小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 双语小说 » 惊婚记 Quentin Durward » Chapter 5 The Man At Arms
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
Chapter 5 The Man At Arms

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth.

AS YOU LIKE IT

The cavalier who awaited Quentin Durward's descent into the apartment where he had breakfasted, was one of those of whom Louis XI had long since said that they held in their hands the fortune of France, as to them were intrusted the direct custody and protection of the royal person.

Charles the Sixth had instituted this celebrated body, the Archers, as they were called, of the Scottish Bodyguard, with better reason than can generally be alleged for establishing round the throne a guard of foreign and mercenary troops. The divisions which tore from his side more than half of France, together with the wavering and uncertain faith of the nobility who yet acknowledged his cause, rendered it impolitic and unsafe to commit his personal safety to their keeping. The Scottish nation was the hereditary enemy of the English, and the ancient, and, as it seemed, the natural allies of France. They were poor, courageous, faithful; their ranks were sure to be supplied from the superabundant population of their own country, than which none in Europe sent forth more or bolder adventurers. Their high claims of descent, too, gave them a good title to approach the person of a monarch more closely than other troops, while the comparative smallness of their numbers prevented the possibility of their mutinying, and becoming masters where they ought to be servants.

On the other hand, the French monarchs made it their policy to conciliate the affections of this select band of foreigners, by allowing them honorary privileges and ample pay, which last most of them disposed of with military profusion in supporting their supposed rank. Each of them ranked as a gentleman in place and honour; and their near approach to the King's person gave them dignity in their own eyes, as well as importance in those of the nation of France. They were sumptuously armed, equipped, and mounted; and each was entitled to allowance for a squire, a valet, a page; and two yeomen, one of whom was termed coutelier, from the large knife which he wore to dispatch those whom in the melee his master had thrown to the ground. With these followers, and a corresponding equipage, an Archer of the Scottish Guard was a person of quality and importance; and vacancies being generally filled up by those who had been trained in the service as pages or valets, the cadets of the best Scottish families were often sent to serve under some friend and relation in those capacities, until a chance of preferment should occur.

The coutelier and his companion, not being noble or capable of this promotion, were recruited from persons of inferior quality; but as their pay and appointments were excellent, their masters were easily able to select from among their wandering countrymen the strongest and most courageous to wait upon them in these capacities.

Ludovic Lesly, or as we shall more frequently call him, Le Balafre, by which name he was generally known in France, was upwards of six feet high, robust, strongly compacted in person, and hard favoured in countenance, which latter attribute was much increased by a large and ghastly scar, which, beginning on his forehead, and narrowly missing his right eye, had laid bare the cheek bone, and descended from thence almost to the tip of his ear, exhibiting a deep seam, which was sometimes scarlet, sometimes purple, sometimes blue, and sometimes approaching to black; but always hideous, because at variance with the complexion of the face in whatever state it chanced to be, whether agitated or still, flushed with unusual passion, or in its ordinary state of weather-beaten and sunburnt swarthiness.

His dress and arms were splendid. He wore his national bonnet, crested with a tuft of feathers, and with a Virgin Mary of massive silver for a brooch. These brooches had been presented to the Scottish Guard, in consequence of the King, in one of his fits of superstitions piety, having devoted the swords of his guard to the service of the Holy Virgin, and, as some say, carried the matter so far as to draw out a commission to Our Lady as their Captain General. The Archer's gorget, arm pieces, and gauntlets, were of the finest steel, curiously inlaid with silver, and his hauberk, or shirt of mail, was as clear and bright as the frostwork of a winter morning upon fern or brier. He wore a loose surcoat or cassock of rich blue velvet, open at the sides like that of a herald, with a large white St. Andrew's cross of embroidered silver bisecting it both before and behind; his knees and legs were protected by hose of mail and shoes of steel; a broad, strong poniard (called the Mercy of God), hung by his right side; the baldric for his two handed sword, richly embroidered, hung upon his left shoulder; but for convenience he at present carried in his hand that unwieldy weapon which the rules of his service forbade him to lay aside.

(St. Andrew was the first called to apostleship. He made many converts to Christianity and was finally crucified on a cross of peculiar form, which has since been called the St. Andrew's cross. Certain of his relics were brought to Scotland in the fourth century, and he has since that time been honoured as the patron saint of that country. He is also the patron saint of the Burgundian Order, the Golden Fleece.)

Quentin Durward -- though, like the Scottish youth of the period, he had been early taught to look upon arms and war -- thought he had never seen a more martial looking, or more completely equipped and accomplished man at arms than now saluted him in the person of his mother's brother, called Ludovic with the Scar, or Le Balafre; yet he could not but shrink a little from the grim expression of his countenance, while, with its rough moustaches, he brushed first the one and then the other cheek of his kinsman, welcomed his nephew to France, and, in the same breath, asked what news from Scotland.

"Little good tidings, dear uncle," replied young Durward; "but I am glad that you know me so readily."

"I would have known thee, boy, in the landes of Bourdeaux, had I met thee marching there like a crane on a pair of stilts (the crutches or stilts which in Scotland are used to pass rivers. They are employed by the peasantry of the country near Bordeaux to traverse those deserts of loose sand called Landes. S). But sit thee down -- sit thee down -- if there is sorrow to hear of, we will have wine to make us bear it. -- Ho! old Pinch Measure, our good host, bring us of thy best, and that in an instant."

The well known sound of the Scottish French was as familiar in the taverns near Plessis as that of the Swiss French in the modern guinguettes (common inns) of Paris; and promptly -- ay, with the promptitude of fear and precipitation, was it heard and obeyed. A flagon of champagne stood before them, of which the elder took a draught, while the nephew helped himself only to a moderate sip to acknowledge his uncle's courtesy, saying, in excuse, that he had already drunk wine that morning.

