Chicot the Jester HTML version

Chapter 14
There was a moment's silence. Diana seemed almost overcome. Bussy was already
vowing eternal vengeance against her enemies. She went on:
"Scarcely had we touched the shore, when seven or eight men ran to us. They were the
count's people, and I thought I recognized among them the two men who had escorted
me when I left Méridor. A squire held two horses, a black one for the count and a white
one for me. The count helped me to mount, and then jumped on his own horse.
Gertrude mounted en croupe behind one of the men, and we set off at full gallop. The
count held the bridle of my horse. I said to him that I was a sufficiently good
horsewoman to dispense with this, but he replied that the horse was inclined to run
away. When we had gone about ten minutes, I heard Gertrude's voice calling to me,
and turning, I saw that four of the men were taking her by a different path from that
which we were following. 'Gertrude,' cried I, 'why does she not come with me?' 'It is an
indispensable precaution,' said the count; 'if we are pursued we must leave two tracks,
and they must be able to say in two places that they have seen a woman carried away
by men. There is then a chance that M. d'Anjou may take a wrong road, and go after
your servant instead of you.' Although specious, this reply did not satisfy me, but what
could I do? Besides, the path which the count was following was the one which led to
the Château de Méridor. In a quarter of an hour, at the rate at which we are going, we
should have been at the castle, when all at once, when we came to a cross road which I
knew well, the count, instead of following the road to the castle, turned to the left, and
took a road which led away from it. I cried out, and in spite of our rapid pace had
already my hand on the pommel in order to jump off, when the count, seizing me round
the waist, drew me off my horse, and placed me on the saddle before him. This action
was so rapid that I had only time to utter a cry. M. de Monsoreau put his hand on my
mouth, and said, 'Mademoiselle, I swear to you, on my honor, that I only act by your
father's orders, as I will prove to you at the first halt we make. If this proof appears to
you insufficient, you shall then be free.' 'But, monsieur,' cried I, pushing away his hand,
'you told me you were taking me to my father!' 'Yes, I told you so, because I saw that
you hesitated to follow me, and a moment's more hesitation would have ruined us both,
as you know. Now, do you wish to kill your father? Will you march straight to your
dishonor? If so, I will take you to Méridor.' 'You spoke of a proof that you acted in the
name of my father.' 'Here it is,' said the baron, giving me a letter, 'keep it, and read it at
the first stoppage. If, when you have read it, you wish to return to Méridor, you are free;
but if you have any respect for your father's wishes you will not.' 'Then, monsieur,' I
replied, 'let us reach quickly our stopping-place, for I wish to know if you speak the
truth.' 'Remember, you follow me freely.' 'Yes, as freely as a young girl can who sees
herself placed between her father's death and her own dishonor on the one hand, and
on the other the obligation to trust herself to the word of a man whom she hardly knows.'
'Never mind, I follow you freely, monsieur, as you shall see if you will give me my horse
again.' The count called to one of his men to dismount and give me his horse. 'The