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Chapter 29 Recrimination

Thy time is not yet out -- the devil thou servest Has not as yet deserted thee. He aids The friends who drudge for him, as the blind man Was aided by the guide, who lent his shoulder O'er rough and smooth, until he reached the brink Of the fell precipice -- then hurl'd him downward.

OLD PLAY

When obeying the command, or rather the request of Louis -- for he was in circumstances in which, though a monarch, he could only request Le Glorieux to go in search of Martius Galeotti -- the jester had no trouble in executing his commission, betaking himself at once to the best tavern in Peronne, of which he himself was rather more than an occasional frequenter, being a great admirer of that species of liquor which reduced all other men's brains to a level with his own.

He found, or rather observed, the Astrologer in the corner of the public drinking room -- stove, as it is called in German and Flemish, from its principal furniture -- sitting in close colloquy with a female in a singular and something like a Moorish or Asiatic garb, who, as Le Glorieux approached Martius, rose as in the act to depart.

"These," said the stranger, "are news upon which you may rely with absolute certainty," and with that disappeared among the crowd of guests who sat grouped at different tables in the apartment.

"Cousin Philosopher," said the jester, presenting himself, "Heaven no sooner relieves one sentinel than it sends another to supply the place. One fool being gone, here I come another, to guide you to the apartments of Louis of France."

"And art thou the messenger?" said Martius, gazing on him with prompt apprehension, and discovering at once the jester's quality, though less intimated, as we have before noticed, than was usual, by his external appearance.

"Ay, sir, and like your learning," answered Le Glorieux. "When Power sends Folly to entreat the approach of Wisdom, 't is a sure sign what foot the patient halts upon."

"How if I refuse to come, when summoned at so late an hour by such a messenger?" said Galeotti.

"In that case, we will consult your ease, and carry you," said Le Glorieux. "Here are half a score of stout Burgundian yeomen at the door, with whom He of Crevecoeur has furnished me to that effect. For know that my friend Charles of Burgundy and I have not taken away our kinsman Louis's crown, which he was ass enough to put into our power, but have only filed and clipt it a little, and, though reduced to the size of a spangle, it is still pure gold. In plain terms, he is still paramount over his own people, yourself included, and Most Christian King of the old dining hall in the Castle of Peronne, to which you, as his liege subject, are presently obliged to repair."

"I attend you, sir," said Martius Galeotti, and accompanied Le Glorieux accordingly -- seeing, perhaps, that no evasion was possible.

"Ay, sir," said the Fool, as they went towards the Castle, "you do well; for we treat our kinsman as men use an old famished lion in his cage, and thrust him now and then a calf to mumble, to keep his old jaws in exercise."

"Do you mean," said Martius, "that the King intends me bodily injury?"

"Nay, that you can guess better than I," said the jester; "for though the night be cloudy, I warrant you can see the stars through the mist. I know nothing of the matter, not I -- only my mother always told me to go warily near an old rat in a trap, for he was never so much disposed to bite."

The Astrologer asked no more questions, and Le Glorieux, according to the custom of those of his class, continued to run on in a wild and disordered strain of sarcasm and folly mingled together, until he delivered the philosopher to the guard at the Castle gate of Peronne, where he was passed from warder to warder, and at length admitted within Herbert's Tower.

The hints of the jester had not been lost on Martius Galeotti, and he saw something which seemed to confirm them in the look and manner of Tristan, whose mode of addressing him, as he marshalled him to the King's bedchamber, was lowering, sullen, and ominous. A close observer of what passed on earth, as well as among the heavenly bodies, the pulley and the rope also caught the Astrologer's eye; and as the latter was in a state of vibration he concluded that some one who had been busy adjusting it had been interrupted in the work by his sudden arrival. All this he saw, and summoned together his subtilty to evade the impending danger, resolved, should he find that impossible, to defend himself to the last against whomsoever should assail him.

Thus resolved, and with a step and look corresponding to the determination he had taken, Martius presented himself before Louis, alike unabashed at the miscarriage of his predictions, and undismayed at the Monarch's anger, and its probable consequences.

"Every good planet be gracious to your Majesty!" said Galeotti, with an inclination almost Oriental in manner. "Every evil constellation withhold its influence from my royal master!"

"Methinks," replied the King, "that when you look around this apartment, when you think where it is situated, and how guarded, your wisdom might consider that my propitious stars had proved faithless and that each evil conjunction had already done its worst. Art thou not ashamed, Martius Galeotti, to see me here and a prisoner, when you recollect by what assurances I was lured hither?"

