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days that he had discovered the fox's mode of entrance into, and exit from his hole, and that he would have the brush if they got up a foxhunt, the village boys had been eagerly waiting for an opportunity of testing his boast; and now, in the breaking up of the frost they, with what dogs they could find, set off in search of the marauder, which they had just seen carrying off a fine fowl. "My fowl!" said the landlady indignantly, from whom I had the account. Lavalette and Crawford had gone out to see what was going on, so the Spaniard and I sat down to breakfast. We lingered over it a good while. He was a very polished intelligent man, and I was sorry that he had made his arrangements to leave for Paris in the course of an hour. He politely drew the life of his ancestor" from his breast pocket, and presenting it to me, said, "That on his way back to-morrow he would call on us for a few seconds, when I was to return it." The snow, though still deep here and there, having left the roads tolerably open, I determined if my companions were willing, to leave likewise on the morrow, and when I mentioned this he seemed pleased, as we should then be fellow-travellers for a short time; so we parted.
Crawford and Lavalette at last came in to breakfast. The foxhunters had scattered in every direction with the dogs in search of the thief; the ground was too unsafe to follow them, and as it was, Lavalette had turned his ancle in clambering the uneven ground made dangerous by the slush of water and snow which filled it.
Our new acquaintance gone, and Lavalette laid up for the present, Crawford took up the book, so opportunely lent, and with very little hesitation commenced his translation.
CONTINUATION OF THE STORY OF THE LIFE OF ROGER DE LAURIA.
"As soon as the King of Aragon, Peter III., was dead, and before his own return to Sicily, Roger de Lauria obtained from his heir Don Alonso, a pledge to aid with all his force, and against every enemy, the Infante Don Jayme, now successor to the throne of the Island of Sicily. Thus assured, Roger put to sea with the fleet, but had the misfortune in his passage to Sicily to encounter a gale of wind, by which the fleet was dispersed, six galleys having foundered with the greater part of the treasure and plunder which had been taken in the recent battles, on board at the time. The gale lasted three days, and it was only by the extraordinary exertions and skill of the pilots that the fleet, now reduced to forty galleys, was at length collected and conducted, though much shattered, in safety to Trapani. The admiral immediately proceeded by land to Palermo, and communicated to Queen Constantia the news of the King, her husband's death. His son, Don Jayme, immediately assumed the title, and was crowned King of Sicily, at Palermo. As soon as the ceremony was over he sent De Lauria back to Spain to explain to his brother the state of matters in Sicily and Calabria, and also to see that nothing prejudicial to his interests took place in the negotiation for peace, then under discussion, with the Prince of Salerno, whom Peter III., a short time before his death, had sent for into Spain.
"The King of Aragon was anxious for peace, that he might have leisure to attend to the welfare and tranquillity of his dominions, and at the same time get rid of so near and powerful an enemy as France.
The Prince of Salerno also wished it, that he might recover his liberty and enjoy his crown, and the King of Sicily that he might strengthen himself in his newly acquired kingdom, which, he had every reason to suppose, would be guaranteed to him by the treaties then in progress. At the earnest request of the Prince of Salerno, the King of England had offered his mediation; but, notwithstanding his influence, and the general desire for peace, the intrigues of the Pope and the King of France, who would not consent to the conditions, upon which the King of Aragon agreed to release his prisoners, threw continual obstacles in the way.
"Truces were entered into, and before anything was arranged, those truces were as often broken.
"Meantime Roger de Lauria sailed with six galleys, ran down the Coast of Provence, attacked and plundered several towns on the coast, and returned to Catalonia with the booty, before the French squadron, very superior in number, could prevent or overtake him.
"During Roger's absence the King of Sicily gave the command of the fleet to Bernardo de Sarria, one of the most valiant officers of the time. Bernardo sailed with twelve galleys, manned with Catalan sailors, and after showing himself off the coast of Capua, ran over and took the Islands of Capri and Procida. He afterwards took the town of Astura, and having plundered and burned the villages and farmhouses in the neighbourhood of Sorento and Pasitano, he returned to Sicily loaded with booty.
"To check and counteract this marauding and plunder, the then governors of Naples fitted out a fleet, and prepared an army for the purpose of making a descent upon Sicily. The important affairs, which, at the time, exclusively engaged the attention of the King of Aragon, the absence of Roger de Lauria, and the secret correspondence which was maintained with some of the towns of the island, held out a promise of success to the undertaking, to secure which no exertion was spared.
"The command of the first division of the land forces was confided to the Bishop of Marturano, the Pope's Legate, and to Ricardo Murrono ; and Ranaldo de Avella-an officer greatly esteemed at the time-was the admiral in charge of the squadron on board which the troops were embarked. This expedition put to sea, and having reached Augusta, the troops landed. The town and castle were speedily invested and reduced, and having repaired and strengthened the fortifications of the latter, a garrison was left in it, when the squadron returned to Brindisi, where the bulk of their force was assembled.
"The naval equipments had been much neglected during the absence of de Lauria from Sicily; but as soon as he returned, and learned the capture of Augusta by the enemy, he immediately set about repairing those faults, and getting the fleet ready for sea.
"When the people of Sicily again saw the enemy in the island, and their formidable preparations at Brindisi, they began to blame the admiral, as if he were the cause of the present position of affairs. The courtiers too, who were envious of his fame, lent their aid to the slander, secretly accusing him with having neglected his duty in order to plunder the coast of Provence, and went so far as to whisper this base and groundless insinuation to the King.
"When Roger de Lauria got notice of those shameful designs of
his enemies, he was in the arsenal setting an example to the working men and urging them forward in their labours to fit the galleys for sea. The moment he heard it, without waiting to change his dress, but just as he was, profusely hot and covered with dust, and with an artizan's apron around his waist, he flew, boiling with indignation, to the palace, and there confronting his vile accusers in the presence of the King, proudly exclaimed
"What man is he-he who pretends to be ignorant of my toils, and is not yet satisfied with all I have done? Here I am-let him declare his accusation, and I am ready to answer him. If ye hold my actions and labours, to which ye owe your lives and properties, in contempt, point out what ye yourselves have done, and whether the victories are yours that have given ye a country and the roofs beneath which ye live, and the ease and luxuries of which ye boast. Ye were enjoying yourselves, whilst I was oppressed with the weight of toils and of arms. No care or thought disturbed your minds, whilst mine was busily engaged in providing for, and arranging the plan of the campaign. No sound of war alarmed the ease and quiet of your lives, whilst mine was exposed to both fatigue and death. I encountered the inclemency of winds and seas, whilst ye reposed beneath the shelter of your homes. The rower's bench was my bed at night, and my food such as your delicate palates would have rejected as loathsome and distasteful. In a word, hunger and weariness consumed me, while ye were wrapt in delicacies, and found safety in my labours. Weigh well my actions, and should the war last, consider who is likely to be the enemy's most formidable opponent. Then should ye forget my deserts, and cast me off, your ingratitude and calumny will not cause me as much shame and indignation as will your danger bring grief and sorrow of heart to yourselves for your blindness.' Then turning to his attendants, 'Go,' said he, and bring hither the trophies of my victories and renown-the banner of the Prince of Salerno-the spoils of Nicotera, Castrovecchio, and Taranto-those of Calabria, when I drove King Charles from Reggio. Bring hither the chains that bound the prisoners taken at Gerbes-the trophies that I won at San Felix and at Rosas-the spoils and treasure in Provence-fetch them all, and since the war is likely to continue, if there be a man among you more valiant than myself, let him in future command the fleets and armies of Sicily, and defend the kingdom against its enemies.'
"The eloquence and dignity with which these words were pronounced impressed the Court with admiration of the speaker, and put to silence all his enemies. The tale-bearers shrunk away abashed, not daring to contradiet him; and Roger, despising their envy and intrigues, strode away, and resumed his labours in the arsenal, and, by dint of great diligence and activity, he succeeded in a short time in getting forty galleys, well manned and equipped, ready for sea. When these preparations were all complete, he sailed in search of the enemy, while the King, having first provided for the security of Catania, the inhabitants of which he found out were in correspondence with the French, laid siege to Augusta, one of the most important fortresses in the island. The besieged defended themselves with gallantry and resolution; but, the number within the walls being large, and provision
falling short, the approach of famine compelled them to surrender. The three chiefs, who had landed with the first division of the French invading forces were taken in the fortress--namely, the Pope's Legate, General Murrono, and the Admiral Reynaldo de Avella. Amongst the prisoners was also a friar called Prono de Aydona, a Dominican, who had been the bearer of letters and instructions from the Pope meant to stir up the people of Sicily to revolt. This person had previously been intrusted with a similar mission, and when taken had been generously pardoned and set at liberty by the King; and even now, when caught a second time in the same act, out of respect for religion and the order to which the monk belonged, he ordered him to be pardoned and released. But, stung with shame, and rather than appear in the presence of the offended monarch, he dashed his head against the walls of his prison, and so put an end to his life.
