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Chapter 23 The Flight

Now bid me run, And I will strive with things impossible; Yea, get the better of them.

Set on your foot; And, with a heart new fired, I follow you, To do I know not what.

JULIUS CAESAR

In spite of a mixture of joy and fear, doubt, anxiety, and other agitating passions, the exhausting fatigues of the preceding day were powerful enough to throw the young Scot into a deep and profound repose, which lasted until late on the day following, when his worthy host entered the apartment with looks of care on his brow.

He seated himself by his guest's bedside, and began a long and complicated discourse upon the domestic duties of a married life, and especially upon the awful power and right supremacy which it became married men to sustain in all differences of opinion with their wives. Quentin listened with some anxiety. He knew that husbands, like other belligerent powers, were sometimes disposed to sing Te Deum (Te Deum laudamus: We praise Thee, O God; the first words of an ancient hymn, sung in the morning service of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches), rather to conceal a defeat than to celebrate a victory, and he hastened to probe the matter more closely, by hoping their arrival had been attended with no inconvenience to the good lady of the household.

"Inconvenience! -- no," answered the Burgomaster. -- "No woman can be less taken unawares than Mother Mabel -- always happy to see her friends -- always a clean lodging and a handsome meal ready for them, with God's blessing on bed and board. -- No woman on earth so hospitable -- only 'tis pity her temper is something particular."

"Our residence here is disagreeable to her, in short?" said the Scot, starting out of bed, and beginning to dress himself hastily. "Were I but sure the Lady Isabelle were fit for travel after the horrors of the last night, we would not increase the offence by remaining here an instant longer."

"Nay," said Pavillon, "that is just what the young lady herself said to Mother Mabel, and truly I wish you saw the colour that came to her face as she said it -- a milkmaid that has skated five miles to market against the frost wind is a lily compared to it -- I do not wonder Mother Mabel may be a little jealous, poor dear soul."

"Has the Lady Isabelle then left her apartment?" said the youth, continuing his toilette operations with more dispatch than before.

"Yes," replied Pavillon, "and she expects your approach with much impatience, to determine which way you shall go since you are both determined on going. But I trust you will tarry breakfast?"

"Why did you not tell me this sooner?" said Durward, impatiently.

"Softly -- softly," said the Syndic, "I have told it you too soon, I think, if it puts you into such a hasty fluster. Now I have some more matter for your ear, if I saw you had some patience to listen to me."

"Speak it, worthy sir, as soon and as fast as you can -- I listen devoutly."

"Well," resumed the Burgomaster, "I have but one word to say, and that is that Trudchen, who is as sorry to part with yonder pretty lady as if she had been some sister of hers, wants you to take some other disguise, for there is word in the town that the Ladies of Croye travel the country in pilgrim's dresses, attended by a French life guardsman of the Scottish Archers, and it is said one of them was brought into Schonwaldt last night by a Bohemian after we had left it, and it was said still farther, that this same Bohemian had assured William de la Marck that you were charged with no message either to him or to the good people of Liege, and that you had stolen away the young Countess, and travelled with her as her paramour. And all this news hath come from Schonwaldt this morning, and it has been told to us and the other councillors, who know not well what to advise, for though our own opinion is that William de la Marck has been a thought too rough both with the Bishop and with ourselves, yet there is a great belief that he is a good natured soul at bottom -- that is, when he is sober -- and that he is the only leader in the world to command us against the Duke of Burgundy, and, in truth, as matters stand, it is partly my own mind that we must keep fair with him, for we have gone too far to draw back."

"Your daughter advises well," said Quentin Durward, abstaining from reproaches or exhortations, which he saw would be alike unavailing to sway a resolution which had been adopted by the worthy magistrate in compliance at once with the prejudices of his party and the inclination of his wife.

"Your daughter counsels well. -- We must part in disguise, and that instantly. We may, I trust, rely upon you for the necessary secrecy, and for the means of escape?"

"With all my heart -- with all my heart," said the honest citizen, who, not much satisfied with the dignity of his own conduct, was eager to find some mode of atonement. "I cannot but remember that I owed you my life last night, both for unclasping that accursed steel doublet, and helping me through the other scrape, which was worse, for yonder Boar and his brood look more like devils than men. So I will be true to you as blade to haft, as our cutlers say, who are the best in the whole world. Nay, now you are ready, come this way -- you shall see how far I can trust you."

The Syndic led him from the chamber in which he had slept to his own counting room, in which he transacted his affairs of business, and after bolting the door, and casting a piercing and careful eye around him, he opened a concealed and vaulted closet behind the tapestry, in which stood more than one iron chest. He proceeded to open one which was full of guilders, and placed it at Quentin's discretion to take whatever sum he might think necessary for his companion's expenses and his own.

As the money with which Quentin was furnished on leaving Plessis was now nearly expended, he hesitated not to accept the sum of two hundred guilders, and by doing so took a great weight from the mind of Pavillon, who considered the desperate transaction in which he thus voluntarily became the creditor as an atonement for the breach of hospitality which various considerations in a great measure compelled him to commit.

Having carefully locked his treasure chamber, the wealthy Fleming next conveyed his guest to the parlour, where, in full possession of her activity of mind and body, though pale from the scenes of the preceding night, he found the Countess attired in the fashion of a Flemish maiden of the middling class. No other was present excepting Trudchen, who was sedulously employed in completing the Countess's dress, and instructing her how to bear herself. She extended her hand to him, which, when he had reverently kissed, she said to him, "Seignior Quentin, we must leave our friends here unless I would bring on them a part of the misery which has pursued me ever since my father's death. You must change your dress and go with me, unless you also are tired of befriending a being so unfortunate."

"I! -- I tired of being your attendant! -- To the end of the earth will I guard you! But you -- you yourself -- are you equal to the task you undertake! -- Can you, after the terrors of last night"

"Do not recall them to my memory," answered the Countess, "I remember but the confusion of a horrid dream. -- Has the excellent Bishop escaped?"

"I trust he is in freedom," said Quentin, making a sign to Pavillon, who seemed about to enter on the dreadful narrative, to be silent.

"Is it possible for us to rejoin him? -- Hath he gathered any power?" said the lady.

"His only hopes are in Heaven," said the Scot, "but wherever you wish to go, I stand by your side, a determined guide and guard."

"We will consider," said Isabelle, and after a moment's pause, she added, "A convent would be my choice, but that I fear it would prove a weak defence against those who pursue me."

"Hem! hem!" said the Syndic, "I could not well recommend a convent within the district of Liege, because the Boar of Ardennes, though in the main a brave leader, a trusty confederate, and a well wisher to our city, has, nevertheless, rough humours, and payeth, on the whole, little regard to cloisters, convents, nunneries, and the like. Men say that there are a score of nuns -- that is, such as were nuns -- who march always with his company."

"Get yourself in readiness hastily, Seignior Durward," said Isabelle, interrupting this detail, "since to your faith I must needs commit myself."

