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Chapter 16 The Vagrant

I am as free as Nature first made man, Ere the base laws of servitude began When wild in woods the noble savage ran.

THE CONQUEST OF GRENADA

While Quentin held the brief communication with the ladies necessary to assure them that this extraordinary addition to their party was the guide whom they were to expect on the King's part, he noticed (for he was as alert in observing the motions of the stranger, as the Bohemian could be on his part) that the man not only turned his head as far back as he could to peer at them, but that, with a singular sort of agility, more resembling that of a monkey than of a man, he had screwed his whole person around on the saddle so as to sit almost sidelong upon the horse, for the convenience, as it seemed, of watching them more attentively.

Not greatly pleased with this manoeuvre, Quentin rode up to the Bohemian and said to him, as he suddenly assumed his proper position on the horse, "Methinks, friend, you will prove but a blind guide, if you look at the tail of your horse rather than his ears."

"And if I were actually blind," answered the Bohemian, "I could not the less guide you through any county in this realm of France, or in those adjoining to it."

"Yet you are no Frenchman," said the Scot.

"I am not," answered the guide.

"What countryman, then, are you," demanded Quentin.

"I am of no country," answered the guide.

"How! of no country?" repeated the Scot.

"No," answered the Bohemian, "of none. I am a Zingaro, a Bohemian, an Egyptian, or whatever the Europeans, in their different languages, may choose to call our people, but I have no country."

"Are you a Christian?" asked the Scotchman.

The Bohemian shook his head.

"Dog," said Quentin (for there was little toleration in the spirit of Catholicism in those days), "dost thou worship Mahoun?"

(Mahoun: Mohammed. It was a remarkable feature of the character of these wanderers that they did not, like the Jews whom they otherwise resembled in some particulars, possess or profess any particular religion, whether in form or principle. They readily conformed, as far as might be required, with the religion of any country in which they happened to sojourn, but they did not practise it more than was demanded of them. . . . S.)

"No," was the indifferent and concise answer of the guide, who neither seemed offended nor surprised at the young man's violence of manner.

"Are you a Pagan, then, or what are you?"

"I have no religion," answered the Bohemian.

Durward started back, for though he had heard of Saracens and Idolaters, it had never entered into his ideas or belief that any body of men could exist who practised no mode of worship whatever. He recovered from his astonishment to ask his guide where he usually dwelt.

"Wherever I chance to be for the time," replied the Bohemian. "I have no home."

"How do you guard your property?"

"Excepting the clothes which I wear, and the horse I ride on, I have no property."

"Yet you dress gaily, and ride gallantly," said Durward. "What are your means of subsistence?"

"I eat when I am hungry, drink when I am thirsty, and have no other means of subsistence than chance throws in my Way," replied the vagabond.

"Under whose laws do you live?"

"I acknowledge obedience to none, but an it suits my pleasure or my necessities," said the Bohemian.

"Who is your leader, and commands you?"

"The father of our tribe -- if I choose to obey him," said the guide, "otherwise I have no commander."

"You are, then," said the wondering querist, "destitute of all that other men are combined by -- you have no law, no leader, no settled means of subsistence, no house or home. You have, may Heaven compassionate you, no country -- and, may Heaven enlighten and forgive you, you have no God! What is it that remains to you, deprived of government, domestic happiness, and religion?"

"I have liberty," said the Bohemian "I crouch to no one, obey no one -- respect no one -- I go where I will -- live as I can -- and die when my day comes."

"But you are subject to instant execution, at the pleasure of the Judge?"

"Be it so," returned the Bohemian, "I can but die so much the sooner."

"And to imprisonment also," said the Scot, "and where, then, is your boasted freedom?"

"In my thoughts," said the Bohemian, "which no chains can bind, while yours, even when your limbs are free, remain fettered by your laws and your superstitions, your dreams of local attachment, and your fantastic visions of civil policy. Such as I are free in spirit when our limbs are chained. -- You are imprisoned in mind even when your limbs are most at freedom."

"Yet the freedom of your thoughts," said the Scot, "relieves not the pressure of the gyves on your limbs."

"For a brief time that may be endured," answered the vagrant, "and if within that period I cannot extricate myself, and fail of relief from my comrades, I can always die, and death is the most perfect freedom of all."

There was a deep pause of some duration, which Quentin at length broke by resuming his queries.

"Yours is a wandering race, unknown to the nations of Europe. -- Whence do they derive their origin?"

"I may not tell you," answered the Bohemian.

"When will they relieve this kingdom from their presence, and return to the land from whence they came?" said the Scot.

"When the day of their pilgrimage shall be accomplished," replied his vagrant guide.

"Are you not sprung from those tribes of Israel which were carried into captivity beyond the great river Euphrates?" said Quentin, who had not forgotten the lore which had been taught him at Aberbrothick.

"Had we been so," answered the Bohemian, "we had followed their faith and practised their rites."

"What is thine own name?" said Durward.

"My proper name is only known to my brethren. The men beyond our tents call me Hayraddin Maugrabin -- that is, Hayraddin the African Moor."

"Thou speakest too well for one who hath lived always in thy filthy horde," said the Scot.

"I have learned some of the knowledge of this land," said Hayraddin. "When I was a little boy, our tribe was chased by the hunters after human flesh. An arrow went through my mother's head, and she died. I was entangled in the blanket on her shoulders, and was taken by the pursuers. A priest begged me from the Provost's archers, and trained me up in Frankish learning for two or three years."

"How came you to part with him?" demanded Durward.

"I stole money from him -- even the God which he worshipped," answered Hayraddin, with perfect composure, "he detected me, and beat me -- I stabbed him with my knife, fled to the woods, and was again united to my people."

"Wretch!" said Durward, "did you murder your benefactor?"

"What had he to do to burden me with his benefits? -- The Zingaro boy was no house bred cur, to dog the heels of his master, and crouch beneath his blows, for scraps of food: -- He was the imprisoned wolf whelp, which at the first opportunity broke his chain, rended his master, and returned to his wilderness."

