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List Of Contents | Contents of Joan of Naples, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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pretext whatsoever.

This prohibition was not for the Count of Artois, for the reader will
remember that he was in the adjoining room.




CHAPTER III

Night fell, and from the Molo to the Mergellina, from the Capuano
Castle to the hill of St. Elmo, deep silence had succeeded the myriad
sounds that go up from the noisiest city in the world.  Charles of
Durazzo, quickly walking away from the square of the Correggi, first
casting one last look of vengeance at the Castel Nuovo, plunged into
the labyrinth of dark streets that twist and turn, cross and recross
one another, in this ancient city, and after a quarter of an hour's
walking, that was first slow, then very rapid, arrived at his ducal
palace near the church of San Giovanni al Mare. He gave certain
instructions in a harsh, peremptory tone to a page who took his sword
and cloak.  Then Charles shut himself into his room, without going up
to see his poor mother, who was weeping, sad and solitary over her
son's ingratitude, and like every other mother taking her revenge by
praying God to bless him.

The Duke of Durazzo walked up and down his room several times like a
lion in a cage, counting the minutes in a fever of impatience, and
was on the point of summoning a servant and renewing his commands,
when two dull raps on the door informed him that the person he was
waiting for had arrived.  He opened at once, and a man of about.
fifty, dressed in black from head to foot, entered, humbly bowing,
and carefully shut the door behind him.  Charles threw himself into
an easy-chair, and gazing fixedly at the man who stood before him,
his eyes on the ground and his arms crossed upon his breast in an
attitude of the deepest respect and blind obedience, he said slowly,
as though weighing each word--

"Master Nicholas of Melazzo, have you any remembrance left of the
services I once rendered you?"

The man to whom these words were addressed trembled in every limb, as
if he heard the voice of Satan come to claim his soul; then lifting a
look of terror to his questioner's face, he asked in a voice of
gloom--

"What have I done, my lord, to deserve this reproach?"

"It is not a reproach: I ask a simple question."

"Can my lord doubt for a moment of my eternal gratitude?  Can I
forget the favours your Excellency showed me?  Even if I could so
lose my reason and my memory, are not my wife and son ever here to
remind me that to you we owe all our life, our honour, and our
fortune?  I was guilty of an infamous act," said the notary, lowering
his voice, "a crime that would not only have brought upon my head the
penalty of death, but which meant the confiscation of my goods, the
ruin of my family, poverty and shame for my only son--that very son,
sire, for whom I, miserable wretch, had wished to ensure a brilliant
future by means of my frightful crime: you had in your hands the
proofs of this!

"I have them still."

"And you will not ruin me, my lord," resumed the notary, trembling;
"I am at, your feet, your Excellency; take my life and I will die in
torment without a murmur, but save my son since you have been so
merciful as to spare him till now; have pity on his mother; my lord,
have pity!"

"Be assured," said Charles, signing to him to rise; "it is nothing to
do with your life; that will come later, perhaps.  What I wish to ask
of you now is a much simpler, easier matter."

"My lord, I await your command."

"First," said the duke, in a voice of playful irony, "you must draw
up a formal contract of my marriage."

"At once, your Excellency."

"You are to write in the first article that my wife brings me as
dowry the county of Alba, the jurisdiction of Grati and Giordano,
with all castles, fiefs, and lands dependent thereto."

"But, my lord---" replied the poor notary, greatly embarrassed.

"Do you find any difficulty, Master Nicholas?"

"God forbid, your Excellency, but---"

"Well, what is it?"

"Because, if my lord will permit because there is only one person in
Naples who possesses that dowry your Excellency mentions."

"And so?"

"And she," stammered the notary, embarrassed more and more,--"she is
the queen's sister."

"And in the contract you will write the name of Marie of Anjou."

"But the young maiden," replied Nicholas timidly, "whom your
Excellency would marry is destined, I thought, under the will of our
late king of blessed memory, to become the wife of the King of
Hungary or else of the grandson of the King of France."

"Ah, I understand your surprise: you may learn from this that an
uncle's intentions are not always the same as his nephew's."

"In that case, sire, if I dared--if my lord would deign to give me
leave--if I had an opinion I might give, I would humbly entreat your
Excellency to reflect that this would mean the abduction of a minor."

"Since when did you learn to be scrupulous, Master Nicholas?"

