St. Martin's Summer
Part 2 out of 6
"There, monsieur, you are at fault," she cried, and she was smiling
into his grave eyes. "Because once I put that jest upon you, you
imagine - "
"No, no," he broke in. "You misapprehend me. I do not say that
this is not Mademoiselle de La Vauvraye; I do not say that - "
He paused; he was at the end of his resources. He did not know how
to put the thing without giving offence, and it had been his resolve
- realizing the necessity for it - to conduct this matter with a
To feel that after having carried the affair so far with a for him
- commendable lightness of touch, he should be at a loss for a
delicate word to convey a harsh accusation began to anger him. And
once Garnache began to be angered, the rest followed quickly. It
was just that flaw in his character that had been the ruin of him,
that had blighted what otherwise might have been a brilliant career.
Astute and wily as a fox, brave as a lion, and active as a panther,
gifted with intelligence, insight and resource, he had carried a
dozen enterprises up to the very threshold of success, there to have
ruined them all by giving way to some sudden access of choler.
So was it now. His pause was but momentary. Yet in that moment,
from calm and freezing that he had been, he became ruffled and hot.
The change was visible in his heightened colour, in his flashing
eyes, and in his twitching mustachios. For just a second he sought
to smother his wrath; he had a glimmer of remembrance of the need
for caution and diplomacy in the darkness of anger that was
descending over him. Then, without further warning, he exploded.
His nervous, sinewy hand clenched itself and fell with a crash upon
the table, overturning a flagon and sending a lake of wine across
the board, to trickle over at a dozen points and form in puddles at
the feet of Valerie. Startled, they all watched him, mademoiselle
the most startled of the three.
"Madame," he thundered, "I have been receiving dancing-lessons at
your hands for long enough. It is time, I think, we did a little
ordinary walking, else shall we get no farther along the road I mean
to go and that is the road to Paris with mademoiselle for company."
"Monsieur, monsieur!" cried the startled Marquise, placing herself
intrepidly before him; and Marius trembled for her, for so wild did
the man seem that he almost feared he might strike her.
"I have heard enough," he blazed. "Not another word from any here
in Condillac! I'll take this lady with me now, at once; and if any
here raises a finger to resist me, as Heaven is my witness, it will
be the last resistance he will ever offer any man. Let a hand be
laid upon me, or a sword bared before my eyes, and I swear, madame,
that I'll come back and burn this dunghill of rebellion to the
In the blindness of his passion all his fine keenness was cast to
the wind, his all-observing watchfulness was smothered in the cloud
of anger that oppressed his brain. He never saw the sign that
madame made to her son, never so much as noticed Marius's stealthy
progress towards the door.
"Oh," he continued, a satirical note running now through his
tempestuous voice, "it is a fine thing to cozen each other with
honeyed words, with smirks and with grimaces. But we have done
with that, madame." He towered grimly above her, shaking a
threatening finger in her very face. "We have done with that. We
shall resort to deeds, instead."
"Aye, monsieur," she answered very coldly, sneering upon his
red-hot fury, "there shall be deeds enough to satisfy even your
outrageous thirst for them."
That cold, sneering voice, with its note of threat, was like a hand
of ice upon his overheated brain. It cooled him on the instant.
He stiffened, and looked about him. He saw that Marius had
disappeared, and that mademoiselle had risen and was regarding him
with singularly imploring eyes.
He bit his lip in mortified chagrin. He cursed himself inwardly
for a fool and a dolt - the more pitiable because he accounted
himself cunning above others. Had he but kept his temper, had he
done no more than maintain the happy pretence that he was a slave
to the orders he had received - a mere machine - he might have
gained his ends by sheer audacity. At least, his way of retreat
would have remained open, and he might have gone, to return another
day with force at his heels.
As it was, that pretty whelp, her son, had been sent, no doubt, for
men. He stepped up to Valerie.
"Are you ready, mademoiselle?" said he; for little hope though he
might still have of winning through, yet he must do the best to
repair the damage that was of his making.
She saw that the storm of passion had passed, and she was infected
by the sudden, desperate daring that prompted that question of his.
"I am ready, monsieur," said she, and her boyish voice had an
intrepid ring. "I will come with you as I am."
"Then, in God's name, let us be going."
They moved together towards the door, with never another glance for
the Dowager where she stood, patting the head of the hound that had
risen and come to stand beside her. In silence she watched them,
a sinister smile upon her beautiful, ivory face.
Then came a sound of feet and voices in the anteroom. The door was
flung violently open, and a half-dozen men with naked swords came
blundering into the room, Marius bringing up the rear.
With a cry of fear Valerie shrank back against the panelled wall,
her little hands to her cheeks, her eyes dilating with alarm.
Garnache's sword rasped out, an oath rattled from his clenched teeth,
and he fell on guard. The men paused, and took his measure. Marius
urged them on, as if they had been a pack of dogs.
"At him!" he snapped, his finger pointing, his handsome eyes flashing
angrily. "Cut him down!"
They moved; but mademoiselle moved at the same moment. She sprang
before them, between their swords and their prey.
"You shall not do it; you shall not do it!" she cried, and her face
looked drawn, her eyes distraught. "It is murder - murder, you
curs!" And the memory of how that dainty little lady stood undaunted
before so much bared steel, to shield him from those assassins, was
one that abode ever after with Garnache.
"Mademoiselle," said he, in a quiet voice, "if you will but stand
aside there will be some murder done among them first."
But she did not move. Marius clenched his hands, fretted by the
delay. The Dowager looked on and smiled and patted her dog's head.
To her mademoiselle now turned in appeal.
"Madame," she exclaimed, "you'll not allow it. You'll not let them
do this thing. Bid them put up their swords, madame. Bethink you
that Monsieur de Garnache is here in the Queen's name."
Too well did madame bethink her of it. Garnache need not plague
himself with vexation that his rash temper alone had wrought his
ruin now. It had but accelerated it. It was just possible, perhaps,
that suavity might have offered him opportunities; but, for the rest,
from the moment that he showed himself firm in his resolve to carry
mademoiselle to Paris, his doom was sealed. Madame would never
willingly have allowed him to leave Condillac alive, for she realized
that did she do so he would stir up trouble enough to have them
outlawed. He must perish here, and be forgotten. If questions came
to be asked later, Condillac would know nothing of him.
"Monsieur de Garnache promised us some fine deeds on his own account,"
she mocked him. "We but afford him the opportunity to perform them.
If these be not enough for his exceeding valour, there are more men
without whom we can summon."
A feeling of pity for mademoiselle - perhaps of no more than
decency - now overcame Marius. He stepped forward.
"Valerie," he said, "it is not fitting you should remain."
"Aye, take her hence," the Dowager bade him, with a smile. "Her
presence is unmanning our fine Parisian."
Eager to do so, over-eager, Marius came forward, past his men-at-arms,
until he was but some three paces from the girl and just out of reach
of a sudden dart of Garnache's sword.
Softly, very warily, Garnache slipped his right foot a little farther
to the right. Suddenly he threw his weight upon it, so that he was
clear of the girl. Before they understood what he was about, the
thing had taken place. He had leaped forward, caught the young man
by the breast of his shimmering doublet, leaped back to shelter
beyond mademoiselle, hurled Marius to the ground, and planted his
foot, shod as it was in his thickly mudded riding-boot, full upon
the boy's long, shapely neck.
"Move so much as a finger, my pretty fellow," he snapped at him,
"and I'll crush the life from you as from a toad."
There was a sudden forward movement on the part of the men; but if
Garnache was vicious, he was calm. Were he again to lose his temper
now, there would indeed be a speedy end to him. That much he knew,
and kept repeating to himself, lest he should be tempted to forget
"Back!" he bade them in a voice so imperative that they stopped,
and looked on with gaping mouths. "Back, or he perishes!" And
dropping the point of his sword, he lightly rested it upon the
young man's breast.
In dismay they looked to the Dowager for instruction. She craned
forward, the smile gone from her lips, a horror in her eyes, her
bosom heaving. A moment ago she had smiled upon mademoiselle's
outward signs of fear; had mademoiselle been so minded, she might
in her turn have smiled now at the terror written large upon the
Dowager's own face. But her attention was all absorbed by the
swiftly executed act by which Garnache had gained at least a
She had turned and looked at the strange spectacle of that dauntless
man, erect, his foot upon Marius's neck, like some fantastic figure
of a contemporary Saint George and a contemporary dragon. She
pressed her hands tighter upon her bosom; her eyes sparkled with an
odd approval of that brisk deed.
But Garnache's watchful eyes were upon the Dowager. He read the
anxious fear that marred the beauty of her face, and he took heart
at the sight, for he was dependent upon the extent to which he might
work upon her feelings.
"You smiled just now, madame, when it was intended to butcher a man
before your eyes. You smile no longer, I observe, at this the first
of the fine deeds I promised you."
"Let him go," she said, and her voice was scarce louder than a
whisper, horror-laden. "Let him go, monsieur, if you would save
your own neck."
"At that price, yes - though, believe me, you are paying too much
for so poor a life as this. Still, you value the thing, and I hold
it; and so you'll forgive me if I am extortionate."
"Release him, and, in God's name, go your ways. None shall stay
you," she promised him.
He smiled. "I'll need some security for that. I do not choose to
take your word for it, Madame de Condillac."
"What security can I give you?" she cried, wringing her hands, her
eyes on the boy's ashen face ashen from mingling fear and rage -
where it showed beyond Garnache's heavy boot.
"Bid one of your knaves summon my servant. I left him awaiting me
in the courtyard."
The order was given, and one of the cut-throats departed.
In a tense and anxious silence they awaited his return, though he
kept them but an instant.
Rabecque's eyes took on a startled look when he had viewed the
situation. Garnache called to him to deprive those present of their
"And let none refuse, or offer him violence," he added, "or your
master's life shall pay the price of it."
The Dowager with a ready anxiety repeated to them his commands.
