The Nest of the Sparrowhawk
VII. Prince Amédé D'orléans
At first it seemed as if the stranger meant to beat a precipitate and none too
dignified retreat now that the adoring eyes of Lady Sue were no longer upon him.
But Mistress de Chavasse had no intention of allowing him to extricate himself
quite so easily from an unpleasant position.
"One moment, master," she said loudly and peremptorily. "Prince or whatever
you may wish to call yourself ... ere you show me a clean pair of heels, I pray you
to explain your presence here on Sir Marmaduke's doorstep at ten o'clock at
night, and in company with his ward."
For a moment--a second or two only--the stranger appeared to hesitate. He
paused with one foot still on the lowest of the stone steps, the other on the
flagged path, his head bent, his hand upraised in the act of re-adjusting his
Then a sudden thought seemed to strike him, he threw back his head, gave a
short laugh as if he were pleased with this new thought, then turned, meeting
Mistress de Chavasse's stern gaze squarely and fully. He threw his hat down
upon the steps and crossed his arms over his chest.
"One moment, mistress?" he said with an ironical bow. "I do not need one
moment. I have already explained."
"Explained? how?" she retorted, "nay! I'll not be trifled with, master, and methinks
you will find that Sir Marmaduke de Chavasse will expect some explanation--
which will prove unpleasant to yourself--for your unwarrantable impudence in
daring to approach his ward."
He put up his hand in gentle deprecation.
"Impudence? Oh, mistress?" he said reproachfully.
"Let me assure you, master," she continued with relentless severity, "that you
were wise an you returned straightway to your lodgings now ... packed your
worldly goods and betook yourself and them to anywhere you please."
"Ah!" he sighed gently, "that is impossible."
"You would dare? ..." she retorted.
"I would dare remain there, where my humble presence is most desired--beside
the gracious lady who honors me with her love."
"You are insolent, master ... and Sir Marmaduke ..."
"Oh!" he rejoined lightly, "Sir Marmaduke doth not object."
"There, I fear me, you are in error, master! and in his name I now forbid you ever
to attempt to speak to Lady Susannah Aldmarshe again."
This command, accompanied by a look of withering scorn, seemed to afford the
stranger vast entertainment. He made the wrathful lady a low, ironical bow, and
clapped his hands together laughing and exclaiming:
"Brava! brava! of a truth but this is excellent! Pray, mistress, will you deign to tell
me if in this your bidding you have asked Sir Marmaduke for his opinion?"
"I need not to ask him. I ask you to go."