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MONSIEUR LE COMTE D'HEROUVILLE TAKES THE JOURNEY TO QUEBEC
Victor ran most of the way back to the Corne d'Abondance. Gabrielle and Paul were together, unconscious puppets in the booth of Fate, that master of subtile ironies! How many times had their paths neared, always to diverge again, because Fate had yet to prepare the cup of misery? How well he had contrived to bring them together: she, her cup running bitter with disillusion and dread of imprisonment; he, dashed from the summit of worldly hopes, his birth impugned, stripped of riches and pride, his lips brushed with the ashes of greatness! And on this night, of all nights, their paths melted and became as one. It was true that they had never met; but this night was one of dupes and fools, and nothing was impossible. He cursed the vicomte for having put the lust to kill into his head, when he needed clearness and precision and delicacy to avert this final catastrophe. After the morrow all would he well; Gabrielle would be on the way to Spain, the Chevalier on the way to New France. But to-night! Dupes and fools, indeed! He stumbled on through the drifts. The green lantern at last: was he too late? He rushed into the tavern, thence into the private assembly, his rapier still in his hand. The cold air yet choked his lungs, forcing him to breathe noisily and rapidly. He cast about a nervous, hasty glance.
"You are alone, Paul?"
"Alone?" cried the Chevalier, astonished as much by the question as by Victor's appearance. "Yes. Why not? . . . What have you been doing with that sword?" suddenly.
"Nothing, nothing!" with energy. Victor sheathed the weapon. "A woman entered here by mistake . . . ?"
"She is gone," indifferently. "She was a lady of quality, for I could see that the odor of wine and the disorder of the room were distasteful to her."
"She left . . . wearing her mask?" asked the poet, looking everywhere but at the Chevalier, who was growing curious.
"Yes. Her figure was charming. That blockhead of a host! . . . to have shown her in here!"
"She was in distress?"
"Evidently. In the old days I should have striven to console. What is it all about, lad? Your hand trembles. Do you know her?"
"I know something of her history," with half a truth. Victor's forehead was cold and dry to the touch of his hand.
"She is in trouble?"
The Chevalier arranged a log on the irons. "Whither is she bound?"
"Ah! A matter of careless politics, doubtless."
"Good!" thought the poet. "He does not ask her name."
"Has she a pleasant voice? I spoke to her, but she remained dumb. Spain," ruminating. "For me, New France. Lad, the thought of reaching that far country is inspiriting. I shall mope a while; but there is metal in me which needs but proper molding. . . . For what purpose had you drawn your sword?"
"I challenged the vicomte, and he refused to fight."
"On my account?" sternly. "You did wrong."
"I can not change the heat of my blood," carelessly.
"No; but you can lose it, and at present it is very precious to me. He refused? The vicomte has sound judgment."
"Oh, he and I shall be killing each other one of these fine days; but not wholly on your account, Paul," gloom wrinkling his brow, as if the enlightening finger of prescience had touched it. "It is fully one o'clock; you will be wanting sleep."
"Sleep?" The ironist twisted his mouth. "It will be many a day ere sleep makes contest with my eyes . . . unless it be cold and sinister sleep. Sleep? You are laughing! Only the fatuous and the self-satisfied sleep . . . and the dead. So be it." He took the tongs and stirred the log, from which flames suddenly darted. "I wonder what they are doing at Voisin's to-night?" irrelevantly. "There will be some from the guards, some from the musketeers, and some from the prince's troops. And that little Italian who played the lute so well! Do you recall him? I can see them now, calling Mademoiselle Pauline to bring Voisin's old burgundy." The Chevalier continued his reminiscence in silence, forgetting time and place, forgetting Victor, who was gazing at him with an expression profoundly sad.
The poet mused for a moment, then tiptoed from the room. An idea had come to him, but as yet it was not fully developed.
"Should I have said 'good night'? Good night, indeed! What mockery there is in commonplaces! That idea of mine needs some thought." So, instead of going to bed he sat down on one of the chimney benches.
A sleepy potboy went to and fro among the tables, clearing up empty tankards and breakage. Maître le Borgne sat in his corner, reckoning up the day's accounts.
Suddenly Victor slapped his thigh and rose. "Body of Bacchus and horns of Panurge! I will do it. Mazarin will never look for me there. It is simple." And a smile, genuine and pleasant, lit up his face. "I will forswear Calliope and nail my flag to Clio; I will no longer write poetry, I will write history and make it."
He climbed to his room, cast off his hostler's livery and slid into bed, to dream of tumbling seas, of vast forests, of mighty rivers . . . and of grey masks.
Promptly at seven he rejoined the Chevalier. Breton was packing a large portmanteau. He had gathered together those things which he knew his master loved.
"Monsieur," said the lackey, holding up a book, "this will not go in."
"What is it?" indifferently.
"Keep it, lad; I make you a present of it. You have been writing, Victor?"
Victor was carelessly balancing a letter in his hand. "Yes. A thousand crowns,--which I shall own some day,--that you can not guess its contents," gaily.
"You have found Madame de Brissac and are writing to her?" smiling.
For a moment Victor's gaiety left him. The Chevalier's suggestion was so unexpected as to disturb him. He quickly recovered his poise, however. "You have lost. It is a letter to my good sister, advising her of my departure to Quebec. Spain is too near Paris, Paul."
"You, Victor?" cried the Chevalier, while Breton's face grew warm with regard for Monsieur de Saumaise.
"Yes. Victor loves his neck. And it will be many a day ere monseigneur turns his glance toward New France in quest."
"But supposing he should not find these incriminating papers? You would be throwing away a future."
"Only temporarily. I have asked my sister to watch her brother's welfare. I will go. Come, be a good fellow. Let us go and sign the articles which make two soldiers of fortune instead of one. I have spoken to Du Puys and Chaumonot. It is all settled but the daub of ink. Together, Paul; you will make history and I shall embalm it." He placed a hand upon the Chevalier's arm, his boyish face beaming with the prospect of the exploit.
"And Madame de Brissac?" gently.
"We shall close that page," said the poet, looking out of the window. She would be in Spain. Ah well!"
"Monsieur," said Breton, "will you take this?"
The two friends turned. Breton was holding at arm's length a grey cloak.
"The cloak!" cried Victor.
"Pack it away, lad," the Chevalier said, the lines in his face deepening, "It will serve to recall to me that vanity is a futile thing."
"The devil! but for my own vanity and miserable purse neither of us would have been here." Victor made as though to touch the cloak, but shrugged, and signified to Breton to put it out of sight.
When Breton had buckled the straps he exhibited a restlessness, standing first on one foot, then on the other. He folded his arms, then unfolded them, and plucked at his doublet. The Chevalier was watching him from the corner of his eye.
"Speak, lad; you have something to say."
"Monsieur, I can not return to the hôtel. Monsieur le Marquis has forbidden me." Breton's eyes filled with tears. It was the first lie he had ever told his master.
"Have you any money, Victor?" asked the Chevalier, taking out the fifty pistoles won from the vicomte and dividing them.
"Less than fifty pistoles; here is half of them."
The Chevalier pushed the gold toward the lackey. "Take these, lad; they will carry you through till you find a new master. You have been a good and faithful servant."
Breton made a negative gesture. "Monsieur," timidly, "I do not want money, and I could never grow accustomed to a new master. I was born at the château in Périgny. My mother was your nurse and she loved you. I know your ways so well, Monsieur Paul. Can I not accompany you to Quebec? I ask no wages; I ask nothing but a kind word now and again, and a fourth of what you have to eat. I have saved a little, and out of that I will find my clothing."
The Chevalier smiled at Victor. "We never find constancy where we look for it. Lad," he said to Breton, "I can not take you with me. I am going not as a gentleman but as a common trooper, and they are not permitted to have lackeys. Take the money; it is all I can do for you."
Breton stretched a supplicating hand toward the poet.
"Let him go, Paul," urged Victor. "Du Puys will make an exception in your case. Let him go. My own lad Hector goes to my sister's, and she will take good care of him. You can't leave this lad here, Paul. Take him along."
"But your future?" still reluctant to see Victor leave France.
"It is there," with a nod toward the west.
"The vicomte . . ."
"We have signed a truce till we return to French soil."
"Well, if you will go," a secret joy in his heart. How he loved this poet!
"It is the land of fortune, Paul; it is calling to us. True, I shall miss the routs, the life at court, the plays and the gaming. But, horns of Panurge! I am only twenty-three. In three years I shall have conquered or have been conquered, and that is something. Do not dissuade me. You will talk into the face of the tempest. Rather make the going a joy for me. You know that at the bottom of your heart you are glad."
"Misery loves company; we are all selfish," replied the Chevalier, "My selfishness cries out for joy, but my sense of honesty tells me not to let you go. I shall never return to France. You will not be happy there."
"I shall be safer; and happiness is a matter of temperament, not of time and place. You put up a poor defense. Look! we have been so long together, Paul; eight years, since I was sixteen, and a page of her Majesty's. I should not know what to do without you. We have shared the same tents on the battlefield; I have borrowed your clothes and your money, and you have borrowed my sword, for that is all I have. Listen to me. There will be exploits over there, and the echo of them will wander back here to France. Fame awaits us. Are we not as brave and inventive as De Champlain, De Montmagny, De Lisle, and a host of others who have made money and name? Come; take my hand. Together, Paul, and what may not fortune hold for us!"
There was something irresistible in his pleading; and the Chevalier felt the need of some one on whom to spend his brimming heart of love. His face showed that he was weighing the matter and viewing it from all points. Presently the severe lines of his face softened.
"Very well, we shall go together, my poet," throwing an arm across Victor's shoulders. "We shall go together, as we have always gone. And, after all, what is a name but sounding brass? 'Tis a man's arm that makes or unmakes his honesty, not his thrift; his loyalty, rather than his self-interest. We shall go together. Come; we'll sign the major's papers, and have done with it."
Victor threw his hat into the air.
"And I, Monsieur Paul?" said Breton, trembling in his shoes, with expectancy or fear.
"If they will let you go, lad," kindly; and Breton fell upon his knees and kissed the Chevalier's hand.
The articles which made them soldiers, obedient first to the will of the king and second to the will of the Company of the Hundred Associates, were duly signed. Breton was permitted to accompany his master with the understanding that he was to entail no extra expense. Father Chaumonot was delighted; Brother Jacques was thoughtful; the major was neutral and incurious. As yet no rumor stirred its ugly head; the Chevalier's reasons for going were still a matter of conjecture. None had the courage to approach the somber young man and question him. The recruits and broken gentlemen had troubles of sufficient strength to be unmindful of the interest in the Chevalier's. The officers from Fort Louis bowed politely to the Chevalier, but came not near enough to speak. Excessive delicacy, or embarrassment, or whatever it was, the Chevalier appreciated it. As for the civilians who had enjoyed the hospitality of the Hôtel de Périgny, they remained unobserved on the outskirts of the crowd. The vicomte expressed little or no surprise to learn that Victor had signed. He simply smiled; for if others were mystified as to the poet's conduct, he was not. Often his glance roved toward the stairs; but there were no petticoats going up or coming down.
"Monsieur le Vicomte," said Brother Jacques, whose curiosity was eating deeply, "will you not explain to me the cause of the Chevalier's extraordinary conduct?"
"Ah, my little Jesuit!" said the vicomte; "so you are still burning with curiosity? Well, I promise to tell you all about it the first time I confess to you."
"Monsieur, have you any reason for insulting me?" asked Brother Jacques, coldly, his pale cheeks aflame.
"Good! there is blood in you, then?" laughed the vicomte, noting the color.
"Red and healthy, Monsieur," in a peculiar tone. Brother Jacques was within an inch of being as tall and broad as the vicomte.
The vicomte gazed into the handsome face, and there was some doubt in his own eyes. "You have not always been a priest?"
"And your antecedents?"
"A nobler race than yours, Monsieur," haughtily. "You also have grown curious, it would seem. I shall be associated with the Chevalier, and I desired to know the root of his troubles in order to help him. But for these robes, Monsieur, you would not use the tone you do."
"La, la! Take them off if they hamper you. But I like not curious people, I am not a gossip. The Chevalier has reasons in plenty. Ask him why he going to Quebec;" and the vicomte whirled on his heels, leaving the Jesuit the desire to cast aside his robes and smite the vicomte on the mouth.
"Swashbuckler!" he murmured. "How many times have you filched the Chevalier of his crowns by the use of clogged dice? . . . God pardon me, but I am lusting for that man's life!" His hand clutched his rosary and his lips moved in prayer, though the anger did not immediately die out of his eyes. He wandered among the crowds. Words and vague sentences filtered through the noise. Two gentlemen were conversing lowly. Brother Jacques neared them unconsciously, still at his beads.
"On my honor, it is as I tell you. The Chevalier . . ."
Brother Jacques raised his eyes,
"What! forfeited his rights in a moment of madness? Proclaimed himself to be . . . before you all? Impossible!"
