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Chapter 13 The Journey

Talk not of kings -- I scorn the poor comparison; I am a sage and can command the elements -- At least men think I can; and on that thought I found unbounded empire.

ALBUMAZAR

Occupation and adventure might be said to crowd upon the young Scottishman with the force of a spring tide; for he was speedily summoned to the apartment of his Captain, the Lord Crawford, where, to his astonishment, he again beheld the King. After a few words respecting the honour and trust which were about to be reposed in him, which made Quentin internally afraid that they were again about to propose to him such a watch as he had kept upon the Count of Crevecoeur, or perhaps some duty still more repugnant to his feelings, he was not relieved merely, but delighted, with hearing that he was selected, with the assistance of four others under his command, one of whom was a guide, to escort the Ladies of Croye to the little Court of their relative, the Bishop of Liege, in the safest and most commodious, and, at the same time, in the most secret manner possible. A scroll was given him, in which were set down directions for his guidance, for the places of halt (generally chosen in obscure villages, solitary monasteries, and situations remote from towns), and for the general precautions which he was to attend to, especially on approaching the frontier of Burgundy. He was sufficiently supplied with instructions what he ought to say and do to sustain the personage of the Maitre d'Hotel of two English ladies of rank, who had been on a pilgrimage to Saint Martin of Tours, and were about to visit the holy city of Cologne, and worship the relics of the sage Eastern Monarchs, who came to adore the nativity of Bethlehem (the relics of the three kings, or Magi, were placed in the Cathedral of Cologne in 1162); for under that character the Ladies of Croye were to journey.

Without having any defined notions of the cause of his delight, Quentin Durward's heart leapt for joy at the idea of approaching thus nearly to the person of the Beauty of the Turret, and in a situation which entitled him to her confidence, since her protection was in so great a degree intrusted to his conduct and courage. He felt no doubt in his own mind that he should be her successful guide through the hazards of her pilgrimage. Youth seldom thinks of dangers, and bred up free, and fearless, and self confiding, Quentin, in particular, only thought of them to defy them. He longed to be exempted from the restraint of the Royal presence, that he might indulge the secret glee with which such unexpected tidings filled him, and which prompted him to bursts of delight which would have been totally unfitting for that society.

But Louis had not yet done with him. That cautious monarch had to consult a counsellor of a different stamp from Oliver le Diable, who was supposed to derive his skill from the superior and astral intelligences, as men, judging from their fruits, were apt to think the counsels of Oliver sprang from the Devil himself.

Louis therefore led the way, followed by the impatient Quentin, to a separate tower of the castle of Plessis, in which was installed, in no small ease and splendour; the celebrated astrologer, poet, and philosopher, Galeotti Marti, or Martius, or Martivalle, a native of Narni, in Italy, the author of the famous Treatise De Vulgo Incognitis (concerning things unknown to the generality of mankind. S.), and the subject of his age's admiration, and of the panegyrics of Paulus Jovius (an Italian historian of the sixteenth century who lived at the Pope's court). He had long flourished at the court of the celebrated Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, from whom he was in some measure decoyed by Louis, who grudged the Hungarian monarch the society and the counsels of a sage accounted so skilful in reading the decrees of Heaven.

(Martius Galeotti . . . was secretary to Matthias Carvinus, King of Hungary. He left Hungary in 1477, and was made prisoner at Venice on a charge of having propagated heterodox opinions. . . . He might have suffered seriously but for the protection of Sixtus IV, then Pope, who had been one of his scholars. . . . He attached himself to Louis XI, and died in his service. S.)

Martivalle was none of those ascetic, withered, pale professors of mystic learning of those days, who bleared their eyes over the midnight furnace, and macerated their bodies by out watching the Polar Bear. He indulged in all courtly pleasures, and until he grew corpulent, had excelled in all martial sports and gymnastic exercises, as well as in the use of arms; insomuch, that Janus Pannonius (a Hungarian poet of the fifteenth century) has left a Latin epigram upon a wrestling match betwixt Galeotti and a renowned champion of that art, in the presence of the Hungarian King and Court, in which the Astrologer was completely victorious.

The apartments of this courtly and martial sage were far more splendidly furnished than any which Quentin had yet seen in the royal palace; and the carving and ornamented woodwork of his library, as well as the magnificence displayed in the tapestries, showed the elegant taste of the learned Italian. Out of his study one door opened to his sleeping apartment, another led to the turret which served as his observatory. A large open table, in the midst of the chamber, was covered with a rich Turkey carpet, the spoils of the tent of a Pacha, after the great battle of Jaiza, where the Astrologer had fought abreast with the valiant champion of Christendom, Matthias Corvinus. On the table lay a variety of mathematical and astrological instruments, all of the most rich materials and curious workmanship. His astrolabe of silver was the gift of the Emperor of Germany, and his Jacob's staff of ebony (a divining rod made of a hazel fork), jointed with gold and curiously inlaid, was a mark of esteem from the reigning Pope.

