Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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

. (page 6 of 23)
Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe chaplet of pearls; or, The white and black Ribaumont (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

fully deceived and cheated, and justice he would have ! He
had been deprived of a thing of his own, and he would assert
his right. He had been made to injure and disown the
creatm-e he was bound to protect, and he must console her
and compensate to her, were it only to redeem his honour.
He never even thought whether he loved her ; he merely
felt furious at the wrong he had sufi'ered and been made tc>
commit, and hotly bent on recovering what belonged to him.
He might even have plunged down among the ladies and
claimed her as his wife, if the young Abbe de Mericour, who
was two years older than he, and far less of a boy for hi^
years, had not joined him in his agitated walk. He then
learnt that all the Court knew that the daughter of the late
Marquis de N"id-de-Merle, Comte de Eibaumont, was called
by his chief title, but that her marriage to himself had been
forgotten by some and unknown to others, and thus that the
first error between the cousins had not been wonderful in a
stranger, since the Chevalier's daughter had always been
Mdlle. de Ribaumont. The error once made, Berenger's
distaste to Diane had been so convenient that it had been
carefully encouraged, and the desire to keep him at a dis-
tance from Court and throw him into the background



was accoiiiited for. The Abbe was almost as indignant as
Berenger, and assured him both of his sympathy and his

" I see no need for discretion," said Berenger. " I shall
claim my wife in the face of the sun."

"Take counsel first, I entreat," exclaimed Mericour.
" The Eibaumonts have much influence with the Guise
family, and now you have offended Monsieur."

" Ah ! where are those traitorous kinsmen ? " cried Be-

" Fortunately all are gone on an expedition with the
Queen-mother. You wild have time to think. I have heard
my brother say no one ever prospered who offended the
meanest follower of the house of Lorraine."

" I do not want prosperity, I only want my wife. I hope
I shall never see Paris and its deceivers again."

" Ah ! but is it true that you have applied to have the
marriage annulled at Eome V

" "We were both shamefully deceived. That can be

" A decree of his Holiness : you a Huguenot ; she an
heiress. All is against you. My friend, be cautious," ex-
claimed the young ecclesiastic, alarmed by his passionate
gestures. " To break forth now and be accused of brawling
in the palace precincts would be fatal — fatal — most
fatal ! "

'' I am as calm as possible," returned Berenger. " I mean
to act most reasonably. I shall stand before the King and
tell him openly how I have been tampered with, demanding
my wife before the whole Court."

" Long before you could get so far the ushers would have
dragged you away for brawling, or for maligning an honour-
able gentleman. You would have to finish your speech in


the Bastille, and it would be well if even your English friends
could get you out alive."

" Why, what a place is this !" began Berenger ; but again
M^ricour entreated him to curb himself; and his English
education had taught him to credit the house of Guise with
so much mysterious power and wickedness, that he allowed
himself to be silenced, and promised to take no open measures
till he had consulted the Ambassador.

He could not obtain another glimpse of Eustacie, and the
hours passed tardily till the break up of the party. Charles
could scarcely release Sidney from his side, and only let him
go on condition that he should join the next day in an
expedition to the hunting chateau of Montpipeau, to which
the King seemed to look forward as a great holiday and
breathing time.

When at length the two youths did return. Sir Francis
Walsingham was completely surprised by the usually tract-
able, well-behaved stripling, whose praises he had been
writing to his old friend, bursting in on him with the out-
cry, " Sir, sir, I entreat your counsel ! I have been fouUy

" Of how much 1 " said Sir Francis, in a tone of reprobation.

'« Of my wife. Of mine honour. Sir, your Excellency, 1
crave pardon, if I spoke too hotly," said Berenger, collecting
himself; " but it is enough to drive a man to frenzy."

"Sit down, my Lord de Pdbaumont. Take breath, and
let me know what is this coil. What hath thus moved him,
Mr. Sidney?"

" It is as he says, sir," replied Sidney, who had heard all as
they returned; " he has been greatly wronged. The Chevalier
de Eibaumont not only writ to propose the separation with-
out the lady's knowledge, but imposed his own daughter on
our friend as the wife he had not seen since infancy."


