List Of Contents | Contents of St. Martin's Summer, by Rafael Sabatini
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spirits, and it quenched the Dowager's thirst.  The Seneschal turned
to her again with his unanswered questions touching the end of that
butchery above-stairs.  She told him what Fortunio had said that
Garnache was drowned as a consequence of his mad leap from the window.

Into Tressan's mind there sprang the memory of the thing Garnache had
promised should befall him in such a case.  It drove the colour from
his cheeks and brought great lines of fearful care into sharp relief
about his mouth and eyes.

"Madame, we are ruined!" he groaned.

"Tressan," she answered him contemptuously, "you are chicken-hearted.
Listen to me.  Did he not say that he had left his man behind him
when he came to Condillac?  Where think you that he left his man?"

"Maybe in Grenoble," answered the Seneschal, staring.

"Find out," she told him impressively, her eyes on his, and calm
as though they had never looked upon such sights as that very night
had offered them.  "If not in Grenoble, certainly, at least,
somewhere in this Dauphiny of which you are the King's Lord
Seneschal.  Turn the whole province inside out, man, but find the
fellow.  Yours is the power to do it.  Do it, then, and you will
have no consequences to fear.  You have seen the man?"

"Ay, I have seen him.  I remember him; and his name, I bethink me,
is Rabecque."

He took courage; his face looked less dejected.

"You overlook nothing, madame," he murmured.  "You are truly
wonderful.  I will start the search this very night.  My men are
almost all at Montelimar awaiting my commands.  I'll dispatch a
messenger with orders that they are to spread themselves throughout
Dauphiny upon this quest."

The door opened, and Fortunio entered.  He was still unwashed and
terrible to look upon, all blood-bespattered.  The sight of him drove
a shudder through Tressan.  The Marquise grew solicitous.

"How is your wound, Fortunio?" was her first question.

He made a gesture that dismissed the matter.

"It is nothing.  I am over full-blooded, and if I am scratched, I
bleed, without perceiving it, enough to drain another man."

"Here, drink, mon capitaine," she urged him, very friendly, filling
him a cup with her own hands.  "And you, Marius?" she asked.  "Are
you recovering strength?"

"I am well," answered Marius sullenly.  His defeat that evening had
left him glum and morose.  He felt that he had cut a sorry figure
in the affair, and his vanity was wounded.  "I deplore I had so
little share in the fight," he muttered.

"The lustiest fight ever I or any man beheld," swore Fortunio.
"Dieu!  But he was a fighter, that Monsieur de Garnache, and he
deserved a better end than drowning."

"You are quite sure that he is drowned?"

Fortunio replied by giving his reasons for that conclusion, and
they convinced both the Marquise and her son indeed they had never
deemed it possible that the Parisian could have survived that awful
leap.  The Dowager looked at Marius, and from him to the captain.

"Do you think, you two, that you will be fit for tomorrow's business?"

"For myself," laughed Fortunio, "I am ready for it now."

"And I shall be when I have rested," answered Marius grimly.

"Then get you both to rest, you will be needing it," she bade them.

"And I, too, madame," said the Seneschal, bending over the, hand
she held out to him.  "Good-night to you all."  He would have added
a word to wish them luck in the morrow's venture; but for the life
of him he dared not.  He turned, made another of his bows, and
rolled out of the room.

Five minutes later the drawbridge was being raised after his
departure, and Fortunio was issuing orders to the men he had recalled
from their futile search to go clear the guard-room and antechamber
of the Northern Tower, and to bear the dead to the chapel, which
must serve as a mortuary for the time.  That done he went off to bed,
and soon after the lights were extinguished in Condillac; and save
for Arsenio, who was, on guard, sorely perturbed by all that had
befallen and marvelling at the rashness of his friend "Battista" -
for he had no full particulars of the business - the place was
wrapped in sleep.

Had they been less sure that Garnache was drowned, maybe they had
slumbered less tranquilly that night at Condillac.  Fortunio had
been shrewd in his conclusions, yet a trifle hasty; for whilst, as
a matter of fact, he was correct is assuming that the Parisian had
not crawled out of the moat - neither at the point he had searched,
nor elsewhere - yet was he utterly wrong to assume him at the bottom
of it.

