List Of Contents | Contents of St. Martin's Summer, by Rafael Sabatini
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some of us."

Arsenio whistled.  "Tell me more," said he.

Garnache rose with the air of one about to depart.

"I must think of it," said he, and he made shift to go.  But the
other's hand fell with a clenching grip upon his arm.

"Of what must you think, fool?" said he.  "Tell me this service you
have been offered.  I have a conscience that upbraids me.  If you
refuse these fifty pistoles, why should not I profit by your folly?"

"There would not be the need.  Two men are required for the thing I
speak of, and there are fifty pistoles for each.  If I decide to
undertake the task, I'll speak of you as a likely second."

He nodded gloomily to his companion, and shaking off his hold he set
out to cross the yard.  But Arsenio was after him and had fastened
again upon his arm, detaining him.

"You fool!" said he; "you'd not refuse this fortune ?"

"It would mean treachery," whispered Garnache.

"That is bad," the other agreed, and his face fell.  But remembering
what Garnache had said, he was quick to brighten again.  "Is it to
these folk here at Condillac?" he asked.  Garnache nodded.  "And
they would pay - these people that seek our service would pay you
fifty pistoles?"

"They seek my service only, as yet.  They might seek yours were I
to speak for you."

"And you will, compatriot.  You will, will you not?  We are comrades,
we are friends, and we are fellow-countrymen in a strange land.  There
is nothing I would not do for you, Battista.  Look, I would die for
you if there should come the need!  Body of Bacchus! I would.  I am
like that when I love a man."

Garnache patted his shoulder.  "You are a good fellow, Arsenio."

"And you will speak for me?"

"But you do not know the nature of the service," said Garnache.
"You may refuse it when it is definitely offered you."

"Refuse fifty pistoles?  I should deserve to be the pauper that I
am if such had been my habits.  Be the service what it may, my
conscience pricks me for serving Condillac.  Tell me how the fifty
pistoles are to be earned, and you may count upon me to put my hand
to anything."

Garnache was satisfied.  But he told Arsenio no more that day,
beyond assuring him he would speak for him and let him know upon the
morrow.  Nor on the morrow, when they returned to the subject at
Arsenio's eager demand, did Garnache tell him all, or even that the
service was mademoiselle's.  Instead he pretended that it was some
one in Grenoble who needed two such men as they.

"Word has been brought me," he said mysteriously.  "You must not
ask me how."

"But how the devil are we to reach Grenoble?  The Captain will never
let us go," said Arsenio, in an ill-humour.

"On the night that you are of the watch, Arsenio, we will depart
together without asking the Captain's leave.  You shall open the
postern when I come to join you here in the courtyard."

"But what of the man at the door yonder?"  And he jerked his thumb
towards the tower where mademoiselle was a captive, and where at
night "Battista" was locked in with her.  At the door leading to
the courtyard a sentry was always posted for greater security.  That
door and that sentry were obstacles which Garnache saw the futility
of attempting to overcome without aid.  That was why he had been
forced to enlist Arsenio's assistance.

"You must account for him, Arsenio," said he.

"Thus?" inquired Arsenio coolly, and he passed the edge of his hand
significantly across his throat.  Garnache shook his head.

"No," said he; "there will be no need for that.  A blow over the
head will suffice.  Besides, it may be quieter.  You will find the
key of the tower in his belt.  When you hate felled him, get it and
unlock the door; then whistle for me.  The rest will be easy."

"You are sure he has the key?"

"I have it from madame herself.  They were forced to leave it with
him to provide for emergencies.  Mademoiselle's attempted escape by
the window showed them the necessity for it."  He did not add that
it was the implicit confidence they reposed in "Battista" himself
that had overcome their reluctance to leave the key with the sentry.

To seal the bargain, and in earnest of all the gold to come, Garnache
gave Arsenio a couple of gold louis as a loan to be repaid him when
their nameless employer should pay him his fifty pistoles in Grenoble.

The sight and touch of the gold convinced Arsenio that the thing was
no dream.  He told Garnache that he believed he would be on guard-duty
on the night of the following Wednesday - this was Friday - and so for
Wednesday next they left the execution of their plans unless, meantime,
a change should be effected in the disposition of the sentries.



Monsieur de Garnache was pleased with the issue of his little affair
with Arsenio.

"Mademoiselle," he told Valerie that evening, "I was right to have
faith in my luck, right to believe that the tide of it is flowing.
All we need now is a little patience; everything has become easy."

It was the hour of supper.  Valerie was at table in her anteroom,
and "Battista" was in attendance.  It was an added duty they had
imposed upon him, for, since her attempt to escape, mademoiselle's
imprisonment had been rendered more rigorous than ever.  No servant
of the chateau was allowed past the door of the outer anteroom, now
commonly spoken of as the guardroom of the tower.  Valerie dined
daily in the salon with Madame de Condillac and Marius, but her
other meals were served her in her own apartments.  The servants
who brought the meals from the kitchen delivered them to "Battista"
in the guardroom, and he it was who laid the cloth and waited upon
mademoiselle.  At first this added duty had irritated him more than
all that he had so far endured.  Had he Martin Marie Rigobert de
Garnache lived to discharge the duties of a lackey, to bear dishes
to a lady's table and to remain at hand to serve her?  The very
thought had all but set him in a rage.  But presently he grew
reconciled to it.  It afforded him particular opportunities of being
in mademoiselle's presence and of conferring with her; and for the
sake of such an advantage he might well belittle the unsavoury part
of the affair.

A half-dozen candles burned in two gleaming silver sconces on the
table; in her tall-backed leather chair mademoiselle sat, and ate
and drank but little, while Garnache told her of the preparations
he had made.

"If my luck but holds until Wednesday next," he concluded, "you may
count upon being well out of Condillac.  Arsenio does not dream that
you come with us, so that even should he change his mind, at least
we have no cause to fear a betrayal.  But he will not change his
mind.  The prospect of fifty pistoles has rendered it immutable."

She looked up at him with eyes brightened by hope and by the
encouragement to count upon success which she gathered from his

"You have contrived it marvellously well," she praised him.  "If we
succeed - "

"Say when we succeed, mademoiselle," he laughingly corrected her.

"Very well, then - when we shall have succeeded in leaving Condillac,
whither am I to go?"

"Why, with me, to Paris, as was determined.  My man awaits me at
Voiron with money and horses.  No further obstacle shall rise to
hamper us once our backs are turned upon the ugly walls of Condillac.
The Queen shall make you welcome and keep you safe until Monsieur
Florimond comes to claim his bride."

She sipped her wine, then set down the glass and leaned her elbow
on the table, taking her chin in her fine white hand.  "Madame tells
me that he is dead," said she, and Garnache was shocked at the
comparative calmness with which she said it.  He looked at her
sharply from under his sooted brows.  Was she, after all, he
wondered, no different from other women?  Was she cold and
calculating, and had she as little heart as he had come to believe
was usual with her sex, that she could contemplate so calmly the
possibility of her lover being dead?  He had thought her better,
more natural, more large-hearted and more pure.  That had encouraged
him to stand by her in these straits of hers, no matter at what loss
of dignity to himself.  It began to seem that his conclusions had
been wrong.

His silence caused her to look up, and in his face she read
something of what was passing in his thoughts.  She smiled rather

"You are thinking me heartless, Monsieur de Garnache?"

"I am thinking you - womanly."

"The same thing, then, to your mind.  Tell me, monsieur, do you
know much of women?"

"God forbid!  I have found trouble enough in any life."

"And you pass judgment thus upon a sex with which you have no

"Not by acquaintance only is it that we come to knowledge.  There
are ways of learning other than by the road of experience.  One
may learn of dangers by watching others perish.  It is the fool
who will be satisfied alone with the knowledge that comes to him
from what he undergoes himself."

"You are very wise, monsieur," said she demurely, so demurely that
he suspected her of laughing at him.  "You were never wed?"

"Never, mademoiselle," he answered stiffly, "nor ever in any danger
of it."

"Must you, indeed, account it a danger?"

"A deadly peril, mademoiselle," said he; whereupon they both laughed.

She pushed back her chair and rose slowly.  Slowly she passed from
the table and stepped towards the window.  Turning she set her back
to it, and faced him.

"Monsieur de Garnache," said she, "you are a good man, a true and
noble gentleman.  I would that you thought a little better of us.
All women are not contemptible, believe me.  I will pray that you
may yet mate with one who will prove to you the truth of what I say."

He smiled gently, and shook his head.

"My child," said he, "I am not half the noble fellow you account me.
I have a stubborn pride that stands me at times in the stead of
virtue.  It was pride brought me back here, for instance.  I could
not brook the laughter that would greet me in Paris did I confess
that I was beaten by the Dowager of Condillac.  I tell you this to
the end that, thinking less well of me, you may spare me prayers
which I should dread to see fulfilled.  I have told you before,
mademoiselle, Heaven is likely to answer the prayers of such a heart
as yours."

