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Chapter 7 The Enrolment

Justice of Peace. -- Here, hand me down the statute -- read the articles -- Swear, kiss the book -- subscribe, and be a hero; Drawing a portion from the public stock For deeds of valour to be done hereafter -- Sixpence per day, subsistence and arrears.

THE RECRUITING OFFICER

An attendant upon the Archers having been dismounted, Quentin Durward was accommodated with his horse, and, in company of his martial countrymen, rode at a round pace towards the Castle of Plessis, about to become, although on his own part involuntarily, an inhabitant of that gloomy fortress, the outside of which had, that morning, struck him with so much surprise.

In the meanwhile, in answer to his uncle's repeated interrogations, he gave him an exact account of the accident which had that morning brought him into so much danger. Although he himself saw nothing in his narrative save what was affecting, he found it was received with much laughter by his escort.

"And yet it is no good jest either," said his uncle, "for what, in the devil's name, could lead the senseless boy to meddle with the body of a cursed misbelieving Jewish Moorish pagan?"

"Had he quarrelled with the Marshals men about a pretty wench, as Michael of Moffat did, there had been more sense in it," said Cunningham.

"But I think it touches our honour that Tristan and his people pretend to confound our Scottish bonnets with these pilfering vagabonds -- torques and turbands, as they call them," said Lindesay. "If they have not eyes to see the difference they must be taught by rule of hand. But it 's my belief, Tristan but pretends to mistake, that he may snap up the kindly Scots that come over to see their kinsfolks."

"May I ask, kinsman," said Quentin, "what sort of people these are of whom you speak?"

"In troth you may ask," said his uncle, "but I know not, fair nephew, who is able to answer you. Not I, I am sure, although I know, it may be, as much as other people; but they appeared in this land within a year or two, just as a flight of locusts might do."

"Ay," said Lindesay, "and Jacques Bonhomme (that is our name for the peasant, young man -- you will learn our way of talk in time) -- honest Jacques, I say, cares little what wind either brings them or the locusts, so he but knows any gale that would carry them away again."

"Do they do so much evil?" asked the young man.

"Evil? why, boy, they are heathens, or Jews, or Mahommedans at the least, and neither worship Our Lady, nor the Saints" (crossing himself) "and steal what they can lay hands on, and sing, and tell fortunes," added Cunningham.

"And they say there are some goodly wenches amongst these," said Guthrie; "but Cunningham knows that best."

"How, brother!" said Cunningham. "I trust ye mean me no reproach?"

"I am sure I said ye none," answered Guthrie.

"I will be judged by the company," said Cunningham. "Ye said as much as that I, a Scottish gentleman, and living within pale of holy church, had a fair friend among these off scourings of Heathenesse."

"Nay, nay," said Balafre, "he did but jest. We will have no quarrels among comrades."

"We must have no such jesting then," said Cunningham, murmuring, as if he had been speaking to his own beard.

"Be there such vagabonds in other lands than France?" said Lindesay.

"Ay, in good sooth, are there -- tribes of them have appeared in Germany, and in Spain, and in England," answered Balafre. "By the blessing of good Saint Andrew, Scotland is free of them yet."

"Scotland," said Cunningham, "is too cold, a country for locusts, and too poor a country for thieves."

"Or perhaps John Highlander will suffer no thieves to thrive there but his own," said Guthrie.

"I let you all know," said Balafre, "that I come from the Braes of Angus, and have gentle Highland kin in Glen Isla and I will not have the Highlanders slandered."

"You will not deny that they are cattle lifters?" said Guthrie.

"To drive a spreagh (to plunder) or so, is no thievery," said Balafre, "and that I will maintain when and how you dare."

"For shame, comrade!" said Cunningham, "who quarrels now? The young man should not see such mad misconstruction -- Come, here we are at the Chateau. I will bestow a runlet of wine to have a rouse in friendship, and drink to Scotland, Highland and Lowland both, if you will meet me at dinner at my quarters."

"Agreed -- agreed," said Balafre; "and I will bestow another to wash away unkindness, and to drink a health to my nephew on his first entrance to our corps."

At their approach, the wicket was opened, and the drawbridge fell. One by one they entered; but when Quentin appeared, the sentinels crossed their pikes, and commanded him to stand, while bows were bent, and harquebusses aimed at him from the walls, a rigour of vigilance used, notwithstanding that the young stranger came in company of a party of the garrison, nay, of the very body which furnished the sentinels who were then upon duty.

Le Balafre, who had remained by his nephew's side on purpose, gave the necessary explanations, and, after some considerable hesitation and delay, the youth was conveyed under a strong guard to the Lord Crawford's apartment.

This Scottish nobleman was one of the last relics of the gallant band of Scottish lords and knights who had so long and so truly served Charles VI in those bloody wars which decided the independence of the French crown, and the expulsion of the English. He had fought, when a boy, abreast with Douglas and with Buchan, had ridden beneath the banner of the Maid of Arc, and was perhaps one of the last of those associates of Scottish chivalry who had so willingly drawn their swords for the fleur de lys, against their "auld enemies of England." Changes which had taken place in the Scottish kingdom, and perhaps his having become habituated to French climate and manners, had induced the old Baron to resign all thoughts of returning to his native country, the rather that the high office which he held in the household of Louis and his own frank and loyal character had gained a considerable ascendancy over the King, who, though in general no ready believer in human virtue or honour, trusted and confided in those of the Lord Crawford, and allowed him the greater influence, because he was never known to interfere excepting in matters which concerned his charge.

(Douglas: fourth earl of Douglas. He was created Duke of Touraine in 1423 by Charles VII of France.)

(Buchan: Regent of Scotland and grandson of Robert II. He entered the service of Charles VII in 1420, and was appointed Constable of France.)

(Maid of Arc (1412-1431): Joan of Arc. She believed that God had called her to liberate France from the curse of the English who were besieging Orleans. In person she led the French troops from victory to victory until she saw the Dauphin crowned as Charles VII at Rheims. She was then betrayed by her people into the hands of the English, who, in 1431, sentenced her to the flames.)

Balafre and Cunningham followed Durward and the guard to the apartment of their officer, by whose dignified appearance, as well as with the respect paid to him by these proud soldiers, who seemed to respect no one else, the young man was much and strongly impressed.

Lord Crawford was tall, and through advanced age had become gaunt and thin; yet retaining in his sinews the strength, at least, if not the elasticity, of youth, he was able to endure the weight of his armour during a march as well as the youngest man who rode in his band. He was hard favoured, with a scarred and weather-beaten countenance, and an eye that had looked upon death as his playfellow in thirty pitched battles, but which nevertheless expressed a calm contempt of danger, rather than the ferocious courage of a mercenary soldier. His tall, erect figure was at present wrapped in a loose chamber gown, secured around him by his buff belt, in which was suspended his richly hilted poniard. He had round his neck the collar and badge of the order of Saint Michael (a patron saint of France. In 1469, a military order was instituted in his honour by Louis XI). He sat upon a couch covered with deer's hide, and with spectacles on his nose (then a recent invention) was labouring to read a huge manuscript called the Rosier de la Guerre, a code of military and civil policy which Louis had compiled for the benefit of his son the Dauphin, and upon which he was desirous to have the opinion of the experienced Scottish warrior.

Lord Crawford laid his book somewhat peevishly aside upon the entrance of these unexpected visitors, and demanded, in his broad national dialect, what, in the foul fiend's name, they lacked now.

Le Balafre, with more respect than perhaps he would have shown to Louis himself, stated at full length the circumstances in which his nephew was placed, and humbly requested his Lordship's protection. Lord Crawford listened very attentively. He could not but smile at the simplicity with which the youth had interfered in behalf of the hanged criminal, but he shook his head at the account which he received of the ruffle betwixt the Scottish Archers and the Provost Marshal's guard.

(Such disputes between the Scots Guards and the other constituted authorities of the ordinary military corps often occurred. In 1474, two Scotsmen had been concerned in robbing . . . a fishmonger of a large sum of money. They were accordingly apprehended by Philip du Four, Provost, with some of his followers. But ere they could lodge one of them, . . in the prison of the Chastellet, they were attacked by two Archers of the King's Scottish Guard, who rescued the prisoner. . . . S.)

"How often," he said, "will you bring me such ill winded pirns to ravel out? How often must I tell you, and especially both you, Ludovic Lesly, and you, Archie Cunningham, that the foreign soldier should bear himself modestly and decorously towards the people of the country if you would not have the whole dogs of the town at your heels? However, if you must have a bargain (a quarrel, videlicet. S.), I would rather it were with that loon of a Provost than any one else; and I blame you less for this onslaught than for other frays that you have made, Ludovic, for it was but natural and kind-like to help your young kinsman. This simple bairn must come to no skaith (same as scathe) neither; so give me the roll of the company yonder down from the shelf, and we will even add his name to the troop, that he may enjoy the privileges."

"May it please your Lordship" said Durward.

"Is the lad crazed?" exclaimed his uncle. "Would you speak to his Lordship without a question asked?"

"Patience, Ludovic," said Lord Crawford, "and let us hear what the bairn has to say."

"Only this, if it may please your Lordship," replied Quentin, "that I told my uncle formerly I had some doubts about entering this service. I have now to say that they are entirely removed, since I have seen the noble and experienced commander under whom I am to serve; for there is authority in your look."

"Weel said, my bairn," said the old Lord, not insensible to the compliment; "we have had some experience, had God sent us grace to improve by it, both in service and in command. There you stand, Quentin, in our honourable corps of Scottish Bodyguards, as esquire to your uncle, and serving under his lance. I trust you will do well, for you should be a right man at arms, if all be good that is upcome (that is, if your courage corresponds with your personal appearance. S.), and you are come of a gentle kindred. -- Ludovic, you will see that your kinsman follow his exercise diligently, for we will have spears breaking one of these days."

"By my hilts, and I am glad of it, my Lord -- this peace makes cowards of us all. I myself feel a sort of decay of spirit, closed up in this cursed dungeon of a Castle."

"Well, a bird whistled in my ear," continued Lord Crawford, "that the old banner will be soon dancing in the field again."

"I will drink a cup the deeper this evening to that very tune," said Balafre.

"Thou wilt drink to any tune," said Lord Crawford; "and I fear me, Ludovic, you will drink a bitter browst (as much liquor as is brewed at one time) of your own brewing one day."

Lesly, a little abashed, replied that it had not been his wont for many a day; but that his Lordship knew the use of the company, to have a carouse to the health of a new comrade.

"True," said the old leader, "I had forgot the occasion. I will send a few stoups of wine to assist your carouse; but let it be over by sunset. And, hark ye -- let the soldiers for duty he carefully pricked off; and see that none of them be more or less partakers of your debauch."

"Your Lordship shall be lawfully obeyed," said Ludovic, "and your health duly remembered."

"Perhaps," said Lord Crawford, "I may look in myself upon your mirth -- just to see that all is carried decently."

"Your Lordship shall be most dearly welcome;" said Ludovic; and the whole party retreated in high spirits to prepare for their military banquet, to which Lesly invited about a score of his comrades, who were pretty much in the habit of making their mess together.

A soldier's festival is generally a very extempore affair, providing there is enough of meat and drink to be had; but on the present occasion, Ludovic bustled about to procure some better wine than ordinary; observing that the old Lord was the surest gear in their aught, and that, while he preached sobriety to them, he himself, after drinking at the royal table as much wine as he could honestly come by, never omitted any creditable opportunity to fill up the evening over the wine pot.

