Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

At Agincourt by G. A. Henty

Part 3 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"Did they beat the bad men, mother?"

"Yes, dear; Guy had taken a sword with him, as it was after dark, and Tom
had his quarter-staff."

"Then the others can have had no chance," Charlie said decidedly. "I have
often seen Long Tom playing with the quarter-staff, and he could beat
anyone in the castle. I warrant he laid about him well. I should have
liked to have been there to have seen it, mother."

"It will be a good many years yet, Charlie, before you will be old enough
to go out after dark in such a place as Paris."

"But I saw real fighting at the castle, mother, and I am sure I was not
afraid even when the cannon made a great noise."

"No, you behaved very well, Charlie; but it is one thing to be standing on
the top of a keep and another to be in the streets when a fray is going on
all round."

"Did you kill anyone, Guy?" the boy asked eagerly.

"Some of them were wounded," Guy replied, "but I cannot say for certain
that anyone was killed."

"They ought to be killed, these bad men who attack people in the street.
If I were King of France I would have all their heads chopped off."

"It is not so easy to catch them, Charlie. When the watch come upon them
when they are doing such things there is not much mercy shown to them."

As soon as breakfast was over Guy went out, after learning from Maître
Leroux the address of a tradesman who generally kept a stock of garments
in store, in readiness for those passing through Paris, who might not have
time to stop while clothes were specially made for them. He returned in
the course of an hour, followed by a boy carrying a wooden case with the
clothes that he had bought. He had been fortunate in getting two suits
which fitted him perfectly. They had been made for a young knight who had
been despatched by the duke to Flanders just after he had been measured
for them, and the tailor said that he was glad to sell them, as for aught
he knew it might be weeks or even months before the knight returned, and
he could make other suits for him at his leisure. Thus he was provided at
once with his two best suits; for the other he had been measured, and it
was to be sent in a couple of days. On his return he went straight to his
room, and attired himself in readiness to receive the visit of Count
Charles d'Estournel.

The suit consisted of an orange-coloured doublet coming down to the hips,
with puce sleeves; the trousers were blue, and fitting closely to the
legs; the shoes were of the great length then in fashion, being some
eighteen inches from the heel to the pointed toe. The court suit was
similar in make, but more handsome--the doublet, which was of crimson,
being embroidered with gold; the closely-fitting trousers were striped
with light blue and black; the cap with the suit in which he was now
dressed was yellow, that with the court suit crimson, and both were high
and conical, resembling a sugar-loaf in shape. From his sword-belt he
carried a light straight sword, instead of the heavier one that would be
carried in actual warfare, and on the right side was a long dagger.

Charlie clapped his hands as he entered the sitting-room.

"That will do very well, Master Esquire," Dame Margaret said with a smile;
"truly you look as well fitted as if they had been made for you, and the
colours are well chosen."

Guy told her how he had obtained them.

"You are very fortunate," she said, "and this afternoon, when I mean to
take a walk to see the city, I shall feel that I am well escorted with you
by my side."

"Shall you take us, mother?" Charlie asked anxiously.

"I intend to do so. You are so accustomed to be in the open air that you
would soon pine if confined here, though indeed the air outside is but
close and heavy compared with that at home. I have been speaking to Master
Leroux while you have been away, and he tells me that a post goes once a
week to Lille, and that he will send a letter for me to Sir Eustace under
cover to a worthy trader of that town, who will forward it thence to
Villeroy by a messenger. Therefore I shall write this morning; my lord
will be pleased indeed to learn that we are so comfortably bestowed here,
and that there is no cause for any uneasiness on his part."

CHAPTER VIII

A RIOT

While Dame Margaret was speaking to Guy, one of the servitors came up with
word that Count Charles d'Estournel was below desiring to speak with
Master Guy Aylmer.

"Show the count up. Or no, you had best go down yourself to receive him,
Guy. Pray him to come up with you; it will be more fitting."

Guy at once went down.

"So this is my saviour of last night," the count said gaily as Guy joined
him. "I could scarce get a view of your face then, as the lamps give such
a poor light, and I should hardly have known you again. Besides, you were
wrapped up in your cloak. But you told me that you were an esquire, and I
see that you carry a sword. I want to take you out to introduce you to
some of my friends. Can you accompany me now?"

"I shall do so willingly, Count; but first will you allow me to present
you to my lady mistress? She prayed me to bring you up to her apartments."

"That shall I right willingly; those who were present yesterday speak of
her as a noble lady."

They went upstairs together.

"My lady, this is Count Charles d'Estournel, who desires me to present him
to you."

"I am glad to meet you, Sir Count," Dame Margaret said, holding out her
hand, which he raised to his lips, "seeing that my esquire, Master Guy
Aylmer, was able to render you some slight service last night. This is my
daughter Agnes, and my son Charles."

"The service was by no means a slight one," the young count said,
returning a deep salute that Agnes and Charlie made to him, "unless indeed
you consider that my life is a valueless one, for assuredly without his
aid and that of your tall retainer, my father would have been childless
this morning. I was indeed in sore plight when they arrived; my arm was
tiring, and I could not have defended myself very much longer against such
odds, and as I had exasperated them by killing two of their comrades, I
should have received no mercy at their hands. In my surprise at being so
suddenly attacked I even forgot to raise a shout for the watch, though it
is hardly likely that they would have heard me had I done so; the lazy
knaves are never on the spot when they are wanted. However, we gave the
ruffians a lesson that those of them who escaped are not likely to forget
readily, for out of the fourteen who attacked me we accounted for ten, of
whom your retainer levelled no less than six with that staff of his, and I
doubt whether any of the other four came off scatheless. I imagine that
those levelled by your retainer got up and made off,--that is, if they
recovered their senses before the watch came,--but I am sure that the
other four will never steal pouch or cut throat in future. 'Tis a shame
that these rascals are suffered to interfere with honest men, and it would
be far better if the city authorities would turn their attention to
ridding the streets of these pests instead of meddling with things that in
no way concern them."

"It would no doubt be much wiser," Dame Margaret replied; "but since their
betters are ever quarrelling among themselves, we can hardly wonder that
the citizens do not attend to their own business."

"No doubt you are right," the young count said with a smile; "but it is
the highest who set the bad example, and we their vassals cannot but
follow them, though I myself would far rather draw my sword against the
enemies of France than against my countrymen. But methinks," and here he
laughed, "the example of the wars that England has so often waged with
Scotland might well cause you to take a lenient view of our misdoings."

"I cannot gainsay you there, Sir Count, and truly those quarrels have
caused more damage to England than your disputes between Burgundy and
Orleans have, so far, inflicted on France; but you see I am a sufferer in
the one case and not in the other. Even now I am ignorant why I have been
brought here. There is a truce at present between England and France, and
assuredly there are more English in the service of nobles of Burgundy than
in those of Orleans, and at any rate I have seen no reason why there can
at present be any doubt at all of the conduct of my lord, who has but
lately defended his castle against the followers of Orleans.'"

"So I have heard, madame, and I know that there are some of my friends who
think that Duke John has behaved hardly in the matter; but he seldom acts
without reason, though it may not be always that one which he assigns for
any action." Then, changing the subject, he went on. "I have come to take
Master Guy for a walk with me, and to introduce him to some of my friends.
My father is absent at present, but on his return he will, I know, hasten
to express his gratitude. I trust that you can spare your esquire to go
out with me."

"Certainly, so that he does but return in time to escort me for a walk
through the streets this afternoon."

"I will be sure to come back, madam," Guy said. "You have but to say the
hour at which you will start; but indeed I think that I shall probably be
in to dinner at one."

"I cannot see," Guy said, when he had sallied out with the young count,
"why they should have called upon Sir Eustace to furnish hostages. As the
Duke of Burgundy has English archers in his pay, and France is at truce
with England, there seems less reason than at other times to demand
sureties of his loyalty, especially as he has shown that he is in no way
well disposed to the Armagnacs."

"Between ourselves, Guy, I think that the duke in no way expected that
hostages would be given, and that he was by no means well pleased when a
messenger arrived from the herald to say that he was returning with your
lady and her children. What was his intention I know not, but in times
like these it is necessary sometimes to reward faithful followers or to
secure doubtful ones, and it may be that he would have been glad to have
had the opportunity of finding so fair a castle and estate at his
disposal. You know the fable of the wolf and the lamb; a poor excuse is
deemed sufficient at all times in France when there is a great noble on
one side and a simple knight on the other, and I reckon that the duke did
not calculate upon the willingness of your Sir Eustace to permit his wife
and children to come here, or upon the dame's willingness to do so, and in
no way expected matters to turn out as they have done, for there is now no
shadow of excuse for him to meddle with Villeroy. Indeed, I question
whether the condition about hostages was of his devising; but it may well
be that the king or the queen wished it inserted, and he, thinking that
there was no chance of that alternative being accepted, yielded to the
wish. Mind, all this is not spoken from my own knowledge, but I did hear
that Duke John was much put out when he found that the hostages were
coming, and there was some laughter among us at the duke being for once
outwitted."

"Then you do not love him overmuch, Count?"

"He is our lord, Guy, and we are bound to fight in his cause, but our vows
of fealty do not include the word love. The duke his father was a noble
prince, just and honourable, and he was loved as well as honoured. Duke
John is a different man altogether. He is brave, as he proved in Hungary,
and it may be said that he is wise, but his wisdom is not of the kind that
Burgundian nobles love. It might have been wise to remove Orleans from his
path, although I doubt it, but it was a dastardly murder all the same; and
although we are bound to support him, it alienated not a few. Then he
condescends to consort with these sorry knaves the butchers, and others of
low estate, to take them into his counsels, and to thrust them upon us, at
which, I may tell you, there is grievous discontent. All this is rank
treason to the duke, I have no doubt, but it is true nevertheless. Here we
are at our first stopping-place. This is as it is kept by a Burgundian
master, who has with him two or three of the best swordsmen in France, and
here a number of us meet every morning to learn tricks of fence, and to
keep ourselves in good exercise, which indeed one sorely needs in this
city of Paris, where there is neither hawking nor hunting nor jousting nor
any other kind of knightly sport, everyone being too busily in earnest to
think of amusement. Several of my best friends are sure to be here, and I
want to introduce you to them."

When they entered the salon they found some thirty young knights and
nobles gathered. Two or three pairs in helmet and body-armour were
fighting with blunted swords, others were vaulting on to a saddle placed
on a framework roughly representing a high war-horse; one or two were
swinging heavy maces, whirling them round their heads and bringing them
down occasionally upon great sand-bags six feet high, while others were
seated on benches resting themselves after their exercises. D'Estournel's
arrival was greeted with a shout, and several of those disengaged at once
came over to him.

"Laggard!" one exclaimed, "what excuse have you to make for coming so
late? I noted not that De Jouvaux's wine had mounted into your head last
night, and surely the duke cannot have had need of your valuable services
this morning?"

"Neither one nor the other befell, D'Estelle. But first let me introduce
to you all my friend Guy Aylmer, an English gentleman, the son of a knight
of that country, and himself an esquire of Sir Eustace de Villeroy. I am
sure you will welcome him when I tell you that he saved my life last night
when attacked by a band of cut-throats. Guy, these are my friends Count
Pierre d'Estelle, Count Walter de Vesoul, the Sieur John de Perron, and
the Knights Louis de Lactre, Sir Reginald Poupart, Sir James Regnier, Sir
Thomas d'Autre, and Sir Philip de Noisies."

