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The Court Jester   By:

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THE COURT JESTER

By CORNELIA BAKER

Author of The Queen's Page Young People in Old Places, etc.

With Illustrations by MARGARET ELY WEBB and MARGARET H. DEVENEAU

INDIANAPOLIS THE BOBBS MERRILL COMPANY PUBLISHERS

COPYRIGHT 1906 THE BOBBS MERRILL COMPANY

DEDICATED TO MY DEAR EUGENIA F. F.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE I LE GLORIEUX HEARS GOOD NEWS 1 II A FESTIVAL AT THE INN 13 III AN EXCITING DAY AND EVENING 33 IV BROKEN PROMISES 61 V THE WONDERFUL WISDOM OF PITTACUS 76 VI LADY CLOTILDE'S MOONSTONE PENDANT 98 VII A PLEASANT SURPRISE FOR THE PRINCESS 124 VIII A ROYAL ALCHEMIST 153 IX PHILIBERT IN DANGER 167 X A MIDNIGHT ADVENTURE 194 XI THE LADY MARGUERITE IS VERY BRAVE 214 XII AN AUSTRIAN PRINCESS AT THE SPANISH COURT 230 XIII TRIPPING THE MEASURES OF THE EGG DANCE 249

THE COURT JESTER

CHAPTER I

LE GLORIEUX HEARS GOOD NEWS

The old duchess was talking of the past, while behind her chair Le Glorieux was silently and joyously turning handsprings. I wish I might give him another name, for that one is certainly a mouthful, but as he really lived, and that was what he was called, we must manage it as best we can.

You may think, and with reason, that turning handsprings was not a respectful thing to do when a lady, and above all a duchess, was talking. But Le Glorieux was the court jester, the fool, who when Charles the Bold, son of the duchess, was living, was wont to make his master laugh. Therefore his conduct and conversation as a rule were not what one could expect of a sedate and dignified member of society.

In the presence of his late master, Le Glorieux could have turned handsprings in plain view, but the dowager duchess was old and querulous and resented such performances. She was the widow of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and she looked very much like a fairy godmother in her quaint costume of the time of Charles the Seventh. She had been lady in waiting at the court of the French king, and she still clung to the high headdress, towering some twenty inches above her brow, and its long veil, which seemed to be boiling in filmy folds, like foam, from its pointed top. By her side was an ebony crutch, not for the purpose of turning pumpkins into coaches for the convenience of neglected Cinderellas, but to support the weight of the owner when she cared to move about; for rheumatism, which was up and doing even so long ago as the fifteenth century, had no more respect for a duchess than for a scullery maid, and had spitefully attacked her Grace of Burgundy.

The windows were veiled by heavy curtains that excluded the sunshine, and the only light in the long dim room came from the brazier at the feet of the duchess, who required artificial heat even in this warm autumn weather. Outside Le Glorieux knew the birds were singing and the butterflies were dipping in and out among the roses nodding in the soft breeze; but to day the beauties of nature did not attract him so strongly as did the unusual degree of excitement going on in the castle. The Lady Clotilde had been sent for by her cousin, the young Duchess Anne of Brittany, and so, bag and baggage and servants, she was to set out on the following morning. Throughout the castle was felt the buzz and bustle of preparation, maids running in and out, and pages spinning up and down the staircases, for the Lady Clotilde liked to keep everybody busy... Continue reading book >>




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