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Chapter 19

He was a minstrel--in his mood
Was wisdom mix'd with folly;
A tame companion to the good,
But wild and fierce among the rude,
And jovial with the jolly.
ARCHIBALD ARMSTRONG.


The events of the preceding day had been of a nature so
interesting, and latterly so harassing, that the Constable felt
weary as after a severely contested battle-field, and slept
soundly until the earliest beams of dawn saluted him through the
opening of the tent. It was then that, with a mingled feeling of
pain and satisfaction, he began to review the change which had
taken place in his condition since the preceding morning. He had
then risen an ardent bridegroom, anxious to find favour in the
eyes of his fair bride, and scrupulous about his dress and
appointments, as if he had been as young in years as in hopes and
wishes. This was over, and he had now before him the painful task
of leaving his betrothed for a term of years, even before wedlock
had united them indissolubly, and of reflecting that she was
exposed to all the dangers which assail female constancy in a
situation thus critical. When the immediate anxiety for his nephew
was removed, he was tempted to think that he had been something
hasty in listening to the arguments of the Archbishop, and in
believing that Damian's death or recovery depended upon his own
accomplishing, to the letter, and without delay, his vow for the
Holy Land. "How many princes and kings," he thought to himself,
"have assumed the Cross, and delayed or renounced it, yet lived
and died in wealth and honour, without sustaining such a
visitation as that with which Baldwin threatened me; and in what
case or particular did such men deserve more indulgence than I?
But the die is now cast, and it signifies little to inquire
whether my obedience to the mandates of the Church has saved the
life of my nephew, or whether I have not fallen, as laymen are
wont to fall, whenever there is an encounter of wits betwixt them
and those of the spirituality. I would to God it may prove
otherwise, since, girding on my sword as Heaven's champion, I
might the better expect Heaven's protection for her whom I must
unhappily leave behind me."

As these reflections passed through his mind, he heard the warders
at the entrance of his tent challenge some one whose footsteps
were heard approaching it. The person stopped on their challenge,
and presently after was heard the sound of a rote, (a small
species of lute,) the strings of which were managed by means of a
small wheel. After a short prelude, a manly voice, of good
compass, sung verses, which, translated into modern language,
might run nearly thus:

I.

"Soldier, wake--the day is peeping:,
Honour ne'er was won in sleeping,
Never when the sunbeams still
Lay unreflected on the hill:
'Tis when they are glinted back
From axe and armour, spear and jack,
That they promise future story
Many a page of deathless glory.
Shields that are the foe man's terror,
Ever are the morning's mirror.

II.

"Arm and up--the morning beam
Hath call'd the rustic to his team,
Hath call'd the falc'ner to the lake,
Hath call'd the huntsman to the brake;
The early student ponders o'er
His dusty tomes of ancient lore.
Soldier, wake--thy harvest, fame;
Thy study, conquest; war, thy game.
Shield, that would be foeman's terror,
Still should gleam the morning's mirror.

III.

"Poor hire repays the rustic's pain;
More paltry still the sportsman's gain;
Vainest of all, the student's theme
End in gome metaphysic dream.
Yet each is up, and each has toil'd
Since first the peep of dawn has smiled;
And each is eagerer in his aim
Than he who barters life for fame.
Up, up, and arm thee, son of terror!
Be thy bright shield the morning's mirror."

When the song was finished, the Constable heard some talking
without, and presently Philip Guarine entered the pavilion to tell
that a person, come hither as he said by the Constable's
appointment, waited permission to speak with him.

"By my appointment?" said De Lacy; "admit him immediately."

The messenger of the preceding evening entered the tent, holding
in one hand his small cap and feather, in the other the rote on
which he had been just playing. His attire was fantastic,
consisting of more than one inner dress of various colours, all of
the brightest and richest dyes, and disposed so as to contrast
with each other--the upper garment was a very short Norman cloak,
in bright green. An embroidered girdle sustained, in lieu of
offensive weapons, an inkhorn with its appurtenances on the one
side, on the other a knife for the purposes of the table. His hair
was cut in imitation of the clerical tonsure, which was designed
to intimate that he had arrived to a certain rank in his
profession; for the Joyous Science, as the profession of
minstrelsy was termed, had its various ranks, like the degrees in
the church and in chivalry. The features and the manners of the
man seemed to be at variance with his profession and habit; for,
as the latter was gay and fantastic, the former had a cast of
gravity, and almost of sternness, which, unless when kindled by
the enthusiasm of his poetical and musical exertions, seemed
rather to indicate deep reflection, than the thoughtless vivacity
of observation which characterized most of his brethren. His
countenance, though not handsome, had therefore something in it
striking and impressive, even from its very contrast with the
particoloured hues and fluttering shape of his vestments; and the
Constable felt something inclined to patronize him, as he said,
"Good-morrow, friend, and I thank thee for thy morning greeting;
it was well sung and well meant, for when we call forth any one to
bethink him how time passes, we do him the credit of supposing
that he can employ to advantage that flitting treasure."

The man, who had listened in silence, seemed to pause and make an
effort ere he replied, "My intentions, at least, were good, when I
ventured to disturb my lord thus early; and I am glad to learn
that my boldness hath not been evil received at his hand."

"True," said the Constable, "you had a boon to ask of me. Be
speedy, and say thy request--my leisure is short."

"It is for permission to follow you to the Holy Land, my lord,"
said the man.

"Thou hast asked what I can hardly grant, my friend," answered De
Lacy--"Thou art a minstrel, art thou not?"

"An unworthy graduate of the Gay Science, my lord," said the
musician; "yet let me say for myself, that I will not yield to the
king of minstrels, Geoffrey Rudel, though the King of England hath
given him four manors for one song. I would be willing to contend
with him in romance, lay, or fable, were the judge to be King
Henry himself."

"You have your own good word, doubtless," said De Lacy;
"nevertheless, Sir Minstrel, thou goest not with me. The Crusade
has been already too much encumbered by men of thy idle
profession; and if thou dost add to the number, it shall not be
under my protection. I am too old to be charmed by thy art, charm
thou never so wisely."

"He that is young enough to seek for, and to win, the love of
beauty," said the minstrel, but in a submissive tone, as if
fearing his freedom might give offence, "should not term himself
too old to feel the charms of minstrelsy."

The Constable smiled, not insensible to the flattery which
assigned to him the character of a younger gallant. "Thou art a
jester," he said, "I warrant me, in addition to thy other
qualities."

"No," replied the minstrel, "it is a branch of our profession
which I have for some time renounced--my fortunes have put me out
of tune for jesting."

"Nay, comrade," said the Constable, "if thou hast been hardly
dealt within the world, and canst comply with the rules of a
family so strictly ordered as mine, it is possible we may agree
together better than I thought. What is thy name and country? thy
speech, methinks, sounds somewhat foreign."

"I am an Armorican, my lord, from the merry shores of Morbihan;
and hence my tongue hath some touch of my country speech. My name
is Renault Vidal."

"Such being the case, Renault," said the Constable, "thou shalt
follow me, and I will give orders to the master of my household to
have thee attired something according to thy function, but in more
orderly guise than thou now appearest in. Dost thou understand the
use of a weapon?"

"Indifferently, my lord," said the Armorican; at the same time
taking a sword from the wall, he drew, and made a pass with it so
close to the Constable's body as he sat on the couch, that he
started up, crying, "Villain, forbear!"

"La you! noble sir," replied Vidal, lowering with all submission
the point of his weapon--"I have already given you a proof of
sleight which has alarmed even your experience--I have an hundred
other besides."

"It may be so," said De Lacy, somewhat ashamed at having shown
himself moved by the sudden and lively action of the juggler; "but
I love not jesting with edge-tools, and have too much to do with
sword and sword-blows in earnest, to toy with them; so I pray you
let us have no more of this, but call me my squire and my
chamberlain, for I am about to array me and go to mass."

The religious duties of the morning performed, it was the
Constable's intention to visit the Lady Abbess, and communicate,
with the necessary precautions and qualifications, the altered
relations in which he was placed towards her niece, by the
resolution he had been compelled to adopt, of departing for the
Crusade before accomplishing his marriage, in the terms of the
precontract already entered into. He was conscious that it would
be difficult to reconcile the good lady to this change of
measures, and he delayed some time ere he could think of the best
mode of communicating and softening the unpleasant intelligence.
An interval was also spent in a visit to his nephew, whose state
of convalescence continued to be as favourable, as if in truth it
had been a miraculous consequence of the Constable's having
complied with the advice of the Archbishop.

