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Bardelys the Magnificent

12. The Tribunal Of Toulouse
I had hoped to lie some days in prison before being brought to trial, and that
during those days Castelroux might have succeeded in discovering those who
could witness to my identity. Conceive, therefore, something of my dismay when
on the morrow I was summoned an hour before noon to go present myself to my
judges.
From the prison to the Palace I was taken in chains like any thief --for the law
demanded this indignity to be borne by one charged with the crimes they imputed
to me. The distance was but short, yet I found it over-long, which is not wonderful
considering that the people stopped to line up as I went by and to cast upon me a
shower of opprobrious derision - for Toulouse was a very faithful and loyal city. It
was within some two hundred yards of the Palace steps that I suddenly beheld a
face in the crowd, at the sight of which I stood still in my amazement. This earned
me a stab in the back from the butt-end of the pike of one of my guards.
"What ails you now?" quoth the man irritably. "Forward, Monsieur le traite!"
I moved on, scarce remarking the fellow's roughness; my eyes were still upon
that face - the white, piteous face of Roxalanne. I smiled reassurance and
encouragement, but even as I smiled the horror in her countenance seemed to
increase. Then, as I passed on, she vanished from my sight, and I was left to
conjecture the motives that had occasioned her return to Toulouse. Had the
message that Marsac would yesterday have conveyed to her caused her to
retrace her steps that she might be near me in my extremity; or had some
weightier reason influenced her return? Did she hope to undo some of the evil
she had done? Alas, poor child! If such were her hopes, I sorely feared me they
would prove very idle.
Of my trial I should say but little did not the exigencies of my story render it
necessary to say much. Even now, across the gap of years, my gorge rises at
the mockery which, in the King's name, those gentlemen made of justice. I can
allow for the troubled conditions of the times, and I can realize how in cases of
civil disturbances and rebellion it may be expedient to deal summarily with
traitors, yet not all the allowances that I can think of would suffice to condone the
methods of that tribunal.
The trial was conducted in private by the Keeper of the Seals - a lean, wizened
individual, with an air as musty and dry as that of the parchments among which
he had spent his days. He was supported by six judges, and on his right sat the
King's Commissioner, Monsieur de Chatellerault - the bruised condition of whose
countenance still advertised the fact that we had met but yesterday.
 
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