There were various other miscellaneous articles disposed on the table, or hanging around the walls; amongst others, two complete suits of armour, one of mail, the other of plate, both of which, from their great size, seemed to call the gigantic Astrologer their owner; a Spanish toledo, a Scottish broadsword, a Turkish scymetar, with bows, quivers, and other warlike weapons; musical instruments of several different kinds; a silver crucifix, a sepulchral antique vase, and several of the little brazen Penates of the ancient heathens, with other curious nondescript articles, some of which, in the superstitious opinions of that period, seemed to be designed for magical purposes. The library of this singular character was of the same miscellaneous description with its other effects. Curious manuscripts of classical antiquity lay mingled with the voluminous labours of Christian divines, and of those painstaking sages who professed the chemical science, and proffered to guide their students into the most secret recesses of nature, by means of the Hermetical Philosophy (a system of philosophy ascribed to the Egyptian Hermes (Thoth) who was reputed to have written certain sacred books treating of religion and the natural sciences). Some were written in the Eastern character, and others concealed their sense or nonsense under the veil of hieroglyphics and cabalistic characters. The whole apartment and its furniture of every kind, formed a scene very impressive on the fancy, considering the general belief then indisputably entertained concerning the truth of the occult sciences; and that effect was increased by the manners and appearance of the individual himself, who, seated in a huge chair, was employed in curiously examining a specimen, just issued from the Frankfort press, of the newly invented art of printing.

Galeotti Martivalle was a tall, bulky, yet stately man, considerably past his prime, and whose youthful habits of exercise, though still occasionally resumed, had not been able to contend with his natural tendency to corpulence, increased by sedentary study, and indulgence in the pleasures of the table. His features, though rather overgrown, were dignified and noble, and a Santon might have envied the dark and downward sweep of his long descending beard. His dress was a chamber robe of the richest Genoa velvet, with ample sleeves, clasped with frogs of gold, and lined with sables. It was fastened round his middle by a broad belt of virgin parchment, round which were represented, in crimson characters, the signs of the Zodiac. He rose and bowed to the King, yet with the air of one to whom such exalted society was familiar, and who was not at all likely, even in the royal presence, to compromise the dignity then especially affected by the pursuers of science.

"You are engaged, father," said the King, "and, as I think, with this new fashioned art of multiplying manuscripts by the intervention of machinery. Can things of such mechanical and terrestrial import interest the thoughts of one before whom Heaven has unrolled her own celestial volumes?"

"My brother," replied Martivalle. "for so the tenant of this cell must term even the King of France, when he deigns to visit him as a disciple -- believe me that in considering the consequences of this invention, I read with as certain augury as by any combination of the heavenly bodies, the most awful and portentous changes. When I reflect with what slow and limited supplies the stream of science hath hitherto descended to us, how difficult to be obtained by those most ardent in its search, how certain to be neglected by all who regard their ease; how liable to be diverted, altogether dried up, by the invasions of barbarism; can I look forward without wonder and astonishment to the lot of a succeeding generation on whom knowledge will descend like the first and second rain, uninterrupted, unabated, unbounded; fertilizing some grounds, and overflowing others; changing the whole form of social life; establishing and overthrowing religions; erecting and destroying kingdoms"

"Hold, Galeotti," said Louis, "shall these changes come in our time?"

"No, my royal brother," replied Martivalle; "this invention may be likened to a young tree, which is now newly planted, but shall, in succeeding generations, bear fruit as fatal, yet as precious, as that of the Garden of Eden; the knowledge, namely, of good and evil."

Louis answered, after a moment's pause, "Let futurity look to what concerns them -- we are men of this age, and to this age we will confine our care. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.

"Tell me, hast thou proceeded farther in the horoscope Which I sent to thee, and of which you made me some report? I have brought the party hither, that you may use palmistry, or chiromancy if such is your pleasure. The matter is pressing."

The bulky sage arose from his seat, and, approaching the young soldier, fixed on him his keen large dark eyes as if he were in the act of internally spelling and dissecting every lineament and feature.

Blushing and borne down by this close examination on the part of one whose expression was so reverend at once and commanding, Quentin bent his eyes on the ground, and did not again raise them, till in the act of obeying the sonorous command of the Astrologer, "Look up and be not afraid, but hold forth thy hand."

