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Chapter 32 The Investigation

Me rather had my heart might feel your love, Than my displeased eye see your courtesy. Up, cousin, up -- your heart is up, I know, Thus high at least -- although your knee --

KING RICHARD II

At the first toll of the bell which was to summon the great nobles of Burgundy together in council, with the very few French peers who could be present on the occasion, Duke Charles, followed by a part of his train, armed with partisans and battle axes, entered the Hall of Herbert's Tower, in the Castle of Peronne. King Louis, who had expected the visit, arose and made two steps towards the Duke, and then remained standing with an air of dignity, which, in spite of the meanness of his dress, and the familiarity of his ordinary manners, he knew very well how to assume when he judged it necessary. Upon the present important crisis, the composure of his demeanour had an evident effect upon his rival, who changed the abrupt and hasty step with which he entered the apartment into one more becoming a great vassal entering the presence of his Lord Paramount. Apparently the Duke had formed the internal resolution to treat Louis, in the outset at least, with the formalities due to his high station; but at the same time it was evident, that, in doing so, he put no small constraint upon the fiery impatience of his own disposition, and was scarce able to control the feelings of resentment and the thirst of revenge which boiled in his bosom. Hence, though he compelled himself to use the outward acts, and in some degree the language, of courtesy and reverence, his colour came and went rapidly -- his voice was abrupt, hoarse, and broken -- his limbs shook, as if impatient of the curb imposed on his motions -- he frowned and bit his lip until the blood came -- and every look and movement showed that the most passionate prince who ever lived was under the dominion of one of his most violent paroxysms of fury.

The King marked this war of passion with a calm and untroubled eye, for, though he gathered from the Duke's looks a foretaste of the bitterness of death, which he dreaded alike as a mortal and a sinful man, yet he was resolved, like a wary and skilful pilot, neither to suffer himself to be disconcerted by his own fears, nor to abandon the helm, while there was a chance of saving the vessel by adroit pilotage. Therefore, when the Duke, in a hoarse and broken tone, said something of the scarcity of his accommodations, he answered with a smile that he could not complain, since he had as yet found Herbert's Tower a better residence than it had proved to one of his ancestors.

"They told you the tradition then?" said Charles.

"Yes -- here he was slain -- but it was because he refused to take the cowl, and finish his days in a monastery."

"The more fool he," said Louis, affecting unconcern, "since he gained the torment of being a martyr, without the merit of being a saint."

"I come," said the Duke, "to pray your Majesty to attend a high council at which tidings of weight are to be deliberated upon concerning the welfare of France and Burgundy. You will presently meet them -- that is, if such be your pleasure."

"Nay, my fair cousin," said the King. "never strain courtesy so far as to entreat what you may so boldly command. -- To council, since such is your Grace's pleasure. We are somewhat shorn of our train," he added, looking upon the small suite that arranged themselves to attend him, "but you, cousin, must shine out for us both."

Marshalled by Toison d'Or, chief of the heralds of Burgundy, the Princes left the Earl Herbert's Tower, and entered the castle yard, which Louis observed was filled with the Duke's bodyguard and men at arms, splendidly accoutred, and drawn up in martial array. Crossing the court, they entered the Council Hall, which was in a much more modern part of the building than that of which Louis had been the tenant, and, though in disrepair, had been hastily arranged for the solemnity of a public council. Two chairs of state were erected under the same canopy, that for the King being raised two steps higher than the one which the Duke was to occupy; about twenty of the chief nobility sat, arranged in due order, on either hand of the chair of state; and thus, when both the Princes were seated, the person for whose trial, as it might be called, the council was summoned, held the highest place, and appeared to preside in it.

It was perhaps to get rid of this inconsistency, and the scruples which might have been inspired by it, that Duke Charles, having bowed slightly to the royal chair, bluntly opened the sitting with the following words --

"My good vassals and councillors, it is not unknown to you what disturbances have arisen in our territories, both in our father's time and in our own, from the rebellion of vassals against superiors, and subjects against their princes. And lately we have had the most dreadful proof of the height to which these evils have arrived in our case, by the scandalous flight of the Countess Isabelle of Croye, and her aunt the Lady Hameline, to take refuge with a foreign power, thereby renouncing their fealty to us, and inferring the forfeiture of their fiefs; and in another more dreadful and deplorable instance, by the sacrilegious and bloody murder of our beloved brother and ally, the Bishop of Liege, and the rebellion of that treacherous city, which was but too mildly punished for the last insurrection. We have been informed that these sad events may be traced, not merely to the inconstancy and folly of women, and the presumption of pampered citizens, but to the agency of foreign power, and the interference of a mighty neighbour, from whom, if good deeds could merit any return in kind, Burgundy could have expected nothing but the most sincere and devoted friendship. If this should prove truth," said the Duke, setting his teeth and pressing his heel against the ground, "what consideration shall withhold us -- the means being in our power -- from taking such measures as shall effectually, and at the very source, close up the main spring from which these evils have yearly flowed on us?"

The Duke had begun his speech with some calmness, but he elevated his voice at the conclusion; and the last sentence was spoken in a tone which made all the councillors tremble, and brought a transient fit of paleness across the King's cheek. He instantly recalled his courage, however, and addressed the council in his turn in a tone evincing so much ease and composure that the Duke, though he seemed desirous to interrupt or stop him, found no decent opportunity to do so.

