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Chapter 37 The Sally

He look'd, and saw what numbers numberless The city gates outpour'd.

PARADISE REGAINED

A dead silence soon reigned over that great host which lay in leaguer before Liege. For a long time the cries of the soldiers repeating their signals, and seeking to join their several banners, sounded like the howling of bewildered dogs seeking their masters. But at length, overcome with weariness by the fatigues of the day, the dispersed soldiers crowded under such shelter as they could meet with, and those who could find none sunk down through very fatigue under walls, hedges, and such temporary protection, there to await for morning -- a morning which some of them were never to behold. A dead sleep fell on almost all, excepting those who kept a faint and wary watch by the lodgings of the King and the Duke. The dangers and hopes of the morrow -- even the schemes of glory which many of the young nobility had founded upon the splendid prize held out to him who should avenge the murdered Bishop of Liege -- glided from their recollection as they lay stupefied with fatigue and sleep. But not so with Quentin Durward. The knowledge that he alone was possessed of the means of distinguishing La Marck in the contest -- the recollection by whom that information had been communicated, and the fair augury which might be drawn from her conveying it to him -- the thought that his fortune had brought him to a most perilous and doubtful crisis indeed, but one where there was still, at least, a chance of his coming off triumphant -- banished every desire to sleep and strung his nerves with vigour which defied fatigue.

Posted, by the King's express order, on the extreme point between the French quarters and the town, a good way to the right of the suburb which we have mentioned, he sharpened his eye to penetrate the mass which lay before him, and excited his ears to catch the slightest sound which might announce any commotion in the beleaguered city. But its huge clocks had successively knelled three hours after midnight, and all continued still and silent as the grave.

At length, and just when Quentin began to think the attack would be deferred till daybreak, and joyfully recollected that there would be then light enough to descry the Bar Sinister across the Fleur de lis of Orleans, he thought he heard in the city a humming murmur, like that of disturbed bees mustering for the defence of their hives. He listened -- the noise continued, but it was of a character so undistinguished by any peculiar or precise sound, that it might be the murmur of a wind arising among the boughs of a distant grove, or perhaps some stream, swollen by the late rain, which was discharging itself into the sluggish Maes with more than usual clamour. Quentin was prevented by these considerations from instantly giving the alarm, which, if done carelessly, would have been a heavy offence. But, when the noise rose louder, and seemed pouring at the same time towards his own post, and towards the suburb, he deemed it his duty to fall back as silently as possible and call his uncle, who commanded the small body of Archers destined to his support. All were on their feet in a moment, and with as little noise as possible. In less than a second Lord Crawford was at their head, and, dispatching an Archer to alarm the King and his household, drew back his little party to some distance behind their watchfire, that they might not be seen by its light. The rushing sound, which had approached them more nearly, seemed suddenly to have ceased, but they still heard distinctly the more distant heavy tread of a large body of men approaching the suburb.

"The lazy Burgundians are asleep on their post," whispered Crawford; "make for the suburb, Cunningham, and awaken the stupid oxen."

"Keep well to the rear as you go," said Durward; "if ever I heard the tread of mortal men, there is a strong body interposed between us and the suburb."

"Well said, Quentin, my dainty callant," said Crawford; "thou art a soldier beyond thy years. They only made halt till the others come forward. -- I would I had some knowledge where they are!"

"I will creep forward, my Lord," said Quentin, "and endeavour to bring you information."

"Do so, my bonny chield; thou hast sharp ears and eyes, and good will -- but take heed -- I would not lose thee for two and a plack (an homely Scottish expression for something you value)."

Quentin, with his harquebuss ready prepared, stole forward, through ground which he had reconnoitred carefully in the twilight of the preceding evening, until he was not only certain that he was in the neighbourhood of a very large body of men, who were standing fast betwixt the King's quarters and the suburbs, but also that there was a detached party of smaller number in advance, and very close to him. They seemed to whisper together, as if uncertain what to do next. At last the steps of two or three Enfans perdus (literally, lost children), detached from that smaller party, approached him so near as twice a pike's length. Seeing it impossible to retreat undiscovered, Quentin called out aloud, "Qui vive? (who goes there?)" and was answered, by "Vive Li -- Li -- ege -- c'est a dire (that is to say)" (added he who spoke, correcting himself), "Vive -- la France!"

Quentin instantly fired his harquebuss -- a man groaned and fell, and he himself, under the instant but vague discharge of a number of pieces, the fire of which ran in a disorderly manner along the column, and showed it to be very numerous, hastened back to the main guard.

"Admirably done, my brave boy!" said Crawford. "Now, callants, draw in within the courtyard -- they are too many to mell with in the open field."

They drew within the courtyard and garden accordingly, where they found all in great order and the King prepared to mount his horse.

"Whither away, Sire!" said Crawford; "you are safest here with your own people."

"Not so," said Louis, "I must instantly to the Duke. He must be convinced of our good faith at this critical moment, or we shall have both Liegeois and Burgundians upon us at once."

And, springing on his horse, he bade Dunois command the French troops without the house, and Crawford the Archer Guard and other household troops to defend the lusthaus and its enclosures. He commanded them to bring up two sakers and as many falconets (pieces of cannon for the field), which had been left about half a mile in the rear; and, in the meantime, to make good their posts, but by no means to advance, whatever success they might obtain; and having given these orders, he rode off, with a small escort, to the Duke's quarters. The delay which permitted these arrangements to be carried fully into effect was owing to Quentin's having fortunately shot the proprietor of the house, who acted as guide to the column which was designed to attack it, and whose attack, had it been made instantly, might have had a chance of being successful.

Durward, who, by the King's order, attended him to the Duke's, found the latter in a state of choleric distemperature, which almost prevented his discharging the duties of a general, which were never more necessary; for, besides the noise of a close and furious combat which had now taken place in the suburb upon the left of their whole army -- besides the attack upon the King's quarters, which was fiercely maintained in the centre -- a third column of Liegeois, of even superior numbers, had filed out from a more distant breach, and, marching by lanes, vineyards, and passes known to themselves, had fallen upon the right flank of the Burgundian army, who, alarmed at their war cries of Vive la France! and Denis Montjoie! which mingled with those of Liege! and Rouge Sanglier! and at the idea thus inspired, of treachery on the part of the French confederates, made a very desultory and imperfect resistance; while the Duke, foaming and swearing and cursing his liege Lord and all that belonged to him, called out to shoot with bow and gun on all that was French whether black or white, -- alluding to the sleeves with which Louis's soldiers had designated themselves.

The arrival of the King, attended only by Le Balafre and Quentin and half a score of Archers, restored confidence between France and Burgundy. D'Hymbercourt, Crevecoeur, and others of the Burgundian leaders, whose names were then the praise and dread of war, rushed devotedly into the conflict; and, while some commanders hastened to bring up more distant troops, to whom the panic had not extended, others threw themselves into the tumult, reanimated the instinct of discipline, and while the Duke toiled in the front, shouting, hacking, and hewing, like an ordinary man at arms, brought their men by degrees into array, and dismayed the assailants by the use of their artillery. The conduct of Louis, on the other hand, was that of a calm, collected, sagacious leader, who neither sought nor avoided danger, but showed so much self possession and sagacity, that the Burgundian leaders readily obeyed the orders which he issued.

