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He look'd, and saw what numbers numberless The city gates outpour'd.--PARADISE REGAINED
A dead silence soon reigned over that great host which lay in leaguer before Liege. For a long time the cries of the soldiers repeating their signals, and seeking to join their several banners, sounded like the howling of bewildered dogs seeking their masters. But at length, overcome with weariness by the fatigues of the day, the dispersed soldiers crowded under such shelter as they could meet with, and those who could find none sunk down through very fatigue under walls, hedges, and such temporary protection, there to await for morning -- a morning which some of them were never to behold. A dead sleep fell on almost all, excepting those who kept a faint and wary watch by the lodgings of the King and the Duke. The dangers and hopes of the morrow -- even the schemes of glory which many of the young nobility had founded upon the splendid prize held out to him who should avenge the murdered Bishop of Liege -- glided from their recollection as they lay stupefied with fatigue and sleep. But not so with Quentin Durward. The knowledge that he alone was possessed of the means of distinguishing La Marck in the contest -- the recollection by whom that information had been communicated, and the fair augury which might be drawn from her conveying it to him -- the thought that his fortune had brought him to a most perilous and doubtful crisis indeed, but one where there was still, at least, a chance of his coming off triumphant -- banished every desire to sleep and strung his nerves with vigour which defied fatigue.
Posted, by the King's express order, on the extreme point between the French quarters and the town, a good way to the right of the suburb which we have mentioned, he sharpened his eye to penetrate the mass which lay before him, and excited his ears to catch the slightest sound which might announce any commotion in the beleaguered city. But its huge clocks had successively knelled three hours after midnight, and all continued still and silent as the grave.
At length, and just when Quentin began to think the attack would be deferred till daybreak, and joyfully recollected that there would be then light enough to descry the Bar Sinister across the Fleur de lis of Orleans, he thought he heard in the city a humming murmur, like that of disturbed bees mustering for the defence of their hives. He listened -- the noise continued, but it was of a character so undistinguished by any peculiar or precise sound, that it might be the murmur of a wind arising among the boughs of a distant grove, or perhaps some stream, swollen by the late rain, which was discharging itself into the sluggish Maes with more than usual clamour. Quentin was prevented by these considerations from instantly giving the alarm, which, if done carelessly, would have been a heavy offence. But, when the noise rose louder, and seemed pouring at the same time towards his own post, and towards the suburb, he deemed it his duty to fall back as silently as possible and call his uncle, who commanded the small body of Archers destined to his support. All were on their feet in a moment, and with as little noise as possible. In less than a second Lord Crawford was at their head, and, dispatching an Archer to alarm the King and his household, drew back his little party to some distance behind their watchfire, that they might not be seen by its light. The rushing sound, which had approached them more nearly, seemed suddenly to have ceased, but they still heard distinctly the more distant heavy tread of a large body of men approaching the suburb.
"The lazy Burgundians are asleep on their post," whispered Crawford; "make for the suburb, Cunningham, and awaken the stupid oxen."
"Keep well to the rear as you go," said Durward; "if ever I heard the tread of mortal men, there is a strong body interposed between us and the suburb."
"Well said, Quentin, my dainty callant," said Crawford; "thou art a soldier beyond thy years. They only made halt till the others come forward. -- I would I had some knowledge where they are!"
"I will creep forward, my Lord," said Quentin, "and endeavour to bring you information."
"Do so, my bonny chield; thou hast sharp ears and eyes, and good will -- but take heed -- I would not lose thee for two and a plack [an homely Scottish expression for something you value]."
Quentin, with his harquebuss ready prepared, stole forward, through ground which he had reconnoitred carefully in the twilight of the preceding evening, until he was not only certain that he was in the neighbourhood of a very large body of men, who were standing fast betwixt the King's quarters and the suburbs, but also that there was a detached party of smaller number in advance, and very close to him. They seemed to whisper together, as if uncertain what to do next. At last the steps of two or three Enfans perdus [literally, lost children], detached from that smaller party, approached him so near as twice a pike's length. Seeing it impossible to retreat undiscovered, Quentin called out aloud, "Qui vive? [who goes there?]" and was answered, by "Vive Li -- Li -- ege -- c'est a dire [that is to say]" (added he who spoke, correcting himself), "Vive -- la France!"
