“My lord, you are mistaken,” said Max, impatiently, tossing the dagger to the floor and stepping back from the duke. A soft ripple of laughter was heard in the ladies’ gallery.
“No, it is not I that am mistaken,” said Charles. “It is Campo-Basso and his friends. Count Calli, prepare to give the combat to this knight, whoever he may be, and God have mercy on your soul, for the day of your death is at hand.”
Another ripple of soft laughter came from the ladies’ gallery.
“I cannot fight him,” wailed Calli. “I am suffering from a broken arm. My horse fell with me three weeks ago, as Your Grace well knows.”
“When your arm mends, you must fight and prove your cause, or by the soul of God, you hang! We’ll make a fete of this combat, and another of your funeral. There shall be a thousand candles, and masses sufficient to save the soul of Satan himself. My Lord Campo-Basso, let not the like of this happen again. Vengeance in Burgundy is mine, not my Italians’. Heralds, dismiss the company. These men are free.”
All departed save Castleman, Hymbercourt, Max, and myself, who remained at the duke’s request.
“If you will remain at the castle, you are most welcome,” said Charles, addressing Max and me.
I would have jumped at the offer, but Max thanked the duke and declined.
“We will, with Your Grace’s permission, remain at Grote’s inn for a short time and then ask leave to depart from Burgundy.”
The duke answered:—
“As you will. I do not press you. If you change your mind, come to the castle, and you will be very welcome.”
He turned and, with brief adieu, left the great-hall by the small door near the dais. Castleman, Hymbercourt, and Max passed out through the great doors, and I was about to follow them when I was startled by the voice I had heard in the night:—
“Little Max, Little Max,” came softly from the ladies’ gallery.
I paused to hear more, but all was silent in the great hall. The words could have come from no other lips than Yolanda’s—Mary’s. True, I reasoned, Yolanda might be one of the ladies of the court, perhaps a near relative of the duke. Once the horrifying thought that he was her lover came to my mind, but it fled instantly. There was no evil in Yolanda.
Max did not hear the voice. I intended to tell him of it when we should reach the inn, and I thought to tell him also that I believed Yolanda was the Princess Mary. I changed my mind, however, and again had reason to be thankful for my silence.
A LIVE WREN PIE
The next day came the invitation to sup at Castleman’s, and we were on hand promptly at the appointed time—four o’clock. Before leaving the inn I had determined to ask Castleman to satisfy my curiosity concerning Yolanda. With good reason I felt that it was my duty and my right to know certainly who she was. She might not be Mary of Burgundy, but she surely was not a burgher girl, and in some manner she was connected with the court of Duke Charles.