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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Shadow of a Tomb
By Pierre de Bourdeille, Seigneur de Brantôme (d. 1614)
 
From ‘Lives of Courtly Women’

ONCE I had an elder brother who was called Captain Bourdeille, one of the bravest and most valiant soldiers of his time. Although he was my brother, I must praise him, for the record he made in the wars brought him fame. He was the gentilhomme de France who stood first in the science and gallantry of arms. He was killed during the last siege of Hesdin. My brother’s parents had destined him for the career of letters, and accordingly sent him at the age of eighteen to study in Italy, where he settled in Ferrara because of Madame Renée de France, Duchess of Ferrara, who ardently loved my mother. He enjoyed life at her court, and soon fell deeply in love with a young French widow,—Mademoiselle de La Roche,—who was in the suite of Madame de Ferrara.  1
  They remained there in the service of love, until my father, seeing that his son was not following literature, ordered him home. She, who loved him, begged him to take her with him to France and to the court of Marguerite of Navarre, whom she had served, and who had given her to Madame Renée when she went to Italy upon her marriage. My brother, who was young, was greatly charmed to have her companionship, and conducted her to Pau. The Queen was glad to welcome her, for the young widow was handsome and accomplished, and indeed considered superior in esprit to the other ladies of the court.  2
  After remaining a few days with my mother and grandmother, who were there, my brother visited his father. In a short time he declared that he was disgusted with letters, and joined the army, serving in the wars of Piedmont and Parma, where he acquired much honor in the space of five or six months; during which time he did not revisit his home. At the end of this period he went to see his mother at Pau. He made his reverence to the Queen of Navarre as she returned from vespers; and she, who was the best princess in the world, received him cordially, and taking his hand, led him about the church for an hour or two. She demanded news regarding the wars of Piedmont and Italy, and many other particulars, to which my brother replied so well that she was greatly pleased with him. He was a very handsome young man of twenty-four years. After talking gravely and engaging him in earnest conversation, walking up and down the church, she directed her steps toward the tomb of Mademoiselle de La Roche, who had been dead for three months. She stopped here, and again took his hand, saying, “My cousin” (thus addressing him because a daughter of D’Albret was married into our family of Bourdeille; but of this I do not boast, for it has not helped me particularly), “do you not feel something move below your feet?”  3
  “No, Madame,” he replied.  4
  “But reflect again, my cousin,” she insisted.  5
  My brother answered, “Madame, I feel nothing move. I stand upon a solid stone.”  6
  “Then I will explain,” said the Queen, “without keeping you longer in suspense, that you stand upon the tomb and over the body of your poor dearly-loved Mademoiselle de La Roche, who is interred here; and that our friends may have sentiment for us at our death, render a pious homage here. You cannot doubt that the gentle creature, dying so recently, must have been affected when you approached. In remembrance I beg you to say a paternoster and an Ave Maria and a de profundis, and sprinkle holy water. Thus you will win the name of a very faithful lover and a good Christian.”  7
 
 
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