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Chapter 21 The Sack

The gates of mercy shall be all shut up, And the flesh'd soldier, rough and hard of heart, In liberty of bloody hand shall range, With conscience wide as hell.

HENRY V

The surprised and affrighted garrison of the Castle of Schonwaldt had, nevertheless, for some time made good the defence of the place against the assailants, but the immense crowds which, issuing from the city of Liege, thronged to the assault like bees, distracted their attention, and abated their courage.

There was also disaffection at least, if not treachery, among the defenders, for some called out to surrender, and others, deserting their posts, tried to escape from the castle. Many threw themselves from the walls into the moat, and such as escaped drowning, flung aside their distinguishing badges, and saved themselves by mingling among the motley crowd of assailants. Some few, indeed, from attachment to the Bishop's person, drew around him, and continued to defend the great keep, to which he had fled, and others, doubtful of receiving quarter, or from an impulse of desperate courage, held out other detached bulwarks and towers of the extensive building. But the assailants had got possession of the courts and lower parts of the edifice, and were busy pursuing the vanquished, and searching for spoil, while one individual, as if he sought for that death from which all others were flying, endeavoured to force his way into the scene of tumult and horror, under apprehensions still more horrible to his imagination than the realities around were to his sight and senses. Whoever had seen Quentin Durward that fatal night, not knowing the meaning of his conduct, had accounted him a raging madman, whoever had appreciated his motives, had ranked him nothing beneath a hero of romance.

Approaching Schonwaldt on the same side from which he had left it, the youth met several fugitives making for the wood, who naturally avoided him as an enemy, because he came in an opposite direction from that which they had adopted. When he came nearer, he could hear, and partly see, men dropping from the garden wall into the castle fosse, and others who seemed precipitated from the battlements by the assailants. His courage was not staggered, even for an instant. There was not time to look for the boat, even had it been practicable to use it, and it was in vain to approach the postern of the garden, which was crowded with fugitives, who ever and anon, as they were thrust through it by the pressure behind, fell into the moat which they had no means of crossing.

Avoiding that point, Quentin threw himself into the moat, near what was called the little gate of the castle, and where there was a drawbridge, which was still elevated. He avoided with difficulty the fatal grasp of more than one sinking wretch, and, swimming to the drawbridge, caught hold of one of the chains which was hanging down, and, by a great exertion of strength and activity, swayed himself out of the water, and attained the platform from which the bridge was suspended. As with hands and knees he struggled to make good his footing, a lanzknecht, with his bloody sword in his hand, made towards him, and raised his weapon for a blow which must have been fatal.

"How now, fellow," said Quentin, in a tone of authority. "Is that the way in which you assist a comrade? -- Give me your hand."

The soldier in silence, and not without hesitation, reached him his arm, and helped him upon the platform, when, without allowing him time for reflection, the Scot continued in the same tone of command, "To the western tower, if you would be rich -- the Priest's treasury is in the western tower."

The words were echoed on every hand: "To the western tower -- the treasure is in the western tower!" And the stragglers who were within, hearing of the cry, took, like a herd of raging wolves, the direction opposite to that which Quentin, come life, come death, was determined to pursue.

Bearing himself as if he were one, not of the conquered, but of the victors, he made a way into the garden, and pushed across it with less interruption than he could have expected, for the cry of "To the western tower!" had carried off one body of the assailants, and another was summoned together, by war cry and trumpet sound, to assist in repelling a desperate sally, attempted by the defenders of the keep, who had hoped to cut their way out of the castle, bearing the Bishop along with them. Quentin, therefore, crossed the garden with an eager step and throbbing heart, commending himself to those heavenly powers which had protected him through the numberless perils of his life, and bold in his determination to succeed, or leave his life in this desperate undertaking. Ere he reached the garden, three men rushed on him with levelled lances, crying, "Liege, Liege!"

Putting himself in defence, but without striking, he replied, "France, France, friend to Liege."

"Vivat France!" cried the burghers of Liege, and passed on. The same signal proved a talisman to avert the weapons of four or five of La Marck's followers, whom he found straggling in the garden, and who set upon him crying, "Sanglier!"

In a word, Quentin began to hope that his character as an emissary of King Louis, the private instigator of the insurgents of Liege, and the secret supporter of William de la Marck, might possibly bear him through the horrors of the night.

On reaching the turret, he shuddered when he found that the little side door, through which Marthon and the Countess Hameline had shortly before joined him, was now blockaded with more than one dead body.

Two of them he dragged hastily aside, and was stepping over the third body, in order to enter the portal, when the supposed dead man laid hand on his cloak, and entreated him to stay and assist him to rise. Quentin was about to use rougher methods than struggling to rid himself of this untimely obstruction, when the fallen man continued to exclaim, "I am stifled here, in mine own armour! -- I am the Syndic Pavillon of Liege! If you are for us, I will enrich you -- if you are for the other side, I will protect you, but do not -- do not leave me to die the death of a smothered pig!"

In the midst of this scene of blood and confusion, the presence of mind of Quentin suggested to him that this dignitary might have the means of protecting their retreat. He raised him on his feet, and asked him if he was wounded.

"Not wounded, at least I think not," answered the burgher, "but much out of wind."

"Sit down, then, on this stone, and recover your breath," said Quentin, "I will return instantly."