The scene was now become in the utmost degree animated and horrible. On the left the suburb, after a fierce contest, had been set on fire, and a wide and dreadful conflagration did not prevent the burning ruins from being still disputed. On the centre, the French troops, though pressed by immense odds, kept up so close and constant a fire, that the little pleasure house shone bright with the glancing flashes, as if surrounded with a martyr's crown of flames. On the left, the battle swayed backwards and forwards, with varied success, as fresh reinforcements poured out of the town, or were brought forward from the rear of the Burgundian host; and the strife continued with unremitting fury for three mortal hours, which at length brought the dawn, so much desired by the besiegers. The enemy, at this period, seemed to be slackening their efforts upon the right and in the centre, and several discharges of cannon were heard from the lusthaus.

"Go," said the King to Le Balafre and Quentin, the instant his ear had caught the sound; "they have got up the sakers and falconets -- the pleasure house is safe, blessed be the Holy Virgin! -- Tell Dunois to move this way, but rather nearer the walls of Liege, with all our men at arms, excepting what he may leave for the defence of the house, and cut in between those thick headed Liegeois on the right and the city from which they are supplied with recruits."

The uncle and nephew galloped off to Dunois and Crawford, who, tired of their defensive war, joyfully obeyed the summons, and, filing out at the head of a gallant body of about two hundred French gentlemen, besides squires, and the greater part of the Archers and their followers, marched across the field, trampling down the wounded till they gained the flank of the large body of Liegeois, by whom the right of the Burgundians had been so fiercely assailed. The increasing daylight discovered that the enemy were continuing to pour out from the city, either for the purpose of continuing the battle on that point, or of bringing safely off the forces who were already engaged.

"By Heaven!" said old Crawford to Dunois, "were I not certain it is thou that art riding by my side, I would say I saw thee among yonder banditti and burghers, marshalling and arraying them with thy mace -- only, if yon be thou, thou art bigger than thou art wont to be. Art thou sure yonder armed leader is not thy wraith, thy double man, as these Flemings call it?"

"My wraith!" said Dunois; "I know not what you mean. But yonder is a caitiff with my bearings displayed on crest and shield, whom I will presently punish for his insolence."

"In the name of all that is noble, my lord, leave the vengeance to me!" said Quentin.

"To thee, indeed, young man," said Dunois; "that is a modest request.

"No -- these things brook no substitution." Then turning on his saddle, he called out to those around him, "Gentlemen of France, form your line, level your lances! Let the rising sunbeams shine through the battalions of yonder swine of Liege and hogs of Ardennes, that masquerade in our ancient coats."

The men at arms answered with a loud shout of "A Dunois! a Dunois! Long live the bold Bastard! -- Orleans to the rescue!"

And, with their leader in the centre, they charged at full gallop. They encountered no timid enemy. The large body which they charged consisted (excepting some mounted officers) entirely of infantry, who, setting the butt of their lances against their feet, the front rank kneeling, the second stooping, and those behind presenting their spears over their heads, offered such resistance to the rapid charge of the men at arms as the hedgehog presents to his enemy. Few were able to make way through that iron Wall; but of those few was Dunois, who, giving spur to his horse, and making the noble animal leap wore than twelve feet at a bound, fairly broke his way into the middle of the phalanx, and made toward the object of his animosity. What was his surprise to find Quentin still by his side, and fighting in the same front with himself -- youth, desperate courage, and the determination to do or die having still kept the youth abreast with the best knight in Europe; for such was Dunois reported, and truly reported at the period.

Their spears were soon broken, but the lanzknechts Were unable to withstand the blows of their long, heavy swords; while the horses and riders, armed in complete steel, sustained little injury from their lances. Still Dunois and Durward were contending with rival efforts to burst forward to the spot where he who had usurped the armorial bearings of Dunois was doing the duty of a good and valiant leader, when Dunois, observing the boar's head and tusks -- the usual bearing of William de la Marck -- in another part of the conflict, called out to Quentin, "Thou art worthy to avenge the arms of Orleans! I leave thee the task. -- Balafre, support your nephew; but let none dare to interfere with Dunois's boar hunt!"

That Quentin Durward joyfully acquiesced in this division of labour cannot be doubted, and each pressed forward upon his separate object, followed, and defended from behind, by such men at arms as were able to keep up with them.

But at this moment the column which De la Marck had proposed to support, when his own course was arrested by the charge of Dunois, had lost all the advantages they had gained during the night; while the Burgundians, with returning day, had begun to show the qualities which belong to superior discipline. The great mass of Liegeois were compelled to retreat, and at length to fly; and, falling back on those who were engaged with the French men at arms, the whole became a confused tide of fighters, fliers, and pursuers, which rolled itself towards the city walls, and at last was poured into the ample and undefended breach through which the Liegeois had sallied.

Quentin made more than human exertions to overtake the special object of his pursuit, who was still in his sight, striving, by voice and example, to renew the battle, and bravely supported by a chosen party of lanzknechts. Le Balafre and several of his comrades attached themselves to Quentin, much marvelling at the extraordinary gallantry displayed by so young a soldier. On the very brink of the breach, De la Marck -- for it was himself -- succeeded in effecting a momentary stand, and repelling some of the most forward of the pursuers. He had a mace of iron in his hand, before which everything seemed to go down, and was so much covered with blood that it was almost impossible to discern those bearings on his shield which had so much incensed Dunois.

Quentin now found little difficulty in singling him out, for the commanding situation of which he had possessed himself, and the use he made of his terrible mace, caused many of the assailants to seek safer points of attack than that where so desperate a defender presented himself. But Quentin, to whom the importance attached to victory over this formidable antagonist was better known, sprung from his horse at the bottom of the breach, and, letting the noble animal, the gift of the Duke of Orleans, run loose through the tumult, ascended the ruins to measure swords with the Boar of Ardennes. The latter, as if he had seen his intention, turned towards Durward with mace uplifted; and they were on the point of encounter, when a dreadful shout of triumph, of tumult, and of despair, announced that the besiegers were entering the city at another point, and in the rear of those who defended the breach. Assembling around him, by voice and bugle, the desperate partners of his desperate fortune, De la Marck, at those appalling sounds, abandoned the breach, and endeavoured to effect his retreat towards a part of the city from which he might escape to the other side of the Maes. His immediate followers formed a deep body of well disciplined men, who, never having given quarter, were resolved now not to ask it, and who, in that hour of despair, threw themselves into such firm order that their front occupied the whole breadth of the street, through which they slowly retired, making head from time to time, and checking the pursuers, many of whom began to seek a safer occupation, by breaking into the houses for plunder. It is therefore probable that De la Marck might have effected his escape, his disguise concealing him from those who promised themselves to win honour and grandeur upon his head, but for the stanch pursuit of Quentin, his uncle Le Balafre, and some of his comrades. At every pause which was made by the lanzknechts, a furious combat took place betwixt them and the Archers, and in every melee Quentin sought De la Marck; but the latter, whose present object was to retreat, seemed to evade the young Scot's purpose of bringing him to single combat. The confusion was general in every direction. The shrieks and cries of women, the yelling of the terrified inhabitants, now subjected to the extremity of military license, sounded horribly shrill amid the shouts of battle -- like the voice of misery and despair contending with that of fury and violence, which should be heard farthest and loudest.

