Part 3 out of 5
His scheme would have been to equip the youth fully with horse
and arms, and at some brilliant tourney see him carry all before
him, like Du Gueselin in his boyhood, and that the eclat of the
affair should reflect itself upon his sponsor. But there were
two difficulties in the way--the first that the proud young Scot
showed no intention of being beholden to any Englishman, and
secondly, that the tall, ungainly youth did not look as if he
had attained to the full strength or management of his own
limbs; and though in five or ten years' time he might be a giant
in actual warfare, he did not appear at all likely to be a match
for the highly-trained champions of the tilt-yard. Moreover, he
was not a knight as yet, and on sounding Sir Patrick it was
elicited that he was likely to deem it high treason to be dubbed
by any hand save that of his King or his father.
So the Marquis could only feel sagacious, and utter a hint or
two before the ladies which fell the more short, since he was
persuaded, by Eleanor's having been the foremost in the defence,
that she was the object of the quest; and he now and then
treated her to hints which she was slow to understand, but which
exasperated while they amused her sister.
The journey was so slow that it was not until the fourth week in
Lent that they were fairly in Lorraine. It had of course been
announced by couriers, and at Thionville a very splendid herald
reached them, covered all over with the blazonry of Jerusalem
and the Two Sicilies, to say nothing of Provence and Anjou. He
brought letters from King Rene, explaining that he and his
daughters were en route from Provence, and he therefore
designated a nunnery where he requested that the Scottish
princesses and their ladies would deign to be entertained, and a
monastery where my Lord Marquis of Suffolk and his suite would
be welcomed, and where they were requested to remain till Easter
week, by which time the King of France, the Dauphin, and
Dauphiness would be near at hand, and there could be a grand
entrance into Nanci. Of course there was nothing to be done but
to obey though the Englishmen muttered that the delay was in
order to cast the expense upon the rich abbeys, and to muster
all the resources of Lorraine and Provence to cover the poverty
of the many-titled King.
The Abbey where the gentlemen were lodged was so near Nanci that
it was easy to ride into the city and make inquiries whether any
tidings had arrived from Scotland; but nothing had come from
thence for either the princesses, Sir Patrick, or Geordie of the
Red Peel, so that the strange situation of the latter must needs
continue as long as he insisted on being beholden for nothing to
the English upstart, as he scrupled not to call Lord Suffolk,
whose new-fashioned French title was an offence in Scottish
The ladies on their side had not the relaxation of these
expeditions. The Abbey was a large and wealthy one, but
decidedly provincial. Only the Lady Abbess and one sister could
speak 'French of Paris,' the others used a dialect so nearly
German that Lady Suffolk could barely understand them, and the
other ladies, whose French was not strong, could hold no
conversation with them.
To insular minds, whether Scottish or English, every deviation
of the Gallican ritual from their own was a sore vexation. If
Lady Drummond had devotion enough not to be distracted by the variations, the young ladies certainly had not, and Jean very
decidedly giggled during some of the most solemn ceremonies,
such as the creeping to the cross--the large carved cross in the
middle of the graveyard, to which all in turn went upon their
knees on Good Friday and kissed it.
Last year, at this season, they had been shut up in their prison-
castle, and had not shared in any of these ceremonies; and
Eleanor tried to think of King Henry and Sister Esclairmonde,
and how they were throwing their hearts into the great thoughts
of the day, and she felt distressed at being infected by Jean's
suppressed laughter at the movements of the fat Abbess, and at
the extraordinary noises made by the younger nuns with clappers,
as demonstrations against Judas on the way to the Easter
She was so much shocked at herself that she wanted to confess;
but Father Romuald had gone with the male members of the party,
and the chaplain did not half understand her French, though he
gave her absolution.
Meantime all the nuns were preparing Easter eggs, whereof there
was a great exchange the next day, when the mass was as splendid
as the resources of the Abbey could furnish, and all were full
of joy and congratulation, the sense of oneness for once
Moreover, after mass, Sir Patrick and an Englishman rode over
with tidings that King Rene had sent a messenger, who was on the
Tuesday to guide them all to a glade where the King hoped to
welcome the ladies as befitted their rank and beauty, and
likewise to meet the royal travellers from Bourges, so that all
might make their entry into Nanci together.
The King himself, it was reported, did nothing but ride
backwards and forwards between Nanci and the convent where he
had halted, arranging the details of the procession, and of the
open-air feast at the rendezvous upon the way.
'I hope,' said Lady Suffolk, 'that King Rene's confections will
not be as full of rancid oil as those of the good sisters. I
know not which was more distasteful--their Lenten Fast or their
Easter Feast. We have, certes, done our penance this Lent!'
To which the rest of the ladies could not but agree, though Lady
Drummond felt it somewhat treasonable to the good nuns, their
entertainers; and both she and Eleanor recollected how
differently Esclairmonde would have felt the matter, and how
little these matters of daily fare would have concerned her.
'To-day we shall see her!' exclaimed Eleanor, springing to the
floor, as, early on a fine spring morning, the ladies in the
guest-chamber of the nunnery began to bestir themselves at the
sound of one of the many convent bells. 'They are at Toul, and
we shall meet this afternoon. I have not slept all night for
thinking of it.'
'No, and hardly let me sleep,' said Jean, slowly sitting up in
bed. 'Thou hast waked me so often that I shall be pale and
heavy-eyed for the pageant.'
'Little fear of that, my bonnie bell,' said old Christie,
'Besides,' said Eleanor, 'nobody will fash themselves to look at
us in the midst of the pageant. There will be the King to see,
and the bride. Oh, I wish we were not to ride in it, and could
see it instead at our ease.'
'Thou wast never meant for a princess,' said Jean; 'Christie,
Annis, for pity's sake, see till her. She is busking up her
hair just as was gude enough for the old nuns, but no for kings
'I hate the horned cap, in which I feel like a cow, and
methought Meg wad feel the snood a sight for sair een,' said
'Meg indeed! Thou must frame thy tongue to Madame la Dauphine.'
'Before the lave of them, but not with sweet Meg herself.'
'Our sister behoves to have learnt what suits her station, and
winna bide sic ways from an ower forward sister. Dinna put us
all to shame, and make the folk trow we came from some selvage
land,' said Jean, tossing her head.
'Hast ever seen me carry myself unworthy of King James's
daughter?' proudly demanded Eleanor.
'Nay, now, bairnies, fash not yoursells that gate,' interfered
old Christie; 'nae fear but Lady Elleen will be douce and canny
enow when folks are there to see. She kens what fits a king's
Jean made a little hesitation over kirtles and hoods, but
fortunately ladies, however royal, had no objection to wearing
the same robes twice, and both she and her sister were objects
to delight the eyes of the crowding and admiring nuns when they
mounted their palfreys in the quadrangle, and, attended by the
Lady of Glenuskie and her daughter, rode forth with the
Marchioness of Suffolk at the great gateway to join the
cavalcade, headed by Suffolk and Sir Patrick.
After about two miles' riding on a woodland road they became
aware of fitful strains of music and a continuous hum of voices,
heard through the trees and presently a really beautiful scene
opened before them, as the trees seemed to retreat, so as to
unfold a wide level space, further enclosed by brilliant
tapestry hangings, their scarlet, blue, gold and silver hues
glittering in an April sun, and the fastenings concealed by
garlands of spring flowers. An awning of rich gold embroidery
on a green ground was spread so as to shelter a cloth glittering
with plate and bestrewn with flowers; horses, in all varieties
of ornamental housings, were being led about; there was a
semicircle of musicians in the rear; and, as soon as the guests
came in sight, there came forward, doffing his embroidered and
jewelled cap, a gentleman of middle stature and of exceeding
grace and courtesy, whose demeanour, no less than the attendance
around him, left no doubt that this was no other than Rene, Duke
of Anjou and of Lorraine, Count of Provence, and King of the Two
Sicilies and of Jerusalem.
'Welcome,' he exclaimed in French, 'welcome, fair and royal
maidens; welcome, noble lord, the representative of our dear
brother and son of England. Deign on your journey to partake of
the humble and rural fare of the poor minstrel shepherd.'
Wherewith the music broke out in strains of welcome from the
grove, with voices betweenwhiles Rene himself assisted each
princess to dismount, and respectfully kissed her on the cheek
as she stood on the ground. Then, taking a hand of each, he led
them to a great chestnut tree, the shade of whose branches was
assisted by hangings of blue embroidered with white, beneath
which cushions, mantles, and seats were spread, and a bevy of
ladies in bright garments stood. From these came forward two
beautiful young girls, with fair complexions and flowing golden
hair, scarcely confined by the bands whence transparent veils
descended. King Rene presented them as his two daughters,
Yolande and Margaret, to the two Scottish maidens, and there
were kindly as well as courtly embraces on either side. The
Lady of Glenuskie, as a king's grand-daughter, with Annis and
Lady Suffolk, had likewise been led up to take their places; the
four royal maidens were seated together. Yolande, the most
regularly beautiful, but with an anxious look on her face,
talked to Eleanor of her journey; Margaret, who had one of those
very simple, innocent-looking child-faces that sometimes form
the mask of immense energy of character, was more absent and
inattentive to her duties as hostess; moreover, she and Jean did
not understand one another's language so well as did the other
two. Delicate little cakes, and tall Venice glasses, spirally
ornamented, and containing light wines, were served to them on
the knee by a tall, large, fair-haired youth, who was named to
them as the Duke Sigismund, of Alsace and the Tyrol.
Jean had time to look about, and heartily wish that her beautiful flaxen hair was loose, and not encumbered with the rolled
headgear with two projecting horns, against which Elleen had
rebelled; since York and even London were evidently behind the
fashion. Margaret's hair was bound with a broad band of daisies,
and Yolande's with violets, both in allusion to their names,
Yolande being the French corruption of Violante, her Provencal
name, in allusion to the golden violet. Jean thought of the
Scottish thistle, and studied the dresses, tight-fitting 'cotte
hardis' of bright, deep, soft, rose colour, edged with white fur,
and white skirts embroidered with their appropriate flowers.
She wondered how soon this could be imitated, casting a few
glances at Duke Sigismund, who stood waiting, as if desirous of
attracting Yolande's attention. Eleanor, on the other hand,
even while answering Yolande, had a feeling as if she had
arrived at the completion of the very vision which she had
imagined on the dreary tower of Dunbar. Here was the warm
spring sun, shining on a scene of unequalled beauty and
brilliancy, set in the spring foliage and blossom, whence, as if
to rival the human performers, gushes of nightingales' song came
in every interval. Hearing Eleanor's eager question whether
that were the nightingale whose liquid trillings she heard, King
Rene realised that the Scottish maidens knew not the note, and
signed to the minstrels to cease for a time, then came and sat
on a cushion beside the young lady, and enjoyed her admiration.
'Ah!' she said, 'that is the king of the minstrel birds.'
He smiled. 'The royal lady then has her orders and ranks for the birds.'
'Oh yes. If the royal eagle is the king, and the falcon is the
true knight, the nightingale and mavis, merle and lark, are the
minstrels. And the lovely seagull, oh, how call you it?--with
the long white floating wings rising and falling, is the graceful
'Guifette,' Rene gave the word, 'or in Provence, Rondinel della
mar--hirondelle de la mer!'
'Swallow! Ah, the pilgrim birds, who visit the Holy Land.'
'Lady, you should be of our court of the troubadours,' said Rene;
'your words should be a poem.'
He was called away at the moment, and craved her licence so
politely that the chivalrous minstrel king seemed to Elleen all
she had dreamt of. The whole was perfect, nothing wanting save
that for which her heart was all the time beating high, the
presence of her beloved sister Margaret. It was as if a scene
out of a romance of fairyland had suddenly taken reality, and
she more than once closed her eyes and squeezed her hands to try
whether she was awake.
A fanfaron of trumpets came on the wind, and all were on the
alert, while Eleanor's heart throbbed so that she could hardly
stand, and caught at Margaret's arm, as she murmured with a gasp,
'My sister! My sister!'
'Ah! you are happy to meet once more,' said Margaret. 'The
saints only know whether Yolande and I shall ever see one
another's faces again when once I am carried away to your dreary
'England is not mine, lady,' said Eleanor, rather sharply.
'We reckon the English as our bitterest foes.'
'You have come with an Englishman though,' said Margaret, 'whom
I am to take for my husband,' and she laughed a gay innocent
laugh. A grizzled old knight, whom I am not like to mistake for
my true spouse. Have you seen him? What like is he?'
'The gentlest and sweetest of kings,' returned Eleanor; 'as fond
of all that is good and fair and holy as is your own royal
Margaret coughed a little. 'My husband should be a gallant
warlike knight,' she said, 'such as was this king's father.'
'Oh, see! cried Eleanor. 'I saw the glitter of the spears
through the trees. There's another blast of the trumpets! Oh!
oh! it is a gallant sight! If only Jamie, my little brother,
could see it! It stirs one's blood.'
'Ah yes, Elleen,' cried Jean. 'This is something to have come
'And Margaret, sweet Madge,' repeated Eleanor to herself, in her
native Scotch, while King Rene's trumpets, harps, and hautbois
burst forth with an answering peal, so exciting her that her
yellow-brown eyes sparkled and the colour rose in her cheeks,
giving her a strange beauty full of eager spirit. Duke
Sigismund turned and gazed at her in surprise, and an old herald
who was waiting near observed, 'Is that the daughter of the
captive King of Scotland? She has his very countenance and
The trumpeters and other attendants, bearing the blue-lilied
banner of France, appeared among the trees, and dividing, formed
a lane for the advance of the royal personages. King Rene went
forward to meet them, foremost, so as to be ready to hold the
stirrup for his sister the Queen of France. Duke Sigismund
seemed about to give his hand to the Infanta Violante, as the
Provencaux called Yolande, but she was beforehand with him,
linking her arm into Jean's, while Margaret took Eleanor's, and
said in her ear, 'The great awkward German! He is come here to
pay his court to Yolande, but she will none of him. She has
Eleanor hardly attended, for her whole soul was bent on the
party arriving. King Charles, riding on a handsome bay horse,
closely followed by a conveyance such as was called in England
a whirlicote, from which the Queen was handed out by her brother,
and then, on a sorrel palfrey, in a blue gold-embroidered
riding-suit--could that be Margaret of Scotland? The long
reddish-yellow hair and the tall figure had a familiar look.
King Rene was telling her something as he helped her to alight,
and with one spring, regardless of all, and of all ceremony, she
sprang forward. 'My wee Jeanie! My Elleen! My titties! Mine
ain wee things,' she cried in her native tongue, as she embraced
them by turns, as if she would have devoured them, with a gush
Though these were times of great state and ceremony, yet they
were also very demonstrative times, when tears and embracings
were expected of near kindred; and, indeed, the King and Queen
were equally occupied with their brother and nieces; but presently Eleanor heard a low voice observe, with a sort of sarcastic
twang, 'If Madame has sufficiently satiated her tenderness,
perhaps she will remember the due of others.' Margaret started
as if stung, and Eleanor, looking up, beheld a face, young but
sharp, and with a keen, hard, set look in the narrow eyes,
contracted brow, and thin lips, that made her feel as though the
serpent had found his way into her paradise. Hastily turning,
Margaret presented her sisters to her husband, who bowed, and
kissed each with those strange thin lips, that again made
Eleanor shudder, perhaps because of his compliment, 'We are
graced by these ladies, in whom we have another Madame la
Dauphine, as well as an errant beauty.'
Jean appropriated the last words, but Elleen felt sure that the
earlier ones were ironical, both to her and to the Dauphiness,
on whose cheeks they brought a flush. The two kings, however,
turned to receive the sisters, and nothing could be kinder than
the tone of King Charles and Queen Marie towards the sisters of
their good daughter, as they termed the Dauphiness, who on her
side was welcomed by Rene as the sweet niece, sharer of his
tastes, who brought minstrelsy and poetry in her train.
'Trust her for that, my fair uncle,' said her husband in a cold,
All the royal personages sat down on the cushions spread on the
grass to the 'rural fare,' as King Rene called it, which he had
elaborately prepared for them, while the music sounded from the
trees in welcome.
All was, as the kind prince announced, without ceremony, and he
placed Lord Suffolk, as the representative of Henry VI., next to
the young Infanta Margaret, and contrived that the Dauphiness
should sit between her two sisters, whose hands she clasped from
time to time within her own in an ecstasy of delight, while
inquiries came from time to time, low breathed in her native
tongue, for wee Mary and Jamie and baby Annaple. 'The very
sound of your tongues is music to my lugs,' she said. 'And how
much mair when ye speak mine ain bonnie Scotch, sic as I never
hear save by times when one archer calls to another. Jeanie,
you favour our mother. 'Tis gude for ye! I am blithe one of ye
is na like puir Marget!'
'Dinna say that,' cried Jean, in an access of feeling. ''Tis
hame, and it's hame to see sic a sonsie Scots face--and it minds
me of my blessed father.'
It was true that Margaret and Eleanor both were thorough
Scotswomen, and with the expressive features, the auburn
colouring, and tall figures of their father; but there was for
the rest a melancholy contrast between them, for while Elleen
had the eager, hopeful, lively healthfulness of early youth,
giving a glow to her countenance and animation to the lithe but
scarcely-formed figure, Margaret, with the same original mould,
had the pallor and puffiness of ill-health in her complexion,
and a largeness of growth more unsatisfactory than leanness, and
though her face was lighted up and her eyes sparkled with the
joy of meeting her sisters, there were lines about the brow and
round the mouth ill suited to her age, which was little over
THE MINSTREL KING'S COURT
'Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold,
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
Rain influence, and judge the prize
Of wit or arms, while both contend
To win her grace whom all commend.'--L'Allegro.
The whole of the two Courts had to be received in the capital of
Lorraine in full state under the beautiful old gateway, but as
mediaeval pageants are wearisome matters this may be passed over,
though it was exceptionally beautiful and poetic, owing to the
influence of King Rene's taste, and it perfectly dazzled the two
Scottish princesses--though, to tell the truth, they were
somewhat disappointed in the personal appearance of their
entertainers, who did not come up to their notion of royalty.
Their father had been a stately and magnificent man; their
mother a beautiful woman. Henry VI. was a tall, well-made,
handsome man, with Plantagenet fairness and regularity of
feature and a sweetness all his own; but both these kings were,
like all the house of Valois, small men with insignificant
features and sallow complexions. Rene, indeed, had a
distinction about him that compensated for want of beauty, and
Charles had a good-natured, easy, indolent look and gracious
smile that gave him an undefinable air of royalty. Rene's
daughters were both very lovely, but their beauty came from the
other side of the house, with the blood of Charles the Great,
through their mother, the heiress of Lorraine.
There was a curious contrast between the brothers-in-law,
Charles, when dismounting at the castle gate, not disguising his
weariness and relief that it was over, and Rene, eager and
anxious, desirous of making all his bewildering multitude of
guests as happy as possible, while the Dauphin Louis stood by,
half interested and amused, half mocking. He was really fond of
his uncle, though in a contemptuous superior sort of manner,
despising his religious and honourable scruples as mere
simplicity of mind.
Rene of Anjou has been hardly dealt with, as is often the case
with princes upright, religious, and chivalrous beyond the
average of their time, yet without the strength or the genius to
enforce their rights and opinions, and therefore thrust aside.
After his early unsuccessful wars his lands of Provence and
Lorraine were islands of peace, prosperity, and progress, and
withal he was an extremely able artist, musician, and poet,
striving to revive the old troubadour spirit of Provence, and
everywhere casting about him an atmosphere of refinement and
The hall of his hotel at Nanci was a beautiful place, with all
the gorgeous grace of the fifteenth century, and here his guests
assembled for supper soon after their arrival, all being placed
as much as possible according to rank. Eleanor found herself
between a deaf old Church dignitary and Duke Sigismund, on whose
other side was Yolande, the Infanta, as the Provencals called
the daughter of Rene; while Jean found the Dauphin on one side
of her and a great French Duke on the other. Louis amused
himself with compliments and questions that sometimes nettled
her, sometimes pleased her, giving her a sense that he might
admire her beauty, but was playing on her simplicity, and trying
to make her betray the destitution of her home and her purpose
Eleanor, on the other hand, found her cavalier more simple than herself. In fact, he properly belonged to the Infanta, but she
paid no attention to him, nor did the Bishop try to speak to the
Scottish princess. Sigismund's French was very lame, and
Eleanor's not perfect, but she had a natural turn for languages,
and had, in the convent, picked up some German, which in those
days had many likenesses to her own broad Scotch. They made one
another out, between the two languages, with signs, smiles, and laughter, and whereas the subtilties along the table represented
the entire story of Sir Gawain and his Loathly Lady, she
contrived to explain the story to him, greatly to his
edification; and they went on to King Arthur, and he did his
best to narrate the German reading of Sir Parzival. The
difficulties engrossed them till the rose-water was brought in
silver bowls to wash their fingers, on which Sigismund, after
observing and imitating the two ladies, remarked that they had
no such Schwarmerci in Deutschland, and Yolande looked as if she
could well believe it, while Elleen, though ignorant of the
meaning of his word, laughed and said they had as little in
There was still an hour of daylight to come, and moon-rise would
not be far off, so that the hosts proposed to adjourn to the
garden, where fresh music awaited them.
