On the way to the inn, Max, who was of course very happy, told me what had happened in the oak room and added:—
“I look to you, Karl, to help me with father.”
“That I will certainly do,” I answered. I could not resist saying: “We came to Burgundy with the hope of winning the princess. Fortune has opened a door for you by the death of her father. Don’t you wish to try?”
“No,” said Max, turning on me. A moment later he added, “If Yolanda were but the princess, as I once believed she was, what a romance our journey to Burgundy would make!”
My spirits were somewhat dampened by Castleman’s words concerning the French king. Surely they were true, since King Louis was the last man in Europe to forego the opportunity presented by the death of Charles. Should the Princess Mary lose Burgundy just at the time when Max had won her, my disappointment would indeed be great, and Max might truly need my help with his father.
A TREATY WITH LOUIS XI
The next day Castleman and I were called to the castle, and talked over the situation with the duchess and the Princess Mary. In the midst of our council, in walked Hymbercourt and Hugonet. They were devoted friends of Mary.
Our first move was to send spies to the court of France; so two trusted men started at once. Paris was but thirty leagues distant, and the men could reach it in fifteen hours. Half a day there should enable them to learn the true condition of affairs, since they carried well-filled purses to loosen the tongues of Cardinal Balau and Oliver the Barber. The bribery plan was Mary’s, and it worked admirably.
Within forty-eight hours the spies returned, and reported that King Louis, with a small army, was within fifteen leagues of Peronne. He had quickly assembled the three estates at Paris, all of whom promised the king their aid. In the language of the chancellor, “The commons offered to help their king with their bodies and their wealth, the nobles with their advice, and the clergy with their prayers.” This appalling news set Peronne in an uproar.
Recruiting officers were sent out in all directions, the town was garrisoned, and fortifications were overhauled. Mary was again in trouble, and the momentous affairs resting on her young shoulders seemed to have put Max out of her mind. I expected her to call him into council and reveal herself, but she did not.
On the day after we learned of King Louis’ approach, the princess called Hymbercourt, Hugonet, Castleman, and myself to her closet and graciously asked us to be seated about a small table.
“I have formed a plan that I wish to submit to you,” she said. “I’ll send to King Louis an invitation to visit me here at Peronne, under safeguard. When he comes, I intend to offer to restore all the cities that my father took from him, if he will release me from the treaty of marriage, and will swear upon the Cross of Victory to support me against my enemies, and to assist me in subduing Ghent, now in rebellion. What think you of the plan?”