From the lodging of Damian, the Constable proceeded to the convent
of the Benedictine Abbess. But she had been already made
acquainted with the circumstances which he came to communicate, by
a still earlier visit from the Archbishop Baldwin himself. The
Primate had undertaken the office of mediator on this occasion,
conscious that his success of the evening before must have placed
the Constable in a delicate situation with the relations of his
betrothed bride, and willing, by his countenance and authority, to
reconcile the disputes which might ensue. Perhaps he had better
have left Hugo de Lacy to plead his own cause; for the Abbess,
though she listened to the communication with all the respect due
to the highest dignitary of the English Church, drew consequences
from the Constable's change of resolution which the Primate had
not expected. She ventured to oppose no obstacle to De Lacy's
accomplishment of his vows, but strongly argued that the contract
with her niece should be entirely set aside, and each, party left
at liberty to form a new choice.

It was in vain that the Archbishop endeavoured to dazzle the
Abbess with the future honours to be won by the Constable in the
Holy Land; the splendour of which would attach not to his lady
alone, but to all in the remotest degree allied to or connected
with her. All his eloquence was to no purpose, though upon so
favourite a topic he exerted it to the utmost. The Abbess, it is
true, remained silent for a moment after his arguments had been
exhausted, but it was only to consider how she should intimate in
a suitable and reverent manner, that children, the usual
attendants of a happy union, and the existence of which she looked
to for the continuation of the house of her father and brother,
could not be hoped for with any probability, unless the
precontract was followed by marriage, and the residence of the
married parties in the same country. She therefore insisted, that
the Constable having altered his intentions in this most important
particular, the _fiancailles_ should be entirely abrogated
and set aside; and she demanded of the Primate, as an act of
justice, that, as he had interfered to prevent the bridegroom's
execution of his original purpose, he should now assist with his
influence wholly to dissolve an engagement which had been thus
materially innovated upon.

The Primate, who was sensible he had himself occasioned De Lacy's
breach of contract, felt himself bound in honour and reputation to
prevent consequences so disagreeable to his friend, as the
dissolution of an engagement in which his interest and
inclinations were alike concerned. He reproved the Lady Abbess for
the carnal and secular views which she, a dignitary of the church,
entertained upon the subject of matrimony, and concerning the
interest of her house. He even upbraided her with selfishly
preferring the continuation of the line of Berenger to the
recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, and denounced to her that Heaven
would be avenged of the shortsighted and merely human policy,
which postponed the interests of Christendom to those of an
individual family.

After this severe homily, the Prelate took his departure, leaving
the Abbess highly incensed, though she prudently forbore returning
any irreverent answer to his paternal admonition.

In this humour the venerable lady was found by the Constable
himself, when with some embarrassment, he proceeded to explain to
her the necessity of his present departure for Palestine.

She received the communication with sullen dignity; her ample
black robe and scapular seeming, as it were, to swell out in yet
prouder folds as she listened to the reasons and the emergencies
which compelled the Constable of Chester to defer the marriage
which he avowed was the dearest wish of his heart, until after his
return from the Crusade, for which he was about to set forth.

"Methinks," replied the Abbess, with much coldness, "if this
communication is meant for earnest,--and it were no fit business--
I myself no fit person,--for jesting with--methinks the
Constable's resolution should have been proclaimed to us yesterday
before the _fiancailles_ had united his troth with that of
Eveline Berenger, under expectations very different from those
which he now announces."

"On the word of a knight and a gentleman, reverend lady," said the
Constable, "I had not then the slightest thought that I should be
called upon to take a step no less distressing to me, than, as I
see with pain, it is unpleasing to you."

"I can scarcely conceive," replied the Abbess, "the cogent
reasons, which, existing as they must have done yesterday, have
nevertheless delayed their operation until to-day."

"I own," said De Lacy, reluctantly, "that I entertained too ready
hopes of obtaining a remission from my vow, which my Lord of
Canterbury hath, in his zeal for Heaven's service, deemed it
necessary to refuse me."

"At least, then," said the Abbess, veiling her resentment under
the appearance of extreme coldness, "your lordship will do us the
justice to place us in the same situation in which we stood
yesterday morning; and, by joining with my niece and her friends
in desiring the abrogation of a marriage contract, entered into
with very different views from those which you now entertain, put
a young person in that state of liberty of which she is at present
deprived by her contract with you."

"Ah, madam!" said the Constable, "what do you ask of me? and in a
tone how cold and indifferent do you demand me to resign hopes,
the dearest which my bosom ever entertained since the life-blood
warmed it!"

