List Of Contents | Contents of The Suitors of Yvonne, by Rafael Sabatini
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and during those three weeks our fellowship at nights over a bottle or two
engendered naturally enough a friendship and an intimacy between us.

I had written to Andrea on the morrow of my return to Paris, to tell him
how kindly Montrésor had dealt with me, and some ten days later the
following letter was brought me by the lieutenant--to whom, for safety, it
had been forwarded:


I have no words wherewith to express my joy at the good news you send me,
which terminates the anxiety that has been mine since you left us on the
disastrous morning of our nuptials.

The uncertainty touching your fate, the fear that the worst might have
befallen you, and the realisation that I--for whom you have done so much--
might do naught for you in your hour of need, has been the one cloud to mar
the sunshine of my own bliss.

That cloud your letter has dispelled, and the knowledge of your safety
renders my happiness complete.

The Chevalier maintains his unforgiving mood, as no doubt doth also my Lord
Cardinal.  But what to me are the frowns of either, so that my lady smile? 
My little Geneviève is yet somewhat vexed in spirit at all this, but I am
teaching her to have faith in Time, the patron saint of all lovers who
follow not the course their parents set them.  And so that time may be
allowed to intercede and appeal to the parent heart with the potent prayer
of a daughter's absence, I shall take my lady from Chambord some three days
hence.  We shall travel by easy stages to Marseilles, and there take ship
for Palermo.

And so, dear, trusty friend, until we meet again, fare you well and may God
hold you safe from the wickedness of man, devil, and my Lord Cardinal.

For all that you have done for me, no words of mine can thank you, but
should you determine to quit this France of yours, and journey to Palermo
after me, you shall never want a roof to shelter you or a board to sit at,
so long as roof and board are owned by him who signs himself, in love at
least, your brother--


With a sigh I set the letter down.  A sigh of love and gratitude it was; a
sigh also of regret for the bright, happy boy who had been the source alike
of my recent joys and sorrows, and whom methought I was not likely to see
again for many a day, since the peaceful vegetation of his Sicilian home
held little attraction for me, a man of action.

It was on the evening of the last Sunday in May, whilst the bell of the
Jesuits, close by, was tinkling out its summons to vespers, that Montrésor
burst suddenly into my room with the request that I should get my hat and
cloak and go with him to pay a visit.  In reply to my questions--
"Monseigneur's letter to Armand de Canaples," he said, "has borne fruit
already.  Come with me and you shall learn how."

He led me past the Bastille and up the Rue des Tournelles to the door of an
unpretentious house, upon which he knocked.  We were admitted by an old
woman to whom Montrésor appeared to be known, for, after exchanging a word
or two with her, he himself led the way upstairs and opened the door of a
room for me.

By the melancholy light of a single taper burning upon the table I beheld a
fair-sized room containing a curtained bed.

My companion took up the candle, and stepping to the bedside, he drew apart
the curtains.

Lying there I beheld a man whose countenance, despite its pallor and the
bloody bandages about his brow, I recognised for that of the little
spitfire Malpertuis.

As the light fell upon his face, the little fellow opened his eyes, and
upon beholding me at his side he made a sudden movement which wrung from
him a cry of pain.

"Lie still, Monsieur," said Montrésor quietly.

But for all the lieutenant's remonstrances, he struggled up into a sitting
posture, requesting Montrésor to set the pillows at his back.

"Thank God you are here, M. de Luynes!" he said.  "I learnt at Canaples
that you were not dead."

"You have been to Canaples?"

"I was a guest of the Chevalier for twelve days.  I arrived there on the
day after your departure."

"You!" I ejaculated.  "Pray what took you to Canaples?"

"What took me there?" he echoed, turning his feverish eyes upon me, almost
with fierceness.  "The same motive that led me to join hands with that
ruffian St. Auban, when he spoke of waging war against Mancini; the same
motive that led me to break with him when I saw through his plans, and when
the abduction of Mademoiselle was on foot; the same motive that made me
come to you and tell you of the proposed abduction so that you might
interfere if you had the power, or cause others to do so if you had not."

I lay back in my chair and stared at him.  Was this, then, another suitor
of Yvonne de Canaples, and were all men mad with love of her?

Presently he continued:

"When I heard that St. Auban was in Paris, having apparently abandoned all
hope in connection with Mademoiselle, I obtained a letter from M. de la
Rochefoucauld--who is an intimate friend of mine--and armed with this I set
out.  As luck would have it I got embroiled in the streets of Blois with a
couple of cardinalist gentlemen, who chose to be offended by lampoon of the
Fronde that I was humming.  I am not a patient man, and I am even
indiscreet in moments of choler.  I ended by crying, "Down with Mazarin and
all his creatures," and I would of a certainty have had my throat slit, had
not a slight and elegant gentleman interposed, and, exercising a wonderful
influence over my assailants, extricated me from my predicament.  This
gentleman was the Chevalier de Canaples.  He was strangely enough in a mood
to be pleased by an anti-cardinalist ditty, for his rage against Andrea de
Mancini--which he took no pains to conceal--had extended already to the
Cardinal, and from morn till night he did little else but revile the whole
Italian brood--as he chose to dub the Cardinal's family."

I recognised the old knight's weak, vacillating character in this, a
creature of moods that, like the vane on a steeple, turns this way or that,
as the wind blows.

"I crave your patience, M. de Luynes," he continued, "and beg of you to
hear my story so that you may determine whether you will save the Canaples
from the danger that threatens them.  I only ask that you dispatch a
reliable messenger to Blois.  But hear me out first.  In virtue as much of
La Rochefoucauld's letters as of the sentiments which the Chevalier heard
me express, I became the honoured guest at his château.  Three days after
my arrival I sustained a shock by the unexpected appearance at Canaples of
St. Auban.  The Chevalier, however, refused him admittance, and, baffled,
the Marquis was forced to withdraw.  But he went no farther than Blois,
where he hired himself a room at the Lys de France.  The Chevalier hated
him as a mad dog hates water--almost as much as he hated you.  He spoke
often of you, and always bitterly."

Before I knew what I had said--

"And Mademoiselle?" I burst out.  "Did she ever mention my name?"

Malpertuis looked up quickly at the question, and a wan smile flickered
round his lips.

"Once she spoke of you to me--pityingly, as one might speak of a dead man
whose life had not been good."

"Yes, yes," I broke in.  "It matters little.  Your story, M. Malpertuis."

"After I had been at the château ten days, we learnt that Eugène de
Canaples had been sent to the Bastille.  The news came in a letter penned
by his Eminence himself--a bitter, viperish letter, with a covert threat in
every line.  The Chevalier's anger went white hot as he read the
disappointed Cardinal's epistle.  His Eminence accused Eugène of being a
frondeur; M. de Canaples, whose politics had grown sadly rusted in the
country, asked me the meaning of the word.  I explained to him the petty
squabbles between Court and Parliament, in consequence of the extortionate
imposts and of Mazarin's avariciousness.  I avowed myself a partisan of the
Fronde, and within three days the Chevalier--who but a little time before
had sought an alliance with the Cardinal's family--had become as rabid a
frondeur as M. de Gondi, as fierce an anti­cardinalist as M. de Beaufort.

"I humoured him in his new madness, with the result that ere long from
being a frondeur in heart, he thirsted to become a frondeur in deeds, and
he ended by begging me to bear a letter from him to the Coadjutor of Paris,
wherein he offered to place at M. de Gondi's disposal, towards the expenses
of the civil war which he believed to be imminent,--as, indeed, it is,--the
sum of sixty thousand livres.

"Now albeit I had gone to Canaples for purposes of my own, and not as an
agent of M. le Coadjuteur's, still for many reasons I saw fit to undertake
the Chevalier's commission.  And so, bearing the letter in question, which
was hot and unguarded, and charged with endless treasonable matter, I set
out four days later for Paris, arriving here yesterday.

"I little knew that I had been followed by St. Auban.  His suspicions must
have been awakened, I know not how, and clearly they were confirmed when I
stopped before the Coadjutor's house last night.  I was about to mount the
steps, when of a sudden I was seized from behind by half a dozen hands and
dragged into a side street.  I got free for a moment and attempted to
defend myself, but besides St. Auban there were two others.  They broke my
sword and attempted to break my skull, in which they went perilously near
succeeding, as you see.  Albeit half-swooning, I had yet sufficient
consciousness left to realise that my pockets were being emptied, and that
at last they had torn open my doublet and withdrawn the treasonable letter
from the breast of it.

"I was left bleeding in the kennel, and there I lay for nigh upon an hour
until a passer-by succoured me and carried out my request to be brought
hither and put to bed."

He ceased, and for some moments there was silence, broken only by the
wounded man's laboured breathing, which argued that his narrative had left
him fatigued.  At last I sprang up.

