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A Romance of the West Indies
by Eugene Sue
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Saying these words, Monmouth became frightfully pale, and could hardly support himself. A cold perspiration bathed his forehead.

"Well?" cried Angela and Croustillac, who experienced a piercing agony.

"Ah," cried the duke despairingly, "it was the details of the execution of the Duke of Monmouth."[B]

"And Sidney?" cried Angela.

"Sidney had died for me, died a martyr to friendship. His blood, his noble blood, had been shed upon the scaffold instead of mine. Now, Angela, you see, unhappy child, why I have always hidden this terrible secret."

At these words the duke fell back on the sofa, hiding his face in his hands. Angela threw herself at his feet, sobbing bitterly.

{[B] Hume says: "After his execution, his partisans held to the hope of yet seeing him at their head; they flattered themselves that the prisoner who had been beheaded was not the Duke of Monmouth, but one of his friends, who resembled him greatly, and who had had the courage to die in his stead."

Sainte-Foix, in a letter on the Iron Mask (Amsterdam, 1768), says: "It is true that the report spread through London that an officer of Monmouth's army who greatly resembled the duke, having been taken prisoner, and knowing death to be inevitable, received a proposition to represent the duke with as much joy as if life had been offered him; and hearing this, that a great lady, having bribed those who could open his coffin, and having looked at the form, cried, 'Ah, that is not the Duke of Monmouth.'" Furthermore, Sainte-Foix, who sought to prove that the Iron Mask was no other than the Duke of Monmouth, cited a passage of another English work by Pyms, in which he says: "Count Landy sent to seek Colonel Skelton, who was the ex-lieutenant of the Tower, and whom the Prince of Orange had dismissed to give the place to Lord Lucas." "Skelton," said Count Landy to him the previous evening, in dining with Robert Johnston, "you say that the Duke of Monmouth is living and imprisoned in an English castle?" "I cannot vouch for this, because I do not really know," said Skelton, "but I affirm that the night after the pretended execution of the Duke of Monmouth, the king, accompanied by three men, came himself to the tower and carried the duke away."

Sainte-Foix cites still another conversation with Father Tournemine, saying, "The Duchess of Portsmouth said to Father Tournemine and to the confessor of King James that she always imputed to that prince the execution of the Duke of Monmouth, because Charles II., at the moment of his death and when about to receive the last communion, had made King James (then Duke of York) promise on the Host, which Huldeston, a Catholic priest, secretly carried, that whatever revolt the Duke of Monmouth might attempt he (James) would never punish him with death; so King James did not put him to death," said Father Sanders.

We will not multiply citations. We only desire to establish that the foundation of this story is not merely a romantic fiction, and that if it is not based upon a historic certainty, it is at least based upon a likely supposition.}



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE DUKE RELATES THE SACRIFICE TO WHICH HE OWES HIS LIFE.

The chevalier, profoundly moved by the recital of Monmouth, furtively brushed aside his tears, and said, "I understand now what that animal Rutler, with his everlasting dagger, meant by speaking to me of my execution."

"Angela, Angela, my child," exclaimed the duke, lifting his noble countenance bathed in tears, and pressing the young woman to his heart, "how can you ever forgive me the murder of Sidney, my friend, my brother, your only relative, your only protector."

"Alas! have you not replaced him to me, James? I have bewailed his death, believing him killed on the field of battle. Do you believe that my regrets will be greater, now that I know that he sacrificed his life for you—that he did what I would gladly do for you, James, my lover, my husband!"

"Angela! best beloved guardian angel of my life!" cried the duke; "your words cannot assuage the violence of my remorse, but at least you know what religious gratitude I have always had for Sidney, this holy martyr to friendship. What more can I tell you? I passed two days in a state bordering on madness; when I returned to myself I found a letter of Sidney's. He had arranged that I should not receive it until the evening of the day on which he died for me. He explained his pious falsehood; he had not seen King James."

"He had not seen him!" exclaimed Angela.

"No; all that he had said to me was false. So you can understand that I had reason to forever curse the culpable facility with which I had allowed myself to be persuaded. Meanwhile he had died for me; the fable which I had believed in now seemed monstrous folly. No, he had not seen the king! From the depository of my precious stones, he had subtracted wherewith to procure a sum sufficient to gain over one of the officers of the Tower, whom he besought to allow him to see me for the last time. Was this officer in league with Sidney as to the substitution of some one who desired to save me? or was he deceived by the resemblance to such an extent that he suspected nothing. I do not know. The following day, when they went to seek Sidney, he followed the hangman, but he refused to speak for fear his voice would be recognized. The sacrifice was accomplished," said Monmouth, wiping his tears away, which had not ceased to fall during his recital. "I quitted London secretly and went to France under a false name, in order to seek you, Angela. Sidney had given me full power to take her away from the persons to whom he had confided her," said the duke, addressing Croustillac. "Struck by her beauty, her candor, and her other adorable traits, I, believing myself worthy and able to fulfill the last wishes of Sidney in making his adopted child happy, married this angel. We started for the Spanish colonies, where I believed we would be safe. We took the greatest precautions not to be recognized. By chance I encountered an English captain at Cuba whom I had seen at Amsterdam. I believed myself discovered. We left. After a journey of some months, we established ourselves here. In order to divert suspicion, to watch over my wife, and not wishing to be condemned to an imprisonment which would have been fatal to me, I assumed, by turns, the disguises which you are aware of, and I could, with impunity, traverse the island. Thanks to my precious stones, we were able to purchase a number of small vessels, through the good offices of Master Morris, a man of great probity, who knew, without being in the secret, what to think of the pretended widowhoods of my wife. Not only our commercial vessels increased little by little our fortune, which we shall bequeath to our children, but they afford us always a means of flight. The Chameleon was built for this very purpose, and I have sometimes commanded in the guise of a filibuster, and encountered a Spanish pirate, much to the fright of Angela. We were living here very happily, almost peacefully, when I learned that the Chevalier de Crussol, whose life I had once saved, had become the governor of the island. Although he was a man of honor, I feared to tell him who I was. My first idea was to quit Martinique with my wife; but I then learned of the declaration of war from France to England, Spain and Holland, and that certain rumors began to circulate in England as to the miraculous manner in which I had been saved. My partisans were bestirring themselves, it was said. I could expect no justice from William of Orange, and believed myself safer in this colony than anywhere else. I remained, therefore, in spite of the presence of De Crussol, but redoubled my precautions. The pretended widowhoods of my wife, the frequent visits of the filibuster, the Caribbean, and the buccaneer, furnished a collection of facts so incomprehensible that it was impossible to distinguish the truth, which was in our favor. We were, however, much troubled.

"Monsieur de Crussol, curious to know the strange woman of whom such different tales were related, came to Devil's Cliff. Fate ordained that I should be there, also, in the disguise of the buccaneer. I could not avoid meeting the governor, whom we were far from expecting. In spite of the thick beard which disguised my features, De Crussol had preserved too clear a remembrance of me not to recognize me; but, in order to assure himself of the truth, he said to me abruptly, 'You are not what you appear.' Fearing that all would be disclosed to Angela, who knew that I was a fugitive, but who was ignorant of the dangers to which I would be exposed if my existence was known, I said to De Crussol, 'In memory of a past service, I ask silence, but I will tell you all;' and I did not hide anything from him. He swore on his honor to keep my secret and do everything in his power to prevent our being disturbed. He kept his promise, but in dying——"

"He told Father Griffen everything from scruples of conscience," said Croustillac.

"How do you know that?" said the duke.

Croustillac then told Monmouth how the mystery of Devil's Cliff had been revealed to the confessor of King James, and how Father Griffen had unintentionally betrayed him.

"Now, chevalier," said Monmouth, "you know at the price of what an admirable sacrifice I owe this life which I have sworn to consecrate to Angela. I have related to you the frightful remorse which the devotion of Sidney causes me. You understand, I hope, that I cannot expose myself to new and cruel regrets by causing your destruction."

"Ah, you think, your highness, that what you have told me will take from me any desire to devote my life to you? Zounds! you are greatly mistaken."

"How?" exclaimed the duke, "you persist?"

"I persist? I persist more than ever, if you please, and for a very simple reason. Hold, sir! why should I hide it from you? A short time since it was more for the sake of the duchess that I wished to serve you, than for interest in you; this is no offense to you, for I did not know you; but now, that I see what you are; now, that I see how you regret your friends, and how gratefully you remember them, and what they do for you, your wife may be a real Blue Beard, she may be the devil in person, she may be in love with all the buccaneers and the cannibals of the Antilles, but I will do for you all that I would have done for the duchess, sir."

"But, chevalier——"

"But, your highness, all I can say to you is that you have inspired me with the desire to be a second Sidney to you; that is all. Zounds! it is very simple; one never inspires such devotion unless one merits it."

"I wish to believe you, chevalier, but a person is unworthy such devotion when he accepts it willingly."

"Zounds, sir; without offense, I must say you are as pig-headed in your generosity as that Flemish bear was insupportable with his everlasting dagger. Come, let us reason together. What you most desire, is it not, is to save me from prison?"

