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Chapter 21

Oh! then I see Queen Mab has been with you.
ROMEO AND JULIET.


The subject on which the mind has last been engaged at night is
apt to occupy our thoughts even during slumber, when Imagination,
uncorrected by the organs of sense, weaves her own fantastic web
out of whatever ideas rise at random in the sleeper. It is not
surprising, therefore, that De Lacy in his dreams had some
confused idea of being identified with the unlucky Mark of
Cornwall; and that he awakened from such unpleasant visions with a
brow more clouded than when he was preparing for his couch on the
evening before. He was silent, and seemed lost in thought, while
his squire assisted at his levee with the respect now only paid to
sovereigns. "Guarine," at length he said, "know you the stout
Fleming, who was said to have borne him so well at the siege of
the Garde Doloureuse?--a tall, big, brawny man."

"Surely, my lord," answered his squire; "I know Wilkin Flammock--I
saw him but yesterday."

"Indeed!" replied the Constable--"Here, meanest thou?--In this
city of Gloucester?"

"Assuredly, my good lord. He came hither partly about his
merchandise, partly, I think, to see his daughter Rose, who is in
attendance on the gracious young Lady Eveline."

"He is a stout soldier, is he not?"

"Like most of his kind--a rampart to a castle, but rubbish in the
field," said the Norman squire.

"Faithful, also, is he not?" continued the Constable.

"Faithful as most Flemings, while you can pay for their faith,"
replied Guarine, wondering a little at the unusual interest taken
in one whom he esteemed a being of an inferior order; when, after
some farther inquiries, the Constable ordered the Fleming's
attendance to be presently commanded.

Other business of the morning now occurred, (for his speedy
departure required many arrangements to be hastily adopted,) when,
as the Constable was giving audience to several officers of his
troops, the bulky figure of Wilkin Flammock was seen at the
entrance of the pavilion, in jerkin of white cloth, and having
only a knife by his side.

"Leave the tent, my masters," said De Lacy, "but continue in
attendance in the neighbourhood; for here comes one I must speak
to in private." The officers withdrew, and the Constable and
Fleming were left alone. "You are Wilkin Mammock, who fought well
against the Welsh at the Garde Doloureuse?"

"I did my best, my lord," answered Wilkin--"I was bound to it by my
bargain; and I hope ever to act like a man of credit."

"Methinks" said the Constable, "that you, so stout of limb, and,
as I hear, so bold in spirit, might look a little higher than this
weaving trade of thine."

"No one is reluctant to mend his station, my lord," said Wilkin;
"yet I am so far from complaining of mine, that I would willingly
consent it should never be better, on condition I could be assured
it were never worse."

"Nay, but, Flammock," said the Constable, "I mean higher things
for you than your modesty apprehends--I mean to leave thee in a
charge of great trust."

"Let it concern bales of drapery, my lord, and no one will perform
it better," said the Fleming.

"Away! thou art too lowly minded," said the Constable. "What
think'st thou of being dubbed knight, as thy valour well deserves,
and left as Chattelain of the Garde Doloureuse?"

"For the knighthood, my lord, I should crave your forgiveness; for
it would sit on me like a gilded helmet on a hog. For any charge,
whether of castle or cottage, I trust I might discharge it as well
as another."

"I fear me thy rank must be in some way mended," said the
Constable, surveying the unmilitary dress of the figure before
him; "it is at present too mean to befit the protector and
guardian of a young lady of high birth and rank."

"I the guardian of a young lady of birth and rank!" said Flammock,
his light large eyes turning larger, lighter, and rounder as he
spoke.

"Even thou," said the Constable. "The Lady Eveline proposes to
take up her residence in her castle of the Garde Doloureuse. I
have been casting about to whom I may intrust the keeping of her
person as well as of the stronghold. Were I to choose some knight
of name, as I have many in my household, he would be setting about
to do deeds of vassalage upon the Welsh, and engaging himself in
turmoils, which would render the safety of the castle precarious;
or he would be absent on feats of chivalry, tournaments, and
hunting parties; or he would, perchance, have shows of that light
nature under the walls, or even within the courts of the castle,
turning the secluded and quiet abode, which becomes the situation
of the Lady Eveline, into the misrule of a dissolute revel.--Thee
I can confide in--thou wilt fight when it is requisite, yet wilt
not provoke danger for the sake of danger itself--thy birth, thy
habits, will lead thee to avoid those gaieties, which, however
fascinating to others, cannot but be distasteful to thee--thy
management will be as regular, as I will take care that it shall
be honourable; and thy relation to her favourite, Rose, will
render thy guardianship more agreeable to the Lady Eveline, than,
perchance, one of her own rank--And, to speak to thee a language
which, thy nation readily comprehends, the reward, Fleming, for
the regular discharge of this most weighty trust, shall be beyond
thy most flattering hope."

