Kategoria: Obyczajowe i romanse Język: angielski Rok wydania: 1903

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Opis ebooka The Grey Cloak - Harold MacGrath

In this novel a wide field of action is spread, many and varied characters live their daring and brilliant lives, and through it all the man and the woman whom the reader has learned to love walk in safety to a joyful climax.

Opinie o ebooku The Grey Cloak - Harold MacGrath

Fragment ebooka The Grey Cloak - Harold MacGrath


About MacGrath:

Harold MacGrath (September 4, 1871 - October 30, 1932) was a bestselling American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. Also known occasionally as Harold McGrath, he was born in Syracuse, New York. As a young man, he worked as a reporter and columnist on the Syracuse Herald newspaper until the late 1890s when he published his first novel, a romance titled Arms and the Woman. According to the New York Times, his next book, The Puppet Crown, was the No.7 bestselling book in the United States for all of 1901. From that point on, MacGrath never looked back, writing novels for the mass market about love, adventure, mystery, spies, and the like at an average rate of more than one a year. He would have three more of his books that were among the top ten bestselling books of the year. At the same time, he penned a number of short stories for major American magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, and Red Book magazine. Several of MacGrath's novels were serialized in these magazines and contributing to them was something he would continue to do until his death in 1932. In 1912, Harold MacGrath became one of the first nationally-known authors to write directly for the movies when he was hired by the American Film Company to do the screenplay for a short film in the Western genre titled The Vengeance That Failed. MacGrath had eighteen of his forty novels and three of his short stories made into films plus he wrote the story for another four motion pictures. And, three of his books were also made into Broadway plays. One of the many films made from MacGrath's writings was the 1913 serial The Adventures of Kathlyn starring Kathlyn Williams. While writing the thirteen episodes he simultaneously wrote the book that was published immediately after the December 29, 1913, premiere of the first episode of the serial so as to be in book stores during the screening of the entire thirteen episodes. Among MacGrath's short stories made into film was the 1920 Douglas Fairbanks Production Company's feature-length adventure film The Mollycoddle based on MacGrath's short story with the same title that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in 1913. Directed by Victor Fleming, it starred Fairbanks, Ruth Renick, and Wallace Beery and was distributed through the newly created United Artists. It is said that during this same time, a young Boris Karloff, who previously had a few uncredited film roles, chose his stage name for his first screen credit in 1920 from the MacGrath novel The Drums of Jeopardy, which had also been published by The Saturday Evening Post in January of that year and which featured a Russian mad scientist character named Boris Karlov. The name Boris Karlov was used from MacGrath's book for the 1922 Broadway play, but by 1923 with actor Boris Karloff using the similar sounding variation, the film version renamed the character Gregor Karlov. Harold MacGrath's success made him a wealthy man and, although he traveled the world extensively, Syracuse, New York, was his home, and it was there in 1912 that he built an English country-style mansion renowned for its landscaped gardens. In an article in the April 23, 1932, issue of The Saturday Evening Post written under the title "The Short Autobiography of a Deaf Man", MacGrath told the public how he had struggled early in life as a result of a hearing impairment. At a time in history when deaf people were almost automatically considered as lacking intellectual acuity, he had hid this from his employer and others. Harold MacGrath died at his home in Syracuse a few months after the article was published.

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The author has taken a few liberties with the lives of various historical personages who pass through these pages; but only for the story's sake. He is also indebted to the Jesuit Relations, to Old Paris, by Lady Jackson, and to Clark's History of Onondaga, the legend of Hiawatha being taken from the last named volume.


A man enveloped in a handsome grey cloak groped through a dark alley which led into the fashionable district of the Rue de Béthisy. From time to time he paused, with a hand to his ear, as if listening. Satisfied that the alley was deserted save for his own presence, he would proceed, hugging the walls. The cobbles were icy, and scarce a moment passed in which he did not have to struggle to maintain his balance. The door of a low tavern opened suddenly, sending a golden shaft of light across the glistening pavement and casting a brilliant patch on the opposite wall. With the light came sounds of laughter and quarreling and ringing glasses. The man laid his hand on his sword, swore softly, and stepped back out of the blinding glare. The flash of light revealed a mask which left visible only the lower half of his face. Men wearing masks were frequently subjected to embarrassing questions; and this man was determined that no one should question him to-night. He waited, hiding in the shadow.

Half a dozen guardsmen and musketeers reeled out. The host reviled them for a pack of rogues. They cursed him, laughing, and went on, to be swallowed up in the darkness beyond. The tavern door closed, and once more the alley was hued with melting greys and purples. The man in the cloak examined the strings of his mask, tilted his hat still farther down over his eyes, and tested the looseness of his sword.

"The drunken fools!" he muttered, continuing. "Well for them they came not this way."

When he entered the Rue de Béthisy, he stopped, searched up and down the thoroughfare. Far away to his right he saw wavering torches, but these receded and abruptly vanished round a corner of the Rue des Fossés St-Germain l'Auxerrois. He was alone. A hundred yards to his left, on the opposite side of the street, stood a gloomy but magnificent hôtel, one of the few in this quarter that was surrounded by a walled court. The hôtel was dark. So far as the man in the grey cloak could see, not a light filled any window. There were two gates. Toward the smaller of the two the man cautiously directed his steps. He tried the latch. The gate opened noiselessly, signifying frequent use.

"So far, so good!"

An indecisive moment passed, as though the man were nerving himself for an ordeal of courage and cunning. With a gesture resigning himself to whatever might befall, he entered the court, careful to observe that the way out was no more intricate than the way in.

"Now for the ladder. If that is missing, it's horse and away to Spain, or feel the edge of Monsieur Caboche. Will the lackey be true? False or true, I must trust him. Bernouin would sell Mazarin for twenty louis, and that is what I have paid. Monsieur le Comte's lackey. It will be a clever trick. Mazarin will pay as many as ten thousand livres for that paper. That fat fool of a Gaston, to conspire at his age! Bah; what a muddled ass I was, in faith! I, to sign my name in writing to a cabal! Only the devil knows what yonder old fool will do with the paper. Let him become frightened, let that painted play-woman coddle him; and it's the block for us all, all save Gaston and Condé and Beaufort. Ah, Madame, Madame, loveliest in all France, 'twas your beautiful eyes. For the joy of looking into them, I have soiled a fresh quill, tumbled into a pit, played the fool! And a silver crown against a golden louis, you know nothing about politics or intrigue, nor that that old fool of a husband is making a decoy of your beauty. But my head cleared this morning. That paper must be mine. First, because it is a guaranty for my head, and second, because it is likely to fatten my purse. It will be simple to erase my name and substitute another's. And this cloak! My faith, it is a stroke. To the devil with Gaston and Condé and Beaufort; their ambitions are nothing to me, since my head is everything."