Quentin instantly fired his harquebuss -- a man groaned and fell, and he himself, under the instant but vague discharge of a number of pieces, the fire of which ran in a disorderly manner along the column, and showed it to be very numerous, hastened back to the main guard.
"Admirably done, my brave boy!" said Crawford. "Now, callants, draw in within the courtyard -- they are too many to mell with in the open field."
They drew within the courtyard and garden accordingly, where they found all in great order and the King prepared to mount his horse.
"Whither away, Sire!" said Crawford; "you are safest here with your own people."
"Not so," said Louis, "I must instantly to the Duke. He must be convinced of our good faith at this critical moment, or we shall have both Liegeois and Burgundians upon us at once."
And, springing on his horse, he bade Dunois command the French troops without the house, and Crawford the Archer Guard and other household troops to defend the lusthaus and its enclosures. He commanded them to bring up two sakers and as many falconets (pieces of cannon for the field), which had been left about half a mile in the rear; and, in the meantime, to make good their posts, but by no means to advance, whatever success they might obtain; and having given these orders, he rode off, with a small escort, to the Duke's quarters. The delay which permitted these arrangements to be carried fully into effect was owing to Quentin's having fortunately shot the proprietor of the house, who acted as guide to the column which was designed to attack it, and whose attack, had it been made instantly, might have had a chance of being successful.
Durward, who, by the King's order, attended him to the Duke's, found the latter in a state of choleric distemperature, which almost prevented his discharging the duties of a general, which were never more necessary; for, besides the noise of a close and furious combat which had now taken place in the suburb upon the left of their whole army -- besides the attack upon the King's quarters, which was fiercely maintained in the centre -- a third column of Liegeois, of even superior numbers, had filed out from a more distant breach, and, marching by lanes, vineyards, and passes known to themselves, had fallen upon the right flank of the Burgundian army, who, alarmed at their war cries of Vive la France! and Denis Montjoie! which mingled with those of Liege! and Rouge Sanglier! and at the idea thus inspired, of treachery on the part of the French confederates, made a very desultory and imperfect resistance; while the Duke, foaming and swearing and cursing his liege Lord and all that belonged to him, called out to shoot with bow and gun on all that was French whether black or white, -- alluding to the sleeves with which Louis's soldiers had designated themselves.
The arrival of the King, attended only by Le Balafre and Quentin and half a score of Archers, restored confidence between France and Burgundy. D'Hymbercourt, Crevecoeur, and others of the Burgundian leaders, whose names were then the praise and dread of war, rushed devotedly into the conflict; and, while some commanders hastened to bring up more distant troops, to whom the panic had not extended, others threw themselves into the tumult, reanimated the instinct of discipline, and while the Duke toiled in the front, shouting, hacking, and hewing, like an ordinary man at arms, brought their men by degrees into array, and dismayed the assailants by the use of their artillery. The conduct of Louis, on the other hand, was that of a calm, collected, sagacious leader, who neither sought nor avoided danger, but showed so much self possession and sagacity, that the Burgundian leaders readily obeyed the orders which he issued.
The scene was now become in the utmost degree animated and horrible. On the left the suburb, after a fierce contest, had been set on fire, and a wide and dreadful conflagration did not prevent the burning ruins from being still disputed. On the centre, the French troops, though pressed by immense odds, kept up so close and constant a fire, that the little pleasure house shone bright with the glancing flashes, as if surrounded with a martyr's crown of flames. On the left, the battle swayed backwards and forwards, with varied success, as fresh reinforcements poured out of the town, or were brought forward from the rear of the Burgundian host; and the strife continued with unremitting fury for three mortal hours, which at length brought the dawn, so much desired by the besiegers. The enemy, at this period, seemed to be slackening their efforts upon the right and in the centre, and several discharges of cannon were heard from the lusthaus.
"Go," said the King to Le Balafre and Quentin, the instant his ear had caught the sound; "they have got up the sakers and falconets -- the pleasure house is safe, blessed be the Holy Virgin! -- Tell Dunois to move this way, but rather nearer the walls of Liege, with all our men at arms, excepting what he may leave for the defence of the house, and cut in between those thick headed Liegeois on the right and the city from which they are supplied with recruits."
