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247 A t nine o’clock I was waiting by the window, and even as a bugle sounded “lights out” in the barracks and change of guard, I let the string down. Mr. Stevens shot round the corner of the château, just as the departing sentinel disappeared, attached a bundle to the string, and I drew it up. “Is all well?” I called softly down. “All well,” said Mr. Stevens, and, hugging the wall of the château, he sped away. In another moment a new sentinel began pacing up and down, and I shut the window and untied my bundle. All that I had asked for was there. I hid the things away in the alcove and went to bed at once, for I knew that I should have no sleep on the following night. I did not leave my bed till the morning was well advanced. Once or twice during the day I brought my guards in with fear on their faces, the large fat man more distorted than his fellow, by the lamentable sounds I made with my willow toys. They crossed themselves again and again, and I myself appeared devout and troubled. When we walked abroad during the afternoon, I chose to loiter by the river rather than walk, for I wished to conserve my strength, which was now vastly increased, though, to mislead my watchers and the authorities, I assumed the delicacy of an invalid, and appeared unfit for any enterprise —no hard task, for I was still very thin and worn. Chapter XXI La Jongleuse 248 So I sat upon a favourite seat on the cliff, set against a solitary tree, fixed in the rocks. I gazed long on the river, and my guards, stoutly armed, stood near, watching me, and talking in low tones. Eager to hear their gossip I appeared to sleep. They came nearer, and, facing me, sat upon a large stone, and gossipped freely concerning the strange sounds heard in my room at the château. “See you, my Bamboir,” said the lean to the fat soldier, “the British captain, he is to be carried off in burning flames by that La Jongleuse. We shall come in one morning, find a smell of sulphur only, and a circle of red on the floor where the imps danced before La Jongleuse said to them, ‘Up with him, darlings, and away!’” At this Bamboir shook his head, and answered, “To-morrow I’ll go to the Governor and tell him what’s coming. My wife, she falls upon my neck this morning. ‘Argose,’ she says, ‘’twill need the bishop and his college to drive La Jongleuse out of the grand château.’” “No less,” replied the other. “A deacon and sacred palm and sprinkle of holy water would do for a cottage, or even for a little manor house, with twelve candles burning, and a hymn to the Virgin. But in a king’s house—” “It’s not the King’s house.” “But yes, it is the King’s house, though his Most Christian Majesty lives in France. The Marquis de Vaudreuil stands for the King, and we are sentinels in the King’s house. But, my faith, I’d rather be fighting against Frederick, the Prussian boar, than watching this mad Englishman .” “But see you, my brother, that Englishman’s a devil. Else how has he not been hanged long ago? He has vile arts to blind all, or he’d not be sitting there. It is well known that M’sieu’ Doltaire, even the King’s son—his mother worked in the fields like your Nanette, Bamboir—” “Or your Lablanche, my friend. She has hard hands, with warts, and red knuckles therefrom—” “Or your Nanette, Bamboir, with nose that blisters in the summer, 249 as she goes swingeing flax, and swelling feet that sweat in sabots, and chin thrust out from carrying pails upon her head—” “Ay, like Nanette and like Lablanche, this peasant mother of M’sieu’ Doltaire, and maybe no such firm breasts like Nanette—” “Nor such an eye as has Lablanche. Well, M’sieu’ Doltaire, who could override them all, he could not kill this barbarian. And Gabord—you know well how they fought, and the black horse and his rider came and carried him away. Why, the young M’sieu’ Duvarney had him on his knees, the blade at his throat, and a sword flash out from the dark—they say it was the devil...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781771120456
Related ISBN
9781771120449
MARC Record
OCLC
966771243
Pages
408
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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