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Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Vol. 118, No. 5 (May, 1931)

Barrington, E.
Adelais the lovely,   pp. 10-11 PDF (1.4 MB)


Page 11

MAY, 1931 
The pageantry, the blare of golden trumpets and the flash of scarlet banners,
live again in this romantic love story of a young queen of medieval England
T HE name Adelais with its four liquid syllables
is beauty itself and so expresses her, and it was
the delight of the poets and troubadours who
never wearied of singing the perfections of the
Fair Maid of Brabant. And the christening of
the poets sticks and the women of their praise
are immortal. Yet, because the Normans so willed it,
she survives in history chiefly by the precise yet delicious
name of Adelicia.
The Princess Adelais was of the noblest blood in
Europe; a direct descendant of the mighty Charlemagne.
But that was not what really mattered. She was so
beautiful that it did not in the least matter that her
father was reigning Duke of Brabant and Lorraine, a
kingdom larger than present-day Belgium, or that he
was a worthy ruler. But it mattered enormously that
he was known through Europe as Godfrey the Bearded,
because the incident which gave him that venerable
nickname gave him also enormous prestige as a man of
brilliant good luck and one under the special protection
of heaven. The sort of man to be eminently desirable
as a father-in-law.
He had vowed, as a young man, to leave his golden
beard virgin of shears or razor until he had recovered
his lost duchy of Lower Lorraine, and that feat took so
long and looked at one time so desperately impossible
that the beard swept his waist before he could invoke
the barber. But his triumph was complete and when
he appeared at last, clean-shaven and victorious, all
Europe laid its veneration at his feet. That beard
would never be forgotten to him, and it gave Adelais a
unique position as the daughter of a saint. It handi-
capped her rivals most unfairly.
"Look at her!" said Maud, the young Empress of the
Holy Roman Empire, to Clotilde of France. "That
wretched girl has everything! Such hair, the ends brush
the calves of her legs! Pure gold, mind you! And her
eyes are so deep a green that the people of Brabant say
it comes of her mother's presenting our Blessed Lady
with the great emeralds she inherited from Gerberg, the
daughter of the Emperor Charlemagne."
"For my part I do not like green eyes and what men
can see in them I cannot tell," said Clotilde of France.
They were running over the European princesses with
the affection shown by young women in discussing the
merits of rivals in the European marriage market where
kings and princes are the bidders.
"But her father is her best suit," pursued the hand-
some bitter-tongued young Empress. "He simply lives
on the fuss made about his horrid old beard. Since it
happened they say nothing can stand against his luck.
Why should a beard win such blessings? Why should
they believe all Adelicia touches turns to gold-even
her hair, simply because her father is Godfrey the
Bearded and his beard lies in a gold box in the church
of Louvain? Oh, that old humbug has made good mer-
chandise out of this, and you will see-Adelicia will
marry better than any woman in Europe but myself."
That prophecy was to be unimaginably fulfilled. How
could the Empress foreknow that her own mother,
Queen Mary of England, would die early; that her
brother, the heir, was to be drowned in crossing the
Channel, and that her father, Henry the First of Eng-
land, (nicknamed Beauclerc for his learning) would be
in want of a wife to bring him an heir and so carry on
the glorious lineage of his father, William the Conqueror?
Yet this all happened, and the great lords about King
Henry saw the urgency of the case because it pressed
so hardly on themselves. Since his wife's death and his
son's drowning, life had been no easy matter for those
who lived beside him, for furious ourbursts of temper
alternated with days of deep brooding melancholy and
how to meet the case they did not know. What they
really wanted was a buffer; someone to absorb the first
shocks 6f fury they had all endured since the death of
Queen Maud.
All minds turned at once to the fortunate family of
Godfrey the Bearded. How they praised the beauty of
Adelais! How tenderly they depicted her slim grace
and innocent youthfulness her emerald eyes and rivers
of shining hair! And as Henry, now well over fifty-six,
listened, the old fire blazed up fitfully in him, for he had
been a lover of many women, and, if beauty did not
very greatly concern him now, he could also meditate
on the celestial good fortune of Godfrey the Bearded.
He sent an embassage to Louvain and the reports of
the royal girl dazzled the King into realization of the
truth that if a bridegroom of his age wishes to catch a
beauty of eighteen he must put his best foot foremost
and allow no grass to grow under it. He did two de-
cisive things instantly.
First, he offered to dower her in proportion to the value
of her eyes and hair, and allow Godfrey the Bearded to
estimate them in acres and coins.
Secondly, Henry announced that he would himself
come to fetch the girl. King Arthur had suffered for
sending the handsome Sir Lancelot to fetch the lovely
Guinevere to be Queen of Britain, and he himself would
take no risks. Therefore the old King, gray and wrinkled
and beautiful with the sorrowful beauty of royal old
age, came in person and, when he saw her sweet submis-
sive loveliness, sighed for past youth.
S O HE brought her to England and the great marriage
was made at Windsor. But as Adelais looked upon the
silver-winding Thames and the surrounding woods and
meadows she saw a white waste of snow under a howling
'Or
January gale edged with b
heart and curdled her blo
pale with fear of the wintry
Fifty-seven. Eighteen.
her ears as she moved slowl
cold of the spirit to the
waited to make her Queen
the vows were vowed and
Adelais lifted her eyes and
child.
They met the eyes of a
stood behind the King by ri
a tall cross-handled sword.
years older than herself, b
which he fixed upon what i
of quiet self-control, almo
her first impression of plea
such serene young manhoo
off herself and unconsciousl
for what seemed a long m
first time he really saw the
Europe: ocean-deep eyes r
hair braided with pearls fa
itter sleet, and it chilled her  of her velvet robe; the young Queen of Romance coming
od until her very lips were  like spring to the English Court to awake it from its
bridegroom.               frozen darkness and despair.
The words tolled a knell in  His eyes said, and with disapproval:
y, shuddering with the mortal  "You, young loveliness, how came you here with this
altar where the Archbishop  withered old man? And have you sold all your harvest
of England. It was not until of beauty for a crown-you that are crowned with God's
the work done that Queen  gold? Oh miserable huckstering!"
looked about her like a lost  And hers pleaded:
"Forgive me. What could I do? Princesses are their
most noble young man who   country's merchandise."
ght of his office, leaning upon  Afterwards he stood beside the throne where she sat
He was possibly only eight  with her King, while Henry of Huntingdon recited before
ut the calm reflective gaze  her the verses he had made in her praise, and the barons
nterested him had a quality  punctuated them with deep-toned murmurs or shouts
st sternness, which mingled  of applause.
sure with a kind of awe of   She listened with a smile like a child's so innocent
d. This took her thoughts  was it, so wondering at the praise. They had kept her
y she fixed her gaze on him  very simple at Louvain and she knew nothing of her
oment to both, and for the  strength.
loveliness famed throughout  But William d'Albini, known as He with the Strong
ayed with darkness golden  Arm, did not smile. For him suddenly the world was
ling over the royal crimson  struck in t e   Love had loosed  (Turn to page 63)
froze darkess nd depair
His yessaid an wit diapprval
"You youg lveliesshowcameyou erewiththi
witheed ol manAnd hVe o  odalyu     avs
ofbeuy o acow-outatae rwndwihGo'
Seeing that noble manhood stricken,
how could Adelais hide her heart?
Si ,~,
N
11I


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