"So you must prepare, comrades," he said, "to hear the old histories of the battles of Vernoil and Beauge (in both these battles the Scottish auxiliaries of France, under Stewart, Earl of Buchan, were distinguished. . . . S.)."

The Gothic apartment in which they generally met was, therefore, hastily put into the best order; their grooms were dispatched to collect green rushes to spread upon the floor; and banners, under which the Scottish Guard had marched to battle, or which they had taken from the enemies' ranks, were displayed, by way of tapestry, over the table and around the walls of the chamber.

The next point was, to invest the young recruit as hastily as possible with the dress and appropriate arms of the Guard, that he might appear in every respect the sharer of its important privileges, in virtue of which, and by the support of his countrymen, he might freely brave the power and the displeasure of the Provost Marshal -- although the one was known to be as formidable as the other was unrelenting.

The banquet was joyous in the highest degree; and the guests gave vent to the whole current of their national partiality on receiving into their ranks a recruit from their beloved fatherland. Old Scottish songs were sung, old tales of Scottish heroes told -- the achievements of their fathers, and the scenes in which they were wrought, were recalled to mind; and, for a time, the rich plains of Touraine seemed converted into the mountainous and sterile regions of Caledonia.

When their enthusiasm was at high flood, and each was endeavouring to say something to enhance the dear remembrance of Scotland, it received a new impulse from the arrival of Lord Crawford, who, as Le Balafre had well prophesied, sat as it were on thorns at the royal board, until an opportunity occurred of making his escape to the revelry of his own countrymen. A chair of state had been reserved for him at the upper end of the table; for, according to the manners of the age and the constitution of that body, although their leader and commander under the King and High Constable, the members of the corps (as we should now say, the privates) being all ranked as noble by birth, their captain sat with them at the same table without impropriety, and might mingle when he chose in their festivity, without derogation from his dignity as commander.

At present, however, Lord Crawford declined occupying the seat prepared for him, and bidding them "hold themselves merry," stood looking on the revel with a countenance which seemed greatly to enjoy it.

"Let him alone," whispered Cunningham to Lindesay, as the latter offered the wine to their noble captain, "let him alone -- hurry no man's cattle -- let him take it of his own accord."

In fact, the old Lord, who at first smiled, shook his head, and placed the untasted winecup before him, began presently, as if it were in absence of mind, to sip a little of the contents, and in doing so, fortunately recollected that it would be ill luck did he not drink a draught to the health of the gallant lad who had joined them this day. The pledge was filled, and answered, as may well be supposed, with many a joyous shout, when the old leader proceeded to acquaint them that he had possessed Master Oliver with an account of what had passed that day.

"And as," he said, "the scraper of chins hath no great love for the stretcher of throats, he has joined me in obtaining from the King an order, commanding the Provost to suspend all proceedings, under whatever pretence, against Quentin Durward; and to respect, on all occasions, the privileges of the Scottish guard."

Another shout broke forth, the cups were again filled till the wine sparkled on the brim, and there was an acclaim to the health of the noble Lord Crawford, the brave conservator of the privileges and rights of his countrymen. The good old Lord could not but in courtesy do reason to this pledge also, and gliding into the ready chair; as it were, without reflecting what he was doing, he caused Quentin to come up beside him, and assailed him with many more questions concerning the state of Scotland, and the great families there, than he was well able to answer, while ever and anon, in the course of his queries, the good Lord kissed the wine cup by way of parenthesis, remarking that sociality became Scottish gentlemen, but that young men, like Quentin, ought to practise it cautiously, lest it might degenerate into excess; upon which occasion he uttered many excellent things, until his own tongue, although employed in the praises of temperance, began to articulate something thicker than usual. It was now that, while the military ardour of the company augmented with each flagon which they emptied, Cunningham called on them to drink the speedy hoisting of the Oriflamme, the royal banner of France.

"And a breeze of Burgundy to fan it!" echoed Lindesay.

"With all the soul that is left in this worn body do I accept the pledge, bairns," echoed Lord Crawford; "and as old as I am, I trust I may see it flutter yet. Hark ye, my mates," (for wine had made him something communicative), "ye are all true servants to the French crown, and wherefore should ye not know there is an envoy come from Duke Charles of Burgundy, with a message of an angry favour?"

"I saw the Count of Crevecoeur's equipage, horses, and retinue," said another of the guests, "down at the inn yonder at the Mulberry Grove. They say the King will not admit him into the Castle."

"Now, Heaven send him an ungracious answer!" said Guthrie; "but what is it he complains of?"

"A world of grievances upon the frontier," said Lord Crawford; "and latterly, that the King hath received under his protection a lady of his land, a young Countess, who hath fled from Dijon, because, being a ward of the Duke, he would have her marry his favourite, Campobasso."

"And hath she actually come hither alone, my lord?" said Lindesay.

"Nay, not altogether alone, but with the old Countess, her kinswoman, who hath yielded to her cousin's wishes in this matter."

"And will the King," said Cunningham, "he being the Duke's feudal sovereign, interfere between the Duke and his ward, over whom Charles hath the same right, which, were he himself dead, the King would have over the heiress of Burgundy?"

"The King will be ruled as he is wont, by rules of policy, and you know," continued Crawford, "that he hath not publicly received these ladies, nor placed them under the protection of his daughters, the Lady of Beaujeu, or the Princess Joan, so, doubtless, he will be guided by circumstances. He is our Master -- but it is no treason to say, he will chase with the hounds, and run with the hare, with any prince in Christendom."

"But the Duke of Burgundy understands no such doubling;" said Cunningham.

"No," answered the old Lord; "and, therefore, it is likely to make work between them."

"Well -- Saint Andrew further the fray!" said Le Balafre. "I had it foretold me ten, ay, twenty years since, that I was to make the fortune of my house by marriage. Who knows what may happen, if once we come to fight for honour and ladies' love, as they do in the old romaunts."

