Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

peror, “ if your majesty has any compassion for your unfortunate prisoner you will see him without delay. You alone have power to cure his malady, which is caused by grief, and aggravated by mental irritation. That he cannot long survive if he continues in this state is quite certain, for his disease is beyond the reach of medicine. His physicians can do no more for him, and leave him to your majesty. If you abandon him, he will die, and then you will have a perpetual reproach upon your conscience. Save him, sire !--save him, while there is yet time!”

“Rest easy, madame, I will save him," said the Emperor, raising her. “I had no idea it had come to such a pass with your royal brother. I would not have him die for all my dominions. Haste and tell him so, madame. I will come to him speedily.”

“The message will give him new life, sire,” rejoined Marguerite. “I will prepare him for the visit.”

And with a grateful obeisance to the Emperor she retired, and, quitting the palace, hastened to the old Moorish castle in which François was confined.

As soon as the duchess was gone, Gattinara said to the Emperor, Sire, permit me to observe, that if you visit the king at this juncture, you must grant him his liberty unconditionally. Otherwise, your visit will be attributed to unworthy motives.

“Would you have the king die, as he infallibly will do, unless his Imperial Majesty sees him?” cried Bourbon.

“I have deemed it my duty to point out to his majesty the construction that will infallibly be put upon his visit,” rejoined Gattinara, gravely.

“The solid advantages of the victory are not to be sacrificed to an over-strained sense of honour,” remarked Lannoy. “If the king dies, all will be lost.”

"Humanity dictates the course to be pursued,” said Bourbon. "To refuse to see the king would be to condemn him to death.”

“ By Santiago ! I will see him," said the Emperor; "and, what is more, I will conclude the treaty with him. "Bring it with you, Gattinara. Now to the prison.”

II.

HOW THE TREATY OF MADRID WAS SIGNED.

WHEN Marguerite was admitted by the guard into the chamber in which her royal brother was confined, he was alone, and stretched upon a couch.

“I have good tidings for your majesty,” she cried, flying towards him, and taking his hand. “ The Emperor is coming to see you."

“It is too late,” said François. < He can do me no good now. I have lost all hope. Look here,” he added, taking a paper

VOL. LX.

from bencath the cushion on which he was reclining, “this is an act by which I renounce the crown of France, and place it in the hands of the Dauphin, exhorting my family and my people to regard me as dead—and most likely I shall be dead ere this act can be delivered to my son.”

“ I shall not need to take it,” she rejoined. “I am persuaded you will now be able to make terms with the Emperor.”

“ I will rather die than submit to his conditions,” rejoined the king

“ Hear me, François,” she said, “and do not think the course I am about to suggest unworthy of you. You must be delivered from this prison at any price.”

“ Not at the price of my honour, Marguerite,” he cried. “You cannot counsel that?”

“ You must dissemble with the tyrant, brother,” she rejoined. “You must beat him with his own weapons. A treaty signed in prison cannot be binding on you. The circumstances render it invalid. Promise all the Emperor asks—but perform only what is reasonable and just."

I must perform all I promise,” said François. “No,” she rejoined. “You are justified in deceiving a pitiless conqueror who abuses his position. France will absolve you.”

At this moment, the door was thrown open and gave admittance to the Emperor, who was attended by Bourbon, Lannoy, and Gattinara.

Charles V. paused near the door to look at his prisoner, and was sensibly touched by his altered appearance.

“ Can this be the magnificent François de Valois?” he muttered to Bourbon. “Mother of Heaven! how he is changed!”

“ Sadly changed, indeed, sire,” rejoined Bourbon. “Even I can pity him."

On beholding the Emperor, François raised himself with his sister's support, and said, in accents of mingled bitterness and reproach,

“ Your majesty has come to see your prisoner die.”

“No, I have come to bid you live,” rejoined Charles V., hastening towards him. “You are no longer my prisoner, but my friend and brother. From this moment you are free.”

As these gracious words were uttered, François withdrew from his sister, and flung his arms round the Emperor's neck. On recovering from his emotion, he said,

“I thank your majesty from the bottom of my heart for your goodness towards me. You have performed a magical cure. In giving me freedom you have instantly restored me to health and strength."

“I am rejoiced to hear it, my good brother,” rejoined Charles V. “ I should never have forgiven myself if aught had befallen you.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

You shall be liberated this very day—that is, as soon as we have arranged the terms of the treaty," he hastened to add. “ That is a necessary preliminary step, as you know.”

“Of course, sire,” rejoined the king. “We can settle the treaty now. I am well enough to attend to it.”

And, assisted by the Emperor and Marguerite, he rose from the couch, and seated himself near the table, on which writing materials were placed.

“ You have indeed recovered in a marvellous manner, my good brother," remarked Charles V., smiling.

“ It is all your doing, sire,” rejoined François. “But let us proceed to business. I repeat, I am quite equal to it.”

66'Twill be best that the matter should be concluded at once, brother,” said Charles V., seating himself opposite the king. “The treaty has already been drawn out by the grand-chancellor, and shall be read to you."

“ The treaty drawn out!” exclaimed François, frowning. " Then we cannot discuss the terms."

“ If we discuss the terms it may prolong your captivity, brother," rejoined Charles V.

“ Agree,” whispered Marguerite, who was standing near the king. “Well

, let me hear the conditions,” said François to Gattinara, who had unfolded a large parchment, and was preparing to read it.

“Give the substance of the treaty, my lord. I care not for the formalities."

“By this treaty, sire,” said Gattinara, “ you will cede to his Imperial Majesty all your pretensions to the kingdom of Naples, the duchy of Milan, Genoa, and Asti—in a word, all your rights in Italy."

He then paused for a moment, but as François made no observation, he went on:

“ You will also cede the duchy of Burgundy to his Imperial Majesty

« It should be restore,' rather than cede,' " interrupted Charles V., “ since the duchy was the patrimony of my ancestress, Mary of Burgundy. But proceed.”

“Your majesty will cede the duchy of Burgundy,” continued the chancellor, 6 the countship of Charolois, the signories of Noyers and of Château-Chinon, the viscounty of Auxonne, and the jurisdiction of Saint-Laurent.”

François uttered an exclamation of impatience, but was restrained by his sister, who grasped his hand.

“A moment's patience, brother,” remarked Charles V. “We will speak of Burgundy anon.”

“ Your majesty shall remove your protection from Henri d'Albret, who was taken prisoner at the battle of Pavia, but who

has since escaped, and prevail upon him to renounce the title of King of Navarre.”

“ Pâques Dieu! I cannot do this," cried François.
“Let the chancellor go on, brother,” said the Emperor.

“Your majesty shall likewise remove your protection from the Duke of Gueldres,” pursued Gattinara," the Duke of Würtemberg, and Robert de la Marck."

“By Saint Louis! I will not thus sacrifice my friends and allies!” cried François.

“Hear him out, brother !-hear him out!” said the Emperor. Gattinara paused for a moment, and then resumed. Aware of what was coming, Bourbon watched the king narrowly.

“Your majesty shall restore to the Duke de Bourbon all the lands, fiefs, and signories of which he has been deprived, and shall add to them Provence and Dauphiné. These states shall be erected into a kingdom to be possessed by the Duke de Bourbon, without tenure from the crown of France."

“ Never!” exclaimed François, rising. “I will remain in thraldom all my days rather than consent to this indignity. I agree to restore Bourbon's possessions, and will indemnify him for all his losses, but I will not dismember France in order to create a kingdom for him. Even if I were disposed to yield, the laws of the State are opposed to any such alienation, and would prevent it."

“I will take my chance of that,” remarked Bourbon, sternly. “What has been gained by the sword can be maintained by the sword. The condition must be subscribed."

“ The king agrees,” said Marguerite, as François, by her persuasion, sat down again.

At a sign from the Emperor, Gattinara went on.

“ Your majesty shall re-establish the Seigneur de Pomperant, and all the other partisans of the Duke de Bourbon, in their possessions. And you shall release the Prince of Orange, who has been confined in the castle of Lusignan, and deprived of his possessions for his zeal towards the Emperor."

“To the latter condition I unhesitatingly agree,” said François.

“ Lastly,” said Gattinara, "your majesty shall pay to the King of England five hundred thousand crowns, and to his Imperial Majesty as a ransom two millions.”

“These are onerous conditions, sire,” said François, as the chancellor concluded. “They appear hard now, but

you

will not think them so when you are at liberty, brother,” said the Emperor.

“ Neither will you be bound by them,” whispered Marguerite. “ The violence offered releases you from all engagements.”

“ His majesty must pledge his royal word to return to prison, if all the conditions of the treaty be not fulfilled within three months," said Lannoy

“ How say you, brother? Will you give that pledge?” de manded Charles V.

“ He will—he does!” interposed Marguerite. "Nay, madame, let the king speak for himself,” said the Emperor.

“I give the required pledge,” said François, with evident reluctance.

“ But your majesty must also give hostages for your good faith,” remarked Bourbon.

“Hostages!” exclaimed François.

“Yes, sire, hostages—hostages the most precious to yourself and to your people-your two elder sons. They must take your place, and remain in captivity till all be fulfilled.”

“Sire, you do not require this?” cried François.

If you mean fairly, brother—as I feel sure you do—where is the hardship?” rejoined Charles V. “I must have an exchange of prisoners.

"Assent," whispered Marguerite. “We will soon find means to liberate the princes.

“Well, sire, I must perforce agree," said François. “One point only remains," said the Emperor. “I would willingly have kept it separate, but circumstances require that it should form part of the treaty. It relates to my sister Leanor, the widowed

queen of Portugal.” “Yes, sire, and I now renew the proposal I have made to you respecting the queen,” said François. “Do you agree to give me her hand?"

“Sire,” interposed Bourbon, haughtily, "you have already promised your sister to me.”

“ Before giving that promise I ought to have consulted her," said Charles.

“You would have me to understand that she declines the alliance," said Bourbon.

“ The queen could scarce hesitate between a proscribed prince and a powerful monarch,” said Marguerite, in a tone that stung Bourbon to the quick.

“You mistake, madame,” he cried, sharply. “'Tis the prince who is powerful, and the king a prisoner. However, I relinquish

Your Imperial Majesty is free to bestow the queen your sister on whomsoever you list.'

“ Then, brother, she is yours," said the Emperor to François; “ and I may now tell you frankly that your chivalrous qualities have won her admiration, and that she can give you her heart as well as her hand. The alliance, I trust, will form a lasting bond of amity between us. By the terms of the treaty you are bound to cede Burgundy to me., I am willing that you should settle the duchy upon my sister, to revert to me in default of issue by the marriage.

my claim.

« ПредишнаНапред »