"I can assure you of our friendship," the first-named of these gentlemen
said cordially to Guy, "for indeed you have rendered us all a service in
thus saving to us our friend D'Estournel. Tell us how the matter occurred,
Charles; in sooth, we shall have to take these ruffians of Paris in hand.
So long as they cut each other's throats no great harm is done, but if
they take to cutting ours it is time to give them a lesson."

"The matter was simple enough," D'Estournel said. "As you know, it was
late before we broke up at De Jouvaux's last night, for I heard it strike
half-past ten by the bell of St. Germain as I sallied out. I was making my
way home like a peaceful citizen, when two men came out from a narrow lane
and stumbled roughly across me. Deeming that they were drunk, I struck one
a buffet on the side of his head and stretched him in the gutter."

"That was not like a peaceful citizen, Charles," one of the others broke
in.

"Well, hardly, perhaps; but I forgot my character at the moment. However,
an instant later there was a shout, and a dozen or so armed men poured out
from the lane and fell upon me. I saw at once that I had been taken in a
trap. Luckily there was a deep doorway close by, so I sprang into it, and,
drawing my sword, put myself in a posture of defence before they were upon
me. I ran the first through the body, and that seemed to teach the others
some caution. Fortunately the doorway was so deep that only two could
assail me at once, and I held my ground for some time pretty fairly, only
receiving a few scratches. Presently I saw another opening, and, parrying
a thrust, I ran my sword through the fellow's throat. He fell with a loud
outcry, which was fortunate, for it came to the ears of my friend here,
and brought him and a stout retainer--a prodigiously tall fellow, with a
staff longer than himself--to my aid. They were but just in time, for the
ruffians, furious at the fall of another of their companions, were
pressing me hotly, and slashing so furiously with their swords that it was
as much as I could do to parry them, and had no time to thrust back in
reply. My friend here ran two of them through, his tall companion levelled
six to the ground with his staff, while I did what I could to aid them,
and at last the four that remained still on their legs ran off. I believe
they thought that the man with the staff was the Evil One himself, who had
got tired of aiding them in their villainous enterprises."

"It was a narrow escape indeed, Charles," Count Walter de Vesoul said
gravely, "and it was well for you that there was that doorway hard by, or
your brave friend would have found but your body when he came along. It is
evident, gentlemen, that when we indulge in drinking parties we must go
home in couples. Of course, Charles, you must lay a complaint before the
duke, and he must let the Parisians know that if they do not keep their
cut-throats within bounds we will take to sallying out at night in parties
and will cut down every man we find about the streets."

"I will lay my complaint, but I doubt if much good will come of it. The
duke will speak to the provost of the butchers, and nothing will be done."

"Then we will take them in hand," the other said angrily. "If the
Parisians won't keep order in their streets we will keep it for them. Such
doings are intolerable, and we will make up parties to scour the streets
at night. Men passing peaceably along we shall not of course molest, but
any parties of armed men we find about we will cut down without
hesitation."

"I shall be heartily glad to join one of the parties whenever you are
disposed, De Vesoul," D'Estournel said. "Perchance I may light on one or
more of the four fellows who got away last night. Now I am ready to have a
bout with swords."

"We have all had our turn, Charles," the other said.

"Then I must work with the mace," the count said. "My friend here, you
see, did not come off as scatheless last night as I did, or else I would
have asked him to have a bout with me. He held his own so well against two
of them who fell on him together that I doubt not I should find him a
sturdy adversary."

"I fear not, Count," Guy said smiling. "I can use my sword, it is true, in
English fashion, but I know little of feints and tricks with the sword
such as I am told are taught in your schools."

"A little practice here will amend that," D'Estournel said. "These things
are well enough in a _salle d'armes_, and are useful when one man is
opposed to another in a duel, but in a battle or _mêlée_ I fancy that
they are of but little use, though indeed I have never yet had the chance
of trying. We will introduce you to the master, and I hope that you will
come here regularly; it will give real pleasure to all. This salon is kept
up by the duke for our benefit, and as you are one of his most pressingly
invited guests you are certainly free of it."

They went up in a body to the master. "Maître Baudin," Count Charles said,
"I have to introduce to you a gentleman who is our mutual friend, and who
last night saved my life in a street brawl. He is at present an esquire of
Sir Eustace de Villeroy, and has travelled hither with the knight's dame,
who has come at the invitation of the duke. His father is an English
knight, and as the friend of us all we trust that you will put him upon
the list of your pupils."

"I shall be pleased to do so, Count Charles, the more so since he has done
you such service."

"I am afraid that you will, find me a very backward pupil," Guy said. "I
have been well taught in English fashion, but as you know, maître, we were
more famed for downright hard hitting than for subtlety and skill in
arms."

"Downright hard hitting is not to be despised," the master said, "and in a
battle it is the chief thing of all; yet science is not to be regarded as
useless, since it not only makes sword-play a noble pastime, but in a
single combat it enables one who is physically weak to hold his own
against a far stronger antagonist."

"That I feel greatly, maître. I shall be glad indeed of lessons in the
art, and as soon as my shoulder is healed I shall take great pleasure in
attending your school regularly, whenever my lady has no need of my
presence. I am now in the position of the weak antagonist you speak of,
and am therefore the more anxious to acquire the skill that will enable me
to take my part in a conflict with full-grown men."

"You showed last night that you could do that," Count Charles said with a
smile.

"Nay, men of that sort do not count," Guy said. "They are but rough
swordsmen, and it was only their number that rendered them dangerous.
There is little credit in holding one's own against ruffians of that
kind."

"Well, I will be lazy this morning," the young count said, "and do without
my practice. Will you all come round to my rooms, gentlemen, and drink a
glass or two of wine and make the better acquaintance of my friend? He is
bound to be back at his lodgings by one, and therefore you need not be
afraid that I am leading you into a carouse."

Guy passed an hour in the count's lodgings and then returned to the
provost's. The count accompanied him, saying that he had not yet seen his
tall friend of the night before, and must personally thank him. Long Tom
was called down, he being one of the two who had remained in for the
morning.

"I must thank you again for the service that you rendered me last night,"
the count said frankly, holding out his hand to the archer. "I hope that
you will accept this ring in token of my gratitude; I have had it enlarged
this morning so that it may fit one of your strong fingers. It may be
useful some day to turn into money should you find yourself in a pinch."

"I thank you, sir," Tom said. "I will wear it round my neck, for in truth
rings are not for the use of men in my condition. As to gratitude, I feel
that it is rather the other way, for my arms were beginning to get stiff
for want of use. I only wish that the fray had lasted a bit longer, for I
had scarce time to warm to it, and I hope that the next time your lordship
gets into trouble I may have the good luck to be near at hand again."

"I hope you may, my friend; assuredly I could want no better helper."

After the count had taken his leave Guy went upstairs and told Lady
Margaret how he had spent the morning.

"I am very glad to hear what you say about the fencing school, Guy; it
will be good for you to have such training. And indeed 'tis well that you
should have some employment, for time would hang but wearily on your hands
were you to remain long caged up here. I shall be very glad for you to go.
It will make no difference to us whether we take our walk in the morning
or in the afternoon."

After dinner they went out. Guy escorted Dame Margaret, Agnes and Charlie
followed, Long Tom and Jules Varoy bringing up the rear, both armed with
swords and carrying in addition heavy cudgels. First of all they visited
the that he had not yet seen his tall friend of the night before, and must
personally thank him. Long Tom was called down, he being one of the two
who had remained in for the morning.

"I must thank you again for the service that you rendered me last night,"
the count said frankly, holding out his hand to the archer. "I hope that
you will accept this ring in token of my gratitude; I have had it enlarged
this morning so that it may fit one of your strong fingers. It may be
useful some day to turn into money should you find yourself in a pinch."

"I thank you, sir," Tom said. "I will wear it round my neck, for in truth
rings are not for the use of men in my condition. As to gratitude, I feel
that it is rather the other way, for my arms were beginning to get stiff
for want of use. I only wish that the fray had lasted a bit longer, for I
had scarce time to warm to it, and I hope that the next time your lordship
gets into trouble I may have the good luck to be near at hand again."

"I hope you may, my friend; assuredly I could want no better helper."

After the count had taken his leave Guy went upstairs and told Lady
Margaret how he had spent the morning.

"I am very glad to hear what you say about the fencing school, Guy; it
will be good for you to have such training. And indeed 'tis well that you
should have some employment, for time would hang but wearily on your hands
were you to remain long caged up here. I shall be very glad for you to go.
It will make no difference to us whether we take our walk in the morning
or in the afternoon."

After dinner they went out. Guy escorted Dame Margaret, Agnes and Charlie
followed, Long Tom and Jules Varoy bringing up the rear, both armed with
swords and carrying in addition heavy cudgels. First of all they visited
the cathedral, where Dame Margaret and her daughter knelt for some time in
prayer before one of the shrines; then crossing the bridge again they
followed along the broad pavement between the foot of the walls and the
river, which served as a market, where hucksters of all sorts plied their
trade; then entering the next gate on the wall they walked down the street
to the Place de la Bastille, which had been finished but a few years.

"'Tis a gloomy place and a strong one," Dame Margaret said with a shiver
as she looked at its frowning towers; "the poor wretches who are once
entombed there can have but little hope of escape. Surely there cannot be
so many state prisoners as to need for their keeping, a building so large
as that. Still, with so turbulent a population as this of Paris, it
doubtless needs a strong castle to hold them."

"It seems to me, madame, that, though useful doubtless as a prison, the
castle was never really built for that purpose, but as a stronghold to
overawe Paris."

"That may be so, Guy; at any rate I am glad that they did not use it as
our place of detention instead of the house of Maître Leroux."

"They see well enough, madame, that you are more securely held than bolts
and bars could detain you. I imagine that they would like nothing better
than for you to get away back to Villeroy, since it would give them an
excuse for an attack on the castle."

"Doubtless that is so, Guy; I came freely, and I must stay freely until
some change takes place that will leave it open to us to fly. But in sooth
it seems to me that nothing short of the arrival of an English army could
do that. Were the Armagnacs to get the better of the Burgundians our
position would be even worse than it is now."

"That is true enough, madame, for the Burgundians have no cause of
hostility whatever to Sir Eustace and you, while we have given the
Armagnacs good reasons for ill-will against us. Still, were they to come
here it would be open to you to fly, for all Artois is Burgundian; and
though the duke might not be able to hold his position here, Artois and
Flanders would long be able to sustain themselves, and you would therefore
be safe at Villeroy, for they would have other matters to attend to
without meddling with those who only ask to be let alone."

On their way back from the Bastille they saw a crowd in the street and
heard loud shouts.

"We had best turn off by this side street, madame," Guy said; "doubtless
it is a body of the scoundrel butchers at their work of slaying some enemy
under the pretext of his being an Orleanist. Do you hear their shouts of
'Paris and Burgundy!'?"

