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List Of Contents | Contents of Joan of Naples, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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must add, in justice--so did Joan's objections weaken.  The Hungarian
rule, as it became, more and more arbitrary and unbearable, irritated
men's minds to such a point, that the people murmured in secret and
the nobles proclaimed aloud their discontent.  Andre's soldiers
indulged in a libertinage which would have been intolerable in a
conquered city: they were found everywhere brawling in the taverns or
rolling about disgustingly drunk in the gutters; and the prince, far
from rebuking such orgies, was accused of sharing them himself.  His
former tutor, who ought to have felt bound to drag him away from so
ignoble a mode of life, rather strove to immerse him in degrading
pleasures, so as to keep him out of business matters; without
suspecting it, he was hurrying on the denouement of the terrible
drama that was being acted behind the scenes at Castel Nuovo.
Robert's widow, Dona Sancha of Aragon, the good and sainted lady whom
our readers may possibly have forgotten, as her family had done,
seeing that God's anger was hanging over her house, and that no
counsels, no tears or prayers of hers could avail to arrest it, after
wearing mourning for her husband one whole year, according to her
promise, had taken the veil at the convent of Santa Maria delta
Croce, and deserted the court and its follies and passions, just as
the prophets of old, turning their back on some accursed city, would
shake the dust from off their sandals and depart.  Sandra's retreat
was a sad omen, and soon the family dissensions, long with difficulty
suppressed, sprang forth to open view; the storm that had been
threatening from afar broke suddenly over the town, and the
thunderbolt was shortly to follow.

On the last day of August 1344, Joan rendered homage to Americ,
Cardinal of Saint Martin and legate of Clement VI, who looked upon
the kingdom of Naples as being a fief of the Church ever since the
time when his predecessors had presented it to Charles of Anjou, and
overthrown and excommunicated the house of Suabia.  For this solemn
ceremony the church of Saint Clara was chosen, the burial-place of
Neapolitan kings, and but lately the tomb of the grandfather and
father of the young queen, who reposed to right and left of the high
altar.  Joan, clad in the royal robe, with the crown upon her head,
uttered her oath of fidelity between the hands of the apostolic
legate in the presence of her husband, who stood behind her simply as
a witness, just like the other princes of the blood.  Among the
prelates with their pontifical insignia who formed the brilliant
following of the envoy, there stood the Archbishops of Pisa, Bari,
Capua, and Brindisi, and the reverend fathers Ugolino, Bishop of
Castella, and Philip, Bishop of Cavaillon, chancellor to the queen.
All the nobility of Naples and Hungary were present at this ceremony,
which debarred Andre from the throne in a fashion at once formal and
striking.  Thus, when they left the church the excited feelings of
both parties made a crisis imminent, and such hostile glances, such
threatening words were exchanged, that the prince, finding himself
too weak to contend against his enemies, wrote the same evening to
his mother, telling her that he was about to leave a country where
from his infancy upwards he had experienced nothing but deceit and
disaster.

