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Bardelys the Magnificent

18. Saint-Eustache Is Obstinate
0n the occasion of my first visit to Lavedan I had disregarded - or, rather, Fate
had contrived that I should disregard - Chatellerault's suggestion that I should go
with all the panoply of power - with my followers, my liveries, and my equipages
to compose the magnificence all France had come to associate with my name,
and thus dazzle by my brilliant lustre the lady I was come to win. As you may
remember, I had crept into the chateau like a thief in the night, - wounded,
bedraggled, and of miserable aspect, seeking to provoke compassion rather than
admiration.
Not so now that I made my second visit. I availed myself of all the splendour to
which I owed my title of "Magnificent," and rode into the courtyard of the Chateau
de Lavedan preceded by twenty well-mounted knaves wearing the gorgeous
Saint-Pol liveries of scarlet and gold, with the Bardelys escutcheon broidered on
the breasts of their doublets - on a field or a bar azure surcharged by three lilies
of the field. They were armed with swords and musketoons, and had more the air
of a royal bodyguard than of a company of attendant servants.
Our coming was in a way well timed. I doubt if we could have stayed the
execution of Saint-Eustache's warrant even had we arrived earlier. But for effect -
to produce a striking coup de theatre - we could not have come more
opportunely.
A coach stood in the quadrangle, at the foot of the chateau steps: down these the
Vicomte was descending, with the Vicomtesse - grim and blasphemant as ever,
on one side, and his daughter, white of face and with tightly compressed lips, on
the other. Between these two women - his wife and his child - as different in body
as they were different in soul, came Lavedan with a firm step, a good colour, and
a look of well-bred, lofty indifference to his fate.
He disposed himself to enter the carriage which was to bear him to prison with
much the same air he would have assumed had his destination been a royal
levee.
Around the coach were grouped a score of men of Saint-Eustache's company -
half soldiers, half ploughboys - ill-garbed and indifferently accoutred in dull
breastplates and steel caps, many of which were rusted. By the carriage door
stood the long, lank figure of the Chevalier himself, dressed with his wonted care,
and perfumed, curled, and beribboned beyond belief. His weak, boyish face
sought by scowls and by the adoption of a grim smile to assume an air of martial
ferocity.
 
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