Charlotte Mary Yonge.

The chaplet of pearls; or, The white and black Ribaumont (Volume 1) online

. (page 12 of 23)
Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe chaplet of pearls; or, The white and black Ribaumont (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


contradict it when her mistress could listen, and express her
satisfaction that it was not the Chevalier Narcisse — for such
things were not pleasant, as she justly observed, in families.

About noon on the Tuesday the Louvre was unusually
tranquil. All the world had gone forth to a procession to
Xotre-Dame, headed by the King and all the royal family, to
offer thanlcsgiving for the deliverance of the country from the
atrocious conspiracy of the Huguenots. Eustacie's chamber
was freed from the bustle of all the maids of honour arraying
themselves, and adjusting curls, feathers, ruffs and jewels ;
and such relief as she Avas capable of exj)eriencing she felt in
the quiet.

Yeronique hoped she would sleep, and watched like a
dragon to guard against any disturbance, springing out with
up-raised finger when a soft gliding step and rustling of
brocade was heard. " Does she sleep ? " said a low voice ;
and Yeronique, in the j)ale thin face with tear-swollen eyes
and light yellow hair, recognised the young Queen. "My
good girl," said Elisabeth, with almost a beseeching gesture,
" let me see her. I do not know Avhen again I may be able."

Yeronique stood aside, with the loAvest possible of curtseys,
just as her mistress with a feeble, weary voice murmui'ed,
" Oh, make them let me alone ! "

" My poor, poor child," said the Queen, bending over



152 THE CHAPLET OF PEARLS ; OU,

Eustacie, while her brimming eyes let the tears fall fast, " I
will not disturb you long, but I could not help it."

" Her Majesty ! " exclaimed Eustacie, opening wide her

eyes in amazement.

" My dear, suffer me here a little moment, '"said the meek
Elisabeth, seating herself so as to bring her face near to
Eustacie's ; " I could not rest till I had seen how it was with
you, and wept with you."

"Ah, Madame, you can weep," said Eustacie slowly,
looking at the Queen's heavy tearful eyes almost with
wonder; "but I do not weep because I am dying, and that
is better."

" My dear, my dear, do not so speak I " exclaimed the
gentle but rather dull Queen.

"Is it wrong 1 Nay, so much the better — then I shall be
with him,'" said Eustacie in the same feeble dreamy manner,
as if she did not understand herself, but a little roused by
seeing she had shocked her visitor. " I would not be
wicked. He was all bright goodness and truth : but his
does not seem to be goodness that brings to heaven, and
I do not want to be in the heaven of these cruel false men — I
think it would go round and round." She shut her eyes as
if to steady herself, and that moment seemed to give her more
self-recollection, for looking at the weeping, troubled visitor,
she exclaimed, with more energy, " Oh ! Madame, it must be
a dreadful fancy ! Good men like him cannot be shut into
those fiery gates with the torturing devils."

" Heaven forbid ! " exclaimed the Queen. " My poor, poor
child, grieve not yourself thus. At my home, my Austrian
home, we do not speak in this dreadful way. My father
loves and honours his loyal Protestants, and he trusts that
the good God accepts their holy lives in His unseen Church,
even though outwardly they are separate from ns. My



THE "VViriTE AND BLACK RIBAUMONT. 153

German confessor ever said so. Oh ! child, it -would be too
frightful if we deemed that all those souls as Avell as bodies
perished in these frightful days, INIyself, I believe that they
have their reward for their truth and constancy."

Eustacie caught the Queen's hand, and fondled it with
delight, as though those words had veritably opened the gates
of heaven to her husband. The Queen went on in her slow
gentle manner, the very tone of which was inexpressibly
soothing and sympathetic : " Yes, and all will be clear there.
No more violence. At home our good men think so, and the
King will think the same when these cruel counsellors will
leav^e him to himself; and I pray, I pray day and night, that
God will not lay this sin to his account, but open his eyes to
repent. Forgive him, Eustacie, and pray for him too."

"The King would have saved my husband, Madame,"
returned Eustacie. " He bade him to his room. It was I,
unhappy I, who detained him, lest our flight should have
been hindered."

The Queen in her turn kissed Eustacie's forehead with
eager gratitude. " Oh, little one, you have brought a drop of
comfort to a heavy heart. Alas ! I could sometimes feel you
to be a happier wife than I, with your perfect trust in the
brave pure-spirited youth, unwarped by these wicked cruel
advisers. I loved to look at his open brow ; it was so like
our bravest German Junkers. And, child, we thought, both
of us, to have brought about your happiness ; but, ah ! it
has but caused all this misery."

"]!^o, no, dearest Queen," said Eustacie, "this month with
all its woe has been joy — life ! Oh ! I had rather lie here
and die for his loss than be as I was before he came. And
now — now, you have given him to me for all eternity — if but
I am fit to be with him ! "

Eustacie had revived so much during the interview that the



154 THE CIIAPLET OF PEAIILS ; Oil,

Queen could not believe lier to be in a dying state ; but she
continued very ill, the low fever stUl hanging about her, and
the faintness continual. The close room, the turmoil of its
many inhabitants, and the impossibility of quiet also harassed
her greatly, and Elisabeth had little or no power of making
any other arrangements for her in the palace. Ladies Avhen
ill were taken home, and this poor child had no home. The
other Maids of Honour were a gentler, simpler set than
Catherine's squadron, and were far from unkind; but
between them and her, -who had so lately been the brightest
child of them all, there now lay that great gulf. " Ich hahe
(jelebt %ind geliebety That the little blackbird, as they used
to call her, should have been on the verge of running away
with her own husband was a half understood, amusing
mystery discussed in exaggerating prattle. This Avas hushed
indeed, in the presence of that crushed, prostrate, silent
sorrow; but there was still an utter incapacity of true
sympathy, that made the very presence of so many oppres-
sive, even when they were not in murmurs discussing the
ghastly tidings of massacres in other cities, and the fate of
acquaintances.

On that same day, the Queen sent for Diane to consult her
about the sufferer. Elisabeth longed to place her in her own
cabinet and attend on her herself ; but she was afraid to do
this, as the unhappy King was in such a frenzied mood, and
so constantly excited by his brother and Guise, that it was
possible that some half- delirious complaint from poor Eustacie
might lead to serious consequences. Indeed, Elisabeth,
though in no state to bear agitation, was absorbed in her
endeavour to prevent him from adding blood to blood, and
a few days later actually saved the lives of the King of
jSTavarre and Prince of Conde, by throwing herself before him
half-dressed, and tearing his weapon from his hand. Iler



THE WHITE AND BLACK ElBAUMONT. 155

only hope was that if she sliould give liim a son, her influence
for mercy would revive with his joy. Meantime slie was
powerless, and she could only devise the sending the poor
little sufferer to a convent, Avhere the nuns might tend her
till she was restored to health and composure. Diane
acquiesced, but proposed sending for her father, and he was
accordingly summoned. Diane saw him first alone, and both
agreed that he had Letter take Eustacie to Bellaise, where
her aunt w^ould take good care of her, and in a few months
she would no douht be weary enough of the country to be in
raptures to return to Paris on any terms.

Yet even as Diane said this, a sort of longing for the
solitude of the woods of Nid-de-Merle came over her, a
recollection of the good Sister Monique, at whose knee she
had breathed somewhat of the free pure air that her murdered
cousin had brought with him ; a sense that there she could
pour forth her sorrow. She offered herself at once to go
with Eustacie.

" 1^0, no, my daughter," said the Chevalier, " that is unne-
cessary. There is pleasanter employment for you. I told
you that your position was secured. Here is a brilliant offer
— M. de Selinville."

"Ze honliomme de Selinville/" exclaimed Diane, feeling
rather as if the compensation were like the little dog offered
to Eustacie.

"Know ye not that his two heretic nephews perisbed the
other night ? He is now the head of his name, the Marquis,
the only one left of his house."

" He begins early," said Diane.

" An old soldier, my daughter, scarce stays to count the
fallen. He has no time to lose. He is sixty, with a damaged
constitution. It will be but the affair of a few years, and
then will my beautiful Marquise be free to choose for herself.



156 THE CHAPLET OF PEAELS ; OU,

I shall go from the young Queen to ohtain permission from
the Queen-mother.

jS; question was asked. Diane never even thought objec-
tion possible. It was a close to that present life which she
had begun to loathe : it gave comparative liberty. It would
dull and confuse her heart-sick pain, and give her a certain
superiority to her brother. Moreover, it would satisfy the
old father, whom she really loved. Marriage with a worn-
out old man was a simple step to full display for young ladies
without fortune.

The Chevalier told Queen Elisabeth his purpose of placing
his niece in the family convent, under the care of her aunt,
the Abbess, in a foundation endowed by her own family on
the borders of her own estate, Elisabeth would have liked
to keep her nearer, but could not but own that the change to
the scenes of her childhood might be more beneficial than a
residence in a nunnery at Paris, and the Chevalier spoke of
his niece with a tender solicitude that gained the Queen's
heart. She consented, only stipulating that Eustacie's real
wishes should be ascertained, and herself again made the
exertion of visiting the patient for the purpose.

Eustacie had been partly dressed, and was lying as near
as she could to the narrow window. The Queen would not
let her move, but took her damp languid hand, and detailed
her uncle's proposal. It was plain that it was not utterly
distasteful. " Soeur Monique," she said, " Socur Monique
would sing hymns to me, and then I should not see the imps
at night."

" Poor child ! And you would like to go. You could
bear the journey ? "

" It would be in the air ! And then I should not smell
blood — blood !" And her cheeks became whiter again, if
possible.



THE WHITE AND BLACK KIBAUMONT. 157

"Then you would not rather be at the Carmelites, or
Maubuisson, near me 1 "

" Ah ! Madame, there would not be Soeur Monique. If
the joiirney would only make me die, as soon as I came, with
Soeur Monique to hush me, and keep off dreadful images ! "

" Dear child, you should i:)ut away the thought of dying.
May be you are to live, that your j)rayers may win salvation
for the soul of him you love."

" Oh, then ! I should like to go into a convent so strict —
so strict," cried Eustacie, with renewed vigour. " Bellaise
is nothing like strict enough. Does your Majesty indeed
think that my prayers will aid him 1 "

" Alas ! what hope could we have but in i^raying 1 " said
Elisabeth, with tears in her eyes. " Little one, we will be
joined at least in our j^rayers and intercessions : thou wilt
not forget in thine one who yet lives, unhappier than all ! "

"And, oh, my good, my holy Queen, will you indeed pray
for him — my husband 1 He was so good, his faith can
surely not long be reckoned against him. He did not

believe in Purgatory ! Perhaps " Then frowning with

a difficulty far beyond a fever-clouded brain, she concluded
— " At least, orisons may aid him ! It is doing some-
thing for him ! Oh, where are my beads 1 — I can begin at
once."

The Queen put her arm round her, and together they said
the De profundis, — the Queen understood every word far more
for the living than the dead. Again Elisabeth had given
new life to Eustacie. The intercession for her husband
was something to live for, and the severest convent was
coveted, until she was assured that she would not be allowed
to enter on any rule till she had time to recover her health,
and show the constancy of her purpose by a residence at
Bellaise



158 THE CHAPLET OF PEARLS; Oi;,

Ere parting, however, the Queen bent over her, and
colouring, as if much ashamed of what she said, whispered —
" Child, not a word of the ceremony at Montpipeau 1 —
you understand 1 The King was always averse ; it would
bring Lim and me into dreadful trouble with those others,
and alas ! it makes no difference now. You "will be
silent ? "

And Eustacie signed her acquiescence, as indeed no
difficulty was made in her being regarded as the widow of
the Baron de Eibaumont, when she further insisted on pro-
curing a widow's dress before she quitted her room, and
declared, with much dignity, that she should esteem no
person her friend who called her Mademoiselle de Md-de-
Merle. To this the Chevalier de Eibaumont was willing to
give wav ; he did not care whether [N'arcisse married her as
Berenger's widow or as the separated maiden wife, and he
thought her vehement opposition and dislike woidd die away
the faster the fewer impediments were placed in her way.
Both he and Diane strongly discouraged any attempt on
I^arcisse's part at a farewell interview ; and thus unmolested,
and under the constant soothing influence of reciting her
prayers, in the trust that they were availing her husband,
Eustacie rallied so much that about ten days after the dread-
ful St. Bartholomew, in the early morning, she was half-led
half-carried down the stairs between her uncle and Veronique.
Her face was close muffled in her thick black veil, but when
she came to the foot of the first stairs where she had found
Berenger's cap, a terrible shuddering came on her ; she again
murmured something about the smell of blood, and fell into
a swoon.

" Carry her on at once," said Diane, who was following, —
" there will be no end to it if you do not remove her
immediately."



THE WHITE AND BLACK KIBAU.MUXT. 159

And thus shielded from the sight of iS^arcisse's intended
passionate gesture of farewell at the palace-door, Eustacio was
laid at full length on the seat of the great ponderous family-
coach, Avhere Ycroni<iue hardly wished to revive her till the
eight horses should have dragged her heyond the streets of
Paris, with their terrible association?, and the gibbets still
hung with the limbs of the murdered.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE bridegroom's ARRIVAL.

" The starling flew to liis niotlier's window staue,
It whistled and it sang,
And aye, the ower word of the tune
AVas 'Johnnie tarries hmg. ' "

Johniiic of Brcclislce.

There liad been distrust and dissatisfaction at home for
many a day past, Berenger could hardly be censured for
loving his own Avife, and yet his family were by no means
gratified by the prospect of his bringing home a little French
Papist, of whom Lady Thistlewood remembered nothing
good.

Lucy was indignantly fetched home by her stepmother,
"who insisted on treating her with extreme pity as a deserted
maiden, and thus counteracting Aunt Cecily's wise repre-
sentations, that there never should, and therefore never
could, have been anything save fraternal affection between
the young people, and that pity was almost an insult to Lucy.
The good girl herself was made very uncomfortable by these
demonstrations, and avoided them as much as possible,
chiefly striving in her own gentle way to prej^are her little
sisters to expect numerous charms in brother Berenger's wife,
and heartily agreeing with Philip that Berenger knew his
own mind best.



THE CHAPLET OF PEAKLS. IGl

"And at any rate," quoth Philip, "we'll have the best
bonfire that ever was seen in the country ! Lucy, you'll
coax my father to give us a tar-barrel ! "

The tar-barrel presided over a monstrous pile of fagots,
and the fisher-boys were promised a tester to whoever should
first bring word to Master Philip that the young lord and
lady were in the creek.

Philip gave his pony no rest, between the look-out on the
downs and the borders of the creek ; but day after day
passed, and still the smacks from Jersey held no person
worth mentioning ; and still the sense of expectation kept
Lucy starting at every sound, and hating herself for her
own folly.

At last Philip burst into Combe Manor, fiery red A^-ith
riding and consternation. " Oh ! father, father, Paul Duval's
boat is come in, and he says that the villain Papists have
butchered every Protestant in Prance."

Sir Marmaduke's asseveration was of the strongest, that he
did not believe a word of it. Nevertheless, he took his horse
and rode down to interrogate Paul Duval, and charge him not
to spread the report lest he should alarm the ladies.

But the report was in the air. He went to the hall, and
the butler met him Avith a grave face, and took him to the
study, where Lord AValwyn was sitting over letters newly
received from London, giving hints from the Low Countries
of bloody work in France. And when he returned to his
home, his wife bm'st out upon him in despair. Here had
they been certainly killing her poor boy. Xot a doubt that
he was dead. All from this miserable going to France, that
had been quite against her will.

Stoutly did Sir Marmaduke persevere in his disbelief;
but every day some fresh wave of tidings floated in.
Murder wholesale had surely been perpetrated. Xo^v came

VOL. r. M



162 THE CHAPLET OF PEARLS; OE,

stories of deatli-Lells at Eouen from the fishermen on the
coast ; now markets and petty sessions discussed the foul'
slaughter of the Ambassador and his household ; tridy
related how the Queen had put on mourning, and falsely that
she had hung the French Ambassador La Mothe Tcnelon.
And Burleigh wrote to his old friend from London, that some
horrible carnage had assuredly taken place, and that no news
had yet been received of Sir Francis Walsingham or of
his suite.

All these days seemed so many years taken from the vital
power of Lord "Walwyn. ISTot only had his hopes and
affections wound themselves closely around his grandson^
but he reproached himself severely with having trusted him
in his youth and inexperience among the seductive perils of
Paris. The old man grieved over the promising young life
cut off, and charged on himself the loss and grief to the
women, whose stay he had trusted Berenger would have
been. He said little, but his hand and head grew more
trembling ; he scarcely ate or slept, and seemed to waste
from a vigorous elder to a feeble being in the extremity of
old age, till Lady "Walwyn had almost ceased to think of her
grandson in her anxiety for her husband.

Letters came at last. The messenger despatched by Sir
Francis Walsingham had not been able to proceed till the
ways had become safe, and he had then been delayed,; but
on his arrival his tidings were sent down. There were
letters both from Sir Francis Walsingham and from heart-
broken Mr. Adderley, both to the same effect, with all pos-
sible praises of the young Baron de Eibaumont, all possible
reproach to themselves for having let him be betrayed into
this most horrible snare, in which he had perished, without
even a jDossibility of recovering his remains for honourable
burial. Poor IVIr. Adderley further said that IVIr. Sidney,



THE WHITE AND BLACK EIBAUMONT. 163

wlio was inconsolable for tlie loss of his friend, had offered
to escort him to the Low Countries, whence he would make
his way to England, and would present himself at Hurst
Walwyn, if his Lordship could endure the sight of his
creature who had so miserably failed in his trust.

