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Chapter 12 The Politician

This is a lecturer, so skill'd in policy, That (no disparagement to Satan's cunning) He well might read a lesson to the devil, And teach the old seducer new temptations.

OLD PLAY

As Louis entered the gallery, he bent his brows in the manner we have formerly described as peculiar to him, and sent, from under his gathered and gloomy eyebrows, a keen look on all around; in darting which, as Quentin afterwards declared, his eyes seemed to turn so small, so fierce, and so piercing, as to resemble those of an aroused adder looking through the bush of heath in which he lies coiled.

When, by this momentary and sharpened glance, the King had reconnoitered the cause of the bustle which was in the apartment, his first address was to the Duke of Orleans.

"You here, my fair cousin?" he said; -- and turning to Quentin, added sternly, "Had you not charge?"

"Forgive the young man, Sire," said the Duke; "he did not neglect his duty; but I was informed that the Princess was in this gallery."

"And I warrant you would not be withstood when you came hither to pay your court," said the King, whose detestable hypocrisy persisted in representing the Duke as participating in a passion which was felt only on the side of his unhappy daughter; "and it is thus you debauch the sentinels of my guard, young man? -- But what cannot be pardoned to a gallant who only lives par amours (by his love affairs)?"

The Duke of Orleans raised his head, as if about to reply in some manner which might correct the opinion conveyed in the King's observation; but the instinctive reverence, not to say fear, of Louis, in which he had been bred from childhood, chained up his voice.

"And Joan hath been ill?" said the King; "but do not be grieved, Louis; it will soon pass away; lend her your arm to her apartment, while I will conduct these strange ladies to theirs."

The order was given in a tone which amounted to a command, and Orleans accordingly made his exit with the Princess at one extremity of the gallery, while the King, ungloving his right hand, courteously handed the Countess Isabelle and her kinswoman to their apartment, which opened from the other. He bowed profoundly as they entered, and remained standing on the threshold for a minute after they had disappeared; then, with great composure, shut the door by which they had retired and turning the huge key, took it from the lock, and put it into his girdle -- an appendage which gave him still more perfectly the air of some old miser, who cannot journey in comfort unless he bear with him the key of his treasure closet.

With slow and pensive step, and eyes fixed on the ground, Louis now paced towards Quentin Durward, who, expecting his share of the royal displeasure, viewed his approach with no little anxiety.

"Thou hast done wrong," said the King, raising his eyes, and fixing them firmly on him when he had come within a yard of him, -- "thou hast done foul wrong, and deservest to die. -- Speak not a word in defence! -- What hadst thou to do with Dukes or Princesses? -- what with any thing but my order?"

"So please your Majesty," said the young soldier, "what could I do?"

"What couldst thou do when thy post was forcibly passed?" answered the King, scornfully, -- "what is the use of that weapon on thy shoulder? Thou shouldst have levelled thy piece, and if the presumptuous rebel did not retire on the instant, he should have died within this very hall! Go -- pass into these farther apartments. In the first thou wilt find a large staircase, which leads to the inner Bailley; there thou wilt find Oliver Dain (the inner bailey contained the stables and often the chapel. It communicated directly with the keep). Send him to me -- do thou begone to thy quarters. -- As thou dost value thy life, be not so loose of thy tongue as thou hast been this day slack of thy hand."

Well pleased to escape so easily, yet with a soul which revolted at the cold blooded cruelty which the King seemed to require from him in the execution of his duty, Durward took the road indicated; hastened down stairs, and communicated the royal pleasure to Oliver, who was waiting in the court beneath. The wily tonsor bowed, sighed, and smiled, as, with a voice even softer than ordinary, he wished the youth a good evening; and they parted, Quentin to his quarters, and Oliver to attend the King.

In this place, the Memoirs which we have chiefly followed in compiling this true history were unhappily defective; for, founded chiefly on information supplied by Quentin, they do not convey the purport of the dialogue which, in his absence, took place between the King and his secret counsellor. Fortunately the Library of Hautlieu contains a manuscript copy of the Chronique Scandaleuse of Jean de Troyes (the Marquis de Hautlieu is the name of an imaginary character in whose library Scott declares himself to have found the memorials which form the basis of the novel of Quentin Durward), much more full than that which has been printed; to which are added several curious memoranda, which we incline to think must have been written down by Oliver himself after the death of his master, and before he had the happiness to be rewarded with the halter which he had so long merited. From this we have been able to extract a very full account of the obscure favourite's conversation with Louis upon the present occasion, which throws a light upon the policy of that Prince, which we might otherwise have sought for in vain.

When the favourite attendant entered the Gallery of Roland, he found the King pensively seated upon the chair which his daughter had left some minutes before. Well acquainted with his temper, he glided on with his noiseless step until he had just crossed the line of the King's sight, so as to make him aware of his presence, then shrank modestly backward and out of sight, until he should be summoned to speak or to listen. The Monarch's first address was an unpleasant one: "So, Oliver, your fine schemes are melting like snow before the south wind! -- I pray to Our Lady of Embrun that they resemble not the ice heaps of which the Switzer churls tell such stories, and come rushing down upon our heads."

"I have heard with concern that all is not well, Sire," answered Oliver.

"Not well!" exclaimed the King, rising and hastily marching up and down the gallery. "All is ill, man -- and as ill nearly as possible; so much for thy fond romantic advice, that I, of all men, should become a protector of distressed damsels! I tell thee Burgundy is arming, and on the eve of closing an alliance with England. And Edward, who hath his hands idle at home, will pour his thousands upon us through that unhappy gate of Calais. Singly, I might cajole or defy them; but united, united -- and with the discontent and treachery of that villain Saint Paul! -- All thy fault, Oliver, who counselled me to receive the women, and to use the services of that damned Bohemian to carry messages to their vassals."

"My lord," said Oliver, "you know my reasons. The Countess's domains lie between the frontiers of Burgundy and Flanders -- her castle is almost impregnable -- her rights over neighbouring estates are such as, if well supported, cannot but give much annoyance to Burgundy, were the lady but wedded to one who should be friendly to France."

"It is, it is a tempting bait," said the King; "and could we have concealed her being here, we might have arranged such a marriage for this rich heiress as would have highly profited -- France. But that cursed Bohemian, how couldst thou recommend such a heathen hound for a commission which required trust?"

"Please you," said Oliver, "to remember it was your Grace's self who trusted him too far -- much farther than I recommended. He would have borne a letter trustily enough to the Countess's kinsman, telling him to hold out her castle, and promising speedy relief; but your Highness must needs put his prophetic powers to the test; and thus he became possessed of secrets which were worth betraying to Duke Charles."