"And art thou not ashamed, my royal Sire?" replied the philosopher, "thou, whose step in science was so forward, thy apprehension so quick, thy perseverance so unceasing -- art thou not ashamed to turn from the first frown of fortune, like a craven from the first clash of arms? Didst thou propose to become participant of those mysteries which raise men above the passions, the mischances, the pains, the sorrows of life, a state only to be attained by rivalling the firmness of the ancient Stoic, and dost thou shrink from the first pressure of adversity, and forfeit the glorious prize for which thou didst start as a competitor, frightened out of the course, like a scared racer, by shadowy and unreal evils?"

"Shadowy and unreal! frontless as thou art!" exclaimed the King. "Is this dungeon unreal? -- the weapons of the guards of my detested enemy Burgundy, which you may hear clash at the gate, are those shadows? What, traitor, are real evils, if imprisonment, dethronement, and danger of life are not so?"

"Ignorance -- ignorance, my brother, and prejudice," answered the sage, with great firmness, "are the only real evils. Believe me that Kings in the plenitude of power, if immersed in ignorance and prejudice, are less free than sages in a dungeon, and loaded with material chains. Towards this true happiness it is mine to guide you -- be it yours to attend to my instructions."

"And it is to such philosophical freedom that your lessons would have guided me?" said the King very bitterly. "I would you had told me at Plessis that the dominion promised me so liberally was an empire over my own passions; that the success of which I was assured, related to my progress in philosophy, and that I might become as wise and as learned as a strolling mountebank of Italy! I might surely have attained this mental ascendency at a more moderate price than that of forfeiting the fairest crown in Christendom, and becoming tenant of a dungeon in Peronne! Go, sir, and think not to escape condign punishment. -- There is a Heaven above us!"

"I leave you not to your fate," replied Martius, "until I have vindicated, even in your eyes, darkened as they are, that reputation, a brighter gem than the brightest in thy crown, and at which the world shall wonder, ages after all the race of Capet (the surname of the kings of France, beginning with Hugh Capet, 987) are mouldered into oblivion in the charnels of Saint Denis."

"Speak on," said Louis. "Thine impudence cannot make me change my purposes or my opinion. -- Yet as I may never again pass judgment as a King, I will not censure thee unheard. Speak, then -- though the best thou canst say will be to speak the truth. Confess that I am a dupe, thou an impostor, thy pretended science a dream, and the planets which shine above us as little influential of our destiny as their shadows, when reflected in the river, are capable of altering its course."

"And how know'st thou," answered the Astrologer boldly, "the secret influence of yonder blessed lights? Speak'st thou of their inability to influence waters, when yet thou know'st that ever the weakest, the moon herself -- weakest because nearest to this wretched earth of ours -- holds under her domination not such poor streams as the Somme, but the tides of the mighty ocean itself, which ebb and increase as her disc waxes and wanes, and watch her influence as a slave waits the nod of a Sultana? And now, Louis of Valois, answer my parable in turn. -- Confess, art thou not like the foolish passenger, who becomes wroth with his pilot because he cannot bring the vessel into harbour without experiencing occasionally the adverse force of winds and currents? I could indeed point to thee the probable issue of thine enterprise as prosperous, but it was in the power of Heaven alone to conduct thee thither; and if the path be rough and dangerous, was it in my power to smooth or render it more safe? Where is thy wisdom of yesterday, which taught thee so truly to discern that the ways of destiny are often ruled to our advantage, though in opposition to our wishes?"

"You remind me -- you remind me," said the King hastily, "of one specific falsehood. You foretold yonder Scot should accomplish his enterprise fortunately for my interest and honour; and thou knowest it has so terminated that no more mortal injury could I have received than from the impression which the issue of that affair is like to make on the excited brain of the Mad Bull of Burgundy. This is a direct falsehood. -- Thou canst plead no evasion here -- canst refer to no remote favourable turn of the tide, for which, like an idiot sitting on the bank until the river shall pass away, thou wouldst have me wait contentedly. -- Here thy craft deceived thee. -- Thou wert weak enough to make a specific prediction, which has proved directly false."

"Which will prove most firm and true," answered the Astrologer boldly. "I would desire no greater triumph of art over ignorance, than that prediction and its accomplishment will afford. - I told thee he would be faithful in any honourable commission. -- Hath he not been so? -- I told thee he would be scrupulous in aiding any evil enterprise. -- Hath he not proved so? -- If you doubt it, go ask the Bohemian, Hayraddin Maugrabin."

The King here coloured deeply with shame and anger.

"I told thee," continued the Astrologer, "that the conjunction of planets under which he set forth augured danger to the person -- and hath not his path been beset by danger? -- I told thee that it augured an advantage to the sender -- and of that thou wilt soon have the benefit."

"Soon have the benefit!" exclaimed the King. "Have I not the result already, in disgrace and imprisonment?"

"No," answered the Astrologer, "the End is not as yet -- thine own tongue shall ere long confess the benefit which thou hast received, from the manner in which the messenger bore himself in discharging thy commission."

