted to his presence. After
collecting the tidings that each one bore him, with a minute memory
that never failed, and arranging every particular in his own mind with
that methodical accuracy which rendered the whole available at a
moment's notice, he descended early to the hall, where he expected
soon to meet many envious and suspicious visitors, feeling that he
possessed a store of ready information on every subject, which he knew
must confound and overbear them all.

Strange to say--or, perhaps, not strange at all--the state of painful
irritation which he now suffered, appeared to render all the faculties
of his mind more acute and powerful. Naturally energetic, he had
acquired a new degree of energy, from the necessity of withdrawing all
his thoughts from the past, and fixing them on the present or the
future; and his comprehension of the most confused narrative seemed
more clear, his orders to the most stupid messenger more precise, than
ever they had been in the whole course of his public career.

An assembly of all the deputies from Flanders and Brabant had been
appointed for that day; but during the morning a number of persons
crowded the great hall in a desultory manner, long before any general
meeting of the states took place; and amongst the first that appeared
was Maillotin du Bac, with an air which expressed both a knowledge
that he had overstepped his authority, and a determination to resist
every effort to curb his nearly gratified revenge.

At another moment, Albert Maurice might have alone despised him, and
crushed him beneath his feet as a mere worm; but he well knew that
great power often trips at a small obstacle. He felt, too, that the
height he had reached was a giddy one; and that it might require to
stand some time on the dizzy pinnacle of power, in order to acquire
that firmness of footing which alone could justify him in despising
inferior enemies. His very elevation offended many; and, seeing that
the contention must soon commence between himself and the Duke of
Gueldres on the one hand, and the Duke of Cleves on the other, he
determined to leave the way unencumbered by any minor difficulties.
Not that he proposed for a moment to abandon his purpose towards the
prisoner he had left the night before: but he resolved to free him by
quiet policy, more than by bold and sweeping power.

"Sir Prevot," he said, as soon as their first salutation had passed,
"you did wrong, last night, in placing a sentry within the walls of
the municipal prison; and also somewhat harshly, in confining an
untried prisoner in one of the lower dungeons. Hear me, sir, to an
end," he added, seeing the other about to make some dogged reply: "I
have no intention of bringing the matter of your boldness before the
council, as I might have done; but the thing must not be repeated.
Should any like event arise again, I will take care the magistracy of
Ghent shall examine strictly what punishment is to be inflicted on
those who have frequently dared to infringe their privileges! Mark me,
and remember! for I will not pass it over a second time. Now, then,
before the states assemble, take one of my officers and visit the
prisoner. See whether he is able to undergo examination to-day, and
make me your report."

The Prevot was very glad to avoid any collision with the eschevins of
Ghent, and at the same time to see a fair prospect of his revenge
being accomplished; but, as it was far from the wish of Maillotin du
Bac that his prisoner should be examined before the states at all, he
instantly determined to report him as much too ill to meet the
proposed investigation.

At the same time, there was something in the demeanour of the young
citizen that surprised him. As men of shrewd but mean minds sometimes
are, in their estimation of nobler characters, he was generally right
in his appreciation of Albert Maurice, and usually perceived the great
object that the President was likely to seek in any particular
contingency, without, however, at all comprehending the inferior means
he would employ to accomplish his purpose. So much the contrary,
indeed, that after having judged correctly of the ultimate design, he
would often become puzzled and doubtful in regard to the accuracy of
his judgment even on that point, because the course pursued by the
young citizen was almost always totally different from the method
which he himself would have followed in order to arrive at the same
object, and totally opposed to all the axioms of his own meaner

Thus, in the present instance, he had sought the town-hall so early,
under the perfect conviction that the President of Ghent would attempt
to liberate the man who had before given him his freedom; believing,
at the same time, that the consciousness of such a purpose would cause
the aspiring citizen to avoid the subject, or to speak darkly upon his
own views. But the bold and proud manner in which Albert Maurice
rebuked his assumption of power in the town prison, and spoke of the
immediate examination of the prisoner, shook his conviction, and
almost made him believe that the same stern and uncompromising policy,
which had been pursued towards Hugonet and Imbercourt would be
followed throughout, without regard to any other feeling than selfish

The scenes which he soon witnessed tended to confirm this opinion; and
led him, however falsely, to believe that Albert Maurice forgot every
gentler and nobler feeling, every generous tie and private affection,
in the overpowering impulse of an aspiring heart. Scarcely had the
order proceeded from the lips of the young citizen to inspect the
condition of the prisoner, ere two or three members of the states
entered the hall. Several others followed within a very short
interval; and as soon as Albert Maurice perceived that a sufficient
number were assembled to justify the discussion of important matters,
he declared the appointed hour fully arrived, called them to
consultation, and at once boldly proposed that a decree of
banishment--drawn up in the name of the states general of Flanders,
though not ten members of that body were present, and those wholly
devoted to his own views--should be issued against the Lord of
Ravestein and the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy, as parties to the plot
for subjecting the country to the sway of France.

So bold a measure was not, of course, without an object of deep moment
to him who proposed it; but, when it is remembered, that Ravestein and
Margaret of York were the only influential members of what was called
in Ghent the French party, who now remained with the princess, his
motives will be clear enough; for it was that party only which Albert
Maurice feared. The Duke of Gueldres, though dangerous from the
popularity he had suddenly acquired, the young citizen thought himself
strong enough to overthrow when he pleased, supported, as he was sure
of being in such a case, by the Duke of Cleves, and by the manifest
abhorrence which the princess displayed towards the brutal aspirant to
her hand; and the Duke of Cleves himself, the President felt sure, was
too weak to succeed without his aid. Thus the French party was the
only obstacle to his views that he really dreaded; but still, the
measure he counselled was too bold to pass without some debate.

It was carried, however, at length, before any one arrived who had
sufficient influence to oppose it with vigour; and the order for the
instant removal of the Dowager Duchess and the Lord of Ravestein was
sent at once to the palace, enforced by a large body of the burgher

Gradually the assembly increased, till about forty persons were
gathered round the council table, while a number of others, unentitled
to a seat amongst the deliberative body, filled the vacant places of
the hall, by the favour of the President's adherents. He himself was,
perhaps, not unaware that a multitude of voices, ready to applaud his
words, were collected around him; for the noblest, ay, and the
proudest heart will bend servilely to the senseless shout it despises,
when once it has bound itself as a serf in the golden collar of
ambition. At length, after casting his eye around, to see who were the
members of the states assembled, Albert Maurice rose to speak; but as
he did so, the trampling of horse coming at a rapid rate, and loud
shouts of "Long live the Duke of Gueldres! Health to the noble Duke
and the fair princess! Long life to Ghent and the Duke of Gueldres!"
were heard rising from the square below; and the young citizen again
sat down, with a contracted brow and quivering lip.

In a few moments the Duke of Gueldres entered the hall, and took his
seat on the right of the President, who knew the informal constitution
of their whole assembly too well, to object to that noble's intrusion
on their councils. But the young citizen rose again immediately
himself, and at once addressed the states, as they termed themselves,
in a speech full of fire and energy. He pointed out that the time was
now come, when active and combined exertion throughout the whole land
was necessary to save it from the usurpation of France, when not only
the safety, but the very existence of the country required the energy
of every individual to be employed, without a moment's delay, for the
benefit of the whole; and he touched eloquently upon the necessity of
laying aside all private jealousies, disputes, and feuds, in order to
concentrate all efforts to check the rapid progress of the French
monarch. Of many dangers, he said, it was of course necessary to meet
that which was most imminent, and no one would doubt for a moment that
the usurping and successful arms of France presented the peril they
had most to dread. Severe measures had been pursued, he said, to show
the timid and the traitor that they could not betray their country
with impunity; and it became the states of Flanders and Brabant, even
as a consequence of many of their late acts, to prove to their
countrymen that they could and would protect the honest and the
patriotic, as well as punish the guilty and the disloyal. It was time,
he added to lay aside all differences of opinion, to forget individual
interests and passions, to cast away every thought but patriotism, and
calling forth the whole intelligence and the whole strength of the
state, to join heart and hand, and mind and energy, in defence of
their violated rights and their insulted country.

He spoke with the most powerful oratory, and he spoke true; but he did
not remember that the oil of smooth words will never allay the raging
waves of faction, even though the storm of anarchy threaten to wreck
the state itself. Had he looked into his own heart, indeed, and seen
that, though he was now anxious to repel the common enemy, yet it was
but in order to seize one quiet moment to overthrow his rivals, he
would have learned the secret of every bosom around him, and found
that selfish ambition was the whole.

In the midst of his speech, however, while, in the very vehemence of
declamation, he was inveighing against France, and was about to
proceed, from the general terms which he had been using, to a clear
and minute view of the state of the land, and the measures immediately
necessary for its defence, one of the deputies from some inferior
town, who believed the moment for distinguishing his own small
knowledge and talents was arrived, rose, and boldly cut across the
President's speech, exclaiming, "Perhaps the noble President does not
know the unhappy news----"

"I know all!" thundered Albert Maurice, his eyes lightening with
indignation at the interruption. "God of Heaven! wherefore do I hold
the station that I do, if it be not to learn, and know, and
investigate all that may concern the interest of the state? Do I not
know that Arras has fallen? that Tournay is now in the hands of the
enemy?--that Hesdin, and Boulogne, and Bethune are taken?--that Oudard
has been murdered?--that Descordes is false?--that Vergy lies in
chains? Do I not know that the duchy of Burgundy is invaded; that
Franche-Compte is overrun; and that the troops of Louis are advancing
to the gates of Ghent? What is it that I do not know, that any one
should dare to interrupt me? Let me tell the deputy who has just sat
down, that, if he had all the miserable catalogue of the woes and
dangers of his country, from the first infraction of her frontiers, to
the last base, or mean, or murderous act of her great enemy, so much
by heart as I have, he would turn every thought of his mind to find
means of meeting the perils that menace us, rather than break through
the order of this assembly by speaking before he has heard."

The vehemence with which the young citizen spoke, the picture of
overwhelming misfortunes which he displayed, and the deep tone of
patriotic anxiety which his words breathed forth, combined to make his
hearers forget the angry bitterness with which he rebuked one of their
members, and each turned and gazed, with an expression of terror, in
the faces of the others, as the President counted over the rapid
losses and misfortunes of their country.

Albert Maurice paused, and Ganay, who was present, remarked, without
rising, "Something must be immediately done to remedy all this. Or,
doubtless," he added, not unwilling to bring about some imputation of
blame upon Albert Maurice for neglect, though unwilling to utter one
word of blame himself, "or, doubtless, our noble President has
already, with his usual activity, prepared some means of meeting all
these difficulties."

"I have!" replied Albert Maurice, sternly; and as he did so, a slight
curl of the lip conveyed to the druggist a suspicion that his purpose
had been understood. "I have! The difficulty can only be met, the
enemy can only be opposed in arms, and the means have been prepared.
Seven thousand men have been raised and trained in Ghent, as you all
know. Three thousand men are ready to march in the villages round
about. Before noon, five thousand more will be in the city from Ypres,
and, ere night, five thousand more will have arrived from Bruges;
while Brabant and the other provinces are preparing an army of forty
thousand men besides. Our power is thus already sufficient to keep the
towns of Flanders against the King of France, while forces are
marching up to our aid, which will soon enable us to expel him from
our land for ever. Provisions for forty days have been prepared, and a
magazine of arms is already established at Oudenarde, which is
garrisoned by a sufficient force to ensure it from capture. We have
still a line of fortified places, which we can soon render secure; and
having done so, we can bid the tyrant either retire from our borders,
or let his soldiers rot in the field till we reap them with the sword,
instead of that harvest which they have mowed ere it was ripe."

A loud and long burst of applause followed this recapitulation of the
means which, by the most extraordinary activity, he had collected in
so short a space of time to repel the arms of France; and, satisfied
with the impression that he had made, Albert Maurice sat down, in
order to allow one of the deputies from Ypres to propose a plan of
action, which had been previously laid out between them, for the
employment of the forces thus raised to the general advantage of
Flanders. The worthy burgher, however, though a man of sense, and some
military skill, having served during a considerable time with the
people of his commune under the Duke Philip, was always an unwilling
speaker, and paused for a moment to collect his ideas after the
President had sat down.

The Duke of Gueldres instantly seized the occasion, and, anxious to
gain the command of the army, proposed to lead it himself against the
suburbs of Tournay, together with five hundred men-at-arms which he
had raised since his liberation. "The very appearance of such a force
in the field," he said, "and led on to some rapid and brilliant
expedition, would make Louis XI., who had been well called _Le Roi
Couard_, pause and hesitate, while fresh reinforcements might come up
to swell the army of Flanders, and enable it either to risk a general
battle, or attempt the re-capture of the towns which had been taken."

To this proposal Albert Maurice strongly objected, and declared that,
instead of encountering any further risk than that inevitable in
leading a raw and unexperienced army through a difficult country, they
ought to make it their chief object to strengthen the garrisons of all
the many fortified towns they still possessed, but more especially to
throw a considerable force into Lille and Douai, which still held out
for the princess, and were plentifully supplied with provisions, but
whose respective garrisons were too small to retard the progress of
Louis for three days, whenever he should lead his armies against them.
In support of this opinion, he showed that troops hastily levied, and
unaccustomed to warfare, were much more likely to serve well when
defended by stone walls, and commanded by experienced officers, than
in the open field against a veteran army. He showed, also, that
Tournay itself was not likely long to hold out for France, if Lille
and Douai were properly garrisoned with numbers sufficient to sweep
the whole neighbouring country of provisions; and he ended by calling
upon the states not to be dazzled by the apparent ease of the
enterprise proposed by the Duke of Gueldres, for he could assure them
that it was the best maxim, both in tactics and policy, never to
believe anything impossible, but never to fancy anything easy.

The countenance of the Duke of Gueldres flushed with wrath, to hear
himself so boldly opposed by a simple citizen of Ghent, and he was
about to reply with hasty vehemence, which would infallibly have
ruined all his own designs, had not Ganay started up, and, with all
the smooth and plausible art of which he was master, sketched out a
plan, which, while it seemed to coincide with that of Albert Maurice,
rendered it nearly nugatory, and, at the same time, coincided exactly
with that of the Duke of Gueldres.

"The infinite wisdom and skill," he said, "which have been displayed,
under all circumstances, by our noble President, should make us
receive his opinion with reverence and respect, even were it not
evidently founded in knowledge and experience. There can be no doubt,
however, in the minds of any one here present, that the preservation
of Lille and Douai is absolutely necessary for the security of
Flanders, and may also greatly tend to facilitate the very objects
proposed by the noble Duke of Gueldres. But the two plans are by no
means incompatible. Neither Lille nor Douai can admit of a garrison of
more than two thousand men in addition to that with which they are at
present furnished. Twelve or thirteen thousand men will be quite
sufficient to enable the noble Duke to make his attempt upon Tournay.
Let then the President himself, whose military skill we all witnessed,
when he served with the men of Ghent under the late Duke Charles, some
five or six years ago; let him then lead five thousand men to the aid
of Lille and Douai; and, having thrown what force into those places he
may find necessary, return with the rest to Ghent; while, in the
meantime, the Duke marches forth against Tournay with the rest of the
troops which we can spare from the defence of this city."

The feelings which this speech excited in the mind of Albert Maurice
were of a very mixed and intricate nature. By this time, from many of
those slight and accidental indications by which a skilful observer
may read the changes of the human heart, the young burgher had learned
that Ganay was no longer the zealous friend he had been, and he felt,
rather than remarked, that, with that dark and subtle being there
could be no medium between active support and deadly opposition,
circumstanced as they were and had been. With this conviction
impressed upon his mind, perhaps he might see, or at least suspect,
that one object in the proposal of the druggist was to obtain his
absence from the city. He might see, too, that the command of a large
portion of the army given to the Duke of Gueldres, whose military
abilities were well known, would throw immense power into the hands of
that prince, becoming already too powerful; and he likewise knew the
general dangers attendant upon the absence of a political leader too
well, not to dread the consequences of his own departure from Ghent at
a moment so critical.

Nevertheless, one of his chief weaknesses was the ambition of military
renown; and that ambition had received an impulse which it had never
known before, since he had dared to raise his hopes to a princess
descended from a race of heroes. He felt, too, within himself, great
powers of the kind immediately required, and he trusted that, by the
exertion of that energetic activity which characterized all his
movements, he should be enabled to accomplish his enterprise--to add,
perhaps, some brilliant exploits to all that he had already performed,
and to return to Ghent before any great advantage could be taken of
his absence by his enemies.

An immediate reply, however, was necessary, and long discussions
ensued, in the course of which Albert Maurice did not absolutely
oppose the scheme of Ganay; yet there were in the details so many nice
and delicate points to be determined, that much angry and vehement
dispute took place, in which the violent and overbearing temper of the
Duke of Gueldres more than once broke forth, and was repressed by the
young citizen, in his capacity of President of the states, with a
stern severity, that left them both, with flushed cheeks and frowning
brows, gazing upon each other when the meeting of the states broke up.

By this time all was determined. Albert Maurice had accepted the
command, with the understanding that it was totally distinct and
independent of the one conferred upon the Duke of Gueldres, that the
troops were solely under his own orders, and that the moment he had
performed the specific task he undertook, he was at liberty to return
to Ghent. All this had been conceded. The populace quitted the hall,
and the deputies, one by one, took their leave and retired.

The Duke of Gueldres was among the last that left the apartment, and
it was with a slow step he descended the stairs nearly to the bottom,
biting his lip with ill-repressed passion at the contradiction he had
met with, and at the little reverence that the President of Ghent had
shown either to his opinions or to his rank. His meditations did not
serve to cool him; on the contrary, at every step the words which had
been addressed to him, and the scene in which they had been spoken,
recurred with more and more bitterness to his mind; and when he had
reached the last step but two, passion, as it often did with him, got
the better of all command, and stamping on the ground with his foot,
as he remembered the contemptuous curl of the young citizen's lip, he
turned, and mounting the stairs with wide strides, once more entered
the hall. Albert Maurice was standing alone at the head of the table,
with a countenance of deep melancholy, from which every expression of
anger and scorn was now totally banished. He raised his eyes as the
Duke entered, and gazed upon him with surprise, as advancing close to
him, with flashing eyes and a burning cheek, that rude prince
exclaimed, "You have dared, sir--villain and slave as you are, base
mechanical hind, bred and born amongst looms and shuttles--you have
dared to treat with disrespect a noble of the land, and, by Heaven!
you shall some day pay for it. Were you not as the dirt beneath my
feet, and would not your vile blood sully my sword to shed it, I would
save the hangman the pains he may some day have, and punish you where
you stand."

"Know, Duke of Gueldres," replied Albert Maurice, with calm
sternness, though in other days he might have laughed at the
intemperate insolence of his adversary--"Know, Duke of Gueldres, that
were there anything in the empty assumption of blood, mine is
descended from as pure a stock as your own, though one of my ancestors
wisely and nobly chose to embrace an honourable trade, rather than
follow the example of such as you and yours, and live by rapine,
plunder, oppression, and wrong. Advance not your hand towards me, Sir
Duke, for remember that insult levels all distinctions; and that I,
too, wear a sword, which I should not scruple to dye in nobler blood
than that of the Duke of Gueldres, if he laid but a finger upon me."

"Out, slave!" cried the Duke; "I will take thy boasted descent on
credit, were it but to punish thine insolence!" and striking the young
citizen a violent blow on the breast, he threw back his mantle and
drew his sword.

Albert Maurice was not slack to meet him, and his sword was also in
his hand, when a number of citizens who had heard, through the open
doors, the high words which had lately passed, ran in and beat up
their weapons. The Duke of Gueldres glared round him for a moment in
vain fury, then thrust back his sword into its scabbard, and shaking
his clenched hand towards the young citizen, exclaimed, "When next we
meet!" and, turning on his heel, left the apartment.

