Half blinded by tears Andre-Louis stumbled after them when they bore the body into the inn. Upstairs in the little room to which they conveyed it, he knelt by the bed, and holding the dead man’s hand in both his own, he swore to him out of his impotent rage that M. de La Tour d’Azyr should pay a bitter price for this.
“It was your eloquence he feared, Philippe,” he said. “Then if I can get no justice for this deed, at least it shall be fruitless to him. The thing he feared in you, he shall fear in me. He feared that men might be swayed by your eloquence to the undoing of such things as himself. Men shall be swayed by it still. For your eloquence and your arguments shall be my heritage from you. I will make them my own. It matters nothing that I do not believe in your gospel of freedom. I know it — every word of it; that is all that matters to our purpose, yours and mine. If all else fails, your thoughts shall find expression in my living tongue. Thus at least we shall have frustrated his vile aim to still the voice he feared. It shall profit him nothing to have your blood upon his soul. That voice in you would never half so relentlessly have hounded him and his as it shall in me — if all else fails.”
It was an exulting thought. It calmed him; it soothed his grief, and he began very softly to pray. And then his heart trembled as he considered that Philippe, a man of peace, almost a priest, an apostle of Christianity, had gone to his Maker with the sin of anger on his soul. It was horrible. Yet God would see the righteousness of that anger. And in no case — be man’s interpretation of Divinity what it might — could that one sin outweigh the loving good that Philippe had ever practised, the noble purity of his great heart. God after all, reflected Andre-Louis, was not a grand-seigneur.
THE LORD OF GAVRILLAC
For the second time that day Andre-Louis set out for the chateau, walking briskly, and heeding not at all the curious eyes that followed him through the village, and the whisperings that marked his passage through the people, all agog by now with that day’s event in which he had been an actor.
He was ushered by Benoit, the elderly body-servant, rather grandiloquently called the seneschal, into the ground-floor room known traditionally as the library. It still contained several shelves of neglected volumes, from which it derived its title, but implements of the chase — fowling-pieces, powder-horns, hunting-bags, sheath-knives — obtruded far more prominently than those of study. The furniture was massive, of oak richly carved, and belonging to another age. Great massive oak beams crossed the rather lofty whitewashed ceiling.
Here the squat Seigneur de Gavrillac was restlessly pacing when Andre-Louis was introduced. He was already informed, as he announced at once, of what had taken place at the Breton arme. M. de Chabrillane had just left him, and he confessed himself deeply grieved and deeply perplexed.