Rabecque, understanding nothing, went from man to man, and received
from each his weapons. He placed the armful on the windowseat, at
the far end of the apartment, as Garnache bade him. At the other
end of the long room, Garnache ordered the disarmed men to range
themselves. When that was done, the Parisian removed his foot from
his victim's neck.
"Stand up," he commanded, and Marius very readily obeyed him.
Garnache placed himself immediately behind the boy. "Madame," said
he, "no harm shall come to your son if he is but wise. Let him
disobey me, or let any man in Condillac lift a hand against us, and
that shall be the signal for Monsieur de Condillac's death.
Mademoiselle, it is your wish to accompany me to Paris?"
"Yes, monsieur," she answered fearlessly, her eyes sparkling now.
"We will be going then. Place yourself alongside of Monsieur de
Condillac. Rabecque, follow me. Forward, Monsieur de Condillac.
You will be so good as to conduct us to our horses in the courtyard."
They made an odd procession as they marched out of the hall, under
the sullen eyes of the baulked cut-throats and their mistress. On
the threshold Garnache paused, and looked over his shoulder.
"Are you content, madame? Have you seen fine deeds enough for one
day?" he asked her, laughing. But, white to the lips with chagrin,
she returned no answer.
Garnache and his party crossed the anteroom, after having taken the
precaution to lock the door upon the Marquise and her men, and
proceeding down a gloomy passage they gained the courtyard. Here
Marius was consoled to find some men of the garrison of Condillac a
half-score, or so - all more or less armed, surrounding the horses
of Garnache and his lackey. At sight of the odd group that now
appeared those ruffians stood at gaze, surprised, and with suspicions
aroused by Garnache's naked sword, ready for anything their master
might demand of them.
Marius had in that instant a gleam of hope. Thus far, Garnache had
been master of the situation. But surely the position would be
reversed when Garnache and his man came to mount their horses,
particularly considering how hampered they must be by Valerie. This
danger Garnache, however, was no less quick to perceive, and with a
dismaying promptness did he take his measures.
"Remember," he threatened Monsieur de Condillac, "if any of your men
show their teeth it will be the worse for you." They had come to a
halt on the threshold of the courtyard. "You will be so good as to
bid them retreat through that doorway across the yard yonder."
Marius hesitated. "And if I refuse?" he demanded hardily, but
keeping his back to Garnache. The men stirred, and stray words of
mingling wonder and anger reached the Parisian.
"You will not," said Garnache, with quiet confidence.
"I think you make too sure," Marius replied, and dissembled his
misgivings in a short laugh. Garnache became impatient. His
position was not being improved by delay.
"Monsieur de Condillac," said he, speaking quickly and yet with an
incisiveness of tone that made his words sound deliberate, "I am a
desperate man in a desperate position. Every moment that I tarry
here increases my danger and shortens my temper. If you think to
temporize in the hope of gaining an opportunity of turning the
tables upon me, you must be mad to dream that I shall permit it.
Monsieur, you will at once order those men to leave the courtyard
by that doorway, or I give you my word of honour that I shall run
you through as you stand."
"That would be to destroy yourself," said Marius with an attempted
note of confidence.
"I should be no less destroyed by delay," answered Garnache; and
added more sharply, "Give the word, monsieur, or I will make an
>From the movement behind him Marius guessed almost by instinct that
Garnache had drawn back for a lunge. At his side Valerie looked
over her shoulder, with eyes that were startled but unafraid. For
a second Marius considered whether he might not attempt to elude
Garnache by a wild and sudden dash towards his men. But the
consequences of failure were too fearful.
He shrugged his shoulders, and gave the order. The men hesitated
a moment, then shuffled away in the direction indicated. But they
went slowly, with much half-whispered, sullen conferring and many
a backward glance at Marius and those with him.
"Bid them go faster," snapped Garnache. Marius obeyed him, and the
men obeyed Marius, and vanished into the gloom of the archway. After
all, thought Monsieur de Condillac, they need go no farther than that
doorway; they must have appreciated the situation by now; and he was
confident they would have the sense to hold themselves in readiness
for a rush in the moment of Garnache's mounting.
But Garnache's next order shattered that last hope.
"Rebecque," said he, without turning his head, "go and lock them in."
Before bidding the men go that way, he had satisfied himself that
there was a key on the outside of the door. "Monsieur de Condillac,"
he resumed to Marius, "you will order your men in no way to hinder
my servant. I shall act upon any menace of danger to my lackey
precisely as I should were I, myself, in danger."
Marius's heart sank within him, as sinks a stone through water. He
realized, as his mother had realized a little while before, that in
Garnache they had an opponent who took no chances. In a voice thick
with the torturing rage of impotence he gave the order upon which
the grim Parisian insisted. There followed a silence broken by the
fall of Rabecque's heavily shod feet upon the stones of the yard,
as he crossed it to do his master's bidding. The door creaked on
its hinges; the key grated screaming in its lock, and Rabecque
returned to Garnache's side even as Garnache tapped Marius on the
"This way, Monsieur de Condillac, if you please," said he, and as
Marius turned at last to face him, he stood aside and waved his
left hand towards the door through which they had lately emerged.
A moment stood the youth facing his stern conqueror; his hands were
clenched until the knuckles showed white; his face was a dull
crimson. Vainly he sought for words in which to vent some of the
malicious chagrin that filled his soul almost to bursting-point.
Then, despairing, with a shrug and an inarticulate mutter, he flung
past the Parisian, obeying him as the cur obeys, with pendant tail
and teeth-revealing snarl.
Garnache closed the door upon him with a bang, and smiled quietly
as he turned to Valerie.
"I think we have won through, mademoiselle," said he, with pardonable
vanity. "The rest is easy, though you may be subjected to some
slight discomfort between this and Grenoble."
She smiled back at him, a pale, timid smile, like a gleam of sunshine
from a wintry sky. "That matters nothing," she assured him, and
strove to make her voice sound brave.
There was need for speed, and compliments were set aside by Garnache,
who, at his best, was not felicitous with them. Valerie felt herself
caught by the wrist, a trifle roughly she remembered afterwards, and
hurried across the cobbles to the tethered horses, with which
Rabecque was already busy. She saw Garnache raise his foot to the
stirrup and hoist himself to the saddle. Then he held down a hand
to her, bade her set her foot on his, and called with an oath
to Rabecque to lend her his assistance. A moment later she was
perched in front of Garnache, almost on the withers of his horse.
The cobbles rattled under its hooves, the timbers of the drawbridge
sent up a booming sound, they were across - out of Condillac - and
speeding at a gallop down the white road that led to the river; after
them pounded Rabecque, bumping horribly in his saddle, and attempting
wildly, and with awful objurgations, to find his stirrups.
They crossed the bridge that spans the Isere and took the road to
Grenoble at a sharp pace, with scarce a backward glance at the grey
towers of Condillac. Valerie experienced an overwhelming inclination
to weep and laugh, to cry and sing at one and the same time; but
whether this odd emotion sprang from the happenings in which she had
had her part, or from the exhilaration of that mad ride, she could
not tell. No doubt it sprang from both, owing a part to each. She
controlled herself, however. A shy, upward glance at the stern, set
face of the man whose arm encircled and held her fast had a curiously
sobering effect upon her. Their eyes met, and he smiled a friendly,
reassuring smile, such as a father might have bestowed upon a
"I do not think that they will charge me with blundering this time,"
"Charge you with blundering?" she echoed; and the inflection of the
pronoun might have flattered him had he not reflected that it was
impossible she could have understood his allusion. And now she
bethought her that she had not thanked him - and the debt was a
heavy one. He had come to her aid in an hour when hope seemed dead.
He had come single-handed - save for his man Rabecque; and in a
manner that was worthy of being made the subject of an epic, he had
carried her out of Condillac, away from the terrible Dowager and her
cut-throats. The thought of them sent a shiver through her.
"Do you feel the cold?" he asked concernedly; and that the wind
might cut her less, he slackened speed.
"No, no," she cried, her alarm waking again at the thought of the
folk of Condillac. "Make haste! Go on, go on! Mon Dieu! if they
should overtake us!"
He looked over his shoulder. The road ran straight for over a
half-mile behind them, and not a living thing showed upon it.
"You need have no alarm," he smiled. "We are not pursued. They
must have realized the futility of attempting to overtake us.
Courage, mademoiselle. We shall be in Grenoble presently, and once
there, you will have nothing more to fear."
"You are sure of that?" she asked, and there was doubt in her voice.
He smiled reassuringly again. "The Lord Seneschal shall supply us
with an escort," he promised confidently.
"Still," she said, "we shall not stay there, I hope, monsieur."
"No longer than may be necessary to procure a coach for you."
"I am glad of that," said she. "I shall know no peace until Grenoble
is a good ten leagues behind us. The Marquise and her son are too
"Yet their might shall not prevail against the Queen's," he made
reply. And as now they rode amain she fell to thanking him, shyly
at first, then, as she gathered confidence in her subject, with a
greater fervour. But he interrupted her ere she had gone far,
"Mademoiselle de La Vauvraye," said he, "you overstate the matter."
His tone was chilling almost; and she felt as she had been rebuked.
"I am no more than the emissary of Her Majesty - it is to her that
your thanks are due."
"Ah, but, monsieur," she returned to the assault, "I owe some thanks
to you as well. What other in your place would have done what you
"I know not that, nor do I greatly care," said he, and laughed, but
with a laugh that jarred on her. "That which I did I must have
done, no matter whom it was a question of saving. I am but an
instrument in this matter, mademoiselle."
His thought was to do no more than belittle the service he had
rendered her, to stem her flow of gratitude, since, indeed, he felt,
as he said, that it was to the Queen-Regent her thanks were due.
All unwitting was it - out of his ignorance of the ways of thought
of a sex with which he held the view that it is an ill thing to
meddle - that he wounded her by his disclaimer, in which her
sensitive maiden fancy imagined a something that was almost
They rode in silence for a little spell, broken at last by Garnache
in expression of the thoughts that had come to him as a consequence
of what she had said.
