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Chapter 9 The Boar Hunt

I will converse with unrespective boys And iron witted fools. None are for me that look into me with suspicious eyes.

KING RICHARD

All the experience which the Cardinal had been able to collect of his master's disposition, did not, upon the present occasion, prevent his falling into a great error of policy. His vanity induced him to think that he had been more successful in prevailing upon the Count of Crevecoeur to remain at Tours, than any other moderator whom the King might have employed, would, in all probability, have been. And as he was well aware of the importance which Louis attached to the postponement of a war with the Duke of Burgundy, he could not help showing that he conceived himself to have rendered the King great and acceptable service. He pressed nearer to the King's person than he was wont to do, and endeavoured to engage him in conversation on the events of the morning.

This was injudicious in more respects than one, for princes love not to see their subjects approach them with an air conscious of deserving, and thereby seeming desirous to extort, acknowledgment and recompense for their services; and Louis, the most jealous monarch that ever lived, was peculiarly averse and inaccessible to any one who seemed either to presume upon service rendered or to pry into his secrets.

Yet, hurried away, as the most cautious sometimes are, by the self satisfied humour of the moment, the Cardinal continued to ride on the King's right hand, turning the discourse, whenever it was possible, upon Crevecoeur and his embassy which, although it might be the matter at that moment most in the King's thoughts, was nevertheless precisely that which he was least willing to converse on. At length Louis, who had listened to him with attention, yet without having returned any answer which could tend to prolong the conversation, signed to Dunois, who rode at no great distance, to come up on the other side of his horse.

"We came hither for sport and exercise," said he, "but the reverend Father here would have us hold a council of state."

"I hope your Highness will excuse my assistance," said Dunois; "I am born to fight the battles of France, and have heart and hand for that, but I have no head for her councils."

"My Lord Cardinal hath a head turned for nothing else, Dunois," answered Louis; "he hath confessed Crevecoeur at the Castle gate, and he hath communicated to us his whole shrift. -- Said you not the whole?" he continued, with an emphasis on the word, and a glance at the Cardinal, which shot from betwixt his long dark eyelashes as a dagger gleams when it leaves the scabbard.

The Cardinal trembled, as, endeavouring to reply to the King's jest, he said that though his order were obliged to conceal the secrets of their penitents in general, there was no sigillum confessionis (seal of confession) which could not be melted at his Majesty's breath.

"And as his Eminence," said the King, "is ready to communicate the secrets of others to us, he naturally expects that we should be equally communicative to him; and, in order to get upon this reciprocal footing, he is very reasonably desirous to know if these two ladies of Croye be actually in our territories. We are sorry we cannot indulge his curiosity, not ourselves knowing in what precise place errant damsels, disguised princesses, distressed countesses, may lie leaguer within our dominions, which are, we thank God and our Lady of Embrun, rather too extensive for us to answer easily his Eminence's most reasonable inquiries. But supposing they were with us, what say you, Dunois, to our cousin's peremptory demand?"

"I will answer you, my Liege, if you will tell me in sincerity, whether you want war or peace," replied Dunois, with a frankness which, while it arose out of his own native openness and intrepidity of character, made him from time to time a considerable favourite with Louis, who, like all astucious persons, was as desirous of looking into the hearts of others as of concealing his own.

"By my halidome," said he, "I should be as well contented as thyself, Dunois, to tell thee my purpose, did I myself but know it exactly. But say I declared for war, what should I do with this beautiful and wealthy young heiress, supposing her to be in my dominions?"

"Bestow her in marriage on one of your own gallant followers, who has a heart to love, and an arm to protect her," said Dunois.

"Upon thyself, ha!" said the King. "Pasques dieu! thou art more politic than I took thee for, with all thy bluntness."

"Nay," answered Dunois, "I am aught except politic. By our Lady of Orleans, I come to the point at once, as I ride my horse at the ring. Your Majesty owes the house of Orleans at least one happy marriage."

"And I will pay it, Count. Pasques dieu, I will pay it! -- See you not yonder fair couple?"

The King pointed to the unhappy Duke of Orleans and the Princess, who, neither daring to remain at a greater distance from the King, nor in his sight appear separate from each other, were riding side by side, yet with an interval of two or three yards betwixt them, a space which timidity on the one side, and aversion on the other, prevented them from diminishing, while neither dared to increase it.

Dunois looked in the direction of the King's signal, and as the situation of his unfortunate relative and the destined bride reminded him of nothing so much as of two dogs, which, forcibly linked together, remain nevertheless as widely separated as the length of their collars will permit, he could not help shaking his head, though he ventured not on any other reply to the hypocritical tyrant. Louis seemed to guess his thoughts.

"It will be a peaceful and quiet household they will keep -- not much disturbed with children, I should augur. But these are not always a blessing."

(Here the King touches on the very purpose for which he pressed on the match with such tyrannic severity, which was that as the Princess's personal deformity admitted little chance of its being fruitful, the branch of Orleans, which was next in succession to the crown, might be, by the want of heirs, weakened or extinguished)

It was, perhaps, the recollection of his own filial ingratitude that made the King pause as he uttered the last reflection, and which converted the sneer that trembled on his lip into something resembling an expression of contrition. But he instantly proceeded in another tone.