"I am unacquainted with language belonging to such feelings, my
lord," replied the Abbess; "but methinks the prospects which could
be so easily adjourned for years, might, by a little, and a very
little, farther self-control, be altogether abandoned."

Hugo de Lacy paced the room in agitation, nor did he answer until
after a considerable pause. "If your niece, madam, shares the
sentiments which you have expressed, I could not, indeed, with
justice to her, or perhaps to myself, desire to retain that
interest in her, which our solemn espousals have given me. But I
must know my doom from her own lips; and if it is as severe as
that which your expressions lead me to fear, I will go to
Palestine the better soldier of Heaven, that I shall have little
left on earth that can interest me."

The Abbess, without farther answer, called on her Praecentrix, and
desired her to command her niece's attendance immediately. The
Praecentrix bowed reverently, and withdrew.

"May I presume to inquire," said De Lacy, "whether the Lady
Eveline hath been possessed of the circumstances which have
occasioned this unhappy alteration in my purpose?"

"I have communicated the whole to her from point to point," said
the Abbess, "even as it was explained to me this morning by my
Lord of Canterbury, (for with him I have already spoken upon the
subject,) and confirmed but now by your lordship's own mouth."

"I am little obliged to the Archbishop," said the Constable, "for
having forestalled my excuses in the quarter where it was most
important for me that they should be accurately stated, and
favourably received."

"That," said the Abbess, "is but an item of the account betwixt
you and the Prelate,--it concerns not us."

"Dare I venture to hope," continued De Lacy, without taking
offence at the dryness of the Abbess's manner, "that Lady Eveline
has heard this most unhappy change of circumstances without
emotion,--I would say, without displeasure?"

"She is the daughter of a Berenger, my lord," answered the Abbess,
"and it is our custom to punish a breach of faith or to contemn
it--never to grieve over it. What my niece may do in this case, I
know not. I am a woman of religion, sequestered from the world,
and would advise peace and Christian forgiveness, with a proper
sense of contempt for the unworthy treatment which she has
received. She has followers and vassals, and friends, doubtless,
and advisers, who may not, in blinded zeal for worldly honour,
recommend to her to sit down slightly with this injury, but desire
she should rather appeal to the King, or to the arms of her
father's followers, unless her liberty is restored to her by the
surrender of the contract into which she has been enticed.--But
she comes, to answer for herself."

Eveline entered at the moment, leaning on Rose's arm. She had laid
aside mourning since the ceremony of the _fiancailles_, and
was dressed in a kirtle of white, with an upper robe of pale blue.
Her head was covered with a veil of white gauze, so thin, as to
float about her like the misty cloud usually painted around the
countenance of a seraph. But the face of Eveline, though in beauty
not unworthy one of that angelic order, was at present far from
resembling that of a seraph in tranquillity of expression. Her
limbs trembled, her cheeks were pale, the tinge of red around the
eyelids expressed recent tears; yet amidst these natural signs of
distress and uncertainty, there was an air of profound
resignation--a resolution to discharge her duty in every emergence
reigning in the solemn expression of her eye and eyebrow, and
showing her prepared to govern the agitation which she could not
entirely subdue. And so well were these opposing qualities of
timidity and resolution mingled on her cheek, that Eveline, in the
utmost pride of her beauty, never looked more fascinating than at
that instant; and Hugo de Lacy, hitherto rather an unimpassioned
lover, stood in her presence with feelings as if all the
exaggerations of romance were realized, and his mistress were a
being of a higher sphere, from whose doom he was to receive
happiness or misery, life or death.

It was under the influence of such a feeling, that the warrior
dropped on one knee before Eveline, took the hand which she rather
resigned than gave to him, pressed it to his lips fervently, and,
ere he parted with it, moistened it with one of the few tears
which he was ever known to shed. But, although surprised, and
carried out of his character by a sudden impulse, he regained his
composure on observing that the Abbess regarded his humiliation,
if it can be so termed, with an air of triumph; and he entered on
his defence before Eveline with a manly earnestness, not devoid of
fervour, nor free from agitation, yet made in a tone of firmness
and pride, which seemed assumed to meet and control that of the
offended Abbess.

