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her cousin visited the chamber of the fair Darcy. They found her in a composed but melancholy posture. She turned the discourse upon the misfortunes of her life, and hinted, that, having recovered her brother, and seeing him look forward to the society of one who would amply repay to him the loss of hers, she had thoughts of dedicating her remaining life to Heaven, by whose providential interference it had been so often preserved.
Matilda coloured deeply at something in this speech, and her cousin inveighed loudly against Emma's resolution. “Ah, my dear Lady Eleanor," replied she, “I have to-day witnessed what I cannot but judge a supernatural visitation, and to what end can it call me but to give myself to the altar? That peasant who guided me to Baddow through the Park of Danbury, the same who appeared before meat different times, and in different forms, during that eventful journey, - that youth, whose features are imprinted on my memory, is the very individual forester who this day rescued us in the forest. I cannot be mistaken; and, connecting these marvellous appearances with the spectre which I saw while at Gay Bowers, I cannot resist the conviction that Heaven has permitted my guardian angel to assume mortal shape for my relief and protection."
The sair cousins, after exchanging looks which implied a fear that her mind was wandering, answered her in soothing terms, and finally prevailed upon her to accompany them to the banqueling hall. Here the first person they encountered was the Baron Fitzosborne of Diggswell, now divested of his armour; at the sight of whom the Lady Emma changed colour, and exclaiming, “It is the same!" sunk senseless into the arms of Matilda.
“She is bewildered by the terrors of the day,” said Eleanor ; “and we have done ill in obliging her to descend."
“And I,” said Fitzosborne,“ have done madly in presenting before her one whose presence must recall moments the most alarming in her life.”
While the ladies supported Emma from the ball, Lord Boteler and St. Clere requested an explanation from Fitzosborne of the words he had used.
“Trust me, gentle lords," said the Baron of Diggswell, “ye shall have what ye demand, when I learn that Lady Emma Darcy has not suffered from my imprudence.”
At this moment Lady Matilda, returning, said, that her fair friend, on her recovery, had calmly and deliberately insisted that she had seen Fitzosborne before, in the most dangerous crisis of her life.
“I dread," said she, “ her disordered mind connects all that her eye beholds with the terrible passages that she has witnessed."
"Nay,” said Fitzosborne, " if noble St. Clere can pardon the
unauthorised interest which, with the purest and most honourable intentions, I have taken in his sister's fale, it is easy for me to explain this mysterious impression."
He proceeded to say, that, happening to be in the hostelry called the Griffin, near Baddow, while upon a journey in that country, he had met with the old nurse of the Lady Emma Darcy, who, being just expelled from Gay Bowers, was in the height of her grief and indignation, and made loud and public proclamation of Lady Emma's wrongs. From the description she gave of the beauty of her foster-child, as well as from the spirit of chivalry, Fitzosborne became interested in her fate. This interest was deeply enhanced when, by a bribe to oldGaunt the Reve, he procured a view of the Lady Emma, as she walked near the castle of Gay Bowers. The aged churl refused to give him access to the eastle; yet dropped some hints, as if he thought the lady in danger, and wished she were well out of it. His master, he said, had heard she had a brother in life, and, since that deprived him of all chance of gaining her domains by purchase, he --in short, Gaunt wished they were safely separated. “If any injury,” quoth he, “should happen to the damsel here, it were ill for us all. I tried, by an innocent stratagem, to frighten her from the castle, by introducing a figure through a trap-door, and warning her, as if by a voice from the dead, to retreat from thence; but the giglet is wilful, and is running upon her fate.” Finding Gaunt, although covelous and communicative, too faithful a seryant to his wicked master to take any active steps against his commands, Fitzosborne applied himself to old Ursely, whom he found more tractable. Through her he learned the dreadful plot Gaston had laid to rid himself of his kinswoman, and resolved to effect her deliverance. But, aware of the delicacy of Emma's situation, he charged Ursely to conceal from her the interest he took in her distress, resolving to watch over her in disguise, until he saw her in a place of safety. Hence the appearance he made before her in various dresses during her journey, in the course of which he was never far distant; and he had always four stout yeomen within hearing of his bugle, had assistance been necessary. When she was placed in safety at the lodge, it was Fitzosborne's intention to have prevailed upon his sisters to visit, and take her under their protection; but he found them absent from Diggswell, having gone to attend an aged relation, who lay dangerously ill in a distant county. They did not return until the day before the May-games; and the other events followed too rapidly to permit Fitzosborne to lay any plan for introducing them to Lady Emma Darcy. On the day of the chase, he resolved to preserve his romantic disguise, and attend the Lady Emma as a forester, partly to have the pleasure of being
near her, and partly to judge whether, according to an idle report in the country, she favoured his friend and comrade, Fitzallen of Marden. This last motive, it may easily be believed, he did not declare to the company. After the skirmish with the ruffians, he waited till the Baron and the hunters arrived, and then, still doubting the farther designs of Gaston, hastened to his castle, to arm the band which had escorted them to Queenhoo-Hall.
Fitzosborne's story being finished, he received the thanks of all the company, particularly of St. Clere, who felt deeply the respectful delicacy with which he had conducted himself towards his sister. The lady was carefully informed of her obligations to him; and it is left to the well-judging reader, whether even the raillery of Lady Eleanor made her regret that Heaven had only employed natural means for her security, and that the guardian angel was converted into a handsome, gallant, and enamoured knight.