"Frankly, my Dunois, much as I revere the holy sacrament of matrimony" (here he crossed himself), "I would rather the house of Orleans raised for me such gallant soldiers as thy father and thyself, who share the blood royal of France without claiming its rights, than that the country should be torn to pieces, like to England, by wars arising from the rivalry of legitimate candidates for the crown. The lion should never have more than one cub."

Dunois sighed and was silent, conscious that contradicting his arbitrary Sovereign might well hurt his kinsman's interests but could do him no service; yet he could not forbear adding, in the next moment,

"Since your Majesty has alluded to the birth of my father, I must needs own that, setting the frailty of his parents on one side, he might be termed happier, and more fortunate, as the son of lawless love than of conjugal hatred."

"Thou art a scandalous fellow, Dunois, to speak thus of holy wedlock," answered Louis jestingly. "But to the devil with the discourse, for the boar is unharboured. -- Lay on the dogs, in the name of the holy Saint Hubert! -- Ha! ha! tra-la-la-lira-la" -- And the King's horn rang merrily through the woods as he pushed forward on the chase, followed by two or three of his guards, amongst whom was our friend Quentin Durward. And here it was remarkable that, even in the keen prosecution of his favourite sport, the King in indulgence of his caustic disposition, found leisure to amuse himself by tormenting Cardinal Balue.

It was one of that able statesman's weaknesses, as we have elsewhere hinted, to suppose himself, though of low rank and limited education, qualified to play the courtier and the man of gallantry. He did not, indeed, actually enter the lists of chivalrous combat, like Becket, or levy soldiers, like Wolsey. But gallantry, in which they also were proficients, was his professed pursuit; and he likewise affected great fondness for the martial amusement of the chase. Yet, however well he might succeed with certain ladies, to whom his power, his wealth, and his influence as a statesman might atone for deficiencies in appearance and manners, the gallant horses, which he purchased at almost any price, were totally insensible to the dignity of carrying a Cardinal, and paid no more respect to him than they would have done to his father, the carter, miller, or tailor, whom he rivalled in horsemanship. The King knew this, and, by alternately exciting and checking his own horse, he brought that of the Cardinal, whom he kept close by his side, into such a state of mutiny against his rider, that it became apparent they must soon part company; and then, in the midst of its starting, bolting, rearing, and lashing out, alternately, the royal tormentor rendered the rider miserable, by questioning him upon many affairs of importance, and hinting his purpose to take that opportunity of communicating to him some of those secrets of state which the Cardinal had but a little while before seemed so anxious to learn.

(In imputing to the Cardinal a want of skill in horsemanship, I recollected his adventure in Paris when attacked by assassins, on which occasion his mule, being scared by the crowd, ran away with the rider, and taking its course to a monastery, to the abbot of which he formerly belonged; was the means of saving his master's life. . . . S.)

A more awkward situation could hardly be imagined than that of a privy councillor forced to listen to and reply to his sovereign, while each fresh gambade of his unmanageable horse placed him in a new and more precarious attitude -- his violet robe flying loose in every direction, and nothing securing him from an instant and perilous fall save the depth of the saddle, and its height before and behind. Dunois laughed without restraint; while the King, who had a private mode of enjoying his jest inwardly, without laughing aloud, mildly rebuked his minister on his eager passion for the chase, which would not permit him to dedicate a few moments to business.

"I will no longer be your hindrance to a course," continued he, addressing the terrified Cardinal, and giving his own horse the rein at the same time.

Before Balue could utter a word by way of answer or apology, his horse, seizing the bit with his teeth, went forth at an uncontrollable gallop, soon leaving behind the King and Dunois, who followed at a more regulated pace, enjoying the statesman's distressed predicament. If any of our readers has chanced to be run away with in his time (as we ourselves have in ours), he will have a full sense at once of the pain, peril, and absurdity of the situation. Those four limbs of the quadruped, which, noway under the rider's control, nor sometimes under that of the creature they more properly belong to, fly at such a rate as if the hindermost meant to overtake the foremost; those clinging legs of the biped which we so often wish safely planted on the greensward, but which now only augment our distress by pressing the animal's sides -- the hands which have forsaken the bridle for the mane -- the body, which, instead of sitting upright on the centre of gravity, as old Angelo (a celebrated riding and fencing master at the beginning of the nineteenth century) used to recommend, or stooping forward like a jockey's at Newmarket (the scene of the annual horse races has been at Newmarket Heath since the time of James I), lies, rather than hangs, crouched upon the back of the animal, with no better chance of saving itself than a sack of corn -- combine to make a picture more than sufficiently ludicrous to spectators, however uncomfortable to the exhibiter. But add to this some singularity of dress or appearance on the part of the unhappy cavalier -- a robe of office, a splendid uniform, or any other peculiarity of costume -- and let the scene of action be a race course, a review, a procession, or any other place of concourse and public display, and if the poor wight would escape being the object of a shout of inextinguishable laughter, he must contrive to break a limb or two, or, which will be more effectual, to be killed on the spot; for on no slighter condition will his fall excite anything like serious sympathy. On the present occasion, the short violet coloured gown of the Cardinal, which he used as riding dress (having changed his long robes before he left the Castle), his scarlet stockings, and scarlet hat, with the long strings hanging down, together with his utter helplessness, gave infinite zest to his exhibition of horsemanship.

