And that troubled M. la Tribe no little,
although he did not impart his thoughts to his companion.
Instead they talked in whispers of the things which
had happened; of the Admiral, of Teligny, whom all
loved, of Rochefoucauld the accomplished, the King’s
friend; of the princes in the Louvre whom they gave
up for lost, and of the Huguenot nobles on the farther
side of the river, of whose safety there seemed some
he best knew why
nothing of the fate of his betrothed, or of his own
adventures in that connection.
But each told
the other how the alarm had reached him, and painted
in broken words his reluctance to believe in treachery
Thence they passed to the future of
the cause, and of that took views as opposite as light
and darkness, as Papegot and Huguenot.
was confident, the other in despair.
time in the afternoon, worn out by the awful experiences
of the last twelve hours, they fell asleep, their
heads on their arms, the hay tickling their faces;
and, with death stalking the lane beside them, slept
soundly until after sundown.
When they awoke hunger awoke with
them, and urged on La Tribe’s mind the question
of the missing egg.
It was not altogether the
prick of appetite which troubled him, but regarding
the hiding-place in which they lay as an ark of refuge
providentially supplied, protected and victualled,
he could not refrain from asking reverently what the
It was not as if one hen only
had appeared; as if no farther prospect had been extended.
But up to a certain point the message was clear.
Then when the Hand of Providence had shown itself
most plainly, and in a manner to melt the heart with
awe and thankfulness, the message had been blurred.
Seriously the Huguenot asked himself what it portended.
To Tignonville, if he thought of it
at all, the matter was the matter of an egg, and stopped
An egg might alleviate the growing pangs
of hunger; its non-appearance was a disappointment,
but he traced the matter no farther.
be confessed, too, that the haycart was to him only
and not an ark; and the sooner
he was safely away from it the better he would be
While La Tribe, lying snug and warm
beside him, thanked God for a lot so different from
that of such of his fellows as had escaped
he pictured crouching in dank cellars, or on roof-trees
exposed to the heat by day and the dews by night
young man grew more and more restive.
Hunger pricked him, and the meanness
of the part he had played moved him to action.
About midnight, resisting the
his companion, he would have sallied out in search
of food if the passage of a turbulent crowd had not
warned him that the work of murder was still proceeding.
He curbed himself after that and lay until daylight.
But, ill content with his own conduct, on fire when
he thought of his betrothed, he was in no temper to
bear hardship cheerfully or long; and gradually there
rose before his mind the picture of Madame St. Lo’s
smiling face, and the fair hair which curled low on
the white of her neck.
He would, and he would not.
Death that had stalked so near him preached its solemn
But death and pleasure are never far
apart; and at no time and nowhere have they jostled
one another more familiarly than in that age, wherever
the influence of Italy and Italian art and Italian
Again, on the one side,
La Tribe’s example went for something with his
comrade in misfortune; but in the other scale hung
relief from discomfort, with the prospect of a woman’s
smiles and a woman’s
, of dainty
dishes, luxury, and passion.
If he went now,
he went to her from the jaws of death, with the glamour
of adventure and peril about him; and the very going
into her presence was a lure.
Moreover, if he
had been willing while his betrothed was still his,
why not now when he had lost her?
It was this last reflection
one other thing which came on a sudden into his mind
turned the scale.
About noon he sat up in the
hay, and, abruptly and sullenly, “I’ll
lie here no longer,” he said; and he dropped
his legs over the side.
“I shall go.”
The movement was so unexpected that
La Tribe stared at him in silence.
will run a great risk, M. de Tignonville,” he
said gravely, “if you do.
You may go as
far under cover of night as the river, or you may
reach one of the gates.
But as to crossing the
one or passing the other, I reckon it a thing impossible.”
“I shall not wait until night,”
Tignonville answered curtly, a ring of defiance in
“I shall go now!
lie here no longer!”
“You will be mad if you do,”
the other replied.
He thought it the petulant
outcry of youth tired of inaction; a protest, and nothing
He was speedily undeceived.
“Mad or not, I am going!” Tignonville
And he slid to the ground, and from
the covert of the hanging fringe of hay looked warily
up and down the lane.
“It is clear, I
think,” he said.
And with no more, without one upward glance or a
gesture of the hand, with no further adieu or word
of gratitude, he walked out into the lane, turned
briskly to the left, and vanished.
The minister uttered a cry of surprise,
and made as if he would descend also.
“Come back, sir!” he called,
as loudly as he dared.
“M. de Tignonville,
This is folly or worse!”
But M. de Tignonville was gone.
La Tribe listened a while, unable
to believe it, and still expecting his return.
At last, hearing nothing, he slid, greatly excited,
to the ground and looked out.
It was not until
he had peered up and down the lane and made sure that
it was empty that he could persuade himself that the
other had gone for good.
