château and the grounds, hungering throughout the long hours for a word with Mademoiselle--a glimpse of her, at least. But all day long she kept her chamber, the pretext being that she was beset by a migraine. By accident I came upon her that evening, at last, in the salon; yet my advent was the signal for her departure, and all the words she had for me were: "Still at Canaples, Monsieur? I thought you were to have left this morning." She looked paler than her wont, and her eyes were somewhat red. "I am remaining until to-morrow," said I awkwardly. "Vraiement!" was all she answered, and she was gone. Next morning the Chevalier and I breakfasted alone. Mademoiselle's migraine was worse. Geneviève was nursing, so her maid brought word-- whilst Andrea had gone out an hour before and had not returned. The Chevalier shot me an apologetic glance across the board. "'T is a poor 'God speed' to you, M. de Luynes." I made light of it and turned the conversation into an indifferent channel, wherein it abided until, filling himself a bumper of Anjou, the Chevalier solemnly drank to my safe journey and good fortune in Paris. At that moment Andrea entered by the door abutting on the terrace balcony. He was flushed, and his eyes sparkled with a joyous fever. Profuse was he in his apologies, which, howbeit, were passing vague in character, and which he brought to a close by pledging me as the Chevalier had done already. As we rose, Geneviève appeared with the news that Yvonne was somewhat better, adding that she had come to take leave of me. Her composure surprised me gladly, for albeit in her eyes there was also a telltale light, the lids, demurely downcast as was her wont, amply screened it from the vulgar gaze. Andrea would tell his father-in-law of the marriage later in the day; and for all I am not a chicken-hearted man, still I had no stomach to be at hand when the storm broke. The moment having come for my departure, and Michelot awaiting me already with the horses in the courtyard, M. de Canaples left us to seek the letter which I was to carry to his Eminence. So soon as the door had closed upon him, Andrea came forward, leading his bride by the hand, and asked me to wish them happiness. "With all my heart," I answered; "and if happiness be accorded you in a measure with the fervency of my wishes then shall you, indeed, be happy. Each of you I congratulate upon the companion in life you have chosen. Cherish him, Mademoi--Madame, for he is loyal and true--and such are rare in this world." It is possible that I might have said more in this benign and fatherly strain--for it seemed to me that this new role I had assumed suited me wondrous well--but a shadow that drew our eyes towards the nearest window interrupted me. And what we saw there drew a cry from Andrea, a shudder from Geneviève, and from me a gasp that was half amazement, half dismay. For, leaning upon the sill, surveying us with a sardonic, evil grin, we beheld Eugène de Canaples, the man whom I had left with a sword-thrust through his middle behind the Hôtel Vendôme two months ago. Whence was he sprung, and why came he thus to his father's house? He started as I faced him, for doubtless St. Auban had boasted to him that he had killed me in a duel. For a moment he remained at the window, then he disappeared, and we could hear the ring of his spurred heel as he walked along the balcony towards the door. And simultaneously came the quick, hurrying steps of the Chevalier de Canaples, as he crossed the hall, returning with the letter he had gone to fetch. Geneviève shuddered again, and looked fearfully from one door to the other; Andrea drew a sharp breath like a man in pain, whilst I rapped out an oath to brace my nerves for the scene which we all three foresaw. Then in silence we waited, some subtle instinct warning us of the disaster that impended. The steps on the balcony halted, and a second later those in the hall; and then, as though the thing had been rehearsed and timed so that the spectators might derive the utmost effect from it, the doors opened together, and on the opposing thresholds, with the width of the room betwixt them, stood father and son confronted. CHAPTER XVIII OF HOW I LEFT CANAPLES Whilst a man might tell a dozen did those two remain motionless, the one eyeing the other. But their bearing was as widely different as their figures; Eugène's stalwart frame stood firm and erect, insolence in every line of it, reflected perchance from the smile that lurked about the corners of his thinlipped mouth. The hat, which he had not had the grace to doff, set jauntily upon his straight black hair, the jerkin of leather which he wore, and the stout sword which hung from the plainest of belts, all served to give him the air of a ruffler, or tavern knight. The Chevalier, on the other hand, stood as if turned to stone. From his enervated fingers the letter fluttered to the ground, and on his pale, thin face was to be