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The Prior's letter passed successively through the hands of all present; each made some remark. The Seigneur de Marigni was the first who took upon himself to address the Count of Artois.
“There is here spoken of,” he said, holding the letter in his hand, “a certain scroll, which the good Prior says was found beside the corse : and this, he thinks, may chance to fing some light upon the matter. Have you thus thought, my Lord, and therefore kept it? If so, I pray you hand it to me.”
“My Lord Abbot,” said Robert, addressing him, " you did think fit to save that paper from the flames-with your good licence now"
" Behold !” the Abbot replied, holding it out to him. Robert delivered the writing to Marigni, who after having glanced over it“ There is nought to be deciphered here," he said, returning it.
“ Thus did I too say and think,” replied Robert,“ when I first saw and would have rent it as a useless scrawl. It was the reverend Abbot who bade me keep it, saying it might chance to render me good service. Since then I have, methinks, deciphered something. If I mistake not, this is the signature of the Lord of Flanders. I knew not,” he continued, turning towards Louis with an ironical smile, “ I knew not, Seigneur, till this scroll did so instruct me, you were on such strict terms of friendship with poor monks who tramp the country round in quest of food, or wherewithal to purchase it. Chance is I did mistake, — Own you this for your writing, Sire?”
Louis seemed to start at these words; however he took the paper and looked at it. Had it originally contained treason or blasphemy,
so obliterated were the characters that it would have little mattered to the writer. Whether it was from a feeling of security on this point, or because the writing was really unimportant, cannot be known, but he calmly acknowledged it to be his; and added, that it was an answer to an application for alms, which he had received from the friar.
“ Please you, reverend Father,” said some one present, “who might be this friar John ?”
"He was a mendicant of St. Peter's Priory, near Cassel,” the Abbot answered; “ I knew little more of him than this; we are accustomed to many such,—so many truly, that the list of their names is longer than my memory. I chance, however, to remember this poor friar's,-it was Zannecq.”
“ True !” said Robert, turning towards the questioner, and then glancing at the King with a slight smile; " and when I first did hear it mentioned, it struck upon mine ear as one not quite unknown to it; I have since learned that he was brother to one Zannecq-a woollen chapman of Mount Cassel-a rebel, who in times gone by and now-happily forgotten, revolted—the caitiff!—from the mild empire of his Lord.”
If-as is commonly enough the case-people are apt to forget benefits, they nevertheless can remember perfectly well the being taunted with them. Philip felt the reproach. He stooped his head for a moment, inclining it towards some papers which lay before him.
The Abbot marked " the angry spot upon his brow," and, feeling the imprudence of which his friend had just been guilty, wished to lessen the evil likely to arise from it: so took advantage of an ensuing pause to change the current of the conversation, and direct the thoughts both of the King and his council into a different channel.
“Your Grace,” he began, addressing himself to the Monarch,“ by the perusal of this letter perceiveth that a murder hath been committed - not only murder, but that sacrilege hath been done; for it was a son and servitor of the Church who fell a victim to the brutal violence of some unholy robber. I would entreat it of your
Grace,-and not I alone entreat it,—but, the holy Prior, the spiritual Father of the murdered, who, hearing of my design to journey hitherward, besought that I would lay the case before your Grace-entreateth it.-And again, not simply we, the ministers of the cross entreat, but Christ himself, and our most holy Mother Church entreat, nay do command, that you be pleased to take this felony into your serious thought, and use those means which God hath given to you, as Sovereign of his people, to bring to light this act, and unto condign punishment the actors in it.”
“ Holy Abbot,” replied the King, “ remain at peace, and rest assured no step shall be untrodden, and no path unsought, which may bring to judgment the author of this atrocious wickedness. We will not suffer the laws of our kingdom to be broken, nor ourselves thus set at nought. Had not your Reverence craved it for a boon, our conscience had nathless commanded it as a duty. We will see to itBe content.” “My Lord,” the Abbot rejoined, “ I hitherto VOL. 1.