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Chapter 17 The Espied Spy

What, the rude ranger? and spied spy? -- hands off -- You are for no such rustics.

BEN JONSON'S TALE OF ROBIN HOOD

When Quentin sallied from the convent, he could mark the precipitate retreat of the Bohemian, whose dark figure was seen in the far moonlight flying with the speed of a flogged hound quite through the street of the little village, and across the level meadow that lay beyond.

"My friend runs fast," said Quentin to himself, "but he must run faster yet, to escape the fleetest foot that ever pressed the heather of Glen Houlakin!"

Being fortunately without his cloak and armour, the Scottish mountaineer was at liberty to put forth a speed which was unrivalled in his own glens, and which, notwithstanding the rate at which the Bohemian ran, was likely soon to bring his pursuer up with him. This was not, however, Quentin's object, for he considered it more essential to watch Hayraddin's motions, than to interrupt them. He was the rather led to this by the steadiness with which the Bohemian directed his course, and which, continuing even after the impulse of the violent expulsion had subsided, seemed to indicate that his career had some more certain goal for its object than could have suggested itself to a person unexpectedly turned out of good quarters when midnight was approaching, to seek a new place of repose. He never even looked behind him, and consequently Durward was enabled to follow him unobserved. At length, the Bohemian having traversed the meadow and attained the side of a little stream, the banks of which were clothed with alders and willows, Quentin observed that he stood still, and blew a low note on his horn, which was answered by a whistle at some little distance.

"This is a rendezvous," thought Quentin, "but how shall I come near enough to overhear the import of what passes? The sound of my steps, and the rustling of the boughs through which I must force my passage, will betray me, unless I am cautious -- I will stalk them, by Saint Andrew, as if they were Glen Isla deer -- they shall learn that I have not conned woodcraft for naught. Yonder they meet, the two shadows -- and two of them there are -- odds against me if I am discovered, and if their purpose be unfriendly, as is much to be doubted. And then the Countess Isabelle loses her poor friend -- Well, and he were not worthy to be called such, if he were not ready to meet a dozen in her behalf. Have I not crossed swords with Dunois, the best knight in France, and shall I fear a tribe of yonder vagabonds? Pshaw! -- God and Saint Andrew to friend, they will find me both stout and wary."

Thus resolving, and with a degree of caution taught him by his silvan habits, our friend descended into the channel of the little stream, which varied in depth, sometimes scarce covering his shoes, sometimes coming up to his knees, and so crept along, his form concealed by the boughs overhanging the bank, and his steps unheard amid the ripple of the water. (We have ourselves, in the days of yore, thus approached the nest of the wakeful raven.) In this manner the Scot drew near unperceived, until he distinctly heard the voices of those who were the subject of his observation, though he could not distinguish the words. Being at this time under the drooping branches of a magnificent weeping willow, which almost swept the surface of the water, he caught hold of one of its boughs, by the assistance of which, exerting at once much agility, dexterity, and strength, he raised himself up into the body of the tree, and sat, secure from discovery, among the central branches.

From this situation he could discover that the person with whom Hayraddin was now conversing was one of his own tribe, and at the same time he perceived, to his great disappointment, that no approximation could enable him to comprehend their language, which was totally unknown to him. They laughed much, and as Hayraddin made a sign of skipping about, and ended by rubbing his shoulder with his hand, Durward had no doubt that he was relating the story of the bastinading which he had sustained previous to his escape from the convent.

On a sudden, a whistle was again heard in the distance, which was once more answered by a low tone or two of Hayraddin's horn. Presently afterwards, a tall, stout, soldierly looking man, a strong contrast in point of thews and sinews to the small and slender limbed Bohemians, made his appearance. He had a broad baldric over his shoulder, which sustained a sword that hung almost across his person, his hose were much slashed, through which slashes was drawn silk, or tiffany, of various colours, they were tied by at least five hundred points or strings, made of ribbon, to the tight buff jacket which he wore, the right sleeve of which displayed a silver boar's head, the crest of his Captain. A very small hat sat jauntily on one side of his head, from which descended a quantity of curled hair, which fell on each side of a broad face, and mingled with as broad a beard, about four inches long. He held a long lance in his hand, and his whole equipment was that of one of the German adventurers, who were known by the name of lanzknechts, in English, spearmen, who constituted a formidable part of the infantry of the period. These mercenaries were, of course, a fierce and rapacious soldiery, and having an idle tale current among themselves, that a lanzknecht was refused admittance into heaven on account of his vices, and into hell on the score of his tumultuous, mutinous, and insubordinate disposition, they manfully acted as if they neither sought the one nor eschewed the other.

"Donner and blitz! (thunder and lightning!)" was his first salutation, in a sort of German French, which we can only imperfectly imitate, "Why have you kept me dancing in attendance dis dree nights?"