King Rene was an ardent gardener. His love of flowers was
viewed as one of his weaknesses, only worthy of an old Abbot,
but he went his own way, and the space within the walls of his
castle at Nanci was lovely with bright spring flowers,
blossoming trees, and green walks, where, as Lady Suffolk said,
her grandfather could have mused all day and all night long, to
the sound of the nightingales.
But what the sisters valued it for was that they could ramble
away together to a stone bench under the wall, and there sit at
perfect ease together and pour out their hearts to one another.
Margaret, indeed, seemed to bask in their presence, and held
them as they leant against her as if to convince herself of
their reality, and yet she said that they knew not what they did
when they put the sea between themselves and Scotland, nor how
sick the heart could be for its bonnie hills.
'0 gin I could see a mountain top again, I feel as though I
could lay me down and die content. What garred ye come
daundering to these weary flats of France?'
'Ah, sister, Scotland is not what you mind it when our blessed
And they told her how their lives had been spent in being
hurried from one prison-castle to another.
'Prison-castles be not wanting here,' replied Margaret with a
sigh. Then, as Elleen held up a hand in delight at the thrill
of a neighbouring nightingale, she cried, 'What is yon sing-song,
seesaw, gurgling bird to our own bonnie laverock, soaring away
to the sky, without making such a wark of tuning his pipes, and
never thinking himself too dainty and tender for a wholesome
frost or two! So Jamie sent you off to seek for husbands here,
did he? Couldna ye put up with a leal Scot, like Glenuskie
'There were too many of them,' said Jean.
'And not ower leal either,' said Eleanor.
'Lealty is a rare plant ony gate,' sighed Margaret, 'and where
sae little is recked of our Scots royalty, mayhap ye'll find
that tocherless lasses be less sought for than at hame. Didna
I see thee, Elleen, clavering with that muckle Archduke that
nane can talk with?'
'Ay,' said Eleanor.
'He is come here a-courting Madame Yolande, with his father's
goodwill, for Alsace and Tyrol be his, mountains that might be
in our ain Hielands, they tell me.'
'Methougnt,' said Eleanor, 'she scunnered from him, as Jeanie
does at--shall I say whom?'
'And reason gude,' said Margaret. 'She has a joe of her ain,
Count Ferry de Vaudemont, that is the heir male of the line, and
a gallant laddie. At the great joust the morn methinks ye'll
see what may well be sung by minstrels, and can scarce fail to
touch the heart of a true troubadour, as is my good uncle Rene.'
Margaret became quite animated, and her sisters pressed her to
tell them if she knew of any secret; but she playfully shook her
head, and said that if she did know she would not mar the
romaunt that was to be played out before them.
'Nay,' said Eleanor, 'we have a romaunt of our own. May I tell,
'Who recks?' replied Jean, with a little toss of her head.
Thus Eleanor proceeded to tell her sister what--since the
adventure of the goose--had gone far beyond a guess as to the
tall, red-haired young man-at-arms who had ridden close behind
'Douglas, Douglas, tender and true,' exclaimed Margaret. 'He
loves you so as to follow for weeks, nay, months, in this guise
without word or look. Oh, Jeanie, Jeanie, happy lassie, did ye
but ken it! Nay, put not on that scornful mou'. It sorts you
not weel, my bairn. He is of degree befitting a Stewart, and
even were he not, oh, sisters, sisters, better to wed with a
leal loving soul in ane high peel-tower than to bear a broken
heart to a throne!' and she fell into a convulsive fit of choked
and bitter weeping, which terrified her sisters.
At the sound of a lute, apparently being brought nearer,
accompanied with footsteps, she hastily recovered herself, and
rose to her feet, while a smile broke out over her face, as the
musician, a slender, graceful figure, appeared on the path in
'Answering the nightingales, Maitre Alain?' she said.
'This is the court of nightingales, Madame,' he replied. 'It
is presumption to endeavour to rival them even though the heart
be torn like that of Philomel.' Wherewith he touched his lute,
and began to sing from his famous idyll--
'Ainsi mon coeur se guermentait
De la grande douleur qu'il portait,
En ce plaisant lieu solitaire
Ou un doux ventelet venait,
Si seri qu'on le sentait
Lorsque la violette mieux flaire.'
Again, as Eleanor heard the sweet strains, and saw the long
shadows of the trees and the light of the rising moon, it was
like the attainment of her dreamland; and Margaret proceeded to
make known to her sisters Maitre Alain Chartier, the prince of
song, adding, 'Thou, too, wast a songster, sister Elleen, even
while almost a babe. Dost sing as of old?'
'I have brought my father's harp,' said Eleanor.
'Ah! I must hear it,' she cried with effusion. 'The harp. It
will be his voice again.'
'Madame! Madame! Madame la Dauphine. Out here! Ever reckless
of dew--ay, and of waur than dew.'
These last words were added in Scotch, as a tall, dark-cloaked
figure appeared on the scene from between the trees. Margaret
laughed, with a little annoyance in her tone, as she said, 'Ever
my shadow, good Madame, ever wearying yourself with care. Here,
sisters, here is my trusty and well-beloved Dame de Ste.
Petronelle, who takes such care of me that she dogs my footsteps
like a messan.'
'And reason gude,' replied the lady. 'Here is the muckle hall
all alight, and this King Rene, as they call him, twanging on
his lute, and but that the Seigneur Dauphin is talking to the
English Lord on some question of Gascon boundaries, we should
have him speiring for you. I saw the eye of him roaming after
you, as it was.'
'His eye seeking me!' cried Margaret, springing up from her
languid attitude with a tone like exultation in her voice, such
as evoked a low sigh from the old dame, as all began to move
towards the castle. She was the widow of a Scotch adventurer
who had won lands and honours in France; and she was now
attached to the service of the Dauphiness, not as her chief
lady--that post was held by an old French countess--but still
close enough to her to act as her guardian and monitor whenever
it was possible to deal with her.
The old lady, in great delight at meeting a compatriot, poured
out her confidences to Dame Lilias of Glenuskie. Infinitely
grieved and annoyed was she when, early as were the ordinary
hours of the Court of Nanci, it proved that the Dauphiness had
called up her sisters an hour before, and taken them across the
chace which surrounded the castle to hear mass at a convent of
It was perfectly safe, though only a tirewoman and a page
followed the Dauphiness, and only Annis attended her two
sisters, for the grounds were enclosed, and King Rene's domains
were far better ruled and more peaceful than those of the
princes who despised him. It was an exquisite spring morning,
with grass silvery with dew and enamelled with flowers, birds
singing ecstatically on every branch, squirrels here and there
racing up a trunk. Margaret was in joyous spirits, and almost
danced between her sisters. Eleanor was amazed at the luxuriant
beauty of the scene, and could not admire enough. Jean, though
at first a little cross at the early summons, could not but be
infected with their delight, and the three laughed and frolicked together with almost childish glee in the delight of their
The great, gentle-eyed, long-horned kine were being driven in at
the convent-yard to be milked by the lay-sisters; at another
entrance, peasants, beggars, and sick were congregating; the
bell from the lace-works spire rang out, and the Dauphiness led
the way to the gateway, where, at her knock on the iron-studded
door, a lay-sister looked through the wicket.
'Good sister, here are some early pilgrims to the shrine of St.
Scolastique,' she began.
'To the other gate,' said the portress hastily. Margaret's face
twinkled with fun. 'I wad fain take a turn with the
beggar crew,' she said to her sisters in Scotch; 'but it might
cause too great an outcry if I were kenned. Commend me to the
Mere St. Antoine,' she added in French, 'and tell her that the
Dauphiness would fain hear mass with her.'
The portress cast an anxious doubtful glance, but being
apparently convinced, cried out for pardon, while hastily
unlocking her door, and sending a message to the Abbess.
As they entered the cloistered quadrangle the nuns in black
procession were on their way to mass, but turned aside to
receive their visitors. Margaret knelt for a moment for the
blessing and kiss of the Abbess, then greeted the nun whom she
had mentioned, but begged for no further ceremony, and then was
led into church.
It was a brief festival mass, and was not really over before she,
with a restlessness of which her sisters began to be conscious,
began to rise and make her way out. A nun followed and
entreated her to stay and break her fast, but she would accept
nothing save a draught of milk, swallowed hastily, and with
signs of impatience as her sisters took their turn.
She walked quickly, rather as one guilty of an escapade, again
surprising her sisters, who fancied the liberty of a married
Jean even ventured to ask her why she went so fast, 'Would the
King of France be displeased?'
'He! Poor gude sire Charles! He heeds not what one does, good
or bad; no, not the murdering of his minion before his eyes,'
said Margaret, half laughing.
'Thy husband, would he be angered?' pressed on Jean.
'My husband? Oh no, it is not in the depth and greatness of is
thoughts to find fault with his poor worm,' said Margaret, a
strange look, half of exultation, half of pain, on her face.
'Ah! Jeanie, woman, none kens in sooth how great and wise my
Dauphin is, nor how far he sees beyond all around him, so that
he cannot choose but scorn them and make them his tools. When
he has the power, he will do more for this poor realm of France
than any king before him.'
'As our father would have done for Scotland,' said Eleanor.
'Then he tells thee of his plans?'
'Me!' said Margaret, with the suffering look returning. 'How
should he talk to me, the muckle uncouthie wife that I am,
kenning nought but a wheen ballads and romaunts--not even able
to give him the heir for whom he longs,' and she wrung her hands
together, 'how can I be aught but a pain and grief to him!'
'Nay, but thou lovest him?' said Jean, over simply.
'Lassie!' exclaimed Margaret hotly, 'what thinkest thou I am
made of? How should a wife not love her man, the wisest,
canniest prince in Christendom, too! Love him! I worship him,
as the trouveres say, with all my heart, and wad lay down my
life if I could win one kind blush of his eye; and yet--
and yet--such a creature am I that I am ever wittingly or
unwittingly transgressing these weary laws, and garring him
think me a fool, or others report me such,' clenching her hands
'Madame de Ste. Petronelle?' asked Jean.
'She! Oh no! She is a true loyal Lindsay, heart and soul, dour
and wearisome; but she would guard me from every foe, and most
of all, as she is ever telling me, from mine ain self, that is
my worst enemy. Only she sets about it in such guise that, for
very vexation, I am driven farther! No, it is the Countess de
Craylierre, who is forever spiting me, and striving to put
whatever I do in a cruel light, if I dinna walk after her will--
hers, as if she could rule a king's daughter!'
And Margaret stamped her foot on the ground, while a hot flush
arose in her cheeks. Her sisters, young girls as they were,
could not understand her moods, either of wild mirth, eager
delight in poetry and music, childish wilfulness and petulant
temper or deep melancholy, all coming in turn with feverish
alternation and vehemence. As the ladies approached the castle
they were met by various gentlemen, among whom was Maitre Alain
Chartier, and a bandying of compliments and witticisms began
in such rapid French that even Eleanor could not follow it; but
there was something in the ring of the Dauphiness's hard laugh
that pained her, she knew not why.
At the entrance they found the chief of the party returning from
the cathedral, where they had heard mass, not exactly in state,
'Ha! ha! good daughter,' laughed the King, 'I took thee for a
slug abed, but it is by thy errant fashion that thou hast
'I have been to mass at St Mary's,' returned Margaret, 'with my
sisters. I love the early walk across the park.'
'No wonder,' came from between the thin lips of the Dauphin, as
his keen little eye fell on Chartier. Margaret drew herself up
and vouchsafed not to reply. Jean marvelled, but Eleanor felt
with her, that she was too proud to defend herself from the
insult. Madame de Ste. Petronelle, however, stepped forward and
began: 'Madame la Dauphine loves not attendance. She made her
journey alone with Mesdames ses soeurs with no male company,
till she reached home.'
But before the first words were well out of the good lady's
mouth Louis had turned away, with an air of the most careless
indifference, to a courtier in a long gown, longer shoes, and a
jewelled girdle, who became known to the sisters as Messire
Jamet de Tillay. Eleanor felt indignant. Was he too heedless
of his wife to listen to the vindication.
Madame de Ste. Petronelle took the Lady of Glenuskie aside and
poured out her lamentations. That was ever the way, she said,
the Dauphiness would give occasion to slanderers, by her wilful
ways, and there were those who would turn all she said or did
against her, poisoning the ear of the Dauphin, little as he
'Is he an ill man to her?' asked Dame Lilias little prepossessed
by his looks.
'He! Madame, mind you an auld tale of the Eatin wi' no heart in
his body! I verily believe he and his father both were created
like that giant. No that the King is sair to live with either,
so that he can eat and drink and daff, and be let alone to take
his ease. I have seen him; and my gude man and them we kenned
have marked him this score of years; and whether his kingdom
were lost or won, whether his best friends were free or bound,
dead or alive, he recked as little as though it were a game of
chess, so that he can sit in the ingle neuk at Bourges and toy
with Madame de Beaute, shameless limmer that she is! and crack
his fists with yon viper, Jamet de Tillay, and the rest of the
crew. But he'll let you alone, and has a kindly word for them
that don't cross him--and there be those that would go through
fire and water for him. He is no that ill! But for his son, he
has a sneer and a spite such as never his father had. He is
never a one to sit still and let things gang their gate; hut he
has as little pity or compassion as his father, and if King
Charles will not stir a finger to hinder a gruesome deed,
Dauphin Louis will not spare to do it so that he can gain by it,
and I trow verily that to give pain and sting with that bitter
tongue of his is joy to him.'
'Then is there no love between him and our princess?'
'Alack, lady, there is love, but 'tis all on one side of the
house. I doubt me whether Messire le Dauphin hath it in him to
love any living creature. I longed, when I saw your maidens,
that my poor lady had been as bonnie as her sister Joanna; but
mayhap that would not have served her better. If she were as
dull as the Duchess of Brittany--who they say can scarce find a
word to give to a stranger at Nantes--she might even anger him
less than she does with her wit and her books and her verses,
sitting up half the night to read and write rondeaux, forsooth!'
'Her blessed father's own daughter!'
'That may be; but how doth it suit a wife? It might serve here,
where every one is mad after poesy, as they call it; but such
ways are in no good odour with the French dames, who never put
eye to book, pen to paper, nor foot to ground if they can help
it; and when she behoves to gang off roaming afoot, as she did
this morn, there's no garring the ill-minded carlines believe
that there's no ill purpose behind.'
'It is scarce wise.'
'Yet to hear her, 'tis such walking and wearing herself out that
keeps the life in her and alone gives her sleep. My puir bairn,
worshipping the very ground her man sets foot on, and never
getting aught but a gibe or a girn from him, and, for the very
wilfulness of her sair heart, ever putting herself farther from
Such was the piteous account that Madame de Ste. Petronelle
(otherwise Dame Elspeth Johnstone) gave, and which the Lady of
Glenuskie soon perceived to be only too true during the days
spent at Nanci. To the two young sisters the condition of things
was less evident. To Margaret their presence was such sunshine,
that they usually saw her in her highest, most flighty, and
imprudent spirits, taking at times absolute delight in shocking
her two duennas; and it was in this temper that, one hot noon
day, coming after an evening of song and music, finding Alain
Chartier asleep on a bench in the garden, she declared that she
must kiss the mouth from which such sweet strains proceeded, and
bending down, imprinted so light a kiss as not to waken him,
then turned round, her whole face rippling with silent laughter
at the amusement of Jean and Margaret of Anjou, Elleen's puzzled
gravity, and the horror and dismay of her elder ladies. But
Dame Lilias saw what she did not--a look of triumphant malice on
the face of Jamet de Tillay. Or at other times she would sit
listening, with silent tears in her eyes, to plaintive Scottish
airs on Eleanor's harp, which she declared brought back her
father's voice to her, and with it the scent of the heather, and
the very sight of Arthur's Seat or the hills of Perth. Elleen
had some sudden qualms of heart lest her sister's blitheness
should be covering wounds within; but she was too young to be
often haunted by such thoughts in the delightful surroundings in
which that Easter week was spent--the companionship of their
sister and of the two young Infantas of Anjou, as well as all
the charm of King Rene's graceful attention. Eleanor had opened
to her fresh stores of beauty, exquisite illuminations, books of
all kinds--legend, history, romance, poetry--all freely
displayed to her by her royal host, who took an elderly man's
delight in an intelligent girl; nor, perhaps, was the pleasure
lessened by the need of explaining to Archduke Sigismund, in
German ever improving, that which he could not understand.
There was a delightful freedom about the Court--not hard, rugged,
always on the defence, like that of Scotland; nor stiffly
ecclesiastical, as had been that of Henry of Windsor; but though
there was devotion every morning, there was for the rest of the
day holiday-making according to each one's taste--not hawking,
for the 'bon roi Rene' was merciful to the birds in nesting time,
for which he was grumbled and laughed at by the young nobles,
and it may be feared by Jean, who wanted to exhibit Skywing's
prowess; but there was riding at the ring, and jousting, or long
rides in the environs, minstrelsy in the gardens, and once a
graceful ballet of the King's own composition; and the evenings,
sometimes in-doors, sometimes out-of-doors, were given to song
and music. Altogether it was a land of enchantment to most,
whether gaily or poetically inclined.
Only there were certain murmurs by the rugged Scots and fierce
Gascons among the guests. George observed to David Drummond
that he felt as if this was a nest of eider-ducks, all down and
fluff. Davie responded that it was like a pasteboard town in a
mystery play, and that he longed to strike at it with his good
broadsword. The English squire who stood by, in his turn
compared it to a castle of flummery and blanc-manger. A French
captain of a full company declared that he wished he had the
plundering of it; and a fierce-looking mountaineer of the Vosges
of Alsace growled that if the harping old King of Nowhere
flouted his master, Duke Sigismund, maybe they should have a
taste of plunder.
There was actually to be a tournament on the Monday, the day
before the wedding, and a first tournament was a prodigious
event in the life of a young lady. Jean was in the utmost
excitement, and never looked at her own pretty face of roses and
lilies in the steel mirror without comparing it with those of
the two Infantas in the hope of being chosen Queen of Beauty;
but, to her great disappointment, King Rene prudently ordained
that there should be no such competition, but that the prizes
should be bestowed by his sister, the Queen of France.
The Marquess of Suffolk requested Sir Patrick to convey to young
Douglas a free offer of fitting him out for the encounter, with
armour and horse if needful, and even of conferring knighthood
on him, so that he might take his place on equal terms in the
'He would like to do it, the insolent loon!' was Geordie's grim
comment. 'Will De la Pole dare to talk of dubbing the Red
Douglas! When I bide his buffet, it shall be in another sort.
When I take knighthood, it shall be from my lawful King or my
'So I shall tell him,' replied Sir Patrick, 'and I deem you wise,
for there be tricks of French chivalry that a man needs to know
ere he can acquit himself well in the lists; and to see you fail
would scarce raise you in the eyes of your lady.'
'More like they would find too much earnest in the midst of
their sham?' returned Geordie. 'You had best tell your English
Marquis, as he calls himself, that he had better not trust a
lance in a Scotsman hand, if he wouldna have all the shams that
fret me beyond my patience about their ears.'
This was not exactly what Sir Patrick told the Marquis; though
he was far from disapproving of the resolution. He kept an eye
on this strange follower, and was glad to see that there was no
evil or licence in his conduct, but that he chiefly consorted
with David and a few other young squires to whom this week, so
delightful to the ladies, was inexpressibly wearisome.
