Anne of Geierstein, by Walter Scott

Chapter 25

Thus said the Duke — thus did the Duke infer.

Richard III.

The eyes of the elder traveller were well accustomed to sights of martial splendor, yet even he was dazzled with the rich and glorious display of the Burgundian camp, in which, near the walls of Dijon, Charles, the wealthiest prince in Europe, had displayed his own extravagance, and encouraged his followers to similar profusion. The pavilions of the meanest officers were of silk and samite, while those of the nobility and great leaders glittered with cloth of silver, cloth of gold, variegated tapestry, and other precious materials, which in no other situation would have been employed as a cover from the weather, but would themselves have been thought worthy of the most careful protection. The horsemen and infantry who mounted guard, were arrayed in the richest and most gorgeous armor. A beautiful and very numerous train of artillery was drawn up near the entrance of the camp, and in its commander, Philipson (to give the Earl the travelling name to which our readers are accustomed) recognized Henry Colvin, an Englishman of inferior birth, but distinguished for his skill in conducting these terrible engines, which had of late come into general use in war. The banners and pennons which were displayed by every knight, baron, and man of rank, floated before their tents, and the owners of these transitory dwellings sat at the door half-armed, and enjoying the military contests of the soldiers, in wrestling, pitching the bar, and other athletic exercises.

Long rows of the noblest horses were seen at picquet, prancing and tossing their heads, as impatient of the inactivity to which they were confined, or were heard neighing over the provender, which was spread plentifully before them. The soldiers formed joyous groups about the minstrels and strolling jugglers, or were engaged in drinking parties at the sutler’s tent; others strolled about with folded arms, casting their eyes now and then to the sinking sun, as if desirous that the hour should arrive which would put an end to a day unoccupied, and therefore tedious.

At length the travellers reached, amidst the dazzling varieties of this military display, the pavilion of the Duke himself, before which floated heavily in the evening breeze the broad and inch banner, in which glowed the armorial bearings and quarterings of a prince, Duke of six provinces, and Count of fifteen counties, who was, from his power, his disposition, and the success which seemed to attend his enterprises, the general dread of Europe. The pursuivant made himself known to some of the household, and the Englishmen were immediately received with courtesy, though not such as to draw attention upon them, and conveyed to a neighboring tent, the residence of a general officer, which they were given to understand was destined for their accommodation, and where their packages accordingly were deposited, and refreshments offered them.

“As the camp is filled,” said the domestic who waited upon them, “with soldiers of different nations and uncertain dispositions, the Duke of Burgundy, for the safety of your merchandise, has ordered you the protection of a regular sentinel. In the mean time, be in readiness to wait on his Highness, seeing you may look to be presently sent for.”

Accordingly, the elder Philipson was shortly after summoned to the Duke’s presence, introduced by a back entrance into the ducal pavilion, and into that part of it which, screened by close curtains and wooden barncades formed Charles’s own separate apartment. The plainness of the furniture, and the coarse apparatus of the Duke’s toilet, formed a strong contrast to the appearance of the exterior of the pavilion; for Charles, whose character was in that, as in other things, far from consistent, exhibited in his own person during war an austerity, or rather coarseness of dress, and sometimes of manners, also, which was more like the rudeness of a German lanz-knecht, than the bearing of a prince of exalted rank; while, at the same time, he encouraged and enjoined a great splendor of expense and display amongst his vassals and courtiers, as if to be rudely attired, and to despise every restraint, even of ordinary ceremony, were a privilege of the sovereign alone. Yet, when it pleased him to assume state in person and manners, none knew better than Charles of Burgundy how he ought to adorn and demean himself.

Upon his toilet appeared brushes and combs which might have claimed dismissal as past the term of service, over-worn hats and doublets, dog-leashes, leather belts, and other such paltry articles; amongst which lay at random, as it seemed, the great diamond called Sanci, — the three rubies termed the Three Brothers of Antwerp, — another great diamond called the Lamp of Flanders, and other precious stones of scarcely inferior value and rarity. This extraordinary display somewhat resembled the character of the Duke himself, who mixed cruelty with justice, maganimity with meanness of spirit, economy with extravagance, and liberality with avarice; being, in fact, consistent in nothing excepting in his obstinate determination to follow the opinion he had once formed, in every situation of things, and through all variety of risks.

