Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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

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go down the five of us to see if we could stand by my
young Lord in some strait, or give notice to my Lord

*' God reward you !" exclaimed Lady Walwyn,


" 'Twas only our duty, my Lady," gruffly answered Hum-
frey ; " "but just as Hal had got on tlie quay, what should I
see but Master Landry coming down the street with my
young Lord on his back ! I can tell you he was well-nigh
spent ; and just then half a dozen butcherly villains came
out on him, bawling, ' Tu-y ! tu-y ! ' which it seems means
'kill, kill.' He turned about and showed them that he had
got a white sleeve and white cross in his bonnet, like them,
the rascals, giving them to understand that he was only
going to throw the corpse into the river. I doubted bim
then myself ; but he caught sight of us, and in his fashion
of talk with us, called out to us to help, for there was life
still. So two of us took my Lord, and the other three gave
the beggarly French cut- throats as good as they meant for us j
while Landry shouted to the farmer to wait, and we got
aboard, and made right away down the river. But never a
word has the poor young gentleman spoken, though Master
Landry has done all a barber or a sick-nurse could do ; and
he got us past the cities by showing the papers in my Lord's
pocket, so that we got safe to the farmer's place. There we
lay till we could get a boat to Jersey, and thence again
home ; and maybe my young Lord will mend now Mistress
Cecily will have the handling of him."

" That is in the' wisest Hands, good Humfrey," said Lord
Walwyn, as the tears of feeble age flowed down his cheeks.
" May He who hath brought the lad safely so far spare him
yet, and raise him up. Bat whether he live or die, you son
and daughter Thistlewood, will look that the faithfulness
of Humfrey Holt and his comrades be never forgotten or

Humfrey again muttered something about no more than
his duty ; but by this time sounds were heard betokening
the approach of the melancholy procession, who, having


been relieved by a relay of servants sent at once from the
house, were bearing home the wounded youth. Philip first
of all dashed in hurrying and stumbling. He had been
unprepared by hearing Humfrey's account, and, impetuous
and affectionate as he was, was entirely unrestrained, and
flinging himself on his knees with the half-audible words,
"Oh! Lucy! Lucy! he is as good as dead!" hid his face
between his arms on his sister's lap, and sobbed with the
abandonment of a child, and with all his youthful strength ;
so much adding to the consternation and confusion, that,
finding all liUcy's gentle entreaties vain, his father at last
roughly pulled up his face by main force, and said, " Philip,
hold your tongue ! Are we to have you on our hands as
Avell as my Lady ? I shall send you home this moment !
Let your sister go."

This tlireat reduced the boy to silence. Lucy, who was
wanted to assist in preparing Berenger's room, disengaged
herself ; but he remained in the same posture, his head
buried on the seat of the chair, and the loud weeping only
forcibly stifled by forcing his handkerchief into his mouth,
as if he had been in violent bodily j)ain. Nor did he venture
again to look up as the cause of all his distress was slowly
carried into the hall, corpse-like indeed. The bearers had
changed several times, all but a tall, fair Norman youth, who
through the whole transit had supported the head, endea-
vouring to guard it from shocks. When the mother and the
rest came forward, he made a gesture to conceal the face,
saying in French, " Ah ! mesdames ; this is no sight for

Indeed the head and face were almost entirely hidden by
bandages, and it was not till Berenger had been safely
deposited on a large carved bed that the anxious relatives
were permitted to perceive the number and extent of his


hurts ; and truly it was only by the breath, the vital warmth,
and the heavy moans when he was disturbed, or the dressings
of the wounds were touched, that showed him still to be a
living man. There proved to be no less than four wounds —
a shot through the right shoulder, the right arm also broken
with a terrible blow with a sword, a broad gash from the left
temple to the right ear, and worse than all, " le haiser (TEus-
tacie" a bullet- wound where the muzzle of the pistol had
absolutely been so close as to have burnt and blackened the
cheek ; so that his life was, as Osbert averred, chiefly owing
to the assassin's jealousy of his personal beauty, which had
directed his shot to the cheek rather than the head; and
thus, though the bullet had terribly shattered the upper jaw
and roof of the mouth, and had passed out through the back
of the head, there was a hope that it had not penetrated the
seat of life or reason. The other gash on the face was but a
sword-wound, and though frightful to look at, was unim-
portant, compared with tlie first wound with the pistol-shot
in the shoulder, with the arm broken and further injured by
having served to suspend him round Osbert's neck ; but it
was altogether so appalling a sight, that it was no wonder
that Sir Marmaduke muttered low but deep curses on the
cowardly ruffians ; while his wife wept in grief as violent,
though more silent, than her stepson's, and only Cecily
gathered the faintest ray of hope. The wounds had been
well cared for, the arm had been set, the hair cut away, and
lint and bandages applied with a skill that surprised her, till
she remembered that Landry Osbert had been bred up in
preparation to be Berenger's valet, and thus to practise those
minor arts of surgery then required in a superior body-servant.
For his part, though his eyes looked red, and his whole
person exhausted by unceasing watching, he seemed unable
to relinquish the care of his master for a moment, and her


nunnery French would not have persuaded him of her suf-
ficiency as a nurse, had he not perceived her tender touch
and ready skill. These Avere what made him consent to leave
his post even for a short meal, and so soon as he had eaten it
he was called to Lord Walwyn to supply the further account
which Humfrey had been unable to give. He had waited,
he explained, with a lackey, a friend of his in the palace,
till he became alarmed by the influx of armed men, wearing-
white crosses and shirt-sleeves on their left arms, but his
friend had assured him that his master had been summoned
to the royal bedchamber, where he would be as safe as in
church ; and obtaining from Landry Osbert himself a per-
fectly true assurance of being a good Catholic, had supplied
him with the badges that were needful for security. It was
just then that Madame's maid CYe])t down to his waiting
place with the intelligence that her mistress had been bolted
in, and after a short consultation they agreed to go and see
whether M. le Baron were indeed waiting, and, if he were, to
warn him of the suspicious state of the lower regions of the

They were just in time to see, but not to prevent the
attack upon their young master ; and while Yeronique fled,
screaming, Landry Osbert, who had been thrown back on the
stairs in her sudden flight, recovered himself and hastened
to his master. The murderers, after their blows had been
struck, had hurried along the corridor to join the body of
assassins, whose work they had in efiect somewhat antici-
pated. Landry, full of rage and despair, was resolved at
least to save his foster-brother's corpse from further insult,
and bore it downstairs in his arms. On the way, he per-
ceived that life was not yet extinct, and resolving to become
doubly cautious, he sought in the pocket for the purse that
had been well filled for the flight, and by the persuasive


argument of gold crowns, obtained egress from the door-
keeper of the postern, where Berenger hoped to have emerged
in a far different manner. It was a favourable moment, for
the main body of the murderers were at that time being
posted in the court by the captain of the guard, ready to
massacre the gentlemen of the King of ISTavarre's suite, and
he was therefore unmolested by any claimant of the plunder
of the apparent corpse he bore on his shoulders. The
citizens of Paris who had been engaged in their share of the
murders for more than an hour before the tragedy began in
the Louvre, frequently beset him on his way to the quay,
and but for the timely aid of his English comrades, he would
hardly have brought off his foster-brother safely.

The pass with which King Charles had provided Berenger
for himself and his followers when his elopement was first
planned, enabled Osbert to carry his whole crew safely past
all the stations where passports were demanded. He had
much wished to procure surgical aid at Eouen, but learning
from the boatmen on the river that the like bloody scenes
were there being enacted, he had decided on going on to his
master's English home as soon as possible, merely trusting to
his own skill by the way ; and though it was the slightest
possible hope, yet the healthy state of the wounds, and the
mere fact of life continuing, had given him some faint trust
that there might be a partial recovery.

Lord Walwyn repeated his agitated thanks and praises for
such devotion to his grandson.

Osbert bowed, laid his hand on his heart, and rej)lied —
" Monseigneur is good, but what say 1 1 Monsieur le Baron
is my foster-brother ! Say that, and all is said in one word."

He was then dismissed, with orders to take some rest, but
he obstinately refused all commands in Erench or English to
go to bed, and was found some time after fast asleep.



'Ye hae marred a bounier face than your ain."

