The Battle of the Strong — Volume 4 - A Romance of Two Kingdoms
116 Pages
English
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The Battle of the Strong — Volume 4 - A Romance of Two Kingdoms

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116 Pages
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The Project Gutenberg EBook The Battle Of The Strong, by G. Parker, v4 #60 in our series by Gilbert ParkerCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****Title: The Battle Of The Strong [A Romance of Two Kingdoms], Volume 4.Author: Gilbert ParkerRelease Date: August, 2004 [EBook #6233] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was firstposted on October 10, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BATTLE OF THE STRONG, PARKER, V4 ***This eBook was produced by David Widger THE BATTLE OF THE STRONG[A ROMANCE OF TWO KINGDOMS]By Gilbert ParkerVolume 4.CHAPTER XXIIIWith what ...

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The Project Gutenberg EBook The Battle Of TheStrong, by G. Parker, v4 #60 in our series byGilbert ParkerCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen whenviewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do notremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****Title: The Battle Of The Strong [A Romance of Two
Kingdoms], Volume 4.Author: Gilbert ParkerRelease Date: August, 2004 [EBook #6233] [Yes,we are more than one year ahead of schedule][This file was first posted on October 10, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK BATTLE OF THE STRONG, PARKER, V4***This eBook was produced by David Widger<widger@cecomet.net>THE BATTLE OF THESTRONG
[A ROMANCE OF TWO KINGDOMS]By Gilbert ParkerVolume 4.CHAPTER XXIIIWith what seemed an unnecessary boldnessDetricand slept that night at the inn, "The GoldenCrown," in the town of Bercy: a Royalist of theVendee exposing himself to deadly peril in a townsworn to alliance with the RevolutionaryGovernment. He knew that the town, even the inn,might be full of spies; but one other thing he alsoknew: the innkeeper of "The Golden Crown" wouldnot betray him, unless he had greatly changedsince fifteen years ago. Then they had beenfriends, for his uncle of Vaufontaine had had asmall estate in Bercy itself, in ironical proximity tothe castle.He walked boldly into the inn parlour. There werebut four men in the room—the landlord, two stoutburghers, and Frange Pergot, the porter of thecastle, who had lost no time carrying his news: notto betray his old comrade in escapade, but to tell achosen few, Royalists under the rose, that he hadseen one of those servants of God, an officer ofthe Vendee.
At sight of the white badge with the red cross onDetricand's coat, the four stood up and answeredhis greeting with devout respect; and he hadspeedy assurance that in this inn he was safe frombetrayal. Presently he learned that three dayshence a meeting of the States of Bercy was to beheld for setting the seal upon the Duke's formaladoption of Philip, and to execute a deed ofsuccession. It was deemed certain that, ere this,the officer sent to England would have returnedwith Philip's freedom and King George's licence toaccept the succession in the duchy. From interestin these matters alone Detricand would not haveremained at Bercy, but he thought to use the timefor secretly meeting officers of the duchy likely tofavour the cause of the Royalists.During these three days of waiting he heard withgrave concern a rumour that the great meeting ofthe States would be marked by Philip's betrothalwith the Comtesse Chantavoine. He cared naughtfor the succession, but there was ever with him theremembrance of Guida Landresse de Landresse,and what touched Philip d'Avranche he had cometo associate with her. Of the true relations betweenGuida and Philip he knew nothing, but from thatlast day in Jersey he did know that Philip hadroused in her emotions, perhaps less vital thanlove but certainly less equable than friendship.Now in his fear that Guida might suffer, the morehe thought of the Comtesse Chantavoine as thechosen wife of Philip the more it troubled him. Hecould not shake off oppressive thoughts
concerning Guida and this betrothal. Theyinterwove themselves through all his secretbusiness with the Royalists of Bercy. For his ownpart, he would have gone far and done much toshield her from injury. He had seen and known inher something higher than Philip might understand—a simple womanliness, a profound depth ofcharacter. His pledge to her had been the key-noteof his new life. Some day, if he lived and his causeprospered, he would go back to Jersey—too lateperhaps to tell her what was in his heart, but nottoo late to tell her the promise had been kept.It was a relief when the morning of the third daycame, bright and joyous, and he knew that beforethe sun went down he should be on his way backto Saumur.His friend the innkeeper urged him not to attendthe meeting of theStates of Bercy, lest he should be recognised byspies of government.He was, however, firm in his will to go, but heexchanged his coat withthe red cross for one less conspicuous.With this eventful morn came the news that theenvoy to England had returned with Philip'sfreedom by exchange of prisoners, and with theneedful licence from King George. But other newstoo was carrying through the town: the FrenchGovernment, having learned of the Duke'sintentions towards Philip, had despatched envoysfrom Paris to forbid the adoption and deed of
succession.Though the Duke would have defied them, itbehoved him to end the matter, if possible, beforethese envoys' arrival. The States therefore washurriedly convened two hours before the timeappointed, and the race began between the Dukeand the emissaries of the French Government.It was a perfect day, and as the brilliant processionwound down the great rock from the castle, inever-increasing, glittering line, the effect wasmediaeval in its glowing splendour. All had beenready for two days, and the general enthusiasmhad seized upon the occasion with an adventurouspicturesqueness, in keeping with this strangeelevation of a simple British captain to royal estate.This buoyant, clear-faced, stalwart figure hadsprung suddenly out of the dark into the garish lightof sovereign place, and the imagination of thepeople had been touched. He was so genial too, soeasy-mannered, this d'Avranche of Jersey, whosegenealogy had been posted on a hundred wallsand carried by a thousand mouths through theprincipality. As Philip rode past on the left of theexulting Duke, the crowds cheered him wildly. Onlyon the faces of Comte Carignan Damour and hisfriends was discontent, and they must perforce bestill. Philip himself was outwardly calm, with thatdesperate quiet which belongs to the mostperilous, most adventurous achieving. Words hehad used many years ago in Jersey kept ringing inhis ears—"'Good-bye, Sir Philip'—I'll be more thanthat some day."