read a displeasure mixed with fear. At length, with an oath, the old man broke the silence. "What seek you at Canaples?" he asked in a quivering voice, as he advanced into the room. "Are you so dead to shame that you dare present yourself with such effrontery? Off with your hat, sir!" he blazed, stamping his foot, and going from pale to crimson. "Off with your hat, or Mortdieu, I'll have you flung out of doors by my grooms." This show of vehemence, as sudden as it was unexpected, drew from Eugène a meek obedience that I had not looked for. Nevertheless, the young man's lip curled as he uncovered. "How fatherly is your greeting!" he sneered. The Chevalier's eyes flashed a glance that lacked no venom at his son. "What manner of greeting did you look for?" he returned hotly. "Did you expect me to set a ring upon your finger, and have the fattened calf killed in honour of your return? Sangdieu, sir! Have you come hither to show me how a father should welcome the profligate son who has dishonoured his name? Why are you here, unbidden? Answer me, sir!" A deep flush overspread Eugène's cheeks. "I had thought when I crossed the threshold that this was the Château de Canaples, or else that my name was Canaples--I know not which. Clearly I was mistaken, for here is a lady who has no word either of greeting or intercession for me, and who, therefore, cannot be my sister, and yonder a man whom I should never look to find in my father's house." I took a step forward, a hot answer on my lips, when from the doorway at my back came Yvonne's sweet voice. "Eugène! You here?" "As you see, Sister. Though had you delayed your coming 't is probable you would no longer have found me, for your father welcomes me with oaths and threatens me with his grooms." She cast a reproachful glance upon the Chevalier, 'neath which the anger seemed to die out of him; then she went forward with hands outstretched and a sad smile upon her lips. "Yvonne!" The Chevalier's voice rang out sharp and sudden. She stopped. "I forbid you to approach that man!" For a moment she appeared to hesitate; then, leisurely pursuing her way, she set her hands upon her brother's shoulders and embraced him. The Chevalier swore through set teeth; Geneviève trembled, Andrea looked askance, and I laughed softly at the Chevalier's discomfiture. Eugène flung his hat and cloak into a corner and strode across the room to where his father stood. "And now, Monsieur, since I have travelled all the way from Paris to save my house from a step that will bring it into the contempt of all France, I shall not go until you have heard me." The Chevalier shrugged his shoulders and made as if to turn away. Yvonne's greeting of her brother appeared to have quenched the spark of spirit that for a moment had glimmered in the little man's breast. "Monsieur," cried Eugène, "believe me that what I have to say is of the utmost consequence, and say it I will--whether before these strangers or in your private ear shall be as you elect." The old man glanced about him like one who seeks a way of escape. At last--"If say it you must," he growled, "say it here and now. And when you have said it, go." Eugène scowled at me, and from me to Andrea. To pay him for that scowl, I had it in my mind to stay; but, overcoming the clownish thought, I took Andrea by the arm. "Come, Andrea," I said, "we will take a turn outside while these family matters are in discussion." I had a shrewd idea what was the substance of Eugène's mission to Canaples--to expostulate with his father touching the proposed marriage of Yvonne to the Cardinal's nephew. Nor was I wrong, for when, some moments later, the Chevalier recalled us from the terrace, where we were strolling--"What think you he has come hither to tell me?" he inquired as we entered. He pointed to his son as he spoke, and passion shook his slender frame as the breeze shakes a leaf. Mademoiselle and Geneviève sat hand in hand--Yvonne deadly pale, Geneviève weeping. "What think you he has the effrontery to say? Têtedieu! it seems that he has profited little by the lesson you read him in the horse-market about meddling in matters which concern him not. He has come hither to tell me that he will not permit his sister to wed the Cardinal's nephew; that he will not have the estates of Canaples pass into the hands of a foreign upstart. He, forsooth--he! he! he!" And at each utterance of the pronoun he lunged with his forefinger in the direction of his son. "This he is not ashamed to utter before Yvonne herself!" "You compelled me to do so," cried Eugène angrily. "I?" ejaculated the Chevalier. "Did I compel you to come hither with your 'I will' and 'I will not'? Who are you, that you should give laws at Canaples? And he adds, sir," quoth the old knight excitedly, "that sooner than allow this marriage to take place he will kill M. de Mancini." "I shall be happy to afford him the opportunity!" shouted Andrea, bounding forward. Eugène