"That had been a rare good apology in the mouth of thy sister, fair nephew," said Le Balafre; "you must fear the wine pot less, if you would wear beard on your face, and write yourself soldier. But, come -- come -- unbuckle your Scottish mail bag -- give us the news of Glen Houlakin -- How doth my sister?"

"Dead, fair uncle," answered Quentin, sorrowfully.

"Dead!" echoed his uncle, with a tone rather marked by wonder than sympathy, -- "why, she was five years younger than I, and I was never better in my life. Dead! the thing is impossible. I have never had so much as a headache, unless after revelling out of my two or three days' furlough with the brethren of the joyous science -- and my poor sister is dead -- And your father, fair nephew, hath he married again?"

And, ere the youth could reply, he read the answer in his surprise at the question, and said, "What! no -- I would have sworn that Allan Durward was no man to live without a wife. He loved to have his house in order -- loved to look on a pretty woman too; and was somewhat strict in life withal -- matrimony did all this for him. Now, I care little about these comforts, and I can look on a pretty woman without thinking on the sacrament of wedlock -- I am scarce holy enough for that."

"Alas! dear uncle, my mother was left a widow a year since, when Glen Houlakin was harried by the Ogilvies. My father, and my two uncles, and my two elder brothers, and seven of my kinsmen, and the harper, and the tasker, and some six more of our people, were killed in defending the castle, and there is not a burning hearth or a standing stone in all Glen Houlakin."

"Cross of Saint Andrew!" said Le Balafre; "that is what I call an onslaught! Ay, these Ogilvies were ever but sorry neighbours to Glen Houlakin -- an evil chance it was; but fate of war -- fate of war. -- When did this mishap befall, fair nephew?" With that he took a deep draught of wine, and shook his head with much solemnity, when his kinsman replied that his family had been destroyed upon the festival of Saint Jude (October 28) last bypast.

"Look ye there," said the soldier; "I said it was all chance -- on that very day I and twenty of my comrades carried the Castle of Roche Noir by storm, from Amaury Bras de fer, a captain of free lances, whom you must have heard of. I killed him on his own threshold, and gained as much gold as made this fair chain, which was once twice as long as it now is -- and that minds me to send part of it on an holy errand. -- Here, Andrew -- Andrew!"

Andrew, his yeoman, entered, dressed like the Archer himself in the general equipment, but without the armour for the limbs -- that of the body more coarsely manufactured -- his cap without a plume, and his cassock made of serge, or ordinary cloth, instead of rich velvet. Untwining his gold chain from his neck, Balafre twisted off, with his firm and strong set teeth, about four inches from the one end of it, and said to his attendant, "Here, Andrew, carry this to my gossip, jolly Father Boniface, the monk of St. Martin's; greet him well from me, by the same token that he could not say God save ye when we last parted at midnight. -- Tell my gossip that my brother and sister, and some others of my house, are all dead and gone, and I pray him to say masses for their souls as far as the value of these links will carry him, and to do on trust what else may be necessary to free them from Purgatory. And hark ye, as they were just living people, and free from all heresy, it may be that they are well nigh out of limbo already, so that a little matter may have them free of the fetlocks; and in that case, look ye, ye will say I desire to take out the balance of the gold in curses upon a generation called the Ogilvies of Angus Shire, in what way soever the church may best come at them. You understand all this, Andrew?"

The coutelier nodded.

"Then look that none of the links find their way to the wine house ere the monk touches them; for if it so chance, thou shalt taste of saddle girth and stirrup leather till thou art as raw as Saint Bartholomew (he was flayed alive. In Michael Angelo's Last Judgment he is represented as holding his skin in his hand) -- Yet hold, I see thy eye has fixed on the wine measure, and thou shalt not go without tasting."

So saying, he filled him a brimful cup, which the coutelier drank off, and retired to do his patron's commission.

"And now, fair nephew, let us hear what was your own fortune in this unhappy matter."

"I fought it out among those who were older and stouter than I was, till we were all brought down," said Durward, "and I received a cruel wound."

"Not a worse slash than I received ten years since myself," said Le Balafre. "Look at this, now, my fair nephew," tracing the dark crimson gash which was imprinted on his face. -- "An Ogilvy's sword never ploughed so deep a furrow."

"They ploughed deep enough," answered Quentin, sadly, "but they were tired at last, and my mother's entreaties procured mercy for me, when I was found to retain some spark of life; but although a learned monk of Aberbrothik, who chanced to be our guest at the fatal time, and narrowly escaped being killed in the fray, was permitted to bind my wounds, and finally to remove me to a place of safety, it was only on promise, given both by my mother and him, that I should become a monk."

"A monk!" exclaimed the uncle. "Holy Saint Andrew! that is what never befell me. No one, from my childhood upwards, ever so much as dreamed of making me a monk. And yet I wonder when I think of it; for you will allow that, bating the reading and writing, which I could never learn, and the psalmody, which I could never endure, and the dress, which is that of a mad beggar -- Our Lady forgive me! (here he crossed himself) and their fasts, which do not suit my appetite, I would have made every whit as good a monk as my little gossip at St. Martin's yonder. But I know not why, none ever proposed the station to me. -- Oh, so, fair nephew, you were to be a monk, then -- and wherefore, I pray you?"

"That my father's house might be ended, either in the cloister or in the tomb," answered Quentin, with deep feeling.

"I see," answered his uncle -- "I comprehend. Cunning rogues -- very cunning! They might have been cheated, though; for, look ye, fair nephew, I myself remember the canon Robersart who had taken the vows and afterwards broke out of cloister, and became a captain of Free Companions. He had a mistress, the prettiest wench I ever saw, and three as beautiful children. -- There is no trusting monks, fair nephew -- no trusting them -- they may become soldiers and fathers when you least expect it -- but on with your tale."