The uncle and nephew galloped off to Dunois and Crawford, who, tired of their defensive war, joyfully obeyed the summons, and, filing out at the head of a gallant body of about two hundred French gentlemen, besides squires, and the greater part of the Archers and their followers, marched across the field, trampling down the wounded till they gained the flank of the large body of Liegeois, by whom the right of the Burgundians had been so fiercely assailed. The increasing daylight discovered that the enemy were continuing to pour out from the city, either for the purpose of continuing the battle on that point, or of bringing safely off the forces who were already engaged.
"By Heaven!" said old Crawford to Dunois, "were I not certain it is thou that art riding by my side, I would say I saw thee among yonder banditti and burghers, marshalling and arraying them with thy mace -- only, if yon be thou, thou art bigger than thou art wont to be. Art thou sure yonder armed leader is not thy wraith, thy double man, as these Flemings call it?"
"My wraith!" said Dunois; "I know not what you mean. But yonder is a caitiff with my bearings displayed on crest and shield, whom I will presently punish for his insolence."
"In the name of all that is noble, my lord, leave the vengeance to me!" said Quentin.
"To thee, indeed, young man," said Dunois; "that is a modest request.
"No -- these things brook no substitution." Then turning on his saddle, he called out to those around him, "Gentlemen of France, form your line, level your lances! Let the rising sunbeams shine through the battalions of yonder swine of Liege and hogs of Ardennes, that masquerade in our ancient coats."
The men at arms answered with a loud shout of "A Dunois! a Dunois! Long live the bold Bastard! -- Orleans to the rescue!"
And, with their leader in the centre, they charged at full gallop. They encountered no timid enemy. The large body which they charged consisted (excepting some mounted officers) entirely of infantry, who, setting the butt of their lances against their feet, the front rank kneeling, the second stooping, and those behind presenting their spears over their heads, offered such resistance to the rapid charge of the men at arms as the hedgehog presents to his enemy. Few were able to make way through that iron Wall; but of those few was Dunois, who, giving spur to his horse, and making the noble animal leap wore than twelve feet at a bound, fairly broke his way into the middle of the phalanx, and made toward the object of his animosity. What was his surprise to find Quentin still by his side, and fighting in the same front with himself -- youth, desperate courage, and the determination to do or die having still kept the youth abreast with the best knight in Europe; for such was Dunois reported, and truly reported at the period.
Their spears were soon broken, but the lanzknechts Were unable to withstand the blows of their long, heavy swords; while the horses and riders, armed in complete steel, sustained little injury from their lances. Still Dunois and Durward were contending with rival efforts to burst forward to the spot where he who had usurped the armorial bearings of Dunois was doing the duty of a good and valiant leader, when Dunois, observing the boar's head and tusks -- the usual bearing of William de la Marck -- in another part of the conflict, called out to Quentin, "Thou art worthy to avenge the arms of Orleans! I leave thee the task. -- Balafre, support your nephew; but let none dare to interfere with Dunois's boar hunt!"
That Quentin Durward joyfully acquiesced in this division of labour cannot be doubted, and each pressed forward upon his separate object, followed, and defended from behind, by such men at arms as were able to keep up with them.
But at this moment the column which De la Marck had proposed to support, when his own course was arrested by the charge of Dunois, had lost all the advantages they had gained during the night; while the Burgundians, with returning day, had begun to show the qualities which belong to superior discipline. The great mass of Liegeois were compelled to retreat, and at length to fly; and, falling back on those who were engaged with the French men at arms, the whole became a confused tide of fighters, fliers, and pursuers, which rolled itself towards the city walls, and at last was poured into the ample and undefended breach through which the Liegeois had sallied.
Quentin made more than human exertions to overtake the special object of his pursuit, who was still in his sight, striving, by voice and example, to renew the battle, and bravely supported by a chosen party of lanzknechts. Le Balafre and several of his comrades attached themselves to Quentin, much marvelling at the extraordinary gallantry displayed by so young a soldier. On the very brink of the breach, De la Marck -- for it was himself -- succeeded in effecting a momentary stand, and repelling some of the most forward of the pursuers. He had a mace of iron in his hand, before which everything seemed to go down, and was so much covered with blood that it was almost impossible to discern those bearings on his shield which had so much incensed Dunois.
Quentin now found little difficulty in singling him out, for the commanding situation of which he had possessed himself, and the use he made of his terrible mace, caused many of the assailants to seek safer points of attack than that where so desperate a defender presented himself. But Quentin, to whom the importance attached to victory over this formidable antagonist was better known, sprung from his horse at the bottom of the breach, and, letting the noble animal, the gift of the Duke of Orleans, run loose through the tumult, ascended the ruins to measure swords with the Boar of Ardennes. The latter, as if he had seen his intention, turned towards Durward with mace uplifted; and they were on the point of encounter, when a dreadful shout of triumph, of tumult, and of despair, announced that the besiegers were entering the city at another point, and in the rear of those who defended the breach. Assembling around him, by voice and bugle, the desperate partners of his desperate fortune, De la Marck, at those appalling sounds, abandoned the breach, and endeavoured to effect his retreat towards a part of the city from which he might escape to the other side of the Maes. His immediate followers formed a deep body of well disciplined men, who, never having given quarter, were resolved now not to ask it, and who, in that hour of despair, threw themselves into such firm order that their front occupied the whole breadth of the street, through which they slowly retired, making head from time to time, and checking the pursuers, many of whom began to seek a safer occupation, by breaking into the houses for plunder. It is therefore probable that De la Marck might have effected his escape, his disguise concealing him from those who promised themselves to win honour and grandeur upon his head, but for the stanch pursuit of Quentin, his uncle Le Balafre, and some of his comrades. At every pause which was made by the lanzknechts, a furious combat took place betwixt them and the Archers, and in every melee Quentin sought De la Marck; but the latter, whose present object was to retreat, seemed to evade the young Scot's purpose of bringing him to single combat. The confusion was general in every direction. The shrieks and cries of women, the yelling of the terrified inhabitants, now subjected to the extremity of military license, sounded horribly shrill amid the shouts of battle -- like the voice of misery and despair contending with that of fury and violence, which should be heard farthest and loudest.
It was just when De la Marck, retiring through this infernal scene, had passed the door of a small chapel of peculiar sanctity, that the shouts of "France! France! -- Burgundy! Burgundy!" apprised him that a part of the besiegers were entering the farther end of the street, which was a narrow one, and that his retreat was cut off.
"Comrade," he said, "take all the men with you. -- Charge yonder fellows roundly, and break through if you can -- with me it is over. I am man enough, now that I am brought to bay, to send some of these vagabond Scots to hell before me."
His lieutenant obeyed, and, with most of the few lanzknechts who remained alive, hurried to the farther end of the street, for the purpose of charging those Burgundians who were advancing, and so forcing their way, so as to escape. About six of De la Marck's best men remained to perish with their master, and fronted the Archers, who were not many more in number.
"Sanglier! Sanglier! Hola! gentlemen of Scotland," said the ruffian but undaunted chief, waving his mace, "who longs to gain a coronet -- who strikes at the Boar of Ardennes? -- You, young man, have, methinks, a hankering; but you must win ere you wear it."
Quentin heard but imperfectly the words, which were partly lost in the hollow helmet; but the action could not be mistaken, and he had but time to bid his uncle and comrades, as they were gentlemen, to stand back, when De la Marck sprang upon him with a bound like a tiger, aiming, at the same time a blow with his mace, so as to make his hand and foot keep time together, and giving his stroke full advantage of the descent of his leap, but, light of foot and quick of eye, Quentin leaped aside, and disappointed an aim which would have been fatal had it taken effect.
They then closed, like the wolf and the wolf dog, their comrades on either side remaining inactive spectators, for Le Balafre roared out for fair play, adding that he would venture his nephew on him were he as wight as Wallace.
Neither was the experienced soldier's confidence unjustified; for, although the blows of the despairing robber fell like those of the hammer on the anvil, yet the quick motions and dexterous swordsmanship of the young Archer enabled him to escape, and to requite them with the point of his less noisy, though more fatal weapon; and that so often, and so effectually, that the huge strength of his antagonist began to give way to fatigue, while the ground on which he stood became a puddle of blood. Yet, still unabated in courage and ire, the wild Boar of Ardennes fought on with as much mental energy as at first, and Quentin's victory seemed dubious and distant, when a female voice behind him called him by his name, ejaculating,
"Help! help! for the sake of the blessed Virgin!"