"Nobles of France and of Burgundy," he said, "Knights of the Holy Spirit and of the Golden Fleece! Since a King must plead his cause as an accused person he cannot desire more distinguished judges than the flower of nobleness and muster and pride of chivalry. Our fair cousin of Burgundy hath but darkened the dispute between us, in so far as his courtesy has declined to state it in precise terms. I, who have no cause for observing such delicacy, nay, whose condition permits me not to do so, crave leave to speak more precisely. It is to Us, my lords -- to Us, his liege lord, his kinsman, his ally, that unhappy circumstances, perverting our cousins's clear judgment and better nature, have induced him to apply the hateful charges of seducing his vassals from their allegiance, stirring up the people of Liege to revolt, and stimulating the outlawed William de la Marck to commit a most cruel and sacrilegious murder. Nobles of France and Burgundy, I might truly appeal to the circumstances in which I now stand, as being in themselves a complete contradiction of such an accusation, for is it to be supposed that, having the sense of a rational being left me, I should have thrown myself unreservedly into the power of the Duke of Burgundy while I was practising treachery against him such as could not fail to be discovered, and which being discovered, must place me, as I now stand, in the power of a justly exasperated prince? The folly of one who should seat himself quietly down to repose on a mine, after he had lighted the match which was to cause instant explosion, would have been wisdom compared to mine. I have no doubt that, amongst the perpetrators of those horrible treasons at Schonwaldt, villains have been busy with my name -- but am I to be answerable, who have given them no right to use it? -- If two silly women, disgusted on account of some romantic cause of displeasure, sought refuge at my Court, does it follow that they did so by my direction? -- It will be found, when inquired into, that, since honour and chivalry forbade my sending them back prisoners to the Court of Burgundy -- which, I think, gentlemen, no one who wears the collar of these Orders would suggest -- that I came as nearly as possible to the same point by placing them in the hands of the venerable father in God, who is now a saint in Heaven."

Here Louis seemed much affected and pressed his kerchief to his eyes. "In the hands, I say, of a member of my own family, and still more closely united with that of Burgundy, whose situation, exalted condition in the church, and, alas! whose numerous virtues qualified him to be the protector of these unhappy wanderers for a little while, and the mediator betwixt them and their liege lord. I say, therefore, the only circumstances which seem, in my brother of Burgundy's hasty view of this subject, to argue unworthy suspicions against me, are such as can be explained on the fairest and most honourable motives; and I say, moreover, that no one particle of credible evidence can be brought to support the injurious charges which have induced my brother to alter his friendly looks towards one who came to him in full confidence of friendship -- have caused him to turn his festive hall into a court of justice, and his hospitable apartments into a prison."

"My lord, my lord," said Charles, breaking in as soon as the King paused, "for your being here at a time so unluckily coinciding with the execution of your projects, I can only account by supposing that those who make it their trade to impose on others do sometimes egregiously delude themselves. The engineer is sometimes killed by the springing of his own petard. -- For what is to follow, let it depend on the event of this solemn inquiry. -- Bring hither the Countess Isabelle of Croye."

As the young lady was introduced, supported on the one side by the Countess of Crevecoeur, who had her husband's commands to that effect, and on the other by the Abbess of the Ursuline convent, Charles exclaimed, with his usual harshness of voice and manner, "So! sweet Princess -- you, who could scarce find breath to answer us when we last laid our just and reasonable commands on you, yet have had wind enough to run as long a course as ever did hunted doe -- what think you of the fair work you have made between two great Princes, and two mighty countries, that have been like to go to war for your baby face?"

The publicity of the scene and the violence of Charles's manner totally overcame the resolution which Isabelle had formed of throwing herself at the Duke's feet and imploring him to take possession of her estates, and permit her to retire into a cloister. She stood motionless, like a terrified female in a storm, who hears the thunder roll on every side of her, and apprehends in every fresh peal the bolt which is to strike her dead. The. Countess of Crevecoeur, a woman of spirit equal to her birth and to the beauty which she preserved even in her matronly years, judged it necessary to interfere.

"My Lord Duke," she said, "my fair cousin is under my protection. I know better than your Grace how women should be treated, and we will leave this presence instantly, unless you use a tone and language more suitable to our rank and sex."

The Duke burst out into a laugh. "Crevecoeur," he said, "thy tameness hath made a lordly dame of thy Countess; but that is no affair of mine. Give a seat to yonder simple girl, to whom, so far from feeling enmity, I design the highest grace and honour. -- Sit down, mistress, and tell us at your leisure what fiend possessed you to fly from your native country, and embrace the trade of a damsel adventurous."

With much pain, and not without several interruptions, Isabelle confessed that, being absolutely determined against a match proposed to her by the Duke of Burgundy, she had indulged the hope of obtaining protection of the Court of France.

"And under protection of the French Monarch," said Charles. "Of that, doubtless, you were well assured?"

"I did indeed so think myself assured," said the Countess Isabelle, "otherwise I had not taken a step so decided."

Here Charles looked upon Louis with a smile of inexpressible bitterness, which the King supported with the utmost firmness, except that his lip grew something whiter than it was wont to be.

"But my information concerning King Louis's intentions towards us," continued the Countess, after a short pause, "was almost entirely derived from my unhappy aunt, the Lady Hameline, and her opinions were formed upon the assertions and insinuations of persons whom I have since discovered to be the vilest traitors and most faithless wretches in the world."

She then stated, in brief terms, what she had since come to learn of the treachery of Marthon, and of Hayraddin Maugrabin, and added that she "entertained no doubt that the elder Maugrabin, called Zamet, the original adviser of their flight, was capable of every species of treachery, as well as of assuming the character of an agent of Louis without authority."

There was a pause while the Countess had continued her story, which she prosecuted, though very briefly, from the time she left the territories of Burgundy, in company with her aunt, until the storming of Schonwaldt, and her final surrender to the Count of Crevecoeur. All remained mute after she had finished her brief and broken narrative, and the Duke of Burgundy bent his fierce dark eyes on the ground, like one who seeks for a pretext to indulge his passion, but finds none sufficiently plausible to justify himself in his own eyes.

"The mole," he said at length, looking upwards, "winds not his dark subterranean path beneath our feet the less certainly that we, though conscious of his motions, cannot absolutely trace them. Yet I would know of King Louis wherefore he maintained these ladies at his Court, had they not gone thither by his own invitation."

