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CHAPTER I

HE TRESPASSERS


Coming presently upon the Redon road, Andre-Louis, obeying instinct
rather than reason, turned his face to the south, and plodded
wearily and mechanically forward. He had no clear idea of whither
he was going, or of whither he should go. All that imported at the
moment was to put as great a distance as possible between Gavrillac
and himself.

He had a vague, half-formed notion of returning to Nantes; and
there, by employing the newly found weapon of his oratory, excite
the people into sheltering him as the first victim of the
persecution he had foreseen, and against which he had sworn them to
take up arms. But the idea was one which he entertained merely as
an indefinite possibility upon which he felt no real impulse to act.

Meanwhile he chuckled at the thought of Fresnel as he had last seen
him, with his muffled face and glaring eyeballs. "For one who was
anything but a man of action," he writes, "I felt that I had
acquitted myself none so badly." It is a phrase that recurs at
intervals in his sketchy "Confessions." Constantly is he reminding
you that he is a man of mental and not physical activities, and
apologizing when dire neccessity drives him into acts of violence.
I suspect this insistence upon his philosophic detachment - for
which I confess he had justification enough - to betray his
besetting vanity.

With increasing fatigue came depression and self-criticism. He
had stupidly overshot his mark in insultingly denouncing M. de
Lesdiguieres. "It is much better," he says somewhere, "to be
wicked than to be stupid. Most of this world's misery is the fruit
not as priests tell us of wickedness, but of stupidity." And we
know that of all stupidities he considered anger the most deplorable.
Yet he had permitted himself to be angry with a creature like M. de
Lesdiguieres - a lackey, a fribble, a nothing, despite his
potentialities for evil. He could perfectly have discharged his
self-imposed mission without arousing the vindictive resentment of
the King's Lieutenant.

He beheld himself vaguely launched upon life with the riding-suit
in which he stood, a single louis d'or and a few pieces of silver
for all capital, and a knowledge of law which had been inadequate
to preserve him from the consequences of infringing it.

He had, in addition - but these things that were to be the real
salvation of him he did not reckon - his gift of laughter, sadly
repressed of late, and the philosophic outlook and mercurial
temperament which are the stock-in-trade of your adventurer in
all ages.

Meanwhile he tramped mechanically on through the night, until he
felt that he could tramp no more. He had skirted the little
township of Guichen, and now within a half-mile of Guignen, and
with Gavrillac a good seven miles behind him, his legs refused to
carry him any farther.

He was midway across the vast common to the north of Guignen when
he came to a halt. He had left the road, and taken heedlessly to
the footpath that struck across the waste of indifferent pasture
interspersed with clumps of gorse. A stone's throw away on his
right the common was bordered by a thorn hedge. Beyond this loomed
a tall building which he knew to be an open barn, standing on the
edge of a long stretch of meadowland. That dark, silent shadow it
may have been that had brought him to a standstill, suggesting
shelter to his subconsciousness. A moment he hesitated; then he
struck across towards a spot where a gap in the hedge was closed
by a five-barred gate. He pushed the gate open, went through the
gap, and stood now before the barn. It was as big as a house, yet
consisted of no more than a roof carried upon half a dozen tall,
brick pillars. But densely packed under that roof was a great
stack of hay that promised a warm couch on so cold a night. Stout
timbers had been built into the brick pillars, with projecting ends
to serve as ladders by which the labourer might climb to pack or
withdraw hay. With what little strength remained him, Andre-Louis
climbed by one of these and landed safely at the top, where he was
forced to kneel, for lack of room to stand upright. Arrived there,
he removed his coat and neckcloth, his sodden boots and stockings.
Next he cleared a trough for his body, and lying down in it, covered
himself to the neck with the hay he had removed. Within five minutes
he was lost to all worldly cares and soundly asleep.

When next he awakened, the sun was already high in the heavens, from
which he concluded that the morning was well advanced; and this
before he realized quite where he was or how he came there. Then
to his awakening senses came a drone of voices close at hand, to
which at first he paid little heed. He was deliciously refreshed,
luxuriously drowsy and luxuriously warm.

But as consciousness and memory grew more full, he raised his head
clear of the hay that he might free both ears to listen, his pulses
faintly quickened by the nascent fear that those voices might bode
him no good. Then he caught the reassuring accents of a woman,
musical and silvery, though laden with alarm.