The Fleming had listened to the first part of this discourse with
an expression of surprise, which gradually gave way to one of deep
and anxious reflection. He gazed fixedly on the earth for a minute
after the Constable had ceased speaking, and then raising up his
eyes suddenly, said, "It is needless to seek for round-about
excuses. This cannot be your earnest, my lord--but if it is, the
scheme is naught."

"How and wherefore?" asked the Constable, with displeased
surprise.

"Another man may grasp at your bounty," continued Wilkin, "and
leave you to take chance of the value you were to receive for it;
but I am a downright dealer, I will not take payment for service I
cannot render."

"But I demand, once more, wherefore thou canst not, or rather wilt
not, accept this trust?" said the Constable. "Surely, if I am
willing to confer such confidence, it is well thy part to answer
it."

"True, my lord," said the Fleming; "but methinks the noble Lord de
Lacy should feel, and the wise Lord de Lacy should foresee, that a
Flemish weaver is no fitting guardian for his plighted bride.
Think her shut up in yonder solitary castle, under such
respectable protection, and reflect how long the place will be
solitary in this land of love and of adventure! We shall have
minstrels singing ballads by the threave under our windows, and
such twangling of harps as would be enough to frighten our walls
from their foundations, as clerks say happened to those of
Jericho--We shall have as many knights-errant around us as ever
had Charlemagne, or King Arthur. Mercy on me! A less matter than a
fine and noble recluse immured--so will they term it--in a tower,
under the guardianship of an old Flemish weaver, would bring half
the chivalry in England round us, to break lances, vow vows,
display love-liveries, and I know not what follies besides.--Think
you such gallants, with the blood flying through their veins like
quicksilver, would much mind _my_ bidding them begone?"

"Draw bolts, up with the drawbridge, drop portcullis," said the
Constable, with a constrained smile.

"And thinks your lordship such gallants would mind these
impediments? such are the very essence of the adventures which
they come to seek.--The Knight of the Swan would swim through the
moat--he of the Eagle would fly over the wails--he of the
Thunderbolt would burst open the gates."

"Ply crossbow and mangonel," said de Lacy.

"And be besieged in form," said the Fleming, "like the Castle of
Tintadgel in the old hangings, all for the love of fair lady?--And
then those gay dames and demoiselles, who go upon adventure from
castle to castle, from tournament to tournament, with bare bosoms,
flaunting plumes, poniards at their sides, and javelins in their
hands, chattering like magpies, and fluttering like jays, and,
ever and anon, cooing like doves--how am I to exclude such from
the Lady Eveline's privacy?"

"By keeping doors shut, I tell thee," answered the Constable,
still in the same tone of forced jocularity; "a wooden bar will be
thy warrant."

"Ay, but," answered Flammock, "if the Flemish weaver say
_shut_, when the Norman young lady says _open_, think
which has best chance of being obeyed. At a word, my lord, for the
matter of guardianship, and such like, I wash my hands of it--I
would not undertake to be guardian to the chaste Susannah, though
she lived in an enchanted castle, which no living thing could
approach."

"Thou holdest the language and thoughts," said De Lacy, "of a
vulgar debauchee, who laughs at female constancy, because he has
lived only with the most worthless of the sex. Yet thou shouldst
know the contrary, having, as I know, a most virtuous daughter--"

"Whose mother was not less so," said Wilkin, breaking in upon the
Constable's speech with somewhat more emotion than he usually
displayed, "But law, my lord, gave me authority to govern and
direct my wife, as both law and nature give me power and charge
over my daughter. That which I can govern, I can be answerable
for; but how to discharge me so well of a delegated trust, is
another question.--Stay at home, my good lord," continued the
honest Fleming, observing that his speech made some impression
upon De Lacy; "let a fool's advice for once be of avail to change
a wise man's purpose, taken, let me say, in no wise hour. Remain
in your own land, rule your own vassals, and protect your own
bride. You only can claim her cheerful love and ready obedience;
and sure I am, that, without pretending to guess what she may do
if separated from you, she will, under your own eye, do the duty
of a faithful and a loving spouse."

