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Chapter 22

The Virgin's image falls--yet some, I ween,
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend,
As to a visible power, in which might blend
All that was mix'd, and reconciled in her,
Of mother's love, with maiden's purity,
Of high with low, celestial with terrene.

The household of the Lady Eveline, though of an establishment
becoming her present and future rank, was of a solemn and
sequestered character, corresponding to her place of residence,
and the privacy connected with her situation, retired as she was
from the class of maidens who are yet unengaged, and yet not
united with that of matrons, who enjoy the protection of a married
name. Her immediate female attendants, with whom the reader is
already acquainted, constituted almost her whole society. The
garrison of the castle, besides household servants, consisted of
veterans of tried faith, the followers of Berenger and of De Lacy
in many a bloody field, to whom the duties of watching and warding
were as familiar as any of their more ordinary occupations, and
whose courage, nevertheless, tempered by age and experience, was
not likely to engage in any rash adventure or accidental quarrel.
These men maintained a constant and watchful guard, commanded by
the steward, but under the eye of Father Aldrovand, who, besides
discharging his ecclesiastical functions, was at times pleased to
show some sparkles of his ancient military education.

Whilst this garrison afforded security against any sudden attempt
on the part of the Welsh to surprise the castle, a strong body of
forces were disposed within a few miles of the Garde Doloureuse,
ready, on the least alarm, to advance to defend the place against
any more numerous body of invaders, who, undeterred by the fate of
Gwenwyn, might have the hardihood to form a regular siege. To
this band, which, under the eye of Damian de Lacy himself, was
kept in constant readiness for action, could be added on occasion
all the military force of the Marches, comprising numerous bodies
of Flemings, and other foreigners, who held their establishments
by military tenure.

While the fortress was thus secure from hostile violence, the life
of its inmates was so unvaried and simple, as might have excused
youth and beauty for wishing for variety, even at the expense of
some danger. The labours of the needle were only relieved by a
walk round the battlements, where Eveline, as she passed arm in
arm with Rose, received a military salute from each sentinel in
turn, or in the court-yard, where the caps and bonnets of the
domestics paid her the same respect which she received above from
the pikes and javelins of the warders. Did they wish to extend
their airing beyond the castle gate, it was not sufficient that
doors and bridges were to be opened and lowered; there was,
besides, an escort to get under arms, who, on foot or horseback as
the case might require, attended for the security of the Lady
Eveline's person. Without this military attendance they could not
in safety move even so far as the mills, where honest Wilkln
Flammock, his warlike deeds forgotten, was occupied with his
mechanical labours. But if a farther disport was intended, and the
Lady of the Garde Doloureuse proposed to hunt or hawk for a few
hours, her safety was not confided to a guard so feeble as the
garrison of the castle might afford. It was necessary that Raoul
should announce her purpose to Damian by a special messenger
despatched the evening before, that there might be time before
daybreak to scour, with a body of light cavalry, the region in
which she intended to take her pleasure; and sentinels were placed
in all suspicious places while she continued in the field. In
truth, she tried, upon one or two occasions, to make an excursion,
without any formal annunciation of her intention; but all her
purposes seemed to be known to Damian as soon as they were formed,
and she was no sooner abroad than parties of archers and spearmen
from his camp were seen scouring the valleys, and guarding the
mountain-pass, and Damian's own, plume was usually beheld
conspicuous among the distant soldiers.

The formality of these preparations so much allayed the pleasure
derived from the sport, that Eveline seldom resorted to amusement
which was attended with such bustle, and put in motion so many

The day being worn out as it best might, in the evening Father
Aldrovand was wont to read out of some holy legend, or from the
homilies of some departed saint, such passages as he deemed fit
for the hearing of his little congregation. Sometimes also he read
and expounded a chapter of the Holy Scripture; but in such cases,
the good man's attention was so strangely turned to the military
part of the Jewish history, that he was never able to quit the
books of Judges and of Kings, together with the triumphs of Judas
Maccabeus; although the manner in which he illustrated the
victories of the children of Israel was much more amusing to
himself than edifying to his female audience.

Sometimes, but rarely, Rose obtained permission for a strolling
minstrel to entertain an hour with his ditty of love and chivalry;
sometimes a pilgrim from a distant shrine, repaid by long tales of
the wonders which he had seen in other lands, the hospitality
which the Garde Doloureuse afforded; and sometimes also it
happened, that the interest and intercession of the tiring-woman
obtained admission for travelling merchants, or pedlars, who, at
the risk of their lives, found profit by carrying from castle to
castle the materials of rich dresses and female ornaments.