Turning down a side street they made a circuit round the scene of the
tumult, and then coming up into the main street again resumed their way.
After walking a considerable distance they came to a large building.

"What place is this, Guy?"

"It is the Louvre, madame. It should be the abode of the King of France,
but he is only sometimes lodged there; but often stays at one of the
hotels of the great lords. These palaces are all fortified buildings. Our
country castles are strong, but there is no air of gloom about them; these
narrow streets and high houses seem to crush one down."

"We will go back again, Guy; I do not think that I shall often go out in
future."

"You can take a boat on the river, madame, and row up or down into the
country. They say it is pretty; once fairly away from Paris, there are
hills and woods and villages."

"That may be pleasant. If they would but let me go and live in one of
those quiet spots I should be as contented as it is possible for me to be
away from my husband.

"Nothing can be kinder than are Maître Leroux and his wife, but one cannot
but feel that one is a burden upon them. My hope is that when the king
comes to his senses I may be able to obtain an interview with him, and
even if I cannot have leave to return to Villeroy I may be allowed to take
up my abode outside the walls, or at any rate to obtain a quiet lodging
for ourselves."

For the next three weeks the time passed quietly. Guy went every morning
to the _salle d'armes_, for his wound being on his left shoulder he was
able to use his sword arm as soon as it began to heal.

"You underrated your skill," the fencing-master said when he had given him
his first lesson. "It is true that you do not know the niceties of sword-
playing, but indeed you are so quick of eye and wrist that you can afford
to do without them. Still, doubtless after a couple of months' practice
here you will be so far improved that he will need to be a good swordsman
who holds his own with you."

Guy paid only one visit during this time to the lodgings of the Italian.

"You have not heard from me, Master Aylmer," the latter said, "because
indeed there has been nothing of importance to tell you. The Armagnacs
are, I hear, collecting a great army, and are likely ere long to march in
this direction. The butchers are becoming more and more unpopular and more
and more violent; not a day passes but many citizens are killed by them
under the pretence that they are Armagnacs, but really because they had
expressed themselves as hostile to the doings of these tyrants. I have
cast your horoscope, and I find that the conjunction of the planets at
your birth was eminently favourable. It seems to me that about this time
you will pass through many perilous adventures, but you are destined to
escape any dangers that threaten you. You will gain honour and renown, and
come to fortune through a marriage. There are other things in your career
that are uncertain, since I cannot tell at what date they are likely to
occur and whether the planets that were favourable at your birth may again
be in the ascendant; but, for as much as I have told you, I have no doubt
whatever."

"I thank you for the trouble that you have taken, Count Montepone," for
Guy had now learned the rank that the Italian held in his own country,"
and can only trust that your predictions will be verified. I would rather
win fortune by my own hand than by marriage, though it will not come
amiss."

"Whatever way it may happen, you will be knighted," the astrologist said
gravely, "after a great battle, and by the hand of a sovereign; though by
whom the battle will be fought and who the sovereign may be I cannot say,
but methinks that it will be the English king."

"That I can wish more than anything," Guy said warmly. "Fortune is good,
but to be knighted by a royal hand would be an honour greater than any
other that could befall me."

"Bear your destiny in mind," the Italian said earnestly, "remember that in
many cases predictions bring about their own fulfilment; and truly I am
rejoiced that I have found that the stars point out so prosperous a future
for you."

Guy was not free from the superstition of the time, and although in his
English home he had seldom heard astrology mentioned, he had found since
he had been in France that many even of the highest rank had an implicit
belief in it, and he was convinced that at any rate the count himself
believed in the power of the stars. He was gratified, therefore, to be
told that his future would be prosperous; and, indeed, about this time you
will pass through many perilous adventures, but you are destined to escape
any dangers that threaten you. You will gain honour and renown, and come
to fortune through a marriage. There are other things in your career that
are uncertain, since I cannot tell at what date they are likely to occur
and whether the planets that were favourable at your birth may again be in
the ascendant; but, for as much as I have told you, I have no doubt
whatever."

"I thank you for the trouble that you have taken, Count Montepone," for
Guy had now learned the rank that the Italian held in his own country,"
and can only trust that your predictions will be verified. I would rather
win fortune by my own hand than by marriage, though it will not come
amiss."

"Whatever way it may happen, you will be knighted," the astrologist said
gravely, "after a great battle, and by the hand of a sovereign; though by
whom the battle will be fought and who the sovereign may be I cannot say,
but methinks that it will be the English king."

"That I can wish more than anything," Guy said warmly. "Fortune is good,
but to be knighted by a royal hand would be an honour greater than any
other that could befall me."

"Bear your destiny in mind," the Italian said earnestly, "remember that in
many cases predictions bring about their own fulfilment; and truly I am
rejoiced that I have found that the stars point out so prosperous a future
for you."

Guy was not free from the superstition of the time, and although in his
English home he had seldom heard astrology mentioned, he had found since
he had been in France that many even of the highest rank had an implicit
belief in it, and he was convinced that at any rate the count himself
believed in the power of the stars. He was gratified, therefore, to be
told that his future would be prosperous; and, indeed, the predictions
were not so improbable as to excite doubt in themselves. He was already an
esquire, and unless he fell in combat or otherwise, it was probable that
he would attain the honour of knighthood before many years had passed. The
fact, however, that it was to be bestowed by royal hand added greatly to
the value of the honour. Knighthood was common in those days; it was
bestowed almost as a matter of course upon young men of good birth,
especially if they took up the profession of arms. Every noble had some,
while not a few had many knights in their service, discharging what would
now be the duties of officers when their levies were called out, and they
could themselves bestow the rank upon any man possessing a certain amount
of land; but to be knighted by a distinguished leader, or by a sovereign,
was a distinction greatly prized, and placed its recipient in quite
another category to the knights by service. It was a testimony alike of
valour and of birth, and was a proof that its bearer was a warrior of
distinction. The prophecy that he would better his fortune by marriage
weighed little with him; marriage was a matter that appeared to him at
present to be a very remote contingency; at the same time it was pleasant
to him to be told that his wife would be an heiress, because this would
place him above the need of earning his living by his sword, and would
enable him to follow his sovereign, not as one of the train of a powerful
noble, but as a free knight.

CHAPTER IX

A STOUT DEFENCE

The Duke of Burgundy had left Paris upon the day after he had received
Dame Margaret, and as the king had a lucid interval, the Duke of
Aquitaine, his son, was also absent with the army. In Paris there existed
a general sense of uneasiness and alarm. The butchers, feeling that their
doings had excited a strong reaction against them, and that several of the
other guilds, notably that of the carpenters, were combining against them,
determined to strike terror into their opponents by attacking some of
their leaders. Several of these were openly murdered in the streets, and
the houses of others were burnt and sacked. One evening when Guy had
returned at nine o'clock from a supper at Count Charles's lodgings, it
being the first time he had been out after dark since his first adventure,
he had but just gone up to his room, when he heard a loud knocking at the
door below. Going to the front window he looked out of the casement.

"Who is it that knocks?" he asked.

"It is I--the lad of Notre Dame."

He recognized the voice and ran down and opened the door.

"What is it, signora?"

"My father bids me tell you, sir, that he but learned the instant before
he despatched me that the butchers are going to attack this house this
evening, under the pretext that there are English spies here, but really
to slay the provost of the silversmiths, and to gratify their followers by
the sack of his house. I fear that I am too late, for they were to march
from the _abattoirs_ at nine, and it is already nearly half-past. Look! I
see torches coming up the street."

"It is too late, indeed, to fly, even if we wished to," Guy said. "Dame
Margaret and the children retired to bed an hour ago. Will you take this
ring," and he took off from his finger one that D'Estournel had given him,
"and carry it at once to the lodgings of Count Charles d'Estournel? They
are in the house on this side of the Hotel of St. Pol. He is still up, and
has some of his friends with him. Tell him from me that this house is
being attacked, and beg him to gather a party, if he can, and come to our
assistance. Say that we shall defend it until the last."

The girl took the ring and ran off at the top of her speed. The roar of
the distant crowd could now be distinctly heard. Guy put up the strong
bars of the door and then rushed upstairs. First he knocked at the door of
Maître Leroux.

"The butchers are coming to attack your house!" he shouted. "Call up your
servants; bid them take to their arms." Then he ran up to the room where
his men slept. Long Tom, who had met him at D'Estournel's door and
accompanied him home, sprang to his feet from his pallet as Guy entered.
"The butchers are about to attack the house, Tom; up all of you and arm
yourselves; bring down your bow and arrows. Where do the men-servants
sleep?"

"There are five of them in the next room, and the two who serve in the
shop are in the chamber beyond," the archer replied, as he hastily buckled
on his armour. Guy rushed to the door and awoke the inmates of the rooms,
telling them to arm and hasten down to defend the house, which was about
to be attacked. A moment later Maître Leroux himself appeared and repeated
the order.

"Art sure of what you say, Master Guy?" he asked.

"Look from the window and you will see them approaching," Guy replied, and
going to the casement window which was at the front of the house he threw
it open. Some four hundred yards away a dense throng was coming along; a
score of torches lighted up the scene.

"Resistance is vain," the silversmith said. "It is my life they seek; I
will go down to them."

"Resistance will not be in vain," Guy said firmly. "I have already sent
for aid, and we shall have a body of Burgundian men-at-arms here to our
assistance before long. Your life will not satisfy them; it is the plunder
of your shop and house that they long for, and you may be sure that they
will put all to the sword if they once break in. Now let us run down and
see what we can do to strengthen our defences."

"The shutters and doors are all strong," the provost said as they hurried
downstairs, followed by the four men-at-arms and the servants--for in
those days men removed but few of their garments as they lay down on their
rough pallets.

"In the first place," Guy said, "we must pile everything that we can find
below against these doors, so that when they yield we can still make a
defence here, before we retire. Are there other stairs than these?"

"No."

"So much the better. As soon as we have blocked the door we will barricade
the first landing and defend ourselves there. Jean Bart, do you take the
command below for the present. Seize everything that you can lay hands on,
logs from the wood-store, sacks of charcoal, cases, everything heavy that
you can find, and pile them up against the door. Tom, do you come with us;
an arrow or two will check their ardour, and it is not likely they have
brought bows or cross-bows with them. Try to parley with them as long as
you can, Maître Leroux, every minute is of value."

"What is all this, Guy?" Dame Margaret asked as she entered the apartment.
Having been aroused by the noise she had hastily attired herself, and had
just come into the front room.

"The butchers are about to attack the house, lady; we are going to defend
it. I have sent to D'Estournel, and we may hope for aid before long."

At this moment there was a loud knocking at the door and a hoarse roar of
voices from the street. The silversmith went to the casement and opened
it, and he and Guy looked out. A shout of fury arose from the street, with
cries of "Death to the English spies!" "Death to the Armagnac provost!"

Leroux in vain endeavoured to make his voice heard, and so tell the crowd
that his guests were not spies, but had been lodged at his house by the
Duke of Burgundy himself. A tall man on horseback, one of several who were
evidently leaders of the mob, pressed his way through the crowd to the
door and evidently gave some orders, and a din of heavy sledge-hammers and
axes beating against it at once mingled with the shouts of the crowd. The
horseman crossed again to the other side of the street and shook his fist
threateningly at Leroux.

