Charles Major.

Yolanda: Maid of Burgundy online

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answered only to the bird. After many futile efforts to make her speak,
he said: -

"If you won't talk to me, I'll go back to the arbor."

She turned to the bird: "We are willing, Caesar, aren't we - if he can
go."

Max laughed and started toward the arbor.

"Tell him to come back, Caesar. Tell him to come back," exclaimed
Yolanda.

"I take no orders from a bird," declared Max, with pretended
seriousness. Then she turned toward him and her face softened. She
smiled and the dimples came, though there was a nervous tremor in the
upturned corners of her mouth that belied her bantering air and brought
Max quickly to her side. I saw the pantomime, though I did not hear the
words; and I knew that neither Max nor any other man could withstand the
quivering smile that played upon Yolanda's lips and the yearning
invitation that was in her eyes. If Max did not soon take himself away
from Burgundy and lead himself out of this temptation, I feared that in
the end he would cast aside his ancient heritage, rend his sacred family
ties, and forego everything he possessed in response to this mighty cry
of nature, offering the one chance in life for happiness.

"Now you will give me the bird - I know you will," exclaimed Yolanda.

A remnant of the pout still hovered about her lips, doing battle with
the dimples of a smile.

"I have already given him to the duke," answered Max.

"Tell the duke the bird escaped, or died suddenly of an apoplexy. Tell
him anything you like, but give me the hawk," said Yolanda.

"Would you have me lie, Fräulein?" asked Max, amused at her persistency.
"I cannot do that, even for you. If you insist upon having the bird, I
may go to the duke and withdraw my gift."

"Would you do that for me, Sir Max?" she asked, eagerly.

"Ay, and a great deal more, Fräulein. I tremble at the thought of what
you could make me do," he answered.

"In the fiend's name, let the duke have the bird," cried Yolanda. "He
will pout more than I if you don't. He is of a sullen nature."

"Do you know the duke?" asked Max, suspecting for the first time that
Yolanda might be more intimate about the court than he had supposed.

"I have heard much of him from those who know him," answered Yolanda.

So the duke got Caesar.

The next morning Hymbercourt came to the inn to accompany us to the
castle. While we were sipping a mug of wine at a garden table,
he said: -

"I do not want to be officious in your affairs, but I am convinced that
it will be well for you to tell the duke who you are. If you do not see
fit to do so, it were wise in you to leave Burgundy at your earliest
convenience."

"I cannot leave within a month," said Max. I knew the cause of his
detention, and, ignoring his remark, turned to Hymbercourt: -

"Do you want to give the reasons for your advice?"

"Yes, I am quite willing," he answered, "but I would not have my words
repeated."

"Of that you may rest assured," I answered.

"If you do not tell the duke who you are," said Hymbercourt, "he will
soon learn it from our Italian friends, who have the fiend's own energy
in the pursuit of vengeance. They will discover who you are, and you
will lose the advantage of a frank avowal. Duke Charles admires Sir Max,
but our liege lord is capricious and can easily fancy that others are
plotting to injure him. I am sure that he will now receive the Count of
Hapsburg graciously if you tell him that Sir Max is that person. What he
would do were he to learn the fact highly colored by his Italians, I
cannot say. These mercenaries have a strange influence over His Grace,
and there is not a nobleman in Burgundy who does not fear them."

"How will the duke feel concerning the old proposition of marriage?" I
asked.

"That, I hope, will be of no moment now, since the duke is arranging for
the immediate celebration of this marriage with the Dauphin. I am given
to understand that His Grace, the Bishop of Cambrai, secretary to the
duke, has received orders to draught a letter to King Louis expressing
our lord's pleasure. King Louis is so eager for the marriage, which will
once more bring Burgundy to the French kingship, that Duke Charles deems
it sufficiently courteous to express his intentions to Louis, rather
than to request the king's compliance. The duke's contempt for the king
of France is so great that he causes the letter to be written in
English, a language which Charles loves because of the English blood in
his veins, and which Louis, with good reason, hates."

"Has this letter been despatched?" I asked, concealing as well as I
could my deep concern.

Max heard Hymbercourt's statement without even a show of interest. Had
he suspected that Hymbercourt was speaking of Yolanda's marriage, there
surely would have been a demonstration.