The Assembly being opened, in a breathlesssilence the Governor-General of the duchy readaloud the licence of the King of England for Philipd'Avranche, an officer in his navy, to assume thehonours to be conferred upon him by the Duke andthe States of Bercy. Then, by command of theDuke, the President of the States read aloud thenew order of succession:"1. To the Hereditary Prince Leopold John and hisheirs male; in default of which to"2. The Prince successor, Philip d'Avranche and hisheirs male; in default of which to"3. The heir male of the House of Vaufontaine."Afterwards came reading of the deed of gift bywhich the Duke made over to Prince Philip certainpossessions in the province of d'Avranche. To allthis the assent of Prince Leopold John had beenformally secured. After the Assembly and the chiefofficers of the duchy should have ratified thesedocuments and the Duke signed them, they wereto be enclosed in a box with three locks anddeposited with the Sovereign Court at Bercy.Duplicates were also to be sent to London andregistered in the records of the College of Arms.Amid great enthusiasm, the States, by unanimousvote, at once ratified the documents. The onenotable dissentient was the Intendant, CountCarignan Damour, the devout ally of the FrenchGovernment. It was he who had sent Fouche wordconcerning Philip's adoption; it was also he whohad at last, through his spies, discovered
Detricand's presence in the town, and had takenaction thereupon. In the States, however, he hadno vote, and wisdom kept him silent, though hewas watchful for any chance to delay eventsagainst the arrival of the French envoys.They should soon be here, and, during theproceedings in the States, he watched the doorsanxiously. Every minute that passed made himmore restless, less hopeful. He had a doublemotive in preventing this new succession. WithPhilip as adopted son and heir there would befewer spoils of office; with Philip as duke therewould be none at all, for the instinct of distrust andantipathy was mutual. Besides, as a Republican,he looked for his reward from Fouche in good time.Presently it was announced by the President thatthe signatures to the acts of the States would beset in private. Thereupon, with all the concoursestanding, the Duke, surrounded by the law,military, and civil officers of the duchy, girded uponPhilip the jewelled sword which had been handeddown in the House of d'Avranche from generationto generation. The open function being thus ended,the people were enjoined to proceed at once to thecathedral, where a Te Deum would be sung.The public then retired, leaving the Duke and a fewof the highest officials of the duchy to formally signand seal the deeds. When the outer doors wereclosed, one unofficial person remained—ComteDetricand de Tournay, of the House ofVaufontaine. Leaning against a pillar, he stood
looking calmly at the group surrounding the Dukeat the great council-table.Suddenly the Duke turned to a door at the right ofthe President's chair, and, opening it, bowedcourteously to some one beyond. An instantafterwards there entered the ComtesseChantavoine, with her uncle the Marquis Grandjon-Larisse, an aged and feeble but distinguishedfigure. They advanced towards the table, the ladyon the Duke's arm, and Philip, saluting themgravely, offered the Marquis a chair. At first theMarquis declined it, but the Duke pressed him, andin the subsequent proceedings he of all the numberwas seated.Detricand apprehended the meaning of the scene.This was the lady whom the Duke had chosen aswife for the new Prince. The Duke had invited theComtesse to witness the final act which was tomake Philip d'Avranche his heir in legal fact as byverbal proclamation; not doubting that the romanticnature of the incident would impress her. He hadeven hoped that the function might be followed bya formal betrothal in the presence of the officials;and the situation might still have been critical forPhilip had it not been for the pronounced reserveof the Comtesse herself.Tall, of gracious and stately carriage, the curiousquietness of the face of the Comtesse would havebeen almost an unbecoming gravity were it not thatthe eyes, clear, dark, and strong, lightened it. Themouth had a somewhat set sweetness, even as
the face was somewhat fixed in its calm. In herbearing, in all her motions, there was a regalquality; yet, too, something of isolation, ofwithdrawal, in her self-possession and unruffledobservation. She seemed, to Detricand, a figureapart, a woman whose friendship would beeverlasting, but whose love would be more anaffectionate habit than a passion; and in whomdevotion would be strong because devotion wasthe key-note of her nature. The dress of a nunwould have turned her into a saint; of a peasantwould have made her a Madonna; of a Quaker,would have made her a dreamer and a devote; ofa queen, would have made her benign yetunapproachable. It struck him all at once as helooked, that this woman had one quality in absolutekinship with Guida Landresse—honesty of mindand nature; only with this young aristocrat thehonesty would be without passion. She hadstraight- forwardness, a firm if limited intellect, aclear-mindedness belonging somewhat tonarrowness of outlook, but a genuine capacity forunderstanding the right and the wrong of things.Guida, so Detricand thought, might break her heartand live on; this woman would break her heart anddie: the one would grow larger through suffering,the other shrink to a numb coldness.So he entertained himself by these flashes ofdiscernment, presently merged in wonderment asto what was in Philip's mind as he stood there,destiny hanging in that drop of ink at the point ofthe pen in the Duke's fingers!