The Companions of Jehu
15. The Strong-Minded Man
At ten o'clock everyone was in bed at the Château des Noires-Fontaines, or, at
any rate, all had retired to their rooms.
Three or four times in the course of the evening Amélie had approached Roland
as if she had something to say to him; but each time the words died upon her
lips. When the family left the salon, she had taken his arm, and, although his
room was on the floor above hers, she had accompanied him to his very door.
Roland had kissed her, bade her good-night, and closed his door, declaring
himself very tired.
Nevertheless, in spite of this assertion, Roland, once alone, did not proceed to
undress. He went to his collection of arms, selected a pair of magnificent pistols,
manufactured at Versailles, and presented to his father by the Convention. He
snapped the triggers, and blew into the barrels to see that there were no old
charges in them. They were in excellent condition. After which he laid them side
by side on the table; then going to the door, looking out upon the stairs, he
opened it softly to see if any one were watching. Finding the corridor and stairs
empty, he went to Sir John's door and knocked.
"Come in," said the Englishman. Sir John, like himself, was not prepared for bed.
"I guessed from the sign you made me that you had something to say to me,"
said Sir John, "so I waited for you, as you see."
"Indeed, I have something to say to you," returned Roland, seating himself gayly
in an armchair.
"My kind host," replied the Englishman, "I am beginning to understand you. When
I see you as gay as you are now, I am like your peasants, I feel afraid."
"Did you hear what they were saying?"
"I heard them tell a splendid ghost story. I, myself, have a haunted castle in
"Have you ever seen the ghosts, my lord?"
"Yes, when I was little. Unfortunately, since I have grown up they have
"That's always the way with ghosts," said Roland gayly; "they come and go. How
lucky it is that I should return just as the ghosts have begun to haunt the
Chartreuse of Seillon."
"Yes," replied Sir John, "very lucky. Only are you sure that there are any there?"
"No. But I'll know by the day after to-morrow."
"I intend to spend to-morrow night there."
"Oh!" said the Englishmen, "would you like to have me go with you?"
"With pleasure, my lord. Only, unfortunately, that is impossible."
"As I have just told you, my dear fellow."
"But why impossible?"
"Are you acquainted with the manners and customs of ghosts, Sir John?" asked