"This is too -- too insolent," said the King, "at once to deceive and to insult. -- But hence! -- think not my wrongs shall be unavenged. -- There is a Heaven above us!"

Galeotti turned to depart.

"Yet stop," said Louis; "thou bearest thine imposture bravely out. -- Let me hear your answer to one question and think ere you speak. -- Can thy pretended skill ascertain the hour of thine own death?"

"Only by referring to the fate of another," said Galeotti.

"I understand not thine answer," said Louis.

"Know then, O King," said Martius, "that this only I can tell with certainty concerning mine own death, that it shall take place exactly twenty-four hours before that of your Majesty."

(This story appropriated by Scott was told of Tiberius, whose soothsayer made the prediction that his own death would take place three days before that of the Emperor. Louis received a similar reply from a soothsayer, who had foretold the death of one of his favourites. Greatly incensed, he arranged for the death of the soothsayer when he should leave the royal presence after an interview. When Louis questioned him as to the day of his death, the astrologer answere that "it would be exactly three days before that of his Majesty. There was, of course, care taken that he should escape his destined fate, and he was ever after much protected by the King, as a man of real science, and intimately connected with the royal destinies." S. . . . Louis was the slave of his physicians also. Cottier, one of these, was paid a retaining fee of ten thousand crowns, besides great sums in lands and money. "He maintained over Louis unbounded influence, by using to him the most disrespectful harshness and insolence. 'I know,' he said to the suffering King, 'that one morning you will turn me adrift like so many others. But, by Heaven, you had better beware, for you will not live eight days after you have done so!' S.)

"Ha! sayest thou?" said Louis, his countenance again altering. "Hold -- hold -- go not -- wait one moment. -- Saidst thou, my death should follow thine so closely?"

"Within the space of twenty-four hours," repeated Galeotti firmly, "if there be one sparkle of true divination in those bright and mysterious intelligences, which speak, each on their courses, though without a tongue. I wish your Majesty good rest."

"Hold -- hold -- go not," said the King, taking him by the arm, and leading him from the door. "Martius Galeotti, I have been a kind master to thee -- enriched thee -- made thee my friend -- my companion -- the instructor of my studies. -- Be open with me, I entreat you. -- Is there aught in this art of yours in very deed? -- Shall this Scot's mission be, in fact, propitious to me? -- And is the measure of our lives so very -- very nearly matched? Confess, my good Martius, you speak after the trick of your trade. -- Confess, I pray you, and you shall have no displeasure at my hand. I am in years -- a prisoner -- likely to be deprived of a kingdom -- to one in my condition truth is worth kingdoms, and it is from thee, dearest Martius, that I must look for this inestimable jewel."

"And I have laid it before your Majesty," said Galeotti, "at the risk that, in brutal passion, you might turn upon me and rend me."

"Who, I, Galeotti?" replied Louis mildly. "Alas! thou mistakest me! -- Am I not captive -- and should not I be patient, especially since my anger can only show my impotence? -- Tell me then in sincerity. -- Have you fooled me? -- Or is your science true, and do you truly report it?"

"Your Majesty will forgive me if I reply to you," said Martius Galeotti, "that time only -- time and the event, will convince incredulity. It suits ill the place of confidence which I have held at the council table of the renowned conqueror, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary -- nay, in the cabinet of the Emperor himself -- to reiterate assurances of that which I have advanced as true. If you will not believe me, I can but refer to the course of events. A day or two days' patience will prove or disprove what I have averred concerning the young Scot, and I will be contented to die on the wheel, and have my limbs broken joint by joint, if your Majesty have not advantage, and that in a most important degree, from the dauntless conduct of that Quentin Durward. But if I were to die under such tortures, it would be well your Majesty should seek a ghostly father, for, from the moment my last groan is drawn, only twenty-four hours will remain to you for confession and penitence."

Louis continued to keep hold of Galeotti's robe as he led him towards the door, and pronounced, as he opened it, in a loud voice, "Tomorrow we 'll talk more of this. Go in peace, my learned father. -- Go in peace. -- Go in peace!"

He repeated these words three times; and, still afraid that the Provost Marshal might mistake his purpose, he led the Astrologer into the hall, holding fast his robe, as if afraid that he should be torn from him, and put to death before his eyes. He did not unloose his grasp until he had not only repeated again and again the gracious phrase, "Go in peace," but even made a private signal to the Provost Marshal to enjoin a suspension of all proceedings against the person of the Astrologer.

Thus did the possession of some secret information, joined to audacious courage and readiness of wit, save Galeotti from the most imminent danger; and thus was Louis, the most sagacious, as well as the most vindictive, amongst the monarchs of the period, cheated of his revenge by the influence of superstition upon a selfish temper and a mind to which, from the consciousness of many crimes, the fear of death was peculiarly terrible.