"I could not see you sooner, Meinherr," said Hayraddin, very submissively, "there is a young Scot, with as quick an eye as the wildcat, who watches my least motions. He suspects me already, and, should he find his suspicion confirmed, I were a dead man on the spot, and he would carry back the women into France again."

"Was henker! (what the deuce!)" said the lanzknecht, "we are three -- we will attack them tomorrow, and carry the women off without going farther. You said the two valets were cowards -- you and your comrade may manage them, and the Teufel (the devil) shall hold me, but I match your Scots wildcat."

"You will find that foolhardy," said Hayraddin, "for besides that we ourselves count not much in fighting, this spark hath matched himself with the best knight in France, and come off with honour -- I have seen those who saw him press Dunois hard enough."

"Hagel and sturmwetter! (hail and stormy weather!) It is but your cowardice that speaks," said the German soldier.

"I am no more a coward than yourself," said Hayraddin "but my trade is not fighting. -- If you keep the appointment where it was laid, it is well -- if not, I guide them safely to the Bishop's Palace, and William de la Marck may easily possess himself of them there, provided he is half as strong as he pretended a week since."

"Poz tausend! (Zounds!)" said the soldier, "we are as strong and stronger, but we hear of a hundreds of the lances of Burgund, -- das ist, see you, -- five men to a lance do make five hundreds, and then hold me the devil, they will be fainer to seek for us, than we to seek for them, for der Bischoff hath a goot force on footing -- ay, indeed!"

"You must then hold to the ambuscade at the Cross of the Three Kings, or give up the adventure," said the Bohemian.

"Geb up -- geb up the adventure of the rich bride for our noble hauptman (leader or captain) -- Teufel! I will charge through hell first. -- Mein soul, we will be all princes and hertzogs, whom they call dukes, and we will hab a snab at the wein kellar (wine cellar), and at the mouldy French crowns, and it may be at the pretty garces too (meaning the countesses), when He with de beard is weary on them."

"The ambuscade at the Cross of the Three Kings then still holds? " said the Bohemian.

"Mein Gob ay, -- you will swear to bring them there, and when they are on their knees before the cross, and down from off their horses, which all men do, except such black heathens as thou, we will make in on them and they are ours."

"Ay, but I promised this piece of necessary villainy only on one condition," said Hayraddin. -- "I will not have a hair of the young man's head touched. If you swear this to me, by your Three Dead Men of Cologne, I will swear to you, by the Seven Night Walkers, that I will serve you truly as to the rest. And if you break your oath, the Night Walkers shall wake you seven nights from your sleep, between night and morning, and, on the eighth, they shall strangle and devour you."

"But donner and bagel, what need you be so curious about the life of this boy, who is neither your bloot nor kin?" said the German.

"No matter for that, honest Heinrick, some men have pleasure in cutting throats, some in keeping them whole. -- So swear to me, that you will spare him life and limb, or by the bright star Aldebaran, this matter shall go no farther. -- Swear, and by the Three Kings, as you call them, of Cologne -- I know you care for no other oath."

"Du bist ein comische man (thou art a droll fellow)," said the lanzknecht, "I swear."

"Not yet," said the Bohemian. "Face about, brave lanzknecht, and look to the east, else the Kings may not hear you."

The soldier took the oath in the manner prescribed, and then declared that he would be in readiness, observing the place was quite convenient, being scarce five miles from their present leaguer.

"But were it not making sure work to have a fahnlein (a regiment or company) of riders on the other road, by the left side of the inn, which might trap them if they go that way?"

The Bohemian considered a moment, and then answered. "No -- the appearance of their troops in that direction might alarm the garrison of Namur, and then they would have a doubtful fight, instead of assured success. Besides, they shall travel on the right bank of the Maes, for I can guide them which way I will, for sharp as this same Scottish mountaineer is, he hath never asked any one's advice, save mine, upon the direction of their route. Undoubtedly, I was assigned to him by an assured friend, whose word no man mistrusts till they come to know him a little."

"Hark ye, friend Hayraddin," said the soldier, "I would ask you somewhat. You and your bruder were, as you say yourself, gross sternen deuter, that is, star lookers and geister seers (seers of ghosts). Now, what henker was it made you not foresee him, your bruder Zamet, to be hanged?"

"I will tell you, Heinrick," said Hayraddin, "if I could have known my brother was such a fool as to tell the counsel of King Louis to Duke Charles of Burgundy, I could have foretold his death as sure as I can foretell fair weather in July. Louis hath both ears and hands at the Court of Burgundy, and Charles's counsellors love the chink of French gold as well as thou dost the clatter of a wine pot. -- But fare thee well, and keep appointment -- I must await my early Scot a bow shot without the gate of the den of the lazy swine yonder, else will he think me about some excursion which bodes no good to the success of his journey."