These words were uttered with a glance so terrible that the poor
notary was crushed, and had hardly the strength to reply--

"In an hour the contract will be ready."

"Good: we agree as to the first point," continued Charles, resuming
his natural tone of voice.  "You now will hear my second charge.  You
have known the Duke of Calabria's valet for the last two years pretty
intimately?"

"Tommaso Pace; why, he is my best friend."

"Excellent.  Listen, and remember that on your discretion the safety
or ruin of your family depends.  A plot will soon be on foot gainst
the queen's husband; the conspirators no doubt will gain over Andre's
valet, the man you call your best friend; never leave him for an
instant, try to be his shadow; day by day and hour by hour come to me
and report the progress of the plot, the names of the plotters."

"Is this all your Excellency's command?"

"All."

The notary respectfully bowed, and withdrew to put the orders at once
into execution.  Charles spent the rest of that night writing to his
uncle the Cardinal de Perigord, one of the most influential prelates
at the court of Avignon.  He begged him before all things to use his
authority so as to prevent Pope Clement from signing the bull that
would sanction Andre's coronation, and he ended his letter by
earnestly entreating his uncle to win the pope's consent to his
marriage with the queen's sister.

"We shall see, fair cousin," he said as he sealed his letter, "which
of us is best at understanding where our interest lies.  You would
not have me as a friend, so you shall have me as an enemy.  Sleep on
in the arms of your lover: I will wake you when the time comes.  I
shall be Duke of Calabria perhaps some day, and that title, as you
well know, belongs to the heir to the throne."

The next day and on the following days a remarkable change took place
in the behaviour of Charles towards Andre: he showed him signs of
great friendliness, cleverly flattering his inclinations, and even
persuading Friar Robert that, far from feeling any hostility in the
matter of Andre's coronation, his most earnest desire was that his
uncle's wishes should be respected; and that, though he might have
given the impression of acting contrary to them, it had only been
done with a view to appeasing the populace, who in their first
excitement might have been stirred up to insurrection against the
Hungarians.  He declared with much warmth that he heartily detested
the people about the queen, whose counsels tended to lead her astray,
and he promised to join Friar Robert in the endeavour to get rid of
Joan's favourites by all such means as fortune might put at his
disposal.  Although the Dominican did not believe in the least in the
sincerity of his ally's protestations, he yet gladly welcomed the aid
which might prove so useful to the prince's cause, and attributed the
sudden change of front to some recent rupture between Charles and his
cousin, promising himself that he would make capital out of his
resentment.  Be that as it might, Charles wormed himself into Andre's
heart, and after a few days one of them could hardly be seen without
the other.  If Andre went out hunting, his greatest pleasure in life,
Charles was eager to put his pack or his falcons at his disposal; if
Andre' rode through the town, Charles was always ambling by his side.
He gave way to his whims, urged him to extravagances, and inflamed
his angry passions: in a word, he was the good angel--or the bad one
--who inspired his every thought and guided his every action.

Joan soon understood this business, and as a fact had expected it.
She could have ruined Charles with a single word; but she scorned so
base a revenge, and treated him with utter contempt.  Thus the court
was split into two factions: the Hungarians with Friar Robert at
their head and supported by Charles of Durazzo; on the other side all
the nobility of Naples, led by the Princes of Tarentum.  Joan,
influenced by the grand seneschal's widow and her two daughters, the
Countesses of Terlizzi and Morcone, and also by Dona Cancha and the
Empress of Constantinople, took the side of the Neapolitan party
against the pretensions of her husband.  The partisans of the queen
made it their first care to have her name inscribed upon all public
acts without adding Andre's; but Joan, led by an instinct of right
and justice amid all the corruption of her court, had only consented
to this last after she had taken counsel with Andre d'Isernia, a very
learned lawyer of the day, respected as much for his lofty character
as for his great learning.  The prince, annoyed at being shut out in
this way, began to act in a violent and despotic manner.  On his own
authority he released prisoners; he showered favours upon Hungarians,
and gave especial honours and rich gifts to Giovanni Pipino, Count of
Altanuera, the enemy of all others most dreaded and detested by the
Neapolitan barons.  Then the Counts of San Severino, Mileto, Terlizzi
and Balzo, Calanzaro and Sant' Angelo, and most of the grandees,
exasperated by the haughty insolence of Andre's favourite, which grew
every day more outrageous, decided that he must perish, and his
master with him, should he persist in attacking their privileges and

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