Quentin Durward, by Walter Scott

Chapter 19

The City

Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up

To any sudden act of mutiny.

JULIUS CAESAR

Separated from the Lady Isabelle, whose looks had been for so many days his loadstar, Quentin felt a strange vacancy and chillness of the heart, which he had not yet experienced in any of the vicissitudes to which his life had subjected him. No doubt the cessation of the close and unavoidable intercourse and intimacy betwixt them was the necessary consequence of the Countess’s having obtained a place of settled residence, for under what pretext could she, had she meditated such an impropriety, have had a gallant young squire such as Quentin in constant attendance upon her?

But the shock of the separation was not the more welcome that it seemed unavoidable, and the proud heart of Quentin swelled at finding he was parted with like an ordinary postilion, or an escort whose duty is discharged, while his eyes sympathised so far as to drop a secret tear or two over the ruins of all those airy castles, so many of which he had employed himself in constructing during their too interesting journey. He made a manly, but, at first, a vain effort to throw off this mental dejection, and so, yielding to the feelings he could not suppress, he sat him down in one of the deep recesses formed by a window which lighted the great Gothic hall of Schonwaldt, and there mused upon his hard fortune, which had not assigned him rank or wealth sufficient to prosecute his daring suit.

Quentin tried to dispel the sadness which overhung him by dispatching Charlet, one of the valets, with letters to the court of Louis, announcing the arrival of the Ladies of Croye at Liege. At length his natural buoyancy of temper returned, much excited by the title of an old romaunt 145 which had been just printed at Strasbourg, and which lay beside him in the window, the title of which set forth —

How the Squire of lowe degree Loved the King’s daughter of Hungarie. 146

While he was tracing the “letters blake” of the ditty so congenial to his own situation, Quentin was interrupted by a touch on the shoulder, and, looking up, beheld the Bohemian standing by him.

Hayraddin, never a welcome sight, was odious from his late treachery, and Quentin sternly asked him why he dared take the freedom to touch a Christian and a gentleman?

“Simply,” answered the Bohemian, “because I wished to know if the Christian gentleman had lost his feeling as well as his eyes and ears. I have stood speaking to you these five minutes, and you have stared on that scrap of yellow paper, as if it were a spell to turn you into a statue, and had already wrought half its purpose.”

“Well, what dost thou want? Speak, and begone!”

“I want what all men want, though few are satisfied with it,” said Hayraddin, “I want my due, ten crowns of gold for guiding the, ladies hither.”

“With what face darest thou ask any guerdon beyond my sparing thy worthless life?” said Durward, fiercely, “thou knowest that it was thy purpose to have betrayed them on the road.”

“But I did not betray them,” said Hayraddin, “if I had, I would have asked no guerdon from you or from them, but from him whom their keeping on the right hand side of the river might have benefited. The party that I have served is the party who must pay me.”

“Thy guerdon perish with thee, then, traitor,” said Quentin, telling out the money. “Get thee to the Boar of Ardennes, or to the devil! but keep hereafter out of my sight, lest I send thee thither before thy time.”

“The Boar of Ardennes!” repeated the Bohemian, with a stronger emotion of surprise than his features usually expressed — “it was then no vague guess — no general suspicion — which made you insist on changing the road? — Can it be — are there really in other lands arts of prophecy more sure than those of our wandering tribes? The willow tree under which we spoke could tell no tales. But no — no — no — dolt that I was! — I have it — I have it! — the willow by the brook near yonder convent — I saw you look towards it as you passed it, about half a mile from yon hive of drones — that could not indeed speak, but it might hide one who could hear! I will hold my councils in an open plain henceforth, not a bunch of thistles shall be near me for a Scot to shroud amongst. — Ha! ha! the Scot hath beat the Zingaro at his own subtle weapons. But know, Quentin Durward, that you have foiled me to the marring of thine own fortune. — Yes! the fortune I have told thee of, from the lines on thy hand, had been richly accomplished but for thine own obstinacy.”

“By Saint. Andrew,” said Quentin, “thy impudence makes me laugh in spite of myself. — How, or in what, should thy successful villainy have been of service to me? I heard, indeed, that you did stipulate to save my life, which condition your worthy allies would speedily have forgotten, had we once come to blows — but in what thy betrayal of these ladies could have served me, but by exposing me to death or captivity, is a matter beyond human brains to conjecture.”

