“They made us prisoners; they bring us here. Oh, m’sieur, it is terrible!” said the baroness.
“And he is such a horrible-looking monkey!” said Louison.
“Do they treat you well?” I asked.
“We have a big room and enough to eat. It is not a bad prison, but it is one terrible place,” said the baroness. “There is a big wall; we cannot go beyond it.”
“And that hairy thing! He is in love with Louise. He swears he will never let us go,” said Louison, in a whisper, as she came close to me, “unless—unless she will marry him.”
“Ah! a tea-party,” said his Lordship, coming toward us. “Pardon the interruption. I have promised to return these men at nine. It is now ten minutes of the hour. Ladies, I wish you all a very good night.”
He bowed politely. They pressed my hand, leaving me with such anxiety in their faces that I felt it more than my own peril, Louison gave me a tender look out of her fine eyes, and the thought of it was a light to my soul in many an hour of darkness. She had seemed so cool, so nonchalant, I was surprised to feel the tremor in her nerves. I knew not words to say when Louise took my hand.
“Forgive me—good-by!” said she.
It was a faint whisper out of trembling lips. I could see her soul in her face then. It was lighted with trouble and a nobler beauty than I had ever seen. It was full of tenderness and pity and things I could not understand.
“Have courage!” I called as they went away.
I was never in such a fierce temper as when, after they had gone above-stairs, I could hear one of them weeping. D’ri stood quietly beside me, his arms folded.
“Whut ye goin’ t’ dew with them air women?” he asked, turning to the young man.
“I beg you will give me time to consider,” said his Lordship, calmly, as he lighted a cigarette.
There was a quick move in the big tower of bone and muscle beside me. I laid hold of D’ri’s elbow and bade him stop, or I fear his Lordship’s drawing-room, his Lordship, and ourselves would presently have had some need of repair. Four guards who seemed to be waiting in the hall entered hurriedly, the shackles in hand.
“No haste,” said his Lordship, more pleasantly than ever. “Stand by and wait my orders.”
“D’ ye wan’ t’ know whut I think o’ you?” said D’ri, looking down at him, his eyes opening wide, his brow wrinkling into long furrows.
“I make a condition,” said his Lordship: “do not flatter me.”
“Yer jest a low-lived, mis’able, wuthless pup,” said D’ri,
“Away with them!” said his Lordship, flicking the ashes off a cigarette as he rose and walked hurriedly out of the room.
The waiting guards laid hold of us in a twinkling, and others came crowding the doors. They shackled our hands behind us, and covered our eyes again. Dark misgivings of what was to come filled me, but I bore all in silence. They shoved us roughly out of doors, and there I could tell they were up to no child’s play. A loud jeer burst from the mouths of many as we came staggering out. I could hear the voices of a crowd. They hurried us into a carriage.