He tiptoed across the stone flags.

"Faith, this is a delicate operation; and the paper may be hidden elsewhere into the bargain. We venture, we lose or we win; only this is somewhat out of my line of work. Self-preservation is not theft; let us ease our conscience with this sophism … Ha! the ladder. Those twenty louis were well spent. This is droll, good heart. An onlooker would swear that this is an assignation. Eh well, Romeo was a sickly lover, and lopped about like a rose in a wind-storm. Mercutio was the man!"

He had gained the side of the hôtel. From a window above came a faint yellow haze such as might radiate from a single candle. This was the signal that all was clear. The man tested the ladder, which was of rope, and it withstood his weight. Very gently he began to climb, stopping every three or four rounds and listening. The only noise came from the armory where a parcel of mercenaries were moving about. Up, up, round by round, till his fingers touched the damp cold stone of the window ledge; the man raised himself, leaned toward the left, and glanced obliquely into the room. It was deserted. A candle burned in a small alcove. The man drew himself quickly into the room, which was a kind of gallery facing the grand staircase. A sound coming from the hall below caused the intruder to slip behind a curtain. A lackey was unbarring the door. The man in the gallery wondered why.

"My very nerves have ears," he murmured. "If I were sure … to pay madame a visit while she sleeps and dreams!" His hand grew tense around the hilt of his sword. "No; let us play Iago rather than Tarquinius; let ambition, rather than love, strike the key-note. Greed was not born to wait. As yet I have robbed no man save at cards; and as every noble cheats when he can, I can do no less. Neither have I struck a man in the back. And I like not this night's business."

On the cold and silent night came ten solemn strokes from the clock of St.-Germain l'Auxerrois. Then all was still again. The man came from behind the curtain, his naked sword flashing evilly in the flickering light. He took up the candle and walked coolly down the wide corridor. The sureness of his step could have originated only in the perfect knowledge of the topography of the hôtel. He paused before a door, his ear to the keyhole.

"She sleeps! … and the wolf prowls without the door!" He mused over the wayward path by which he had come into the presence of this woman, who slept tranquilly beyond these panels of oak. He felt a glow on his cheeks, a quickening of his pulse. To what lengths would he not go for her sake? Sure of winning her love, yes, he would become great, rise purified from the slough of loose living. He had never killed a man dishonorably; he had won his duels by strength and dexterity alone. He had never taken an advantage of a weakling; for many a man had insulted him and still walked the earth, suffering only the slight inconvenience of a bandaged arm or a tender cheek, and a fortnight or so in bed. Condé had once said of him that there was not a more courageous man in France; but he could not escape recalling Condé's afterthought: that drink and reckless temper had kept him where he was. There was in him a vein of madness which often burst forth in a blind fury. It had come upon him in battle, and he had awakened many a time to learn that he had been the hero of an exploit. He was not a boaster; he was not a broken soldier. He was a man whose violent temper had strewn his path with failures… In love! Silently he mocked himself. In love, he, the tried veteran, of a hundred inconstancies! He smiled grimly beneath his mask. He passed on, stealthily, till he reached a door guarded by two effigies of Francis I. His sword accidentally touched the metal, and the soft clang tingled every nerve in his body. He waited. Far away a horse was galloping over the pavement. He tried the door, and it gave way to his pressure. He stood in the library of the master of the hôtel. In this very room, while his brain was filled with the fumes of wine and passion, he had scribbled his name upon crackling parchment on which were such names as Gaston d'Orléans, Condé, Beaufort, De Longueville, De Retz. Fool!

Grinning from the high shelves were the Greek masks, Comedy and Tragedy. The light from the candle gave a sickly human tint to the marble. He closed the door.

"Now for the drawer which holds my head; of love, anon!"

He knelt, placing the candle on the book-ledge. Along the bottom of the shelves ran a series of drawers. These he opened without sound, searching for secret bottoms. Drawer after drawer yawned into his face, and his heart sank. What he sought was not to be found. The last drawer would not open. With infinite care and toil he succeeded in prying the lock with the point of his sword, and his spirits rose. The papers in this drawer were of no use to any one but the owner. The man in the grey cloak cursed under his breath and a thrill of rage ran through him. He was about to give up in despair when he saw a small knob protruding from the back panel of the drawer. Eagerly he touched the knob, and a little drawer slid forth.

"Mine!" With trembling fingers he unfolded the parchment. He held it close to the candle and scanned each signature. There was his own, somewhat shaky, but nevertheless his own. … He brushed his eyes, as if cobwebs of doubt had suddenly gathered there. Her signature! Hers! "Roses of Venus, she is mine, mine!" He pressed his lips to the inken line. Fortune indeed favored him … or was it the devil? Hers! She was his; here was a sword to bend that proud neck. Ten thousand livres? There was more than that, more than that by a hundred times. Passion first, or avarice; love or greed? He would decide that question later. He slipped the paper into the pocket of the cloak. Curiosity drew him toward the drawer again. There was an old commission in the musketeers, signed by Louis XIII; letters from Madame de Longueville; an unsigned lettre-de-cachet; an accounting of the revenues of the various chateaus; and a long envelope, yellow with age. He picked it out of the drawer and blew away the dust. He read the almost faded address, and his jaw fell. … "To Monsieur le Marquis de Périgny, to be delivered into his hands at my death."

He was not conscious how long a time he stared at that address. Age had unsealed the envelope, and the man in the grey cloak drew out the contents. It was in Latin, and with some difficulty he translated it. … So rapt was he over what he read, so nearly in a dream he knelt there, that neither the sound of a horse entering the court nor the stir of activity in the armory held forth a menace.

"Good God, what a revenge!" he murmured. "What a revenge!"

Twice, three times, and yet again he drank of the secret. That he of all men should make this discovery! His danger became as nothing; he forgot even the object of his thieving visit.

"Well, Monsieur?" said a cold, dry voice from the threshold.