When Martivalle had inspected his palm, according to the form of the mystic arts which he practised, he led the King some steps aside.

"My royal brother," he said, "the physiognomy of this youth, together with the lines impressed on his hand, confirm, in a wonderful degree, the report which I founded on his horoscope, as well as that judgment which your own proficiency in our sublime arts induced you at once to form of him. All promises that this youth will be brave and fortunate."

"And faithful?" said the King; "for valour and fortune square not always with fidelity."

"And faithful also," said the Astrologer; "for there is manly firmness in look and eye, and his linea vitae (the line of life, a term used in palmistry) is deeply marked and clear, which indicates a true and upright adherence to those who do benefit or lodge trust in him. But yet --"

"But what?" said the King; "Father Galeotti, wherefore do you now pause?"

"The ears of Kings," said the sage, "are like the palates of those dainty patients which are unable to endure the bitterness of the drugs necessary for their recovery."

"My ears and my palate have no such niceness," said Louis; "let me hear what is useful counsel, and swallow what is wholesome medicine. I quarrel not with the rudeness of the one, or the harsh taste of the other. I have not been cockered in wantonness or indulgence; my youth was one of exile and suffering. My ears are used to harsh counsel, and take no offence at it."

"Then plainly, Sire," replied Galeotti, "if you have aught in your purposed commission which -- which, in short, may startle a scrupulous conscience -- intrust it not to this youth, at least, not till a few years' exercise in your service has made him as unscrupulous as others."

"And is this what you hesitated to speak, my good Galeotti? and didst thou think thy speaking it would offend me?" said the King. "Alack, I know that thou art well sensible that the path of royal policy cannot be always squared (as that of private life ought invariably to be) by the abstract maxims of religion and of morality. Wherefore do we, the Princes of the earth, found churches and monasteries, make pilgrimages, undergo penances, and perform devotions with which others may dispense, unless it be because the benefit of the public, and the welfare of our kingdoms, force us upon measures which grieve our consciences as Christians? But Heaven has mercy, the Church, an unbounded stock of merits and the intercession of Our Lady of Embrun and the blessed saints, is urgent, everlasting, and omnipotent."

He laid his hat on the table, and devoutly kneeling before the images stuck into the hat band, repeated in an earnest tone, "Sancte Huberte, Sancte Juliane, Sancte Martine, Sancta Rosalia, Sancti quotquot adestis, orate pro me peccatore!" (St. Hubert, St. Julian, St. Martin, St. Rosalia, all ye saints who hear me, pray for me, a sinner.) He then smote his breast, arose, reassumed his hat, and continued: "Be assured, good father, that whatever there may be in our commission of the nature at which you have hinted, the execution shall not be intrusted to this youth, nor shall he be privy to such part of our purpose."

"In this," said the Astrologer, "you, my royal brother, will walk wisely. -- Something may be apprehended likewise from the rashness of this your young commissioner, a failing inherent in those of sanguine complexion. But I hold that, by the rules of art, this chance is not to be weighed against the other properties discovered from his horoscope and otherwise."

"Will this next midnight be a propitious hour in which to commence a perilous journey?" said the King. "See, here is your Ephemerides -- you see the position of the moon in regard to Saturn, and the ascendence of Jupiter. -- That should argue, methinks, in submission to your better art, success to him who sends forth the expedition at such an hour."

"To him who sends forth the expedition," said the Astrologer, after a pause, "this conjunction doth indeed promise success; but, methinks, that Saturn, being combust, threatens danger and infortune to the party sent; whence I infer that the errand may be perilous, or even fatal to those who are to journey. Violence and captivity, methinks, are intimated in that adverse conjunction."

"Violence and captivity to those who are sent," answered the King, "but success to the wishes of the sender. -- Runs it not thus, my learned father?"

"Even so," replied the Astrologer.

The King paused, without giving any farther indication how far this presaging speech (probably hazarded by the Astrologer from his conjecture that the commission related to some dangerous purpose) squared with his real object, which, as the reader is aware, was to betray the Countess Isabelle of Croye into the hands of William de la Marck, a nobleman indeed of high birth, but degraded by his crimes into a leader of banditti, distinguished for his turbulent disposition and ferocious bravery.

The King then pulled forth a paper from his pocket, and, ere he gave it to Martivalle, said, in a tone which resembled that of an apology, "Learned Galeotti, be not surprised that, possessing in you an oracular treasure, superior to that lodged in the breast of any now alive, not excepting the great Nostradamus himself (a French astrologer of the sixteenth century, author of a book of prophecies, which was condemned by the papal court in 1781), I am desirous frequently to avail myself of your skill in those doubts and difficulties which beset every Prince who hath to contend with rebellion within his land, and with external enemies, both powerful and inveterate."