“No matter thinking of it, then,” said Hayraddin, “for I mean still to surprise you with my gratitude. Had you kept back my hire, I should have held that we were quit, and had left you to your own foolish guidance. As it is, I remain your debtor for yonder matter on the banks of the Cher.”

“Methinks I have already taken out the payment in cursing and abusing thee,” said Quentin.

“Hard words, or kind ones,” said the Zingaro, “are but wind, which make no weight in the balance. Had you struck me, indeed, instead of threatening —”

“I am likely enough to take out payment in that way, if you provoke me longer.”

“I would not advise it,” said the Zingaro, “such payment, made by a rash hand, might exceed the debt, and unhappily leave a balance on your side, which I am not one to forget or forgive. And now farewell, but not for a long space — I go to bid adieu to the Ladies of Croye.”

“Thou?” said Quentin, in astonishment — “thou be admitted to the presence of the ladies, and here, where they are in a manner recluses under the protection of the Bishop’s sister, a noble canoness? It is impossible.”

“Marthon, however, waits to conduct me to their presence,” said the Zingaro, with a sneer, “and I must pray your forgiveness if I leave you something abruptly.”

He turned as if to depart, but instantly coming back, said, with a tone of deep and serious emphasis, “I know your hopes — they are daring, yet not vain if I aid them. I know your fears, they should teach prudence, not timidity. Every woman may be won. A count is but a nickname, which will befit Quentin as well as the other nickname of duke befits Charles, or that of king befits Louis.”

Ere Durward could reply, the Bohemian had left the hall. Quentin instantly followed, but, better acquainted than the Scot with the passages of the house, Hayraddin kept the advantage which he had gotten, and the pursuer lost sight of him as he descended a small back staircase. Still Durward followed, though without exact consciousness of his own purpose in doing so. The staircase terminated by a door opening into the alley of a garden, in which he again beheld the Zingaro hastening down a pleached walk.

On two sides, the garden was surrounded by the buildings of the castle — a huge old pile, partly castellated, and partly resembling an ecclesiastical building, on the other two sides, the enclosure was a high embattled wall. Crossing the alleys of the garden to another part of the building, where a postern door opened behind a large massive buttress, overgrown with ivy, Hayraddin looked back, and waved his hand in a signal of an exulting farewell to his follower, who saw that in effect the postern door was opened by Marthon, and that the vile Bohemian was admitted into the precincts, as he naturally concluded, of the apartment of the Countesses of Croye. Quentin bit his lips with indignation, and blamed himself severely that he had not made the ladies sensible of the full infamy of Hayraddin’s character, and acquainted with his machinations against their safety. The arrogating manner in which the Bohemian had promised to back his suit added to his anger and his disgust, and he felt as if even the hand of the Countess Isabelle would be profaned, were it possible to attain it by such patronage.

“But it is all a deception,” he said, “a turn of his base, juggling artifice. He has procured access to those ladies upon some false pretence, and with some mischievous intention. It is well I have learned where they lodge. I will watch Marthon, and solicit an interview with them, were it but to place them on their guard. It is hard that I must use artifice and brook delay, when such as he have admittance openly and without scruple. They shall find, however, that though I am excluded from their presence, Isabelle’s safety is the chief subject of my vigilance.”

While the young lover was thus meditating, an aged gentleman of the Bishop’s household approached him from the same door by which he had himself entered the garden, and made him aware, though with the greatest civility of manner, that the garden was private, and reserved only for the use of the Bishop and guests of the very highest distinction.

Quentin heard him repeat this information twice ere he put the proper construction upon it, and then starting as from a reverie, he bowed and hurried out of the garden, the official person following him all the way, and overwhelming him with formal apologies for the necessary discharge of his duty. Nay, so pertinacious was he in his attempts to remove the offence which he conceived Durward to have taken, that he offered to bestow his own company upon him, to contribute to his entertainment until Quentin, internally cursing his formal foppery, found no better way of escape, then pretending a desire of visiting the neighbouring city, and setting off thither at such a round pace as speedily subdued all desire in the gentleman usher to accompany him farther than the drawbridge. In a few minutes, Quentin was within the walls of the city of Liege, then one of the richest in Flanders, and of course in the world.

