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8. Arcades Ambo
"That is the way we conduct our affairs, citizen," said Heron gruffly, as he once
more led his guest back into his office.
It was his turn to be complacent now. De Batz, for once in his life cowed by what
he had seen, still wore a look of horror and disgust upon his florid face.
"What devils you all are!" he said at last.
"We are good patriots," retorted Heron, "and the tyrant's spawn leads but the life
that hundreds of thousands of children led whilst his father oppressed the people.
Nay! what am I saying? He leads a far better, far happier life. He gets plenty to
eat and plenty of warm clothes. Thousands of innocent children, who have not
the crimes of a despot father upon their conscience, have to starve whilst he
grows fat."
The leer in his face was so evil that once more de Batz felt that eerie feeling of
terror creeping into his bones. Here were cruelty and bloodthirsty ferocity
personified to their utmost extent. At thought of the Bourbons, or of all those
whom he considered had been in the past the oppressors of the people, Heron
was nothing but a wild and ravenous beast, hungering for revenge, longing to
bury his talons and his fangs into the body of those whose heels had once
pressed on his own neck.
And de Batz knew that even with millions or countless money at his command he
could not purchase from this carnivorous brute the life and liberty of the son of
King Louis. No amount of bribery would accomplish that; it would have to be
ingenuity pitted against animal force, the wiliness of the fox against the power of
the wolf.
Even now Heron was darting savagely suspicious looks upon him.
"I shall get rid of the Simons," he said; "there's something in that woman's face
which I don't trust. They shall go within the next few hours, or as soon as I can
lay my hands upon a better patriot than that mealy-mouthed cobbler. And it will
be better not to have a woman about the place. Let me see--to-day is Thursday,
or else Friday morning. By Sunday I'll get those Simons out of the place.
Methought I saw you ogling that woman," he added, bringing his bony fist
crashing down on the table so that papers, pen, and inkhorn rattled loudly; "and if
I thought that you--"
De Batz thought it well at this point to finger once more nonchalantly the bundle
of crisp paper in the pocket of his coat.
"Only on that one condition," reiterated Heron in a hoarse voice; "if you try to get
at Capet, I'll drag you to the Tribunal with my own hands."
"Always presuming that you can get me, my friend," murmured de Batz, who was
gradually regaining his accustomed composure.
Already his active mind was busily at work. One or two things which he had
noted in connection with his visit to the Dauphin's prison had struck him as
possibly useful in his schemes. But he was disappointed that Heron was getting
rid of the Simons. The woman might have been very useful and more easily got
at than a man. The avarice of the French bourgeoise would have proved a