英语故事 小伯爵(13)

    Conclusion

    Years had passed away. The oaths of Louis, and promises of Lothaire, had been broken; and Arnulf of Flanders, the murderer of Duke William, had incited them to repeated and treacherous inroads on Normandy; so that Richard’s life, from fourteen to five or six-and- twenty, had been one long war in defence of his country. But it had been a glorious war for him, and his gallant deeds had well earned for him the title of “Richard the Fearless”――a name well deserved; for there was but one thing he feared, and that was, to do wrong.

    By and by, success and peace came; and then Arnulf of Flanders, finding open force would not destroy him, three times made attempts to assassinate him, like his father, by treachery. But all these had failed; and now Richard had enjoyed many years of peace and honour, whilst his enemies had vanished from his sight.

    King Louis was killed by a fall from his horse; Lothaire died in early youth, and in him ended the degenerate line of Charlemagne; Hugh Capet, the son of Richard’s old friend, Hugh the White, was on the throne of France, his sure ally and brother-in-law, looking to him for advice and aid in all his undertakings.

    Fru Astrida and Sir Eric had long been in their quiet graves; Osmond and Alberic were among Richard’s most trusty councillors and warriors; Abbot Martin, in extreme old age, still ruled the Abbey of Jumieges, where Richard, like his father, loved to visit him, hold converse with him, and refresh himself in the peaceful cloister, after the affairs of state and war.

    And Richard himself was a grey-headed man, of lofty stature and majestic bearing. His eldest son was older than he had been himself when he became the little Duke, and he had even begun to remember his father’s project, of an old age to be spent in retirement and peace.

    It was on a summer eve, that Duke Richard sat beside the white- bearded old Abbot, within the porch, looking at the sun shining with soft declining beams on the arches and columns. They spoke together of that burial at Rouen, and of the silver key; the Abbot delighting to tell, over and over again, all the good deeds and good sayings of William Longsword.

    As they sat, a man, also very old and shrivelled and bent, came up to the cloister gate, with the tottering, feeble step of one pursued beyond his strength, coming to take sanctuary.

    “What can be the crime of one so aged and feeble?” said the Duke, in surprise.

    At the sight of him, a look of terror shot from the old man’s eye. He clasped his hands together, and turned as if to flee; then, finding himself incapable of escape, he threw himself on the ground before him.

    “Mercy, mercy! noble, most noble Duke!” was all he said.

    “Rise up――kneel not to me. I cannot brook this from one who might be my father,” said Richard, trying to raise him; but at those words the old man groaned and crouched lower still.

    “Who art thou?” said the Duke. “In this holy place thou art secure, be thy deed what it may. Speak!――who art thou?”

    “Dost thou not know me?” said the suppliant. “Promise mercy, ere thou dost hear my name.”

    “I have seen that face under a helmet,” said the Duke. “Thou art Arnulf of Flanders!”

    There was a deep silence.

    “And wherefore art thou here?”

    “I delayed to own the French King Hugh. He has taken my towns and ravaged my lands. Each Frenchman and each Norman vows to slay me, in revenge for your wrongs, Lord Duke. I have been driven hither and thither, in fear of my life, till I thought of the renown of Duke Richard, not merely the most fearless, but the most merciful of Princes. I sought to come hither, trusting that, when the holy Father Abbot beheld my bitter repentance, he would intercede for me with you, most noble Prince, for my safety and forgiveness. Oh, gallant Duke, forgive and spare!”

    “Rise up, Arnulf,” said Richard. “Where the hand of the Lord hath stricken, it is not for man to exact his own reckoning. My father’s death has been long forgiven, and what you may have planned against myself has, by the blessing of Heaven, been brought to nought. From Normans at least you are safe; and it shall be my work to ensure your pardon from my brother the King. Come into the refectory: you need refreshment. The Lord Abbot makes you welcome.” {17}

    Tears of gratitude and true repentance choked Arnulf’s speech, and he allowed himself to be raised from the ground, and was forced to accept the support of the Duke’s arm.

    The venerable Abbot slowly rose, and held up his hand in an attitude of blessing: “The blessing of a merciful God be upon the sinner who turneth from his evil way; and ten thousand blessings of pardon and peace are already on the head of him who hath stretched out his hand to forgive and aid him who was once his most grievous foe!”

    Footnotes

    {1} Richard’s place of education was Bayeaux; for, as Duke William says in the rhymed Chronicle of Normandy, –

    “Si a Roem le faz garder E norir, gaires longement Il ne saura parlier neiant Daneis, kar nul n l’i parole. Si voil qu’il seit a tele escole Qu l’en le sache endoctriner Que as Daneis sache parler. Ci ne sevent riens fors Romanz Mais a Baieux en a tanz Qui ne sevent si Daneis non.”

    {2} Bernard was founder of the family of Harcourt of Nuneham. Ferrieres, the ancestor of that of Ferrars.

    {3} In the same Chronicle, William Longsword directs that, –

    “Tant seit apris qu’il lise un bref Kar ceo ne li ert pas trop gref.”

    {4} Hako of Norway was educated by Ethelstane of England. It was Foulques le Bon, the contemporary Count of Anjou, who, when derided by Louis IV. for serving in the choir of Tours, wrote the following retort: “The Count of Anjou to the King of France. Apprenez, Monseigneur, qu’un roi sans lettres est une ane couronne.”

    {5} The Banner of Normandy was a cross till William the Conqueror adopted the lion.

    {6} “Sire, soies mon escus, soies mes defendemens.” Histoire des Ducs de Normandie (MICHEL)。

    {7} The Cathedral was afterwards built by Richard himself.

    {8} Sus le maistre autel del iglise Li unt sa feaute juree.

    {9} Une clef d’argent unt trovee A sun braiol estreit noee. Tout la gent se merveillont Que cete clef signifiont. * * * * Ni la cuoule e l’estamine En aveit il en un archete,Que disfermeront ceste clavete De sol itant ert tresorier Kar nul tresor n’vait plus cher.

    The history of the adventures of Jumieges is literally true, as is Martin’s refusal to admit the Duke to the cloister:-

    Dun ne t’a Deus mis e pose Prince gardain de sainte iglise E cur tenir leial justise.

    {10} An attack, in which Riouf, Vicomte du Cotentin, placed Normandy in the utmost danger. He was defeated on the banks of the Seine, in a field still called the “Pre de Battaille,” on the very day of Richard’s birth; so that the Te Deum was sung at once for the victory and the birth of the heir of Normandy.

    {11} “Biaus Segnors, vees chi vo segneur, je ne le vous voel tolir, mais je estoie venus en ceste ville, prendre consel a vous, comment je poroie vengier la mort son pere, qui me rapiela d’Engletiere. Il me fist roi, il me fist avoir l’amour le roi d’Alemaigne, il leva mon fil de fons, il me fist toz les biens, et jou en renderai au fill le guerredon se je puis.”――MICHEL.

    {12} In a battle fought with Lothaire at Charmenil, Richard saved the life of Walter the huntsman, who had been with him from his youth.

    {13} At fourteen years of age, Richard was betrothed to Eumacette of Paris, then but eight years old. In such esteem did Hugues la Blanc hold his son-in-law, that, on his death-bed, he committed his son Hugues Capet to his guardianship, though the Duke was then scarcely above twenty, proposing him as the model of wisdom and of chivalry.

    {14} “Osmons, qui l’enfant enseognoit l’eu mena i jour en riviere, et quant il revint, la reine Gerberge dist que se il jamais l’enmenait fors des murs, elle li ferait les jeix crever.”――MICHEL.

    {15} “Gules, two wings conjoined in lure, or,” is the original coat of St. Maur, or Seymour, said to be derived from Osmond de Centeville, who assumed them in honour of his flight with Duke Richard. His direct descendants in Normandy were the Marquises of Osmond, whose arms were gules, two wings ermine. In 1789 there were two survivors of the line of Centeville, one a Canon of Notre Dame, the other a Chevalier de St. Louis, who died childless.

    {16} Harald of Norway, who made a vow never to trim his hair till he had made himself sole king of the country. The war lasted ten years, and he thus might well come to deserve the title of Horrid-locks, which was changed to that of Harfagre, or fair-haired, when he celebrated his final victory, by going into a bath at More, and committing his shaggy hair to be cut and arranged by his friend Jarl Rognwald, father of Rollo.

    {17} Richard obtained for Arnulf the restitution of Arras, and several other Flemish towns. He died eight years afterwards, in 996, leaving several children, among whom his daughter Emma is connected with English history, by her marriage, first, with Ethelred the Unready, and secondly, with Knute, the grandson of his firm friend and ally, Harald Blue-tooth. His son was Richard, called the Good; his grandson, Robert the Magnificent; his great-grandson, William the Conqueror, who brought the Norman race to England. Few names in history shine with so consistent a lustre as that of Richard; at first the little Duke, afterwards Richard aux longues jambes, but always Richard sans peur. This little sketch has only brought forward the perils of his childhood, but his early manhood was likewise full of adventures, in which he always proved himself brave, honourable, pious, and forbearing. But for these our readers must search for themselves into early French history, where all they will find concerning our hero will only tend to exalt his character.

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