List Of Contents | Contents of The Suitors of Yvonne, by Rafael Sabatini
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Scant cause is there for me to tarry over the details of my return to
Paris.  A sad enough journey was it; as sad for my poor Michelot as for
myself, since he rode with one so dejected as I.

Things had gone ill, and I feared that when the Cardinal heard the story
things would go worse, for Mazarin was never a tolerant man, nor one to be
led by the gospel of mercy and forgiveness.  For myself I foresaw the rope
--possibly even the wheel; and a hundred times a day I dubbed myself a fool
for obeying the voice of honour with such punctiliousness when so grim a
reward awaited me.  What mood was on me--me, Gaston de Luynes, whose honour
had been long since besmirched and tattered until no outward semblance of
honour was left?

But swift in the footsteps of that question would come the answer--Yvonne. 
Ay, truly enough, it was because in my heart I had dared to hold a
sentiment of love for her, the purest--nay, the only pure--thing my heart
had held for many a year, that I would set nothing vile to keep company
with that sentiment; that until my sun should set--and already it dropped
swiftly towards life's horizon--my actions should be the actions of such a
man as might win Yvonne's affections.

But let that be.  This idle restrospective mood can interest you but
little; nor can you profit from it, unless, indeed, it be by noting how
holy and cleansing to the heart of man is the love--albeit unrequited--that
he bears a good woman.

As we drew near Meung--where we lay on that first night of our journey--a
light travelling chaise, going in the same direction, passed us at a
gallop.  As it flashed by, I caught a glimpse of Eugène de Canaples's swart
face through the window.  Whether the recognition was mutual I cannot say--
nor does it signify.

When we reached the Hôtel de la Couronne, half an hour later, we saw that
same chaise disappearing round a corner of the street, whilst through the
porte-cochère the hostler was leading a pair of horses, foam-flecked and
steaming with sweat.

Whither went Master Canaples at such a rate, and in a haste that caused him
to travel day and night?  To a goal he little looked for--or rather, which,
in the madness of his headlong rush, he could not see.  So I was to learn
ere long.

Next day I awoke betimes, and setting my window wide to let in the fresh,
clean-smelling air of that May morning I made shift to dress.  Save for the
cackle of the poultry which had strayed into the courtyard, and the noisy
yawns and sleep-laden ejaculations of the stable-boy, who was drawing water
for the horses, all was still, for it had not yet gone five o'clock.

But of a sudden a door opened somewhere, and a step rang out, accompanied
by the jangle of spurs, and with it came a sharp, unpleasant voice calling
for its owner's horse.  There was a familiar sound in those shrill accents
that caused me to thrust my head through the casement.  But I was quick to
withdraw it, as I recognised in the gaily dressed little fellow below my
old friend Malpertuis.

I know not what impulse made me draw back so suddenly.  The action was as
much the child of instinct as of the lately acquired habit of concealing my
face from the gaze of all who were likely to spread abroad the news that I
still lived.

From behind my curtains I watched Malpertuis ride out of the yard, saying,
in answer to a parting question of the landlord, who had come upon the
scene, that he would breakfast at Beaugency.

Then, as he rode down the street, he of a sudden raised his discordant
voice and sang to the accompaniment of his horse's hoofs.  And the burden
of his song ran thus:

     A frondeur wind
     Got up to-day,
     'Gainst Mazarin
     It blows, they say.

I listened in amazement to his raven's voice.

Whither was he bound, I asked myself, and whence a haste that made him set
out fasting, with an anti-cardinalist ditty on his lips, and ride two
leagues to seek a breakfast in a village that did not hold an inn where a
dog might be housed in comfort?

Like Eugène de Canaples, he also travelled towards a goal that he little
dreamt of.  And so albeit the one went south and the other north, these two
men were, between them, drawing together the thread of this narrative of
mine, as anon you shall learn.

We reached Paris at dusk three days later, and we went straight to my old
lodging in the Rue St. Antoine.

Coupri started and gasped upon beholding me, and not until I had cursed him
for a fool in a voice that was passing human would he believe that I was no
ghost.  He too had heard the rumour of my death.

I dispatched Michelot to the Palais Royal, where--without permitting his
motive to transpire--he was to ascertain for me whether M. de Montrésor was
in Paris, whether he still dwelt at the Hôtel des Cloches, and at what hour
he could be found there.