No sooner had the Syndic and Quentin left the room than Isabelle began to ask of Gertrude various questions concerning the roads, and so forth, with such clearness of spirit and pertinence, that the latter could not help exclaiming, "Lady, I wonder at you! -- I have heard of masculine firmness, but yours appears to me more than belongs to humanity."

"Necessity," answered the Countess, -- "necessity, my friend, is the mother of courage, as of invention. No long time since, I might have fainted when I saw a drop of blood shed from a trifling cut -- I have since seen life blood flow around me, I may say, in waves, yet I have retained my senses and my self possession. -- Do not think it was an easy task," she added, laying on Gertrude's arm a trembling hand, although she still spoke with a firm voice, "the little world within me is like a garrison besieged by a thousand foes, whom nothing but the most determined resolution can keep from storming it on every hand, and at every moment. Were my situation one whit less perilous than it is -- were I not sensible that my only chance to escape a fate more horrible than death is to retain my recollection and self possession -- Gertrude, I would at this moment throw myself into your arms, and relieve my bursting bosom by such a transport of tears and agony of terror as never rushed from a breaking heart."

"Do not do so, lady!" said the sympathizing Fleming, "take courage, tell your beads, throw yourself on the care of Heaven, and surely, if ever Heaven sent a deliverer to one ready to perish, that bold and adventurous young gentleman must be designed for yours. There is one, too," she added, blushing deeply, "in whom I have some interest. Say nothing to my father, but I have ordered my bachelor, Hans Glover, to wait for you at the eastern gate, and never to see my face more, unless he brings word that he has guided you safe from the territory."

To kiss her tenderly was the only way in which the young Countess could express her thanks to the frank and kind hearted city maiden, who returned the embrace affectionately, and added, with a smile, "Nay, if two maidens and their devoted bachelors cannot succeed in a disguise and an escape, the world is changed from what I am told it wont to be."

A part of this speech again called the colour into the Countess's pale cheeks, which was not lessened by Quentin's sudden appearance. He entered completely attired as a Flemish boor of the better class, in the holyday suit of Peter, who expressed his interest in the young Scot by the readiness with which he parted with it for his use, and swore, at the same time, that, were he to be curried and tugged worse than ever was bullock's hide, they should make nothing out of him, to the betraying of the young folks. Two stout horses had been provided by the activity of Mother Mabel, who really desired the Countess and her attendant no harm, so that she could make her own house and family clear of the dangers which might attend upon harbouring them. She beheld them mount and go off with great satisfaction, after telling them that they would find their way to the east gate by keeping their eye on Peter, who was to walk in that direction as their guide, but without holding any visible communication with them. The instant her guests had departed, Mother Mabel took the opportunity to read a long practical lecture to Trudchen upon the folly of reading romances, whereby the flaunting ladies of the Court were grown so bold and venturous, that, instead of applying to learn some honest housewifery, they must ride, forsooth, a-damsel erranting through the country, with no better attendant than some idle squire, debauched page, or rake belly archer from foreign parts, to the great danger of their health, the impoverishing of their substance, and the irreparable prejudice of their reputation. All this Gertrude heard in silence, and without reply, but, considering her character, it might be doubted whether she derived from it the practical inference which it was her mother's purpose to enforce. Meantime, the travellers had gained the eastern gate of the city, traversing crowds of people, who were fortunately too much busied in the political events and rumours of the hour to give any attention to a couple who had so little to render their appearance remarkable. They passed the guards in virtue of a permission obtained for them by Pavillon, but in the name of his colleague Rouslaer, and they took leave of Peter Geislaer with a friendly though brief exchange of good wishes on either side.

Immediately afterwards, they were joined by a stout young man, riding a good gray horse, who presently made himself known as Hans Glover, the bachelor of Trudchen Pavillon. He was a young fellow with a good Flemish countenance -- not, indeed, of the most intellectual cast, but arguing more hilarity and good humour than wit, and, as the Countess could not help thinking, scarce worthy to be bachelor to the generous Trudchen. He seemed, however, fully desirous to second the views which she had formed in their favour, for, saluting them respectfully, he asked of the Countess, in Flemish, on which road she desired to be conducted.

"Guide me," said she, "towards the nearest town on the frontiers of Brabant."

"You have then settled the end and object of your journey," said Quentin, approaching his horse to that of Isabelle, and speaking French, which their guide did not understand.

"Surely," replied the young lady, "for, situated as I now am, it must be of no small detriment to me if I were to prolong a journey in my present circumstances, even though the termination should be a rigorous prison."

"A prison," said Quentin.

"Yes, my friend, a prison, but I will take care that you shall not share it."

"Do not talk -- do not think of me," said Quentin. "Saw I you but safe, my own concerns are little worth minding."

"Do not speak so loud," said the Lady Isabelle, "you will surprise our guide -- you see he has already rode on before us," -- for, in truth, the good natured Fleming, doing as he desired to be done by, had removed from them the constraint of a third person, upon Quentin's first motion towards the lady.

"Yes," she continued, when she noticed they were free from observation, "to you, my friend, my protector -- why should I be ashamed to call you what Heaven has made you to me? -- to you it is my duty to say that my resolution is taken to return to my native country, and to throw myself on the mercy of the Duke of Burgundy. It was mistaken, though well meant advice, which induced me ever to withdraw from his protection, and place myself under that of the crafty and false Louis of France."

"And you resolve to become the bride, then, of the Count of Campobasso, the unworthy favourite of Charles?"

Thus spoke Quentin, with a voice in which internal agony struggled with his desire to assume an indifferent tone, like that of the poor condemned criminal, when, affecting a firmness which he is far from feeling, he asks if the death warrant be arrived.

"No, Durward, no," said the Lady Isabelle, sitting up erect in her saddle, "to that hated condition all Burgundy's power shall not sink a daughter of the House of Croye. Burgundy may seize on my lands and fiefs, he may imprison my person in a convent, but that is the worst I have to expect, and worse than that I will endure ere I give my hand to Campobasso."

"The worst?" said Quentin, "and what worse can there be than plunder and imprisonment? -- Oh, think, while you have God's free air around you, and one by your side who will hazard life to conduct you to England, to Germany, even to Scotland, in all of which you shall find generous protectors. -- - Oh, while this is the case, do not resolve so rashly to abandon the means of liberty, the best gift that Heaven gives! -- Oh, well sang a poet of my own land --

"Ah, freedom is a noble thing -- Freedom makes men to have liking -- Freedom the zest to pleasure gives -- He lives at ease who freely lives. Grief, sickness, poortith (poverty), want, are all Summ'd up within the name of thrall."

(from Barbour's Bruce)

She listened with a melancholy smile to her guide's tirade in praise of liberty, and then answered, after a moment's pause. "Freedom is for man alone -- woman must ever seek a protector, since nature made her incapable to defend herself. And where am I to find one? -- In that voluptuary Edward of England -- in the inebriated Wenceslaus of Germany -- in Scotland? -- Ah, Durward, were I your sister, and could you promise me shelter in some of those mountain glens which you love to describe where, for charity, or for the few jewels I have preserved, I might lead an unharrassed life, and forget the lot I was born to -- could you promise me the protection of some honoured matron of the land -- of some baron whose heart was as true as his sword -- that were indeed a prospect, for which it were worth the risk of farther censure to wander farther and wider."

