Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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

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French farthingale," cried the discreet Annora.

" Do you know, Dolly, I've orders to box your ears, and
send you in ? " added Berenger, as he lifted his little half-
sister from her perilous position, speaking, as he did so, with-
out a shade of foreign accent, though with much more rapid
utterance than was usual in Encrland, She clung; to him
without much alarm, and retaliated by an endeavour to box
his ears, while Philip, slowly making his way back to the
mainland, exclaimed, " Ah, there's no chance now ! Here


comes demure Mistress Lucy, and she is the worst mar-sport
of all."

A gentle girl of seventeen was drawing near, her fair deli-
oately-tinted complexion suiting well with her pale golden
hair. It was a sweet face, and was well set off by the sky-
hlue of the farthingale, which, with her white lace coif and
white ruff, gave her something the air of a speedwell flower,
more especially as her expression seemed to have caught
much of Cecily's air of self-restrained contentment. She
held a basketful of the orange pistils of crocuses, and at once
seeing that some riot had taken place, she said to the eldest
little girl, " Ah, JN'an, you had been safer gathering saffron
Avith me."

"^ay, brother Eerry came and made all well," said
Annora ; " and he had been shut up so long in the library
that he must have been very glad to get out."

"And what came of it?" cried Philip. . "Are you to go
and get yourself unmarried 1 "

"Unmarried!" burst out the sisters Annora and Elizabeth.

"What," laughed Philip, "you knew not that this is an
ancient husband, married years before your father and
mother 1 "

" But, why 1 " said Elizabeth, rather inclined to cry.
" "What has poor Lucy done that you should get yourself
unmarried from her 1 "

There was a laugh from both brothers ; but Berenger,
seeing Lucy's blushes, restrained himself, and said, " Mine
Avas not such good luck, Bess, but they gave me a little
French wife, younger than Dolly, and saucier still ; and as
she seems to Avish to be quit of me, Avhy, I shall be rid of

" See there, Dolly," said Philip, in a Avarning voice, " that
is the way you'll be ser\'ed if you do not mend yoiir ways."^


" But I thought," said Annora gravely, "that pooj)le were
luarried once for all, and it could not be undone."

" So said Aunt Cecily, but my Lord was proving to her
out of all law that a contract betw^een such a couple of babes
went for nought," said Eerenger.

" And shall you, indeed, see Paris, and all the braveries
there 1 " ashed Philip. " I thought my Lord would never
have trusted you out of his sight."

" And now it is to be only with Mr. Adderlej'," said
Berenger ; " but there will be rare doings to be seen at this
royal wedding, and maybe I shall break a lance there in your
honour, Lucy."

" And you'll bring me a French fan 1 " cried Bess.

" And me a pouncet-box 1 " added Annora.

"And me a French puppet, dressed Paris fashion?" said

"And what shall he bring Lucy ? " added Bess.

" I know," said Annora; " the pearls that mother is always
talking about ! I heard her say that Lucy should wear them
on her wedding-day."

" Hush ! " interposed Lucy, " don't you see my father
yonder on the step, beckoning to you 1 "

The children flew towards Sir Marmaduke, leaving Berenger
and Lucy together.

" Not a word to wish me good speed, Lucy, now I have
my wish 1 " said Berenger.

" Oh yes," said Lucy, " I am glad you should see all those
brave French gentlemen of whom you used to tell me."

"Yes, they will be all at court, and the good Admiral is
said to be in high favour. He will surely remember my

"And shall you see the lady?" asked Lucy, under her


" Eustacie ? Probably; but that will make no change. I
have heard too much of Vescadron de la Reine-mere to endure
the thought of a wife from thence, were she the Queen of
Beauty herself. And my mother says that Eustacie would
lose all her beauty as she grew up — like black-eyed Sue on
the down ; nor did I ever think her brown skin and fierce
black eyes to compare with you, Lucy. I could be well
content never to see her more ; but," and here he lowered
his voice to a tone of confidence, "my father, when near his
death, called me, and told me that he feared my marriage
would be a cause of trouble and temptation to me, and that I
must deal with it after my conscience when I was able to
judge in the matter. Something, too, he said of the treaty
of marriage being a burthen on his soul, but I know not
what he meant. If ever I saw Eustacie again, I was to give
her his own copy of Clement Marot's Psalter, and to tell her
that he had ever loved and prayed for her as a daughter; and,
moreover, my father added," said Berenger, much moved at
the remembrance it brought across him, " that if this matter
proved a burthen and perplexity to me, I was to pardon him
as one who repented of it as a thing done ere he had learnt
to weigh the whole world against a soul."

