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Chapter 11

----The funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage table.
HAMLET.


The religious rites which followed the funeral of Raymond
Berenger, endured without interruption for the period of six days;
during which, alms were distributed to the poor, and relief
administered, at the expense of the Lady Eveline, to all those who
had suffered by the late inroad. Death-meals, as they were termed,
were also spread in honour of the deceased; but the lady herself,
and most of her attendants, observed a stern course of vigil,
discipline, and fasts, which appeared to the Normans a more
decorous manner of testifying their respect for the dead, than the
Saxon and Flemish custom of banqueting and drinking inordinately
upon such occasions.

Meanwhile, the Constable De Lacy retained a large body of his men
encamped under the walls of the Garde Doloureuse, for protection
against some new irruption of the Welsh, while with the rest he
took advantage of his victory, and struck terror into the British
by many well-conducted forays, marked with ravages scarcely less
hurtful than their own. Among the enemy, the evils of discord were
added to those of defeat and invasion; for two distant relations
of Gwenwyn contended for the throne he had lately occupied, and on
this, as on many other occasions, the Britons suffered as much
from internal dissension as from the sword of the Normans. A worse
politician, and a less celebrated soldier, than the sagacious and
successful De Lacy, could not have failed, under such
circumstances, to negotiate as he did an advantageous peace,
which, while it deprived Powys of a part of its frontier, and the
command of some important passes, in which it was the Constable's
purpose to build castles, rendered the Garde Doloureuse more
secure than formerly, from any sudden attack on the part of
their fiery and restless neighbours. De Lacy's care also went to
re-establishing those settlers who had fled from their possessions,
and putting the whole lordship, which now descended upon an
unprotected female, into a state of defence as perfect as its
situation on a hostile frontier could possibly permit.

Whilst thus anxiously provident in the affairs of the orphan of
the Garde Doloureuse, De Lacy during the space we have mentioned,
sought not to disturb her filial grief by any personal
intercourse. His nephew, indeed, was despatched by times every
morning to lay before her his uncle's _devoirs,_ in the high-
flown language of the day, and acquaint her with the steps which
he had taken in her affairs. As a meed due to his relative's high
services, Damian was always admitted to see Eveline on such
occasions, and returned charged with her grateful thanks, and her
implicit acquiescence in whatever the Constable proposed for her
consideration.

But when the days of rigid mourning were elapsed, the young de
Lacy stated, on the part of his kinsman, that his treaty with the
Welsh being concluded, and all things in the district arranged as
well as circumstances would permit, the Constable of Chester now
proposed to return into his own territory, in order to resume his
instant preparations for the Holy Land, which the duty of
chastising her enemies had for some days interrupted.

"And will not the noble Constable, before he departs from this
place," said Eveline, with a burst of gratitude which the occasion
well merited, "receive the personal thanks of her that was ready
to perish, when he so valiantly came to her aid?"

"It was even on that point that I was commissioned to speak,"
replied Damian; "but my noble kinsman feels diffident to propose
to you that which he most earnestly desires--the privilege of
speaking to your own ear certain matters of high import, and with
which he judges it fit to intrust no third party."

"Surely," said the maiden, blushing, "there can be nought beyond
the bounds of maidenhood, in my seeing the noble Constable
whenever such is his pleasure."

"But his vow," replied Damian, "binds my kinsman not to come
beneath a roof until he sets sail for Palestine; and in order to
meet him, you must grace him so far as to visit his pavilion;--a
condescension which, as a knight and Norman noble, he can scarcely
ask of a damsel of high degree."

"And is that all?" said Eveline, who, educated in a remote
situation, was a stranger to some of the nice points of etiquette
which the damsels of the time observed in keeping their state
towards the other sex. "Shall I not," she said, "go to render my
thanks to my deliverer, since he cannot come hither to receive
them? Tell the noble Hugo de Lacy, that, next to my gratitude to
Heaven, it is due to him, and to his brave companions in arms. I
will come to his tent as to a holy shrine; and, could such homage
please him, I would come barefooted, were the road strewed with
flints and with thorns."

"My uncle will be equally honoured and delighted with your
resolve," said Damian; "but it will be his study to save you all
unnecessary trouble, and with that view a pavilion shall be
instantly planted before your castle gate, which, if it please you
to grace it with your presence, may be the place for the desired
interview."

Eveline readily acquiesced in what was proposed, as the expedient
agreeable to the Constable, and recommended by Damian; but, in the
simplicity of her heart, she saw no good reason why, under the
guardianship of the latter, she should not instantly, and without
farther form, have traversed the little familiar plain on which,
when a child, she used to chase butterflies and gather king's-
cups, and where of later years she was wont to exercise her
palfrey on this well-known plain, being the only space, and that
of small extent, which separated her from the camp of the
Constable.

The youthful emissary, with whose presence she had now become
familiar, retired to acquaint his kinsman and lord with the
success of his commission; and Eveline experienced the first
sensation of anxiety upon her own account which had agitated her
bosom, since the defeat and death of Gwenwyn gave her permission
to dedicate her thoughts exclusively to grief, for the loss which
she had sustained in the person of her noble father. But now, when
that grief, though not satiated, was blunted by solitary
indulgence--now that she was to appear before the person of whose
fame she had heard so much, of whose powerful protection she had
received such recent proofs, her mind insensibly turned upon the
nature and consequences of that important interview. She had seen
Hugo de Lacy, indeed, at the great tournament at Chester, where
his valour and skill were the theme of every tongue, and she had
received the homage which he rendered her beauty when he assigned
to her the prize, with all the gay flutterings of youthful vanity;
but of his person and figure she had no distinct idea, excepting
that he was a middle-sized man, dressed in peculiarly rich armour,
and that the countenance, which looked out from under the shade of
his raised visor, seemed to her juvenile estimate very nearly as
old as that of her father. This person, of whom she had such
slight recollection, had been the chosen instrument employed by
her tutelar protectress in rescuing her from captivity, and in
avenging the loss of a father, and she was bound by her vow to
consider him as the arbiter of her fate, if indeed he should deem
it worth his while to become so. She wearied her memory with vain
efforts to recollect so much of his features as might give her
some means of guessing at his disposition, and her judgment toiled
in conjecturing what line of conduct he was likely to pursue
towards her.

The great Baron himself seemed to attach to their meeting a degree
of consequence, which was intimated by the formal preparations
which he made for it. Eveline had imagined that he might have
ridden to the gate of the castle in five minutes, and that, if a
pavilion were actually necessary to the decorum of their
interview, a tent could have been transferred from his leaguer to
the castle gate, and pitched there in ten minutes more. But it was
plain that the Constable considered much more form and ceremony as
essential to their meeting; for in about half an hour after Damian
de Lacy had left the castle, not fewer than twenty soldiers and
artificers, under the direction of a pursuivant, whose tabard was
decorated with the armorial bearings of the house of Lacy, were
employed in erecting before the gate of the Garde Doloureuse one
of those splendid pavilions, which were employed at tournaments
and other occasions of public state. It was of purple silk,
valanced with gold embroidery, having the chords of the same rich
materials. The door-way was formed by six lances, the staves of
which were plaited with silver, and the blades composed of the
same precious metal. These were pitched into the ground by
couples, and crossed at the top, so as to form a sort of
succession of arches, which were covered by drapery of sea-green
silk, forming a pleasing contrast with the purple and gold.

