Joan of Naples HTML version

Chapter 2
As soon as the obsequies were over, Andre's tutor hastily assembled the chief
Hungarian lords, and it was decided in a council held in the presence of the prince and
with his consent, to send letters to his mother, Elizabeth of Poland, and his brother,
Louis of Hungary, to make known to them the purport of Robert's will, and at the same
time to lodge a complaint at the court of Avignon against the conduct of the princes and
people of Naples in that they had proclaimed Joan alone Queen of Naples, thus
overlooking the rights of her husband, and further to demand for him the pope's order
for Andre's coronation. Friar Robert, who had not only a profound knowledge of the
court intrigues, but also the experience of a philosopher and all a monk's cunning, told
his pupil that he ought to profit by the depression of spirit the king's death had produced
in Joan, and ought not to suffer her favourites to use this time in influencing her by their
seductive counsels.
But Joan's ability to receive consolation was quite as ready as her grief had at first been
impetuous the sobs which seemed to be breaking her heart ceased all at once; new
thoughts, more gentle, less lugubrious, took possession of the young queen's mind; the
trace of tears vanished, and a smile lit up her liquid eyes like the sun's ray following on
rain. This change, anxiously awaited, was soon observed by Joan's chamberwoman:
she stole to the queen's room, and falling on her knees, in accents of flattery and
affection, she offered her first congratulations to her lovely mistress. Joan opened her
arms and held her in a long embrace; far Dona Cancha was far more to her than a lady-
in-waiting; she was the companion of infancy, the depositary of all her secrets, the
confidante of her most private thoughts. One had but to glance at this young girl to
understand the fascination she could scarcely fail to exercise over the queen's mind.
She had a frank and smiling countenance, such as inspires confidence and captivates
the mind at first sight. Her face had an irresistible charm, with clear blue eyes, warm
golden hair, mouth bewitchingly turned up at the corners, and delicate little chin. Wild,
happy, light of heart, pleasure and love were the breath of her being; her dainty
refinement, her charming inconstancies, all made her at sixteen as lovely as an angel,
though at heart she was corrupt. The whole court was at her feet, and Joan felt more
affection for her than for her own sister.
"Well, my dear Cancha," she murmured, with a sigh, "you find me very sad and very
"And you find me, fair queen," replied the confidante, fixing an admiring look on Joan,--
"you find me just the opposite, very happy that I can lay at your feet before anyone else
the proof of the joy that the people of Naples are at this moment feeling. Others perhaps
may envy you the crown that shines upon your brow, the throne which is one of the
noblest in the world, the shouts of this entire town that sound rather like worship than
homage; but I, madam, I envy you your lovely black hair, your dazzling eyes, your more
than mortal grace, which make every man adore you."