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evening ; and indeed if the night be not very dark they may be heard on the wing for hours after nightfall. These are the times therefore which are chosen by the sportsman for effecting his purpose.
STILL ON THE BORDERS OF MARLY.
THE LAST DAY AT THE INN.
Evelyn, Crawford, and Lavalette.
“ Still at the moment that Aragon and Catalonia began to breathe under the delusive hope of peace, and while their king was making preparations to celebrate his nuptials with a daughter of the King of England, he died suddenly in the year 1291 at Barcelona, in the 27th year of his age. His death was generally lamented, as well for his love of virtue, his justice, and his liberal disposition (for which latter quality he was surnamed “el Franco"), as for having shown peace to the world, according to Mariana, although he was not able to secure it to it.
“By his will he named Don Jayme his successor, leaving the kingdom of Sicily to Don Fadrique; but in case Don Jayme should prefer remaining in Sicily, he appointed Don Fadrique first in succession to the Spanish dominions, and after him the Infante Don Pedro. But the moment he became aware of the death of his brother, Don Jayme sailed for Spain, and soon after he landed was crowned at Zaragoza, at the same time protesting that he did not succeed to the Spanish kingdoms and lordships by the will of his brother, but by the right of primogeniture. He also claimed the kingdoms of Sicily and Calabria by the same announcement, and took immediate steps for their security and defence. With the government of Calabria he intrusted Don Blasco de Alagon, a man of approved courage, and consummate prudence and ability. This warrior, having first established by moderation and sagacity his authority over the troops, who at first refused to obey him, then marched against the French, who still remained in the province, whom he encountered and defeated, taking their general Guido Primiano prisoner. This victory secured the province from the ravages
of the enemy, and at the same time confirmed and strengthened the authority of Don Blasco. But, as detractors and people envious of merit wherever it appears are never wanting, he was accused to Don Jayme of having taken Montalto, by which he broke the truce made with the enemy, and of coining money in contempt of the King's prerogative.
“ Being commanded to repair to Court to answer these accusations, he obeyed and returned to Spain. Before he went he did homage to Don Fadrique, his brother's lieutenant ; and then, as soon as he had cleared himself of the faults and crimes of which he had been accused and vindicated his honour, he returned to the defence of Sicily.
“ After the Siege of Gaeta, and pending the events of which we have been treating, Roger de Lauria ran down the coast of Barbary and took the town of Ptolomais by assault. At the desire of Don Alonso he was then sent to defend the coasts of Spain. As soon as that prince died, he sailed for Sicily, whence he accompanied the new king back to Spain ; but immediately after he had landed him he returned once more for the defence of Sicily and the coasts of Calabria.
“ The French in Calabria were at that time commanded by Guillen Estendardo, who, having received notice that the Sicilian fleet was about to anchor near Castella, placed four hundred cavalry in ambush near the shore, hoping to surprise Roger ; but the latter, who always was upon his guard and provided against such circumstances, defeating by foresight every wile and stratagem, disembarked his men with as much regularity and caution as if he were in presence of an enemy; Estendardo could not avoid fighting, and, although the number engaged were few, the combat notwithstanding was obstinate and well-contested. But the French general having been wounded, and with great difficulty rescued from capture, the victory at last declared in favour of Roger, who, listening only to the barbarous instigations of his severe disposition, put one of the prisoners—Ricardo de Santa Sophia-to death, because when governor of Cotron for the King of Aragon he had delivered up that place into the hands of the enemy. After the action he re-embarked his people, and, steering to the east, he entered and sacked the town of Malvasia by night. He then laid waste the island of Chio, after which he returned to Messina loaded with plunder.
“ Meantime the negotiations for peace between the hostile sovereigns still continued, which peace in the position of affairs the King of Aragon found it difficult to obtain on reasonable terms. The close alliance that existed between France and Naples, the adhesion of the popes to their party on account of the sovereignty which they (the popes) claimed and sought to establish over Sicily, the excommunication which had been passed upon the house of Aragon, the investiture of which king. dom had been given to Charles of Valois—all these circumstances combined to protract the negociations, and to prevent any arrangement that had not for its basis the renunciation of the island, unless indeed Don Jayme should in the meantime obtain such advantages as would compel his enemies to resign all pretensions to it. But those advantages could
not be expected from the forces at his command, still less from his own conduct, which was far from displaying the same spirit of magnanimity, liberality, and valour that distinguished his father Peter III. At length Don Jayme (James II.) yielded, and by renouncing all claim to Sicily, and undertaking to compel his mother and brother to leave the island by force of arms, if he could not prevail upon them to do so by other means, he adjusted a peace with the Church and the Kings of France and Naples. It was likewise arranged that he was to marry & daughter of the King of Naples, and by a secret article it was agreed that he should exchange the islands of Sardinia and Corsica for Sicily.
