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teemed the Kings of France scarce good enough to mate with her! and that her Sire were sovereign of a land, ten times as large as is the speck he holds as vassal of my crown!
“ I've often marvelled why my sister lives on such strict terms of friendship with her. The two Jeannes are ever hand in hand. They neither of them love my poor defenceless Inez. Did I not hold a shield twixt her and But soft!-Who cometh now to break upon my privacy? Ah! 'tis the Count of Artois-well, I was just about to think of him again-God ye, good den Robert-How fares it with thee now?”
“And your Grace ?”
“Thanks, Robert, well! but having been most sadly harassed, as thou knowest, of late, with business, am come to walk away my weariness midst shrubs and flowers.-Thou seest with what reluctance Edward hath done homage! I thank heaven, however, that the matter is now ended, and that I may, at last, go quietly to sleep, and think of him no more !"
“Ay, my good Liege, the act which he hath signed is formal and explicit as your Grace could wish, and may at any future period be adduced, to prove that he can have no right to rule a land, unto the Sovereign of which he hath acknowledged vassalage.”
“True! were he again to affect sovereignty in France, this act of his would suffice to condemn him in the eyes of all Europe.-Yet, after all, it must be owned that Europe would but little concern itself about the justice of the cause, -were he more mighty in the field than I, I would not give a livre for my crown, nor trust for safety to the sense which Europe, or any country in it, hath of right,-but this he is not, therefore am I safe.” .“ Indeed so," replied the Count D'Artois, “ and two other reasons may be assigned why 'tis not probable he should give further harass to your Grace,--his war with Scotland, and his love of pleasure; the first will keep him occupied for some time hence, the second will, when he returns from out the North, make him desirous of tranquillity. He will then more busy him in building up his hold at Windsor--the old one, I hear, he hath just
rooted out of its foundations — than about palling France to pieces; and will think far more of making a conquest of the fair Countess of Salisbury, than of this or any other country. — But, my good Liege, this public business being thus happily terminated, may I crave attention to my private griefs ?”
“Surely mayst thou, Robert, I am always ready to hear, and delighted to be able to serve thee,-in what can I now do so ?”
“ My Liege--the Countess Matilda, mine aunt—'tis most unjust she thus should hold my land !"
“Ay, Robert, that it is, I have always said it-but what can now be done ?—Twice hath she had decisions in her favor, nor do I entertain a hope of being able to reverse them. The Parlement will surely say that should their judgments be thus liable to overthrow, 'twere needless then they should sit in judgments, as every act in every reign might then be put aside in the succeeding reign. They'll never do it!"
“ 'Tis hard indeed, my Liege - 'tis hard that I should thus be ousted of my rightful heritage,-that not only I, but my child also, should be driven from the possessions of our ancestors.”
“ Alas! Robert, all this I know and feel,” replied the King, “but in what manner can thy case in this be bettered. — Wait awhile, and I promise to invest thee with the first lands escheating to the crown.”
“ Thanks, many, many thanks unto your Grace for this good promise,—but were you to invest me with all Normandy, full thrice as large as is the land I crave, and with it three other provinces of this fair land-each of them big and fertile as is Normandy, the possession of them would not be half as sweet to me, as the attainment of that small spot inine ancestors have held since Philip Augustus, dismembering it from Flanders, gave it to his son.”
“ Why wait you not with patience till”–
“ The very word, my Liege, doth put me far beyond all patience,-so long have patience
and myself kept company, that we be weary of each other."
“Nathless, Robert, tarry with her yet awhile, till thou at least hast heard what I have to propound. Matilda had no children by her husband, Othelin; and is now too old to think of marrying; or if she marry, she is too old to bear children. If she die is it not probable that she will write thee as her heir? But if thou strivest to wrench it from her by the law, she'll be in no good mood to let thee have it even at her death.”
“ Matilda beareth me no love, nor ever did. First she wronged me—therefore fears me—therefore hates me. Then did I dispute her title—then take up arms to prove mine own—I would with all my soul I ne'er had laid them down! but trusted for success to God, the justice of my cause, and mine own good sword, rather than to the voices of those hollow-hearted Peers.”
“ But, Robert, having so acted, 'twould not be prudent in thee to rip up old wounds, which may perhaps, if treated thus, ne'er