“As God lives, I too regret that time!” the bluff, squinting King replied. He stared at Richard for a while wherein each understood. “Dear fool,” Sire Henry said, “there is no man in all the world but hates me saving only you.” Then the proud King clapped spurs to his proud horse and rode away.
More lately Richard dismissed his wondering marauders. Now he and Branwen were alone and a little troubled, since each was afraid of that oncoming moment when their eyes must meet.
So Richard laughed. “Praise God!” he wildly cried, “I am the greatest fool unhanged!”
She answered: “I am the happier for your folly. I am the happiest of God’s creatures.”
And Richard meditated. “Faith of a gentleman!” he declared; “but you are nothing of the sort, and of this fact I happen to be quite certain.” Their lips met then and afterward their eyes; and each of these ragged peasants was too glad for laughter.
THE STORY OF THE NAVARRESE
“J’ay en mon cueur joyeusement
Escript, afin que ne l’oublie,
Ce refrain qu’ayme chierement,
C’estes vous de qui suis amye.”
THE NINTH NOVEL.—JEHANE OF NAVARRE, AFTER A WITHSTANDING OF ALL OTHER ASSAULTS, IS IN A LONG DUEL, WHEREIN TIME AND COMMON-SENSE ARE FLOUTED, AND KINGDOMS ARE SHAKEN, DETHRONED AND RECOMPENSED BY AN ENDURING LUNACY.
The Story of the Navarrese
In the year of grace 1386, upon the feast of Saint Bartholomew (thus Nicolas begins), came to the Spanish coast Messire Peyre de Lesnerac, in a war-ship sumptuously furnished and manned by many persons of dignity and wealth, in order suitably to escort the Princess Jehane into Brittany, where she was to marry the Duke of that province. There were now rejoicings throughout Navarre, in which the Princess took but a nominal part and young Antoine Riczi none at all.
This Antoine Riczi came to Jehane that August twilight in the hedged garden. “King’s daughter!” he sadly greeted her. “Duchess of Brittany! Countess of Rougemont! Lady of Nantes and of Guerrand! of Rais and of Toufon and Guerche!”
She answered, “No, my dearest,—I am that Jehane, whose only title is the Constant Lover.” And in the green twilight, lit as yet by one low-hanging star alone, their lips and desperate young bodies clung, now, it might be, for the last time.
Presently the girl spoke. Her soft mouth was lax and tremulous, and her gray eyes were more brilliant than the star yonder. The boy’s arms were about her, so that neither could be quite unhappy, yet.
“Friend,” said Jehane, “I have no choice. I must wed with this de Montfort. I think I shall die presently. I have prayed God that I may die before they bring me to the dotard’s bed.”
Young Riczi held her now in an embrace more brutal. “Mine! mine!” he snarled toward the obscuring heavens.