"I did not so entertain them, fair cousin," answered the King. "Out of compassion, indeed, I received them in privacy, but took an early opportunity of placing them under the protection of the late excellent Bishop, your own ally, and who was (may God assoil him!) a better judge than I, or any secular prince, how to reconcile the protection due to fugitives with the duty which a king owes to his ally, from whose dominions they have fled. I boldly ask this young lady whether my reception of them was cordial, or whether it was not, on the contrary, such as made them express regret that they had made my Court their place of refuge?"

"So much was it otherwise than cordial," answered the Countess, "that it induced me, at least, to doubt how far it was possible that your Majesty should have actually given the invitation of which we had been assured, by those who called themselves your agents, since, supposing them to have proceeded only as they were duly authorized, it would have been hard to reconcile your Majesty's conduct with that to be expected from a king, a knight, and a gentleman."

The Countess turned her eyes to the King as she spoke, with a look which was probably intended as a reproach, but the breast of Louis was armed against all such artillery. On the contrary, waving slowly his expanded hands, and looking around the circle, he seemed to make a triumphant appeal to all present, upon the testimony borne to his innocence in the Countess's reply.

Burgundy, meanwhile, cast on him a look which seemed to say, that if in some degree silenced, he was as far as ever from being satisfied, and then said abruptly to the Countess, "Methinks, fair mistress, in this account of your wanderings, you have forgot all mention of certain love passages. -- So, ho, blushing already? -- Certain knights of the forest, by whom your quiet was for a time interrupted. Well -- that incident hath come to our ear, and something we may presently form out of it. -- Tell me, King Louis, were it not well, before this vagrant Helen of Troy (the wife of Menelaus. She was carried to Troy by Paris, and thus was the cause of the Trojan War), or of Croye, set more Kings by the ears, were it not well to carve out a fitting match for her?"

King Louis, though conscious what ungrateful proposal was likely to be made next, gave a calm and silent assent to what Charles said; but the Countess herself was restored to courage by the very extremity of her situation. She quitted the arm of the Countess of Crevecoeur, on which she had hitherto leaned, came forward timidly, yet with an air of dignity, and kneeling before the Duke's throne, thus addressed him "Noble Duke of Burgundy, and my liege lord, I acknowledge my fault in having withdrawn myself from your dominions without your gracious permission, and will most humbly acquiesce in any penalty you are pleased to impose. I place my lands and castles at your rightful disposal, and pray you only of your own bounty, and for the sake of my memory, to allow the last of the line of Croye, out of her large estate, such a moderate maintenance as may find her admission into a convent for the remainder of her life."

"What think you, Sire, of the young person's petition to us," said the Duke, addressing Louis.

"As of a holy and humble motion," said the King, "which doubtless comes from that grace which ought not to be resisted or withstood."

"The humble and lowly shall be exalted," said Charles. "Arise, Countess Isabelle -- we mean better for you than you have devised for yourself. We mean neither to sequestrate your estates, nor to abase your honours, but, on the contrary, will add largely to both."

"Alas! my lord," said the Countess, continuing on her knees, "it is even that well meant goodness which I fear still more than your Grace's displeasure, since it compels me --"

"Saint George of Burgundy!" said Duke Charles, "is our will to be thwarted, and our commands disputed, at every turn? Up, I say, minion, and withdraw for the present -- when we have time to think of thee, we will so order matters that, Teste Saint Gris! you shall either obey us, or do worse."

Notwithstanding this stern answer, the Countess Isabelle remained at his feet, and would probably, by her pertinacity, have driven him to say upon the spot something yet more severe, had not the Countess of Crevecoeur, who better knew that Prince's humour, interfered to raise her young friend, and to conduct her from the hall.

Quentin Durward was now summoned to appear, and presented himself before the King and Duke with that freedom, distant alike from bashful reserve and intrusive boldness, which becomes a youth at once well born and well nurtured, who gives honour where it is due but without permitting himself to be dazzled or confused by the presence of those to whom it is to be rendered. His uncle had furnished him with the means of again equipping himself in the arms and dress of an Archer of the Scottish Guard, and his complexion, mien, and air suited in an uncommon degree his splendid appearance. His extreme youth, too, prepossessed the councillors in his favour, the rather that no one could easily believe that the sagacious Louis would have chosen so very young a person to become the confidant of political intrigues; and thus the King enjoyed, in this, as in other cases, considerable advantage from his singular choice of agents, both as to age and rank, where such election seemed least likely to be made. At the command of the Duke, sanctioned by that of Louis, Quentin commenced an account of his journey with the Ladies of Croye to the neighbourhood of Liege, premising a statement of King Louis's instructions, which were that he should escort them safely to the castle of the Bishop.

"And you obeyed my orders accordingly," said the King.

"I did, Sire," replied the Scot.

"You omit a circumstance," said the Duke. "You were set upon in the forest by two wandering knights."

"It does not become me to remember or to proclaim such an incident," said the youth, blushing ingenuously.

"But it doth not become me to forget it," said the Duke of Orleans. "This youth discharged his commission manfully, and maintained his trust in a manner that I shall long remember. -- Come to my apartment, Archer, when this matter is over, and thou shalt find I have not forgot thy brave bearing, while I am glad to see it is equalled by thy modesty."

"And come to mine," said Dunois. "I have a helmet for thee, since I think I owe thee one."

Quentin bowed low to both, and the examination was resumed. At the command of Duke Charles he produced the written instructions which he had received for the direction of his journey.

"Did you follow these instructions literally, soldier?" said the Duke.

"No; if it please your Grace," replied Quentin. "They directed me, as you may be pleased to observe, to cross the Maes near Namur; whereas I kept the left bank, as being both the nigher and the safer road to Liege."

"And wherefore that alteration?" said the Duke.

"Because I began to suspect the fidelity of my guide," answered Quentin.