"For whom are you?" said the burgher, still detaining him.

"For France -- for France," answered Quentin, studying to get away.

"What! my lively young Archer?" said the worthy Syndic. "Nay, if it has been my fate to find a friend in this fearful night, I will not quit him, I promise you. Go where you will, I follow, and could I get some of the tight lads of our guildry together, I might be able to help you in turn, but they are all squandered abroad like so many pease. -- Oh, it is a fearful night!"

During this time, he was dragging himself on after Quentin, who, aware of the importance of securing the countenance of a person of such influence, slackened his pace to assist him, although cursing in his heart the encumbrance that retarded his pace.

At the top of the stair was an anteroom, with boxes and trunks, which bore marks of having been rifled, as some of the contents lay on the floor. A lamp, dying in the chimney, shed a feeble beam on a dead or senseless man who lay across the hearth.

Bounding from Pavillon like a greyhound from his keeper's leash, and with an effort which almost overthrew him, Quentin sprang through a second and a third room, the last of which seemed to be the bedroom of the Ladies of Croye. No living mortal was to be seen in either of them. He called upon the Lady Isabelle's name, at first gently, then more loudly, and then with an accent of despairing emphasis, but no answer was returned. He wrung his hands, tore his hair, and stamped on the earth with desperation. At length a feeble glimmer of light, which shone through a crevice in the wainscoting of a dark nook in the bedroom, announced some recess or concealment behind the arras. Quentin hasted to examine it. He found there was indeed a concealed room, but it resisted his hurried efforts to open it. Heedless of the personal injury he might sustain, he rushed at the door with the whole force and weight of his body, and such was the impetus of an effort made betwixt hope and despair, that it would have burst much stronger fastenings.

He thus forced his way, almost headlong, into a small oratory, where a female figure, which had been kneeling in agonizing supplication before the holy image, now sank at length on the floor, under the new terrors implied in this approaching tumult. He hastily raised her from the ground, and, joy of joys it was she whom he sought to save -- the Countess Isabelle. He pressed her to his bosom -- he conjured her to awake -- entreated her to be of good cheer -- for that she was now under time protection of one who had heart and hand enough to defend her against armies.

"Durward!" she said, as she at length collected herself, "is it indeed you? -- then there is some hope left. I thought all living and mortal friends had left me to my fate. -- Do not again abandon me."

"Never -- never!" said Durward. "Whatever shall happen, whatever danger shall approach, may I forfeit the benefits purchased by yonder blessed sign, if I be not the sharer of your fate until it is again a happy one!"

"Very pathetic and touching, truly," said a rough, broken, asthmatic voice behind. "A love affair, I see, and, from my soul, I pity the tender creature as if she were my own Trudchen."

"You must do more than pity," said Quentin, turning towards the speaker, "you must assist in protecting us, Meinheer Pavillon. Be assured this lady was put under my especial charge by your ally the King of France, and, if you aid me not to shelter her from every species of offence and violence, your city will lose the favour of Louis of Valois. Above all, she must be guarded from the hands of William de la Marck."

"That will be difficult," said Pavillon, "for these schelms of lanzknechts are very devils at rummaging out the wenches. But I'll do my best. -- We will to the other apartment, and there I will consider. -- It is but a narrow stair, and you can keep the door with a pike, while I look from the window, and get together some of my brisk boys of the curriers' guildry of Liege, that are as true as the knives they wear in their girdles. -- But first undo me these clasps -- for I have not worn this corselet since the battle of Saint Tron (fought by the insurgents of Liege against the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, when Count of Charalois, in which the people of Liege were defeated with great slaughter. S.) and I am three stone heavier since that time, if there be truth in Dutch beam and scale."

The undoing of the iron enclosure gave great relief to the honest man, who, in putting it on, had more considered his zeal to the cause of Liege, than his capacity of bearing arms. It afterwards turned out that being, as it were, borne forward involuntarily, and hoisted over the walls by his company as they thronged to the assault, the magistrate had been carried here and there, as the tide of attack and defence flowed or ebbed, without the power, latterly, of even uttering a word until, as the sea casts a log of driftwood ashore in the first creek, he had been ultimately thrown in the entrance to the Ladies of Croye's apartments, where the encumbrance of his own armour, with the superincumbent weight of two men slain in the entrance, and who fell above him, might have fixed him down long enough, had he not been relieved by Durward.

The same warmth of temper which rendered Hermann Pavillon a hot headed and intemperate zealot in politics, had the more desirable consequence of making him, in private, a good tempered, kind hearted man, who, if sometimes a little misled by vanity, was always well meaning and benevolent. He told Quentin to have an especial care of the poor pretty yung frau (young woman), and, after this unnecessary exhortation, began to halloo from the window, "Liege, Liege, for the gallant skinners' guild of curriers!"

One or two of his immediate followers collected at the summons and at the peculiar whistle with which it was accompanied (each of the crafts having such a signal among themselves), and, more joining them, established a guard under the window from which their leader was bawling, and before the postern door.

Matters seemed now settling into some sort of tranquillity. All opposition had ceased, and the leaders of the different classes of assailants were taking measures to prevent indiscriminate plunder. The great bell was tolled, a summons to a military counsel, and its iron tongue communicating to Liege the triumphant possession of Schonwaldt by the insurgents, was answered by all the bells in that city, whose distant and clamorous voices seemed to cry, Hail to the victors! It would have been natural that Meinheer Pavillon should now have sallied from his fastness, but either in reverent care of those whom he had taken under his protection, or perhaps for the better assurance of his own safety, he contented himself with dispatching messenger on messenger, to command his lieutenant, Peterkin Geislaer, to attend him directly.

Peterkin came, at length, to his great relief, as being the person upon whom, on all pressing occasions, whether of war, politics, or commerce, Pavillon was most accustomed to repose confidence. He was a stout, squat figure, with a square face and broad black eyebrows, that announced him to be opinionative and disputatious, -- an advice giving countenance, so to speak. He was endued with a buff jerkin, wore a broad belt and cutlass by his side, and carried a halberd in his hand.

"Peterkin, my dear lieutenant," said the commander, "this has been a glorious day -- night I should say -- I trust thou art pleased for once."

"I am well enough pleased that you are so," said the doughty lieutenant, "though I should not have thought of your celebrating the victory, if you call it one, up in this garret by yourself, when you are wanted in council."

"But am I wanted there?" said the Syndic.

"Ay, marry are you, to stand up for the rights of Liege, that are in more danger than ever," answered the lieutenant.

"Pshaw, Peterkin," answered his principal, "thou art ever such a frampold grumbler --"

"Grumbler? not I," said Peterkin, "what pleases other people will always please me. Only I wish we have not got King Stork, instead of King Log, like the fabliau (fable) that the Clerk of Saint Lambert's used to read us out of Meister Aesop's book."

(Refers to Aesop's fable. The commonwealth of frogs, having conceived an aversion for their amiable king Log, asked Jupiter to send them another sovereign. He accordingly bestowed upon them a stork who gradually devoured all his subjects.)

"I cannot guess your meaning," said the Syndic.

"Why then, I tell you, Master Pavillon, that this Boar or Bear is like to make his own den of Schonwaldt, and is probable to turn out as bad a neighbour to our town as ever was the old Bishop, and worse. Here has he taken the whole conquest in his own hand, and is only doubting whether he should be called Prince or Bishop -- and it is a shame to see how they have mishandled the old man among them."

"I will not permit it, Peterkin," said Pavillon, hustling up, "I disliked the mitre, but not the head that wore it. We are ten to one in the field, Peterkin, and will not permit these courses."

"Ay, ten to one in the field, but only man to man in the castle, besides that Nikkel Blok the butcher, and all the rabble of the suburbs, take part with William de la Marck, partly for saus and braus (means here carousing) (for he has broached all the ale tubs and wine casks), and partly for old envy towards us, who are the craftsmen, and have privileges."

"Peter," said Pavillon, "we will go presently to the city. I will stay no longer in Schonwaldt."

"But the bridges of this castle are up, master," said Geislaer -- "the gates locked, and guarded by these lanzknechts, and, if we were to try to force our way, these fellows, whose everyday business is war, might make wild work of us that only fight of a holyday."

"But why has he secured the gates?" said the alarmed burgher, "or what business hath he to make honest men prisoners?"

"I cannot tell -- not I," said Peter. "Some noise there is about the Ladies of Croye, who have escaped during the storm of the castle. That first put the Man with the Beard beside himself with anger, and now he 's beside himself with drink also."

The Burgomaster cast a disconsolate look towards Quentin, and seemed at a loss what to resolve upon. Durward, who had not lost a word of the conversation, which alarmed him very much, saw nevertheless that their only safety depended on his preserving his own presence of mind, and sustaining the courage of Pavillon. He struck boldly into the conversation, as one who had a right to have a voice in the deliberation.

"I am ashamed," he said, "Meinheer Pavillon, to observe you hesitate what to do on this occasion. Go boldly to William de la Marck, and demand free leave to quit the castle, you, your lieutenant, your squire, and your daughter. He can have no pretence for keeping you prisoner."

"For me and my lieutenant -- that is myself and Peter? -- Good -- but who is my squire?"

"I am for the present," replied the undaunted Scot.

"You!" said the embarrassed burgess, "but are you not the envoy of King Louis of France?"

"True, but my message is to the magistrates of Liege -- and only in Liege will I deliver it. -- Were I to acknowledge my quality before William de la Marck, must I not enter into negotiations with him? Ay, and, it is like, be detained by him. You must get me secretly out of the castle in the capacity of your squire."

"Good -- my squire -- but you spoke of my daughter -- my daughter is, I trust, safe in my house in Liege -- where I wish her father was, with all my heart and soul."

"This lady," said Durward, "will call you father while we are in this place."

"And for my whole life afterwards," said the Countess, throwing herself at the citizen's feet, and clasping his knees.

"Never shall the day pass in which I will not honour you, love you, and pray for you as a daughter for a father, if you will but aid me in this fearful strait. -- Oh, be not hard hearted! Think, your own daughter may kneel to a stranger, to ask him for life and honour -- think of this, and give me the protection you would wish her to receive!"

"In troth," said the good citizen, much moved with her pathetic appeal, "I think, Peter, that this pretty maiden hath a touch of our Trudchen's sweet look -- I thought so from the first, and that this brisk youth here, who is so ready with his advice, is somewhat like Trudchen's bachelor -- I wager a groat, Peter, that this is a true love matter, and it is a sin not to further it."

"It were shame and sin both," said Peter, a good natured Fleming, notwithstanding all his self conceit, and as he spoke he wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his jerkin.

"She shall be my daughter, then," said Pavillon, "well wrapped up in her black silk veil and if there are not enough of true hearted skinners to protect her, being the daughter of their Syndic, it were pity they should ever tug leather more. -- But hark ye -- questions must be answered -- How if I am asked what should my daughter make here at such an onslaught?"

"What should half the women in Liege make here when they followed us to the castle?" said Peter. "They had no other reason, sure, but that it was just the place in the world that they should not have come to. Our yung frau Trudchen has come a little farther than the rest -- that is all."

"Admirably spoken," said Quentin, "only be bold, and take this gentleman's good counsel, noble Meinheer Pavillon, and, at no trouble to yourself, you will do the most worthy action since the days of Charlemagne. -- Here, sweet lady, wrap yourself close in this veil" (for many articles of female apparel lay scattered about the apartment) -- "be but confident, and a few minutes will place you in freedom and safety. Noble Sir," he added, addressing Pavillon, "set forward."

"Hold -- hold -- hold a minute," said Pavillon, "my mind misgives me! -- This De la Marck is a fury, a perfect boar in his nature as in his name, what if the young lady be one of those of Croye? -- and what if he discover her, and be addicted to wrath?"

"And if I were one of those unfortunate women," said Isabelle, again attempting to throw herself at his feet, "could you for that reject me in this moment of despair? Oh, that I had been indeed your daughter, or the daughter of the poorest burgher!"

"Not so poor -- not so poor neither, young lady -- we pay as we go," said the citizen.

"Forgive me, noble sir," again began the unfortunate maiden.

"Not noble, nor sir, neither," said the Syndic, "a plain burgher of Liege, that pays bills of exchange in ready guilders. -- But that is nothing to the purpose. -- Well, say you be a countess, I will protect you nevertheless."

"You are bound to protect her, were she a duchess," said Peter, "having once passed your word."

"Right, Peter, very right," said the Syndic "it is our old Low Dutch fashion, ein wort, ein man (a man of his word), and now let us to this gear. We must take leave of this William de la Marck, and yet I know not, my mind misgives me when I think of him, and were it a ceremony which could be waived, I have no stomach to go through it."

"Were you not better, since you have a force together, to make for the gate and force the guard?" said Quentin.

But with united voice, Pavillon and his adviser exclaimed against the propriety of such an attack upon their ally's soldiers, with some hints concerning its rashness, which satisfied Quentin that it was not a risk to be hazarded with such associates.

They resolved, therefore, to repair boldly to the great hall of the castle, where, as they understood, the Wild Boar of Ardennes held his feast, and demand free egress for the Syndic of Liege and his company, a request too reasonable, as it seemed, to be denied. Still the good burgomaster groaned when he looked on his companions, and exclaimed to his faithful Peter, "See what it is to have too bold and too tender a heart! Alas! Peterkin, how much have courage and humanity cost me! and how much may I yet have to pay for my virtues, before Heaven makes us free of this damned Castle of Schonwaldt!"

As they crossed the courts, still strewed with the dying and dead, Quentin, while he supported Isabelle through the scene of horrors, whispered to her courage and comfort, and reminded her that her safety depended entirely on her firmness and presence of mind.

"Not on mine -- not on mine," she said, "but on yours -- on yours only. Oh, if I but escape this fearful night, never shall I forget him who saved me! One favour more only, let me implore at your hand, and I conjure you to grant it, by your mother's fame and your father's honour!"

"What is it you can ask that I could refuse?" said Quentin, in a whisper.

"Plunge your dagger in my heart," said she, "rather than leave me captive in the hands of these monsters."

Quentin's only answer was a pressure of the young Countess's hand, which seemed as if, but for terror, it would have returned the caress. And, leaning on her youthful protector, she entered the fearful hall, preceded by Pavillon and his lieutenant, and followed by a dozen of the Kurschenschaft, or skinner's trade, who attended as a guard of honour on the Syndic.

As they approached the hall, the yells of acclamation and bursts of wild laughter which proceeded from it, seemed rather to announce the revel of festive demons, rejoicing after some accomplished triumph over the human race, than of mortal beings who had succeeded in a bold design. An emphatic tone of mind, which despair alone could have inspired, supported the assumed courage of the Countess Isabelle, undaunted spirits, which rose with the extremity, maintained that of Durward, while Pavillon and his lieutenant made a virtue of necessity, and faced their fate like bears bound to a stake, which must necessarily stand the dangers of the course.

怜悯的大门将被完全关闭,

铁石心肠的粗暴士兵将挥舞血腥的手,

像在地狱一般疯狂肆虐。

《亨利五世》

索恩瓦尔德城堡的卫队虽因遭到偷袭而惊恐万状,还是成功地对入侵者进行了一段时间的抵抗。但从列日城蜂拥而至的攻城人群使他们寡不敌众,士气一落千丈。

在守军当中即使没出现叛变,但也出现了不忠之徒。有些人喊投降,有些人从墙上跳进护城河企图逃出城堡。许多未被淹死者则扔掉徽章和标记,混在杂乱的攻城人群中以图保全性命。只有忠于主教的少数人员聚集在他的周围,继续保卫他赖以避难的主楼。另一些人由于担心敌人不会饶他们,正凭着垂死挣扎的勇气,固守着这宽阔的城堡内一些孤立的堡垒和塔楼。但攻城者已占领了庭院和主楼的底层,正忙于追击败退的敌人,搜寻战利品。这时却有一人似乎在追求他人都在逃避的死亡,竭力闯出一条路向那骚乱和恐怖的现场冲过去,因为他头脑中所想象的恐怖要远远胜过他所看到的、所感到的真实恐怖。凡是在那恐怖之夜见到昆丁·达威特而不知其用意的人定会把他当作一个发狂的疯子,但凡是能赞赏其动机的人则会认为他不亚于浪漫诗里的传奇英雄。

这年轻人顺着原路回到索恩瓦尔德的途中碰到几个人正朝树林里逃去。他们自然想躲开他,因为他走的方向与他们走的正好相反。当他走近时,他听得见也模糊地看得见有人从花园围墙上跳进护城河,另一些人则像是被追兵所逼而从城谍上跳下来的。但他的勇气丝毫未减。至于那条小船,即使这时还有可能使用,他也来不及寻找;而那花园的旁门则已堵满了逃跑的人;他们在过门时屡屡遭到后面的推挤,掉进了他们无法渡过的护城河。

昆丁避开这个地点,来到城堡小门的附近,那里有个还没放下来的吊桥。他从这儿纵身跳下了护城河。他好不容易摆脱了几个行将没顶的可怜人死命的揪抓,游到那吊桥跟前,抓住一根吊下来的铁链,使尽全身力气,挣出水面,够着了悬吊桥的平台。正当他用手和膝部拚命往上爬的时候,一个德国长矛手手握沾满鲜血的长刀向他跑来,举起刀就要劈头砍下,打发他回老家。

“怎么了,伙计!”昆丁带着威严的口气说,“你就这样帮助一个伙伴吗?拉我一把吧。”

那长矛手颇为犹豫地默默把手伸给他,帮他爬上平台。那苏格兰人不让他有思索余地,继续以命令式的语调说:“想发财去西边那个塔楼——主教的财宝都藏在西边那个塔楼!”

顿时到处都传遍了这两句话:“去西边的塔楼——财宝都藏在西边的塔楼!”听见这呼喊的散兵游勇就像一群发疯的野狼似的朝着那个方向奔去,而昆丁则不顾生死坚决朝着与其相反的方向走去。

他装出一副征服者(而不是被征服者)的神气闯出一条道路走进花园,比原来估计的更顺利地匆匆走了过去。因为那“去西边的塔楼”的呼声引走了一批进攻者,而另一股则被喊杀声和号声召唤,去帮助挫败主楼的保卫者打算带着主教拚死突围、杀出城堡的尝试。因此昆丁怀着忐忑不安的心情急忙走过花园。他把自己托给曾保护他战胜了无数生命危险的神力,并因为已下定不成功便成仁的决心而感到浑身是胆。他还没来得及到达目的地,便有三个人横持长矛狂呼“列日!列日!”向他冲了过来。

他先摆出防御的样子,并不主动进攻,然后回答说:“法兰西!法兰西!列日的朋友!”

“法兰西万岁!”列日市民喊道,接着走了过去。这同一句话也像法宝似的使他避开了原在花园里窜动,见他来便喊着“Sanglier!”向他扑过来的四五个德拉马克匪徒的袭击。

总之,昆丁已感到有希望以路易王这个列日叛乱的暗中怂恿者和威廉·德拉马克的暗中支持者的堂堂特使的身份,侥幸度过这个恐怖之夜。

赶到塔楼时,他惊恐地发现已经有好几具尸体堵住了玛尔松和哈梅琳女士不久前和他相会的那道小旁门。

他急忙把两具尸体拖到一边,正想跨过第三具尸体进门去,不料他原以为死了的这个人却抓住他的斗篷,哀求他站住,帮他站起来。昆丁打算使用粗暴的办法挣脱这个不合时宜的阻挠,但那躺在地上的人继续喊道:“我是被我自己的铠甲窒息得快死了!我是列日的行会主席巴维翁!如果你是我们这边的,我可以使你发财,如果你是那边的,我可以给你保护。但千万别——千万别让我像头猪一样被憋死在这儿!”

昆丁在这混乱的厮杀中还保持着冷静的头脑。他马上想起这位重要人物也许有能力保护他们撤退,于是他扶他起来,并问他是否受了伤。

“没受伤——至少我以为没受伤,”那市民回答道,“就是气喘不过来。”

“那么你坐在这块石头上松口气吧,”昆丁说道,“我马上回来。”

“你是那一边的?”那市民仍拦住他问道。

“我是法国这边的——法国这边的。”昆丁回答道,一边考虑如何把他摆脱掉。

“什么!你就是我碰到过的那位年轻射手?”尊敬的行会主席说道,“假如我命该在这个恐怖的夜晚碰到一位朋友,我向你担保,我是不会离开你的。不管你去哪儿我都会跟着你。要是我能把我们行会的几个棒小伙子叫拢来,我也许还能反过来帮帮你哩。但他们都像豌豆那样撒了出去。啊,这真是个可怕的夜晚!”

这时他紧紧地跟在昆丁后面吃力地走着。由于意识到取得这样一个有影响的人物的保护所具有的重要性,昆丁放慢了脚步来帮助他,虽然内心里暗自咒骂这个累赘。

楼梯的顶部是个前室。里面的一些箱子和盒子像是被搜查过,因为地板上零乱地放着从箱子里倒出来的东西。烟囱里的一盏行将熄灭的油灯发出一丝微光,照着一个横卧在壁炉上的死人或失去知觉的人。

昆丁像一头摆脱了猎人套索的猎犬,猛然从巴维翁身边跳开,险些把他撞翻在地。他穿过第二间房来到第三间房——克罗伊埃仕女可能住过的卧室。这两间房都看不见一个活人。他呼叫着伊莎贝尔小姐的名字,先是轻轻喊,继而大声叫,再就是拚命喊都没有回答。他搓着手,撕扯着头发,痛心得捶胸顿足。最后他看见这卧室一个阴暗角落里的墙裙上面有条裂缝,从缝里射出一线微弱的灯光。这说明在挂毯后面还有个暗室。昆丁急忙跑去探察。他发现那儿的确有道暗门,但在匆忙中使劲推也推不开。他不顾身体可能受到的损害,用尽全身力气,拼上全身重量来撞门。碰到这种介乎希望和绝望的拼死努力带来的凶猛气势,即使比这坚固得多的堡垒也未尝不能冲破。

拼命冲撞的结果使他一头闯进了一间小祈祷室。原来跪在圣像前痛苦祈祷的妇女,由于逼近的骚动给她带来了新的恐惧,终于昏倒在地板上。他急忙把她扶起来。啊,太幸福了!这正是他要救的少女——伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐。他把她搂在怀里,唤她醒来,求她振作起精神——因为一个既有心灵也有力量来为她抵挡千军万马的男人在保护着她。

“达威特!”她终于神态清醒地说道,“真是你吗?那么还有点希望。我原以为所有活着和死去的朋友都离开了我,任命运摆布我哩。可别再抛弃我了!”

“决不会——决不会!”达威特说道,“不管发生什么情况,碰到什么危险,我都和你共命运,直至看到你得到幸福。否则愿上苍剥夺我一切幸福。”

“多悲怆动人啊,真的,”后面一个粗声粗气的哮喘般的声音说道,“我看这是个男女恋爱的事。我从心底可怜这柔弱的姑娘,仿佛她就是我自己的女儿特鲁德珍。”

“您应当不只是可怜我们,”昆丁转过身来对他说道,“巴维翁阁下,您应当设法保护我们。您可以相信,这位小姐是你们的盟友法王路易特意交给我照顾的。如果你们不帮我保护她不受暴力侵害,你们的列日城就会失去路易王的恩宠。首先您必须使她别落在威廉·德拉马克手上。”

“这可困难,”巴维翁说道,“因为这些长矛手都是些搜索和掳掠少女的魔鬼。不过我会尽力而为。我们到那间房里去,让我考虑考虑该怎么办吧。这楼梯很窄,你可以拿着梭镖守住门。我将从窗口向外看,设法把几个列日制革行会的勇敢小伙子纠集拢来。你知道,他们就像他们系的腰刀一样忠实可靠。不过,得请你先给我解开这些铁扣——自从圣特隆战役以后我就没穿过这身铠甲。如果荷兰制的秤准的话,我的确比当时重了三英石。”

解开铁扣之后,那老实人大大松了口气。想必他穿上铠甲时考虑得更多的是他对列日事业的忠诚,而没有怎么考虑他打仗的本事。后来人们才知道,这位首领仿佛是不由自主地被攻城的人流冲着走。在被这人流抬过城墙之后,便随着攻守两方潮水涨落四处飘落,进而失去了开口讲话的能力。最后,就像海水顺着最先碰到的一个河沟把浮木抛上海岸一样,这股人流终于把我们的巴维翁大人扔到了克罗伊埃仕女卧房的人口处。他自己那身铠甲已很笨重,再加上人口处有两人被杀,倒在他身上,给他增加了压力;要不是遇到达威特及时解救,他可能就会久久地呆在那里了。

赫尔曼·巴维前热情的性格固然使得他成为一个莽撞而激进的政治狂热分于,但更可喜的是,这也使得他在私生活中成为一个性格和蔼、心地善良的好人。除了有时受到虚荣心的蒙蔽以外,他始终善意而仁慈地对待别人。他嘱咐昆丁要特别关照这可怜的娇美少女。说了这番多余的话之后,他便从窗口向外面喊:“列日,列日,英勇的制革行会会员们!”

