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Belhs Cavaliers
by [?]

For this RAIMBAUT DE VAQUIERAS lived at a time when prolonged habits of extra-mundane contemplation, combined with the decay of real knowledge, were apt to volatilize the thoughts and aspirations of the best and wisest into dreamy unrealities, and to lend a false air of mysticism to love. . . . It is as if the intellect and the will had become used to moving paralytically among visions, dreams, and mystic terrors, weighed down with torpor.

Fair friend, since that hour I took leave of thee
I have not slept nor stirred from off my knee,
But prayed alway to God, S. Mary’s Son,
To give me back my true companion;
And soon it will be Dawn.

Fair friend, at parting, thy behest to me
Was that all sloth I should eschew and flee,
And keep good Watch until the Night was done:
Now must my Song and Service pass for none?
For soon it will be Dawn.

RAIMBAUT DE VAQUIERAS.–Aubade, from F. York Powell’s version.

You may read elsewhere of the long feud that was between Guillaume de Baux, afterward Prince of Orange, and his kinsman Raimbaut de Vaquieras. They were not reconciled until their youth was dead. Then, when Messire Raimbaut returned from battling against the Turks and the Bulgarians, in the 1,210th year from man’s salvation, the Archbishop of Rheims made peace between the two cousins; and, attended by Makrisi, a converted Saracen who had followed the knight’s fortunes for well nigh a quarter of a century, the Sire de Vaquieras rode homeward.

Many slain men were scattered along the highway when he came again into Venaissin, in April, after an absence of thirty years. The crows whom his passing disturbed were too sluggish for long flights and many of them did not heed him at all. Guillaume de Baux was now undisputed master of these parts, although, as this host of mute, hacked and partially devoured witnesses attested, the contest had been dubious for a while: but now Lovain of the Great-Tooth, Prince Guillaume’s last competitor, was captured; the forces of Lovain were scattered; and of Lovain’s lieutenants only Mahi de Vernoil was unsubdued.

Prince Guillaume laughed a little when he told his kinsman of the posture of affairs, as more loudly did Guillaume’s gross son, Sire Philibert. But Madona Biatritz did not laugh. She was the widow of Guillaume’s dead brother–Prince Conrat, whom Guillaume succeeded–and it was in her honor that Raimbaut had made those songs which won him eminence as a practitioner of the Gay Science.

Biatritz said, “It is a long while since we two met.”

He that had been her lover all his life said, “Yes.”

She was no longer the most beautiful of women, no longer his be-hymned Belhs Cavaliers–you may read elsewhere how he came to call her that in all his canzons–but only a fine and gracious stranger. It was uniformly gray, that soft and plentiful hair, where once such gold had flamed as dizzied him to think of even now; there was no crimson in these thinner lips; and candor would have found her eyes less wonderful than those Raimbaut had dreamed of very often among an alien and hostile people. But he lamented nothing, and to him she was as ever Heaven’s most splendid miracle.

“Yes,” said this old Raimbaut,–“and even to-day we have not reclaimed the Sepulcher as yet. Oh, I doubt if we shall ever win it, now that your brother and my most dear lord is dead.” Both thought a while of Boniface de Montferrat, their playmate once, who yesterday was King of Thessalonica and now was so much Macedonian dust.

She said: “This week the Prince sent envoys to my nephew. . . . And so you have come home again—-” Color had surged into her time-worn face, and as she thought of things done long ago this woman’s eyes were like the eyes of his young Biatritz. She said: “You never married?”