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The Countess looked again at the paper. “ The scroll bears no signature !—Wherefore thus? 'Tis strange, how wilt thou hunt him out, when ignorant of his name?”
“ Doubtless he is ashamed-the caitiff!he may well be so—of the part which he hath acted in the business, and will not needlessly betray himself.”
“Well, but how, being at St. Omer, shalt thou discover traces of a man whom thou hast never seen,- whose name thou knowest not, and of whose residence thou art entirely ignorant ?” asked the Countess.
“Why surely if he hath taken such pains to come to Paris from St. Omer, for the purpose of announcing he had something to tell me, it cannot be, but that, I going to St. Omer to obey the summons, he will take some occasion to make himself better known to me. Besides, I have just sent Etienne forth into the town to see if he can meet him, and if so to bring him to me.”
“ How dost thou propose acting in this
affair? What shall be thy first step towards possessing thyself of these papers, Robert ?"
“Certes, shall I without delay go where the monk biddeth me-to St. Omer—where doubtless I shall not have rested many hours ere he will give me further notice.”
“What day thinkest thou will be that of thy departure ?”
“I would fain begin the journey to-morrow, but think it scarcely possible I should do so for two days hence. See these parchmentsthere is business which the King hath given me, of the greatest public import; I am tied till it be done, yet will I use mine utmost diligence.”
“ Thou wilt of course," said the Countess, but in a tone of voice evincing doubt,“ make Philip a partner in this good news, and tell him of the luck which hath befallen us?”
“ I think not, dearest, I shall say nought of this affair, until the document be really placed in my possession, and then we both will go to him to urge our claims.”
“ But wherefore thus, Robert !” enquired the Countess, in a disapproving tone of voice. " I would not have you slight my brother; it is neither proper nor wise to do so.”
“ I slight him not in this, Jeanne ; but, as you well know, this letter, though to us most cheering, is no proof available in law. If this monk stole the indenture from my father, he is capable of doing something full as bad unto my father's son ;-and such must I expect to hear said by Matilda's heir ;— who will, you may be certain, strive to invalidate his testimony. Now I should like to have things so arranged before I speak of it, as to leave no room for cavil.”
“ But, Robert, surely thou'lt not take so long a journey, and for such a purpose too, without at least informing my brother what business takes you from us?”
“ Jeanne, I leave it unto thee to tell the King that I have quitted Paris for a season : yet must you not divulge to him, or even to the Queen, what business 'tis. I love not to set forth my purposes before they be in proper train. This rascal monk !- Marry! 'tis well he did not think of pawning him to Otho,
rather than to me! He might have made as good a bargain."
“Well, but Robert, thou dost evade my words. Why wilt thou not inform my brother?”
"I was about to tell thee, Jeanne. Thou knowest that Philip hath of late not borne him to me with his usual show of love. Some one doth work against me. Mine offence I know not. Yet can I clearly see a change, and have at times attempted to make him tell the cause ; but he invariably hath set him to evade my questions, thus leaving me in doubt if he were guided by his own caprice, or by the malice of mine enemies. Would it befit me, think you, Jeanne, to seek a friend and confident in one who treats me as an alien ? Speak no more of it, my love,- my mind is fixed—at least it is so for the present. Philip may soon, perhaps, be grieved for the unkind demeanor he puts on,-if so, and he then seek me-why!-'tis well.”
In order to explain certain matters spoken of in the last Chapter, it is necessary to say, that some weeks previous to this epoch, Matilda had died, bequeathing the territory of Artois to Otho, a distant relative of her husband's, this perhaps through revenge for her nephew's having formerly disputed her title to it. But Robert, depending upon the affection the King had throughout life manitested towards him, and principally founding his hopes upon several recent conversations, in one of which, the reader may remember, Philip told him—“ that if Matilda died, he would aid him in enforcing his claims against the heir that she might name;"—it is not to be