Anne of Geierstein, by Walter Scott

Chapter 24

    ——     I was, I must confess,

Great Albion’s Queen in former golden days;

But now mischance bath trod my title down,

And with dishonor laid me on the ground;

Where I must take like seat unto my fortune,

And to my humble seat conform myself.

Henry IV. Part III.

The hostelry of the Flying Stag, in Strassburg, was, like every inn in the empire at that period, conducted with much the same discourteous inattention to the wants and accommodation of the guests, as that of John Mengs. But the youth and good looks of Arthur Philipson, circumstances which seldom or never fail to produce some effect where the fair are concerned, prevailed upon a short, plump, dimpled, blue-eyed, faired-skinned yungfrou, the daughter of the landlord of the Flying Stag (himself a fat old man, pinned to the oaken chair in the stube ), to carry herself to the young Englishman with a degree of condescension, which, in the privileged race to which she belonged, was little short of degradation. She not only put her light buskins and her pretty ankles in danger of being soiled by tripping across the yard to point out an unoccupied stable, but on Arthur’s inquiry after his father, condescended to recollect that such a guest as he described had lodged in the house last night, and had said he expected to meet there a young person, his fellow-traveller.

“I will send him out to you, fair sir,” said the little yungfrou, with a smile, which, if things of the kind are to be valued by their rare occurrence, must have been reckoned inestimable. She was as good as her word. In a few instants the elder Philipson entered the stable, and folded his son in his arms.

“My son — my dear son!” said the Englishman, his usual stoicism broken down and melted by natural feeling and pa rental tenderness, — “Welcome to me at all times — welcome, in a period of doubt and danger — and most welcome of all, in a moment which forms the very crisis of our fate. In a few hours I shall know what we may expect from the Duke of Burgundy.

“Hast thou the token?”

Arthur’s hand first sought that which was nearest to his heart, both in the literal and allegorical sense — the small parcel, namely, which Anne had given him at parting. But he recollected himself in the instant, and presented to his father the packet, which had been so strangely lost and recovered at La Ferette.

“It hath run its own risk since you saw it,” he observed to his father, “and so have I mine. I received hospitality at a castle last night, and behold a body of lanz-knechts in the neighborhood began in the morning to mutiny for their pay. The inhabitants fled from the castle to escape their violence, and as we passed their leaguer in the gray of the morning, a drunken Baaren-hauter shot my poor horse, and I was forced, in the way of exchange, to take up with his heavy Flemish animal, with its steel saddle, and its clumsy chaffron.”

“Our road is beset with perils,” said his father. “I too have had my share, having be en in great danger “(he told not its precise nature) “at an inn, where I rested last night. But I left it in the morning, and proceeded hither in safety. I have at length, however, obtained a safe escort to conduct me to the Duke’s camp near Dijon; and I trust to have an audience of him this evening. Then, if our last hope should fail, we will seek the seaport of Marseilles, hoist sail for Candia or for Rhodes, and spend our lives in defence of Christendom, since we may no longer fight for England.”

Arthur heard these ominous words without reply; but they did not the less sink upon his heart, deadly as the doom of the judge which secludes the criminal from society and all its joys and condemns him to an eternal prison house. The bells from the cathedral began to toll at this instant, and reminded the elder Philipson of the duty of hearing mass, which was said at all hours in some one or other of the separate chapels which are contained in that magnificent pile. His son followed, on an intimation of his pleasure.

In approaching the access to this superb cathedral, the travellers found it obstructed, as is usual in Catholic countries, by the number of mendicants of both sexes, who crowded round the entrance to give the worshippers an opportunity of discharging the duty of alms-giving, so positively enjoined as a chief observance of their Church. The Englishmen extricated themselves from their importunity by bestowing, as is usual on such occasions, a donative of small coin upon those who appeared most needy, or most deserving of their charity one tall woman stood on the steps close to the door, and extended her hand to the elder Philipson, who, struck with her appearance, exchanged for a piece of silver the copper coins which he had been distributing amongst others.

