The Betrothed, by Walter Scott

Chapter the Twelfth.

Now all ye ladies of fair Scotland,

And ladies of England that happy would prove,

Marry never for houses, nor marry for land,

Nor marry for nothing but only love.

FAMILY QUARRELS.

When the Lady Eveline had retired into her own private chamber, Rose Flammock followed her unbidden, and proffered her assistance in removing the large veil which she had worn while she was abroad; but the lady refused her permission, saying, “You are forward with service, maiden, when it is not required of you.”

“You are displeased with me, lady!” said Rose.

“And if I am, I have cause,” replied Eveline. “You know my difficulties — you know what my duty demands; yet, instead of aiding me to make the sacrifice, you render it more difficult.”

“Would I had influence to guide your path!” said Rose; “you should find it a smooth one — ay, an honest and straight one, to boot.”

“How mean you, maiden?” said Eveline.

“I would have you,” answered Rose, “recall the encouragement — the consent, I may almost call it, you have yielded to this proud baron. He is too great to be loved himself — too haughty to love you as you deserve. If you wed him, you wed gilded misery, and, it may be, dishonour as well as discontent.”

“Remember, damsel,” answered Eveline Berenger, “his services towards us.”

“His services?” answered Rose. “He ventured his life for us; indeed, but so did every soldier in his host. And am I bound to wed any ruffling blade among them, because he fought when the trumpet sounded? I wonder what, is the meaning of their devoir, as they call it, when it shames them not to claim the highest reward woman can bestow, merely for discharging the duty of a gentleman, by a distressed creature. A gentleman, said I? — The coarsest boor in Flanders would hardly expect thanks for doing the duty of a man by women in such a case.”

“But my father’s wishes?” said the young lady.

“They had reference, without doubt, to the inclination of your father’s daughter,” answered the attendant. “I will not do my late noble lord —(may God assoilzie him!)— the injustice to suppose he would have urged aught in this matter which squared not with your free choice.”

“Then my vow — my fatal vow, as I had well nigh called it?” said Eveline. “May Heaven forgive me my ingratitude to my patroness!”

“Even this shakes me not,” said Rose; “I will never believe our Lady of Mercy would exact such a penalty for her protection, as to desire me to wed the man I could not love. She smiled, you say, upon your prayer. Go — lay at her feet these difficulties which oppress you, and see if she will not smile again. Or seek a dispensation from your vow — seek it at the expense of the half of your estate — seek it at the expense of your whole property. Go a pilgrimage barefooted to Rome — do any thing but give your hand where you cannot give your heart.”

“You speak warmly, Rose,” said Eveline, still sighing as she spoke.

“Alas! my sweet lady, I have cause. Have I not seen a household where love was not — where, although there was worth and good will, and enough of the means of life, all was imbittered by regrets, which were not only vain, but criminal?”

“Yet, methinks, Rose, a sense of what is due to ourselves and to others may, if listened to, guide and comfort us under such feelings even as thou hast described.”

“It will save us from sin, lady, but not from sorrow,” answered Rose; “and wherefore should we, with our eyes open, rush into circumstances where duty must war with inclination?” Why row against wind and tide, when you may as easily take advantage of the breeze?”

“Because the voyage of my life lies where winds and currents oppose me,” answered Eveline. “It is my fate, Rose.”

“Not unless you make it such by choice,” answered Rose. “Oh, could you but have seen the pale cheek, sunken eye, and dejected bearing of my poor mother! — I have said too much.”

“It was then your mother,” said her young lady, “of whose unhappy wedlock you have spoken?”

“It was — it was,” said Rose, bursting into tears. “I have exposed my own shame to save you from sorrow. Unhappy she was, though most guiltless — so unhappy, that the breach of the dike, and the inundation in which she perished, were, but for my sake, to her welcome as night to the weary labourer. She had a heart like yours, formed to love and be loved; and it would be doing honour to yonder proud Baron, to say he had such worth as my father’s. — Yet was she most unhappy. Oh! my sweet lady, be warned, and break off this ill-omened match!”

Eveline returned the pressure with which the affectionate girl, as she clung to her hand, enforced her well-meant advice, and then muttered with a profound sigh — “Rose, it is too late.”