It was just when De la Marck, retiring through this infernal scene, had passed the door of a small chapel of peculiar sanctity, that the shouts of "France! France! -- Burgundy! Burgundy!" apprised him that a part of the besiegers were entering the farther end of the street, which was a narrow one, and that his retreat was cut off.

"Comrade," he said, "take all the men with you. -- Charge yonder fellows roundly, and break through if you can -- with me it is over. I am man enough, now that I am brought to bay, to send some of these vagabond Scots to hell before me."

His lieutenant obeyed, and, with most of the few lanzknechts who remained alive, hurried to the farther end of the street, for the purpose of charging those Burgundians who were advancing, and so forcing their way, so as to escape. About six of De la Marck's best men remained to perish with their master, and fronted the Archers, who were not many more in number.

"Sanglier! Sanglier! Hola! gentlemen of Scotland," said the ruffian but undaunted chief, waving his mace, "who longs to gain a coronet -- who strikes at the Boar of Ardennes? -- You, young man, have, methinks, a hankering; but you must win ere you wear it."

Quentin heard but imperfectly the words, which were partly lost in the hollow helmet; but the action could not be mistaken, and he had but time to bid his uncle and comrades, as they were gentlemen, to stand back, when De la Marck sprang upon him with a bound like a tiger, aiming, at the same time a blow with his mace, so as to make his hand and foot keep time together, and giving his stroke full advantage of the descent of his leap, but, light of foot and quick of eye, Quentin leaped aside, and disappointed an aim which would have been fatal had it taken effect.

They then closed, like the wolf and the wolf dog, their comrades on either side remaining inactive spectators, for Le Balafre roared out for fair play, adding that he would venture his nephew on him were he as wight as Wallace.

Neither was the experienced soldier's confidence unjustified; for, although the blows of the despairing robber fell like those of the hammer on the anvil, yet the quick motions and dexterous swordsmanship of the young Archer enabled him to escape, and to requite them with the point of his less noisy, though more fatal weapon; and that so often, and so effectually, that the huge strength of his antagonist began to give way to fatigue, while the ground on which he stood became a puddle of blood. Yet, still unabated in courage and ire, the wild Boar of Ardennes fought on with as much mental energy as at first, and Quentin's victory seemed dubious and distant, when a female voice behind him called him by his name, ejaculating,

"Help! help! for the sake of the blessed Virgin!"

He turned his head, and with a single glance beheld Gertrude Pavillon, her mantle stripped from her shoulders, dragged forcibly along by a French soldier, one of several who, breaking into the chapel close by, had seized, as their prey, on the terrified females who had taken refuge there."

"Wait for me but one moment," exclaimed Quentin to De la Marck, and sprang to extricate his benefactress from a situation of which he conjectured all the dangers.

"I wait no man's pleasure," said De la Marck, flourishing his mace, and beginning to retreat -- glad, no doubt, at being free of so formidable an assailant.

"You shall wait mine, though, by your leave," said Balafre; "I will not have my nephew baulked."

So saying, he instantly assaulted De la Marck with his two handed sword.

Quentin found, in the meanwhile, that the rescue of Gertrude was a task more difficult than could be finished in one moment. Her captor, supported by his comrades, refused to relinquish his prize: and whilst Durward, aided by one or two of his countrymen, endeavoured to compel him to do so, the former beheld the chance which Fortune had so kindly afforded him for fortune and happiness glide out of his reach; so that when he stood at length in the street with the liberated Gertrude, there was no one near them. Totally forgetting the defenceless situation of his companion, he was about to spring away in pursuit of the Boar of Ardennes, as the greyhound tracks the deer, when, clinging to him in her despair, she exclaimed, "For the sake of your mother's honour, leave me not here! -- As you are a gentleman, protect me to my father's house, which once sheltered you and the Lady Isabelle! -- For her sake leave me not!"

Her call was agonizing, but it was irresistible; and bidding a mental adieu, with unutterable bitterness of feeling, to all the gay hopes which had stimulated his exertion, carried him through that bloody day, and which at one moment seemed to approach consummation, Quentin, like an unwilling spirit who obeys a talisman which he cannot resist, protected Gertrude to Pavillon's house, and arrived in time to defend that and the Syndic himself against the fury of the licentious soldiery.

Meantime the King and the Duke of Burgundy entered the city on horseback and through one of the breaches. They were both in complete armour, but the latter, covered with blood from the plume to the spur, drove his steed furiously up the breach, which Louis surmounted with the stately pace of one who leads a procession. They dispatched orders to stop the sack of the city, which had already commenced, and to assemble their scattered troops. The Princes themselves proceeded towards the great church, both for the protection of many of the distinguished inhabitants who had taken refuge there, and in order to hold a sort of military council after they had heard high mass.

Busied, like other officers of his rank, in collecting those under his command, Lord Crawford, at the turning of one of the streets which leads to the Maes, met Le Balafre sauntering composedly towards the river, holding in his hand, by the gory locks, a human head with as much indifference as a fowler carries a game pouch.

"How now, Ludovic!" said his commander; "what are ye doing with that carrion?"

"It is all that is left of a bit of work which my nephew shaped out and nearly finished and I put the last hand to," said Le Balafre, "a good fellow that I dispatched yonder and who prayed me to throw his head into the Maes. -- Men have queer fancies when old Small Back (a cant expression in Scotland for Death, usually delineated as a skeleton. S.) is gripping them, but Small Back must lead down the dance with us all in our time."

"And you are going to throw that head into the Maes?" said Crawford, looking more attentively on the ghastly memorial of mortality.

"Ay, truly am I," said Ludovic testily. "If you refuse a dying man his boon, you are likely to be haunted by his ghost, and I love to sleep sound at nights."

"You must take your chance of the ghaist, man," said Crawford; "for, by my soul, there is more lies on that dead pow than you think for. Come along with me -- not a word more -- Come along with me."

"Nay, for that matter," said Le Balafre, "I made him no promise; for, in truth, I had off his head before the tongue had well done wagging; and as I feared him not living, by St. Martin of Tours, I fear him as little when he is dead. Besides, my little gossip, the merry Friar of St. Martin's, will lend me a pot of holy water."