The man in the grey cloak leaped to his feet, thrusting the letter into the pocket along with the cabal. His long rapier snarled from its scabbard, just in time. The two blades hung in mid air.

"Nicely caught," said the cold, dry voice again. "What have you to say? It is hanging, Monsieur, hanging by the neck." The speaker was a man of sixty, white of hair, but wiry and active. "Ha! in a mask, eh? That looks bad for you. You are not a common thief, then? … That was a good stroke, but not quite high enough. Well?"

"Stand aside, Monsieur le Comte," said the man in the cloak. His tones were steady; all his fright was gone.

The steel slithered and ground.

"You know me, eh?" said the old man, banteringly. His blade ripped a hole in the cloak. "You have a voice that sounds strangely familiar to my ears."

"Your ears will soon be dull and cold, if you do not let me pass."

"Was it gold, or jewels? … Jesus!" The old man's gaze, roving a hair's breadth, saw the yawning drawers. "That paper, Monsieur, or you shall never leave this place alive! Hallo! Help, men! To me, Grégoire! Help, Captain!"

"Madame shall become a widow," said the man in the mask.

Back he pressed the old man, back, back, into the corridor, toward the stairs. They could scarce see each other, and it was by instinct alone that thrust was met by parry. Up the rear staircase came a dozen mercenaries, bearing torches. The glare smote the master in the eyes, and partly dazzled him. He fought valiantly, but he was forced to give way. A chance thrust, however, severed the cords of his opponent's mask.


There was a gurgling sound, a coughing, and the elder sank to his knees, rolled upon his side, and became still. The man in the grey cloak, holding the mask to his face, rushed down the grand staircase, sweeping aside all those who barred his path. He seemed possessed with strength and courage Homeric; odds were nothing. With a back hand-swing of his arm he broke one head; he smashed a face with the pommel; caught another by the throat and flung him headlong. In a moment he was out of the door. Down the steps he dashed, through the gate, thence into the street, a mob yelling at his heels. The light from the torches splashed him. A sharp gust of wind nearly tore the mask from his fingers. As he caught it, he ran full into a priest.

"Out of the way, then, curse you!"

Before the astonished priest, who was a young man, could rise from the pavement where the impact had sent him sprawling, the assailant had disappeared in the alley. He gained the door of the low tavern, flung it open, pushed by every one, upsetting several, all the while the bloody rapier in one hand and the mask held in place by the other. The astonished inmates of the tavern saw him leap like a huge bird and vanish through one of the windows, carrying the sash with him. But a nail caught the grey cloak, and it fluttered back to the floor. Scarce a moment had passed when the pursuers crowded in. When questioned, the stupefied host could only point toward the splintered window frame. Through this the men scrambled, and presently their yells died away in the distance.

A young man of ruddy countenance, his body clothed in the garments of a gentleman's lackey, stooped and gathered up the cloak.

"Holy Virgin!" he murmured, his eyes bulging, "there can not be two cloaks like this in Paris; it's the very same."

He crushed it under his arm and in the general confusion gained the alley, took to his legs, and became a moving black shadow in the grey. He made off toward the Seine.


Meanwhile terror stalked in the corridors of the hôtel. Lights flashed from window to window. The court was full of servants and mercenaries. For the master lay dead in the corridor above. A beautiful young woman, dressed in her night-robes, her feet in slippers, hair disordered and her eyes fixed with horror, gazed down at the lifeless shape. The stupor of sleep still held her in its dulling grasp. She could not fully comprehend the tragedy. Her ladies wailed about her, but she heeded them not. It was only when the captain of the military household approached her that she became fully aroused. She pressed her hand against her madly beating heart.

"Who did this?" she asked.

"A man in a mask, Madame," replied the captain, kneeling. He gently loosed the sword from the stiffening fingers. The master of twenty-five years was gone.

"In a mask?"

"Yes, Madame."

"And the motive ?"

"Not robbery, since nothing is disturbed about the hôtel save in monsieur's library. The drawers have all been pulled out."

With a sharp cry she crossed the corridor and entered the library. The open drawers spoke dumbly but surely.

"Gone!" she whispered. "We are all lost! He was fortunate in dying." Terror and fright vanished from her face and her eyes, leaving the one impassive and the other cold. She returned to the body and the look she cast on it was without pity or regret. Alive, she had detested him; dead, she could gaze on him with indifference. He had died, leaving her the legacy of the headsman's ax. And his play-woman? would she weep or laugh? … She was free. It came quickly and penetrated like a dry wine: she was free. Four odious years might easily be forgiven if not forgotten. "Take him to his room," she said softly. After all, he had died gallantly.

Soon one of the pursuers returned. He was led into the presence of his mistress.

"Have they found him?"

"No, Madame. He disappeared as completely as if the ground had swallowed him. All that can be added is that he wore a grey cloak."

"A grey cloak, did you say?" Her hand flew to her throat and her eyes grew wild again. "A grey cloak?"

"Yes Madame; a grey cloak with a square velvet collar."

"Ah!" said the captain, with a singular smile. He glanced obliquely at madame. But madame lurched forward into the arms of one of her waiting-women. She had fainted.


The Chevalier du Cévennes occupied the apartment on the first floor of the Hôtel of the Silver Candlestick, in the Rue Guénégaud. The apartment consisted of three rooms. In all Paris there was not to be found the like of them. They were not only elegant, they were simple; for true elegance is always closely allied to simplicity. Persian rugs covered the floors, rugs upon which many a true believer had knelt in evening prayer; Moorish tapestries hung from the walls, making a fine and mellow background for the various pieces of ancient and modern armor; here and there were Greek marbles and Italian vases; and several spirited paintings filled the gaps left between one tapestry and another. Sometimes the Chevalier entertained his noble friends, young and old, in these rooms; and the famous kitchens of Madame Boisjoli, the landlady of the Candlestick, supplied the delicacies of his tables. Ordinarily the Chevalier dined in the cheery assembly-room below; for, like all true gourmands of refinement, he believed that there is as much appetite in a man's ears and eyes as in his stomach, and to feed the latter properly there must be light, a coming and going of old and new faces, the rumor of voices, the jest, and the snatch of song.

