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THE BONDSMAN'S FEAST.

Alas, they had been friends in youth !

COLERIDGE.

Vol. II.-2

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ONCE on a time there flourished in the town of Troyes a citizen whose name was Arthault de Nogent. This person, of obscure and servile parentage, had begun the world without one of the advantages which are commonly supposed to predicate a successful career. A link in a long line of bourgeois, that had grown in the feudal domain of the Count de Champagne, he appeared to be destined for nothing else than to transmit unbroken the chain of bondage to another generation. By some strange concurrence of circumstances, however, assisted by great industry, strict honesty, and a natural pride, of that kind which raises its head haughtily above every one but a superior in power of fortune, Arthault gradually emerged from obscurity, and at least gilded the hereditary fetters which he could not throw off.

His first patron was Sir Launcelot Sansavoir, a knight of ancient family. When boys, they had played together on the terms of political equality dictated by nature, and even in other respects they seemed to be pretty nearly on a level ; for if the balance of strength and courage was on the side of Launcelot, that of skill and address on the part of his low-born companion held firm the equipoise. As they grew up, however, and the laws of nature were gradually supersedel by those of society, Arthault was reminded, by many a bitter token, of the artificial distinctions which hedged round his heretofore playfellow from the degrading farniliarity of a bourgeois. But the hard lesson was never taught directly by the freeman to the serf. Launcelot, although of a fierce and rough temper, was generous withal. He loved his humble companion with the love which simple contact inspires in the open and guileless heart of a boy; and when the days of boyhood were over, he still continued to evidence, by the kindnesses which then acquired the name of patronage, that his early sentiments were unaffected by the accidental distinctions of the world. He assisted his protégé both with influence

and money, countenanced his first efforts to assume a rank in society from which he might have appeared to be excluded by his birih, and fairly set him afloat on that tide of fortune which was to carry him to prosperity and power.

As he returned from time to time to his native town, in the pauses of the career of arms to which he had devoted himself, he saw with new surprise, and for a season with new satisfaction, the changes which were taking place in the waxing fortunes of his dependant. The corresponding changes, however, in the mind and manner of the bourgeois were not so pleasing, and to one acquainted with the world would not have been so surprising. Arthault, the farther he advanced from the point at which he had set out, wished the more ardently to forget it. · Every word that reminded him of what he had been went like a dagger to his breast ; and the unconscious remarks of Launcelot on the subject rankled and festered in his heart. The wincing of wounded vanity was little understood by the knight, who only thrust the deeper as the other shrunk back ; till at length Arthault looked forward to the return of his former patron from the wars both with terror and disgust.

By.and-by, he had attained a station of importance sufficient to encourage him to return the unintentional insults of Sir Launcelot by at least reproach; and the fiery knight, in retaliation, seized 'several opportunities, both public and private, to mortify the pride of the base-born ingrate. By this time Arthault felt himself strong enough to fling back injury for injury ; and thus a war of words, rather than actions, coinmenced, which ended in the deadliest hate on both sides.

This consummation, however, was in part brought about by circumstances foreign to the original cause of quarrel. Sir Launcelot's temper had been soured by reverses in fortune, almost as great as the advances made by the bourgeois, and a kind of jealousy was awakened in his naturally frank and generous mind, by occurrences of a precisely opposite nature to those which had wounded the feverish jealousy of Arthault. A reproach for supposed unkindness thus sounded to the one like a cowardly insult levelled at his falling fortunes ; and a burst of anger at the imaginary wrong, to the other, like an intentional affront to the merit which had raised bim from the dust.

Sir Launcelot was at length completely ruined in the wars of his prince ; his estate was pawned piece-meal; and the

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