一听到这声召唤,他手下的一两个直接追随者便聚集拢来,而随着这召唤发出的特殊口哨声(每个行业都有他们自己的暗号),很快便有更多的人应召而来,在他们首领喊叫着的窗子底下形成了一支卫队。

战事似乎在逐渐平息。抵抗已全部结束。各参战派别的首领们正在采取措施防止乱兵洗劫,并通过敲钟召集一次军事会议。那大钟向列日市民宣告叛乱者已胜利占领了索恩瓦尔德堡,市内钟声齐鸣作为呼应。那遥远而响亮的钟声像在呼喊胜利万岁!要是巴维翁阁下此刻从他的堡垒中冲将下来,那也不足为怪。但为了照顾在他保护下的两个人,或为了更好地保证他自己的安全,他只限于派去一个又一个的传令兵,吩咐他的副官彼得金·盖斯勒尔立即前来和他共商要事。

看到彼得金终于应命赶来,他感到松了一大口气,因为不管是在军事、政治或商业的紧要场合,这人都是巴维翁最信赖的心腹。他个子矮墩墩的,方方正正的面孔,粗黑的眉毛,说明他这人喜欢争论,固执已见——颇像个参谋的样子。他穿着黄牛皮上衣,腰间系着宽皮带和弯刀,手里握着一根长朝。

“彼得金,我亲爱的副官,”司令说道,“今天真了不起——嗯,应该说今晚真了不起。我想这回你总算满意了吧?”

“看到你满意我自然也很满意,”那勇敢的副官说道,“不过,如果你称其为胜利,我可没想到你会躲在这个阁楼上欢庆这个胜利。他们正通知你去开会哩。”

“要我去开会?”那行会主席说道。

“是的。你有可能去维护我们列日人比以往遭到更大危险的权利。”那副官回答道。

“得了吧,彼得金,”头头对他说,“你这个家伙老是有满腹牢骚。”

“满腹牢骚?我才不哩,”彼得金说,“别人满意的我也满意。不过我只希望我们没像圣兰伯特教堂的牧师经常读给我们听的伊索寓言里面说的那样,赶走了圆木王来了个鹳王。”

“彼得金,我真不懂你是什么意思。”行会主席说道。

“那我就告诉你吧,巴维翁师傅。这个叫野猪或狗熊的家伙有意把索思瓦尔德变成他的窝。像他这样一个列日城的邻居,很可能和老主教一样糟糕,甚至比他更糟糕。他已经抢走了全部胜利果实,只是在犹豫,应该自封为王子哩,还是自封为主教?再说,他们那么虐待那个老人也真造孽。”

“彼得金,我绝不能允许这样做。”巴维翁说道,一边准备立即采取行动,“我不喜欢主教戴的冠冕,但并不是不喜欢那戴冠冕的脑袋。彼得金,我们和他们的人数是十比一。我们得制止这种事。”

“不错,总的讲是十比一,但在城堡里却是一比一。再说,屠宰业的尼克尔·布洛克和郊区的游民也都和威廉·德拉马克站在一起,一方面是因为有酒喝(因为那家伙已命令打开全部酒桶),一方面是因为嫉妒我们这些享有权利的匠人。”

“彼得,”巴维翁说,“让我们马上回城里去。我不想在索恩瓦尔德再呆下去了。”

“老爷,城堡的桥都吊了起来,过不去,”盖斯勒尔说道,“城门都上了锁,由那些德国长矛手把守。如果我们硬要冲出去,那些以打仗为职业的家伙就会把我们这些以打仗为副业的人打得落花流水。”

“他们干吗要把守城门呢?”巴维翁不安地说道,“他们要把老实人抓来当俘虏干什么呢?”

“我也不知道为什么,”彼得说道,“传说两位克罗伊埃仕女趁攻城的机会逃跑了。这使得那大胡子先是气得要命,现在又醉得要死。”

那市长不安地望望昆丁,似乎不知如何决定才好。达威特一直在仔细倾听他们的谈话,感到十分惊惶。但他也看到他自己保持镇定并使巴维翁鼓起勇气乃是他们的安全所系。他感到他有必要在这个问题上发表他的意见,便大胆地参与他们的谈话。“巴维翁阁下,”他说,“看到你碰到这样一个场合竟然犹豫不决,束手无策,我真为你感到惭愧。你尽管大胆地去找威廉·德拉马克,要求他让你与你的副官、你的扈从和你的女儿自由离开城堡。他没有任何理由把你扣留下来当俘虏。”

“我和我的副官——那就是指我本人和彼得?好——但谁是我的扈从呢?”

“我就是。我暂时当你的扈从。”那无畏的苏格兰人回答道。

“你!”巴维翁为难地说,“你不是法王路易的特使吗?”

“不错。不过我的密信是写给列日的知事们的——也只有在列日我才会交出来。要是我在威廉·德拉马克面前承认了我的身份,我岂不会被迫和他打交道?是的,还有可能被他扣押。所以你必须把我当作你的扈从秘密送出城堡。”

“行——我的扈从。不过你还谈到我的女儿。我想我女儿平安地呆在我列日的家里——我真是衷心希望她的父亲也和她一样,此刻呆在家里。”

“这位小姐,”达威特说道,“在此地逗留期间可以称你作父亲。”

“今后我一辈子也会称您作父亲,”伯爵小姐跪倒在这位市民的脚下,搂着他的膝头说道,“只要您帮助我渡过这个无望的绝境,我将像女儿对待父亲那样每天每日都敬您,爱您,为您祷告——啊,千万别那么狠心!想想看吧,您自己的女儿也有可能跪在一个陌生人面前,求他保护她的生命和尊严——请想想这个,给予我您希望她也能获得的那种保护吧!”