At this moment the Chevalier was taking a bath, and was splashing about in the warm water, laughing with the joyous heart of a boy. With the mild steam rose the vague perfume of violets. Brave as a Crillon though he was, fearless as a Bussy, the Chevalier was something of a fop; not the mincing, lisping fop, but one who loved physical cleanliness, who took pride in the whiteness of his skin, the clarity of his eyes. There had been summer nights in the brilliant gardens of La Place Royale when he had been pointed out as one of the handsomest youths in Paris. Ah, those summer nights, the cymbals and trumpets of les beaux mousquetaires, the display of feathers and lace, unwrought pearls and ropes of precious stones, the lisping and murmuring of silks, the variety of colors, the fair dames with their hoods, their masks, their elaborate coiffures, the crowds in the balconies! All the celebrities of court might be seen promenading the Place; and to be identified as one above many was a plume such as all Mazarin's gold could not buy.

"My faith! but this has been a day," he murmured, gazing wistfully at his ragged nails. "Till I entered this tub there was nothing but lead in my veins, nothing but marble on my bones. Look at those boots, Breton, lad; a spur gone, the soles loose, the heels cracked. And that cloak! The mud on the skirts is a week old. And that scabbard was new when I left Paris. When I came up I looked like a swashbuckler in one of Scudéry's plays. I let no one see me. Indeed, I doubt if any would have recognized me. But a man can not ride from Rome to Paris, after having ridden from Paris to Rome, changing neither his clothes nor his horse, without losing some particle of his fastidiousness, and, body of Bacchus! I have lost no small particle of mine."

"Ah, Monsieur Paul," said the lackey, hiding the cast-off clothing in the closet, "I am that glad to see you safe and sound again!"

"Your own face is welcome, lad. What weather I have seen!" wringing his mustache and royal. "And Heaven forfend that another such ride falls my lot." He smiled at the ruddy heap in the fireplace.

What a ride, indeed! For nearly two weeks he had ridden over hills and mountains, through valleys and gorges, access deep and shallow streams, sometimes beneath the sun, sometimes beneath the moon or the stars, sometimes beneath the flying black canopies of midnight storms, always and ever toward Paris. He had been harried by straggling Spaniards; he had drawn his sword three times in unavoidable tavern brawls; he had been robbed of his purse; he had even pawned his signet-ring for a night's lodging: all because Mazarin had asked a question which only the pope could answer.

Paris at last!—Paris the fanciful, the illogical, the changeable, the wholly delightful Paris! He knew his Paris well, did the Chevalier. He had been absent thirty days, and on the way in from Fontainebleau, where he had spent the preceding night at the expense of his signet-ring, he had wondered what changes had taken place among the exiles and favorites during this time. What if the Grande Mademoiselle again headed that comic revolution, the Fronde, as in the old days when she climbed the walls at Orléans and assumed command against the forces of the king? What if Monsieur de Retz issued orders from the Palais Royal, using the same-pen with which Mazarin had demanded his resignation as Archbishop of Paris? In fact, what if Madame de Longueville, aided by the middle class, had once more taken up quarters in the Hôtel de Ville? Oh! so many things happened in Paris in thirty days that the Chevalier would not have been surprised to learn that the boy Louis had declared to govern his kingdom without the assistance of ministers, priests, and old women. Ah, that Fronde! Those had been gallant days, laughable, it is true; but every one seemed to be able to pluck a feather from the golden goose of fortune. He was eighteen then, and had followed the royal exodus to Germain.

The Chevalier sighed as he continued to absorb the genial heat of the water. The captain at the Porte Saint Antoine had told him that the Grande Mademoiselle was still in exile at Blois, writing lampoons against the court and particularly against Mazarin; that De Retz was biting his nails, full of rage and impotence against those fetters which banishment casts around men of action; that Madame de Longueville was conducting a love-intrigue in Normandy; and that Louis had to borrow or beg his pocket-money. Strange as it seemed to the Chevalier, Paris was unchanged.

But what warmed the Chevalier's heart, even as the water warmed his body, was the thought of that adorable mystery, that tantalizing, haunting mystery, the woman unknown. This very room was made precious by the fact that its air had once embraced her with a familiarity such as he had never dared assume. What a night that had been! She had come, masked; she had dined; at his protestations of love she had laughed, as one laughs who hears a droll story; and in the attempt to put his arm around her waist, the cold light flashing from her half-hidden eyes had stilled and abashed him. Why did she hold him, yet repel? What was her object? Was she some princess who had been hidden away during her girlhood, to appear only when the bud opened into womanhood, rich, glorious, and warm? Like a sunbeam, like a shadow, she flitted through the corridors and galleries of the Louvre and the Palais Royal, and whenever he had sought to point her out to some one, to discover her name, lo, she was gone! Tormenting mystery! Ah, that soft lisp of hers, those enchanting caprices, those amazing extravagances of fancy, that wit which possessed the sparkle of white chambertin! He would never forget that summer night when, dressed as a boy, she had gone with him swashbuckling along the quays. And for all these meetings, for all her supplicating or imperious notes, what had been his reward? To kiss her hand when she came, to kiss her hand when she went, and all the while her lips burned like a cardinal poppy and her eyes lured like those phantom lakes of the desert. True, he had often kissed her perfumed tresses without her knowledge; but what was that? Why had he never taken by force that which entreaty did not win? Love. Man never uses force where he loves. When would the day come when the hedge of mystery inclosing her would be leveled? "Love you, Monsieur?" she had said. "Ah, well, in a way!"

The Chevalier smiled. Yes, it was fine to be young, and rich, and in love. He recalled their first meeting. He had been placed on guard at the entrance to the grand gallery at the Palais Royal, where Mazarin was giving a mask. Presently a slender, elegant youth in the garb of a grey musketeer approached.

"Your name, Monsieur, if you please," he said, scanning the list of invited guests.

"I am one of those who pass without the interrogatory." The voice was hoarse, affectedly so; and this roused the Chevalier's suspicions.

"I can not believe that," he laughed, "since Monsieur le Duc, his Majesty's brother, was good enough to permit me to question him." He leaned against the wall, smiling and twisting his mustache. What a charming musketeer!

"What!" haughtily, "you parley with me?" A gauntleted hand flew to a jeweled hilt.

"Monsieur will not be so rude?" mockingly.

"Monsieur!" with a stamp of the foot—a charming foot.

"Monsieur!" he mimicked, also stamping a foot which, though shapely, was scarce charming.