"That is Jacques Legoix," the silversmith said, as he retired from the
window; "one of the great leaders of the butchers; his family, and the St.
Yons and Taiberts rule the market."

"Tom," Guy said to the archer, who was standing behind him. "Begin by
picking off that fellow on horseback opposite."

Tom had already bent his bow and had an arrow in readiness, a moment later
the shaft flew and struck the butcher between the eyes, and he fell dead
from his horse. A yell of consternation and rage rose from the crowd.

"Now you can distribute a few arrows among those fellows at the door," Guy
said.

The archer leant far out of the low casement. "It is awkward shooting,
Master Guy," he said quietly, "but I daresay I can make a shift to manage
it." Disregarding the furious yells of the crowd, he sent arrow after
arrow among the men using the sledges and axes. Many of them had steel
caps with projecting rims which sheltered the neck, but as they raised
their weapons with both hands over their heads they exposed their chests
to the marksman above, and not an arrow that was shot failed to bring down
a man. When six had fallen no fresh volunteers came forward to take their
places, although another horseman made his way up to them and endeavoured
by persuasions and threats to induce them to continue the work. This man
was clad in armour, and wore a steel cap in the place of the knightly
helmet.

"Who is that fellow?" Guy asked the merchant.

"He is the son of Caboche, the head of the flayers, one of the most
pestilent villains in the city."

"Keep your eye on him, Tom, and when you see a chance send an arrow home."

"That armour of his is but common stuff, Master Guy; as soon as I get a
chance I will send a shaft through it."

The man with a gesture of anger turned and gave instructions to a number
of men, who pushed their way through the crowd, first picking up some of
the fallen hammers and axes. The fate of his associate had evidently
taught the horseman prudence, for as he moved away he kept his head bent
down so as not to expose his face to the aim of the terrible marksman at
the window. He halted a short distance away and was evidently haranguing
the crowd round him, and in his vehemence raised his arm. The moment he
did so Tom's bow twanged. The arrow struck him at the unprotected part
under the arm-pit, and he fell headlong from his horse. Maddened with rage
the crowd no longer hesitated, and again attacked the door. Just as they
did so there was a roar of exultation down the street as twelve men
brought up a solid gate that they had beaten in and wrenched from its
hinges from a house beyond.

[Illustration: "TOM'S BOW TWANGED, AND THE ARROW STRUCK THE HORSEMAN UNDER
THE ARM-PIT."]

"You can shoot as you like now, Tom. I will go down and see how the men
are getting on below; the mob will have the door in sooner or later."

Guy found that the men below had not wasted their time. A great pile of
logs, sacks, and other materials was piled against the door, and a short
distance behind stood a number of barrels of wine and heavy cases ready to
be placed in position.

"Get them upstairs, Jean," Guy said; "they will make a better barricade
than the furniture, which we may as well save if possible."

The nine men set to work, and in a very short time a strong barricade was
formed across the top of the wide staircase.

"Have you all the cases out of the shop?"

"Yes, we have not left one there, Master Guy. If they are all full of
silver there must be enough for a royal banqueting-table."

Some, indeed, of the massive chests were so heavy that it required the
efforts of six men to carry them upstairs.

"How do matters go, Guy?" Dame Margaret asked quietly as he re-entered the
apartment.

"Very well," he replied. "I don't think the door will hold out much
longer; but there is a strong barricade behind it which it will take them
some time to force, and another on the landing here that we ought to be
able to hold for an hour at least, and before that yields we will have
another ready on the landing above."

"I will see to that," she said. "I will take Agnes and Charlie up with me,
and then, with the women, I will move out the clothes' and linen chests
and build them up there."

"Thank you, madame; I trust long before the barricade here is carried we
shall have D'Estournel and his friends to our assistance. Indeed, I doubt
whether they will be able to carry it at all; it is as solid and almost as
strong as a stone wall, and as there are thirteen or fourteen of us to
defend it, it seems to me that nothing short of battering the cases to
pieces will enable them to force a way."

"I wish I could do something," Agnes broke in; "it is hard not to be able
to help while you are all fighting for us. I wish I had brought my bow
with me, you know I can shoot fairly."

"I think that it is just as well that you have not," Guy said with a
smile. "I do not doubt your courage for a moment, but if you were placing
yourself in danger we should all be anxious about you, and I would much
rather know that you were safe with your mother upstairs."

Guy now went to the window. Maître Leroux had been directing his servants
in the formation of the barricades.

"I can do nothing to protect the door," the archer said; "they have propped
up that gate so as to cover the men who are hammering at it. I have been
distributing my arrows among the crowd, and in faith there will be a good
many vacancies among the butchers and flayers in the market tomorrow
morning. I am just going up to fill my quiver again and bring down a spare
armful of arrows."

"Leave those on the landing here, Tom, and bring your full quiver down
below. The door will not hold many minutes longer: I could see that it was
yielding when I was down there just now. I don't think that we shall be
able to make a long defence below, for with their hooked halberts they
will be able to pull out the logs, do what we will."

One of the servants now ran in.

"They have broken the door down, sir. It is only kept in place by the
things behind it."

Guy ran out, climbed the barricade--which on the landing was four feet
high, but as it was built on the edge of the top stair it was nine inches
higher on that face--let himself drop on to the stairs, and ran down into
the passage.

"I think, Maître Leroux," he said, "that you and your men had better go up
at once and station yourselves at the barricade. There is no room here for
more than five of us to use our arms, and when we retire we shall have to
do so quickly. Will you please fasten a chair on the top step in such a
way that we can use it to climb over the barricade without delay? We are
like to be hard pressed, and it is no easy matter to get over a five-foot
wall speedily with a crowd of armed men pressing hotly on your heels."

The provost told two of his men to pick out a square block of firewood, as
nearly as possible the thickness of the height of one of the steps. After
trying several they found one that would do, and on placing it on the
stair next to the top it formed with the step above it a level platform.
On this the chair was placed, a strong rope being attached to it so that
it could be pulled up over the barricade when the last of the defenders
had entered. By the time this was finished the battle below began in
earnest. The infuriated assailants had pulled the doors outwards and were
making desperate efforts to climb the pile of logs. This they soon found
to be impossible, and began with their halberts to pull them down, and it
was not long before they had dislodged sufficient to make a slope up which
they could climb. Their work had not been carried on with impunity, for
the archer had stationed himself on the top and sent his arrows thick and
fast among them.

"In faith, master," he said to Guy, who stood close behind, "methinks that
I am doing almost as much harm as good, for I am aiding them mightily in
making their slope, which will presently contain as many dead men as
logs."

As soon as they deemed the slope climbable the furious assailants charged
up. They were met by Guy and the four men-at-arms. Tom had now slung his
bow behind him and had betaken himself to his heavy axe, which crashed
through the iron caps of the assailants as though they had been eggshells.
But in such numbers did they press on that Guy saw that this barricade
could not be much longer held.

"Get ready to retire when I give the word!" he shouted to his companions.
"Tom, you and Jules Varoy and Robert Picard run first upstairs. When you
have climbed the barricade, do you, Tom, take your place on the top. Jean
Bart and I will come up last, and you can cover us with your arrows. Tell
Maître Leroux to remove the light into the room, so that they will not be
able to see what there is to encounter, while these torches here and those
held by the crowd will enable you to see well enough to take aim. Now!" he
shouted, "fall back!"

Tom and the two men-at-arms sprang up the stairs, Guy and Jean Bart
followed more slowly, and halted a few steps from the top.

"All up, master!" Tom shouted, and Jean and Guy were able to cross the
barricade before the foremost of their pursuers reached them. There had
indeed been confusion below, for several of those who had first climbed
the barricade had, instead of pressing hotly in pursuit, run along the
hall and through the door into the shop, in their eagerness to be the
first to seize upon the plunder. They expected the others to follow their
example, but one of their leaders placed himself in their way and
threatened to cut them down if they did not first assault the stairs.

"Fools!" he shouted, "do you think that the old fox has wasted the time we
have given him? You may be sure that the richest prizes have been carried
above."

There was an angry altercation, which was continued until those who had
first run into the shop returned with the news that it had been completely
stripped of its contents. There was now no longer any hesitation in
obeying their leader, and the men poured up the stairs in a mass. Suddenly
some torches appeared above, and those in front saw with consternation the
obstacle that stood between them and their prey. They had little time for
consideration, however, for the arrows from the archer now smote them, and
that with a force and rapidity that bewildered them. Five or six of those
in front fell shot through the brain.

"Heads down!" a voice shouted. There was no retreat for those in front,
for the mass behind pressed them forward, and, instinctively obeying the
order, they ran up. But neither helm nor breast-plate availed to keep out
the terrible English arrows, which clove their way through the iron as if
it had been pasteboard. Stumbling over the bodies of those who had fallen,
the front rank of the assailants at last reached the barricade, but here
their progress was arrested. A line of men stood behind the smooth wall of
massive cases, and those who strove to climb it were smitten with axe or
sword, while they themselves could not reach the defenders above them.
They could but thrust blindly with pike or halbert, for if a face was
raised to direct the aim one of the deadly arrows struck it instantly. In
vain they strove by the aid of the halberts to haul down a case from its
position, the weight was too great for one man's strength to move, and
before several could grasp the handle of the halbert to aid them, the
shaft was cut in two by the blow of an axe.

Hopeless as the attempt seemed, it was persevered in, for the crowd below,
ignorant of the nature of the obstacle, maddened with fury and with the
wine which had been freely served out before starting, still pressed
forward, each fearing that the silversmith's treasures would be
appropriated before he could obtain his share. For half an hour the fight
continued, then there was a roar in the street, and Dame Margaret, who,
after seeing the barricade above completed, had come down to her room and
was gazing along the street, ran out on to the landing.

"Help is at hand!" she cried, "the knights are coming!"

Then came the loud tramp of horses, mingled with shouts of "Burgundy!" The
crowd at the entrance at once turned and ran out, and as the alarm reached
those within, they too rushed down, until the stairs were untenanted save
by the dead. Bidding the others hold their places lest the assailants
should return, Guy ran in and joined Lady Margaret at the window. A fierce
conflict was going on in the street, with shouts of "Burgundy!" "A
rescue!" "A rescue!"

The knights, who were followed by some fifty men-at-arms, rode into the
mob, hewing them down with their swords. The humiliations that they had
received from the arrogance and insolence of the butchers had long rankled
in their minds, and they now took a heavy vengeance. The windows of all
the houses opposite, from which men and women had been peering timidly
out, were now crowded; women waving their handkerchiefs to the knights,
and men loudly shouting greetings and encouragements. The whole of the
traders of Paris were bitterly opposed to the domination of the market
guilds, and while they cared but little for the quarrel between the rival
dukes, the alliance between Burgundy and the butchers naturally drove them
to sympathize with the opposite party. The proof afforded by the charge of
the knights upon the mob delighted them, as showing that, allied with them
though they might be, the Burgundians were determined no longer to allow
the rioting and excesses of the men of the market guilds to continue.

In two or three minutes all was over. The resistance, though fierce, was
short, and the mob was driven down the side streets and chased until the
trading quarter was cleared of them. As the knights returned Guy went down
to the door, to which Maître Leroux had already descended to thank his
rescuers for their timely aid.