"When I was honoured with your request, Sire," said the philosopher, "and abandoned the Court of Buda for that of Plessis, it was with the resolution to place at the command of my royal patron whatever my art had, that might be of service to him."

"Enough, good Martivalle -- I pray thee attend to the import of this question."

He proceeded to read from the paper in his hand: "A person having on hand a weighty controversy, which is like to draw to debate either by law or by force of arms, is desirous, for the present, to seek accommodation by a personal interview with his antagonist. He desires to know what day will be propitious for the execution of such a purpose; also what is likely to be the success of such a negotiation, and whether his adversary will be moved to answer the confidence thus reposed in him, with gratitude and kindness, or may rather be likely to abuse the opportunity and advantage which such meeting may afford him."

"It is an important question," said Martivalle, when the King had done reading, "and requires that I should set a planetary figure (to prepare a diagram which would represent the heavens at that particular moment), and give it instant and deep consideration."

"Let it be so, my good father in the sciences, and thou shalt know what it is to oblige a King of France. We are determined, if the constellations forbid not -- and our own humble art leads us to think that they approve our purpose -- to hazard something, even in our own person, to stop these anti-Christian wars."

"May the Saints forward your Majesty's pious intent," said the Astrologer, "and guard your sacred person."

"Thanks, learned father. Here is something, the while, to enlarge your curious library."

He placed under one of the volumes a small purse of gold; for, economical even in his superstitions, Louis conceived the Astrologer sufficiently bound to his service by the pensions he had assigned him, and thought himself entitled to the use of his skill at a moderate rate, even upon great exigencies.

Louis, having thus, in legal phrase, added a refreshing fee to his general retainer, turned from him to address Durward.

"Follow me," he said, "my bonny Scot, as one chosen by Destiny and a Monarch to accomplish a bold adventure. All must be got ready, that thou mayest put foot in stirrup the very instant the bell of Saint Martin's tolls twelve. One minute sooner, one minute later, were to forfeit the favourable aspect of the constellations which smile on your adventure."

Thus saying, the King left the apartment, followed by his young guardsman; and no sooner were they gone than the Astrologer gave way to very different feelings from those which seemed to animate him during the royal presence.

"The niggardly slave!" he said, weighing the purse in his hand -- for, being a man of unbounded expense, he had almost constant occasion for money -- "The base, sordid scullion! A coxswain's wife would give more to know that her husband had crossed the narrow seas in safety. He acquire any tincture of humane letters! -- yes, when prowling foxes and yelling wolves become musicians. He read the glorious blazoning of the firmament! -- ay, when sordid moles shall become lynxes. Post tot promissa -- after so many promises made, to entice me from the Court of the magnificent Matthias, where Hun and Turk, Christian and Infidel, the Czar of Muscovia and the Cham of Tartary themselves, contended to load me with gifts -- doth he think I am to abide in this old castle like a bullfinch in a cage, fain to sing as oft as he chooses to whistle, and all for seed and water? Not so -- aut inveniam viam, aut faciam -- I will discover or contrive a remedy. The Cardinal Balue is politic and liberal -- this query shall to him, and it shall be his Eminence's own fault if the stars speak not as he would have them."

He again took the despised guerdon, and weighed it in his hand. "It may be," he said, "there is some jewel, or pearl of price, concealed in this paltry case -- I have heard he can be liberal even to lavishness, when it suits his caprice or interest."

He emptied the purse, which contained neither more nor less than ten gold pieces. The indignation of the Astrologer was extreme.

"Thinks he that for such paltry rate of hire I will practise that celestial science which I have studied with the Armenian Abbot of Istrahoff, who had not seen the sun for forty years -- with the Greek Dubravius, who is said to have raised the dead -- and have even visited the Sheik Ebn Hali in his cave in the deserts of Thebais? No, by Heaven! -- he that contemns art shall perish through his own ignorance. Ten pieces! -- a pittance which I am half ashamed to offer to Toinette, to buy her new breast laces."

So saying, the indignant Sage nevertheless plunged the contemned pieces of gold into a large pouch which he wore at his girdle, which Toinette, and other abettors of lavish expense, generally contrived to empty fully faster than the philosopher, with all his art, could find the means of filling.