"No," answered Hymbercourt, "the letter has not been sent, but the duke
will despatch it at once. It will probably be the chief business of this
morning's audience. The duke wants the marriage celebrated before he
leaves for Switzerland. That will be within three or four weeks. I am
not informed as to the details of the ceremony, but I suppose the
princess will be taken to St. Denis, and will there be married. The
unfortunate princess, doubtless, has not yet been told of her impending
fate, though she may have heard of it by rumor. There will be tears and
trouble when she learns of it, for she has a strong dash of her father's
temper. But - " He shrugged his shoulders as if to say that her tears
would count for nothing.

Hymbercourt's words took the heart out of me; and when he left us for a
moment, I urged Max to leave Burgundy at once.

"I must see Yolanda and ask her to release me from my promise before I
go," he said.

"You are surely not so weak as to allow a burgher girl to hold you?" I
asked.

"The girl does not hold me," he answered. "I was so weak as to give my
promise, and that holds me."

"She will give you your release if you demand it," I suggested.

"If she does, I will go with you to-morrow. It is time that we were out
of Burgundy. I will forego even my combat with Calli to get away. I
should not have given Yolanda my promise; but she is so persuasive, and
I pity her, and - and, oh! Karl, I - the trouble is, I love her, and it is
like death to part from her forever. That is my weakness."

The poor, suffering boy leaned forward on the table and buried his face
in his arms.

"That isn't your weakness, Max, it's your strength," I responded. "Few
men are so unfortunate as to escape it. God must pity those who do. It
may be well to tell the duke who you are. If he is displeased, we may
leave Burgundy at once. If he receives you graciously, we may remain and
you may fight this Calli. That is the one duty that holds you
in Peronne."

My heart was hardened with years, and its love of just vengeance was
stronger than young Max could feel. Besides, he was possessed by a
softer passion; and though he felt it his pleasant duty to fight Calli,
vengeance held second place in his breast.

Hymbercourt returned, and we started for the castle accompanied by our
squires; all riding in fine state.

We arrived at the great hall before the duke had arisen from the morning
audience, and waited unobserved in the back part of the chamber. Our
Irish squire, Michael, carried Caesar, hooded and belled. He was held by
a golden chain that we had bought from a goldsmith, notwithstanding our
purse was growing dangerously light.

There was a great stir in the hall as we entered. The courtiers were
buzzing like a swarm of bees discussing a new queen. Evidently matters
of importance had been under consideration. Campo-Basso, my Lord de
Vergy, seneschal of Burgundy, and the Bishop of Cambrai, clerk to the
duke, were standing on the second step of the dais, each with hand
resting on knee, and leaning eagerly toward the duke. Charles and these
councillors were speaking in low tones, and the courtiers of less degree
were taking advantage of the intermission in public business to settle
the great question among themselves. Each petty courtier felt that he
could offer a suggestion that would be of great value, could he but gain
the duke's ear.

After a little time, Charles saw Hymbercourt with us, and sent a page to
fetch him. Hymbercourt left us, and soon we saw him in whispered
conversation with the duke. Soon after Hymbercourt had gone to the
ducal throne, Calli, with two Italians, stopped four paces from where we
were standing. He gazed insolently at Max, and said in Italian to his
companions: -

"There is the loutish outlander, who boasted before the duke that he
would fight me. He is a big callow fellow, and it would be a shame to
stick the swine."

Max, who understood the Italian language sufficiently to grasp Calli's
meaning, flushed angrily, but I touched his arm and he turned his back
upon the fellow. Then I spoke in tones that Calli could not fail
to hear: -

"Never turn your face from a cowardly foe, Max. He will, if he can, stab
you in the back. Your revenge will come when you send his soul to hell."

Calli grasped his dagger hilt and muttered something about the duke's
presence. The incident determined us in the course Max should take. He
should tell the duke who he was, remain in Burgundy to kill this fellow
Calli, and to meet such other fortune as the Fates might have in
store for him.

Hymbercourt and the duke spoke together for the space of five minutes,
evidently discussing a parchment that Charles held in his hand. Then the
duke resumed his seat, and handed the parchment to the Bishop of
Cambrai, when all save His Reverence stepped from the dais to the
floor. A herald commanded silence, and the bishop spoke: -

"It is the will of our most gracious lord that I announce to the court
the impending marriage of Her Grace, the Princess, Mademoiselle de
Burgundy, to the princely Dauphin of France, son to our lord's royal
ally, King Louis. His Grace of Burgundy hopes within three weeks to open
his campaign against the Swiss, and it is his intention to cause the
marriage ceremony to take place before his departure. When the details
have been arranged, they will be announced to the court."