Albert Maurice sheathed his weapon also, and only commenting on what
had passed by a contemptuous smile, resumed his look of grave thought,
and proceeded calmly to transact the business of his station.


The Duke of Gueldres, however, was still to enjoy a triumph before he
returned to his dwelling, which, could he have seen into the heart of
his rival, would have fully compensated all the pain which his anger
had inflicted on himself. Albert Maurice was left alone; but there was
a shout in the market-place without, which rang painfully on his ears,
as he turned from the great hall; for he could not avoid hearing the
loud voice of the multitude, cheering the Duke of Gueldres as he
mounted his horse.

The sounds were distinct enough; and to him bitter enough, also. They
were "Long live the Duke of Gueldres and the Princess! Gueldres and
Burgundy for ever! We will give her to whom we like! She shall marry
the good Duke! Long life to the noble Duke of Gueldres!" and though,
as that prince rode on, the words were no longer to be distinguished,
the cries still continued, and the fancy of the young citizen
furnished each brawling shout with articulate sounds of the character
most inimical to his own peace.

"Ere I go," he thought--"ere I go, I will see her myself; and assure
myself of her feelings before I quit the city. Then, if I find that
she hates him, as I believe, that she looks upon him as the wolf he
really is, I will take sufficient means to guard her from his
importunities during my absence."

The determination was no sooner formed than he prepared to execute it;
and, while he despatched a messenger to the palace to demand an
audience of the princess previous to his departure, which was fixed
for the next day, he gave a multitude of necessary orders, and as soon
as his horse was ready, set out himself to seek an interview, which
the consciousness of having brought about the death of Mary's
counsellors, and the banishment of her friends, made him dread even
while he courted it.

But, as those who are young in deceit generally do, he forgot, for the
time, that the dark secrets of his heart were confined to his own
bosom; and that the policy he had pursued, and the bold ambition that
prompted it, were unknown to her who had most suffered by it. In
truth, the feelings of Mary were very different from those which he
had anticipated. The broad and simple facts only reached her ear. She
knew that the young citizen had taken no part in the trial or the
judgment of Imbercourt, and that he had not even been present at his
execution. The order for the immediate removal of the Duchess Dowager
and Ravestein, also, had been issued in the name of the states: and
perfectly unconscious of the wild hopes and ambitious dreams of Albert
Maurice, she believed that if he had at all mingled in those
proceedings, it was but most unwillingly, and from a strong, though
mistaken impression of duty and patriotism. Deprived, too, of the
counsellors in whom she had always most trusted, and of the friends
whom she had most loved, the unhappy girl felt inclined to cling to
any one who seemed disposed to treat her with kindness and tenderness;
and the only one who remained was Albert Maurice. He had always been
gentle; he had always seemed to advocate her interest; he had never
asked her for gift, or honour, or dignity; and even his very animosity
towards Imbercourt and the Chancellor, had first arisen in the support
which he gave to the princess, in her reluctant struggles against the
hard and painful policy her ministers had dictated. The dignity of his
demeanour, the high qualities of his mind, the independence of his
character, and the apparent disinterestedness of his conduct, had
gained her esteem; and the respectful gentleness of his manners
towards herself, as well as his constant and zealous advocacy of the
line of policy dictated by her wishes as a woman, had won her
gratitude and her confidence.

A gleam of pleasure brightened the gloom around her when she heard
that he was coming; and, in order at once to attach him more strongly
to her interests, to express her thanks for his supposed services, and
to detach him totally from the burgher faction, whose influence had
already worked so much evil, she directed one of the officers of the
palace to draw up, immediately, letters of nobility in favour of the
young citizen, and to bring them to her with all speed. Gentle by
nature and by habit, the only arms which Mary ever employed against
her rebellious subjects were favours and mildness, and she fondly
fancied, that, in this step towards Albert Maurice, she had devised a
deep stroke of policy. The secretary's task was almost completed when
Albert Maurice arrived; and the evident pleasure with which Mary
received him, in the midst of all her griefs, extinguished for the
time remorse and apprehension in the blaze of hope and joy, and once
more nerved him for the bold career of ambition in which he had
started against such fearful odds.

The princess was pale and shaken with all the agitation, terror, and
grief of the day before; but the light that shone up in her eyes, and
the smile which played about her lips as he approached, made her
appear a thousand times more lovely in the eyes of the young burgher
than she would have seemed in all the pride of state, security, and
happiness. In the unconscious simplicity of heart, too, all her words
gave encouragement to feelings that she little dreamed of; and when,
on the announcement of his approaching departure, she pressed him to
stay, and to abandon his design; when she assured him that he was the
only one she could now trust, since her faithful servants had been put
to death and her kindred had been banished, and beseeched him not to
leave her without a counsellor, or without a friend, Albert Maurice,
knowing the passions that animated his own bosom, could not but hope
that in some degree she saw them too; and, while habitual respect cast
a deep reverence over all his words and actions, which served to
deceive her as to his feelings, his love and his ambition caught a new
fire from the confiding esteem she expressed towards him. He assured
her that in six days he would be once more in Ghent; and he hoped, he
said, to lay some laurels at her feet. In the meantime, he added, it
might be necessary to think of her security against all intrusion.

"Oh, for the love of Heaven, provide for that!" exclaimed the
princess; "I fear that base, that dreadful Duke of Gueldres. Even the
shelter of my own apartments is no security against him; and his
influence with the people, they tell me, is becoming fearfully great.
Speak, Margaret," she added, turning to one of her attendants, "what
was it you heard the people crying but now?"

"Fear not, your Grace," replied Albert Maurice, without waiting to
hear from the princess's lady a repetition of words which had already
made his blood boil. "The career of the Duke of Gueldres draws
towards its end! If I judge rightly, his own ambition will be a
stumbling-block sufficient to bring his speedy overthrow. But if not,
sooner than you should suffer from insolent daring, he shall find that
Albert Maurice does not wear a sword in vain."

"Oh, use it not against him, sir," replied the princess; "there may be
other ways of ridding the city of his presence. Too much blood has
been shed already. Nay, do not look sad, Lord President. I know that
it was without your will. I know that you were not even present. But
while you are absent from the city, if your absence be unavoidable, I
beseech you to take measures to guard me against his intrusion. When
you return," she added, with a deep crimson blush, which rose from
feelings that would have damned all the young citizen's presumptuous
hopes for ever, could he have divined them--"when you return, I would
fain speak with you, on taking such measures for the defence of the
state as may obtain for it permanent security. A woman's hand, I see,
cannot hold the reins of such a land as that which I am unhappily
called to govern; and it is time for me to yield them to some one who
can better guide the state than I can. But more of this hereafter. We
will not speak more now."

The heart of the young citizen throbbed as if it would have burst, but
it throbbed with joy; and probably he might have replied,
notwithstanding the prohibition of the princess, in such a manner as
would have ended the delusion of both; but, at that moment, according
to the orders he had received, the secretary of the chancery of
Burgundy brought in the letters-patent, which he had been drawing up
in haste.

The princess presented them to him for whom they were destined with
her own hand, leaving him at liberty to make them public, or to
preserve them unemployed till such time as he should think fit: and
while she gave them, she added her thanks for his obedience to the
wishes she had expressed when last they met. Though the subject was
too painful for the princess even to mention the name of the two
faithful servants she had lost, yet Albert Maurice felt that she
alluded to her petitions in their behalf. For a single instant he
thought she spoke in irony, and his cheek turned red and pale by
turns; but a moment's reflection called to his mind the simple, candid
character of her who spoke, and what she had before said on the same
subject; and he saw that she deceived herself in regard to the part he
had taken. There was a natural rectitude in his heart which might have
made him, at any risk, avow boldly his approval of, if not his
participation in, the bloodshed which had been committed--had the love
of Mary of Burgundy not been at stake. But he who knew not what fear
is, under other circumstances, had learned to become as timid as a
child in her presence; and though, while kneeling to kiss her hand in
thanks for the honour she had just conferred, his whole frame trembled
both with the agitation of deep love, and the knowledge that he was
acting a deceitful part, yet he found it impossible to utter those
words which he well knew would have pronounced his own condemnation to
the ears of Mary of Burgundy.

The sensation, however, oppressed him; and, after hurried and somewhat
incoherent thanks, he took his leave, feeling that he had made another
step in the crooked and degrading path of policy.

The rest of the day was consumed in preparations for his departure
early the next morning, and in precautions against the influence of
his enemies in Ghent. Men may make use of knaves and hypocrites, in
order to rise, but they must still have recourse to the honest and the
true, when they would give permanence to their authority. Thus, from
the council which Albert Maurice now called to his aid, Ganay was
excluded, as well as all the fiercer and more subtle spirits, which
had hitherto been so busy in the affairs of Ghent; while honest Martin
Fruse, and seven other citizens like himself, who, though not without
their weaknesses and their follies, possessed at heart a fund of
honesty of intent and plain common sense, were summoned by the young
citizen to a private conference, for the purpose of taking such
measures as would secure the peace and tranquillity of the city, and
the stability of the order of things established, during his temporary

He felt it difficult, indeed, to explain to them all the evils that
were to be guarded against, all the dangers that he foresaw, and all
the apprehensions that he entertained, especially in regard to the
druggist Ganay. To have done so fully, would have been to have exposed
all the darker and more dangerous secrets of his own bosom, and to
have given a picture of himself, of the means he had employed, and of
the deeds into which he had been betrayed, which he was unwilling to
display to any human being. Thus it was not without much
circumlocution that he could find words to convey his immediate views
to the honest men by whom he was surrounded, and yet keep to those
general terms which might not expose himself.

Martin Fruse, however, whose love for his nephew was paramount in his
bosom, greatly relieved the task; for--with a sort of intuitive
feeling, that there were many things which Albert Maurice would wish
to keep concealed, and from a desire of sparing him as much as
possible--he passed as rapidly as his intellect would permit him to
conclusions, skipping as quickly as possible over all explanations
regarding preceding facts with a nod or smile of intelligence, which
led the other worthy merchants to believe that he was fully acquainted
with all the machinery of the events which had taken place. After some
hours' consultation, it was arranged that Albert Maurice, deputing his
whole municipal authority to his uncle, should entrust the worthy
citizen and the other merchants present, to form such a party in the
council, as might keep the affairs of the town, if possible, in a
completely passive state during his absence. His office in the states
general he could not transfer; for though he held the presidency of
that body as a privilege connected with its assembling in the city of
which he had been constituted chief magistrate, yet that privilege
could not be deputed to another; and the states--if they met at all
during his absence--would be presided by the next deputy from the city
of Ghent.

The power, however, which he placed in the hands of good Martin Fruse
was anything but insignificant, for Ghent then ruled the states; and
it was determined that all measures were to be taken for the security
of the city and the repairs of the fortifications; that the purchase
of supplies and provisions, and the levying of men, were to go on as
usual; but that, upon the proposal of any important movement, on the
part of Ghent, a motion for its postponement till the return of the
President was immediately to be put, and supported by his friends. The
meeting of the states general, too, was to be opposed as much as
possible during his absence from Ghent; and as the authority of the
municipality was, of course, paramount in their own city, it seemed
probable that his friends would be able to exert great influence in
this respect. Any pretensions of the Duke of Gueldres to the hand of
the princess were to be strenuously opposed in the council; and Martin
Fruse, and the burgher guard, were to give her every support and
protection, in case she might require it. Anxious, too, for the safety
of Hugh of Gueldres, Albert Maurice took care that a strong force
should be stationed at the town prison, and that the merchants should
be prepared to put an instant negative upon any proposal for bringing
the prisoner to trial during his absence.

When all these arrangements were concluded, the next care of the young
citizen was to select such bands from amongst both the new and old
levies of the city, as were most likely to ensure him success in the
enterprises which he was about to execute; and this being done, and
all his further preparations completed, he proceeded, once more, to
visit the Vert Gallant of Hannut in the chamber to which he had now
been removed. The young cavalier lay in a deep, sweet sleep, from
which even the opening of the door and the approach of Albert Maurice
did not wake him; and the President gazed for a moment or two on his
face--as he lay so calm and tranquil, within the walls of a prison,
suffering from injuries, and exposed to constant danger--with a
feeling of envy and regret, which, perhaps, few can appreciate fully,
who have not felt the sharp tooth of remorse begin its sleepless
gnawing on the heart.

He would not have disturbed such slumbers for the world; and,
withdrawing again with a noiseless step, he retired to his own
chamber, and cast himself down upon his bed, to snatch, at least, that
heated and disturbed sleep, which was all the repose that he was ever
more to know on earth.


The clang of trumpets echoing through the streets of Ghent, an hour
before daybreak, announced that the body of forces under the command
of the young President was about to set out upon its expedition; and
as the burghers started from their sleep, and listened to the various
sounds that followed--the trampling of horses, the voices of the
officers, and the dull measured tread of marching men, not
unfrequently did a feeling of pride rise in their bosoms from that
universal principle--"the extension of the idea of self;" as each one
felt that the army thus on its march was, in some degree, his own, as
part and parcel of the city of Ghent.

To the ears of none in the whole town, however, did the sounds come
more pleasantly than to those of the druggist Ganay, who had felt,
within the last two days, a sort of thirst to see the back of him he
had once loved, turned upon the city; for, though--with that degree of
pride in his cunning, which artful men often possess--he did not
usually apprehend that his wit would fail in a struggle with that of
any other being; yet there was something in the unaccountable
knowledge of foregone facts which Albert Maurice had displayed, that
made him entertain a vague fear of the young citizen, and rendered him
unwilling to venture any very bold stroke till Ghent was free from his

The first sound of the trumpet fell upon his ear as he sat watching
the bed of the wounded Lord of Neufchatel, into whose sick chamber he
had obtruded himself with an officious zeal, which might have been
resented by the noble's attendants, had he not, by quiet and soothing
attentions, rendered himself useful, and his presence pleasing to the
invalid himself, while a long attendance on a sick and fretful old
man, had cooled and wearied those who were at first most active in his
service. A restless and feverish night had passed away; and, as
morning came, the ancient Seneschal of Burgundy showed some
inclination to fall asleep; but the first braying of the trumpets
roused him; and he eagerly demanded what those sounds meant. The
druggist explained the cause at once; and the enfeebled warrior shook
his head with a melancholy air, as he heard the call to horse sounded
again, without being able to raise a limb from his couch.

"'Twas not so when first you knew me, Master Ganay?" he said; and
then--while one sound succeeded another, and squadron after squadron
marched forth through the streets--he continued to murmur a number of
low and somewhat incoherent sentences, between the delirium of
feverish irritation and the drowsiness of exhaustion. At length, as a
faint bluish light began to gleam into the chamber from the dawning of
the morning, the last horseman passed the gates of the court-yard, and
all Ghent resumed its former stillness.

The old man would then have addressed himself to sleep again; but
Ganay now recalled his mind to the subject of his brighter days, with
an extraordinary degree of pertinacity. "Nay, nay, my noble lord," he
said, returning to the topic of their early acquaintance; "when first
I saw your lordship, you would little have suffered an army to march,
while you lay still in bed."

"Not I, not I, indeed!" replied the Lord of Neufchatel. "But what can
one do?"

"Alack, nothing now," answered the druggist; "but think that you never
flinched while you could keep the saddle. You were as eager a rider in
those days as ever I met--ay! and somewhat hasty withal."

"Ah! my good Ganay, are you there now?" said the old lord. "Have you
not forgot that yet? Well, man, I did you wrong; but have I not tried
to make atonement? I did you wrong, I do believe from my soul."

"Believe, my lord!" cried Ganay; "are you not sure? Are not the very
papers you possess convincing enough of my innocence?"

"Well, well, perhaps they are," replied the old man, somewhat

"Perhaps they are!" exclaimed the other. "Nay, surely they are. But
let me fetch and read them to your lordship--where can I find them?"

"They are in the Venice cabinet, I think," answered the Lord of
Neufchatel; "but never mind them--never mind them! I tell thee I am
convinced--what need of more? I would fain sleep now, if the accursed
itching of this thrust in my shoulder would let me. Call the boy with
his rote, good Ganay; he often puts me to sleep by playing on his
instrument--or the man that tells stories: he is better still. I never
fail to grow drowsy as soon as he begins, and to snore before he has
half done."

"Take but a cup of this elixir, my lord," answered the druggist. "Mind
you not, how it refreshed you yesterday morning?"

"Surely," cried the old lord, in a peevish tone. "Have you any more?
Why did you not give it me sooner? How could you see me suffer so all
night, and not give me that which alone eases me?"

"Because, if used too often, it loses its effect," replied the

"Give it me--give it me now, then!" cried the invalid, impatiently.
"When would you give a man medicine but when he is ill and in pain?
Spare not, man--let the dose be full. Thou shalt be well paid for thy

Ganay took up a cup from the table, and nearly filled it with a
dark-coloured liquid from a phial which he drew out of his bosom. He
then gave it to the old noble, who drank off the contents at once,
while the druggist gazed on him with an eye which seemed almost
starting from its socket, so intense was the look of eager interest
with which he regarded him.

"Are you sure it is the same?" said the Lord of Neufchatel, returning
the cup; "it tastes differently; it is bitterer, and has a faint taste
as of earth. It is--it is--not so----"

But, as he spoke, the lids of his eyes fell; he opened them drowsily
once or twice, added a few more almost inarticulate words, and then
sunk back upon his pillow. Ganay looked at him intently for two or
three minutes; then stole out of the room; and, descending with a
quiet step to the hall, he woke his own serving-boy, who was sitting
by the fire. "Hie thee to the Prevot," he whispered; "bid him hither

"Who goes there?" cried the servant on watch, who had been asleep
also, but was now wakened by the boy opening the door, "Who goes

"Only my boy," answered Ganay, "going for some drugs against my good
lord wakes--I would have healed him sooner than all the leeches in the
town, had I but tried it before; but, of course, I could not meddle
till he dismissed the surgeon in such wrath."

"How goes he now, Master Ganey?" demanded the man.

"Better, I hope!" replied the druggist, "but he has had a fearful
night. He now sleeps, and I think it is a crisis. If he wake better,
he will do well. If not, he dies."

"God forfend!" cried the man.

Ganay echoed loudly the wish, and retired once more to the sick man's
chamber. Entering with stealthy steps, he approached the bed, and
gazed upon him that it contained. A slight stream of dark fluid had
flowed from his mouth, and stained his pillow; and Ganay, as he
remarked this appearance, muttered, "The stomach has rejected it! He
must take more. To leave it half done, were worse than all! Here, my
lord!" he added, aloud, shaking him by the arm--"Here! take a little
more of the same blessed elixir!"

But the old man made no answer, except by a long deep-drawn sigh; and
Ganay, adding, "He has had enough," sat down, and turning his face
from the lamp, continued gazing for some minutes upon the couch. From
time to time, as he sat and looked, a few muttered words would escape
his lips; and often he would turn and listen for the sounds in the
street, as if impatient for the coming of some one from without.

"The Venice cabinet!" he muttered, "that stands in the small arras
chamber by the saloon! Could one reach it, now, unperceived! But no.
'Tis better to wait till Du Bac arrives; some of the varlets might
catch me, and all were ruined; better wait till he comes. He is very
tedious, though--It works but slowly! He has had hardly enough--What
can be done?--He cannot take any more!--That is a long-drawn sigh--it
should be the last--A little help were not amiss, though!" and so
saying, he pressed his hand heavily on the chest of the old Lord of

It rose once slightly against the weight; but death and life were by
this time so nearly balanced in his frame, that it rose but once, and
then all was quiet. Still Ganay continued the pressure with his whole
force, till suddenly the eyes opened, and the jaw dropped; and the
murderer instinctively started back, fancying that his victim was
awaking from his slumber. But he instantly perceived that what he saw
was but the sign of a longer and more profound sleep having taken the
old man to repose for ever; and, after one more glance to satisfy
himself that no means of resuscitation could prove available, he
loudly called upon the servants and attendants to give him help, for
that their lord was dying. It was some time before he made them hear;
for the illness of the old noble had been long and tedious, and
kindness had been wearied, and attention worn out. When they did come,
therefore, the druggist had some excuse to rate them severely for
inattention and sloth. He affected to try many means of recalling the
dead to life again, and proposed to send for skilful leeches, as soon
as he heard the voice of Maillotin du Bac in the hall below.