"Lady," he said, addressing Eveline, "you have heard from the
venerable Abbess in what unhappy position I have been placed since
yesterday by the rigour of the Archbishop--perhaps I should rather
say by his just though severe interpretation of my engagement in
the Crusade. I cannot doubt that all this has been stated with
accurate truth by the venerable lady; but as I must no longer call
her my friend, let me fear whether she has done me justice in her
commentary upon the unhappy necessity which must presently compel
me to leave my country, and with my country to forego--at best to
postpone--the fairest hopes which man ever entertained. The
venerable lady hath upbraided me, that being myself the cause that
the execution of yesterday's contract is postponed, I would fain
keep it suspended over your head for an indefinite term of years.
No one resigns willingly such rights as yesterday gave me; and,
let me speak a boastful word, sooner than yield them up to man of
woman born, I would hold a fair field against all comers, with
grinded sword and sharp spear, from sunrise to sunset, for three
days' space. But what I would retain at the price of a thousand
lives, I am willing to renounce if it would cost you a single
sigh. If, therefore, you think you cannot remain happy as the
betrothed of De Lacy, you may command my assistance to have the
contract annulled, and make some more fortunate man happy."

He would have gone on, but felt the danger of being overpowered
again by those feelings of tenderness so new to his steady
nature, that he blushed to give way to them.

Eveline remained silent. The Abbess took the word. "Kinswoman,"
she said, "you hear that the generosity--or the justice--of the
Constable of Chester, proposes, in consequence of his departure
upon a distant and perilous expedition, to cancel a contract
entered into upon the specific and precise understanding that he
was to remain in England for its fulfilment. You cannot, methinks,
hesitate to accept of the freedom which he offers you, with thanks
for his bounty. For my part, I will reserve mine own, until I
shall see that your joint application is sufficient to win to your
purpose his Grace of Canterbury, who may again interfere with the
actions of his friend the Lord Constable, over whom he has already
exerted so much influence--for the weal, doubtless, of his
spiritual concerns."

"If it is meant by your words, venerable lady," said the
Constable, "that I have any purpose of sheltering myself behind
the Prelate's authority, to avoid doing that which I proclaim my
readiness, though not my willingness, to do, I can only say, that
you are the first who has doubted the faith of Hugo de Lacy."--And
while the proud Baron thus addressed a female and a recluse, he
could not prevent his eye from sparkling, and his cheek from
flushing.

"My gracious and venerable kinswoman," said Eveline, summoning
together her resolution, "and you, my kind lord, be not offended
if I pray you not to increase by groundless suspicions and hasty
resentments your difficulties and mine. My lord, the obligations
which I lie under to you are such as I can never discharge, since
they comprehend fortune, life, and honour. Know that, in my
anguish of mind, when besieged by the Welsh in my castle of the
Garde Doloureuse, I vowed to the Virgin, that (my honour safe) I
would place myself at the disposal of him whom our Lady should
employ as her instrument to relieve me from yonder hour of agony.
In giving me a deliverer, she gave me a master; nor could I desire
a more noble one than Hugo de Lacy."

"God forbid, lady," said the Constable, speaking eagerly, as if he
was afraid his resolution should fail ere he could get the
renunciation uttered, "that I should, by such a tie, to which you
subjected yourself in the extremity of your distress, bind you to
any resolution in my favour which can put force on your own
inclinations!"

The Abbess herself could not help expressing her applause of this
sentiment, declaring it was spoken like a Norman gentleman; but at
the same time, her eyes, turned towards her niece, seemed to
exhort her to beware how she declined to profit by the candour of
De Lacy.

But Eveline proceeded, with her eyes fixed on the ground, and a
slight colour overspreading her face, to state her own sentiments,
without listening to the suggestions of any one. "I will own,
noble sir," she said, "that when your valour had rescued me from
approaching destruction, I could have wished--honouring and
respecting you, as I had done your late friend, my excellent
father--that you could have accepted a daughter's service from me.
I do not pretend entirely to have surmounted these sentiments,
although I have combated them, as being unworthy of me, and
ungrateful to you. But, from the moment you were pleased to honour
me by a claim on this poor hand, I have studiously examined my
sentiments towards you, and taught myself so far to make them
coincide with my duty, that I may call myself assured that De Lacy
would not find in Eveline Berenger an indifferent, far less an
unworthy bride. In this, sir, you may boldly confide, whether the
union you have sought for takes place instantly, or is delayed
till a longer season. Still farther, I must acknowledge that the
postponement of these nuptials will be more agreeable to me than
their immediate accomplishment. I am at present very young, and
totally inexperienced. Two or three years will, I trust, render me
yet more worthy the regard of a man of honour."

