Bardelys the Magnificent
I turned it over in my mind, after I had left the King's presence, whether or not I
should visit with my own hands upon Chatellerault the punishment he had so fully
earned. That I would have gone about the task rejoicing you may readily imagine;
but there was that accursed wager, and - to restrain me - the thought of how
such an action might be construed into an evasion of its consequences. Better a
thousand times that His Majesty should order his arrest and deal with him for his
attempted perversion of justice to the service of his own vile ends. The charge of
having abused his trust as King's commissioner to the extent of seeking to do
murder through the channels of the Tribunal was one that could not fail to have
fatal results for him - as, indeed, the King had sworn.
That was the position of affairs as it concerned Chatellerault, the world, and me.
But the position must also be considered as it concerned Roxalanne, and deeply,
indeed, did I so consider it. Much pondering brought me again to the conclusion
that until I had made the only atonement in my power, the only atonement that
would leave me with clean hands, I must not again approach her.
Whether Chatellerault had cheated or not could not affect the question as it
concerned Mademoiselle and me. If I paid the wager --whether in honour bound
to do so or not - I might then go to her, impoverished, it is true, but at least with
no suspicion attaching to my suit of any ulterior object other than that of winning
I could then make confession, and surely the fact that I had paid where clearly
there was no longer any need to pay must earn me forgiveness and afford proof
of the sincerity of my passion.
Upon such a course, then, did I decide, and, with this end in view, I took my way
towards the Auberge Royale, where His Majesty had told me that the Count was
lodged. It was my purpose to show myself fully aware of the treacherous and
unworthy part he had played at the very inception of the affair, and that if I chose
to consider the wager lost it was that I might the more honestly win the lady.
Upon inquiring at the hostelry for Monsieur de Chatellerault I was informed by the
servant I addressed that he was within, but that at the moment he had a visitor. I
replied that I would wait, and demanded a private room, since I desired to avoid
meeting any Court acquaintances who might chance into the auberge before I
had seen the Count.
My apparel at the moment may not have been all that could have been desired,
but when a gentleman's rearing has taken place amid an army of servitors to