The Countess De Saint-Geran
The young man smiled gaily.
"The wine is all very well, monsieur provost," said he, "but I cannot conceal from you
that however agreeable your company is to me, this halt is very inconvenient; I am in a
hurry to get through my ridiculous situation, and I should have liked to arrive in time to
stop this affair at once."
The girl of the house was standing before the table with a pewter pot which she had just
brought, and at these words she raised her eyes on the prisoner, with a reassured look
which seemed to say, "I was sure that he was innocent."
"But," continued the marquis, carrying the glass to his lips, "this wine is not so bad as
you say, monsieur provost."
Then turning to the girl, who was eyeing his gloves and his ruff--
"To your health, pretty child."
"Then," said the provost, amazed at this free and easy air, "perhaps I shall have to beg
you to excuse your sleeping quarters."
"What!" exclaimed the marquis, "do we sleep here?"
"My lord;" said the provost, "we have sixteen long leagues to make, our horses are done
up, and so far as I am concerned I declare that I am no better than my horse."
The marquis knocked on the table, and gave every indication of being greatly annoyed.
The provost meanwhile puffed and blowed, stretched out his big boots, and mopped his
forehead with his handkerchief. He was a portly man, with a puffy face, whom fatigue
rendered singularly uncomfortable.
"Marquis," said he, "although your company, which affords me the opportunity of
showing you some attention, is very precious to me, you cannot doubt that I had much
rather enjoy it on another footing. If it be within your power, as you say, to release
yourself from the hands of justice, the sooner you do so the better I shall be pleased.
But I beg you to consider the state we are in. For my part, I am unfit to keep the saddle
another hour, and are you not yourself knocked up by this forced march in the great
"True, so I am," said the marquis, letting his arms fall by his side.
"Well, then, let us rest here, sup here, if we can, and we will start quite fit in the cool of