The horse, having taken matters entirely into his own hand, flew rather than galloped up a long green avenue; overtook the pack in hard pursuit of the boar, and then, having overturned one or two yeomen prickers, who little expected to be charged in the rear -- having ridden down several dogs, and greatly confused the chase -- animated by the clamorous expostulations and threats of the huntsman, carried the terrified Cardinal past the formidable animal itself, which was rushing on at a speedy trot, furious and embossed with the foam which he churned around his tusks. Balue, on beholding himself so near the boar, set up a dreadful cry for help, which, or perhaps the sight of the boar, produced such an effect on his horse, that the animal interrupted its headlong career by suddenly springing to one side; so that the Cardinal, who had long kept his seat only because the motion was straight forward, now fell heavily to the ground. The conclusion of Balue's chase took place so near the boar that, had not the animal been at that moment too much engaged about his own affairs, the vicinity might have proved as fatal to the Cardinal, as it is said to have done to Favila, King of the Visigoths of Spain (he was killed by a bear while hunting). The powerful churchman got off, however, for the fright, and, crawling as hastily as he could out of the way of hounds and huntsmen, saw the whole chase sweep by him without affording him assistance, for hunters in those days were as little moved by sympathy for such misfortunes as they are in our own. The King, as he passed, said to Dunois, "Yonder lies his Eminence low enough -- he is no great huntsman, though for a fisher (when a secret is to be caught) he may match Saint Peter himself. He has, however, for once, I think, met with his match."

The Cardinal did not hear the words, but the scornful look with which they were spoken led him to suspect their general import. The devil is said to seize such opportunities of temptation as were now afforded by the passions of Balue, bitterly moved as they had been by the scorn of the King. The momentary fright was over so soon as he had assured himself that his fall was harmless; but mortified vanity, and resentment against his Sovereign, had a much longer influence on his feelings. After all the chase had passed him, a single cavalier, who seemed rather to be a spectator than a partaker of the sport, rode up with one or two attendants, and expressed no small surprise to find the Cardinal upon the ground, without a horse or attendants, and in such a plight as plainly showed the nature of the accident which had placed him there. To dismount, and offer his assistance in this predicament -- to cause one of his attendants to resign a staid and quiet palfrey for the Cardinal's use -- to express his surprise at the customs of the French Court, which thus permitted them to abandon to the dangers of the chase, and forsake in his need, their wisest statesman, were the natural modes of assistance and consolation which so strange a rencontre supplied to Crevecoeur, for it was the Burgundian ambassador who came to the assistance of the fallen Cardinal.

He found the minister in a lucky time and humour for essaying some of those practices on his fidelity, to which it is well known that Balue had the criminal weakness to listen. Already in the morning, as the jealous temper of Louis had suggested, more had passed betwixt them than the Cardinal durst have reported to his master. But although he had listened with gratified ears to the high value, which, he was assured by Crevecoeur, the Duke of Burgundy placed upon his person and talents, and not without a feeling of temptation, when the Count hinted at the munificence of his master's disposition, and the rich benefices of Flanders, it was not until the accident, as we have related, had highly irritated him that, stung with wounded vanity, he resolved, in a fatal hour, to show Louis XI that no enemy can be so dangerous as an offended friend and confidant. On the present occasions he hastily requested Crevecoeur to separate from him lest they should be observed, but appointed him a meeting for the evening in the Abbey of Saint Martin's at Tours, after vesper service; and that in a tone which assured the Burgundian that his master had obtained an advantage hardly to have been hoped for except in such a moment of exasperation. In the meanwhile, Louis, who, though the most politic Prince of his time, upon this, as on other occasions, had suffered his passions to interfere with his prudence, followed contentedly the chase of the wild boar, which was now come to an interesting point. It had so happened that a sounder (i.e., in the language of the period, a boar of only two years old), had crossed the track of the proper object of the chase, and withdrawn in pursuit of him all the dogs (except two or three couples of old stanch hounds) and the greater part of the huntsmen. The King saw, with internal glee, Dunois, as well as others, follow upon this false scent, and enjoyed in secret the thought of triumphing over that accomplished knight in the art of venerie, which was then thought almost as glorious as war. Louis was well mounted, and followed, close on the hounds; so that, when the original boar turned to bay in a marshy piece of ground, there was no one near him but the King himself. Louis showed all the bravery and expertness of an experienced huntsman; for, unheeding the danger, he rode up to the tremendous animal, which was defending itself with fury against the dogs, and struck him with his boar spear; yet, as the horse shied from the boar, the blow was not so effectual as either to kill or disable him. No effort could prevail on the horse to charge a second time; so that the King, dismounting, advanced on foot against the furious animal, holding naked in his hand one of those short, sharp, straight, and pointed swords, which huntsmen used for such encounters. The boar instantly quitted the dogs to rush on his human enemy, while the King, taking his station, and posting himself firmly, presented the sword, with the purpose of aiming it at the boar's throat, or rather chest, within the collarbone; in which case, the weight of the beast, and the impetuosity of its career, would have served to accelerate its own destruction. But, owing to the wetness of the ground, the King's foot slipped, just as this delicate and perilous manoeuvre ought to have been accomplished, so that the point of the sword encountering the cuirass of bristles on the outside of the creature's shoulder, glanced off without making any impression, and Louis fell flat on the ground. This was so far fortunate for the Monarch, because the animal, owing to the King's fall, missed his blow in his turn, and in passing only rent with his tusk the King's short hunting cloak, instead of ripping up his thigh. But when, after running a little ahead in the fury of his course, the boar turned to repeat his attack on the King at the moment when he was rising, the life of Louis was in imminent danger. At this critical moment, Quentin Durward, who had been thrown out in the chase by the slowness of his horse, but who, nevertheless, had luckily distinguished and followed the blast of the King's horn, rode up, and transfixed the animal with his spear.