"On this same subject of thanks," said he - and as she raised her
eyes again she found him smiling almost tenderly - "if any are due
between us they are surely due from me to you."
"From you to me?" she asked in wonder.
"Assuredly," said he. "Had you not come between me and the Dowager's
assassins there had been an end to me in the hall of Condillac."
Her hazel eyes were very round for a moment, then they narrowed, and
little humorous lines formed at the corners of her lips.
"Monsieur de Garnache," said she, with a mock coldness that was a
faint echo of his own recent manner, "you overstate the case. That
which I did I must have done, no matter whom it was a question of
saving. I was but an instrument in this matter, monsieur."
His brows went up. He stared at her a moment, gathering instruction
from the shy mockery of her glance. Then he laughed with genuine
"True," he said. "An instrument you were; but an instrument of
Heaven, whereas in me you but behold the instrument of an earthly
power. We are not quite quits, you see."
But she felt, at least, that she was quits with him in the matter
of his repudiation of her own thanks, and the feeling bridged the
unfriendly gap that she had felt was opening out between them; and
for no reason in the world that she could think of, she was glad
that this was so.
MONSIEUR DE GARNACHE KEEPS HIS TEMPER
Night had fallen and it had begun to rain when Garnache and Valerie
reached Grenoble. They entered the town afoot, the Parisian not
desiring to attract attention by being seen in the streets with a
lady on the withers of his horse.
With thought for her comfort, Monsieur de Garnache had divested
himself of his heavy horseman's cloak and insisted upon her assuming
it, so setting it about her that her head was covered as by a wimple.
Thus was she protected not only from the rain, but from the gaze of
They made their way in the drizzle, through the greasy, slippery
streets ashine with the lights that fell from door and window,
Rabecque following closely with the horses. Garnache made straight
for his inn - the Auberge du Veau qui Tete - which enjoyed the
advantage of facing the Palais Seneschal.
The ostler took charge of the nags, and the landlord conducted them
to a room above-stairs, which he placed at mademoiselle's disposal.
That done, Garnache left Rabecque on guard, and proceeded to make
the necessary arrangements for the journey that lay before them. He
began by what he conceived to be the more urgent measure, and
stepping across to the Palais Seneschal, he demanded to see Monsieur
de Tressan at once.
Ushered into the Lord Seneschal's presence, he startled that obese
gentleman by the announcement that he had returned from Condillac
with Mademoiselle de La Vauvraye, and that he would require an
escort to accompany them to Paris.
"For I am by no means minded to be exposed to such measures as the
tigress of Condillac and her cub may take to recover their victim,"
he explained with a grim smile.
The Seneschal combed his beard and screwed up his pale eyes until
they vanished in the cushions of his cheeks. He was lost in
amazement. He could only imagine that the Queen's emissary had been
duped more successfully this time.
"I am to gather, then," said he, dissembling what was passing
through his mind, "that you delivered the lady by force or strategy."
"By both, monsieur," was the short answer.
Tressan continued to comb his beard, and pondered the situation.
If things were so, indeed, they could not have fallen out more to
his taste. He had had no hand in it, one way or the other. He had
run with the hare and hunted with the hounds, and neither party
could charge him with any lack of loyalty. His admiration and
respect for Monsieur de Garnache grew enormously. When the rash
Parisian had left him that afternoon for the purpose of carrying his
message himself to Condillac, Tressan had entertained little hope
of ever again seeing him alive. Yet there he stood, as calm and
composed as ever, announcing that singlehanded he had carried out
what another might well have hesitated to attempt with a regiment
at his heels.
Tressan's curiosity urged him to beg for the details of this marvel,
and Garnache entertained him with a brief recital of what had taken
place, whereat, realizing that Garnache had indeed outwitted them,
the Seneschal's wonder increased.
"But we are not out of the quagmire yet," cried Garnache; "and that
is why I want an escort."
Tressan became uneasy. "How many men shall you require?" he asked,
thinking that the Parisian would demand at least the half of a
"A half-dozen and a sergeant to command them."
Tressan's uneasiness was dissipated, and he found himself despising
Garnache more for his rashness in being content with so small a
number than he respected him for the boldness and courage he had so
lately displayed. It was not for him to suggest that the force
might prove insufficient; rather was it for him to be thankful that
Garnache had not asked for more. An escort Tressan dared not refuse
him, and yet refuse it him he must have done - or broken with the
Condillacs - had he asked for a greater number. But six men! Pooh!
they would be of little account. So he very readily consented,
inquiring how soon Garnache would require them.
"At once," was the Parisian's answer. "I leave Grenoble to-night.
I hope to set out in an hour's time. Meanwhile I'll have the
troopers form a guard of honour. I am lodged over the way."
Tressan, but too glad to be quit of him, rose there and then to give
the necessary orders, and within ten minutes Garnache was back at
the Sucking Calf with six troopers and a sergeant, who had left their
horses in the Seneschal's stables until the time for setting out.
Meanwhile Garnache placed them on duty in the common-room of the inn.
He called for refreshment for them, and bade them remain there at
the orders of his man Rabecque. His reason for this step was that
it became necessary that he should absent himself for a while to
find a carriage suitable for the journey; for as the Sucking Calf
was not a post-house he must seek one elsewhere - at the Auberge
de France, in fact, which was situate on the eastern side of the
town by the Porte de Savoie - and he was not minded to leave the
person of Valerie unguarded during his absence. The half-dozen
troopers he considered ample, as indeed they were.
On this errand he departed, wrapped tightly in his cloak, walking
briskly through the now heavier rain.
But at the Auberge de France a disappointment awaited him. The
host had no horses and no carriage, nor would he have until the
following morning. He was sorrow-stricken that the circumstance
should discompose Monsieur de Garnache; he was elaborate in his
explanations of how it happened that he could place no vehicle at
Monsieur de Garnache's disposal - so elaborate that it is
surprising Monsieur de Garnache's suspicions should not have been
aroused. For the truth of the matter was that the folk of
Condillac had been at the Auberge de France before him - as they
had been elsewhere in the town wherever a conveyance might be
procurable - and by promises of reward for obedience and threats
of punishment for disobedience, they had contrived that Garnache
should hear this same story on every hand. His mistake had lain
in his eagerness to obtain a guard from the Seneschal. Had he
begun by making sure of a conveyance, anticipating, as he should
have done, this move on the part of the Condillacs - a move which
he did not even now suspect - it is possible that he might have
been spared much of the trouble that was to follow.
An hour or so later, after having vainly ransacked the town for
the thing he needed, he returned wet and annoyed to the Veau qui
Tote. In a corner of the spacious common-room - a corner by the
door leading to the interior of the inn --- he saw the six troopers
at table, waxing a trifle noisy over cards. Their sergeant sat a
little apart, in conversation with the landlord's wife, eyes
upturned adoringly, oblivious of the increasing scowl that gathered
about her watchful husband's brow.
At another table sat four gentlemen - seemingly travellers, by their
air and garb - in a conversation that was hushed at Garnache's
entrance. But he paid no heed to them as he stalked with ringing
step across the rushstrewn floor, nor observed how covertly and
watchfully their glances followed him as returning, in passing the
sergeant's prompt salute he vanished through the doorway leading
to the stairs.
He reappeared again a moment later, to call the host, and give him
orders for the preparing of his own and Rabecque's supper.
On the landing above he found Rabecque awaiting him.
"Is all well?" he asked, and received from his lackey a reassuring
Mademoiselle welcomed him gladly. His long absence, it appeared,
had been giving her concern. He told her on what errand he had
been, and alarm overspread her face upon hearing its result.
"But, monsieur," she cried, "you are not proposing that I should
remain a night in Grenoble."
"What alternative have we?" he asked, and his brows met, impatient
at what he accounted no more than feminine whimsey.
"It is not safe," she exclaimed, her fears increasing. "You do
not know how powerful are the Condillacs."
He strode to the fire, and the logs hissed under the pressure of
his wet boot. He set his back to the blaze, and smiled down upon
"Nor do you know how powerful are we," he answered easily. "I
have below six troopers and a sergeant of the Seneschal's regiment;
with myself and Rabecque we are nine men in all. That should be a
sufficient guard, mademoiselle. Nor do I think that with all their
power the Condillacs will venture here to claim you at the
"And yet," she answered, for all that she was plainly reassured,
at least in part, "I would rather you had got me a horse, that we
might have ridden to Saint Marcellin, where no doubt a carriage
might be obtained."
"I did not see the need to put you to so much discomfort," he
returned. "It is raining heavily."
"Oh, what of that?" she flung back impatiently.
"Besides," he added, "it seems there are no horses at the post-house.
A benighted place this Dauphiny of yours, mademoiselle."
But she never heeded the gibe at her native province. "No horses?"
she echoed, and her hazel eyes looked up sharply, the alarm returning
to her face. She rose, and approached him. "Surely that is impossible."
"I assure you that it is as I say - neither at the post-house nor at
any of the inns I visited could I find me a spare horse."
"Monsieur," she cried, "I see the hand of Condillac in this."
"As how?" he inquired, and his tone again was quickened by impatience.
"They have anticipated you. They seek to keep you here - to keep us
"But to what end?" he asked, his impatience growing. "The Auberge
de France has promised me a carriage in the morning. What shall it
avail them at Condillac to keep us here to-night?"
"They may have some project. Oh, monsieur! I am full of fears."
"Dismiss them," he answered lightly; and to reassure her he added,
smiling: "Rest assured we shall keep good watch over you, Rabecque
and I and the troopers. A guard shall remain in the passage
throughout the night. Rabecque and I will take turn about at
sentry-go. Will that give you peace?"
"You are very good," she said, her voice quivering with feeling
and real gratitude, and as he was departing she called after him.
"You will be careful of yourself," she said.
He paused under the lintel, and turned, surprised. "It is a habit
of mine," said he, with a glint of humour in his eye.
But there was no answering smile from her. Her face was all anxiety.
