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The King's Esquires The Jewel of France   By: (1831-1909)

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The King's Esquires; or, The Jewel of France, by George Manville Fenn.

This excellent book is, as always with this author, a constant succession of tense moments.

Dated at the beginning of the 1500s, the action starts in the Court of the King of France. He is fretting because at some time in the past, when the English ruled part of France, one of the French Crown Jewels, a beautiful ruby, was taken from France and put among the English Crown Jewels. So Francis, the King, decides on going to England on a visit to the English King, the young Henry the Eighth, finding out where the jewel is, purloining it before leaving, and restoring it to its place among his own Crown Jewels. This all goes pretty well, except that King Henry notices that the jewel is missing, and a chase is made after them.

They are all brought back, but no jewel is to be found. So eventually they return to France, where to the amazement of all it turns out that they were successful in their mission, and they really did manage to bring back the famous ruby.





His Most Christian Majesty King Francis the First had a great preference for his Palace of Fontainebleau among the many places of residence from which he could choose, and it is interesting to glance into that magnificent palace on a certain afternoon in the year 151 . In a special apartment, from which direct access could be obtained to the guard chamber, where a detachment of the favourite musketeers of the King of France was on duty, and which also communicated with the monarch's private apartments, a youth, nearly a man but not quite was impatiently striding up and down. He stopped every now and then to glance out of the low window, from which a view could be obtained over the great Forest of Fontainebleau, where Philip Augustus in the old days, centuries before, loved to go hunting. It seemed as though to the young man there was a chafing disquietude in the silence, the inaction, of the afternoon, when the inmates of the palace, like the inhabitants of the tiny little white town, retired to rest for a time in order to be ready for the evening, when life began to be lived once more.

It was a very handsome chamber in which the young man was evidencing a species of disquietude, as of awaiting the coming of somebody, or a summons. As he stopped once in his feverish pacing up and down, a massive clock was heard to strike three. Rich mats lay on the polished floor, and the salon was so lofty that high up it seemed almost grey dusk by contrast with the bars of sunshine which came through the window.

From outside there came the challenging clarion note of a trumpet.

"Changing guard," he muttered, "already!" And then he fell to thinking of other things, for there was beneath the thud of horses' feet, the baying of a dog and a loud shout.

He turned away from the window at last and tapped the dark arras with which the walls were draped.

He was a tall, dark eyed, well made lad, looking handsome enough in his rich velvet doublet, evidently one who spent a large part of his time in the open air, in the chase, or perhaps in sterner work still.

"How much danger?" he murmured, and he went to one side of the room, raising the heavy folds of a curtain which concealed a door, and listening intently a minute, before dropping the drapery and then impatiently springing on to a chair. The chair stood before a long, narrow, slit like window, and from it likewise there was little to be seen but forest, all deep green and silent, and a strip of blue sky. He sprang down again with a sigh, crossed to the other side of the chamber, lifted the curtain again, opened a door, and looked out, before closing the door, dropping the curtain, and resuming his restless walk, as if saying, "What shall I do with myself?" Somehow the answer seemed to come to that question, for he suddenly clapped his hand to its side, drew a long, thin, triangular bladed sword from its sheath, and admiringly and caressingly examined the beautiful chased and engraved open work steel hilt and guard, giving it a rub here and there with his dark velvet sleeve... Continue reading book >>

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