There was a faltering tenderness of voice with which the Countess Isabelle made this admission that at once filled Quentin with a sensation of joy, and cut him to the very heart. He hesitated a moment ere he made an answer, hastily reviewing in his mind the possibility there might be that he could procure her shelter in Scotland, but the melancholy truth rushed on him that it would be alike base and cruel to point out to her a course which he had not the most distant power or means to render safe.

"Lady," he said at last, "I should act foully against my honour and oath of chivalry, did I suffer you to ground any plan upon the thoughts that I have the power in Scotland to afford you other protection than that of the poor arm which is now by your side. I scarce know that my blood flows in the veins of an individual who now lives in my native land. The Knight of Innerquharity stormed our Castle at midnight, and cut off all that belonged to my name. Were I again in Scotland, our feudal enemies are numerous and powerful, I single and weak, and even had the King a desire to do me justice, he dared not, for the sake of redressing the wrongs of a poor individual, provoke a chief who rides with five hundred horse."

"Alas!" said the Countess, "there is then no corner of the world safe from oppression, since it rages as unrestrained amongst those wild hills which afford so few objects to covet as in our rich and abundant lowlands!"

"It is a sad truth, and I dare not deny it," said the Scot, "that for little more than the pleasure of revenge, and the lust of bloodshed, our hostile clans do the work of executioners on each other, and Ogilvies and the like act the same scenes in Scotland as De la Marck and his robbers do in this country."

"No more of Scotland, then," said Isabelle, with a tone of indifference, either real or affected -- "no more of Scotland, -- which indeed I mentioned but in jest, to see if you really dared to recommend to me, as a place of rest, the most distracted kingdom in Europe. It was but a trial of your sincerity, which I rejoice to see may be relied on, even when your partialities are most strongly excited. So, once more, I will think of no other protection than can be afforded by the first honourable baron holding of Duke Charles, to whom I am determined to render myself."

"And why not rather betake yourself to your own estates, and to your own strong castle, as you designed when at Tours?" said Quentin. "Why not call around you the vassals of your father, and make treaty with Burgundy, rather than surrender yourself to him? Surely there must be many a bold heart that would fight in your cause, and I know at least of one who would willingly lay down his life to give example."

"Alas," said the Countess, "that scheme, the suggestion of the crafty Louis, and, like all which he ever suggested, designed more for his advantage than for mine, has become practicable, since it was betrayed to Burgundy by the double traitor Zamet Hayraddin. My kinsman was then imprisoned, and my houses garrisoned. Any attempt of mine would but expose my dependents to the vengeance of Duke Charles, and why should I occasion more bloodshed than has already taken place on so worthless an account? No. I will submit myself to my Sovereign as a dutiful vassal, in all which shall leave my personal freedom of choice uninfringed, the rather that I trust my kinswoman, the Countess Hameline, who first counselled, and indeed urged my flight, has already taken this wise and honourable step."

"Your kinswoman!" repeated Quentin, awakened to recollections to which the young Countess was a stranger, and which the rapid succession of perilous and stirring events had, as matters of nearer concern, in fact banished from his memory.

"Ay -- my aunt -- the Countess Hameline of Croye -- know you aught of her?" said the Countess Isabelle. "I trust she is now under the protection of the Burgundian banner. You are silent. Know you aught of her?"

The last question, urged in a tone of the most anxious inquiry, obliged Quentin to give some account of what he knew of the Countess's fate. He mentioned that he had been summoned to attend her in a flight from Liege, which he had no doubt the Lady Isabelle would be partaker in -- he mentioned the discovery that had been made after they had gained the forest -- and finally, he told his own return to the castle, and the circumstances in which he found it. But he said nothing of the views with which it was plain the Lady Hameline had left the Castle of Schonwaldt, and as little about the floating report of her having fallen into the hands of William de la Marck. Delicacy prevented his even hinting at the one, and regard for the feelings of his companion at a moment when strength and exertion were most demanded of her, prevented him from alluding to the latter, which had, besides, only reached him as a mere rumour.

This tale, though abridged of those important particulars, made a strong impression on the Countess Isabelle, who, after riding some time in silence, said at last, with a tone of cold displeasure, "And so you abandoned my unfortunate relative in a wild forest, at the mercy of a vile Bohemian and a traitorous waiting woman? -- Poor kinswoman, thou wert wont to praise this youth's good faith!"

"Had I not done so, madam." said Quentin, not unreasonably offended at the turn thus given to his gallantry, "what had been the fate of one to whose service I was far more devotedly bound? Had I not left the Countess Hameline of Croye to the charge of those whom she had herself selected as counsellors and advisers, the Countess Isabelle had been ere now the bride of William de la Marck, the Wild Boar of Ardennes."

"You are right," said the Countess Isabelle, in her usual manner, "and I, who have the advantage of your unhesitating devotion, have done you foul and ungrateful wrong. But oh, my unhappy kinswoman! and the wretch Marthon, who enjoyed so much of her confidence, and deserved it so little -- it was she that introduced to my kinswoman the wretched Zamet and Hayraddin Maugrabin, who, by their pretended knowledge of soothsaying and astrology, obtained a great ascendancy over her mind, it was she who, strengthening their predictions, encouraged her in -- I know not what to call them -- delusions concerning matches and lovers, which my kinswoman's age rendered ungraceful and improbable. I doubt not that, from the beginning, we had been surrounded by these snares by Louis of France, in order to determine us to take refuge at his Court, or rather to put ourselves into his power, after which rash act on our part, how unkingly, unknightly, ignobly, ungentlemanlike, he hath conducted himself towards us, you, Quentin Durward, can bear witness. But, alas! my kinswoman -- what think you will be her fate?"

Endeavouring to inspire hopes which he scarce felt, Durward answered that the avarice of these people was stronger than any other passion, that Marthon, even when he left them, seemed to act rather as the Lady Hameline's protectress, and in fine, that it was difficult to conceive any object these wretches could accomplish by the ill usage or murder of the Countess, whereas they might be gainers by treating her well, and putting her to ransom.

To lead the Countess Isabelle's thoughts from this melancholy subject, Quentin frankly told her the treachery of the Maugrabin, which he had discovered in the night quarter near Namur, and which appeared the result of an agreement betwixt the King and William de la Marck. Isabelle shuddered with horror, and then recovering herself said, "I am ashamed, and I have sinned in permitting myself so far to doubt of the saints' protection, as for an instant to have deemed possible the accomplishment of a scheme so utterly cruel, base, and dishonourable, while there are pitying eyes in Heaven to look down on human miseries. It is not a thing to be thought of with fear or abhorrence, but to be rejected as such a piece of incredible treachery and villainy, as it were atheism to believe could ever be successful. But I now see plainly why that hypocritical Marthon often seemed to foster every seed of petty jealousy or discontent betwixt my poor kinswoman and myself, whilst she always mixed with flattery, addressed to the individual who was present, whatever could prejudice her against her absent kinswoman. Yet never did I dream she could have proceeded so far as to have caused my once affectionate kinswoman to have left me behind in the perils of Schonwaldt, while she made her own escape."