"Now mark the questions I have next to ask thee," said the Duke. "Reply truly to them, and fear nothing from the resentment of any one. But if you palter or double in your answers I will have thee hung alive in an iron chain from the steeple of the market house, where thou shalt wish for death for many an hour ere he come to relieve you!"

There was a deep silence ensued. At length, having given the youth time, as he thought, to consider the circumstances in which he was placed, the Duke demanded to know of Durward who his guide was, by whom supplied, and wherefore he had been led to entertain suspicion of him. To the first of these questions Quentin Durward answered by naming Hayraddin Maugrabin, the Bohemian; to the second, that the guide had been recommended by Tristan l'Hermite; and in reply to the third point he mentioned what had happened in the Franciscan convent near Namur, how the Bohemian had been expelled from the holy house, and how, jealous of his behaviour, he had dogged him to a rendezvous with one of William de la Marck's lanzknechts, where he overheard them arrange a plan for surprising the ladies who were under his protection.

"Now, hark," said the Duke, "and once more remember thy life depends on thy veracity, did these villains mention their having this King's -- I mean this very King Louis of France's authority for their scheme of surprising the escort and carrying away the ladies?"

"If such infamous fellows had said," replied Quentin, "I know not how I should have believed them, having the word of the King himself to place in opposition to theirs."

Louis, who had listened hitherto with most earnest attention, could not help drawing his breath deeply when he heard Durward's answer, in the manner of one from whose bosom a heavy weight has been at once removed. The Duke again looked disconcerted and moody, and, returning to the charge, questioned Quentin still more closely, whether he did not understand, from these men's private conversation, that the plots which they meditated had King Louis's sanction?

"I repeat that I heard nothing which could authorize me to say so," answered the young man, who, though internally convinced of the King's accession to the treachery of Hayraddin, yet held it contrary to his allegiance to bring forward his own suspicions on the subject; "and if I had heard such men make such an assertion, I again say that I would not have given their testimony weight against the instructions of the King himself."

"Thou art a faithful messenger," said the Duke, with a sneer, "and I venture to say that, in obeying the King's instructions, thou hast disappointed his expectations in a manner that thou mightst have smarted for, but that subsequent events have made thy bull headed fidelity seem like good service."

"I understand you not, my lord," said Quentin Durward, "all I know is that my master King Louis sent me to protect these ladies, and that I did so accordingly, to the extent of my ability, both in the journey to Schonwaldt, and through the subsequent scenes which took place. I understood the instructions of the King to be honourable, and I executed them honourably; had they been of a different tenor, they would not have suited one of my name or nation."

"Fier comme an Ecossois," said Charles, who, however disappointed at the tenor of Durward's reply, was not unjust enough to blame him for his boldness. "But hark thee, Archer, what instructions were those which made thee, as some sad fugitives from Schonwaldt have informed us, parade the streets of Liege, at the head of those mutineers, who afterwards cruelly murdered their temporal Prince and spiritual Father? And what harangue was it which thou didst make after that murder was committed, in which you took upon you, as agent for Louis, to assume authority among the villains who had just perpetrated so great a crime?"

"My lord," said Quentin, "there are many who could testify that I assumed not the character of an envoy of France in the town of Liege, but had it fixed upon me by the obstinate clamours of the people themselves, who refused to give credit to any disclamation which I could make. This I told to those in the service of the Bishop when I had made my escape from the city, and recommended their attention to the security of the Castle, which might have prevented the calamity and horror of the succeeding night. It is, no doubt, true that I did, in the extremity of danger, avail myself of the influence which my imputed character gave me, to save the Countess Isabelle, to protect my own life, and, so far as I could, to rein in the humour for slaughter, which had already broke out in so dreadful an instance. I repeat, and will maintain it with my body, that I had no commission of any kind from the King of France respecting the people of Liege, far less instructions to instigate them to mutiny; and that, finally, when I did avail myself of that imputed character, it was as if I had snatched up a shield to protect myself in a moment of emergency, and used it, as I should surely have done, for the defence of myself and others, without inquiring whether I had a right to the heraldic emblazonments which it displayed."

"And therein my young companion and prisoner," said Crevecoeur, unable any longer to remain silent, "acted with equal spirit and good sense; and his doing so cannot justly be imputed as blame to King Louis."

There was a murmur of assent among the surrounding nobility, which sounded joyfully in the ears of King Louis, whilst it gave no little offence to Charles. He rolled his eyes angrily around; and the sentiments so generally expressed by so many of his highest vassals and wisest councillors, would not perhaps have prevented his giving way to his violent and despotic temper, had not De Comines, who foresaw the danger, prevented it, by suddenly announcing a herald from the city of Liege.

"A herald from weavers and nailers!" exclaimed the Duke. "But admit him instantly. By Our Lady, I will learn from this same herald something farther of his employers' hopes and projects than this young French Scottish man at arms seems desirous to tell me!"

我宁愿用心来感受你的温情,

也不愿用眼睛看见你的敬礼。

起来,兄弟,起来;虽然你

低屈着你的膝头,我知道,

你有一颗奋起的雄心,至少

奋起到——我这王冠的高度。

理查二世

一听到召集勃艮第的大贵族以及极少数可以列席的法国贵族前来开会的钟声,查尔斯公爵便在一部分手持短戟和斧钺的卫兵跟随下走进了佩隆城堡赫伯特塔楼的大厅。路易王早已料到公爵会来见他。这时他便站起身向前走了两步去迎接他,然后带着尊严的表情站着不动。尽管他衣着寒伦,态度随便,但在必要时他也知道如何摆出威严的气度。在当前这个紧要关头,他那镇定的神色在他对手身上明显产生了影响。事实上公爵刚跨进来便一改原先那种唐突而急促的步伐,使其与一位大的藩臣晋谒宗主的情况更相适应。显然公爵已经暗自决定至少在一开始时要以对待国王的应有礼节来对待路易,但在这样做的同时,却明显地表现出,他虽对自己暴躁的性格进行了颇大的压抑,但仍很难控制胸中沸腾着的愤怒和复仇的欲望。因此,尽管他迫使自己的举止和言语表面上显得恭恭敬敬、彬彬有礼,但他的脸色红一阵白一阵,他的声音唐突、嘶哑、很不流畅,他的手足都在颤抖,这些好像说明他不能忍耐对自己行动施加的压制。他双眉紧锁,嘴唇咬得几乎出血。公爵的每个动作和表情都表明这位世界上性情最暴烈的君王正处在他最强烈的愤怒感情的支配下。

国王目光安详而宁静地注意着公爵这一场激烈的感情冲突。尽管他从公爵的面容里预感到一个有罪之人最为害怕的威胁——死亡,但他还是决心要像一个警觉而熟练的舵手那样,只要还有希望依靠灵活的驾驶使帆船得救,便绝不惊慌失措,也绝不放弃掌舵。因此,当公爵用嘶哑而激动的声音谈到他的住房条件较差时,他微笑着回答说,他没有理由抱怨,因为到目前为止,住在赫伯特塔楼的他本人总要比曾在这里住过的一位祖先命运更好一点。

“这么说,他们已经把那个传说讲给您听了?”查尔斯说道,“不错,他是在这里遇害的——不过,这是因为他不愿做修道士,在寺院了结他的余生。”

“真是个傻瓜,”路易假装漫不经心地说道,“他受的是殉道者的刑罚,却享受不到圣徒的名声。”

“我来是想请陛下参加一个高级会议,”公爵说道,“会上将讨论有关法国和勃艮第利益的重大问题。您得立刻出席——我是说,假如您高兴的话,请——”

“别这么说了,我的好堂弟,”国王说道,“别过分客气地把你可以大胆命令的事说成是请求。既然这是殿下的意旨,我就赴会吧。不过,我的随从似乎少了一点,”他望望准备跟随他的寥寥数人,这么补充说道,“不过,堂弟,你那壮观的随从已足够为我们两人增光的了。”

在勃艮第首席纹章官特瓦松·多尔的护卫下两位君王离开赫伯特塔楼,来到城堡的庭院。路易看见这里布满了由公爵装备精良的卫士和武士组成的军容威武的队列。穿过庭院他们来到议事厅。这议事厅所在的这一部分建筑物要比路易曾住过的那个塔楼更新式一些。虽然也是年久失修,但经过一番匆促的布置,可以满足隆重集会的需要。在同一个华盖下摆有两张坐椅,国王坐的那张要比公爵坐着的那张高两个石级。在这两张坐椅的两旁按一定的顺序坐着约二十名主要的贵族成员。当君王先后人席之后,可称之为受审对象的这个人反而坐得最高,仿佛是会议的主持者。

也许是为了消除这种矛盾的印象以及在人们心中可能产生的疑虑,查尔斯公爵向御席上的国王微微鞠躬之后,便向在座的人发表了如下的讲话,作为会议的开始:

“我善良的藩属和谋臣们,你们都知道,无论我父亲在世时还是现在,我的领土上都经常发生藩属抗上、臣民反叛的骚乱事件。最近发生的事件正令人担忧地说明了这种邪恶已发展到何种地步。一件是克罗伊埃伯爵小姐及其姑母哈梅琳女士可耻地逃奔外国,抛弃了对我效忠的宣誓,从而丧失了她们的采邑。另一个更可怕、更可悲的事件是我亲爱的兄弟和盟友列日主教遭到亵渎神明的血腥屠杀,同时奸恶的列日城也因上次惩罚不力再次爆发叛乱。我已掌握情报,说明这些不幸事件不仅归因于女性的愚蠢和不忠,以及国姑息而造成的小市民的胆大妄为,而且归因于外来奸细的煽动以及一个强大邻国的干预。善行本应以善行回报,勃艮第本指望的是这个邻国对它报以最真诚、最忠实的友谊。但不幸的是这一切都证明是事实。”公爵一边使劲地在地上蹭着脚后跟,一边咬牙切齿地说道,“既然如此,有什么能阻止我们——何况我们掌有一切手段——采取有效措施,从根源上遏制每年向我们倾泻祸水的这个主要源泉呢?”

公爵开始讲话时还比较平静,结尾时却声音又高昂起来。他说出这最后一句话时的腔调已使得在座的大臣们个个不寒而栗,同时也使得路易王的面颊苍白了一小会。但路易王立刻恢复了他的勇气,用十分镇定自如的声调向与会的人发表自己的讲话。虽然公爵似乎很想打断他,但找不到体面的理由。以下就是他讲话的内容:

“法兰西和勃艮第的贵族们!圣灵团和金羊毛团的骑士们!既然我身为国王必须以一个被告的身份来为自己进行辩护,我想我不可能找到比作为贵族的精华、骑士的骄傲的在座诸位更为显赫的法官了。由于我亲爱的堂弟出于礼貌不愿直陈其事,结果反使我们之间的争执模糊不清。我没有为顾全面子而说话要隐晦的理由,我的处境也不容许我这样做,所以我想请诸位让我把事情说得更明确一些。诸位,发生的不幸事件蒙蔽了我堂弟的明晰的判断,妨害了他善良的天性,驱使他指控我——指控他的君主,他的亲戚和他的盟友,丧心病狂地蛊惑他的藩属背弃对他效忠的誓言,煽动列日市民起来反叛,唆使那无法无天、亵渎神明的威廉·德拉马克犯下了残害主教的大罪。在座的法兰西和勃艮第的贵族们,我完全可以指出,我当前的处境本身就彻底否定了对我的指控。因为,只要我还有一点理性,怎能想象我一方面对勃艮第公爵捣鬼,一方面又毫无保留地把自己的人身安全置于他的摆布之下呢?要知道,类似的阴谋诡计不可能不被发现,而一旦被发现,就必然会使我,正如我目前的处境所表明的那样,受到一位理当感到愤怒的亲王的任意处置。这么说,我的智能岂不是还抵不上一个点燃了地雷的引信还安然坐在地雷上休息的傻瓜!我毫不怀疑,在索恩瓦尔德犯下这些滔天大罪的罪犯和恶棍一直在滥用我的名义——但我并没有给他们权利滥用我的名义。我怎能为此负责呢?假如说有两个傻女人由于某种感情上的不满,一气之下跑到我的宫廷来要求我保护,难道就可以说是我指使她们这么做的吗?经过调查就可以发现,由于我考虑到自己的荣誉和骑士之道都不容许我把她们作为囚徒遣返勃艮第——绅士们,我想凡是戴有骑士团领章的人也都不会建议我这样做——我设法尽可能接近于做到这一点,就把她们送往列日,托付给我们尊敬的主教——愿他归天的圣灵得到安息,”说到这里路易显得很难过,并用手绢擦擦眼睛——“我必须说,我所托付的主教是我自己家族的一个成员,而与勃艮第家族的关系就更为亲密;主教的境况以及他在教会里的崇高地位,再加上他那众多的美德都使他适于暂时充当她们的保护人,并在她们和她们的君主之间起一个调解者的作用。因此,我必须说,我的勃艮第兄弟按照自己对事情的草率看法,向我提出不应有的怀疑,所依据的惟一情况是完全可以用最公正最体面的动机加以解释的。此外,我还必须说明,我是怀着满腔友好和信任的感情来见我这位兄弟的。人们不可能提出丝毫可靠的证据来支持对我的那些无理指控,正是它们促使他改变对我的友好态度,促使他把宴会厅变成法庭,把客房变成监狱。”

“大人,大人,”国王一说完,公爵便立刻插嘴说道,“关于您的到来何以会和计划的执行在时间上出现这一不幸的巧合,我只能作这样一种解释:专门对他人行骗的人有时也会使自己上大当。工兵有时也会被他自己埋的地雷炸死。往下如何,且看这庄严的审讯作出回答吧——传克罗伊埃·伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐!”

这时,年轻的伯爵小姐在那受丈夫之命特来照顾她的克雷维格伯爵夫人和乌尔苏林女修道院院长两人的搀扶下走了进来。一见到她,查尔斯便按自己的习惯声色俱厉地大声说道:“嘿,美丽的公主!上次我向你交代我合理合法的命令,你回答我时的样子就像要死去一样。但你却有劲像只被追逐的母鹿似的远走高飞——你干的好事差点使两位伟大的君王,两个毗邻的强国为你这娃娃大动干戈,看你有何感想?”

伊莎贝尔原已决心一见公爵便跑去跪倒在他面前,求他没收她的产业,让她进修道院隐居,但面对着这众目睽睽的场面和公爵粗暴的态度,原先的决心竟顿时烟消云散。她像一个被暴风雨吓坏了的女人呆若木鸡地站着,听到四处都是雷声,担心每个新的闪电都会给她带来致命的雷击。克雷维格伯爵夫人出身高贵,姿色不减当年。这个勇敢的中年妇女这时认为她有必要对此进行干预。“公爵大人,”她说道,“我侄女是在我的保护下,我比大人更懂得如何对待妇女。除非您使用更适合我们身份和性别的语言,否则我们就要马上退场。”

公爵哈哈大笑。“克雷维格,”他说道,“你惧内的结果使你的夫人变得很有点目空一切的派头——不过这不关我的事。拿张椅子来让那位头脑单纯的姑娘坐下吧。对于她我不但毫无敌意,而且我打算给予她最高的恩宠和荣誉。请坐吧,小姐。你可以从容不迫地给我们讲讲究竟是什么魔鬼迷住了你的心窍,使你逃离故土,当上了一个冒险女郎。”

伊莎贝尔断断续续地十分痛苦地坦白她出走的原因。她说,由于她坚决不同意勃艮第公爵为她定的婚事,她便萌生了去法国宫廷寻求保护的念头。

“而且是取得法国国王本人的保护,”查尔斯说道,“关于这一点你肯定是满有把握的吧?”

“我的确认为自己满有把握,”伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐说道,“否则我就不会采取这样一个决定性的步骤了。”这时查尔斯公爵带着一种不可名状的苦笑望望路易,而国王的表情则不为所动,只是嘴唇显得比平常略微苍白。“至于路易王究竟打算如何接待我们,”伯爵小姐停顿片刻之后继续说道,“那么这些几乎完全是我那倒霉的姑妈哈梅琳女士讲给我听的,而她的看法又是以一个坏人的保证和暗示为依据的。后来我发现,他们都是世界上最邪恶的奸人,最无信义的歹徒。”接着她又简短地介绍了玛尔松和海拉丁·毛格拉宾的一些奸诈表现,并补充说,她“毫不怀疑,毛格拉宾的哥哥,即最先指使她们逃跑的,一个名叫扎迈特的人,有胆量干出任何奸恶的勾当,甚至有可能未经允许冒充路易工的代理人”。

伯爵小姐接着简短地谈到她和她姑母从离开勃艮第的领土开始,到索恩瓦尔德被攻陷,直到最后向克雷维格伯爵投诚的整个经过。当她断断续续地作完了这个简短的叙述之后,全场鸦雀无声。勃艮第公爵低着两道狠狠的浓眉望着地面,仿佛在寻找一个可以借以泄愤的把柄,却找不到任何能使自己满意的、言之成理的借口。“比如说鼹鼠吧,”最后他抬起头来说道,“我们明明意识到它在走动,我们却根本无法对它进行跟踪。但绝不能因此说,它没有在我们脚底下的黑暗地道里窜来窜去。我倒想请路易王说说:要是这两位仕女不是接受他邀请去法国宫廷的,他干吗要把她们安顿在他的宫廷里住下?”