The beads slipped through Brother Jacques's fingers. He leaned against the wall, his eyes round, his nostrils expanded. A great wave of pity surged over him. He saw nothing but the handsome youth who had spoken kindly to him at the Candlestick in Paris. That word! That invisible, searing iron! He straightened, and his eyes flashed like points of steel in the sunshine. That grim, wicked old man; not a thousand times a thousand livres would give him the key to Heaven. Brother Jacques left the tavern and walked along the wharves, breathing deeply of the vigorous sea-air.
Victor encountered the vicomte as the latter was about to go aboard.
"Ah," said the vicomte; "so you ran about with a drawn sword last night? Monsieur, you are only a boy." The vicomte never lost his banter; it was a habit.
"I was hot-headed and in wine." Victor had an idea in regard to the vicomte.
"The devil is always lurking in the pot; so let us not stir him again."
"I compliment you on your good sense. Monsieur, I've been thinking seriously. Has it not occurred to you that Madame de Brissac has that paper?"
"Would she seek Spain?" said Victor.
"True. But supposing Mazarin should be seeking her, paper or no paper, to force the truth from her?"
"The supposition, does not balance. She knows no more than you or I."
"And Monsieur le Comte's play-woman?"
"Horns of Panurge!" excitedly. "You have struck a new note, Vicomte. I recollect hearing that she was confined in some one of the city prisons. The sooner the Saint Laurent sails, the better."
"Would that some one we knew would romp into town from Paris. He might have news." The vicomte bit the ends of his mustache.
The opening of the tavern door cut short their conversation. A man entered rudely. He pressed and jostled every one in his efforts to reach Maître le Borgne. He was a man of splendid physical presence. His garments, though soiled and bedraggled by rough riding, were costly and rich. His spurs were bloody; and the dullness of the blood and the brightness of the steel were again presented in his fierce eyes. The face was not pleasing; it was too squarely hewn, too emotional; it indexed the heart too readily, its passions, its loves and its hates. There was cunning in the lips and caution in the brow; but the face was too mutable.
"The Comte d'Hérouville!" exclaimed the vicomte. "Saumaise, this looks bad. He is not a man to run away like you and me."
The new-comer spoke to the innkeeper, who raised his index finger and leveled it at Victor and the vicomte. On seeing them, D'Hérouville came over quickly.
"Messieurs," he began, "I am gratified to find you."
"The news!" cried the poet and the gamester.
"Devilish bad, Monsieur, for every one. The paper . . ."
"It is not here," interrupted the vicomte.
The count swore. "Mazarin has mentioned your name, Saumaise. You were a frequent visitor to the Hôtel de Brissac. As for me, I swore to a lie; but am yet under suspicion. Has either of you seen Madame de Brissac? I have traced her as far as Rochelle."
The vicomte looked humorously at the poet. Victor scowled. Of the two men he abhorred D'Hérouville the more. As for the vicomte, he laughed.
"You laugh, Monsieur?" said D'Hérouville, coldly. His voice was not unpleasant.
"Why, yes," replied the vicomte. "Has Mazarin published an edict forbidding a man to move his diaphragm? You know nothing about the paper, then?"
"Madame de Brissac knows where it is," was the startling declaration. "I ask you again, Messieurs, have you seen her?"
"She is in Rochelle," said the vicomte. How many men, he wondered, had been trapped, by madame's eyes?
"Where is she?" eagerly.
"He lies!" thought Victor. "He knows madame has no paper."
"Where she is just now I do not know."
"She is to sail for Quebec at one o'clock," said the poet.
There was admiration in the vicomte's glance. To send the count on a wild-goose chase to Quebec while madame sauntered leisurely toward Spain! It was a brilliant stroke, indeed.
"What boat?" demanded D'Hérouville.
"The Saint Laurent," answered the vicomte, playing out the lie.
Victor's glance was sullen.
"Wait a moment, man!" cried the vicomte, catching the count's cloak. "You can not mean to go running after madame in this fashion. You will compromise her. Besides, I have some questions to ask. What about De Brissac's play-woman?"
"Died in prison six days ago. She poisoned herself before they examined her." The count looked longingly toward the door.
"What! Poisoned herself? Then she must have loved that hoary old sinner!" The vicomte's astonishment was genuine.
The chilling smile which passed over the count's face was sinister. "I said she poisoned herself, advisedly."
"Oho!" The vicomte whistled, while Victor drew back.
"Now, Messieurs, will you permit me to go? It is high time you both were on the way to Spain." D'Hérouville stamped his foot impatiently.
