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words, or fixed her eyes and compressed her lips, in a manner that seemed to Jacqueline quite awful, when coupled with the memory of Giles Postel's dark accusation. She shuddered often as she caught the stern expression of her mother's face, half in shade and half lighted by the pale red blaze that rose from the brazier and tinged its outlines. Chime after chime had been told by the castle clock since the attendants had retired, but Countess Marguerite took no note of the increasing hours, and Jacqueline, certain that it was long past midnight, was yet unwilling to urge her mother's departure; for she herself felt spell-bound, wishing, yet daring not, to broach the subject she would have given worlds to speak on. She hoped her mother would give some opening which might lead to it; and while anxiously watching for such, she started with surprise, and a dread she was quite unused to, as the old countess suddenly exclaimed— * “Van Vlyett did not then die for nought !” * “Oh, was he then guilty?” cried Jacqueline involuntarily. * “Guilty 1" repeated the mother. “Perhaps he gave the draught, which was drugged by another hand—perhaps thy perfidious uncle was sent prematurely to his doom—all that may be ; and by the law the agent of justice is called guilty in such a case. So far poor Van Vlyett paid the forfeit of this deed, which restores thee to thy rights, my child; and as they now seem secured by these late victories, I say he did not die for nought.” ‘Jacqueline saw she had misunderstood her mother's exclamation. She shuddered while Van Vlyett's crime was thus almost admitted and openly defended; and the acknowledgment that he had an accomplice terrified her quite. But it will be believed it was not for the reputation of Giles Postel she was alarmed. She would have uttered that name at once, and have plainly mentioned the insinuations he spread abroad, but she was restrained by dread of a bold avowal on her mother's part. She now scarcely doubted her guilt, and she dared not risk destroying its only negative disproof, by forcing a confession, perhaps a vaunt of complicity. * “Good mother,” said she with averted eyes, “let us not rake the ashes of the dead—if Van Vlyett did the deed for which he suffered, God assoil him, and grant that it may not lead to war and mischief instead of the good you see . " “How now, Jacqueline ! desponding in the very hour of triumph 1” * “Not so, my mother—but still uncertain of results, and doubtful if a cause resting upon crime deserve success.” ‘Jacqueline felt that she had said too much—that she had almost upbraided her mother. She would have qualified her words or claim pardon for them—but she felt as though that would be adding insult to accusation. The reply to her observations relieved her from that anxiety only by entailing a greater. “My daughter!” said Countess Marguerite, “when wilt thou learn by experience strength of mind, as thou hast by nature boldness of heart? How mayst thou contend with cares of state and thy many foes, if thou canst not see that expediency and justice mean the same? Can villainy be softened by fair words, or the wolf subdued by the bleatings of the lamb 2 Must not a trap be laid for the monsters of the forest, and an ambush set for pitiless men? Is it crime to rid ourselves of tyranny ? Thy cause is good, my child—Heaven prospers it! But not till usurping Burgundy and imbecile Brabant lie as quiet in their tombs as does old John of Liege, art thou indeed secure. Thou must become a widow, Jacqueline. Death, who has no rival for his sceptre, must sign thy divorce, since they cavil at Pope Benedict. Then Glocester shall have no impediment between him and thy arms. And when my one weak nephew sleeps the long sleep, who knows but Philip, the strong one, the insatiate robber of thy rights, may find his hour at hand, and leave thee wholly freel Heaven is good, my daughter, to raise up instruments for the helpless; witness Van Vlyett, if he did the deed—Glocester, whose bravery is thy right arm And others may spring up in thy hour of need—or act in thy behalf, my child, without exposing themselves or thee to danger. So now to bed, to bed, and dream of happy days Think that thy mother watches and prays for thee. Hark! Two o'clock How the hours fly! I am late—to bed, my Jacqueline—rest thee well !” “A kiss accompanied these words; and though her mother's lips had never prest hers as softly as she thought a mother's should, Jacqueline fancied that they were never so harsh as now. The kiss thrilled through her frame. She could not return it; and she made no attempt to speak in reply to the final blessing, which was murmured over her. The dowager took her ready-lighted lamp, and hastened from the room by a door opening into her daughter's private closet, and thence communicating with a o: joining her own, of which passage the two countesses alone kept the keys. ‘Jacqueline gazed at her mother's figure as it passed away, as lightly as though innocence and youth impelled it. She would not trust herself to follow up in thought the contrast which the truth presented. She was thoroughly unhappy; and a sense of fear oppressed her, as though she had been in contact with something unholy; for, added to the dread of her mother's complicity in the deed that was done, was the fear that she contemplated others as atrocious. She endeavoured to sleep, but in vain— or if for a few brief minutes she sunk in slumber, scenes that would have taken hours in real action crowded upon her in frightful succession. The blackened face and writhing form of her poisoned uncle—Van Vlyett, on his jibbet–Giles Postel mixing the fatal draught, or reeking with the blood of the slaughtered prisoners, were the principal objects; and the figure of her mother gliding through every scene added a tenfold horror to each. She started at length from her unquiet bed. Her lamp was expiring. She felt as though she had been asleep for hours; and unable to support the torture of her doubts and fears, she suddenly resolved to rise to seek her mother, and at once put an end to her suspense, let conviction bring what pain it might. She wrapped her night-cloak round her, took from a table the key of the private passage, and passed into her closet without a moment's pause. She applied her key to the lock with no hesitating hand, for she rather wished to give notice of her approach. She entered the passage, and as she gained the opposite door that opened to her mother's closet, she stopped an instant and heard the clock strike three. She doubted for a moment if she were not the sport of magic,+again she thought that she still slept— for how could such an age of torture have been compressed into one little hour? Recovering this check she pursued her way, unlocked the door, entered the closet, and soon hurried through it into the adjoining bedroom. The lamp which the Countess Marguerite had carried away still faintly glimmered on the table. Jacqueline approached the bed with a half desperate determination to waken the sleeper, and resolve the question of her innocence or guilt. As she raised the curtain her hand trembled, her heart sunk, and she again felt overpowered with the dread of having her fears confirmed. But then in a moment of convulsive haste she raised the velvet drapery; and to her mixed relief and terror she saw that the bed was untenanted.
“Starting back in alarm, a pang of personal" fear was her next sensation—why or wherefore she knew not. But might not her mother, in her turn, have fallen a victim to the fate she so remorsely invoked for others? and might not some treacherous hand be near to deal the blow to her ? As she stood transfixed with fear, a murmuring sound broke on her ear, proceeding from the little chapel, which was only separated by a small anteroom from the bed-chamber. It was her mother's voice It sounded like accents from Heaven.
* “Thank God, thank God!” cried Jacqueline, dropping on her knees and clasping her hands, “she is safe—she is at prayer while I suspected, and was almost ready to accuse her of crime !”’—Jacqueline of Holland, vol. i. pp. 267–277.
He whom Marguerite had here designated as ‘old John of Liege,’ was Jacqueline's uncle, the Bishop of Liege, who had, in his life time, deprived her for a season of her dominions, by main force, under some shallow pretext. There is no doubt that he died by poison, the murder having been concerted by Marguerite, with her instrument Giles Postel, and the fatal draught having been administered by Van Vlyett, a gentleman of Holland, who was subsequently tried and executed for the crime. Jacqueline now finds her mother again engaged in the concoction of a similar deed.
‘Springing on her feet again, she felt irresistibly impelled to steal towards the chapel, to witness and join in the orisons which affected her so deeply. She moved quietly across the floor and into the ante-room. The door communicating directly with the chapel was open ; and this temple for private worship—or perhaps for secret sin—was hung at each side with tapestry, so placed as to admit of one person gliding between it and the wall, without touching either. The deep and earnest tones of Countess Marguerite's voice came from the upper end, near the altar; and Jacqueline stole along for some yards, to where she knew some cunning oylet-holes were left in the broidered web, to allow of an observer looking through without much chance of detection. Anxious not to disturb her mother's solemn devotions, she scarcely ventured to breathe; and placing her eye to one of the interstices, she looked on with pious anxiety.
* She saw her mother indeed—but how accompanied ? She sat at a table close below the altar-steps; beside her were two men leaning and listening to her hollow sounding-voice; on the table were two tall brass cantilesticks, from the tapers of which a lurid gleam fell down upon the group, shewing several open rolls of parchment, two daggers and an iron collar, an old instrument of torture, while Jacqueline, gasping from suppressed agitation, recognised beyond doubt in one of the men, the odious countenance of the murderer, Giles Postel. His look was as usual, dogged and determined. It was impossible to read in it any reflection of Countess Marguerite's discourse. Whatever that might be, his mind seemed quite made up. Not so with the other man. He was also young, but his face gleamed with an expression of uncertain fanaticism, as if his whole soul was in the affair debated, but its purpose not decided on. He leaned forward, holding the edge of the table firmly with each hand, and staring into the dowager's face as she lectured or read. Her back was to Jacqueline, who only saw by her gestures that she was in argument rather than mere conversation, and with evident reference to the parchment before her, which she held open with one hand, and occasionally pointed to or struck with the other. Jacqueline was for some minutes unable to comprehend a word of what was uttered. Confused, shocked, and alarmed, all buzzed in her ears. The chambers of her brain seemed at once to echo the sounds and render them indistinct. The first words she understood were positively from scripture Was then her mother indeed at prayer? Was she reading from the sacred scroll passages of comforting import to the ruffian who had slandered her, and to his unknown but ingenuous-looking companion ? The thought was one of those meteor gleams which hope casts across a generous mind, wishing to think well of another, and striving to shut out the less dazzling light of truth, when that other is a relative and bught to be a friend. But in the present instance reality soon dissipated the illusion. Taking advantage of a moment's pause in the Countess Marguerite's discourse, the stranger said, with a constrained energy of manner— or * “But even supposing, most gracious Madam, that I, a liege subject of our much honoured and grievously injured lady, Countess Jacqueline, have a right to slay her oppressor—and the weighty reasons you have adduced almost convince me that I have—am I authorised as well to slay this duke without hearing what he has to say in his own defence? Let me be better assured on that head, I pray you. I have considered and studied it well—but St. Austin, in his Civitas Dei, is strong on the point— “Whoever slays even a criminal,” says he, “without lawful authority, shall be judged guilty of murder, velut homicida judicabitur !' What say the pleadings on that head ' " “Thy scruples, young man, do thee credit, and thy learning proves thee studious as well as virtuous. Great honour do I hold it to engage such a youth in our holy cause. Hearken, then . Thus saith the pleading—‘It is lawful for any subject without any particular orders from any one, but from divine, moral, and natural law, to slay a tyrant; as may be proved by twelve reasons, in honour of the twelve apostles. The first three reasons are drawn from the authorities of three moral philosophers—three others from St. Augustine's dogmas of sacred theology—three from writers on the civil law—and three from examples drawn from holy scripture.”’— Jacqueline of Holland, vol. i. pp. 278—282.
The arguments of Marguerite are derived from “the pleading of Master Jean Petit, in defence of the Duke of Burgundy's having obtained the murder of his cousin-german, the Duke of Orleans,” which is given by Monstrelet at full length, and is certainly one of the most curious documents of the times. After some time spent in discussing the point, she prevails: the youth undertaking for John of Brabant, Giles Postel for Philip of Burgundy.
* “I am now then ready for your bidding,” said John Chevalier, with a solemn tone.
***Lay down the dagger, then,” replied the dowager. “Thou shalt do a deed of safe and lawful death—but I leave to this gallant squire the task of a bloody sacrifice and a desperate risk. Look at this collar !” and with the words she took up the rusted engine of suffering which lay on the table. “This instrument is made to fit all necks—a clasp more or less straitens or sets it loose—the throat it circles in the grasp of a bold hand, may be made soon to rattle in death, or if the culprit merit delay he can be left to linger as long as justice deems his meed. Methinks, good champion of a righteous cause, the narrowest span will best suit Duke John of Brabant! so take it with thee; seek his privacy on some forged commission. Even if detected, and this trinket found upon thee, what does it prove? 'Tis out of use, and none may suspect it for its purpose—it is a good dissembler, and may teach thee a lesson. It was picked up by chance —a curious relic, bought for a trifle, digged from a ruin, or what not ? A scholar as thou art, bold Chevalier, needs not the hints of a simple matron such as me. But read the precepts and reasonings of the divine doctor whose noble writings are in thy bosom ; do as I have done, and learn the whole by heart—to thee, learned youth, an easy task—to ine a work of labour and hard study. But thirst for knowledge can only be quenched at the deep fount of truth—and there I have found it.” * “I take this collar and this sacred scroll, as the symbols of truth and justice, on the mission of which I now enter,” exclaimed Chevalier, enveloping both objects in his cloak. “No danger shall hold me back, no torture terrify me, no power absolve me from my vow. What is once consecrated can never be desecrated—such is one mighty precept of theology —and I stand here its living type l’ ““And what wilt thou do, in this good cause ?” said the dowager, turning to Giles Postel. * “Plunge this blade into Philip's heart!” was the brief and calmlyuttered reply. * “Enough—enough 1” exclaimed the presiding priestess of these diabolical orgies. “Now let us all break up; and with the dawn be ye both on your several routes. Replace these holy candlesticks on the altar— recommend yourselves to your saints, and speed you on your work : Good night brave friends, I thank you for my daughter as for myself.” * “I need not her thanks,” muttered Postel. * “I will work out my claim to call myself her devoted servitors" said Chevalier aloud. Jacqueline shrunk back, half imagining that the glance of his protruding eyes was fixed on hers. “In a minute or two after the dowager had retired, Giles Postel took up the candlesticks, and with irreverent carelessness scrambled upon the altar and placed them in their wonted stations. While this went on, Jacqueline, bent on one purpose, let the cost be what it might, slipped quietly round behind the altar, and gaining the opposite side of the chapel, stationed herself close to the door of entrance from the great corridor, still screened behind the tapestry. When Postel had finished his task, she heard him say to his companion, * “Well then, wait here awhile—I will descend and see that all is safe below, and quickly return to conduct thee through the private passage. Meanwhile thou canst say a few paters and aves, or a short prayer for the souls we shall soon send to purgatory.” vol. III. (1831.) No. 1. I