“Des Ageaux–until he came and spoke gently to me and said, ‘do this, and do that, and you shall be as Gourdon or as Guesclin!’–even he could not promise me love–as I live, till then no man pitied me or gave me hope! And shall I let him die to save my stunted life?”

“But it is not the saving him that is in question,” the Duke replied gently, and with respect in his tone. He was honestly moved by this unveiling of poor Roger’s thoughts. “She saved him.”

“And I’ll save her,” Roger replied with fervour.佛山夜生活qq群 “I will save her though I die a hundred deaths. For she, too—-”

He paused. The Duke looked at him, a spice of humour mingling with his sympathy. “She, too, sees in you a man like other men,” he said, “I suppose?”

“She pitied me,” Roger answered. “No more; she pitied me, my lord! What more could she do, being what she is? And I being what I am?” His chin sank on his breast.

The Duke nodded kindly. “May-be,” he said. “Less likely things have happened.” And then, “But what will you do?” he asked.

“Go with her and see him, take him aside, and if he will fight me, well! And if he will not, I will strike him down where he stands!”

“But that will not save des Ageaux.”


“No! On the contrary, it will be he,” Joyeuse retorted somewhat grimly, “who will pay for it. Do you not see that?”

“Then I will wait,” Roger replied, “until he is released.”

“And then,” the Duke asked, still opposing, though the man and the plan were alike after his own heart, “what of the Countess? M. de Vlaye dead, who will protect her? His men—-”

“They would not dare!” Roger cried, trembling. “They would not dare!”

“Well, perhaps not,” the Duke answered, after a moment’s thought. “Perhaps not. Probably his lieutenant would protect her, for his own sake. And des Ageaux free would be worth two hundred men to us. Not that, if I were well, he would be in question. But I am but half a man, and we need him!”

“You shall have him,” Roger answered, his eyes glittering. “Have no doubt of it! But advise me, my lord. Were it better I escorted her to the gate and sought entrance later, after he had released des Ageaux? Or that I kept myself close until the time came?”

“The time? For what?”

The speaker was the Abbess. Unseen by the two men, she had that moment glided across the threshold. The pallor of her features and the brightness of her eyes were such as to strike both; but differently. To the Duke these results of a night passed in vivid emotions, and of a morning that had crowned her schemes with mockery, only brought her into nearer keeping with the dress she wore–only enhanced her charms. To her brother, on the other hand, who now hated Vlaye with a tenfold hatred, they were grounds for suspicion–he knew not why. But not even he came nearer to guessing the truth. Not even he dreamt that behind that 佛山夜生活网mask were passions at work which, had they discovered them, would have cast the Duke into a stupor deeper than any into which his own mad freaks had ever flung

a wondering world. As it was, the Duke’s eyes saw only the perfection of womankind; the lily of the garden, drooping, pale, under the woes of her frailer sisters. Of the jealousy with which she contemplated the surrender of her rival to her lover’s power, much less of the step which that surrender was pressing upon her, he caught no glimpse.

“The time for what?” the Duke repeated, with looks courteous to the point of reverence. “Ah–pardon, my sister, but we cannot take you into our counsel. Men must sometimes do things it is not for saints to know or women to witness.”

“Saints!” The involuntary irony of her tone must have penetrated ears less dulled by prejudgment. “佛山桑拿888网 Saints!” and then, “I am no saint, my lord,” she said modestly.

“Still,” he answered, “it were better you did not know, mademoiselle. It is but a plan

by which we think it possible that we may yet get the better of M. de Vlaye and save the child before–before, in fact—-”

“Ay?” the Abbess said, a flicker of pain in her eyes. “Before–I understand.”

“Before it be too late.”

“Yes. And how?”

The Duke shook his head with a smile meant to propitiate. “How?” he repeated. “That–pardon me–that is the point upon which–we would fain be silent.”

“Yet you must not be silent,” she replied. “You must tell me.” And pale, almost stern, she looked from one to the other, dominating them. “You must tell me,” she repeated. “Or perhaps,” fixing Roger with a glance keen as steel, “I know already. You would save her by killing him. It is 佛山桑拿会所全套流程 of that you are thinking. It is for that your horse is waiting saddled by the gate. You would ride after her, and gain access to him–and—-”

“She has not started?” Roger exclaimed.

“She started ten minutes ago,” the Abbess answered coldly. “Nay, stay!” For Roger was making for the door. “Stay, boy! Do you hear?”

“I cannot stay!”

“If you do not stay you will repent it all your life!” the Abbess made answer in a voice that shook even his resolution. “And she all hers! Ha! that stays you?” with a gleam of passion she could not restrain. “I thought it would. Now, if you will listen, I have something to say that will put another complexion on this.”

They gazed expectant, but she did not at once continue. She stood reflecting deeply; while each of her listeners regarded her after his knowledge of her; Roger sullenly and with 佛山桑拿按摩论坛0757 suspicion, doubting what she would be at, the Duke in admiration, expecting that with which gentle wisdom might inspire her.

Secretly she was heart-sick, and the sigh which she could not restrain declared it. But at last, “There is no need of violence,” she said wearily. “No,” addressing Roger, who had raised his hand in remonstrance, “hear me out before you interrupt me. How will the loss of a minute harm you? Or of five or ten? I repeat, there is no need of violence. Heaven knows there has been enough! We must go another way to work to release her. It is my turn now.”

“I would rather trust myself,” Roger muttered; but so low that the words, frank to rudeness, did not reach Joyeuse’s ears.

“Yet you must trust me,” she answered. “Do so, trust me, and follow my directions, and I will take on myself to say that before nightfall 佛山夜生活社交app she shall be free.”

“What are we to do?” the Duke asked.

“You? Nothing. I, all. I must take her place, as she has taken M. des Ageaux’.”

For an instant they were silent in sheer astonishment. Then, “But M. de Vlaye may have something to say to that!” Roger ejaculated before the Duke could find words. The lad spoke on impulse. He knew a little and suspected more of the lengths to which Vlaye’s courtship of his sister had gone.

If she had not put force on herself, she had flung him a retort that must have opened the Duke’s eyes. Instead, “I shall not consult M. de Vlaye,” she replied coldly. “I have visited him on various occasions, and we are on terms. My appearance in Vlaye, seeing that the Abbey of Vlaye is but a half-league from the town, will cause no surprise. Once in the town, if I can enter the castle and gain 佛山桑拿按摩qqspeech of the Countess, she may escape in my habit.”

“I hate this shifting and changing!” Roger grumbled.

“But if it will save her?”

“Ay, but will it?” Roger returned, shrugging his shoulders. He suspected that her aim was to save M. de Vlaye rather than the Countess. “Will it? Can you, in the first place, get speech of her?”