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Chapter 35 A Prize For Honour

'T is brave for Beauty when the best blade wins her.

THE COUNT PALATINE

When Quentin Durward reached Peronne, a council was sitting, in the issue of which he was interested more deeply than he could have apprehended, and which, though held by persons of a rank with whom one of his could scarce be supposed to have community of interest, had nevertheless the most extraordinary influence on his fortunes.

King Louis, who, after the interlude of De la Marck's envoy, had omitted no opportunity to cultivate the returning interest which that circumstance had given him in the Duke's opinion, had been engaged in consulting him, or, it might be almost said, receiving his opinion, upon the number and quality of the troops, by whom, as auxiliary to the Duke of Burgundy, he was to be attended in their joint expedition against Liege. He plainly saw the wish of Charles was to call into his camp such Frenchmen as, from their small number and high quality, might be considered rather as hostages than as auxiliaries; but, observant of Crevecoeur's advice, he assented as readily to whatever the Duke proposed, as if it had arisen from the free impulse of his own mind.

The King failed not, however, to indemnify himself for his complaisance by the indulgence of his vindictive temper against Balue, whose counsels had led him to repose such exuberant trust in the Duke of Burgundy. Tristan, who bore the summons for moving up his auxiliary forces, had the farther commission to carry the Cardinal to the Castle of Loches, and there shut him up in one of those iron cages which he himself is said to have invented.

"Let him make proof of his own devices," said the King; "he is a man of holy church -- we may not shed his blood; but, Pasques dieu! his bishopric, for ten years to come, shall have an impregnable frontier to make up for its small extent! -- And see the troops are brought up instantly."

Perhaps, by this prompt acquiescence, Louis hoped to evade the more unpleasing condition with which the Duke had clogged their reconciliation. But if he so hoped, he greatly mistook the temper of his cousin, for never man lived more tenacious of his purpose than Charles of Burgundy, and least of all was he willing to relax any stipulation which he made in resentment, or revenge, of a supposed injury.

No sooner were the necessary expresses dispatched to summon up the forces who were selected to act as auxiliaries, than Louis was called upon by his host to give public consent to the espousals of the Duke of Orleans and Isabelle of Croye. The King complied with a heavy sigh, and presently after urged a slight expostulation, founded upon the necessity of observing the wishes of the Duke himself.

"These have not been neglected," said the Duke of Burgundy, "Crevecoeur hath communicated with Monsieur d'Orleans, and finds him (strange to say) so dead to the honour of wedding a royal bride, that he acceded to the proposal of marrying the Countess of Croye as the kindest proposal which father could have made to him."

"He is the more ungracious and thankless," said Louis, "but the whole shall be as you, my cousin, will, if you can bring it about with consent of the parties themselves."

"Fear not that," said the Duke, and accordingly, not many minutes after, the affair had been proposed, the Duke of Orleans and the Countess of Croye, the latter attended, as on the preceding occasion, by the Countess of Crevecoeur and the Abbess of the Ursulines, were summoned to the presence of the Princes, and heard from the mouth of Charles of Burgundy, unobjected to by that of Louis, who sat in silent and moody consciousness of diminished consequence, that the union of their hands was designed by the wisdom of both Princes, to confirm the perpetual alliance which in future should take place betwixt France and Burgundy.

The Duke of Orleans had much difficulty in suppressing the joy which he felt upon the proposal, and which delicacy rendered improper in the presence of Louis; and it required his habitual awe of that monarch to enable him to rein in his delight, so much as merely to reply that his duty compelled him to place his choice at the disposal of his Sovereign.

"Fair cousin of Orleans," said Louis with sullen gravity, "since I must speak on so unpleasant an occasion, it is needless for me to remind you that my sense of your merits had led me to propose for you a match into my own family. But since my cousin of Burgundy thinks that the disposing of your hand otherwise is the surest pledge of amity between his dominions and mine, I love both too well not to sacrifice to them my own hopes and wishes."