He felt, however, considerable mortification at being obliged to relinquish his purposed vengeance, and the disappointment seemed to be shared by his satellites, to whom the execution was to have been committed. Le Balafre alone, perfectly indifferent on the subject, so soon as the countermanding signal was given, left the door at which he had posted himself, and in a few minutes was fast asleep. The Provost Marshal, as the group reclined themselves to repose in the hall after the King retired to his bedchamber, continued to eye the goodly form of the Astrologer with the look of a mastiff watching a joint of meat which the cook had retrieved from his jaws, while his attendants communicated to each other in brief sentences, their characteristic sentiments.

"The poor blinded necromancer," whispered Trois Eschelles, with an air of spiritual unction and commiseration, to his comrade, Petit Andre, "hath lost the fairest chance of expiating some of his vile sorceries, by dying through means of the cord of the blessed Saint Francis, and I had purpose, indeed, to leave the comfortable noose around his neck, to scare the foul fiend from his unhappy carcass."

"And I," said Petit Andre, "have missed the rarest opportunity of knowing how far a weight of seventeen stone will stretch a three plied cord! -- It would have been a glorious experiment in our line -- and the jolly old boy would have died so easily!"

While this whispered dialogue was going forward, Martius, who had taken the opposite side of the huge stone fireplace, round which the whole group was assembled, regarded them askance, and with a look of suspicion. He first put his hand into his vest, and satisfied himself that the handle of a very sharp double edged poniard, which he always carried about him, was disposed conveniently for his grasp; for, as we have already noticed, he was, though now somewhat unwieldy, a powerful, athletic man, and prompt and active at the use of his weapon. Satisfied that this trusty instrument was in readiness, he next took from his bosom a scroll of parchment, inscribed with Greek characters, and marked with cabalistic signs, drew together the wood in the fireplace, and made a blaze by which he could distinguish the features and attitude of all who sat or lay around -- the heavy and deep slumbers of the Scottish soldier, who lay motionless, with rough countenance as immovable as if it were cast in bronze -- the pale and anxious face of Oliver, who at one time assumed the appearance of slumber, and again opened his eyes and raised his head hastily, as if stung by some internal throe, or awakened by some distant sound -- the discontented, savage, bulldog aspect of the Provost, who looked --

"frustrate of his will, not half sufficed, and greedy yet to kill"

-- while the background was filled up by the ghastly, hypocritical countenance of Trois Eschelles -- whose eyes were cast up towards Heaven, as if he was internally saying his devotions -- and the grim drollery of Petit Andre, who amused himself with mimicking the gestures and wry faces of his comrade before he betook himself to sleep.

Amidst these vulgar and ignoble countenances nothing could show to greater advantage than the stately form, handsome mien, and commanding features of the Astrologer, who might have passed for one of the ancient magi, imprisoned in a den of robbers, and about to invoke a spirit to accomplish his liberation. And, indeed, had he been distinguished by nothing else than the beauty of the graceful and flowing beard which descended over the mysterious roll which he held in his hand, one might have been pardoned for regretting that so noble an appendage had been bestowed on one who put both talents, learning, and the advantages of eloquence, and a majestic person, to the mean purposes of a cheat and an imposter.

Thus passed the night in Count Herbert's Tower, in the Castle of Peronne. When the first light of dawn penetrated the ancient Gothic chamber, the King summoned Oliver to his presence, who found the Monarch sitting in his nightgown, and was astonished at the alteration which one night of mortal anxiety had made in his looks. He would have expressed some anxiety on the subject, but the King silenced him by entering into a statement of the various modes by which he had previously endeavoured to form friends at the Court of Burgundy, and which Oliver was charged to prosecute so soon as he should be permitted to stir abroad.

And never was that wily minister more struck with the clearness of the King's intellect, and his intimate knowledge of all the springs which influence human actions, than he was during that memorable consultation.

About two hours afterwards, Oliver accordingly obtained permission from the Count of Crevecoeur to go out and execute the commissions which his master had intrusted him with, and Louis, sending for the Astrologer, in whom he seemed to have renewed his faith, held with him, in like manner, a long consultation, the issue of which appeared to give him more spirits and confidence than he had at first exhibited; so that he dressed himself, and received the morning compliments of Crevecoeur with a calmness at which the Burgundian Lord could not help Wondering, the rather that he had already heard that the Duke had passed several hours in a state of mind which seemed to render the King's safety very precarious.

