Now bid me run,
And I will strive with things impossible;
Yea, get the better of them.
Set on your foot;
And, with a heart new fired, I follow you,
To do I know not what.
In spite of a mixture of joy and fear, doubt, anxiety, and other agitating passions, the exhausting fatigues of the preceding day were powerful enough to throw the young Scot into a deep and profound repose, which lasted until late on the day following, when his worthy host entered the apartment with looks of care on his brow.
He seated himself by his guest’s bedside, and began a long and complicated discourse upon the domestic duties of a married life, and especially upon the awful power and right supremacy which it became married men to sustain in all differences of opinion with their wives. Quentin listened with some anxiety. He knew that husbands, like other belligerent powers, were sometimes disposed to sing Te Deum 168, rather to conceal a defeat than to celebrate a victory, and he hastened to probe the matter more closely, by hoping their arrival had been attended with no inconvenience to the good lady of the household.
“Inconvenience! — no,” answered the Burgomaster. — “No woman can be less taken unawares than Mother Mabel — always happy to see her friends — always a clean lodging and a handsome meal ready for them, with God’s blessing on bed and board. — No woman on earth so hospitable — only ’tis pity her temper is something particular.”
“Our residence here is disagreeable to her, in short?” said the Scot, starting out of bed, and beginning to dress himself hastily. “Were I but sure the Lady Isabelle were fit for travel after the horrors of the last night, we would not increase the offence by remaining here an instant longer.”
“Nay,” said Pavillon, “that is just what the young lady herself said to Mother Mabel, and truly I wish you saw the colour that came to her face as she said it — a milkmaid that has skated five miles to market against the frost wind is a lily compared to it — I do not wonder Mother Mabel may be a little jealous, poor dear soul.”
“Has the Lady Isabelle then left her apartment?” said the youth, continuing his toilette operations with more dispatch than before.
“Yes,” replied Pavillon, “and she expects your approach with much impatience, to determine which way you shall go since you are both determined on going. But I trust you will tarry breakfast?”
“Why did you not tell me this sooner?” said Durward, impatiently.
“Softly — softly,” said the Syndic, “I have told it you too soon, I think, if it puts you into such a hasty fluster. Now I have some more matter for your ear, if I saw you had some patience to listen to me.”
“Speak it, worthy sir, as soon and as fast as you can — I listen devoutly.”
“Well,” resumed the Burgomaster, “I have but one word to say, and that is that Trudchen, who is as sorry to part with yonder pretty lady as if she had been some sister of hers, wants you to take some other disguise, for there is word in the town that the Ladies of Croye travel the country in pilgrim’s dresses, attended by a French life guardsman of the Scottish Archers, and it is said one of them was brought into Schonwaldt last night by a Bohemian after we had left it, and it was said still farther, that this same Bohemian had assured William de la Marck that you were charged with no message either to him or to the good people of Liege, and that you had stolen away the young Countess, and travelled with her as her paramour. And all this news hath come from Schonwaldt this morning, and it has been told to us and the other councillors, who know not well what to advise, for though our own opinion is that William de la Marck has been a thought too rough both with the Bishop and with ourselves, yet there is a great belief that he is a good natured soul at bottom — that is, when he is sober — and that he is the only leader in the world to command us against the Duke of Burgundy, and, in truth, as matters stand, it is partly my own mind that we must keep fair with him, for we have gone too far to draw back.”
“Your daughter advises well,” said Quentin Durward, abstaining from reproaches or exhortations, which he saw would be alike unavailing to sway a resolution which had been adopted by the worthy magistrate in compliance at once with the prejudices of his party and the inclination of his wife.
“Your daughter counsels well. — We must part in disguise, and that instantly. We may, I trust, rely upon you for the necessary secrecy, and for the means of escape?”