Whilst he was away I went up to my room, and there I found a letter which
Coupri informed me had been left by a lackey a month ago--before the report
that I had been killed had reached Paris--and since lain forgotten.  It was
a delicate note, to which still hung the ghost of a perfume; there were no
arms on the seal, but the writing I took to be that of my aunt, the
Duchesse de Chevreuse, and vaguely marvelling what motive she could have
had for communicating with me, I cut the silk.

It was, indeed, from the Duchesse, but it contained no more than a request
that I should visit her at her hôtel on the day following upon that on
which she had written, adding that she had pleasing news for me.

I thrust the note into my pocket with a sigh.  Of what could it avail me
now to present myself at her hôtel?  Her invitation was for a month ago. 
Since then she would likely enough have heard the rumour that had been
current, and would have ceased to expect me.

I caught myself wondering whether the news might have caused her a pang of
regret, and somehow methought this possible.  For of all my relatives,
Madame de Chevreuse was the only one--and she was but my aunt by marriage--
who of late years had shown me any kindness, or even recognition.  I
marvelled what her pleasing news could be, and I concluded that probably
she had heard of my difficulties, and wished once again to help me out of
them.  Well, my purse was hollow, indeed, at the moment, but I need not
trouble her, since I was going somewhere where purses are not needed--on a
journey to which no expenses are attached.

In my heart, nevertheless, I blessed the gracious lady, who, for all the
lies that the world may have told of her, was the kindest woman I had
known, and the best--save one other.

I was still musing when Michelot returned with the information that M. de
Montrésor was to be found at the Hôtel des Cloches, whither he had gone to
sup a few minutes before.  Straightway I set out, bidding him attend me,
and, muffled in my cloak, I proceeded at a brisk pace to the Rue des Fosses
St. Germain, where the lieutenant's auberge was situated.

I left Michelot in the common-room, and, preceded by the plump little woman
who owned the house, I ascended to Montrésor's chamber.  I found the young
soldier at table, and, fortunately, alone.  He rose as I entered, and as
the hostess, retreating, closed the door, I doffed my hat, and letting fall
my cloak revealed myself.  His lips parted, and I heard the hiss of an
indrawn breath as his astonished eyes fell upon my countenance.  My laugh
dispelled his doubts that I might be other than flesh and blood--yet not
his doubts touching my identity.  He caught up a taper and, coming forward,
he cast the light on my face for a moment, then setting the candle back
upon the table, he vented his surprise in an oath or two, which was natural
enough in one of his calling.

"'T is clear, Lieutenant," quoth I, as I detached my sword from the
baldrick, "that you believed me dead.  Fate willed, however, that I should
be restored to life, and so soon as I had recovered sufficient strength to
undertake the journey to Paris, I set out.  I arrived an hour ago, and here
I am, to redeem my word of honour, and surrender the sword and liberty
which you but lent me."

I placed my rapier on the table and waited for him to speak.  Instead,
however, he continued to stare at me for some moments, and when at last he
did break the silence, it was to burst into a laugh that poured from his
throat in rich, mellow peals, as he lay back in his chair.

My wrath arose.  Had I travelled from Blois, and done what I deemed the
most honourable deed of my life, to be laughed at for my pains by a foppish
young jackanapes of his Eminence's guards?  Something of my displeasure
must he have seen reflected on my face, for of a sudden he checked his

"Forgive me, M. de Luynes," he gasped.  "Pardieu, 't is no matter for
laughter, and albeit I laughed with more zest than courtesy, I give you my
word that my admiration for you vastly exceeds my amusement.  M. de
Luynes," he added, rising and holding out his hand to me, "there are liars
in Paris who give you an evil name--men who laughed at me when they heard
that I had given you leave to go on parole to St. Sulpice des Reaux that
night, trusting to your word of honour that you would return if you lived. 
His Eminence dubbed me a fool and went near to dismissing me from his
service, and yet I have now the proof that my confidence was not misplaced,
since even though you were believed to be dead, you did not hesitate to
bring me your sword."

"Monsieur, spare me!" I exclaimed, for in truth his compliments waxed as
irksome as had been his whilom merriment.

He continued, however, his laudatory address, and when it was at last
ended, and he paused exhausted alike in breath and brain, it was to take up
my sword and return it to me with my parole, pronouncing me a free man, and
advising me to let men continue to think me dead, and to withdraw from
France.  He cut short my half-protesting thanks, and calling the hostess
bade her set another cover, whilst me he invited to share his supper.  And
as we ate he again urged upon me the advice that I should go abroad.