He turned his head, and with a single glance beheld Gertrude Pavillon, her mantle stripped from her shoulders, dragged forcibly along by a French soldier, one of several who, breaking into the chapel close by, had seized, as their prey, on the terrified females who had taken refuge there."
"Wait for me but one moment," exclaimed Quentin to De la Marck, and sprang to extricate his benefactress from a situation of which he conjectured all the dangers.
"I wait no man's pleasure," said De la Marck, flourishing his mace, and beginning to retreat -- glad, no doubt, at being free of so formidable an assailant.
"You shall wait mine, though, by your leave," said Balafre; "I will not have my nephew baulked."
So saying, he instantly assaulted De la Marck with his two handed sword.
Quentin found, in the meanwhile, that the rescue of Gertrude was a task more difficult than could be finished in one moment. Her captor, supported by his comrades, refused to relinquish his prize: and whilst Durward, aided by one or two of his countrymen, endeavoured to compel him to do so, the former beheld the chance which Fortune had so kindly afforded him for fortune and happiness glide out of his reach; so that when he stood at length in the street with the liberated Gertrude, there was no one near them. Totally forgetting the defenceless situation of his companion, he was about to spring away in pursuit of the Boar of Ardennes, as the greyhound tracks the deer, when, clinging to him in her despair, she exclaimed, "For the sake of your mother's honour, leave me not here! -- As you are a gentleman, protect me to my father's house, which once sheltered you and the Lady Isabelle! -- For her sake leave me not!"
Her call was agonizing, but it was irresistible; and bidding a mental adieu, with unutterable bitterness of feeling, to all the gay hopes which had stimulated his exertion, carried him through that bloody day, and which at one moment seemed to approach consummation, Quentin, like an unwilling spirit who obeys a talisman which he cannot resist, protected Gertrude to Pavillon's house, and arrived in time to defend that and the Syndic himself against the fury of the licentious soldiery.
Meantime the King and the Duke of Burgundy entered the city on horseback and through one of the breaches. They were both in complete armour, but the latter, covered with blood from the plume to the spur, drove his steed furiously up the breach, which Louis surmounted with the stately pace of one who leads a procession. They dispatched orders to stop the sack of the city, which had already commenced, and to assemble their scattered troops. The Princes themselves proceeded towards the great church, both for the protection of many of the distinguished inhabitants who had taken refuge there, and in order to hold a sort of military council after they had heard high mass.
Busied, like other officers of his rank, in collecting those under his command, Lord Crawford, at the turning of one of the streets which leads to the Maes, met Le Balafre sauntering composedly towards the river, holding in his hand, by the gory locks, a human head with as much indifference as a fowler carries a game pouch.
"How now, Ludovic!" said his commander; "what are ye doing with that carrion?"
"It is all that is left of a bit of work which my nephew shaped out and nearly finished and I put the last hand to," said Le Balafre, "a good fellow that I dispatched yonder and who prayed me to throw his head into the Maes. -- Men have queer fancies when old Small Back [a cant expression in Scotland for Death, usually delineated as a skeleton. S.] is gripping them, but Small Back must lead down the dance with us all in our time."
"And you are going to throw that head into the Maes?" said Crawford, looking more attentively on the ghastly memorial of mortality.
"Ay, truly am I," said Ludovic testily. "If you refuse a dying man his boon, you are likely to be haunted by his ghost, and I love to sleep sound at nights."
"You must take your chance of the ghaist, man," said Crawford; "for, by my soul, there is more lies on that dead pow than you think for. Come along with me -- not a word more -- Come along with me."
"Nay, for that matter," said Le Balafre, "I made him no promise; for, in truth, I had off his head before the tongue had well done wagging; and as I feared him not living, by St. Martin of Tours, I fear him as little when he is dead. Besides, my little gossip, the merry Friar of St. Martin's, will lend me a pot of holy water."
