Blessed Mary, mother dear,
To a maiden bend thine ear,
Virgin undefiled, to thee
A wretched virgin bends the knee.
HYMN TO THE VIRGIN.
The daughter of the slaughtered Raymond had descended from the
elevated station whence she had beheld the field of battle, in the
agony of grief natural to a child whose eyes have beheld the death
of an honoured and beloved father. But her station, and the
principles of chivalry in which she had been trained up, did not
permit any prolonged or needless indulgence of inactive sorrow. In
raising the young and beautiful of the female sex to the rank of
princesses, or rather goddesses, the spirit of that singular
system exacted from them, in requital, a tone of character, and a
line of conduct, superior and something contradictory to that of
natural or merely human feeling. Its heroines frequently resembled
portraits shown by an artificial light--strong and luminous, and
which placed in high relief the objects on which it was turned;
but having still something of adventitious splendour, which,
compared with that of the natural day, seemed glaring and
It was not permitted to the orphan of the Garde Doloureuse, the
daughter of a line of heroes, whose stem was to be found in the
race of Thor, Balder, Odin, and other deified warriors of the
North, whose beauty was the theme of a hundred minstrels, and her
eyes the leading star of half the chivalry of the warlike marches
of Wales, to mourn her sire with the ineffectual tears of a
village maiden. Young as she was, and horrible as was the incident
which she had but that instant witnessed, it was not altogether so
appalling to her as to a maiden whose eye had not been accustomed
to the rough, and often fatal sports of chivalry, and whose
residence had not been among scenes and men where war and death
had been the unceasing theme of every tongue, whose imagination
had not been familiarized with wild and bloody events, or,
finally, who had not been trained up to consider an honourable
"death under shield," as that of a field of battle was termed, as
a more desirable termination to the life of a warrior, than that
lingering and unhonoured fate which comes slowly on, to conclude
the listless and helpless inactivity of prolonged old age.
Eveline, while she wept for her father, felt her bosom glow when
she recollected that he died in the blaze of his fame, and amidst
heaps of his slaughtered enemies; and when she thought of the
exigencies of her own situation, it was with the determination to
defend her own liberty, and to avenge her father's death, by every
means which Heaven had left within her power.
The aids of religion were not forgotten; and according to the
custom of the times, and the doctrines of the Roman church, she
endeavoured to propitiate the favour of Heaven by vows as well as
prayers. In a small crypt, or oratory, adjoining to the chapel,
was hung over an altar-piece, on which a lamp constantly burned, a
small picture of the Virgin Mary, revered as a household and
peculiar deity by the family of Berenger, one of whose ancestors
had brought it from the Holy Land, whither he had gone upon
pilgrimage. It was of the period of the Lower Empire, a Grecian
painting, not unlike those which in Catholic countries are often
imputed to the Evangelist Luke. The crypt in which it was placed
was accounted a shrine of uncommon sanctity--nay, supposed to have
displayed miraculous powers; and Eveline, by the daily garland of
flowers which she offered before the painting, and by the constant
prayers with which they were accompanied, had constituted herself
the peculiar votaress of Our Lady of the Garde Doloureuse, for so
the picture was named.
Now, apart from others, alone, and in secrecy, sinking in the
extremity of her sorrow before the shrine of her patroness, she
besought the protection of kindred purity for the defence of her
freedom and honour, and invoked vengeance on the wild and
treacherous chieftain who had slain her father, and was now
beleaguering her place of strength. Not only did she vow a large
donative in lands to the shrine of the protectress whose aid she
implored; but the oath passed her lips, (even though they
faltered, and though something within her remonstrated against the
vow,) that whatsoever favoured knight Our Lady of the Garde
Doloureuse might employ for her rescue, should obtain from her in
guerdon whatever boon she might honourably grant, were it that of
her virgin hand at the holy altar. Taught as she was to believe,
by the assurances of many a knight, that such a surrender was the
highest boon which Heaven could bestow, she felt as discharging a
debt of gratitude when she placed herself entirely at the disposal
of the pure and blessed patroness in whose aid she confided.
Perhaps there lurked in this devotion some earthly hope of which
she was herself scarce conscious, and which reconciled her to the
indefinite sacrifice thus freely offered. The Virgin, (this
flattering hope might insinuate,) kindest and most benevolent of
patronesses, will use compassionately the power resigned to her,
and _he_ will be the favoured champion of Maria, upon whom
her votaress would most willingly confer favour.
