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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

But Richard went on Then when I stormed Valmont


"Away,

away, wretch, murderer! Hew him to death, Louis! Ah! my boy! my boy!"

It was the Lady Ide. And at her cry Richard's face also grew ashen, but he did not quail.

"Dear lady," answered he, "I am all you say. Yet let me speak. Your son's men are all around; my life is in Louis's keeping."

"Away! away!" moaned the mother, "and as they kill you, let my curse still be in your ears! Each night I cry to God to remember the blood of Gilbert. Oh, may God's wrath be heavy upon you!"

"Lady," replied Richard, turning even paler, "God's wrath has indeed been heavy upon me! Let them seize and torture me, I do not fear."

And here Louis broke in, raging:--

"Enough of this! In Satan's name, will you add to your infamy by reviling my mother to her face? Ho, Robert, Aimeon,--this way!--drag him forth!"

But Sebastian looked straight into De Valmont's eyes.

"Peace, man of sin! Know that if Richard Longsword be indeed so accursed as you deem him, yet he is as Cain; for God has set a mark upon him, lest any finding him should slay him!"

And under the priest's terrible gaze the Provencal's hand left his sword-hilt, and he held down his head. Then to Lady Ide, Sebastian spoke:--

justify;">"Daughter, your sorrow is great. Nevertheless, I warn you. As you would stand at the judgment seat on the great Day, listen to the words of this knight."

And Lady Ide also bowed her head. Then Richard began: "Noble lady, the first cause of your sorrows lies not in me. My grandfather and your son Raoul quarrelled; on what account I know not. But as God is my just judge, the thing Raoul did to Baron Gaston, when he held him prisoner, cried to heaven. I slew Raoul in fair battle after he had tortured my grandfather, fettered in a dungeon."

And at this the mother burst forth:--

"Oh, holy St. Martin, but Raoul was a terrible man! Yes, I confess it, though it was I that bore him. Did I not plead with him not to torture Baron Gaston, and tell him the saints would requite tenfold?"

"Amen, daughter!" commented Sebastian, sternly.

"But Gilbert, my youngest, innocent as song-thrush! gentle as a little girl!" the lady wailed.

"And I will speak of him also," continued Richard. "Before I came to St. Julien, I had had quarrel with Sir Louis. Yet we warred in knightly fashion. Sir Louis lost the day, but there was no stain upon his honor. Still there was little love betwixt me and any of the De Valmont name when I went to Auvergne. Then I came to St. Julien, and saw my grandfather. Holy Cross! dear lady--could you have seen him, you would have melted with pity--all seared by fire, those sightless eyeballs!"

"No more! by every saint, no more!" moaned Lady Ide.

"When I saw him, and heard of Raoul, and heard that he had a younger brother Gilbert, I swore a great oath to Heaven that the Valmonts were a godless brood, and I would slay them all--all. For in my eyes Gilbert was but as his brother." Lady Ide groaned, but Richard went on: "Then when I stormed Valmont, I fought Raoul face to face and man to man, and he perished as befits a valiant cavalier. Whether my own sins are not now as great as his, let God judge; but if he died, he died--I dare to say it--not without cause."


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