The usual visits of mendicants, of jugglers, of travelling
jesters, are not to be forgotten in this list of amusements; and
though his nation subjected him to close watch and observation,
even the Welsh bard, with his huge harp strung with horse-hair,
was sometimes admitted to vary the uniformity of their secluded
life. But, saving such amusements, and saving also the regular
attendance upon the religious duties at the chapel, it was
impossible for life to glide away in more wearisome monotony than
at the castle of the Garde Doloureuse. Since the death of its
brave owner, to whom feasting and hospitality seemed as natural as
thoughts of honour and deeds of chivalry, the gloom of a convent
might be said to have enveloped the ancient mansion of Raymond
Berenger, were it not that the presence of so many armed warders,
stalking in solemn state on the battlements, gave it rather the
aspect of a state-prison; and the temper of the inhabitants
gradually became infected by the character of their dwelling.

The spirits of Eveline in particular felt a depression, which her
naturally lively temper was quite inadequate to resist; and as her
ruminations became graver, had caught that calm and contemplative
manner, which is so often united with an ardent and enthusiastical
temperament. She meditated deeply upon the former accidents of her
life; nor can it be wondered that her thoughts repeatedly wandered
back to the two several periods on which she had witnessed, or
supposed that she had witnessed, a supernatural appearance. Then
it was that it often seemed to her, as if a good and evil power
strove for mastery over her destiny.

Solitude is favourable to feelings of self-importance; and it is
when alone, and occupied only with their own thoughts, that
fanatics have reveries, and imagined saints lose themselves in
imaginary ecstasies. With Eveline the influence of enthusiasm went
not such a length, yet it seemed to her as if in the vision of the
night she saw sometimes the aspect of the Lady of the Garde
Doloureuse, bending upon her glances of pity, comfort, and
protection; sometimes the ominous form of the Saxon castle of
Baldringbam, holding up the bloody hand as witness of the injuries
with which she had been treated while in life, and menacing with
revenge the descendant of her murderer.

On awaking from such dreams, Eveline would reflect that she was
the last branch of her house--a house to which the tutelage and
protection of the miraculous Image, and the enmity and evil
influence of the revengeful Vanda, had been peculiarly attached
for ages. It seemed to her as if she were the prize, for the
disposal of which the benign saint and vindictive fiend were now
to play their last and keenest game.

Thus thinking, and experiencing little interruption of her
meditations from any external circumstance of interest and
amusement, she became pensive, absent, wrapt herself up in
contemplations which withdrew her attention from the conversation
around her, and walked in the world of reality like one who is
still in a dream. When she thought of her engagement with the
Constable of Chester, it was with resignation, but without a wish,
and almost without an expectation, that she would be called upon
to fulfil it. She had accomplished her vow by accepting the faith
of her deliverer in exchange for her own; and although she held
herself willing to redeem the pledge--nay, would scarce confess to
herself the reluctance with which she thought of doing so--yet it
is certain that she entertained unavowed hopes that Our Lady of
the Garde Doloureuse would not be a severe creditor; but,
satisfied with the readiness she had shown to accomplish her vow,
would not insist upon her claim in its full rigour. It would have
been the blackest ingratitude, to have wished that her gallant
deliverer, whom she had so much cause to pray for, should
experience any of those fatalities which in the Holy Land so often
changed the laurel-wreath into cypress; but other accidents
chanced, when men had been long abroad, to alter those purposes
with which they had left home.

A strolling minstrel, who sought the Garde Doloureuse, had
recited, for the amusement of the lady and household, the
celebrated lay of the Count of Gleichen, who, already married in
his own country, laid himself under so many obligations in the
East to a Saracen princess, through whose means he achieved his
freedom, that he married her also. The Pope and his conclave were
pleased to approve of the double wedlock, in a case so
extraordinary; and the good Count of Gleichen shared his nuptial
bed between two wives of equal rank, and now sleeps between them
under the same monument. The commentaries of the inmates of the
castle had been various and discrepant upon this legend. Father
Aldrovand considered it as altogether false, and an unworthy
calumny on the head of the church, in affirming his Holiness would
countenance such irregularity. Old Margery, with the tender-
heartedness of an ancient nurse, wept bitterly for pity during the
tale, and, never questioning either the power of the Pope or the
propriety of his decision, was pleased that a mode of extrication
was found for a complication of love distresses which seemed
almost inextricable. Dame Gillian declared it unreasonable, that,
since a woman was only allowed one husband, a man should, under
any circumstances, be permitted to have two wives; while Raoul,
glancing towards her a look of verjuice, pitied the deplorable
idiocy of the man who could be fool enough to avail himself of
such a privilege.