When high mass had been said in the Cathedral Church of Liege and the terrified town was restored to some moderate degree of order, Louis and Charles, with their peers around, proceeded to hear the claims of those who had any to make for services performed during the battle. Those which respected the County of Croye and its fair mistress were first received, and to the disappointment of sundry claimants, who had thought themselves sure of the rich prize, there seemed doubt and mystery to involve their several pretensions. Crevecoeur showed a boar's hide, such as De la Marck usually wore; Dunois produced a cloven shield with his armorial bearings; and there were others who claimed the merit of having dispatched the murderer of the Bishop, producing similar tokens -- the rich reward fixed on De la Marck's head having brought death to all who were armed in his resemblance.

There was much noise and contest among the competitors, and Charles, internally regretting the rash promise which had placed the hand and wealth of his fair vassal on such a hazard, was in hopes he might find means of evading all these conflicting claims, when Crawford pressed forward into the circle, dragging Le Balafre after him, who, awkward and bashful, followed like an unwilling mastiff towed on in a leash, as his leader exclaimed, "Away with your hoofs and hides and painted iron! -- No one, save he who slew the Boar, can show the tusks!"

So saying, he flung on the floor the bloody head, easily known as that of De la Marck by the singular conformation of the jaws, which in reality had a certain resemblance to those of the animal whose name he bore, and which was instantly recognized by all who had seen him.

(We have already noticed the anachronism respecting the crimes of this atrocious baron; and it is scarce necessary to repeat, that if he in reality murdered the Bishop of Liege in 1482, the Count of La Marck could not be slain in the defence of Liege four years earlier. In fact, the Wild Boar of Ardennes, as he was usually termed, was of high birth, being the third son of John I, Count of La Marck and Aremberg, and ancestor of the branch called Barons of Lumain. He did not escape the punishment due to his atrocity, though it did not take place at the time, or in the manner, narrated in the text. Maximilian, Emperor of Austria, caused him to be arrested at Utrecht, where he was beheaded in the year 1485, three years after the Bishop of Liege's death. S.)

"Crawford," said Louis, while Charles sat silent in gloomy and displeased surprise, "I trust it is one of my faithful Scots who has won this prize?"

"It is Ludovic Lesly, Sire, whom we call Le Balafre," replied the old soldier.

"But is he noble?" said the Duke; "is he of gentle blood? -- Otherwise our promise is void."

"He is a cross, ungainly piece of wood enough," said Crawford, looking at the tall, awkward, embarrassed figure of the Archer; "but I will warrant him a branch of the tree of Rothes for all that -- and they have been as noble as any house in France or Burgundy ever since it is told of their founder that --

"'Between the less-lee and the mair, He slew the Knight, and left him there.'"

(An old rhyme by which the Leslies vindicate their descent from an ancient knight, who is said to have slain a gigantic Hungarian champion, and to have formed a proper name for himself by a play of words upon the place where he fought his adversary. S.)

"There is then no help for it," said the Duke, "and the fairest and richest heiress in Burgundy must be the wife of a rude mercenary soldier like this, or die secluded in a convent -- and she the only child of our faithful Reginald de Croye! -- I have been too rash."

And a cloud settled on his brow, to the surprise of his peers, who seldom saw him evince the slightest token of regret for the necessary consequences of an adopted resolution.

"Hold but an instant," said the Lord Crawford, "it may be better than your Grace conjectures. Hear but what this cavalier has to say. -- Speak out, man, and a murrain to thee," he added, apart to Le Balafre.

But that blunt soldier, though he could make a shift to express himself intelligibly enough to King Louis, to whose familiarity he was habituated, yet found himself incapable of enunciating his resolution before so splendid an assembly as that before which he then stood; and after having turned his shoulder to the princes, and preluded with a hoarse chuckling laugh, and two or three tremendous contortions of countenance, he was only able to pronounce the words, "Saunders Souplejaw" -- and then stuck fast.

"May it please your Majesty and your Grace," said Crawford, "I must speak for my countryman and old comrade. You shall understand that he has had it prophesied to him by a seer in his own land, that the fortune of his house is to be made by marriage; but as he is, like myself, something the worse for the wear -- loves the wine house better than a lady's summer parlour, and, in short, having some barrack tastes and likings, which would make greatness in his own person rather an encumbrance to him, he hath acted by my advice, and resigns the pretentions acquired' by the fate of slaying William de la Marck, to him by whom the Wild Boar was actually brought to bay, who is his maternal nephew."

"I will vouch for that youth's services and prudence," said King Louis, overjoyed to see that fate had thrown so gallant a prize to one over whom he had some influence. "Without his prudence and vigilance, we had been ruined. It was he who made us aware of the night sally."

"I, then," said Charles, "owe him some reparation for doubting his veracity."

"And I can attest his gallantry as a man at arms," said Dunois.

"But," interrupted Crevecoeur, "though the uncle be a Scottish gentillatre, that makes not the nephew necessarily so."

"He is of the House of Durward," said Crawford, "descended from that Allan Durward who was High Steward of Scotland."

"Nay, if it be young Durward," said Crevecoeur, "I say no more. -- Fortune has declared herself on his side too plainly for me to struggle farther with her humoursome ladyship -- but it is strange, from lord to horseboy, how wonderfully these Scots stick by each other."

"Highlander shoulder to shoulder," answered Lord Crawford, laughing at the mortification of the proud Burgundian.

"We have yet to inquire," said Charles thoughtfully, "what the fair lady's sentiments may be towards this fortunate adventurer."

"By the mass" said Crevecoeur, "I have but too much reason to believe your Grace will find her more amenable to authority than on former occasions. -- But why should I grudge this youth his preferment? Since, after all, it is sense, firmness, and gallantry which have put him in possession of WEALTH, RANK, and BEAUTY!"

* * * * *

I had already sent these sheets to the press, concluding, as I thought, with a moral of excellent tendency for the encouragement of all fair haired, blue eyed, long legged, stout hearted emigrants from my native country, who might be willing in stirring times to take up the gallant profession of Cavalieros of Fortune. But a friendly monitor, one of those who, like the lump of sugar which is found at the bottom of a tea cup, as well as the flavour of the souchong itself, has entered a bitter remonstrance, and insists that I should give a precise and particular account of the espousals of the young heir of Glen Houlakin and the lovely Flemish Countess, and tell what tournaments were held, and how many lances were broken, upon so interesting an occasion; nor withhold from the curious reader the number of sturdy boys who inherited the valour of Quentin Durward, and of bright damsels, in whom were renewed the charms of Isabelle de Croye. I replied, in course of post, that times were changed, and public weddings were entirely out of fashion. In days traces of which I myself can remember, not only were the "fifteen friends" of the happy pair invited to witness their Union, but the bridal minstrelsy still continued, as in the "Ancient Mariner," to "nod their heads" till morning shone on them. The sack posset was eaten in the nuptial chamber -- the stocking was thrown -- and the bride's garter was struggled for in presence of the happy couple whom Hymen had made one flesh. The authors of the period were laudably accurate in following its fashions. They spared you not a blush of the bride, not a rapturous glance of the bridegroom, not a diamond in her hair, not a button on his embroidered waistcoat; until at length, with Astraea, "they fairly put their characters to bed." (the reference is to the plays of Mrs. Aphra Behn. "The stage how loosely doth Astraea tread, who fairly puts each character to bed.") But how little does this agree with the modest privacy which induces our modern brides -- sweet bashful darlings! -- to steal from pomp and plate, and admiration and flattery, and, like honest Shenstone ((1714-1763): an English poet best known by The Schoolmistress),

"Seek for freedom at an inn!"