At this declaration in his favour, however cold and qualified, De
Lacy had as much difficulty to restrain his transports as formerly
to moderate his agitation.

"Angel of bounty and of kindness!" he said, kneeling once more,
and again possessing himself of her hand, "perhaps I ought in
honour to resign voluntarily those hopes which you decline to
ravish from me forcibly. But who could be capable of such
unrelenting magnanimity?--Let me hope that my devoted attachment--
that which you shall hear of me when at a distance--that which you
shall know of me when near you--may give to your sentiments a more
tender warmth than they now express; and, in the meanwhile, blame
me not that I accept your plighted faith anew, under the
conditions which you attach to it. I am conscious my wooing has
been too late in life to expect the animated returns proper to
youthful passion--Blame me not if I remain satisfied with those
calmer sentiments which make life happy, though they cannot make
possession rapturous. Your hand remains In my grasp, but it
acknowledges not my pressure--Can it be that it refuses to ratify
what your lips have said?"

"Never, noble De Lacy!" said Eveline, with more animation than she
had yet expressed; and it appeared that the tone was at length
sufficiently encouraging, since her lover was emboldened to take
the lips themselves for guarantee.

It was with an air of pride, mingled with respect, that, after
having received this pledge of fidelity, he turned to conciliate
and to appease the offended Abbess. "I trust, venerable mother,"
he said, "that you will resume your former kind thoughts of me,
which I am aware were only interrupted by your tender anxiety for
the interest of her who should be dearest to us both. Let me hope
that I may leave this fair flower under protection of the honoured
lady who is her nest in blood, happy and secure as she must ever
be, while listening to your counsels, and residing within these
sacred walls."

But the Abbess was too deeply displeased to be propitiated by a
compliment, which perhaps it had been better policy to have
delayed till a calmer season. "My lord," she said, "and you, fair
kinswoman, you ought needs to be aware how little my counsels--not
frequently given where they are unwillingly listened to--can be of
avail to those embarked in worldly affairs. I am a woman dedicated
to religion, to solitude, and seclusion--to the service, in brief,
of Our Lady and Saint Benedict. I have been already censured by my
superior because I have, for love of you, fair niece, mixed more
deeply in secular affairs than became the head of a convent of
recluses--I will merit no farther blame on such an account; nor
can you expect it of me. My brother's daughter, unfettered by
worldly ties, had been the welcome sharer of my poor solicitude.
But this house is too mean for the residence of the vowed bride of
a mighty baron; nor do I, in my lowliness and inexperience, feel
fitness to exercise over such an one that authority, which must
belong to me over every one whom this roof protects. The grave
tenor of our devotions, and the serener contemplation to which the
females of this house are devoted," continued the Abbess, with
increasing heat and vehemence, "shall not, for the sake of my
worldly connections, be disturbed by the intrusion of one whose
thoughts must needs be on the worldly toys of love and marriage."

"I do indeed believe, reverend mother," said the Constable, in his
turn giving way to displeasure, "that a richly-dowered maiden,
unwedded, and unlikely to wed, were a fitter and more welcome
inmate to the convent, than one who cannot be separated from the
world, and whose wealth is not likely to increase the House's
revenues."

The Constable did the Abbess great injury in this hasty
insinuation, and it only went to confirm her purpose of rejecting
all charge of her niece during his absence. She was in truth as
disinterested as haughty; and her only reason for anger against
her niece was, that her advice had not been adopted without
hesitation, although the matter regarded Eveline's happiness
exclusively.

The ill-timed reflection of the Constable confirmed her in the
resolution which she had already, and hastily adopted. "May Heaven
forgive you, Sir Knight," she replied, "your injurious thoughts of
His servants! It is indeed time, for your soul's sake, that you do
penance in the Holy Land, having such rash judgments to repent
of.--For you, my niece, you cannot want that hospitality, which,
without verifying, or seeming to verify, unjust suspicions, I
cannot now grant to you, while you have, in your kinswoman of
Baldringham, a secular relation, whose nearness of blood
approaches mine, and who may open her gates to you without
incurring the unworthy censure, that she means to enrich herself
at your cost."

