Anne of Geierstein or The Maiden of the Mist by Sir Walter Scott

Автор: andrey4444. Опубликовано в Вальтер Скотт

 

Anne of Geierstein, or The Maiden of the Mist (1829) is a novel by Sir Walter Scott. It is set in Central Europe, mainly in Switzerland, shortly after the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury(1471). It covers the period of Swiss involvement in the Burgundian Wars.

Two exiled Lancastrians are on a secret mission to the court of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, hoping to gain his help in regaining the English crown from the Yorkist Edward IV. The two Englishmen get into difficulties in the Swiss mountains. They meet Countess Anne and her family, who are involved in the politics of the newly independent Swiss Confederation and plan to confront Charles with complaints about his conduct towards the Swiss nation. The two groups decide to travel together. Anne may have inherited magical skills from her grandmother, enabling her to perform feats which defy explanation. The travellers also encounter a shadowy organization known as the Vehmgericht or Secret Tribunal.

As the merchant John Philipson and his son Arthur were travelling towards Basel they were overtaken by a storm, and found themselves at the edge of a precipice caused by a recent earthquake. Arthur was making his way towards a tower indicated by their guide Antonio, when he was rescued from imminent danger by Anne, who conducted him to her uncle Bierderman's mountain home. His father had already been brought there to safety by Biederman and his sons. During their evening games Rudolph, who had joined in them, became jealous of the young Englishman's skill with the bow, and challenged him; but they were overheard by Anne, and the duel was interrupted. The travellers were invited to continue their journey in company with a deputation of Switzers, commissioned to remonstrate with Charles the Bold respecting the exactions of Hagenbach; and the magistrates of Basel having declined to let them enter the city, they took shelter in the ruins of a castle. During his share in the night watches, Arthur fancied that he saw an apparition of Anne, and was encouraged in his belief by Rudolph, who narrated her family history, which implied that her ancestors had dealings with supernatural beings. Hoping to prevent a conflict on his account between the Swiss and the duke's steward, the merchant arranged that he and his son should precede them; but on reaching the Burgundian citadel they were imprisoned by the governor in separate dungeons. Arthur, however, was released by Anne with the assistance of a priest, and his father by Biederman, a body of Swiss youths having entered the town and incited the citizens to execute Hagenbach, just as he was intending to slaughter the deputation, whom he had treacherously admitted. A valuable necklace which had been taken from the merchant was restored to him by Sigismund, and the deputies having decided to persist in seeking an interview with the duke, the Englishman undertook to represent their cause favourably to him.

On their way to Charles's headquarters father and son were overtaken by Anne disguised as a lady of rank, and, acting on her whispered advice to Arthur, they continued their journey by different roads. The elder fell in with a mysterious priest who provided him with a guide to the "Golden Fleece," where he was lowered from his bedroom to appear before a meeting of the Vehmic court or holy tribunal, and warned against speaking of their secret powers. The younger was met and conducted by Annette to a castle, where he spent the evening with his lady-love, and travelled with her the next day to rejoin his father at Strassburg. In the cathedral there they met Margaret of Anjou, who recognised Philipson as John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, a faithful adherent of the house of Lancaster, and planned with him an appeal to the duke for aid against the Yorkists. On reaching Charles's camp the earl was welcomed as an old companion in arms, and obtained a promise of the help he sought, on condition that Provence be ceded to Burgundy. Arthur was despatched to Aix-en-Provence to urge Margaret to persuade her father accordingly, while the earl accompanied his host to an interview with his burghers and the Swiss deputies.

King Rene of Anjou's preference for the society of troubadours and frivolous amusements had driven his daughter to take refuge in a convent. On hearing from Arthur, however, the result of the earl's mission to the duke, she returned to the palace, and had induced her father to sign away his kingdom, when his grandson Ferrand arrived with the news of the rout of the Burgundian army at Neuchatel, and Arthur learned from his squire, Sigismund, that he had not seen Anne's spectre but herself during his night-watch, and that the priest he had met more than once was her father, the Count Albert of Geierstein. The same evening Queen Margaret died in her chair of state; and all the earl's prospects for England being thwarted, he occupied himself in arranging a treaty between her father and the King of France. He was still in Provence when he was summoned to rouse the duke from a fit of melancholy, caused by the Swiss having again defeated him. After raising fresh troops, Charles decided to wrest Nancy from the young Duke of Lorraine, and during the siege Arthur received another challenge from Rudolph. The rivals met, and, having killed the Bernese, the young Englishman obtained Count Albert's consent to his marriage with Anne, with strict injunctions to warn the duke that the Secret Tribunal had decreed his death. On the same night, the Swiss won their decisive victory at Nancy, establishing their independence. Charles was slain in the battle, his naked and disfigured body only discovered some days afterward frozen into the nearby river. His face had been so badly mutilated by wild animals that his physician was only able to identify him by his long fingernails and the old battle scars on his body. Being still an exile, the earl accepted the patriot Biederman's invitation to reside with his countess at Geierstein, until the battle of Bosworth placed Henry VII on the throne, when Arthur and his wife attracted as much admiration at the English Court as they had gained among their Swiss neighbours.

 

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