“I think,” said Blazius, when he could make himself heard, “that we had better pack up, and be off as soon as we can for Paris; the air is becoming decidedly unwholesome for us in this place.”
After a short discussion all the others agreed with him, and it was decided that they should take their departure from Poitiers the very next day.
It would be too long and tedious to follow our comedians, step by step, on their way up to Paris, the great capital. No adventures worthy of being recorded here befell them; as they were in good circumstances financially, they could travel rapidly and comfortably, and were not again subjected to such hardships and annoyances as they had endured in the earlier stages of their long journey. At Tours and Orleans they stopped to give a few representations, which were eminently successful, and very satisfactory to the troupe as well as the public. No attempt being made to molest them in any way, Blazius after a time forgot his fears, which had been excited by the vindictive character of the Duke of Vallombreuse, but Isabelle could not banish from her memory the wicked plot to abduct her, and many times saw again in her dreams Chiquita’s wild, weird face, with the long, tangled elf-locks hanging around it, just as it had appeared to her that dreadful night at the Armes de Frame, glaring at her with fierce, wolfish eyes. Then she would start up, sobbing and trembling, in violent agitation, and it required the most tender soothing from her companion, Zerbine, whose room she had shared ever since they quitted Poitiers, to quiet and reassure her. The soubrette, thoroughly enamoured of Isabelle as of old, was devoted to her, and took great delight in watching over and ministering to her; an own sister could not have been kinder or more affectionately considerate.
The only evidence that de Sigognac gave of the anxiety which he secretly felt, was his always insisting upon occupying the room nearest Isabelle’s, and he used to lie down in his clothes, with his drawn sword on the bed beside him, so as to be ready in case of any sudden alarm. By day he generally walked on in advance of the chariot, taking upon himself the duty of a scout; redoubling his vigilance wherever there happened to be bushes, thickets, high walls, or lurking places of any kind, favourable to an ambuscade, near the roadside. If he perceived from afar a group of travellers approaching, whose appearance seemed to him in the least suspicious, he would instantly draw his sword and fall back upon the chariot, around which the tyrant, Scapin, Blazius and Leander formed an apparently strong guard; though, of the last two mentioned, one was incapacitated for active service by age, and the other was as timid as a hare. Some times, varying his tactics like a good general, who thinks of and provides against every emergency, the baron would constitute himself a rear guard, and