Then through the curtain of the mask there came a low, rollicking laugh. The hand fell away from the sword-hilt, and a grey gauntlet slipped to the floor, discovering a hand as dazzling white and begemmed as that on which Anne of Austria prided herself.

"Death of my life!" said a voice as soft and musical as the vibration of a bell, "you make an admirable Cerberus. My gauntlet." The sweep of the hand fascinated him. "Are your ears like the sailors' of Ulysses, filled with wax? I am asking you to pick up my gauntlet."

As he stooped to obey the command, a laugh sounded behind him, and he knew that he had been tricked. The little musketeer had vanished. For a moment he was disturbed. In vain he searched the gauntlet for some distinguishing sign. But as reason told him that no harm could possibly come from the prank, his fears subsided, and he laughed. On being relieved from duty, later, he sought her, to return the gauntlet. She was talking to Mademoiselle de Longueville. As she saw the Chevalier, she moved away. The Chevalier, determined on seeing the adventure to its end, followed her deliberately. She sat in a window-seat. Without ceremony he sat down beside her.

"Monsieur," he said, smiling, and he was very handsome when he smiled, "permit me to return this gauntlet."

She folded her arms, and this movement of her shoulders told him that she was laughing silently.

"Are you madame or mademoiselle?" he asked, eagerly.

She raised her mask for an instant, and his subjugation was complete. The conversation which ensued was so piquant and charming that thereafter whatever warmth the gauntlet knew was gathered not from her hand but from the Chevalier's heart.


The growing chill in the water brought the Chevalier out of his reverie. He leaped from the tub and shone rosily in the firelight, as elegantly proportioned a youth as ever was that fabulous Leander of the Hellespont.

"Bring me those towels I purchased from the wandering Persian. I regret that I did not have them blessed by his Holiness. For who knows what spell the heretic Saracen may have cast over them?"

"Monsieur knows," said Breton piously, "that I have had them sprinkled with the blessed water."

The Chevalier laughed. He was rather a godless youth, and whatever religion he possessed was merely observance of forms. "Donkey, if the devil himself had offered them for sale, I should have taken them, for they pleased me; and besides, they have created a fashion. I shall wear my new baldric—the red one. I report at the Palais Royal at eight, and I've an empty stomach to attend to. Be lively, lad. Duty, duty, always duty," snatching the towels. "I have been in the saddle since morning; I am still dead with stiffness; yet duty calls. Bah! I had rather be fighting the Spaniard with Turenne than idle away at the Louvre. Never any fighting save in pothouses; nothing but ride, ride, ride, here, there, everywhere, bearing despatches not worth the paper written on, but worth a man's head if he lose them. And what about? Is this person ill? Condolences. Is this person a father? Congratulations. Monsieur, the king's uncle, is ailing; I romp to Blois. A cabal is being formed in Brussels; I gallop away. His Eminence hears of a new rouge; off I go. And here I have been to Rome and back with a message which made the pope laugh; is it true that he is about to appoint a successor? Mazarin, tiring of being a left-handed king, aspires to the mantle of Saint Peter. Mazarin always selects me for petty service. Why? Oh, Monsieur le Chevalier, having an income, need not be paid moneys; because Monsieur le Chevalier was born in the saddle, his father is an eagle, his grandsire was a centaur. And don't forget the grey cloak, lad, the apple of my eye, the admiration of the ladies, and the confusion of mine enemies; my own particular grey cloak." By this time the Chevalier was getting into his clothes; fine cambrics, silk hose, velvet pantaloons, grey doublet, and shoes with buckles and red heels.

"But the grey cloak, Monsieur Paul …" began the lackey.

"What! you have dared to soil it?"

"No, Monsieur; but you have forgotten that you loaned it to Monsieur de Saumaise, prior to your departure to Italy. He has not returned it."

"That's not like Victor. And I had dreamed of wearing that cloak. Mademoiselle complimented me on it, and that fop De Montausier asked me how many pistoles I paid for it."

"The purple cloak is new, Monsieur. It is fully as handsome as the grey one. All it lacks is the square collar you invented."

"Ah well, since there is no grey cloak. Now the gossip. First of all, my debts and debtors."

"Monsieur de Saumaise," said Breton, "has remitted the ten louis he lost to you at tennis."

"There's a friend; ruined himself to do it. Poetry and improvidence; how they cling together!"

"Brisemont, the jeweler, says that the garters you ordered will come to one hundred and ten pistoles. But he wants to know what the central gem shall be, rubies or sapphires surrounding."

"Topaz for the central gem, rubies and diamonds for the rest. The clasps must match topaz eyes. And they must be done by Monday."

"Monsieur's eyes are grey," the lackey observed slyly.

"Rascal, you are asking a question!"

"No, Monsieur, I was simply stating a fact. Plutarch says …"

"Plutarch? What next?" in astonishment.

"I have just bought a copy of Amyot's translation with the money you gave me. Plutarch is fine, Monsieur."

"What shall a gentleman do when his lackey starts to quote Plutarch?" with mock helplessness. "Well, lad, read Plutarch and profit. But keep your grimy hands off my Rabelais, or I'll trounce you."

Breton flushed guiltily. If there was one thing he enjoyed more than another it was the adventures of the worthy Pantagruel and his resourceful esquire; but he had never been able to complete this record of extravagant exploits, partly because he could not read fast enough and partly because his master kept finding new hiding places for it.

"A messenger from De Guitaut," he said, "called this morning for you."

"For me? That is strange. The captain knew that I could not arrive before to-night, which is the twentieth."

"I told the officer that. He laughed curiously and said that he expected to find you absent."

"What the devil did he call for, then?"

Breton made a grimace which explained his inability to answer this question.

The Chevalier stood still and twisted his mustache till the ends were like needle-points. "Horns of Panurge! as Victor would say; is it possible for any man save Homer to be in two places at once? Possibly I am to race for some other end of France. I like it not. Mazarin thinks because I am in her Majesty's Guards that I belong to him. Plague take him, I say."

He snapped the buckles on his shoes, while Breton drew from its worn scabbard the Chevalier's campaign rapier, long and flexile, dreaded by many and respected by all, and thrust it into the new scabbard,

"Ah, Monsieur," said Breton, stirred by that philosophy which, one gathers from a first reading of Plutarch, "a man is a deal like a sword. If he be good and true, it matters not into what kind of scabbard he is thrust."