But if there was such a hope, as something selfish will often
mingle with our noblest and purest emotions, it arose unconscious
of Eveline herself, who, in the full assurance of implicit faith,
and fixing on the representative of her adoration, eyes in which
the most earnest supplication, the most humble confidence,
struggled with unbidden tears, was perhaps more beautiful than
when, young as she was, she was selected to bestow the prize of
chivalry in the lists of Chester. It was no wonder that, in such a
moment of high excitation, when prostrated in devotion before a
being of whose power to protect her, and to make her protection
assured by a visible sign, she doubted nothing, the Lady Eveline
conceived she saw with her own eyes the acceptance of her vow. As
she gazed on the picture with an over-strained eye, and an
imagination heated with enthusiasm, the expression seemed to alter
from the hard outline, fashioned by the Greek painter; the eyes
appeared to become animated, and to return with looks of
compassion the suppliant entreaties of the votaress, and the mouth
visibly arranged itself into a smile of inexpressible sweetness.
It even seemed to her that the head made a gentle inclination.
Overpowered by supernatural awe at appearances, of which her faith
permitted her not to question the reality, the Lady Eveline folded
her arms on her bosom, and prostrated her forehead on the
pavement, as the posture most fitting to listen to divine
But her vision went not so far; there was neither sound nor voice,
and when, after stealing her eyes all around the crypt in which
she knelt, she again raised them to the figure of Our Lady, the
features seemed to be in the form in which the limner had sketched
them, saving that, to Eveline's imagination, they still retained
an august and yet gracious expression, which she had not before
remarked upon the countenance. With awful reverence, almost
amounting to fear, yet comforted, and even elated, with the
visitation she had witnessed, the maiden repeated again and again
the orisons which she thought most grateful to the ear of her
benefactress; and rising at length, retired backwards, as from the
presence of a sovereign, until she attained the outer chapel.
Here one or two females still knelt before the saints which the
walls and niches presented for adoration; but the rest of the
terrified suppliants, too anxious to prolong their devotions, had
dispersed through the castle to learn tidings of their friends,
and to obtain some refreshment, or at least some place of repose
for themselves and their families.
Bowing her head, and muttering an ave to each saint as she passed
his image, (for impending danger makes men observant of the rites
of devotion,) the Lady Eveline had almost reached the door of the
chapel, when a man-at-arms, as he seemed, entered hastily; and,
with a louder voice than suited the holy place, unless when need
was most urgent, demanded the Lady Eveline. Impressed with the
feelings of veneration which the late scene had produced, she was
about to rebuke his military rudeness, when he spoke again, and in
anxious haste, "Daughter, we are betrayed!" and though the form,
and the coat-of-mail which covered it, were those of a soldier,
the voice was that of Father Aldrovand, who, eager and anxious at
the same time, disengaged himself from the mail hood, and showed
"Father," she said, "what means this? Have you forgotten the
confidence in Heaven which you are wont to recommend, that you
bear other arms than your order assigns to you?"
"It may come to that ere long," said Father Aldrovand; "for I was
a soldier ere I was a monk. But now I have donn'd this harness to
discover treachery, not to resist force. Ah! my beloved daughter--
we are dreadfully beset--foemen without--traitors within!--The
false Fleming, Wilkin Flammock, is treating for the surrender of
"Who dares say so?" said a veiled female, who had been kneeling
unnoticed in a sequestered corner of the chapel, but who now
started up and came boldly betwixt Lady Eveline and the monk.
"Go hence, thou saucy minion," said the monk, surprised at this
bold interruption; "this concerns not thee."
"But it _doth_ concern me," said the damsel, throwing back
her veil, and discovering the juvenile countenance of Rose, the
daughter of Wilkin Flammock, her eyes sparkling, and her cheeks
blushing with anger, the vehemence of which made a singular
contrast with the very fair complexion, and almost infantine
features of the speaker, whose whole form and figure was that of a
girl who has scarce emerged from childhood, and indeed whose
general manners were as gentle and bashful as they now seemed
bold, impassioned, and undaunted.--"Doth it not concern me," she
said, "that my father's honest name should be tainted with
treason? Doth it not concern the stream when the fountain is
troubled? It _doth_ concern me, and I will know the author of
"Damsel," said Eveline, "restrain thy useless passion; the good
father, though he cannot intentionally calumniate thy father,
speaks, it may be, from false report."