别谈什么帝王——我不屑和他们

相比;

我是一个贤哲,我有控制大自然的

威力,

至少人们认为我有这种能力。

基于这种思想,

我感到我有无限的权力。

《阿尔布马扎》

繁忙的事务和危险的经历真可说是春潮般地向这年轻的苏格兰人涌了过来。不多时他又被召到队长克劳福德大公的住室。使他惊奇的是,在那里他竟再度和国王相遇。他们简短地告诉他,他将被荣幸地委以重任,昆丁暗自担心他们又要他担负类似针对克雷维格伯爵的那种警戒或某种他更讨厌的任务。但当他听到他被挑选率领四名随从(其中包括一名向导),尽可能安全舒适、也尽可能秘密地护送两位克罗伊埃仕女前往列日主教(她们的一位亲戚)的小教廷时,他不禁舒了口气,而且十分高兴。国王交给他一个卷轴,里面写有他该遵守的一些指示,如吩咐他在哪些地方停留(一般都选在不引人注意的村庄、僻静的寺院和远离城市的地方),以及一般应注意什么防范事项,特别是在接近勃艮第边境时应采取哪些警戒措施。国王还详细指示他如何很好地扮演两位英国仕女的旅行侍从的角色,该说些什么,做些什么。两位克罗伊埃仕女佯称她们是贵妇人,前去朝拜图尔的圣马丁教堂,还准备朝拜科隆的圣城,瞻仰曾去伯利恒祝贺耶稣诞生的东方三贤的遗体。

昆丁也不明白他为什么感到高兴。但一想起他将如此接近那“塔楼美女”,而且,她的安全在很大程度上要靠他的行动和勇气来得到保证,因此他的地位将使他有权得到她的信任——一想起这些他的心便快活得跳了起来。他满有把握,相信他一定能成功地带领她通过旅途中的艰难险阻。年轻人是很少想到危险的。特别是昆丁的教养更使他显得洒脱、勇敢而自信。他脑子里想到危险,也只是为了蔑视危险。他急于摆脱在国王面前感到的拘束,以便尽情地领受这意外的好消息给他带来的喜悦。事实上,这消息促使他感到的一阵阵欣喜已完全不适合当前这个场合。

然而路易还不肯放他走。这位处事慎重的君主还得去咨询一位完全不同于魔鬼奥利弗式的谋士。人们说他的方术来自其他星球上的更高的智慧;这和人们通过结果来判断,往往把奥利弗的主意看作是魔鬼的杰作全是一个道理。

心里感到很不耐烦的昆丁跟随路易来到普莱西城堡内一个单独的塔楼。在这个塔楼一间舒适而讲究的房间里住着著名的星相占卜家、诗人兼哲学家伽利奥提·马蒂——又名马蒂阿斯或马蒂瓦尔。他是意大利纳尔尼人,是著名论文《De Vulgo Incognitis》的作者;是当代人钦佩的对象,也是保鲁斯·乔维阿斯颂扬的对象。早在著名的匈牙利国王马提亚斯·科维纳斯的宫廷里他就已经红得发紫。在某种意义上说,他是被路易王引诱到法国来的,因为路易嫉妒这位匈牙利国王拥有一位被认为十分擅长观天象。识天命的贤哲。

马蒂瓦尔既不是当时那种被半夜的炼丹炉搞得两眼迷糊的方士,也没有由于过久地观察北极星而变成身体消瘦、面容苍白而干瘪的苦行僧式的玄学教师。他尽情地享受宫廷的各种娱乐。在他发福以前,他一直娴于武术和体操,善于耍各种武器。杰纳斯·潘诺尼阿斯曾留下一首拉丁文短诗,描述伽利奥提和一位著名的武术选手在匈牙利国王及其满朝文武面前比赛摔跤的情况,这位占卜家获得全胜。

这位宫廷化和军事化了的贤哲的住房,是昆丁在宫廷里见到过的最为富丽堂皇的一间。书房的雕塑品和装饰性木雕以及精美的挂毯都表现出这位博学的意大利人有高雅的鉴赏力。他的书房里有道门通向卧室,另一道门则通向那充当天象观察台的塔楼。房中央的大橡木桌上,铺着一块华丽的土耳其桌毯。那是这位占星术家与基督世界的英勇卫士马提亚斯·科维纳斯在贾扎战役并肩战斗之后,从一位巴夏的营帐中俘获的战利品。桌上摆着用极贵重的材料精工制作的各种数学仪器和占星用具。他那银制的星盘是德国皇帝赠的礼物,而他那黄金衔结、精心镶嵌的乌木制独角罗盘支杆则是现任教皇为表敬意赠给他的纪念品。

