Even that very night Pare thought not too soon, and the Ascension-tide illuminations brought so many persons abroad that it would be easy to go unnoticed; and in the general festivity, when every one was coming and going from the country to gaze or worship at the shrines and the images decked in every church, it would be easy for the barriers to be passed without observation. Then the brothers would sleep at a large hostel, the first on the road to England, where Walsingham’s couriers and guest always baited, and the next morning he would send out to them their attendants, with houses for their further journey back into Anjou. If any enemies were on the watch, this would probably put them off the scent, and it only remained further to be debated, whether the Norman Guibert had better be dismissed at once or taken with them. There was always soft place in Berenger’s heart for a Norman, and the man was really useful; moreover, he would certainly be safer employed and in their company, than turned loose to tell the Chevalier all he might have picked up in the Hotel d’Angleterre. It was therefore decided that he should be the attendant of the two young men, and he received immediate orders that night to pack up their garments, and hold himself ready.
Nevertheless, before the hour of departure, Guibert had stolen out, had an interview with the Chevalier de Ribaumont at the Hotel de Selinville, and came back with more than one good French crown in his pocket, and hopes of more.
CHAPTER XXVIII. THE ORPHANS OF LA SABLERIE
The cream tarts with pepper in them.—ARABIAN NIGHTS.
Hope, spring, and recovery carried the young Baronde Ribaumont on his journey infinitely better than his companions had dared to expect. He dreaded nothing so much as being overtaken by those tidings which would make King Charles’s order mere waste paper; and therefore pressed on with little regard to his own fatigue, although happily with increasing strength, which carried him a further stage every day.
Lucon was a closely-guarded, thoroughly Catholic city, and his safe-conduct was jealously demanded; but the name of Ribaumont silenced all doubt. ’A relation, apparently, of M. de Nid de Merle,’ said the officer on guard, and politely invited him to dinner and bed at the castle; but these he thought it prudent to decline, explaining that he brought a letter from the King to the Mother Prioress.
The convent walls were pointed out to him, and he only delayed at the inn long enough to arrange his dress as might appear to the Abbess most respectful, and, poor boy, be least likely to startle the babe on whom his heart was set. At almost every inn, the little children had shrieked and run from his white and gashed face, and his tall, lank figure in deep black; and it was very sadly that he said to Philip, ’You must come with me. If she turns from me as an ogre, your bright ruddy face will win her.