List Of Contents | Contents of The Suitors of Yvonne, by Rafael Sabatini
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moment a hand was laid upon my arm, and Yvonne's sweet voice murmured in my

"You have fought a brave and gallant fight, M. de Luynes, and you have done
a deed of which the knights of old might have been proud.  Do not mar it by
an act of murder."

"Murder, Mademoiselle!" I gasped, letting my hand fall.  "Surely there is
no murder in this!"

"A suspicion of it, I think, and so brave a man should have clean hands."



We did not long remain upon the field of battle.  Indeed, if we lingered at
all it was but so that Mademoiselle might bandage Michelot's wound.  And
whilst she did so, my stout henchman related to us how it had fared with
him, and how, having taken the two ruffians separately, he had been wounded
by the first, whom he repaid by splitting his skull, whereupon the second
one had discharged his pistol without effect, then made off towards the
road, whilst Michelot, remembering that I might need assistance, had let
him go.

"There, good Michelot," quoth Mademoiselle, completing her task, "I have
done what little I can.  And now, M. de Luynes, let us go."

It was close upon seven o'clock, and night was at hand.  Already the moon
was showing her large, full face above the tree-tops by Chambord, and
casting a silver streak athwart the stream.  The plash of oars from the
Marquis's boat was waxing indistinct despite the stillness, whilst by the
eye the boat itself was no longer to be distinguished.

As I turned, my glance fell upon the bravo whom I had shot.  He lay stiff
and stark upon his back, his sightless eyes wide open and staring
heavenwards, his face all blood-smeared and ghastly to behold.

Mademoiselle shuddered.  "Let us go," she repeated in a faint whisper; her
eye had also fallen on that thing, and her voice was full of awe.  She laid
her hand upon my sleeve and 'neath the suasion of her touch I moved away.

To our surprise and joy we found St. Auban's coach where we had left it,
with two saddled horses tethered close by.  The others had doubtless been
taken by the coachman and the bravo who had escaped Michelot, both of whom
had fled.  These animals we looked upon as the spoils of war, and
accordingly when we set out in the coach,--Mademoiselle having desired me
to ride beside her therein,--Michelot wielding the reins, it was with those
two horses tethered behind.

"Monsieur de Luynes," said my companion softly, "I fear that I have done
you a great injustice.  Indeed, I know not how to crave your forgiveness,
how to thank you, or how to hide my shame at those words I spoke to you
this afternoon at Canaples."

"Not another word on that score, Mademoiselle!"

And to myself I thought of what recompense already had been mine.  To me it
had been given to have her lean trustingly upon me, my arm about her waist,
whilst, sword in hand, I had fought for her.  Dieu!  Was that not something
to have lived for?--aye, and to have died for, methought.

"I deserved, Monsieur," she continued presently, "that you should have left
me to my fate for all the odious things I uttered when you warned me of my
peril,--for the manner in which I have treated you since your coming to

"You have but treated me, Mademoiselle, in the only manner in which you
could treat one so far beneath you, one who is utterly unworthy that you
should bestow a single regret upon him."

"You are strangely humble to-night, Monsieur.  It is unwonted in you, and
for once you wrong yourself.  You have not said that I am forgiven."

"I have naught to forgive."

"Hélas! you have--indeed you have!"

"Eh, bien!" quoth I, with a return of my old tone of banter, "I forgive

Thereafter we travelled on in silence for some little while, my heart full
of joy at being so near to her, and the friendliness which she evinced for
me, and my mind casting o'er my joyous heart a cloud of some indefinable
evil presage.

"You are a brave man, M. de Luynes," she murmured presently, "and I have
been taught that brave men are ever honourable and true."

"Had they who taught you that known Gaston de Luynes, they would have told
you instead that it is possible for a vile man to have the one redeeming
virtue of courage, even as it is possible for a liar to have a countenance
that is sweet and innocent."

"There speaks that humble mood you are affecting, and which sits upon you
as my father's clothes might do.  Nay, Monsieur, I shall believe in my
first teaching, and be deaf to yours."

Again there was a spell of silence.  At last--"I have been thinking,
Monsieur," she said, "of that other occasion on which you rode with me.  I
remember that you said you had killed a man, and when I asked you why, you
said that you had done it because he sought to kill you.  Was that the

"Assuredly, Mademoiselle.  We fought a duel, and it is customary in a duel
for each to seek to kill the other."

"But why was this duel fought?" she cried, with some petulance.