桌上摆的、墙上挂的还有各式各样杂物,其中包括两套铠甲:一套锁子甲,一套片甲,由于尺寸很大,似乎都属于这位身材高大的占星家。此外还有一把西班牙的托菜多宝剑、一把苏格兰大刀。一把土耳其短弯刀,以及弓和箭筒等别的作战武器;外加几种不同的乐器和一个银十字架、一个从坟墓内掘出来的古瓶、若干古代异教徒传下来的家神小铜像。最后还有许多珍奇古怪的东西,其中一些,照当时迷信的人看来,似乎是专为巫术的需要设计出来的。这位怪杰的书房也和他的其他财产一样,内容十分庞杂。与古希腊罗马的珍奇手稿混杂在一起的,除了基督教的神学巨著以外,还有教授化学、声言能通过炼金学引导学生探究大自然最神奇奥秘的苦学之士的长篇大作;有些是用东方文字写的,另一些则是用象形文字和神秘文字写的,这一切都令人莫测高深。考虑到人们当时对玄学的真实价值所持的普遍看法,这整个房间及其各种陈设的确提供了一种能使人的想像力产生深刻印象的景象。而主人自己的仪态和外表也增强了这个印象。这时他正坐在一张大椅子上,好奇地审视着法兰克福刚送来的一份介绍新发明的印刷术的印刷样品。

伽利奥提·马蒂瓦尔身材魁梧雄健,早已人过壮年。虽然有时还继续保持着年轻时候的锻炼习惯,但已无法阻挡身体发福的自然趋势;又由于每天久坐书斋,且过分喜爱肉食,就更助长了这种趋势。他的五官都长得相当大,但显得高贵而威严。一位伊斯兰托钵僧也会羡慕他那把冉冉的黑胡须。他穿的是一件用华丽的热那亚天鹅绒做的带有黑貂皮衬里的宽袖金扣便袍。腰身上还扎有一宽条纯白羊皮纸,周围用红字标着黄道十二宫。他站起来,向国王鞠了一躬,但他的表情说明他是一个惯于和贵人交往的人;即使在国王面前,也丝毫不会放下搞科学的人当时特别喜欢摆出的尊严架势。

“神父,您忙着啦,”国王说道,“我想您是在忙着研究借助机器复印手稿的新技术吧。难道这种机械的世俗性的东西也能使上帝已向其展示天书的人们感到兴趣吗?”

“我的好兄弟,”马蒂瓦尔回答道,“我之所以这样称呼法王陛下,是因为您既然以弟子的身份屈尊前来,我这小小斗室的主人也只好这样做。请相信我,通过考虑这一发明的后果,我已经像观察星宿会合的预兆那样,十分明确地看到了将要发生的最严重、最惊人的变化。我想,迄今为止科学还只是缓慢而有限地向我们输送它的涓涓细流;热心追求科学的人们要想获得科学还十分困难;贪图安逸的人们肯定会忽视其研究,而野蛮人的入侵又很容易使其遭受挫折,甚至完全枯竭,因此我不能不惊异地展望未来,展望下一代人的命运,看到知识将像初雨那样,不可阻挡、持久不断地降临在他们心中,使得一些土壤肥沃,另一些浸润在知识的海洋中。它将改变整个社会生活的面貌,树立新宗教,推翻旧宗教,建立新王国,摧毁旧王国——”

“停停,伽利奥提,”路易说道,“这些变化会在我们这个时代出现吗?”

“不,我的国王兄弟,”马蒂瓦尔说道,“这个发明可以比作一株幼树,还刚刚种下,但在未来的时代中将结出类似伊甸乐园里的善与恶的智慧果那种能决定人类命运的宝贵果实。”

路易寻思了片刻回答道:“让未来的人为他们的事操心吧——我们是这个时代的人,我们将只为这个时代操心。要想今天凡事都考虑充分,反有不少害处。请您告诉我,我送给您的那个八卦图,您已经给我介绍过一些情况了,您有何新的进展?我把那个人带来了,您可以随您的便给他看看手相或足相。事情很急。”

那身材魁梧的贤哲从椅子上站起来,走到年轻卫士面前,用自己那双又大又黑的敏锐眼睛凝视着他,仿佛在脑子里分析解剖他的每个面貌特征。由于受到表情如此可敬、如此威严的老人这般仔细的审视,昆丁感到羞怯和慑服,低下头望着地面。那占星术家用他洪亮的声音命令道:“抬起头,别害怕,把手伸出来。”这时他才遵命抬起头来。

马蒂瓦尔按照他所干的这门玄秘方术的格式看完他的手相之后,把国王引到一边说道:“我的国王兄弟,这个年轻人的面相,也和印在他手上的纹理一样惊人地证实了我根据他的生辰八字提出的报告,以及由于您深谙我们这门崇高的艺术而促使您立刻对他作出的判断。一切都表明这年轻人将表现得很勇敢,又很走运。”

“会不会忠心耿耿?”国王说道,“因为勇敢和幸运的人往往不忠诚。”

“也很忠诚。”那占星术家说道,“容貌和眼神都表现出男子汉的坚定,生命线明显清晰,这说明将对他的恩人和信任他的人忠贞不贰。不过——”

“不过什么?”国王问道,“伽利奥提神父,您干吗不说下去呢?”

