Part 1 out of 6
Produced by Stephen Schulze and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
_The_ LIGHT _that_ LURES
_The English edition of this book was published under
the title of "A Gentleman of Virginia"_
THE LIGHT THAT LURES
ACROSS THE WATERS OF THE BAY
Seated on a green hummock, his knees drawn up, his elbows resting on his
knees and his head supported in his open hands, a boy sat very still and
preoccupied, gazing straight into the world before him, yet conscious of
little beyond the visions conjured up by his young mind. His were dim
visions begot of the strenuous times in which he lived, and which were
the staple subject of conversation of all those with whom he came in
contact, yet his shadowy dreams had something of the past in them, and
more, far more, of that future which to youth must ever be all
important. But this young dreamer was not as dreamers often are, with
muscle subservient to brain, the physical less highly developed than the
mental powers; on the contrary, he was a lad well knit together, his
limbs strong and supple, endurance and health unmistakable, a lad who
must excel in every manly exercise and game. Perhaps it was this very
superiority over his fellows which, for the time being, at any rate, had
made him a dreamer. While other boys, reproducing in their games that
which was happening about them, fought mimic battles, inflicted and
suffered mimic death, experienced terrible siege in some small copse
which to their imagination stood for a beleaguered city, or carried some
hillock by desperate and impetuous assault, this boy, their master in
running, in swimming, in wrestling, in sitting a horse as he galloped
freely, was not content with mimicry, but dreamed of real deeds in a
It was a fair scene of which this boy, for the moment, seemed to be the
centre. Before him lay the great expanse of Chesapeake Bay scintillating
in the light of the afternoon, a sail here and there catching the
sunlight and standing out clearly from a background of distant haze. A
wide creek ran sinuously into the land, the deep blue of its channel
distinct from the shallow waters and the swamps from which a startled
crane rose like an arrow shot across the vault of the sky. To the right,
surrounded by its gardens and orchards, stood a house, long, low, large
and rambling, the more solid successor to the rough wooden edifice which
had been among the first to rise when this state of Virginia had become
a colony for cavaliers from England. Flowers trailed over the wide porch
and shone in patches of brilliant color about the garden, alternating
with the long-cast shadows of cedar, cypress, and yellow pine; fruit
turned to opulent red and purple ripeness in the orchards; and the song
of birds, like subdued music, came from tree and flower-lined border. In
close proximity to the house Indian corn was growing, and a wide area of
wheat ripened to harvest, while beyond, like a vast green ocean,
stretched the great tobacco plantation, with here and there the dark
blot of a drying shed like a rude ark resting upon it. In the far
distance, bounding the estate, a line of dark woods seemed to shut out
the world and wrap it in impenetrable mystery. Over all this great
estate the boy sitting on the hummock was known as the young master, but
he was not dreaming of a future which should have wealth in it,
pleasure, all that the heart of a man can wish for; but of toil and
hardship bravely borne, of fighting days and camp fires, of honor such
as heroes attain to.
He had been born in stirring times. For more than five years past war
had been in the land, the struggle for freedom against a blind and
tyrannical government. It had been one thing to make the Declaration of
Independence, it had been quite another matter to carry it into effect.
Early success had been followed by disasters. Washington had been
defeated on Long Island; his heroic endeavor to save Philadelphia by the
battle of Brandywine against an enemy far superior in numbers had
failed; yet a month later a large British force had been compelled to
surrender at Saratoga. These fighters for freedom seemed to know defeat
only as a foundation upon which to build victory. England might send
fresh armies and fresh fleets, but there were men on land and sea ready
to oppose them, ready to die for the freedom they desired and the
independence they had proclaimed; and it was only a few months ago that
the war had been virtually ended by the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at
Colonel Barrington had taken an active and honorable part in the
conflict, yet in the beginning of the trouble, like many another man of
his class, he had been for peace, for arbitration, for arrangement if
possible. His fathers had been among the earliest settlers in Virginia,
representatives of an English family, whose roots stretched far back
into history. They had come to rest on this very spot of earth, had
raised their first rough wooden dwelling here, calling it Broadmead,
after the name of their home in England. Love for the old country was
still alive in Colonel Barrington, and it was only after grave
deliberation that he had drawn the sword, convinced that he drew it for
the right. Doubtless there were some in this great conflict who were
self-seeking, but this was certainly not the case with Henry Barrington.
He had much to lose, nothing personal to win which seemed to him of any
consequence. Broadmead he loved. He had been born there. In due time he
had brought home to it his beautiful young wife, daughter of a French
family in Louisiana, and until this upheaval the years had passed
happily, almost uneventfully, yet bringing with them increasing
The boy, dreaming dreams and stretching out toward an ideal, might well
have taken his father for model, but, while reverencing him and knowing
him to be a great and good man, his young imagination had been fired by
a different type of hero, the man whose restless and adventurous spirit
had brought him four years ago to fight as a volunteer in the cause of
freedom; who had come again only a year since and had done much to bring
about the surrender of Lord Cornwallis; the man who, only the other day,
had been publicly thanked by General Washington speaking for the nation
he had helped to found; the man who was at this moment his father's
guest--the Marquis de Lafayette. There was much of the French spirit in
the boy, inherited from his mother, and to every word the Marquis had
uttered he had listened eagerly, painting his hero in colors that were
too bright and too many, perhaps. An hour ago he had stolen out of the
house to this hummock, a favorite spot of his, to dream over all he had
heard and of the future.
His eyes were fixed upon a distant white sail, sun touched, which
lessened far out across the bay, which presently became a point of light
and was then hidden in the haze of the horizon. That was the way of
dreams surely, the road which led to the realization of hope. That ship
might go on and on through sunlight and storm, through mist and clear
weather, and some time, how long a time the boy did not know, it would
reach another land, France perchance, surely the best of all lands,
since it bred such men as the Marquis de Lafayette.
The grass had deadened the sound of approaching footsteps and the boy
rose hastily. His face flushed as he recognized his visitor.
He was a thin man, still young, with an earnest face which at once
arrested attention. It was far more that of a visionary than was the
boy's, a difficult countenance to read and understand. If, for a moment,
the neatness and precision of his dress suggested a man of idle leisure,
a courtier and little more, there quickly followed a conviction that
such an estimate of his character was a wrong one. Dreamer he might be,
in a sense, but he was also a man of action. The spare frame was full of
energy, there was determination in the face. This was a man who knew
nothing of fear, whom danger would only bring stronger courage; a man
who would press forward to his goal undaunted by whatever difficulties
stood in the way. He was an idealist rather than a dreamer, one who had
set up a standard in his life and, right or wrong, would live his life
true to that standard. He was a man to trust, even though he might not
inspire love, a leader for a forlorn hope, a personality which brought
confidence to all who came in touch with it. His eyes, kindly but
penetrating, were fixed upon the lad to whom he was a hero. He was the
famous Marquis de Lafayette.
"Yes, sir, I was--I was thinking."
"Great thoughts, I warrant, for so young a mind. Let us sit down. This
is a famous seat of yours, a good place to dream in with as fair a slice
of the world's beauty to gaze upon as could well be found. Come, tell me
The boy sat down beside him, but remained silent.
"Shall I help you?" said the Marquis. "Ah, my lad, I know that it is
difficult to tell one's dreams, they are often such sacred things; but
your good mother has been telling me something about you. We are of the
same blood, she and I, so we talk easily and tell each other secrets, as
two members of a large family will. She tells me, Richard, that you have
thought a great deal about me."
"Indeed, sir, I have."
"And made something of a hero of me; is that it?"
"Would that anger you, sir?"
"Anger me! Why, my lad, the man who can become a child's hero should be
proud of it. There must be something good mixed with his common clay for
him to achieve so much. I am glad and proud, as proud as I am of General
Washington's thanks the other day; you need not look at me with such
disbelief in your eyes, for I only say what is true. So now tell me your
"They are only half dreams," said the boy slowly, but to-day they seem
clearer. They have one end and aim, to be like you, to fight for the
oppressed, to fight and to conquer."
"The dreams are worthy, Richard, but set yourself a higher standard.
That you think so much of me almost brings a blush to my cheek, lad, for
I am a poor hero. Yet, there is this in common between us, I too, have
had such dreams--have them still. I am striving to make my dreams come
true. So much every man can do. You have, or you will have presently,
your duty set straight before you. Duty is like that; it never lies in
ambush. Along that path of duty you must march and never turn aside. It
is a strange path, for though it is distinct and clear that all may
recognize it, yet for each individual it seems to have a different
direction. It leads some to mighty deeds which must echo round the
world; some it will bring to poverty, obscurity, disgrace perchance, but
these are heroes, remember, as the others are, greater heroes I think,
since no man knows them or cheers them on. You have not thought of such
"I thought not. That is why I came to talk to you. I cannot tell what
your future is to be, I do not know in what way you are destined to
travel, but duty may not call upon you to wear the sword or ride in the
forefront of a charge. This country has just had a glorious birth, a
rebirth to freedom. Your father has helped to fight for it; you may be
called upon to work peaceably for it."
"I hope, sir, my duty will mean the sword and the charge."
"Your countrymen are probably glad to have peace," he answered.
"But this is not the only land where men are cruelly treated and would
fight for freedom," the boy returned. "You came here to help us against
the English. Some day may I not journey to help others?"