Lord Walwyn read both letters twice through before he
spoke. Then he took off his spectacles, laid them down,
and said calmly, " God's will be done. I thank God that
my boy was blameless. lietter they slew him than sent him
home tainted with their vices."

The certainty, such as it was, seemed like repose after the
suspense. They knew to what to resign themselves, and
even Lady Thistlewood's tempestuous grief had so spent
itself that late in the evening the family sat round the fire
in the hall, the old lord dozing as one worn out with sorrow,
the others talking in hushed tones of that bright boyhood^
that joyous light quenched in the night of carnage.

The butler slowly entered the hall, and approached Sir
Marmaduke cautiously. " Can I speak with you, sir?"

"What is it, Davy?" demanded the ladj^, who first caught
the words. " What did you say ?"

« Madam, it is Humfrey Holt !"

Humfrey Holt was the head of the grooms who had gone
with Berenger ; and there was a general start and suppressed
exclamation. " Humfrey Holt ! " said Lord Walwyn,
feebly drawing himseK to sit upright, "hath he, then,
escaped?"

" Yea, my Lord," said Davy, " and he brings news of my
young Lord."

"Alack! Davy," said Lady Walwyn, "such news had
been precious a while ago."

" Nay, so please your Ladyship, it is better than you deem.
Humfrey says my young Lord is yet living."

M 2



164 THE CHAPLET OF PEAELS ; OR,

" Living ! " shrieked Lady Thistlewood, starting up.
" Living ! My son ! and where t "

" They are bearing him home, my Lady," said the butler ;
"but I fear me, by what Humfrey says, that it is but in
woful case."

" Bringing him home ! Which way ?" Philip darted off
like an arrow from the bow. Sir Marmaduke hastily de-
manded if aid were wanted ; and Lady Walwyn, interpreting
the almost inaudible voice of her husband, bade that Humfrey
should be called in to tell his own story.

Hands were held out in greeting, and blessings murmured,
as the groom entered, looking battered and worn, and bowing
low in confusion at being thus unusually conspicuous, and
having to tell his story to the whole assembled family. To
the first anxious question as to the condition of the young
Lord, he replied, " Marry, my Lady, the life is yet in him,
and that is all. He hath been shot through the head and
body, and slashed about the face so as it is a shame to see.
ISov hath he done aught these three weary weeks but moan
from time to time so as it is enough to break one's heart
to hear him; and I fear me 'tis but bringing him home
to die."

" Even so, God be thanked ; and you, too, honest Hum-
frey," said Lady Walwyn. " Let us hear when and how this
deed was done."

"Why, that, my Lord, I can't so well say, being that I
was not with him ; more's the pity, or I'd have known the
reason why, or ever they laid a finger on him. But when
Master Landry, his French foster-brother, comes, he will
resolve you in his own tongue. I can't parleyvoo with him,
but he's an honest rogue for a Frenchman, and 'twas he
brought ofi' my young Lord. You see we were all told to
be aboard the little French craft. Master Landry took me



THE WHITE AND BLACK laBAUMONT. 1G5

down and settled it all with the master, a French farmer
fellow that came a horse-dealing to Paris. I knew what my
young Lord was after, but none of the other varlets did ;
and I went down and made as decent a place as I could be-
tween decks. My Lord and Master Landry were gone down
to the Court meantime, and we were to lie off till we heard
a whistle like a mavis on the bank, then come and take them
aboard. Well, we waited and waited, and all the lights were
out, and not a sound did we hear till just an hour after
midnight. Then a big bell rang out, not like a decent
Christianable bell, but a great clash, then another, and a lot
of strokes enough to take away one's breath. Then half the
windows were lighted up, and we heard shots, and screeches,
and splashes, till, as I said to Jack Smithers, 'twas as if one-
half the place was murthering the other. The farmer got
frightened, and would have been off; but when I saw what
he was at, ' JSTo,' says I, ' not an inch do we budge without
news of my Lord,' So Jack stood by the rope, and let them
see that 'twas as much as their life was worth to try to
unmoor. Mercy, what a night it was ! Slirieks and shouts,
and shots and howls, here, there, and everywhere, and
splashes into the river; and by and by we saw the poor
murthered creatures come floating by. The farmer, he had
some words wdth one of the boats near, and I heard some-
what of Huguenot and Hereteek, and I knew that was what
they called good Protestants. Then up comes the farmer
with his sons looking mighty ugly at us, and signing that
unless we let them be off 'twould be the worse for us ; and
we began to think as how we had best be set ashore, and


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe chaplet of pearls; or, The white and black Ribaumont (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 23)