"Doubtless."

"Now I do not think you are very anxious to abandon the duchess. Well, by telling De Chemerant who you are, would you save me? I am not much of a lawyer but it seems to me that that is the question, is it not, madame?"

"He is right, my love," said Angela, looking at her husband beseechingly.

"To proceed," said Croustillac proudly. "Now, you say to this good Chemerant, 'Sir, I am the Duke of Monmouth, and the chevalier here is only a scapegoat.' So be it; so far all goes well. But at this stage the good Chemerant will reply, 'Your highness, do you or do you not consent to head this insurrection in England?"

"Never! never!" cried the duke.

"Very well, your highness, now I know what insurrection has cost you. Now I have the honor of knowing the duchess; like you I say, 'Never!' only what will the good Chemerant say to this? The good Chemerant will say, 'You are my prisoner,' is it not so?"

"Unhappily it is very likely," said Monmouth.

"Alas! it is only too true!" said Angela.

"'As to this rascal, this schemer,' the good Chemerant will continue, addressing himself to me," said Croustillac, "'as to this imposter, this sharper, as he has impudently imposed upon me, so that I confided to him a half-dozen secrets of state, each more important than the other, particularly as to how the confessors of the great kings have played the game of the poisoned shoulder-knot with their penitents, he shall be treated as he deserved.' Now the said Chemerant, so much the more furious that I had caused him to make such a fool of himself, will not handle me very gently, and I may consider myself very lucky if he leaves me to perish in a dungeon, instead of hanging me quickly (seeing his full power), which would be another method of reducing me very effectually to silence."

"Oh! do not speak so, the idea is frightful," cried Angela.

"You see well, then, generous madman, the imminent danger to which you are exposed," said the duke to him tenderly.

"Now, your highness," said the Gascon with imperturbable calm, "as I said a short time ago, to madame, as I believed her madly in love with a certain fellow of leathern tint, it is clear that one does not devote oneself to people to the sole end of being crowned with roses and caressed by sylvan nymphs. It is the danger that constitutes the sacrifice. But that is not the question. In delivering yourself up as prisoner to the good Chemerant, do you in any way spare me prison or scaffold, sir?"

"But, chevalier——"

"But, sir, I shall pursue you constantly with this argument ad hominum (that is all my Latin), as the Belgian pursued me with his everlasting dagger."

"You deceive yourself, my worthy and brave chevalier, in believing that your situation is so desperate, when I shall have delivered myself up to Chemerant."

"Prove it to me, your highness."

"Without insisting too much upon my rank and my position, they are such that one would be always obliged to account for with me. So, when I say to De Chemerant, that it is my desire that you be not punished for a trait which does you honor, I do not doubt that De Chemerant will be eager to please me and put you at liberty."

"Your highness, allow me to say that you are entirely mistaken."

"But what more could he ask? Should I not be in his power? What would your capture amount to to him?"

"Your highness, you have been a statesman; you have been a conspirator; you are a great nobleman, consequently you must know men; you reason, pardon my bluntness, as if you did not know them at all, or rather, your generous desires in my behalf blind you."

"No, indeed, sir——"

"Listen to me, your highness. You concede, do you not, that the news that comes from England, and the part Louis XIV. has taken in this conspiracy, prove the importance of Chemerant's mission?"

"Without doubt."

"You will, therefore, concede, your highness, that Chemerant relies upon the success of this mission for his good fortune?"

"That is true."

"Well, your highness, by refusing to take part in this insurrection, you leave Chemerant only the part of a jailer; your capture cannot make a success of the enterprise in which these two kings have so lively an interest. Then, believe me, you will cut a very sorry figure asking clemency of Chemerant, above all, at a time when he will be furious at seeing his hopes destroyed; above all, when he knows that the man in whose favor you intercede has made him see numberless stars at full noon. Believe me, then, your highness, by accepting all Chemerant's propositions, by seconding the plans of these two kings, you could scarcely hope to secure my pardon."

"James! what he says is full of wisdom," said Angela. "I would not counsel you to be cowardly or egotistical, but he is right, you cannot deny it."

The duke bent his head without answering.

"I indeed believe I am right," said Croustillac. "I am wrong often enough once, by chance, to have common sense."

"But, for the love of heaven, at least look things in the face, if I accept," said the duke, taking both hands of Croustillac in his own. "You must conduct me and my wife on board the Chameleon; we will hoist sail and will be saved."

"All right, your highness, that is how I like to hear you speak!"

"Yes, we shall be saved, but you, unhappy man, you will return on the frigate with Chemerant, and when you are brought face to face with my friends, your ruse will be discovered and you will be lost!"

"Zounds! sir, how you go on! Without offending you, you then look upon me as a pitiful fellow; you deprive me of all imagination, of all ingenuity. If I am not mistaken, it is some distance to the Cayman's Creek, at Fort Royal?"

"About three leagues," said the duke.

"Very well, your highness, in this country three leagues are three hours, and in three hours a man like myself has at least six chances of escaping. I have long legs and strong as a stag's. The companion of Rend-your-Soul has taught me how to walk," replied the Gascon, smiling with a malicious air. "Now I swear to you that it will make the good Chemerant's escort take some pretty lively strides to keep up with me."

"And you desire that I should allow you to stake your life on a chance as doubtful as that of an escape, when thirty soldiers, used to the country, would instantly be on your track?" said the duke. "Never!"

"And you desire, your highness, that I place my life, my salvation on a chance as uncertain as the clemency of the good Chemerant?"

"At least I should not sacrifice you to a certainty, and the chances are equal," said the duke.

"Equal!" cried the adventurer indignantly. "Equal, your highness? Do you dare compare yourself with me? Who am I? and what purpose do I serve here below if not to carry an old sword at my side, and to live here and there according to the whims of humankind? I am nothing, I do nothing, I have nothing to care for. To whom is my life of any use? Who interests himself about me? Who even knows if Polypheme de Croustillac exists or not?"

"Chevalier, you are not right, and——"

"Zounds! your highness, you belong to the duchess, the adopted child of Sidney. If he died for you, it is the least you can do to live for her whom he loved as his own child! If you reduce her to despair, she may die of grief, and you will have two victims instead of one to lament."

"But once more, chevalier——"

"But!" cried Croustillac, with a significant glance at Angela, and beginning to talk loudly enough to deafen one, thus drowning the voice of the duke, "But you are a miserable wretch! an insolent fellow! to speak so to me! Help! help! come to my assistance!"

Then Croustillac said rapidly, and in a low tone, to the duke, "You force me to do this, your highness, for I have no alternative." And the adventurer began to shout at the top of his lungs.

The duke, paralyzed with surprise, remained motionless and looked at him in stupefaction.

At the cry of the Gascon, six men, forming a portion of the escort, which De Chemerant had stationed as sentinels in the gallery by the request of Croustillac, rushed into the room.

"Gag this rascal! gag him instantly!" cried Croustillac, who trembled at the fear that Chemerant might enter at this juncture.

The soldiers obeyed the chevalier's order; they threw themselves upon the duke, who cried, as he struggled with them, "I am the prince; I am Monmouth."

Happily, these dangerous words were stifled by the loud cries of the chevalier, who, from the beginning of this scene, pretended to be a prey to the greatest anger, and stamped his foot with rage.

One of the soldiers, with the aid of his scarf, succeeded in gagging the duke, who was thus prevented from speaking.

Chemerant, attracted by the noise, entered quickly. He found Angela pale and greatly agitated. While she understood the reason of this struggle, she could not help being deeply moved.

"What has he done, then? your highness," cried Chemerant.

"That miserable wretch made such abominably insolent propositions to me that, in spite of my contempt for him, I was obliged to have him gagged."

"Your highness, you were right; but I foresaw that this miserable wretch would break his ominous silence!"

"This scene, however," cried Croustillac, "was not without its use. I was still hesitating, yes, I avow it, I was weak enough to. Now the die is cast; the guilty ones shall suffer for their crime. Let us start at once for the Cayman's Cove; I have sent my orders to Captain Ralph; I shall not be content until I have seen them embark, under my own eyes; then we will return to Fort Royal."

"Do you really wish to be present at this sad scene, your highness?"

"Do I wish to? I would not give up that precious moment for the throne of England! I shall go to the vessel, and see these two criminals set sail for their destination where the breath of my vengeance will take them!"

"It is final, then, that you insist upon this?" said De Chemerant, still hesitating.

"It is final," returned Croustillac, in a most imposing and threatening voice, all in admirable accord with the part he played; "I expect to be obeyed when my orders are just. Make all preparations for the departure, I beg of you; if this miserable wretch does not choose to walk, he shall be carried; but above all, see that he is securely gagged, for if he should offer any further insolence I do not desire to hear it at any price."

One of the soldiers assured himself that the gag was securely tied; taking the duke, they tied his hands behind his back, and marched him off under guard.

"Are you ready, De Chemerant?" said Croustillac.

"Yes, your highness, I have only to give some orders to my men."