"Take a draught of comfort first," said the lanzknecht, tendering him a flask -- "but I forget, thou art beast enough to drink nothing but water, like a vile vassal of Mahound and Termagund (the name of the god of the Saracens in medieaval romances where he is linked with Mahound)."

"Thou art thyself a vassal of the wine measure and the flagon," said the Bohemian. "I marvel not that thou art only trusted with the bloodthirsty and violent part of executing what better heads have devised. -- He must drink no wine who would know the thoughts of others, or hide his own. But why preach to thee, who hast a thirst as eternal as a sand bank in Arabia?

"Fare thee well. Take my comrade Tuisco with thee -- his appearance about the monastery may breed suspicion."

The two worthies parted, after each had again pledged himself to keep the rendezvous at the Cross of the Three Kings. Quentin Durward watched until they were out of sight, and then descended from his place of concealment, his heart throbbing at the narrow escape which he and his fair charge had made -- if, indeed, it could yet be achieved -- from a deep laid plan of villainy. Afraid, on his return to the monastery, of stumbling upon Hayraddin, he made a long detour, at the expense of traversing some very rough ground, and was thus enabled to return to his asylum on a different point from that by which he left it.

On the route, he communed earnestly with himself concerning the safest plan to be pursued. He had formed the resolution, when he first heard Hayraddin avow his treachery, to put him to death so soon as the conference broke up, and his companions were at a sufficient distance, but when he heard the Bohemian express so much interest in saving his own life, he felt it would be ungrateful to execute upon him, in its rigour, the punishment his treachery had deserved. He therefore resolved to spare his life, and even, if possible, still to use his services as a guide, under such precautions as should ensure the security of the precious charge, to the preservation of which his own life was internally devoted.

But whither were they to turn? -- The Countesses of Croye could neither obtain shelter in Burgundy, from which they had fled, nor in France, from which they had been in a manner expelled. The violence of Duke Charles, in the one country, was scarcely more to be feared than the cold and tyrannical policy of King Louis in the other. After deep thought, Durward could form no better or safer plan for their security, than that, evading the ambuscade, they should take the road to Liege by the left hand of the Maes, and throw themselves, as the ladies originally designed, upon the protection of the excellent Bishop. That Prelate's will to protect them could not be doubted, and, if reinforced by this Burgundian party of men at arms, he might be considered as having the power. At any rate, if the dangers to which he was exposed from the hostility of William de la Marck, and from the troubles in the city of Liege, appeared imminent, he would still be able to protect the unfortunate ladies until they could be dispatched to Germany with a suitable escort.

To sum up this reasoning -- for when is a mental argument conducted without some reference to selfish consideration? -- Quentin imagined that the death or captivity to which King Louis had, in cold blood, consigned him, set him at liberty from his engagements to the crown of France: which, therefore, it was his determined purpose to renounce, The Bishop of Liege was likely, he concluded, to need soldiers, and he thought that, by the interposition of his fair friends, who now, especially the elder Countess, treated him with much familiarity, he might get some command, and perhaps might have the charge of conducting the Ladies of Croye to some place more safe than the neighbourhood of Liege. And, to conclude, the ladies had talked, although almost in a sort of jest, of raising the Countess's own vassals, and, as others did in those stormy times, fortifying her strong castle against all assailants whatever, they had jestingly asked Quentin whether he would accept the perilous office of their Seneschal, and, on his embracing the office with ready glee and devotion, they had, in the same spirit, permitted him to kiss both their hands on that confidential and honourable appointment. Nay, he thought that the hand of the Countess Isabelle, one of the best formed and most beautiful to which true vassal ever did such homage, trembled when his lips rested on it a moment longer than ceremony required, and that some confusion appeared on her cheek and in her eye as she withdrew it. Something might come of all this, and what brave man, at Quentin Durward's age, but would gladly have taken the thoughts which it awakened, into the considerations which were to determine his conduct?

This point settled, he had next to consider in what degree he was to use the farther guidance of the faithless Bohemian. He had renounced his first thought of killing him in the wood, and, if he took another guide, and dismissed him alive, it would be sending the traitor to the camp of William de la Marck, with intelligence of their motions. He thought of taking the Prior into his counsels, and requesting him to detain the Bohemian by force, until they should have time to reach the Bishop's castle, but, on reflection, he dared not hazard such a proposition to one who was timid both as an old man and a friar, who held the safety of his convent the most important object of his duty, and who trembled at the mention of the Wild Boar of Ardennes.

At length Durward settled a plan of operation on which he could the better reckon, as the execution rested entirely upon himself, and, in the cause in which he was engaged, he felt himself capable of everything. With a firm and bold heart, though conscious of the dangers of his situation, Quentin might be compared to one walking under a load, of the weight of which he is conscious, but which yet is not beyond his strength and power of endurance. Just as his plan was determined, he reached the convent.

