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'She! Oh, no! She is a true loyal Lindsay, heart and soul, dour and wearisome; but she would guard me from every foe, and most of all, as she is ever telling me, from mine ain self, that is my worst enemy. Only she sets about it in such guise that, for very vexation, I am driven farther! No, it is the Countess de Craylierre, who is for ever spiting me, and striving to put whatever I do in a cruel light, if I dinna walk after her will-hers! As if she could rule a king's daughter.'
And Margaret stamped her foot on the ground, while a hot flush arose in her cheeks. Her sisters, young girls as they were, could not understand her moods, either of wild mirth, eager delight in poetry and music, childish wilfulness and petulant temper or deep melancholy, all coming in turn with feverish alternation and vehemence. As the ladies approached the castle, they were met by various gentlemen, among whom was Maître Alain Chartier, and a bandying of compliments and witticisms began in such rapid French that even Eleanor could not follow it, but there was something in the ring of the Dauphiness's hard laugh that pained her, she knew not why.
At the entrance they found the chief of the party returning from the cathedral where they had heard mass, not exactly in state, but publicly.
'Ha! ha! good daughter,' laughed the king, 'I took thee for a slugabed, but it is by thy errant fashion that thou hast cheated us.'
I have been to mass at St. Mary's,' returned Margaret, with my sisters. I love the early walk across the park.'
No wonder,' came from between the thin lips of the Dauphin, as his keen little eye fell on Chartier.
Margaret drew herself up and vouchsafed not to reply. Jean marvelled, but Eleanor felt with her, that she was too proud to defend herself from the insult. Madame de Ste. Petronille, however, stepped forward and began: 'Madame la Dauphine loves not attendance. She made her journey alone with Mesdames ses sœurs with no male company, till she reached home.'
But before the first words were well out of the good lady's mouth, Louis had turned away, with an air of the most careless indifference, to a courtier in a long gown, longer shoes, and a jewelled girdle, who became known to the sisters as Messire Jamet de Tillay. Eleanor felt indignant. Was he too heedless of his wife to listen to the vindication?
Madame de Ste. Petronille took the Lady of Glenuskie aside and poured out her lamentations. That was ever the way, she said, the Dauphiness would give occasion to slanderers, by her wilful ways, and there were those who would turn all she said or did against her, poisoning the ear of the Dauphin, little as he cared.
Is he an ill man to her?' asked Dame Lilias, little prepossessed by his looks.
He! Madame, mind you an auld tale of the Etin wi' no heart in
his body! I verily believe he and his father both were created like that giant. No; that the King is sair to live with either, so that he can eat and drink and daff, and be let alone to take his ease. I have seen him, and my gude man, and them we kenned have marked him this score of years, and whether his kingdom were lost or won, whether his best friends were free or bound, dead or alive, he recks as little as though it were a game of chess, so that he can sit in the ingle neuk at Bourges and toy with Madame de Beauté, shameless limmer that she is, and crack his jests with yon viper, Jamet de Tillay, and the rest of the crew. But he'll let you alone, and has a kindly word for them that don't cross him-and there be those that would go through fire and water for him. He is no that ill! But for his son, he has a sneer and a spite such as never his father had. He is never a one to sit still and let things gang their gate; but he has as little pity or compassion as his father, and if King Charles will not stir a finger to hinder a gruesome deed, Dauphin Louis will not spare to do it so that he can gain by it, and I trow verily that to give pain and sting with that bitter tongue of his is joy to him.'
'Then is there no love between them?'
'Alack, lady, there is love, but 'tis all on one side of the house. I doubt me whether Messire le Dauphin hath it in him to love any living creature. I longed, when I saw your maidens, that my poor lady had been as bonnie as her sister Jean; but mayhap that would not have served her better. If she were as dull as the Duchess of Brittany-who they say can scarce find a word to speak to a stranger at Nantes-she might even anger him less than she does with her wit and her books and her verses, sitting up half the night to read and write rondeaux, forsooth!'
'Her blessed father's own daughter!'
'That may be; but how doth it sort a wife? It might serve here, where every one is mad after poesy, as they call it; but such ways are in no good odour with the French dames, who never put eye to book, pen to paper, nor foot to ground if they can help it; and when she behoves to gang off roaming afoot, as she did this morn, there's no garring the ill-minded carlines believe that there's no ill purpose behind.'
'It is scarce wise.'
'Yet to hear her, 'tis such walking and wearing herself out that keeps the life in her and alone gives her sleep. My puir bairn, worshipping the very ground her man sets foot on, and never getting aught but a gibe or a girn from him, and, for the very wilfulness of her sair heart, ever putting herself further from him!'
Such was the piteous account that Madame de Sainte Petronille (otherwise Dame Elspeth Langley) gave, and which the Lady of Glenuskie soon perceived to be only too true during the days spent at Nanci. To the two young sisters the condition of things were less evident. To Margaret their presence was such sunshine, that
they usually saw her in her highest, most flighty, and imprudent spirits, taking at times absolute delight in shocking her two duennas; and it was in this temper that one hot noon day, coming after an evening of song and music, finding Alain Chartier asleep on a bench in the garden, she declared that she must kiss the mouth from which such sweet strains proceeded, and bending down, imprinted so light a kiss as not to waken him, then turned round, her whole face rippling with silent laughter at the amusement of Jean and Margaret of Anjou, Elleen's puzzled gravity, and the horror and dismay of her elder ladies. Only Dame Lilias saw what she did not a look of triumphant malice on the face of Jamet de Tillay. Or at other times the Dauphiness would sit listening, with silent tears in her eyes, to plaintive Scottish airs on Eleanor's harp, which she declared brought back to her her father's voice, and with it the scent of the heather, and the very sight of Arthur's Seat or the hills of Perth. Elleen had some sudden qualms of heart lest her sister's blitheness should cover wounds within; but she was too young to be often haunted by such thoughts in the delightful surroundings in which that Easter week was spent the companionship of their sister and of the two young Infantas of Anjou, as well as all the charm of King René's graceful attention. Eleanor found opened fresh stores of beauty, exquisite illuminations, books of all kinds-legend, history, romance, poetryall freely displayed to her by her royal host, who took an elderly man's delight in an intelligent girl; nor, perhaps, was the pleasure lessened by the need of explaining to Archduke Sigismund, in German ever improving, that which he could not understand. There was a delightful freedom about the Court-not hard, rugged, always on the defence, like that of Scotland, nor stiffly ecclesiastical, as had been that of Henry of Windsor. Athough there was devotion every morning, there was, for the rest of the day, holiday making according to each one's taste--not hawking, for the 'bon roi René' was merciful to the birds in nesting time, for which he was grumbled and laughed at by the young nobles, and even by Jean, who wanted to exhibit Skywing's prowess. Instead, there was riding at the ring, and jousting, or long rides in the environs, minstrelsey in the gardens, and once a graceful ballet of the king's own composition; and the evenings sometimes in-doors, sometimes out-of-doors, were given to song and music. Altogether it was a land of enchantment to most, whether gaily or poetically inclined.
Only there were certain murmurs by the rugged Scots and fierce Gascons among the guests. George observed to David Drummond that he felt as if this was a nest of eider ducks, all down and fluff. Davie responded that it was like a pasteboard town in a mystery play, and that he longed to strike at it with his good broad sword. The English squire who stood by, in his turn compared it to a castle of flummery and blanc-manger. A French captain of a Free company declared that he wished he had the plundering of it; and a fierce
looking mountaineer of the Vosges of Alsace growled that if the harping old King of Nowhere flouted his master, Duke Sigismund, maybe they should have a taste of plunder.
There was actually to be a tournament on the Monday, the day before the wedding, and a first tournament was a prodigious event in the life of a young lady. Jean was in the utmost excitement, and never looked at her own pretty face of roses and lilies in the Venice mirror without comparing it with those of the two Infantas, in the hope of being chosen Queen of Beauty; but to her great disappointment, King René prudently ordained that there should be no such competition, but that the prizes should be bestowed by his sister, the Queen of France.
The Marquess of Suffolk requested Sir Patrick to convey to young Douglas a free offer of fitting him out for the encounter, with armour and horse if needful, and even of conferring knighthood on him, so that he might take his place on equal terms in the lists.
He would like to do it, the insolent loon!' was George's grim comment. 'Will De la Pole dare to talk of dubbing the Red Douglas! When I bide his buffet, it shall be in another sort. When I take knighthood, it shall be from my lawful king or my father.'
'So I shall tell him,' replied Sir Patrick, and I deem you wise, for there be tricks of French chivalry that a man needs to know ere he can acquit himself well in the lists; and to see you fail would scarce raise you in the eyes of your lady.'
'More likely they would find too much earnest in the midst of their sham!' returned George. You had best tell your English Marquess, as he calls himself, that he had better not trust a lance in a Scotsman's hand, if he wouldna have all the shams that fret me beyond my patience about their ears.'
This was not exactly what Sir Patrick told the Marquess; though he was far from disapproving of the resolution. He kept an eye on this strange follower, and was glad to see that there was no evil or licence in his conduct, but that he chiefly consorted with David, and a few other young squires to whom this week, so delightful to the ladies, was inexpressibly wearisome.
Tournaments have been described, so far as the nineteenth century can describe them, so often that no one wishes to hear more of their details. These had nearly reached their culmination in the middle of the fifteenth century. Defensive armour had become highly ornamental and very cumbrous, so that it was scarcely possible for the champions to do one another much harm, except that a fall under such a weight was dangerous. Thus it was only an exercise of skill in arms and horsemanship on which the ladies gazed as they sat in the gallery around Queen Marie, the five young Princesses together forming, as the minstrels declared, a perfect wreath of loveliness. The Dauphiness, with a flush on her cheek and an eager look on her face, her tall form, and dress more carefully
arranged than usual, looked well and princely; Eleanor, very like her, but much developed in expression, and improved in looks since she left home, had a beauty of her own; but the palm lay between the other three, Yolande, tall, grave, stately, and anxious, with darker blue eyes and browner hair than her sister, who, with her innocent childish face showing something of the shyness of a bride, sat somewhat back, as if to conceal herself between Yolande and Jean, who was all excitement, her cheeks flushed, and her sunny hair seeming to glow with a radiance of its own. Duke Sigismund was among the defenders, in a very splendid suit of armour, made in Italy, and embossed in that new taste of the Cinquecento that was fast coming in.
The two kings began with an amicable joust! in which René had the best of it. Then they took their seats, and as usual there was a good deal of riding one against the other at the lists, and shivering of lances, while some knights were borne backwards, horse and all, others had their helmets carried off; but René, who sat in great enjoyment, with his staff in hand, between his sister and her husband, King Charles, had taken care that all the weapons should be blunted. Sigismund, a tall, large, strongly made man, was for some time the leading champion. Perhaps there was an understanding that the Lion of Hapsburg and famed Eagle of the Tyrol was to carry all before him and win, in an undoubted manner, the prize of the tourney, and the hand of the Infanta Yolande. Certainly the colour rose higher and higher in her delicate cheek, but those nearest could see that it was not with pleasure, for she bit her lip with annoyance, and her eyes wandered in search of some one.
Presently, in a pause, there came forward on a tall white horse, a magnificently tall man, in plain but bright armour, three allerions or beakless eagles on his breast, and on his shield a violet plant, with the motto 'Si douce est la violette.' The Dauphiness leant across her sister, and squeezed Yolande's hand vehemently, as the knight inclined his lance to the king, and was understood to crave permission to show his prowess. Charles turned to René, whose goodhumored face looked annoyed, but who could not withhold his conThe Dauphiness, whose vehement excitement was more visible than even Yolande's, whispered to Eleanor that this was Messire Ferry de Vaudémont, her true love, come to win her at point of the lance.
History is the parent of romance, and romance now and then becomes history. It is an absolute and undoubted fact that Count Frederic or Ferry de Vaudémont, the male representative of the line of Charles the Great, did win his lady love, Yolande of Anjou, by his good lance within the lists, and that thus the direct descent was brought eventually back to Lorraine, though this was not contemplated at the time, since Yolande had then living both a brother and a nephew, and it was simply for her own sake that Messire Ferry,