你的末日尚未来临——你所侍奉的魔鬼尚未把你抛

弃。对于为他效劳的朋友他还会给以支援,正如一个恶

人让瞎子扶着他的肩头走路,要领着他走到悬岩的边

沿——才把他推下深渊。

《古老的戏剧》

那弄臣按照路易王的命令,更恰当地说是请求(因为尽管路易是国王,但在当前的处境下他也只能请求勒格洛里尔去寻找伽利奥提)前去办事,倒也不觉困难。他立刻来到佩隆城最好的一家酒店。由于他自己很欣赏那能使所有人的心智都变得和他同样痴恩的饮料,所以他也是这个酒店的常客。

他在酒店——在根据里面的主要陈设,其德语和弗兰德语的别称应为“火炉”的一个角落里看到,或者说观察到,这位占星术家正在和一个女人进行亲密的谈话。那女人装束奇特,既像个摩尔人又像个亚洲人。当勒格洛里尔走到马蒂阿斯跟前时,她站起来像要走开。

“这些消息完全可靠,可以确信无疑。”那陌生女人说道,接着便消失在散坐在桌边的满堂宾客之中。

“我的哲学家哥哥也,”那弄臣对他说道,“老天爷刚拆走一个站岗的,又派另一个来顶替。一个傻瓜刚走,我这个傻瓜又来了,为的是领你去法国路易王的卧室。”

“是派你来传口讯的吗?”马蒂阿斯赶忙恐慌地用眼睛盯着他问道,他立刻看出这个人是个弄臣,尽管我们先前提到过的,其外表并不像一般弄臣那样表明他具有这种身份。

“是的,先生。”勒格洛里尔回答道,“当一位权力大的君主竟派遣愚人求智者去见他,这肯定表明他处境不妙。”

“这么晚的时候派这么一个使者来叫我,我不去又怎么样呢?”伽利奥提问道。

“要是不去,我们就得照顾您的方便,把您抬去,”勒格洛里尔说道,“现在门口站着十来个精壮的勃艮第步兵,是克雷维格伯爵派给我,准备抬着您去见路易王的。您要知道,虽然我们的亲戚路易王愚蠢地把王冠交给我们支配,但我的朋友勃艮第·查尔斯和我并没有把它拿掉,而只是把它搞脏,弄坏了一点。尽管这皇冠已经缩得很小,但毕竟还是纯金做的,简而言之,他仍然统治着他的人民(包括你在内),仍然在当着佩隆城堡古老的大厅里最守基督之道的国王。而你作为他的臣属,有义务马上去见他。”

“先生,我跟你去好了。”马蒂阿斯·伽利奥提说道,接着便跟随勒格洛里尔前去城堡——也许是看到无法逃避吧。

“好的,先生,”那弄臣在途中对他说,“您正合适。说实话,我们对待这位亲戚,也正像人们对待关在笼子里挨饿的老狮子一样,不时往笼子里塞进一头小牛犊,好让他的老牙巴有东西可嚼。”

“你是说,”马蒂阿斯讲道,“国王有意伤害我吗?”

“这你可比我更有本事猜测,”那弄臣说,“因为今晚虽然有云,我相信你还是可以透过云翳看到星星。我对此事毫无所知——不过,我妈过去经常告诉我,在走近一只被逮住的大老鼠时要十分小心,因为这老鼠最喜欢咬人。”

占星术家不再问他问题。勒格洛里尔便按照他们这类人的习惯继续胡乱地说着一些混杂着嘲讽的傻话。一来到佩隆城堡的大门跟前,他便把哲学家交给了卫兵。在一个个卫兵的护送下,哲学家终于被带到了赫伯特塔楼。

这弄臣的暗示在马蒂阿斯身上还是产生了作用。他通过特里斯顿的表情和态度看出了问题,因为它们在某种程度上肯定了这些暗示的正确性。特里斯顿领他去国王卧室时和他讲话的态度显得愠怒、阴沉和凶狠。作为一个细察人间现象和天体现象的大师,那滑轮和绳索自然没有逃脱这位占星术家的眼睛。他看到绳子还在摆动,便推想一定是有人原先正忙着调整绳子,看见他突然出现便马上停了下来。他把这一切都看在眼里,立刻加强了警觉,以防备即将到来的危险。他下定决心,万一无法回避,便和任何来犯之敌决一死战。

下定决心之后,马蒂阿斯便迈着坚定的步伐,带着坚定而从容的表情来到路易王跟前,对自己预言失误既不感觉羞愧,对国王的愤怒及其可能的后果也不感觉畏惧。

“愿天上的星宿都保佑陛下吉祥如意!”伽利奥提以近乎东方人的方式向国王鞠躬说道,“愿国王陛下免遭不祥星象的邪恶影响!”

“我想,”国王对答说,“只要看看这间卧室,只要想想这里是什么地方、守护的情况如何,你这聪明人就能看出,我的‘吉星’已经对我不忠不义,而每种不祥的星象也都在对我竭尽其作恶的能事。马蒂阿斯·伽利奥提,你想想,正是你的保证引诱我到这儿来的。我已身陷囹圄,成了囚徒,难道你一点都不觉得害臊吗?”

“陛下,难道您自己不害臊吗?”哲学家对答说,“您在科学上取得了长足进步,您有敏捷的头脑和持久的毅力——而您却像胆小鬼一听到刀剑碰击声便吓得四处躲藏,一看到命运之神皱皱眉头便想打退堂鼓。难道您不害羞吗?您过去一心想占有玄秘知识,好使自己超脱人世的感情以及人世的不幸和忧虑——而这是谁有表现出类似古代斯多葛派哲人的坚韧才能达到的境界。您为什么一遇到边境的压力便想退缩,从而失去您原来想要获取的光荣的奖赏,就像一匹受惊的赛马那样,一看见虚幻的凶兆便被惊得逃离了跑道呢?”

“虚幻的凶兆!你真是恬不知耻!”国王大声说道,“难道这个地牢是虚幻的吗?我的仇敌勃艮第的卫队在大门口磨刀霍霍,难道这也是虚幻的吗?我倒想问问你这个奸贼,要是囚禁、废黜和丧命的危险还算不上真正的不幸,那么,什么才算得上真正的不幸?”

“无知,我的兄弟,”那贤哲坚定地回答说,“无知加偏见才算得上惟一的真正不幸。请相信我,强大无比的国王要是浸透着无知的偏见,就会比身处地牢、手戴镣铐的哲人更不自由。我将十分荣幸地引您进入哲人的真正幸福境界——但您也应当以听从我的指导为荣。”

“难道你的教导就是为了指引我去尝尝这种哲学家的自由?”国王极其痛心地说道,“你干吗在普莱西宫时不早对我说,你一再保证我会享有的主权只是控制自己感情的主权,你一再保证我会取得的成就只是哲学方面的进步,好让我变得像意大利的江湖骗子那样聪明,那样有学问?要是你早说,我就满可以用低得多的代价来达到这种精神境界,而不必失去基督世界最美好的王冠,并成为佩隆地牢里的囚徒!你走吧,别妄想你能逃脱应有的惩罚——皇天在上!”

“我不会离开你,让你去自生自灭,”马蒂阿斯对答说,“尽管你的眼睛被无知所蔽,我也要为我的荣誉进行辩护。要知道,我的荣誉要比你王冠上最明亮的宝石更为灿烂,即使整个卡普特家族都在圣·丹尼斯教堂的墓穴中化为骨灰,千秋万代还将赞美它的光辉。”

“你就说吧,”路易讲道,“反正你这厚颜无耻的话改变不了我的主意或看法——不过,也许我以后再也不能作为国王作出我的判决,所以,在给你定罪之后我倒想听听你的申诉。你就说吧——不过你最好讲真话。你就坦白说,我是个受骗上当的傻子,你是个骗子,你那所谓的科学只不过是痴人说梦,我们头上的星星无法影响我们的命运,就像星光映在河里无法改变河水的进程。”

“你怎么能了解那些圣洁的星光具有的神秘影响力呢?”那占星术家斗胆说道,“你说它们不能影响河水,然而你明明知道,哪怕是其中最微弱的月亮——它之所以微弱,正因为它距离我们这倒霉的地球最近——所能支配的不仅限于像索姆河这种区区小河,而是视其盈亏而涨落的潮汐。大海随时都在注视月亮的影响,犹如奴才战战兢兢地听命于女皇的颔首示意。好了,瓦卢瓦·路易,现在该轮到你来回答我一个比喻了。你坦白地说吧,你像不像一个愚蠢的旅客怒斥海船的舵手,责怪他把大船驶进港口的途中碰到了逆流和逆风呢?我当初指出你的冒险有可能获得圆满的结果,的确是有根据的,但只有上帝才有这个能力引领你来到这里。如果说天意要叫你的路途崎岖危险,我有什么能力使它平坦、安全呢?你不是昨天还很聪明,说你的智慧使你认识到,命运的安排虽然与我们的本意相违,却往往给我们带来有利的结局吗?”

“你这话使我想起——”国王匆忙说道,“想起你说过的一个谎话。你曾预言说,那苏格兰人完成任务的情况幸好会符合我的利益,维护我的荣誉。但你知道,正是这事情的结局对那头被激怒的‘勃艮第狂牛’产生的印象将给我带来莫大的伤害。这彻头彻尾都是谎言——这回你再也找不出任何适辞——找不出什么潮水涨落的虚无飘渺的吉兆叫我像个白痴坐在河边老等河水过完似的安心等下去了。这下你可叫你自己的奸黠揭了你的老底——你愚蠢地作出了一个已证明完全虚假的预言。”

“它将证明完全真实可靠,”占星术家大着胆子回答道,“我能指望以学术战胜愚昧来获得的最大的喜悦莫过于这个预言的实现。我对你说过,他将忠实地执行任何体面的任务。他不是这样做了吗?我对你说过,他不愿助纣为虐——他不是证明自己正是这样的吗?如果你怀疑这个,你去问那个波希米亚人海拉丁·毛格拉宾好了。”

路易王这时又羞又怒,脸红到了耳根。

“我对你说过,”那占星术家继续说道,“他出发时的星象预兆他将有生命危险——他一路上不正是布满了危险么?我对你说过,根据星象的预兆,派遣他的人将因他而得到好处——我想这个好处很快就会使你受益匪浅。”

“很快就会受益匪浅!”国王大声说道,“我受的益不明摆着就是耻辱和监禁吗?”