Upon knocking gently at the gate, a brother, considerately stationed for that purpose by the Prior, opened it, and acquainted him that the brethren were to be engaged in the choir till daybreak, praying Heaven to forgive to the community the various scandals which had that evening taken place among them.

The worthy friar offered Quentin permission to attend their devotions, but his clothes were in such a wet condition that the young Scot was obliged to decline the opportunity, and request permission, instead, to sit by the kitchen fire, in order to his attire being dried before morning, as he was particularly desirous that the Bohemian, when they should next meet, should observe no traces of his having been abroad during the night. The friar not only granted his request, but afforded him his own company, which fell in very happily with the desire which Durward had to obtain information concerning the two routes which he had heard mentioned by the Bohemian in his conversation with the lanzknecht. The friar, entrusted upon many occasions with the business of the convent abroad, was the person in the fraternity best qualified to afford him the information he requested, but observed that, as true pilgrims, it became the duty of the ladies whom Quentin escorted, to take the road on the right side of the Maes, by the Cross of the Kings, where the blessed relics of Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar (as the Catholic Church has named the eastern Magi who came to Bethlehem with their offerings) had rested as they were transported to Cologne, and on which spot they had wrought many miracles.

Quentin replied that the ladies were determined to observe all the holy stations with the utmost punctuality, and would certainly visit that of the Cross, either in going to or from Cologne, but they had heard reports that the road by the right side of the river was at present rendered unsafe by the soldiers of the ferocious William de la Marck.

"Now may Heaven forbid," said Father Francis, "that the Wild Boar of Ardennes should again make his lair so near us! -- Nevertheless, the broad Maes will be a good barrier betwixt us, even should it so chance."

"But it will be no barrier between my ladies and the marauder, should we cross the river, and travel on the right," answered the Scot.

"Heaven will protect its own, young man," said the friar, "for it were hard to think that the Kings of yonder blessed city of Cologne, who will not endure that a Jew or infidel should even enter within the walls of their town, could be oblivious enough to permit their worshippers, coming to their shrine as true pilgrims, to be plundered and misused by such a miscreant dog as this Boar of Ardennes, who is worse than a whole desert of Saracen heathens, and all the ten tribes of Israel to boot."

Whatever reliance Quentin, as a sincere Catholic, was bound to rest upon the special protection of Melchior, Caspar, and Balthasar, he could not but recollect that the pilgrim habits of the ladies being assumed out of mere earthly policy, he and his charge could scarcely expect their countenance on the present occasion, and therefore resolved, as far as possible, to avoid placing the ladies in any predicament where miraculous interposition might be necessary, whilst, in the simplicity of his good faith, he himself vowed a pilgrimage to the Three Kings of Cologne in his own proper person, provided the simulate design of those over whose safety he was now watching, should be permitted by those reasonable and royal, as well as sainted personages, to attain the desired effect.

That he might enter into this obligation with all solemnity, he requested the friar to show him into one of the various chapels which opened from the main body of the church of the convent, where, upon his knees, and with sincere devotion, he ratified the vow which he had made internally. The distant sound of the choir, the solemnity of the deep and dead hour which he had chosen for this act of devotion, the effect of the glimmering lamp with which the little Gothic building was illuminated -- all contributed to throw Quentin's mind into the state when it most readily acknowledges its human frailty, and seeks that supernatural aid and protection which, in every worship, must be connected with repentance for past sins and resolutions of future amendment. That the object of his devotion was misplaced, was not the fault of Quentin, and, its purpose being sincere, we can scarce suppose it unacceptable to the only true Deity, who regards the motives, and not the forms of prayer, and in whose eyes the sincere devotion of a heathen is more estimable than the specious hypocrisy of a Pharisee.

Having commended himself and his helpless companions to the Saints, and to the keeping of Providence, Quentin at length retired to rest, leaving the friar much edified by the depth and sincerity of his devotion.

你是说那粗鲁的护林兵?那被识破了的奸细?

你可别去碰他,

你斗不过这样一些乡下佬。

本·约翰《罗宾汉的故事》

昆丁冲出寺院时,发现那波希米亚人正在飞快地向远处跑去,还可以在月色底下老远看见他那黑色的人影以挨了抽打的野狗般的奔跑速度迅猛地穿过村庄的街道,又越过更远处的一片平坦的草地。

“我这伙计跑得很快,”昆丁寻思道,“不过他还得跑得更快些,才能躲过在格兰一呼拉金的石南地上奔跑过的最快的飞毛腿。”

这位苏格兰山地人幸好没披斗篷,没戴铠甲,所以他能以在家乡的山谷里堪称冠军的速度向前奔去。尽管那波希米亚人也跑得很快,但昆丁仍能很快赶上他。然而,赶上他并不是他的目的。他认为更重要的是监视海拉丁的行动,而不是阻止他的行动。看到那波希米亚人正按他预定的路线坚持不停地跑下去,他就感到更有这个必要,因为在被强行驱逐出寺院的激动消失以后,他还继续向前跑,似乎说明他这种快跑别有目的,而不像是半夜时分被别人从一个好的住处突然赶出来,只得另觅住处的样子。他甚至不回头望望。正因为如此,达威特才有可能悄悄跟在他后面不被觉察。最后,那波希米亚人越过草地,来到一条两旁栽有梢木树和柳树的小溪边。昆丁看见他停了下来,轻轻吹了一声号角,接着便听见不远处有人吹口哨向他回应。

“这是约好的,”昆丁想到,“我要不要走近些,听听他们讲些什么呢?我得小心,否则脚步声和穿过树枝时的瑟瑟声就会暴露我自己。圣安德鲁在上,我得把他们当作格兰一依斯拉的糜鹿那样来靠近他们——要让他们知道,我并没有白白掌握森林知识。那是两个人影碰在一起。这么说,他们有两个人——要是我被发现,而他们很可能意图不良的话,那我就倒霉了,伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐就将失去她可怜的朋友了!得,要是我不能为了她而准备好对付一打子敌人,那我也配不上称作她的朋友。我不是已经和法国最优秀的骑士杜诺瓦交过锋了吗?难道我还怕一两个流浪汉不成?呸!上帝和圣安德鲁助我的话,他们会发现我这个人既勇敢又机警。”

下定决心之后,我们的朋友便带着惯于在森林中生活而获得的某种警觉踏进小溪。小溪水深不一,有时刚没过脚背,有时深及双膝。他偷偷地向前走去,身子藏在岸边的垂柳中,脚步声则被那潺潺的水声掩盖住。(过去我们自己也以这种方式接近醒着的老鸦,去掏它的窝。)年轻的苏格兰人就这样悄悄向他们走去,直到他清晰地听见他要监视的对象的说话声。但他还听不清他们所讲的话。他正好是站在一株大的柳树几乎拂着水面的树枝底下。于是他抓住一根粗枝,运用他的敏捷、灵巧和气力,借助树枝一下子爬上了大树,坐在树枝中央,毫无被发现之虞。

从他坐着的这个位置,他发现和海拉丁谈话的是他自己部落的人。但他也失望地发现,他简直没法听懂使他一窍不通的语言。他们一阵阵地大笑。当海拉丁做了一个跳跳蹦蹦的姿势,最后又用手揉揉肩头时,达威特猜想,他准是在讲述他逃出寺院前挨打的故事。

这时,远处又忽然传来一声口哨。海拉丁仍用号角轻轻地回应了他一两声。不久就看见一个身材魁梧强壮,样子颇像武士的人走了过来。他那发达的肌键和波希米亚人细小的四肢形成了强烈的对比。他肩上斜披着一条宽大的缎带,上面挂着一把剑,几乎横在他身子前面。他的裤子饰有许多长缝。长缝底下是各色的丝绸或丝纱罗。裤子至少是用五百条缎带做的系绳与他穿的黄牛皮紧身衣系在一起。右袖上画有他们首领的徽记——一头银色的野猪。头上则神气地歪戴着一顶小帽。帽子罩着的一束束鬈发在他那宽大的面孔两侧与约有四英寸长的宽大胡须混为一体。他手上握着一根长矛。根据他的全副装备可以看出,他是一名英文称之为长矛手、德文称之为“lanzknecht”的德国冒险家。这些雇佣军构成了当时一支可畏的步兵力量;不用说,都是一些残暴贪婪的兵痞。他们当中流行着一种无聊的说法:德国长矛手因为罪恶大不能升天堂,也因其桀骛不驯的反叛性格无法进地狱。所以他们一点不怕死,仿佛他们既不向往天堂,也不在乎地狱。

“雷鸣电闪!”这是他用勉强模仿的某种夹杂法语的德语说出的第一句打招呼的话。

接着他说:“你为什么害我苦等了三个晚上呢?”