"Beware of pitfalls," she bade him. "Go warily; they are cruelly
cunning, those folk of Condillac. And if evil should befall you. . ."
"There would still remain Rabecque and the troopers," he concluded.
She shrugged her shoulders. "I implore you to be careful," she
"You may depend upon me," he said, and closed the door.
Outside he called Rabecque, and together they went below. But
mindful of her fears, he dispatched one of the troopers to stand
sentry outside her door whilst he and his lackey supped. That done,
he called the host, and set himself at table, Rabecque at his elbow
in attendance to hand him the dishes and pour his wine.
Across the low-ceilinged room the four travellers still sat in talk,
and as Garnache seated himself, one of them shouted for the host and
asked in an impatient tone to know if his supper was soon to come.
"In a moment, sir," answered the landlord respectfully, and he
turned again to the Parisian. He went out to bring the latter's
meal, and whilst he was gone Rabecque heard from his master the
reason of their remaining that night in Grenoble. The inference
drawn by the astute lackey - and freely expressed by him - from
the lack of horses or carriages in Grenoble that night, coincided
oddly with Valerie's. He too gave it as his opinion that his master
had been forestalled by the Dowager's people, and without presuming
to advise Garnache to go warily - a piece of advice that Garnache
would have resented, to the extent perhaps of boxing the fellow's
ears - he determined, there and then, to keep a close watch upon
his master, and under no circumstances, if possible, permit him to
leave the Sucking Calf that night.
The host returned, bearing a platter on which there steamed a ragout
that gave out an appetizing odour; his wife followed with other
dishes and a bottle of Armagnac under her arm. Rabecque busied
himself at once, and his hungry master disposed himself to satisfy
the healthiest appetite in France, when suddenly a shadow fell
across the table. A man had come to stand beside it, his body
screening the light of one of the lamps that hung from a rafter of
"At last!" he exclaimed, and his voice was harsh with ill-humour.
Garnache looked up, pausing in the very act of helping himself to
that ragout. Rabecque looked up from behind his master, and his
lips tightened. The host looked up from the act of drawing the cork
of the flagon he had taken from his wife, and his eyes grew big as
in his mind he prepared a judicious blend of apology and remonstrance
wherewith to soothe this very impatient gentleman. But before he
could speak, Garnache's voice cut sharply into the silence. An
interruption at such a moment vexed him sorely.
"Monsieur says?" quoth he.
"To you, sir - nothing," answered the fellow impudently, and looked
him straight between the eyes.
With a flush mounting to his cheeks, and his brows drawn together
in perplexity, Garnache surveyed him. He was that same traveller
who had lately clamoured to know when he might sup, a man of rather
more than middle height, lithe and active of frame, yet with a
breadth of shoulder and depth of chest that argued strength and
endurance as well. He had fair, wavy hair, which he wore rather
longer than was the mode, brown eyes, and a face which, without
being handsome, was yet more than ordinarily engaging by virtue of
its strength and frank ingenuousness. His dress was his worst
feature. It was flamboyant and showy; cheap, and tawdrily
pretentious. Yet he bore himself with the easy dignity of a man
who counts more inferiors than superiors.
Despite the arrogant manner of his address, Garnache felt
prepossessed in the newcomer's favour. But before he could answer
him, the host was speaking.
"Monsieur mistakes. . ." he began.
"Mistakes?" thundered the other in an accent slightly foreign. "It
is you who mistake if you propose to tell me that this is not my
supper. Am I to wait all night, while every jackanapes who follows
me into your pigsty is to be served before me?"
"Jackanapes?" said Garnache thoughtfully, and looked the man in the
face again. Behind the stranger pressed his three companions now,
whilst the troopers across the room forgot their card-play to watch
the altercation that seemed to impend.
The foreigner - for such, indeed, his French proclaimed him - turned
half-contemptuously to the host, ignoring Garnache with an air that
was studiously offensive.
"Jackanapes?" murmured Garnache again, and he, too, turned to the
host. "Tell me, Monsieur l'Hote," said he, "where do the jackanapes
bury their dead in Grenoble? I may need the information."
Before the distressed landlord could utter a word, the stranger had
wheeled about again to face Garnache. "What shall that mean?" he
asked sharply, a great fierceness in his glance.
"That Grenoble may be witnessing the funeral of a foreign bully by
to-morrow, Monsieur l'Etranger," said Garnache, showing his teeth
in a pleasant smile. He became conscious in that moment of a
pressure on his shoulder blade, but paid no heed to it, intent on
watching the other's countenance. It expressed surprise a moment,
then grew dark with anger.
"Do you mean that for me, sir?" he growled.
Garnache spread his hands. "If monsieur feels that the cap fits
him, I shall not stay him in the act of donning it."
The stranger set one hand upon the table, and leaned forward towards
Garnache. "May I ask monsieur to be a little more definite?" he
Garnache sat back in his chair and surveyed the man, smiling. Quick
though his temper usually might be, it was checked at present by
amusement. He had seen in his time many quarrels spring from the
flimsiest of motives, but surely never had he seen one quite so
self-begotten. It was almost as if the fellow had come there of set
purpose to pick it with him.
A suspicion flashed across his mind. He remembered the warning
mademoiselle had given him. And he wondered. Was this a trick to
lure him to some guet-apens? He surveyed his man more closely; but
the inspection lent no colour to his suspicions. The stranger
looked so frank and honest; then again his accent was foreign. It
might very well be that he was some Savoyard lordling unused to being
kept waiting, and that his hunger made him irritable and impatient.
If that were so, assuredly the fellow deserved a lesson that should
show him he was now in France, where different manners obtained to
those that he displayed; yet, lest he should be something else,
Garnache determined to pursue a policy of conciliation. It would
be a madness to embroil himself just then, whether this fellow were
of Condillac or not.
"I have asked you, monsieur," the stranger insisted, "to be a little
Garnache's smile broadened and grew more friendly. "Frankly," said
he, "I experience difficulty. My remark was vague. I meant it so
"But it offended me, monsieur," the other answered sharply.
The Parisian raised his eyebrows, and pursed his lips. "Then I
deplore it," said he. And now he had to endure the hardest trial of
all. The stranger's expression changed to one of wondering scorn.
"Do I understand that monsieur apologizes?"
Garnache felt himself crimsoning; his self-control was slipping from
him; the pressure against his shoulder blade was renewed, and in
time he became aware of it and knew it for a warning from Rabecque.
"I cannot conceive, sir, that I have offended," said he at length,
keeping a tight hand upon his every instinct - which was to knock
this impertinent stranger down. "But if I have, I beg that you will
believe that I have done so unwittingly. I had no such intent."
The stranger removed his hand from the table and drew himself erect.
"So much for that, then," said he, provokingly contemptuous. "If
you will be as amiable in the matter of the supper I shall be glad
to terminate an acquaintance which I can see no honour to myself in
This, Garnache felt, was more than he could endure. A spasm of
passion crossed his face, another instant and despite Rabecque's
frantic proddings he might have flung the ragout in the gentleman's
face; when suddenly came the landlord unexpectedly to the rescue.
"Monsieur, here comes your supper now," he announced, as his wife
reentered from the kitchen with a laden tray.
For a moment the stranger seemed out of countenance. Then he looked
with cold insolence from the dishes set before Garnache to those
which were being set for himself.
"Ah," said he, and his tone was an insult unsurpassable, "perhaps it
is to be preferred. This ragout grows cold, I think."
He sniffed, and turning on his heel, without word or sign of
salutation to Garnache, he passed to the next table, and sat down
with his companions. The Parisian's eyes followed him, and they
blazed with suppressed wrath. Never in all his life had he exercised
such self-control as he was exercising then - which was the reason
why he had failed to achieve greatness - and he was exercising it
for the sake of that child above-stairs, and because he kept
ever-present in his mind the thought that she must come to grievous
harm if ill befell himself. But he controlled his passion at the
cost of his appetite. He could not eat, so enraged was he. And so
he pushed the platter from him, and rose.
He turned to Rabecque, and the sight of his face sent the lackey
back a pace or two in very fear. He waved his hand to the table.
"Sup, Rabecque," said he. "Then come to me above."
And followed, as before, by the eyes of the stranger and his
companions, Garnache strode out of the room, and mounting the stairs
went to find solace in talk with Valerie. But however impossible
he might find it to digest the affront he had swallowed, no word of
the matter did he utter to the girl, lest it should cause her fears
THE OPENING OF THE TRAP
Garnache spent a sleepless night at Grenoble, on guard throughout
the greater part of it since nothing short of that would appease
the fears of Valerie. Yet it passed without any bellicose
manifestation on the part of the Condillacs such as Valerie feared
and such as Garnache was satisfied would not - could not, indeed -
Betimes next morning he dispatched Rabecque to the Auberge de
France for the promised carriage, and broke his fast in the
common-room what time he awaited his man's return. The chamber
was again occupied by the stranger of yesternight, who sat apart,
however, and seemed no longer disposed to interfere with the
Parisian. Garnache wondered idly, might this be due to the
circumstance that that same stranger was supported now by one
single companion, and was therefore less valorous than when he had
been in the company of three.
At another table were two gentlemen, sprung he knew not whence,
quiet in dress and orderly in manner, to whom he paid little heed
until one of them a slender, swarthy, hawk-faced fellow - looking
up suddenly, started slightly at sight of the Parisian and addressed
him instantly by name. Garnache paused in the act of rising from
table, half-turned, and sharply scrutinized the swarthy gentleman,
but failed to recognize him. He advanced towards him.
"I have the honour to be known to you, monsieur?" he half-stated,
"Parbleu, Monsieur de Garnache!" exclaimed the other with a ready
smile, the more winning since it lighted up a face that at rest was
very sombre. "Lives there a Parisian to whom you are not known? I
have seen you often at the Hotel de Bourgogne."