Dying Words of the Bonnie Earl of Moray,

One room at Hurst Walwyn, though large, wainscoted, and
well furnished, bore as pertinaciously the air of a cell as
the appearance of Sister Cecily St. John continued like that
of a nun. There was a large sunny oriel, in which a thrush
sang merrily in a ^wicker cage ; and yet the very central
point and leading feature of the room was the altar-like
table, covered with rich needlework, with a carved ebony
crucifix placed on it, and on the wall above, quaint and
stiff, but lovely-featured, delicately tinted pictures of Our
Lady in the centre, and of St. Anne and St. Cecilia on
either side, with skies behind of most ethereal blue, and
robes tenderly trimmed with gold. A little shrine of purple
spar, with a crystal front, contained a fragment of sacred
bone ; a silver shell held holy water, perpetuated from some
blessed by Bishop Ridley.

" With velvet bound and broidered o'er,
Her breviary book "

lay open at " Sext," and there, too, lay with its three marks
at the Daily Lessons, the Bishop's Bible, and the Common
Prayer beside it.


The elder Baron de Eibaumont had never pardoned
Cecily his single glance at that table, and had seriously
remonstrated with his father-in-law for permitting its exist-
ence, qnoting Eachel. Achan, and Maachah. Tet he never
knew of the hair-cloth smock, the discipline, the cord and
sack- cloth that lay stored in the large carved awmiy, and
were secretly in nse on every fast or vigil, not with any
notion of merit, but of simple obedience, and with even
deeper comprehension and enjoyment of their spiritnal
significance, of which, in her cloister life, she had compre-
hended little.

It was not she, however, who knelt with bowed head and
clasped hands before the altar-table, the winter sunbeams
making the shadows of the ivy sprays dance upon the deep
mourning dress and pale cheek. The eyelashes were heavy
with tear-drops, and veiled eyes that had not yet attained
to the region of calm, like the light quivering of the lips
showed that here was the beginning of the course of trial
through which serenity might be won, and for ever.

By and by the latch was raised, and Cecily came forward.
Lucy rose quickly to her feet, and while giving and return-
ing a fond embrace, asked with her eyes the question that
Cecily answered, " Still in the same lethargy. The only
shade of sense that I have seen is an unclosing of the eyes,
a wistfal look whenever the door opened, and a shiver
through all his frame whenever the great bell rings, till my
Lord forbade it to be sounded."

" That frightful bell that the men told us of," said Lucy,
shuddering : " oh. what a heart that murderess must have

" Hold, Lucy ! How should we judge her, who may at
this moment be weeping in desolation 1 "

Lucy looked up astonished. " Aunt," she said, " you

THE WHITE .\:n"d black ribaumoxt. 173

have been so long shut up with him that you hardly can
have heard all — how she played fast and loose, and for the
sake of a mere pageant put off the flight from the time when
it would have been secure even until that dreadful eve ! "

" I know it," said Cecily. " I fear me much that her
sin has been great ; yet, Lucy, it were better to pray for her
than to talk wildly against her."

*' Alas !" murmured Lucy, "I could bear it and glory in
it when it seemed death for the faith's sake, but," and the
tears burst out, " to find he was only trapped and slain
for the sake of a faithless girl — and that he should love
her still."

" She is his wife," said Cecily. " Child, from my soul
I grieve for you, but none the less must I, if no other will,
keep before your eyes that our Berenger's faith belongs
solely to her."

" You — you never would have let me forget it," said
Lucy. " Lideed I am more maidenly when not alone
with you ! I know verily that he is loyal, and that my
hatred to her is more than is meet. I will — I will pray
for her, but I would that you were in your convent still,
and that I could hide me there."

" That were scarce enough," said Cecily. " One sister we
had who had fled to our house to hide her grief when her
betrothed had wedded another. She took her sorrows for
her vocation, strove to hurry on her vows, and when they
were taken, she chafed and fretted under them. It was she
who wrote to the commissioner the letter that led to the
visitation of our house, and, moreover, she was the only one
of us who married."

" To her own lover ?"

" 2^0, to a brewer at ^TLuchester 1 I say not that you
could ever be like poor sister Bridget, but only that the


cloister lias no charm to stiU the heart — Prayer and duty
can do as mnch without as within."

" When we deemed her worthy, I was glad of his happi-
ness," said Lucy, thoughtfvdly.