"Go, then, I will await you; I also have some orders to give."

The governor saluted and withdrew.



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE DEPARTURE.

Angela and the chevalier were alone.

"Saved! saved by you!" cried Angela.

"I would have wished to use different means, madame, but, without reproach to the duke, he is as obstinate as I am. It was impossible to do differently. There only remain a few moments now in which we may act. Chemerant will return; let us think of what is most pressing. Your diamonds—where are they? Go quickly and get them, madame. Take them with you. Once all is discovered, beware of confiscation."

"The stones are there, in a secret box, in the duke's apartment."

"Go quickly and get them. I will ring for Mirette to get you some clothing."

"Generous friend! But you! Oh God!"

"Be quiet; when I have no longer need to protect you, I will look out for myself. But quick! get your diamonds. Chemerant will be here shortly; I will ring for Mirette." The chevalier touched the bell.

Angela disappeared through the door leading to the duke's private apartments.

Mirette appeared.

"She is very pretty, this little duchess," mused Croustillac to himself, "very pretty. Oh, this time I am struck to the heart, I know it only too well. I shall never forget her. This is love; yes, this is true love. Happily this danger will distract me, or these emotions would make me dizzy. Ah! there she comes!"

Angela entered carrying a small box. "We have always kept these stones in reserve, in case we should be suddenly compelled to fly," said she to Croustillac. "Our fortune is a thousand times assured. Alas! why is it that you——"

The young woman paused, fearing to offend the Gascon; then she continued sadly, with tears in her eyes, "You must have thought me very ignoble, did you not, in accepting without hesitation your noble sacrifice? But you will be kind and indulgent. It was necessary in order to save the one who is the dearest object in the world to me—the man for whom I would give my own life a thousand times over. But wait, this is frightful egotism, to speak to you thus, to you whom I owe everything, and who are going, perhaps, to death for me. I am mad! Forgive me."

"Not another word on this subject, madame, I beg of you. Here is the duke's sword, it was his father's; here also is this little box which his mother gave him. These are precious relics; put them all in this large basket."

"Good and generous man!" exclaimed Angela, who was deeply moved; "you think of everything!"

Croustillac made no reply; he turned his head away in order that the duchess should not see the great tears rolling down his cheeks. He extended his large, bony hands to the duchess, and said, in a stifled voice, "Adieu, forever adieu! You will forget that I am a poor devil of a fellow and you will remember me sometimes as——"

"As our best friend, as our brother," said Angela, bursting into tears.

Then she took from her pocket a small medallion containing her cipher, and said to Croustillac, "See what I returned to the house to seek this evening. I desired to offer you this token of our friendship; it was in bringing it to you that I overheard your conversation with Colonel Rutler. Accept it, it will be a double souvenir of our friendship and of your generosity."

"Give it to me! oh, give it to me!" cried the Gascon, and then, pressing it to his lips, he said, "I am more than paid for what I have done for you, for the duke——"

"We are not ingrates. As soon as the duke is safe, we shall not leave you in the power of Chemerant, and——"

"Here is Mirette; let us resume our role," cried Croustillac, interrupting the duchess.

Mirette entered, followed by the slave, carrying in her hand Croustillac's old sword; a soldier bore the basket containing the clothes.

Angela placed the box of diamonds and Monmouth's sword in the basket.

Chemerant entered the room, saying, "Your highness, all is in readiness."

"Offer madame your arm, if you please," said the chevalier to Chemerant, with a gloomy manner.

Angela appeared struck with a sudden thought and said to the chevalier, "Sir, I wish to say something, privately, to Father Griffen. Do you refuse me this last petition?"

"Just now, your highness, the good Father, hearing the noise, came to ask if he might speak to madame."

"He is here!" cried Angela, "God be praised!"

"Let him enter," said the Gascon gloomily.

Chemerant bowed and the guard withdrew.

Father Griffen entered. He was grave and sad.

"My Father," said Angela, "can you give me some moments' interview?"

So saying, she entered a room near by, followed by the priest.

"Your highness," said Chemerant, showing a paper to the Gascon, "here is a letter which was found on the person of Colonel Rutler; it leaves no doubts as to the plots of William of Orange against your highness. Rutler will be shot upon our arrival at Fort Royal."

"We will speak of that later, sir, but I lean toward clemency in the colonel's case—not through weakness, but from policy. I will explain to you another time my reasons for this."

The little bay in which the Chameleon lay at anchor was not very far from the residence of Blue Beard. When the escort arrived there the horizon was tinged with the first rays of the rising sun. The Chameleon was a brigantine, light and swift as a kingfisher, riding gracefully on the waves, at her mooring. Not far from the Chameleon was seen one of the coast guards who traversed in his rounds the only point of Cabesterre which was accessible.

The launch of the Chameleon, commanded by Captain Ralph's first mate, waited at the landing; in it were four sailors seated, with oars raised, ready to row at the first signal.

The Gascon's heart beat as if it would burst. At the moment of attaining the price of his sacrifice, he trembled lest an unlooked-for accident should upset the fragile scaffolding of so many stratagems.

The litter in which Monmouth was shut up arrived on the bank, and was quickly followed by that containing Angela.

The soldiers ranged themselves along the landing. The Gascon said to Angela, in an agitated tone, "Go on board ship, madame, with your accomplice; this package (and he put into the hands of the mate a paper) will inform Captain Ralph of my final orders. Meanwhile," said the chevalier all at once, "wait—I have an idea!"

Chemerant and Angela gazed at Croustillac with surprise.

The adventurer believed he had discovered a means of saving the duke, and of himself escaping from Chemerant; he had no doubt of the resolution and devotion of the five sailors in the boat; he thought of precipitating himself with Angela and Monmouth into the boat and ordering the sailors to make all speed over the waves in order to join the Chameleon, and to set sail with speed. The soldiers, though thirty in number, would be so surprised by this sudden flight that success would be possible. A new incident upset this project of the chevalier.

A voice which, though distant, was very powerful, cried, "In the name of the king, stop; allow no one to embark!"

Croustillac turned suddenly toward the direction from which the voice came, and he saw a marine officer who was coming out of a redoubt erected near Cayman's Cove.

"In the name of the king, allow no one to embark," came the voice again.

"Be easy, lieutenant," responded a subordinate, who until then had not been perceived, for he was hidden by the piles of the wharf, "I will not allow the tender to leave without your orders."

"That is well, Thomas, and beside," replied the officer, firing a shot from his gun as a signal, "the coastguard will not permit the brigantine to sail."

It would be impossible to paint the frightful agony of the actors in this scene. Croustillac saw that his plan for flight was out of the question, because the slightest signal from the coastguard would prevent the departure of the Chameleon.

The officer who had just appeared stopped in front of Croustillac and Chemerant, and said to them, "In the name of the king, I order you to tell me who you are and where you are going, gentlemen; by the governor's orders no one can sail from here without a permit from him.

"Sir," said Chemerant, "the soldiers who are with me are part of the governor's guard; you see, I am acting by his consent."

"An escort, sir! you have an escort!" said the astonished officer.

"There, near the mole, sir," said Croustillac.

"Oh, that is another matter, sir; the light was so feeble that I had not noticed the soldiers. I hope you will pardon me, sir."

This man, who seemed extremely talkative, approached the governor's guard, examined them a moment, and said with excessive volubility, "My orders are simply to prevent persons going toward the wharf, just now the Chameleon, and a fine vessel she is, belonging to Blue Beard, and which has bravely run down a Spanish pirate—came last night to the mooring."

"Sir, I beg you to silence this insupportable babbler," said the chevalier to Chemerant, "you must see how painful this scene is to me."

"You see, sir," said Chemerant to the lieutenant of marines, "the persons who are going to embark, do so under my personal responsibility. I am Chemerant, commissioner extraordinary to the king, and am furnished with full powers."

"Sir," said the lieutenant, "it is unnecessary to cite your authority; this escort is sufficient guarantee, and——"

"Then, sir, remove the order."

"Nothing is easier, sir; the order being now useless, it is useless to maintain it." "Thomas," cried this irrepressible talker to his subordinate, "you know the order that I gave you?"

"Which, lieutenant?"

"How! brainless one!"

"Sir, my time is valuable, I must return shortly to Fort Royal," said Chemerant.

The lieutenant continued, recklessly, "How! you have forgotten the order I gave you?"

"The last one? no, lieutenant."

"No, lieutenant! well, repeat it, then; let us hear the order." Then, addressing Chemerant, he said to him, while pointing to his soldier, "He hasn't the memory of a gosling! I am not sorry to give him this lesson before you, it will profit him."

"Confound it! I am not here to assist in educating your functionaries," said Chemerant.

"Well, Thomas, this order?"

"Lieutenant, it was to let no one embark on the vessel."

"Very well, that is all right; now I remove the embargo."

"Go on board at once, madame," said Croustillac, unable to moderate his impatience.

Angela cast a last look at him.

The duke made a despairing effort to break his fetters, but he was quickly carried off to the tender by the soldiers.

At a sign from Blue Beard, the sailors dipped their oars into the sea and headed for the Chameleon.