In the midst of the valueless and inestimable articles of his wardrobe and toilet, the Duke of Burgundy called out to the English traveller, “Welcome, Herr Philipson — welcome, you of a nation whose traders are princes, and their merchants the mighty ones of the earth. What new commodities have you brought to gull us with? You merchants, by St. George, are a wily generation.”

“Faith, no new merchandise, I, my lord,” answered the elder Englishman; “I bring but the commodities which I showed your Highness the last time I communicated with you, in the hope of a poor trader, that your Grace may find them more acceptable upon a review, than when you first saw them.”

“It is well, Sir — Philipville, I think they call you? — you are a simple trader, or you take me for a silly purchaser, that you think to gull me with the same wares which I fancied not formerly. Change of fashion, man — novelty — is the motto of commerce your Lancaster wares have had their day, and I have bought of them like others, and was like enough to have paid dear for them too. York is all the vogue now.”

“It may be so among the vulgar,” said the Earl of Oxford; but for souls like your Highness, faith, honor, and loyalty are jewels which change of fancy or mutability of taste cannot put out of fashion.”

“Why, it may be, noble Oxford,” said the Duke, “that I preserve in my secret mind some veneration for these old-fashioned qualities, else how should I have such regard for your person, in which they have ever been distinguished? But my situation is painfully urgent, and should I make a false step at this crisis, I might break the purposes of my whole life. Observe me, Sir Merchant. Here has come over your old competitor, Blackburn, whom some call Edward of York and of London, with a commodity of bows and bills such as never entered France since King Arthur’s time; and he offers to enter into joint adventure with me, or in plain speech, to make common cause with Burgundy, till we smoke out of his earths the old fox Louis, and nail his hide to the stable-door. In a word, England invites me to take part with him against my most wily and inveterate enemy the King of France; to rid myself of the chain of vassalage, and to ascend into the rank of independent princes; — how think you, noble Earl, can I forego this seducing temptation?”

“You must ask this of some of your counsellors of Burgundy,” said Oxford; “it is a question fraught too deeply with ruin to my cause, for me to give a fair opinion on it.”

“Nevertheless,” said Charles, “I ask thee as an honorable man, what objections you see to the course proposed to me? Speak your mind, and speak it freely.”

“My lord, I know it is in your Highness’s nature to entertain no doubts of the facility of executing anything which you have once determined shall be done. Yet, though this prince-like disposition may in some cases prepare for its own success, and has often done so, there are others, in which persisting in our purpose, merely because we have once willed it, leads not to success, but to ruin. Look, therefore, at this English army, winter is approaching, where are they to be lodged? how are they to be victualled? by whom are they to be paid? Is your Highness to take all the expense and labor of fitting them for the summer campaign? for, rely on it, an English army never was, nor will be, fit for service, till they have been out of their own island long enough to accustom them to military duty. They are men, I grant, the fittest for soldiers in the world but they are not soldiers as yet, and must be trained to be come such at your Highness’s expense.”

“Be it so,” said Charles; “I think the Low Countries can find food for the beef-consuming knaves for a few weeks, and villages for them to lie in, and officers to train their sturdy limbs to war, and provost-marshals enough to reduce their refractory spirit to discipline.”

“What happens next?” said Oxford. “You march to Paris, add to Edward’s usurped power another kingdom; restore to him all the possessions which England ever had in France, Normandy, Maine, Anjou, Gascony, and all besides. — Can you trust this Edward when you shall have thus fostered his strength and made him far stronger than this Louis whom you have united to pull down?”

“By St. George, I will not dissemble with you! It is in that very point that my doubts trouble me. Edward is indeed my brother-in-law, but I am a man little inclined to put my head under my wife’s girdle.”