"Ah, mon Dieu, Leandre, let us separate at once. If it should be
my father... "

And upon this a man's voice broke in, calm and reassuring:

"No, no, Climene; you are mistaken. There is no one coming. We
are quite safe. Why do you start at shadows?"

"Ah, Leandre, if he should find us here together! I tremble at the
very thought."

More was not needed to reassure Andre-Louis. He had overheard
enough to know that this was but the case of a pair of lovers who,
with less to fear of life, were yet - after the manner of their
kind - more timid of heart than he. Curiosity drew him from his
warm trough to the edge of the hay. Lying prone, he advanced his
head and peered down.

In the space of cropped meadow between the barn and the hedge stood
a man and a woman, both young. The man was a well-set-up, comely
fellow, with a fine head of chestnut hair tied in a queue by a
broad bow of black satin. He was dressed with certain tawdry
attempts at ostentatious embellishments, which did not prepossess
one at first glance in his favour. His coat of a fashionable cut
was of faded plum-coloured velvet edged with silver lace, whose
glory had long since departed. He affected ruffles, but for want
of starch they hung like weeping willows over hands that were fine
and delicate. His breeches were of plain black cloth, and his black
stockings were of cotton - matters entirely out of harmony with his
magnificent coat. His shoes, stout and serviceable, were decked
with buckles of cheap, lack-lustre paste. But for his engaging and
ingenuous countenance, Andre-Louis must have set him down as a
knight of that order which lives dishonestly by its wits. As it
was, he suspended judgment whilst pushing investigation further by
a study of the girl. At the outset, be it confessed that it was a
study that attracted him prodigiously. And this notwithstanding
the fact that, bookish and studious as were his ways, and in
despite of his years, it was far from his habit to waste
consideration on femininity.

The child - she was no more than that, perhaps twenty at the most
- possessed, in addition to the allurements of face and shape that
went very near perfection, a sparkling vivacity and a grace of
movement the like of which Andre-Louis did not remember ever before
to have beheld assembled in one person. And her voice too - that
musical, silvery voice that had awakened him - possessed in its
exquisite modulations an allurement of its own that must have been
irresistible, he thought, in the ugliest of her sex. She wore a
hooded mantle of green cloth, and the hood being thrown back, her
dainty head was all revealed to him. There were glints of gold
struck by the morning sun from her light nut-brown hair that hung
in a cluster of curls about her oval face. Her complexion was of
a delicacy that he could compare only with a rose petal. He could
not at that distance discern the colour of her eyes, but he guessed
them blue, as he admired the sparkle of them under the fine, dark
line of eyebrows.

He could not have told you why, but he was conscious that it
aggrieved him to find her so intimate with this pretty young fellow,
who was partly clad, as it appeared, in the cast-offs of a nobleman.
He could not guess her station, but the speech that reached him was
cultured in tone and word. He strained to listen.

"I shall know no peace, Leandre, until we are safely wedded," she
was saying. "Not until then shall I count myself beyond his reach.
And yet if we marry without his consent, we but make trouble for
ourselves, and of gaining his consent I almost despair."

Evidently, thought Andre-Louis, her father was a man of sense, who
saw through the shabby finery of M. Leandre, and was not to be
dazzled by cheap paste buckles.

"My dear Climene," the young man was answering her, standing
squarely before her, and holding both her hands, "you are wrong to
despond. If I do not reveal to you all the stratagem that I have
prepared to win the consent of your unnatural parent, it is because
I am loath to rob you of the pleasure of the surprise that is in
store. But place your faith in me, and in that ingenious friend
of whom I have spoken, and who should be here at any moment."

The stilted ass! Had he learnt that speech by heart in advance, or
was he by nature a pedantic idiot who expressed himself in this set
and formal manner? How came so sweet a blossom to waste her
perfumes on such a prig? And what a ridiculous name the creature
owned!

Thus Andre-Louis to himself from his observatory. Meanwhile, she
was speaking.

"That is what my heart desires, Leandre, but I am beset by fears
lest your stratagem should be too late. I am to marry this horrible
Marquis of Sbrufadelli this very day. He arrives by noon. He comes
to sign the contract - to make me the Marchioness of Sbrufadelli.
Oh!" It was a cry of pain from that tender young heart. "The very
name burns my lips. If it were mine I could never utter it - never!
The man is so detestable. Save me, Leandre. Save me! You are my
only hope."

Andre-Louis was conscious of a pang of disappointment. She failed
to soar to the heights he had expected of her. She was evidently
infected by the stilted manner of her ridiculous lover. There was
an atrocious lack of sincerity about her words. They touched his
mind, but left his heart unmoved. Perhaps this was because of his
antipathy to M. Leandre and to the issue involved.

So her father was marrying her to a marquis! That implied birth on
her side. And yet she was content to pair off with this dull young
adventurer in the tarnished lace! It was, he supposed, the sort of
thing to be expected of a sex that all philosophy had taught him to
regard as the maddest part of a mad species.

"It shall never be!" M. Leandre was storming passionately. "Never!
I swear it!" And he shook his puny fist at the blue vault of heaven
- Ajax defying Jupiter. "Ah, but here comes our subtle friend... "
(Andre-Louis did not catch the name, M. Leandre having at that moment
turned to face the gap in the hedge.) "He will bring us news, I know."

Andre-Louis looked also in the direction of the gap. Through it
emerged a lean, slight man in a rusty cloak and a three-cornered hat
worn well down over his nose so as to shade his face. And when
presently he doffed this hat and made a sweeping bow to the young
lovers, Andre-Louis confessed to himself that had he been cursed
with such a hangdog countenance he would have worn his hat in
precisely such a manner, so as to conceal as much of it as possible.
If M. Leandre appeared to be wearing, in part at least, the cast-offs
of nobleman, the newcomer appeared to be wearing the cast-offs of M.
Leandre. Yet despite his vile clothes and viler face, with its three
days' growth of beard, the fellow carried himself with a certain air;
he positively strutted as he advanced, and he made a leg in a manner
that was courtly and practised.

"Monsieur," said he, with the air of a conspirator, "the time for
action has arrived, and so has the Marquis... That is why."

The young lovers sprang apart in consternation; Climene with clasped
hands, parted lips, and a bosom that raced distractingly under its
white fichu-menteur; M. Leandre agape, the very picture of foolishness
and dismay.

Meanwhile the newcomer rattled on. "I was at the inn an hour ago
when he descended there, and I studied him attentively whilst he was
at breakfast. Having done so, not a single doubt remains me of our
success. As for what he looks like, I could entertain you at length
upon the fashion in which nature has designed his gross fatuity.
But that is no matter. We are concerned with what he is, with the
wit of him. And I tell you confidently that I find him so dull and
stupid that you may be confident he will tumble headlong into each
and all of the traps I have so cunningly prepared for him."

"Tell me, tell me! Speak!" Climene implored him, holding out her
hands in a supplication no man of sensibility could have resisted.
And then on the instant she caught her breath on a faint scream.
"My father!" she exclaimed, turning distractedly from one to the
other of those two. "He is coming! We are lost!"

"You must fly, Climene!" said M. Leandre.

"Too late!" she sobbed. "Too late! He is here."

"Calm, mademoiselle, calm!" the subtle friend was urging her. "Keep
calm and trust to me. I promise you that all shall be well."

"Oh!" cried M. Leandre, limply. "Say what you will, my friend, this
is ruin - the end of all our hopes. Your wits will never extricate
us from this. Never!"

Through the gap strode now an enormous man with an inflamed moon
face and a great nose, decently dressed after the fashion of a solid
bourgeois. There was no mistaking his anger, but the expression
that it found was an amazement to Andre-Louis.

"Leandre, you're an imbecile! Too much phlegm, too much phlegm!
Your words wouldn't convince a ploughboy! Have you considered what
they mean at all? Thus," he cried, and casting his round hat from
him in a broad gesture, he took his stand at M. Leandre's side, and
repeated the very words that Leandre had lately uttered, what time
the three observed him coolly and attentively.

"Oh, say what you will, my friend, this is ruin - the end of all
our hopes. Your wits will never extricate us from this. Never!"

A frenzy of despair vibrated in his accents. He swung again to face
M. Leandre. "Thus," he bade him contemptuously. "Let the passion
of your hopelessness express itself in your voice. Consider that you
are not asking Scaramouche here whether he has put a patch in your
breeches. You are a despairing lover expressing... "

He checked abruptly, startled. Andre-Louis, suddenly realizing what
was afoot, and how duped he had been, had loosed his laughter. The
sound of it pealing and booming uncannily under the great roof that
so immediately confined him was startling to those below.

The fat man was the first to recover, and he announced it after his
own fashion in one of the ready sarcasms in which he habitually dealt.

"Hark!" he cried, "the very gods laugh at you, Leandre." Then he
addressed the roof of the barn and its invisible tenant. "Hi! You
there!"

Andre-Louis revealed himself by a further protrusion of his tousled
head.

"Good-morning," said he, pleasantly. Rising now on his knees, his
horizon was suddenly extended to include the broad common beyond
the hedge. He beheld there an enormous and very battered travelling
chaise, a cart piled up with timbers partly visible under the sheet
of oiled canvas that covered them, and a sort of house on wheels
equipped with a tin chimney, from which the smoke was slowly curling.
Three heavy Flemish horses and a couple of donkeys - all of them
hobbled - were contentedly cropping the grass in the neighbourhood
of these vehicles. These, had he perceived them sooner, must have
given him the clue to the queer scene that had been played under
his eyes. Beyond the hedge other figures were moving. Three at
that moment came crowding into the gap - a saucy-faced girl with a
tip-tilted nose, whom he supposed to be Columbine, the soubrette;
a lean, active youngster, who must be the lackey Harlequin;, and
another rather loutish youth who might be a zany or an apothecary.

All this he took in at a comprehensive glance that consumed no more
time than it had taken him to say good-morning. To that
good-morning Pantaloon replied in a bellow:

"What the devil are you doing up there?"

"Precisely the same thing that you are doing down there," was the
answer. "I am trespassing."

"Eh?" said Pantaloon, and looked at his companions, some of the
assurance beaten out of his big red face. Although the thing was
one that they did habitually, to hear it called by its proper name
was disconcerting.

"Whose land is this?" he asked, with diminishing assurance.

Andre-Louis answered, whilst drawing on his stockings. "I believe
it to be the property of the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr."

"That's a high-sounding name. Is the gentleman severe?"

"The gentleman," said Andre-Louis, "is the devil; or rather, I
should prefer to say upon reflection, that the devil is a gentleman
by comparison.

"And yet," interposed the villainous-looking fellow who played
Scaramouche, "by your own confessing you don't hesitate, yourself,
to trespass upon his property."

"Ah, but then, you see, I am a lawyer. And lawyers are notoriously
unable to observe the law, just as actors are notoriously unable to
act. Moreover, sir, Nature imposes her limits upon us, and Nature
conquers respect for law as she conquers all else. Nature conquered
me last night when I had got as far as this. And so I slept here
without regard for the very high and puissant Marquis de La Tour
d'Azyr. At the same time, M. Scaramouche, you'll observe that I
did not flaunt my trespass quite as openly as you and your companions.

Having donned his boots, Andre-Louis came nimbly to the ground in
his shirt-sleeves, his riding-coat over his arm. As he stood there
to don it, the little cunning eyes of the heavy father conned him in
detail. Observing that his clothes, if plain, were of a good fashion,
that his shirt was of fine cambric, and that he expressed himself
like a man of culture, such as he claimed to be, M. Pantaloon was
disposed to be civil.

"I am very grateful to you for the warning, sir... " he was beginning.

"Act upon it, my friend. The gardes-champetres of M. d'Azyr have
orders to fire on trespassers. Imitate me, and decamp."

They followed him upon the instant through that gap in the hedge to
the encampment on the common. There Andre-Louis took his leave of
them. But as he was turning away he perceived a young man of the
company performing his morning toilet at a bucket placed upon one
of the wooden steps at the tail of the house on wheels. A moment
he hesitated, then he turned frankly to M. Pantaloon, who was still
at his elbow.

"If it were not unconscionable to encroach so far upon your
hospitality, monsieur," said he, "I would beg leave to imitate that
very excellent young gentleman before I leave you."

"But, my dear sir!" Good-nature oozed out of every pore of the fat
body of the master player. "It is nothing at all. But, by all
means. Rhodomont will provide what you require. He is the dandy
of the company in real life, though a fire-eater on the stage. Hi,
Rhodomont!"

The young ablutionist straightened his long body from the right
angle in which it had been bent over the bucket, and looked out
through a foam of soapsuds. Pantaloon issued an order, and
Rhodomont, who was indeed as gentle and amiable off the stage as he
was formidable and terrible upon it, made the stranger free of the
bucket in the friendliest manner.

So Andre-Louis once more removed his neckcloth and his coat, and
rolled up the sleeves of his fine shirt, whilst Rhodomont procured
him soap, a towel, and presently a broken comb, and even a greasy
hair-ribbon, in case the gentleman should have lost his own. This
last Andre-Louis declined, but the comb he gratefully accepted, and
having presently washed himself clean, stood, with the towel flung
over his left shoulder, restoring order to his dishevelled locks
before a broken piece of mirror affixed to the door of the
travelling house.

He was standing thus, what time the gentle Rhodomont babbled
aimlessly at his side when his ears caught the sound of hooves.
He looked over his shoulder carelessly, and then stood frozen, with
uplifted comb and loosened mouth. Away across the common, on the
road that bordered it, he beheld a party of seven horsemen in the
blue coats with red facings of the marechaussee.

Not for a moment did he doubt what was the quarry of this prowling
gendarmerie. It was as if the chill shadow of the gallows had
fallen suddenly upon him.

And then the troop halted, abreast with them, and the sergeant
leading it sent his bawling voice across the common.

"Hi, there! Hi!" His tone rang with menace.

Every member of the company - and there were some twelve in all
- stood at gaze. Pantaloon advanced a step or two, stalking, his
head thrown back, his manner that of a King's Lieutenant.

"Now, what the devil's this?" quoth he, but whether of Fate or
Heaven or the sergeant, was not clear.

There was a brief colloquy among the horsemen, then they came
trotting across the common straight towards the players' encampment.

Andre-Louis had remained standing at the tail of the travelling
house. He was still passing the comb through his straggling hair,
but mechanically and unconsciously. His mind was all intent upon
the advancing troop, his wits alert and gathered together for a leap
in whatever direction should be indicated.

Still in the distance, but evidently impatient, the sergeant bawled
a question.

"Who gave you leave to encamp here?"

It was a question that reassured Andre-Louis not at all. He was
not deceived by it into supposing or even hoping that the business
of these men was merely to round up vagrants and trespassers. That
was no part of their real duty; it was something done in passing
- done, perhaps, in the hope of levying a tax of their own. It
was very long odds that they were from Rennes, and that their real
business was the hunting down of a young lawyer charged with
sedition. Meanwhile Pantaloon was shouting back.

"Who gave us leave, do you say? What leave? This is communal land,
free to all."

The sergeant laughed unpleasantly, and came on, his troop following.

"There is," said a voice at Pantaloon's elbow, "no such thing as
communal land in the proper sense in all M. de La Tour d'Azyr's vast
domain. This is a terre censive, and his bailiffs collect his dues
from all who send their beasts to graze here."

Pantaloon turned to behold at his side Andre-Louis in his
shirt-sleeves, and without a neckcloth, the towel still trailing
over his left shoulder, a comb in his hand, his hair half dressed.

"God of God!" swore Pantaloon. "But it is an ogre, this Marquis
de La Tour d'Azyr!"

"I have told you already what I think of him," said Andre-Louis.
"As for these fellows you had better let me deal with them. I have
experience of their kind." And without waiting for Pantaloon's
consent, Andre-Louis stepped forward to meet the advancing men of
the marechaussee. He had realized that here boldness alone could
save him.

When a moment later the sergeant pulled up his horse alongside of
this half-dressed young man, Andre-Louis combed his hair what time
he looked up with a half smile, intended to be friendly, ingenuous,
and disarming.

In spite of it the sergeant hailed him gruffly: "Are you the leader
of this troop of vagabonds?"

"Yes... that is to say, my father, there, is really the leader."
And he jerked a thumb in the direction of M. Pantaloon, who stood
at gaze out of earshot in the background. "What is your pleasure,
captain?"

"My pleasure is to tell you that you are very likely to be gaoled
for this, all the pack of you." His voice was loud and bullying.
It carried across the common to the ears of every member of the
company, and brought them all to stricken attention where they stood.
The lot of strolling players was hard enough without the addition
of gaolings.

"But how so, my captain? This is communal land free to all."

"It is nothing of the kind."

"Where are the fences?" quoth Andre-Louis, waving the hand that
held the comb, as if to indicate the openness of the place.

"Fences!" snorted the sergeant. "What have fences to do with the
matter? This is terre censive. There is no grazing here save by
payment of dues to the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr."

"But we are not grazing," quoth the innocent Andre-Louis.

"To the devil with you, zany! You are not grazing! But your beasts
are grazing!"

"They eat so little," Andre-Louis apologized, and again essayed his
ingratiating smile.

The sergeant grew more terrible than ever. "That is not the point.
The point is that you are committing what amounts to a theft, and
there's the gaol for thieves."