The King, who had by this time recovered his feet, came in turn to Durward's assistance, and cut the animal's throat with his sword. Before speaking a word to Quentin, he measured the huge creature not only by paces, but even by feet -- then wiped the sweat from his brow, and the blood from his hands -- then took off his hunting cap, hung it on a bush, and devoutly made his orisons to the little leaden images which it contained -- and at length, looking upon Durward, said to him, "Is it thou, my young Scot? -- Thou hast begun thy woodcraft well, and Maitre Pierre owes thee as good entertainment as he gave thee at the Fleur de Lys yonder. -- Why dost thou not speak? Thou hast lost thy forwardness and fire, methinks, at the Court, where others find both."

Quentin, as shrewd a youth as ever Scottish breeze breathed caution into, had imbibed more awe than confidence towards his dangerous master, and was far too wise to embrace the perilous permission of familiarity which he seemed thus invited to use. He answered in very few and well chosen words, that if he ventured to address his Majesty at all, it could be but to crave pardon for the rustic boldness with which he had conducted himself when ignorant of his high rank.

"Tush! man," said the King; "I forgive thy sauciness for thy spirit and shrewdness. I admired how near thou didst hit upon my gossip Tristan's occupation. You have nearly tasted of his handiwork since, as I am given to understand. I bid thee beware of him; he is a merchant who deals in rough bracelets and tight necklaces. Help me to my horse; -- I like thee, and will do thee good. Build on no man's favour but mine -- not even on thine uncle's or Lord Crawford's -- and say nothing of thy timely aid in this matter of the boar; for if a man makes boast that he has served a King in such pinch, he must take the braggart humour for its own recompense."

The King then winded his horn, which brought up Dunois and several attendants, whose compliments he received on the slaughter of such a noble animal, without scrupling to appropriate a much greater share of merit than actually belonged to him; for he mentioned Durward's assistance as slightly as a sportsman of rank, who, in boasting of the number of birds which he has bagged, does not always dilate upon the presence and assistance of the gamekeeper. He then ordered Dunois to see that the boar's carcass was sent to the brotherhood of Saint Martin, at Tours, to mend their fare on holydays, and that they might remember the King in their private devotions.

"And," said Louis, "who hath seen his Eminence my Lord Cardinal? Methinks it were but poor courtesy, and cold regard to Holy Church to leave him afoot here in the forest."

"May it please you," said Quentin, when he saw that all were silent, "I saw his Lordship the Cardinal accommodated with a horse, on which he left the forest."

"Heaven cares for its own," replied the King. "Set forward to the Castle, my lords; we'll hunt no more this morning. -- You, Sir Squire," addressing Quentin, "reach me my wood knife -- it has dropt from the sheath beside the quarry there. Ride on, Dunois -- I follow instantly."

Louis, whose lightest motions were often conducted like stratagems, thus gained an opportunity to ask Quentin privately, "My bonny Scot, thou hast an eye, I see. Canst thou tell me who helped the Cardinal to a palfrey? -- Some stranger, I should suppose; for, as I passed without stopping, the courtiers would likely be in no hurry to do him such a timely good turn."

"I saw those who aided his Eminence but an instant, Sire," said Quentin; "it was only a hasty glance, for I had been unluckily thrown out, and was riding fast to be in my place; but I think it was the Ambassador of Burgundy and his people."

"Ha," said Louis. "Well, be it so. France will match them yet."

There was nothing more remarkable happened, and the King, with his retinue, returned to the Castle.