“And the times,” said Philipson, “have too often shown the inefficiency of family alliances to prevent the most gross breaches of faith.”

“You say well, Earl. Clarence betrayed his father-in-law; Louis poisoned his brother — Domestic affections, pshaw! they sit warm enough by a private man’s fireside, but they cannot come into fields of battle, or princes’ halls, where the wind blows cold. No, my alliance with Edward by marriage were little succor to me in time of need. I would as soon ride an unbroken horse, with no better bridle than a lady’s garter but what then is the result! He wars on Louis; whichever gains the better, I, who must be strengthened in their mutual weakness, receive the advantage — The Englishmen slay the French with their cloth-yard shafts, and the Frenchmen, by skirmishes, waste, weaken, and destroy the English. Witb spring I take the field with an army superior to both, and then St. George for Burgundy!”

“And if, in the meanwhile, your Highness will deign to assist, even in the most trifling degree, a cause the most honorable that ever knight laid lance in rest for, — a moderate sum of money, and a small body of Hainault lances, who may gain both fame and fortune by the service, may replace the injured heir of Lancaster in the possession of his native and rightful dominion.”

“Ay, marry, Sir Earl,” said the Duke, “you come roundly to the point; but we have seen, and indeed partly assisted at so many turns betwixt York and Lancaster, that we have some doubt which is the side to which Heaven has given the right, and the inclinations of the people the effectual power; we are surprised into absolute giddiness by so many extraordinary revolutions of fortune as England has exhibited.”

“A proof, my lord, that these mutations are not yet ended, and that your generous aid may give to the better side an effectual turn of advantage.”

“And lend my cousin, Margaret of Anjou, my arm to de throne my wife’s brother? Perhaps be deserves small good-will at my hands, since he and his insolent nobles have been urging me with remonstrances, and even threats, to lay aside all my own important affairs, and join Edward, forsooth, in his knight-errant expedition against Louis. I will march against Louis at my own time, and not sooner; and, by St. George! neither island king, nor island noble, shall dictate to Charles of Burgundy. You are fine conceited companions, you English of both sides, that think the matters of your own bedlam island are as interesting to all the world as to yourselves. But neither York nor Lancaster; neither brother Blackburn, nor cousin Margaret of Anjou, not with John de Vere to back her, shall gull me. Men lure no hawks with empty hands.”

Oxford, familiar with the Duke’s disposition, suffered him to exhaust himself in chafing, that any one should pretend to dictate his course of conduct, and, when he was at length silent, replied with calmness — “Do I live to hear the noble Duke of Burgundy, the mirror of European chivalry, say that no reason has been shown to him for an adventure where a helpless queen is to be redressed — a royal house raised from the dust? Is there not immortal los and honor — the trumpet of fame to proclaim the sovereign, who, alone in a degenerate age, has united the duties of a generous knight with those of a princely sovereign — ”

The Duke interrupted him, striking him at the same time on the shoulder — “And King Rene’s five hundred fiddlers to tune their cracked violins in my praise and King Rene himself to listen to them, and say — ‘ Well fought, Duke — well played, fiddler!’ I tell thee, John of Oxford, when thou and I wore maiden armor, such words as fame, honor, loss, knightly glory, lady’s love, and so forth, were good mottoes for our snow-white shields, and a fair enough argument for splintering lances — Ay, and in tilt-yard, though somewhat old for these fierce follies, I would jeopard my person in such a quarrel yet, as becomes a knight of the order. But when we come to paying down of crowns, and embarking of large squadrons, we must have to propose to our subjects some substantial excuse for plunging them in war; some proposal for the public good — or, by St George! for our own private advantage, which is the same thing. This is the course the world runs, and, Oxford, to tell the plain truth, I mean to hold the same bias.”

“Heaven forbid that I should expect your Highness to act otherwise than with a view to your subjects’ welfare — the increase, that is, as your Grace happily expresses it, of your own power and dominion. The money we require is not in benevolence, but in loan; and Margaret is willing to deposit these jewels, of which I think your Grace knows the value, till she shall repay the sum which your friendship may advance in her necessity.”