“A marvel!” she said, in the English language, but in a tone calculated only to be heard by him alone, although his son also caught the sound and sense of what she said, — “Ay a miracle! — An Englishman still possesses a silver piece, and can afford to bestow it on the poor!”

Arthur was sensible that his father started somewhat at the voice or words, which bore, even in his ear, something of deeper import than the observation of an ordinary mendicant. But after a glance at the female who thus addressed him, his father passed onwards into the body of the Church, and was soon engaged in attending to the solemn ceremony of the mass, as it was performed by a priest at the altar of a chapel divided from the main body of the splendid edifice, and dedicated, as it appeared from the image over the altar, to Saint George; that military Saint, whose real history is so obscure, though his popular legend rendered him an object of peculiar veneration during the feudal ages. The ceremony was begun and finished with all customary forms. The officiating priest, with his attendants, withdrew, and though some of the few worshippers who had assisted at the solemnity remained telling their beads, and occupied with the performance of their private devotions, far the greater part left the chapel to visit other shrines, or to return to the prosecution of their secular affairs.

But Arthur Philipson remarked, that whilst they dropped off one after another, the tall woman who had received his father’s alms continued to kneel near the altar; and he was yet more surprised to see that his father himself, who, he had many reasons to know, was desirous to spend in the church no more time than the duties of devotion absolutely claimed, remained also on his knees, with his eyes resting on the form of the veiled devotee (such she seemed from her dress), as if his own motions were to be guided by hers. By no idea which occurred to him, was Arthur able to form the least Conjecture as to his father’s motives — he only knew that he was engaged in a critical and dangerous negotiation, liable to influence or interruption from various quarters; and that political suspicion was so generally awake both in France, Italy, and that the most important agents were often obliged to assume the most impenetrable diguises, in order to insinuate themselves without suspicion into the countries where their services were required. Louis XI. in particular, whose singular polidy seemed in some degree to give a character to the age in which he lived, was well known to have disguised his principal emissanes and envoys in the fictitious garbs of mendicant monks, minstrels, gypsies, and other privileged wanderers of the meanest description.

Arthur concluded, therefore, that it was not improbable that this female might, like themselves, be something more than her dress imported; and he resolved to observe his father’s deportment towards her, and regulate his own actions accordingly. A bell at last announced that mass, upon a more splendid scale, was about to be celebrated before the high altar of the cathedral itself, and its sound withdrew from the sequestered chapel of St. George the few who had remained at the shrine of the military saint, excepting the father and son, and the female penitent who kneeled opposite to them. When the last of the worshippers had retired, the female arose and advanced towards the elder Philipson, who, folding his arms on his bosom, and stooping his head, in an attitude of obeisance which his son had never before seen him assume, appeared rather to wait what she had to say, than to propose addressing her.

There was a pause. Four lamps, lighted before the shrine of the saint, cast a dim radiance on his armor and steed, represented as be was in the act of transfixing with his lance the prostrate dragon, whose outstretched wings and writhing neck were in part touched by their beams. The rest of the chapel was dimly illuminated by the autumnal sun, which could scarce find its way through the stained panes of the small lanceolated window, which was its only aperture to the open air. The light fell doubtful and gloomily, tinged with the vaflous hues through which it passed, upon the stately, yet somewhat broken and dejected form of the female, and on those of the melancholy and anxious father, and his son, who, with all the eager interest of youth, suspected and anticipated extraordinary consequences from so singular an interview.

At length the female approached to the same side of the shrine with Arthur and his father, as if to be more distinctly heard, without being obliged to raise the slow solemn voice in which she had spoken.

“Do you here worship,” she said, “the St. George of Burgundy, or the St. George of merry England, the flower of chivalry?”

“I serve,” said Philipson, folding his hands humbly on his bosom, “the saint to whom this chapel is dedicated, and the Deity with whom I hope for his holy intercession, whether here or in my native country.”