There was another pause, when the young Scot, with a view of still farther investigating the character and purpose of this suspicious guide, asked Hayraddin whether it was not true that his people, amid their ignorance, pretended to a knowledge of futurity which was not given to the sages, philosophers, and divines of more polished society.

"We pretend to it," said Hayraddin, "and it is with justice."

"How can it be that so high a gift is bestowed on so abject a race?" said Quentin.

"Can I tell you?" answered Hayraddin. -- "Yes, I may indeed, but it is when you shall explain to me why the dog can trace the footsteps of a man, while man, the nobler animal, hath not power to trace those of the dog. These powers, which seem to you so wonderful, are instinctive in our race. From the lines on the face and on the hand, we can tell the future fate of those who consult us, even as surely as you know from the blossom of the tree in spring what fruit it will bear in the harvest."

"I doubt of your knowledge, and defy you to the proof."

"Defy me not, Sir Squire," said Hayraddin Maugrabin. "I can tell you that, say what you will of your religion, the Goddess whom you worship rides in this company."

"Peace!" said Quentin, in astonishment, "on thy life, not a word farther, but in answer to what I ask thee. -- Canst thou be faithful?"

"I can -- all men can," said the Bohemian.

"But wilt thou be faithful?"

"Wouldst thou believe me the more should I swear it?" answered Maugrabin, with a sneer.

"Thy life is in my hand," said the young Scot.

"Strike, and see whether I fear to die," answered the Bohemian.

"Will money render thee a trusty guide?" demanded Durward.

"If I be not such without it, no," replied the heathen.

"Then what will bind thee?" asked the Scot.

"Kindness," replied the Bohemian.

"Shall I swear to show thee such, if thou art true guide to us on this pilgrimage?"

"No," replied Hayraddin, "it were extravagant waste of a commodity so rare. To thee I am bound already."

"How?" exclaimed Durward, more surprised than ever.

"Remember the chestnut trees on the banks of the Cher! The victim whose body thou didst cut down was my brother, Zamet the Maugrabin."

"And yet," said Quentin, "I find you in correspondence with those very officers by whom your brother was done to death, for it was one of them who directed me where to meet with you -- the same, doubtless, who procured yonder ladies your services as a guide."

"What can we do?" answered Hayraddin, gloomily. "These men deal with us as the sheepdogs do with the flock, they protect us for a while, drive us hither and thither at their pleasure, and always end by guiding us to the shambles."

Quentin had afterwards occasion to learn that the Bohemian spoke truth in this particular, and that the Provost guard, employed to suppress the vagabond bands by which the kingdom was infested, entertained correspondence among them, and forbore, for a certain time, the exercise of their duty, which always at last ended in conducting their allies to the gallows. This is a sort of political relation between thief and officer, for the profitable exercise of their mutual professions, which has subsisted in all countries, and is by no means unknown to our own.

Durward, parting from the guide, fell back to the rest of the retinue, very little satisfied with the character of Hayraddin, and entertaining little confidence in the professions of gratitude which he had personally made to him. He proceeded to sound the other two men who had been assigned him for attendants, and he was concerned to find them stupid and as unfit to assist him with counsel, as in the rencounter they had shown themselves reluctant to use their weapons.

"It is all the better," said Quentin to himself, his spirit rising with the apprehended difficulties of his situation, "that lovely young lady shall owe all to me. What one hand -- ay, and one head can do -- methinks I can boldly count upon. I have seen my father's house on fire, and he and my brothers lying dead amongst the flames -- I gave not an inch back, but fought it out to the last. Now I am two years older, and have the best and fairest cause to bear me well that ever kindled mettle within a brave man's bosom."

Acting upon this resolution, the attention and activity which Quentin bestowed during the journey had in it something that gave him the appearance of ubiquity. His principal and most favourite post was of course by the side of the ladies, who, sensible of his extreme attention to their safety, began to converse with him in almost the tone of familiar friendship, and appeared to take great pleasure in the naivete, yet shrewdness, of his conversation. Yet Quentin did not suffer the fascination of this intercourse to interfere with the vigilant discharge of his duty.

If he was often by the side of the Countesses, labouring to describe to the natives of a level country the Grampian mountains, and, above all, the beauties of Glen Houlakin, he was as often riding with Hayraddin in the front of the cavalcade, questioning him about the road and the resting places, and recording his answers in his mind, to ascertain whether upon cross examination he could discover anything like meditated treachery. As often again he was in the rear, endeavouring to secure the attachment of the two horsemen by kind words, gifts, and promises of additional recompense, when their task should be accomplished.

In this way they travelled for more than a week, through bypaths and unfrequented districts, and by circuitous routes, in order to avoid large towns. Nothing remarkable occurred, though they now and then met strolling gangs of Bohemians, who respected them, as under the conduct of one of their tribe -- straggling soldiers, or perhaps banditti, Who deemed their party too strong to be attacked -- or parties of the Marechaussee (mounted police), as they would now be termed, whom Louis, who searched the wounds of the land with steel and cautery, employed to suppress the disorderly bands which infested the interior. These last suffered them to pursue, their way unmolested by virtue of a password with which Quentin had been furnished for that purpose by the King himself.

Their resting places were chiefly the monasteries, most of which were obliged by the rules of their foundation to receive pilgrims, under which character the ladies travelled, with hospitality and without any troublesome inquiries into their rank and character, which most persons of distinction were desirous of concealing while in the discharge of their vows. The pretence of weariness was usually employed by the Countesses of Croye as an excuse for instantly retiring to rest, and Quentin, as their majordomo, arranged all that was necessary betwixt them and their entertainers, with a shrewdness which saved them all trouble, and an alacrity that failed not to excite a corresponding degree of good will on the part of those who were thus sedulously attended to.

One circumstance gave Quentin peculiar trouble, which was the character and nation of his guide, who, as a heathen and an infidel vagabond, addicted besides to occult arts (the badge of all his tribe), was often looked upon as a very improper guest for the holy resting places at which the company usually halted, and was not in consequence admitted within even the outer circuit of their walls, save with extreme reluctance. This was very embarrassing, for, on the one hand, it was necessary to keep in good humour a man who was possessed of the secret of their expedition, and, on the other, Quentin deemed it indispensable to maintain a vigilant though secret watch on Hayraddin's conduct, in order that, as far as might be, he should hold no communication with any one without being observed. This of course was impossible, if the Bohemian was lodged without the precincts of the convent at which they stopped, and Durward could not help thinking that Hayraddin was desirous of bringing about this latter arrangement for, instead of keeping himself still and quiet in the quarters allotted to him, his conversation, tricks, and songs were at the same time so entertaining to the novices and younger brethren, and so unedifying in the opinion of the seniors of the fraternity, that, in more cases than one, it required all the authority, supported by threats, which Quentin could exert over him, to restrain his irreverent and untimeous jocularity, and all the interest he could make with the Superiors, to prevent the heathen hound from being thrust out of the doors. He succeeded, however, by the adroit manner in which he apologized for the acts of indecorum committed by their attendant, and the skill with which he hinted the hope of his being brought to a better sense of principles and behaviour, by the neighbourhood of holy relics, consecrated buildings, and, above all, of men dedicated to religion.

But upon the tenth or twelfth day of their journey, after they had entered Flanders, and were approaching the town of Namur, all the efforts of Quentin became inadequate to suppress the consequences of the scandal given by his heathen guide. The scene was a Franciscan convent, and of a strict and reformed order, and the Prior a man who afterwards died in the odour of sanctity. After rather more than the usual scruples (which were indeed in such a case to be expected) had been surmounted, the obnoxious Bohemian at length obtained quarters in an out house inhabited by a lay brother, who acted as gardener. The ladies retired to their apartment, as usual, and the Prior, who chanced to have some distant alliances and friends in Scotland, and who was fond of hearing foreigners tell of their native countries, invited Quentin, with whose mien and conduct he seemed much pleased, to a slight monastic refection in his own cell. Finding the Father a man of intelligence, Quentin did not neglect the opportunity of making himself acquainted with the state of affairs in the country of Liege, of which, during the last two days of their journey, he had heard such reports as made him very apprehensive for the security of his charge during the remainder of their route, nay, even of the Bishop's power to protect them, when they should be safely conducted to his residence. The replies of the Prior were not very consolatory.

He said that the people of Liege were wealthy burghers, who, like Jeshurun (a designation for Israel) of old, had waxed fat and kicked -- that they were uplifted in heart because of their wealth and their privileges -- that they had divers disputes with the Duke of Burgundy, their liege lord, upon the subject of imports and immunities and that they had repeatedly broken out into open mutiny, whereat the Duke was so much incensed, as being a man of a hot and fiery nature, that he had sworn, by Saint George, on the next provocation, he would make the city of Liege like to the desolation of Babylon and the downfall of Tyre, a hissing and a reproach to the whole territory of Flanders.

(Babylon: taken by Cyrus in 538 B. C. See Revelation xviii, 21: "A mighty angel took up a stone . . . and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more.")

(Tyre: conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 B. C. "I will make thee a terror, and thou shalt be no more . . . yet shalt thou never be found again, saith the Lord God." Ezekiel xxvi, 21.)

"And he is a prince by all report likely to keep such a vow," said Quentin, "so the men of Liege will probably beware how they give him occasion."

"It were to be so hoped," said the Prior, "and such are the prayers of the godly in the land, who would not that the blood of the citizens were poured forth like water, and that they should perish, even as utter castaways, ere they make their peace with Heaven. Also the good Bishop labours night and day to preserve peace, as well becometh a servant of the altar, for it is written in Holy Scripture, Beati pacifici. But" -- Here the good Prior stopped, with a deep sigh.

Quentin modestly urged the great importance of which it was to the ladies whom he attended, to have some assured information respecting the internal state of the country, and what an act of Christian charity it would be, if the worthy and reverend Father would enlighten them upon that subject.

"It is one," said the Prior, "on which no man speaks with willingness, for those who speak evil of the powerful, etiam in cubiculo (even in the bed chamber), may find that a winged thing shall carry the matter to his ears. Nevertheless, to render you, who seem an ingenuous youth, and your ladies, who are devout votaresses accomplishing a holy pilgrimage, the little service that is in my power, I will be plain with you."

He then looked cautiously round and lowered his voice, as if afraid of being overheard.

"The people of Liege," he said, "are privily instigated to their frequent mutinies by men of Belial (in the Bible this term is used as an appellative of Satan), who pretend, but, as I hope, falsely, to have commission to that effect from our most Christian King, whom, however, I hold to deserve that term better than were consistent with his thus disturbing the peace of a neighbouring state. Yet so it is, that his name is freely used by those who uphold and inflame the discontents at Liege. There is, moreover, in the land, a nobleman of good descent, and fame in warlike affairs, but otherwise, so to speak, Lapis offensionis et petra scandali -- and a stumbling block of offence to the countries of Burgundy and Flanders. His name is William de la Marck."

"Called William with the Beard," said the young Scot, "or the Wild Boar of Ardennes?"

"And rightly so called, my son," said the Prior, "because he is as the wild boar of the forest, which treadeth down with his hoofs and rendeth with his tusks. And he hath formed to himself a band of more than a thousand men, all, like himself, contemners of civil and ecclesiastical authority, and holds himself independent of the Duke of Burgundy, and maintains himself and his followers by rapine and wrong, wrought without distinction upon churchmen and laymen. Imposuit manus in Christos Domini -- he hath stretched forth his hand upon the anointed of the Lord, regardless of what is written, 'Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no wrong.' -- Even to our poor house did he send for sums of gold and sums of silver, as a ransom for our lives, and those of our brethren, to which we returned a Latin supplication, stating our inability to answer his demand, and exhorting him in the words of the preacher, Ne moliaris amico tuo malum, cum habet in te fiduciam (devise not evil against thy neighbour who dwelleth by thee in security). Nevertheless, this Guilielmus Barbatus, this William de la Marck, as completely ignorant of humane letters as of humanity itself, replied, in his ridiculous jargon, Si non payatis, brulabo monasterium vestrum (if you do not pay, I will burn your monastery. A similar story is told of the Duke of Vendome, who answered in this sort of macaronic Latin the classical expostulations of a German convent against the imposition of a contribution. S.)."