“With all my heart — with all my heart,” said the honest citizen, who, not much satisfied with the dignity of his own conduct, was eager to find some mode of atonement. “I cannot but remember that I owed you my life last night, both for unclasping that accursed steel doublet, and helping me through the other scrape, which was worse, for yonder Boar and his brood look more like devils than men. So I will be true to you as blade to haft, as our cutlers say, who are the best in the whole world. Nay, now you are ready, come this way — you shall see how far I can trust you.”
The Syndic led him from the chamber in which he had slept to his own counting room, in which he transacted his affairs of business, and after bolting the door, and casting a piercing and careful eye around him, he opened a concealed and vaulted closet behind the tapestry, in which stood more than one iron chest. He proceeded to open one which was full of guilders, and placed it at Quentin’s discretion to take whatever sum he might think necessary for his companion’s expenses and his own.
As the money with which Quentin was furnished on leaving Plessis was now nearly expended, he hesitated not to accept the sum of two hundred guilders, and by doing so took a great weight from the mind of Pavillon, who considered the desperate transaction in which he thus voluntarily became the creditor as an atonement for the breach of hospitality which various considerations in a great measure compelled him to commit.
Having carefully locked his treasure chamber, the wealthy Fleming next conveyed his guest to the parlour, where, in full possession of her activity of mind and body, though pale from the scenes of the preceding night, he found the Countess attired in the fashion of a Flemish maiden of the middling class. No other was present excepting Trudchen, who was sedulously employed in completing the Countess’s dress, and instructing her how to bear herself. She extended her hand to him, which, when he had reverently kissed, she said to him, “Seignior Quentin, we must leave our friends here unless I would bring on them a part of the misery which has pursued me ever since my father’s death. You must change your dress and go with me, unless you also are tired of befriending a being so unfortunate.”
“I! — I tired of being your attendant! — To the end of the earth will I guard you! But you — you yourself — are you equal to the task you undertake! — Can you, after the terrors of last night”
“Do not recall them to my memory,” answered the Countess, “I remember but the confusion of a horrid dream. — Has the excellent Bishop escaped?”
“I trust he is in freedom,” said Quentin, making a sign to Pavillon, who seemed about to enter on the dreadful narrative, to be silent.
“Is it possible for us to rejoin him? — Hath he gathered any power?” said the lady.
“His only hopes are in Heaven,” said the Scot, “but wherever you wish to go, I stand by your side, a determined guide and guard.”
“We will consider,” said Isabelle, and after a moment’s pause, she added, “A convent would be my choice, but that I fear it would prove a weak defence against those who pursue me.”
“Hem! hem!” said the Syndic, “I could not well recommend a convent within the district of Liege, because the Boar of Ardennes, though in the main a brave leader, a trusty confederate, and a well wisher to our city, has, nevertheless, rough humours, and payeth, on the whole, little regard to cloisters, convents, nunneries, and the like. Men say that there are a score of nuns — that is, such as were nuns — who march always with his company.”
“Get yourself in readiness hastily, Seignior Durward,” said Isabelle, interrupting this detail, “since to your faith I must needs commit myself.”
No sooner had the Syndic and Quentin left the room than Isabelle began to ask of Gertrude various questions concerning the roads, and so forth, with such clearness of spirit and pertinence, that the latter could not help exclaiming, “Lady, I wonder at you! — I have heard of masculine firmness, but yours appears to me more than belongs to humanity.”
“Necessity,” answered the Countess, — “necessity, my friend, is the mother of courage, as of invention. No long time since, I might have fainted when I saw a drop of blood shed from a trifling cut — I have since seen life blood flow around me, I may say, in waves, yet I have retained my senses and my self possession. — Do not think it was an easy task,” she added, laying on Gertrude’s arm a trembling hand, although she still spoke with a firm voice, “the little world within me is like a garrison besieged by a thousand foes, whom nothing but the most determined resolution can keep from storming it on every hand, and at every moment. Were my situation one whit less perilous than it is — were I not sensible that my only chance to escape a fate more horrible than death is to retain my recollection and self possession — Gertrude, I would at this moment throw myself into your arms, and relieve my bursting bosom by such a transport of tears and agony of terror as never rushed from a breaking heart.”
“Do not do so, lady!” said the sympathizing Fleming, “take courage, tell your beads, throw yourself on the care of Heaven, and surely, if ever Heaven sent a deliverer to one ready to perish, that bold and adventurous young gentleman must be designed for yours. There is one, too,” she added, blushing deeply, “in whom I have some interest. Say nothing to my father, but I have ordered my bachelor, Hans Glover, to wait for you at the eastern gate, and never to see my face more, unless he brings word that he has guided you safe from the territory.”
To kiss her tenderly was the only way in which the young Countess could express her thanks to the frank and kind hearted city maiden, who returned the embrace affectionately, and added, with a smile, “Nay, if two maidens and their devoted bachelors cannot succeed in a disguise and an escape, the world is changed from what I am told it wont to be.”
A part of this speech again called the colour into the Countess’s pale cheeks, which was not lessened by Quentin’s sudden appearance. He entered completely attired as a Flemish boor of the better class, in the holyday suit of Peter, who expressed his interest in the young Scot by the readiness with which he parted with it for his use, and swore, at the same time, that, were he to be curried and tugged worse than ever was bullock’s hide, they should make nothing out of him, to the betraying of the young folks. Two stout horses had been provided by the activity of Mother Mabel, who really desired the Countess and her attendant no harm, so that she could make her own house and family clear of the dangers which might attend upon harbouring them. She beheld them mount and go off with great satisfaction, after telling them that they would find their way to the east gate by keeping their eye on Peter, who was to walk in that direction as their guide, but without holding any visible communication with them. The instant her guests had departed, Mother Mabel took the opportunity to read a long practical lecture to Trudchen upon the folly of reading romances, whereby the flaunting ladies of the Court were grown so bold and venturous, that, instead of applying to learn some honest housewifery, they must ride, forsooth, a-damsel erranting through the country, with no better attendant than some idle squire, debauched page, or rake belly archer from foreign parts, to the great danger of their health, the impoverishing of their substance, and the irreparable prejudice of their reputation. All this Gertrude heard in silence, and without reply, but, considering her character, it might be doubted whether she derived from it the practical inference which it was her mother’s purpose to enforce. Meantime, the travellers had gained the eastern gate of the city, traversing crowds of people, who were fortunately too much busied in the political events and rumours of the hour to give any attention to a couple who had so little to render their appearance remarkable. They passed the guards in virtue of a permission obtained for them by Pavillon, but in the name of his colleague Rouslaer, and they took leave of Peter Geislaer with a friendly though brief exchange of good wishes on either side.
Immediately afterwards, they were joined by a stout young man, riding a good gray horse, who presently made himself known as Hans Glover, the bachelor of Trudchen Pavillon. He was a young fellow with a good Flemish countenance — not, indeed, of the most intellectual cast, but arguing more hilarity and good humour than wit, and, as the Countess could not help thinking, scarce worthy to be bachelor to the generous Trudchen. He seemed, however, fully desirous to second the views which she had formed in their favour, for, saluting them respectfully, he asked of the Countess, in Flemish, on which road she desired to be conducted.
“Guide me,” said she, “towards the nearest town on the frontiers of Brabant.”
“You have then settled the end and object of your journey,” said Quentin, approaching his horse to that of Isabelle, and speaking French, which their guide did not understand.
“Surely,” replied the young lady, “for, situated as I now am, it must be of no small detriment to me if I were to prolong a journey in my present circumstances, even though the termination should be a rigorous prison.”
“A prison,” said Quentin.
“Yes, my friend, a prison, but I will take care that you shall not share it.”
“Do not talk — do not think of me,” said Quentin. “Saw I you but safe, my own concerns are little worth minding.”
“Do not speak so loud,” said the Lady Isabelle, “you will surprise our guide — you see he has already rode on before us,” — for, in truth, the good natured Fleming, doing as he desired to be done by, had removed from them the constraint of a third person, upon Quentin’s first motion towards the lady.
“Yes,” she continued, when she noticed they were free from observation, “to you, my friend, my protector — why should I be ashamed to call you what Heaven has made you to me? — to you it is my duty to say that my resolution is taken to return to my native country, and to throw myself on the mercy of the Duke of Burgundy. It was mistaken, though well meant advice, which induced me ever to withdraw from his protection, and place myself under that of the crafty and false Louis of France.”
“And you resolve to become the bride, then, of the Count of Campobasso, the unworthy favourite of Charles?”
Thus spoke Quentin, with a voice in which internal agony struggled with his desire to assume an indifferent tone, like that of the poor condemned criminal, when, affecting a firmness which he is far from feeling, he asks if the death warrant be arrived.
“No, Durward, no,” said the Lady Isabelle, sitting up erect in her saddle, “to that hated condition all Burgundy’s power shall not sink a daughter of the House of Croye. Burgundy may seize on my lands and fiefs, he may imprison my person in a convent, but that is the worst I have to expect, and worse than that I will endure ere I give my hand to Campobasso.”
“The worst?” said Quentin, “and what worse can there be than plunder and imprisonment? — Oh, think, while you have God’s free air around you, and one by your side who will hazard life to conduct you to England, to Germany, even to Scotland, in all of which you shall find generous protectors. —— Oh, while this is the case, do not resolve so rashly to abandon the means of liberty, the best gift that Heaven gives! — Oh, well sang a poet of my own land —
“Ah, freedom is a noble thing —
Freedom makes men to have liking —
Freedom the zest to pleasure gives —
He lives at ease who freely lives.
Grief, sickness, poortith 169, want, are all
Summ’d up within the name of thrall.” 170
She listened with a melancholy smile to her guide’s tirade in praise of liberty, and then answered, after a moment’s pause. “Freedom is for man alone — woman must ever seek a protector, since nature made her incapable to defend herself. And where am I to find one? — In that voluptuary Edward of England — in the inebriated Wenceslaus of Germany — in Scotland? — Ah, Durward, were I your sister, and could you promise me shelter in some of those mountain glens which you love to describe where, for charity, or for the few jewels I have preserved, I might lead an unharrassed life, and forget the lot I was born to — could you promise me the protection of some honoured matron of the land — of some baron whose heart was as true as his sword — that were indeed a prospect, for which it were worth the risk of farther censure to wander farther and wider.”
There was a faltering tenderness of voice with which the Countess Isabelle made this admission that at once filled Quentin with a sensation of joy, and cut him to the very heart. He hesitated a moment ere he made an answer, hastily reviewing in his mind the possibility there might be that he could procure her shelter in Scotland, but the melancholy truth rushed on him that it would be alike base and cruel to point out to her a course which he had not the most distant power or means to render safe.
“Lady,” he said at last, “I should act foully against my honour and oath of chivalry, did I suffer you to ground any plan upon the thoughts that I have the power in Scotland to afford you other protection than that of the poor arm which is now by your side. I scarce know that my blood flows in the veins of an individual who now lives in my native land. The Knight of Innerquharity stormed our Castle at midnight, and cut off all that belonged to my name. Were I again in Scotland, our feudal enemies are numerous and powerful, I single and weak, and even had the King a desire to do me justice, he dared not, for the sake of redressing the wrongs of a poor individual, provoke a chief who rides with five hundred horse.”
“Alas!” said the Countess, “there is then no corner of the world safe from oppression, since it rages as unrestrained amongst those wild hills which afford so few objects to covet as in our rich and abundant lowlands!”
“It is a sad truth, and I dare not deny it,” said the Scot, “that for little more than the pleasure of revenge, and the lust of bloodshed, our hostile clans do the work of executioners on each other, and Ogilvies and the like act the same scenes in Scotland as De la Marck and his robbers do in this country.”