Garnache had gone through that window prepared to leap into another
 - and, he hoped, a better world.  He had spun round twice in the
air and shot feet foremost through the chill waters of the moat, and
down until his toes came in contact with a less yielding substance,
yet yielding nevertheless.  Marvelling that he should have retained
until now his senses, he realized betimes that he was touching mud
 - that he was really ankle deep in it.  A vigorous, frantic kick
with both legs at once released him, and he felt himself slowly
re-ascending to the surface.

It has been often said that a drowning man in his struggles sees
his whole life mirrored before him.  In the instants of Garnache's
ascent through the half stagnant waters of that moat he had reviewed
the entire situation and determined upon the course he should pursue.
When he reached the surface, he must see to it that he broke it
gently, for at the window above were sure to be watchers, looking to
see how he had fared.  Madame, he remembered, had sent Tressan for
muskets.  If he had returned with them and they should perceive him
from above, a bullet would be sent to dispose of him, and it were a
pity to be shot now after having come through so much.

His head broke the surface and emerged into the chill darkness of
the night.  He took a deep breath of cold but very welcome air, and
moving his arms gently under water, he swam quietly, not to the edge
of the moat but to the chateau wall, close under which he thought
he would be secure from observation.  He found by good fortune a
crevice between two stones; he did not see it, his fingers found it
for him as they groped along that granite surface.  He clung there
a moment and pondered the situation.  He heard voices above, and
looking up he saw the glare of light through the opening he had

And now he was surprised to feel new vigour running through him.  He
had hurled himself from that window with scarce the power to leap,
bathed in perspiration and deeming his strength utterly spent.  The
ice-cold waters of the moat had served, it would seem, to brace him,
to wash away his fatigue, and to renew his energies.  His mind was
singularly clear and his senses rendered superacute, and he set
himself to consider what he had best do.

Swim to the edge of the moat and, clambering out, take to his legs
was naturally the first impulse.  But, reflecting upon the open
nature of the ground, he realized that that must mean his ruin.
Presently they would come to see how he had fared, and failing to
find him in the water they would search the country round about.  He
set himself in their place.  He tried to think as they would think,
the better that he might realize how they would act, and then an
idea came to him that might be worth heeding.  In any case his
situation was still very desperate; on that score he allowed himself
no illusions.  That they would take his drowning for granted, and
never come to satisfy themselves, he was not optimist enough to

He abandoned his grip of the wall and began to swim gently toward
the eastern angle.  If they came out, they must lower the bridge;
he would place himself so that in falling it should cover him and
screen him from their sight.  He rounded the angle of the building,
and now the friendly cloud that had hung across the moon moved by,
and a faint, silver radiance was upon the water under his eyes.  But
yonder, ahead of him, something black lay athwart the moat.  At once
he knew it for the bridge.  It was down.  And he had the explanation
in that he remembered that the Lord Seneschal had not yet left
Condillac.  It mattered little to him one way or the other.  The
bridge was there, and he made the best of it.

A few swift, silent strokes brought him to it.  He hesitated a moment
before venturing into the darkness underneath; then, bethinking him
that it was that or discovery, he passed under.  He made for the
wall, and as he groped along he found a chain depending and reaching
down into the water.  He caught at it with both hands and hung by it
to await events.

And now, for the first time that night, his pulses really quickened.
There in the dark he waited, and the moments that sped seemed very
long to him, and they were very anxious.  He had no good sword
wherewith to defend himself were he attacked, no good, solid ground
on which to take his stand.  If he were discovered, he was helpless,
at their mercy, to shoot, or take, or beat to death as best they
listed.  And so he waited, his pulses throbbing, his breath coming
short and fast.  The cold water that had invigorated him some minutes
ago was numbing him now, and seemed to be freezing his courage as it
froze the blood in his veins, the very marrow in his bones.

