Joan of Naples eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 140 pages of information about Joan of Naples.

“And yet,” said Elizabeth, after a moment’s mournful reflection, “if I obey my presentiments, your news will make no difference to our plans for departure.”

“Nay, mother,” said Andre firmly, “you would not force me to quit the country to the detriment of my honour.  If I have made you feel some of the bitterness and sorrow that have spoiled my own young days because of my cowardly enemies, it is not from a poor spirit, but because I was powerless, and knew it, to take any sort of striking vengeance for their secret insults, their crafty injuries, their underhand intrigues.  It was not because my arm wanted strength, but because my head wanted a crown.  I might have put an end to some of these wretched beings, the least dangerous maybe; but it would have been striking in the dark; the ringleaders would have escaped, and I should never have really got to the bottom of their infernal plots.  So I have silently eaten out my own heart in shame and indignation.  Now that my sacred rights are recognised by the Church, you will see, my mother, how these terrible barons, the queen’s counsellors, the governors of the kingdom, will lower their heads in the dust:  for they are threatened with no sword and no struggle; no peer of their own is he who speaks, but the king; it is by him they are accused, by the law they shall be condemned, and shall suffer on the scaffold.”

“O my beloved son,” cried the queen in tears, “I never doubted your noble feelings or the justice of your claims; but when your life is in danger, to what voice can I listen but the voice of fear? what can move my counsels but the promptings of love?”

“Mother, believe me, if the hands and hearts alike of these cowards had not trembled, you would have lost your son long ago.”

“It is not violence that I fear, my son, it is treachery.”

“My life, like every man’s, belongs to God, and the lowest of sbirri may take it as I turn the corner of the street; but a king owes something to his people.”

The poor mother long tried to bend the resolution of Andre by reason and entreaties; but when she had spoken her last word and shed her last tear, she summoned Bertram de Baux, chief-justice of the kingdom, and Marie, Duchess of Durazzo.  Trusting in the old man’s wisdom and the girl’s innocence, she commended her son to them in the tenderest and most affecting words; then drawing from her own hand a ring richly wrought, and taking the prince aside, she slipped it upon his finger, saying in a voice that trembled with emotion as she pressed him to her heart—­

“My son, as you refuse to come with me, here is a wonderful talisman, which I would not use before the last extremity.  So long as you wear this ring on your finger, neither sword nor poison will have power against you.”

“You see then, mother,” said the prince, smiling, “with this protection there is no reason at all to fear for my life.”

“There are other dangers than sword or poison,” sighed the queen.

Project Gutenberg
Joan of Naples from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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