"My mother is French, therefore I am partly French. I love my father,
but I am more French than English. I should love to fight for France,"
and the boy looked up eagerly into his companion's face.
"So that is the real secret out at last," said Lafayette, with a light
laugh. "You would love to fight for France."
"Yes, sir; and it makes you laugh. I have not told it to any one else; I
knew they would laugh."
"But you expected better things of me. Forgive me, lad, I was not
laughing at you; yet you must learn not to mind the laughter of others.
Whenever a man is in earnest there will always be some to ridicule what
they term his folly. He is something of a hero who can stand being
"Sir, did you not say to my father only to-day as you sat at dinner in
the hall, that France was groaning under oppression, and there was no
knowing what would be the end of it?"
"I did, Richard, I did."
"Then, Monsieur de Lafayette, it might be that some day I might cross
the sea to help France."
The Marquis laughed softly and patted the boy's head.
"So that is your dream. I hope freedom may be bought without blood,
"But you do not think so, sir."
"Why should you say that?"
"Partly because of the way you say it, partly because I have been told
that you are farseeing. I have listened so eagerly to all the stories
told about you."
"If such a fight for freedom came in France, it would be far more
terrible than the war here," and the Marquis made the statement rather
to himself than to the boy.
"Then it may be my duty to come and help you," said Richard.
"If the opportunity should come, see that your adventurous spirit does
not make it your duty whether it be so or not. There are some years to
pass before these young limbs of yours are fit for fighting, or this
brain of yours has to make a decision. You have a good father and
mother, they will guide you. Dream your dreams, and I doubt not, my
friend Richard Barrington will become a hero to many. Are you coming
back to the house with me? Within an hour I am leaving."
"You are going back to France?"
"It is a wonderful land, isn't it?"
"To a true man his own country is always a wonderful land."
"Yes, and I am mostly French," said the boy.
"No, lad. You are an American, a Virginian. Be proud of it."
"I am proud of it, sir; yet a Virginian gentleman might fight for
"And France might be glad to claim his sword. Yes, that is true. Well,
lad, come in peace or in war, do not fail to make inquiry in Paris for
Lafayette. He shall return you something of the courtesy which has been
shown to him in this country and in your father's house."
"Thank you, oh, thank you a thousand times. I can talk about it to my
mother now. She shall share my dreams."
As he went toward the house he looked back across the waters of the bay.
Yet another sail, with the sun upon it, was fading slowly into the
THE MAN BY THE ROADSIDE
A solemn twilight, heavy and oppressive, was closing a dull, slumberous
day. It was late in the year for such weather. Not a breath stirred in
the trees by the roadside, not a movement in hedge or ditch; some plague
might have swept across the land, leaving it stricken and desolate, even
the cottages here and there showed no lights and appeared to be
deserted. The road ran straight between ill-conditioned and neglected
fields, and for an hour or more no traveler had passed this way, yet it
was a high road, and at a few miles distance was Paris. Yonder toward
the northeast lay the city, the twilight heavy over it too, but it was
not silent. The throb of human passion and anger beat in it with quick,
hammering strokes, and men and women, looking into one another's eyes,
either laughed while they sang and danced madly, or shrank away, afraid
of being seen, fearing to ask questions.
The twilight had grown deeper, and the horizon was narrowing quickly
with the coming of night, when the sound of horses' hoofs broke the
silence and two riders came rapidly round a bend into the long stretch
of straight road, traveling in the direction of Paris. They rode side by
side as comrades and as men with a purpose, a definite destination which
must be reached at all hazards, yet at a casual glance it would appear
that they could have little in common. One was an elderly man with
grizzled hair, face deeply lined, sharp eyes which were screwed up and
half closed as if he were constantly trying to focus things at a
distance. He was tall, chiefly accounted for by his length of leg, and
as thin as a healthy man well could be. His horsemanship had no easy
grace about it, and a casual observer might have thought that he was
unused to the saddle. There would have been a similar opinion about
anything this man did; he never seemed to be intended for the work he
was doing, yet it was always well done. He was a silent man, too, and
his thoughts were seldom expressed in his face.
His companion was a young man, twenty-five or twenty-six, although his
face might suggest that he was somewhat older. His was a strong face,
cleanly cut, intelligent, purposeful, yet there was also a certain
reserve, as though he had secrets in his keeping which no man might
know. Like his comrade, there was little that escaped his keen
observation, but at times there was a far-off look in his eyes, as
though the present had less interest for him than the future. He sat his
horse as one born to the saddle; his hands were firm, his whole frame
full of physical force, energy, and endurance--a man who would act
promptly and with decision, probably a good man to have as a friend,
most certainly an awkward one to have as an enemy.
"We delayed too long at our last halt, Seth. I doubt whether we shall
see Paris to-night," he said presently, but made no effort to check the
pace of his horse.
"I've been doubting that for an hour past, Master Richard," was the
The grizzled man was Seth, or sometimes Mr. Seth, to all who knew him.
So seldom had he heard himself called Seth Dingwall that he had almost
forgotten the name. Born in Louisiana, he believed he had French blood
in him, and spoke the language easily. He had gone with his mistress to
Virginia when she married Colonel Barrington, and to him Broadmead was
home, and he had no relation in the wide world.
"Is it so necessary to reach the city to-night?" he asked after a pause.
"I had planned to do so."
The answer was characteristic of the man. As a boy, when he had made up
his mind to do a thing, he did it, even though well-merited punishment
might follow, and the boy was father to the man. Save in years and
experience, this was the same Richard Barrington who had dreamed as he
watched sunlit sails disappear in the haze over Chesapeake Bay.
"I was thinking of the horses," said Seth. "I reckon that we have a long
way to travel yet."
"We may get others presently," Barrington answered, and then, after a
moment's pause, he went on: "We have seen some strange sights since we
landed--ruined homes, small and great, burned and desolated by the
peasants; and in the last few hours we have heard queer tales. I do not
know how matters stand, but it looks as if we might be useful in Paris.
That is why we must push on."
"Master Richard," he said slowly.
"Have you ever considered how useless a man may be?"
"Ay, often, and known such men."
"You do not catch my meaning. I am talking of a man who is full of
courage and determination, yet just because he is only one is powerless.
A lion might be killed by rats if there were enough rats."
"True, Seth, but there would be fewer rats by the time the lion was
dead, and a less number for the next lion to struggle with."
"A good answer," said Seth, "and I'm not saying it isn't a right one,
but I'm thinking of that first lion which may be slain."
A smile, full of tenderness, came into Barrington's face which, in the
gathering darkness, his companion could hardly have seen had he turned
to look at him, which he did not do.
"I know, Seth, I know, but I am not one man alone. I have you. It seems
to me that I have always had you, and Heaven knows I should have had far
less heart for this journey had you not come with me. In the old days
you have been nurse and physician to me. I should have drowned in the
pond beyond the orchard had you not been at hand to pull me out; I
should have broken my skull when the branch of that tree broke had you
not caught me; and I warrant there's a scar on your leg somewhere to
show that the bull's horn struck you as you whisked me into a place of
"There was something before all those adventures, Master Richard."
"What was that, Seth?"
"It was a morning I'm not forgetting until I'm past remembering
anything. We all knew you were coming, and we were looking every day to
hear the news. When we did hear it, it was only part of the story, and
the other part was most our concern for a while. The mistress was like
to die, they said. I remember there was wailing among the plantation
hands, and Gadman the overseer had to use his whip to keep 'em quiet.
We others were just dumb and waited. Then came the morning I speak of.
The mistress was out before the house again for the first time. I
chanced to be by, and she called me. You were lying asleep in her lap.
'Seth,' she said, 'this is the young master; isn't he beautiful? You
must do your best to see that he comes to no harm as he grows up.' Well,
that's all I've done, and it's what I'm bound to go on doing just as
long as ever I can. That was the first time I saw you, Master Richard."
Barrington did not answer. His companion's words had brought a picture
to his mind of his home in Virginia, which he had never loved quite so
well perhaps as at this moment when he was far away from it, and was
conscious that he might never see it again. Only a few months ago, when
he had sat on the hummock, falling into much the same position as he had
so often done as a boy, he had even wondered whether he wanted to return
to it. Broadmead could never be the same place to him again. His father
had died five years since, and that had been a terrible and sincere
grief to him, but he had his mother, and had to fill his father's place
as well as he could. The work on the estate gave him much to do, and if
the news from France which found its way to Broadmead set him dreaming
afresh at times, he cast such visions away. He had no inclination to
leave his mother now she was alone, and he settled down to peaceful,
happy days, hardly desiring that anything should be different, perhaps
forgetting that some day it must be different. Not a year had passed
since the change had come. A few days' illness and his mother was
He was alone in the world. How could Broadmead ever be the same to him
"Seth, did my mother ever say anything more to you about me?" he asked
"She thanked me for saving you from the bull, though I wanted no
"Only once," Seth returned, "and then she said almost the same words as
she did when I first saw you lying on her knee. 'See that he comes to no
harm, Seth.' She sent for me the night before she died, Master Richard.
That's why I'm here. I didn't want to leave Virginia particularly."