"Yes, you must see her," said Lucy.

" Well, what more were you going to say, Lucy ?

" I was only thinking," said Lucy, as she raised her eyes
to him, " how sorry she will be that she let them write that

Berenger laughed, pleased with the simplicity of Lucy's
admiration, but with modesty and commonsense enough to
answer, " JSTo fear of that, Lucy, for an heiress, with all the
court gallants of France at her feet."

" Ah., but j^ou ! "

" I am all very well here, where you have never seen any-


body but lubberly Dorset squires that never went to London,
nor Oxford, nor beyond their own furrows," said Berenger ;
"but depend upon it, she has been bred up to care for all the
airs and graces that are all the fashion at Paris now, and
will be as glad to be rid of an honest man and a Protestant
as I shall to be quit of a court puppet and a Papist. Shall
you have finished my point-cuffs next week, Lucy 1 Depend
upon it, no gentleman of them all will wear such dainty lace
of such a fancy as those will be."

And Lucy smiled, well pleased.

Coming from the companionship of Eustacie to that of
gentle Lucy had been to Berenger a change from perpetual
warfare to perfect supremacy, and his preference to his little
sister, as he had been taught to call her from the first, had
been loudly expressed. Brother and sister they had ever
since considered themselves, and only within the last few
months had possibilities been discussed among the elders of
the family, which oozing out in some mysterious manner,
had become felt rather than known among the young people,
yet without altering the habitual terms that existed between
them. Both were so young that love was the merest, vaguest
dream to them ; and Lucy, in her quiet faith that Berenger
was the most beautiful, excellent, and accomplished cavalier
the earth could afford, was little troubled about her own
future share in him. She seemed to be promoted to belong
to him just as she had grown up to curl her hair and wear
ruffs and farthiiigales. And to Berenger Lucy was a very
pleasant feature in that English home, where he had been far
happier than in the uncertainties of Chateau Leurre, between
his naughty playfellow, his capricious mother, and morose
father. If in England his lot was to be cast, Lucy was
acquiesced in willingly as a portion of that lot.



" A youth came riding towards a palace gate,
And from tlie palace came a child of sin
And took him by the curls and led him iii I
Where sat a company with heated eyes. "

Tennysok, a Vision of Sin.

It was in tlie month of June that Berenger de Eibaumont
first came in sight of Paris. His grandfather had himself
begun by taking him to London and presenting him to
Queen EUzabeth, from whom the lad's good mien procured
him a most favourable reception. She willingly promised
that on which Lord Walwyn's heart was set, namely, that his
title and rank should be continued to his grandson ; and an
ample store of letters of recommen dation' to Sir Francis
Walsingham, the Ambassador, and all others who could be
of service in the French court, were to do their utmost to
provide him with a favourable reception there.

Then, with Mr. Adderley and four or five servants, he had
crossed the Channel, and had gone first to Chateau Leurre,
where he was rapturously welcomed by the old steward Osbert.
The old man had trained up his son Landry, Berenger's foster-
brother, to become his valet, and had him taught all the arts
of hairdressing and surgery that were part of the profession
of a gentleman's body -servant ; and the youth, a smart, acute


young Xorman, became a valuable addition to tlio suite, tlie
guidance of which, through a foreign country, their young
master did not find very easy. jNIr, Adderley thought he
knew French very well, through books, but the language he
spoke was not available, and he soon fell into a state of
bewilderment rather hard on his pupil, who, thougli a very
good boy, and crammed very full of learning, Avas still
nothing more than a lad of eighteen in all matters of
prudence and discretion.

Lord Walwyn was, as we have seen, one of those whose
Church principles had altered very little and very gradually ;
and in the utter diversity of practice that prevailed in the
early years of Queen Elizabeth, his chaplain as well as the
rector of the parish, had altered no more than was absolutely
enjoined of the old ceremonial. If the poor Baron de Eibau-
mont had ever been Avell enough to go to church on a Sunday,
lie would perhaps have thovight himself still in the realms of
what he considered as darkness ; but as he had never openly
broken with the Gallic Church, Berenger had gone at once
from mass at Leurre to the Combe Walwyn service. There-
fore when he spent a Sunday at Bouen, and attended a
Calvinist service in the building that the Huguenots were
permitted outside the town, he was mucli disappointed in it ;
he thought its very fervour familiar and irreverent, and felt
himself much more at home in the cathedral into which he
strayed in the afternoon. And, on the Sunday he was at
Leurre, he went, as a part of his old home-habits, to mass at
the old round-arched church, where he and Eustacie had
played each other so many teasing tricks at his mother's feet,
and had received so many admonitory nips, and strokes of
her fan. All he saw there w^as not congenial to him, but he
liked it vastly better than the Huguenot meeting, ai.d was
not prepared to understand or enter into Mr. Adderley's


vexation ; Avlien the tutor assured him that the reverent
gestures that came naturally to him were regarded by he
Protestants as idolatry, and that he would be viewed as a
recreant from his faith. All Mr, Adderley hoped was that
no one would hear of it : and in this he felt himself disap-
pointed, when, in the midst of his lecture, there walked into
the room a little, withered, brown, dark-eyed man, in a
gorgeous dress of green and gold, who doffing a hat with an
umbrageous plume, precipitated himself, as far as he could
reach, towards Berenger's neck, calling him fair cousin and
dear baron. The lad stood, taken by surprise for a moment,
thinking that Tithonus must have looked just like this,
and skipped like this, just as he became a grasshopper ;
then he recollected that this must be the Chevalier de
Eibaumont, and tried to make up for his want of cordiality.
The old man had, it appeared, come out of Picardy, where he
lived on soupe maigre in a corner of the ancestral castle, while
his son and daughter were at court, the one in Monsieur's
suite, the other in that of the Queen-mother. He had come
purely to meet his dear young cousm, and render him all the
assistance in his power, conduct him to Paris, and give him

Berenger, who had begun to find six Englishmen a trouble-
some charge in Prance, was rather relieved at not being the
only Prench scholar of the party, and the Chevalier also
hinted to him that he spoke with a dreadful K'orman accent
that would never be tolerated at court, even if it were under-
stood by the way. Moreover, the Chevalier studied him all
over, and talked of Paris tailors and posture-masters, and,
though the pink of politeness, made it evident that there was
immensely too much of him. " It might be the custom in
England to be so tall ; here no one was of anything like such
a height, but the Duke of Guise. He, in his position, with


Lis air, could carry it off, but we must adapt ourselves as
best we can."

And his shrug and look of concern made Berenger for a
moment almost ashamed of that superfluous height of which
they were all so proud at home. Then he recollected himself,
and asked, " And why should not I be tall as well as M, de

" We shall see, fair cousin," he answered, with an odd
satirical bow ; " we are as Heaven made us. All lies in the
management, and if you had the advantages of training,
perhaps you could even turn your height into a grace."

" Am I such a great lubber ? " wondered Berenger ; " they
did not think so at home. ISI"o ; nor did the Queen. She
said I was a proper stripling ! Well, it matters the less, as
I shall not stay long to need their favour ; and I'll show
them there is some use in my inches in the tilt-yard. But if
they think me such a lout, what would they say to honest

The Chevalier seemed willing to take on him the whole
management of his " fair cousin." He inquired into the
amount of the rents and dues which old Osbert had collected
and held ready to meet the young Baron's exigencies ; and
which would, it seemed, be all needed to make his dress any
way presentable at court. The pearls, too, were inquired
for, and handed over by Osbert to his young Lord's keeping,
with the significant intimation that they had been demanded
when the young Madame la Baronne went to court ; but
that he had buried them in the orchard, and made answer
that they were not in the chateau. The contract of marriage,
which Berenger could just remember signing, and seeing
signed by his father, the King, and the Count, was not forth-
coming ; and the Chevalier explained that it was in the
hands of a notary at Paris. For this Berenger was not sorry.