"Are you satisfied now, your highness," said Chemerant.

"No, no; not yet, sir. I shall not be content until I see the vessel set sail," replied the Gascon in a changed voice.

"The prince is implacable in his hate," thought Chemerant; "he trembles still with rage, although his revenge is assured."

All at once the sky was irradiated by the rays of the sun which made more somber still the line of azure which the sea formed on the horizon; the sun rose majestically, pouring torrents of red upon the water, the rocks, and the bay.

At this instant the Chameleon, which had been joined by the small boat, flung to the breeze its white sails, and began to draw in its cable, by which it was attached to the mooring. The brigantine, with a graceful movement, began to tack; during a few seconds it completely hid the disk of the sun, and appeared enveloped in a brilliant aureole. Then the swift vessel, turning its prow toward Cayman's Cove, began to make toward the open sea.

Croustillac remained motionless in sorrowful reverie, with his eyes fixed upon the vessel, which was carrying away the woman whom he so suddenly and so madly loved.

The adventurer, thanks to his keen sight, could perceive a white handkerchief which was waved from the stern of the vessel. It was the last farewell of Blue Beard.

Shortly the breeze freshened. The little vessel, with swift movement, bent under her sails, and went so rapidly that it was, little by little, lost in the midst of the warm mist of the morning. Then it entered into a zone of torrid light which the sun threw on the waves.

For some time Croustillac could not follow the Chameleon with his eyes; when he saw her again, the brigantine drew nearer and nearer to the horizon, appearing but a speck in space. Then, doubling the last point of the island, she disappeared all at once.

When the poor chevalier could no longer see the vessel, he experienced a profound sorrow. His heart seemed as empty and as solitary as the ocean.

"Now, sir," said Chemerant, "let us go and find the friends who are awaiting you so impatiently. In an hour we will be on board the frigate."



PART IV.



CHAPTER XXX.

REGRETS.

As long as Croustillac contemplated his sacrifice; as long as he had been exalted by its dangers and upheld by the presence of Angela and Monmouth; he had not realized the cruel consequences of his devotion; but when he was alone, his thoughts became very painful. Not that he feared the danger which menaced him, but he felt keenly the absence of Angela, for whom he had braved everything. Under the eye of Angela, he had gayly faced the greatest peril; but he would never see her again. This was the real reason of his gloomy dejection.

With arms crossed upon his breast, bowed head, fixed gaze and somber manner, the adventurer remained silent and motionless. Twice De Chemerant addressed him: "Your highness, it is time to go."

Croustillac did not hear him. Chemerant, realizing the uselessness of words, touched him lightly on the arm, repeating louder, "Your highness, there still remain more than four leagues to travel before arriving at Fort Royal."

"Zounds! sir; what do you want?" cried the Gascon, turning impatiently toward De Chemerant.

The face of the latter expressed so much surprise at hearing the man whom he believed to be the Duke of Monmouth give vent to such a peculiar exclamation, that the Gascon realized the imprudence of which he had been guilty. He quickly recovered his usual coolness, looked at De Chemerant in an abstracted manner; then, as if he had awakened from a profound meditation, he said, in a short tone, "Very well, sir, let us go." Again mounting his horse, the Gascon took the road to Fort Royal, still followed by the escort and accompanied by De Chemerant.

Croustillac was not a man, in spite of his chagrin, to entirely despair of the present. Chemerant, recovering from his surprise, attributed the somber taciturnity of the Gascon to the painful thoughts which the criminal conduct of the Duchess of Monmouth must cause him; while the adventurer, summing up the chances of escape which remained to him, analyzed the state of his heart, reasoning as follows: "Blue Beard (I shall always call her that—it was thus I heard her name for the first time, when I thought of her without knowing her), Blue Beard is gone—forever gone; I shall never see her again, never, never, it is evident. It will be impossible to escape from the memory of her. It is absurd, stupid, not to be imagined, but so it is—this proves it that this little woman has completely subjugated me. I was gay, careless and loquacious as a bird on the bough, but little scrupulous as to delicacy, and now behold me, sad, morose, taciturn, and of a delicacy so inordinate that I had a horrible fear lest Blue Beard should offer me, in parting, some remuneration other than the medallion from which she had the generosity to remove the jewels. Alas! from this time forth, this memory will be all my happiness—sad happiness! What a change! I, who heretofore cared so much the more for bravery of attire since I was badly clothed; I, who would have found such happiness in wearing this velvet coat garnished with rich gold buttons—I wish for the moment to come when I can don my old green garments and my pink hose, proud to say 'I leave this Potosi, this Devil's Cliff, this diamond mine, as much of a beggar as when I entered into it.' Is it not, my faith, very plain that before knowing Blue Beard, I had never in my life had such thoughts? Now, what remains for me to hope?" said Croustillac, adopting, as was his wont, the interrogative form to make what he called his "examination of conscience."

"Now, then, be frank, Polypheme, do you care much for life?

"Eh! eh!

"What say you to being hanged?

"H—m, h—m.

"Come, now, frankly?

"Frankly? well, the gallows, strictly speaking, might please me if Blue Beard was there to see me hanged. And yet, no, it is an ignoble death, a ridiculous death; one's tongue hangs out, one kicks about——

"Polypheme, you are afraid—of being hanged?

"No, faith! but hanged all alone, hanged by myself, hanged like a mad dog, hanged without two beautiful eyes looking at you, without a pretty mouth smiling at you——

"Polypheme, you are a stupid oaf; do you believe that Her Grace the Duchess of Monmouth would come to applaud your last dance? Once more, Polypheme, you are tricking, you seek all sorts of evasions. You are afraid of being hanged, I tell you."

"So be it—yes, I am afraid of the gallows, I own it; let us speak no more of it. Put aside these probabilities, do not admit into our future this exaggerated fear. Zounds! one is not hanged for so little, while the prison is possible, not to say probable. Let us talk, then, of the prison.

"Well, how does the prison seem to you, Polypheme?

"Eh! eh! the prison is devilishly monotonous. I know well that I should have the resource of thinking of Blue Beard, but I shall think of her so much, I shall think of her even better in the peaceful solitude of the woods, in the calm of the paternal valley. The paternal valley! yes, decidedly, it is there that I would prefer to finish my days, dreaming of Blue Beard. Only, shall I ever find it again, this paternal valley? Alas! the mists of our Gavonne are so thick that I shall wander long, without doubt, before I find this dear valley again.

"Polypheme, you purposely wander from the subject; you wish to escape the prison as well as the gallows, in spite of your philosophical bombast.

"Well, yes, zounds! I do want to escape both; to whom should I avow it if not to myself? Who will comprehend me if not I, myself?

"That admitted, Polypheme, how will you evade the fate that threatens you?

"Just at present this road is hardly favorable for escape, I know; rocks on the right hand, on the left the sea, in front of and behind me the escort. My horse is not bad; if it was better than that of the good Chemerant, I might make a trial of swiftness with him.

"And then, Polypheme?

"And then I would leave good Chemerant on the road.

"And then?

"And then, abandoning my horse, I would conceal myself in some cavern; I would climb the rocks; I have long legs and muscles of steel.

"But, Polypheme, you will be sure to find the maroons. You, who are not accustomed as they are to a nomadic life, you will be easily found by them, at least if you are not devoured by wildcats or killed by serpents. Such are your only two chances of escaping the efforts they will make to catch you again.

"Yes, but at least I have some chance of escape, while in following the good Chemerant, as the sheep follows the butcher who leads it to the slaughter-house, I fall full into the hands of my partisans. Mortimer will fall on my neck, not to embrace me, but to strangle me, when he sees who I am, or rather, whom I am not; while in attempting to escape I may succeed, and, who knows? perhaps rejoin Blue Beard. Father Griffen is devoted to her; through him I shall learn where she is, if he knows.

"But, Polypheme, you are mad! You love this woman without a ray of hope. She is passionately in love with her husband; and, although people have complacently taken you for him, he is as handsome, as much of a 'grand seigneur,' as interesting, as you are ugly, ridiculous, and insignificant, although of ancient race, Polypheme.

"Eh? Zounds! what does it matter? In again beholding Blue Beard I shall not be happy, that is true, but I shall be content. Cannot one enjoy a beautiful sight, an admirable picture, a magnificent poem, an enchanting piece of music, although this sight, this picture, this poem, this music, are not one's own? Well, such will be the kind of my content in the presence of the divine Blue Beard.

"A last observation, Polypheme. Your rhapsody, happy or not, will it not awaken the suspicions of De Chemerant? Will you not thus compromise the safety of those whom you have, I must avow, very skillfully rescued?

"There is nothing to fear on that side. The Chameleon flies like an albatross—she is already the devil knows where. She will put to their wits' ends all the coastguards of the islands to know where she is. Thus, then, I see no inconvenience in trying whether my horse goes faster than that of the good Chemerant. The good man seems to me plunged in meditation just now; the strand is good and straight. If I should start——

"Come, then, try—start, Polypheme!"