Barrington might have expressed some regret for bringing his companion
to France had not his horse suddenly demanded his attention. They had
traversed the long stretch of straight road, and were passing by a thin
wood of young trees. Long grass bordered the road on either side, and
Barrington's horse suddenly shied and became restive.
"There's something lying there," said Seth, whose eyes were suddenly
focused on the ground, and then he dismounted quickly. "It's a man,
Master Richard, and by the Lord! he's had rough treatment."
Barrington quieted his horse with soothing words, and dismounting,
tethered him to a gate.
"He's not dead," Seth said, as Barrington bent over him; and as if to
endorse his words, the man moved slightly and groaned.
"We can't leave him, but--"
"But we shall not reach Paris to-night," Seth returned. "Didn't they
tell us we should pass by a village? I have forgotten the name."
"Tremont," said Richard.
"It can't be much farther. There's no seeing to find out his injuries
here, but if you could help to get him over the saddle in front of me,
Master Richard, I could take him along slowly."
A feeble light glimmered presently along the road, which proved to be
the light from a tavern which stood at one end of the village, a rough
and not attractive house of entertainment, a fact that the neighbors
seemed to appreciate, for no sound came from it.
"Those who attacked him may be there, Master Richard, refreshing
themselves after their dastardly work."
"They must be saying silent prayers of repentance, then. Stay in the
shadows, Seth; I'll make inquiry."
Leading his horse, Barrington went to the door and called for the
landlord. He had to call twice before an old man shuffled along a dark
passage from the rear of the house and stood before him.
"Are there lodgings for travelers here?"
"Lodgings, but no travelers. Tremont's deserted except by children and
invalids. All in Paris, monsieur. Ay, these be hard times for some of
"I'm for Paris, but must rest here to-night."
"You're welcome, monsieur, and we'll do our best, but it's poor fare
you'll get and that not cheap."
"Are there no travelers in the house?"
"None; none for these two months."
"No visitor of any kind?"
"None. Only four to-day, and they cursed me and my wine."
"I have a friend with me, and a wounded man. We found him by the
"We'll do our best," said the landlord, and he turned away and called
for his wife.
As Barrington and Seth carried the wounded man in, the landlord looked
at him and started.
"You know him?" asked Barrington sharply.
"I saw him only to-day. I'll tell you when you've got him comfortable in
"Is there a doctor in Tremont?"
"No, monsieur. Over at Lesville there's one, unless he's gone to Paris
with the rest, but he couldn't be got here until the morning.".
"I may make shift to patch him up to-night, Master Richard," said Seth.
"I helped the doctors a bit before Yorktown, when I was with the
Possibly no physician or surgeon would have been impressed with Seth's
methods. He was never intended to dress wounds, and yet his touch was
"He'll do until the doctor comes to-morrow," said Seth, as he presently
found Barrington at the frugal meal.
The landlord apologized for the frugality, but it was all he could do.
"May I never face less when I am hungry," said Barrington. "You saw this
man to-day, landlord, you say?"
"Yes. I told you that four men cursed me and my wine. They had been here
an hour or more, talking of what was going forward in Paris, and of some
business which they were engaged upon. I took little note of what they
said, for every one is full of important business in these days,
monsieur, but the man who lies upstairs presently rode past. I saw him
from this window, and my four guests saw him, too. They laughed and
settled their score, and five minutes later had brought their horses
from the stable behind the inn and were riding in the direction he had
"And attacked him a little later, no doubt."
"It would seem so," said the landlord.
"Should they return, keep it a secret that you have a wounded man in the
house. Will that purchase your silence?"
The landlord looked at the coins Barrington dropped into his hand.
"Thank you, monsieur, you may depend upon it that no one shall know."
Seth presently went to see the patient again, and returned in a few
moments to say he was conscious.
"I told him where we found him, and he wants to see you, Master
"Your doctoring must be wonderfully efficacious, Seth."
"Brandy is a good medicine," was the answer; "but the man's in a bad
way. He may quiet down after he's seen you."
The man moved slightly as Barrington entered the room, and when he spoke
his words came slowly and in a whisper, yet with some eagerness.
"They left me for dead, monsieur; they were disturbed, perhaps."
"Why did they attack you?"
"I was carrying a message."
"A letter--and they stole it?" asked Barrington.
"No, a message. It was not safe to write."
"To whom was the message?"
"To a woman, my mistress, from her lover. He is in the hands of the
rabble, and only she can save him. For the love of Heaven, monsieur,
take the message to her. I cannot go."
"What is her name?" Barrington asked.
"Mademoiselle St. Clair."
"Certainly, she shall have it. How shall I make her understand?"
"Say Lucien prays her to come to Paris. In my coat yonder, in the lining
of the collar, is a little gold star, her gift to him. Say Rouzet gave
it to you because he could travel no farther. She will understand. You
must go warily, and by an indirect road, or they will follow you as they
"And where shall I find Mademoiselle St. Clair?"
"At the Chateau of Beauvais, hard by Lausanne, across the frontier."
Before the man could give a word of further explanation there was a loud
knocking at the door of the inn which the landlord had closed for the
night, and when it was not opened immediately, angry curses and a threat
to break it down. The patient on the bed did not start, he was too
grievously hurt to do that, but his white face grew gray with fear.
"It is nothing, only a late traveler," said Barrington. "And, my good
fellow, I cannot go to--"
The man's eyes were closed. The sudden fear seemed to have robbed him of
consciousness. It was quite evident to Barrington that he could not be
made to understand just now that a journey to Beauvais was impossible.
He waited a few minutes to see if the man would rouse again, but he did
not, and seeing that an explanation must be put off until later, he went
out of the room, closing the door gently behind him. As he descended the
stairs the landlord tiptoed up to meet him.
"The men who were here to-day and cursed my wine," he whispered. "Two of
them have returned!"
A BINDING OATH
The return of these men, if indeed they were responsible for the
condition of the man upstairs, might augur further evil for him. They
had perchance returned along the road to make certain that their work
was complete, and, finding their victim gone, were now in search of him.
Exactly what reliance was to be placed on the word of the wounded man,
Barrington had not yet determined. He might be a contemptible spy, his
message might contain hidden information to the enemies of his country;
he was certainly carrying it to aristocrats who were safe across the
frontier, and he might fully deserve all the punishment which had been
meted out to him, but for the moment he was unable to raise a hand in
his own defense and his helplessness appealed to Barrington. These men
should not have their will of him if he could prevent it.
"Keep out of the way of being questioned," he whispered to the landlord,
as they went down the stairs. It was characteristic of Richard
Barrington that he had formed no plan when he entered the room. He
believed that actions must always be controlled by the circumstances of
the moment, that it was generally essential to see one's enemy before
deciding how to outwit him, a false theory perhaps, but, given a strong
personality, one which is often successful.
"Good evening, gentlemen! My friend and I are not the only late
The two men looked sharply at him. Their attention had been keenly,
though furtively, concentrated upon Seth, who sat in a corner,
apparently half asleep. In fact, having just noticed them, he had closed
his eyes as though he were too weary and worn out to talk.
Both men curtly acknowledged Barrington's greeting, hardly conscious of
the curtness maybe. They were of the people, their natural roughness
turned to a sort of insolent swagger by reason of the authority which
had been thrust upon them. They were armed, blatantly so, and displayed
the tri-colored cockade. In some society, at any rate, they were of
importance, and this stranger and the manner of his greeting puzzled
them. He spoke like an aristocrat, yet there was something unfamiliar
"Did you have to batter at the door before you could gain admittance?"
asked one. Of the two, he seemed to have the greater authority.
"No, we arrived before the door was closed."
"Closed doors are suspicious," the man returned with an oath. "This is
the day of open doors and freedom for all, citizen."
"Liberty, equality, and fraternity," Barrington answered. "It is a good
motto. One that men may well fight for."
"Do you fight for it?" asked the man, truculently.
"Not yet," said Barrington, very quietly and perfectly unmoved,
apparently seeing nothing unusual in the man's manner or his question,
but quite conscious that Seth had sleepily let his hand slip into his
pocket and kept it there.
"Late travelers on the road are also suspicious," said the man, stepping
a little nearer to Barrington.
"Indeed! Tell me, of what are you afraid? My friend and I are armed, as
I see you are. We may join forces against a common danger. Four resolute
men are not easily to be played with."
"Aristocrats find it convenient to travel at night, and tricked out just
as you are," he said. "I have taken part in stopping many of them."
"Doubtless an excellent and useful occupation," Barrington returned.
"And I have heard many of them talk like that," said the man, "an
attempt to throw dust into eyes far too sharp to be blinded by it. You
will tell me where you travel to and where from."
"Do you ask out of courteous curiosity, as meeting travelers may do, or
for some other reason?"
"You may think whichever pleases you."
"I am not making for the frontier, if that is what you want to know,"
"I asked a question which it will be well for you to answer," said the
man, and it was evident that his companion was also on the alert.
"Have you authority to question me?" Barrington asked.
"Papers here," said the man, touching his coat, "and this." His hand
fell upon a pistol in his belt.
"Leave it there. It is the safest place."
Seth's hands had come from his pocket with a pistol in it. Barrington
"My friend seems as suspicious as you are. Let me end it, for truly I
expected to be drinking with you before this, instead of trying to find
a cause for quarrel. Your eyes must be sharp indeed if you can discover
an aristocrat in me. I was for freedom and the people before you had
struck a blow for the cause here in France. We are from the coast,
before that from America, and we journey to Paris to offer our services
to the Marquis de Lafayette."