Garnache acknowledged the courtesy by a slight inclination of the
"And once," continued the other, "I had the honour to be presented
to you by Monsieur le Duc himself. My name is Gaubert - Fabre
Gaubert." And as he introduced himself he rose out of respect for
Garnache, who had remained standing. Garnache knew him not at all,
yet never doubted that his tale was true; the fellow had a very
courtly, winning air; moreover, Garnache was beginning to feel
lonely in the wilds of Dauphiny, so that it rejoiced him to come
into the company of one whom he might regard as something of a
fellow-creature. He held out his hand.
"I am honoured in that you should have borne me in your memory,
monsieur," said he. He was about to add that he would be overjoyed
if it should happen that Monsieur Gaubert was travelling to Paris,
since he might give himself the pleasure of his company on that
tedious journey; but he checked himself betimes. He had no reason
to suspect this gentleman; and yet, all things considered, he
bethought him suddenly that he would do well to observe the greatest
circumspection. So with a pleasant but meaningless civility touching
Monsieur Gaubert's presence in those parts, Garnache passed on and
gained the door. He paused in the porch, above which the rebus-like
sign of the Sucking Calf creaked and grated in each gust of the
chill wind that was blowing from the Alps. The rain had ceased, but
the sky was dark and heavy with great banks of scudding clouds. In
the street the men of his escort sat their horses, having mounted
at his bidding in readiness for the journey. A word or two he
exchanged with the sergeant, and then with a great rumble the clumsy
carriage from the Auberge de France heralded its approach. It rolled
up the street, a vast machine of wood and leather, drawn by three
horses, and drew up at the door of the inn. Out sprang Rabecque,
to be immediately sent by his master to summon mademoiselle. They
would set out upon the instant.
Rabecque turned to obey; but in that same moment he was thrust
rudely aside by a man with the air of a servant, who issued from
he inn carrying a valise; after him, following close upon his heels,
with head held high and eyes that looked straight before him and
took no heed of Garnache, came the foreigner of yesternight.
Rabecque, his shoulders touching the timbers of the porch, against
which he had been thrust, remained at gaze, following with
resentful eye the fellow who had so rudely used him. Garnache, on
the other side, watched with some wonder the advent of the
ingenuous-looking stranger, but as yet with no suspicion of his
Not until the servant had thrown open the door of the coach and
deposited within the valise he carried, did Garnache stir. Not,
indeed, until the foreigner's foot was on the step preparatory to
mounting did Garnache speak.
"Hi! monsieur," he called to him, "what is your pleasure with my
The stranger turned, and stared at Garnache with a look of wonder
that artfully changed to one of disdainful recognition.
"Ah?" said he, and his eyebrows went up. "The apologetic gentleman!
Garnache approached him, followed a step not only by Rabecque, but
also by Monsieur Gaubert, who had sauntered out a second earlier.
Behind them, in the porch, lounged now the foreigner's friend, and
behind him again was to be seen the great face and staring, somewhat
startled eyes of the landlord.
"I asked you, monsieur," said Garnache, already at grips with that
quick temper of his, "what might be your pleasure with my coach?"
"With your coach?" echoed the other, his superciliousness waxing
more and more offensive. "Voyons! on ! my apologetic friend, do
all things in Grenoble belong to you?" He turned to the post-boy,
who looked on stolidly. "You are from the Auberge de France, are
you not?" quoth he.
"I am, monsieur," replied the man. "This carriage was ordered last
night by a gentleman lodging at the Veau qui Tete?"
"Perfectly," replied the stranger, in a tone of finality. "It was
ordered by me." And he was about to turn away, when Garnache
approached him by yet another step.
"I will ask you to observe, monsieur," said he and for all that his
tone and words were civil, that they were forcedly so was obvious
from their quiver - "I will ask you to observe that the carriage
was fetched by my own man there, who rode hither in it."
The stranger looked him up and down with a curling lip.
"It seems, sir," said he, with a broad sneer, "that you are one of
those impertinent fellows who will be for ever thrusting themselves
upon gentlemen with an eye to such profit as they can make." He
produced a purse and opened it. "Last night it was my supper you
usurped. I suffered that. Now you would do the same by my coach,
and that I shall not suffer. But there is for your pains, and to
be quit of your company." And he tossed a silver coin at the
There was an exclamation of horror in the background, and Monsieur
de Gaubert thrust himself forward.
"Sir, sir," he exclaimed in an agitated voice, "you cannot know
whom you are addressing. This is Monsieur Martin Marie Rigobert
de Garnache, Mestre-de-Champ in the army of the King."
"Of all those names the one I should opine might fit him best, but
for his ugliness, is that of Marie," answered the foreigner,
leering, and with a contemptuous shrug he turned again to mount
At that all Garnache's self-control deserted him, and he did a
thing deplorable. In one of his blind accesses of fury, heedless
of the faithful and watchful Rabecque's arresting tug at his
sleeve, he stepped forward, and brought a heavy hand down upon the
supercilious gentleman's shoulder. He took him in the instant in
which, with one foot off the ground and the other on the step of
the carriage, the foreigner was easily thrown' off his balance; he
dragged him violently backward, span him round and dropped him
floundering in the mire of the street-kennel.
That done, there fell a pause - a hush that was ominous of things
impending. A little crowd of idlers that had gathered was quickly
augmenting now, and from some there came a cry of "Shame!" at
Garnache's act of violence.
This is no moment at which to pause to moralize. And yet, how
often is it not so? How often does not public sympathy go out to
the man who has been assaulted without thought of the extent to
which that man may have provoked and goaded his assailant.
That cry of "Shame!" did no more than increase the anger that was
mastering Garnache. His mission in Grenoble was forgotten;
mademoiselle above-stairs was forgotten; the need for caution and
the fear of the Condillacs were forgotten; everything was thrust
from his mind but the situation of the moment.
Amid the hush that followed, the stranger picked himself slowly
up, and sought to wipe the filth from his face and garments. His
servant and his friend flew to his aid, but he waved them aside,
and advanced towards Garnache, eyes blazing, lips sneering.
"Perhaps," said he, in that soft, foreign tone of his, laden now
with fierce mock-politeness, "perhaps monsieur proposes to
"Sir, you are mad," interposed Gaubert. "You are a foreigner, I
perceive, else you would - "
But Garnache thrust him quietly aside. "You are very kind, Monsieur
Gaubert," said he, and his manner now was one of frozen calm - a
manner that betrayed none of the frenzy of seething passion
underneath. "I think, sir," said he to the stranger, adopting
something of that gentleman's sardonic manner, "that it will be a
more peaceful world without you. It is that consideration restrains
me from apologizing. And yet, if monsieur will express regret for
having sought, and with such lack of manners, to appropriate my
carriage - "
"Enough!" broke in the other. "We are wasting time, and I have a
long journey before me. Courthon," said he, addressing his friend,
"will you bring me the length of this gentleman's sword? My name,
sir," he added to Garnache, "is Sanguinetti."
"Faith," said Garnache, "it sorts well with your bloody spirit."
"And will sort well, no doubt, with his condition presently," put
in hawk-faced Gaubert. "Monsieur de Garnache, if you have no friend
at hand to act for you, I shall esteem myself honoured." And he
"Why, thanks, sir. You are most opportunely met. You should be
a gentleman since you frequent the Hotel de Bourgogne. My thanks."
Gaubert went aside to confer with Monsieur Courthon. Sanguinetti
stood apart, his manner haughty and impressive, his eye roaming
scornfully through the ranks of what had by now become a crowd.
Windows were opening in the street, and heads appearing, and across
the way Garnache might have beheld the flabby face of Monsieur de
Tressan among the spectators of that little scene.
Rabecque drew near his master.
"Have a care, monsieur," he implored him. "If this should be a
Garnache started. The remark sobered him, and brought to his mind
his own suspicions of yesternight, which his present anger had for
the moment lulled. Still, he conceived that he had gone too far
to extricate himself. But he could at least see to it that he was
not drawn away from the place that sheltered mademoiselle. And so
he stepped forward, joining Courthon and Gaubert, to insist that
the combat should take place in the inn - either in the common room
or in the yard. But the landlord, overhearing this, protested
loudly that he could not consent to it. He had his house to think
of. He swore that they should not fight on his premises, and
implored them in the same breath not to attempt it.
At that Garnache, now thoroughly on his guard! was for putting off
"Monsieur Courthon," said he - and he felt a flush of shame mounting
to his brow, and realized that it may need more courage to avoid an
encounter than to engage in one - "there is something that in the
heat of passion I forgot; something that renders it difficult for
me to meet your friend at present."
Courthon looked at him as he might look at an impertinent lackey.
"And what may that be?" he inquired, mightily contemptuous. There
was a snigger from some in the crowd that pressed about them, and
even Monsieur Gaubert looked askance.
"Surely, sir," he began, "if I did not know you for Monsieur de
Garnache - "
But Garnache did not let him finish.
"Give me air," he cried, and cuffed out to right and left of him
at the grinning spectators, who fell back and grinned less broadly.
"My reason, Monsieur de Courthon," said he, "is that I do not
belong to my self at present. I am in Grenoble on business of the
State, as the emissary of the Queen-Regent, and so it would hardly
become me to engage in private quarrels."
Courthon raised his brows.
"You should have thought of that before you rolled Monsieur
Sanguinetti in the mud," he answered coldly.
"I will tender him my apologies for that," Garnache promised,
swallowing hard, "and if he still insists upon a meeting he shall
have it in, say, a month's time."
"I cannot permit - " began Courthon, very fiercely.
"You will be so good as to inform your friend of what I have said,"
Garnache insisted, interrupting him.
Cowed, Courthon shrugged and went apart to confer with his friend.
"Ah!" came Sanguinetti's soft voice, yet loud enough to be heard
by all present. "He shall have a caning then for his impertinence."
And he called loudly to the post-boy for his whip. But at that
insult Garnache's brain seemed to take fire, and his cautious
resolutions were reduced to ashes by the conflagration. He stepped
forward, and, virulent of tone and terrific of mien, he announced
that since Monsieur Sanguinetti took that tone with him, he would
cut his throat for him at once and wherever they should please.