“国王们的耳朵,”那贤哲说道,“就像那些养尊处优的病人的舌头一样,容不得苦口去病的良药。”

“我的耳朵和我的舌头都没有那么娇,”路易说道,“我听得进有益的忠言,也吞得下健身的良药。我既不责怪前者刺耳,也不责怪后者味苦。我没有被娇生惯养,使我任性、放纵。我的年轻时代是在流亡和不幸中度过的。我的耳朵已经习惯于听逆耳的忠言,而不会感到冒犯了尊严。”

“那么,我想坦率地告诉陛下,”伽利奥提说道,“假如您要办的事里面有任何——简言之,有任何使忠厚的良知过意不去的东西——那就不要交给这个年轻人。至少要等他为您服役若干年,使他变得和别人一样无所顾忌时再说。”

“我的好伽利奥提,难道这就是您感到难以启齿的话吗?您以为您说这个话会使我生气吗?”国王说道,“嘿,我想您一定很明白,国王的策略并不像个人私生活理所应当的那样,总是按抽象的宗教和道德准则走一条直路的。要不是因为公众利益和国家的幸福往往迫使我们做一些违背基督良心的事,我们这些尘世的帝王们何必要建立教堂和寺院,何必要朝圣、悔罪、做祷告呢?但上帝是仁慈的——教会是个容纳无限美德的宝库。再说,昂布伦圣母和得福的圣徒们为我们向上帝的求情也是恳切持久而万能的。”说罢他把帽子搁在桌上,对着帽带上插着的一些偶像跪了下来,用诚恳的语调反复念道:“Sancte Huberte,Sancte Juliane,Sancte Martine,Sancta Rosalia,Sancti quotquot adestis,orate pro me peccatore!”然后他捶捶胸,站了起来,重新戴上帽子继续说下去:“放心吧,好神父,不管我要办的这件事当中有什么东西是属于您暗示过的那种性质,我肯定不会交给这个年轻人去办,也不会让他知道我这方面的意图。”

“要是这样的话,”占星术家说道,“我的国王兄弟,您算走对了路子。您这位年轻的使者的莽撞劲也同样值得担心,而这是血气方刚的年轻人内在的弱点。不过,根据我们这门方术的规律来判断,他在这方面可能存在的缺点无法掩盖通过他的生辰八字和其他途径显现出来的优良品质。”

“今天半夜是不是出发去进行危险旅行的吉祥时辰?”国王问道,“瞧,这儿是您的星历表。人们可以看到月亮相对于土星的位置,也可以看到木星正在上升——不怕在您面前班门弄斧的话,我想这说明,谁想在这个时辰派遣队伍出发,谁就会成功。”

“就派遣者来说,”那占星术家停了片刻讲道,“这个时辰的确是个成功的吉兆。不过我认为,土星既然主火,那么就被派遣者来说,这可是一个危险的凶兆。因此我推测,作这次旅行的人所面临的任务可能是危险的,甚至是生死攸关的。在我看来,那不吉祥的星宿际会暗示他们会碰到暴力和劫持。”

“被派遣者会碰到暴力和劫持,”国王说道,“而派遣者的目的却会获得成功——是这个意思吗,我博学的神父?”

“正是这样。”那占星术家说道。

国王沉默不语,没有进一步说明这一席预言(也许是这位占星术家猜想这事一定与某种危险企图有关而瞎说出来的)究竟在多大程度上与其真实意图相符。正如读者已经知道的,路易的真实意图在于把克罗伊埃·伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐出卖给那出身诚然高贵,但罪恶累累已沦为匪首,并以其性格狂暴勇猛而闻名的威廉·德拉马克。

国王从口袋里掏出一张纸,在没有把它递给马蒂瓦尔之前,先用抱歉的口吻说道:“博学的伽利奥提,既然您胸中藏有比世界上任何人(甚至包括伟大的诺斯特拉达穆斯在内)更优异的预言宝库,您不必奇怪,作为一个不得不和内忧外患顽强斗争的国王,我自然希望在经常碰到的疑难问题上多多利用您的专长。”

“陛下,”那哲学家说道,“当我荣幸地接受您的要求,离开布达佩斯宫廷来到普莱西宫廷时,我已下定决心要把我的方术中能为栽培我的国王效劳的东西全拿出来,供陛下支配和使用。”

“行了,我的好马蒂瓦尔——我请您注意下面这个具有重大意义的问题。”接着他便念他手里拿着的那张纸:“有人碰到一个重大的争端。双方可以诉诸法律,也可以诉诸武力。此人目前想通过和对手亲自会谈来寻求和平解决。他想知道选定哪天来办这件事最为吉利。此外,谈判成功的可能性如何?他的对手究竟会因为寄与他这种信赖而深受感动,对他报以感激和善意呢,还是反而会滥用这一会见给他带来的机会和好处呢?”

