« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
FINDING herself, as has been said in the last chapter, thus suddenly cut off from her usual society, and debarred from all intercourse with her lover, Emily gave herself up to those feelings of despair so natural under like circumstances; but they, fortunately, produced not in her the violent passions of anger and revenge against her persecutors, which they are apt to inspire in less happily constructed minds. Hers was a gentle sorrow—a quiet resignation to the injustice of her enemies, and her chief concern was for her lover, whom she feared might be in as bad a condition as she herself.
No sooner did she disappear from amid her companions, than a thousand conjectures were formed respecting her fate, one of which was, that the Seigneur de Mauny had had her put to death, in order to at once destroy any hope his son might entertain of being, at some future time, able to espouse her; another, which came nearer to truth, was, that he had obliged his vassal to send her into some distant country,though as to the exact spot of her banishment no one pretended to be instructed.
Gaultier, who well knew that his father, however violent might be his anger against Emily, would never have imagined such a crime as that of assassination, and yet, not being able to obtain any tidings of her, resolved to go at once to the Baron, and enquire to what place she had been sent.
The old man, at first, pretending to be as ignorant as Gaultier himself was, of the place of her concealment, said that she had quitted his house and gone he knew not whither; and then, with the design of weaning him from his pursuit, spoke of the inevitable ruin and disgrace which would attach to him from uniting himself to a poor girl, of whose parentage he knew nothing,
and whom he had protected through mere charity. Seeing that such arguments failed to produce the effect he desired, he took another course, and at once informing him of the orders he had received from his father; said that he had complied with them, and sent her into a distant part of the country, whence she would never return, until he (Gaultier) had consented to espouse some one equal in footing to himself, and more worthy of his attention than a poor orphan like Emily.
Having thus, at length, ascertained that Emily, though exiled from him, was, nevertheless, in a place of safety, Gaultier's next step was to make the Baron tell him whither he had sent her, promising, that if he did but this, he would not seek to see her : but this request was, as might have been expected, refused; he to whom it was made, alleging his promise to the Seigneur de Mauny, and the fear he had of incurring his anger, should he venture disobeying such positive commands; and then the old man wound up his discourse, by recommending him to think no more of one who was entirely lost to him.
" Then, Sire,” said Gaultier, smiling in anger and disappointment, as he rose to go—“then, Sire, am I lost to myself and to my father; and, let all the good townsfolk of Bavay put up prayers to our Lady, that I be not the only one who suffers.— Laval is at the gates ! let him enter them; the sooner the better.—Never will I stir hand or foot, to thrust him from them, till Emily is betrothed to me.”
Dispirited at his ill success, and irritated at the positive refusal he had just received, from one whom he hoped to have won over to his interest, Gaultier returned home; retired to his private apartment; and locking himself up in it, refused admission to any one.
In the mean while, the Chevalier de Laval, to whom the Bishop entrusted the conduct of the siege, had made great progress towards bringing it to a conclusion; whilst de Mauny, whose infirmities utterly prohibited him from leading his vassals in person, again sent for his son, with the intention of conquering his obstinate and undutiful resolution. “Gaultier," he said to him, as he entered,
“all unworthy as thou art, hast thou not yet enough courage to defend thine own!—To save thy parents-me and thy mother, from the destruction which threatens us and thee?-Oh! my son, have I not brought thee up and nurtured thee, and looked forward to thee as a prop and stay in mine old age; and wilt thou thus disappoint my hopes !— Come, gird on thine armour, my dear boy,—think that thy mother and myself have now no hope but in thy counage; let thy valour repay the many cares and anxieties we have suffered for thee in childhood.
-Go, mount, and at the head of our vassals defend thine own heritage.-Hark!—I hear the battering rams ;-each blow, methinks, is that which is to make a passage for the foe.—Haste ---haste! ere it be too late!”
“ Father,” replied Gaultier, “you began by reproaching me with cowardice, and then you desire me to take up arms in defence of a heritage which I have a thousand times told you is valueless to me, unless I be suffered to enjoy it with the one I love,-the only one on earth who can make me happy: and now, my most dear