“好堂弟,我并没有怎么招待她们,”国王回答道,“出于怜悯,我的确私下接待过她们,但一旦有机会我便把她们送往列日,置于已故主教的保护下,因为他是你的盟友,也比我和其他世俗的君主更懂得(愿上帝保佑他在天之灵!)如何既能给逃亡者应有的保护,又能照顾到作为一个君王对两位在逃的仕女所属的盟邦承担的义务。我想大胆地问这位小姐:我对她们的接待是否热情,是否反而使她们后悔不该来我的宫廷避难?”

“非但不热情,”伯爵小姐回答道,“反而使我怀疑,陛下究竟是否真正发出过自称您的代表的那个人向我们保证过的邀请。因为,设若他们果真是按您的吩咐行事,那么陛下对待我们的态度与作为一个国王、骑士和贵族应有的态度就很不相容。”

伯爵小姐说着把眼睛转过去盯着国王,样子像是想表达某种责备之意,但路易的心胸早已准备好接受这一类的攻击。他不但不感到冒犯,反而慢慢挥动着伸开的双手,环顾四周,像是得意地吁请在座的达官贵人们注意,伯爵小姐的回答为他的无辜提供了证据。

勃艮第向他瞟了一眼,似乎想表明,固然在某种程度上他已无话可说,但他仍然远远未被说服。这时他突然转过身来对伯爵小姐说道:“亲爱的小姐,我看你在这篇流浪记里完全忘了谈你的某些奇遇——嘿,就脸红了吗?——比如,某某骑士从森林里钻出来,暂时打破了你的宁静等等。嗯,我已听说过那个事了。我有可能很快对此作出某种决定——路易王,请您说说看,给这位流浪的特洛伊的海伦,或克罗伊埃的海伦,找一个合适的对象,好让她别再挑起君王之间的不和,岂不是件好事吗?”

虽然路易王意识到公爵下一步就会提出何种不快的建议,但他还是对他的话沉着地作出了默默同意的表示。然而,被逼得走投无路的伯爵小姐却顿时恢复了勇气。她松开了她一直倚靠着的克雷维格伯爵夫人的手臂,带着胆怯而尊严的神态走上前来跪在公爵的宝座前,对他说道:“高贵的勃艮第公爵,我的君主。我承认我不该不得您的恩准擅自摆脱您的管辖,并将十分恭顺地接受您愿意给我的任何惩罚。我将我的田产和城堡理所当然地交给您支配,只求您出于您自己的善心,也看在我已故父亲的分上,容许我这克罗伊埃家族的最后子嗣从其巨大的产业中适当留下一点生活费,好让我能在一所修道院里度过我的余生。”

“陛下,这年轻人对我的请求您有何看法?”

“我看是出于一种圣洁而谦卑的动机,”国王说道,“无疑是基于一种无法抗拒或反对的善意。”

“自卑的必升为高,”查尔斯说道,“起来吧,伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐——我替你作出的安排,要比你给你自己作的安排好得多。我既不想没收你的产业,也不想减损你的荣誉。相反,我想使二者都大大得到增添。”

“哎呀,我的大人,”伯爵小姐继续跪着说道,“比起失宠于殿下,我更害怕的正是您这种好心的关怀,因为它迫使我——”

“勃艮第的圣乔治哟!”查尔斯公爵说道,“难道我的意志可以任意违反,我的命令可以任意反对吗?听我说吧,我的臣仆,你先起来,暂时退出去,等我有时间考虑你的问题我就会作出最后的决定。那时,该死的奴才呀,要么你得服从,要么你得倒霉。”

尽管听到这个严峻的回答,伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐仍旧跪在他的脚旁。她的这一固执很可能会促使他当场说出更严酷无情的话来,幸好克雷维格伯爵夫人深谙公爵的脾气,赶紧把她扶起来,领着她走了出去。

这时昆丁·达威特被召了进来。他十分洒脱地走到国王和公爵面前。这种不卑不亢的洒脱既与腼腆拘谨迎然不同,也与鲁莽无礼毫不相干。这在一个出身高贵、有教养的年轻人身上显得十分得体。具体说来,就是这年轻人既能在要求表现尊敬之处表现尊敬,且又不为对方显赫的地位而弄得晕头转向、手足失措。他舅父事先已把苏格兰卫士的服装拿来让他重新穿上。他的脸色、面貌和风度都与他这华丽的外表异常相称,而且他年纪轻轻也赢得了在场的大臣们的好感。更有利的一点是没有任何人会轻易相信,聪明的路易王竞挑选这么一个年轻人充当他搞阴谋诡计的心腹。如同其他场合一样,路易王这一回也由于自己在代理人的年龄和地位方面作出了别人绝没料到的独特选择,而占了很大的便宜。在听到公爵的命令和国王赞同的表示之后,昆丁开始汇报他伴随两位克罗伊埃仕女前往列日近郊所作的长途旅行,并预先介绍了路易工要他把她们两人平安地护送到主教住地所作的指示。

“那么,你按照我的指示去做了?”

“是的,陛下。”那苏格兰人回答道。

“你遗漏了一个情节,”公爵说道,“你们在森林里遭到两个流浪骑士的袭击。”

“要叫我回忆或提到这样一件小事,似乎很不得体。”年轻人天真地红着脸说道。

“要叫我忘掉这件事也很不应该,”奥尔良公爵说道,“这年轻人在执行任务时很勇敢,他这种维护自己信誉的表现将使我永远难忘。好射手,等这事了结后倒我房里来吧。你将看到我并没有忘记你的英勇行为,看到你既勇敢,又很谦逊,我感到很高兴。”

“欢迎你也到我房里来,”杜洛瓦说道,“我该偿还你一个钢盔。我已经搞到了一个,准备送给你。”昆丁向二位贵人低低鞠了一躬,又继续接受审问。应公爵之命,他取出他接到过的有关旅途注意事项的书面指示。

“卫士,你不折不扣地照这些指示去做了吗?”公爵问道。

“请大人鉴谅,我并没有如此,”昆丁回答道,“大人高兴的话,您可以发现这个指示是命令我在纳穆尔附近渡过马埃斯河,而我却继续沿河左岸行进,因为这是通向列日最近的也是最安全的路线。”

“你干吗要这么更改路线?”公爵问道。

“因为我开始对向导的忠诚感到怀疑。”昆丁回答道。

“你注意回答我下面要问你的问题,”公爵说道,“你得如实回答,不用害怕冒犯谁。假如你回答时胆敢敷衍了事或避重就轻,我就要把你拴在一根铁链上从市场的高塔上吊下来,让你折磨好几个小时才得一死!”