"I am ashamed, I am ashamed," said Louis. "And yet, Oliver, they say that these heathen people are descended from the sage Chaldeans, who did read the mysteries of the stars in the plains of Shinar (they lie between the Tigris and Euphrates)."

Well aware that his master, with all his acuteness and sagacity, was but the more prone to be deceived by soothsayers, astrologers, diviners, and all that race of pretenders to occult science, and that he even conceived himself to have some skill in these arts. Oliver dared to press this point no farther; and only observed that the Bohemian had been a bad prophet on his own account, else he would have avoided returning to Tours, and saved himself from the gallows he had merited.

"It often happens that those who are gifted with prophetic knowledge," answered Louis, with much gravity, "have not the power of foreseeing those events in which they themselves are personally interested."

"Under your Majesty's favour," replied the confidant, "that seems as if a man could not see his own hand by means of the candle which he holds, and which shows him every other object in the apartment."

"He cannot see his own features by the light which shows the faces of others," replied Louis; "and that is the more faithful illustration of the case. -- But this is foreign to my purpose at present. The Bohemian hath had his reward, and peace be with him. -- But these ladies! -- Not only does Burgundy threaten us with war for harbouring them, but their presence is like to interfere with my projects in my own family. My simple cousin of Orleans hath barely seen this damsel, and I venture to prophesy that the sight of her is like to make him less pliable in the matter of his alliance with Joan."

"Your Majesty," answered the counsellor, "may send these ladies of Croye back to Burgundy, and so make your peace with the Duke. Many might murmur at this as dishonourable; but if necessity demands the sacrifice --"

"If profit demanded the sacrifice, Oliver, the sacrifice should be made without hesitation," answered the King. "I am an old, experienced salmon, and use not to gulp the angler's hook because it is busked up with a feather called honour. But what is worse than a lack of honour, there were, in returning those ladies to Burgundy, a forfeiture of those views of advantage which moved us to give them an asylum. It were heart breaking to renounce the opportunity of planting a friend to ourselves, and an enemy to Burgundy, in the very centre of his dominions, and so near to the discontented cities of Flanders. Oliver, I cannot relinquish the advantages which our scheme of marrying the maiden to a friend of our own house seems to hold out to us."

"Your Majesty," said Oliver, after a moment's thought, "might confer her hand on some right trusty friend, who would take all blame on himself, and serve your Majesty secretly, while in public you might disown him."

"And where am I to find such a friend?" said Louis. "Were I to bestow her upon any one of our mutinous and ill ruled nobles, would it not be rendering him independent? and hath it not been my policy for years to prevent them from becoming so? -- Dunois indeed -- him, and him only, I might perchance trust. -- He would fight for the crown of France, whatever were his condition. But honours and wealth change men's natures. -- Even Dunois I will not trust."

"Your Majesty may find others," said Oliver, in his smoothest manner, and in a tone more insinuating than that which he usually employed in conversing with the King, who permitted him considerable freedom; "men dependent entirely on your own grace and favour, and who could no more exist without your countenance than without sun or air -- men rather of head than of action -- men who"

"Men who resemble thyself, ha!" said King Louis. "No, Oliver, by my faith that arrow was too rashly shot! -- What! because I indulge thee with my confidence, and let thee, in reward, poll my lieges a little now and then, dost thou think it makes thee fit to be the husband of that beautiful vision, and a Count of the highest class to boot? -- thee -- thee, I say, low born, and lower bred, whose wisdom is at best a sort of dinning, and whose courage is more than doubtful."

"Your Majesty imputes to me a presumption of which I am not guilty, in supposing me to aspire so highly," said Oliver.

"I am glad to hear it, man," said the King; "and truly, I hold your judgment the healthier that you disown such a reverie. But methinks thy speech sounded strangely in that key. -- Well, to return. -- I dare not wed this beauty to one of my subjects -- I dare not return her to Burgundy -- I dare not transmit her to England or to Germany, where she is likely to become the prize of some one more apt to unite with Burgundy than with France, and who would be more ready to discourage the honest malcontents in Ghent and Liege, than to yield them that wholesome countenance which might always find Charles the Hardy enough to exercise his valour on, without stirring from his domains -- and they were in so ripe a humour for insurrection, the men of Liege in especial, that they alone, well heated and supported, would find my fair cousin work for more than a twelvemonth; and backed by a warlike Count of Croye -- O, Oliver! the plan is too hopeful to be resigned without a struggle. -- Cannot thy fertile brain devise some scheme?"

Oliver paused for a long time -- then at last replied, "What if a bridal could be accomplished betwixt Isabelle of Croye and young Adolphus, the Duke of Gueldres?"

"What!" said the King, in astonishment "sacrifice her, and she, too, so lovely a creature, to the furious wretch who deposed, imprisoned, and has often threatened to murder his own father! -- No, Oliver, no that were too unutterably cruel even for you and me, who look so steadfastly to our excellent end, the peace and the welfare of France, and respect so little the means by which it is attained. Besides, he lies distant from us and is detested by the people of Ghent and Liege. -- No, no -- I will none of Adolphus of Gueldres -- think on some one else."

"My invention is exhausted, Sire," said the counsellor; "I can remember no one who, as husband to the Countess of Croye, would be likely to answer your Majesty's views. He must unite such various qualities -- a friend to your Majesty -- an enemy to Burgundy -- of policy enough to conciliate the Ghentois and Liegeois, and of valour sufficient to defend his little dominions against the power of Duke Charles -- of noble birth besides -- that your Highness insists upon; and of excellent and virtuous character to the boot of all."

"Nay, Oliver," said the King, "I leaned not so much -- that is so very much, on character; but methinks Isabelle's bridegroom should be something less publicly and generally abhorred than Adolphus of Gueldres. For example, since I myself must suggest some one -- why not William de la Marck?"

"On my halidome, Sire," said Oliver, "I cannot complain of your demanding too high a standard of moral excellence in the happy man, if the Wild Boar of Ardennes can serve your turn. De la Marck! -- why, he is the most notorious robber and murderer on all the frontiers -- excommunicated by the Pope for a thousand crimes."

"We will have him released from the sentence, friend Oliver -- Holy Church is merciful."

"Almost an outlaw," continued Oliver, "and under the ban of the Empire, by an ordinance of the Chamber at Ratisbon."

(Ratisbon was the seat of the German Reichstag from 1663 to 1806.)

"We will have the ban taken off, friend Oliver," continued the King, in the same tone; "the Imperial Chamber will hear reason."

(A supreme court of appeals established in 1495 by Maximilian I: the first law court established in Germany.)

"And admitting him to be of noble birth," said Oliver, "he hath the manners, the face, and the outward form, as well as the heart, of a Flemish butcher -- she will never accept of him."