That officer now came boldly in, and, stopping all other proceedings,
demanded whether any relation of the dead lord were in the house. The
answer, as he knew it must be, was in the negative; for--as the
servants replied--all his connexions were in the far parts of
Burgundy. "Well, then," cried the Prevot, "it becomes me, though not
exactly the proper officer, to seal up all the doors and effects of
the deceased, till such time as account can be taken. You, my men," he
continued, to the archers of the band that followed him, "gather all
these worthy servants and varlets together in the great hall, and see
that no one stirs a step, till I have asked them a question or two.
You, Master Ganay, being one of the magistrates of the town, had
better come with me, to bear witness that I seal all things fairly.
You, my good lieutenant, bring me some wax and a chafing dish, and
then return to the hall, to guard these worthy fellows till I come."

The domestic attendants of the old lord, amongst whom were several of
his ancient military retainers, grumbled not a little at this
arrangement, and might have shown somewhat more stubborn resistance,
had not the force brought by the Prevot overmatched them in numbers as
well as in preparations. One of them, however, whispered to a boy who
was amongst them, to slip out and warn the other retainers in the
lodging over the way; the house, or rather houses, of the deceased
noble, extending, as was not uncommon in those times, to both sides of
the street. With this intimation to the boy, and one or two loud
oaths, which the Prevot would not hear, the servants were removed, and
the two accomplices stood together in the dead man's chamber alone.
Such sights were too familiar to Maillotin du Bac, to cause even the
slightest feeling of awe to cross his bosom, as he gazed on the face
of the corpse; and after looking at it for a moment in silence, he
turned to the druggist with a well-satisfied smile, but without
farther comment.

"Let us make haste!" cried Ganay--"the papers are in the Venice
cabinet, in the little arras chamber by the saloon."

"Wait for the wax! Wait for the wax, man!" replied the Prevot; "there
is plenty of time. Let us do things orderly. You seek for the keys in
the meantime. They are in that cupboard, probably. Where is its own
key? But never mind; I will put back the lock with my dagger."

This was soon accomplished, and the open door exposed, as the Prevot
had expected, several large bunches of keys, and a leathern bag, which
bore all the marks of being swelled out with coined pieces of some
kind. The druggist seized upon the keys, and carefully concealed them
on his person; but the Prevot dipped his hand zealously into the heart
of the leathern bag, drawing it forth, and then plunging it deep into
his own bosom, without at all examining what his fist contained. After
two or three such dives down into the pouch, which grew somewhat lank
and wrinkled under its intercourse with the Prevot's hand, he raised
it, as if to see how much it still contained, murmuring--"We must
leave some!"

An approaching step now caused him to replace it hastily, and close
the door; and, as soon as the lieutenant brought him the wax and
chafing dish, Maillotin du Bac proceeded to secure that cupboard
first, using the hilt of his dagger as a seal.

The inferior officer was speedily sent away; and the Prevot instantly
turned to his companion, saying, "Now to the Venice cabinet, if you
will. You know the way better than I: lead on."

"This way, then! this way!" answered the druggist, "we will go by the
back passage;" and opening another door, he hurried on through several
corridors, till they entered what had been the great saloon of the
hotel. They paused not to feel, and still less to comment on the
gloomy aspect which association gives to a festive chamber, the lord
of which is just gone down to the gloomy dust; but crossing it as fast
as possible, they entered a small room beyond, which was hung all
round with rich arras tapestry, and which, besides some settles and a
table, contained a large black cabinet of the kind which was at that
time imported from Venice.

The druggist approached it eagerly; and looking at the lock, and then
at the keys in his hand, after some difficulty chose one, and applied
it to the keyhole. What was his surprise, to find that the cabinet was
already open, and that the whole shelves which it contained were
covered with books and papers, in a state of terrible confusion.

"Curses on the old sloven!" he cried; "this will take an age to go

"Better take all the papers," said the Prevot, "and leave the trash of
books; but at all events make haste!"

"I cannot conceal them all," replied the druggist. "Here! help me to
search. They are tied up in a bundle together, with my name on the

The Prevot approached, and aided Ganay busily in his search; and at
length the druggist caught a sight of the papers, lying far back in
the cabinet: "Here they are! Here they are!" he cried; but at that
moment--as he was reaching his hand to seize them--a powerful grasp
was laid upon his shoulder, and turning round with a sudden start, he
beheld the countenance of Albert Maurice.

Without giving him time to deliberate, the young citizen drew him
forcibly back from the cabinet with his right hand, while he himself
laid his left upon the very bundle of papers that Ganay had been about
to take. The druggist was struck dumb with surprise, disappointment,
and consternation; but Maillotin du Bac, who did not easily lose his
presence of mind, exclaimed at once, "What, you here, Sir President! I
thought you were miles hence by this time."

"Doubtless you did," replied Albert Maurice; "doubtless you did! What
do you here?"

"We seek to discover if there be any testamentary paper," replied the
Prevot, who perceived that the doorway, which opened into the saloon,
was full of people, amongst whom he recognised none of his own band.

"And what right have you, sir, to seek for such papers?" demanded the
President. "Is it a part of your office? Is it a part of your duty?
You seem to consider your functions wonderfully enlarged of late.
Advance, Maitre Pierre," he continued, turning to one of the eschevins
of the city, who had accompanied him thither. "You will do your duty
in sealing up the effects of the Lord of Neufchatel. As for these
papers which I have in my hand, I hold them to be necessary to the
state, having seen them before, by the consent of the Lord of
Neufchatel, while awaiting in this chamber of his house, an
examination before the council of the princess on a charge brought
against me by yon Prevot. It is my intention, therefore, to keep them
in my possession. But I beseech you, in the first instance, to envelop
them carefully, sealing them with your own seal, after which I will be
answerable for them to whatever person may prove to be the legal heir
of the nobleman deceased."

Ganay's face, always pale, became cadaverous, as he heard these words;
and both Albert Maurice and the Prevot believed that the only feeling
of his heart, at that moment, was terror. The words he muttered to
himself, however, were--"Fool! he has destroyed himself!" and they
might have served to show, had they been overheard, that the
predominant passion of his soul, revenge, was still uppermost, and
even overbore both consternation and surprise.

The eschevin, according to the desire of the President, sealed up the
papers in an envelope, and returned them to him; and Albert Maurice,
whose stern eye had turned severely from the countenance of the one
culprit to the other, with an expression which made them at first
believe that he meditated to exert his authority for their immediate
punishment, now once more addressed the magistrate, saying, "I must
myself leave you, sir, to pursue this business alone, for it will
require hard riding to overtake the troops; but I have every
confidence that you will examine this suspicious affair most strictly
and carefully. You know how far, according to the laws, such conduct
as we have seen to-day is just or unjust, and you will take measures,
without fear or favour, to see that justice be not evaded. But you
will be pleased especially to cause the body of the deceased nobleman,
of which we had but a casual glance, to be carefully examined by
competent persons, in order to ascertain the cause of death. My speedy
return will prevent the necessity of your employing any means but
those of precaution, till we meet again. In the meantime, farewell."

Thus saying, Albert Maurice, without taking any further notice either
of Ganay or the Prevot, quitted the chamber; and, leaving a sufficient
number of persons behind to enforce the authority of the eschevin, he
proceeded to the court-yard, and, mounting his horse, galloped off.

Things that appear very extraordinary in themselves, are often brought
about by the simplest means; and such had been the case in regard to
the interruption which Ganay and the Prevot had met with in the
execution of their design. Albert Maurice had been prevented, by some
casual business, from setting out himself at the hour he at first
proposed, but in order that the troops might not be delayed, he
suffered them to begin their march from Ghent, under their inferior
officers, well knowing that, with the number of swift horses he had at
his command, he could overtake them before they had advanced many
miles. His way lay past the hotel of the Lord of Neufchatel; and as he
was riding hastily on with a few attendants, he saw a boy drop from
one of the casements, and run across the street in breathless speed.
From some vague suspicion, Albert Maurice stopped him, with inquiries
into the cause of his haste; and the boy at once replied, "The old
lord is dead, and the Prevot and the druggist have shut all the
varlets up in the hall, while they seal up the papers. So they sent me
to tell the squires and men-at-arms in the other lodging."

Such tidings, joined to the previous knowledge that he possessed, was
quite sufficient for Albert Maurice; and, sending instantly for one of
the eschevins who lived close by, he proceeded at once to the hotel,
and, with his own followers, the retainers he found on the premises,
and those who rapidly came over from the other side of the street, he
obliged the Prevot's guard to quit the place. He then at once turned
his steps to the chamber of the dead man, and after a hasty
examination of the corpse, which excited still stronger suspicions
than before, he led the way silently to the room in which he knew that
the papers referring to Ganay were usually kept.

All that ensued we have already seen, and, without pursuing any
further the events which took place in Ghent, we shall beg leave to
follow the young citizen on his journey.


The transactions of the next few days, though certainly comprising
matters of great interest to many of the persons connected with the
present history, must be passed over as briefly as possible, because
their nature is in a certain sense discordant with the general tenour
of the story. This is no tale of battles; unless it be the battle of
passions in the human heart; and therefore it is that we give no
minute detail of the incidents which befel Albert Maurice in his short
but brilliant military career. Suffice it to say, that by happy
combinations, and the strenuous exertion of the great activity which
was one of the most conspicuous traits in his character, he had, in
the short space of five days, thrown forces into Douai and Lille, and
had defeated Le Lude and a body of men-at-arms despatched from Arras
to cut off his retreat.

Well aware of the mighty effect of success in blowing up the bubble of
popularity, he despatched messenger after messenger to Ghent, bearing
tidings of each event as it occurred. Joy and gratulation spread
through the city; and the people of Ghent, elated by their novel
exploits in arms, laid out in fancy vast plans of conquest and
aggrandizement, and began to think themselves invincible in the field.
Nor was his military success without effect upon the heart of Albert
Maurice himself. It did not, it is true, produce such overweening
expectations in his own bosom, as it did in those of his weaker fellow
citizens. But it certainly did give him fresh confidence in his own
powers, from the very fact of finding good fortune attend him in every
effort, however new and unfamiliar to his habits and his mind. It
nerved him to dare all, and to struggle against every difficulty; and
the combination of constant occupation and repeated triumph drowned,
for the time, those feelings of remorse and self-upbraiding which, day
by day, had been acquiring a stronger hold upon his heart. Besides, it
communicated to his mind the refreshing consciousness of being
energetically employed in the execution of duties totally unmingled
with any baser motive in their origin, or any degrading means in their
progress. In the actions which he performed during these four days, he
felt that for the first time he was really serving his country--that
he was winning a purer glory and gaining a nobler name, than faction
or intrigue, whatever might be its object, and whatever might be its
result, could ever obtain for man; and his heart expanded with a joy
long unknown when, at night he summed up the events of the day, and
found that another sun had risen and set on deeds which he could dare
all the world to scrutinize. Still the necessity of his immediate
return to Ghent was not the less felt; and as soon as ever he had
accomplished the great purpose of his expedition, he commenced his
march homewards, and pursued it with as much rapidity as possible.

His force was, by this time, reduced to a thousand horse, from the
various reinforcements he had thrown into the frontier towns; but
nevertheless, confident of his own powers, in returning to Ghent he
took a road which passed in the immediate neighbourhood of Tournay,
although various bands detached from the garrison of that city were
continually making excursions into the country around. He fixed his
quarters for the night, after his first day's march homeward, in a
little village about three miles to the east of that town; and, taking
such precautions as were necessary to guard against surprise, he
passed the hours of darkness undisturbed.

It was a fine spring morning when he again put his troops in motion.
The sun had just risen; and the fresh, elastic air, driving the
vapours of the night before it, had gathered together in the north a
wide extent of dark clouds, streaked with the whiter mists that were
every moment carried to join them by the wind; while, over all the
rest of the sky, the bright sunshine was pouring triumphantly, and
flashing upon the diamond drops that the night had left behind on
every spray and every blade of grass.

The body of horse which the young citizen commanded moved on quickly,
but cautiously, through the by-roads and less direct paths which led
between Tournay and Ath; and it had proceeded in this manner for about
an hour, when the distant sound of a culverin, followed by a heavy
discharge of artillery, was borne upon his ear from the westward. The
troopers listened eagerly, with no small curiosity written on their
countenances; but the face of Albert Maurice scarcely betrayed that he
heard the sounds, except by a curl of the lip, slight indeed, but
bitter and contemptuous. He rode on without comment; and, shortly
after, as he led his force over the summit of a small hill, he could
perceive on looking towards Tournay, though the place itself was
hidden by some wavy ground that intervened, a long stream of thick,
white smoke, drifting down the valley in which that city stands. He
drew in his horse for a moment, and gazed upon the sight; and then,
putting his force into a quicker pace, pursued his road onward towards

The path which they were following entered, at about the distance of
two miles from the spot where they then were, the high road from
Tournay to Oudenarde; and, passing among some woody grounds, it lay
very much concealed from observation. As they came near the open road,
however, Albert Maurice himself proceeded a little in advance of the
line to reconnoitre, before he led his forces forth from the less
exposed ground below. But ere he reached it, the sounds that he heard
were sufficient to satisfy him that the highway was occupied by some
party of armed men, either friends or foes. The prospect of meeting
with the forces commanded by the Duke of Gueldres was little less
disagreeable to him than of encountering a superior body of the enemy,
and he accordingly halted his men, riding slowly along the narrow
border of copse which separated the low grounds from the high road, in
order to ascertain who were his immediate neighbours, and what was the
direction they were taking. The trampling of horses, the jingling of
armour, laughter, merriment, and oaths, announced sufficiently the
presence of a military force; and the moment after, a break in the
belt of wood showed him the rear of a body of horsemen passing on in a
continuous but somewhat irregular line towards Tournay; while the
straight crosses of cut cloth which they wore sewed upon their
gambesons, at once designated them as the adherents of France in
opposition to Burgundy, the partisans of which dukedom were as
universally designated by the cross of St. Andrew.

The young burgher paused for several minutes; and fixing his eye upon
a break some way farther down the road, watched till the spears and
plumes began to pass by that aperture also, and, by means of the two,
easily ascertained that the party he beheld did not amount to more
than five hundred men. Though from various traces of recent strife,
joined to the merriment that reigned amongst them, he judged, and
judged rightly, that the French were returning to Tournay after some
successful skirmish, which, he doubted not, had taken place with the
Duke of Gueldres; yet, the superiority of his own numbers and his
confidence in his own powers, determined him immediately to attack the
enemy. This resolution was no sooner formed than executed; and
although the space was narrow for the evolutions of cavalry, the road
having on one side a large piece of marshy ground, and on the other a
scattered wood; yet so unprepared were the French for the attack of
the Gandois, and so skilfully did the young citizen employ a raw
against a veteran force, that the old soldiers of Louis at once gave
way before the fresh levies of Ghent; and while many a man found an
ignoble death in the morass, those were the happiest who, by sharp
spurring, made their way unscathed to Tournay.

A battery of small cannon, which enfiladed the part of the road that
led directly to the gate, protected the fugitives in their retreat;
and Albert Maurice, not fully aware of the state of the garrison, and
the amount of forces it could pour forth upon his small corps,
hastened to retreat from before the walls as soon as he found himself
exposed to their artillery. The way seemed clear before him; yet, as
he knew that the enterprise of the Duke of Gueldres was to have taken
place about that time, and from the firing he had heard in the
morning, doubted not it had been attempted on that very day, he could
not believe that so small a party as that which he had just driven
back, would have ventured forth alone against the superior force of
the Gandois; and he felt sure that some larger body of French troops
must still lie between him and the retreating army of the Duke of

Under these circumstances, and fearful of tarnishing the gloss of his
success by encountering a defeat at last, he caused the country to be
well reconnoitred as he advanced; and ere long, the reported
appearance of a large force seen moving in the line of the high road,
about a league in advance, made him resolve once more to take the
paths through the wood to the east, however circuitous and
inconvenient, being very well assured, from his knowledge of the
country and from his acquaintance with the plans of the people of
Ghent, that the line of operations of either party could not have
extended far to the east of the _Chemin d'Oudenarde_, as the high road
was called.

He accordingly at once quitted the broad causeway which led directly
to Ghent, and passing across some of the wide yellow mustard fields
that lay to the right, he gained, unobserved, the shelter of the
scattered woods through which he had been before advancing. As he
marched on, however, the appearance of some of the fearful vestiges of
warfare--now a slain horse--now a long track of blood--now some piece
of armour, or some offensive weapon cast away in flight--showed that a
deadly strife must have passed not far from the ground over which he
was marching. These tokens of battle and defeat, however, soon became
less frequent; and, by care and circumspection, he was enabled to
guide his forces to a safe distance from Tournay without encountering
any of the bands of either party which were scattered over that part
of the province. Not knowing the state of the country, and determined,
whatever were the case, to force his way onward to Ghent without loss
of time, he did not choose to detach any parties from his main body;
but he was of course very anxious for intelligence, and it was not
long before he received as much as was necessary for the purpose of
determining his after proceedings. Ere he had marched half a league,
several stragglers belonging to the army of Ghent joined his force;
and from them he learned, that on that very morning the Duke of
Gueldres had attacked and burned the suburbs of Tournay; but that in
effecting his retreat, his rear-guard had been charged by a small
force from the town, and had been nearly cut to pieces,
notwithstanding extraordinary efforts on the part of the duke himself.
That prince was reported to be dead or taken, and the rest of the army
had retreated in no small confusion upon Oudenarde.

This discomfiture of the Flemish forces, and the disgrace inflicted on
his country, were of course painful, as a whole, to the young citizen;
but there were parts of the detail which were not so unpleasant; for
his successes of course stood out in brighter light from their
contrast with the failure of the larger division; and as it appeared,
by the account of the fugitives, that the party which had defeated the
Duke of Gueldres was the very same that he himself had in turn
overthrown and driven into Tournay, the mortification would be in some
degree softened to the people of Ghent, while he could not find in his
heart to grieve very bitterly for their defeated commander.

The intelligence that he now received of the state of the garrison of
Tournay--which it appeared was very scanty, but bold and enterprising
in the extreme--made him resolve to halt for the night at the first
village on the road, in order to keep the forces of that city in
check, while the dispersed parties of Flemings effected their retreat.
He accordingly took up his quarters at the little town of Frasne, on
the edge of the wood, and immediately sent out parties to reconnoitre
the country, and bring in any stragglers they might meet with. Few
were found, indeed; but from their information, the young burgher was
led to suppose that the great body of the forces, which had issued
from Ghent two days before, had made good its retreat, without any
farther loss than the discomfiture of its rear-guard. By the time
these facts were fully ascertained, the evening was too far advanced
to make any farther movement; and Albert Maurice, having taken
measures to hold his present position in security, laid by the weighty
armour with which, according to the custom of the day, he was
encumbered on the march, and strolled out alone into the wood, to give
way to thoughts which had long been sternly pressing for attention.

He was now returning towards Ghent, where he could not hide from
himself that new scenes of intrigue, of anxiety, and of trouble, lay
before him. His previous conduct in the same career had given birth to
regrets which he had determined to scan and try more accurately than
he ever yet had done; and from his judgment on the past, to form a
firm and inflexible determination for the future. He found, too, that
now was the moment when the self-examination must begin, if ever it
was to be attempted; and many circumstances combined to render it less
painful than it had appeared before. Previous to the expedition in
which he was now engaged, the commune with his own heart had offered
so little but pure bitterness, that he had avoided it with care.
But his recent successes, in which was to be found no matter for
self-reproach, afforded him something wherewith to balance more
painful contemplations; and with a decided purpose of indulging that
craving for calm reflection which had long preyed upon him, he went
forth totally alone, merely saying to his attendants that he would
speedily return.

Of course, it is not possible to follow the thoughts of Albert Maurice
through all the tortuous and uncertain ways which the human heart
pursues in its examination of itself. The result, however, was
painful. He compared what he had done, now that power was given into
his hands, with what he had proposed to do, when that power existed
but in expectation. Not six months before he had determined, if ever
circumstances should favour the exertion of his abilities in the wide
arena of political strife, to dedicate all the talents and energy of
his mind solely to the good of his country: to free her from
oppression, to remedy the evils of her situation, to open the way for
arts and civilization, to place laws and rights upon such a footing
that they could never be doubted nor destroyed, and to accomplish all
this by the most calm and peaceful means, without spilling one
unnecessary drop of blood, without causing one eye through all the
land to shed a tear.

Such had been his purpose, but what had been his conduct, and what had
he become? He had appropriated to himself nearly the whole power of
the state. He had obtained influence greater than his fondest
expectations had held out. He had not improved one law. He had not
removed one evil. He had seen, under his own authority, anarchy
substituted for civil order and domestic peace. He had involved
himself in the meanest wiles of faction and intrigue. He had beheld
innocent blood shed by the hands of the populace. He had himself
brought about the death of two noble-minded men, who, his own heart
told him, were innocent of the crimes with which they were charged;
and conscience thundered in his ear that they were murdered for his
ambition. He could no longer look upon himself as a patriot. He knew
himself to have become solely an ambitious demagogue; and he saw no
means of extricating himself or his country from the state into which
he had aided to immerse it, but by pursuing the same dark and
intricate intrigues, the mean cunning of which he felt bitterly to be
degrading to his better nature--by shedding more blood, by stirring up
more discord, and by plunging deeper and deeper into the abyss of
anarchy and confusion.

While such a conviction forced itself upon his mind, he almost shrunk
from himself; and the small, still voice within whispered that but one
way was left--to yield the hand of Mary of Burgundy to any prince
whose state and situation offered the most immediate prospect of
benefit and support to his country; to make price of that fair hand
and the rich dowry that went with it, the full recognition of such
popular rights as would put the freedom and prosperity of Flanders for
ever beyond a doubt, and on his own part to resign the hopes and
aspirations that had led him so far astray. But those hopes--those
aspirations--had become parts of his very soul; and to require him to
cast them from him, was to bid him die. As the bare idea crossed his
mind of resigning Mary of Burgundy--of seeing her in the arms of
another--the blood rushed up into his head with violence; and he
paused abruptly on his way, resolved, if thought presented such
images, to think no more. The good and the evil principle were in his
heart at eternal war; calm reflection instantly gave the good full
promise of victory; but the evil had but to call up the idea of Mary
of Burgundy as the wife of another, to banish reflection altogether,
and every better purpose along with it.

He had, by this time, advanced somewhat far into the wood, and the
faint grey of the sky announced that the sun was sinking rapidly below
the horizon, and warned him to return to the village. The road he had
followed was a long grassy path, cut by the wheels of the wood-carts;
and there was no mistaking his way back. But, as he paused, determined
to think no more, since thought required such bitter sacrifices, he
looked onward vacantly, ere he turned, directing with difficulty his
mind towards external things, the better to withdraw it from himself.
As he did so, he remarked, at the bottom of the slope, down which the
path proceeded, some large white object lying amongst the long grass
which fringed a little forest stream. The distance was not more than a
hundred yards in advance; and attracted, he knew not very well why, he
strode on almost unconsciously towards the spot. As he came nearer,
the object which had caught his eye assumed the form of a horse,
either dead or asleep; and to ascertain which was the case he still
walked forward, till he stood close beside it, and found that it was
the carcase of a splendid charger, which had dropped apparently from
exhaustion and loss of blood. A rich military saddle and a poitrel,
inlaid with gold, announced that the rank of the rider must have been
high; while a fresh wound in the poor beast's side, and another in his
thigh, seemed to show that he had been engaged in the skirmish of that

Albert Maurice gazed on the horse for a moment, not exactly with
indifference, but with no great interest in a sight which had been
frequently before his eyes during the last two or three days. The
thing that principally attracted his attention, indeed, was the
costliness of the caparisons; and he looked round the little glade in
which he now stood, to see if he could perceive any further traces of
the horse's owner. His eye instantly rested upon a pile of splendid
arms, cast heedlessly down at a short distance; and as he walked
forward to examine them also, a man started up, as if from sleep,
amongst the fern which there thickly clothed the forest ground,
exclaiming--"Who goes there?"

A single glance sufficed to show Albert Maurice that he stood in
presence of the Duke of Gueldres; and that prince almost as soon
perceived whom he himself had encountered. No great love existed
between them, it is true; but a natural compassion for the defeat and
disappointment which the duke had that day sustained, and a conviction
that that defeat, together with his own success, had removed all
danger from the rivalry of the other, greatly softened the feeling of
enmity in the bosom of the young citizen; and a word would have
disarmed him entirely. The contrary, however, was the case with
Adolphus of Gueldres, who, naturally furious and impatient, had been
rendered almost insane by defeat and disgrace. He had heard, too, it
would seem, of the late successes of Albert Maurice; and jealousy and
envy were thus added to hatred. His words and his manner had been
quick and vehement, even before he had seen who it was that roused
him. But no sooner did he distinguish the features of the young
citizen, than the thought of his own overthrow and of the triumph of
Albert Maurice, mingled with remembrance of the opposition he had
formerly met with, and the cool contempt with which he had been
treated on their last meeting, all rose up in his mind; and his
countenance became convulsed with passion.

"Ha!" he cried, "you here, Sir Mechanic! you here to insult and
triumph over me! Or have you come to finish out what we but began in
the town-hall of Ghent? Doubtless you have! Quick, then! Quick! Draw,
sir, draw your sword, I say! Thank God, there is no one here, either
to part us, or to see the Duke of Gueldres stain his blade with the
blood of a low citizen!"

Albert Maurice himself was not, naturally, the most patient of men;
and he instantly laid his hand upon his sword. But nobler feelings
checked him the moment after; and he paused in the act, saying--"You
had better reflect, my lord!"

Before he could add another word, however, the Duke of Gueldres struck
him a blow with the pommel of his weapon, that made him reel; and the
next moment their blades were crossed.

Complete master of every military exercise, powerful, active,
quick-sighted and calm, Albert Maurice was far more than a match for
the Duke of Gueldres, though that prince had always been reputed a
stout and skilful man-at-arms. So great, indeed, did the young
President feel his own superiority to be, that, had he not been heated
in some degree by the blow he had received, he would, most probably,
have contented himself with wounding or disarming his antagonist. But
he was heated with the insult; and in four passes, the sword of the
Duke of Gueldres, turned from its course, was wounding the empty air
over the shoulder of Albert Maurice, while the blade of the young
citizen passed direct through the chest of his adversary.

Albert Maurice recovered his weapon, and gazed for a moment on the
Duke, whose mortal career he felt must be at its close. But that
unhappy prince stood before him for an instant, still grasping his
sword, and still apparently firm upon his feet, though a ghastly
swimming of his eyes showed what a convulsive agony was moving his
frame within. He made no further effort to lunge again; but he stood
there by a sort of rigid effort, which sufficed for a time to keep him
from falling, though that was all. The next moment the sword dropped.
He reeled giddily; and then fell back with a fearful sort of sobbing
in his throat.

Albert Maurice kneeled down beside him, and strove to stanch the blood
(which was now flowing copiously from his wounds) in such a degree as
to enable him to speak, should he have any directions to give before
he died. He brought some water, also, from the brook hard by, and
sprinkled his face; and the duke almost instantly opened his eyes, and
gazed wildly about for a moment.

Then, as his glance met that of Albert Maurice, he exclaimed, in the
same harsh and brutal tone he had before used, "You have slain me
fellow! you have slain me! Out upon it, churl! you have spilt some of
the best blood of the land."

"My lord," said Albert Maurice, solemnly, "you have brought it on
yourself. But think not of that at this moment! You are dying. There
is such a thing as another world; and, oh! repent you of your sins
while you are yet in this!"

"Is it _you_ tell me to repent?" cried the duke, faintly, "you who
have shortened my time for repentance. What know you of my sins?"

"Nothing, but by report, my lord," replied the young citizen; "except,
indeed, on one occasion--the fire at the pleasure-house of
Lindenmar--the death of the young heir of Hannut!"

The duke groaned. "Oh! were that all," cried he, "were that all, that
might soon be pardoned; for my own hands in some degree undid what my
own voice commanded. But stay, stay," he added, speaking far more
quickly, "stay! The old man, they say, still grieves for his child;
still, perhaps, suspects me. Fly to him quick. Tell him the boy did
not die in the flames of Lindenmar. Tell him, tell him that I bore him
away myself. Tell him that, bad as I was, I could not resist the look
of helpless infancy; that I carried him away wrapped in my mantle; and
when my own boy died, bred him as mine; that I was kind to him; that I
loved him, till the butchers of Duke Philip murdered him, when they
cast me into prison at Namur."

A light broke at once upon the mind of the young citizen. "Good
God!" he cried, "he is not dead. He lives, my lord, he lives! He
escaped, found refuge with his own father; ay, and was instrumental in
procuring your liberation from prison. He lives--indeed, he lives!"

The eyes of the Duke of Gueldres fixed upon him as he spoke, with an
intense and half-doubting gaze. But as the young burgher repeated
earnestly, "He lives!" the dying man, by a great effort, half raised
himself from the ground, clasped his hands together, and exclaimed,
"Thank God!" They were the last words he ever spoke; for almost as he
uttered them, he closed his eyes, as if a faint sickness had come over
him, fell back upon the turf with a convulsive shudder; and in a few
moments Adolphus of Gueldres was no more.

Albert Maurice gazed upon him with a feeling of painful interest. He
had slain him, it is true, under circumstances which he believed to
justify the deed. But no one, that is not in heart a butcher, can,
under any circumstances, take life hand to hand, without feeling that
a shadow has settled over existence. There is always something to be
remembered, always something that can never be forgotten. In the case
of the young citizen, too, the cloud was of a deeper shade; for he
felt that in the death of the Duke of Gueldres, however justified by
the immediate provocation, he had taken another life in that course of
ambition, in which he foresaw that many more must fall.

Thus in gloomy bitterness, he took his way back to the village, and,
without any explanation, gave orders that the dead body should be
brought in with honour. The soldiers concluded that both horse and man
had died by the hands of the enemy; and Albert Maurice, in quitting
his quarters the next morning, gave strict directions that the remains
of the deceased prince should be immediately sent after him to Ghent.

After his departure, however, before a bier could be got ready, and
all the necessary preparations entered into, a party from the town of
Tournay swept the little village of Frasne; and the body of the Duke,
being found there, was carried away by the French. Due honours were
shown to the corpse by the people of Tournay; and many writers of that
age attribute the death of Adolphus, the bad Duke of Gueldres, to the
successful sortie of the garrison of that city.


It was barely dawn when Albert Maurice began his last day's march
towards Ghent; and though the distance was considerable, at the hour
of three in the afternoon, he was within a league of the city. The
number of armed men that he now overtook, both single individuals and
small bands, showed him that the force which had retreated from before
Tournay must have lately passed. And with a sort of anxious
apprehension in regard to the machinations which might have taken
place in Ghent during his absence, he spoke personally with almost all
the stragglers he saw; and, by a few kind words, easily induced a
number of the half-disciplined burghers and peasantry to join the
small force he was leading into Ghent; most of them being very willing
to pass for part of a conquering rather than part of a conquered army.

At the distance of about two miles from the city, at a point where the
town itself was hidden by a detached wood, Albert Maurice perceived a
small body of horsemen coming towards him; but as such a sight had
nothing extraordinary in it, he took but little heed of the party till
it was within a hundred yards, when, to his unutterable surprise, he
beheld the portly figure of worthy Martin Fruse leading the van on
horseback, a situation which the good burgher, as may be well
remembered, had never coveted in his most agile and enterprising age,
and which had become quite abhorrent to his feelings now that years
and bulk had weighed down all activity.

"Halt your troops! halt your troops, my dear boy!" cried the worthy
merchant, in some trepidation. "Halt your troops, and listen to me
while I tell you----"

"Had you not better speak with the honourable President apart?" said
one of the party, in whom Albert Maurice instantly recognised Maitre
Pierre, the eschevin who had been called to examine the dwelling of
the old Lord of Neufchatel; although, on glancing his eye over the
rest, he could recall the face of none other amongst the stout
men-at-arms, of which the chief part of the band was composed.

Seeing that there was something to be communicated, and judging that
no very agreeable intelligence awaited him, from the evident agitation
of his friends, he gave the command to halt his little force; and then
leading the way into the meadow, begged his uncle to explain the cause
of his perturbation.

Martin Fruse began with a violent declamation upon the evils of riding
on horseback, and the perils thereupon attending; but he ended with a
recapitulation of dangers somewhat more real, which awaited his nephew
if he ventured within the gates of Ghent. It seemed that the violent
party--as Albert Maurice had apprehended--had, under the skilful
tactics of the druggist Ganay, completely outman[oe]uvred the little
junta which the young President had left to keep them in check; and
now that it was too late, Albert Maurice perceived that he had
suffered his thirst for military renown to lead him aside from the
paths of saner policy. Ganay himself had become the supreme object of
the people's adoration; and having leagued himself by some skilful
management with the Duke of Cleves on the one hand, and the populace
on the other, he had been entirely successful in all the measures he
had proposed to the council of magistrates. The states general had not
again met, but a new party had been created in the town. The city of
Ghent, in fact, had become completely, but unequally divided; for
though a strong and influential body had attached themselves to Martin
Fruse, the multitude adhered to his opponent.

Ganay, indeed, the worthy burgher said, not daring openly to assail
one whose successes in the field were daily subject of rejoicing with
the citizens, affected to act upon the instructions and desires of
Albert Maurice himself; and the complete, or rather apparent union
between them, which had formerly existed, had aided to deceive the
people. Martin Fruse had reproached the druggist, and reasoned with
the magistrates, in vain; and all that he had gained was the certainty
that, from some cause which he could not define, Ganay had become his
nephew's most bitter enemy, though he still affected to regard him as
a friend. Private information, also, had reached Martin Fruse early in
the morning, that, as soon as it had been ascertained the young
citizen was on his march with the intention of reaching the city in
the course of the day, Ganay, supported both by the nobility under the
Duke of Cleves, and by the more violent members of the states, had
contrived a scheme for arresting the President that very night, at a
grand banquet to be given in honour of his return; and the large body
of discontented soldiery which had been pouring into the town during
the day, and who were already jealous of those who had been more
successful than themselves, seemed to offer the means of accomplishing
this purpose in security.

Martin Fruse, losing all presence of mind at the danger of his beloved
nephew, had determined to quit the city, to meet and warn the object
of this conspiracy, of his danger, ere he entered town. The eschevin,
who had been called to the hotel of the Lord of Neufchatel, conscious
that some suspicions which he had ventured to breathe concerning the
death of that nobleman had rendered him obnoxious to the party which
for the time appeared triumphant, had joined the good burgher; and the
danger that seemed to threaten all, had even overcome the objection of
Martin Fruse to the use of a horse.

This tale was soon told; and Albert Maurice, from his own private
knowledge of all the springs that were moving the dark cabals within
the walls of the city before him, saw much deeper into the dangers and
difficulties of his own situation than those who detailed the
circumstances which had occurred since his departure. He saw that the
crisis of his fate was come; and without once entertaining the vain
thought of avoiding it, he merely paused to calculate how he might
pass through it most triumphantly.

Fear, or hesitation, doubt or even anxiety, never seemed to cross his
mind for a moment. He felt, it is true, that his victory or his fall
must be now complete, and that he was marching forward to a strife
that must be final and decisive; but still he was eager to bring the
whole to a close, perhaps from that confidence in his own powers which
is ever one great step towards success. He heard his uncle to an end
with an unchanged countenance; and then, without a single observation
on the intelligence he had just received, he spoke a few words to the
eschevin, in a low tone, in regard to the inquisition he had charged
him to make in the house of the old Lord of Neufchatel. The answers
seemed to satisfy him well; for ever and anon he bowed his head with a
calm but somewhat bitter smile, saying merely, "So! Ay! Is it so?"

At length he demanded suddenly--pointing to a man-at-arms who had come
up with his uncle and the party which had accompanied him, and now sat
with his visor up, displaying a fresh and weather-beaten countenance,
well seamed with scars of ancient wounds--"Who is that? I should know
his face."

"That," whispered his uncle, riding close up to him, "that is good
Matthew Gourney, the captain of adventurers, who was with us in the
year '50, when we made a stand against the Count of Charolois. He said
you had sent for him."

"I did, I did!" replied the young burgher; "but I had forgotten all
about it, in the events that have since taken place. Where is the
prisoner I left in the town prison?"

"Ay, there is one of their bold acts," answered Martin Fruse; and, as
he spoke, the countenance of Albert Maurice turned deadly pale,
thinking they had put to death the man whom he had promised to set
free; but his uncle soon relieved him. "Ay! there is one of their bold
acts," he said; "they have moved him from the town-house to the
Prevot's prison, and threaten to do him to death to-morrow by
cock-crow. Maillotin du Bac would fain have had him tried by the
eschevins this morning; but the Duke of Cleves made so long a speech,
and brought so much other business before the council, that they
agreed to put it off till to-morrow, when he is to be interrogated at
six o'clock, and have the question at seven if he refuse to confess."

Again the President mused, without reply, though he saw that to extort
confessions, which would tend to create a charge against him, might be
the object of the Prevot in reserving the Vert Gallant for the
torture. At length, riding up to the old man-at-arms, he led him
apart, and conversed with him earnestly for near a quarter of an hour.
He then conducted him, with the dozen of troopers who accompanied him,
to the last constabulary of the horse, which had shared in his own
successful expedition, and then spoke a few words with the constable,
or leader of the troop, who, with a low reverence, dropped back
amongst his men. The followers of Matthew Gournay fell into the ranks;
the adventurer put himself at their head; and scarcely a difference
was perceivable in the order of the band.

As soon as all this was completed, Albert Maurice rode back to his
uncle and the rest of his party, and informed them calmly that it was
absolutely necessary, notwithstanding all the events which had lately
taken place, that they should return to Ghent, and re-enter the town
by one of the opposite gates; so as to leave it at least doubtful
whether they had or had not held any communication with himself.

What he required of them was, perhaps, somewhat hard, considering that
they were peaceable men, who had no small reason to fear for their
lives, and had no immediate stimulus to make them risk so much
willingly. But Martin Fruse had seen his nephew accomplish such great
things in the face of every sort of probability, and the tone in which
Albert Maurice spoke was so calm and assured, that the wishes of the
young citizen were received as commands; and the small party of
citizens, now left without an escort, rode off; while the young
President still halted on the road, to give them time to make the
circuit proposed before his entrance. As soon as he judged that this
object was accomplished, Albert Maurice again put his troops in
motion, and advanced slowly towards the city. As he emerged from the
low wood that had hitherto screened him, he despatched a trumpet to
announce his approach to the council of Ghent, and the States of
Flanders; and directed the messenger especially to speak with Signior
Ganay, one of the magistrates of the town. He then resumed a quicker
pace, and approached rapidly the walls of the city.