整个大厅顿时鸦雀无声。公爵给这年轻人一段他认为必要的时间,以让他考虑一下当前的处境。最后他要达威特回答:他的向导是谁?是谁给他提供的向导,为什么他会对这向导产生怀疑?昆丁·达威特对第一个问题作的回答是讲出了那个波希米亚人海拉丁·毛格拉宾的名字。针对第二个问题,他回答说,向导是特里斯顿·勒尔米特推荐的。回答第三个问题时他提到在纳穆尔附近的圣方济寺院发生的情况,谈到那波希米亚人如何被赶出寺院,而由于他怀疑此人表现,又如何跟踪,发现了他和威廉·德拉马克的德国长矛手约会,并偷听到他们计划拦路劫持受他保护的两位仕女。

“听着,”公爵说道,“我再次提醒你,你的生命完全取决于你是否诚实。我问你:这两个坏蛋有没有提到他们突袭护送人员、劫走两位仕女的计划是根据这位国王——我指的是在座的这位法国路易王——的授意?”

“要是这两个可耻的坏蛋真这么讲了,”昆丁回答道,“那我就真不知该如何看待他们的话,因为国王亲自交待给我的命令与他们所讲的恰好相反。”

路易一直在全神贯注地认真倾听昆丁讲的话。当他听完他作出的回答后,就像顿时去掉了压在胸口的一个沉重的石块,不禁深深地舒了一口气。公爵又显出一副愠怒而窘急的样子。他回到原先指控的问题上来,更严密地讯问昆丁:根据这些人的秘密谈话,他是否认为他们所策划的阴谋得到国王的赞同?

“我想再说一遍,我没有听到任何东西使我有根据说这种话,”年轻人答道。尽管他内心里确信路易王参与了海拉丁的阴谋,但他认为在这个问题上提出自己的怀疑是违反忠诚宣誓的。“我想再说一遍,假如我真听到这些人作出这种供认,那么和国王亲自给我的指示相权衡,我也不会给他们的证词任何分量。”

“你是一个忠实的信使,”公爵带着嘲讽的口气说道,“不过我可以大胆地说,要不是以后的事态发展证明你那公牛般愚顽的耿耿忠心给国王帮了个大忙,你遵从他那个指示本会使他大失所望,而叫你大吃苦头。”

“大人,我不懂您的意思,”昆丁·达威特说道,“我只知道我的主人路易王派我去护送两位仕女,而无论在去索恩瓦尔德的路上,还是在以后发生的事件当中,我都按照指示去做。我理解国王的指示是正大光明的,因此我也正大光明地执行他的指示。要是这些指示属于不同的性质,那它们就和我达威特的名字或苏格兰的国籍完全不相称了。”

“骄傲得像个苏格兰人。”查尔斯说道。尽管他对达威特回答的语气感到失望,但还不至于不公正地责怪他胆大无礼。“射手,你听我问你下一个问题:根据索恩瓦尔德逃来的难民报告,叛民曾前呼后拥地带着你在列日街头游行,而正是他们后来残杀了他们的世俗君主和宗教领袖。你说你是根据什么指示这样做的?叛民杀害主教之后,我发表了什么演说,申明你在这群刚犯下滔天大罪的歹徒当中,要以路易王特使的身份自告奋勇行使领导权?”

“我的大人,”昆丁说道,“有许多人可以作证,我并没有在列日城冒充法国特使。这个身份是那些喧闹的市民们硬要强加给我的。我所能作的任何否认他们都拒绝相信。我设法从城里逃走之后,就把事情的经过告诉了主教的官吏,建议他们注意城堡的安全,这样做本可以防范第二天晚上发生的灾祸和惨剧。在危急的关头我的确利用了误加于我的那个身份给予我的威望来拯救伊莎贝尔伯爵小姐,保护我自己的生命,并在可能范围内遏制那通过可怕的残杀已变得疯狂的杀人欲望。我要重申,并以生命担保坚持这一重申:法国国王并没有给过我任何有关列日市民的使命,更不用说给过我煽动他们进行反叛的指示。最后我要说,即使我的确利用了误加给我的特使身份,那么其性质完全类似在紧急关头抓起一块盾牌来保护自己,来捍卫自己和别人的生命,而不问盾牌上刻印的纹章是否使我有权这样做。”

“就这一点而论,”克雷维格无法继续保持沉默,大声说道,“做过我的旅伴和囚徒的这位年轻人的确表现得既有勇气又有头脑。他这样做自然不能作为路易王的罪证。”

在周围坐着的贵族们中间响起了一阵表示赞同的低语声。这声音在路易王听起来固然悦耳,但在查尔斯听来却相当刺耳。他愤怒地用眼睛向四周一扫。这么多高级藩臣和聪明的谋臣普遍表示出的这种情绪未必能阻止他屈从于自己暴烈和专横的性格。所幸的是德贡明预见到这一危险,突然宣布列日城派来的纹章官求见公爵,才防止了危机的爆发。

“织布匠和铁匠派来的纹章官?”公爵大声说道,“好吧,立即传他进来。圣母在上,我将通过这个纹章官进一步了解派他来的老板们有何计划和意图,以填补这位年轻的苏格兰籍法国武士所不愿告诉我的情况!”



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