"For by Heaven," he added, "Mazarin has been as a raging beast since the
news was brought him yesterday of his nephew's marriage."

"How?" I cried.  "He has heard already?"

"He has, indeed; and should he learn that your flesh still walks the earth,
methinks it would go worse with you than it went even with Eugène de

In answer to the questions with which I excitedly plied him, I drew from
him the story of how Eugène had arrived the day before in Paris, and gone
straight to the Palais Royal.  M. de Montrésor had been on guard in the
ante-chamber, and in virtue of an excitement noticeable in Canaples's
bearing, coupled with the ill-odour wherein already he was held by Mazarin,
the lieutenant's presence had been commanded in the Cardinal's closet
during the interview--for his Eminence was never like to acquire fame for

In his exultation at what had chanced, and at the manner in which Mazarin's
Château en Espagne had been dispelled, Canaples used little caution, or
even discretion, in what he said.  In fact, from what Montrésor told me, I
gathered that the fool's eagerness to be the first to bear the tidings to
Mazarin sprang from a rash desire to gloat over the Cardinal's
discomfiture.  He had told his story insolently--almost derisively--and
Mazarin's fury, driven beyond bounds already by what he had heard, became a
very tempest of passion 'neath the lash of Canaples's impertinences.  And,
naturally enough, that tempest had burst upon the only head available--
Eugène de Canaples's--and the Cardinal had answered his jibes with interest
by calling upon Montrésor to arrest the fellow and bear him to the

When the astonished and sobered Canaples had indignantly asked upon what
charge he was being robbed of his liberty, the Cardinal had laughed at him,
and answered with his never-failing axiom that "He who sings, pays."

"You sang lustily enough just now," his Eminence had added, "and you shall
pay by lodging awhile in an oubliette of the Bastille, where you may lift
up your voice to sing the De profundis."

"Was my name not mentioned?" I anxiously inquired when Montrésor had

"Not once.  You may depend that I should have remarked it.  After I had
taken Canaples away, the Cardinal, I am told, sat down, and, still
trembling with rage, wrote a letter which he straightway dispatched to the
Chevalier Armand de Canaples, at Blois.

"No doubt," I mused, "he attributes much blame to me for what has come to

"Not a doubt of it.  This morning he said to me that it was a pity your
wings had not been clipped before you left Paris, and that his misplaced
clemency had helped to bring him great misfortunes.  You see, therefore, M.
de Luynes, that your sojourn in France will be attended with great peril. 
I advise you to try Spain; 't is a martial country where a man of the sword
may find honourable and even profitable employment."

His counsel I deemed sound.  But how follow it?  Then of a sudden I
bethought me of Madame de Chevreuse's friendly letter.  Doubtless she would
assist me once again, and in such an extremity as this.  And with the
conception of the thought came the resolution to visit her on the morrow. 
That formed, I gave myself up to the task of drinking M. de Montrésor under
the table with an abandon which had not been mine for months.  In each
goblet that I drained, methought I saw Yvonne's sweet face floating on the
surface of the red Armagnac; it looked now sad, now reproachful, still I
drank on, and in each cup I pledged her.



It wanted an hour or so to noon next day as I drove across the Pont Neuf in
a closed carriage, and was borne down the Rue St. Dominique to the portals
of that splendid palace, facing the Jacobins, which bears the title of the
"Hôtel de Luynes," and over the portals of which is carved the escutcheon
of our house.

Michelot--in obedience to the orders I had given him--got down only to be
informed that Madame la Duchesse was in the country.  The lackey who was
summoned did not know where the lady might be found, nor when she might
return to Paris.  And so I was compelled to drive back almost despairingly
to the Rue St. Antoine, and there lie concealed, nursing my impatience,
until my aunt should return.

Daily I sent Michelot to the Hôtel de Luynes to make the same inquiry, and
to return daily with the same dispiriting reply--that there was no news of
Madame la Duchesse.

In this fashion some three weeks wore themselves out, during which period I
lay in my concealment, a prey to weariness unutterable.  I might not
venture forth save at night, unless I wore a mask; and as masks were no
longer to be worn without attracting notice--as during the late king's
reign--I dared not indulge the practice.

Certainly my ennui was greatly relieved by the visits of Montrésor, which
grew very frequent, the lad appearing to have conceived a kindness for me;

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