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Chapter 28

Let our proud trumpet shako their castle wall,
Menacing death and ruin.
OTWAY


The evil news with which the last chapter concluded were
necessarily told to Damian de Lacy, as the person whom they
chiefly concerned; and Lady Eveline herself undertook the task of
communicating them, mingling what she said with tears, and again
interrupting those tears to suggest topics of hope and comfort,
which carried no consolation to her own bosom.

The wounded knight continued with his face turned towards her,
listening to the disastrous tidings, as one who was not otherwise
affected by them, than as they regarded her who told the story.
When she had done speaking, he continued as in a reverie, with his
eyes so intently fixed upon her, that she rose up, with the
purpose of withdrawing from looks by which she felt herself
embarrassed. He hastened to speak, that he might prevent her
departure. "All that you have said, fair lady," he replied, "had
been enough, if told by another, to have broken my heart; for it
tells me that the power and honour of my house, so solemnly
committed to my charge, have been blasted in my misfortunes. But
when I look upon you, and hear your voice, I forget every thing,
saving that you have been rescued, and are here in honour and
safety. Let me therefore pray of your goodness that I may be
removed from the castle which holds you, and sent elsewhere. I am
in no shape worthy of your farther care, since I have no longer
the swords of others at my disposal, and am totally unable for the
present to draw my own."

"And if you are generous enough to think of me in your own
misfortunes, noble knight," answered Eveline, "can you suppose
that I forget wherefore, and in whose rescue, these wounds were
incurred? No, Damian, speak not of removal--while there is a
turret of the Garde Doloureuse standing, within that turret shall
you find shelter and protection. Such, I am well assured, would be
the pleasure of your uncle, were he here in person."

It seemed as if a sudden pang of his wound had seized upon Damian;
for, repeating the words "My. uncle!" he writhed himself round,
and averted his face from Eveline; then again composing himself,
replied, "Alas! knew my uncle how ill I have obeyed his precepts,
instead of sheltering me within this house, he would command me to
be flung from the battlements!"

"Fear not his displeasure," said Eveline, again preparing to
withdraw; "but endeavour, by the composure of your spirit, to aid
the healing of your wounds; when, I doubt not, you will be able
again to establish good order in the Constable's jurisdiction,
long before his return."

She coloured as she pronounced the last words, and hastily left
the apartment. When she was in her own chamber, she dismissed her
other attendants and retained Rose. "What dost thou think of these
things, my wise maiden and monitress?" said she.

"I would," replied Rose, "either that this young knight had never
entered this castle--or that, being here, he could presently leave
it--or, that he could honourably remain here for ever."

"What dost thou mean by remaining here for ever?" said Eveline
sharply and hastily. "Let me answer that question with another--
How long has the Constable of Chester been absent from England?"

"Three years come Saint Clement's day," said Eveline; "and what of
that?"

"Nay, nothing; but----"

"But what?--I command you to speak out."

"A few weeks will place your hand at your own disposal."

"And think you, Rose," said Eveline, rising with dignity, "that
there are no bonds save those which are drawn by the scribe's
pen?--We know little of the Constable's adventures; but we know
enough to show that his towering hopes have fallen, and his sword
and courage proved too weak to change the fortunes of the Sultan
Saladin. Suppose him returning some brief time hence, as we have
seen so many crusaders regain their homes, poor and broken in
health--suppose that he finds his lands laid waste, and his
followers dispersed, by the consequence of their late misfortunes,
how would it sound should he also find that his betrothed bride
had wedded and endowed with her substance the nephew whom he most
trusted?--Dost thou think such an engagement is like a Lombard's
mortgage, which must be redeemed on the very day, else forfeiture
is sure to be awarded?"

"I cannot tell, madam," replied Rose; "but they that keep their
covenant to the letter, are, in my country, held bound to no
more."

"That is a Flemish fashion, Rose," said her mistress; "but the
honour of a Norman is not satisfied with an observance so limited.
What! wouldst thou have my honour, my affections, my duty, all
that is most valuable to a woman, depend on the same progress of
the kalendar which an usurer watches for the purpose of seizing on
a forfeited pledge?--Am I such a mere commodity, that I must
belong to one man if he claims me before Michaelmas, to another if
he comes afterwards?--No, Rose; I did not thus interpret my
engagement, sanctioned as it was by the special providence of Our
Lady of the Garde Doloureuse."