The Duke of Orleans threw himself on his knees, and kissed -- and, for once, with sincerity of attachment -- the hand which the King, with averted countenance, extended to him. In fact he, as well as most present, saw, in the unwilling acquiescence of this accomplished dissembler, who, even with that very purpose, had suffered his reluctance to be visible, a King relinquishing his favourite project, and subjugating his paternal feelings to the necessities of state, and interest of his country. Even Burgundy was moved, and Orleans's heart smote him for the joy which he involuntarily felt on being freed from his engagement with the Princess Joan. If he had known how deeply the King was cursing him in his soul, and what thoughts of future revenge he was agitating, it is probable his own delicacy on the occasion would not have been so much hurt.

Charles next turned to the young Countess, and bluntly announced the proposed match to her, as a matter which neither admitted delay nor hesitation, adding, at the same time, that it was but a too favourable consequence of her intractability on a former occasion.

"My Lord Duke and Sovereign," said Isabelle, summoning up all her courage, "I observe your Grace's commands, and submit to them."

"Enough, enough," said the Duke, interrupting her, "we will arrange the rest. -- Your Majesty," he continued, addressing King Louis, "hath had a boar's hunt in the morning; what say you to rousing a wolf in the afternoon?"

The young Countess saw the necessity of decision.

"Your Grace mistakes my meaning," she said, speaking, though timidly, yet loudly and decidedly enough to compel the Duke's attention, which, from some consciousness, he would otherwise have willingly denied to her.

"My submission," she said, "only respected those lands and estates which your Grace's ancestors gave to mine, and which I resign to the House of Burgundy, if my Sovereign thinks my disobedience in this matter renders me unworthy to hold them."

"Ha! Saint George!" said the Duke, stamping furiously on the ground, "does the fool know in what presence she is? -- And to whom she speaks?"

"My lord," she replied, still undismayed, "I am before my Suzerain, and, I trust, a just one. If you deprive me of my lands, you take away all that your ancestors' generosity gave, and you break the only bonds which attach us together. You gave not this poor and persecuted form, still less the spirit which animates me. -- And these it is my purpose to dedicate to Heaven in the convent of the Ursulines, under the guidance of this Holy Mother Abbess."

The rage and astonishment of the Duke can hardly be conceived, unless we could estimate the surprise of a falcon against whom a dove should ruffle its pinions in defiance.

"Will the Holy Mother receive you without an appanage?" he said in a voice of scorn.

"If she doth her convent, in the first instance, so much wrong," said the Lady Isabelle, "I trust there is charity enough among the noble friends of my house to make up some support for the orphan of Croye."

"It is false!" said the Duke, "it is a base pretext to cover some secret and unworthy passion. -- My Lord of Orleans, she shall be yours, if I drag her to the altar with my own hands!"

The Countess of Crevecoeur, a high spirited woman and confident in her husband's merits and his favour with the Duke, could keep silent no longer.

"My lord," she said, "your passions transport you into language utterly unworthy. -- The hand of no gentlewoman can be disposed of by force."

"And it is no part of the duty of a Christian Prince," added the Abbess, "to thwart the wishes of a pious soul, who, broken with the cares and persecutions of the world, is desirous to become the bride of Heaven."

"Neither can my cousin of Orleans," said Dunois, "with honour accept a proposal to which the lady has thus publicly stated her objections."

"If I were permitted," said Orleans, on whose facile mind Isabelle's beauty had made a deep impression, "some time to endeavour to place my pretensions before the Countess in a more favourable light --"

"My lord," said Isabelle, whose firmness was now fully supported by the encouragement which she received from all around, "it were to no purpose -- my mind is made up to decline this alliance, though far above my deserts."

"Nor have I time," said the Duke, "to wait till these whimsies are changed with the next change of the moon. -- Monseigneur d'Orleans, she shall learn within this hour that obedience becomes matter of necessity."

"Not in my behalf, Sire," answered the Prince, who felt that he could not, with any show of honour, avail himself of the Duke's obstinate disposition; "to have been once openly and positively refused is enough for a son of France. He cannot prosecute his addresses farther."