Scarcely had the adventurer mentally given himself this permission, when, giving some touches of his spur to the horse, he set off suddenly with great rapidity.

Chemerant, surprised for a moment, gazed after the flying Croustillac; then, not comprehending this strange action on the part of the supposed duke, he started in pursuit.

Chemerant had been in many wars, and was an excellent rider. His horse, without being superior to that of Croustillac, being much better managed and trained, immediately regained the distance the adventurer had covered. Chemerant closely followed the track of Croustillac, crying, "My lord, my lord, where are you going?"

Croustillac, seeing himself so closely pursued, urged his horse forward with all his force.

Very soon the adventurer was obliged to stop short; the strand formed an elbow in this place, and the Gascon found himself face to face with enormous blocks of rock leaving only a narrow and dangerous passage.

Chemerant rejoined his companion. "By all the furies! my lord," he cried, "what gnat has bitten your highness? Why this sudden and furious gallop?"

The Gascon responded, coolly and boldly, "I am in great haste, sir, to rejoin my partisans—this poor Mortimer especially, who awaits me with such lively impatience. And then, in spite of me, I am besieged with certain vexatious ideas concerning my wife, and I wish to fly from them, these ideas, to fly from them by any means," said the Gascon, with a dolorous sigh.

"It appears to me, my lord, that morally and physically you fly from them with all your might; unfortunately the road forbids your escaping them any further."

Chemerant called the guide. "At what distance are we from Fort Royal?" he asked him.

"A league at most, sir."

Chemerant pulled out his watch and said to Croustillac, "if the wind is good at eleven o'clock, we might be under sail and en route for the coast of Cornwall, where glory awaits you, my lord."

"I hope so, sir, without which it would be absurd in me to go there. But apropos of our enterprise, it seems to be a bad beginning to inaugurate it with a murder."

"What do you mean, your highness?"

"I should see with pain the shooting of Colonel Rutler. I am superstitious, sir; this death seems to me a bad omen. The crime was one entirely personal to me; I then formally demand from you his pardon."

"Your highness, his crime was flagrant, and——"

"But, sir, the crime has not been committed. I insist that the colonel shall not be shot."

"He should, at least your highness, expiate by perpetual imprisonment his audacious attempt."

"In prison? so be it; one can get out of it, thank God! or at least, one can hope so, which shortens the time infinitely. Beside, the colonel might noise abroad my approaching descent into Cornwall, which would be truly disastrous."

"What you desire in this case shall be done, your highness?"

"Another thing, sir. I am superstitious, as I have told you. I have remarked in my life certain lucky and unlucky days. Now, for nothing in this world would I choose to begin an enterprise so important as ours under the influence of an hour which I believe to be fatal to me. Beside, I am much fatigued; you ought to be able to understand that, in thinking of the emotions of all kinds which have beset me since yesterday."

"What, then, are your designs, your highness?"

"They will perhaps not agree with yours, but I will credit you with doing what I desire, which is not to set sail before to-morrow morning at sunrise."

"Your highness!"

"I know, sir, what you are going to say to me, but twenty-four hours, more or less, are not of much consequence, and, finally, I have decided not to put my foot on board to-day. I should bring upon you the most direful fate; I should draw upon your frigate all the tempests of the tropics. I will, then, pass the day with the governor, in absolute retirement. I have need of being alone," added Croustillac, in a melancholy tone; "alone, yes, always alone, and I ought to begin my apprenticeship to solitude."

"Solitude? But, my lord, you will not find it among the agitations which await you."

"Ah! sir," responded Croustillac philosophically, "the unfortunate finds solitude even in the midst of the crowd, when he isolates himself in his regrets. A wife whom I loved so much!" added he, with a profound sigh.

"Ah! your highness," said De Chemerant, sighing in order to put himself in sympathy with Croustillac, "it is terrible; but time heals the deepest wounds."

"You are right, sir, time heals the deepest wounds. I will have courage. Well rested, well recovered from my fatigue and my cruel agitations, to-morrow I will console myself, I will forget all in embracing my partisans."

"Ah! your highness, to-morrow will be a blessed day for all."

The position of the supposed duke demanded too much consideration from De Chemerant for him not to give in to the suggestions of his companion; he acquiesced, then, though with regret, in the will of Croustillac.

The Gascon, in postponing the hour in which his deception should be discovered, hoped to find a chance to escape. He remembered that Blue Beard had said to him, "We will not be ungrateful; once the duke is in safety, we will not leave you in the power of De Chemerant; only seek to gain time."

Although Croustillac did not count much on the promise of his friends, knowing all the difficulties which they would have to brave and to conquer before they could succor him, he wished in any case not to sacrifice this chance of safety, however uncertain it should be.

Thus, as the guide had informed them, they arrived at Fort Royal at the end of an hour's march.

The residence of the governor was situated at the extremity of the city, on the edge of the savannahs; it was easy to reach it without encountering any one.

Chemerant sent one of the guards in all haste to warn the governor of the arrival of his two guests.

The baron had replaced his long peruke, and resumed his heavy, tight-fitting coat, in order to receive De Chemerant and the supposed duke. He regarded the latter with eager curiosity, and was extremely puzzled by the black velvet coat with the red sleeve. But, remembering that De Chemerant had spoken to him of a state secret in which the inhabitants of Devil's Cliff found themselves mixed up, he did not dare to meet Croustillac without profound deference.

The governor, profiting by a moment during which the adventurer cast a melancholy glance at the window, striving to see whether it would serve his purpose, said in a low tone to De Chemerant, "I expected to see a lady, sir. This litter that you brought with you——"

"Well, baron, you unfortunately counted without your hostess."

"You must have been much heated by this morning sun," added the baron with a careless air, although he was piqued by De Chemerant's answer.

"Very much heated, sir, and your guest also. You should offer him some refreshment."

"I have thought of that, sir," replied the baron, "and have ordered three covers laid."

"I do not know, baron, whether my lord (indicating Croustillac) will deign to admit us to his table."

The governor, stupefied with surprise, regarded Croustillac with a new and burning curiosity. "But, sir, is this, then, a great personage?"

"Baron, I am again under the necessity of reminding you that it is my mission to ask questions of you and not——"

"Sufficient, sufficient, sir. Will you ask the guest whom I have the honor to receive if he will do me the favor to accept this breakfast?"

Chemerant transmitted the invitation of the baron to Croustillac, who, pretending fatigue, asked to breakfast alone in his apartment.

Chemerant whispered a few words in the ear of the governor, who immediately offered his finest apartment to the supposed great personage.

Croustillac prayed the baron to have the pannier, of which one of the two guards had taken charge, and which, as we know, contained only Croustillac's old garments, brought to his room.

Chemerant was in the room of the Gascon when the pannier was brought in.

"Who would think, to look at this modest pannier, that it contained more than three millions' worth of jewels?" said Croustillac negligently.

"What imprudence! your highness!" cried De Chemerant. "These guards are trusty, but——"

"They are ignorant of the treasure they carry; there is, then, nothing to fear."

"Your highness, I ought to tell you that it is not the intention of the king that you should use your personal resources in order to bring this enterprise to a successful end. The purser of the frigate has a considerable sum destined to the payment of the recruits who are embarked, and for necessary expenses, once the debarkation is accomplished."

"It does not matter," said Croustillac. "Money is the sinew of war. I had not foreseen this disposition of the 'great king,' and I wish to put at the service of my royal uncle that which remains to me of blood, fortune and influence."

After this sounding peroration, De Chemerant went out.



CHAPTER XXXI.

CROUSTILLAC DEPARTS.

Croustillac seated himself at the table which had been prepared for him, ate but little, and then lay down, hoping that sleep would calm him and perhaps bring to him some fortunate idea of how to escape. He had recognized with chagrin the impossibility of escaping by the window of the chamber he occupied; the two sentries of the governor's residence paced constantly at the foot of the building.

Once alone, De Chemerant began to reflect on the singular events of which he had been the witness. Although he did not doubt that the Gascon was the veritable Duke of Monmouth, the conduct of the duchess seemed so strange to him, the manners and language of Croustillac, although very skillfully adapted to his role, were sometimes so redolent of the adventurer, that without the aid of the evident proofs which should demonstrate to him the identity of the person of the duke, De Chemerant would have conceived some suspicions. Nevertheless, he resolved to profit by his sojourn at Fort Royal to question the governor anew on the subject of Blue Beard, and Colonel Rutler on the subject of the Duke of Monmouth. The baron did no more than to repeat certain public rumors, viz., that the widow was on the best possible terms with the three bandits who haunted Devil's Cliff.

Chemerant was reduced to deploring the depravity of the young woman, and the blindness of the unfortunate duke, a blindness which had, without doubt, endured till that very moment.

As for Rutler, his arrest by De Chemerant, the arrival of the envoy from France at Devil's Cliff, far from shaking his conviction in respect to Croustillac, had confirmed it; thus, when De Chemerant came to question him, in announcing to him that he was not to be shot, the colonel, on his part unwittingly, concurred in giving still more authority to the false role of the adventurer.