"It is a feeling worthy of you, my dearest lady," answered the
attendant; "yet you are so young--so beset with perils--so much
exposed to calumny--that I, at least, looking forward to the time
when you may have a legal companion and protector, see it as an
extrication from much doubt and danger." "Do not think of it,
Rose," answered Eveline; "do not liken your mistress to those
provident dames, who, while one husband yet lives, though in old
age or weak health, are prudently engaged in plotting for
another."

"Enough, my dearest lady," said Rose;---"yet not so. Permit me one
word more. Since you are determined not to avail yourself of your
freedom, even when the fatal period of your engagement is expired,
why suffer this young man to share our solitude?--He is surely
well enough to be removed to some other place of security. Let us
resume our former sequestered mode of life, until Providence send
us some better or more certain prospects."

Eveline sighed--looked down--then looking upwards, once more had
opened her lips to express her willingness to enforce so
reasonable an arrangement, but for Damian's recent wounds, and the
distracted state of the country, when she was interrupted by the
shrill sound of trumpets, blown before the gate of the castle; and
Raoul, with anxiety on his brow, came limping to inform his lady,
that a knight, attended by a pursuivant-at-arms, in the royal
livery, with a strong guard, was in front of the castle, and
demanded admittance in the name of the King.

Eveline paused a moment ere she replied, "Not even to the King's
order shall the castle of my ancestors be opened, until we are
well assured of the person by whom, and the purpose for which, it
is demanded. We will ourself to the gate, and learn the meaning of
this summons--My veil, Rose; and call my women.--Again that
trumpet sounds! Alas! it rings like a signal to death and ruin."

The prophetic apprehensions of Eveline were not false; for scarce
had she reached the door of the apartment, when she was met by the
page Amelot, in a state of such disordered apprehension as an
eleve of chivalry was scarce on any occasion permitted to display.
"Lady, noble lady," he said, hastily bending his knee to Eveline,
"save my dearest master!--You, and you alone, can save him at this
extremity."

"I!" said Eveline, in astonishment--"I save him?--And from what
danger?--God knows how willingly!"

There she stopped short, as if afraid to trust herself with
expressing what rose to her lips.

"Guy Monthermer, lady, is at the gate, with a pursuivant and the
royal banner. The hereditary enemy of the House of Lacy, thus
accompanied, comes hither for no good--the extent of the evil I
know not, but for evil he comes. My master slew his nephew at the
field of Malpas, and therefore"----He was here interrupted by
another flourish of trumpets, which rung, as if in shrill
impatience, through the vaults of the ancient fortress.

The Lady Eveline hasted to the gate, and found that the wardens,
and others who attended there, were looking on each other with
doubtful and alarmed countenances, which they turned upon her at
her arrival, as if to seek from, their mistress the comfort and
the courage which they could not communicate to each other.
Without the gate, mounted, and in complete armour, was an elderly
and stately knight, whose raised visor and beaver depressed,
showed a beard already grizzled. Beside him appeared the
pursuivant on horseback, the royal arms embroidered on his
heraldic dress of office, and all the importance of offended
consequence on his countenance, which was shaded by his barret-cap
and triple plume. They were attended by a body of about fifty
soldiers, arranged under the guidon of England.

When the Lady Eveline appeared at the barrier, the knight, after a
slight reverence, which seemed more informal courtesy than in
kindness, demanded if he saw the daughter of Raymond Berenger.
"And is it," he continued, when he had received an answer in the
affirmative, "before the castle of that approved and favoured
servant of the House of Anjou, that King Henry's trumpets have
thrice sounded, without obtaining an entrance for those who are
honoured with their Sovereign's command?"

"My condition," answered Eveline, "must excuse my caution. I am a
lone maiden, residing in a frontier fortress. I may admit no one
without inquiring his purpose, and being assured that his entrance
consists with the safety of the place, and mine own honour."