The interior of the tent was declared by Dame Gillian and others,
whose curiosity induced them to visit it, to be of a splendour
agreeing with the outside. There were Oriental carpets, and there
were tapestries of Ghent and Bruges mingled in gay profusion,
while the top of the pavilion, covered with sky-blue silk, was
arranged so as to resemble the firmament, and richly studded with
a sun, moon, and stars, composed of solid silver. This gorgeous
pavilion had been made for the use of the celebrated William of
Ypres, who acquired such great wealth as general of the
mercenaries of King Stephen, and was by him created Earl of
Albemarle; but the chance of War had assigned it to De Lacy, after
one of the dreadful engagements, so many of which occurred during
the civil wars betwixt Stephen and the Empress Maude, or Matilda.
The Constable had never before been known to use it; for although
wealthy and powerful, Hugo de Lacy was, on most occasions, plain
and unostentatious; which, to those who knew him, made his present
conduct seem the more remarkable. At the hour of noon he arrived,
nobly mounted, at the gate of the castle, and drawing up a small
body of servants, pages, and equerries, who attended him in their
richest liveries, placed himself at their head, and directed his
nephew to intimate to the Lady of the Garde Doloureuse, that the
humblest of her servants awaited the honour of her presence at the
castle gate.

Among the spectators who witnessed his arrival, there were many
who thought that some part of the state and splendour attached to
his pavilion and his retinue, had been better applied to set forth
the person of the Constable himself, as his attire was simple even
to meanness, and his person by no means of such distinguished
bearing as might altogether dispense with the advantages of dress
and ornament. The opinion became yet more prevalent, when he
descended from horseback, until which time his masterly management
of the noble animal he bestrode, gave a dignity to his person and
figure, which he lost upon dismounting from his steel saddle. In
height, the celebrated Constable scarce attained the middle size,
and his limbs, though strongly built and well knit, were deficient
in grace and ease of movement. His legs were slightly curved
outwards, which gave him advantage as a horseman, but showed
unfavourably when he was upon foot. He halted, though very
slightly, in consequence of one of his legs having been broken by
the fall of a charger, and inartificially set by an inexperienced
surgeon. This, also, was a blemish in his deportment; and though
his broad shoulders, sinewy arms, and expanded chest, betokened
the strength which he often displayed, it was strength of a clumsy
and ungraceful character. His language and gestures were those of
one seldom used to converse with equals, more seldom still with
superiors; short, abrupt, and decisive, almost to the verge of
sternness. In the judgment of those who were habitually acquainted
with the Constable, there was both dignity and kindness in his
keen eye and expanded brow; but such as saw him for the first time
judged less favourably, and pretended to discover a harsh and
passionate expression, although they allowed his countenance to
have, on the whole, a bold and martial character. His age was in
reality not more than five-and-forty, but the fatigues of war and
of climate had added in appearance ten years to that period of
time. By far the plainest dressed man of his train, he wore only a
short Norman mantle, over the close dress of shamois-leather,
which, almost always covered by his armour, was in some places
slightly soiled by its pressure. A brown hat, in which he wore a
sprig of rosemary in memory of his vow, served for his head-gear--
his good sword and dagger hung at a belt made of seal-skin.

Thus accoutred, and at the head of a glittering and gilded band of
retainers, who watched his lightest glance, the Constable of
Chester awaited the arrival of the Lady Eveline Berenger, at the
gate of her castle of Garde Doloureuse.

The trumpets from within announced her presence--the bridge fell,
and, led by Damian de Lacy in his gayest habit, and followed by
her train of females, and menial or vassal attendants, she came
forth in her loveliness from under the massive and antique portal
of her paternal fortress. She was dressed without ornaments of any
kind, and in deep mourning weeds, as best befitted her recent
loss; forming, in this respect, a strong contrast with the rich
attire of her conductor, whose costly dress gleamed with jewels
and embroidery, while their age and personal beauty made them in
every other respect the fair counterpart of each other; a
circumstance which probably gave rise to the delighted murmur and
buzz which passed through the bystanders on their appearance, and
which only respect for the deep mourning of Eveline prevented from
breaking out into shouts of applause.

The instant that the fair foot of Eveline had made a step beyond
the palisades which formed the outward barrier of the castle, the
Constable de Lacy stepped forward to meet her, and, bending his
right knee to the earth, craved pardon for the discourtesy which
his vow had imposed on him, while he expressed his sense of the
honour with which she now graced him, as one for which his life,
devoted to her service, would be an inadequate acknowledgment.