The Duke darted one furious glance at Orleans, another at Louis, and reading in the countenance of the latter, in spite of his utmost efforts to suppress his feelings, a look of secret triumph, he became outrageous.

"Write," he said, to the secretary, "our doom of forfeiture and imprisonment against this disobedient and insolent minion. She shall to the Zuchthaus, to the penitentiary, to herd with those whose lives have rendered them her rivals in effrontery."

There was a general murmur.

"My Lord Duke," said the Count of Crevecoeur, taking the word for the rest, "this must be better thought on. We, your faithful vassals, cannot suffer such a dishonour to the nobility and chivalry of Burgundy. If the Countess hath done amiss, let her be punished -- but in the manner that becomes her rank, and ours, who stand connected with her house by blood and alliance."

The Duke paused a moment, and looked full at his councillor with the stare of a bull, which, when compelled by the neat herd from the road which he wishes to go, deliberates with himself whether to obey, or to rush on his driver, and toss him into the air.

Prudence, however, prevailed over fury -- he saw the sentiment was general in his council -- was afraid of the advantages which Louis might derive from seeing dissension among his vassals; and probably -- for he was rather of a coarse and violent, than of a malignant temper -- felt ashamed of his own dishonourable proposal.

"You are right," he said, "Crevecoeur, and I spoke hastily. Her fate shall be determined according to the rules of chivalry. Her flight to Liege hath given the signal for the Bishop's murder. He that best avenges that deed, and brings us the head of the Wild Boar of Ardennes, shall claim her hand of us; and if she denies his right, we can at least grant him her fiefs, leaving it to his generosity to allow her what means he will to retire into a convent."

"Nay!" said the Countess, "think I am the daughter of Count Reinold -- of your father's old, valiant, and faithful servant. Would you hold me out as a prize to the best sword player?"

"Your ancestress," said the Duke, "was won at a tourney -- you shall be fought for in real melee. Only thus far, for Count Reinold's sake, the successful prizer shall be a gentleman, of unimpeached birth, and unstained bearings; but, be he such, and the poorest who ever drew the strap of a sword belt through the tongue of a buckle, he shall have at least the proffer of your hand. I swear it, by St. George, by my ducal crown, and by the Order that I wear! -- Ha! Messires," he added, turning to the nobles present, "this at least is, I think, in conformity with the rules of chivalry?"

Isabelle's remonstrances were drowned in a general and jubilant assent, above which was heard the voice of old Lord Crawford, regretting the weight of years that prevented his striking for so fair a prize. The Duke was gratified by the general applause, and his temper began to flow more smoothly, like that of a swollen river when it hath subsided within its natural boundaries.

"Are we to whom fate has given dames already," said Crevecoeur, "to be bystanders at this fair game? It does not consist with my honour to be so, for I have myself a vow to be paid at the expense of that tusked and bristled brute, De la Marck."

"Strike boldly in, Crevecoeur," said the Duke, "to win her, and since thou canst not wear her thyself, bestow her where thou wilt -- on Count Stephen, your nephew, if you list."

"Gramercy, my lord!" said Crevecoeur, "I will do my best in the battle; and, should I be fortunate enough to be foremost, Stephen shall try his eloquence against that of the Lady Abbess."

"I trust," said Dunois, "that the chivalry of France are not excluded from this fair contest?"

"Heaven forbid! brave Dunois," answered the Duke, "were it but for the sake of seeing you do your uttermost. But," he added, "though there be no fault in the Lady Isabelle wedding a Frenchman, it will be necessary that the Count of Croye must become a subject of Burgundy."

"Enough," said Dunois, "my bar sinister may never be surmounted by the coronet of Croye -- I will live and die French. But, yet, though I should lose the lands, I will strike a blow for the lady."

