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147 M y new abode was more cheerful than the one I had quitted in the citadel. It was not large, but it had a window, well barred, through which came the good strong light of the northern sky. A wooden bench for my bed stood in one corner, and, what cheered me much, there was a small iron stove. Apart from warmth, its fire would be companionable, and to tend it a means of passing the time. Almost the first thing I did was to examine it. It was round, and shaped like a small bulging keg on end. It had a lid on top and in the side a small door with bars for draught, suggesting to me in little the delight of a fireplace. A small pipe carried away the smoke into a chimney in the wall. It seemed to me luxurious, and my spirits came back apace. There was no fire yet, and it was bitter cold, so that I took to walking up and down to keep warmth in me. I was ill nourished, and I felt the cold intensely. But I trotted up and down, plans of escape already running through my head. I was as far off as you can imagine from that event of the early morning when I stood waiting, half frozen, to be shot by Lancy’s men. After I had been walking swiftly up and down for an hour or more, slapping my hands against my sides to keep them warm—for it was so Chapter XIII “A Little Boast” 148 cold I ached and felt a nausea—I was glad to see Gabord enter with a soldier carrying wood and shavings. I do not think I could much longer have borne the chilling air—a dampness, too, had risen from the floor, which had been washed that morning—for my clothes were very light in texture and much worn. I had had but the one suit since I entered the dungeon in the citadel, for my other suit, which was by no means smart, had been taken from me when I was imprisoned the year before. As if many good things had been destined to come at once, soon afterwards another soldier entered with a knapsack, which he laid down on the bench. It held my other poor suit of clothes, together with a rough set of woollens, a few handkerchiefs, two pairs of stockings, and a wool cap for night wear. Gabord did not speak to me at all, but roughly hurried the soldier at his task of fire-lighting, and ordered the other to fetch a pair of stools and a jar of water. Meanwhile I stood near, watching, and stretched out my skinny hands to the grateful heat as soon as the fire was lighted. I had a boy’s delight in noting how the draught pumped the fire into violence, shaking the stove till it puffed and roared. I was so filled, that moment, with the domestic spirit that I thought a steaming kettle on the little stove would give me a tabby-like comfort. “Why not a kettle on the hob?” said I gaily to Gabord. “Why not a cat before the fire, a bit of bacon on the coals, a pot of mulled wine at elbow, and a wench’s chin to chuck, baby-bumbo!” said Gabord in a mocking voice, which made the soldiers laugh at my expense. “And a spinet, too, for ducky dear, Scarrat; a piece of cake and cherry wine, and a soul to go to heaven! Tonnerre!” he added, with an oath, “these English prisoners want the world for a sou, and they’d owe that till judgment day.” I saw at once the meaning of his words, for he turned his back on me, and, going to the window, tried the stanchions, seeming much concerned about them, and muttering to himself. I drew from my pocket two gold pieces, and gave them to the soldier Scarrat; and the other 149 soldier coming in just then, I did the same with him; and I could see that their respect for me mightily increased. Gabord, still muttering, turned to us again, and began to berate the soldiers for their laziness. As the two men turned to go, Scarrat, evidently feeling that something was due for the gold I had given, said to Gabord, “Shall m’sieu’ have the kettle?” Gabord took a step forward as if to strike...


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