The joy of the company in the hall extended itself to the buttery, where Gregory thejester narrated such feats of arms done by himself in the fray of the morning, as might have shamed Bevis and Guy of Warwick. He was, according to his narrative, singled out for destruction by the gigantic Baron himself, while he abandoned to meaner hands the destruction of St. Clere and Fitzosborne.
“But certes,” said he, “the foul paynim met his match; for, ever as he foined at me with his brand, I parried his blows with my bauble, and closing with him upon the third veny, threw him to the ground, and made him cry recreant to an unarmed
“Tush, man," said Drawslot, “thou forgettest thy best auxiliaries, the good greyhounds, Help and Holdfast! I warrant thee, that when the humpbacked Baron caught thee by the cowl, which he hath almost torn off, thou hadst been in a fair plight, had they not remembered an old friend, and come in to the rescue. Why, man, I found them fastened on him myself; and there was odd staving and stickling to make them ‘ware haunch!' Their mouths were full of the flex, for I pulled a piece of the garment from their jaws. I warrant thee, that when they brought him to ground, thou fledst like a frighted pricket.”
“ And as for Gregory's gigantic paynim," said Fabian, why, he lies yonder in the guard-room, the very size, shape, and colour of a spider in a yew hedge.”
“It is false!" said Gregory; “Colbrand the Dane was a dwarf to him.”
“ It is as true,” returned Fabian, “ as that the Tasker is to he married, on Tuesday, to pretty Margery. Gregory, thy sheet hath brought them between a pair of blankets.”
“I care no more for such a gillflirt,” said the Jester," than I
do for thy leasings. Marry, thou hop-o'-my-thumb, happy wouldst thou be could thy head reach the captive Baron's girdle."
By the mass,” said Peter Lanaret, “I will have one peep at this burly gallant;" and, leaving the buttery, he went to the guard-room where Gaston St. Clere was confined. A man-atarms, who kept sentinel on the strong studded door of the apartment, said, he believed he slept; for that, after raging, stamping, and uttering the most horrid imprecations, he had been of late perfectly still. The Falconer gently drew back a sliding board, of a foot square, towards the top of the door, which covered a hole of the same size, strongly latticed, through which the warder, without opening the door, could look in upon his prisoner. From this aperture he beheld the wretched Gaston suspended by the neck, by his own girdle, to an iron ring in the side of his prison. He had clambered to it by means of the table on which his food had been placed ; and, in the agonies of shame and disappointed malice, had adopted this mode of ridding himself of a wretched life. He was found yet warm, but totally lifeless. A proper account of the manner of his death was drawn up and certified. He was buried that evening, in the chapel of the castle, out of respect to his high birth; and the chaplain of Fitzallen of Marden, who said the service upon the occasion, preached, the next Sunday, an excellent sermon upon the text, Radix malorum est cupiditas, which we have here transcribed.
[Here the manuscript, from which we have painfully transcribed, and frequently, as it were, translated this tale, for the reader's edification, is so indistinct and defaced, that , excepting certain howbeils, nathlesses, lo ye's! etc. , we can pick out little that is intelligible, saving that avarice is defined “a likourishness of heart after earthly things." A little farther, there seems to have been a gay account of Margery's wedding with Ralph the Tasker; the running at the quaintain, and other rural games practised on the occasion. There are also fragments of a mock sermon preached by Gregory upon that occasion, as for example :
My dear cursed caitiffs, there was once a king, and he wedded a young old queen, and she had a child; and this child was sent to Solomon the Sage, praying he would give it the same blessing which he got from the witch of Endor when she bit him by the heel. Hereof speaks the worthy Dr. Radigundus Potator; why should not mass be said for all the roasted shoe souls served up in the king's dish on Saturday; for true it is, that St. Peter asked father Adam, as they journeyed to Camelot, an high,
great, and doubtful question, 'Adam, Adam, why eated'st thou the apple without paring?'".
With much goodly gibberish to the same effect; which display of Gregory's ready wit not only threw the whole company into convulsions of laughter, but made such an impression on Rose, the Potter's daughter, that it was thought it would be the Jester's own fault if Jack was long without his Jill. Much pithy matter, concerning the bringing the bride to bed - the loosing the bridegroom's points--the scramble which ensued for them and the casting of the stocking, is also omitted, from its obscurity,
The following song, which has been since borrowed by the worshipful author of the famous “ History of Fryar Bacon," has been with difficulty deciphered. It seems to have been sung on occasion of carrying home the bride.
'This tirade of gibberish is literally taken or selected from a mock discourse pronounced by a professed jester, which occurs in an ancient manuscript in the Advocates' Library, the same from which the late ingenious Mr. Weber published the curious comic romance of the Hunting of the Hare. It was introduced in compliance with Mr. Scruti's plan of rendering bis lale an illustration of ancient manners. A similar burlesque sermon is pronounced by the Fool in Sir David Lindesay's satire of the Three Estates. The nonsense and vulgar burlesque of that composition illustrate the ground of Sir Andrew Aguecheek's eulogy on the exploits of the jester in Twelfth Night, who, reserving bis sbarper jests for Sir Toby, bad doubtless enough of the jargon of his calling to captivate the imbecility of his brother knight, who is made to exclaim-"In sooth, thou wast in very gracious fooling last night, when thou spokest of Pigrogremitus, and of the vapours passing the equinoctials of Quenbus ;'l was very good, i' faith!” Il is enterlaining to find commentators seeking to discover some meaning in the professional jargon of such a passage as this.