The action and speech, though both in consistence with the
romantic gallantry of the times, embarrassed Eveline; and the
rather that this homage was so publicly rendered. She entreated
the Constable to stand up, and not to add to the confusion of one
who was already sufficiently at a loss how to acquit herself of
the heavy debt of gratitude which she owed him. The Constable
arose accordingly, after saluting her hand, which she extended to
him, and prayed her, since she was so far condescending, to deign
to enter the poor hut he had prepared for her shelter, and to
grant him the honour of the audience he had solicited. Eveline,
without farther answer than a bow, yielded him her hand, and
desiring the rest of her train to remain where they were,
commanded the attendance of Rose Flammock.

"Lady," said the Constable, "the matters of which I am compelled
thus hastily to speak, are of a nature the most private."

"This maiden," replied Eveline, "is my bower-woman, and acquainted
with my most inward thoughts; I beseech you to permit her presence
at our conference."

"It were better otherwise," said Hugo de Lacy, with some
embarrassment; "but your pleasure shall be obeyed."

He led the Lady Eveline into the tent, and entreated her to be
seated on a large pile of cushions, covered with rich Venetian
silk. Rose placed herself behind her mistress, half kneeling upon
the same cushions, and watched the motions of the all-accomplished
soldier and statesman, whom the voice of fame lauded so loudly;
enjoying his embarrassment as a triumph of her sex, and scarcely
of opinion that his shamois doublet and square form accorded with
the splendour of the scene, or the almost angelic beauty of
Eveline, the other actor therein.

"Lady," said the Constable, after some hesitation, "I would
willingly say what it is my lot to tell you, in such terms as
ladies love to listen to, and which surely your excellent beauty
more especially deserves; but I have been too long trained in
camps and councils to express my meaning otherwise than simply and
plainly."

"I shall the more easily understand you, my lord," said Eveline,
trembling, though she scarce knew why.

"My story, then, must be a blunt one. Something there passed
between your honourable father and myself, touching a union of our
houses."--He paused, as if he wished or expected Eveline to say
something, but, as she was silent, he proceeded. "I would to God,
that, as he was at the beginning of this treaty, it had pleased
Heaven he should have conducted and concluded it with his usual
wisdom; but what remedy?--he has gone the path which we must all
tread."

"Your lordship," said Eveline, "has nobly avenged the death of
your noble friend."

"I have but done my devoir, lady, as a good knight, in defence of
an endangered maiden--a Lord Marcher in protection of the
frontier--and a friend in avenging his friend. But to the point.--
Our long and noble line draws near to a close. Of my remote
kinsman, Randal Lacy, I will not speak; for in him I see nothing
that is good or hopeful, nor have we been at one for many years.
My nephew, Damian, gives hopeful promise to be a worthy branch of
our ancient tree--but he is scarce twenty years old, and hath a
long career of adventure and peril to encounter, ere he can
honourably propose to himself the duties of domestic privacy or
matrimonial engagements. His mother also is English, some
abatentent perhaps in the escutcheon of his arms; yet, had ten
years more passed over him with the honours of chivalry, I should
have proposed Damian de Lacy for the happiness to which I at
present myself aspire."

"You--you, my lord!--it is impossible!" said Eveline, endeavouring
at the same time to suppress all that could be offensive in the
surprise which she could not help exhibiting.

"I do not wonder," replied the Constable, calmly,--for the ice
being now broken, he resumed the natural steadiness of his manner
and character,--"that you express surprise at this daring
proposal. I have not perhaps the form that pleases a lady's eye,
and I have forgotten,--that is, if I ever knew them,--the terms
and phrases which please a lady's ear; but, noble Eveline, the
Lady of Hugh de Lacy will be one of the foremost among the
matronage of England."

"It will the better become the individual to whom so high a
dignity is offered," said Eveline, "to consider how far she is
capable of discharging its duties."