Perhaps the man believed him, perhaps he did not, but the result of an
appeal to force was doubtful, and wine was an attraction. He held out
his hand with an air that the welcome of France was in the action. For
the present they could pose as friends, whatever might chance in the
"Sieur Motier the Marquis is now called, but in America that name would
not appeal. We may drown our mistake in wine, the first but maybe not
the last time we shall drink together."
The landlord brought in the wine and departed without being questioned.
"Sieur Motier," said Barrington, reflectively. "News has traveled slowly
to us in Virginia, and things here have moved quickly. You can tell me
much. This meeting is a fortunate one for me."
Into weeks and months had been crowded the ordinary work of a long
period of time. After nearly three years of strenuous effort, the
Constituent Assembly had come to an end. With Mirabeau as its master
spirit, it had done much, some evil, but a great deal that was good. It
had suppressed torture, done away with secret letters, and lightened the
burden of many grievous taxes. Now, the one man who was able to deal
with the crisis if any man was, the aristocrat who had become the
darling of the rabble, the "little mother" of the fisher-wives, the hope
of even the King himself, was silent. Mirabeau was dead. In fear the
King had fled from Paris only to be stopped at Varennes and brought back
ignominiously to the capital. The Legislative Assembly took the place of
the Constituent Assembly, three parties in it struggling fiercely for
the mastery, one party, that high-seated crowd called the Mountain, red
republicans whose cry was ever "No King," growing stronger day by day.
Nations in arms were gathering on the frontiers of France, and the
savagery of the populace was let loose. The Tuileries had been stormed,
the Swiss Guard butchered, the royal family imprisoned in the Temple.
Quickly the Legislative Assembly had given way to a National Convention,
and the country was ripe for any and every atrocity the mind of man
The patriot, sitting opposite to Barrington and drinking wine at
intervals, told his tale with enthusiasm and with many comments of his
own. He was full of the tenets of the Jacobin and Cordelian Clubs. For
him the world, set spinning on a mad career when the Bastille fell, was
moving too slowly again. There had been a good beginning, truly
something had been done since, but why not make a good end of it?
Mirabeau, yes, he had done something, but the work had grown too large
for him. He had died in good time before the people had become tired of
him. France was for the people, and there must be death for all who
stood in the people's way, and a quick death, too.
"Blood must run more freely, there will be no good end without that," he
said; "the blood of all aristocrats, no matter what they promise, what
they pretend. From the beginning they were liars. France has no use for
them save to make carrion of."
"And whose power is sufficient for all this?" Barrington asked.
"To-day, no one's. To-morrow;--who shall say? Things go forward quickly
at times. A sudden wave might even raise me to power."
"Then the good ending," said Barrington.
The man caught no irony, he only heard the flattery.
"Then the blood flowing," he laughed; "so, as full in color and as
freely spilt," and he jerked the remains of the wine in his glass across
the room, staining the opposite wall.
"And if not at your word, perhaps at that of Monsieur de Lafayette,
Sieur Motier," Barrington suggested. He wanted the man to talk about the
"He is an aristocrat with sympathies which make no appeal to me. The
people have grown tired of him, too. I am honest, and fear no man, and I
say that Motier has long been at the crossroads. He is, or was, an
honest man, I hardly know which he is now, and even honest men must
suffer for the cause. You say you are his friend, whisper that warning
in his ear, if you see him; say you had it from Jacques Sabatier, he
will have heard of me."
"Certainly, I will tell him," said Barrington, wondering if such a man
as Lafayette could have heard of such a truculent scoundrel as this. "Is
he in Paris?"
"I know nothing of him. He was with the army in the North, but he may
have been recalled. He must obey like the rest of us. Do you ride with
us to Paris to-night?"
"No. Our horses need rest, but we shall meet there, I hope."
"A true patriot must needs meet Sabatier in Paris," and the man
swaggered out of the room, followed by his companion.
Barrington and Seth stood at the tavern door to watch their departure.
It was not advisable that they should be alone with the landlord and
have an opportunity of asking him questions.
The two men rode sharply through the village, but on the outskirts drew
"Had you sharp enough eyes to discover anything?" Sabatier asked,
turning to his companion.
"Nothing, except that one of them was too much like an aristocrat to
"He comes to Paris, and may be dealt with there. What of Bruslart's
"I saw no sign of him."
"Yet they journey from the coast and must have passed him on the road.
He was beyond moving of his own accord."
"Do you mean they helped him?"
"Some one has. We were fools to allow ourselves to be disturbed before
completing our work."
"Why did you not question the landlord or the men themselves?"
"Time enough for that," Sabatier answered. "Two men against two gives no
odds to depend upon. Ride on toward Paris and send me back a dozen
patriots, no matter where you find them. There are some in the
neighborhood who have tasted blood in burning a chateau, whisper that
there are aristocrats in Tremont. They shall find me by that farm
yonder, snatching an hour's sleep in the straw maybe. Then get you to
Villefort, where Mercier and Dubois are waiting. Bid them watch that
road. Possibly the messenger was not so helpless as we imagined."
Jacques Sabatier did not move until the sound of his comrade's horse
had died into silence, then he went toward the farm, tethered his horse,
and threw himself down on the straw in a dilapidated barn. Sleep must be
taken when it could be got. The days and nights were too full for
settled times of rest. In his little sphere he was a man of consequence,
not of such importance as he imagined, but, nevertheless, before his
fellows. He had been at the storming of the Bastille, that gave him
prestige; he had a truculent swagger which counted in these days,
especially if there had been no opportunity of being proved a coward.
Perchance Sabatier had never been put to the test. In a rabble it is
easy to shout loudly, yet be where the danger is least, and this
wide-mouthed patriot had much to say about himself.
His sleep was sound enough for the proverbial just man, sound and
dreamless, aided perhaps by a liberal allowance of wine. At daybreak he
was still slumbering, and the little crowd of men who presently found
him in the barn had some trouble in rousing him. He struggled to his
feet, his mind a blank for a moment.
"What is it? What do you want?" and for an instant there was a look in
his eyes strangely like fear.
"You sent for us," said one.
"Ah! I remember." Sabatier was himself again. "There's work for us in
the village yonder. Rats in a hole, comrades. We go to smoke them out."
A fierce undertone of approval was the answer.
So in the early morning there was once more a heavy battering at the
closed door of the tavern, and shouting to the landlord to open quickly.
He came shuffling down the stairs.
"It's over early for guests," he said sleepily, "but you're good men, I
see. Come in."
Then he caught sight of Sabatier and trembled a little. He was an old
man, and had been oppressed so long that he had become used to it. He
understood very little of what was going forward in the country.
"Where are the aristocrats?" hissed a dozen raucous voices.
"Those guests of yours," said Sabatier.
"They have gone--went soon after you left last night. It was a surprise,
but I had no power to stop them."
There was an angry movement toward the landlord.
"Wait," said Sabatier. "He is probably a liar. We shall see."
The men searched the house, some watching the doors lest the aristocrats
should make a dash for freedom. Certainly there was a guest here still,
but he made no effort to escape. At the top of the stairs was a
"The key," Sabatier demanded.
"I will fetch it," was the timid answer.
The locked door was suspicious. Two men ran hastily to watch the window
and prevent escape that way. And why delay for the key? Not a very
strong lock this, a blow from a man's heel could break it, did break it,
and the door crashed open, splitting itself from one of its hinges.
On the bed lay a man, half-dressed, his eyes wide open, fixed upon the
ceiling, his head bound with a cloth, blood-stained. Very sunken was the
head in the pillows, very thin looked the form stretched under the
coarse blanket. Sabatier touched him and then looked swiftly round the
room. A coat was thrown across a chair. He took this up, and there was a
cut in the lining of it, high up near the collar.
"Who did this?" he asked.
The landlord did not know.
"Who did it, I say!" and he struck him in the face with the back of his
hand, a heavy enough blow to send the old man to the wall.
"I do not know, sir, it's true I do not know," whined the landlord.
"They brought him here half dead; had found him on the road, they said.
He seemed to get better when one of them bound him up. When they came to
look at him after you had gone he was dead. I left them alone with him,
and in a few minutes they called me and said they must leave for Paris
Sabatier flung the coat aside with an oath.
"This is Citizen Latour's business," he said to his companions.
"And he's been helping aristocrats," said one man, pointing to the
landlord still leaning by the wall.
"What else?" said Sabatier, shortly, as he strode out of the room and
down the stairs.
A cry followed him, but he did not stop.
"Mercy! I know nothing."
A wilder cry, half drowned by savage curses and the sound of blows.
Still Sabatier paid no heed. He went into the room below, knocked the
neck off a wine bottle and poured the contents into a mug and drank,
smacking his lips.
A woman, half dressed, rushed down the stairs and into the street.
"Let her go," Sabatier cried, as a man was starting after her. "Maybe
she's not too old to find another husband."
Laughing, and cursing, the men came tumbling down the stairs, ripe for
deviltry; but for the moment here was wine to be had for the taking,
everything else could wait.
When later they left, a woman came rushing toward them.
"Let me in! Let me in!" she cried. "He's not dead."
