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Title: Lord Montagu's Page - An Historical Romance
Author: James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainsford), 1801-1860
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration]

    LORD MONTAGU'S PAGE

    AN
    HISTORICAL ROMANCE

    BY
    G.P.R. JAMES.

    [Illustration]

    PHILADELPHIA
    CHILDS AND PETERSON,
    602 ARCH STREET.
    1858.

    I. WATY



    Lord Montagu's Page:

    AN
    HISTORICAL ROMANCE
    OF THE
    Seventeenth Century.

    BY
    G. P. R. JAMES,

    _Author of_

    "RICHELIEU," "DARNLEY," "MARY OF BURGUNDY," "OLD DOMINION," ETC.

    PHILADELPHIA:
    CHILDS & PETERSON, 602 ARCH ST.
    1858.



    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by
    CHILDS & PETERSON,
    in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States
    in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

    STEREOTYPED BY L. JOHNSON & CO.
    PHILADELPHIA.
    PRINTED BY DEACON & PETERSON.



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.

[_From Allibone's forthcoming Dictionary of Authors._]


George Payne Rainsford James was born in London about the year 1800, and
commenced his literary career at an early age by anonymous contributions
to the journals and reviews which catered to the literary taste of "a
discerning public." Some of these juvenile effusions fell under the
notice of Washington Irving, and this gentleman, with his usual kindness
of heart, encouraged the young author to venture upon something of a
more important character than the fugitive essays which had hitherto
employed his pen. Thus strengthened in his literary proclivity, the
young aspirant nibbed his "gray-goose quill," commenced author in
earnest, and gave to the world in 1822 his first work,--a Life of Edward
the Black Prince. Mr. James now turned his attention to a field which
had recently been cultivated with eminent success,--historical
romance,--and completed in 1825 his novel of Richelieu, which, having
received the favorable verdict of Sir Walter Scott, made its appearance
in 1829. This was followed in the next year by Darnley and De L'Orme.

Richelieu was so fortunate as to secure the favor of the formidable
Christopher North of Blackwood; but this invaluable commendation was
withheld from Darnley:--

    "Mr. Colburn has lately given us two books of a very different
    character, Richelieu and Darnley. Richelieu is one of the most
    spirited, amusing, and interesting romances I ever read;
    characters well drawn--incidents well managed--story perpetually
    progressive--catastrophe at once natural and unexpected--moral
    good, but not goody--and the whole felt, in every chapter, to be
    the work of a--Gentleman."--_Noctes Ambrosianæ, April, 1830;
    Blackw. Mag., xxvii. 688, q.v._



From this time to the present Mr. James has been no idler in the
Republic of Letters, as the following alphabetical list of his writings
amply proves:--

1. Adra, or the Peruvians; a Poem, 1 vol. 2. Agincourt, 1844, 3 vols. 3.
Agnes Sorrel, 1853, 3 vols. 4. Arabella Stuart, 1853, 3 vols. 5. Arrah
Neil, 1845, 3 vols. 6. Attila, 1837, 3 vols. 7. Beauchamp, 1848, 3 vols.
8. Blanche of Navarre; a Play, 1839, 1 vol. 9. Book of the Passions,
1838, 1 vol. 10. Cameralzaman; a Fairy Drama, 1848,1 vol. 11.
Castelneau; or, The Ancient Régime, 1841, 3 vols. 12. Castle of
Ehrenstein, 1847, 3 vols. 13. Charles Tyrrell, 1839, 2 vols. 14. City of
the Silent; a Poem, 1 vol. 15. Commissioner; or, De Lunatico Inquirendo,
1842, 1 vol. 16. Convict, 1847, 3 vols. 17. Corse de Leon, the Brigand,
1841, 3 vols. 18. Dark Scenes of History, 1849, 3 vols. 19. Darnley,
1830, 3 vols. 20. Delaware, 3 vols; subsequently published under the
title of Thirty Years Since, 1848, 1 vol. 21. De L'Orme, 1830, 3 vols.
22. Desultory Man, 3 vols. 23. Educational Institutions of Germany, 1
vol. 24. Eva St. Clair, and other Tales, 1843, 2 vols. 25. False Heir,
1843, 3 vols. 26. Fate, 1851, 3 vols. 27. Fight of the Fiddlers, 1848, 1
vol. 28. Forest Days, 1843, 3 vols. 29. Forgery; or, Best Intentions,
1848, 3 vols. 30. Gentleman of the Old School, 1839, 3 vols. 31. Gipsy,
1835, 3 vols. 32. Gowrie; or, The King's Plot, 1 vol. 33. Heidelberg,
1846, 3 vols. 34. Henry Masterton, 1832, 3 vols. 35. Henry Smeaton,
1850, 3 vols. 36. Henry of Guise, 1839, 3 vols. 37. History of
Charlemagne, 1832, 1 vol. 38. History of Chivalry, 1 vol. 39. History of
Louis XIV., 1838, 4 vols. 40. History of Richard Coeur de Lion,
1841-42, 4 vols. 41. Huguenot, 1838, 3 vols. 42. Jacquerie, 1841, 3
vols. 43. John Jones's Tales from English History, for Little John
Joneses, 1849, 2 vols. 44. John Marston Hall, 1834, 3 vols; subsequently
published under the title of Little Ball o' Fire, 1847, 1 vol. 45.
King's Highway, 1840, 3 vols. 46. Last of the Fairies, 1847, 1 vol. 47.
Life of Edward the Black Prince, 1822, 2 vols. 48. Life of Henry IV. of
France, 1847, 3 vols. 49. Life of Vicissitudes, 1 vol. 50. Man-at-Arms,
1840, 3 vols. 51. Margaret Graham, 1847, 2 vols. 52. Mary of Burgundy,
1833, 3 vols. 53. Memoirs of Great Commanders, 1832, 3 vols. 54. Morley
Ernstein, 1842, 3 vols. 55. My Aunt Pontypool, 3 vols. 56. Old Dominion;
or, The Southampton Massacre, 1856, 3 vols. 57. Old Oak Chest, 3 vols.
58. One in a Thousand, 1835, 3 vols. 59. Pequinillo, 1852, 3 vols. 60.
Philip Augustus, 1831, 3 vols. 61. Prince Life, 1855, 1 vol. 62.
Revenge, 1851, 3 vols; so styled by the bookseller, without the author's
consent. It was originally published in papers under a different name.
63. Richelieu, 1829, 3 vols. 64. Robber, 1838, 3 vols. 65. Rose
D'Albret, 1840, 3 vols. 66. Russell, 1847, 3 vols. 67. Sir Theodore
Broughton, 1847, 3 vols. 68. Smuggler, 1845, 3 vols. 69. Stepmother,
1846, 3 vols. 70. Story without a Name, 1852, 1 vol. 71. String of
Pearls, 1849, 2 vols. 72. Ticonderoga; or, The Black Eagle, 1854, 3
vols. 73. Whim and its Consequences, 1847, 3 vols. 74. Woodman, 1847, 3
vols.

It will be seen that the above list presents a total of 188
vols.,--viz.: 51 works in 3 vols. each, 2 in 4 vols. each, 6 in 2 vols.
each, and 15 in 1 vol. each. Almost all of these volumes are of the
post-octavo size. Mr. James is also the editor of the Vernon Letters,
illustrative of the times of William III., 1841, 3 vols. 8vo; and of Wm.
Henry Ireland's historical romance of David Rizzio, 1849, 3 vols. p.
8vo; and was associated with Dr. E. E. Crowe in the Lives of the Most
Eminent Foreign Statesmen, 1832-38, 5 vols. p. 8vo., (4 vols. were Mr.
James's, and 1 vol. Dr. Crowe's,) and with Mr. Maunsell B. Field in the
composition of Adrian, or The Clouds of the Mind, 1852, 2 vols. p. 8vo.

To this list may be added Norfolk and Hereford, (in a collection
entitled Seven Tales by Seven Authors,) and enough articles in various
periodicals to fill eight or ten volumes. Perhaps we should not omit to
notice that a work entitled A Brief History of the United States
Boundary Question, drawn up from official papers, published in London,
1839, 8vo., and ascribed to Mr. James, is not his production; nor had he
any share (further than writing a preface, or something of that kind) in
another work often credited to him,--Memoirs of Celebrated Women, 1837,
2 vols. p. 8vo. During the reign of William IV. the author received the
appointment of historiographer of Great Britain; but this post was
resigned by him many years since.

There have been new editions of many of Mr. James's novels, and some or
all of them have appeared in Bentley's Series of Standard Novels. There
has been also a Parlor-Library Edition. A collective edition was
published by Smith, Elder & Co., commencing in June, 1844, and continued
by Parry, and by Simpkin, Marshall & Co. In America they have been very
popular and published in large quantities.

About 1850 Mr. James, with his family, removed permanently to the United
States, and resided for two or three years in Berkshire county,
Massachusetts. Since 1852 he has been British Consul at Richmond,
Virginia. The space which we have occupied by a recital of the titles
only of Mr. James's volumes necessarily restricts the quotation of
criticisms upon the merits or demerits of their contents. It has fallen
to the lot of few authors to be so much read, and at the same time so
much abused, as the owner of the fertile pen which claims the long list
of novels commencing with Richelieu in 1829 and extending to the Old
Dominion in 1856. That there should be a family likeness in this
numerous race--where so many, too, are nearly of an age--can be no
matter of surprise. The mind, like any other artisan, can only construct
from materials which lie within its range; and, when no time is allowed
for the accumulation and renewal of these, it is vain to hope that
variety of architecture will conceal the identity of substance. Yet,
after all, the champion of this popular author will probably argue that
this objection against the writings of Mr. James is greatly overstated
and extravagantly overestimated. The novelist can draw only from the
experience of human life in its different phases, and these admit not of
such variety as the inordinate appetite of the modern Athenians
unreasonably demands. A new series of catastrophes and perplexities, of
mortifications and triumphs, of joys and sorrows, cannot be evoked for
the benefit of the reader of each new novel. Again, Mr. James's admirer
insists that this charge of sameness so often urged against our
novelist's writings is perhaps overstated. Where one author, as is
frequently the case, gains the reputation of versatility of talent by
writing one or two volumes, it is not to be believed that Mr. James
exhibits less in one or two hundred. He who composes a library is not to
be judged by the same standard as he who writes but one book. And even
if the charge of "sameness" be admitted to its full extent, yet many
will cordially concur with the grateful and graceful acknowledgment of
one of the most eminent of modern critics:--

    "I hail every fresh publication of James, though I half know
    what he is going to do with his lady, and his gentleman, and his
    landscape, and his mystery, and his orthodoxy, and his criminal
    trial. But I am charmed with the new amusement which he brings
    out of old materials. I look on him as I look on a musician
    famous for 'variations.' I am grateful for his vein of
    cheerfulness, for his singularly varied and vivid landscapes,
    for his power of painting women at once ladylike and loving, (a
    rare talent,) for making lovers to match, at once beautiful and
    well-bred, and for the solace which all this has afforded me,
    sometimes over and over again, in illness and in convalescence,
    when I required interest without violence, and entertainment at
    once animated and mild."--LEIGH HUNT.

Two of the severest criticisms to which Mr. James's novels have been
subjected are, the one in the London Athenæum for April 11, 1846, and
the one in the North American Review, by E. P. Whipple, for April,
1844.

We have spoken of Mr. James's champions and admirers; and such are by no
means fabulous personages, notwithstanding the severe censures to which
we have alluded. A brief quotation from one of these eulogies will be
another evidence added to the many in this volume of a wide
dissimilarity in critical opinions:--

    "His pen is prolific enough to keep the imagination constantly
    nourished; and of him, more than of any modern writer, it may be
    said, that he has improved his style by the mere dint of
    constant and abundant practice. For, although so agreeable a
    novelist, it must not be forgotten that he stands infinitely
    higher as an historian.... The most fantastic and beautiful
    coruscations which the skies can exhibit to the eyes of mankind
    dart as if in play from the huge volumes that roll out from the
    crater of the volcano.... The recreation of an enlarged
    intellect is ever more valuable than the highest efforts of a
    confined one. Hence we find in the works before us, [Corse de
    Leon, the Ancient Régime, and The Jacquerie,] lightly as they
    have been thrown off, the traces of study,--the footsteps of a
    powerful and vigorous understanding."--_Dublin University
    Magazine_, March, 1842.

The Edinburgh Review concludes some comments upon our author with the
remark,

    "Our readers will perceive from these general observations that
    we estimate Mr. James's abilities, as a romance-writer, highly:
    his works are lively and interesting, and animated by a spirit
    of sound and healthy morality in feeling, and of natural
    delineation in character, which, we think, will secure for them
    a calm popularity which will last beyond the present day."

We have before us more than thirty (to be exact, just thirty-two)
commendatory notices of our author, but brief extracts from two of these
is all for which we can find space.

    "He belongs to the historical school of fiction, and, like the
    masters of the art, takes up a real person or a real event, and,
    pursuing the course of history, makes out the intentions of
    nature by adding circumstances and heightening character, till,
    like a statue in the hands of the sculptor, the whole is in fair
    proportion, truth of sentiment, and character. For this he has
    high qualities,--an excellent taste, extensive knowledge of
    history, a right feeling of the chivalrous, and a heroic and a
    ready eye for the picturesque: his proprieties are admirable;
    his sympathy with whatever is high-souled and noble is deep and
    impressive. His best works are Richelieu and Mary of
    Burgundy."--ALLAN CUNNINGHAM: _Biographical and Critical History
    of the Literature of the Last Fifty Years, 1833._

The critic next to be quoted, whilst coinciding in the objections
prominently urged against Mr. James as an author,--repetition,
tediousness, and deficiency of terseness,--yet urges on his behalf that

    "There is a constant appeal in his brilliant pages not only to
    the pure and generous, but to the elevated and noble sentiments;
    he is imbued with the very soul of chivalry; and all his stories
    turn on the final triumph of those who are influenced by such
    feelings over such as are swayed by selfish or base desires. He
    possesses great pictorial powers, and a remarkable facility of
    turning his graphic pen at will to the delineation of the most
    distant and opposite scenes, manners, and social customs.... Not
    a word or a thought which can give pain to the purest heart ever
    escapes from his pen; and the mind wearied with the cares and
    grieved at the selfishness of the world reverts with pleasure to
    his varied compositions, which carry it back, as it were, to
    former days, and portray, perhaps in too brilliant colors, the
    ideas and manners of the olden time."--SIR ARCHIBALD ALISON:
    _Hist. of Europe,_ 1815-52, chap, v., 1853. See also _Alison's
    Essays,_ 1850, iii. 545-546; _North British Review,_ Feb. 1857,
    art on Modern Style.



Prefatory Dedication.

TO

GUSTAVUS A. MYERS, ESQ.


MY DEAR SIR:--

In dedicating to you the following pages, I am moved not more by private
friendship and regard, than by esteem for your abilities, and respect
for your many and varied acquirements. It might seem somewhat
presumptuous in me to call for your acceptance or seek your approbation
of this work, when not only your general acquaintance with, but your
profound knowledge of, almost every branch of modern and ancient
literature qualify and might be expected to prompt you to minute and
severe criticism. But I have always found, in regard to my own works at
least, that those who were best fitted to judge were the most inclined
to be lenient, and that men of high talent and deep learning
condescended to tolerate, if not to approve, that which was assailed by
very small critics, or scoffed at by men who, calling themselves
humorists, omitted the word "_bad_" before the appellation in which they
gloried.

To your good humor, then, I leave the work, and will only add a few
words in regard to the object and construction of the story.

We have in the present day romances of many various kinds; and I really
know not how to class my present effort. It is not a love-story, for any
thing like that which was the great moving power of young energies--at
least in less material days than these--has very little part in the
book. I cannot call it a novel without a hero, because it is altogether
dedicated to the adventures of one man. I cannot call it a romance
without a heroine, because there is a woman in it, and a woman with whom
I am myself very much in love. I cannot call it absolutely a historical
romance, because there are several characters which are not historical,
and I am afraid I have taken a few little liberties with Chronology
which, were she as prudish a dame as some of the middle-aged ladies whom
I could mention, would either earn me a _box_ of the ear, or produce so
much scandal that my good name would be lost forever. Plague take the
months and the days! they are always getting in one's way. But I do
believe I have been very reverent and respectful to their grandmothers
the years, and, with due regard for precedence and the Court Guide, have
not put any of the latter out of her proper place.

I do not altogether wish to call this a book of character; for I do not
exactly understand that word as the public has lately been taught to
understand it. There is no peasant, or cobbler, or brick-layer's
apprentice, in the whole book, endowed with superhuman qualities, moral
and physical. There is no personage in high station--given as the type
of a class--imbued with intense selfishness or demoniac passions, wicked
without motive, heartless against common sense, and utterly degraded
from that noble humanity, God's best and holiest gift to mankind. There
is no meek, poor, puling, suffering lover, who condescends humbly to be
bamboozled and befooled through three volumes, or Heaven knows how many
numbers, for the sake of marrying the heroine in the end. I therefore
cannot properly, in the present day, call it a work of character.

I might call it, perhaps,--although the hero is an Englishman,--a
picture of the times of Louis XIII; but, alas! I have not ventured to
give a full picture of these times. We have become so uncommonly cleanly
and decorous in our own days, that a mere allusion to the dirt and
indecency of the age of our great-grandmothers is not to be tolerated.
In order, indeed, to preserve something like verisimilitude, I have been
obliged to glance, in one chapter, at the freedom of manners of the days
to which I refer; but it has been a mere glance, and given in such a
manner that the cheek of one who understands it, in the sense in which
one of those very days would understand it, must have lost the power of
blushing. At all events, it can never sully or offend the pure, nor lead
the impure any further wrong.

There are a great many explanations and comments, in illustration of the
times, which I should like to give for the benefit of that part of my
readers who have put on the right of knowing all things at the same time
that the third change was made in their dress, and I would have done so,
in notes; but, unfortunately, I do not write Greek; and a little
incident prevented me from writing those notes in Latin. A work--a most
interesting work--was published a few years ago in London, called the
Bernstein Hexe, or Amber Witch. More than one translation appeared; and
one of these had the original notes,--some written in Latin where they
were peculiarly anatomical and indecent; but, to my surprise, I found
that several ladies were fully versed in that sort of Latinity. I cannot
flatter myself with having a sufficient command of the Roman tongue to
be enabled to veil the meaning more completely from the unlearned.

Only in the case of two personages have I attempted to elaborate
character,--in regard to my hero, and in regard to the Cardinal de
Richelieu. The former, though not altogether fictitious, must go with
very little comment. I wished to show how a young heart may be hardened
by circumstances, and how it may be softened and its better feelings
evolved by a propitious change. The latter, I will confess, I have
labored much; because I think the world in general, and I myself also,
have done some injustice to one of the greatest men that ever lived.
Very early in life I depicted him when he had reached old age,--that is
to say, his old age; for he had not, at the time of his death, numbered
as many years as are now upon my own head. He had then been tried in the
fire of the most terrible circumstances which perhaps ever assayed a
human heart; not only tried, but hardened; and even then, upon his
death-bed, his burst of tenderness to his old friend, Bois Robert, his
delight in the arts, and passion for flowers, showed that the tenderer
and--may I not say more noble?--feelings of the man had not been
swallowed up by the hard duties of the statesman, or the galling cares
of the politician. I now present him to the reader at a much earlier
period of life,--young, vigorous, successful, happy,--when the germs of
all those qualities for which men have reproached or applauded him were
certainly developed, were growing to maturity; when the severity which
afterwards characterized him, and the gentleness which he as certainly
displayed, had both been exercised; but when the briers and thorns had
not fully grown up, and before the soft grass of the heart had been
trampled under foot.

All men have mixed characters. I do not believe in perfect evil or in
perfect goodness on this earth; but at various times of life the worse
or the better spirit predominates, according to the nourishment and
encouragement it receives. How far Richelieu changed, and when and how
he changed, would require a longer discussion than can be here afforded.
But one thing is to be always remembered,--that he was generally painted
by his enemies; and, where they admit high qualities and generous
feelings, we may be sure that it was done with even a niggard hand, and
add something to the tribute of the unwilling witness.

In regard to critics, it may be supposed that I have spoken, a few pages
back, somewhat irreverently: I do not mean to do so in the least.
Amongst them are some most admirable men,--some who have done great,
real, tangible service to the public,--who have guided, if not formed,
public taste; and for them I have the greatest possible respect. I speak
not of the contributors to our greater and more pretentious
Reviews,--although, perhaps, a mass of deeper learning, more close and
acute investigation, and purer critical taste, cannot be found in the
literature of the world than that contained in their pages; but I speak
of the whole body of contemporary critics, many of whose minor articles
are full of astute perception and sound judgment. But there are others
for whom, though I have the most profound contempt, I have a most humble
fear. It is useless in Southern climates, such as that which I inhabit,
to attempt to prevent oneself from being stung by mosquitos or to keep
one's ears closed against their musical but venomous song. The only plan
which presents any chance of success--at least, it is as good as any
other--is to go down upon your knees and humbly to beseech them to spare
you. I therefore most reverently beseech the moral mosquitos, who are
accustomed to whistle and sing about my lowly path, to forbear as much
as possible; and, although their critical virulence may be aroused to
the highest pitch by seeing a man walk quietly on for thirty years along
the only firm path he can find amongst the bogs and quagmires of
literature, to spare at least those parts which are left naked by his
tailor and his shoemaker; to remember, in other words, that, besides the
faults and errors for which I am myself clearly responsible, there is
some allowance to be made for the faults of my amanuensis and for the
errors of my printer. I admit that I am the worst corrector in the whole
world; but I do hope that the liberality of criticism will not think fit
to see, as has been lately done, errors of mind in errors clearly of the
printer; especially in works which, by some arrangement between Mr.
Newby and the Atlantic, I never by any means see till the book has
passed through the press. But, should they still be determined to lay
the whole blame upon the poor author's shoulders, I may as well furnish
them with some excuse for so doing. The best that I know is to be found
in the following little anecdote:--

When I was quite a young boy, there was a painter in Edinburgh, of the
name of Skirven, celebrated both for his taste and genius, and his
minute accuracy in portrait-painting. A very beautiful lady of my
acquaintance sat to him for her portrait in a falling collar of rich and
beautiful lace. Unfortunately, there was a hole in the lace. As usual,
he did not suffer her to see the portrait till it was completed; and,
when she did see it, there was a portrait of the hole as well as
herself. "Well, Mr. Skirven," she said, "I think you need not have
painted the hole."

"Well, madam," answered the painter, "then you should have mended it
first."

    G. P. R. JAMES.

    ASHLAND, VIRGINIA,
    December, 1857.



LORD MONTAGU'S PAGE.



CHAPTER I.


It was a dark and stormy night,--a very dark night indeed. No dog's
mouth, whether terrier, mastiff, or Newfoundland, was ever so dark as
that night. The hatches had been battened down, and every aperture but
one, by which any of the great, curly-pated, leaping waves could jump
into the vessel, had been closed.

What vessel? the reader may perhaps inquire. Well, that being a piece of
reasonable curiosity,--although I do wish, as a general thing, that
readers would not be so impatient,--I will gratify it, and answer the
inquirer's question; and, indeed, would have told him all about it in
five minutes if he would but have given me time.

What vessel? asks the reader. Why, a little, heavy-looking,
fore-and-aft, one-masted ship, somewhat tubbish in form, which had
battled with a not very favorable gale during a long stormy day, and
had, as the sun went down, approached the coast of France, it might be
somewhat too close for safety. The atmosphere in the cabin below was hot
and oppressive. How indeed could it be otherwise, when not one breath of
air, notwithstanding all the bullying and roaring of Boreas, had been
able to get in during the whole day? But such being the case, and
respiration in the little den being difficult, the only altogether
terrestrial animal--sailors are, of course, amphibious--which that
vessel contained had forced his way up to the deck through the only
narrow outlet which had been left open.

The amphibia have always a considerable dislike and some degree of
contempt for all land-animals, and the five sailors, with their skipper,
who formed all the crew so small a craft required, would probably have
driven below the intruder upon their labors, had they had time, leisure,
or light to notice him at all. But for near two hours he stood at the
stern on the weather side of the ship, holding on by the bulwarks, wet
to the skin, with his hat blown off and probably swimming back toward
Old England, and his hands numbed with cold and with hard grasping.

There is something in the very act of holding on tight which increases
the natural tenacity of purpose that exists in some minds, and, if I may
use a very vulgar figure, thickens the glue. At the end of the two
hours, one of the sailors, who had something to do at the stern in a
great hurry, ran up to the spot where the only passenger was clinging
and nearly tumbled over him. Then, of course, he cursed him, as men in a
hurry are wont to, and exclaimed, "Get down below! What the devil are
you doing up here, where you are in everybody's way? Get down, I say!"

"I will not," was the reply, in a quiet, and even sweet, but very
resolute, voice.

"Then I'll knock you overboard, by ----!" said the seaman, adding an oath
which did not much strengthen the threat in the ears to which it was
addressed.

"You cannot, and you dare not try," answered the other. But then the
voice of the skipper, who had been working hard at the tiller, was heard
exclaiming, "Let him alone, Tom;" and he beneficently called down
condemnation not only upon the eyes but upon all the members of his
subordinate. "Mind your own work, and let him alone."

Now, it may be worth while to ask what sort of a personage was this,
whom the somewhat irascible Master Tom threatened to knock overboard,
and who replied with so little reverence for the threat. He could not be
a very formidable person, at least in appearance,--a very necessary
qualification of the assertion; for I have known very formidable snakes
the most pitiful-looking reptiles I ever beheld; and some of the most
dangerous men ever seen, either on the same stage of life where we are
playing our parts with them, or on the wider boards of history, have
been the least impressive in person, and the meanest-looking of
creatures. But, as I was saying,--for it is too late to finish that
sentence now,--the single passenger could not be very formidable in
appearance; for Tom was probably too wise and too experienced to engage
in what he considered even an equal struggle on so dark a night, while
the wind was blowing a gale, and the little craft heeling gunwale to.
Yet he could not be one without some powers, internally if not
externally, which rendered him fully as careless of consequences as the
other. Well, he was only a lad of some five feet eight or nine in
height, slight-looking in form, and dressed in a common sailor's jacket.
But in a leathern belt round his waist was a large caseknife, on the
handle or hilt of which, while he continued to hold on to the rail of
the bulwark with his left hand, he clasped the fingers of his right in a
very resolute and uncompromising manner. We all know that bowie-knives,
in one land at least, are very useful companions, and in all lands very
formidable weapons. Now, the knife in the lad's black leather belt was
not at all unlike a bowie-knife, and not in the least less formidable.
There was the slight insinuating curve, the heavy haft, the tremendously
long blade, the razor-like edge, and the sharp, unfailing point; so that
it is not improbable that the youth's confidence was mightily
strengthened by the companionship of such a serviceable friend, although
he was not half the size of his adversary and not above a third of his
weight. Boys, however, are always daring; and he could not at the utmost
have passed much more than seventeen years on the surface of this cold
earth.

Now, all this account would have been spared the beloved reader had not
a trait of character at the outset of the career of any personage, in a
poem, novel, romance, or tale, been worth half a volume of description
afterward. It would have been spared, indeed, simply because the little
incident ended just where we have left it. Tom, the sailor, though a
reckless, ill-conditioned fellow, was obedient to the voice of his
commander, and, after having boused the boom a little to the one side or
the other of the vessel,--which side I neither know nor care,--he
returned to the bow, muttering a few objurgations of the youth, implying
that if it had not been for him they would never have come upon that
d----d voyage at all, and that probably they all would go to the bottom
for having such a Jonah on board.

The truth is, Tom had left his sweetheart at Plymouth.

As soon as he was gone, the skipper called the lad a little nearer and
said, "Tom says true enough, Master Ned. You were better below on every
account. I don't see what you want to come up for on such a night as
this."

"Because I do not want to be smothered, Captain Tinly," replied Master
Ned. "I had rather be frozen than stewed; rather be melted by the water
like a piece of salt or sugar than baked like a pasty. Besides, what
harm do I do here? I am in no one's way, and that sea-dog could do his
work as well with me here as without me. But I'll tell you what,
captain, we are getting into smoother water. Some land is giving us a
lee. We ought soon to see a light."

"Why, were you ever here before, youngster?" asked the master.

"Ay, twice," said the boy; "and I know that when the sea smooths down as
it is now doing, we cannot be far from the island; and you will soon see
the lantern."

"Well, keep a sharp look-out, then," was the reply: "you can see better
where you stand than I can, and it's so dark those fellows forward may
miss it. A minute or two to-night may save or sink us."

"It matters not much which," answered the young man. A strange thought
for one at the age when life is brightest! but there are cases when the
disappointment of all early hopes--when the first grasp of misfortune's
iron hand has been so hard that it seems to have crushed the butterfly
of the heart even unto death,--when it is not alone the gay colors have
been brushed off, the soft down swept away, but when Hope's own life
seems extinguished.

Happily, it is but for a time. There is immortality in Hope. She cannot
die; The fabled Phoenix of the ancients was but an emblem, like every
other myth; and, if the painting of Cupid burning a butterfly over a
flame was the image of love tormenting the soul, the Phoenix rising
from her ashes was surely a figure of the constant resurrection of Hope.
Ay, from her very ashes does she rise to brighter and still brighter
existence, till, soaring over the cold Lethe of the grave, she spreads
her wings afar to the Elysian fields beyond!

It is an old axiom, never to say "die;" and though there be those who
say it, ay, and in a momentary madness give the word the form of action,
did they but wait, they themselves would find that, though circumstances
remained unchanged, the prospect as rugged or the night as dark, the
sunshine of Hope would break forth again to cheer, or her star twinkle
through the gloom to guide.

The boy felt what he said at the time, but it was only for the time; and
there were years before him in which he never felt so again.

"Captain, there is a light surely toward the southwest," said the lad:
"that must be the light at St. Martin's-on-Re. It seems very far off. We
must be hugging the main shore too close."

"I don't see it," answered the skipper; "but there is one due east, or
half a point north. What the devil is that?"

The boy ran across the deck nearly at the risk of his life; for though
the sea and wind had both fallen, the little craft still pitched and
heeled so much that he lost his footing and had wellnigh gone overboard.
He held on, however, was up in a moment, and exclaimed, "Marans! The
light in Maran's church! You'll be on the sands in ten minutes! Put
about, put about, if you would save the ship!"

A great deal of hurry and confusion succeeded; and there was much
unnecessary noise, and still more unnecessary swearing. The youth who
had discovered the danger was the most silent of the party; but he was
not inactive, aiding the captain with more strength than he seemed to
possess, to bring the ship's head as near to the wind as possible. And
the manoeuvre was just in time; for the lead at one time showed that
they were just up the very verge of the sands at the moment when,
answering the helm better than she did at first, she made way toward the
west, and the danger was past. In half an hour--for their progress was
slow--the light upon the Isle de Re could be distinctly seen, and one by
one other lights and landmarks appeared, rendering the rest of the
voyage comparatively safe.

Still the lad kept his place upon the deck, addressing hardly a word to
any one, but watching with a keen eye the eastern line of shore, which
was every now and then visible notwithstanding the darkness. The moon,
too, began to give some light, though she could not be seen; for the
clouds were still thick, and their rapid race across the sky told that,
though the sea under the lea of the Isle de Re had lost all its
fierceness, the gale was blowing with unabated fury.

The lad quitted his hold of the bulwarks and walked slowly to the
captain's side, as if to speak to him; but the skipper spoke first. His
professional vanity was somewhat mortified, or perhaps he was afraid
that his professional reputation might suffer by the lad's report in the
ears of those whose approbation was valuable to him; and consequently he
was inclined to put a little bit of defensive armor on a spot where he
fancied himself vulnerable.

"We had a narrow squeak of it just now, Master Ned," he said. "However,
it was no fault of mine. I could not help it. It is twenty years since I
was last at this d--d place, and the chart they gave me is a mighty bad
one. Besides, those beastly gales we have had ever since Ushant might
puzzle the devil,--and this dark night, too!"

"You've saved the ship, captain," answered the lad: "that is all we have
to do with;" and then, perhaps thinking he might as well add something
to help the good skipper's palliatives for wellnigh running the ship
ashore, he added, "Besides, there is a strong current running,--what
between the sands of Oleron and the point of Re, and the Pertuis
d'Antioche--I do not know very well how it is; but I was so told by one
of the men last time I was here."

"Ay, 'tis so, I dare say," answered the captain. "Indeed, it must be
so; for we could never have got so far to the eastward without one of
those currents. I wish to heaven some one would put them all down, for
one can't keep them all in one's head, anyhow. You tell the duke, when
you see him again, about the currents, Master Ned."

"What is the use of telling him any thing at all but that we got safe to
Rochelle?" asked the lad. "If we get there--as there is now no doubt--he
will ask no questions how; and if we don't, anybody may blame us who
likes: it will make little difference to you or me."

The skipper was about to answer; but just at that moment a light broke
suddenly out upon that longish point of land which a boat that keeps
under the western shore of France has to double--as the reader very well
recollects--before it can make the port of La Rochelle; and the boy as
suddenly laid his hand on the captain's arm, saying, "Make for that
light as near as you can, captain; keep the lead going; drop your anchor
as close as you can, and send me ashore in a boat."

"Why, Master Ned, I was told to land you at Rochelle," replied the
other.

"You were told to do as I bade you," answered the lad, as stoutly as if
he had been a captain of horse,--adding the saving clause, "in every
thing except the navigation of your vessel. I must be put ashore where
you see that light. So send down for my bags, have the boat all ready,
and when I am landed go on to Rochelle and wait till you hear more."

The captain of the vessel did not hesitate to obey. The ship ran
speedily for the shore and approached perhaps nearer than was altogether
safe; the boat was lowered to the water, and the lad sprang in without
bidding adieu to any one. There was a heavy sea running upon the coast,
and it required no slight skill and strength on the part of the two
stout rowers to land him in safety; but he showed neither fear nor
hesitation, though probably he knew the extent of the danger and the
service better than any one; for, when he sprang out into the shallow
water where the boat grounded, he gave each of the men a gold-piece, and
then watched them with somewhat anxious eyes till they had got their
boat through the surf into the open sea.



CHAPTER II.


What an extraordinary world it is! Men in general are mere shellfish,
unapproachable except at certain tender points; such as the eyes of the
crab, or the soft yellow skin under an alligator's gullet,--Achilles'
heels which have been neglected by the mothers of those sapient reptiles
when they were dipped in Styx. But perhaps it is as well as it is; for
if a man were tender all over, and once began to think of all the misery
that is going on around him, the faces he would make would be horrible
to see. Reader, at this very moment there are thousands dying in agony,
there are many starving for lack of food, there is a whole host of
gentle hearts watching the expiring lamp of life in the eyes of those
most dearly loved, there are multitudes of noble spirits and mighty
minds struggling in doubt for to-morrow's daily crust, there is crime,
folly, sorrow, anguish, shame, remorse, despair, around us on every
side; and yet we are as merry as a grasshopper unless somebody snaps off
one of our own legs. There is not an instant of time that does not bring
with it a thousand waves of agony over the stormy sea of human
existence; and yet every man's light boat dances on, and the mariner
sings, till one of the many billows overwhelms him. It is quite as well
as it is.

Some, however, are blessed--or cursed, as it may be--with a faculty of
feeling for others; and that boy, as he took his way up from the shore
toward the little hillock of sand on which a bonfire of pine logs was
blazing,--with two heavy bags on his arms, and the rain dashed by the
fierce wind in his face,--could not help thinking of the roofless heads
and chilled hearts he knew were in the world.

"Poor souls!" he thought; "in an hour I shall be warm and dry and
comfortable, and to-morrow all this will be forgotten; but for them
there is no comfort, no better to-morrow."

Stay a minute, my lad! Do not go too fast and reckon without your host,
either for yourself or others. Joy may light up the dim eye, hope fan
the aching brow; and you,--after all you have seen and undergone even in
your short life,--how dare you count upon the events of the next
hour,--nay, of the next moment?

He climbed the hill stoutly but slowly; for it was steep, and his bags
were heavy. The wicked wind, too, fought with him all the way up, and
the rain, which had lately begun to fall, came loaded with small
particles of hail, as if it sought to aid the wind in keeping him back
till their united force could put out the beacon-fire. But the pine was
full of resin, and it burned on, with the flame and the smoke whirled
about by the wind but never extinguished, until at length he stood on
the windward side of the fire and looked round, as if expecting to see
the man who lighted it.

There was no one there, however; and the youth, who, it must be
acknowledged, was of a somewhat eager and impatient temper and apt to
come to hasty conclusions, fancied for a moment or two that those he
should have found there had grown weary of waiting in that boisterous
night, and had left him to enjoy its pleasures or its terrors by
himself. A moment after, however, as the flame swayed a little more to
the westward, he caught a glimpse of the ground on the other side of the
hill sinking rapidly down into a little dell where some less arid soil
seemed to have settled,--enough at least to bear some scanty herbage, a
few low bushes, and some thin pines; and there, amongst the latter,
appeared a small fixed light. It might be a candle in a cottage-window,
and probably was; for it was too red for a jack-o'lantern.

"Ah! I can at least find out where I am," thought the lad; "but I dare
say the men are there, taking care of their own skins and little caring
about mine."

Thus thinking, he began to descend, and had not proceeded far when a
voice hailed him in French. The lad made no answer, but went on; for, to
say sooth, he was somewhat moody with all the events of the last three
or four days.

"Is that you, Master Ned, I say?" repeated the voice, in English, but
with a very strong foreign accent.

"Ay, ay!" replied the youth; "but how the devil did you expect me to
find you if you did not stay by the fire?"

"Oh, we kept a good look-out," answered a stout man of some
five-and-thirty years of age, who was advancing to meet him. "We have
waited for you by the fire long enough these two last nights; and, as we
could see any one who came across the blaze, there was no use of our
getting frozen, or melted, or blown away on the top of the hill. But
what has made you so long behind? You were to have been here on Tuesday
night: so the letters said. What kept you?"

"Head-winds all the way from Ushant," replied the boy. "But let us go
on, Jargeau, for we must be far from the town, and time enough has been
lost already."

"Well, come down to the cottage," said the other, in a musing sort of
tone. "You want something to refresh you while the horses are being
saddled. Here; let me carry your bags." And as he spoke he laid his hand
upon one of the large leather-covered cases.

"Not that one," said the boy, sharply, pushing away his hand: "here; you
may take this." The man laughed, saying, "Ay, as sharp as ever!" and
they descended to the pines, where the light still glimmered behind one
of the few remaining panes of glass in the window of a dilapidated
cottage, on the leeward side of which stood three horses, tethered but
without their saddles.

The interior of the building offered no very cheerful aspect; but,
seeing that the boy had not eaten any thing for the last twelve hours,
that he was weary, wet, and cold, the sight of a very tolerable supply
of viands on the floor,--for there was furniture of no kind within,--and
a large black bottle fitted to hold at least a gallon, was very
consolatory.

The only other objects which the cottage contained were the rosin candle
fixed into a split log, and a lean but apparently strong man of perhaps
forty, whose face had evidently had at least a ten years' intimacy with
the brandy-flask. He was stretched out at length upon the ground, but
with his head and arm within reach of the viands and bottle; and though,
in answer to some observations of his comrade of the watch, he swore
manfully that he had touched neither, yet he wiped his mouth upon the
sleeve of his coat, as if he felt that something might be clinging to
his lips which would contradict him.

"Ah, Master Ned!" he exclaimed, in French, but without moving from where
he lay, "I am right glad you have come, for my throat is as dry as an
ear of rye, and Jargeau there would not have the cold meat touched nor
the bottle broached till you came."

"By the Lord, you have broached it, though!" exclaimed the other, who
had been stooping down: "the neck is quite wet, you vagabond; and, if we
did not need you, I would give you a touch of my knife for disobeying my
orders. But come, Master Ned, sit down on the floor and eat. There is
enough left in the bottle for you, at all events; and, on my soul, he
shall not have another drop till both you and I have finished."

The other man only laughed, and the boy applied himself to the food with
a good will. When he had eaten silently for some ten minutes, he
stretched out his hand, saying, "Give me the bottle, Jargeau: I will
have one draught of wine, and then I am ready. Pierrot, get up and put
the saddles on the horses."

"No wine will you get here," replied Jargeau; "but this is better for
you, wet as you are,--as good eau-de-vie as ever came from Tonnay
Charente. Take a good drink: you will need it."

"Get up and saddle the horses," said the boy before he drank, addressing
somewhat sharply the lean gentleman on the ground. "Have you forgotten
St. Martin's, good Pierrot?"

"I will have my drink first," answered the other, grinning. "I brought
the bottle here; and drop for drop all round is fair play."

As the quickest mode of ending all dispute, the youth drank and gave the
bottle to Pierrot; but it remained so long at his lips that Jargeau
snatched it angrily from him, swearing he would not leave a drop. He
seemed loath to part with it, but at length raised his long limbs from
the floor, and, lighting another rosin candle, went forth to perform his
task.

"And now, Master Ned," said Jargeau, "I have news for you which you may
be will not like. You are not going to La Rochelle to-night. There is no
one there whom you want to see."

"I must go," said the boy, thoughtfully, as if speaking to himself. "I
must go."

"But just listen, Master Ned," said Jargeau. "I know you are somewhat
hard-headed; but what is the use of going to a place where there is no
one to deal with? Now, the Prince de Soubise and the Duc de Rohan are
both at the Chateau of Mauzé; and with them are all the people you want
to see."

The lad paused and mused for several minutes without making any answer,
and Jargeau pressed him to take some more of the brandy, saying that he
would have a ride of thirty miles. But still he replied nothing, till at
length, awaking from his reverie, he asked, "Who is to guide me? I do
not know the way to Mauzé."

"Oh, Pierrot is here for the very purpose," answered Jargeau: "he will
guide you, and though, by one way or another, he will find means to make
all you leave of the brandy disappear, you know he is never drunk enough
not to find his way."

Master Ned, as they called him, again fell into thought for a moment or
two, and then answered, "It would be better for you to go yourself. But
perhaps you are wanted in Rochelle?"

"No," answered the other, in an indifferent tone; "I have got to go to
Fontenay, where some of our friends--you understand?--are to have a
meeting to-morrow night."

"Then you must be there, of course," replied Master Ned; "but, if
Pierrot is to ride thirty miles with me, the poor devil had better have
some food. He has tasted nothing but the brandy."

"That is enough for him," answered Jargeau: "he cares nothing for meat
when he can get drink."

"Well, then, let him have enough of what he likes best," answered the
lad; "and in the mean time I will get a cloak out of the bag, for we
shall have a wet ride as well as a long one." Thus saying, he rose, took
the bags into the farther corner of the cabin, and certainly took a
cloak out of one of them. Whether he brought forth any thing else I do
not say; but the cloak was soon over his shoulders, and a moment after
Pierrot appeared at the door, saying that the beasts were saddled.

"Here, Pierrot," exclaimed the lad; "come in and devour that chicken,
and then you shall have some more of the devil's drops."

"Take some more yourself, Ned," said Jargeau: "'tis the only way to
prevent catching the fever."

The lad assented, and, taking the bottle with both hands, put it to his
lips; but whether any of its contents passed beyond them I am doubtful,
seeing that the throat, which was fully exposed by his falling collar,
showed no signs of deglutition. He then handed the liquor to Pierrot,
who by this time had torn a large fat fowl to pieces and swallowed
one-half of it. The brandy fared still worse; for, although Jargeau
frowned upon him fiercely while he drank, the bottle, whatever remained
of the contents when he put it to his mouth, left that organ quite
empty.

"You drunken beast, you have swallowed it all!" said Jargeau.

"True," answered Pierrot, with a watery and somewhat swimming eye: "my
mouth is not large, but it is deep. I wish the Pertuis d'Antioche could
be filled with the same stuff and my mouth be laid at the other end.
There would be only one current then, Monsieur Jargeau."

The lad and the elderman both eyed him keenly as he spoke; but, strange
to say, the sight seemed to please the former more than the latter, and,
as they issued forth to mount, Jargeau drew Pierrot aside and said
something to him in a low but angry voice.

The lad took not the slightest notice of this little interlude, but,
advancing to where the horses stood with bent heads, not liking the rain
at all, he selected the one which seemed to him the strongest and best,
without asking consent of any one, placed his bags, tied together with a
strong leathern thong, over the pommel of the saddle, and then sprang
into his seat. "Come on, Pierrot!" he cried; "we have far to ride, it
seems, and but little time." Jargeau advanced to his side and said, in a
whisper, "That beast is half drunk. Take care of him. You remember it is
the Chateau of Mauzé you are going to. He may turn refractory."

"Oh, no fear," replied Master Ned. "I can drive him as well as any other
ass. I have driven him before. Mauzé?--that is upon the road to Niort,
is it not?"

"Yes," answered the other. "Where the road forks, keep to the right, and
then straight on: you cannot miss it. I think the moon will get the
better of the clouds and shine out."

"Good!" said the youth. "We want a little light."

Thus saying, he struck the horse with his heel, and the beast started
forward. Pierrot, who by this time had contrived to mount, followed, and
Jargeau returned to the cottage, as he said, to put out the light.



CHAPTER III.


There had been something a little peculiar in the way in which Master
Ned had pronounced the words, "We want a little light," which, if
Jargeau had remarked the curl of his lip as they were uttered, might
have induced him to turn his horse's head toward Rochelle instead of
Fontenay; for in truth the lad spoke of other than moonlight. Ned rode
on in silence, however, for some minutes, along a small road, or rather
path, which led from the old cottage, first to a small straggling
village, such as is still to be seen in the Bocage and its neighborhood,
and then to a place of junction with the highroad running from Marans to
Mauzé. It was called a highroad then, God wot; but it has fallen into a
second-class way now, and was in all but name a very low road always.

Pierrot was silent too,--not that he had not a strong impulse toward
eloquence upon him, but that he felt a certain confusion of thought
which did not permit of seeing distinctly which was the head, which the
tail, of a subject. The last draught of brandy had been a deep one. Yet
Pierrot was practised in all the various phases of drunkenness, and in
general knew how to carry his liquor discreetly; but this was in fact
the reason that he abstained from using his tongue, feeling an intense
conviction that it would either speak some gross nonsense, or betray
some secret, or commit some other of those lamentable blunders in which
drunken men's tongues are wont to indulge, if he once opened his mouth.

It was not an easy task to keep quiet, it is true; and, had he not been
a very experienced man, he could not have accomplished it. But the
struggle was soon brought to a conclusion; for, when they had ridden
about half a mile, Master Ned turned sharp upon him, and asked,
abruptly, "What was that Jargeau said to you, just as we were coming
away, Pierrot?"

"Oh, nothing," answered Pierrot, in a muddled voice, "but to lead you
right."

"Where?" demanded the lad, sternly.

"Why, to Mauzé, to-be-sure," replied Pierrot.

"What a pity he gave himself such unnecessary trouble!" answered the
lad, in a quiet tone: "neither you nor I go to Mauzé to-night, Pierrot."

"Then where, in Satan's name, are you going?" demanded his companion,
checking his horse.

"To Rochelle," replied Master Ned. "Jog on, Maître Pierrot. It is the
next turn on the right we take, I think. Jog on, I say. Why do you
stop?"

"Because I ought to go back and tell Jargeau, and ask him what I am to
do," answered the other, half bewildered with drink and astonishment.

"You are to do what I tell you, and to do it at once," replied the lad;
"and, if you do not, I have got a persuader here which will convince you
sooner than any other argument I can use." And as he spoke he drew one
of the large horse-pistols of that day from beneath his cloak and
pointed it straight at Pierrot's head. "It is the same argument that
stopped your running away and leaving us in the enemy's teeth at St.
Martin's-in-Rhé," he said.

"You young devil, the ball is in my leg still," answered Pierrot. "But
this is not fair, Master Ned. You might be right enough then, for you
thought I was going to betray you; though, on my life and soul, I was
only afraid. Now you want me to disobey those I am bound to serve, and
do not even give me a reason."

"I will give you a reason, though I have not much time, for fear the
powder in the pan should get damp," replied the boy; "but my reason is
that I was told to go to Rochelle and see Maître Clement Tournon; and
therefore I am going. Now, in the Isle de Rhé I did not think you were
going to betray us, and knew quite well it was mere fear; but at present
I do think Jargeau is seeking to betray me,--or mislead me, which is as
bad. At all events, you have got to go with me to Rochelle, or have the
lead in your head, Pierrot: so choose quickly, because you know I do not
wait long for any one."

"Well, I vow you are too hard upon me, Master Ned," said Pierrot, in a
whimpering tone. "You take the very bread out of my mouth and give me
over to the vengeance of that cold-blooded devil Jargeau."

"You will find me a worse devil still," replied Master Ned, coldly; but
even as he spoke he fell into a fit of thought, and then added, "Listen
to me, Pierrot, if the brandy has left you any brains, or ears either. I
want a man like you to go with me a long way, perhaps. It will not be I
who pay you, for I have got little enough, as you know; but I will be
your surety that you shall be well paid as long as you serve well. I
know you to the bottom. You are honest at heart, whether you are drunk
or sober; though liquor has not the same effect upon you as upon most
men. You are brave enough when you are sober, but a terrible coward when
you are drunk. Now, if you like to go with me, you shall have enough to
live on, and to get drunk on, when I choose to let you get drunk."

"How often will that be?" asked Pierrot, interrupting him.

"I will make no bargain," answered the lad; "but this much I will say:
you may drink whenever I do not tell you I have important business on
hand. When I do tell you that, you shall taste nothing stronger than
water."

"Good! good!" said Pierrot: "strong water you mean, of course."

"Well-water," said the lad, sharply. "But, remember, I am not to be
trifled with. As to Jargeau, I will take care he does nothing to injure
you. If it be as I think, I have got his head under my belt, and he will
soon know that it is so. Now choose quickly, for we have stood here too
long."

"Well, I'll go," said Pierrot; "but I am terribly afraid of that
Jargeau. However, your pistol is nearest; and so I'll go. I know you are
not to be trifled with, well enough; but I must find some way of letting
Jargeau know I have left him. It would be a shame to go without telling
him, you know, Master Ned."

"We shall find means enough in Rochelle of sending him word," answered
the lad, putting up his pistol and resuming his journey.

Pierrot followed with sundry half-articulate grunts; but he appeared
soon to recover both good humor and spirits, for ere they had gone half
a mile he burst forth into song, broken and irregular indeed, now a
scrap from one lay, now from another; but, at all events, the music
seemed to show that no very heavy thing was resting on his mind. His
rambling scraps of old ditties ran somewhat as follows:--

    "Whither go you on this dark, dark night,
            Wayfaring cavalier?
    Go you to love, or go you to fight?
    Either is better by clear moonlight,
            Venturous cavalier.

"By my life, the moon is beginning to break through,--though how she
will manage it I don't know; for there is mud enough in yonder sky to
swallow up the tallest horse I ever rode.

    "Oh, tell-tale moon,
    You are up too soon
      For the long train of kisses yet on the way.
    Your eyes so bright
    Make all the world light:
      We might just as well kiss in the full of the day.

"She has got behind the cloud again. Moons and maidens don't know their
own minds.

    "Katy went to the cupboard-door,
          Ah, Katy, Katy!
    What want you in your grandam's store?
          Cunning little Katy.

    "She went quietly over the floor:
         Fie, Katy, Katy!
    No use of the lock, no use of the door,
         Against that little Katy.

    "She's put away her own little snood:
         Fie, little Katy!
    She has got on her grandmother's hood:
         Can that be pretty Katy?

    "She has opened the back door into the wood:
         Beware! Katy, Katy;
    Such sly marches never bode good
         To any little Katy.

    "But there's a priest with the yeoman tall:
         Is that it, little Katy?
    And now she is wedded and bedded and all,
         And no more little Katy."

The concluding stanzas, if they were neither very excellent nor very
tender, were at least an indication that his mind was settling down into
a calmer state than when he began. They were connected, at all events;
and continuity of thought is a great approach to reason, which dwelleth
not in the brains of any man together with much brandy. The finer spirit
was, therefore, apparently getting the better of the coarser; and Master
Ned thought the time was come for him to take advantage of the change of
dynasty and see whether he could not obtain some advantage from the new
ruler.

"Well, Pierrot," he said, "this is a very pretty business you have been
engaged in. After having had the honor of serving the King of England
and fighting for the liberty of the Protestants of France, you have been
persuaded to aid in trying to betray me into the hands of the enemy,
though you did not know that I might not be the bearer of important
messages to your own people."

"Whew!" cried Pierrot, with a long whistle. Now, whistles mean all kinds
of things, from the ostracism of a play-house gallery to the signal of
love or housebreaking; but the whistle of good Pierrot was decidedly a
whistle of astonishment, and so Master Ned interpreted it.

"Do not affect ignorance or surprise, Pierrot," he said: "that will not
do with me. Jargeau is a traitor: that is clear."

"Well, well, Master Ned," interposed his companion, "you are a mighty
sharp lad, beyond question; but sometimes you ride your horse too fast,
notwithstanding. Just stop a bit till my head gets a little--a very
little bit--clearer, and I'll set you right. As you think the matter
worse than it is, I may as well show you it is better. I don't mean to
say they did not want to trick you; but not the way you fancy."

"Why, are not all the towns round in the hands of the Papists?" asked
the lad. "We have had that news in England for the last four months."

"No, no, no," answered Pierrot: "the Papists may have the upper hand in
most of them, it is true; but stop a bit, and I'll tell you all clearly.
Your long pistol half sobered me; and when I can get to a spring and put
my head in, that will wash out the rest of the brandy. It is of no use
giving you a muddled tale."

"Take care you do not make one up," answered Master Ned. "I shall find
you out in five minutes."

Pierrot laughed. "I'd as soon try to cheat the devil," he said. "But let
us ride on. There is a well just where the roads cross, and it will
serve my turn. Brandy is a fine thing, but a mighty poor counsellor."

The lad followed the suggestion, for he did not wish to give his
companion too much time to think, and, urging their horses on, in about
five minutes they reached the spot where two highways crossed, and where
a large stone trough received the waters of a beautiful and plentiful
spring, affording solace to many a weary and thirsty horse in those days
of saddle-travelling. There Pierrot dismounted, slowly and deliberately,
for he could not precisely ascertain to what extent he retained a
balancing power till his feet touched the ground. With more directness
of purpose, however, than could have been expected, he made his way to
the trough, and, kneeling down, plunged his head once or twice into the
cool water. He then rose, with his long rugged black hair still
streaming; and, after the horses had been suffered to drink, the two
travellers resumed their way. The moon by this time had completely
scattered the clouds; glimpses of dark-blue sky appeared between the
broken masses, and the keen eye of the young lad could mark every
change in the expression of Pierrot's face as he went on.

"Now, Master Ned," he said, "I think my noddle has got clear enough of
the fumes to let you know something of what people have been about here,
which you do not know rightly, I can see. Rochelle is going to be taken
by the Catholics: that's clear to me."

"Unless the great Duke of Buckingham drive the Catholics beyond the
Loire, it must be taken," answered the lad. "You can never stand against
all France. But what makes you give up hope, Pierrot?"

"First, the King of France, and his devil of a Cardinal, are drawing
together a great army all around us," answered Pierrot,--"a greater army
than ever approached Rochelle before. That we could manage to resist,
perhaps. But then they are going very coolly to work fortifying every
town and well-pitched village of the Papists within fifty miles of the
city, and filling them with soldiers, so that every egg that comes to
market will have to be fought for. Well, that we could perhaps manage
too, for we could get supplies from England. But look here, Master Ned:
there are two parties in Rochelle. Our best lords and wisest citizens,
our chief generals and captains, know well that our only hope is in the
support of England; but there is a more numerous, if not a stronger,
party, who do not like your great duke, would have nothing to do with
your good country, and would have us stand alone and fight it out by
ourselves. One of their chief men is Jargeau."

"I see," said the lad. "But what did he seek by trying to entrap me to
go to Mauzé?"

"First, your letters were likely either to fall into the hands of the
Catholics, and, by showing how firmly Rochelle could count upon English
help, frighten them and make them reasonable," answered Pierrot, "or,
secondly, they might fall into the hands of Miguet and his other
friends, who would take care they should never reach their destination.
That was the plan, Master Ned."

"And not a bad plan, either," answered the other, thoughtfully,
"supposing I had any letters. But, as you say, Rochelle is in a bad
way; for, if her leaders are afraid to let each other know their exact
position and what they may count upon, she is a house divided against
herself, and cannot stand. But what made Jargeau think I had letters?
Nobody told him so, I think."

"No; but they told him you would have messages for our principal
people," answered Pierrot,--adding, not unwilling, perhaps, to show a
little scorn for one whose strong will had exercised what may be called
an unnatural ascendency over him more than once, "and Jargeau never
believed that they would trust messages to such a young boy as you."

"He must have thought my memory very bad," replied the lad, "not to be
able to carry a message from England to France. But my memory is not so
bad, good Pierrot, as he may find some day. At all events, if Rochelle
is to be lost by the intrigues of a man who does not choose his comrades
to know where succor lies when they like to seek it, all the world shall
know who ruined a good cause. But I suppose, Pierrot, all he told me of
the meeting of the Reformed leaders at Mauzé was a mere lure."

"No, no; it is all true," answered Pierrot. "The prince is there, and
Rohan, and a dozen of others; and if you could have got safe through
without the loss of your bags, you would have found some of those you
want; but I suppose he had provided against that. I don't know: he never
told me; but it is likely."

"Very likely," replied Master Ned; "but you say 'some of those I want.'
I only want one person; and him I must see if it be possible. Is Maître
Clement Tournon in the city?"

"He is not with those in the Chateau of Mauzé," replied Pierrot. "I know
little of him. He is a goldsmith,--a very quiet man?"

"Probably," answered the lad: "quiet men are the best friends in this
world. So, on to Rochelle! Will they let us pass the gates at night?"

"'Tis a hard question to answer," said Pierrot. "Sometimes they are very
strict, sometimes lax enough. But it is somewhat late, young lad, and,
if none of the guard is in love with moonlight, we shall find them all
asleep."

"Asleep in such times as these!" exclaimed the young man.

"Why, either the Papists are trying to throw us off our guard," said
Pierrot, "or they are too busy cutting off each others' heads to mind
ours. They have not troubled us much as yet. True, they have taken a
town or two, and stopped some of our parties into the country, and begun
what they call lines; but not a man of their armies has come within
cannon-shot. And there is not much more strictness than in the times of
the _little war_ which has been going on for the last fifty years. But
the people in the town vary from time to time. When one man commands,
the very nose of a Catholic will be fired at; and, when another is on
duty, the gates will be opened to Schomberg, or the devil, or any one
else who comes in a civil manner. But there is Rochelle peeping over the
trees yonder, just as if she had come out to see the moon shine."

"Well, then, mark me, good Pierrot," said Master Ned, "I expect you to
do all you can to make them open the gates to us. You understand what
that means, I suppose?"

"That I shall have a shot in my other leg or through my head if I do
not, I presume," answered Pierrot. "But don't be afraid. When you have
given me a crown, I shall have taken service with you; and then you
know, or ought to know, I will serve you well."

The lad, it would seem, had some reason to judge that the estimate which
his companion put upon such a bond was just. Indeed, in those days the
act of taking service, confirmed by earnest-money, implied much more
than it does in our more enlightened times. Then a man who had thus
bound himself thought himself obliged to let nobody cheat his master but
himself, to feel a personal interest in his purposes and in his safety.
Now, alas! we hire a man to rob us himself and help all others to rob
us,--to brush our coats in the evening, and cut our throats in the
morning if we have too many silver spoons. However, Master Ned put his
hand into his pocket and pulled out a piece of money, which he held out
to Pierrot, who seemed for a moment to hesitate to take it. "I wish I
had told Jargeau I was going to quit him," he said: "not that he ever
gave me a sol, but plenty of promises. How much is it, Master Ned?"

"A spur rial," replied the boy,--"worth a number of your French crowns."

"Lead us not into temptation!" cried Pierrot, taking and pocketing the
money. "And now tell me what I am to do."

"All you can to make them open the gates," answered Master Ned. "You
have got the word, of course?"

"Nay, 'faith, not I," replied Pierrot: "Jargeau got it this evening, but
I did not think of asking. Never mind, however: all the people in
Rochelle know me, and I will get in if any one can."

He was destined to be disappointed, however. In the little suburb, just
before the gate, he and his companion passed a little tavern where
lights were burning and people singing and making a good deal of noise;
but it was in vain that Pierrot knocked at the large heavy door or
shouted through a small barred aperture. No one could be made to hear;
and he and Master Ned were forced to retreat to one of the cabarets of
the faubourg and await the coming of daylight.



CHAPTER IV.


"Who is that boy?" said one of the early shopkeepers of Rochelle,
speaking to his neighbor, who was engaged in the same laudable
occupation as himself,--namely, that of opening his shop for the
business of the day. At the same time he pointed out a handsome lad,
well but plainly dressed, who was walking along somewhat slowly toward
the better part of the city. "Who is that boy, I wonder?"

"He's a stranger, by that cloak with the silver lace," replied the
other: "most likely come over in the ship that nearly ran upon the pier
last night. He carries a sword, too. Those English make monkeys even of
their children; but he is a good looking youth nevertheless, and bears
himself manly. Ah! there is that worthless vagabond, Pierrot la Grange,
speaking to him. And now Master Pierrot is coming here. I will have
naught to do with him or his." And, so saying, he turned into his shop.

The other tradesman waited without, proposing in his own mind to ask
Pierrot sundry questions regarding his young companion; for, although he
had no curiosity, as he frequently assured his neighbors, yet he always
liked to know who everybody was, and what was his business.

Pierrot, however, had only had time to cross over from the other corner
of the street and ask, in a civil, and even sober, tone, where the
dwelling of Monsieur Clement Tournon could be found, when the good
tradesman exclaimed, "My life! what is that?" and instantly darted
across the street as fast as a somewhat short pair of legs could carry
him.

Now, the street there was not very wide; but it was crossed by one much
broader within fifty yards of the spot where the shopkeeper was
standing, called in that day "Rue de l'Horloge." It may have gone by a
hundred names since. The street was quite vacant, too, when Pierrot
addressed the tradesman; but the moment after, two sailors came up the
Rue de l'Horloge, and one of them, as soon as he set eyes on Master Ned,
who was standing with his back to the new-comers, laid his hand upon his
shoulder and said something in a tone apparently not the most civil, for
the lad instantly shook himself free, turned round, and put his hand
upon the hilt of the short sword he carried. It seemed to the good
shopkeeper that he made an effort to draw it; but whether it fitted too
close, or it had got somewhat rusted to the scabbard during the previous
rainy night, it would not come forth; and in the mean time the sailor
struck him a thundering blow on the head with a stick he carried. The
youth fell to the ground at once, but he did not get up again, and the
two tradesmen ran up, crying, "Shame! shame! Seize the fellow!"

"You've killed him, Tom, by the Lord!" cried the other sailor. "You
deserve hanging; but get back to the ship if you would escape it. Quick!
quick! or they will stop you."

"He was drawing his sword on me!" cried our friend Tom, whose
quarrel--not the first one--with Master Ned we have already seen as the
ship neared the Isle of Rhé. But, not quite confident in the
availability of his excuse, he took his companion's advice and began to
run, turning the corner of the Rue de l'Horloge. One of the tradesmen
pursued him, however, shouting, "Stop him! stop him!" and the malevolent
scoundrel had not run thirty yards, when he was seized by a strong,
middle-aged man, who was walking up the street with an elderly companion
and was followed by two common men dressed as porters.

The sailor made a struggle to get free, but it was in vain; and the
shopkeeper, who was pursuing, soon made the whole affair known to his
captors.

The elderly man with the white beard put one or two questions to the
prisoner, to which he received no reply; for since that untoward event
of the Tower of Babel the world is no longer of one speech, and Tom was
master of no other than his own.

"Take him to the prison," said the old man, addressing the two men who
had been following him. "Do not use him roughly, but see that he does
not escape."

"He shall not get away, Master Syndic," replied one of the porters; and,
while the syndic was speaking a few whispered words to his companion,
Tom was carried off to durance vile.

The two gentlemen then walked on with the tradesman by their side, and
were soon on the spot where the assault had been committed. By this time
a good many people had gathered round poor Master Ned; and the other
English sailor had lifted the lad's head upon his knee, while Pierrot
was pouring some water on his face. The shopkeeper, to whom the latter
had been speaking when the misadventure had occurred, was trying to
stanch the blood which flowed from a severe cut on the head; but the
moment he saw the syndic approach he exclaimed, "Ah, Monsieur Clement
Tournon, this poor lad was inquiring for you when that brute felled
him."

"Indeed!" said the old man, with less appearance of interest than might
perhaps have been expected. "Leave stopping the blood: its flow will do
him good; and some one carry him to my house, where he shall be well
tended."

Pierrot had risen from his knee as the syndic spoke, and now whispered a
word in his ear, which he evidently thought of much consequence; but the
old man remained unmoved, merely saying, "Not quite so close, my friend!
I tell you he shall be well tended. Neighbor Gasson, for charity, call
two or three of your lads and let them carry the poor lad up to my
dwelling."

At this moment the younger and stouter man who had seized and held
Master Ned's brutal assailant suggested that it would be better to take
the boy to his dwelling, as it was next door but one to the house of the
famous physician Cavillac.

"Nay, nay, Guiton," replied the syndic, "my poor place is hard by; and
yours," he added, in a lower tone, "may be too noisy. You go and send
down the doctor,--though I think the lad is but stunned, and will soon
be well again. Pierrot la Grange, follow us up, if you be, as you say,
his servant,--though how he happened to hire such a drunken fellow I
know not. Yes, I know you, Master Pierrot, though you have forgotten
me." Thus saying, he drew the personage whom he had called Guiton aside
and spoke to him during a few moments in a whisper. In the mean time,
two or three stout apprentices had been called forth from the
neighboring houses; and the youth, being raised in their arms, was being
carried along the Rue de l'Horloge. Clement Tournon followed quickly,
leaving his friend Guiton at the corner; and at the tenth door on the
left-hand side the party stopped and entered the passage of a tall house
standing somewhat back from the general line of the street. It was
rather a gloomy-looking edifice, with small windows and heavy doors
plated on the inner side with iron; but whether sad or cheerful mattered
little to poor Master Ned, for the state of stupor in which he lay was
not affected by the act of bearing him thither, nor by the still more
troublesome task of carrying him up a narrow stairs. That he was not
dead his heavy breathing showed; but that was almost the only sign of
life which could be discovered by a casual observer.

"Carry him into the small room behind the saloon," said Clement
Tournon, who was at this time following close; and in another minute the
lad was laid upon a bed in a room situated in the back of the house,
where little noise could penetrate, and which was cheerful and airy
enough.

"Thank you, lads; thank you!" said the syndic, speaking to the
apprentices. "Now leave us. You, Pierrot la Grange, stay here: undress
him and get him between the sheets."

The noise and the little crowd going up the steps had brought forth
several women-servants, belonging to Monsieur Tournon's household, in
large, helmet-shaped, white caps; and, after gazing in silence for a
moment or two, with wonder and compassion, upon the handsome pale
countenance, all bedabbled with blood, of the poor lad, they began to
make numerous suggestions to their master, who answered nothing, but
inquired, "Where is Lucette?"

She was gone, they told him, to Madame Loraine's school; and then,
rejecting all their counsels, and merely telling them that Dr. Cavillac
would soon be there, he ordered the room to be cleared of every one but
Pierrot and himself.

The old syndic paused for a moment or two after his commands had been
obeyed, gazing upon the pale face before him with a look of greater
interest than he had yet suffered to appear upon his countenance. Then,
suddenly turning to Pierrot, he said, "Now tell me all you know about
this youth. Who is he? What did he come hither for? What is his business
with me?"

"What is his business with you, Monsieur Tournon? I do not know,"
replied Pierrot la Grange. "What he came hither for was to bring letters
or messages from England; and as to who or what he is or was, that is
very simple. He is Lord Montagu's page."

"And his name?" asked the syndic.

"We used to call him Master Ned," replied Pierrot. "That was when I was
with the English army in the Isle de Rhé; but his name by rights, I
believe, is Edward Langdale." The old man continued silent; and Pierrot,
whose tendency to loquacity easily broke bounds, went on to tell how
Etienne Jargeau had received, some days before, information that Master
Ned would arrive upon the coast on business of importance, with
directions to have a small beacon-fire lighted that night, and every
night after, on a little hill just above the _trou bourbé_, till the lad
appeared. "You know Jargeau used to be a retainer of the Prince de
Soubise, monsieur," Pierrot continued; "but of late he has left his
service and has gone over--some say bought--to the French party."

"I trust we are all of the true French party," replied Monsieur Tournon.
"But the lad landed last night, you say. Had he no baggage with him?"

"Yes, two large leather bags with padlocks on them," rejoined Pierrot:
"they are left safe under lock and key at the Coq d'Or, where we were
obliged to rest last night because the guard was so sound asleep that we
could not wake them to let us in."

"Ay? so sluggardly? This must be amended," said the syndic. "At the Coq
d'Or, in the suburb? That is no safe place for such bags."

"So I was just thinking," replied Pierrot: "I will go up and fetch them.
He has got the key of the room in his pocket."

The worthy gentleman made a movement toward the bed, as if to take
the key; but Clement Tournon stopped him with a somewhat sarcastic
smile, saying, "If the Coq d'Or is no safe depository, Pierrot la Grange
is no safe messenger."

The man's face flushed. "You do me wrong, sir!" he exclaimed. "Bad
enough I may be; but I never stole a thing in my life."

"Not a cup of brandy?" asked the syndic, with another smile.

Pierrot laughed. "Fair booty, fair booty!" he cried: "strong waters are
fair booty everywhere, monsieur."

"Well, I suspect you of nothing worse," replied Tournon; "but, if you
were once to go for the bags, Heaven knows when we should see you again;
and then you would come without the bags; for there would be plenty of
people to lighten you of your load. Besides, the people of the cabaret
would not let you take them. I will send my head-polisher with you and
give him an order to receive the baggage in my name. They dare not
refuse my order. Get the key gently. I do not love putting my hands into
other people's pockets."

As soon as the key had been obtained, Clement Tournon led his companion
into a large, curious-looking apartment on the floor below, where round
the room appeared a number of dingy glass cases, through the small panes
of which came the gleam of various articles of gold and silver, while in
different parts of the room were several anvils and work-benches, with
some half-dozen men filing, hammering, and polishing. Near the window
was a tall desk within a sort of iron cage, and two clerks writing.
Every thing was orderly in the house of Clement Tournon; and, advancing
to one of the scribes, he directed him to write the order he had
promised, saw it made out and signed it, and then called a strong,
middle-aged man from a bench, whom he ordered to accompany Pierrot to
the tavern and return with him. He then took his way back to the little
room behind the great saloon and sat down by the bedside of Master Ned,
murmuring, "Poor boy! poor boy! He reminds me of my own poor Albert."

Ere five minutes were over, he was joined by the physician,--a man
celebrated in his day, well advanced in years, and with that peculiar
look of mysterious noncompromising solemnity which many a doctor still
affects, and which was then as necessary to the profession as rhubarb.
As a description of medical treatment in those times, though it might
prove in some degree interesting to those who are fond of "picking the
bare bone of antiquity," would neither interest nor instruct the general
reader, I will pass over in silence all the remedial means resorted to
in the case of Master Ned. I only know that cataplasms were applied to
the soles of his feet, and that some blood was taken from his arm. The
doctor, after examination, declared that the skull was not
fractured,--which might well have been the case; for, by a curious
arrangement of nature, those whose brains are the best worth preserving
have uniformly the thinnest cases in which to put them. "No, the skull
was not fractured," Monsieur Cavillac said; but the lad had received a
severe concussion of the brain, which was sometimes worse. He, however,
held out good hope, though he told the syndic that he did not
anticipate any change till the sun went down, and read him a lecture
upon the effect of the various changes of the moon, and even of the day,
upon the human frame, assuring him--a fact in which many still
believe--that a scotched viper never dies till the sun sets.

After he was gone, Clement Tournon took care to have all the directions
carried out to the letter, and the cataplasms had just been prepared and
applied when Pierrot and the polisher returned with the bags.

"Take him below," said the syndic, addressing his workman, and
indicating Pierrot by a nod of his head toward him,--"take him below,
and let him feed with our people; but take care that he does not get at
strong drink. Now, keep this place as quiet as possible, but tell old
Marton to come here in half an hour: for I have affairs, and must go at
that time."

"Can I not stay and attend upon my young master?" asked Pierrot, in a
respectful tone.

"No," said the syndic, dryly: "men who drink are always noisy."

When left alone with the door shut, what imaginations came upon the good
old merchant! "Would that I knew the lad's errand!" he thought; and his
eyes turned toward the bags, which had been set down at the foot of the
bed. "His letters must be in there," said Tournon to himself, "and the
key of the padlocks is doubtless in his pocket."

Ah, Mr. Syndic, it is a moment of temptation.

"Perhaps his business is matter of life and death, and an hour even may
be of vast consequence to me, to the city, to the Protestant cause.
Indeed, it must be so, or they never would have sent him over in such
stormy weather." So said fancy,--a quality much more nearly allied to
curiosity than people think; and Clement Tournon rose from his seat. But
the fine moral sense that was in him interfered. "No, never!" he said;
"no, never! I will not touch them so long as he lives. They shall not be
fingered by any one in my house."

Still, he felt strongly tempted; and after a while he rose again and
went to call Marton, feeling it would be better for him not to remain in
that room alone. His large-capped pippin-faced maid-servant was then
duly imbued with all the doctor's directions, warned to change the
cataplasms every two hours and to keep the wet cloths on the head cool;
and then Clement Tournon walked forth from his house toward the fine old
town-hall.

Marton sat and sewed. The invalid did not stir, and an hour passed by.
"It must be time to change the cataplasms," she thought: "he will not
wake till I come back: would Heaven he could, poor lad!" and down she
went to the kitchen where what she needed had been left to keep warm.

In the mean time, we may as well look about the room. It was a very
pretty little chamber, well and even luxuriously furnished withal. Two
windows looked out to the back court, and the sunshine came in over a
lower house behind. The rays first fell upon a small writing-desk of
dark carved oak, then touched upon a small bookcase in the same style,
well provided with books, and then upon a large armory, as it was then
called, or wardrobe, as we should now term it. There was moreover a
corner cupboard, also richly carved, with a glass door on two sides,
showing a number of little knick-knacks selected with great taste, some
ivory figures exquisitely cut, and a child's sampler of not the best
needlework.

Suddenly the door opened, and, with a quick step, but so light that one
could not hear a footfall, there entered a creature that seemed like a
dream, or a fairy, or a wreath of morning mist with fancy to shape it
into the form of a young girl. She could not be more than fifteen years
of age; but yet there were traces of early womanhood in neck and
shoulders and rounded limbs. But we may have to describe her hereafter,
and here we only stop to speak of the look of strange surprise which
opened the long, blue, deeply-fringed eyes more wide, and expanded the
nostril of the delicate nose, and raised the arched eyebrow, and showed
the pearl-like teeth between the rosy lips, as she beheld the pale and
bloody figure of the poor lad lying upon her own bed. She stood for a
moment in silent astonishment, and then was approaching slowly on
tiptoe--as if her foot could have made any noise--toward the bedside,
when a soft voice behind her said, "Lucette."

She started and turned round, and the old syndic, who stood in the
doorway, beckoned her into the passage beyond.

"My dear child," he said, "I have been obliged to give your room to a
poor young lad who has been sadly hurt, because it was the only one
where he could have perfect quiet. I will put you in the blue room on
the other side, where you may have some noise; but I know your good
heart will not let you feel annoyed at giving up your chamber for a day
or two to him and our good Marton, who has to nurse him."

"I will nurse him myself," said the young girl, "or at least help
Marton. Annoyed, grandfather? Could you think I would be annoyed in such
a case as his? Poor fellow! I will go and speak to him." And, before the
old man could tell her that it was in vain, she ran up to the bedside,
and said, in a low, sweet voice, "Be of good cheer, young gentleman: we
will nurse and tend you till you are quite well."

Her lips almost touched his ear as she spoke; and, whether it was that
the soft breath fanned him sweetly, or that the sound of a woman's
tongue had something that found a way to his heart when even hearing
failed, Ned Langdale turned suddenly in his bed, murmuring, "Mother,
dear mother, do not leave me."



CHAPTER V.


About nine o'clock in the evening the invalid wakened to a consciousness
of existence; but how wild and strange a consciousness! His speech was
incoherent, his eye vague and wandering. He seemed to make vehement
efforts to recover the power of reason and thought; but it was all in
vain. If in answer to a question he uttered a few connected words, the
next instant all was confused and senseless in the attempt at a
sentence; and, when Dr. Cavillac visited him at half-past ten, his pulse
was beating as if it would have burst the artery, and his eyes were
bloodshot and wild.

"Perfect silence, absence of light, with diet and blood-letting," said
the doctor,--"those are the only means to save him. Thank Heaven, he is
finely delirious. He can neither understand nor try to answer any
question. If he could but reason and talk, he were a dead youth. Now,
mark me, syndic: let there be a finger on every lip; let everybody in
your house be dumb for the next three days. If he speak, do not answer
him. If he do not speak, keep silence. Give him the drinks I told you;
and to-morrow I will bleed him again. In three days we shall know more,
and probably at that time he will recover his senses, it may be for
life, it may be for death; but all depends upon good nursing."

The prognosis of the physician was verified. At the end of three days
Edward Langdale did recover his senses; but some events had taken place
in the mean time which must be noticed before we follow his history
further. We must, in the first place, begin with that most interesting
personage, Master Pierrot, who is going to be introduced in a new
character,--that of a philosopher. Although the press very generally
assumes the form of majesty, and indulges in the plural number, probably
in the proud consciousness of its sovereign power over the minds, and
perhaps the bodies, of a certain number of human beings, it was with no
such vain confidence that the last sentence began, "We must," &c. That
formula was merely adopted to include you and me, dear reader, who,
having to jog over a good space of country together, had better agree
upon our line of travel before we set out upon each day's journey. It
was, therefore, merely a sort of suggestion on my part that we should
first look after Pierrot, and to be understood as implying nothing more.

Now, during the last few hours Pierrot had met with a number of severe
mortifications,--those somewhat sharp lessons of life which sometimes do
a man a great deal of good. In the first place, poor Master Ned had, in
very plain language, told him that he was a coward when drunk, if he was
a brave man when sober; and, as there was a certain consciousness in
Pierrot's breast that there was a good deal of truth in the lad's
assertion, of course the accusation was the more unpalatable. Secondly,
the conduct of Clement Tournon showed him that one bad habit could
deprive and had deprived him of the last scrap of confidence amongst
people of any character; and, lastly, the refusal to let him attend upon
his young master showed that even his fidelity and affection were
doubted. Now, Pierrot was really an affectionate fellow, and this
mortified him more than any thing else. It is probable that many a time
in life, since by an evil practice he had lost wealth and station and
consideration, Pierrot had resolved to cast the vice from him. He might
have so resolved a hundred or a hundred and fifty times; but he had
never kept his resolution. Never before, however, had any one doubted
his qualities of heart; and on the present occasion, with a good deal of
time to spare,--in fact, it was all to spare, as he sat in the kitchen
or passages of the syndic's house,--he bestowed the golden superfluity
upon thought. His mind was not naturally a weak one, though there is no
denying that it had been weakened by intemperance; and it was now making
a great effort.

"So," he said to himself, "I am not even to be trusted in the boy's
sick-room. Well, that is somewhat hard. No, it is not. The old man is
quite right. He knows I am a drunken rascal, and thinks I am not to be
trusted in any thing. Hang me if I have not a mind to make him think
better of me. But it is of no use: I should only begin again. Why need I
begin again at all? Master Ned knows me better than any of them; and he
only requires me not to drink when there is any thing important in the
wind. He knows I cannot help it at other times. But why cannot I help it
at other times, if I can help it then? I can help it if I like; and, by
Heaven, I will not drink any more, except when he gives me leave; and
I'll ask him never to give me leave. So we will settle the matter that
way. I do love that lad, though he gave me a shot in the leg to keep me
from running away and disgracing myself. I did not drink one drop last
night at the inn, because he told me not. I am mighty sick at my
stomach, however. I wish I had a drop of brandy, just to settle it. I
have a mind to go out and get just one gill to settle it,--only one
gill. No, I won't; for then I should take another, and so forth. It
shall not be said that my young master was lying sick and I went and
got drunk. Let my stomach take care of itself; and, if it chooses to be
sick, it must be so. I wonder if he will die, poor boy. He has a good
heart, though he is as hasty as a tinker's cur, and as stern as a
general. Marton," he continued, to the good woman who entered seeking
something, "how is Master Ned?"

"Much the same, Pierrot," answered Marton. "The doctor says there will
be no change yet a while."

"Marton, I am resolved not to drink any more," said Pierrot, in a solemn
tone.

"Keep to it," she replied, with a laugh, but evidently with very little
confidence. "Why, Pierrot la Grange, for the last ten years you have
been forever at the flask. You were a very good young man before that,
and well to do; ay, and a handsome man too. I have seldom seen a more
personable man than you were then, before you took to that filthy custom
of making a beast of yourself; but now your face is all over blotches,
and your nose is so red you might fire a cannon with it."

"Well, well, you shall see, Marton," rejoined Pierrot. "I have taken a
resolution, and fallen upon a plan by which I can keep it, too; and you
may tell the syndic that I will drink no more. Why, just now, I thought
to go out and get myself some brandy, with a spur rial--as he calls
it--which Master Ned gave me, because I am sick at the stomach; but I
resisted, and would not stir a step on account of my resolution."

"Ah! are you sick at the stomach?" said Marton, quietly. "Suppose I get
you a little cloves and strong waters."

Pierrot evidently hesitated; but then he suddenly exclaimed, "Not a
drop, Marton, thank you; not a drop. I was once sober for three whole
days, and, I dare say, should have continued so, but that fellow Jargeau
got hold of me and persuaded me to drink. It was his cue to make me
drunk then. So those who know me will never ask me to take a drop, if
they love me."

"That they certainly will not," said Marton, going away with what she
had come to fetch.

Her conversation with Pierrot had one good effect, however. She told her
master that she really believed La Grange intended not to drink any
more, not only inasmuch he told her so, but because he refused a glass
of cloves and strong waters which she had offered him on account of his
being sick at the stomach.

"Most likely sick because he has not had his morning's draught," said
Clement Tournon. "However, encourage all good resolutions, and do not
offer him any more. Marton, I will speak with him myself in the course
of the day, and can judge better than you can."

The worthy syndic could not keep his promise, however. The day passed
over, and he did not see Pierrot; for the town of Rochelle was in
considerable agitation at that time, the events passing round it being
sufficiently menacing to impress all minds with anxiety, but not
sufficiently urgent to produce unanimity by the presence of immediate
danger. Pierrot kept his resolution, however; and the day passed by
without his having tasted any fluid stronger than water. The next
morning, though he did not feel himself altogether comfortable, his
nausea had departed, and he was more bold in his purpose. About ten he
was sent for to speak with the syndic, who was much too wise a man to
ask him questions which had any relation to brandy. Clement Tournon,
however, examined him closely in regard to his knowledge of Edward
Langdale, what letters he brought, when he had sailed from England,
whether the intimations Jargeau had received had been accompanied by no
information of the young man's objects in coming to Rochelle.

"He had a long and stormy passage: that I know," answered Pierrot; "and
as to Jargeau, if he had any information he kept it to himself, as he
always does. But you can ask him himself, syndic. Whether the lad has
any letters, you should know better than I do; for, if he have, they
must be in his bags,--and you have had bags and keys too in your hands
these two days, when I have never had either at all."

"I pry not where I have no right," replied Clement Tournon, coldly. "No
hand opens his bags while he is alive and in my house. As for Jargeau,
he sees not matters as I do, or I would ask him for information. The
Lord Montagu I do not know, though you say the youth is his page; and I
cannot divine why that lord has sent him to me. Indeed, I heard his
lordship was in France."

"But he is the great Duke of Buckingham's right hand," said Pierrot;
"and perhaps Master Ned has been sent to you by the duke."

"I have some suspicion it may be so," answered the syndic. "I once had
some diamond pendants made for him in great haste; and perhaps he wishes
to employ me again."

"In making cannon-balls this time, perhaps, monsieur," said Pierrot,
dryly; but, to his surprise, the syndic answered, quite calmly, "Perhaps
so; for I am told that this morning at daybreak a fleet of ships-of-war
was descried standing in toward Rochelle, and the people thought it was
under English colors."

He looked keenly at Pierrot as he spoke; but the countenance of the
latter at once showed that he had not been trying to deceive any one as
to the amount of his knowledge; and he clapped his hands, exclaiming,
"Hurrah! We shall have some stirring times again, then, and shall not
have to lie here cooped up like rats in a trap, but have fighting every
day, and----"

"Plenty of brandy," said the syndic, finishing the sentence for him.

"Not a drop, upon my salvation!" said Pierrot.

"Well, your salvation may a good deal depend upon your keeping that
resolution," replied the syndic, "for a man does many things when he is
drunk for which drunkenness can be no excuse, though it may be an
aggravation. But hark! What is that? It was a cannon-shot, was it not?
The fleet must be nearing the town. I must to the council. Well, you may
go in and see the young gentleman. But mind, be as still as death. Say
nothing to him; and, if he recognises you, and asks you any questions,
answer shortly and quietly, and leave him. You said he was of gentle
birth, I think. You are sure he is of gentle birth?"

Though Pierrot might, and in fact did, think it strange that a merchant
of Rochelle should lay such stress upon gentle--otherwise noble--birth,
he assured the syndic, from what he had seen of the English, that all
the household pages of British noblemen were selected from good
families; and, while they were still speaking together, one of the
goldsmith's apprentices came to call the syndic to the city council,
telling him that a boat had just landed from the English fleet.

Clement Tournon called for his gown and chain; and, after giving
repeated directions to Pierrot as to his demeanor in the chamber of
Master Ned, and donned his robes in the man's presence, he proceeded to
the town-hall, followed by two of his men.

The inclinations, if not the affections, of Pierrot were divided. He
would fain have gone to the hall to know the news of the day,--news, as
it proved, much more important than he dreamed of. But then again came
the thought of his poor young master; and, being a conscientious man
when he was sober, and sometimes a conscientious man even when he was
drunk, he fancied it a duty to visit Master Ned. He soon found, however,
that he could do nothing in the world for him. The lad's mind still
wandered terribly; and, though he gave some indications of recollecting
Pierrot, he asked him no questions, and called him "My Lord Duke."
Pierrot might then have turned his steps to the hall, but in one of
Ned's half-muttered speeches the name of Jargeau was uttered; and,
remembering that personage would inevitably be at the place of meeting,
the good man thought it better to wait for tidings till the syndic
returned.

The news arrived soon enough for Pierrot's mortification, and
immediately spread through the whole house. It was to the effect that
the Lord Denbigh, in command of a powerful British fleet, had come to
offer assistance to the town of Rochelle; that there had been a warm and
even angry debate in the council, but in the end the anti-English party
had prevailed, and all that Tournon and Guiton could obtain was, that a
civil reply should be made to the English admiral, thanking him and King
Charles for their proffered aid, but declining it on the score that _no
previous intimation had been given to the citizens of the approach of a
fleet to their port_.



CHAPTER VI.

    "Sweet chimes the bell,
        O'er slope and woodland pealing,
    Mellow'd by distance to a tranquil sound;
          Sweetly the rill,
        Through moss-bank gently stealing,
            Speaks peace around.

    "Calm sinks the sun
        Unto his golden slumber,
    And folds the clouds around his radiant head:
          Up springs the moon;
        Her star-train without number
            Say, 'Nought is dead!'

    "All live again,
        Although their life be hidden;
    For the short space of earth's dominion here.
          By Heaven's own voice,
        The soul of man is bidden
            To hope midst fear.

    "All Nature's works,
        Though into ashes turning,
    Fill the whole heart with a consoling voice:--
          Be ready, man!
        And, with thy lamp still burning,
            Watch and rejoice!"


So sang Lucette,--or, rather, such is a very poor translation of her
song. At the best it was but an old ditty, composed probably by some of
the early Protestants of France. It may have been written by Clement
Marot, or his friend, the poet and printer, Lyon Jamets, for aught I
know. It is so long since I have read the works of either that I have
forgotten somewhat more than half of all their pens produced.

However, so sang Lucette in the chamber now assigned to Edward Langdale,
while Marton sat beside her, knitting, and from time to time fixing her
eyes upon the face of the invalid.

It may seem strange that Lucette should choose such a time and such a
place to indulge in music, though her voice was marvellously sweet and
had been cultivated to a degree rare in those days, and though people
who have sweet voices, well cultivated, and, moreover, the love, the
spirit, the inspiration of music in them, are fond of breaking forth
into song at very unseasonable times.

But, as it happened, it was not an unseasonable time, as Lucette herself
explained to Clement Tournon. When she turned her head, after her song
had ended, to take up her embroidery-frame, she saw the old syndic
standing in the doorway, looking somewhat surprised to hear her voice
then and there, but perfectly quiet and still. Without a word, she rose
and noiselessly approached the door, saying, in a very low voice, "He is
better. He has been speaking sensibly; but he grew drowsy after a moment
and fell asleep quite calmly, murmuring, 'Sing to me, mother; sing to
me,'--as if he did not well know where he was. So I thought it best to
humor him."

"You did right, my child," replied the syndic, putting his hand upon her
head, round which the light-brown hair with golden gleams upon it was
wound in many a long, silky tress. "The doctor is below: I hear his step
coming along the passage."

Why all doctors should have creaking shoes I never could divine; but it
is clearly an idiosyncrasy. They cannot help it. Perhaps the leather
gets affected by the close air of sick men's chambers; perhaps it
becomes imbued with sighs and groans,--a novel sort of tanning, but one
well calculated to give a creaking sound; or perhaps the doctors
themselves carry so far the necessary precaution of warming their
nethermost coverings that the material becomes too dry and cries out for
very thirst.

However that may be,--and I will not venture to decide the
question,--Dr. Cavillac's shoes did creak most lamentably; but they had
no effect upon the slumber of the poor invalid.

The doctor, the syndic, and Lucette spoke together for a few moments at
the door; but Cavillac did not go in. It is likely that he was conscious
of noisy feet. "It is critical," he said: "do not disturb him for the
world; let him sleep as long as he will. Let him be well watched; and,
when he wakes, speak low and gently to him; give him a few spoonfuls of
good old wine, (for he will be as weak as a child,) and then let me
know. You had better watch, my pretty Lucette, for there is no such good
nurse as a young girl with a kind heart,--except an old woman who does
not drink; and she is apt to have the rheumatism."

"But, doctor, Lucette must have repose, and these sleeps sometimes last
very long," said Clement Tournon. "I must not; I am bound not to let
fatigue affect her own health."

"I am not the least tired, dear father," said Lucette, with a bright
look. "His first sensible word did me more good than a whole night's
sleep. Do you think, doctor, that he will wake in his right mind again?"

"Certainly, my dear," answered the other. "I am sure he will; but his
recovery may be slow and will require much care."

"Then I will watch till he does wake," answered the beautiful young
girl. "I will watch as hopefully as ever Egyptian did to hear the
morning voice of Memnon."

"Listen to the little pagan!" said Cavillac, with a smile. "But I will
tell you a better plan, my child. He certainly will not wake for some
hours. You may see that by his great paleness. You go and lie down for a
short time; then let Marton call you. Come with me, syndic: I wish to
speak with you." And he drew the old man to the top of the stairs.

"Have you heard," he said, "that the cardinal has sent down a thousand
men to complete the lines round about us? This is growing serious."

"It is indeed!" said Clement Tournon, with a very sad look; "and those
rash men, either from obstinacy and over-confidence, or jealousy and
perhaps treachery, rejected yesterday the offer of succor from England,
and the fleet has sailed away."

"We should have had a hospital for fools long ago," said Cavillac. "It
is the great want of the city. But there are other things to be attended
to now. Send out everywhere for stores, my good friend, if you spend the
last livre of the city money. Depend upon it, this cardinal will try to
starve us out."

"He cannot do that while our port is open," answered the syndic.

"How long will it be open?" asked the physician, with a very meaning
look. "I have heard a whisper, my friend, that he will find means to
close it, either by a fleet from all the neighboring ports, or in some
other way. Look to it; look to it. There is less time to spare than the
men of Rochelle fancy."

Thus saying, he left Clement Tournon meditating in no very hopeful mood
over the state of the city, and the prospect, clear as a picture to his
calm reasoning eye, of all those horrors that were but too soon to fall
upon unhappy Rochelle. The house soon fell into profound silence: the
hours of labor were over, the sounds of hammer, tongs, and file were
still, and in about an hour Clement Tournon took his place by Edward
Langdale's bedside, sending good old Marton to seek some repose herself.
Twilight faded away into darkness; a little silver lamp was trimmed and
shaded in the corner of the chamber, and two or three hours passed in
silence, the good old man nodding from time to time, but never giving
way to sleep.

At length the light step of Lucette was heard in the deep stillness,--it
would not have been heard had there been the buzzing of a fly,--and,
approaching the bed, she gazed and listened.

"He lies sleeping sweetly," she said to the old man. "How differently he
breathes now! I can hardly hear him. Marton will be here in a minute.
Leave him to us, father, and take some rest yourself."

"As soon as she comes," answered the syndic. "What is the hour?"

"The great clock has just struck one," answered Lucette.

"I was drowsy, and did not hear it," said the syndic. "Have the wine
near, Lucette, and give him a spoonful at once when he wakes."

He made a movement toward the other side of the room as he spoke, and
Lucette took his place in the large chair; but hardly was she seated
when a voice was heard from the bed which made her start. "Where am I?"
asked Edward Langdale: "what has happened to me?"

"You are with dear friends," replied the sweet voice of Lucette at once.
"You have met with a little accident, but you are recovering fast. Here;
take a spoonful of wine. The doctor orders it."

"I will take any thing you give me," said the lad, "for I feel very
weak."

"Hush! silence! silence!" said Lucette, in a low but cheerful tone: "you
are to keep quite quiet, and take some wine from time to time, and try
to sleep again. To-morrow you will be quite well, I doubt not."

So saying, she poured the wine quietly between his lips; but the poor
lad could not refrain from saying, "That is very nice; and you are very
kind."

It is probable he would have added "and very beautiful," if he could
have descried in the dim light more than the faint outline of that fair
face and form; but Lucette replied, "I shall think you very _unkind_ if
you say one word more, except to ask for what you want."

"You understand it better than I do, Lucette, I see," said the old
syndic, in a whisper. "Woman, woman! for such tasks no hands are like
hers! But here comes Marton, and I will leave you."

The youth gazed after him as he departed, and looked at Marton curiously
as she moved slowly about the room; but his eyes found something more
satisfactory in the form of Lucette, although he could distinguish
little except that there was something graceful and more of his own age
before him, while from time to time she poured the wine between his
lips. He was feeble, however, and inclined to sleep; and before good Dr.
Cavillac, roused out of his bed, came to visit him, his eyes were again
closed, and he had relapsed into slumber.

It is one of the strange but frequent results of disease or of accident
of any kind which affects the brain, to blot out, as it were, from
memory all the events which have taken place within a certain preceding
period. It is sometimes a long, sometimes a short, period, according to
circumstances not very easily reduced to any rule. I have known a man
lose a language with which he had been for years familiar, and remember
one which he had long forgotten. I have known memory acutely distinct in
regard to events which had occurred a month or two before, and a perfect
blank as to those more recent.

Edward Langdale recollected nothing after a certain period, when he had
sped over from the town of Antwerp to London, bearing intelligence from
the Lord Montagu to the Duke of Buckingham, although he had perfectly
recovered his senses and some degree of strength, on the day following
that night when the delirium first left him. By degrees, however,
confused images of after-things began to present themselves: his voyage
from Portsmouth, the storms which had baffled and delayed his course,
even the approach to Rochelle, came back indistinctly. It only wanted,
in fact, the ringing of the bell to cause the curtain of oblivion to
rise, and the whole scene of the past to be revealed before the eyes of
memory.

There is nothing in the physical world at all like the sudden flash of
illumination carried along the many links which bind event to event in a
chain almost invisible, except the operation of the electric telegraph.
One touch applied, establishing the connection by the smallest possible
point, and thought--living thought--flashes on to its object, setting at
nought time and space and obstacle.

The connecting touch in the case of Master Ned was destined to be the
sudden appearance in his chamber of our friend Pierrot, who came in both
to see his young new master and to speak with good Clement Tournon. The
syndic held up his finger to the man as he entered, as a warning not to
trouble the young gentleman with speech, for the lad was still extremely
weak and could hardly turn in his bed. But the moment Edward Langdale
beheld him, he carried his hand suddenly to his head, saying, "Pierrot
la Grange! Pierrot la Grange! I remember it all now. Good Heaven! and I
have been lying here so long--God knows how long--and forgetting the
message to Clement Tournon! I must get up and seek him. Pierrot, get me
my clothes. I must get up."

"Lie still! lie still!" said the old syndic: "Clement Tournon is here,
my young friend. I am he. But we can have no talk now, for the physician
says you must still remain quite quiet and without agitation of any
kind."