The bishop had barely stopped speaking when the shutter in the chancel
of the ladies' gallery above the throne opened, and a voice rang through
the vast audience hall, like the tones of an alarm bell: -

"Make one more announcement, please, my Lord Bishop. Say that if this
wondrous ceremony is to come off within three weeks, the Dauphin of
France must be content with a dead bride."

No one saw the face of the speaker. The shutter closed, and a deep
silence fell upon the room. The duke sprang angrily to his feet; his
face was like a thunder-cloud. He looked toward the ladies' gallery, and
stood for a moment like the incarnation of wrath. A puzzled expression
followed the glare of anger; and within a moment he laughed, and waved
his hands to the heralds, directing them to cry the rising. The
audience was dismissed, and the courtiers left the hall, laughing in
imitation of their lord and master.

Nothing could be more indicative of cruelty than the laughter that
followed the passionate protest of the unhappy princess. To the duke,
and of course to his courtiers, the girl's suffering and the fate that
was in store for her were mere matters of mirth. They laughed at her
pain as savages laugh at the agonies of a tortured victim.

I was so startled by the cry of the princess that for a time I could not
think coherently. My first clear thought was of Yolanda. If she were the
princess, this sacrifice that is practised without a protest throughout
the world had come home to me, for Yolanda had nestled in my heart. That
she, the gentle, the tender, the passionate, the sensitive, should be
the victim of this legalized crime; that she, innocent of all fault,
save that she had been born a girl, should be condemned to misery
because the laws of chivalry and the laws of God, distorted by men to
suit their purposes, declared her to be the chattel of her father, moved
me as I was never moved before. My sympathy for this rare, sweet girl,
so capable of joy, so susceptible to pain, almost brought tears to my
eyes; for I could not help thinking that she was the suffering princess.

When the courtiers had left the great hall Hymbercourt, Max, and I
approached the duke. Hymbercourt and I made obeisance on bended knee,
but Max saluted the duke with a low bow. After the duke had spoken,
Max said: -

"I hope Your Grace has not forgotten your promise to honor me by
accepting the falcon you admired yesterday."

"I have not, my unknown friend," answered the duke.

Max took the bird from Michael and offered it to Charles, who accepted
the gift graciously. I looked toward Hymbercourt and he, understanding
my unspoken word, again bent his knee before the duke: -

"My gracious lord, it is the desire of this young knight that he be
presented to you in due form under his own name and title, though he
would humbly ask that he be permitted to retain the name by which he is
known in Burgundy. His reasons for so doing are good, though they would
not interest Your Grace. Have I my lord's permission to present him?"

"In God's name, yes!" exclaimed the duke, stirred by some irritation,
but spurred by curiosity.

"My lord," said Hymbercourt, speaking to the duke and extending his hand
toward Max, "it is my great honor to present to Your Grace his highness,
Maximilian, Count of Hapsburg."

"By the just God, my lord, you certainly have given us a surprise," said
the duke, stepping back and making no offer of his hand to Max. He
passed the falcon to a page, and continued, "What business have these
men at my court?"

"None, Your Grace, absolutely none," answered Max, standing proudly
before the duke and steadfastly meeting his gaze. "It was my desire to
see the world and to learn something of its people before I undertook to
govern my own. My country is not rich and fat like this great land of
Burgundy. I have neither the means nor the inclination to travel in
state; so my dear friend and instructor, Sir Karl de Pitti, undertook to
guide me and teach me in this journey to the outer world. I would rather
have missed seeing all other countries than Burgundy, and of all the
princes of the world Your Grace was and is to me the most interesting.
Your hand is the strongest, your courage the bravest, and your land the
richest in Europe. We heard at Metz that you were here in Peronne; and
now, my lord, you understand what business I have in Burgundy."

I had never given the boy credit for so much adroitness. What the duke's
intentions were, immediately after Hymbercourt presented Max, I could
not have told, but his words sounded ominous, and the expression of his
face was anything but pleasant. Max, though not quarrelsome, was not
given to the soft answer that turneth away wrath; but on this occasion
discretion came to his rescue, and he made the soft answer with a
dignity and boldness that won Charles's respect. The duke's face
softened into a half-smile, - if anything so hard as his face can be said
to soften, - and he offered his hand to Max. He withdrew it almost
instantly from Max's grasp, and said: -

"Are you sure my armament against Switzerland is no part of the reason
for your presence in Burgundy?" Like all highly pugnacious men, he was
suspicious. "I have been told your father is a friend to the Swiss."

"Does Your Grace mean to ask if I am here in the capacity of a spy, as
Calli has charged?" asked Max, lifting his head and looking boldly into
the duke's face.

"I do not know," said the duke, hesitatingly. "I do not say you are. I
do not think you are, but - "

"I am glad Your Grace does not think we are spies, and am pleased to
believe that you would not put so great an insult upon us," answered
Max, "else we should ask permission to leave Burgundy at once. I am sure
my lord knows we are not spies. If Your Lordship had a son, would you
send him forth as a spy for the sake of Burgundy? Much less would you do
it for another land. Your Grace is misinformed. My father is not a
friend to the Swiss; neither does he hate them, though perhaps he has
better cause to do so than has Your Grace. Your quarrel with the Swiss
is over a few cart-loads of sheepskins. These same Swiss took from my
father our ancient homestead, the old Castle of Hapsburg, and the
surrounding territory of Aargau."

"I have heard of the spoliation, and have often wondered at your
father's meek submission," said the duke, with an almost imperceptible
sneer. Like Richard the Lion-hearted, of England, butchery was this
duke's trade, and he despised a man who did not practise it on all
possible occasions. A pretext for a quarrel is balm to the soul of
a hero.

"The mountains of Switzerland, my lord, are the graveyard of foreign
soldiers," Max replied. "Old Hapsburg Castle is a mere hawks' crag, as
its name implies, and the half-score of mountain peaks my father lost
with it are not worth the life of his humblest subject. He loves his
people, and would not shed their blood to soothe his wounded pride. The
man who makes war should fight in the front rank."

"There is where I fight, young sir," returned Charles.

"The world knows that fact, my lord," responded Max. "My father cannot
fight at the head of his army, therefore, he makes war only in defence
of his people's hearths. It is possible that after consulting with my
friend, Sir Karl, I may ask the honor of serving with Your Grace against
these Swiss who despoiled my house. Is Your Grace now satisfied that we
are not Swiss spies? And are we welcome to sojourn for a time in
Peronne? Or shall we leave Burgundy and return to my father in Styria,
to tell him that you turned a guest and a friend from your door?"

"You are very welcome, Sir Count, and you, Sir Karl," answered the duke,
giving his right hand to Max and familiarly offering me his left. This
hard duke had been beaten into a gracious mood by Max's adroit mixture
of flattery and boldness.

A soft answer may turn away wrath, but it may also involve the
disagreeable necessity of turning the other cheek. If it be not tempered
by spirit, it is apt to arouse contempt. The duke remained silent for
the space of a minute or two. He was evidently struggling to suppress a
good impulse. Then he turned to me and said, laughingly: -

"By my soul, Sir Karl, you have brought us a Roland and a Demosthenes in
one. Where learned you your oratory, Sir Count?"

"From a just cause, my lord," quickly retorted Max.

"I fear I have had the worst of this encounter, Hymbercourt," said the
duke, smiling, "and I see nothing left for me but apology."

"I sincerely hope Your Grace will not embarrass us by apologizing," said
Max.

Charles hesitated, gave a short laugh, and apologized by placing his
hand on Max's shoulder.

"Let us go into the little parley room," he said. "Hymbercourt, lead the
way with Sir Max; Sir Karl and I will follow presently."

Max and Hymbercourt passed out at a small door near the throne, and the
duke turned to me: -

"I like the boy's modest boldness, and I hope that I may induce him and
you to accompany me against the Swiss. I would not accept his offer made
on the spur of the moment, but if, on talking it over with him, you make
up your minds to come with me, I will make it well worth your while.
This war will be but a May-day outing. We'll speak on the subject again.
Meantime, I understand that you and Sir Max wish to remain incognito
at Peronne?"

"We do, Your Grace," I responded. "I fear it will be impossible to
accept the honor you have offered, but, as you have graciously said, we
will, if you wish, speak of it again."

"I am content," said the duke. "Let us follow Hymbercourt."



CHAPTER XIV

SIR KARL MEETS THE PRINCESS

The duke and I passed through the door by which Max and Hymbercourt had
left the hall, and entered a narrow passageway eight or ten yards long,
having two doors at the farther end. The door to the right, I soon
learned, led to the little parley room where Max and Hymbercourt had
gone. The door to the left opened into a staircase that led to the
apartments of the duchess. A narrow flight of stone steps that led from
the ladies' gallery opened into the passage, and, just as the duke
entered in advance of me, two ladies emerged from the stairs. They did
not see me in the shadow, and supposed that the duke was alone. The
taller, who I soon learned was the duchess, hastened down the passage
and through the door leading to her apartments. The smaller I at once
recognized. She was Yolanda.

"Father, you cannot mean to send me into France," she cried, trying to
detain the duke. "Kill me, father, if you will, but do not send me to
that hated land. I shall not survive this marriage a fortnight, and if I
die, Burgundy will go to our cousin of Bourbon."

"Don't hinder me, daughter," returned the duke, impatiently. "Don't you
see we are not alone?"

Yolanda turned in surprise toward me, and the duke said: -

"Go by the right door, Sir Karl. I will be with you at once. I wish to
speak with the duchess."

He hurriedly followed his wife and left me alone with Yolanda.

"Fräulein, my intrusion was unintentional," I stammered. "I followed the
duke at his request."

"Fräulein!" exclaimed the girl, lifting her head and looking a very
queen in miniature. "Fräulein! Do you know, sir, to whom you speak?"

"I beg your pardon, most gracious princess," I replied. "Did you not
command me to address you as Fräulein or Yolanda?"

"My name, sir, is not Yolanda. You have made a sad mistake," said the
princess, drawing herself up to her full height. Then I thought of
Yolanda's words when she told me that she resembled the princess as one
pea resembles another.

The girl trembled, and even in the dim light I could see the gleam of
anger in her eyes. I was endeavoring to frame a suitable apology when
she spoke again: -

"Fräulein! Yolanda! Sir, your courtesy is scant to give me these names.
I do not know you, and - did I not tell you that if you made this mistake
with the princess you would not so easily correct it? That
I - you - Blessed Virgin! I have betrayed myself. I knew I should. I knew
I could not carry it out."

She covered her face with her hands and began to weep, speaking while
she sobbed: -

"My troubles are more than I can bear."

I wished to reassure her at once: -

"Most Gracious Princess - Yolanda - your secret is safe with me. You are
as dear to me as if you were my child. You have nestled in my heart and
filled it as completely as one human being can fill the heart of
another. I would gladly give my poor old life to make you happy. Now if
you can make use of me, I am at your service."

"You will not tell Sir Max?" she sobbed.

She was no longer a princess. She was the child Yolanda.

"As I hope for salvation, no, I will not tell Sir Max," I responded.

"Sometime I will give you my reasons," she said.

"I wish none," I replied.

After a short pause, she went on, still weeping gently: -

"If I must go to France, Sir Karl, you may come there to be my Lord
Chamberlain. Perhaps Max should not come, since I shall be the wife of
another, and - and there would surely be trouble. Max should not come."

She stepped quickly to my side. Her hand fell, and she grasped mine for
an instant under the folds of her cloak; then she ran from the passage,
and I went to the room where Max and Hymbercourt were waiting.

After a few moments the duke joined us. Wine was served, but Charles did
not drink. On account of the excessive natural heat of his blood he
drank nothing but water. His Grace was restless; and, although there was
no lack of courtesy, I fancied he did not wish us to remain. So after
our cups were emptied I asked permission to depart. The duke acquiesced
by rising, and said, turning to Max: -

"May we not try our new hawk together this afternoon?"

"With pleasure, Your Grace," responded Max.

"Then we'll meet at Cambrai Gate near the hour of two," said the duke.

"I thank Your Grace," said Max, bowing.

On our way back to the inn, I told Max of my meeting with the princess,
and remarked upon her resemblance to Yolanda.

"You imagined the resemblance, Karl. There can be but one Yolanda in the
world," said Max. "Her Highness, perhaps, is of Yolanda's complexion and
stature, - so Yolanda has told me, - and your imagination has furnished
the rest."

"Perhaps that is true," said I, fearing that I had already spoken too
freely.

So my great riddle was at last solved! The Fates had answered when I


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