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Sword Of Truth Phantom Epub 30 REPACK

ON the 1st of September, when the baths of the Pyrenees begin to have efficacy, several persons from France, Spain and other countries were assembled at those of Cauterets, some to drink the waters, some to bathe in them, and others to be treated with mud; remedies so marvelous, that patients given over by physicians go home cured from Cauterets. My intention is not to speak to you either of the situation or the virtue of the baths; but only to recount what is pertinent to the matter I am about to write. The patients remained at these baths until they found themselves sufficiently improved in health; but then, as they were preparing to return home, there fell such excessive and extraordinary rains, that it seemed as though God had forgotten his promise to Noah that he would never again destroy the world with water. The houses of Cauterets were so flooded that it was impossible to abide in them. Those who had come from Spain returned over the mountains the best way they could, such of them as knew the roads coming best off. But the French lords and ladies, thinking to return to Tarbes as easily as they had come from it, found the rivulets so swollen as to be scarcely fordable; and when they came to the Béarnese Gave, which was not two feet deep when they crossed it on their way to the baths, they found it so enlarged and so impetuous that they were forced to turn out of their direct course and look for bridges. These, however, being only of wood, had been carried away by the violence of the current. Some attempted to break its force by crossing it several together in one body; but they were swept away with such rapidity that the rest had no mind to follow them. They separated, therefore, either to look for another route, or because they were not of the same way of thinking. Some crossed the mountains, and passing through Aragon, arrived in the county of Roussillion, and thence in Narbonne. Others went straight to Barcelona, and crossed over by sea to Marseilles or to Aigues-mortes.But a widow of long experience, named Oisille, resolved to banish from her mind the fear of bad roads, and repair to Notre Dame de Serrance; not that she was so superstitious as to suppose that the glorious Virgin would quit her place at her son's right hand to come and dwell in a desert land, but only because she wished to see the holy place of which she had heard so much; and also because she was assured that if there were any means of escaping from a danger, the monks were sure to find it out. She met with no end of difficulties; but at last she arrived, after having passed through places almost impracticable, and so difficult to climb and descend, that notwithstanding her age and her weight, she was compelled to perform the greater part of the journey on foot. But the most piteous thing was that most of her servants and horses died on the way, and that she arrived with one man and one woman only at Serrance, where she was charitably received by the monks. There were also among the French two gentlemen who had gone to the baths rather to accompany the ladies they loved than for any need they themselves had to use the waters. These gentlemen, seeing that the company was breaking up, and that the husbands of their mistresses were taking them away, thought proper to follow them at a distance, without acquainting any one with their purpose. The two married gentlemen and their wives arrived one evening at the house of a man who was more a bandit than a peasant. The two young gentlemen lodged at a cottage hard by, and hearing a great noise about midnight they rose with their varlets, and inquired of their host what was all that tumult. The poor man, who was in a great fright, told them it was some bad lads * who were come to share the booty that was in the house of their comrade the bandit. The gentlemen instantly seized their arms and hastened with their varlets to the aid of the ladies, holding it a far happier fate to die with them than to live without them. On reaching the bandit's house they found the first gate broken open and the two gentlemen and their servants defending themselves valorously; but as they were outnumbered by the bandits, and the married gentlemen were much wounded, they were beginning to give way, having already lost a great number of their servants. The two gentlemen, looking in at the windows, saw the two ladies weeping and crying so hard, that their hearts swelled with pity and love, and falling on the bandits like two enraged bears from the mountains, they laid about them with such fury, that a great number of the bandits fell, and the rest fled for safety to a place well known to them. The gentlemen having defeated these villains, the owner of the house being among the slain, and having learned that the wife was still worse than himself, despatched her after him with a sword-thrust. They then entered a room on the basement, where they found one of the married gentlemen breathing his last. The other had not been hurt, only his clothes had been pierced and his sword broken; and seeing the aid which the two had rendered him, he embraced and thanked them, and begged they would continue to stand by him, to which they assented with great good-will. After having seen the deceased buried, and consoled the wife as well as they could, they departed under the guidance of Providence, not knowing whither they were going.If you would know the names of the three gentlemen, that of the married one was Hircan, and his wife's Parlamente. The widow's name was Longarine. One of the young gentlemen was called Dagoucin, and the other Saffredent. They were in the saddle all day, and towards evening they descried a belfry, to which they made the best of their way, not without toil and trouble, and were humanely welcomed by the abbot and the monks. The abbey is called St. Savin's. The abbot, who was of a very good house, lodged them honorably, and on the way to their lodgings begged them to acquaint him with their adventures. After they had recounted them, he told them they were not the only persons who had been unfortunate, for there were in another room two ladies who had escaped as great a danger, or worse, inasmuch as they had encountered not men but beasts; for these poor ladies met a bear from the mountain half a league this side of Peyrchite, and fled from it with such speed that their horses dropped dead under them as they entered the abbey gates; and two of their women, who arrived long after them, reported that the bear had killed all their men-servants. The two ladies and the three gentlemen then went into the