"Technically, I suppose you are right," sighed Andre-Louis, and
fell to combing his hair again, still looking up into the sergeant's
face. "But we have sinned in ignorance. We are grateful to you for
the warning." He passed the comb into his left hand, and with his
right fumbled in his breeches' pocket, whence there came a faint
jingle of coins. "We are desolated to have brought you out of your
way. Perhaps for their trouble your men would honour us by stopping
at the next inn to drink the health of... of this M. de La Tour d'
Azyr, or any other health that they think proper.

Some of the clouds lifted from the sergeant's brow. But not yet all.

"Well, well," said he, gruffly. "But you must decamp, you
understand." He leaned from the saddle to bring his recipient hand
to a convenient distance. Andre-Louis placed in it a three-livre
piece.

"In half an hour," said Andre-Louis.

"Why in half an hour? Why not at once?"

"Oh, but time to break our fast."

They looked at each other. The sergeant next considered the broad
piece of silver in his palm. Then at last his features relaxed from
their sternness.

"After all," said he, "it is none of our business to play the
tipstaves for M. de La Tour d'Azyr. We are of the marechaussee
from Rennes." Andre-Louis' eyelids played him false by flickering.
"But if you linger, look out for the gardes-champetres of the
Marquis. You'll find them not at all accommodating. Well, well
- a good appetite to you, monsieur," said he, in valediction.

"A pleasant ride, my captain," answered Andre-Louis.

The sergeant wheeled his horse about, his troop wheeled with him.
They were starting off, when he reined up again.

"You, monsieur!" he called over his shoulder. In a bound
Andre-Louis was beside his stirrup. "We are in quest of a scoundrel
named Andre-Louis Moreau, from Gavrillac, a fugitive from justice
wanted for the gallows on a matter of sedition. You've seen nothing,
I suppose, of a man whose movements seemed to you suspicious?"

"Indeed, we have," said Andre-Louis, very boldly, his face eager
with consciousness of the ability to oblige.

"You have?" cried the sergeant, in a ringing voice. "Where? When?"

"Yesterday evening in the neighbourhood of Guignen... "

"Yes, yes," the sergeant felt himself hot upon the trail.

"There was a fellow who seemed very fearful of being recognized
... a man of fifty or thereabouts... "

"Fifty!" cried the sergeant, and his face fell. "Bah! This man of
ours is no older than yourself, a thin wisp of a fellow of about
your own height and of black hair, just like your own, by the
description. Keep a lookout on your travels, master player. The
King's Lieutenant in Rennes has sent us word this morning that he
will pay ten louis to any one giving information that will lead to
this scoundrel's arrest. So there 's ten louis to be earned by
keeping your eyes open, and sending word to the nearest justices.
It would be a fine windfall for you, that."

"A fine windfall, indeed, captain," answered Andre-Louis, laughing.

But the sergeant had touched his horse with the spur, and was
already trotting off in the wake of his men. Andre-Louis continued
to laugh, quite silently, as he sometimes did when the humour of a
jest was peculiarly keen.

Then he turned slowly about, and came back towards Pantaloon and
the rest of the company, who were now all grouped together, at gaze.

Pantaloon advanced to meet him with both hands out-held. For a
moment Andre-Louis thought he was about to be embraced.

"We hail you our saviour!" the big man declaimed. "Already the
shadow of the gaol was creeping over us, chilling us to the very
marrow. For though we be poor, yet are we all honest folk and not
one of us has ever suffered the indignity of prison. Nor is there
one of us would survive it. But for you, my friend, it might have
happened. What magic did you work?"

"The magic that is to be worked in France with a King's portrait.
The French are a very loyal nation, as you will have observed. They
love their King - and his portrait even better than himself,
especially when it is wrought in gold. But even in silver it is
respected. The sergeant was so overcome by the sight of that noble
visage - on a three-livre piece - that his anger vanished, and he
has gone his ways leaving us to depart in peace."

"Ah, true! He said we must decamp. About it, my lads! Come,
come... "

"But not until after breakfast," said Andre-Louis. "A half-hour
for breakfast was conceded us by that loyal fellow, so deeply was
he touched. True, he spoke of possible gardes-champetres. But he
knows as well as I do that they are not seriously to be feared, and
that if they came, again the King's portrait - wrought in copper
this time - would produce the same melting effect upon them. So, my
dear M. Pantaloon, break your fast at your ease. I can smell your
cooking from here, and from the smell I argue that there is no need
to wish you a good appetite."

"My friend, my saviour!" Pantaloon flung a great arm about the young
man's shoulders. "You shall stay to breakfast with us."

"I confess to a hope that you would ask me," said Andre-Louis.





Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
Category:
General Fiction

Romance Literature
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