"And you will go to Quebec?" asked the vicomte.
"Well then, till Monsieur de Saumaise and I see you on board. We are bound in that direction."
"You?" taken aback like a ship's sail.
"Why not, Monsieur," said Victor, a bit of irony in his tones, "since you yourself are going that way?"
"You took me by surprise." The count's eye ran up and down the poet's form. He moved his shoulders suggestively. "Till we meet again, then." And he left them.
"My poet," said the vicomte, "that was a stroke. Lord, how he will love you when he discovers the trick! What a boor he makes of himself to cover his designs! Here is a bag of trouble, and necessity has forced our hands into it. For all his gruffness and seeming impatience, D'Hérouville has never yet made a blunder or a mistake. Take care."
"Why do you warn me?" Victor was full to the lips with rage.
"Because, hang me, I like your wit. Monsieur, there is no need of you and me cutting each other's throats. Let us join hands in cutting D'Hérouville's. And there's the Chevalier; I had forgotten him. He and D'Hérouville do not speak. I had mapped out three dull months on the water, and here walks in a comedy of various parts. Let us try a pot of canary together. You ought to change that livery of yours. Somebody will be insulting you and you will be drawing your sword."
Victor followed the vicomte to a table. After all, there was something fascinating about this man, with that devil-may-care air of his, his banter and his courage. So he buried a large part of his animosity, and accepted the vicomte's invitation.
All within the tavern was marked by that activity which precedes a notable departure. Seamen were bustling about, carrying bundles, stores, ammunition, and utensils. Here and there were soldiers polishing their muskets and swords and small arms. There was a calling to and fro. The mayor of the city came in, full of Godspeed and cheer, and following him were priests from the episcopal palace and wealthy burghers who were interested in the great trading company. All Rochelle was alive.
The vicomte, like all banterers, possessed that natural talent of standing aside and reading faces and dissecting emotions. Three faces interested him curiously. The Chevalier hid none of his thoughts; they lay in his eyes, in the wrinkles on his brow, in the immobility of his pose. How easy it was to read that the Chevalier saw nothing, save in a nebulous way, of the wonderful panorama surrounding. He was with the folly of the night gone, with Paris, with to-day's regrets for vanished yesterday. The vicomte could see perfectly well that Victor's gaiety was natural and unassumed; that the past held him but loosely, since this past held the vision of an ax. The analyst passed on to Brother Jacques, and received a slight shock. The penetrating grey eyes of the priest caught his and held them menacingly.
"Ah!" murmured the vicomte, "the little Jesuit has learned the trick, too, it would seem. He is reading my face. I must know more of this handsome fellow whose blood is red and healthy. He comes from no such humble origin as Father Chaumonot. Bah! and look at those nuns: they are animated coffins, holding only dead remembrances and dried, perfumeless flowers."
A strong and steady east wind had driven away all vestige of the storm. The sea was running westward in long and swinging leaps, colorful, dazzling, foam-crested. The singing air was spangled with frosty brine-mist; a thousand flashes were cast back from the city windows; the flower of the lily fluttered from a hundred masts. A noble vision, truly, was the good ship Saint Laurent, standing out boldly against the clear horizon and the dark green of the waters. High up among the spars and shrouds swarmed the seamen. Canvas flapped and bellied as it dropped, from arm to arm, sending the fallen snow in a flurry to the decks. On the poop-deck stood the black-gowned Jesuits, the sad-faced nuns, several members of the great company, soldiers and adventurers. The wharves and docks and piers were crowded with the curious: bright-gowned peasants, soldiers from the fort, merchants, and a sprinkling of the noblesse. It was not every day that a great ship left the harbor on so long and hazardous a voyage.
The Chevalier leaned against the railing, dreamily noting the white faces in the sunshine. He was still vaguely striving to convince himself that he was in the midst of some dream. He was conscious of an approaching illness, too. When would he wake? . . . and where? A hand touched his arm. He turned and saw Brother Jacques. There was a kindly expression on the young priest's face. He now saw the Chevalier in a new light. It was not as the gay cavalier, handsome, rich, care-free; it was as a man who, suffering a mortal stroke, carried his head high, hiding the wound like a Spartan.
"A last look at France, Monsieur le Chevalier, for many a day to come."
The Chevalier nodded.