ladies' chamber, where they found them in tears, and saw they were Nomerfide and Ennasuite. They all embraced, and after mutually recounting their adventures, they began to be comforted through the sage exhortations of the abbot, counting it a great consolation to have so happily met again; and next day they heard mass with much devotion, and gave thanks to God for that he had delivered them out of such perils.Whilst they were all at mass, a man came running into the church in his shirt, and shouting for help, as if some one was close at his heels. Hircan and the other gentlemen hastened to him to see what was the matter, and saw two men pursuing him sword in hand. The latter would have fled upon seeing so many people, but Hircan and his party were too swift for them, and they lost their lives. On his return, Hircan discovered that the man in the shirt was one of their companions named Geburon. His story was, that being at a cottage near Peyrchite, he had been surprised in his bed by three men. Springing out in his shirt he had seized his sword, and mortally wounded one of them; and whilst the two others were busy succoring their comrade, Geburon, seeing that the odds were two to one against him, and that he was naked whilst they wore armor, thought his safest course was to take to his heels, especially as his clothes would not impede his running. He too praised God for his deliverance, and he thanked those who had revenged him.After the company had heard mass and dined they sent to see if it were possible to pass the Gave river, and were in consternation at hearing that the thing was impracticable, though the abbot entreated them many times to remain with him until the waters had abated. This they agreed to for that day, and in the evening, when they were about to go to bed, there arrived an old monk who used to come regularly every September to Our Lady of Serrance. Being asked news of his journey, he stated that, in consequence of the flood, he had come by the mountains, and traveled over the worst roads he had ever seen in his life. He had beheld a very sad spectacle. A gentleman named Simontault, tired of waiting till the river should subside, had resolved to attempt the passage, relying on the goodness of his horse, and had made his domestics place themselves round him to break the force of the current; but when they reached the middle of the stream the worst mounted were swept away and were seen no more. Thereupon the gentleman made again for the bank he had quitted. His horse, good as it was, failed him at his need; but by God's will this happened so near the bank, that the gentleman was able at last to scramble on all fours to the hard, not without having drunk a good deal of water, and so exhausted that he could hardly sustain himself. Happily for him a shepherd, leading back his sheep to the fields in the evening, found him seated on the stones, dripping wet, and not less sad for the loss of his people who had perished before his eyes. The shepherd, who understood his need both from his appearance and his words, took him by the hand and led him to his cabin, where he made a little fire and dried him as well as he could. That same evening Providence conducted to the cabin the old monk, who told him the way to Our Lady of Serrance, and assured him that he would be better lodged there than elsewhere, and that he would find there an aged widow named Oisille, who had met with an adventure as distressing as his own.The company testified extreme joy at hearing the names of the good dame Oisille and the gentle knight Simontault; and every one praised God for having saved the master and mistress after the loss of the servants. Parlamente especially gave hearty thanks to God, for she had long had a most affectionate servant in Simontault. They inquired carefully about the road to Serrance, and though the good old man represented it to them as very difficult, nothing could stop them from setting out on that very day, so well provided with all things necessary that nothing was left for them to wish for. The abbot supplied them with the best horses in Lavedan, good Bearnese cloaks, wine, and plenty of victuals, and a good escort to conduct them in safety across the mountains. They traversed them more on foot than on horseback, and arrived at last, after many toils, at Our Lady of Serrance. Though the abbot was churlish enough, he durst not refuse to lodge them, for fear of disobliging the lord of Bearn, by whom he knew they were held in consideration; but like a true hypocrite as he was, he showed them the best possible countenance, and took them to see the lady Oisille and the gentleman Simontault. All were equally delighted to finding themselves so miraculously reassembled, and the night was spent in praising God for the grace he had vouchsafed them. After taking a little rest, towards morning they went to hear mass, and receive the holy sacrament of union, by means of which all Christians are united as one, and to beg of God, who had reassembled them through his goodness, the grace to complete their journey for his glory.After dinner they sent to know if the waters were fallen, but finding, on the contrary, that they were still higher, and that it would be a long time before they could pass safely, they resolved to have a bridge made, abutting on two rocks very near each other, and on which there still are planks used by people on foot, who coming from Oleron wish to pass the Gave. The abbot, very well pleased at their incurring an expense which would increase the number of pilgrims, furnished them with workmen; but he was so miserly that he would not contribute a farthing of his own. The workmen, however, having declared that it would take at least ten or twelve days to construct the bridge, the company began to grow tired. Parlamente, the wife of Hircan, always active and never melancholy, having asked her husband's permission to speak, said to old dame Oisille, "I am surprised, madam, that you, who have so much experience that you fill the place of a mother to the rest of us women, do not devise some amusement to mitigate the annoyance we shall suffer from so long a delay; for unless we have something agreeable and virtuous to occupy us, we are in danger of falling sick.""What is still worse," said Longarine, the young widow, "we shall grow cross, which is an incurable malady; the more so as there is not one of us but has cause to be extremely sad, considering our several losses.""Every one has not lost her husband like you," said Ennasuite, laughing. "To have lost servants is not a matter to break one's heart about, since they can easily be replaced. However, I am decidedly of opinion that