To these, unquestionably, an exposure of the circumstances of publicity with which a bridal in the fifteenth century was always celebrated, must appear in the highest degree disgusting. Isabelle de Croye would be ranked in their estimation far below the maid who milks, and does the meanest chores; for even she, were it in the church porch, would reject the hand of her journeyman shoemaker, should he propose faire des noces (to celebrate a wedding festivity), as it is called on Parisian signs, instead of going down on the top of the long coach to spend the honeymoon incognito at Deptford or Greenwich. I will not, therefore, tell more of this matter, but will steal away from the wedding, as Ariosto from that of Angelica, leaving it to whom it may please to add farther particulars, after the fashion of their own imagination.

"Some better bard shall sing, in feudal state How Bracquemont's Castle op'd its Gothic gate, When on the wand'ring Scot, its lovely heir Bestow'd her beauty and an earldom fair."

(Ariosto (1474-1533): an Italian poet, the author of the poem Orlando Furioso, whose popularity was due largely to the subject -- combats and paladins, lovers' devotion and mad adventures. Angelica is the heroine. Scott is sometimes called the Ariosto of the North.)

他一望,只见那可数的变成了多不胜数,

人们潮水般地涌出了城门。

《复乐园》

驻扎在列日城前的勃艮第大军很快陷入死一般的沉寂。士兵们回答口令的声音以及他们摸索着返回各自营地时发出的声音延续了很长的时间,听起来就像是迷路的狗在寻找它们的主人。最后,由于被当天的疲劳弄得困乏不堪,士兵们都散乱地挤在他们所能找到的房舍里睡觉,而那些找不到房舍的,则由于实在太疲乏,干脆倒在墙壁、篱笆底下或别的临时栖身处靠着,等待天明——其中有些则再也没能见到天明。除开在国王和公爵的住处士兵们困倦而马虎地站着岗以外,几乎所有的人都已沉人酣睡。明天将带来的危险和希望——甚至是年轻的贵族们着眼于为遇害的主教复仇所悬的那一高贵奖赏而建立起来的种种辉煌计划——全都在疲劳的酣睡中,从他们脑海里消失得无影无踪。但昆丁·达威特却不是这样,因为,只有他掌握着在战场上如何辨认德拉马克的那个情报。当他想到是她送给他的这个情报,而她把它送给他也象征着一种吉兆——总之,当他想到,命运之神诚然使他正面临人生中一个危险而又捉摸不定的关键时刻,但毕竟也给他留有得胜的机会——所有这些思绪自然使他毫无睡意,只觉神经兴奋,一点不觉疲劳。

按照国王的密令,他被派到法军距城最近的一个阵地去站岗,已深入到我们提到过的那个郊区的右后方。他敏锐地张着眼睛,像是想要他的目光穿透他面前这堵厚厚的城墙;他也兴奋地张着耳朵,像是想抓住城里有任何动静的微小声音。然而,城里的大钟相继报了凌晨三点,一切却仍然是坟墓般的寂静。

最后,昆丁寻思袭击也许会推迟到天明。他高兴地想到,那时光线明亮,他完全可以辨认出奥尔良百合花纹章左边的庶出标志。但正在这时,他觉得他听到城里有一片嗡嗡的人声,仿佛是一群受惊扰的蜜蜂正在聚集起来保卫它们的蜂巢。他倾听着——声音还在继续,但说不出它属于任何明确而特定的声音,以致既可以当作是远处林中飒飒的风声,也可以当作是雨后暴涨的溪水注入徐缓的马埃斯河时比往常更喧哗的水声。由于这些考虑,昆丁没有立即告警,因为告警失误将是一种严重的罪过。

这时喧声越来越大,似乎同时在向他自己涌来,也向这郊区涌来。他认为他有责任尽可能静悄悄地退回去,把负责支援他的苏格兰射手小分队的指挥官,也就是他的舅父,立刻叫醒。这些射手顿时尽量小声地站起来,作好准备。顷刻之间克劳福德大公已出现在他们前头,率领他们。他连忙派遣一名射手去报告国王及其大本营,同时把他这一小股人马撤到他们烧的那堆簧火后面一个地方隐蔽起来,以免火光使他们暴露。那潮涌般的声音在离他们更近时,似乎突然停了下来。但他们仍能清晰地听到在较远的地方一大队人马向郊区开来的沉重脚步声。

“那些勃艮第懒鬼都在站岗时睡觉,”克劳福德轻声说道,“坎宁安,你赶快跑去把那些蠢牛叫醒。”

“你最好抄在这些人的后面走,”达威特说道,“根据我所听到的脚步声来看,在我们和郊区之间有一支很大的人马。”

“昆丁,我的好小伙子,你说得很对,”克劳福德讲道,“你是一个聪明超过年龄的好武士。这些人停下来,是要让另一些人赶向前去。我真想知道,他们究竟在什么地方。”

“大人,我想潜到前面去,”昆丁说道,“设法给您搞一点情报。”

“行,我的好小伙子。你眼睛和耳朵都很机灵,而且心地好。不过你得小心——我不想让你轻易送命。”

昆丁带着装好火药的火统枪穿过昨天黄昏时他曾仔细侦察过的这块地方,悄悄走上前去。摸到的情况是,他不仅可以肯定附近有大批人马就聚集在国王的大本营和那郊区之间,而且在紧靠着他的地方还有一支人数较少的先头部队。他们像在互相耳语,不知道下一步如何办好。最后,有两三个离队的散兵竟走到离他只有两根长矛远的地方。看到他已无法悄悄往回走而不被发现,昆丁便大声喊道:“Qui vive?”回答是“vive Li—Li—ege—cest-a dire”那说话的人马上又改口说是,“ Vive la France!”——昆丁立即开火。只听见一个人呻吟了一声,倒了下去。顷刻便有许多支枪从对方的队列里盲目开火,说明他们人数十分众多。在这一片枪声下昆丁急忙撤回自己的部队。

“好小伙子,你干得真好!”克劳福德说道,“伙计们,让我们进院子去吧——他们人数太多,和他们在旷野里打仗对我们不利。”

于是他们进到那个别墅的庭园,发现里面秩序井然,国王正准备上马。

“陛下要到哪儿去?”克劳福德问道,“您和自己人在一起岂不最安全?”

