“You and Sir Max will, if you please, find good lodging at the Great Tun. My friend will send a man in advance to bespeak your comfort.”
Max and I rose to leave, and Yolanda offered him her hand, saying:—
“It may be that we are to part here at Metz, but I will send for you soon and will see you before we leave, and—and—” She could not speak further; tears were in her eyes and her voice. It was not so easy after all to be happy and brave.
“You will not fail to send for me?” asked Max, clinging to her hand.
“I will not fail,” she answered, looking up timidly and instantly dropping her eyes. “Of that you have better assurance than you will ever know.”
Castleman followed us to the street door and handed me a purse of gold.
“I have expected to part from you here,” he said, “and it may be so; but I fear I shall need your services still further. My mules are unfit to travel at present; they may never be fit to use; surely not within a fortnight. I must find other sumpter mules, wait for those I have to regain their strength, or leave my goods at Metz. My fortune is invested in these silks, and if I leave them here, I shall never see them again. In case the Duke of Lorraine succeeds in rallying his subjects against Burgundy, I shall find it difficult to buy sumpter mules on the eve of war, and may be compelled to remain in Metz until my own mules are able to travel. In that event may I depend upon you and Sir Max to escort my niece and my daughter to Peronne without me?”
I answered promptly, though against my desires:—“You may depend on us.”
At midnight I was aroused by a knock at my door. I arose and admitted Castleman.
“I will take you at your word, Sir Karl,” said the burgher. “I cannot obtain sumpter mules, and I shall be ruined in fortune if I leave my silks at Metz. I have had word that the Duke of Burgundy leaves Ghent the day after to-morrow for Peronne. If he leaves late in the day, you may, by starting at once, reach Peronne Castle ahead of him. His journey will be shorter than yours by twenty-five leagues, but you will have a better road. If you travel with all haste, you may be able to take Yolanda, with—with the important papers, to the castle a half-day before my lord arrives there. Are you ready to begin the journey at once?”
“We are ready,” answered Max.
“I will meet you at the Deutsches Thor Gate within an hour,” said Castleman. “My daughter and my niece will be there. Since you are to travel rapidly I advise a small retinue. Your squires have proved themselves worthy men, and I feel sure you will be able to protect your charges.”
“We’ll not boast of what we shall do, good Castleman,” said Max, “but we’ll do our best.”