"Of which rude Latin, however, you, my good father," said the youth, "were at no loss to conceive the meaning?"

"Alas! my son," said the Prior, "Fear and Necessity are shrewd interpreters, and we were obliged to melt down the silver vessels of our altar to satisfy the rapacity of this cruel chief. May Heaven requite it to him seven fold! Pereat improbus -- Amen, amen, anathema esto! (let the wicked perish. Let him be anathema! 'In pronouncing an anathema against a person, the church excludes him from her communion; and he must, if he continue obstinate, perish eternally.' Cent. Dict.)"

"I marvel," said Quentin, "that the Duke of Burgundy, who is so strong and powerful, doth not bait this boar to purpose, of whose ravages I have already heard so much."

"Alas! my son," said the Prior, "the Duke Charles is now at Peronne, assembling his captains of hundreds and his captains of thousands, to make war against France, and thus, while Heaven hath set discord between the hearts of those great princes, the country is misused by such subordinate oppressors. But it is in evil time that the Duke neglects the cure of these internal gangrenes, for this William de la Marck hath of late entertained open communication with Rouslaer and Pavillon, the chiefs of the discontented at Liege, and it is to be feared he will soon stir them up to some desperate enterprise."

"But the Bishop of Liege," said Quentin, "he hath still power enough to subdue this disquieted and turbulent spirit -- hath he not, good father? Your answer to this question concerns me much."

"The Bishop, my child," replied the Prior, "hath the sword of Saint Peter, as well as the keys. He hath power as a secular prince, and he hath the protection of the mighty House of Burgundy, he hath also spiritual authority as a prelate, and he supports both with a reasonable force -- of good soldiers and men at arms. This William de la Marck was bred in his household, and bound to him by many benefits. But he gave vent, even in the court of the Bishop, to his fierce and bloodthirsty temper, and was expelled thence for a homicide committed on one of the Bishop's chief domestics. From thenceforward, being banished from the good Prelate's presence, he hath been his constant and unrelenting foe, and now, I grieve to say, he hath girded his loins, and strengthened his horn against him."

"You consider, then, the situation of the worthy Prelate as being dangerous?" said Quentin, very, anxiously.

"Alas! my son," said the good Franciscan, "what or who is there in this weary wilderness, whom we may not hold as in danger? But Heaven forefend I should speak of the reverend Prelate as one whose peril is imminent. He has much treasure, true counsellors, and brave soldiers, and, moreover, a messenger who passed hither to the eastward yesterday saith that the Duke of Burgundy hath dispatched, upon the Bishop's request, an hundred men at arms to his assistance. This reinforcement, with the retinue belonging to each lance, are enough to deal with William de la Marck, on whose name be sorrow! -- Amen."

At this crisis their conversation was interrupted by the Sacristan, who, in a voice almost inarticulate with anger, accused the Bohemian of having practised the most abominable arts of delusion among the younger brethren. He had added to their nightly meal cups of a heady and intoxicating cordial, of ten times the strength of the most powerful wine, under which several of the fraternity had succumbed, and indeed, although the Sacristan had been strong to resist its influence, they might yet see, from his inflamed countenance and thick speech, that even he, the accuser himself, was in some degree affected by this unhallowed potation. Moreover, the Bohemian had sung songs of worldly vanity and impure pleasures, he had derided the cord of Saint Francis, made jest of his miracles, and termed his votaries fools and lazy knaves. Lastly, he had practised palmistry, and foretold to the young Father Cherubin that he was helped by a beautiful lady, who should make him father to a thriving boy.

The Father Prior listened to these complaints for some time in silence, as struck with mute horror by their enormous atrocity. When the Sacristan had concluded, he rose up, descended to the court of the convent, and ordered the lay brethren, on pain of the worst consequences of spiritual disobedience, to beat Hayraddin out of the sacred precincts with their broom staves and cart whips.

This sentence was executed accordingly, in the presence of Quentin Durward, who, however vexed at the occurrence, easily saw that his interference would be of no avail.

The discipline inflicted upon the delinquent, notwithstanding the exhortations of the Superior, was more ludicrous than formidable. The Bohemian ran hither and thither through the court, amongst the clamour of voices, and noise of blows, some of which reached him not because purposely misaimed, others, sincerely designed for his person, were eluded by his activity, and the few that fell upon his back and shoulders he took without either complaint or reply. The noise and riot was the greater, that the inexperienced cudgel players, among whom Hayraddin ran the gauntlet, hit each other more frequently than they did him, till at length, desirous of ending a scene which was more scandalous than edifying, the Prior commanded the wicket to be flung open, and the Bohemian, darting through it with the speed of lightning, fled forth into the moonlight. During this scene, a suspicion which Durward had formerly entertained, recurred with additional strength. Hayraddin had, that very morning, promised to him more modest and discreet behaviour than he was wont to exhibit, when they rested in a convent on their journey, yet he had broken his engagement, and had been even more offensively obstreperous than usual. Something probably lurked under this, for whatever were the Bohemian's deficiencies, he lacked neither sense, nor, when he pleased, self command, and might it not be probable that he wished to hold some communication, either with, his own horde or some one else, from which he was debarred in the course of the day by the vigilance with which he was watched by Quentin, and had recourse to this stratagem in order to get himself turned out of the convent?

No sooner did this suspicion dart once more through Quentin's mind, than, alert as he always was in his motions, he resolved to follow his cudgelled guide, and observe (secretly if possible) how he disposed of himself. Accordingly, when the Bohemian fled, as already mentioned, out at the gate of the convent, Quentin, hastily explaining to the Prior the necessity of keeping sight of his guide, followed in pursuit of him.