“不行,”路易说道,“我得马上到公爵那儿去。在这个关键时刻,必须让他确信我的诚意,否则我们就会遭到列日人和勃艮第人的夹击。”他跳上马,在马上吩咐克劳福德指挥苏格兰卫队和其他御林军保卫别墅及其围场。他还命令他们把留在后面约半英里远的两门火炮及两门野战炮拖上来,并命令他们坚守岗位,不管取得多大战果,都不得开向前去。在下达了这些命令之后,他便带领一小队卫士骑着马向公爵的大本营走去。

要把上述这些安排付诸实行显然得费些时间,而之所以能争取到这段时间则应完全归功于昆丁,因为他碰巧打死的正好是这个别墅的主人。当时他正充当向导带领那支人马来攻打别墅。要是没受到阻碍而马上发起进攻,他们本有成功的希望。

达威特接到国王的命令,护送他来到了公爵的大本营。他发现公爵正气得暴跳如雷,几乎妨碍他发挥目前最为迫切的指挥职能。原因是列日人除在郊区对整个勃艮第军队的左翼展开了激烈的肉搏战,并在中线对路易王的大本营发起了持续的进攻以外,同时还有人数更多的另一支列日市民队伍也从较远的一个城墙缺口开了出来,沿着只有他们自己熟悉的小街、小巷、葡萄园和狭路向勃艮第军队的右翼发起了进攻。勃艮第士兵吃惊地听到“法国万岁!”和“丹尼斯的圣旗万岁!”的呐喊声与“列日”和“红野猪”的呐喊声混杂在一起,误以为是法国盟军已经倒戈,便只是马虎随便地应战了事。公爵闻讯后口冒唾沫,大声咒骂路易王及其部下,并号召人们用弓和炮对准法国人射击,不管它是黑是白——这里指的是路易的士兵用作标志的白袖套。

路易王的到来,而且只带着巴拉弗雷和昆丁以及十来个卫士,很快重新恢复了法国和勃艮第之间的信任。丹伯台、克雷维格和勃艮第的其他一些将领都是当时战场上英名赫赫的风云人物,这时都热忱地投入战斗。有些跑去把未受到虚惊影响的、较远的部队调了过来,另一些则奋不顾身地和敌人鏖战,重振士兵们本能具有的士气和纪律性。公爵则像个普通一兵似的呐喊着,冲杀在前,这样就使得他们的人马逐渐恢复了战斗阵容。接着他们又用大炮来吓退进攻的敌人。至于说到路易,那么这位国王的表现的确说明他是个指挥若定的聪明统帅。他既不轻易冒险,也不惧怕和逃避危险,而是显示出异常的沉着和明智,以致勃艮第的将领都很愿意服从他的命令。

战场上此刻呈现出一派极其恐怖和惊心动魄的景象。那郊区的左边,经过一番激烈的战斗,已成一片火海,但那可怕的熊熊烈火并不妨碍双方继续争夺那些燃烧着的已成废墟的房屋。中线的法军虽然受到超过自己的优势兵力的威胁,但向对方一直保持着密集不断的火力,以至那小小的别墅被枪炮的闪光照得通红,就像殉道者头上罩着一顶发光的冠冕。至于左边的战场,则由于城里不断派出增援力量,而勃艮第大军也不断从后方调出援军,双方一直在进行拉锯战。战斗持续而剧烈地进行了决定生死存亡的三个小时,终于迎来了攻城者迫切希望的黎明。这时敌人似乎已放松了对右翼和中线的压力,同时从别墅传来了几发大炮声。

“走吧,”国王一听到炮声便对巴拉弗雷和昆丁说道,“他们把大炮和野战炮调来了。感谢圣母,我们的别墅脱险了!快去告诉杜诺瓦,除开留下来保卫别墅的人以外,让全部人马靠近列日的城墙,调到打炮这个方向,插在盘踞右翼的列日蠢汉和城墙之间,以便切断从城里出来的增援部队。”

舅父带着外甥快马加鞭,跑去见杜诺瓦和克劳福德。他们正对打防御战感到厌倦,自然高兴按命令行事。他们率领一支大约由两百名法国贵族组成的雄壮队伍,外加扈从和大部分苏格兰射手,踩着伤亡者的躯体,越过战场,包抄到正对勃艮第军队的右翼猛烈进攻的那一大股列日人的侧翼。这时天越来越亮,人们发现敌人继续不断地从城里涌了出来,以便坚持那里的战斗,或使已投入战斗的部队安全转移。

“上帝呀,”年老的克劳福德对杜诺瓦说道,“要不是我肯定你是在骑着马走在我旁边,我准要说我看见你在那些土匪和市民中间,用你的权杖指挥他们哩——不过,要是那个人真是你的话,你的个子可要比你平常大一点。你敢肯定,那边那个穿着铠甲的首领不是你的阴魂,或像这些弗兰德人所说的那样,是你的替身吗?”

“我的阴魂!”杜诺瓦说道,一我真不明白你在说些什么。不过那儿的确有个坏蛋在盔甲上饰有我的纹章,我得马上惩罚那厚颜无耻的家伙。”

“大人,我以维护一切高贵事物的名义,要求您把这事交给我!”昆丁说道。

“年轻人,交给你吗?”杜诺瓦说道,“这要求倒不过分。不过——这些事不能容许别人代替。”说罢他在鞍上掉转身于,对周围的人大声说道:“法国的贵族们,整好队形,拿起长矛。让我们借用初升太阳的光芒向那冒用我们家族古老的纹章作威作福的‘列日野猪’和‘阿登内斯野猪仔’的队伍发起冲锋!”

武士们都大声响应道:“紧跟杜诺瓦!紧跟杜诺瓦!勇敢的杜诺瓦万岁!愿奥尔良的先人们给我们援助!”接着他们便簇拥着他们的首领奋勇地向前冲去。和他们相遇的敌人丝毫不胆怯。他们袭击的那一大队人马(除开一些骑马的军官之外)全由步兵组成。前面的人把长矛的木柄用脚顶住,第一列跪着,第二列蹲着,而后面的人则越过他们的头顶对迅猛冲过来的敌人进行类似刺猬对付敌人的那种抵抗。很少有人能冲过这道铜墙铁壁。但杜诺瓦就是这少数人当中的一个。他给马猛的一刺,使它一跃跳了十二英尺,正好冲到了方阵的中央。他立即向他痛恨的那个家伙冲过去。他十分惊奇地看到昆丁在他身边,和他并肩作战——不顾一切的勇气、拼一死战的决心,以及青春的活力使得这年轻人在和当代被誉为(而且十分正确地被誉为)欧洲最优秀的骑士的杜诺瓦并驾齐驱。

他们的长矛很快就被折断。但那些德国长矛手无法抵挡他们那长柄大刀的砍杀,而全副钢甲的战马及其骑者在对方的长矛下却安然无恙。杜诺瓦和达威特正想争先抢到那指挥若定的、盗用杜诺瓦纹章的人跟前,但这位骑士却忽然看到另一个地方出现了野猪头及獠牙这一威廉·德拉马克常用的纹章,于是他对昆丁喊道:“你有资格为被盗用的奥尔良纹章复仇!我把这事交给你。巴拉弗雷,你配合你外甥行动,但我不许任何人干扰我杜诺瓦猎野猪的游戏!”