“我的先生,我没法提前和您见面,”海拉丁谦恭地说,“有个年轻的苏格兰人,眼睛敏锐得像只野猫,对我的任何行动都严密监视。他已经在怀疑我了。要是他证实了他的怀疑,他就会当场杀死我,并把那两个女人送回法国。”

“那还行!”那长矛手说道,“瞧,我们有三个人。明天我们就攻打他们,把两个女人带走。你说那两个随从都是胆小鬼。那么你和你的同伴该可以对付他们两个,我就不怕魔鬼找上我,偏要对付你那个苏格兰的野猫。”

“你将发现这是蛮干,”海拉丁说道,“你要知道,讲打仗我们三个是算不了什么的。这家伙曾经和法国最优秀的骑士交过锋,而且打得很出色。我就晓得有人亲眼看见他打得杜诺瓦难以招架。”

“冰雹和雷雨!你是个胆小鬼,才会讲这种话。”那德国兵说道。

“我并不比你更胆小,”海拉丁说道,”不过,打仗并不是我的本行。如果你在原地按约定的计划办,那也很好。如果不行,我就把她们平安地带到主教的教廷。要是威廉·德拉马克真像他一个星期前夸耀的那么强大,他就可以轻而易举地把她们抢走。”

“那还用说,”德国长矛手说道,“我们不但和过去一样强大,而且还变得更为强大。不过我们听说勃艮第派去一百名长矛手,你瞧,一名长矛手配四名扈从,那就等于五百人。我敢担保他们更愿意找我们的麻烦,而不是我们更愿意找他们的麻烦。事实上,那主教已经有一支正规编制的军队——我说的一点不假!”

“这么说,你们必须在‘三王十字’打伏击,否则就得放弃这个冒险计划。”波希米亚人说道。

“放弃——放弃能给我们高贵的首领找个有钱的新娘的计划?见鬼哟!我宁可去地狱打冲锋,也决不放弃这个计划。老天爷!将来我们都会成为亲王和人们称之为公爵的贵族,我们将在发霉的法国王宫喝酒,或等那长胡子首领对她们厌倦以后去和美丽的姑娘喝酒。”

“那么‘三王十字’的伏击计划仍然有效吗?”波希米亚人问道。

“我的上帝,当然还有效——你得保证把他们带到那儿。他们要在那十字架前下跪,会跳下马来——除开你这种异教徒以外,所有的人都会跳下马来的。这时我们就向他们发起进攻,而那两个女人也就会落到我们手上。”

“好,我同意你要点必要的阴谋诡计。但得有个条件,”海拉丁说道,“我不许你们损伤那年轻人一根毫毛。如果你凭你们的‘科隆三古人’发誓,向我保证这一点,那么我可以凭‘七个夜游神’向你发誓,其余各点我决不食言。如果你破坏你的誓言,‘七个夜游神’就会接连七个晚上把你从午夜和早晨之间的睡梦中吵醒,而第八个晚上就会掐死你,把你吃掉。”

“不过,雷电和冰雹呀,你干吗要那么稀罕和你非亲非故的这个小伙子的性命呢?”

“你别问这个了,诚实的汉里克。有些人对割别人脖子感兴趣,另一些人则对保全别人的脖子感兴趣——好了,你就向我赌咒,决不伤他一根毫毛吧。否则,凭明亮的阿多波兰星座说,这事就算拉倒——就凭你们所说的‘科隆三王’发誓吧。我晓得别的赌咒你们都是不在乎的。”

“你这人真有点滑稽。”长矛手说,“好吧,我发誓——”

“不行,”波希米亚人说,“勇敢的长矛手,你得转过脸来面向东方,否则那三个国王听不见你说的话。”

那丘人按规定的方式赌了咒。然后他说他可以很快作好准备,因为那个地方离他们现在的营地还不到五英里,采取行动十分方便。

“要是把一小队骑兵布置在靠客店左边的大路上,那么,万一他们走那条路,也可以叫他们落网,这样岂不更保险?”

那波希米亚人考虑了一会回答道:“不好——你们的队伍在那边出现会惊动纳慕尔的守军。你们的伏击战就会大成问题,而不会有必胜的把握。再说,他们将会沿马埃斯河的右岸走,因为我可以想走哪条路就带他们走哪条路。这个苏格兰山地人固然很机灵,但在路线问题上除了征求我的意见以外,还从没征求过别人的意见。这不用说,因为我是被一位可靠的朋友指派给他的,除非对这人有所了解,否则谁也不会对他的话有任何怀疑。”

“你听我说,海拉丁朋友,”那大兵说道,“我想问你个问题:你自己说,你和你的兄弟都是了不起的占星术家和算命先生,那么,你为什么没预见到你兄弟扎迈特被绞死呢?”