"As I am an unworthy priest," said the father, "I speak from the
report of my own ears. Upon the oath of my order, myself heard
this Wilkin Flammock chaffering with the Welshman for the
surrender of the Garde Doloureuse. By help of this hauberk and
mail hood, I gained admittance to a conference where he thought
there were no English ears. They spoke Flemish too, but I knew the
jargon of old."
"The Flemish," said the angry maiden, whose headstrong passion led
her to speak first in answer to the last insult offered, "is no
jargon like your piebald English, half Norman, half Saxon, but a
noble Gothic tongue, spoken by the brave warriors who fought
against the Roman Kaisars, when Britain bent the neck to them--and
as for this he has said of Wilkin Flammock," she continued,
collecting her ideas into more order as she went on, "believe it
not, my dearest lady; but, as you value the honour of your own
noble father, confide, as in the Evangelists, in the honesty of
mine!" This she spoke with an imploring tone of voice, mingled
with sobs, as if her heart had been breaking.
Eveline endeavoured to soothe her attendant. "Rose," she said, "in
this evil time suspicions will light on the best men, and
misunderstandings will arise among the best friends.--Let us hear
the good father state what he hath to charge upon your parent.
Fear not but that Wilkin shall be heard in his defence. Thou wert
wont to be quiet and reasonable."
"I am neither quiet nor reasonable on this matter," said Rose,
with redoubled indignation; "and it is ill of you, lady, to listen
to the falsehoods of that reverend mummer, who is neither true
priest nor true soldier. But I will fetch one who shall confront
him either in casque or cowl." So saying, she went hastily out of
the chapel, while the monk, after some pedantic circumlocution,
acquainted the Lady Eveline with what he had overheard betwixt
Jorworth and Wilkin; and proposed to her to draw together the few
English who were in the castle, and take possession of the
innermost square tower; a keep which, as usual in Gothic
fortresses of the Norman period, was situated so as to make
considerable defence, even after the exterior works of the castle,
which it commanded, were in the hand of the enemy.
"Father," said Eveline, still confident in the vision she had
lately witnessed, "this were good counsel in extremity; but
otherwise, it were to create the very evil we fear, by seating our
garrison at odds amongst themselves. I have a strong, and not
unwarranted confidence, good father, in our blessed Lady of the
Garde Doloureuse, that we shall attain at once vengeance on our
barbarous enemies, and escape from our present jeopardy; and I
call you to witness the vow I have made, that to him whom Our Lady
should employ to work us succour, I will refuse nothing, were it
my father's inheritance, or the hand of his daughter."
"_Ave Maria! Ave Regina Coeli!_" said the priest; "on a rock
more sure you could not have founded your trust.--But, daughter,"
he continued after the proper ejaculation had been made, "have you
never heard, even by a hint, that there was a treaty for your hand
betwixt our much honoured lord, of whom we are cruelly bereft,
(may God assoilzie his soul!) and the great house of Lacy?"
"Something I may have heard," said Eveline, dropping her eyes,
while a slight tinge suffused her cheek; "but I refer me to the
disposal of our Lady of Succour and Consolation."
As she spoke, Rose entered the chapel with the same vivacity she
had shown in leaving it, leading by the hand her father, whose
sluggish though firm step, vacant countenance, and heavy
demeanour, formed the strongest contrast to the rapidity of her
motions, and the anxious animation of her address. Her task of
dragging him forward might have reminded the spectator of some of
those ancient monuments, on which a small cherub, singularly
inadequate to the task, is often represented as hoisting upward
towards the empyrean the fleshy bulk of some ponderous tenant of
the tomb, whose disproportioned weight bids fair to render
ineffectual the benevolent and spirited exertions of its
fluttering guide and assistant.
"Roschen--my child--what grieves thee?" said the Netherlander, as
he yielded to his daughter's violence with a smile, which, being
on the countenance of a father, had more of expression and feeling
than those which seemed to have made their constant dwelling upon
"Here stands my father," said the impatient maiden; "impeach him
with treason, who can or dare! There stands Wilkin Flammock, son
of Dieterick, the Cramer of Antwerp,--let those accuse him to his
face who slandered him behind his back!"
"Speak, Father Aldrovand," said the Lady Eveline; "we are young in
our lordship, and, alas! the duty hath descended upon us in an
evil hour; yet we will, so may God and Our Lady help us, hear and
judge of your accusation to the utmost of our power."
"This Wilkin Flammock," said the monk, "however bold he hath made
himself in villany, dares not deny that I heard him with my own
ears treat for the surrender of the castle."