"And the Holy Sepulchre?" said the Constable, with a sigh, his
heart confessing the wisdom of the advice, which circumstances
prevented him from following.

"Let those who lost the Holy Sepulchre regain it, my lord,"
replied Flammock. "If those Latins and Greeks, as they call them,
are no better men than I have heard, it signifies very little
whether they or the heathen have the country that has cost Europe
so much blood and treasure." "In good faith," said the Constable,
"there is sense in what thou say'st; but I caution thee to repeat
it not, lest thou be taken for a heretic or a Jew. For me, my word
and oath are pledged beyond retreat, and I have only to consider
whom I may best name for that important station, which thy caution
has--not without some shadow of reason--induced thee to decline."

"There is no man to whom your lordship can so naturally or
honourably transfer such a charge," said Wilkin Flammock, "as to
the kinsman near to you, and possessed of your trust; yet much
better would it be were there no such trust to be reposed in any
one."

"If," said the Constable, "by my near kinsman, you mean Randal de
Lacy, I care not if I tell you, that I consider him as totally
worthless, and undeserving of honourable confidence."

"Nay, I mean another," said Flammock, "nearer to you by blood,
and, unless I greatly mistake, much nigher also in affection--I
had in mind your lordship's nephew, Damian de Lacy."

The Constable started as if a wasp had stung him; but instantly
replied, with forced composure, "Damian was to have gone in my
stead to Palestine--it now seems I must go in his; for, since this
last illness, the leeches have totally changed their minds, and
consider that warmth of the climate as dangerous, which they
formerly decided to be salutary. But our learned doctors, like our
learned priests, must ever be in the right, change their counsels
as they may; and we poor laymen still in the wrong. I can, it is
true, rely on Damian with the utmost confidence; but he is young,
Flammock--very young--and in that particular, resembles but too
nearly the party who might be otherwise committed to his charge."

"Then once more, my lord," said the plain-spoken Fleming, "remain
at home, and be yourself the protector of what is naturally so
dear to you."

"Once more, I repeat, that I cannot," answered the Constable. "The
step which I have adopted as a great duty, may perhaps be a great
error--I only know that it is irretrievable."

"Trust your nephew, then, my lord," replied Wilkin--"he is honest
and true; and it is better trusting young lions than old wolves.
He may err, perhaps, but it will not be from premeditated
treachery."

"Thou art right, Flammock," said the Constable; "and perhaps I
ought to wish I had sooner asked thy counsel, blunt as it is. But
let what has passed be a secret betwixt us; and bethink thee of
something that may advantage thee more than the privilege of
speaking about my affairs."

"That account will be easily settled, my lord," replied Flammock;
"for my object was to ask your lordship's favour to obtain certain
extensions of our privileges, in yonder wild corner where we
Flemings have made our retreat."

"Thou shalt have them, so they be not exorbitant," said the
Constable. And the honest Fleming, among whose good qualities
scrupulous delicacy was not the foremost, hastened to detail, with
great minuteness, the particulars of his request or petition, long
pursued in vain, but to which this interview was the means of
insuring success.

The Constable, eager to execute the resolution which he had
formed, hastened to the lodging of Damian de Lacy, and to the no
small astonishment of his nephew, intimated to him his change of
destination; alleging his own hurried departure, Damian's late and
present illness, together with the necessary protection to be
afforded to the Lady Eveline, as reasons why his nephew must needs
remain behind him--to represent him during his absence--to protect
the family rights, and assert the family honour of the house of De
Lacy--above all, to act as the guardian of the young and beautiful
bride, whom his uncle and patron had been in some measure
compelled to abandon for a time.

Damian yet occupied his bed while the Constable communicated this
change of purpose. Perhaps he might think the circumstance
fortunate, that in this position he could conceal from his uncle's
observation the various emotions which he could not help feeling;
while the Constable, with the eagerness of one who is desirous of
hastily finishing what he has to say on an unpleasant subject,
hurried over an account of the arrangements which he had made, in
order that his nephew might have the means of discharging, with
sufficient effect, the important trust committed to him.