Those who know a mother's heart will easily guess that Elizabeth of
Poland was no sooner aware of the danger that threatened her son than
she travelled to Naples, arriving there before her coming was
suspected.  Rumour spread abroad that the Queen of Hungary had come
to take her son away with her, and the unexpected event gave rise to
strange comments: the fever of excitement now blazed up in another
direction.  The Empress of Constantinople, the Catanese, her two
daughters, and all the courtiers, whose calculations were upset by
Andre's departure, hurried to honour the arrival of the Queen of
Hungary by offering a very cordial and respectful reception, with a
view to showing her that, in the midst of a court so attentive and
devoted, any isolation or bitterness of feeling on the young prince's
part must spring from his pride, from an unwarrantable mistrust, and
his naturally savage and untrained character.  Joan received her
husband's mother with so much proper dignity in her behaviour that,
in spite of preconceived notions, Elizabeth could not help admiring
the noble seriousness and earnest feeling she saw in her daughter-in-
law.  To make the visit more pleasant to an honoured guest, fetes and
tournaments were given, the barons vying with one another in display
of wealth and luxury.  The Empress of Constantinople, the Catanese,
Charles of Duras and his young wife, all paid the utmost attention to
the mother of the prince.  Marie, who by reason of her extreme youth
and gentleness of character had no share in any intrigues, was guided
quite as much by her natural feeling as by her husband's orders when
she offered to the Queen of Hungary those marks of regard and
affection that she might have felt for her own mother.  In spite,
however, of these protestations of respect and love, Elizabeth of
Poland trembled for her son, and, obeying a maternal instinct, chose
to abide by her original intention, believing that she should never
feel safe until Andre was far away from a court in appearance so
friendly but in reality so treacherous.  The person who seemed most
disturbed by the departure, and tried to hinder it by every means in
his power, was Friar Robert.  Immersed in his political schemes,
bending over his mysterious plans with all the eagerness of a gambler
who is on the point of gaining, the Dominican, who thought himself on
the eve of a tremendous event, who by cunning, patience, and labour
hoped to scatter his enemies and to reign as absolute autocrat, now
falling suddenly from the edifice of his dream, stiffened himself by
a mighty effort to stand and resist the mother of his pupil.  But
fear cried too loud in the heart of Elizabeth for all the reasonings
of the monk to lull it to rest: to every argument he advanced she
simply said that while her son was not king and had not entire
unlimited power, it was imprudent to leave him exposed to his
enemies.  The monk, seeing that all was indeed lost and that he could
not contend against the fears of this woman, asked only the boon of
three days' grace, at the end of which time, should a reply he was
expecting have not arrived, he said he would not only give up his
opposition to Andre's departure, but would follow himself, renouncing
for ever a scheme to which he had sacrificed everything.

Towards the end of the third day, as Elizabeth was definitely making
her preparations for departure, the monk entered radiant.  Showing
her a letter which he had just hastily broken open, he cried
triumphantly--

"God be praised, madam!  I can at last give you incontestable proofs
of my active zeal and accurate foresight."

Andre's mother, after rapidly running through the document, turned
her eyes on the monk with yet some traces of mistrust in her manner,
not venturing to give way to her sudden joy.

"Yes, madam," said the monk, raising his head, his plain features
lighted up by his glance of intelligence--" yes, madam, you will
believe your eyes, perhaps, though you would never believe my words:
this is not the dream of an active imagination, the hallucination of
a credulous mind, the prejudice of a limited intellect; it is a plan
slowly conceived, painfully worked out, my daily thought and my whole
life's work.  I have never ignored the fact that at the court of
Avignon your son had powerful enemies; but I knew also that on the
very day I undertook a certain solemn engagement in the prince's
name, an engagement to withdraw those laws that had caused coldness
between the pope and Robert; who was in general so devoted to the
Church, I knew very well that my offer would never be rejected, and
this argument of mine I kept back for the last.  See, madam, my
calculations are correct; your enemies are put to shame and your son
is triumphant."

Then turning to Andre, who was just corning in and stood dumbfounded-
at the threshold on hearing the last words, he added--

"Come, my son, our prayers are at last fulfilled you are king."

"King!" repeated Andre, transfixed with joy, doubt, and amazement.

"King of Sicily and Jerusalem: yes, my lord; there is no need for you
to read this document that brings the joyful, unexpected news.  You
can see it in your mother's tears; she holds out her arms to press
you to her bosom; you can see it in the happiness of your old
teacher; he falls on his knees at your feet to salute you by this
title, which he would have paid for with his own blood had it been
denied to you much longer."

"And yet," said Elizabeth, after a moment's mournful reflection, "if
I obey my presentiments, your news will make no difference to our
plans for departure."

"Nay, mother," said Andre firmly, "you would not force me to quit the
country to the detriment of my honour.  If I have made you feel some
of the bitterness and sorrow that have spoiled my own young days
because of my cowardly--enemies, it is not from a poor spirit, but
because I was powerless, and knew it, to take any sort of striking
vengeance for their secret insults, their crafty injuries, their
underhand intrigues.  It was not because my arm wanted strength, but
because my head wanted a crown.  I might have put an end to some of
these wretched beings, the least dangerous maybe; but it would have
been striking in the dark; the ringleaders would have escaped, and I
should never have really got to the bottom of their infernal plots.
So I have silently eaten out my own heart in shame and indignation.
Now that my sacred rights are recognised by the Church, you will see,
my mother, how these terrible barons, the queen's counsellors, the
governors of the kingdom, will lower their heads in the dust: for
they are threatened with no sword and no struggle; no peer of their
own is he who speaks, but the king; it is by him they are accused, by

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