对于这一分工,昆丁·达威特自然欣然同意,两人便立即追逐各自的目标。一些能够跟得上他们的武士就跟在后面帮他们打后卫。

德拉马克原打算前去支援的那支部队由于他本人遭到杜诺瓦袭击,中途受阻,无法支援,这时已丧失了夜间取得的优势。相反,勃艮第军队却由于白昼来临已开始显示出训练精良而具有的素质。大队大队的列日人已被迫撤退,最后甚至被迫逃跑,与正在和法国武士交锋的另一些列日人碰到一起,使得整个战场乱成一片。战斗着的、逃跑的、追赶的汇成一股潮水向城墙涌去,通过他们冲出城时穿过的未设防的巨大缺口退回城去。

昆丁作出了超人的努力来追赶他的特殊目标。他看见他在一队精选的德国长矛手的英勇支持下,身先士卒,仍想重振士气,挽回败局。巴拉弗雷和他几个战友紧跟着昆丁,对如此年轻的一名武士表现出来的非凡勇敢赞叹不绝。冲到城墙缺口的边缘时,德拉马克——这人果真就是他——才暂时站住脚跟,打退了冲在最前面的几个追击者。他手里挥舞着一根铁杖,令人无法逼近。他全身沾满了鲜血,几乎无法辨认那激怒了杜诺瓦的铠甲纹章。

昆丁想和他单独交锋已没有多大困难,因为他所占有的居高临下的位置,加上他挥舞着的铁杖,使得许多攻城者都想避开这亡命徒死守的地方,而找一个更安全的突破口。然而对于昆丁说来,战胜这可怕的敌手的重要性是再清楚不过的。他在缺口的底部跳下马来,让奥尔良公爵送给他的这匹良马在混乱中脱缰而去,自己登上一堵残壁想与“阿登内斯野猪”单独较量。那“野猪”似乎看清了他的意图,便举起铁杖迎战。他们正要交锋时,忽然听见一个可怕的喊声,它既表达一方胜利的喜悦,也显示出另一方的骚乱和绝望,因为它说明攻城者已从另一点突破,并已包抄到死守缺口者的后方。德拉马克听到这令人胆战心惊的声音,立刻用他威严的喊声和号角声将那些与他同生死共命运的亡命之徒聚集在自己周围,准备在放弃这个缺口之后,争取先退到一个城区,然后再从那里退到马埃斯河对岸。德拉马克的亲信组成了一个阵容严整的队列。这些人过去从没饶过别人一命,此刻也决心不求别人饶命。在此绝望的时刻,他们坚决保持他们的阵容。队伍的前列横在整个街面上,缓慢地退却。在退却时他们不断地对追逐者进行阻击,时时都有人头落地。其中一些,作为万全之计,干脆闯进市民家里大肆抢劫。因此,要不是昆丁和他舅父及其战友们的顽强追逐,只要德拉马克能凭借其伪装蒙骗住誓要拿到他的首级以赢得荣誉和富贵的其他武士,他本有希望脱险。不妙的是,德国长矛手每停一下,他们都得和苏格兰射手们激烈地战斗一场,而每次交锋昆丁都盯住德拉马克不放。德拉马克当前的目的在于逃跑,似乎一直在回避这年轻的苏格兰人想和他单独较量的企图。这时到处呈现一片混乱。正遭受军人肆虐之害的妇女和惊恐的市民发出的尖叫声和哭喊声在战斗的呐喊中显得凄惨可怕,就像是悲痛与绝望在和疯狂与残暴竞赛,看谁的声音最响,传得最远。

德拉马克在奋力逃出这地狱般的战场时,正好经过一个十分圣洁的小教堂的门口。这时他忽然听到“法兰西!法兰西!勃艮第!勃艮第!”的呼喊声,知道一部分攻城者已从这条狭窄街道的另一端走了过来,切断了他的退路。“孔拉德,”他说道,“你带着所有的弟兄,向那些家伙狠狠冲过去,看是否能突围——反正我是完蛋了。既然被逼得走投无路,我想我有足够的勇气趁我没进地狱之前,把几个苏格兰流浪汉先送进地狱。”

那副官立即遵命,率领活下来的少数几名长矛手,向街道那一头冲过去,迎击奔过来的勃艮第人,试图杀出一条血路,以求死里逃生。约有六名最忠诚于德拉马克的部下仍留下来,决心和主子共存亡,以对付人数并不比他们多多少的苏格兰射手。“野猪,野猪,乌啦!”那凶恶无畏的首领挥动着铁杖喊道,“苏格兰绅士们,你们谁想赢得桂冠,谁敢和我‘阿登内斯野猪’较量?我看你这年轻人很想试试,但你得先打赢才能戴上桂冠。”

昆丁没怎么听清他讲的这几句话,部分原因是那头盔挡住了说话的声音。然而他要采取的行动却明白无误。他只来得及叫他舅父和他的绅士朋友们躲开,德拉马克已像猛虎一跃,举着铁杖朝他打将过来。他手足同时运用,目的在于充分利用向下跳跃的势头,使这一击更为有力。然而,眼明手快的昆丁却往旁边一闪,使这万一打中必然致命的一击落了个空。

两人就像狼和猎狼犬那样打得难解难分;各自的伙伴只是站在一边观战,因为巴拉弗雷大声要求双方要公平地进行这场决斗。他补充说道:“即使他是像华莱士那样的一条硬汉,我也敢让我外甥和他拼个输赢。”

这位有经验的武士对他外甥的信心并非毫无根据。因为尽管那绝望的匪首挥着的铁杖就像铁锤打在铁砧上那么有力,但那年轻射手迅速的动作和娴熟的剑术却使他既能避开他的打击,又能以其悄然无声但更为致命的利剑向对手进行频繁有效的还击;对手虽然力大如牛,但也开始感到疲乏,难于应付。这时他所站的地方已成了一滩血泊。尽管如此,“阿登内斯野猪”的勇气和怒气仍然未曾稍减,继续以一开始时的那种气势顽强战斗。昆丁的胜利颇堪虞虑,看来还不是近在眼前。而这时他身后有个妇女忽然叫着他的名字呼喊道:“看在圣母分上,救命!救命!”

他转过头来一望,一眼看出是格特鲁德·巴维翁。她的衣衫已被撕得袒胸露臂,一个法国兵硬拖着她往前走。原来这是闯进附近教堂的散兵抢劫在教堂避难的惊恐的妇女,充当他们的战利品。

“稍停一下。”昆丁对德拉马克喊道,接着便跳到她面前,想帮他过去的女思人摆脱十分危险的处境。

“恕不奉陪。”德拉马克说道,一边挥舞着他的铁杖,准备打退堂鼓——显然他很乐意摆脱这样一个可畏的敌人。

“请原谅,你得奉陪我一下,”巴拉弗雷说道,“我可不愿让我外甥落个空。”说罢他便抡起大刀向德拉马克砍去。

跑去援救格特鲁德的昆丁很快发现这个任务不是一下子完成得了的。劫持她的那个大兵在其同伙支持下,拒绝放弃他的战利品。达威特在一两个同胞的帮助下尽力迫使他就范。与此同时他却只得眼睁睁地看着命运之神为他的幸福提供的机会从他手上溜走。当格特鲁德终于获得自由时,只有他们两人站在街上,附近已空无一人。他全然忘记了他这位同伴孤独无助的处境,正想像猎犬跟踪野鹿那样跑去追逐“阿登内斯野猪”,那姑娘却拉住他喊道:“看在你娘的分上,别把我一个人扔在这儿!你是个绅士,请护送我回到我父亲那儿。他也曾掩护过你和伊莎贝尔小姐!看在她的分上千万别把我扔下不管!”