“Ha, ha!” said the Duke, “would our cousin make a pawnbroker of us, and have us deal with her like a Jewish usurer with his debtor? — Yet, in faith, Oxford, we may need the diamonds, for if this business were otherwise feasible, it is possible that I myself must become a borrower to aid my cousin’s necessities. I have applied to the States of the Duchy, who are now sitting, and expect, as is reasonable, a large supply. But there are restless heads and close hands among them, and they may be niggardly — So place the jewels on the table in the mean while. — Well, say I am to be no sufferer in purse by this feat of knight-errantry which you propose to me, still princes enter not into war without some view of advantage?”

“Listen to me, noble sovereign. You are naturally bent to unite the great estates of your father, and those you have acquired by your own arms, into a compact and firm dukedom — ”

“Call it kingdom,” said Charles; “it is the worthier word.”

“Into a kingdom, of which the crown shall sit as fair and even on your Grace’s brow as that of France on your present suzerain, Louis.”

“It needs not such shrewdness as yours to descry that such is my purpose,” said the Duke; “else, wherefore am I here with helm on my head, and sword by my side? And wherefore are my troops seizing on the strong places in Lorraine, and chasing before them the beggarly De Vaudemont, who has the insolence to claim it as his inheritance? Yes, my friend, the aggrandizement of Burgundy is a theme for which the duke of that fair province is bound to fight, while he can put foot in stirrup.”

“But think you not,” said the English Earl, “since you allow me to speak freely with your Grace, on the footing of old acquaintanceship, think you not that in this chart of your dominions, otherwise so fairly bounded, there is something on the southern frontier which might be arranged more advantageously for a King of Burgundy?”

“I cannot guess whither you would lead me,” said the Duke, looking at a map of the Duchy and his other possessions, to which the Englishman had pointed his attention, and then turning his broad keen eye upon the face of the banished Earl.

“I would say,” replied the latter, “that, to so powerful a prince as your Grace, there is no safe neighbor but the sea. Here is Provence, which interferes betwixt you and the Mediterranean; Provence, with its princely harbors, and fertile cornfields and vineyards. Were it not well to include it in your map of sovereignty, and thus touch the middle sea with one hand, while the other rested on the sea-coast of Flanders?”

“Provence, said you?” — replied the Duke, eagerly; “why, man, my very dreams are of Provence. I cannot smell an orange but it reminds me of its perfumed woods, and bowers, its olives, citrons, and pomegranates. But how to frame pretensions to it? Shame it were to disturb Rene the harmless old man, nor would it become a near relation. Then he is the uncle of Louis; and most probably, failing his daughter Margaret, or perhaps in preference to her, he hath named the French King his heir.”

“A better claim might be raised up in your Grace ‘s own person,” said the Earl of Oxford, “if you will afford Margaret of Anjou the succor she requires by me.”

“Take the aid thou requirest,” replied the Duke; “take double the amount of it in men and money! Let me but have a claim upon Provence, though thin as a single thread of thy Queen Margaret’s hair, and let me alone for twisting it into the tough texture of a quadruple cable. — But I am a fool to listen to the dreams of one, who, ruined himself, can lose little by holding forth to others the most extravagant hopes.”

Charles breathed high, and changed complexion as he spoke.

‘I am not such a person, my Lord Duke,’ said the Earl, Listen to me — Rend is broken with years, fond of repose, and too poor to maintain his rank with the necessary dignity; too good-natured, or too feeble-minded, to lay farther imposts on his subjects; weary of contending with bad fortune, and desirous to resign his territories — ”

“His territories!” said Charles.

“Yes, all he actually possesses; and the much more extensive dominions which he has claim to, but which have passed from his sway.”

“You take away my breath!” said the Duke. “Rene resign Provence! and what says Margaret — the proud, the high-minded Margaret — will she subscribe to so humiliating a proceeding?”