"Out of it," said one, pushing her roughly aside so that she stumbled
and fell upon the road. "He's dead, or will be soon enough. Our work is
thorough, and this might be a chateau instead of a wine shop by the way
we've treated it. You watch a while. You'll understand," and he laughed
as he closed the door.
The poor soul may have understood his meaning, or she may not, as she
rocked herself to and fro in the roadway. The ribald songs of these
patriots, these apostles of freedom, had not died as they marched and
danced out of Tremont when there was a smell of burning in the air, and
first smoke, then flame burst from the tavern, quickly reducing it to a
heap of ashes. It was a strange grave for the charred remains of two men
who yesterday had been full of life. This was a time when things moved
apace and there was no prophesying from day to day.
Long since out of range of the smoke cloud rising in the morning sky,
Richard Barrington and Seth urged their horses along the road.
"Is this a wise journey?" Seth asked suddenly.
"I cannot tell."
"Paris might be safer."
"I promised to carry a message to a woman," Barrington answered. "The
man is dead; there remains my oath. Somewhere before us lies the Chateau
of Beauvais, and that is the way we go."
There are few fairer spots in this world than Beauvais. He who has
dreamed of an earthly paradise and sought it out, might well rest here
contented, satisfied. It lies at the top of a long, ascending valley
which twists its way upward from the Swiss frontier into the hills, a
rough and weary road to travel, yet with a new vista of beauty at every
turn. Here are wooded slopes where a dryad might have her dwelling;
yonder some ragged giant towers toward heaven, his scarred rocky
shoulders capped with snow. Below, deep down from the road cut in the
hillside, undulate green pastures, the cattle so small at this distance
that they might be toys set there after a child's fancy; while a torrent
leaping joyously from ledge to ledge might be a babbling brook but for
the sound of its full music which comes upward on the still air, telling
of impetuous force and power. Here eternity seems to have an habitation,
and time to be a thing of naught. The changing seasons may come and go,
storm and tempest may spend their rage, and summer heat and winter frost
work their will, yet that rocky height shall still climb into cloudland,
and those green pastures shall flourish. Centuries ago, eyes long
blinded by the dust of death looked upon this fair scene and understood
something of its everlasting nature; centuries hence, other eyes shall
behold its beauty and still dream of a distant future. We are but
children of a day, brilliant ephemera flashing in a noontide sun; these
silent, watching hills have known generations of others like us, as
brilliant and as short-lived; shall know generations more, unborn as
yet, unthought of.
At the head of this valley, rising suddenly from a stretch of level
land, is a long hill lying like a wedge, its thin edge resting on the
plain. The sides, as they get higher, become more precipitous, but from
the thin edge there ascends a road about which houses cluster, irregular
and pointed roofs rising one above the other in strange confusion until
they are crowned at the summit by the chateau standing like their
protector to face and defy the world. To the right, dominating the whole
of this region, is the great double peak, snow-clad and often
cloud-bound, which seems to stand sentinel for the surrounding mountains
as the castle does to the valley; God's work and the work of man. He who
first built his castle there knew well that in might lay right, and
chose his place accordingly. Now houses stretch down to the level of the
plain, but it was not always so. Halfway through the village the road
passes through a gateway of solid stone, flanked by towers pierced for
defense, and the wall through which this gate gives entrance remains,
broken in places, lichen-covered, yet still eloquent of its former
strength and purpose. Within the gate the village widens into an open
square rising toward the chateau, and this square is surrounded by old
houses picturesque and with histories. Many a time Beauvais has stood
siege, its lord holding it against some neighbor stirred by pride or
love tragedy to deadly feud. In these ancient houses his retainers
lived, his only so long as he was strong enough to make himself feared,
fierce men gathered from all points of the compass, soldiers of fortune
holding their own lives and the lives of others cheaply. From such men,
brilliant in arms, have sprung descendants who have made their mark in a
politer epoch, men and women who have become courtiers, companions of
kings, leaders of men, pioneers of learning. Carved into these ancient
houses in Beauvais are crests and mottoes which are the pride of these
descendants now scattered over Europe. Such is the village of Beauvais,
asleep for many years, the home of peasants chiefly, mountaineers and
tenders of cattle, still with the fighting spirit in them, but dormant,
lacking the necessity. A fair place, but to the exile, only through a
veil does the fairest land reveal its beauty. Its sunlit hills, its
green pastures, the silver sheen of its streams, the blue of its sky, he
will see through a mist of regret, through tears perchance. No beauty
can do away with the fact that it is only a land of exile, to be endured
and made the best of for a while, never to be really loved. There is
coming an hour in which he may return home, and he is forever looking
forward, counting the days. The present must be lived, but reality lies
in the future.
The Marquise de Rovere, brilliant, witty, proud as any woman in France,
daughter of ancestors famous during the time of the fourteenth and
fifteenth Louis, had in the long past a forbear who was lord of this
chateau of Beauvais. Since then there had been other lords with whom she
had nothing to do, but her grandfather having grown rich,
unscrupulously, it was said, bought Beauvais, restored it, added to it
and tried to forget that it had ever passed out of the hands of his
ancestors. In due time his granddaughter inherited it, and after that
terrible day at Versailles when the mob had stormed the palace, when
many of the nobility foresaw disaster and made haste to flee from it
into voluntary exile, what better place could the Marquise choose than
this chateau of Beauvais? Hither she had come with her niece Jeanne St.
Clair, and others had followed. In Paris the Marquise had been the
center of a brilliant coterie, she would still be a center in Beauvais
and the chateau should be open to every emigre of distinction.
So it came to pass that sleepy Beauvais had suddenly stretched itself
and aroused from slumber. The Marquise was rich, her niece a wealthy
heiress, much of both their fortunes not dependent upon French finance,
and a golden harvest fell upon the simple mountaineers and cattle
tenders. Every available room was at the disposal of master or lackey,
and the sleepy square was alive with men and women who had intrigued and
danced at Versailles, who had played pastoral games with Marie
Antoinette at the Trianon, whose names were famous. Idlers were many in
Beauvais, exiles awaiting the hour for return, for revenge upon the
rabble, yet doing nothing to forward the hour; but there were many
others, men who came and went full of news and endeavor. Beauvais was a
meeting place. There one might hear the latest rumors from Paris, learn
what help might be expected from Austria, from Prussia; and while news
was gathered and given there was brilliant entertainment at the chateau.
"We may make even exile bearable," the Marquise had said, and she did
her utmost to do so.
It was into this wideawake village of Beauvais that Richard Barrington
and Seth, weary and travel-stained, rode late one afternoon, and came to
a halt before the inn. They passed almost unnoticed, for strangers were
a common sight, often quaintly disguised to escape their enemies.
There was no room in the inn, nor did the good landlady, who still
seemed flurried with so much business to attend to, know where they
would get a lodging.
"Every house is a hotel these days, and I think every house is full,"
she said. "All the world has come to Beauvais for the masked ball at the
"There are still holes to be found," said a man lounging by the door.
"My friend and I were in the same predicament, but we have found a
corner. I believe there is room of sorts still to be had in the house,
and if Monsieur permits, I shall have pleasure in taking him there."
"You are very good," said Barrington.
The stranger led the way across the square to an old house set back
between its neighbors, as though it were modest and shrinking from
observation, or desirous of keeping a secret. Its door was narrow and
down a step from the roadway; its windows small, like half-closed eyes.
"Monsieur must expect little and even then get less than he expects, and
pay dearly for it; but it is such a hole as this or a night in the
"I am weary enough not to mind much where I sleep," said Barrington.
"Add it all to the account which the _canaille_ must some day pay,"
answered the man.
A stuffy little loft of a room, adjoining another loft occupied by their
guide and his friend, was all the space available, but it was better
than nothing, and Barrington quickly came to terms with the owner of the
Monsieur le Comte, for so the proprietor addressed the man who had
guided them to the house, departed, hoping for their further
acquaintance presently, and offering them any help which it might be in
his power to afford.
"We find ourselves in a strange place, Master Richard," said Seth,
surveying the room.
"We may come to stranger ones before we see Virginia again," was the
"Ay, that's true; and there's not a certainty that we shall ever see
Virginia again," said Seth. "I took the precaution to say farewell to
all the old corners of Broadmead before I left."
"It's a fool's game to step too far into the future. A wise man never
buys his own coffin," laughed Barrington. "We are in luck."
"I'm glad you think so, Master Richard. I see plenty of danger, but
little luck. It was to help the people we came, and here we are at
Beauvais to serve an aristocrat. Our friends the people are not likely
to forgive us easily."
"There is a woman to help, Seth."
"I wonder how many excellent schemes a woman has brought to nothing."
"And that is why I say we are in luck," said Barrington, taking no
notice of the comment. "How are we to get audience with this woman? The
question has puzzled me upon the journey. We are met with the news that
there is to be a masked ball at the chateau. Could we have arrived at a
more opportune time?"
"You will go to the chateau?"
"Of course. I shall find some excuse and get a disguise that best fits
it. Every one in Beauvais must be able to give me some description by
which I may know Mademoiselle St. Clair. The rest will be easy."
"This faith of youth is very wonderful," said Seth.
"Not more remarkable than your forebodings," Barrington returned. "You
have not always been so quick to talk of danger."