At last it was arranged that they should proceed there and then to
the Champs aux Capuchins, a half-mile away behind the Franciscan
Accordingly they set out, Sanguinetti and Courthon going first, and
Garnache following with Gaubert; the rear being brought up by a
regiment of rabble, idlers and citizens, that must have represented
a very considerable proportion of the population of Grenoble. This
audience heartened Garnache, to whom some measure of reflection had
again returned. Before such numbers it was unthinkable that these
gentlemen - assuming them to be acting on behalf of Condillac -
should dare to attempt foul measures with him. For the rest he had
taken the precaution of leaving Rabecque at the Sucking Calf, and he
had given the sergeant strict injunctions that he was not to allow
any of his men to leave their posts during his absence, and that the
troopers were to hold themselves entirely at the orders of Rabecque.
Comparatively easy therefore in his mind, and but little exercised
by any thought of the coming encounter, Garnache walked briskly
They came at last to the Champs aux Capuchins -a pleasant stretch
of verdure covering perhaps half an acre and set about by a belt of
The crowd disposed itself on the fringe of the sward, and the
duellists went forward, and set about the preparations. Principals
and seconds threw off cloak and doublet, and Sanguinetti, Courthon,
and Gaubert removed their heavy boots, whilst Garnache did no more
than detach the spurs from his.
Sanguinetti, observing this, drew the attention of the others to it,
and an altercation arose. It was Gaubert who came to beg Garnache
that he should follow the example they had set him in that respect.
But Garnache shook his head.
"The turf is sodden."
"But it is precisely on that account, sir," protested Gaubert very
earnestly. "In your boots you will be unable to stand firm; you
will run the risk of slipping every time that you break ground."
"I venture to think, sir, that that is my affair," said Garnache
"But it is not," the other cried. "If you fight in your boots, we
must all do the same, and for myself - well, I have not come here
to commit suicide."
"Look you, Monsieur Gaubert," said Garnache quietly, "your opponent
will be Monsieur Courthon, and since he is in his stockinged feet,
there is no reason why you yourself should not remain so too. As
for me, I retain my boots, and Monsieur Sanguinetti may have all
the advantage that may give him. Since I am content, in Heaven's
name let the fight go forward. I am in haste."
Gaubert bowed in submission; but Sanguinetti, who had overheard,
turned with an oath.
"By God, no!" said he. "I need no such advantage, sir. Courthon,
be so good as to help me on with my boots again." And there was
a fresh delay whilst he resumed them.
At last, however, the four men came together, and proceeded to the
measurement of swords. It was found that Sanguinetti's was two
inches longer than any of the other three.
"It is the usual length in Italy," said Sanguinetti with a shrug.
"If monsieur had realized that he was no longer in Italy, we might
perhaps have been spared this very foolish business," answered
"But what are we to do?" cried the perplexed Gaubert.
"Fight," said Garnache impatiently. "Is there never to be an end
to these preliminaries?"
"But I cannot permit you to oppose yourself to a sword two inches
longer than your own," cried Gaubert, almost in a temper.
"Why not, if I am satisfied?" asked Garnache. "Mine is the longer
reach; thus matters will stand equal."
"Equal?" roared Gaubert. "Your longer reach is an advantage that
you had from God, his longer sword is one he had from an armourer.
Is that equality?"
"He may have my sword, and I'll take his," cut in the Italian,
also showing impatience. "I too am in haste."
"In haste to die, then," snapped Gaubert.
"Monsieur, this is not seemly," Courthon reproved him.
"You shall teach me manners when we engage," snapped the hawk-faced
"Sirs, sirs," Garnache implored them, "are we to waste the day in
words? Monsieur Gaubert, there are several gentlemen yonder wearing
swords; I make no doubt that you will find one whose blade is of the
same length as your own, sufficiently obliging to lend it to Monsieur
"That is an office that my friend can do for me," interposed
Sanguinetti, and thereupon Courthon departed, to return presently
with a borrowed weapon of the proper length.
At last it seemed that they might proceed with the business upon
which they were come; but Garnache was wrong in so supposing. A
discussion now arose between Gaubert and Courthon as to the choice
of spot. The turf was drenched and slippery, and for all that they
moved from place to place testing the ground, their principals
following, nowhere could they find the conditions sufficiently
improved to decide upon engaging. To Garnache the utility of this
was apparent from the first. If these gentlemen had thought to
avoid slippery ground, they should have elected to appoint the
meeting elsewhere. But having chosen the. Champs aux Capuchins,
it was idle to expect that one stretch of turf would prove firmer
Wearied at last by this delay, he gave expression to his thoughts.
"You are quite right, monsieur," said Courthon. "But your second
is over-fastidious. It would simplify matters so much if you would
remove your boots."
"Look you, sirs," said Garnache, taking a firm stand, "I will engage
in my boots and on this very spot or not at all. I have told you
that I am in haste. As for the slipperiness of the ground, my
opponent will run no greater risks than I. I am not the only
impatient one. The spectators are beginning to jeer at us. We shall
have every scullion in Grenoble presently saying that we are afraid
of one another. Besides which, sirs, I think I am taking cold."
"I am quite of monsieur's mind, myself," drawled Sanguinetti.
"You hear, sir," exclaimed Courthon, turning to Gaubert. "You can
scarce persist in finding objections now."
"Why, since all are satisfied, so be it," said Gaubert, with a
shrug. "I sought to do the best for my principal. As it is, I
wash my hands of all responsibility, and by all means let us engage,
They disposed themselves accordingly, Gaubert engaging Courthon,
on Garnache's right hand, and Garnache himself falling on guard to
receive the attack of Sanguinetti. The jeers and murmurs that had
been rising from the ever-growing crowd that swarmed about the
outskirts of the place fell silent as the clatter of meeting swords
rang out at last. And then, scarce were they engaged when a voice
arose, calling angrily:
"Hold, Sanguinetti! Wait!"
A big, broad-shouldered man, in a suit of homespun and a featherless
hat, thrust his way rudely trough the crowd and broke into the space
within the belt of trees. The combatants had fallen apart at this
commanding cry, and the newcomer now dashed forward, flushed and out
of breath as if with running.
"Vertudieu! Sanguinetti," he swore, and his manner was half-angry,
half-bantering; "do you call this friendship?"
"My dear Francois" returned the foreigner, "you arrive most
"And is that all the greeting you have for me?"
Looking more closely, Garnache thought that he recognized in him
one of Sanguinetti's companions of yesternight.
"But do you not see that I am engaged?"
"Ay; and that is my grievance that you should be engaged upon such
an affair, and that I should have no share in it. It is to treat
me like a lackey, and have the right to feel offended. Enfin! It
seems I an not come too late."
Garnache cut in. He saw the drift of the fellow's intentions, and
he was not minded to submit to fresh delays; already more than half
an hour was sped since he had left the Sucking Calf. He put it
plainly to them that more than enough delay had there been already
and he begged the newcomer to stand aside and allow them to terminate
the business on which they were met. But Monsieur Francois - as
Sanguinetti had called him - would not hear of it. He proved,
indeed, a very testy fellow, and he had, moreover, the support of
the others, including even Monsieur Gaubert.
"Let me implore you not to spoil sport, sir," the latter begged
Garnache. "I have a friend at the inn who would never forgive me
if I permitted him to miss such a morning's diversion as this
gentleman is willing to afford him. Suffer me to go for him."
"Look you, sir," answered Garnache sharply, "however you may view
this meeting, it is not with me an affair of jest or sport. I am
in a quarrel that has been forced upon me, and - "
"Surely not, sir," Courthon interrupted sweetly. "You forget that
you rolled Monsieur Sanguinetti in the mud. That is hardly to have
a quarrel forced upon you."
Garnache bit his lip to the blood in his vexation.
"However the quarrel may have originated," said Francois, with a
great laugh, "I swear that it goes not forward until I am
"You had better accede, monsieur," murmured Gaubert. "I shall not
be gone five minutes, and it will save time in the end."
"Oh, very well," cried poor Garnache in his despair. "Anything to
save time; anything! In God's name fetch your friend, and I hope
you and he and every man here will get his fill of fighting for
Gaubert departed on his errand, and there were fresh murmurs in the
mob until the reason of his going was understood. Five minutes
sped; ten minutes, and yet he returned not. Grouped together were
Sanguinetti and his two friends, in easy, whispered talk. At a
little distance from them, Garnache paced up and down to keep
himself warm. He had thrown his cloak over his shoulders again, and
with sword tucked under arm and head thrust forward, he stamped
backwards and forwards, the very picture of ill-humour. Fifteen
minutes passed; twelve o'clock boomed from the Church of Saint
Francois d'Assisi and still Monsieur Gaubert returned not. Garnache
stood still a moment, in angry thought. This must not go on. There
must be an end, and at once. The tastes and inclinations of brawlers
were no concern of his. He had business of State - however unworthy
- to dispatch. He turned, intending to demand of Monsieur
Sanguinetti that they should engage at once and be done, when
suddenly a fellow roughly dressed, with dirty face and a shock head
of fair hair, pushed his way through the throng and advanced towards
Monsieur Sanguinetti and his friends. Garnache checked in his
movement to look at the fellow, for he recognized in him the ostler
of the Auberge de France: He spoke at that moment, and Garnache
overheard the words he uttered.
"Monsieur Sanguinetti," said he, addressing that gentleman, "my
master sends to inquire if you shall want the carriage you ordered
for to-day. It has been standing for an hour at the door of the
Auberge de France, awaiting you, and if you don't want it - "
"Standing where?" asked Sanguinetti harshly.
"At the door of the Auberge de France."
"Peste, fool!" cried the foreigner, "why is it there, when I bade
it be sent to the Sucking Calf?"
"I don't know, sir. I know no more than Monsieur l'Hote told me."
