Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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

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to -whoni slie had fled, to save lier infant's life — when no
aid came."

He was obliged to break off, for Berenger, stunned by the
sudden rush of emotion, reeled as he stood, and would have
fallen but for the prompt support of Lucy, who was near
enough to guide him back to rest upon the bench, saying
resentfully in French as she did so, " My brother is still very
ill. I pray you, sir, have a care."

She had not half understood the rapid words of the two
young men, Philip comprehended them far less, and the con-
stable and his crew of course not at all ; and Spinks pushed
forward among the group as he saw Berenger sink back on
the bench ; and once more collaring his prisoner, exclaimed,
almost angrily to Philip, " There now, sir, you've had enough
of the vagabond. We'll keep him tight ere he bewitches any
more of you."

This rude interference proved an instant restorative. Be-
renger sprang up at once, and seizing Spinks's arm, exclaimed,
" Hands off, fellow ! This is my friend — a gentleman. He
brings me tidings of infinite gladness. Who insults him,
insults me."

Spinks scarcely withdrew his hand from Mericour's neck ;
and scowling, said, "Very odd gentleman — very queer tidings,
Master Berenger, to fell you like an ox. I must be answerable
for the fellow till his Honour comes."

" Ah ! Eh quoi, wherefore not show the canaille your
sword?" said Mericour, impatiently.

"It may not be here, in England," said Berenger (who
fortunately was not wearing his weapon). "And in good
time here comes my step-father," as the gate swung back,
and Sir Marmaduke and Lady Thistlewood rode through it,
the former sending his voice far before him to demand the
meaning of the hurly-burly that filled his court.


Philip "svas tlio first to spring to liis rein, exclaiming,
" Tatlier, it is a Frenchman whom Spinks would have flogged
at the cart's-tail ; hut it seems he is a friend of Berenger's,
and has hroucrht him tidings. I knoAV not what — about his
wife, I believe — any way he is beside himself with joy."

" Sir, your Honour," shouted Spinks, again seizing Mcri-
cour, and striving to drag him forward, " I would know
whether the law is to ho hindered from taking its course
hecause my young Lord there is a Frenchman and be-

•' Ah," shrieked Lady Thistlewood, " I knew it. They
will have sent secret poison to finish him. Keep the fellow
safe. He will cast it in the air."

"Ay, ay, my Lady," said Spinks, "there are plenty of us
to testify that he made my young Lord fall back as in a
swoon, and reel like one distraught. Pray Heaven it have
not gone further."

" Sir," exclaimed Berenger, who on the other side held his
friend's hand tight, " this is a noble gentleman — the brother
of the Duke de Mericour. He has come at great risk to
bring me tidings of my dear and true wife. And not one
word will these demented rascals let me hear with their
senseless clamour."

'•' Berenger ! You here, my boy !" exclaimed Sir Marma-
duke, more amazed by this than all the rest.

" He touches him — he holds him ! All ! will no one tear
him away ?" screamed Lady Thistlewood. Xcr would Spinks
have been slow in obeying her if Sir Marmaduke had not
swung his substantial form to the ground, and stej)ping up
to the prisoner, rudely clawed on one side by Spinks, and
affectionately grasped on the other side by Berenger,
shouted —

" Let go, both ! Does he speak English 1 Peace, dame ! If


tlie lad be bewitclied, it is the right way. He looks like
another man. Eh, lad, what does your friend say for

"Sir," said Berenger, interpreting Mericour's words as they
were spoken, " he has been robbed and misused at sea by
Montgomery's pirate crews. He fled from court for the
religion's sake ; he met her — my wife " (the voice was
scarcely intelligible, so tremulously was it spoken), " in
hiding among the Huguenots — he brings a letter and a token,
from her to my mother."

" Ha ! and you know him 1 You avouch him to be what
he represents himseK 1 "

" I knew him at court. I know him well. Father, make
these fellows cease their insults ! I have heard nothing yet.
See here ! " holding out what M6ricour had put into his hand;
" this you cannot doubt, mother."

"Parted the pearls! Ah, the little minx!" cried the
Lady, as she recognised the jewels.

