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“ Most holy and revered Father.
“ Would that it were now in my power to shew that gratitude which I and all of my House must feel towards one, whose hospitality to the brethren of whom it hath pleased God to make me the Superior, merits our most faithful service.
“ My good Lord Abbot, the Brother of whom you demand tidings, left your roof, as you do rightly state, some ten or twelve days since: and then had it in design to make a further circuit in the province of Picardy, in order to gather from the faithful in Christ, some of those superfluities wherewith they are
wont to supply the wants of us, whose only resource is in their bounty.
“ Thus much of Brother John's past endeavours and future intentions, we learned from one whom he met with in his travels, and charged to acquaint us with them.
“ It was on the ninth day of this month, and about the period of his expected return, that a friar, bearing the costume of our order, was discovered, lying murdered, in a forest between two and three leagues hence. In this state he must have been for many days, as the birds had had time to prey upon his mortal remains, and had so disfigured his countenance as to render it impossible to decide whether he was or not the Brother we expected: but his stature being the same, and his habit that of our order, we made little question but that 'twas he; so had him conveyed to the Priory, and here interred.
“ The assassins had stripped him of all the little gleanings which the charity of the faithful had enabled him to make upon his journey. There was, however, found still remaining
upon his person, a paper stating the amount of these: to you it can import nothing, I therefore will not send it. But there was also lying upon the ground beside him, a letter addressed to himself; it was torn, soiled with blood and dirt, and had its characters almost obliterated by the rain. It is entirely illegible, except the superscription and a few of the last words which, being unconnected with the rest, are unintelligible.
“ What this paper may import, whether ought of which you may desire to be instructed, or whether you will be able to glean any thing tending to make manifest the business you have in hand, I guess not. Yet send I it to you, holy Father, with despatch, lest you suppose I leave ought untried to aid you in the quest.
“ Holy Father, accept the baisements of your humble servitor,
“Vincent, Prior of St. Pierre.” This letter was folded up with the other in the form of a small parcel. The rain had nearly obliterated the characters in which the superscription was written, still, however, they were legible: those of the interior of the letter were not so, except indeed the few last lines which the Prior had noticed. Yet a part of the signature had, by some accident, been less injured by the water than the rest of the scroll; Louis de was evident, but unfortunately the parchment had been torn off, and as its fellow piece did not accompany it, the Abbot found it utterly impossible to guess whose signature it was.
Robert looked at it a minute and exclaimed, “ I do much mistake if this be not Louis’ writing Now what, in the name of all the blessed Saints, can Louis of Flanders have had to tell the poor mendicant friar, Brother John!”
“I know not, truly,” replied the Abbot ; but see, here is said something about charity to his convent, and the merit which hem Brother John-will have in-in-What is it? --the writing is so blotted I cannot make it out. Most likely, I think, the friar had applied to him for assistance, and this letter is, no doubt, a grant or a refusal—there is no possibility of saying which it is of the demand.”
“Why Louis is at Paris now, as I have lately had occasion to tell you, Father; it is not probable, I think, that the friar should have applied to him from so great a distance."
“Look, my Lord, at the date of the letter! It was penned three months ago.”
“Ah, true," replied D'Artois, nearing the writing to his eye, “ 'tis so indeed,– I took no note of that. Is Louis then an almsgiver, that mendicant friars should thus solicit bounty from him ?" He then canted it aside upon the table as a worthless object.
"No," said the Abbot, stretching out his arm and taking hold of it again; “ let us preserve this, it may chance to elucidate something, and should it fail to do so, will not much embarrass us by its bulk. Now, my Lord of Artois, what will you ?-How shall you proceed ?”
“I wot not, holy Father,-my heart is full of sorrow. The King will ne'er consent to