"I thank you, my lords and knights," the silversmith said, "for the timely
succour you have rendered me. I would pray you to enter and to allow me to
thank you in more worthy fashion, but indeed the stairs and passage are
encumbered with dead."

"Dame Margaret of Villeroy prays me to say that she also desires greatly
to thank you," Guy said.

"I feared that we should have been too late," Count Charles replied. "We
lost no time when your messenger came, Guy, but it took some time to rouse
the men-at-arms and to saddle our horses. You must have made a stout
defence indeed, judging by the pile of dead that encumber your passage."

"There are many more inside," Guy said, "and methinks that we could have
held out for another hour yet if it had been needed. Indeed, the only
thing that I feared was that they might set fire to the lower part of the
house."

"I should like to see your defences, Maître Leroux," Count Walter de
Vesoul said, "What say you, my friends, shall we mount and see the scene
of this battle? Methinks we might well gain something by it, for 'tis no
slight thing that an unfortified house should for over an hour defend
itself against a mob full a couple of thousand strong. I doubt not, too,
that Master Leroux will serve us with a flagon of wine; and, moreover, we
should surely pay our respects to this English lady,--who while a hostage
of the duke has been thus sorely ill-treated by the scum of Paris,--if she
will please receive us at this hour of the evening."

The other knights, of whom there were ten in number, at once dismounted.
The silversmith's servants brought torches, and after ordering two of them
to broach a cask of wine and to regale the men-at-arms, the provost led
the way upstairs.

"Wait a moment, good provost," the Count de Vesoul said, "let us
understand the thing from the beginning. I see that the knaves lying here
and many of those in the road are pierced by arrows, which, as I note,
have in some cases gone through iron cap or breast-piece; how comes that?"

"That is the work of one of my lady's retainers. He is an English archer,
and one of the most skilful. He comes from her English estate, and when
she chose him as one of the four men-at-arms to accompany her, he begged
leave to bring his bow and arrows, and has in truth, as you see, made good
use of them."

"That is the same tall fellow who, as I told you, Walter, did me such good
service in that fray," said D'Estournel.

"By Saint Anne, Guy, I would that I had a dozen such men among my varlets.
Why, there are a round dozen lying outside the door."

"There would have been more," Guy said, "had they not brought up that
great gate and used it as a screen while they battered in the door here."

"Then you built the barricade behind it?" Count Walter said as he climbed
over the heap of logs.

"Yes, Count, it was built against the door, but when that gave way they
pulled it down with halberts until they could climb over it. But, as you
see, no small portion of slope on the outside is composed of their bodies.
The archer's arrows did good execution as they worked at it, and when they
made the assault we--that is to say, Dame Margaret's four retainers and I
--held it for some time, then we retired up the stairs and defended that
barricade we had built across the top."

The knights picked their way among the bodies that encumbered the stairs.

"By Saint Denis, Charles, this is a strong work indeed!" the count said to
D'Estournel, as they reached the top; "no wonder the knaves found it too
much for them. What are all these massive cases?"

"They contain the goods from my shop," Maître Leroux said. "Master Aylmer
had them carried here while the archer was defending the door, and by so
doing not only made, as you see, a stout breast-work, but saved them from
being plundered."

"They were well fitted for it," Guy said, "for they are very weighty; and
though the fellows tried hard they could not move them with their hooks,
and as fast as they strove to do so the provost's men and ours struck off
the heads of the halberts with axes; and the work was all the more
difficult as our archer had always a shaft fitted to let fly whenever they
lifted their heads."

"But how did you manage to get over safely when they won the barricade
below?" D'Estournel asked; "it was not an easy feat to climb this wall
with a crowd of foemen behind."

Guy explained how they had arranged a chair to form a step. "There was,
however," he went on, "no great need for haste. The archer and two others
went first, and he took his stand on the top of the chests in readiness to
cover the retreat of the fourth man-at-arms and myself. But happily many
of the knaves wanted to sack the shop more than to follow us, and there
was such confusion below, that we had time to climb over and pull up the
chair before they had mustered to the attack."

While they were talking Long Tom and the others had removed one of the
chests and made a passage by which they could pass through, and Maître
Leroux led them into his private apartments, which were similar to,
although larger than, Dame Margaret's. A number of candles had already
been lighted, and in a minute Mistress Leroux entered, followed by two of
her maids carrying trays with great beakers of wine and a number of silver
goblets, and she and the provost then poured out the wine and offered it
with further expressions of thanks to the knights.

"Say naught about it, madame," Count Walter said; "it was high time that a
check was put on these rough fellows who lord it over Paris and deem
themselves its masters. I doubt not that they will raise some outcry and
lay their complaint before the duke; but you, I trust, and other worthy
citizens, will be beforehand with them, and send off a messenger to him
laying complaints against these fellows for attacking, plundering, and
burning at their will the houses of those of better repute than
themselves. We have come to your help not as officers of the duke, but as
knights and gentlemen who feel it a foul wrong that such things should be
done. Moreover, as Dame Margaret of Villeroy, a hostage of the duke, was
lodged here at his request, it was a matter that nearly touched his honour
that her life should be placed in danger by these scurvy knaves, and we
shall so represent the matter to the duke."

Just as the knights had drunk their wine, Guy, who had left them on the
landing, entered, escorting Dame Margaret and her two children. Count
Charles d'Estournel, after saluting her, presented his companions to her,
and she thanked each very heartily for the succour they had brought so
opportunely.

"In truth, lady," the Count de Vesoul said, "methinks from what we saw
that you might even have managed without us, so stoutly were you defended
by your esquire and your retainers, aided as they were by those of the
provost, though in the end it may be that these must have succumbed to
numbers; for I can well imagine that your assailants, after the loss that
they have suffered, would have spared no effort to avenge themselves, and
might indeed, as a last resource, have fired the house. This they would no
doubt have done long before had it not been that by so doing they would
have lost all the plunder that they counted on. This stout defence will no
doubt teach these fellows some moderation, for they will see that
citizens' houses are not to be plundered without hard fighting and much
loss. As for ourselves, we shall see the Duke of Burgundy's lieutenant to-
morrow morning and lay the matter before him, praying him to issue a
proclamation saying that in order to suppress the shameful disorders that
have taken place, he gives notice that all who attack the houses of
peaceful citizens will henceforth be treated as evildoers and punished
accordingly."

After some further conversation the knights prepared to leave.

"I shall do myself the honour, sirs," Maître Leroux said, "of sending to
your lodgings to-morrow the cups that you have used, as a small testimony
of my gratitude to you, and as a memorial of the events of this evening."

While they were upstairs the men-at-arms and servants had been employed in
clearing the stairs, throwing the bodies that had encumbered it out into
the street. The men-at-arms of the knights had, after drinking the wine
that had been sent out to them, aided in clearing the passage; buckets of
water had been thrown down on the stairs, and the servitors by a vigorous
use of brooms had removed most of the traces of the fray. The work had
just been finished, and Dame Margaret's men had, by Guy's orders,
stationed themselves on the landing to do honour to the knights as they
set out.

"Ah, my tall friend," D'Estournel said to the archer, "so you have been at
work again, and I can see that you are even more doughty with the bow than
with that long staff of yours. Well, this time there must have been enough
fighting to please even you."

"It has been an indifferent good fight, my lord," Tom said; "but in truth,
save for the stand on that pile of logs below, when things were for a time
brisk, it has been altogether too one-sided to please me."

"Most people would think that the one-sidedness was all the other way,"
D'Estournel laughed. "Well, men, you have all done your duty to your lady
right well this night, and there is not one of us here who would not
gladly have such brave fellows in his service. I see that you are all four
wounded."

"They are scarce to be called wounds, Sir Count, seeing that they are but
flesh cuts from their halberts which we got in the fray below. These
slaughterers can doubtless strike a good blow with a pole-axe, but they
are but clumsy varlets with other weapons. But to give them their due,
they fought stoutly if with but little skill or discretion."

Several of the others also said a few words of commendation to the men.
The provost and Guy escorted the knights to the door below. The latter had
ordered twenty of their men-at-arms to remain in the house until morning,
after which ten were to stay there until the doors had been repaired and
refixed. As soon as the knights had ridden off the silversmith ordered
several bundles of rushes to be strewn in the shop for the guard, and a
meal of cold meat to be set for their supper. Two of them were posted as
sentinels at the door.

"I shall not open the shop to-morrow," he said as he ascended the stairs
with Guy, "nor indeed shall I do so until things have settled down. There
will be for some time a mighty animosity on the part of these butchers and
skinners against me, and it is only reasonable that after such an attack I
should close my shop. Those who have dealings with me will know that they
can do their business with me in private. And now methinks we will retire
to bed; 'tis past midnight, and there is no fear of our being disturbed
again. If they send anyone to spy out whether we are on the watch, the
sight of the Burgundian soldiers below will suffice to tell them that
there is nothing to be done. The first thing tomorrow I will set the
carpenters to work to make me an even stronger pair of doors than those
that have been spoilt."

CHAPTER X

AFTER THE FRAY

On going into Dame Margaret's apartments Guy found that she had again
retired to rest, and at once threw himself on his bed without disrobing
himself further than taking off his armour, for he felt that it was
possible the assailants might return after finding that the Burgundian
knights and men-at-arms had ridden away. He had told the men-at-arms to
keep watch by turns at the top of the stairs, where the barricade still
remained, and to run in to wake him should they hear any disturbance
whatever at the door below. He slept but lightly, and several times went
out to see that the watch was being well kept, and to look up and down the
street to assure himself that all was quiet.

"You did nobly last night, Guy," Dame Margaret said as she met him in the
morning; "Sir Eustace himself could have done no better had he been here.
When I next write to my lord I shall tell him how well you have protected
us, and pray him to send word of it to your father."

"I did my best, lady; but it is to Long Tom that it is chiefly due that
our defence was made good. It was his shooting that caused the long delay
in breaking open the door, and that enabled us to hold the barricade
below, and he also stoutly aided in the defence of the landing."

"Nevertheless, Guy, it was under your direction that all things were done.
It is to the leader who directs that the first praise is due rather than
to the strongest and bravest of his men-at-arms. It was, too, owing to
your interference on behalf of Count Charles d'Estournel that we owe it
that succour came to us; it was his friendship for you that prompted him
to gather his friends to come to our aid; and it was the warning, short
though it was, sent us by that strange Italian that enabled you to send to
the count for aid. I must see his daughter and thank her personally for
the part she played in the matter. No, Guy, had it not been for you this
house would now have been an empty shell, and all of us would have been
lying under its ruins. I have been thinking during the night that you must
be most careful when you go abroad; you know that the son of that monster
Caboche, the leader of the skinners, and doubtless many leaders of the
butchers, among them Legoix, were killed, and their friends are certain to
endeavour to take vengeance on you. They saw you at the window, they will
know that you are my esquire, and will doubtless put down their defeat
entirely to you. You cannot be too careful, and, above all, you must not
venture out at night save on grave occasion. Agnes," she broke off as the
girl entered the room, "you too must thank our brave esquire for having so
stoutly defended us."