Then he climbed slowly
and seriously to his place again, and sighed as he
“Unstable as water thou shalt
not excel!” he muttered.
“Now I know
why there was only one egg.”
Meanwhile Tignonville, after putting
a hundred yards between himself and his bedfellow,
plunged into the first dark entry which presented itself.
Hurriedly, and with a frowning face, he cut off his
left sleeve from shoulder to wrist; and this act,
by disclosing his linen, put him in possession of
the white sleeve which he had once involuntarily donned,
and once discarded.
The white cross on the cap
he could not assume, for he was bareheaded.
But he had little doubt that the sleeve would suffice,
and with a bold demeanour he made his way northward
until he reached again the Rue Ferronerie.
Excited groups were wandering up and
down the street, and, fearing to traverse its crowded
narrows, he went by lanes parallel with it as far as
the Rue St. Denis, which he crossed.
he saw houses gutted and doors burst in, and traces
of a cruelty and a fanaticism almost incredible.
Lombards he saw a dead
child, stripped stark and hanged on the hook of a
A little farther on
in the same street he stepped over the body of a handsome
young woman, distinguished by the length and beauty
of her hair.
To obtain her bracelets, her captors
had cut off her hands; afterwards
knows how long afterwards
more pitiful than his fellows, had put her out of
her misery with a spit, which still remained plunged
in her body.
M. de Tignonville shuddered at the
sight, and at others like it.
He loathed the
symbol he wore, and himself for wearing it; and more
than once his better nature bade him return and play
the nobler part.
Once he did turn with that
But he had set his mind on comfort
and pleasure, and the value of these things is raised,
not lowered, by danger and uncertainty.
his stoicism oozed away; he turned again.
avoiding the rush of a crowd of wretches who were bearing
a swooning victim to the river, he hurried through
Lombards, and reached in safety
the house beside the Golden Maid.
He had no doubt now on which side
of the Maid Madame St. Lo lived; the house was plain
He had only to knock.
proportion as he approached his haven, his anxiety
To lose all, with all in his grasp, to
fail upon the threshold, was a thing which bore no
looking at; and it was with a nervous hand and eyes
cast fearfully behind him that he plied the heavy
iron knocker which adorned the door.
He could not turn his gaze from a
knot of ruffians, who were gathered under one of the
tottering gables on the farther side of the street.
They seemed to be watching him, and he fancied
the distance rendered this impossible
he could see suspicion growing in their eyes.
At any moment they might cross the roadway, they
might approach, they might challenge him.
at the thought he knocked and knocked again.
Why did not the porter come?
For now a score of
contingencies came into the young man’s mind
and tortured him.
Had Madame St. Lo withdrawn
to safer quarters and closed the house?
good Catholic as she was, had she given way to panic,
and determined to open to no one?
Or was she
Or had she perished in the general disorder?
And then, even as the men began to
slink towards him, his heart leapt.
a footstep heavy and slow move through the house.
It came nearer and nearer.
A moment, and an
iron-grated Judas-hole in the door slid open, and
a servant, an elderly man, sleek and respectable, looked
out at him.
Tignonville could scarcely speak for
“Madame St. Lo?” he
“I come to her from
her cousin the Comte de Tavannes.
if you please.
Open to me!”
“Monsieur is alone?”
The man nodded gravely and slid back
He allowed M. de Tignonville to enter,
then with care he secured the door, and led the way
across a small square court, paved with red tiles and
enclosed by the house, but open above to the sunshine
and the blue sky.
A gallery which ran round
the upper floor looked on this court, in which a great
quiet reigned, broken only by the music of a fountain.
A vine climbed on the wooden pillars which supported
the gallery, and, aspiring higher, embraced the wide
carved eaves, and even tapestried with green the three
gables that on each side of the court broke the skyline.
The grapes hung nearly ripe, and amid their clusters
and the green lattice of their foliage Tignonville’s
gaze sought eagerly but in vain the laughing eyes
and piquant face of his new mistress.
the closing of the door, and the passing from him
of the horrors of the streets, he had entered, as
by magic, a new and smiling world; a world of tennis
and roses, of tinkling voices and women’s wiles,
a world which smacked of Florence and the South, and
love and life; a world which his late experiences had
set so far away from him, his memory of it seemed
Now, as he drank in its stillness and
its fragrance, as he felt its safety and its luxury
lap him round once more, he sighed.
that breath he rid himself of much.
The servant led him to a parlour,
a cool shady room on the farther side of the tiny
quadrangle, and, muttering something inaudible, withdrew.
A moment later a frolicsome laugh, and the light
flutter of a woman’s skirt as she tripped across
the court, brought the blood to his cheeks.
went a step nearer to the door, and his eyes grew bright.