The Caged Lion eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 390 pages of information about The Caged Lion.

But while her shrieks and sobs were rending the air, a hoarse voice gasped out, ‘What say you?  My son Henri dead!’ and white and ghastly, the gray hair hanging wildly from the temples, the eyes roaming with the wistful gaze of the half insane, poor King Charles stood among them, demanding, ’Tell me I am sick again!  Tell me it is but one of my delusions!  So brave, so strong, so lively, so good to the poor old man!  My son Henri cannot die!  That is for the old, the sick!’

And when Sir Lewis with gentle words had made him understand the truth, he covered his face with his hands, and staggered away, led by his attendant knight, still murmuring in a dazed way, ’Mon fils Henri, mon bon fils Henri—­most loving of all my children!’

In truth, neither of his own sons had been thus mourned; nor had any person shown the poor crazed monarch the uniform deferential consideration he had received from Henry.  He crept back to his own chamber, and for many days hardly spoke, save to moan for his bon fils Henri, scarcely tasting food, and pining away day by day.  Those who had watched the likeness between the heroes of Monmouth and of Macedon, saw the resemblance carried out; for as the aged Persian queen perished away from grief for the courteous and gentle Alexander, so now the king of the conquered realm was actually wasting to death with mourning for his frank and kindly bon fils Henri.

As part of royal etiquette, Catherine betook herself to her bed, in a chamber hung with black, the light of day excluded, and ranks of wax tapers shedding a lugubrious light upon rows of gentlemen and ladies who had to stand there on duty, watching her as the mourners watched the King, though her lying-in-state was not always as silent; for though, there was much time spent in slumber, Catherine sometimes would indulge in a good deal of subdued prattle with her mother, or her more confidential attendants.  But at other times, chiefly when first awaking, or else when anything had crossed her will, she would fall into agonies of passionate grief—­weeping, shrieking, and rending her hair with almost a frenzy of misery, as she called herself utterly desolate, and screamed aloud for her king to return to her.

She was quite past the management of her English ladies on these occasions; and her mother, declaring that she was becoming crazed like her father, declined having anything to do with her.  Even Sir Lewis Robsart she used to spurn aside; and nothing ever seemed effectual, but for the Demoiselle de Luxemburg, with her full sweet voice, and force of will in all the tenderness of strength, caressingly to hold her still, talk to her almost as to an infant, and sing away her violence with some long low ditty—­sometimes a mere Flemish lullaby, sometimes a Church hymn.  As Lady Warwick said, when the ladies were all wearied out with the endeavour to control their Queen’s waywardness and violence, and it sighed away like a departing tempest before Esclairmonde, ’It was as great a charity as ever ministering as a St. Katherine’s bedeswoman could be.’

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The Caged Lion from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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