“Ay — you,” said the female, “even you can forget — you, even you, who have been numbered among the mirror of knight-hood — can forget that you have worshipped in the royal fane of Windsor — that you have there bent a gartered knee, where kings and princes kneeled around you — you can forget this, and make your orisons at a foreign shrine, with a heart undisturbed with the thoughts of what you have been praying, like some poor peasant, for bread and life during the day that passes over you.”

“Lady,” replied Philipson, “in my proudest hours, I was, before the Being to whom I preferred my prayers, but as a worm in the dust — In His eyes I am now neither less nor more, degraded as I may be in the opinion of any fellow reptiles.”

“How canst thou think thus?” said the devotee; “and yet it is well with thee that thou canst. But what have thy losses been, compared to mine!”

She put her hand to her brow, and seemed for a moment overpowered by agonizing recollections.

Arthur pressed to his father’s side, and inquired, in a tone of interest which could not be repressed, “Father, who is this lady? — Is it my mother —”

“No, my son,” answered Philipson; — “peace, for the sake of all you hold dear or holy!”

The singular female, however, heard both the question and answer, though expressed in a whisper.

“Yes,” she said, “young man — I am — I should say I was — your mother; the mother, the protectress, of all that was noble in England — I am Margaret of Anjon.”

Arthur sank on his knees before the dauntless widow of Henry the Sixth, who so long, and in such desperate circumstances, upheld by unyielding courage and deep policy the sinking cause of her feeble husband; and who, if she occasionally abused victory by cruelty and revenge, had made some atonement by the indomitable resolution with which she had supported the fiercest storms of adversity. Arthur had been bred in devoted adherence to the now dethroned line of Lancaster, of which his father was one of the most distinguished supporters; and his earliest deeds of arms, which, though unfortunate, were neither obscure nor ignoble, had been done in their cause. With an enthusiasm belonging to his age and education, he in the same instant flung his bonnet on the pavement, and knelt at the feet of his ill-fated sovereign.

Margaret threw back the veil which concealed those noble and majestic features, which even yet, — though rivers of tears had furrowed her cheeks — though care, disappointment, domestic grief, and humbled pride, had quenched the fire of her eye and wasted the smooth dignity of her forehead — even yet showed the remains of that beauty which once was held unequalled in Europe. The apathy with which a succession of misfortunes and disappointed hopes had chilled the feelings of the unfortunate Princess was for a moment incited by the sight of the fair youth’s enthusiasm. She abandoned one hand to him, which he covered with tears and kisses, and with the other stroked with maternal tenderness his curled locks, as she endeavored to raise him from the posture he had assumed. His father, in the meanwhile, shut the door of the chapel, and placed his back against it, withdrawing himself thus from the group, as if for the purpose of preventing any stranger from entering during a scene so extraordinary.

“And thou, then,” said Margaret, in a voice where female tenderness combated strangely with her natural pride of rank, and with the calm, stoical indifference induced by the intensity of her personal misfortunes; “thou, fair youth, art the last scion of the noble stem, so many fair boughs of which have fallen in our hapless cause. Alas, alas! what can I do for thee? Margaret has not even a blessing to bestow! So wayward is her fate, that her benedictions are curses, and she has but to look on you, and wish you well, to ensure your speedy and utter ruin. I— I have been the fatal poison-tree, whose influence has blighted and destroyed all the fair plants that arose beside and around me, and brought death upon every one, yet am myself unable to find it!”

“Noble and royal mistress,” said the elder Englishman, “let not your princely courage, which has borne such extremities, be dismayed, now that they are passed over, and that a chance at least of happier times is approaching to you and to England.”

“To England, to me, noble Oxford!” said the forlorn and widowed Queen. — “If tomorrow’s sun could place me once more on the throne of England, could it give back to me what I have lost? I speak not of wealth or power — they are as nothing in the balance — I speak not of the hosts of noble friends who have fallen in defence of me and mine — Somersets, Percys, Staffords, Cliffords — they have found their place in fame, in the annals of their country — I speak not of my husband; he bas exchanged the state of a suffering saint upon earth for that of a glorified saint in Heaven — But O Oxford! my son — my Edward — Is it possible for me to look on this youth, and not remember that thy countess and I on the same night gave birth to two fair boys? How oft we endeavored to prophesy their future fortunes, and to persuade ourselves that the same constellation which shone on their birth would influence their succeeding life and hold a friendly and equal bias till they reached some destined goal of happiness and honor! Thy Arthur lives; but, alas! my Edward, born under the same auspices, fills a bloody grave!”