"The Chevalier de Canaples must be warned," I exclaimed.

"'T is an ugly business," muttered Montrésor.  "I'll wager a hundred that
Mazarin will hang the Chevalier if he catches him just now."

"He would not dare!" cried Malpertuis.

"Not dare?" echoed the lieutenant.  "The man who imprisoned the Princes of
Condé and Conti, and the Duke of Beaufort, not dare hang a provincial
knight with never a friend at Court!  Pah, Monsieur, you do not know
Cardinal Mazarin."

I realised to the full how likely Montrésor's prophecy was to be fulfilled,
and before I left Malpertuis I assured him that he had not poured his story
into the ears of an indifferent listener, and that I would straightway find
means of communicating with Canaples.



From the wounded man's bedside I wended my steps back to the Rue St.
Antoine, resolved to start for Blois that very night; and beside me walked
Montrésor, with bent head, like a man deep in thought.

At my door I paused to take my leave of the lieutenant, for I was in haste
to have my preparations made, and to be gone.  But Montrésor appeared not
minded to be dismissed thus easily.

"What plan have you formed?" he asked.

"The only plan there is to form--to set out for Canaples at once."

"Hum!" he grunted, and again was silent.  Then, suddenly throwing back his
head, "Par la mort Dieu!" he cried, "I care not what comes of it; I'll tell
you what I know.  Lead the way to your chamber, M. de Luynes, and delay
your departure until you have heard me."

Surprised as much by his words as by the tone in which he uttered them,
which was that of a man who is angry with himself, I passively did as I was

Once within my little ante-chamber, he turned the key with his own hands,
and pointing to the door of my bedroom--"In there, Monsieur," quoth he, "we
shall be safe from listeners."

Deeper grew my astonishment at all this mystery, as we passed into the room

"Now, M. de Luynes," he cried, flinging down his hat, "for no apparent
reason I am about to commit treason; I am about to betray the hand that
pays me."

"If no reason exists, why do so evil a deed?" I inquired calmly.  "I have
learnt during our association to wish you well, Montrésor; if by telling me
that which your tongue burns to tell, you shall have cause for shame, the
door is yonder.  Go before harm is done, and leave me alone to fight my
battle out."

He stood up, and for a moment he seemed to waver, then dismissing his
doubts with an abrupt gesture, he sat down again.

"There is no wrong in what I do.  Right is with you, M. de Luynes, and if I
break faith with the might I serve, it is because that might is an unjust
one; I do but betray the false to the true, and there can be little shame
in such an act.  Moreover, I have a reason--but let that be."

He was silent for a moment, then he resumed:

"Most of that which you have learnt from Malpertuis to-night, I myself
could have told you.  Yes; St. Auban has carried Canaples's letter to the
Cardinal already.  I heard from his lips to-day--for I was present at the
interview--how the document had been wrested from Malpertuis.  For your
sake, so that you might learn all he knew, I sought the fellow out, and
having found him in the Rue des Tournelles, I took you thither."

In a very fever of excitement I listened.

"To take up the thread of the story where Malpertuis left off, let me tell
you that St. Auban sought an audience with Mazarin this morning, and by
virtue of a note which he desired an usher to deliver to his Eminence, he
was admitted, the first of all the clients that for hours had thronged the
ante-room.  As in the instance of the audience to Eugène de Canaples, so
upon this occasion did it chance that the Cardinal's fears touching St.
Auban's purpose had been roused, for he bade me stand behind the curtains
in his cabinet.

"The Marquis spoke bluntly enough, and with rude candour he stated that
since Mazarin had failed to bring the Canaples estates into his family by
marriage, he came to set before his Eminence a proof so utter of Canaples's
treason that it would enable him to snatch the estates by confiscation. 
The Cardinal may have been staggered by St. Auban's bluntness, but his
avaricious instincts led him to stifle his feelings and bid the Marquis to
set this proof before him.  But St. Auban had a bargain to drive--a
preposterous one methought.  He demanded that in return for his delivering
into the hands of Mazarin the person of Armand de Canaples together with an
incontestable proof that the Chevalier was in league with the frondeurs,
and had offered to place a large sum of money at their disposal, he was to
receive as recompense the demesne of Canaples on the outskirts of Blois,
together with one third of the confiscated estates.  At first Mazarin
gasped at his audacity, then laughed at him, whereupon St. Auban politely
craved his Eminence's permission to withdraw.  This the Cardinal, however,
refused him, and bidding him remain, he sought to bargain with him.  But

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