Bardelys the Magnificent
22. We Unsaddle
Mademoiselle held the royal warrant of her father's banishment in her hand. She
was pale, and her greeting of me had been timid. I stood before her, and by the
door stood Rodenard, whom I had bidden attend me.
As I had approached Lavedan that day, I had been taken with a great, an
overwhelming shame at the bargain I had driven. I had pondered, and it had
come to me that she had been right to suggest that in matters of love what is not
freely given it is not worth while to take. And out of my shame and that
conclusion had sprung a new resolve. So that nothing might weaken it, and lest,
after all, the sight of Roxalanne should bring me so to desire her that I might be
tempted to override my purpose, I had deemed it well to have the restraint of a
witness at our last interview. To this end had I bidden Ganymede follow me into
the very salon.
She read the document to the very end, then her glance was raised timidly again
to mine, and from me it shifted to Ganymede, stiff at his post by the door.
"This was the best that you could do, monsieur?" she asked at last.
"The very best, mademoiselle," I answered calmly. "I do not wish to magnify my
service, but it was that or the scaffold. Madame your mother had, unfortunately,
seen the King before me, and she had prejudiced your father's case by admitting
him to be a traitor. There was a moment when in view of that I was almost led to
despair. I am glad, however, mademoiselle, that I was so fortunate as to
persuade the King to just so much clemency."
"And for five years, then, I shall not see my parents." She sighed, and her
distress was very touching.
"That need not be. Though they may not come to France, it still remains possible
for you to visit them in Spain."
"True," she mused; "that will be something - will it not?"
"Assuredly something; under the circumstances, much."
She sighed again, and for a moment there was silence.
"Will you not sit, monsieur?" said she at last. She was very quiet to-day, this little
maid - very quiet and very wondrously subdued.