we should pass the time away as agreeably as we can."Nomerfide, her companion, said it was a very good idea, and that if she passed one day without amusement, she should be dead the next. The gentlemen all warmly approved of the proposal, and begged dame Oisille to direct what was to be done."You ask a thing of me, my children," replied the old lady, "which I find very difficult. You want me to invent an amusement which shall dissipate your ennui. I have been in search of such a remedy all my life long, and I have never found but one, which is the reading of Holy Writ. It is in such reading that the mind finds its true and perfect joy, whence proceed the repose and the health of the body. If you ask me what I do to be so cheerful and so healthy at so advanced an age, it is, that as soon as I rise I read the Holy Scriptures. I see and contemplate the will of God, who sent his Son on earth to announce to us that holy word and that good news which promises the pardon of all sins, and the payment of all debts, by the gift he has made us of his love, passion, and merits. This idea affords me such joy, that I take my psalter, and sing with my heart and pronounce with my lips, as humbly as I can, the beautiful canticles with which the Holy Spirit inspired David and other sacred authors. The pleasure I derive from them is so ravishing, that I regard as blessings the evils which befal me every day, because I have in my heart through faith Him who has suffered all these evils for me. Before supper I retire in like manner to feed my soul with reading. In the evening I review all I have done in the day; I ask pardon for my faults; I thank God for his graces, and lie down in his love, fear, and peace, assured against all evils. This, my children, is what has long been my amusement, after having searched well, and found none more solid and more satisfying. It seems to me, then, that if you will give yourselves every morning for an hour to reading, and say your prayers devoutly during mass, you will find in this solitude all the charms which cities could afford. In fact, he who knows God finds all things fair in him, and without him everything ugly and disagreeable. Take my advice, therefore, I entreat you, if you wish to find happiness in life.""Those who have read the Holy Scriptures," said Hircan, "as I believe we have done, will confess, madam, that what you have said is true. But you must also consider that we are not yet so mortified but that we have need of some amusement and corporeal pastime. When we are at home we have the chase and hawking, which make us forget a thousand bad thoughts; the ladies have their household affairs, their needlework, and sometimes dancing, wherein they find laudable exercise. I propose then, on the part of the men, that you, as the eldest lady, read to us in the morning the history of the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the great and wondrous things he has done for us. After dinner until vespers we must choose some pastime which may be agreeable to the body and not prejudicial to the soul. By this means we shall pass the day cheerfully."Dame Oisille replied, that she had so much difficulty in forgetting vanities, that she was afraid she should succeed ill in the choice of such a pastime; also, that the matter should be referred to the majority of voices. "And you, monsieur," she said to Hircan, "shall give your opinion first.""If I thought," replied Hircan, "that the diversion I should like to propose would be as agreeable to a certain lady in this company as to myself, my choice would be soon announced; but as I am afraid this would not be the case, I have nothing to say, but will submit to the decision of the rest."His wife Parlamente colored up at these words, believing they were meant for her. "Perhaps, Hircan," she said, a little angrily and half laughing, "that the lady you think hardest to please could find means to content herself if she had a mind. But let us say no more of the pastime in which only two can take part, and think of one in which everybody can share.""Since my wife has so well comprehended my views," observed Hircan to the other ladies, "and a private diversion is not to her taste, I believe she is the best person to invent an amusement which will give satisfaction to us all. I declare, therefore, beforehand, that I assent to her proposal."The whole company spoke to the same effect, and Parlamente, seeing that she was appointed mistress of the sports, thus addressed the company: "Were I conscious of possessing as much capacity as the ancients who invented the arts, I would contrive an amusement which should fulfil the obligation you lay upon me; but as I know myself, and am aware that I find it difficult even to recollect the ingenious inventions of others, I shall think myself lucky if I can closely follow those who have already done what you desire. I believe there is not one of you but has read the novels of Boccaccio recently translated into French, and which the most Christian King, Francis I. of that name, Monseigneur le Dauphin, Madame la Dauphine, and Madame Marguerite, prized so highly, that if Boccaccio could hear them, the praises bestowed on him by those illustrious persons would surely raise him from the dead. I can certify that the two ladies I have named, and several other personages of the court, resolved to imitate Boccaccio, except in one thing, namely, in writing nothing but what was true. Monseigneur and the two ladies arranged at first that they would each write ten tales, and that they would assemble a party of ten persons, selecting for it those whom they thought most capable of telling a story with grace, and expressly excluding men of letters; for Monseigneur did not wish that there should be any intrusion of art into the matter, and was afraid lest the flowers of rhetoric should be in some manner prejudicial to the truth of history. But the great affairs in which the king afterwards became involved, the peace concluded between the sovereign and the King of England, the accouchement of Madame la Dauphine, and several other affairs of a nature to occupy the whole court, caused this project to be forgotten; but as we have time to spare we will put it into execution whilst waiting for the completion of our bridge. If you think proper, we will go from noon till four o'clock into that fine meadow along the Gave river, where the trees form so thick a screen that the sun cannot pierce it, or incommode us with its heat. There, seated at our ease, we will each relate what we have seen or been told by persons worthy of belief. Ten days will suffice to make up


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