His grandfather had desired him to master the contents,
and he thought he had thus escaped a very dry and useless

He did not exactly dislike the old Chevalier de Eibaumont.
The system on which he had been brought up had not been
indulgent, so that compliments and admiration were an
agreeable surprise to him ; and rebuffs and rebukes from
his elders had been so common, that hints, in the delicate
dressing of the old knight, came on him almost like gracious
civilities. There was no love lost between the Chevalier and
the chaplain, that was plain ; but how could there be
between an ancient French courtier and a sober English
divine ? However, to Mr. Adderley's great relief, no attempts
■were made on Berenger's faith, his kinsman even was dis-
posed to promote his attendance at such Calvinist places of
worship as they passed on the road, and treated him in all
things as a mere guest, to be patronised indeed, but as much
an alien as if he had been born in England. And yet there
was a certain deference to him as head of the family, and a
friendliness of manner that made the boy feel him a real
relation, and all through the journey it came naturally that
he should be the entire manager, and Berenger the paymaster
on a liberal scale.

Thus had the travellers reached the neighbourhood of Paris,
when a jingling of chains and a trampling of horses announced
the advance of riders, and several gentlemen with a troop *of
servants came in sight.

All were gaily dressed, with feathered hats, and short
Spanish cloaks jauntily disposed over one shoulder; and
their horses were trapped with bright silvered ornaments.
As they advanced, the Chevalier exclaimed : " Ah ! it is my
son ! I knew he would come to meet me." And, simulta-
neously, father and son leapt from their horses, and rushed


into each, other's arms. Eerenger felt it only cotirteous to
dismount and exchange embraces with his cousin, but with a
certain sense of repulsion at the cloud of perfume that seemed
to surround the younger Chevalier de Eibaumont ; the ear-
rings in his ears ; the general air of delicate research about
his riding- dress, and the elaborate attention paid to a small,
dark, sallow foce and figure, in which the only tolerable
feature was an intensely black and piercing pair of eyes.

" Cousin, I am enchanted to welcome you."

" Cousin, I thank you."

" Allow me to present you." And Eerenger bowed low in
succession several times in reply to salutations, as his cousin
:N'arcisse named M. d'O, M. de la Valette, M. de Pibrac, M.
I'Abb^ de Mericour, who had done him the honour to accom-
pany him in coming out to meet his father and M. le Baron.
Then the two cousins remounted, something was said to the
Chevalier of the devoirs of the demoiselles, and they rode
on together bandying news and repartee so fast, that Eerenger
felt that his ears had become too much accustomed to the
more deliberate English speech to enter at once into what
caused so much excitement, gesture, and wit. The royal
marriage seemed doubtful — the Pope refused his sanction ;
nay, but means would be found — the King would not be
impeded by the Pope ; Spanish influence — nay, the King
had thrown himself at the head of the Eeformed — he was
bewitched with the grim old Coligny — if order were not
soon taken, the Louvre itself would become a temple.

Then one of the party turned suddenly and said, "Eut
I forget, Monsieur is a Huguenot 1 "

" I am a Protestant of the English Church," said Eerenger,
rather stiffly, in the formula of his day.

" "Well, you have come at the right moment. 'Tis all for
the sermon now. If the little Abbe there wishes to sail with



a fair wind, he should throw away his breviary and study
his Calvin."

Berenger's attention was thus attracted to the Abbe de
Mericour, a young man of about twenty, whose dress was
darker than that of the rest, and his hat of a clerical cut,
though in other respects he was equipped with the same point-
device elegance.

" Calvin would never give him the rich abbey of Selicy,"
said another ; " the breviary is the safer speculation."

" Ah ! M, de liibaumont can tell you that abbeys are no
such securities in these days. Let yonder Admiral get the
upper hand, and we shall see Mericour, the happy cadet of
eight brothers and sisters, turned adrift from their convents.
What a fatherly spectacle M. le Marquis will present ! "