"I have little more to tell," said Durward, "except that, considering my poor mother to be in some degree a pledge for me, I was induced to take upon me the dress of a novice, and conformed to the cloister rules, and even learned to read and write."

"To read and write!" exclaimed Le Balafre, who was one of that sort of people who think all knowledge is miraculous which chances to exceed their own. "To write, say'st thou, and to read! I cannot believe it -- never Durward could write his name that ever I heard of, nor Lesly either. I can answer for one of them -- I can no more write than I can fly. Now, in Saint Louis's name, how did they teach it you?"

"It was troublesome at first," said Durward, "but became more easy by use; and I was weak with my wounds, and loss of blood, and desirous to gratify my preserver, Father Peter, and so I was the more easily kept to my task. But after several months' languishing, my good, kind mother died, and as my health was now fully restored, I communicated to my benefactor, who was also Sub Prior of the convent, my reluctance to take the vows; and it was agreed between us, since my vocation lay not to the cloister, that I should be sent out into the world to seek my fortune, and that to save the Sub Prior from the anger of the Ogilvies, my departure should have the appearance of flight; and to colour it I brought off the Abbot's hawk with me. But I was regularly dismissed, as will appear from the hand and seal of the Abbot himself."

"That is right, that is well," said his uncle. "Our King cares little what other theft thou mayst have made, but hath a horror at anything like a breach of the cloister. And I warrant thee, thou hadst no great treasure to bear thy charges?"

"Only a few pieces of silver," said the youth; "for to you, fair uncle, I must make a free confession."

"Alas!" replied Le Balafre, "that is hard. Now, though I am never a hoarder of my pay, because it doth ill to bear a charge about one in these perilous times, yet I always have (and I would advise you to follow my example) some odd gold chain, or bracelet, or carcanet, that serves for the ornament of my person, and can at need spare a superfluous link or two, or it may be a superfluous stone for sale, that can answer any immediate purpose. But you may ask, fair kinsman, how you are to come by such toys as this." (He shook his chain with complacent triumph.) "They hang not on every bush -- they grow not in the fields like the daffodils, with whose stalks children make knights' collars. What then? -- you may get such where I got this, in the service of the good King of France, where there is always wealth to be found, if a man has but the heart to seek it at the risk of a little life or so."

"I understood," said Quentin, evading a decision to which he felt himself as yet scarcely competent, "that the Duke of Burgundy keeps a more noble state than the King of France, and that there is more honour to be won under his banners -- that good blows are struck there, and deeds of arms done; while the most Christian King, they say, gains his victories by his ambassadors' tongues."

"You speak like a foolish boy, fair nephew," answered he with the scar; "and yet, I bethink me, when I came hither I was nearly as simple: I could never think of a King but what I supposed him either sitting under the high deas, and feasting amid his high vassals and Paladins, eating blanc mange, with a great gold crown upon his head, or else charging at the head of his troops like Charlemagne in the romaunts, or like Robert Bruce or William Wallace in our own true histories, such as Barbour and the Minstrel. Hark in thine ear, man -- it is all moonshine in the water. Policy -- policy does it all. But what is policy, you will say? It is an art this French King of ours has found out, to fight with other men's swords, and to wage his soldiers out of other men's purses. Ah! it is the wisest prince that ever put purple on his back -- and yet he weareth not much of that neither -- I see him often go plainer than I would think befitted me to do."

(Charlemagne (742?-814): King of the Franks and crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 800. His kingdom included Germany and France, the greater part of Italy, and Spain as far as the Ebro. As Emperor of the West he bore the title Caesar Augustus. He established churches and monasteries, and encouraged arts and learning. He figures largely in mediaeval minstrelsy, where the achievements of his knights, or paladins, rival those of Arthur's court.)

(Robert Bruce: the grandson of Robert Bruce, the competitor with John Baliol for the Scottish throne. He defeated the English forces at Bannockburn in 1314, and thus secured the independence of Scotland, an independence which lasted until the two kingdoms were united under one crown in 1707.)

(William Wallace: another brave Scottish leader in the war for independence against Edward I of England. Wallace was betrayed in 1305 and carried to London, where he was cruelly executed as a traitor.)

(Barbour: an eminent Scottish poet contemporary with Chaucer. His principal work, The Bruce, records the life and deeds of Robert Bruce.)

(Harry the Minstrel or "Blind Harry" was the author of a poem on the life and deeds of Wallace which was held in peculiar reverence by the Scotch people.)

"But you meet not my exception, fair uncle," answered young Durward; "I would serve, since serve I must in a foreign land, somewhere where a brave deed, were it my hap to do one, might work me a name."

"I understand you, my fair nephew," said the royal man at arms, "I understand you passing well; but you are unripe in these matters. The Duke of Burgundy is a hot brained, impetuous, pudding headed, iron ribbed dare all. He charges at the head of his nobles and native knights, his liegemen of Artois and Hainault; think you, if you were there, or if I were there myself, that we could be much farther forward than the Duke and all his brave nobles of his own land? If we were not up with them, we had a chance to be turned on the Provost Marshal's hands for being slow in making to; if we were abreast of them, all would be called well and we might be thought to have deserved our pay; and grant that I was a spear's length or so in the front, which is both difficult and dangerous in such a melee where all do their best, why, my lord Duke says in his Flemish tongue, when he sees a good blow struck, 'Ha! gut getroffen (well struck)! a good lance -- a brave Scot -- give him a florin to drink our health;' but neither rank, nor lands, nor treasures come to the stranger in such a service -- all goes to the children of the soil."

"And where should it go, in Heaven's name, fair uncle?" demanded young Durward.

