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7. The Hostility Of Saint-Eustache
In the days that followed I saw much of the Chevalier de Saint-Eustache. He was
a very constant visitor at Lavedan, and the reason of it was not far to seek. For
my own part, I disliked him - I had done so from the moment when first I had set
eyes on him - and since hatred, like affection, is often a matter of reciprocity, the
Chevalier was not slow to return my dislike. Our manner gradually, by almost
imperceptible stages, grew more distant, until by the end of a week it had
become so hostile that Lavedan found occasion to comment upon it.
"Beware of Saint-Eustache," he warned me. "You are becoming very manifestly
distasteful to each other, and I would urge you to have a care. I don't trust him.
His attachment to our Cause is of a lukewarm character, and he gives me
uneasiness, for he may do much harm if he is so inclined. It is on this account
that I tolerate his presence at Lavedan. Frankly, I fear him, and I would counsel
you to do no less. The man is a liar, even if but a boastful liar and liars are never
long out of mischief."
The wisdom of the words was unquestionable, but the advice in them was not
easily followed, particularly by one whose position was so peculiar as my own. In
a way I had little cause to fear the harm the Chevalier might do me, but I was
impelled to consider the harm that at the same time he might do the Vicomte.
Despite our growing enmity, the Chevalier and I were very frequently thrown
together. The reason for this was, of course, that wherever Roxalanne was to be
found there, generally, were we both to be found also. Yet had I advantages that
must have gone to swell a rancour based as much upon jealousy as any other
sentiment, for whilst he was but a daily visitor at Lavedan, I was established
there indefinitely.
Of the use that I made of that time I find it difficult to speak. From the first
moment that I had beheld Roxalanne I had realized the truth of Chatellerault's
assertion that I had never known a woman. He was right. Those that I had met
and by whom I had judged the sex had, by contrast with this child, little claim to
the title. Virtue I had accounted a shadow without substance; innocence, a
synonym for ignorance; love, a fable, a fairy tale for the delectation of overgrown
In the company of Roxalanne de Lavedan all those old, cynical beliefs, built up
upon a youth of undesirable experiences, were shattered and the error of them
exposed. Swiftly was I becoming a convert to the faith which so long I had
sneered at, and as lovesick as any unfledged youth in his first amour.