List Of Contents | Contents of St. Martin's Summer, by Rafael Sabatini
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have felt it in my nature to love which Heaven forbid! - these means
by which you have sought to bring that thing about could but have
resulted in making me hate him as I do."

The Dowager's fears were banished from her mind at that, and with
them went all thought of conciliating Valerie.  Anger gleamed in her
eyes; the set of her lips grew suddenly sneering and cruel, so that
the beauty of her face but served to render it hateful the more.

"So that you hate him, ma mie?" a ripple of mockery on the current
of her voice, "and he a man such as any girl in France might be
proud to wed.  Well, well, you are not to be constrained, you say."
And the Marquise's laugh was menacing and unpleasant.  "Be not so
sure, mademoiselle.  Be not so sure of that.  It may well betide
that you shall come to beg upon your knees for this alliance with
a man whom you tell me that you hate.  Be not so sure you cannot be

Their eyes met; both women were white to the lips, but it was
curbed passion in the one, and deadly fear in the other; for what
the Dowager's words left unsaid her eyes most eloquently conveyed.
The girl shrank back, her hands clenched, her lip caught in her

"There is a God in heaven, madame," she reminded the Marquise.

"Aye - in heaven," laughed the Marquise, turning to depart.  She
paused by the door, which the Italian had sprung forward to open
for her.

"Marius shall take the air with you in the morning if it is fine.
Ponder meanwhile what I have said."

"Does this man remain here, madame?" inquired the girl, vainly
seeking to render her voice steady.

"In the outer anteroom is his place: but as the key of this room is
on his side of the door, he may enter here when he so pleases, or
when he thinks that he has reason to.  If the sight of him displeases
you, you may lock yourself from it in your own chamber yonder."

The same she said in Italian to the man, who bowed impassively, and
followed the Dowager into the outer room, closing the door upon
mademoiselle.  It was a chamber almost bare of furniture, save for
a table and chair which had been placed there, so that the gaoler
might take his meals.

The man followed the Marquise across the bare floor, their steps
resounding as they went, and he held the outer door for her.

Without another word she left him, and where he stood he could hear
her steps as she tripped down the winding staircase of stone.  At
last the door of the courtyard closed with a bang, and the grating
of a key announced to the mercenary that he and his charge were both
imprisoned in that tower of the Chateau de Condillac.

Left alone in the anteroom, mademoiselle crossed to the window and
dropped limply into a chair.  Her face was still very white, her
heart beating tumultuously, for the horrid threat that had been
conveyed in the Dowager's words had brought her her first thrill of
real fear since the beginning of this wooing-by-force three months
ago, a wooing which had become more insistent and less like a wooing
day by day, until it had culminated in her present helpless position.

She was a strong-souled, high-spirited girl, but tonight hope seemed
extinguished in her breast.  Florimond, too, seemed to have abandoned
her.  Either he had forgotten her, or he was dead, as the Dowager
said.  Which might be the true state of things she did not greatly
care.  The realization of how utterly she was in the power of Madame
de Condillac and her son, and the sudden chance discovery of how
unscrupulously that power might be wielded, filled her mind to the
exclusion of all else.

By the window she sat, watching, without heeding them, the fading
colours in the sky.  She was abandoned to these monsters, and it
seemed they would devour her.  She could hope for no help from
outside since they had as she believed - slain Monsieur de Garnache.
Her mind dwelt for a moment on that glimpse of rescue that had been
hers a week ago, upon the few hours of liberty which she had enjoyed,
but which only seemed now to increase the dark hopelessness of her

Again with the eyes of her mind she beheld that grim, stalwart
figure, saw his great nose, his greying hair, his fierce mustachios
and his stern, quick eyes.  Again she heard the rasp of his metallic
voice with its brisk derision.  She saw him in the hall below, his
foot upon the neck of that popinjay of Condillac daring them all to
draw a breath, should he forbid it; again in fancy she rode on the
withers of his horse at the gallop towards Grenoble.  A sigh escaped
her.  Surely that was the first man who was indeed a man she had ever
set eyes on since her father died.  Had Garnache been spared, she
would have felt courage and she would have hoped, for there was
something about him that suggested energy and resource such as it is
good to lean upon in times of stress.  Again she heard that brisk,
metallic voice: "Are you content, madame?  Have you had fine deeds
enough for one day?"

And then, breaking in upon her musings came the very voice of her
day-dream, so suddenly, sounding so natural and lifelike that she
almost screamed, so startled was she.

"Mademoiselle," it said, "I beg that you'll not utterly lose heart.
I have come back to the thing Her Majesty bade me do, and I'll do
it, in spite of that tigress and her cub."

She sat still as a statue, scarce breathing, her eyes fixed upon
the violet sky.  The voice had ceased, but still she sat on.  Then
it was slowly borne in upon her that that was no dream-voice, no
trick of her overburdened mind.  A voice, a living, actual voice
had uttered those words in this room, here at her elbow.

She turned, and again she almost screamed; for there, just behind
her, his glittering eyes fixed upon her with singular intentness,
stood the swarthy, black-haired Italian gaoler they had given her
because he had no French.

He had come up so quietly behind her that she had not heard his
approach, and he was leaning forward now, with an odd suggestion of
crouching in his attitude, like a beast about to spring.  Yet his
gaze riveted hers as with a fascination.  And so, while she looked,
his lips moved, and from them, in that same voice of her dreams,
came from this man who had no French, the words:

"Be not afraid, mademoiselle.  I am that blunderer, Garnache, that
unworthy fool whose temper ruined what chance of saving you he had
a week ago."

She stared like one going mad.

"Garnache!" said she, m a husky whisper.  "You Garnache?"

Yet the voice, she knew, was Garnache's and none other.  It was a
voice not easily mistaken.  And now, as she looked and looked, she
saw that the man's nose was Garnache's, though oddly stained, and
those keen eyes, they were Garnache's too.  But the hair that had
been brown and flecked with grey was black; the reddish mustachios
that had bristled like a mountain cat's were black, too, and they
hung limp and hid from sight the fine lines of his mouth.  A
hideous stubble of unshorn beard defaced his chin and face, and
altered its sharp outline; and the clear, healthy skin that she
remembered was now a dirty brown.

Suddenly the face smiled, and it was a smile that reassured her and
drove away the last doubt that she had.  She was on her feet in an

"Monsieur, monsieur," was all that she could say; but her longing
was to fling her arms about the neck of this man, as she might have
flung them about the neck of a brother or a father, and sob out upon
his shoulder the sudden relief and revulsion that his presence

Garnache saw something of her agitation, and to relieve it he smiled
and began to tell her the circumstances of his return and his
presentation to Madame as a knave who had no French.

"Fortune was very good to me, mademoiselle," said he.  "I had little
hope that such a face as mine could be disguised, but I take no
pride in what you see.  It is the handiwork of Rabecque, the most
ingenious lackey that ever served a foolish master.  It helped me
that having been ten years in Italy when I was younger, I acquired
the language so well as to be able to impose even upon Fortunio.  In
that lay a circumstance which at once disarmed suspicion, and if I
stay not so long as it shall take the dye to wear from my hair and
beard and the staining from my face, I shall have little to fear."

"But, monsieur," she cried, "you have everything to fear!"  And
alarm grew in her eyes.

But he laughed again for answer.  "I have faith in my luck,
mademoiselle, and I think I am on the tide of it at present.  I
little hoped when I made my way into Condillac in this array that
I should end, by virtue of my pretended ignorance of French, in
being appointed gaoler to you.  I had some ado to keep the joy from
my eyes when I heard them planning it.  It is a thing that has made
all else easy."

"But what can you do alone, monsieur?" she asked him; and there was
a note almost of petulance in her voice.

He moved to the window, and leaned his elbow on the sill.  The light
was fast fading.  "I know not yet.  But I am here to contrive a
means.  I shall think and watch."

"You know in what hourly peril I am placed," she cried, and suddenly
remembering that he must have overheard and understood the Dowager's
words, a sudden heat came to her cheeks to recede again and leave
them marble-pale.  And she thanked Heaven that in the dusk and in
the shadow where she stood he could but ill make out her face.

"If you think that I have been rash in returning - "

"No, no, not rash, monsieur; noble and brave above all praise.  I
would indeed I could tell you how noble and brave I account your

"It is as nothing to the bravery required to let Rabecque do this
hideous work upon a face for which I have ever entertained some
measure of respect."

He jested, sooner than enlighten her that it was his egregious pride
had fetched him back when he was but a few hours upon his journey
Pariswards, his inability to brook the ridicule that would be his
when he announced at the Luxembourg that failure had attended him.

"Ah, but what can you do alone?" she repeated.

"Give me at least a day or two to devise some means; let me look
round and take the measure of this gaol.  Some way there must be.
I have not come so far and so successfully to be beaten now.  Still,"
he continued, "if you think that I overrate my strength or my
resource, if you would sooner that I sought men and made an assault
upon Condillac, endeavouring to carry it and to let the Queen's will
prevail by force of arms, tell me so, and I am gone tomorrow."

"Whither would you go?" she cried, her voice strained with sudden

"I might seek help at Lyons or Moulins.  I might find loyal soldiers
who would be willing to follow me by virtue of my warrant to levy
such help as I may require, if I but tell them that the help was
refused me in Grenoble.  I am not sure that it would be so, for,
unfortunately, my warrant is for the Seneschal of Dauphiny only.
Still, I might make the attempt."

"No, no," she implored him, and in her eagerness to have him put
all thought of leaving her from his mind, she caught him by the arm
and raised a pleading face to his.  "Do not leave me here, monsieur;
of your pity do not leave me alone amongst them.  Think me a coward
if you will, monsieur: I am no less.  They have made a coward of me."

He understood the thing she dreaded, and a great pity welled up
from his generous heart for this poor unfriended girl at the mercy
of the beautiful witch of Condillac and her beautiful rascally son.
He patted the hand that clutched his arm.

"I think, myself, that it will be best if I remain, now that I
have come so far," he said.  "Let me ponder things.  It may well
be that I shall devise some way."

"May Heaven inspire you, monsieur.  I shall spend the night in
prayer, I think, imploring God and His saints to show you the way
you seek."

"Heaven, I think, should hear your prayers, mademoiselle," he
answered musingly, his glance upon the white, saintly face that
seemed to shine in the deepening gloom.  Then, suddenly he
stirred and bent to listen.

"Sh!  Some one is coming," he whispered.  And he sped quickly from
her side and into the outer room, where he sank noiselessly on to
his chair as the steps ascended the stone staircase and a glow of
yellow light grew gradually in the doorway that opened on to it.



That he might inspire the more confidence in the Dowager and her
son Garnache organized and performed a little comedy at Condillac
a couple of nights after his appointment as mademoiselle's gaoler.
He gave an alarm at dead midnight, and when half-clad men, followed
presently by madame and Marian, rushed into the anteroom where he
stood, a very picture of the wildest excitement, he drew their
attention to two twisted sheets, tied end to end, hanging from the
window which overlooked the moat; and in answer to the marquise's
questions he informed her that he had been disturbed by sounds of
movements and upon entering the chamber he had discovered
mademoiselle making these preparations for departure.

Valerie, locked in the inner chamber, refused to come forth as the
Marquise bade her, but her voice reassured Madame de Condillac of
her presence, and so, since her attempt had failed, madame was
content to let her be.

"The little fool," she said, peering down from the window into the
night; "she would have been killed for certain.  Her rope of sheets
does not reach more than a third of the way down.  She would have
had over thirty feet to fall, and if that had not been enough to
finish her, she would of a certainty have, been drowned in the moat."

She signified her satisfaction with the faithful "Battista's"
vigilance by a present of some gold pieces in the morning, and
since the height of the window and the moat beneath it did not
appear sufficient obstacles to mademoiselle's attempts at effecting
her escape, the Dowager had the window nailed down.  Thus, only by
breaking it could egress be obtained, and the breaking of it could
not be effected without such a noise as must arouse "Battista."

Under Garnache's instructions the comedy was carried a little
further.  Mademoiselle affected for her gaoler a most unconquerable
aversion, and this she took pains to proclaim.

One morning, three days after her attempted escape, she was taking
the air in the garden of Condillac, "Battista," ever watchful, a
few paces behind her, when suddenly she was joined by Marius - a
splendid, graceful figure in a riding-suit of brown velvet and
biscuit-coloured hose, his points tipped with gold, his long boots
of the finest marroquin leather, his liver-coloured hound at his
heels.  It was the last day of October, but the weather, from cold
and wet that it had been for the past fortnight, had taken on a
sudden improvement.  The sun shone, the air was still and warm,
and but for the strewn leaves and the faint smell of decay with
which the breath of autumn is ever laden, one might have fancied
it a day of early spring.

It was not Valerie's wont to pause when Marius approached.  Since

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