“For the chance of seeing Lancaster triumph in England, she would resign, not only dominion, but life itself. And in truth, the sacrifice is less than it may seem to be. It is certain that, when Rene dies, the King of France will claim the old man’s county of Provence as a male fief, and there is no one strong enough to back Margaret’s claim of inheritance, however just it may be.”

“It is just,” said Charles; “it is undeniable! I will not hear of its being denied or challenged — that is, when once it is established in our own person. It is the true principle of the war for the public good, that none of the great fiefs be suffered to revert again to the crown of France, least of all while it stands on a brow so astucious and unprincipled as that of Louis. Burgundy joined to Provence — a dominion from the German Ocean to the Mediterranean! Oxford — thou art my better angel!”

“Your Grace must, however, reflect,” said Oxford, “that honorable provision must be made for King Rene.”

“Certainly, man, certainly; he shall have a score of fiddlers and jugglers to play, roar, and recite to him from morning till night. He shall have a court of Troubadours, who shall do nothing but drink, flute, and fiddle to him, and pronounce arrests of love, to be confirmed or reversed by an appeal to himself, the supreme Roi d’Amour. And Margaret shall also be honorably sustained, in the manner you may point out.”

“That will be easily settled,” answered the English Earl. “If our attempts on England succeed, she will n~ed no aid from Burgundy. If she fails, she retires into a cloister, and it will nbt be long that she will need the honorable maintenance which, I am sure, your Grace’s generosity will willingly assign her.”

“Unquestionably,” answered Charles; “and on a scale which will become us both; — but, by my halidome, John of Vere, the abbess into whose cloister Margaret of Anjou shall retire, will have an ungovernable penitent under her charge. Well do I know her and, Sir Earl, I will not clog our discourse by expressing any doubts, that if she pleases, she can compel her father to resign his estates to whomsoever he will. She is like my brache, Gorgon, who compels whatsoever hound is coupled with her to go the way she chooses, or she strangles him if he resists. So has Margaret acted with her simple-minded husband, and I am aware that her father, a fool of different cast, must of necessity be equally tractable. I think I could have matched her, — though my very neck aches at the thought of the struggles we should have had for mastery. But you look grave, because I jest with the pertinacious temper of my unhappy cousin.”

“My lord,” said Oxford, “whatever are or have been the defects of my mistress, she is in distress, and almost in desolation. She is my sovereign and your Highness’s cousin not the less.”

“Enough said, Sir Earl,” answered the Duke. “Let us speak seriously. Whatever we may think of the abdication of King Rene, I fear we shall find it difficult to make Louis XI. see the matter as favorably as we do. He will hold that the county of Provence is a male fief, and that neither the resignation of Rene, nor the consent of his daughter, can prevent its reverting to the crown of France, as the King of Sicily, as they call him, hath no male issue.

“That, may it please your Grace, is a question for battle to decide and your Highness has successfully braved Louis for a less important stake. All I can say is, that if your Grace’s active assistance enables the young Earl of Richmond to succeed in his enterprise, you shall have the aid of three thousand English archers, if old John of Oxford, for want of a better leader, were to bring them over himself.”

“A noble aid,” said the Duke; “graced still more by him who promises to lead them. Thy succor, noble Oxford, were precious to me, did you but come with your sword by your side, and a single page at your back. I know you well, both heart and head. But let us to this gear; exiles, even the wisest, are privileged in promises, and sometimes — excuse me, noble Oxford — impose on themselves as well as on their friends. What are the hopes on which you desire me again to embark on so troubled and uncertain an ocean, as these civil contests of yours?”

The Earl of Oxford produced a schedule, and explained to the Duke the plan of his expedition, to be backed by an insurrection of the friends of Lancaster, of which it is enough to say that it was bold to the verge of temerity; but yet so well compacted and put together as to bear in those times of rapid revolution, and under a leader of Oxford’s approved military skill and political sagacity, a strong appearance of probable success.

While Duke Charles mused over the particulars of an enterprise attractive and congenial to his own disposition,-while he counted over the affronts which he had received from his brother-in-law, Edward IV., the present opportunity for taking a signal revenge, and the rich acquisition which he hoped to make in Provence by the cession in his favor of Rene of Anjou and his daughter, the Englishman failed not to press on his consideration the urgent necessity of suffering no time to escape.

