El Dorado HTML version
It Is About The Dauphin
Heron was not at his lodgings when, at last, after vigorous pulls at the bell, a
great deal of waiting and much cursing, Chauvelin, closely followed by Armand,
was introduced in the chief agent's office.
The soldier who acted as servant said that citizen Heron had gone out to sup, but
would surely be home again by eight o'clock. Armand by this time was so dazed
with fatigue that he sank on a chair like a log, and remained there staring into the
fire, unconscious of the flight of time.
Anon Heron came home. He nodded to Chauvelin, and threw but a cursory
glance on Armand.
"Five minutes, citizen," he said, with a rough attempt at an apology. "I am sorry to
keep you waiting, but the new commissaries have arrived who are to take charge
of Capet. The Simons have just gone, and I want to assure myself that
everything is all right in the Tower. Cochefer has been in charge, but I like to cast
an eye over the brat every day myself."
He went out again, slamming the door behind him. His heavy footsteps were
heard treading the flagstones of the corridor, and gradually dying away in the
distance. Armand had paid no heed either to his entrance or to his exit. He was
only conscious of an intense weariness, and would at this moment gladly have
laid his head on the scaffold if on it he could find rest.
A white-faced clock on the wall ticked off the seconds one by one. From the
street below came the muffled sounds of wheeled traffic on the soft mud of the
road; it was raining more heavily now, and from time to time a gust of wind rattled
the small windows in their dilapidated frames, or hurled a shower of heavy drops
against the panes.
The heat from the stove had made Armand drowsy; his head fell forward on his
chest. Chauvelin, with his hands held behind his back, paced ceaselessly up and
down the narrow room.
Suddenly Armand started--wide awake now. Hurried footsteps on the flagstones
outside, a hoarse shout, a banging of heavy doors, and the next moment Heron
stood once more on the threshold of the room. Armand, with wide-opened eyes,
gazed on him in wonder. The whole appearance of the man had changed. He
looked ten years older, with lank, dishevelled hair hanging matted over a moist
forehead, the cheeks ashen-white, the full lips bloodless and hanging, flabby and
parted, displaying both rows of yellow teeth that shook against each other. The
whole figure looked bowed, as if shrunk within itself.
Chauvelin had paused in his restless walk, He gazed on his colleague, a frown of
puzzlement on his pale, set face.
"Capet!" he exclaimed, as soon as he had taken in every detail of Heron's altered
appearance, and seen the look of wild terror that literally distorted his face.
Heron could not speak; his teeth were chattering in his mouth, and his tongue
seemed paralysed. Chauvelin went up to him. He was several inches shorter
than his colleague, but at this moment he seemed to be towering over him like an
avenging spirit. He placed a firm hand on the other's bowed shoulders.