Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

the rivulet, which had been designated to him in the letter.

Over this there was a small wooden bridge, defended by a gate at each end, and serving as a means of communication between the Abbey and the town. It was just opposite to this that the Count chanced to arrive. The gate, however, was locked, and indeed if it had not been so, he might have thought it more right or prudent to have waited on the outside, until his guide came to introduce him into the precincts of the Abbey.

He had thus waited sufficiently long to have weariness added to anxiety, when he perceived, passing close to him, a man clothed in the same habit as had been the monk who delivered him the letter. The man proceeded on his way, without seeming to notice him.

“ Does he not know me, or is it another monk of the same order ?” thought Robert.

After a minute's absence, the same figure returned, and this time looked at the Count as if in expectation of meeting some one, but doubting whether he was the person.

“ This is strange enough," said the Count, "what can it mean? Let him appear a third time and I will speak to him."

Again he came, but this time approached the Count with more apparent confidence, and seemed desirous of addressing him.

Is it me, Father, whom you seek ?

“ It must be the Count of Artois by that voice's tone,” replied the stranger. “ The darkness of the night made me unable to distinguish him through the disguise he wears. God and St. Bertin save you, Sire !"

“ The same to you, Father! You have bid me hither!” replied the Count, in a tone of voice between asserting a fact and demanding a question.

“ I did, my Lord.” “ The purport of your demand was—what?

“ To estate you, Seigneur, in the land which the late Countess, your aunt, of Burgundy, unjustly did possess her of and hold through life.”

“ Enough, Father, I do acknowledge you for the one I seek; and now, I pray you, put forth the manner in which you do design to bring about this good.”

" That document, my Lord, of which my letter told, is hidden in a box within a secret department of a certain chamber of the Abbey; may it please you to accompany me hither, I will then make it over to your hands.”

“You have it not then upon you ?” asked the Count, with some appearance of surprise.

“Oh! no, my Lord, I dared not trust myself with ought so precious, when walking abroad at this late hour o’night; beside which, I am come from making a long round, and should have found it troublesome to carry; but I hold the key of this gate, which leads into the Abbey gardens, and will conduct you to the chamber where the indenture lies. Please you to accompany me.”

"A word, Father, ere we begin,” said D'Artois. “Were you not he who left the letter at my residence in the palace ?"

“You have said it, Seigneur,-it was I.”

“ How haps it then that not only you arrived here as soon as I, but that, outstripping the fleetness of my steed, you did precede me, and were waiting for my entrance at the gate to thrust that paper into my hand ? Persons of your estate ordinarily travel not the country with such quickness.”

“Even so, my Lord. The reason I arrived so soon, is that I quitted Paris the very instant I had delivered my commission, and on the road I chanced on others travelling hitherward with great speed on horseback; they were my acquaintances, so I joined the party. As to the intimation I received of your arrival, 'twas given me by one I despatched to look out for it.”

“Tell me, holy Father, how chances it that you know me so well, whilst I have no knowledge of you ?”

“A Seigneur of your Lordship’s rank and bearing, passeth not by unnoted when he doth walk the streets,- I have seen you often.”

“ Where?

“ In many places, - at Paris, and elsewhere.”

“ Again.-Now, Father, satisfy me on this head! Who are you; and what prompteth you, by this late penitence of evil deeds, to seek out and right him who hath been so long wronged ?

“ Nay, Seigneur, scarcely may I name this just; have I e'er said that I was he who did secrete the document? I have but promised to restore it; never did I avow myself to be the robber. What mattereth it to you, or unto any one, who stole the deed, so that you be possessed of it at last ? Come, my Lord, time hastens on apace,-) wait your Lordship’s leisure,-say, shall I proceed ?”

“ Speed on thy ways, good monk, I follow thee.”

The monk then, flinging back his stole, took from his girdle a key, which he appeared to choose from amongst many by its size; and unclosing the small gate separating them from the convent garden, he stepped lightly over the bridge, followed by the Count, who kept close at his heels.

On approaching the convent, the monk wound his way through a path towards a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »