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“As you please for that.”

“I should have though that you had had enough of keeping people!” Roger retorted angrily.

“May-be Ampoule has,” the man answered with a faint sneer. “I’ll see if 长沙桑拿全套场子 I have not better luck. Come, young sir,” he continued with good-humour, “you cannot say that I have been aught but gentle so far. You’ve fared better with me, ay, a mort better, than 长沙桑拿推荐 you’d have fared if the Captain had been here. But I don’t want to have to hurt you if it comes to blows upstairs. You are safer here looking after the Duke. And trust me, you’ll thank me, some day.”

Roger glared at him in resentment. He felt that he who lay helpless in the corner would have known how to deal with the man and the situation; but, for himself, he did not. To attempt force was out of the question, and the trooper had withdrawn and closed the door, leaving Roger alone with the patient, before the idea of bribery occurred to the lad. It was as well perhaps; for what was there at Villeneuve, what had they in that poverty-stricken home 长沙桑拿最好的场子 of such a value as to outweigh the wrath of Vlaye? Or to corrupt men who had seen, without daring to touch, a ring worth a King’s ransom?

Nothing, for certain, which it was in Roger’s power to give. Moreover, the situation, though full of peril, seemed less desperate. The Duke’s act, if it had wrought no more, had sobered the men, and his presence, wounded as he was, was a factor Roger could not estimate. The respect with which the men treated him when he lay at their mercy, and their care to do the best for him, to say nothing of the feelings of awe and admiration in which they held him–these things promised well. The question was, how would his presence affect M. de Vlaye? And his pursuit of the Countess?

Roger had no notion. The possession of the person of a prince who ruled a great part of Languedoc might touch the 长沙桑拿按摩中心 Captain of Vlaye–a minnow by comparison, but in his own water–in a number of ways. It might strengthen him in his present design, or it might turn him from it by opening some new prospect to his ambition. Again, M. de Vlaye might treat the Duke in one of several modes; as an enemy, as a friend, as a hostage. He might use the occasion well or ill. He might work on fears or gratitude. All to Roger was dark and uncertain; as dark as the courtyard, where the flames of the huge fire had sunk low, and men by the dull glow of the red embers were removing in a cloak the body of the unfortunate Ampoule. Ay, and as uncertain as the breathing of the wounded man in the corner, which now seemed to stop, and now hurried weakly on.

Roger paced the room. He did not know for certain what had become of the Countess, or of his sister, or of 长沙桑拿论坛社区 his father. He took it for granted that they had sought the greater safety of the upper rooms. He had himself, earlier in the evening, suggested that if the worst threatened they might retreat to the tower chamber, and there defend themselves; but the Vicomte had pooh-poohed the suggestion, and though Bonne, who persisted in expecting help from outside, had supported it, the plan had been given up. Still they were gone, and they could have retired no other way. He listened at the locked door, hoping to hear feet on the stairs; for they must be anxious about him. But all was still. His sister, the Countess, the Vicomte, might have melted into the air–as far as he was concerned.

And this, anxious as he was for them, vexed him. He had failed! The long silence that had brooded over the decaying house, the dull life against which 长沙桑拿全套酒店 he and his brother had fretted, were come to an end with a vengeance. But what use had he made of the opportunity? When he should have been playing the hero upstairs, when he should have been the head and front of the defence, directing all, inspiring all, he lay here in a locked room like a naughty child who must be shielded from harm.

A movement on the part of the sick man cut short his thoughts. The Duke was making futile attempts to raise


himself on his elbow. “Ageaux! Des Ageaux!” he muttered. “You are satisfied now! I struck him fairly.”

Roger hurried to him and leant over him. “Lie still and do not speak,” he said, hoping to soothe him.

“We are quits now,” the Duke whispered. “We are quits now. Say so, man!” he continued querulously. “I tell you Vlaye will trouble you no more. I struck him fairly in the throat.长沙桑拿按摩贴吧”

“Yes, yes,” Roger replied. It was evident that the Duke was rambling in his mind, and took him for some one else. “We are quits now.”

“Quits,” the wounded man muttered, as if he found some magic in the words. And he drowsed off again into the half-sleep, half-swoon of exhaustion.

Roger could make nothing of it, except that the Duke had Vlaye in his mind, and fancied that it was he whom he had killed. But des Ageaux, whom he fancied he was addressing? Roger knew him by name and that he was Governor of Périgord, a man of name and position beyond his rank. But how came he in this galley? Oh, yes. He remembered now. His name had been mentioned in connection with the death of the eldest Joyeuse at Coutras.

Roger snuffed the candles, and mixing a little wine with water, put it by the Duke’s side. Then he wandered to the locked 长沙桑拿论坛 door, and again listened fruitlessly. Thence, for he could not rest, he went to the window, where he pressed his forehead against the cool glass. The fire had sunk lower; it was now no more than an angry eye glowing in the darkness. He could discern little by its light. No one moved, the courtyard seemed as vacant and deserted as the house. Or no. In the direction of the gate he caught the glint of a lanthorn and the movement of several figures, revealed for an instant and as suddenly obscured. He continued to watch the place where the light had vanished, and presently out of the obscurity grew a black mass that slowly took the form of a number of men crossing the court in a silent body, five or six abreast. The tramp of their feet, inaudible on the soil, rumbled hollowly as they mounted the bridge, which creaked beneath them. He caught the gleam of weapons, heard a low order given, fell back from the window. He had little doubt what they were about to do.

He was right. The heavy, noisy entry into the outer hall had scarcely prepared him before the door was thrown open and they filed into the room in which he stood.