"Aye, lad; but how much more confidence a handsome scabbard gives a man! Even a sword, dressed well, attracts the eye; and, heart of mine, what other aim have we poor mortals than to attract?"

"Madame Boisjoli makes out her charges at twelve louis, including the keep of the horses."

"That is reasonable, considering my absence. Mignon is an excellent woman."

"The Vicomte d'Halluys did not come as he promised with the eight hundred pistoles he lost to you at vingt-et-un."

"Ah!" The Chevalier studied the pattern in the rug. "Eh, well, since I had no pistoles, I have lost none. I was deep in wine, and so was he; doubtless he has forgotten. The sight of me will recall his delinquency."

"That is all of the debts and credits, Monsieur."

"The gossip, then, while I trim my nails. Paris can not have stood still like the sun of Joshua's time, simply because I was not here."

"Beaufort has made up with Madame de Montbazon."

"Even old loves can become new loves. Go on."

Breton recounted the other important court news, while the Chevalier nodded, or frowned, as the news affected him.

"Mademoiselle Catharine …"

"Has that woman been here again?"

"Yes, Monsieur."

"You attended her down the stairs?"

"I did, but she behaved coarsely and threatened not to cease coming until you had established her in the millinery."

The Chevalier roared with laughter. "And all I did was to kiss the lass and compliment her cheeks. There's a warning for you, lad."

Breton looked aggrieved. His master's gallantries never ceased to cause him secret unrest.

"Yesterday your quarterly remittance from Monsieur le Marquis, your father, arrived."

"Was there a letter?" with subdued eagerness.

"There was nothing but the gold, Monsieur," answered Breton, his eyes lowered. How many times during the past four years had his master asked this question, always to receive the same answer?

The Chevalier's shoulders drooped. "Who brought it?"

"Jehan," said the lackey.

"Had he anything to say?"

"Very little. Monsieur le Marquis has closed the chateau in Périgny and is living at the hôtel in Rochelle."

"He mentions my name?"

"No, Monsieur."

The Chevalier crossed the room and stood by one of the windows. It was snowing ever so lightly. The snow-clouds, separating at times as they rushed over the night, discovered the starry bowl of heaven. Some noble lady's carriage passed surrounded by flaring torches. But the young man saw none of these things. A sense of incompleteness had taken hold of him. The heir to a marquisate, the possessor of an income of forty thousand livres the year, endowed with health and physical beauty, and yet there was a flaw which marred the whole. It was true that he was light-hearted, always and ever ready for a rout, whether with women or with men, whether with wine or with dice; but under all this brave show there was a canker which ate with subtile slowness, but surely. To be disillusioned at the age of sixteen by one's own father! To be given gold and duplicate keys to the wine-cellars! To be eye-witness of Roman knights over which this father had presided like a Tiberius!

The Duchesse de Montbazon had been in her youth a fancy of the marquis, his father. Was it not a fine stroke of irony to decide that this son of his should marry the obscure daughter of madame?—the daughter about whom very few had ever heard? Without the Chevalier's sanction, miniatures had been exchanged. When the marquis presented him with that of Mademoiselle de Montbazon, together with his desires, he had ground the one under foot without glancing at it, and had laughed at the other as preposterous. Since that night the marquis had ceased to recall his name. The Chevalier's mother had died at his birth; thus, he knew neither maternal nor paternal love; and a man must love something which is common with his blood. Even now he would have gone half-way, had his father's love come to meet him. But no; Monsieur le Marquis loved only his famous wines, his stories, and his souvenirs. Bah! this daughter had been easily consoled. The Comte de Brissac was fully sixty. The Chevalier squared his shoulders and shifted his baldric.

With forced gaiety he turned to his lackey. "Lad, let us love only ourselves. Self-love is always true to us. We will spend our gold and play the butterfly while the summer lasts. It will be cold soon, and then … pouf! To-morrow you will take the gold and balance my accounts."

"Yes, Monsieur. Will Monsieur permit a familiarity by recalling a forbidden subject?"


"Monsieur le Comte de Brissac died last night," solemnly.

"What! of old age?" ironically.

"Of steel. A gallant was entering by a window, presumably to entertain madame, who is said to be young and as beautiful as her mother was. Monsieur le Comte appeared upon the scene; but his guard was weak. He was run through the neck. The gallant wore a mask. That is all I know of the scandal."

"Happy the star which guided me from the pitfall of wedded life! What an escape! I must inform Monsieur le Marquis. He will certainly relish this bit of scandal which all but happened at his own fireside. Certainly I shall inform him. It will be like caviar to the appetite. I shall dine before the effect wears off." The Chevalier put on his hat and cloak, and took a final look in the Venetian mirror. "Don't wait for me, lad; I shall be late. Perhaps to-night I shall learn her name."

Breton smiled discreetly as his master left the room. Between a Catharine of the millinery and a mysterious lady of fashion there was no inconsiderable difference.


"Monsieur Paul?" cried the handsome widow of Monsieur Boisjoli, stepping from behind the pastry counter.

"Yes, Mignon, it is I," said the Chevalier; "that is, what remains of me."

"What happiness to see you again!" she exclaimed. She turned to a waiter. "Charlot, bring Monsieur le Chevalier the pheasant pie, the ragout of hare, and a bottle of chambertin from the bin of '36."

"Sorceress!" laughed the Chevalier; "you have sounded the very soul of me. Thanks, Mignon, thanks! Next to love, what is more to a man than a full stomach? Ah, you should have seen me when I came in! And devil take this nose of mine; not even steam and water have thawed the frost from it." He chucked her under the chin and smiled comically, all of which made manifest that the relations existing between the hostess of the Candlestick and her principal tenant were of the most cordial and Platonic character.

"And you have just returned from Rome? Ah, what a terrible ride!"

"Abominable, Mignon."

"And I see you hungry!" She sighed, and her black eyes grew moist and tender. Madame Boisjoli was only thirty-two. She was young.

"But alive, Mignon, alive; don't forget that."

"You have had adventures?" eagerly; for she was a woman who loved the recital of exploits. Monsieur Boisjoli had fallen as a soldier at Charenton.

"Adventures? Oh, as they go," slapping his rapier and his pockets which had recently been very empty.

"You have been wounded?"

"Only in the pockets, dear, and in the tender quick of comfort. And will you have Charlot hasten that pie? I can smell it from afar, and my mouth waters."

"This moment, Monsieur;" and she flew away to the kitchens.