我像自然之神初创人类时那样自由,

那时,卑劣的奴役制度尚未露头,

高贵的野人在森林里飞奔,

该是多么的无拘无束。

《格林纳达的征服》

昆丁与两位仕女进行简短的谈话,使她们相信刚参加他们行列的这位不寻常的人物正是国王给他们派来的向导。与此同时,他注意到(正像那波希米亚人非常注意他的行动一样,他对这陌生人的行动也十分警觉),那人不但尽量回过头来看他们,而且以人所没有的猴子般的敏捷在马鞍上将整个身子扭了过来,几乎横着骑在马上,似乎是为了能方便自如地注意观察他们的动态。

昆丁对他这一手颇感不悦,便骑到这波希米亚人跟前,趁他突然坐正的时候对他说:“朋友,假如你盯着马尾巴而不是马耳朵,我想你会变成一个盲目的向导。”

“要是我真是个瞎子,”波希米亚人回答说,“我也照样能带领你们穿过法国这个地区及其邻近的地区。”

“你不是一个土生土长的法国人。”苏格兰人说。

“我不是。”向导回答道。

“那么你是哪国人呢?”昆丁问道。

“哪国也不是。”向导回答说。

“怎么!哪国也不是?”苏格兰人又追问道。

“是的,”波希米亚人回答说,“我是吉卜赛人、波希米亚人、埃及人,或者按欧洲人用他们不同的语言对我们的民族称呼的那样,一个别的什么人。不过我没有祖国。”

“你是个基督徒吗?”苏格兰人问道。

波希米亚人摇摇头。

“狗东西!”昆丁喊道(因为当时天主教很缺乏宽容精神),“你崇拜穆罕默德吗?”

“不。”向导冷漠而干脆地回答说。对这年轻人的粗暴态度他好像既不见怪也不惊奇。

“那么你是个异教徒?你究竟是个什么?”

“我不信宗教。”波希米亚人回答说。

达威特惊奇得倒退了一步,因为尽管他听说过撒拉森人和偶像崇拜者,但他从没想到过,也没相信过,竟有人不崇拜任何神灵而能生存下去。待他从惊奇中恢复平静之后,他问那向导,通常他住在什么地方。

“住在我碰巧停留的地方,”波希米亚人说,“我没有家。”

“那你如何保护你的财产?”

“除开穿的衣裳、骑的马儿以外别无财产。”

“但你穿得很漂亮,马也骑得很潇洒。”达威特说,“你是靠什么来维持生活呢?”

“我饿了就吃,渴了就喝,除了命运给我提供的生计以外别无谋生之道。’哪流浪汉回答说。

“你服从谁家的法律?”

“除开适合我口味或需要的以外,谁家的法律我也不服从。”波希米亚人说道。

“指挥你的头头是谁?”

“我们部族的酋长——假如我高兴服从他的话,”向导说,“否则我就没有头头可言。”

“这么说,把人们维系起来的一切对你都不存在,”那好奇的询问者又说,“你既不要法律,也不要领导;既无固定生计,也无家室可言。老天爷可怜你,你也没有祖国——愿老大爷开导你,饶恕你,你竟不要上帝!要是你一无政府领导,二无家庭幸福,三无宗教信仰,那你还剩有什么呢?”

“我有自由,”波希米亚人说,“我对谁也不卑躬屈膝;我谁也不服从,谁也不放在眼里——我喜欢到哪儿就到哪儿,能怎样谋生就怎样谋生,该死的时候就死。”

“但只要法官高兴,他不是可以马上处死你吗?”

“就让他处死我好了,”波希米亚人回答说,“我大不了早点进坟墓。”

“他也可以把你关进监狱,”苏格兰人又说,“那么,哪里谈得上你所吹嘘的自由呢?”

“我的自由是在我的思想里,”波希米亚人说,“而这是脚镣手铐拴不住的。尽管你的身体是自由的,但你的思想却受到你的法律、迷信、你所幻想的乡土感情、你所妄想的文明政治的束缚。像我这种人精神是自由的,而肉体被束缚,而你们是心灵被监禁,肉体很自由。”

“然而,你们的思想自由减轻不了脚镣手铐的沉重压力。”苏格兰人回答说。

“我们可以短时期忍受其桎梏。”那流浪汉回答说,“如果在短时期无法脱身,我的伙伴们也无法救我,我总可以一死了之,而死是一切当中最完美的自由。”

一时两人都无话可说,最后还是昆丁又开始提问才打破了沉默。

“你们的部族是所有欧洲国家都不了解的一个流浪民族——你们的祖先是谁?”

“我不能告诉你。”波希米亚人说。

“什么时候你们才能回到你们原来的国土,而使这个国家不必再留你们居住?”

“要等我们完成了我们的命运历程的那一天。”那充当向导的流浪汉说道。

“你们是不是起源于被俘虏到幼发拉底河彼岸去当奴隶的以色列人部落?”昆丁问道;这说明他还没有忘记人们在阿伯布罗迪克寺院教给他的历史知识。

“要真是这样的话,”波希米亚人回答道,“我们就会信仰他们的宗教,奉行他们的礼规了。”

“你的名字叫什么?”达威特问道。

“只有我的弟兄们才知道我的真名——住在我们帐篷以外的人管我叫海拉丁·毛格拉宾,是非洲摩尔人海拉丁的意思。”

“你话讲得很好,不像一个经常生活在你们那种龌龊部落里的野人。”

“我已了解有关这个国家的一些知识,”海拉丁说道,“我小的时候我们部落遭到捕人的猎手们的追击。我母亲头部中箭死于非命。我被裹在她肩上扛着的毯子里,被这些猎手们掳去。有位牧师把我从军法监督的射手队那儿要去抚养,教了我两三年的法国话。”

“你是怎么离开他的呢?”达威特问道。

“我偷了他的钱——甚至偷了他所崇拜的上帝的钱,”海拉丁满不在乎地说,“他发现了,打了我——我捅了他一刀,逃进了森林,又和我们自己人团聚在一起。”

“你这恶棍!”达威特说,“竟然杀害你的恩人!”

“他干吗要拿他的小思小惠来麻烦我呢?吉卜赛儿郎又不是家里养的狗,为了点残羹剩饭跟在主人屁股后面转,畏缩着怕挨他的揍。他是一条被锁住的狼崽子,一有机会就要挣脱锁链,撕死主人,重返荒野的。”

又是一阵沉默。接着那年轻的苏格兰人为了继续弄清这位可疑的向导的性格和意图,又开始对他提问:“你们的人既然愚昧无知,难道真自以为具有连文明社会的贤哲和圣人都没有的预卜未来的知识?”