Presently his ears caught a rush of feet, a sound of voices, and
Fortunio's raised above the others.  Heavy steps rang on the bridge
over his head, and the thud of their fall was like thunder to the
man beneath.  A crimson splash of light fell on the moat on either
side of him.  The fellow on the bridge had halted.  Then the steps
went on.  The light flared this way and that, and Garnache almost
trembled, expecting at every moment that its rays would penetrate
the spot where he was hanging and reveal him cowering there like a
frightened water-rat.  But the man moved on, and his light flared no

Then others followed him.  Garnache heard the sounds of their search.
So overwrought was he that there was a moment when he thought of
swimming to the edge and making across the country to the north while
they were hunting the meadows to the east; but he repressed the
impulse and stayed on.  An eternity did it seem before those men
returned and marched once more over his head.  A further eternity
was it until the clatter of hoofs on the courtyard stones and their
thunder on the planks above him brought him the news that Tressan
was riding home.  He heard the hoofs quicken, and their loud rattle
on the road that led down to the Isere, a half-mile away; and then,
when the hoof-beats grew more distant, there came again the echo of
voices up above.

Was it not over yet?  Dear God! would it never end?  He felt that a
few moments more of this immersion and he should be done for utterly;
his numbness must rob him of the power to cross the moat.

Suddenly the first welcome sound he had heard that night came to his
ears.  Chains creaked, hinges groaned, and the great black pall above
him began gradually to rise.  Faster it went, till, at last, it fell
back into position, flat with the wall of the chateau, and such
little light as there was from the moon was beating down upon his
frozen face.

He let the chain go, and, with strokes swift and silent as he could
contrive, he crossed the water.  He clambered up the bank, almost
bereft of strength.  A moment he crouched there listening.  Had he
moved too soon?  Had he been incautious?

Nothing stirred behind him to confirm his fears.  He crept softly
across the hard ground of the road where he had landed.  Then, when
the yielding, silent turf was under his feet, he gave not another
thought for his numbness, but started to run as a man runs in a
nightmare, so little did the speed of his movements match the pace
of his desire to set a distance between himself and Condillac.



It wanted something over an hour to midnight when Monsieur de
Garnache started out in his sodden clothes to run from Condillac.
He bore away to the north, and continued running until he had
covered a mile or so, when perforce he must slacken his pace lest
presently he should have to give way to utter exhaustion.  He
trudged on bravely thereafter, at a good, swinging pace, realizing
that in moving briskly lay his salvation from such ill effects as
might otherwise attend his too long immersion.  His run had set a
pleasant glow upon his skin and seemed to have thawed the frozen
condition of his joints.  Yet he could not disguise from himself
that he was sorely worn by that night's happenings, and that, if
he would reach his goal, he must carefully husband such strength
as yet remained him.

That goal of his was Voiron, some four leagues distant to the north,
where, at the inn of the Beau Paon, his man, Rabecque, should be
lodged, ready for his coming at any time.  Once already, when
repairing to Condillac, he had travelled by that road, and it was
so direct that there seemed scant fear of his mistaking it.  On he
plodded through the night, his way lighted for him by the crescent
moon, the air so still that, despite his wet garments, being warmed
as he was by his brisk movements, he never felt the cold of it.

He had overheard enough of what had been said by Marius to Valerie
to understand the business that was afoot for the morrow, and he
doubted him that he had not sufficiently injured the Dowager's son
to make him refrain from or adjourn his murderous ride across the
border into Savoy.

Garnache's purpose now was to reach Voiron, there to snatch a brief
rest, and then, equipped anew to set out with his man for La Rochette
and anticipate the fell plans of Marius and Fortunio.

He might have experienced elation at his almost miraculous escape
and at the circumstance that he was still at large to carry this
duel with the Condillacs to a fitting finish, were it not for the
reflection that but for his besetting sin of hastiness he might now
be travelling in dry garments toward La Rochette, with mademoiselle
beside him.  Once again that rash temper of his had marred an
enterprise that was on the point of succeeding.  And yet, even as
he regretted his rashness, rage stirred him again at the thought of
Marius crushing that slender shape against him and seeking to force
his odious kisses upon her pure, immaculate lips.  And then the
thought of her, left behind at Condillac at the mercy of Marius and
that she-devil the Marquise, and the fears that of a sudden leapt
up in his mind, brought him to a standstill, as though he were
contemplating the incomparable folly of a return.  He beat his hands
together for a moment in a frenzy of anguish; he threw back his head
and raised his eyes to the sky above with a burst of imprecations
on his lips.  And then reflection brought him peace.  No, no; they
dare offer her no hurt.  To do so must irrevocably lose them La
Vauvraye; and it was their covetousness had made them villains.
Upon that covetousness did their villainy rest, and he need fear
from them no wanton ruthlessness that should endanger their chance

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