"His mode of wooing, if I mistake him not," said Louis, "will render it difficult for her to make a choice."

"I was far wrong indeed, when I taxed your Majesty with being over scrupulous," said the counsellor. "On my life, the crimes of Adolphus are but virtues to those of De la Marck! -- And then how is he to meet with his bride? Your Majesty knows he dare not stir far from his own forest of Ardennes."

"That must be cared for," said the King; "and, in the first place, the two ladies must be acquainted privately that they can be no longer maintained at this Court, except at the expense of a war between France and Burgundy, and that, unwilling to deliver them up to my fair cousin of Burgundy, I am desirous they should secretly depart from my dominions."

"They will demand to be conveyed to England," said Oliver "and we shall have her return to Flanders with an island lord, having a round, fair face, long brown hair, and three thousand archers at his back."

"No -- no," replied the king; "we dare not (you understand me) so far offend our fair cousin of Burgundy as to let her pass to England. It would bring his displeasure as certainly as our maintaining her here. No, no -- to the safety of the Church alone we will venture to commit her; and the utmost we can do is to connive at the Ladies Hameline and Isabelle de Croye departing in disguise, and with a small retinue, to take refuge with the Bishop of Liege, who will place the fair Isabelle for the time under the safeguard of a convent."

"And if that convent protect her from William de la Marck, when he knows of your Majesty's favourable intentions, I have mistaken the man."

"Why, yes," answered the King, "thanks to our secret supplies of money, De la Marck hath together a handsome handful of as unscrupulous soldiery as ever were outlawed; with which he contrives to maintain himself among the woods, in such a condition as makes him formidable both to the Duke of Burgundy and the Bishop of Liege. He lacks nothing but some territory which he may call his own; and this being so fair an opportunity to establish himself by marriage, I think that, Pasques dieu! he will find means to win and wed, without more than a hint on our part. The Duke of Burgundy will then have such a thorn in his side as no lancet of our time will easily cut out from his flesh. The Boar of Ardennes, whom he has already outlawed, strengthened by the possession of that fair lady's lands, castles, and seigniory, with the discontented Liegeois to boot, who, by may faith, will not be in that case unwilling to choose him for their captain and leader -- let Charles then think of wars with France when he will, or rather let him bless his stars if she war not with him. -- How dost thou like the scheme, Oliver, ha?"

"Rarely," said Oliver, "save and except the doom which confers that lady on the Wild Boar of Ardennes. -- By my halidome, saving in a little outward show of gallantry, Tristan, the Provost Marshal, were the more proper bridegroom of the two."

"Anon thou didst propose Master Oliver the barber," said Louis; "but friend Oliver and gossip Tristan, though excellent men in the way of counsel and execution, are not the stuff that men make counts of. - Know you not that the burghers of Flanders value birth in other men precisely because they have it not themselves? -- A plebeian mob ever desire an aristocratic leader. Yonder Ked, or Cade, or -- how called they him? -- in England, was fain to lure his rascal rout after him by pretending to the blood of the Mortimers (Jack Cade was the leader of Cade's Rebellion. Calling himself Mortimer, and claiming to be a cousin of Richard, Duke of York, in 1450, at the head of twenty thousand men, he took formal possession of London. His alleged object was to procure representation for the people, and so reduce excessive taxation.). William de la Marck comes of the blood of the Princes of Sedan, as noble as mine own. -- And now to business. I must determine the ladies of Croye to a speedy and secret flight, under sure guidance. This will be easily done -- we have but to hint the alternative of surrendering them to Burgundy. Thou must find means to let William de la Marck know of their motions, and let him choose his own time and place to push his suit. I know a fit person to travel with them."

"May I ask to whom your Majesty commits such an important charge?" asked the tonsor.

"To a foreigner, be sure," replied the King, "one who has neither kin nor interest in France, to interfere with the execution of my pleasure; and who knows too little of the country and its factions, to suspect more of my purpose than I choose to tell him -- in a word, I design to employ the young Scot who sent you hither but now."

Oliver paused in a manner which seemed to imply a doubt of the prudence of the choice, and then added, "Your Majesty has reposed confidence in that stranger boy earlier than is your wont."

"I have my reasons," answered the King. "Thou knowest" (and he crossed himself) "my devotion for the blessed Saint Julian. I had been saying my orisons to that holy Saint late in the night before last, wherein (as he is known to be the guardian of travellers) I made it my humble petition that he would augment my household with such wandering foreigners as might best establish throughout our kingdom unlimited devotion to our will; and I vowed to the good Saint in guerdon, that I would, in his name, receive, and relieve; and maintain them."

"And did Saint Julian," said Oliver, "send your Majesty this long legged importation from Scotland in answer to your prayers?"

Although the barber, who well knew that his master had superstition in a large proportion to his want of religion, and that on such topics nothing was more easy than to offend him -- although, I say, he knew the royal weakness, and therefore carefully put the preceding question in the softest and most simple tone of voice, Louis felt the innuendo which it contained, and regarded the speaker with high displeasure.

"Sirrah," he said, "thou art well called Oliver the Devil, who darest thus to sport at once with thy master and with the blessed Saints. I tell thee, wert thou one grain less necessary to me, I would have thee hung up on yonder oak before the Castle, as an example to all who scoff at things holy -- Know, thou infidel slave, that mine eyes were no sooner closed; than the blessed Saint Julian was visible to me, leading a young man whom he presented to me, saying that his fortune should be to escape the sword, the cord, the river, and to bring good fortune to the side which he should espouse, and to the adventures in which he should be engaged. I walked out on the succeeding morning and I met with this youth, whose image I had seen in my dream. In his own country he hath escaped the sword, amid the massacre of his whole family, and here within the brief compass of two days, he hath been strangely rescued from drowning and from the gallows, and hath already, on a particular occasion, as I but lately hinted to thee, been of the most material service to me. I receive him as sent hither by Saint Julian to serve me in the most difficult, the most dangerous, and even the most desperate services."

The King, as he thus expressed himself, doffed his hat, and selecting from the numerous little leaden figures with which the hat band was garnished that which represented Saint Julian, he placed it on the table, as was often his wont when some peculiar feeling of hope, or perhaps of remorse, happened to thrill across his mind, and, kneeling down before it, muttered, with an appearance of profound devotion, "Sancte Juliane, adsis precibus nostris! Ora, ora, pro nobis! (St. Julian, give heed to our prayers. Plead, plead for us!)"

This was one of those ague fits of superstitious devotion which often seized on Louis in such extraordinary times and places, that they gave one of the most sagacious monarchs who ever reigned the appearance of a madman, or at least of one whose mind was shaken by some deep consciousness of guilt.