"Did the Lady Hameline not mention to you, then," said Quentin, "her intended flight?"

"No," replied the Countess, "but she alluded to some communication which Marthon was to make to me. To say truth, my poor kinswoman's head was so turned by the mysterious jargon of the miserable Hayraddin, whom that day she had admitted to a long and secret conference, and she threw out so many strange hints that -- that -- in short, I cared not to press on her, when in that humour, for any explanation. Yet it was cruel to leave me behind her."

"I will excuse the Lady Hameline from intending such unkindness," said Quentin, "for such was the agitation of the moment, and the darkness of the hour, that I believe the Lady Hameline as certainly conceived herself accompanied by her niece, as I at the same time, deceived by Marthon's dress and demeanour, supposed I was in the company of both the Ladies of Croye: and of her especially," he added, with a low but determined voice, "without whom the wealth of worlds would not have tempted me to leave."

Isabelle stooped her head forward, and seemed scarce to hear the emphasis with which Quentin had spoken. But she turned her face to him again when he began to speak of the policy of Louis, and, it was not difficult for them, by mutual communication, to ascertain that the Bohemian brothers, with their accomplice Marthon, had been the agents of that crafty monarch, although Zamet, the elder of them, with a perfidy peculiar to his race, had attempted to play a double game, and had been punished accordingly. In the same humour of mutual confidence, and forgetting the singularity of their own situation, as well as the perils of the road, the travellers pursued their journey for several hours, only stopping to refresh their horses at a retired dorff, or hamlet, to which they were conducted by Hans Glover, who, in all other respects, as well as in leaving them much to their own freedom in conversation, conducted himself like a person of reflection and discretion.

Meantime, the artificial distinction which divided the two lovers (for such we may now term them) seemed dissolved, or removed, by the circumstances in which they were placed, for if the Countess boasted the higher rank, and was by birth entitled to a fortune incalculably larger than that of the youth, whose revenue lay in his sword, it was to be considered that, for the present, she was as poor as he, and for her safety, honour, and life, exclusively indebted to his presence of mind, valour, and devotion. They spoke not indeed of love, for though the young lady, her heart full of gratitude and confidence, might have pardoned such a declaration, yet Quentin, on whose tongue there was laid a check, both by natural timidity and by the sentiments of chivalry, would have held it an unworthy abuse of her situation had he said anything which could have the appearance of taking undue advantage of the opportunities which it afforded them. They spoke not then of love, but the thoughts of it were on both sides unavoidable, and thus they were placed in that relation to each other, in which sentiments of mutual regard are rather understood than announced, and which, with the freedoms which it permits, and the uncertainties that attend it, often forms the most delightful hours of human existence, and as frequently leads to those which are darkened by disappointment, fickleness, and all the pains of blighted hope and unrequited attachment.

It was two hours after noon, when the travellers were alarmed by the report of the guide, who, with paleness and horror in his countenance, said that they were pursued by a party of De la Marck's Schwarzreiters. These soldiers, or rather banditti, were bands levied in the Lower Circles of Germany, and resembled the lanzknechts in every particular, except that the former acted as light cavalry. To maintain the name of Black Troopers, and to strike additional terror into their enemies, they usually rode on black chargers, and smeared with black ointment their arms and accoutrements, in which operation their hands and faces often had their share. In morals and in ferocity these Schwarzreiters emulated their pedestrian brethren the Lanzknechts.

("To make their horses and boots shine, they make themselves as black as colliers. These horsemen wear black clothes, and poor though they be, spend no small time in brushing them. The most of them have black horses, . . . and delight to have their boots and shoes shine with blacking stuff, their hands and faces become black, and thereof they have their foresaid name." . . . Fynes Morrison's Itinerary. -- S.)

On looking back, and discovering along the long level road which they had traversed a cloud of dust advancing, with one or two of the headmost troopers riding furiously in front of it, Quentin addressed his companion: "Dearest Isabelle, I have no weapon left save my sword, but since I cannot fight for you, I will fly with you. Could we gain yonder wood that is before us ere they come up, we may easily find means to escape."

"So be it, my only friend," said Isabelle, pressing her horse to the gallop, "and thou, good fellow," she added, addressing Hans Glover, "get thee off to another road, and do not stay to partake our misfortune and danger."

The honest Fleming shook his head, and answered her generous exhortation, with Nein, nein! das geht nicht (no, no! that must not be), and continued to attend them, all three riding toward the shelter of the wood as fast as their jaded horses could go, pursued, at the same time, by the Schwarzreiters, who increased their pace when they saw them fly. But notwithstanding the fatigue of the horses, still the fugitives being unarmed, and riding lighter in consequence, had considerably the advantage of the pursuers, and were within about a quarter of a mile of the wood, when a body of men at arms, under a knight's pennon, was discovered advancing from the cover, so as to intercept their flight.

"They have bright armour," said Isabelle, "they must be Burgundians. Be they who they will, we must yield to them, rather than to the lawless miscreants who pursue us."

A moment after, she exclaimed, looking on the pennon, "I know the cloven heart which it displays! It is the banner of the Count of Crevecoeur, a noble Burgundian -- to him I will surrender myself."

Quentin Durward sighed, but what other alternative remained, and how happy would he have been but an instant before, to have been certain of the escape of Isabelle, even under worse terms? They soon joined the band of Crevecoeur, and the Countess demanded to speak to the leader, who had halted his party till he should reconnoitre the Black Troopers, and as he gazed on her with doubt and uncertainty, she said, "Noble Count -- Isabelle of Croye, the daughter of your old companion in arms, Count Reinold of Croye, renders herself, and asks protection from your valour for her and hers."

"Thou shalt have it, fair kinswoman, were it against a host -- always excepting my liege lord, of Burgundy. But there is little time to talk of it. These filthy looking fiends have made a halt, as if they intended to dispute the matter. -- By Saint George of Burgundy, they have the insolence to advance against the banner of Crevecoeur! What! will not the knaves be ruled? Damian, my lance! -- Advance banner! -- Lay your spears in the rest! -- Crevecoeur to the Rescue!"

Crying his war cry, and followed by his men at arms, he galloped rapidly forward to charge the Schwarzreiters.