"Since you are so punctilious, lady," replied Monthermer, "know,
that in the present distracted state of the country, it is his
Grace the King's pleasure to place within your walls a body of
men-at-arms, sufficient to guard this important castle, both from
the insurgent peasants, who burn and slay, and from the Welsh,
who, it must be expected, will, according to their wont in time of
disturbance, make incursions on the frontiers. Undo your gates,
then, Lady of Berenger, and suffer his Grace's forces to enter the
castle."

"Sir Knight," answered the lady, "this castle, like every other
fortress in England, is the King's by law; but by law also I am
the keeper and defender of it; and it is the tenure by which my
ancestors held these lands. I have men enough to maintain the
Garde Doloureuse in my time, as my father, and my grandfather
before him, defended it in theirs. The King is gracious to send me
succours, but I need not the aid of hirelings; neither do I think
it safe to admit such into my castle, who may, in this lawless
time, make themselves master of it for other than its lawful
mistress."

"Lady," replied the old warrior, "his Grace is not ignorant of the
motives which produce a contumacy like this. It is not any
apprehension for the royal forces which influences you, a royal
vassal, in this refractory conduct. I might proceed upon your
refusal to proclaim you a traitor to the Crown, but the King
remembers the services of your father. Know, then, we are not
ignorant that Damian de Lacy, accused of instigating and heading
this insurrection, and of deserting his duty in the field, and
abandoning a noble comrade to the swords of the brutal peasants,
has found shelter under this roof, with little credit to your
loyalty as vassal, or your conduct as a high-born maiden. Deliver
him up to us, and I will draw off these men-at-arms, and dispense,
though I may scarce answer doing so, with the occupation of the
castle."

"Guy de Monthermer," answered Eveline, "he that throws a stain on
my name, speaks falsely and unworthily; as for Damian de Lacy, he
knows how to defend his own fame. This only let me say, that,
while he takes his abode in the castle of the betrothed of his
kinsman, she delivers him to no one, least of all to his well-
known feudal enemy--Drop the portcullis, wardens, and let it not
be raised without my special order."

The portcullis, as she spoke, fell rattling and clanging to the
ground, and Monthermer, in baffled spite, remained excluded from
the castle. "Un-worthy lady"--he began in passion, then, checking
himself, said calmly to the pursuivant, "Ye are witness that she
hath admitted that the traitor is within that castle,--ye are
witness that, lawfully summoned, this Eveline Berenger refuses to
deliver him up. Do your duty, Sir Pursuivant, as is usual in such
cases."

The pursuivant then advanced and proclaimed, in the formal and
fatal phrase befitting the occasion, that Eveline Berenger,
lawfully summoned, refusing to admit the King's forces into her
castle, and to deliver up the body of a false traitor, called
Damian de Lacy, had herself incurred the penalty of high treason,
and had involved within the same doom all who aided, abetted, or
maintained her in holding out the said castle against their
allegiance to Henry of Anjou. The trumpets, so soon as the voice
of the herald had ceased, confirmed the doom he had pronounced, by
a long and ominous peal, startling from their nests the owl and
the raven, who replied to it by their ill-boding screams.

The defenders of the castle looked on each other with blank and
dejected countenances, while Monthermer, raising aloft his lance,
exclaimed, as he turned his horse from the castle gate, "When I
next approach the Garde Doloureuse, it will be not merely to
intimate, but to execute, the mandate of my Sovereign."

As Eveline stood pensively to behold the retreat of Monthermer and
his associates, and to consider what was to be done in this
emergency, she heard one of the Flemings, in a low tone, ask an
Englishman, who stood beside him, what was the meaning of a
traitor.

"One who betrayeth a trust reposed--a betrayer," said the
interpreter. The phrase which he used recalled to Eveline's memory
her boding vision or dream. "Alas!" she said, "the vengeance of
the fiend is about to be accomplished. Widow'd wife and wedded
maid--these epithets have long been mine. Betrothed!--wo's me! it
is the key-stone of my destiny. Betrayer I am now denounced,
though, thank God, I am clear from the guilt! It only follows that
I should be betrayed, and the evil prophecy will be fulfilled to
the very letter." fir?

Sir Walter Scott