At last the new Thespian chariot was ready for a start, and our travellers bade adieu to the hospitable chateau, where they had been so honourably received and so generously treated, and which they all, excepting poor Leander, quitted with regret. The tyrant dwelt upon the bountiful supply of pistoles he had received; the pedant upon the capital wines of which he had drunk his fill; Matamore upon the enthusiastic applause that had been lavished upon him by that aristocratic audience; Zerbine upon the pieces of rich silk, the golden necklaces and other like treasures with which her chest was replete—no wonder that it was heavy—while de Sigognac and Isabelle, thinking only of each other, and happy in being together, did not even turn their heads for one last glimpse of the handsome Chateau de Bruyere.
CHAPTER VI. A SNOW-STORM AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
As may be readily supposed, the comedians were well satisfied with the kind treatment they had received during their brief sojourn at the Chateau de Bruyeres; such a piece of good fortune did not often fall to their lot, and they rejoiced in it exceedingly. The tyrant had distributed among them each one’s share of the marquis’s liberal remuneration for their services, and it was wonderfully pleasant to them to have broad pieces in the purses usually so scantily supplied, and not infrequently quite empty. Zerbine, who was evidently rejoicing over some secret source of satisfaction, accepted good-naturedly all the taunts and jokes of her companions upon the irresistible power of her charms. She was triumphant, and could afford to be laughed at—indeed, joined heartily in the general merriment at her own expense—while Serafina sulked openly, with “envy, hatred, and malice” filling her heart. Poor Leander, still smarting from his severe beating, sore and aching, unable to find an easy position, and suffering agonies from the jolting of the chariot, found it hard work to join in the prevailing gaiety.
When he thought no one was looking at him, he would furtively rub his poor, bruised shoulders and arms with the palm of his hand, which stealthy manoeuvre might very readily have passed unobserved by the rest of the company, but did not escape the wily valet, who was always on the lookout for a chance to torment Leander; his monstrous self-conceit being intensely exasperating to him. A harder jolt than usual having made the unfortunate gallant groan aloud, Scapin immediately opened his attack, feigning to feel the liveliest commiseration for him.
“My poor Leander, what is the matter with you this morning? You moan and sigh as if you were in great agony! Are you really suffering so acutely? You seem to be all battered and bruised, like the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance, after he had capered stark naked, for a love penance, among the rocks in the Sierra Morena, in humble imitation of his favourite hero, Amadis de Gaul. You look as if you had not slept at all last night, and had been lying upon hard sticks, rods, or clubs, instead of in a soft, downy bed, such as were given to the rest of us in the fine chateau yonder. Tell us, I pray you, did not Morpheus once visit you all the night through?”