"If you be Clement Tournon," answered the youth, "it will agitate me
more to be silent than to speak; but speak I must, if I die. Come
hither, nearer, I pray you, sir. Bend down your head. Do you remember
certain pendants of diamonds and the man you made them for? If so, give
his name in a low voice."

"The most gracious Duke of Buckingham," said the syndic, in a whisper.

"Then he bids me tell you," said Master Ned, "that his brother-in-law,
the Earl of Denbigh, will be here in three days with a puissant fleet,
and he begs you to prepare the minds of the citizens to give him a
worthy reception, for he hears you are somewhat divided here. I have
more to say; but that is the burden of it all. Pray lose no time. Good
Heavens! three days! How long have I been here?"

Clement Tournon's face assumed an expression of deep and even painful
thought for one moment; but he replied, in a calm, well-assured tone,
"Give yourself no uneasiness, my son. The whole has been settled,
notwithstanding the accident that happened to you. We will talk about
these matters more to-morrow. At present I must leave you, for I have
business of importance to transact; but Marton will tend you carefully,
and Lucette will come and sing to you, if you like it."

Do not let us pause upon the convalescence of our young friend; but for
the present at least let us follow Clement Tournon's movements, which
had some results at an after-period. He took his course straight to the
city prison, into the dark mysteries of which we need not pry.

Every prison was in those days hideous, and this, like others, had its
dungeons and cells, one hour's tenancy of which was a punishment hardly
merited by aught but murder. There was, moreover, what we should now
call a justice-room in the jail,--at least, a place where justice or
injustice was administered, according to the character of the
functionary who presided.

Here Clement Tournon seated himself by the side of one of the other
magistrates of the town, and Tom the sailor was brought before them. He
was followed by one of his companions, and by the captain of the little
vessel, which still lay in the port, while the two tradesmen who had
witnessed the assault were likewise present. The faces of the two
magistrates were grave and even stern, and probably had Master Tom shown
a swaggering and insolent air, such as he not unfrequently bore, they
might have dealt hardly with him. But Tom was one of those men whom we
not unfrequently meet with, and though apt to bully and even to fight
when he thought there was some advantage on his side, he was easily
cowed and depressed when he knew or believed that there were odds, or
even equality, on the other side. Besides, he had now been kept for
several days in what modern writers would call a loathsome cell, fed
upon bread and water, and had no companion but solitude. Now, beef and
good company are great promoters of swagger, and the absence of both had
terribly reduced Tom's usual tone. He was indeed inclined to whimper,
pleaded that he and Master Ned had quarrelled on board ship, that Ned
had attempted to draw sword upon him, and that he himself had been
drinking when he struck the blow. These excuses availed him little with
the magistrates; and, strange to say, he found no support either from
his captain or the man who had been his companion. The latter bore
testimony that when he first laid hands on the lad's shoulder he told
him "that he had got him safe on shore now, and would thrash him
soundly;" and the captain merely said, "I trust your honors will
liberate this man and put him in my hands. I warned him more than once
on the voyage to let the young gentleman alone. I suspect he has done
more mischief than he knows; and if you give him up to me I will put him
in irons till I get home, and then make him over to those who will deal
with him severely enough."

"The young gentleman is in a fair way of recovery," replied the syndic,
who understood the language in which the skipper spoke; "but a serious
offence has been committed in the streets of the city of Rochelle; and
we should certainly punish this man ourselves were it not for the honor
and respect which we bear the King of England. Much mischief he
certainly has done,--as those who sent Master Edward Langdale hither
will probably know by this time. But, captain, if you demand the
prisoner in the name of King Charles, and promise to convey full
intelligence of all that has occurred to those who are best qualified to
judge of the case, and moreover to give this man up to them, I will
speak with my friend here, who understands no English, but who probably
will agree with me that our reverence for your sovereign requires us to
follow your suggestion."

The captain willingly promised all that was demanded, and sealed his
assurance with an oath; and the prisoner was then placed in his custody.

"And now, captain, when do you set sail?" asked Clement Tournon. "The
wind is now fair, and the weather fine."

"I cannot go before Master Ned tells me," said the captain. "My cutter
is to be at his orders till he has done with her."

"I know not that he can yet write even his name," said the syndic; "but
you can come up to my house, where he now lies, this evening, and if the
physician permits he can speak with you."

"See what you have done, you d----d scoundrel!" said the captain,
turning sharply toward Tom. "I will be up at your house, sir, by five,
and hope the young gentleman will let me go, for I am tired of this
voyage."

The following morning, at daybreak, the little craft got under way,
bearing a letter in Clement Tournon's hand; and Edward Langdale remained
alone in France.



CHAPTER VII.


Oh, the calm lapses in the turbulent and turbid stream of life which
Heaven sometimes graciously affords us,--the short breathing-spaces in
the race,--the still pauses in the battle,--how sweet, how comforting
they are! Such a pause had fallen upon the city of Rochelle and all its
inhabitants. True, there were individual griefs and sufferings: the
door of the closet with the skeleton in it can never be altogether shut.
But to the city generally, and to its denizens generally, there was a
lull in the storm. It was nowhere more pleasantly felt than in the house
of good old Clement Tournon. He was a calm--a very calm--man; had been
so all his life. He had met with sorrows which had touched him deeply;
but he had borne them calmly. He had known pleasures; but he had enjoyed
them calmly. He had mingled with angry parties, and seen strife and
bloodshed; but he had been calm through all; and that very
calmness--which, by-the-way, is one of the most impressive qualities in
regard to our fellow-men which any one can possess--had won for him
great reverence upon the part of his neighbors.

Young Edward Langdale, too, shared in the temporary tranquillity. "Sweet
are the uses of adversity." It is a good text, and a true one also, if
we use the adversity wisely; but sometimes we do not; and, although
Master Ned had known more adversity than most youths of his age, we must
acknowledge that he had found it all very severe, and had not had wisdom
enough to discover honey in the stony rock. He had been hardened,
sharpened, rendered stern, in the rough school through which he had
passed. His character must have seemed to the reader somewhat harsh and
remorseless; at least so I intended it to appear. But he had now
suffered a long and heavy sickness: his frame was still feeble; his
activity, for the time at least, was lost; and some traits in his
character which seemed to have been smothered by coarser things revived
and shone out. There was a latent poetry in his nature, a love and
appreciation of all that was beautiful, a sense of harmony, and a
delight in music, together with those strong affections which are so
often combined with strength of character. These, in the body's
feebleness, asserted their power. Strange how the corporeal and the
mental wage such continual warfare upon each other! But even at times
when the bodily force and the strong will had possessed the most perfect
sway, and given him command and rule over men much older and higher than
himself, those qualities of heart and mind, though latent, had acted
unseen to win affection also.

Six days after his arrival in Rochelle, the little saloon in Clement
Tournon's house presented as calm and pleasant a scene as ever the eye
rested upon. There was the old man himself, with his small velvet cap
upon his head; and there was Master Ned, leaning back in a large chair,
with the hue of returning health coming back into his cheek,--always a
pleasant sight; and there was beautiful Lucette, who had just been
singing to the two, and who was now sitting on a low footstool, with her
fair, delicate hand resting on the head of a lute. A beautiful silver
lamp, with three burners,--modelled from those graceful lamps which we
see in the hands of the Tuscan peasantry,--gave light to the chamber;
for the wax tapers in two exquisitely-wrought candlesticks had been
extinguished to save the eyes of Master Ned from the glare; and a
water-pitcher and goblet, finely shaped from the antique and covered
with grotesque figures, stood on a little table at the youth's left
hand, to cool his lips, still dry and hot from his recent illness.

The eyes of Edward Langdale were fixed upon those specimens of the old
syndic's art, and he was expressing his admiration of the delicacy and
fineness of the designs, when Lucette observed, quietly, "He has much
more beautiful things than those, Master Ned. I wish, father, I might
bring and show him the pyx that was sent from Rome."

"Do so, my child," said Tournon. "And hark, Lucette----"

He whispered a word in the young girl's ear, and she left the room, but
returned in a minute or two, bringing with her two objects in soft
leathern covers,--one of which was a pyx, probably from the hands of
Benvenuto Cellini.

Edward took it from her hands and admired it greatly, gazing at the
various curious arabesques with which it was decorated, and at the
medallions displaying exquisitely-chiselled figures, while the old
syndic untied the other cover, and took forth a large cup, or hanap, of
pure gold, ornamented by a row of precious stones encircling it in a
sort of garland, which again was supported by some beautiful sculptured
figures. Master Ned rose feebly to lay the pyx upon the table, but the
moment his eyes lighted on the cup he stood still, gazing at it as if
sight had suspended every other faculty. "Good Heaven!" he exclaimed, at
length, addressing the merchant, who was watching him closely: "where
did you get that?"

"I bought it some four years ago, when I was in England," answered
Clement Tournon. "Something seems to surprise you. Did you ever see it
before?"

"See it!" exclaimed Master Ned. "Yes, often, my good friend,--ay,
several times every year, since I could see any thing, till just four
years ago last Martinmas. Every birthday--every festival-day--it was
brought forth; for it must be the same. Oh, yes! Is there not 'Edward
Langdale' engraved on one side of the foot, and 'Buckley Hall' upon the
other?"

"There is," said the syndic; "and that is the very reason I told Lucette
to bring it. I wished to ask you if you are any relation of those
Langdales of Buckley Hall. Edward Langdale! The two names are the same."

"They are, indeed," said Master Ned. "That cup is mine, my good friend:
at least, it ought to be,--it and much more which is now lost to me
forever."

"If it ought to be, it is thine still, my son," said the old syndic.
"Now, God forbid that I should withhold the rightful property of
another! But tell us how all this happened. Let me hear what you can
recollect of your own life and fate. I know something of Buckley Hall,
for it was in Huntingdon that I bought that cup. I would not purchase it
at first, because I thought it was stolen,--most likely from the court
of King James, who was then at Royston; but the goldsmith who had it
told me that he had bought it fairly from Master Richard Langdale, the
owner, and showed me a receipt for the money. I would fain hear how all
this happened."

"Not to-night; not to-night," answered the youth. "The sight of that cup
has shaken me much, my father; and to speak of those days would shake me
still more in my weak state. To-morrow I shall be stronger, I trust; and
then I will tell you all. I have often thought it would do me good if I
were to talk over the whole of those sad things with some one; for they
only seem to rankle and fester in the silence of my own bosom, and to
make me reckless and ill-tempered. But I must get a little better and
stronger first. Now I think I will go to bed."

He turned to go, but then paused, and, taking up the cup, gazed at it
earnestly for several minutes, saying, "I was just nine years old when
my father had my name engraved on it and gave it to me on my birthday,
bidding me never to fill it too full nor empty it too often."

"Wise counsel," said the old man; "but, if it be thine, take it, my son.
I am not a receiver of stolen goods."

"No," said Edward Langdale. "You knew not that he who sold it had no
right to do so; neither did he from whom you purchased it. Orphans are
often wronged, Monsieur Tournon; but I ought not to have been wronged by
him who wronged me. Well, to-morrow we will talk more of all these
matters."

A little after nightfall on the following day, the same three sat
together in the same room. There had been no music, however, that
evening; and Lucette was leaning her fair head upon the old merchant's
knee. Edward Langdale was evidently stronger and better,--though he said
he had slept but little. Yet there was more color in his cheek and lips,
and his face and air had more their usual character of bold decisive
frankness, than on the preceding night.

"Now I will tell you my whole story," he said, "beginning with my
earliest recollections. Indeed, there is not much to tell, and it may be
done very shortly."


MASTER NED'S HISTORY.

"Amongst the first of my remembrances is the burning of my father's
house. I recollect the house itself quite well; and a very handsome
place it was. There were four great octangular towers at the
corners,--one on the southwestern side, all covered with ivy, in which a
number of cream-colored owls used to make their abode during the day
sunshine. A deer-park surrounded the house, full of fern and
hawthorn-trees, and at the bottom of a bank was the highroad, with the
river brawling and rushing on by its side.

"Of the interior of the house I do not remember much, although there is
an impression on my mind of large rooms and furniture which had seen
better days. Of the events which there took place I can recall nothing
till the night of the fire,--the great fire, as it was called for many a
year. And well it deserved the name; for in its progress it not only
destroyed the house, but ate up the buttery, which was detached, and
consumed the farm-buildings and stabling, in which were lost many fine
horses and an immense quantity of agricultural produce.

"I remember on that night, the 18th of August, being startled out of my
sleep by loud cries and shrieks and all sorts of noises,--especially a
rushing, roaring sound, which frightened me more than all the rest. I
was a boy about seven years old at the time; and sleep clings to one at
that age like a tight garment, so that though I was as it were roused,
and even alarmed, I was half asleep still. It was more like an ugly
dream than a reality; and perhaps I might have lain down and fallen into
sound slumber again, had not some one suddenly thrown open the door,
rushed to the bed, and caught me up in her arms. I saw not distinctly to
whose bosom I was pressed, yet I felt sure. Whose could it be but a
mother's? She ran wildly with me to the door and there made a short
hesitating pause, then dashed along the corridor through flames and
smoke, ran down the stone steps, out of one of the back doors, upon the
smooth lawn behind, and laid me down under a large mulberry-tree. Hard
by were several persons, weeping and wringing their hands; but amongst
them was my little sister, some three years younger than myself. 'He is
safe! he is safe!' cried my mother. 'Run, some one, and tell Sir
Richard.'

"My father, who was at that time about forty years of age, joined us in
a few minutes, kissed me and my mother, remarked that she was scorched a
good deal and her beautiful hair much burned; but he left us speedily,
and returned to see what could be done to save the valuable property in
the house. I have been told since that he was evidently agitated and
confused, and his orders contradictory, and that much more might have
been saved if he had displayed more presence of mind. Corporeally, he
was undoubtedly a very brave man, and had shown himself such; but he was
not a man of ready action or strong determination. However, almost all
the plate was saved, and some of the pictures, which were fine; but
several boxes of papers of much importance, I am told, could not be
found in the confusion of the moment, and were undoubtedly lost. Memory
breaks off about that time; and I only remember that the whole house was
burned, and the greater part of the walls fell in, with the exception of
those of the ivy-tower, which were very ancient and much thicker than
the rest. Even there the wood-work was all consumed, and the stairs
fell, except where a few of the stone steps, about half-way up, still
clung to the masonry.

"My father often talked of rebuilding the house; but I believe his
finances had been previously embarrassed, and he had suffered a heavy
loss. We went then to live at Buckley Hall, which had fallen to my
mother from her uncle some two years before, and which was not many
miles distant from the old house. It was a more modern building, with
fine gardens, in stiff figures of all shapes, with urns, and fountains,
and many quaint devices; but it had no deer-park, and I sadly missed the
fern, and the hawthorn, and the wild broomy dells.

"My next remembrance is of being ill and confined to bed, and my mother
singing to me as I began to grow a little better; and I recollect quite
well her coming in one day, looking very anxious, and my asking her to
sing, with all the thoughtless impatience of youth. Well, she sang; but
the tears rolled down her cheeks; and when I was suffered to go out of
my room I could find my little sister no more. I never saw her again;
and she must have died, I suppose, of the same malady from which I had
suffered. My mother's health waned from that hour, slowly,--so slowly as
to be hardly seen to change between day and day,--but none the less
certainly. Gentle and sweet, patient and uncomplaining, she would not
burden any one even with a knowledge of what she felt. My father was all
kindness to her and to me; but he was sometimes too light and
thoughtless, I believe,--vowed that society would cheer her, and filled
his house with company,--not always the most considerate or the most
quiet. There was upon me, young as I was, an impression that my mother
was not well, that she loved tranquillity, that noise disturbed her; and
I did my best to keep still, and even silent, when I was near her. I
would sit with her for hours, reading; for when we came over to Buckley
we found a good teacher there, and I had rapidly learned to read. Then,
when I could bear inactivity no longer, I would go out and get my pony,
saddle him myself, and ride wild over the country, or wander about the
gardens and think. I learned a good deal about this time; for my father
was very expert in all manly exercises, and took a pleasure in teaching
me, and the good parson of the parish--a very learned but singular
man--took great care of my studies.

"At length, when I was about ten years old, the terrible moment came
when I was to lose a mother. I will not dwell upon that sad time; but my
heart seemed closed,--shut up. I cared for nothing,--loved
nothing,--took no interest in any thing; and yet I was cast more than
ever upon my own thoughts, for the good old parson, whose instructions
might have afforded me some diversion for the mind, removed suddenly to
a much better living, some fifteen miles distant.

"My father still gave me instruction in fencing, wrestling, the use of
the broad-sword; but he gave them and I received them languidly. At
length, one day, he said to me, 'Edward, you are sad, my boy; and it is
time you should resume your studies. I shall be very lonely without you;
but I think it will be better for you to go over to good Dr.
Winthorne's, whom you love so well, and who, I am sure, will receive you
as a pupil. We shall only be fifteen miles apart, and I can see you
often.'

"I made no objection, for Buckley had grown odious to me: every thing
there revived regrets: and in about a week I was quietly installed in
the neat and roomy parsonage, the glebe and garden of which were bounded
by the same stream which ran past the old house in which I was born. It
had been there a brawling stream; but here, some ten miles farther down
upon its winding course, it had become a slow and somewhat wide river.

"I wish I had time to tell you how I learned, and what I learned, under
the good clergyman's instruction. He had his own notions--and very
peculiar notions--in every thing. Latin and Greek he taught me; but he
taught me French and Italian too,--and taught them all at once. His
lessons were very short, for it was his maxim never to weary attention;
but he took especial care that my bodily faculties should not lose any
thing for want of exercise. He would say that he had known very clever
hunchbacks and very learned and ingenious lame men, but that each of
them had some peculiarity of judgment which showed that a straight
intellect seldom inhabited a crooked body, or a strong mind a feeble
one. He would make me wrestle and play at quoits and cudgels with
plough-boys, shoot with the gamekeepers of neighboring estates, ride my
pony over a rough country and dangerous leaps, and himself lead the way.
He was a devout man, notwithstanding, and was highly esteemed by his
parishioners, and by a small circle of noble gentlemen, to some of whom
he was allied and who were not unfrequent guests at the parsonage. All
this went on for about nine months, a considerable part of which time my
father was absent from Buckley, travelling, as they said, for his
health, in Italy, where he had spent some years when quite a young man.
At length, when he returned, I went home to pass some time with him; but
I found him not alone."

"Had he married again so early?" asked Clement Tournon, with a look of
consternation.

"Oh, no!" replied Master Ned: "he never married again; but there was a
young gentleman with him, some twenty-one or twenty-two years of age,
tall, very handsome, but with a dark and heavy brow, which almost
spoiled his beauty. He spoke English with a strong foreign accent, and
had altogether the appearance of a foreigner. I naturally presumed he
was a guest, and treated him as such; but it was evident that he was an
exceedingly favored guest, and all the servants seemed to pay him the
most profound attention. I know not why, but I speedily began to dislike
him: perhaps it was a certain sort of patronizing air he assumed toward
me,--not exactly that of an elder to a younger person, but that of a
superior to an inferior. My father's conduct, too, was very strange. He
did not introduce the visitor to me by name, but presented me to him,
saying, 'My son Edward,' and during the rest of the day called him
simply Richard. On the following morning I detected--or fancied I
detected--the servants looking at me, watching me with an appearance of
interest that almost amounted to compassion. They were all very fond of
me, and each seemed to regard Master Ned--the only name I went by--as
his own child; but when they now gazed upon me there was an air of
vexation--almost of pity--on their faces, and once or twice I thought
the old steward was about to tell me something of importance in private;
but he broke off, and turned his conversation to common subjects.

"All this, however, was so disagreeable to me, that, after having stayed
two days at Buckley, I returned to my old preceptor's house at
Applethorpe, feeling more wretched than I had felt since the first sad
shock of my mother's death.

"The same night, after supper, Dr. Winthorne questioned me closely as to
my visit, and asked what had caused me to return so soon. Whether he saw
any thing in my manner, or had heard of any thing from others, I did not
know; but I told him all frankly, and he fell into a fit of thought
which lasted till bedtime. On the following morning my studies, my
exercises, and my amusements were renewed with increased activity. There
was something more I wished to forget, as well as the irreparable loss
of my mother; and I left not one moment unemployed. It was now the month
of May, and the season had been both cold and rainy; but I never
suffered either cold or rain, either snow or sleet, to keep me
within-doors; and no naked Indian could be more hardy than I was. At
length, some warm skies, with flying clouds and showers, came to cheer
us; and, with my rod in my hand, I sallied forth one morning early to
lure the speckled tyrants of the stream out of the water. I walked on
with good success for about two miles, and arrived at a shadowy reach of
the river, where it lapsed into some deep pools, and then, tumbling over
a shelf of rock in a miniature cascade, rushed on deep and strong
toward the east. I have said I was early; but there was some one there
before me. A powerful-looking man, of some four or five and twenty years
of age, was wading the stream with a rod in his hand and a pair of
funnel-shaped boots upon his legs. Where he stood, the water did not
come much above his knees; but I knew that a little farther on it
deepened, and the bed of the stream was full of holes, in which the
finest trout usually lay; but the stranger seemed a skilful angler, and,
I doubted not, knew the river as well as I did. Not to disturb his
sport, I sat quietly down on the bank and watched him. He was not very
prepossessing in appearance, for his features were large and coarse, and
though there was a certain sort of dignity about his carriage, yet his
form was more that of a man accustomed to robust labor than to the more
graceful sports of a gentleman. However, as I was gazing, he hooked a
large fish, apparently somewhat too stout for his tackle; and, to
prevent the trout from getting among the roots and stones while he
played him, the fisherman kept stepping backward, with his face toward
me and his back toward the deep run and the pool. 'Take care! take
care!' I cried. But my warning came too late: his feet were already on
the ridge of rock, and the next instant he fell over into the very
deepest part of the water. He rose instantly, but whether he was seized
with cramp, or that his large heavy boots filled with water, I know not;
but he sank again at once with a loud cry, and I ran along the ridge of
stone to give him help. The stream was much swollen with the late rains,
and even there it was running very strong, so that I could hardly keep
my footing; but I contrived to get to a spot near which he was just
rising again, and held out the thickest end of my rod to him. It was
barely within his reach; but he grasped it with one hand so sharply as
almost to pull me over into the pool with him. I got my feet between two
large masses of stone, however, and pulled hard, drawing him toward me
till he could get hold of the rock with his hands. His safety was then
easily insured; and I only remarked two things peculiar in his demeanor:
one was, that he never thanked me; and the other, that in all the
struggle he had contrived to retain his fishing-rod.

"'Can you not swim?' he asked, as soon as we had both reached the bank.
I answered in the negative, and he added, 'Learn to swim. Please God, it
may save your life some day. Learn to swim.' I offered to take him up to
the parsonage that he might dry his clothes; but he refused, not very
civilly; and then he asked my name, looking me very steadily in the
face, without the slightest expression of gratitude for the aid I had
rendered him, and no trace of either agitation or trouble from the
danger he had run. 'You have kept your rod,' I said, 'but you have
broken your line.'

"'I never let go my hold,' he answered; 'but, as you say, I have broken
my line and lost my fish. Are you Sir Richard Langdale's son, the man up
at Buckley?' I answered that I was, and in a few minutes after we
parted. I did not forget his advice, however, for a part of every day
during that summer I passed in the water, learning and practising the
art of swimming, till none could swim better or longer. I have never
seen that man since; but he has fully repaid my service by inducing me
to learn that which has more than once been of great service to me.

"It was the month of October before I once more visited Buckley; and
then my father sent for me. I found the same young man still there whom
I had seen on my former visit; but now my father removed all doubt of
who he was, by saying, 'Edward, it is time that you should know that
this is your brother Richard,--your elder brother.'

"I need not dwell upon the mortification and annoyance which this
announcement caused me. I was very young, as you may know when I tell
you that this occurred about five years ago, and, though of a somewhat
sensitive character, I might have thought little of the matter after the
first shock, had my brother's manner pleased me, had he shown kindness
or affection for me. But, with a sort of presentiment of what he was to
become, I disliked him from the first; and he repaid me well, treating
me with a sort of supercilious coldness I could not bear. On the morning
of the fourth day, when he had gone out fowling with a number of
servants and dogs, I went into my father's chamber and announced to him
my intention of going back that morning to pursue my studies with good
Dr. Winthorne. Perhaps my tone was somewhat too decided and imperative
for one so young toward his father; but it certainly was respectful, and
my father did not oppose my purpose. He merely spoke--almost in an
apologetic manner--of my brother and myself, intimated that he saw my
annoyance, and, attributing it to motives which had never crossed my
mind, added, 'You will have fortune enough, Ned. You surely need not
grudge your brother his share.' I did not reply; but his words set me
musing, and, an hour after, I left Buckley and returned to Applethorpe.
There, as before, I told my worthy preceptor all that had occurred, and
he somewhat censured my conduct, but at the same time condoled with and
comforted me. 'This young man,' he said, 'must be the son of an Italian
lady, to whom, according to a vague rumor current about the time your
father married your mother, he had been previously wedded in her own
country. It was said her relations had separated her from him on account
of his religion and had shut her up in a convent, where she had died of
grief. What he said about your fortune being sufficient, alluded of
course to the Buckley estate, which, being derived from your mother,
must descend to you.'

"'I never thought of fortune,' I answered, 'and should be glad to have a
brother whom I could love; but I cannot like this young man.'

"I had now seen my father for the last time in life. A quarrel, it would
seem, took place between him and one of the gentlemen of the
neighborhood, and about six months after the period of my visit they met
and fought. Both were good swordsmen; and my father killed his adversary
on the spot. He was much wounded in the encounter, however, and died
some four-and-twenty hours after. Sir Richard, his son, had not thought
fit to send for me; but, as soon as the news reached Applethorpe, Dr.
Winthorne went over with me to Buckley. There a scene took place which I
shall never think of without pain. My brother's whole thoughts were of
the rich succession which had fallen to him. He had four or five lawyers
with him, some from the country, others brought post-haste from London.
He claimed the whole estates,--Buckley, and all that it contained; and
his lawyers showed that, the estate having fallen to my mother after her
marriage, without any deed of settlement having reserved it to herself
and her heirs, it had passed in pure possession to my father, and
descended to his eldest son. There was some dispute between him and Dr.
Winthorne, who, with the village attorney, advocated my cause warmly;
but in the end the good clergyman took my arm, saying, 'Come away,
Edward: there are too many bad feelings here already: there will be more
if we stay. Your brother, who strips you of your mother's fortune
because she perhaps trusted too far his father and yours, cannot deprive
you of Malden farm, which was left you by your great-uncle. Indeed, I
will not believe that your father did not intend to do you justice. His
last words to you implied it; and probably, Mr. Sykes, Sir Richard did
make a will, which we must leave you to have produced, if there be one.'

"These last words were addressed to my firm friend, the village lawyer,
who, though aged and a good deal deformed, wanted no energy. He had
always loved my mother, and whenever I could I had sent him game and
fish. I always see him when I am in England. But no will was ever found:
proofs of my father's marriage to the Signora Laura Scotti were
produced, and also of her death some five years before the marriage of
my mother, and my brother Richard remained possessed of all that had
once seemed destined for me. He found the property greatly encumbered,
it is true, paid no debt that he could by any means evade, and, being
naturally of a profuse and luxurious disposition, soon found it
necessary to sell much plate and jewels, many of which, beyond doubt,
were my mother's own. Among the rest must have gone the cup I saw last
night. As for myself, the little farm of Malden was all that was left
me, the annual income of which is not quite two hundred pounds a
year,--enough, perhaps, for any right ambition; but I had been educated
in high expectations, and I had received a shock which changed, or
seemed to change, my whole nature.

"One night, when we had been talking of these things, Dr. Winthorne laid
his hand upon my shoulder, saying, 'Ned, you must make yourself a name
and an estate. There are two courses before you: either pursue your
studies vigorously for a few years, and then go to the university and
push your fortunes in the Church or at the bar, or put yourself in the
way of another sort of advancement, and mingle in the strife of courts
and camps. You have talent for the one if you choose to embrace it; your
animal qualities may fit you for the other. If the latter be your
choice, among my noble kinsfolks I can put you on the entrance of the
road; but you are not a boy who can remain idle. Think over it till
to-morrow at this hour; and then tell me of your resolve.'

"My determination was soon formed. I could not make up my mind,
especially with the feelings that were then busy in me, to devote myself
to mere dry and thoughtful studies; and I chose the more active scenes.
The very next night Dr. Winthorne wrote to the Lord Montagu, distantly
related to his mother, and in about two months after I received the
appointment of gentleman-page in his household, the only path now open
in England to honor and renown. In this career I have met with many
vicissitudes, and have learned much in a harsher and sterner school than
that of good Dr. Winthorne. I have not suffered, I trust, in mind or in
body, and, if my character has been hardened, I do believe the change
took place, not in the four last years of action and endeavor, but in
the few months of suffering and endurance which immediately preceded and
followed my father's death. Let it not be thought, my excellent friend,
that in any thing I have said I wished to cast a reproach upon his
memory. I am sure that he intended to secure to me what by right and
equity was mine, whatever mere law may say; but probably the duel in
which he fell was hasty; and it was a habit of his mind to put off both
consideration and action as long as he could. Thought was a labor that
troubled him, and he often would not see dangers because reflection upon
the best way of meeting them would have been painful. As to my brother,
I have never seen him again: I hear he has returned to Italy, there to
spend what remains to him of his wealth. Thus, you see that, though that
cup is mine by right, it is no more mine by law than the estate of
Buckley, which has gone from me forever."

The old merchant mused, and Lucette exclaimed, eagerly, that Sir Richard
Langdale's conduct was cruel and unjust; but Master Ned answered, very
mildly,--more so, indeed, than he might have done had not sickness
softened him,--"There is much that is both cruel and unjust in the law;
but, when I think of the contrast between my home before and after he
appeared in it, and when I think of what my own heart was before and
after he put his icy hand upon it, how he took from it its gentleness,
and its kindness, and its confidence, I cannot but believe he has been
cruel, and, though the same blood may and does flow in our veins, his is
mingled with another stream, which is noway akin to mine."

"You must take that cup, Master Edward," said the syndic. "I cannot keep
it in conscience. Every time I saw it in the cupboard, I should----" But
his sentence was broken in upon, and all discussion stopped, by the
entrance of Marton, introducing a stout man in plain travelling-attire,
who was a stranger at least to Edward Langdale.



CHAPTER VIII.


The old syndic did not seem to know much more of his visitor than Edward
Langdale; but he called him Master Jean Baptiste, and asked him what
news from Niort.

"Nothing very good, monsieur," answered the stranger: "half a league
more of the Papist lines is finished, and it is hard to get through. It
was all done so quick and so quietly, no one knew any thing of it till
the day before yesterday, when some troops and a large supply of flour
were sent down to Ferriac."

"And where is the king himself?" demanded Clement Tournon, somewhat
anxiously.

"He is still at Nantes," replied the visitor. "But I want some talk with
you, Mr. Syndic, when I can have it alone; and it must be to-night,
too, for I have to go on by to-morrow at daybreak, if I can get a boat."

The old man at once raised a candlestick from the table and led the
stranger into another room, while Lucette and Edward remained together.

Now, the most natural thing in the world for a young lad between sixteen
and seventeen, and a young girl a year or two younger, when so thrown
upon their own resources, would have been to make love, or, at least, to
fall into it; and there was also a strong incentive in the gratitude
Edward felt for all Lucette's kind nursing and all the interest which
Lucette had taken in his illness and recovery. But the truth must be
told. They did not make love in any of the many ways in which that
article is prepared in any of the kingdoms of the earth. Moreover, they
did not fall in love in the least. I am sorry for it; for of all the
sweet and charming things which this world produces, that which is
scornfully called calf's love is the sweetest and most charming. If it
has really any thing to do with a calf at all, it is the sweetbread. Oh,
that early love! that early love! how pure, and tender, and soft, and
timid, and bright, and fragrant, it is! It is the opening of the
rose-bud of life, which may in after-times display warmer colors, give
forth more intense odor, but loses in delicacy and grace with every
petal that unfolds. But, as I have said, the truth must be told. They
neither talked of love nor thought of love, although Lucette was very
beautiful and believed Edward Langdale to be very handsome. She merely
made him describe to her the scenes in which his youth had been spent.
She talked to him of his mother, too; and he told her how sweetly that
mother had sung, and said to her that Lady Langdale's voice was very
like her own; and then he besought her to sing to him again; and she
sang to please him; and they fell into thought, and spoke of a thousand
things more, in which the reader would take no manner of interest, but
which interested them so much that, when Clement Tournon returned, they
fancied he had been gone but a few minutes; and he had been absent an
hour and a half.

His visitor did not come back with him, for he had taken some supper
and retired to rest; but the good old syndic's brow was gloomy, and the
news he had received, whatever it was, did not seem to have been very
favorable.

"To bed, to bed, Lucette!" said the old man: "we must not keep Master
Ned up late o' night. He will soon have to go travelling again; and he
must gather strength."

Lucette did not receive the intelligence that Ned must soon depart very
sadly, though she would have very well liked him to stay. She laughed
and kissed the old man, and ran away; but the syndic silently took hold
of the youth's hand and prevented him from retiring till the bright girl
was gone. "Stay a minute," he said, at length. "I have something to
speak to you about. How do you feel your strength and health to-night?"

"Oh, much improved," replied Master Ned. "I shall be as strong as ever
in a couple of days."

"That is well! that is well!" said Clement Tournon. "And whither do you
turn your steps when you leave Rochelle?"

"I have to traverse the whole of France, and even to approach close to
Paris," answered Master Ned; "for the end of my journey, as far as I yet
know, is to be at Dammartin. First, however, I must go to Mauzé, where,
I hear, the Duc de Rohan and Monsieur de Soubise are to be found. I have
letters for each."

The reply seemed to puzzle the old man a little, for he shook his head,
saying, "It will not do."

"Have they left Mauzé?" asked Edward. "This illness has been very
unfortunate."

"If you do not find them there, you will hear of them," answered the
syndic. "What I mean is, you cannot get straight to Mauzé. Things have
changed since you arrived, my son. The Papist troops are between us and
Mauzé; and you will have to make a long deviation from your way and come
upon the castle from the north."

"So be it!" said Master Ned. "If we can but have a fair wind, we can get
to Marans, and, running up the Sevres, reach Mauzé from the north. It is
not much longer, if I recollect right. I would embark to-morrow
morning, but I have still some preparations to make."

"You seem to know the country well, my son," said the old man, "and your
scheme is a good one. But what preparations can you have to make?--not,
indeed, that I would have you go too soon, lest your health should
suffer. I should think as soon as you feel strong enough you will be all
ready."

"Not quite, Monsieur Tournon," answered the lad. "I must follow my
orders, and those I have are very reasonable commands. I have, as I just
said, to cross three-quarters of France, which I could not do as an
Englishman, since these last troubles, without a safe-conduct. One has
been procured for me, however, from young Sir Peter Apsley, who obtained
it in order to go to Geneva to study. He has changed his mind since, and
I am to represent him; but, as there are mentioned in the paper a page
and two servants, I must engage such followers of the most trusty
character I can find. I have already got Pierrot la Grange, who is an
adept at masquerading, and I did think of bribing Jargeau to accompany
me; but I had some suspicions of him before I landed, and soon found
that he is treacherous. I must therefore look for a man and a boy here
to-morrow; and you must help me, my good father, for it is of much
consequence that they should be trusty."

"They will soon be found," answered the syndic; "but I fear me you will
be soon discovered, my son. This cardinal has eyes in every quarter, and
almost, I might say, in every house. As to the page, I may have to think
a little," and then he added, musingly: "Did pages wear long tunics, as
in my young days, Lucette might do; but I doubt whether she would put on
boys' clothes as they are worn now."

"Lucette!" exclaimed Edward Langdale, in a tone of unfeigned
astonishment. "That would never do. She could not ride half through
France at the pace I should have to go; and besides----But tell me, in
the name of Heaven, could you part with her so easily and on such a
journey?"

The old syndic smiled faintly, saying, "I could and must part with her
whenever it is for her good, my son; but I did not propose she should go
with you farther than Mauzé, where you would have to find another page.
There she must go before Saturday, as I will explain. Listen; for it is
fit you should know all that is going on here, that you may tell it to
those whom you are about to see. I will make it all clear to you, and
then I will go and consult my pillow till to-morrow morning. The king
and the cardinal are determined to crush out Rochelle. We have stood a
siege here before, and may perhaps do so now,--though I do not think it,
for Richelieu is not following the rash measures of those who went
before him. He has been hovering over this devoted city like an eagle
over a hare half hidden in the brushwood, and now he is ready to swoop.
They say that he and King Louis have been stayed at Nantes by some
troubles in the court; but nothing is neglected: day by day the troops
are gathering round, and we are now wellnigh hemmed in by land. The sea
is still open to us; but I have learned from a sure hand this night that
the cardinal has gathered together a navy of small armed vessels in all
the neighboring ports,--Rochefort, Marennes, Royan, Bourgneuf,
Painboeuf, and others. They will soon be off our harbor,--on Monday
next, they say; and though, thank Heaven, we have ships and good ones,
yet in point of numbers we are nothing. The foolish men of what they
call the French party refused, as you know, to give entrance to the Earl
of Denbigh's fleet, which would have kept the sea open to us and insured
us against blockade forever. But, as things stand now, I cannot expose a
girl like Lucette to the horrors of a siege with probably no escape.
Indeed, every useless mouth we can remove from Rochelle the better for
us; and, besides, those who have a right have required me to send her
out of the city without loss of time."

"Had you not better go with her yourself?" asked Master Ned.

"I will not run away from my post," answered the syndic. "I once could
have struck a good blow in defence of my native city; and, though that
is past, I can still aid her with counsel. Besides, where could I go?
Nowhere but to England. I may send what gold I have got to that country,
if I can find means; but my fate is with Rochelle, and Lucette's must
lie far away. God help us! we are at a dangerous pass, my son; and the
hunter's toils are tighter round us than some of our senseless citizens
will believe. As to Jargeau, you cannot trust him. Of Pierrot I have
doubts,--not of his honesty, for he is truthful and sturdy when he is
sober, nor of his ability, for he is a thing we often see in this
strange world, _a clever fool_,--shrewd enough in every thing that
imports but little, but weak as water in matters on which his own
fortunes and his soul's salvation rest. I doubt his power to abstain
from a vice which has ruled him for ten long years. True, he has been
sober ever since he has been here, and he promises sturdily; but, alas!
my son, I have seen so many a drunkard fall away from all good
resolutions with the first moment of a strong temptation that I wish you
had a better follower."

"I will keep him sober," answered Master Ned, boldly. "He knows I am not
to be trifled with. I think he has every inclination to reform but only
wants the strength of mind. I will give him the strength. Many a man is
feeble in some point till he has support, just as a pea trails upon the
ground till we plant a strong pole by it. I will be his pea-stick,
Monsieur Tournon. But as to another man and the page. If Mademoiselle
Lucette only goes to Mauzé, and you will trust her with me, I will see
her safe there if I get there myself, upon my honor; but I know not why
she should have to change her dress, for the distance is so small from
Maran's that----"

"You may be stopped and have to show your safe-conduct," answered the
syndic. "You know not how rapidly this cardinal is drawing the net
around us. But surely we can equip her so that she shall remain
concealed and yet not shock her modesty."

"Oh, yes," replied Master Ned: "'tis still the mode with us to wear a
loose, long, hanging coat over the justaucorps in cool weather; and this
is cool enough. I have one in my bags, and they are so freely fitted
that it matters not whether it be somewhat large or not. But what I fear
is her long, beautiful, amber hair. No boy's head ever bore such a
profusion,--though it is the custom now to wear it very long behind."

"We must have it cut," said the syndic, with as little reverence for
love-locks as any Puritanical preacher of the coming epoch: "a woman may
well yield her hair to save her liberty and her religion,--nay, perhaps
her life. But we will talk more to-morrow, my son, and we had better
both seek rest now and rise by dawn to-morrow."

The results of this conversation may easily be divined by the reader,
whose business it is, in a novel as well as in a tragedy, to supply from
his own wit or imagination all the little facts and circumstances which
it may please an author to omit. Yes, dear reader, always recollect that
you have your responsibilities as well as your privileges, your duties
as well as your powers, and then if you and I do not understand each
other it is not your fault.

The following evening, about seven o'clock, there assembled in the
little saloon, the syndic, Edward Langdale, a strong, supple-looking
man, of whom more hereafter, Pierrot la Grange, and a beautiful boy,
apparently some two years younger, and much shorter, than Master Ned. He
entered the last, dressed in one of the broad-brimmed hats of the day, a
handsome doublet, and a loose black velvet coat with hanging sleeves. It
descended nearly to the knees, and almost met a pair of large
riding-boots, which, together with the hat and feather, and a small
gold-hilted dagger on the left hip, gave the wearer a sort of cavalier
look which accorded well with the character assumed,--yes, assumed; for
a warm mantling blush that spread over Lucette's fair face, and the shy
impulse with which she threw herself into the old man's arms, would have
betrayed her sex to any one who was not in the secret. Every thing,
however, was now hurry, for a good-sized fishing-boat had been engaged
for a somewhat earlier hour; and, with a few words of admonition to
Lucette from the syndic, and some directions to the men, the whole party
set out for the port. Marton gave them egress, kissing Lucette tenderly
as she passed the door; and in ten minutes Clement Tournon held the
young girl in his arms by the side of the boat, taking one last embrace.
He wept not, it is true; but he heaved a heavy sigh. Edward Langdale
lifted her into the little bark, and, as the boat pushed off, he felt
that tears had fallen upon his bosom.



CHAPTER IX.


Although there can be few things more pleasant to many of the senses
with which our dull clay is vivified than to sail over a shining sea
under a moonlight sky,--although the feeling of repose which emanates
from rapid easy motion is then most sweetly tasted,--yet when we are in
haste we would always wish the breeze to be favorable and full. We could
bear a little more rocking of our sea-cradle did we but know that our
progress was all the faster. In this respect, at least, Edward Langdale
was not to be gratified that night. The wind, it is true, was not
exactly adverse; but it was not quite favorable, and, moreover, it was
light. The boat did not make three miles an hour through the water, and
was obliged to take a good stretch to the westward in order to avoid
sands and shoals.

In the mean time, the party in the boat was arranged very properly:
Lucette sat near the stern, and Master Ned next to her, with Pierrot on
his left; while on the other side were the newly-engaged servant and two
sailors. But Lucette was silent, and Edward thought it better for a time
to leave her so, as tears--springing from what sources it is not worth
while to inquire--were still flowing, and the youth heard every now and
then a gentle sob. For his part, he talked a little to Pierrot, who told
him that he had twice seen the good-man Jargeau that day, had honestly
notified him of his dereliction of his service, and had returned him his
two horses, as he, Pierrot, had been ordered. Jargeau, he said, had been
somewhat supercilious, somewhat triumphant, had shown that he knew all
about Master Ned's encounter in Rochelle, and its consequences, observed
that it would have been better for the youth if he had followed good
counsel, and had laughed heartily at Pierrot's own resolutions of
temperance, which he tried hard to make him break on the spot.

"I saw he had a great contempt for me, Master Ned," said the man; "but I
showed him I could resist."

"He will laugh at you ten times more if ever you break your resolution,"
answered Edward Langdale; "and then he will laugh with some reason. Of
course you gave him no cause to think we were going to-night?"

The man replied in the negative, and Edward--judging not amiss of the
precise moment when comfort is most available--applied himself to soothe
his beautiful young companion. It is a very delicate and even dangerous
task for a young man of any thing short of sixty; and it would be vain
to say that Edward Langdale did not perform the office of consoler
warmly. The nature of the case inspired tenderness; the gentleness and
care with which she had nursed him required it; and their very youth
justified it. He called her "dear Lucette" several times; and he tried
hard to prompt hope of a speedy return to Rochelle and a reunion with
her excellent father.

At the latter word Lucette gave a little start. "You mistake, Edward,"
she said: "he is not my father, though indeed he has been a father, and
more than a father, to me. But you are protecting an orphan, my friend.
I have neither father nor mother living."

"Then is he your grandfather, as you first called him?" asked the youth.
"I thought he was very old to have a daughter of your age."

"He is no relation whatever," she answered, gravely, "but is as dear to
me as any parent could have been. It is a long story, which I may some
time or other have an opportunity of telling you; but enough for the
present that he has had the care of my education in Rochelle for some
years, and has ever shown to me the affection of a father and won from
me the love and reverence of a child. I weep to part with him; but I
weep from many other causes. Rochelle has been to me like the nest to a
young bird; and now I am going forth into a world where I am almost a
stranger, to a fate that I know not, but which can hardly be a peaceful
one. Let us not talk of it; for it is better not even to think of it.
What will come must come; and I must bear all with patience."

"Well, then, let us look at that beautiful sea," said Edward Langdale.
"Is it not like an ocean of melted silver? Look there! Here comes a
great wave curling over in the moonlight: now we rise above it, and it
is past. So it is, Lucette, with the misfortunes of this world: they
seem ready to overwhelm us; but with good steering and a strong mind we
rise above them and leave them behind us."

"But who shall teach me to steer my boat?" asked Lucette, sadly.

Had it been a few years later in his life, Edward would probably have
said, "Let me;" but he did not say it, and he was wise. He applied
himself, however, with more earnestness than ever, to soothe his sweet
companion and to wean her thoughts from subjects of pain or anxiety; nor
did he do so without success. His mind was stored with the riches of
much and very various study, and he found, too, that her young hours had
not been employed in vain. She could talk with him of things which few
of her age and her country could converse upon; and, to his delight, he
found that she spoke English as well as he did himself, with hardly any
accent, and with perfect facility. Thenceforward their conversation was
carried on in his mother-tongue; and his mind easily saw the many
advantages which might arise, should any impediment present itself on
their journey, from their perfect acquaintance with two languages.

It was all very perilous for the two young people; and really, could it
have been avoided, they should not have been placed in such a situation;
but there are times and circumstances when proprieties must be forgotten
and folks must take their chance or die. Now, the period was rapidly
approaching when not a mouse could get out of Rochelle; and old Clement
Tournon foresaw its coming. To take advantage of Edward's journey was
all that was left for him; and that was almost too late. Besides,
decorum came in with George the First, and little of it was known in the
world at large before the time of William the Taciturn. Nevertheless,
was it not dangerous to set two young souls, full of early life, and
with all its passions and imaginations just budding, to sail over "the
moonlight sea" together, talking a language unknown to their companions,
with mystery and misfortune and interest on one side, and gratitude,
compassion, and curiosity on the other? They did not, it is true, get
out of that boat with the same feelings they carried into it; but then
all these matters are progressive, except in Italy, and some parts of
Spain, and two or three other countries I could name,--countries where
people jump into love with their eyes open, or fall into it with their
eyes shut. In England we slide into it. But, as I was remarking, all
such things--with the exceptions already specified--are progressive; and
there were several little accidents which helped the matter on. Lucette
was cold, and Edward fastened the agrafes of the loose coat over her
fair bosom; and then he wrapped a cloak round her; and then the wind
shifted and the sea began to run very high, and he had to put his arm
about her to keep her steady on the seat. Then, what between fear and
headache, she leaned her brow upon his shoulder; and he had to comfort
and reassure her the best way he could. There is something in animal
magnetism, dear reader, depend upon it,--although I think it acts in a
different way from that generally attributed to it.

But, to pause no more upon such discussions,--which are always very
fruitless,--I must say their situation soon became very unpleasant, and
even critical. The wind and the currents carried the little craft far to
the westward of Marans, and the boat shipped many a heavy sea. She was
good and stanch, however, and the sailors were fearless, hardy, and
experienced; but that comforted poor Lucette very little, so that all
her consolation was to cling through long hours to Edward Langdale and
to ask him from time to time if there was any danger. At length,
however,--just when, having run a good way to the northwest, they had
contrived to tack and lay their course with a better wind toward
Marans,--the sun began to rise, and Edward whispered, "Now we shall soon
be there, dear Lucette."

But he was mistaken. Expectation is always mistaken. There really seems
a perversity about those ladies with the distaff and scizzors which
leads them to spin the thread of our life with knots and tangles, to cut
it short at the very moment of fruition, and--especially when they see
any one foolish enough to calculate upon success--to ravel the whole
skein into inextricable confusion. The boat could only approach the
shore by continual tacking; and I would tell all the tacks she made, and
how long each took,--but, unhappily, I know nothing of nautical matters,
except that a ship has a head and a stern, as most other things have;
that a fair wind carries people rapidly to port, and a foul wind delays
them often a long time. The sun had passed the meridian at least three
hours when the boat at last reached the mouth of the Sevre Niortaise,
which would at that time float small vessels very comfortably. I know
not what it will do now; for the sands upon the west coast of France
have so encroached upon the domains of old Ocean that Hennebon was once
within a short distance of the sea and is now actually an inland town,
only to be reached by a post-road or a good long sail up the river
Blavet. As good fortune would have it, however, and thanks to the
paternal care of good Clement Tournon, there were plenty of provisions
on board the boat; and the Sevre Niortaise received them less hungry
than might otherwise have been the case. The ascent of the river as far
as the spot where it was proposed to stop occupied two hours more; but
all was calm now, and the change from danger to security is a great
promoter of rash hope. The color came back into Lucette's face, and she
and Edward Langdale talked gayly of the coming hours. At length they ran
up to a little landing where a few houses, all occupied by Protestants,
lined the shore, headed by a good-looking cabaret with white walls and a
brush upon the top of a pole. The Rochellois boatmen were well known to
the host, and his welcome was joyful; but when, after seeing Lucette
comfortably lodged in a room by herself,--although the landlord seemed
to think that too much care was taken of a boy who ought to take care of
himself,--Master Ned proceeded to inquire into the facilities for
reaching Mauzé, he found more serious impediments than he had expected.
No horses were to be bought nearer than Marans, some three miles
distant; and between the river and the chateau of Mauzé the host
reported several large bodies of Catholic soldiers and workmen, whose
conduct, according to his account, was not over-scrupulous. Horses,
however, had to be procured at all events; for to reach the chateau if
possible Edward Langdale was bound; and accordingly, with some
hesitation, he despatched Pierrot la Grange to Marans, with a strong
injunction to temperance. Pierrot's virtue was probably not very
severely tried; for the wine--the only wine to be procured in that part
of the country--was execrable; and brandy at that time, notwithstanding
the proximity of Rochelle, found its way to Marans in very small
quantities. At all events, toward ten o'clock at night he reappeared at
the cabaret with the four horses and their equipments, as his young
master had required, and a boy leading the two last-bought, while he
himself, mounted on one, led another by the bridle.

The landlord was conversing with the boatmen at the door, while Edward
was calmly sleeping on a bench in the kitchen; but the former seemed to
have received some intimation that the page was not exactly what he
appeared, for he requested Pierrot in a whisper to tell his young lord
that there was a minister in the hamlet, and that young people could be
married there just as well as at Mauzé.

In about an hour the whole party were mounted and on their road, Pierrot
having assured his master that he could guide him to Mauzé as well as
any man born on the spot. Nor did he exaggerate his knowledge, but
proceeded perfectly steadily and carefully, till at length the little
bridle-path they followed lost itself in the moors which cover that part
of the country.

The moon, however, was shining as brightly as it had done the night
before, and there seemed no difficulty in finding the way; but the wide
expanse before them looked solitary and cheerless with its gray shadows
and stunted bushes and pieces of fenny swamp, while here and there rose
a small clump of low rugged pines, or a deep pit obstructed the advance
of the travellers. At the end of about two hours, Pierrot remarked, "We
are not three miles from Mauzé now, sir, and we had better be a little
careful; for, if there be any folks we have to fear, they must be about
here." Hardly had he spoken when a line of lights came in sight, which
Master Ned instantly understood to proceed from scattered watch-fires;
and, halting for a few minutes, he held a short council with his
followers, in which their future proceedings were determined. The lights
extended some way to the right and left; and it was conjectured that
the lines which it was known the king's army were employed in
constructing stopped at a certain point on one side or the other,
leaving a passage round the extremity, by which the little village and
its castle could be reached. The question only was which side was free,
and Edward resolved to ride on in advance with one of the men and
reconnoitre, leaving Lucette and the other man at the first sheltered
spot they could find. One of the deep pits which I have mentioned was
soon met with, and its edge, on the opposite side from that which the
little party approached, was edged with a fringe of low wood, which
concealed it well. A road which had been cut for the purpose of digging
gravel--Heaven knows for what purpose the gravel itself was wanted, as
gravel walks were few in that part of the country--led right into the
pit; and along it Edward and his party found their way in. He lifted
Lucette from her horse, and, being more considerate than most lads of
his age, he paused to think which of the men he should leave with her.
That was soon settled. The man he had hired in Rochelle was well known
to Clement Tournon. His name was Jacques Beaupré, by-the-way; and the
good syndic had guaranteed his honesty, adding, that he was a courageous
man and witty. Now, Jacques had not uttered three words since he had
been in Edward's service, and therefore of his wit the young gentleman
knew nothing; but his honesty and his courage were much more important
on the present occasion. Pierrot, Master Ned knew, could be trusted in
all things but one; but there was much to be remembered. He himself
might be taken; and, once delivered from the restraint of his presence,
Edward naturally concluded that the bottle might have too great
temptations for his worthy follower, and Lucette be left to the perilous
guardianship of a drunken man. Jacques Beaupré was therefore left with
Lucette. The bags were taken off the horses and deposited in his care,
with orders to make his way to Mauzé, should any misadventure occur to
Edward, and to place them and Lucette under the care of the Prince de
Soubise. A warning was also given him to destroy, if possible, the bag
which had a red cross marked upon it, in case he saw that he could not
escape the Catholic army. It may be supposed that all these directions
alarmed poor Lucette a good deal; but she did not give way to her fears,
although she fully forgave Edward for making his parting embrace a
little warmer than even the customs of that day justified.

We are too apt in this world to make no allowance for the customs of
different times and phases of society. Some fall into this fault from
ignorance of any state of society but their own, with a vague idea of
something having been strange in the customs of the Greeks and Romans
and the people whom Mr. Hallam wrote about. Some who have read the
chronicles of other times forget the minute particulars in their
attention to more important facts. But believe me, dear reader, the
times and the country, the climate and the water, do make very great
difference in the notions which obtain regarding customs, and even
morals,--ay, morals. Half the morals in the world are made by
society,--and all the customs. I remember a Turkish ambassador, being
present at a dance, and asking, gravely, "What does all that palming
come to?" Since then the Turks have very generally left off their
petticoats, and have acquired a good many new notions; but they still
object to the "_palming_," and think its tendencies not desirable,--the
Koran notwithstanding. However, the age of which I am now writing was a
kissing age,--an age of _embrassades_. Everybody kissed everybody--on
certain occasions; but it was specified that, in public and before
witnesses, the kisses were to be bestowed on the right and left cheek,
and not upon the mouth,--especially in the case of young gentlemen and
ladies. Now, the dereliction of poor Edward Langdale was that his lips
did not altogether confine themselves to the cheek of Lucette. Where
they went, Heaven knows; but I do not. However, she forgave him; and I
do not see why we should not do so too. I am sure I should have kissed
her lips if I had had the opportunity; for they were rich, and soft, and
full, and her breath was as fragrant as new-mown hay.

After that kiss, he jumped upon his horse again and rode away, leaving
all his precious things behind him,--both those he had brought from
England and those he had found in Rochelle.

The title I have affixed to this book compels me to adhere to the
adventures of Master Ned; but, as that night was one of critical
influence upon his fate, I cannot finish its events at the fag-end of a
chapter which is already somewhat too long for the reader's patience,
and for the writer's too.



CHAPTER X.


Now, Edward Langdale was a very acute and intelligent lad before he
touched the shores of France on that journey. He had learned more of the
world and mankind in the few years he had been page to Lord Montagu than
many another youth does in a dozen. His previous education had fitted
him for such acquisition; and the circumstances in which he had
afterward been placed--circumstances which required the exercise of
every faculty--had acuminated every faculty. But, strange to say, each
sense seemed to acquire more acuteness after he left Lucette. He had no
notion in the world how it was so. He thought of those valuable leathern
bags of his, and of the letters which were in them, and of the chance
there was of their falling into an enemy's hands. He believed that was
all; but still, as the reader has a right to be let into all secrets, a
vague, indefinite, misty idea of danger to Lucette mingled with all
other considerations and sharpened every perception.

With Pierrot by his side, and taking advantage of every thing which
could screen his approach, he advanced as close to the king's lines as
he could without being perceived. He then rode along, seeing groups of
soldiers and sappers lying on the ground by their watch-fires, without
one man seemingly wakeful enough to have killed a rat had it invaded his
quarters. The end of the line on the right was soon reached; but now
there were evident signs of completed trenches and a more strict guard;
and, retreating a little to get under cover of the trees, which had
become both taller and closer in that quarter, he turned his course
toward the left, where the lines tended toward the Sevre Niortaise.
Still, nothing stirred; and at length Edward, to his great satisfaction,
perceived the spot where the rapidly-progressing works had been
abandoned at the set of sun, and where shovels and pickaxes and hatchets
were piled up after the labors of the day. Beyond was a wide extent of
moor and brushwood; and, after having gazed for a minute or two, he
determined to push his horse far enough round to make sure that the
passage was free before he went back for Lucette. His course was through
some marshy ground broken by brushes. The last fire of the French lines
was at a full quarter of a mile's distance, and every moment Edward
became more and more convinced that the way was quite open and the
passage safe. Suddenly, however, he checked his horse, making a sign to
Pierrot to stop, and saying, "Hark!"

"Horse, on my life!" cried Pierrot.

"Coming up from the left," replied Master Ned. "Down, down! and amongst
the bushes! Let the beasts take their own course. It may mislead them."

Each sprang to the ground in a moment. The horses, cast loose with a
sharp blow in the flank, scampered across the moor, and the youth and
Pierrot kneeled down amongst the shrubs. But the manoeuvre was in
vain. The moon was still shining brightly: they had been marked; and the
pursuers but too plainly perceived that the two horses which scampered
off were now without riders. There was a momentary search amongst the
bushes, and then a hard hand was laid upon Master Ned's shoulder. It
might have been a dangerous experiment at another moment; but there were
so many soldiers round as to render resistance hopeless; and Master Ned
rose quietly without uttering a word.

It was a somewhat lawless age; and in lawless ages some men's fingers
have a strange affection for other men's pockets. The worthy trooper,
whose right hand still retained its grasp of Edward's shoulder, felt his
left impelled by irresistible powers toward the spot where purses in
those days were generally carried; but he suddenly found his wrist
grasped with a strength which he had no idea lay in the slight-looking
limbs of his prisoner, who at the same time raised his voice aloud,
shouting, in the French tongue, "Officer! officer!"

The trooper had either miscalculated his distance from his companions,
or Master Ned's powers of endurance; for, while he struggled to free his
wrist from the clinging fingers which grasped it, half a dozen more
soldiers came up, with a gentleman in a handsome buff coat, or buffle,
laced with gold, who was evidently the leader of the band.

"How now, young man? how now?" cried the officer, regarding him by the
moonlight. "What! resisting the king's authority?"

"By no means, seigneur," replied Edward, who still held the soldier fast
by the wrist. "I am merely resisting plunder, which I know is not by the
king's authority. This man's hand was in my pocket. His intention might
be to take my purse,--which I should care little about, as there is not
much in it, and I can get more; but it might be to take my safe-conduct,
which I will not part with, but for proper examination, to any one."

"Ho, ho! a safe-conduct!" said the officer. "How dare you try to rob
him, Guillaume Bheel? Let him go, this instant."

"I can't," answered the man, with a good-humored roar of laughter: "the
young devil has got my wrist as tight as if every finger was a vice. My
hand was not in his pocket; for, by St. Ann, he did not let me get it
fairly in. I was only going to search him."

"Let the man's hand go, young gentleman," said the officer. "You mention
a safe-conduct. Let me see it."

"It is here," said Edward Langdale, drawing forth a handsome gilt
leather case. "I beg you to promise that it shall be returned to me when
you have examined it."

"It shall, if I find it all in proper form," replied the other; "but, in
the mean time, you will have to go to the lines, for I cannot examine
passes by moonlight. Some one see and catch the two horses. Have you
found the other man? Ah, there he is. Catch the horses, I say."

In the mean time he had opened the case and taken out the passport,
which, when spread out in the pale light, showed all the appearance of
an ordinary safe-conduct; and Edward, anxious to prevent any search for
Lucette and her guard, observed, in a quiet tone, "You will remark that
the paper covers more than myself and my servant; but, hearing that
there was danger on the road to Niort, we left the others behind."

"Then tell me, sir," said the officer, gravely, "how came it, when you
were furnished with such a safe-conduct as this, you attempted to pass
the lines without showing it, and tried to hide yourself when you saw my
party?"

"Oh, in Rochelle they tell very bloody tales of you gentlemen up here,"
replied Edward, laughing; "and I thought that at Niort I could show it
with less trouble."

"Then you come from Rochelle, do you?" said the officer. "Probably you
came over in Lord Denbigh's fleet?"

"No," answered the young man, boldly. "I came over before, in a
merchant-vessel; but I was obliged to stay some days in Rochelle to hire
servants and to get well; for I was ill there."

"Indeed," said the officer,--not in any tone of interest, but merely as
one of those insignificant ejaculations which men employ to stop a gap
when they have nothing else to say; and he continued humming some of the
Parisian airs which are now technically known as _Pont neufs_, till the
horses were caught,--which was not till after half an hour's ineffectual
effort; for they had some spirit and some skittishness. Indeed, it might
have been as well--under fear of the critics--to tell the reader that
the part of the country which we are now treading is rather famous for
the sale of horses, which, though not so good as the Limousin, are of
the same race, very hardy and sometimes very fleet.

At length the beasts were inveigled by some of the many methods of
deceit which men use to entrap bipeds or quadrupeds; and, mounted on
that which he indicated as his own, Master Ned, between two soldiers,
was led to the end of the trench, followed by Pierrot, as well guarded,
who had the good sense to keep his tongue under a rigorous rein. The two
were civilly inducted into a small building constructed of unplaned
boards, and, with a sentinel at the door, were left together while the
officer went to examine the safe-conduct: at least, so he said. In
truth, he went to show it to a superior officer.

Edward Langdale, however, took the opportunity, in a hurried manner, of
indoctrinating Pierrot in regard to what he was to say and what not to
say. He could have done it quite at leisure, it is true, for the officer
was full two hours absent; but the time was occupied with various
comments and discussions which might, under most circumstances, have
been of great use. Man almost always makes calculations in vain. He
stands upon a small point, unable to see an inch before his nose, while
Fate is working in the background beyond his sight, weaving round him a
web of fine threads, through which he cannot break, let him flutter as
hard as he will.

At length the officer reappeared, with the passport in its case. He
returned it to the young gentleman with a polite bow, saying, "Sir, your
safe-conduct seems in good form, and signed by the cardinal himself."

There he paused for a moment, and Edward replied, "Then I suppose I am
at liberty to proceed. Now you see, sir, how much better it would have
been for me to ride on straight to Niort, where in half an hour I could
have had a good supper and a bottle of wine."

"Your pardon, sir," said the other. "We can give you the bottle of wine
here,--though all you can have for supper, I am afraid, will be some
sardines, d'Olonne, and bread. But, as to proceeding, you will have to
make a little turn out of your way and go to Nantes. You will have four
soldiers out of my troop for protection,--merely for protection."

"As a prisoner, in short," said Edward, gravely. "I had thought the
cardinal's name was more potent in France."

"It is very potent," replied the officer, with a smile. "But he knows
his signature better than we do; and the truth is, although the seal is
certainly official, we had an intimation yesterday, about three o'clock,
that a young English gentleman, with three attendants, would endeavor to
pass the lines, and that it was necessary to stop him, as he was an
agent of the enemy. You have but one attendant; but your pass says
three, and you have yourself acknowledged that you have left two
behind."

"This is the work of some private enemy," said Master Ned, gravely; for
the situation was not at all pleasant. "The intimation, of course, came
from Rochelle?"

The officer nodded. "Then," continued the youth, "you put faith in your
enemies rather than in the signature of your own prime minister."

"Jargeau," whispered Pierrot. But the officer cut discussion short,
saying, "I act under orders, gentlemen, and can only say further that
you do not exactly go as prisoners, and may regulate your marches as you
please. You can set out at once if you please, or you can wait till
daybreak."

"At once," said Edward, somewhat sternly: "the end of my journey is
Geneva or Savoy, and I am anxious to get out of a country as soon as
possible where even a regular passport does not protect one from
detention."

"But the wine and the sardines?" said Pierrot.

"They can be brought while the men are making ready," replied the
officer; and, with a polite bow, he left them still under guard.

The wine and the sardines d'Olonne were brought and rapidly consumed.
Their horses' feet were heard before the door, and, mounting, Pierrot
and Master Ned, with four soldiers accompanying them, rode away in the
direction of Nantes. It is a long and rather dreary ride at all times,
and to Edward it was particularly unpleasant, for he had to remember a
fact which the reader has probably forgotten, namely, that people who
took advantage without right of other people's safe-conducts were in
those days very frequently hanged. Now, Master Ned had a mortal aversion
to hemp. All depends upon the application of things. An old saw well
applied is excellent, detestable when wrongly introduced. A
Burgundy-pitch plaster on the chest is a capital remedy for incipient
bronchitis, but has quite a contrary effect when applied to the mouth
and nose. It is all the same with hemp. Used in rigging a ship, it is
all very well; in the abstract it is a soft though somewhat tenacious
fibre, which would not much hurt a fly; but when twisted into several
strands and used as a tight cravat it is unpleasant, and often
dangerous. In this light it was viewed by Edward Langdale; but he had
run a good many hair's-breadth risks since he had been Lord Montagu's
page, and the idea of the hemp did not exclude from his mind the idea of
Lucette. (There are two "ideas" in the last sentence, which the verbal
critics may call tautologous; but I will let them both stand, for it
were well if there were as many ideas in most people's noddles.)

However, as it is a very dreary road from Mauzé toward Nantes, and as
the reflections of poor Edward Langdale were drearier still, I will not
pause upon the details, but merely say that thought after thought
followed each other through his head,--sometimes of the danger which he
himself ran, sometimes of the dangers which surrounded Lucette, and
sometimes of the chances of making his escape. This continued for some
three hours, during which time the body was suffering hardly less than
the mind. Barely recovered from severe illness, he had quitted Rochelle
too early: he had since undergone the fatigues of a storm at sea, a long
anxious ride, a short imprisonment, and now a three hours' journey, with
little food and only one hour's sleep out of thirty-six, upon the banks
of the Sevre Niortaise. As day began faintly to dawn, fatigue and
drowsiness overpowered him; and twice he swung to the side of his horse
as if he were about to fall.

The soldier who rode by his side, and who was well aware that his
superiors had considerable doubt as to whether they were right or wrong
in sending the young gentleman to Nantes at all, seeing his state,
addressed him civilly, telling him that two miles in advance there was
the village of Le Breuil Bertin, where he would find a good clean
cabaret and could both have an excellent breakfast and repose for a few
hours in comfort.

"I thought we were to go to Nantes as fast as we could," said Master
Ned.

"Monsieur is the master," replied the man. "I was only told to see you
safe to Nantes and show you all attention on the road. So I shall
certainly take your orders as to where we shall stop, and how long. At
all events, we must feed the horses at Le Breuil."

"Well, then, I will stay and rest there," said Edward, very glad to
obtain time for somewhat clearer and more composed reflection than the
state of his brain had heretofore permitted; and at Le Breuil they
accordingly paused.

In the two hundred and odd revolutions of the great humming-top which
have since taken place, Le Breuil Bertin, which was then a very
flourishing village, with a pretty church, a very tolerable inn, and, at
a little distance, a royal abbey, has become a mere hamlet; but then the
cabaret appeared a blessed haven of repose to Edward Langdale: every
thing had a clean and smiling air, and the very sight was a refreshment.
He ordered breakfast, which was in those days always accompanied by
wine, and, though he ate little, he felt stronger for the meal. Then,
after calling Pierrot apart and admonishing him in regard to brandy, he
said he should like to rest for a few hours, and was shown to a chamber
where was a bed of wool as soft as down. It is true that there was but
one staircase leading to the room assigned him, and that, Le Breuil
being built upon a gentle hill, and the inn upon the edge of the hill,
the window had a fall of thirty feet below it,--quite as good, under all
ordinary circumstances, as iron bars. But Edward did not meditate escape
just then, and all he expected was thought and repose.

Weariness and wakefulness are sometimes strangely combined. "Too tired
to sleep," say people very often; and they say rightly; but it generally
happens--at least in my own case--that fatigue of mind has been added to
fatigue of body when we cannot woo to our pillow "tired nature's sweet
restorer." We have in short been spurring both horses so hard that their
sides are sore. So it was with Edward Langdale. He could not close an
eye: he could not think,--at least collectedly. His mind went rambling
about, first to one subject of consideration, then to another, without
resting upon any. This continued for about two hours; but when the
sergeant, corporal, lunce prisade, or whatever he was, looked in to see
whether he would like to go to mass, the young gentleman was as sound
asleep as he could be, and did not hear the opening or closing door.

Now, the soldier was a native of Le Breuil Bertin, and, moreover, he had
been brought up a Protestant,--born a Protestant, I had better have
said; for I fear me much that, both in regard to religion and politics,
birth has a good deal to do with the matter. However, being but an
indifferent controversialist, and meeting with a wise Catholic priest,
and having some interest in the army, and the greater part of the
population being of the Romish Church, he had four good reasons for
being converted; and he was so. But the worthy man was mild in his
apostasy, and, as a native of Le Breuil, did not care how long a
gentleman, whether Huguenot or Papist, kept him there, nor whether he
went to mass or conventicle.

Thus Edward was suffered to slumber undisturbed from nine till one, when
he turned on his other side without waking, and then from one till six,
when a little noise about the inn made some impression on his senses.

The sun by this time was so far down as to have left an eye of gray in
the sky; but it was not yet dark; and Edward had just swung his feet
over the edge of the bed, and was rubbing his eyes with a certain
doubtfulness whether he would lie down again or not, when his door
opened, and the soldier appeared, supporting a boy dressed in a loose
black velvet overcoat, and asking, "Pray, sir, is this your page?"

Edward started forward at once and took her hand, answering, "Certainly.
How came he here?"

The man was about to reply; but as he uttered the first words Lucette
began to sink, and the color quite forsook her lips. Edward caught her
in his arms before she fell and laid her gently on the bed from which he
had just risen, saying, "Send Pierrot here, good sir,--my servant, I
mean."

The man smiled slightly, but departed; and, before Pierrot appeared,
Lucette somewhat revived, saying, in a low, faint voice, "I am so tired,
Edward, and have been so frightened. I fear I may have betrayed you by
my weakness."

"Get some wine, Pierrot!" exclaimed the lad, as the man entered. "Or
stay you here, and I will see for it myself. Fear not, dear Lucette. All
will go well."

They were vague words of comfort enough,--such as a man speaks when his
only trust is in Providence; yet they comforted Lucette. And some water
which Pierrot held to her lips did her good also; but, to tell the
truth, that which revived her most was the reappearance of Edward
Langdale. He brought wine with him,--the first he could find; but he
could hardly pour out a glassful when the good mistress of the house
entered and stayed his hand, saying, "Leave her to me, young gentleman.
Do not be foolish. Your secret shall be safe with me, upon my honor,--if
it be a secret; but all the world can see this is no boy. I have girls
myself, and will treat her like a daughter." And, gently putting the two
men out, she shut and locked the door.



CHAPTER XI.


"My good sir," said Edward Langdale, addressing the chief of the guard,
whom he found conversing with two troopers whom he had not before
seen,--"my good sir, I think it will be necessary for me to change my
mode of travelling. I have just recovered from a severe illness, and am
still weak. So much riding on horseback fatigues me, as you may see by
my long sleep this day; and I would be glad if I could procure a coach.
You can guard us as well, or better then than if we continue as we have
begun. Why are you smiling?"

The last words had a slight tone of irritation in them; for Edward had
remarked a previous smile with which the man had brought Lucette into
his chamber, and he had arrived at that point on the road to love where
one feels vexed at the very thought of any reflection upon a
sweetheart's name or character.

But the soldier answered, civilly, "I was thinking, sir, that if you
can, being sick and weak, keep such a tight hold as you did last night
upon Guillaume Bheel's wrist, what sort of a grip you must take when
you are well and strong. But, as to a carrosse, there is none in the
village, and we shall have to send to Aligre, or Marans, as it is
sometimes called, to get one; and Aligre is three leagues off. However,
we can very well stop the night if you please."

"Well, have the kindness to send for one," said the youth: "there is a
piece of gold for the messenger, and I will pay the owner well. Let it
be here early,--by daybreak, if possible; for I am anxious to arrive at
Nantes soon, as I shall certainly be liberated from this sort of
captivity there."

It were vain to deny that the arrival of Lucette, while it relieved his
mind considerably in one respect, embarrassed it considerably in
another. Lucette was safe; but could he answer that she would continue
so? What was he to do with her? What would become of her at Nantes if he
were imprisoned there, or perhaps executed? All these questions he put
to himself; and they were difficult to answer. Still, to treat the
matter commercially, when he put down on the one side of the account all
the difficulties and dangers, and on the other the happiness of knowing
she was safe, and the delight of having her with him, he could not for
the life of him think the balance was against him. But then it was
evident that poor Lucette's disguise had not the effect of a disguise at
all, and Edward was as thoughtful of her reputation as a prude. Oh,
sweet delicacy of early youth, how soon thou art rubbed off in the
grating commerce of the world! I fear me that it rarely happens--with
men, at least--that the soft bloom remains on the plum a day after it is
separated from the parent tree. Yet it was so with Edward still; for he
had hitherto had to deal with the harder, not the softer, things of
life; and his nascent love for Lucette rendered the feeling still more
fine and sensitive. Sequiter Deum, however, could only be his motto; for
at present he had no power over his own fate.

With these thoughts and feelings he returned to the door of the room
where he had slept so long, and knocked for admission, which was given
at once.

"She is getting quite well now," said the good landlady, "but you will
have to stay here to-night, for she is too tired to go farther."

Edward explained that he had sent for a coach, which could not arrive
till the following morning, and, sitting down beside Lucette, began to
converse with her in English, while the landlady continued at the table
listening to the strange language, and apparently trying if she could
make any thing of it. In that tongue Lucette, whose sweet lips had
regained their color and her beautiful eyes their sparkle, told him all
that had happened to her since he had left her,--how, with anxiety and
fear, she had remained in her place of concealment hour after hour till
near the dawn of day,--how good Jacques Beaupré had tried to console and
comfort her in vain, till at length suspense became unendurable, and she
had determined to go forth and try to pass the royalist lines
herself,--how Jacques had remonstrated,--how she had persisted, and how
she had not gone three hundred yards before she was challenged, stopped,
and taken to the little house occupied by Monsieur de Lude, who
commanded in that quarter. Her companion, she said, had disappeared at
the very moment of her own arrest, and she did not know what had become
of him. Monsieur de Lude, however, was an elderly man and very
courteous, who asked her a number of questions.

"And what, in Heaven's name, did you tell him, dear Lucette?" asked
Edward.

"Not much," replied the sweet girl. "I determined at once that I would
speak no French; and, as he could speak no English, he gained nothing
from me. At length he put pen and paper before me, and made signs to me
to write down who and what I was. I then wrote that I was your page, who
had remained behind you, being frightened, but who, repenting of my
cowardice, had come on, thinking to overtake you. The old gentleman sent
for some of his officers who knew a little English; and between them
they made out what I had written."

"Did you write my own name, dear girl?" asked Edward, with some anxiety.

"Nay," replied Lucette, "I wrote the name you told us was in your
pass,--Sir Peter Apsley,--and I described you as well as I could. Then,
to my great joy, I heard Monsieur de Lude say to the officers, 'I am
afraid we have made a mistake in stopping him. That was clearly the
cardinal's safe-conduct; and we must send the page after him. Richelieu
dislikes too much as well as too little zeal; and, on my life, it is
likely we shall be scolded for not having properly reverenced his
signature.' I do think, dear Edward, I could have persuaded him to let
us all go on our way, if I had dared to speak French to him; but, after
having pretended not to understand a word, I was afraid."

Now, good casuists have clearly shown two things,--that it is perfectly
justifiable to deceive on some occasions, and that we had better not do
it on any. The present is a good elucidation. If ever a girl was
justified in feigning, Lucette was so; but still she got nothing by it,
except a long ride in the way she did not want to go, and she lost all
the advantages of her little innocent trick by the very trick itself. So
it seems to me, at least,--although there may be people who differ with
me on the subject, and, if so, I beg to state that I will not enter with
them into a further discussion of the subject, at least on paper.

One advantage, however, which neither Edward nor Lucette then knew, but
which had accrued from her interview with Monsieur de Lude, was this:
the officers had let the men understand that they were all very doubtful
as to whether they had done right or wrong in ignoring the name of
Richelieu--then becoming very terrible--written at the bottom of the
safe-conduct, and that therefore the young gentleman and his suite were
to be treated with the utmost respect and consideration. The soldiers
who had escorted Lucette had communicated this to those who had guarded
Edward Langdale, and the intelligence was not without a great effect
upon men who knew that those who present themselves with agreeable
intelligence find a good reception and often a reward, whereas those who
come upon a blundering errand get kicks for their only recompense.

To return to my story, however. I will not dwell upon the passing of
that night. As far as Edward and Lucette were concerned, it passed as
properly and as decently as possible; and, if any one suspects the
contrary, it is the fault of his own imagination. The next morning,
though not exactly at daybreak, the coach--or carrosse, as the people
called it--arrived from Marans, and all was soon ready for departure.
Edward and his pretty page took their seats within. Pierrot, mounted,
led one horse beside the carriage; one of the guards led another, and
the whole cortège set out for Nantes at a brisk pace of three miles an
hour, or thereabouts. There are other countries in the world where one
can still go at the same pace; but, as Nantes was about ninety miles
distant, it was very evident three days must be consumed in the journey.
Now, it was very pleasant to Edward Langdale to sit side by side with
Lucette, especially when, by way of emphasis to any thing of particular
importance he was saying, he took her soft little hand in his; indeed,
it often rested there quite tranquilly for full ten minutes; and, as he
had no inclination to arrive at Nantes at all, he certainly did not
hurry the horses. Youth has the power of removing evil days,--of
multiplying the intervening hours; and the first part of the journey was
very sweet to both, although the gloomy-looking Nemesis of Nantes was
still before them. But, after Sevigné was passed, and Marans, where they
only stopped to water the horses, the two young people began to think
seriously--somewhat sadly--of the future, and to consider whether it
would not be both prudent and possible to escape. Now, this change of
thoughts and purposes probably took place from the simple fact of both
being refreshed and reinvigorated by repose; but, certainly, things
began to seem quite practicable to Edward, and even very feasible, which
had before seemed impossible, or highly perilous. The country now became
fertile in windmills, country-houses, and canals, and Edward proposed to
get out and ride a little. Lucette gazed at him timidly with a
"do-not-leave-me" look; but he explained to her that he was going to
sound the leader of their escort, and she made no opposition. He was
soon mounted, and rode forward with the good Bertinois, saying, in a
gay tone, "I am not going to run away."

The man made no reply till they were out of ear-shot of the rest; but
then he answered, "If you did, monsieur, I should not try to stop you;
but others might."

There was so much gained. "Perhaps the others may be out of the way at
some place upon the road," said Edward, "and I dare say we might slip
away easily without being noticed."

He looked keenly in the man's face as he spoke; but the soldier did not
move a muscle.

"Perhaps such a thing might be done," said the man, after pausing for a
moment or two. "We were not told to watch you very closely; and during
one of the nights it would not be very difficult; but of course you do
not intend to try."

"I am not very fond of going to Nantes," said Master Ned.

"Why?" asked the soldier, with an air of great simplicity.

"First, because it is out of my way," answered Edward; "secondly,
because I have no clothes with me, and I should have to appear at the
court; and thirdly, because probably before I get to Nantes my purse,
which is not now very full, will probably be emptier by a thousand
livres."

The reason last assigned seemed to have some weight with the man: "It is
bad to have an empty purse," he said. "But come, sir, these cannot be
your only reasons. I wish you would give one which might touch an honest
man and a loyal servant of the king."

A bright thought struck Edward at that moment. He knew not whether the
man was trying to entrap him into a confession of some sinister design,
or whether in good faith he sought--as many a man will do--an excuse to
himself for acting as he wished. Now, it was evident that Lucette's
disguise was of no avail,--that the soldier himself knew that she was no
page, and that the truth would be made manifest at Nantes. Riding closer
to him, therefore, he said, in a low and confidential voice, "It is not
for myself I so much care; but cannot you comprehend that I have got one
with me whom I would not have discovered for the world?"

"Whew!" cried the soldier, with a long whistle: "I see! I see!" and
then, holding out his hand to Edward, he added, "Count upon me,
monsieur; count upon me. I can manage the other men. But how happens it
that neither of you have any baggage? Sapristi! you must have come away
in a great hurry; and you are both very young."

"The baggage was left with my other servant, who stayed behind but was
to follow soon. I trust it is at Niort by this time."

A conversation of an hour's length ensued; in the course of which Edward
Langdale convinced himself that his companion was sincere in his
professions; and at the end of that time he returned to the carriage,
carrying with him hope nearly touching joy.

The party were now entering, or had entered, upon a tract of country
singular in its nature, its aspect, and its habits. It is called _Les
marais_, (the marshes,) and, as it may perhaps have something to do with
our story, it must have a very brief description. This might be
difficult to give, as I have never seen more than the extreme verge of
the district; but, luckily, at my hand lies the account of one who knew
it well, had passed long months there, and who lived much nearer the
times of which I write. Thus he speaks:--"The inhabitant of the marshes
is taller than the inhabitant of the plain: he is stouter; his limbs are
more massive; but he wants both health and agility. He is coarse,
apathetic, and narrow in his views. A cabin of reeds, a little meadow,
some cows, a boat,--which serves him for fishing, and often for stealing
forage along the river-banks,--a gun to shoot wild fowl, are all his
fortune, and his only means of subsistence. Exposed continually at his
own fireside to all sorts of maladies, his constitution must be very
strong not to give way entirely. His food is barley-bread mixed with
rye, abundance of vegetables, salt meat, and curds. His habitual drink
is the water of the canals and ditches,--a source of innumerable
maladies. The agricultural proprietors, or great farmers, known by the
name of Cabiners, (_cabaniers,_) lead a very different life, and do not
deny themselves any of the comforts they can procure.

"The inhabitants of this picturesque abode appear, at first sight, the
most wretched of mankind. Their cottages of brush and mud are covered
with reeds. Unknown to the rest of the world, upon a tongue of land of
from twenty-five to thirty paces wide, they live in the depths of
inaccessible labyrinths, with their wives, their children, and their
cattle. The silence of these swampy deserts, which is only broken by the
cry of the water-fowl, the mysterious shadow spread over the canals by
the intertwined boughs above them, the paleness and miserable air of the
people, that narrow border which seems to place an immense interval
between them and all mankind, the sombre hue of the landscape,--all
inspire at the first glance a painful and melancholy feeling, which it
is difficult to get rid of. But, on penetrating into the interior, the
freshness of these cradles, the meanderings of these water paths, the
innumerable varieties of birds one meets at every step and which one
meets nowhere but there, cause the first sensations to be followed by a
feeling of peaceful retirement, which is not without its charm."

Such was the scene, or rather the country, upon which Edward and Lucette
entered just as the sun was within half an hour of setting, when every
little ridge or hillock cast a long blue shadow upon the brown moor, and
the many intricate canals and little rivers acted as mirrors to the
glories of the western sky, flashing back the last red rays, as if
rubies were dissolved in the calm waters. It was a fine country to
escape in.



CHAPTER XII.


As much consideration and caution were necessary in proceeding after the
sun was set, as a young man requires on his first outset in a court. The
darkness was as profound, there were as many unseen dangers, pitfalls,
ponds, and swamps around; and, though the stars were all out and
shining, no queenly moon was in the sky to light one on the long way.
Night after night she was now rising at a later hour; and the beams
which had cheered the course of the two young travellers on their sail
from Rochelle would not be renewed ere their resting-place for the night
was reached. At length, about eight o'clock, on looking from the
portière of the coach, Edward thought he saw either a little mound or a
heavy pile of building before him, and in about ten minutes the horses'
feet clattered over the stone pavement of a court. The leader of the
escort had gone on before; and now, as Master Ned and his fair companion
alighted, they found the good soldier standing under a heavy stone
portal, conversing with a man in a monk's gown.

"It looks like a prison," said Lucette, as she gazed up by the light of
a lantern.

She spoke in a low voice; but her words caught the ear of the monk, who
replied, "This is the Abbey of Moreilles, young gentleman. I will take
you first to the strangers' parlor, and then will show you round the
building, if you like; for your escort tells me you propose to go on by
daybreak, and you should not miss the opportunity of seeing so famous an
edifice."

Lucette replied that she was very tired, and should prefer to lie down
to rest; but Edward caught eagerly at the proposal, from several
motives. First, he was anxious to keep Lucette as far as possible from
the monk's eye, and was even afraid that her sweet voice might betray
her; and then he had his reasons for observing accurately every part of
the building.

"Well, well, I will take you round in a minute or two," replied the
monk; "but I must first see that some of the cells are ready, for this
good gentleman tells me that you two young people are very devout, and
would like best to sleep in cells where saints have lived and died in
the odor of sanctity. Here, here is the parlor. Let me light a lamp.
Most of the brethren have retired, for it has been very hot this
evening. What changes of weather, good lack! Yesterday was as cold as
Noël, and to-night it is as warm as St. John's."

While he spoke, he lighted a small lamp, with shaking hands, and then
left the three in the parlor together, going himself to prepare the
cells.

"Now listen, young people," said the soldier, as soon as the monk was
gone, speaking quick, but low: "keep ready and wakeful, and at three
o'clock it shall go hard but you shall find a boat, with a man in it,
upon the canal at the back of the abbey. Go with that man wherever he
rows you."

"But how shall I find the boat, or the canal either?" asked Edward.
"Remember, I have never been here before."

"As we go round the building," replied the other, "I will show you the
door which is always left open for the drones who sleep in this wing of
the abbey to find their way to the church at matins. I will pinch your
arm as we pass it. God wot! if they did not leave it open, their winking
eyes would lead them into the canal. That old fellow must make haste, or
we shall have my comrades with us; and it were better not till Master
Page has gone to his cell. You had better give them plenty of drink,
young gentleman, that they may stupefy themselves to-night and sleep
heavily to-morrow morning. I have got two miles on foot to go to see a
friend, but will be back in an hour or two. Ply them well while I am
gone; but, mind you, keep your own head clear."

"But shall I find any liquor here?" asked Edward, in some surprise.

The soldier nodded his head, and pointed to a number of stains upon the
table, saying, "I have had more than one roaring bout in this very room.
Those stains were not made with water. Every thing can be had for money
in a _moustèr_."

"But I had better give you what I promised before the monk comes back,"
said Edward,--the word _money_ awakening many other ideas.

"Let me see how much you have got," said the man: "you will need some
for your two selves; and, besides, there is that long thin fellow with a
red face,--that servant of yours. Do not let him drink. Let us see."

Edward took out his purse of doeskin, which now contained about
seventeen hundred livres in gold. What between the purchase of the
horses, and various expenses at the inns, the rest was all spent, though
it was better furnished when he left Rochelle; and there was more in
his bags, probably lost forever.

"That is not enough to give me a thousand livres," said the man; "but
the three horses are worth something. That one you ride is a good one,
and so is the young lady's,--the page's, I mean. Give me five hundred,
and write me a promise of the horses in payment of the rest of the sums
I have advanced,--the horses to be given up to me when you get to the
end of your journey, which will be here, I suppose, but which they will
understand as Nantes. That will give me a right to claim them."

Now, it is quite possible that one, if not more, of my sagacious readers
will be inclined to think that I have been drawing an inconsistent
character. It is very true the soldier was a right generous and a
kind-hearted fellow. He liked to do a good turn. He liked especially to
help two young lovers,--by-the-way, he had been crossed in love himself,
though his history would be too long to tell here,--and yet he was not
unwilling to take money out of their pockets when they had little
enough, and to secure their horses for his own advantage. It was very
inconsistent,--very inconsistent indeed. But I have now lived a
tolerable number of years in the world, and all my life I have been
looking for consistent men, and have not found more than six at the
utmost. The fact is, man is a bundle,--a bundle of very contrary
qualities,--to say nothing of the mere absolute opposition of body and
soul in the mass. There are packages of good feelings and packages of
bad feelings; rolls of wit and rolls of dullness; papers full of sense
and papers full of nonsense; a lump of generosity here and a lump of
selfishness there; and all tied up so tightly together that in a damp
and foggy world they sooner or later mould and mildew each other. Thus,
if I hear of a great man doing a little action, or a wise man committing
a foolish one, instead of crying out, "How inconsistent!" I say, "It is
very natural." Now, if it be very natural everywhere, it is still more
natural in France; for, having inhabited that beautiful country and
lived amongst her gallant and intellectual people a great part of my
life, I have come to the conclusion that the most varied creature upon
the face of the earth _per se_--in himself, in his own nature and
composition--is a Frenchman.

While the soldier has been making all his arrangements with Master Ned,
and while we have been discussing the knotty point of his inconsistency,
&c., the old monk, with the lantern in his hand, has been getting ready
two cells at the farther end of the long corridor, and the troopers and
Pierrot, together with the driver of the coach, have been taking care of
the horses. But the monk, having the least to do,--for the furniture of
a cell is not usually superabundant, nor its bed difficult to
make,--returns first, and conducts Lucette to her sleeping-place,
without the slightest idea that she is any thing but a very pretty boy;
for his eyes are not very clear, and the lantern dimmer than his eyes,
and the lamp upon the table duller than the lantern. Edward Langdale
accompanied them to see her cell. It was next to his own,--a pleasant
proximity; and, telling her he would presently bring her some
refreshment, he left her. As he walked slowly back with the monk, he
came upon the subject of some stronger liquor than water,--at which the
old man looked shocked; but, upon Edward alluding to the stains upon the
table, and bestowing a donation,--entirely for the abbey,--the ferocity
of his temperance abated, and he ran to the refectory-man, or some other
competent officer, with whom he shared his gains, and informed him what
a generous young gentleman they had got under their roof. The supper did
not suffer in consequence; but, while it was preparing, Edward and the
soldier accompanied the old man through church and cloisters, passages
and corridors. Neither gained much knowledge of architecture, or of the
particular Abbey of Moreilles. I would advise no one who wishes to
criticize that of Westminster to go there at night with nothing but a
bad tallow candle in a dirty lantern; and, though I have it upon good
authority that before the conflagration Moreilles was decorated with the
most beautiful flamboyant arches, mouldings hardly surpassed in
richness, and, moreover, twenty-six cluster-columns of prodigious
height, each with an exquisite capital totally different from all the
others, Edward saw nothing but dark vaults, masses of stone, and a door.
But that door was all he wanted to see; and as he passed it the soldier
gave him a good hard pressure on the arm. It was, luckily, within about
ten paces of Lucette's cell.

However, on reaching the strangers' parlor, the little party found the
troopers and Pierrot and the driver, and three more monks, and, what was
more to the purpose, a table laid with several large pies and a quantity
of barley-bread. The means of potation had not yet appeared, but tarried
not long; and a meal ensued which I need not further describe than by
saying that the pies comprised rabbits and wild ducks; and none of the
unlearned can imagine what an excellent thing a wild-duck pie can be
made by the mere process of skinning the ducks.

After a few mouthfuls, the leader of the guard rose and left the room,
saying he must go and see his cousin, who, "as they all knew, lived hard
by;" and the rest of the troopers set to serious work first upon some
sour wine, and then upon some of that good or bad spirit which has
crowned the name of Nantes with a certain sort of immortality. Poor
Pierrot! it was a sore temptation for him, especially when his young
master was gone to carry some refreshment to _the page_; but he resisted
during the very short period of Edward's absence, and Master Ned's eye
was a strong corroborative of resolution after his return. The monks
tasted, at first shyly, and then more boldly; and Edward drew from them
the important fact that there were very few brethren in the convent,
some of them being absent on _quête_, some on leave. Moreover the abbey,
he said, had never been very full, since the abbacy--as was so common in
France--had been bestowed upon a well-known painter of Paris, a layman.

There was some deep drinking that night; but still Pierrot, though he
could have emptied the most capacious flagon there at an easy draught,
maintained the combat against habit gloriously, till at length, just as
the leader of the party returned, at the end of two hours, the good
Rochellois, finding himself weak with the labor of resistance, retired to
rest, after having received a hint from his master, which happily he was
in a state to profit by,--happily indeed for him. "The primrose path to
the everlasting bonfire" men have strewed in their imaginations with all
sorts of sweet things; but, take my word for it, it is paved by
_Example_,--that most slippery and dangerous of all asphalts. Luckily
for him, the troopers did not care a fig whether he drank or not, and
thus all he had to resist was the sight of outstretched arms and full
cups; but he had something better on the other side: he had the warning
of rolling eyes, and hiccoughing throats, and maudlin faces, and
embarrassed tongues, which he had never seen before when he was himself
sober enough to appreciate them fully. "Well, drunkenness," he thought,
as he left the room, "is a very beastly thing, it is true."

The monks withdrew nearly at the same time; and I am well pleased to say
that, although they had shown during that night, amongst the pies and
the pottles, no narrow objection to either those carnal or those
spiritual things which some castes of Hindoos call the "creature
comforts of life," not one of them had an uneven step or an unsteady
head. Probably they drank seldom; for those who drink often deprive
themselves of the power of drinking at all,--soberly.

The coach-driver was soon under the table; and the troopers, though most
of them, when the last drop provided was emptied from the flask, could
make their way by diagonals to the dormitory assigned to them, were in a
state which promised no early rising on the following day; and Edward
and his friendly soldier parted about eleven o'clock, the latter merely
saying, "We shall have a heavy storm to-night. The clouds are rolling up
like distant mountains. But all the better for your purpose. Remember
three!"

The consequences! Good God! How frightful a thing it is to consider
what--under an overruling hand and will omnipotent--may be the
consequences of the smallest deed we do. The consequences immediate,
proximate, future! How many lives, what an amount of misery, how much
damnation, may depend upon a light word, an idle jest, a sportive trick!

Should such a consideration forbid us to act and do, to resolve and to
perform? Far from it. Man is an active being, and his life is deeds.
Each moment must have its thought or its action, or the whole is sleep;
but the consideration of that strange thing, CONSEQUENCE,--that
overruling of our deeds to ends that we see not,--should teach us so to
frame thought, word, and act, that, be the consequences what they may,
we may be able at the great end of all to say, boldly, "I did it in an
honest heart." God himself is responsible for the result if man acts
with purity of intent.

Not one man in that small room who had that night "sinned as it were
with a cart-rope" ever saw the dawning of the morning; and it was a
heavy thought to Edward Langdale for many a year after, "What share had
I in this?" For himself, he took the little lamp which had been left for
him, and sought the cell where his pallet lay. But he had no thought of
sleep. As he went along the corridor, with the rays just gleaming upon
the fretted stone-work, something like a flash reddened the dim panes of
the painted windows, and some seconds afterward a distant roar was
heard, as if of a heavy sea rolling along an extended shore. "It will
thunder," he said to himself; but he thought of it no more; and, opening
the door of the cell, on the little table beneath the window appeared
the missal and the skull and cross-bones--the _memento mori_ of the
cloister.



CHAPTER XIII.


The table, the book, the pallet, the grinning emblem of death, and a
little black crucifix hung up against the wall, were--with the exception
of a large pitcher of very clear, cold water--all that the cell
contained; and yet it was by no means without ornament, for each of
those chambers looking to the western cloister had a window divided into
two by a beautiful mullion and was garnished all round, even in the
interior, with mouldings a foot in depth. The original small panes of
stained glass were also there, but Edward could at first form no idea of
the richness of the coloring; for, although the moon had now risen
several hours, the face of heaven was black with clouds, and all without
was darkness. About five minutes after he had entered the cell, however,
the whole interior of the little room, where the feeble oil-lamp had
only made the darkness visible, was pervaded by intense light, and an
image of the stained-glass window was thrown upon the floor and
opposite wall in colors the most intense and beautiful. Still, the
thunder did not follow for several seconds; but when it did come the
roar was awful. It seemed as if some one were pouring rocks and
mountains in a stream upon the roof of the abbey, making the very solid
walls and foundations shake. Edward drew forth his watch,--one of the
rude contrivances of those days, but with the great advantage of having
the figures on the dial plain and distinct,--and, holding it to the
lamp, perceived it was a quarter past one. "Lucette must be awake," he
thought: "she could not sleep through such a crash as that. I will wait
five minutes and then go and call her."

In the mean time the flashes of lightning became more frequent, some
followed by heavy thunder, some passing away in silence, till at length
they grew so rapid in succession that one could not attach the roar to
the flame. Edward's first knock brought Lucette, completely dressed, to
the door; and he was surprised to see her cheek so pale. The thought of
danger had never entered his own mind; but he clearly saw that she was
much agitated. "You are not afraid, dear girl?" he asked: "it is but a
little thunder."

"It is not fear, but awe, Edward," she said. "But is it time to go? I am
ready."

"Not yet," he answered; "but we may as well stay here in the passage. If
the storm should alarm the monks, and any one come out, we can say we
are frightened too."

"Is not that some one crossing there?" asked Lucette; but almost as she
spoke a sudden flash showed that what she took for a man was but a short
pillar. Edward drew her closer to him and put his arm round her. She did
not feel at all angry, but rather clung to his side. Fear is a great
smoother away of all prudery; and, to say sooth, Lucette had very little
of it to be planed down. The fact is, she was innocent in heart and mind
as a young child; and innocence is never prudish,--nor is real delicacy.

    "Ne fiez-vous a l'Angelus;
    Mais craignez les bois et les orages,"

says an old French song about two lovers somewhat similarly situated;
but Edward and Lucette ran no danger from any thing but the lightning.
It, however, was now really terrific. The clouds, crammed with
electricity, were evidently directly over the abbey, and every instant
the blaze was running across the windows, the various colors of which
gave the flashes the effect of fireworks more brilliant than any that
ever were constructed by the hand of man.

At length a sound, not the roaring roll of thunder, but an explosion, as
it were, as if some mighty cannon had burst, shook the very ground on
which they stood. Then came a moment's pause, and then a peculiar
noise,--it might be thunder, or it might not, but it seemed more like
the sound of stones rolling rapidly and heavily over each other and then
falling from a height to the ground. The next instant a heavy bell began
to toll, but ceased after three or four strokes had been struck,
mingling strangely with a peal of thunder which was then echoing through
the building.

A spirit of confusion now seemed to seize upon the abbey: the door at
the end of the corridor was thrown open; monks were seen hurrying
across, moving a little way up the passage and disappearing by another
door. There were voices calling and screaming too, and Edward thought he
could distinguish groans and shrieks; while ever and anon a little bell
was heard ringing with a small, tinkling sound; and, in strange discord
with all the rest, a solemn strain of music burst upon the ear whenever
the little door on the left was opened.

Edward tried to ascertain from one of the passing monks what was the
matter; but he could get no intelligible answer; and it was with
infinite satisfaction that at length he saw Pierrot appear, coming
toward them in haste.

"The great tower has been struck, sir," said the man, in answer to his
inquiries; "and Heaven knows how much of it has tumbled down over the
other cloisters. One of the monks is killed, they say, and several other
people are crushed under the stones; but, what is worse than all, just
as they were ringing the great bell, they found out that the lightning
when it struck had set the tower on fire, for the rope broke short off,
and the end that came down upon the sacristan's head was burning. There
is no hope of getting it put out; for some are carrying off the
ornaments of the church, some are praying, some are singing, some are
whipping themselves; and the best thing we can do is to get out to the
bank of the canal,--if we can find the way; for, though the hour you
told me is not quite come, we can wait there more safely than here,
where we are likely to have the roofs and buttresses on our heads every
minute."

Edward pressed Lucette a little closer to him and whispered something,
to which she answered, "Anywhere you will.--Trust you? Oh, yes!" And,
getting her large hat from the cell, Edward placed it on her head so as
to conceal as far as possible her wonderfully luxuriant hair: then,
leading her down the passage, opened the door which the soldier had
pointed out to him. Instantly a flash of lightning crossed their eyes;
but it served to show, though it lived but a second, the dull, heavy
features of the Marais, with not one, but half a dozen, streams of
zigzag lightning playing through the sky,--some, as the levin-bolt is
usually represented, darting down to earth like a flaming javelin,
others twisting into all shapes, and even running up, like fiery
serpents disporting themselves in the horrors of the storm. What was of
more importance, however, to Edward and Lucette, that flash displayed,
close before them, one of those long rows of willows and ash-trees which
in that part of the country denote the course of the larger canals, and
also showed a break in the line of wood, where the monks probably went
down to fish from their own boats.

All the noises of the abbey were now heard far more distinctly, the
thunder notwithstanding; and through every window of the great church,
with its tall square tower, might be seen a red, ominous glare. But
onward Edward supported Lucette, with Pierrot feeling his way before
them, till a few steps brought them to the very edge of the water. Two
boats were fastened to the bank by chains; but there was no boatman
apparent, and Edward and his good servant consulted for a moment, with a
running accompaniment of lightning, as to whether it would not be better
to unloose one of the skiffs and seek safety somewhere.

"I can break the chain in a moment with a big stone, Master Ned," said
Pierrot; "but, as we do not know where to go, we had better wait for
some one to show us. Master George Brin, the good corporal, promised
that some one should be here at two; and, depend on it, he will keep his
word. Hark! I hear oars. It is not quite two yet; but you had better put
the young lady under that ash-tree, for it is beginning to rain, thank
God. That will soon put the thunder out; and pray Heaven it quenches the
fire in the church, too! Those monks are good, simple souls and merry."

Not more than two minutes after he had done speaking, a boat came up
quickly to the little landing-place, rowed by an elderly man, as far as
Edward could see by the lightning, who carefully avoided touching the
abbey boats, but, as soon as he backed his oars, looked round over the
bank.

"Ah, there you are!" he said, in a tongue which, though it was not
French at all, was a jargon quite understandable. "Get in! get in,
quick! Here, young man, give me your hand." And, catching Lucette's arm,
he lifted her in rather than aided her to embark. Edward and Pierrot
followed, and without another word the boatman pushed off. It was all
over in less than thirty seconds, and the boat had made some two hundred
yards over the water, the man pushing her along with a pole, before he
relinquished that instrument and sat down as if to resume his oars. The
rain was now beginning to fall thick in heavy drops, and the boatman, as
he pushed his bark along, had been scanning his party of passengers
earnestly. "Here," he said, at length, dragging something large and
shaggy from beneath one of the seats,--"here, you one in the large hat,
put this on, or you will get wet. The sky may come down in drops without
going through that."

"What is it?" asked Lucette, taking what the man offered, but not
comprehending what it was.

"A _peau de bique_, to-be-sure," replied the boatman. "You are the girl
that Georgy Brin told me of, are not you? I must not let you get wet;
for he says you are weakly. 'Tis a bad business, anyhow!" And, with this
sage reflection, he began vigorously to handle his oars.

Edward aided his fair companion to envelop herself in the water-proof
garment then and still common in that part of France; and the boat shot
on rapidly under the branches of the trees, which may be said to have
interlaced above them. For about a quarter of a mile all was darkness,
but at the end of that distance the boatman began to look up toward the
sky wherever a small patch of the heavens could be seen through the
overhanging trees. Edward, too, saw from time to time gleams of red
light upon the water; and it seemed as if the sky itself had caught fire
from the lightning and would soon be in one general blaze. Another
quarter of a mile brought the travellers to a spot where were two reed
cabins and an open space of ground round them; and there the boatman lay
upon his oars. All eyes were now turned toward the abbey, where a sight
at once sad and grand presented itself. The top of the great square
tower, like an immense altar, bore a pyramid of flame up to the skies;
and from every window and loophole issued forth a tongue of fire,
licking the gray walls. The windows even of the church were painted in
red upon the dark stone-work, whenever the cloud of smoke which
surrounded the whole of the lower part of the building like a vast
shroud suffered the masonry to appear.

"Alas for the poor monks!" said the boatman, with an unaffected sigh:
"if they did not do much good, they did not do any harm; and we might
have had worse people amongst us. That abbey has stood wellnigh four
hundred years, they tell me; and it was never touched by lightning until
now,--doubtless because they have given it to a lay abbot, and he turns
all the revenues to the works of man which were devoted to the works of
God. Well, we cannot help the poor souls." And, without further thought
of the burning edifice, he plied his oars again, and the boat cut her
way smoothly through the glassy waters, leaving long, fiery ripples
behind her.

Two miles more of hard rowing brought the party to a small farm, where
two or three of the same huts of mud, bushes, and reeds appeared close
together on the bank; and the rower paused before the largest of the
humble edifices, calling, in a loud voice, to persons who might not be
without ear-shot but who were certainly not within sight, to inform
them that he would not be home till daybreak. "The rain is falling," he
said, as if speaking to himself, "but the whole abbey will be down: that
is clear."

He then rowed on, pursuing for some three hundred yards the larger
canal; but at the end of that distance he turned into a very narrow and
sinuous channel, where he laid down his oars and propelled the boat
solely with the pole. The labor seemed hard, and the progress slow, and
Edward took the occasion to ask quietly whither they were going.

"To La Caponnière, to-be-sure," replied the man. "Did you not know
that?"

"No," replied the youth: "Monsieur Brin merely told me that he would
procure me a boat at two o'clock to carry us to a place of safety."

"Well, here is the boat," answered the man, "and La Caponnière is a
place of safety. There are no better people in the world than old Madame
Brin and her sons and daughters. They are cousins of his, you know, and
by this time they are ready to receive you. She was his cousin before
her marriage, you know, and then she married his first-cousin, who left
Niort in the time of the troubles; and so they are doubly cousins, you
know."

But, as Edward did not know any thing about it, he thought it better not
to show his ignorance, and resumed his English conversation with
Lucette.

The voyage--for we cannot call that a journey which was performed at
night upon the water--was somewhat long and fatiguing to the boatman;
but at length,--it must have been at least four o'clock in the
morning,--after turning and twisting, and sometimes grating against the
banks, the boat reached a spot where suddenly appeared a small,
star-like light from what seemed the window of a better house than any
they had yet passed, which, skipping over various indistinct objects,
rested more fully on a small skiff at the shore. Some one started up as
they approached: their boatman threw him a rope, and they were speedily
drawn up to the bank and moored.

"Come this way," said the lad who had been waiting for them, holding
out a great coarse hand to Lucette. "Here, mother; they are come." And,
leading the poor girl on, followed by Edward, he conducted her through a
little garden in which various kitchen-vegetables were more plentiful
than flowers. Half-way between the house and the canal they were met by
a goodly-sized dame of forty and a girl of some sixteen or seventeen,
who took Lucette frankly in their arms and gave her a warm embrace. "So
this is your young man, poor thing?" said the elder, looking at Edward;
but then, immediately turning to the boatman, she inquired, eagerly,
"What has been the meaning of all that red light out by the abbey?"

"There's no abbey by this time," answered the man. "But come, good dame,
let us in to your kitchen-fire, if you've got one, and I will tell you
all about it. We are all as wet as bull-frogs, except the girl; and I
gave her my _peau de bique_."

Thus saying, he pushed past the rest and entered a large, roomy kitchen,
well stored with every sort of salted and dried provisions, dependent
from great racks suspended from the ceiling.

There a hearty welcome awaited the poor wayfarers: the fire, which had
nearly gone out, was soon blown up into a cheerful blaze; warm soup was
produced; and to Lucette the good dame of the house, though she weighed
at least two hundred pounds, showed the tenderness and gentleness
associated by poets and romance-writers solely with sylphlike forms and
nymphlike graces. Her two good, buxom girls, who to very pretty faces
added in form a promise of future extent worthy of the stock from which
they sprang, joined in, somewhat more shyly, but with real kindness;
and, for the first time since they left Rochelle, Edward and Lucette
experienced that feeling of security which--to plagiarize a
little--"wraps the whole heart up like a blanket."



CHAPTER XIV.


The house in which Edward Langdale found himself on waking the next
morning was evidently one of those belonging to what they call in France
the _cultivateurs propriétaires_, and in the Marais the _cabaniers_, or
farmers possessing the freehold of the land they till. He had been
placed in a little room not larger than the abbey cell; but his bed had
been most comfortable, and he might have slept late had not the youth
whom they had found in the boat the night before, and who was a son of
the good dame of the house, come in to ask how he had rested and to
invite him to go to the farther side of the farm to shoot some ducks for
breakfast. Edward did not neglect the opportunity, thinking that he
might obtain some important information by the way; but the youth,
though perfectly and even profusely communicative, could tell him little
of any thing beyond the precincts of the _Marais_, because he knew
little. They had heard, he said, from his cousin George, the night
before, that at some hour in that night a young gentleman and lady who
had run away to get married would come to their house for shelter and
protection, which he bespoke for them particularly; and the good soldier
had added many an injunction to secrecy and discretion. He had also
asked that a boat might be sent with their neighbor Bonnet to the abbey
wharf, with directions to take off the young gentleman and lady without
saying a word.

This was the amount of young Brin's foreign intelligence,--for such to
him it was; and as soon as it was given he proceeded to describe and
eulogize his mother's farm, which he had not quitted more than two or
three times in his life, and which he seemed to think both the richest
and most beautiful spot of earth. Rich indeed it was; but to explain its
sort of riches I must have recourse to that old author whom I have
already quoted. I must premise, however, that the spot on which Edward
Langdale now found himself was just at the edge of what are called the
dried marshes, where they join on to the _marais mouillans_, which, at
the time I write of, were much more extensive than at present. The farm,
then, of La Caponnière comprised a portion of both; and, as the _marais
desséchés_ have been already described from the account of an
eye-witness, I may be permitted a word or two from the same source in
regard to the _marais mouillans_. "All these marshes," says my author,
"are not equally inundated; and, in consequence, all parts are not
equally sterile. The highest parts [of the _marais mouillans_] are under
water from the middle of October to the middle of June, and sometimes
later. The lower parts never dry; and, to make something of them, they
have been cut by innumerable canals, all communicating, and only
separated from each other by earth-banks of from twelve to fifteen feet
in width, piled up from the excavated earth of the canals. These
earth-banks are of prodigious fertility, many of them planted with
willows, ashes, poplars, and sometimes oaks; so that one is often
astonished to see so vigorous a forest springing out of the middle of
the waters."

The traveller then goes on to tell the uses these forests are put
to,--how the fagots are sent to Rochelle and the Isle de Rhé, and how
the trunks of the trees, cut into firewood and called _cosses de
marais_, are highly valued throughout the whole of the neighboring
country, and burn better than any other trees. But, as the reader will
probably never dabble in the cultivation of the marshes of Brétagne, he
shall be spared the details. My author, however, goes on to state that
the farms vary in extent from two hundred and forty to twelve hundred
acres, and that each is divided by little canals into squares of about
thirty acres, each canal being large enough to carry a small boat.

Now fancy, dear reader, what an interminable network of
water-communication these canals, each hidden from the other by trees
and shrubs, must form; how impossible for any but one born and bred in
the country to find one's way along there; how easy for any one
acquainted with their involutions to baffle the most skilful pursuer, to
lie hid from the eyes of the most clear-sighted enemy. The Minotaur did
not feel himself more safe in the depths of the Cretan labyrinth than
Edward Langdale after their morning's row; and Edward was more safe than
the Minotaur.

"Here," he thought, "we may stay till all pursuit is ended and all
suspicions forgotten, till dear Lucette has recovered strength,--and,
perhaps, till I can communicate with Mauzé or Rochelle."

All very well as a matter of probability; but where any thing is joined
together by mere tacks--as is indeed the case with the fate of every
one,--and not alone with his fate for years or months, but for a single
hour--it is much better to remember, before we make any calculation at
all, what tacks may fall out or get broken and the whole piece of
machinery tumble to atoms.

Edward Langdale could shoot a duck; and, though the birding-piece which
the young farmer trusted to his hands was a single barrelled gun of
rather primitive construction, and the shot merely bits of lead cut
small, not a bird got away from him,--more to the admiration than the
liking of his companion, who had fancied that he could display some
skill in the eyes of one whom he believed to be city bred.

However, the boat was plentifully loaded before they returned; and the
young farmer guided it back by a different course from the _marais
mouillans_ to the firm land near the house, pointing out to Edward, with
an air of pride and satisfaction, six or seven woolly beasts upon a
tongue of the _terrier_, and telling him they were sheep.

At their return to the house they found the whole household up, with the
exception of Lucette; but the result of their sport was very much
commended, and one of the hearty breakfasts of the country was prepared.
The living, indeed, seemed profuse, and, what though the cooking was for
the land somewhat coarse, yet it was French, and therefore better than
it would have been anywhere else in the same circumstances. There were
ducks, and good bacon, and eggs, and fine fowls, and a ragout, and
plenty of galette. Alas! there was no coffee, no chocolate,--nay, no
tea; but there was excellent white wine of Logé, and there was as good
red wine of Fay Moreau; for the age of hot stops had not yet arrived,
and Noah's discovery blessed the land within ten leagues of them.

Lucette joined them before they sat down; and, for some reason, she
blushed more at her boy's dress when there were women round her than she
had done before; but her cheek soon became pale, and Edward thought,
with some alarm, she did not look well. She assured him, however, that
she merely suffered from fatigue.

The meal was not concluded when several of the peasantry from the
neighboring country came to La Caponnière in their boats, bearing with
them tidings of the fire of the preceding night, and of various other
serious accidents which had occurred during the great storm. Numberless
trees had been struck and two men killed by the lightning; but the facts
of most interest--at least to Edward and Lucette--were those connected
with the destruction of the abbey. One of the visitors had come that
morning from Moreilles, and of course was the oracle of the occasion.
Two-thirds of the great tower had fallen, he said, crushing the
dormitory and the southern cloisters. The whole church was seriously
injured, the Lady chapel being the only part preserved; and, although
the monks themselves with one exception had escaped unhurt, it was
generally rumored, the good man said, that some five or six
persons--either guests, or people who came to assist--had been crushed
under the part of the tower which first fell. Who they were the peasant
could not tell; but the mention of the sad fact set both Lucette and
Edward upon the track of imagination. It was then for the first time
that Edward perceived that Pierrot la Grange had not been at the
breakfast-table. On inquiring for him, Master Ned was answered by good
Madame Brin's son that his servant had gone with the man who had rowed
them the night before, to inquire about the fire,--a very imprudent act
as it seemed to Edward; and yet he had a good deal of confidence in
Pierrot's tact,--which was not ill placed. About twelve, his long figure
appeared in the kitchen; and now the whole details were given. They were
interesting to the good Cabanier family, for the principal new fact was
that Monsieur George Brin, their relative, was safe and well, and had
set out for the lines under Mauzé. The other soldiers, he said, had
perished, with the exception of one, who still lived, terribly mangled.
He was so drunk when he left the parlor, Pierrot said, that he could not
get to the assigned sleeping-place, but fell upon the stairs, where he
still lay when the tower was struck. Thus, though sadly beaten by
detached stones, he had escaped crushing by the great mass of masonry.

Lucette felt very sorry for the poor soldiers; for hers was a very
kindly and tender heart. Edward gave them a passing "Poor fellows!" and
at his heart wished he had not made them so drunk. But still, as a man's
mind is always a more business sort of article than a woman's, he argued
from the premises that all chances of further pursuit and detention were
at an end; and thus, though the troopers were to be pitied, their
removal from this scene of care was no misfortune to him.

Now, all this shows, or may be supposed to show, that Master Ned was not
of a very sensitive or sentimental disposition. In truth, dear reader,
it only shows that he had mingled a good deal more with the world than
most lads of his age, and that time and storms had hardened the outer
shell. There was much that was soft within,--not about the head, but at
the heart. That very night proved it; for Lucette, after having been
somewhat languid all day, was suddenly seized about seven o'clock with a
violent fit of shivering, and Edward had to behold the marsh-fever in
all its horrors. Good old Madame Brin took upon herself to be physician:
indeed, there was no other within thirty miles, except the barber at
Fontenay le Comte; and he could not be got at. The eldest daughter was
to be head nurse; but Lucette had another and a good one. She had nursed
Edward through a severe illness, and he was resolved to nurse her in
return. Happily, they were good, simple people there, and had no false
notions of proprieties and decorums, so that Edward had his own way; and
it was very sweet to poor Lucette to take her tisanes of _écorce de
chêne_ and thyme-flowers from his hand, and to gaze into his eyes as he
bent over her and drink in a better medicine from his looks than any up
to that time discovered,--or since, to say the truth.

Then, again, the household was a cheerful household. Though they lived
in the midst of swamps and ponds and canals, like a family of frogs,
there was nothing cold or chilly about them. Madame Brin had had the
fever twice herself, she said: all her children had had it. She would
soon get the dear little girl well; and a shake or two they thought
nothing of in their country. Her poor dead husband had had hundreds of
them, and died, drowned, at sixty and upward. The eldest girl and the
young one, too, were also all kind cheerfulness; and Edward, who was
certainly the most melancholy and apprehensive of the party, took care
to hide that such was the case whenever he was in Lucette's room. When
he was unwillingly away, his thoughts were very heavy; for, though it
must be confessed they rested principally on his fair young companion,
yet they would often turn to other subjects of care. Leave her amongst
perfect strangers he could not,--he would not; but when he considered
that he had lost valuable letters, much money, much time still more
valuable, and asked himself whether he should still find Lord Montagu at
the place of rendezvous, where he should find him, what secrets might
not have been revealed to the enemy by his losses, how much he himself
might be compromised and his passage through France endangered by the
discoveries which probably had been made, there appeared a very
tolerable bundle of cares for one young pair of shoulders to carry.

Nevertheless, good nursing, and that skill which is given by experience,
did their usual services to poor Lucette. The fits of fever were
retarded, lessened, ceased; and at the end of a fortnight she could sit
at the door in the sunshine and look out. Often would she now gaze up at
Edward; and at length she summoned courage to ask, in English, "Is it
not time we should go forward?"

It did require a great effort of courage to put that question, for, what
between weakness and some other sensations, Lucette had got into a frame
of mind which would have made it even pleasant for her to remain there
in the Marais all her life,--if Edward Langdale had remained with her.

There is always a good effect produced by looking difficulties and
unpleasant things of all sorts in the face. We either discover some mode
of getting rid of them, or else we learn to endure them. Very soon
Edward and Lucette talked composedly over their future plans; and both
agreed, with a sigh, that to proceed upon their journey as soon as she
had recovered sufficient strength was unavoidable. They might both,
perchance, have dreamed, and their dreams might have been somewhat wild;
but with calm thought the sense of serious reality returned, and they
felt that they must soon proceed together to part very soon.

"And when shall we meet again, Edward?" said Lucette, in a low voice.

Edward laid his hand upon hers, saying, sadly, "God only knows, Lucette.
But I know and am sure we shall meet again. Till then, let us never part
in heart. We cannot forget each other after all that has passed; and,
oh, let the memory be as dear to you as it is to me, so that, when we do
meet, it may be with the same feelings we now experience."

Lucette bent down her eyes, and there was a tear in them; but that tear
seemed to Edward Langdale a promise.

This was the only word of love that passed between them; but there were
other matters pressing for consideration. Neither of them knew the
country round. Pierrot was as ignorant as themselves; and it was
necessary to take Madame Brin not only into consultation but in some
degree into their confidence. She was naturally a woman of strong sense;
but she was wonderfully ignorant of the world beyond the Marais.

"This is a mad scheme," she said,--taking for granted all that she had
heard from her cousin George, and never imagining that a corporal in the
king's army could have been deceived. "You are both very young to run
away and be married. Why, this boy can hardly be nineteen, and you, my
child, cannot be more than fifteen; but, now you have been away so long
together, it is the best thing for you. We can send for the minister
to-morrow, and he can be here on Friday. But if you be Papists you will
find the matter more difficult; for----"

Edward cut her short by informing her of the fact that they were both
Huguenots, and at the same time attempting to undeceive her as to the
purposes with which they left Rochelle. He told her briefly the
principal events of the last month, and besought her to aid them in
reaching at least Niort, where the number of Protestants still remaining
insured them the means of ascertaining where the principal Huguenot
leaders were to be found.

All this sudden intelligence threw the good lady into a deep fit of
thought. "So you do not want to be married?" she said, in some
bewilderment.

"Not immediately," answered Edward, with a smile he could not repress.
"But I tell you, my dear lady, I do wish to be married to Lucette as
soon as ever she wishes to be married to me." Lucette looked at him
almost reproachfully; but he went on to say, "Her relations have of
course to be consulted first; and, as I undertook to escort her safely
to them, I must do so before I can even pretend to her hand."

"Well, then," said the mistress of La Caponnière, after several minutes'
thought, "there is no way for you but to go boldly to Nantes. They will
never suspect you there. 'Those who are nearest to the cardinal are
safer from him than those who are far off,' they say. His arms are so
long that they do not easily reach what is close by. You can then easily
go round to Niort, and thence where you like; but go to Nantes first; go
to Nantes first. It is the safest place."

This suggestion required long and much consideration; but at length it
was adopted, though the minor arrangements afterward devised removed a
great many of the objections which at first presented themselves. Edward
was to be transformed into a young farmer of the Marais, and Lucette to
appear as his sister, while Pierrot assumed the garb of one of the
peasants. It took two days to procure the long-waisted, square-cut coat,
and wide breeches for Master Ned, and a similar but coarser dress for
Pierrot; for tailors were not plenty in the Marais, and clothing-shops
were none,--so that the wardrobes of neighbors were to be ransacked.
Lucette was more easily supplied with the manifold petticoats and the
white cap to cover her immense luxuriance of hair. Changes of apparel,
provisions of many kinds, and good wine, were stored in a boat; and,
after about three weeks' residence in that wild and strange but not
uninteresting district, with two stout boatmen for their guides, Lucette
and her companions took their departure from La Caponnière, and entered
upon a tract perhaps even more desolate and intricate than that which
they quitted. By Tallemont, by La Motte Achard, and by Logé, they
proceeded on the _country-road_, as it was called, toward Nantes, and at
the end of the third day they began to approach a city the glory of
which certainly has departed, but the interest of which--a melancholy
interest--remains.

Before I close the chapter, however,--a chapter devoted to quiet if not
dull subjects,--I may as well say a few words--a very few--upon the
actual state of France, and the changes which had taken place within the
last five weeks, which were not without their significance.

Every day had seen La Rochelle more and more closely hemmed in by the
royal forces. Slowly, quietly, but steadily, troops had poured into the
Sevres and the Aunis, and the ports in the neighborhood of the
threatened city had become crowded with small armed vessels. Invested by
land, the citizens of Rochelle might have felt alarm if their fine port
had been also subjected to blockade; but their own powerful fleets, and
the certain aid of England, made them contemn the small though numerous
ships of the enemy, and they never comprehended, till too late, that the
gigantic mind of their enemy was then planning a vast undertaking
destined to deprive them of all the advantages of their position. Their
egregious confidence was perhaps further increased by a knowledge that
the court of France, and, indeed, the whole country, was fermenting with
plots against the man whom they had most to dread; and it is not at all
impossible that they were more or less aware that the most formidable
conspiracy which had ever threatened the power of Richelieu was upon the
very eve of explosion.



CHAPTER XV.


It was late in the afternoon of a bright, warm day, when three strangers
to the city of Nantes took their way across the magnificent Cour St.
Pierre,--one of the most beautiful public places in Europe,--somewhat
hurrying their pace when they saw the number of gay groups with which
that part of the town was crowded.

"This way,--this way, sir," said the seemingly tall, lean peasant, who
carried a good-sized bundle on his arm. "I know the house exactly; and
the sooner we are out of this the better."

"On my soul, a pretty little wench!" exclaimed one of a group of
gay-looking gallants who were lounging about at the upper end of the
square. "Let us take her from that young boor. My pretty maid, will you
honor some poor gentlemen with your company to take a cool glass of
wine?"

"Stand out of the way, sir, and let my sister pass," said Edward
Langdale, in French, speaking as coolly as he could, for he knew the
danger of a brawl in that place and at that moment.

"Ha!" said the other, with a cool stare: "though you speak mighty good
French for a peasant of the Marais, yet I think we shall have to teach
you some better manners, boy. Do you presume to push against a
gentleman? This must give you a lesson." And he raised the cane he
carried, as if to apply it to Edward's shoulders.

The lad's hand was instantly on the dagger concealed under the flaps of
his broad-cut brown coat. But he had no occasion to use it; for, at the
very moment when blood was on the point of being shed, a man of
gentlemanly appearance, dressed altogether in black and without any
arms, stepped in between Edward and his antagonist, saying, in a deep
tone, "Hold!"

The uplifted cane had nearly descended upon his head; but the moment the
young coxcomb beheld the face of the intruder his countenance changed,
the color came into his face, and he turned the descending blow away,
though he could not stop it entirely.

"I have seen all that has passed, Monsieur des Louches," said the
stranger in black: "be so good as to retire into the chateau. His
Majesty, as you know, is determined to stop all insolent brawls. It will
be my duty to report your conduct to these two young people as soon as I
return; and you shall hear the result."

The young gentleman said something about his only having said a word or
two to some peasants of the Marais; but the other cut him short,
observing that the treatment of the peasantry by the _petite noblesse_
was at that very time attracting the royal attention.

"Petite noblesse, sir! Petite noblesse!" cried Monsieur des Louches,
with a face as red as fire: "do you call me of the petite noblesse?"

"Certainly," replied the other; "but, as you do not retire as I have
told you, it will be better that you should go in a different manner.
Guard!" And he raised his hand toward the bridge of the chateau, where
two or three of the king's soldiers were standing.

Two of the guard instantly ran up; but, before they arrived, Monsieur
des Louches was moving sullenly toward the gate, and the stranger in
black, without taking any further notice of him, turned to those who had
gathered round, saying, "Have the goodness to disperse, gentlemen. I
will take care of these young people."

The gay gallants of the French court might possibly have indulged in
some merriment at the expense of the elderly gentleman who had taken a
young girl out of their companion's hands; but there were at that moment
some sinister rumors hovering about the city of Nantes, which a good
deal depressed the courtly circle, although the courtiers endeavored
still to keep up an air of sprightly carelessness, and sometimes,
probably, overacted their part in public. On the present occasion,
however, they dispersed quietly, one giving the good-day to the stranger
by the name of Monsieur Tronson. As soon as the rest had passed away,
the face of the stranger cleared, and, looking at Edward and Lucette
with a good-humored smile, he asked, "And now, young people, where is it
you want to go to?"

"To the Auberge du Soleil," answered Edward, using as few words as
possible, for he remembered, perhaps a little too late, that his
language and his dress did not correspond, and that, though his garb was
that of the Marais, his tongue was not at all imbued with the jargon of
its inhabitants.

Monsieur Tronson took no notice, however, and said he would show them
how to find it; but, in walking slowly and soberly along, he began to
chat about many things, asked if ever they had been in Nantes before,
and not only proposed to show them some of the objects most worthy of
attention in the place, but actually, as he admitted, led them a little
out of their way to point out the crosses of Lorraine which had been
scattered over one of the faces of the chateau when it was in the hands
of the League. The cathedral, too, with its stunted towers and gigantic
nave, he must needs show them; and he asked so many questions, waiting
for replies, that both Edward and Lucette were forced to speak much more
good French than was at all desirable.

At length a slight twinkle in their good companion's eye, and a little
curl of the upper lip, led Master Ned to the complete certainty that
they were discovered; and, taking a moment when M. Tronson, who seemed
to be determined to know the whole party, was speaking with Pierrot,
Edward suddenly bent down his head and whispered a few words in English
to Lucette. "We are discovered, I fear," he said. "If any questions are
asked, remember the words of the safe-conduct I showed you: tell how we
were stopped in trying to quit Rochelle, and say that when the abbey was
burned we escaped in a boat as best we could and came on here."

Lucette was about to remind him that she could no longer pass for the
page named in the safe-conduct; but Monsieur Tronson finished his brief
conversation with Pierrot and turned to the young people again, saying,
with his placid air, "Now we will turn this way, and you will soon be at
your resting-place. So I suppose you two are the children of some good
rich proprietors of the Marais, and have got leave to come and see the
world now the court is at Nantes?"

"No, sir, we are not," answered Edward, with perfect calmness; for he
had now determined upon his course.

"Then, in Heaven's name, what are you, young people?" asked their
companion. "Yours are not peasants' manners, nor peasants' tongues; but
let me tell you that it is somewhat dangerous to be masquerading here
just now."

"Very likely, sir," replied Edward; "but we shall not masquerade
long,--if we are doing so at all. As to who we are, I shall have to
explain that to a very high personage shortly, and to ask him if he will
suffer his name and handwriting to be set at naught. I shall not show
him so little respect as to talk to any one else about the affair before
I talk to him, as I must see him, if possible, before I quit Nantes."

"You are discreet," said M. Tronson, leading the way through a street
which ran down to the Loire at the back of the chateau. "There, where
you see that tall pole and bush, is the Soleil; but, if you would take
my advice, you would choose another auberge. That is not fit for your
station; and, besides," he added, with a shrewd smile, "you will find
nobody there who speaks any thing but the _patois des Marais_; and I
suspect that would puzzle you."

Edward persisted, however, and the next moment their companion stopped
at the door of a heavy stone house of small size, the back of which must
have nearly touched the ditch of the old castle. "Here I stop," he said:
"you see the inn. Good-evening."

They gladly bade him adieu, and hurried on down the street, Pierrot
thanking Heaven that they had got so well out of his clutches. "He is a
spy, I am sure," said Pierrot; "but, if we order the coach we were
talking of, to be at the door by daybreak, we can get through the gates
and be off before he has time to get his orders."

"His orders from whom?" demanded Edward, in some surprise.

"From the cardinal, to-be-sure," replied the other. "Do you not know
that----" But by this time the three had reached the door of the Auberge
du Soleil, and Edward had paused, not at all satisfied with the look of
the place. There was an air, not exactly of discomfort, but of loose,
disorderly carelessness about it which pained him to think of in
connection with Lucette. She herself entered the passage without a word,
but she looked sad and, as it were, bewildered; and the sallow walls,
the dirty tiles of the floor, and various noises of singing and riot
from neighboring rooms, did not serve to reassure her. Edward was at her
side in a moment, and, laying his hand gently upon her arm, he said,
"Lucette, this will not do. We must seek some other place."

The appearance of the landlord, who now presented himself, was not at
all calculated to change this resolution; and, as he was somewhat
inclined to be uncivil when he found that his guests were likely to go
elsewhere, Edward left him to the management of Pierrot, and turned
toward the door. There, however, he found, looking in, a servant in the
livery of the court, with two men in military garb; and the former
immediately saluted him civilly, saying, "I am ordered by my master to
request your presence with the young lady and your servant."

"And who may be your master?" asked Edward, not at all liking the look
of the guard.

"Monsieur Tronson, sir, secretary of the king's cabinet," replied the
man.

"It is enough, sir," replied Edward: "we will accompany you if you will
lead the way."

The servant bowed, and preceded them, and the two guards followed; but
now Lucette and Edward found the great advantage of speaking two
languages. Few were the minutes which they had to spare; but those few
minutes were filled with words upon which, though their companions
comprehended them not, depended their safety, and perhaps the life of
one of them.

"We shall assuredly be asked, dear Lucette," said Edward, "how you came
first to travel with me as a page, and since then have resumed your
woman's apparel. May I, dear girl, say, in case of need, that we sought
to be married in a foreign land because our friends at home thought us
too young? Your liberty and my life may be perilled by any other
course."

"Yes, say so; say so," replied Lucette. "Good Clement Tournon told me
twice that if the Catholics caught me they certainly would shut me up in
a convent till I adopted their faith."

"But what name shall I give you?" asked the youth, just as they reached
the door of the house into which M. Tronson had turned.

"Call me Lucette de Mirepoix," answered the young girl: "it is one of my
names, so that I have a right to take it."

"This way, sir," said the valet: "Monsieur Tronson is in the castle."
And, passing the door, he led the way through a narrow building which
from the street seemed like an ordinary dwelling-house, but which in
reality was merely a sort of outwork of the chateau, with which it was
connected by a bridge over the fosse.

Edward saw the two guards following; but he merely said, with a cold
air, "Are you taking us to prison, sir?"

"No, monsieur; I am taking you to Monsieur de Tronson," replied the
valet. "Please to step into this room." By this time they had passed the
bridge and had taken some half-dozen steps along a dark passage through
the thicker part of the outer walls; and, as the man spoke, he opened
the door of a small room with one of those deep windows which almost
formed another chamber within the first. The room was quite vacant, and,
as soon as the travellers had entered, the servant left them with the
door partly open, showing them the soldiers without as if upon guard.
Poor Lucette trembled a good deal, but she lost not her presence of
mind; and another hasty consultation took place between herself, Edward,
and Pierrot, in the course of which their plans were finally
settled,--as far as any plans can be settled when the events against
which they are provided are still uncertain. They remained undisturbed
for some five minutes, and then the servant reappeared with some
glasses, a bottle of apparently very old wine, and a page carrying some
cakes and comfits on a salver. These were hardly placed on the table
and some seats drawn round, when Monsieur de Tronson himself appeared
with a smiling countenance, and desired his young friends to sit down,
as if they were honored guests. "Retire, and wait without," he added,
turning to the valet and page: "we can serve ourselves. Take that good
man with you, and see that he be well attended to. Now, Monsieur Apsley,
have the kindness to taste this wine after I have helped the young lady,
and tell me whether you could find any as good at the poor little
cabaret where you were inclined to bestow yourself. My auberge is the
best of the two, believe me."

"While we are treated with so much courtesy, sir," replied Edward,
filling his glass. "But may I ask what has led you to believe that my
name is Apsley?"

Monsieur de Tronson, who was pressing some of the confectionary upon
Lucette, did not answer for a moment, but then, turning round, said,
with his usual placid smile, "What was that? Oh, how I knew you? Why, my
good sir, we have been expecting you for some time. His Eminence has
letters for you, and very nearly a thousand crowns in gold, which a good
man, called Jacques Beaupré, brought in about ten days ago. How I know
you? Why, my young friend, do you suppose any thing is unknown at this
court?"

He paused and looked straight in Edward's face. But the young man had
passed through scenes which had given him a resolute firmness of
character not easily discomposed; and he answered at once, without a
change of countenance, "True, you may have known that Sir Peter Apsley
was about to visit Nantes,--though that could be but a guess, for I did
not intend to come this way till I was compelled; but it must have been
a still shrewder guess to lead you to suppose a young man dressed as a
peasant of the Marais to be an English gentleman."

"Guesses are good things," said Tronson: "in fact, almost every thing
that man knows, or thinks he knows, is a mere guess. But, when we have
good hooks to hang them on, we can shape them almost into certainties.
You have heard of birds who when they hide their heads fancy their whole
bodies hidden. Now, my young friend, when next you want to hide yourself
in a peasant's dress, take the air as well as the garb; have something
of the patois, and do not speak English to a fair companion when there
are sharp ears near. Our good friends of the Marais speak little
English, and when they walk they carry their shoulders round, and their
heads somewhat slouching,--so." And he imitated the air of one of the
peasants so well that even Lucette could hardly refrain a smile.

"Besides," continued their companion, "you hinted that you wished to see
the cardinal before you quitted Nantes. Now, putting a good number of
other facts to those I have just mentioned, it was easy to divine that
you were the personage Jacques Beaupré was in search of."

"True," replied Edward; "and probably I should have taken more care if I
had wished to be concealed much longer. But, as you say, sir, I must, if
possible, have the honor of seeing his Eminence the prime minister. When
do you think I can be so favored?"

"It will be somewhat difficult just now," said the other, with a much
graver countenance than he had hitherto borne. "The cardinal is full of
very serious and painful business. Certainly you cannot see him
to-night."

"Then," said Edward, in a firm and confident tone, "we had better retire
and seek some good inn, and I can send and crave an audience to-morrow."

"Nay, you will have to wait close at hand and snatch your audience when
you can get it," replied Monsieur de Tronson,--adding, laughingly, "my
auberge is the best for your purpose, depend upon it. But tell me,
Monsieur Apsley, why did you disguise yourself at all, when, I have been
told, you have a proper safe-conduct?"

"You mean, sir, why we put on Breton dresses?" replied Edward. "That was
done for the best reason in the world:--because we had none other fit to
wear. My whole baggage was lost, and one of my servants stopped, when it
pleased some good officers near Mauzé to turn me from my straight road
and send me toward Nantes. I trust Master Jacques has brought our
clothing with him. If not, we must purchase more."

"I cannot tell," replied Monsieur de Tronson, gravely: "all he did bring
is in the hands of his Eminence."

A consciousness that what the man had brought might prove his
destruction, perhaps, induced Edward to imagine that M. Tronson laid a
particular emphasis on the words "in the hands of his Eminence;" but
still he lost not his coolness, and he replied, "Well, then, we had
better proceed to our inn,--if you will recommend us to one; for that we
saw but now will certainly not suit us. It is growing dusk, and I shall
scarcely have time to-night to purchase clothing fit to appear in before
the cardinal."

As he spoke, he rose; but the secretary of the king's cabinet repeated
what he had before said:--"This is the best auberge for your purpose;
and I will send for one of those tailors who always follow courts to
relieve you from your unseemly attire. The young lady, too, had better
have other clothing. That, too, shall be attended to."

Edward now saw that nothing but a direct question would bring forth the
truth as to whether he was to consider himself a prisoner or not; and he
put it much in the same words as he had used to the officer near Mauzé.

"You have been very discreet with your answers, my young friend," said
Monsieur Tronson, still smiling: "let me advise you to be as discreet
with your questions. But I can excuse a little anxiety, and therefore
tell you that you must look upon yourself as a prisoner or not, just as
you please. You will not be treated as such further than being lodged in
this chateau, with a slight hint that you had better not try to leave it
till you have seen his Eminence. If you will give me your word as an
English gentleman not to make the attempt, you shall have all the
liberty possible, and you shall be only like one of your good English
lords kept in-doors by a fit of gout. You shall have as good a table at
least as any auberge here could furnish, and you will save money by
living at the king's expense. But if you do not make me that promise I
am afraid there must be such things as keys sent for, and a turning of
locks which might be disagreeable to the ear."

"I understand, sir," replied Edward, "and, of course, make the promise;
but I certainly did not expect that when I came here furnished with a
pass from his Eminence, it would imply so little."

"Let me see the pass," said the secretary, somewhat abruptly: "have you
it with you?"

"Yes, it is here," answered Edward, drawing it forth. "As it is my only
security in the present unfortunate state of affairs between the two
countries, I have taken care not to lose that."

Tronson took it from his hand and carried it to the window to see
better, saying, after he had gazed at it for a minute or two, "Yes, it
is in due form. That is the signature of his Eminence, beyond all doubt.
Here are mentioned Sir Peter Apsley, a page, and two serving-men. Am I
to presume that mademoiselle is or was the page? Why, here are no end of
transformations, it would seem."

People talk of blushing like a rose,--a very bad figure indeed. Roses do
not blush. Their gentle color knows no sudden change. The soft emotion
of the heart which sends the tell-tale blood into the cheek they never
feel, but, as an image of eternal health, keep the same hue unchanged.
No: Lucette blushed like the morning sky when, conscious of the coming
of the sun, the whole face of heaven grows rosy and more rosy.

"May I ask you, sir," continued the secretary, "if you are married to
this young lady? is she your wife? is she your sister?"

"Neither, sir," replied Edward,--"neither as yet. She may be some day my
wife: till then she is to me as a sister. But, Monsieur Tronson, if I am
to submit to interrogatories at all, I should prefer that they be put by
his Eminence the cardinal himself."

"One more, and I have done," said the secretary. "How happens it that
you two have been so long on the road? Could you find no means of coming
to Nantes sooner?"

"If you know the time we have spent on the road, sir," replied Edward,
"you should know likewise that Mademoiselle de Mirepoix's illness
detained us."

"Mademoiselle de Mirepoix!" said De Tronson, with an air of surprise:
"this is altogether a somewhat strange affair. But, as you say, it will
be better all reserved for the cardinal himself. But as Mademoiselle
Mirepoix is neither your wife nor your sister, Sir Peter, it will be
necessary to place her under a lady's care while here."

"But," said Edward, fearing a longer and stricter separation from
Lucette than he had calculated upon; but Monsieur de Tronson cut him
short, gravely. "No buts, my young friend. It must be now as I say," he
replied. "Wait here, mademoiselle: I will send some women to you in a
few minutes. You, sir, follow me, and I will show you your apartment."

Resistance, of course, was not to be thought of; but Edward could not
part from Lucette coldly, and, before going, he took her in his arms and
kissed her warmly, whispering in English the first real words of love
which had yet been spoken between them. "Love me, Lucette," he said;
"love me, whatever befalls."

The tears rose in her beautiful eyes; but it was a moment when she felt
there could be no coyness. "I do; I will," she murmured.

"Ho! ho!" said the secretary, with a smile: "is it so far gone?" And he
led the youth from the room.

Passage after passage seemed to Edward to be placing a terrible distance
between him and her he loved, and cold and dreary appeared, and indeed
was, his walk through the palace of the king. At length, however,
Monsieur de Tronson opened a door at the foot of some steps, and there,
in a short sort of long vestibule, appeared the first human beings they
had seen since they quitted the room of the secretary. The first person
they beheld was the valet whom Edward had before seen; but at the other
end of the corridor, near a heavy iron-plated door, was a guard with a
halberd on his shoulder.

"The room is quite ready, sir," said the valet, addressing Monsieur de
Tronson, and at the same time opening a door on the right. "I lighted
the fire, as the chamber has not been occupied since Monsieur de Laval
left."

"That was well," replied Tronson; "and you will remember to attend
diligently upon this gentleman and see he has all he wants. You can put
his own servant a bed in the dressing-closet, and let a tailor be sent
for as soon as may be. And now, Monsieur Apsley, I will leave you for
to-night. You can, when you desire exercise, take your walk in this
passage and the neighboring rooms on that side; but a gentleman so well
educated will, I know, remember that this is a palace, and not carry his
peregrinations too far. On that side your walks will be impeded by the
sentinel. Can I send you a book or any thing to amuse you?"

"If you have got a copy of Homer or Horace," said Edward.

Monsieur de Tronson shook his head with a laugh. "I fear you are too
learned for us," he answered; "but I will see, and send you something,
at all events. The room looks cheerful enough, does it not? and in the
daytime there is a fine view over the Loire. The moon is late to-night.
You had better bring more candles, Guillaume." And, with these words, he
left the young Englishman, who, though the room was indeed a cheerful
one and bright with lights and a warm fire, could not but feel that he
was a prisoner.



CHAPTER XVI.


The first sensation in Edward's heart was certainly that of the loss of
liberty. The next was of the loss of Lucette. But then came many
unpleasant recollections; and not amongst the least unpleasant was the
remembrance that he might very likely have incurred the loss of life. To
take a false name, to enter a country with which his own was at war,
with a false passport, to come, from a town actually in rebellion
against her king, into that king's camp, and to be the bearer of letters
to his enemies,--all gave him very much the character of a spy. Edward
did not like his position at all; he did not like the steps which had
led to it; he did not altogether like his own conduct. Yet what could he
have done, when ordered by those he was bound to obey? He would do it
again, he thought, if the same circumstances were to come over again;
and yet to be hanged in a foreign country as a spy was a matter for
which not all the orders of all the princes or potentates in the world
could offer any consolation.

He had walked some fifty times up and down the room, the simmering of
his heart and brain acting upon him like the boiler of a locomotive
steam-engine, when an ecclesiastic entered with some books, and spoke a
few words of bad Latin to him, to which Edward replied in so much better
Latinity that the good man speedily beat a retreat.

Then came the tailor; and a tailor is always a relief, except when he
makes garments too tight, or makes them too loose in one place for the
purpose of making them too close in another. But this tailor was really
a great man in his way; and he did succeed in amusing Edward's mind in a
slight degree by the importance he attached to his calling and to every
one of its accessories. He also estimated very highly his own station in
that calling. He told Edward that although he had not the honor of
clothing his Majesty,--because all the world knew he was very careless
in his dress,--yet he made for all the handsomest young noblemen of the
court. He himself, he assured his listener,--and he dropped his voice
while he spoke,--had _composed_ the dress in which the poor Count de
Chalais had been arrayed on the very day of his arrest.

"Indeed!" said Edward. "Is he arrested? What are they going to do with
him?"

"They will cut off his head, to a certainty," said the tailor. "Though
he was the king's greatest favorite, his Eminence was his greatest
enemy; and the enemies of the cardinal never escape."

This was such cold comfort to Edward Langdale that he brought the
subject back to the matter of his own clothing. "I shall want one suit
as soon to-morrow as possible," he said; "for I trust I shall have an
early audience of his Eminence; and of course I cannot present myself
before him in this garb."

"Of course, of course, seigneur," said the tailor, with a look of
horror: "that would be as good as a confession. Of what may your
lordship have been guilty to assume such a dress?--high treason?"

"I hope not," said the young man: "at least, if I have committed
_lèse-majesté_, it must have been in my sleep. But what about the
clothes, my good friend? Can I have them?"

"Assuredly, seigneur; assuredly," answered the man. "I have a beautiful
_haut-de-chausses_, and a _pourpoint_, which will fit you exactly: they
are in the best taste,--philimot velvet, opened with blue, and silver
points. They were made for poor Monsieur de Courmerin; but he never had
the opportunity of wearing them, for he put off doing so for one single
day, and that night he was arrested and his head cut off before the end
of the week. They will suit you perfectly. But the cloak I must make
myself. I will keep the workmen up all night, sooner than disappoint
you, however. You had better trust the whole arrangement to me,--the
boots, the collar, the hat; and then all will correspond."

Edward readily agreed to the proposal; and, merely stipulating for a
certain price, as his funds were running short, he dismissed the tailor,
whose conversation had a certain ominous croak about it, which was all
the more painful from the frivolities with which it was mixed.

Not ten minutes more passed ere supper was brought in,--good fare and
excellent wine; and perhaps of the latter the poor youth did take more
than he usually did, from a feeling that something was needful to raise
his spirits. He felt more compassion that night for the faults of
Pierrot la Grange than he had ever known before; but he did not follow
his good servant's example, drinking not enough even to have the effect
desired.

After supper he felt more melancholy than before; and that sensation
increased as all noises died away in the castle and in the neighborhood,
and the dull gloomy ripple of the Loire was the only sound that broke
the stillness. The air of the room seemed oppressive to him. He looked
at the door, and wondered if the last time the valet had gone out he had
locked it; and he walked toward it and opened it. All in the corridor
was as he had seen it before,--the guard at the door on the right, with
his halberd on his shoulder, and two lamps burning pendant from the
ceiling. The air seemed less oppressive there; and Edward determined to
go forth and take his walk without, as he had been permitted. He turned
to one side, and then to the other, without any notice being taken by
the soldier, till once, approaching within some five paces of the
iron-plated door, the man drew himself up, and, in a stern tone, told
him to keep off. Edward retrod his steps, and passed up and down several
times, till at length the door at the other end of the passage opened,
and a tall, fine-looking man, in a large cloak, with hat and feathers,
and a small silver candlestick in his hand, appeared, and walked
straight toward him. The stranger's eyes were bent upon the ground, and
at first he did not seem to see the youth; but, when he did, he stopped
suddenly, and gazed at him from head to foot.

Edward walked quietly on, and passed the other without taking much
notice, though he thought his stare somewhat rude. At the end of the
corridor he turned again, just in time to see the stranger opening the
iron-plated door with a key, while the guard stood in a statue-like
attitude before him, with presented arms. When the door was opened, the
light of the candle served just to show the top of a flight of stone
steps, and all the rest was darkness. The door shut to with a bang the
next moment, and the youth pursued his walk, feeling it would be
impossible for him to sleep for some hours to come. Wellnigh an hour
went by, and the young Englishman was returning to his room, to try at
least to sleep, when that heavy door opened, banged to, was locked, and
the stranger, whom he had before seen, again passed him. This time,
however, his head was borne high, and there was a strange look of
triumph on his face; but he was evidently in haste, and, though he fixed
his eyes upon Edward with a gaze that seemed to pierce through him, he
paused not an instant, but passed on.

Why he could not tell, but all this excited the youth's imagination.
There was something strange in it, he thought. Who could that man be to
whom the guard paid such respect? It could not be the king, for Louis
was not so tall, and had no such commanding carriage. It might be some
high officer of the royal prison; and that door, with the dark stone
steps beyond, might lead to the ancient dungeons, where many a
prisoner, in ancient and in modern times, had awaited, _au secret_, as
it was called, judgment or death.

"Such may soon be my fate," thought Edward; and, with that pleasant
reflection, he re-entered his chamber, and, casting off his clothes, lay
down to rest. It was long before sleep came; and then troublous dreams
took from it the character of repose. He felt himself, in fancy, in the
hands of the hangman: the gibbet was over his head, and on a scroll
fixed to his breast was written, in large letters, "A spy!"

Then, again, his dead body was lying in a chapel, and close by, at an
illuminated altar, appeared Lucette, with a bright train of fair girls,
just about to give her hand to a cavalier much older than herself, whose
face bore a strange resemblance to that of the man who had twice passed
him in the corridor, and with a start he awoke, crying, "She is mine!"

It was already day; and but a few minutes went by ere Pierrot presented
himself. "I have seen Jacques Beaupré, Master Ned," he said, "and I
trust all is safe. That fellow is shrewd; and he vows that he has not
said a word. He escaped the troopers at Mauzé, found his way to the
castle, and gave up the bags to Monsieur le Prince de Soubise. The
prince opened them without any ceremony, took out a letter to himself,
read it, and then sent him on with one of the bags, telling him to find
you out at all risks. He was stopped immediately he reached Nantes; but
he vows, even to my face, that he only knows you as Sir Peter Apsley;
though I heard good old syndic Tournon call you by your right name to
him himself. He says that the prince put several letters into the bag
with the money and the clothes; and there is the only danger."

"How did you contrive to see him?" asked Edward, abruptly; for he feared
every moment to be interrupted.

"Why, sir, there are various sorts of detention," said Pierrot: "there
is imprisonment _au plus grand secret_; there is imprisonment _au
secret_; there is simple arrest and imprisonment; there is
_surveillance_; but there is nothing more. Now, as you, Master Ned, are
simply under _surveillance_, they have left me, as your servant, to roam
about as I please; and I made the best use of my time. Jacques Beaupré,
I found----"

But, as he spoke, Monsieur de Tronson's valet entered, to tell Edward
that breakfast would be served to him in a moment, and began to set the
room in order. Edward tried to get rid of him, perhaps too apparently;
but he did not succeed. In vain the young gentleman hinted that the
tailor had not brought the clothes he had promised. The man replied,
coolly, that he would seek him as soon as the breakfast was served; and,
before there could be any further question upon the subject, two lackeys
and a page appeared. Before the breakfast was carried away, the tailor
was in the room; and before Edward was fairly dressed in his new
apparel, Monsieur de Tronson himself appeared, and sent every one from
the room,--Pierrot amongst the rest.

"I come to tell you," said the secretary, "that his Eminence will
receive you at ten o'clock;" and then, after a short pause, during which
he seemed to think deeply, he added, "If you will allow me, sir, as a
friend, to advise you, you will deal in every thing frankly and
sincerely with the cardinal. Men are often much mistaken as to his
character. Deceit and trickery upon the part of his enemies have of
course made him suspicious; but candor is soon perceived by him, and
always appreciated."

"I really do not know to what you particularly refer," replied Edward;
"but I shall certainly answer any questions his Eminence chooses to
propound to me truly."

"That is well," said the other, somewhat dryly. "But will you answer me
one question? Is not Mademoiselle de Mirepoix a near relation of the
Duchess de Chevreuse? Reply frankly, I beg of you."

"I do not know," answered Edward, at once. "I only know that she is
connected with the Prince de Soubise, and----"

"The same, the same," said his companion, interrupting him. "That is
rather unfortunate; for neither Madame de Chevreuse nor the prince are
in good odor at this court."

"The cardinal, I am sure," answered Edward, "is too generous to make a
young girl who has never offended him suffer for the faults of others
who have."

Monsieur de Tronson made no reply, but soon after left the young
Englishman, merely saying, in a warning tone, "Remember: be frank."

Edward then proceeded to finish his toilet; and it cannot be denied that
he felt more lightsome and at his ease in his new apparel. Still, he
could not help revolving the coming interview; and, with that most
foolish though common practice of us poor mortals in difficult
circumstances, considering the answers he might make to questions which
might never be asked. He would have given much for five minutes more of
private conversation with Pierrot; but that worthy appeared no more, and
for the simple reason that he was not permitted to leave the room to
which he had been taken to breakfast. An hour thus passed in anxious and
solitary thought, and then a man, in a black robe something like that of
the verger of a cathedral, opened the door and summoned him to the
presence of the cardinal prime minister. Edward answered nothing, but
merely bowed his head and followed. He was conscious that he had felt
some weakness; but, now that the all-important moment had arrived, he
nerved himself to bear all firmly, and the very effort gave a dignity to
his whole person which well accorded with the handsome and graceful
dress he had assumed.



CHAPTER XVII.


We must leave Edward Langdale for some half-hour, and carry the gentle
reader with us to another part of the old Chateau of Nantes. No one can
venture to say that we have not adhered to him through good and evil
with the tenacity of true friendship; but we must now either turn to a
different personage and another scene, or embarrass our after-narrative
with that most ugly beast, an explanation, which so frequently in
romance and poem follows the most brilliant heroes and most beautiful
heroines like an ill-favored cur.

In a fine long room with windows looking upon the Loire, about half-past
ten o'clock in the morning, was a gentleman between forty and fifty
years of age,--nearer the former than the latter period. The chamber was
well tapestried, and furnished with chairs scattered about in different
directions, and a large table a good deal to the right of the occupant
of the room. A smaller table was close at his hand, covered with papers
and materials for writing, which he was using slowly and deliberately,
sometimes carrying his hand to his head as if in thought, and then again
resuming the pen and writing a line or two. In person he was somewhat
above the middle height, with straight, finely-cut features and hair
very slightly mingled with gray. The face in itself was somewhat stern,
and the small pointed beard and mustache gave somewhat of a melancholy
look; but on that morning the expression was cheerful,--nay, even
good-humored; and the hand that held the pen was as soft and delicate as
that of a woman. His dress was principally scarlet, as that of a high
ecclesiastic of the Romish Church; but above all he wore a light
dressing-gown of dark purple trimmed with sable. Such was Richelieu as
he appeared in 1627; and those who have been accustomed to associate his
name with nothing but deeds of blood and tyranny might well feel
surprised could they see the bland expression of that noble countenance,
that smooth white hand, and, still more, could they look over his
shoulder and perceive that what he was writing was no grave despatch, no
terrible order, no elaborate state paper, but--some verses,--grave,
indeed, but neither sad nor stern.

The door opened, and the cardinal laid down his pen. Monsieur de Tronson
paused, as if for permission to advance, and Richelieu beckoned him
forward, saying, "Come in, Mr. Secretary; come in. I am enjoying a space
of leisure after so many busy and anxious days. Till one, I have little
to do and less to think of."

"Your Eminence will allow me to remind you," said Tronson, advancing and
standing by his side, "that this morning you appointed the hour of ten
to see that young English gentleman."

"True," said the cardinal. "I have not forgotten." And he pointed with
his hand to the larger table, on which lay one of Master Ned's
unfortunate leathern bags; adding, "What do you make of the case? Think
you he is the person he represents himself, or, as our hard-headed
friends before Rochelle will have it, a spy from England?"

"The passport is evidently signed by your Eminence," answered Tronson;
"and the young man himself has the manners of a gentleman of
distinction. He is highly educated, too,--a profound Greek and Latin
scholar: so says Father Morlais, whom I sent to have some conversation
with him. He is somewhat bluff and abrupt in his manners, it is true, as
most of these islanders are; but still his whole demeanor strikes me as
dignified, and even graceful. He can be no common spy, your Eminence:
that is clear; and if Buckingham has chosen him for an agent he has
chosen strangely well."

"As to his learning," replied Richelieu, "that signifies little. Many a
poor scholar is willing to risk his neck in the hope of promotion. We
have employed such ourselves, my good friend. Then, as to dignity of
manner, it is easily assumed. But his abruptness and _brusquerie_ offer
a different indication. It requires long habit to know when to be rude
and harsh, when soft and gentle. How old did you say?"

"From eighteen to nineteen at the utmost," said Tronson: "he appears
even less."

"Well, but this girl who is with him?" asked the cardinal: "what of
her?"

"That seems easily explained, monseigneur," replied the secretary, with
a smile: "she is, it would seem, of high family,--related to Monsieur de
Soubise on the one side," (the cardinal's brow became ominously dark,)
"and to Madame de Chevreuse on the other."

For an instant Richelieu's brow became darker still; and, with
uncontrollable vehemence, he exclaimed, "Ah! she has escaped me, as she
thinks; but she will find that I forget not my enemies,--nor my friends,
Tronson,--nor my friends," he added, with one of those subtle smiles
which had at least as much of the serpent in them as the dove.

Tronson turned a little pale, for that peculiar smile was known at the
court by this time, and it was not supposed to be favorable to those on
whom it was bestowed. But the secretary was too wise to notice it; and
he merely asked, "Who has escaped, your Eminence?--this young lady? She
was safe in the castle not an hour ago."

"No, no, man; no," answered Richelieu. "I mean Madame de Luynes,--Madame
de Chevreuse, Tronson. Have you not heard? She quitted Nantes at
daybreak this morning for Le Verger. Strange!" he continued, speaking to
himself: "'twas only last night; and yet she must have heard enough to
frighten her. Can the king betray himself and me? She must have learned
something. What is the girl's name, Monsieur de Tronson?"

"Lucette du Mirepoix, she says," replied the secretary.

"Lucette de Mirepoix du Valais," said the cardinal, slowly and
thoughtfully: "the same,--the same, Tronson. Do you not remember there
was much contention, some six years ago, between Madame de Luynes and
this scheming rebel Soubise, about the guardianship of this very girl?
There the duchess was right, for she would have brought her into the
bosom of the Church; but Soubise was too quick for her, and sent the
child away,--perhaps to England, to make sure she should be brought up
in heresy. But my fair duchess shall find me worse to deal with than
Soubise. But you said just now," he continued, in a calmer tone, "that
all could be easily explained. What did you mean, my friend?"

"Merely that her travelling with this youth is a problem easily solved,"
answered the secretary. "Last night, when they parted, there were some
warm kisses passed,--not at all fraternal, your Eminence; and, putting
those gentle signs in connection with some words and rosy blushes, I
conclude that they are bent on matrimony. Probably they have found
difficulties at home, and, as is not unfrequent with these English, they
have gone off together."

"Is the young man of noble birth, think you?" asked the cardinal,
thoughtfully.

"Not of high rank, even amongst the English," answered Tronson: "his
very name shows it."

Richelieu smiled, but this time it was a bland and pleasant smile. "We
will punish her," he said, speaking to himself,--"punish both!"

"But, your Eminence, if the safe-conduct be yours, as I think, and the
young man be really what he pretends, you will hardly----"

"Hand me that leathern bag and the knife," said the minister,
interrupting him, and seemingly paying not the slightest attention to
the secretary's words. "And now," he continued, when De Tronson had
obeyed, "let the youth be brought to me; and have the girl taken to the
adjoining room, ready to be brought in when I require her: see that no
one converses with her, my excellent good friend."

The secretary bowed his head and withdrew, repeating to himself, "'My
excellent friend!'--I have someway offended him. His words are too
kind!" But then, after a moment's thought, he murmured, in almost the
same words which Richelieu had used a minute or two before, "Can the
king have betrayed me? If so, he has betrayed himself too; for God knows
I advised him solely for his benefit."

Louis XIII. had now been on the throne of France about sixteen years,
and Richelieu had not been actually of the king's council more than
three; but both had been long enough before the world's eyes for men to
have learned that a king could betray his best friends from fear or
weakness, and that a minister could be most gentle in manners when he
was the most savage at heart. Richelieu was fond of cats, and perhaps
learned some lessons from his favorites. However, in the present
instance Tronson guessed rightly: the king had betrayed him to his
powerful minister. The night before, nearly at midnight, the cardinal
had carried to the king the confession of the unhappy Count de Chalais,
drawn from him in his dungeon by the minister himself,--perhaps--nay,
probably--by the most unworthy artifices. In recompense for an act which
put an end to one of the monarch's painful fits of hesitation, Louis
revealed to Richelieu the names of those who, in the confidence of loyal
friendship, had opposed some of the minister's favorite schemes; and
Tronson was one. Thus, he had guessed right. Whether Richelieu had
guessed right likewise no one can tell. That Louis had communicated the
confession of Chalais to some of his inferior confidants, who had
warned Madame de Chevreuse to fly, is very probable; but most
improbable that he had warned her himself. She was the friend,
companion, counsellor of his unhappy queen, and was hated by himself as
well as by his minister. The king's hatred, however, was merely the
reflex of his hatred for another. The enmity of Richelieu was more
personal and of long standing. When Marie de Rohan had married the
Constable Duke of Luynes, the now potent cardinal had been but a petty
agent of the queen-mother; and he had been treated by the proud woman
with some contempt. Again, in appearance the king, the constable, and
all the ministers had solicited for Richelieu the cardinal's hat from
Rome, but he had discovered that Luynes secretly opposed what he
publicly asked; and he attributed this treachery to the suggestions of
the duchess.

When, after the death of her first husband, Marie de Rohan married the
princely Duc de Chevreuse, and Richelieu rose rapidly to the height of
power, the enmity between them was no longer concealed, except by the
courtly varnish of external politeness,--and, indeed, not always by
that.

Thus, when sitting there in his apartments in the Chateau of Nantes,
there was perhaps no one in France whom Richelieu desired to mortify and
humiliate personally more than Marie de Rohan, Duchess of
Chevreuse:--no, not even her distant relatives the Prince de Soubise and
his brother the Duc de Rohan, though both had opposed the royal forces
in the field, and the reduction of both to submission was essential to
his policy. For them he had some respect, and no individual enmity; but
toward her there was a rancor which prompted to any act that would sting
rather than destroy. At that time even Richelieu had cause to follow the
course which had been pursued by Luynes, and to avoid carrying
resentments too far. He was not yet so firmly seated in power that, if
he made great enemies, he might not be thrown aside by a fickle king.
Otherwise it might seem strange that he dared not follow the same bold
course against Madame de Chevreuse which he soon pursued against the
unfortunate Chalais, and later against Montmorency and Cinq Mars. But,
as I have said, his fingers were not so tightly fixed round the staff of
command that he could venture to assail in front the mighty houses of
Montbazon and Lorraine, while Vendôme and Condé were already his
enemies. It was perhaps meditation upon subjects such as these that
occupied the minister's deepest thoughts while he opened with a sharp
penknife the leathern bag which De Tronson had brought him, took out
several letters, cut the silk, and read the contents; for he did all
with an absent air. But Richelieu's mind was one of those which can
carry on two processes at once,--one deep, intense, and mighty, the
consideration of vital questions, the other the mere observation and
recognition of objects--for the time, at least--less important. He
seemed to pay little attention to those letters; yet not one word
escaped him, and when he had done he replaced them in the bag and cast
it behind his chair, but within reach of his hand. He then took up, from
the little table close by, the paper on which he had previously been
writing, and was reading over the verses, when the door opened, and an
exempt of the court appeared, looking at the minister with a sort of
inquiring air. Richelieu bowed his head, and the man, stepping back, but
holding open the door, introduced Edward Langdale and retired into the
ante-chamber.



CHAPTER XVIII.


Edward Langdale entered the presence of the cardinal firm and upright;
and, to say the truth, now tricked out with all the taste and ornament
which the skill of a French tailor of the reign of Louis XIII., and the
short time allowed for the operation, permitted, he was as
handsome-looking a youth as you could easily see in this world of ugly
hearts and indifferent faces. His air was perfectly calm and well
assured, but not presumptuous; and the easy grace with which he carried
his hat with its long plume in one hand, and the velvet case with the
passport in the other, was not unnoticed by the cardinal, who was
accustomed to observe slight indications and to draw his inferences from
them,--not exactly taking for granted that they meant what they seemed
to mean; for there was many a man in France and at the court who
affected well more gayety than the lark when his heart was full of
anxiety and sorrow, many a one who assumed a grave solemnity who within
was as light a bubble as ever floated down the stream of time. But often
he drew inferences the most opposite from the outside indications, and
saw evidence of the pinchbeck in the fresh glitter of the gilding.

Richelieu did not make any motion to rise, but, pointing to a seat near
him, he bent his head calmly, and said, "Be seated, sir. I am glad to
see you in Nantes. How long is it since you arrived?"

"Yesterday evening, my lord," replied Edward, "I reached the city,
having been delayed by several causes during many days. Indeed, it is
probable I should not have visited this city at all had not some of the
royal officers refused to recognise my safe-conduct."

"Perhaps they did not recognise your person," said the cardinal, softly,
continuing to gaze at the young Englishman with a keen and scrutinizing
look. "But I think, Monsieur Apsley, I must have seen your face
somewhere before."

"That cannot be, may it please your Eminence," replied Edward, frankly.
"I never had the honor of beholding you till now."

"You speak French with great purity," said the minister. "Did you never
reside in this country?"

"I visited it some time ago, but did not remain more than a few months,"
the youth replied; "but I studied the language long in my own country,
and spoke it continually with those who spoke it well."

"Well, indeed!" said Richelieu; "but they tell me you are learned in
many ways, and doubtless you have given attention to our
poets,--superior, in refinement at least, to any that the world can
boast. Let me have a sample of your taste. What think you of these lines
just sent to me by a young poet? The hand is inexperienced, but I think
the head is good. You can read the language, of course." And he handed
the lines to Edward, who, confounded by what was passing, took the paper
and gazed at it for a moment in silence. Then, feeling that such
silence might be dangerous, he proceeded to read the verses aloud, with
good emphasis and a graceful delivery:--

    "Who on the height of power would stand must be
      Hard as the rock to those who dare his arm;
    To the indifferent, cool; and tenderly
      Treat the young faults of those who mean no harm.

    "The sunshine warms the serpent in the brake:
      Then crush his head while lasts his sleeping hour,
    Nor wait till, fresh envenom'd, he awake.
      There still are snakes enow where there is power."

Whether he discovered by the similarity of the writing with the
signature of the safe-conduct that the verses were the cardinal's own,
or that he thought he saw some allusion to the minister's situation
which discovered the author, I know not; but there were particular
passages which he dwelt upon in reading; and the minister smiled
approvingly, saying, "Well! exceedingly well, Monsieur Apsley. The poet
loses nothing on your lips. Think you the verses good?"

"Very good, your Eminence," replied Edward. "Were the arrangement of the
lines somewhat different, they would make an excellent speech in a
tragedy."

"Ha! say you so?" said the minister, apparently well pleased: "I will
give the author that hint. He has some small merit, and may perhaps
hereafter aim at higher flights."

"He has chosen a high subject now, sir," replied Edward, "But, by your
pardon, I did not come here to read poetry, however good, but to request
your Eminence to recognise my safe-conduct and to let me go forward on
my way."

Richelieu's brow became a little shaded. "So fast!" he said, as if
speaking to himself, and then demanded, "Where do you wish to go?"

"First to Niort," answered Edward, boldly, "where I was going when I was
stopped, and then, by Paris, into Switzerland."

The cardinal paused and gazed at him for a moment in silence, and then
replied, "There are previously several matters to be inquired into. I
trust we are here in France too courteous to stay any gentleman
travelling through our country for purposes of mere pleasure or
instruction, though there may be matters of enmity, and even war,
between the two nations. I trust we are too honest to give a
safe-conduct and then to deny its efficacy. But spies we hang, young
gentleman."

The words sounded chilling upon Edward Langdale's ear; but he knew that
a moment's silence might be destruction, and he replied, at once, "I am
no spy, your Eminence; and, whatever I may have done that is indiscreet,
I came not to examine or report, and never will, any thing I see in this
country. It is as safe with me as with yourself, lord cardinal."

"Then you acknowledge you have done indiscreet things?" said Richelieu.

"Probably," answered the young man: "who has not? But, still, I am no
spy."

"Of the character of a spy there may be many definitions," answered the
minister; "and modern codes do not exactly limit themselves to the
Hebrew interpretation of the term, to wit, that he is a person who goes
out to see the nakedness of the land. But, that apart, we must know the
meaning of what the letters in this bag contain." And, stretching back
his hand, he took the wallet and drew out a letter, while Edward
observed, as calmly as he could, "I am not responsible, your Eminence,
for what those letters contain. I know not the contents of any one of
them, but merely took them as requested to persons in France with whom
the writers had no other means of communication."

He spoke the truth; for he had not seen and did not know the contents of
any one of the letters he had borne across the channel, except that to
the good syndic Clement Tournon, which announced the speedy arrival of
Lord Denbigh's fleet.

Richelieu paid no apparent attention to what he said, but read from the
letter he held in his hand: "'To the most mighty Prince the Duc de
Rohan. These will be given to you by one in whom you can put all
confidence. Yield him all credence in what he shall tell you on the part
of a true friend.' 'To his Highness the Prince de Soubise. Monsieur: Let
me commend to you most highly the bearer, a young English gentleman of
good house, true, faithful, and worthy of all credit. He ought to be the
possessor of great estate; but I assure your Highness that his merit is
above his fortunes, and that the dearest trust you have you may confide
to his keeping.' Signed with a large B. All the rest, sir, are of the
same tenor,--without due signature, and in vague terms. What is the
meaning of this?"

"Probably the writers foresaw," replied Edward, who had determined on
his course, "that the letters might fall into the hands of your
Eminence, and, knowing themselves not your friends, might not wish to
make you my enemy."

"Bold, upon my life!" exclaimed Richelieu, in a tone of surprise.

"But true!" said Edward. "I much wish to see the Duc de Rohan or the
Prince de Soubise, upon matters totally unconnected with those letters;
and when your Eminence gives me permission to proceed I shall seek them
instantly."

"When I give permission," said Richelieu, somewhat scornfully; "but
well,--'tis very well. Sir, these letters are very suspicious, and would
well justify the detention of the bearer. But I must ask some more
questions. What seek you with Messieurs de Soubise and Rohan, two
noblemen in arms against their sovereign?"

"My lord cardinal, my business with them is private. Those letters are
suspicious or not, as they may be viewed: they are not criminal; and
though, as you shall determine, they may perhaps justify my detention,
yet I assure you once again I knew not their contents until this moment.
You must be the judge of your own conduct. I know my own purposes, and
can safely say my only object in seeking to see those two princes is one
with which your Eminence has no concern."

"I _am_ the judge of my own conduct, young gentleman," answered the
minister, in a not ungentle voice. "But see you here. Sir Peter Apsley
has been represented to me as a good, lubberly youth, whom his relations
and guardians are fain to send to foreign lands to see if he can gather
some grains of sense and learning amongst more quick-witted people. Now,
here we have a young man well read, ready and quick, of a fine taste,
and speaking many tongues. This is suspicious too,--unless indeed you
have visited some shrine and the saint has worked a miracle."

"My lord cardinal, it would befit me ill to bandy words with you,"
replied Edward: "I should but fare the worse. Your qualities are not
unknown in England; and, having said all I can rightly say, I would not
willingly try to match my wit against yours."

"I know few who could do it better for your age," said the cardinal,
perhaps remembering still with pleasure the youth's praise of his not
super-excellent verses. "But now to another theme. Who is the girl that
is travelling with you, first as a page, then in the habit of a
peasant-girl? Your paramour, I trust, she is not."

The cheek of Edward Langdale glowed like fire. "You wrong us both, even
by the thought, lord cardinal," he said, although Richelieu had spoken
the last words with a somewhat threatening brow. "You have heard me avow
that I have been perhaps guilty of some indiscretion; and I wish to
Heaven she had never come with me; but I could not dream of wronging an
innocent girl who has trusted entirely to me, and should think my love
for her but a poor and false excuse were I to do so even in thought. As
to her being with me, your Eminence may surmise many motives; but,
believe me, all were honest."

"I am willing to suppose it," answered the cardinal, mildly. "You wish
to marry: is it not so?"

Edward bowed his head.

"And you fear there may be difficulties raised by her family?" continued
Richelieu, in a tone of inquiry.

"Many," replied the youth.

"Perhaps there is a difference in rank," suggested the cardinal.

"It may be so," answered Edward; "but yet I am a gentleman, and all my
friends have been so, as far as we can trace the house."

"Well, we shall hear what she says herself," answered the minister,
ringing a small silver bell.

The exempt immediately appeared at the door, and the cardinal bade him
call Mademoiselle de Mirepoix from the neighboring room.

It is to be feared that Lucette was not a heroine. Her step was
tottering, and her face pale, when, after a pause of one or two minutes,
she entered the cardinal's presence. But the dress she now wore, rich
and in very good taste, not only displayed the young beauties of her
face and form, but made her look several years older than she really
was. Edward, conscious of what she must feel, bent his eyes to the
ground for an instant as she entered, but the next moment, with a sudden
impulse, advanced, and, taking her hand, led her toward the minister.

Richelieu was evidently struck with her appearance: it was something
very different from what he had expected to see, and the disappointment
was a pleasant one. With dignified politeness he rose to meet her, and
led her himself to a seat, saying, "I am glad to see you, mademoiselle.
I trust you rested well last night?"

Lucette raised her eyes with a look of surprise at the unexpected
kindness of his tone, and a warm blush passed over her cheek, while she
replied, "I did not sleep at all, my lord: I was too much frightened."

"Nay, be not frightened here, my child," replied Richelieu, in a
fatherly tone. "I must ask you a few questions, to which you must give
me sincere answers; but it will soon be over. To the bold and daring,
men in my position must be stern and harsh; but the timid and submissive
will only meet kindness and protection. First, then, tell me, what is
your name?"

"Lucette de Mirepoix," answered the beautiful young girl, in a low
voice.

"De Mirepoix du Valais?" inquired the minister.

"The same," said Lucette, looking up again with some surprise.

"Now let me hear if you have ever been in England," said Richelieu,
fixing his dark eyes upon her.

"Yes," answered Lucette, at once. "I have been in England for several
years."

"Do you know why you were sent there?" asked the cardinal. "Surely this
is a richer and more beautiful land than that cold, foggy island."

"Oh, no!" cried Lucette, eagerly. "It is true, I know nothing of the
land of France except about Rochelle; but nothing can be more beautiful
than England."

"And you would gladly marry an Englishman?" said Richelieu, with a
smile. Lucette blushed deeply, but answered nothing, and the cardinal
went on:--"You have not yet told me why you were sent to England."

"I do not personally know," answered Lucette; "but I have heard that a
lady--I think, called Madame de Luynes--claimed me as my nearest
relation, and that my other friends did not choose to give me up to her,
which the law might have forced them to do if she could have found me in
France."

Richelieu smiled. "That is a mistake," he said. "We would have found
means to frustrate such an attempt. Do you know if she still persists in
her purpose?"

"Oh, yes," answered Lucette, quickly: "at least, so I have been told.
They said that she had power enough in England, through the Duke of
Buckingham, to have me given up to her, even there. That was one reason
why I returned to France."

"And not to wed this young gentleman?" said the cardinal.

Lucette blushed again, and was silent.

"But you love him, and are willing to wed him?" continued Richelieu,
seeming to take a pleasure in the rosy embarrassment his questions
produced.

Poor Lucette! It was indeed a painful moment for her; but she felt that
her own fate, and that of Edward also, depended upon her words, and,
with her eyes bent down, and her face all in a glow, she answered, in a
low but firm tone, "Yes." Then, springing up as if she could bear the
torturing interrogation no longer, she darted across, cast herself upon
Edward's bosom, and wept.

"Answer enough, methinks," said Richelieu, speaking to himself. "And
now, daughter," he continued, gravely, "only two more questions, and I
have done. But your answers must be frank and open. Did your good
friends in La Rochelle know and consent to your travelling alone with
this young gentleman disguised as a page?"

"Oh, yes!" sobbed the poor girl: "they themselves proposed it. They knew
they could trust to his honor, and so could I. But we were not alone; we
had servants with us; and--and--"

"Enough," said Richelieu. "Monsieur de Soubise, you are a confident
man."

These words might have shown Lucette that she and the cardinal had been
playing in some sort at cross-purposes; but they were spoken in a low
tone, and in her agitation she did not hear or take notice of them.

"Now for the last question," said Richelieu: "but you must first resume
your seat;" and, taking her hand, he led her back to her chair. "Tell
me,--and tell me true, my child: have you ever heard that young
gentleman standing opposite to you called by any other name than Sir
Peter Apsley?"

It was a terrible blow to poor Lucette. She had been educated in truth
and honor; a lie was abhorrent to all her previous feelings and
thoughts; and yet, if she told the truth, she knew or believed that she
was condemning one whom she now felt she loved more than any one on
earth, to an ignominious death. She turned deadly pale, and raised her
eyes to Edward's face, as if seeking counsel or help.

Edward gave the help without a moment's hesitation. Stepping quickly
forward so as to stand immediately before the prelate's chair, he said,
"Ask her not that question, my lord cardinal. Neither make those sweet
honest lips utter a word of falsehood, nor force them to betray a secret
she thinks herself bound to keep. I will answer for her. She _has_ heard
me called by another name; but I could not have come into this country
without obtaining the passport of Sir Peter Apsley,--a young man of my
own age and height,--who had given up the intention of visiting France.
My name is Edward Langdale, son of Sir Richard Langdale, of Buckley, of
as good and old a family as his whose name I took."

Richelieu gazed at him coldly, without the least mark of surprise. "You
have tried to deceive me," he said; "but you could not. It was a
dangerous experiment, sir. And, now, what have you to say why the fate
you have sought should not fall upon your head?"

"Not much, your Eminence," replied Edward; "and all I have to say is
written here." And, as he spoke, he stretched forth his hand and took
the verses he had before read from the small table at the cardinal's
right hand, and repeated the first stanza:--

    "'Who on the height of power would stand must be
      Hard as a rock to those who dare his arm;
    To the indifferent, cool; and tenderly
      Treat the young faults of those who mean no harm.'

"That is all I can plead in favor of forgiveness."

"And you have fairly won it," said Richelieu, gravely; "but it shall
come in such a shape as perhaps you do not expect."

The words were ambiguous, and the cardinal's look was so cold that
Lucette's heart fell. She hesitated a moment, and then cast herself at
Richelieu's feet, murmuring, "Oh, spare him, my lord! spare him! He has
told you the whole truth now."

"Whatever becomes of me," exclaimed Edward, "for God's sake, give not up
this dear girl to Madame de Chevreuse."

He had touched the key-note; but it only served to confirm a half-formed
purpose in the great minister's mind. A smile spread over his face,
which was then eminently handsome, and, first turning to Lucette, he
said, "He has told me the whole truth, has he? Still, he will be all the
better of a safe-conduct in his own name. Shall I put in the page and
all, young gentleman?" Then, ringing the silver bell again, he ordered
the exempt, who had still waited without, to carry the passport of Sir
Peter Apsley to one of his secretaries and bid him make a copy,
substituting the name of Edward Langdale for Peter Apsley. "And hark,"
he continued; "bend down your ear."

The man obeyed. Richelieu whispered to him for a moment or two, and the
exempt retired, closing the door.

Still, Edward Langdale did not feel altogether at ease as to the fate of
Lucette. The smile upon the cardinal's lip when he proposed to "put in
the page and all" evidently marked the words as a jest; and Richelieu
now sat silent for several minutes, gazing upon the ground, as if still
somewhat undecided.

At length he looked up. "Monsieur de Langdale," he said, pointing to the
leathern case, "that belongs to you. It shall be sent to your room. In
it you will find nine hundred and eighty crowns of gold, all told.
Moreover, you can take the letters: I trust to your honor as a gentleman
not to use them against the king's service. Your safe-conduct will be
here in a few minutes; but, before I sign it, I will put the sincerity
of yourself and this young lady to one more test."

He paused, and looked at them both gravely for a moment, adding, "You
have given me to understand that you wish to unite your fates. You have
travelled so long together unrestrained, that, whether your families
consent or not, it is desirable, for the lady's sake, that there should
be a sacred bond between you. I now ask you both, are you willing to
plight your faith to each other at the altar?--now,--this very hour?"

Edward's heart beat high, it must be owned, with joy, although there
were many other emotions in his bosom; and perhaps at that moment he
regretted the loss of property which was rightfully his, more than he
had ever done before.

Lucette bent down her eyes with a face suffused with blushes; but, when
the cardinal again demanded, "What say you, Mademoiselle de Mirepoix?"
she took his hand and kissed it for her sole reply.

"With joy, my lord," answered Edward. "But will our marriage--both under
age--be valid without the consent of relations?"

Richelieu smiled. "Their consent you must obtain hereafter," he said;
"but, in the mean time, I will make your union so firm that no power on
earth or in hell can break it. By the power which the Church has given
me, I will sweep away all obstacles. But remember, sir, for the time you
separate at the altar. You may indeed convey Mademoiselle de Mirepoix
to either the Prince de Soubise or the Duc de Rohan,--not as your bride,
but with the same respect you assure me you have hitherto shown her. You
must promise me, as a gentleman, to return here, and confer with me, as
soon as you have seen the young lady safe under the protection of one of
her two cousins. Tell him--whichever it is--that in the peculiar
circumstances of the case the cardinal prime minister has judged it
imperatively necessary that you should be married, and has himself seen
the ceremony performed; that for two years you leave your bride with
him, but at the end of that time you will claim her and take her, and
that all my power shall be exerted to give her to you. He will find me
more difficult to frustrate than Madame de Chevreuse."

"The gentlemen your Eminence was pleased to summon," said a servant at
the door; and the next moment a number of different persons entered the
room, amongst whom the only one known to Edward and Lucette was Monsieur
de Tronson.

"Gentlemen, by your good leave, you are called as witnesses to a
marriage," said Richelieu. "You, Monsieur de Bleville, have the kindness
to take note in double of all the proceedings: there is paper. Go on to
the chapel: the almoner is there by this time: I will follow in an
instant. You will find two ladies there, I think. Tronson, stay with me
for a moment. Monsieur de la Force, you are of good years: give
Mademoiselle de Mirepoix your hand."

The crowd passed out, carrying with them Edward and Lucette, both
feeling as if they were in a dream. Richelieu extended his hand gravely
to Monsieur de Tronson, saying, "You see, De Tronson, even I can
forgive."

The secretary pressed his hand respectfully, saying, "Those you do
forgive, if they be generous and wise, will never offend again. But I
understand not this matter, your Eminence."

"Not understand!" cried Richelieu, with a laugh. "Did I not say I would
punish them both?--not these two pretty children, for I do believe I
make them happy,--but the proud Duchesse de Chevreuse and the rebellious
Prince de Soubise. What will be in the heart of Marie de Rohan when she
hears that the heiress, on whose guardianship she had set her heart to
strengthen herself by her marriage into some powerful house, is already
married to a poor English gentleman? What will be in her heart, Tronson,
I say? Hell! hell! To Soubise--if he submits,--as submit he must--we can
make compensation. But there is much to be done, Tronson, and I must
leave it to you to do; for in an hour I must be on my way to Beauregard,
where I expect a visit from Monsieur this evening. First, these two
lovers must set out to-night for Niort. Let a coach well horsed be ready
for them. Then they must have some aged and prudent dame to bear them
company; and next, a good sure man must keep his eye on the lad till he
returns here, which will be in a day or two."

"Then does your Eminence still suspect him?" asked De Tronson.

"Suspect him? No, man, no: I know him!" answered Richelieu. "This is
Edward Langdale, page to my Lord Montagu,--a brave, bold, honest, clever
lad, who shall do me good service yet, without knowing it. He is going
to join his lord somewhere on the frontier, or in Lorraine or in Savoy,
doubtless with tidings from Buckingham,--though there be no letters from
the gaudy duke amongst those he carries. I like the lad, and, were it
possible to gain him--but that cannot be. Now, let us to the chapel. You
see to the rest; I have but time to dispose of Madame de Chevreuse's
fair ward, and make all so sure that she must fret in vain."[1]

[Footnote 1: Some historians have fancied that there were feelings of
tenderness on the part of Richelieu toward the beautiful Marie de Rohan;
but it is only necessary to look into any of the memoirs of those times,
and to remember the character of the man, to see that Madame de
Chevreuse was incessantly employed in thwarting his plans, undervaluing
his genius, and even ridiculing his person; and that nothing but the
most bitter enmity could be excited on his part by such conduct.]



CHAPTER XIX.


The state of France at that time was curious, and worthy of a short
description. It shall be very short, reader, for I am aware how tiresome
such details are to three classes of people,--to those who know every
thing, to those who know nothing, and to those who want to "get on with
the story." But it will save us a world of trouble hereafter, and spare
us the use of that bad beast, Explanation, which is always trotting with
the wrong leg foremost.

In England, the Wars of the Roses, the salutary severity of that great
king, Richard the Third, the avarice of his successor, the tyranny of
the eighth Henry and his two daughters, had swept away the exorbitant
power and privileges which the feudal system had conferred upon the high
nobility. But in France not even the wise rigor of some of her
kings--not even the sanguinary struggles of the League--had effected
nearly so much. Indeed, the termination of the wars of the League had
wellnigh undone what had previously been accomplished toward restricting
the inordinate independence of the nobles; for Henry IV., after having
conquered his enemies, was obliged to buy them, and to make concessions
which would have rendered the sceptre powerless in any hand less mighty
than his own.

When the knife of Ravaillac placed Louis XIII. on the throne of France,
troubles of various kinds succeeded, which not only weakened the royal
authority but impoverished the kingdom; and at the moment when the
Cardinal de Richelieu laid his strong hand upon the reins of government,
the weak monarch, feeling his own incompetence, had fallen almost into a
state of despair from the troubles and dangers around him. But the words
of an author who wrote while despotism still existed theoretically in
France will give us a good picture of the ideas of the day, though we
may not coincide with him in his conclusions.

"Louis," says the writer of whom I speak, "to excuse the timidity of his
council, did not fail to repeat the statements made to him every day
about the weakness of his kingdom, and to assert that by a firmer course
he would run the risk of bringing wars upon his hands which he could not
support. The prelate [Richelieu] overthrew all these objections, by
showing the young monarch the resources of France,--her immense
population, the bravery of her inhabitants, the fertility of her soil,
the abundance and variety of her productions, her beautiful forests, her
quarries, the riches of her mines,--above all, her wine and her salt,
gifts of Nature which other nations are obliged to come to her and ask
for; her rivers almost all navigable, so favorable to internal commerce;
her happy position between two seas, favorable to external; the strength
of her frontiers, defended by rivers and mountains, natural ramparts, or
by cities which a little art would render impregnable; in fine, the very
constitution of her government, which gave to a single man the power to
put all these resources in action by one word and in one instant.

"Richelieu then proceeded to assert that the principal cause of the
depression of France amongst the nations was that she tolerated various
religions in her bosom, and doubtless he had determined to root out that
evil; but there was another which he clearly saw, but concealed from the
king, and against which he afterward waged a continual war, by art, by
arms, and by the axe: this was the independent power of the nobles,
which, in fact, gave all its strength to religious faction."

In that day, every high noble had his city or his castle, which he did
not scruple, on slight pretexts, to garrison against his sovereign, and
very often resisted the royal troops with so much success as to force
the monarch to purchase his submission. Such was the case, but two or
three years before the time of which I write, with the Marquis de la
Force at Montauban; such the case with the Count de Coligni at Aïgues
Mortes. A marshal's baton, a large sum of money, the government of a
province, the revenues of an abbey, were the reward of acts which
Richelieu resolved should in future be rewarded by exile or the axe.

A report of the surprise of one of these feudal fortresses at this very
period gives a vivid picture not only of the state of France in a time
of profound peace, but of the strength of the castle itself. "They [the
citizens of Château Renard]," says Monsieur de Fougeret, in his
_Relation_, "obtained possession with the armed hand on the 27th May,
1621, at four o'clock in the afternoon, of the fortress called the
Castellet, which commanded their town, and in which the lords of
Chatillon had kept a garrison for the last twenty-five years. The walls
were four toises and a half in thickness; and there were within many
chambers, casemates, prisons, dungeons, cellars, a well, ovens,
hand-mills, battering-pieces, falconets, powder, ammunition of every
kind, and a private subterranean passage to come and go under cover all
about the said fortress, all terraced within."

Instead of attempting to remedy this state of things, Louis had
recognised and acted upon the system which he had found in existence,
and about this time, in the case of Richelieu himself, not only
permitted him to maintain a guard of musketeers, but gave him the town
of Brouage "as a place of surety."

To strike at the root of such a system of legalized rebellion at once
was impossible; but the cardinal had resolved to make his master, or his
master's minister, King of France in reality as well as in name, to curb
and humiliate the high nobility, and in the end to make them servants
instead of rulers of the state. To effect this, the first step was to
strike them with terror, and, although the name of Richelieu had already
become redoubtable to many, to make it a word of omen to all. The first
acts of a terrible tragedy arranged for that purpose were actually
passing before the eyes of the court at the time when Edward Langdale
arrived in Nantes. The Duke of Vendôme, the governor of the province of
Brétagne, and his brother the Grand Prior of France, were both already
prisoners in the castle of Amboise,--a place full of the memories of
cruelty, treachery, and crime; and Marshal Ornano was in the prison of
Vincennes. Chalais--once a great favorite, and still Master of the Robes
to the King--was in the dungeons of Nantes, waiting trial and judgment
by an iniquitous and illegal tribunal. No victims could have been better
chosen for the gods whom Richelieu sought to propitiate: Vendôme and the
Grand Prior were natural sons of Henry IV. and half-brothers of the
actual monarch. The one humbled himself completely before the minister,
and issued out of prison stripped of all his offices and property, and
reduced to the revenue of a simple and even needy gentleman. The Grand
Prior conceded nothing, confessed nothing, and died in prison. Ornano
also died a captive, exclaiming, almost with his last breath, "Ah,
cardinal, what power thou hast!" But the Count de Chalais was the choice
victim, reserved for the most conspicuous sacrifice. Of the high house
of Talleyrand-Perigord, grandson of the great and terrible Montluc, held
up to envy by the favor of the king and the high dignities to which he
seemed treading a rapid course, the news that he was arrested, thrown
into a solitary dungeon, forbidden communication with any one, to be
tried by a high commission, spread that air of fear and gloom over the
court and city which Edward Langdale had remarked on entering Nantes. No
one knew how far the conspiracy extended; no one knew who was next to
fall. All were aware, however, that the number of noble gentlemen and
ladies under suspicion was immense, and that the king's own brother
himself trembled at the consequences of his rash acts and purposes. A
pause of hope came in the midst of all these disquietudes. The
commission had sat once, presided over by Marillac, the lord-keeper; and
it began to be whispered that the prisoner had defended himself so well,
had cast so much suspicion upon the documents produced against him, and
had shown so clearly that the graver parts of the accusation were
utterly improbable and probably false, that even the fickle king, whose
affection he had long lost, expressed convictions in his favor. But that
same day, in the darkness of the night, Richelieu's chamber was left
vacant; that same night a muffled cavalier passed Edward Langdale and
descended to the dungeons; that same night the jailer gave the stranger
admission to the cell of the unhappy Count de Chalais; and that same
night the king was roused to receive the cardinal, bearing him
important intelligence.

Previous to that hour, Richelieu had been restless, imperious, anxious,
irritable: the first proceedings of the commissioners had brought him,
evidently, any thing but satisfaction; but a strange change came over
him in a few hours. When De Tronson visited him on the morning of the
day succeeding his mysterious interview with the prisoner Chalais, he
found him calm, placable, even sportive. The mind was evidently at ease:
he had slept, he said, like a child: some great object was
accomplished,--some mighty triumph gained,--some move on the wide
chess-board made which insured the game. There had been a moment of
apprehension, a moment of danger: if he failed against Chalais, the
fabric of his power, the cement of which was hardly dry, would tumble
about his ears. But Richelieu was not destined to fail. He had taken the
necessary course, however terrible, however unusual, however strange;
and now he could not only repose in peace, but he could be as playful as
his cat.

The cardinal's equipage had been ordered for his beautiful house of
Beauregard, not far from the walls of Nantes, at one o'clock; and he set
out for that place at the exact hour. Shortly after he was gone, the
Duke of Anjou applied to see him at his usual apartments in the castle.
The air of the king's brother was somewhat troubled,--not greatly, for
he thought he had assured himself that the rumor of Chalais having made
some unexpected confession was false. The duke was, as all the world
knew, timid and feeble, and less personally brave than his brother; and
the very first reports of a confession made by Chalais, which he feared
might compromise himself, had induced him to see the king and ask his
permission to go for a few days to the sea-side to recover his health.
Louis, with his habitual hypocrisy, caressed his brother, whom he hated,
but told him he must apply to the cardinal for the permission he
required. The manner of the king was so gentle and so smooth that Gaston
of Anjou was quite deceived. He mounted his horse within the hour, and,
followed by a gay and brilliant company, rode out for Beauregard.
Richelieu had watched his coming from the window, and met him at the
top of the great stairs. He conducted the prince into his private
cabinet, and then begged him to be seated, himself standing in the
presence of his sovereign's brother.

"Monsieur le Cardinal, I am anxious to go to the sea-side for a short
time," said Gaston, "and my brother has no objection; but he requires
first that I shall obtain your consent."

"How does your royal Highness propose to travel?" asked the minister.

"Oh, quite simply," replied the prince; "in fact, _incognito_."

"Would it not be better for your Highness to wait," said Richelieu, "at
least, till your marriage with Mademoiselle de Montpensier has taken
place? Then you can travel as a prince."

That marriage had been the central point of all the plots and intrigues
of the court for months. Richelieu, knowing the volatile and intriguing
spirit of the prince, as well as his wild ambition, had determined that
Gaston should wed a French gentlewoman, whatever wealth she might bring
him, rather than a princess who would insure to him the dangerous
support of foreign aid. Chalais and his party had opposed such a union;
Gaston had joined them; and round this simple opposition, Richelieu had
woven a web of mingled facts and falsehoods which was of a far stronger
texture than the young duke fancied at that moment.

"If I wait till I am married to Mademoiselle de Montpensier," said the
Duc d'Anjou, "I shall not get to the sea-side this summer, at least."