" You did, my dear, and I rejoiced — Think now how
grievous it must be with her, if she, as I fear she may,
yielded her heart to those, who told her that to ensnare
him was her duty, or, if indeed she were as much deceived
as he."

" Then she will soon he comforted," said Lucy, stiU with
some bitterness in her voice ; bitterness of which she her-
self was perhaps conscious, for suddenly dropping on her
knees, she hid her face, and cried, " Oh help me to pray for
her, Aunt Cecily, and that I may do her wrong no more ! "

And Cecily, in her low conventual chant, sang, almost
under her breath, the noonday Latin hymn, the words of
which, long familiar to Lucy, had never as yet so come
home to her.

" Quencli Thou tlie fires of heat aud strife,
The wasting fever of the heart ;
From perils guard our feeble life,
And to our souls Thy help impart."

Cecily's judgment would have been thought wealdy
charitable by all the rest of the family. Mr. Adderley had
been forwarded by Sir Francis Walsingham hke a bale of
goods, and arriving in a mood of such self-reproach as would
be deemed abject, by persons used to the modern relations
between noblemen and their chaplains, was exhilarated by
the unlooked-for comfort of finding his young charge at
least living, and in his grandfather's house. From his
narrative, Walsingham's letters, and Osbert's account. Lord
"Walwyn saw no reason to doubt that the Black Eibaumonts
. had thought the massacre a favourable moment for sweeping


the only survivor of tlie White or elder branch away, and
that not only had royalty lent itself to the cruel project,
but that as Diane de Eibaumont had failed as a bait, the
young espoused wife had herself been emploj^ed to draw
him into the snare, and secure his presence at the slaughter-
house, aAvay from his safe asylum at the Ambassador's, or
even in the King's garde-robe. It was an unspeakably
frightful view to take of the case, yet scarcely worse than
the reality of many of the dealings of those with whom the
poor young girl had been associated : certainly not worse
than the crimes, the suspicion of which was resting on the
last dowager Queen of France; and all that could be fel
by the sorrowing family, was comfort, that at least corruption
of mind had either not been part of the game, or had been
unsuccessful, and, by all testimony, the victim was still the
same innocent boy. This was all their relief, while for
days, for weeks, Berenger de Eibaumont lay in a trance or
torpor between life and death. Sometimes, as Cecily had
said, his eyes turned with a startled wistfulness towards
the door, and the sound of a bell seemed to thrill him with
a start of agony ; but for the most part he neither appeared
to see or hear, and a few moans were the only sounds that
escaped him. The Queen, in her affection for her old friend,
and her strong feeling for the victims of the massacre, sent
down the court physician, who turned him about, and
elicited simdry heavy groans, but could do no more than
enjoin patient waiting on the beneficent powers of nature in
early youth. His visit produced one benefit, namely, the
strengthening of Cecily St. John's hands against the charms,
elixirs, and nostrums with which Lady Thistlewood's friends
supplied her, — plasters from the cunning women of Lyme
"Regis, made of powder of giants' bones, and snakes prayed into
stone by St. Aldhelm, pills of live woodlice, and fomentations


of living earthworms and spiders. Great "was the censure
incurred by Lady TValwyn for refusing to let such remedies
be tried on her grandson. And he was so much more her
child than his mother's, that Dame Annora durst do no
more than maunder.

In this perfect rest, it seemed as if after a time "the
powers of nature " did begin to raUy, there were appearances
of healing about the wounds, the difference between sleeping
and waking became more evident, the eyes lost the painful,
haK-closed, vacant look, but were either shut or opened with
languid recognition. The injuries were such as to exclude
bim from almost every means of expression, the wound in
iiis mouth made speech impossible, and his right arm was
not available for signs. It was only the clearness of his
eyes, and their response to what was said, that showed that
his mind was recovering tone, and then he seemed only
alive to the present, and to perceive nothing but what
related to liis suffering and its alleviations. The wistfulness
that had shown itseK at first was gone, and even when he
improved enough to establish a language of signs with eye,
lip, or left hand, Cecily became convinced that he had little
or no memory of recent occurrences, and that finding himself
at home among familiar faces, his still dormant perceptions
demanded no further explanation.

This blank was the most favourable state for his peace and
for his recovery, and it was of long duration, lasting even till
he had made so much progress that he could leave his bed,
and even speak a few words, though his weakness was much
prolonged by the great difficulty with which he could take
nourishment. About two winters before, Cecily had success-
fully nursed him through a severe attack of small-pox, and
she thought that he confounded his present state with the
former illness, when he had had nearly the same attendants


and surroundings as at present ; and that his faculties were
not yet roused enough to perceive the incongruity.

Once or twice he showed surprise at visits from his mother

or Pliilip, who had then been entirely kept away from him,

and about Christmas he brightened so much, and awoke to

things about him so much more fully, that Cecily thought

the time of recollection could not be much longer deferred.

Any noise, however, seemed so painful to him, that the

Christmas festivities were held at Combe Manor instead of

Hurst ^Valwyn ; only after church, Sir Marmaduke and

Lady Thistlewood came in to make him a visit, as he sat in

a large easy-chair by his bedroom-fire, resting after ha\ang

gone through as much of the rites of the day as he was able

for, with Mr. Adderley, The room looked very cheerful

with the bright wood-fire on the open hearth, shining on the

gay tapestry hangings, and the dark wood of the carved bed.

The evergreen-decked window shimmered with sunshine, and

even the patient, leaning back among crimson cushions, though

his face and head were ghastly enough wherever they were

not covered with patches and bandagas, stiU had a pleasant

smile with lip and eye to thank his stepfather for his cheery

wishes of " a merry Christmas, at least one better in health."

"I did not bring the little wenches, Berenger, lest they

should weary you," said his mother.

Berenger looked alarmed, and said with the indistinctness
with which he always spoke, "Have they caught it? Are
they marked?"

" is'o, no, not like you, my boy," said Sir Marmaduke,
sufficiently aware of Berenger's belief to be glad to keep it up,
and yet obliged to walk to the window to hide his diversion
at the notion of his Kttle girls catching the contagion of
sword gashes and bullet-wounds. Dame Annora prattled on,
*' But they have sent you their Christmas gifts by me, poor



children, they have long been husied with them, and I fancy
Lucy did half herself. See this kerchief is hemmed by little
Dolly, and here are a pair of bands and cuffs to match, that
N"anny and Bessy have been broidering with their choicest

Berenger smiled, took, expressed admiration by gesture,
and then said in a dreamy, uncertain manner, *' Methought I
had some gifts for them ;" then looking round the room, his
eye fell on a small brass -bound casket which had travelled
with him to hold his valuables ; he pointed to it with a
pleased look, as Sir Marmaduke lifted it and placed it on a
chair by his side. The key, a small ornamental brass one,
was in his purse, not far off, and Lady Thistlewood was full
of exceeding satisfaction at the unpacking not only of foreign
gifts, but as she hoped, of the pearls ; Cecily meantime stole
quietly in, to watch that her patient was not over-wearied.

He was resuming the use of his right arm, though it was
still weak and stiff, and he evidently had an instinct against
letting any one deal with that box but himself; he tried
himself to unlock it, and though forced to leave this to Sir
Marmaduke, still leant over it when opened, as if to prevent
his mother's curious glances from penetrating its recesses,
and allowed no hands near it but his own. He first brought
out a pretty feather fan, saying as he held it to his mother ;
" For Nan, I promised it. It was bought at the Halles," he
added, more dreamily.

Then again he dived, and brought out a wax medallion of
Our Lady guarded by angels, and made the sign that always
brought Cecily to him. He held it up to her with a puzzled
smile, saying, " They thought me a mere Papist for buying
it — M. de Teligny, I think it was."

They had heard how the good and beloved Teligny had
been shot down on the roof of his father-in-law's house, by


rabid assassins, strangers to liis j)erson, when all who knew
him had spared him, from love to his gentle nature; and the
name gave a strange thrill.

He muttered something about "Pedlar, — Montpipeau," —
and still continued. Then came a small silver casket, dif-
fusing an odour of attar of roses — he leant back in his chair
— and his mother would have taken it from him, supposing
him overcome by the scent, but he held it fast and shook his
head, saying, " For Lucy, — but she must give it herself.
She gave up any gift for herself for it — she said we needed
no love-tokens." And he closed his eyes. Dame Annora
plunged into the unpacking, and brought out a pocket-mirror

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe chaplet of pearls; or, The white and black Ribaumont (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 23)