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“Seek not, Sire, to discover who he is who now writes to you. It is enough that he informs you that such a document exists, and lieth concealed within the Abbey of St. Bertin.
“On your late Sire's death, much was put in motion to secrete the deed. You and your brother being infants, the Countess of Burgundy seeing you unable to defend yourselves, bribed - no matter whom-one who now grieves for it to destroy the parchment. He who was intrusted with the business did but half his duty; for wishing to possess the papers, and with them a lien on the future generosity of Matilda, 'stead of burning, secreted them.
“When your Lordship shall come to St. Omer, the rest will be made known.
“ Your Lordship's devotedly,”— The Count read this letter and re-read it. “Whence can it have come? Who is the writer ?” He turned it over and over againthe writing, the seal, the fold of the letter, were all unknown to him. He could form not the most distant idea as to who the author might be. “ Who brought it to my gate ?Etienne! Etienne, I say !"
“ My Lord;” replied the same page, who instantly made his re-appearance.
“ Who was the bearer of this letter?—the packet thou didst just now give to me.”
“ My Lord! I know him not, he was a stranger to me, I ne'er before beheld him."
“ What fashion of garments did he wear?”
“ His dress, my Lord, was such as is worn by monks of a certain order-I know not of which. It was a long black tunic, descending to the ancles, and confined to the waist by a hasp; and he wore a cowl upon his head, so large as to completely shelter his countenance from observation.”
“ Thinkest thou, Etienne, that, should he e'er again cross thy path, thou couldst recognise him?"
" That is far more, my Lord, than I will venture to assert; nathless I will not either say I should not, for as he spoke to me, and as his hands were busy in drawing forth the parcel from his gown, his cowl in part flew back,
mine ear a
and I, advantaging me of this, peeped underneath, and caught a glimpse of him. Besides, my Lord, the tone of his voice struck upon mine ear as having something in it peculiar; his accent spoke one bred in Flanders. Methinks, indeed, that were I again to meet him, and he should speak, I could scarce fail to recognise my man."
“Haste then, good Etienne-Quick! hie thee through every street in the neighbourhood of the palace, and see if thou canst find him : if so, bid him come here upon the instant. Fly.-Yet hark! Etienne,-if he refuse to come, be sure thou quittest him not till thou hast ascertained the place where he doth lodge.”
“ Gracious Heaven !” said the Count, Alinging himself down upon a couch when the boy had left the room, and covering his eyes with both his hands. “ And is it really then, that after so many, many long lingering years of ever disappointed hope, thou now wilt cause the right appear and make the wrongers tremble !-Wilt thou now let me enter on mine own !--- Philip—my boy-my child — now then shall I see thee-see thee as thou oughtest to be, as I a thousand and a thousand times have longed to see thee, heading thy father's vassals—the descendants of thy grandsire's, and leading them against the foes of France. Jeanne-Oh, my love, what joy will this bring to thee! I must apprize thee of it."
He was just going to leave the room in quest of his Lady, when, recollecting himself, he checked his step.
“ No, no, I am too full at present: I will send hither for her. Ho there! Who waiteth ?” A page entered. “Go tell the Lady Countess that I would have her presence here, and that I pray she use her best diligence to join ine.”
“ Holy St. Mary! after so many years of anxiousness—at last-at last to find myself in full possession of my right!-Matilda too, and Othelin !-well well, I do forgive them! I will not damn myself each time that I repeat the words-Forgive us our trespasses, oh Lord! as we forgive them who sin against us. I do forgive them, may God forgive them too."
“Oh, my beloved, I have not waited long, but have much longed to see thee. I would have come to thee in thine apartment and not have troubled thee to seek me here, but chose not that the household should observe that ought had moved me.”
“ How now then, Robert, - what is't?moved indeed! I do perceive thine eyes to be more lustrous than is usual—thy bosom heaves with agitation. What meaneth this ?”
“ At last then, dearest Jeanne-right is, read !-'twas left some fifteen minutes past."
The Countess took the paper and cast her eyes over it—then re-commencing, seemed to study it more curiously. “Gracious Heavens ! What is this I read! -- Matilda—the Countess Matilda of Burgundy; was she then capable of this!- Your aunt!-Did she descend to rob the orphan of his right!”
“ Look you, my love, the words are most explicit — there's no mistaking them; the writer promises to instruct me in all things needful to enforce my right, when I shall see him at St, Omer."