"Of that I fear nothing," said De Lacy. "She who hath been so
excellent a daughter, cannot be less estimable in every other
relation in life."

"I do not find that confidence in myself my lord," replied the
embarrassed maiden, "with which you are so willing to load me--And
I--forgive me--must crave time for other inquiries, as well as
those which respect myself."

"Your father, noble lady, had this union warmly at heart. This
scroll, signed with his own hand, will show it." He bent his knee
as he gave the paper. "The wife of De Lacy will have, as the
daughter of Raymond Berenger merits, the rank of a princess; his
widow, the dowry of a queen."

"Mock me not with your knee, my lord, while you plead to me the
paternal commands, which, joined to other circumstances"--she
paused, and sighed deeply--"leave me, perhaps, but little room for
free will!"

Imboldened by this answer, De Lacy, who had hitherto remained on
his knee, rose gently, and assuming a seat beside the Lady
Eveline, continued to press his suit,--not, indeed, in the
language of passion, but of a plain-spoken man, eagerly urging a
proposal on which his happiness depended. The vision of the
miraculous image was, it may be supposed, uppermost in the mind of
Eveline, who, tied down by the solemn vow she had made on that
occasion, felt herself constrained to return evasive answers,
where she might perhaps have given a direct negative, had her own
wishes alone been to decide her reply.

"You cannot," she said, "expect from me, my lord, in this my so
recent orphan state, that I should come to a speedy determination
upon an affair of such deep importance. Give me leisure of your
nobleness for consideration with myself--for consultation with my
friends."

"Alas! fair Eveline," said the Baron, "do not be offended at my
urgency. I cannot long delay setting forward on a distant and
perilous expedition; and the short time left me for soliciting
your favour, must be an apology for my importunity."

"And is it in these circumstances, noble De Lacy, that you would
encumber yourself with family ties?" asked the maiden, timidly.

"I am God's soldier," said the Constable, "and He, in whose cause
I fight in Palestine, will defend my wife in England."

"Hear then my present answer, my lord," said Eveline Berenger,
rising from her seat. "To-morrow I proceed to the Benedictine
nunnery at Gloucester, where resides my honoured father's sister,
who is Abbess of that reverend house. To her guidance I will
commit myself in this matter."

"A fair and maidenly resolution," answered De Lacy, who seemed, on
his part, rather glad that the conference was abridged, "and, as I
trust, not altogether unfavourable to the suit of your humble
suppliant, since the good Lady Abbess hath been long my honoured
friend." He then turned to Rose, who was about to attend her
lady:--"Pretty maiden," he said, offering a chain of gold, "let
this carcanet encircle thy neck, and buy thy good will."

"My good will cannot be purchased, my lord," said Rose, putting
back the gift which he proffered.

"Your fair word, then," said the Constable, again pressing it upon
her.

"Fair words are easily bought," said Rose, still rejecting the
chain, "but they are seldom worth the purchase-money."

"Do you scorn my proffer, damsel?" said De Lacy: "it has graced
the neck of a Norman count."

"Give it to a Norman countess then, my lord," said the damsel; "I
am plain Rose Flammock, the weaver's daughter. I keep my good word
to go with my good will, and a latten chain will become me as well
as beaten gold."

"Peace, Rose," said her lady; "you are over malapert to talk thus
to the Lord Constable.--And you, my lord," she continued, "permit
me now to depart, since you are possessed of my answer to your
present proposal. I regret it had not been of some less delicate
nature, that by granting it at once, and without delay, I might
have shown my sense of your services."

The lady was handed forth by the Constable of Chester, with the
same ceremony which had been observed at their entrance, and she
returned to her own castle, sad and anxious in mind for the event
of this important conference. She gathered closely round her the
great mourning veil, that the alteration of her countenance might
not be observed; and, without pausing to speak even to Father
Aldrovand, she instantly withdrew to the privacy of her own bower.

Sir Walter Scott