"I do thank you most heartily, Guy," the girl said, "though I felt it very
hard that I could do nothing to help you. It was terrible sitting here and
hearing the fight so close to us, and the dreadful shouts and screams of
those people, and to have nothing to do but to wait. Not that I was
frightened, I felt quite confident that you would beat them, but it was so
hard to sit quiet. I should not have minded so much if I could have been
standing there to see the brave deeds that were being done."

"Like the queen of a tournament, Agnes," her mother said with a smile.
"Yes, indeed, it is one of the hardships of us women. It is only when a
castle is besieged and her lord is away that a woman may buckle on armour
and set an example to her retainers by showing herself on the wall and
risking the enemies' bolts, or even, if necessary, taking her place with
her retainers on the breach; at other times she must be passive and wait
while men fight."

"If I had only had my bow," Agnes said regretfully, "I could really have
done something. You would have let me go out then, mother, would you not?"

"I don't know, dear; no, I don't think I should. It was anxious work
enough for me as it was. If you had gone out I must have done so, and then
Charlie would have wanted to go too. No; it was much better that we all
sat together as we did, waiting quietly for what might come, and praying
for those who were fighting for us."

"I was glad that Madame Leroux stayed upstairs with her maid instead of
coming down here as you asked her, mother; she looked so scared and white
that I do think it would have been worse than listening to the fighting to
have had to sit and look at her."

Dame Margaret smiled. "Yes, Agnes, but I think that she was more
frightened for her husband than for herself, and I don't suppose that she
had ever been in danger before. Indeed, I must say that to look out at
that crowd of horrible creatures below, brandishing their weapons,
shouting and yelling, was enough to terrify any quiet and peaceable woman.
As a knight's wife and daughter it was our duty to be calm and composed
and to set an example, but a citizen's wife would not feel the same
obligation, and might show her alarm without feeling that she disgraced
herself or her husband."

On going out Guy found their host already engaged in a conference with a
master carpenter as to the construction of the new doors. They were to be
very strong and heavy, made of the best oak, and protected by thick sheets
of iron; the hinges were to be of great strength to bear the weight. A
smith had also arrived to receive instructions for making and setting very
strong iron bars before the shop, the front of which would require to be
altered to allow of massive shutters being erected on the inside. Iron
gates were also to be fixed before the door.

"That will make something like a fortress of it, Master Aylmer," the
silversmith said, "and it will then need heavy battering-rams to break
into it. Several others of my craft similarly protect their shops; and
certainly no one can blame me, after the attack of last night, for taking
every means to defend myself. I intend to enlist a party of ten fighting
men to act as a garrison until these troubles are all over."

"I think that you will act wisely in doing so," Guy said. "Your servants
all bore themselves bravely last night, but they had no defensive armour
and were unaccustomed to the use of weapons. Only I would advise you to be
very careful as to the men that you engage, or you may find your guard
within as dangerous as the mob without."

"I will take every pains as to that, you may be sure, and will engage none
save after a careful inquiry into their characters."

The streets had already been cleared of the slain. All through the night
little parties had searched for and carried off their dead, and when at
early morning the authorities sent a party down to clear the street there
remained but some twenty-five bodies, evidently by their attire belonging
to the lowest class, and presumably without friends. That day petitions
and complaints were sent to the king by the provosts of the merchants, the
gold and silver smiths, the cloth merchants, the carpenters and others,
complaining of the tumults caused by the butchers and their allies, and
especially of the attack without cause or reason upon the house of Maître
Leroux, the worshipful provost of the silversmiths. Several skirmishes
occurred in the evening between the two parties, but an order was issued
in the name of the king to the Maire and syndics of Paris rebuking them
for allowing such disturbances and tumults, and ordering them to keep a
portion of the burgher guard always under arms, and to repress such
disturbances, and severely punish those taking part in them.

Maître Leroux and his wife paid a formal visit to Dame Margaret early in
the day to thank her for the assistance that her retainers had given in
defending the house.

"You were good enough to say, madame," the silversmith said, "that you
regretted the trouble that your stay here gave us. We assured you then,
and truly, that the trouble was as nothing, and that we felt your presence
as an honour; now you see it has turned out more. Little did we think when
you came here but a few days since that your coming would be the means of
preserving our lives and property, yet so it has been, for assuredly if it
had not been for your esquire and brave retainers we should have been
murdered last night. As it is we have not only saved our lives but our
property, and save for the renewal of the doors we shall not have been the
losers even in the value of a crown piece. Thus, from being our guests you
have become our benefactors; and one good result of what has passed is,
that henceforth you will feel that, however long your stay here, and
however much we may try to do for you, it will be but a trifle towards the
discharge of the heavy obligation under which we feel to you."

After a meeting of the city council that afternoon, a guard of ten men was
sent to the silversmith's to relieve the Burgundian men-at-arms. Five of
these were to be on duty night and day until the house was made secure by
the new doors and iron grill erected in front of the shop. Guy proposed to
Dame Margaret that he should give up his visit to the _salle d'armes_, but
this she would not hear of.

"I myself and the children will go no more abroad until matters become
more settled, but it is on all accounts well that you should go to the
school of arms. Already the friends that you have made have been the means
of saving our lives, and it is well to keep them. We know not what is
before us, but assuredly we need friends. Maître Leroux was telling me
this morning that the Armagnacs are fast approaching, and that in a few
days they will be within a short distance of Paris. Their approach will
assuredly embitter the hostility between the factions here, and should
they threaten the town there may be fierce fighting within the walls as
well as without. At present, at any rate, there are likely to be no more
disturbances such as that of last night, and therefore no occasion for you
to remain indoors. Even these butchers, arrogant as they are, will not
venture to excite the indignation that would be caused by another attack
on this house. That, however, will make it all the more likely that they
will seek revenge in other ways, and that the house will be watched at
night and any that go out followed and murdered.

"You and Tom the archer are no doubt safe enough from the attack of
ordinary street ruffians, but no two men, however strong and valiant, can
hope to defend themselves successfully against a score of cut-throats. But
I pray you on your way to the school go round and thank, in my name, this
Italian and his daughter, and say that I desire much to thank the young
lady personally for the immense service she has rendered me and my
children. Take the archer with you, for even in the daytime there are
street brawls in which a single man who had rendered himself obnoxious
could readily be despatched."

"In faith, Master Guy," Long Tom said as they sallied out, "it seems to me
that if our stay in Paris is a prolonged one I shall return home rich
enough to buy me an estate, for never did money so flow into my pocket. We
have been here but a short time, and I have gained as much and more than I
should do in a year of hard service. First there was that young French
count, the very next morning when he called here he gave me a purse with
thirty crowns, telling me pleasantly that it was at the rate of five
crowns for each skull I cracked on his behalf. Then this morning Maître
Leroux came to me and said, 'Good fellow, it is greatly to your skill and
valour that I owe my life, and that of my wife; this will help you to set
up housekeeping; when you return home,' and he gave me a purse with a
hundred crowns in it; what think you of that, master? The other three also
got purses of fifty crowns each. If that is the rate of pay in Paris for a
couple of hours' fighting, I do not care how often I take a share in a
fray."

"You are doing well indeed, Tom, but you must remember that sooner or
later you might go into a fray and lose your life, and with it the chance
of buying that estate you speak of."

"We must all take our chances, master, and there is no winning a battle
without the risk of the breaking of casques. Are we going to the house we
went to the first night we came here, Master Guy? Methinks that this is
the street we stopped at."

"Yes, Tom. It was the man who lives here who sent me word that the
butchers were going to attack the provost's house, by the same messenger
who met us before Notre Dame, and who last night, after warning me,
carried my message to Count Charles, praying him to come to our aid."

"Then he did us yeoman service," the archer said warmly, "though I think
not that they would have carried the barricade had they fought till
morning."

"Perhaps not, though I would not say so for certain, for they might have
devised some plan such as they did for covering themselves while they
assaulted the door. But even had they not done so they would have been
sure before they retired to have fired the house."

"That is what I thought of when they were attacking us," the archer said,
"and wondered why they should waste men so freely when a torch would have
done their business just as well for them."

"That would have been so, Tom, had they only wished to kill us; but
though, no doubt, the leaders desired chiefly the life of the provost, the
mob simply fought for plunder. If they had found all the jeweller's store
in his shop, they would have fired the house very quickly when they
discovered that they could not get at us. But it was the plunder that they
wanted, and it was the sight of those chests full of silver-ware that made
them venture their lives so freely, in order to have the handling of it. I
do not think that I shall be long here, Tom. Do not wait for me at the
door, but stroll up and down, keeping a short distance away, so that I can
see you when I come out."

A decrepit old woman opened the door, and on Guy giving his name she said
that she had orders to admit him if he called. The girl came out dressed
in her female attire as he went upstairs.

"Ah, signor," she said, "I am glad indeed to see that you are safe."

"Thanks to you," he said warmly; "we are all your debtors indeed."

"I had but to run a mile or two," she said; "but what was there in that?
But indeed I had an anxious time, I so feared that I should be too late.
When I had seen the Count d'Estournel and delivered your message to him
and had shown him your ring, and he and his friends had declared that they
would call up their men and come at once to your aid, I could not go back
and wait until this morning to learn if they arrived in time, so I ran to
your street again and hid in a doorway and looked out. Just as I got there
they broke in the door and I saw some of them rush in. But there was a
pause, though they were all pressing to enter. They went in very slowly,
and I knew that you must be defending the entrance. At last there was a
sudden rush, and I almost cried out. I thought that it was all over. A
great many entered and then there was a pause again. The crowd outside
became more and more furious; it was dreadful to hear their shouts and to
see the waving of torches and weapons.

"They seemed to be almost mad to get in. The crush round the door was
terrible, and it was only when two or three horsemen rode in among them
shouting, that the press ceased a little. One horseman obtained silence
for a moment by holding up his hand. He told them that their friends
inside were attacking a barricade, and would soon carry it, and then there
would be silver enough for all; but that by pressing forward they did but
hamper the efforts of their comrades. It seemed, oh, such a long, long
time before I saw the Burgundians coming along, and I could not help
throwing my cap up and shouting when they charged into the crowd. I waited
until it was all over, and then I ran back home and had a rare scolding
for being out so late; but I did not mind that much, after knowing that
you were all safe."

At this moment a voice from the landing above said: "Are you going to keep
Master Aylmer there all day with your chattering, Katarina?" The girl made
a little face and nodded to Guy to go upstairs.

"Katarina is becoming a madcap," the astrologer said, as he led Guy into
the room. "I cannot blame her altogether; I have made a boy of her, and I
ought not to be shocked at her acting like one. But she gave me a rare
fright last night when she did not return until close on midnight. Still,
it was natural for her to wish to see how her mission had turned out."

"Her quickness saved all our lives," Guy said. "Had it not been for her
carrying my message to the Count d'Estournel we should have been burnt
alive before morning."

"It was unfortunate that I sent you the message so late, Master Aylmer. I
was busy when a medical student who sometimes gathers news for me in the
butchers' quarter came here, and left a missive for me. Had he sent up a
message to me that it was urgent, I would have begged the personage I had
with me to wait a moment while I read the letter. As it was, it lay
downstairs till my visitor departed. When I learned the news I sent off
Katarina at once. She had but a short time before come in, and was
fortunately still in her boy's dress, so there was no time lost. I went
out myself at ten o'clock to see what was going on, and must have been
close to her without either of us knowing it. I looked on for a short
time; but seeing that nothing could be done, and feeling sure that the
house must be taken,--knowing nothing of the chance of the Burgundians
coming to the rescue,--I returned here and was surprised to find that
Katarina had not returned.

"I did not think that she could have reached the shop and warned you
before the mob arrived, and therefore I became greatly alarmed as the time
went by without her appearing. Indeed, my only hope was that she must have
been looking on at the fight and would return when it was all over, as
indeed it turned out; and I should have rated her much more soundly than I
did had she not told me how she had fetched the Burgundians and that they
had arrived in time. I hear that there is a great stir this morning. The
number of men they have lost, and specially the deaths of Legoix and of
the young Caboche, have infuriated the butchers and skinners. They have
already sent off two of their number to lay their complaint before the
Duke of Burgundy of the conduct of some of his knights in attacking them
when they were assailing the house of a noted Armagnac. But they feel that
they themselves for the moment must remain quiet, as the royal order has
emboldened the Maire, supported by the traders' guilds, and notably by the
carpenters, who are a very strong body, to call out a portion of the city
guard, and to issue an order that all making disturbances, whomsoever they
may be and under whatsoever pretext they are acting, will be summarily
hung if captured when so engaged.

"In spite of this there will no doubt be troubles; but they will not
venture again to attack the house of the silversmith, at any rate until an
order comes from the Duke of Burgundy to forbid his knights from
interfering in any way with their doings."

"Which I trust he will not send," Guy said; "and I doubt if the knights
will obey it if it comes. They are already much enraged at the insolence
of the butchers, and the royal proclamation this morning will justify them
in aiding to put down disturbances whatsoever may be the duke's orders.
And now, Sir Count, I have come hither this morning on behalf of my lady
mistress to thank you for sending the news, and still more for the service
your daughter rendered in summoning the knights to her assistance. She
desires much to return thanks herself to your daughter, and will either
call here to see her or would gladly receive her at her lodging should you
prefer that."

"I should prefer it, Master Aylmer. Your lady can scarce pass through the
streets unnoticed, for her English appearance marks her at once; and as
all know she lodges at the silversmith's, she will be more particularly
noticed after the events of last night, and her coming here will attract
more attention to me than I care for. Therefore I will myself bring
Katarina round and will do myself the honour of calling upon your lady. I
can wrap the girl up in a cloak so that she shall not attract any
observation, for no one knows, save the old woman below, that I have a
daughter here; and with so many calling at the house, and among them some
reckless young court gallants, I care not that it should be known, if for
no other reason than, were it so, it would be soon suspected that the lad
who goes so often in and out is the girl in disguise, and I could then no
longer trust her in the streets alone."

"You will find my lady in at whatever hour you come, signor, for she has
resolved not to go abroad again until order is restored in Paris."

"The decision is a wise one," the Italian said; "though indeed I think not
that she would be in any danger, save that which every good-looking woman
runs in troubled times like these, when crime is unpunished, and those in
authority are far too occupied with their own affairs to trouble their
heads about a woman being carried off. But it is different with you and
your comrade. The butchers know well enough that it was your work that
caused their failure last night. Your appearance at the window was
noticed, and it was that tall archer of yours who played such havoc among
them. Therefore I advise you to be ever on your guard, and to purchase a
mail shirt and wear it under your doublet; for, however watchful you may
be, an assassin may steal up behind you and stab you in the back. You may
be sure that Caboche and the friends of Legoix will spare no pains to take
vengeance upon you."

Guy presently rejoined the archer in the street. "Henceforth, Tom," he
said, "you must always put on breast-and-back piece when you go out. I
have been warned that our lives will almost surely be attempted, and that
I had best put on a mail shirt under my doublet."

"Perhaps it would be best, Master Guy. I fear not three men if they stand
up face to face with me, but to be stabbed in the back is a thing that
neither strength nor skill can save one from. But as I care not to be
always going about in armour I will expend some of my crowns in buying a
shirt of mail also. 'Tis better by far than armour, for a man coming up
behind could stab one over the line of the back-piece or under the arm,
while if you have mail under your coat they will strike at you fair
between the shoulders, and it is only by striking high up on the neck that
they have any chance with you. A good coat of mail is money well laid out,
and will last a lifetime; and even if it cost me all the silversmith's
crowns I will have a right good one."

Guy nodded. He was wondering in his own mind how he should be able to
procure one. His father had given him a purse on starting, but the money
might be needed for emergencies. He certainly could not ask his mistress
for such a sum, for she too might have need of the money that she had
brought with her. He was still turning it over in his mind when they
reached the fencing-school. He was greeted with acclamations as he entered
by the young count and his friends.

"Here is our defender of houses," the former exclaimed. "Truly, Guy, you
have given a lesson to the butchers that they sorely needed. They say that
the king himself, who is in one of his good moods to-day, has interested
himself mightily in the fray last night, and that he has expressed a wish
to hear of it from the esquire who he has been told commanded the defence.
So it is not unlikely that there will be a royal message for you to attend
at the palace. Fortunately we had the first say in the matter this
morning. My father returned last night, and as he is rather a favourite of
his majesty, we got him to go to the king and obtain audience as soon as
he arose, to complain of the conduct of the butchers in attacking the
house of the provost of the silversmiths, and where, moreover, Dame
Villeroy, who had arrived here in obedience to his majesty's own commands,
was lodged. The king when he heard it was mightily offended. He said he
had not been told of her coming, and that this insult to her touched his
honour. He sent at once for the Maire and syndics, and upbraided them
bitterly for allowing such tumults to take place, and commanded them to
put a stop to them under pain of his severe displeasure.

"That accounts, you see, for the Maire's proclamation this morning. The
king desired my father to thank me and the other knights and gentlemen for
having put down the riot, and said that he would at once send off a
message to the Duke of Burgundy commanding him to pay no attention to any
reports the butchers might send to him, but to give them a stern answer
that the king was greatly displeased with their conduct, and that if any
fresh complaint about them was made he would straightway have all their
leaders hung.

"It is one thing to threaten, and another to do, Guy; but at any rate, so
long as the duke is away they will see that they had best keep quiet; for
when the king is in his right senses and is not swayed by others, he is
not to be trifled with.

"You can imagine what an excitement there was last night when that boy you
sent arrived. The ring was sent up first, and when I gave orders that he
should be admitted he came in well-nigh breathless. There were six or
eight of us, and all were on the point of leaving. Thinking that it might
be something private, they had taken up their hats and cloaks. The boy, as
he came in, said, 'Which of you is Count Charles d'Estournel?' 'I am,' I
said. 'You are the bearer of a message from Guy Aylmer?' 'I am, my lord.
He prays you hasten to his assistance, for the butchers and skinners are
attacking Maître Leroux's house, and had begun to hammer on the door when
I was still in the street. If they make their way in, they will surely
kill all they find in there. They are shouting, 'Death to the Armagnacs!
Death to the English spies!'

"I called upon my comrades to join me, and all were eager to do so. We had
long been smarting under the conduct of these ruffians, and moreover I was
glad to discharge a part of my debt to you. So each ran to his lodgings
and despatched servitors to summon their men-at-arms, and to order the
horses to be saddled, and to gather in front of my lodging with all speed.
Two or three of my friends who had left earlier were also summoned; but
though we used all the speed we could it was more than an hour before all
were assembled. The men-at-arms were scattered, and had to be roused; then
there was the work of getting the stables open, and we had to force the
doors in some places to do it. I was on thorns, as you may well imagine,
and had little hope when we started that we should find any of you alive.
Delighted indeed we were when, on getting near enough, we could see the
crowd were stationary, and guessed at once that you were still holding
out--though how you could have kept so large a number at bay was beyond
us. We struck heartily and heavily, you may be sure, and chased the wolves
back to their dens with a will. I hear that, what with those you slew in
the house and street and those we cut down, it is reckoned that a couple
of hundred were killed; though as to this none can speak with certainty,
seeing that so many bodies were carried away before morning."

"I trust that none of you received wounds, Count Charles?"

"None of us; though several of the men-at-arms had gashes from the
rascals' weapons, but naught, I think, that will matter."

At this moment one of the attendants of the salon came in.

"An usher from the palace is here, my lords and gentlemen. He has been to
the lodging of Master Guy Aylmer, and has learned that he will most likely
be here. If so, he has the king's command to conduct him to the palace, as
His Majesty desires to have speech with him."

"I told you so, Guy; my father's story has excited the king's curiosity,
and he would fain hear all about it. Make the most of it, for His Majesty
loves to be entertained and amused."

"Had I better ask the usher to allow me to go back to my lodging to put on
a gayer suit than this?" Guy asked.

"Certainly not; the king loves not to be kept waiting. Fortunately no time
has been wasted so far, as this is on the road from the silversmith's to
the palace."

The Louvre at that time bore no resemblance to the present building. It
was a fortress surrounded by a strong embattled wall, having a lofty tower
at each corner and others flanking its gates. On the water-face the towers
rose from the edge of the river, so that there was no passage along the
quays. The building itself was in the castellated form, though with larger
windows than were common in such edifices. Eight turret-shaped buildings
rose far above it, each surmounted with very high steeple-like roofs,
while in the centre rose another large and almost perpendicular roof,
terminating in a square open gallery. The building was further protected
by four embattled towers on each side, so that if the outer wall were
carried it could still defend itself. In the court-yard between the outer
wall and the palace were rows of low barracks, where troops were lodged.
Two regiments of the best soldiers of Burgundy were quartered here, as the
duke feared that some sudden rising of the Armagnac party might put them
in possession of the king's person, in which case the Orleanists would
easily persuade him to issue proclamations as hostile to Burgundy as those
which were now published in, his name against the Orleanists. The Louvre,
indeed, differed but slightly from palaces of several of the great nobles
within the walls of Paris, as all of these were to some extent fortified,
and stood as separate fortresses capable of offering a stout resistance to
any attack by the populace.

"I would rather face those villains of last night for another hour than go
before the king," Guy said, as he prepared to follow the attendant; "but I
trust that good may come of my interview, and that I can interest the king
in the case of my mistress."

Joining the usher, who was waiting at the entrance, and who saluted him
courteously--for the manner in which the message had been communicated to
the usher showed him that the young squire was in no disgrace with the
king--Guy walked with him to the Louvre, which was a short half-mile
distant. Accompanied as he was by a royal officer, the guard at the gate
offered no interruption to his passage, and proceeding across the court-
yard he entered the great doorway to the palace, and, preceded by the
usher, ascended the grand staircase and followed him along a corridor to
the apartments occupied by the king.