"Why so?" asked the cardinal. "Why cannot the marriage take place in a
few days?"

"I do not feel well," said the prince, who did not venture to say he
would not conclude the marriage at all: "I am ill, and would rather
regain my health before I marry. The sea-air will do me good."

The serpent-smile came upon Richelieu's lips again. "Oh, I have a
prescription," he said, "which will cure the malady of your Highness
very rapidly."

"How soon?" asked the prince, in a hesitating tone, not liking that
smile, which he had seen before.

"In ten minutes," answered Richelieu, "for it cannot take long to act."
And, opening his portfolio, he took forth a paper all written in a hand
which Gaston knew too well. There, before his eyes, all apparently in
the writing of the unhappy Chalais, was a confession of a treasonable
conspiracy against the king and the state, in which he himself, Gaston
of Anjou, and the young Queen Anne of Austria, were implicated by name.
How much was really written by Chalais, how much had been added by the
cardinal's skilful secretaries, has never been known; but Gaston was
conscious that he was lost if he did not make his peace. After a moment
of stupefied astonishment, he agreed to the proposed marriage,--agreed
that it should take place immediately; but then, remembering his high
position as brother of the reigning monarch and heir-presumptive to the
throne, he began to make conditions,--demanded some security for the
life, at least, of his friend and partisan Chalais.

But the terrible words which had long been hanging on the cardinal's
lips were spoken at last, when the prince proposed some stipulations.
"Perhaps," he said, "in the position in which your Highness now stands,
it would be better to content yourself with the promise of your own life
and liberty."

The young duke stood like one stupefied. The audacious idea that he--he,
Gaston of Anjou--might possibly be brought to trial, condemned,
executed, or sentenced to perpetual imprisonment, was spoken with calm
civility, with courtly reverence for his high rank, but in a tone so
cold, so grave, so determined, as to show that it was not unfamiliar to
him who uttered it. A vague impression of the character of the man with
whom he had to do--no definite perception, no clear insight into his
character, but a sort of instinct, which seemed given to him on a sudden
for his preservation--took possession of Gaston of Anjou. He yielded at
once and entirely. A faint, hypocritical effort in favor of the unhappy
Chalais, which Richelieu well knew how to parry with soft words and
half-promises, was all that the selfish prince ventured to attempt.
Toward himself, however, the minister showed himself unbounded in
liberality. Dukedoms, Government posts to the amount of a million of
revenue, were promised and given on the marriage of Monsieur with
Mademoiselle de Montpensier; and the contract was sealed with the blood
of Chalais. It was a part of Richelieu's system.

Vialart, Bishop of Avranches, a contemporary, remarks that the great
minister was accustomed, in dealing with those nobles who had any real
pretensions, to grant them even more than they could rightly claim; but,
if they showed themselves insensible to such conduct, from that moment
he had no mercy on them. It was a part of his system, also, to teach one
to betray another. The weaknesses of the men with whom he had to do
served him as much as their strength.

The art of fathoming the characters of those who surround us, and the
science of applying their strong qualities against our enemies and using
their weaknesses against themselves, is the great secret of ambition. By
it, every usurper has risen to power; by it, most have maintained
themselves in authority; and when they have fallen, it has been more
frequently by a mistake in the character of others than by want of force
in their own. It may seem a Machiavelian axiom; but, had I the wisdom of
the great Florentine, I should not be at all ashamed of being compared,
even in one short passage, to that wise, virtuous, much-misunderstood
man. The axiom, however, applies as closely to nations as to
individuals. It resolves itself simply into this:--Who knows a nation
best will rule that nation best. We have a thousand illustrations of the
fact; and Richelieu certainly knew the French nation--that is to say
when speaking of those times--knew the nobility, as well as man could
know them,--in the mass, and individually; and, whenever it suited his
purpose to be stern, he knew no pity, showed no compassion; whenever
there was no object in severity, he was kind, or gentle, or sportive.

The well-known anecdote of Boisrobert and Mademoiselle de Gournay, when
the former induced Richelieu to bestow upon the good old poetess, first
a pension of a hundred crowns for herself, then a pension of fifty
crowns for her chambermaid, then a pension of twenty crowns for her cat,
and, lastly, a pistole for each of the cat's kittens, shows to what
extent his good-humor could be carried. On the other hand, the fate of
Chalais, Montmorency, Cinq Mars, De Thou, Marillac, and a host of
others, gives fearful evidence of his relentless vengeance. At the
period of which I write, however, the harsher points of his character
had not fully developed themselves: perhaps they were not fully formed;
for the minister whom we see represented on the stage, at this very
period of his history, as an old and almost decrepit man struggling with
an imaginary conspiracy, was really only forty-two years of age, and
vigorous in body as in intellect.[2]

[Footnote 2: In the beautiful play of Richelieu, by Sir Edward Lytton,
Richelieu is always dressed and represented, both on the English and
American stage, as a very old and feeble man. The period of Richelieu's
life is marked in the play by the introduction of Baradas. Now, Baradas
succeeded Chalais in the favor of Louis XIII., and was exiled within the
year. His fall from high favor and great wealth to his original
obscurity and actual poverty was caused by no crime or conspiracy on his
part, but merely by his rudeness and imprudence.]



CHAPTER XX.


The marriage-ceremony of Edward Langdale and Lucette de Mirepoix du
Valais was over. Act was taken, as it was then sometimes called, of the
fact, signed by the bride and bridegroom and by all present; and
Richelieu's own name stood first in the list of witnesses.

Every one well knows that in those days clandestine marriages took place
frequently between persons very young, and also that the omnipotent
power of the Romish Church was not uncommonly called in to dissolve a
rite which the Church itself pronounced a sacrament. But the presence of
Richelieu as prelate, cardinal, and prime minister was enough to secure
the union of Edward and Lucette against any machinations of unconsenting
friends in the courts, either civil or ecclesiastical. But the great
minister left nothing undone to prevent the possibility of such a
result: not a word was omitted which could render the ceremony binding;
and Spada, the pope's nuncio, himself, was easily induced to give his
formal sanction to an act which recognised to a certain degree the
authority of the Romish Church and struck a heavy blow at one of the
greatest Protestant leaders.

But a few words were spoken by the cardinal to the young bridegroom
after the marriage; but they seemed to be important; for, though they
were for the most part uttered in a whisper, all those who were still
around heard the question, "Do you promise me, upon your honor as a
gentleman?" and Edward's reply, "I do, most solemnly."

"Now, De Tronson," said the cardinal, "give our young friends an hour or
two to compose their minds after so much agitation, and then forward
them, as I directed, to wherever they may find the Prince de Soubise or
his brother."

In five minutes after Lucette was left alone with her young husband, his
arms were thrown around her, and her blushing face and tearful eyes were
hidden on his bosom.

"Have we done right, Edward?" she said, after some pause.

"It was the only thing left for us to do, my love," he answered, kissing
her tenderly. "And yet, Lucette, I fear it may not be so much for our
happiness as it would seem. I foresee that your great relations will
make every effort to annul our marriage or to keep us forever separate."

"That they shall never do, my love,--my husband," said Lucette, warmly:
"they may separate us now; doubtless they will: but the time must come
when I shall be my own mistress; and whenever that time does come, and
you desire it, I will go to join you anywhere,--as, indeed, I am in duty
bound to do."

"Then, my own dear girl," said the youth, "this marriage is not a forced
union on your part, but as full of love and willingness as on mine? Oh,
speak, Lucette!"

"Can you doubt it, Edward?" she answered. "I only feared for a moment
that our own feelings might have led us to seize upon the cardinal's
proposal too eagerly for our duty and respect toward others; but, on
reflection, I think we could not avoid it. It was our only chance of
safety."

"I think so too," answered her young husband. "But yet it is almost
cruel of the cardinal not to have carried his kindness one step further,
and suffered me to take you with me, as my wife, wherever fate may lead
me. But yet, dear girl, perhaps he was wise. We are both too young."

"But, if we are too young, is this marriage binding? Can they not break
it?" asked Lucette, with a look of apprehension which was of very sweet
assurance to Edward Langdale.

"Oh, no," he replied: "the cardinal made sure of that. I could see he
took especial pains at every point of the ceremony, that there might not
be a flaw now nor a quibble hereafter. Did you not remark how he
corrected two words in the act with his own hand? They cannot break it,
Lucette,--except, perhaps, with your consent."

"That they shall never have," replied Lucette. "Oh, Edward, let us both
swear to each other never to consent that this contract shall be broken
between us. Let us do it solemnly; let us go down upon our knees before
the God who sees all hearts, and be married again by our own holy
promises."

As she spoke, she knelt, holding the youth's hand in hers, and, carried
away by her simple love, he knelt beside her; and, with the confidence
of early youth, they repeated the vows of everlasting faith to each
other, and solemnly promised never to consent to a dissolution of their
union, but each to seek the other at the first call.

Had Lucette known more of the world and worldly things, had her heart or
her thoughts been less pure and spotless, Edward might have had a
difficult task that day; for the cardinal had bound him by a promise
similar to the injunction which the King of the Genii imposed upon
Prince Zeyn Alasnum in the book which has enchanted all young and
imaginative brains. But her innocence saved him from all suspicion of
coldness; and the very undisguised love with which she rested on his
bosom or received his kisses--warmer though not more affectionate than
her own--spared all explanation, and gave to hope all the coloring of
joy.

But they had much else to discuss,--how to communicate with each other
when they were separated, how they were to act toward the Prince de
Soubise when they found him, what they were to tell and what they were
to conceal. Just let the reader sit down and fancy all that could and
might be said by two people who had passed through so much during the
last few hours, who had so much to pass through still, who were so
strangely situated, who knew so little of each other and yet who loved
each other so well, and his imagination will supply much more of their
conversation than I am skilled to tell. That conversation lasted long.
One hour went away after another: they were left totally alone; (and for
that, too, Richelieu had his reasons;) and two o'clock had passed ere
any one disturbed them. Then a servant came to announce to them that
their mid-day meal was served in an adjoining chamber, and they
proceeded thither, with feelings very strange:--happy, and yet not
fully; composed, in comparison with their feelings not many hours
before, yet agitated; with warm hope for the future, but many a
bewildering doubt and some apprehension.

But the first sight that presented itself on entering the little hall
where their dinner was served gave matter for fresh thought to Edward.
As to Lucette, her thoughts had employment enough: she was married; she
was a wife, and one act of the life-drama of a woman was over: the
curtain was down for the time.

But there, on two sides of the table, each behind a chair, appeared
Pierrot la Grange and Jacques Beaupré; and Edward's dinner was rendered
tedious by his anxiety to learn from the latter the particulars of his
escape near Mauzé and all that followed. While the court laquais was in
the room, of course nothing could be said; but the man soon delivered
the party from his presence, retiring as soon as the dinner--which was
somewhat meagre--was over and the dessert placed upon the table. Pierrot
had, indeed, before the man left the room, boldly apologized to his
young master for not returning to him that morning, saying plainly that
he had been stopped by the servants of the chateau. "I hear, however,"
he added, with a smile and a reverence, "that all has ended happily; and
I beg humbly to offer my congratulations to monsieur and madame."
Jacques, in his grave way, and the laquais, with courtly fluency, added
their compliments upon the occasion; and Edward felt his scanty purse
under tax.

"And now, Jacques," he said, as soon as they were free from the presence
of the stranger, "tell me, as quickly and succinctly as possible, what
has occurred since we last met."

"Why, sir, what happened to me can be little to you," answered the man:
"suffice it I got through a small hole in the lines when my young lady
stuck in a large one. I reached the Chateau of Mauzé easily, bags and
all, and, as you had ordered, went straight to the Prince de Soubise. I
found the whole party there ready to break up, for the Papists were
getting too many for them in the neighborhood,--the prince and duke
having but three hundred men with them, while the enemy had three
thousand round about. Monsieur de Soubise roared like a cow that has
lost her calf when he heard that you and Pierrot were in all likelihood
captured, and still worse when he learned that mademoiselle was
certainly in the hands of the enemy; but the bags seemed a great
consolation to him, and he plunged into them for refreshment as a tired
man does into a cool river. He took out all the letters and papers, and
fingered the gold and counted it; and then he read a letter which had
his own name on it, and looked at all the rest one by one. Some he put
aside, and the others he returned to the bag again with the money, and
he and Monsieur de Rohan, with two or three others, went into the window
and talked together for full half an hour. At the end of that time they
came back and opened the other bag; but they seemed to have no great
love for a frippery; for, finding there was nothing in it but purfled
shirts and laced collars and some suits of clothes, they soon shut it up
again, and then told me I must come with them, for Mauzé was likely to
be turned into a rat-trap. As I had found by this time there was very
little cheese in the trap, I was as glad as any one to get out, and we
travelled for two days, having a brush now and then with the king's
soldiers. Sometimes we had a little the better and sometimes a little
the worse; but we contrived to get through all in the end, and we also
made three prisoners. From them Monsieur le Prince learned that you had
been sent to Nantes and that mademoiselle had been sent after you; and
thereupon he proposed to me to follow you, taking with me your money and
such letters as he said could do no harm. I was to inquire for you
diligently but quietly; and his Highness told me of several places in
the town where I certainly should find friends, and perhaps information.
Well, sir, I made my conditions, as all wise men do. I stipulated for a
good horse, and for leave to go round by Meile and St. Maixens, (for we
were by this time at a good farm hard by St. Jean,) and for money enough
to carry me there and bring me back, and a little to spare. All this was
granted, and I set out. But in one of the places where I was certain to
find friends in Nantes, the good folks were so very friendly that they
thought I should be better lodged and fed in the chateau, and therefore
let his blessed Majesty or some of his people know that I was in the
city inquiring for one Sir Peter Apsley, who was soon to arrive.
Thereupon I was brought up here with my bag by two archers and an
exempt; and here have I been entertained at the royal expense ever
since."

"But you have not been a prisoner?" asked Edward. "Pierrot told me you
were at liberty."

"You have seen a mouse just after a cat has caught it, sir?" said the
man. "I was just in that state. I underwent a good mumbling in the shape
of an examination when first I came, and then I was told I was set free
because Sir Peter Apsley was under the cardinal's particular protection;
but, whenever I tried to go a hundred yards, pat came a paw upon me; and
I fully made up my mind that, like poor madame mouse, I was only to be
played with till I was eaten up. But at length I heard you were here;
and last night I was chewed up in another examination; but I always took
refuge in utter ignorance. I only knew that you had arrived at Rochelle
in a merchant-ship,--not in Lord Denbigh's fleet, for that they asked me
particularly; that, you and I being both anxious to get out of that
God-forgotten place, I had taken service with you, as you wanted another
man, having but one attendant and a page; that you were neither very
tall nor very short, neither very brown nor very fair; that you spoke
some French, but more English, looked for a beard with good hope, and
were altogether a personable young gentleman about nineteen."

"You did me more than justice, Jacques," replied Edward. "However, you
have acted well and discreetly; and I trust all present danger has
passed away."

"Ah, sir," replied the man, "danger is always present. Neither you nor I
can tell that twelve hours ago you were in greater peril than you are at
this moment."

"Good Heaven! what does he mean, Edward?" exclaimed Lucette, turning
pale. "What new peril does he speak of?"

"None, madame, in particular," replied Jacques Beaupré. "My father was
killed by the fall of a beam on the celebration of his wedding-day. My
uncle served under King Henry the Fourth, and fought in ten battles, but
died from running a nail into his foot. My eldest brother was a sailor,
and saw many a storm, but was drowned while bathing in the Sevre
Niortaise; and by the time that I was twenty I had learned that in this
world there is no such thing as danger, no such thing as security, and
that the only way to be happy is to be ready at all times and fearful at
none."

"A good philosophy, upon my word," said Edward. "But now our thought
must be, where we can find Monsieur de Soubise."

"You might as well try to ride in a carriage after a hawk," answered
Jacques: "he is here and there and everywhere in a day. But Monsieur de
Rohan you will find more easily. He is probably at St. Martin des
Rivières, the little castle which, just in the fork of the two rivers,
can be defended by a handful against an army."

"There, then, we must go," said Edward. "But it is strange, dear
Lucette, that we have seen no one for the last three hours. I thought
Monsieur de Tronson said he would rejoin us."

Edward little knew the multitude of events which were passing within the
sombre walls of that chateau,--some great, some small, but all tending
more or less to the promotion of those mighty results which were now
marching on in France, all full of deep personal concern to the various
personages around him, and amongst which the fate of himself and his
Lucette was but as a petty interlude, which could excite nothing but a
transient feeling of interest or amusement.

Half an hour more went by; and then was heard the sound of many feet
passing along through some chamber near. At the end of above five
minutes the door opened, and Monsieur de Tronson led in an elderly lady
habited as if for a journey.

"Madame de Langdale," said the secretary of the cabinet, addressing
Lucette, "Madame de Lagny, with whom you passed last night, will have
the pleasure of accompanying you and Monsieur de Langdale on your
journey. The carriage has been ready for an hour; but, the council
having sat later than usual, I could not leave my post. Monsieur will do
me the honor of accompanying me to his chamber below, where I will put
him in possession of his money and his safe-conduct, together with his
baggage, while you prepare for travelling, which, as it is, must, I
fear, be protracted into the night."

Edward followed him down several flights of steps, conversing with him,
as he went, upon the arrangements for their journey, telling him that he
feared from his servant's information they would be obliged to proceed
beyond Niort to St. Martin des Rivières, and that, consequently, at
least two days more than he had calculated upon must pass ere he could
fulfil the promise he had given to return.

But De Tronson seemed thoughtful and absent; for, in truth, he had just
come from a painful scene;[3] and, although he heard, and answered all
his young companion said, it was by an effort, and evidently without
interest.

All the arrangements were soon made, however. Edward's property was
restored to him; the tradesmen he and Lucette had employed were paid;
and then the secretary led him to the little court, where stood one of
the large clumsy carriages of the day with four tall horses. A stout man
on horseback was also there, holding by the rein the horse which Jacques
Beaupré had ridden to Nantes, and, as no beast had been provided for
Pierrot, he mounted beside the coachman. Lucette and her companion were
already in the vehicle, and, with a kind adieu from M. de Tronson,
Edward took his place beside them, and the vehicle rolled on.

[Footnote 3: The second examination of the unhappy Chalais,
perhaps,--perhaps the lamentable scene of Anne of Austria's appearance
before the council. It does not seem that De Tronson was particularly
intimate with the Count de Chalais during his prosperity; but he
certainly spoke in his favor to the king after his arrest, and painted
in strong colors the danger of marrying Gaston to the rich heiress of
Montpensier, whose revenues would in time make the heir-presumptive more
wealthy than the monarch. Indeed, to many it has seemed that in this
marriage Richelieu made the most dangerous error of his life. De Tronson
seems to have been an amiable man and a man of talent, who somewhat
feared Richelieu and courted him as much as honor and honesty would
permit. But he soon disappears from the political stage; and his
ultimate fate I do not know.]



CHAPTER XXI.


It was a beautiful evening in July, the sky flecked with light clouds
just beginning to look a little rosy with a consciousness that Phoebus
was going to bed. They cannot get over that modest habit; for, although
they have seen the god strip himself of his garmenture of rays and
retire to rest every day for--on a very moderate calculation--six or
seven thousand years, they will blush now and then when they see him
entering his pavilion of repose and ready to throw off his mantle. There
is much pudency about clouds. All other things get brazen and hardened
by custom, but clouds blush still.

It was a beautiful evening in July when the carriage which contained
Lucette, Edward, and Madame de Lagny arrived in sight of the chateau of
St. Martin des Rivières; but, when they did come in sight, how to get at
it became a question of some difficulty. There, on a little mound, stood
the building,--not large, but apparently very massive and well
fortified,--within a hundred yards of the confluence of two deep and
rapid rivers, the passage of each commanded by the guns on the ramparts
and on the keep. No bridge, no boat, was to be seen, and for some time
the party of visitors made various signals to the dwellers in the
chateau; but it was all in vain, and at length Edward Langdale resolved
to mount the good strong horse of Jacques Beaupré and swim the nearest
stream.

Educated in a city, it was not without terror and a sweet, low
remonstrance that Lucette saw her young husband undertake and perform a
feat she had never seen attempted before; but Edward, though borne with
his horse a good way down the stream by the force of the water, reached
the other side in safety, and his companions could see him ride to the
drawbridge and enter the castle.

During some twenty minutes nothing further could be descried; and then,
at a point where one of the outworks came down to the river, what I
think was called in those days a water-gate was opened, and a boat shot
out with two strong rowers.

Edward Langdale himself did not appear; but one of the boatmen walked up
to the carriage and informed the ladies that his lord, the Duc de Rohan,
would be happy to receive them in the chateau, but that the carriage and
the men must remain on that side of the river, as the boat could only
contain four persons and none other could be had.

"Ah, that is the reason Monsieur de Langdale did not return for us,"
said Madame de Lagny, with whom Edward had become a great favorite. "I
was sure he had too much politeness to send servants for his lady if he
could come himself."

A few minutes passed in placing Lucette's little wardrobe in the boat,
and then, with a heart somewhat faint and sad, she followed Madame de
Lagny to the water-side, remembering but too acutely that on the
opposite bank she was to be received by persons who, however near akin,
were but strangers to her, and there, too, very soon to part from him
whom she was not now ashamed to own to herself she loved better than any
one on earth.

The boat shot off from the shore, and though carried so far down by the
force of the current that the water-gate could not be reached, yet after
some hard pulling the shore was gained, and the two ladies turned toward
the drawbridge over which they had seen Edward Langdale pass. Madame de
Lagny looked toward the great gate, but the young husband did not
appear. In his place, however, was seen a stout middle-aged man, with
hair somewhat silvered, and his breast covered by a plain corslet of
steel. There were two or three other persons a step farther under the
arch; and Madame de Lagny whispered, "That must be the duke himself. But
where can Monsieur Edward be?"

Lucette's heart was asking her the same question; but by this time the
Duc de Rohan was advancing to meet her and her companion, and in a
moment more he was near enough to take Madame de Lagny's hand and raise
it courteously to his lips.

"You have come to a rude place, madame," he said, "and among somewhat
rude men; but we must do what we can to make your stay tolerable."

"Oh, my lord duke," replied the lady, with a courtly inclination of the
head, "I must away as soon as possible. I am expected back at the court
directly. But where is Monsieur de Langdale? I do not see him."

"He is in the chateau, madame," replied the duke; "but he has been
telling me so strange a tale that I have judged it best, before he and
this--["girl," he was in the act of saying; but he checked himself, and
substituted the words "young lady"]--before he and this young lady meet
again, to have from her lips and from yours what are the facts of the
case. Pray, let us go in."

"The facts of the case are very simple, my lord," replied the old lady,
with some stiffness. "Monsieur de Langdale is the husband of this young
lady, formerly Mademoiselle de Mirepoix, whom you do not seem to
recognise, my lord duke, though she is your near of kin. He married her
in the presence of the cardinal and the whole court."

"More impudent varlet he!" exclaimed the duke, angrily. "And you,
mademoiselle,--what have you to say to all this fine affair? Why, you
are a mere child! This marriage can never stand!--without any one's
consent! It is a folly!"

"Not at all, duke," said Madame de Lagny. "Pray, recollect, sir, that
Madame de Rambouillet was married at twelve,--I myself at sixteen.
Madame is nearly fifteen, she tells me; and, as to the marriage not
standing, you will find yourself much mistaken. The man who made it is
not one to leave any thing he undertakes incomplete, as you will
discover. They are as firmly married as any couple in the land, and that
with the full authority of the king, which in this realm of France
supersedes the necessity for any other consent whatever. She is a ward
of the crown, sir; and her father having died in rebellion is no bar to
the rights of the monarch."

"Madame, I beseech you, use softer words," said the duke, in a calmer
tone. "My good cousin De Mirepoix died in defence of his religion,
without one thought of rebellion, and really in the service of his
Majesty, whose plighted word had been violated not by himself, but by
bad ministers who usurped his name. Make room, gentlemen. This way,
madame. We shall find in this hall a more private place for our
conference."

So saying, he led the way into the large room in the lower story of the
keep, and there begged Madame de Lagny to be seated. Lucette he took by
the arm and gazed into her face for a moment, saying,--

"Yes; she is very like. Here, take this stool, child: we have no
fauteuils here. Now, answer my question. What had you to do with this
marriage? Did it take place at his request or yours?"

Lucette's heart had at first sunk with alarm and disappointment at the
harsh reception she had received, having little idea what a
chattel--what a mere piece of goods--a rich orphan relation was looked
upon amongst most of the noble families of France. But the very
harshness which had terrified her at first at length roused her spirit;
and, though she colored highly, she replied, in a firm tone, "At neither
his request nor mine, my lord."

"Ah! good!" cried the duke. "Then neither of you consented? The marriage
of course----"

"We did both consent," said Lucette, interposing. "Did he not tell you
the circumstances? Did he not give you the cardinal's message?"

"He told me a good deal, and he said something about the Eminence; but,
by my faith, I was so heated by the tale that I did not much attend to
the particulars. Let me hear your story, mademoiselle. What did the
cardinal say?"

"My lord, we had been stopped near Mauzé by some of the royal officers,
and sent on under guard toward Nantes----"

"Oh, I know all about that," interrupted the duke. "What have you been
doing since? I trust, not masquerading about Nantes dressed up as a
page; though, by my faith, ladies are now getting so fond of men's
clothes that they will soon leave us none to wear ourselves. Why, there
was my good cousin De Chevreuse, with her young daughter, rode across
the country, both in cavaliers' habits, and, finding no other _gîte_,
stayed all night with the good simple curé of the parish, who never
found out they were women till they were gone. Well, where have you
been, and what have you been doing, since that affair at Mauzé?"

"The Abbey de Moreilles was burned by lightning, my lord," replied
Lucette, whose cheek had not lost any part of its red from De Rohan's
language. "We escaped into the Marais, where I was taken ill of the
fever common there. As soon as I could travel, we went direct to Nantes,
intending to come round at once and seek for Monsieur de Soubise. In
consequence of his having sent a man with some of my husband's baggage
to that city, we were discovered and arrested."

"Your husband, little child?" exclaimed the duke. "But go on; go on.
What happened next?"

"I was separated from Edward, who had treated me with the kindness of a
brother," said Lucette.

"Ay, I dare say," again interrupted De Rohan;--"with something more than
the kindness of a brother."

"For shame, Monsieur le Duc!" said Madame de Lagny, sharply. "You said
very truly just now that we had come to a rude place and amongst rude
men. If the cardinal had known what sort of reception this poor lady
would meet with, I am sure he would have followed the course Monsieur de
Tronson hinted at and given her up to Madame de Chevreuse. There at
least she would have been treated with respect and kindness."

At the mere name of Madame de Chevreuse the duke's countenance changed.
Without knowing it, good old Madame de Lagny had touched a chord which
was sure to vibrate in the heart of any of the Rohan Rohans as soon as
one of the Rohan Montbazons was mentioned; and after a moment's pause
the prince answered, with a very much less excited air, "His Eminence
acted courteously and well in not giving up my fair young cousin to a
lady who has no right to her guardianship, who was her father's enemy,
whose conduct is not fit for the eyes of a young girl even to witness.
But tell me, mademoiselle, what was the message his Eminence sent to my
brother to account for his conduct in bestowing--in attempting to
bestow--your hand upon an unknown English lad, who may be of good family
or may not, but who is no match for any one of the name of Rohan?"

"He said, sir," answered Lucette, "that we were to tell you or the
Prince de Soubise, whichever we might find, that, under the peculiar
circumstances of the case,--by which, I presume, he meant our having
travelled so long together,--the cardinal prime minister had judged it
imperatively necessary we should be married, and had himself seen the
ceremony performed; that for two years Edward should leave me with you,
but that at the end of that time he should claim me and take me, and
that all his Eminence's power should be exerted to give me to him. He
added, in a lower tone, 'They will find me more difficult to frustrate
than Madame de Chevreuse.'"

"That is true, as I live!" said the duke. "But yet this is hard. Why,
girl, it will drive my brother Soubise quite mad,--if he be not mad
already, as I sometimes think he is."

"His madness will not serve him much against the cardinal," said Madame
de Lagny, dryly. "But, my lord, we must bring this discussion to an end,
for it is growing dark, and I and Monsieur de Langdale must be treading
our way back to Nantes. He is but, as it were, a prisoner upon parole;
and I promised my cousin De Tronson I would make no delay."

"Madame, in all the agitation and annoyance this affair has cost me,"
said Rohan, "I have somewhat, I am afraid, forgotten courtesy. I ordered
refreshments for you, indeed, as soon as I heard of your coming; but I
did not remember to ask you to partake of them. They will be here in a
moment."

"We can hardly stay," said the old lady. "But I beg, sir, you would let
Monsieur Edouard be called, both to accompany me and to take leave of
his wife."

The duke bit his lips; but after a moment's thought he answered, "Pray,
madame, take some refreshment. As to this lad, he may come and wish her
good-bye; but no private interview, if you please!"

The old marquise was a good deal offended at all that had passed, and it
was not without satisfaction she replied, "Oh, I dare say they have said
all to each other they want to say, Monsieur le Duc. They have had
private interviews enough since their marriage to make all their
arrangements. Is it not so, dear Lucette?"

But Lucette was weeping, and De Rohan, with a cloudy brow, quitted the
room.

In a few moments some refreshments were brought in and placed upon the
table, and the duke appeared, accompanied by Edward Langdale. The
youth's look was serious, and even angry, but that of De Rohan a good
deal more calm. "Sit down, monsieur, and take some food," said the
latter as they entered; but Edward answered at once, "I neither eat nor
drink in your house, sir. I did you and your family what service I
could, honestly and faithfully; and--because, under force I could not
resist, and to save myself and your fair cousin from a fate which you
would not have wished to fall upon her nor I wish to encounter for
myself, I yielded to a measure which God and she know I never proposed
when it was fully in our power--you treat me with indignity. You much
mistake English gentlemen, sir, if you suppose that such conduct can be
forgotten in a few short minutes."

"By the Lord!" said De Rohan, with a laugh, "it is well you did not
meet with Soubise; for you might have had his dagger in you for half
what you have said."

"Or mine in him, if he had insulted me further," answered Edward,
walking toward Lucette and taking her hand.

"A pretty bold gallant," said the duke, with a smile. "Madame de Lagny,
I pray you, do more honor to my poor house than your young friend."

Now, it must be confessed, the good old lady was hungry; and hunger is
an overruling passion. The duke helped her to food and wine, and then,
having done what second thoughts had shown him was only courteous to a
lady, he turned, under the influence of the same better thoughts, toward
Edward, who was still talking in a whisper to Lucette, while she, on her
part, could hardly answer a word for weeping.

"Young gentleman," said De Rohan, holding out his hand, "do not let us
part bad friends. Remember, first, that if there be any validity in this
marriage it is always better to keep well with a wife's relatives; and,
secondly, that one of my house, above all others, may well feel
mortified and enraged at an alliance which under no circumstances we
could have desired or sanctioned. Recollect our family motto,--'_Roi ne
puis; prince ne daigne: Rohan je suis_;' and pride is not so bad a thing
as you may think it now. If it be pride of a right kind, it keeps a man
from a world of meannesses. As to this young lady, I will take care of
her, and, now that my first fit of passion is past, will treat her
kindly. Be sure of that, Lucette; for I have even got a notion, by some
bad experience, that a portion of love is no evil in the cup of
matrimony. However, the question of this marriage must be a matter of
consultation between my brother Soubise and myself, and the lawyers too;
for I will not conceal from either of you that Soubise, who has more to
do with the business than I have, will break it if he can."

Edward took the proffered hand; but he only replied, "His Eminence the
cardinal said that he had made it so fast there was no power on earth or
in hell to break it. But that must be determined hereafter, my lord
duke. At the end of two years I will claim my wife. In the mean time,
where is Monsieur de Soubise?"

"Go not near him! go not near him!" said De Rohan. "By my honor, there
would be bloodshed soon! He is at Blavet, I fancy, now, on his way to
England; but I will write to him this night, and, if possible, you shall
have his answer at Nantes. You must not expect any thing very favorable
to your pretensions; but, whatever it is, it shall be sent."

"My lord, if I might ask one favor, I would do it," said Edward. "It is
this. From what you have yourself said, and from what others have told
me, I infer that Monsieur de Soubise is of no very placable nor
temperate disposition. He himself has had some share in producing both
what you look upon as a misfortune and what had nearly proved the
destruction of Lucette and myself, by sending--with very good
intentions, doubtless, but I think very unadvisedly--letters and other
matters to the very residence of the court, which betrayed our coming to
his Eminence the cardinal. Had that not been done, we should in all
probability have passed without question, and I should have been able to
restore this dear girl to her relations as Mademoiselle de Mirepoix. As
it is, my wife she is and must remain; but I would rather that she was
under your care than that of the prince, for she has this evening
suffered too much for an event, which she could not avoid without
dooming herself and me to destruction; and I would fain that the same or
perhaps more should not be inflicted upon her from another quarter.
Lucette will explain to you much that I have not time to tell, for I see
Madame de Lagny has risen, and it is growing so dark that I fear we must
depart."

"I can promise nothing," said the duke, "but that I will do my best."

Thus saying, he turned toward Madame de Lagny, who by this time had some
lights on the table before her, and addressed to her all those
ceremonious politenesses which no one knew better how to display, when
not moved by passion, than the Duc de Rohan.

In the mean time, Edward and Lucette remained at the darker side of the
room; but, had it been the broadest daylight, their natural feelings
would have suffered little restraint. The contrast of Edward's love and
tenderness with the cold harshness of her own relations made all her
affections cling closer round him than ever, and she hung upon his
breast and mingled kisses with his, while the tears covered her cheeks
and sobs interrupted her words. "Oh, Edward," she said, "I wish to
Heaven that I were indeed but the grandchild of good Clement Tournon, of
Rochelle, as you once thought me! We might be very happy then."

Mingled with his words of politeness to Madame de Lagny, the duke had
been giving some orders to his own attendants; and at length he said,
"Now, young gentleman, it is time to depart. Madame is ready."

One last, long embrace, and Edward advanced to the side of the duke. He
did not venture to look at Lucette again, but followed Rohan and Madame
de Lagny closely into the outer hall, thence through a small court and a
_place d'armes_, in each of which were a number of soldiers fully armed,
and then by a covered way to the water-gate, to which point the small
boat had by this time been brought round. There was still a faint light
upon the river; but a lantern had been placed lighted in the bow of the
boat, and in a few minutes the old lady and her young companion were
landed on the other side. One of the boatmen lighted them up to the
carriage, and Edward, after bestowing a piece of money upon the man,
took his seat beside Madame de Lagny, who gave orders to proceed toward
Nantes, stopping, however, at the first auberge where any thing like
tolerable accommodation could be found.

"Ah, poor Monsieur de Rohan!" she said, with perhaps not the most
compassionate feelings in the world. "He is much to be pitied; and,
indeed, he ought to feel, as he said, that some love in marriage is a
very good ingredient. He ought to know it by experience; for his own
good-for-nothing dame cares not, and never did care, for him; and it is
the common phrase in Paris that she has so large a heart she can find
room in it for everybody except her husband. Why, I know at least ten
lovers she has had besides the Duc de Candale, who is more her slave
than her lover, and who"----

Just at that moment, the horses having been put to, the coachman gave a
sharp crack of his the whip, the coach a tremendous jolt, and Madame de
Lagny brought her story to an end, somewhat to the relief of her young
companion.



CHAPTER XXII.


For the first time in life--and it was very early to begin--Edward
Langdale felt that loneliness of heart which parting for an indefinite
time from one we dearly love produces in all but the very light or the
very hard. He had never loved before; he had never even thought of love;
but now he loved truly and well. He might not indeed have loved even
now, for he and Lucette were both so young that the idea might not have
come into the mind of either; but their love had been a growth rather
than a passion; and, as the reader skilled in such mysteries must have
seen, it had been watered and trained and nourished by all those
accidents which raise affection from a small germ to a beautiful flower.
First, she had nursed him so tenderly that he could not but feel
grateful to her; then she had been cast upon his care in dangers and
difficulties of many kinds, so that deep interest in her had sprung up.
Then, again, she was so beautiful, in her first fresh youth, that he
could not but admire what he protected and cherished. Then she was so
innocent, so gentle, so ductile, and yet so good in every thought, that
he could not but esteem and reverence what he admired. Then had come his
turn of nursing, and the interest became warmer, more tender; and at
length, when the mere thought of stating, in order to account for their
companionship, that they sought to be married first entered the mind of
each, it let a world of light into their hearts, and the whole was
pointed, directed, confirmed, by the sudden ceremony which bound them
together. They had promised at the altar to love each other forever,
and they felt that they could keep their word.

But Edward, as he rolled along by the side of Madame de Lagny, could not
help asking himself painful questions: "I shall love her ever," he said
to himself; "but she is so young, so very young,--a mere child! Will her
love last through a long separation? will not her feelings change with
changing years? does she even love me now as I love her?"

Luckily he asked himself the last question, for it went some way to
answer the others to his satisfaction. There had been something in her
embrace, in her kiss, in her eyes, in her clinging tenderness, which
told him that she did love as he did; and he, feeling, or at least
believing, that he would love still, however long they might be
separated, learned to credit the sweet tale of Hope and believe that she
would love constantly too.

Nevertheless, he felt very sad; and yet he exerted himself eagerly and
successfully to make the journey pass as pleasantly as he could to poor
Madame de Lagny, who, though she had not undertaken her disagreeable
task out of any affection to either Edward or Lucette, but merely in
obedience to the wishes of Richelieu, had learned to love both her young
companions, and had taken their part sincerely in the discussion with
the Duc de Rohan. She was both a keen-sighted and a clear-minded old
lady; and she saw well the gloomy sadness of Edward Langdale, and
understood its cause; but she saw likewise that he was making every
effort to show her courteous attention; and no old women are ever
ungrateful for the attention of young men.

For three days the weary journey back to Nantes continued; and in that
time the good marquise contrived to store the young Englishman's mind
with many of her own peculiar apothegms, some good and some indifferent,
but all the fruit of much worldly experience grafted upon a keen and
sensible mind.

"Never despair, my son," she said. "Many a man is lighted on his way by
a candle; nobody by a stone. Of a misfortune you can remove, think as
much as you like; of a situation you cannot change, think as little as
possible. If you have a marsh to go through, gallop as fast as you can;
and, if you have a heavy hour, fill it with action. A wasp will not
sting you if you do not touch it; and we do not feel sorrow when we do
not think of it."

Such were a few of the old lady's maxims, and one of them struck Edward
Langdale's fancy very much. "If you have a marsh to go through," he
repeated to himself, "gallop as fast as you can; and, if you have a
heavy hour, fill it with action." He thought that the next two years
would indeed be a marsh to him, and he resolved to gallop through them
as fast as he could. But there was one sad reflection which he could not
banish, one point in his situation which gave him anxiety rather than
pain. He knew not how to hold any communication with his young bride. He
was well aware that every effort would be made to prevent it. Lucette
had been once sent to England to keep her out of the hands of the
Duchesse de Chevreuse: where might she not be sent now? Her two cousins
Soubise and Rohan were constantly roving from place to place, and there
was as little chance of any letter from him finding her as of any news
of where she was reaching him.

The old fable of Midas telling his misfortune to the reeds is founded
upon a deep knowledge of human nature. Man must have some one to share
the burden of heavy thoughts, and Edward told his to Madame de Lagny.
The old lady was better than the reeds, for she whispered consolation.
"I can help you but little, my son," she said; "but, if you could attach
yourself to the cardinal, he could help you a great deal. However, I
will do the best I can for you and the dear child your little wife. If
you want to write to her, send your letter to me at the court, wherever
it is, and the letter shall reach her sooner or later. I will find means
to let her know that she must send hers to me likewise, and they shall
reach you; if you will keep me always informed of where you are."

Edward not only pressed her hand, but kissed it; and not five minutes
after, when they were within ten miles of the city of Nantes, a man came
riding at full speed after the carriage, drew up his horse at the great
leathern excrescence called the portière, and asked, in a brusque tone,
if Monsieur Langdale was in the coach.

"Yes; I am he," answered Edward. "What want you with me?"

"A letter," replied the man. And, handing in a sealed packet, he turned
his horse's head and rode away.

It was still early in the day, and the youth, breaking open the letter,
read the contents. They ran thus:--

    "MY LORD AND BROTHER:--

    "On the wing for England, I have received your letter. Tell the
    insolent varlet that he shall never see her face again, the
    devil and the pope and the cardinal to boot, or my name is not

    "SOUBISE."

Edward's brow became fearfully contracted, and he muttered, "At the end
of the earth."

"Show it to me! show it to me!" exclaimed Madame de Lagny, who was not
without her share of woman's curiosity. "What is it makes you look so
angry, my son?"

Edward handed her the letter, and she read it with attention, but not
with the indignation he expected to see. On the contrary, she seemed
pleased and amused. "Let me keep this," she said. "Methinks that
Monsieur de Soubise may find the triple alliance of the devil, the pope,
and the cardinal to boot somewhat too much for him. The cardinal alone
might be enough, without two such powerful auxiliaries. But let me keep
it. It can be of no value to you."

"Oh, none!" answered Edward. "Keep it if you will, madame. But the
Prince de Soubise shall find that, if he have a strong will, I have a
strong will also; and, if he have some advantages, we have youth and
activity and resolution."

"And the Cardinal de Richelieu," said Madame de Lagny, emphatically: "he
is not the man to leave any work incomplete, nor to be bearded by any
one. However, we must be near Nantes by this time. Now let us consider
what your course is to be when we arrive."

The good marquise then proceeded to indoctrinate her young companion
with all the forms of a court, which, though not so rigid as they
afterward became,--for Louis XIV. was the father of etiquette,--were
sufficiently numerous and arbitrary to puzzle a young man like Edward.
He found that, although he had once by the force of circumstances won
easy access to the cardinal prime minister, he had now various
ceremonies to go through before he could hope for an audience. To call,
to put down his name and address in a book, to see principal and
secondary officers, and to give as it were an abstract of his business,
were all proceedings absolutely necessary, Madame de Lagny thought,
before he could see the cardinal; and Edward, with a faint smile, asked
her if she did not think it would be better for him to commit a little
treason as the shortest way to the minister's presence.

"Heaven forbid!" cried the old lady. "But in the mean time you must go
to an auberge near the chateau, where his Eminence can find you at any
moment." And she proceeded to recommend the house of an excellent man,
who had been cook to poor Monsieur de Lagny, and now, she assured
Edward, kept the very best auberge in Nantes.

At length the city was reached, and the coach drove straight to the
castle, where Madame de Lagny took a really affectionate leave of Edward
and retired to her own apartments. The young Englishman then proceeded
to inquire for Richelieu, found he was absent at a small distance from
the town, and, having written his name in a book, betook himself to the
inn which his travelling-companion had mentioned. In the court of the
castle he had seen no one but a guard or two and some servants at the
door of the hall. In the great place there was hardly a human being to
be seen,--no gay cavaliers on horseback or on foot, no heavy carrosse
with its crowd of laquais. At the other side of the square, indeed, near
the end of the little street which led toward the dwelling of Monsieur
de Tronson, was a group of workmen; and another larger group just
appeared beyond some buildings close by the river-side. But, altogether,
the whole town had a melancholy and deserted look. A sort of ominous
silence reigned around, too, which Edward felt to be very depressing to
the spirits, especially in a country celebrated even then for the light
hilarity of its population.

The inn, however, was fresh-looking and clean, and the landlord, who
soon appeared, although he was not at the entrance as usual when the
coach stopped, was the perfection of a French aubergist,--as polished as
a prince, and full of smiles. While Pierrot la Grange and Jacques
Beaupré stayed by the carriage, at their master's desire, to take out
the little sum of his baggage and to bestow a small gratuity upon the
coachman, the host led his guest up to a large, somewhat gloomy chamber
floored with polished tiles, recommended his fish--the best in the
world--and his poultry, which he asseverated strongly were the genuine
production of Maine, and took the young gentleman's pleasure as to his
dinner.

He had hardly gone when the two servants appeared, bringing various
articles; but their principal load was evidently in the mind. The face
of Pierrot, which temperate habits had not yet improved in fatness,
though it had become somewhat blanched in hue, was at least three inches
longer since they entered Nantes; and Jacques Beaupré, always solemn
even in the midst of his fun, was now not only solemn, but gloomy.

"I wish we were safe out of this place, sir," said Pierrot, shutting the
door after him. "It is a horrible place!"

"What is the matter?" asked Edward: "the whole town looks sad, and you
both seem to have caught the infection."

"Did not the landlord tell you, sir?" said Jacques Beaupré. "I thought
landlords always told all they knew, and a little more. But I suppose he
has lived long enough near a court to keep his tongue in his mouth, for
fear somebody should cut it out."

"The matter, sir, is this," said Pierrot: "the poor young Count de
Chalais, who was confined in the dungeons close under the room where
they put you, has been condemned to die this morning,--they say, for a
few light words."

"Indeed!" said Edward, with a somewhat sickening memory of the dangers
he himself had seen: "that is very sad. But probably the king will
pardon him."

"Oh, not he," answered Pierrot: "they say the poor countess, his mother,
has moved heaven and earth to save him, without the least effect. His
head is probably off by this time."

"No, no; that cannot be," rejoined Jacques: "did not the boy tell us
that the two executioners had both been spirited away?"

"Yes, but he said that a soldier--a prisoner--had been found to
undertake the job," answered Pierrot. "Oh, it is a bad business, Master
Ned! They say the queen herself has been brought before the council, and
the Duke of Anjou threatened with death, and half the court exiled, and
the cardinal in such a humor that----"

"That every one as he walks along is feeling his ears, to be sure that
there is any head upon his shoulders," added Jacques Beaupré. "Would it
not be better for you, sir, to go to that good Monsieur de Tronson, and
be civil to him, and make as many friends as possible?"

Edward paused in thought for a moment, and then replied, "That is well
bethought, Beaupré; for though I think I have nothing to fear, yet in
common courtesy I owe my second visit to one who has been so kind to me.
I will go directly. Let the landlord know that I may be a little later
than I mentioned at dinner."

Edward put on his hat and went out into the place, taking care to mark
particularly the position of the auberge, that he might not be forced to
inquire his way in a town where so many dangers lurked on every side.
The road to Monsieur de Tronson's house was easy; and, crossing the
square, the young gentleman directed his course toward the end of the
street where, when passing in the coach, he had seen a crowd of workmen,
who were still gathered round a spot about a hundred and fifty or two
hundred yards in advance. On approaching nearer, Edward caught sight of
a platform of wood raised some eight or ten steps from the ground. He
could only discern a part, for the people had gathered thickly round;
but, though he had never before seen the preparations for a public
execution, it flashed through his mind at once that this was the
scaffold on which the unhappy Chalais was to suffer. To avoid the
terrible scene, he turned toward the left; but, just as he was
approaching the end of the street, a shout came up from the water-side
and a dull rushing sound from the southeast. A large crowd poured into
the square from both sides; and before Edward could escape he was caught
by the two currents and forced along to within thirty yards of the
scaffold. He tried to free himself and force his way out, but a warning
voice sounded in his ear.

"Be quiet, young gentleman," said an elderly man close by, speaking in a
low tone. "This young count has to die, and, if he be your best friend,
take no notice. Suspicion is as good as proof here just now. Look where
he comes!"

Edward turned his eyes in the direction to which the old man was
looking, and beheld a sight which was but a mere prologue to the horrors
that were to follow, but which could never be banished from his memory.
Surrounded by a body of guards came a tall, handsome young man, without
his cloak, as if he had been torn from his dungeon unprepared, but still
showing, in such habiliments as he did wear, all the extravagant
splendor of the times. By his side, with her hand passed through his
arm, as if to support him, and pouring a torrent of words into his ear,
was an elderly lady in a widow's dress. Her face and carriage were noble
and dignified, though lines of past grief and present anguish were
strongly marked upon her countenance; but when she lifted her eyes
toward the scaffold, and beheld there a stout, bad-looking man leaning
on a large, heavy sword, a sort of spasm passed over her features.

"That is his mother," whispered the same voice which Edward had heard
before.

Behind the mother and the son came the confessor, a dull-faced, heavy
monk; and then a good number of guards, and one or two men in black
robes,--probably exempts, or other inferior officers of the court. But
the eyes of Edward Langdale were fixed upon the mother and her son; and
the thought of his own dear mother gave him the power--I might almost
call it the faculty--of sympathizing with the noble-minded woman, to a
degree that made the whole scene one of actual agony.

"I wish I could get out," he said, speaking to the old man, who was
jammed up against him: "this is horrible. Can you not make way?"

"Try to force your way through the castle-wall," replied the other,
cynically: "you have but to see a man die, young gentleman."

"Ay, but how?" said Edward.

"By the sword," said the old man: "it is an interesting sight,--much
better than by the cord. I have seen every execution that has taken
place in the city for twenty years. Perhaps I may see yours some day.
They are fine sights,--the only sights that interest me now; but this is
likely to be a bungled business, for the old countess there bribed both
the executioners to get out of the way, and this fellow does not
understand the trade. He is paler than the criminal. See how he shakes!"

Edward raised his eyes for an instant and saw the unhappy mother
supporting her luckless son up the very steps of the scaffold,--not that
he wanted aid, for his step was firm and his look bold and frowning.
There was a fearful sort of fascination in the sight; and the lad gazed
on till he saw the last embrace taken and the young count make a sign
and speak a word to the executioner. Then he withdrew his eyes, till, a
moment after, there was a shrill cry of anguish and a murmur amongst the
crowd; and he looked up again only to see the wretched young man, all
bleeding, leaning his wounded head upon his mother's bosom.

The executioner had missed his stroke. Again and again he missed it. He
complained of the sword: a heavier one was handed up to him; but still
his shaking arm refused to perform its hideous office, till, after more
than thirty blows,[4] the head of the unhappy young man was literally
hacked off, almost at his mother's feet.

The noble woman raised her hands and her eyes to heaven, exclaiming, "I
thank thee, O God, that my son has died a martyr and not a criminal!"

The last acts of the terrible drama Edward did not see. He felt as if
his heart would burst with the mingled feelings of indignation and
horror which all he had beheld awakened; and after the second or third
blow he kept his eyes resolutely bent down, till the pressure of the
crowd relaxed as the spectators of the bloody scene began to disperse.
Then, sick at heart, and with a strange feeling of hatred for the world,
he turned his steps back to the inn. He was in no mood for conversation
with any one.

[Footnote 4: Some say seven-and-twenty.]



CHAPTER XXIII.


It was eleven o'clock on the following day when Edward Langdale appeared
at the door of Monsieur de Tronson. The laquais said he did not know
whether his master was visible or not, but he would see; and, leaving
the young Englishman in an ante-chamber, he went in and remained some
five minutes. At his return he asked Edward to follow, and introduced
him into the bed-chamber of the secretary, who welcomed him, he thought,
rather coldly.

"I hear, Monsieur de Langdale," said De Tronson, "that you have
accurately fulfilled the injunctions of his Eminence and your word.
That, my good cousin, Madame de Lagny, has told me; but I think you
should have been here earlier."

"It was my intention, sir," replied Edward, seating himself in a chair
to which the secretary pointed, near that in which he himself sat,
wrapped in a large dressing-gown, by the fire, though it was the month
of July.

"After having left my name in the ante-chamber of his Eminence, I went
to my auberge for a few minutes, and then came out, with the intention
of paying my respects to you; but I was stopped by a great crowd of
people and forced to witness a dreadful scene, which rendered me
incapable of holding any rational conversation with any one."

"Ha! you were there!" exclaimed the secretary, suddenly roused from the
sort of listless mood in which he seemed plunged when Edward entered.
"What happened? Tell me all. But first shut that door, if you please. I
am ill, or I would not trouble you; but it is well to have no listening
ears in this place, whatever one has to say."

Edward closed the door, and, although unwillingly, detailed all that he
had witnessed of the execution of the unhappy Chalais.

De Tronson was moved far more than the young man expected. He put his
hand over his eyes, murmuring, "Poor lady! Unhappy young man!" and
Edward thought he saw some tears steal down his cheek. "I call God to
witness," he exclaimed, at length, "that I had no share in this affair!
Though my relations with Monsieur de Chalais were very slight, I would
have saved him if I could,--saved him from himself, I mean."

He sank into silence; and, to change the conversation, Edward said, "I
would have been here earlier this morning, but I thought you would
probably be at the council."

"There will be no council to-day," replied the secretary, shaking his
head: "we are all made sick by this affair. It has been like one of
those epidemic blasts that sweep over the marshes, filling every one
they touch with fever. I did not know you had waited on his Eminence:
that was what I alluded to,--not a mere formal visit to me. That was all
well; but you had better let him know that you are here. I know not that
he will see you; but you must show every token of respect--especially
just now."

"Shall I go to his apartments, then?" asked Edward.

"No, no," said De Tronson, with somewhat of the petulance of illness:
"call a servant."

The servant was soon called, and De Tronson bade him go to the apartment
of his Eminence. "Seek out one of his secretaries," he said, "and, if
you cannot find one, ask for his chaplain. Request him to present my
duty to the cardinal and tell him that Monsieur de Langdale, the young
English gentleman he knows of, is with me, waiting his Eminence's
pleasure. Say I would have come myself, but I am ill of fever."

The man retired and was absent only a few minutes ere he returned with
the simple words, "His Eminence cannot be interrupted to-day." Edward
heard the reply with regret; for time was passing away, his journey was
just beginning when those who sent him imagined it was ended, and his
funds were diminishing every hour. But, even while taking leave of
Monsieur de Tronson and expressing a sincere hope that he would soon be
better, a servant in purple livery entered, and, bowing to Monsieur de
Tronson, announced that his Eminence would see Monsieur de Langdale.

"Go, go! quickly!" said De Tronson, in a low voice; "but be careful."
And Edward followed the attendant from the room.

"Now for my fate," thought the young man, as he crossed the little
bridge over the moat. "Such scenes as that of yesterday harden rather
than soften. Methinks I could meet death more easily now than I could
have done four-and-twenty hours ago. Yet why should I think the cardinal
wishes me ill? He has been kind to me, however cruel he may be to
others. But why should I call him cruel? I know nothing of that young
count's guilt or innocence; and the horrid accessories of his fate were
certainly none of the minister's devising."

Thus thinking, he followed through the long passages of the castle till
he came to a door where stood one of the cardinal's guard, and there the
servant paused and knocked. A page opened it, and to his guidance Edward
was consigned. He was then led through an ante-room, and then through
the room where he had seen Richelieu before, to another smaller chamber,
where he once more found himself in the presence of the man whose life
and power were so often in the balance, but whose will in reality, from
that time forward, was fate in France.

Richelieu, though habited in clerical garb, was in what may be called
half-dress, and the _robe de chambre_ which he wore above his cassock
was of bright colors and a mere mundane form. His pointed beard, or
royal, as it was then called, with the dark mustache and the rich lace
collar, which might have suited any gay cavalier of the court, also had
a very lay appearance; and at once it flashed across the mind of the
young Englishman that he had seen him somewhere in another costume.
Where, for an instant he could not recollect; but he had not half
traversed the room before the magic power of association brought back a
night not more than a week before, when, walking in one of the corridors
of that very chateau, he had met a man descending to the dungeons in
which the unhappy Chalais was confined; and that man was before him. He
shuddered when his mind instinctively combined the visit of that night
with the scene of the day before; but in the look and manner of the
cardinal at that moment there was nothing to inspire awe or indicate any
cruelty or even harshness of character. His face was grave,--very grave;
but with a mild gravity much like that of the famous bust which is,
perhaps, the only good likeness of that extraordinary man. In his hand
was a book,--the famous Imitation of Christ; but he had let it drop upon
his knee when the door opened; and one who did not know him would have
said, to see him, "There is some calm student of theology a little
disturbed by being interrupted."

"Come in, young gentleman, and take a seat," said Richelieu, as the page
closed the door. "You have kept your word well with me, I find."

"I always try to do so, my lord cardinal," replied Edward, seating
himself near the minister.

"Lord cardinal!" said Richelieu, with a faint smile: "that is English,
and somewhat Roman too. But what matters it? You heretics from the other
side of the sea sometimes give us a lesson about dignities. Eminence!
Any man can reach that title of right in other paths besides the Church,
if he be wise, and brave, and firm,--ay, firm: he must be firm! Many a
man who might be great, by some small weakness in his own nature yielded
to, even once too often, mars all the results of higher qualities. Well,
you have returned, as you promised; but you have come at a time when we
are all sad,--very sad. I thought I would not see any one this morning,
but take counsel with the only happy ones,--the dead. However, on second
thoughts, I resolved to admit you, as you had performed your part of our
bargain well, and your last conversation pleased me."

He spoke in a sort of meditative tone, and, when he stopped, Edward had
nothing to reply but, "Your Eminence is gracious."

"Not so," answered Richelieu: "I am not gracious. I was not formed so by
nature. I can be kind, I think, to those who love me,--affectionate,
merciful; but graciousness implies some tenderness, and I am not tender.
Nay, not even tender to myself; for I declare to Heaven that, did I find
in my own heart the weakness that would yield right and justice to
prayers and tears and entreaties, I would pluck out that heart and
trample it under foot!"

His tone was somewhat vehement, and his eye sparkled; but after a moment
or two all was calm again; and he asked, even with a smile, "What think
you, young gentleman, men will say of me hereafter?"

"I have neither wisdom, your Eminence, nor experience sufficient to
divine," answered Edward; "neither can any one say till a period, I
trust, far, far distant."

"You mean when I am dead," said Richelieu. "Who can say how soon that
may be? How long can a poor human frame bear the labors, the anxieties,
the cares that I undergo,--the struggle against factions, the struggle
against oneself, the crushing out of sympathies, the resistance of all
kindly feelings, the endurance of ingratitude, falsehood, treachery, the
malice and the envy of the many, the undeserved hatred of not a few?
Happy the monk in his cloister! happy the ecclesiastic in his chair!
Miserable, miserable is the man whom either personal ambition, or idle
vanity, or the desire of serving his country, leads to the thorny paths
of state or places on the tottering pinnacle of power!"

"Thank Heaven!" said Edward, interested deeply, "there can be no chance
of my ever having to verify the truth of what your Eminence says."

"Who can tell?" rejoined Richelieu. "I have seen many rise to high place
with less opportunity than you. I myself,--did I ever think at your age
of being seated where I am now? You have talents, daring, firmness.
Ambition grows like a worm upon a leaf, destroying what supports it. The
moth may have laid its egg in your heart even now; and in ten years
hence you may be what you dream not. But let us talk of other things. I
am sorry you have come here just now, young gentleman."

"May I presume to ask why, my lord?" said Edward.

Richelieu paused thoughtfully for a moment, and then raised his keen
dark eyes to the young man's face. "To answer you fully I must say what
ought to flatter you and what cannot do so. You have pleased me; you
have high qualities which I esteem; I think you will be faithful to any
one to whom you attach yourself; and you have talents and courage to
serve him well. But your mind is not clear enough, your experience is
too little, your prejudices too great, for you to judge sanely of acts
which have lately been done here. In bidding you return after your late
journey and see me before you went farther, I wished to gain you to my
service,--not by bribes, not by promises, but by winning your esteem and
showing you friendship; and I can be a good friend. What is it that
passes over your brow? I thought so: you judge I can be a deadly enemy
also. Sir, I tell you, on my life and on my faith, I know no enemies but
those of France. I have endured much, but I have never struck a blow but
for the best interests of my king and my country. Even that young man
who perished yesterday, had he not warning sufficient? Had I not passed
over follies without number? Had I not forgiven designs against my own
power and life? They were nothing so long as the safety of France was
not involved. But when his pertinacious treason went into schemes to
bring foreign troops into the land, to overthrow a mighty policy, to
thwart his sovereign's will, to shake his throne, ay, and, perchance to
touch his life, what were mercy but folly? what were clemency but
treason?"

"I presume not, your Eminence," said Edward, bewildered by a
conversation so strange and unexpected, "to judge even in my own heart
of your conduct in circumstances of which I know nothing. I will own
that a great part of the scene I was yesterday forced to witness struck
me with horror; but even now, as I passed the bridge, I said to myself,
'I know nothing of that young man's guilt or innocence; and the dreadful
accessories of his death were certainly not of the cardinal's
devising.'"

"You did me that justice, did you?" said Richelieu, with a well-pleased
look: "let me tell you, sir, there is many a man in France who will deny
it to me. Ay, it was horrible, they tell me. But I had naught to do with
that. Did I steal away the executioner of the court or of the city? Did
I have any share in any of the details left to the common justice of the
land? Inexorable I was bound to be, even to a mother's prayers and
tears, though they wrung my heart. This court--this turbulent and
factious court--needed an example; a traitor deserved a traitor's death.
Both have been given; for there was not one mitigating circumstance, not
one palliation or excuse. Death was his doom; but God knows, could I
have spared one additional pang to his poor mother or to himself, I
would have done it."

"Indeed, I believe you, my lord cardinal," replied Edward, moved by the
apparent sincerity of the minister and the warmth and fire with which he
spoke.

"And yet," said Richelieu, more calmly, "were it to be done over again,
I would do it: nay, I will do it; for, though the medicine be strong,
the malady of this land of France cannot be cured by a single dose. I
will advise my king, as I have advised him, to show no mercy to
persisting traitors. Let the blame fall on me: I care not. But save
France!"

When men high in power have been forced into severe and terrible
measures by motives which seem to them perfectly sufficient at the time,
they sometimes feel a doubt when the execution of their purpose is over,
and, though they may scorn to make a defence before the world, they will
seek out some individual, however insignificant, who will listen while
they plead their own cause,--apparently to him, but in reality to
themselves. They will go over again all the reasoning, state all the
motives afresh, which at first carried them forward, in order to prove
to conscience that there was in the deed none of the selfishness which
each human sinner of us all knows too well is in his own heart. Such,
doubtless, was the case with Richelieu at the moment when the visit of
Edward Langdale gave him the opportunity of justifying the death of
Chalais to a foreign and impartial ear.

There might be a little deceit in this,--self-deceit; but in his
eagerness, in the strong current of his language, and in the earnest
vehemence of his manner, there was much that struck, ay, and captivated,
his young companion. Let any one suppose himself in the presence of
Cromwell or Cæsar,--and Richelieu was little less, if at all,--hearing
him defend his most doubtful actions, and motive his most ruthless
course, and they can conceive the sensations of Edward Langdale. Edward
compared the cardinal to neither; but he knew that he was in the
presence of the greatest and most powerful man who had yet appeared in
that age,--a man famous for stern discretion and unfaltering firmness of
purpose,--and that some strong and terrible emotions within him had led
him to pour forth in his presence views, principles, purposes, but dimly
discerned by any one at that time. It was a somewhat awful confidence
Richelieu placed in him; and when the minister paused the youth knew not
what to reply, but repeated, mechanically, not knowing why, the words,
"Ay, save France!"

Richelieu gazed at him for a moment with his bright eyes, full of
thought. It is known how, like most great men, he was somewhat
superstitious, and, forgetting probably that he had himself used the
words a moment before, he answered, "Young man, that is my oracle. Save
France! I will, if it be in me, though a thousand heads should fall, and
my own the last,--though it should cost a river of blood and a river of
tears. I will save France. I will put her upon the pinnacle of
countries, where she ought to stand; and after my day men shall say of
her, 'This is the great leader of the nations, in arts, in science, and
in arms.'"

He stopped and gazed into vacancy, as if he already saw the beautiful
future of which he spoke, and then, as if feeling that the vehemence of
his feelings had carried him beyond his usual reserve, he composed his
countenance; the fire of the eye went out; the features, which had been
much moved, became calm and still; and the phantasmagoric light which
had covered his face with great images passed away, leaving almost a
blank behind.

"Let us talk of what we were speaking about a few minutes since," he
said, not losing the expression of sympathy and admiration which had
come upon young Langdale's face. "I was referring to the possibility of
your attaching yourself to me, and meriting and meeting higher honors
and distinction than there seems any likelihood of your obtaining in
your own country. I offer you no unworthy incentive, for, if I
understand you, you are incapable of being moved by such; but I offer
you my friendship. Have I not given you the best proof of it?--not by
bestowing on you the hand of a noble French heiress,--that is
nothing,--but by speaking to you as Richelieu rarely speaks to any
one,--by showing you the things that lie within this bosom?"

Keen and acute as the young Englishman had become, he saw that he was
perhaps in more danger now than he had ever been before; that he was
standing on the edge of a precipice, and that the very confidence which
the cardinal had accidentally placed in him was only the tottering stone
which might fall and hurl him over the brink. Habitual boldness came to
his aid, however. "Let me recall to your Eminence," he said, "that
England and France are at war." A slightly scornful smile, at what he
thought a subterfuge, curled Richelieu's lip. "I assure you, sir,"
continued Edward, earnestly, "that, were such not the case, I would
grasp eagerly at an offer which can be rarely made to any one. I fear
not danger, though I know your service might be dangerous, (pardon my
plain speaking.) But on that score I should have no apprehension; for I
am convinced that if that service proved fatal to me it would be by my
own fault. But what your Eminence wants is one who will be faithful and
true to you. What would you think of me if, at the first prospect of
somewhat higher fortunes, I were not only to abandon my country, but to
leave those who have treated me most kindly, educated, trusted me? Would
not all the good opinions you have entertained of me vanish? Would you
not view me as base, treacherous, worthless? Could you ever confide in
me, esteem me more? Should I thenceforward be the man you want?"

"There is some truth in what you say," said the minister, slowly. "Yet,
after what has passed, there may be something to consider. Are you
aware, young gentleman, that I know more of you than I have seemed to
know?--that I know all?"

"Yes," answered Edward, at once: "I have seen that some time. I know
that if you were to hang me on that tree the world would hold you
justified. But I do not think you will do it."

"Pshaw!" said Richelieu, "I care not for the world. But what makes you
think I will not do it?"

"Because your Eminence has shown me the principles on which you act,"
said Edward; "and such a deed would not be within those principles. If
you hanged me now, it would be because I refused to serve a country at
war with my own,--not because I came into France under a false name and
with the safe-conduct of another."

"Good," said the cardinal, "and true! But you forget another reason,--or
from the idle babble of the day you may have learned to believe it not a
good one: you do not mention that I promised to let you go on to your
journey's end."

"I had forgotten it," said the lad; "but there might be many an excuse,
or I may say reason, for passing over that promise. You may have learned
more since you made it."

"Young man, do you wish to be hanged?" asked the cardinal, with a smile.

"Far from it, monseigneur," said Edward, gravely; "but I wish to act
honestly and bravely. I told your Eminence that my only motive for not
grasping eagerly at your generous proposal was, that France and England
are at war, that if I now took service here you yourself could never
trust me, and that I should feel myself unworthy of the trust of any
one."

"That objection may be sooner removed than you imagine," said Richelieu.
"Your gilded butterfly--your Buckingham--cannot flaunt it in the
sunshine forever. Already he has plunged his monarch into difficulties
which may, and will, produce sad consequences hereafter. An unnatural
war of a brother-in-law against his wife's brother, for no reasonable
cause, cannot long please the people of England. The Parliament--that
handcuff of kings--is already screwing the bolt tighter; and we may
leave it safely to compel a peace before your journey to the east is
over. I will exact one promise from you, which keep as I keep mine. It
is the only condition I put to your safety. Go on your way. Serve your
lord faithfully: I will take no umbrage at that: then return to France
as soon as you hear that peace is concluded between our two
countries;--nay, I know you will return, for there is a lure you will
not miss to follow, my young hawk; but come to visit me, and have your
best hopes confirmed by serving one who can reward as well as punish. Do
you promise me this?"

"I do, most readily," replied Edward, "and most gratefully thank your
Eminence for kindness I have perhaps not deserved."

"You have deserved better by refusing me just now," said Richelieu,
"than you would have done by yielding. I could _not_ have trusted you.
Go to, now. Men say that everybody must obey me, or I am a fiend. You
have judged better of the Cardinal de Richelieu."

"You gave me the means of judging, my lord," said Edward; "if all men
had the same, perhaps----"

"They would misconstrue me," said the minister. "But one thing remember:
If, in an open and unguarded moment, I have been led to show you
thoughts and feelings I do not usually suffer to appear, as you are a
man of honor, you will keep them to yourself. Breathe not one word to
any one of aught that has passed here. Say not to Lord Montagu, or any
one, Richelieu says this, or, Richelieu said that. By this I will test
your discretion."

"I will not forget," said Edward; "but, if I hear any one assail your
Eminence's motives, I may be permitted, surely, to defend them by the
means you yourself have afforded me."

"Let my motives take care of themselves, young man," said the minister,
sternly. "You may say that the cardinal treated you well,--kindly,
liberally,--and, although he had every right to stop you, sent you on to
Lord Montagu, though he knew your errand and his. Compliment his
lordship for me. And now farewell. I will to work. My spirit was
somewhat crushed with care, anxiety, and thought; but I am better for
this conversation."

Edward rose to retire, but the cardinal made him a sign to stay, saying,
"I forgot to ask what reception you met from the fiery Soubise."

"I did not see the prince, my lord," replied Edward: "he had gone to the
sea-coast. But we found the Duc de Rohan at Deux Rivières, and he was
fiery enough. He calmed his passion before I left, however, and promised
to convey what I had said to his brother, which he did, as I know by a
letter sent after me by that nobleman himself."

"Ha! De Rohan is a good man, and might be a great one," said Richelieu:
"he will be a loyal subject before two years have passed. As for
Soubise, he is weak and full of passions. What said his letter?"

"It is in the hands of Madame de Lagny, my lord," replied Edward; "but I
think I can repeat it word for word;" and he did so without omitting a
syllable.

Richelieu listened attentively; and at the words, "Tell the insolent
varlet that he shall never see her face again, the devil, the pope, and
the cardinal to boot," he laughed low, remarking, "We will dispense with
the devil, and need not trouble the pope: but the cardinal says you
_shall_ see her face again; and she shall be your wife in the face of
the whole world, or my name is not Richelieu. One of the two brothers
shall sign the contract, or both shall rot in exile. Now, fare you well,
my young friend. The time is not far distant when not even a Huguenot
prince shall dare to name me, or the pope either, in such company. Have
you money sufficient?"

"Enough till I can get more, I thank your Eminence," replied Edward.

He would have made the same answer if he had possessed much less; for he
would not have had any man say that he had received a livre from the
cardinal, had it been to save him from starving. He was turning to
depart; but the memory of all that great but terrible man had done for
him within the last few days came flashing across his mind, and he
paused, saying, with true emotion, "I will make no professions, my lord
cardinal, but this: Your great and extraordinary kindness shall never
be forgotten as long as Edward Langdale lives." Richelieu waved his
hand, but with a well-pleased look, and the youth retired.

"I have heard of such long memories before," said the minister to
himself. "Well, we shall see."



CHAPTER XXIV.


What say you to a quick ride and a short chapter, reader? We have stood
wasting our time too long with cardinals and secretaries and courtiers.
Let us set out on our journey toward Paris, with three strong horses,
each under the saddle, two stout men, and a young lad, who, ride as hard
as they will, still keeps ahead of them. They are not troubled with much
baggage; but they have good long pistols at their saddle-bows, swords by
their sides, and eke daggers in their belts.

The apparel of the two men had nothing remarkable in it. Each had the
common slashed and laced pourpoint with the short cloak of the times,
and their lower limbs were clad in that very peculiar and ugly garment,
between trousers and breeches, which distinguished the epoch of Louis
XIII. The boots, like a pair of gigantic funnels, however, covered not
only the foot and ankle, but the whole of the lower part of the leg, and
hid in a degree the monstrous _chausses_. The young man was dressed with
somewhat greater taste and richness; and there was something in his air
and his wondrous horsemanship which would have distinguished him at once
from his two followers without the accessories of dress. In vain his
horse--which he had bought in Nantes for a mere trifle, on account of
its vicious propensities--darted to the right or left at every
suspicious object, reared, plunged, and kicked; not all its efforts
could shake him in the saddle for a moment: in vain the brute galloped
at full speed when he was only required to trot; the youth only whipped
and spurred him the more, till at length the fierce beast, finding that
he had indeed got his master on his back, yielded with a good grace; and
by the time the party reached Ancenis he was as quiet as a lamb.

But, though Ancenis is a pretty little town, and the fare is good and
the wine by no means bad, Edward Langdale was not inclined to lose time
by the way. One hour for refreshment was all that was allowed for man or
horse, and then on again they went toward Angers. It is true that Angers
is somewhat more than fifty miles from Nantes, that the road in those
days was not remarkable for its excellence, and that a broiling July sun
had shone upon the travellers from break of day till night; but Edward
saw with his own eyes that the horses were well cared for; and all was
prepared for departure early the next morning. Here, however, for the
first and only time during the journey, the safe-conduct was demanded by
an officer of the governor. All was in order, however; no suspicion was
entertained, and on the little party went, to Suette, Duretal, La
Fleche. The sweet little valley of the Loire passed with all its beauties
unseen; and, after two hours' repose at La Fleche, Fouletourte,
Guecelard, and Le Mans were reached. Nearly one-half of the journey
between Nantes and the first place to which Edward had been directed was
now accomplished; but the horses--especially the two ridden by Pierrot
and Jacques--showed evident signs of fatigue, and it was found necessary
to have their shoes removed and give them somewhat more time for repose.

Edward could not reach Chartres upon the third night, as he had hoped;
but reflecting, with some apprehension, that if one of the horses were
to fall sick he had not funds sufficient to purchase another, he
proceeded more quietly to Nogent le Rotrou, where he paused for the
night before the sun had gone down.

Now, the dear but hasty reader has come to a conclusion that I have been
engaged in writing an itinerancy, rather than a romance or a true
history. But in this he is mistaken; for it was necessary to mention two
little incidents which befell Lord Montagu's page on his way toward
Paris; and one of these occurred at Nogent le Rotrou. It was therefore
requisite to show that Edward got there; for an incident cannot happen
to a man at a place where he is not. It was necessary, also, to explain
how he arrived at that place later by some eight hours than he at first
expected; for, if he had been able to continue the same galloping pace
with which he set out from Nantes, the incident would not have happened
at all.

At Nogent, the young Englishman--as is the case with most
Englishmen--had looked to the accommodation of the horses in the first
instance, and, having seen that they had a good dry stable, that the
saddles were taken off and that they were well rubbed down, he directed
them to be walked up and down before the house for a few minutes; when,
to his consternation, he perceived that one of them was going somewhat
lame. It was the horse ridden by long Pierrot la Grange, and one of the
best of the three; and a consultation in regard to the poor animal was
held immediately. One proposed one thing, another another; but, none
being particularly skilful in the veterinary art, and as Edward did not
choose to trust to a common blacksmith, it was determined to rest upon
cold water applied to the lame foot and fetlock, and the horse was led
back to the stable.

The inn was a neat little auberge, and the landlord a fat, well-doing,
clean-looking sinner as ever shortened a flagon or lengthened a bill. He
promised worlds in the way of edible refreshment, trout and crayfish
from the Huisne, pigeons from his own dove-cot, and capons equal to
those of Maine; and, while all these delicacies were in preparation,
Edward took post before the door, standing beside the tall pole with a
garland upon it, which in those days appeared at the entrance of many a
little cabaret in France.

As he thus stood, in not a very happy mood, two new travellers on
horseback trotted up. Their dress was coarse, and evidently not the
costume of any part of France that the young gentleman was acquainted
with; but that which attracted his attention more particularly was the
lameness of one of their horses, who limped much after the fashion of
Pierrot's beast, but a great deal worse. The riders dismounted, and one
of them, passing him, gave him "_Bong jou_," in a strange sort of
_patois_. Edward advanced to the side of the other, who was holding the
beasts, saying, "That horse seems very lame, my good friend."

"Oh, it is nothing," answered the man, in the same sort of jargon as
that of his companion. "He'll be well before morning: we are _maréchaux
de chevaux_, and will soon set him right. You see us go away to-morrow:
he not lame then."

Shortly after the horses were led into the stable, and the young
gentleman's dinner was announced; but, before partaking of any of the
good things, he followed the two strangers, and found that they were
provided with all the tools of the blacksmith and all the oils and
essences of the veterinary surgeon of that day. "Let him cool, and then
we see," said the master, speaking to his companion; and the whole party
adjourned to the _salle-à-manger_. Five more hungry men never sat down
to dinner, if they might be judged by their consumption of food; but all
the other guests, and the landlord more particularly, remarked that the
two last-arrived strangers ate none of the admirable crayfish. Now, when
at a house of public entertainment you eat none of the especial dish of
the place, it is not only an affront to your host, but an insult to his
country. The landlord shook his head and declared the men must be some
outlandish cannibals, for they neither spoke French nor ate crayfish. In
this conclusion nobody gainsaid him,--not even the two men themselves,
who did not seem to understand, but finished their dinner and went to
attend to the lame horse.

Now, it may seem very strange in the author to entertain a reader with a
lame horse, with which, though fully as good as a dead ass, that reader
seems to have nothing on earth to do. But I declare it is neither for
the purpose of filling up a vacant chapter, nor in any spirit of
perversity,--such as frequently seizes every writer,--nor from a desire
to delay till I have made up my mind how to proceed, nor from any
caprice, that I pause upon that lame horse. On the contrary, it is a
piece of genuine, serious history,--in fact, the only pure and dignified
piece of history in this whole book,--mentioned by authors of high
repute, and confirmed by a long train of consequences, which involved at
least the three next years of Edward Langdale's life in their network;
and so the fate of that lame horse cannot be omitted. With one of those
sympathetic movements of the mind which we can neither direct nor
restrain, and which lead us on the course of destiny whether we will or
not, the youth felt a personal interest in that lame horse,--was not
one of his own horses lame?--and he went to the stable to see the
treatment the animal was to undergo. Need I pause to tell how one of the
uncouth travellers took off the shoe, examined the foot, poured some
fluid which he called oil of vipers into the hole left by one of the
nails, wrapped an old rag round the hoof, and did sundry other
beneficent acts to the affected part? No: suffice it to say that he
seemed to treat it so skilfully, and with so much of that decision which
continually passes for skill and nine times out of ten has as good a
result, that Edward determined he should try his hand on Pierrot's horse
also.

The immediate result was relief to both the beasts, and when their
several riders mounted next morning no sign of lameness was visible.

The score was paid, and Edward with his party rode away first; but they
had not gone half a mile before they were overtaken by the two
blacksmiths, who seemed to desire company on the way, which they
accounted for by telling the companions of the young cavalier that they
were wandering Savoyards, who, having some skill in horse-medicine, had
come to France, made a little money, and were returning to their own
country to live upon the fruits of their toil.

Now, Savoy is a fine country, and the people are a very good people,
very much like other people who live amongst rocks and stones,--not
quite so wise as serpents nor so innocent as doves. "Poor, patient,
quiet, honest people," says Sterne, "fear not. Your poverty, the
treasury of your simple virtues, will not be envied you by the world,
nor will your valleys be invaded by it." Now, why I quoted this author
in regard to Savoy was simply because the most interesting account of
any country is always given by a man who knows nothing about it. He has
such a wide field to expatiate in! There are exceedingly good people in
Savoy, and exceedingly good people come out of it; but there is a
tolerably large minority as cunning and as selfish as I ever met with.
Now, Edward Langdale had few prejudices upon the matter. He had never
seen a Savoyard before, or one who pretended to be so; but he had heard
a good deal of their "simple virtues," and, therefore, if the balance
leaned either way it was in their favor. But somehow the faces of his
two new companions did not please him, and he said not a word of the
probability that he would himself be obliged in the end to direct his
steps toward their mountain-land. Indeed, with a remarkable degree of
discretion in one so young, he had kept his own two immediate followers
in ignorance of that and many other facts, and they went like lambs to
the slaughter with their heads hanging down, and thinking the journey
somewhat long, but without the slightest idea where it was to end. When
they had reached Chartres, however, he had to make many inquiries as to
his further course; and, though he conferred with the landlord of the
Ecu Royal himself, Pierrot la Grange stood provokingly near, and it is
probable--for his ears were long and sharp--he heard every word that was
said, and drew his own conclusions.

The two Savoyards, or whatever they might be, had adhered to Edward and
his two companions with the tenacity of a bramble-shoot, and Edward had
no objection to their accompanying him a stage or two farther; but, as
he was now coming to one of the dangerous passes of his expedition, he
determined to cut them loose at the end of the first thirty miles. Those
thirty miles, however, were destined to be performed slowly and with
difficulty.

The morning, when they quitted Chartres, was bright and beautiful; a
pale pink tint was in the sky, varied by brown clouds with golden edges;
but ere they had half crossed the rich plain which lies between Chartres
and Maintenon the rain began to fall, and a deluge poured down from the
sky, rendering the roads wellnigh impassable. Still Edward rode on,
passed Maintenon without stopping, and first drew bridle at Rambouillet.
It was then beginning to grow dark, for the progress made had been very
slow, and every man in the party was drenched to the skin. To go farther
immediately was out of the question and not exactly suited to Edward's
plans. Indeed, what between fatigue and a sudden change in the weather,
the face of Pierrot la Grange had become very blue, his limbs shivered,
and his teeth chattered. Dinner--or rather, as they called it,
supper--was soon served, and the young gentleman so far relaxed his
stern rule as to order some bottles of good wine for his drenched
companions, bidding Pierrot himself partake. The long man looked
somewhat doubtfully at his master, but the temptation was too strong,
and the fatal cup approached his lips. Edward soon left the party and
went out to make some inquiries. No one attempted to follow him, for the
room was warm and comfortable, and mirth and conviviality reigned.

Pierrot's first cup was the Rubicon. It was but wine, it is true; but he
had drunk nothing but water for wellnigh two months, and the first
draught made him feel so comfortable that the second, and the third, and
the fourth, and the fifth were added in rapid succession. His tongue,
which had been marvellously still for many weeks, was unloosed, and the
unruly member did its part in setting free every thing that was a
secret, or which he thought was one. In five minutes he was in full
career, and by the time that Edward returned--he had not been absent
half an hour--the two Savoyards were made aware that the young gentleman
had probably gone to inquire his way minutely to Dampierre, the place of
retreat of the Duchesse de Chevreuse. "For," said Pierrot, "he was
asking about it at Chartres; and the people there could not give him
half the information he seemed to want."

On their part, too, the Savoyards were wonderfully free and
confidential; and the only one who retained his full discretion was
Jacques Beaupré, who was remarkably taciturn, and kicked Pierrot's shins
under the table,--a hint which he did not choose to take.

The entrance of Edward Langdale instantly silenced Master Pierrot,
however, for he was not in the least drunk. In the ladder of inebriety
there are many rounds, and he had only reached the first, which with him
was always talkativeness. But Edward looked grave, for he had heard much
speaking, with Pierrot's voice predominant; and, when the host entered
to inquire whether the guests would take some more wine, the young
gentleman's "No" was uttered in a tone that went home to his follower's
consciousness.

"What a fool I am!" thought Pierrot. "If it had been brandy, now,
instead of wine, I should have been drunk again to a certainty."

The following morning at an early hour the whole party were once more in
the saddle, and the two Savoyards were ready as soon as the rest,
seeming to think that they had fixed themselves upon the young
gentleman's party. Edward examined the priming of his pistols before he
set out, and ordered his followers to do so likewise; but, as the day
before had been rainy, the precaution excited no remark, and the day's
journey was begun.

Four or five miles only had passed, however, when, at a spot where a
road branched off through the forest to the left, the young Englishman
suddenly drew in his rein and turned to the Savoyards, saying, "Here, my
good friends, we have to part. That is your road, and this is mine."

The two men seemed much surprised, and even ventured to remonstrate,
commending highly the safety and sociability of travelling in company,
and magnifying the great advantage it would be to him to have two such
skilful smiths and horse-doctors in his train. They offered even to wait
for him, if he had business on the road, and to attend to his horses
without pay.

But Edward Langdale was peremptory. "You said you were going to Savoy,"
he remarked. "The only way to get there is to follow the road before
you. Moreover, it will be safer for you to go in other company than
mine; for I am subject to fits of choler, and apt to shoot people if
they offend me, as that good gentleman, Monsieur Pierrot la Grange, can
inform you."

"Ay, that he is!" exclaimed Pierrot. "I have got the bullet in my leg
now."

The two men looked at each other in astonishment, and made some
exclamation in a language which Edward did not understand, but which did
not sound like any species of Italian.

"Ah!" said Jacques Beaupré, solemnly, "it is a sad infirmity he has. I
always ride on the right side of him, for he does not aim so well on
that side as on the left."

The two men smiled; but a slight movement of Edward's hand toward his
pistols soon restored their gravity, and he added, "Take my advice. Go
on your way, and let me see you go, for I do not choose to be followed."

A shrug of the shoulders and a shake of the rein was their only answer,
and they rode away along the highroad before them.

Edward watched them for some distance, and then turned into the smaller
path on the left. "I do not like those men," he said, speaking to his
followers. "Both their countenances are bad; and, as for the taller one
of the two, I am certain I have seen him at Nantes. I think it was in
the court of the chateau, the day we set out for Deux Rivières."

"I think so too," said Jacques Beaupré. "He is too ugly to be forgotten
easily; and, as for their tongue, I think it is Basque. I once heard
that language spoken; and theirs is much more like it than Savoyard."

Poor Pierrot was conscience-stricken, and heartily wished his tongue had
been cut out before it had run away from his discretion on the preceding
evening; but he kept his own counsel, and Jacques Beaupré had too much
of the laquais' spirit about him to tell of a companion before he was
found out.

The day was dull and gray, but not actually raining, and the road was
muddy and heavy to travel; but the forest was soon passed, and at the
end of two hours Edward judged, by the descriptions he had received,
that he was entering the vale of Chevreuse. Hidden in a dense shroud of
mist, it did not indeed look beautiful to his eyes, as he had been led
to believe; and, in some doubt, he stopped to ask a peasant, whom they
overtook driving an ox-cart, if the Chateau of Dampierre was near.

"Why, there it is, seigneur," said the man. "Dame! don't you see it?"
And, looking forward, Edward caught a faint sight of some towers and
pinnacles rising over the distant trees.



CHAPTER XXV.


Two large gates of that fine hammered iron which is now rarely seen,
twisted into leaves and flowers and coronets, with gilding here and
there, and the arms of Chevreuse and Montbazon let into the centre, shut
the small park of Dampierre from the road. They seemed indeed to offer
no ingress to any one, for Edward rang the great bell at least half a
dozen times before any one appeared; but then a man walked slowly down
the road from the chateau itself, and examined the strangers through the
filagree-work of the gate as he came. At neither of the two lodges at
the sides of the gate was there the least sign of life.

The man, who seemed an old servant, however, and who carried a large key
in his hand, applied it to the lock without asking any questions, and
Edward, before entering, inquired if Madame de Chevreuse was at the
chateau.

"I do not know," replied the servant, in an indifferent tone. "A good
many people rode away the day before yesterday, and I have not seen her
since; but, if you ride up, they will tell you there."

Edward accordingly rode on, and, though the distance was not more than
three hundred yards, he perceived that his coming had created more
sensation at the chateau than at the gates. There were heads at several
of the windows, and two or three men came forth upon the terrace and
watched the approaching party. Edward rode slowly to give time for a
full examination; for, from all he had heard at Nantes, he could very
well conceive that the fair duchess might be inclined to stand somewhat
upon her guard before she admitted strangers. Dismounting before the
chateau, he gave his horse to Jacques Beaupré to hold, and advanced
toward one of the servants at the door, who showed no disposition to
advance toward him, inquiring if the duchess was at Dampierre and would
receive him. "Come in, sir," said another servant, who had just come
down the steps. "Go up that staircase and turn to your right through the
first door. You will soon find somebody who will inform you."

Edward obeyed, thinking the manners of the Chateau of Dampierre somewhat
strange, it must be confessed, but being perfectly prepared to follow
the old adage of doing at Rome &c. The stairs were wide and low-stepped,
of dark polished oak, with richly-ornamented balusters; and the walls of
the staircase were covered with rich pictures both of Italian and
Flemish schools. At the top was a broad landing-place or vestibule, with
doors all round; but, following the directions he had received, the
young Englishman opened the first on the right and entered a splendid
saloon, where, seated in a great arm-chair, was a lady of gorgeous and
dazzling beauty, with a little girl of some seven or eight years old at
her knee, nearly as beautiful as herself. The eyes of both were fixed
upon the opening door with a gay look of expectation; and the moment
that Edward was fairly in the room the little girl ran forward, sprung
up, and kissed him. The beautiful lady followed and kissed him likewise,
laughing gayly as she did so.

It was certainly a surprise, though not a very disagreeable one, and
Edward would not have objected to go over the same scene again; but,
fancying there must be some mistake, he said, "I beg pardon for my
intrusion. I imagine, madame, that you have--happily for me--taken me
for some one else, by the honor you show me. I am merely a page to Lord
Montagu, whom I hope to find here."

"No mistake at all, monsieur," said the gay lady. "It is a vow,
sir,--altogether a vow,--which I and my daughter made, to kiss the first
gentleman that came to relieve our solitude; for my magnificent lord has
chosen to take himself away with all his people, and we have seen no
faces but those of the old servants for two whole days. It was a vow,
sir, we accomplished; but, even had it not been, I suppose I am not the
first duchess who has kissed a page, and probably I shall not be the
last."

"Heaven forbid!" said Edward, entering into the humor of the hour, "if
all duchesses' kisses are as sweet. But I presume I am in the presence
of Madame de Chevreuse, for whom I have a letter."

"Well, well," said the bright, reckless woman, "sit down here beside me
and tell me more. So you are my friend Lord Montagu's page. He has
expected you long, and told me all about you. How happened you to linger
on the road? Now, I warrant you met with some pretty little maiden, and
could not tear yourself away till you had beguiled the poor thing."

Edward took the seat to which she pointed beside her own chair, and
proceeded to tell her all he thought necessary to account for his long
delay, but without alluding in any way to Lucette. The explanation was
somewhat long, and the duchess listened listlessly, sometimes gazing at
his face, sometimes looking down at her own beautiful hands and shifting
the rings about in an absent manner. Edward, as was customary at that
period, nourished two locks of dark silky hair, twisted into those long
pendent curls which brought forth at an after-period the famous
puritanical tirade upon "the unloveliness of love-locks;" and, a little
to his surprise, as he went on he felt the fair duchess's hands busy
with the curls and twisting them round her fingers. Suddenly, however,
she started, exclaiming, "What am I about?" and Edward innocently
thought she was shocked at the familiarity into which a fit of absence
had betrayed her. Not a bit of it; and he was soon undeceived.

"Surely I saw two attendants with you as I was looking from the window,"
she continued; "and I have totally forgotten the poor men and the poor
horses. Run, my child, and tell Paton, the Savoyard, to have the men and
horses monsieur brought here taken care of; and bid somebody carry his
baggage to the chamber Lord Montagu had, next to mine. It is strange,
you will think," she continued, as her daughter tripped away: "I have
not a soubrette in the house, nor any woman but the old housekeeper and
my own girl; but I came away from Britanny in such haste, not knowing
whether I should be suffered to come away at all, that the fewer people
I brought with me the better. Now let me hear the rest, and give me the
letter you mentioned,--after which you shall have some food."

Edward had little more to tell, except the execution of poor Chalais,
and the permission given him by Richelieu to pursue his journey. The
first he touched but slightly, as the common rumor of something more
than the mere relations of friendship between the unhappy count and
Madame de Chevreuse had reached him; but the duchess would hear all, and
for a time she seemed greatly moved, although her love was so very
minutely divided that there could be no great portion for any individual
lover. At his account of his last interview with Richelieu,--which was
somewhat lame, from there being various circumstances which he felt
bound to keep back,--Madame de Chevreuse mused.

"The cardinal has some object," she said: "in fact, he always has. It
was not for your good mien he let you go on, depend upon it,--though you
are a handsome boy, I do not deny, and if the fox had been a woman I
could have understood his favor for you better,--though probably he
would then have kept you with him, as I intend to do."

"Indeed, madame," replied Edward, "I fear my duty requires me to go on
immediately, if, as I gather from your conversation, Lord Montagu is not
here. I need not tell you how much I should like to stay."

"Why do you not add something about bright eyes and beautiful lips, &c.
&c. &c., in true page style?" said Madame de Chevreuse; and then, giving
him a playful box on the ear, she added, "Were not you told to take my
orders and follow my directions, sir? It was so explained to me; but I
see I have a great deal to teach you yet. You will have to wait till the
day after to-morrow. Here; listen; put down your head." And as Edward
obeyed she brought her rosy lips so near his ear that the perfumed
breath fanned his cheek. "To-morrow night," she whispered, "I shall have
news of Montagu, and the day after, perhaps, I shall find it convenient
to take flight for Lorraine myself. The neighborhood of the court is
somewhat dangerous for me; and my head looks prettier upon my own
shoulders than in the hands of the executioner. In the mean time, you
have to stay here and console my daughter and myself. We live the life
of two nuns just now: you know how nuns live, I dare say,--young nuns,
of course, I mean. And now, let us talk of any thing but business: you
have to amuse me, and I have to be amused. I do not much care how."

I think it may be as well to drop for the present the further
conversation of the gay young duchess and her still younger companion.
She had all her life been famous for free speaking, and a little
celebrated for free acting; and, had it not been necessary to show
something of the life and manners of the times, I might have been
tempted not to bring her on the stage at all,--although, in writing the
adventures of Lord Montagu's page, Edward's visit to Dampierre could
hardly be left out. It must be remembered, however, that, though
somewhat more beautiful, more gay and witty, than most of her courtly
compeers, Marie de Rohan was but a type of French society at that time.
Few of the high dames of that day were at all more virtuous than
herself, although she had the candour--or the impudence, as it may
be--to make very few pretensions.

She had said that she had many things to teach Edward, and certainly
hers was not a very good school for a young lad; but he learned there
more perhaps than she imagined, and in the midst of her light coquetries
the sweet pure image of his Lucette came up to his mind, like the odor
of a fresh flower in the midst of some scene of revel. He thanked God
with all his heart that she whom he loved had never been subjected to
the guardianship of such a woman; and he even felt pained that the poor
young child her daughter should be witness to the reckless levity which
the mother displayed. There is a holiness about childhood; and the heart
of every man not impious revolts at the very thought of any thing which
can profane that shrine of innocence.

Edward dined well; for the Duc de Chevreuse was one of the most
luxurious--the French writers call it splendid--of the nobility of the
day. He is reported at one time to have ordered six magnificent coaches
merely to try which was the easiest; and he was not a man to have any of
his many houses at any time unprovided with a good cook.

After dinner is the time for sober but not heavy chat: the most
persistent of appetites is satisfied; the blood has something to do in
the process of digestion, and frolics less freely than at other times;
and the brain itself turns hard work over to the stomach, and neither
sports like a young horse set free from harness, nor lies down to sleep
like an ass upon a common. The Duchesse de Chevreuse went to lie down
upon her bed and rest after dinner, as was then common; but, as was
fully as common, she asked the young Englishman to come and sit beside
her. There were no triclinia in those days, nor _chaises longues_, nor
sofas; and, although piles of cushions had been introduced into a few
houses by those who had served against or with the Turks, they had not
found their way into the Chateau de Dampierre. Her conversation was much
more sober, however, than it had been in the earlier part of the day;
and from it Edward learned that Lord Montagu had talked to her much
about him, had told her his whole history, and had even left with her a
purse of five hundred crowns for his use, expressing a conviction that
some unforeseen accident had delayed him on his journey and might have
exhausted his finances.

"He seemed to take a vast deal of interest in you," said the duchess,
"and made me long to see you. But, Monsieur Langdale, this conduct of
his Eminence of Richelieu toward you puzzles me, and to my mind augurs
little good. Tell me: did any thing particular happen to you on the
road? Did you meet with any of the cardinal's people? Are these two men
you have brought with you sure and faithful?"

The remembrance of the two strangers who had endeavored to force
themselves upon him, instantly recurred to Edward's mind, and he related
the whole adventure.

"Spies! spies, on my life!" cried the duchess. "I trust they did not
discover you were coming here?"

"Not from me," answered Edward Langdale; "for I suspected them from the
first."

"Ah! then you have learned to suspect betimes," said the duchess; "and I
dare say you suspect women as much as men,--though we are more sincere
by half. I say not we are more faithful, for men are so unfaithful that
we should lose at that game; but we show more openly what we feel, and
therefore are more true. Now, tell me: were you ever in love, Monsieur
Langdale?"

Thus she rambled on, with less gayety, and less familiarity, perhaps,
than before dinner; but there was a sort of languor about her, a soft
sleepiness, which was perhaps more attractive, especially to a young
man. One of the greatest charms of that extraordinary woman was her
infinite variety. Was it now a desire merely to coquet with a young and
handsome lad? Was it only with the purpose of amusing a vacant hour or
two? Was it without purpose at all, and that she simply gave way to the
passing feelings of the moment and with listless carelessness left the
results to chance? I know not; and probably she herself and Edward
Langdale were the only persons who ever knew.

Authors will get into difficulties sometimes, dear reader,--will come to
sticking-places where they find it as difficult to go back as to wade
through. The only way in such circumstances is to take a great jump;
and, thank Heaven, the horses we ride are equal to any leap.

The next morning Edward and the duchess and her daughter met at
breakfast; and Madame de Chevreuse, if not in great spirits, was
cheerful and gay, and full of plans for passing the day pleasantly. She
would go and show the young Englishman the grotto and the rocks; they
would kill a stag in the adjoining forest; they would visit the _curé_
of Chevreuse, and astonish the good man,--a sport which she by no means
disliked: but while they were arranging all these schemes on the open
space before the chateau, a courier was seen riding up from the gates,
and when he came near he handed the duchess two letters.

The blood left her cheek as she read, and, instantly drawing Edward
aside, she said, "We must part at once. You go on as fast as possible to
Gray. Wait there two days, and, if you hear no more, ride forward to
Turin. As for myself, look here." And she put a paper into his hand. It
was a copy of the decree banishing her to Lorraine, there to remain upon
her own estates till the king's further pleasure.

"Order your horses quickly," she said. "Then come to my chamber for the
sum Montagu left for you. Glimpses of sunshine! glimpses of sunshine in
this April-day life! and then dark clouds and heavy showers."

In an hour, Edward Langdale rode away from Dampierre. He was grave and
silent. What was in his heart who can tell? but he certainly did not
view the world more brightly, or feel more confidence in human nature,
than he had done before that short visit.



CHAPTER XXVI.


Edward Langdale rode on from place to place, sometimes quickly,
sometimes slowly, as the condition of the roads and the nature of the
country required; and, strangely enough for a journey in those days,
neither accident nor adventure befell him. One thing excited his
curiosity and suspicion, however. At Trapes, where he passed the first
night after leaving the house of Madame de Chevreuse, when he had
finished his supper and was just retiring to rest, he caught for a
moment, on the somewhat darksome stairs, one glance of a face he thought
he had seen before. He could not identify it, indeed, for it was lost as
soon as seen; but it instantly carried his mind back to his adventure
with the two Savoyards, and he felt almost sure that face belonged to
one of them. But neither of the two strangers appeared the next morning;
and Pierrot and Jacques both assured him that their horses were not in
the stable.

There are faces that haunt us both in night and daydreams; and Edward
was almost led to believe that one of these spectres of the imagination
had taken possession of him; for twice or three times before he reached
Gray that face again crossed him for a moment, and always when no one
else was present who could confirm or remove his suspicions.

Those were not pleasant days to live in; and it is a very difficult
thing for any one born in and accustomed to the bad comfortable modern
days to realize those _good old times_. Espionage was then a great
science, an honorable profession, practised by great dignitaries and men
of high degree. Words brought men's heads to the block, and thoughts
often conducted to a prison. There was no need of overt acts: intentions
were quite sufficient; and friends and foes were so continually changing
places that no one could tell that the thoughts uttered in the
confidence of familiar intercourse would not be brought forward a few
days or weeks later to lead one to the dungeon and the rack. Yet it is
wonderful, unaccountable, how freely and daringly men spoke their
mind,--how the grave condemnation, the witty lampoon, or the hideous
libel, was disseminated without ceremony. Men laughed and had their
heads chopped off,--and would have laughed still if they could have been
fixed on again, I do believe; for nothing seemed a warning or a
restraint.

Edward, however, born in a country where neither the reign of the Tudor
nor of the Stuart had been able to crush out the spirit of liberty,
loved not to be watched; and there is always something more alarming in
the indefinite than the definite danger. He could not divine what was
the object of the two strangers, if, indeed, they had any object, in
thus persisting in following him. The cardinal had lacked no opportunity
of detaining him at Nantes, or of arresting him on his journey, if he
had thought fit; and yet he could not clear his mind from suspicion till
he reached Franche Comté and found himself beyond the power of the
French minister.

It may be necessary to remind the reader that Franche Comté was not
annexed to France till the year 1668; and at the time of which I now
write the important town of Gray was a fortified place, consisting of
the city on the high ground strongly walled, and a suburb on the bank of
the Saône, defended merely by a small battery. For a long period of
troublous times, so frequent had been the visits of French exiles to
Lorraine, Burgundy, and Franche Comté, that safe-conducts or passports
from one country to another were very generally dispensed with in the
country and in open towns; but in fortresses some trouble was
experienced; and it is probable that the directions which the Duchesse
de Chevreuse had given Edward Langdale to stop in the faubourg were
intended to guard against his detention. The inn which she had named to
him was good, however,--perhaps better than that in the upper town; and
the appointed two days of Edward's stay passed dully but not
unpleasantly. The horses were refreshed and the two men none the worse
for the repose. For Edward himself, too, perhaps two days of thought
were beneficial. Every man, in the toil and tumult and hurry of the
world, requires some moment to pause and consider his position, to
decide upon his future course, to apply the lesson of past errors, to
take breath as it were amidst the bustle of existence. Edward was like a
stout swimmer who had been suddenly plunged into a torrent, and was
likely to be carried away by the flood which for the last three months
had been whirling confusedly round him; and those two days at Gray were
like a little island of dry ground where he could rest and scan his way
to the opposite bank, avoiding the rocks and eddies which might impede
or destroy him. It is a quaint old proverb, but a true one, that "a man
who does not look clearly before him will often have to look sadly
behind him;" and happy is he who has both the will and the time to do
so.

Those two days then with Edward passed in almost uninterrupted thought;
but at last the night of the second day came, and yet neither message
nor letter had arrived. Supper had been eaten, and the horses had been
ordered for daybreak on the following morning to proceed to Turin, when,
toward nine o'clock, the landlord brought in a scrap of writing, asking
Edward if that was intended for him. It was addressed in
English,--"Master Edward Langdale,"--and underneath was written, "Join
me at Chambéry or Aix. I shall be there from the twenty-ninth till the
first."

No name was signed, but the writing was Lord Montagu's; and the
landlord, on being questioned, said the paper had been given to him by a
courier from Arnay le Duc going to Vesoul, who had gone on his way as
soon as he had left it.

Now, Edward's knowledge of geography was considerable, and, as far as
France and England were concerned, minute; but he had at Gray got
somewhat out of his latitude, and the landlord had to be consulted as
to the road to Aix and Chambéry. The good man was learned upon the
subject, however, knew every inch of the road, he said, and could find
his way in the dark. It was true, he added, that it was rather a wild
way, and carriages could hardly go one-half the distance; but, as the
gentleman had horses, it would be easily managed. He must first go
straight to Dole, then from Dole to Lons-le-Saulnier, from
Lons-le-Saulnier to Bourg or Nantua, and thence to the Pont du Sault.
After that, he said, came Bellay and Aix and Chambéry; but there the
traveller would have to ask every step of his way. It was a five days'
journey, he remarked, and, ride as hard as you would, it would take four
and a half.

Edward did ride hard, and the first part of the way was overcome in a
much shorter space of time than the good host had anticipated; nor was
it till the party had passed Bourg that any thing like difficulties
occurred. It is as pleasant a ride in fine weather as any one can take,
for the roads are now good and the scenery exceedingly picturesque
without being fatiguingly grand; but neither Edward nor ourselves have
any time to pause upon the beauties of nature. The roads, however, were
then in a very different condition from that which they now display;
and, indeed, the wonder-working eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have
done more for few countries than for the districts lying between the
Jura and the Rhone and Saône.

On the twenty-seventh of July, Edward Langdale and his party were within
one short day's journey of Aix, and the early morning when they set out
was fresh and beautiful. The hot summer sun was shaded by the rocks and
forests, and the air was cooled by the mountain-breeze. As he was
earlier than the first of the days named by Lord Montagu, the young
traveller suffered his horses to proceed leisurely. But in this he made
a mistake. Man always wants more money and time than he calculates upon;
and nobody can tell what the want of an hour or a guinea may bring
about.

As every one knows, the country which Edward had now to traverse is a
land of rocks and mountains, of rivers and lakes. Not three miles can be
passed without encountering some stream or torrent hurrying down to
join the great Rhone; and at every mile, as the road then went, was some
steep ascent or descent, flanked with rugged cliffs, sometimes covered
with dark forests, sometimes naked and gray, with immense masses of
stone impending over the traveller's head without the root of a single
tree to bind them to the crag, while high up in front the Mont du Chat
was seen from time to time rearing its rugged front and seeming to close
the pass. About one o'clock, over the edges of the hills some heavy
clouds were seen rising, knotty and dull, and of a deep lead-color,
except where the sun tipped their edges with an ochrey yellow. The wind
was from the northeast, and the clouds were coming from the south. But
they did not heed the breeze, which soon began to fail before them.

"Let us ride faster," said Edward: "the road is good here." And on he
went, keeping his eye on the heavy masses, but fearing no greater
inconvenience than a wetting. He had never travelled in Savoy before.
However, by quick trotting he saved himself and his followers for about
two hours; but by the end of that time the sun was hidden and great
drops began to fall. Then came the thunder echoing through the hills,
and then a complete deluge. Every thing turned gray, and the old castles
which strew that part of the country could hardly be distinguished from
the rocks on which they stood.

Two more hours were passed by the travellers under an overhanging shelf
of rock, which afforded some shelter, not only to themselves, but also
to their horses. But at the end of that time the rain had had the effect
of loosening some parts of the cliff, and several large masses of stone
began to fall, giving them warning to retreat as soon as possible.

The thunder was now more distant and the flashes of lightning farther
apart; but the rain continued to fall, not so heavily, but in a dull,
incessant pour. There was nothing to be done but to ride on, and, even
then, but slow progress could be made; for the roads were cut up in a
terrible manner, the smaller streams were swollen so as to be well nigh
impassable, and here and there the way was nearly blocked up by piles of
rock and gravel. Night was rapidly coming on; no human habitation was
in sight except a scattered old tower here and there, and that in ruins.

At length, just as the sun sank, a more formidable obstacle than ever
presented itself. Where the road took a rapid descent between some high
rocky ground on the right and the Rhone in flood upon the left, just at
the spot where one of the branches of the Guiers joins the larger river,
an immense mass of rock, undermined by the torrent, had fallen across
the mouth of the stream, which, thus blocked up, had flooded the whole
road. By the side of the water, gazing disconsolately at the rushing and
whirling current, was a group of men, some four in number. It was too
dark for Edward to distinguish who they were at any distance, but when
he came nearer he perceived his two old friends the Savoyard
blacksmiths, and two laborers of the country, whom the fall of the rock
and the consequent inundation had, it seemed, cut off from their own
cottages on the other side.

"Ah! bon jour, bon jour, seigneur!" said one of the blacksmiths, who had
dismounted, and was holding his horse by the bridle: "we came all along
the road with you, after all, but we kept out of your way for fear of
your pistols. Here is a pretty pass! We shall not get over to-night,
these men say."

"Can we find no place of shelter this side?" asked Edward, whose
suspicion of the two men had been greatly abated by finding they had
quietly pursued their way to Savoy. The blacksmith shook his head.

"I saw an old castle about half a mile back," said the young Englishman:
"it was not far up the mountain."

"All ruined! No roof," replied the other. "Ask them yourself."

But Edward could not make either of the peasants comprehend a word he
said. "We must do something," he remarked. "It is growing darker every
moment, and it would give us some sort of covering, were it but under an
old arch. Hark! there are horses coming on the other side. Those men
will be into the torrent if they do not mind." And, raising his voice,
he shouted aloud to warn the horsemen, who were dashing on at furious
pace from the side of Aix.

The wind set the other way, and the roaring of the water was loud, so
that it is probable his shout was not heard, for the next moment there
was a plunge into the water and then a loud cry for help.

Edward sprang instantly from his horse and advanced to the very verge of
the stream.

"For Heaven's sake, Master Ned, for Heaven's sake, do not try it!" cried
Pierrot, catching his arm.

"Here, take the horse," said Edward, sharply. "Let go my arm."

A flash of lightning came at that moment, faint, indeed, but sufficient
to show him a horse carried away toward the Rhone, a horseman who had
pulled up just in time upon the other brink, and a man struggling in the
water and trying to hold by a smooth mass of fallen rock, just in the
middle of the torrent, about twelve yards from him. He paused not to
consider, but ran as far as he could up the water, dashed in, and swam
with all his strength toward the drowning man, whom he could just
distinguish. Borne down by the current, he drifted right to the rock,
calling aloud, in French, "Do not touch me, and I will save you!"

Such warnings are usually vain. The man's first effort was to clutch
him; but Edward was prepared, and kept him off, catching him tightly by
the back of the neck. We have said that he was a good and practised
swimmer; but neither skill nor strength would probably have carried him
across that small space of twelve yards against that powerful current.
But Jacques Beaupré caught sight of him, and exclaimed, "Here, Pierrot,
catch my hand. Let us all be drowned in company." And, running in till
the water reached his shoulders and almost carried him off his feet, he
contrived to grasp Edward's arm and pull him on till he could touch
ground.

The young lad was almost exhausted, for the man, of whom he had never
loosed his hold, had struggled to the last to grasp him, and the few
moments since he had left the rock had been all one confused scene of
strife amongst the dark and eddying waters.

"Here; let me take him, sir," said Jacques: "if ever a man's life was
nobly saved, it is his." And, throwing his brawny arms round the
stranger, who struggled still, he carried him on to the road.

Edward paused for a moment, as soon as he could resist the stream, to
draw breath, and then slowly joined the rest. They had laid the stranger
down on the bank, and for a moment or two he remained quite still,
though his panting breath showed that his life was in no danger.

"Here, moosoo, take some of this," said one of the blacksmiths, pouring
some spirit out of a bottle into the stranger's mouth: "you owe that
young seigneur something; for if he had not been here you would have
been out of Savoy by this time."

"I know it; I know it," said the rescued man, faintly. "Where is he?
which is he?"

"Look! look!" cried Pierrot: "there is a light up there, in one, two,
three windows. That must be in the old chateau which these fellows said
was all in ruins. Let us go up. We shall none of us ever get dry here,
it is raining so hard."

"Are you able, sir, to walk up to that castle?" asked Edward, speaking
to the stranger, who had now raised himself upon his arm. "I fear your
poor horse is lost beyond all hope."

"Let the fiery brute go," said the other, petulantly: "if he would have
obeyed the rein I should not have been in this plight. I will try to
accompany you in a moment. But what castle is that? It must be Groslie,
I think."

He did not speak very good French; but, calling to one of the Savoyard
peasants, he addressed him in his own language, of which he seemed to
have a perfect command.

The good man instantly began to speak fast and gesticulate vehemently;
and, translating as best he could the language of signs, Edward
concluded that the Savoyard was trying to dissuade the gentleman from
going to the old chateau he had seen.

"What does he say?" asked the young Englishman: "he seems unwilling we
should go."

"Oh, he talks nonsense," answered the stranger: "he will have it that
the place is haunted, and says that no one is ever seen there by day,
but that those lights appear from time to time at night,--smugglers,
more likely, or coiners; but we are too many for them to do us any
harm." As he spoke he raised himself slowly upon his feet and said to
the friendly blacksmith, "Give me some more of those strong waters, my
friend. I will pay you well for them."

The man readily supplied him, and he professed himself ready to proceed;
but the two peasants could not be induced by any means to accompany the
rest. One of the blacksmiths, however, produced a lantern and candle
from the packs which each carried behind his saddle, and the party set
out, not without fresh remonstrances from the boors.

"If they be devils, we do not fear them," replied the stranger, and then
added some directions which probably referred to the servant, who had
been able to stop his horse in time and remained on the other side of
the torrent.

The peasants seemed to treat the stranger with much respect; but even
when, by the aid of a flint and steel, the lantern was lighted, it was
impossible for Edward to discern more of the other's person than
sufficient to satisfy him that he was a man of distinguished appearance,
tall and well formed though slight, and clothed as one of the higher
classes.

The ascent was somewhat laborious but not long, after they had once
discovered the right road; and about twenty minutes brought the party to
an old bridge and gate under a deep arch. By the faint light of the
candle, which was by this time wellnigh burned out, the place looked
fully as ruinous and desolate as the peasants had represented it to be.
The rugged outlines of some of the towers showed that much of the
masonry had fallen, and the key-stone of the arch and a large mass of
rubbish only left room for the horses to pass one at a time. Still,
however, the light they had seen from below continued to stream from
three windows in a great, dark, shapeless mass of buildings, and the
approach of the new-comers did not seem to have been discovered by the
persons within, if there were any.

"Stop a moment," said Edward, pausing under the arch. "As we do not
know what sort of persons we shall find within, it is well to be
prepared. The priming of my pistols may be damp, though the holsters are
made as tight as possible." And, standing under the shelter of the
walls, he took the weapon from his saddle-bow, threw the powder out of
the pans, and primed them anew. He then took the very useful precautions
of ascertaining that no water had entered the barrels and that the balls
were still in their places.

"Ay, he has got two lives there," said Pierrot, keeping close to his
master; and then, fastening the horses to some chains which hung about
the bridge, the whole party advanced toward the building in which the
lights were seen. A low and narrow door admitted them to the foot of a
small stone staircase, and, lighted by the blinking lantern, they began
to ascend. They had hardly gone half-way up--Edward with one pistol in
his belt and the other in his hand--when they heard a clear, merry peal
of laughter; and, somewhat hurrying his pace, lest the little candle
should go out before they reached the object of their search, the young
Englishman reached a little ante-room with a door on the opposite side,
through the large key-hole of which a ray of light streamed out upon the
floor.

The door was thrown open without ceremony; but the scene which the
interior of the large hall or chamber presented was what none of the
party expected. Seated round a table, on which were the remains of an
abundant meal, with plenty of wine, and sundry papers and maps, was a
party of gentlemen, richly dressed, with the exception of one who
occupied the top of the board and who was habited as an ecclesiastic. A
gentleman on the abbé's right hand was in the very act of speaking with
some gesticulation when the door was flung open; but he instantly
stopped. The party at the door stopped, also, in much surprise, and each
group gazed upon the other for a moment in silence.



CHAPTER XXVII.


The hall was lighted by three large sconces hung against that part of
the wall nearest to the table; but still the extent of the chamber
rendered the light feeble, except immediately under the burners. It
cannot be said that the appearance of Edward Langdale and his companions
was very prepossessing. Edward himself wore his hat and plume, which had
been thrown off before he plunged into the water; but his dress was
soiled as well as wet. The stranger whom he had saved was in a still
worse plight: his hat, of course, had been lost in his struggle with the
torrent, and his forehead and part of his face were covered with
dripping locks of long black hair. His sword, which had remained in the
sheath, was the only distinguishing mark of a gentleman about him.
Pierrot and Jacques Beaupré looked far more like bravos than the
followers of an English gentleman of those days; and the two ill-favored
blacksmiths, one armed with a half-extinguished lantern and the other
with a sledge-hammer, did not add to the beauty or respectability of the
group.

No wonder, then, that several of the gentlemen at the table laid their
hands upon their swords; and the one who had been speaking advanced a
step or two, exclaiming, in a threatening tone, "What is this? What
means this ill-mannered intrusion? Who are you, sirs, and what seek you
here?"

"Shelter from the storm, and food, if it can be procured," said Edward:
"we know not upon whom----"

But, before he could finish the sentence, the gentleman to whom it was
addressed started forward and caught him by the hand, exclaiming, "What!
Ned, my boy! How came you to seek me here?"

"I did not seek you here, my lord," replied Edward, "and, to say truth,
if I had known you were here, I should not have come. I was on my way to
Aix to join your lordship, according to your commands; but the road is
impassable. Some of us have been half drowned; and, though this is a
desolate-looking place, we said, 'Any port in a storm.'"

"But who are these gentlemen with you?" asked Lord Montagu, still
speaking in French, but running his eye somewhat doubtfully over the
group of five persons who had advanced some way from the door.

"Those two," answered Edward, in the same gay tone, which was generally
affected by pages of noble houses,--"those two are my servants, or
rather your lordship's, the renowned and reformed Pierrot la Grange and
the facetious Jacques Beaupré. Those two--the one with the lantern and
the other with the hammer--are two respectable blacksmiths and
horse-doctors, who have joined themselves on to me and mine and did good
service in curing one of my horses. They profess to be Savoyards
returning to their own country."

"They shall be welcome," said Lord Montagu, smiling,--"most welcome, for
I have no less than five good horses sick of some distemper at Chambéry.
But who is the other,--that gentleman who seems half drowned?"

"He was half drowned a few minutes ago, my lord," replied the youth,
"and so was I; but he will probably tell you more of himself if you will
ask him. His horse leaped with him into the river, and it was a hard
matter to get him out."

"I hold it but courteous in these bad times," said Lord Montagu, "to
follow the old knightly rule and ask no stranger any questions,--before
he has cut your throat; and therefore we will invite him to sup, and
leave him to explain himself. He seems a gentleman."

"Yes, my lord," was all Edward's reply; but a very peculiar expression
crossed his countenance as he uttered those three words, which, had Lord
Montagu seen it, might have caused more inquiry. That nobleman, however,
had turned to speak for a moment with the gentlemen who had been seated
with him; and he then advanced to the stranger, inviting him courteously
to be seated and take some refreshment, and expressing sorrow for the
accident which had befallen him. He also bade the other four sit down
and eat; and, there being no place for so many at the table, filled as
it was, most of those who had already supped rose and gathered together
at the end of the board, Edward taking his place amongst them without
touching any thing.

Lord Montagu introduced him to the rest in kind terms, saying, "My page
and young friend, Monsieur Edward Langdale, Monsieur le Prince de ----,
Monsieur le Comte de ----, Monsieur l'Abbé Scaglia, the Duke of Savoy's
prime minister. We came here on a little party of pleasure, Ned, and sat
long over our cups, in truth, hardly hearing that the storm was still
going on. Come, my good youth, sit down and eat. You must be well weary
of all the adventures which the fair duchess writes me you have gone
through. Eat, boy! eat!"

"Your pardon, my lord," said Edward, gravely: "I will take a cup of wine
here standing: that is all. I have much to tell your lordship."

"By-and-by, by-and-by," said Lord Montagu, "we shall have plenty of time
and plenty to talk of. Well, drink if you will not eat."

Edward Langdale advanced to the table, filled himself a goblet of wine,
and returned with it to Lord Montagu's side. Before he could raise it to
his lips, however, the stranger whom he had saved from drowning turned
round his head, saying, with a polite smile, "Let me have the pleasure
of drinking with you, young gentleman, in memory of the service you
rendered me. I do not know your name, though your face is very familiar
to me."

A dark cloud gathered upon Edward Langdale's brow, and he answered, not
sharply, but with stern, cold bitterness, "I neither eat with you nor
drink with you, sir."

The stranger started up with his face all on fire, and exclaimed, with
his hand upon the hilt of his sword, "Do you mean to insult me, sir?"

"I mean to tell you, sir," said the youth, boldly, "that I am Edward
Langdale,--your father's son; and that you have robbed me of that to
which neither he nor you had any right,--my sweet mother's estates."

"Robbed? robbed?" cried Sir Richard Langdale, furiously drawing his
sword.

"Ay, robbed,--swindled, if you like it better," said Edward. "Put up
your sword, or sheathe it here," he continued, throwing his arms wide
open and exposing his chest. "I do not fight with my brother."

The other rushed upon him like a madman.

"What is this? what is this?" cried the Abbé Scaglia, running forward.

"Back, madman!" exclaimed Lord Montagu, seizing Richard Langdale by the
collar.

Pierrot la Grange also darted forward and tried to push between. But all
were too late. Edward fell to the ground with a heavy fall, and his
brother withdrew his sword all dripping with blood.

The burly blacksmith advanced toward him with his hammer raised in the
act to strike him on the head, exclaiming, in very good French, "The
murdering villain! He has killed the man who saved his life at the risk
of his own, not an hour ago!"

But Lord Montagu caught his arm, saying, "Stand back. This must be
inquired into by justice. No more slaughter here. Sir, give up your
sword! You are a prisoner."

"Aid, all men, to arrest him!" cried the Abbé Scaglia. "I command you in
the duke's name!"

Sir Richard Langdale moved not a muscle, but stood gazing at the fallen
form of his brother with a face as pale as marble and bloodless lips.
Such sudden changes of feeling will often take place in terrible
circumstances. When the dreadful deed, prompted by the fierce fire of
passion, is once done, we know all its horrors; but not before. The
consummation is like the lightning-flash upon a corpse, showing every
ghastly feature more livid and frightful from the remorse-like glare
that darts across it. Suddenly he started, raised his hands to his head,
tearing his long black hair, and exclaiming, "Curse the lands! Curse the
riches!"

"Here!" cried Lord Montagu, "take him away, you two. Guard him safely,
but do him no hurt. You stout fellow, aid us to raise this poor lad,
and let us see if nothing can be done for him. On my life, I would as
soon have lost my brother!"

"Let me tend him, sir," said the blacksmith with the lantern: "I have
cured many a horse as bad hurt as he; and a horse and a man are much the
same thing."

"Not quite," said Lord Montagu, who even at that moment could not
altogether resist the joking spirit of his times and his party. "Heaven!
how he bleeds! Gentlemen, he was the noblest lad--the promptest with
hand and head and heart--I ever saw. Poor Edward! can we do nothing for
you?"

As he spoke, they raised the youth and laid him on the table, and the
blacksmith tore open his vest. The movement seemed to awaken him a
little; and, probably with thoughts far distant, he exclaimed, in a
faint voice, "No, never! no, not with life!" But the rough hands stayed
not their work; and, after gazing for an instant at his wounded side,
the man turned to his companion, saying, "Ivan, run down and bring up
the pack, quick! We can stop this bleeding. Do you not see? it does not
jerk. Then, if none of the vitals be touched----"

"A hundred crowns if you save him till we can get to Aix," said Lord
Montagu.

"I think I can save him altogether," said the man. "The thing is, people
will not treat man as if he were a beast; and so they kill him. Man and
beast are only flesh, and all flesh is grass."

But it is needless to discuss or to display any further the views and
principles of Edward's somewhat rough doctor, or to detail the treatment
he underwent. There was the usual amount of bustle and confusion, and
the much talking and the recommendation of many remedies which could not
be procured and would have done no good if they had been there. Suffice
it that the bleeding was soon stayed, and that Edward recovered from the
fainting-fit into which the wound, probably penetrating some very
sensitive part, had thrown him. The blacksmith by no means wanted
mother-wit, and his treatment was probably based upon the sound
principle of merely aiding nature. The lad spoke a few words, and they
tried to impose silence upon him; but he would not hold his peace till
those around assured him that no one had hurt his brother and that he
was safe in another chamber.

All Lord Montagu's anxiety seemed to be to get him to Aix; and he went
out himself and sent out more than once to see if the storm was over.
Luckily for Edward, it continued all night and part of the next morning;
I say luckily, for the hands in which he was were probably better
calculated to bring about his recovery than any which could have been
found in a small town in Savoy, as medical science went in those times.

In the mean while, the party assembled made themselves as comfortable as
they could in disagreeable circumstances of many kinds; and the heavy
tread of Sir Richard Langdale was heard through the night beating
incessantly the floor of the room above. Toward morning that wearisome
footfall ceased, and Lord Montagu, who sat by Edward's side and was
still awake, said to himself, "That poor wretch has found sleep at
length. Now, which is the happiest?--he, or poor Ned here? I would
rather be that boy than the man who has killed his own brother. They say
that Edward saved his life, too, not an hour before. Very likely! He is
fit for any gallant act. Heaven! what must that man's thoughts be?"

Soon after, the Abbé Scaglia roused himself in the corner where he had
ensconced him, and, moving quietly up, talked in a low tone for some
twenty minutes with Lord Montagu. They then roused the rest of the party
who had been supping there, and went down into the court-yard, where
they found the horses of Edward Langdale and his companions. Their own
were hidden in one of those deep vaults under the great tower which were
common in most feudal castles, especially in border-districts, as a safe
and silent receptacle of stolen cattle and horses.

Though it was still raining, most of the party mounted and rode away,
promising to send up a litter and a surgeon as soon as the road was
passable. Lord Montagu himself said he would remain with the poor lad,
and reascended to the chamber where he had left him.

All was silent there: the wounded youth had fallen into a sleep which
seemed calm, and the two blacksmiths were nodding beside him. The
English nobleman then went up to the floor above, where he found Jacques
Beaupré asleep across the door, and Pierrot sitting up, but rubbing his
eyes as if he had not been long awake.

In answer to the nobleman's questions, Pierrot detailed all that had
occurred upon the road, and dwelt upon the gallant conduct of his young
master. "He little thought," said the man, "that he was risking his own
life to save the very man who would kill him. But I have often heard say
that it is unlucky to rescue a man from drowning. As to this man in
here, sir, I believe he is mad; for he has been walking about all
night,--sometimes talking to himself, sometimes groaning as if his heart
would break. I had better wake him, perhaps."

"No, no! Let him sleep if he can," said Lord Montagu, quickly. "Well may
he groan! Pray Heaven neither of us may ever have such cause, my man.
When you hear him move, get him some wine. There is still some
down-stairs. Till then, let him alone. If he sleeps, it is the best
thing for him."

Thus saying, he went down again, and, finding every thing as before,
approached the window and gazed at the morning light, still pale and
blue, spreading up from the mountain-edges into the rainy sky. After
about half an hour, Edward turned painfully and asked for some water.
His lord gave it to him with a kindly word or two, and the blacksmiths
woke up and examined the wound. They seemed satisfied with its
appearance, and one of them said, loud enough for Edward to hear, "He
will get well, sir."

Oh, what a blessed thing is hope! Those few words were a better balm
than any druggist could have supplied. They brought with them, too, the
thought of Lucette; and, beckoning to Lord Montagu to hold down his
head, he whispered, "If I should die, my lord, I beseech you to write a
few lines to the old Marquise de Lagny, to tell her the fact. She will
be with the court of France, wherever that may be."

"No, no; you will get well, Ned," said Lord Montagu, in a cheerful tone.
"I do not intend to part with you yet. But now you must positively be
silent if you would not increase the evil."

Some four or five hours passed. The rain cleared away, the sun broke
out, and Lord Montagu looked anxiously from the windows which were
turned toward the road, in expectation of the promised litter. All he
could see, however, was a large party of Savoyard peasantry working
hard, apparently, to remove some obstruction from the highway.

He was still gazing forth, when Pierrot appeared at the door, and,
finding all still, beckoned to him.

"My lord," he said, in a low voice, when Montagu had joined him, "I can
hear nothing of that man above, nor Jacques either. He could not get out
of the windows; and I should not wonder if he has hanged himself."

Lord Montagu started and instantly ran up-stairs, thinking the
conclusion at which Pierrot had jumped not at all improbable. He opened
the door gently and looked around. The sun was shining full into the
room, but Sir Richard Langdale was not there. The only thing that could
indicate the mode of his escape was a pair of large riding-boots, very
wet, which lay on the floor; and it is probable that, opening the door
cautiously while the two men were asleep, he had stepped lightly over
them and then gone down the stairs.

"What a thing is the love of life!" thought Lord Montagu. "This man
would rather live miserable than risk the grave. However, I cannot be
sorry; and I believe poor Ned will be glad."

He entered the room below as silently as possible; but Edward, who had
heard his rapid step running up the stairs, turned his head, asking, "Is
there any thing the matter above?"

"Only that your brother has escaped," said his lord.

"Thank God!" said the young man, with a smile. "Pray, do not pursue him,
my lord."

"I will not," replied Montagu: "make your mind easy, Ned."

"Here come some people with a litter up the hill," said one of the
blacksmiths.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


The _auberge_, the _cabaret_, the _gîte_, were the usual places of
repose for travellers in the reign of Louis XIII., as they had been
under that of his father, Henry IV. Some change, indeed, had taken place
in point of comfort and refinement; and even before the epoch of Louis
XIV., which was now rapidly approaching, many an auberge was a very
comfortable and luxurious dwelling. But there was another roof, which,
in those days, afforded in Catholic countries--and even now afford, on
the less frequented lines of travel--a more peaceful and little less
comfortable or luxurious resting-spot than the houses of public
entertainment. This was the large monastery, the abbey or the priory of
any of the hospitable orders; and in Savoy these were peculiarly
numerous, as their splendid ruins still attest.

Alas that in the march of what we call improvement so much that is good
is swept away! Many undoubtedly were the vices and the evils which had
crept into the Romish Church; great, we Protestants believe, was the
corruption of her faith; but the time will come when the whole world
will own that to that Church we owe a debt of gratitude for arts,
institutions, faith itself, preserved, and will regret that in the
fanatical zeal of religious innovation the good and the bad were
promiscuously crushed together.

With the men who bore the litter sent by the Abbé Scaglia was a surgeon
of some eminence, who strongly advised that the wounded youth should be
carried to the Abbey of St. Pierre rather than to a noisy inn in Aix. It
was but a mile from the city, he said: the air was pure and fine, and
the attendance of the sisters, who were of an order of charity, would be
worth more than that of any nurses who could be found in the town. They
were the servants of God; the others were the servants of Mammon: and no
one could doubt which would do their duty best.

His reasoning was conclusive; and Edward Langdale was accordingly
carried to the abbey and kindly received.

No need to dwell upon his illness. It was severe, but it was not fatal;
and, by the reader's leave, we will advance six days in our story and
look into the chamber which had been assigned him in the hospital-part
of the building. Lord Montagu sat by his bedside with a cheerful look,
and the young man was already able to raise himself upon his arm and
listen to or answer questions. His noble friend had passed the
intervening time, as he had proposed, at Aix, and his days were full of
business and excitement; but still he had found leisure to ride out each
day and visit his page.

"Well, Ned," he said, "you are now in a fair way. The surgeon tells me
there is no doubt of your recovery now, if you have even tolerable
prudence; so I shall leave you for a day or two and go to Turin. I trust
you will be able to travel shortly after I come back; for I have wanted
you much during your long absence, and shall want you more now. There is
Henry Freeland; he is stupid as an ass; and then George Abbot, who has
sense enough when you give him three hours to think over what he has to
do, is as slow as an elephant."

"I was indeed very long on my journey, my lord," replied Edward; "but I
can assure you I could not help it. One unfortunate accident after
another detained me, as I have partly told you."

"Ay, Madame de Chevreuse wrote me all that," said Montagu. "You were ill
from a knock on the head at Rochelle. You are too quick, my boy, and, I
dare say, brought it on yourself; but I would rather have a ready hand
and a ready head than a slow heart and a dull understanding. It was
unfortunate, it is true; for it gave an excuse for sending away Lord
Denbigh's fleet. But that was all a pretext. We understand these
Rochellais well; and they will quarrel amongst themselves till they lose
their city. Then you were caught by this great cardinal and detained by
him. You must tell me all about that by-and-by. It is a marvel he hanged
you not; and you must have managed him skilfully. But tell me about
these two blacksmith horse-doctors you had with you. They say they met
you on the road at Chartres, and that you would have none of their
company."

"They say true, my lord," answered Edward. "I liked not their faces, and
I wished to ride alone. Besides, I had seen one of them, I am sure, at
Nantes, in the court of the castle; and I feared he might be one of the
cardinal's people. But, as he is here in Savoy, whither he said from the
first he was coming, I was probably mistaken. However, it is always
better to be sure of your company."

"Oh, they are honest fellows," said Lord Montagu; "and, as I am
continually wanting a smith, I have engaged them both to go with me as
far at least as Liege. If they were the cardinal's men they would not go
out of the cardinal's reach."

It may be necessary to explain that in those days, in Europe, men were
much in the same state as travellers in Hindostan at present. Each
servant you had with you had his specialty, and the train of a man of
means and retinue consisted of a dozen more persons than any one now
requires. It is true that at great towns you could find artificers of
all sorts, ready to repair your coach or shoe your horses, or perform
any services which the accidents of the road might require; but, if one
of those accidents occurred between great town and great town, you might
have to travel twenty miles with a lame horse or a broken vehicle,
unless you had some one with you capable of rectifying the mischance
upon the spot. Poor men were obliged to submit to such inconveniences,
but the rich were prepared against them; and, as Lord Montagu's object
was haste, and that rapidity of movement which is the best concealment,
he very naturally desired to guard against all impediments.

The object of that nobleman in the long journey which he was even then
taking was to forward the great schemes of one to whom he was devoted
with a warmth and sincerity of attachment very rare even then, rarer
still now. The famous Duke of Buckingham, favorite of two kings, and
ruler for a time of both king and people, was a man of great and daring
enterprise, of bold and courageous action, but of small foresight and
of less discretion. Unfortunate in action, from causes which he often
could not control, he was great in purpose and even obstinate in
resolution. The fault was generally a want of capacity for detail, and a
miscalculation of the means in his power as proportioned to the end he
had in view. For the first time in life, however, he had now considered
his steps well and devised each move on the political chess-board
accurately. Whatever were his motives, (none has discovered them, nor,
perhaps, ever will,) his present object was to humble France and to
raise England at her expense; and, while he himself prepared eagerly for
a war in which he was not fitted for command, his most intimate friend
and confidant, Lord Montagu, was intrusted with the execution of that
great political scheme which is the only bright point in Buckingham's
career as a statesman. His task was, in the first place, to unite every
discontented person and party in France against the crown, to combine
Huguenots with dissatisfied Catholics, a turbulent nobility with a
turbulent people, and to disunite the powers, wherever they might be,
which supported the throne. But in the next place came the still more
important part of the scheme. It was to bring together all the foreign
enemies of France, a discordant and heterogeneous body, and to direct
their efforts in one concentrated torrent against a kingdom already
distracted by internal feuds.

Few men could have been better fitted for these tasks; but in some
respects Lord Montagu was wanting. He was somewhat too confiding; though
politic, he was not sufficiently reserved; though clear-sighted, he was
not observant of small particulars.

Hitherto he had been successful in all he had attempted; and now, by
Edward's bedside, he spoke with some satisfaction of all he had
done:--how he had remained in France in despite of the terrible minister
who then already ruled the destinies of that great country; how he had
passed from house to house and castle to castle, giving consistency to
plans and direction to purposes which had previously been vague and
undefined; how he had obtained written assurances of co-operation and
support from many of the most powerful nobility and the most
influential factions in France; how his efforts in Spain and Lorraine
and Savoy were all on the eve of triumph.

"Here," he said, "I have met with more difficulty than I expected. The
court of the duke is divided. Many of his advisers have been gained by
Richelieu, and a number of the chief nobility are attached to an
alliance with France. It was to strengthen the hands of our friend the
Abbé Scaglia, and to commit irrevocably to our party many of the most
influential of these nobles, that we held the secret meeting in the old
Chateau of Groslie, where you found us so unexpectedly. Your coming was
not, in truth, inopportune; for all was settled, and further discussion
would have done harm rather than good."

"I am glad your lordship has been so successful in great matters," said
Edward, "while I have been so unsuccessful in smaller ones. Indeed,
though I cannot trace my want of success to any fault of my own, yet I
cannot help feeling that my failure to accomplish any thing that was
intrusted to me must have shaken your lordship's confidence in me.
Either I must have been stupid, or most unfortunate,--which is perhaps
worse."

"Nonsense, lad!" said Lord Montagu. "Many of the most successful men I
have ever known failed in their first efforts: some failed for many
years. There is in circumstance, my good youth, a dead weight which no
human strength can overcome. We sent you to France because you were
likely to pass where no man of riper years and known reputation could
have made his way; but we were well aware that you had difficulties to
contend with which were sure to try you hard and probably might
frustrate all your efforts. But you have not wholly failed. You have
been delayed, impeded; but you have made known the views of England
where it was necessary they should be known, and you have brought me
intelligence of the state of preparation of his Grace of Buckingham,
which was most important at the present moment."

"Indeed, my lord!" cried Edward, with a look of extreme surprise. "The
cardinal minister opened all the letters and read them in my presence,
and I heard no such intelligence."

"Look there!" said Montagu, taking a letter from his pocket and holding
it up before the young man's eyes. "You thought that there was nothing
on that sheet but what is written in black ink; and so did Richelieu;
but he did not and could not discover all that is told in those orange
characters unless he had possessed the secret, only known to three
persons, of the liquid which brings out the characters from the
apparently blank paper. It is only a marvel, my boy, that you passed at
all. We hardly expected it; but you have passed, and, though delayed
upon your journey, have brought me this intelligence in time. This
cardinal is very shrewd; but there are people as shrewd as he. This news
will hurry the movements of Savoy, Lorraine, the empire; and yet he had
this letter in his hand and suffered it to pass."

"No thanks to me," said Edward; "for I knew not what was in it."

He was in a somewhat desponding mood, and inclined to undervalue his own
services; but he could not help seeing that papers had been put into his
hands which, unknown to himself, must have led him to an ignominious
death if they had been discovered; and, for the time at least, he felt
sick of political intrigue. There are moments; even in the midst of the
bustle and turmoil, the eagerness and the excitement, of this world's
objects and ambitions, when a consciousness of the excellence of perfect
truth and plain sincerity comes upon us, and we feel that if all men
would but follow the pure and plain injunction of the Savior, and do
unto others as we would they should do unto us, we should be happier
here as well as hereafter. We excuse to ourselves our own acts by the
actions of others. We say, "We must fight our adversaries with their own
weapons." We would be ready to follow the gospel precept if others would
follow it; but each man has the same apology, and no one will commence
obedience.

But Edward felt that it did not befit one so young to discuss ethics
with his lord; and, changing the subject, he inquired, "How long did
your lordship say you would be absent?"

"Some seven days," answered Lord Montagu. "And, from what the surgeon
says, I judge you will be able to travel about six days after. I have
work here for at least that time."

"I trust so, my lord; for I certainly feel my health improving," said
the young man. "But I wish your lordship would not take those
blacksmiths with you,--though they treated me well and kindly,--perhaps
skilfully too: I can feel grateful to them, but cannot bring my mind to
confide in them."

"Why, what is the matter with them?" asked Montagu, bluffly.

"I know not, my lord," said Edward; "but they have both bad faces,--a
cunning and a double look."

"Pooh, pooh! prejudice!" said Lord Montagu. "They are mighty good folks.
Why, they have already cured two of my horses, which the people here
could make nothing of. You are sick and whimsical, boy. Now, tell me:
how long did you stay at the Chateau of Dampierre? The fair duchess does
not mention that fact; but she seems mightily smitten with you."

"But a day and a night, my lord," replied Edward, not without a slight
flush of the cheek. "She received a command from the court to retire to
Lorraine, and a letter--I presume from your lordship--arrived the same
day, telling me to go to Gray."

"No need of reasons," said Montagu, somewhat shortly. "Well, have you
heard that your somewhat unkind brother has succeeded in making his
escape?"

"No; I have heard nothing, my lord," replied Edward. "You assured me he
should not be pursued."

"Not so," answered Montagu. "A few words make a great difference, young
man. I assured you I would not pursue him,--not that he should not be
pursued; and the Abbé Scaglia, as in duty bound, ordered an immediate
search for one who had attempted such a crime in his presence. It has
thus far been unsuccessful, and I think will prove so altogether."

"Has nothing at all been heard of him?" asked Edward.

"Very little that can be at all relied upon," replied Lord Montagu. "The
servant who was with him when he so rashly leaped his horse into the
river was apprehended and questioned. He says that Sir Richard was on
his way to Lyons when the accident occurred; but on that road no trace
of him can be discovered. A peasant declares he met with a man of an
appearance like his, without boots, hat, or sword, wandering along the
mountain-paths toward _Les Echelles_, and a little boy says he saw the
same person at a distance; but this is all that has yet been
discovered."

"I would fain beseech the Abbé Scaglia to drop all pursuit," said the
young man; "but I fear they will not let me write. It is useless to seek
for him now that I am, as they say, recovering; and, moreover, my lord,
I think I was myself a good deal in fault. My words were rash and
intemperate. I could not have borne them myself had I been in his
place."

"They certainly were not very sweet," said Lord Montagu, with a laugh;
"and I will tell the abbé what you say, Ned. But you will soon be well,
I do trust, and then this affair will terminate of itself."

The conversation was not prolonged much further; and Lord Montagu left
his young friend to the care of Pierrot and Jacques Beaupré and the
attendance of the good sisters. Every kindness was shown him. The room
in which he had been placed was large and airy; the sunshine and the
sweet summer air came streaming in at his window, and day by day his
health improved; but still illness is ever tedious, and the hours passed
heavily along. Thought was his only resource; but, for a young man of
his character, thought--even enforced thought--is a blessing. The
adventure which had so nearly closed his life was not without its good
results. He reproached himself for the harsh words he had uttered and
the harsh feelings he had entertained toward his brother, and he
resolved to nourish better things in his heart. The five or six
preceding years and the events they had brought with them had all had a
hardening tendency; but, one by one, during the few last months,
softening lessons of various kinds had disciplined and entendered
without enfeebling his spirit; and on the sixth day after Lord Montagu's
departure Edward rose for an hour or two from his bed of sickness, a
very different being from him whom we first introduced to the reader.



CHAPTER XXIX.


Every thing is irrevocable. The word spoken, the deed done, is
registered in that book of fate from the page of which no solvent can
blot it out. Nay, more: every word or action, however small, has some
effect on all that surrounds it; and that effect is often quite out of
all proportion to the cause. It is hard for the narrow, slippery mind of
man to conceive and hold fast the fact that a pebble dropped into the
Atlantic produces a ripple which is more or less felt to all the
Atlantic's shores: yet it is a fact. The eye may not be keen enough to
detect it ten yards from the spot where the stone displaced the waters;
but, though unseen, it exists. It may be crossed by counteracting
causes, but still it acts upon them while they act upon it; and it has
its effect,--permanent, persisting, never ending.

It is the same with man's actions. Deeds done a thousand years ago are
affecting every one of us now; and Julius Cæsar has more to do with a
common-councilman of the city of London than that common-councilman ever
dreams of.

We have seen that Edward Langdale had little to do but to think. The
surgeons would not let him read. He was enjoined to speak as little as
possible, for there was a shrewd suspicion that the sword which wounded
him had passed through, or very near, one of the lungs. But he employed
thought to good purpose,--to calm all angry feelings, to quench
repinings, to humble himself to God's will. He was naturally led by this
train of thought to follow, in reference to his own case, some of the
fine threads out of which the great network of cause and effect is
wrought.

"Why should I be so angry with my brother?" he thought. "If he had not
taken from me my property, what a different creature I should have
been!--a country squire with a pack of hounds; a justice of the peace
some day, to hear old women's plaints about robbed orchards and
violated hen-roosts! I should never have been Lord Montagu's page; I
should never have met with dear, dear Lucette. Sweet girl! where is she
now? Does she think of me still? Does she ever regret the indissoluble
bond that binds us together?"

Then the train of thought became somewhat more gloomy. He recollected
that for two long years--how sadly, sadly long they seemed in
prospect!--he was not to see her. And what might happen in the interval?
All means, all arts, would be used to induce her to forget him, to break
their union, perhaps to make her love some other; and he felt for an
instant, as he thus pondered, the little, sharp sting of jealousy,--the
most poignant of pangs.

The world has always been full of tales of woman's fickleness, and
Edward had heard them,--tales in which her firmness and her truth are
often forgotten altogether. But speedily came better thoughts and nobler
confidence. Lucette was full of gentleness, was of a tender, loving
nature, he knew; but he thought he had remarked, in the various scenes
through which they had passed,--scenes well calculated to try a young
girl to the utmost,--a strength, a constancy of purpose which bade him
trust.

"She will not abandon me," he thought. "She will not bestow that love
upon another which was first mine,--is mine by right. Dear, beautiful
girl! there is truth and enduring love in those clear, liquid eyes. Oh
that I could see her again but for one moment! Oh for one embrace, one
kiss!"

The day declined, and night came on. They brought the invalid the scanty
supper that was allowed him, and, an hour or two after, Pierrot came to
take away the light; for Edward, who had slept very lightly for several
nights, had expressed a wish that the night-lamp and the good folks who
had hitherto watched him might be withdrawn. He thought he should rest
better, he said, if he were quite alone and in darkness. He was not
mistaken. From ten till twelve he slept more soundly than he had done
for many days. He heard the abbey clock strike twelve, however, but it
was but a momentary interruption of his slumber; and he was turning
round to sleep again, when the door of the chamber creaked a little
upon its hinges. The room was large and the windows well shaded; but, as
Edward lay with his face toward the door, he could see a gleam of
moonlight partly interrupted at the doorway, and he gazed to discover
who was coming in. The figure was small, the garments those of a woman;
and the youth thought, "One of the good sisters, to see if I am sleeping
well. She means it kindly; but I wish she had not come."

Unwilling to have any conversation, he shut his eyes again and affected
to be still asleep; but the door was gently closed, and then a light
footfall crossed the floor. It stopped near his bedside, and then a hand
lightly touched him; for the room was very dark, and probably the
visitor, whoever it was, did not see any thing distinctly.

"This is strange," thought Edward: "the sisters commonly have a lamp
with them."

The stranger paused where she stood, and seemed to be gazing down upon
the spot where he lay; and then she quietly crossed the room to where a
small crack between the blind and the wall showed a very narrow ray of
moonshine. She quietly and softly pulled back the blind a very little
farther, so as to admit the slightest possible light into the room, and
then returned to the bedside and gazed down again. A moment or two
after, Edward felt the pressure of a cool, delicious kiss upon his
cheek. He could affect sleep no longer, and opened his eyes; but it was
in vain. He could neither see the face nor distinguish the garments of
his visitor; and, stretching forth his hand, he caught her dress,
saying, "Who are you? what is it you seek?"

She answered not; but, kneeling down by his bedside, she threw her arms
round him, covering his lips and brow with kisses; and he thought he
felt a warm drop or two fall from her eyes upon his cheek.

"Good Heaven!" exclaimed the young man, raising himself on his arm; "who
are you? What is this? I should know that kiss; but I do not--I cannot
believe in such happiness. Tell me, tell me who you are!"

She put her soft cheek, wet with tears, close to his, and whispered,
"Dear, dear Edward! Who am I? Who but your own Lucette,--your own wife?
And did you know my kiss? Never, never forget it, Edward." And she
kissed him again and again, as if she would fix the soft pressure of her
lips upon his memory forever.

"Never! never!" he said, putting his arm round her. "But am I in a
dream? I cannot believe that this is a waking truth."

"Lie down," said Lucette, "and do not be agitated, dear husband;
otherwise I must leave you. It is no dream, though it seems almost as
much so to me as to you. I thought you would forgive me for waking you;
and I could not be so near you, and you ill and wounded, without one
word of affection before we go on. I am afraid it was cruel and wrong,
when you were sleeping so calmly. But tell me yourself that you are
better,--that you are getting well. The good sister who told me all
about your wound said you would soon be able to ride out. They are all
anxious about you here; but who can be so anxious as I am?"

"But tell me more, dear Lucette," said Edward, disobeying her, and still
holding her to his heart. "How came you in Savoy? how came you here? how
did you find your way hither?"

"I came on with the family of Monsieur de Rohan," answered Lucette. "He
judged it best we should all quit France for a season and go to Turin or
Venice, while he endeavored to deliver Rochelle; and when we arrived
here the first thing the nuns told us was of the young foreign cavalier
who lay wounded under their care. When I heard your name, I seemed for a
moment to have no feeling in my heart, no thought in my brain; but I
soon recovered. I got the good sister who attends upon you to tell me
all; and, by prayers and entreaties and the gold cross I used to wear, I
induced her to bring me here, telling her that you are my husband,--my
own wedded husband. But I promised her, Edward, not to agitate you or
talk to you too much, and only to stay five minutes."

"Oh, stay, Lucette! stay!" said Edward, forgetting all consequences.
"Dearest girl, do not leave me! Lord Montagu will be back to-morrow.
Must you go on to Turin?"

"Remember your promise to the cardinal, Edward," she answered. "I must
remember mine to good Sister Agatha. If I break my promises to others,
you will not believe mine to you,--although I fear I have already
somewhat failed, and agitated you more than I intended."

"Five minutes have not passed yet," said the youth, feeling that she was
about to rise from her knees, where she had hitherto remained. "Oh, no!
it is but an instant since you came, dearest! Another kiss, dear
Lucette. Could I have had them before, I should have been well ere
this." He took another, and not only one; and, between, he told her he
was really better, and would soon be well, and that he would try some
means to see her soon, and at the end of two years would seek her as his
wife, whoever might oppose; and she on her part promised that he should
not seek in vain, but should find her ever ready to go with him to the
ends of the earth.

But the five minutes were certainly outstayed; and Lucette's heart was
reproaching her, and Edward was thinking how he could ever part with
her, when the door opened again, and Sister Agatha came in to remind the
poor girl of her promise.

It was a hard parting,--harder, perhaps, than it had been before; and
many another word had to be spoken and many another kiss to be taken ere
they could separate. Sister Agatha was no restraint upon them, and, to
say sooth, entered into their feelings with sympathies not altogether
consistent with her vows. What they said she could not understand, for
they spoke in English; and, though she had a certain portion of French
and a good deal more of Italian, the rich Anglo-Saxon tongue was to the
good old soul a most harsh and unintelligible jargon, and she wondered
that such pretty lips as Lucette's could pronounce the hideous sounds.
The five minutes were lengthened to half an hour after her arrival, for
Lucette felt she was breaking no promise when the person to whom it had
been made was present and not an unconsenting party; but in the end
Sister Agatha insisted that they should part, asking Lucette in a
reproachful tone if she would kill the poor young man.

"I have been selfish," said Lucette, rising from the edge of the bed
where she had been sitting; and, kissing him once more, with a long,
tender, lingering kiss, she left him.

Thus they parted, not to meet again for a longer period than they
anticipated. They could hardly be said to have seen each other, for
Sister Agatha had left her lamp at the door, and the ray of moonlight
which Lucette had let in was very faint; but that interview, short as it
had been, was something for memory to fix upon during many months.

The first effect upon Edward Langdale was what Sister Agatha had
dreaded. It had agitated him much, and for more than one hour after
Lucette had left him his heart beat and his brain throbbed, and sleep
deserted him as if she never would return. But the reaction was balmy.
He had met her again; he had held her in his arms; he had tasted once
more the honey of her lips; and there was a sort of superstitious
feeling about him as if a bad spell had been broken. He had felt a dread
till then that some old rhyme he had heard in his young days was to be
verified in his own case. It was somewhat to the following effect,
though I know not if memory retains it rightly:--

    "They had met, they had loved, they had parted,
    And met no more till both were broken-hearted."

It had haunted him, that old distich, ever since he left Lucette under
the care of the Duc de Rohan; but now the vision was dispelled. They had
met again, and his Lucette loved him still as warmly, fondly, as he
could wish. It was a dexter omen; and, with more faith than ever Roman
augur possessed, he interpreted it to forebode future happiness. Joy,
however, is wakeful as well as sorrow; and, even after the first effect
of agitation and excitement had passed away, he lay sleepless and
thoughtful, but very, very happy. He remembered many a word he could
have wished to have uttered, many a question he would willingly have
asked; but the great question of the heart was answered. She loved him
still unchanged; and Edward was at a time of life when hope and trust
were sure to rise out of such assurance. Gradually fatigue and
exhaustion did their work upon the body, and, through the body, upon the
mind. Had there been trouble in the spirit, he might, and probably
would, have slept a few minutes, from mere weariness, to wake speedily
with irritation, if not fever. But the heart was at rest; and as soon as
his eyes closed he slept like a wearied but happy child, calmly,
profoundly, long, and only woke some three hours after every other
person in the abbey. His look was relieved, his color better, his eyes
more bright. During that night he had made the first rapid stride toward
convalescence.

Oh, if physicians would but take pains to discover whether the malady
lies most in the mind or the body, what cures might be performed!--if
they could but find the medicine! But happiness is a mithridate so
compound and so fine that, search over the world, you will find few
places where it can be procured, and never--alas! never--pure and
unadulterated. That villanous serpent has left his slime on every thing.

The whole day Edward Langdale waited impatiently for the return of Lord
Montagu; but he waited in vain: Lord Montagu did not appear. Another and
another day passed: still he was absent. Young men calculate not the
many impediments which lie between design and performance. "He could
easily do this; he might easily have done that," is the constant cry;
when in truth it would have been impossible for the person spoken of to
have done any thing more than he did do. The smallest thing in the world
overthrows the grandest scheme, frustrates the most positive assurance.
Is it accident,--that refuge of the destitute? Is it not rather the
quiet intervention of that ruling Power which, foreseeing all man's
acts, bends the results to the accomplishment of his own predetermined
purposes?

Edward Langdale was impatient. Strength was returning fast: when he
coughed, his handkerchief came from his lips unstained with blood; his
wound was nearly healed, and he longed to pursue his career of active
exertion. But he did not know that the Duke of Savoy had been out to
kill deer in the mountains, and that Lord Montagu was forced to wait
his return. In the mean time, however, he rose earlier each day. He went
out; he roamed round the abbey; he visited the city; and the only thing
which retarded his complete recovery was his impatience. He was eager to
get on,--too eager. He had always been too eager; but there was a great
difference between his eagerness now and that of former years. Hitherto
he had been moved only by the vague, aspiring hope of youth,--so often
disappointed till the frost of age and the chill of adversity have
withered the plant and blighted the flower and destroyed the fruit under
the bud,--the hope of doing something great in life. Now he had a more
definite object, a clearer purpose. It was Lucette.



CHAPTER XXX.


The expression of Lord Montagu's face when he at length rejoined his
page at Aix was calm and well satisfied, cheerful, but not particularly
gay. Yet Edward, who had enjoyed many opportunities of witnessing the
effect of various emotions upon him, clearly perceived that he returned
with full success. Had his mood been merrier, the page might have
doubted; had he been full of the playful wit or the light jest which
distinguished the cavaliers of those days, the youth might have supposed
there was disappointment under the levity; but that quiet and composed
demeanor he knew meant success. Their first meeting was at the inn where
Montagu had lodged while previously at Aix; for the youth had gone down
each evening for the last two or three days to watch for his arrival:
but on the night in question his lord had ridden into the town some
half-hour before the time he was expected; and when Edward entered his
chamber he was sitting with a book in one hand and a spoon in the other,
lightly running over the pages, and from time to time taking a spoonful
of soup flavored with those delicious truffles of Savoy which have
often kept kingly couriers running between Paris and Turin.

"Ah, Ned!" he exclaimed, as soon as he saw the lad. "You have recovered
wonderfully soon: a little pale still; but that is natural. How say you?
can you ride forward three days hence?"

"Whenever your lordship pleases," answered Edward. "I am only eager to
get on; and this inactivity does me more harm than all the exercise in
the world. I am quite well, my lord, and only a little weak."

"Do not be impatient," answered Montagu, with a smile. "We cannot go on
just yet. Oakingham is ill now, poor fellow! I have ridden too fast for
him; and he broke down during the last stage, and has gone to bed. So I
am without any one to write my letters for me to-night."

"Can your lordship trust the task to me?" asked the young man.

"Oh, trust you? Certainly, Ned," replied the other. "But will it not
hurt you?"

Edward expressed his readiness; and the letters were written, full of
that well-satisfied confidence which in this world is so often destined
to disappointment. Fate is no better than a fine silk stocking, in which
one stitch or another is sure to run down ere we have taken a dozen
steps in the ball-room of the world: well if it be not rent from top to
toe! There are no key-stones in the architecture of our designs; and, if
a pebble slips, woe be to the whole edifice!

But we are getting a little ahead of the story, or, at least,
foreshadowing conclusions which should be reserved in solemn secrecy for
the moment of their occurrence.

The letters being written, one of the noble lord's grooms was called up,
furnished with money and directions, and departed to bear the missives
to their several destinations as rapidly and as carefully as he could.

"There goes another," said Montagu. "That is the fifth courier I have
sent off this week. Upon my word, Ned, if it had not been for your
coming with two lackeys and two blacksmiths I should soon have been
without any train at all. But you seem not to love your two
blacksmiths, my boy. What has set your face against them? Have they
lamed your horse, or found you out in a love-affair with the landlord's
daughter, cheated you of two _livres Tournois_, or eaten the only fish
upon a _jour maigre_?"

"None of all those great offences, my lord," replied Edward. "They are
good smiths; I have not been fortunate with mine host's daughters; their
charges are compassionate to youths without experience; and no trout
that I know of has slipped off my own hook. But one of them I am certain
I saw in the court of the chateau at Nantes; and I like not the
countenance of either."

"Pshaw!" said Lord Montagu. "Do you give way to the superstition of
physiognomy? Why, cut me across the nose with the back-handed blow of a
spadroon, and you make a marvellous ill-favored fellow out of a gay
gentleman who has not been thought unpersonable. Nonsense, nonsense,
Edward! The best nuts have the roughest shells. The diamond itself is
but like a pebble-stone till it is cut and polished. And where in the
fiend's name should either of these two poor devils get ground down or
burnished?"

"Well, my lord, I say not a word against them," answered Edward. "They
told a true tale, it seems, as to their journey. To me they were
wonderfully kind when I was hurt. Neither do I mind mere ugliness: that
is God's doing; and it may be as a warning to others, or it may not: I
cannot tell. But there is a sort of look--an expression--which men beget
in themselves by their habitual acts or thoughts, which is a great
truth-teller, I think. Now, these men look cunning. Each of them
squints, too, more or less. One cannot see whom or what they are looking
at."

Lord Montagu broke into a gay laugh. "As if every man," he said, "should
be condemned who does not square his gaze by line and rule. Out upon it,
Ned! If ever you fall in love, you will need an astrolabe to measure the
exact angles of your beauty's lustrous orbs. Why, some of the best men
in England squint like a green parrot. More lucky they, if they can see
both sides of every thing at once. But I will show you a man to-night
who shall come up to even your ideas of perfection. He ought to be here
about this hour. Oh, he is a marvel of beauty and grace!"

Thus saying, he knocked hard with the hilt of his dagger upon the table,
and one of the servants of the inn appeared. "Show in the illustrious
Signor Morini whenever he comes," said Lord Montagu: "we must not keep
so great and amiable a personage waiting."

"He is here now, monseigneur," answered the servant.

"Well, conduct him hither," answered the English gentleman, "and tell my
servant to give you a bottle of that delicious Italian wine which I sent
on from Turin. Three Venice glasses, too, must be brought, and a small
plate of sugared peaches."

The waiter retired, and, a moment or two after, one of the most singular
figures entered the room that Edward had ever seen. It was that of a
man, not old, but past the middle age, dressed in the height of the
fashion, beribboned and belaced, with a long rapier by his side, which
would have touched the ground had it even been borne upon the thigh of a
tall man. But Signor Morini was not a tall man: on the contrary, he was
certainly not more than four feet two or three inches in height, with a
back bent into the shape of the bow of a double-bass. He was thin, too,
and his face--with the exception of the eyes, which were large and
lustrous--was of that peculiar ugliness which is frequently seen in the
deformed, the features all packed together and looking as if they had
been pinched to get them into a smaller space.

No consciousness of ugliness appeared in his demeanor, however,--no
timidity, no shyness. He entered with the strut of a bantam-cock, while
his rich but short cloak, borne out by the round of his back so as to
hang far off from his person, afforded no bad image of the tail of the
bird. He saluted Lord Montagu with ceremonious respect, and stared at
Edward Langdale with an unwinking gaze which was almost insolent,
smoothing down the little sharp tuft of sandy-colored hair which adorned
his chin in the form of what was then called a royal, with an air of
ineffable puppyism.

"Ah, my lord," he said, in French, "you see I kept my word and was at
Aix two days before you. But who is this young gentleman? I do not know
him. He was not in your suite at Turin, I believe."

"This is my young friend and gentleman, Monsieur de Langdale," answered
Lord Montagu, with much assumed politeness. "Let me present him to you,
Signor Morini. He is a philosopher like yourself, and deals, as you do,
in the great science of physiognomy, though of course his youth places
him far behind you in knowledge."

Edward and Morini exchanged bows and salutations, the latter either not
at all perceiving, or not appearing to perceive, that there was a vein
of jest running through Lord Montagu's politeness which might not have
been very flattering to his vanity. "Ha! a philosopher!" he exclaimed.
"I am right glad to see any one who, in these degenerate times, devotes
himself to the only great, pure, and noble pursuits on which the mind of
a man can expatiate. What is the particular science to which you have
most addicted yourself, young gentleman? What have you lately been
studying?"

"Nothing," replied Edward, almost inclined to be rude. "My lord does me
too much honor in calling me a philosopher."

"Nay, nay," said Montagu, laughing: "if I may judge from letters I have
received, and from what you yourself have told me, you have been lately
studying much,--fair ladies' hearts and prime ministers' heads,--Ned. He
has quite captivated a duchess and smoothed down a cardinal. But what he
means, learned signor, is, that, having been badly wounded by a sword
which let rather too much daylight into the dark chamber of his chest,
his only study was to get well again."

"Did you anoint the blade?" asked Morini: "the blade should always be
anointed at the proper hour of the moon. Had I been here he would have
been well in a few days."

"Probably," said Montagu, gravely; "but we had no one but poor, ignorant
surgeons, who forgot the precaution you mention."

"Ah, they are stupid and hard-headed creatures," replied the other:
"they never consider that man is composed of an animal and an ethereal
part indissolubly linked together, each depending upon the other, and
both affected by higher influences. The sympathies which exist between
all created things they take into no account. The compelling powers of
the whole heavenly host upon the human frame, upon every part
thereof,--upon man as an animal, upon man as an angel, upon man's whole
fate and destiny, upon his mixed and separate natures,--are mere visions
to them; and the time will come, my lord, when this mere material view
will prevail over all the earth: intelligence--spirit--will be
superseded, and engines will be invented to do the work of mind as well
as matter. Where was your wound, young gentleman?"

"Here on the right breast the sword entered," answered Edward; "and it
went out here, just under the shoulder."

"A dangerous wound!" replied the little man, gravely. "None but a
brother's hand could have inflicted that wound and the sufferer
survive."

Lord Montagu and Edward both started; but Morini went on, without
seeming to perceive their surprise. "Nature abhors," he said, "such
acts, and often frustrates them. The crime of Cain--the first and most
terrible the world ever saw, the origin of death, the eldest-born of
evil--is repugnant to every thing animate and inanimate. Fibres and
tissues join which seem rent apart forever, and humours flow of
themselves, nerves act without cause, all to repair the consequences of
the terrible act, while thunders fall to prevent it and rocks to hide
it. But what is written up there must be,--shall be; and it is possible
this very wound, given by a brother's hand, may work great changes in
your life."

"I trust it will," said Edward.

"But how did you know it was so given?" asked Lord Montagu.

"By the simplest of all means," replied Morini: "from knowing it could
be given in no other way."

As he spoke, he turned round sharply, for the door behind him opened
suddenly. It was but two of the servants of the inn, bringing in the
wine and the Venice glasses; and their coming so laden was certainly not
at all unpleasant to the learned signor, who did full justice not only
to the wine but to the confections also. While the party regaled
themselves, the conversation wandered to many topics,--some of little,
some of much, interest, with variety always agreeable. Indeed, Morini,
who undoubtedly led, did not suffer it to rest long upon any subject. He
spoke of several of the most celebrated people of Europe, of that and of
the preceding age. He had seen King James, he said, shaking his head. "I
did think," he said, "that homely sovereign would never have died a
natural death, for he certainly brought a dark and bloody cloud over the
royal house of England. But you will remark, my lord, I could never
obtain clearly the particulars of his nativity; otherwise I could not
have been mistaken. However, the aspects in the horoscope of his
successor are more unfavorable still, I hear."

"Now, Heaven forefend!" said Lord Montagu, warmly: "he is a right noble
monarch, and, though the commonalty do fret and storm, he is too strong
and firm for them to shake him. But what say you of the great and
gallant Duke of Buckingham, signor? There is a man born to success and
honor."

"His star has passed its culminating-point," said Morini: "there is
something dark and sad behind. His life cannot be long. Perhaps he may
die upon the battle-field in this new war; but I think it more likely he
will receive his death in a private encounter. He is hot and fiery, they
say. Such a thing is probable."

Montagu shook his head. "Few things less probable," he said: "there are
not many men in England who would venture to call Buckingham to the
field; and, though his is so free and noble a spirit that he would very
likely consent to meet any one of gentle blood, yet he would not
willingly offend the king by such rashness."

"Well, 'tis a foolish practice," said Morini, changing the
subject,--"ay, and a barbarous one too, my lord. We derive it from the
worst and rudest times of history. Who ever heard of a Roman or a Greek
fighting a duel? Yet they were brave men, those ancients."

"Yet you go well armed, signor," said Lord Montagu, pointing to his long
rapier, with a smile.

"It is good always to be prepared," answered the other. "Besides, this
rapier has many qualities and perfections, for which I value it. The
blade is true Toledo, the sheath wrought by Jean of Cordova. Then the
hilt, you see, is of silver, exquisitely cast by Cellini's own hand. Did
you ever see a more graceful group than the two figures which compose
it?--a warrior putting his hand to his sword, and a young girl with her
arm round his neck pressing the weapon back into the sheath,--types of
courage and moderation. The dagger is a curious relic of the feudal
times,--a kill-villain, as the young Genoese nobles used to call it. We
have no such handiwork as that now, my lord," he continued, as Montagu
examined the weapon. "'Tis curious how arts and sciences are lost, and
how, whilst mankind deem they are making great progress, they are
falling back in one path as much as they are advancing in another."

Edward Langdale went round to Lord Montagu's side and gazed at the
workmanship of the sword and dagger over his shoulder, murmuring, as he
did so, "Beautiful, indeed!"--much to Morini's satisfaction.

"You seem to be a judge of such things, young gentleman," said the
Italian.

"But little," said Edward: "my father, indeed, had some fine specimens
of art which he had brought over to England from this country; but any
one who sees a beautiful and graceful figure, well executed, must know
and admire it."

"Your pardon! your pardon!" cried Morini. "The eye and the taste both
want educating. Had you not seen and admired those objects of your
father's, you would probably not have discovered the beauty of this. If
you stay long in Aix, I can show you some other things well worth your
observation."

"My stay depends entirely upon my lord," replied Edward; "but I think if
he have no further commands I must retire to the abbey, for it is late."

"I will accompany you part of the way," said Morini, rising.

"Nay," said Lord Montagu, "you forget you came here for a special
purpose, my good signor. Edward can go; for, though he has faith in
physiognomy, he has none in astrology, I believe; but you must stay
with me a little longer. Come early to-morrow, Ned, and bring your two
men with you."

"It is wrong, my lord," said the Italian, "very wrong, to put full faith
in an uncertain science and refuse it to a certain one. But I will
convince him in a moment before he goes home. Come hither, young
gentleman, and let me speak a word in your ear."

Edward went round to the side of the table where he was still standing,
and bent his head a little. Morini dexterously placed himself between
the young man and his lord and slipped a folded paper into his hand,
whispering, "Read when you get home."

"Are you now convinced?" continued the Italian, aloud; but Edward, while
bending down his head to listen, had kept his eyes raised thoughtfully
to Montagu, and he saw--what the other had not seen--that his lord was
not unaware of what had passed. He kept the paper in his hand, however,
and took his leave; but, determined that, if needful, Lord Montagu
should know the contents of the paper that very night, he called for a
light at the foot of the stairs. He found a note in his hand, neatly
folded, and tied with silk. It was addressed to him, and, on opening it,
he saw a few lines beautifully written in a woman's hand, and, at the
bottom of the page, "Lucette."

All other thoughts were gone; and he hurried to the abbey to read in a
less exposed place.



CHAPTER XXXI.


    "MY BELOVED HUSBAND:--I think you will be glad to hear of me after
    my leaving you so shortly a few nights since. We have reached Turin
    in safety, and without accident; but it was a weary journey for me,
    as every step took me farther from the place where I wished to
    remain. We are going on to Venice in three days, and there I am to
    be placed with a Madame de la Cour, a cousin of the Duc de Rohan,
    and a distant relation, I am told, of my own. I am glad of it, for I
    cannot love the duchess. I trust this to the care of an Italian
    gentleman going to Aix. He passes for an astrologer; and Madame de
    Rohan, who is very superstitious, receives him with great
    distinction. She would fain have had him draw the horoscope of all
    the household, and we each had audiences apart. But I could tell him
    nothing of my own birth,--neither date, nor time, nor place. He,
    however, contrived to draw from me, before I well knew it, something
    of my history, and has promised to take this and deliver it to you
    secretly, if I write it quickly. He knows Lord Montagu, and is to
    join him at Aix. Perhaps I have been imprudent to tell him any
    thing; but his questions were so artfully shaped that I knew not how
    to answer; and I cannot resist the temptation of sending you these
    few words, to let you know where I am and where a letter will find
    me. Whenever a change occurs, I will try to find means of letting
    you know, in order that when our long period of separation is over
    you may be aware where to find your LUCETTE."

Such were the lines upon which Edward's eyes rested as soon as he
reached his room in the abbey; and, though very simple, they gave him
matter for thought during one-half of the night. That thought was all
sweet; but on the following morning other considerations suggested
themselves. He felt certain that Lord Montagu had seen Morini slip the
paper into his hand; and there had been so much and such unusual
confidence between the master and the page that Edward shrank from the
idea of its being shaken even by a suspicion. Yet he could not resolve
to put the note into Montagu's hands. Lucette's love had something
sacred in it in his eyes, and, with the shyness of early affection, he
could not bear the idea of even a jest upon the subject. He thought long
while he was dressing: the servants came and went, and he had almost
forgotten to tell them to follow him to the town, when Pierrot himself
brought the matter to his mind by mentioning Lord Montagu's return as a
rumor of the abbey.

The youth then set out for the city on foot, without having at all
settled how he should act in regard to Lucette's letter. It is
extraordinary how trifles sometimes embarrass us more than matters of
deep moment. He had faced Richelieu himself, conscious that life hung
upon the caprice or the accident of a moment, without half the
hesitation he now felt. He did at last what he might as well have done
at first,--left the direction of the matter to chance; for chance,
unfriendly on most occasions, generally supplies us with an opportunity
of acting rightly in embarrassing circumstances, if we have but the wit
to take advantage of it.

When Edward entered Lord Montagu's room, he found the learned Signor
Morini already there, with some papers, covered with strange characters,
on a table between him and the English nobleman. Montagu gathered up the
papers quickly and spoke to his page, without any allusion to the
subject which principally occupied the young man's thoughts. His speech
seemed somewhat dry, however, and Edward saw that the Italian gazed at
him with meaning looks. A sudden thought struck him as Lord Montagu
turned the conversation with Morini to some common topic, and, waiting
till there was a momentary pause, he said, "By-the-way, Signor Morini,
where did you leave the lady from whom you brought me a note last night?
Had she gone on toward Venice?"

The Italian changed not a muscle, but replied, deliberately, "Yes: she
went in the morning. I set out in the afternoon."

"Ho, ho! Signor Morini!" cried Montagu, laughing: "so you condescend to
be Venus's messenger, do you?"

"Well may your lordship say Venus," replied Morini; "for a more
beautiful little creature never rose from the sea or brightened the
land. But your lordship will bear me witness that I betrayed no secrets.
It was the young gentleman himself."

"I have betrayed no secret," said Edward, gayly, for he felt relieved.
"Lord Montagu has never seen the young lady,--does not even know her
name; and there is no cause why I should conceal that a lady has written
to me."

"A young lady!" said Montagu, thoughtfully. "Now I have it. The Duchess
of Rohan was at Turin; she had with her a cousin or a niece,--as pretty
a little creature as I ever beheld. Ha, Edward! so you took care on
your long journey to guard yourself against the charms of the
innkeepers' daughters. Now I understand a good deal. And pray, Ned, how
much of the time you consumed is to be attributed to the attractions of
this pretty fair one?"

"Not a moment, my lord," replied Edward,--"unless it be that when she
was stricken with the fever of the Marais I stayed with her a few days,
rather than leave a lady confided to my care amongst a people almost
savage and in a rude country. I might perhaps have forced my way on more
quickly had I been alone; but by that time I had accepted the charge;
and I will ask your lordship if I could have refused to see a lady of
high rank safely to the Duc de Rohan or the Prince de Soubise, her
relations, when the only alternative was for her to be shut up in
Rochelle during the horrors of a siege, and when the task was pressed
upon me by those who had nursed me tenderly and saved my life by their
care. All we contemplated at first was a journey of a few hours; but
would your lordship have left her when a series of unfortunate mishaps
had cast her, sick and in danger, upon the care of perfect strangers?
Could you have left any woman?"

"Perhaps not, Master Ned," said Lord Montagu, laughing,--"especially if
she were as young and as pretty as the lady I saw. The only question is
why you did not tell me all this before. Concealment between friends is
a bad thing, Edward, and in this case might breed a suspicion that you
had been trifling your time away with the pretty girl who is now sending
you love-letters."

"I did not even imply that the letter was a love-letter," replied
Edward; "and, moreover,----"

"I will return to your lordship in an hour or two," said Morini, rising
and approaching the door: "at present I have some business."

"I was going to say," continued Edward, resuming the subject which he
had dropped as Morini spoke, "if your lordship would consider, you would
see that I have not yet had time to tell you one-half that has happened
to me."

"Well, well," answered Montagu, good-humoredly, "no need of any
excuses, Ned. I do not doubt you. Young men are young men, all the world
over; and you have fewer of their faults and more of their best
qualities than any one of your age I ever met with. Besides, your
conduct this day would clear away all suspicions of your frankness, if I
had any. I saw that crouch-backed Italian give you a billet secretly
last night; and, had you concealed the fact from me, I might have
thought it had reference to an intrigue more within my competence than a
love-affair. But you spoke of it frankly, and that cleared my mind; for,
to say truth, I had some doubts----"

"Not of me, I trust, my lord?" said Edward, somewhat mortified.

"No, not exactly of you," replied Montagu, thoughtfully, "but great
doubts of that man. Do you know who he is?--or, rather, what he is?"

"I know nothing of him, my lord," replied the youth. "I never saw him or
heard of him till last night."

"And yet he knew all about your having been wounded by your own brother.
You will make even me believe in occult sciences," answered Montagu.

"That piece of knowledge is easily accounted for," said Edward. "He
learned that from Lucette. She stayed at the abbey with Madame de Rohan
as they passed, heard all my story from the good sisters, and, in her
anxiety to write to me, suffered him to draw the facts from her."

"Oh, it was from Lucette, was it?" asked Montagu, with a smile. "Well,
that explains all, and without any secrecy, if you are sure it is so."

"She speaks of it in her letter," answered Edward, "and blames herself
for indiscretion. But your lordship asked me but now if I knew what
Signor Morini is. What can he be but a well-read quack?"

"He is something more than that," replied Montagu, lowering his voice.
"He is a most cunning intriguant. He is more than that. He is an agent
of the Cardinal de Richelieu; and I could not be certain that the note
you received last night did not contain strong inducements for you to
betray me."

"He would be a bold man to offer them to me, my lord," replied Edward,
warmly; "but there was nothing of the kind. The possibility of such a
thing, however, forces me to do what nothing else would have induced me
to think of,--namely, to show you the letter. There it is, my lord. In
regard to all that concerns myself and the writer, I must beg you to ask
me no questions. If there can be found in it any thing that affects your
lordship, interrogate me, if you will; and I will answer all frankly."

Montagu looked at the address of the letter, and, perhaps, had some
desire to see more; for where is the breast without some share of that
small vice called curiosity? but he returned it unopened, saying, "I am
quite satisfied, Ned. But you must understand: we are living in an age
of intrigue. Each man is playing a game which has no laws. And in cases
where the strong arm of power cannot reach--where no soldiers or sailors
can be employed--friends, acquaintances, attendants, pages, must be
gained to obtain this or that advantage for an adverse politician. You
know not how widely this is practised,--how many devoted confidants of
great men are also the confidants of their bitterest enemies,--what
hosts of spies surround every man in eminent station. You know little of
all this; but in France and Italy the evil system is carried further,
deeper, lower than anywhere else; and it was very natural for me to
suppose that this man, whom I know to be an emissary of Richelieu,
should attempt to seduce you, and to find it hardly possible to suppose
that when Richelieu had you wholly in his power he did not personally
aim at the same object. The thought never struck me till last night; but
then it flashed across my mind vividly, and would seem to explain how he
let you go so easily."

Edward smiled bitterly. "This is somewhat hard!" he said. "And thus, my
lord, my good fortune in escaping safe from a most perilous situation
has shaken your trust in my honesty?"

"Not at all," replied Montagu: "he may have attempted you without
success, or you may have promised him, in order to save your neck, what
you did not intend to perform. I do not believe that you would really
betray me for any consideration: on my soul I do not!--no, not for life!
But tell me, Ned; in your conversation with that Eminence, did he never
desire you to write him of my movements, or perchance to send him some
of my letters, or copies thereof, or give him intimation of whom I
correspond with?"

"No, my lord! no!" replied Edward, warmly. "He never did. He never
hinted at or insinuated such a desire. Your name was never mentioned but
once or twice in the last interview I had with him. Then he said, so far
as I can recollect his words, 'You may say to Lord Montagu that the
cardinal treated you well,--liberally,--and, although he had every right
to stop you, sent you on to Lord Montagu, though he knew your errand and
his. Compliment his lordship for me!' This was the only time that your
name was mentioned, my lord; and till toward the close of that interview
I did not know that his Eminence was aware I was attached to your
household."

"That is strange!" said Montagu, gravely. "He knew your errand and mine,
and yet let us both go forward! We form a different estimate of his
character in England."

"At the risk of making your lordship still suspect he has gained me,"
said Edward, "I must say that I cannot but believe the cardinal has many
high and noble qualities. Some evening--perchance the time may come
again--when I may be permitted to pass a few hours in calm conversation
with your lordship, as in days of yore, I will repeat, as nearly as I
can remember, all that passed between his Eminence and myself. You will
then see why I think so highly of him. But now I cannot conceive why,
knowing this man Morini as you seem to know him,--an agent of Richelieu,
a spy, and a charlatan,--you suffer him to hang about you, and give him
the opportunity of tampering with your servants or perhaps even stealing
your letters and despatches. I cannot believe that your lordship has any
faith in his pretended science."

Montagu looked at him for a moment with a somewhat doubtful smile. "As
to my believing in his pretended science, as you call it," he said, "I
neither altogether believe nor disbelieve. There is such a thing in the
world as a state of doubt, Ned,--a state where assent is not given nor
dissent entertained. But what is this pretended science you speak of?
Astrology has a very wide meaning, though circumscribed to its mere
etymological sense it seems very narrow. But even in that sense I see
not why it should be rejected altogether. Are not the stars mere
creatures of God, obeying his will, following his impulses? Were they
created for some purpose, or for none? Various men will tell you that
their functions are this or that. Now, the astrologer says they are the
real handwriting on the wall of heaven, announcing to those who can read
them the fate of nations and of men. Writing in stars! What a
magnificent thought! I have heard men object that those golden
characters are so few and the human race so numerous that the several
fortunes of all men could not be written by them. But such people forget
that the motions of the stars are infinitely complex, that the relative
position of every star to every other forms a new combination and may
foreshadow a different event to each one of those born under their
influence. Thus, if the human race be protracted to eternity, or the
numbers now existing be multiplied by myriads, the various positions of
those bright characters to each other in the course of time would be
more than sufficient to indicate the fate of every man that ever can be
born. I say not that they do indicate, but that they may. These things
must always remain doubtful till repeated verification gives more
convincing proof. I hold my mind open to receive or to reject; but, in
the mean time, I do not neglect opportunities of obtaining means for
forming a just opinion."

Lord Montagu might be in some degree amusing himself by puzzling his
young companion, or he might not; but there can be no doubt that a great
portion of the well-educated and many of the greatest men of his day
believed at least as much as he seemed to believe of judicial astrology.
Indeed, no picture of those times would be correct which did not display
this peculiar aspect of the human mind. The great reformers of science
had not yet appeared, or were little known; and the mind of Bacon itself
was but beginning to have its influence in leading the minds of others
into the course of truth and certainty.

But Edward Langdale had a great fondness for the definite, not
original,--perhaps, for he was of a somewhat poetical disposition,--but
acquired by the rubbing and chafing of the hard world; and he returned
pertinaciously to his point. "However that may be, my lord," he said, "I
cannot believe that your desire for opportunities of judging on these
abstract points can be the cause of your giving such opportunities to a
man whom you believe to be an enemy and a rascal. You must have some
other motives for tolerating the Signor Morini about you, and appointing
to meet him here, than a desire to test the science of astrology. What
they are I cannot divine."

Montagu laughed. "Thou wilt be satisfied, Ned!" he said. "That man is
better here than at Turin. Do you understand me? He is better under my
eye than intriguing unobserved at the court of Savoy. He may tamper with
my attendants, but I am upon my guard; and I would rather that he
tampered with them than with the duke's counsellors. To me he can do
little harm while I am forewarned and forearmed against him; but he
might do much to the cause of England if he were left with a hesitating
court to plant a word here and a purse of gold there as they might be
needed. Yet what I said about astrology is true, and this very man's
firm belief in it rather tends to make the balance in my mind lean that
way; for he is keen, philosophical, worldly, learned."

"But does he really believe firmly in it?" asked Edward. "Is it not with
him a mere cloak and a pretence?"

"He has suffered it to lure him here," answered Lord Montagu, "when no
other inducement would have brought him. He will allow it to keep him
here three days longer, when in truth he is all anxiety to hurry into
France and tell the cardinal what he has discovered. I have played him
as your skilful angler plays a lively fish. Once his ruling passion
discovered, I have led him by it where I wished. It was like a ring in a
bull's nose, which he was forced to follow, with or against his will."

"Then does your lordship propose to stay three more days in Aix?" asked
the page.

"Ay, or till I receive one more note from Scaglia," answered Montagu.
"Then all will be settled irrevocably: Signor Morini may bestow himself
where he will, and we may do so likewise. You are impatient to hurry on,
I see. Impatience is youth's quality, deliberation is man's; and so, my
boy, you must keep your wishes tranquil, for I certainly shall not put
spurs to mine."

"Of course, my lord, I must only follow where you lead," answered
Edward, gayly. "I dare say your lordship believes I should bear the
delay more patiently in Venice, and I will not deny the fact; but I
suppose there is no time to go thither ere we depart."

"No, no, Ned! no!" replied Montagu. "I will not trust you near that
little siren again while we have business in hand,--at least till you
learn the great art of the present day, to let love and policy go hand
in hand and yet never let the former impede the latter."

"A difficult task," said Edward.

"Ay," answered Montagu; "and those who try it and miss often find a
bloody pillow. But here comes Morini again."

Edward immediately took his leave, and retired to obtain a chamber for
himself in the inn, where he could meditate over the conversation which
had just passed. It was satisfactory to him that his connection with
Lucette had been acknowledged. He had previously shrunk from the thought
of all mention of the subject to Lord Montagu, with the sensitive
timidity of early love; but now the ice was broken, and he feared no
more. But one point in that conversation was very painful to him. He saw
that, if Montagu did not absolutely suspect him, his lord's confidence,
which had hitherto been unbounded, was shaken. It was in vain Edward
said to himself, "These great men are bound to be suspicious." There was
a voice within him which always added, "At all events, he ought not to
suspect me."

His musings were not suffered to continue long uninterrupted, however.
Pierrot and Jacques Beaupré soon arrived with the horses. The two junior
pages of Lord Montagu--Henry Freeland and George Abbot--came to see him,
and he himself had to visit the chamber of Mr. Oakingham, a companion of
Lord Montagu's, who was travelling with him in no very well-defined
capacity. Oakingham was still ill from over-fatigue, and Edward sat
with him for some time, trying to amuse and soothe him. Thus passed the
greater part of the morning, and the two following days were fully
occupied by preparations for departure; but the thought that Lord
Montagu confided in him less still rankled in Edward's mind. He thought
he perceived evidences of doubt in many things where perhaps no doubt
existed; and he said to himself, more than once, "I cannot bear it
long." The time, however, was rapidly approaching when, according to the
custom of those days, Lord Montagu would feel it incumbent upon him to
provide for his young friend, either in the army or at the court; and
Edward resolved to wait and be patient as long as it was possible.



CHAPTER XXXII.


From Aix to Ramilly and Geneva was all safe enough. From Geneva through
Franche-Comté, as I have before explained, had no perils; but a small
piece of country in Lorraine and Bar, where the road ran along the
frontier of France, and, as some statesmen and geographers asserted,
actually crossed it and passed through French territory for at least
three miles, was in reality the perilous part of Lord Montagu's journey.

That nobleman, however, seemed to consider himself very secure. He had
so recently almost bearded the lion in his den with impunity, he had
with such reckless freedom gone from one part of France itself to
another without being stopped, that he thought there would be little
risk in approaching a remote and somewhat poorly-peopled frontier or
passing over a small space of debatable ground. He did not know, or he
forgot, that the keen eyes of the fearless and unscrupulous French
minister had been opened to his proceedings; that Richelieu had assumed
a more bold and stern course of policy than ever; that personal
hatred--perhaps, as some assert, personal rivalry--rendered it necessary
for the cardinal to know in order to frustrate the efforts of his
magnificent though very inferior adversary on the British side of the
channel; and that no price, no labor, no violence even, would be
considered too much which would place the designs and operations of
Buckingham before the cabinet of France. He rode gayly, therefore, on
his way,--though, in order not to attract too much attention, he sent
forward several of his English attendants by a different road to meet
him at Metz, and kept with him only Mr. Oakingham, Edward Langdale, a
valet, and the two blacksmiths, with an ordinary groom.

This little party, on the evening of a beautiful autumnal day, rode
along with tired horses through the little wood of Mirecourt, issued
forth upon the side of the dry calcareous hill to the west, and looked
anxiously for some place of rest. No one was well acquainted with the
road; the horses were heavy-laden, for each besides his rider carried a
heavy valise and two bags in front; and the whole morning had been
passed in going up and down hill through an arid and almost deserted
country. Some scattered houses, and then a nice clean village and a
small but neat country inn, all gathered together in a little dell
shaded with trees, at length gladdened the eyes of the weary travellers;
and Lord Montagu, as was his custom, applied himself to make his sojourn
comfortable for the hour, leaving his followers to enjoy themselves as
best they could. He laughed and joked with the pretty Lorrainese
landlady as with her own hands she laid the table for his dinner; he
took out a book from his valise, and, with his feet upon one chair and
his body on another, rejoiced in the ease of a new position, and, when
his dinner at last came, ate with moderation but good appetite, and
called a glow of satisfaction into the cheek of his hostess by
pronouncing it the best meal he had ever tasted.

In the mean time, Mr. Oakingham had taken some refreshments and gone to
bed; the valet had remained in the room with his lord, to serve him at
table; the blacksmiths and the groom had gone to the stable; and Edward
Langdale seemed the only unquiet spirit of the party. He ate but little;
he drank less; he sat down; he rose up; he went out several times,
either to the front of the house or the back; he visited the stable
three times; he made many inquiries of the people of the house regarding
the neighborhood and its inhabitants; and at length, instead of
retiring to bed, he leaned his arms upon a table and his head upon his
arms, and apparently went to sleep. People came and went, but he did not
move; one of the girls of the inn spoke to him, but he did not answer;
and it was near eleven o'clock before he changed his position. At that
hour he rose and walked quietly to the back door of the inn, which
looked into the stable-yard. The moon was shining near the full, and two
men were standing near the stables talking together earnestly. As soon
as he appeared at the door, they went round to the back of the low
wooden building; but Edward had caught sight of them, and he walked
straight to the stable and looked in. Most of the tired horses were
resting quietly in the stables; but one, though disencumbered of packs
and burdens, was saddled and bridled and tied up to a pillar.

Edward examined the animal well, to make sure of whom it belonged to,
then quietly re-entered the inn and went straight to the room of Lord
Montagu. He knocked at the door, and Montagu's voice told him to come
in.

"Ah, Ned!" said his lord, "I have not seen you to-night."

"No, my lord," replied the youth: "I have been watching some things
which I dislike."

"A very unsatisfactory employment," said Lord Montagu. "But what is it,
good youth? You look gloomy, and your face is full of meaning. Are the
Philistines upon us?"

"I do not know, my lord," replied Edward; "but I fear they soon will be.
I do not like those two blacksmiths, my lord. They are bent upon some
mischief, depend upon it."

"Oh, the old story!" said Montagu. "What is it now, Ned? Do they squint
the other way, perchance?"

Edward was mortified; but he answered, respectfully, "No, my noble lord,
but the same way as ever. I feel sure they are spies upon you and intend
to betray you the very first opportunity."

"Indeed!" said Montagu, now somewhat roused. "But the proofs, Master
Ned,--the proofs."

"Absolute proofs I cannot give," said Edward; "but their conduct is so
suspicious that I cannot believe them honest. I beg your lordship's
excuse while I detail what I have observed during the last ten days.
You can then judge for yourself. These men affect to speak a _patois_
almost incomprehensible; but I have detected them speaking as good
French as you or I more than once. Together they talk a language I do
not at all understand; but good Jacques Beaupré says it is Basque. I am
certain it is not Savoyard. At Geneva, one of them wrote a letter and
sent it off by a courier who was going to France. During the last two
days' journey they have been making as diligent inquiries at every inn,
as to the neighborhood, as if they had to direct the march."

"Pooh! that is all nothing," answered Montagu: "don't you think a
blacksmith may have a sweetheart to write to, as well as yourself, Ned?
And the poor devils, who have to find their way back, may well inquire
about the roads."

"Well, my lord, I have but little more to say," replied Edward. "All day
they have been looking curiously at every chateau we passed, even at
five miles' distance; they have lagged behind all along the road, and
stopped more than once to talk with the peasantry they met; and two
hours before we arrived here I saw one of them give a piece of money to
a lad, who set out incontinently over the fields."

"Ha! that was strange," said Montagu, thoughtfully. "What more?"

"Some three or four hours ago," continued the young man, "the taller of
the two despatched the hostler somewhere. I could not learn where; but I
heard him say, distinctly, 'Remember, tell him at eleven o'clock; not
before eleven!' I have waited and watched ever since, and the scoundrel
is now in close conference with a man who has come to see him, while his
horse is standing saddled in the stable."

"This looks serious," said Montagu, rising. "Have you remarked any thing
further?"

"Yes," answered Edward: "I have remarked that, though they pretend never
to have been in this part of the country before, they know every inch of
the road and have some acquaintance in every town."

"Let us go to the stable," said Lord Montagu: "I will know more of this
before I sleep."

Quietly opening the door, he passed through a sort of dining-room and
the kitchen into the court-yard; but at the moment he opened the outer
door the sound of horses' feet was heard, and one of the stalls in the
stable was found vacant. "Too late!" said Lord Montagu, calmly: "let us
go back, Ned, and consult what is to be done."

Perhaps, where one person alone has power to decide, all consultation is
useless,--more than useless,--only a waste of time. Who ever takes
another man's advice unless he wishes to shuffle off a responsibility to
which he feels himself unequal? Give me an obstinate general, if he have
but a brain as big as a walnut. As far as success goes, it is better to
be bravely wrong than timidly right.

Now, though Lord Montagu had a very great opinion of Edward Langdale's
good sense, he had a much better opinion of his own; but councils of war
had not then fallen into the state of disrepute to which they have sunk
in our days; and therefore he returned to his room, and, having seen the
door closely shut, asked, in a grave tone, "Now, Ned, what is to be
done?"

"Why, my lord, you are the best judge; but if I were you I would go back
to the road we left ten miles behind and go straight to Nancy. You are
here on the very frontier of France, surrounded by French towns and
castles: there are disputes about the exact bounds, and the cardinal, I
should suppose, would not be very particular if he thought he could get
possession of your lordship and your papers by a _coup-de-main_."

"You are a geographer, Ned," said Montagu. "Have you calculated how much
time that detour would cost?"

"A day and a half," answered Edward, "if we ride hard."

"The roads are bad,--very hilly," said Montagu: "the beasts are tired
now. It would cost two days and a half, at a moderate calculation; and I
have not two days and a half to spare. I have promised to meet the Duke
of Lorraine on Wednesday at Metz. We have ample time to do it if I ride
straight on, but not more; and, if I do not come, he will not and cannot
wait."

"Send him a messenger, my lord," said Edward: "I will undertake to carry
him any message from your lordship before Tuesday night, to appoint a
meeting at Pont à Mousson, or anywhere you like. Better kill a horse by
hard riding than have you taken prisoner."

Montagu thought in silence for a few moments, and then said, in a
meditative tone, "Do you know, Ned, I do not think there is so much
danger as you imagine? The man's conduct is suspicious, I admit; but it
is no more than suspicious. How do we know he has any thing to do with
Richelieu? But even suppose he has: he can have no means of
communicating with his sweet Eminence between this night and to-morrow
morning. No governor of a castle or commander of troops would venture to
violate a neutral territory without an express order; and it was
impossible for the cardinal to know that I should pass by this road, so
as to give his orders beforehand. I think we are quite safe, my good
youth."

Montagu spoke in that cool sort of indifferent tone which almost
implied--at least, so Edward construed it--that his page had been
magnifying dangers. The young man bit his lip and for a moment remained
silent; but then a sense of duty made him answer, "I cannot but think
that by following the direct road your lordship will place yourself in
extreme peril."

"Why, you are not afraid, Edward?" said Lord Montagu, laughing. "You
little fire-devouring Turk, I never saw you afraid of any thing before."

The young man's cheek reddened. "I am not afraid of any thing, my lord,"
he answered, "but of seeing your lordship a prisoner in the hands of
your enemies. If they once get you into the Bastille, what becomes of
all the results of your lordship's negotiations?"

"True," answered Montagu, "the stakes we play for are great ones; but in
playing for great stakes one must risk boldly wherever there is a chance
of success. I think we can pass, Edward; and I will try it. But I will
take precaution to make our passage sure. An hour and a half will carry
us over all immediate danger; for the road, I find, bends back deeper
into Bar, and it is only on the very frontier that there is any risk. No
French force will venture more than a mile at the most into the Duke of
Lorraine's territory."

"But what precaution can you take, my lord?" asked Edward, in some
surprise. "Doubtless his Highness would grant you an escort; but he has
no troops near. We are amidst peasants."

"No, no! I seek no escort," said Montagu: "we will pass alone if we pass
at all. But you heard me on our arrival give the order to set out at
seven. We will change the hour, Ned, and begin our march at five. Say
not a word to any one to-night. I will trust only to you. At four let us
all be called. Call Oakingham a quarter of an hour earlier, and Abbot
too, for they are slow. Let the groom and the laquais get the horses
ready by five; but, above all, say not a word to the Savoyard who is
left, or his companion, if he returns, and keep a watch upon them."

"A sure watch," said Edward, with a grim smile. "All shall be ready, my
lord; but yet----"

"Nay, nay," said Montagu, waving his hand; "no more objections, Ned. Now
send the lackey to me: I will go to bed as if I had no alteration of
last night's arrangements in my mind. You had better go to your room,
too, and obtain a little sleep. I know you can wake when you like."

"I will go to my room," said Edward; "but I do not close my eyes
to-night, my lord. I am not fond of leaving any thing to chance."

"You must have another word," said Montagu, laughing. "Pooh! pooh! We
shall pass, my boy. Now, good-night."

Edward left him, sent the lackey to his room, went to the kitchen, where
two of the stable-men were sleeping by the fire, roused one of them to
give him a lamp, and retired to the chamber where young Abbot was
snoring powerfully. But Edward was ill at ease. He thought that the
precautions Lord Montagu had spoken of and ordered were not sufficient:
he thought--as all men think, and young men especially--that his own
plan was the best. However, he drew the charges of his pistols, loaded
and primed them afresh; and then, sitting down at the window, where he
had a view of the court-yard on one side and on the other a glance into
the passage through the door which he left ajar, he waited, without
moving a limb, for the coming of morning.



CHAPTER XXXIII.


At a quarter to four o'clock, Edward Langdale shook young Abbot by the
shoulder and with some difficulty succeeded in waking him. "Quick,
Abbot! get up!" he said. "Go down and saddle your horse: but make no
noise. Do you understand me? No more than an owl. Go down and saddle
your horse: do you hear? but be quiet about it."

"What is in the wind?" said the other.

"Nothing to you: but do as you are bidden," answered Edward, and took
his way to Mr. Oakingham's room. Here he had more difficulty, for the
door was locked or bolted, and he had to make some noise before the good
gentleman would open it.

"Why, what is the matter?" asked Oakingham. "Is the house on fire? It is
quite dark."

"Here, sir, light your lamp," said Edward. "My lord has changed his
mind, and is going to set out directly. You will be left behind if you
do not make haste."

Oakingham swore a little; but Edward did not stay to listen, gave him
his lamp, and turned toward the rooms of the servants, which lay at the
end of the passage over the kitchen. The last chamber but one had been
assigned to the two blacksmiths, and, as Edward was approaching quietly
that where the lackey and the groom were housed, the shorter of the
Savoyards, roused by the noise at Mr. Oakingham's door, put his head
out.

Edward walked on quietly, and, when he was abreast of the man, said,
with an easy air, "You had better get your clothes on. You will be
wanted presently."

"Which horse?" asked the man, at once.

"All but one," said Edward; and, knocking hard at the door of the
servants' room, he ordered them in a loud tone to rise and come to the
stable. The blacksmith was still at the door; but Edward caught him by
the neck and pushed him back into the room, saying, "Pardie! did I not
tell you to get dressed?"

The man staggered back, and before he recovered himself the young
gentleman had caught the key from the inside and locked the door. He did
not, however, call Lord Montagu till he had gone out into the yard and
ascertained that the windows of the rooms above were too high to admit
of any one dropping to the ground.

A good deal of bustle succeeded: the servants of the house were roused,
valises and bags were packed in haste, and horses were saddled; but
before five o'clock all was ready for departure, and Edward approached
Lord Montagu as he stood before the inn, saying, "Shall I let out that
blacksmith? He is safely locked in his room, and hammering at the door
as if he would knock it down. Well he left his tools in the stable, or
he would have been out by this time."

"Let him out, to-be-sure," said Montagu: "he may follow now if he will.
He will keep us too late."

"His horse is saddled for him, my lord," replied Edward: "by your leave
he shall come with us, or I will come with him." And, running up-stairs,
he opened the door of the man's room.

The worthy was at first inclined to make some noisy remonstrance, but
Edward stopped him in an instant. "No noise!" he said, seeing that he
was dressed. "Go down-stairs. Get on your horse and put him between me
and the groom. If you take a step too quick or a step too slow, you will
have a ball through your head in one minute. We know where your comrade
is gone, and all about you: so pray Heaven we meet with no misadventure
on the road, for, if we do, this is the last morning you will ever see."

The man looked scared out of his senses, and descended the stairs with a
face as pale as ashes.

The thundering command of Lord Montagu, "Mount, quick! Stand by him,
Ned!" did not serve to allay his apprehensions; and perhaps no man of
the whole party more sincerely prayed that they might pass uninterrupted
than he did.

The score was paid, and the party rode off, with Montagu and Mr.
Oakingham at the head, and Edward Langdale, the groom, and the
blacksmith between them, in the rear. It was still quite dark; but the
eye of the pretended Savoyard roamed round and round from the very
commencement of the journey. At the end of a few minutes he began to
talk, and apparently desired to exculpate himself from any complicity in
his fellow-countryman's proceedings; but Edward stopped him sternly,
saying, "Silence! Your tongue makes as much noise as the crack of a
pistol, and I will silence it if you say one word more." He put his hand
to his holster as he spoke, and the man ceased instantly.

"I have pistols too, sir," said the sturdy groom.

"He will need no more than I give him," said Edward. "I do not miss,
Hobbs."

"No, I know you don't, sir," said the groom: "at least I never saw you."

"Let us keep quiet," said Edward; "but be prepared. If we should be
stopped, and this fellow's comrade is there, you take care of him. I
will settle with this one."

The first part of the way led up hill, through a pretty close wood
skirting the road on either hand; but at the top of the ascent the
little party issued forth upon some open, undulating ground, which the
insecurity of border-life had kept a good deal out of cultivation. The
darkness was now growing pale at the approach of day, and the gray
outline of a chateau or two, with a village church some two miles off,
and what seemed a considerable town a good deal farther, might be seen
to the right and left. All was still and silent till the light clouds
overhead began to turn rosy, and then a lark started up close beside the
road and went quivering and trilling into the sky.

"My heaven! they are going very slow," murmured the blacksmith, in a low
voice and with a groan. "Why does not the English lord go faster, young
gentleman? Does he not know this part of the country is full of
brigands?"

"He knows there are brigands about," answered Edward; "but we know how
to deal with them."

Edward, however, did think that his lord might have ridden faster; and,
as they began to descend into another hollow with a thick wood at the
bottom, he scanned every thing around and below with a keen, quick eye,
but could discover no moving thing.

When they issued out of the wood at the other side of the dell, the sun
was apparently just rising above the horizon, and the whole sky was full
of purple and gold; and, when they topped the hill above, a wide but not
very interesting landscape was before them. Some high blue hills were
seen at a distance on the right; but nearer, on both sides, were several
chateaux and villages, with scattered woods and ponds and rivers, all
glowing like rubies in the red light. The human race, too, began to
bestir itself to daily toil, and several men, evidently peasants, were
seen leading horses or driving oxen to the field. But the view was soon
cut off from their sight by broken banks tumbled about in strange
confusion, interspersed with patches of scrubby firs, and here and there
a low hovel looking picturesque in its very wretchedness.

The agitation of the blacksmith seemed every moment increasing, and once
he even attempted to drop behind; but the stern words from Edward, "Keep
up!" accompanied by a motion of the hand toward his pistols, soon
brought the man to a line with his companions. At length, after they had
ridden on for about half a mile or more, he burst forth, saying, "I want
to speak to the lord: he is going too slow. Let me speak to him."

"Well," said Edward, "ride on by my side." And, drawing a pistol as a
precaution, he spurred forward. The country indeed just there would have
greatly favored the fellow's escape, for it was rough, uneven, and
covered with stunted trees and bushes, while a small pine wood flanked
the road on the left or French side, and a _borne_, or landmark, with a
low wall, lay on the other. The highway was wide, however; and Edward
felt certain that if the smith endeavored to gallop off he could bring
him from his horse before he got out of sight. In a moment they were by
the side of Lord Montagu, who checked his horse to hear what they
wanted.

"My lord, my lord," said the man, in very good French, but with great
agitation, "ride fast. Take good advice, and ride fast, or they will
catch you."

"Who will catch me?" asked Montagu, eyeing him.

"I do not know who, exactly," said the man, "Brin, my comrade, has the
names of so many on his list. The cardinal gave it to him before we set
out. But ride fast, for God's sake! There may be time yet."

"Good advice, truly," said Montagu. "Use your spurs, gentlemen. We will
inquire further hereafter, if we can,--if we can: ay, if we can, indeed!
Draw up your horses. Let the rest come forward. Stir not from that spot,
man, or I blow your brains out. Now, who are these before us?"

From a little bridle-path which issued from the wood and crossed the
highroad some twelve or fourteen men, well armed and mounted, had just
ridden out and barred the way.

"Let us charge them at once, my lord," said Edward. "Some of us may cut
through. You shall, if I live."

"Look behind, Ned," said Lord Montagu.

Edward turned his head in the direction to which Montagu had glanced a
moment before, and saw a party not much less numerous than that in
front, with the blacksmith who had disappeared the night before amongst
the foremost. His pistol was in his hand, and the temptation was
irresistible. He threw his arm across his chest without wheeling his
horse, pulled the trigger, and the traitor fell from his saddle with a
bullet in his shoulder.

At the same moment the English groom, who had ridden up at Lord
Montagu's first order, caught the other unhappy man by the arm, and had
the muzzle of his weapon at his ear; but Montagu put it aside before he
could fire, saying, "Vain! vain! Edward, you are always too ready with
those pistols."

"I have given him but his due, my lord, if I die for it the next
minute," said Edward. "But see: that tall man with the white scarf is
waving it to your lordship."

"Stay here, and I will go forward a little," said Lord Montagu. "There
is nothing for it but to surrender quietly. They are five to one."

"Let me go with you, my lord," said Edward.

"Well, then, put up your pistol," answered Montagu. "The rest stay
here."

Montagu took off his hat in answer to the signal made by the other
party, and rode forward with Edward, while a gentleman of some five or
six and thirty, who seemed the leader of the larger body gathered across
the road, advanced alone to meet the English nobleman. As they neared
each other, the two saluted courteously; and throughout their interview
the utmost politeness manifested itself, instead of the ferocious
roughness which in a French picture of this very incident is represented
as characterizing the demeanor of M. de Bourbonne.

The French gentleman spoke first. "I have the honor of wishing you
good-day, my Lord Montagu," he said. "Your lordship is here somewhat
earlier than we expected you."

"I am sorry I did not know, sir, that you are so matutinal in your
habits," replied Montagu, somewhat superciliously; "otherwise I should
have been here earlier still."

"Doubtless," answered the other. "But I need not now tell your lordship
that, being later than you intended, it is useless to attempt to pursue
your journey to-day."

"Why, the roads seem very bad, it is true," said Montagu. "I had hoped
that my good friend the Duke of Lorraine kept his highways in better
order."

"I am afraid, my lord," said the stranger, "that the French Government
must bear the blame in this instance; for you are now upon French soil.
That landmark points out the boundary."

"I did not mark the landmark," answered the Englishman; "but, if I be
upon French territory, may I know to whom I am indebted for this
hospitable reception?"

"My name, my lord, is Bourbonne,--the Count de Bourbonne," said the
other. "I only last night heard of your lordship's arrival in these
parts; and I at once made preparation to receive you in my chateau."

"We expected something of the kind," rejoined Montagu; "for a personage
who had attached himself to my service on the road thought fit to absent
himself last night, and we judged he would most likely spread the rumor
of my coming. In truth, I wished to spare all noble gentlemen the
hospitable trouble you seem inclined to take, and, indeed, would a great
deal rather not inflict it upon you now."

"No trouble in the world, my lord," replied the count. "And, indeed, I
must insist upon the honor of entertaining you till you can be better
lodged. As to the poor man who favored me with notice of your approach,
I am afraid he has met with a little accident. I heard the report of a
pistol, and saw one of the people there fall off his horse."

"A pure accident," said Montagu, in an indifferent tone. "One of my
attendants had a pistol in his hand and his finger upon the trigger. He
was seized at that moment with a convulsive affection to which he is
sometimes subject: the hammer fell, and the bullet flew out of the
muzzle. In those cases, monsieur le comte, the ball, as you must have
often remarked, flies right at the greatest villain it can find. It is
invariable, I believe."

"Very probably," answered De Bourbonne: "I will ask a philosopher his
opinion. But, in the mean time, may I ask your lordship if there are
more accidents of the same kind likely to happen? Are there any other
gentlemen of yours with their fingers on their triggers?"

"Oh, no!" replied Montagu. "I made them put all their pistols up as soon
as I comprehended the pressing nature of the invitation I was about to
receive, and the forcible arguments ready to back it. Am I to understand
that it is extended to my attendants also?"

"To every one," replied the count, with a low bow. "I could never think
of asking your lordship to my house without including your friends and
followers."

"You do me too much honor," said Montagu. "But amongst my followers you
will find a comrade of the worthy gentleman who did me the favor of
being my harbinger. Now, if I have any influence with you, my lord
count, I would bespeak for him a high place, not in your esteem, but on
your castle. Doubtless you have battlements, or iron stanchions, or
things of that kind, about, to which you could raise him _sus per_
_col_. He has all the same qualities as his friend, whom you already
know, and is a Savoyard, he says,[5]--though we have some doubts upon
the subject."

"I should be most happy to oblige your lordship in any thing," answered
the Count de Bourbonne; "but you know the king is the bestower of all
dignities and the fountain of all honors; and therefore I cannot take
upon me to raise the gentleman to the elevated position you desire for
him."

"Well, well," replied Montagu, "time works wonders; and doubtless he
will meet his deserts sooner or later. May I ask if you have lately
heard from our mutual friend the Cardinal de Richelieu?"

"Last night, my lord," answered Bourbonne. "He was quite well, and
desired me to inquire particularly after your health."

"I expected no less of his courtesy," said the English nobleman. "But I
see your people are closing up pretty near, and, if I mistake not, have
got possession of my valet's horse, with a desire of lightening the poor
beast's load. We had probably better join them, as the man does not
comprehend much French; and Englishmen are sometimes so surly and stupid
that it is impossible to get them to comprehend the force of numbers."

"At your pleasure," replied the count; and, making a sign to his
followers on the road to the north to join him, he went quietly to the
spot where Mr. Oakingham and Lord Montagu's servants had remained.

He now somewhat changed his tone, and, abandoning the bantering mood in
which he and Lord Montagu had indulged, but still with undiminished
courtesy of manner, required all present but his own followers to give
up their arms. Edward for one did so with regret; but still it was some
satisfaction to him to see the treacherous blacksmith lying on the bank
with his comrade busily engaged in bandaging his wounded shoulder.

"I will now have the honor of conducting you to my poor house," said the
count, bowing to Lord Montagu; and, with five or six armed men before
and a larger number following, with three on each side to guard against
any evasion, he commenced his march. Before departing, however, he spoke
a word or two to one of his attendants; and Edward remarked that, as
they went, a diligent examination was made of all the pistols which his
party had given up, as if to ascertain which had been discharged; and he
doubted not that some consequences not very agreeable to himself would
follow the inevitable discovery that he had fired the shot which had
wounded the traitor.

The road wound through one of the wildest parts of France, just upon the
frontier of Champagne and Bar; two or three small rivers had to be
crossed; the country was but little cultivated, bearing more the aspect
of a sandy moor than of the entrance to one of the richest
wine-districts in the world; and more than once Edward cast his eyes
around, thinking that it might be no difficult matter to escape and find
a refuge in Lorraine if he could but avoid the pistol-shots which were
sure to follow him. Had he been intrusted with the care of Lord
Montagu's papers he would certainly have made the attempt, but he knew
not even who carried them, and he resolved not to abandon his lord
except for his service.

Whether Montagu divined what was passing in his mind or not, I cannot
tell; but, after they had gone about half a mile, he called Edward to
his side and said to him, in English, "Keep still, Ned. Activity will do
no good here. The best thing for all of us is to be perfectly passive.
If I had trusted to your young, sharp eyes sooner, it might have been
better; but it is too late now either to regret or amend what is done."

"May I request your lordship to speak to your attendants in French?"
said Monsieur de Bourbonne. "You speak our tongue in such perfection,
my lord, that it must be as familiar to you as your own."

"I shall probably have time to study it more profoundly," answered
Montagu, with a smile. "But you can inform me yourself, count, if that
fine old chateau upon the height is Bourbonne, where we shall rest, I
presume."

"That is Bourbonne," replied the count; "and the little town you may
catch sight of down there in the hollow, a little to the left. But,
though we will stop there to take some refreshment, I think that the
Castle of Coiffy will afford your lordship a more convenient
resting-place."

"Oh, yes! I remember Coiffy," answered Montagu, laughing. "I passed
close to it some three months ago. It is a strong place, and so well
built, I am told, count, that the garrison cannot hear the drums of
Lorraine beat at Bar."

"That is only because they do not pay attention to them, my lord,"
replied Bourbonne.

As they rode on, the old chateau grew more and more clearly defined; and
the state of decay into which the ancient defences had fallen showed
plainly why it had not been chosen for the place of Montagu's detention.

In the village the party stopped to breakfast, and the English nobleman
was treated with every sort of respectful attention; but a strict guard
was kept at the door of the chamber where he was served. The attendants
had some food placed before them in another room; but they were as
carefully watched. In about an hour the march recommenced, and shortly
after, while gazing forward, Edward perceived rising over the trees at
the distance of several miles the towers of Coiffy, a much stronger
place than Bourbonne, which he never lost sight of till they reached the
drawbridge.

It was apparent that their coming had been made known beforehand, for
all was evidently prepared to receive Lord Montagu with ceremonious
politeness. An old gentleman whom they called Monsieur de Boulogne stood
in the gateway, hat in hand, and immediately proceeded to conduct the
noble prisoner to his apartments.

Mr. Oakingham followed, and Edward Langdale was about to do the same,
when the Count de Bourbonne took him by the arm, saying, "Stop, young
man! I destine another chamber for you."

His tone was somewhat menacing, and Edward turned round and gazed full
in his face.

"Tell me," said the count, "and mind you tell me true----"

"If I tell you any thing at all, I shall tell you the truth," answered
Edward, interrupting him: "so spare such exhortations, sir count. But it
is probable that I shall not answer a small gentleman of Champagne at
all, especially if he interrogates me in a manner which much greater
personages than himself have never displayed toward me."

It is probable that this rude answer was intended to stop all inquiries
into Lord Montagu's affairs,--for Edward did not doubt that they were
about to be the subject of De Bourbonne's questions; but the count gazed
on him with extreme surprise, exclaiming, "Ha! Whom have we here? A
small gentleman of Champagne! Will your magnificence have the
condescension, then, to inform the small gentleman of Champagne if it
was your hand that sent a pistol-ball into the shoulder of a poor
personage who came up with my train when I first had the honor of seeing
you?"

"It was by accident I shot him in the shoulder," replied Edward: "I
intended the ball for his head."

"If he dies we may find a rope that will fit you, young man," said the
count; and, beckoning up the man who had examined the pistols on the
road, he said, "Take him away and put him in the dungeon where I told
you."

"If you hang me, sir count," said Edward, without the slightest alarm,
"you will do so with the passport in my breast which was given me by his
Eminence of Richelieu with his own hand. You had better ask the two
spies a few questions before you treat me with any thing like
indignity."

So saying, he followed the man to whom Bourbonne had spoken. Another
soldier took a lantern from a hook and came after; and in a minute or
two Edward found himself pushed into a room where the faint light of the
lantern only served to show the shining damp which clung to the stone
walls.

[Footnote 5: These two men, who adhered to Lord Montagu through his
whole journey, first tracking him from place to place with the sagacity
and pertinacity of well-trained hounds, and then contriving to get
admitted to his service, were in reality Basques. Some have supposed
that they were creatures of Monsieur de Bourbonne; but there seems no
doubt they were two of the many skilful agents whom Richelieu took care
to provide himself with in every rank of life.]



CHAPTER XXXIV.


A dungeon is by no means an agreeable place; and the dungeon of poor
Edward Langdale was not an agreeable dungeon. As was common at that
time, before Vauban and others had introduced a better system of
fortification, the principal defence of the Castle of Coiffy was a wet
ditch or fosse, which differed little from those we see surrounding old
castles of the feudal period. This wet ditch was supplied with abundance
of water from a spring a little higher up the hill, which, indeed, was
the source of one of the principal confluents of the Aube; but the soil,
as I have said elsewhere, being somewhat sandy, the banks suffered the
water to percolate, somewhat to the detriment of the foundations of the
castle; and, had not the masonry been very heavy and the mortar somewhat
better than we use in building cockney villas, the square flanking-tower
to the right of the gateway as you look east would have been down fifty
years before and crushed to death the denizens of poor Edward's
dungeon,--if it had been furnished with tenants at that time.

Now, doubtless the reader learned in romance-composition may imagine
that I am merely preparing the way for a fine scene of escape from
prison, with melodramatic incidents, new songs, scenery, and
decorations. But, as I am sorry to say no such heroic result was at this
time achieved by Lord Montagu's page, I cannot use it as an incident in
this part of my true history. I only mention the percolation of the
water of the fosse, and its effect upon the foundations amongst which
that and other dungeons were placed, to show that the place of the poor
youth's confinement was as damp and disagreeable as it could be. Some
stones had fallen from the vault above, some large detached pieces of
mortar, green and shiny, covered the mud or stone floor, and the walls
were all glistening with dampness; but those walls were too thick and
the blocks of stone of which they were composed too heavy for any
unaided prisoner to have worked his way out, with the utmost diligence.
In one corner of the miserable hole was a sort of camp-bedstead, with a
straw bed covered with yellow and green stains from long exposure to the
foul, moist air,--disgust and sickness and death to lie upon; and in
another corner, high up on the wall, was a little grated window, not so
high as the opposite parapet of the glacis, but sufficiently so to admit
the air and the sounds from without. The wall was too thick to allow of
a prisoner catching even a glimpse of the blue sky or to permit one ray
of the sun to enter, even at his rising or his setting. It was indeed a
desolate chamber. What an expressive word that _desolate_ is! Although
sometimes in the heats of an almost tropical climate--heats often more
intense than I ever heard of in the tropics themselves--I sometimes
grumble a little at the power and ardor of the sun, yet what would the
earth be without him? what is any place on the earth's surface which he
does not visit? Desolate, desolate indeed!

The first sound which Edward heard after the bolts had ceased to grate
in their sockets was that of a cannon, apparently from the walls of the
castle. Some few minutes after the same sound seemed to be repeated from
a distance. It might be an echo. He could not tell. But a moment or two
after another report was heard, certainly nearer; and then two more
confirmed his fancy that they were signal-guns announcing that the
well-watched English envoy had been captured and was a prisoner at
Coiffy. Some three hours then passed, if not in perfect silence, at
least only enlivened by the voices of some soldiers on the ramparts; and
then came the squeaking of the wry-necked fife and the beating of drums,
intimating to Edward that troops of some kind were drawing round Coiffy.
Then were heard voices on the drawbridge, and gay laughter, as if
officers were being received into the castle with signs of honor.

All that passed away, and silence resumed her reign till night fell. The
light in the lantern burned down almost to the socket. No meat, no
drink, had been brought to the prisoner; and he began to ask himself if
it could be their intention to starve him there in darkness. His
feelings were not pleasant.

Just about that time there was some noise and bustle heard from
without,--probably on the drawbridge or at the gate,--the tramp of
horses, and voices speaking. Then for a few minutes all was silent
again. Then there were sounds just above, more distinct and clear than
any he had hitherto heard,--people speaking, and others moving slowly
about,--evidently penetrating to the cell which Edward tenanted by the
broken parts of the vault on which the flooring of the upper chamber
rested.

"Oh!" cried a voice, with a groan, "you have got me by the shoulder just
on the wound! Do not do that! Put your hand lower down: not there, not
there!--lower still. That young devil! he does not miss his mark,
indeed!"

"Lay him on the bed,--flat on his back," said another voice. "Now, Brin,
is not that easier for you?" And then followed several sentences in a
language Edward did not understand at all.

"The two blacksmiths," said Edward to himself. "They have just brought
in the wounded man."

For some half-hour various sounds succeeded, some distinct, others
confused, to which the young prisoner did not pay much attention; and
then there was a sort of lull,--not quite silence, but still much less
bustle. Even slight sounds were easily distinguishable in the dungeon;
for the roof was so far dilapidated that here and there the rays of
light from above found their way through a chink in the flooring and
traced a yellow line upon the pavement. He could hear the wounded man
groan and ask in a faint tone for drink.

"He is badly hurt, it seems," said Edward Langdale to himself: "if the
horse had not shied away, it would have gone through his head and served
the traitor right."

Edward wanted a little more softening to make him a real sentimental
hero; but I can only paint him as I find him. He did not feel the
slightest remorse for what he had done. He thought it but right,--but
just; and he would have done it over again the next minute. It is true,
the groans of the wounded man did somewhat annoy him. He felt no
pleasure in his pain; but, as to the mere fact of having shot him
because he had betrayed his lord, Edward was as hard as a stone.

It seemed, indeed, as if Monsieur de Bourbonne was inclined to try upon
the young Englishman the treatment sometimes employed to tame wild
beasts,--fasting and darkness. He had kept him without food all day; and
now the light in the lantern went out, and all was obscure in the
dungeon, except where those yellow streaks from above checkered the
floor; and the youth's only entertainment was to listen while a good
deal of walking to and fro and speaking took place overhead. He divined
from all he heard that a surgeon had been sent for and was performing
some operation upon the wounded man. At length the latter exclaimed,
"Oh, you have got it now. There, there! that is comfortable. It feels as
if you had pulled out a hot coal!"

Just at that time a soldier opened the dungeon-door and brought in a
pitcher of cool water and some bread.

"Am I to be kept in darkness?" asked Edward.

"I don't know," answered the man, holding up his own lantern to look at
him: "you have offended Monsieur le Comte mightily, it seems; but I do
not suppose that he intends you should have no light."

"Well, tell him something for me," replied Edward. "Say that I am
greatly obliged to him for all his kindness, but that I have friends in
France who will repay him sevenfold, or I am much mistaken in them."

The man went away without reply, but returned in a minute or two with a
fresh candle.

"Did you tell him?" asked Edward.

"Yes," answered the soldier, who seemed a good-natured sort of person;
"I told him. But you had better not enrage him. It will do no good,
young gentleman."

Edward ate heartily of his poor fare, and drank the cool water as if it
had been nectar. He had hardly finished the temperate meal, when he
heard a voice above which he recognised by a slight hesitation of speech
as that of Monsieur de Bourbonne; and he certainly might be excused in
his circumstances for listening with all his ears.

First the count made several inquiries as to the state of the wounded
man; and then he added, "Well, my good friend, I have got the young
tiger who scratched you safely caged in the worst dungeon of the castle.
I hope you will get well; but if you should die I will hang him from the
_herse_."

"For God's sake, do not do that, monseigneur," cried the companion of
the patient.

"If I die, hang him as high as you please," growled the voice of Maître
Brin: "the cardinal cannot do any thing to me after I am dead, and the
young devil had better go with me."

"Ha!" said Monsieur de Bourbonne, apparently in a tone of some surprise:
"he boasts of having some good friends in France, and speaks as if he
personally knew his Eminence."

"And so he does," said Brin's more timid companion: "he is a great
favorite of the cardinal; and Monsieur de Tronson warned us not to touch
a hair of his head under any circumstances. He said that we should be
held to answer for any evil that happened to him. We were only to follow
him wherever he went from Nantes, and not lose sight of him till he
joined the English lord."

"Then did you first see him at Nantes?" asked the count.

"Surely," replied the other: "we waited in the court-yard while he was
in with the cardinal, that we might take good note of him as he came
out."

There was a silence of some minutes, and then the voice of the sick man
was heard saying, "After all, you had better not treat him badly,
monseigneur. I do not think I am very much hurt; and if he is hardly
used some of us will suffer, you may be sure."

"You should have told me this before," said Monsieur de Bourbonne, in a
very sharp tone.

"Why, what time had we to tell you any thing, monseigneur?" asked the
wounded man's brother.

"At all events, we tell you now," growled Brin; "and this talking is not
likely to do me good. The lad is as fierce as a young wolf. He
threatened to shoot me once before; but he is a pet of the
cardinal,--one of his own people, for aught we know,--and, now that you
are told he is so, you may use him as you think fit. It is no fault of
ours: we have not hurt him."

It is probable that the interview was less satisfactory to the Count de
Bourbonne than he had expected; for he brought it speedily to a
conclusion, and Edward for full half an hour after heard the two men
above talking together in the language he did not understand. At the end
of that time the bolt of the door was undrawn, and the soldier who had
previously brought him bread and water appeared again, with somewhat of
a grin upon his face.

"Well, young gentleman," he said, "Monsieur le Comte begs you will send
him up the safe-conduct you mentioned to him. After seeing that, perhaps
they may treat you better."

"Tell him I will not!" said Edward, in a resolute tone: "he may come and
take it from me by force,--or he may see it here in my presence; but I
give it out of my own hands to no one,--especially not to one who has
treated me unlike a soldier and a gentleman. Tell him what I say."

The soldier laughed. "'Pon my word, you are a bold one!" he said. "Do
you not know you are quite in his power?"

"Not so much as you think," replied Edward: "I am not the least afraid
of him. Tell him exactly what I say."

A full hour passed; and probably it was spent in some degree of anxious
and hesitating deliberation between Monsieur de Bourbonne and the Count
de Boulogne, his father-in-law, for they remained the whole of that time
shut up together in a small room on the second floor. One can easily
conceive that it was a hard thing for a proud and irritable man to make
any concession to a mere lad who set him at defiance in language
somewhat tinged with contempt. But a bold face stoutly kept up has a
great effect upon most men; and if Edward had known the count intimately
he could not (though it was entirely accidental) have chosen his course
better. De Bourbonne was brave, and even rash; but he had a terrible
reverence for power, and, when he found the youth's account of himself
confirmed even by the very man whose life he had nearly taken, fancy
conjured up all sorts of ministerial indignation, and showed him the
service he had rendered in the capture of Lord Montagu--on which he had
based many gorgeous dreams--more than counterbalanced in the eyes of
Richelieu by his treatment of one of the cardinal's favorites. Monsieur
de Boulogne, too, an older and milder man, strongly counselled
moderation and gentleness, somewhat censured what had been already done,
and advised recourse to measures perhaps too directly and suddenly
opposed.

Still, pride struggled hard with De Bourbonne. He vowed he did not and
would not believe the tale which he had heard. What hold, he asked,
could a mere fierce English lad have upon the cardinal? and for some
time his father-in-law reminded him in vain that Richelieu, though a
wonderfully great man, was somewhat capricious in his affections,
suggested that, as he was not a little superstitious, too, in regard to
astrology and the occult sciences, he might find some imaginary
connection between the youth's fate and his own, and pointed out that it
was utterly improbable Edward should treat him with such daring
disrespect if he was not certain of some very strong support.

In the mean time the poor prisoner remained in some doubt and anxiety.
Imprisonment, solitude, and low diet had gone some way to tame the wild
bird, and the uncertainty of the last hour had been very heavy. He had
fancied that the words he had heard spoken by the wounded man and his
companion would produce an immediate change; but, as minute after minute
passed by and nothing indicated any better treatment, he began to
despond. At length, however, he heard the tramp of feet and the jingle
of spurs, and a man with a torch opened the door, admitting Monsieur de
Boulogne and one or two attendants.

"Young gentleman," said the old nobleman, with a reproving but fatherly
air, "you have been acting very rashly and impetuously toward the count
my son-in-law."

"And how has he been acting toward me, sir?" asked Edward, in a more
respectful tone than he had used in speaking to the younger man.

"Somewhat harshly, I am afraid," said the other, looking round him: "he
could not have known the state of this place, or he would not have put
you here."

"What right had he to put me in a dungeon at all?" asked Edward.

"Why, you shot and nearly killed one of his attendants," was the reply.

"Not at all," answered Edward. "You are deceived, sir. I shot an
attendant of Lord Montagu whom I caught in the act of betraying his
master. Ask his lordship--ask the man himself or his brother--if they
had not both taken service with my lord and received his money."

The old gentleman smiled. "That puts a new face upon the matter," he
said. "But let us leave recriminations. I wish to smooth matters down
between you and my fiery relative. You say you have a safe-conduct from
his Eminence of Richelieu. Let me see it."

"On the sole condition, sir, that you restore it to me at once," said
Edward, putting his hand into a pocket in the breast of his coat and
taking out the passport in its velvet case.

"Let me examine it," said Monsieur de Boulogne. "Do not fear. You shall
have it again in a moment."

"I do not fear," replied the youth, giving him the case. "I am sure you
are a man of honor, by your face."

"Here, man, hold the torch nearer," said the count; and, putting a pair
of spectacles--or banicles, as they were then commonly called--upon his
nose, he proceeded to examine the safe-conduct minutely. But all was in
proper form and order, calling upon all royal officers, governors of
cities, castles, or provinces, to let the Seigneur Edward Langdale and
suite pass and repass, without limitation of time or place, throughout
the land of France; and there was the seal of the council, and the
undoubted signature of the prime minister.

The face of the count turned very grave as he read. "This is odd!" he
said. "My son should have seen this. Here is your suite mentioned, young
gentleman. Of whom consists your suite?"

"I might reply," said Edward, "that any one I choose to name is of my
suite, for his Eminence put no restriction. But I wish not to quibble.
The suite of which he speaks is now at Nancy,--with the exception of one
page," he added, half smiling, "who is in Venice."

"Well, this is all very strange," said the old man. "I cannot understand
the cardinal's giving you such a wide safe-conduct at all,--an
Englishman,--and a youth like you."

"I am neither bound nor inclined to explain the motives of his
Eminence," replied Edward. "If you think fit to interrogate any one upon
that subject, it must be himself."

"God forbid!" cried Monsieur de Boulogne, eagerly. "There! take the
paper and come with me. I will take this business on myself. Two such
young, rash spirits may make mischief."

Edward followed, willingly enough; and the old count led him up the
stairs from the dungeon to a tolerably comfortable room in one of the
towers above, where he left him on his promise to remain till Monsieur
de Bourbonne could be conferred with. In a few minutes the two noblemen
entered together, De Bourbonne evidently struggling--not very
successfully--to keep up his dignity while forced to make disagreeable
concessions.

"The Count de Boulogne informs me, sir," he said, "that you have really
got a safe-conduct from his Eminence of Richelieu."

"Which you have known ever since mid-day," said Edward.

"Hush! hush!" said the elder gentleman. "No more of that. Tell my
son-in-law, young gentleman, what it is you demand of him in the
circumstances."

"I demand that he shall respect the cardinal's safe-conduct," answered
the youth.

But De Bourbonne waved his hand, saying, "I will respect it by sending
you to his Eminence under guard on the very first opportunity. What
more?"

"That I be no more put in a wet dungeon; that I be not fed on bread and
water; that I have my baggage restored to me; and that I be treated in
every respect as that safe-conduct gives me a right to expect."

"Granted," said the count, "but upon the clear understanding that you
are a prisoner and remain such till I can send you to the cardinal."

"With the clear understanding added," replied Edward, "that you shall be
called to a strict account for every hour you keep me prisoner without
lawful cause, and for your manifest disobedience of the cardinal's
written orders under his own hand and seal."

The count's face flushed, and he exclaimed, in evident embarrassment,
"What the fiend are you to the cardinal, or the cardinal to you?"

But Edward saw that, one way or another, he had got the advantage.
"That, sir," he said, in a cool tone, "you may have to learn hereafter,
from other lips than mine. In the mean time you can do exactly as you
think fit. Obey the commands you have received in the king's name, or
disobey them, as seems expedient to you; but only do not put me in a
damp dungeon or feed me on bread and water any more, for it is as
unpleasant to me as it may be dangerous to yourself."

"But suppose the safe-conduct is a forgery," said De Bourbonne.

"It would be a curious one," replied the youth, with perfect
composure,--"somewhat bold to devise and difficult to practise. Of that
you can judge yourself; but take care you judge right. I have but one
other demand to make; namely, to be permitted to visit my Lord Montagu."

"He has gone to bed," said De Bourbonne, sharply, "and I shall consider
of the matter further till to-morrow. I have now one more question. How
much liberty in this castle do you want? It will depend entirely upon
whether you do or do not give me your parole of honor that you will not
attempt to escape."

"Now, this is strange!" said Edward, with an irrepressible laugh. "One
moment I am suspected of forgery, and the next my word of honor is to be
relied upon implicitly. However, Monsieur le Comte, as I have no
intention of leaving you quite so soon, and as, if I did escape, I
should run straight to his Eminence, to whom you say you intend to send
me, I will give you my parole. But would you allow me to insinuate that
I am exceedingly hungry, and that I have always considered a little good
wine of Beaugency better than a draught of cold water out of a pitcher
not over-clean?"

Both the counts laughed; and old Monsieur de Boulogne, taking his
son-in-law by the arm, led him away, saying, in a low voice, "Come,
come! I shall make you two better friends before I have done."

"You will need to do so, father," said M. de Bourbonne; "for, on my
life, it shall be long enough before that keen boy sees the cardinal. If
what he says is true,--as I suppose it is,--the tales he has to tell
might ruin us; and, if it is false, he well deserves a good long spell
of imprisonment."



CHAPTER XXXV.


The writers of biography and auto- or pseudo-autobiography who
flourished and were so abundant in France during the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries made a great mistake by adding to the simple
narrative a great number of romantic incidents which there is much
reason to believe had no foundation in fact. Putting aside the morality
or immorality of lying, they committed an artistic blunder. History is
the best romance. Just in as much as a painter or sculptor can approach
to the realities of the human form, so is the grace and interest of his
design. Just in as much as a writer can approach to the truth of
history, telling all the truth minutely, so is the romantic interest of
his book,--only history is so very romantic that no one who writes it
completely can obtain credence. Let us see whether the reader will
believe a morsel of true history when it appears under the character of
romance.

The fact of the capture of Lord Montagu spread rapidly through all
France. Couriers carried it to Villeroy and Rochelle; rumor brought it
rapidly to Paris; and thence, with concentric ripples, the knowledge was
carried far and wide to all who were unwise enough to meddle with
politics in those days.

The effect was very different upon different people. The great cardinal
rejoiced at the success of his well-laid schemes; for he had long known,
and watched with a keen eye, the negotiations which had been intrusted
to the English nobleman. Perhaps, however, he rejoiced more at the hold
which he doubted not the seized papers of the diplomatist would give him
upon his own enemies in France itself than upon the means afforded of
frustrating all the combinations which had been effected abroad against
his country. His mighty mind feared foreign enemies much less than
secret cabal at home. In fact, he knew that the fortress of his power
was strong enough to resist a cannonade but might not be proof against a
mine.

Nor was the spirit of the king dissatisfied to learn that Buckingham's
agent had fallen into his power, with all his correspondence,
compromising probably one-third of the nobility of France. We have not
had time, we shall not have space, to dwell upon the character of Louis,
though it well merits a treatise entirely to itself. His sports in youth
had been cruel, his amusements low. His father had called him "that
wicked boy;" and, though he possessed all that father's courage and much
of his military skill, he had none of his kindness of heart, his
clemency, or his gentleness. It may be that he did not feel pleasure in
the shedding of blood, but it is certain that he never objected to shed
it; and when his best friends and greatest favorites were condemned,
often by unlawful tribunals, he consented to their death with coolness
or a jest.

But there was one in France who heard of Lord Montagu's capture with
very different feelings. Anne of Austria, the unhappy queen, the
childless wife of the coldest-hearted monarch that ever lived, received
the tidings with terror and confusion. It might be that the tales they
tell of certain secret communications between her and the brilliant Duke
of Buckingham were founded in truth. It might be that she had connived
at schemes for the overthrow of a minister who persecuted her. But it is
beyond doubt that she held dangerous correspondence with her own family
in Spain, that Buckingham had been negotiating with that court, and that
Montagu was his most confidential emissary. What letters might not be
upon his person at the moment of his arrest?--what papers which might
give a complete triumph to her enemies? and she had many. Happily,
however, she had many friends, sincere, devoted, fearless. At the very
moment when she was in the most profound agony of terror, one of these
was near at hand.

It is well known that gentlemen of good family but small means were in
those days proud to accept even what we consider menial offices in the
household of princes or great men. A youth of the name of Laporte had
been attached to the service of Anne of Austria, in the humble capacity
of valet-de-chambre, almost ever since her entrance into France. In one
of the many intrigues of the court he had incurred the anger of the
king, but had been permitted to enter a corps of cavalry, known as the
Gens d'armes de la Reine, as ensign. This corps, at the time of the
capture of Lord Montagu, was serving on the frontiers of Lorraine, and
was one of the first to be called toward the Chateau of Coiffy to form
part of the escort of the noble prisoner on his way to Paris. But
Laporte was not with his regiment. He was, when the news arrived, on
leave of absence in the capital, and his presence had been known to the
young queen. At midnight, and in disguise, he was brought to the Louvre;
and Anne of Austria at once laid open to her attached servant the
terrible apprehensions under which she suffered. To ascertain if her
name was at all compromised in the correspondence of Lord Montagu was of
immediate importance. It was, in fact, an affair of life and death. But
to do so seemed utterly hopeless. All the papers of the prisoner were in
the hands of his captors, and the utmost secrecy was maintained as to
their contents. Laporte, however, undertook the difficult task, and on
the following day set out to rejoin his regiment at Coiffy. The way was
long, and he did not reach the castle till the prisoner and his escort
were already on the march to Paris; but he was near enough to witness
the absurd gasconade of M. de Bourbonne, who, having gathered together a
very considerable force, notified the Duke of Lorraine of the day and
hour when he would commence his journey. A cannon was fired from the
battlements to give notice that the French troops were in motion; and
the whole body remained in battle-array for about half an hour, to give
the duke, Monsieur de Bourbonne said, an opportunity of rescuing the
prisoner if he could. When this comedy had been enacted, the worthy
Laporte joined his regiment and fell into the ranks, resolved, as he
states, to watch for some happy accident which might enable him to
communicate with the captive. Fortune favored him sooner than he
expected, and, indeed, beyond all expectation. In the midst of the
troops, consisting of some nine hundred horse, rode the Counts of
Bourbonne and Boulogne, with Lord Montagu between them, treated with
every mark of profound respect, but disarmed, without spurs, and mounted
on a small horse not very capable of competing in speed with those which
surrounded him. Laporte marked all this well; but a much more easy and
secure mode of communicating with the English nobleman than any effort
in the open field soon presented itself. The Baron de Ponthieu, a
gentleman of considerable distinction, was one of the officers of
Laporte's company of Gens d'armes de la Reine; and, as soon as he saw a
man whose leave of absence did not expire for some weeks suddenly rejoin
his regiment, an instant suspicion crossed his mind that his inferior
officer had some important object in view. The baron was one of the most
devoted partisans of the queen. He knew that Laporte was a bird of the
same color, and also that he came straight from Paris. Quick and
clear-sighted, Ponthieu, it appears, in his conjectures came near the
real object of his companion-in-arms. But he had the rare gift of
discretion; and, after having sounded Laporte and found that he was
unwilling to trust his dangerous secret even to him, he contented
himself with losing no occasion to give facilities for communication
between the queen's attendant and the English prisoner.

What marks the age as especially an age of faction is the fact that men
usually sensitive on the point of honor had not the slightest scruple in
violating their most sacred obligations and most solemn oaths in favor
of the party to which they belonged. No shame, no remorse, attached to
such acts; but, on the contrary, they were looked upon, both by actors
and observers, as proofs of chivalrous daring and skilful diplomacy.
Ponthieu and Laporte, though serving in what was called the "Queen's
Gens d'armes," were the soldiers of the king, bound by solemn oaths to
obey and serve him against all and every one; but they had not the least
hesitation in betraying their trust and violating their promise when it
was to assist the queen or thwart the minister. It was not dishonest or
disloyal in their eyes: it was honorable and chivalrous. There is too
much of this in the world even now; but there was much more then, and
the wars of the Fronde both brought the abuse to its height and in some
degree wrought its cure.

Monsieur de Bourbonne had received secret instructions to treat Lord
Montagu with every sort of consideration, while taking all measures to
prevent his escape; and at each halt upon the long march the officers of
the various corps which escorted him were invited to bear him company
during the evening, and various devices were formed for amusing the
prisoner. Ponthieu, divining, as I have said, Laporte's object, invited
his young comrade to partake his quarters, which were always near those
of De Bourbonne, and took care that he should be at all the parties
given in the evening for Montagu's entertainment. At the very first
interview, Montagu, who never forgot a face, remembered having seen the
young officer when he had visited Paris some years before; and mutual
looks of intelligence conveyed the information that Laporte was not
there without a purpose. Cards were introduced, and the ensign of the
Queen's Gens d'armes contrived to slip a pencil across to the captive.
On the succeeding night, Laporte sat at the same card-table with
Montagu, Monsieur de Bourbonne, and Ponthieu. But in shuffling the pack
the young officer let it fall, scattering the cards upon the floor. He
stooped instantly to remedy the effects of his awkwardness. Montagu
stooped also with an easy grace to assist him; and, before he rose, a
note was in his pocket, beseeching him to inform the writer if amongst
his papers there had been any matter which could compromise the queen,
and desiring him to be very careful of even mentioning her name.

On the following evening, Lord Montagu, with a free and unembarrassed
air, held out his hand to the young officer when they met, and, with
better skill than the Signor Morini, contrived to slip into the hand of
Laporte an answer to the note of the preceding night, without being seen
by any one.

It conveyed the joyful news that the queen's name had never been
mentioned in the papers which had fallen into the hands of the captors,
and that Montagu himself would rather die than compromise her in any
way.

Nevertheless, although he knew the anxiety and suspense of his royal
lady, Laporte did not venture to trust the billet out of his own hands,
nor again to quit his regiment to carry the intelligence himself. He was
forced, therefore, to accompany the prisoner's escort by slow marches to
Paris, and to see Montagu lodged in the Bastille. As soon as that was
done, however, he found his way secretly to the Louvre, and easily
explained to Anne of Austria the causes of his delay and the complete
success of his mission. He tells the story himself; but, with the usual
fate of zeal, intelligence, and devotion, his services were but poorly
rewarded, though they were highly praised.



CHAPTER XXXVI.


And where was Edward Langdale all this time? On the day which saw Lord
Montagu a prisoner in the Bastille, the poor lad had been just a month
in the Chateau de Coiffy; and his captivity was not yet at an end. Care
had been taken that he should have no opportunity of seeing Lord
Montagu; and, though he was well treated, and his personal liberty
seemed but little abridged within the walls, there was a cold, silent
guard kept over him which tended a good deal to subdue his impatient
spirit. If he spoke to any one, he received a civil answer; but it was
confined to two or three words, and never afforded any information. If
he asked for writing-materials, they were promised, but never came. If
he walked on one of the ramparts, there was a soldier at each end, who
never lost sight of him; and his own chamber, with one or two of the
passages near, was the only place where he found himself free from
supervision. His principal resort was the walls, where on fine days he
would sit and think, and gaze over the undulating country round, for
hours,--pondering his own fate, dreaming of Lucette, or asking himself
what the conduct of Monsieur de Bourbonne could mean.

It certainly had its meaning; and the secret was a very simple one. The
reader has already the key in the few words spoken by the count on the
first night of Edward's captivity. He had determined that the youth
should have no communication with Richelieu till he himself had reaped
the reward he expected for the valuable services he believed he had
rendered.

For many reasons, however, the cardinal was slower in bestowing that
reward than the count anticipated. In the first place, his mind was
profoundly occupied with matters which we shall have to touch upon
hereafter. In the next place, the service of the count was not so great
as he imagined. Lord Montagu was a prisoner, it is true; the treaty with
Spain, Lorraine, and Savoy was in the minister's hands; and the schemes
of the external enemies of France were dissipated or deranged; but there
were few names in France itself implicated by the papers which had been
seized, and fewer letters found which could bring home to Richelieu's
foes the treason which many of them had certainly meditated. Thus, day
after day passed without bringing to Monsieur de Bourbonne the expected
recompense; and it suited well with the cardinal's policy to keep the
nobility of the kingdom expectants upon the bounty of the minister, as
they were now daily becoming, rather than dictators to the Government,
as they had too long been. Poor Edward suffered without the minister
knowing it, and, at the end of three long months, the youth determined
to endure but a few days longer. He contrived, with some oil and the
soot of his lamp, to fabricate a sort of ink. A leaf torn out of one of
the books which were amongst the baggage returned to him served him for
paper sufficient to write on; and with such rude materials he contrived
to indite a letter to Monsieur de Bourbonne, which will explain itself.

    "Sir," he said, "you informed me that you would send me to the
    cardinal prime minister by the very first opportunity; and on that
    understanding I gave my parole not to escape. You have broken your
    word; and I might be held justifiable in breaking mine: but the word
    of an English gentleman is too sacred to be trifled with. I
    therefore give you notice of my intention to leave the Castle of
    Coiffy as soon as I find an opportunity of doing so after this
    letter has had full time to reach you and you have had full time to
    take your measures accordingly. Your men have debarred me the use of
    pen and ink and cut me off from all communication with others. They
    may neglect or refuse to carry this letter; but I shall give it to
    one of them for that purpose, and if it do not reach you the fault
    is not that of EDWARD LANGDALE.

    "_Postscriptum_.--I shall not set out for fourteen days."

This epistle was given to the servant who brought his food, with an
injunction to have it given to the post-courier. At first the man
hesitated to take it; but, on seeing that it was directed to his master,
he ultimately consented; and Edward applied all his thoughts to devise
the means of carrying the resolution he had expressed into execution,
let Monsieur de Bourbonne take what precautions he would. The fourteen
days passed without any answer, and all seemed dull and tranquil as
before; but some messengers had been coming and going, and Edward little
doubted that one of them bore directions in regard to himself. To test
the fact, on the fifteenth morning he walked out upon the walls and
approached quietly one of the little flights of steps that led down from
the ramparts toward some of the outworks. Instantly the sentinel
presented his musketoon, saying, "You cannot pass here."

"Why not?" asked the youth. "I have passed before."

"The orders are changed," answered the man, gruffly. "Keep off, I say."

Edward was satisfied. Monsieur de Bourbonne had received his letter: his
parole was at an end; and he felt almost as if he were already free. Two
days passed without his making any attempt to escape; but he carefully
selected every thing from amongst his baggage which was most valuable,
including money, and packed it in the smallest compass. Sometimes,
indeed, he was tempted to leave all behind him, for he foresaw that he
should have to swim the canal; but the absolute necessity of money in
almost every transaction of life he had learned early, and he remembered
that he had a large piece of France to traverse. His attention was next
directed to ascertain if, by passing boldly through the interior of the
chateau, he could not turn the position of the sentinels upon the walls
just in face of his windows, and emerge upon the opposite ramparts,
which, from all he recollected of the approach to the castle, and from
various other circumstances which had come to his knowledge during his
long stay, he imagined were neither very high nor very well guarded.
Away he went, then, along the passage through which he had always been
allowed to pass, to a door at the end on the left-hand side, where there
had usually sat a servant, and which he had understood,--believed would
be the better word, for he knew not what had led him to the
conclusion,--which he believed led to the apartments of the Countess of
Bourbonne. But now no servant sat there, either to question or let him
pass. The door, however, was shut; and when he tried it he found it
locked.

It was a great disappointment; for the servant who usually sat there was
sometimes male, sometimes female, and he had calculated that he could
devise some means of getting either out of the way. The ramparts before
his windows were too steep for him to attempt the leap. Had the fosse
been immediately below, he might have risked it, trusting that the water
would soften his fall; but a ridge of dry ground ran along under the
wall, and the breaking or dislocation of a limb, with his consequent
recapture, was inevitable. He returned to his room, then, disappointed
but not disheartened, and instantly applied himself to form some new
scheme. The first thought that struck him was that a rope ladder might
be constructed from the ropes which in those days garnished every
bedstead in France. It would be short, indeed, but at all events it
might diminish the distance between the parapet and the ground, and by
dropping from the last round he would not, he thought, have more than
eight or ten feet to fall. He instantly set to work to detach the ropes
from the sacking; but he had not unlaced a yard before he asked himself
how, when it was constructed, he was to fasten the upper end of his
ladder to the parapet. With all his ingenuity, he was puzzled. There was
nothing in the room of which he could make a hook,--nothing in the
world, except an ancient pair of tongs for putting wood upon the fire;
and he might as well have tried to make a hook out of the Colossus of
Rhodes. He looked round and round in vain, when suddenly, as his eyes
rested upon the heavy key in the lock of the door, he thought that keys
would sometimes fit more locks than one. He took it out at once, greased
it well with oil from the lamp, and walked quietly along to the door at
the end of the passage. It was still locked, and by applying his eye to
the key-hole he saw that there was no obstruction. The key had been
taken away,--probably to prevent any tampering with the servants on the
part of the young prisoner. But he saw also three persons sitting by a
large fireplace in the long gallery before him. They were a lady of two
or three and twenty,--probably Madame de Bourbonne,--a very beautiful
child, three years old perhaps, and another woman, whose dress betrayed
the soubrette.

Edward had to return to his room again and wait with impatience for the
trial of the key. As he meditated by the remains of his fire, he
remembered having heard that, but a year or two before, the famous Duke
of Buckingham himself, while ambassador in Paris, in a wild frolic had
passed through the whole of the royal palace disguised as the White
Lady.

"Some sort of disguise might not be amiss," thought Edward. "Each of
these old chateaux has some superstitious tale attached to it. A sheet
and a little lampblack will make a very good ghost. But it is not yet
time."

His impatience had wellnigh ruined all, however; for, just as he was
about to take one of the sheets from the bed to tear a hole for his head
to pass through, the servant entered his room with a fresh supply of
wood.

"When does Monsieur de Bourbonne return?" asked Edward "I hope when he
does he will give me a warmer room."

"I do not know," answered the man, piling some more wood on the fire.
"Some say he comes Saturday. That is the day after to-morrow."

Edward let him depart, and then sat and listened. For at least two hours
sounds were still to be heard in the chateau; but they gradually died
away. At midnight the password was heard upon the walls; then there was
some tramping up and down; and then all was silent. Edward knew that
there was a snug, warm pavilion, or look-out, thrown forth from the
walls, whence the whole line of the curtain on that side could be seen,
but which was sheltered from all rude winds; and he doubted not the two
guards had retreated to its friendly covering,--for it was a cold spring
night, and the keen blast was sweeping over the open country round. He
waited some five minutes longer, and then wrapped the sheet round him,
smeared his face with the soot of the lamp, and sallied out with the key
in his hand. All was darkness in the passage, and he had to feel with
his fingers along the wall, not without some anxiety as to how he should
find his way through the part of the house with which he was not
acquainted. Liberty was at stake, however, and on he went. Fortune
favored him: at the end of the passage a faint light came through the
key-hole of the door he was in search of. It was red, though dim; and he
at once comprehended that it did not proceed from any lamp left burning,
but from the embers of a half-exhausted fire. Then came the
all-important moment. Quietly and slowly he applied the key to the lock.
It entered readily; but when he came to turn it there was some
resistance. He was almost in despair; but, thinking he might not have
pressed the key home, he pushed hard, and it started forward with some
noise. He paused to listen, but there was no sound, and, twisting it
slowly round, the lock gave way, the door opened, and the gallery he had
seen through the key-hole was before him, with the wood fire burnt low
in a large fireplace on the left-hand side. There were a number of doors
on the right, tight shut, to keep out the wintry air; but the gallery
was vacant, and the fire gave light enough. On then he strode toward the
opposite end, calculating that he was now in the great tower or
lodging-part of the castle, and soon reached the farther extremity of
the gallery, where another door presented itself, with the key in the
lock. The moment he opened it, the cold air rushed in, and he found
himself in a little garden upon the inner ramparts. All was still; and
there seemed nothing there but one or two bare apple-trees and some
withered shrubs and flowers.

The rampart, however, was very high, and all the young man's trouble
would have been in vain had he not divined that there must be some lower
outwork to defend the foot of the wall. The moon was not yet up: there
was no light but that of the stars; and he walked cautiously along under
the parapet till he came to some descending steps. He could see no one
on the walls; but the dry leaves crackled under his footsteps and more
than once made him stop, thinking a sentinel was near. At the bottom of
the steps was another wall, with embrasures and a solitary cannon,
evidently commanding the approach from some work below; and, making his
way along for about forty steps, Edward reached some more stairs, which
led him down to what seemed a small bastion.

At the foot he paused, for upon the wall of the outwork he perceived
some dark object, which he could not clearly make out. It was too large
for a man, he thought, and it remained motionless; and after gazing for
several minutes he quietly mounted the five steps which led up to the
platform. He then perceived that the object which had alarmed him was a
rude sentry-box, with a cannon hard by; and, having ascertained that it
was empty, he looked over and beheld the river flowing quietly through
the fosse at the foot.

The wall was about eleven feet in height, and he certainly would not
have feared to leap. But noise was to be avoided; and, tying the end of
the sheet to one of the trunnions of the cannon, the young adventurer
let himself down by his hands as far as he could, and then dropped into
the water. A slight splash was all the sound; but he sunk deep, and his
feet touched the bottom. He rose again, however, and, thanking in heart
the harsh angler who had first counselled him to learn to swim, he
struck out for the other side of the fosse, and reached it in a moment.
It was a sharp night, it is true, for cold bathing; but his heart felt
warm with the consciousness of freedom, and, getting amongst the low
bushes which covered a good part of the ground on the Lorraine side of
the castle, he walked rapidly round to the other side, and then struck
across the country directly toward the heart of Burgundy.

Edward had many motives for so shaping his course. He had heard a vague
rumor that the Duke of Lorraine had made his peace with France, and
therefore he was as likely to be interrupted in the duke's territories
as anywhere. In the next place, he knew that his evasion must be
discovered early on the following morning, and the pursuit was of course
likely to be directed on the side where the open doors and the sheet
tied to the cannon gave evidence of the course he had first taken. But,
after all, there was a certain degree of whim, or character, or call it
what you like, in it. He had told Monsieur de Bourbonne that if at
liberty he would go straight to the Cardinal de Richelieu. Some people
might have thought that it was going straight into a lion's den. But
Edward did not fear; and he determined to go frankly and at once throw
himself upon the cardinal's generosity, tell him all he had done and all
he had suffered, and show him that he had kept his word in coming back
to him, though only seven months, instead of two years, had passed since
they had parted. He anticipated no obstruction in that direction if he
could once get at a distance from Coiffy; for he still had the
cardinal's safe-conduct about him.



CHAPTER XXXVII.


Twenty miles in a day is no great walking. I myself have walked forty in
ten hours. But the great point is what we walk over. It is the great
point in life, too; for the worthy patriarchs, I have no doubt,
journeyed through life for two or three hundred years without getting
weary, simply because they had such an easy road to travel. Abraham had
to fight now and then, it is true, and from time to time there was a
quarrel amongst the herdsmen; but these were little incidents that only
served to enliven the way; and the rest of the travel was without
excitement of mind or great exertion of body. If Abraham or Isaac or
Jacob had passed through nothing but low entangling bushes,--bilberries
and cranberries, and sometimes blackberries, with their long prickly
arms,--they would have laid themselves down to rest much sooner, and
felt themselves as tired as Edward Langdale when, just about daybreak,
he reached the end of the twentieth mile from the Chateau of Coiffy.

Edward had then arrived at a country somewhat more open; and he sat
himself down to rest not far from a little country-road, which he could
trace by the eye, running on, almost in a straight line, toward the tall
square tower of a village-church. But that village-church was at least
six miles distant; and Edward had not tasted food during fourteen or
fifteen hours. His wet clothes had dried upon him, too, under the cold
night-wind, stiffening every limb; and he had no comfortable little
brandy-bottle, such as so often cheers the way for the modern romantic
traveller.

The spot where he stopped, however, was a dry grassy mound, with some
yellow broken ground before it; and out of the bank welled a little
clear rivulet, where he quenched his thirst after the olden fashion
before ladles or goblets were invented.

While he was still stooping down he heard the beat of horses' feet upon
the road; and, with that strong consciousness of running away which
makes every man who possesses it more or less timid, he hid himself
under the bank as well as he could.

Presently, as well as the footfalls, he heard the sound of voices; and
for a moment his apprehension was increased by one of the voices
sounding familiar to his ear.

He was relieved in a moment, however,--and very much relieved.

"Why, you are drunk already, you beast!" said one voice; and then came
the thick and juicy tones of good Pierrot la Grange, with the music of
brandy very strong in them. "To-be-sure I am," answered Pierrot. "Have I
not had sorrow and trouble enough to make me drunk every day of the
week for the last three months? My noble lord in prison; Master Ned no
one knows where,--the only lad in all this world that could keep me
straight."

"Pierrot! Pierrot!" shouted Edward; "Jacques Beaupré! halt there! I am
nearer than you think."

The two horsemen stopped, the one with a dumb and stupefied gaze around,
a little conscience-stricken, perhaps, at the state in which he had to
present himself to his young master, the other with an observation in a
low tone as to the consequences of talking of the devil. But Edward was
soon by their side, and they were not long upon their horses' backs.
Each was sincerely glad to see the young Englishman; for force of
character as often wins affection as respect. Edward's adventures were
soon told; and luckily the two men had some solid provisions with them,
as well as Pierrot's brandy-bottle,--which was now nearly vacant of its
contents. While the young gentleman ate and drank, the history of the
two servants was related, at somewhat greater length than his own,
though it was a very monotonous one. They had remained at Nancy with the
rest of Lord Montagu's servants for some time, they said, before they
heard of that nobleman's capture. After the news reached them, a week
was spent, according to Jacques Beaupré, in active deliberations, at the
end of which, as they had a sufficiency of money, their wages having
been paid for some time in advance, it was determined to stay quietly
where they were till they received some orders. One or two of their
comrades, however, dropped off from time to time, till the two Frenchmen
and young Freeland only remained of the whole party. For week after week
no news came; but at length, some four days previous to that on which
they spoke, a messenger had arrived from Lord Montagu, announcing his
liberation and bearing funds to pay all expenses. At the same time, they
said, Master Freeland was ordered to give them their discharge, and they
were actually on their way back to their own part of France.

"And so his lordship is liberated?" said Edward, with a slight touch of
bitterness in his tone; for he could not imagine such an event to have
happened so suddenly that Montagu, who had found time to take care of
common servants, had none to bestow a thought on him. "You are going
back to Aunis, you say. Well, my good fellows, if you have a mind for
such a companion, I will go with you. I will be no charge to you, for I
have money enough with me. All I want is a horse and some arms."

"Charge, Master Ned!" exclaimed Pierrot, in a burst of semi-drunken
enthusiasm. "What care we about charges? If it were the last crown I had
in the world, I would share it with you. And as to a horse, here, get
upon mine. I can walk well enough to that big village there, which they
say is called Vitell. But here; let me take the pistols out of the
holsters. I won't trust you with them, by the Lord!"

"Nonsense!" answered Edward. "I will not use them, man, upon my honor."

"No, no," said Pierrot, deliberately taking the pistols from his
saddle-bow. "If once you get your hand upon the stock, there is no
knowing where the bullets may go flying; and my legs have got lead
enough in them already this morning."

"Your head has got brandy enough in it," said Jacques Beaupré: "that's
what puts the lead in your heels. Here; let me hold the horse while our
young master mounts, or you'll be down with your nose in the water and
set the fountain boiling."

"If all the water in the world could wash it white," answered Pierrot,
"I would tumble into a pond every day. It is that nose of mine gets me a
bad reputation and makes men say I drink. Why, every man drinks. It
entirely depends upon what men drink. But, after all, I think I had
better try the cold water; for somehow I have a notion if I try to walk
to Vitell with nothing but brandy in my stomach I shall make the
distance three times as long with zigzags and vagaries."

Thus saying, while Edward mounted, very well pleased with some relief to
his tired legs, Pierrot knelt down by the side of a tolerably deep
little pool formed by the rivulet at the side of the road, and, putting
his lips to the clear water, took a deep draught. Jacques Beaupré,
however, seemed to think that the water had better be applied externally
also, and, giving him a push with his foot, sent him headlong into the
pool.

The good man started up with a furious look; but we have already seen
the singular effect which liquor had upon poor Pierrot la Grange,--an
effect quite contrary to that which it produces on most men. The reader
will not be surprised, then, that, though really angry, Pierrot sought
no vengeance upon his assailant.

Had we time, and were it worth while, I might be inclined to examine
psychologically into this peculiarity of Pierrot's idiosyncrasy; but
suffice it to say that the result probably proceeded from one of two
causes. Nothing cows like shame carried to a certain degree; and Pierrot
at heart was always ashamed of being drunk. On the other hand, as when
he did drink he never stopped at that point where liquor merely
exhilarates, but generally went far enough to deprive both brain and
limbs of vigor, he might feel very doubtful of his capability to combat
an enemy even much weaker than himself.

However that might be, his immersion in cold water produced its usual
effect. I do not say that it sobered him entirely: that would be too
much; but it certainly greatly relieved his head, and gave his limbs a
capability of direct progression which they had not previously
possessed.

"Come, come, Pierrot," said Edward, interrupting him in the midst of
terrible threats against Jacques, "we have no time to lose, my good
friend. Did I not tell you that it is likely that I shall be pursued at
once? We must get to the village as fast as possible, and then ride hard
for the rest of the day, in order to put as great a distance between us
and Coiffy as we can."

"Go on, then; go on," cried Pierrot: "I will come after as fast as I
can. You can be buying a horse and arms in the mean time, if you can
find them. If not, I suppose you must take to _franc étrier_."

Edward took him at his word, and, accompanied by Jacques Beaupré, rode
on, running over in his mind, with his usual quickness, his chances of
escape and the best means of securing it. He did not know, indeed, how
far the local jurisdiction, either as seigneur or Government officer, of
the Count de Bourbonne extended; but he felt certain that, if he could
once get beyond its limits, no other governor or Government officer
would recognise it in opposition to the safe-conduct under the
cardinal's own hand. Speed, therefore, was every thing; and, though he
had neither whip nor spur with him, his light hand and thorough
horsemanship easily kept Pierrot's horse at a swift trot till they
reached the village of Vitell.

France has always been a comfortable country to travel in. Most villages
have always possessed a tolerable inn, though the external man was
sometimes not so well provided for as the internal. But what Edward
principally wanted at that moment was generally in those days to be
found in almost any part of France. People then almost universally
travelled on horseback, and very rarely went without arms. Pistols and a
good sword, therefore, were soon found in Vitell. But a horse took
longer to obtain, not from any want of the commodity,--for there were
plenty of very excellent nags in the town,--but from the invariable and
unextinguishable propensity inherent in horse-dealers to cheat the
chapman, and never to sell a good horse under any circumstances if they
can sell a bad one. Six were brought in succession to the door of the
inn for Edward's inspection, without remaining for more than a minute
before he ordered them away. At length, however, one of the dealers,
perceiving that he had not to do with a novice, as Edward's youth had at
first led him to imagine, thought fit to bring forth from the stable a
beast which, though not very handsome and somewhat vicious,--if not so
great a devil as that which Edward rode from Angers,--was a good
serviceable beast enough. All these things cost but a small sum compared
with the price which we should pay for them in the present day; and
bridle, saddle, and a pair of spurs were quite within the young
gentleman's means.

Pierrot had arrived in time to give his opinion in regard to the
purchase of the horse, and, as he was now sober, that opinion was worth
having. But the first moment he found himself alone with his former
master he was eloquent in his excuses for his relapse; and Edward could
not but admit to himself that, left alone in a great city where he knew
no one, uncertain of his fate from day to day, and with sufficient
money, no poor sinner had ever better cause to plead temptation.

The young Englishman contented himself, however, with telling him that
as he was no longer his master he could pretend to no control over his
conduct.

"Ah, Master Ned," cried the honest fellow, "do not say I am no longer
your servant! Pray, do control me. I am sure I cannot control myself.
You are the only one who ever could; and I do believe if I could but
stay with you for a couple of years I should get over my bad habits. See
what an effect good training had. All the time I was at Nancy, I
declare, I did not drink two quarts till this very morning. Ask Jacques
Beaupré: he will tell you the same; and if you will but let me serve you
for two years you may read my name backward if I ever drink again."

"I am afraid, my good friend," answered Edward, "you would always be
what the Catholics call a relapsed convert. As to serving me two years,
Pierrot, God knows what will become of me before two years are over, and
in the mean time I have little enough money for myself,--and none to
keep a man upon."

"Well, well," cried Pierrot, joyfully, "I will run fortune with you!
Only don't send me away, and don't fire at me any more, unless you see
me drunk,--when it will be natural. But now tell me, Master Ned, where
are you going now?"

"Into the lion's den, Pierrot," replied Edward, with a somewhat rueful
smile: "I am going straight to the Cardinal de Richelieu."

"In the name of Heaven!" exclaimed Pierrot, with a look of astonishment,
"do you know he is now besieging Rochelle with a powerful army? The king
has fallen sick and gone back to Paris. The cardinal has tucked up his
gown and turned soldier; and our poor friends in the city are already,
they say, so badly off for food that they will soon have to eat each
other. The cardinal will not let a mouse stir out, and if any one
ventures beyond the walls they send a shot at him and drive him in
again."

Edward mused without reply for some moments; and, while he was still
silent, Jacques Beaupré came back to the little _salle-à-manger_ and
stood by the young gentleman's side.

"Poor Clement Tournon!" cried Edward, still musing.

"Ay, poor Clement Tournon!" said Jacques Beaupré, in a sad tone: "he is
a good man, sir, and took care of me from my boyhood."

"I would give the world to save him," answered Edward. "Come, let us
ride."

They were soon upon their horses. Edward mounted first and Pierrot last,
having stopped to answer some questions of the host.

"What did he ask you?" said Edward, as they rode on.

"He asked where your lordship was going," answered Pierrot, "and I told
him straight to the cardinal."

"Right," said Edward. "And did he call me lordship, Pierrot? My lordship
is a very small one."

"Ay, sir, but you have got quite a grand air now, though your doublet is
somewhat soiled by dust and wet. You cannot think how you are changed
since we left Nantes. What between riding, and getting stuck, and being
in prison, you have grown broad and brown, and your mustache is an inch
long. Those who saw you before would never know you."

"I hope they will," answered Edward, with a smile followed by a sigh;
"and, as for my doublet, I must get a new one, whenever I can afford to
stop without danger. All my baggage I left with the discreet Monsieur de
Bourbonne. But, if I am not mistaken, Pierrot, I will make him pay all
he owes me before I have done."

"At the pistol's point?" asked Pierrot, with a grim smile.

"No, no," replied Edward,--"in another way, and by other hands. But let
us ride on fast; for I have a great notion the news you left with the
aubergist will sharpen the spurs of any who may be pursuing us."

The whole party accordingly rode forward more quickly, but not at so
headlong a pace as to risk any damage to their horses; and before night
all fear of pursuit was ended by their entrance into another province,
where, at a small walled town, which they reached just after sunset,
Edward was obliged to produce his safe-conduct before the soldiers at
the gates would give them admission.

The officer to whom it was shown, at the first sight of the broad seal
of France and the name of Richelieu, respectfully came out of the
guard-house to bid the bearer welcome, and asked, with great politeness,
where he was going to lodge in the town, and whither his journey was
directed.

"I am going straight to Rochelle, or wherever his Eminence of Richelieu
may be," replied the young Englishman. "As to the place where I shall
lodge, I shall be glad of advice; for I am a stranger here, and must
depart early to-morrow."

"Your horses look tired, sir," said the officer, "and you had better
give them some rest."

"No wonder they are tired," replied the young man; "for we have ridden
from the frontiers of Lorraine, where I was somewhat badly treated, lost
all my baggage, but luckily saved my purse."

"By brigands?" asked the officer.

"No better," answered Edward, somewhat bitterly. "But may I ask you the
way to the best inn?"

The officer, all politeness, sent one of the soldiers to show him the
way; and in a large, comfortable, though somewhat gloomy, old auberge
the young Englishman passed the first night for several months with a
feeling of freedom and security.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.


We left Edward Langdale at nightfall, and, by the reader's good leave,
may as well take him up again about the same hour, but with an interval
of some ten days. The interval measured upon the earth's surface must be
equally great. When we last saw him he was entering a little town on
the frontiers of Burgundy, just after the cool sunset of a chilly spring
day. He was now riding out of the fine old town of Niort after a warm
day's journey; for even under the genial sky of France ten days will
make a great difference, and bring the warm breath of the South to
expand the flowers, though winter even there will sometimes linger in
the lap of spring.

"Well, sir," said Jacques Beaupré, who was a good deal tired with a
longer day's ride than usual, "everybody says you will find the town
full of soldiers; and we all know where fighting men are there is no
room for civil men."

"We will find room, Jacques," replied Edward, in a light, confident
tone; "and, as to civility, if we don't show ourselves too militant, the
fighting-men will be civil enough, depend on it. But, my good friend, I
must, if possible, see the cardinal to-morrow. They tell me that an
assault upon Rochelle will be made shortly; and, if I could but get into
the town for a few hours----"

Jacques Beaupré shook his head, saying, "Ah, sir, it is all in vain. I
will go as far to help poor old Clement Tournon as any man; but the good
syndic is most likely dead of starvation by this time; and, if he is
not, you might as well try to persuade a cat to let a mouse get out of
her jaws as attempt to persuade his Eminence to let one single soul, old
or young, get out of Rochelle."

"I will try, at all events," answered Edward. "He who makes no effort
never succeeds. He who makes an effort may fail, but he may succeed. The
man who helped me at my utmost need shall never say that I did not try
to help him when he was in a harder scrape. Ride on, ride on: we have
still three leagues to go."

The twilight grew fainter as they went, and it was quite dark when they
emerged from the little wood which lies about a quarter of a league from
the small old town of Fontenay, then universally called Rohan Rohan. It
is now a mere insignificant burgh; but in those times and in the time
before it was a small city of some importance,--if not for its commerce,
at least for its capabilities for defence. It had even ventured a short
time before to set at defiance the arms of France, and had made an
obstinate resistance, but, having fallen at length, had suffered
severely from the captors.

It was night, as I have said, when Edward and his two companions first
came within sight; and very little of the place would have been visible
had not a large body of men, which formed the rear-guard of the royal
army, been marched out some days before and encamped a mile beyond the
town. Every one who has seen a camp must have remarked how much more
light finds its way to the sky from amongst the tents in the early part
of the night than arises from amongst the houses of a city, though,
perhaps, much more populous; and now the blaze from watch-fires and
lamps and torches threw out the dark masses of the town of Rohan Rohan,
with its fine old castle, in strong relief.

It is rarely that the rear of an army is guarded with as much care as
its van. Few captains are as careful as Earl Percy. But in this case
negligence was more excusable; for no one in all the camp ever dreamed
of such a thing as an attack in the rear. Moreover, to say the truth,
that rear-guard in advance of Rohan Rohan was composed of a somewhat
disorderly set, gentlemen and soldiers alike, not one of whom wished
particularly to see the fall of Rochelle.

To explain the cause of this indifference would take up too much time;
but the words of Bassompierre revealed the fact when he said, "You will
see we shall be fools enough to take Rochelle."

However that might be, Edward and his companions had passed the centre
of the town before they saw a single soldier. It was badly lighted, it
is true; but the cause of their not seeing any was that there were none
to be seen. The young gentleman looked for guard, or picquet, or patrol,
in vain, till he arrived within a hundred yards of the end of the street
which leads up from Pont de Cossé to the castle. There, however, he was
challenged for the first time,--one of a group of musketeers who were
drinking at the door of a house starting up and demanding the password.

Edward, unable to give it, requested to see the man's officer, and was
led unceremoniously into the house, where he found an old gray-headed
gentleman seated reading, with his steel cap upon the table. To him the
young gentleman's errand was soon explained, and his safe-conduct
exhibited.

"I cannot let you pass, young gentleman, without further orders," said
the old man; "but if you will wait here for an hour I will send on your
name and the description of your pass to our commander. He will soon let
us hear from him. I am rather curiously situated myself, and therefore
must be careful."

"I must wait the leisure of the king's officers," answered Edward, in a
civil tone. "But, in the mean while, perhaps my two men, who are
without, can get some forage for the horses and some food for
themselves. I have not seen an inn open in the whole place."

"I suppose not," said the old officer, dryly. "But some of my people
will easily find for yours what they want. Pray, be seated and wait till
my return."

He was not gone more than five minutes; and then about an hour passed in
broken and desultory conversation between him and his visitor, whom he
treated with every sort of distinction,--for by this time Edward was
once more equipped in the garments of a gentleman of the court, which
were none the less gentlemanly for being plain and sober. Some of the
old man's questions and observations seemed to his young companion
somewhat strange: he asked if Edward had met any parties of armed men on
the road, how long he had travelled, which way he had come, and remarked
that this siege was a weary business, but that the cardinal was
determined to carry Rochelle whatever it might cost.

Edward replied as shortly as politeness permitted, and only put a few
questions in return. Amongst them, however, he inquired who was the
officer commanding the troops in front, and heard, with sensations not
altogether pleasant, that his name was Monsieur de Lude, into whose
hands he had fallen once before.

At the end of an hour he was relieved, however; for a soldier, entering
the room with every appearance of haste, gave a letter into the hands
of the old officer, who opened and read it with a good deal of
merriment.

"Monsieur de Lude writes thus," he said: "'Present my compliments to
Monsieur de Langdale and inform him that I cannot let him pass the posts
till I have the cardinal's permission, which I have no doubt will be
given as soon as he hears his name.' Shall I read the rest?" asked the
old officer.

Edward nodded, and he went on thus:--"'I got into a devil of a scrape
last summer about him and a girl he had with him. Who the mischief he is
I don't know; but, by what the cardinal said when I saw him, I think he
must be his Eminence's pet cat turned into a cavalier. On your life, be
as civil to him as possible; give him the best rooms in the castle, and
feed and drink him well, till I can come over myself,--which will be as
soon as I hear from the cardinal to-morrow. I am half afraid to stop
him. But what can I do? The orders are strict not to let any one pass
the posts, because'----The rest," continued the old man, abruptly,
"refers to matters of no consequence. You will find the rooms of the
castle very comfortable, for they were inhabited by the Duc de Rohan but
a few weeks before we sat down before the place, and some of the old
servants have been suffered to remain till the king's pleasure is known.
Heaven grant there be no ghosts there to disturb you!--though there are
some strange tales, as in regard to every old country-house."

"I am not afraid of any thing unsubstantial," answered Edward. "Do you
know what has become of the Duc de Rohan?"

"No,--not rightly," replied the old officer, with some slight
hesitation. "They did say he was threatening the right flank of the army
with a body of horse; but he must have found out by this time it was of
no use. Men must submit to circumstances, sir. But let us go. I will
have the honor of escorting you. We shall find your servants somewhere
about." And, calling aloud for torches, he led the way out of the low
house where he had taken up his quarters, and gave some orders to the
men about the door.

Before the torches were lighted and Edward Langdale and his companion,
with two men before them, had proceeded a hundred yards up the hill,
Jacques Beaupré and Pierrot had joined them, leading the horses. In
sooth, the party proceeded exceedingly slowly; and it took a full
quarter of an hour to reach the gates of the chateau. All watch and ward
was gone; and at the inner door of the lodging-part of the building
appeared a tremulous old man with a candle in his hand. The old officer
called him "Matthew," as if they had been long acquainted, and ordered
him briefly to pay every attention to the guest and give him the best
chambers in the house.

"Those are the duchess's apartments," said the old majordomo. "We will
have a fire lighted in a moment, gentlemen; but I fear me there is not
much in the house to eat. However, I will tell old Henri Borgne, who was
cook here before Maître Grondin's father came, to get something ready
with all speed."

"No, no," said the old officer: "this gentleman is not fond of
antediluvian sauces. I will make shift to send him up a roast chicken
and a pottage. We are not particularly well off for provisions down
below; but I can find something, and I think, Matthew, you can find the
wine."

"Hush, hush, sir," said the old man, in a low voice: "if your soldiers
did but hear."

"I will break the first man's neck that climbs the hill," replied the
officer.

"I want nothing," said Edward. "We supped at Cossé, and my men have
taken care of themselves below, depend upon it. Where is the duchess
now, Monsieur Matthew? and who has she got with her?"

"Oh, she is in Venice still," replied the old man; "and there are Madame
St. Aignan, and Mademoiselle de Mirepoix, and three or four maids, and
the serving-men. Do you know her, sir? She's a fine lady, and mighty
gay."

"I have not the honor," said Edward. "But now, my good man, let the fire
be lighted: I shall go to bed soon, for I have ridden long and hard. I
trust," he continued, addressing the old officer, "that Monsieur de Lude
will communicate my coming to his Eminence as soon as possible; for it
is very necessary that I should see him without delay."

"Be you sure he will do that," replied the other. "De Lude is not a man
to burn his fingers twice with the same chestnut."

He then took his leave. The old servant with the candle marshalled the
way ceremoniously to a very splendid suite of apartments which had
escaped, I know not how, from the rude hands of the soldiers when the
town was taken. Pierrot and Jacques Beaupré disposed of themselves,
doubtless very comfortably; and Edward sat down to meditate. The reader
need not ask what was the subject of his thoughts, if he remembers that
those were the halls and dwelling-place of the ancestors of Lucette.

"Was it a dream?" he asked himself. Hardly nine months before, had he
passed with her not many miles from that very spot? had they wandered
alone together for weeks without restraint? had they borne suffering,
anxiety, danger in dear companionship which made even danger sweet? had
they been married, parted, met again, and again parted?

There are times when a sensation of the unreality of all things upon
this earth comes over us,--when memory seems but a dream, our past acts
a vision, our hopes, our fears, our enjoyments, but the fancies of the
fleeting hour.

For an instant it was so with Edward Langdale as he sat and gazed into
the flickering and phantasm-begetting fire. But when he turned his eyes
around upon those old walls, whose scrolls and sconces and fantastic
ornaments all spoke of the past,--all told that he was in the dwelling
of the Rohan Rohans,--the strange, shadowy doubts vanished: he felt that
there was something real in the world,--something more real than mere
tangible objects; that, if all else died or passed away like a show, the
realities of heart and mind must remain forever,--that esteem,
affection, love, truth, honesty and honor, genius and wisdom, can never
perish.

How long he sat he knew not; but his meditations were interrupted by the
old servant bringing in fresh wood, with a man from the town below,
bearing a tray of provisions.

The former he was glad to have, for the night had grown chilly; but the
latter he sent away to Pierrot and Beaupré, bidding them eat and then go
to rest, as he wanted nothing more. The old man, after reverent offers
of service, put some fresh candles in the sconces and left him, assuring
him that he should have had candlesticks,--fine silver flambeaux,--but
that they had been taken away.

Edward, left alone, began to pace up and down the room. He looked at the
bed, which seemed comfortable enough, and thought of lying down; but he
had no inclination to sleep. The chamber was a square room in an angle
of the tower, one side looking to the south and the other to the east.
The windows were without blinds or shutters. Edward advanced to one on
the southern side, from which there was a view over a considerable part
of the camp. The glow which had risen in that direction some hours
before had considerably diminished: the watch-fires were dying out; the
torches no longer moved about from place to place. He lifted his eyes to
the sky, studded with stars, and saw a planet with a pure mild light
moving upward untwinkling amongst the more steadfast watchers of the
night.

"Can there be any truth," he thought, "in those tales of the
astrologers? Can the fate of many men, of many nations, depend upon the
course of such a pale, silent orb as that?" And, turning to the table
again, he sat down and let his thoughts run on in the new course they
had assumed. Every thing grew more and more silent around. The village
clock struck. He did not count its sounds, but he felt it must be near
midnight.

Who can tell what it is which, when alone and in silence, at that still
spectral hour, seems to chill the warm blood of the heart, and fills the
brain with ideas vague, and awful, and sublime,--with fancies gloomy, if
not fearful?

Edward sat thoughtfully for nearly half an hour longer. The fire had
fallen low, and he rose and threw some more wood upon it; but it would
not burn. He then rose and went to the other window, which looked
eastward. The moon was just rising, and he could see over a wide extent
of country, with the wood which he had passed on his way to Fontenay on
the left of the picture, then half a mile or so of open sandy ground,
then another wood to the right, and farther still, on the same side,
but more distant, the spires and towers of some other little town. There
was the haziness of moonlight over the whole scene; but the moon, though
she was strong enough to cast long shadows from every elevated object,
so flooded the whole scene with light that the more distant features
were not distinct.

Suddenly Edward raised his hand half open to his brow, and gazed from
underneath. He saw something that surprised him. A dark figure issued
from the wood; more followed; line after line of black, soldier-like
phantoms swept over the sandy ground from the one wood toward the other,
disappearing as they entered. But still more followed, horse and foot.
They seemed to be a moving host; but there was something so quiet and
gliding in their motions that Edward could hardly believe they were
substantial. He opened the window quietly and listened. There was no
noise; there was no beat of drum, or sound of fife, or clang of arms, or
tramp of marching men. Yet still the line went on, troop after troop and
squadron after squadron, in the same silent, stealthy way; and where he
stood he could discern no shadows cast by the moon from the passing
multitude.

At length he thought that fatigue must have affected his mind or body
strangely; and, retiring from the window, he closed it, and lay down to
sleep without undressing.

His eyes closed heavily in a few minutes; but, ere an hour was over, he
started up and gazed around him, wondering where he was. Then, as
remembrance came back, he approached the window again and gazed out. The
moon was higher in the heaven, and shining with great splendor; but the
phantom host had disappeared, and nothing was to be seen but the misty
landscape and the shadows of the trees.



CHAPTER XXXIX.


There was a loud knocking in the old castle of Rohan Rohan about
half-past four o'clock in the morning, and then various other sounds,
which seemed to indicate that people had been roused from their beds by
some unusual summons. Horses' feet were heard stamping in the
court-yard, too, and two or three persons talking below the windows; and
Edward rose up, pulled on his boots, and lighted another candle in one
of the sconces which was nearly extinguished. In those days people were
more matutinal in their habits than in our times; but still half-past
four was a somewhat early hour, and Edward had not slept well or long.
He was bathing his face and head, however, in cold water, to waken up
his sleepy faculties, when some person knocked at the door of his room.
He bade them come in; and old Matthew, with the inevitable candle in his
hand, entered, introducing a young man in military attire, who, having
satisfied himself of Edward's name, presented a letter bearing his
address.

Edward opened it, and, approaching the light, read the contents:--

"M. de Lude begs to inform Monsieur de Langdale that the cardinal will
receive him this morning half an hour before daybreak. The bearer will
be his guide to the quarters of his Eminence."

"We have hardly time," said Edward.

"Oh, yes," answered the other, with a smile. "The cardinal sometimes
keeps people waiting; and I took the liberty of ordering your people and
your horses to be brought forth, wherever they might be."

"Thanks for the precaution," said Edward, looking at his watch, and
shrewdly suspecting that the messenger had somewhere dallied on the way.
"It wants now a quarter to five o'clock. I will not detain you a moment,
sir." And, catching up his beaver and his cloak, and a few other
articles that lay about the room, he descended to the court-yard, taking
an opportunity of slipping some money into the hand of the old servant.

Pierrot was already there with two horses, and Jacques Beaupré appeared
the instant after, leading the other. No time was lost, and Edward was
immediately in the saddle. Three or four troopers followed; and the
whole party set out down the steep streets from the castle toward the
Pont de Cossé.

Edward asked no questions as to the course in which their ride was
directed; and hardly a word passed between him and his companion as they
trotted rapidly on. The fact was, the young man's mind was full of the
coming interview. On some points his determination was formed; but upon
others he was doubtful. To tell all that happened at Coiffy he was
resolved, and to demand redress; but, turn it in his thoughts as he
would, he could fix upon no way beforehand of introducing his proposed
visit to Rochelle, and in the end he was obliged to leave it to chance
and circumstance.

Very little of the country did he see as they rode on, for the moonlight
was checkered with cloudy shadows; and faint gleams, and deep shades,
and hazy hollows, and brown knolls, were all that caught the eye as the
travellers passed along.

At length, after several miles' ride, a gleam of light rested for a
minute or two upon a little elevation, and on the walls of an old
castle, not unlike that of Rohan Rohan; and the young officer by
Edward's side pointed forward, saying, "There is Mauzé, where his
Eminence has passed the last four days."

"How far is it?" said Edward.

"About two miles," replied the young man; "but we shall soon be there.
The road is good and even."

The light passed away, and Edward caught no other distinct view of the
chateau till, about twenty minutes after, they began to ascend the
little slope. He then perceived a red and garish glow ascending from
amidst some old walls, and in a minute more was in the court-yard,
where a number of torches were burning and several men and horses were
collected.

"Stay here," said the young officer. "I will go and announce you." And,
leaving him there, he entered the chateau.

He had not been gone two minutes, however, when there was a bustle on
the steps of the great hall, and some six or seven persons came forth,
with a tall, fine-looking man at their head, habited certainly more in
military than ecclesiastical costume; for, though he had a loose scarlet
robe thrown over his shoulders, there was the gleam of a cuirass
underneath, and he bore a heavy sword by his side. Edward pushed his
horse forward, seeing at once it was the cardinal; but the great
minister was evidently fully occupied. He spoke a few words to one of
the little crowd which surrounded him, gave some papers to another,
listened for a moment to a third, and then mounted a powerful charger
which was held for him at the foot of the steps. His fine but somewhat
stern face was full of thought, and the glare of the torches gave it
even a look of harshness, which Edward had never remarked there before.
His eye turned upon everybody around, and rested longer perhaps on the
face of Edward Langdale than upon that of any other. But he did not seem
to recognise him, and probably only remarked him because he remained on
horseback while all the rest were on foot.

"Follow!" said Richelieu, and rode away; while a faint tinge of gray
began to spread itself through the dark sky, announcing the coming
sunrise.

As the party rode on, Edward remarked that Richelieu spoke a few words
to those immediately about him; and presently after one of them fell
back to his side and asked if his name were Langdale. He answered in the
affirmative; and the gentleman then told him to ride up near his
Eminence. Edward did so; but the cardinal took no notice, and continued
to push on at a quick pace till they reached the top of one of those
abrupt little eminences which are scattered over the flatter ground upon
the western coast of France. Upon the very summit Richelieu pulled in
his horse; and by this time the pale bluish twilight had gained
sufficient strength to show the brown moors and yellow sands, and the
towers and pinnacles of Rochelle, with a gleam of the sea beyond. An
odor of seaweed also came sweeping up from the northwest, and a saltish
taste was felt upon the lips of those who sat there and gazed.

"Edward Langdale!" said Richelieu, after a moment or two; and Edward
spurred his horse up to his side.

"You have kept your word in coming back," said the cardinal; "but I did
not expect you so soon."

"That was because your Eminence did not know all the circumstances,"
answered the young man, with that mixture of frankness and respect which
is always well pleasing to the great.

Richelieu raised what was then called a perspective glass--a very feeble
sort of telescope--to his eye, and gazed toward Rochelle, the long lines
of which were becoming more distinct every moment. Edward was silent,
seeing that the mind of the great minister was fully occupied; and no
one spoke a word for nearly ten minutes. Then occurred one of those
phenomena by no means uncommon, and easily accounted for in these days,
but to which the superstition of old times lent a significance they do
not now possess. Away out to the east the sun began to rise, somewhat
pale and sickly in look, and with a whitish glare around him; while in
the west, rising over the sea, appeared another sun, exactly of the same
aspect and keeping as it ascended the same height in the sky.

"Two suns in the same heaven!" exclaimed Richelieu, with an accent of
surprise.

"Yes, your Eminence," replied Edward. "But one is much brighter than the
other, and its light will last after the other has gone out."

Richelieu turned suddenly round and gazed in his face with an inquiring
look, as if he thought there might be something beneath his words more
significant than the words themselves; then, bowing his head with a
well-pleased smile, he said, "True, true! one is fading already."

Whether Edward had spoken to his thoughts or not must be always a
mystery; but it is certain that minds of great fire and eagerness, even
without much fancy, will snatch at images supplied by external nature
to figure forth without danger thoughts, dreams, purposes in their own
hearts which they dare not utter. The parable is always a resource of
ambition, and often a resource of love. Certain it is, too, that there
were at that time two suns in the sky of France, and that one was
already fading into an obscurity becoming darker and more dark till the
faint figure of the dying monarch was hardly seen or felt, while the
other was destined to go on increasing in splendor and power till it set
forever. Here the comparison may be supposed to halt; for some may say
that the real sun was fading while the false one was increasing in
splendor. But that depends, after all, upon how men appreciate
greatness,--whether genius or birth be the real sun.

However that may be, it is certain that Louis XIII. was at all events
endowed with military genius; but even in the splendor of that most
dazzling--to the eyes of men--of human gifts, his rays were paling
before the superior endowments of his minister. Sickness, weariness,
disgust, despondency--we know not well what--had already induced him to
withdraw from the siege of Rochelle, and to leave Richelieu to carry on
the operations with a force, an energy, a talent, which would have won
fame for the most distinguished general or engineer. The cardinal might
well, therefore, apply the words of Edward Langdale to himself, feeling
them a compliment which, like the misty light of a summer's day, was the
more warm because it was in some degree indefinite. Richelieu did not
wish to have it otherwise, and, without further words, turned his eyes
once more upon the scene before them. A small battery opened its fire
upon the walls of the devoted town as they sat there and gazed; but
nobody could see whether it produced any effect or not. Richelieu, at
all events, paid little attention to it, and only murmured to himself,
"Waste of saltpetre!" Shortly after, he sent off two gentlemen on
horseback with messages written in pencil on small scraps of paper, and
then turned to gaze again. Some five minutes after, a man on horseback
came back, galloping up from the rear, and gave him some information in
a low voice. For a short space his brow contracted as if with anger;
but the emotion lasted evidently only a moment, and the next instant he
smiled almost gayly, and he said, aloud, "Well, one may have too many
rats in a rat-trap. Monsieur Langdale, come hither."

Edward rode close up, and the cardinal asked, "Do you know any thing of
the Duc de Rohan?"

"No, your Eminence," replied Edward; "I have not seen or heard of him
for nearly nine months."

"You did not see him last night?" said Richelieu.

"The Duc de Rohan!" exclaimed Edward, in a tone of surprise. "I passed
all last night, sir, in the Chateau de Fontenay; but the duke certainly
was not there, to my knowledge."

"Nevertheless," said Richelieu, in a quiet tone, "he passed from right
to left of our army in the rear with his whole force: so I understand."

"Now I comprehend what I saw last night," said Edward; and he detailed
all he had observed from the window of the chateau.

"It was no phantom," said Richelieu, gravely; "but it is as well. I
wonder if there were other people in the town or castle who took men for
shadows as well as you. How long are you from Savoy, where I last heard
of you?"

"A long time, may it please your Eminence," replied the young
Englishman; "but only eleven days from the Chateau of Coiffy,--whence
you certainly should have heard of me if they had not debarred me the
use of pen and ink and kept me a close prisoner for months."

"Ha!" said the minister, with a grave, stern face, "Monsieur de
Bourbonne thinks he can play with me, does he? and now he fancies he has
got his reward. But we must talk more of this when I have some leisure.
At present, that little black line there," he continued, pointing toward
Rochelle, "occupies much of my thoughts. The battery has not yet ceased
firing. These men of trumpet and broad-sword, Monsieur Langdale,
attribute more virtue to gunpowder and cannon-balls than I do. There are
much more efficient elements in war."

"Indeed, your Eminence!" exclaimed Edward: "may I ask what?"

"The impudent young cur," said one of the old officers near, to another,
in a low voice, "talks to the cardinal as if he were his
bottle-companion."

Richelieu answered calmly, but with emphasis, "A pickaxe and a shovel,
followed up by the movements of those two great officers, Pestilence and
Famine. When you announced in Rochelle, Master Langdale, the coming of
Lord Denbigh's fleet, and those wise men of the East refused to receive
it in their port, they little thought, I ween, that those two mighty
commanders would be so soon amongst them. But how was it," he continued,
changing his tone and speaking rapidly, "that they dared, in such
perilous circumstances, to send away King Charles's ships upon the
pretext that they had not been warned, when you yourself had warned
them?"

"Your Eminence's pardon," answered Edward; "but Master Jargeau, who of
course told you all this, should also have said that I had not been an
hour in Rochelle before I had my head broken, and lay for nearly a week
incapable of delivering any of my letters. It was a pretext, as your
Eminence calls it; but the Rochellois had really not been warned when
Lord Denbigh's fleet arrived."