“As soon as the purport of those negociations reached Sicily, ambassadors were sent to the King of Aragon beseeching him either to cancel altogether or to reform a treaty wbich was so inimical to their interests. The King put them off with evasive replies till the treaty was concluded, but as soon as it was signed, and when he was on the point of celebrating his nuptials at Villabertran with a daughter of the King of Naples, he gave them his final answer-namely, that he had resigned all his rights and claims upon the kingdoms of Sicily and Calabria in favour of his father-in-law the King of Naples. The ambassadors listened to this declaration in the utmost consternation and dismay; and Cataldo Russo, one of the number, in presence of the King and the whole assembled court, thus expressed himself upon the occasion :
"In vain then have we Sicilians sustained the burden of such grievous wars, shed so much blood, and gained so many victories, if those very
defenders whom we had chosen, and to whom our fealty was pledged, deliver us now into the hands of our bitterest enemies? No! it is not the French, so often vanquished by land and by sea, that conquer Sicily! The King of Aragon forsakes us--the man who shows less courage in sustaining his own good fortune than do his enemies perseverance and endurance in confronting their reverses ! Sicily secured, all Calabria with many of the neighbouring provinces reduced, conquerors as often as we have fought, we Sicilians want but a king who can appreciate us and set a just value upon his own successes. Unhappy that we are ! what arguments can we urge with a monarch who, contemning every obligation both human and divine, not only abandons his most faithful subjects, but even places his mother and brothers in the power of their enemies? When they come to our houses they will sce the walls still stained with the blood of their friends ; and if we found them arrogant and cruel before, what treatment may we not expect at their hands when they shall be transported with rage and a thirst for vengeance at a sight that reminds them of the slaughter of their countrymen? Speak ! to whom are you about to deliver us? Is it to the Prince of Salerno, whom, when a prisoner for your cause and in your presence, we condemned to death? Shall we surrender your mother and your brothers into the hands of the son of that man who, in one day, deprived her father King Manfred of both life and kingdom? But wretchedness and injustice are in the end the parents of independence. The people of Sicily are not a flock of sheep that may be purchased for money and transferred from one hand to another at the will of the master. In the house of Aragon we sought & protector to whom we swore allegiance, and with whose assistance we drove our tyrants from the island and chastised their atrocities. If the house of Aragon now deserts us, we revoke that oath of allegiance, and shall look around us for a prince who may be able to defend us. From this moment we are no longer yours, nor his to whom you would transfer us. Command the castles and fortresses now in your possession to be given up to us; and then, owing vassalage to no man, we shall return to the same state in which your father Don Pedro found us when we received him as our king.'
“ These words, accompanied by every demonstration of sorrow and despair, touched with compassion all who heard them; and the King, who had already decided upon the course he should pursue, listened graciously to their demands for freedom, and then giving orders that the strongholds should be restored to them as they had requested, he dismissed them with a charge that they should be watchful over the safety of his mother and sieter, adding that he said nothing about the Infanta, Don Fadrique, because he was a true knight and knew himself what to do.
" Boniface VIII, at that time filled the pontifical throne-a pope celebrated as much for his ambition and sagacity as for his misfortunes. Prior to his election he had held some correspondence with Don Fadrique, and as soon as the latter heard that he was elevated to the papacy he sent an embassy to congratulate him thereon and bespeak his good offices. Boniface requested him to come and see him, and to bring with him John of Procida, Roger de Lauria, and some Sicilian nobles, whom he named for the purpose, he said, of regulating the affairs of Sicily, and consulting as to the best manner of adding to the dominions of Don Fadrique.
“ The interview between the pope and the prince took place at the mouth of the Tiber, not far from Rome; and when Boniface had an opportunity of observing the noble disposition of the Infanta, and the discretion and frankness of his conversation, he at once despaired of leading him to his purpose, which was to induce him to place Sicily under the control and guidance of the Holy See. As soon as they met the pope embraced him and gave Don Fadrique his holy benediction; then, observing that he was armed, he told him he was sorry there should be any cause why so young a man should embrace the profession of arms. He next turned to De Lauria, and, regarding him leisurely for some time, he exclaimed, “Is this the great enemy of the Church? the man who has slain so many people ?' Holy Father, replied Roger, I am that man; but the fault of so much mischief belongs rather to you and your predecessors than to me.'
“Conversing in this manner, the pope and Don Fadrique separated, Boniface first advising him to consent to the peace which his brother had concluded, and he promised to procure his marriage with Catalina, the niece of Baldwin, the last of the Latin Emperors of Constantinople
, and afterwards to assist him with the forces of France and of the Church to conquer that empire,
“No credit was given at first to the report that peace was made between the King of Aragon and the enemies of Sicily; but as soon as their ambassadors returned with Don Jayme's definitive answer and declaration, the Sicilians, drawing courage from despair, assembled in general parliament in Palermo, and requested Don Fadrique to take upon bimself the charge of the State. Having received this request and consented thereto, Don Fadrique appointed a day for the barons and chief lords of the island, with the syndics and procurators of the cities to assemble in Catania, and there take the oath of allegiance.
“ The moment the Pope became aware of the proceedings in Sicily, he sent ambassadors to try to counteract them, if possible ; but, on their arrival, they were driven from the island without a hearing. The King of Aragon, clearly foreseeing that there must be war between him and his brother, when all the force that he could muster would be wanting, had published an edict commanding all Catalan and Aragonese soldiers serving in Sicily to return to Spain. A few complied with this order ; but the greater part, acting under the advice and persuasion of Don Blasco de Alagon, who (in fulfilment of the promise which he had given to Don Fadrique to return to the island, had done so) remained in Sicily. Don Blasco explained to them that, as the kingdom of Sicily belonged of right to the Infanta, Don Fadrique, nothing ought to induce them to give their support to the claims of the French, who were the enemies of both Sicily and Aragon, and whose barbarous rule they were again endeavouring to establish over the island ; offering himself, at the same time, to maintain the prince's right against whatever power should attempt to contravene it.
“Don Blasco de Alagon was one of the most distinguished noblemen of the age, as well by birth and lineage as for his known virtues and deeds of prowess. His name and authority tended to keep together and hold in order a great number of his countrymen; and it may with truth be said that his presence in Sicily contributed more than anything else to the maintenance of its independence during the storm with which it was threatened.
“But the time was near at hand when the island was to be deprived of its best defender by the desertion of Roger de Lauria
Crawford ceased reading.
“We will keep the remainder for the evening,” he said, turning over the pages.
* We shall have to finish it to-day ; but, just now, I must go out and inquire what is become of the young fox-hunters, and if that garçon has got the brush.”