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301 I awoke with the dawn, and, dressing, looked out of the window, seeing the brindled light spread over the battered roofs and ruins of the Lower Town. A bell was calling to prayers in the battered Jesuit College not far away, and bugle-calls told of the stirring garrison. Soldiers and stragglers passed down the streets near by and a few starved peasants crept about the cathedral with downcast eyes, eager for crumbs that a well-fed soldier might cast aside. Yet I knew that in the Intendant’s palace and among the officers of the army there was abundance, with revelry and dissipation. Presently I drew to the trap-door of my loft, and, raising it gently, came down the ladder to the little hallway, and softly opened the door of the room where Labrouk’s body lay. Candles were burning at his head and his feet, and two peasants sat dozing in chairs near by. I could see Labrouk’s face plainly in the flickering light: a rough, wholesome face it was, refined by death, yet unshaven and unkempt, too. Here was work for Voban’s shears and razor. Presently there was a footstep behind me, and, turning, I saw in the half-light the widowed wife. “Madame,” said I in a whisper, “I too weep with you. I pray for as true an end for myself.” Chapter XXV In the Cathedral 302 “He was of the true faith, thank the good God,” she said sincerely. She passed into the room, and the two watchers, after taking refreshment , left the house. Suddenly she hastened to the door, called one back, and, pointing to the body, whispered something. The peasant nodded and turned away. She came back into the room, stood looking at the face of the dead man for a moment, and bent over and kissed the crucifix clasped in the cold hands. Then she stepped about the room, moving a chair and sweeping up a speck of dust in a mechanical way. Presently, as if she again remembered me, she asked me to enter the room. Then she bolted the outer door of the house. I stood looking at the body of her husband, and said, “Were it not well to have Voban the barber?” “I have sent for him and for Gabord,” she replied. “Gabord was Jean’s good friend. He is with General Montcalm. The Governor put him in prison because of the marriage of Mademoiselle Duvarney, but Monsieur Doltaire set him free, and now he serves General Montcalm. “I have work in the cathedral,” continued the poor woman, “and I shall go to it this morning as I have always gone. There is a little unused closet in a gallery where you may hide, and still see all that happens. It is your last look at the lady, and I will give it to you, as you gave me to know of my Jean.” “My last look?” I asked eagerly. “She goes into the nunnery to-morrow, they say,” was the reply. “Her marriage is to be set aside by the bishop to-day—in the cathedral. This is her last night to live as such as I—but no, she will be happier so.” “Madame,” said I, “I am a heretic, but I listened when your husband said, ‘Mon grand homme de Calvaire, bon soir!’ Was the cross less a cross because a heretic put it to his lips? Is a marriage less a marriage because a heretic is the husband? Madame, you loved your Jean; if he were living now, what would you do to keep him? Think, madame, is not love more than all?” 303 She turned to the dead body. “Mon petit Jean!” she murmured, but made no reply to me, and for many minutes the room was silent. At last she turned, and said, “You must come at once, for soon the priests will be at the church. A little later I will bring you some breakfast, and you must not stir from there till I come to fetch you—no.” “I wish to see Voban,” said I. She thought a moment. “I will try to fetch him to you by-and-bye,” she said. She did not speak further, but finished the sentence by pointing to the body. Presently, hearing footsteps, she drew me into another little room. “It is the grandfather,” she said. “He has forgotten you already, and he must not see you again.” We...

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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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