我愿和不专心的孩童与

愚钝的傻汉聊天。我不喜欢

别人用猜疑的眼光窥视我的内心。

《理查德王》

红衣主教在有关其主子的性格方面所积累的经验这一次可没能使他避免犯一个重大的策略错误。在虚荣心的诱使下他自以为在说服克雷维格伯爵留在图尔城这件事情上远比国王所能找到的其他调解者都做得更为成功。他清楚地知道路易王十分重视延缓与勃艮第公爵之间的战争,因此情不自禁地以功臣自居,比往常更挨近国王,竭力想就今早发生的事与他交谈。

这种做法在许多方面都不明智,因为君王们都不喜欢自己的臣属在接近他们时表现出自以为有功的神气,似乎有意为他们的功劳捞取感激和报酬。路易王是世界上猜忌心最强的君主,对于居功自傲或妄图窥探其内心秘密的人自然特别厌恶,不愿理睬。

然而,正像最审慎的人有时也会自满得忘乎所以那样,红衣主教硬是厚着脸继续骑在国王的右侧,尽可能把话题转向克雷维格,谈论他和他的使命,哪怕这正是索回在国王脑际,却又是他最不愿谈的话题。路易一直注意地听他讲,但并没有给他足够的鼓励让他继续讲下去。最后他抬手叫跟在后面的杜诺瓦上来,在他的另一侧骑着走。

“我们是来游玩打猎的,”他说道,“但尊敬的神父却硬要我们开个国务会。”

“请陛下原谅我的无能,”杜诺瓦说道,“我生来为法国而战,也有足够的精神和力量来为她打仗,但我可没有这个头脑来为她出谋献计。”

“杜诺瓦,红衣主教大人可一心一意老想这个。”路易说道,“他在城堡大门口,让克雷维格忏悔了他的罪过,并把它的全部忏悔词转告了我——你不是说全部吗?”他继续说道,着重强调“全部”两个字,同时从他那长长的黑睫毛间向红衣主教射出一道严厉的目光,颇像出鞘的匕首射出的寒光。

红衣主教颤抖起来。为了回答国王对他的取笑,他勉强说道:“尽管圣职人员必须保守忏悔者的秘密,但只要国王陛下吹口气,说句话,封存忏悔词的蜡没有不被熔化的。”

“既然主教阁下愿意把别人的秘密告诉我,”国王说道,“他自然指望我们也同样对他不保守秘密。为了实现这种相互平等的关系,他有理由想知道那两位克罗伊埃仕女是否真在我们国土上。我很抱歉不能满足他的好奇心,因为我自己也不知道漂泊的少女。微服出游的公主、失意的伯爵小姐究竟藏在我们国土的哪个部分。感谢上帝和昂布伦的圣母,我们的国土太辽阔,我实在无法轻易回答主教阁下完全合理的询问。不过,杜诺瓦,假使她们真在我们这儿,你如何来回答我堂弟的专横要求呢?”

“我的国王,假如您诚恳地告诉我您究竟要战争还是和平,那我就会回答您。”杜诺瓦直率地回答道。由于他这种坦率出自他天生的坦然无畏的性格,所以他时常很得路易的欢心,因为路易也和所有狡黠的人一样,一方面喜欢隐藏自己的思想,另一方面又喜欢探索别人的思想。

“说实在的,杜诺瓦,”他讲道,“要是我自己准确知道我到底要什么,我就会满意地告诉你。你说,假如这位既有钱又有继承权的美丽姑娘真在我的领土上,那么,要是我向公爵宣战,我该怎么对待她?”

“要是您一位勇敢的部下有心爱她,也有力量保护她,您就把她嫁给他好了。”杜诺瓦说道。

“哈哈,就嫁给你吧!”国王说道,“上帝呀!虽然你是个粗人,可你比我所想象的杜诺瓦要高明得多。”

“陛下,不是这样,”杜诺瓦说道,“我这人丝毫不会讲策略。凭奥尔良的圣母说,我向来说话开门见山。陛下,您至少还该给奥尔良家族撮合一件美满的婚事哩!”

“我会的,伯爵。上帝呀,我会的!你没瞧见那美满的一对吗?”

国王指着那不幸的奥尔良公爵和公主小姐。这两个人既不敢走远,也不敢让国王觉得他们没走在一起。这时他们正并排地骑马走着,中间隔有两三码的距离;一方的胆怯和另一方的厌恶使得他们不想去缩小这个距离,但谁也不敢去增大这个距离。

杜诺瓦朝国王手指的方向望去。他那不幸的亲戚和他的未婚妻的处境使他联想起硬被拴在一起的两只狗的处境。尽管两只狗硬被拴在一起,但在颈套容许的范围内,仍然尽可能离得远一些。看到这一情景,他不禁摇摇头,但也不敢对这虚伪的暴君再说更多的话。路易似乎猜中了他的心思。

“他们将会组成一个和谐而宁静的家庭——我想,他们不会受孩子李累。孩子多并不见得总有福气。”

也许是因为他回想起自己对父亲的不孝,他说出这个看法时停顿了一下,同时无意中使得嘴边浮现出的嘲笑变成了某种类似忏悔的表情。但他马上改变口气继续说了下去。

“坦白地说吧,我的杜诺瓦,尽管我很尊重婚姻的神圣性质,”(这时他划了个十字),“我还是宁肯让奥尔良家族养育像你和你父亲这样既有法国皇家血统,而又不要求继承权的英勇武士,而不愿看到法国像英国那样,因合法王位继承人争夺王位的战争而弄得四分五裂。狮子最多只能有一个崽子。”

杜诺瓦叹了口气,默不作声。他意识到要和专横的君主抬杠会损害他亲戚的利益,而他又无能为力。然而他还是忍不住接着说道:

“既然陛下提到我父亲的出生,那我就不能不承认,撇开他父母失足坠人情网这点不说,他作为不合法爱情的私生子总要比作为不美满婚姻留下的仇恨的产儿更为幸福。”

“杜诺瓦,像你这样谈论神圣的婚姻,简直犯有诽谤罪。”路易开玩笑地说道,“就让这个话题见鬼去吧。野猪出笼了。看在圣胡伯特的分上把狗放出来!哈!哈!特拉拉——里拉拉!”国王的号角在树林里愉快地响了起来。他在包括我们的朋友昆丁·达威特在内的两三名卫兵跟随下向猎物冲去。这里值得指出的是,即使路易王在激烈地进行他所喜爱的运动,但为了满足他那喜欢嘲弄人的天性,他还是有功夫捉弄一下红衣主教巴卢作为消遣。

这位有才能的政治家的弱点之一,正如我们先前暗示过的,就是尽管自己身份卑微,所受教育有限,却总是自以为有资格摆出一副宫廷大臣和风流人物的气派。虽然他实际上并没像贝克特那样参加过骑士比武,也没像沃尔塞那样征集兵员,但他们那老练的风流派头却是他公开承认的研究对象。因此,他也装出很喜好狩猎这种表现尚武精神的娱乐。对于某些仕女说来,他的金钱、势力,以及他作为政客所具有的影响,能弥补他仪表和态度方面的缺陷。然而,不管他在仕女们身上能获得多大成功,他那不惜高价买来的骏马却对负载红衣主教的光荣无动于衷。

正像有可能对他那当过马车夫、磨坊主或裁缝而骑术不及他高明的令尊大人毫不客气一样,那马儿对他也丝毫不讲客气。国王知道这点。他时而刺激时而勒住自己骑的马,以此来使得他旁边的红衣主教的坐骑拼命地反抗马上的主人。看来他们有立刻散伙的危险。然而在马进行着惊跳、奔跑、站立和踢腿的轮番动作时,捉弄他的国王却硬要问他许多重要问题,并暗示他想利用这个机会把红衣主教不久前还急于知道的一些国家机密讲给他听。

看到一位枢密大臣被迫倾听和回答君主的讲话,而那无法驾驭的骏马的每个狂乱动作都在使他面临比先前更大的被摔倒的危险,人们很难想象出世界上有比这更狼狈、更难堪的局面。只见他紫袍四处乱飘,要不是马鞍很深,前后都有高的鞍头挡住,他肯定会立刻从马上摔下来。

杜诺瓦放声大笑,而国王则在暗自欣赏自己恶作剧的隐秘方式。他并不放声大笑,而是温和地责备他这位大臣太热衷于打猎,竟使他不能抽出几分钟来商谈国事。“我不想再妨碍你打猎了。”他对那恐惧万分的红衣主教继续说道,同时放松缰绳,让马飞奔而去。

巴卢还来不及说一句话作为回答或辩解,他骑的马已衔着马勒以无法控制的速度奔驰而去,很快把国王和杜诺瓦抛在后面。他们二人则以正常速度跟在后面,欣赏这位政治家痛苦的窘境。如果有哪位读者一生当中曾不幸被脱缰之马带着狂奔(我们自己一生当中也曾碰到过这种情况),那么他将能充分意识到这种处境的痛苦、危险和荒谬。想想看吧,马的四只脚既不受骑者的控制,有时也不受马本身的控制,飞快地移动着,仿佛后腿要赶过前腿,而原本指望安全地踩在绿色草地上的两只人腿这时紧夹着马的两侧,也增加了骑者的痛苦——只见他两只手丢掉缰绳,抓住马的鬃毛,身体则无法像昂杰罗建议的那样保持重心坐直,或像纽马克的赛马师那样倾朝前方,而是伏在马背上,就像一麻袋谷子那样难以获得解救——这一切固然使得表演者极感不适,但在旁观者眼里却构成了一副十分荒诞可笑的图画。如果给这位不幸的骑士加上某种奇特的服装和外貌——一套长袍、一件华丽的制服,或者别的奇装异服,并让表演的现场改成赛马场或检阅游行的广场,或任何别的表演和聚会的公共场所,那么这可怜人要想避免成为经久不息的哗然大笑的对象,惟一的办法就是设法摔断一两只腿或胳膊,而更有效的则是设法就地摔死。任何较轻微的后果都不足以引起人们认真的同情。此刻的红衣主教身穿紫色短袍作为骑马服(离开城堡前他已换掉了他的长袍),脚穿红袜,头戴红帽,帽上还坠着一根长缨,再加上他那完全无望的表情,所有这些都使他的骑术表演增辉添色。

