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matters ; nor should I have done so now, but as a frolic that I might surprise the King, as I have yourself.”
“ Slight matters, Inez !-marry, fair girl, matters are slight or solid just as they suit to further or delay our purposes, and this is all we want for ours, -80 no slight matter I can tell thee."-- Here the Count hesitated a moment, as if fearful, or perhaps ashamed of proposing, even to Inez, the plan of little villany which the sight of her writing had suggested to his mind, and which he deemed it possible she might reject.-Recovering himself, however,-" Inez," he said, “may I trust thee with a secret?—the plan which I have just laid to ruin him we hate ?”
“ In troth, Sire, I muse you should think it needful to ask so slight a question; have I not oft had secrets in my keeping ? and have you ever known me break the faith reposed ?"
It never hath been thine interest, Inez!pretty Inez!- thought Louis to himself.-Then, speaking aloud,
“Nay, nay, my pretty pet,” he said, “be not offended — hear me—this is a secret of mighty import, if thou holdest true to me, success will make thy fortune.”
“ Ha! indeed !- Forth with it then.-So that it do advance her fortunes, Inez shall cry-content!”
“Well spoken! First be it then my care that this ne'er rise against us.- Somso!Tis well,” said Louis, as he perceived the parchment curling in the flames he kindled to consume it, — “ that shall ne'er witness 'gainst us.”
“Ah!” exclaimed Inez, attempting to snatch her writing from the fire,—“ Ah! what have you done ?—'twill cost me three days' labor to re-copy this.”
“ Should it,” replied Louis, holding back her hand, -- " Should it cost thee as many weeks, or months, or years, Inez,—thou wilt nathless-hearing my reasons — say that I have wisely done. — Ay! thou must copy this again, - but mind thou do it in thine own natural writing, so that whene'er the King requires it from thee, wonder be not raised in him, as 'twas in me, at this much likeness to the original.-Dost note and understand my words ?”
" I note, but understand them not,” replied Inez,—“ for wherefore this?— to what good tendeth it?—what purpose can it answer ?"
“A word in thine ear, Inez,—didst not thou just now tell me that thou hatedst the Count of Artois ?”
“ Ay, truly, so I said, but I detest the Countess, his dame.”
“ Thou canst scarce make such distinction twixt them, child--seeing they be one."
“ Well then, Sire, say that I detest them both, I still lack wit to see how this destruction of my pains will serve to quench my loathing.”
“ Hist! then, whilst I unravel all my meaning. Thou knowest that Robert, when his grandsire died, was deemed by his curators rightful heir to all the lands of Artois. But that his aunt Matilda-being a daughter of his grandsire's—thought that, as she was more
near of him unto her father than his grandson was, she ought to be invested with these lands; and so put forth her claim. Otho her husband being in much favor with the King, and Robert, then a child, unable to enforce his rights,drew to himself the suffrages of almost all the Peers and Barons”
" True, Seigneur, true, the bruit of all this hath reached unto me-I have heard of Robert's claims, and that they were rejected. But how I pray you—for I see not-albeit perchance your meaning doth go deeper than 'tis given unto my shallow wit to dive-how will this further our designs ?”
“Silence then, whilst I shall tell thee how to mar his fortunes and assure thine own.I say, assure thy fortunes, Inez! for never hope to stand in Philip's favor firmly fixed, whilst this said Countess purs around the Queen.Thou knowest how much they do affection one the other; and that she-out of pity to her friend--ill brooks the conduct of her brother, and his false play to her.-She hath much inAuence too upon the mind of Robert, who
i plague upon him! rules the King, whomD'Artois being gone— 'tis thou alone shalt rule.-But mark me, Inez! fail in this, and give the game as lost.-Thy footing in the palace is but slippery,—nay, frown not so ! I tell it thee again-till thou hast plucked this canker from the King."
“But how-how-in what manner, way, means by what device may this so high advancement in my fortunes be accomplished ?how may such great good be wrought ?-Speak, or I die with impatience,” exclaimed Inez, half sising in her seat, and clasping to her hands in impatient but joyful anticipation.
“ Thou must counterfeit. — But hark, the clarion !--His Grace approaches,-I must postpone the tale.-Hist!-hist!—not a word, or look, or sign, which may betray thy secret. --Dream not even of it, lest thou cry out in sleep,— My toe is done to ruin.'—Compose thy looks to gravity.” “ Trust me!”
Yet again, Inez! One other word — couldst but persuade the King, that Robert