“说实在的,彼得,”那深为少女悲怆的恳求所感动的善良市民说道,“我觉得这俊俏的少女是有点像我那长得可爱的特鲁德珍。一开头我就有这种感觉。而这个好出主意的活跃的年轻人也有点像特鲁德珍的未婚夫。彼得,我敢打赌,这是真诚的恋爱,不助它一臂之力简直是一种罪过。”

“既是耻辱又是罪过。”彼得用皮上衣的衣袖擦着眼泪说道。凭心而论,这弗兰德人虽然有些自以为是,但心地善良。

“权且把她当作我的女儿吧,”巴维翁说,“她得好好蒙上黑面纱。既然她是行会主席的女儿,要是没有足够多的忠实制革匠来保护她,那他们就没脸再扯牛皮了。不过得注意,我必须回答他们的问题——要是他们问我,在攻城这种时候,我女儿跑来干什么,我怎么回答好呢?”

“请问,列日一半的妇女跟随我们进城堡来,又为了什么呢?”彼得说道,“除开说这正是这世界上她们本不应该来的地方,别的还能说什么呢?我们的特鲁德珍小姐比别人走得稍远一点——如此而已。”

“答得真妙。”昆丁说道,“尊贵的巴维翁阁下,您就鼓足勇气,照这位绅士的好主意去干吧。这将是查理曼大帝以来最有价值的一个功德,而您又不致给自己带来麻烦。亲爱的小姐,用这条面纱把你的脸紧紧蒙起来(房间里零乱地摆着许多妇女服装用品)。只要有信心,几分钟之内你就可以获得自由和安全。尊贵的先生,”他对着巴维翁说道,“您领头走吧。”

“等——等——等一下,”巴维翁说,“我还是放心不下!这个德拉马克是个狂人,一个名符其实的野猪。要是这个少女就是克罗伊埃小姐那怎么得了?要是让他发现了,大发雷霆那怎么得了?”

“假如我真是这个不幸的少女,”伊莎贝尔说道,看去又想向他下跪,“您能够在这绝望的时刻抛弃我吗?啊,但愿我真是您的女儿,一位最贫穷的市民的女儿!”

“小姐,我们不算穷——也不算很穷——我们还过得去。”那市民说道。

“请原谅我,高贵的先生。”不幸的少女又说道。

“不算高贵,也不是什么先生,”那行会主席说道,“只是个能用现款偿付票据的普通列日市民。不过这有点文不对题。好吧,你就说你是伯爵小姐,我也照样会保护你。”

“即使她是伯爵小姐,你也有义务保护她,”彼得说,“因为你已经作了许诺。”

“说得对,彼得,说得很对,”那行会主席又说道,“这是我们低地荷兰人的作风:一言既出,驷马难追。现在让我们谈正事吧——我们得向这个威廉·德拉马克打个招呼才能走。不知怎么回事,我一想起他就心绪不宁。但愿这是个可以摆脱的礼节,我实在没有心思去走过场。”

“既然你有支队伍,冲到城门跟前强迫卫兵开门不是更好吗?”昆丁说道。

巴维翁和他的参谋异口同声地表示不赞成对自己的盟军进行这种袭击,并暗示这样做未免轻率。昆丁晓得让这样的同伙冒这种危险是办不到的。他们了解到“阿登内斯野猪”正在举行祝捷盛宴,便决定进入城堡大厅,为列日的行会主席及其一行人要求获得出城的权利——看来这要求十分合理,很难予以拒绝。但那好心的市长还是望着他的伙伴们唉声叹气,并对忠实的彼得说:“你瞧,胆子太大、心肠太软会带来什么样的好处!唉呀,彼得金,你知道仁慈和勇敢让我吃了多少亏!在老天爷让我们离开这倒霉的索恩瓦尔德堡以前,我还不知要为我的善良品德付出多大的代价哩!”

当他们走过仍然躺满了垂死的伤者和死者的庭院时,昆丁扶着伊莎贝尔走过这恐怖的屠场,轻声安慰她,给她鼓气,并提醒她:她的安危完全取决于她的坚定和镇静。

“不是取决于我,”她说,“而是取决于你——取决于你一个人的坚定和镇静。啊,要是我能熬过这个恐怖的夜晚而脱险,我决不会忘了救我的人!我想哀求你再给我一个恩惠,求你看在你父母亲的荣誉和尊严的分上,一定答应我!”

“你的要求我怎能拒绝呢?”昆丁轻声说道。

“宁可用匕首捅开我的胸膛,”她说,“也不要让我落在这些禽兽手上当囚徒。”

昆丁惟一的回答是握住伯爵小姐的手。要不是因为这恐怖的情景,看来她本会回答这一爱抚的表示。在巴维翁及其副官打先锋,十多个制革匠组成的行会主席的仪仗队跟随下,伊莎贝尔依偎着她年轻的保镖走进了那杀气腾腾的大厅。

当他们走近大厅时,里面传出来的鼓掌欢呼声、一阵阵粗野的狂笑声似乎说明这是群魔在欢庆对人类取得的胜利而开怀畅饮,并不是凡人在为他们的冒险计划获得成功而干杯。这时,促使伊莎贝尔小姐鼓起勇气的是一种惟有绝望才能激发出来的倔强心理,而促使达威特鼓起勇气的则是在山穷水尽时更为昂扬的大无畏精神。至于巴维翁和他的副官则像被捆在柱子上不得不面对危险的大熊,只好硬着头皮来面对自己的命运。



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