Tournaments have been described, so far as the nineteenth
century can describe them, so often that no one wishes to hear
more of their details. These had nearly reached their
culmination in the middle of the fifteenth century. Defensive
armour had become highly ornamental and very cumbrous, so that
it was scarcely possible for the champions to do one another
much harm, except that a fall under such a weight was dangerous.
Thus it was only an exercise of skill in arms and horsemanship
on which the ladies gazed as they sat in the gallery around
Queen Marie, the five young princesses together forming, as the
minstrels declared, a perfect wreath of loveliness. The
Dauphiness, with a flush on her cheek and an eager look on her
face, her tall form, and dress more carefully arranged than
usual, looked well and princely; Eleanor, very like her, but
much developed in expression and improved in looks since she
left home, and a beauty of her own; but the palm lay between the
other three--Yolande, tall, grave, stately, and anxious, with
darker blue eyes and brown hair than her sister, who, with her
innocent childish face, showing something of the shyness of a
bride, sat somewhat back, as if to conceal herself between
Yolande and Jean, who was all excitement, her cheeks flushed,
and her sunny hair seeming to glow with a radiance of its own.
Duke Sigismund was among the defenders, in a very splendid suit
of armour, made in Italy, and embossed in that new taste of the
Cinquecento that was fast coming in.
The two kings began with an amicable joust, in which Rene had
the best of it. Then they took their seats, and as usual there
was a good deal of riding one against the other at the lists,
and shivering of lances; while some knights were borne backwards,
horse and all, others had their helmets carried off; but Rene,
who sat in great enjoyment, with his staff in hand, between his
sister and her husband, King Charles, had taken care that all
the weapons should be blunted. Sigismund, a tall, large,
strongly made man, was for some time the leading champion.
Perhaps there was an understanding that the Lion of Hapsburg
and famed Eagle of the Tyrol was to carry all before him and win,
in an undoubted manner, the prize of the tourney, and the hand
of the Infanta Yolande. Certainly the colour rose higher and
higher in her delicate cheek, but those nearest could see that
it was not with pleasure, for she bit her lip with annoyance,
and her eyes wandered in search of some one.
Presently, in a pause, there came forward on a tall white horse
a magnificently tall man, in plain but bright armour, three
allerions or beakless eagles on his breast, and on his shield a
violet plant, with the motto, Si douce est la violette. The
Dauphiness leant across her sister and squeezed Yolande's hand
vehemently, as the knight inclined his lance to the King, and
was understood to crave permission to show his prowess. Charles
turned to Rene, whose good-humoured face looked annoyed, but who
could not withhold his consent. The Dauphiness, whose vehement
excitement was more visible than even Yolande's, whispered to
Eleanor that this was Messire Ferry de Vaudemont, her true love,
come to win her at point of the lance.
History is the parent of romance, and romance now and then
becomes history. It is an absolute and undoubted fact that
Count Frederic or Ferry de Vaudemont, the male representative
of the line of Charles the Great, did win his lady-love, Yolande
of Anjou, by his good lance within the lists, and that thus the
direct descent was brought eventually back to Lorraine, though
this was not contemplated at the time, since Yolande had then
living both a brother and a nephew, and it was simply for her
own sake that Messire Ferry, in all the strength and beauty that
descended to the noted house of Guise, was now bearing down all
before him, touching shield after shield, only to gain the
better of their owners in the encounter. Yolande sat with a
deep colour in her cheeks, and her hands clasped rigidly
together without a movement, while the Lorrainer spectators,
with a strong suspicion who the Knight of the Violet really was,
and with a leaning to their own line, loudly applauded each
King Rene, long ago, had had to fight for his wife's inheritance
with this young man's father, who, supported by the strength of
Burgundy, had defeated and made him prisoner, so that he was
naturally disinclined to the match, and would have preferred the
Hapsburg Duke, whose Alsatian possessions were only divided from
his own by the Vosges; but his generous and romantic spirit
could not choose but be gained by the proceeding of Count Ferry,
and the mute appeal in the face and attitude of his much-loved
He could not help joining in the applause at the grace and ease
of the young knight, till by and by all interest became
concentrated on the last critical encounter with Sigismund.
Every one watched almost breathlessly as the big heavy Austrian,
mounted on a fresh horse, and the slim Lorrainer in armour less
strong but less weighty, had their meeting. Two courses were
run with mere splintering of lance; at the third, while Rene
held his staff ready to throw if signs of fighting _a l'outrance_
appeared, Ferry lifted his lance a little, and when both steeds
recoiled from the clash, the azure eagle of the Tyrol was
impaled on the point of his lance, and Sigismund, though not
losing his saddle, was bending low on it, half stunned by the
force of the blow. Down went Rene's warder. Loud were the
shouts, 'Vive the Knight of the Violet! Victory to the
The voice of Rene was as clear and exulting as the rest, as the
heralds, with blast of trumpet, proclaimed the Chevalier de la
Violette the victor of the day, and then came forward to lead
him to the feet of the Queen of France. His helmet was removed,
and at the face of manly beauty that it revealed, the applause
was renewed; but as Marie held out the prize, a splendidly
hilted sword, he bowed low, and said, 'Madame, one boon alone do
I ask for my guerdon.' And withal, he laid the blue eagle on
his lance at the feet of Yolande.
Rene was not the father to withstand such an appeal. He leapt
from his chair of state, he hurried to Yolande in her gallery,
took her by the hand, and in another moment Ferry had sprung
from his horse, and on the steps knight and lady, in their
youthful glory and grace, stood hand in hand, all blushes and
bliss, amid the ecstatic applause of the multitude, while the
Dauphiness shed tears of joy. Thus brilliantly ended the first
tournament witnessed by the Scottish princesses. Eleanor had
been most interested on the whole in Duke Sigismund, and had
exulted in his successes, and been sorry to see him defeated,
but then she knew that Yolande dreaded his victory, and she
suspected that he did not greatly care for Yolande, so that,
since he was not hurt, and was certainly the second in the field,
she could look on with complacency.
Moreover, at the evening's dance, when Margaret and Suffolk,
Ferry and Yolande stood up for a stately pavise together,
Sigismund came to Eleanor, and while she was thinking whether or
not to condole with him, he shyly mumbled something about not
regretting--being free--the Dauphin, her brother, enduring a
beaten knight. It was all in a mixture of French and German,
mostly of the latter, and far less comprehensible than usual,
unless, indeed, maidenly shyness made her afraid to understand
or to seem to do so. He kept on standing by her, both of them,
mute and embarrassed, not quite unconscious that they were
observed, perhaps secretly derided by some of the lookers-on.
The first relief was when the Dauphiness came and sat down by
her sister, and began to talk fast in French, scarce heeding
whether the Duke understood or answered her.
One question he asked was, who was the red-faced young man with
stubbly sunburnt hair, and a scar on his cheek, who had appeared
in the lists in very gaudy but ill-fitting armour, and with a
great raw-boned, snorting horse, and now stood in a corner of
the hall with his eyes steadily fixed on the Lady Joanna.
'So!' said Sigismund. 'That fellow is the Baron Rudiger von
Batchburg Der Schelm! How has he the face to show himself
'Is he one of your Borderers--your robber Castellanes?' asked
'Even so! His father's castle of Balchenburg is so cunningly
placed on the march between Elsass and Lothringen that neither
our good host nor I can fully claim it, and these rogues shelter themselves behind one or other of us till it is, what they call
in Germany a Rat Castle, the refuge of all the ecorcheurs and
routiers of this part of the country. They will bring us both
down on them one of these days, but the place is well-nigh past
scaling by any save a gemsbock or an ecorcheur!'
Jean herself had remarked the gaze of the Alsatian mountaineer.
It was the chief homage that her beauty had received, and she
was somewhat mortified at being only viewed as part of the
constellation of royalty and beauty doing honour to the Infantas.
She believed, too, that if Geordie of the Red Peel had chosen,
he could have brought her out in as effective and romantic a
light as that in which Yolande had appeared, and she was in some
of her moods hurt and angered with him for refraining, while in
others she supposed sometimes that he was too awkward thus to
venture himself, and at others she did him the justice of
believing that he disdained to appear in borrowed plumes.
The wedding was by no means so splendid an affair as the
tournament, as, indeed, it was merely a marriage by proxy, and
Yolande and her Count of Vaudemont were too near of kin to be
married before a dispensation could be procured.
The King and Queen of France would leave Nanci to see the bride
partly on her way. The Dauphin and his wife were to tarry a day
or two behind, and the princesses belonged to their Court. Sir
Patrick had fulfilled his charge of conducting them to their
sister, and he had now to avail himself of the protection of the
King's party as far as possible on the way to Paris, where he
would place Malcolm at the University, and likewise meet his
daughter's bridegroom and his father.
Dame Lilias did not by any means like leaving her young cousins,
so long her charge, without attendants of their own; but the
Dauphiness gave them a tirewoman of her own, and undertook that
Madame de Ste. Petronelle should attend them in case of need, as
well as that she would endeavour to have Annis, when Madame de Terreforte, at her Court as long as they were there. They also
had a squire as equerry, and George Douglas was bent on
continuing in that capacity till his outfit from his father
arrived, as it was sure to do sooner or later.
Margaret knew who he was, and promised Sir Patrick to do all in
her power for him, as truly his patience and forbearance well
It was a very sorrowful parting between the two maidens and the
Lady of Glenuskie, who for more than half a year had been as a
mother to them, nay, more than their own mother had ever been;
and bad done much to mitigate the sharp angles of their
neglected girlhood by her influence. In a very few months more
she would see James, and Mary, and the 'weans'; and the three
sisters loaded her with gifts, letters, and messages for all.
Eleanor promised never to forget her counsel, and to strive not
to let the bright new world drive away all those devout feelings
and hopes that Mother Clare and King Henry had inspired, and
that Lady Drummond had done her best to keep up.
Duke Sigismund had communicated to Sir Patrick his intention of making a formal request to King James for the hand of the Lady Eleanor.
He was to find an envoy to make his proposal in due form, who
would join Sir Patrick at Terreforte after the wedding was over,
so as to go with the party to Scotland.
Meantime, with many fond embraces and tears, Lady Drummond took
leave of her princesses, and they owned themselves to feel as if
a protecting wall had been taken away in her and her husband.
'It is folly, though, thus to speak,' said Jean, 'when we have
our sister, and her husband, and his father, and all his Court
to protect us.'
'We ought to be happy,' said Eleanor gravely. 'Outside
here at Nanci, it is all that my fancy ever shaped, and yet--and
yet there is a strange sense of fear beyond.'
'Oh, talk not that gate,' cried Jean, 'as thou wilt be having
thy gruesome visions!'
'No; it is not of that sort,' returned Eleanor. 'I trow not!
It may be rather the feeling of the vanity of all this world's
'Oh, for mercy's sake, dinna let us have clavers of that sort,
or we shall have thee in yon nunnery!' exclaimed Jean. 'See
this girdle of Maggie's, which she has given me. Must I not
make another hole to draw it up enough for my waist?'
'Jean herself was much disappointed when Margaret, with great
regret, told her that the Dauphin had to go out of his way to
visit some castles on his way to Chalons sur Marne, and that he
could not encumber his hosts with so large a train as the
presence of two royal ladies rendered needful. They were,
therefore, to travel by another route, leading through towns
where there were hostels. Madame de Ste. Petronelle was to go
with them, and an escort of trusty Scots archers, and all would
meet again in a fortnight's time.
All sounded simple and easy, and Margaret repeated, 'It will be
a troop quite large enough to defend you from all ecorcheurs;
indeed, they dare not come near our Scottish archers, whom
Messire, my husband, has told off for your escort. And you will
have your own squire,' she added, looking at Jean.
'That's as he lists,' said Jean scornfully.
'Ah, Jeanie, Jeanie, thou mayst have to rue it if thou turn'st
lightly from a leal heart.'
'I'm not damsel-errant of romance, as thou and Elleen would fain
be,' said Jean.
'Nay,' said Margaret, 'love is not mere romance. And oh, sister,
credit me, a Scots lassie's heart craves better food than
crowns and coronets. Hard and unco' cold be they, where there
is no warmth to meet the yearning soul beneath, that would give
all and ten times more for one glint of a loving eye, one word
from a tender lip.' Again she had one of those hysteric bursts
of tears, but she laughed herself back, crying, 'But what is the
treason wifie saying of her gudeman--her Louis, that never yet
said a rough word to his Meg?'
Then came another laugh, but she gathered herself up at a
summons to come down and mount.
She was tenderly embraced by all, King Rene kissing her and
calling her his dear niece and princess of minstrelsy, who
should come to him at Toulouse and bestow the golden violet.
She rode away, looking back smiling and kissing her hand, but
Eleanor's eyes grew wide and her cheeks pale.
'Jean,' she murmured, low and hoarsely, 'Margaret's shroud is up
to her throat.'
'Hoots with thy clavers,' exclaimed Jeanie in return. 'I never
let thee sing that fule song, but Meg's fancies have brought the
megrims into thine head! Thou and she are pair.'
'That we shall be nae longer,' sighed Eleanor. 'I saw the
shroud as clear as I see yon cross on the spire.'
'Yet one asylum is my own,
Against the dreaded hour;
A long, a silent, and a lone,
Where kings have little power.'--SCOTT.
At Chalons, the Sieur de Terreforte and his son Olivier, a very
quiet, stiff, and well-trained youth, met Sir Patrick and the
Lady of Glenuskie. Terreforte was within the province of
Champagne, and as long as the Court remained at Chalons the
Sieur felt bound to remain in attendance on the King--lodging at
his own house, or hotel, as he called it, in the city. Dame
Lilias did not regret anything which gave her a little more time
with her daughter, and enabled Annis to make a little more
acquaintance with her bridegroom and his family before being
left alone with them. Moreover, she hoped to see something more
of her cousins the princesses.
But they came not. The Dauphin and his wife arrived from their
excursion and took up their abode in the Castle of Surry le
Chateau, at a short distance from thence and thither went the
Lady of Glenuskie with her husband to pay her respects, and
present the betrothed of her daughter.
Margaret was sitting in a shady nook of the walls, under the
shade of a tall, massive tower, with a page reading to her, but
in that impulsive manner which the Court of France thought
grossiere and sauvage; she ran down the stone stairs and threw
herself on the neck of her cousin, exclaiming, however, 'But
where are my sisters?'
'Are they not with your Grace? I thought to find them here!'
'Nay! They were to start two days after us, with an escort of
archers, while we visited the shrine of St. Menehould. They
might have been here before us,' exclaimed Margaret, in much
alarm. 'My husband thought our train would be too large if they
went with us.'
'If we had known that they were not to be with your Grace, we
would have tarried for them,' said Dame Lilias.
'Oh, cousin, would that you bad!'
'Mayhap King Rene and his daughter persuaded them to wait a few
That was the best hope, but there was much uneasiness when
another day passed and the Scottish princesses did not appear.
Strange whispers, coming from no one knew where, began to be
current that they had disappeared in company with some of those
wild and gay knights who had met at the tournament at Nanci.
In extreme alarm and indignation, Margaret repaired to her
husband. He was kneeling before the shrine of the Lady in the
Chapel of Surry, telling his beads, and he did not stir, or look
round, or relax one murmur of his Aves, while she paced about,
wrung her hands, and vainly tried to control her agitation. At
last he rose, and coldly said, 'I knew it could be no other who
thus interrupted my devotions.'
'My sisters!' she gasped.
'Well, what of them?'
'Do you know what wicked things are said of them--the dear maids?
Ah!'--as she saw his strange smile--'you have heard! You will
silence the fellows, who deserve to have their tongues torn out
for defaming a king's daughters.'
'Verily, ma mie,' said Louis, 'I see no such great improbability
in the tale. They have been bred up to the like, no doubt a
mountain kite of the Vosges is a more congenial companion than a
chevalier bien courtois.'
'You speak thus simply to tease your poor Margot,' she said,
pleading yet trembling; 'but I know better than to think you
'As my lady pleases,' he said.
'Then will I send Sir Patrick with an escort to seek them at
Nanci and bring them hither?'
'Where is this same troop to come from?' demanded Louis.
'Our own Scottish archers, who will see no harm befall my
blessed father's daughters.'
'Ha! say you so? I had heard a different story from Buchan,
from the Grahams, the Halls. Revenge is sweet--as your mother
'The murderers had only their deserts.'
Louis shrugged his shoulders, 'That is as their sons may think.'
'No one would be so dastardly as to wreak vengeance on two young
helpless maids,' cried Margaret. 'Oh! sir, help me; what think
'Madame knows better than I do the spirit alike of her sisters
and of her own countrymen.'
'Nay, nay, Monsieur, husband, do but help me! My poor sisters
in this strange land! You, who are wiser than all, tell me what
can have become of them?'
'What can I say, Madame? Love--love of the minstrel kind seems
to run in the family. You all have supped full thereof at Nanci.
If report said true, there was a secret lover in their suite.
What so likely as that the May game should have become earnest?'
'But, sir, we are accountable. My sisters were entrusted to us.'
'Not to me,' said Louis. 'If the boy, your brother, expected me
to find husbands and dowers for a couple of wild, penniless,
feather-pated damsels-errant, he expected far too much. I know
far too well what are Scotch manners and ideas of decorum to
charge myself with the like.'
'Sir, do you mean to insult me?' demanded Margaret, rising to
the full height of her tall stature.
'That is as Madame may choose to fit the cap,' he said, with a
bow; 'I accuse her of nothing,' but there was an ironical smile
on his thin lips which almost maddened her.
'Speak out; oh, sir, tell me what you dare to mean!' she said,
with a stamp of her foot, clasping her hands tightly. He only
'I know there are evil tongues abroad,' said Margaret, with a
desperate effort to command her voice; 'but I heeded them no
more than the midges in the air while I knew my lord and husband
heeded them not! But--oh! say you do not.'
'Have I said that I did?'
'Then for a proof--dismiss and silence that foul-slandering
wretch, Jamet de Tillay.'
'A true woman's imagination that to dismiss is to silence,' he
'It would show at least that you will not brook to have your
wife defamed! Oh! sir, sir,' she cried, 'I only ask what any
other husband would have done long ago of his own accord and
rightful anger. Smile not thus--or you will see me frenzied.'
'Smiles best befit woman's tears ' said Louis coolly. 'One
moment for your sisters, the next for yourself.'
'Ah! my sisters! my sisters! Wretch that I am, to have thought
of my worthless self for one moment. Ah! you are only teasing
your poor Margot! You will act for your own honour and theirs
in sending out to seek them!'
'My honour and theirs may be best served by their being
Margaret became inarticulate with dismay, indignation,
disappointment, as these envenomed stings went to her very soul,
further pointed by the curl of Louis's thin lips and the
sinister twinkle of his little eyes. Almost choked, she
stammered forth the demand what he meant, only to be answered
that he did not pretend to understand the Scottish errant nature,
and pointing to a priest entering the church, he bade her not
make herself conspicuous, and strolled away.
Margaret's despair and agony were inexpressible. She stood for
some minutes leaning against a pillar to collect her senses.
Then her first thought was of consulting the Drummonds, and she
impetuously dashed back to her own apartments and ordered her
palfrey and suite to be ready instantly to take her to Chalons.
Madame la Dauphine's palfreys were all gone to Ghalons to be
shod. In fact, there were some games going on there, and
trusting to the easy-going habits of their mistress, almost all
her attendants had lounged off thither, even the maidens, as
well as the pages, who felt Madame de Ste. Petronelle's sharp
eyes no longer over them.
'Tell me,' said Margaret, to the one lame, frightened old man
who alone seemed able to reply to her call, 'do you know who
commanded the escort which were with my sisters, the Princesses
The old man threw up his hands. How should he know? 'The
escort was of the savage Scottish archers.'
'I know that; but can you not tell who they were--nor their
'Ah! Madame knows that their names are such as no Christian
can understand, nor lips speak!'
'I had thought it was the Sire Andrew Gordon who was to go with
them. He with the blue housings on the dapple grey.'
'No, Madame; I heard the Captain Mercour say Monsieur le Dauphin
had other orders for him. It was the little dark one--how call
they him?--ah! with a more reasonable name--Le Halle, who led
the party of Mesdames. Madame! Madame! let me call some of
'No, no,' gasped Margaret, knowing indeed that none whom she
wished to see were within call. 'Thanks, Jean, here--now go,'
and she flung him a coin.