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做我自己也不明白要做的事。

《儒略·凯撒》

虽然快乐、惧怕、疑虑、焦急以及其他种种激情混杂在一起使得那年轻人内心百感交集,但前夜实在是精疲力竭,以至他酣睡不醒,直到第二天很迟的时候才睁开眼睛。这时,他那可敬的主人走了进来,眉目间显示出不安的样子。

他坐在客人床边,就已婚的人处理家务的责任,特别是已婚男子在和妻子意见分歧时有必要保持的夫权和优势进行了一番长时间的复杂的议论。昆丁有些焦虑地听他讲着,因为他明白,做丈夫的也像别的一些好战分子一样,有时喜欢唱唱“荣归吾主”的祝捷歌,来掩饰自己的失败,而不是庆祝自己的胜利。他赶忙决定更仔细地摸摸底,看是怎么回事,便说了一句:“希望我们的到来没有给善良的女主人带来麻烦。”

“带来麻烦!不,不,”那市长口答说,“没有哪个女人会像‘梅布尔妈妈’那样好客,那样随时作好接待客人的准备。她总是乐意看到朋友们的到来,为他们安排好清洁的卧室,做好丰盛的饭食,而且吃饭和睡觉时都忘不了给他们带来上帝的祝福。世界上没有哪个女人像她那么殷勤好客。美中不足的是她脾气有点特别。”

“总而言之,是我们住在这儿使她不愉快?”那苏格兰人说道,接着便从床上跳下来,赶忙穿上衣服,“只要我敢肯定伊莎贝尔小姐已经从昨夜的恐怖中恢复过来,可以动身出发的话,我们就不会多停留片刻来增加你们的麻烦。”

“别这样说,”巴维翁讲道,“这话正是那小姐自己对‘梅布尔妈妈’说的。我真希望你看到她说话时脸上泛出的红晕——迎着寒风溜冰去市场卖牛奶的姑娘也远比不上她脸色那么红润。我想,我亲爱的老伴‘梅布尔妈妈’可能有点忌妒哩。”

“伊莎贝尔小姐离开卧室了吗?”那年轻人问道,一边更快地继续他的盥洗。

“是的,”巴维翁回答道,“她正急不可待地等你去见她,好决定你们走哪条路——既然你们两人都坚决要走。不过,我想你们总会吃完早饭再走吧?”

“你怎么不早点对我说呢?”达威特不高兴地说道。

“别急,别急,”那行会主席说,“你看你这么慌张。我真不该这么早就告诉你。假如你有耐心听我讲的话,我还有点事想悄悄对你说哩。”

“尊贵的先生,尽快地说吧。我洗耳恭听。”

“那好吧,”市长继续讲道,“我只想告诉你这么一点,那就是我的特鲁德珍把那美丽的小姐看得像自己的姊妹一样,很舍不得和她分手。她要求你们化化装,因为城里谣传说有两位克罗伊埃仕女穿着朝圣的服装旅行,还有一名法国苏格兰近卫军的卫士陪伴她们。据说其中一位仕女在昨晚我们离开后被一个波希米亚人带进了索恩瓦尔德堡。这个波希米亚人对威廉·德拉马克告发说,你并没有给他,也没给列日市民带什么讯,而是你拐走了年轻的伯爵小姐,做你的情妇,带她私奔。这些话都是今早从索思瓦尔德堡传出来的。我和我的一些同事都听说了。他们也不知道该给我出个什么主意。虽然我们都认为威廉·德拉马克无论对主教还是对我们都做得有点过分,但大家都深信他骨子里还是个好人——当然是指他清醒的时候——而他也是这个世界上能领导我们反抗勃艮第公爵的惟一领袖。说实在的,照目前情况来看,我自己也认为我们得和他搞好关系,因为我们已经走得太远,无法后退了。”

“你女儿的建议很好。”昆丁说道。他不想对他进行任何指责或劝告,因为他知道这些都无法动摇这位可敬的市长根据他同伴们的偏见以及他妻子的意愿作出的决定。“你女儿的忠告不错——我们得化装,而且得马上走。我想我们能信赖你为我们保守必要的秘密,并给我们提供逃跑的手段吧?”

“不成问题,不成问题。”那诚实的市民说道。由于他对自己这种有失体面的表现不很满意,所以他也很想找到某种途径来表示歉意。“我忘不了你昨晚救了我的命。一是给我解开了那该死的铠甲,二是帮我渡过了那更为糟糕的困境。当时那野猪和他的猪秽简直像魔鬼,不像人。所以我将对你绝对忠实,就像我们世界上第一流的刀匠说的那样,犹如刀柄对刀刃那样忠实。你准备好了,就跟我来一下。你将看到我能为你作的安排。”

那行会主席领着他从卧室走到他处理商务的账房。他闩上门,小心敏锐地望望四周,然后打开挂毯后面一个穹形的暗室。里面藏有好几个铁柜。他打开了其中一个装满了钱币的柜子,任随昆丁取出他和他女伴一路上必须花的钱。

昆丁离开普莱西时领的钱已快花光,所以他毫不犹豫地拿了两百盾钱币。这样才大大减轻了巴维翁的内疚。他把这主动接济客人的事情看作是对自己违背主人留客这一原则的补偿,而根据种种考虑,他在很大程度上是不得不如此的。

小心翼翼地锁好他的宝库之后,这位可敬的弗兰德人便把客人带进客厅。在客厅里昆丁看见伯爵小姐已打扮成一个中产阶级家庭的弗兰德少女模样。虽然昨夜的遭遇留下的影响还使她有些苍白,但她的身体和精神都显得十分活跃。只有特鲁德珍一个人在客厅里,细心周到地帮助伯爵小姐完成每个细节,并教给她与服装打扮相适应的姿态。伯爵小姐把手伸给昆丁。当他恭敬地吻了她的手之后,她对他说道:“昆丁先生,我们得离开我们这儿的朋友,否则我就会把我父亲死后一直跟踪着我的一部分灾难转嫁给他们。要是你没有对救助一个不幸的人感到厌倦的话,请你也换上装束跟我走。”

“我!我会讨厌当你的随从?!不,你就是走到天涯海角,我也要跟着你,保护你!不过,你——你这样做身体吃得消吗?经过昨晚的恐怖,你还能够——”

“别叫我再想起那些事,’伯爵小妞说道,“我只记得一些恶梦般的模糊不清的东西。那善良的主教逃出来了吗?”

