Master Jacques Coppenole

While the Pensionary of Ghent and his Eminence were exchanging very low bows and a few words in a tone still lower, a tall man, large-featured and of powerful build, prepared to enter abreast with Guillaume Rym—the mastiff with the fox—his felt hat and leathern jerkin contrasting oddly with all the surrounding velvet and silk. Presuming that it was some groom gone astray, the usher stopped him:

“Hold, friend, this is not your way!”

The man in the leathern jerkin shouldered him aside.

“What does the fellow want of me?” said he in a voice which drew the attention of the entire Hall to the strange colloquy; “ seest not that I am one of them?”

“Your name?” demanded the usher.

“Jacques Coppenole.”

“Your degree?”

“Hosier, at the sign of the ’Three Chains’ in Ghent.”

The usher recoiled. To announce sheriff and burgomaster was bad enough; but a hosier—no, that passed all bounds! The Cardinal was on thorns. Everybody was staring and listening. For two whole days had his Eminence been doing his utmost to lick these Flemish bears into shape in order to make them somewhat presentable in public—this contretemps was a rude shock.

Meanwhile Guillaume Rym turned to the usher and with his diplomatic smile, “Announce Maîitre Jacques Coppenole, Clerk to the Sheriffs of the City of Ghent,” he whispered to him very softly.

“Usher,” added the Cardinal loudly, “announce Maître Jacques Coppenole, Clerk to the Sheriffs of the illustrious City of Ghent.”

This was a mistake. Left to himself, Guillaume Rym would have dexterously settled the difficulty; but Coppenole had heard the Cardinal.

“No, Croix-Dieu!” he said in a voice of thunder, “Jacques Coppenole, hosier. Hearest thou, usher? Nothing more, nothing less! God’s cross! Hosier is as fine a title as any other! Many a time Monsieur the Archduke has looked for his glove1

among my hose!”

There was a roar of laughter and applause. A pun is instantly taken up in Paris, and never fails of applause.

Add to this that Coppenole was one of the people, and that the throng beneath him was also composed of the people, wherefore, the understanding between them and him had been instantaneous, electric, and, so to speak, from the same point of view. The Flemish hosier’s high and mighty way of putting down the courtiers stirred in these plebeian breasts a certain indefinable sense of self-respect, vague and embryonic as yet in the fifteenth century. And this hosier, who just now had held his own so stoutly before the Cardinal, was one of themselves—a most comfortable reflection to poor devils accustomed to pay respect and obedience to the servants of the servants of the Abbot of Sainte-Geneviéve, the Cardinal’s train-bearer.

Coppenole saluted his Eminence haughtily, who courteously returned the greeting of the all-powerful burgher, whom even Louis XI feared. Then, while Guillaume Rym, “that shrewd and malicious man,” as Philippe de Comines says, followed them both with a mocking and supercilious smile, each sought their appointed place, the Cardinal discomfited and anxious, Coppenole calm and dignified, and thinking no doubt that after all his title of hosier was as good as any other, and that Mary of Burgundy, the mother of that Margaret whose marriage Coppenole was helping to arrange, would have feared him less as cardinal than as hosier. For it was not a cardinal who would have stirred up the people of Ghent against

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.