When high mass had been said in the Cathedral Church of Liege and the terrified town was restored to some moderate degree of order, Louis and Charles, with their peers around, proceeded to hear the claims of those who had any to make for services performed during the battle. Those which respected the County of Croye and its fair mistress were first received, and to the disappointment of sundry claimants, who had thought themselves sure of the rich prize, there seemed doubt and mystery to involve their several pretensions. Crevecoeur showed a boar's hide, such as De la Marck usually wore; Dunois produced a cloven shield with his armorial bearings; and there were others who claimed the merit of having dispatched the murderer of the Bishop, producing similar tokens -- the rich reward fixed on De la Marck's head having brought death to all who were armed in his resemblance.
There was much noise and contest among the competitors, and Charles, internally regretting the rash promise which had placed the hand and wealth of his fair vassal on such a hazard, was in hopes he might find means of evading all these conflicting claims, when Crawford pressed forward into the circle, dragging Le Balafre after him, who, awkward and bashful, followed like an unwilling mastiff towed on in a leash, as his leader exclaimed, "Away with your hoofs and hides and painted iron! -- No one, save he who slew the Boar, can show the tusks!"
So saying, he flung on the floor the bloody head, easily known as that of De la Marck by the singular conformation of the jaws, which in reality had a certain resemblance to those of the animal whose name he bore, and which was instantly recognized by all who had seen him.
[We have already noticed the anachronism respecting the crimes of this atrocious baron; and it is scarce necessary to repeat, that if he in reality murdered the Bishop of Liege in 1482, the Count of La Marck could not be slain in the defence of Liege four years earlier. In fact, the Wild Boar of Ardennes, as he was usually termed, was of high birth, being the third son of John I, Count of La Marck and Aremberg, and ancestor of the branch called Barons of Lumain. He did not escape the punishment due to his atrocity, though it did not take place at the time, or in the manner, narrated in the text. Maximilian, Emperor of Austria, caused him to be arrested at Utrecht, where he was beheaded in the year 1485, three years after the Bishop of Liege's death. S.]
"Crawford," said Louis, while Charles sat silent in gloomy and displeased surprise, "I trust it is one of my faithful Scots who has won this prize?"
"It is Ludovic Lesly, Sire, whom we call Le Balafre," replied the old soldier.
"But is he noble?" said the Duke; "is he of gentle blood? -- Otherwise our promise is void."
"He is a cross, ungainly piece of wood enough," said Crawford, looking at the tall, awkward, embarrassed figure of the Archer; "but I will warrant him a branch of the tree of Rothes for all that -- and they have been as noble as any house in France or Burgundy ever since it is told of their founder that --
"'Between the less-lee and the mair,
He slew the Knight, and left him there.'"
[An old rhyme by which the Leslies vindicate their descent from an ancient knight, who is said to have slain a gigantic Hungarian champion, and to have formed a proper name for himself by a play of words upon the place where he fought his adversary. S.]
"There is then no help for it," said the Duke, "and the fairest and richest heiress in Burgundy must be the wife of a rude mercenary soldier like this, or die secluded in a convent -- and she the only child of our faithful Reginald de Croye! -- I have been too rash."
And a cloud settled on his brow, to the surprise of his peers, who seldom saw him evince the slightest token of regret for the necessary consequences of an adopted resolution.
"Hold but an instant," said the Lord Crawford, "it may be better than your Grace conjectures. Hear but what this cavalier has to say. -- Speak out, man, and a murrain to thee," he added, apart to Le Balafre.
But that blunt soldier, though he could make a shift to express himself intelligibly enough to King Louis, to whose familiarity he was habituated, yet found himself incapable of enunciating his resolution before so splendid an assembly as that before which he then stood; and after having turned his shoulder to the princes, and preluded with a hoarse chuckling laugh, and two or three tremendous contortions of countenance, he was only able to pronounce the words, "Saunders Souplejaw" -- and then stuck fast.
"May it please your Majesty and your Grace," said Crawford, "I must speak for my countryman and old comrade. You shall understand that he has had it prophesied to him by a seer in his own land, that the fortune of his house is to be made by marriage; but as he is, like myself, something the worse for the wear -- loves the wine house better than a lady's summer parlour, and, in short, having some barrack tastes and likings, which would make greatness in his own person rather an encumbrance to him, he hath acted by my advice, and resigns the pretentions acquired' by the fate of slaying William de la Marck, to him by whom the Wild Boar was actually brought to bay, who is his maternal nephew."