那匹脱缰之马飞上(而不是跑上)一条长长的绿色林阴道,赶上了一群正紧追野猪的猎狗。在踏翻了一两个没料到遭到背后袭击的助狩者,踩倒了几条猎狗,使猎人乱作一团之后,那马受到猎人们喧嚣的咒骂和恐吓的刺激,带着惊恐万状的红衣主教从那暴牙上冒着白泡、急忙往前冲的狂怒的野猪身旁跑过去。看到自己竟撞到了野猪身边,巴卢大呼救命。这一声喊叫(也可能是那野猪的出现)对马产生了意想不到的作用。只见它突然跳向一边,从而中断了弃撞的奔跑。仅因为马的向前运动而保持在鞍座上的红衣主教,这时便被沉沉地摔在地上。主教在如此靠近野猪的地方结束了他的打猎活动;要不是因为这畜牲此刻连自己的事还忙不过来,那么红衣主教肯定将遭到像西班牙的西哥特国王法维拉据说曾遭到过的致命危险。由于野猪自身的恐惧,这位教会人士才总算脱了险。他尽可能快地爬到猎人和猎狗碰不着的地方,眼见整个打猎队伍从他旁边跑过去而没给他任何帮助,因为那时的猎人也和现在的一样,对于这类不幸往往无动于衷。国王从他身边经过时,对杜诺瓦说:“主教阁下十分可怜地躲在那儿——看来他不是个好猎手。但作为捕鱼的人(在看见秘密可以当作鱼儿捕捉的时候)他可不亚于圣彼得。我想他算是有生以来第一次碰到了自己的对手。”

红衣主教没听见他讲的话,但国王讲话时的轻蔑表情使他猜出这些话的大致含意。据说魔鬼正是善于利用像遭到国王的轻蔑而恼羞成怒的巴卢主教所产生的这类激烈情绪对人进行诱惑。一当他确信摔倒并没有造成什么伤害,一时的恐惧便很快消失。但受伤的自尊心以及对国王的恼怒却在他感情上留下了难以磨灭的影响。

在打猎的全部人马都从他身边走过去以后,一位孤单的骑士带着一两名随从骑马走了过来,他就像是个狩猎的旁观者,而不是直接参加者。看到红衣主教既无乘骑又无随从,他一眼就看出是什么事故使得他陷于当前的困境,自然表现出很大的惊奇。他赶忙下马帮他摆脱困境。他叫一个随从让出一匹驯顺的小马请红衣主教骑上,并对法国宫廷不管这位最精明的政治家打猎时可能遭受巨大危险、弃之不顾的做法表示惊奇。这自然是在这场奇遇中克雷维格能向主教提供的最好的帮助和安慰。原来前来帮助摔倒的红衣主教的正是勃艮第的这位特使。

他发现当前正是尝试挑拨这位心情不佳的大臣,动摇他对路易王的忠诚的大好时机。人所共知,巴卢主教也具有某种罪恶的弱点,容易倾听这种挑拨。正如习于猜忌的路易所猜想到的,今早在他们之间发生过的一些接触已经超过了红衣主教敢向主人汇报的范围。固然他当时也乐滋滋地倾听克雷维格对他说,勃艮第伯爵如何高度重视他本人及其才能,而当伯爵暗示地提到他主人如何豪爽慷慨、弗兰德的俸禄如何优厚时,他也曾动心。然而正是在我们刚介绍过的这件事大大激怒了这位主教,刺伤了他的自尊心之后,他才决心要在这紧要时刻向路易十一表明,一个被冒犯的朋友和亲信有可能成为他最危险的敌人。

此刻他急忙要克雷维格走开,以免引起别人注意,但要他今晚晚祷以后去图尔的圣马丁修道院和他会面。通过他说话的口气,这位勃艮第人深信,他主人获得了一个若非碰到这种恼羞成怒的情况很难获得的好处。

虽然路易是当代最讲策略的君主,但在当前这个场合以及别的一些场合,都让感情影响了他的审慎。这时对野猪的追逐已达到一个紧张而有趣的关头,他正得意洋洋地跟踪而来。碰巧有个“桑得尔”(按当时的语言,指的是只有两岁大的野猪)在被追逐的那头大野猪奔逃的路上走过去,从而把所有的猎犬(只有两三对坚定的老猎犬例外)以及大部分猎人都吸引了过去。国王看到杜诺瓦也和别的人都去追赶那头被人误会的小野猪,心中窃喜,暗自庆幸自己将胜过这位造诣很高的骑士,而那时狩猪艺术几乎被视为与战争同样光荣。路易骑的马很好。他紧紧跟在猎犬后面,以致当原来要打的那头大野猪在一块沼泽地里转身作困兽斗时,旁边只剩下他独自一人。