She wrapped her head in her mantle, as if to stifle the complaints and groans which maternal affection poured forth at these cruel recollections. Philipson, or the exiled Earl of Oxford, as we may now term him, distinguished in those changeful times by the steadiness with which he had always maintained his loyalty to the line of Lancaster, saw the imprudence of indulging his sovereign in her weakness.

“Royal mistress,” he said, “life’s journey is that of a brief winter’s day, and its course will run on, whether we avail ourselves of its progress or no. My sovereign is, I trust, too much mistress of herself to suffer lamentation for what is past to deprive her of the power of using the present time. I am here in obedience to your command; I am to see Burgundy forthwith, and if I find him pliant to the purpose to which we would turn him, events may follow which will change into gladness our present mourning. But we must use our opportunity with speed as well as zeal. Let me know then, madam, for what reason your Majesty hath come hither, disguised and in danger? Surely it was not merely to weep over this young man that the high-minded Queen Margaret left her father’s court, disguised herself in mean attire, and came from a place of safety to one of doubt at least, if not of danger?”

“You mock me, Oxford,” said the unfortunate Queen, “or you deceive yourself, if you think you still serve that Margaret whose word was never spoken without a reason, and whose slightest action was influenced by a motive. Alas I am no longer the same firm and rational being. The feverish character of grief, while it makes one place hateful to me, drives me to another in very impotence and impatience of spirit. My father’s residence, thou say’st, is safe; but is it tolerable for such a soul as mine! Can one who has been deprived of the noblest and richest kingdom of Europe — one who has lost hosts of noble fnends — one who is a widowed consort, a childless mother — one upon whose head Heaven bath poured forth its last vial of unmitigated wrath — can she stoop to be the companion of a weak old man, who in sonnets and in music, in mummery and folly, in harping and rhyming, finds a comfort for all that poverty has that is distressing; and, what is still worse, even the solace in all that is ridiculous and contemptible?”

“Nay, with your leave, madam,” said her counsellor, “blame not the good King Rene, because, persecuted by fortune, he has been able to find out for himself humbler sources of solace which your prouder spirit is disposed to disdain. A contention among his minstrels has for him the animation of a knightly combat; and a crown of flowers, twined by his troubadours, and graced by their sonnets, he accounts a valuable compensation for the diadems of Jerusalem, of Naples, and of both Sicilies, of which he only possesses the empty titles.”

“Speak not to me of the pitiable old man,” said Margaret; “sunk below even the hatred of his worst enemies, and never thought worthy of anything more than contempt. I tell thee, noble Oxford, I have been driven nearly mad with my forced residence at Aix, in the paltry circle which he calls his court. My ears, tuned as they now are only to sounds of affliction, are not so weary of the eternal tinkling of harps, and squeaking of rebecks, and snapping of castanets — my eyes are not so tired of the beggarly affectation of court ceremonial, which is only respectable when it implies wealth and expresses power — as my very soul is sick of the paltry ambition which can find pleasure in spangles, tassels, and trumpery, when the reality of all that is great and noble bath passed away. No, Oxford, if I am doomed to lose the last cast which fickle fortune seems to offer me, I will retreat into the meanest convent in the Pyrenean hills, and at least escape the insult of the idiot gayety of my father. — Let him pass from our memory as from the page of history, in which his name will never be recorded. I have much of more importance both to hear and to tell — And now, my Oxford, what news from Italy? Will the Duke of Milan afford us assistance with his counsels or with his treasures?”