The sun was on the point of setting. Chemerant, completely reassured as to the very satisfactory result of his mission, was thinking over the advantages it must bring to him, while walking up and down the terrace of the governor's residence, when the baron, out of breath with having climbed so high, came to tear his guest away from the ambitious thoughts with which he was delighting himself.

"Sir," said the governor to him, "a merchant captain called Master Daniel, and commanding the three-master the Unicorn has arrived from St. Pierre with his ship; he asks to talk with you for a moment on very pressing affairs."

"May I receive him on this terrace, baron?"

"Certainly, sir; it is much cooler here than below." Then advancing to the staircase by which he had ascended, the baron said to one of his guards, "Send Master Daniel up here."

We have forgotten to say that as soon as the supposed duke had manifested a desire to pass the night on land the frigate had received orders to anchor at the extremity of the roads.

After some minutes, Captain Daniel, our old acquaintance, appeared on the terrace. The physiognomy of the captain, ordinarily so frank and joyous, betrayed great embarrassment.

The worthy captain of the Unicorn, so completely king on the deck of his vessel, seemed uncomfortable and ill at ease. His cheeks, always more than red, were slightly pale; the almost imperceptible quivering of his upper lip agitated his thick gray mustache—a physiological sign which indicated in Captain Daniel a grave preoccupation; he wore trousers and tunic of blue and white striped cloth; in his girdle of red cotton was thrust a long Flemish knife; an India handkerchief, knotted sailor fashion, surrounded his brick-colored throat; finally, he mechanically gave the most whimsical forms to the large and flexible straw hat which he twisted about with both hands.

The worthy master, with many low bows, approached De Chemerant, whose dry, harsh face, with its piercing glance, seemed to intimidate him greatly.

"I am sure that this poor man is all in a perspiration," said the governor to De Chemerant, in a pitying tone.

In fact, great drops of perspiration covered the prominent veins on the bald and sunburned forehead of Captain Daniel.

"What do you wish?" said De Chemerant to him brusquely.

"Come, speak, explain yourself, Master Daniel," added the baron, in a gentler tone, seeing the merchant captain more and more intimidated.

At last the captain ended by saying, in a voice strangled by emotion, and addressing himself to De Chemerant, "Your highness——"

"I am not 'your highness' but 'sir,'" replied Chemerant; "speak, I am listening."

"Well, then, my good sir, I arrived at St. Pierre with a cargo, a very rich cargo of sugar, coffee, pepper, cloves, tafia——"

"I do not need to know the inventory of your cargo; what do you want?"

"Come, Master Daniel, my boy, reassure yourself, explain yourself, and dry your forehead; you look as if you had come out of the water," said the baron.

"Now, your high—now, good sir, although I have a dozen small guns, and a few swivel guns, my cargo is of such value that I come, good sir, in fear of corsairs and pirates——"

"Well?"

"Go on, Master Daniel, I have never seen you thus."

"I come, good sir, to ask your permission to set sail in company with the frigate which has anchored just now in the roads."

"Confound it! I can understand why you are embarrassed in making such a request, Master Daniel," said the baron. "They are to give you his majesty's frigates to serve as escort to your cargo!"

Chemerant looked fixedly at the captain, shrugged his shoulders, and responded, "It is impossible! The frigate is a fast sailer; she could not diminish her speed to attend on your vessel—you are crazy!"

"Oh, sir, if it is only that, fear nothing. Without decrying his majesty's frigate, since I do not know her, I can engage to follow her, no matter how much sail she carries, or whatever wind or sea is in her sails or ahead."

"I tell you you are crazy. The Thunderer is the swiftest of ships."

"My good sir, do not refuse me," said Master Daniel, in a supplicating tone. "If this proud frigate sails quicker than the Unicorn—well, this man-of-war will desert the poor merchant ship, but at least I shall have been a good part of the way under the shelter of the flag of the king, and the prowlers of the sea are only especially to be feared in the starting. Ah, sir, a cargo worth more than a million, by which the enemies of our good king will profit if they succeed in getting possession of the Unicorn——"

"But I repeat to you that the frigate, although a man-of-war, would not have time to defend you if you were attacked; her mission is such that she ought not to be embarrassed with a convoy."

"Oh, good sir," replied Captain Daniel, clasping his hands, "you will have no embarrassment because of me; there will be no risk of my being attacked if they see me under the protection of your guns. There is not a corsair who would dare even to approach me, seeing me so bravely accompanied. With all respect, sir, the wolves attack the lambs only when the dogs are absent."

"Poor lamb of a Master Daniel!" said the governor.

"Ah, good sir, let it not be said that a warship of the king, our master, refused a poor unfortunate merchant who asked only the protection of his flag, so long as he was able to follow it."

Chemerant found it hard to refuse this request, which in nowise interfered with the maneuvers of the frigate, as Captain Daniel engaged to follow the course of the Thunderer or allow himself to be abandoned. Nevertheless, De Chemerant refused. "You know well," he said to the captain, "that if, in spite of our escort, a corsair attacked you, a king's ship could not leave you defenseless. Again, you will hinder the maneuvers of the frigate. It is impossible."

"But, sir, my rich cargo——"

"You have guns, defend it. I will not allow you the convoy. It is impossible."

"Alas! my good God! I, who have come expressly from St. Pierre to ask this favor from you!" said Daniel, in a dolorous tone.

"Well, you will wait for another chance. I cannot cover you with my flag."

"However, good sir——"

"Enough!" said Chemerant, in a harsh and peremptory tone.

Captain Daniel made a last reverence, and, retreating slowly to the staircase, he disappeared.

"To see these merchants! To hear them one would think there were no interests in the world but those of their cargoes," said De Chemerant.

"There are, however, very few circumstances in which one refuses an escort," said the governor, with an air of astonishment.

"There are very few, indeed, baron, but there are some," said Chemerant brusquely, while withdrawing.

Croustillac had been conducted to the finest apartment in the house. When he awoke night had fallen, and the moon shone with so brilliant a light that it illuminated his chamber perfectly.

Croustillac looked out of his window; the two sentinels paced peacefully at the foot of the wall.

"The devil!" said the adventurer. "It is decidedly impossible to make my escape on this side; there are at least twenty feet to descend just to fall on the backs of these sentinels, and they would find this manner of quitting the governor's house very singular. Let us look at the other side, then."

Croustillac approached the door with a light step; but a bright light thrown on the floor showed him that the neighboring room was lighted and probably occupied.

By the aid of a tinder-box which he found on the mantel, he lighted a candle, and dressed himself in his old clothes, with a melancholy satisfaction. They exhaled the strong and aromatic odor of the plants and herbs of the surroundings through which Croustillac had so long walked in his wanderings in the forest around Devil's Cliff.

"Zounds! Chance is devilishly well named Chance," said the Gascon to himself. "It has always had a particular affection for me. If it was canonized, I would make it my patron saint. Chance—Polypheme, Sire de Croustillac! When, on board the Unicorn, I made a bet that I would marry Blue Beard, who could have foreseen that this foolish wager was almost won; for, after all, in the eyes of the man with the dagger and of De Chemerant, I passed, I still pass, as the husband of the lady of Devil's Cliff. How all things hang together in fate! When I quitted the parsonage of Father Griffen, nose in air, shoulders squared, my switch in my hand to drive away the serpents, who the devil would have said that I left to go, not directly it is true, to incite the Cornwallers to revolt in favor of King James and Louis XIV! Zounds! One may well say that the ways of Providence are inscrutable. Who could have penetrated into this? Ah! now the critical moment approaches. I am sometimes tempted to disclose all to the good man Chemerant. Yes, but I think that each hour gained removes the duke and his wife three or four leagues further from Martinique. I think that here, on land, my trial might be carried out immediately and my gallows raised in the wink of an eye, while on the open sea there would perhaps be no persons present competent to judge me. I think, after all, that if Blue Beard has begged (as I suppose) Father Griffen to endeavor to withdraw me from the claws of Chemerant, that a sudden and imprudent revelation on my part would spoil all. Much better, then, to keep silence. Yes, all well considered," resumed Croustillac after a moment of reflection, "to let De Chemerant's mistake last as long as possible, that is the better part for me to take."

During these reflections Croustillac had dressed himself. "Now," he said, "let me see if there are any means of getting out of here secretly."

So saying, he softly opened the door and beheld with disappointment the lackeys of the governor, who rose respectfully on seeing him. One went to seek the baron; the other said to Croustillac, "Monsieur the governor forbade us to enter the chamber of your highness until called; he will come on the instant."

"No matter, my boy, only show me the door to the garden. It is very warm; I wish to take the air for awhile—but no, there are undoubtedly trees in the garden; I prefer the open space, the field——"

"That is very simple, your highness; in descending from the gallery you will find yourself in the garden, from which a gate opens into the fields."

"Very well, then, my boy, conduct me there quickly. I long for the fields like a bird in a cage."

"Ah, it is not necessary, your highness; here is monsieur the baron, he will conduct you himself," said the lackey.