“不,”那占星术家回答道,“事情还没完哩——你很快就得亲口承认,这位使者执行你的任务的方式已经使你得到了好处。”

“这简直太——太无礼了,”国王说道,“你是既想欺骗我,又想侮辱我——滚吧!别以为我会轻易受屈,不加报复——皇天在上!”

伽利奥提转过身来想走。“你等等,”路易说道,“你胆敢不承认你耍骗术——那你回答我一个问题。你先好好考虑考虑——你敢说你的骗术能预报你自己的死期吗?”

“我只能根据别人的死期来定我的死期。”伽利奥提说道。

“我不懂你是什么意思。”路易说道。

“那我就对你说吧,国王陛下,”马蒂阿斯讲道,“关于我的死期,我只能肯定地说这么一句:它将正好在陛下死期之前二十四小时。”

“哼!你敢这么讲吗?”路易脸色突变地说道,“等一等——等一等——你先别走——你说我的死期和你的死期会隔得这么近?”

“只隔二十四小时,”伽利奥提坚定地重复说道,“如果明亮而神秘的智慧之星在其各自的轨道上无须语言真能道出一点真实预言的话。祝陛下晚安!”

“等一等——等一等——你别走,”国王说道,一边抓住他的手臂把他从门口拖了回来,“马蒂阿斯·伽利奥提,我一直奉你为上宾——给过你许多钱财——把你视作我的朋友、伴侣和老师——我求你坦白地告诉我——你的方术真有点道理吗?这苏格兰人的使命真会使我吉祥如意吗?我们两人的天数真十分——十分接近吗?好马蒂阿斯,你坦白说吧,你是按你们的行道那哄人的一套来讲的——我求你坦白告诉我,只要你坦白地说,我不会跟你过不去的。我年纪大了——又遭到软禁——很有可能会失去我的江山——对我这种处境的人来说,讲真话真是价值连城。最亲爱的马蒂阿斯,我还是指望从你身上获得这个无价之宝。”

“我已经把这个无价之宝奉献给陛下了,”伽利奥提说道,“甚至冒着陛下狂怒之下向我扑来将我撕裂的危险。”

“伽利奥提,我会这样吗?”路易王温和地问道,“唉呀,你真冤枉我了!难道我不是一个囚徒?难道我眼见自己的愤怒只能表明自己无能,还不该表示出特别的耐心?请你实说吧——你在骗我,还是你真有学识,作了真实的预言?”

“陛下请原谅,”马蒂阿斯·伽利奥提说道,“我想回答的是,只有时间——只有时间和事实能使怀疑者确信自己的错误。我曾在那举世闻名的征服者——匈牙利的马提埃斯·科维纳斯的议事桌上——甚至在皇帝本人的密室中,参与枢密大事的咨议,但要把我曾提出过的、证明是正确的一些预言和保证再讲出来,就辜负了皇帝对我的信任。要是您不相信我,我只能让事实的进程来说话。您只消耐心等待一两天,就能证明或否定我针对那个年轻的苏格兰人作出的论断。要是陛下不能从昆丁·达威特英勇的表现中受益,而且受益匪浅,那么我甘愿被处以车刑。陛下最好尽快找一个神父,因为从我发出最后的呻吟那一刻算起,就只剩下二十四小时的光阴能供您进行忏悔。”

路易仍然拉着伽利奥提的长袍,带他到门口,一边开门一边大声说道:“明天我们再谈。有学问的老爹,请您慢走——慢走——慢走!”

他把“慢走”这两个字重复说了三遍,但仍然担心那军法总监会误解他的意图。于是他亲自领着这位占星术家走进大厅,同时紧紧拉着他的长袍不放,仿佛害怕刽子手会从他手里把他夺走,当他的面把这人处死。他不但紧拉着他,而且一再重复着“慢走”。“慢走”这个化险为夷的符咒,甚至向军法总监暗暗打了个手势,严令他停止对这占星术家将采取的任何行动。

这样,伽利奥提就因为掌握了一点秘密情报,加上临危不惧,应付自如,使自己摆脱了迫在眉睫的生命危险。可是路易这位当代最聪明、报复心最强的君主却由于迷信的习惯对意识到自己作恶多端而特别害怕死亡的自私心灵具有强烈的影响,终于受骗而失去了复仇的机会。

他虽然被迫放弃复仇的企图,但还是感到十分懊恼。受命行刑的几个帮凶也似乎和他一样失望。只有巴拉弗雷对这事完全漠然处之。一当他听到国王收回成命的暗号,就离开了他站岗放哨的大门,几分种之内便酣然睡去。

看到国王已回到卧室,大伙都在大厅里躺下来就寝。军法总监仍然紧盯着轻松愉快的占星术家的背影,样子很像眼见一大块肉即将到口,却硬被厨师夺走而显出悻悻然表情的猛大。他的两个手下人则用简单的几句话表达他们彼此的特殊心情。

“这可怜而盲目的关亡术者,”特罗瓦—艾歇尔像神父似的用虚假的怜悯口气对小安德烈说道,“他失去了通过得福的圣方济绞索去见上帝,从而赎掉他一些邪恶的巫术罪的大好机会!我本想把那舒适的绞索套在他脖子上,好通过恐吓把恶魔从他那倒霉的躯体里赶出来。”

“而我哩,”小安德烈说道,“我也失去了一个少有的机会,好了解一根三股的绳子要承受一个重达十七英石的人,究竟会经得住多久!本来这是我们这个行业一个了不起的实验——而那开心的老家伙也本会轻轻松松地去进地狱!”

这几个人都围着壁炉躺着,马蒂阿斯则睡在壁炉的对面。在他们耳语正在进行的当中,他斜着眼,带着怀疑的表情望着他们。他首先把手伸进他的背心,使他放心的是,他发现随身携带的一把锐利的双刃刀的刀柄摆的位置很便于随时拿出来使用。正如我们指出过的,尽管他现在身体有点不灵便,但他原是个强壮的大力士,耍起刀来生龙活虎。在他确信这可靠的武器已放稳妥,随时可用之后,便从胸口掏出一张写有希腊文,标着许多神秘符号的羊皮纸卷,并把壁炉里的烧柴拨拢来,燃起一团较大的火焰,这样便能看清周围坐着或躺着的人的面貌和姿态:那酣睡着的苏格兰人静静地躺着,其粗犷的面部表情就像青铜铸造的一样毫无变化;奥利弗面孔苍白,露出焦虑不安的神色,他好像是睡着了,但不时会急忙睁开眼睛,抬起头,仿佛有一种内心的痛楚把他猛然刺醒,或远处某个声音把他从梦中突然惊醒——再就是那军法总监悻悻然的猛犬般的凶狠面孔,看上去就像——“欲望受阻,企图未逞,仍想杀人”。在他背后则是两眼朝天像在作祷告的特罗瓦—艾歇尔那可怕的虚伪面孔,以及临睡前还在模仿他同伴的姿态和歪脸以自娱的小安德烈那张滑稽得怕人的面孔。

与这几张卑贱而鄙俗的面孔相对照而显得更为突出的是占星术家那魁梧的身材、英俊的面孔以及严峻而高傲的面部表情。他的样子颇像是“东方三贤”误陷匪穴,正在祈求精灵将他救出牢笼。的确,要是使得他容貌突出的仅仅是那飘落在玄秘的羊皮纸卷上的美丽长须,那么看到这样一个高贵的装饰品竟赠给了一个以其天才和学识,以及威武的身躯和善辩的口才进行卑鄙欺诈的骗子,人们也完全有理由对此感到遗憾。

住宿在佩隆城堡“赫伯特伯爵塔楼”里的客人们就这样度过了一夜。第二天一清早,当晨曦刚一透进那古老的哥特式的卧室,国王便把奥利弗召了进来。他看见国王穿着睡衣坐着。使他惊奇的是,一夜的忧心如焚,使得国王面容十分憔悴。他本想对此表示一点不安,但国王一上来便讲个滔滔不绝,使他无法开口。国王向他介绍他从前在勃艮第宫廷寻求盟友时采用过的种种方式,并要他一有可能外出时便立即照此相机行事。在这次难忘的商谈中,国王表现出思维清晰,对支配人类行为的种种动机了如指掌。这位狡黠的臣仆对此产生的印象远比以往来得深刻。

大约两小时以后,奥利弗便从克雷维格伯爵那里获得了外出的许可,以办理国王托付给他的重任。路易王似乎又恢复了对占星术家的信赖,把他召来,同样和他进行了长时间的商量。其结果似乎使得他比先前精神更好了一些,信心更足了一些。因此,当他穿好衣服,克雷维格走来向他问候早安时,他显得十分镇静,不能不使这位勃艮第贵族大为惊奇,特别是因为他听说公爵近几个小时的心情极不平静,国王的安全已发发可危。



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