But there was no mercy in the girl, no more for him than for herself. The big head lay upon her breast; she caressed the gross hair of it ever so lightly. “These are tinsel oaths,” she crooned, as if rapt with incurious content; “these are the old empty protestations of all you strutting poets. A word gets you what you desire! Then why do you not speak that word? Why do you not speak many words, and become again as eloquent and as magnificent as you were when you contrived that adultery about which you were just now telling my husband?”
De Gatinais raised clenched hands. “I am shamed,” he said; and then he said, “It is just.”
He left the room and presently rode away with his men. I say that, here at last, he had done a knightly deed, but she thought little of it, never raised her head as the troop clattered from Mauleon, with a lessening beat which lapsed now into the blunders of an aging fly who doddered about the window yonder.
She stayed thus, motionless, her meditations adrift in the future; and that which she foreread left her not all sorry nor profoundly glad, for living seemed by this, though scarcely the merry and colorful business which she had esteemed it, yet immeasurably the more worth while.
THE STORY OF THE RAT-TRAP
“Leixant a part le stil dels trobados,
Dos grans dezigs ban combatut ma pensa,
Mas lo voler vers un seguir dispensa:
Yo l’vos publich, amar dretament vos.”
THE THIRD NOVEL.—MEREGRETT OF FRANCE, THINKING TO PRESERVE A HOODWINKED GENTLEMAN, ANNOYS A SPIDER; AND BY THE GRACE OF DESTINY THE WEB OF THAT CUNNING INSECT ENTRAPS A BUTTERFLY, A WASP, AND THEN A GOD; WHO SHATTERS IT.
The Story of the Rat-Trap
In the year of grace 1298, a little before Candlemas (thus Nicolas begins), came letters to the first King Edward of England from his kinsman and ambassador to France, Earl Edmund of Lancaster. It was perfectly apparent, the Earl wrote, that the French King meant to surrender to the Earl’s lord and brother neither the duchy of Guienne nor the Lady Blanch. This lady, I must tell you, was now affianced to King Edward, whose first wife, Dame Ellinor, had died eight years before this time.
The courier found Sire Edward at Ipswich, midway in celebration of his daughter’s marriage to the Count of Holland. The King read the letters through and began to laugh; and presently broke into a rage such as was possible (men whispered) only to the demon-tainted blood of Oriander’s descendants. Next day the keeper of the privy purse entered upon the house-hold-books a considerable sum “to make good a large ruby and an emerald lost out of his coronet when the King’s Grace was pleased to throw it into the fire”; and upon the same day the King recalled Lancaster. The King then despatched yet another embassy into France to treat about Sire Edward’s marriage. This last embassy was headed by the Earl of Aquitaine: his lieutenant was Lord Pevensey, the King’s natural son by Hawise Bulmer.