"Thou name ladies' love, with such a trench in thy visage!" said Guthrie.

"As well not love at all, as love a Bohemian woman of Heathenesse," retorted Le Balafre.

"Hold there, comrades," said Lord Crawford; "no tilting with sharp weapons, no jesting with keen scoffs -- friends all. And for the lady, she is too wealthy to fall to a poor Scottish lord, or I would put in my own claim, fourscore years and all, or not very far from it. But here is her health, nevertheless, for they say she is a lamp of beauty."

"I think I saw her," said another soldier, "when I was upon guard this morning at the inner barrier; but she was more like a dark lantern than a lamp, for she and another were brought into the Chateau in close litters."

"Shame! shame! Arnot!" said Lord Crawford; "a soldier on duty should say naught of what he sees. Besides," he added after a pause, his own curiosity prevailing over the show of discipline which he had thought it necessary to exert, "why should these litters contain this very same Countess Isabelle de Croye?"

"Nay, my Lord," replied Arnot, "I know nothing of it save this, that my coutelier was airing my horses in the road to the village, and fell in with Doguin the muleteer, who brought back the litters to the inn, for they belong to the fellow of the Mulberry Grove yonder -- he of the Fleur de Lys, I mean -- and so Doguin asked Saunders Steed to take a cup of wine, as they were acquainted, which he was no doubt willing enough to do."

"No doubt -- no doubt," said the old Lord; "it is a thing I wish were corrected among you, gentlemen; but all your grooms, and couteliers, and jackmen as we should call them in Scotland, are but too ready to take a cup of wine with any one. -- It is a thing perilous in war, and must be amended. But, Andrew Arnot, this is a long tale of yours, and we will cut it with a drink; as the Highlander says, Skeoch doch nan skial ('Cut a tale with a drink;' an expression used when a man preaches over his liquor, as bons vivants say in England. S.); and that 's good Gaelic. -- Here is to the Countess Isabelle of Croye, and a better husband to her than Campobasso, who is a base Italian cullion! -- And now, Andrew Arnot, what said the muleteer to this yeoman of thine?"

"Why, he told him in secrecy, if it please your Lordship," continued Arnot, "that these two ladies whom he had presently before convoyed up to the Castle in the close litters, were great ladies, who had been living in secret at his house for some days, and that the King had visited them more than once very privately, and had done them great honour; and that they had fled up to the Castle, as he believed, for fear of the Count de Crevecoeur, the Duke of Burgundy's ambassador, whose approach was just announced by an advanced courier."

"Ay, Andrew, come you there to me?" said Guthrie. "Then I will be sworn it was the Countess whose voice I heard singing to the lute, as I came even now through the inner court -- the sound came from the bay windows of the Dauphin's Tower; and such melody was there as no one ever heard before in the Castle of Plessis of the Park. By my faith, I thought it was the music of the Fairy Melusina's making. There I stood -- though I knew your board was covered, and that you were all impatient -- there I stood like --"

(The Fairy Melusina: a water fay who married a mortal on condition that she should be allowed to spend her Saturdays in deep seclusion. This promise, after many years, was broken, and Melusina, half serpent, half woman, was discovered swimming in a bath. For this breach of faith on the part of her husband, Melusina was compelled to leave her home. She regularly returned, however, before the death of any of the lords of her family, and by her wailings foretold that event. Her history is closely interwoven with the legends of the Banshee and Mermaid.)

"-- Like an ass, Johnny Guthrie," said his commander; "thy long nose smelling the dinner, thy long ears hearing the music, and thy short discretion not enabling thee to decide which of them thou didst prefer. -- Hark! is that not the Cathedral bell tolling to vespers? -- Sure it cannot be that time yet? The mad old sexton has toll'd evensong an hour too soon."

"In faith, the bell rings but too justly the hour," said Cunningham; "yonder the sun is sinking on the west side of the fair plain."

"Ay," said the Lord Crawford, "is it even so? -- Well, lads, we must live within compass. -- Fair and soft goes far -- slow fire makes sweet malt -- to be merry and wise is a sound proverb. -- One other rouse to the weal of old Scotland, and then each man to his duty."

The parting cup was emptied, and the guests dismissed -- the stately old Baron taking the Balafre's arm, under pretence of giving him some instructions concerning his nephew, but, perhaps, in reality, lest his own lofty pace should seem in the public eye less steady than became his rank and high command. A serious countenance did he bear as he passed through the two courts which separated his lodging from the festal chamber, and solemn as the gravity of a hogshead was the farewell caution with which he prayed Ludovic to attend his nephew's motions, especially in the matters of wenches and wine cups.

Meanwhile, not a word that was spoken concerning the beautiful Countess Isabelle had escaped the young Durward, who, conducted into a small cabin, which he was to share with his uncle's page, made his new and lowly abode the scene of much high musing. The reader will easily imagine that the young soldier should build a fine romance on such a foundation as the supposed, or rather the assumed, identification of the Maiden of the Turret, to whose lay he had listened with so much interest, and the fair cup bearer of Maitre Pierre, with a fugitive Countess of rank and wealth, flying from the pursuit of a hated lover, the favourite of an oppressive guardian, who abused his feudal power. There was an interlude in Quentin's vision concerning Maitre Pierre, who seemed to exercise such authority even over the formidable officer from whose hands he had that day, with much difficulty, made his escape. At length the youth's reveries, which had been respected by little Will Harper, the companion of his cell, were broken in upon by the return of his uncle, who commanded Quentin to bed, that he might arise betimes in the morning, and attend him to his Majesty's antechamber, to which he was called by his hour of duty, along with five of his comrades.

