صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

reverend lord, should rather, methinks, rejoice, by one just blow, to rid your Church of such a blemish, than to be exposed to the charge of unworthily sheltering him therein."-For Sir Edward, as a Latin, viewed the Greek monasteries with a pardonable prejudice: and was by no means willing to see them made asylums for criminals.

"I was sure," replied the Archimandrite, bitterly, "that I should not lack my Lord Acolyth's good word. But I will call on your Majesty to remember that pure justice is not always wisdom; that at this time, in consequence of this attempt at the Union, your Majesty's sincere devotion to our Eastern Church is somewhat questioned by some-far be it from me to agree with them! but yet, I say, by some that have the ears of the people,—and to punish Joasaph capitally would not tend to lessen that ill rumour."

[ocr errors]

'My lord," said Constantine with dignity, "what is really right, is really expedient. We shall never suffer ourselves to be swayed in our duty, or turned from it by popular opinion. Nevertheless, as we said, all the mercy that we can show to so well known a Priest, and so noted a brother of the Studium, we shall desire to extend. And it is something in this man's favour that he opposed to the utmost of his power the most infamous part of the scheme, that touching the Lady Theodora Phranza.”

"My lord Cæsar," said Phranza, "I wish not to be swayed by any personal consideration in this business. If I thought that it were really for the good of the empire that he should die, my sentence should be for death, though he had spoken thrice as much on my daughter's behalf. But I think that, considering the state of things generally, the need there is of pacification, the fact that we dare not trace out this conspiracy too widely and deeply through all its branches,-the certainty that the

common people will overlook the desperate villainy of this man,—and surely regard him as a martyr to his dislike of the Union, perpetual imprisonment were a better doom than death. Not, my Lord Archimandrite, in the Studium, but in such a prison as the Cæsar shall, in his wisdom, judge fit."

"We will be guided by your advice," said Constantine; "of ourselves we are ever disposed to mercy. If He That harrowed hell hath forgiven us, we are bound also to forgive."

"Save, sire," said Phranza, "where forgiveness to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent. I trust there is no one here who would for a moment advise the extension of mercy to the others. The Great Duke and the Emir should die, though an angel pleaded for them; the others should have promise of their life on condition of revealing all they know of the conspiracy."


"The next

So be it," said Constantine Palæologus. question is, How are we to treat with the Turks ?"

At this moment, a sergeant of the Varangian guard knocked at the door with intelligence that Sir Edward de Rushton was wanted without, on business of importance. The knight requested the leave of the Emperor, and on going into the antechamber found, to his equal delight and astonishment, Contari and Burstow.

"Now GOD be praised!" said he-" we had been told that you had all lost your lives in the attempt. How is it with your party ? Where is the Lord Chrysolaras ?" In as few words as possible, Burstow acquainted him with all that had passed; and then added,—

"I should not have ventured thus to intrude on the Council, my lord, but that the report goes you have a Pasha prisoner in this hellish plot. Is that so ?"

[merged small][ocr errors]

"Yes," answered De Rushton.

"And I deemed that, before the Emperor's word was pledged to any course with him, he should know that Lord Chrysolaras was a prisoner. I am sure the Sultan will not release him for ransom; but for such a prisoner he perhaps might."

"You did well," said Sir Edward. "Return to the Exarch, and see that both he and his family, and the good Priest of whom you speak, be taken all care of; and tell them that as early as may be to-morrow I will wait upon them. Where are they now ?"

"At the Lord Chrysolaras's palace," replied the Varangian. "The Exarch so requested; and Lord Manuel had himself mentioned it."

"It is well," said De Rushton. "I am sure that the Cæsar will forget neither you nor Contari. Fare you well both! I must return to him with speed."

"Well, my lord ?" said Constantine rather anxiously, as the Great Acolyth entered the room.

"Good news, Sire! The prisoners we deemed lost are returned, all but Lord Chrysolaras,—and he is not dead, but a prisoner at Hadrianople. They have had some hairbreadth escapes-which your Majesty may desire to hear at a less busy time. The Varangian Burstow, whom your Majesty remembers, deemed that, in dealing with this Redschid Pasha it might much concern your Splendour to know what had happened to Chrysolaras ; in order that if need be, an exchange might be effected between the two."

"GOD has heard our Litany," said the Emperor. "They are well cared for ?"

"At the Lord Chrysolaras's house, Sire."

"I will be the first to visit that poor girl," said Phranza, joyfully. "I have done her injustice, and need

is I make reparation. Now, Sire, I can go to this work with a light heart."

"Would that all offenders could make reparation as easily!" said Constantine. "But we must not lose time. Let us begin with mercy. Let the Monk Joasaph be called in; and, Secretary, be exact in your notes."

Joasaph was presently introduced between two Varangians. He was a tall, dark, dangerous looking man: his eyes were deep set, black, and with the sparkle of live coals; his beard unusually long; his forehead high; he had drawn the cowl as much as possible over his face,but he stood erect, and seemed undaunted at the imminent danger in which he found himself.

"It grieves us deeply," said the Emperor, after looking at him for half a minute with a stern glance under which even Joasaph's eye quailed, "it grieves us deeply to find, as the prime mover of a plot against not only ourselves, but against the very existence of the Church wherein he is Priest, to find, we say, a Caloire,—a learned man too,—a brother of the First Monastery in the world. You deny not the charge ?"

"If your Majesty means, that I deny not the conspiracy,-I glory in it," replied Joasaph. "But it was to save our Church from the accursed Azymites, and the execrable Union, that I would have put an end to the existence of the State. And what of that? A few months sooner, or a few months later, it must come at last. Emperor, the next time that Autumn chases the leaves as I have just seen them,-along the gardens of Constantine, your throne will have been swept away like them, will be trodden to the ground like them, will be contemptible like them. Come it must; why seek by these subterfuges to put off"

"Sir Monk," interrupted Constantine, "placed as you

are, about to receive sentence for a crime which no subtilty can excuse or justify, it had better become you to ask pardon first of your GOD, and then of your Emperor, than to use such vain and impious sophisms. It is decreed, say you, that our throne is to fall. Be it so. To GOD's will we shall not be the last to submit with cheerfulness. We shall fall, I am bold to say it, like a Christian and an Emperor: and these brave men, and others like them, if they cannot be victors, will at least be martyrs. But may a man bring about a deed of blood, because it is ordained? Then were Iscariot excused."

"I die," said Joasaph, " for opposing the Union. You judge me now: GOD will judge you hereafter. I say no


"You would deserve to die," replied Constantine, gravely, "not for opposing the Union, but for selling the city to the Turks rather than submit to it. But in consideration of your office, and lest the vulgar cry should resemble what you have even now said yourself, we will be merciful far beyond your deserts. Your sentence is perpetual imprisonment: that. the necessity of the State, and the well-being of those whom you would otherwise pervert, no less demand than your own guilt."

"Take notice," said Joasaph, "that this union will not prosper; that GOD's curse is upon it; that all good men"Take him off! Take him off, guard!" cried Phranza. Keep him in the guard-room till further orders be issued. Is it your Majesty's will that the Great Duke should be summoned ?”

[ocr errors]

"Let him be brought in," said Constantine. "My Lord Acolyth, is that day which is breaking ?" and he pointed to one of the windows.

"It had broken, my liege, when I was called out even now. Accept the omen, Sire."

« السابقةمتابعة »