"I fear me, Mademoiselle, that I may not answer you," I said, recalling the
exact motives, and thinking how futile appeared the quarrel which Eugène de
Canaples had sought with Andrea when viewed in the light of what had since

"Was the quarrel of your seeking?"

"In a measure it was, Mademoiselle."

"In a measure!" she echoed.  Then persisting, as women will--"Will you not
tell me what this measure was?"

"Tenez, Mademoiselle," I answered in despair; "I will tell you just so much
as I may.  Your brother had occasion to be opposed to certain projects that
were being formed in Paris by persons high in power around a beardless boy. 
Himself of too small importance to dare wage war against those powerful
ones who would have crushed him, your brother sought to gain his ends by
sending a challenge to this boy.  The lad was high-spirited and consented
to meet M. de Canaples, by whom he would assuredly have been murdered--'t
is the only word, Mademoiselle--had I not intervened as I did."

She was silent for a moment.  Then--"I believe you, Monsieur," she said
simply.  "You fought, then, to shield another--but why?"

"For three reasons, Mademoiselle.  Firstly, those persons high in power
chose to think it my fault that the quarrel had arisen, and threatened to
hang me if the duel took place and the boy were harmed.  Secondly, I myself
felt a kindness for the boy.  Thirdly, because, whatever sins Heaven may
record against me, it has at least ever been my way to side against men
who, confident of their superiority, seek, with the cowardly courage of the
strong, to harm the weak.  It is, Mademoiselle, the courage of the man who
knows no fear when he strikes a woman, yet who will shake with a palsy when
another man but threatens him."

"Why did you not tell me all this before?" she whispered, after a pause. 
And methought I caught a quaver in her voice.

I laughed for answer, and she read my laugh aright; presently she pursued
her questions and asked me the name of the boy I had defended.  But I
evaded her, telling her that she must need no further details to believe

"It is not that, Monsieur!  I do believe you; I do indeed, but--"

"Hark, Mademoiselle!" I cried suddenly, as the clatter of many hoofs
sounded near at hand.  "What is that?"

A shout rang out at that moment.  "Halt!  Who goes there?"

"Mon Dieu!" exclaimed Mademoiselle, drawing close up to me, and again the
voice sounded, this time more sinister.

"Halt, I say--in the King's name!"

The coach came to a standstill, and through the window I beheld the shadowy
forms of several mounted men, and the feeble glare of a lantern.

"Who travels in the carriage, knave?" came the voice again.

"Mademoiselle de Canaples," answered Michelot; then, like a fool, he must
needs add: "Have a care whom you knave, my master, if you would grow old."

"Pardieu! let us behold this Mademoiselle de Canaples who owns so fearful a
warrior for a coachman."

The door was flung rudely open, and the man bearing the lantern--whose rays
shone upon a uniform of the Cardinal's guards--confronted us.

With a chuckle he flashed the light in my face, then suddenly grew serious.

"Peste!  Is it indeed you, M. de Luynes?" quoth he; adding, with stern
politeness, "It grieves me to disturb you, but I have a warrant for your

He was fumbling in his doublet as he spoke, and during the time I had
leisure to scan his countenance, recognising, to my surprise, a young
lieutenant of the guards who had but recently served with me, and with whom
I had been on terms almost of friendship.  His words, "I have a warrant for
your arrest," came like a bolt from the blue to enlighten me, and to remind
me of what St. Auban had that morning told me, and which for the nonce I
had all but forgotten.

Upon hearing those same words, Yvonne, methought, grew pale, and her eyes
were bent upon me with a look of surprise and pity.

"Upon what charge am I arrested?" I enquired, with forced composure.

"My warrant mentions none, M. de Luynes.  It is here."  And he thrust
before me a paper, whose purport I could have read in its shape and seals. 
Idly my eye ran along the words:

"By these presents I charge and empower my lieutenant, Jean de Montrésor,
to seize where'er he may be found, hold, and conduct to Paris the Sieur
Gaston de Luynes--"

And so further, until the Cardinal's signature ended the legal verbiage.

"In the King's name, M. de Luynes," said Montrésor, firmly yet
deferentially, "your sword!"

It would have been madness to do aught but comply with his request, and so
I surrendered my rapier, which he in his turn delivered to one of his
followers.  Next I stepped down from the coach and turned to take leave of
Mademoiselle, whereupon Montrésor, thinking that peradventure matters were
as they appeared to be between us, and, being a man of fine feelings,
signed to his men to fall back, whilst he himself withdrew a few paces.