While he was thus employed, his favourite looked at him with an expression of sarcastic contempt which he scarce attempted to disguise. Indeed, it was one of this man's peculiarities, that in his whole intercourse with his master, he laid aside that fondling, purring affectation of officiousness and humility which distinguished his conduct to others; and if he still bore some resemblance to a cat, it was when the animal is on its guard, -- watchful, animated, and alert for sudden exertion. The cause of this change was probably Oliver's consciousness that his Master was himself too profound a hypocrite not to see through the hypocrisy of others.

"The features of this youth, then, if I may presume to speak," said Oliver, "resemble those of him whom your dream exhibited?"

"Closely and intimately," said the King, whose imagination, like that of superstitious people in general, readily imposed upon itself. "I have had his horoscope cast, besides, by Galeotti Martivalle, and I have plainly learned, through his art and mine own observation, that, in many respects, this unfriended youth has his destiny under the same constellation with mine."

Whatever Oliver might think of the causes thus boldly assigned for the preference of an inexperienced stripling, he dared make no farther objections, well knowing that Louis, who, while residing in exile, had bestowed much of his attention on the supposed science of judicial astrology, would listen to no raillery of any kind which impeached his skill. He therefore only replied that he trusted the youth would prove faithful in the discharge of a task so delicate.

"We will take care he hath no opportunity to be otherwise," said Louis; "for he shall be privy to nothing, save that he is sent to escort the Ladies of Croye to the residence of the Bishop of Liege. Of the probable interference of William de la Marck he shall know as little as they themselves. None shall know that secret but the guide; and Tristan or thou must find one fit for our purpose."

"But in that case," said Oliver, "judging of him from his country and his appearance, the young man is like to stand to his arms as soon as the Wild Boar comes on them, and may not come off so easily from the tusks as he did this morning."

"If they rend his heart strings," said Louis, composedly, "Saint Julian, blessed be his name! can send me another in his stead. It skills as little that the messenger is slain after his duty is executed, as that the flask is broken when the wine is drunk out. -- Meanwhile, we must expedite the ladies' departure, and then persuade the Count de Crevecoeur that it has taken place without our connivance; we having been desirous to restore them to the custody of our fair cousin, which their sudden departure has unhappily prevented."

"The Count is perhaps too wise, and his master too prejudiced, to believe it."

"Holy Mother!" said Louis, "what unbelief would that be in Christian men! But, Oliver, they shall believe us. We will throw into our whole conduct towards our fair cousin, Duke Charles, such thorough and unlimited confidence, that, not to believe we have been sincere with him in every respect, he must be worse than an infidel. I tell thee, so convinced am I that I could make Charles of Burgundy think of me in every respect as I would have him, that, were it necessary for silencing his doubts, I would ride unarmed, and on a palfrey, to visit him in his tent, with no better guard about me than thine own simple person, friend Oliver."

"And I," said Oliver, "though I pique not myself upon managing steel in any other shape than that of a razor, would rather charge a Swiss battalion of pikes, than I would accompany your Highness upon such a visit of friendship to Charles of Burgundy, when he hath so many grounds to be well assured that there is enmity in your Majesty's bosom against him."

"Thou art a fool, Oliver," said the King, "with all thy pretensions to wisdom -- and art not aware that deep policy must often assume the appearance of the most extreme simplicity, as courage occasionally shrouds itself under the show of modest timidity. Were it needful, full surely would I do what I have said -- the Saints always blessing our purpose, and the heavenly constellations bringing round in their course a proper conjuncture for such an exploit."

In these words did King Louis XI give the first hint of the extraordinary resolution which he afterwards adopted in order to dupe his great rival, the subsequent execution of which had very nearly proved his own ruin.

He parted with his counsellor, and presently afterwards went to the apartment of the Ladies of Croye. Few persuasions beyond his mere license would have been necessary to determine their retreat from the Court of France, upon the first hint that they might not be eventually protected against the Duke of Burgundy; but it was not so easy to induce them to choose Liege for the place of their retreat. They entreated and requested to be transferred to Bretagne or Calais, where, under protection of the Duke of Bretagne or King of England, they might remain in a state of safety, until the sovereign of Burgundy should relent in his rigorous purpose towards them. But neither of these places of safety at all suited the plans of Louis, and he was at last successful in inducing them to adopt that which did coincide with them.

The power of the Bishop of Liege for their defence was not to be questioned, since his ecclesiastical dignity gave him the means of protecting the fugitives against all Christian Princes; while, on the other hand, his secular forces, if not numerous, seemed at least sufficient to defend his person, and all under his protection, from any sudden violence. The difficulty was to reach the little Court of the Bishop in safety; but for this Louis promised to provide, by spreading a report that the Ladies of Croye had escaped from Tours by night, under fear of being delivered up to the Burgundian Envoy, and had taken their flight towards Bretagne. He also promised them the attendance of a small but faithful retinue, and letters to the commanders of such towns and fortresses as they might pass, with instructions to use every means for protecting and assisting them in their journey.

The Ladies of Croye, although internally resenting the ungenerous and discourteous manner in which Louis thus deprived them of the promised asylum in his Court, were so far from objecting to the hasty departure which he proposed, that they even anticipated his project, by entreating to be permitted to set forward that same night. The Lady Hameline was already tired of a place where there were neither admiring courtiers, nor festivities to be witnessed; and the Lady Isabelle thought she had seen enough to conclude that, were the temptation to become a little stronger, Louis XI, not satisfied with expelling them from his Court, would not hesitate to deliver her up to her irritated Suzerain, the Duke of Burgundy. Lastly, Louis himself readily acquiesced in their hasty departure, anxious to preserve peace with Duke Charles, and alarmed lest the beauty of Isabelle should interfere with and impede the favourite plan which he had formed for bestowing the hand of his daughter Joan upon his cousin of Orleans.

这是一位十分精通权术的教师爷,

以致(我并不想贬低撒旦的狡黠)

他完全有资格给魔鬼上堂课,

把一些新花招教给这个老骗子。

《古老的戏剧》

路易走进大厅时,以我们先前描述过的独特方式低下两道浓眉,从他那紧皱着的阴森眉毛底下向周围的人投射出锋利的目光。正如昆丁以后所说的那样,这时他的眼睛显得如此之小,如此凶狠,如此敏锐,真像一条蜷伏在石南丛中窥望的被激怒的螟蛇。

仅通过这短暂而敏锐的一瞥,就发现大厅里这阵忙乱的原因的国王首先质问的是奥尔良公爵。

“是你在这儿吗,好侄儿?”他说道,接着便转过身来对昆丁严厉地质问说,“你不是有我的命令吗?”