She knew now that whatever had befallen her sisters had been by
the connivance if not the contrivance of her husband, unwilling
to have the charge and the portioning of the two penniless
maidens imposed upon him. And what might not that fate be,
betrayed into the hands of one who had so deadly a blood-feud
with their parents! For Hall was the son of one of the men
whose daggers had slain James I., and whose crime had been
visited with such vindictive cruelty by Queen Joanna. The man's
eyes had often scowled at her, as if he longed for vengeance--
and thus had it been granted him.
Margaret, with understanding to appreciate Louis's extraordinary
ability, had idolised him throughout in spite of his constant
coldness and the satire with which he treated all her higher
tastes and aspirations, continually throwing her in and back
upon herself, and blighting her instincts wherever they turned.
She had accepted all this as his superiority to her folly, and
though the thwarted and unfostered inclinations in her strong
unstained nature had occasioned those aberrations and distorted
impulses which brought blame on her, she had accepted everything
hitherto as her own fault, and believed in, and adored the image
she had made of him throughout. Now it was as if her idol had
turned suddenly into a viper in her bosom, not only stinging her
by implied acquiescence in the slanders upon her discretion, if
not upon her fair fame, but actually having betrayed her
innocent sisters by means of the deadly enemy of their family--
to what fate she knew not.
To act became an immediate need to the unhappy Dauphiness at
once, as the only vent to her own misery, and because she must
without loss of time do something for the succour of her young
sisters, or ascertain their fate.
She did not spend a moment's thought on the censure any
imprudent measure of her own might bring on her, but hastily
summoning the only tirewoman within reach, she exchanged her
blue and gold embroidered robe for a dark serge which she wore
on days of penance, with a mantle and hood of the same, and, to
Linette's horror and dismay, bade her attend her on foot to the
Hotel de Terreforte, in Chalons.
Linette was in no position to remonstrate, but could only follow,
as the lady, wrapped in her cloak, descended the steps, and
crossed the empty hall. The porter let her pass unquestioned,
but there were a few guards at the great gateway, and one
shouted, 'Whither away, pretty Linette?'
Margaret raised her hood and looked full at him, and he fell
back. He knew her, and knew that Madame la Dauphine did strange
things. The road was stony and bare and treeless, unfrequented
at first, and it was very sultry, the sun shining with a heavy
melting heat on Margaret's weighty garments; but she hurried on,
never feeling the heat, or hearing Linette's endeavours to draw
her attention to the heavy bank of gray clouds tinged with lurid
red gradually rising, and whence threatening growls of thunder
were heard from time to time. She really seemed to rush forward,
and poor, panting Linette toiled after her, feeling ready to
drop, while the way was as yet unobstructed, as the two
beautiful steeples of the Cathedral and Notre Dame de l'Epine
rose before them; but after a time, as they drew nearer, the
road became obstructed by carts, waggons, donkeys, crowded with
country-folks and their wares, with friars and ragged beggars,
all pressing into the town, and jostling one another and the two
foot-passengers all the more as rain-drops began to fall, and
the thunder sounded nearer.
Margaret had been used to walking, but it was all within parks
and pleasances, and she was not at all used to being pushed
about and jostled. Linette knew how to make her way far better,
and it was well for them that their dark dresses and hoods and
Linette's elderly face gave the idea of their being votaresses
of some sacred order, and so secured them from actual personal
insult; but as they clung together they were thrust aside and
pushed about, while the throng grew thicker, the streets
narrower, the storm heavier, the air more stifling and unsavoury.
A sudden rush nearly knocked them down, driving them under a
gargoyle, whose spout was streaming with wet, and completed the
drenching; but there was a porch and an open door of a church
close behind, and into this Linette dragged her mistress.
Dripping, breathless, bruised, she leant against a pillar, not
going forward, for others, much more gaily dressed, had taken
refuge there, and were chattering away, for little reverence was
paid at that date to the sanctity of buildings.
'Will the King be there, think you?' eagerly asked a young girl,
who had been anxiously wiping the wet from her pink kirtle.
'Certes--he is to give the prizes,' replied a portly dame in
'And the Lady of Beauty? I long to see her.'
'Her beauty is passing--except that which was better worth the
solid castle the King gave her,' laughed the stout citizen, who
seemed to be in charge of them.
'The Dauphiness, too--will she be there?'
'Ah, the Dauphiness!' said the elder woman, with a meaning sound
and shake of the head.
'Scandal--evil tongues!' growled the man.
'Nay, Master Jerome, there's no denying it, for a merchant of
Bourges told me. She runs about the country on foot, like no
discreet woman, let alone a princess, with a good-for-nothing
minstrel after her. Ah, you may grunt and make signs, but I had
it from the Countess de Craylierre's own tirewoman, who came for
a bit of lace, that the Dauphin is about to divorce her, for
the Sire Jamet de Tillay caught her kissing the minstrel on a
bench in the garden at Nanci.'
'I would not trust the Sire de Tillay's word. He is in debt to
every merchant of the place--a smooth-tongued deceiver. Belike
he is bribed to defame the poor lady, that the Dauphin may rid
himself of a childless wife.'
The young girl was growing restless, declaring that the rain was
over, and that they should miss the getting good places at the
show. Margaret had stood all this time leaning against her
pillar, with hands clenched together and teeth firm set, trying
to control the shuddering of horror and indignation that went
through her whole frame. She started convulsively when Linette
moved after the burgher, but put a force upon herself when she
perceived that it was in order to inquire how best to reach the
Hotel de Terreforte.
He pointed to the opposite door of the church, and Linette,
reconnoitring and finding that it led into a street entirely
quiet and deserted, went back to the Dauphiness, whom she found
sunk on her knees, stiff and dazed.
'Come, Madame,' she entreated, trying to raise her, 'the Hotel
de Terreforte is near, these houses shelter us, and the rain is
Margaret did not move at first; then she looked up and said,
'What was it that they said, Linette?'
'Oh! no matter what they said, Madame; they were ignorant
creatures, who knew not what they were talking about. Come, you
are wet, you are exhausted. This good lady will know how to
'There is no help in man,' said Margaret, wildly stretching out
her arms. 'Oh, God! help me--a desolate woman--and my sisters!
Very much alarmed, Linette at last succeeded in raising her to
her feet, and guiding her, half-blinded as she seemed, to the
portal of the Hotel de Terreforte--an archway leading into a
courtyard. It was by great good fortune that the very first
person who stood within it was old Andrew of the Cleugh, who
despised all French sports in comparison with the completeness
of his master's equipment, and was standing at the gate, about
to issue forth in quest of leather to mend a defective strap.
His eyes fell on the forlorn wanderer, who had no longer energy
to keep her hood forward. 'My certie! he exclaimed, in utter
The Scottish words and voice seemed to revive Margaret, and she
tottered forward, exclaiming, 'Oh! good man, help me! take me to
Fortunately the Lady of Glenuskie, being much busied in
preparations for her journey, had sent Annis to the sports with
the Lady of Terreforte, and was ready to receive the poor,
drenched, exhausted being, who almost stumbled into her motherly
arms, weeping bitterly, and incoherently moaning something about
her sisters, and her husband, and 'betrayed.'
Old Christie was happily also at home, and dry clothing, a warm
posset, and the Lady's own bed, perhaps still more her soothing
caresses, brought Margaret back to the power of explaining her
distress intelligibly--at least as regarded her sisters. She
had discovered that their escort had been that bitter foe of
their house, Robert Hall, and she verily believed that he had
betrayed her sisters into the hands of some of the routiers who
infested the roads.
Dame Lilias could not but think it only too likely; but she said
'the worst that could well befall the poor lassies in that case
would be their detention until a ransom was paid, and if their
situation was known, the King, the Dauphin, and the Duke of
Brittany would be certain one or other to rescue them by force
of arms, if not to raise the money.' She saw how Margaret
shuddered at the name of the Dauphin.
'Oh! I have jewels--pearls--gold,' cried Margaret. 'I could pay
the sum without asking any one! Only, where are they, where
are they? What are they not enduring--the dear maidens! Would
that I had never let them out of my sight!'
'Would that I had not!' echoed Dame Lilias. 'But cheer up, dear
Lady, Madame de Ste. Petronelle is with them and will watch over
them; and she knows the ways of the country, and how to deal
with these robbers, whoever they may be. She will have a care
But though the Lady of Glenuskie tried to cheer the unhappy
princess, she was full of consternation and misgivings as to the
fate of her young cousins, whom she loved heartily, and she was
relieved when, in accordance with the summons that she had sent,
her husband's spurs were heard ringing on the stair.
He heard the story with alarm. He knew that Sir Andrew Gordon
had been told off to lead the convoy, and had even conversed
with him on the subject.
'Who exchanged him for Hall?' he inquired.
'Oh, do not ask,' cried the unhappy Margaret, covering her face
with her hands, and the shrewder Scots folk began to understand,
as glances passed between them, though they spared her.
She had intended throwing herself at the feet of the King, who
had never been unkind to her, and imploring his succour; but Sir
Patrick brought word that the King and Dauphin were going forth
together to visit the Abbot of a shrine at no great distance,
and as soon as she heard that the Dauphin was with his father,
she shrank together, and gave up her purpose for the present.
Indeed, Sir Patrick thought it advisable for him to endeavour to
discover what had really become of the princesses before
applying to the King, or making their loss public. Nor was the
Dauphiness in a condition to repair to Court. Dame Lilias
longed to keep her and nurse and comfort her that evening; but
while the spiteful whispers of De Tillay were abroad, it was
needful to be doubly prudent, and the morning's escapade must if
possible be compensated by a public return to Chateau le Surry.
So Margaret was placed on Lady Drummond's palfrey, and
accompanied home by all the attendants who could be got together.
She could hardly sit upright by the time the short ride was over,
for pain in the side and stitch in her breath. Again Lady
Drummond would have stayed with her, but the Countess de
Craylierre, who had been extremely offended and scandalised by
the expedition of the Dauphiness, made her understand that no
one could remain there except by the invitation of the Dauphin,
and showed great displeasure at any one but herself attempting
the care of Madame la Dauphine, who, as all knew, was subject to megrims.
Margaret entreated her belle cousine to return in the morning
and tell her what had been done, and Dame Lilias accordingly set
forth with Annis immediately after mass and breakfast with the
news that Sir Patrick had taken counsel with the Sieur de
erreforte, and that they had got together such armed attendants
as they could, and started with their sons for Nanci, where they
hoped to discover some traces of the lost ladies.