地方官:请把法典给我拿下来——念这些条文——宣誓,吻吻

圣经——签下你的名字,去当一个英勇的士兵。

为你今后将于出的英勇业绩,

从国库中取出你应得的一份——

每天六便士再加给养和补助金。

《募兵官》

射手们叫一个扈从步行,腾出一匹马来让昆丁·达威特骑上。他那些威武的同胞们便陪同他朝普莱西城堡的方向快速地骑去。尽管他并非心甘情愿,但事实上他将住进那今早还使他感到惊奇的阴暗城堡,成为它的一个居民。

途中他舅父反复询问使他遭受重大危险的这一事件的经过。他向他作了一番详尽的介绍。虽然他觉得自己这个叙述应该十分感人,毫无可笑之处,却不料在保护他的同行者当中引起一阵哄笑。

“不过,这的确也不是什么好笑的事。”他舅父说道,“究竟撞了什么鬼。使得这不懂事的娃娃硬要去干预一个不信基督的半犹太半摩尔的异教徒尸体呢?”

“要是他像莫法特·米歇尔那样,为了一个漂亮姑娘和军法总监的人吵架,那犹可说。”坎宁安讲道。

“不过,我认为特里斯顿和他的手下人竟装作分不清我们苏格兰人的无边帽和偷鸡摸狗的流浪汉戴的所谓的包头巾,也真是故意在损害我们的尊严。”林赛说,“如果他们对这差别视而不见,那就得用拳头教他们明白。不过,我倒认为特里斯顿是假装误会,以便在善良的苏格兰人来这里探亲时把他们吃掉。”

“舅舅,我可以问问你们谈的是些什么人吗?”昆丁问道。

“当然可以,”他舅父回答道,“不过,好外甥,我不知道谁能回答你这个问题。我肯定不能回答你。不过,别人知道的也不见得比我更多。听说他们是像群蝗虫那样在最近一两年来到法国的。”

“是的,”林赛说道,“老实的杰克(小伙子,老实的杰克是这儿农民的绰号——到时候你就会学会我们谈话的方式)——老实的杰克并不在乎是什么风把他们刮来或把蝗虫刮来,他们只关心什么风会把这些再刮走。”

“他们干了很多坏事吗?”年轻人问道。

“坏事?嘿,孩子,他们是些异教徒,或者说犹太人,至少也是穆罕默德的门徒,既不崇拜圣母也不崇拜圣徒”——(他划了个十字)——“摸得着什么就偷什么,而且能唱歌,会算命。”坎宁安补充说道。

“有人说他们的女人当中有些很漂亮的货色,”古特里说道,“不过,这点坎宁安知道得最清楚。”

“兄弟,你是怎么了!”坎宁安说道,“我想,你不是想说我的坏话吧?”

“我相信我并没有说你什么坏话。”古特里对答道。

“我希望卫队给我断断这个事,”坎宁安说道,“你这等于说我,一个苏格兰绅士,生活在神圣教会的管辖下,却在这些社会渣滓般的女异教徒当中有个相好的。”

“别这么说,别这么说,”巴拉弗雷调解道,“他只不过是开开玩笑——伙伴们之间不要吵架。”

“那我们也不应该开这种玩笑。”坎宁安喃喃说道,仿佛是在跟自己的胡子讲话。

“除了法国以外,别的国家也有这种流浪人吗?”林赛问道。

“是的,别的国家也有——他们在德国、西班牙、英国都已成群地出现。”巴拉弗雷回答道,“托圣安德鲁的福,苏格兰还没有受到他们的打扰。”

“苏格兰这国家太冷,蝗虫受不了,”坎宁安接着说道,“也太穷,小偷在那儿呆不下去。”

“也许苏格兰高原人只许自己的小偷而不许别的小偷有发展余地。”古特里说道。

“我想提醒你们大伙,”巴拉弗雷说,“我是安古斯山的人,在格兰一依斯拉有我一些高贵的亲戚,我不容许别人污蔑苏格兰高原人。”

“你不否认他们偷牲口吧?”古特里说道。

“抢几头牛什么的算不上偷。”巴拉弗雷说道,“要是你敢偷牲口,不管你什么时候偷,以什么方式,我也还是会坚持说这不算偷。”

“伙计,你真不害臊,”坎宁安说,“谁在找碴?你不应当让这年轻人听到这种毫无道理的曲解。好了,我们已经来到城堡了。只要你愿意在敝舍共进午餐,我愿献上一瓮好酒,为友谊痛饮,为苏格兰的高原和低地干杯。”

“同意——同意,”巴拉弗雷说道,“我也将献上好酒一坛,用酒来洗掉人间的不仁,并庆祝我外甥参加我们卫队。”

当他们走近时,小门打开,吊桥放了下来。他们一个挨一个走了进去。当昆丁正要跨进门的时候,哨兵架起两根长矛挡他的驾,命令他站住,同时弓箭手张好了弓,墙上的火统枪也瞄准他——真算得上是一种高度严密的警戒,尽管陪同这年轻人来到城堡的是国王卫队的一伙人,其中还有布置过这些岗哨的军官。

勒巴拉弗雷特意留在外甥旁边,作了一些必要的解释。经过一番犹豫和迟疑之后,哨兵才决定让这年轻人由一个强健的卫兵护送到克劳福德大公的住所。

这位苏格兰贵族是在那最终驱逐了英国人从而赢得法国王权独立的血腥战争中,长期为查尔斯第六忠诚服务的一代苏格兰贵族中最后遗留下来的几位风云人物之一。早在少年时代他就曾和道格拉斯与布堪并肩战斗,英勇驰骋在圣女贞德的麾下,也许是曾为百合花的王徽挥戈上阵,抵抗其英国敌人的苏格兰骑士团的遗老之一。由于苏格兰国内发生的变化,也由于他已习惯法国的气候和风俗,这位年老的男爵已完全放弃了返回祖国的念头,而在路易王的宫廷中身居要职。国王很欣赏他那坦率真诚的性格。虽然一般说来,他并不轻易相信别人的美德或荣誉感,但他却很信赖克劳福德的这些品质,并让他拥有较大的权威。再说,也从没听说过他越权干预不该他管的事。