"There, sir," broke forth Berenger; "surely if I claira mine
own in the face of day, no man can withhokl her from me ! "

"Hold!" said Sir Francis. "What means this passion,
young sir 1 Methought you came hither convinced that both
the religion and the habits in which the young lady had
been bred up rendered your infantine contract most unsuit-
able. What hath fallen out to make this change in your

" That I w^as cheated, sir. The lady who palmed herself
off on me as my wife was a mere impostor, the Chevalier's
own daughter ! "

" That may be j but what know you of this other lady 1
Has she been bred up in faith or manners such as your
parents would have your wife 1 "

" She is my wife," reiterated Berenger. " My faith is
plighted to her. That is enough for me."

Sir Francis made a gesture of desjjair. " He has seen her,
I suppose," said he to Sidney.

"Yes truly, sir/' answered Berenger ; "and found that
she had been as greatly deceived as myself."

" Then mutual consent is wanting," said the statesman,
gravely musing.

" That is even as I say," began Berenger, but W^alsingham
held up his hand, and desired that he would make his full
statement in the presence of his tutor. Then sounding a
little whistle, the ambassador despatched a page to request
the attendance of Mr. Adderley, and recommended young
Eibaumont in the meantime to compose himself.

Used to being under authority as Berenger was, the some-
what severe tone did much to allay his excitement, and
remind him that right and reason were so entirely on his
side, that he had only to be cool and rational to make them
prevail. He was thus able to give a collected and coherent


account of his discovery that the part of his wife had been
assumed by her cousin Diane, and that the signature of both
the young pair to the application to the Pope had been
obtained on false pretences. That he had, as Sidney said,
been foully cozened, in both senses of the word, was as clear
as daylight ; but he was much angered and disappointed to
find that neither the ambassador nor his tutor could see that
Eustacie's worthiness was proved by the iniquity of her
relations, or that any one of the weighty reasons for the
expediency of dissolving the marriage was removed. The
whole affair had been in such good train a little before, that
Mr. .Adderley was much distressed that it should thus have
been crossed, and thought the new phase of affairs would
be far from acceptable at Combe Walwyn.

" Whatever is just and honourable must be acceptable to
my grandfather," said Berenger.

"Even so," said Walsingham; "but it were well to con-
sider whether justice and honour require you to overthrow
the purpose wherewith he sent you hither."

"Surely, sir, justice and honour require me to fulfil a
contract to which the other party is constant," said Berenger,
feeling very wise and prudent for calling that wistful,
indignant creature the other party.

" That is also true," said the ambassador, "provided she be
constant; but you own that she signed the requisition for
the dissolution."

" She did so, but under the same deception as myself, and
further mortified and aggrieved at my seeming faithlessness."

"So it may easily be represented," muttered "VValsiugham.

" How, sir?" cried Berenger, impetuously; " do you doubt
her truth 1 "

" Heaven forefend," said Sir Francis, " that I should
•discuss any fair lady's sincerity ! The question is how far


you are "bound. Have I understood you that you are-
veritably wedded, not by a mere contract of espousal 1 "

Berenger could produce no documents, for they had been
left at Chateau Leurre, and on his father's death the
Chevalier had claimed the custody of them ; but he remem-
bered enough of the ceremonial to prove that the wedding
had been a veritable one, and that only the papal inter^
vention could annul it.

Indeed an Englishman, going by English law, Avould own-
no power in the Pope, nor any one on earth, to sever the
sacred tie of wedlock ; but French courts of law would
probably ignore the mode of application, and would certainl}'
endeavour to separate between a Catholic and a heretic.

"I am English, sir, in heart and faith," said Berenger,
earnestly. " Look upon me as such, and tell me, am I
married or single at this moment ? "

" Married assuredly. More's the pity," said Sir Francis.

" And no law of God or man divides us without our own.
consent." There was no denying that the mutual consent of
the young pair at their present age was all that was wanting
to complete the inviolability of their marriage contract.

Berenger was indeed only eighteen, and Eustacie more
than a year younger, but there was nothing in their present
age to invalidate their marriage, for persons of their rank
were usually wedded quite as young or younger. Walsing-
ham was only concerned at his old friend's disappointment,
and at the danger of the young man running headlong into a
connexion probably no more suitable than that with Diane
de Eibaumont would have been. But it was not convenient
to argue against the expediency of a man's loving his own
wife j and when Berenger boldly declared he was not talking
of love but of justice, it was only possible to insist that he
should pause and see where true justice lay.