Before he reached the gates, however, it became evident that his
harbinger had not spared the spur, and had already executed his
commission. A large body of horsemen were seen to issue forth,
accompanied by a crowd on foot; and loud shouts of joy and gratulation
met the ear of Albert Maurice, showing that the populace, at least, to
whom Ganay had first made his court by affecting friendship for their
victorious President, had not yet become aware of the designs of his
enemies. But such demonstrations of the popular joy on his return,
were received by Albert Maurice as no sign that the purpose of
destroying him did not exist, nor as any reason for expecting that his
overthrow would not be attempted, nor as any proof that the people
would oppose or resent it; for no one knew better than himself how
slight a charge will condemn the most innocent before the fierce
tribunal of the multitude, or felt more bitterly how readily those who
now greeted his return would shout at his execution.

He was surprised, however, as the two parties drew near each other, to
find that the body which had issued forth to receive him was headed by
Ganay himself, and was composed of all those whom he had the greatest
reason to look upon as his political enemies. But Albert Maurice was
not to be deceived; and though he received the compliments and
gratulations of the citizens on his return, and their thanks for his
great services, with a smiling countenance, and bland untroubled brow,
yet his mind clearly divined the motives of so much courtesy, and he
internally scoffed at the grossness of the deceit they attempted to
play off upon him. He bowed, and smiled, and doffed his cap and plume
to every one who affected to congratulate him; but he well understood
that he was surrounded by doubtful friends or concealed enemies, and
watched carefully every changing expression of the faces round him.

The populace on foot, who crowded round, with loud and vehement shouts
of "Long live the noble President! Long live the conqueror of Le
Lude!" he clearly saw were sincere enough. But in the set speeches and
formal courtesy of the different members of the states, he beheld much
to distrust, and calmly prepared for those great measures which were
alone fitted to meet the exigency of the moment.

Albert Maurice was a reader of the human countenance--a book, every
volume of which is easy to comprehend, when we know the language in
which it is written, or, in other words, when we understand the
general character of the individual. Ganay was a master in the art of
dissimulation; but the young citizen was so intimately acquainted with
every turn of his dark mind, that even the slight traces which he
suffered to appear, were as legible to Albert Maurice, as if he had
seen into his heart. He marked a transient and scarcely perceptible
shade come over the brow of the druggist, whenever the people
vociferated their noisy welcome. He saw, too, that on each shout,
Ganay redoubled his attention to himself; and he perceived that, from
the moment they met, his former friend attached himself to his side,
and strove anxiously to prevent his holding any private communication
with the leaders of his troops. From all this, he judged that the
tidings received from Martin Fruse were substantially correct; and
that the honours shown him on his return, were only to deceive the
people, while any act that was meditated against him was to be
executed at night, after the lower orders had retired to rest.

Albert Maurice affected to be entirely deceived, and rode on with the
party who had come to welcome him, with every appearance of friendship
and confidence. He spoke freely and calmly with those around him;
addressed Ganay frequently in a low and confidential tone; and at the
same time, assumed all that state and dignity, which he knew that his
enemies expected him to display. He marked, too, with a feeling of
suppressed scorn, the significant glances which passed between his
foes, as--taking on himself the principal place, and with an air and
demeanour, which might have suited the most potent monarch in
Christendom--he rode through the gates of Ghent amidst the
acclamations of the people.

While thus Albert Maurice proceeded, surrounded by a great number of
the high citizens, the troops he commanded followed in a long line,
now swelled to the amount of nearly fifteen hundred men. The whole
cavalcade moved on towards the market-place; but some persons, who
remained near the drawbridge, remarked that the last band of soldiers
did not follow the rest; but, halting at the gate, relieved the guard
that was there on duty, and then passed on, in a different direction,
by the low streets which ran under the walls. At the same time,
however, three of the troopers were detached, and, at once, repassing
the gates, galloped off at full speed, in the direction of Heusden and
Melle. It was farther observed, that in about two hours afterwards,
three bands of men-at-arms came up from the same quarter, at a quick
pace, and entered the city, without even being questioned by the
guard. To what spot they went in the city was not very clearly
ascertained, but it was generally reported that they made their way in
small parties to the town-house.

In the meanwhile, Albert Maurice and the rest pursued their march
towards that building, the crowds increasing every moment as they
passed, and rending the air with their acclamations. With his helmet,
lance, and shield, carried by pages behind him, as if he had been the
most distinguished knight in the land--with his cap and plume in his
hand, and bowing his fine head low at every shout of the multitude,
the young citizen advanced towards what was called the Perron of the
Hotel de Ville, on which he found collected, to do him honour, the
Duke of Cleves and a number of the other nobles of the town and
neighbourhood. Knowing their league against him, and what a mockery
they considered this public reception of a simple burgher, Albert
Maurice could scarcely prevent the scorn he felt in his heart from
curling his proud lip. But he did prevent it, and merely thinking,
like Hamlet--"They fool me to the top of my bent," he dismounted from
his horse at the steps, and played exactly the part which he well knew
they expected from him. After receiving, with a degree both of
haughtiness and humility, the gratulations of the nobles upon his
successful expedition, he turned and addressed the lower orders of
Ghent in a long and flattering harangue, throughout which, the close
of every period was drowned in the enthusiastic cheers of the

"It were hard, my friends," he added, in conclusion, "that you should
all come out hither to welcome my return, and I should give you no
sign of my good will. Fain would I have you all to sup with me; but,
in good faith, there are so many here--some twenty thousand, as I
guess--that no house could hold the multitude I see around me.
However, it is a fair and beautiful evening, and there is no better
roof than the sky. Now, as these noble lords and worthy merchants have
invited me to banquet with them within, I invite you all to sup here
in the market-place, and by seven of the clock you shall find good ale
and beef enough to satisfy you, if I give the last stiver of my
private fortune to entertain the worthy artisans of Ghent."

A loud shout burst from the people, but Ganay and his friends
exchanged glances not of the most pleasant kind. Nor were their looks
rendered more placid, when they heard an order given by the young
President to his troops, purporting that they were to stable their
horses in whatever sheds they could find round the marketplace, and to
quarter themselves in the wide halls and vacant chambers of the Hotel
de Ville. Ganay even ventured to remonstrate against turning the
town-house into a barrack, but he was instantly silenced by Albert

"I have heard, my excellent, good friend," he replied, "since my
return to Ghent, that the fifteen thousand men, who were driven like
sheep from before Tournay, have been received in this city, and
quartered in the different barracks. I know, therefore, that there can
be no room to spare, and what you urge with regard to the illegality
of bringing troops into the town-house, you must well know does not
apply in the present case. The troops which I have resolved to station
there are the troops of the city of Ghent, not those of either a
foreign or a native prince."

"But for the informality of the thing," urged Ganay, seeing that by
the very measures which he had taken to secure the safe execution of
his purpose against the young citizen, he had, in fact, over-reached
himself--"but for the informality of the thing, would it not be
better, as there is no room for them in the town, to march them into
any of the pleasant little villages in the neighbourhood?"

"What!" exclaimed Albert Maurice, ass tuning an air of
indignation--"what! make the victorious troops, that have so well
served the city, give place to those who have brought nothing but
disgrace upon us! No, no, Master Ganay, let us hear no more of this.
My orders must be obeyed;" and so saying, he turned and advanced
towards the door of the town-house.

A short and rapid conversation was now carried on, in a low tone,
between the druggist and the Duke of Cleves, as they ascended the
steps towards the hall. "It will be impossible to-night," whispered
the noble.

"If he live over to-morrow," replied Ganay, "no earthly power will
overthrow him."

A few words succeeded, in so low a tone, that even, by the parties who
spoke, their meaning was probably gathered more completely by their
mutual looks, than by any distinct sounds. A white-haired old soldier,
however, who was pushing up the steps after the President, just heard
Ganay add, "If I do, will you justify and defend me?"

"Anything to get rid of him!" replied the duke, emphatically; and they
both passed on.

The sun was, by this time, beginning to descend in the western sky;
and on entering the town-house, the young citizen retired to the
apartments which had been assigned him in that building, and remained
long in consultation with various persons, who were admitted to him
one after another. The individuals who thus visited him were all
marked by the opposite faction, which remained in the other parts of
the town-house; and it was seen that, besides Martin Fruse, and a
number of the burghers adhering to the party of that good citizen,
almost all the leaders of the bands which had accompanied the young
President in his expedition to Lille and Douai were admitted, and
remained with him long.

All this, however, appeared natural enough; and though his troops, in
quartering themselves in different parts of the building, according to
his orders, seemed to take upon themselves a tone of authority and
power not very pleasing to his adversaries, yet this also might pass
for the swagger and insolence of military success; nor did it excite
any very great surprise. As the evening went on, however, a number of
persons were observed ascending to his apartments, whose faces no one
recognised. Some stayed and some returned; but it was evident that
they were not citizens of Ghent, and great was the anxiety and
discussion which these appearances caused amongst the enemies of the
young President. Every means was taken to discover whence they came
and what was their errand, but it was all in vain. The Duke of Cleves
retired to his own hotel, to prepare for the scenes that were about to
take place; and Ganay waited eagerly the coming of the hour appointed
for the banquet, which would put an end, he believed, for ever, to
transactions which, from many causes, he both doubted and feared.

Nevertheless, his sensations were of a mixed, and even painful nature,
and his conclusions in regard to the conduct of Albert Maurice were
less clear and decided than they had ever been before. He did not and
would not believe that the President suspected the precise design of
those who had contrived his overthrow; but he saw evidently that he
was not deceived by all the fair appearances which had welcomed him
back to Ghent; and he felt that the moment was come when, as the young
citizen had long before foreseen, the immediate destruction of the one
was necessary to the safety of the other. That conviction in his own
bosom of course made him believe that Albert Maurice was equally alive
to the same fact; and as the means which he had so carefully prepared
during the absence of the other had been, in some degree, rendered
vain by the measures that the President had taken, the druggist now
stood resolved to snatch the first opportunity of executing his
purpose by any means, however great the risk, well knowing that the
peril of delay was still greater.

And yet, strange to say, there was within the bosom of that
man--hardened as he was by crimes, and still more hardened by the
struggle of passions concealed within his breast through a long
life--strange to say, there was a feeling of deep regret, of bitter
repugnance, when he thought of the very act he planned for his own
security. If ever there had been, in the course of all his existence,
a being that he had sincerely loved, besides his own unhappy son, that
being had been Albert Maurice; and though in the scenes of civil
faction and the strife of contending interests and desires which they
had lately passed through, that affection had been apparently
smothered, it is wonderful how freshly it rose up in his heart, when
he thought that Albert Maurice must die by his means--possibly by his
own hand.

The fatal creed he held of man's entire mortality, made him fearless
of death himself, and careless of inflicting it on others; but,
perhaps, by teaching him that the loves and affections of this life
were all, it made them take a deeper hold upon his heart, when once
they could grasp it by any means; and for a moment, as he thought of
cutting off the noble being whose powers he had so often admired--of
extinguishing for ever all those fiery energies and bright aspirations
he had watched from their first breaking forth to their full
expansion--he shuddered at the task.

The people without, witnessing the preparations for the banquet to
which the young citizen had invited them, from time to time shouted
forth his name with loud applause, and there was a voice within the
bosom of Ganay that echoed their praises. "He is, indeed, a splendid
creature," he thought; "and if ever there was one calculated to win
all hearts, and lead men and nations on to scenes and glories such as
the world has never yet seen, he is the man. Yet after all, he must
die! and 'tis but like the slaughter of a mighty stag or a noble boar;
and death--which ends all things--perhaps, when the pain and the
pleasure of life are fairly balanced, is the crowning good that
renders the whole equal at last; but I must speed to see all


Never had the town of Ghent witnessed so magnificent a sight as on the
night after the return of Albert Maurice. The whole marketplace before
the Stadt Huys, illuminated by a thousand torches, was crowded with
people regaling at long tables, which groaned beneath the burden of
good cheer. The young President had spared no means to satisfy all;
and, by the magic influence of gold, had, in the short time which had
elapsed since his return, conjured up a festival more like some of
those fairy banquets depicted in an Eastern tale, than anything in
real life. Thousands and thousands, too, of the wealthier classes,
whose circumstances raised them above those who came to partake of his
bounty, moved through the open spaces, enjoying the scene. The Perron
of the Hotel de Ville was crowded with guards, officers, and
attendants, looking over the gay and happy sight which the square
afforded; and above all, rose the dark mass of the town-house, with a
broad blaze flashing forth from all the open windows, while the sound
of music from within, and the glancing of figures moving rapidly
across the lights, offered links of interest between the feelings of
the crowd without and the transactions that were passing in the
building. A knot of the more curious citizens had stationed themselves
on the little rise by the fountain, and watched eagerly the windows of
the hall, where the banquet was just about to take place; and at
length, when a loud flourish of trumpets echoed out upon the air, some
of them were heard to exclaim, "Now! now they are coming to the
tables!--See, see! they are passing along!--There is the Duke of
Cleves; I know him by the limp in his gait; and there is the
President--there is the noble President! See how he overtops them all,
and how his plumes dance above the highest in the hall! Hurrah for the
noble President!" and the multitude catching the sound, burst forth
with a loud and universal cheer, that made the buildings around echo
and re-echo with the shout.

Although, at that distance, it was difficult to distinguish the
persons within, yet the shout was appropriate, for it was, indeed,
Albert Maurice who--received as a guest by the states of Flanders, and
the nobles and prime burghers of Ghent--was advancing to the seat
prepared for him. Long consultations had been previously held in
regard to where that seat was to be placed; for feudal states in
general required that a marked distinction should be observed between
nobles and citizens; but the druggist counselled the nobles to indulge
the young citizen's pride to the utmost for that one night. The
example of Artevelde--a common tradesman of that very town, who had
sat and treated with the highest princes of Europe--was cited, and
prevailed; and the president of Ghent took his chair by the Duke of
Cleves, with Ganay, by a previous arrangement, seated beside him.

The face of the druggist was uncommonly pale. He had marked the
immense concourse of people in the square; he had marked the multitude
of guards and attendants that crowded the terrace and thronged the
halls of the town-house; and he knew the infinite perils that attended
the deed he had undertaken to perform. Whatever course events might
take, he felt that fate brooded heavily over the whole splendid scene;
and his small, clear dark eye wandered somewhat wildly round the hall,
especially as, in following Albert Maurice towards the seat it had
been arranged he was to occupy, the thundering shout of the multitude
without burst upon his ear. All, however, apparently passed in
tranquil ease; the whole party were seated; and the attendants of the
Duke of Cleves--somewhat more numerous than necessary--drew round the
upper end of the table. But as they did so, they perceived that they
enclosed amongst themselves two or three strange men, against whose
intrusion they remonstrated rather roughly. What the others answered
was not heard, but they kept their place, and the banquet proceeded.
Everything was rich and splendid, according to the custom of that
time; and many a fish and many a fowl appeared upon the table, which
have either lost their palatable flavour in latter days, or have been
discarded by some depravity of human taste. Albert Maurice ate
sparingly, and drank little; but he was more gay and cheerful than,
perhaps, any one had ever seen him before; and, with the whole, there
was an air of easy dignity, which left any outward difference that
might be observed between himself and any of the nobles around,
entirely to his advantage.

Ganay drank deep; and, as the banquet proceeded, his cheek grew
flushed, and his eye sparkled more; but he was silent, absent, and
thoughtful, and shrunk when the eye of Albert Maurice rested on him,
even for a moment, in conversation. At length the Duke of Cleves rose,
and addressed the druggist briefly, saying, "Master Ganay, you are an
orator, and I am none; and besides, as one of the consuls of the good
town of Ghent, the task I am going to put upon you falls more
naturally to you than to me. Fill, then, yon golden chalice to the
brim, and express, if you can find language to do so, the gratitude
and admiration which the states of Flanders--nobles and commons
alike--feel for him who has won the first successes in arms for his
native country against her base invaders--successes which I trust may
be but the earnest of many more."

Ganay took the large golden cup, and held it to an officer who filled
it with wine: but, as the druggist again brought it back, ha leaned
his hand upon the edge for a moment, and something seemed, to the eyes
of more persons than one, to fall into the chalice. He rose, however,
with greater composure than he had hitherto displayed through the
evening; and with a happy flow of words, the very choiceness and
selection of which made his speech appear far more vigorous and
enthusiastic than it really was, he commented on the talents and
successes of the young citizen, and thanked him, in the name of the
town of Ghent and the States of Flanders, for the services he had
rendered to his country. It is scarcely necessary, perhaps, to state
that it was the common custom of the day for a person publicly
drinking to another in such a manner, to taste the wine himself, and
then to send the cup to him whom he addressed. Ganay, accordingly, at
the end of his oration, raised the bowl to his lips, and held it there
for a moment; and then, according to form, gave it to the cupbearer,
who presented it to the young burgher. Albert Maurice, after taking
the chalice, rose at once, while the eye of the druggist fixed upon
him with a gaze, that had something almost fearful in its very

"Noble lords," he said, in a clear, mellow, steady voice; "noble
lords! dear fellow citizens! worthy men of Flanders! you have been
pleased this day to show me honours, far higher than my poor merits
gave me any title to expect. The duty of a citizen to his country is
one, which, however zealously executed, affords him no claim to
thanks; for being an obligation imposed on him by his birth, it binds
him strictly through his life; and even at his death, he that has done
all within his scope to uphold his native land, has still done nothing
but that which he was bound to do. Nevertheless, it is hard to say,
how much I rejoice that the men of Ghent and the states of Flanders
have thought fit, by such distinguished honours, to reward such poor
services as mine. Nor, however grateful to my heart may be your
generous applause, are my feelings personal alone. I rejoice more that
you have so honoured and rewarded the first man who has been enabled
to render service in arms to the state, since her restoration to
freedom, than that the first was Albert Maurice. I rejoice chiefly,
because I am sure that the distinction shown to me this night,
unworthy as I am, will be the means of calling others forth in the
service of the country, whom diffidence of their own powers, or doubts
of the state's willingness to accept what they may believe inefficient
service, has hitherto kept back from the path of fame. When an
individual serves his country to the utmost of his power, as I have
before said, he does but his duty to that country, and no more; but
when the state recompenses its individual servants even beyond their
deserts, it does its duty to itself, and ensures the most zealous
services of all its children: for the men who will serve a niggard
master well, will serve a liberal one with their whole heart and soul;
and let me say, there is a mighty difference. Men of Ghent," continued
the young President, "and you, noble barons and burghers of Flanders,
I give you all deep and heartfelt thanks; and I drink unto you all!"

Albert Maurice had spoken calmly and collectedly, and not a word
betrayed that there was one feeling in his heart but tranquil
confidence. As he paused and lifted the cup in his hand, the gaze of
Ganay grew more and more intense; his pale lip quivered, and a bright
red spot glowed on his ashy cheek, while the young citizen continued
to raise the cup slowly towards his lip. Suddenly, however, Albert
Maurice paused, and turned his glance with a movement as quick as
lightning upon the druggist, into whose face the blood rushed with
fearful violence as their eyes met. Sternly and steadfastly the young
President gazed on him, while one might count fifty, and then tossing
the cup into the midst of the hall, he exclaimed, with a scornful
laugh, "No, no! No, no! Did you dream that I did not know you,

"Know me now then!" cried Ganay, starting up; "know me now!" and he
sprang towards Albert Maurice like a famished tiger. But, at that
moment, the man who stood behind his chair strode forward; something
bright waved above the druggist as he rose, descended at once upon his
head, and cleft its way through to the very eyes. Ganay fell back from
his place, dead upon the floor of the hall; but even as he fell, his
hand, armed with a short poniard, aimed an impotent blow at the young
President, which struck ringing against the pavement.

"Ho! Close the doors!" cried Albert Maurice, rapidly. "Matthew
Gournay, you have done well! Let no one dare to approach the corpse!
Look at him as he lies, lords and free citizens! Look at him as he
lies, with the weapon of destruction in his hand! And you, my friends,
whom I stationed round about, did you not see him drop the poison in
the cup as clearly as I did?"

