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For The Admiral   By:

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FOR THE ADMIRAL

W.J. MARX

Author of "Scouting for Buller," "The British Legion," etc.

HODDER AND STOUGHTON PUBLISHERS LONDON

Printed in 1906

Butler and Panner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London

TO MY WIFE

BUT FOR WHOSE ENCOURAGEMENT

THIS STORY WOULD NEVER

HAVE BEEN WRITTEN.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I A PERILOUS RIDE

CHAPTER II TRACKED, OR NOT?

CHAPTER III THE FIGHT BY THE WAY

CHAPTER IV HOW WE KEPT THE FORD

CHAPTER V A TRAITOR TO THE KING

CHAPTER VI THE UNKNOWN CAVALIER

CHAPTER VII A COMMISSION FOR THE ADMIRAL

CHAPTER VIII THE TRAGEDY OF JARNAC

CHAPTER IX A GLORIOUS VICTORY

CHAPTER X I REJOIN THE ADVANCE

CHAPTER XI A DESPERATE CONFLICT

CHAPTER XII THE RETURN TO ROCHELLE

CHAPTER XIII A DARING ENTERPRISE

CHAPTER XIV SCOUTING FOR COLIGNY

CHAPTER XV A GLORIOUS TRIUMPH

CHAPTER XVI A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE

CHAPTER XVII THE KING'S PROMISE

CHAPTER XVIII A WARNING FROM L'ESTANG

CHAPTER XIX WHO KILLED THE COURIER?

CHAPTER XX L'ESTANG'S COURIER

CHAPTER XXI I SAVE CORDEL'S LIFE

CHAPTER XXII L'ESTANG TELLS HIS STORY

CHAPTER XXIII A ROYAL MARRIAGE

CHAPTER XXIV A MYSTERIOUS WARNING

CHAPTER XXV A DASTARDLY DEED

CHAPTER XXVI WHAT WILL THE KING DO?

CHAPTER XXVII THE DAY OF THE MASSACRE

CHAPTER XXVIII FAREWELL FRANCE

L'ENVOI

CHAPTER I

A Perilous Ride

"I trust no harm has happened to my father, Jacques. The night grows late and there are strange rumours afloat. 'Tis said that the Guises are eager to break the peace."

"Better open warfare than this state of things, monsieur. The peace is no peace: the king's troops are robbing and slaying as they please. Fran├žois of the mill told me a pretty tale of their doings to day. But listen, I hear the beat of hoofs on the road below."

"There are two horses, Jacques, and they approach very slowly. My father does not usually ride like that."

"No, faith!" said Jacques, with a laugh; "if his horse went at that pace the Sieur Le Blanc would get down and walk! But the travellers are coming here, nevertheless. Shall we go to the gate, monsieur?"

"It may be as well," I answered. "One can never tell these days what mischief is brewing."

By the peasantry for miles around my home was called the Castle of Le Blanc. It stood on the brow of a hill, overlooking a wide plain, and was defended by a dry moat and massive walls. A score of resolute men inside might easily have kept two hundred at bay, and more than once, indeed, the castle had stood a regular siege.

According to Jacques it might have to do so again, for in that year, 1586, of which I write, France was in a terrible state. The nation was divided into two hostile parties those who fiercely resisted any changes being made in the Church, and the Huguenots, those of the Religion and the whole land was given over to brawling and disorder.

My father, who was held in high esteem by the Huguenot party, had fought through three campaigns under Gaspard de Coligny, the Admiral, as men, by virtue of his office, generally called him. Severely wounded in one of the numerous skirmishes, he had returned home to be nursed back to health by my mother. Before he recovered a peace was patched up between the two parties, and he had since remained quietly on his estate.

He it was who, rather to my surprise, now came riding at a foot pace into the courtyard. The stranger accompanying him sat his horse limply, and seemed in some danger of falling from the saddle.

[Illustration: "The stranger accompanying him sat his horse limply."]

"Take the bridle, Jacques," cried my father. "Edmond, let your mother know I am bringing with me a wounded man."

When we had assisted the stranger into one of the chambers I saw that he was of medium height, spare in figure, but tough and sinewy. He had a swarthy complexion, and small, black, twinkling eyes that gave the impression of good humour. His right arm, evidently broken, was carried in a rough, hastily made sling; his doublet was bloodstained, and his forehead had been scored by the slash of a knife... Continue reading book >>




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