"Maybe it's the different air. I prefer the breeze that comes off
Chesapeake Bay to that of these hills, and there's a devil of depression
in this cockloft, it seems to me."
"Come out of it, then. Hunger and thirst are at the bottom of your
croaking. We will go eat and drink and gather news."
"And at this ball, Master Richard, see that you think more of the
readiness of your arms than your grace in a dance."
Barrington laughed as he descended the narrow stairs, but he was not
heedless of his companion's warnings. He was fully alive to the danger
he was in, and if the truth must be told, was not particularly pleased
to find himself in Beauvais. He would far rather have been in Paris. The
romantic element in this unexpected adventure did not greatly appeal to
him. He had crossed the ocean to help an oppressed people; he was full
of enthusiasm for a cause, so much an enthusiast that the two braggart
representatives of the people with whom he had come in contact at
Tremont had in no way disillusioned him. Refuse must needs be cast on
the wave crests of a revolution; but there was also Lafayette. He was
the people's true representative, and Barrington longed to be at his
side to help him. He had promised to deliver a message, believing that
he was undertaking a comparatively small matter, and just when he
learned that a journey into Switzerland was involved, interruption had
come and the man had lost consciousness. Barrington had fully intended
to explain to the wounded man that such a journey was impossible. After
Sabatier and his companion had left the inn, he had gone upstairs for
this purpose, only to find the man dead. He had made a promise to a
dying man, and at all hazards that promise must be fulfilled. The sooner
it was done, the sooner he could journey to Paris; and their arrival in
Beauvais at the time of this masked ball was fortunate: there need be
A little later Monsieur le Comte found them.
"We must needs celebrate your escape," he said. "This is my friend, like
myself an exile from Paris. You are also from Paris?"
"From outside Paris," Barrington answered. For the nonce he must pose as
an aristocrat, and wondered by what name he might best deceive them.
Seth, too, was a grave difficulty. He could show few marks of an
The Frenchman's next words saved him all trouble, however.
"We do not ask too many questions in Beauvais, Monsieur. That we are
here proves that we do not uphold the people, and we need not too
closely inquire who our neighbor may be. We shall not all wish to
maintain the friendships made in exile when we return to France. Here's
to your safe arrival, Monsieur, and to our speedy return. The sentiment
is of the best vintage, though the wine may be inferior. I warrant the
cellars of the chateau will do better for us to-morrow night. You go to
the ball, Monsieur?"
"I am ill-provided for such an entertainment."
"As are many others," was the laughing answer, "since they were obliged
to leave so hurriedly that there was short time for packing. That need
not deter you, Monsieur, and if you have no opportunity of apprising the
Marquise of your arrival, I believe there are some so poor in their
exile that they would sell their invitation. We do things in Beauvais
that would shame us elsewhere."
"I must confess to not being personally acquainted with the Marquise,"
"Say no more, Monsieur; you shall have an invitation in the morning. A
few louis will purchase it."
"You overwhelm me with courtesy," said Barrington.
"No, no; it is nothing. To-morrow evening I may have the opportunity of
presenting you to the Marquise."
"And to her niece?"
"Mademoiselle St. Clair? That is as Monsieur wills," he laughed.
"I do not understand your merriment."
"Pardon, Monsieur, but there are not many who crave presentation to
Mademoiselle. You have not heard of her?"
"Nothing but her name."
"Think, Monsieur, of a large woman with black hair and complexion more
swart than beautiful, with large hands that could clasp mine and hide
them, and feet flat and heavy; a figure that is no figure, all its lines
pressed from within out of place and which shakes as she walks; a voice
whose whisper is raucous. Then, Monsieur, conceive this woman unaware of
her defects, who simpers and attempts to use her dull eyes in
fascination. That is Mademoiselle St. Clair."
"Surely you exaggerate?"
"No, it is a fair picture," said the friend, "and yet she has admirers.
Her fortune is as large as her person."
Barrington laughed. There could be small romance in the love story which
fate had called him to assist, and certainly he would have small
difficulty in finding Mademoiselle St. Clair.
"I will not trespass on your courtesy for an introduction to her,
Monsieur," he said, "and since the wine is finished, you will pardon us
if we retire. We have traveled far and are weary."
Monsieur le Comte looked at his companion when they had gone, and
"A new experience for Beauvais," he said; "a man who has not the honor
of knowing Madame la Marquise and has not heard of the charms of
Mademoiselle her niece."
"The picture you drew was a little too repulsive, I think."
"She will be masked," was the laughing answer. "He must have his
invitation as promised. It will cost a few louis, and we are none too
rich. We are dealers in this matter, and must have some profit for our
"Monsieur le Comte, you are a genius," laughed his companion.
An hour later, Monsieur le Comte knocked softly at the door of
There was no answer.
He knocked louder.
"Monsieur, I have the invitation."
Still there was no answer.
"Parbleu, they sleep like the dead," he murmured, and went back to his
Seth lay like a log--in deep, dreamless sleep. It would take far more
than a mere knocking at the door to wake him. Barrington, deaf to the
knocking, deeply asleep too, was restless, turning and tossing with
dreams--nightmares. He was falling over one of the precipices which they
had passed on their way to Beauvais. He was imprisoned, almost
suffocated, in a little room; the walls seemed to gradually close in
upon him and then suddenly to open; he was ill, surely, for men were
about him, looking into his face and muttering together. Again, he was
in a crowd, a dancing, noisy crowd, searching for a great woman who
shook as she walked. It was madness to seek her here, they were all
pigmies, and he turned away; another moment they were all big, all the
women had raven hair, large hands and feet; he would never be able to
find the woman he sought. Then this scene faded and there came others,
some horrible, all fantastic; and always there came, sooner or later, a
woman, ugly, repulsive, masterful. She fascinated him. He was conscious
of struggling to free himself. He could not. Something, some
irresistible power, forced him to speak to her, to love her, to love
while he tried to hate, and her great dull eyes looked at him, rewarding
him. He knew her, forever hereafter must be possessed by her. This
horrible woman, this Jeanne St. Clair, was his fate. Nightmare was his
long after the day had broken and men and women were abroad in Beauvais.
MADEMOISELLE ST. CLAIR
Sharp hammering at the door, long continued, finally brought an end to
Barrington's nightmare hours and Seth's deep slumbers. The sun was
streaming in through the little window, revealing the dust and the
dilapidation of this lodging. Seth went to the door.
"Ma foi, I thought you had started on your last long journey," said the
proprietor of the house. "My knuckles are sore with knocking. Monsieur
le Comte bid me give you this card. You would understand and pay, he
"Six louis. It was arranged, he said, and I gave him the money before he
went this morning."
"He has gone?" called Barrington from his bed.
"Madame la Marquise heard of his arrival, Monsieur, and sent to fetch
him to lodgings in the castle. You will doubtless meet him in Beauvais
during the day."
"Six louis for this card?" questioned Seth. "It is a long price."
"If you were not a stranger in Beauvais you would know that it was very
cheap," answered the proprietor.
"Pay it," said Barrington.
Seth did so with a grumble, and wondered how much the proprietor was
making out of the deal.
"We have fallen among thieves, Master Richard," he said as he shut the
door. "I shouldn't wonder if any one could slip into this ball without
payment of any sort. We've made a long night of it."
"Weariness and wine," answered Barrington. "The wine was strong, or this
mountain air added to the potency of its effects upon us."
"Maybe. I never slept so soundly since I was a youngster."
"And I never had such horrible dreams," said Barrington.
"I've been thinking, Master Richard, that there may be worse than
thieves in Beauvais," said Seth, after a pause. "We're rather like men
at sea without the knowledge of how to handle ropes and set sail--an
extra puff of wind, and we risk being overturned. There's something to
learn about the methods of these Frenchmen, especially when every man
sees a possible enemy in his neighbor. The gentlemen at Tremont did not
much please me, nor was I greatly taken with Monsieur le Comte."
"We shall have plenty of time to learn their methods, Seth."
"But in the meanwhile the puff of wind may come, Master Richard. I don't
like this masked ball."
"You may trust me to be careful."
"Your idea of precaution and mine may differ a little," Seth answered.
"You don't see danger so far ahead as I do."
"That may be in my favor," laughed Richard. "Be at ease, Seth; I shall
do nothing rash. Neither our blatant friend Sabatier, nor our courteous
acquaintance of last night, shall catch me sleeping. I do not trust men
very easily, nor women either, for that matter."
"Ay, Master Richard, it's a weight off my mind to know that this
Mademoiselle St. Clair has so little attraction about her. I've been
young myself and know the power of women. You've not been through that
"A strange thing at my age, Seth. I have thought that no woman is likely
to plague me much."
"Get well into your grave before you think that," was the answer. "I'm
no hater of women, far from it, and I know a man's never safe. Why, a
chit of twenty may make a fool of a veteran, and set his tired old heart
trying to beat like that of a lad just out of his school days. Only last
year there was a girl in Virginia sent me panting along this road of
folly, and I'm not sure it wasn't Providence which sent me with you to
Beauvais presented a lively scene that day, but it was in vain that
Barrington kept a sharp lookout for Monsieur le Comte and his friend.