The Chevalier took this temporary absence as an opportunity to look about him. Only one table was occupied. This occupant was a priest who was gravely dining off black bread and milk served in a wooden bowl. But for the extreme pallor of his skin, which doubtless had its origin in the constant mortification of the flesh, he would have been a singularly handsome man. His features were elegantly designed, but it was evident that melancholy had recast them in a serious mold. His face was clean-shaven, and his hair clipped, close to the skull. There was something eminently noble in the loftiness of the forehead, and at the same time there was something subtly cruel in the turn of the nether lip, as though the spirit and the flesh were constantly at war. He was young, possibly not older than the Chevalier, who was thirty.

The priest, as if feeling the Chevalier's scrutiny, raised his eyes. As their glances met, casually in the way of gratifying a natural curiosity, both men experienced a mental disturbance which was at once strange and annoying. Those large, penetrating grey eyes; each seemed to be looking into his own as in a mirror.

The Chevalier was first to disembarrass himself. "A tolerably shrewd night, Monsieur," he said with a friendly gesture.

"It is the frost in the air, my son," the priest responded in a mellow barytone. "May Saint Ignatius listen kindly to the poor. Ah, this gulf you call Paris, I like it not."

"You are but recently arrived?" asked the Chevalier politely.

"I came two days ago. I leave for Rouen this night."

"What! you travel at night, and leave a cheery tavern like this?" All at once the crinkle of a chill ran across the Chevalier's shoulders. The thumb, the forefinger and the second of the priest's left hand were twisted, reddened stumps.

"Yes, at night; and the wind will be rough, beyond the hills. But I have suffered worse discomforts;" and to this statement the priest added a sour smile. He had seen the shudder. He dropped the maimed hand below the level of the table.

"You ride, however?" suggested the Chevalier.

"A Spanish mule, the gift of Father Vincent."

"Her Majesty's confessor?"


"You are a Jesuit?"

"I have the happiness to serve God in that order. I have just presented my respects to her Majesty and Cardinal Mazarin. I am come from America, my son, to see his Eminence in regard to the raising of funds for some new missions we have in mind; but I have been indifferently successful, due possibly to my lack of eloquence and to the fact that my superior, Father Chaumonot, was unable to accompany me to Paris. I shall meet him in Rouen."

"And so you are from that country of which I have heard so much of late—that France across the sea?" The Chevalier's tones expressed genuine interest. He could now account for the presence of the mutilated hand. Here was a man who had seen strange adventures in a strange land. "New France!" musingly.

"Yes, my son; and I am all eagerness to return."

The Chevalier laughed pleasantly. "Pardon my irrelevancy, but I confess that it excites my amusement to be called 'son' by one who can not be older than myself."

"It is a habit I acquired with the savages. And yet, I have known men of fifty to be young," said the Jesuit, his brows sinking. "I have known men of thirty to be old. Youth never leaves us till we have suffered. I am old, very old." He was addressing some inner thought rather than the Chevalier.

"Well, I am thirty, myself," said the Chevalier with assumed lightness. "I am neither young nor old. I stand on the threshold. I can not say that I have suffered since I have known only physical discomforts. But to call me 'son' …"

"Well, then," replied the priest, smiling, "since the disparity in years is so small as to destroy the dignity of the term, I shall call you my brother. All men are brothers; it is the Word."

"That is true." How familiar this priest's eyes were! "But some are rich and some are poor; beggars and thieves and cutthroats; nobly and basely born."

The Jesuit gazed thoughtfully into his bowl. "Yes, some are nobly and some are basely born. I have often contemplated what a terrible thing it must be to possess a delicate, sensitive soul and a body disowned; to long for the glories of the world from behind the bar sinister, an object of scorn, contumely and forgetfulness; to be cut away from the love of women and the affection of men, the two strongest of human ties; to dream what might and should have been; to be proved guilty of a crime we did not commit; to be laughed at, to beg futilely, always subject to that mental conflict between love and hate, charity and envy. Yes; I can think of nothing which stabs so deeply as the finger of ridicule, unmerited. I am not referring to the children of kings, but to the forgotten by the lesser nobility."

His voice had risen steadily, losing its music but gaining a thrilling intenseness. Strange words for a priest, thought the Chevalier, who had spoken with irony aforethought. Glories of the world, the love of women; did not all priests forswear these? Perhaps his eyes expressed his thought, for he noted a faint color on the priest's checks.

"I am speaking as a moral physician, Monsieur," continued the priest, his composure recovered; "one who seeks to observe all spiritual diseases in order to apply a remedy."

"And is there a remedy for a case such as you have described?" asked the Chevalier, half mockingly.

"Yes; God gives us a remedy even for such an ill."

"And what might the remedy be?"


"What is your religious name, Monsieur?" asked the Chevalier, strangely subdued.

"I am Father Jacques, protégé of the kindly Chaumonot. But I am known to my brothers and friends as Brother Jacques. And you, Monsieur, are doubtless connected with the court."

"Yes. I am known as the Chevalier du Cévennes, under De Guitaut, in her Majesty's Guards."

"Cévennes?" the priest repeated, ruminating. "Why, that is the name of a mountain range in the South."

"So it is. I was born in that region, and it pleased me to bear Cévennes as a name of war. I possess a title, but I do not assume it; I simply draw its revenues." The Chevalier scowled at his buckles, as if some disagreeable thought had come to him.

The priest remarked the change in the soldier's voice; it had grown harsh and repellent. "Monsieur, I proceed from Rouen to Rochelle; are you familiar with that city?"

"Rochelle? Oh, indifferently."

The Jesuit plucked at his lips for a space, as if hesitant to break the silence. "Have you ever heard of the Marquis de Périgny?"

The Chevalier whirled about. "The Marquis de Périgny? Ah, yes; I have heard of that gentleman. Why do you ask?"

"It is said that while he is a bad Catholic, he is generous in his charities. Father Chaumonot and I intend to apply to him for assistance. Mazarin has not been very liberal. Ah, how little they dream of the length and breadth and riches of this France across the sea! Monsieur le Marquis is rich?"

"Rich; but a bad Catholic truly." The Chevalier laughed without merriment. "The marquis and charity? Why not oil and water? They mix equally well."

"You do not seem quite friendly toward the Marquis?" suggested Brother Jacques.

"No; I am not particularly fond of Monsieur le Marquis," patting the pommel of his sword.

"Monsieur le Marquis has wronged you?" asked the priest, a fire leaping into his eyes.

"It is a private affair, Monsieur," coldly.

"Pardon me!" Brother Jacques made a gesture of humility. He rolled the bread crumbs into a ball which he dropped into the bowl. Presently he pushed aside the bowl and rose, his long black cassock falling to his ankles. He drew his rosary through his belt and put on his shovel-shaped hat.

Again the Chevalier's attention was drawn toward the mutilated hand.

"The pastimes of savages, Monsieur," Brother Jacques said grimly, holding out his hand for inspection: "the torture of the pipe, which I stood but poorly. Well, my brother, I am outward bound, and Rouen is far away. The night is beautiful, for the wind will drive away the snow-clouds and the stars will shine brightly. Peace be with you."

"I wish you well, Monsieur," returned the Chevalier politely.

Then Brother Jacques left the Candlestick, mounted his mule, and rode away, caring as little as the Chevalier whether or not their paths should cross again.

"Monsieur le Marquis!" murmured the Chevalier, staring at the empty bowl. "So the marquis, my father, gives to the Church? That is droll. Now, why does the marquis give to the Church? He has me there. Bah! and this priest's eyes. Ah!" as he saw Madame Boisjoli returning, followed by Charlot who carried the smoking supper; "here is something that promises well."

"Brother Jacques is gone?" said madame, her eyes roving.

"Yes." The Chevalier sat down at a table.

"Monsieur Paul?" timidly.

"Well, Mignon?" smiling. Mignon was certainly good to look at.

"Did you notice Brother Jacques's eyes?"

"Do you mean to say that you, too, observed them?" with a shade of annoyance. Vanity compelled him to resent this absurd likeness.

"Immediately. It was so strange. And what a handsome priest!" slyly.

"Shall I call him back, Mignon?" laughing.

Madame exhibited a rounded shoulder.

"Bah with them all, Mignon, priests, cardinals, and journeys." And half an hour later, having demolished all madame had set before him, besides sharing the excellent chambertin, the Chevalier felt the man made whole again. The warmth of the wine turned the edge of his sterner thoughts; and at ten minutes to eight he went forth, a brave and gallant man, handsome and gaily attired, his eyes glowing with anticipating love, blissfully unconscious of the extraordinary things which were to fall to his lot from this night onward.

The distance from the Candlestick was too short for the need of a horse, so the Chevalier walked, lightly humming an old chanson of the reign of Louis XIII, among whose royal pastimes was that of shaving his courtiers:

        "Alas, my poor barber,
        What is it makes you sad?"
        "It is the grand king Louis,
        Thirteenth of that name.

He swung into the Rue Dauphin and mounted the Pont Neuf, glancing idly below at the ferrymen whose torches threw on the black bosom of the Seine long wavering threads of phantom fire. The snow-clouds had passed over, and the stars were shining; the wind was falling. The quays were white; the Louvre seemed but a vast pile of ghostly stones. The hands of the clock in the quaint water-tower La Samaritaine pointed at five to eight. Oddly enough there came to the Chevalier a transitory picture of a young Jesuit priest, winding through the bleak hills on the way to Rouen. The glories of the world, the love of women? What romance lay smoldering beneath that black cassock? What secret grief? What sin? Brother Jacques? The name signified nothing. Like all courtiers of his time, the Chevalier entertained the belief that when a handsome youth took the orders it was in the effort to bury some grief rather than to assist in the alleviation of the sorrows of mankind.

He walked on, skirting the Louvre and presently entering the courtyard of the Palais Royal. The number of flambeaux, carriages and caleches indicated to him that Mazarin was giving a party. He lifted his cloak from his shoulders, shook it, and threw it over his arm, and ascended the broad staircase, his heart beating swiftly. Would he see her? Would she be in the gallery? Would this night dispel the mystery? At the first landing he ran almost into Captain de Guitaut, who was descending.

"Cévennes?" cried the captain, frankly astounded.

"And freshly from Rome, my Captain. His Eminence is giving a party?"

"Are you weary of life, Monsieur?" asked the captain. "What are you doing here? I had supposed you to be a man of sense, and on the way to Spain. And my word of honor, you stick your head down the lion's mouth! Follow your nose, follow your nose; it is none of my affair." And the gruff old captain passed on down the stairs.

The Chevalier stared after him in bewilderment. Spain? … Weary of life? What had happened?

"Monsieur du Cévennes?" cried a thin voice at his elbow.

The Chevalier turned and beheld Bernouin, the cardinal's valet.

"Ah!" said the Chevalier. Here was a man to explain the captain's riddle. "Will you announce to his Eminence that I have returned from Rome, and also explain why you are looking at me with such bulging eyes? Am I a ghost?" The Chevalier, being rich, was one of the few who were never overawed by the grandeur of Mazarin's valet. "What is the matter?"

"Matter?" repeated the valet. "Matter? Nothing, Monsieur, nothing!" quickly. "I will this instant announce your return to monseigneur."

"One would think that I had been trying to run away," mused the Chevalier, following the valet.


Meanwhile a lackey dressed in no particular livery entered the Hôtel of the Silver Candlestick and inquired for Monsieur Breton, lackey to Monsieur le Chevalier du Cévennes. He was directed to the floor above. On hearing a knock, Breton hastily closed the book he was reading and went to the door. The hallway was so dark that he could distinguish no feature of his caller.

"Monsieur Breton?" the strange lackey inquired,

"Are you seeking me?" Breton asked diplomatically.

"I was directed to deliver this to you. It is for your master," and the stranger placed a bundle in Breton's hands. Immediately he turned and disappeared down the stairs. Evidently he desired not to be questioned.

Breton surveyed the bundle doubtfully, turned it this way and that. On opening it he was greatly surprised to find his master's celebrated grey cloak. He examined it. It was soiled and rent in several places. Breton hung it up in the closet, shaking his head.

"This is very irregular," he muttered. "Monsieur de Saumaise would never have returned it in this condition; besides, Hector would have been the messenger. What will Monsieur Paul say when he sees it?"

And, knowing that he had no cause to worry, and having not the slightest warning that his master's liberty was in danger, Breton reseated himself by the candles and continued his indulgence in stolen sweets; that is to say, he renewed the adventures of that remarkable offspring of Gargantua.