"To the devil with the baron!" thought Croustillac. The governor was not alone; Chemerant accompanied him.

"Faith, your highness," said the latter, "fortunately we see you risen. We came to wake you."

"To wake me—and why?"

"Wind and tide wait for no one. The tide goes out at three o'clock; it is now half-past two. It will take us a half hour to reach the mole, where the boat awaits us. We have just time to get there, your highness."

"Now, then, the die is cast," said Croustillac. "Let us try only to gain a few hours before being presented to my partisans. Sir, I am at your orders," added the adventurer, draping himself in a brown mantle which he had found with his clothes.

The governor felt it his duty to accompany, as escort, De Chemerant and the mysterious unknown to the mole; the flight of the Gascon was thus rendered absolutely impossible.

At the moment of quitting the governor, Chemerant said to him, "Sir, I will render to the king a full account of the efficient aid you have given me. I can now say it to you, the secret has been perfectly kept."

"But, sir, may I know what were these indications?" cried the baron, so poorly informed on what he was burning to know.

"You may be certain, baron," said Chemerant, cordially pressing his hand, "that the king will know all—and it will not be my fault if you are not rewarded as you deserve."

Thus saying, Chemerant gave the order to put off.

"If the king is to know all he will be much ahead of me," said the baron, slowly returning to his house. "What I have learned from the guards of the escort has only augmented my curiosity. It was hardly worth the trouble to toil and moil, and stay on one's feet all night, to be so badly informed of things of the greatest importance, taking place in my own government!"



CHAPTER XXXII.

THE FRIGATE.

The moon threw a brilliant light over the waters of Fort Royal. The long boat which bore Croustillac and his fortunes advanced rapidly toward the Thunderer, which was anchored at the entrance of the bay.

The Gascon, enveloped in his mantle, occupied the place of honor in the boat, which seemed to fly over the water.

"Sir," said he to Chemerant, "I wish to reflect ripely on the discourse which it is my intention to address to my partisans; you comprehend—it is necessary that I pronounce a sort of manifesto in which I disclose my political principles; that I tell them my hopes in order to make them partakers in them; that, in fine, I give them, in a manner, a plan of campaign; now all this needs long elaboration. These are the bases of our undertaking. It is necessary to disclose all to them—the consequences of the alliance, or rather the moral, that is to say material support which England lends us, or rather France—In short," said Croustillac, who began to be singularly mixed up in his politics, "I do not wish to receive my partisans till to-morrow, in the morning. I wish, even, that my arrival on board should be conducted as quietly as possible."

"It is very probable, my lord, that all these brave gentlemen are asleep, for they did not know at what hour your highness was to arrive."

"This mad—this brave Mortimer is capable of waiting up all night for me," said Croustillac, with disquietude.

"That is not to be doubted, your highness, by one who knows the ardent impatience with which he desires your return."

"Hold, sir," said the Gascon, "between you and me, I know my Mortimer; he is very nervous, very impressionable. I should fear for him—a shock, a too sudden effect of joy, should I appear abruptly before him. Thus, in going aboard I shall take the precaution of well wrapping myself up in order to escape his eyes—and even if he asks you if I shall soon arrive, oblige me by answering him in an evasive manner. In this way we can prepare him for an interview, which without these precautions might prove fatal to this devoted friend."

"Ah! fear nothing, your highness; excess of joy can never be fatal."

"Indeed, you deceive yourself, sir; without taking account of a thousand general facts with which I might corroborate my opinion, I will cite on this subject a fact quite personal and particular to the very man of whom we are now talking."

"To Lord Mortimer?"

"To him, sir. I shall never forget that once I saw him seized with frightful convulsions under circumstances almost similar. There were nervous starts—swoons——"

"However, your highness, Lord Mortimer has an athletic constitution."

"An athletic constitution? Come, then, it only remained that I should encounter a Hercules in this run-mad Pylades," thought Croustillac. He spoke aloud:

"You don't know, sir, that it is these very men of great strength who are just the ones who most keenly feel such shocks. I will even tell you—but this is entirely between ourselves—at least——"

"Your highness may be sure of my discretion."

"You will understand my reserve, sir. I will tell you then that, on the occasion of which I speak—this unfortunate Mortimer was so stupefied—(if it were not for our intimate friendship, I should say rendered stupid) by seeing too suddenly some one he had not met for a long time—that his head—you comprehend——"

"What, your highness, his reason——"

"Alas! yes, in this instance only—. You now comprehend why I demand secrecy of you?"

"Yes, yes, your highness."

"But that was not all; the shock suffered by poor Mortimer was such that, after having remained several moments stupefied with surprise, he no longer recognized this person; no, sir, he did not recognize him, though he had seen him a thousand times!"

"Is it possible, your highness?" said De Chemerant, in a tone of respectful doubt.

"It is, alas! only too true, sir, for you have no idea of the excitability of this good fellow. So I, who am his friend, should watch carefully that no trouble come to him. Think, then, if I should expose him to the risk of not knowing me. Mortimer is now the one whom I love most in the world, and you know, alas! sir, if the consolations of friendship are necessary to me."

"Still these unhappy memories, your highness?"

"Yes, I am weak, I own it—it is stronger than I."

"What is this ship anchored not far from the frigate?" demanded De Chemerant of the master of the long boat, in order to change the conversation, out of regard for the feelings of the supposed duke.

"That, sir, is a merchantman, which arrived last night from St. Pierre," said the sailor, respectfully removing his cap.

"Ah! I know," said De Chemerant; "it is probably the ship of that fool of a merchant-captain who demanded our escort. But here we are, your highness—the lights are all out—you are not expected."

"So much the better, so much the better; provided Mortimer is not there."

"It seems to me that I see him on the bridge, your highness."

Croustillac raised his mantle almost to his eyes.

"Ah! there is the officer of the watch on the ladder. What a pity to arrive so late, your highness. It is to the beat of drums, the flourish of trumpets, that your highness should have been received, with the ship's crew presenting arms."

"Honors to-morrow—honors to-morrow," said Croustillac; "the hour of these frivolities always comes soon enough."

Chemerant drew aside to allow the Gascon to mount the ladder first. The latter breathed freely again on seeing on deck only an officer of marines, who received him with bared head and a profoundly respectful air. Croustillac responded with great dignity, and above all, very briefly, enveloping himself in his mantle with the utmost care, and casting uneasy glances around him, fearing to see the terrible Mortimer. Fortunately he saw only the sailors talking together or reclining by the side of the guns.

The officer, who was speaking in a low tone to De Chemerant, saluting Croustillac again, said to him:

"Your highness, since you command it, I will not awaken the captain, and I shall have the honor of conducting you to your cabin."

Croustillac inclined his head.

"Till to-morrow, your highness," said De Chemerant.

"Till to-morrow," responded the adventurer.

The officer descended by the hatchway to the gun-deck, opened the door of a large, wide cabin perfectly lighted by a skylight, and said to the Gascon: "Your highness, there is your cabin; there are two other small rooms to the right and left."

"This is admirable, sir; do me the favor, I pray you, to give the strictest orders that no one enters my cabin to-morrow until I call. No one, sir, you understand—absolutely no one!—this is of the last importance."

"Very well, my lord. Your highness does not wish that I should send one of the people to assist you to disrobe?"

"I am a soldier, sir," said Croustillac proudly, "and I disrobe without assistance."

The young officer bowed, taking this response for a lesson in stoicism; he went out, ordering one of the orderlies to allow no one to enter the cabin of the duke, and again ascended on deck to rejoin De Chemerant.

"Your duke is a veritable Spartan, my dear De Chemerant," said he to him. "Why! he has not brought even a lackey."

"That is true," responded De Chemerant; "such strange things have taken place on land that neither he nor I thought of it; but I will give him one of my people. Just now the important thing is to set sail."

"That is also the opinion of the captain. He gave me orders to wake him if you judged it necessary to depart at once."

"We will start on the instant, for both wind and tide are in our favor, I think," answered De Chemerant.

"So favorable," said the officer, "that if this wind holds, to-morrow by sunrise we shall no longer be able to see the shores of Martinique."

A half-hour after the arrival of the Gascon on board, the Thunderer got under sail with an excellent breeze from the southwest.

When De Chemerant saw the frigate leaving the roads, he could not refrain from rubbing his hands, saying to himself, "Faith it is not that I am vain and boastful, but I would only have given this mission in a hundred to the most skillful of men—to unravel the projects of the English envoy, to conquer the scruples of the duke, to aid him to revenge himself on a guilty wife, to tear him by force of eloquence from the overwhelming feelings this conjugal accident has roused in his soul, to bring him back to England at the head of his partisans—by my faith, Chemerant, my friend, that was left to you to do! Your fortune, already on the road to success, behold it forever assured; this good success delights me the more that the king regards this affair as important. Once more, bravo!"

Chemerant with a light and joyful heart slept, cradled by the most pleasing and ambitious thoughts.

It was half-past ten in the morning; the wind was fresh, the sea a little rough, but very beautiful; the Thunderer left behind her a shining wake. The land was no longer to be seen. The ship was in mid-ocean.