"Now, a plague on Monsieur l'Hote," swore Sanguinetti, and in that
moment his eye fell upon Garnache, standing there, attentive. At
sight of the Parisian he seemed lost in confusion. He dropped
his glance and appeared on the point of turning aside. Then to
the ostler: "I shall want the carriage, and I shall come for it
anon. Carry that message to your master." And with that he turned
and advanced to Garnache. His whilom arrogance was all fallen from
him; he wore instead an air of extreme contrition.
"Monsieur, what shall I say to you?" he asked in a voice that was
rather small. "It seems there has been an error. I am deeply
grieved, believe me - "
"Say no more, I beg," cried Garnache, immensely relieved that at
last there should be a conclusion to an affair which had threatened
to be interminable. "Let me but express my regrets for the
treatment you received at my hands."
"I accept your expressions, and I admire their generosity," returned
the other as courteous now as subservient, indeed, in his courtesy
- as he had been erstwhile fierce and intractable. "As for the
treatment I received, I confess that my mistake and my
opinionativeness deserved it me. I deplore to deprive these
gentlemen of the entertainment to which they were looking forward,
but unless you should prove of an excessive amiability I am afraid
they must suffer with me the consequences of my error."
Garnache assured him very briefly, and none too politely that he
did not intend to prove of any excessive amiability. He spoke
whilst struggling into his doublet. He felt that he could
cheerfully have caned the fellow for the inconvenience he had
caused him, and yet he realized that he had other more pressing
matters to attend to. He sheathed his sword, took up his cloak
and hat, made those gentlemen the compliments that became the
occasion, in terms a trifle more brief, perhaps, than were usual,
and, still wondering why Monsieur de Gaubert had not yet returned,
he stalked briskly away. Followed by the booings of the
disappointed crowd, he set out for the Sucking Calf at a sharp
pace, taking the shorter way behind the Church and across the
graveyard of Saint Francois.
THE CLOSING OF THE TRAP
Upon leaving the Champs aux Capuchins, hawk-faced Monsieur Gaubert
had run every foot of the way to the Sucking Calf, and he had
arrived there within some five minutes, out of breath and wearing
every appearance of distress - of a distress rather greater than
his haste to find his friend should warrant.
At the door of the inn he found the carriage still waiting; the
post-boy, however, was in the porch, leaning in talk with one of
the drawers. The troopers sat their horses in stolid patience,
keeping guard, and awaiting, as they had been bidden, the return
of Monsieur de Garnache. Rabecque, very watchful, lounged in the
doorway, betraying in his air none of the anxiety and impatience
with which he looked for his master.
At sight of Monsieur Gaubert, running so breathlessly, he started
forward, wondering and uneasy. Across the street, from the Palais
Seneschal, came at that same moment Monsieur de Tressan with
rolling gait. He reached the door of the inn together with Monsieur
Full of evil forebodings, Rabecque hailed the runner.
"What has happened?" he cried. "Where is Monsieur de Garnache?"
Gaubert came to a staggering halt; he groaned and wrung his hands.
"Killed!" he panted, rocking himself in a passion of distress. "He
has been butchered! Oh! it was horrible!" .
Rabecque gripped him by the shoulder, and steadied him with a hand
that hurt. "What do you say?" he gasped, his face white to the lips.
Tressan halted, too, and turned upon Gaubert, a look of incredulity
in his fat countenance. "Who has been killed?" he asked. "Not
Monsieur de Garnache?"
"Helas! yes," groaned the other. "It was a snare, a guet-apens to
which they led us. Four of them set upon us in the Champs aux
Capuchins. As long as he lived, I stood beside him. But seeing
him fallen, I come for help."
"My God!" sobbed Rabecque, and loosed his grasp of Monsieur
"Who did it?" inquired Tressan, and his voice rumbled fiercely.
"I know not who they were. The man who picked the quarrel with
Monsieur de Garnache called himself Sanguinetti. There is a riot
down there at present. There was a crowd to witness the combat,
and they have fallen to fighting among themselves. Would to Heaven
they had stirred in time to save that poor gentleman from being
"A riot, did you say?" cried Tressan, the official seeming to
awaken in him.
"Aye," answered the other indifferently; "they are cutting one
"But . . . But . . . Are you sure that he is dead, monsieur?"
inquired Rabecque; and his tone was one that implored contradiction.
Gaubert looked and paused, seeming to give the matter a second's
thought. "I saw him fall," said he. "It may be that he was no more
"And you left him there?" roared the servant. "You left him there?"
Gaubert shrugged his shoulders. "What could I do against four?
Besides, the crowd was interfering already, and it seemed best to
me to come for help. These soldiers, now - "
"Aye," cut in Tressan, and he turned about and called the sergeant.
"This becomes my affair." And he announced his quality to Monsieur
Gaubert. "I am the Lord Seneschal of Dauphiny."
"I am fortunate in finding you," returned Gaubert, and bowed. "I
could place the matter in no better hand."
But Tressan, without heeding him, was already ordering the sergeant
to ride hard with his troopers for the Champs aux Capuchins.
Rabecque, however, thrust himself suddenly forward.
"Not so, Monsieur le Seneschal," he interposed in fresh alarm, and
mindful of his charge. "These men are here to guard Mademoiselle
de La Vauvraye. Let them remain. I will go to Monsieur de Garnache."
The Seneschal stared at him with contemptuously pouting underlip.
"You will go?" said he. "And what can you do alone? Who are you?"
"I am Monsieur de Garnache's servant."
"A lackey? Ah!" And Tressan turned aside and resumed his orders
as if Rabecque did not exist or had never spoken. "To the Champs
aux Capuchins!" said he. "At the gallop, Pommier! I will send
others after you."
The sergeant rose in his stirrups and growled an order. The
troopers wheeled about; another order, and they were off, their
cantering hoofs thundering down the narrow street.
Rabecque clutched at the Lord Seneschal's arm.
"Stop them, monsieur!" he almost screamed in his excitement. "Stop
them! There is some snare, some trick in this."
"Stop them?" quoth the Seneschal. "Are you mad?" He shook off
Rabecque's detaining hand, and left him, to cross the street again
with ponderous and sluggish haste, no doubt to carry out his
purpose of sending more troopers to the scene of the disturbance.
Rabecque swore angrily and bitterly, and his vexation had two
entirely separate sources. On the one hand his anxiety and affection
for his master urged him to run at once to his assistance, whilst
Tressan's removal of the troopers rendered it impossible for him to
leave Mademoiselle de La Vauvraye unguarded - though what he should
do with her if Garnache came not back at all, he did not at this
stage pause to consider. On the other hand, an instinctive and
growing suspicion of this Monsieur Gaubert - who was now entering
the inn - inspired him with the opinion that the fat Seneschal had
been duped by a wild tale to send the troopers from the spot where
they might presently become very necessary.
Full of fears, anxiety, and mistrust, it was a very dispirited
Rabecque that now slowly followed Monsieur Gaubert into the inn.
But as he set his foot across the threshold of the common-room, a
sight met his eyes that brought him to a momentary standstill,
and turned to certainty all his rising suspicions. He found it
tenanted by a half-dozen fellows of very rude aspect, all armed
and bearing an odd resemblance in air and accoutrements to the
braves he had seen at Condillac the day before. As to how they
came there, he could only surmise that they had entered through
the stable-yard, as otherwise he must have observed their approach.
They were grouped now at the other end of the long, low chamber,
by the door leading to the interior of the inn. A few paces
distant the landlord watched them with uneasy eyes.
But what dismayed Garnache's servant most of all was to see the
man who called himself Gaubert standing in talk with a slender,
handsome youth, magnificently arrayed, in whom he recognized
Marius de Condillac.
Rabecque checked in his advance, and caught in that moment from
Marius the words: "Let her be told that it is Monsieur de Garnache
wishes her to descend."
At that Rabecque stepped towards them, very purposeful of mien.
Gaubert turned at his approach, and smiled. Marius looked up
quickly; then made a sign to the men. Instantly two of them went
out by the door they guarded, and ere it swung back again Rabecque
saw that they were making for the stairs. The remaining four
ranged themselves shoulder to shoulder across the doorway, plainly
with intent to bar the way. Gaubert, followed immediately by
Marius, stepped aside and approached the landlord with arms akimbo
and a truculent smile on his pale hawk face. What he and Marius
said, Rabecque could not make out, but he distinctly heard the
landlord's answer delivered with a respectful bow to Marius:
"Bien, Monsieur de Condillac. I would not interfere in your
concerns - not for the world. I will be blind and deaf."
Marius acknowledged the servile protestation by a sneer, and
Rabecque, stirring at last, went forward boldly towards the doorway
and its ugly, human barrier.
"By your leave, sirs," said he - and he made to thrust one of them
"You cannot pass this way, sir," he was answered, respectfully but
Rabecque stood still, clenching and unclenching his hands and
quivering with anger. It was in that moment that he most fervently
cursed Tressan and his stupid meddling. Had the troopers still
been there, they could have made short work of these tatter-demalions.
As it was, and with Monsieur de Garnache dead, or at least absent,
everything seemed at an end. He might have contended that, his
master being slain, it was no great matter what he did, for in the
end the Condillacs must surely have their way with Mademoiselle de
La Vauvraye. But he never paused to think of that just then. His
sense of trust was strong; his duty to his master plain. He stepped
back, and drew his sword.
"Let me pass!" he roared. But at the same instant there came the
soft slither of another weapon drawn, and Rabecque was forced to
turn to meet the onslaught of Monsieur Gaubert.
"You dirty traitor," cried the angry lackey, and that was all they
left him breath to say. Strong arms gripped him from behind. The
sword was wrenched from his hand. He was flung down heavily, and
pinned prone in a corner by one of those bullies who knelt on his
spine. And then the door opened again, and poor Rabecque groaned
in impotent anguish to behold Mademoiselle de La Vauvraye pause
white-faced and wide-eyed on, the threshold at sight of Monsieur
de Condillac bowing low before her.