Melancholy, even love melancholy, is not so deeply seated, at least in minds of a manly and elastic character, as the soft enthusiasts who suffer under it are fond of believing. It yields to unexpected and striking impressions upon the senses, to change of place, to such scenes as create new trains of association, and to the influence of the busy hum of mankind. In a few minutes, Quentin’s attention was as much engrossed by the variety of objects presented in rapid succession by the busy streets of Liege, as if there had been neither a Countess Isabelle nor a Bohemian in the world.

The lofty houses — the stately, though narrow and gloomy streets — the splendid display of the richest goods and most gorgeous armour in the warehouses and shops around — the walks crowded by busy citizens of every description, passing and repassing with faces of careful importance or eager bustle — the huge wains, which transported to and fro the subjects of export and import, the former consisting of broadcloths and serge, arms of all kinds, nails and iron work, while the latter comprehended every article of use or luxury, intended either for the consumption of an opulent city, or received in barter, and destined to be transported elsewhere — all these objects combined to form an engrossing picture of wealth, bustle, and splendour, to which Quentin had been hitherto a stranger. He admired also the various streams and canals, drawn from and communicating with the Maes, which, traversing the city in various directions, offered to every quarter the commercial facilities of water carriage, and he failed not to hear a mass in the venerable old Church of Saint Lambert, said to have been founded in the eighth century.

It was upon leaving this place of worship that Quentin began to observe that he, who had been hitherto gazing on all around him with the eagerness of unrestrained curiosity, was himself the object of attention to several groups of substantial looking burghers, who seemed assembled to look upon him as he left the church, and amongst whom arose a buzz and whisper, which spread from one party to another, while the number of gazers continued to augment rapidly, and the eyes of each who added to it were eagerly directed to Quentin with a stare which expressed much interest and curiosity, mingled with a certain degree of respect.

At length he now formed the centre of a considerable crowd, which yet yielded before him while he continued to move forward, while those who followed or kept pace with him studiously avoided pressing on him, or impeding his motions. Yet his situation was too embarrassing to be long endured, without making some attempt to extricate himself and to obtain some explanation.

Quentin looked around him, and fixing upon a jolly, stout made, respectable man, whom, by his velvet cloak and gold chain, he concluded to be a burgher of eminence, and perhaps a magistrate, he asked him whether he saw anything particular in his appearance, to attract public attention in a degree so unusual? or whether it was the ordinary custom of the people of Liege thus to throng around strangers who chanced to visit their city?

“Surely not, good seignior,” answered the burgher, “the Liegeois are neither so idly curious as to practise such a custom, nor is there anything in your dress or appearance saving that which is most welcome to this city, and which our townsmen are both delighted to see and desirous to honour.”

“This sounds very polite, worthy sir,” said Quentin, “but, by the Cross of Saint Andrew, I cannot even guess at your meaning.”

“Your oath,” answered the merchant of Liege, “as well as your accent, convinces me that we are right in our conjecture.”

“By my patron Saint Quentin!” said Durward, “I am farther off from your meaning than ever.”

“There again now,” rejoined the Liegeois, looking, as he spoke, most provokingly, yet most civilly, politic and intelligent.

“It is surely not for us to see that which you, worthy seignior, deem it proper to conceal: But why swear by Saint Quentin, if you would not have me construe your meaning? — We know the good Count of Saint Paul, who lies there at present, wishes well to our cause.”

“On my life,” said Quentin, “you are under some delusion. — I know nothing of Saint Paul.”

“Nay, we question you not,” said the burgher, “although, hark ye — I say, hark in your ear — my name is Pavillon.”

“And what is my business with that, Seignior Pavillon?” said Quentin.

“Nay, nothing — only methinks it might satisfy you that I am trustworthy. — Here is my colleague Rouslaer, too.”

Rouslaer advanced, a corpulent dignitary, whose fair round belly, like a battering ram, “did shake the press before him,” and who, whispering caution to his neighbour, said in a tone of rebuke, “You forget, good colleague, the place is too open — the seignior will retire to your house or mine, and drink a glass of Rhenish and sugar, and then we shall hear more of our good friend and ally, whom we love with all our honest Flemish hearts.”

“I have no news for any of you,” said Quentin, impatiently, “I will drink no Rhenish, and I only desire of you, as men of account and respectability, to disperse this idle crowd, and allow a stranger to leave your town as quietly as he came into it.”

