List Of Contents | Contents of The Suitors of Yvonne, by Rafael Sabatini
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while you rest, Michelot.  My poor fellow, you are almost as worn with your
vigils as he is with the fever."

"Pooh!  I am strong enough, Mademoiselle," he answered.  "I will get a
mouthful of food and return, for I would be by when he wakes."

Then their voices sank so low that as they withdrew I caught not what was
said.  The door closed softly and for a space there was silence, broken at
last by a sigh above my head.  With an answering sigh I opened wide my eyes
and feasted them upon the lovely face of Yvonne de Canaples, as she bent
over me with a look of tenderness and pity that at once recalled to me our
parting when I was arrested.

But suddenly meeting the stare of my gaze, she drew back with a half-
stifled cry, whose meaning my dull wits sought not to interpret, but
methought I caught from her lips the words, "Thank God!"

"Where am I, Mademoiselle?" I inquired, and the faintness of my voice
amazed me.

"You know me!" she exclaimed, as though the thing were a miracle.  Then
coming forward again, and setting her cool, sweet hand upon my forehead,

"Hush," she murmured in the accents one might use to soothe a child.  "You
are at Canaples, among friends.  Now sleep."

"At Canaples!" I echoed.  "How came I here?  I am a prisoner, am I not?"

"A prisoner!" she exclaimed.  "No, no, you are not a prisoner.  You are
among friends."

"Did I then but dream that Montrésor arrested me yesterday on the road to
Meung?  Ah!  I recollect!  M. de Montrésor gave me leave on parole to go to

Then, like an avalanche, remembrance swept down upon me, and my memory drew
a vivid picture of the happenings at St. Sulpice.

"My God!" I cried.  "Am I not dead, then?"  And I sought to struggle up
into a sitting posture, but that gentle hand upon my forehead restrained
and robbed me of all will that was not hers.

"Hush, Monsieur!" she said softly.  "Lie still.  By a miracle and the
faithfulness of Michelot you live.  Be thankful, be content, and sleep."

"But my wounds, Mademoiselle?" I inquired feebly.

"They are healed."

"Healed?" quoth I, and in my amazement my voice sounded louder than it had
yet done since my awakening.  "Healed!  Three such wounds as I took last
night, to say naught of a broken head, healed?"

"'T was not last night, Monsieur."

"Not last night?  Was it not last night that I went to Reaux?"

"It is nearly a month since that took place," she answered with a smile. 
"For nearly a month have you lain unconscious upon that bed, with the angel
of Death at your pillow.  You have fought and won a silent battle.  Now
sleep, Monsieur, and ask no more questions until next you awaken, when
Michelot shall tell you all that took place."

She held a glass to my lips from which I drank gratefully, then, with the
submissiveness of a babe, I obeyed her and slept.

As she had promised, it was Michelot who greeted me when next I opened my
eyes, on the following day.  There were tears in his eyes--eyes that had
looked grim and unmoved upon the horrors of the battlefield.

From him I learned how, after they had flung me into the river, deeming me
dead already, St. Auban and his men had made off.  The swift stream swirled
me along towards the spot where, in the boat, Michelot awaited my return
all unconscious of what was taking place.  He had heard the splash, and had
suddenly stood up, on the point of going ashore, when my body rose within a
few feet of him.  He spoke of the agony of mind wherewith he had suddenly
stretched forth and clutched me by my doublet, fearing that I was indeed
dead.  He had lifted me into the boat to find that my heart still beat and
that the blood flowed from my wounds.  These he had there and then bound up
in the only rude fashion he was master of, and forthwith, thinking of
Andrea and the Chevalier de Canaples, who were my friends, and of
Mademoiselle, who was my debtor, also seeing that the château was the
nearest place, he had rowed straight across to Canaples, and there I had
lain during the four weeks that had elapsed, nursed by Mademoiselle,
Andrea, and himself, and thus won back to life.

Ah, Dieu!  How good it was to know that someone there was still who cared
for worthless Gaston de Luynes a little--enough to watch beside him and
withhold his soul from the grim claws of Death.

"What of M. de St. Auban?" I inquired presently.

"He has not been seen since that night.  Probably he feared that did he
come to Blois, the Chevalier would find means of punishing him for the
attempted abduction of Mademoiselle."

"Ah, then Andrea is safe?"

As if in answer to my question, the lad entered at that moment, and upon
seeing me sitting up, talking to Michelot, he uttered an exclamation of
joy, and hurried forward to my bedside.

"Gaston, dear friend!" he cried, as he took my hand--and a thin, withered
hand it was.

We talked long together,--we three,--and anon we were joined by the
Chevalier de Canaples, who offered me also, in his hesitating manner, his
felicitations.  And with me they lingered until Yvonne came to drive them
with protestations from my bedside.

Such, in brief, was the manner of my resurrection.  For a week or so I
still kept my chamber; then one day towards the middle of April, the
weather being warm and the sun bright, Michelot assisted me to don my
clothes, which hung strangely empty upon my gaunt, emaciated frame, and,
leaning heavily upon my faithful henchman, I made my way below.

In the salon I found the Chevalier de Canaples with Mesdemoiselles and
Andrea awaiting me, and the kindness wherewith they overwhelmed me, as I
sat propped up with pillows, was such that I asked myself again and again
if, indeed, I was that same Gaston de Luynes who but a little while ago had
held himself as destitute of friends as he was of fortune.  I was the
pampered hero of the hour, and even little Geneviève had a sunny smile and
a kind word for me.

Thereafter my recovery progressed with great strides, and gradually, day by
day, I felt more like my old vigorous self.  They were happy days, for
Mademoiselle was often at my side, and ever kind to me; so kind was she
that presently, as my strength grew, there fell a great cloud athwart my
happiness--the thought that soon I must leave Canaples never to return
there,--leave Mademoiselle's presence never to come into it again.

I was Monsieur de Montrésor's prisoner.  I had learned that in common with
all others, save those at Canaples, he deemed me dead, and that, informed
of it by a message from St. Auban, he had returned to Paris on the day
following that of my journey to Reaux.  Nevertheless, since I lived, he had
my parole, and it was my duty as soon as I had regained sufficient
strength, to journey to Paris and deliver myself into his hands.

Nearer and nearer drew the dreaded hour in which I felt that I must leave
Canaples.  On the last day of April I essayed a fencing bout with Andrea,
and so strong and supple did I prove myself that I was forced to realise
that the time was come.  On the morrow I would go.

As I was on the point of returning indoors with the foils under my arm,
Andrea called me back.

"Gaston, I have something of importance to say to you.  Will you take a
turn with me down yonder by the river?"

There was a serious, almost nervous look on his comely face, which arrested
my attention.  I dropped the foils, and taking his arm I went with him as
he bade me.  We seated ourselves on the grass by the edge of the gurgling
waters, and he began:

"It is now two months since we came to Blois: I, to pay my court to the
wealthy Mademoiselle de Canaples; you, to watch over and protect me--nay,
you need not interrupt me.  Michelot has told me what St. Auban sought
here, and the true motives of your journey to St. Sulpice.  Never shall I
be able to sufficiently prove my gratitude to you, my poor Gaston.  But
tell me, dear friend, you who from the outset saw how matters stood, why
did you not inform St. Auban that he had no cause to hunt me down since I
intended not to come between him and Yvonne?"

"Mon Dieu!" I exclaimed, "that little fair-haired coquette has--"

"Gaston," he interrupted, "you go too fast.  I love Geneviève de Canaples. 
I have loved her, I think, since the moment I beheld her in the inn at
Choisy, and, what is more, she loves me."

"So that--?" I asked with an ill-repressed sneer.

"We have plighted our troth, and with her father's sanction, or without it,
she will do me the honour to become my wife."

"Admirable!" I exclaimed.  "And my Lord Cardinal?"

"May hang himself on his stole for aught I care."

"Ah!  Truly a dutiful expression for a nephew who has thwarted his uncle's

"My uncle's plans are like himself, cold and selfish in their ambition."

"Andrea, Andrea!  Whatever your uncle may be, to those of your blood, at
least, he was never selfish."

"Not selfish!" he cried.  "Think you that he is enriching and contracting
great alliances for us because he loves us?  No, no.  Our uncle seeks to
gain our support and with it the support of those noble houses to which he
is allying us.  The nobility opposes him, therefore he seeks to find
relatives among noblemen, so that he may weather the storm of which his
far-seeing eyes have already detected the first dim clouds.  What to him
are my feelings, my inclinations, my affections?  Things of no moment, to
be sacrificed so that I may serve him in the manner that will bring him the
most profit.  Yet you call him not selfish!  Were he not selfish, I should
go to him and say: 'I love Geneviève de Canaples.  Create me Duke as you
would do, did I wed her sister, and the Chevalier de Canaples will not
withstand our union.'  What think you would be his answer?"

"I have a shrewd idea what his answer would be," I replied slowly.  "Also I
have a shrewd idea of what he will say when he learns in what manner you
have defied his wishes."

"He can but order me away from Court, or, at most, banish me from France."

"And then what will become of you--of you and your wife?"

"What is to become of us?" he cried in a tone that was almost that of
anger.  "Think you that I am a pauper dependent upon my uncle's bounty?  I
have an estate near Palermo, which, for all that it does not yield riches,
is yet sufficient to enable us to live with dignity and comfort.  I have
told Geneviève, and she is content."

I looked at his flushed face and laughed.

"Well, well!" said I.  "If you are resolved upon it, it is ended."

He appeared to meditate for a moment, then--"We have decided to be married
by the Curé of St. Innocent on the day after to-morrow."

"Crédieu!" I answered, with a whistle, "you have wasted no time in
determining your plans.  Does Yvonne know of it?"

"We have dared tell nobody," he replied; and a moment later he added
hesitatingly, "You, I know, will not betray us."

"Do you know me so little that you doubt me on that score?  Have no fear,
Andrea, I shall not speak.  Besides, to-morrow, or the next day at latest,
I leave Canaples."

"You do not mean that you are returning to the Lys de France!"

"No.  I am going farther than that.  I am going to Paris."

"To Paris?"

"To Paris, to deliver myself up to M. de Montrésor, who gave me leave to go
to Reaux some seven weeks ago."

"But it is madness, Gaston!" he ejaculated.

"All virtue is madness in a world so sinful; nevertheless I go.  In a
measure I am glad that things have fallen out with you as they have done,
for when the news goes abroad that you have married Geneviève de Canaples
and left the heiress free, your enemies will vanish, and you will have no
further need of me.  New enemies you will have perchance, but in your
strife with them I could lend you no help, were I by."

He sat in silence casting pebbles into the stream, and watching the ripples
they made upon the face of the waters.

"Have you told Mademoiselle?" he asked at length.

"Not yet.  I shall tell her to-day.  You also, Andrea, must take her into
your confidence touching your approaching marriage.  That she will prove a
good friend to you I am assured."

"But what reason shall I give form my secrecy?" he inquired, and inwardly I
smiled to see how the selfishness which love begets in us had caused him
already to forget my affairs, and how the thought of his own approaching
union effaced all thought of me and the doom to which I went.

"Give no reason," I answered.  "Let Genevieve tell her of what you
contemplate, and if a reason she must have, let Geneviève bid her come to
me.  This much will I do for you in the matter; indeed, Andrea, it is the
last service I am like to render you."

"Sh!  Here comes the Chevalier.  She shall be told to-day."



For all that I realised that this love of mine for Yvonne was as a child
still-born--a thing that had no existence save in the heart that had
begotten it--I rejoiced meanly at the thought that she was not destined to
become Andrea's wife.  For since I understood that this woman--who to me
was like no other of her sex--was not for so poor a thing as Gaston de
Luynes, like the dog in the fable I wished that no other might possess her. 
Inevitable it seemed that sooner or later one must come who would woo and
win her.  But ere that befell, my Lord Cardinal would have meted out
justice to me--the justice of the rope meseemed--and I should not be by to
gnash my teeth in jealousy.

That evening, when the Chevalier de Canaples had gone to pay a visit to his
vineyard,--the thing that, next to himself, he loved most in this world,--
and whilst Geneviève and Andrea were vowing a deathless love to each other
in the rose garden, their favourite haunt when the Chevalier was absent, I
seized the opportunity for making my adieux to Yvonne.

We were leaning together upon the balustrade of the terrace, and our faces
were turned towards the river and the wooded shores beyond--a landscape
this that was as alive and beautiful now as it had been dead and grey when
first I came to Canaples two months ago.

Scarce were my first words spoken when she turned towards me, and
methought--but I was mad, I told myself--that there was a catch in her
voice as she exclaimed, "You are leaving us, Monsieur?"

"To-morrow morning I shall crave Monsieur your father's permission to quit

"But why, Monsieur?  Have we not made you happy here?"

"So happy, Mademoiselle," I answered with fervour, "that at times it passes
my belief that I am indeed Gaston de Luynes.  But go I must.  My honour
demands of me this sacrifice."

And in answer to the look of astonishment that filled her wondrous eyes, I
told her what I had told Andrea touching my parole to Montrésor, and the
necessity of its redemption.  As Andrea had done, she also dubbed it
madness, but her glance was, nevertheless, so full of admiration, that
methought to have earned it was worth the immolation of liberty--of life
perchance; who could say?

"Before I go, Mademoiselle," I pursued, looking straight before me as I
spoke, and dimly conscious that her glance was bent upon my face--"before I
go, I fain would thank you for all that you have done for me here.  Your

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