The Companions of Jehu HTML version

6. Morgan
Our readers must permit us for an instant to abandon Roland and Sir John, who,
thanks to the physical and moral conditions in which we left them, need inspire
no anxiety, while we direct our attention seriously to a personage who has so far
made but a brief appearance in this history, though he is destined to play an
important part in it.
We are speaking of the man who, armed and masked, entered the room of the
table d'hôte at Avignon to return Jean Picot the two hundred louis which had
been stolen from him by mistake, stored as it had been with the government
We speak of the highwayman, who called himself Morgan. He had ridden into
Avignon, masked, in broad daylight, entered the hotel of the Palais-Egalité
leaving his horse at the door. This horse had enjoyed the same immunity in the
pontifical and royalist town as his master; he found it again at the horse post,
unfastened its bridle, sprang into the saddle, rode through the Porte d'Oulle,
skirting the walls, and disappeared at a gallop along the road to Lyons. Only
about three-quarters of a mile from Avignon, he drew his mantle closer about
him, to conceal his weapons from the passers, and removing his mask he slipped
it into one of the holsters of his saddle.
The persons whom he had left at Avignon who were curious to know if this could
be the terrible Morgan, the terror of the Midi, might have convinced themselves
with their own eyes, had they met him on the road between Avignon and
Bédarides, whether the bandit's appearance was as terrifying as his renown. We
do not hesitate to assert that the features now revealed would have harmonized
so little with the picture their prejudiced imagination had conjured up that their
amazement would have been extreme.
The removal of the mask, by a hand of perfect whiteness and delicacy, revealed
the face of a young man of twenty-four or five years of age, a face that, by its
regularity of feature and gentle expression, had something of the character of a
woman's. One detail alone gave it or rather would give it at certain moments a
touch of singular firmness. Beneath the beautiful fair hair waving on his brow and
temples, as was the fashion at that period, eyebrows, eyes and lashes were
black as ebony. The rest of the face was, as we have said, almost feminine.
There were two little ears of which only the tips could be seen beneath the tufts
of hair to which the Incroyables of the day had given the name of "dog's-ears"; a
straight, perfectly proportioned nose, a rather large mouth, rosy and always
smiling, and which, when smiling, revealed a double row of brilliant teeth; a
delicate refined chin faintly tinged with blue, showing that, if the beard had not
been carefully and recently shaved, it would, protesting against the golden hair,
have followed the same color as the brows, lashes and eyes, that is to say, a
decided black. As for the unknown's figure, it was seen, when he entered the
dining-room, to be tall, well-formed and flexible, denoting, if not great muscular
strength, at least much suppleness and agility.