“Nay, then, sir,” said Rouslaer, “since you stand so much on your incognito, and with us, too, who are men of confidence, let me ask you roundly, wherefore wear you the badge of your company if you would remain unknown in Liege.”

“What badge, and what order?” said Quentin, “you look like reverend men and grave citizens, yet, on my soul you are either mad yourselves, or desire to drive me so.”

“Sapperment!” said the other burgher, “this youth would make Saint Lambert swear! Why, who wear bonnets with the Saint Andrew’s cross and fleur de lys, save the Scottish Archers of King Louis’s Guards?”

“And supposing I am an Archer of the Scottish Guard, why should you make a wonder of my wearing the badge of my company?” said Quentin impatiently.

“He has avowed it, he has avowed it!” said Rouslaer and Pavillon, turning to the assembled burghers in attitudes of congratulation, with waving arms, extended palms, and large round faces radiating with glee. “He hath avowed himself an Archer of Louis’s Guard — of Louis, the guardian of the liberties of Liege!”

A general shout and cry now arose from the multitude, in which were mingled the various sounds of “Long live Louis of France! Long live the Scottish Guard! Long live the valiant Archer! Our liberties, our privileges, or death! No imposts! Long live the valiant Boar of Ardennes! Down with Charles of Burgundy! and confusion to Bourbon and his bishopric!” Half stunned by the noise, which began anew in one quarter so soon as it ceased in another, rising and falling like the billows of the sea, and augmented by thousands of voices which roared in chorus from distant streets and market places, Quentin had yet time to form a conjecture concerning the meaning of the tumult, and a plan for regulating his own conduct:

He had forgotten that, after his skirmish with Orleans and Dunois, one of his comrades had, at Lord Crawford’s command, replaced the morion, cloven by the sword of the latter, with one of the steel lined bonnets which formed a part of the proper and well known equipment of the Scottish Guards. That an individual of this body, which was always kept very close to Louis’s person, should have appeared in the streets of a city whose civil discontents had been aggravated by the agents of that King, was naturally enough interpreted by the burghers of Liege into a determination on the part of Louis openly to assist their cause, and the apparition of an individual archer was magnified into a pledge of immediate and active support from Louis — nay, into an assurance that his auxiliary forces were actually entering the town at one or other, though no one could distinctly tell which, of the city gates.

To remove a conviction so generally adopted, Quentin easily saw was impossible — nay, that any attempt to undeceive men so obstinately prepossessed in their belief, would be attended with personal risk, which, in this case, he saw little use of incurring. He therefore hastily resolved to temporize, and to get free the best way he could, and this resolution he formed while they were in the act of conducting him to the Stadthouse 147, where the notables of the town were fast assembling, in order to hear the tidings which he was presumed to have brought, and to regale him with a splendid banquet.

In spite of all his opposition, which was set down to modesty, he was on every side surrounded by the donors of popularity, the unsavoury tide of which now floated around him. His two burgomaster friends, who were Schoppen, or Syndics of the city, had made fast both his arms. Before him, Nikkel Blok, the chief of the butchers’ incorporation, hastily summoned from his office in the shambles, brandished his death doing axe, yet smeared with blood and brains, with a courage and grace which brantwein 148 alone could inspire. Behind him came the tall, lean, rawboned, very drunk, and very patriotic figure of Claus Hammerlein, president of the mystery of the workers in iron, and followed by at least a thousand unwashed artificers of his class. Weavers, nailers, ropemakers, artisans of every degree and calling, thronged forward to join the procession from every gloomy and narrow street. Escape seemed a desperate and impossible adventure.

In this dilemma, Quentin appealed to Rouslaer, who held one arm, and to Pavillon, who had secured the other, and who were conducting him forward at the head of the ovation, of which he had so unexpectedly become the principal object. He hastily acquainted them with his having thoughtlessly adopted the bonnet of the Scottish Guard, on an accident having occurred to the headpiece in which he had proposed to travel, he regretted that, owing to this circumstance, and the sharp wit with which the Liegeois drew the natural inference of his quality, and the purpose of his visit, these things had been publicly discovered, and he intimated that, if just now conducted to the Stadthouse, he might unhappily feel himself under the necessity of communicating to the assembled notables certain matters which he was directed by the King to reserve for the private ears of his excellent gossips, Meinheers Rouslaer and Pavillon of Liege.

