[Illustration: Charles VIII king of France from a medallion.]
The King heard that the Duke of Savoy was coming to his Court, and he sent the Comte de Ligny to conduct the Duke on his way, and to receive him with due honour. They met him about six miles from Lyons, and gave him a warm welcome, after which the two princes rode side by side, and had much talk together, for they were cousins and had not met for a long time. Now this Monseigneur de Ligny was a great general, and with his quick, observant eye he soon took notice of young Bayard, who was in the place of honour close to his lord, and he inquired: “Who is that gallant little lad riding his horse so well that it is quite a pleasure to see him?”
“Upon my word,” replied the Duke, “I never had such a delightful page before. He is a nephew of the Bishop of Grenoble, who made me a present of him only six months ago. He was but just out of the riding-school, but I never saw a boy of his age distinguish himself so much either on foot or on horseback. And I may tell you, my lord and cousin, that he comes of a grand old race of brave and noble knights; I believe he will follow in their steps.” Then he cried out to Bayard: “Use your spurs, my lad, give your horse a free course and show what you can do.”
The lad did not want telling twice, and he gave such a fine exhibition of horsemanship that he delighted all the company. “On my honour, my lord, here is a young gentleman who has the making of a gallant knight,” exclaimed de Ligny; “and in my opinion you had better make a present of both page and horse to the King, who will be very glad of them, for if the horse is good and handsome, to my mind the page is still better.”
“Since this is your advice,” replied Charles of Savoy, “I will certainly follow it. In order to succeed, the boy cannot learn in a better school than the Royal House of France, where honour may be gained better than elsewhere.”
With such pleasant talk they rode on together into the city of Lyons, where the streets were full of people, and many ladies were looking out of the windows to see the coming of this noble prince and his gay company. That night the Duke gave a banquet in his own lodging, where the King’s minstrels and singers entertained the guests, then there were games and pastimes, ending with the usual wine and spices being handed round, and at last each one retired to his own chamber until the dawn of day.
The next morning the Duke rose early and set forth to seek the King, whom he found on the point of going to Mass. The King greeted him at once most warmly and embraced him, saying, “My cousin, my good friend, you are indeed welcome, and if you had not come to me I should have had to visit you in your own country....” Then, after more polite talk, they rode together on their mules to the convent,