Joan of Naples eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 117 pages of information about Joan of Naples.

And when the queen made no answer, they went down again slowly to the garden, and kneeling one at the head, the other at the foot of the dead man, they began to recite penitential psalms in a low voice.  When they had spent an hour in prayer, two other monks went up in the same way to Joan’s chamber, repeating the same question and getting no answer, whereupon they relieved the first two, and began themselves to pray.  Next a third couple went to the door of this inexorable room, and coming away perturbed by their want of success, perceived that there was a disturbance of people outside the convent, while vengeful cries were heard amongst the indignant crowd.  The groups became more and more thronged, threatening voices were raised, a torrent of invaders threatened the royal dwelling, when the queen’s guard appeared, lance in readiness, and a litter closely shut, surrounded by the principal barons of the court, passed through the crowd, which stood stupidly gazing.  Joan, wrapped in a black veil, went back to Castel Nuovo, amid her escort; and nobody, say the historians, had the courage to say a word about this terrible deed.

CHAPTER V

The terrible part that Charles of Durazzo was to play began as soon as this crime was accomplished.  The duke left the corpse two whole days exposed to the wind and the rain, unburied and dishonoured, the corpse of a man whom the pope had made King of Sicily and Jerusalem, so that the indignation of the mob might be increased by the dreadful sight.  On the third he ordered it to be conveyed with the utmost pomp to the cathedral of Naples, and assembling all the Hungarians around the catafalque, he thus addressed them, in a voice of thunder:—­

“Nobles and commoners, behold our king hanged like a dog by infamous traitors.  God will soon make known to us the names of all the guilty:  let those who desire that justice may be done hold up their hands and swear against murderers bloody persecution, implacable hatred, everlasting vengeance.”

It was this one man’s cry that brought death and desolation to the murderers’ hearts, and the people dispersed about the town, shrieking, “Vengeance, vengeance!”

Divine justice, which knows naught of privilege and respects no crown, struck Joan first of all in her love.  When the two lovers first met, both were seized alike with terror and disgust; they recoiled trembling, the queen seeing in Bertrand her husband’s executioner, and he in her the cause of his crime, possibly of his speedy punishment.  Bertrand’s looks were disordered, his cheeks hollow, his eyes encircled with black rings, his mouth horribly distorted; his arm and forefinger extended towards his accomplice, he seemed to behold a frightful vision rising before him.  The same cord he had used when he strangled Andre, he now saw round the queen’s neck, so tight that it made its way into her flesh:  an invisible force, a Satanic impulse, urged him to strangle with his own hands the woman he had loved so dearly, had at one time adored on his knees.  The count rushed out of the room with gestures of desperation, muttering incoherent words; and as he shewed plain signs of mental aberration, his father, Charles of Artois, took him away, and they went that same evening to their palace of St. Agatha, and there prepared a defence in case they should be attacked.

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Joan of Naples from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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