“我告诉你吧,汉里克,”海拉丁说道,“要是我早知道我兄弟会愚蠢到把路易王的打算告诉勃艮第查尔斯公爵,那我就能够像预言七月会有好天气那样,预言他一定会死于非命。路易在勃艮第宫廷里既有耳目,也有帮手。查尔斯的谋臣们爱听法国金币的丁当声,就像你爱听酒罐子的震响声。再见吧,请你遵守约定的安排。那苏格兰人起得很早。我得在那懒猪窝的大门外一箭之远的地方等他,否则他会疑心我暗中去了某个地方,要给他的旅途安全带来不利。”

“你先喝口酒定定心吧!”长矛手递给他一瓶酒说道,“啊,我忘了,你就像个畜牲,除了白水以外什么都不喝。真是穆罕默德和‘特马昆德’的坏奴仆。”

“你自己才是酒瓶酒罐的奴仆哩,”波希米亚人说道,“难怪聪明人只把他们计划的残暴部分交给你执行。一个人要想了解别人的思想而隐藏自己的思想,他就不能喝酒。不过,对你这样一种永远像阿拉伯沙漠上的河岸一般干渴的人讲这个道理又有什么用呢?再见吧,我想叫我的同伴图伊斯科和你一道走。让人在寺院附近看见他,会叫人产生怀疑的。”

在各人再次保证在“三王十字”附近碰头之后,两位大人才分手。

昆丁·达威特一直等到他们完全看不见了才从隐藏处跳了下来。当他想起他和受他保护的少女只是由于侥幸才逃脱(如果真能逃脱的话)一个蓄谋已久的罪恶计划时,他的心不禁激动得跳个不停。他担心回寺院的路上会碰到海拉丁。所以他不惜走过一片崎岖不平的地方,绕了一个大圈子,使他有可能通过另一道门回到寺院。

一路上他都认真地思考,看能否找到一个万全之计。当他刚一听到海拉丁暴露出的奸诈,他就下定决心,等他们散了伙,他的同伴离得相当远时,便立即把他干掉。但后来他听到这波希米亚人的确真心想保全他个人的性命,他感到要给他的奸诈应得的严厉惩罚又未免有些过意不去。最后他决定饶他一命,而且有可能的话,还继续利用他充当向导;但他得采取一些预防措施,以保证那被他视为珍宝的少女能平安无恙。事实上,他已暗自准备为保护她的安全献出自己的生命。

但是他们究竟该往何处去却是个问题——两位克罗伊埃仕女既然逃出了勃艮第,自然不能再到那儿去。而她们也不能再呆在法国,因为法国等于给她们下了逐客令。查尔斯公爵在勃艮第的强暴行径与路易王在法国执行的冷酷而专横的策略同样可怕。经过一番深思,达威特认为保护她们安全的比较稳妥的好办法就只能是绕过敌人的埋伏,沿着马埃斯河的左岸去列日,按二位仕女原来的打算,投奔善良的主教请求保护。主教肯定愿意保护她们。这一点是不用怀疑的。在那支勃艮第部队的支援下,也可以认为主教具有保护她们的能力。万一主教受到威廉·德拉马克的威胁,同时列日骚动的危险迫在眉睫,那么他自己也还有能力保护这两位不幸的仕女,最后在适当的人马护送下前往德国。

现在归纳一下这一思索得出的结论——附带说说,在进行一种思索时,哪能不涉及一些个人的考虑呢?——总之,昆丁认为,既然路易王冷酷地给他安排了当死回或当俘虏的命运,这就解除了他对法国国王承担的义务。他也决心不再承认这些义务。他推测列日主教可能需要补充兵丁。这两位仕女,特别是年长的那位,已经待他十分亲切。他估计通过她们两位的说项,他有可能获得某种具有指挥权的官职,也有可能受托把两位克罗伊埃仕女带到某个比列日更为安全的地方。最后还可以补充一点,那就是两位仕女曾经近乎开玩笑地谈到过要招募伯爵小姐自己的臣仆,以便像在这动荡的年代里别的贵族所做的那样,设法巩固她们自己的坚强城堡,以抵御可能的进犯。她们已半开玩笑地问过昆丁,是否愿意接受总管这个危险的职务。看到他以高兴而忠诚的心情接受这个职务时,她们也曾怀着同样的心情让他在这个光荣的授职场合吻了她们的手。伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐的手真是一个表达敬意的忠实臣仆有幸吻过的世界上最美丽最标致的手。他甚至觉得,由于他的嘴唇停留的时间比礼节的要求略微长了一点,她的手已在开始颤抖。她把手缩回去时,她的面颊和眼睛也现出了慌乱的神情。这一切也许会导致某种结果。在昆丁·达威特这种年龄,有哪个勇士在决定未来行动的过程中不把这些翩翩遐想也考虑进去呢?

