“Perhaps he was pressed for time. His life perhaps depended upon his escape. He may have dropped the cloak,” shrewdly, “and some friend found it and returned it to the Chevalier. A plausible supposition, as you will agree.”
“You may tell me a lie,” said D’Herouville, thoughtfully.
“It would not be necessary, Monsieur le Comte,” returned the vicomte, suggestively tapping his sword.
BRETON FINDS A MARKER FOR HIS COPY OF RABELAIS
After the calm the storm came, after the storm the rough winds and winnowed skies. At one moment the ship threatened to leap to heaven, at another, to plunge down to the sea’s floor. Breton had a time of it one afternoon in the cabin. He was buffeted about like maize in a heated pan. He fell, and in trying to save himself he clutched at the garments hanging from the hooks. The cloth gave. The pommel of the Chevalier’s rapier hit him in the forehead, cutting and dazing him. He rose, staggering, and indulged in a little profanity which made him eminently human. One by one he gathered up the fallen garments and cloaks. It was haphazard work: for now the floor was where the partition had been, and the ceiling where the bunk had stood. Keys had rolled from the Chevalier’s pockets—keys, coins, and rings; and Breton scrambled and slid around on his hands and knees till he had recovered these treasures, which he knew to be all his master had. He thought of the elegant rubies and sapphires and topaz of the garters he had ordered for his master but four months gone. And that mysterious lady of high degree? Paris! Alas, Paris was so far away that he, Breton, was like to see it never again.
He stood up, balanced himself, and his eye caught sight of the grey cloak, which lay crumpled under the bunk.
“Ah! so it is you, wretched cloak, that gave way when I clung to you for help?” He stooped and dragged it forth by its skirts. “So it was you?” swinging it fiercely above his head and balancing himself nicely. The bruise on his forehead made him savage. “Whatever made me bring you to the Corne d’Abondance? What could you not tell, if voice were given to you? And Monsieur Paul used to look so fine in it! You make me cold in the spine!” He shook it again and again, then hung it up by the torn collar, which had yielded over-readily to his frenzied grasp.
As the ache in his head subsided, so diminished the strength of his wrath; and he went out to ask the Chevalier if he should keep the valuables in his own pocket or replace them in the pocket of the pantaloons from which they had fallen. The Chevalier took the rings and slipped them on his fingers, all save the signet ring, which he handed to his lackey.
“Keep this, lad, till I ask for it,” was all he said.
Breton put the ring in the little chamois bag which his mother had given him. The ring rattled against a little silver crucifix. The lad then returned to the cabin and read his favorite book till his eyes grew weary. He looked about for a marker and espied some papers on the floor. These he thrust into his place and fell to dreaming.