“With his counsels willingly, madam; but how you will relish them I know not, since he recommends to us submission to our hapless fate, and resignation to the will of Providence.”

“The wily Italian! Will not, then, Galeasso advance any part of his hoards, or assist a friend, to whom he hath in his time full often sworn faith?”

“Not even the diamonds which I offered to deposit in his hands,” answered the Earl, “could make him unlock his treasury to supply us with ducats for our enterprise. Yet he said, if Charles of Burgundy should think seriously of an exertion in our favor, such was his regard for that great prince and his deep sense of your majesty’s misfortunes, that he would consider what the state of his exchequer, though much exhausted, and the condition of his subjects, though impoverished by taxes and talliages, would permit him to advance in your behalf.”

“The double-faced hypocrite!” said Margaret. “If the assistance of the princely Burgundy lends us a chance of regaining what is our own, then he will give us some paltry parcel of crowns, that our restored prosperity may forget his indifference to our adversity! — But what of Burgundy? I have ventured hither to tell you what I have learned, and to hear report of your proceedings - a trusty watch provides for the secrecy of our interview. My impatience to see you brought me hither in this mean disguise. I have a small retinue at a convent a mile beyond the town — I have had your arrival watched by the faithful Lambert — and now I come to know your hopes or your fears, and to tell you my own.”

“Royal lady,” said the Earl, “I have not seen the Duke. You know his temper to be wilful, sudden, haughty, and Un-persuadable. If he can adopt the calm and sustained policy which the times require, I little doubt his obtaining full amends of Louis, his sworn enemy, and even of Edward, his ambitious brother-in-law. But if he continues to yield to extravagant fits of passion, with or without provocation, he may hurry into a quarrel with the poor but hardy Helvetians, and is likely to engage in a perilous contest, in which he cannot be expected to gain anything while he undergoes a chance of the most serious losses.”

“Surely,” replied the Queen, “he will not trust the usurper Edward, even in the very moment when he is giving the greatest proof of treachery to his alliance?”

“In what respect madam?” replied Oxford. “The news you allude to has not reached me.”

“How, my lord? Am I then the first to tell you, that Edward of York has crossed the sea with such an army, as scarce even the renowned Henry V., my father-in-law, ever transported from France to Italy?”

“So much I have indeed heard was expected,” said Oxford; “and I anticipated the effect as fatal to our cause.”

“Edward is arrived.” said Margaret, “and the traitor and usurper bath sent defiance to Louis of France, and demanded of him the crown of that kingdom as his own right — that crown which was placed on the head of my unhappy husband. when he was yet a child in the cradle.”

It is then decided — the English are in France?” answered Oxford, in a tone expressive of the deepest anxiety. — “And whom brings Edward with him on this expedition?”

“All — all the bitterest enemies of our house and cause — The false, the traitorous, the dishonored George, whom he calls Duke of Clarence — the blood-drinker, Richard — the licentious Hasting — Howard — Stanley — in a word, the leaders of all those traitors whom I would not name, unless by doing so my curses could sweep them from the face of the earth.”

“And — I tremble to ask,” said the Earl — “Does Burgundy prepare to join them as a brother of the war, and make common cause with this Yorkish host against King Louis of France?”

“By my advices,” replied the Queen, “and they are both private and sure, besides that they are confirmed by the bruit of common fame — No, my good Oxford, no!”

“For that may the saints be praised!” answered Oxford. “Edward of York — I will not malign even an enemy — is a bold and fearless leader — But he is neither Edward the Third, nor the heroic Black Prince — nor is he that fifth Henry of Lancaster, under whom I won my spurs, and to whose lineage the thoughts of his glorious memory would have made me faithful, had my plighted vows of allegiance ever permitted me to entertain a thought of varying, or of defection. Let Edward engage in war with Louis without the aid of Burgundy, on whien he has reckoned. Louis is indeed no hero, but he is a cautious and skilful general, more to be dreaded, perhaps, in these politic days, than if Charlemagne could again raise the Oriflamme, surrounded by Roland and all his paladins. Louis will not hazard such fields as those of Cressy, of Poictiers, or of Agincourt. With a thousand lances from Hainault, and twenty thousand crowns from Burgundy, Edward shall risk the loss of England, while he is engaged in a protracted struggle for one recovery of Normandy and Gujenne. But what are the movements of Burgundy?”