The youth listened as to a voice in a dream, which he had not the
power of interrupting, though there was something within him which
whispered there would be both prudence and integrity in
remonstrating against his uncle's alteration of plan. Something he
accordingly attempted to say, when the Constable at length paused;
but it was too feebly spoken to shake a resolution fully though
hastily adopted and explicitly announced, by one not in the use to
speak before his purpose was fixed, or to alter it when it was
declared.

The remonstrance of Damian, besides, if it could be termed such,
was spoken in terms too contradictory to be intelligible. In one
moment he professed his regret for the laurels which he had hoped
to gather in Palestine, and implored his uncle not to alter his
purpose, but permit him to attend his banner thither; and in the
next sentence, he professed his readiness to defend the safety of
Lady Eveline with the last drop of his blood. De Lacy saw nothing
inconsistent in these feelings, though they were for the moment
contradictory to each other. It was natural, he thought, that a
young knight should be desirous to win honour--natural also that
he should willingly assume a charge so honourable and important as
that with which he proposed to invest him; and therefore he
thought that it was no wonder that, assuming his new office
willingly, the young man should yet feel regret at losing the
prospect of honourable adventure, which he must abandon. He
therefore only smiled in reply to the broken expostulations of his
nephew; and, having confirmed his former arrangement, left the
young man to reflect at leisure on his change of destination,
while he himself, in a second visit to the Benedictine Abbey,
communicated the purpose which he had adopted, to the Abbess, and
to his bride-elect.

The displeasure of the former lady was in no measure abated by
this communication; in which, indeed, she affected to take very
little interest. She pleaded her religious duties, and her want of
knowledge of secular affairs, if she should chance to mistake the
usages of the world; yet she had always, she said, understood,
that the guardians of the young and beautiful of her own sex were
chosen from the more mature of the other.

"Your own unkindness, lady," answered the Constable, "leaves me no
better choice than I have made. Since the Lady Eveline's nearest
friends deny her the privilege of their roof, on account of the
claim with which she has honoured me, I, on my side, were worse
than ungrateful did I not secure for her the protection of my
nearest male heir. Damian is young, but he is true and honourable;
nor does the chivalry of England afford me a better choice."

Eveline seemed surprised, and even struck with consternation, at
the resolution which her bridegroom thus suddenly announced; and
perhaps it was fortunate that the remark of the Lady Abbess made
the answer of the Constable necessary, and prevented him from
observing that her colour shifted more than once from pale to deep
red. Rose, who was not excluded from the conference, drew close up
to her mistress; and, by affecting to adjust her veil, while in
secret she strongly pressed her hand, gave her time and
encouragement to compose her mind for a reply. It was brief and
decisive, and announced with a firmness which showed that the
uncertainty of the moment had passed away or been suppressed. "In
case of danger," she said, "she would not fail to apply to Damian
de Lacy to come to her aid, as he had once done before; but she
did not apprehend any danger at present, within her own secure
castle of the Garde Doloureuse, where it was her purpose to dwell,
attended only by her own household. She was resolved," she
continued, "in consideration of her peculiar condition, to observe
the strictest retirement, which she expected would not be violated
even by the noble young knight who was to act as her guardian,
unless some apprehension for her safety made his visit
unavoidable."

The Abbess acquiesced, though coldly, in a proposal, which her
ideas of decorum recommended; and preparations were hastily made
for the Lady Eveline's return to the castle of her father. Two
interviews which intervened before her leaving the convent, were
in their nature painful. The first was when Damian was formally
presented to her by his uncle, as the delegate to whom he had
committed the charge of his own property, and, which was much
dearer to him, as he affirmed, the protection of her person and
interest.

Eveline scarce trusted herself with one glance; but that single
look comprehended and reported to her the ravage which disease,
aided by secret grief, had made on the manly form and handsome
countenance of the youth before her. She received his salutation
in a manner as embarrassed as that in which it was made; and, to
his hesitating proffer of service, answered, that she trusted only
to be obliged to him for his good-will during the interval of his
uncle's absence.

Her parting with the Constable was the next trial which she was to
undergo. It was not without emotion, although she preserved her
modest composure, and De Lacy his calm gravity of deportment. His
voice faltered, however, when he came to announce, "that it were
unjust she should be bound by the engagement which she had been
graciously contented to abide under. Three years he had assigned
for its term; to which space the Arch-bishop Baldwin had consented
to shorten the period of his absence. If I appear not when these
are elapsed," he said, "let the Lady Eveline conclude that the
grave holds De Lacy, and seek out for her mate some happier man.
She cannot find one more grateful, though there are many who
better deserve her."