"To him that protects the children of the soil," said Balafre, drawing up his gigantic height. "Thus says King Louis 'My good French peasant -- mine honest Jacques Bonhomme, get you to your tools, your plough and your harrow, your pruning knife and your hoe -- here is my gallant Scot that will fight for you, and you shall only have the trouble to pay him. And you, my most serene duke, my illustrious count, and my most mighty marquis, e'en rein up your fiery courage till it is wanted, for it is apt to start out of the course, and to hurt its master; here are my companies of ordnance -- here are my French Guards -- here are, above all, my Scottish Archers, and mine honest Ludovic with the Scar, who will fight, as well or better than you, will fight with all that undisciplined valour which, in your father's time, lost Cressy and Azincour (two famous victories in the Hundred Years' War gained over the French by the English, near the towns of Crecy and Agincourt, in 1346 and 1415. See Shakespeare's Henry V for a description of the latter.). Now, see you not in which of these states a cavalier of fortune holds the highest rank, and must come to the highest honour?"

"I think I understand you, fair uncle," answered the nephew; "but, in my mind, honour cannot be won where there is no risk. Sure, this is -- I pray pardon me -- an easy and almost slothful life, to mount guard round an elderly man whom no one thinks of harming, to spend summer day and winter night up in yonder battlements, and shut up all the while in iron cages, for fear you should desert your posts -- uncle, uncle, it is but a hawk upon his perch, who is never carried out to the fields!"

"Now, by Saint Martin of Tours, the boy has some spirit! a right touch of the Lesly in him; much like myself, though always with a little more folly in it. Hark ye, youth -- Long live the King of France! -- scarce a day but there is some commission in hand, by which some of his followers may win both coin and credit. Think not that the bravest and most dangerous deeds are done by daylight. I could tell you of some, as scaling castles, making prisoners, and the like, where one who shall be nameless hath run higher risk and gained greater favour than any desperado in the train of desperate Charles of Burgundy. And if it please his Majesty to remain behind, and in the background, while such things are doing, he hath the more leisure of spirit to admire, and the more liberality of hand to reward the adventurers, whose dangers, perhaps, and whose feats of arms, he can better judge of than if he had personally shared them. Oh, 't is a sagacious and most politic monarch!"

His nephew paused, and then said, in a low but impressive tone of voice, "the good Father Peter used often to teach me there might be much danger in deeds by which little glory was acquired. I need not say to you, fair uncle, that I do in course suppose that these secret commissions must needs be honourable."

"For whom or for what take you me, fair nephew," said Balafre, somewhat sternly; "I have not been trained, indeed, in the cloister, neither can I write or read. But I am your mother's brother; I am a loyal Lesly. Think you that I am like to recommend to you anything unworthy? The best knight in France, Du Guesclin himself, if he were alive again, might be proud to number my deeds among his achievements."

"I cannot doubt your warranty, fair uncle," said the youth; "you are the only adviser my mishap has left me. But is it true, as fame says, that this King keeps a meagre Court here at his Castle of Plessis? No repair of nobles or courtiers, none of his grand feudatories in attendance, none of the high officers of the crown; half solitary sports, shared only with the menials of his household; secret councils, to which only low and obscure men are invited; rank and nobility depressed, and men raised from the lowest origin to the kingly favour -- all this seems unregulated, resembles not the manners of his father, the noble Charles, who tore from the fangs of the English lion this more than half conquered kingdom of France."

"You speak like a giddy child," said Le Balafre, "and even as a child, you harp over the same notes on a new string. Look you: if the King employs Oliver Dain, his barber, to do what Oliver can do better than any peer of them all, is not the kingdom the gainer? If he bids his stout Provost Marshal, Tristan, arrest such or such a seditious burgher, take off such or such a turbulent noble, the deed is done, and no more of it; when, were the commission given to a duke or peer of France, he might perchance send the King back a defiance in exchange. If, again, the King pleases to give to plain Ludovic le Balafre a commission which he will execute, instead of employing the High Constable, who would perhaps betray it, doth it not show wisdom? Above all, doth not a monarch of such conditions best suit cavaliers of fortune, who must go where their services are most highly prized, and most frequently in demand? -- No, no, child, I tell thee Louis knows how to choose his confidants, and what to charge them with; suiting, as they say, the burden to each man's back. He is not like the King of Castile, who choked with thirst, because the great butler was not beside to hand his cup. -- But hark to the bell of St. Martin's! I must hasten, back to the Castle -- Farewell -- make much of yourself, and at eight tomorrow morning present yourself before the drawbridge, and ask the sentinel for me. Take heed you step not off the straight and beaten path in approaching the portal! There are such traps and snap haunches as may cost you a limb, which you will sorely miss. You shall see the King, and learn to judge him for yourself -- farewell."

So saying, Balafre hastily departed, forgetting, in his hurry, to pay for the wine he had called for, a shortness of memory incidental to persons of his description, and which his host, overawed perhaps by the nodding bonnet and ponderous two handed sword, did not presume to use any efforts for correcting. It might have been expected that, when left alone, Durward would have again betaken himself to his turret, in order to watch for the repetition of those delicious sounds which had soothed his morning reverie. But that was a chapter of romance, and his uncle's conversation had opened to him a page of the real history of life. It was no pleasing one, and for the present the recollections and reflections which it excited were qualified to overpower other thoughts, and especially all of a light and soothing nature.

Quentin resorted to a solitary walk along the banks of the rapid Cher, having previously inquired of his landlord for one which he might traverse without fear of disagreeable interruption from snares and pitfalls, and there endeavoured to compose his turmoiled and scattered thoughts, and consider his future motions, upon which his meeting with his uncle had thrown some dubiety.

