Under the red robe

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UNDERTHEREDROBE by STANLEYJ WEYMAN * CONTENTS *CHAPTERI ATZATON’S *CHAPTERII ATTHEGREENPILLAR *CHAPTERIII THEHOUSEINTHEWOOD *CHAPTERIV MADAMANDMADEMOISELLE *CHAPTERV REVENGE *CHAPTERVI UNDERTHEPlCDUMIDI *CHAPTERVII AMASTERSTROKE *CHAPTERVIII AMASTERSTROKE—Continued *CHAPTERIX THEQUESTION *CHAPTERX CLON *CHAPTERXI THEARREST *CHAPTERXII THEROADTOPARIS *CHAPTERXIII ATTHEFINGER-POST *CHAPTERXIV STMARTIN’SEVE *CHAPTERXV STMARTIN’SSUMMER * UNDERTHEREDROBE CHAPTERI ATZATON’S ‘Markedcards!’ Therewereascorerounduswhenthefool,littleknowingthemanwithwhom hehadtodeal,andaslittlehowtoloselikeagentleman,flungthewordsinmy teeth Hethought,I’llbesworn,thatIshouldstormandswearandruffleitlike anycommoncockofthehackle ButthatwasneverGildeBerault’sway Fora fewsecondsafterhehadspokenIdidnotevenlookathim Ipassedmyeye instead—smiling,BIENENTENDU—roundtheringofwaitingfaces,sawthat therewasnooneexceptDePombalIhadcausetofear;andthenatlastIrose andlookedatthefoolwiththegrimfaceIhaveknownimposeonolderand wisermen ‘Markedcards,M l’Anglais?’Isaid,withachillingsneer ‘Theyareused,Iam told,totrapplayers—notunbirchedschoolboys.’ ‘YetIsaythattheyaremarked!’herepliedhotly,inhisqueerforeignjargon ‘In mylasthandIhadnothing Youdoubledthestakes Bah,sir,youknew!You haveswindledme!’ ‘Monsieuriseasytoswindle—whenheplayswithamirrorbehindhim,’I answeredtartly Atthattherewasagreatroaroflaughter,whichmighthavebeenheardinthe street,andwhichbroughttothetableeveryoneintheeating-housewhomhis voicehadnotalreadyattracted ButIdidnotrelaxmyface Iwaiteduntilallwas quietagain,andthenwavingasidetwoorthreewhostoodbetweenusandthe entrance,Ipointedgravelytothedoor ‘ThereisalittlespacebehindthechurchofStJacques,M l’Etranger,’Isaid, puttingonmyhatandtakingmycloakonmyarm ‘Doubtlessyouwill accompanymethither?’ Hesnatcheduphishat,hisfaceburningwithshameandrage ‘Withpleasure!’heblurtedout ‘Tothedevil,ifyoulike!’ Ithoughtthematterarranged,whentheMarquislaidhishandontheyoung fellow’sarmandcheckedhim ‘Thismustnotbe,’hesaid,turningfromhimtomewithhisgrand,finegentleman’sair ‘Youknowme,M deBerault Thismatterhasgonefarenough.’ ‘Toofar!M dePombal,’Iansweredbitterly ‘Still,ifyouwishtotakeyour friend’splace,Ishallraisenoobjection.’ ‘Chut,man!’heretorted,shrugginghisshouldersnegligently ‘Iknowyou,andI donotfightwithmenofyourstamp Norneedthisgentleman.’ ‘Undoubtedly,’Ireplied,bowinglow,‘ifhepreferstobecanedinthestreets.’ ThatstungtheMarquis ‘Haveacare!haveacare!’hecriedhotly ‘Yougotoofar,M Berault.’ ‘DeBerault,ifyouplease,’Iobjected,eyeinghimsternly ‘Myfamilyhasborne theDEaslongasyours,M dePombal.’ Hecouldnotdenythat,andheanswered,‘Asyouplease;’atthesametime restraininghisfriendbyagesture ‘Butnonetheless,’hecontinued,‘takemy advice TheCardinalhasforbiddenduelling,andthistimehemeansit!Youhave beenintroubleonceandgonefree Asecondtimeitmayfareworsewithyou Letthisgentlemango,therefore,M deBerault Besides—why,shameuponyou, man!’heexclaimedhotly;‘heisbutalad!’ Twoorthreewhostoodbehindmeapplaudedthat,ButIturnedandtheymetmy eye;andtheywereasmumasmice ‘Hisageishisownconcern,’Isaidgrimly ‘Hewasoldenoughawhileagoto insultme.’ ‘AndIwillprovemywords!’theladcried,explodingatlast Hehadspirit enough,andtheMarquishadhadhardworktorestrainhimsolong ‘Youdome noservice,M dePombal,’hecontinued,pettishlyshakingoffhisfriend’shand ‘Byyourleave,thisgentlemanandIwillsettlethismatter.’ ‘Thatisbetter,’Isaid,noddingdrily,whiletheMarquisstoodaside,frowning andbaffled ‘Permitmetoleadtheway.’ Zaton’seating-housestandsscarcelyahundredpacesfromStJacquesla Boucherie,andhalfthecompanywentthitherwithus Theeveningwaswet,the lightinthestreetswaswaning,thestreetsthemselvesweredirtyandslippery TherewerefewpassersintheRueStAntoine;andourparty,whichearlierinthe daymusthaveattractednoticeandacrowd,crossedunmarked,andentered withoutinterruptionthepavedtrianglewhichliesimmediatelybehindthe church IsawinthedistanceoneoftheCardinal’sguardloiteringinfrontofthe scaffoldingroundthenewHotelRichelieu;andthesightoftheuniformgaveme pauseforamoment Butitwastoolatetorepent TheEnglishmanbeganatoncetostripoffhisclothes Iclosedminetothethroat, fortheairwaschilly Atthatmoment,whilewestoodpreparing,andmostofthe companyseemedalittleinclinedtostandofffromme,Ifeltahandonmyarm, andturning,sawthedwarfishtailoratwhosehouse,intheRueSavonnerie,I lodgedatthetime Thefellow’spresencewasunwelcome,tosaytheleastofit; andthoughforwantofbettercompanyIhadsometimesencouragedhimtobe freewithmeathome,ItookthattobenoreasonwhyIshouldbeplaguedwith himbeforegentlemen Ishookhimoff,therefore,hopingbyafrowntosilence him Hewasnottobesoeasilyputdown,however,andperforceIhadtospeakto him ‘Afterwards,afterwards,’Isaidhurriedly ‘Iamengagednow ‘ForGod’ssake,don’t,sir!’thepoorfoolcried,clingingtomysleeve ‘Don’tdo it!Youwillbringacurseonthehouse Heisbutalad,and—’ ‘You,too!’Iexclaimed,losingpatience ‘Besilent,youscum!Whatdoyouknow aboutgentlemen’squarrels?Leaveme;doyouhear?’ ‘ButtheCardinal!’hecriedinaquaveringvoice ‘TheCardinal,M deBerault! Thelastmanyoukilledisnotforgottenyet Thistimehewillbesureto—’ ‘Leaveme,doyouhear?’Ihissed Thefellow’simpudencepassedallbounds It wasasbadashiscroaking ‘Begone!’Iadded ‘Isupposeyouareafraidthathe willkillme,andyouwillloseyourmoney.’ FrisonfellbackatthatalmostasifIhadstruckhim,andIturnedtomy adversary,whohadbeenawaitingmymotionswithimpatience Godknowshe didlookyoungashestoodwithhisheadbareandhisfairhairdroopingoverhis smoothwoman’sforehead—amereladfreshfromthecollegeofBurgundy,if theyhavesuchathinginEngland IfeltasuddenchillasIlookedathim:a qualm,atremor,apresentiment Whatwasitthelittletailorhadsaid?ThatI should—butthere,hedidnotknow Whatdidheknowofsuchthings?IfIlet thispassImustkillamanaday,orleaveParisandtheeating-house,andstarve ‘Athousandpardons,’Isaidgravely,asIdrewandtookmyplace ‘Adun Iam sorrythatthepoordevilcaughtmesoinopportunely Nowhowever,Iamatyour service.’ Hesalutedandwecrossedswordsandbegan ButfromthefirstIhadnodoubt whattheresultwouldbe Theslipperystonesandfadinglightgavehim,itis true,somechance,someadvantage,morethanhedeserved;butIhadnosooner felthisbladethanIknewthathewasnoswordsman Possiblyhehadtakenhalfa-dozenlessonsinrapierart,andpractisedwhathelearnedwithanEnglishman asheavyandawkwardashimself Butthatwasall Hemadeafewwildclumsy rushes,parryingwidely WhenIhadfoiledthese,thedangerwasover,andIheld himatmymercy Iplayedwithhimalittlewhile,watchingthesweatgatheronhisbrowandthe shadowofthechurchtowerfalldeeperanddarker,liketheshadowofdoom,on hisface Notoutofcruelty—GodknowsIhavenevererredinthatdirection!— butbecause,forthefirsttimeinmylife,Ifeltastrangereluctancetostrikethe blow Thecurlsclungtohisforehead;hisbreathcameandwentingasps;Iheard themenbehindmeandoneortwoofthemdropanoath;andthenIslipped— slipped,andwasdowninamomentonmyrightside,myelbowstrikingthe pavementsosharplythatthearmgrewnumbtothewrist Heheldoff Iheardadozenvoicescry,‘Now!nowyouhavehim!’Butheheld off Hestoodbackandwaitedwithhisbreastheavingandhispointlowered, untilIhadrisenandstoodagain onmyguard ‘Enough!enough!’aroughvoicebehindmecried ‘Don’thurtthemanafter that.’ ‘Onguard,sir!’Iansweredcoldly—forheseemedtowaver,andbeindoubt ‘It wasanaccident Itshallnotavailyouagain.’ Severalvoicescried‘Shame!’andone,‘Youcoward!’ButtheEnglishman steppedforward,afixedlookinhisblueeyes Hetookhisplacewithoutaword Ireadinhisdrawnwhitefacethathehadmadeuphismindtotheworst,andhis couragesowonmyadmirationthatIwouldgladlyandthankfullyhavesetone ofthelookers-on—anyofthelookers-on—inhisplace;butthatcouldnotbe So IthoughtofZaton’sclosedtome,ofPombal’sinsult,ofthesneersandslightsI hadlongkeptatthesword’spoint;and,pressinghimsuddenlyinaheatof affectedanger,Ithruststronglyoverhisguard,whichhadgrownfeeble,andran himthroughthechest WhenIsawhimlying,laidoutonthestoneswithhiseyeshalfshut,andhisface glimmeringwhiteinthedusk—notthatIsawhimthuslong,fortherewerea dozenkneelingroundhiminatwinkling—Ifeltanunwontedpang Itpassed, however,inamoment ForIfoundmyselfconfrontedbyaringofangryfaces— ofmenwho,keepingatadistance,hissedandcursedandthreatenedme,calling meBlackDeathandthelike Theyweremostlycanaille,whohadgatheredduringthefight,andhadviewed allthatpassedfromthefarthersideoftherailings Whilesomesnarledand ragedatmelikewolves,callingme‘Butcher!’and‘Cut-throat!’orcriedoutthat Beraultwasathistradeagain,othersthreatenedmewiththevengeanceofthe Cardinal,flungtheedictinmyteeth,andsaidwithgleethattheguardwere coming—theywouldseemehangedyet ‘Hisbloodisonyourhead!’onecriedfuriously ‘Hewillbedeadinanhour Andyouwillswingforhim!Hurrah!’ ‘Begone,’Isaid ‘Ay,toMontfaucon,’heanswered,mockingme ‘No;toyourkennel!’Ireplied,withalookwhichsenthimayardbackwards, thoughtherailingswerebetweenus AndIwipedmybladecarefully,standinga littleapart For—well,Icouldunderstandit—itwasoneofthosemomentswhen amanisnotpopular Thosewhohadcomewithmefromtheeating-houseeyed measkance,andturnedtheirbackswhenIdrewnearer;andthosewhohad joinedusandobtainedadmissionwerescarcelymorepolite ButIwasnottobeoutdoneinSANGFROID Icockedmyhat,anddrawingmy cloakovermyshoulders,wentoutwithaswaggerwhichdrovethecursfromthe gatebeforeIcamewithinadozenpacesofit Therascalsoutsidefellbackas quickly,andinamomentIwasinthestreet AnothermomentandIshouldhave beenclearoftheplaceandfreetoliebyforawhile—when,withoutwarning,a scurrytookplaceroundme Thecrowdfledeverywayintothegloom,andina hand-turnadozenoftheCardinal’sguardsclosedroundme Ihadsomeacquaintancewiththeofficerincommand,andhesalutedmecivilly ‘Thisisabadbusiness,M deBerault,’hesaid ‘Themanisdeadtheytellme.’ ‘Neitherdyingnordead,’Iansweredlightly ‘Ifthatbeallyoumaygohome again.’ ‘Withyou,’hereplied,withagrin,‘certainly Andasitrains,thesoonerthe better Imustaskyouforyoursword,Iamafraid.’ ‘Takeit,’Isaid,withthephilosophywhichneverdesertsme ‘Butthemanwill notdie.’ ‘Ihopethatmayavailyou,’heansweredinatoneIdidnotlike ‘Leftwheel,my friends!TotheChatelet!March!’ ‘Thereareworseplaces,’Isaid,andresignedmyselftofate Afterall,Ihadbeen inaprisonbefore,andlearnedthatonlyonejailletsnoprisonerescape ButwhenIfoundthatmyfriend’sordersweretohandmeovertothewatch,and thatIwastobeconfinedlikeanycommonjail-birdcaughtcuttingapurseor slittingathroat,Iconfessmyheartsank IfIcouldgetspeechwiththeCardinal, allwouldprobablybewell;butifIfailedinthis,orifthecasecamebeforehim instrangeguise,orifhewereinahardmoodhimself,thenitmightgoillwith me Theedictsaid,death! AndthelieutenantattheChateletdidnotputhimselftomuchtroubletohearten me ‘What!againM deBerault?’hesaid,raisinghiseyebrowsashereceived meatthegate,andrecognisedmebythelightofthebrazierwhichhismenwere justkindlingoutside ‘Youareaveryboldman,oraveryfoolhardyone,tocome hereagain Theoldbusiness,Isuppose?’ ‘Yes,butheisnotdead,’Iansweredcoolly ‘Hehasatrifle—amerescratch It wasbehindthechurchofStJacques.’ ‘Helookeddeadenough,myfriend,’theguardsmaninterposed Hehadnotyet leftus ‘Bah!’Iansweredscornfully ‘HaveyoueverknownmemakeamistakeWhenI killamanIkillhim Iputmyselftopains,Itellyou,nottokillthisEnglishman Thereforehewilllive.’ ‘Ihopeso,’thelieutenantsaid,withadrysmile ‘Andyouhadbetterhopeso, too,M deBerault,Forifnot—’ ‘Well?’Isaid,somewhattroubled ‘Ifnot,what,myfriend?’ ‘Ifearhewillbethelastmanyouwillfight,’heanswered ‘Andevenifhelives, Iwouldnotbetoosure,myfriend ThistimetheCardinalisdeterminedtoputit down.’ ‘HeandIareoldfriends,’Isaidconfidently ‘SoIhaveheard,’heanwered,withashortlaugh ‘Ithinkthatthesamewassaid ofChalais Idonotrememberthatitsavedhishead.’ Thiswasnotreassuring Butworsewastocome Earlyinthemorningorders werereceivedthatIshouldbetreatedwithespecialstrictness,andIwasgiven thechoicebetweenironsandoneofthecellsbelowthelevel Choosingthe latter,Iwaslefttoreflectuponmanythings;amongothers,onthequeerand uncertainnatureoftheCardinal,wholoved,Iknew,toplaywithamanasacat withamouse;andontheilleffectswhichsometimesattendahighchest-thrust howevercarefullydelivered Ionlyrescuedmyselfatlastfromtheseandother unpleasantreflectionsbyobtainingtheloanofapairofdice;andthelightbeing justenoughtoenablemetoreckonthethrows,Iamusedmyselfforhoursby castingthemoncertainprinciplesofmyown Butalongrunagainandagain upsetmycalculations;andatlastbroughtmetotheconclusionthatarunofbad luckmaybesopersistentastoseeoutthemostsagaciousplayer Thiswasnota reflectionverywelcometomeatthemoment Nevertheless,forthreedaysitwasallthecompanyIhad Attheendofthattime, theknaveofajailorwhoattendedme,andwhohadnevergrowntiredoftelling breachofhonour,forinanycaseIcouldnotreachtheCardinalbeforetomorrow Anditcoulddonoharm Itcouldmakenochangeinanything Itwould nothavebeenathingworthstrugglingabout,indeed;only—onlyIhadinmy inmostheartasuspicionthatthestoutestresolutionsmightlosetheirforceinthat atmosphere;andthatthereevensuchatalismanasthememoryofawoman’s looksandwordsmightloseitsvirtue Still,IthinkthatIshouldhavesuccumbedintheendifIhadnotreceivedatthe corneroftheLuxembourgashockwhichsoberedmeeffectually AsIpassedthe gates,acoach,followedbytwooutriders,sweptoutofthePalacecourtyard;it wasgoingatagreatpace,andIreinedmyjadedhorseononesidetogiveit room Bychanceasitwhirledbyme,oneoftheleathercurtainsflappedback, andIsawforasecondbythewaninglight—thenearerwheelswerenomore thantwofeetfrommyboot—afaceinside Afaceandnomore,andthatonlyforasecond Butitfrozeme Itwas Richelieu’s,theCardinal’s;butnotasIhadbeenwonttoseeit—keen,cold, acute,withintellectandindomitablewillineveryfeature Thisfacewas contortedwiththerageofimpatience,wasgrimwiththefeverofhaste,andthe fearofdeath Theeyesburnedunderthepalebrow,themoustachebristled,the teethshowedthroughthebeard;Icouldfancythemancrying‘Faster!Faster!’ andgnawinghisnailsintheimpotenceofpassion;andIshrankbackasifIhad beenstruck Thenextmomenttheoutriderssplashedme,thecoachwasa hundredpacesahead,andIwasleftchilledandwondering,foreseeingtheworst, andnolongerinanymoodforZaton’s Sucharevelationofsuchamanwasenoughtoappalme,foramoment consciencecriedoutthathemusthaveheardthatCocheforethadescapedhim, andthroughme ButIdismissedtheideaassoonasformed Inthevastmeshes oftheCardinal’sschemesCocheforetcouldbeonlyasmallfish;andtoaccount forthefaceinthecoachIneededacataclysm,acatastrophe,amisfortuneasfar aboveordinarymishapsasthisman’sintellectroseabovethecommonrunof minds ItwasalmostdarkwhenIcrossedthebridges,andcreptdespondentlytotheRue Savonnerie AfterstablingmyhorseItookmybagandholsters,andclimbing thestairstomyoldlandlord’s—Irememberthattheplacehadgrown,asit seemedtome,strangelymeanandsmallandill-smellinginmyabsence—I knockedatthedoor Itwaspromptlyopenedbythelittletailorhimself,who threwuphisarmsandopenedhiseyesatsightofme ‘BySaintGenevieve!’hesaid,‘ifitisnotM deBerault?’ ‘Itis,’Isaid Ittouchedmealittle,aftermylonelyjourney,tofindhimsoglad toseeme;thoughIhadneverdonehimagreaterbenefitthansometimesto unbendwithhimandborrowhismoney ‘Youlooksurprised,littleman!’I continued,ashemadewayformetoenter ‘I’llbeswornthatyouhavebeen pawningmygoodsandlettingmyroom,youknave!’‘Never,yourExcellency!’ heanswered ‘Onthecontrary,Ihavebeenexpectingyou.’ ‘How?’Isaid ‘To-day?’ ‘To-dayorto-morrow,’heanswered,followingmeinandclosingthedoor ‘The firstthingIsaidwhenIheardthenewsthismorningwas—nowweshallhave M deBeraultbackagain YourExcellencywillpardonthechildren,’he continued,bobbingroundme,asItooktheoldseatonthethree-leggedstool beforethehearth ‘Thenightiscoldandthereisnofireinyourroom.’ Whileherantoandfrowithmycloakandbags,littleGil,towhomIhadstood atStSulpice’s,borrowingtencrownsthesameday,Iremember,cameshylyto playwithmyswordhilt ‘Soyouexpectedmebackwhenyouheardthenews,Frison,didyou?’Isaid, takingtheladonmyknee ‘Tobesure,yourExcellency,’heanswered,peepingintotheblackpotbeforehe liftedittothehook ‘Verygood Thennowletushearwhatthenewsis,’Isaiddrily ‘OftheCardinal,M deBerault.’ ‘Ah!Andwhat?’Helookedatme,holdingtheheavypotsuspendedinhishands ‘Youhavenotheard?’heexclaimedinastonishment ‘Notatittle Tellitme,mygoodfellow.’ ‘YouhavenotheardthathisEminenceisdisgraced?’ Istaredathim ‘Notaword,’Isaid Hesetdownthepot ‘ThenyourExcellencymusthavemadeaverylongjourneyindeed,’hesaidwith conviction ‘Forithasbeenintheairaweekormore,andIthoughtthatithad broughtyouback Aweek?Amonth,Idaresay Theywhisperthatitistheold Queen’sdoing Atanyrate,itiscertainthattheyhavecancelledhiscommissions anddisplacedhisofficers TherearerumoursofimmediatepeacewithSpain Everywherehisenemiesareliftinguptheirheads;andIhearthathehasrelays ofhorsessetallthewaytothecoastthathemayflyatanymoment ForwhatI knowhemaybegonealready.’ ‘But,man—’Isaid,surprisedoutofmycomposure ‘TheKing!Youforgetthe King LettheCardinaloncepipetohimandhewilldance Andtheywilldance too!’Iaddedgrimly ‘Yes,’Frisonansweredeagerly ‘True,yourExcellency,buttheKingwillnotsee him Threetimesto-day,asIamtold,theCardinalhasdriventotheLuxembourg andstoodlikeanycommonmanintheante-chamber,sothatIhearitwaspitiful toseehim ButhisMajestywouldnotadmithim Andwhenhewentawaythe lasttimeIamtoldthathisfacewaslikedeath!Well,hewasagreatman,andwe maybeworseruled,M deBerault,savingyourpresence Ifthenoblesdidnot likehim,hewasgoodtothetradersandthebourgeoisie,andequaltoall.’ ‘Silence,man!Silence,andletmethink,’Isaid,muchexcited Andwhilehe bustledtoandfro,gettingmysupper,andthefirelightplayedaboutthesnug, sorrylittleroom,andthechildtoyedwithhisplaything,Ifelltodigestingthis greatnews,andponderinghowIstoodnowandwhatIoughttodo Atfirst sight,Iknow,itseemedtomethatIhadnothingtodobuttositstill Inafew hoursthemanwhohadtakenmybondwouldbepowerless,andIshouldbefree; inafewhoursImightsmileathim Toallappearancethedicehadfallenwell forme Ihaddoneagreatthing,runagreatrisk,wonawoman’slove;and,after all,Iwasnottopaythepenalty ButawordwhichfellfromFrisonasheflutteredroundme,pouringoutthe brothandcuttingthebread,droppedintomymindandspoiledmysatisfaction ‘Yes,yourExcellency,’hesaid,confirmingsomethinghehadstatedbeforeand whichIhadmissed,‘andIamtoldthatthelasttimehecameintothegallery therewasnotamanofallthescoreswhohadbeenathisleveelastMonday wouldspeaktohim Theyfellofflikerats—justlikerats—untilhewasleft standingalone AndIhaveseenhim!’