路易充分表现出一个富有经验的猎人所具备的勇敢和技巧。他不顾危险,骑马逼到那为了自卫而和猎犬拼命厮打着的巨兽跟前,用猎野猪的长矛向它刺去。然而,马被野猪吓得朝旁边一闪,这一刺不仅没能戳死它,也没能使它失去搏斗能力。国王怎么努力也无法驱使马再次向野猪冲去,只得跳下马来,握着一把猎人在这种场合常用的笔直锋利的短刀,徒步向这狂怒的猛兽逼了过去。那野猪顿时放开猎犬,向敌人扑将过来。国王摆好架势,站稳脚跟,握着短刀,对准野猪的喉咙,或者说锁骨间的胸腔。按理说,野猪的重量及其猛烈的冲力本会加速它的灭亡。但由于地面潮湿,正当这巧妙而致命的一招本该奏效时,国王脚一滑,刀尖只从野猪肩胛外面铠甲般的鬃毛上擦了过去,并未伤它分毫。路易本人则猛地摔倒在地。国王还算幸运;因为他这一摔,也使野猪扑了个空,只是在冲过去时用獠牙扯破了他打猎穿的斗篷,而保全了他的大腿。野猪由于扑得过猛,冲到了前面几步。当它转过身来,想趁他正爬起来再向他扑去时,路易的生命真是危在旦夕。在这千钧一发之际,由于追赶时马走得慢而掉在后面的昆丁·达威特幸好听出了国王的号角声,循声赶来,一矛戳翻了野猪。

国王马上站起来,回过头帮达威特。他一刀刺穿了野猪的喉咙。他没对昆丁讲一句话,只是先用脚步,又用脚量量这动物庞大的身躯。然后他擦掉额上的汗和手上的血,再脱掉他的猎人帽,把它挂在树权上,开始对帽子上铅制的小圣母像作虔诚的祷告。最后他才望望达威特,对他说:“是你啊?我年轻的苏格兰人。你头一回打猎,就马到成功。皮埃尔老爷得像他在百合花旅店招待你那样再好好招待你。你干吗不说话呢?我想你是在宫廷里失掉了你的冲劲和火气。而别人却和你相反。”

昆丁是苏格兰的凉风曾告诫过要清醒谨慎的最精明的年轻人。他对这危险的主人的畏惧胜过对他的信任,所以他十分聪明地拒不接受国王似乎诱使他利用的、以平辈相待的许诺。他以经过精心选择的很少几句话回答说,如果他敢于向国王有所请求,那只是恳求国王原谅他在不知道他高贵的身份时所表现出的鲁莽的乡巴佬气。

“别这么说!年轻人,”国王讲道,“为了你的勇敢和精明,我原谅你的鲁莽和调皮。我真佩服你把我那老伙计特里斯顿的职业猜得那么准。据我所知,你差点尝到了他的拿手好戏。我得嘱咐你小心他这个人。他是个做粗手镯和紧项链生意的商人。扶我上马吧。我很喜欢你,将会给你带来好处。你必须只信赖我给你的恩宠,别信赖别人的恩宠——包括你舅舅和克劳福德的在内。千万别对人说在杀野猪这件事情上你给了我及时的援助。要是一个人吹嘘说他在这种紧急关头救了国王,那么他就只能以吹嘘的乐趣作为惟一的报偿了。”

这时国王吹起了号角,召来了杜诺瓦和几个随从。他欣然接受了为杀死这一贵重动物对他说的赞扬话,毫无愧疚地把实际不属于他的大部分功劳归于自己。他只是轻描淡写地提到达威特的援助,就像有身份的猎人吹嘘他捕获了许多鸟儿时,并不屑提到猎物看守人的存在和帮助一样。他嘱咐杜诺瓦派人把杀死的野猪送给图尔的圣马丁修道院的修士们,好让他们在节日改善一下伙食,使他们在祷告时也为国王祈祷几句。

“嘿,”路易说道,“你们有谁看见红衣主教大人吗?要是我们把他留在森林里,又无马可骑,那将是对神圣教会不礼貌的冷漠表现。”

“陛下,要是您不介意的话,”看到大家都不做声,昆丁开口说道,“我倒看见有人给了红衣主教一匹马。他已经骑着它离开了森林。”

“老天爷会照管他自己的人。”国王说道,“我的大臣们,回城堡去吧。今早我们不再打猎了。请你,扈从先生,”他对昆丁说道,“把我的猎刀递给我——这脱鞘的刀掉在野猪身边。杜诺瓦,你骑着走吧,我马上跟上来。”

路易最微不足道的行动也往往表现出极具策略。他就这样获得了一个私下询问昆丁的机会:“我健美的苏格兰人,我看你眼光很敏锐。你能告诉我,谁帮助红衣主教找到马骑的吗?我想是某个陌生人吧,因为,只要我走过去时没停下来理睬他,我的朝臣们是不会急忙给他这个及时帮助的。”

“陛下,我只不过很快瞅了一眼,看见有人在帮助红衣主教,”昆丁说道,“但那只是匆匆的一瞥,因为我不巧掉了队,正迅速地骑马赶回我原来的位置上去。不过,我想帮助主教的是勃艮第的特使和他的随从。”

“哈!”路易说道,“好吧,就这样吧——法国总有一天会对付他们的。”

没有再发生别的重要事情;国王和随从们回到了城堡。



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