“陛下,您原谅这年轻人吧,”公爵说道,“他并没有玩忽职守。是我听说公主在这里才擅自进来的。”

“我相信你到这儿来向公主献殷勤是谁也挡不住的,”国王说道;他那可憎的虚伪真是十分顽强,硬是把公爵说成是爱恋他那不幸的单相思的女儿,“你就为此败坏了我的卫兵。是吗,年轻人?不过,一个靠爱情生活的男人,有什么不能原谅的呢?”

奥尔良公爵抬起头来,仿佛想作出某种回答,来纠正国王话里包含的错误看法。但从小就养成的对路易王的尊敬,更不用说惧怕,使他无法开口。

“让娜不舒服吗?”国王说道,“不过,路易,你也不要难过。很快就会过去的。你扶着她去卧室吧。我领这两位作客的仕女去她们的房间。”

这一吩咐是以实际上等于命令的口吻说出的。奥尔良遵命扶着公主从大厅一端走了出去。国王则脱下右手的手套,客气地领着伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐和她姑母走向与大厅另一端相通的房间。她们进去时,他向她们深深鞠了一躬,等她们进去之后仍然在门槛上站了片刻,然后才不慌不忙地把那道门关上,将锁上的那把大钥匙一扭,再从锁上取了下来,装进腰袋——这腰袋是他一个随身必带的宝贝。这样就使得他更像一个不带着钱库钥匙就连走路也感觉不舒服的守财奴。

路易迈着缓慢而沉思的步子,眼睛盯着地上,向昆丁·达威特走去。昆丁预料到国王会发泄对他的不满,以十分不安的心情看着他走过来。

“你做错了,”国王在离他一码远的地方抬起头把眼睛狠狠地盯着他说道,“你真是大错特错,该当死罪。往口,别为自己辩护!公爵们和公主们与你有何相干?除了执行我的命令,别的你管它干吗?”

“请陛下原谅,”年轻的卫士说道,“我有什么办法呢?”

“有人强行越过你的岗哨,你该怎么办?”国王用鄙夷的口气回答道,“你肩上扛的武器是干吗用的?你本应当拿枪对准他,而如果那个胆大妄为的家伙不马上离开,他就得死在这个大厅里!你走吧——你到里边那排房间里去。在第一间房里你将看到一个大的楼梯通往内院。你会在那儿找到奥利弗·丹。你叫他到我这儿来。然后你回你的营房去。假如你爱惜你的生命,你就别像今天让你的手失职那样,再让舌头也失职。”

看到自己能轻易脱身,达威特自然很高兴,但对国王要求他严格执行命令所表现的冷酷无情也产生出由衷的反感。他按国王指给他的路走去,急忙下了那个楼梯,把国王的意旨传达给等在下面院子里的奥利弗。那奸狡的理发师又是点头哈腰,又是叹息微笑,并用比平常更柔和的声音祝他晚安。他们分手以后,昆丁返回营房,奥利弗则去参见国王。

写到这里,我发现我在创作这本真实的历史小说时作为主要依据的回忆录,不巧材料很不完全。这本回忆录主要根据的是昆丁所提供的材料,里面并没有谈到他离开以后国王和他秘密的谋臣进行谈话的内容。幸好欧特利尔图书馆藏有一本让·德·特罗伊埃写的(宫廷稗史)的手抄本,要比以往印行过的详尽得多。这个珍本多收集了几篇有趣的见闻。我倾向于认为,这一定是奥利弗在主子死了之后,和他荣幸地被赐以早已受之无愧的绞索之前这段时间写出来的。从这当中我们有可能收集到这位默默无闻的宠臣在此场合与路易谈话的详尽记载。它有助于我们了解这位君主的权术和谋略,而这是我们通过别的方式无法了解到的。

当这个宠臣进入罗兰大厅时,他看到国王若有所思地坐在她女儿几分钟前坐过的那张椅子上。由于他很熟悉他的脾气,他便悄然无声地溜到国王眼睛正好看得见的地方,好让他知道他已经应命前来。然后他又谦恭地退到他的视线以外,静候国王命令他讲话,或听国王讲话。国王的第一句话很叫人不愉快:“奥利弗,你的妙计可像竹篮打水成了一场空啊!我得祷告我们昂布伦的圣母,但愿你这些妙计不致像斯威泽尔的乡巴佬讲的故事里谈到过的冰雪块,会猛地往我们头上冲下来。”

“陛下,我已很不安地听说情况不太妙。”奥利弗回答道。

“不妙!”国王叫道,一边站起来在大厅里来回走着,“我的好人,糟透了——不能更糟了。都是你那愚蠢的罗曼蒂克的建议干的好事。偏偏让我来作这两个遭罪的娘们的保护人!我告诉你,勃艮第正在进行武装,很快就要和英国订立同盟。在家里闲着的爱德华将会通过加来这扇倒霉的大门把他的千军万马朝我们这边赶来。要是他们孤立地干,我也许还能哄哄或意惹他们,但他们联合起来干——再加上那无耻的圣保罗的背叛和不满!——奥利弗,这可都是你的过错。是你出主意要我收留这两个女人,并利用那该死的波希米亚人带信给她们的臣属的。”

“我的君主,”奥利弗说道,“您知道我有我的理由。伯爵小姐的领地位于勃艮第和弗兰德边境之间。她的城堡几乎是坚不可摧的。假如小姐嫁给一个和法国友好的人,那么她对邻近地区享有的权利,只要得到有力的支持,就不能不给勃艮第造成许多麻烦。”

“这也的确是一个诱饵。”国王说道,“要是我们能不让人知道她在这儿,我们本可以为这位富有的封地继承人安排一个大大有利于法国的婚姻。但那该死的波希米亚人——你怎么会推荐这样一个异教的狗杂种来干一件要求他绝对可信的差事呢?”

“您不见怪的话,”奥利弗说道,“请您不要忘记,正是陛下本人过于相信他了——远远超过我主张的地步。本来他可以相当可靠地带封信给伯爵小姐的亲戚,叫他坚守她的城堡,答应迅速给他援助,但陛下硬要考验考验他预言的能力,结果让他掌握了值得出卖给查尔斯公爵的一些秘密。”

“我很惭愧,我很惭愧,”路易说道,“不过,奥利弗,人们说这些异教徒都是智慧的卡尔提安人的后裔,而他的确说得出西纳尔平原上星辰的奥秘。”

奥利弗深知其主子十分聪明机敏,但正因为如此就更容易受到算命者、占卜者、风水先生以及自命懂得玄学奥秘的这类骗子的欺骗,甚至以为自己也多少掌握了这些方术。所以他不敢再往下多讲,只是说那波希米亚人在涉及他自身命运的问题上就不是什么好预言家,要不他就不会回图尔来,从而逃脱他罪有应得的绞刑。

“具有预言能力的人,”路易十分严肃地对答说,“无法预言涉及他们个人的事情,这是常有的现象。”

“蒙陛下指教,”那宠臣应答道,“这似乎是说一个手持蜡烛的人无法通过烛光看见自己的手,但看得见房里一切别的东西。”

“光能使他看见别人的面孔,但无法使他看见自己的面孔,”路易对答说,“这才更确切地说明问题。不过,这与我当前的意图无关。那波希米亚人已经得到了他的报应。愿上帝给他平安。但这两个妇人——不但勃艮第在责怪我们窝藏她们,拿战争威胁我们,而且她们呆在这里也有可能干扰我实行我的某些家庭计划。我那单纯的侄儿奥尔良刚看见这个姑娘,我就敢预言这一眼非同小可,会使他在和让娜结合的问题上不那么听话。”

“陛下,”那谋臣说道,“您不妨把这两位克罗伊埃仕女送回勃艮第,而和公爵取得和解。也许有些人会私下说,这样做不光彩,不过要是不得已非作出牺牲不可——”

“如果切身利害要求作出牺牲,那就应当毫不犹豫地作出牺牲。”国王对答道,“我是一个有经验的老鲑鱼,还不至于跑去吞一个钓钩,仅因为钩子上挂着称之为荣誉的一小片羽毛。但比不体面更糟糕的是,假如把两个妇人归还给勃艮第,那么原先促使我们给她们提供庇护而获有的那些好处全都失去了。在勃艮第领土的中心,在如此靠近不满的弗兰德城市的地方,安插我们的盟友和勃艮第敌人的大好机会一旦放弃,可真叫人伤心。奥利弗,我不能放弃设法把这姑娘嫁给我们皇族一位朋友可能给我们带来的好处。”

“陛下,”奥利弗考虑片刻后说道,“您不妨把她嫁给某个委实可靠的朋友;他可以把一切归罪于自己,而暗中为陛下效劳。您却可以公开否认和他的关系。”

“我到哪儿去找这么个朋友呢?”路易说道,“要是我把她赠送给我某个不忠心的、又不服管的贵族,这岂不是助长他闹独立吗?多少年来我的策略不正是要防止他们这样做吗?杜诺瓦,嗯,只有他我也许还能信任。不管情况如何,他都会为法国国王而战。但荣誉和财产会改变一个人的性格——连杜诺瓦我也不能信任。”

“陛下可以另外找个人,”奥利弗极尽其阿谀之能事,“找那些完全依靠您的恩宠,没有您的厚爱,就像没有阳光和空气,无法生存的人——善于思索而不是急于行动的人,还有——”

“哈,哈,像你自己这样的人!”路易王说道,“不行的,奥利弗。老实说吧,你这一箭可射得太轻率了!怎么!就因为我宠你,给你信任,让你有时刮刮我的臣民作为对你的奖赏,你以为你就有资格娶那个美女吗?何况她是属于最高阶层的伯爵小姐?瞧你,瞧你出身卑微,又无教养,你的聪明充其量不过是一种狡黠,而你的勇气就更成问题。难道把她嫁给你吗?”

“陛下猜想我有意高攀,那是误把我根本不敢有的一种狂妄加之于我。”

“伙计,我很高兴听你讲这个话。”国王对答道,“说实话,你不承认有此奢望,我倒认为你的头脑还更为健全。不过,我觉得你先前讲话的口气听来有点怪。行了,言归正传吧。我不敢把这个美人嫁给我一个巨属。我也不敢把她归还给勃艮第。但我也不敢把她送往英国和德国,因为她也许会落到一个更有可能和勃艮第而不是和法国结盟的贵族手上。这人会倾向于给根特和列日那些诚实而不满的市民泼冷水,而不是给他们有效的鼓励,从而给‘大胆的查尔斯’造成足够的麻烦,好叫他不离开自己的国土也大有机会表现他的勇猛。这些不满的市民打算进行的叛乱已酝酿成熟。特别是列日市民更是跃跃欲试。只消好好煽动一下,给一些支持,光是他们就足够我亲爱的堂弟对付一年多了。要是再有一个好斗的克罗伊埃伯爵助兴——啊,奥利弗,这计划太有奔头了。我实在不甘心轻易放弃。你丰富的想像力就不能想个办法吗?”

奥利弗停了很久,最后回答说:“叫克罗伊埃的伊莎贝尔与年轻的格尔德雷斯·阿道弗斯公爵成婚,您看如何?”

“什么!”国王惊奇地说道,“牺牲这样一个可爱的美人,把她嫁给那废黜和监禁亲生父亲,并经常恫吓要杀死他的狂暴家伙!奥利弗,这可不行——即使对于你我说来这样做也未免太残忍了,哪怕我们是在坚定不移地着眼于自己的良好目标——法国的和平和幸福,很少顾及实现这一目标的手段和方法。再说,他的领地距我们很远,而且,根特和列日市民也很恨他。不行,不行,我不要这个格尔德雷斯·阿道弗斯。另外想个对象吧。”

“陛下,我的想像力已穷尽了,”那谋臣说道,“我想不出谁来娶克罗伊埃伯爵小姐才能符合陛下的心意。他得一身兼有这样一些不同的优点:既是陛下的朋友又是勃艮第的敌人,既有足够的谋略讨好根特人和列日人,又有足够的勇气保卫他小小的领地,反抗强大的查尔斯公爵。此外,他还必须出身高贵——而这是陛下坚持的一个条件——外加品德优异。”

“奥利弗,你说得不对,”国王讲道,“我并不着重——我是说,我并不十分着重品行。不过,我想伊莎贝尔的新郎不应当像格尔德雷斯·阿道弗斯那样遭到人们普遍的憎恶。既然我不得不亲自点一个名,那么,比方说吧,为什么不能是威廉·德拉马克呢?”

“陛下呀,”奥利弗说道,“要是‘阿登内斯野猪’能满足您的需要,那我就不能抱怨您对幸运的新郎要求过高的品德了。您点德·拉马克吗?嘿,他可是好几国的边境上最声名狼藉的强盗和杀人犯,由于触犯千种刑律而遭到教皇逐出教会的惩罚。”

“奥利弗伙计,我将让他赦免惩罚——神圣教会是仁慈的。”

“他几乎成了一个化外之民,”奥利弗继续说道,“并根据雷根斯堡议会的命令,受到了帝国的声讨。”

“我的奥利弗好伙计,我将取消这道声讨令,”国王以同样的口气继续说道,“帝国议会是通情达理的。”

“就算他出身高贵吧,”奥利弗说道,“但他的面孔、外貌、举止和内心都像一个弗拉芒的屠夫——她是绝对不会要他的。”

“要是我没有认错人的话,”路易说道,“我想他的求婚方式将使她难以作出她自己的选择。”

“我真是大错特错,竟责怪陛下考虑太多了。”那谋臣说道,“我敢说,与德拉马克的罪恶比起来,阿道弗斯的真算得上美德了。不过,他如何和他的新娘碰头呢?陛下知道,他不敢远离他的阿登内斯森林。”

“这倒必须考虑考虑,”国王说道,“首先必须私下告诉这两位仕女,除非挑起法国和勃艮第的战争,否则就无法让她们继续在我的宫廷呆下去。再说,我又不愿意把她们交给勃艮第公爵,所以我希望她们能秘密地离开我的领土。”

“她们会要求把她们送往英国,”奥利弗说道,“要是这样,您就会看到她与一个长有漂亮的圆脸、褐色的长发,并有三千射手作后盾的岛国王公双双回到弗兰德。”

“不,不,”国王说道,“我不敢(你懂我的意思)让她去英国,从而过分得罪我勃艮第的堂弟——这会像让她呆在我这儿一样激起他的不满。这样做不行。我只敢把她交给教会,让教会保护她的安全。我充其量只能做到默许哈梅琳女士和伊莎贝尔·德·克罗伊埃小姐带着少数随从化装出走,去列日主教那儿避难。他会把美丽的伊莎贝尔暂时藏在一个女修道院里加以保护。”

“要是德拉马克明知陛下对他的好意,那么除非我看错了人,否则就难以想象修道院还有本事保住她,不让他抢走。”

“那不用说,”国王讲道,“由于我们暗中提供金钱,德拉马克已经有了一支为数可观的、为所欲为的军队。依靠这支军队他已设法在森林里站住脚,有能力使勃艮第公爵和列日主教都感到畏惧。他缺的只是一块地盘。既然这是一个可以使他通过婚姻占山为王的大好机会,上帝呀,我想无需我们暗示,他也会设法战胜困难取得这门亲的。这样一来,勃艮第公爵就会在腰上长一根刺,而这是当今任何手术针也无法从他肌肉里挑出来的。要是这位被他宣布为强盗的‘阿登内斯野猪’能通过那位美女的封地、城堡和贵族地位加强其实力,再加上有不满的列日市民支持——我敢说,在这种条件下,列日市民就会乐意推举他为首领——要是这样的话,查尔斯就是想和法国打仗,那也随他的便了。更恰当地说是,法国要是不和他打仗,他就算是福星高照了。嘿,奥利弗,你觉得这个计划如何?”

“太妙了,”奥利弗说道,“只是那位小姐赐与‘阿登内斯野猪’的好运未免太不值得了。我的老天爷,除了在外表英武方面稍差一点而外,军法总监特里斯顿可要比德拉马克更适合当她的未婚夫。”

“你先还推荐过理发匠奥利弗师傅哩,’潞易说道,“不过,我的奥利弗和特里斯顿好伙计呀,尽管你们在出谋划策和处决犯人方面很了不起,但却不是选作伯爵的材料。难道你们不明白弗兰德市民之所以看重别人的出身,正是因为他们自己出身不好么?平民大众都希望有个贵族首领。英国的那个克德或凯德——是怎么叫他来着?——冒充属于摩尔提麦的血统,以此来诱骗一群流氓跟随他。威廉·德拉马克出身于色当的贵族世家,和我的血统一样高贵。行了,让我们谈正事吧。我决定让这两位克罗伊埃仕女在可靠的向导护送下赶快秘密逃走。这事很容易办到——我们只消暗示她们,除此而外惟一的办法就是把她们交给勃艮第。你得设法让威廉·德拉马克知道她们的行踪。让他自己确定时间和地点来向姑娘求婚。我知道有个人适合随她们同行。”

“请问,陛下打算把这个重要的任务交给谁?”那理发师问道。

“当然是交给一个外国人,”国王回答道,“交给一个在法国既无亲友也无别的牵挂,能放手执行我的意旨的人。还有,有关法国及其宗派活动他也应知之甚少。除了我想告诉他的以外,不会对我的意图有更多的怀疑。总之,我打算利用刚去把你请来的那个年轻的苏格兰人。”

奥利弗犹豫了片刻,似乎对这一选择是否审慎表示怀疑,然后开口说道:“陛下这么快就对那个陌生小伙子给以信赖,实在是超过了您往常的做法。”

“我有我的道理,”国王回答道,“你知道(这时他划了个十字)我对赐福的圣朱利安十分虔诚。前天晚上我向这位圣者一直祷告到深夜。在祷告当中(由于他是以旅客的保护神闻名)我向他提出我谦卑的请求,求他给我送来一些最能帮助我在全国树立对我的无限忠诚的外国流浪汉,以充实皇家的实力。我对那善良的圣者许愿,并发誓要以他的名义收留、帮助和供养这些流浪汉。”

“这么说,”奥利弗讲道,“是圣朱利安应了您的祷告,给您送来了这个长腿的苏格兰人?”

尽管这理发师十分了解,其主子是以迷信来填补他在宗教信仰方面的欠缺,同时在这样一些话题上最容易使他生气——尽管他知道国王的这个弱点,并以最温和、最质朴的语气小心地提出了上面那个问题,然而路易还是感觉出它所包含的暗讽意味,因而极为不满地看待他所讲的话。

“好家伙,”他说,“叫你魔鬼奥利弗可真是一针见血。你竟敢嘲弄你的主人和赐福的圣者。我告诉你,要不是我百分之百地需要你这样一个人,我本会把你吊死在城堡前面那棵橡树上,作为嘲弄神圣事物的警戒!告诉你吧,你这不信基督的奴才,事情是这样的:我一闭上眼睛,就看见赐福的圣朱利安领着一个年轻人走来见我,他说这年轻人命中注定会免遭杀戳,也会逃脱被绞死溺死的危险。他将对他所支持的一方和他所从事的冒险事业带来好运。第二天一早我就碰到了我梦中见过的这个年轻人。在他的祖国,他全家惨遭屠杀,他却免遭杀戳,而来到这里以后,在短短的两天之内,他就神奇地逃脱了溺死和绞死的厄运,并像我最近暗示过你的那样,曾在一个特殊的场合给我帮了一个大忙。我把他看作是圣朱利安为了帮我办一件最艰危、最冒险的事而特意派到我这里来的。”

国王一边说,一边脱下帽子,从帽带上饰着的许多铅制小偶像中挑出圣朱利安的偶像,并像平常碰巧遇到某种特殊的希望或忏悔的心情掠过脑际时所做的那样,把它放在桌上,面对它跪了下来,带着深沉的虔诚表情喃喃念道:“Sancte Juliane,adsis precibus nostris!Ora,ora,pro nobis!”