—Frisonlifteduphiseyesandhishands anddrewinhisbreath—‘Ah!IhaveseentheKinglookshabbybesidehim!And hiseye!Iwouldnotliketomeetitnow.’ ‘Pish!’Igrowled ‘Someonehasfooledyou Menarewiserthanthat.’ ‘So?Well,yourExcellencyunderstands,’heansweredmeekly ‘But—thereare nocatsonacoldhearth.’ Itoldhimagainthathewasafool Butforallthat,andmyreasoning,Ifelt uncomfortable Thiswasagreatman,ifeveragreatmanlived,andtheywereall leavinghim;andI—well,Ihadnocausetolovehim ButIhadtakenhismoney, Ihadacceptedhiscommission,andIhadbetrayedhim Thesethreethingsbeing so,ifhefellbeforeIcould—withthebestwillintheworld—setmyselfright withhim,somuchthebetterforme Thatwasmygain—thefortuneofwar,the turnofthedice ButifIlayhid,andtooktimeformyally,andbeingherewhile hestillstood,thoughtottering,waiteduntilhefell,whatofmyhonourthen? WhatofthegrandwordsIhadsaidtoMademoiselleatAgen?Ishouldbelike therecreantintheoldromance,who,lyingintheditchwhilethebattleraged, cameoutafterwardsandboastedofhiscourage Andyetthefleshwasweak Aday,twenty-fourhours,twodays,mightmakethe differencebetweenlifeanddeath,loveanddeath;andIwavered ButatlastI settledwhatIwoulddo Atnoonthenextday,thetimeatwhichIshouldhave presentedmyselfifIhadnotheardthisnews,atthattimeIwouldstillpresent myself Notearlier;Iowedmyselfthechance Notlater;thatwasduetohim Havingsosettledit,Ithoughttorestinpeace ButwiththefirstlightIwas awake,anditwasallIcoulddotokeepmyselfquietuntilIheardFrisonstirring Icalledtohimthentoknowiftherewasanynews,andlaywaitingandlistening whilehewentdowntothestreettolearn Itseemedanendlesstimebeforehe cameback;anage,whenhecameback,beforehespoke ‘Well,hehasnotsetoff?’Iaskedatlast,unabletocontrolmyeagerness Ofcoursehehadnot;andatnineo’clockIsentFrisonoutagain;andattenand eleven—alwayswiththesameresult Iwaslikeamanwaitingandlookingand, aboveall,listeningforareprieve;andassickasanycraven Butwhenhecame back,ateleven,Igaveuphopeanddressedmyselfcarefully IsupposeIhadan oddlookthen,however,forFrisonstoppedmeatthedoor,andaskedme,with evidentalarm,whereIwasgoing Iputthelittlemanasidegently ‘Tothetables,’Isaid,‘tomakeabigthrow,myfriend.’ Itwasafinemorning,sunny,keen,pleasant,whenIwentoutintothestreet;but Iscarcelynoticedit AllmythoughtswerewhereIwasgoing,sothatitseemed butastepfrommythresholdtotheHotelRichelieu;Iwasnosoonergonefrom theonethanIfoundmyselfattheother Now,asonamemorableeveningwhen Ihadcrossedthestreetinadrizzlingrain,andlookedthatwaywithforeboding, thereweretwoorthreeguards,intheCardinal’slivery,loiteringinfrontofthe greatgates Comingnearer,IfoundtheoppositepavementundertheLouvre throngedwithpeople,notmovingabouttheirbusiness,butstandingallsilent,all lookingacrossfurtively,allwiththeairofpersonswhowishedtobethought passingby Theirsilenceandtheirkeenlookshadinsomewayanairofmenace LookingbackafterIhadturnedintowardsthegates,Ifoundthemdevouringme withtheireyes Andcertainlytheyhadlittleelsetolookat Inthecourtyard,where,some mornings,whentheCourtwasinParis,Ihadseenascoreofcoacheswaiting andthriceasmanyservants,werenowemptinessandsunshineandstillness The officeronguard,twirlinghismoustachios,lookedatmeinwonderasIpassed him;thelackeysloungingintheportico,andalltoomuchtakenupwith whisperingtomakeapretenceofbeingofservice,grinnedatmyappearance ButthatwhichhappenedwhenIhadmountedthestairsandcametothedoorof theante-chamberoutdidall Themanonguardwouldhaveopenedthedoor,but whenIwenttoenter,amajor-domowhowasstandingby,mutteringwithtwoor threeofhiskind,hastenedforwardandstoppedme ‘Yourbusiness,Monsieur,ifyouplease?’hesaidinquisitively;whileIwondered whyheandtheotherslookedatmesostrangely ‘IamM deBerault,’Iansweredsharply ‘Ihavetheentree.’ Hebowedpolitelyenough ‘Yes,M deBerault,Ihavethehonourtoknowyourface,’hesaid ‘But—pardon me HaveyoubusinesswithhisEminence?’ ‘Ihavethecommonbusiness,’Iansweredsharply ‘Bywhichmanyofuslive, sirrah!Towaitonhim.’ ‘But—byappointment,Monsieur?’ ‘No,’Isaid,astonished ‘Itistheusualhour Forthematterofthat,however,I havebusinesswithhim.’ Themanstilllookedatmeforamomentinseemingembarrassment Thenhe stoodasideandsignedtothedoor-keepertoopenthedoor Ipassedin, uncovering;withanassuredfaceandsteadfastmien,readytomeetalleyes Ina moment,onthethreshold,themysterywasexplained Theroomwasempty CHAPTERXV STMARTIN’SSUMMER Yes,atthegreatCardinal’sleveeIwastheonlyclient!Istaredroundtheroom,a long,narrowgallery,throughwhichitwashiscustomtowalkeverymorning, afterreceivinghismoreimportantvisitors Istared,Isay,fromsidetoside,ina stateofstupefaction Theseatsagainsteitherwallwereempty,therecessesof thewindowsemptytoo Thehatsculpturedandpaintedhereandthere,the staringR,theblazonedarmslookeddownonavacantfloor Onlyonalittle stoolbythefartherdoor,sataquiet-facedmaninblack,whoread,orpretended toread,inalittlebook,andneverlookedup Oneofthosemen,blind,deaf, secretive,whofattenintheshadowofthegreat Suddenly,whileIstoodconfoundedandfullofshamedthought—forIhadseen theante-chamberofRichelieu’soldhotelsocrowdedthathecouldnotwalk throughit—thismanclosedhisbook,roseandcamenoiselesslytowardsme ‘M deBerault?’hesaid ‘Yes,’Ianswered ‘HisEminenceawaitsyou Begoodenoughtofollowme.’ Ididso,inadeeperstuporthanbefore ForhowcouldtheCardinalknowthatI washere?Howcouldhehaveknownwhenhegavetheorder?ButIhadshort timetothinkofthesethings,orothers Wepassedthroughtworooms,inoneof whichsomesecretarieswerewriting,westoppedatathirddoor Overall broodedasilencewhichcouldbefelt Theusherknocked,opened,and,withhis fingeronhislip,pushedasideacurtainandsignedtometoenter Ididsoand foundmyselfbehindascreen ‘IsthatM deBerault?’askedathin,high-pitchedvoice ‘Yes,Monseigneur,’Iansweredtrembling ‘Thencome,myfriend,andtalktome.’ Iwentroundthescreen,andIknownothowitwas,thewatchingcrowdoutside, thevacantante-chamberinwhichIhadstood,thestillnessandsilenceall seemedtobeconcentratedhere,andtogivetothemanIsawbeforemeadignity whichhehadneverpossessedformewhentheworldpassedthroughhisdoors, andtheproudestfawnedonhimforasmile Hesatinagreatchaironthefarther sideofthehearth,alittleredskull-caponhishead,hisfinehandslyingstillin hislap Thecollaroflawnwhichfelloverhiscapewasquiteplain,buttheskirts ofhisredrobewerecoveredwithrichlace,andtheorderoftheHolyGhost,a whitedoveonagoldcross,shoneonhisbreast Amongthemultitudinouspapers onthegreattablenearhimIsawaswordandpistols;andsometapestrythat coveredalittletablebehindhimfailedtohideapairofspurredriding-boots But asIadvancedhelookedtowardsmewiththeutmostcomposure;withaface mildandalmostbenign,inwhichIstroveinvaintoreadthetracesoflastnight’s passion Sothatitflashedacrossmethatifthismanreallystood(andafterwards Iknewthathedid)onthethinrazor-edgebetweenlifeanddeath,betweenthe supremeofearthlypower,lordofFranceandarbiterofEurope,andthe nothingnessoftheclod,hejustifiedhisfame Hegaveweakernaturesnoroom fortriumph Thethoughtwasnosoonerentertainedthanitwasgone ‘Andsoyouarebackatlast,M deBerault,’hesaidgently ‘Ihavebeen expectingtoseeyousinceninethismorning.’ ‘YourEminenceknew,then—’Imuttered ‘ThatyoureturnedtoParisbytheOrleansgatelasteveningalone?’heanswered, fittingtogethertheendsofhisfingers,andlookingatmeoverthemwith inscrutableeyes ‘Yes,Iknewallthatlastnight Andnow,ofyourbusiness You havebeenfaithfulanddiligent,Iamsure Whereishe?’ Istaredathimandwasdumb InsomewaythestrangethingsIhadseensinceI hadleftmylodgings,thesurprisesIhadfoundawaitingmehere,haddrivenmy ownfortunes,myownperil,outofmyhead—untilthismoment Now,atthis question,allreturnedwitharush,andIrememberedwhereIstood Myheart heavedsuddenlyinmybreast Istroveforasavouroftheoldhardihood,butfor themomentIcouldnotfindaword ‘Well,’hesaidlightly,afaintsmileliftinghismoustache ‘Youdonotspeak YouleftAuchwithhimonthetwenty-fourth,M deBerault SomuchIknow AndyoureachedPariswithouthimlastnight Hehasnotgivenyoutheslip?’ ‘No,Monseigneur,’Imuttered ‘Ha!thatisgood,’heanswered,sinkingbackagaininhischair ‘Forthemoment —butIknewthatIcoulddependonyou Andnowwhereishe?Whathaveyou donewithhim?Heknowsmuch,andthesoonerIknowitthebetter Areyour peoplebringinghim,M deBerault?’ ‘No,Monseigneur,’Istammered,withdrylips Hisverygood-humour,his benignity,appalledme Iknewhowterriblewouldbethechange,howfearfulhis rage,whenIshouldtellhimthetruth AndyetthatI,GildeBerault,should tremblebeforeanyman!WiththatthoughtIspurredmyself,asitwere,tothe task ‘No,yourEminence,’Isaid,withtheenergyofdespair ‘Ihavenotbrought him,becauseIhavesethimfree.’ ‘Becauseyouhave—WHAT?’heexclaimed Heleanedforwardashespoke,his handsonthearmofthechair;andhiseyesgrowingeachinstantsmaller,seemed toreadmysoul ‘BecauseIhavelethimgo,’Irepeated ‘Andwhy?’hesaid,inavoiceliketheraspingofafile ‘BecauseItookhimunfairly,’Ianswered ‘Because,Monseigneur,Iamagentleman,andthistaskshouldhavebeengiven toonewhowasnot Itookhim,ifyoumustknow,’Icontinuedimpatiently—the fenceoncecrossedIwasgrowingbolder—‘bydoggingawoman’sstepsand winningherconfidenceandbetrayingit AndwhateverIhavedoneillinmylife —ofwhichyouweregoodenoughtothrowsomethinginmyteethwhenIwas lasthere—Ihaveneverdonethat,andIwillnot!’ ‘Andsoyousethimfree?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘AfteryouhadbroughthimtoAuch?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And,inpointoffact,savedhimfromfallingintothehandsoftheCommandant atAuch?’ ‘Yes,’Ianswereddesperatelytoall ‘Then,whatofthetrustIplacedinyou,sirrah?’herejoined,inaterriblevoice; andstoopingstillfartherforwardheprobedmewithhiseyes ‘Youwhoprateof trustandconfidence,whoreceivedyourlifeonparole,andbutforyourpromise tomewouldhavebeencarrionthismonthpast,answermethat?Whatofthe trustIplacedinyou?’ ‘Theanswerissimple,’Isaid,shruggingmyshoulderswithatouchofmyold self ‘Iamheretopaythepenalty.’ ‘AnddoyouthinkthatIdonotknowwhy?’heretorted,strikingonehandonthe armofhischairwithaforcethatstartledme ‘Becauseyouhaveheard,sir,that mypowerisgone!BecauseyouhaveheardthatI,whowasyesterdaytheKing’s righthand,amto-daydriedup,witheredandparalysed!Becauseyouhaveheard —buthaveacare!haveacare!’hecontinuedwithextraordinaryvehemence,and inavoicelikeadog’ssnarl ‘Youandthoseothers!Haveacare,Isay,oryou mayfindyourselvesmistakenyet.’ ‘AsHeavenshalljudgeme,’Iansweredsolemnly,‘thatisnottrue UntilI reachedParislastnightIknewnothingofthisreport Icameherewithasingle mind,toredeemmyhonourbyplacingagaininyourEminence’shandsthat whichyougavemeontrust,andhereIdoplaceit.’ Foramomentheremainedinthesameattitude,staringatmefixedly Thenhis facerelaxedsomewhat ‘Begoodenoughtoringthatbell,’hesaid Itstoodonatablenearme Irangit,andavelvet-footedmaninblackcamein, andglidinguptotheCardinal,placedapaperinhishand TheCardinallooked atit;whilethemanstoodwithhisheadobsequiouslybent,andmyheartbeat furiously ‘Verygood,’hisEminencesaid,afterapausewhichseemedtometobeendless, ‘Letthedoorsbethrownopen.’ Themanbowedlow,andretiredbehindthescreen Iheardalittlebellring somewhereinthesilence,andinamomenttheCardinalstoodup ‘Followme!’hesaid,withastrangeflashofhiskeeneyes Astonished,Istoodasidewhilehepassedtothescreen;thenIfollowedhim Outsidethefirstdoor,whichstoodopen,wefoundeightorninepersons—pages, amonk,themajor-domo,andseveralguardswaitinglikemutes Thesesignedto metoprecedethemandfellinbehindus,andinthatorderwepassedthrough thefirstroomandthesecond,wheretheclerksstoodwithbentheadstoreceive us Thelastdoor,thedooroftheante-chamber,flewopenasweapproached, voicescried,‘Room!RoomforhisEminence!’wepassedthroughtwolinesof bowinglackeys,andentered—anemptychamber Theushersdidnotknowhowtolookatoneanother;thelackeystrembledin theirshoes ButtheCardinalwalkedon,apparentlyunmoved,untilhehad passedslowlyhalfthelengthofthechamber Thenheturnedhimselfabout, lookingfirsttoonesideandthentotheother,withalowlaughofderision ‘Father,’hesaidinhisthinvoice,‘whatdoesthePsalmistsay?“Iambecome likeapelicaninthewildernessandlikeanowlthatisinthedesert!”’ Themonkmumbledassent ‘Andlaterinthesamepsalm,isitnotwritten,“Theyshallperish,butthoushalt endure?”’ ‘Itisso,’thefatheranswered ‘Amen.’ ‘Doubtlessthough,thatreferstoanotherlife,’theCardinalsaid,withhisslow wintrysmile ‘Inthemeantimewewillgobacktoourbooks,andserveGodand theKinginsmallthingsifnotingreat Come,father,thisisnolongeraplacefor us VANITASVANITATUMOMNIAVANITAS!Wewillretire.’ Andassolemnlyaswehadcomewemarchedbackthroughthefirstandsecond andthirddoorsuntilwestoodagaininthesilenceoftheCardinal’schamber—he andIandthevelvet-footedmaninblack ForawhileRichelieuseemedtoforget me Hestoodbroodingonthehearth,hiseyesonasmallfire,whichburned therethoughtheweatherwaswarm OnceIheardhimlaugh,andtwicehe utteredinatoneofbittermockerythewords,— ‘Fools!Fools!Fools!’ Atlasthelookedup,sawme,andstarted ‘Ah!’hesaid,‘Ihadforgottenyou Well,youarefortunate,M deBerault YesterdayIhadahundredclients;to-dayIhaveonlyone,andIcannotaffordto hanghim Butforyourlibertythatisanothermatter.’ Iwouldhavesaidsomething,pleadedsomething;butheturnedabruptlytothe table,andsittingdownwroteafewlinesonapieceofpaper Thenheranghis bell,whileIstoodwaitingandconfounded Themaninblackcamefrombehindthescreen ‘Takethisletterandthatgentlemantotheupperguard-room,’theCardinalsaid sharply ‘Icanhearnomore,’hecontinued,frowningandraisinghishandto forbidinterruption ‘Thematterisended,M deBerault Bethankful.’ InamomentIwasoutsidethedoor,myheadinawhirl,myheartdivided betweengratitudeandresentment Iwouldfainhavestoodtoconsidermy position;butIhadnotime Obeyingagesture,Ifollowedmyguidealong severalpassages,andeverywherefoundthesamesilence,thesamemonastic stillness Atlength,whileIwasdolefullyconsideringwhethertheBastilleorthe Chateletwouldbemyfate,hestoppedatadoor,thrusttheletterintomyhands, andliftingthelatch,signedtometoenter Iwentininamazement,andstoppedinconfusion Beforeme,alone,justrisen fromachair,withherfaceonemomentpale,thenextcrimsonwithblushes, stoodMademoiselledeCocheforet Icriedouthername ‘M deBerault,’shesaid,trembling ‘Youdidnotexpecttoseeme?’ ‘Iexpectedtoseenoonesolittle,Mademoiselle,’Ianswered,strivingtorecover mycomposure ‘Yetyoumighthavethoughtthatweshouldnotutterlydesertyou,’shereplied, withareproachfulhumilitywhichwenttomyheart ‘Weshouldhavebeenbase indeed,ifwehadnotmadesomeattempttosaveyou IthankHeaven,M de Berault,thatithassofarsucceededthatthatstrangemanhaspromisedmeyour life Youhaveseenhim?’shecontinuedeagerlyandinanothertone,whileher eyesgrewonasuddenlargewithfear ‘Yes,Mademoiselle,’Isaid ‘Ihaveseenhim,anditistrue,Hehasgivenmemy life.’ ‘And—?’ ‘Andsentmeintoimprisonment.’ ‘Forhowlong?’shewhispered ‘Idonotknow,’Ianswered ‘IfearduringtheKing’spleasure.’ Sheshuddered ‘Imayhavedonemoreharmthangood,’shemurmured,lookingatmepiteously ‘ButIdiditforthebest Itoldhimall,andperhapsIdidharm.’ Buttohearheraccuseherselfthus,whenshehadmadethislongandlonely journeytosaveme,whenshehadforcedherselfintoherenemy’spresence,and had,asIwassureshehad,abasedherselfforme,wasmorethanIcouldbear ‘Hush,Mademoiselle,hush!’Isaid,almostroughly ‘Youhurtme Youhave mademehappy;andyetIwishthatyouwerenothere,where,Ifear,youhave fewfriends,butbackatCocheforet YouhavedonemoreformethanIexpected, andahundredtimesmorethanIdeserved Butitmustendhere Iwasaruined manbeforethishappened,beforeIeversawyou Iamnoworsenow,butIam stillthat;andIwouldnothaveyournamepinnedtomineonParislips Therefore,good-bye GodforbidIshouldsaymoretoyou,orletyoustaywhere foultongueswouldsoonmalignyou.’ Shelookedatmeinakindofwonder;then,withagrowingsmile,— ‘Itistoolate,’shesaidgently ‘Toolate?’Iexclaimed ‘How,Mademoiselle?’ ‘Because—doyouremember,M deBerault,whatyoutoldmeofyourlovestoryundertheguide-postbyAgen?Thatitcouldhavenohappyending?For thesamereasonIwasnotashamedtotellminetotheCardinal Bythistimeitis commonproperty.’ Ilookedatherasshestoodfacingme Hereyesshoneunderthelashesthat almosthidthem Herfiguredrooped,andyetasmiletrembledonherlips ‘Whatdidyoutellhim,Mademoiselle?’Iwhispered,mybreathcomingquickly ‘ThatIloved,’sheansweredboldly,raisinghercleareyestomine ‘And thereforethatIwasnotashamedtobeg—evenonmyknees.’ Ifellonmine,andcaughtherhandbeforethelastwordpassedherlips Forthe momentIforgotKingandCardinal,prisonandthefuture,all;allexceptthatthis woman,sopureandsobeautiful,sofarabovemeinallthings,lovedme Forthe moment,Isay ThenIrememberedmyself Istoodup,andstoodbackfromher inasuddenrevulsionoffeeling ‘Youdonotknowme!’Icried,‘YoudonotknowwhatIhavedone!’ ‘ThatiswhatIdoknow,’sheanswered,lookingatmewithawondroussmile ‘Ah!butyoudonot!’Icried ‘Andbesides,thereisthis—thisbetweenus.’And IpickeduptheCardinal’sletter Ithadfallenonthefloor Sheturnedashade paler Thenshecriedquickly,— ‘Openit!openit!Itisnotsealednorclosed.’ Iobeyedmechanically,dreadingwithahorribledreadwhatImightsee Even whenIhaditopenIlookedatthefinelyscrawledcharacterswitheyesaskance ButatlastImadeitout Anditranthus:— ‘THEKING’SPLEASUREISTHATM GILDEBERAULT,HAVING MIXEDHIMSELFUPINAFFAIRSOFSTATE,RETIREFORTHWITHTO THEDEMESNEOFCOCHEFORET,ANDCONFINEHIMSELFWITHIN ITSLIMITSUNTILTHEKING’SPLEASUREBEFURTHERKNOWN ‘THECARDINALDERICHELIEU.’ Weweremarriednextday,andafortnightlaterwereatCocheforet,inthebrown woodsunderthesouthernmountains;whilethegreatCardinal,oncemore triumphantoverhisenemies,sawwithcold,smilingeyestheworldpassthrough hischamber Thefloodtideofhisprosperitylastedthirteenyearsfromthattime, andceasedonlywithhisdeath Fortheworldhadlearneditslesson;tothishour theycallthatday,whichsawmestandaloneforallhisfriends,‘TheDayof Dupes.’
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