满嘴奇怪的咒语,长着豹子般的胡须,

甚至在大炮口里,

去寻求肥皂泡似的名声。

《如愿》

昆丁·达威特走下楼梯,来到他用过早餐的那间屋于。等待他的骑士正是(按路易十一的说法)受命直接保卫国王安全,从而掌握着法国命运的国王近卫军的一位成员。

查尔斯第六曾经建立了人称苏格兰射手团的部队,其目的超过了人们为成立外籍雇佣近卫军通常所持的理由。国家四分五裂,属于他的一半以上的法国领土给夺走了,再加上承认他的贵族们对他的忠诚也一直动摇不定,因此要把他的个人安全托付给这些贵族将是种失策,是种很不保险的做法。苏格兰民族是英国的传统敌人,因而亦是法国历史悠久的天然盟友。他们贫穷、勇敢而忠诚——由于人口过剩,他们国家也肯定不缺乏人丁的补充。因此,欧洲没有哪个国家比苏格兰输出过更多、更勇敢的冒险家。他们自认出身高贵,这使他们比别的军人更有资格接近君主。而他们总数较少,又使得他们无法犯上作乱。

另一方面,法国许多国王也把赢得这一精锐的外籍军队的好感作为他们的一种策略。办法是踢与他们光荣的特权和丰厚的军饷。他们之中的大部分人都以军人的气派把军饷花光,以维系人们认为他们地位高贵的看法。在地位和荣誉方面他们每个人都算得上是个绅士。他们侍奉国王左右并自视高贵,使得全法国也都认为他们是举足轻重的。他们的武器、装备,和乘骑都很华丽,而且每人都有资格配备扈从、仆役、侍重各一名,马弁两名,其中一名称之为“刀兵”,因为他佩带一把大刀,以干掉跟主人在格斗中被摔倒在地的敌人。由于有这么几个随从,又有一套相应的车马,苏格兰卫队的射手便成了显要人物。既然卫队的缺额一般都由在进行传童或仆役训练的人来补充,一些最有名望的苏格兰家族的子弟都经常被送到亲友这儿来,以待童或仆役的身份服役,以等待晋升的机会。

“刀兵”及其同伴不算贵族,也不能提升为贵族,全是在出身卑微的人中招募的。但由于他们军切丰厚,装备精良,所以主人也不难在流浪的苏格兰人当中挑选出坚强、勇敢的汉子充当这个角色。

卢德维克·莱斯利又名勒巴拉弗雷;这名字在法国家喻户晓,在下文我们会经常提及。此人身高六英尺有余,身体健壮,但其貌不扬。一条从额头开始的可怕的大伤疤险些碰着右眼,却裸露出颧骨;伤痕几乎一直落到耳尖上,露出一条深深的裂口。这裂口时而呈深红色或紫色,时而呈蓝色,时而近乎黑色,但不管是激动还是平静,也不管是兴高采烈得发红,还是平常风吹日晒而显黝黑,伤疤的颜色和脸色总不谐调,总显得可怕、狰狞,结果就使得他的面孔更难看。他的衣服和武器都很考究。他戴着一顶苏格兰民族的无边帽,帽顶有一束羽毛,一个银制的圣母像当作饰针。这些饰针是国王把卫队的刀剑奉献给圣母之后,在一阵迷信般的虔诚中决定赠送给苏格兰卫队的。正如某些人说的那样,他还走得更远,甚至给圣母颁发了委任状,委任她当卫队统领。射手的护喉甲胄、铠甲、手套都是用最好的钢做的,并精巧地镶嵌着银子作为装饰。他的锁于甲或甲片衬衣则光亮得像冬天早上的羊齿草或欧石南上面的白霜。他身上披着一件像纹章官的宽袍那样两边敞开的蓝色天鹅绒制的宽松外袍,外袍前后两幅正中间都有一个用银丝绣成的圣安德鲁大十字。他脚上穿着铠甲袜和钢靴保护膝部和腿部,右边挂着一把大刀(称为上帝的宽恕),左肩挂着一条华丽的系剑用的缎带。但为了方便起见,此刻他手握着这一笨重的武器,因为卫队的规则不许将它搁在一边。

尽管昆丁·达威特像当时的苏格兰青年那样很早就被教会如何观察兵器和装备,但他仍感到来看他的这个人是他见过的最英武、装备最为完善的武士。这人正向他打招呼。原来他正是他母亲的兄弟,人称带伤疤的卢德维克或勒巴拉弗雷。看到他面孔凶狠的表情,昆丁不禁颤栗了一下。武士走上前来以他粗糙的胡须先擦擦他外甥的左颊,又擦擦他的右颊,欢迎他来法国,并问他从苏格兰带来了什么消息。

“没有什么好消息,亲爱的舅舅。”年轻的达威特说道,“不过,我高兴你这么快就认出了我。”

“孩子,即使我在波多的兰第斯沙地上碰到你像个踩着高跷行走的白鹤,我也会认出你的。坐下吧,坐下吧——如果有什么不幸的消息要听的话,我们倒有酒来帮助我们化解悲哀。嘿!老克扣我的好店主,把你最好的酒给我们拿来吧。”

正如在巴黎的现代酒家里人们十分熟悉瑞士语夹杂着法语的口音那样,在普莱西附近的客店里人们也很熟悉著名的苏格兰语夹法语的口音。店主迅速地——伴随着畏惧引起的慌忙——听清了吩咐,马上顺从地行动起来。他把一瓶香槟酒摆在他们面前。年长者喝了一大口,而外甥却只啜饮了一点,以感谢舅父的盛情,同时抱歉地说,他早上已喝过酒,不能多喝了。

“我的好外甥,这话若出自你妹妹之口,才是最好的借口。”勒巴拉弗雷说道,“要是你想脸上留胡子,当军人,那你就得少忌讳酒罐。行了——行了,打开你从苏格兰带来的邮袋——说一说格兰一呼拉金的消息吧——我妹妹怎么样了?”