"I will vouch for that youth's services and prudence," said King Louis, overjoyed to see that fate had thrown so gallant a prize to one over whom he had some influence. "Without his prudence and vigilance, we had been ruined. It was he who made us aware of the night sally."
"I, then," said Charles, "owe him some reparation for doubting his veracity."
"And I can attest his gallantry as a man at arms," said Dunois.
"But," interrupted Crevecoeur, "though the uncle be a Scottish gentillatre, that makes not the nephew necessarily so."
"He is of the House of Durward," said Crawford, "descended from that Allan Durward who was High Steward of Scotland."
"Nay, if it be young Durward," said Crevecoeur, "I say no more. -- Fortune has declared herself on his side too plainly for me to struggle farther with her humoursome ladyship -- but it is strange, from lord to horseboy, how wonderfully these Scots stick by each other."
"Highlander shoulder to shoulder," answered Lord Crawford, laughing at the mortification of the proud Burgundian.
"We have yet to inquire," said Charles thoughtfully, "what the fair lady's sentiments may be towards this fortunate adventurer."
"By the mass" said Crevecoeur, "I have but too much reason to believe your Grace will find her more amenable to authority than on former occasions. -- But why should I grudge this youth his preferment? Since, after all, it is sense, firmness, and gallantry which have put him in possession of WEALTH, RANK, and BEAUTY!"
* * * * * * *
I had already sent these sheets to the press, concluding, as I thought, with a moral of excellent tendency for the encouragement of all fair haired, blue eyed, long legged, stout hearted emigrants from my native country, who might be willing in stirring times to take up the gallant profession of Cavalieros of Fortune. But a friendly monitor, one of those who, like the lump of sugar which is found at the bottom of a tea cup, as well as the flavour of the souchong itself, has entered a bitter remonstrance, and insists that I should give a precise and particular account of the espousals of the young heir of Glen Houlakin and the lovely Flemish Countess, and tell what tournaments were held, and how many lances were broken, upon so interesting an occasion; nor withhold from the curious reader the number of sturdy boys who inherited the valour of Quentin Durward, and of bright damsels, in whom were renewed the charms of Isabelle de Croye. I replied, in course of post, that times were changed, and public weddings were entirely out of fashion. In days traces of which I myself can remember, not only were the "fifteen friends" of the happy pair invited to witness their Union, but the bridal minstrelsy still continued, as in the "Ancient Mariner," to "nod their heads" till morning shone on them. The sack posset was eaten in the nuptial chamber -- the stocking was thrown -- and the bride's garter was struggled for in presence of the happy couple whom Hymen had made one flesh. The authors of the period were laudably accurate in following its fashions. They spared you not a blush of the bride, not a rapturous glance of the bridegroom, not a diamond in her hair, not a button on his embroidered waistcoat; until at length, with Astraea, "they fairly put their characters to bed." [the reference is to the plays of Mrs. Aphra Behn. "The stage how loosely doth Astraea tread, who fairly puts each character to bed."] But how little does this agree with the modest privacy which induces our modern brides -- sweet bashful darlings! -- to steal from pomp and plate, and admiration and flattery, and, like honest Shenstone [(1714-1763): an English poet best known by The Schoolmistress],
"Seek for freedom at an inn!"
To these, unquestionably, an exposure of the circumstances of publicity with which a bridal in the fifteenth century was always celebrated, must appear in the highest degree disgusting. Isabelle de Croye would be ranked in their estimation far below the maid who milks, and does the meanest chores; for even she, were it in the church porch, would reject the hand of her journeyman shoemaker, should he propose faire des noces [to celebrate a wedding festivity], as it is called on Parisian signs, instead of going down on the top of the long coach to spend the honeymoon incognito at Deptford or Greenwich. I will not, therefore, tell more of this matter, but will steal away from the wedding, as Ariosto from that of Angelica, leaving it to whom it may please to add farther particulars, after the fashion of their own imagination.
"Some better bard shall sing, in feudal state How Bracquemont's Castle op'd its Gothic gate, When on the wand'ring Scot, its lovely heir Bestow'd her beauty and an earldom fair."
[Ariosto (1474-1533): an Italian poet, the author of the poem Orlando Furioso, whose popularity was due largely to the subject -- combats and paladins, lovers' devotion and mad adventures. Angelica is the heroine. Scott is sometimes called the Ariosto of the North.]
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