This last hint operated like magic on the two citizens, who were the most distinguished leaders of the insurgent burghers, and were, like all demagogues of their kind, desirous to keep everything within their own management, so far as possible. They therefore hastily agreed that Quentin should leave the town for the time, and return by night to Liege, and converse with them privately in the house of Rouslaer, near the gate opposite to Schonwaldt. Quentin hesitated not to tell them that he was at present residing in the Bishop’s palace, under pretence of bearing despatches from the French Court, although his real errand was, as they had well conjectured, designed to the citizens of Liege, and this tortuous mode of conducting a communication as well as the character and rank of the person to whom it was supposed to be intrusted, was so consonant to the character of Louis, as neither to excite doubt nor surprise.

Almost immediately after this eclaircissernent 149 was completed, the progress of the multitude brought them opposite to the door of Pavillon’s house, in one of the principal streets, but which communicated from behind with the Maes by means of a garden, as well as an extensive manufactory of tan pits, and other conveniences for dressing hides, for the patriotic burgher was a felt dresser or currier.

It was natural that Pavillon should desire to do the honours of his dwelling to the supposed envoy of Louis, and a halt before his house excited no surprise on the part of the multitude, who, on the contrary, greeted Meinheer Pavillon with a loud vivat 150, as he ushered in his distinguished guest. Quentin speedily laid aside his remarkable bonnet for the cap of a felt maker, and flung a cloak over his other apparel. Pavillon then furnished him with a passport to pass the gates of the city, and to return by night or day as should suit his convenience, and lastly, committed him to the charge of his daughter, a fair and smiling Flemish lass, with instructions how he was to be disposed of, while he himself hastened back to his colleague to amuse their friends at the Stadthouse with the best excuses which they could invent for the disappearance of King Louis’s envoy. We cannot, as the footman says in the play, recollect the exact nature of the lie which the bell wethers told the flock, but no task is so easy as that of imposing upon a multitude whose eager prejudices have more than half done the business ere the impostor has spoken a word.

The worthy burgess was no sooner gone than his plump daughter, Trudchen, with many a blush, and many a wreathed smile, which suited very prettily with lips like cherries, laughing blue eyes, and a skin transparently pure — escorted the handsome stranger through the pleached alleys of the Sieur Pavillon’s garden, down to the water side, and there saw him fairly embarked in a boat, which two stout Flemings, in their trunk hose, fur caps, and many buttoned jerkins, had got in readiness with as much haste as their low country nature would permit.

As the pretty Trudchen spoke nothing but German, Quentin — no disparagement to his loyal affection to the Countess of Croye — could only express his thanks by a kiss on those same cherry lips, which was very gallantly bestowed, and accepted with all modest gratitude, for gallants with a form and face like our Scottish Archer were not of everyday occurrence among the bourgeoisie of Liege 151. 152

While the boat was rowed up the sluggish waters of the Maes, and passed the defences of the town, Quentin had time enough to reflect what account he ought to give of his adventure in Liege, when he returned to the Bishop’s palace of Schonwaldt, and disdaining alike to betray any person who had reposed confidence in him, although by misapprehension, or to conceal from the hospitable Prelate the mutinous state of his capital, he resolved to confine himself to so general an account as might put the Bishop upon his guard, while it should point out no individual to his vengeance.

He was landed from the boat, within half a mile of the castle, and rewarded his rowers with a guilder, to their great satisfaction. Yet, short as was the space which divided him from Schonwaldt, the castle bell had tolled for dinner, and Quentin found, moreover, that he had approached the castle on a different side from that of the principal entrance, and that to go round would throw his arrival considerably later. He therefore made straight towards the side that was nearest to him, as he discerned that it presented an embattled wall, probably that of the little garden already noticed, with a postern opening upon the moat, and a skiff moored by the postern, which might serve, he thought, upon summons, to pass him over. As he approached, in hopes to make his entrance this way, the postern opened, a man came out, and, jumping into the boat, made his way to the farther side of the moat, and then, with a long pole, pushed the skiff back towards the place where he had embarked. As he came near, Quentin discerned that this person was the Bohemian, who, avoiding him, as was not difficult, held a different path towards Liege, and was presently out of his ken.