“He has menaced Germany,” said Margaret, “and his troops are now employed in overrunning Lorraine, of which he has seized the principal towns and castles.”

“Where is Ferrand de Vaudemont — a youth, it is said, of Courage and enterprize, and claiming Lorraine in right of his mother, Yolande of Anjou, the sister of your Grace?”

“Fled,” replied the Queen, “into Germany or Helvetla.”

“Let Burgundy beware of him,” said the experienced Earl for should the disinherited youth obtain confederates in Germany, and allies among the hardy Swiss, Charles of Burgundy may find him a far more formidable enemy than he expects. We are strong for the present, only in the Duke’s strength, and if it is wasted in idle and desultory efforts, our hopes, alas! vanish with his power, even if he should be found to have the decided will to assist us. My friends in England are resolute not to stir without men and money from Burgundy.”

“It is a fear,” said Margaret, “but not our worst fear. I dread more the policy of Louis, who, unless my espials have grossly deceived me, has even already proposed a secret peace to Edward, offering with large sums of money to purchase England to the Yorkists, and a truce of seven years.”

“It cannot be,” said Oxford. “No Englishman, command mg such an army as Edward must now lead, dares for very shame to retire from France without a manly attempt to recover his lost provinces.”

“Such would have been the thoughts of a rightful prince, said Margaret, “who left behind him an obedient and faithfu1 kingdom. Such may not be the thoughts of this Edward, misnamed Plantagenet, base perhaps in mind as in blood, since they say his real father was one Blackburn, an archer of Middleham — usurper, at least, if not bastard — such will not be his thoughts. 18 Every breeze that blows from England will bring with it apprehensions of defection amongst those over whom he has usurped authority. He will not sleep in peace till he returns to England with those cut-throats, whom he relies upon for the defence of his stolen crown. He will engage in no war with Louis, for Louis will not hesitate to soothe his pride by humiliation — to gorge his avarice and pamper his voluptuous prodigality by sums of gold — and I fear much we shall soon hear of the English army retiring from France with the idle boast, that they have displayed their banners once more, for a week or two, in the provinces which were formerly their own.”

“It the more becomes us to be speedy in moving Burgundy to decision,” replied Oxford; “and for that purpose I post to Dijon. Such an army as Edward’s cannot be transported over the narrow seas in several weeks. The probability is, that they must winter in France, even if they should have truce with King Louis. With a thousand Hainault lances from the eastern part of Flanders I can be soon in the North, where we have many friends, besides the assurance of help from Scotland. The faithful west will rise at a signal — a Clifford can be found, though the mountain mists have hid him from Edward’s researches — the Welsh will assemble at the rallying word of Tudor — the Red Rose raises its head once more — and so, God save King Henry!”

“Alas!” said the Queen — “But no husband — no friend of mine — the son but of my mother-in-law by a Welsh chieftain — cold, they say, and crafty — But be it so — let me only see Lancaster triumph, and obtain revenge upon York, and I will die contented!”

“It is then your pleasure that I should make the proffers expressed by your Grace’s former mandates, to induce Burgundy to stir himself in our cause? If he learns the proposal of a truce betwixt France and England, it will sting sharper than aught I can say.”

Promise all, however,’’ said the Queen. ‘’ I know his inmost soul — it is set upon extending the dominions of his House in every direction. For this he has seized Gueldres — for this he now overruns and occupies Lorraine — for this he covets such poor remnants of Provence as my father still calls his own. With such augmented territories, he proposes to exchange his ducal diadem for an arched crown of independent sovereignty. Tell the Duke, Margaret can assist his views — tell him, that my father Rene shall disown the opposition made to the Duke’s seizure of Lorraine — He shall do more — he shall declare Charles his heir in Provence, with my ample consent — tell him, the old man shall cede his dominions to him upon the instant that his Hainaulters embark for England, some small pension deducted to maintain a concert of fiddlers, and a troop of morrice-dancers. These are Rene’s only earthly wants. Mine are still fewer — Revenge upon York, and a speedy grave — For the paltry gold which we may need, thou hast jewels to pledge — For the other conditions, security if required.”