“我想他应该自由了。”昆丁说道。他看到巴维翁像要讲述那个恐怖事件,便赶忙使了个眼色叫他别开口。

“我们能去找他吗?他有没有聚集一些人马?”那少女问道。

“他只寄希望于天堂,”那苏格兰人回答说,“不过,不管你去哪儿,我都会站在你身边做你忠实的向导和保镖的。”

“让我们考虑考虑吧!”伊莎贝尔说道。停了片刻她又补充了一句:“我最好是进修道院。不过我担心修道院挡不住想要迫害我的人。”

“哼!哼!”那行会主席说道,“我可不赞成你去列日地区的任何一个修道院,因为那‘阿登内斯野猪’一般说来是个勇敢的魁首。可靠的盟友,对列日城也抱有善意,但他脾气粗暴,把寺院、修道院、女修道院等等很不放在眼里。人们说经常有一二十个修女——我是说,修女这一类的人——跟随他的部队行军。”

“达威特先生,你马上准备动身吧。”伊莎贝尔打断他说,“我能依靠的只有你的忠诚了。”

昆丁和行会主席一走出房门,伊莎贝尔便立刻向格特鲁德详细打听有关道路等等情况;他头脑非常清醒,而且问得十分恰当,以至那行会主席的女儿不禁叫了起来:“小姐,我真佩服你!我听人谈到过男子的坚定。但在我看来,你的坚定却超过了几人。”

“是逼出来的,’伊莎贝尔回答道,“我的朋友,环境逼迫人去发明,也逼迫人产生勇气。不久以前,我看到一个小伤口淌血还会晕倒过去。但如今我已见过我周围可说是血流成河,但我还是保持了我的镇定和清醒的头脑。别以为这是件容易的事。”她把一只颤抖的手搁在格特鲁德胳膊上,仍然以一种坚定的声音继续说道,“我的内心世界就像遭到千万个敌人包围的城堡,只有最坚强的决心才能每时每刻抵挡住各方面敌人的袭击。要是我的处境稍好一点——要不是我意识到我逃脱一种比死亡更可怕的命运的惟一机会就在于保持清醒和镇定——格特鲁德哟,我会马上投入你的怀抱,让我破碎的心灵用泪雨尽情倾泻出悲痛和恐惧,来舒解我这快要爆裂的心胸!”

“小姐,可别这样,”那深表同情的弗兰德姑娘说道,“鼓起勇气,多作祷告,把自己托付给上帝保佑吧!说真的,如果上帝派遣使者来拯救垂危的人们,那么那位勇敢大胆的年轻绅士一定是上帝派来拯救你的。我也有个意中人,”她羞得满脸通红,“你可别告诉我父亲,我已经吩咐我的汉斯·格洛弗在东门口等你们,并告诉他,除非他带信来说,已经平安地带领你们离开了这个地方,否则就休想再来见我。”

年轻的伯爵小姐只能通过亲吻来表达她对这坦率善良的城市姑娘的感激。那姑娘也深情地拥抱了她,并微笑着补充说:“哼,要是两个少女加上她们忠实的骑士都不能使一次化装出逃得以成功的话,那这个世界真和往常大不一样了。”

这句话有一部分内容使得伯爵小姐苍白的面孔又染上了红晕,而由于昆丁的突然出现,这害羞的脸色更是有增无减。他打扮得完全像个纨绔子弟,穿着一套弗兰德讲究的礼服。这是彼得为了表示他对年轻的苏格兰人的好感十分乐意地分给他穿的。他还保证说,要是人们把他比牛皮更厉害地鞣来鞣去,他们也发现不出足以暴露两个年轻人身份的破绽。“梅布尔妈妈”忙着找来了两匹强壮的马。其实她对伯爵小姐及其随从并无恶意。她不过想使自己的家避免窝藏他们而带来的危险。她十分满意地看到他们上马出发。在这之前,她已告诉他们,彼得将领他们朝东门的方向走,但不会明显地和他们打招呼,所以他们得留心看着他。

客人一走,“梅布尔妈妈”便利用这个机会对特鲁德珍就阅读恋爱小说的愚蠢进行了一次长时间的、具有现实意义的说教。她说阅读这些小说的结果,使得宫廷爱好虚荣的仕女们不去老实地学习家务活,而是在一个无聊的扈从、放荡的仆役,或某个浪荡的外国射手的陪伴下骑马周游列国,这样既大大地危害了她们的健康,消耗了她们的资财,也无可挽回地损害了她们的名誉。

格特鲁德静静地听着,没作回答。不过,考虑到她的性格,她究竟能不能由此得出她母亲指望她作出的有现实意义的结论,则很值得怀疑。

让我们回过头来看看那两个出门的旅客吧。他们穿过人群来到了东城门。幸好人们都在忙于谈论时事和谣传,没注意这对外表颇为寻常的年轻人。他们依靠巴维翁以他同事卢斯拉尔的名义为他们搞到的通行证通过了守城的岗哨,然后与彼得·盖斯勒尔简短而友好地交换了良好的祝愿,表示惜别。他们没走多远便看到有个健壮的年轻人骑着一匹灰马向他们赶来。他马上自我介绍说他就是特鲁德珍·巴维翁的骑士汉斯·格洛弗。这年轻人长有一副漂亮的弗兰德人的面孔;固然不是绝顶聪明的样子,但给人一种快活爽朗、又并不机灵过头的印象。不过,就伯爵小姐难免产生的一种看法来说,似乎他给那慷慨大方的特鲁德珍作骑士稍稍逊色了点。看来他很希望表示出他非常赞同他的女友对他们怀抱的好感。他客气地向他们敬了个礼,然后用弗兰德语问伯爵小姐,她想叫他领着走哪一条路。

“你领我去最靠近布拉邦特边境的某个城市吧。”她说道。

“这么说,你已经决定了你的目的地?”昆丁骑到前面和伊莎贝尔并排走着,用向导所不懂的法语问道。

“是的,”年轻的小姐回答说,“因为,我目前的处境既然如此,那么即使最后的归宿是可怕的监狱,我也不能照我现在这个样子继续走下去,因为这对我十分不利。”

“监狱!”昆丁叫道。

“是的,我的朋友,是监狱。不过我会留意不让你也落进监狱的。”

“别讲我——别考虑我,”昆丁说道,“我只想看到你平安无事,我自己的事是不值得操心的。”

“别说这么响,”伊莎贝尔小姐说,“你会叫向导莫名其妙的——你瞧他已经骑到我们前面去了。”的确,那好心的弗兰德人,按照“己所不欲,勿施于人”之道,一看见昆丁向小姐走来,便让他们独自在一起,以免感受到第三者在场的拘束。“是的,”看到向导不注意他们,她又继续说,“对你,我的朋友和保护者——既然上帝要你做我的朋友和保护者,我为什么要不好意思这么称呼你呢?我有责任坦白地说,我决心已下,返回故乡,求勃艮第公爵宽恕。我是受到一个善意的错误劝告的影响才摆脱了他的保护,而跑去接受那奸滑的路易王的保护的。”

“那么你是决定要嫁给查尔斯那个鄙劣的宠臣康波·巴索啰?”