这一点决定下来之后,下一步他就得考虑,在多大的程度上他可以利用那个不忠实的波希米亚人来继续给他们当向导。他还在森林里时便已放弃了打算杀死他的最初想法。假如他另找一个向导,把他活着打发走,那无异是让这奸细带着有关他们行动的情报去到威廉·德拉马克的营部。他考虑是否请寺院的院长当当他的参谋,并请求他在他们到达主教的城堡之前暂时扣押这个波希米亚人。但经过一番考虑,他觉得他没有勇气向这样一位年老而胆小的僧侣提出这种请求。须知他是把维护寺院的安全看作他最重要的职责,一听到别人提到“阿登内斯野猪”的名字都会浑身发抖。

最后达威特总算确定了一个行动计划。由于这个计划全靠他一个人来执行,他反而觉得更为稳妥。而为了他当前所从事的这一使命,他也感觉他能胜任一切。昆丁意识到处境艰危,但他怀有坚定而沉着的信念,就好比一个负重行走的人:一方面知道自己担子有多重,但另一方面也知道这担子并没有超过自己的力量和能耐。正当他把这计划定下来的时候,他已来到了寺院的大门口。

他轻轻敲了一下那扇大门,院长特意叫去守门的僧人马上把门打开,告诉他寺院的师兄弟们正在唱诗,将一直唱到天明,祈求上帝宽恕在他们当中那晚所发生的种种丑事。

这可敬的僧侣想让昆丁也参加他们的祈祷。但年轻的苏格兰人衣服湿透,不得不谢绝这个机会,而请求让他在厨房里烤烤火,趁天亮之前把衣服烘干。那僧侣不但答应了他的请求,而且主动与他做伴。这正好符合达威特的愿望,因为他很想就他从那波希米亚人与德国长矛手的谈话中偷听到的两条路线了解一些情况。那位僧侣曾多次受寺院委托去外面出差,因此在所有的师兄弟当中最有资格向他介绍他要求了解的情况。不过他说,作为真诚的朝圣者,昆丁护送的两位仕女应沿着马埃斯河的右岸走,经过“三王十字”,因为卡斯巴、美尔基俄尔和巴尔泰乍(这是天主教会对前往伯利恒向耶稣致敬的东方三贤的称呼)得福的遗骨在送往科隆之前曾在那儿显示过一些神迹。

昆丁回答说,两位仕女决心十分严格地按照规矩在所有该停的圣地停留,而且无论在去科隆的途中或返回的途中都将参观“三王十字”。不过她们听说,那凶恶的威廉·德拉马克的匪兵已使得河右岸的大路目前很不安全。

“皇天不容,”弗朗西斯神父说道,“没想到‘阿登内斯野猪’又把它的窝搞到离我们这么近的地方!好在那宽阔的马埃斯河在万不得已时能给我们充当一个好的屏障。”

“要是我们过了河在右岸走,那么这条河可没法阻挡强盗们袭击我保护的两位仕女。”昆丁说道。

“年轻人,老天爷会保佑他的臣民的。”那僧人说道,“得福的科隆三工既然不能容忍一个犹太人或异教徒进入城内,很难想象他们竟会冥昧得容许‘阿登内斯野猪’这样一条恶犬抢劫和虐待作为真诚的香客前往他们殿堂的朝圣者!要知道,这野猪比整个沙漠的撒拉森异教徒,加上十个部族的以色列人还更恶劣。”

不管昆丁作为一个虔诚的天主教徒该对美尔基俄尔、卡斯巴和巴尔泰乍的特殊保护寄以何种信赖,他都得想到,既然两位仕女的朝圣之说只是根据世俗的策略需要而编造出来的,他和他的被保护人当前就很难指望这东方三贤会给他们任何庇护。因此他决定尽可能避免让两位仕女陷入需要神灵干预的困境。与此同时,他以他单纯的信仰之诚许愿说,只要这三位通情达理的圣王能让他的被保护人这一伪装朝圣的计划达到预期的目的,他将亲往科隆向他们朝拜。

为了能使他庄严地履行许愿的仪式,他要求那僧人带他走进一个与寺院相通的小教堂,然后跪了下来,通过虔诚的祷告,表达他在内心里许过的愿。远处传来的唱诗声以及他为这许愿选择的子夜时辰带来的肃穆气氛,再加上照亮着这小小的哥特式建筑物的摇曳的灯光给人的印象——所有这些都使昆丁的心灵处于一种虔诚的状态,愿意承认人性的弱点,寻求神灵的帮助和保佑,而这在任何祷告中都肯定要联系到忏悔以往的罪过,并决心将来弥补和改正这些罪过。至于昆丁选错了祷告的对象,这倒并非他的过错。既然他的意图是诚恳的,我们难以设想那惟一的真神会认为他的祷告无法接受,因为上帝重视的是祈祷的动机而不是祈祷的形式。在上帝的眼里,异教徒的诚恳祷告要比法利赛人虚伪的虔诚更有价值。

在把他自己和那两位柔弱的旅伴托付给圣徒和上苍保佑之后,昆丁才进屋休息,只剩下那僧人独自坐着,深感他那诚恳而深刻的祷告使自己得到很大的启迪。



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