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very well, and won’t be long in laying his hands upon

2023-12-01 21:04:21 source:A Spring Dream Netauthor: family click:242Second-rate

All at once the horn was heard at the portcullis. Everybody stopped talking. The blast just blown was the signal used by the Mauprats to summon each other or make themselves known. It was my Uncle Laurence, who had been absent all day and who was now asking to be let in. We had so little confidence in others that we acted as our own turnkeys in the fortress. John rose and took down the keys, but he stopped immediately on hearing a second blast of the horn. This meant that Laurence was bringing in a prize, and that we were to go and meet him. In the twinkling of an eye all the Mauprats were at the portcullis, torch in hand--except myself, whose indifference at this moment was profound, and whose legs were seriously conscious of wine.

very well, and won’t be long in laying his hands upon

"If it is a woman, cried Antony as he went out, "I swear by the soul of my father that she shall be handed over to you, my valiant young man, and we'll see if your courage comes up to your conceit."

very well, and won’t be long in laying his hands upon

I remained with my elbows on the table, sunk in an uncomfortable stupor.

very well, and won’t be long in laying his hands upon

When the door opened again I saw a woman in a strange costume entering with a confident step. It required an effort to keep my mind from wandering, and to grasp what one of the Mauprats came and whispered to me. In the middle of a wolf-hunt, at which several of the nobles in the neighbourhood had been present with their wives, this young lady's horse had taken fright and bolted away from the rest of the field. When it had pulled up after a gallop of about a league, she had tried to find her way back; but, not knowing the Varenne district, where all the landmarks are so much alike, she had gone farther and farther astray. The storm and the advent of night had completed her perplexity. Laurence, happening to meet her, had offered to escort her to the chateau of Rochemaure, which, as a fact, was more than six leagues distant; but he had declared that it was quite near, and had pretended to be the gamekeeper there. She did not actually know the lady of Rochemaure, but being a distant connection of hers, she counted upon a welcome. Never having seen the face of a single Mauprat, and little dreaming that she was so near their haunt, she had followed her guide confidingly; and as she had never in her life caught a glimpse of Roche-Mauprat, whether in the distance or close at hand, she was led upon the scene of our orgies without having the least suspicion of the trap into which she had fallen.

When I rubbed my heavy eyes and beheld this woman, so young and so beautiful, with her expression of calm sincerity and of goodness, the like of which I had never seen on the brow of any other (for all those who had passed the portcullis of our abode were either insolent prostitutes or stupid victims), I could not but think I was dreaming.

Remembering how prominently fairies figured in my legends of chivalry, I almost fancied that Morgana or Urganda had come among us to administer justice; and, for the moment, I felt an inclination to throw myself on my knees and protest against any judgment which should confound me with my uncles. Antony, to whom Laurence had quickly given the cue, approached her with as much politeness as he had in his composition, and begged her to excuse his hunting costume, likewise that of his friends. They were all nephews or cousins of the lady of Rochemaure, whom they were now awaiting before sitting down to table. Being very religious, she was at present in the chapel, in pious conference with the chaplain. The air of simple confidence with which the stranger listened to these absurd lies went to my heart, but I had not a very clear idea of what I felt.

"Please," she said to my Uncle John, who was dancing attendance on her with the leer of a satyr, "please do not let me disturb this lady. I am so troubled about the anxiety I must be causing my father and my friends at the present moment, that I could not really stop here. All I ask is that she will be kind enough to lend me a fresh horse and a guide, so that I may return to the place where I presume my people may have gone to wait for me."

"Madame," replied John, with assurance, "it is impossible for you to start again in such weather as this; besides, if you did, that would only serve to delay the hour of rejoining those who are looking for you. Ten of our men, well mounted and provided with torches, shall set out this very moment in ten different directions and scour every corner of Varenne. Thus, in two hours at the most, your relatives will be certain to have news of you, and you will soon see them arriving here, where we will entertain them as best we can. Please, then, set your mind at rest, and take some cordial to restore you; for you must be wet through and quite exhausted."

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