"Yet but a moment back you deemed me heartless," she reminded him.

"You seemed so indifferent to the fate of Florimond de Condillac."

"I must have seemed, then, what I am not," she told him, "for I am
far from indifferent to Florimond's fate.  The truth is, monsieur,
I do not believe Madame de Condillac.  Knowing me to be under a
promise that naught can prevail upon me to break, she would have me
believe that nature has dissolved the obligation for me.  She thinks
that were I persuaded of Florimond's death, I might turn an ear to
the wooing of Marius.  But she is mistaken, utterly mistaken; and
so I sought to convince her.  My father willed that I should wed
Florimond.  Florimond's father had been his dearest friend.  I
promised him that I would do his will, and by that promise I am
bound.  But were Florimond indeed dead, and were I free to choose,
I should not choose Marius were he the only man in all the world."

Garnache moved nearer to her.

"You speak," said he, "as if you were indifferent in the matter of
wedding Florimond, whilst I understand that your letter to the
Queen professed you eager for the alliance.  I may be impertinent,
but, frankly, your attitude puzzles me."

"I am not indifferent," she answered him, but calmly, without
enthusiasm.  "Florimond and I were playmates, and as a little child
I loved him and admired him as I might have loved and admired a
brother perhaps.  He is comely, honourable, and true.  I believe he
would be the kindest husband ever woman had, and so I am content to
give my life into his keeping.  What more can be needed?"

"Never ask me, mademoiselle; I am by no means an authority," said
he.  "But you appear to have been well schooled in a most excellent
philosophy." And he laughed outright.  She reddened under his

"It was thus my father taught me," said she, in quieter tones; "and
he was the wisest man I ever knew, just as he was the noblest and
the bravest."

Garnache bowed his head.  "God rest his soul!" said he with
respectful fervour.

"Amen," the girl replied, and they fell silent.

Presently she returned to the subject of her betrothed.

"If Florimond is living, this prolonged absence, this lack of news
is very strange.  It is three months since last we heard of him -
four months, indeed.  Yet he must have been apprised of his father's
death, and that should have occasioned his return."

"Was he indeed apprised of it?" inquired Garnache.  "Did you,
yourself, communicate the news to him?"

"I?" she cried.  "But no, monsieur.  We do not correspond."

"That is a pity," said Garnache, "for I believe that the knowledge
of the Marquis's death was kept from him by his stepmother."

"Mon Dieu!" she exclaimed, in horror.  "Do you mean that he may
still be in ignorance of it?"

"Not that.  A month ago a courier was dispatched to him by the
Queen-Mother.  The last news of him some four months old, as you
have said - reported him at Milan in the service of Spain.  Thither
was the courier sent to find him and to deliver him letters setting
forth what was toward at Condillac."

"A month ago?" she said.  "And still we have no word.  I am full of
fears for him, monsieur."

"And I," said Garnache, "am full of hope that we shall have news of
him at any moment."

That he was well justified of his hope was to be proven before they
were many days older.  Meanwhile Garnache continued to play his part
of gaoler to the entire satisfaction and increased confidence of the
Condillacs, what time he waited patiently for the appointed night
when it should be his friend Arsenio's turn to take the guard.

On that fateful Wednesday "Battista" sought out - as had now become
his invariable custom - his compatriot as soon as the time of his
noontide rest was come, the hour at which they dined at Condillac.
He found Arsenio sunning himself in the outer courtyard, for it
seemed that year that as the winter approached the warmth increased.
Never could man remember such a Saint Martin's Summer as was this.

In so far as the matter of their impending flight was concerned,
"Battista" was as brief as he could be.

"Is all well?" he asked.  "Shall you be on guard to-night?"

"Yes.  It is my watch from sunset till dawn.  At what hour shall we
be stirring?"

Garnache pondered a moment, stroking that firm chin of his, on which
the erstwhile stubble had now grown into a straggling, unkempt beard
 - and it plagued him not a little, for a close observer might have
discovered that it was of a lighter colour at the roots.  His hair,
too, was beginning to lose its glossy blackness.  It was turning
dull, and presently, no doubt, it would begin to pale, so that it was
high time he spread his wings and took flight from Condillac.

"We had best wait until midnight.  It will give them time to be

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