Mauprat eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 382 pages of information about Mauprat.
and example for my youth, and life went on merrily.  All notions of justice were scoffed at; creditors were defrauded of both interest and capital; any law officer who ventured to serve a summons received a sound thrashing, and the mounted police were fired on if they approached too near the turrets.  A plague on parliament; starvation to all imbued with the new philosophy; and death to the younger branch of the Mauprats—­such were the watchwords of these men who, to crown all, gave themselves the airs of knights-errant of the twelfth century.  My grandfather talked of nothing but his pedigree and the prowess of his ancestors.  He regretted the good old days when every lordling had instruments of torture in his manor, and dungeons, and, best, of all cannon.  In ours we only had pitchforks and sticks, and a second-rate culverin which my Uncle John used to point—­and point very well, in fact—­and which was sufficient to keep at a respectful distance the military force of the district.

II

Old Mauprat was a treacherous animal of the carnivorous order, a cross between a lynx and a fox.  Along with a copious and easy flow of language, he had a veneer of education which helped his cunning.  He made a point of excessive politeness, and had great powers of persuasion, even with the objects of his vengeance.  He knew how to entice them to his castle, where he would make them undergo frightful ill-treatment, for which, however, having no witnesses, they were unable to obtain redress by law.  All his villainies bore the stamp of such consummate skill that the country came to view them with a sort of awe akin to respect.  No one could ever catch him out of his den, though he issued forth often enough, and apparently without taking many precautions.  In truth, he was a man with a genius for evil; and his sons, bound to him by no ties of affection, of which, indeed, they were incapable, yet acknowledged the sway of this superior evil genius, and gave him a uniform and ready obedience, in which there was something almost fanatic.  He was their deliverer in all desperate cases; and when the weariness of confinement under our chilly vaults began to fill them with ennui, his mind, brutal even in jest, would cure them by arranging for their pleasure shows worthy of a den of thieves.  Sometimes poor mendicant monks collecting alms would be terrified or tortured for their benefit; their beards would be burned off, or they would be lowered into a well and kept hanging between life and death until they had sung some foul song or uttered some blasphemy.  Everybody knows the story of the notary who was allowed to enter in company with his four clerks, and whom they received with all the assiduity of pompous hospitality.  My grandfather pretended to agree with a good grace to the execution of their warrant, and politely helped them to make an inventory of his furniture, of which the sale had been decreed.  After this, when dinner was served and the king’s men had taken their places at table, he said to the notary: 

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Mauprat from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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