" I thought he had been robbed ?" added Sir Marmaduke.
" The gentleman doubts?" said Mericour, catching some of
the words. " He should know that what is confided in a
French gentleman is only taken from him with his life.
Much did I lose ; but the pearl I kept hidden in my

Therewith he produced the letter. Lady Thistlewood pro-
nounced that no power on earth should induce her to open
it, and drew ofi' herself and her little girls to a safe distance
from the secret poison she fancied it contained ; while Sir
Marmaduke was rating the constables for taking advantage of
his absence to interpret the Queen's Vagrant Act in their
own violent fashion ; ending, however, by sending them
round to the buttery-hatch to drink the young Lord's health.
For the messenger, the good knight heartily grasped his


liand, welcoming liini and thanking liim for having " brought
comfort to yon poor lad's heart."

But there Sir Marmaduke paused, doubting whether the
letter had indeed brought comfort ; for Eerenger, who had
seized on it, when it was refused by his mother, was sitting
under the tree — turning away indeed, but not able to conceal
that his tears were gushing down like rain. The anxious
exclamation of his step-father roused him at length, but he
scarce found power or voice to utter, as he thrust the letter
into the knight's hand, " Ah ! see what has she not suffered
for me 1 me, whom you would have had believe her faith-

He then grasped his friend's arm, and with liim disappeared
into the house, leaving Sir Marmaduke holding the letter in
a state of the utmost bewilderment, and calling by turns on
his wife and daughter to read and explain it to him.

And as Lucy read the letter, which her mother could not
yet prevail on herself to touch, she felt at each word more
grateful to the good Aunt Cecily, whose influence had taught
her always to view Eerenger as a brother, and not to condemn
unheard the poor young wife. If she had not been thus
guarded, what distress might not this day of joy to Eerenger
have brought to Lucy. Indeed, Lady Thistlewood was vexed
enough as it was, and ready to carry her incredulity to the
most inconsistent lengths. " It was all a trick for getting
the poor boy back, that they might make an end of him
altogether." Tell her they thought him dead. — " Tilley-
valley ! it was a mere attempt on her own good-nature, to
get a little French impostor on her hands. Let Sir Duke
look well to it, and take care that her poor boy was not
decoyed among them. The Erenchman might be cutting his
throat at that moment ! Where was he 1 Had Su- Duke
been so lost as to let them out of sight together 1 !N'o one


had either pity or prudence now that her poor father was
gone ;" and she began to weep.

" JSTo great fear on that score, dame," laughed the knight.
"Did you not hear the lad shouting for 'Phil, Phil!'
almost in a voice like old times ? It does one good to
hear it."

Just at twilight, Berenger came down the steps, conducting
a graceful gentleman in black, to whom Lady Thistlewood's
instinct impelled her to make a low courtesy, before Berenger
had said, "Madam, allow me to present to you my friend,
the Abbe do Mericour."

" Is it the same V whispered Bessie to Annora. " Surely
he is translated ! "

" Only into Philip's old mourning suit. I know it by the
stain on the knee."

" Then it is translated too. ISTever did it look so well on
Philip ! See, our mother is quite gracious to him ; she
speaks to him as though he were some noble visitor to my

Therewith Sir Marmaduko came forward, shook Mericour
with all his might by the hand, shouted to him his hearty
thanks for the good ho had done his poor lad, and assured
him of a welcome from the very bottom of his heart. The
good knight would fain have kept both Berenger and his
friend at the Manor, but Berenger was far too impatient to
carry home his joy, and only begged the loan of a horse for
Mericour. Por himself, he felt as if fatigue or dejection
would never touch him again, and he kissed his mother and
his sisters, including Lucy, all round, with an effusion of

" Is that indeed your step-father 1 " said Mericour, as they
rode away together. " And the young man, is he your
half-brother ? "


" Brother wholly in dear love," said Berenger ; " no blood
relation. The little girls are my mother's children."

" Ah ! so largo a family all one 1 All at home 1 None in
convents 1 "

" Wo have no convents."

" Ah, no. But all at home ! All at peace ! This is a
strange place, your England."



" It is my mistress !
Since she is living, let the time run on
To good or had." — Cymheline.

Mericour found the welcome at Hurst Walwyn as kindly
and more polished than that at Combe Manor. He was
more readily understood, and found himself at his natural
element. Lord Walwyn, in esijecial, took much notice of
him, and conversed with him long and earnestly; while
Berenger, too hapjiy and too weary to exert himself to say
many words, sat as near Cecily as he could, treating her as
though she, who had never contradicted in his trust in
Eustacie, were the only person who could worthily share his
infinite relief, peace, and thankfulness.

Lord Walwyn said scarcely anytliing to his grandson that
night, only when Berenger, as usual, bent his knee to ask his
blessing on parting for the night, he said, gravely, " Son, I
am glad of your joy ; I fear me you have somewhat to pardon
your grandsire. Come to my library so soon as morning
prayers be over; we wiU speak then. Not now, my dear
lad," he added, as Berenger, with tears in his eyes, kissed
his hand, and would have begun ; " you are too much worn
and spent to make my deaf ears hear. Sleep, and take my
blessing with you."


It was a deliglit to see the young face freed from the
haggard, dejected expression that had been sadder than the
outward wounds ; and yet it was so questionable how far the
French connexion was acceptable to the family, that when
Berenger requested Mr. Adderley to make mention of the
mercy vouchsafed to him in the morning devotions, the
chaplain bowed, indeed, but took care to ascertain that his
so doing would be agreeable to my Lord and my Lady.

He found that if Lady "Walwyn was still inclined to regret
that the Frenchwoman was so entirely a wife, and thought
Berenger had been very hasty and imprudent, yet that the
old Lord was chiefly distressed at the cruel injustice he had
so long been doing this poor young thing. A strong sense of
justice, and long habit of dignified self-restraint, alone pre-
vented Lord Walwyn from severely censuring Mr. Adderley
for misrepyresentations ; but the old nobleman recollected that
Walsingham had been in the same story, and was too upright
to visit his own vexation on the honestly-mistaken tutor.

However, when Berenger made his appearance in the
study, looking as if not one night, but weeks, had been
spent in recovering health and spirit, the old man's first
word was a gentle rebuke for his having been left unaware
of how far matters had gone ; but he cut short the attempted
reply, by saying he knew it was chiefly owing to his own
overhasty conclusion, and fear of letting his grandson injure
himself by vainly discussing the subject. Xow, however, he
examined Berenger closely on all the proceedings at Paris
and at Montpipeau, and soon understood that the ceremony
had been renewed, ratifying the vows taken in infancy. The
old statesman's face cleared up at once ; for, as he explained,
he had now no anxieties as to the validity of the marriage
by English law, at least, in spite of the decree from Eome,
which, as he pointed out to his grandson, was wholly con-


tingent on the absence of subsequent consent, since tlie
parties bad come to an age for free will. Had be known of
tbis, tbe remarriage, be said, be sbould certainly bave been
less supine. Wby bad Berenger been silent 1

" I was commanded, sir. I fear I bave transgressed tbe com-
mand by mentioning it now. I must pray you to be secret."

" Secret, foolisb lad. Know you not that tbe rigbts of
your wife and your cbild rest upon it ? " and as tbe cbange in
Uerenger's looks sbowed that be bad not comprehended tbe
full importance of tbe second ceremony as nullifying tbe
papal sentence, wbicb could only quasb tbe first on tbe
ground of want of mutual consent, be proceeded, " Command,
quotba 1 AVbo there bad any right to command you, boy ? "

" Only one, sir."

" Come, this is no moment for lovers' folly. It was not
the girl, then? Then it could be no other than the
miserable King — was it so 1 "

*' Yes, sir," said Berenger. " He bade me as king, and
requested me as the friend who gave her to me. I could do
no otherAvise, and I thought it would be but a matter of a
few days, and that our original marriage was the only im-
portant one."

" Have you any parchment to prove it 1 "

" ISTo, sir. It passed but as a ceremony to satisfy tbe
Queen's scruples ere she gave my wife to me to take home.
I even think the King was displeased at her requiring it."

" Was Mr. Sidney a witness 1 "

"No, sir. None was present, save the King and Queen,
her German countess, and the German priest."

" The day 1 "

" Lammas-day."

"The 1st of August of the year of grace 1572. I wiU
write to Walsingham to obtain the testimony, if possible, of


king or of priest ; but belike tliey will deny it all. It was
part of the trick. Shame upon it that a king should dig
pits for so small a game as you, my poor lad ! "

" Yerily, my Lord," said Berenger, " I think the King
meant us kindly, and would gladly have sped us well away.
Methought he felt his bondage bitterly, and would fain have
dared to be a true king. Even at the last, he bade me to
his garde-robe, and all there were unhurt."

*' And wherefore obeyed you not ? "

" The carouse would have kept me too late for our flight."

" King's behests may not lightly be disregarded," said the
old courtier, with a smile. " However, since he showed such
seeming favour to you, surely you might send a i^etition to
liim privately, through Sir Francis "Walsingham, to let the
priest testify to your renewal of contract, engaging not to use
it to his detriment in France."

" I will do so, sir. Meanwhile," he added, as one who felt
he had earned a right to be heard in his turn, " I have your
permission to hasten to bring home my wife ? "

Lord Walwyn was startled at this demand from one still
so far from recovered as Berenger. Even this talk, eager as
the youth was, had not been carried on without much difiS-
culty, repetitions, and altered phrases', when he could not
pronounce distinctly enough to be understood, and the effort
"brought lines of pain into liis brow. He could take little
solid food, had hardly any strength for walking or riding;
and, though all liis wounds were whole, except that one
unmanageable shot in the mouth, he looked entirely unfit
to venture on a long journey in the very country that had
sent him home a year before scarcely aUve. Lord Walwj'^u
had already devised what he thought a far more practicable
arrangement ; namely, to send Mr. Adderley and some of my
Lady's women by sea, under the charge of Master Hobbs, a


shipmaster at "Weymouth, Avho traded with Bordeaux for
wine, and could easily put in near La Sablerie, and bring of?
the Lady and child, and, if she wished it, the pastor to whom
such a debt of gratitude was owing.

Berenger was delighted with the notion of the sea ratber
than the land journey ; but he pointed out at once that this
would remove all objection to his going in person. He had
often been out whole nights with the fishermen, and knew
that a sea-voyage would be better for his health than
anything, — certainly better than pining and languishing at
home, as he had done for months. He could not bear to
think of separation from Eustacie an hour longer than
needful ; nay, she had been cruelly entreated enough already ;
and as long as he could keep his feet, it was absolutely due
to her that he should not let others, instead of himself, go in
search of her. It would be almost death to him to stay
at home.

Lord Walwyn looked at the pallid, wasted face, with all
its marks of suffering and intense eagerness of expression,
increased by the difficulty of utterance and need of subduing
agitation. He felt that the long-misunderstood patience and
endurance had earned something; and he knew, too, that
for all his grandson's submission and respect, the boy, as a
husband and father, had rights and duties that would assert
themselves manfully if opposed. It was true that the sea-
voyage obviated fmany difficiilties, and it was better to
consent with a good grace than drive one hitherto so
dutiful to rebellion. He did then consent, and was rewarded
by the lightning flash of joy and gratitude in the bright
blue eyes, and the fervent pressure and kiss of his hand, as
Berenger exclaimed, " Ah ! sir, Eustacie will be such a
daughter to you. You should have seen how the Admiral
liked her !"


The news of Lord Wahvyn's consent raised much com-
motion in the family. Dame Annora was sure her poor son
Avould be murdered outright this time, and that nobody cared
because he was only Jier son ; and she strove hard to stir up
Sir Marmaduke to remonstrate with her father; but the
good Icnight had never disputed a judgment of "my Lord's"
in his whole life, and had even received his first wife from
his hands, when forsaken by the gay Annora, So she could
only ride over to Combe, be silenced by her father, as
effectually as if Jupiter had nodded, and bewail and murmur
to her mother till she lashed Lady Walwyn up into finding
every possible reason Avhy Berenger should and must sail.
Then she w^ent home, was very sharp with Lucy, and was
reckoned by saucy little Kan to have nineteen times
exclaimed, " Tilley-valley " in the course of one day.

The effect ujDon Philip was a vehement insistance on
going wdth his brother. He was sure no one else would
see to Berry half as well ; and as to letting Berry go to be
murdered again without him, he would not hear of it ; he
must go, he would not stay at home ; he should not study ;
no, no, he should be ready to hang himself for vexation, and
thinking what they were doing to his brother. And thus he
extorted from his kind-hearted father an avowal that he
should be easier about the lad if Phil were there, and that
he might go, provided Berry would have him, and my
Lord saw no objection. The first point was soon settled ;
and as to the second, there was no reason at all that Philip
should not go where his brother did. In fact, excepting for
Berenger's state of health, there was hardly any risk about
the matter. Master Hobbs, to whom Philip rode down
ecstatically to request him to come and speak to my Lord,
was a stout, honest, experienced seaman, who was perfectly
at home in the Bay of Biscay, and had so strong a feudal



feeling for tlie house of Walwyn, that he placed himself and
his best ship, the Throstle, entirely at his disposal. The
Throstle was a capital sailer, and carried arms quite sufficient
in English hands to protect her against Algerine corsairs or
Spanish pirates. He only asked for a week to make her
cabin ready for the reception of a Lady, and this time was
spent in sending a post to London, to obtain for Berenger
the permit from the Queen, and the passport from the
French Ambassador, without which he could not safely have
gone ; and, as a further precaution, letters were requested
from some of the secret agents of the Huguenots to facilitate
his admission into La Sablerie.

In the meantime, poor Mr. Adderley had submitted meekly
to the decree that sentenced him to weeks of misery on
board the Throstle, but to his infinite relief, an inspection
of the cabins proved the space so small, that Berenger
represented to his grandfather that the excellent tutor
would be only an incumbrance to himself and every one
else, and that with Philip he should need no one. Indeed,
he had made such a start into vigour and alertness during
the last few days that there was far less anxiety about him,
though with several sighs for poor Osbert. Cecily initiated
Philip into her simple rules for her patient's treatment in
case of the return of his more painful symptoms. The
notion of sending female attendants for Eustacie was also
abandoned : her husband's presence rendered them unneces-
sary, or they might be procured at La Sablerie ; and thus it
happened that the only servants whom Berenger was to take
with him were Humfrey Holt and John Smithers, the same
honest fellows whose steadiness had so much conduced to his
rescue at Paris.

Claude de Mericour had in the meantime been treated as
an honoured guest at Combe Walwyn, and was in good


esteem with its master. He would have set forth at once on
his journey to Scotland, but that Lord Walwyn advised him
to wait and ascertain the condition of his relatives there
before throwing himself on them. Berenger had, accordingly,
when writing to Sidney by the messenger above mentioned,
begged him to find out from Sir Eobert Melville, the
Scottish Envoy, all he could about the family whose desig-
nation he wrote down at a venture from Mcricour's lips.

Sidney returned a most affectionate answer, saying that he
had never been able to believe the little shepherdess a
traitor, and was charmed that she had proved herself a
heroine ; he should endeavour to greet her with all his best
powers as a poet, when she should brighten the English
Court ; but his friend, Master Spenser, alone was fit to
celebrate such constancy. As to M, I'Abbe de Mericour's
friends, Sir Eobert Melville had recognised their name at
once, and had pronounced them to be fierce Catholics and
Queensmen, so sorely pressed by the Douglases, that it was
believed they would soon fly the country altogether; and
Sidney added, what Lord Walwyn had already said, that to
seek Scotland rather than France as a resting-place in which
to weigh between Calvinism and CathoHcism, was only the
fire instead of the frying-pan ; since there the parties were
trebly hot and fanatical. His counsel was that M. de
Mericour should so far conform himself to the English
Church as to obtain admission to one of the universities, and,
through his uncle of Leicester, he could obtain for him an
opening at Oxford, where he might fully study the subject.

There was much to incline Mericom' to accept this counsel,
He had had much conversation with Mr. Adderley, and had
attended his ministrations in the chapel, and both satisfied
him far better than what he had seen among the French
Calvinists ; and the peace and family affection of the two

u 2


houses were like a new world to liim. But lie had not yet
made up liis mind to that ahsolute disavowal of his own
hranch of the Church, which alone could have rendered him
eligible for any foundation at Oxford. His attainments in
classics would, Mr. Adderley thought, reach such a standard
as to gain one of the very few scholarships open to foreigners;
and his nohle blood revolted at becoming a pensioner of
Leicester's, or of any other nobleman.

Lord Walwyn, upon this, made an earnest offer of his
hospitality, and entreated the young man to remain at Hurst
Walwyn till the return of Berenger and Philip, during which
time he might study under the directions of Mr. Adderley,
and come to a decision whether to seek reconciliation with
his native Church and his brother, or to remain in England.
In this latter case, he might perhaps accompany both the
youths to Oxford, for, in spite of Berenger's marriage, his
education was still not supposed to be complete. And when
Mericour still demurred with reluctance to become a burden
on the bounty of the noble house, he was reminded grace-

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe chaplet of pearls; or, The white and black Ribaumont (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 23)