"You are mistaken, young man," said Richelieu, with a slight curl of the
lip: "you jump at your conclusions too rapidly. There have been more
Jargeaus than one in Rochelle; and this one, though a very serviceable
fellow, I am told, never saw me in his life. Ay, it is a pity that he
would not keep his neck out of the noose; but he forced us to hang
him,--which was a severe loss to the king's service. He was in the case
of those men who, as the Scriptures say, are exceedingly fond of serving
both God and mammon. God abandoned him, and mammon could not save him;
for though he offered Bassompierre the whole value of a cargo of fish he
had contrived to get into Rochelle,--and every fish was worth an ounce
of gold, be it remarked,--Bassompierre, whose intelligence is very good,
seized the gold where he had hidden it, and hanged him according to
proclamation."

All this was said with much coolness and deliberation; and from time to
time the great minister raised his glass to his eye and gazed at the
battery, which had not yet ceased firing. He waited about ten minutes
more, and then beckoned up some of the superior officers round him,
asking if they thought his messenger had not had time to reach the
lines. They all agreed that there had been plenty of time; but one of
them added, in a careless tone, "It is possible, your Eminence, that he
may not have carried either his head or his message with him. There has
been a puff or two of smoke from the walls, and nobody can tell where
the shot may have gone. A man may have a tierce major in his favor and
yet lose the game after all."

"Possibly," replied Richelieu, and then resumed his watch. During some
five minutes after, the line of the battery showed no more smoke or
fire; the wreaths of sulphurous vapor curled away; the town also ceased
firing, the whole scene lay quiet and peaceful beneath their eyes, and
nothing was seen but a few horsemen riding about, with one apart from
the rest, galloping quickly up toward the hill on which they were.

The cardinal waited his arrival and put some questions, which Edward
Langdale, who had fallen a little back, did not hear.

"In five days, your Eminence," replied the officer, aloud. "He says that
at present no boat bigger than a cockle-shell can get in or out, and,
unless there be a very high tide or a gale of wind, the place will be
sealed up as tight as a bottle of old Burgundy."

"Well," said Richelieu; "it is well. Have they made no attempt to
interrupt the works?"

"None whatever, your Eminence," replied the other: "they are trusting to
God's good providence and a high tide,--doubtless praying in all their
temples for storm and tempest with profound devotion; but the devil and
the wind do not seem inclined to help them, and the poor creatures whom
they drove out have been received into the town again to eat them up, so
that they cannot hold out many weeks longer."

The cardinal smiled, and, turning his horse, rode slowly back toward the
Chateau of Mauzé, without saying a word to any one, and seemingly buried
in profound thought.

Edward Langdale followed, not knowing well what to do; and not one word
did Richelieu speak to him or any one till they reached the gates
leading into the court-yard. The cardinal dismounted and entered the
building, followed by some of his immediate attendants. The military men
scattered in different directions, each to his own quarters, without
taking any notice whatever of the young stranger; and Edward remained
upon his horse in the court-yard, while a curious smile upon the lip and
a raising of the eyebrow of Jacques Beaupré read an unpleasant
commentary upon his disappointed expectations.

"You must seek lodgings in the little town, Pierrot," said Lord
Montagu's page. "Get the best you can,--though bad, I fancy, will be the
best,--and make some arrangement for obtaining food. We must have
something to eat,--though the poor folks in Rochelle are worse off than
we, it would seem."

"It is a small place, Mauzé, sir, and quite full of soldiery," said
Pierrot. "But I will do my best, and get something at all events; for I
know some of the people here, who, I think, would kill a hog for me, if
we can do no better. But I am afraid quarters will be worse to find than
rations."

"We must seek for both," answered Edward, "and something for the horses
too."

He was turning toward the gates again, to ride down the slope into the
little town, or rather village,--for it was no better then,--when a man
dressed in a dark suit and bearing somewhat the appearance of a servant
came down the steps and approached the young gentleman's horse. "His
Eminence the Cardinal de Richelieu," he said, in a low, sweet voice,
"has commanded me to tell Monsieur de Langdale that he will see him as
soon as the business of the day is over,--about nine o'clock to-night.
In the mean time, I will show Monsieur de Langdale a chamber,--somewhat
high up, it is true; but the castle is very full. Monsieur de Langdale
will take his meals with the officers of the cardinal's guard. His
servants must provide for themselves in the village, as we have no room.
The cardinal allows them a crown a day as livery."

Edward dismounted and followed him to a chamber convenient enough,
though very near the top of the main tower; and, knowing the policy of
saying as little as possible in such places, he only asked if at nine
o'clock he should present himself before the cardinal, or if his
Eminence would summon him.

"He did not say," replied the man. "But monsieur had better go to the
ante-chamber at that hour and speak with the almoner, whom he will find
there." Thus saying, he left him, seemingly as much indisposed to say a
word more than was necessary as Edward could be himself.

The reader may probably have no great opinion, from the facts already
related in this true history, of Edward Langdale's prudence; but, as I
have shown, he had been undergoing for the last nine months a course of
discipline under which he had greatly improved. Much was at stake at
that moment, and he resolved to act as cautiously as possible; and
during the whole morning he never quitted the chamber which had been
assigned to him,--passing the time partly in sleep, partly in deep
meditation over the character of the great minister, which had now
appeared to him in a new point of view. The coldness, the somewhat
sarcastic indifference with which Richelieu had spoken of the hanging of
the unfortunate Jargeau and of the miseries of the people of Rochelle,
would have given the impression that he was merely a hard, selfish
politician, had it not been for the deep emotions which had stirred him
in the case of Chalais and the lighter and more graceful feelings which
Edward had seen him display in their first interview.

It was matter of study for the young man; but, as he thought over his
own conduct, he determined to make no change. He had hitherto followed
the promptings of the moment; and he had acquired a conviction that with
the cardinal unpremeditated frankness was the best policy.

He was still indulging in this strain of thought, when a servant came to
inform him that the officers of the cardinal's guard were at dinner, and
led him to the great hall, where he found a seat reserved for him at the
table. There was no sympathy, however, between him and those with whom
he had to associate for a few minutes: they were civil,--which was all
he could expect; and hardly ten words passed his lips before he retired
once more to his chamber.



CHAPTER XL.


It was night, and the scene was a somewhat curious one. A large chamber,
with a vaulted roof, long square windows, and decorations neither new
nor in a modern taste, a tall four-post bedstead with green velvet
hangings a good deal tarnished, a brick floor well waxed and polished,
an immense armory or wardrobe quaintly carved, three or four tall
straight-backed chairs, and one large arm-chair well stuffed, together
with a table of black oak, the legs of which were cut into the forms of
some nondescript species of devil,--not the conventional gentleman with
hoofs and tail and pitchfork, but somebody not a whit less
hideous,--presented the aspect of a chamber quite of the olden time, it
might be of the reign of Francis I. or Louis XII.

All days have their olden times; and I believe the olden times have
always been praised,--such is the tendency of the human mind to regret.

When we are school-boys we wish we were children again, and think of the
caresses without the pangs and inconveniences of infancy; when we are
men we wish we were school-boys again, and forget the heavy task, the
ferule, and the rod; old age looks back to youth and sorrows over its
lost powers; and only one man I know of has written in praise of life's
declining stage. But even Cicero upon such a theme could only indite an
eloquent lie.

Possession is always paid for by regret; and we take out the small
change in hope.

Nevertheless, it would appear, notwithstanding the excellencies of those
old times, that some improvements have been made in the march of
society,--at least, in the manufacture of chairs. Although they were not
famous for that fabric in Louis the Thirteenth's time, Edward Langdale
felt that seats were certainly much more inconvenient at a former
period. "Men must once have had back-bones of quite a different
construction," he thought. "They must have either been so supple as to
bend into all kinds of corners, or so hard as not to care for any
corners at all."

Such thoughts passed through his mind as he sat in a straight-backed
sort of rack in the Castle of Mauzé, just opposite to the Cardinal de
Richelieu, who, having cast off cuirass and scarlet robe, was seated, in
an easy gown of deep purple, in that comfortable arm-chair. The light
fell upon his magnificent head and easy graceful figure from a sconce
upon the wall; and the fine flowing lines of the drapery and
half-concealed limbs, with the broad high forehead and slightly gray
hair, gave him the look of some antique picture, and made the whole
person harmonize well with the room in which he sat.

The figure of Edward Langdale would have spoiled all, for it was full of
youth,--I might almost call it youngness; but, as I have said before,
his garments, though cut in what was then the modern fashion, were all
of a sober color; and about the square brow, the delicately-chiselled
nose, and the firm, determined mouth, there was an antique, if not a
classical, character.

With the cuirass and the scarlet robe Richelieu seemed to have cast off
the heavy cares and hard sternness of the day, and with the satin
pantoufles to have put on the ease and relaxation of spirit which no man
enjoyed more intensely than himself, if we may believe the stray
admissions even of his enemies and calumniators. It is greatly to be
regretted that Bois Robert did not write his history; for, although we
might not have had a true picture of his many-sided character, we should
have had another,--a more amiable and perhaps even a grander view of the
man than any historian has given us, except by accident.

He had sent for Edward Langdale about half an hour before the time he
had appointed. His orders for the night and the following morning had
been given; his letters and despatches had been written or dictated;
audiences had been afforded to several gentlemen on business; even the
minute details of his household had been attended to; and he had sat
down for that repose of the mind which can only be obtained by complete
change of subject. The young Englishman had pleased him from the first,
and, without knowing it, had flattered his vanity on its most sensitive
point,--for Richelieu had his weaknesses as well as other men. Where,
indeed, is there any one who can boast that he is without either the
hair of the Hebrew giant or the heel of the Greek demigod? The cardinal
knew, too,--had, indeed, very soon perceived,--that Edward's mind had
been early imbued, in an irregular manner, perhaps, but to a deep
degree, with that sort of graceful literature of which he was himself
most fond, and that he was full of that refined and delicate taste on
which he prided himself. He was the very person Richelieu sought for the
social converse of hours which were unfilled by any weighty
employment,--hours which he would not give to his military officers,
because his plans were all formed, his resolutions were all taken, and
he neither sought advice nor remonstrance; hours which he would not
bestow upon his almoner nor upon his chaplain, for he did not wish to
sleep just then; hours that he wished to pass very lightly indeed, as a
wise man takes nothing very heavy for his supper before he goes to bed.

"Welcome, Monsieur Langdale," said the great minister, as Edward
followed a servant into the room. "I have not had time to welcome you
yet; for, in the first place, I did not recognise you, your beard having
grown into somewhat leonine proportions. Since then I have not had time;
for I have been engaged with what the people of this world call weighty
business,--weighty enough, God wot, for those who have to handle it, and
which somewhat tries the arm that has to wield it. But let us leave that
and talk of other things. How have you fared? Poor Lord Montagu, your
friend, could not keep his nose out of a rat-trap; and yet it was badly
baited."

"He would not have gone near the wires if he had taken my advice," said
Edward. "I ventured to guess, not at the designs of your Eminence, but
at your probable conduct; and I warned Lord Montagu not to come too
close to you."

"Perhaps I have let you see me too close, young gentleman," said
Richelieu, with a good-humored smile. "And yet it is probable you
served me when you did not intend it. There be some men, my young
friend, and they very sensible men too, who will take no advice which
comes from younger and less experienced persons; but yet things, as the
Scripture says,--I speak with all reverence,--are often revealed to the
poor and simple and are hidden from the wise and great. Now, I have a
strong idea that you know more of Cardinal Richelieu, poor Bishop of
Luçon, than that great diplomatist, Lord Montagu."

Edward shook his head. "I cannot pretend to do that," he said; "but my
lord thought he might venture to pass over a quarter of a league of
French territory, when some time before you had suffered him to roam for
weeks over the whole of France."

"He had not got the papers then," said Richelieu, with a short laugh. "I
did not want Montagu's skin: it was his letters and his papers that I
arrested; and for that matter one quarter of a league is as good as a
thousand miles. As for yourself, you have told me something new to-day.
I heard of you at Aix, where your hot spirit had brought some damage on
your skin. You had been wounded, I mean to say,--by your own brother I
believe they told me. Very foolish, Master Edward Langdale, to fight
with one's own brother!"

"I did not fight with him, may it please your Eminence. My sword was
never drawn."

"Ha!" said the cardinal. "That is well. But then I heard of your making
a hole in another man's skin. How was that?"

"Why, I told the two men you sent after me, sir," replied Edward,
frankly, "that I would shoot them if they kept dogging me; and I always
hold to my word. They not only kept dogging me, but betrayed my lord
into the hands of Monsieur de Bourbonne; and so I shot one of them. I am
sorry to say I had not time to shoot the other, or probably your
Eminence would not have heard so much of me as you have done."

"Oh, yes," replied Richelieu, calmly: "the man got well, and was here
some two months ago. Besides, I never depend upon one informant. But
every one may be deceived; and no one told me that the good count had
got you in limbo all this time. You say he denied you the means of
communicating with me. Did you show him your safe-conduct?"

"I did, sir," answered Edward; "and it had a very good effect, for it
made him give me beef and wine instead of bread and water, with which he
began my diet. I demanded also to be sent to your Eminence; but Monsieur
de Bourbonne did not see fit to do so."

"Enough," said Richelieu; "enough." And, taking a scrap of paper from
the table, he wrote a few words thereon and laid it down again. "And now
tell me all about your escape," he continued. "How did you get away from
this giant of the castle?"

Edward narrated, with perfect gravity of manner, but with some quiet
pleasantry of language, every particular of his escape from Coiffy; and
Richelieu listened, evidently amused, but without any comment.

"Then you did not pass through Paris?" said the cardinal. "That is a
pity: you would have seen some interesting things there. We are
improving the drama greatly; and the Marais has a good troupe, they tell
me. I am building a house, too, there, and I should like to have your
opinion of it."

Edward smiled. "My opinion would be little worth," he answered. "I have
but little experience in those things of which your Eminence has a
thorough knowledge."

"And yet," said Richelieu, "I am told that you have great taste and
skill in arts which reached their height not long ago, but which we have
nearly lost in these days: I mean the designing in precious metals. A
very extraordinary man told me you were a thorough connoisseur."

"The little knowledge I possess," answered Edward, "is derived from
seeing every day in my early youth some very precious specimens which my
father brought over from Italy. They are all gone, alas! but one; and
that, I am afraid, will soon be lost also."

"Nay," said Richelieu, rather eagerly; "if you want to part with it I
will buy it. I am making a collection of the works of Cellini and the
men of his time."

"Could I obtain it," answered Edward, "I would humbly offer it to your
Eminence without price, as a token of my gratitude. And, indeed, it is
beyond price. But some day soon I fear it will be in less worthy hands,
or melted down into gold crowns and the jewels picked out to adorn the
brown neck of some Parisian seamstress. It is within the walls of yon
devoted town, my lord. I was foolish not to bring it away with me."

Richelieu paused, and did not speak for a moment or two; but then he
asked, "What sort of object is it?"

"It is a golden cup, or what we in England call a hanap," answered
Edward, "with figures exquisitely sculptured, and the rim surrounded by
a garland of jewels in the form of flowers. The figures are in high
relief, and with their hands seem to support the garland."

"It must be beautiful indeed!" said Richelieu.

"The only defect," continued Edward, "is that my name is engraved upon
the stem."

"What may be its value?" asked the cardinal: "it is a pity indeed so
rare an object should be lost."

"I never heard it valued," replied the young man; "and I will sell it to
no one on this earth,--though I should have pride to see it in the hands
of a benefactor."

"Well, it is a pity," said the cardinal. "But, as there is no help, let
us change the theme. Have you seen or heard from Mademoiselle de
Mirepoix--I should say Madame de Langdale--lately?" He spoke with a
smile. But Edward had learned that Richelieu's questions, even in his
lightest moments, always meant something, and he replied, at once, "Not
very lately, my lord. I have seen her once since we parted in Aunis, as
she was passing through Aix on her way to Venice; and she has written to
me once since her arrival, by the hands of a gentleman whom you
know,--Signor Morini."

"He is a very singular man," said Richelieu, in a meditative tone. "Do
you know, young gentleman, he says that your fate and mine are connected
by an inseparable link?--that we were born under the same aspect?"

"Your star must have been in the ascendant, sir," said Edward, with a
smile. "Yet there must be some truth in it; for who could have thought a
year ago that I should be sitting here, conversing with your Eminence
as calmly as if you were some ordinary literary man? who could have
thought that I should be indebted to you for more than life?"

"Act honestly and truly by me, young gentleman, and my friendship shall
go further still," replied Richelieu. "As to these visions of
astrologers," he continued, "they are only to be regarded as curious
speculations. The star of a man's destiny is in his heart or in his
brain. It is that star raises to power, shields against danger, guides
amidst intrigue. God's will is above all; but he it is who gives the
clear mind and the strong will, the wisdom and the courage; he renders
them successful as far as their success is necessary to his own wise
purposes, and then throws a bean-stalk in their way, and they stumble
and fall. We have naught to do but to bow the head and say, Thy will be
done!"

He ceased, and fell into a fit of thought, and Edward rose and took up
his hat as if about to retire; but Richelieu motioned him to his chair
again, saying, "Sit, sit! I have yet an hour. Have you read any of this
man Corneille's verses?"

Edward, luckily, could say he had not, for Richelieu's dislike for
Corneille was already strong, and, taking up a book from the table, he
read some lines, commenting severely upon what he called their rudeness.
He went on with his criticisms for some ten minutes, to an attentive
ear; but Edward fancied he perceived an under-current of thought running
through his literary disquisition.

"Perhaps I may be wrong," said Richelieu; "but in all matters of taste I
like the graceful and the polished better than the strong and rude. This
cup which you were speaking of must be a beautiful specimen of art. The
design as you have described it shows the conception of a great genius.
Is it known who was the artist?"

"I cannot assure your Eminence with certainty," replied Edward; "but he
was always said to be a countryman and rival of Benvenuto Cellini. I
forget the name; but it is engraved on the inside of the foot."

"John of Bologna," said the cardinal,--"probably John of Bologna."

"The same, the same," said the young Englishman. "I now remember that is
the name."

"It is invaluable!" exclaimed Richelieu, warmly. "His works are much
more rare than those of Cellini, and some are amongst the most
triumphant efforts of genius. There is a Mercury, for instance: the
heavy bronze seems instinct with godlike life,--actually springing from
the ground. What a pity that a work of his should be lost! Is there no
way of getting it out of Rochelle, think you?"

"But one," answered Edward, gravely; "and that I do not suppose either
your Eminence or the people of Rochelle would permit."

"What is it?" demanded Richelieu, abruptly.

Edward's heart beat high, for he had brought him to the very point he
desired; but yet a single misplaced word might spoil all, and he
struggled against his eagerness with sufficient success to answer with
seeming indifference. "I left the cup," he said, "in the hands of the
syndic of the goldsmiths, one Clement Tournon, who had taken me to his
house and nursed me most kindly----"

"He is a pestilent heretic," said the cardinal, sharply.

"And so am I, my lord," answered Edward; "but he is an honest and a good
man. I am willing, if your Eminence desires it, to try and get back into
La Rochelle and bring you the cup; but I could only do so on being
permitted to offer poor old Monsieur Tournon a pass to quit the city and
escape the famine which they say is raging there."

Richelieu sat silent for a minute or two, and Edward then added, "I am
not sure I shall be able to accomplish what I desire; but I will do my
best, and shall be well pleased to see such a treasure of art in the
hands of one who can appreciate it as your Eminence can."

"I could not accept it," said Richelieu, "except on making
compensation."

"Nothing like sale, my lord," replied Edward: "the price has been paid
beforehand, and it must be an offering of gratitude, or not at all. But
I much fear that the Rochellois will not admit me within their walls. I
can but make the attempt, however."

"But this Clement Tournon," said Richelieu, thoughtfully. "You know not
what you ask, young man. Every mouth within that city hastens its fall;
and I have been obliged already to show myself obdurate to all
entreaties,--to see women and children and old men driven back into
their rebellious nest. They say, too, your great Duke of Buckingham is
preparing another fleet for their relief. He will find himself mistaken;
but still we must waste no time."

"Old Clement Tournon is no great eater," said Edward, bluntly. "His
feeble jaws will not hasten the fall of the city five minutes; and it is
possible that, if admitted to your Eminence's presence, he might be the
means of persuading his fellow-citizens to submission, if he sees that
defence is hopeless and that favorable terms may be obtained."

"Ha! say you so?" exclaimed Richelieu; and, leaning his head upon his
hand, he fell into profound thought. Edward would not say a word more,
and after some five or ten minutes the cardinal looked up and shook his
head. "They will receive no messengers, reject all offers: even the
king's proclamation sent by a herald they would not admit within the
walls, and Montjoie had to leave it before the gates."

"Perhaps they have learned better by this time," said Edward; "and, if
not, they can but drive me back with bullets and cannon-balls."

"Well," said Richelieu, with a clearer brow, "you give me a better
reason now for suffering you to go. So help me Heaven as I would spare
this poor infatuated people the horrors they now suffer, if they would
let me! But rebellion must not exist in this land, and shall not while I
live. They must submit; but they shall have terms that even you will
call fair. So you may tell them if you can but find your way in."

Edward saw that the message was vague and not at all likely to have any
effect upon the people of Rochelle; but he did not try to bring the
cardinal to any thing more definite, for he had no inclination to take
part in a negotiation for the surrender of Rochelle, remembering that
all the plans of his own Government might be frustrated by such a
result.

He and the cardinal both kept silent for several minutes, Richelieu's
eyes remaining fixed upon the table, and his face continuing perfectly
motionless, though he was evidently deep in thought. At length he said,
abruptly, "You will come back yourself?"

"Upon my honor, sir," replied Edward, "if I live and they will let me.
They shall either keep me as a prisoner, or I will be here in
four-and-twenty hours."

"So be it, then," said the cardinal. "You shall not only have a pass,
but some one shall be sent with you to the very outmost post; for there
is something uncommonly suspicious in your appearance. Twice in your
case already men have set at naught my hand and seal. The second case
shall be punished: the third, for your sake and my own, must be guarded
against. As to your entrance into Rochelle, there may be--probably will
be--some difficulty; but if you are skilful--and I think you are--you
may succeed. I need not recommend to you caution in what you say and do.
We have some disease in the camp, it is true; but they have pestilence
in the city. Our supplies are not over-abundant; but they are suffering
from the direst famine. Every day increases our supplies and diminishes
theirs."

"I shall say as little as possible, your Eminence," answered Edward.
"First, because I cannot, knowing what I know, advise them to hold out;
secondly, because if I advise them to surrender I might be wrong.
Clement Tournon, when he has seen your Eminence, after having witnessed
what is passing in the city, can advise better, and will be more readily
believed. It is well you should have some means of communication with
the Rochellois. I know none of their chief men, even by name; and they
would put no faith in me."

"In a week from this time," said Richelieu, "they must surrender. The
dyke will be finished which shuts them out from all the world. Vain will
be English fleets, vain all their imaginary armies. The gaunt spectre
which already strides through their streets will have knocked at every
door. Where will be the hand to fire the cannon? where the arm to
defend the gate? The dead and the dying will be the garrison; and the
soldiers of the king will rush in to wrest the undefended plunder from a
host of skeletons. I would fain avoid such a result, young man," he
added, with a shudder. "I delight not in misery and suffering; I have no
pleasure in tears and woe. But France must have peace, the king must
have loyal subjects; and, were my brother amongst those rebels, they
should be forced to obey. You are frank, and I believe you honest. I
therefore expect that you bear them no message from the enemies of
France, that you delude them with no vain hopes, that you return
yourself as speedily as possible, and that you bring this old man with
you if he will come. Remember that I am not to be trifled with, and that
I bear open enmity more patiently than deceit."

"I have no fear, sir," answered Edward. "I have come back and placed
myself in your power without the least hesitation, and I will do so
again; but then I will beseech your Eminence to let me pass over into
England. I am nearly without money; and, although I have sufficient on
the other side of the Channel, I cannot get it without going for it."

"We will talk of that hereafter," answered Richelieu. "I think I will
let you go; but, at all events, you shall not want for money. What is
money, Monsieur Langdale? It is but dross,--at least, so the poets tell
us; and yet I have found few men who like it better than the poets."

"Without it men cannot travel," replied Edward,--"cannot eat or drink or
even sleep; and it would be hard for want of money to want meat and
drink and sleep when I have plenty for all my wants on the other side of
that arm of the sea; but harder still, my lord cardinal, to take from
any man money that does not belong to me."

"How proud these islanders are!" said Richelieu, with a smile. "Why,
there is hardly a Frenchman in the land who would not thank me for a
crown."

"If I had worked for it," answered Edward, "I might thank you too; but
till there be peace between France and England I can do your Eminence no
service."

"Now, let any one say," exclaimed the cardinal, with a laugh, "that I am
not the sweetest-tempered man in all this realm of France,--ay, as sweet
and gentle as Signor Mazarin himself. Why, no man will believe that you
say to me such things and I do not send you to the Bastille at once. Oh,
tell it not in the camp, or you will lose credit forever."

"I do not intend to tell it anywhere, my lord," replied Edward. "I know
it would be foolish, and perhaps it might be dangerous. I am not
ungrateful for your condescension to me; but it is a sort of thing I
should not like to sport with."

"Right," said Richelieu: "you are right. You know the fact in natural
history that tigers may be tamed; but if any one suffers them, in
playing with them, to draw blood, he seldom goes away as full of life as
he came. I see you understand me. Now go away and sleep. Be here by
daybreak to-morrow, and you shall find the passes ready and somebody
prepared to ride with you to the outposts. He will wait there
four-and-twenty hours for your return. But if I should find you in
Rochelle when it is taken, except in a dungeon, beware of the tiger."

Edward bowed and withdrew; but he retired not to rest. His first object
was to inquire for Beaupré and Pierrot. They were not in the castle, and
he had to seek them in the village below, where, after passing through
many of the wild scenes of camp-life, he found them at length in a small
wooden shed, where some sort of food, such as it was, could be procured
by those who had money to pay for it. Much to the surprise of good
Pierrot la Grange, the young gentleman's first order, after directing
his horse to be prepared half an hour before daylight, was to have his
flask filled with the best brandy he could procure and brought up to his
room that night.

"Has the cardinal given you leave to go into the city?" asked Jacques
Beaupré, in astonishment.

"He has given me leave to try," replied Edward.

"Pray, then, let me go with you," said the good man.

"Impossible!" was the answer. "I must go alone, and take my fate alone,
whatever it may be. See that the brandy be good, Pierrot, if you can
find it. But be quick, for I would fain sleep before I go." And,
retiring to his room in the castle, he waited till the man brought a
small flat bottle well filled, and then, casting himself down upon the
bed, fell sound asleep, exhausted less by fatigue than by emotions which
he had felt deeply, though he had concealed them well.



CHAPTER XLI.


Two hours had not passed after the sun's rising above the horizon when
Edward Langdale stood with a small group of officers at the extreme
outpost of the royal army, before what was called the Niort gate of the
city of Rochelle. There was still a space of about five hundred yards
between him and the walls; and before him rose all those towers and
pinnacles, many of which have since been destroyed, but which rendered
then and still render Rochelle one of the most picturesque cities of
France when seen from a distance. During the whole siege the operations,
though sure and terrible, had been slow and apparently tardy. The
Rochellois had been glad to husband their powder; and it was no part of
Richelieu's plan to breach the walls or to do more than harass the
citizens by an occasional attack. On this morning there had been no
firing on either side, and the town looked as quiet and peaceable as if
there were no hostile force before it. But, as Edward Langdale and his
companion, a young officer of the cardinal's guard, had ridden down from
Mauzé, the latter had pointed out to the young Englishman that famous
dyke which, stretching across the mouth of the port, had gradually cut
off the city from all communication with friends at home or allies
abroad. He had, in a jesting way, too, put some questions to Edward in
regard to the objects of his journey; but he obtained no information,
and did not dare to press them closely.

"You had better take some more breakfast, sir," said an old officer
commanding at the advance-posts. "You will get none in there; and,
though we are forbidden to suffer the slightest morsel to go in, I
presume that does not apply to what a man can carry in his stomach."

"I shall soon be back again if they let me in at all," answered Edward.
"Can any one give me a white flag? for I may as well not draw the fire.
That is a sort of breakfast I have no inclination for."

A small white flag was soon procured, and, leaving his horse with
Pierrot and Beaupré, who had followed him down the hill, Edward set out
on foot. He carried the white flag in his hand and approached the gate
with a calm, steady pace. He saw some men walk quickly along the wall
toward the same point to which his own course was directed; but the flag
of truce was respected, and he was permitted to come within five or six
yards of the heavy gate. Then, however, a voice shouted from behind a
small grated wicket, "Stand back! What seek you here?"

"I seek to speak with the syndic Clement Tournon," said Edward; "and, if
not with him, with Monsieur Guiton, mayor of the city."

"Stand back! You cannot enter here," said the man on the other side.

"Will you cause the mayor to be informed," said Edward, "that Master
Edward Langdale, an English gentleman well known in Rochelle, stands
without and desires admittance, if it be but for an hour?"

The man grumbled something which Edward did not hear, and there seemed
to be a consultation held within, at the end of which the same voice
told him to keep on the other side of the drawbridge while they informed
the mayor. The young gentleman accordingly retired, and seated himself
on a large stone at the end of the bridge, where for nearly an hour he
had nothing to occupy him but his own thoughts, with every now and then
a puff of smoke from one of the royalist batteries, which had lately
begun firing, and one gun replying from the walls. It seemed all child's
play, however; and he soon ceased to think of the matter at all. His
mind then turned to his own position and the curious fact of Richelieu
having suffered him to visit Rochelle with so very little opposition. He
could not but ask himself how much the gold cup had to do with the
minister's acquiescence; but, as he reflected more deeply upon the
cardinal's character and upon various incidents which had come to his
knowledge, he concluded in his own mind that Richelieu might be well
pleased to make another effort to open a communication with the citizens
without compromising his own dignity. The position of the besieging
force, he thought, might not be so good as it appeared. The dyke, on
which so much depended, and which he had had no means of examining
closely, might not be sufficiently solid to resist the action of the sea
and winds. The English armament might be, to Richelieu's knowledge, of a
more formidable character and more advanced state of preparation than
was admitted; and all these circumstances might render the speedy
capture of Rochelle upon any terms absolutely necessary.

In little more than an hour, the same voice he had heard before called
him up to the gate, and the wicket was partly opened to give him
admittance under the archway, where he found five or six men with
halberds on their shoulders and otherwise well armed, while a young man
bearing the appearance of an officer advanced to meet him. The steel
caps of the soldiers in some degree concealed their faces; but the
broad-brimmed, plumed hat of the young officer served in no degree to
hide the gaunt, pallid features, the high cheek-bones, the fallen-in
cheeks, the hollow eyes, and the strong marking of the temples, which
told a sad tale of the ravages of famine, even amongst the higher and
more wealthy classes of the town. A feeling of delicacy made Edward
withdraw his eyes after one hasty glance at the young gentleman's
countenance; and, as the other paused without speaking for a moment, he
said, "May I ask, sir, if any one has conveyed my message to the syndic
Clement Tournon or to the mayor?"

"Monsieur Tournon is ill in his own house," replied the young officer:
"but Monsieur Guiton, the mayor, has come down to a house near this
gate, and will receive you there, as it might be inconvenient to invite
you to the town-house, for fear of any disturbance."

"I am ready to wait upon him," replied Edward, "wherever he pleases."

"I am sorry to say," replied the young officer, "that even for so short
a distance you must give up your arms and suffer your eyes to be
bandaged."

"I have no arms," replied Edward, "as you may see. I purposely came
without. As to bandaging my eyes, do as you please. I am no spy nor
agent of the French Government." He pulled off his hat as he spoke,
bending down his head for the handkerchief to be tied over his eyes;
and, as soon as that somewhat disagreeable operation was performed, the
young officer took him by the hand, and, with one of the soldiers
following, led him into Rochelle. When they had passed on perhaps a
hundred yards, Edward received a painful intimation of the state of the
city. As they seemed to turn into another street, the young officer
caught him by the arm and pulled him sharply aside, saying to the
soldier, "Have that body removed. These sights serve to scare the people
and make them clamorous."

"I don't think she is dead yet," said the soldier.

"Then have her carried to the hospital as quickly as possible. Don't let
her lie there and die."

He then led Edward on, and in two or three minutes more stopped at the
door of a house and entered what seemed a small passage, where he
removed the handkerchief from Edward's eyes. "Monsieur Guiton is here,"
he said, opening a door where, in a little room and at a small table,
was seated a man of middle age with a dagger by his side and a sword
lying on the table. His form seemed once to have been exceedingly
powerful and his face firm and resolute; but there was that gaunt and
worn expression in every line which Edward had seen in the countenance
of his guide.

"Who are you, sir?" said the mayor; "and what is the motive of so rare a
thing as the visit of a stranger to the town of Rochelle?"

"My name is Edward Langdale," replied the young Englishman,--"a poor
follower of my Lord Montagu, who once bore letters from his Grace of
Buckingham to the city of Rochelle."

"Ay, I remember," said the mayor, thoughtfully: "you were roughly used,
if I remember right. But now, sir, to your business."

"It is in a great degree personal," replied Edward; "but, as it is
private, I would rather speak to you alone."

"Leave us," said the mayor, addressing the young officer, who at once
quitted the room and closed the door. "Now, sir," continued Guiton, "I
am ready to hear. But be brief, I pray you. Occupation here is more
plenty than time, and time more plenty than provisions. Therefore I
cannot offer you refreshment nor show you much courtesy."

"I require neither, sir," answered Edward. "My business refers to
Monsieur Clement Tournon. He is aged,--infirm; and I have with some
difficulty obtained from the Cardinal de Richelieu permission and a pass
for him to quit Rochelle."

"Ha!" said the mayor. "Ha! This is strange, young gentleman! You must be
in mighty favor! Why, sir, he has driven back women and children and old
men--all starving--from the French lines into this city of famine! You,
an Englishman, an enemy,--he show such favor to you! Pah! There must be
something under this. Have you no message for me?"

"No distinct message, sir," replied Edward: "the cardinal indeed said,
in terms so vague that I cannot and will not counsel any reliance upon
them, that if Rochelle would submit she should have favorable terms,--as
favorable as even I could expect. But I am not his messenger, sir.
Neither is there any thing that I know under the plain fact which I have
stated."

"Let me see your pass," said Guiton, abruptly. Edward handed it to him,
and he examined it minutely. "'Edward Langdale and one companion,--to
wit, the syndic Clement Tournon'!" he said. "Well, this is marvellous
strange! I cannot let this pass without some further knowledge of so
unaccountable a matter."

"Well, Monsieur Guiton," answered Edward, firmly, "pray remember that I,
comparatively, a stranger to him, have perilled much to aid and rescue
a man who once showed me kindness, nursed me like a father when I was
sick, and trusted me as he would his son when I had recovered; and that
it is you--his ancient friend, as I am told--who keep him here to die of
famine or of sickness when he can be of no further service either with
hand or head. I have done my duty. Probably you think you are doing
yours."

The mayor waved his hand. "Not so many words," he said. "Can you give me
any explanation of this strange matter?"

"None," replied Edward, boldly.

"Does Clement Tournon wish to leave the city?" demanded the mayor again.

"I do not know," replied the young Englishman. "He is old, infirm, and,
I am told, sick. I have had no communication with him. But he knows that
he can be of no further service in Rochelle, or I believe he would
remain in it till the last man died and the last tower fell."

"He is sick," said the mayor, "of a very common disease here. But yet we
are not so badly off that we cannot maintain the city till the English
fleet arrives."

"The dyke!" said Edward, emphatically.

"Oh," replied Guiton, with a scoffing and unnatural-sounding laugh, "the
first storm, such as I have seen many, will sweep that dyke away."

"But, if it stands fourteen days," said Edward, "will you not have a
storm within these walls which will sweep away the people of Rochelle?"

Guiton covered his eyes with his hands and remained silent.

"But I have nothing to do with these things, sir," said Edward. "It was
only to give aid, to give safety, to a friend, an old noble-minded man
who befriended me when I had need of friendship, that I came into
Rochelle at all. May I ask what is this sickness that you speak of so
lightly?"

"Famine, sir! famine!" said Guiton, sharply. "An ounce of meat,--God
knows of what kind,--two ounces of dried peas, and a draught of cold
water, is but a meagre diet for old men and babes. We strong men can
bear it; but there be some who are foolish enough to die rather than
endure it a little longer."

"And have you the heart, sir," asked Edward, with some indignation in
his tone, "to refuse the means of escape offered to an old man, and that
man Clement Tournon, and to speak lightly of his sufferings,--his
martyrdom, I might say?"

"No! no! no!" cried the mayor, vehemently, stretching forth his hands.
"Young man, you mistake me! Could my blood nourish him, he should have
the last drop. What! old Clement Tournon, my dear, dear friend,--would I
deprive him of one hour's life? But it is that I cannot comprehend how
you are here,--why you are here. This story that you tell is mere
nonsense."

"It is true, nevertheless," said Edward. "But if my word will not
satisfy you,--as, indeed, I see no reason why it should,--come with me
to Clement Tournon, and he perhaps can tell you how much I can dare to
serve a friend."

"I will!" cried Guiton, starting up; but then he sat down again
immediately, saying, "No, no! I cannot bear those faces in the streets.
Can you find your way yourself?--for I can spare no men."

"Not if I am to be blindfolded," said Edward: "otherwise I could find
it, I am sure."

"Pshaw!" said the mayor, "what use of blindfolding you? You will see
dying and dead, plague-eaten, famine-stricken. But you can go and tell
the Cardinal de Richelieu how the citizens of Rochelle can die rather
than see their privileges torn from them, their religion trodden under
foot. You can tell him, too, that I will defend those walls as long as
there is one soldier left to man them and one hand capable of firing a
gun, unless we have security for our faith. You are sure he said nothing
more?"

"No, nothing more," answered Edward: "merely that he would give you the
most favorable terms, but that he would not have rebellion in the land."

"Rebellion!" muttered Guiton, scornfully. "Who first drew the sword? But
let us think of Clement Tournon. I am willing to believe you, young
gentleman. If I remember rightly, I have heard the old man speak well
of you. And, after all, what harm can you do? You can but repeat a story
of our sufferings which I am aware they already know too well in yonder
camp. What they do not know is the courage with which we can bear them.
Go to the syndic. He has not come forth for several days. Go to him, and
see if the prospect of relief can give fresh strength to those enfeebled
limbs, fresh energy to that crushed and scarcely-beating heart. Tell him
that I not only permit but beseech him to go with you,--that even one
mouth less in Rochelle is a relief. He has done his duty manfully to the
last. He can do it no longer. Beseech him to go. And yet," he continued,
in a sad tone, "I much doubt his strength. Could he have crawled even to
the council-chamber, we should have seen his face. Could he have lifted
his voice, we should have heard his inspiring words. He was alive last
night, I know. But to-day----Alas, alas, my poor friend!" And some tears
ran down the worn cheek of the gallant defender of Rochelle.

"I have some brandy under my coat," whispered Edward. "I brought it on
purpose for him. It may give him strength at least to reach the
outposts."

Guiton seized his hand and wrung it hard. "Noble young man! well
bethought!" he said. "But he must have a little food. Stay; he shall
have my dinner. I do not want it. By Heaven! the thought that we have
saved old Clement Tournon will be better than the best of meals to me!"

He rose from the table, and, approaching the door, gave some orders to
those without, and then returned, saying, "There is still much to be
thought of, young gentleman, and we have little time to think. I fear if
you go out in the daytime the people will pour forth after you, and all
will be driven back by cannon-shots."

"It must now be near one o'clock," said Edward, "and it will probably
take some time to restore his strength a little. If you, sir, nobly give
him up your own food, it must be administered to him by slow degrees,
and----"

"What! an ounce of meat?" said Guiton, with a miserable smile: "my fare
is the same as the rest, sir. But I must leave all that to you. His own
ration will be served to him in an hour. Mine you shall take and give
him as it seems best to you. I will write a pass for you and him, that
you may not be stopped at any hour of the night or day; and then I must
go back to the town-hall, lest men should wonder at my long absence. My
only fear is that the good old man will not take my ration if he knows
it comes from me."

"Take a little of these strong waters, sir," said Edward, drawing the
flask from beneath his coat. Guiton hesitated, and Edward added, "There
is much more than he can or ought to use; and, if I tell him that I
brought you some supply, he will take the food you send more readily."

The mayor took the flask and drank a very little, giving it back again
and saying, "Mix it with water ere you give him any. By Heaven, it is
like fire! Yet it will keep me up, I do believe. Hark! there are steps.
Put it up, quick. They might murder you for it, if any of the common
people were to see it."

The steps were those of a soldier bringing the scanty meal, which was
all the mayor allowed himself. A pen and ink and a scrap of paper were
then procured, and the pass for Edward and Clement Tournon was soon
written. To make all sure, Guiton called the young officer, in whom he
seemed to have much confidence, and asked if he would be on guard at the
gates that night. The young man answered in the affirmative; and the
mayor gave strict directions that Monsieur Edward Langdale and the
syndic Tournon should be passed safely and unmolested on their way
toward the royal camp. A smile of hope and pleasure came upon the
officer's face, and Guiton added, "Do not deceive yourself, Bernard.
This is no treaty for surrender. We must suffer a little longer; and
then we shall have relief. Here, go with Monsieur Langdale, first to the
gate by which he entered, then to the end of the Rue de l'Horloge. There
leave him. Farewell, sir," he continued, turning to Edward, and then
adding, in a lower tone, "Mark well the turnings from the gate, and walk
somewhat slow and feebly, so as not to draw attention. The people are in
an irritable state."



CHAPTER XLII.


I will not dwell upon the horrors of the streets of Rochelle. They have
been described by an able pen: at least, I believe so; for I have not
seen the work of Madame de Genlis since my boyhood, and that, dear
reader, is a long time ago,--quite long enough to forget more than that.

The part of the town in which stood the house of Clement Tournon seemed
quite deserted, and the house itself showed no signs of being inhabited.
The windows were all closed; and the little court before the building,
which separated it from the general line of the street, and which was
once so trimly kept, was now all overgrown with grass. It was knee-high;
and even the path of smooth white stones which led to the principal door
hardly showed a trace of the unfrequent footfall. With a sinking heart,
Edward looked up; but all was still and silent. The door stood open, and
he approached and knocked with his knuckles. There was no reply,
however: no voices were heard from the once merry kitchen, no sound of
hammer or file from the workshop.

Edward Langdale had learned to know the house well, and, entering, he
mounted the stairs and entered the room on the right. It was vacant and
dark also, for the windows were all closed. He then turned to another;
but it was empty likewise. He saw some light, however, stream from the
room at the back,--the little room where he had lain in sickness for so
many days,--Lucette's room, where he had first seen that dear face. It
was a place full of memories for him; and, even if he had not seen that
ray of sunshine crossing the top of the stairs, he would have entered.
Pushing open the door, which stood a little ajar, he went in; and there
was the object of his search straight before him.

Seated in the great arm-chair in which he himself had sat when first
recovering was good old Clement Tournon, the shadow of his former self.
The palms of his hands rested on his knees; his head was bent forward on
his chest; his eyes were shut, and his lips and cheeks were of a bluish
white. Had it not been for a slight rocking motion of his body as he
sat, Edward would have thought him dead. Behind his chair, silent and
still as a statue, stood the good woman Marton. She, too, was as pale as
her helmet-shaped white cap, and the frank, good-humored expression of
her countenance was supplanted by a cold, hard, stony look which seemed
to say that every energy was dead. That such was not really the case,
however, Edward soon saw; for, the moment her eyes lighted on him as he
passed the door, the old bright light came into them again, and she
walked quietly but hastily across the floor in her little blue socks,
holding up her finger as a sign to keep silence.

"He sleeps," she said; "he sleeps. It is wellnigh as good as food for
him. But how came you here, Master Ned? What has brought you? Has the
English fleet arrived?"

"Alas, no," replied Edward, in the same low tone which she herself had
used; "and it could not enter the port if it had. But I come, if
possible, to save that good old man. I have a little food here with me.
Go get me a cup and some water; for I have a little of that which will
be better to him at first even than food."

"God bless you, sir!" said the good woman: "there is not a drop of wine
in all the city, and with him the tide of life is nearly gone out. I
thought he would have died this morning; but he would rise. You stay
with him, and I will be back in a minute. But keep silent and still, for
sleep always does him good." So saying, she hurried away and brought a
silver cup and some fresh water.

All was silent during her absence: the old man slept on, and Edward
Langdale seated himself near, as quietly as possible. Marton took her
place again without a word; and for about three-quarters of an hour the
slumber of old Clement Tournon continued unbroken. Then a voice was
heard at the foot of the stairs, crying, "Rations!" and Marton hurried
down.

Either the voice or the movement in the room disturbed the old man. He
moved in his chair, raised his head a little, and Edward, with some of
the strong waters well diluted in the cup, approached and put it to his
lips.

"What is it?" said Clement Tournon, putting the cup feebly aside with
his hand. "I thought it might have pleased God I should die in that
sleep."

"Take a little," said Edward, in a low tone: "it will refresh you." And
Clement Tournon suffered him to raise the cup again to his lips, aiding
with his own feeble hands, and drank a deep draught, as if he were very
thirsty. Then, suddenly raising his eyes to Edward's face, he exclaimed,
"Good Heavens! who are you? Edward Langdale! Is it all a dream?--a
horrible dream?"

"I have come to see you and take you away, Monsieur Tournon," said
Edward, as calmly as he could. "Keep yourself quite tranquil, and I will
tell you more presently. At present be as silent as I used to be when I
was sick and you were well."

The old syndic sat without speaking for a moment or two, and then said,
"I know not what you have given me; but it seems to have strengthened
and revived me. But pray, tell me more: I cannot make this out at all."

"I will tell you after you have eaten something," said Edward. "I have
brought something with me for you. But first sip a little more of this
draught."

The old man drank again, and then ate a little of the food which had
been brought him; but the forces of life had so much diminished that it
was long before the weight of the body seemed to give the mind liberty
to act. At first he would wander a little, less with what seemed
delirium than with forgetfulness. The brain appeared to sleep or faint;
but with judicious care--an instinctive knowledge, as it were, of what
was best for him--Edward administered support and stimulus by slow
degrees till the mind fully wakened up. Quietly and cautiously the young
man told him what he had done, why he came, and the certain prospect
there was of his escape from that city of horror and famine if he could
but summon strength to pass the gates.

"But Guiton,--but my friend Guiton," said Clement Tournon. "What will he
think of me?"

"He begs you, he beseeches you, to go," said Edward. "He says you have
done all you can for Rochelle, that you can do no more, that every mouth
out of the city is a relief, and that, now you can go in safety, you
ought to go."

"Oh, my son," said Clement Tournon, "you know not what it is to ask me
to quit the home of many years. I have travelled, it is true; I have
left my domestic hearth; I have left the earth that holds my wife and
children; but it was always with a thought of coming back and dying
here. Now, if I go, I go forever,--never to see Rochelle more."

"Nay, I hope that is not so," answered Edward. "The cardinal assured me
that he would give the most favorable terms to the city; and I cannot
but think that your presence may be the means of rendering those terms
really and not nominally favorable. You can tell him of the
determination of the people, of your certain expectation of succor----"

The old man shook his head. "No succor," he said; "no succor."

"But at all events it is probable," replied Edward, "that you may be
able to obtain terms for Rochelle which she can accept honorably. You
can aid no one here; you may do good service there. In this instance the
paths of duty and of safety are one."

"Oh, I will go," said Clement Tournon, languidly. "I need no persuading.
But what am I to do with this poor creature?" he continued, looking at
Marton, who continued still in the room. "How can I leave her behind
me?"

A sort of spasm passed her countenance; but she answered, with the real
devotion of woman, "Go, old master; go. Never mind me. I can do well
enough. My light heart keeps me up; and old women live upon little. When
the young gentleman has risked every thing to save you, you cannot
disappoint him."

"No indeed, Marton," said the syndic; "but yet----"

"Never talk about yet," said Marton. "You have got to go, that is clear;
and perhaps you may be able to make a treaty by which we shall be all
fed and comforted. Maître Guiton should have done it long ago; but he is
a hard man, and would see us all die of famine, and himself too, before
he would bate an inch of his pride."

"Hush, hush!" said Edward: "he is a good and noble man, Marton; and
times far distant shall talk of the famous defence of Rochelle by the
Mayor Guiton. Bring your master a little more food, Marton. The sun is
beginning to go down, and we shall soon be able to set out."

The poor old syndic bent his eyes down upon his hands and wept tears of
age, of weakness, and of manifold emotions; and Edward, thinking it
better to distract his thoughts, spoke of the gold cup which he had
promised to bring to Richelieu, and asked where he could find it.

"What! a bribe?" exclaimed Clement Tournon, with more energy than the
young man thought he had possessed. "The great Cardinal de Richelieu
take a bribe?"

"No, no!" replied Edward: "do not misunderstand me. This cup was
mentioned but incidentally as a curious and beautiful object of art, and
I promised to bring it to him: therefore I must keep my word. But, if I
must tell the truth, I believe the cardinal's inducement to give me a
pass for you was that through you he might open some communication with
the citizens, who have refused all overtures."

"Ay, there is that Mayor Guiton again," said Marton.

"The cardinal assured me," continued Edward, "that he had no wish to
crush Rochelle, and would grant such favorable terms as could not
honestly be rejected."

"God grant it!" said Clement Tournon; "but he has us at his mercy, and
he knows it. As to the cup, my son, you will find it in the armory,
where it stood when you were here before. Where are the keys, Marton?
You will find it all safe, and the papers with it,--a letter for you
amongst the rest; but I knew not where you were. All the gold and silver
is safe; for when the people broke into the house it was food they
sought, poor fools! They cared not for gold and silver: they could not
eat them."

Marton found the keys and handed them to Edward, by Clement Tournon's
orders; and the cup, wrapped in manifold papers and enveloped in an old
parchment bag, was soon found. The whole packet was inscribed, in the
old goldsmith's own handwriting, with the words, "The cup within belongs
to Master Edward Langdale, of Buckley, in the county of Huntingdon,
England, left with me for safe-keeping." By the side of the cup lay a
letter, surrounded, as was common in those days, with a silken string,
tied and sealed; and, on taking it up, Edward instantly recognised the
handwriting of good Dr. Winthorne. That was no time for reading,
however, and he put the letter in his breast; but his eye could not help
glancing over the vast quantity of plate, both gold and silver, which
even that one cupboard contained. Taking the cup in his hands, he locked
the door, and, returning to the room of the syndic, inquired, with some
anxiety, what was to be done for the protection of his property while he
was gone.

"Dross, dross, my son," said Clement Tournon. "Yet the door of the room
may be as well locked and bolted. Give Marton the key."

"We will take care of it, Master Ned," said Marton. "The boys come back
every night,--all who are left of them, poor fellows! but stout John
died of the fever, and William the filigree-man soon gave way when we
came to want food. Old men and old women have borne it best. But nobody
will think of touching the gold and silver. What could they do with it
if they had it? All the gold in that room would not buy a pound of beef
in Rochelle."

"It were as well to make all safe, however," answered Edward. "I will go
and lock all the doors."

"I will come with you," said Clement Tournon, "and see whether I can
walk. What you have given me seems to have revived me much, very much.
What is it?"

"What you probably never tasted in your life before," said
Edward,--"strong waters; and it shows the benefit of reserving the use
of them for cases of need. That which kills many a man who uses it
freely is now giving you back life, because you have never used it at
all. All I have in that flask would not have the slightest effect upon
Pierrot la Grange. I trust there is enough there to afford you strength
to reach the camp."

"Oh, more than enough,--more than enough," said the good old syndic,
whose holy horror of drunkenness made him almost shudder at the idea of
what he had been imbibing, although he could not but feel that it had
wrought a great and beneficial change upon him. "Now let me see how I
can walk."

Edward gave him his arm; but the old man showed much more strength than
he expected,--tottered a little in his gait, it is true, and lost his
breath before he reached his arm-chair again. But Edward and Marton
applied themselves diligently during the next two hours to confirm the
progress he had already made, and were not unsuccessful.

I cannot say whether the good woman, whose love and devotion toward her
master were extreme, did or did not secretly bestow upon him her own
scanty portion of the common food which was doled out to all those who
had given up their own stores to be disposed of by the city; but certain
it is that, till the sun had nearly set, she and Edward contrived every
quarter of an hour to furnish the old man a small piece of meat and a
mouthful of pea-bread, with a few spoonfuls of the brandy-and-water.

At length the hour for departure came; and the parting between the old
syndic and the faithful Marton was a very painful one. They said
nothing, it is true; but she kissed his hand, and her tears, whether she
would or not, fell upon it. Clement Tournon wept too; but Edward drew
him slowly away, and once more he went out into the streets of Rochelle.

Those streets were nearly vacant, for almost everybody not wanted on the
walls had retired to their miserable dwellings, there in solitude and
famine to wait the return of the daylight which brought no comfort and
very little hope.

Two men indeed passed by at a slow pace, and turned to look. "There goes
old Clement Tournon," said one,--"up to the town-house, I suppose, as
usual."

"I thought he was dead," said the other. "Old Dr. Cavillac died last
night."

They spoke aloud, for those were no times of delicacy; and Edward,
fearful that the old syndic had heard such depressing words, whispered,
"I trust, Monsieur Tournon, you will be able to obtain such terms as the
city can accept."

"Pray God I may!" said the old man, not perceiving Edward's little
stroke of art in playing off hope against despair. "Oh, it would be the
brightest day of my life!"

They walked slowly, very slowly; but at length they reached the gate,
over which a very feeble oil-lamp was burning under the heavy stone
arch; for by this time even an article of such common necessity as oil
was terribly scarce in Rochelle. The common soldiers on guard were
evidently indisposed to let Edward and his companion pass; but the young
officer whom the mayor had called Bernard was soon summoned forth from
the guard-house, and with a reverent pressure of the hand he welcomed
the old syndic. "God bless you, sir!" he said. "I was right glad to hear
what Monsieur Guiton told me. Would to Heaven I had a horse or mule to
give you to help you across! but it is not half a mile, and I trust you
have strength for that."

"God knows, Bernard," said the old man, who was leaning very heavily
upon Edward's arm. "I trust my going may be good for the city. Were it
not for that hope, I should be well contented to stay and die here. God
knows how often during the last week I have wished that it were all over
and these eyes closed."

"Nay, nay, sir," said the other, in a kindly tone: "you are reserved for
better things, I trust. But the wicket is open. You had better pass
through, lest any people should come."

The syndic and his young companion passed out into the darkness; but
Clement Tournon's steps became so feeble as they crossed the drawbridge
that Edward proposed to sit down and rest a while upon the same stone
where he had sat in the morning; and there, to amuse his mind for the
time, he spoke of his last visit to the city, and even, under shadow of
the night, alluded to Lucette.

"Ah, dear child!" said the old man. "I heard that she had reached safely
the care of the Duc de Rohan, for he wrote to me. But such a letter! I
could not comprehend it at all. It was full of heat and anger about
something,--I know not what; for there has been no means of inquiring
since. He surely would not have had me keep her in Rochelle to suffer as
we have suffered; but yet he seemed displeased that I had sent her
away."

"He knew not all the circumstances," answered Edward; "and these great
men are impetuous. Have you heard from her?"

"Not a word," said the syndic, with a sigh. "And yet God knows I loved
her as a father."

"And she loved you," said Edward; "but it was some months ere she could
possibly write, and since then Rochelle has been strictly blockaded."

"Ah, Edward Langdale," said the old man, in a sad tone, "the young soon
forget. Joys and pleasures and the freshness of all things around them
wipe away the memories of all early affections. And it is well it should
be so. Old people forget too; but the sponge that blots out their
remembrance is filled with bitterness and gall and decay."

Edward felt that Clement Tournon was doing injustice to Lucette; yet the
words were painful to him to hear, and he changed the subject, trying to
converse upon indifferent things, but with his mind still recurring to
the question, "Can Lucette forget so easily?"

At the end of some half-hour he said, "Let us try now, sir, to reach the
outposts. But first take some more of this cordial. Remember what we
have at stake."

The old man rose; but he was still very feeble, and he stumbled amongst
the low bushes at the end of the bridge. Immediately there was a call
from the walls above of "Who goes there?" and the next instant a shot
from a musket passed close by. Another succeeded, but went more wide;
and, hurrying forward Clement Tournon, Edward put as much space between
them and the walls as possible, saying, in a light tone, "Hard to be
shot at by our friends. I trust that it is an omen we shall be well
received by our enemies."

"I cannot go so fast," said the old man. "Go you on, Master Ned: I will
follow. If they shoot me I cannot hurry."

"No, no! we go together," replied Edward. "Here; keep along this path,
straight for that watch-fire." And, placing the old syndic before him,
he sheltered him completely from the walls with his own body. But there
was no more firing; and the only result was to scare the unhappy
Rochellois with a report that a party of the enemy had approached close
to the gates to reconnoitre.

The distance was really very short, as we have seen, from the walls to
the royal lines; but it was long to poor Clement Tournon, and it
required all Edward's care and skill and attention to get the old man
across. But at length the challenge of the sentinel came; and it was the
most welcome sound that at that moment could meet Edward Langdale's ear.
His flask was at the last drop, and the good syndic seemed to have no
strength left. All difficulties, however, were now over. In five minutes
the young officer who had accompanied Edward from Mauzé was by their
side, with Jacques Beaupré and Pierrot; and, by the demonstrative joy of
the two latter when they beheld Clement Tournon, one would have thought
it was their father who had been rescued from death.

"Ah, sir," exclaimed Jacques, addressing Edward, "I will never doubt
that you can do any thing again. Nobody but you in the whole world could
have done it."

"I must beg of you, sir," said Edward to the young officer, "to obtain
some place of repose for my poor old friend here. He is incapable of
going any farther to-night; and I must away to the cardinal. These two
men can, I presume, procure wine and meat for him; for food and rest are
all that is needful."

"Be assured, sir, all shall be attended to properly," said the young
officer, in the most courteous tone. "Monsieur de Bassompierre will be
here himself in a moment, for he says he knows and esteems this
gentleman, and we could not leave him in better hands, as I myself must
accompany you back to his Eminence, who has moved down to what they call
the Petit Chateau, some miles nearer the city."

This brief conversation took place some fifty yards from where Clement
Tournon was seated between Pierrot and Jacques Beaupré; and at the
moment Edward uttered the last words he heard a bluff, good-humored
voice saying, "Ah! Clement Tournon, my old friend, right glad am I to
see you. So his Eminence has let you out of the cage. What, man! never
droop! we will soon restore your strength. This cardinal of ours has
heard how men tame wild beasts by keeping them on low diet, and he has
determined to try the same plan with you people of Rochelle. But I have
a nice cabin for you here in a corner of the trench, and a good soft
bed, all ready, with a boiled pullet; and we will have a good stoup of
wine together, as we had when you sold me that diamond signet."

"Ah, sir," said the feeble voice of Clement Tournon, "you drank
seven-eighths of the stoup yourself, saying you were thirsty and needed
it. I need it most now, I fear."

"And so you shall drink the seven-eighths now," said Bassompierre,
gayly. "Here! some one bring us a litter. We will carry him home in
triumph. The best of goldsmiths shall have the best of welcomes."

"Farewell for a few hours," said Edward, in a low voice, approaching the
old man's side and pressing his hand. "I must away up to the cardinal,
to show him that I keep faith. But I leave you in good hands, dear
friend, and will be with you again early to-morrow."

Thus saying, he turned away, rejoined the young officer, and rode off
with him as fast as he could go, in order to present himself before
Richelieu had retired to rest. Though probably burning with curiosity,
Edward's companion did not venture to ask any questions in regard to La
Rochelle, but merely pointed to the large packet containing the cup
which Edward carried slung to his cross-belt, saying, in a jocular tone,
"I suppose, Monsieur Langdale, that is not a _havresac_ of provision;
for they do say that article is somewhat scanty in the city."

"Oh, no," said Edward: "this is something too hard to eat: it belongs
not to me, but to his Eminence. I wish it contained something I could
eat; for I have tasted nothing since I left you this morning."

"They fast long in Rochelle," said the young man, dryly; "but you will
be able to get something up at the chateau."

"I must report myself first," answered Edward; and on they rode without
further conversation.

Edward was destined to wait longer for his supper than he expected, for
he was detained in the cardinal's ante-chamber nearly an hour. At the
end of that time, some five or six gentlemen came forth from Richelieu's
room, and Edward's name was called by the usher. The minister was
standing when the young gentleman entered, and was evidently in no humor
for prolonged conversation.

"Have you brought the old man?" he said.

"Yes, my lord cardinal," replied Edward. "I left him at the outposts: he
was too weak to come on."

"Then the famine in the city is severe, I suppose," observed the
cardinal.

"It is, your Eminence," answered Edward; "but I was permitted to see
very little."

"Blindfolded?" asked Richelieu.

"Yes," answered Edward. "But they may hold out some time, I think."

"How long?" demanded the minister.

"With their spirit, perhaps a month," replied Edward.

"A month!" repeated Richelieu. "Impossible! Did you hear of no tumults?"

"None whatever," replied Edward.

"What have you there?" next demanded the cardinal, pointing to the cup
and its covers, which Edward had now detached from his belt.

"It is that work of art I mentioned, sire," replied the young man,
taking it from the parchment bag and unwrapping the many papers which
enfolded it.

Richelieu took it from his hands, gazed at it for a moment or two with
evident admiration, and then set it down on the table, saying,
"Beautiful! beautiful indeed! Have you heard any thing from England?" he
continued, abruptly.

"No," answered Edward; but, instantly correcting himself, he added,
"Yes: I forgot. I found a letter waiting me; but I have not opened it.
It is merely from my old tutor."

"Let me see it," said Richelieu, in a tone that admitted of no refusal.

Edward took it from the pocket of his coat and gave it to him in
silence.

Without the least ceremony, Richelieu opened it, and, after looking at
the date, gave it back again, saying, "Why, it is six months old; and I
have news not much more than seven days. The English fleet is just ready
to sail, it seems, and only waits for your mighty duke to lead them. He
will find some stones in his way before he harbors in Rochelle. But now
good-night, Monsieur Edward Langdale. Be here to-morrow betimes, and we
will talk more. Just now I am tired, and must to rest."



CHAPTER XLIII.


Space is growing short, and we have much to tell. It was several weeks
after the period of which we have just been writing when Edward Langdale
and old Clement Tournon, now restored to health and some degree of
strength, were in the cabinet of the great minister of France. Manifold
papers were before them, and Richelieu's brow was cloudy and stern; but
the old syndic of the goldsmiths of Rochelle was as calm, and seemingly
as much at ease, as when he first encountered Edward Langdale in the
streets of his city.

"Your Eminence, they will not accept it," he said. "There are things
which you do not consider. True, they are, as you say, pressed by
famine. They may, or they may not,--for I have no correct
information,--be forced to surrender or die for want of food within four
days; but, if I know the people of Rochelle, they will die rather than
surrender, unless they have better terms than these. It is useless to
propose them. I should be in some sort deceiving your Eminence were I to
be the bearer of such offers. I know that, without the free exercise of
their religion being assured to my fellow-citizens, die they will,--of
famine or pestilence, or by cannon-balls. I cannot undertake to propose
such terms."

"Are you aware," asked Richelieu, in slow but emphatic language, "that,
seven days ago, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, was stabbed at
Portsmouth, by an assassin named Felton, and died upon the spot?"

Edward Langdale turned pale at the terrible news; but not the slightest
mark of emotion was apparent upon the face of Clement Tournon. Old men
are not easily moved; and he was thinking only of Rochelle.

"Possibly," he said, in a quiet tone: "I always thought he would die a
violent death. But the hopes of the people of Rochelle never rested, my
lord cardinal, upon the Duke of Buckingham."

"Upon what, then, did they rest?" asked Richelieu, in some surprise.

"Upon the hand of God," replied Clement Tournon; "upon the winds and
waves, his ministers. The storms which annually visit this coast have
been long delayed this year. But when they do come they will come more
fiercely; and every man in Rochelle well knows that the marvellous dyke
your Eminence has built will be but as a bed of reeds before them.
Succor will pour in the moment the port is open, and the citizens,
refreshed and comforted, will be ready to resist again all efforts to
control their consciences."

"Pshaw!" said Richelieu: "this point of religion is but a name."

"Not for the people of Rochelle," said Clement Tournon. "We are loyal
subjects of the King of France. We are willing to be obedient in all
temporal things; but we will never profess one faith while we hold
another: we will never resign our right to worship God according to our
own belief."

"Well, well, that will be easily settled," said the cardinal, taking a
pen and striking three or four lines from a writing on the table. "I am
not fighting against any man's sincere faith. I am warring against
rebellion. Read that, sir. Will that be received?"

"Not without a clause securing to the people of Rochelle the full and
free exercise of their religion," said the old syndic, resolutely.

"That is what I mean to grant," said the cardinal,--though a slight
cloud passed over his brow and seemed to indicate that the concession
was made less willingly than he pretended. But, in truth, Richelieu had
heard that very day that the English fleet had sailed, notwithstanding
the death of the high-admiral. One severe storm, and all the labor of
long months might be destroyed, and Rochelle be as safe as ever. There
were indications in the sky, too, which threatened such an event. "That
is what I mean to grant," he repeated. "Have it put in what words you
will, so that nothing be inserted which shall give a turbulent people
pretence for levying war upon their king. Call me a secretary, Monsieur
Langdale."

Edward obeyed; and the terms offered by the cardinal were written out
fair, with a clause guaranteeing to the Rochellois the full and
unmolested exercise of their religion. This paper formed the basis of
that remarkable treaty, soon afterward signed, which for its moderation
has been the wonder of all historians. It is true that the Cardinal de
Richelieu had many reasons for desiring peace as speedily as possible.
It is true that the Rochellois had good reason to hope that relief of
some kind would be afforded them ere long. But it is no less true that
thousands had perished of famine within those walls, and that in a few
days more no soldiers would have been found to man the walls, and
corpses only would have opposed the entrance of the royal troops. There
can be no doubt that a wise and politic clemency characterized the
proceedings of the minister, and that, had he waited till the sick
king's return to the camp, harder conditions would have been imposed. He
seems not to have heeded where the glory of success or the honor of
clemency might fall, so that his great purposes were accomplished; and,
applied to his conduct toward Rochelle, as applied to a later period of
his life, the words of one of his historians are neither fulsome nor
unjust when he said, "France triumphed within and without the realm.
Foreign enemies themselves proclaimed the superior genius of the
cardinal; and the Huguenots, even while sighing over the ruins of their
fortresses dismantled by his orders and under his eyes, could not but
acknowledge his affability, his readiness to adopt all gentle
expedients, and the fidelity with which all his engagements were
observed."

And what became of Edward Langdale all this time? He remained in the
royal camp, not as a prisoner, not exactly free. It was impossible for
him to travel through France and to pass into England without
safe-conduct of some kind; and Edward soon divined that--whether from
suspicion, or from some other motive, he knew not--Richelieu had
determined not to let him depart till Rochelle had surrendered. The
minister became more difficult of access, also, after the king had
returned to the camp, and the long and more familiar conversations which
Edward had enjoyed with him previously were altogether at an end. He was
courteous and kind when the young man was admitted to his presence; but,
when Edward pressed for permission to depart, the answer always was, "In
a few days." On one occasion, indeed, the natural impatience of Edward
Langdale's disposition caused him to burst forth with something beyond
frankness, and he said, bluntly, "Your Eminence has promised to let me
go for the last six weeks. Now, six weeks are nothing to you, but they
are all-important to me; for I have only one crown and two livres in my
pocket, with two servants and myself to furnish, to say nothing of the
horses, who are as badly off as if they were citizens of Rochelle; and,
besides----"

"That will be soon amended," said Richelieu, with a slight smile. "Give
me some more paper off that table." And he wrote an order upon the
treasurer of his household for the payment to Monsieur Edward Langdale
of the usual salary of a gentleman-in-ordinary to the king.

"My lord cardinal, how am I to take this money?" asked Edward. "England
and France are still at war."

"Then take it as a prisoner," said Richelieu, somewhat sternly. "Do not
talk nonsense, lad. But you said 'besides.' What is there besides?"

"If you had read the letter I showed your Eminence," replied Edward,
"you would have seen that my presence is absolutely required in England
upon business of much importance to myself."

"What letter? When? Oh, I remember,--when you brought me the cup. I
cannot help thinking, notwithstanding, you are as well here for the
time. But, speaking of the cup, I pray you put a price upon it."

"I cannot sell a gift that was given me by my father on my birthday. The
very act of giving places an obligation on the receiver not to sell, but
none not to give; and I trust your Eminence will condescend to receive
it on the only terms on which I can part with it."

"Well," said Richelieu, "I will take it on those terms, and will direct
my good friend Monsieur Mulot to give you back the papers that enveloped
it. They seem to belong to you; for I see the name of Langdale
frequently mentioned. Guard them safely till some more learned head than
your own has examined them, for few men know the value of scraps of old
paper. Sometimes they will raise a man to wealth and power, sometimes
throw him headlong down. God knows whether that same art of writing has
done more good or harm in the world. Cadmus, who invented letters, they
say, was the same man who sowed the serpents' teeth and reaped an iron
harvest. Is not this an allegory, Master Langdale? Go and consider of
it; for I am busy just now."

Not long after this conversation, the good but stupid Father Mulot
brought to the young gentleman the bundle of papers in which the cup had
been enveloped, and entered into a long disquisition upon the various
differences between the Catholic and Protestant faiths. He was evidently
bent upon converting his hearer from his religious errors; but Edward
was obdurate to the kind of eloquence which he displayed, and the good
man left him rather in pity than in anger. To examine the papers was
Edward's next task; but he could make nothing of them. Some pages were
wanting; others were mutilated; and, though he saw his father's and his
mother's name in many places, yet but little light could be obtained as
to the import of the documents in which they were mentioned. Only one
gleam of significance appeared throughout the whole. There was one
passage which stated that "Richard Langdale, baronet, with the full and
free consent of his wife, Dame Heleonora Langdale, in virtue of the last
will and testament of Henry Barmont, her uncle, lord of the manor of
Buckley as aforesaid, which consent was testified by her hand and seal
unto the within-written lease and demise, did lease, give, and grant
unto William Watson, his heirs and assigns, for the term of twenty-one
years from the fifth day of----"

There the manuscript stopped, the page which followed being torn off;
but at the same time, though he had no knowledge of law, Edward could
perceive that an admission of the absolute rights of his mother over the
manor of Buckley, under the will of her uncle, was implied. He resolved,
then, to follow the advice of the cardinal and preserve the papers with
care. But still his detention in France was exceedingly annoying. The
letter of Dr. Winthorne had pressed him earnestly to return to England;
and other thoughts and feelings were busy in his bosom urging him in the
same direction. He felt himself something more than bound--shackled--by
his engagement with Lord Montagu. Without any definite cause of
complaint, the links which attached him to that nobleman had been
broken. He felt that he had been doubted without cause, that he had been
neglected and forgotten in a moment of difficulty and peril, and that
the confidence which had at one time existed between his lord and
himself could never be fully restored. Such were the reasons which he
urged upon himself to explain the desire he felt for severing the
connection. But perhaps there was another motive which he did not choose
to scrutinize so accurately. Fifteen months had passed since he had
promised the Cardinal de Richelieu not to seek his young bride for the
space of two years, and Richelieu had promised him that at the end of
those two years she should be his. He had no absolute certainty of where
she was; he knew not what might have become of her; he could only frame
vague, wild plans for finding and recovering her; and nine months,
without a long journey to England, seemed to his impatient heart not
more than time sufficient to vanquish all the obstacles which might lie
between him and her.

In the idleness of the camp, without post, duty, or occupation, his mind
naturally rested for hours each day upon youth's favorite theme. The
imaginative--perhaps I may say the poetical--temperament which he had
inherited from his mother, and which had hitherto in life found few
opportunities of development and little or no encouragement amidst the
hard realities with which he had had to deal, had now full sway, and
sometimes soothed, sometimes tormented him with alternate hopes and
fears.

Lucette was often the theme of his conversation with good Clement
Tournon, who was daily regaining health and strength. The old syndic
asked many questions as to Lucette's journey, and told Edward many of
the rumors which had reached Rochelle; but it was evident that he knew
nothing of that part of Lucette's history which was the most interesting
to his young hearer. Feelings which it is needless to dwell upon
prevented Edward from referring to it himself; and day after day he
would ride forth into the country alone, or walk up and down in the
neighborhood of the cardinal's residence, buried in solitary thought.

To the country-house now inhabited by Richelieu was attached a garden in
an antique taste, where roses had now ceased to bloom and the flowers of
summer had all passed away. But it was a quiet and solitary place, for
the taste of neither soldiers nor courtiers led them that way, and,
though the gates were always open, it was rarely that any one trod the
walks, except one of the cooks with white night-cap on head seeking
pot-herbs in a bed which lay at the lower part of the ground. Edward
Langdale was more frequently there than anywhere else; and one day,
toward evening, as he was walking up and down in one of the cross-walks,
he saw the cardinal come forth from the building alone and take his way
straight down the centre alley, looking first down upon the ground and
then up toward the sky, as a man wearied with the thoughts and cares
and business of the day. It seemed no moment to approach him; and Edward
somewhat hurried his pace toward a small gate at the end of the garden.
He had nearly reached it when the cardinal's voice stopped him.

"Come hither," said Richelieu, "and, if you are inclined to talk of no
business, walk here by me. It is strange that amongst all who are here
there is hardly one man with whom one's mind can refresh itself. My
friend Bois Robert is too full of jest. It becomes tiresome. Good Father
Mulot (whom they should have called Mulet) is full of one idea,--the
conversion of heretics, by fire and sword, pestilence and famine, or
what else you like,--though I cannot see why to prevent them from being
damned in the other world I should be damned in this. I know the verses
of Horace are against me, and that every man unreasonably complains of
his fate; but I cannot help thinking that of all the conditions in the
world the fate of a prime minister is the most anxious, laborious, and
tiresome."

"I should think so indeed, your Eminence," said Edward, with a sigh.

"Ha!" said Richelieu: "then you are so little ambitious as to deem it
has no advantages?"

"Not so, my lord," replied Edward. "It has vast and magnificent
advantages,--the power to do good, to stop evil, to reward the worthy,
ay, and even to punish the bad,--to save and elevate one's country. But
great and valuable things must always be purchased at a high price; and
I can easily conceive that the sense of responsibility, the opposition
of petty factions and base intrigues, the stupidity of some men, the
cunning devices of others, the importunity and the ingratitude of all,
the want of domestic peace, the continual sacrifice of personal comfort,
must make the high position your Eminence speaks of any thing but a bed
of roses."

"You shall have your safe-conduct to-morrow morning," said Richelieu.
"Such sentiments are sufficient to corrupt the whole court of France.
Sir, if they were to become general, and men would but act upon them, I
should have nothing to do. There would be nobody to envy me. Nobody
would try to overthrow me. They would only look upon me as the
wheel-horse of the car of state, and wonder that I could pull along so
patiently. The ingratitude of all!" he repeated, in a meditative tone.
"Ay, it is but too true! Those are the petrifying waters which harden
the heart and seem to turn the very spirit into stone. Do you know what
has been done within this hour, Monsieur Langdale?"

"No," replied the young Englishman: "I have heard of nothing important,
sir."

"Why, I thought it must be at the gates of Paris by this time," said
Richelieu. "A treaty has been signed with Rochelle; and a good man--a
marvellous good man in his way--says I am no true Catholic, because I
will not starve some thousands of men to death or make them take the
mass with a lie upon their mouths. I do not understand his reasoning,
but that is my fault, of course; but through this very treaty of
Rochelle I think I shall make more real Catholics than he would make
false ones. But now, Monsieur Langdale, you think I have kept you here
unreasonably; but you are mistaken. I wished to have news from various
quarters ere I suffered you to go back to England. I need not tell you
to return by the month of July next; but, for many reasons, I desire you
should return before. I leave it to yourself to do so or not; but you
will find it for your benefit. To-morrow you shall have all necessary
passes,--though it is probable that the fall of this very city of
Rochelle will lead to peace between France and England. If it do so,
remember a conversation which took place between us a good many months
ago."

"I will not forget it, my lord," replied Edward. "I believe I have
always kept my word to your Eminence."

"You have," said Richelieu. "You have. Would to God I could say the same
of all men! And, now, what money will you want for your passage?"

"None, your Eminence," replied Edward. "I have a little property in
England, the rents of which accumulated while I was lodged and fed by
good Monsieur de Bourbonne; and I can get what I want at Rochelle."

"Oh, go not into that miserable place!" said Richelieu,--"at least not
till all the bodies are interred and it is free from pestilence. This
siege will ever be memorable in the annals of the world for the
sufferings of the people, and for the resolution of their leaders also.
I can admire great qualities even in my enemies. But here comes Tronson
to call me to the king. Come to me to-morrow."



CHAPTER XLIV.


Four days more passed before Edward actually got his proper passes and
safe-conduct; but then they came in the most precise style and ample
form. His whole person was described with accuracy. He was mentioned as
a young English gentleman attached to Lord Montagu, travelling under the
particular protection of his Majesty the King of France, with two
_palfreniers_ and other servants and attendants; and all governors of
towns and provinces, and officers civil and military, as well throughout
the realm of France as in neighboring countries in amity with that
power, were directed not only to let him freely pass and give him aid
and assistance, but to show him every hospitable attention and courtesy
on his journey or journeys in any direction whatsoever during the next
two years ensuing. The whole was signed by the king's own hand and
countersigned by the cardinal. Though I possess one of these passports
myself on parchment, signed with an immense "_Louis_," I regret to say
it does not have the countersignature of Richelieu; but it is certain
that they were occasionally given under his administration also. At all
events, Edward comprehended that, wherever he bent his steps, no more
interruptions of his journey would occur on the part of any of the
officers of the crown.

The cardinal himself he could not see before his departure, for those
were very busy times; but on the sixth day the young gentleman
re-entered the city of Rochelle with his good friend Clement Tournon,
and went direct to the syndic's house. The royal soldiers were in
possession of the place; the walls were in progress of demolition; and
there was an aspect of disappointment and sadness upon the faces of the
people generally, though some were rejoicing openly in the return of
peace and plenty, little heeding the loss of a certain degree of that
liberty which they had at one time cherished as the best of human
possessions.

The royal forces, however, had not confined themselves to razing the
fortifications, but, with that good-humor which is one of the chief and
most amiable characteristics of the French people, had aided the
citizens in burying the dead, in cleansing the streets, and in purifying
the town generally, so that, on the whole, the city bore a much more
cheerful and happy appearance than it had done when Edward had last
visited it. In the court before the house of the old syndic, two of the
apprentices were busy rooting out the grass from between the stones; and
Marton herself, with a gay face, though it was still somewhat pale and
thin, came running down to greet her old master. These were all that
remained of the once numerous household; and the joy of his return to
his ancient dwelling was mingled with sufficient bitterness to draw some
natural tears from Clement Tournon's eyes.

Many little incidents occurred to Edward Langdale during his short stay
in Rochelle which we need not dwell upon here. Amongst the servants of
his host he was in some sort a hero for the part he had taken in saving
their beloved master. Several of the citizens, too, came to visit him;
and, in the stormy night of the 2d of November, Guiton himself, wrapped
in his large mantle, presented himself to pass an hour or two with his
old friend and the syndic's young guest.

It was a night very memorable,--much like that on which Edward had
crossed the seas some eighteen months before. The winds burst in sharp
gusts over the town, still rising in force, and howling as they rose;
the casement shook and rattled, the tiles were swept from the roofs and
dashed to pieces in the streets, and rain mingled with sleet dashed in
the faces of the passers-by. Many died that night of those who were
still sick in the hospitals. The conversation of the mayor was by no
means cheerful. He had been forced into his high position against his
own desire; he had drawn the sword unwillingly, but, full of energy and
hope, he had sheathed it with even less willingness, and saw in the
surrender of Rochelle the ruin of the Protestant cause and the
destruction of the religious liberties of France. His heart was
depressed, and all his thoughts seemed gloomy. Once, when one of the
fiercest gusts shook the house, he burst forth in an absent tone,
exclaiming, "Ay, blow! blow! You may blow now without doing any damage
to Fortune's favorite! By the Lord in Heaven, Mr. Langdale, it would
seem that this man Richelieu's fortunes have even bent the clouds and
storms to his subjection! Here that tempestuous sea which was never
known for six weeks to an end to be without storm and shipwreck has been
as calm and tranquil as a fish-pond in a garden for months--ever since
that accursed dyke was first commenced; and now no sooner is Rochelle
lost than up rises the spirit of the tempest. Hark how it howls! At high
tide half the dyke that has ruined us will be swept away! Mark my words,
young gentleman: by this time to-morrow all the succors which we needed
so many months will be able to enter our port in safety."

And it was so. On the following day, more than forty toises of the dyke
were carried away, and a fleet of small wine-vessels from the
neighboring country entered the harbor without difficulty.

The storm raged fiercely for the next two days; and the time was spent
in friendly intercourse by Clement Tournon and Edward Langdale, who
wished to embark from Rochelle but could find no vessel ready or willing
to put to sea.

Of all the remarkable changes which have taken place in the state of
society during the last two hundred years--changes which produce and
will daily produce other changes--none is so wonderful as in the
facility of locomotion. The change from the caterpillar to the butterfly
is not so great. Go back two hundred years, and you will find nothing
but delay and uncertainty. Ay, within a shorter space than that, the
back of your own horse, the inconvenient inside of a heavy coach going
three miles in an hour, or the still slower wagon with its miscellaneous
denizens, or the post-horse with its postilion riding beside it, were,
in every part of Europe, the only means afforded to the traveller of
journeying from place to place over the land; while over the water slow
ships could only be found occasionally at certain ports, and their
departure and arrival depended upon a thousand other chances and events
than the pleasure of the winds and waves. It is only wonderful that a
voyage did not occupy a lifetime. Now----But it is no use telling my
reader what this now is. He knows it so well that he forgets even the
inconveniences that he himself has suffered, perhaps a score or two of
years ago, and can hardly conceive the possibility of the hardships, the
troubles and disappointments, of a journey in the seventeenth century,
till he takes up some of the memoirs or romances of that day, and finds
a whole host of minor miseries recorded which render an expedition to
Mount Sinai at present but a joke in comparison. It is true that our
present system has its evils as well as its benefits, viewed by
different persons according to their different professional or habitual
tastes. The picturesque traveller will tell you that you lose one-half
of the scenery; the timid traveller, that you risk breaking your neck;
the police-officer, that thieves and swindlers get off much more easily
than they used to do; and members of Parliament, that their constituents
are a great deal too near at hand. But there are compensations for all
these little troubles and especially in the case of those of the
police-officer; for, if the thief or swindler has easy means of getting
away, there are--thanks to electric telegraphs--more easy means still of
catching him.

All Edward's preparations were made: the calculation of what rents had
accumulated in the hands of good Dr. Winthorne was easy also, and to get
the amount in gold and silver was easier still, with Clement Tournon at
his right hand. But, as there seemed, upon inquiry, no probability
whatever of a ship sailing from Rochelle within a reasonable time,
Edward determined to run across the country to Calais, between which
port and England there always has been a desultory trade carried on,
even in time of war, down to the reign of the third George.

"I shall see you soon again, Edward," said old Clement Tournon, as the
young gentleman descended the stairs to mount his horse.

"I trust so," said Edward. "But I really cannot tell how soon I shall
return."

"Nor I how soon I shall go over," said the old man, with a smile. "I
have business myself at Huntingdon; and if you are in that neighborhood
a month hence we shall meet there. You have told me all the places where
you intend to stop, and I have made a note of it,--so that I shall
easily find you wherever you are."

Edward was surprised, but not so much, perhaps, as might be expected;
for, from vague hints which his good old host had let drop, he had
gathered that Clement Tournon, steadfast and perhaps a little bigoted in
the Protestant faith, had a strong inclination to make England his
future home. He had been there often; he loved the country and the
people, and still more the religion; and most of the ties between him
and Rochelle seemed to have been severed when the city lost its
independence. Often in Edward's hearing he had called England the land
of comfort and peace,--alas! it was not destined long to remain so,--and
even that very day he had remarked that the state of France, with its
constant broils, intrigues, and factions, might suit a young and
aspiring spirit, but was not fitted for declining years.

He and his young friend parted with deep and mutual regret. It is seldom
that so much friendship ever exists between the old and the young; but
each might feel that he owed the other his life, not by any sudden act
which might be the result of a momentary impulse, but by calm,
determined, persevering kindness, which could not but have a deeper
source.

This has been a very short chapter: but we may as well change the scene;
for our space, according to the law of Goths and Vandals, which altereth
not, is very short, alas!



CHAPTER XLV.


The days of _vis-à-vis_ lined with sky-blue velvet had not come, though,
as any one who is read in the pleasant Antoine Hamilton must know, one
generation was sufficient to produce them. But, had they been in
existence, there were no roads for them to travel upon; for we hear that
just about this time one of the presidents of the Parliament of Paris
lost his life by the great imprudence of travelling in a large heavy
coach over a French country-road.

I was in great hope at this place to be enabled to introduce, for the
gratification of my readers, a solitary horseman. But I am disappointed;
for Edward Langdale, now that I have again to bring him on the scene,
had good Pierrot la Grange with him. And it would never do to have a
solitary horseman two.

It was on a road, then, leading from London into the heart of the
country, that Lord Montagu's page--Lord Montagu's page no longer, for he
had formally resigned his attendance upon that nobleman--rode along, on
a cold, bright, wintry evening, with the renowned Pierrot la Grange,
whose face, by adherence to the total-abstinence system, though much
less brilliant in hue, had become much smoother, plumper, and fairer.
Both he and his master were well armed, as was the custom of the day,
and each was a likely man enough to repel any thing like attack on the
part of others; for be it remarked that Edward Langdale was very much
changed by the passage of twenty months over his head since first we
introduced him to the reader. He was broader, stronger, older, in
appearance; and, though of course there was nothing of the mould of age
about him, yet all the batterings and bruisings he had gone through had
certainly stamped manhood both on his face and form. He had a very
tolerable beard also,--at least as far as mustache and royal were
concerned,--trimmed in that shape which the pencil of Vandyke has
transmitted to us in his portraits of some of the most memorable
characters in modern history. It is probable that he had grown a little
also; for at his age men will grow, notwithstanding all the world will
do to keep them down. He was, in short, somewhat above the middle
height, though not a very tall man,--of that height which is more
serviceable in the field than in the ring.

At the crossing of two roads, one of which ran into Cambridgeshire,
while the other took toward Huntingdon, was a small, low inn: I mean low
in structure, for it was by no means low in character. It was one of the
neatest inns I ever set my eyes on,--for it was standing in my day and
is probably standing still,--with its neat well-whitewashed front, its
carved doorway, its various gables, and its mullioned windows and the
lozenge-shaped panes set in primitive lead. To the right of the inn, as
you looked from the door upon the road, was a very neat farm-yard, half
full of golden straw, with a barn and innumerable chickens,--chanticleers
of all hues and colors, and dame partlets of every breed. Beyond the
barn, at the distance of fifty or sixty yards, ran a beautiful clear
stream, which crossed both the roads very nearly at their bifurcation,
and which, though so shallow as only to wash gently the fetlocks of the
passengers' horses, was, and must be still, renowned for its beautiful
trout, silvery, with gold and crimson spots and the flesh the color of a
blush-rose. On the other side of the stream, about a quarter of a mile
farther up, was a picturesque little mill, with a group of towering
Huntingdon poplars shading it on the east.

Here Edward Langdale drew in his horse, although the sun was not fully
down.

God knows what made him do so, for he had proposed to ride farther: but
there was an aspect of peace and rural beauty and contented happiness
about the whole place which might touch that latent poetry in his
disposition already alluded to. Or it might be that all the fierce
scenes of strife and turmoil and care and danger he had passed through
in the last twenty months had made his heart thirsty for a little calm
repose; and where could he find it so well as there? Expectation,
however, is always destined to be disappointed. This is the great moral
of the fable of life. The people of the house, who had much respect for
a man who came with an armed servant and whose saddle-bags were well
stuffed, gave him a clean, comfortable room looking over the court-yard
to the river, and served him his supper in the chamber underneath.

It was night before he sat down; but, before the fine broiled trout had
disappeared, the sound of several horses' feet was heard from the road,
and then that of voices calling for hostlers and stable-boys.

Edward had easily divined, from his first entrance into the house, that
this which he now occupied was the only comfortable public room in the
inn,--although there was another on the other side of the passage, where
neighboring farmers held their meetings and smoked their pipes. He
expected, therefore, that his calm little supper would be interrupted,
and was not at all surprised to see a gentleman of good mien, a little
below the middle age, followed by two or three attendants, enter the
parlor and throw himself into a chair.

The stranger cast a hasty and careless glance around, and then gave some
directions to one of his followers in the French language. It was not
the sort of half French spoken a good deal in the court of England at
that time, but whole, absolute, perfect French, with French idioms and a
French tongue.

As long as the conversation referred to nothing more than boots and
baggage and supper and good wine, Edward took no notice, but went on
with his meal, anxious to finish it as soon as possible. But soon after,
when the person the stranger had been speaking to had left the room,
that gentleman began a different sort of discourse with another of his
followers, and commented pretty freely, and with some wit, upon the
state of parties at the court of England.

"Your pardon for interrupting you," said Edward at once. "My servant and
myself both understand French; and it would be neither civil nor honest
to overhear your conversation without giving you that warning."

The other thanked him for his courtesy, adding, "You are a Frenchman, of
course?"

"Not so," answered Edward. "I am an Englishman; but I have spent some
time in France."

Next came a great number of those questions which nobody can put so
directly without any lack of politeness as a Frenchman:--how long he had
lived in France; whom he knew there; when he had left it.

Edward answered all very vaguely, for he never had any great relaxation
of tongue; but the stranger caught at the admission that he had been
only a fortnight in England, exclaiming, "Then you must have been in
France when Rochelle surrendered."

"I was," answered the young gentleman: "it is not quite three weeks
since I left that city."

"Ha!" said the stranger, eyeing him from head to foot. "Will you favor
me, sir, by telling me the state of the place and the condition of its
inhabitants? It is a subject in which I take a great interest. Methinks
they surrendered somewhat promptly when succor was so near."

"Not so, sir," replied Edward. "When men have nothing to eat,--when they
have seen their fathers, and their brothers, and their mothers, and
their sisters, die of famine in their streets,--when the very rats and
mice of a city are all consumed, and the wharves have been stripped of
mussels and limpets,--they must either die or surrender. There is no use
of dying; for death is the worst sort of capitulation, and the city
becomes the enemy's without even a parchment promise."

"Ay; and was it really so bad?" said the other.

"More than one-third of the inhabitants had died," said Edward; "another
third were dying; and the rest were so feeble that the walls might be
said to be manned by living corpses."

"You excite my curiosity and my compassion," said the other. "May I ask
if you had any command in Rochelle?"

"None," replied the young gentleman. "By accident I was in it for a day
during the siege, and saw how much they could endure. I was in it also
immediately after the siege, and saw how much they had endured. Though
Rochelle fell at last, her defence is one of the most glorious facts in
French history."

The stranger looked down upon the ground and replied nothing for several
minutes; but his companion with whom he had been conversing familiarly
took up the conversation, and asked after several of the citizens of
Rochelle whom Edward was personally acquainted with or knew by name. The
solemn words, "He is dead", "She is dead", "All the family died by
famine", "He died of the pestilence", were of sad recurrence. "But
then", the stranger remarked, "we know that Guiton is alive; for he
signed the treaty."

"He tried hard to die first," said Edward. "But nothing seemed to break
his iron frame, and the people became clamorous."

"And what became of the good old syndic Tournon?" asked the first
stranger.

"He is alive and well," answered Edward.

"Ah! but he would have been dead and buried," exclaimed Pierrot, who
could refrain no longer, "if it had not been for you, sir."

"Indeed?" said the stranger. "Let me inquire how that happened."

"It matters not, sir," replied Edward, making a sign to Pierrot to hold
his tongue. "What the man says may be partly true, partly mistaken; but,
although I am willing to give any one interested general news, I must
decline referring to matters entirely personal when conversing with
strangers."

"Well, then, let us talk of other subjects," said the first stranger. "I
cannot consent to part with a gentleman lately from my own land, so soon
as that movement of your plate seems to imply. Supper I shall take none;
for the news that has flowed in upon me for the last fortnight, has not
tended to strengthen my appetite. Wine, however,--the resource of the
sad and the sorry,--I must have. They tell me it is good here. Will you
allow me to try some of that which stands at your right hand?"

Edward ordered Pierrot to bring some fresh glasses, and put the bottle
over to his self-invited guest. The stranger drank some, and, saying,
"It is very fair," immediately ordered more to be brought, while
Pierrot, bending over Edward's chair as if to remove the dish before
him, whispered in his ear, "It is the Prince de Soubise."

With all his habitual self-command, Edward could not refrain from a
slight start. The color, too, mounted in his cheek with some feelings of
anger; but he was glad of the warning, and did not suffer what was
passing in his heart to appear. The conversation turned in a different
course from that which it had before assumed, Soubise referring no more
to the subject of Rochelle, though his companion, who seemed a friend of
inferior rank, often turned toward that topic. Whenever he did so, the
prince immediately asked some question as to Edward's knowledge of
France and its inhabitants; and the young gentleman, to say the truth,
took some pleasure, after the first effects of surprise were over, in
puzzling him by his answers. He had passed over so much of France that
his intimate acquaintance with the country excited Soubise's
astonishment; and from localities his questions turned to persons. "As
you have been in Lorraine," he said, "you have probably seen the
beautiful and witty Duchesse de Chevreuse."

"I have the honor of knowing her well," replied Edward.

"Do you know the Duc de Montbazon?" asked the prince.

"Not in the least," replied Edward.

"The Cardinal de Richelieu?" continued Soubise.

"I have seen his Eminence frequently," said the young gentleman, "and
have had audiences of him; but, as to knowing the cardinal, that can be
said but by few, I imagine."

Soubise smiled. "The duchess is more easily known," he answered; "but
the death of her lover Chalais must have affected her much,--poor thing!
Did you ever meet with him?"

"Not exactly," replied Edward, with a slight shudder at the memory. "I
saw his head cut off, but did not know him personally."

The reference caused a momentary pause in the conversation; and then
Soubise said, in an indifferent tone, "As you have been much in that
part of the country, you must have probably seen a Duc de Rohan."

"I had the honor of meeting him once," replied Edward, fully on his
guard.

"He is a relation of mine," said Soubise.

Edward merely bowed his head, and the prince proceeded to ask if there
had been any news of him current when the young gentleman was in France.

"The last I heard of him," said Edward, "was a rumor that, after
menacing the right of the king's army till a party had been sent out to
cut off his retreat, he had, by a skilful night-march through the woods
in the rear, effected his escape and fallen back upon Saintonge."

Soubise seemed desirous of prolonging the conversation; but Edward soon
after retired to his chamber, resolved to be up by sunrise and pursue
his way. His determination was vain, however. Though he was on foot
early, Soubise was up before him; and they met at the door of the inn,
where their horses were already standing. A quiet bow on either part was
their only salutation; and, as there were two roads, Edward would
willingly have seen which the prince selected. As he did not mount,
however, the young gentleman followed the path he had previously
proposed to take,--namely, that toward Huntingdon,--and three or four
minutes after heard the more numerous party of Soubise coming up at good
speed.

"Ah, young gentleman," said the prince, riding up to his side, "so we
are going the same way. Permit me to bear you company."

Edward bowed his head somewhat coldly, for he did not desire the
companionship. He might have learned some policy in the varied life he
had led, and it certainly would have been politic in him to court the
good opinion of the man by his side; but, even had the nature of his
character permitted it, he believed it would be of no use. Generous and
frank, Soubise was known to be somewhat obstinate as well as hasty; and
Edward thought, "I would rather win her in spite of him than by his
aid."

Their journey, therefore, did not promise to be very agreeable; and,
when the prince demanded which way his course ultimately lay, the young
gentleman replied, "I go toward Huntingdon, sir; but, if that is the
direction of your journey, I shall have to leave you before we reach the
town, for I have to turn off the highroad some miles on this side of
Buckden."

"And so have I," said Soubise; "but we may as well make the way pleasant
by each other's society as long as our roads lie together. Do you know
this country as well as you know France?"

"This part of the country," replied Edward; "for I was born and brought
up not many miles from where we are now riding."

"Indeed!" said the prince. "I should have thought by your speech you had
passed the greater part of your life in my own land. Do you know what
that little river is just before us?"

"It is the Ivil," answered Edward, "which runs into the Ouse lower
down."

"The Ouse!" said Soubise. "I do not know much English, but that seems to
me an ugly name. If I recollect, Ouse means mud,--slime."

"We are a plain-spoken people," answered the young man, "and usually
give things the name we think they deserve. The Ouse in many places is a
sluggish, muddy stream; and our good ancestors applied the name they
judged most appropriate."

"'Tis as well they do," said Soubise, with a sigh. "We in France have a
different habit. Our more excitable imaginations take fire at a name,
and we are apt to decorate very plain things with fanciful appellations;
but this leads to frequent disappointment. Which is the happiest people
must depend upon whether it is best in a hard world to see things as
they are, or to see them as we would have them."

"We are often forced to see them as they are," replied Edward; "and if
we always did so there would be no disappointments."

"Nor much happiness," said Soubise.