The Constable saw the deadly paleness which, came over Eveline's
cheek at this proposal, and, without knowing the cause of her
repugnance, he hastened to relieve her from the apprehensions
which she seemed evidently to entertain. "No, reverend mother," he
said, "since _you_ so harshly reject the care of your
kinswoman, she shall not be a burden to any of her other
relatives. While Hugo de Lacy hath six gallant castles, and many a
manor besides, to maintain fire upon their hearths, his betrothed
bride shall burden no one with her society, who may regard it as
otherwise than a great honour; and methinks I were much poorer
than Heaven hath made me, could I not furnish friends and
followers sufficient to serve, obey, and protect her."

"No, my lord," said Eveline, recovering from the dejection into
which she had been thrown by the unkindness of her relative;
"since some unhappy destiny separates me from the protection of my
father's sister, to whom I could so securely have resigned myself,
I will neither apply for shelter to any more distant relation, nor
accept of that which you, my lord, so generously offer; since my
doing so might excite harsh, and, I am sure, undeserved
reproaches, against her by whom I was driven to choose a less
advisable dwelling-place. I have made my resolution. I have, it is
true, only one friend left, but she is a powerful one, and is able
to protect me against the particular evil fate which seems to
follow me, as well as against the ordinary evils of human life."

"The Queen, I suppose?" said the Abbess, interrupting her
impatiently.

"The Queen of Heaven! venerable kinswoman," answered Eveline; "our
Lady of the Garde Doloureuse, ever gracious to our house, and so
lately my especial guardian and protectress. Methinks, since the
vowed votaress of the Virgin rejects me, it is to her holy
patroness whom I ought to apply for succour."

The venerable dame, taken somewhat at unawares by this answer,
pronounced the interjection "Umph!" in a tone better befitting a
Lollard or an Iconoclast, than a Catholic Abbess, and a daughter
of the House of Berenger. Truth is, the Lady Abbess's hereditary
devotion to the Lady of the Garde Doloureuse was much decayed
since she had known the full merits of another gifted image, the
property of her own convent.

Recollecting herself, however, she remained silent, while the
Constable alleged the vicinity of the Welsh, as what might
possibly again render the abode of his betrothed bride at the
Garde Doloureuse as perilous as she had on a former occasion found
it. To this Eveline replied, by reminding him of the great
strength of her native fortress--the various sieges which it had
withstood--and the important circumstance, that, upon the late
occasion, it was only endangered, because, in compliance with a
point of honour, her father Raymond had sallied out with the
garrison, and fought at disadvantage a battle under the walls. She
farther suggested, that it was easy for the Constable to name,
from among his own vassals or hers, a seneschal of such approved
prudence and valour, as might ensure the safety of the place, and
of its lady.

Ere De Lacy could reply to her arguments the Abbess rose, and,
pleading her total inability to give counsel in secular affairs,
and the rules of her order, which called her, as she said, with a
heightened colour and raised voice, "to the simple and peaceful
discharge of her conventual duties," she left the betrothed
parties in the locutory, or parlour, without any company, save
Rose, who prudently remained at some distance.

The issue of their private conference seemed agreeable to both;
and when Eveline told Rose that they were to return presently to
the Garde Doloureuse, under a sufficient escort, and were to
remain there during the period of the Crusade, it was in a tone of
heartfelt satisfaction, which her follower had not heard her make
use of for many days. She spoke also highly in praise of the kind
acquiescence of the Constable in her wishes, and of his whole
conduct, with a warmth of gratitude approaching to a more tender
feeling.

"And yet, my dearest lady," said Rose, "if you will speak
unfeignedly, you must, I am convinced, allow that you look upon
this interval of years, interposed betwixt your contract and your
marriage, rather as a respite than in any other light."

"I confess it," said Eveline, "nor have I concealed from, my
future lord that such are my feelings, ungracious as they may
seem. But it is my youth, Rose, my extreme youth, which makes me
fear the duties of De Lacy's wife. Then those evil auguries hang
strangely about me. Devoted to evil by one kinswoman, expelled
almost from the roof of another, I seem to myself, at present, a
creature who must carry distress with her, pass where she will.
This evil hour, and, what is more, the apprehensions of it, will
give way to time. When I shall have attained the age of twenty,
Rose, I shall be a full-grown woman, with all the soul of a
Berenger strong within me, to overcome those doubts and tremors
which agitate the girl of seventeen."

"Ah! my sweet mistress," answered Rose, "may God and our Lady of
the Garde Doloureuse guide all for the best!--But I would that this
contract had not taken place, or, having taken place, that it
could have been fulfilled by your immediate union."

Sir Walter Scott