"We did! we did! we did!" cried a dozen voices round the table; and
those who were at first inclined to look somewhat fiercely upon these
witnesses, soon perceived that the testimony came from all the most
honourable citizens of Ghent, who, forewarned, had watched the
proceedings of the druggist.

"These are bold and terrible deeds, Sir President!" said the Duke of

"Not so bold as some I could name, Duke of Cleves!" replied Albert
Maurice, bending his brows sternly upon him. "The man who lies before
you has already more than one murder on his head. There are the proofs
of his participation in the death of the good old Lord of Neufchatel,
who died by poison while recovering from his wounds. For these proofs
I have to thank yon worthy and fearless magistrate, Maitre Pierre.
These, however, would have been produced before the judges of this
city, had I not discovered the purpose of this base assassin to poison
me this night, and taken proper means to counteract his design. There
are others here present, leagued in the same evil conspiracy; and did
I so please, I could name them one by one. Look not to your
attendants, Duke of Cleves; for know, that in this building and around
it I have enough faithful friends, to bind every traitor present hand
and foot, and give them over to the common hangman, did I so will it.
But fear not; I neither accuse you nor absolve you, my lord. You came
here, a guest to the city of Ghent, and you depart unopposed,
uninjured, with this warning only: beware how you entertain a thought
against the liberties of the people. To the rest--within whose bosoms
dwells the fearful consciousness of their own treachery--I say only, I
do not dread them; and from my confidence in myself and in the people
of Ghent, they find safety. Those who were moved to seek my overthrow
by fears and doubts, instilled into them by yon arch traitor who now
lies dead, will learn from my conduct this night, that I am not the
man that I have been represented; and those who, from baser motives,
would have compassed my death, may also learn, that such designs fall
ever, sooner or later, on the heads of those that framed them. Those
who love me not, therefore, may depart in peace; those who love me and
Ghent, remain; and let us finish our festivities, for the death of
that base man is no more to be noted than the shooting of a wolf, or
any other wild beast that would destroy us. Take away the corpse!"

The guests looked upon each other with inquiring glances, as they
stood around the table in the same attitudes into which they had
started, on the sudden catastrophe they had just witnessed; but few
present were willing, by quitting the hall, to brand themselves as
enemies to Albert Maurice and to Ghent.

Good Martin Fruse was the first to resume his seat, which he did,
murmuring, "He was an unworthy man, that Ganay, and a disgrace to the
city. He nearly caused my death some twenty years ago."

Those who heard this new charge against the unhappy druggist started,
and many looked wise, and shook the sagacious head, exclaiming, "Ah!
we always knew he was a wicked man!" but Albert Maurice, who
understood that the mode of death to which his uncle alluded was not
quite deserving of such serious comment, again called upon those who
were friends to Ghent, and to himself, to resume their seats at once.

One after another, all the citizens, and almost all the nobles,
followed the example of good Martin Fruse. The Duke of Cleves,
however, together with a few of his immediate partisans, remained
standing, and, after a brief pause, moved a step towards the door.

"It is not my custom," he said, "to sit and drink in halls where blood
has just been shed; and without being an enemy to Ghent, or any of her
true and faithful sons, I may be pardoned for quitting a place, where
I know not what is to happen next."

"Fortunately for myself, my lord," replied Albert Maurice, "I _did_
know what was intended to happen next; though, perhaps, my having
spoiled the design may be matter of offence to some here present. But
not to bandy words with so high a prince, I have only further to say,
that the citizens of Ghent have been honoured by your presence while
it has lasted; and you have, in return, been treated with a goodly and
instructive, though somewhat fearful, spectacle, showing how the men
of this city punish those who attempt to poison them at their solemn
feasts. Make way for the Duke of Cleves, there!" And with an air in
which courtesy and grace gave additional point to the keen scorn that
curled his lip and bent his brow, Albert Maurice led the Duke towards
the door, and bowed low as he passed out.

The young President then resumed his seat; his lip softened, his brow
unbent, and, gazing round the guests with one of those bland smiles
which often win approbation for the past, by seeming certain of
applause, he exclaimed--"Friends, have I done well?"

The man who rose to reply was one of the most zealous of that violent
party on whose support Ganay had founded his authority; and Albert
Maurice prepared for bold opposition; for he knew him to be fierce and
fearless, though honest and upright in purpose. By one of those sudden
revolutions of feeling, however, which are common in scenes of great
excitement, the whole sentiments of the partisan had become changed by
the frank and determined demeanour of the young citizen; and he answered
at once--"So well have you done, Sir President, that, in my opinion, if
Ghent owed you gratitude before, that gratitude ought now to be
increased a hundred-fold; and if she suspected you of any baseness,
those suspicions should be done away for ever. To many of us you have
been represented as courting the nobility for your own purposes, and
seeking alone, in all you have done, your own aggrandizement. Some of
us, too--I for one," he added, boldly--"consented to your arrest this
night. I acknowledge it; and frankly I acknowledge I was wrong. But
believe me, Sir President, when with the same voice I declare, that,
had I ever dreamed of the scheme for murdering you here, my own knife
should first have drunk the blood of the assassin. Justly has he been
done to death; and wisely have you treated yon proud prince, who courts
us now, only, that he may first rise by us, and then crush us hereafter;
and who, as no one that saw his countenance can doubt, was leagued with
the dead assassin. It is the policy of those that hate us, to set us at
variance amongst ourselves, and remove from us all the men whose
talents and whose firmness will enable us to triumph still. Let us
then, all pledge ourselves to union; and, in order to preserve him who
alone possesses genius and power sufficient to lead us properly, let us
give him a guard of five hundred men, and intrust him with greater
authority than he has hitherto enjoyed."

The proposal was received with acclamation; and the citizens, some
eager to show that they had no participation in the plot which had
just been frustrated, some carried away by the general enthusiasm, and
some from the first devoted to the young President, vied with each
other in voting him new powers and new dignities. At that moment he
might have commanded anything in the power of the states of Flanders
to bestow; and much more was spontaneously offered than he thought
prudent to accept. "No, no!" he said; "limit the power you grant me to
that which your fathers formerly conferred, in this very hall, on
Jacob Von Artevelde, with this further restriction, that I shall
submit, every month, the revenues intrusted to my disposal to the
inspection of three persons chosen from your own body. Thus shall I be
enabled to serve you as much as man can do; and thus will you guard
against those abuses to which the unlimited confidence of your
ancestors gave rise. Nothing more will I accept."

The will of the young citizen for the time was law, and the whole
arrangement was speedily completed. One more deep cup of red wine each
man present quaffed to the health of Albert Maurice, and then took
leave, one by one. Martin Fruse was the last that left him, and, as he
did so, the good old man wrung his hand hard. "Farewell, Albert," he
said; "I have seen you a little child, and I have seen you a stately
man, and I have loved you better than anything else on earth. You have
now reached a dizzy height, my dear boy; and, oh! take care that your
head do not turn giddy. For my sake, if not for your own, take care;
for it would slay me to see your fall."


Albert Maurice sat alone, after an evening of such fearful excitement,
as few have ever passed upon this earth--after having seen his own
life, and power, and hopes, in momentary danger--after having
controlled and concealed his own passions, and bridled, and governed,
and guided those of others--after having overthrown his enemies, slain
his betrayer, secured his authority, and taken all but one small easy
step to the very summit of his ambition. Oh, what a host of mingled
sensations crowded rapidly on his heart! and how dizzily his brain
whirled for the first few brief moments, while remembrance rapidly
brought before him all the multiplied events of the last two hours;
and out of the smoke of memory rose the giant consciousness that he
was successful--triumphantly successful!

For an instant his lip curled with a proud and satisfied smile; and
everything was forgotten, but that bright bubble--success. But, as he
sat, a sort of lassitude came over him; his eye fell casually on the
spot where the druggist Ganay had lain, convulsed in the agonies of
death; and, by a caprice of the imagination, the same face which had
then appeared streaked with ghastly blood, and contorted with the
pangs of dissolution, was presented to his memory, as he had seen it
in former days, speaking the words of hope to his own ear, and
cheering him on the path of enterprise and ambition.

Touched by the magic wand of association, the splendid objects which
he had just been contemplating began to change their form and lose
their brightness. A dull weight of thought seemed to fall upon him,
and his utmost efforts would not throw it off. It seemed as if some
fiend, in bitter mockery, resolved to conjure up the faces of the
dead, and to torture his heart with painful recollections, even in the
hour of triumph. To the form of the druggist, next succeeded, before
the eye of fancy, that of the Duke of Gueldres, dyeing the green sward
with his blood; and then, the shifting picture of the mind presented
the same prince as when first, with buoyant joy, he came to thank him
for his liberation. Next appeared Imbercourt and Hugonet, bending to
the stroke of the executioner: and then, he beheld them as they had
appeared at the council, when he had been examined on the accusation
of the Prevot; while the calm, grave, noble countenance of Imbercourt
was seen pleading eagerly in exculpation of him, who had since worked
out the death of his defender.

"So many, in so short a time!" thought Albert Maurice. "Yet have they
died, each for his own misdeeds; and I have sacrificed them--ay, and
with pain--for the good of my country alone!"

He almost started at the vehemence with which conscience gave the lie
to so base a delusion. "For the good of my country alone!" he thought
again. "Nay--nay--nay--for my own ambition. What--what act have I done
yet, for the good of my country _alone?_ None, alas! none! and even
now, perhaps--even now, when ambition has swallowed up all--when I
have reached the very pinnacle of success--perhaps the only one I have
suffered to escape--perhaps yon Duke of Cleves is even now plotting to
deprive me of the only reward that can wipe away every evil memory,
repay every effort, tranquillize every pain, and render success a
blessing indeed. But he shall plot in vain; and if he dare to plot, by
the Lord that lives, he shall die!"

"Ho! without there!" he continued, aloud. "Bring me a hat and cloak!
Oh, good Matthew Gournay--I had forgot," he added, as he saw who it
was that answered his summons--"this very night your noble lord shall
be set free. But I must see him myself; I have tidings for him which
will glad his heart. You, too, shall not be forgotten; and though I
know, gold can never pay such services as yours, yet there are other
means within my power. This very night we will set free your lord. In
all the turbulence of the past evening, I had forgot what I should
have remembered. No, no, boy"--he added, to the page who brought him a
high-plumed bonnet and richly decorated cloak--"these vestments I have
on are all too fine already. I must conceal my rank--my station in the
city, I should say. Get me some servant's cloak and hat. Be quick!
'Tis nearly ten."

The President mused thoughtfully till the boy returned; and honest
Matthew Gournay, seeing that deep and agitating thoughts were
engrossing all his attention, stood quietly gazing on the spot where
he had slain the unhappy Ganay, and wondering that any man should take
the trouble of poisoning another, when he might rid himself of his
enemy so easily by the dagger or the sword.

At length the hat and cloak were brought; and Albert Maurice drew the
one round his person, and the other over his brow. "Now, Matthew
Gournay," he said, "take five-and-twenty men, and bid them follow me
by separate ways to the palace. There wait till I come. I will be in
the square almost as soon as you; and after I have spent some ten
minutes in transacting business which admits of no delay, we will go
on and liberate your good lord."

The ring which Matthew Gournay had received from his young lord, acted
with the magic effect of some talisman in an Eastern tale; and
whatever commands he received from Albert Maurice, he obeyed at once,
with unquestioning alacrity. The five-and-twenty men were soon
summoned--for the whole force of the free companions had been poured
into the town of Ghent, during the evening, by means of the gate
which, as we have seen, the followers of the President had secured on
his first entering the city. A few brief words directed them by
different ways to the palace; and--passing through the various crowds
which had been gathered together for the entertainment in the square,
and which were now discussing, in eager tones, the events that had
taken place in the town-house--the men selected to accompany, or
rather to follow, the young citizen, soon made their way to the gates
of the palace. That part of the town was nearly deserted, and the
little square before the Cours du Prince was void and solitary, except
where, nearly in the midst, a tall, dark figure, with its arms crossed
upon its chest, stood gazing up at the building. All was quiet, and
calm, and dark, along the facade of the palace, except where, here and
there, from some of the long narrow windows, a stream of tremulous
light broke upon the night.

For several minutes the figure continued to gaze, apparently fixing
its glance earnestly upon one part of the building. But at length
perceiving the number of soldiers collecting before the gate, Albert
Maurice--for he it was, who had outwalked his followers--advanced, and
after speaking a few words to Matthew Gournay, demanded admission from
the warder of the fortified gate. He gave his name and station, and
urged business of importance as an excuse for the lateness of his
visit. The warder replied in a tone of humble deference, which
circumstances had compelled the proud soldiers of Burgundy to learn in
speaking to the once contemned burghers of Ghent, telling him that he
would willingly admit him, but that, as his orders had been very
strict for the last week, he must detain him at the gate while he
caused the princess to be informed of the fact.

Albert Maurice made no objection, and remained, musing with a downcast
countenance, across which the shadows of many emotions were passing,
that he would not willingly have shown to the eye of open day. As calm
and tranquil as a summer's morning, he had sat his horse in the midst
of battle and conflict. Calmly, too, he had remained beside the man
who was mixing a cup of poison for his lip, and preparing the dagger
if the cup should fail. But now every nerve thrilled, and his heart
beat like a coward's, though he was but to meet a fair and gentle
girl, whose fate might almost be said to rest in his own hands. He had
hoped, and he had dreamt, through many a long day; and various
circumstances had combined to give those hopes and dreams a tangible
foundation and a definite form. But now that the moment approached
when they were to be realized or destroyed for ever, they faded all
away into fears and anxieties.

The warder returned and bowed low, while the gates were thrown open.
The soldiers within the court did military honours to the President of
Ghent; and, assuming a firmer step and a prouder air, Albert Maurice
passed on within the precincts of the palace, followed by the train
who had met him according to his appointment. At the entrance-hall his
followers paused; and he himself, ushered forward by one of the
domestic attendants of the princess, ascended the steps towards a
smaller chamber, adjoining the great hall of audience.

In the ante-room he cast off his hat and cloak, and remained in the
rich dress in which he had descended to the banquet in the town-house;
and as he passed on towards the door which the servant threw open, his
eye fell upon a Venetian mirror, and perhaps he gained another ray of
hope, from feeling that, in appearance as well as mind, he was not
unfitted to move through those lordly halls, in the high station for
which his ambition strove.

The chamber that he entered was but dimly lighted; and it was evident
that the preparations for receiving him there had only been made upon
the sudden announcement of his arrival. His eye, however, instantly
rested upon Mary of Burgundy, as she sat surrounded by a number of her
women; and the sweet smile with which she welcomed him so thrilled
through his heart, that he felt the resolution which had brought him
thither shaken, lest, by seeking for deeper happiness, he should lose
even the joy of that sweet smile itself.

"Welcome, my lord," she said, "most welcome back again to Ghent. For
though we had great joy from your victories and successes, the first
that have ever yet blessed our cause, yet we have much needed your
presence in the city."

"I hope, lady," replied the young citizen, with a tone of deep
interest in all that concerned her immediate happiness, "I hope that
you have suffered no personal annoyance; for, believe me, before I
went, I took every means to guard you from the importunity of the Duke
of Gueldres, or the intrusion of any one else."

"From the Duke of Gueldres," replied Mary, "who, I hear, unhappy man,
has fallen in some of the late conflicts, I have, indeed, suffered
nothing; nor have I truly to complain of any one else. Though my good
cousin of Cleves does, perhaps, press me somewhat unkindly to a union,
which is little less fearful in my eyes than the other. Doubtless, he
deems it for my good, and strong are the reasons he urges; but having
taken on myself to decide, and having told him that decision, I would
fain be spared all further discussion."

The cheek of Albert Maurice reddened with anger; and he answered
hastily, "Fear not, dear lady; his importunities shall not press upon
your Grace much longer. The city of Ghent and the states of Flanders
have this night armed me, thank God! with sufficient power to

Albert Maurice paused and hesitated; for the bold and ambitious words
that had been just springing to his lips, he felt must not be rashly
uttered in the ear of one whose love was to be gained and fixed, and
whose hand, although it was the crowning object of all his ambition,
though it was the motive for every energy and endeavour of his bosom,
would at once become vain and valueless, if unaccompanied by her
heart. He paused, and then continued, "have armed me with sufficient
power, at once to guide the state, I trust, to permanent security and
peace; and to sweep away from your domestic life every pain, anxiety,
and fear."

The last words were spoken low and slowly; and as he pronounced them,
he dropped his eyes to the ground; while the warm conscious blood rose
up into his cheeks, and spoke far more than his lips. The words he
uttered, it is true, had no very definite meaning, and might be taken
up in a very general sense; but the tone, the manner, the hesitation,
the flushing of the cheek, the timid glance of the eye, gave emphasis
and purpose to the whole. For the first time, a suspicion of what was
passing in his bosom flashed across the mind of Mary of Burgundy, and
inspired her, for the moment, with a feeling of terror which
approached very nearly to despair. She turned deadly pale, and
trembled violently, as, with rapid thought, she ran over the
circumstances of her situation, and found how helpless she was, if
that suspicion were well founded. It was but for an instant, however,
that she gave way to apprehension. From the first, she had appreciated
the general character of Albert Maurice, especially its finer points,
by a sort of instinctive comparison with her own. She knew that he was
generous, high-spirited, noble-minded; and, though she might now find
that her estimate of his ambition had been far below that which it
should have been, yet she trusted to the better parts of his
disposition to deliver her from the consequences of the worse. She
knew that she was in his power. She felt that his will was law, in all
the country that surrounded her; and that, if he chose, he could blast
her hopes and happiness for ever. But, at the same time, she felt
there was some resource, though the only one, in the native generosity
of his heart; and she determined to appeal to it boldly as her sole
refuge from despair. It is true that a union with Albert Maurice,
whose splendid qualities she could not but acknowledge, might, were
such feelings susceptible of any very marked shades of difference, and
had it been possible for her to dream for one moment of such a union,
might have been less repugnant to her, than the marriages which had
been proposed with the drivelling boy of France, with the coarse and
brutal son of the Duke of Cleves, or with the cruel and unnatural Duke
of Gueldres. But still, the simple fact existed, she loved another
with all the deep sincerity of a woman's first affection, and the very
thought of any other alliance was abhorrent to every feeling of her

Nothing could have balanced those feelings in her bosom, but her
strong sense of duty to the nation she was called upon to govern and
protect. She could, indeed, and would, have sacrificed everything for
her country and her people; but that people themselves had rejected
the only alliance that could have benefited them; and, in the present
instance, no such object could have been gained by her marriage with
the President of Ghent, as that which the French alliance might have
accomplished, even could she have entertained the thought of bestowing
the hand of the heiress of Burgundy on an adventurous and aspiring
citizen, a thought from which all Mary's feelings revolted, not the
less strongly for the natural gentleness of her character. Had time
for reflection been added, the discovery or the suspicion of his love
might have afforded a key to all the conduct of the young citizen,
and, by showing to what deeds his passion had already betrayed him,
might have increased a thousand-fold the terror of the unhappy
princess; but, luckily, the consideration of her own situation, and of
the means of averting the consequences she dreaded, engrossed her
wholly, and thus guarded her from worse apprehensions.

The first effect of his speech, and of the sudden conviction which his
manner, more than his words, produced, was, as we said, to turn her
deadly pale; and while a thousand new anxieties and painful
considerations crossed her mind, she remained gazing on him so long,
in silence, that she felt he must see that he was understood. The
silence of her own embarrassment then becoming painful to her, as well
as to him, the blood rushed up into her face, and yet she could not
reply; so that both remained completely mute for several moments,
after words had been spoken, which, to the by-standers, seemed
perfectly simple.

At length she answered--"Oh! Sir President, if such power has been
granted to you by the states, use it nobly, and Heaven will bless

"As far, lady, as my poor judgment can extend, I will use it nobly,"
replied Albert Maurice, over whose heart an icy chill had come, he
knew not well why. "But," he added, "as I would fain use it for your
happiness--believing it to be inseparable from that of the people--let
me crave a few words with you in private, that I may ascertain more
fully how that happiness may be best consulted."

He spoke slowly and calmly; but, from the quivering of his lip, it was
evident that each word cost him a painful struggle to pronounce. On
the other hand, Mary was herself embarrassed by his request, which was
not a little contrary to the etiquette of her situation; and yet he
who requested, she knew, might command; and she felt that, perhaps, it
might be better for both that they should be alone.

After a moment's pause, then, she gave the necessary order for her
attendants to withdraw into the ante-chamber, and then resumed her
seat. Albert Maurice stood beside her, with his eyes still bent upon
the ground; and for a moment, after the suite had quitted the chamber,
he remained silent, striving to master all the emotions which were
agitating his heart. It was a painful struggle, but at length he
succeeded; and then raising his head with some degree of proud
consciousness in his aspect, he looked calmly on the princess.

"Madam," he said, in a firmer voice than he had hitherto commanded,
"your general welfare, and that of your people, is undoubtedly one
great, and ought to be one paramount, object with me in all I strive
for; but, at the same time, believe me--oh, believe me! that your
individual happiness is no less a deep and overpowering consideration
in my mind. Lady, I know, and feel painfully, that the great
difference of rank and station between us, may prevent you from
conceiving fully how dear your interests are to me. Nay, turn not
pale, madam!" he added, with watchful and somewhat irritable pride,
softened by deep and sincere affection--"Nay, turn not pale! No word
shall you hear from my lips, that may offend your ear or wound
your heart. Lady, the ambitious, misproud citizen may have as
elevated, perhaps more devoted, ideas of true affection, than the
noble, whose pride and arrogance are his right of birth; and may be
able to crush his own heart, to sacrifice more than life--hope,
blessed hope itself, to serve the being that he loves. And do you
weep?" he continued, seeing the tears roll rapidly over the fair cheek
of Mary of Burgundy. "And do you weep? Then I have said too much. Yet,
hear me a little. I see you agitated, far more agitated than anything
which has passed hitherto should have occasioned, unless the words we
have spoken, whose import seems but small, may have touched some fine
strung cord within your heart, and made sadder music than I dreamed
of. However, in this land of Flanders I have now no small power, which
may last God knows how long. But fear not that the power I do possess
will ever be used to thwart one wish of your heart. Whatever it may
cost me, it shall be employed to serve you with deep and true
attachment. There is," he added, his emotion almost mastering his
calmness; "there is one question I would ask, which is hard to put,
and may be painful to answer. Yet, let me speak it quickly and
briefly, lest I should fail."

He paused for a moment, and looked down; while his hand became
clenched fearfully tight, as if in the struggle to suppress some deep
feelings that would fain have burst forth, but, after a single moment,
all was again vanquished, and he proceeded:--"Some months have now
passed since your father's eyes were closed in death; your dominions
are invaded, your people are distracted by different parties, and your
nobles are leaguing together to snatch one from another the blessing
of your hand. It is time, lady, that you should make a choice; and
although I know no one, on all the earth, that is worthy of the
happiness within your gift, yet, if there be any one to whom you can
give your heart, I will--I will--Yes!" he added, more firmly, "I will
do all that mortal man can do, to render you happy in your love!" He
paused; and although an indefinable something in the conduct and
demeanour of Mary of Burgundy through that night, had already
shown him that one half of his dreams were dreams indeed; yet
hope--persevering hope--lingered still, and whispered, "If she love
none else, she may still be mine."

Mary of Burgundy's conduct was already determined; but nevertheless
she trembled in every limb; and long, long was it, ere she could
reply. At length she answered--"You have, indeed, put to me a
question, which makes me feel most painfully how different is the
station of princes from the happy and modest retirement of private
life. Nay, do not think I blame you, sir; I blame but my hard fate.
You are most kind; and, amidst a base and interested crowd, who would
fain make me the slave of their wild ambitions, I shall ever remember
you with gratitude, as the only one--who--with more power than all the
rest to command my fate, was willing to cast self away, and--and to
seek my happiness alone. Feeling thus; believing from my heart that in
your generous nature I may perfectly rely, I answer your question as
distinctly as it is put. There is, I believe, but one man to whom I
can conscientiously give my hand. 'Tis now near two years ago, that,
by my father's command, I plighted my faith in writing, and pledged
thereto a ring, to one, whom I had been taught, during some months of
happy intimacy, to look upon as my future lord--Maximilian, Archduke
of Austria--"

"And you love him! and you love him!" cried Albert Maurice, starting
forward, and, forgetful of all restraint, grasping her firmly by the
wrist. The princess started up alarmed, and a cry of terror at his
sudden vehemence, had nearly passed her lips. But she stifled it ere
it was uttered; and the next moment Albert Maurice had recovered
himself, and was kneeling at her feet.

"Pardon me! pardon me, princess of Burgundy!" he said. "Give me, oh,
give me your forgiveness! The dream is gone, the vision is over, and
Albert Maurice, the humblest of your subjects, is ready to pour out
his blood, to atone for all that he has done amiss. Madam," he added,
rising, "I have been living in a dream; and, I fear me, when I come to
look upon it steadily, I shall find it a sad one. But no more of that:
at present I am, if that be not a dream also, President of the states
general of Flanders, and armed with greater power than any other man
in the land. What can I do to sweep all obstacles from before your
wishes? Tell me quickly how I can serve you. Let me at least work out
your happiness, before the memory of the past turn my brain."

"Oh, speak not so wildly, sir!" cried Mary. "You have great powers and
noble energies, which will guide you to the height of fame; and yet, I
trust, to the height of happiness. Indeed, sir, I cannot speak
farther, while you seem so moved."

"Madam, I am perfectly calm," replied Albert Maurice. "Those energies
and those powers your Grace is pleased to speak of, may last a longer
or a shorter time, according to God's will; and I am most anxious to
wipe out any offence I have committed, by employing them vigorously in
your service. Let me beseech you to speak. Shall I send off immediate
messengers to the Archduke?"

"No, no! Oh, no!" cried Mary; "I fear too much has been done already
in that course, by my kind step-dame, the Duchess Margaret, and my
good cousin of Ravestein; for I hear--for I hear--that the Archduke is
already on his way to Brussels."

"Ha!" cried Albert Maurice; "ha!" but he said no more, and the
princess proceeded.

"Yet, sir," she said, "I have many fears; for I know that the Duke of
Cleves has not only sent forth messengers to forbid his approach, but
also I learn from my dear foster-sister, Alice of Imbercourt, who is
now with the good Lord of Hannut, that a hundred men, bearing the
colours of the house of Cleves, have passed through Brussels; and,
there is reason to believe, they waylay the road from the Rhine."

"Indeed! This must be seen to!" said the young citizen, in the same
abstracted manner. "But your Grace was about to add----"

"Merely this, sir," replied Mary, with that calm, impressive
gentleness that is more touching than any vehemence; "that the man to
whom I believe myself plighted by every tie but the final sanction
of the church, is, I am told, on his road hither, slenderly
accompanied--for the avarice of the emperor is well known; and his son
now journeys with hardly ten attendants. He has strong enemies on the
way and I leave you to judge, sir, of the feelings that I experience."

The lip of Albert Maurice quivered; but he still retained command over
himself, and replied in a low but distinct voice, though, in every
tone, the vehement struggle he maintained to master the agony of his
heart was still apparent: "To calm those feelings, madam, shall be my
first effort; and, as I have received timely information, entertain
not the slightest apprehension of the result. I will serve you, madam,
more devotedly than I would serve myself; and the last energies that,
possibly, I may ever be able to command, shall be directed to secure
your happiness. I have now detained you long. Night wears, and time is
precious. I humbly take my leave. May Heaven bless you, madam! May
Heaven bless you! and send you happier days to shine upon your reign,
than those with which it has begun."

He bowed low, and took two or three steps towards the door, while Mary
gazed upon him with eyes in which compassion for all she saw that he
suffered, and woman's invariable sympathy with love, called up an
unwilling tear. "Stay, sir, one moment," she said at length; "it may
be the last time that ever I shall have the power to thank you, as
Duchess of Burgundy, before I resign my sovereignty with my hand to
another. Believe me, then, that as far as the gratitude of a princess
towards a subject can extend, I am grateful to you for all that you
have done in my behalf. Believe me, too, that I admire and esteem the
great qualities of your mind, and that I will, as far as in me lies,
teach my husband"--and she laid a stress upon the word--"to appreciate
your talents and your virtues, and to honour and employ them for our
common benefit. Take this jewel, I beseech you," she added, "and wear
it ever as a token of my gratitude."

"Oh! madam!" exclaimed Albert Maurice, as he advanced to receive the
diamond she proffered. He took it slowly and reverentially; but as her
hand resigned it, his feelings overpowered him, and pressing the jewel
suddenly to his heart, he exclaimed, "I will carry it to my grave!"
Then turning, without farther adieu, he threw open the door and
quitted the apartment.


Painful and terrific as had been the struggle in the bosom of Albert
Maurice, while he remained in the presence of the princess, his
feelings had been light and sunshiny, compared with those which he
experienced when he found himself alone with the deep gloom--the dull,
immovable despair, which at once took possession of his heart, the
moment that thought had an opportunity to rest upon his own situation.
We have before seen that remorse was already busy in his bosom; and
the only shield that guarded him from the lash of his own reflections,
had been the bright surpassing hope of overcoming all the mighty
obstacles before him, and winning her he loved. But now he had
triumphed over every enemy--he had overleaped every barrier--he had
set his foot upon every obstacle, and, in the end, discovered that she
loved another--that all was useless he had done--that the blood he had
shed, had been shed in vain--that he had forgotten his country and her
rights--that he had forgotten justice and humanity--that he had
yielded himself entirely to ambition, and consigned himself to remorse
for ever--for a dream that was gone. Nor was this all; the same deep,
fiery, passionate love remained in his heart, but was now doomed,
instead of the bright follower of hope, to become the sad companion of
remorse and despair. When he thought of the future--when she should
become the bride of another--he felt his brain reel under the agony of
that contemplation. When he thought of the past, he felt that the
gnawing worm was for ever destined to prey upon his heart. There was
no refuge for him in all time, to which he could fly for relief. The
gone hours were full of reproach, and the approaching ones were all

Such were his feelings as he strode along the passages of the palace
at Ghent; and the incoherent words that he muttered to himself, as he
proceeded, showed how terrible had been their effect already upon his
bright and powerful mind. "They have been murdered in vain," he
muttered--"they have been murdered in vain. Their blood cries up to
heaven against me. To see her in the arms of another--oh God! oh God!
But she shall be happy. Yes, she shall be happy. I will provide for
his safety, as a brother, and she shall be happy; and I?--and I? Why,
there is the grave--that is one resource, at least!" and suddenly he
burst into a low, involuntary laugh, which made him start even as it
rang upon his own ear. "Am I insane?" he thought; "then I must be
speedy, lest the power fail me." And again muttering disjointed
sentences, he proceeded down the great staircase, and was passing
through the entrance-hall, without noticing any one, when Matthew
Gournay advanced to his side and stopped him.

"There is no time to be lost, sir," he said; "let us hasten quick."

"Who are you?" demanded Albert Maurice, gazing vacantly upon him. "Oh,
yes! I had forgot," he added, recalling his thoughts. "Other things
were pressing on my mind. We will go presently, but I must first
return to the town-house; and yet that square--I love not to pass that
square, where they were beheaded."

"You have no time, sir," replied the old soldier, in a tone which
again recalled Albert Maurice to the present moment. "As I sat here
but now, that evil Prevot--that Maillotin du Bac--passed through the
hall, with several others, speaking eagerly of you. His eye fell upon
me, and he may chance to know me well. At all events, he was silent
instantly; but, if I am not very wrong indeed, he has taken his way
towards the prison, where my young lord lies; and, perchance, if we be
not quick, we may come too late."

"You speak true; lead on!" cried Albert Maurice, roused to the
exertion of all his powers by the sudden call upon his energy. "You,
young man, run as for your life to the town-house! Bid the commander
of the burgher guard march a hundred men instantly down to the
Prevot's prison, near the gates. But who have we here?" he added, as a
man in breathless haste ran up the steps into the hall. "The
lieutenant of the Prevot, as I live! How now, sir! whom seek you?"

"You, Sir President," replied the man, at once. "You once saved me
when I was in imminent peril; and I now think that the news I
bring may be valuable to you. The prisoner who was made in the
market-place--the Vert Gallant of Hannut--men say you owe him
something, and would fain repay it. But, if you hasten not your steps,
you will come too late. I have done what I can to delay the Prevot,
but he is now speeding on to the prison. His purpose is against the
life of the prisoner; and his horses are ready to fly from Ghent for

"Enough, enough!" said Albert Maurice, passing him suddenly, and
springing down the steps of the palace. The active exertion of his
corporeal powers seemed to give back to Albert Maurice full command of
his mental ones, at least for the time; and though his thoughts were
characterized by the darkest and sternest despair, they wandered not
from those points to which he strove to bend them, and he seemed
revolving eagerly some plan of future conduct. "Yes," he said, half
aloud, as he strode on, "yes! so shall it be! If I am in time, he
shall conduct the rest; and, ere all be finished, the world may know
that there were some drops of Roman blood even within this bosom."

Almost as he spoke he turned the corner of a street, which led
directly towards the Alost gate. Fifty yards farther stood a small
stone building, known as the Prevot's prison, in which he lodged any
newly-arrested prisoners, previous either to their immediate execution
or to their removal to some other place of confinement. The street was
all dark, and likewise solitary, except where--the upper stories, as
was often customary in Ghent, protruded considerably beyond the lower
ones--stood four or five men, holding saddled horses, and conversing
together in a low tone.

The impatient stamping of their steeds had prevented them from
catching the approaching steps of Albert Maurice and his party; and
one was saying to the other, at the very moment they came up, in a
tone sufficiently loud for his words to be distinguished--"He is very
long! I never knew him so long about such a job before!"

"Let them be seized!" exclaimed Albert Maurice, the instant his eye
fell upon them; "the rest follow me;" and without waiting to notice
the short scuffle that ensued, he sprang on towards the Prevot's
prison, and pushed against the door. It was locked, and the key on the
inner side, so that his effort to open it was vain.

"Fly to the gate!" he exclaimed, turning to one of his followers;
"bring me a battle-axe from the guard-house. Ho! within there!" he
added, striking the hilt of his sword violently against the door.
"Open the door! beware what you do; you cannot escape me; and you
shall find my vengeance terrible. Open the door, I say!"

But he spoke in vain; no answer was returned; and the only sound that
he even thought he heard was that of a low groan. After a few moments
of painful expectation, the man who had been sent to the gate
returned, bearing a ponderous axe, and followed by two or three of the
soldiers of the guard. Albert Maurice snatched the weapon from his
hands, and in three blows dashed in a large part of the door. The rest
was soon hewn down, at least sufficiently to admit the passage of the
young burgher and his followers. Entering the small stone hall into
which it opened, he caught up a light that had evidently been burning
some time untrimmed, and commanding two or three of those who
accompanied him to guard the door, he strode forward rapidly to the
mouth of a narrow flight of steps, which led to some cells below the
ground. At the entrance of one of these dungeons a lantern had been
placed upon the ground, and was still burning; and Albert Maurice
immediately perceived that the door was not completely closed. He
instantly pushed it open, and held up the light, when the sight that
presented itself to his eyes was horrible indeed, but not ungrateful.

Seated upon the side of the straw pallet, which had been his only
couch since he had been removed from the town-house, appeared Hugh de
Mortmar, as we have previously called him, with his right foot pressed
heavily upon the body of a man, who, from his dress and appearance,
seemed to be one of the jailers in the employ of the Prevot. A little
to the right, surrounded by a pool of blood, a stream of which was
still flowing from his throat--lay the form of Maillotin du Bac, while
the poniard, which, it may be remembered, Albert Maurice had bestowed
upon Hugh de Mortmar in the prison of the town-house, now driven
tightly in between the gorget plaits and cuirass of the Prevot's
armour, showed at once the manner of his death and the arm which had
inflicted it.

The young prisoner held in his hand the sword of the dead man, and
gazed upon those who entered with a firm and resolute countenance,
while he held down beneath his feet the form of the jailer, who was
clearly alive, and seemingly uninjured, except from a ghastly
contusion on his forehead. The moment that he beheld who were the new
comers, Hugh de Mortmar started up; and a few hurried words explained
the precise situation in which they all stood. The sight of Albert
Maurice and of good old Matthew Gournay was enough to satisfy the
young prisoner; and on his part he had only to tell them, that while
lying there a few minutes before, thinking of when his captivity might
end, he had heard approaching steps, and listened to a low
conversation at the door which he felt sure boded him no good.
Affecting to sleep, he remained perfectly quiet while the door opened,
and the Prevot, setting down his lantern on the outside, approached
towards him, accompanied by the jailer who had the care of the prison.
Their eyes, however, were not so much accustomed to the darkness as
his own; and, seeing evidently that the design of the Prevot was to
despatch him, he watched his moment, till the other was stooping over
him, and then drove the dagger with which he had been furnished, with
the full force of recovered health and strength, under the gorget of
the murderer. So hard had he stricken it, however, between the iron
plates, that he could not draw it forth again, and he had nothing to
trust to but his own corporeal strength in the struggle which
succeeded with the jailer. The hard food and the constrained repose to
which he had been subjected in the prison, had perhaps contributed to
restore him to full vigour in a shorter time than might otherwise have
been required for recovering his health; and the jailer, overmatched,
had just been cast headlong to the ground when Albert Maurice forced
his way into the place of the young noble's confinement.

In the energy of action Albert Maurice had, for the time, found relief
from a part of the heavy load that passion and circumstances had piled
upon his head; but the moment the necessity of active exertion passed
away, the weight returned and crushed him to the earth. He spoke for
an instant to the prisoner collectedly and calmly, but gradually his
brow grew dark and clouded; and his words became low, harsh, and
confined to those necessary to express his wishes or commands. The
jailer, freed from the tread of Hugh de Mortmar, was placed in the
custody of some of those who had now crowded to the spot; and the
President, after giving general orders to the burgher guard, which
came up, and a few whispered directions to Matthew Gournay, took
the prisoner by the hand, saying, "Come, my lord; let us to the

The change which had come over the whole demeanour of the young
citizen since last he had seen him, was too great to escape the eyes
of Hugh de Mortmar, even at a moment when the excitement of a late
struggle was fresh upon him. Nor did he exactly understand how the
young President dared to take the bold step of setting him free at
once, when he had before seemed most anxious to proceed with
scrupulous caution. He made no observation, however, and followed
Albert Maurice into the street. By this time, almost all the
respectable citizens of Ghent were in their quiet beds; but a number
of those who had been entertained in the market-place were still
wandering about; some partially inebriated with ale or mead; some half
drunk with excitement and pleasure. A number of these had gathered
together amongst the guards and attendants, now collected round the
door of the prison; and as Albert Maurice led forth his companion, and
the flickering glare of a number of lanterns and torches showed the
features of the President to the crowd, he was greeted by loud
acclamations. But the smile of bitterness and scorn with which Albert
Maurice now heard the vivats of the multitude, contrasted strongly
with his demeanour in the morning, and showed how completely the
talismanic touch of disappointment had changed to his eyes all the
fairy splendours of his fate.

Without a word of reply, he passed through the midst of the crowd,
sought the narrowest and darkest way; and, apparently buried in sad
thoughts, proceeded with a quick and irregular step towards the
town-house, maintaining a gloomy and unbroken silence as he went. He
avoided the market-place before the building as much as possible; and
the only words he spoke, were uttered when he could not avoid seeing
the spot where Imbercourt and Hugonet had died, and which was now
covered with people, busily removing the traces of the evening's
festivity. "It is sad," he said, with a mournful shake of the head;
"it is sad!" Then turning into the town-house, he ascended the stairs
rapidly, and entered a small withdrawing room by the side of the great

To that very chamber it so happened that the body of Ganay had been
removed, after the sword of Matthew Gournay had left him lifeless on
the pavement; and the first object that met the eye of Albert Maurice
was the corpse stretched upon a table, while one of his own attendants
stood near, as if he had been examining the appearance of the dead
man. The immediate impulse of the President was to draw back, but the
next was the very contrary; and, again advancing, he approached
directly to the table, and fixed his eyes upon the face of the corpse,
which was uncovered. "He sleeps calm enough!" he said, drawing in his
lips, and turning partially to Hugh de Mortmar. "He sleeps calm
enough, with all his burning passions at an end. But this is no place
for what we have to say." He was then treading back his steps towards
the door, when the attendant advanced, and gave him a packet of papers
and a small silver box, saying, "These old papers, sir, and this box,
which we conceive to contain poison, are all that we have discovered
on the dead body."

"Ha! will the means of death lie in so small a space?" said Albert
Maurice, gazing on the little silver case; "but 'tis well! Bring hence
the lights, leave the body, and lock the door. He will not find
solitude oppressive, I doubt not;" and thus saying, he led the way
into another chamber, to which the servant followed with the key and
lights; and the President added, as they were set down before him,
"Bring wine!"

When the man was gone, and he was seated with the young cavalier, he
leaned his brow upon his hand for a moment, and then looked up, "Give
me your pardon, sir," he said; "give me your pardon for a short space.
I am somewhat ill to-night, and must collect my thoughts, before I can
speak to you as I ought."

Hugh de Mortmar bowed his head; and wine being brought in a few
minutes, Albert Maurice filled for both, and drained his own cup to
the dregs. "I have a burning thirst upon me," he said, "but it will
soon be quenched. Now, sir, I can speak. You have recovered, I trust,
your full strength; and this night--that is to say, ere dawn--can ride
forth away from the thraldom of this place?"

"As well as ere I rode in life," replied Hugh de Mortmar, "and thank
you deeply for your kind intentions."

"Thank not me," replied Albert Maurice, gravely, "for I am about, like
a true citizen," he added, with a bitter smile, "for I am about to
drive a hard bargain with you; and to make you agree to do me a
service in return--not for giving you your liberty, for you did the
like to me--but for some intelligence I have to communicate, which may
be worth its weight in gold. Of that hereafter. First, let us speak of
the service I require. You have at this moment, within the walls of
the city, where I have given them employment during this evening, some
three or four hundred free companions--good soldiers, levied for
purposes I know and respect. In an hour's time they will be mounted,
and at the Alost gate, from which we have just come. You shall have
arms that might grace a prince, a horse as noble as ever was bestrode
by knight; and what I require is this--that, all other matter laid
aside, you ride forward towards Brussels, and thence onward, on
whatever road you may find necessary--as you will there discover from
the Lord of Ravestein, or the Duchess Dowager--in order to meet
Maximilian, Archduke of Austria."

"What! my best friend and old companion in arms!" cried Hugh de
Mortmar. "No evil against him, Sir President! for know, I would sooner
bear to my grave the heaviest chains that ever shackled man, than
raise an arm against one I love so well."

"Fear not, my lord!" replied Albert Maurice. "For his safety, not for
his injury, would I have you set out. Tell him from me, Albert
Maurice, that his way is beset; tell him that every artifice will be
used to make him turn back, by fair means or by foul. But bid him
hasten forward, in spite of all; and you, on your part, promise me,
never to quit him till you see him safely within the gates of the
duke's house in Ghent."

"Willingly! most willingly!" replied the young cavalier, rising. "I am
ready to set out!"

"What, without the tidings I have promised?" demanded Albert Maurice.

"Some other time!" replied Hugh de Mortmar. "When I return will do."

"The present moment is yours," answered the young citizen, gravely.
"Who can say that, by the time you return, these lips may not be
closed by a seal that no human hand can ever remove!"

"I trust not," replied the other; "I trust not; but if what you have
to tell be really of importance, let me beseech you to speak it

"I will," replied Albert Maurice. "I have no right, nor any wish, to
keep you in suspense. Are you aware that Adolphus, Duke of Gueldres,
is dead?"

"Good God!" exclaimed the young cavalier. "They told me that he was
quite well, and leading the forces of Ghent against Tournay. You have,
indeed, ended my suspense somewhat abruptly."

"There is still more to come," said Albert Maurice, with a sort of
reckless harshness, which was no part of his natural character; but
which probably arose from the apathetic callousness of despair. "As
you knew not that he was dead, you know not that this arm slew him."

"Ha!" cried the other, instinctively laying his hand upon his side, as
if to grasp the hilt of his sword. "You--you! Did you shed my father's
blood? Then, take heed to yourself. Call again for your jailers! Cast
me back into the dungeon; for otherwise your blood must answer for
that which you have spilt."

"Such threats," answered Albert Maurice, "are worse than vain, to one
who loves life too little to care who takes it from him. Besides, they
are prompted by a mere dream of the imagination, which I can dissolve
by two or three words. You had never seen the Duke of Gueldres from
your childhood; no sweet reciprocations of domestic love had bound
your heart to his; you knew that he was vicious, criminal, unfeeling.
Nay, frown not, sir, but hear me. You know all this; and yet, because
you believe him to have been your father, you would slay any one that
raised a hand against him."

Doubtless, there is inherent in human misery a desire of seeing others
wretched when we are wretched ourselves; and the sort of painful
playing with the feelings of the young cavalier, in which Albert
Maurice indulged at a moment when he himself was plunged in the
gloomiest despair, probably arose from some such cause. His own
griefs, however, were too great to suffer his mind to dwell long upon
anything without weariness; and he tired almost instantly of the

"Too much of this!" he added, in the same abrupt tone. "Be your
feelings on those points rational or not, no tie, human or divine,
binds you to love or to avenge Adolphus, the bad Duke of Gueldres.
Know, that at his instigation the man, whose corpse you saw but now,
kindled the flames of Lindenmar, in which the infant heir of Hannut
was supposed to have perished; and farther know, that in the act of
death, the Duke of Gueldres confessed to me, that he himself carried
away the infant, and reared him as his son upon the death of his own
child. You are that boy; but you will want other proofs to establish
the facts--there they are, in writing; and probably these papers which
you saw me receive but now, may throw some farther light upon the
matter. We have neither of us time to examine them more particularly
at present. Take them with you, and claim your right of birth. Now
follow me to the armory, for I hear your band passing onward towards
the Alost gate to wait your coming. Are you strong enough to go?"

The young cavalier gazed for a moment in his face, bewildered by all
he heard; but then replied, "I am ready! quite ready! For these papers
I owe you a thousand thanks; but the tidings you have given confound
me, and I have not words--"

"No more! no more!" replied Albert Maurice. "Here is our way." The
young citizen now led his companion forward to the armory, which had
been collected in the town-house, under his own care. As they went,
the liberated prisoner would fain have asked a thousand questions
explanatory of the strange tidings he had just received; but the
answers of Albert Maurice were brief, and somewhat sharp. Referring
him entirely to the papers that he had received, the young citizen
strode onward, and saw the Vert Gallant of Hannut equip himself once
more in a complete suit of arms. There was a degree of joy in the
countenance of the young heir of Hannut as he did so--a sort of new
lighting up of that military hope which was the great inspiration of
the day--that called a melancholy smile even to the lip of Albert
Maurice; and he gazed upon him, as with quick and dexterous hands he
clothed his powerful limbs in steel, as an old man on the verge of the
tomb might be supposed to regard a youth setting out upon the flowery
path of life, full of all those bright aspirations that had passed
away from himself for ever. When it was all done; "Your horse," said
the young citizen, "stands below; but yet one moment. A pass must be
written for yourself and the Archduke. Follow me once more."

In the next chamber were implements for writing; and, with a rapid
hand, Albert Maurice traced the necessary order, destined to remove
all petty obstacles from the path of his princely rival, signed his
name below in a bold, free hand, and gave it to his companion with a
proud, but bitter smile.

"There," he said; "take it, and go forth! and may God speed you on
your errand! Forgive me if I have sported with your feelings this
night, which may be I have done in some degree, but there is a potent
demon in my heart just now, that strives hard to crush each noble wish
and kindly feeling, ere they can rise. Now, farewell!"

"Farewell! farewell!" replied Hugh of Hannut. "I may, perhaps, want
more information than these papers contain. But we shall meet again!"

"Perhaps we may," replied Albert Maurice, as the other turned, and
descended the steps. "Perhaps we may," he repeated, as, after a
moment's pause, he heard the trampling of horse, announcing that the
other had departed--"perhaps we may, in the grave, or, rather, beyond

The young President then returned to the chamber in which he had been
sitting, and continued for about an hour engaged in writing. When he
had concluded, he buried his eyes in his hands for a few moments, and
remained plunged in deep thought. Rousing himself, he raised a lamp,
and striding across the passages to the room where the corpse of Ganay
the druggist lay, he threw open the door, and gazed upon the
countenance of the dead man for some time.

Without a word, he then walked back to the chamber where he had been
writing; and drawing forth the small silver box which had been given
him, poured the white powder that it contained into one of the cups,
added a little wine from the tankard, and drank off the mixture. After
which he cast himself into a chair, and closed his eyes. For several
minutes he remained in the same position, without a muscle of his face
being moved; but at length he opened his eyes, looking somewhat
fiercely round the chamber.

"This is too much!" he exclaimed aloud. "It has no effect! and I lie
here, expecting death without a chance of his approach, while the past
haunts me, and there seem voices crying up for judgment upon me, from
that accursed square. But I will soon end all!" and starting up, he
drew his dagger from the sheath; but as he did so, something in the
word judgment appeared to seize upon his imagination. "Judgment!" he
said--"judgment! Am I not flying to judgment?" and laying down the
dagger on the table, he paused, gazing round with a degree of fearful
bewilderment in his eyes, which seemed to show either that his mind
was shaken, or that some potent destroyer was mastering the body.
"Judgment!" he repeated. "Were it not better to wait till I am
summoned, to strive to wipe out the evil, and to bear the sorrows that
God has given as a punishment for all that I have done, and left
undone? Judgment!--Judgment!" But, as he repeated that awful word, his
cheek grew deathly pale; cold drops of perspiration stood upon his
forehead, his lips became nearly livid; and the rich curls of his dark
hair, as if relaxed by the overpowering weakness that seemed coming
over his whole frame, fell wild and floating upon his brow. At first,
apparently unconscious of the change that was taking place, he leaned
his hand upon the table to steady himself as he stood; but the moment
after, two or three sharp shudders passed over his whole frame; and
after reeling painfully for an instant, he cast himself back into the
chair, exclaiming, in a tone full of despair indeed, "It is too late!
it is too late!" and he threw himself to and fro in restless agony.
"This is vain!" he cried, at length, opening his eyes. "This is weak,
and empty, and cowardly! I that have lived boldly can surely die as I
have lived;" and once more resuming the attitude in which he had
placed himself at first, he clasped his hand tight over his eyes, as
if to exclude a painful sense of the light. In a moment or two, the
hand dropped; but his eyes remained closed; and after a time, the
exhausted lamps, which had now been burning many hours, went out, and
all was darkness!


The rumour which had given to the heart of Mary of Burgundy the glad
hope that Maximilian of Austria was already within her territories,
had deceived her; and Hugh of Hannut, on arriving at Brussels, found
that his princely companion-in-arms was still far from that city. True
to the promise he had given, however--though all his own feelings
would have conducted him at once to the forest of Hannut, wherein he
had led a life of such adventure and interest, and to the mansion
where her he loved now dwelt, and in which his happiest days had been
passed--he advanced directly towards Cologne; and not far on the
hither side of the Rhine, met the small party which accompanied the
son of the Emperor. It were as tedious as an old chronicle to tell the
joy of Maximilian at the coming of his friend, or to detail all the
efforts that were made by the Duke of Cleves to deter or prevent the
Archduke from pursuing his journey towards Ghent. The private
information he had received, and the armed force which now accompanied
him on his way, rendered all efforts either to alarm or impede him
vain; and the rapid progress made by the French arms had so convinced
the people of Flanders that a single leader, whose fortunes were
linked for ever to that of the princess of Burgundy, was absolutely
necessary to give vigour and direction to their efforts, that all
attempts to stir them up to oppose the alliance with the Austrian
prince would have been fruitless under any circumstances.

One event, however, had happened in the meantime, which completely
cooled throughout Flanders that ardour for innovation, and that desire
of democratic rule, which is one of the evils consequent upon every
struggle for increased liberty, whether just or unjust--the wild spray
which the waves of freedom cast beyond their legitimate bound. The
morning after the return of Albert Maurice to Ghent, some of his
attendants, finding the door of his bedchamber open, entered, and
discovered that he had never been in bed; and the alarm spreading, he
was soon after found, seated in the chair in which he had been
writing, cold, stiff, and dead.

Of the letters which were cast upon the table before him, one was
addressed to the princess, and one to his uncle; and both distinctly
alluded to his intention of destroying himself. Left suddenly without
a leader, pressed by a powerful enemy, and encumbered with the
management of a state, all the springs and wheels of which they
themselves had disarranged, the people of Ghent began to ask
themselves what they had gained by pressing exaction and discontent
beyond the mere recovery of their rights and privileges. The simplest
amongst them saw that they had gained nothing and lost much; and the
more clear-sighted discovered, that in carrying their efforts beyond
the straightforward object which they had proposed at first, they had
only made the government of the state an object of contention to bold
and ambitious party leaders--a race of men who, for the purpose of
success, must always necessarily prolong that confusion and anarchy,
which is more baleful than the worst of tyrannies; and who, when
success is obtained, must end in tyranny to uphold their power.

The very day that the death of Albert Maurice was discovered,
intelligence arrived that the armies of France, marching on from the
side of Cassel, had burned some villages within four leagues of Ghent;
and the council of the states, confused, terrified, and surprised,
without chief, without union, and without resource, proceeded in a
body to the palace; and resigning at the feet of the princess the
authority they had usurped, demanded her orders and directions, in the
imminent peril to which the state was exposed. It was then that Mary
of Burgundy made that famous answer, which has been transmitted to us
by almost every historian who has mentioned her name; but it was in
sorrow, not in anger, that she spoke; and the tears were in her eyes,
when--after hearing the details of a ruined country, an invaded
territory, the rich harvests of Flanders reaped by strange husbandmen
while they were green, her frontier fortresses taken, and her troops
proving false--she replied to the subjects, whose turbulence and
discontent had fostered, if not caused, all the evils they
recapitulated,--"You have banished my best friends, and slain my
wisest counsellors, and now what can I do to deliver you?"

But misfortune had taught the people of Ghent their own errors, and
the excellence of her they had so basely outraged. The news that the
Archduke of Austria, the long-betrothed husband and the favoured lover
of Mary of Burgundy, was advancing with rapid steps towards Ghent,
spread as much joy through the city as if the tidings had been of some
personal good fortune to each individual citizen. The gates of Ghent
were now no longer guarded, except against the common enemy. The Duke
of Cleves quitted the city in haste; and joy and satisfaction spread
through all ranks when the cavalcade which escorted the Archduke wound
on towards the palace. It was remarked, however, that nearly
five-hundred of the horsemen who accompanied him--and those,
surpassing all the rest in military array and demeanour--were all
adorned with a green scarf, while the banner that floated over them
bore the arms of Hannut--Argent a green tree proper; and that the
knight who led this band of élite, though his beaver was now up, and
his face exposed, was clothed from head to foot in the green armour of
the Vert Gallant of Hannut.

Little more requires to be said. It is well known to every one, how
gladly Mary of Burgundy herself saw the arrival of Maximilian.

Nor did the heart of Hugh de Hannut beat less highly, when, standing
beside his princely friend, he, too, claimed his fair bride, Alice of
Imbercourt. Still, the dead were to be mourned, and many sorrows were
to be forgotten; but they were sorrows which drew the hearts of the
living closer together. A gleam of sunshine shone out at last upon the
days of the good old Lord of Hannut; and casting from him the studies
which--fanciful or real--had soothed his griefs by occupying his mind,
he passed his latter years in rejoicing over the recovery of so noble
and so dear a son.

On the nineteenth of August, 1477, Mary of Burgundy gave her hand to
Maximilian of Austria; and the rich territories, which so many princes
had coveted, and for which France had played so base and subtle a
game, passed away into another house. The years of that fair princess
herself were few; but when she gazed smiling upon her husband and her
children, she was wont to thank God that she had not looked into that
fatal book, which might have given her an insight into her future
destiny; and that in the happiness of the present she could see no ill
to be anticipated for the future. Alice of Imbercourt, soon after her
marriage, retired from the city to the dwelling of her husband's
father; and though her deep affection for Mary of Burgundy still
continued unabated, she never more made the court her abode. When, at
length, the fatal accident happened, which caused the death of her
fair foster-sister, she flew eagerly to soothe her couch of sickness;
but she never entertained, for a moment, those hopes of recovery which
all the others around indulged for several days. She it was who
prepared the mind of the archduke for the death of her he loved. She
closed her eyes, and then returned to her own dwelling, and resumed
the duties of her station.

The people of the country declared that Alice was not surprised by the
event which had occurred, being forewarned by the previous knowledge
of the future which she had obtained; and the old writers assert, most
seriously, that the horoscope of Mary of Burgundy, as it was drawn at
her birth, was fulfilled to the most minute particular. As no one,
however, saw this horoscope but Alice of Imbercourt--at least, before
the latter events of Mary's life took place--and as Alice carefully
abstained from ever mentioning the subject, it is more than probable
that the love of the marvellous, so prevalent in those days, adapted
the prediction to the facts long after they occurred.


[Footnote 1: Philip de Comines, who relates this anecdote much in the
same terms as those used by good Martin Fruse in the text, places it,
however, several years later; though, from the period of time during
which Adolphus Duke of Gueldres, here called Count Adolphus, was kept
in prison by the Duke of Burgundy, it would seem that the time of his
capture is here correctly stated.]

[Footnote 2: Although almost all the superficial books of modern date
which refer to the ancient state of Ghent, speak of these three
members of states, as the ecclesiastics, the nobles, and the commons,
the statement in the text is correct, which may be ascertained by
referring to the Chronicles of George Chatellain, ad ann. 1467.]

[Footnote 3: She died a few years after this period, in consequence of
a fall occasioned by her horse taking fright, while out falconing.]

[Footnote 4: This fact is undoubted, and, indeed, the whole account of
the battle of Nancy here given la confirmed by Jean Molinet,
Historiographer to Mary of Burgundy. The writer of this book, however,
would have omitted this narration of events, which have been so
admirably detailed elsewhere, had it not been absolutely necessary to
his story.]

[Footnote 5: The only exception that I know, is to be found in the
French revolution of 1830.]

[Footnote 6: The proceedings of the municipal council of Ghent, even
before the assembling of the states, which it entirely commanded,
were, in many instances, much more bold and tyrannical than any that
it has seemed necessary to particularize here. Some authors assert
that it forbade Mary to transact any public business without its

[Footnote 7: When the states of Flanders assembled In Ghent, which was
generally the case, either the chief pensionary or the chief eschevin
of that city presided in the assembly a matter of right.]

[Footnote 8: The Dukes of Cleves and Gueldres were actuated, in the
present instance, by very evident motives: the one wishing to obtain
the hand of the princess (which Imbercourt and Hugonet strove to give
to France) for his nearest relation, and the other for himself. The
motive of the Bishop of Liege is supposed by historians to have been
revenge for acts of justice rendered by Imbercourt under the reign of
Charles the Bold.]

[Footnote 9: It may be necessary to inform those who are not deeply
read in the chronicles of France, that this fact is minutely


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