"While matters were thus passing in Augusta, de Lauria learned that the enemy's fleet were assembled at Castelamar de Stabia, waiting a favourable opportunity to cross over to Sicily. This fleet consisted of eighty-four galleys, while that of Roger counted but forty. But he bore with him his skill and experience, his indomitable courage, and above all the prestige of his name and good fortune. The moment, therefore, that he reached Sorrento, he despatched a boat with a message to the enemy's commander, apprising him of his vicinity, and desiring him to prepare for battle. Upon receipt of this notice, the French fleet, on board of which a considerable number of lords and gentlemen of Provence were embarked, ranged itself in order of battle. Placing the two galleys, which carried the Neapolitan and Roman banners, in the centre, they stood out to meet the Sicilian and Aragonese fleet. Roger, too, had disposed his galleys in order of battle, and signified what vessels were to protect the royal banner, which he had placed in the centre. Then, giving directions about the manner in which the Catalan cross-bowmen were to ply their formidable artillery, the signal was thrown out to engage. A Sicilian vessel was the first in action. She was immediately surrounded by four French galleys, and, after a short but gallant struggle, compelled to surrender. Several Spanish and Sicilian galleys, hastening to her assistance, speedily retook her, whilst others assaulted the centre, where the knights and barons were for the most part stationed. The fleets were soon generally engaged, the French and Neapolitans being distinguished by their numbers and the courage with which they fought; whilst the Sicilians and Aragonese were conspicuous for the boldness of their attacks, and the skill with which they were conducted. Roger de Lauria, in complete armour, stood on the poop of his galley, animating his captains, and directing their movements. At the sound of their admiral's voice, which was heard above the noise of the battle, his men fought with renewed animation, while the courage of the enemy seemed evidently cowed and repressed. The action continued, however, for some time longer; but at last fortune declared in favour of the most skilful. Their very numbers prevented the French and Neapolitans from manoeuvring with dexterity. Acting confusedly and without concert, they fought rather to preserve honour than with any expectation of gaining the victory. Observing the disorder of the enemy, the Aragonese and Sicilians pressed the battle with more
vigour, committing great slaughter among them till, utterly routed and dismayed, they no longer offered any resistance. The vessels on board which the principal knights and barons were embarked were both taken, and the banners of France and Naples hauled down. Fortyfour galleys remained in possession of the Aragonese and Sicilians, the rest of the enemy's fleet having escaped under Henri de Mar, a man very dexterous in eluding such disasters.
"Having sent the captured galleys and five thousand prisoners to Messina, de Lauria appeared off Naples, which was again thrown into disorder by the defeat of its fleet, the people assembling in crowds, and shouting vivas' for the Aragonese admiral. In this emergency the governors of the kingdom consented to a truce with Roger, who thought that a suspension of arms would serve the King of Sicily's interests. The truce was accordingly arranged for a year and three months, it being stipulated that Ischia, which had been recovered by the French, should be restored to the King of Sicily. But Don Jayme (King of Sicily) refused to confirm this convention, alleging that he considered himself badly served by the Admiral for entering into it. The malevolence and jealousy of his enemies seized this opportunity to accuse him of treachery, saying that he had been bribed by the enemy's gold. Roger de Lauria had sent a messenger to the King of Aragon, requesting him, on his part, to confirm the truce; but that monarch, already prejudiced by the representations of his brother, also refused to give it his adherence, saying that he would accept and observe it, if the King of Sicily would consent to it, but not else.
"In the following year (1288) the Prince of Salerno obtained his liberty, subject to the following conditions-viz., that he paid a ransom of three-and-twenty thousand marks of silver, gave his sons Roberto and Luis as hostages, and interceded successfully with the King of France and the Pope for a truce of three years, to which the Prince himself was also to be a party. There were other articles besides, of which it is not necessary to speak. It is sufficient to observe that neither the King of France nor the Pope Nicholas IV. accepted any of them; that the Prince of Salerno was crowned by the Pope himself King of Sicily, and Lord of Apulia, Capua, and Calabria; and that the war burst forth with greater fury than ever.
"The King Don Jayme crossed over to Calabria, with an army for the purpose of reducing those places which had been retaken by the enemy, after which he meant to lay siege to Gaeta. Having recovered and punished many towns and fortresses, and forced the Count d'Artois to retire, who, with a large army, endeavoured to oppose him, Don Jayme marched along the coast and invested the strong castle of Belvedere. Roger de Sangeneto, lord of the surrounding country, was in the castle at the time. This nobleman had once been a prisoner of the King of Aragon, and had obtained his liberty through the interference of the Admiral, promising to submit himself and his castles to the obedience of the King, and leaving his two sons as hostages for his sincerity. But the faith which he had pledged to his former lord had more weight with Sangeneto than had his affection for his children; and the moment he was again at liberty, he prosecuted the war with his utmost vigour and all the resources of his extensive possessions,