"Peace, all the rest of you," said the Lady Eveline; "and do you,
my dear Rose, tell me your judgment upon the Count of Gleichen and
his two wives."

Rose blushed, and replied, "She was not much accustomed to think
of such matters; but that, in her apprehension, the wife who could
be contented with but one half of her husband's affections, had
never deserved to engage the slightest share of them."

"Thou art partly right, Rose," said Eveline; "and methinks the
European lady, when she found herself outshone by the young and
beautiful foreign princess, would have best consulted her own
dignity in resigning the place, and giving the Holy Father no more
trouble than in annulling the marriage, as has been done in cases
of more frequent occurrence."

This she said with an air of indifference and even gaiety, which
intimated to her faithful attendant with how little effort she
herself could have made such a sacrifice, and served to indicate
the state of her affections towards the Constable. But there was
another than the Constable on whom her thoughts turned more
frequently, though involuntarily, than perhaps in prudence they
should have done.

The recollections of Damian de Lacy had not been erased from
Eveline's mind. They were, indeed, renewed by hearing his name so
often mentioned, and by knowing that he was almost constantly in
the neighbourhood, with his whole attention fixed upon her
convenience, interest, and safety; whilst, on the other hand, so
far from waiting on her in person, he never even attempted, by a
direct communication with herself, to consult her pleasure, even
upon what most concerned her.

The messages conveyed by Father Aldrovand, or by Rose, to Amelot,
Damian's page, while they gave an air of formality to their
intercourse, which Eveline thought unnecessary, and even unkind,
yet served to fix her attention upon the connection between them,
and to keep it ever present to her memory. The remark by which
Rose had vindicated the distance observed by her youthful
guardian, sometimes arose to her recollection; and while her soul
repelled with scorn the suspicion, that, in any case, his
presence, whether at intervals or constantly, could be prejudicial
to his uncle's interest, she conjured up various arguments for
giving him a frequent place in her memory.--Was it not her duty to
think of Damian often and kindly, as the Constable's nearest, best
beloved, and most trusted relative?--Was he not her former
deliverer and her present guardian?--And might he not be
considered as an instrument specially employed by her divine
patroness, in rendering effectual the protection with which she
had graced her in more than one emergency?

Eveline's mind mutinied against the restrictions which were laid
on their intercourse, as against something which inferred
suspicion and degradation, like the compelled seclusion to which
she had heard the Paynim infidels of the East subjected their
females. Why should she see her guardian only in the benefits
which he conferred upon her, and the cares he took for her safety,
and hear his sentiments only by the mouth of others, as if one of
them had been infected with the plague, or some other fatal or
infectious disorder, which might render their meeting dangerous to
the other?--And if they did meet occasionally, what else could be
the consequence, save that the care of a brother towards a sister
--of a trusty and kind guardian to the betrothed bride of his near
relative and honoured patron, might render the melancholy
seclusion of the Garde Doloureuse more easy to be endured by one
so young in years, and, though dejected by present circumstances,
naturally so gay in temper?

Yet, though this train of reasoning appeared to Eveline, when
tracing it in her own mind, so conclusive, that she several times
resolved to communicate her view of the case to Rose Flammock, it
so chanced that, whenever she looked on the calm steady blue eye
of the Flemish maiden, and remembered that her unblemished faith
was mixed with a sincerity and plain dealing proof against every
consideration, she feared lest she might be subjected in the
opinion of her attendant to suspicions from which her own mind
freed her; and her proud Norman spirit revolted at the idea of
being obliged to justify herself to another, when she stood self-
acquitted to her own mind. "Let things be as they are," she said;
"and let us endure all the weariness of a life which might be so
easily rendered more cheerful, rather than that this zealous but
punctilious friend should, in the strictness and nicety of her
feelings on my account, conceive me capable of encouraging an
intercourse which could lead to a less worthy thought of me in the
mind of the most scrupulous of man--or of womankind." But even
this vacillation of opinion and resolution tended to bring the
image of the handsome young Damian more frequently before the Lady
Eveline's fancy, than perhaps his uncle, had he known it, would
altogether have approved of. In such reflections, however, she
never indulged long, ere a sense of the singular destiny which had
hitherto attended her, led her back into the more melancholy
contemplations from which the buoyancy of her youthful fancy had
for a short time emancipated her.

Sir Walter Scott