“我们自认具有这种知识,”海拉丁说道,“而且有充分的理由。”

“这样高的一种天赋怎么会被授予如此卑下的种族呢?”

“我能够向你说清楚这个道理吗?”海拉丁对答道,“是的,我能够。不过你得给我解释为什么狗能跟踪人的足迹,而人这更高贵的动物却无法跟踪狗的足迹。这些能力在你们看来十分神奇,对我们的种族来说却是一种本能。凡是找我们看相的人,我们都能根据他们脸上和手上的纹路预卜他们的未来,正像你们能根据春天树上开的花知道秋天会结什么果一样准确无误。”

“我怀疑你们这种知识。我倒要看看你能不能证明给我看。”

“扈从先生,你别激我了,”海拉丁·毛格拉宾说,”我可以告诉你,不管你怎么谈论你的宗教,你崇拜的女神可正骑着马,走在这伙人当中。”

“住嘴!”昆丁惊奇地说道,“当心你的狗命。不许你再多说,只许你回答我的问话。你能做一个忠实可靠的人吗?”

“我能够——谁都能够。”波希米亚人说。

“不过,你愿做一个忠实可靠的人吗?”

“难道我一发誓,你就会更相信我不成?”毛格拉宾带着嘲弄的表情回答说。

“要晓得,你的命掌握在我手里。”年轻的苏格兰人说。

“那就请你要打就打,要杀就杀,看我怕不怕死吧!”那波希米亚人回答说。

“能用金钱使你成为可靠的向导吗?”达威特问道。

“如果我没钱时不可靠,那么给我钱也不能使我可靠。”那异教徒回答说。

“那么什么能约束你呢?”苏格兰人问道。

“只有仁义。”波希米亚人回答说。

“需不需要我发誓说,只要你充当我们这次旅行的忠实向导,我就向你表示我的仁义呢?”

“不需要,”海拉丁回答道,“这将是浪费一种极为稀有的商品。事实上我已经对你很感恩了。”

“怎么?!”达威特比往常更表惊奇地说道。

“记得谢尔河边的栗子树吧?是你割断绞索把受害者的尸体从树上放下来的。他是我兄弟扎迈特·毛格拉宾。”

“不过,”昆丁说道,“我看你和那些处死你兄弟的军官有来往,因为正是其中一名军官告诉我,该在什么地方和你碰头——肯定是他安排你给两位仕女作向导的。”

“我们有什么办法呢?”海拉丁阴郁地说道,“这些人对待我们正像牧羊狗对待羊群一个样。他们可以暂时给我们提供一些保护,随心所欲地赶着我们四处奔跑,但最后总是把我们赶进屠宰场。”

直到以后昆丁才有机会了解到,在这一点上这波希米亚人的确言之不虚。以镇压国内成群结队的流浪汉为职业的警官有意和他们保持来往,暂时放纵他们一下,但最后总是把他们的盟友推上断头台以完成其任务。这是警察与小偷之间为了更有利地从事各自的行业而建立的某种政治关系。所有国家都存在着这种关系。这对我们英国来说也并不陌生。

达威特离开了向导,来到其余的随从人员中间。他对海拉丁其人很不放心,对他亲自向他作的一番感恩的表白也不大相信。他想探听指派给他当随从的那两个人有何看法。但他不安地发现这两个人都傻乎乎的。先前他和别人交锋时他们不愿拔刀相助,此刻他们也无法替他当当参谋。

“这样也好,”昆丁寻思道,由于感到处境艰难不觉精神更为振奋,“那可爱的小姐这下就全靠我了。一只手——嗯,一个头脑所能干的——我是可以大胆信赖的。我曾亲眼看见我家被放火焚烧,父亲和兄弟们被活活烧死。但我并没有丝毫退缩,而是战斗到底。现在我已经大了两岁,担负着的是最能使勇士胸中燃起斗志的最美好的使命,可以促使自己作出卓越的表现。”

下定这个决心后,昆丁便通过他在旅途中所关注的一切和所做的一切使人随处都能感觉到他的存在。他最喜欢呆的地方自然主要是在两位仕女旁边。她们意识到他十分关心她们的安全,便逐渐用一种近乎亲切友好的声音和他谈话,对他纯朴而聪明的谈吐也显得很高兴。但昆丁并没有让这引人人胜的谈话来妨碍他警惕地执行任务。

他虽然经常走在两位仕女身旁,竭力想向这两位平原上长大的人描绘家乡的格兰姆平山,特别是格兰·呼拉金山的美丽,但他也经常和海拉丁走在马队前面,就路该怎么走、哪儿该歇脚问他一些问题,把他的回答记在心里,然后通过再次盘问,看能否查出有意说谎的地方。他还经常走在马队后面,尽量通过说些好话,给些礼物,以及在完成任务之后将给他们更多报酬的许诺,来赢得两位骑兵的好感。

他们像这样走了一个多星期。走的都是小路和人烟稀少的地区,而且绕着圈子,避兔穿过大城市。一路上没有发生什么特殊情况,只是有时碰见一伙伙流浪的波希米亚人。看到马队是由他们自己部族的人带路,这些波希米亚人对他们都很尊敬。再就是碰到一些散兵游勇,也许还有些强盗土匪,但他们也感觉对方人高马壮,不敢进行骚扰。最后他们还碰到一些现在称之为骑警队的队伍。这是路易王为了以钢刀和烙铁治疗国家的创伤,专门用来镇压内地流窜的土匪的。由于国王亲自教给了昆丁一道口令,这些队伍也都让他们顺利地往前赶路。