“亲爱的舅舅,她死了。”昆丁悲伤地说道。

“死了!”舅舅大声说道,声音里流露出的惊奇多于惋惜,“要知道,她比我还小五岁。而我现在却正年富力强。死了!简直不可能。我除了和快活的弟兄们饮酒作乐,欢度两三天假期的时候有过头疼以外,还从来没有不舒服过——而我可怜的妹妹却已经死了!好外甥,你爹再娶了吗?”

还来不及等到年轻人回答,他已从其惊愕的表情中探知了答案:“怎么!没有?我本来还想诅咒说阿兰·达威特是个没有老婆不能过活的男人哩。他喜欢把屋子弄得整整齐齐——也喜欢瞅一瞅漂亮的女人。在生活上还比较严格——这些都是结婚给他带来的好处。现在我对这些安逸不怎么感兴趣了。我可以端详一个漂亮的女人而不想到神圣的婚姻问题——再说,我也不够圣洁地来考虑这个问题。”

“唉呀,亲爱的舅舅,在格兰一呼拉金遭到奥吉维人的骚扰之后,我妈就当了寡妇。我父亲。两个叔叔,还有我两个哥哥和七个亲戚,以及坚琴师、短工和另外六个人在捍卫城堡时惨遭杀害。如今在整个格兰一呼拉金已经没有一个冒烟的炉子和完整的砌墙石了。”

“圣安德鲁的十字呀!”巴拉弗雷说道,“这可真是不折不扣的骚扰和侵犯!不错,这些奥吉维人一直是格兰一呼拉金的倒霉邻居——不过,这真是个不幸的巧合,也是战争的命运——战争的命运——好外甥,这不幸是什么时候发生的?”说着他喝了一大口酒,十分严肃地摇摇头。外甥回答说,他家是在前年圣裘德节遭难的。

“你瞧,”那武士说道,“我就说这是个巧合吧——正是那天我和二十个同志发起猛攻,从阿莫里、布拉德费尔的手上夺取了罗歇·卢瓦尔城堡。布拉德费尔是自由长矛手的首领,你一定听说过这个人。我把他杀死在他家的门坎上,拿走了够打一条美丽金链的黄金。你知道,这条金链以前要比现在长一倍——这倒提醒我得把金锭取下一节,进行一次神圣的使命。安德鲁,你来一下——安德鲁!”

他的马弁安德鲁走了进来。总的说来他穿得和射手们一样,只是手脚没有护甲,而身上的护甲则做得很粗糙,帽子也没有羽饰,而外袍则是哗叽或普通布做的,而不是富丽的天鹅绒。巴拉弗雷将金项链从脖子上解下来,用他那坚固有力的牙齿从一端咬下了四英寸长的一段,然后对仆人说道:“听我说,安德鲁,你把这东西拿去交给圣马丁教堂的修道士——我的朋友波尼法斯神父——代我好好祝福他,特别是因为我们上次半夜分手时,他连‘上帝保佑你’都不会说了——你告诉我的老伙计,说我兄弟和妹妹还有我家别的几个人都死了,我求他就这点金项链的价值为他们的灵魂做个弥撒,并按赊欠的办法进行其他一些能使他们避免炼狱之苦的必要仪式。你听着,既然他们都是不沾邪教的正直人,现在很可能已经脱离了地狱的边境,因此只需少量的钱就能使他们平安无事。如果真是这样,那么你要特别提醒他,我希望把多余的金子用教会力所能及的方式对称之为安古斯郡的奥吉维人氏族进行诅咒。你明白了吗,安德鲁?”

那马奔点点头。

“你要注意,别叫这节金项链在落到修道士手里之前就进了酒店。万一如此,那你将饱尝马鞍肚带和脚楼皮带的滋味,直到叫你像圣巴托罗缪那样皮开肉绽——你先等等,我看你眼盯着酒壶,我得让你走之前先喝几口。”

说罢他给他斟满一杯酒。马弁一口喝光之后,便出去执行主人的命令。

“好外甥,现在你说说在那不幸的事件里你个人的遭遇吧。”

“我在比我年纪大、身体壮的人当中猛打猛冲,直到我们全部被他们打倒为止。”达威特说道,“结果我受了重伤。”

“你这伤并不比我十年前受的那次伤更严重。”巴拉弗雷说道,“你瞧这个,外甥,’他边说边用手指摸他脸上那条深红色的伤痕,“奥吉维人的刀决不会留下这么深的伤口。”

“他们砍杀得也够狠了,”昆丁伤心地说道,“但最后他们太累了,当发现我还有一口气的时候,我娘苦苦哀求,他们才饶了我一条命。一位有学问的阿伯布罗迪克修道士碰巧在我家作客,战斗中侥幸没被杀死。他被允许给我包扎伤口,最后把我转移到安全地点。但这也是因为我娘向他许了愿,保证我将来当个修道士。”

“当修道士!”舅父惊叫道——“圣安德鲁呀!我可从没遇到过这种事。从我小时候起,还没有人想到过叫我当修道士——不过,想起来也觉有趣。你得承认,要不是我永远学不会读和写,永远忍受不了唱赞美诗和穿他们那像疯癫的叫花子穿的衣服——圣母宽恕我(说着他划了个十字)!同时他们的斋戒也不适合我的胃口,否则我可以成为一个和我那圣马丁教堂的小伙计不相上下的顶刮刮的修道士哩。不过,我也不知道为什么,谁也不曾向我推荐过这个差事——这么说,好外甥,你原是要当修道士——请问,这是因为什么?”

