« AnteriorContinua »
triving how to do him mischief; and he invited to his house all the people of consequence in Paris who were discontented with the King : so that his house was filled with bad people, who were always contriving mischief against the King, and were disobedient to God. These people used to meet almost every evening to sup at the Marquis's ; and you would be shocked if I were to repeat to you the vile language which they used, and how they used to rail against their King and blaspheme their Maker. On these occasions they drank abundance of wine ; after which they used to play at cards for large sums of money ; and the Marquis and Marchioness, not being so clever in play as some others of the party, lost a great deal of money ; so that, what with their extravagance, and what with the money they lost at cards, they had almost wasted all they possessed, and were in debt to everybody who supplied them with any. thing.
“ Poor Henrie, although so young, understood very well the wicked way in which his father and inother went on; and though he did not dare to speak to his father about the manner of life he led, yet he spoke several times to his mother. He reminded her that death would come, and that then she must stand before God, and give an account of all her actions. * And, oh! my dear mother,' he would say, what will you think, when you see our Saviour coming in his glory with all his holy angels, of all those wicked and blasphemous words which are spoken by the company at supper every evening, and which you and my father laugh at, and look so much delighted with ?'
Sometimes the Marchioness would laugh at Henrie when he talked to her in this way ; and sometimes she would be quite angry, and tell him that he was meddling with things he could not understand. When Henrie found that his mother would not listen to any. thing he would say, he left off speaking to her upon
these subjects, and took to prayer. Every day he prayed for her and for his father, that God would turn their hearts : and he prayed so earn
arnestly, that he often got up from his knees with his face all bathed with tears. And God in his
heard his prayer ; for the faithful, fervent praying of a righteous man availeth much.
“Abusing the King, and forming schemes and contrivances, are called treason. It was not long before the treasonable practices of the Marquis, and the bad company he kept, were made known to the King, who, one night, without giving notice to any one, sent certain persons with a guard to seize the Marquis, and convey him to a strong castle in a very distant part of France, where he was to be confined for life ; at the same time, the King gave orders to seize all the Marquis's property for his own use. one night in the spring, just after the Marquis's wicked companions had taken their leave, that the persons sent by the King rushed into the Marquis's house, and, making him a prisoner in the name of the King, forced him into a carriage, with his wife and son; scarcely giving them time to gather together a little linen, and a few other necessary things, to take with them : amongst these, Henrie did not forget his little Bible, and an old Book of Martyrs, which he had bought at a book-stall a few days before.
“The Marquis and his family, well guarded, were hurried away so fast, that before the dawn of morning they were some miles from Paris. The Marquis then asked the persons who rode by the car. riage where they were taking him : they answered, that his plots against the King had been found out, and that he was going to be put into a place where it would be out of his power to execute any of his mischievous purposes.
On hearing this, the Marquis broke out into a violent rage, abusing the King, and calling him every vile name he could think of, after which he became sullen, and continued so to the end of his journey. The Marchioness cried almost without ceasing, calling herself the most miserable of women, and wishing she had never seen the Marquis. Henrie remained silent and patient, secretly praying that God would make these afflictions work together for good to his dear parents.
« At the end of several days, towards the evening, they entered into a deep road between two high hills, which were so near each other that from one hill the cottages and little gardens and sheepfolds, with the cows and sheep feeding, might be plainly seen on the other. As they went on further, they saw a little village on the right hand, among some trees; and, above the village, a large old castle, with high walls and towers, and an immense gateway with an iron gate.”
“Mamma," said Henry, stopping a moment, "the word castle has often been used in this story : it is some kind of a house, I suppose ; but I don't exactly know what kind.”
“In former times, my dear,” answered Mrs. Fairchild, “when men were more rough, and savage, and quarrelsome, than they are now, people used to build immense high buildings for their defence from their enemies, with towers, like the towers of our church, and strong walls round them, and immense gates, which could not be broken through without great force. These buildings were called castles, and there are still many of them standing in different parts of the world. Under these castles were generally dismal deep vaults or dungeons, where prisoners taken in war, or people who gave offence to the lords of these castles, were confined.”
“ Now I know what a castle is, mamma, Henry ; “so I will go on with my story:
“When the Marquis saw the castle he groaned,
for he supposed that this was the place in which he was to be confined ; and the Marchioness broke out afresh in crying and lamenting herself; but Henrie said no
one word. The carriage took the road straight to the castle, and the guard kept close, as if they were afraid the Marquis should strive to get away. They passed through the little village, and then saw the great gate of the castle right before them, higher up the hill. It was almost dusk before the carriage stopped at the castle-gate ; and the guards called to the porter (that is, the man who has the care of the gate) to open the gate, and call the governor of the castle. When the porter opened the gate, the guard took the Marquis out of the carriage, and, all gathering close round him, led him through the gates into the outer court of the castle, which was surrounded by dark high buildings, Henrie and his mother following. From thence he went through another gate, and up a number of stone steps, till they came to an immense hall, so big that it looked like a large old church ; from the roof of this hall hung several lamps, which were burning, for it was now quite dark. There the governor of the castle, a respectable-looking old officer, with a band of soldiers, met the Marquis, and received him into his charge. He spoke civilly to the Marquis, and kindly to Henrie and his mother. Do not afflict yourself, madam, he said: 'I am the King's servant, and must obey the King's orders ; but if I find that you and the Marquis are patient under your punishment, I shall make you as comfortable as my duty to the King will allow.' -To this kind speech the Marchioness only answered by breaking out like a child, crying afresh; and the Marquis was so sullen that he would not speak at all : but Henrie, running up and kissing the hand of the old gentleman, said, "Oh, sir! God will reward you for your kindness to my poor father and mother : you must pardon them if they are not able to speak.'
- You are a fine boy,' said the old gentleman ; it is a pity that at your age you should share your parents' punishment, and be shut up in this place.'Where my
father and mother are,' answered Henrie, 'I shall be best contented, sir ; I do not wish to be parted from them.'
“ The governor looked pleased with Henrie ; and giving his orders to his soldiers, they took up a lamp, and led the poor Marquis to the room where he was to be shut up for the remainder of his life. They led him through many large rooms, and up several flights of stone steps, till they came to the door of a gallery, at which a sentinel stood : the sentinel opened the door, and the Marquis was led along the gallery to a second door, which was barred with iron bars. Whilst the soldiers were unbarring this door, the Marquis groaned, and wished he had never been born ; and the poor Marchioness was obliged to lean upon Henrie, or she would have fallen to the ground. When the iron-barred door was opened, the guard told the Marquis and his family to walk forward : • For this,' said they, 'is your room. Accordingly, the Marquis and his wife and Henrie went on into the room, whilst the guard shut and barred the door behind them. One little lamp, hanging from the top of the room, but high above their reach (for the rooms in those old castles are in general very lofty), was all the light they had : by this light they could just distinguish a large grated window, a fire-place, a table, some chairs, and two beds placed in different corners of the room. However, the unhappy family offered not to go near the beds; but the Marquis and Marchioness, throwing themselves on the ground, began to rail at each other and at the King, and even at God. Poor Henrie endeavoured to soothe and comfort them, begging them to forgive each other, and not to make God more angry : but they pushed him from them, like people in a frenzy, saying, 'Go,