"Strike him, father!" said the indignant Rose,--"strike the
disguised mummer! The steel hauberk may be struck, though not the
monk's frock--strike him, or tell him that he lies foully!"
"Peace, Roschen, thou art mad," said her father, angrily; "the
monk hath more truth than sense about him, and I would his ears
had been farther off when he thrust them into what concerned him
Rose's countenance fell when she heard her father bluntly avow the
treasonable communication of which she had thought him incapable--
she dropt the hand by which she had dragged him into the chapel,
and stared on the Lady Eveline, with eyes which seemed starting
from their sockets, and a countenance from which the blood, with
which it was so lately highly coloured, had retreated to garrison
Eveline looked upon the culprit with a countenance in which
sweetness and dignity were mingled with sorrow. "Wilkin," she
said, "I could not have believed this. What! on the very day of
thy confiding benefactor's death, canst thou have been tampering
with his murderers, to deliver up the castle, and betray thy
trust!--But I will not upbraid thee--I deprive thee of the trust
reposed in so unworthy a person, and appoint thee to be kept in
ward in the western tower, till God send us relief; when, it may
be, thy daughter's merits shall atone for thy offences, and save
farther punishment.--See that our commands be presently obeyed."
"Yes--yes--yes!" exclaimed Rose, hurrying one word on the other as
fast and vehemently as she could articulate--"Let us go--let us go
to the darkest dungeon--darkness befits us better than light."
The monk, on the other hand, perceiving that the Fleming made no
motion to obey the mandate of arrest, came forward, in a manner
more suiting his ancient profession, and present disguise, than
his spiritual character; and with the words, "I attach thee,
Wilkin Flammock, of acknowledged treason to your liege lady,"
would have laid hand upon him, had not the Fleming stepped back
and warned him off, with a menacing and determined gesture, while
he said,--"Ye are mad!--all of you English are mad when the moon
is full, and my silly girl hath caught the malady.--Lady, your
honoured father gave me a charge, which I propose to execute to
the best for all parties, and you cannot, being a minor, deprive
me of it at your idle pleasure.--Father Aldrovand, a monk makes no
lawful arrests.--Daughter Roschen, hold your peace and dry your
eyes--you are a fool."
"I am, I am," said Rose, drying her eyes and regaining her
elasticity of manner--"I am indeed a fool, and worse than a fool,
for a moment to doubt my father's probity.--Confide in him,
dearest lady; he is wise though he is grave, and kind though he is
plain and homely in his speech. Should he prove false he will fare
the worse! for I will plunge myself from the pinnacle of the
Warder's Tower to the bottom of the moat, and he shall lose his
own daughter for betraying his master's."
"This is all frenzy," said the monk--"Who trusts avowed traitors?
--Here, Normans, English, to the rescue of your liege lady--Bows
and bills--bows and bills!"
"You may spare your throat for your next homily, good father,"
said the Netherlander, "or call in good Flemish, since you
understand it, for to no other language will those within hearing
He then approached the Lady Eveline with a real or affected air of
clumsy kindness, and something as nearly approaching to courtesy
as his manners and features could assume. He bade her good-night,
and assuring her that he would act for the best, left the chapel.
The monk was about to break forth into revilings, but Eveline,
with more prudence, checked his zeal.
"I cannot," she said, "but hope that this man's intentions are
"Now, God's blessing on you, lady, for that very word!" said Rose,
eagerly interrupting her, and kissing her hand.
"But if unhappily they are doubtful," continued Eveline, "it is
not by reproach that we can bring him to a better purpose. Good
father, give an eye to the preparations for resistance, and see
nought omitted that our means furnish for the defence of the
"Fear nothing, my dearest daughter," said Aldrovand; "there are
still some English hearts amongst us, and we will rather kill and
eat the Flemings themselves, than surrender the castle."
"That were food as dangerous to come by as bear's venison,
father," answered Rose, bitterly, still on fire with the idea that
the monk treated her nation with suspicion and contumely.
On these terms they separated--the women to indulge their fears
and sorrows in private grief, or alleviate them by private
devotion; the monk to try to discover what were the real purposes
of Wilkin Flammock, and to counteract them if possible, should
they seem to indicate treachery. His eye, however, though
sharpened by strong suspicion, saw nothing to strengthen his
fears, excepting that the Fleming had, with considerable military
skill, placed the principal posts of the castle in the charge of
his own countrymen which must make any attempt to dispossess him
of his present authority both difficult and dangerous. The monk at
length retired, summoned by the duties of the evening service, and
with the determination to be stirring with the light the next
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