Le Balafre dared not speak aloud in such a presence, but he muttered to himself,

"Now, Saunders Souplejaw, hold thine own! -- thou always saidst the fortune of our house was to be won by marriage, and never had you such a chance to keep your word with us."

"No one thinks of me," said Le Glorieux, "who am sure to carry off the prize from all of you."

"Right, my sapient friend," said Louis, laughing, "when a woman is in the case, the greatest fool is ever the first in favour."

While the princes and their nobles thus jested over her fate, the Abbess and the Countess of Crevecoeur endeavoured in vain to console Isabelle, who had withdrawn with them from the council-presence. The former assured her that the Holy Virgin would frown on every attempt to withdraw a true votaress from the shrine of Saint Ursula; while the Countess of Crevecoeur whispered more temporal consolation, that no true knight, who might succeed in the enterprise proposed, would avail himself, against her inclinations, of the Duke's award; and that perhaps the successful competitor might prove one who should find such favour in her eyes as to reconcile her to obedience. Love, like despair, catches at straws; and, faint and vague as was the hope which this insinuation conveyed, the tears of the Countess Isabelle flowed more placidly while she dwelt upon it.

(Saint Ursula: the patron saint of young girls. Tradition says she was martyred by the Huns, together with her eleven thousand companions. Her history has been painted by Carpacelo and by Hans Memling.)

英雄赢得美女诚一佳事。

《巴拉丁的伯爵》

当昆丁·达威特回到佩隆时,公爵正在召集一个会议。会议的结果与昆丁个人关系之密切超出了他可能的想象。尽管出席会议者都是一些地位显赫的贵族,像他这种地位卑微的人很难设想会与他们有什么利益相同之处,然而实际上会议却对他的命运具有极不寻常的影响。

在德拉马克的特使演出了那一出插曲之后,伴随这个情况公爵重新对路易王产生了好感,路易王则不失时机地对之加以培养和鼓励。他一直在就他们共同讨伐列日时,他该率领的辅助部队的数量和质量和公爵进行协商,或者说,在征求他的意见。但他明显地看出,查尔斯只是希望把少数地位高的法国人吸引进他的营垒,与其说把他们看作支援者,不如说把他们当成人质。但路易接受克雷维格的意见,对公爵的任何建议都表示欣然同意,就仿佛它们都是他自己灵机一动想出来的。

然而,就在他不得不讨好公爵的同时,他还是没有忘记对那以其出的坏点子促使他对勃艮第公爵过分信任的巴卢主教发泄他的仇恨。领旨前去调动支援部队的特里斯顿还负有一个附带的使命:将红衣主教押往罗歇城堡,关进一个据说是由他自己设计和发明的铁笼。

“让他试验一下他自己的杰作吧!”国王说道,“他是神圣教会的人。我们不能杀他。但老天爷在上!我得叫他的主教辖区在未来的十年当中将有一个牢不可破的边界来弥补其狭小的面积!你得保证马上把军队调上来。”

也许路易王想通过立即表示顺从以回避公爵同意和他和解时提出的较难接受的条件。然而,如果他怀抱这种希望,那他就大大误解了他堂弟的性格,因为世界上没有谁比勃艮第·查尔斯更执着于自己的既定目标。他决不愿放松在他自认为受到的损害进行泄愤或报复时给对方提出来的任何条件。

一当路易派出了必要的信使去调动选作支援力量的部队之后,公爵便要求他对奥尔良公爵和克罗伊埃·伊莎贝尔的婚约公开表示同意。国王深深地叹了口气,无可奈何,只得照办;但过后马上提出了一个小小的保留,理由是必须考虑奥尔良公爵本人的意愿。

“我们并没有忽视他的意愿,”勃艮第公爵说道,“克雷维格已经和奥尔良先生谈过,发现他(说也奇怪)对当驸马的荣誉十分不感兴趣,却欣然接受了与克罗伊埃伯爵小姐成婚的建议,认为这是一个当父亲的可能向他提出的最慈爱的建议。”

“他是个忘恩负义的人,”路易说道,“不过,好堂弟,只要你能使双方都同意,促成这门婚事,那就全听你的吧。”