looked up quickly and gave a short laugh. Thereupon followed a wild hubbub; everyone rushed forward and everyone talked; even little Geneviève --louder than all the rest. "You shall not fight! You shall not fight!" she cried, and her voice was so laden with command that all others grew silent and all eyes were turned upon her. "What affair is this of yours, little one?" quoth Eugène. "'T is this," she answered, panting, "that you need fear no marriage 'twixt my sister and Andrea." In her eagerness she had cast caution to the winds of heaven. Her father and brother stared askance at her; I gave an inward groan. "Andrea!" echoed Eugène at last. "What is this man to you that you speak thus of him?" The girl flung herself upon her father's breast. "Father," she sobbed, "dear father, forgive!" The Chevalier's brow grew dark; roughly he seized her by the arms and, holding her at arm's length, scanned her face. "What must I forgive?" he inquired in a thick voice. "What is M. de Mancini to you?" Some sinister note in her father's voice caused the girl to grow of a sudden calm and to assume a rigidity that reminded me of her sister. "He is my husband!" she answered. And there was a note of pride--almost of triumph--in her voice. An awful silence followed the launching of that thunderbolt. Eugène stood with open mouth, staring now at Geneviève, now at his father. Andrea set his arm about his bride's waist, and her fair head was laid trustingly upon his shoulder. The Chevalier's eyes rolled ominously. At length he spoke in a dangerously calm voice. "How long is it--how long have you been wed?" "We were wed in Blois an hour ago," answered Geneviève. Something that was like a grunt escaped the Chevalier, then his eye fastened upon me, and his anger boiled up. "You knew of this?" he asked, coming towards me. "I knew of it." "Then you lied to me yesterday." I drew myself up, stiff as a broomstick. "I do not understand," I answered coldly. "Did you not give me your assurance that M. de Mancini would marry Yvonne?" "I did not, Monsieur. I did but tell you that he would wed your daughter. And, ma foi! your daughter he has wed." "You have fooled me, scélérat!" he blazed out. "You, who have been sheltered by--" "Father!" Yvonne interrupted, taking his arm. "M. de Luynes has behaved no worse than have I, or any one of us, in this matter." "No!" he cried, and pointed to Andrea. "'T is you who have wrought this infamy. Eugène," he exclaimed, turning of a sudden to his son, "you have a sword; wipe out this shame." "Shame!" echoed Geneviève. "Oh, father, where is the shame? If it were no shame for Andrea to marry Yvonne, surely--" "Silence!" he thundered. "Eugène--" But Eugène answered him with a contemptuous laugh. "You are quick enough to call upon my sword, now that things have not fallen out as you would have them. Where are your grooms now, Monsieur?" "Insolent hound!" cried his father indignantly. Then, letting fall his arms with something that was near akin to a sob--"Is there no one left to do aught but mock me?" he groaned. But this weakness was no more than momentary. "Out of my house, sir!" he blazed, turning upon Andrea, and for a moment methought he would have struck him. "Out of my house--you and this wife of yours!" "Father!" sobbed Geneviève, with hands outstretched in entreaty. "Out of my house," he repeated, "and you also, M. de Luynes. Away with you! Go with the master you have served so well." And, turning on his heel, he strode towards the door. "Father--dear father!" cried Geneviève, following him: he slammed the door in her face for answer. With a moan she sank down upon her knees, her frail body shaken by convulsive sobs--Dieu! what a bridal morn was hers! Andrea and Yvonne raised her and led her to a chair. Eugène watched them with a cynical eye, then laughed brutally, and, gathering up his hat and cloak, he moved towards the balcony door and vanished. "Is M. de Luynes still there?" quoth Geneviève presently. "I am here, Madame." "You had best set out, Monsieur," she said. "We shall follow soon--very soon." I took Andrea aside and asked him whither it was his intention to take his wife. He replied that they would go to Chambord, where they would remain for some weeks in the hope that the Chevalier might relent sufficiently to forgive them. Thereafter it was his purpose to take his bride home to his Sicilian demesne. Our farewells were soon spoken; yet none the less warm, for all its brevity, was my leave-taking of Andrea, and our wishes for each other's happiness were as fervent as the human heart can shape. We little thought that we were not destined to meet again for years. Yvonne's adieu was cold and formal--so cold and formal that it seemed to rob the sunshine of its glory for me as I stepped out into the open air. After all, what mattered it? I was a fool to have entertained a single tender thought concerning her.
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