Here was a new subject for meditation. Had this vagabond heathen been all this while with the Ladies of Croye, and for what purpose should they so far have graced him with their presence? Tormented with this thought, Durward became doubly determined to seek an explanation with them, for the purpose at once of laying bare the treachery of Hayraddin, and announcing to them the perilous state in which their protector, the Bishop, was placed, by the mutinous state of his town of Liege.

As Quentin thus resolved, he entered the castle by the principal gate, and found that part of the family who assembled for dinner in the great hall, including the Bishop’s attendant clergy, officers of the household, and strangers below the rank of the very first nobility, were already placed at their meal. A seat at the upper end of the board had, however, been reserved beside the Bishop’s domestic chaplain, who welcomed the stranger with the old college jest of Sero venientibus ossa 153, while he took care so to load his plate with dainties, as to take away all appearance of that tendency to reality, which, in Quentin’s country, is said to render a joke either no joke, or at best an unpalatable one 154.

In vindicating himself from the suspicion of ill breeding, Quentin briefly described the tumult which had been occasioned in the city by his being discovered to belong to the Scottish Archer Guard of Louis, and endeavoured to give a ludicrous turn to the narrative by saying that he had been with difficulty extricated by a fat burgher of Liege and his pretty daughter.

But the company were too much interested in the story to taste the jest. All operations of the table were suspended while Quentin told his tale, and when he had ceased, there was a solemn pause, which was only broken by the Majordomo’s saying in a low and melancholy tone, “I would to God that we saw those hundred lances of Burgundy!”

“Why should you think so deeply on it?” said Quentin. “You have many soldiers here, whose trade is arms, and your antagonists are only the rabble of a disorderly city, who will fly before the first flutter of a banner with men at arms arrayed beneath it.”

“You do not know the men of Liege,” said the Chaplain, “of whom it may be said, that, not even excepting those of Ghent, they are at once the fiercest and the most untameable in Europe. Twice has the Duke of Burgundy chastised them for their repeated revolts against their Bishop, and twice hath he suppressed them with much severity, abridged their privileges, taken away their banners, and established rights and claims to himself which were not before competent over a free city of the Empire. — Nay, the last time he defeated them with much slaughter near Saint Tron, where Liege lost nearly six thousand men, what with the sword, what with those drowned in the flight, and thereafter, to disable them from farther mutiny, Duke Charles refused to enter at any of the gates which they had surrendered, but, beating to the ground forty cubits’ breadth of their city wall, marched into Liege as a conqueror with visor closed, and lance in rest, at the head of his chivalry, by the breach which he had made. Nay, well were the Liegeois then assured, that, but for the intercession of his father, Duke Philip the Good, this Charles, then called Count of Charalois, would have given their town up to spoil. And yet, with all these fresh recollections, with their breaches unrepaired, and their arsenals scarcely supplied, the sight of an archer’s bonnet is sufficient again to stir them to uproar. May God amend all! but I fear there will be bloody work between so fierce a population and so fiery a Sovereign, and I would my excellent and kind master had a see of lesser dignity and more safety, for his mitre is lined with thorns instead of ermine. This much I say to you, Seignior Stranger, to make you aware that, if your affairs detain you not at Schonwaldt, it is a place from which each man of sense should depart as speedily as possible. I apprehend that your ladies are of the same opinion, for one of the grooms who attended them on the route has been sent back by them to the Court of France with letters, which doubtless are intended to announce their going in search of a safer asylum.”

145 a poetical romance

146 An old English poem reprinted in Hazlitt’s Remains of Early Popular Poetry of England.

147 town house

148 spirits

149 explanation

150 long live

151 the French middle class. The term has come to mean the middle class of any country, especially those engaged in trade

152 The adventure of Quentin at Liege may be thought overstrained, yet it is extraordinary what slight circumstances will influence the public mind in a moment of doubt and uncertainty. Most readers must remember that, when the Dutch were on the point of rising against the French yoke, their zeal for liberation received a strong impulse from the landing of a person in a British volunteer uniform, whose presence, though that of a private individual, was received as a guarantee of succours from England. S.

153 the bones for those who come late

154 “A sooth boord (true joke) is no boord,” says the Scot. S.

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