这正是路易王在这种特殊的时间和场合下经常发作的一种迷信和虔诚的狂热。这种狂热使得世界上一位最聪明的君主也变得像个疯子,至少像个深感有罪而心灵惴惴不安的庸人。

看到他在搞这些名堂,他的宠臣带着一种不加掩饰的讥笑和轻蔑的表情望着他。这个人的特点之一的确在于,在他和他的主子接触的整个过程当中,他都把讨好卖乖、卑躬屈膝这一套装模作样的东西搁在一边。但这些正是他对待别人与众不同的地方。如果他在国王面前仍像只猫的话,那么这是一只高度警觉的猫——它兴奋地注视着,随时准备采取突然的行动。之所以出现这种变化,也许是因为奥利弗意识到,他的主子本人就是一个莫大的伪君子,不可能不看穿别人的虚伪。

“恕我冒昧地指出,”奥利弗说道,“这年轻人的面貌是否就真像您梦中看见的那个小伙子呢?”

“非常非常像。”国王说道。这时他也像一般迷信的人们那样,很容易成为自己想像力的俘虏。“再说,我还叫伽利奥提·马蒂瓦尔给他算了八字。通过占卜和我自己的观察,我已清楚地了解到,这个无依无靠的年轻人的生辰八字和我的生辰八字相同,属于同一个星宿。”

对于路易王为了偏袒这个黄毛小子而大胆设想出来的理由,奥利弗尽管有什么想法,也不敢再表示异议,因为他很清楚,路易王在流亡期间曾潜心钻研过所谓的占星学,不会接受对这种方术表示责难的任何讥讽。因此他只是回答说,他相信这年轻人会忠实地执行如此微妙的一个任务。

“我将保证他没有机会干出越轨的事,”路易说道,“除了告诉他是去护送两位克罗伊埃仕女前往列日主教的住地以外,别的细节都要对他保密。至于威廉·德拉马克可能进行的拦劫,他将和她们一样一无所知。我们只让向导知道这个秘密。特里斯顿或你得给我找到一个适合我意图的人来当向导。”

“如果真是这样安排,”奥利弗说道,“那么根据这年轻人的国籍和外表来判断,当他一看见那‘野猪’向他袭来,他便有可能进行抵抗,而不会像他今早那样轻松地避开野猪的獠牙。”

“如果野猪的獠牙撕裂了他的心,”路易安详地说道,“那么圣朱利安——愿他的英名得福!——会派另一个外国人来代替他。任务完成,信使被杀,就像酒喝光酒瓶被砸一样无关紧要。话说回来,我们得赶快让这两位妇人逃跑,然后说服克雷维格伯爵,她们逃跑并未受到我的纵容;我本来很希望把她们归还给我的好堂弟来对她们进行监护,但她们的突然出走已使得原计划不幸落空。”

“但这伯爵也许十分精明,不会相信这个说法。他的主人也成见太深,不致信以为真。”

“圣母呀!”路易说道,“一个基督徒这也不信,那也不信,像什么话呀!不过,奥利弗,他们会相信我们的。我将对我的好堂弟查尔斯公爵表现出彻底的、无限的信赖,要是他不相信我对他完全坦诚相见,那他简直连个不信基督的异教徒都不如!告诉你吧,就勃艮第·查尔斯来说,我有把握想叫他对我有什么看法就有什么看法。只要有必要消除他的怀疑,我可以不带武器,骑一匹小马,只带你奥利弗伙计一个人作我的马弁,亲自去他的营帐拜访他。”

“而我,”奥利弗说,“尽管除了剃刀以外不敢夸口说还会使用别的什么刀剑,但我还是宁肯攻打一营瑞士梭标手,也不愿陪伴陛下到勃艮第·查尔斯那儿去进行友好访问,因为他有种种理由相信,陛下在内心深处对他抱有敌意。”

“奥利弗,你真是个傻瓜,”国王说道,“尽管你自认聪明,你却不明白深谋远略经常得戴上单纯质朴的面具,正像勇敢偶尔也得披上胆怯的外衣。只要有必要,我肯定会照我所说的去做。看来圣人们总是在保佑我实现我的目的,而天上星宿的运行也呈现出有利于这一行动的吉祥征兆。”

路易十一正是通过这几句话第一次暗示出他为了愚弄自己的劲敌后来果然作出了一个决定。这个决定付诸实行后险些断送了他的一切。

国王和他的谋臣分手之后,马上来到两位克罗伊埃仕女的住室。他暗示说,他无法永远给她们提供庇护以躲避勃艮第公爵的追逼,本来只消他准许,无需他怎么劝说她们也会决定离开法国宫廷的。但要劝说她们选择列日作为她们的避难所却不那么容易。她们恳求把她们送往布列塔尼或加来,以便在布列塔尼公爵或英国国王的保护下能获得安全,直到勃艮第君主态度变软,放弃对她们的苛刻意图。但这两个避难地都与路易的计划相左,最后他终于诱使她们接受了符合他心意的列日城。

列日主教保护她们的能力是不容置疑的,因为他那尊严的圣职使他有权保护逃亡者不受基督世界任何君主的侵犯。此外他所掌握的世俗武装力量人数虽不多,但至少足够护卫他自己以及受他庇护的人免遭突然的暴力袭击。困难在于如何平安地到达主教的小教廷。路易答应设法散布一个谣言,说是两位克罗伊埃仕女害怕被交给勃艮第特使,已在夜间逃离图尔,前往布列塔尼。同时他还应允为她们配备两个忠实的随从,并给她们所经过的城市和堡垒的司令官写好介绍信,吩咐他们尽一切可能为她们在旅途中提供保护和帮助。

两位克罗伊埃仕女对路易王取消他答应给她们的庇护所表现出的自私和无礼虽然内心十分不满,但她们毫不反对要她们马上离开的意见,甚至比他的计划还赶前一步,要求当晚就放她们走。哈梅琳女士对这个既看不到朝臣们对她的赞美,也看不到欢乐宴会的鬼地方已感厌烦,而伊莎贝尔小姐则认为,从她已看到的许多事实足以断定,要是有更强的诱惑,路易王将不满足于仅仅把她们赶出宫廷,甚至会毫不犹豫地把她交给她愤怒的监护人——勃艮第公爵。最后路易欣然默许她们赶快动身,因为他急于想和查尔斯公爵取得和解,而且惟恐美丽的伊莎贝尔会干扰他把女儿让娜嫁给侄儿奥尔良的如意算盘。



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