Thus conversing, they rode on. But we must pass lightly over the talk
with which they enlivened the way, merely observing that Lucette's
cousin rose not inconsiderably in Edward's opinion as they went. Nay,
more: his manners were so graceful, his thoughts so just, his
conversation so varied, that the young Englishman could not but feel
pleased with his company and inclined to like himself. Still, in the
true English spirit, he said, in his own heart, "Oh, yes, he is very
charming now he is in a good humor. The devil is so when he is pleased;
but methinks I could conjure forth the horns and hoofs if I were but to
tell him who I am."

At length the scenes through which they passed became painfully familiar
to Edward's eye,--spots he had known well, cottages he had visited,
houses belonging to old friends of his family. The very trees and shrubs
and little water-courses seemed like old acquaintances calling back
times past and appealing to regret. He grew grave and cold. The chilly
feeling which had first fallen upon him not many years before, but which
had somewhat passed away during the last few months, returned, and many
memories, as ever, brought their long train of sorrows with them.

Not far from Little Barford, a fine sloping lawn came down to the
road-side, separated from the highway merely by a thick, well-trimmed
hedge broken by some fine groups of trees; and, looking up, a large
square house with many windows, and a trim garden terraced and
ornamented with urns and statues, could be seen at the distance of a
quarter of a mile. There were several men in the grounds engaged in
various country-employments, and Edward said, within himself, "He is
taking care of the place, at all events."

At the same moment Soubise observed, "That is a fine chateau! Do you
know to whom it belongs, and what it is called? It is so long since I
was in this part of England that I forget the places."

"That is called Buckley Hall," replied Edward. "It belongs to Sir
Richard Langdale."

"How is that?" said Soubise, suddenly, as if something surprised him.
But Edward did not answer, and the prince merely said, "Let us pull up
for an instant and look at it."

It was torture to Edward to stay; but he paused for a moment, and then
said, "I fear I must go on, for I have still some distance to ride. My
road, too, lies here to the left."

"Ay?" said Soubise; "so does mine. Let us go on."

"Are you sure you are right?" asked Edward Langdale. "Huntingdon is
straight before you."

"Oh, I am right," answered the prince: "I turn just beyond Buckley."

Edward had nothing more to say; but he could not help beginning to think
that his adventure with the two blacksmiths seemed likely to come over
again. Somewhat quickening their pace, they rode on, and Edward made an
effort to cast off the melancholy mood which had fallen upon him, and
even the impression which the unsought society of a man who had spoken
of him in such insulting terms had produced at first, and the
conversation between him and Soubise became lively and cheerful. Mile
after mile passed; and at length, after proceeding for more than an hour
and a half, on a little bank by the side of the river appeared an old
church with its gray ivy-clad tower and groups of yews in the
churchyard. Beyond, at the distance of some two or three hundred yards,
was one of those fine antique houses, built of stone, which were erected
in the end of Elizabeth's reign and in the earlier part of that of the
most pompous and conceited of kings. Thick walls, small square windows,
little useless towers, and somewhat peaked roofs, spoke a good deal of
King James. But the lawn, as soft as velvet, the groups of shrubs, and
the garden, well trimmed and swept even in the winter-time, told a tale
of more modern taste.

"I fear I shall have to quit you here, sir," said Edward, as they
approached the gate with its two massy stone pillars and large balls at
the top. "This is the end of my journey."

"What is the name of this place?" asked Soubise.

"Applethorpe," answered Edward,--"the residence of Dr. Winthorne."

"Ha?" said Soubise; "then we shall not part so soon. This is the end of
my journey also."

Edward could not refrain from turning round and gazing in his face with
a look of most profound surprise; but the prince made no further remark,
and, after pulling in their horses while one of the servants dismounted
and opened the gates they rode up to the large arched door of the
house. A heavy bell hanging outside soon brought forth an old domestic,
dressed in dark gray, who gazed earnestly first at Soubise and then at
Edward, both of whom had sprung to the ground while he was opening the
door. At first he evidently recognised neither; but a moment after the
light of honest satisfaction brightened his countenance, and, holding
forth his hand to Edward, he exclaimed, "Oh, Master Ned, how glad I am
to see you, and how glad the doctor will be! He has been looking for you
for months. But he is not at home now, and may not come back for an
hour. But come in; come in. Every thing is ready for you. Your old room
is just as you left it,--not a book moved, nor a gun, nor a fishing-rod:
only when I went in to-day to dust the things, I saw the ink had dried
up in the horn, and was going to put in fresh this very day."

Edward shook the old man warmly by the hand; and, turning to the Prince
de Soubise, he said, "If I understood you right, sir, you came to visit
Dr. Winthorne. He is out, the servant says; but I have interest enough
in this house to invite you to enter till his return. He will be back in
an hour, and happy, I am sure, to entertain you. But, knowing my old
preceptor's habits well, allow me to hint that it will be necessary to
send your attendants into the village, as I shall send my servant; for,
being a clergyman, he objects to have in his house what he calls
'swash-buckler serving-men;' and his rule apply to all, however high the
quality of his guests."

Soubise smiled; and, ushering him into the library, Edward proceeded,
amidst the somewhat garrulous joy of the old footman, to direct Pierrot
to take the other men down to the village inn, to tell the host there to
attend on them well, "for Master Ned's sake," and then to return as soon
as might be with his saddle-bags.

The prince merely ordered his baggage to be brought up, directing his
men to take care of themselves, and seeming fully satisfied that he
would be a welcome guest. He took some books from the shelves of the
library, examined them cursorily, and put them back, saying, "The good
doctor seems to have improved much in worldly matters. He has attained,
apparently, the state he always desired,--competency, and enough to
have a good library. Can any one imagine a man more happy?"

"Perhaps not," said Edward, gravely. "I believe circumscribed desires
and moderate fortunes attain the height of human felicity."

"Not so," said Soubise. "I believe every human life must be looked at as
an aggregate; and skilful would be the calculator who could reduce to an
exact sum how much joy and how much sorrow are required to equivale a
given portion of calm and unimpassioned existence. All these things are
as the individual views them. We have nothing in this life by which to
measure the real value of any object but our own tastes. You may like a
pearl better than a diamond; I may esteem the flashing lustre of the one
more than the calm serenity of the other. That man is only happy who
obtains what he really desires. But here come our men, I see, with the
baggage."



CHAPTER XLVI.


The Prince de Soubise stood at the window of the library of Applethorpe
alone; for Edward had made an excuse to leave him, not thinking himself
bound to play the host in a house which was not his, nor to act as the
entertainer of a man whom he had some good cause, as he thought, to
dislike. Soubise was then past forty, however, and he did not--as indeed
who does in middle life?--look upon trifles with the serious view which
one takes of them in earlier years. "Hasty and quick in quarrel" applies
to small as well as great things; and Heaven knows how much patience we
acquire each day by the mere habit of endurance. He received the young
man's apology in good part, then; and, while Edward Langdale went to
speak to every old servant and then to change his travel-stained dress,
he stood, as I have said, at the window and gazed forth upon a scene to
be viewed in no other country under the sky,--a home scene of English
life. It is probably of no age, of no time; for it is an impress of the
mind and character of the people. But I must not dwell upon it. The
chapter of descriptions has gone by. Soubise gazed out, compared that
which was before his eyes with that on which they might have rested in
his own country, admired what he saw, and perhaps, in the desponding
mood which certainly then affected him, felt sorry that France had not
so calm, so peaceful, and so happy a look as an English country-village.

After he had continued gazing for some ten minutes, upon the road before
him appeared an elderly man upon a fine stout horse, with clerical hat
and cassock turned up, and a servant following him on a still better
beast. They both rode fast; and, though the first sat his steed somewhat
after the fashion of a sack of wheat, it was clear that the saddle was
quite familiar to him, and the slouching shoulders and negligent air
were more the consequences of perfect ease and habit than of
awkwardness. The servant pulled back the gate: his master dashed
through, and in a moment after Dr. Winthorne was at the door.

The old footman ran forth to give him entrance, and a few words passed,
of which Soubise only heard the words, "Ned come back? Tell the dear
fellow to come down. A stranger? Well, we must see strangers." And the
door of the library opened.

Dr. Winthorne gazed at Soubise, and the prince at him, without any sign
of recognition as they approached each other. But suddenly the reverend
gentleman stopped, exclaiming, "God bless me! Monsieur Soubise! On my
life, sir, I am glad to see you. When did you come over? How fares it
with you? You are older by a good deal, but you look well. I am
right?--surely the Prince de Soubise?"

"The same, my good old friend," said the prince. "I am not surprised you
doubt, for I feel I am much changed. It is ten long years since we met,
and with me they have been stormy years."

"So I have heard," said the good doctor, "though news travels but slowly
in our poor country. But I have watched your noble struggles as closely
as I could; and I have felt great interest in them all, though
you--every one of you--made great mistakes. And now Rochelle is lost.
God help us! It is a sad case; but she could hold out no longer; and
that Mayor Guiton is a noble man."

"He is indeed," said Soubise; "and his character has risen in my opinion
by what has been told me by a young gentleman who came hither with
me----"

"Odds-my-life!" cried the old doctor, "my boy Ned!--Ned Langdale! I must
go, prince,--I must go and hug him. Sir, he is as fine a youth as ever
lived, and ought to be a great man. God send he may escape it! But I
have not seen him yet. Excuse me: I will be back in a minute. Make
yourself at home; make yourself at home. All shall be prepared for you
before you can say Amen."

With this somewhat unconnected speech, Dr. Winthorne left the room, and
in a few minutes returned with Edward Langdale, who allowed himself to
be introduced to the prince with cold ceremony. "He says," observed Dr.
Winthorne, "that somehow you have not treated him well. But we will talk
of that after supper. Every thing should be explained between all
people; but no explanation should take place fasting. The humors are
then in a bad condition; and, as there is no chance in my house of
people heating them by potations, we will just calmly regulate them by
wholesome food and moderate drink, and then have a clear understanding."

"I am perfectly unconscious----" said the prince; but the doctor cut him
short, exclaiming, "After supper, after supper, my lord! Your apartments
are quite ready. Let me conduct you."

The old clergyman and the Protestant prince retired from the room, and
Dr. Winthorne was nearly half an hour absent. When he returned, however,
he shook Edward once more warmly by the hand, saying, "Why, Ned, my boy,
you are grown quite a man. Heaven show us mercy! you have a beard an ell
long. But now tell me all that has happened to you. As to this man
up-stairs, he is a good man, a very good man,--hasty, but noble and
generous, steady in his friend-ships, true to his cause. There is some
mistake between you and him. He says your brother Richard wrote to him,
or visited him, or something, and he might have treated him with some
indignity; but he never saw or heard of you in his life till last night,
when he met you at an inn."

Edward smiled, saying, "He must have a short memory."

"Well, well," said Dr. Winthorne, "we will have it all after supper. Now
tell me every thing you have done and seen and suffered; for I doubt not
you have suffered too, my poor boy. We shall have plenty of time if this
prince takes as long to bedizen himself as he used to do. He was a
mighty fop in other years; but he has a more soldier-like look now.
Well, Ned, give me the whole story."

Edward Langdale willingly enough related succinctly what had befallen
him since he parted from the good doctor nearly two years before. There
was a good deal, indeed, he did not tell, for he knew that the
explanations required would be too long for the limited space before
him. Indeed, before even the abbreviated narrative was brought to a
close, the Prince de Soubise joined them, and they retired into another
chamber to supper.

The meal passed over in great cheerfulness; the wine was good, and of
that quality which parsons loved in those days, but all partook
moderately; and as soon as the servants had withdrawn--for supper at
that period of the world's history was served with very nearly the same
forms as dinner in the present times--Soubise bowed his head to Edward
Langdale, saying, in not very good English, "There must be some mistake
between us, sir. I should like to have it set right, for your father was
one of my dearest friends. We travelled long together with this worthy
minister; and I wish much to remove any thing like coldness between
myself and his son."

"I really do not know, Monsieur de Soubise," replied Edward, in French,
"what mistake there can be. But may I ask if in June of last year you
did not write a letter to your brother the Duc de Rohan, in which you
styled me an insolent varlet? The duke sent me the letter, and my eyes,
I think, cannot have deceived me."

"No, no!" cried Soubise. "Stay; let me remember. I applied that term,"
he continued, more slowly, "to Sir Richard Langdale, your father's
eldest son, who, as I have been told and as I have still reason to
believe, had robbed you of your property,--of your mother's as well as
your father's inheritance. To the latter he might have some claim: even
that is doubtful. To the former he had none."

"Unfortunately, by the laws of this country he had," said Edward. "But
all this is past and over, and----"

"Stay, stay," said Soubise, interrupting him. "It is not all over yet:
it is the very cause of my coming here. I was a witness, sir, to the
marriage-contract--or settlement, as you call it here, I
believe--between your father and your mother, by which it was agreed
that all the property she possessed, not only at the time, but which
might descend to her from her uncle, should belong to her and descend to
her children. In his last letter, when he thought himself dying, good
old Clement Tournon informed me that this very property had been taken
from you by him whom I may well call your base-born brother. Having done
all that I had to do, and been disappointed in all,--having seen the
noble Buckingham die at my feet, and borne the loss of Rochelle,--my
first business was to come on here to see right done if it could be
done."

"There, Edward! there!" said Dr. Winthorne. "I told you he was noble and
true."

"I doubted it not, my dear friend," replied Edward. "But still the words
his Highness used were somewhat galling."

"They never were applied to you, upon my honor," said the prince. "As
far as I recollect now,--for it was a time of great hurry and
confusion,--I had heard that Richard Langdale, whose whole history I
knew as well as my daily service, was at the court of France soliciting
some place from his Majesty. My brother wrote to me, mentioning only
Monsieur de Langdale. Probably it was to you he referred. Probably he
was deceived as well as myself, although he did not know so much of the
circumstances as I did. My cousin left his child with his dying breath
to my charge, enjoining me strictly to have her educated in the
Protestant faith, and never to suffer her to fall into the hands----"

"What!" exclaimed Dr. Winthorne, interrupting him,--"dear little
Lucette? How is the sweet child? where is she? Oh that I could see her
again for an hour! for she was an angel. Do you remember, Edward, that
you once had a little sister, and that when you were ill of fever she
disappeared?"

"Was that Lucette?" exclaimed Edward. "Remember her, my dear sir? Oh,
yes! But how can that be? her death killed my mother, I think. Lucette
my sister!" And he gazed down upon the table with a bewildered mind and
a chilly, painful feeling at the heart, such as he never had experienced
in life before. "I cannot comprehend," he added. "Lucette my sister! My
sister not dead!"

"No, no," said Dr. Winthorne. "Tell him all, my lord the prince. Lucette
is not your sister: she merely passed as such. Your father and your
mother took her in very early years to hide her from her Roman Catholic
relations in France, out of love and friendship for this noble
gentleman. Those relations were powerful here as well as in the
neighboring country; and at length they discovered where she was, but
Monsieur de Soubise came over and removed her, first to the town of
Brixham, where she remained some years, and thence to France. I had some
share in all this, too. But you are mistaken, my son, about your
mother's death. She grieved to lose her little pet, and wept often and
bitterly at her loss; but the origin of her illness was a terrible fire
which consumed your father's house when you were very young. Then,
exposure and injuries received before she could escape sowed the seeds
of that sad malady which, in this land of ours, like Death's gardener,
culls the sweetest and most beautiful flowers to decorate the grave."

"Then she is not my sister?" exclaimed Edward. "She is not dead! Thank
God for that!"

It might be difficult for those who heard it to know which he thanked
God for most; and the exclamation produced a slight smile upon the
countenance of Dr. Winthorne.

"Methinks, prince," he said, "this young man must have met Lucette
since. You dog, you told me nothing of that."

But the Prince de Soubise was very grave. "Let us not talk of that part
of the subject to-night," he said. "I fear there are painful
conclusions before us. But, Mr. Langdale, my friendship for your father
and my deep gratitude to your saintly mother make me most anxious to see
you reinstated in her fine property. Let us consult what can be done. I
am here ready to swear I signed the deed as witness with my own hand."

"That will not be sufficient," said Dr. Winthorne, with somewhat of a
smile on his countenance. "In this land we shall require the deed
itself. But let us ride over to-morrow to Buckley and see our old friend
Sykes, the hunch-backed attorney; for I cannot help thinking that he
knows something more than he will tell me. For the last six months he
has been keeping up the place at his own expense; for I dare say you
have heard, Edward, that no one has known any thing of Sir Richard for
more than twelve months. He draws no rents, sends over no orders. His
lawyer here has written and sent to Turin, but no intelligence whatever
can be procured; and many people think that he is dead."

"It is very strange," said the Prince de Soubise. "But I have no belief
in the report of his death. Most likely he is wandering somewhere, and
does not wish the place of his abode to be known. He was always very
eccentric."

"Then you know him, my lord?" said Edward, who had not lately mingled in
the conversation; for some words which had fallen from Soubise had
saddened him.

"I have not seen him for many years," replied the prince; "but even then
he was as strange a boy as I ever saw. There was insanity in the family
of his mother, and some people thought that the child would grow up an
idiot. It was not so, however. Though he was very strange, this
strangeness never reached to madness. Fits of moody gloom would come
upon him, and he often would not speak a word for hours. If he did, it
would be with a bitter and supercilious tone, very extraordinary in a
mere child. Then, again, at times he would fly into the most violent
fits of passion, and then sink into melancholy. The way I learned all
this is easily explained. At your father's request I took some charge of
him after his mother's death in the convent; but his behavior became so
bad that I had to relinquish the trust."

"You applied to him, a short time since," said Edward, "a somewhat hard
and unpleasant expression. You said that you might almost call him
base-born. Is it too much to ask that you would give me some information
on that point?"

"I know not well how to explain," replied Soubise, looking down
thoughtfully.

"His mother was a very light Italian woman, of a low, bad race. Your
father married her, beyond doubt, before this child was born; but it was
only just before, and that with half a dozen stilettos at his throat;
for they caught him alone with her and forced the marriage. Almost as
soon as it was over, he separated from her and she went into a
convent,--her relations spreading absurd stories that they had caused
the separation because your father was a Protestant. This gained them
some favor at the court of Rome, and one of them obtained advancement in
the Church, where, after leading a very dissolute life, he was struck
with remorse and retired into the most austere seclusion. This is nearly
all I know of the matter; but it was this knowledge of the young man's
birth, character, and connections which made me use the term 'insolent
varlet' which gave you so much offence. I pledge you my honor, however,
it was not intended for you; and I should not have applied it, probably,
to him, had I not been in haste and irritated at the moment."

"Then I hope, my good lord," replied Edward, "that, as the expression
was not applied to me, I may look upon all the sentiments and
resolutions contained in that letter as unsaid also?"

"Do not press me to-night," said Soubise, very gravely. "I am afraid if
I speak now my reply will pain you. The house of Rohan is a proud house,
and I have much to think of. Give me a few days for reflection, and I
will meet you fairly. But in the mean time let us be friends. Your
father was the companion of my youth and my most intimate associate;
your mother, now a saint in heaven, was an angel upon earth; and I would
fain have their son's regard."

As he spoke, he held out his hand to the young man, who took it
respectfully; and shortly after the prince retired to rest.



CHAPTER XLVII.


Though those were days of splendid cavalcades, and the neighborhood of
the royal palace of Royston had rendered them not infrequent some years
before in that part of Huntingdonshire, it was not often that such a
party presented itself in the small village of Buckley as that which was
seen on the day after Edward's arrival. First, there was Dr. Winthorne,
on his tall, stout, Roman-nosed horse, forming the centre of the group;
then, on his left, Edward Langdale, riding a wicked, fiery devil, which
screamed and bit at the approach of any other animal, but which he
managed with grace and ease. Then there was the Prince de Soubise on the
doctor's right, mounted on a powerful Norman charger and looking very
much the soldier and the prince. Behind them were three servants, all
well mounted and armed; and the whole formed a group which attracted the
attention of the villagers and made even the blacksmith suspend the
blows of his sledge-hammer to look at the fine horses he longed to shoe.

There was a little, old, dusty house on the right-hand side of the road
as you came from Applethorpe toward the king's highway to Huntingdon,
with the gables turned toward the street, a wooden porch carved in
curious shapes, and some five or six descending steps. On one of the
pillars of the porch was hung a curious sort of shield painted with
various colors,--a quaint emblem of the holy Roman empire; and
underneath was written, with no great regard to symmetry either in the
size or shape of the letters, the words "Martin Sykes, Notary Public,
Attorney-at-Law, Solicitor in his most gracious Majesty's Court of
Chancery, &c. &c. &c.,"--which etceteras were explained and commented
upon by a long inscription on the other pillar.

Before that little porch Dr. Winthorne pulled in his rein and floundered
off his horse, and Soubise and Edward Langdale followed. In the first
room on the left hand they found three or four clerks; and at a
separate desk, which he could not have overtopped without assistance,
was seated a little old man with very keen features and a back and chest
which assumed a menacing posture in regard to the head.

"Ah, doctor," he said, slipping off the high stool which raised him up
to the desk, "what brings you so early to Buckley? Odds-my-life! Why, I
can hardly believe my eyes! Master Ned grown into a bearded man of war!
My dear boy, how are you? Oh, how I have missed you!--missed the trout
in the month of May,--missed the partridges in September,--missed the
snipes and the woodcocks in the cold weather, when I have my annual
abscess in the lungs,--missed thy handsome face at all those times when
a kind word in a youthful voice cheers an old man like me!"

Edward shook him warmly by the hand, and asked after all his ailments
kindly, but speedily turned to their companion, saying, "Mr. Sykes, this
is the Prince de Soubise, an old friend of both my parents."

"I remember him well," said Mr. Sykes. "That is to say, I do not
remember him at all. I mean, in person I do not remember him, for he
might as well be Goliath of Gath as Prince de Soubise, so far as any
identification on my part could go; but I remember quite well a young
gentleman of that name, in purfled silk philimot velvet laced with gold,
slashed velvet breeches, and a sword as long as a barbecuing-spit by his
side, being present at your father's wedding and witnessing the
marriage-contract."

"He has got me exactly," said Monsieur de Soubise. "I have had, Mr.
Notary, to take to lighter but more serviceable weapons since; but, if
my person is so much changed that you cannot remember me, there are
plenty of witnesses here to swear to whom I am; and I expect in a few
days my good friend Monsieur Clement Tournon, syndic of the goldsmiths
of Rochelle, who made and brought over a set of jewels for my friend's
bride, and who saw me witness the contract with his own eyes. He
remembers the whole deed, he says; for it was read over to us before the
signature."

"He will be an important witness, sir," said Martin Sykes; "and your
Highness will be more so. It is all coming right, as I thought it
would," he continued, turning to Dr. Winthorne and rubbing his thin,
bony hands. "Somewhat long we have been about it; but step by step we
are making way. Every thing takes time, doctor,--even a sermon, as the
poor people here know well. The great difference between a lawsuit and a
sermon is, that during the first the people sleep often and sleep badly,
and during the second they sleep once and they sleep well. Now, Master
Ned, I calculate that we shall get to the end of this suit and have a
decree in our favor--let me see: you are about twenty, are not you?--in
about forty-nine years and seven months." He paused a single instant,
and rubbed his hands, and then added, with a smile slightly triumphant,
"That is to say, if we cannot get the original settlement. But I think
we shall get it, Ned, my boy. I think I can guess where it is. It is
most likely badly damaged; but just give me sufficient of it left to
show some of the signatures and the date, and then come in these
gentlemen as witnesses to prove what it originally contained. Oh, we
will make a fine little case of it! But parties: we want
parties,--somebody to fight us,--Master Ned."

"But if the fight is to last so long as you have said, my dear friend,"
remarked Edward Langdale, "and I am only to succeed when I am sixty-nine
years and seven months old, I think I had better not begin the battle."

"Ay, but you forget the if," said Martin Sykes, with a laugh. "An _if_
makes every thing in law. It is as potent as 'any thing hereinbefore
contained to the contrary notwithstanding,' or 'always provided
nevertheless,' or any other of those sweet phrases with which we double
up the sense of our documents or give a sweet and polite contradiction
to what we have just been saying the moment before. As to the battle, my
dear young friend, it has begun already. Acting on your behalf, as your
next friend, I have managed to get possession of Buckley, have served
Sir Richard's lawyer and agent with all sorts of processes,--some
sixteen or seventeen, I think,--ejectments, quo warrantos, rules nisi,
and others; and the poor fool, who is nothing at all unless he has a
Londoner at his back, has let me have very nearly my own way, having no
orders, not knowing where to get any, and standing like a goose under
the first drops of a thunder-shower, with his eyes staring and his mouth
half open."

"But where is the contract?" asked Monsieur de Soubise, in French. "If I
understood him aright, he said he knew where it was."

Edward interpreted, feeling very sure that good Mr. Sykes was not very
abundantly provided with French; but the little lawyer shook his head,
saying, "No, no; I did not profess to know absolutely where it is; but
there is one not very far from here who I think does know. I think he
does,--I am sure he does. He tells me a box of valuable papers were lost
at the great fire; and he shakes his head, and looks wise, and talks of
its being 'made worth his while.' He is the most avaricious old devil in
the world. It is a curious thing, Ned, all sextons are avaricious. They
deal so much with dust and ashes that they learn to like the only sort
of dross which does not decay when you bury it. He is a very old man
now, and could not enjoy for more than a few months any thing he had,
were it millions."

"What! you are not speaking of the old sexton at Langley, are you?"
asked Edward,--"the man with the lame hip? He used to say he got that
injury at the fire; and my father gave him many a guinea for it. I used
to give him shillings and sixpences, too, to make him tell me all about
the fire, till one day I caught him taking away a groat I had given to a
poor child, and then I knocked him over the shoulder with my
fishing-rod. He has never liked me after, but hobbles away into his
cottage whenever he sees me, and shuts the door tight."

What there was in this little anecdote which peculiarly struck good Mr.
Sykes I cannot tell, but he fell into a fit of thought, still
standing,--for there were no chairs in the room, except one, which had
lost a leg, (in what action I do not know,) and the high stools on which
the clerks were sitting, if they could be called chairs. He kept a
finger of his right hand resting on the side of his nose, however, for
two or three minutes; and then, suddenly rousing himself, he said, "Let
us go into the house. We can sit down there and talk. This is a poor
place for such company. It does well enough for roystering farmers' sons
who have been breaking each others' heads, or for a deputy
tax-collector, or for gossiping women who have been slandering and being
slandered. I don't want them to sit down at all; and that is the reason
I have only one chair with a broken leg, to which I always hand old
Mistress Skillet, the doctor's widow, who abuses every young girl in the
place who has got a pretty face and wears a pink ribbon. Then down she
comes, and declares she has broken her hip-bone, and walks away in great
indignation, never coming back until she has another peck of lies upon
her stomach. I must not do it any more, for she has grown as large as an
elephant; and the last time she tumbled she had nearly shaken the office
down. Besides, it cost me two ounces of peppermint to bring all those
boys there out of their convulsions. But come, gentlemen, let us go."

Thus saying, he led the way through a little door at the back of the
office, across a small passage, into an exceedingly neat old fashioned
parlor, where, having seated his guests, he rushed at a corner cupboard
and brought forth some tall-stalked cut and gilded wineglasses, and a
square-sided bottle, likewise cut and gilded, from which he pressed his
visitors to help themselves. Monsieur de Soubise remarked it was too
early to drink wine; but the old man pressed them, saying, "It is not
wine at all. It is fine old Dutch cinnamon." And, each having taken a
little, good Mr. Sykes leaned his arms upon the table, remarking, "Now,
this looks really like the commencement of a conspiracy; and a
conspiracy we must have. I have settled it all. We must go over to the
old place,--that is, old Langley Court, prince. I will enact my own
character. The doctor here is too reverent to undergo transformation.
You, my noble sir, must be a French nobleman about to buy Langley Court,
and Buckley too,--in fact, half the estates in the neighborhood. Edward
here must be your cornet of horse. There will be no need to mention his
name; but the old wretch, who is as sharp as Satan, will most likely
know him. He is aware, however, that Master Ned has been over in the
wars in France: so the story will go down."

"It seems to me, my good friend Sykes," said Dr. Winthorne, "that you
are going to tell a vast quantity of lies. Mark you, now: I will have
nothing to do with them. I don't even know that I ought to stand by and
hear them."

"You shall not hear a lie come out of my mouth," said Sykes, laughing.
"My lord the prince, I dare say you are willing enough to buy Langley
Court and the estate, if I will sell it to you for a gold crown,--what
you call in France an _écu d'or_?"

"Oh, very willingly," answered Soubise: "this cinnamon is worth an _écu
d'or_." And he helped himself to some more.

"Well, then, I will sell you the whole estate for that sum,--if ever I
can prove my title to it," said Sykes. "It is a bargain. Now, Dr.
Winthorne, do not you by any scruples spoil your young friend's only
chance, if you would not have us take you for a cropped-eared Puritan
instead of a good old sound Church-of-England man."

"Well, then, don't you lie too much, Mr. Attorney. I will swallow as
much as I can; but keep within bounds, or you may chance to find me
break out."

"All you have to do is to hold your tongue. I will do all the speaking,"
replied Sykes. "The prince here may talk as much French as ever he
likes, and Master Ned may answer him in the same tongue. I will answer
for it that neither old Grimes the sexton nor Martin Sykes the lawyer
will be a bit the wiser for it."

"But when is this to be done?" asked Dr. Winthorne. "We have ridden ten
miles already to-day."

"Well," said Mr. Sykes, "if we go over by the Barford road, that is but
ten miles; and then we can go to Applethorpe, where you intend to give
me a bed: that is but nine miles more. You would not mind going thirty
miles any day for a fox-hunt."

"I never go fox-hunting," grumbled Dr. Winthorne.

"No, but you used once," said Mr. Sykes. And, bearing down all
opposition, being strongly supported, it must be owned, by Edward and
the Prince de Soubise, Mr. Sykes carried his point, ordered his own
easy-going cob to be brought round, and had a bag fixed to the saddle
with such little articles of dress as he wanted.

When the four gentlemen issued forth into the street to proceed upon
their way, a certain rosyness of Pierrot's nose, which, together with
some dewy drops in his eye, gave his face somewhat the aspect of a
morning landscape, induced Edward to believe that he had been engaged in
the pious employment of breaking a good resolution. But Pierrot declared
manfully that he had only been following his young master's orders with
his French companion. "You told me to treat them hospitably, sir," he
said; "and how can I treat them hospitably without drinking with them?"
Edward gave him a caution to keep himself sober at all events, and on
they went some nine miles upon their way at a brisk pace.

"Now," said Sykes, as they approached the old park-wall, which had
fallen down in several places, "we won't go nearer the old rascal. We
must be perfectly indifferent."

"I recollect this park well," said the Prince de Soubise. "What a
splendid place it was before the fire!"

"Hush! hush!" cried Sykes. "That is English." And, riding on, he pulled
up his horse at a spot where some cottages were built between the road
and the river, just fronting the old iron gates of what was called the
grass court, beyond which, some two hundred yards off, appeared the
blackened ruins of Langley.

The walls were all down,--at least, those of the main building; for not
only had the fire overthrown them, but the pick and shovel had been busy
for several weeks after the catastrophe, turning over the principal
ruins in search of plate and other articles of value which had not been
carried out during the fire.

There the gentlemen dismounted. The servants tied the horses to the iron
gates, and the whole party entered the grass court and looked around. At
that moment an old wizened face appeared at one of the small lozenges of
a cottage-window, and the next a chink of the door was opened and the
same face gazed out. In the mean time Mr. Sykes, with his riding-whip in
his hand, was pointing out to Soubise all the wonders of the place,
telling him where the great hall used to stand, where the guest-chambers
were, and where were the private apartments of the Lady of Langley.
Never before in his life was he so eloquent. While he went on, an old
man of perhaps eighty hobbled across the road and came close up to the
side of Dr. Winthorne. Just at that moment Mr. Sykes pointed with his
whip to a tower a little detached from the main building, and apparently
of more ancient architecture, saying, "That was the wine and ale cellar;
and I have heard people say that during the fire the casks burst with an
explosion like so many cannon."

"That is not true," said the old man, who had just come up; "for there
had not been a thing or a body in that tower for thirty years before.
Why, the stairs were half worn away; and Sir Richard would have pulled
it down if it had not been for my lady, who liked the look of it."

"Ah, is that you, old Grimes?" said Mr. Sykes. "Why, you look younger
than ever."

"I shall live to bury you yet," said the old sexton. "Don't make me wait
long, for I am tired enough of life, I am sure. Who is that you have got
with you, Sykes?"

"This is a French nobleman, the Prince de Soubise," replied the
attorney. "As he cannot live in his own country, on account of the
troubles, he has come over to England. We have been talking about his
buying this place. Indeed, it is almost a bargain. He will have all
these ruins cleared away," he continued, in a confidential tone, and
somewhat dropping his voice, to prevent Dr. Winthorne from hearing too
much.

The old sexton's face had turned a little pale; but the next instant he
said, a little gruffly, "You can't sell him the place, Sykes."

"No; but Sir Richard can," replied the lawyer.

The old man grunted forth something which nobody heard distinctly, but
which had some reference to "Sir Richard," and to "not paying a
pension," and "giving no orders."

Sykes kept his eye fixed upon him steadily, and thought he saw an
uneasy look come upon the old man's face, which was turned at that
moment toward the ruined tower; and, looking round, the attorney saw
that the servants, having left the horses at the gate, were sporting
about the court-yard, and that Pierrot had mounted upon a pile of stones
which had fallen from the tall wall above.

"What were you saying, Grimes?" asked Mr. Sykes. "That Sir Richard had
not paid your pension? That is strange. The agent has plenty of money in
his hands, for he has got all the rents of Langley, and Sir Richard has
not drawn a farthing."

"Ay, but he says he has no orders," said Grimes, with a hasty and uneasy
manner. "But what I am saying now is, that man will break his neck if he
goes up there: I tell you he will. I put my hip out once doing just the
same thing."

"Ha!" exclaimed Sykes: "I thought that was at the fire, Grimes. But what
you say is very true. He will break his neck. Call him down, sir,--call
him down: he is your servant."

The last words were addressed to Edward, who instantly called to Pierrot
to come down,--which the good man unwillingly did; for he had imbibed
just a sufficient quantity of liquor to make him full of sport without
shaking his nerves.

Now, it is to be hoped that the reader read and pondered well the
description given of that old tower in the seventh chapter of this
eventful history; but, as there are some readers, and a great number of
them, who will skip certain passages which they in their
superciliousness think of little importance, I may as well recall the
words of Edward Langdale while he was narrating the scenes of his early
life to Clement Tournon and Lucette. "The whole of the house was
burned," he said, on that occasion; "and the greater part of the walls
fell in, with the exception of those of the ivy-tower, which were very
ancient, and much thicker than the rest. Even there the wood-work was
all consumed, and the staircase fell, except where a few of the stone
steps, about half-way up, clung to the masonry."

Since Edward had seen the place or marked it with any particular
attention, some changes had come over that tower, though they were not
very apparent. We shall be compelled to notice them more in a moment or
two. Suffice it for the present to say that those stone steps which
Edward had mentioned were still sticking out about half-way up the
tower, and that, somehow or another, Pierrot had contrived nearly to
reach them.

However, Mr. Sykes took no notice of the careful forethought of an old
sexton for a foreign servant's life, though he thought his benevolence
strange, but went on round the old building, the piles of rubbish, and
the blackberry-bushes which encumbered them, speaking a word or two
every now and then to Dr. Winthorne, and keeping Mr. Grimes in pretty
constant conversation. There is a game which young people play at,
called, I think, "Hide-and-Seek;" and Mr. Sykes was determined to have a
game with the old sexton. The seeker, when he approaches the object of
his search, is told that he is hot; when he goes far from it, that he is
cold. Now, in the neighborhood of most parts of the old building
Grimes's face said, as plainly as possible, "Cold; cold as ice;" but
when Mr. Sykes brought him near to the old ivy-tower again there was a
tremulous motion of the hanging under lip, an anxious twinkle of the
eye, and a fidgety motion of the hands, which said, as plainly as
possible, "Warm; warm; very hot." This was the more apparent when the
party came in face of that part of the tower where about a third of the
wall, rent from top to bottom by the great heat, had fallen and strewn
the ground with ruins. Mr. Sykes did not look up at the tower at all.
His eyes were fixed upon the face of Mr. Grimes, and he was reading it
as a book. Dr. Winthorne was reading it too. Edward Langdale and the
Prince de Soubise were talking together in French; but their eyes were
about them all the time.

Suddenly Edward exclaimed, in English, "Why, Pierrot could have gone up
very easily. There is a stone taken out of the wall every two or three
feet, and between them somebody has made steps by jamming in large
blocks of wood with smaller stones. Besides, the tough old stems of ivy
would take any one up who has hands to hold by. Pierrot! Pierrot!"

"No, no!" cried Dr. Winthorne: "send for a ladder from the church. My
man shall go."

"Doctor, doctor," said Mr. Grimes, with a face as pale as death, "I want
to speak to your Reverence."

"Well, speak out!" cried the bluff parson; but the old man drew him a
little aside, and said, "If they will give me a hundred pounds sterling
I will tell them something."

"Not a penny, you old sinner," said Dr. Winthorne. "Go down for the
ladder to the church, William: get some men and bring it up, and be
quick."

"Oh, doctor, I am an old man, and have suffered very much for the last
fifteen years----"

"What is that he is saying? what is that he is saying?" said Sykes. "I
have a notion you are very like the boy who went up the apple-tree to
steal his neighbor's fruit: the branch broke, and he cracked his leg,
and ever after he used to say that it had pleased God to afflict him."

At that moment a loud shout was heard from the tower above; and Pierrot,
who had run up like a squirrel, put out his head, shouting, "A pie's
nest! a pie's nest! Here are all manner of things!"

"Well, stay there and guard them," cried Dr. Winthorne.

"They are all mine!" cried the old man Grimes, wringing his hands, and
speaking with the air and tone of a disappointed demon. "Well, I will
not speak a word. I have done nothing. What business have you to take my
things? I shall go home. If there is law in England, I will have it."
And he was turning away toward the gates, when Mr. Sykes took him by the
arm, saying, "John Grimes, I apprehend you for robbery on the night of
the fire at Langley. Master Ned, tell that servant not to let him
depart. I will be responsible: I know my man, and have had my eye upon
him for many years. The old fool could not keep his tongue from
babbling, and boasted what he could do if he liked."

A few minutes passed in almost perfect silence, till the church-ladder
was brought and reared against the tower, and then all the younger men
ran up. Dr. Winthorne and Mr. Sykes kept guard over the prisoner, having
no great confidence in their own agility, not being much accustomed to
mount ladders; and, for a moment or two, Mr. Grimes, now evidently
panic-struck, continued to whisper eagerly to Dr. Winthorne, while Mr.
Sykes's eyes were turned with impatience toward the tower.

"I can promise you nothing," answered the clergyman, bluffly. "It is no
great matter to them what you confess or what you don't; but perhaps, if
you do tell the whole truth, Ned Langdale, in consideration of your
great age, may spare you. It is a horrible thing to see a man hanged at
eighty."

At that moment the servants began to come down, bringing between them a
chest of no very great size but bound with brass and somewhat
ornamented, though its color and appearance showed it to have been a
good deal scorched with fire. Though its weight did not seem great, the
men carried it with much care, the occasion of which became evident when
they reached the ground; for the top had been rudely forced open, and
they were afraid of its falling back and the contents tumbling out.

A number of other objects were subsequently brought down,--a chalice,
evidently the property of some church, a silver waiter, a clergyman's
cassock, a number of silver spoons bearing the arms of the family of
Langdale, and a whole mass of miscellaneous articles, some valuable,
some perfectly worthless. But Mr. Sykes put his foot firmly upon the
chest after it was laid upon the ground, saying, "Take notice, doctor,
that I do not open this till there are plenty of witnesses." The moment,
however, that the Prince de Soubise and Edward had descended, he called
upon them to remark what the chest contained, and proceeded to the
examination.

It is not my intention to give a descriptive catalogue of old papers;
but, after turning over many documents of no great importance, a
parchment was found and opened, and the Prince de Soubise instantly put
his finger on the lowest part of the fifth sheet, saying, "There stands
my name."

"Well," said Dr. Winthorne, "I can easily conceive this old man stealing
the sacrament-cup and the silver spoons. I remember the robbery of the
church quite well. Those he could melt down, and he was a great fool
for not doing it. But why he should take Brother Wynstone's gown, which
he could never dare to wear, and why he should steal this box of papers,
which he could make no use of, I cannot imagine."

It is impossible for any writer of history to discover and describe the
real motives of one-half the actions he relates; and what it was that
moved old Grimes the sexton at that moment I cannot at all pretend to
say, but he certainly mumbled, in low and tremulous accents, and with
some tears, "I thought it was my lady's jewel-case."

The scene which then took place is not worthy of description. Let the
reader imagine the congratulations that were poured upon Edward
Langdale, how all his friends shook hands with him heartily, how
Pierrot, who from his knowledge of English understood the whole, almost
danced with joy, and how the servant of the Prince de Soubise, seeing
all the rest do it, shook hands with him too, and wished monsieur a good
morning, being the two principal words he possessed. A cart was
procured, and also a constable; under whose charge, escorted by Dr.
Winthorne's servant, Mr. Grimes and the contents of his magpie's
nest--with the exception of the all-important settlement, which Mr.
Sykes would not part with--were carried over to Applethorpe that night.

Dr. Winthorne and his party had preceded them by nearly an hour, and
very important business occupied the remainder of the day till it was
time to retire to rest. On that business we need not dwell at present;
but in order not to be obliged to turn back to a character which,
however important, has appeared but briefly, let me say that that very
night Mr. Grimes, in the first terror of detection, made a full and
frank confession of all he had done. He had been one of the first to
enter the house on the night of the fire, and had met Lady Langdale
carrying the case which contained her marriage-settlement. He had
instantly asked her after her boy; and, dropping the case, she had flown
to Edward's room to see if he had been rescued by his father. The
sexton, concluding that the case contained her jewels, had seized upon
it and carried it off. At first he had concealed it under some of the
bushes, but had afterward carried it up into what was called the
ivy-tower, which, having been vacant and in ruins for some years, he
imagined would never be searched. When asked why he had not carried it
to his own cottage, he replied, "Because that was certain to be examined
as soon as they discovered that any thing was lost." He was never
prosecuted for the thefts he had committed; but he died some seven weeks
after,--perhaps as much from shame and disappointment as disease; and
thus he never had the pleasure of burying Mr. Martin Sykes.



CHAPTER XLVIII.


"I can promise you nothing, my young friend," said the Prince de
Soubise, about a fortnight after the period at which I concluded the
last chapter, "till I have consulted with my brother Rohan and some
other members of my family. You English people view these matters
differently from ourselves in France: a marriage is not only the uniting
two persons who are attached to each other, but it is the linking of two
families together. Of course, this nominal and merely formal marriage
between you and my young cousin is altogether null and void,--of no
effect or consequence."

"I do not know, my lord the prince," replied Edward, in a tone of a good
deal of irritation. "I have been assured it is a perfectly valid
marriage; and, I must respectfully add, I shall attempt to prove it so."

"Pshaw!" said Soubise, in a light tone: "we had better not take up
hostile positions toward each other." And, turning on his heel, he left
the room.

The scene of this conversation was the rector's library at Applethorpe,
for Dr. Winthorne had a headache and had retired to rest; and, as soon
as the prince was gone, Edward took forth some letters he had received
that morning, and, approaching the table where the candles stood, he
read them again with an eager look. No French post, to his knowledge,
had come in; but the letters were evidently from France, and one,
addressed to Clement Tournon, was sent open to him; whilst
another,--very short, but in Lucette's own hand,--tied and sealed, came
to him direct.

Both were of a date which surprised and alarmed the young
Englishman,--that from Clement Tournon dated only two days after he had
left Rochelle, that from Lucette fully seven weeks previous. The letter
of the good goldsmith which enclosed the other was somewhat long. It
told Edward a great deal about Rochelle, and contained much matter that
need not be recapitulated; but the point of greatest interest was his
mention of Lucette. "Probably," he said, "she has told you in the
enclosed all she has told to me, and therefore I need not repeat it. She
calls upon us both for aid, and, as far as a feeble old man can give it,
she shall not want it. But alas, my dear Edward, it is very wrongly that
men attribute power to wealth. I have proved it, and know that there are
times when heaps of gold will not buy a loaf of bread. However, if my
last livre will help that dear girl, she shall have it. In the mean
time, do you, young, active, enterprising as you are, follow her
directions to the letter. You can do more than I can. I set out this
night; but, considering that you may want money for so long and
expensive a journey, I have left such directions that all your drafts
upon me will be paid to any reasonable amount. In a month I will be in
Huntingdon, where I am assured by one I can depend upon that my presence
is required for your benefit."

Lucette's letter was but a note.

    "Fly to me, my beloved husband." So it said. "If you love your poor
    Lucette as she loves you, come to me without the delay of an hour.
    There are people here who want to take me away and carry me to
    France. They have no authority from Monsieur de Rohan,--otherwise,
    as hard as he is, I should feel myself secure,--but they have great
    power with the rulers of this republic, it seems. Madame de la Cour
    is an excellent woman, but weak and timid. She says that she dares
    not resist them, that she is but a poor exile herself, and that when
    they are ready to go she must yield me up to them. I would rather
    die were it not that, when I think of you, hope still comes in to
    give me a ray of light which all these sorrows and troubles cannot
    darken. Oh, come soon to your       LUCETTE."

Edward looked at the date again. There was no time to be lost, if he
were not already too late; and at once he determined on his course. The
two years during which he had promised not to seek Lucette were nearly
at an end. The words of Monsieur de Soubise had given him no
encouragement to wait for the consent of her family: the only course was
to make her his own irrevocably, then let them scoff at the marriage
between them if they would. He would go to Richelieu, he thought; he
would lay before him the letters he had received; he would beseech the
cardinal to free him for the few short weeks that remained from the
promise he had made, and to speed him to Venice with the power which
only he possessed. Once side by side with his dear little bride, he
thought, it would not be in the power of worlds to tear them apart.

The determined and impetuous spirit roused itself; recent success had
refreshed hope; he had found more money waiting for him than he
expected, so that none of the small material obstacles which so
frequently trip up eagerness were present; and he determined to set out
that very night.

Not more than half an hour was occupied in his preparations, and then he
went to Dr. Winthorne's room and knocked at the door. After the second
knock a somewhat testy voice told him to come in, and there he remained
for a full hour in earnest conversation. Whatever took place, nothing
Dr. Winthorne said induced him to alter his resolution; but about
midnight he and Pierrot mounted in the court-yard and set out for
London.

Let us pass over all the little impediments of the road,--the
horse-shoes and the blacksmiths, and the trouble about a pass from Dover
to Calais, which, as the relations between France and England had become
much more amicable, presented no great difficulties after all,--and let
us carry Edward at once to the gates of Paris, where the gay and
glittering crowd was as dense and perhaps more brilliant in those days
than it is in ours. The young man's brain felt almost confused at the
numbers before his eyes and the whirling rapidity of every thing around
him. As he knew nothing of the town, he had to ask his way to an inn
which had been recommended to him, and met with all the urbanity and
real good-humor which have always distinguished the Parisian population.

The master of the _auberge_--for there were no hotels in Paris till the
nobility who had hotels, broken in fortune and deprived of power, were
forced to sell their dwellings to the affable receivers of all
men--welcomed him, as he himself would have called it, with all
distinction; and his reverence was greatly increased when the young
stranger called for pen and ink and paper and indited a note to the
cardinal prime minister, telling him of his arrival in Paris, and
craving an audience as soon as possible on business of the utmost
importance. He had the good faith to tell him that the business was of
importance to himself; but that frankness was not thrown away upon the
cardinal.

He sealed the letter with the great seal of his arms, and begged the
aubergist to send it immediately by a messenger who would if possible
obtain an answer.

The good man remarked that it was the hour of the cardinal's dinner, and
that men said that his Eminence was to set off on the following day upon
a long journey.

"The more reason he should have that letter as soon as possible," said
Edward. "Pray, let it go without delay; and if the man brings me back an
answer I will give him a gold crown."

What took place at the cardinal's palace--a smaller building than the
magnificent edifice he afterward erected, long known first as the Palais
Cardinal and afterward as the Palais Royal--I do not know; but at the
end of an hour and a half the man returned, and, with a happy grin,
demanded his gold crown, handing Edward a sealed paper. The contents
were as follows:--

    "I am commanded by his Eminence to inform Monsieur de Langdale that,
    though he cannot give him a formal audience, he will see him
    to-night at the theatre of the Hôtel de Bourgogne, when he will hear
    whatever he has to communicate. This letter presented at the door
    will be his introduction.

    "ROSSIGNOL."

Edward Langdale took care to obtain every information he could from the
landlord in regard to the Parisian theatre, which was at that time just
beginning to rise into some degree of importance. Some years before, the
theatres of Paris were merely the resort of bad women and dissolute men
and the scene of very bad actors; but Richelieu, with that fine taste
which was one of his remarkable characteristics, had not only seen that
the stage might easily be refined, but had absolutely refined it.
Excellent actors were engaged at both the great theatres of Paris;
authors, not alone of merit, but of real genius, pressed forward in a
new career of literature; and the highest and purest ladies of the
French court graced the theatre, perhaps as much to please and flatter
the great minister as for any entertainment they received.

At the hour which had been indicated by the landlord Edward was at the
door of the Hôtel de Bourgogne; and as he saw that everybody was paying
for entrance he did the same, and then exhibited the letter of the
secretary Rossignol. The moment it was seen by the people at the door
the effect was magical. Two men started forward, bowing to the ground,
reproached the young stranger in somewhat stilted terms for not showing
the note before he had paid for admission, and begged to lead him to the
cardinal, who they informed him had just entered. The arrangement of a
theatre in those days was very different from that of modern times; but
yet Richelieu had his little room, or box, as we should call it now, at
the Hôtel de Bourgogne, close to the stage, but not upon it. Into this
room no one was admitted but those specially invited, and at the door
stood two of his guards, who, however, gave instant ingress to Edward as
soon as they saw the letter he carried in his hand. In the box were some
eight or nine people, with the cardinal himself on the left-hand side,
where he had a full view of the stage but could hardly be seen from the
body of the house. The play had not commenced, and he turned his head
at the sound of the door as Edward entered. The moment he saw him he
beckoned him up to his side, before Edward had seen the other persons in
the box, who, be it remarked, were all standing. Richelieu's first
question was what had brought his young friend--as he was pleased to
call him--to Paris before the stipulated time. Edward, in his usual
brief style, explained all the circumstances, and, without hesitation,
placed the two letters he had received in the minister's hands.
Richelieu read them and smiled, saying, "So you are both still very much
in love with each other? Well, I have done one good work at least in
life _pour l'amour de Dieu_. Now, what do you intend to do, Monsieur
Langdale?"

"To go post-haste to Venice, may it please your Eminence," replied
Edward; "and when I arrive there, as it will not want much more than six
weeks of the time I promised you not to seek her as my wife, I intend to
ask you to free me from that promise, let me claim her as my own, and
trust to my good luck and your power to sustain me."

The cardinal seemed half inclined to laugh. "Take her when you can get
her," he said, with something more than a smile. "But you cannot get to
Venice, my good boy, till the king opens the pass of Suza. Don't you
know that the very impracticable Duke of Savoy holds all the passes
closed and thinks he can resist the power of France?"

"By the Lord! I wish I had the power of France," said Edward: "I would
soon make him open them."

"Ha, ha!" said Richelieu, with a significant nod of the head. "Did I not
tell you that one day you would become ambitious? But the power of
France is just as well as it is; and I think the king can open the
passes as well as you could. He has gone there now, and I am going after
him to witness his victory. But hush! they are going to begin the play.
Mark it well, and tell me what you think of it."

Almost as he spoke the comedy commenced, and Edward withdrew from
Richelieu's side into the little crowd behind. It was a piece of no
great merit,--one of the failures of the great Corneille; and, to say
the truth, Edward's thoughts were deeply engaged with other things.

While he was trying to attend, however, his hand was gently pressed by
some one near, and, turning round, he beheld the diminutive figure of
Morini the Italian adventurer.

There was something in the man that Edward could not altogether dislike,
especially after the kindness he had shown him on two or three
occasions, and he shook hands with him warmly. The little man stood on
tiptoes, and said, in a whisper, "Good fortune to you. You and the
cardinal will always have good fortune unless you quarrel. Look just
opposite. Did you ever see so beautiful a creature?"

Edward cast his eyes across the theatre, which was not very well
lighted, and saw a group of ladies splendidly dressed and well deserving
commendation; but there was only one who struck him particularly, seated
somewhat behind, and with the profile alone displayed. There was
something, however, so exquisitely beautiful in the line of the face and
the whole turn of the head, that Edward moved a little on one side to
see her more distinctly. There, however, the head-dress of another lady
interposed, and he was disappointed.

At that moment the first act ended, and Richelieu beckoned him to his
side again. "What are you staring at there, young man? What would your
Lucette say? I am afraid you are faithless."

"Oh, no, my lord," replied Edward. "That lady is very beautiful, but
Lucette is more so,--to my mind at least."

"Do you think so?" said Richelieu. "I do not know which you were looking
at, but one of them is my niece, the Duchesse d'Aiguillon. What do you
think of the comedy?"

"Not much," replied Edward. "But I really am no judge, my lord."

"I think you are a good judge," said Richelieu, whose dislike to
Corneille is well known. "Now I will tell you what you had better do. Go
on with me to Suza. You can help to force the pass as a volunteer, if
you like, and then proceed to Venice should you feel disposed. You shall
have Morini for a companion, and I will give you one of the king's
foragers to see that you are not starved on the road."

No proposal could be more agreeable to Edward Langdale; but there was
one impediment, which he frankly told the cardinal. As always happens,
he had miscalculated his expenses, and found that the money he had
brought from England would hardly suffice till he arrived at Venice. "I
can get more to-morrow, your Eminence, I believe," he said, "for I have
full authority to draw on my good friend Clement Tournon, whose credit
is good in Paris; but that will take time; and your Eminence, I presume,
sets out early."

"Not very early," answered Richelieu; "but if you follow me the next day
you will catch me on the road. You can ride fast, I know, for you nearly
killed the poor Basques who were sent to ride after you when you left
Nantes. Morini will help you to get the money. Don't you know he is an
alchemist, and can change any thing into gold? But he will take you to
my banker,--who is the best alchemist, after all. So Clement Tournon
trusts you, does he? He is the first goldsmith of the kind, I fancy."

"I can well afford to pay him whatever he lends me now, my lord,"
replied Edward. "For on one lucky day, which the Romans would have
marked with a white stone, I recovered the deeds which secured to me my
mother's large property, which deeds had been lost for several years."

"What day was that?" asked Richelieu, in a somewhat eager tone.

Edward told him, for he remembered it well; and the cardinal immediately
called Morini to his side, and spoke to him for a moment or two in a low
tone.

"The very same day, your Eminence sees," replied Morini, with an air of
triumph. "Such small coincidences may be necessary to confirm your
belief: with me it is not so. The stars never lie, my lord cardinal."

"If they speak at all, I suppose they do not," said Richelieu.

"They have spoken very plainly in this case," replied the astrologer.
"But the actors are going to begin again." And he was about to retire.

"Never mind," said the cardinal; "stay here. I have orders to give you,
and I want them obeyed to the letter."

Edward knew that it was sometimes dangerous to overhear too much of the
minister's conversation. He had heard of a man's finding his way into
the Bastille merely because he had been very near his Eminence while he
was conversing with a friend; and he therefore prudently withdrew to the
farther part of the box. While the second act went on, Richelieu
continued to talk with Morini, in a low tone, it is true, but with an
indifference not at all complimentary to the actors or the piece. To the
last acts he was somewhat more attentive, but went away before the play
was concluded, merely saying to Edward as he passed, "Go with this good
signor, Monsieur Langdale, and follow his counsels. He has heard my
opinion upon several matters; and, until we meet again, you had better
be guided by him even in what may seem things of small consequence."

Edward Langdale bowed, and the minister passed out; but Morini
approached Edward's side, saying, "Let us go also, my young friend.
There is no use of staying to see this stupid play."

The young gentleman's eyes, however, were fixed upon the opposite side
of the theatre, where the cardinal's niece and the ladies in her company
were also preparing to take their departure. He had caught another
glance of that beautiful face, though it was but for a moment; and now
the figure as she was moving away showed lines as lovely as the profile.
Taller than most of her companions, and yet not very tall, every
movement seemed grace itself; and, just as she was passing the door, she
turned round and gave a quick glance at the cardinal's box, which
certainly did not diminish the admiration of the young Englishman.

"How very beautiful the Duchess of Aiguillon is!" said Edward, turning
to Morini.

"Oh, yes," replied the other. "She is perhaps the most beautiful woman
in France. But take care of what you are about; for some people say the
cardinal is in love with her himself, and he will bear no rival."

"Oh, love," said Edward, "is out of the question. I look at her, Signor
Morini, merely as I should look at a beautiful statue. I love one, as
you know, fully as beautiful, and to me a thousand times more dear than
she could ever become."

"Now you mention it," said Morini, "it strikes me there is some likeness
between them."

"There is," said Edward; "but Lucette is much younger, and not so tall.
Now I will follow you, my good sir." And they went out of the theatre
together.



CHAPTER XLIX.


Youth and Fate are always at variance as to times and distances. Youth
says, "one day;" Fate says, "two." Youth says, "fifty miles;" but Fate
almost always makes it a hundred. Edward had more difficulty in getting
a thousand crowns than he had expected; and he did not altogether think
that Signor Morini aided him as much as he might have done. Richelieu,
who had only made a very short stay in Paris, quitted the capital about
mid-day, and Edward, as may be supposed, was all impatience to hurry
after him; but Morini, on the contrary, was as cool and composed as if
he was making an astrological calculation, always remarking that he
would overtake the minister long before he got to Suza. "He never
travels very fast, you know," said the little Italian; "and, besides, he
has got a whole party of the ladies of the court with him, who always
make a march tedious. They went off at daylight this morning; but you
may count upon them to make the journey at least five days longer than
it ought to be."

"Nevertheless," said Edward, "I wish to proceed as fast as possible; and
the objections of these bankers seem to me to be ridiculous."

"Oh, no; they make no objections," said Morini. "They only want a little
time to consider. They are not all in love. They do not all want to get
to Venice. They do business in a business-like way, and have no idea of
firing off large sums like cannon-shot."

However, the whole of that day passed without the money being procured;
and the second day had seen the sun rise several hours, when at length
Signor Morini thought fit to whisper two words in the ear of Monsieur
Philippon, the banker, which, as if by magic, brought forth the thousand
crowns about which there had been so much difficulty.

Nevertheless, it was three o'clock in the evening before Edward Langdale
could depart; and then, besides Signor Morini himself and the king's
forager who had been promised, were half a dozen lackeys and pages, and
a good deal of baggage,--which did not promise to accelerate the
journey. Once started, however, and with sufficient money in his pocket,
Edward resolved to delay for no man, and to be at Suza as soon as the
cardinal. He was somewhat mistaken in his calculation, indeed; for
Richelieu pursued his way, wherever he could, by water; and, though the
prime minister could always command boats, the young English gentleman
could not obtain the same accommodation in a country where the passage
of troops and the court had rendered all means of progression scarce. In
every other respect, the first part of Edward's journey was without
accident,--I might almost have said without incident. But it so happened
that at Montargis, where the young gentleman arrived in the afternoon, a
large party of ladies were setting out on horseback just at the moment
he entered the little town. The number of servants with them, and a
small body of the cardinal's guard, showed that they belonged to the
court, which could not otherwise have been discovered by their faces, as
each, according to the general custom of that day, wore a little black
velvet mask, called a _loup_, to guard her complexion when travelling.
Signor Morini, however, either divined who each was by her figure, or
else, with Italian carelessness, took his chance of mistakes; for he
dashed at once amidst the party, talked first to one and then to
another, and seemed very well received by all. Edward had ridden up by
his side; but, as he knew nobody, he spoke to nobody till one of the
ladies observed, in a very sweet voice, "You do not seem so sociable as
your companion, sir."

"I could not presume," said Edward, "to address ladies whom I have never
seen before, unless they gave me some encouragement to do so."

"I do not know whether you have seen me," said the lady; "but I have
seen you."

"Pray, where?" asked Edward,--"that I may give that wild bird, Fancy,
some notion how to fly."

"I saw you last with the cardinal, at the Hôtel de Bourgogne," said the
lady, with that sort of timid, trembling accents which are so attractive
on young and beautiful lips,--small drops of honey to young ears and
hearts.

"Last?" said Edward. "Had I ever the pleasure of seeing you before that
night?"

"I did not mean to say that," answered the lady. "But you imply that you
did see me then."

"I saw two or three very beautiful persons," said Edward, "but have no
means of knowing which of those you are."

"No, nor shall you have any," she replied, bowing her head gracefully,
"neither to-day, nor to-morrow, nor the next day; but if you are very
good, and behave yourself very well, I may take off my _loup_ some time
between this and Michaelmas. But now tell me: where are you riding so
fast?--to get yourself killed at Suza?"

"No," answered Edward: "such is certainly not my object; but I am going
toward Venice, and wish to reach that city as soon as my horse can carry
me."

"Oh, that is a long way off," said the lady. "I think I must keep you
near me. You shall be my cavalier along the road. I will find out some
crime you have committed, and put you to all sorts of penances."

"But what if I have committed no crime?" asked the young gentleman.

"Oh, but you have," she said. "You should have known me the moment you
saw me. No mask should be sufficient to hide a lady from a gallant and
courteous cavalier. You ought to be able to see my face through my
_loup_, as if it were made of glass."

Edward smiled, but made no reply; but he thought within himself,
"Lucette would not have spoken so to a mere stranger. What a difference
there is between her pure, sweet simplicity and the free manners of
these courtly ladies!"

"You do not answer," continued the lady: "I am afraid we do not ride
fast enough for you. Now, what is it makes you so anxious to run forward
to Venice? Now, I warrant it is some of the beautiful black eyes of the
City of the Sea."

"No, indeed, it is not," replied Edward. "I never was in Venice in my
life."

"Well," she continued, "love of some kind, at all events. Nothing but
love could make a man in such a hurry. Now, tell me what kind of love it
is."

"Why, the most extraordinary love in the world," answered Edward. "The
love of a man for his wife,--a love they recognise little in France, not
at all in Italy, and so dilute in Turkey that it is not worth having."

"Very marvellous love indeed," replied the lady. "Yet I think if I were
a man, and were married, I should love my wife better than you do."

"I defy you," said Edward, laughing.

"Now, I will catechize you," returned the lady. "Do you think of her
every day?"

"Every hour, every moment," said Edward.

"Do you make her your chief object in life?--pray for her, work for
her?"

"Every thing else in life," said Edward, "is but valuable to me as it
has reference to her. Ambition becomes splendid when I think it may
elevate her. Money, which is but dross, seems to gain real worth if she
is to share it."

"And do you ever," continued the lady, laughing, "stare at pretty faces
across a theatre and dream for a minute or two as to what might be your
luck if you had not tied yourself to another?"

"No!" replied Edward, boldly. "I sometimes may stare at pretty faces,
and think them very beautiful, when I think there is a fanciful
resemblance to that which I think most beautiful of all."

The lady was silent for a minute or two; but at length she answered,
"Well, I think you are very rude. You must be an Englishman, you are so
uncivil. You dare me so that I have a great mind to make you in love
with me, just to punish you. Nay, do not shake your head: I could do it
in five minutes. All men are as weak as water,--at least, so I have
always been told; and I could soon bring you to my feet if I chose to
employ a few little simple arts upon you."

"I doubt not your power, dear lady," replied Edward, "upon any heart not
preoccupied like mine; but Helen of Troy, or her bright mistress, Venus
herself, could have no effect upon one who loves as I do."

"Well, this is too bad," said the lady. "We shall see. We have a long
journey to take together; and if before it is over I do not make you
tell me you love me, my name is not--what it is."

Just at this moment one of the young cavaliers rode up, with the gay and
dashing air of his country and his class, and addressed the lady in some
commonplace terms of gallant attention. In an instant she seemed turned
into ice,--answered a few words politely, but in so cold a tone that
Edward could not but see at once the dangerous preference she seemed to
show him. The young man appeared to feel it too; and, after staying by
her side for about five minutes, he directed his horse to another group,
where his society seemed more welcome. The conversation was renewed
between Edward and his fair companion as soon as the officer was gone,
and did not much vary in character from the specimen already given. It
was late, however, when the party arrived at Chatillon, and the ladies
retired at once to the apartments which had been prepared for them; but
at eight o'clock on the following morning none of them had quitted their
chambers, nor did Edward see any preparation among guards or attendants
for pursuing the journey before a late hour. Calling Pierrot without
much deliberation, the young Englishman ordered his horses to be
saddled, and was in the act of mounting, when Morini, whom he had not
yet seen that day, appeared at the door, exclaiming, "Hi? Where are you
going?"

"To Suza," replied Edward, springing on his horse's back; and, without
waiting to hear any remonstrances from the little Italian, he rode off
as fast as he could go.

We will not pursue him on his journey, nor even dwell upon the forcing
of the pass at Suza. Suffice it to say that Edward arrived, just in time
to volunteer, the night before the attack. Richelieu he did not see,
although he heard he was in the camp. But one of the first persons he
met with was the young officer who had gone down with him to the
outposts before Rochelle, and who now gayly marched up with him against
the entrenchments at Suza. It is well known how they were taken at the
first rush, with no great resistance on the part of the troops of Savoy.
But Edward and his companion both received slight pike-wounds,--one in
the arm and the other in the shoulder,--sufficient to show they had been
in the heat of the battle, but not severe enough to obtain much
commiseration. The king, as was usual with him, retired to his quarters
as soon as the pass was carried, without inquiring the amount of his
loss or taking any notice of the wounded. Not so Richelieu; for as soon
as the particulars could be ascertained he caused a list of all who had
suffered much, or little, to be laid before him.

On the following morning, somewhat to his surprise, Edward received a
summons to attend the cardinal, and, when he presented himself, met with
a somewhat sharp rebuke for having left Morini and his party.

"They tell me you are wounded," said Richelieu. "It serves you very
right, for having disobeyed my commands."

"It is but a scratch, sir," said Edward. "A rusty nail in an old door
would inflict a worse; and I was anxious to show that in all cases,
except against my own country, I am really desirous of serving your
Eminence."

"That is all very well," replied the cardinal. "But I like to be obeyed.
You could not tell my views or purposes in the directions which I gave.
But, as it is done, it cannot be helped. And now, I suppose, you are
longing to go on to Venice?"

"Most anxiously," replied Edward, "if I understand your Eminence
rightly, that you free me from the promise I made to you some two years
ago, and authorize me to claim my bride wherever I may find her."

"That is soon settled," said Richelieu; and, taking up a pen, he
wrote:--"Lucette Marie de Mirepoix du Valais is the wife of Edward
Langdale, of Buckley; and these are to summon and require all persons
who have or have had any control or custody of the said Lucette to give
her up to the said Edward Langdale, her husband, and, in the king's
name, to warn all persons to refrain from opposing the rights of the
said Edward Langdale in regard to the said Lucette de Mirepoix, under
pretence of relationship, guardianship, or any other cause whatever."

He signed it with his name, and gave it to Edward, saying, "Get it
sealed, and then away to Venice as soon as you please. Peace will be
signed in three days, if I am not mistaken; and not only peace with
Savoy, young gentleman, but with England also,--hard-headed England! In
the mean time, you can pass freely. My safe-conduct--which of course you
have with you--is as good now, I imagine, in Italy as in France. Only
one thing more. Let it be understood that you return and join me as soon
as you have fulfilled your mission; and bring your bride with you, if
you find her." He paused, with a smile of much good-humor, and then
added, "When you come back I may have a little negotiation for you; for
the first steps to the surrender of Rochelle I owe to you."

The political events which followed are well known. The peace of Suza
with Savoy and England, the raising of the siege of Casal, and the
relinquishment of Mantua to the house of Nevers, succeeded with the
utmost rapidity; and the Cardinal de Richelieu saw every thing that his
mind conceived or his hand touched perfectly successful.

In the mean time, Edward Langdale hastened over the Alps, crossed the
whole breadth of Italy, and, taking boat at Mestré, landed in Venice.
But he was not so successful as the great man he had just left.
Richelieu's safe-conduct obtained for him instant access to all the
authorities of the republic; and, with more frankness than they usually
displayed, they informed him at once that the young lady he sought was
no longer in the city. She had been claimed, they said, some months
before, by authority which their laws prevented them from opposing, and
had been carried, they believed, into Savoy. Edward then asked for
Madame de la Cour; but he found that she also had left Venice, and had
gone, they believed, to Paris. The only person, they said, who knew any
thing of Mademoiselle de Mirepoix was an old merchant who had arrived
some days before and was living at a goldsmith's on the Sclavonian quay.
Edward hurried there, and, as he expected, found old Clement Tournon.
But the worthy syndic could give him no information, and was in almost
as much distress about his Lucette as Edward himself.

"Depend upon it," he said, "that horrid Madame de Chevreuse has got
possession of the dear girl at last; and our only resource will be an
appeal to the cardinal. He has eyes everywhere, and will both know where
to find her and how to recover her."

No time was lost. The old man and Edward set off together, directing
their course by Turin and Suza. But again they were disappointed. The
king, who in time of war forgot all his slothful inactivity and showed
the fire and eagerness of his father, had by this time turned upon the
Cevennes,--the last refuge of the Protestants in France,--and Richelieu
had followed--or, rather, accompanied--him. With the delay of one day at
Chambéry, to rest the old man, Edward pushed on after the cardinal
toward Nismes, hearing nothing as he went but tales of Louis's exploits.
The army of the Duc de Rohan, which had opposed successfully several of
the best generals of France, had seemed paralyzed by the fierce energy
of the king. Town after town had fallen; and Montauban itself, the
people said, could not hold out three days. Such was the last
intelligence which Edward received just after his entrance into Ners;
but at the same time came the news, far more satisfactory to him, that
Richelieu himself was at Alais, but a few miles distant. No horses were
to be procured: his own were tired nearly to foundering; and poor
Clement Tournon, in his eagerness to keep up with his young companion,
had greatly over-tasked his strength. Nothing remained but to pass the
night at Ners, a mere village, where almost every house was occupied by
some of the followers of the court. But though the accommodation was as
poor as it could be, yet Edward saw the next morning that Clement
Tournon must still remain at Ners. His bodily powers were not equal to
carry him farther without long repose; and Edward set out for Alais
alone, leaving Pierrot to attend upon the old man.

The little town, when the young gentleman entered it, was all alive.
Courtiers and soldiers were fluttering about in every direction; and the
gay dresses, unspotted and fresh, showing that the court had been some
days there, contrasted sadly with Edward's dusty garments and
travel-soiled apparel. Nevertheless, he rode straight forward, through
what is now called the Place de la Maréchale, to a house where the
numerous groups, both on foot and horseback, before the door, led him to
believe the cardinal's quarters were established. There he sprang to the
ground under the arcade, and, leaving his tired horse, with the perfect
certainty that he would not run away, he was pushing his way through the
little crowd around, noticed very little by anybody, when the voice of
his young companion in the attack at Suza met his ear, exclaiming, "Ah,
Monsieur de Langdale! Have you heard Montauban has been taken? But do
not let me stop you; for his Eminence was asking for you yesterday."

"As you are of his household," said Edward, "will you have the kindness
to tell his Eminence that I am here?--for I know none of these people.
They do not know me; and I suspect I am not a very courtier-like figure
to seek an audience of the prime minister."

"I will do it directly," said the young officer. "He is very busy, but I
know he wishes to see you: so follow me up."

Edward mounted the stairs close after his companion, and, entering a
chamber to which there was no ante-room, as he had expected, found
himself immediately in the presence of Richelieu, who was seated at a
table near the window, while two secretaries were writing at his right
hand. The room was half full of people, some of whom were waiting
silently, as if for audience, while others were conversing in low
voices; and one middle-aged man was speaking to the cardinal, with a
paper in his hand, as if making a report. Richelieu raised his eyes as
Edward entered, but took no notice, and continued to listen attentively
to the gentleman who was speaking. As soon as he was done, the cardinal
said, "Well, be it so. See that it is done;" and wrote a few words on a
sheet of paper. Another and another succeeded, spoke a few words to the
minister, and received their answer; and then Richelieu, rising, said,
aloud, "No more audiences this morning." The young Englishman was about
to retire with the rest, who were slowly going out; but the cardinal
added the next moment, "Monsieur Langdale, I wish to speak to you."

Thus saying, he passed into a room beyond, and Edward followed, leaving
none but the secretaries in that which they had just quitted. It was a
bed-chamber they now entered, (for, when campaigning, prime ministers,
as well as others, must put up with such accommodation as they can get,)
and Richelieu neither seated himself nor asked his companion to be
seated.

"You have come at an important moment," said the cardinal, abruptly,
"and I almost feared you would not be here in time. Are you willing to
undertake a mission for me to Monsieur le Duc de Rohan, some forty miles
hence?"

"Certainly, your Eminence," replied Edward. "But I must make three
conditions, though to you. They are very slight ones."

"Ha!" said Richelieu, his brow somewhat darkening. "I am not accustomed
to conditions. But let me hear what they are. You are an original, like
most of your countrymen. Perhaps I shall be able to grant them."

"Simply these three, my lord cardinal:--That while I am gone you shall
cause search to be made for my young wife, who is not in Venice, has
been brought to France, and is beyond doubt, I think, in the hands of
Madame de Chevreuse."

"Granted," said Richelieu. "The next."

"That you shall send over a physician to good old Clement Tournon, whom
I have left ill at Ners."

"Ah!" said Richelieu. "Is he at Ners? That is most lucky. That man
Morini said truly. Fortune goes with you. He may help me to raise the
money, so that there may be no delay; for you must know, Master
Langdale, that even kings and prime ministers, when they carry on
expensive wars, sometimes come to the end of their finances at the very
moment when large sums are most necessary. Clement Tournon: he is
connected with all the goldsmiths of Nismes, is he not?"

"I heard him say on the journey that he had a number of friends there,
and also in Avignon," replied Edward.

"It will do," said Richelieu. "Your second condition is granted. What is
the third?"

"That your Eminence lends me a fresh horse, for my own is knocked up. I
could wish also that I had some servant with me,--some one who knows the
way."

"The horse you shall have," said Richelieu; "but as for the servant," he
continued, thoughtfully, "I think you must go alone. I do not wish to
send any Frenchman to that camp. Nay, more: nobody must know where you
are going. Look at this map. This is the road." And he pointed with his
finger to a map of the Cevennes. "First you go there,--to St.
Martin,--then on to Mas Dieu. There you must inquire where the duke is
encamped. I think it is somewhere near St. Andeal; but you will soon
learn."

He ceased, and fell into a fit of thought; and, after waiting two or
three minutes, Edward inquired, "And what am I to say to him? or will
your Eminence write?"

"No, I will negotiate no more," answered Richelieu. "Say to him I have
received his message; and I answer, 'One hundred thousand crowns in
money, in four days, on the conditions expressed before;' and I wish his
answer, Yes or No, before mid-day to-morrow."

"One horse will not carry me there and back--if it be forty miles--in
that time over those mountains," said Edward.

"Pshaw! Kill the horse and buy another!" exclaimed Richelieu. "It is
worth ten horses for me to have the news to-morrow. Stay; you must have
some credence."

Thus saying, he went into the other room again, was absent a few
minutes, and returned with a small packet and a sheet of paper. Both
were addressed to the Duc de Rohan, and on the latter was written, "Hear
and believe the bearer, Edward Langdale, to you already known;" and then
followed the great scrawl of "Richelieu." The packet was sealed; but, as
the cardinal gave it to his young friend, he said, "That contains the
terms which he must sign and return by your hand. Go down and get
yourself some breakfast in the eating-hall while the horse is getting
ready. You will find good wine here. But remember: silence!"

Edward went down, and soon procured refreshment; but, ere he had eaten
more than a few mouthfuls or drank more than one draught of wine, one of
the secretaries whom he had seen above came in, with a very reverential
bow, saying, "His Eminence desires me to ask if Monsieur de Langdale
requires any money for his journey."

"No," replied Edward: "I have enough."

The horse was announced as ready the moment after, and Edward, springing
on his back, set out before the secretary lost sight of him.



CHAPTER L.


The ride was long and hot, for it was just the middle of the month of
June; and though the scenery is perhaps without its parallel in the
whole world, combining more beauties and more varieties of beauty than
ever I saw anywhere else, though every now and then the road was shaded
with trees attaining a height and breadth which would shame the
forest-giants, yet toward evening Edward was forced to acknowledge to
himself that he was very much exhausted. The horse which bore him was
excellent, strong, willing, but not easy in its gait; and it also, ere
they reached St. Andeal, showed the effects of the heat, though it had
not had the preceding journey from Ners to Alais. At St. Audral he had
but little difficulty in extracting from the towns-people an account of
the position of the Duc de Rohan's camp, and Edward rode on under the
shade of the mountains somewhat more slowly, calculating that he would
have time both to take some rest and return to Alais before noon on the
following day.

It was dark when he arrived; and all that he could discover of the
position of the camp was that it was very strong, while a number of
mountain-gorges radiating from a centre offered the means of retreat in
almost any direction. After some difficulties and delays at the
outposts, he gave up his horse to one of the soldiers, who regarded him
with a somewhat gloomy look, and was led to a little, rudely-constructed
hut, where a sentry kept guard before the door. He found the Duc de
Rohan perfectly alone; and, advancing to meet him, he was received in a
much more courteous and friendly manner than at their last interview.

"Monsieur Langdale," said the duke, holding out his hand, "I am glad to
see you. Pray, be seated. I can only offer you a stool in this place,
for we are obliged to fare hardly here. What brings you now I know not;
but I am glad of an opportunity of apologizing for some rudeness and
heat which I displayed at our last meeting. By your bearing the
cardinal's safe-conduct, I presume you come from him. What have you to
say?"

"First let me hand you this," said Edward, giving him the letter of
credence, over which the duke ran his eye hastily. "And next," said
Edward, "that, in answer to your message, his Eminence says, 'One
hundred thousand crowns, to be paid in four days, in money.'"

"Is that all he said?" said De Rohan. "Are you to act as negotiator in
this business, sir?"

"Not in the least," replied Edward. "I merely bear you a message, and am
perfectly ignorant of the whole circumstances, even of the contents of
this package,--though I have been told that it contains the conditions,
which, if you assent to them, you will sign, and enable me to return
them to the cardinal by noon to-morrow."

The duke took the packet, broke open the seal, and looked at the
writing, which was very brief, consisting only of three paragraphs.
There was a second paper, however, apparently briefer still. As he read,
de Rohan knit his brows and bit his lip.

"Am I to understand that you know nothing of these papers?" he asked.

"Nothing whatever," replied Edward; and the duke, rising from his stool,
walked up and down the hut for some minutes in deep thought.

"It must be done," he said, at length. "There is no use taking counsel
in the matter, for it is what they all wish. And thus ends the
Protestant cause in France! Monsieur Langdale, the only part of these
papers which is personal to myself is that." And he laid the second
enclosure before the young Englishman. "Why the cardinal has made this a
condition all along I cannot conceive, unless it be a point of pride
with him."

Edward read the paper, and perceived these words:--"I do hereby solemnly
consent to and affirm the marriage of my cousin Lucette Marie de
Mirepoix du Valais with Edward Langdale, of Buckley, in the county of
Huntingdon, England, as solemnized at Nantes, on the 3d of July, in the
year of grace 1627."

"I do assure you, my lord," said Edward, "this is none of my doing; and,
sooner than be any impediment to a peace so necessary to the poor
Protestants of France, I say, tear it. I will win Lucette by other
means."

"No," said the duke: "I will sign it; I will sign all. And when a Rohan
pledges his word the cardinal may be assured that it will be kept."

He took a little ink-horn from a neighboring table and signed the two
papers; then, shaking Edward by the hand again, he said, "Give you joy,
cousin! But you look ill and tired."

"I have ridden some sixty miles," said Edward, "with hardly any food,
and no rest."

The duke heard his reply with a rueful smile, but called a man from
without, telling him to bring the best he had for a young gentleman's
supper. The best was merely a bone of ham and some brown bread; but
there was added a flagon of very good wine.

"I require a little rest more than any thing," said Edward; "and I would
fain, my lord, lie down to sleep for a few minutes, if your people will
take care of my horse and wake me at four o'clock when they change the
sentries."

"That shall be done," said Rohan. "No chance of sleep for me to-night
after signing these papers. Here; you can sleep on my bed. It is as good
as any in the camp, I suppose." And, opening a door in the boarded
partition, he pointed to a great pile of rosemary and wild
mountain-herbs, saying, "It is a little better than the ground; but
fatigue gives balm to sleep."

Edward's eyes were closed in a moment, and he knew nothing more till the
duke himself called him at four. "Your horse is at the door," he said.
"There are the papers. I hope his Eminence will be punctual in the
payment; for I cannot turn ten thousand men loose amongst the mountains
with no money in their pockets. Let the man who has brought the horse
walk by your side and give the passwords."

Edward rode away well pleased with his success, and about half-past
eleven reached the small town of Alais. There he was informed that the
cardinal had not returned from Ners, but that Monsieur Rossignol would
see him; and, on being admitted to the well-known secretary, an order to
deliver the papers which he brought, signed by Richelieu, was given him.
Edward obeyed; and good Monsieur Rossignol, a man of great talent,
though originally a peasant, said, in a significant tone, "It will be
better for monsieur to ride out to the castle at Bourillaut, near Ners,
where he will find the cardinal."

"My good sir, I am tired to death, and my horse can hardly move a leg.
You forget what these mountain-roads are like."

"You can rest below for three or four hours," said the secretary. "Get
some refreshment,--by which time your own horse will have had rest
sufficient,--and then ride to Bourillaut in the cool of the evening. It
will be better. His Eminence desired it."

The thought that perhaps Richelieu might have obtained, through his
many-eyed communications, some news of Lucette gave Edward fresh spirit;
but still he followed the secretary's advice, for, after having ridden
so hard for many days, some more repose was absolutely needful. Toward
four o'clock, however, he set out toward Ners, having ascertained that
the chateau to which he was directed lay on the right of the road some
two or three miles before he reached the village; and all that need be
said of his journey is that the road, as every one knows, is beautiful,
and that his thoughts were like all young men's thoughts,--a little wild
and chaotic, perhaps, but with Lucette prominent above all. Some two
miles before the castle appeared in sight, however, he was met by a
large cavalcade of gentlemen, ladies, guards, and pack-mules, with
Richelieu at its head, going back apparently to Alais. The cardinal drew
up his horse, saying, "I have heard of you, my young friend. Rossignol
has sent me a messenger. Our good friend the syndic is well and gone to
Nismes, but will be back in two days. Go on to the chateau, where I have
ordered every thing to be prepared for you. There rest in peace for the
night. You will find nobody there to plague you, unless it be a few
women, who, if they are wise, will let you alone."

The cardinal moved on as he spoke; and Edward was fain to pursue his way
to Bourillaut. He found some servants on the drawbridge, loitering about
in the fine summer sunset; but as soon as his name was given the
omnipotent commands of the cardinal made them all activity and
attention. His horse was taken to the stable by one man; another ushered
him into a handsome room, communicating with a bedroom beyond; and a
third ran to bring the supper which he said his Eminence had ordered for
him. All around had a very comfortable aspect; and Edward thought, as he
threw himself into a chair, "A man with a wife whom he loved, and some
little ones to cheer him, might pass his life very happily even here."

The supper was soon brought, and was evidently the handiwork of some
courtly cook; the wine was delicate and good; and Edward, according to
the English fashion of all times, chose to take the moderate portion he
did take after his meal. Telling the man who waited on him to leave him,
he was about to pass the evening quietly, when, soon after the servant
had quitted the room, the door was opened and some one looked in. One
glance at the figure showed Edward that it was the lady with whom he had
ridden some way from Montargis; and, to say the truth, the young
Englishman would willingly have been spared her company. She still wore
the black velvet _loup_ over her face, which Edward thought was somewhat
too coquettish, considering that it was now dark and the candles
lighted; but of course he found himself bound to be polite, though he
was determined to be as cold as ice. Yet there was something timid and
hesitating in her manner that surprised him. As she came forward he
could see that she trembled, and, rising, he placed a chair for her,
saying, "To what am I indebted for this honor?"

"I have come to pass the evening with you," she said, in a low voice: "I
cannot let you be here all alone."

Edward did not well know what to reply, and he answered at random:--"Let
me beseech you, at all events, madam, to lay aside your mask now. Your
complexion runs no risk here."

"No," said the lady, shaking her head; "not till you tell me you love me
and will marry me."

"Are you not married already?" exclaimed Edward.

"Yes," she answered, "I am; but that makes no difference. Do you love
me?"

"I have told you, dear lady," said Edward, in as calm a tone as he could
assume, "that it is impossible. If you are the lady whom I saw at the
Hôtel de Bourgogne, doubtless I could have loved you if my whole heart
and soul had not been given to another; for I have seldom seen anybody
more lovely."

"But who is this you love so well?" said the lady. "Give me her
name,--her full name."

"Lucette Marie de Mirepoix du Valais," said Edward, impatiently.

The mask was off in a moment. "Am I so changed, Edward?" said Lucette,
throwing her arm round his neck. "I know I am taller,--much taller; but
I did not think you would ever forget me."

"Forget you! Oh, no, no, Lucette!" cried Edward, circling her in his
arms and covering her with kisses. "Have I ever forgotten you? have I
ever ceased to think of you? But I saw you but for a moment across the
dull and misty air of a theatre; and you are changed,--more charming,
more beautiful than ever. But even Lucette unknown could not rob Lucette
long known of the love that has been hers always. When for a moment I
saw your face I did not hear your voice, and when I heard your voice I
did not see your face. But now I see all these loved features
distinctly, and wonder how I could be deceived."

"We shall both change still more, Edward," she said, almost sadly. "And
will you love me still?"

"Better,--still better," said Edward, clasping her to his heart. "If,
Lucette, I loved you still after long absence, when you yourself tried
to make me love another, do you suppose that affection will wane when
the change comes over us together and you yourself engage me to love you
still? Oh, yes, Lucette; I will not deny it; you are more beautiful than
you used to be; but it was my young Lucette I loved; and how could I
love any other?"

"Well, I own that it was wrong," said Lucette, "to play with you and
tease you as I did; but it was not to try you, for I was sure I knew
your heart right well. It was the cardinal's command, however, and I
feared to disobey him. He brought us all from Paris,--some for one
reason, some for another: one that she might not intrigue against him at
the court of the queen-mother; another, to remove her from poor Anne of
Austria; others, for the amusement of the king and court, and perhaps to
assist him in his own views. Why he brought me I know not,--perhaps to
tease you on the road. No, no: I do him injustice. I sincerely believe
it was to unite us in the end. But do you forgive me, Edward? Do you
forgive me for acting a part that is not in my nature? A hundred times
the mask was nearly taken from my face. My joy to find that you loved
me still, and that you were faithful to your poor Lucette, passed all
bounds, and made me almost faint with happiness. It is nearly eighteen
months since I saw you at Aix; and since then how much I have suffered!
And I have heard that you have suffered too,--that you have been
apprehended and kept in prison, wounded again----"

"Oh, that is nothing!" answered Edward. "All has been followed by joy
and success. I never valued wealth, Lucette, till I met with you; but
now I have beyond doubt recovered one-half of my patrimonial
property,--all that belongs to me; but enough, and more than enough, to
secure my Lucette against all those grinding cares and petty annoyances
which, though less sharp than the fierce blows of misfortune, are more
wearing to the spirit and the heart. But tell me, my Lucette: how came
you here? I had feared, from what they said at Venice, that you had
fallen into the hands of Madame de Chevreuse."

"Oh, no," she answered: "that was a mistake. The council notified Madame
de la Cour that I was demanded by those who had a right to demand me in
France; but, with their usual secrecy, gave no further information. At
first I resolved to fly; but whither could I go? To Madame de Rohan I
could not apply; for her life in Venice has been one of great scandal
and disgrace. Madame de la Cour could not or would not help me. But in
the end I found that it was the ambassador from France who claimed me;
and, when assured that I was to be under the guardianship of the
cardinal himself, I went joyfully. He forbade me to write to you, saying
you promised soon to rejoin him; and on the night I saw you at the
theatre he told me to look at his _loge_, but to take no notice whatever
I might see. The only thing I now fear is the opposition of my high
relations. The Duc de Rohan is the head of the house; and, though he was
kind to me--very kind--while I was with him, I know him to be the
proudest man on earth, and as obdurate in his determinations as a rock."

"You are my wife," said Edward, pressing her to his heart,--"my wife by
every tie, human and divine. Soubise may oppose, Madame de Chevreuse may
oppose; but their opposition is nothing. Look here what authority the
cardinal gave me when I was setting out for Venice." Lucette looked at
the paper which he gave her.

"It was unkind of him to let you go," she said, "when he knew that I was
within two days' journey of Suza; but that was to punish you for leaving
that little Morini on the road."

"Do you know why I left him?" said Edward, kissing her rosy lips. "It
was because a very beautiful lady said she would make me love her before
our journey was ended; and I was resolved to love nobody but Lucette.
No, my Lucette: our journey together has never ended, and through life
never must end. You are mine, as I have said, by every tie. The Duc de
Rohan, the only one who had any real authority, I saw last night. His
opposition was entirely withdrawn, and his formal approval of our
marriage at Nantes was given in writing."

Lucette was silent for a moment or two, and turned a little pale; and
Edward asked, in a low tone, "What ladies are there here in the castle?"

"None," said Lucette. "Except my maid, we are all alone. Now I
understand: I think I see why the cardinal took every one else away and
insisted on my staying."

"Assuredly," replied Edward, "because you are my wife, Lucette, and he
did not wish that we should be separated any more."

Her face was now as rosy as the dawn, and her breath came thick with
agitation.

"You are mine, Lucette! are you not mine?" said Edward,--"my own, my
wife, my beloved?"

"Oh, yes, yes!" sobbed Lucette, casting herself upon his bosom,--"my
husband, my own dear husband!" And they parted no more.



CHAPTER LI.


The famous peace of Alais, which terminated, during the reign of Louis
XIII., the struggles of the Protestants of France for a distinct
organization and left them nothing but an insecure toleration, was
concluded on the 27th of June, 1629, a few days after the reunion of
Edward and Lucette. None can doubt that Richelieu was politically right
in asserting and enforcing the sovereign authority over a body of men
who had made religious differences a pretext for rebellion and a
continual source of exaction and menace. Nor can any one accuse him of
having violated his word in any degree to the Huguenots. They were
suffered to follow the forms of their religion in peace; their peculiar
tenets formed no obstacle to their admission into the highest offices in
France; and the Duc de Rohan himself was employed in high and delicate
negotiations, and ultimately fell in the military service of the monarch
against whom he had so often fought.

A few days after the period to which we have carried our story in the
last chapter, the hundred thousand crowns in gold, which were necessary
for him, as well to provide for his troops as to repair his own
shattered fortunes, were paid to the duke, according to Richelieu's
promise; and the Protestant army was immediately disbanded,--glad to
escape from the inevitable ruin and disaster which hung over their
heads.

The peace concluded at Suza restored those friendly relations with
England which had so long been broken off. Spain and Savoy were, at
least for the time, cowed by the power of France; and all men, both
friends and enemies, saw in the well-directed operations of the French
armies and the success of French diplomacy the great military and
political genius of Armand du Plessis.

In the mean time, the cardinal kindly left Edward and Lucette to the
enjoyment of each other's society; and it was not till some six or seven
days after the union which he himself had aided so much to bring about
that he visited them at the castle of Bourillaut. Great success, if in
the end it makes men haughty and overbearing, seems at first to soften
and expand the heart; and Richelieu, at the culminating-point of his
fortunes, sat down and conversed with the two young people as their
friend. He amused himself somewhat with their love, and expressed, and
probably felt, some gratification at their happiness.

"Monsieur Langdale," he said, "a foolish prediction has been made to me,
that as you and I were born on the same hour of the same day of the same
month, though a number of years apart,--how many I do not remember,--my
fate and yours should run together; and, though of course I put no faith
in it, that prophecy has as yet proved remarkably true. I am therefore
very desirous to attach you to me, now that peace is signed between
France and England; and you must tell me, according to a promise which
you once made, what post I can give you at the court of France."

Edward and Lucette looked at each other; and then, with his usual
frankness, Edward answered, "No post your Eminence can give me can
attach me more strongly to you than that which you have already given
me,--the husband of this dear lady. Two days ago we had a long
consultation with our good friend Clement Tournon, and laid out our
plans for life. He is resolved, with the sum he has amassed, to purchase
a small and beautiful estate and chateau which he has seen not far from
Paris; and Lucette and myself intend to live there a great part of each
year as his son and daughter. We shall of course visit England from time
to time; but our wish is to avoid courts and cities as much as may be."

"Young people's dreams," said Richelieu, gravely.

"That may be," said Edward, "but I trust it will not prove so. However,
if your Eminence were to give me some high post, you would make many of
the French nobility dissatisfied, and you might find me ungrateful; but,
as it is, I shall be near you the greater part of my days; and, whether
I may be in England or in France, if at any time I can serve you with my
hand, or my head, or my heart, believe me, I will not forget these happy
days are all owing to your great goodness."

"I wish I could dream," said the cardinal, looking down thoughtfully.
"It must be a very happy thing to be so confident of the world and of
fate and of oneself. But be it so, Monsieur Langdale. Only remember!"

"My lord, have I ever forgotten?" asked Edward.

"No, no," said Richelieu; "and it is for that I have esteemed you. Come
and see me when you are near Paris; for when I have a leisure hour I
shall love your conversation. We will talk of art, and literature, and
science; and I shall banish for that hour the thought of politics, and
intrigue, and cabal: oh, how I hate them! And if you have a son," he
continued, laying his hand kindly upon that of Lucette as he rose to
depart, "you shall call his name Armand."

"And you shall bless him," cried Lucette, warmly, kissing his hand; "and
I will tell him that you made his father and myself happy."

Perhaps, in all his career of splendid misery, that was one of the
happiest hours that Richelieu had ever experienced.

The Prince de Soubise, as is well known, did not return to France and
make his full submission to his king till Edward and Lucette had been
married some time. To Edward, whom he met at the court not long after
the final fall of Marie de Medici, he was polite and even friendly; but,
whether it was that he was naturally of a more haughty disposition than
his brother the Duc de Rohan, or that he was never placed under the same
pressure of circumstances, he refused to acknowledge, by any authentic
act, the legality of the marriage between his young cousin and the son
of one of his earliest friends. It made no difference to them, however,
nor troubled their peace in the least; and in the end, after witnessing
their mutual felicity for many years, both he and his brother the duke,
by their own wretched experience, were forced to acknowledge that a
marriage of affection has more chance for happiness than a marriage of
convenience. Still, however, with the same peculiar obduracy which had
characterized his resistance to the crown in the hopeless war of the
Protestants against Louis XIII., he refused to sign, on several
occasions, the papers which were necessary to enable Lucette to enter
fully into possession of her father's estates, saying that he would not
recognise her marriage with the second son of a simple English
gentleman. But his consent was passed over by certain forms of the
Parliament; and as for Madame de Chevreuse, with her usual gay
lightness, she signed her approbation of the marriage without a word of
opposition,--when she found that opposition would be vain. She was even
inclined to be exceedingly kind and intimate with the young pair; but
Edward gave no encouragement to her advances, and she satisfied herself
by declaring that, like many of his countrymen, he was a handsome man,
but somewhat brutal.

In regard to Edward's claim to the estate of Buckley, there was no
opposition; and he kept quiet possession during the whole of his life of
that fine part of his inheritance. The estates of Langley were suffered
to go greatly to decay for several years, the rents accumulating in the
hands of the agent without ever being called for or paid over to any
one.

How this property reverted to Edward himself, and how the objections of
the Prince de Soubise to the marriage of his young cousin with Edward
Langdale were at last done away,--what was the ultimate fate of Sir
Richard Langdale,--and how an old proverb was verified,--would be too
long of telling in the pages which yet remain.

Perhaps, if God spares the life, the health, and the senses of the
author of this work, these particulars may all be related in another. At
all events, the history of Lord Montagu's Page is completed; for it
would be folly to pursue that history in the calm, continued,
uninterrupted happiness of his married life. Every one has been
unsuccessful in painting happiness with the pen. Dante failed in his
Paradiso, Milton in his Paradise Regained; and the writer of these pages
is not sufficiently presumptuous to suppose that he could succeed in
representing a state as near as this world permits to that which they
attempted to picture in vain.


    THE END.


    STEREOTYPED BY L. JOHNSON & CO.
    PHILADELPHIA.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Transcriber's notes:

  P.18. 'It it' is changed to 'It is'
  P.76. 'stoop' changed to 'swoop'.
  P. 106, 'dulness' changed to 'dullness'.
  P.108. 'Rochelois' changed to 'Rochellois'.
  P.126. 'Loge' changed to 'Logé'.
  P. 211. 'Loir' changed to 'Loire'.
  P. 219. 'th' changed to 'there'.

       *       *       *       *       *





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