“For these, madam, I can pledge — my knightly word, in addition to your royal faith; and if more is required, my son shall be a hostage with Burgundy.”

“Oh, no — no!” exclaimed the dethroned Queen, touched by perhaps the only tender feeling which repeated and extraordinary misfortunes had not chilled into insensibility, — “Hazard not the life of the noble youth — he that is the last of the loyal and faithful House of Vere — he that should have been the brother-in-arms of my beloved Edward — he that had so nearly been his companion in a bloody and untimely grave! Do not involve this poor child in these fatal intrigues, which have been so baneful to his family. Let him go with me. Him at least I will shelter from danger whilst I live, and provide for when I am no more.”

“Forgive me, madam,” said Oxford, with the firmness which distinguished him. “My son, as you deign to recollect, is a De Vere, destined, perhaps, to be the last of his name. Fall he may, but it must not be without honor. To whatever dangers his duty and allegiance call him, be it from sword or lance, axe or gibbet, to these he must expose himself frankly, when his doing so can mark his allegiance. His ancestors have shown him how to brave them all.”

“True, true,” exclaimed the unfortunate Queen, raising her arms wildly, — “All must perish — all that have honored Lancaster-all that have loved Margaret, or whom she has loved! The destruction must be universal — the young must fall with the old — not a lamb of the scattered flock shall escape!”

“ For God’s sake, gracious madam,” said Oxford, “compose yourself! — I hear them knock on the chapel door.”

“It is the signal of parting,” said the exiled Queen, collecting herself. “Do not fear, noble Oxford, I am not often thus; but how seldom do I see those friends, whose faces and voices can disturb the composure of my despair! Let me tie this relic about thy neck, good youth, and fear not its evil influence, though you receive it from an ill-omened hand. It was my husband’s, blessed by many a prayer, and sanctified by many a holy tear; even my unhappy hands cannot pollute it. I should have bound it on my Edward’s bosom on the dreadful morning of Tewkesbury fight; but he armed early — went to the field without seeing me, and all my purpose was vain.

She passed a golden chain round Arthur’s neck as she spoke, which contained a small gold crucifix of rich but barbarous manufacture. It had belonged, said tradition, to Edward the Confessor. The knock at the door of the chapel was repeated.

“We must not tarry,” said Margaret; “let us part here — you for Dijon — I to Aix, my abode of unrest in Provence. Farewell — we may meet in a better hour — yet how can I hope it? Thus I said on the morning before the fight of St. Albans — thus on the dark dawning of Towton — thus on the yet more bloody field of Tewkesbury — and what was the event? Yet hope is a plant which cannot be rooted out of a noble breast, till the last heart-string crack as it is pulled away.”

So saying, she passed through the chapel door, and mingled in the miscellaneous assemblage of personages who worshipped or indulged their curiosity, or consumed their idle hours amongst the aisles of the cathedral.

Philipson and his son, both deeply impressed with the singular interview which had just taken place, returned to their inn, where they found a pursuivant, with the Duke of Burgundy’s badge and livery, who informed them that if they were the English merchants who were carrying wares of value to the court of the Duke, he had orders to afford them the countenance of his escort and inviolable character. Under his protection they set out from Strassburg; but such was the uncertainty of the Duke of Burgundy’s motions, and such the numerous obstacles which occurred to interrupt their journey, in a country disturbed by the constant passage of troops and preparation for war, that it was evening on the second day ere they reached the plain near Dijon, on which the whole, or great part of his power, lay encamped.

18 The Lancastrian party threw the imputation of bastardy (which was totally unfounded) upon Edward IV.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29