“不必担心。”公爵说道。就在这事刚提出没几分钟,奥尔良公爵和克罗伊埃伯爵小姐——也像前次那样,由克雷维格伯爵夫人和乌尔苏林女修道院长搀扶着——便被召到两位君王面前。她们看到路易王默默地坐着,意识到自己被贬低了地位而郁郁不乐。查尔斯则在路易王不置可否的情况下亲口向他们宣布,两位贤明的君主已为他们订下了终身大事,以确保法国与勃艮第未来的永久同盟。

奥尔良公爵听到这一宣布时好不容易才抑制住内心的喜悦。他知道,在路易工面前表现这种喜悦于礼不合。只是由于对国王一贯的敬畏,他才收敛住快乐的面容,仅仅回答说,他的职责使他只能接受他的君主为他作出的选择。

“我的奥尔良贤侄,”路易带着愠怒的严肃表情说道,“既然我必须在如此不愉快的一个场合表明我的态度,我想我无须提醒你,我对你的优点作过很高的评价,我曾想在我的家庭范围内为你安排婚事。不过,既然我的勃艮第堂弟认为,为你另作安排最能保证他的领土和我的领土之间的和睦,而我对法兰西和勃艮第也都怀有深厚感情,自然不能不为它们牺牲我自己的希望和意愿。”

奥尔良公爵顿时跪倒在国王膝下。国王转过脸去把手伸给他。他总算有这么一次是带着真诚的感情吻了这只手。实际上,他也和大多数在场的人一样,通过这位老练的伪君子的勉强同意——即使他有意伪装,也无法掩饰其勉强——看出国王是在忍痛放弃他的得意计划,在为了政治的需要和国家的利益牺牲他对儿女的感情。甚至勃艮第也颇受感动。奥尔良则由于看到自己摆脱了与让娜公主的婚约情不自禁地感到欢喜。假如他知道国王在灵魂深处如何在诅咒他,他激起的是何等刻毒的伺机报复的念头,那么他在这个场合也许会考虑得更周到一些。

接着查尔斯转向年轻的伯爵小姐,向她粗率地宣布为她安排的这件婚事,并申明既不容她迟疑,也不容她推延。他还补充说,这是对她前次抗上罪作出的一个十分留情的处置。

“我的公爵和君主,”伊莎贝尔鼓起勇气说道,“我服从并接受您的命令。”

“行了,行了,”公爵打断她说道,“其余的事由我们来安排。陛下,”他转向路易王继续说道,“您今早猎了野猪,下午猎猎狼如何?”

年轻的伯爵小姐看到已有必要来个破釜沉舟。“殿下误解了我的意思,”她胆怯而坚定地大声说道,以迫使公爵注意听她讲话,因为她意识到,要不这样公爵就会对她不屑一顾,“我的服从,”她说道,“只是针对殿下的祖辈授予我的祖辈的产业而言的。如果我的君主认为我在这一问题上抗命不从使我不配再享有这些产业的话,我现在把它们归还给勃艮第家族。”

“唉!圣乔治在上!”公爵狠狠地顿足说道,“你这傻瓜,你知道你是在谁的面前这么放肆吗?你是在对谁说话吗?”

“大人,”她仍然镇定自若地说道,“我是在对我的宗主说话,而我相信他为人公正。如果您剥夺了我的田产,您就剥夺了您的祖辈慷慨给予我们家的东西,而您也就打断了把我们联系在一起的惟一纽带。我这饱受迫害的可怜人的躯体并非您的赐予,就更不用说那鼓舞着我的精神和灵魂。至于我的肉体和灵魂,我准备献给上帝。我打算在这位女修道院长的指引下,在乌苏尔林修道院里度过我的余生。”

公爵听了这个话真是惊奇、恼怒得难以想象。我们只能以老鹰见到一只小鸽子公然敢在自己面前抖抖翅膀所感到的惊异加以比拟。“你没有产业,修道院长会接受你吗?”他用鄙夷的声调说道。

“如果院长竟然因此而辜负修道院的宗旨,”伊莎贝尔小姐说道,“那么我相信我们家族的贵族亲友也会表现出足够的仁慈,为克罗伊埃的孤儿提供某种帮助。”

“这是装腔作势!”公爵说道,“这是一种企图掩盖某种见不得人的情欲的卑鄙借口。奥尔良公爵,她是属于你的——哪怕我得亲手把她拽到圣坛跟前和你同拜上帝!”

克雷维格伯爵夫人是个勇敢的女性,并对自己丈夫的功劳以及公爵对他的倚重都很自信。这时她感到再也沉默不下去。“大人,”她说道,“您的愤怒已使您出言不逊了。贵族家庭的仕女是不能强迫成婚的。”

“一个奉行基督之道的君主,”那女修道院院长也附合着说道,“也不应阻挠一个饱尝烦优和迫害的虔诚姑娘使自己成为上帝之女的愿望。”

“再说,”杜诺瓦讲道,“我的奥尔良堂弟也不可能接受这位小姐如此公开反对的一门亲事,他要保持自己的体面。”

“要是能给我一点时间,”奥尔良说道,伊莎贝尔的美丽显然已在他那容易动情的心上留下了深刻印象,“我将能更好地向伯爵小姐说明值得她接受我的理由——”

“大人,”伊莎贝尔说道,由于受到各方面的支持和鼓励她已坚定了自己的决心,“这没有什么必要——我已决心谢绝这门婚事,尽管它对我来说是攀龙附凤。”

“我没有时间等你到下次月亮转圆时再来改变你的怪念头——奥尔良先生,不出一个小时之内,她就会懂得,服从君命是她惟一的出路。”

“殿下,这可不应该是为了我的缘故,”奥尔良亲王回答道,他感到他不可能体面地继续利用公爵这种顽固性格来为自己获得好处,“作为一个法国的王位继承人,遭到公开的毫不含糊的拒绝,一次就够受的了。我不能再继续向她求婚。”

公爵向奥尔良和路易投去愤怒的目光。他看见路易虽然尽量在克制自己,但脸上还是流露出暗自得意的表情,顿时感到怒不可遏。

“你写,”他对秘书说道,“对这个敢于抗命的无礼的奴才,我要剥夺她的封地,判她终身监禁!我得把她送往教养院、感化院,把她和那些像她一样傲慢无礼的家伙关在一起!”

这时,在座的人们中间出现了一阵喃喃低语声。

“公爵大人,”克雷维格伯爵代表众人的心意说道,“这事可得再好好想想。作为您忠实的臣仆,我们无法接受对勃艮第的贵族和骑士阶级所给的这种耻辱待遇。如果伯爵小姐有过错,可以让她受到惩罚一但惩罚的方式应当适合她本人的地位,也适合我们这些与她家有血统和姻亲关系的人们所享有的地位。”

公爵思考了片刻,眼睛直直地盯着这位谋臣,样子就像是一头公牛被放牛娃硬要从它走的路上赶走,正在考虑究竟是顺从,还是向赶它的人冲过去,把他撞个倒栽葱。

然而,审慎终归战胜了恼怒——他看到在座的人当中普遍带有这种情绪,同时也担心路易发现他的臣属存在不满,会因此得到好处。最后,也可能是他对自己这一不光彩的做法感到羞愧——因为他毕竟不是天性歹毒,而只是性格粗暴。

“克雷维格,你讲得对,”他说道,“我话说得欠考虑。应该按骑士团的法规来决定她的命运。她逃亡到列日是造成主教遇害的导火线。谁能为主教复仇立下头等功,并能斩获‘阿登内斯野猪’的首级,谁就有权要求我将她许配给他。如果她不承认他这个权利,我至少可以把她的封地赏给他,而由他决定是否慷慨地给她留下一点钱财,让她进修道院。”

“不行!”伯爵小姐说道,“请您想想,我是您父亲勇敢而忠实的老仆人雷诺尔德伯爵的女儿。难道您愿意把我当作一个奖品,赏给最优秀的武士吗?”

“你的祖母是你祖父通过比武赢得的,”公爵说道,“而要赢得你必须通过真刀真枪的战斗。不过,看在雷诺尔德伯爵的分上,我规定获奖者必须是一个出身和教养都无可非议的绅士。但只要够这个条件,哪怕是贫穷的武士也有资格做你的丈夫。凭圣乔治,凭我戴的公爵冠冕和骑士勋章,我发誓,这个诺言一定兑现!嘿!先生们,”他转过身来对在场的贵族补充说道,“我想这总符合骑士团的法规吧?”

伊莎贝尔反对的呼声淹没于众人一片赞同欢腾声中。人们听到盖过这声音的是年老的克劳福德大公发出的惋惜声,抱憾自己年龄太大,不能力争得这样一个美女进行奋战。公爵对这普遍的赞同声感到很满意。就像涨水的河流又降回到原来的水位,流在天然的河岸之间那样,他的脾气也开始变得平和起来。

“难道我们这些命该娶有妻妾的人就该在这场竞赛中袖手旁观吗?”克雷维格说,“就我来说,这样做与我的荣誉感很不相符,因为我个人许了一个愿,我得用德拉马克这个有獠牙和刺毛的野猪来还这个愿。”

“勇敢地干吧,克雷维格,”公爵说道,“把她赢过来。虽然你不能娶她,但你可以高兴把她赏给谁就赏给谁。假如你愿意,你可以把她赠给你的侄儿斯蒂芬伯爵。”

“好呀,我的大人!”克雷维格说道,“我会在战斗中尽力而为。要是我有幸成为优胜者,斯蒂芬还得和女修道院长去比比口才哩。”

“我想,”杜诺瓦说道,“法国的骑士没被除在这个公平的竞赛之外吧?”

“你放心,勇敢的杜诺瓦,”公爵回答道,“哪怕是为了保证你发挥最大的力量,也不能容许这样做!不过,”他又补充说道,“伊莎贝尔小姐嫁给法国人固然没有什么不好,但这位克罗伊埃伯爵可得成为勃艮第的臣属。”

“得了,得了,”杜诺瓦说道,“我纹章左侧的上方永不会覆上一个克罗伊埃的冠冕——我将生为法国人,死为法国鬼。不过,尽管我会失去这块封地,我还是要为这位小姐奋战一番。”

巴拉弗雷在这些贵人面前不敢大声表态,但他喃喃自语道:“桑德斯·苏卜勒乔呀,你说话可该兑现了!你过去经常说,我们家族将通过婚姻发迹。现在正是你兑现你对我们的预言的大好时机。”

“没人想到我,”勒格洛里尔说道,“而我最有把握从你们手上夺去这个奖赏。”

“聪明的朋友,你说得很对,”路易说道,“就女人而言,的确总是最大的傻瓜最先赢得她的青睐。”

两位君王及其贵族拿着伊莎贝尔的命运如此开玩笑,那女修道院长和克雷维格伯爵夫人从会议厅退出来之后也只好设法对她多加劝慰而已。女修道院长向她保证说,圣母将谴责想把忠诚的信徒和圣乌尔苏拉的圣殿隔绝起来的任何企图。而克雷维格伯爵夫人则轻轻向她耳里灌输些更为世俗的安慰。她说,任何真正的骑士,都不会由于竞赛得胜,在违反她本人意愿的情况下,利用公爵的奖赏来获得好处。再说,优胜者也可能会得到她的好感,从而使得服从不是什么苦事。爱情,就像行将没顶的人那样,即使存有一线希望,也会抓住不放的。这句暗示的话带给她的希望虽然朦胧而微弱,但当伊莎贝尔小姐往这上面更多地想想时,眼泪不觉已有所收敛,而不像先前那样籁然而下了。



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