她的呼吁催人泪下,且难以回绝。昆丁只好带着难以言说的诀别似的痛苦,放弃那曾经激励他奋战一整日、一度已接近成功的美好希望,像精灵勉强服从无法抗拒的符咒似的,护送格特鲁德来到巴维翁家。他来得正是时候,这行会主席和他的家庭正遭受乱兵蹂躏,因而得到了昆丁的及时保护。

这时路易王和勃艮第公爵已骑着马通过一个城墙缺口进入城内。他们两人都全副盔甲。公爵从头上的羽饰到脚上的马刺全都沾满了鲜血。他狠狠地鞭策着战马跃上城墙缺口,而路易王则以率领游行队伍的庄严气派登上城墙缺口。两位君王一进城便下令停止已蔓延开来的抢劫,并把分散的队伍聚集拢来。然后他们亲往大教堂,保护在那儿避难的显要人物,并在接受隆重的弥撒之后举行某种类似作战会议的集会。

克劳福德大公也像和他地位相同的其他军官一样,正在忙于聚集分散的人马。他在一条通往马埃斯河的街道转角处碰到巴拉弗雷正在悠然自得地往河边走去,就像猎人提着一只打死的禽鸟那样,若无其事地提着一个血淋淋的人头。

“这是怎么回事,卢德维克?”他的队长问道,“你提着那个死人头干什么?”

“这是我外甥干出了轮廓,接近完成的一个活计。我把剩下来的一点小事最后料理一下,”巴拉弗雷说道,“被我打发掉的那个家伙是个好样的。他求我把他的头扔进马埃斯河——被阎王爷抓住的时候,人都会产生一些怪念头;不过阎王爷早晚会叫我们大伙都跳得欢的。”

“你打算把那个人头扔进马埃斯河吗?”克劳福德仔细端详了那可怕的死人头之后说道。

“是的,我正打算这么做,”卢德维克·莱斯利说道,“如果你拒绝一个临死的人提出的要求,他的鬼魂就会缠住你不放,而我希望晚上能安安稳稳地睡觉。”

“伙计,你应该在这个死鬼上碰碰你的运气,”克劳福德说道,“凭良心说,这个人头比你原先想的更有名堂。跟我来——别多啰嗦——快跟我来。”

“既然如此,”巴拉弗雷说道,“我得说我并没有对他许过愿。说实在的,早在他嘀咕完毕以前,我就把他的头砍了下来。既然他活着我都不怕他,图尔的圣马丁在上,他死了我自然更不怕他。再说,我的小伙计——圣马丁教堂一位可爱的神父也会给我一罐圣水,来洗清我可能有的罪过。”

当列日的天主教大教堂做完了隆重的弥撒,这经历了战乱的城市也一定程度上恢复了秩序,路易和查尔斯出席了贵族们论功行赏的会议,开始聆听他们各自的汇报。他们最先听取的是针对克罗伊埃伯爵封地及其美丽的女主人提出的要求。然而,使得许多要求者大为失望的是,虽然他们原以为自己满有把握获得这一高贵的奖赏,但他们各自提出的证据似乎都有令人怀疑和迷惑的地方。克雷维格显示出来的是德拉马克通常披的一块野猪皮,杜诺瓦拿出来的是刻有其纹章的、打破了的盾牌。另一些人也都拿出类似的证据,认为自己为除掉杀害主教的凶手立了大功——这是由于为夺得德拉马克的首级所悬的巨赏使得许多跟这匪首相像的人全都成了牺牲品。

看到竞争者争吵不休,查尔斯不禁暗自后悔,不该作出那个轻率的许诺,致使作为其藩属的一位美丽小姐的婚姻和财产成了赌博的对象。但他还是指望能想出办法来回避和应付报功者互相冲突的请赏要求。这时克劳福德正好拽着巴拉弗雷匆匆忙忙地走到了在座的人们中间。那羞怯发窘的老兵像一只被套住的猎犬似的勉强跟在他后面。老队长大声说道:“你们这些野猪蹄、野猪皮和花花绿绿的铁片都靠边站吧!只有宰了野猪的人才拿得出野猪的獠牙!”

说罢他把那血淋淋的人头往地上一扔。人们很容易就认出这是德拉马克的首级,因为凡是见过他的人都能马上辨别出他那的确颇像野猪的、与众不同的嘴部形状。

“克劳福德,”路易看到查尔斯惊奇而又郁闷地默默坐着,便开口说道,“我想,这是我一个忠实的苏格兰卫士赢得了奖赏?”

“陛下,是我们称呼为巴拉弗雷的卢德维克·莱斯利。”那年老的将军说道。

“他是贵族吗?”公爵问道,“他出身高贵吗?要不,我的诺言就不生效。”

“他看起来固然是个粗糙难看的货色,”克劳福德望着高大笨拙面带窘色的苏格兰射手说道,“但我可以保证,尽管如此,按其宗谱他却属于罗德斯家族——这个家族之高贵可与法国和勃艮第的任何家族相比。因为在谈到其始祖时传说唱道:

“在莱斯利和摩尔之间,

他杀了那巨人骑士,把他扔在路边。”

“那就只好如此了,”公爵说道,“勃艮第最美丽最富有的封地女继承人得嫁给这样一个粗鲁的雇佣兵,要不就得老死于女修道院——何况她还是我忠实的雷诺尔德·德·克罗伊埃惟一的遗孤——真是怪我做事太轻率。”

看到他额上笼罩着一片愁云,在座的贵族们都感到惊异,因为一旦他作出决定,他们很少见到他对这决定将必然产生的后果有过任何遗憾的表示。

“请稍等一下,”克劳福德大公说道,“事情也许并不像殿下所想的那么糟。这位骑士有话要说,请听听他想说什么吧——伙计,你就大胆地讲好了。”他对巴拉弗雷又悄悄说了一句。

这位粗犷的武士虽在路易工面前已习惯于那种随便的态度,能在他面前清楚地表达自己的思想,但此刻在这样一些豪华的显贵们面前却感到无法表明自己的决心。他转过身来对着两位君王,开口之前先粗里粗气地憨笑了一声,面孔难看地扭曲了两下,结果也只能说出“桑德斯·苏卜勒乔”这几个字——接着就张口结舌,不知如何说下去。

“请陛下和殿下赏恩,”克劳福德说道,“让我代替我这个同胞和老战友说几句。我想告诉两位君王的是,他故乡有位算命的人曾向他预言,他的家族将通过婚姻发迹。但他也像我一样



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