“The accomplishment of this scheme,” he said, “demands the utmost promptitude. To have a chance of success, I must be in England, with your Grace’s auxiliary forces, before Edward of York can return from France with his army.”

“And, having come hither,” said the Duke, “our worthy brother will be in no hurry to return again. He will meet with black-eyed French women and ruby-colored French wine, and brother Blackburn is no man to leave such commodities in a hurry.”

“My Lord Duke, I will speak truth of my enemy. Edward is indolent and luxurious when things are easy around him, but let him feel the spur of necessity, and he becomes as eager as a pampered steed. Louis, too, who seldom fails in finding means to accomplish his ends, is bent upon determining the English King to re-cross the sea — therefore speed, noble Prince — speed is the soul of your enterprise.”

“Speed!.” said the Duke of Burgund, — “Why, I will go with you and see the embarkation myself; and tried, approved soldiers you shall have, such as are nowhere to be found save in Artois and Hainault.”

“But pardon yet, noble Duke, the impatience of a drowning wretch urgently pressing for assistance. — When shall we to the coast of Flanders, to order this important measure?”

“Why, in a fortnight, or perchance a week, or, in a word, so soon as I shall have chastised td purpose a certain gang of thieves and robbers, who, as the scum of the caldron will always be uppermost, have got up into the fastnesses of the Alps, and from thence annoy our frontiers by contraband traffic, pillage, and robbery.”

“Your Highness means the Swiss Confederates?”

“Ay, the peasant churls give themselves such a name. They are a sort of manumitted slaves of Austria, and like a ban-dog, whose chain is broken, they avail themselves of their liberty to annoy and rend whatever comes in their way.”

I travelled through their country from Italy,” said the exiled Earl, “and I heard it was the purpose of the Cantons to send envoys to solicit peace of your Highness.”

“Peace!” exclaimed Charles. — “A proper sort of peaceful proceedings those of their embassy have been! Availing themselves of a mutiny of the burghers of La Ferette, the first garrison town which they entered, they stormed the walls, seized on Archibald de Hagenbach, who commanded the place on my part, and put him to death in the market-place. Such an insult must be punished, Sir John de Vere; and if you do not see me in the storm of passion which it well deserves, it is because I have already given orders to hang up the base runagates who call themselves ambassadors.”

“For God’s sake, noble Duke,” said the Englishman, throwing himself at Charles’s feet — “for your own character, for the sake of the peace of Christendom, revoke such an order if it is really given!”

“What means this passion?” said Duke Charles.-” What are these men’s lives to thee, excepting that the consequences of a war may delay your expedition for a few days?”

“May render it altogether abortive,” said the Earl; “nay, must needs do so. — Hear me, Lord Duke. I was with these men on a part of their journey.”

“You!” said the Duke — “you a companion of the paltry Swiss peasants? Misfortune has sunk the pride of English nobility to a low ebb, when you selected such associates.”

“I was thrown amongst them by accident,” said the Earl. “Some of them are of noble blood, and are, besides, men for whose peaceable intentions I ventured to constitute myself their warrant.”

“On my honor, my Lord of Oxford, you graced them highly, and me no less, in interfering between the Swiss and myself! Allow me to say that I condescend, when, in deference to past friendship, I permit you to speak to me of your own English affairs. Methinks you might wellspare me your opinion upon topics with which you have no natural concern.”

“My Lord of Burgundy,” replied Oxford, “I followed your banner to Paris, and had the good luck to rescue you in the fight at Mont L’Hery, when you were beset by the French men-at-arms —”

“We have not forgot it,” said Duke Charles; “and it is a sign that we keep the action in remembrance that you have been suffered to stand before us so long, pleading the cause of a set of rascals, whom we are required to spare from the gallows that groans for them, because forsooth they have been tile fellow travellers of the Earl of Oxford!”

“Not so, my lord. I ask their lives only because they are upon a peaceful errand, and the leaders amongst them, at least, have no accession to the crime of which you complain.”

The Duke traversed the apartment with unequal steps, in much agitation his large eyebrows drawn down over his eyes, his hands clenched, and his teeth set, until at length he seemed to take a resolution. He rung a hand-bell of silver, which stood upon his table.

“Here, Contay,” he said to the gentleman of his chamber who entered, “are these mountain fellows yet executed?”

“No, may it please your Highness; but the executioner waits them so soon as the priest hath confessed them.”

Let them live,” said the Duke. “We will hear to-morrow in what manner they propose to justify their proceedings towards us.”

Contay bowed and left the apartment; then, turning to the Englishman, the Duke said, with an indescribable mixture of haughtiness with familiarity and even kindness, but having his brows cleared, and his looks composed, — “We are now clear of obligation, my Lord of Oxford — you have obtained life for life — nay, to make up some inequality which there may be betwixt the value of the commodities bestowed, you have obtained six lives for one. I will, therefore, pay no more attention to you, should you again upbraid me with the stumbling horse at Mont L’Hery, or your own achievements on that occasion. Most princes are contented with privately hating such men as have rendered them extraordinary services — I feel no such disposition — I only detest being reminded of having had occasion for them. — Pshaw! I am half-choked with the effort of foregoing my own fixed resolution — So ho! who waits there? Bring me to drink.”

An usher entered, bearing a large silver flagon, which, instead of wine, was filled with tisanne, slightly flavored by aromatic herbs.

“I am so hot and choleric by nature,” said the Duke, “that our leeches prohibit me from drinking wine. But you, Oxford, are bound by no such regimen. Get thee to thy countryman, Colvin, the general of our artillery. We commend thee to his custody and hospitality till to-morrow, which must be a busy day, since I expect to receive the answer of these wiseacres of the Dijon assembly of estates; and have also to hear (thanks to your lordship’s interference) these miserable Swiss envoys, as they call themselves. Well, no more on’t. — Good night. You may communicate freely with Colvin, who is, like yourself, an old Lancastrian. — But hark ye, not a word respecting Provence — not even in your sleep. — Contay, conduct this English gentleman to Colvin’s tent. He knows my pleasure respecting him.”

“So please your Grace,” answered Contay, “I left the English gentleman’s son with Monsieur de Colvin.”

“What! thine own son, Oxford? And with thee here? Why did you not tell me of him? Is he a true scion of the ancient tree?”

“It is my pride to believe so, my lord. He has been the faithful companion of all my dangers and wanderings.”

“Happy man!” said the Duke with a sigh. “You, Oxford, have a son to share your poverty and distress — I have none to be partner and successor to my greatness.”

“You have a daughter, my lord,” said the noble De Vere, “and it is to be hoped she will one day wed some powerful prince, who may be the stay of your Highness’s house.”

“Never! By Saint George, never!” answered the Duke, sharply and shortly. “I will have no son-in-law, who may make the daughter’s bed a stepping-stone to reach to the father’s crown. Oxford, I have spoken more freely than I am wont, perhaps more freely than I ought — but I hold some men trust-worthy, and believe you, Sir John de Vere, to be one of them.”

The English nobleman bowed, and was about to leave his presence, but the Duke presently recalled him.

“There is one thing more, Oxford. — The cession of Provence is not quite enough. Rene and Margaret must disavow this hot-brained Ferrand de Vaudemont, who is making some foolish stir in Lorraine, in right of his mother Yolande.”

“My lord,” said Oxford, “Ferrand is the grandson of King Rene, the nephew of Queen Margaret; but yet — ”

“But yet, by Saint George, his rights, as he calls them, on Lorraine, must positively be disowned. You talk of their family feelings, while you are urging me to make war on my own brother-in-law!”

“Rene’s best apology for deserting his grandson,” answered Oxford, ” will be his total inability to support and assist him. I will communicate your Grace’s condition, though it is a hard one.”

So saying, he left the pavilion.

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