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The Companions of Jehu

14. An Unpleasant Commission
The hunt was over, darkness was falling, and it was now a question of returning
to the château. The horses were nearby; they could hear them neighing
impatiently. They seemed to be asking if their courage was so doubted that they
were not allowed to share in the exciting drama.
Edouard was bent upon dragging the boar after them, fastening it to the saddle-
bow, and so carrying it back to the château; but Roland pointed out that it was
simpler to send a couple of men for it with a barrow. Sir John being of the same
opinion, Edouard--who never ceased pointing to the wound in the head, and
saying, "That's my shot; that's where I aimed"--Edouard, we say, was forced to
yield to the majority. The three hunters soon reached the spot where their horses
were tethered, mounted, and in less than ten minutes were at the Château des
Noires-Fontaines.
Madame de Montrevel was watching for them on the portico. The poor mother
had waited there nearly an hour, trembling lest an accident had befallen one or
the other of her sons. The moment Edouard espied her he put his pony to a
gallop, shouting from the gate: "Mother, mother! We killed a boar as big as a
donkey. I shot him in the head; you'll see the hole my ball, made; Roland stuck
his hunting knife into the boar's belly up to the hilt, and Sir John fired at him
twice. Quick, quick! Send the men for the carcass. Don't be frightened when you
see Roland. He's all covered with blood--but it's from the boar, and he hasn't a
scratch."
This was delivered with Edouard's accustomed volubility while Madame de
Montrevel was crossing the clearing between the portico and the road to open
the gate. She intended to take Edouard in her arms, but he jumped from his
saddle and flung himself upon her neck. Roland and Sir John came up just then,
and Amélie appeared on the portico at the same instant.
Edouard left his mother to worry over Roland, who, covered as he was with
blood, looked very terrifying, and rushed to his sister with the tale he had rattled
off to his mother. Amélie listened in an abstracted manner that probably hurt
Edouard's vanity, for he dashed off to the kitchen to describe the affair to Michel,
who was certain to listen to him.
Michel was indeed interested; but when, after telling him where the carcass lay,
Edouard gave him Roland's order to send a couple of men after the beast, he
shook his head.
"What!" demanded Edouard, "are you going to refuse to obey my brother?"
"Heaven forbid! Master Edouard. Jacques shall start this instant for Montagnac."
"Are you afraid he won't find any body?"
"Goodness, no; he could get a dozen. But the trouble is the time of night. You
say the boar lies close to the pavilion of the Chartreuse?"
"Not twenty yards from it."
"I'd rather it was three miles," replied Michel scratching his head; "but never
mind. I'll send for them anyway without telling them what they're wanted for.
Once here, it's for your brother to make them go."
 
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