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Bardelys the Magnificent   By: (1875-1950)

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BARDELYS THE MAGNIFICENT

Being an Account of the Strange Wooing pursued by the Sieur Marcel de Saint Pol; Marquis of Bardelys, and of the things that in the course of it befell him in Languedoc, in the year of the Rebellion

By Rafael Sabatini

CONTENTS

I. THE WAGER II. THE KING'S WISHES III. RENT: DE LESPERON IV. A MAID IN THE MOONLIGHT V. THE VICOMTE DE LAVEDAN VI. IN CONVALESCENCE VII. THE HOSTILITY OF SAINT EUSTACHE VIII. THE PORTRAIT IX. A NIGHT ALARM X. THE RISEN DEAD XI. THE KING'S COMMISSIONER XII. THE TRIBUNAL OF TOULOUSE XIII. THE ELEVENTH HOUR XIV. EAVESDROPPING XV. MONSIEUR DE CHATELLERAULT IS ANGRY XVI. SWORDS XVII. THE BABBLING OF GANYMEDE XVIII. SAINT EUSTACHE IS OBSTINATE XIX. THE FLINT AND THE STEEL XX. THE "BRAVI" AT BLAGNAC XXI. LOUIS THE JUST XXII. WE UNSADDLE

BARDELYS THE MAGNIFICENT

CHAPTER I. THE WAGER

"Speak of the Devil," whispered La Fosse in my ear, and, moved by the words and by the significance of his glance, I turned in my chair.

The door had opened, and under the lintel stood the thick set figure of the Comte de Chatellerault. Before him a lacquey in my escutcheoned livery of red and gold was receiving, with back obsequiously bent, his hat and cloak.

A sudden hush fell upon the assembly where a moment ago this very man had been the subject of our talk, and silenced were the wits that but an instant since had been making free with his name and turning the Languedoc courtship from which he was newly returned with the shame of defeat into a subject for heartless mockery and jest. Surprise was in the air for we had heard that Chatellerault was crushed by his ill fortune in the lists of Cupid, and we had not looked to see him joining so soon a board at which or so at least I boasted mirth presided.

And so for a little space the Count stood pausing on my threshold, whilst we craned our necks to contemplate him as though he had been an object for inquisitive inspection. Then a smothered laugh from the brainless La Fosse seemed to break the spell. I frowned. It was a climax of discourtesy whose impression I must at all costs efface.

I leapt to my feet, with a suddenness that sent my chair gliding a full half yard along the glimmering parquet of the floor, and in two strides I had reached the Count and put forth my hand to bid him welcome. He took it with a leisureliness that argued sorrow. He advanced into the full blaze of the candlelight, and fetched a dismal sigh from the depths of his portly bulk.

"You are surprised to see me, Monsieur le Marquis," said he, and his tone seemed to convey an apology for his coming for his very existence almost.

Now Nature had made my Lord of Chatellerault as proud and arrogant as Lucifer some resemblance to which illustrious personage his downtrodden retainers were said to detect in the lineaments of his swarthy face. Environment had added to that store of insolence wherewith Nature had equipped him, and the King's favour in which he was my rival had gone yet further to mould the peacock attributes of his vain soul. So that this wondrous humble tone of his gave me pause; for to me it seemed that not even a courtship gone awry could account for it in such a man.

"I had not thought to find so many here," said he. And his next words contained the cause of his dejected air. "The King, Monsieur de Bardelys, has refused to see me; and when the sun is gone, we lesser bodies of the courtly firmament must needs turn for light and comfort to the moon." And he made me a sweeping bow.

"Meaning that I rule the night?" quoth I, and laughed. "The figure is more playful than exact, for whilst the moon is cold and cheerless, me you shall find ever warm and cordial. I could have wished, Monsieur de Chatellerault, that your gracing my board were due to a circumstance less untoward than His Majesty's displeasure... Continue reading book >>




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