巴拉弗雷和坎宁安跟在达威特和警卫人员后面来到长官的住所。看到这位军官有副威严的仪表,连那些瞧不起别人的高傲武士也都对他表示尊敬,这就很快给年轻的达威特留下了深刻的印象。

克劳福德身材高大,但由于年迈而显得瘦削。他的肌肉固然已失去年轻时的弹性,但至少筋骨还强健,还能够像年轻的士兵那样忍受铠甲的重荷,骑马行军。他样子很难看。风吹日晒过的脸上长着伤疤。眼睛里流露出一种历经三十次鏖战视死如归的表情。但这里所表现出的是对危险泰然处之的态度,而不是雇佣军那种凶狠的匹夫之勇。他那高大挺直的身躯裹着一件宽松的长袍。腰间则系着一条黄牛皮制的皮带,挂着一把装有华丽手柄的大刀。脖子上围着圣米歇尔僧派的领饰和徽章。这时他鼻梁上架着一副眼镜(当时还刚发明不久),正坐在铺有鹿皮的坐榻上专心地读一本称之为(战争纪事)的大卷手稿。这是路易王为了皇太子编纂的一本论述军事策略和国内政策的典籍。他很想就这本书征求这位经验丰富的苏格兰武士的高见。

看到这几个不速之客走了进来,克劳福德有点生气地把书往旁边一搁,以很重的苏格兰土腔说道:“鬼晓得他们要找我干什么?”

勒巴拉弗雷以对路易王都可能不会表示出的尊敬向他详细介绍他外甥目前的处境,谦恭地请求他给予保护。克劳福德大公仔细地听他讲。对于年轻的达威特过问被处绞刑的罪犯所表现的天真他不能不感到好笑,但在听完他们介绍苏格兰射手和军法总监之间的冲突之后却只顾摇头。

“你们干吗老拿这种倒霉事叫我处理?我跟你们讲了多少次了,特别是你卢德维克·莱斯利还有你阿尔琪·坎宁安,要是你们不想惹得全城人都来反对你们,你们外籍士兵对待本国人就得谦虚有礼。不过,如果你们硬要闹矛盾嘛,跟那个草包总监闹,总比跟别人闹更好。卢德维克,对于你这次惹的乱于,我也不能按你以往惹的祸那样来责怪你,因为救助自己年幼的亲人是人之常情,也是很仁慈的举动。再说,这个天真的娃娃也不应遭到不幸。你就把书架上那个卫队名册拿下来,让我们把他的名字添上,好让他享受特权吧。”

“大人请听我说——”达威特开了口。

“这孩子疯了!”他舅父吃惊地嚷道,“也不先问问,就对大人讲话。”

“耐心点,卢德维克,”克劳福德说道,“让我们听听这娃娃有什么话要讲吧。”

“如果大人愿意听的话,我有一点想说明。”昆丁说道,“我曾向舅父说过,参加这个卫队我有点犹豫,但我看到将领导我的是您这位高贵而有经验的长官,我的犹豫已完全消除,因为您有一种威严的目光。”

“你说得对,我的娃娃,”对这恭维并非无动于衷的老年人说道,“我在服役和指挥方面都有些经验。但愿蒙上帝的恩宠,我能因此得到某些好处。昆丁,你在我们光荣的苏格兰近卫军团中将充当你舅舅的扈从,在他手下服役。我相信你会干得很出色。如果你的勇气和外表一致的话,你会成为一个好的武士。再说,你也出身于名门望族。卢德维克,你得督促你外甥勤奋操练,因为总有一天我们会打仗的。”

“大人,凭我的刀把子说,我真高兴有机会打仗——和平会把我们都变成懦夫。成天关在这可恨的地牢般的城堡里,我自己也感到有点萎靡不振了。”

“好吧,我告诉你们我听到的一点消息,”克劳福德大公继续说道,“我们古老的战旗又会重新在战场上飘扬了。”

“今晚我将多喝些酒来祝贺这个好消息。”巴拉弗雷说道。

“我看,任何消息都能使你干上几杯。”克劳福德说道,“卢德维克,我担心总有一天你会喝你自己酿的苦酒的。”

莱斯利有点难为情地回答道:“我好些天没喝酒了。不过,大人知道,我们卫队按照惯例得为新参加的伙伴的健康畅饮一杯。”

“你说得很对,”年老的卫队长说道,“我把这事给忘了。我愿送几壶酒给你们助兴。不过天黑以前你们得收场。要注意别把站岗的哨兵和你们算在一起。他们谁也不得或多或少参与你们的纵情畅饮。”

“我们将遵守规定,服从大人的命令,”卢德维克说道,“我们也不会忘记为您的健康干杯。”

“在你们欢宴的时候也许我会亲自去看看——只是瞧瞧是否一切合乎规矩。”

“大人将受到热烈欢迎。”卢德维克说道。这时大伙都兴高采烈地告辞出来,以准备他们的军人宴会。莱斯利邀请了常一道进餐的二十来个伙伴。

军人宴会一般是临时草草举办起来的。反正只要能弄到足够的酒肉就行。但为了当前的情况,卢德维克却忙着想搞点比往常更好的美酒。他说年老的克劳福德大公肯定是他们当中最能喝的一个,尽管他告诫他们别喝醉,即使他在御桌上老老实实喝够了他能得到手的美酒之后,也决不会放弃在酒罐上消夜的好机会。“所以,伙计们,”他说,“你们得准备好听他讲维尔努瓦尔和博热战役的故事。”

他们很快将平常聚会用的一间哥德式房屋布置得整整齐齐,然后打发马弁去采集铺地板的绿灯芯草,并将苏格兰卫队的战旗和从敌人手中缴获的旗帜铺在桌上、挂在墙上作为装饰。

下一步就是用卫队的衣服和武器将年轻的新兵尽快装备起来,好使他在各方面都显得有资格分享卫队的重要特权;仰仗这一特权,加上同胞们的支持,他便可以泰然对付军法总监的权力和不满——尽管他的不满令人生畏,而他使用权力时也从不手软。

宴会的气氛极为欢快。看到一个来自可爱的祖国的新兵被接纳进他们的行列,客人们都尽情地表露出他们的民族自豪感。他们唱着古老的苏格兰民歌,讲着赞美苏格兰英雄的古老传说——回想起他们祖先的业绩,以及创造这些业绩的情景。那富饶的都兰平原一时似乎变成了苏格兰贫瘠的山区。

当他们正热情高涨,每个人都争着想说点什么来使大家更好地回忆故乡时,克劳福德大人的光临给这股热情带来了新的活力。正如巴拉弗雷预言的那样,克劳福德在御桌上如坐针毡,一有机会便溜了出来参加同胞们的宴会。人们早为他留了一个荣誉的上座。根据当代的习俗和卫队的制度,既然卫队成员(或我们现在所说的列兵)都因其出身而被视为贵族,那么尽管队长属于国王和总督管辖下的司令官,他也可以不违礼仪地和他们同桌吃饭;只要他愿意,也可以参加他们的欢宴,而无损其司令官的尊严。

不过克劳福德大人这次谢绝了给他留的上座,叫他们“只管乐你们的”,自己则站着看他们饮酒作乐,脸上露出似乎非常愉快的表情。

“让他去吧,”林赛向高贵的队长献酒之后,坎宁安悄悄对他说道,“让他去吧——你别赶牛喝水——让他自己唱好了。”

年老的贵族先微笑了一下,然后摇摇头,把尚未喝过的酒杯摆在自己面前。但他心不在焉地呷了一小口,突然幸运地想起,要是他不为今天参加他们队伍的好小伙子的健康干一杯,那将是很不吉利的。他提出向他祝酒。正如可以猜想到的,他的祝酒得到了一片欢呼作为对他的热烈响应。年老的队长接着告诉大家,他已向奥利弗老爷报告了当天发生的情况,得到了他的庇护。“既然括下巴胡子的人对勒脖子的人并没有多大好感,他便和我一道设法从国王那里搞到了一道赦令,命令军法总监不得以任何借口对昆丁·达威特采取行动,并在任何情况下都必须尊重苏格兰卫队的特权。”

又爆发出一阵欢呼声。大伙再次斟满酒,只见酒杯的边缘上都闪着酒的泡沫。人们为勇敢维护同胞权利的高贵的克劳福德大人的健康齐声祝酒。年老的大公也只好按礼节答谢,并不假思索似地滑进了为他准备好的椅子。这时他把昆丁叫来,站在自己身边,向他问了一连串有关苏格兰及其望族现状的问题,使得这年轻人不知如何回答是好。在询问当中,慈祥的大公不时附带亲亲酒杯,并发表意见说,苏格兰的绅士固然应当爱好交际,但像昆丁这样的年轻人则应慎重行事,以免失之过度。就此他又说了许多动听的话,但他那正在赞扬节制的舌头却不觉开始发出某种比平常更混浊的声音。随着他们喝下的每瓶酒,军人豪爽的气概也在不断高涨。这时坎宁安邀请他们为火焰旗(法国的皇家旌旗)的顺利升起祝酒。

“再加勃艮第的微风为它吹拂!”林赛应和道。

“孩子们,我虽然身体衰疲,但我愿以我全部的心灵同意这个祝酒。”克劳福德大公也应和道,“别看我年事已高,我相信我还能见它猎猎飘扬。朋友们,听我说吧,”(这时酒已使他变得更爱说话)“你们都是法国国王的忠实仆人,我应当告诉你们,勃艮第的查尔斯公爵派来了特使,带来了抗议信。”

“我见到了克雷维格伯爵的车马和随从,”另一个来客说到,“他们下榻在桑树林那边的旅店里。人们说,国王不会请他进城堡住。”

“愿上帝给他一个难堪的回答!”古特里说道,“不过,他到底要抗议什么?”

“边界上本来就有许许多多争端,”克劳福德大公说道,“而最近又加上国王对勃艮第来的一位贵妇人提供庇护。这是从第戎逃出来的一位伯爵小姐。公爵是她的监护人。他硬要她嫁给他的宠臣康波·巴索。”

“大人,她果真是一个人逃到这儿来的吗?”林赛问道。

“不,并不完全是一个人。她是和姑母——一位老伯爵夫人一道来的。姑母在这件事情上顺从了她的意愿。”

“既然国王是临驾于公爵之上的君主,”坎宁安说道,“他会在公爵和他的被保护人之间进行干预吗?要知道,查尔斯对他的被保护人拥有的权利,也正是查尔斯万一死了,国王将对勃艮第的王位女继承人拥有的权利。”

“国王会像他一贯的那样按策略原则行事;而你知道,”克劳福德继续说道,“他并没有公开接待这两位仕女,也没有把她们置于他女儿博若小姐或让娜公主的保护下。他肯定会根据情况来处理这件事。国王是我们的主人——不过,我可以不畏叛逆之嫌地说,他能和基督世界中的任何帝王耍耍两面讨好的游戏。”

“勃艮第公爵可不懂得耍两面派。”坎宁安说道。

“你说得不错,”年老的贵族回答道,“所以说在他们之间很可能会闹点名堂。”

“好吧,但愿圣安德鲁为这场争执推波助澜!”巴拉弗雷说道,“一二十年前人们就预言,我将通过婚姻使我们家族发迹。我们一旦像古老的爱情诗中所说的那样,为荣誉和仕女的爱情而战斗,谁知道会出现什么美事呢?”