昆丁就像一个被判死刑的人装出一副坚定表情讯问是否已下达行刑令那样,用一种想掩饰内心痛苦而强装无所谓的声调这样问道。

“不是这样,达威特,不是这样,”伊莎贝尔小姐在马鞍上挺直身子说道,“勃艮第动用其全部力量也休想叫克罗依埃的女儿接受这样一种可惜的状况。勃艮第可以没收我的田产和封地,也可以把我监禁在修道院里。不过,我想他充其量也只能如此。但我宁可忍受比这更恶劣的遭遇也不愿嫁给康波·巴索。”

“充其量只能如此!”昆丁说道,“请问,还有什么能比掠夺和监禁更糟糕的呢?唉,趁你还吸着上帝的自由空气,趁你身边还有个保护你的人,你再考虑考虑吧。我可以不惜冒生命危险护送你去英国、德国,甚至去苏格兰。在这些国家你都可以找到愿意给予你慷慨保护的人。情况既然如此,你就不要轻率地决定放弃上帝赋与人们的最美好的东西——自由。我们苏格兰有位诗人唱得好:

“自由是个美好的东西,

自由使人对生活产生感情,

自由使快乐增添风趣,

自由生活的人生活得最安逸。

悲哀、疾病、贫困和贪婪,

都可以概括为不自由的奴役。”

她带着忧伤的微笑倾听他的向导这番赞美自由的议论。过了一会她才回答说:“自由只给男人享受。可女人总是得寻求保护者,因为她们天生无法保护自己。我能在哪儿找到一个保护者呢?在英国那骄侈淫逸的爱德华的宫廷?在德国那醉鬼般的温塞劳斯的宫殿?在苏格兰?唉,达威特,但愿我是你的妹妹,你能答应在你很喜欢向我介绍的某个苏格兰山谷里给我找到一个栖身之所,我可以依靠别人的施舍或我保存的一点珠宝,过一过宁静的生活,忘掉我生来注定的命运。但愿你能保证给我找到当地某个尊敬的主妇,或某个为人忠实、势力强大的男爵做我的保护人——这个前景倒是值得冒冒继续让人非议的风险,再往远处流浪!”

伊莎贝尔小姐在倾吐这个想法时声音很亲切,有些颤抖,这使得昆丁既高兴,又很伤心。回答之前他先迟疑了一阵,匆忙估量了一下在苏格兰给她找个地方避难的可能性。然而,可悲的事实迫使他承认,指引她走一条他自己毫无能力保证其安全的道路是既卑鄙又残忍的。“小姐,”他终于说道,“要是我让你根据我在苏格兰有能力为你提供保护的设想来拟定你的计划,那我就卑鄙地践踏了我的荣誉,违反了我的骑士誓言。事实上,除开正走在你身旁的我能给你不足挂齿的帮助以外,我没法在苏格兰为你提供别的保护。我无法肯定在苏格兰还有我的亲人活了下来。因纳居哈里特族的骑士在半夜袭击了我们的城堡,杀死了我们家族的全部成员。要是我回到苏格兰,我家的世仇人数众多,实力雄厚,而我却单枪匹马,力量微薄。即使国王有心给我撑腰,他也不敢为了替一个可怜的年轻人主持公道而得罪一个有五百人马的酋长。”

“哎呀,”伯爵小姐说道,“既然没有多少财富值得贪图的穷山沟也像我们富饶的低地平原一样,欺压者横行霸道,这世界上真找不出一个不受压迫的角落了。”

“我无法否认的一个不幸的事实就在于,我们敌对的部族互相残杀,只不过是为了得到一点复仇的乐趣,满足一下嗜杀的欲望。”那苏格兰人说道,“德拉马克及其匪徒在这个国家的强盗行径和奥吉维之流在苏格兰的所作所为如出一辙。”

“那就别再提苏格兰了,”伊莎贝尔用一种真假难辨的不在乎的口吻说道,“别再提苏格兰了。我只不过是出于好奇,看你是否真会把那欧洲最混乱的国家推荐给我作栖身之地。这只是考验考验你的真诚,而我高兴地看到你的忠诚完全可以信赖——即使在最能激起你对苏格兰的偏爱时,也可以信赖。得了,别的保护我一概不考虑了。我决心投靠我们最先碰到的一位查尔斯公爵属下的体面贵族,请求他的保护。”

“那你为什么不像你在图尔打算的那样,去你自己的庄园,住进你自己坚固的城堡呢?”昆丁说道,“为什么不把你父亲的臣属聚集拢来,和勃艮第订个条约,而要去归顺他呢?肯定有许多勇士愿为你而战斗。我知道至少有一个人乐意献出自己的生命来作出一个榜样。”

“哎呀,”伯爵小姐说道,“这本是狡猾的路易王提出的一个计划。但也像他提出过的别的建议一样,主要是着眼于他自己的利益,而不是考虑我的利益。由于那奸人扎迈特·毛格拉宾把它泄露给了勃艮第,现在已行不通了。我的亲戚被他监禁,我的住宅也被看管起来。任何别的尝试也只会使我的亲属遭到查尔斯公爵的报复。为了这件倒霉的事已经死了好些人,我干吗还要为此引起更多的流血呢?不能这样。我得作为一个忠心的臣属归顺我的君主。只要不侵犯我个人选择的自由,什么都可以服从。特别是因为我相信我的姑母——那位最先建议,甚至催促我逃跑的哈梅琳女士,想必早已采取了这个明智而体面的步骤!”

“你的姑妈!”昆丁若有所思地说道。这时他已回想起伯爵小姐所不知道的一些情况。由于接二连三地发生了一系列惊险而紧急的事件,他早已把这些忘在九霄云外了。

“是的——我姑妈——克罗伊埃·哈梅琳女士——你听到她什么情况吗?”伊莎贝尔小姐说道,“我想她现在已经在勃艮第君权的保护下了。你不说话!你知道什么吗?”

这后一个问题是用十分焦急的询问语气说出来的。这迫使昆丁不得不就这位女士现在的下落讲讲他所知道的情况。他提到他应她的召唤保护她逃出列日——他原以为伊莎贝尔小姐也和她一起出逃。他也谈到他们到达森林以后他的那个偶然发现。最后他还讲到他自己如何返回城堡,以及当时城堡所处的险恶状况。但他没有谈到哈梅琳女士离开索恩瓦尔德城堡时显然要达到的目的,也没谈到她已落到威廉·德拉马克手上的谣传。由于事情难以出口,他甚至没对哈梅琳女士曾对他有过的意图稍加暗示,而在当前正需要他的女伴表现勇气和力量的这个时候,为了照顾她的感情,他也没提到有关哈梅琳女士的上述谣传。再说,他听到的也只是一种谣传。

这一番情况介绍,尽管省略掉了一些重要情节,但仍然对伊莎贝尔产生了强烈印象。她骑着马默默走了一会,最后才以冷冷的不满的口吻说道:“你把我不幸的姑母就这样扔在一个荒林里面,任凭那邪恶的波希米亚人和一个奸狡的特女的摆布?可怜的姑母,你对这年轻人的忠诚还经常赞不绝口哩!”