The officer of the watch, armed with a glass, examined with attention a three-masted vessel about two cannon shots distant, which kept precisely the same route as the frigate and sailed as quickly as she did, although carrying a few light sails the less.

On the extreme horizon the officer remarked also another ship which he as yet distinguished vaguely, but which seemed to follow the same direction as the three-master, whose maneuver we have just pointed out. Wishing to find out if this latter ship would persist in imitating the movements of the Thunderer, the officer ordered the man at the wheel to bear away a little more to the north.

The three-master bore away a little more to the north.

The officer gave orders to bear away to the west.

The three-master bore away to the west.

More annoyed than startled at this persistence, because the three-master was not capable of a struggle with a frigate, the officer, by the order of the captain, tacked about and sailed straight down upon the importunate vessel.

The importunate three-master tacked about also, and continued to scrupulously imitate the evolutions of the frigate, and sailed in concert with her, but always beyond reach of her guns.

The captain, irritated by this, veered about and ran straight down upon the three-master. The three-master proved that she was, if not a better sailer, at least as good a one as the frigate, which was never able to shorten the distance between them. The captain, not wishing to lose precious time in this useless chase, resumed his course.

The vexatious three-master also resumed its course.

This mysterious ship was no other than the peaceable Unicorn. Captain Daniel, in spite of the refusal of De Chemerant, had judged it proper to attach himself obstinately to the Thunderer until they reached the open sea.

A new personage appeared on the deck of the frigate. This was a man of about fifty years of age, large, stout, wearing a buff coat with wide scarlet breeches, and boots of sheepskin. His hair and mustache were red, his eyes light blue, the eyeballs veined with little vessels which the slightest emotion injected with blood, showing a violent and passionate temper.

We hasten to inform the reader that this athletic personage was the most fanatical of all the fanatical partisans of Monmouth, and he would have thought himself a thousand times blessed to have shared the fate of Sidney; in a word, this man was Lord Percy Mortimer. His disquietude, his agitation, his impatience, were inexpressible; he could not stay in one place a moment.

Twenty times had Lord Mortimer descended to the door of Croustillac's cabin to know if "my lord the duke" had not asked for him. In vain had he implored the officer to send word to the duke that Mortimer, his best friend, his old companion in arms, wished to throw himself at his feet; his wishes were vain, the orders of the unhappy Croustillac, who regarded each minute gained as a precious conquest, were rigorously carried out.

Chemerant also went upon deck, clothed in a magnificent dress, his air radiant and triumphant; he seemed to say to all: "If the prince is here, that is thanks to my ability, to my courage." Seeing him, Mortimer approached him quickly.

"Well, sir," he said to him, "may we know at last at what hour the duke will receive us?"

"The duke has forbidden any one to enter his apartment without his order."

"I am on red-hot coals," replied Mortimer; "I shall never forgive myself for having gone to bed this night, and not to have been the first to press our James in my arms, to throw myself at his feet—to kiss his royal hand."

"Ah, Lord Mortimer, you love our brave duke well?" said De Chemerant; "partisans such as you are rare!"

"If I love our James!" cried Mortimer, turning a deep and apoplectic red, "if I love him! Hold! I and Dick Dudley, my best friend, who loves the duke, not as much as I (we fought once because he made this absurd claim)—I and Dudley, I tell you, asked each other just now if we should have the strength to again see our James without giving way—like silly women."

"The duke was right," thought De Chemerant. "What enthusiasm! It is not attachment, it is frenzy." Mortimer resumed with vehemence: "This morning on rising we embraced each other; we committed a thousand extravagances on thinking we should see him again to-day. We could not believe it, and even yet I doubt it. Ah! what a day! what a day! To see again in flesh and blood a friend, a companion in arms whom we had believed dead, whom we had wept for for five years! Ah! you do not know how he was cherished and regretted, our James! How we recalled his bravery, his courage, his gayety! What happiness to say, not it was, but it is the heart of a king, a true heart of a king, that of our duke."

"It must be that this is true, my lord, since with the exception of yourself, of Lord Dudley, and this poor Lord Rothsay who, ill as he is from his old wounds, has chosen to accompany you, the other gentlemen who came to offer their arms, their lives and their fortunes to our duke, knew him only by reputation."

"And I should like well to see if, on his renown alone, and on our guarantee, they would not love him as much as we love him. This recalls to me that once I fought my friend Dick Dudley because he vowed he loved me a little more than our James!"

"The fact is, my lord," said De Chemerant, "that few princes are capable of inspiring such enthusiasm simply by their renown."

"Few princes, sir!" cried Lord Mortimer in a formidable voice, "few princes! Say, then, no other prince—ask Dudley!"

Lord Dudley appeared at this moment on the deck. The hair and mustache of this nobleman were black and beginning to turn gray; in stature, strength, and stoutness there was a great conformity between him and Mortimer; true types (physically speaking) of what are called gentlemen-farmers.

"What's the matter, Percy?" said Lord Dudley familiarly to his friend.

"Is it not true, Dick, that no prince can be compared with our James?"

"Excepting our worthy friends and allies on this vessel, any dog who dares maintain that James is not the best of men I will beat him till the blood comes, and cut him in quarters," said this robust personage, striking with one of his fists the gunwale of the ship. Then, addressing De Chemerant: "But now you know him as well as we—you, the chosen you, the happy man who saw him first! Your hand, De Chemerant, your brave and loyal hand—more brave and more loyal, if it is possible, since it has touched that of our duke!"

Dudley violently shook the right hand of De Chemerant, while Mortimer shook no less violently the left hand.

There is nothing more contagious than enthusiasm. The partisans of Monmouth had one by one come up on deck and grouped themselves around the two noblemen—all wishing in their turn to press the hand which had touched that of the prince.

"Ah! gentlemen, I suspect that his grace puts off the honor of seeing you. He fears the emotion inseparable from such a moment."

"And we, then!" cried Dudley. "It is now about forty days since we left Rochelle, is it not? Well, may I die if I have slept more than three or four hours any night, and then the sleep, at once agitated and pleasant, that one sleeps on the eve of a duel—when one is sure of killing one's man. At least, that is the effect of this impatience on me. And you, Percy?" said the robust gladiator to Mortimer.

"On me, Dick?" responded the latter; "it has a contrary effect on me; every moment I wake with a start. It seems to me that I should sleep thus the eve of the day that I was going to be shot."

"As for me," said another gentleman, "I know the duke only from his portrait."

"I only from his renown."

"I, as soon as I knew that it concerned marching against the Orange faction—I quitted all, friends, wife, child."

"So did we——"

"Ah, sir, it is also for James of Monmouth," said another, "that is a name which is like the sound of a trumpet."

"It suffices to pronounce this name in Old England," said another, "to drive all these Holland rats into their marshes."

"Beginning with this William——"

"On my honor, gentlemen," said De Chemerant, "you make me almost proud of having succeeded so well in an enterprise which, I dare to say, is a very delicate one. I do not wish to attribute to my reasoning, to my influence, the resolution of the prince—but believe, at least, gentlemen, that I have known how to make good use with him of the enthusiasm with which his memory has inspired you."

"And so, our friend, we will never forget what you have done! You have brought him here to us—our duke!" cried Mortimer cordially.

"For that alone we owe you eternal gratitude," added Dudley.

"To see him! to see him," cried Mortimer in a new access of feeling, "to see him again whom we believed to be dead—to see him indeed face to face—to again find before our eyes this proud and noble figure—to see it again in the midst of the fire—the—the—ah, well—yes, I weep—I weep," cried the brave Mortimer, no longer restraining his emotion; "yes, I weep like a child, and a thousand thunderbolts crush those who do not comprehend that an old soldier thus can weep."

Emotion is as contagious as enthusiasm.

Dick, followed the example of his friend Percy, and the others did as Dick and his friend Percy did.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE JUDGMENT.

A new personage came to augment the number of the passionate admirers of Monmouth. There was seen advancing, supported by two servants, a man still young, but condemned to premature infirmity by numerous wounds.

Lord Jocelyn Rothsay, in spite of his sufferings, had wished to join himself to the partisans of the prince, and if not to fight for the cause that Monmouth was going to defend, at least to come before the duke and to be one of the first to felicitate him on his resurrection.

Lord Rothsay's hair was white, although his pale face was still young and his mustache was as black as his bold and brilliant eyes. Enveloped in a long dressing-gown, he advanced with difficulty, supported on the shoulders of the two servants.

"Here is the brave Rothsay who has as many wounds as hairs in his mustache," cried Lord Dudley.

"By the devil, who will not carry me away before I have seen our duke, at least," said Rothsay, "I will be, like you, one of the first to press his hand. Have I not, in my fresh youth, risked my life to hasten by a quarter of an hour a love tryst? Why should I not risk it in order to see our duke a quarter of an hour sooner?"

A man with troubled face appeared on deck shortly after Rothsay.

"My lord," said he entreatingly, "my lord, you expose your life by this imprudence! The least violent movement may renew the hemorrhage from this old wound which——"

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