And thus tlie mucli jierplexed ambassador broke up tlie
conference with his hot and angry young guest.

"And Mistress Lucy 1" sighed Mr. Adderley, in

rather an inapropos fashion it must be owned ; but then he
had been fretted beyond endurance by his pupil striding up
and down his room, reviling Diane, and describing Eustacie,
while he was trying to write these uncomfortable tidings to
Lord Walwyn.

"Lucy! What makes you bring her up to me?" ex-
claimed Berenger. " Little Dolly would be as much to the
purpose ! "

" Only, sir, no resident at Hurst Walwyn could fail to
know what has been planned and desired."

"Pshaw!" cried Berenger ; "have you not heard that it
was a mere figment, and that I could scarce have wedded
Lucy safely, even had this matter gone as you wish. This is
the luckiest chance that could have befallen her."

"That may be," said Mr. Adderley; "I wish she may
think so — sAveet young lady ! "

" I tell you, Mr. Adderley, you should know better ! Lucy
has more sense. My aunt, whom she follows more than any
other creature, ever silenced the very sport or semblance of
love passages between us even as children, by calling them
unseemly in one wedded as I am. Brother and sister we have
ever been, and have loved as such— aye, and shall ! I know
of late some schemes have crossed my mother's mind — "

" Yea, and that of others."

"But they have not ruffled Lucy's quiet nature — trust
me ! And for the rest % What doth she need of me in
comparison of this poor child ? She — like a bit of her own
grey lavender in the shadiest nook of the walled garden,
tranquil there — sure not to be taken there, save to company
with fine linen in some trim scented coffer, whilst this fresh


glowing rose"bud has grown up pure and precious in tlie very
midst of the foulest corruption Christendom can show, and
if I snatch her not from it, I, the only living man who can,
look you, in the very bloom of her innocence and sweetness,
what is to be her fate? The very pity of a Christian, the
honour of a gentleman, would urge me, even if it were
not my most urgent duty ! "

Mr. Adderley argued no more. When Berenger came to
Lis duty in the matter he was in\'incible, and moreover all
the more provoking, because he mentioned it with a sort of
fiery sound of relish, and looked so very boyish all the time.
Poor Mr. Adderley ! feeling as -if his trust were betrayed,
loathing the very idea of a French Court lady, saw that his
pupil had been allured into a headlong passion to his own
misery, and that of all whose hopes were set on him, yet
preached to by this stripling scholar about duties and sacred
obligations ! Well might he rue the day he ever set foot in

Then, to his further annoyance, came a royal messenger
to invite the Baron de Eibaumont to join the expedition to
Montpipeau. Of course he must go, and his tutor must be
left behind, and who could tell into what mischief he might
not be tempted !

Here, however, Sidney gave the poor chaplain some com-
fort. He believed that no ladies were to be of the party,
and that the gentlemen were chiefly of the King's new
friends among the Huguenots, such as Coligny, his son-in-
law Teligny, Eochefoucauld, and the like, among whom the
young gentleman could not fall into any very serious harm,
and might very possibly be influenced against a Eoman
Catholic wife. At any rate, he would be out of the way,
and unable to take any dangerous steps.

Tliis same consideration so annoyed Berenger that he


"would have declined the invitation, if royal invitations could
have been declined. And in the morning, before setting out,
he dressed himself point device, and with Osbert behind
him marched down to the Croix de Lorraine, to call uj^ou
the Chevalier de Eibaumont. He had a very fine speech at
his tongue's end when he set out, but a good deal of it had
evaporated when he reached the hotel, and perhaps he was
not very sorry not to find the old gentleman within.

On his return, he indited a note to the Chevalier, explain-
ing that he had now seen his wife, Madame la Baronne de
Eibaumont, and had come to an understanding with her, by
which he found that it was under a mistake that the appli-
cation to the Pope had been signed, and that they should,
therefore, follow it up with a protest, and act as if no such
letter had been sent.

Berenger showed this letter to Walsingham, who, though
much concerned, could not forbid his sending it, " Poor
lad," he said to the tutor ; "'tis an excellently Avrit billet for
one so young. I would it were in a wiser cause. But he has
fairly the bit between his teeth, and there is no checking
him while he has this show of right on his side."

And poor Mr. Adderley could only beseech Mr. Sidney to
take care of him.