他们主要是在寺院歇脚,因为大多数寺院基于建院章程都有义务盛情接待朝圣的香客——而两位仕女正是以这种身份进行这次旅行的。寺院不得啰嗦地打听香客的地位和身份,因为在履行朝圣的誓言时大多数贵人都希望对此保密。两位克罗伊埃仕女经常以旅途疲惫为借口,立即进屋休息。昆丁作为她们的总管则负责在宾主之间作出一切必要的安排。其处事的精明给她们省了许多麻烦,而其办事的敏捷也不能不使受到他殷勤照料的两位仕女对他产生相应的好感。

有个情况给昆丁造成了特殊的困难。那就是向导的身份和国籍。由于他是一个异教徒,一个不信基督的流浪汉,同时还热衷于玄术(而这是他们整个部落的特征),所以他经常被视为不宜在他们歇脚的那些圣洁的寺院作客。只是在十分勉强的情况下才允许他进入寺院的外部庭院。这事很棘手,因为昆丁感到既有必要使掌有他们旅行秘密的这个浪人不闹情绪,又有必要对他的行动暗中进行严密监视,以便尽可能不让他和外人偷偷接触。如果让这波希米亚人在他们歇脚的寺院以外的地方住宿,要做到上述两点当然不行。达威特也不免猜想,海拉丁正是有心想造成上面所说的那种安排,因为他发现他并不是在分给他住的地方安分守己,而是又说又唱,又开玩笑,来逗乐那些新僧和年轻的师弟,以其鄙俗和不雅的表现来惹怒年老的僧人。昆丁不得不多次使用权威外加恫吓,来抑制他那不问场合的、亵渎神明的快活情绪;并运用他对院长的影响避免寺院将这异教徒赶出门去。他总算达到了这个目的。这是因为他对这个仆从的无礼表现作了很得体的道歉;同时他也巧妙地暗示说,寺院里的圣徒遗骨和圣殿,特别是献身于宗教的僧人们的直接影响,有希望对这个浪人灌输一点有关做人的原则和态度的应有的常识。

然而,当他们走了十天或十二天,进入了弗兰德,快到纳慕尔城的时候,昆丁虽然尽了最大的努力,也无法消除他那异教向导的恶劣表现所造成的后果。事情发生的地方是属于一个道规严格的宗教改革派的方济各寺院。寺院的院长以后也死得十分圣洁。为了接纳这个波希米亚人,寺院不得不比平常克服更多的顾虑(在这种情况下顾虑多也的确难免),最后才让这个可惜的家伙在一个充当园丁的俗人住的外屋获得一个住处。两位仕女像往常一样到她们的卧室去休息。寺院的院长碰巧有几个苏格兰的远亲和朋友,又喜欢听外国人介绍介绍他们的祖国,再加上他很喜欢昆丁的容貌和举止,便邀请他到自己的居室招待他吃顿寺院的茶点。昆丁觉得这位神父是个聪明人,便抓住机会向他了解一下列日城的情况,因为最近两天他听到有关该城的一些谣传,使他为两位仕女是否能安全地走完剩下的路程感到担忧。他甚至怀疑即使把她们安全地送到主教的住地,主教又是否真有能力保护她们。院长对他的回答并不使他感到欣慰。

他说:“列日人都是些富有的市民,就像古代的耶舒闰一样,如今养肥了,就爱踢人了。他们为他们的财富和特权感到洋洋得意。在有关纳税和免税的问题上,和他们的君主勃艮第公爵经常发生许多争执,并一再爆发为公开的反叛。对此公爵感到非常愤怒。由于他性格暴躁,他已凭着圣乔治发誓,要是再遇到任何挑衅事件,他就要像夷平巴比伦和泰尔那样,摧毁列日城,使它成为整个弗兰德的耻辱。”

“人们都说这位亲王是很可能实践他的誓言的,”昆丁说道,“列日市民也许会注意别给他一个把柄。”

“但愿如此。”院长说道,“全国所有笃信上帝的人都在祷告和平,因为他们不愿看到列日市民血流成河,在没有获得上苍的宽恕以前就像雏狗般死去。善良的主教也在尽他这上帝仆人的本分,为维护和平日夜操劳,因为圣经上写着,Beati pacifici,不过——”这时院长深深地叹了口气,没继续讲下去。

昆丁很客气地向他讲明,他所保护的两位仕女很有必要获得有关该地区目前状况的可靠情报,如果尊敬的神父能就这个问题给她们一些指点,这将是基督慈爱精神的高度表现。

“这是一个人们都不愿意谈论的问题,”院长说道,“因为说当权者坏话的人,etiam in cubiculo,往往也发现话会插翅传到他耳朵里。不过,为了给你这看来很纯真的年轻人以及那两位虔诚地朝圣的热诚仕女帮点力所能及的小忙,我将尽力而为。”

这时他谨慎地环顾四周,像是怕有人偷听似的压低嗓门讲了起来。

“列日市民,”他说道,“受到魔鬼的门徒们的唆使,经常反叛他们的君主。这些人自称是(但愿这是说谎)得到我们最讲基督之道的法国国王的授意。我倒认为法国国王配得上我刚才说的那个称号,不至于去破坏邻国的和平。然而事实是,那些支持和煽动心怀不满的列日市民的人们都肆意利用他的名誉。再说,法国还有一个出身名门的耀武扬威的贵族,这人在别的方面真可以说是Lapis offnsionis et petra scandali——一个专门给勃艮第和弗兰德制造麻烦的绊脚石。他名叫威廉·德拉马克。

“绰号是叫长胡子威廉,或‘阿登内斯野猪’吗?”年轻的苏格兰人问道。

“我的孩子,这绰号取得很好,”院长说道,“因为他就像林中的野猪那样,獠牙不停地乱撕,蹄子不停地乱踩。他纠集了一支一千多人的队伍。匪徒们都和他一样蔑视君权和神权。他不服勃艮第公爵的管辖,也不管是僧人还是俗人,反正见东西就抢,见人就伤,以此来维持他这帮人马。Imposuit manus in christos Domini——他甚至把手伸到了上帝圣洁的使徒身上,全然不顾圣经所写的话:‘不得触犯我圣洁的使徒,不得欺负我的先知。’他竟然派人到我们可怜的寺院索取大量金银,作为我和我的师兄弟性命的抵押。对此我们用拉丁文回了封请求信,说明我们无法满足他的要求,并用传教士的话规劝他:Ne moliairis amiico tuo malum,cum habet in te fiduciam,然而,这个大胡子的古利埃尔摩斯,这个威廉·德拉马克,既不懂人情,又不通晓文言古语,竟用他那可笑的黑话回答说:‘Si

non payatis,brulabo monasterium vestruw.’”

“我的好神父,您对这粗鄙的拉丁文总不至于不知所云吧?”年轻人说道。

“哎呀,我的孩子,”院长说道,“人一受逼、一害怕就什么都懂得了。我们不得不把圣坛上的银器熔化掉,来满足这残酷的匪首的贪欲。愿上帝给他七倍的报应和惩罚!Pereat improbus—Amen,amen,anathema esto!”

“我真奇怪,”昆丁说道,“勃艮第公爵势力如此强大,竟不能使这头野猪就范。说实在的,关于他造成的破坏和蹂躏我已经听得很多了。”

“哎呀,我的孩子,”院长说道,“查尔斯公爵此刻在佩隆召集他的将领们谋划和法国交战的事。只要上苍让伟大的君王们彼此不和,国家就会遭受这些小霸王的压迫。但公爵忽视了对国内这种痛疽的医治可也真不是时候。听说威廉·德拉马克最近已经和列日城的叛乱头目卢斯拉尔和巴维翁公开勾结。人们担心他很快就会鼓动他们铤而走险。”

“不过,列日主教总还有能力来抑制这种激昂的反叛情绪吧?”昆丁说道,“您说哩,好神父?您对这个问题的回答和我有切身关系。”

“我的孩子,”院长回答道,“主教既掌有打开心灵的钥匙,也掌有圣彼得的宝剑。他具有世俗君王的权力,也享有强大的勃艮第家族的保护。同时他也具有作为主教的神权,并拥有一支不大不小的、训练有素的军队来加强二者的威力。这个威廉·德拉马克是在主教家里扶养大的,主教对他有养育之恩。但即使在主教的教廷,他也放肆地发泄他那残暴嗜杀的本性,由于杀害了主教的一个仆役头而被逐出教廷。他遭到善良主教的驱逐,从此便对他怀恨在心,成了他势不两立的仇人。我很伤心地说,现在他已下定决心,加强实力来和他作对。”

“那么您认为,尊敬的主教处境很危险吗?”昆丁十分焦急地问道。

“哎呀,我的孩子,”这善良的方济各僧说道,“在这个荒野之地,还有什么东西、什么人谈得上没有危险呢?不过,上帝在上,我不能说这位可敬的主教已经危在旦夕。他有众多的金银财宝、忠实的谋士、勇敢的卫士。再说,昨天经过这儿往东去的一名使节还说勃艮第公爵应主教的请求已派遣一百名武士前去支援。这一支增援部队,再加上每个长矛手所带的扈从,足以对付威廉·德拉马克。愿他的名字遭到诅咒!——阿们。”

正在说得很起劲时,一个教堂执事走进来,打断了他们的谈话。他气急败坏地控诉那波希米亚人在年轻的师弟当中施展他那可恨的麻醉术。他在晚餐时给他们灌了许多杯比最厉害的烈酒劲头还大十倍的蒙汗洒,使得好几个师兄弟醉得不省人事。尽管这个教堂司事神经坚强,总算抵制住了酒的作用力,但就凭他那通红的面孔和含糊不清的口舌他们也可以看出,甚至这位控诉人本身在某种程度上也还是受到了这不吉利的烈酒的影响。更有甚者,那波希米亚人还唱了些庸俗淫秽的小曲,嘲讽圣方济各的圣节,讥笑他的圣迹,把他的信徒说成是傻瓜和懒鬼。最后他还为他们看手相,对年轻的切鲁宾神父说,有个美丽的仕女爱上了他,将给他生个健壮的娃娃。

院长费了些时间默默地倾听这些控诉,像是被这弥天大罪惊得哑口无言,精神恍惚。当教堂司事讲完之后,他站了起来,走进寺庙的庭院,命令凡俗师兄弟用扫帚柄和赶马鞭,把海拉丁逐出这神圣的寺院,否则要承担违抗神权的严重后果。

人们当着昆丁·达威特的面执行了这个判决。昆丁对此尽管十分气恼,但也不难看出他的干预根本无济于事。

尽管院长一再告诫,对犯人的这一惩罚还是被搞得滑稽可笑,而毫无可怕的感觉。那波希米亚人在打声和喊打声的喧闹中满院子跑来跑去。打的人,有的故意打不中,扑了个空,有的认真对准他打,却被他灵巧地躲开。只有少数几个打中了他的肩和背,他却若无其事地挨下来,不抱怨,也不还击。由于排成行列玩弄棍棒以惩罚海拉丁的僧人们毫无打人的经验,打着对面的人的机会要比打着这浪人的机会还多,闹声笑声就变得更加厉害。最后,院长急于想结束这个有伤大雅、不成体统的场面,便命令打开小门,让那波希米亚人以闪电般的速度从小门冲出去,逃到月光底下。

这场闹剧更加重了达威特早就产生了的一个疑窦。今天早晨海拉丁还保证在寺院歇脚时要打破他的习惯,更注意行为的检点。但他破坏了他的诺言,甚至变得比往常更狂妄、更嚣张。也许这底下潜藏着某种东西,因为他知道,不管这个波希米亚人有何缺点,至少他不缺乏理智,而且,只要他愿意,他也不会缺乏控制自己的能力。这会不会是他想和他们部落的人或别的什么人碰头,而由于昆丁看得太紧,白天没这个可能,因此他想出这个计策,好叫别人把他赶出寺院呢?

昆丁脑子里一旦出现了这个怀疑,像他这样一个行动机警的人自然马上决定要对这挨了打的向导进行跟踪,以便(尽可能秘密地)观察他究竟去干什么。因此,一当那波希米亚人像前面讲到的,逃出寺院大门之后,昆丁便立刻向院长说明他有必要看住他的向导,随即跟在他后面跑了出去。



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