CHAPTER XXVII. THE DYING KING
Die in terror of thy guiltiness,
Dream on, dream on of bloody deeds and death,
Fainting, despair, despairing yield thy breath
KING RICHARD III.
A few days later, when Berenger had sent out Philip, under the keeping of the secretaries, to see the Queen-mother represent Royalty in one of the grand processions of Rogation-tide, the gentle knock came to his door that always announced the arrival of his good surgeon.
‘You look stronger, M. le Baron; have you yet left your room?’
‘I have walked round the gallery above the hall,’ said Berenger. ‘I have not gone down-stairs; that is for to-morrow.’
’What would M. le Baron say if his chirurgeon took him not merely down-stairs, but up on flight at the Louvre?’
‘Ha!’ cried Berenger; ‘to the King?’
’It is well-nigh the last chance, Monsieur; the Queen-mother and all her suite are occupied with services and sermons this week; and next week private access to the King will be far more difficult. I have waited as long as I could that you might gain strength to support the fatigue.’
‘Hope cancels fatigue,’ said Berenger, already at the other end of the room searching for his long-disused cloak, sword, gloves, hat, and mask.
‘Not the sword,’ said Pare, ’so please you. M. le Baron must condescend to obtain entrance as my assistant—the plain black doublet—yes, that is admirable; but I did not know that Monsieur was so tall,’ he added, in some consternation, as, for the first time, he saw his patient standing up at his full height—unusual even in England, and more so in France. Indeed, Berenger had grown during his year of illness, and being, of course, extremely thin, looked all the taller, so as to be a very inconvenient subject to smuggle into to palace unobserved.
However, Ambroise had made up his mind to the risk, and merely assisted Berenger in assuming his few equipments, then gave him his arm to go down the stairs. Meeting Guibert on the way, Berenger left word with him that he was going out to take the air with Maitre Pare; and on the man’s offering to attend him, refused the proposal.
Pare carriage waited in the court, and Berenger, seated in its depths, rolled unseen through the streets, till he found himself at the little postern of the Louvre, the very door whence he was to have led off his poor Eustacie. Here Ambroise made him take off his small black mask, in spite of all danger of his scars being remarked, since masks were not etiquette in the palace, and, putting into his arms a small brass-bound case of instruments, asked his pardon for preceding him, and alighted from the carriage.