THE queen's pastoral.

" Either very gravely gay,
Or very gaily gi-ave."

W. M. Peaed.

MoNTPiPEAU, though in the present day a suburb of Paris,
was in the sixteenth century far enough from the city to
form a sylvan retreat, where Charles IX. could snatch a short
respite from the intrigues of his Court, under pretext of
enjoying his favourite sport. Surrounded with his favoured
associates of the Huguenot party, he seemed to breathe a
purer atmosphere, and to yield himself up to enjoyment
greater than perhaps his sad life had ever known.

He rode among his gentlemen, and the brilliant cavalcade
passed through poplar-shaded roads, clattered through villages^
and threaded their way through bits of forest still left for
the royal chase. The people thronged out of their houses,
and shouted not only " Vive le Ptoy," but " Vive I'Amu-al,"
and more than once the cry was added, " Spanish war, or civil
war !" The heart of France was, if not with the Eeformed,
at least against Spaia and the Lorrainers, and Sidney per-
ceived, from the conversation of the gentlemen round him,
that the present expedition had been devised less for the
sake of the sport, than to enabl6 the King to take measures
for emancipating himself from the thraldom of his mother.


and engaging the country in a war against Philip II. Sidney
listened, but Berenger chafed, feeling only that he Avas being
further carried out of reach of his explanation with his
kindred. And thus they arrived at Montpipeau, a tower, tall
and narrow, like all French designs, but expanded on the
o-round floor by wooden buildings capable of containing the
numerous train of a royal hunter, and surrounded by an
extent of waste land, without fine trees, though with covert
for deer, boars, and wolves sufficient for sport to royalty and
death to peasantry. Charles seemed to sit more erect in his
saddle, and to drink in joy with every breath of the thyme-
scented breeze, from the moment his horse bounded on the
hollow-sounding turf; and when he leapt to the ground,
with the elastic spring of youth, he held out his hands to
Sidney and to Teligny, crying " Welcome, my friends. Here
I am indeed a king ! "

It was a lovely summer evening, early in August, and
Charles bade the supper to be spread under the elms that
shaded a green lawn in front of the chateau. Etiquette was
here so far relaxed as to permit the sovereign to dine with
his suite, and tables, chairs, and benches were brought out,
drapery festooned in the trees to keep off sun and wind, the
King lay down in the fern and let his happy dogs fondle
him, and as a herd-girl passed along a vista in the distance,
driving her goats before her, Philip Sidney marvelled whether
it was not even thus in Arcadia.

Presently there was a sound of horses trampling, wheels
moving, a party of gaily gilded archers of the guard jingled
up, and in their midst was a coach, Berenger's heart seemed
to leap at once to his lips, as a glimpse of rufis, hats, and
silks dawned on him through the windows.

The King rose from his lair [among the fern, the Admiral
stood forward, all heads were bared, and from the coach-door


alighted the young Queen ; no longer pale, subdued, and
indifferent, but with a face shining with girlish delight, as
she held out her hand to the Admiral. " Ah ! this is well,
this is beautiful," she exclaimed; "it is like our happy chaces
in the Tyrol. Ah, Sire !" to the King, "how I thank you
for letting me be with you."

After her Majesty descended her gentleman-usher. Then
came the lady-in-waiting, Madame de Sauve, the wife of the
state secretary in attendance on Charles, and a triumphant,
coquettish beauty, then a fat, good-humoured Austrian dame,
always called Madame la Comtesse, because her German
name was unpronounceable, and without whom the Queen
never stirred, and lastly a little figure, rounded yet slight,
slender yet soft and plump, with a kitten-like alertness and
grace of motion, as she sprang out, collected the Queen's
properties of fan, kerchief, pouncet-box, mantle, &c., and
disappeared into the chateau, without Berenger's being sure
of anything but that her little black hat had a rose-coloured
feather in it.

The Queen was led to a chair placed under one of the
largest trees, and there Charles presented to her such of his
gentlemen as she was not yet acquainted with, the Baron de
Ribaumont among the rest.

" I have heard of M. de Eibaumont," she said, in a tone
that made the colour mantle in his fair cheek, and with a
sign of her hand she detained him at her side till the Kino-
had strolled away with Madame la Sauve, and no one
remained near but her German countess. Then changing
her tone to one of confidence, which the highbred homeliness
of her Austrian manner rendered inexpressibly engaging, she
said, " I must apologize, monsieur, for the giddiness of my
sister-in-law, which I fear caused you some embarrassment."