Indeed, he had brought his wife on his way, and was waiting in
the court in case the Princess should wish to see him before he
went; but Lilias found poor Margaret far too ill for this to be
of any avail. She had tossed about all night, and now was lying
partly raised on a pile of embroidered, gold-edged pillows,
under an enormous, stiff, heavy quilt, gorgeous with heraldic
colours and devices, her pale cheeks flushed with fever, her
breath catching painfully, and with a terrible short cough,
murmuring strange words about her sisters, and about cruel
tongues. A crowd of both sexes and all ranks filled the room,
gazing and listening.
She knew her cousin at her entrance, clasped her hand tight, and
seemed to welcome her native tongue, and understand her
assurance that Sir Patrick was gone to seek her sisters; but she
wandered off into, 'Don't let him ask Jamet. Ah, Katie Douglas,
keep the door! They are coming.'
Her husband, returning from the morning mass, had way made for
him as he advanced to the bed, and again her understanding
partly returned, as he said in his low, dry voice, 'How now,
She looked up at him, held out her hot hand, and gasped, 'Oh,
sir, sir, where are they?'
'Be more explicit, ma mie,' he said, with an inscrutable face.
'You know, you know. Oh, husband, my Lord, you do not believe it. Say you do not believe it. Send the whispering fiend away. He has
hidden my sisters.'
'She raves,' said Louis. 'Has the chirurgeon been with her?'
'He is even now about to bleed her, my Lord,' said Madame de
Craylierre, 'and so I have sent for the King's own physician.'
Louis's barber-surgeon (not yet Olivier le Dain) was a little,
crooked old Jew, at sight of whom Margaret screamed as if she
took him for the whispering fiend. He would fain have cleared
the room and relieved the air, but this was quite beyond his
power; the ladies, knights, pages and all chose to remain and
look on at the struggles of the poor patient, while Madame de
Craylierre and Lady Drummond held her fast and forced her to
submit. Her husband, who alone could have prevailed, did not or
would not speak the word, but shrugged his shoulders and left
the room, carrying off with him at least his own attendants.
When she saw her blood flow, Margaret exclaimed, 'Ah, traitors,
take me instead of my father--only--a priest.'
Presently she fainted, and after partly reviving, seemed to doze,
and this, being less interesting, caused many of the spectators
When she awoke she was quite herself, and this was well, for the
King came to visit her. Margaret was fond of her father-in-law,
who had always been kind to her; but she was too ill, and speech
hurt her too much, to allow her to utter clearly all that
'My sisters! my poor sisters!' she moaned.
'Ah! ma belle fille, fear not. All will be well with them. No
doubt, my good brother Rene has detained them, that Madame
Eleanore may study a little more of his music and painting. We
will send a courier to Nanci, who will bring good news of them,'
said the King, in a caressing voice which soothed, if it did not
satisfy, the sufferer.
She spoke out some thanks, and he added, 'They may come any
moment, daughter, and that will cheer your little heart, and
make you well. Only take courage, child, and here is my good
physician, Maitre Bertrand, come to heal you.'
Margaret still held the King's hand, and sought to detain him.
'Beau pere, beau pere,' she said, 'you will not believe them!
You will silence them.'
'Whom, what, ma mie?'
'The evil-speakers. Ah! Jamet.'
'I believe nothing my fair daughter tells me not to believe.'
'Ah! sire, he speaks against me. He says--'
'Hush! hush, child. Whoever vexes my daughter shall have his
tongue slit for him. But here we must give place to Maitre
Maitre Bertrand was a fat and stolid personage, who,
nevertheless, had a true doctor's squabble with the Jew Samiel
and drove him out. His treatment was to exclude all the air
possible, make the patient breathe all sorts of essences, and
apply freshly-killed pigeons to the painful side.
Margaret did not mend under this method. She begged for Samiel,
who had several times before relieved her in slight illnesses;
but she was given to understand that the Dauphin would not permit
him to interfere with Maitre Bertrand.
'Ah!' she said to Dame Lilias, in their own language, 'my
husband calls Bertrand an old fool! He does not wish me to
recover! A childless wife is of no value. He would have me
dead! And so would I--if my fame were cleared. If my sisters
were found! Oh! my Lord, my Lord, I loved him so!'
Poor Margaret! Such was her cry, whether sane or delirious,
hour after hour, day after day. Only when delirious she rambled
into Scotch and talked of Perth; went over again her father's
murder, or fancied her sisters in the hands of some of the
ferocious chieftains of the North, and screamed to Sir Patrick
or to Geordie Douglas to deliver them. Where was all the
chivalry of the Bleeding Heart?
Or, again, she would piteously plead her own cause with her
husband--not that he was present, a morning glance into her room
sufficed him; but she would excuse her own eager folly--telling
him not to be angered with her, who loved him wholly and
entirely, and begging him to silence the wicked tongues that
When sensible she was very weak, and capable of saying very
little; but she clung fast to Lady Drummond, and, Dauphin or no
Dauphin, Dame Lilias was resolved on remaining and watching her
day and night, Madame de Craylierre becoming ready to leave the
nursing to her when it became severe.
The King came to see his daughter-in-law almost every day, and
always spoke to her in the same kindly but unmeaning vein,
assuring her that her sisters must be safe, and promising to
believe nothing against herself; but, as the Lady of Glenuskie
knew from Olivier de Terreforte, taking no measures either to
discover the fate of the princesses or to banish and silence
Jamet de Tillay, though it was all over the Court that the
Dauphiness was dying for love of Alain Chartier. Was it that
his son prevented him from acting, or was it the strange
indifference and indolence that always made Charles the Well-
Served bestir himself far too late?
Any way, Margaret of Scotland was brokenhearted, utterly weary
of life, and with no heart or spirit to rally from the illness
caused by the chill of her hasty walk. She only wished to live
long enough to know that her sisters were safe, see them again,
and send them under safe care to Brittany. She exacted a
promise from Dame Lilias never to leave them again till they
were in safe hands, with good husbands, or back in Scotland with
their brother and good Archbishop Kennedy. 'Bid Jeanie never
despise a true heart; better, far better, than a crown,' she
Louis concerned himself much that all the offices of religion
should be provided. He attended the mass daily celebrated in her
room, and caused priests to pray in the farther end continually.
Lady Drummond, who had not given up hope, and believed that good
tidings of her sisters might almost be a cure, thought that he
really hurried on the last offices, at which he devoutly
assisted. However, the confession seemed to have given Margaret
much comfort. She told Dame Lilias that the priest had shown
her how to make an offering to God of her sore suffering from
slander and evil report, and reminded her that to endure it
patiently was treading in the steps of her Master. She was
resolved, therefore, to make no further struggle nor complaint,
but to trust that her silence and endurance would be accepted.
She could pray for her sisters and their safety, and she would endeavour to yield up even that last earthly desire to be
certified of their safety, and to see their bonnie faces once
more. So there she lay, a being formed by nature and intellect
to have been the inspiring helpmeet of some noble-hearted man,
the stay of a kingdom, the education of all around her in all
that was beautiful and refined, but cast away upon one of the
most mean and selfish-hearted of mankind, who only perceived her
great qualities to hate and dread their manifestation in a woman,
to crush them by his contempt; and finally, though he did not
originate the cruel slander that broke her heart, he envenomed
it by his sneers, so as to deprive her of all power of resistance.
The lot of Margaret of Scotland was as piteous as that of any of
the doomed house of Stewart. And there the Lady of Glenuskie
and Annis de Terreforte watched her sinking day by day, and
still there were no tidings of Jean and Eleanor from Nanci, no messenger from Sir Patrick to tell where the search was directed.
'In these wylde deserts where she now abode
There dwelt a salvage nation, which did live
On stealth and spoil, and making nightly rade
Into their neighbours' borders.'--SPENSER.
A terrible legacy of the Hundred Years' War, which, indeed, was
not yet entirely ended by the Peace of Tours, was the existence
of bands of men trained to nothing but war and rapine, and
devoid of any other means of subsistence than freebooting on
the peasantry or travellers, whence they were known as
routiers--highwaymen, and ecorcheurs--flayers. They were a
fearful scourge to France in the early part of the reign of
Charles VII., as, indeed, they had been at every interval of
peace ever since the battle of Creci, and they really made a
state of warfare preferable to the unhappy provinces, or at
least to those where it was not actually raging. In a few
years more the Dauphin contrived to delude many of them into an
expedition, where he abandoned them and left them to be
massacred, after which he formed the rest into the nucleus of a
standing army; but at this time they were the terror of
travellers, who only durst go about any of the French provinces
in well-armed and large parties.
The domains of King Rene, whether in Lorraine or Provence,
were, however, reckoned as fairly secure, but from the time the
little troop, with the princesses among them, had started from
Nanci, Madame de Ste. Petronelle became uneasy. She looked up
at the sun, which was shining in her face, more than once, and
presently drew the portly mule she was riding towards George
'Sir,' she said, 'you are the ladies' squire?'
'I have that honour, Madame.'
'And a Scot?'
'I ask you, which way you deem that we are riding?'
'Eastward, Madame, if the sun is to be trusted. Mayhap
somewhat to the south.'
'Yea; and which side lies Chalons?'
This was beyond George's geography. He looked up with open
mouth and shook his head.
'Westward!' said the lady impressively. 'And what's yon in the
'Save that this land is as flat as a bannock, I'd have said
'Mountains they are, young man!' said Madame de Ste. Petronelle
emphatically--'the hills between Lorraine and Alsace, which we
should be leaving behind us.'
'Is there treachery?' asked George, reining up his horse. 'Ken
ye who is the captain of this escort?'
'His name is Hall; he is thick with the Dauphin. Ha! Madame,
is he sib to him that aided in the slaughter of Eastern's Eve
'Just, laddie. 'Tis own son to him that Queen Jean made dae
sic a fearful penance. What are ye doing?'
'I'll run the villain through, and turn back to Nanci while yet
there is time,' said George, his hand on his sword.
'Hold, ye daft bodie! That would but bring all the lave on ye.
There's nothing for it but to go on warily, and maybe at the
next halt we might escape from them.'
But almost while Madame de Ste. Petronelle spoke there was a