He shrugged his shoulders. “Ay, ay, mademoiselle,” he said, “but we have no orders and the door is locked, and he has the key.”
“You could do something there?”
“Ay, if we had orders.”
She flew to the Vicomte at that. “Some one should be holding the roof, sir,” she said. “Solomon and Fulbert could maintain it awhile. Could you not give them orders?”
He swore at her. “We are mad to be here,” he exclaimed, veering about on an instant. “This comes of letting women have a voice! Silence, you hell-babes!” he continued, turning with his staff raised upon two of the women, who had chosen that moment to raise a new outcry. “We are all mad! Mad, I say!”
“I will silence them, sir,” she answered. And stepping on a bed, “Listen! Listen to me!” she cried stoutly. “We are in little danger here if we are quiet. Therefore let us make no noise. They will not then know where to find us. And let the men go to the door, and the maids to the other end of the room. And—-”
Shrieks stopped her. The two whom the Vicomte had upbraided flung themselves screaming on Solomon. “The window! The window!” they cried, glaring over their shoulders. And before the astonished old man could free himself, or the Vicomte give vent to his passion, “The window! They are coming in!” they shrieked.
The words were the signal for a wild rush towards the door. Two or three of the candles were knocked down, the Vicomte was well-nigh carried off his legs, the Abbess, who tried to rise, was pinned where she was by her women; who flung themselves on their knees before her and hid their faces in her robe. Only Bonne, interrupted in the midst of her appeal, retained both her presence of mind and her freedom of action. After obeying the generous instinct which bade her thrust the young Countess behind her, she remained motionless, staring intently at the window–staring in a mixture of hope and fear.
The hope was justified. They were the faces of friends that showed in the dark opening of the window. They were friends who entered–Charles first, that the alarm might be the sooner quelled, des Ageaux second; if first and second they could be called, when the feet of the two touched the floor almost at the same instant. But Charles wore a new and radiant face, and des Ageaux a look of command, that to Bonne after what she had gone through was as wine to a fainting man. There were some whom that look did not reach, but even these–women with their faces hidden–stilled their cries, and raised their heads when he spoke. For a trumpet could not have rung more firm in that panic-laden air.
“We are friends!” he said. “And we are in time! M. le Vicomte, we must act and ask your leave afterwards.” Turning again to the window he spoke to the night.
Not in vain. At the word troopers came tumbling in man after man; the foremost, a lean, lank-visaged veteran, who looked neither to right nor left, but in three strides, and with one salute in the Vicomte’s direction, put himself at the door and on guard. He had a long, odd-looking sword with a steel basket hilt, with which he signed to the men to stand here or there.
For they continued to come in, until the Vicomte, stunned by the sight of his son, awoke to fresh wonder; and, speechless, counted a round dozen and three to boot, besides his guest and Charles. Moreover they were men of a certain stamp, quiet but grim, who, being bidden, did and asked no questions.
When they had all filed through the group of staring women now fallen silent, and had ranged themselves beside the Bat–for he it was–at the door, des Ageaux spoke.
“Do you hear them?”
“No, my lord.”
“Unlock softly, then, but do not open! And wait the word! M. le Vicomte”–he turned courteously to the old man–“the occasion presses, or I would ask your pardon. Mademoiselle”–but as he turned to Bonne he lowered his voice, and what he said escaped other ears. Not her ears, for from brow to neck, though he had but praised her courage and firmness, she blushed vividly.
“I did only what I could,” she replied, lifting her eyes once to his and as quickly dropping 佛山桑拿按摩图 them. “Roger—-”
“Ha! What of Roger?”
She told him as concisely as she could.
He knit his brows. “That was not of my contrivance,” he said. And then with a gleam of humour in his eyes, “Masked was he? Another knight-errant, it seems, and less fortunate than the first! You do not lack supporters in your misfortunes, mademoiselle. But–what is it?”
“They come, my lord,” the Bat answered, raising his hand to gain attention.
All, at the word, listened with quickened pulses, and in the silence the harsh rending of wood came to the ear, a little dulled by distance. Then a murmur of voices, then another crash! The men about the door poised themselves, each with a foot advanced, and his weapon ready; their strained muscles and gleaming eyes told of their excitement. A moment and they would be let loose! A moment–and then, too late, Bonne saw Charles beside the Bat.
Too late; but 佛山桑拿洗浴 it mattered nothing. She might have spoken, but he, panting for the fight, exulting in the occasion, would not have heeded if an angel had spoken. And before she could find words, the thing was done. The Bat flung the door open, and with a roar of defiance the mob of men charged out and across the roof, Charles among the foremost.
A shot, a scream, a tumult of cries, the jarring of steel on steel, and the fight rolled down through the house in a whirl of strident voices. The candles, long-wicked and guttering, flamed wildly in the wind; the room was half in shadow, half in light. The Vicomte, who had seen all in a maze of stupefaction, stiffened himself–as the old war-horse that scents the battle. Bonne hid her face and prayed.
Not so the Abbess. She sat unmoved, a sneer on her face, a dark look in her eyes. And so Bonne, glancing up, saw her; and a strange pang shot through 佛山夜生活兼职mm the younger girl’s breast. If he had praised her courage–and that with a look and in a tone that had brought the blood to her cheeks–what would he think of her handsome sister? How could he fail to admire her, not for her beauty only, but for her stately pride, for the composure that not even this could alter, for the challenge that shone in her haughty eyes?
The next moment Bonne reproached herself for entertaining such a thought, while Charles’s life and perhaps Roger’s hung in the balance, and the cries of men in direst straits still rung in her ears. What a worm she was, what a crawling thing! God pardon her! God protect them!
The Abbess’s voice–she had risen at last and moved–cut short her supplications. “Who is he?” Odette de Villeneuve muttered in a fierce whisper. “Who is he, girl?” She pointed to des Ageaux, who kept his station on the threshold, his ear following the course of the fight. “Who is that man? They call 佛山桑拿网蒲友论坛 him my lord! Who is he?”
“I do not know,” Bonne said.
“You do not know?”
The candles flared higher. The Lieutenant turned and saw the two sisters standing together looking at him.
He crossed the room to them, halting midway to listen, his attention divided between them and the conflict below. His eyes dwelt awhile on the Abbess, but settled, as he drew nearer, on Bonne. He desired to reassure her. “Have no fear, mademoiselle,” he said quietly. “Your brother runs little risk. They were taken by surprise. By this time it is over.”
The Vicomte heard and his lips trembled, but no words came. It was the Abbess who spoke for him. “And what next?” she asked harshly.
Des Ageaux, still lending an ear to the sounds below, looked at her with attention, but did not answer.
“What next?” she repeated. “You have entered forcibly. By what right?”
“The right, mademoiselle,” he replied, “that every man has to resist a wrong. The right that every man has to protect women, and to save his friends. If you desire more than this,” he 佛山桑拿按摩技师网 continued, with a change of tone that answered the challenge of her eyes, “in the King’s name, mademoiselle, and my own!”
“And you are?”
“His Majesty’s Lieutenant in Périgord,” he answered, bowing. His attention was fixed on her, yet he was vividly conscious of the colour that mounted suddenly to Bonne’s cheeks, dyed her brows, shone in her eyes.
“Of Périgord?” the Abbess repeated in astonishment.
“Of Périgord,” he replied, bowing again. “It is true,”
he continued, shrugging his shoulders, “that I am a league or two beyond my border, but great wrongs beget little ones, mademoiselle.”