On these terms they parted; and the Constable, speedily afterwards
embarking, ploughed the narrow seas for the shores of Flanders,
where he proposed to unite his forces with the Count of that rich
and warlike country, who had lately taken the Cross, and to
proceed by the route which should be found most practicable on
their destination for the Holy Land. The broad pennon, with the
arms of the Lacys, streamed forward with a favourable wind from
the prow of the vessel, as if pointing to the quarter of the
horizon where its renown was to be augmented; and, considering the
fame of the leader, and the excellence of the soldiers who
followed him, a more gallant band, in proportion to their numbers,
never went to avenge on the Saracens the evils endured by the
Latins of Palestine.

Meanwhile Eveline, after a cold parting with the Abbess, whose
offended dignity had not yet forgiven the slight regard which she
had paid to her opinion, resumed her journey homeward to her
paternal castle, where her household was to be arranged in a
manner suggested by the Constable, and approved of by herself.

The same preparations were made for her accommodation at every
halting place which she had experienced upon her journey to
Gloucester, and, as before, the purveyor was invisible, although
she could be at little loss to guess his name. Yet it appeared as
if the character of these preparations was in some degree altered.
All the realities of convenience and accommodation, with the most
perfect assurances of safety, accompanied her every where on the
route; but they were no longer mingled with that display of tender
gallantry and taste, which marked that the attentions were paid to
a young and beautiful female. The clearest fountain-head, and the
most shady grove, were no longer selected for the noontide repast;
but the house of some franklin, or a small abbey, afforded the
necessary hospitality. All seemed to be ordered with the most
severe attention to rank and decorum--it seemed as if a nun of
some strict order, rather than a young maiden of high quality and
a rich inheritance, had been journeying through the land, and
Eveline, though pleased with the delicacy which seemed thus to
respect her unprotected and peculiar condition, would sometimes
think it unnecessary, that, by so many indirect hints, it should
be forced on her recollection.

She thought it strange also, that Damian, to whose care she had
been so solemnly committed, did not even pay his respects to her
on the road. Something there was which whispered to her, that
close and frequent intercourse might be unbecoming--even
dangerous; but surely the ordinary duties of a knight and
gentleman enjoined him some personal communication with the maiden
under his escort, were it only to ask if her accommodations had
been made to her satisfaction, or if she had any special wish
which was ungratified. The only intercourse, however, which took
place betwixt them, was through means of Amelot, Damian de Lacy's
youthful page, who came at morning and evening to receive
Eveline's commands concerning their route, and the hours of
journey and repose.

These formalities rendered the solitude of Eveline's return less
endurable; and had it not been for the society of Rose, she would
have found herself under an intolerably irksome degree of
constraint. She even hazarded to her attendant some remarks upon
the singularity of De Lacy's conduct, who, authorized as he was by
his situation, seemed yet as much afraid to approach her as if she
had been a basilisk.

Rose let the first observation of this nature pass as if it had
been unheard; but when her mistress made a second remark to the
same purpose, she answered, with the truth and freedom of her
character, though perhaps with less of her usual prudence, "Damian
de Lacy judges well, noble lady. He to whom the safe keeping of a
royal treasure is intrusted, should not indulge himself too often
by gazing upon it."

Eveline blushed, wrapt herself closer in her veil, nor did she
again during their journey mention the name of Damian de Lacy.

When the gray turrets of the Garde Doloureuse greeted her sight on
the evening of the second day, and she once more beheld her
father's banner floating from its highest watch-tower in honour of
her approach, her sensations were mingled with pain; but, upon the
whole, she looked towards that ancient home as a place of refuge,
where she might indulge the new train of thoughts which
circumstances had opened to her, amid the same scenes which had
sheltered her infancy and childhood.

She pressed forward her palfrey, to reach the ancient portal as
soon as possible, bowed hastily to the well-known faces which
showed themselves on all sides, but spoke to no one, until,
dismounting at the chapel door, she had penetrated to the crypt,
in which was preserved the miraculous painting. There, prostrate
on the ground, she implored the guidance and protection of the
Holy Virgin through those intricacies in which she had involved
herself, by the fulfilment of the vow which she had made in her
anguish before the same shrine. If the prayer was misdirected, its
purport was virtuous and sincere; nor are we disposed to doubt
that it attained that Heaven towards which it was devoutly
addressed.

Sir Walter Scott