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Joan of Naples

Chapter 4
Eight days after the funeral of the old queen, Bertrand of Artois came to Joan,
distraught, dishevelled, in a state of agitation and confusion impossible to describe.
Joan went quickly up to her lover, asking him with a look of fear to explain the cause of
his distress.
"I told you, madam," cried the young baron excitedly, "you will end by ruining us all, as
you will never take any advice from me."
"For God's sake, Bertrand, speak plainly: what has happened? What advice have I
neglected?"
"Madam, your noble husband, Andre of Hungary, has just been made King of Jerusalem
and Sicily, and acknowledged by the court of Avignon, so henceforth you will be no
better than his slave."
"Count of Artois, you are dreaming."
"No, madam, I am not dreaming: I have this fact to prove the truth of my words, that the
pope's ambassadors are arrived at Capua with the bull for his coronation, and if they do
not enter Castel Nuovo this very evening, the delay is only to give the new king time to
make his preparations."
The queen bent her head as if a thunderbolt had fallen at her feet.
"When I told you before," said the count, with growing fury, "that we ought to use force
to make a stand against him, that we ought to break the yoke of this infamous tyranny
and get rid of the man before he had the means of hurting you, you always drew back in
childish fear, with a woman's cowardly hesitation."
Joan turned a tearful look upon her lover.
"God, my God!" she cried, clasping her hands in desperation, "am I to hear for ever this
awful cry of death! You too, Bertrand, you too say the word, like Robert of Cabane, like
Charles of Duras? Wretched man, why would you raise this bloody spectre between us,
to check with icy hand our adulterous kisses? Enough of such crimes; if his wretched
ambition makes him long to reign, let him be king: what matters his power to me, if he
leaves me with your love?"
"It is not so sure that our love will last much longer."
"What is this, Bertrand? You rejoice in this merciless torture."
 
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