"For many days, indeed. . . . And who among us shall look upon France again in the days to come? It is a long way from the Candlestick in Paris to the deck of the Saint Laurent. The widest stretch of fancy would not have brought us together again. There is, then, some invisible hand that guides us surely and certainly to our various ends, as the English poet says." The Chevalier was speaking to a thought rather than to Brother Jacques. "Who among us shall look upon these shores again?"
"What about these shores, Paul?" asked Victor, coming up. "They are not very engaging just now."
"But it is France, Victor; it is France; and from any part of France Paris may be reached." He turned his face toward the north, in the direction of Paris. His eyes closed; he was very pale. "Do we not die sometimes, Victor, while yet the heart and brain go on beating and thinking?"
Victor grasped the Chevalier's hand. There are some friendships which are expressed not by the voice, but by the pressure of a hand, a kindling glance of the eye. Brother Jacques moved on. He saw that for the present he had no part in these two lives.
"Look!" Victor cried, suddenly, pointing toward the harbor towers.
"Jehan?" murmured the Chevalier. "Good old soul! Is he waving his hand, Victor? The sun . . . I can not see."
"Do you suppose your father . . ."
"Ah! Well, then, Monsieur le Marquis: do you suppose he has sent Jehan to verify the report that you sail for Quebec?"
"I do not suppose anything, Victor. As for Monsieur le Marquis, I have already ceased to hate him. How beautiful the sea is! And yet, contemplate the horror of its rolling over your head, beating your life out on the reefs. All beautiful things are cruel."
"But you are glad, Paul," affectionately, "that I am with you?"
"Both glad and sorry. For after a time you will return, leaving me behind."
"Perhaps. And yet who can say that we both may not return, only with fame marching on ahead to announce us in that wonderfully pleasing way she has?"
"It is your illusions that I love, Victor: I see myself again in you. Keep to your ballades, your chant-royals, your triolets; you will write an epic whenever you lose your illusions; and epics by Frenchmen are dull and sorry things. When you go below tell Breton to unpack my portmanteau."
On the wharf nearest the vessel stood two women, hooded so as to conceal their faces.
"There, Gabrielle; you have asked to see the Chevalier du Cévennes, that is he leaning against the railing."
"So that is the Chevalier. And he goes to Quebec. In mercy's name, what business has he there?"
"You are hurting my arm, dear. Victor would not tell me why he goes to Quebec."
"Ah, if he goes out of friendship for Victor, it is well."
"Is he not handsome?"
"Melancholy handsome, after the pattern of the Englishman's Hamlet. I like a man with a bright face. When does the Henri IV sail?" suddenly.
"Two weeks from to-morrow. To-morrow is Fools' Day."
"Why, then, do not those on yonder ship sail to-morrow instead of to-day?"
"You were not always so bitter."
"I must have my jest. To-morrow may have its dupes as well as its fools. . . . Silence! The Comte d'Hérouville in Rochelle? I am lost if he sees me. Let us go!" And Madame de Brissac dragged her companion back into the crowd. "That man here? Anne, you must hide me well."
"Why do you ask about the gloomy ship which is to take me to Quebec?" asked Anne, her curiosity aroused of a sudden.
Madame put a finger against her lips. "I shall tell you presently. Just now I must find a hiding place immediately. He must not know that I am here. He must have traced me here. Oh! am I not in trouble enough without that man rising up before me? I am afraid of him, Anne."
The two soon gained their chairs and disappeared. Neither of them saw the count go on board the ship.
On board all was activity. There came a lurch, a straining of ropes and a creaking of masts, and the good ship Saint Laurent swam out to sea. Suddenly the waters trembled and the air shook: the king's man-of-war had fired the admiral's salute. So the voyage began. Priests, soldiers, merchants, seamen, peasants and nobles, all stood silent on the poop-deck, watching the rugged promontory sink, turrets and towers and roofs merge into one another, black lines melt into grey; stood watching till the islands became misty in the sunshine and nothing of France remained but a long, thin, hazy line.
"The last of France, for the present," said the poet.
"And for the present," said the vicomte, "I am glad it is the last of France. France is not agreeable to my throat."
The Chevalier threw back his shoulders and stood away from the rail.
The Comte d'Hérouville, his face purple with rage and chagrin, came up. He approached Victor.
"Monsieur," he said, "you lied. Madame is not on board." He drew back his hand to strike the poet in the face, but fingers of iron caught his wrist and held it in the air.
"The day we land, Monsieur," said the Chevalier, calmly. "Monsieur de Saumaise is not your equal with the sword."
"And you?" with a sneer.
"Well, I can try."
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