“No more of Scotland, then,” said Isabelle, with a tone of indifference, either real or affected — “no more of Scotland, — which indeed I mentioned but in jest, to see if you really dared to recommend to me, as a place of rest, the most distracted kingdom in Europe. It was but a trial of your sincerity, which I rejoice to see may be relied on, even when your partialities are most strongly excited. So, once more, I will think of no other protection than can be afforded by the first honourable baron holding of Duke Charles, to whom I am determined to render myself.”
“And why not rather betake yourself to your own estates, and to your own strong castle, as you designed when at Tours?” said Quentin. “Why not call around you the vassals of your father, and make treaty with Burgundy, rather than surrender yourself to him? Surely there must be many a bold heart that would fight in your cause, and I know at least of one who would willingly lay down his life to give example.”
“Alas,” said the Countess, “that scheme, the suggestion of the crafty Louis, and, like all which he ever suggested, designed more for his advantage than for mine, has become practicable, since it was betrayed to Burgundy by the double traitor Zamet Hayraddin. My kinsman was then imprisoned, and my houses garrisoned. Any attempt of mine would but expose my dependents to the vengeance of Duke Charles, and why should I occasion more bloodshed than has already taken place on so worthless an account? No. I will submit myself to my Sovereign as a dutiful vassal, in all which shall leave my personal freedom of choice uninfringed, the rather that I trust my kinswoman, the Countess Hameline, who first counselled, and indeed urged my flight, has already taken this wise and honourable step.”
“Your kinswoman!” repeated Quentin, awakened to recollections to which the young Countess was a stranger, and which the rapid succession of perilous and stirring events had, as matters of nearer concern, in fact banished from his memory.
“Ay — my aunt — the Countess Hameline of Croye — know you aught of her?” said the Countess Isabelle. “I trust she is now under the protection of the Burgundian banner. You are silent. Know you aught of her?”
The last question, urged in a tone of the most anxious inquiry, obliged Quentin to give some account of what he knew of the Countess’s fate. He mentioned that he had been summoned to attend her in a flight from Liege, which he had no doubt the Lady Isabelle would be partaker in — he mentioned the discovery that had been made after they had gained the forest — and finally, he told his own return to the castle, and the circumstances in which he found it. But he said nothing of the views with which it was plain the Lady Hameline had left the Castle of Schonwaldt, and as little about the floating report of her having fallen into the hands of William de la Marck. Delicacy prevented his even hinting at the one, and regard for the feelings of his companion at a moment when strength and exertion were most demanded of her, prevented him from alluding to the latter, which had, besides, only reached him as a mere rumour.
This tale, though abridged of those important particulars, made a strong impression on the Countess Isabelle, who, after riding some time in silence, said at last, with a tone of cold displeasure, “And so you abandoned my unfortunate relative in a wild forest, at the mercy of a vile Bohemian and a traitorous waiting woman? — Poor kinswoman, thou wert wont to praise this youth’s good faith!”
“Had I not done so, madam.” said Quentin, not unreasonably offended at the turn thus given to his gallantry, “what had been the fate of one to whose service I was far more devotedly bound? Had I not left the Countess Hameline of Croye to the charge of those whom she had herself selected as counsellors and advisers, the Countess Isabelle had been ere now the bride of William de la Marck, the Wild Boar of Ardennes.”
“You are right,” said the Countess Isabelle, in her usual manner, “and I, who have the advantage of your unhesitating devotion, have done you foul and ungrateful wrong. But oh, my unhappy kinswoman! and the wretch Marthon, who enjoyed so much of her confidence, and deserved it so little — it was she that introduced to my kinswoman the wretched Zamet and Hayraddin Maugrabin, who, by their pretended knowledge of soothsaying and astrology, obtained a great ascendancy over her mind, it was she who, strengthening their predictions, encouraged her in — I know not what to call them — delusions concerning matches and lovers, which my kinswoman’s age rendered ungraceful and improbable. I doubt not that, from the beginning, we had been surrounded by these snares by Louis of France, in order to determine us to take refuge at his Court, or rather to put ourselves into his power, after which rash act on our part, how unkingly, unknightly, ignobly, ungentlemanlike, he hath conducted himself towards us, you, Quentin Durward, can bear witness. But, alas! my kinswoman — what think you will be her fate?”
Endeavouring to inspire hopes which he scarce felt, Durward answered that the avarice of these people was stronger than any other passion, that Marthon, even when he left them, seemed to act rather as the Lady Hameline’s protectress, and in fine, that it was difficult to conceive any object these wretches could accomplish by the ill usage or murder of the Countess, whereas they might be gainers by treating her well, and putting her to ransom.
To lead the Countess Isabelle’s thoughts from this melancholy subject, Quentin frankly told her the treachery of the Maugrabin, which he had discovered in the night quarter near Namur, and which appeared the result of an agreement betwixt the King and William de la Marck. Isabelle shuddered with horror, and then recovering herself said, “I am ashamed, and I have sinned in permitting myself so far to doubt of the saints’ protection, as for an instant to have deemed possible the accomplishment of a scheme so utterly cruel, base, and dishonourable, while there are pitying eyes in Heaven to look down on human miseries. It is not a thing to be thought of with fear or abhorrence, but to be rejected as such a piece of incredible treachery and villainy, as it were atheism to believe could ever be successful. But I now see plainly why that hypocritical Marthon often seemed to foster every seed of petty jealousy or discontent betwixt my poor kinswoman and myself, whilst she always mixed with flattery, addressed to the individual who was present, whatever could prejudice her against her absent kinswoman. Yet never did I dream she could have proceeded so far as to have caused my once affectionate kinswoman to have left me behind in the perils of Schonwaldt, while she made her own escape.”
“Did the Lady Hameline not mention to you, then,” said Quentin, “her intended flight?”
“No,” replied the Countess, “but she alluded to some communication which Marthon was to make to me. To say truth, my poor kinswoman’s head was so turned by the mysterious jargon of the miserable Hayraddin, whom that day she had admitted to a long and secret conference, and she threw out so many strange hints that — that — in short, I cared not to press on her, when in that humour, for any explanation. Yet it was cruel to leave me behind her.”
“I will excuse the Lady Hameline from intending such unkindness,” said Quentin, “for such was the agitation of the moment, and the darkness of the hour, that I believe the Lady Hameline as certainly conceived herself accompanied by her niece, as I at the same time, deceived by Marthon’s dress and demeanour, supposed I was in the company of both the Ladies of Croye: and of her especially,” he added, with a low but determined voice, “without whom the wealth of worlds would not have tempted me to leave.”
Isabelle stooped her head forward, and seemed scarce to hear the emphasis with which Quentin had spoken. But she turned her face to him again when he began to speak of the policy of Louis, and, it was not difficult for them, by mutual communication, to ascertain that the Bohemian brothers, with their accomplice Marthon, had been the agents of that crafty monarch, although Zamet, the elder of them, with a perfidy peculiar to his race, had attempted to play a double game, and had been punished accordingly. In the same humour of mutual confidence, and forgetting the singularity of their own situation, as well as the perils of the road, the travellers pursued their journey for several hours, only stopping to refresh their horses at a retired dorff, or hamlet, to which they were conducted by Hans Glover, who, in all other respects, as well as in leaving them much to their own freedom in conversation, conducted himself like a person of reflection and discretion.
Meantime, the artificial distinction which divided the two lovers (for such we may now term them) seemed dissolved, or removed, by the circumstances in which they were placed, for if the Countess boasted the higher rank, and was by birth entitled to a fortune incalculably larger than that of the youth, whose revenue lay in his sword, it was to be considered that, for the present, she was as poor as he, and for her safety, honour, and life, exclusively indebted to his presence of mind, valour, and devotion. They spoke not indeed of love, for though the young lady, her heart full of gratitude and confidence, might have pardoned such a declaration, yet Quentin, on whose tongue there was laid a check, both by natural timidity and by the sentiments of chivalry, would have held it an unworthy abuse of her situation had he said anything which could have the appearance of taking undue advantage of the opportunities which it afforded them. They spoke not then of love, but the thoughts of it were on both sides unavoidable, and thus they were placed in that relation to each other, in which sentiments of mutual regard are rather understood than announced, and which, with the freedoms which it permits, and the uncertainties that attend it, often forms the most delightful hours of human existence, and as frequently leads to those which are darkened by disappointment, fickleness, and all the pains of blighted hope and unrequited attachment.
It was two hours after noon, when the travellers were alarmed by the report of the guide, who, with paleness and horror in his countenance, said that they were pursued by a party of De la Marck’s Schwarzreiters. These soldiers, or rather banditti, were bands levied in the Lower Circles of Germany, and resembled the lanzknechts in every particular, except that the former acted as light cavalry. To maintain the name of Black Troopers, and to strike additional terror into their enemies, they usually rode on black chargers, and smeared with black ointment their arms and accoutrements, in which operation their hands and faces often had their share. In morals and in ferocity these Schwarzreiters emulated their pedestrian brethren the Lanzknechts. 171
On looking back, and discovering along the long level road which they had traversed a cloud of dust advancing, with one or two of the headmost troopers riding furiously in front of it, Quentin addressed his companion: “Dearest Isabelle, I have no weapon left save my sword, but since I cannot fight for you, I will fly with you. Could we gain yonder wood that is before us ere they come up, we may easily find means to escape.”
“So be it, my only friend,” said Isabelle, pressing her horse to the gallop, “and thou, good fellow,” she added, addressing Hans Glover, “get thee off to another road, and do not stay to partake our misfortune and danger.”
The honest Fleming shook his head, and answered her generous exhortation, with Nein, nein! das geht nicht 172, and continued to attend them, all three riding toward the shelter of the wood as fast as their jaded horses could go, pursued, at the same time, by the Schwarzreiters, who increased their pace when they saw them fly. But notwithstanding the fatigue of the horses, still the fugitives being unarmed, and riding lighter in consequence, had considerably the advantage of the pursuers, and were within about a quarter of a mile of the wood, when a body of men at arms, under a knight’s pennon, was discovered advancing from the cover, so as to intercept their flight.
“They have bright armour,” said Isabelle, “they must be Burgundians. Be they who they will, we must yield to them, rather than to the lawless miscreants who pursue us.”
A moment after, she exclaimed, looking on the pennon, “I know the cloven heart which it displays! It is the banner of the Count of Crevecoeur, a noble Burgundian — to him I will surrender myself.”
Quentin Durward sighed, but what other alternative remained, and how happy would he have been but an instant before, to have been certain of the escape of Isabelle, even under worse terms? They soon joined the band of Crevecoeur, and the Countess demanded to speak to the leader, who had halted his party till he should reconnoitre the Black Troopers, and as he gazed on her with doubt and uncertainty, she said, “Noble Count — Isabelle of Croye, the daughter of your old companion in arms, Count Reinold of Croye, renders herself, and asks protection from your valour for her and hers.”
“Thou shalt have it, fair kinswoman, were it against a host — always excepting my liege lord, of Burgundy. But there is little time to talk of it. These filthy looking fiends have made a halt, as if they intended to dispute the matter. — By Saint George of Burgundy, they have the insolence to advance against the banner of Crevecoeur! What! will not the knaves be ruled? Damian, my lance! — Advance banner! — Lay your spears in the rest! — Crevecoeur to the Rescue!”
Crying his war cry, and followed by his men at arms, he galloped rapidly forward to charge the Schwarzreiters.
168 Te Deum laudamus: We praise Thee, O God; the first words of an ancient hymn, sung in the morning service of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches
170 from Barbour’s Bruce
171 “To make their horses and boots shine, they make themselves as black as colliers. These horsemen wear black clothes, and poor though they be, spend no small time in brushing them. The most of them have black horses, . . . and delight to have their boots and shoes shine with blacking stuff, their hands and faces become black, and thereof they have their foresaid name.” . . . Fynes Morrison’s Itinerary. — S.
172 no, no! that must not be
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