She stood there a moment between the two ruffians who had been
sent to fetch her, and her eyes travelling round that room
discovered Rabecque in his undignified and half; strangled
"Where . . . Where is Monsieur de Garnache?" she faltered.
"He is where all those who cross the will of Condillac must sooner
or later find themselves," said Marius airily. "He is . . .
"Do you mean that he is dead?" she cried.
"I think it very probable by now," he smiled. "So you see,
mademoiselle, since the guardian the Queen appointed you has . . .
deserted you, you would do well to return to my mother's roof. Let
me assure you that we shall very gladly welcome your return. We
blame none but Garnache for your departure, and he has paid for
the brutality of his abduction of you."
She turned in despair from that mocking gentleman, and attempted
to make appeal to the landlord, as though he could help her who
could not help himself.
"Monsieur l'Hote - " she began, but Marius cut in sharply.
"Take her out that way," he said, and pointed back down the passage
by the stairs. "To the coach. Make haste."
She sought to resist them now; but they dragged her back, and there
was a rush of the others following through the doorway, the rear
being brought up by Gaubert.
"Follow presently," was his parting command to the man who still
knelt upon Rabecque, and with that he vanished too.
Their steps died away in the passage; a door banged in the distance.
There followed a silence, disturbed only by the sound of Rabecque's
laboured breathing; then came a stir outside the door of the inn;
some one shouted an order. There was a movement of hoofs, a creak
and crunch of wheels, and presently the rumble of a heavy carriage
being driven rapidly away. But too well did Rabecque surmise what
had taken place.
The ruffian released him at last, and, leaping to his feet, was gone
before Rabecque could rise. Once up, however, the lackey darted to
the door. In the distance he saw his late assailant running hard;
the coach had disappeared. He turned, and his smouldering eye fell
upon the landlord.
"O pig!" he apostrophized him, snarling at him to vent some of his
pent-up rage. "O cowardly pig."
"What would you?" expostulated the frightened taverner. "They had
cut my throat if I resisted them."
Rabecque poured abuse upon him, until for very lack of words he was
forced to cease, then, with a final bark of contempt, he went to
recover his sword, which had been flung into a corner of the room.
He was stooping in the act, when a quick step rang behind him on the
threshold, an angry voice harsh and metallic pronounced his name:
The sword clattered from Rabecque's hand suddenly gone nerveless -
nerveless with sheer joy, all else forgotten in the perception that
there, safe and sound, stood his beloved master.
"Monsieur!" he cried, and the tears welled up to the rough servant's
eyes. "Monsieur!" he cried again, and then with the tears streaming
down his cheeks, sallow and wrinkled as parchment, "Oh, thank God!"
he blubbered. "Thank God!"
"For what?" asked Garnache, coming forward, a scowl like a
thunder-cloud upon his brow. "Where is the coach, where the troopers?
Where is mademoiselle? Answer me!"
He caught Rabecque's wrist in a grip that threatened to snap it.
His face was livid, his eyes aflame.
"They - they -"stammered Rabecque. He had not the courage to tell
the thing that had happened. He feared Garnache would strike him
And then out of his terror he gathered an odd daring. He spoke to
Garnache as never he had dreamt to speak to him, and it may well be
that by his tone and by what he said he saved his life just then.
"You fool," he cried to him. "I told you to be on your guard. I
warned you to go warily. But you would not heed me. You know
better than Rabecque. You would have your way. You must go
a-brawling. And they duped you, they fooled you to the very top
of their bent, monsieur."
Garnache dropped the servant's hand and stood back a pace. That
counter-blast of passion and that plain speaking from a quarter so
unexpected served, in part at least, to sober him. He understood
the thing that had happened, the thing that already he suspected
must have happened; but he understood too that he alone was to blame
for it - he and his cursed temper.
"Who - who fooled me?" he stammered.
"Gaubert - the fellow that calls himself Gaubert. He and his
friends. They fooled you away. Then Gaubert returned with a tale
that you had been killed and that there was a disturbance in the
Champs aux Capuchins. Monsieur de Tressan was here, as ill-luck
would have it, and Gaubert implored him to send soldiers thither
to quell the riot. He dispatched the escort. I sought in vain to
stay them. He would not listen to me. The troopers went, and then
Monsieur Gaubert entered the inn, to join Monsieur de Condillac and
six of his braves who were waiting there. They overpowered me, and
carried mademoiselle off in the coach. I did what I could, but - "
"How long have they been gone?" Garnache interrupted him to inquire.
"But few minutes before you came."
"It would be, then, the coach that passed me near the Porte de
Savoie. We must go after them, Rabecque. I made a short cut across
the graveyard of Saint Francis, or I must have met the escort. Oh,
perdition!" he cried, smiting his clenched right hand into his open
left. "To have so much good work undone by a moment's unguardedness."
Then abruptly he turned on his heels. "I am going to Monsieur de
Tressan," said he over his shoulder, and went out.
As he reached the threshold of the porch, the escort rode up the
street, returned at last. At sight of him the sergeant broke into
a cry of surprise.
"At least you are safe, monsieur," he said. "We had heard that
you were dead, and I feared it must be so, for all that the rest of
the story that was told us was clearly part of a very foolish jest."
"Jest? It was no jest, Vertudieu!" said Garnache grimly. "You had
best return to the Palais Seneschal. I have no further need of an
escort," he added bitterly. "I shall require a larger force."
And he stepped out into the rain, which had begun again a few
minutes earlier, and was now falling m a steady downpour.
THE SENESCHAL'S ADVICE
Straight across the Palais Seneschal went Garnache. And sorely
though his temper might already have been tried that day,
tempestuously though it had been vented, there were fresh trials
in store for him, fresh storms for Tressan.
"May I ask, Monsieur le Seneschal," he demanded arrogantly, "to what
end it was that you permitted yourself to order from its post the
escort you had placed under my command?"
"To what end?" returned the Seneschal, between sorrow and
indignation. "Why, to the end that it might succour you if still
in time. I had heard that if not dead already, you were in danger
of your life."
The answer was one that disarmed Garnache, in spite of his mistrust
of Tressan, and followed as it now was by the Seneschal's profuse
expressions of joy at seeing Garnache safe and well, it left him
clearly unable to pursue the subject of his grievance in this
particular connection. Instead, he passed on to entertain Tressan
with the recital of the thing that had been done; and in reciting
it his anger revived again, nor did the outward signs of sympathetic
perturbation which the Seneschal thought it judicious to display do
aught to mollify his feelings.
"And now, monsieur," he concluded, "there remains but one course to
be pursued - to return in force, and compel them at the sword-point
to surrender me mademoiselle. That accomplished, I shall arrest the
Dowager and her son and every jackanapes within that castle. Her
men can lie in Grenoble gaol to be dealt with by yourself for
supporting her in an attempt to resist the Queen's authority. Madame
and her son shall go with me to Paris to answer there for their
The Seneschal looked grave. He thoughtfully combed his beard with
his forefinger, and his little eyes peered a shade fearfully at
Garnache through his horn-rimmed spectacles - Garnache had found
him at his never-failing pretence of work.
"Why, yes," he agreed, speaking slowly, "that way lies your duty."
"I rejoice, monsieur, to hear you say so. For I shall need your aid."
"My aid?" The Seneschal's face assumed a startled look.
"I shall require of you the necessary force to reduce that garrison."
The Seneschal blew out his cheeks almost to bursting point, then
wagged his head and smiled wistfully.
"And where," he asked, "am I to find such a force?"
"You have upwards of ten score men in quarters at Grenoble."
"If I had those men - which I have not - what, think you, could
they do against a fortress such as Condillac? Monsieur deludes
himself. If they resist, you'll need ten times that number to
bring them to their senses. They are well victualled; they have
an excellent water-supply. My friend, they would just draw up the
bridge, and laugh at you and your soldiers from the ramparts."
Garnache looked at him from under lowering brows. But for all his
mistrust of the man - a mistrust most excellently founded - he was
forced to confess that there was wisdom in what Tressan said.
"I'll sit down and besiege them if need be," he announced.
Again the Seneschal wagged his head. "You would have to be prepared
to spend your winter there in that case, and it can be cold in the
valley of Isere. Their garrison is small - some twenty men at most;
but it is sufficient for their defence, and not too many mouths to
feed. No, no, monsieur, if you would win your way by force you must
count upon more than ten score men."
And now a flash of inspiration helped Tressan. It was his aim, as
we know, to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Break with
Madame de Condillac his foolish hopeful heart would not permit him.
Break with this man, who personified authority and the King, he
dared not. He had sought - and it had given him much to do - to
steer a middle course, serving the Dowager and appearing not to
withstand the Parisian. Now it almost seemed to him as if he were
come to an impasse beyond which he could no longer pursue that
course, but must halt and declare his side. But the notion that
now occurred to him helped him to win through this difficulty. For
Madame de Condillac's schemes he cared not a jot; whether they came
safe to harbour or suffered shipwreck on the way was all one to him;
whether Valerie de La Vauvraye married Marius de Condillac or the
meanest cobbler in Grenoble was, similarly, a matter that never
disturbed his mind. He would not even be concerned if he, himself,
were to help the Dowager's schemes to frustration, so long as she
were to remain in ignorance of his defection, so long as outwardly
he were to appear faithful to her interests.
"Monsieur," said he gravely, "the only course that promises you
success is to return to Paris, and, raising sufficient men, with
guns and other modern siege appliances such as we possess not here,
come back and batter down the walls of Condillac."
There the Seneschal spoke good sense. Garnache realized it, so much
so that he almost began to doubt whether he had not done the man an
injustice in believing him allied to the other party. But, however
fully he might perceive the wisdom of the advice, such a step was
one that must wound his pride, must be an acknowledgment that his
own resources, upon which the Queen had relied when she sent him
single-handed to deal with this situation, had proved insufficient.
He took a turn in the apartment without answering, tugging at his
mustachios and pondering the situation what time the Seneschal
furtively watched him in the candle-light. At last he came abruptly
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