"Adieu, Mademoiselle!" I said simply.  "I shall carry with me for
consolation the memory that I have been of service to you, and I shall
ever--during the little time that may be left me--be grateful to Heaven for
the opportunity that it has afforded me of causing you--perchance without
sufficient reason--to think better of me.  Adieu, Mademoiselle!  God guard

It was too dark to see her face, but my heart bounded with joy to catch in
her voice a quaver that argued, methought, regret for me.

"What does it mean, M. de Luynes?  Why are they taking you?"

"Because I have displeased my Lord Cardinal, albeit, Mademoiselle, I swear
to you that I have no cause for shame at the reasons for which I am being

"My father is Monseigneur de Mazarin's friend," she cried.  "He is also
yours.  He shall exert for you what influence he possesses."

"'T were useless, Mademoiselle.  Besides, what does it signify?  Again,

She spoke no answering word, but silently held out her hand.  Silently I
took it in mine, and for a moment I hesitated, thinking of what I was--of
what she was.  At last, moved by some power that was greater than my will,
I stooped and pressed those shapely fingers to my lips.  Then I stepped
suddenly back and closed the carriage door, oppressed by a feeling akin to
that of having done an evil deed.

"Have I your permission to say a word to my servant, M. le Lieutenant?" I

He bowed assent, whereat, stepping close up to the horror-stricken

"Drive straight to the Château de Canaples," I said in a low voice. 
"Thereafter return to the Lys de France and there wait until you hear from
me.  Here, take my purse; there are some fifty pistoles in it."

"Speak but the word, Monsieur," he growled, "and I'll pistol a couple of
these dogs."

"Pah!  You grow childish," I laughed, "or can you not see that fellow's

"Pardieu!  I'll risk his aim!  I never yet saw one of these curs shoot

"No, no, obey me, Michelot.  Think of Mademoiselle.  Go!  Adieu!  If we
should not meet again, mon brave," I finished, as I seized his loyal hand,
"what few things of mine are at the hostelry shall belong to you, as well
as what may be left of this money.  It is little enough payment, Michelot,
for all your faithfulness--"

"Monsieur, Monsieur!" he cried.

"Diable!" I muttered, "we are becoming women!  Be off, you knave!  Adieu!"

The peremptoriness of my tone ended our leave-taking and caused him to grip
his reins and bring down his whip.  The coach moved on.  A white face, on
which the moonlight fell, glanced at me from the window, then to my staring
eyes naught was left but the back of the retreating vehicle, with one of
the two saddle-horses that had been tethered to it still ambling in its

"M. de Montrésor," I said, thrusting my bullet-pierced hat upon my head, "I
am at your service."



At my captor's bidding I mounted the horse which they had untethered from
the carriage, and we started off along the road which the coach itself had
disappeared upon a moment before.  But we travelled at a gentle trot,
which, after that evening's furious riding, was welcome to me.

With bitterness I reflected as I rode that the very moment at which
Mademoiselle de Canaples had brought herself to think better of me was like
to prove the last we should spend together.  Yet not altogether bitter was
that reflection; for with it came also the consolation--whereof I had told
her--that I had not been taken before she had had cause to change her mind
concerning me.

That she should care for me was too preposterous an idea to be nourished,
and, indeed, it was better--much better--that M. de Montrésor had come
before I, grown sanguine as lovers will, had again earned her scorn by
showing her what my heart contained.  Much better was it that I should pass
for ever out of her life--as, indeed, methought I was like to pass out of
all life--whilst I could leave in her mind a kind remembrance and a
grateful regret, free from the stain that a subsequent possible presumption
of mine might have cast o'er it.

Then my thoughts shifted to Andrea.  St. Auban would hear of my removal,
and I cared not to think of what profit he might derive from it.  To Yvonne
also his presence must hereafter be a menace, and in that wherein tonight
he had failed, he might, again, succeed.  It was at this juncture of my
reverie that M. de Montrésor's pleasant young voice aroused me.

"You appear downcast, M. de Luynes."

"I, downcast!" I echoed, throwing back my head and laughing.  "Nay.  I was
but thinking.

"Believe me, M. de Luynes," he said kindly, "when I tell you that it
grieves me to be charged with this matter.  I have done my best to capture
you.  That was my duty.  But I should have rejoiced had I failed with the
consciousness of having done all in my power."

"Thanks, Montrésor," I murmured, and silence followed.

"I have been thinking, Monsieur," he went on presently, "that possibly the
absence of your sword causes you discomfort."

"Eh?  Discomfort?  It does, most damnably!"

"Give me your parole d'honneur that you will attempt no escape, and not

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