“像你脸上这么大一条沟,配谈什么仕女的爱情!”古特里说道。

“和波希米亚的异教女人谈恋爱,还不如不谈恋爱。”巴拉弗雷反唇相讥地说道。

“住嘴,伙计们,”克劳福德大公说道,“打架别动刀枪,开玩笑别说刺人的挖苦话——大家都是朋友。至于说那位小姐嘛,她太有钱了,不会爱上一个苏格兰穷贵族,要不我也会拿我八十(或差点儿)的年纪作为本钱放上去争一争。不过,让我们还是为她干杯吧,因为据说她是一盏美丽的明灯。”

“我想我见过她,”另一个士兵说道,“今早我在内墙站岗的时候见过她。不过她更像个黑色的灯笼,而不大像盏明灯,因为她和另一个女人是用关着的轿子抬进城堡的。”

“我真替你难为情!阿诺特!”克劳福德大公说道,“你知道,哨兵是不许把他们看见的东西随便讲出来的。再说,”他停了片刻又补充说道,这时他自己的好奇心已胜过了他认为有必要强调的纪律观念,“这轿子怎么会抬的是这位伊莎贝尔·德·克罗伊埃伯爵小姐呢?”

“大人,我不知道,”阿诺特回答道,“我只知道这么回事:我的马弁拉着我的马在去村庄的路上蹓跶,碰见了轿夫多甘正把轿子送回旅店,因为轿子是向桑树林一个伙计——我指的是百合花旅店的老板——借的。多甘和那个桑德尔·斯蒂德是老相识,所以他请他去喝酒,这人当然乐于遵命——”

“这不用说,这不用说,”年老的克劳福德说道,“绅士们,这可是我希望在你们当中得到纠正的事。你们的马夫、马弁和我们在苏格兰称之为走卒的听差都乐于和别人喝上一杯——这种事在战争中很危险,必须纠正。安德鲁·阿诺特,你话说得够多了,让我们用杯酒结束它吧;正如高原人说的那样,要‘少说多喝’。这可是一句精妙的克尔特话——为克罗伊埃·伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐干杯,愿她能得到一个比康波·巴索更好的丈夫,因为他是一个卑鄙的意大利无赖!安德鲁·阿诺特,那个轿夫对你的听差讲了些什么?”

“如大人乐意听的话,他是透露了一个秘密,”阿诺特继续说道,“他说他不久前用关得严严的轿子送进城堡去的那两个妇人都是地位很高的仕女。她们在他主人家已秘密地住了好几天了。国王不止一次私下看望过她们,给了她们很大的荣誉。据他看,她们躲进城堡里来,是害怕见到勃艮第公爵的特使克雷维格伯爵。一位先遣使刚已宣布他即将到来。”

“嘿,安德鲁,你是在讲给我听吗?”古特里说,“如果是这样,那我要发誓说,我刚才走过内院时,听见和着琴声唱歌的准是那位伯爵小姐——声音来自‘皇太子塔楼’上的一个凸窗。这么美妙的歌声是御花园的普莱西城堡从没听见过的。说实在的,我还以为是仙女美卢赛纳在弹琴唱歌哩。我站着听——尽管我知道你们已摆好了酒席,已等得不耐烦——我还是站着听,就像——”

“就像一头蠢驴,琼尼·古特里。”队长说道,“你的长鼻子闻着酒席的香味,你的长耳朵听着音乐,而你短缺的判断力却无法使你决定到底更喜欢哪一个。听!大教堂不是在敲晚祷钟了吗?肯定还不到时间吧?那发了疯的教堂执事把晚祷钟提前了一个小时。”

“事实是钟敲得完全准确!”坎宁安说道,“你看在平原的那边太阳正在西沉。”

“嘿,”克劳福德大公说道,“可不真是这样?好吧,孩子们,我们得按规矩生活——一张一弛,圣人之道——文火才熬得出甜的麦芽糖——既要会享乐又要保持明智是我们信奉的健全格言——让我们为苏格兰的幸福再干一杯就各回各的岗位吧。”

喝完了分手前的最后一杯酒,伙伴们便回各自的岗位。威严的老男爵拉着巴拉弗雷的胳膊,假装是在吩咐他如何接待他外甥,实际上也许是担心自己那矜持的步伐在众人的眼里会显得不那么稳健,因而不适合他的身份和权位。当他走过他的住房和宴会厅之间的两个庭院时,脸上带着肃穆的表情。分手时他极其严肃地嘱咐卢德维克,要他特别是在女人和美酒的问题上多管管他外甥。

话说回来,他们讲过的有关美丽的伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐的每一句话都没有被年轻的达威特忽略过去。他一被领进他将和舅父的侍童共住的小屋以后,便在这简陋的新居中沉思起来。读者不难猜想,这年轻的武士正在建造一个罗曼蒂克的美妙楼阁,而其根据则是设想那歌声使他陶醉的塔楼女郎以及为皮埃尔老爷端酒的美丽侍女正是那有钱有地位的伯爵小姐,那为了逃脱可憎的未婚夫(这人是滥用封建权威压迫她的监护人豢养的一个宠臣)而流亡到法国的伊莎贝尔。在昆丁的梦幻中插进了有关皮埃尔老爷的回忆。他想起他好不容易才从他手上脱了身的那位军官,而皮埃尔老爷似乎对他也拥有很大的权威。年轻人的沉思一直受到他的室友威尔哈尔帕的尊重,直到最后他舅父进来才打断了他的思路。舅父命令他上床睡觉,以便明早按时起床,陪他去国王住处的前室,和五个伙伴一道值勤。



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