Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

at his side, it was, perhaps, a sense of the great service just rendered him by that Seigneur, and the feeling of gratitude inspired by the thoughts of it, which induced him to enter on the following subject.

“ 'Tis much pity, Robert," he said, that thine old grandsire Philip left not some testament by means of which one might have proved his will as well as guessed it!-- All the vexation, all the suits and processes which thou hast had, might have been scaped by simply inditing a few - words upon a scrap of parchment. What a sea of trouble would a little foresight in him have spared his grandson !”

Ay, Sire!” replied the Count, sighing, as he shook his head and drooped it on his bosom, as if some painful recollections had been thus suddenly aroused,—“Ay, indeed! I oft have said as much, but doubtlessly my grandsire thought not that the customs of Artois would thus be broken in upon; nor guessed that when his son, my father, had

male issue to succeed, Count Othelin would have dared dispute his title.”

“Your right, to me, appeared so clear, so incontrovertible, I deemed not the voices of the court could have been so counter to your claim.”

“My fortune is much hard, and I do bear it heavily, my Liege. — Might tore from me that which right accorded to me. Your Grace doth hold his crown because he is a male scion of the House of Charlemagne, and this one fact enabled you to laugh to scorn the idle claims of Edward, who only can put forth a female title to the throne of France.-Now-mark, my Liege! Should not a fief—is it not fit and just—more than that, is it not naturalthat a fief be guided -in most cases-in all of any import-by the customs, and governed by the like law as is the land on which that fief depends?

-To the lord of which the liegeman swears obedience?-And yet am I, the eldest male descendant of my grandsire, pushed from my rightful heritage, and forced, whene'er I cross its boundaries, to feel myself a stranger in that land which gave me birth.”

“ Matters would have gone otherwise, Robert, I can tell thee, had I been Monarch in those days.—But you and your brother then were infants.-Othelin was powerful, and your aunt's, his consort's, claims, which he put forth, seemed to carry as great a semblance of reason, as just enabled the King to do an injustice, and yet save his conscience.”

“ Othelin my Liege—but no.-It is more great to pardon than to punish—and him I cannot punish-he is gone– I will not carry hate beyond the grave-may his soul find mercy! But when I've sometime thought upon that man, and on the wrongs he did, my blood hath boiled.”

“It was imprudent in you, Robert,-you must own it too,-possessing, as you did, such show of right, to gather men and arms, and conjure up conspiracies against your aunt.There did you injury to yourself and cause ; and give the Regent a pretext, for bringing up his forces to her aid.”

“ By your Grace's leave,” interrupted the Count, “ What could I have done, how otherwise have acted !-Being a child, my rightful heritage was plucked from me:-grown to manbood, I claimed justice from the King,— from Louis Hutin,-and besought that he would reinstate me in my patrimony ; but Louis granted not my prayer-he died.—The Regent, Philip the tall, whom your Grace just mentioned, was not less in mine aunt's interest than had been his brother Louis.-I made war upon Matilda therefore, knowing it to be the only means I had of getting possession of mine own.”

“There is much truth in this,” replied Philip, * but you did so offend the King by not laying down arms at his command, that 'tis no great marvel he felt indisposed to favor you when he had enforced obedience at Amiens.-Amidst the barons too, thy judges, were many most unfriendly to thy cause. I told thee of

it at the time, but 'stead of harkening to my counsel, and bearing in thy voice and mien that suing tone and soothing air which suitors wont to use, thou didst, meseems, take special joy in flouting them.-Thy bearing was too proud, -too peremptory, -as though thou didst disdain thyself for being a suppliant, and only sought, by the poor aid of reason and of justice, to wring and wrench from them the right thou shouldst have asked for as a boon.”—

“ Please you, my Liege, I have ever been a poor suppliant."

“ But this not pleaseth me at all, fair cousin, I asked thee not to humble thee below the fit demeanor of a man; but only just to bear thyself as though thou didst not slight their judgments.—This bade I thee, and this thou didst neglect to do. What hast thou lost, what gained by the refusal !” is .

“ The privilege, my Liege, of scorning those who wronged me.” .. .

“ Thou dost not, Robert, feel more deep contempt for them, than I myself perchance do

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »