The Constable leaned forward to see who spoke. “Ay, you’ve hit on it, my lad, whoever you are. Vlaye it is!” And he looked at Matignon, who nodded his adhesion.

Henry frowned. “I am coming to the matter of Vlaye,” he said.

“It is all one, sire,” Matignon replied, his eyes half shut. He wheezed a little in his speech.


The Constable explained. He leant forward and prodded the table with a short, stout finger–not overclean

according to the ideas of a later time. “Angoumois is there,” he said. “See, your Majesty. And Poitou is here”–with a second prod an inch from the first. “And the Limousin is here! And Périgord is there! And see, your Majesty, where their skirts all meet in this corner–or as good as meet–is Vlaye! Name of God, a strong place, that!” He turned for assent to old Matignon, who nodded silently.

“And you mean to say that Vlaye—-”

“Has been over heavy handed, your Majesty. And the clowns, beginning to find the thing beyond a joke, began by hanging three poor devils of toll gatherers, and the thing started. And 佛山桑拿js电话 what is on everybody’s frontier is nobody’s business.”

“Except mine,” the King muttered drily. “And Vlaye is Epernon’s man?”

“That is it, sire,” the Constable answered. “Epernon put him in the castle six

years back for standing by him when the Angoulême people rose on him. But the man is no Vlaye, you understand. M. de Vlaye was in that business and died of his wounds. He had no near heirs, and the man whom Epernon put in took the lordship as well as the castle, the name and all belonging to it. They call him the Captain of Vlaye in those parts.”

The King looked his astonishment.

“Oh, I could give you twenty cases!” the Constable continued, shrugging his shoulders. “What do you expect, sire, in such times as these?”

“Ventre St. Gris!” Henry swore. “And not content with what he has got, he robs the poor?”

“And the rich, too,” 佛山夜生活 Joyeuse murmured with a grin, “when he gets them into his net!”

Henry looked sternly from one to another. “But what do you while this goes on?” he said. “For shame! You, Constable? You, Matignon?” He turned from one to the other.

Matignon laughed wheezily. “Make me Governor in Epernon’s place, sire,” he said, “and I will account for him. But double work and single pay? No, no!”

The Constable laughed as at a great joke. “I say the same, sire,” he said. “While Epernon has the Angoumois it is his affair.”

The King looked stormily at the Governor of Poitou. But Poitou shook his head. “It is not in my government,” he said moodily. “I cannot afford, sire, to get a hornets’ nest about my ears for nothing.”

He of the Limousin fidgeted. “I say the same, sire,” he muttered. “Vlaye has three hundred spears. It would need an army to 佛山桑拿哪里有 reduce him. And I have neither men nor money for the task.”

“There you have, sire,” the delicate-faced Joyeuse cried gaily, “three hundred and one good reasons why the Limousin leaves the man alone. For the matter of that”–he tried to spin his pen like a top–“there is a government as deeply concerned in this as any that has been named.”

“Which?” Henry asked. He was losing patience. That which was so much to him was nothing to these.

“Périgord,” Joyeuse answered with a bow. And at that several laughed softly–but not the King. He was himself, as has been said, Governor of Périgord.

Here at last, however, was one on whom he could vent his displeasure; and he would vent it! “Stand up, des Ageaux!” he cried harshly. And he scowled as des Ageaux, who was somewhat like him in feature, rose from his seat. “What have you to say, 佛山夜网论坛 man?” Henry cried. “For yourself and for me! Speak, sir!” But before des Ageaux could answer, the King broke out anew–with abuse, with reproaches, giving his passion rein; while the great Governors listened and licked their lips, or winked at one another, when the King hit them a side blow. Presently, when des Ageaux would have defended himself, alleging that he was no deeper in fault than others,

“Ventre St. Gris! No words, sir!” Henry retorted. “I find kings enough here, I want not you in the number! I made not you that I might have your nobility cast in my teeth! You are not of the blood royal, nor even,” leaning a little on the word, “Joyeuse or Epernon! Man, I made you! And not for show, I have enough of that–but to be of use and service, for common needs and not for parade–like the gentleman,” bitterly, “who deigns to 佛山夜生活地址 represent me in the Limousin, or he who is so good as to sign papers for me in Poitou! Man alive, it might be thought you were peer and marshal, from your way of idling here, while robbers ride your marches, and my peasants are driven to revolt. Go to, do you think you are one of these?” He indicated by a gesture the great lords who sat nearest him. “Do you think that because I made you, I cannot unmake you?”

The man on whom the storm had fallen bore it not ignobly. It has been said that he featured Henry himself, being prominent of nose, with a grave face, a brown beard, close-cropped, and a forehead high and severe. Only in his eyes shone, and that rarely, a gleam of humour. Now the sweat stood on his brow as he listened–they were cruel blows, the position a cruel one. Nevertheless, when the King paused, and he had room to 佛山桑拿全套一条龙服务 answer, his voice was steady.

“I claim, sire,” he said, “no immunity. Neither that, nor aught but the right of a soldier, who has fought for France—-”

“And gallantly!” struck in one, who had not yet spoken–Lesdiguières, the Huguenot, the famous Governor of Dauphiny. He turned to the King. “I vouch for it, sire,” he continued. “And M. de Joyeuse, who has the better right, will vouch for it, too.”

But Joyeuse, who was sulkily prodding the table with his spoiled pen, neither lifted his eyes nor gave heed. He was bitterly offended by the junction of his name with that of Epernon, who, great and powerful as he was, had had a notary for his father. He was silent.

Des Ageaux, who had looked at him as hoping something, lifted his eyes. “Your Majesty will do me the justice to remember,” he said, “that I had your order to have a special care of my province; and to mass what force I could in Périgueux. Few men as I have—-”

“You build them up within walls!” Henry retorted.

“But if I lost Périgueux—-”

The King snarled.

“Or aught happened there?”

“You would lose your head!” Henry returned. He was thoroughly out of temper. “By the Lord,” he continued, “have I no man in my service? Must I take this fellow of Vlaye into hire because I have no honest man with the courage of a mouse! You call yourself Lieutenant of Périgord, and this happens on your border. I have a mind to break you, sir!”

Henry seldom let his anger have vent; and the man who stood before him knew his danger. From a poor gentleman of Brittany with something of pedigree but little of estate, he had risen to this post which eight out of ten at that table grudged him. He saw it slipping away; nay, falling from him–falling! A moment might decide his fate.

In the pinch his eyes sought Joyeuse, and the appeal in them was not to be mistaken. But the elegant sulked, and would not see. It was clear that, for him, des Ageaux might sink. For himself, the Lieutenant doubted if words would help him, and they might aggravate the King’s temper. He was bravely silent.

It was Lesdiguières, the Huguenot, who came to the rescue. “Your Majesty is a little hard on M. des Ageaux,” he said. And the King’s lieutenant in Périgord knew why men loved the King’s Governor in Dauphiny.

“In his place,” Henry answered wrathfully, “I would pull down Vlaye if I did it with my teeth. It is easy for you, my friend, to talk,” he continued, addressing the Huguenot leader. “They are not your peasants whom this rogue of a Vlaye presses, nor your hamlets he burns. I have it all here–here!” he repeated, his eyes kindling as he slapped with his open hand one of the papers before him, “and the things he has done make my blood boil! I swear if I were not King I would turn Crocan myself! But these things are little thought of by others. M. d’Epernon supports this man, and”–with a sudden glance at Matignon–“the Governor of Guienne makes use of his horses when he travels to see the King.”

Matignon laughed something shamefacedly. “Well, sire, the horses have done no harm,” he said. “Nor he in my government. He knows better. And things are upside down thereabouts.”

“It is for us to right them!” Henry retorted. And then to des Ageaux, but with less temper. “Now, sir, I lay my order on you! I give you six weeks to rid me of this man, Vlaye. Fail, and I put in your place a man who will do it. You understand, Lieutenant? Then do not fail. By the Lord, I know not where I shall be bearded next!”

He turned then, but still muttering angrily, to other business. Matignon and the Constable were not concerned in this; and as soon as the King’s shoulder was towards them they winked at one another. “Your nephew will not have long to wait,” Matignon whispered, “if a lieutenancy will suit him.”