“因为我父亲的这个家族要么被埋葬在寺院,要么被埋葬在坟墓。”昆丁深有感触地说道。

“我明白了,”当舅舅的说道——“我懂了。这些狡猾的坏蛋——真狡猾!不过他们也会上当受骗。你瞧,好外甥,我记得罗伯萨尔特神父就曾发誓当修道士。以后他逃出了寺院,成了自由同志会的首领。他有个情妇,是我见到过的最漂亮的女人,还有三个同样漂亮的孩子——好外甥,修道士是不可信的——简直不可以相信他们——他们可以完全出乎意料地改行当兵,或当上父亲——你继续讲你的吧。”

“我没有什么可讲的了,”达威特说道,“只是想补充一点:考虑到我可怜的娘多少也算得上我的一个保人,所以我也就被说服穿上了见习修道士的衣服,服从寺院规则,甚至学会了读和写。”

“读和写片巴拉弗雷惊奇地叫道,因为他是一个把超过他自己知识范围的任何知识都一律视为神奇的人,“你说你会写,还会读!我简直不能相信——我从没听说过达威特家的人,或莱斯利家的人会写自己的名字。我可以为他们当中的一员负责说这句话——我就不能写,就像我不能飞。看在圣路易的分上,你说他们是怎么教你的?”

“开始的时候是很困难的,”达威特说道,“但习惯之后也就容易了。由于受伤和大量出血,我身体很弱,同时我很想叫我的救命恩人——彼得神父感到满意,因此我也就容易循规就范。这样郁郁不乐地搞了几个月之后,我好心的娘死了,同时我已完全恢复了健康,所以我对我的恩人,也就是寺院的副院长说,我不愿发誓当修道士。我们之间达成了谅解:既然我天生不适合当修道士,就应当把我送到尘世去奔我的前程。为了使奥吉维人不致迁怒于副院长,我离开时得假装外逃,而为了增添声色,我甚至还带走了神父的一只兀鹰。不过我的确是办了正式手续离开的,神父本人的签字盖章可以作证。”

“这就对了——这就好了。”舅舅说道,“我们国王很不在乎你偷了什么别的东西,但害怕任何破坏寺院教规的事。我敢说,你身上没有很多钱来支付你的费用吧?”

“我只有几枚银币,”年轻人说道,“好舅舅,我对你只能说实话。”。

“唉呀!”巴拉弗雷对答道,“这可困难啦。如今世道危险,身藏金钱很不安全。我也从来不储存我的薪饷,但我总戴有(我建议你也仿效我的样子)金项链、金手镯或金项因作为装饰,必要时便可以抽出一两扣金链或一颗多余的宝石拿去变卖,以应急需——好外甥,你可能要问:我是怎么得到这样一些玩意儿的?”——(他得意地摆摆他的项链)——“这些项链并不是长在每个树丛上,也不是像孩子们用其花茎来作骑士领章的水仙花那样生在田野里。不过,那有什么呢?你也可以通过侍候善良的法国国王,像我一样搞到这些东西。只要有心发财,又肯冒点生命危险,在国王那儿总是可以大发横财的。”

“据我所知,”昆丁说道,他想回避他认为目前还不能作出的一个决定,“勃艮第公爵比法国国王的排场更大。在他的麾下可以获得更大的荣誉——人们可以痛快地打仗,可以建立卓著的战功。但据说这位最信奉基督的国王却是凭大使们的三寸不烂之舌来赢得胜利的。”

“好外甥,你说话简直像个傻孩子,”带伤疤的舅父说道,“不过,我记得我初到这里时,也像你一样愣头愣脑的。我一想到国王,就以为他要么是头戴金冠,位坐高台,与大蕃臣和武士一道吃着白色凉粉,饮酒作乐,要么像传奇小说中的查里曼大帝,或者(巴尔布尔与游吟诗人)这类苏格兰史书中的罗伯特·布鲁斯和威廉·华莱士那样,总是一马当先,冲锋在前。你听着,年轻人——这全是虚假的空想。策略——只有策略才是万能的。你也许要问,策略是啥呢?哼,策略是我们法国国王创造的一门艺术,是利用别人的刀枪作战,叫别人掏腰包给自己的士兵发饷。唉!他可真是世界上穿过紫袍的最聪明的帝王——不过,他也不经常穿华贵的紫袍——我看他通常都穿得十分朴素,其朴素的程度甚至叫我这种身份的人穿也会显得寒怆。”

“好舅舅,你并没有说服我。”年轻的达威特回答道,“既然我必须在外国服役,那么,要是命中注定我得干一番大事业的话,我打算在一个能使我扬名的地方服役。”

“好外甥,我明白你的意思,”忠诚的武士说道,“我十分明白你的意思。不过,在这些事情上你还没有成熟。勃艮第公爵是一个鲁莽、急躁、愚顽的冒失鬼。打起仗来他冲在贵族骑士们和阿图瓦与埃洛臣民们的前面。你以为,要是你我在场,我们就能比公爵和他本国那些勇敢的贵族们冲得更前吗?如果我们跟不上他们,我们就有可能因为行动迟缓而受到军法总监的惩处。如果我们冲得和他们一样快,那就算不错,他们会认为我们得薪饷是受之无愧的。即便在众人都尽力拼杀的混战当中,我冒着困难和危险,冲在领先他们一矛之远的地方,公爵大人也会用他看到别人打得漂亮时惯用的弗兰德话说一声:“哈!打得好!好长矛手——勇敢的苏格兰人——赏他一个弗洛林的酒钱好为我们的健康干杯。”但是,一个服役的异乡人既得不到地位,也得不到土地和财产——这一切都会落到土地之子的农民手里。”

“那么,好舅舅,看在上帝的分上,这些该归谁所有呢?”年轻的达威特问道。

“应该归农民的保护者所有。”巴拉弗雷直起他那高大的身躯讲道,“路易王说:‘我善良的法国农民——我诚实而和蔼的杰克——拿起你们的农具,拿起你们的犁、耙、修校刀和你们的锄头吧——我英勇的苏格兰卫士将为你们战斗,你们只消开支他们的军晌——而你,我安详的公爵、显赫的伯爵和最强大的侯爵,你应好好按捺住你的勇气,待需要时再驱使它吧,否则它会越轨,伤害它的主人。这儿是我的御林军——我的法国卫队——特别是有我的苏格兰射手团,有我带伤疤的卢德维克,他们打起仗来和你不相上下,甚至可以胜过你。他们也具有促使你们父亲生前丧失了克雷西和阿金库尔的那种不羁的匹夫之勇。’够了,难道你还看不出在这些王国当中哪个才能使一个来碰运气的骑士获得最高的地位和荣誉吗?”

“好舅舅,我想我明白你的意思,”外甥回答道,“不过,在我看来,不冒险是争取不到荣誉的。恕我直说——替一个谁也不想伤害的老年人站岗放哨,夏日和冬夜都消磨在那些城谍上,成天关在铁笼子里,惟恐他们会离开自己的岗位——舅舅,这只不过是栖息在窠里的老鹰,永远也不可能到原野上去飞翔!”

“照图尔的圣马丁说,这孩子可真有点精神!有我们莱斯利家族的高贵血统,多像我啊!不过要比我痴一些。年轻人,你听我说——国王万岁!——国王差不多每天都有差事叫他的追随者获得金钱和荣誉。你别以为最勇敢。最危险的事情都是白天干出来的。我可以告诉你,像爬城堡、抓俘虏这类事,尽管干的人都是无名英雄,但要比勃艮第查尔斯的那帮冒险家冒更大的危险,也会获得更大的恩泽。如果国王陛下乐于运筹帷幄之中,他就更可以优哉游哉地旁观欣赏,慷慨地奖赏冒险家,因为他比亲身参加更能理解他们的危险和战绩。啊,他真是个贤明而又富于策略的君王!”

外甥思索了一会,然后以一种低沉而富有威慑力的声调说道:“善良的彼得神父过去经常教导我说,不光荣的事是很危险的。好舅父,我用不着对你说,我自然揣测这些秘密使命肯定都是很体面的。”

“好外甥,你把我当成什么人了?”巴拉弗雷有点严峻地说道,“我的确没有在寺院受过训练,也不会读和写,但我是你娘的哥哥,是个忠实的莱斯利人。你以为我会建议你干不光彩的事吗?法国最优秀的骑士杜古斯克兰要是还活着的话,也不耻于把我的业绩看作他的业绩。”

“好舅舅,我怎能怀疑你的忠实可靠?”年轻人说道,“你是那场灾难后惟一留存下来给我指点迷津的亲人。不过,是否真像传说的那样,国王在他普莱西城堡的宫廷冷落不堪呢?听说贵族和朝臣都不来朝觐他,没有哪个大领主或皇室的大人物来陪伴他。只有家里的奴仆和他玩一些稍能排遣寂寞的游戏,被邀请参加一些秘密会议也都只是些卑微低贱的人。出身高贵和有地位的人受到排挤,而出身最贫寒的人则被提拔为国王的宠臣——这一切都显得很不正常,与他父亲——那从英国狮子的牙缝里夺回了快被征服的法国的高贵的查尔斯的作风迥然不同。”

“你说话就像个不懂事的娃娃,”勒巴拉弗雷说道,“不过即使像个娃娃,你也是在新弦上弹老调。你听我说:如果国王派他的剃头匠奥利弗·丹去干他比贵族更胜任的事,这岂不对法国更有好处?如果他吩咐他忠实的军法总监特里斯顿逮捕某个反叛的市民,除掉某个策动骚乱的贵族,事情会一办就灵,而把它交给法国某个公爵或贵族,那么国王得到的回答可能是拒不执行。再说,假如国王高兴给平凡的卢德维克·勒巴拉弗雷一个任务,那他肯定会执行,而要是委托给最高法官,他却有可能泄露机密,难道这不足以表明他的聪明才智?而最重要的是,对于企求好运的骑士来说,像处于这样一种处境中的国王不是最适合么?要知道,他们的目的就是找到最能赏识,也最迫切需要他们为之效忠的主人。孩子,我告诉你,路易王懂得怎样选择他的亲信,也懂得该委与他们什么任务。正如常言所说,按各人能背的重量来定他的负荷。他不像卡斯蒂耶国王那样,因为御食大臣没在旁边递给他杯子,就差点渴死。你听,圣马丁教堂的钟声响了!我得赶回城堡去——再见了——你要好自为之。明早八点你到吊桥前,叫哨兵找我。切记在走近大门时别走出规定的直路!那儿的陷阱很厉害,搞不好会断掉你一只腿或胳膊,那你就后悔莫及了。你将见到国王,你可以自己对他作个判断——再见。”

说罢,巴拉弗雷便匆忙离去,仓促之中竟忘了付酒钱,这是他这种人常有的健忘症。店主看到他那头带大军帽频频点首的样子和他那沉重的大刀,可能感到了些畏惧,没敢来提醒他。

人们也许会猜想,当他舅父走开以后,达威特就会回到他的塔楼,等待再次聆听那曾抚慰过他早梦的动人歌声。但那毕竟是一段浪漫的际遇,而他和舅父的谈话却向他揭开了现实生活中的一个篇章。这是个令人不快的篇章。它引起的回忆和思索淹没了其他的想法,特别是那些轻松愉快的遐想。

昆丁向店主打听到一条不必提防陷阱而可以穿行的道路,沿着它来到了湍急的谢尔河边一条幽静的小径。他努力集中他那纷繁而散漫的思绪,考虑着将来的行动,因为他和舅父的谈话使他对原来的计划产生了一些疑虑。



欢迎访问英文小说网http://novel.tingroom.com

©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533

鲁ICP备05031204号