“Never — never,” said Rose, looking eagerly round the room. “Where are those writing materials? — Let me bring Father Aldrovand, and instruct him of your pleasure — or, stay, the good father hath himself an eye on the splendours of the world which he thinks he has abandoned — he will be no safe secretary. — I will go myself to the Lord Constable — me his rank cannot dazzle, or his wealth bribe, or his power overawe. I will tell him he doth no knightly part towards you, to press his contract with your father in such an hour of helpless sorrow — no pious part, in delaying the execution of his vows for the purpose of marrying or giving in marriage — no honest part, to press himself on a maiden whose heart has not decided in his favour — no wise part, to marry one whom he must presently abandon, either to solitude, or to the dangers of a profligate court.”

“You have not courage for such an embassy, Rose,” said her mistress, sadly smiling through her tears at her youthful attendant’s zeal.

“Not courage for it! — and wherefore not? — Try me,” answered the Flemish maiden, in return. “I am neither Saracen nor Welshman — his lance and sword scare me not. I follow not his banner — his voice of command concerns me not. I could, with your leave, boldly tell him he is a selfish man, veiling with fair and honourable pretexts his pursuit of objects which concern his own pride and gratification, and founding high claims on having rendered the services which common humanity demanded. And all for what? — Forsooth the great De Lacy must have an heir to his noble house, and his fair nephew is not good enough to be his representative, because his mother was of Anglo-Saxon strain, and the real heir must be pure unmixed Norman; and for this, Lady Eveline Berenger, in the first bloom of youth, must be wedded to a man who might be her father, and who, after leaving her unprotected for years, will return in such guise as might beseem her grandfather!”

“Since he is thus scrupulous concerning purity of lineage,” said Eveline, “perhaps he may call to mind, what so good a herald as he is cannot fail to know — that I am of Saxon strain by my father’s mother.”

“Oh,” replied Rose, “he will forgive that blot in the heiress of the Garde Doloureuse.”

“Fie, Rose,” answered her mistress, “thou dost him wrong in taxing him with avarice.”

“Perhaps so,” answered Rose; “but he is undeniably ambitious; and Avarice, I have heard, is Ambition’s bastard brother, though Ambition be sometimes ashamed of the relationship.”

“You speak too boldly, damsel,” said Eveline; “and, while I acknowledge your affection, it becomes me to check your mode of expression.”

“Nay, take that tone, and I have done,” said Rose. —“To Eveline, whom I love, and who loves me, I can speak freely — but to the Lady of the Garde Doloureuse, the proud Norman damsel, (which when you choose to be you can be,) I can curtsy as low as my station demands, and speak as little truth as she cares to hear.”

“Thou art a wild but a kind girl,” said Eveline; “no one who did not know thee would think that soft and childish exterior covered such a soul of fire. Thy mother must indeed have been the being of feeling and passion you paint her; for thy father — nay, nay, never arm in his defence until he be attacked — I only meant to say, that his solid sense and sound judgment are his most distinguished qualities.”

“And I would you would avail yourself of them, lady,” said Rose.

“In fitting things I will; but he were rather an unmeet counsellor in that which we now treat of,” said Eveline.

“You mistake him,” answered Rose Flammock, “and underrate his value. Sound judgment is like to the graduated measuring-wand, which, though usually applied only to coarser cloths, will give with equal truth the dimensions of Indian silk, or of cloth of gold.”

“Well — well — this affair presses not instantly at least,” said the young lady. “Leave me now, Rose, and send Gillian the tirewoman hither — I have directions to give about the packing and removal of my wardrobe.”

“That Gillian the tirewoman hath been a mighty favourite of late,” said Rose; “time was when it was otherwise.”

“I like her manners as little as thou dost,” said Eveline; “but she is old Raoul’s wife — she was a sort of half favourite with my dear father — who, like other men, was perhaps taken by that very freedom which we think unseemly in persons of our sex; and then there is no other woman in the Castle that hath such skill in empacketing clothes without the risk of their being injured.”

“That last reason alone,” said Rose, smiling, “is, I admit, an irresistible pretension to favour, and Dame Gillian shall presently attend you. — But take my advice, lady — keep her to her bales and her mails, and let her not prate to you on what concerns her not.”

So saying, Rose left the apartment, and her young lady looked after her in silence — then murmured to herself —“Rose loves me truly; but she would willingly be more of the mistress than the maiden; and then she is somewhat jealous of every other person that approaches me. — It is strange, that I have not seen Damian de Lacy since my interview with the Constable. He anticipates, I suppose, the chance of his finding in me a severe aunt!”

But the domestics, who crowded for orders with reference to her removal early on the morrow, began now to divert the current of their lady’s thoughts from the consideration of her own particular situation, which, as the prospect presented nothing pleasant, with the elastic spirit of youth, she willingly postponed till farther leisure.

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