“这是一个重要的问题,”国王念完之后,马蒂瓦尔说道,“需要我摆一个星图,立刻认真思考一下。”

“就这样办吧。博学的好神父,您会知道,为法国国王效劳将能得到什么样的好处。要是星像不忌讳的话,我已决心这样做。我自己掌握的一小点方术也使我相信,当前星像是一种吉兆,有利于实现我的意图——不惜亲自冒点危险来阻止违反基督教义的战争。”

“愿圣徒们赞助陛下这种虔诚的意图,”那占星术士说道,“保护陛下神圣的御体!”

“谢谢,博学的神父——这点东西供您充实您珍贵的书库。”

他在一册书底下放了一小袋金币。即使在涉及迷信的方面路易也是很节省的。他认为他已经给了这位占星术士养老金,足以使他有义务为他效劳;即使在十分迫切的情况下,他也有权以较小的费用来使用他的专长。

借用一个法律用语吧,路易在给了他的门客这笔追加费之后,便转过身来对达威特说:“我的苏格兰小伙子,跟我来吧。命运已通过一位君主选定你去完成一项大胆的冒险事业。你得把一切都准备好。一听到圣马丁教堂的大钟敲十二响,你就得踏上马镫准备出发。早一分钟迟一分钟都会错过吉祥的星相,失去对你的冒险获得成功的祝福。”

说罢,国王便在年轻卫士的跟随下走了出去。他们刚一离开,那占星术士在国王面前摆出的一付兴高采烈的情绪便顿时消失,而让位于完全不同的感觉。

“真是个吝啬鬼!”他用手掂掂钱袋说道。由于他这人开销大得无边,他几乎随时都得花钱。“这卑鄙龌龊的小人!即使一个舵手的老婆想卜知她男人是否平安过了海峡,也会给得更多。他懂得什么学问!呸!除非出没无常的狐狸和嚎叫的野狼都成了音乐家!他配看懂天空中星光灿烂的纹章!呸!除非见不得太阳的瞎眼的鼹鼠都变成了目光锐利的山猫!在慷慨大方的马提亚斯的宫廷里,匈奴人、突厥人、基督徒和异教徒、莫斯科的沙皇和鞑靼人的可汗都争着送我大量礼物,而他却给我开了一大堆空头支票,把我诱骗出来——难道他以为我住在古老的城堡里,只不过像一只关在笼子里的红腹灰雀,为了感谢他给了我一点鸟食和饮水,每当他想吹吹口哨来开开心,我就得唱歌给他听?才不哩——ant inven Jam viam,ant facium——我得找到一个或设计出一个补救办法。巴卢红衣主教很懂谋略,且慷慨大方——这笔占卜费得叫他出。假如星相的预卜不是他所希望的那样,那就只能怪他主教大人自己了。”

他又把遭到他蔑视的酬金拿在手里掂掂分量。“也许,”他说道,“有点宝石或值钱的珍珠藏在这不值钱的袋子里吧——我曾听说,要是碰巧他情绪好或感到兴趣的时候,他也会慷慨得挥金如上。”

他把钱袋倒空,里面不多不少正好是十块金币。这位占星术士怒发冲冠。“他以为,给我这么一点微薄的佣金,我就会运用我观察星相的科学来为他服务?要知道,这门学问是我向那四十年没见过太阳的亚美尼亚人——伊斯特拉霍夫方丈学来的,是向那据说能招魂,并曾在底比斯沙漠的洞穴里拜访过埃本·哈利教长的希腊人杜布拉维阿斯学来的。老天爷在上,没有这么便宜!藐视方术的人就是得让他用自己的愚昧埋葬他自己。十块金币!——我都不大好意思拿给特娃内特买一对乳罩。”

话虽如此,那愤怒的贤哲还是把那遭到鄙视的金币塞进了他系在腰带上的大钱袋。特娃内特和唆使他挥金如土的别的一些女人总有办法让这钱袋顷刻间空空如也,而这位哲学家用尽他的方术来补充,也休想赶得上她们花钱的速度。



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