“要是我不这么做,”昆丁看到自己的殷勤受到如此回报,不免生气地说道,“那么我更有虔诚的义务为之效劳的小姐将命该如何呢?要不是我把克罗伊埃·哈梅琳女士交给她亲自挑选给她当参谋的那两个人照顾,伊莎贝尔小姐想必早已成了‘阿登内斯野猪’——威廉·德拉马克的新娘了。”

“你说得对,”伊莎贝尔小姐平静地说道,“我享有你绝对忠诚的好处,却如此忘恩负义地使你受到委屈。不过,我不幸的姑妈怎么办呢?要知道,这一切都是因为那可恶的玛尔松。我姑妈那么相信她,而她却一点不值得信任!正是她把那该死的扎迈特和海拉丁·毛格拉宾介绍给我姑妈的。这两个家伙吹嘘他们懂得算命和占星术,蒙蔽了她的心灵。也是她为了证实他们的预言,使得我姑妈有了——我真不知如何说好——有关婚姻和爱情的错觉,而这是与她的年龄很不相称,也是很不现实的。我相信,从一开始路易王就给我们设下了这些陷阱,以便诱使我们在他的宫廷里避难,实际上是使我们接受他的控制。在我们采取了这个轻率行动之后,他对我们的态度多么卑鄙,多么有失国王的身份,与骑士和绅士的标准又多么不相称!这些你昆丁·达威特是亲眼看见的。话说回来,我姑妈——你想她会碰到什么不幸呢?”

尽管他对她的前途不抱什么希望,他还是尽量使她不要丧失信心,便回答说,这伙人最强烈的欲望就是贪财;他离开他们时,玛尔松还装出哈梅琳女士保护人的样子;很难想象,这两个坏蛋通过虐待或谋杀那位仕女能达到任何目的;相反,他们对她好,以她为名来勒索一笔赎金,倒能捞到一些好处。

为了使伊莎贝尔小姐的思绪摆脱忧伤,昆丁把那天夜里他在纳穆尔附近发现的毛格拉宾的奸诈计划告诉了她,并说这计划看来是法王和威廉·德拉马克共谋的结果。伊莎贝尔恐惧得颤栗起来。恢复平静之后她说道:“我很愧疚。我竟然怀疑过圣徒给人的保护,偶尔也认为实现这样一种残忍、卑鄙无耻的计划不无可能。但实际上,上苍怜悯的眼睛始终在关注着人世间的不幸。这种事不应使人感到恐惧和憎恨,而应视作一种荒谬的、卑鄙奸诈的行径一笑置之,因为相信它能成功,就简直是不相信上帝的存在。不过,现在我看得很清楚,为什么玛尔松经常在我和可怜的姑妈之间散布无聊的忌妒与不和的种子,并在讨好一个的同时,说另一个的坏话,来达到离间的目的。不过我从没想到她竟然会使得我一度很要好的姑妈在攻打索思瓦尔德最危急的时刻抛下我,独自逃跑。”

“难道哈梅琳女士没跟你说起她打算逃跑吗?”

“没有,”伯爵小姐回答道,“不过她说过,有件事她会让玛尔松转告我。老实告诉你吧,那天姑妈把可恶的海拉丁叫进来进行了长时间的秘密谈话,而那家伙用他神秘的黑话把她搞得头脑发昏。所以——所以——总之,我也不愿在她那种精神状态下缠住她作什么解释。不过,把我扔下不管也未免太狠心了。”

“我倒认为哈梅琳女士并非有意这么狠心,”昆丁说道,“因为当时慌慌乱乱,又加上天很黑,我想哈梅琳女士一定是以为她侄女和她一道跑了出来。说真的,当时我看到玛尔松穿的衣服和姿态,也误以为两位克罗伊埃仕女都和我一道跑了出来——特别是她,”他以一种坚决的口吻低声补充说道,“要没有她,世界上的全部财富也不可能诱使我离开索恩瓦尔德城堡。”

伊莎贝尔低着头,似乎没有听到昆丁讲话中强调的部分。但当他开始谈到路易的策划时,她又把脸转过来对着他。通过互相讨论,他们不难看出,那两个波希米亚兄弟连同他们一伙的玛尔松,一直在充当那个奸诈的国王的奸细。不过哥哥扎迈特受到他们种族所特有的背信弃义习惯的影响,企图耍两面派,结果咎由自取,受到了惩罚。他们彼此吐露知心话,忘掉了他们的特殊处境,也忘掉了旅途的危险,就这样一连走了好几个小时,只是在汉斯·格洛弗领他们来到了某个偏僻的村庄之后才歇下来喂喂马。那年轻人不但避免打扰他们的谈话,而且在别的方面也表现出考虑周到,善于体贴别人。

那隔开了两个情侣(我想,现在我们可以这样称呼他们了)的人为界限也由于他们目前的处境似乎已经消失。伯爵小姐固然拥有更高的地位,并因其高贵的出身有权继承一笔巨大的财产使那身无长物的年轻人相形见细,但值得一提的是,目前他们一样贫穷,并且她的安全、荣誉和生命也完全得依赖于他的镇静、勇敢和忠诚。他们的确没谈到彼此之间的爱慕。尽管伊莎贝尔小姐内心充满了感激和信赖,很可能会原谅对方所作的爱情表白,但受到天生的羞怯和骑士思想影响的昆丁总感觉难以启齿。要是他说了什么话,显得是不正当地利用了给他们提供的这个好机会,那他会责备自己是在利用她目前的处境进行可耻的讹诈。所以他们回避表白爱情,但双方都不可避免地想到爱情。因此他们已处于一种心心相印、心照不宣的关系,这既使得他们摆脱了拘束,但也伴随着捉摸不定的感觉,真说得上是人生最幸福的时刻。然而这种时刻也往往只是一种前奏,继之而来的便是失望、变心、失恋以及希望破灭的种种痛苦。

下午两点钟的时候,两个流亡者吃惊地听到脸色吓得发白的向导说,有一队德拉马克的黑骑兵正在追赶他们。这些士兵,毋宁说是匪徒,原是从下层德国人当中招募来的,在各个方面都与德国长矛手相似,只是他们起着轻骑兵的作用。为了保持黑骑兵的名声,使敌人胆寒,他们通常都骑着黑马;武器装备,连同面孔和双手也都抹上黑色油膏。在道德败坏和凶狠残暴方面这些黑骑兵都和他们的步兵兄弟——长矛手不相上下。

昆丁回过头来,看见一团尘土正沿着他们走过的漫长而平坦的大道飞扬过来。一两个为首的骑兵迅猛地奔在前面。他转过身来对女伴说:“最亲爱的伊莎贝尔,我只剩下一把刀了。既然我无法为你战斗,我愿和你一道逃跑。只要我们能在他们追上来以前赶到那个森林,我们就很容易想法逃掉。”

“就这样吧,我惟一的朋友。”伊莎贝尔说道,一边刺着马奔跑起来:“而你,好伙计,”她又转过头对汉斯·格洛弗说道,“你走那条路吧,别留下来分担我们的不幸和危险了。”

那诚实的弗兰德人摇摇头,连声说“Nein,nein!das geht nichts”来回答她慷慨的劝告,并继续和他们走在一起。三个人骑着疲惫不堪的马尽快朝树林奔去。后面追赶的黑骑兵看见他们奔跑也加快了自己的速度。虽然马已疲乏,但逃亡者无武器装备之累,自然可以轻装前进。所以他们很快就把追赶者大大甩在后



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