CHAPTER XI

DANGER THREATENED

On being ushered into the royal apartment Guy was led up to the king, who
was seated in a large arm-chair. He was stroking the head of a greyhound,
and two or three other dogs lay at his feet. Except two attendants, who
stood a short distance behind his chair, no one else was present. The king
was pale and fragile-looking; there was an expression of weariness on his
face, for in the intervals between his mad fits he had but little rest. He
was naturally a kind-hearted man, and the troubles that reigned in France,
the constant contention among the great lords, and even among the members
of his own family, were a constant source of distress to him. Between the
Duke of Burgundy, the queen, his nephew of Orleans, and the other royal
dukes he had no peace, and the sense of his inability to remedy matters,
and of his position of tutelage in the hands of whoever chanced for the
moment to be in the ascendant, in no slight degree contributed to the
terrible attacks to which he was subject. At the present moment the Duke
of Burgundy was away, and therefore, feeling now comparatively free, he
looked up with interest when the usher announced Guy Aylmer.

"You are young, indeed, sir," he said, as Guy made a deep bow, "to be the
hero of the story that I heard this morning. I hear that you have been
slaying many of the good citizens of Paris!"

"Some have certainly been slain, sire; but I think not that any of them
could be considered as good citizens, being engaged, as they were, in
attacking the house of the worshipful provost of the silversmiths, Maître
Leroux."

"I know him," the king said, "and have bought many rare articles of his
handiwork, and more than once when I have needed it have had monies from
him on usance. 'Tis a grave scandal that so good a citizen should thus be
attacked in my city, but I will see that such doings shall not take place
again. And now I would hear from your own lips how you and a few men
defended the house so long, and, as I hear, with very heavy loss to those
attacking it. I am told that you are English."

"Yes, sire, I have the honour to be an esquire to Sir Eustace de Villeroy,
and am here in attendance upon his dame, who, with her two children, have
been brought as hostages to Paris under your royal order."

A look of pain passed across the king's face. "Your lord is our vassal for
his castle at Villeroy?"

"He is, sire, and is also a vassal of England for the estates of his
wife."

"Since England and France are not at present on ill terms," the king said,
"he may well discharge both duties without treason to either Henry or
myself; but they told me that his vassalage to me has sat but lightly upon
him."

"His father and grandfather, sire, were vassals of England, as Villeroy
was then within the English bounds, but he is, I am assured, ready
faithfully to render any service that your majesty might demand of him,
and is willing to submit himself, in all respects, to your will. But since
he wishes not to take any part in the troubles between the princes, it
seems that both regard him with hostility. Two months since his castle was
attacked by some eight thousand men from Ham, led by Sir Clugnet de
Brabant. These he repulsed with heavy loss, and deemed that in so doing he
was acting in accordance with your majesty's proclamation, and was
rendering faithful service to you in holding the castle against your
enemies, and he had hoped for your majesty's approbation. He was then
deeply grieved when your royal herald summoned him, in your name, either
to receive a garrison or to send his wife and children hither as
hostages."

"I will see into the matter," the king said earnestly. "And so your
mistress was bestowed at the house of Maître Leroux?"

"She was, sire, and is most hospitably entertained by him."

"Now let us hear of this defence. Tell me all that took place; withhold
nothing."

Guy related the details of the defence.

[Illustration: "THE KING EXTENDED HIS HAND TO GUY, WHO WENT ON ONE KNEE TO
KISS IT."]

"Truly it was well done, young sir, and I owe you thanks for having given
so shrewd a lesson to these brawlers, Maître Leroux has good reasons for
being thankful to the duke for lodging your lady in his house, for he
would doubtless have lost his life had you and your four men not been
there. When the Duke of Burgundy returns I will take council with him
touching this matter of your mistress. I know that he gave me good reasons
at the time for the bringing of her hither, but in the press of matters I
do not recall what they were. At any rate, as she is here as my hostage
her safety must be ensured, and for the present I will give orders that a
guard be placed at the house."

He extended his hand to Guy, who went on one knee to kiss it and then
retired.

He took the news back to Dame Margaret.

"I knew well enough that the poor king had nothing to do with the matter,"
she said. "Were it otherwise I would myself have asked for an audience
with him; but I knew that it would be useless, he would but have replied
to me as he has to you, that he must consult the duke."

In the afternoon the Italian called with his daughter upon Dame Margaret.
The former was now dressed in accordance with his rank as an Italian
noble, and the girl, on laying aside her cloak, was also in the costume of
a young lady of position. Guy presented the count to his mistress.

"I am greatly indebted to you, Count Montepone," she said, "for the timely
warning that you sent us, and still more for the service rendered to us by
your daughter in summoning the Burgundian knights to our aid. Truly," she
added with a smile, "it is difficult to believe that it was this young
lady who was so busy on our behalf. I thank you, maiden, most heartily.
And, believe me, should the time ever come when you require a friend;
which I hope may never be the case, you will find one in me on whom you
can confidently rely.

"This is my daughter Agnes. She is, methinks, but a year or so younger
than yourself, though she is as tall or taller, and she will gladly be
your friend also."

Katarina replied quietly and composedly, and Guy, as he watched her and
Agnes talking together, was surprised at the way in which she adapted
herself to circumstances. As a boy she assumed the character so perfectly
that no one would suspect her of being aught else. She was a French gamin,
with all the shrewdness, impudence, and self-confidence of the class. As
he saw her at her father's in female attire something of the boy's nature
seemed still to influence her. There was still a touch of sauciness in her
manner, and something of defiance, as if she resented his knowledge of her
in her other character. Now she had the quiet composure of a young lady of
rank. As Dame Margaret had said, she was but little older than Agnes; but
though less tall than the English girl, she looked a woman beside her. Guy
stood talking with them while Dame Margaret and the count conversed apart.
Gradually as they chatted Katarina's manner, which had at first been
somewhat stiff, thawed, and Guy left her and Agnes together and went to
look through the window.

He could vaguely understand that Katarina at first, knowing that Dame
Margaret and Agnes must be aware of her going about as a boy, was standing
a little on her dignity. The simple straightforwardness of Agnes and her
admiration of the other's boldness and cleverness had disarmed Katarina,
and it was not long before they were chatting and laughing in girlish
fashion. There was a difference in their laughter, the result of the
dissimilar lives they had led. One had ever been a happy, careless child,
allowed to roam about in the castle or beyond it almost unattended, and
had only to hold herself as became the position of a maiden of rank on
special occasions, as when guests were staying in the castle; the other
had been for years her father's assistant, engaged in work requiring
shrewdness and quickness and not unattended at times with danger. She had
been brought into contact with persons of all ranks and conditions, and at
times almost forgot her own identity, and was in thought as well as manner
the quick-witted messenger of her father. After the latter had chatted for
some time with Dame Margaret he beckoned her to him.

"Dame Margaret has promised me to be your protector should aught befall
me, child," he said, "and I charge you now in her hearing should anything
happen to me to go at once to her castle at Villeroy, and should she not
be there to her castle at Summerley, which lies but twelve miles from the
English port of Southampton, and there to place yourself under her
guardianship, and to submit yourself to her will and guidance wholly and
entirely. It would be well indeed for you to have a quiet English home
after our troubled life. To Italy you cannot go, our estates are long
since confiscated; and did you return there you would find powerful
enemies and but lukewarm friends. Besides, there would be but one mode of
life open to you, namely, to enter a convent, which would, methinks, be of
all others the least suited to your inclinations."

"I can promise you a hearty welcome," Dame Margaret said kindly. "I trust
that you may never apply for it; but should, as your father says, aught
happen to him, come to me fearlessly, and be assured that you will be
treated as one of my own family. We shall ever be mindful of the fact that
you saved our lives last night, and that nothing that we can do for you
will cancel that obligation."

"I trust that I may never be called upon to ask your hospitality, Lady
Margaret," the girl said quietly, "but I thank you with all my heart for
proffering it, and I feel assured that I should find a happy home in
England."

"'Tis strange how it has all come about," her father said. "'Tis scarce a
month since I saw Dame Margaret enter Paris with her children, and the
thought occurred to me that it would be well indeed for you were you in
the charge of such a lady. Then, as if in answer to my thoughts, I saw her
young esquire in the crowd listening to me, and was moved at once to say
words that would induce him to call upon me afterwards, when I saw that I
might possibly in these troublous times be of use to his mistress. And
thus in but a short time what was at first but a passing thought has been
realized. It is true that there are among my clients those whose
protection I could obtain for you; but France is at present as much torn
by factions as is our native Italy, and none can say but, however highly
placed and powerful a man may be to-day, he might be in disgrace to-
morrow."

Carefully wrapping his daughter up in her cloak again, the Italian took
his leave, refusing the offer of Dame Margaret for two of her men-at-arms
to accompany them.

"There is no fear of trouble of any sort to-day," he said. "The loss that
was suffered last night was so severe that the people will be quiet for a
few days, especially as the king, as well as the city authorities, are
evidently determined to put a stop to rioting. Moreover, the fact that the
Burgundian nobles have, now that the duke is away, taken a strong part
against the butchers' faction has for the moment completely cowed them.
But, apart from this, it is my special desire to return to my house
unnoticed. It is seldom that I am seen going in and out, for I leave home
as a rule before my neighbours are about, and do not return till after
nightfall. I make no secret of my being a vendor of drugs at the fairs,
and there are few can suspect that I have visitors after dark."

"I like your astrologer, Guy," Dame Margaret said when they had left.
"Before I saw him I own that I had no great faith in his countship. Any
man away from his native country can assume a title without anyone
questioning his right to use it, so long as he is content to live in
obscurity, and to abstain from attracting the attention of those who would
be likely to make inquiries. But I have no doubt that our friend is, as he
represents himself, the Count of Montepone, and I believe him to be
sincere in the matter of his dealings with us. He tells me that he has
received more than one hint that the reports that he deals with the stars
and exercises divinations have come to the ears of the church, and it is
likely ere long he may be forced to leave Paris, and indeed that he would
have done so before now had it not been that some of those who have had
dealings with him have exercised their influence to prevent things being
pushed further.

"No doubt it is true that, as he asserts, he in no way dabbles in what is
called 'black art,' but confines himself to reading the stars; and he
owned to me that the success he has obtained in this way is to some extent
based upon the information that he obtains from persons of all classes. He
is evidently a man whose nature it is to conspire, not so much for the
sake of any prospect of gain or advantage, but for the pleasure of
conspiring. He has dealings with men of both factions. Among the butchers
he is believed to be an agent of the duke, who has assumed the character
of a vendor of nostrums simply as a disguise, while among the Armagnacs he
is regarded as an agent of Orleans. It is doubtless a dangerous game to
play, but it both helps him in his profession of astrologer and gives him
influence and power. I asked him why he thus mingled in public affairs. He
smiled and said: 'We are always conspiring in Italy; we all belong to
factions. I have been brought up in an atmosphere of conspiracy, and it is
so natural to me that I could scarce live without it. I am rich: men who
trade upon the credulity of fools have plenty of clients. My business of a
quack doctor brings me in an income that many a poor nobleman would envy.
I travel when I like; I visit alternately all the great towns of France,
though Paris has always been my head-quarters.

"'As an astrologer I have a wide reputation. The name of the Count
Smarondi--for it is under that title that I practise--is known throughout
France, though few know me personally or where I am to be found. Those who
desire to consult me can only obtain access to me through some of those
whose fortunes I have rightly foretold, and who have absolute faith in me,
and even these must first obtain my consent before introducing anyone to
me. All this mystery adds both to my reputation and to my fees. Could
anyone knock at my door and ask me to calculate his horoscope he would

Book of the day: