Meantime the old man was wearied out; and after due courtesies had passed between him and the lady in the dark, he prayed long and fervently, as Eustacie could judge from the intensity of the low murmurs she heard; and then she heard him, with a heavy irrepressible sigh, lie down on the couch of hay he had already prepared for himself, and soon his regular breathings announced his sound slumbers. She was already on the bed she had so precipitately quitted, and not a thought more did she give to the Templars, living or dead, even though she heard an extraordinary snapping and hissing, and in the dawn of the morning saw a white weird thing, like a huge moth, flit in through the circular window, take up its station on a beam above the hay, and look down with the brightest, roundest eyes she had ever beheld. Let owls and bats come where they would, she was happier than she had been for months. Compassion for herself was plentiful enough, but to have heard Berenger spoken of with love and admiration seemed to quiet the worst ache of her lonely heart.
CHAPTER XVIII. THE MOONBEAM
She wandered east, she wandered west,
She wandered out and in;
And at last into the very swine’s stythe
The queen brought forth a son.—Fause Foodrage
The morrow was Sunday, and in the old refectory, in the late afternoon, a few Huguenots, warned by messages from the farm, met to profit by one of their scanty secret opportunities for public worship. The hum of the prayer, and discourse of the pastor, rose up through the broken vaulting to Eustacie, still lying on her bed; for she had been much shaken by the fatigues of the day and alarm of the night, and bitterly grieved, too, by a message which Nanon conveyed to her, that poor Martin was in no state to come for her in the next day; but he and his wife having been seized upon by Narcisse and his men, and so savagely beaten in order to force from them a confession of her hiding-place, that both were lying helpless on their bed; and could only send an entreaty by the trustworthy fool, that Rotrou would find means of conveying Madame into Chollet in some cart of hay or corn, in which she could be taken past the barriers.
But this was not to be. Good Nanon had sacrificed the sermon to creep up to Eustacie, and when the congregation were dispersing in the dusk, she stole down the stairs to her husband; and a few seconds after he was hurrying as fast as detours would allow him to Blaise’s farm. An hour and a half later, Dame Perrine, closely blindfolded for the last mile, was dragged up the spiral staircase, and ere the bandage was removed heard Eustacie’s voice, with a certain cheeriness, say, ‘Oh! nurse; my son will soon come!’
The full moon gave her light, and the woman durst not have any other, save from the wood-fire that Nanon had cautiously lighted and screened. The moonshine was still supreme, when some time later a certain ominous silence and half-whisper between the two women at the hearth made Eustacie, with a low cry of terror, exclaim, ’Nurse, nurse, what means this? Oh! He lives! I know he lives! Perrine, I command you tell me!’