" Ah, madame," said Berenger, kneeling on one knee as she


addressed him, and his heart bounding with wild, undefined
hope ; "I cannot be grateful enough. It was that which
led to my being undeceived."

"It was true, then, that you were mistaken?" said the

" Treacherously deceived, madame, by those whose interest
it is to keep us apart," said Berenger, colouring with indig-
nation ; " they imposed my other cousin on me as my wife,
and caused her to think me cruelly neglectful."

" I know," said the Queen. " Yet Mdlle. de Eibaumont is
far more admired than my little blackbird."

" That may be, madame, but not by me."

" Yet is it true that you came to break off the marriage 1 "

"Yes, madame," said Berenger, honestly, ''but I had not
seen her."

"And now?" said the Queen, smiling.

" I would rather die than give her up," said Berenger.
" Oh, madame, help us of your grace. Every one is trying to
part us, every one is arguing against us, but she is my own
true wedded wife, and if you will but give her to me, all will
be well."

" I like you, M. de Eibaumont," said the Queen, looking
him full in the face. " You are like our own honest Germans
at my home, and I think you mean all you say. I had much
rather my dear little IS'id-de-Merle were with you than left
here, to become like all the others. She is a good little
Liehling, — how do you call it in French 1 She has told me
all, and truly I would help you with all my heart, but it is
not as if I were the Queen-mother. You must have recourse
to the King, who loves you well, and at my request included
you in the hunting-party."

Berenger could only kiss her hand in token of earnei5t
thanks before the repast was announced, and the King came


to lead her to the table spread beneath the trees. The whole
party supped together, but Berenger could have only a distant
A'iew of his little wife, looking very demure and grave by the
side of the Admiral.

But when the meal was ended, there was a loitering in the
woodland paths, amid heathy openings or glades trimmed
into discreet wildness fit for royal rusticity ; the sun set in
parting glory on one horizon, the moon rising in crimson
majesty on the other. A musician at intervals touched the
-guitar, and sang Spanish or Italian airs, whose soft or quaint
melody came dreamily through the trees. Then it was that
with beating heart Berenger stole up to the maiden as she
stood behind the Queen, and ventured to whisper her name
^nd clasp her hand.

She turned, their eyes met, and she let him lead her apart
into the wood. It was not like a lover's tryst, it was more
like the continuation of their old childish terms, only that
he treated her as a thing of his own, that he was bound to
secure and to guard, and she received him as her own lawful
but tardy protector, to be treated with perfect reliance but
with a certain playful resentment.

" You will not run away from me now," he said, making
full prize of her hand and arm.

" Ah ! is not she the dearest and best of queens f and the
large eyes were lifted up to him in such frank seeking of
sympathy that he could see into the depths of their clear
darkness. •

"It is her doing then. Though, Eustacie, when I knew
the truth, not flood nor fire should keep me long from you,
my heart, my love, my wife."

"What! wife in spite of those villanous letters?" she
said, trying to pout.

" Wife for ever, inseparably. Only you must be able to


swear that you knew nothing of the one that brought me

" Poor me ! 'No, indeed ! Tliere was Celine carried ofF
at fourteen, Madame de Blanchet a bride at fifteen ; all
marrying hither and thither ; and I — " she pulled a face
irresistibly droll — " I growing old enough to dress St. Cathe-
rine's hair, and wondering where was M. le Baron."

" They thought me too young," said Berenger, " to take on
me the cares of life."

" So they were left to me ? "

" Cares ! what cares have you but finding the Queen's

"Little you know!" she said, half contemptuous, half

" Nay, pardon me, ma mie. Who has troubled you 1 "

" Ah ! you would call it nothing to be beset by Narcisse ;
to be told one's husband is faithless, till one half believes it ;
to be looked at by ugly eyes ; to be liable to be teased any
day by Monsieur, or worse, by that mocking ape, M.' d'Alen-
qon, and to have nobody who can or will hinder it."

She was sobbing by this time, and he exclaimed, " Ah,
would that I could revenge all ! Never, never shall it be
again ! What blessed grace has guarded you through all V

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 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 6 of 23)