Bardelys the Magnificent HTML version

11. The King's Commissioner
For that most amiable of Gascon cadets, Monsieur de Castelroux, I have naught
but the highest praise. In his every dealing with me he revealed himself so very
gallant, generous, and high-minded a gentleman that it was little short of a
pleasure to be his prisoner. He made no inquiries touching the nature of my
interview with those two gentlemen at the Hotel de la Couronne, and when at the
moment of leaving I requested him to deliver a packet to the taller of those same
two he did so without comment or question. That packet contained the portrait of
Mademoiselle de Marsac, but on the inner wrapper was a note requesting
Lesperon not to open it until he should be in Spain.
Neither Marsac nor Lesperon did I see again before we resumed our journey to
At the moment of setting out a curious incident occurred. Castelroux's company
of dragoons had ridden into the courtyard as we were mounting. They lined up
under their lieutenant's command, to allow us to pass; but as we reached the
porte-cochere we were delayed for a moment by a travelling-carriage, entering
for relays, and coming, apparently, from Toulouse. Castelroux and I backed our
horses until we were in the midst of the dragoons, and so we stood while the
vehicle passed in. As it went by, one of the leather curtains was drawn back, and
my heart was quickened by the sight of a pale girl face, with eyes of blue, and
brown curls lying upon the slender neck. Her glance lighted on me, swordless
and in the midst of that company of troopers, and I bowed low upon the withers
of my horse, doffing my hat in distant salutation.
The curtain dropped again, and eclipsed the face of the woman that had
betrayed me. With my mind full of wild surmisings as to what emotions might
have awakened in her upon beholding me, I rode away in silence at Monsieur de
Castelroux's side. Had she experienced any remorse? Any shame? Whether or
not such feelings had been aroused at sight of me, it certainly would not be long
ere she experienced them, for at the Hotel de la Couronne were those who would
enlighten her.
The contemplation of the remorseful grief that might anon beset her when she
came to ponder the truth of matters, and, with that truth, those things that at
Lavedan I had uttered, filled me presently with regret and pity. I grew impatient to
reach Toulouse and tell the judges of the mistake that there had been. My name
could not be unknown to them, and the very mention of it, I thought, should
suffice to give them pause and lead them to make inquiries before sending me to
the scaffold. Yet I was not without uneasiness, for the summariness with which
Castelroux had informed me they were in the habit of dealing with those accused
of high treason occasioned me some apprehensive pangs.