Many people came and went from the chateau, but they were not among
them. Barrington did not particularly want to meet them, but he realized
that circumstances might arise which would make them useful, and he
would have liked to find out what position they held among the other
exiles in Beauvais. A prominent one, surely, since the Marquise had
fetched them to lodgings in the chateau, and therefore it was possible
that Barrington's arrival had puzzled them. They might reasonably doubt
whether he had any right to pose as an aristocrat and an exile,
suspicion would certainly follow, and sharp eyes might be upon him at
the ball to-night. Even as a go-between in a love affair there might be
some danger for him, but was his mission only that?
When he left his lodgings that evening he had disguised himself as much
as possible. He wore a cloak which his acquaintances of last night had
not seen, he had procured a mask which hid as much of his face as
possible. He went armed, and fastened in the lining of his coat was the
little gold star he had taken from the dead man's coat. He fingered it
through the cloth to make sure that it was safe as he crossed the,
square and went toward the chateau. Seth may have been right, and the
six louis thrown away, for no one took any notice of Barrington as he
passed into the castle. Although he gave up his card of invitation, he
was convinced that with a little diplomacy and a bold front he could
have got in without one.
Exteriorly the castle retained much of its mediaeval appearance, and
within the new had been cleverly and lovingly grafted onto the old.
There were still dungeons enclosed in these massive walls, chambers
wherein misery and pain had cried aloud to no effect. There were narrow
passages down which tortured men must once have been carried, or at the
end of which some oubliette opened to sudden destruction. Many horrible
things must be in the knowledge of this massive masonry. The great hall,
where men at arms, after a foray or raid upon some neighboring
stronghold, must have caroused times without number, making the roof
ring with their rude rejoicing, was alive to-night with men and women,
exiles forgetting their exile for a while or exchanging news which might
mean a speedy return to their homeland. All were masked, although it was
apparent that many had no difficulty in recognizing their neighbors
under the disguise, but although there were a few brilliant costumes
and occasional flashes of jewels, the general impression of dress was
sombre and makeshift. How could it be otherwise when the flight from
Paris, or from the provinces, had been so sudden, no preparation
At one side of the hall, the center of a little group, stood a
white-haired woman of commanding presence. Jewels flashed in her dress,
and there was laughter about her. Evidently this was the Marquise de
Rovere, and she was busy welcoming her guests. With some it was more
than a passing word of greeting, there was news to be imparted by one
lately in communication with Austria or Prussia, or perchance with
England; there was the latest news from Paris to be had from one who had
just escaped from his enemies; there was news, too, of friends who had
not been so fortunate, or who had willingly stayed to face the storm;
there were rumors which had been gathered from all sources to be
whispered. This chateau of Beauvais was a meeting place, a center for
much scheming; and for a while the hours must be made to pass as
pleasantly as possible.
These men and women were different from those he had come in contact
with, of a different world altogether; yet his youth responded to the
music and verve of it all. Because it was different, new and unfamiliar
to him, that was no proof that what he had known was right, and this was
wrong. His blood was pulsating, the atmosphere was exhilarating.
Pleasure flung him her gauge, why should he not pick it up? A woman was
beside him, dark eyes flashing through her mask, red lips wreathed into
a smile. The next moment reserve had broken down and he was dancing with
her, acquitting himself with sufficient grace to pass muster, and
almost as ready with his compliment as she was to receive it.
"We shall dance again, monsieur," she said presently, when another
partner carried her away.
"Until then I shall count the moments," Barrington answered, and it was
perhaps this suggestion of the future which brought to his mind the real
reason for his presence there.
A large woman, with raven hair, and of such a figure that it shook when
she walked; among the dancers there were many who might pass for large
women, the hair of one or two might be considered raven, but there was
not one who completed the full description he had had of Mademoiselle
St. Clair. Certainly she was not among those who stood near the
Marquise, and Barrington went from vantage point to vantage point in
search of her. Neither could he discover Monsieur le Comte or his
friend. Lodged in the chateau, they had possibly obtained richer
garments, and would be difficult to identify. The fulfillment of his
mission was not to be so easy as he had imagined.
He had been watching from a corner near the entrance to the ballroom,
partially concealed by a little knot of people who were standing before
him. He could have overheard their conversation, but he was not
listening. He was wondering how he could find mademoiselle. There was
surely some other apartment where guests were, for his eyes were keen,
and he had certainly not seen her yet.
"Monsieur does not dance?"
Barrington turned quickly. The little crowd which had stood in front of
him had gone, and near him was a woman. It was difficult to know whether
her words were a statement of fact, question or invitation.
"I have danced, mademoiselle."
"And are now waiting for some one?"
"No. If mademoiselle will honor me I--"
"I also have danced many times, monsieur, and am inclined to rest a
Barrington looked at her, and a pair of violet eyes met his glance
through her mask, deep, almost unfathomable eyes, difficult to read and
filled with the light that lures men on to strange and wonderful things.
Her auburn hair had brown and darker shadows in it, the color one may
see in a distant wood in late autumn when the sun touches it; her
transparent skin was delicately tinted, such a tint as may be seen in
rare china. Her small, well-shaped mouth seemed made for smiles, yet
there was a line of firmness in it suggestive of determination. There
was a cadence in her voice, a musical rise and fall which held an
appeal. The lines of her figure were graceful, there was youth and vigor
in every movement, and without being above the medium height, the pose
of her head on her shapely shoulders gave her a certain air of
stateliness, natural and becoming to her it seemed. She was a woman
designed for happiness and laughter, Barrington thought, and he felt she
was not happy. He wondered if there were not tears in those violet eyes,
and he had a sudden longing to behold her without a mask. It would have
been easy for her to make him again forget his mission, and why he was
in the chateau of Beauvais. Youth recognized youth, and that indefinite
longing which is a part of youth seemed to enfold them for an instant.
Perhaps the woman felt it as much as he did, for she broke the silence
"I have noticed that monsieur has not entered much into the gayety."
Barrington was on his guard in a moment. He could not afford to be
questioned too closely.
"I am greatly honored by mademoiselle's notice."
"That is nothing," she returned as though the implied compliment
displeased her. "It seemed to me you were a stranger in Beauvais, and
strangers here may have sad memories behind them."
"They do their best to forget, mademoiselle," he answered. The laughter
of a woman as she passed, dancing, gave point to the assertion. "It is
wonderful. I cannot understand it."
"Better laugh and live than die weeping," she said. "Those who live
shall live to repay."
"And perchance some good shall come out of the evil."
She looked at him quickly.
"In Beauvais it is somewhat dangerous to be a philosopher, monsieur. We
cling to one idea which by brutal force has been driven into our
souls--revenge. It is not safe to preach anything short of that, we have
suffered too much."
"There was not such a deep meaning in my words," he said.
"Still, the warning may not be out of place," and she turned to leave
"Before I go, mademoiselle, you may help me. Can you tell me where I
shall find Mademoiselle St. Clair?"
[Illustration: "Can you tell me where I shall find Mademoiselle St.
"You know her?"
"Only by the description I have had of her."
"I wonder almost it was not sufficient to help you," and a smile played
at the corners of her mouth.
"Indeed, mademoiselle, I marvel at it, too, for I assure you the
description was most complete," laughed Barrington.
"From whom did you have it?"
"Pardon me if I am reticent on that point. It was given in confidence."
"You pique my curiosity."
"But you know her, mademoiselle?"
"Cannot you guess how a man might describe her, with a desire perhaps to
be a little witty at her expense, and inclined to exaggerate?"
"Indeed, I cannot. Have you some message for her which I may deliver?"
"Again pardon, but I must speak to the lady myself."
"So far I can help you. If you will follow me, not too closely lest we
cause comment, I will bring you to her. I am supposing that you wish to
see her alone, that what you have to tell her is a secret."
"It is a secret, mademoiselle."
"Follow me, then. And monsieur will do well to note if any one shows
interest in our movements. We did not leave all intrigue and scandal
It was easy to follow her. She was a woman apart from all the other
women about him, Barrington thought. Although he had only seen her
masked he would know her again, he believed, no matter in how crowded a
world of women he might meet her, no matter how long a time should pass
before such a meeting. Obeying her, he glanced swiftly to right and left
as he went. Eyes certainly turned to look after the woman, once or twice
indeed she stopped to speak a few words to some friend, but Barrington
could not discover that any one took the slightest notice of him.
A few paces separating them they crossed the great hall, and she
leisurely passed into the corridor without. When Barrington stepped
slowly into the corridor, he found that she had quickened her pace, and
at the end of it she had paused a moment that he might see which way she
turned. He followed more quickly, and found her in a small vestibule,
part of the old chateau. A lamp was hanging from the corner of a wall,
and on an oak settle were two or three lanterns with candles in them,
such as a servant carries to guide his master or mistress on a dark
"Will monsieur light one from the lamp," she said hurriedly.
"I am to wait here while you fetch mademoiselle?" he asked. "Truly this
is a secret place for delivering a message."
"Not too secret," she answered. "I am Mademoiselle St. Clair."
The exclamation was a whispered one. A confusion of thoughts was in his
brain. Already almost unconsciously he had laid the foundations of a
dream fabric, and these were destroyed suddenly, burying him for a
moment in the collapse.
"May I see monsieur unmasked?" she said.
Mechanically he removed the mask, and she looked into his face
earnestly. She gave no sign whether she expected to recognize him, but
it would seem that his face satisfied her, for she undid her mask and
stood before him. She was a woman, and beauty must ever be the keenest
weapon in woman's armory; there was a little glad triumph in her heart
as she realized that this man bowed before her beauty. Barrington was
startled that a mask could hide so much.
"Monsieur has been somewhat misled, it would seem, by his friend who
was witty at my expense and inclined to exaggerate."
"I have been deceived, and I shall punish him for the lie," Barrington
"I am at a loss to understand the deceit," she answered. "You have a
message for me. I may find some explanation in it."
"Upon the roadside as I--" Barrington began, and then stopped.
"Mademoiselle, forgive me, but such deceit makes a man suspicious. I was
told to seek Mademoiselle St. Clair in a fat, ugly, simpering woman, and
I find her in--in you. How can I be certain that you are Mademoiselle
"I see your difficulty. Your doubt does not anger me. Let me think. Will
it help you if I speak the name Lucien?"
"It seems convincing. Heaven grant, mademoiselle, that you are as
honorable as you are beautiful. I must needs believe so and trust you.
To you I can prove that I am an honest messenger," and Barrington tore
from the lining of his coat a tiny packet of tissue paper. "I have to
give you this little golden star, your gift to Lucien."
She took the packet with quick, trembling fingers, turned to the table,
and by the light of the lantern unfolded the paper. With a little clink
the star fell upon the table.
"This? This?" she said, starting back and pointing at it.
Barrington made a step forward at her sudden question, and then stood
still, staring at the token.
It was no star of gold which lay in the circle of the lantern light, but
a common thing of iron, roughly made, rusted and worthless.
THE WOOD END
Richard Barrington knew that he had fallen into some trap, the exact
nature of it and the danger he could not know. After a pause, a long
pause it seemed to Jeanne St. Clair, long enough for a villain to
fashion a lying tale, he turned to her.
"It seems, mademoiselle, that I have been robbed as well as deceived."
"In spite of that," she said, pointing to the iron token, "I am inclined
to listen to the message."
"Mademoiselle, I regret that I ever undertook to carry it. I had other
business in hand, but an oath to a dead man was binding."
"A dead man? Lucien?"
"I know nothing of Lucien. For all I know he may already be making merry
at my discomfiture. The dead man was one Rouzet, or so he told me, and
he called himself your servant."
"He was Lucien's servant, a faithful one," she answered.
"At least he was faithful in some one's service since he died in it, and
I can honor him for that even though he deceived me."
"You have told me so much you must tell me more," she said, a persuasive
tone in her voice.
She must hear the story. Whether this man were honest or not she must
make him speak. Whatever plot was on foot she must know it. To some one
surely Lucien had given the gold star. Much must depend on her receiving
the message he had sent with it.
"You must tell me," she repeated.
"And knowing far more than I do you may laugh at me for a simple
gentleman easily fooled. Still, he is something of a hero who can stand
being laughed at. Many years ago I had that from a countryman of yours,
the Marquis de Lafayette. I was on my way to visit him in Paris, when
this mission was thrust upon me."
Concisely but in every detail Barrington told her what had happened at
Tremont, and explained how he had become acquainted with Monsieur le
Comte at Beauvais. He made no attempt to conceal the fact that he had
come to France to place himself at the disposal of Monsieur de
Lafayette. If there were any risk in telling this woman so, he was
rather relieved to have real danger to face instead of lying and
intrigue; the one he might meet successfully, but he was no adept in
battling with the other.
"You took the star from Rouzet's coat after he was dead you say, are you
sure it was a gold star you took?"
"I made certain by looking at it."
"And you can thoroughly trust your servant?"
"As myself, mademoiselle."
"You have not told me your name," she said.
"Richard Barrington," he answered, and then he laughed a little. "Why I
trust you, I do not know. I may be putting it into your power to do me a
great deal of harm."
"If I have the power, I shall not use it," she answered.
There was a moment coming when she would have to decide whether these
words constituted a promise given without reservation, or whether the
promise were contingent on his being honest, as now she believed him to
"For that I thank you," he returned.
"And you have my thanks for coming to Beauvais. That you have been
robbed only makes it clearer how bitter Lucien's enemies are. Have you
any plan, Monsieur Barrington, by which I could reach Paris in safety?"
The question set his thoughts rushing into a new channel. He felt
suddenly responsible for her, knew that to prevent her going even into
the shadow of harm he was prepared to face any danger. It was not her
beauty which influenced him, a moment ago he had been ready to despise
it if she were a deceitful woman; something more subtle than her beauty
appealed to him, herself, the revelation of herself which was in her
"It is impossible for you to go to Paris, mademoiselle. The crowd of
refugees in this chateau is proof enough that the danger is too great.
How any man, no matter what his need may be, could ask you to put
yourself in such jeopardy, I cannot understand."
"Yet you undertook to bring the message to Beauvais. Was it in your mind
to advise that no notice should be taken of it?"
"Indeed, mademoiselle, I thought of little beyond fulfilling the oath I
had taken, and to go my way again as quickly as possible."
"The answer to the message must rest with me, Monsieur Barrington," she
said, quietly. "It was not by my own will that I left Paris. I am not
afraid to return. Will you help me?"
"Please, Monsieur Barrington. It means life or death, perchance, to the
man I love."
"Curse him for asking you to face such a danger."
"Hush, you cannot understand," she said, putting her hand upon his arm.
"I know Lucien. From Beauvais you will journey to Paris. Will you let me
go with you?"
"No. I will not help you to your destruction. I will carry whatever
message you will to this man, but I will not do more."
"Then take this message: Jeanne St. Clair is on her way to Paris; she
asked my escort, but since I would not give it she has found another.
Tell him that, Monsieur Barrington."
"Have you no fear, mademoiselle?"
"Very well, I will try and see you safely into Paris. You will go most
easily as a woman of the people, one who has some aristocrat enemy on
whom she wishes to be avenged. Do you think you can play such a part?"
"I will do as you bid me."
"Hide your hair, mademoiselle; wear some hideous cloak which may do
something to spoil your beauty. If you will go, I may be a safer escort
than any other. I claim friendship with Monsieur de Lafayette, so I am
for the people. Even if we cause suspicion they will hardly prevent our
going to Paris. Your return----"
"We need not arrange for that now, monsieur. When will you start?"
"As soon as possible."
"To-morrow at dawn," she answered. "At the foot of the road leading up
to Beauvais, you will see to your left a wood which ends abruptly as it
approaches the valley down which we must go to the frontier. I have
papers that shall help me to pass. I have always known that I should
have to return to Paris. Amongst the trees at the end of the wood I will
come to you to-morrow--at dawn."
"I and my servant will await you there, mademoiselle. At least two men
shall do their utmost to protect you."
He picked up her mask which had fallen to the floor.
"Will you fasten it for me?" she said.
It was rather clumsily done. His fingers trembled a little as they
touched her hair. He was very close to her; her personality, the faint
perfume about her, took fast hold of him. What manner of man could this
Lucien be who had won the love of such a woman as this?
He put on his own mask, and then taking up the lantern followed her back
along the narrow stone passage. As she came to the corridor she stopped.
"Let me go alone," she said. "To-night we will not meet again. To-morrow
Barrington did not return to the ballroom, but after lingering in the
great hall for a few minutes with a view of deceiving any one who might
be watching his movements, he left the chateau. So far he had fulfilled
his oath, but he had discharged it only to accept a much greater
responsibility. To-morrow he would be riding towards Paris, the cavalier
of a beautiful aristocrat. The position must be full of danger for him;
truly it was thrust upon him against his will, yet there was an
elasticity in his step as he went back to his lodgings which suggested
compensations in the position. By a strange chain of circumstances,
Jeanne St. Clair had come into his life; there was something added to
the mere fact of living, whether of joy or pain he could not determine,
but he was very sure that his outlook upon life could never be quite the
same again. For good or ill this woman must influence him to some
extent, she could never pass out of his life again, leaving him as he
was before. There was a fresh wind blowing across the square of
Beauvais, yet it was powerless to disperse the subtle perfume which
lingered about him, which was an enfolding atmosphere, which must remain
with him always. He told his tale to Seth in a short, direct manner,
emphasizing no single point in it. The star had been stolen, when or how
he did not attempt to guess. Monsieur le Comte had grossly deceived
them, his purpose time would show. The woman was as far removed from his
description as pole is from pole. He had delivered his message, but
circumstances decreed that they could not return alone.
Seth listened to his young master, and made no comment until the tale
"She is a beautiful woman, then."
"Yes, I think that would be the world's opinion. It is not her beauty
which has influenced me."
"Still, the future might have had less difficulty in it if a man had
quarrelled with you to-night instead of a woman pleaded," Seth answered.
"True enough, but one cannot choose the difficulties he will face. We
must take them as they come, and console ourselves with the reflection
that there is a good purpose somewhere behind them."
"For all that, Master Richard, there are some who overburden themselves
with difficulties which do not concern them. It will be pleasant
traveling with a pretty woman, but I fancy trouble is likely to ride in
our company, too. They mostly go together, women and trouble; and the
prettier the women are, the greater the trouble, that's my experience.
There's just one question in my mind: on which side are we ranged--with
the people or with the aristocrats?"
"With the people. Once this woman is in Paris, I----"
Seth looked at him, waiting for the completion of the sentence. It