Here the Chevalier beckoned to Berenger, who, riding
forward, learnt that N'arcisse had engaged lodgings for him
and his suite at one of the great inns, and Berenger returned
his thanks, and a proposal to the C'hevalier to become his
guest. They were by this time entering the city, where the
extreme narrowness and dirt of the streets contrasted with
the grandeur of the palatial courts that could be partly seen
through their archways. At the hostel they rode under such
an arch, and found themselves in a paved yard that would
have been grand had it been clean. Privacy had scarcely
been invented, and the party were not at all surprised to find
that the apartment prepared for them was to serve both day
and night for Berenger, the Chevalier, and Mr. Adderley,
besides having a truckle-bed on the floor for Osbert. Meals
were taken in public, and it was now one o'clock — just dinner
time ; so after a hasty toilette the three gentlemen descended,
the rest of the party having ridden off to their quarters, either
as attendants of Monsieur or to their families. It was a
sumptuous meal, at which a great number of gentlemen were


present, coming in from rooms hired over sliops, &c. — all,
as it seemed, assembled at Paris for the marriage festivities ;
but Ijcrenger began to gather that they were for the most
part adherents of the Guise party, and far from friendly to
the Huguenot interest. Some of them appeared hardly to
tolerate Mr. Adderley's presence at the table ; and Berengei-,
though his kinsman's patronage secured civil treatment, felt
much out of his element, confused, unable to take part in the
conversation, and sure that he was where those at home did
not wish to see him.

No sooner was the dinner over than he rose and expressed
his intention of delivering his letters of introduction in person
to the English ambassador and to the Admiral de Coligny,
whom, as his father's old friend and the hero of his boyhood,
he was most anxious to see. The Chevalier demurred to this.
Were it not better to take measures at once for making him-
self presentable, and Narcisse had already supplied him with
directions to the fashionable haircutter, &c. It would be
taken amiss if he went to the Admiral before going to present
himself to the King.

" And I cannot see my cousins till I go to court ? " asked

" Most emphatically No. Have I not told you that the
one is in the suite of the young Queen, the other in that of
the Queen-mother 1 I will myself present you, if only you
will give me the honour of your guidance."

" With all thanks, Monsieur," said Berenger ; " my grand-
father's desire was that I should lose no time in going to his
old friend Sir Francis Walsingham, and I had best submit
myself to his judgment as to my appearance at court."

On this point Berenger was resolute, though the Chevalier
recurred to the danger of any proceeding that might be unac-
ceptable at court. Berenger, harassed and impatient, repeated


that he did not care about the court, and wished merely to
iolfil his purpose and return, at which his kinsman shook his
head and shrugged his shoulders, and muttered to himself,
' ' Ah, what does he know ! He will regret it when too late ;
hut I have done my best."

Berenger paid little attention to this, but calling Landry
Osbert, and a couple of his men, he bade them take their
fc words and bucklers, and escort him in his walk through
Paris. He set off with a sense of escape, but before he had
made many steps, he was obliged to turn and warn Humfrey
and Jack that they were not to walk swaggering along the
streets, with hand on sword, as if every Frenchman they saw
was the natural foe of their master.

Very tall were the houses, very close and extremely filthy
the streets, very miserable the beggars ; and yet here and
there was to be seen the open front of a most brilliant shop,
and the thoroughfares were crowded with richly-dressed
gallants. Even the wider streets gave little space for the
career of the gay horsemen who rode along them, still less for
the great, cumbrous, though gaily-decked coaches, in which
ladies appeared glittering with jewels and fan in hand, with
tiny white dogs on their knees.

The persons of whom Berenger inquired the way all un-
capped most respectfully, and replied with much courtesy;
but when the hotel of the English ambassador had been
pointed out to him, he hardly believed it, so foul and squalid
was the street, where a large nail-studded door occupied a
wide archway. Here was a heavy iron knocker, to which
Osbert applied himself. A little door was at once opened
by a large, powerful John Bull of a porter, whose looks ex-
panded into friendly welcome when he heard the English
tongue of the visitor. Inside, the scene was very unlike
that without. The hotel was built round a paved court.


adorned with statues and stone vases, with yews and cypresses
in them, and a grand flight of steps led up to the grand
centre of the house, around which were collected a number
of attendants, wearing the Walsingham colours. Among
these Eerenger left his two Englishmen, well content to have
fallen into an English colony. Landry followed him to an
anteroom, while the groom of the chambers went forward to
announce the visitor, Eerenger waiting to know whether the
Ambassador would be at liberty to see him.

Almost immediately the door was re-opened, and a grey-
headed, keen-looking gentleman, rather short in stature, but
nevertheless very dignified-looking, came forward with out-
stretched hands — " Greet you well, my Lord de Eibaumont.

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe chaplet of pearls; or, The white and black Ribaumont (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 23)