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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 384 pages of information about Stray Pearls.
out of blind obedience to his Prince.  He assured me that resistance was utterly useless, that bets had passed at the Prince’s court on the Englishwoman’s being subdued by Lamont before mid-night, and the Prince himself had staked, I know not how much, against those who believed in my obstinacy.  Therefore Armand d’Aubepine, who was flushed with wine, and not in the least able to perceive how contemptible he was, urged me to yield with the best grace I could, since there was no help for it.  And so saying he suddenly pinioned both my arms with his own.

No help!  Was there no help in Heaven above, or earth below?  Was my dragoon on his way?

The doors opened.  Again the Abbe opened his book.

‘Brave dragoons!’ I cried out; ’if there be not a man among you who will stir a hand to save me, bear witness that I, Margaret de Ribaumont, widow of Philippe de Bellaise, your own officer, protest against this shameful violence.  Whatever is here done is null and void, and shall be made known to M. l’Abbe’s superiors.’

There was a dead pause.  Then Lamont whispered something to the priest, who began again.  I felt Armand’s held relaxing, and making a sudden struggle, I shook myself free with such force that he staggered back, while I bounded forward and snatched the book from the priest’s hand, throwing it on the floor, and then, regaining once more the statue of St. Margaret, I stood grasping her with one arm with desperate energy, while I cried:  ‘A moi, soldiers of Freibourg!’

‘Drag her away,’ said d’Aubepine to the men.

‘By your leave, my captain,’ said their sergeant, ’except in time of war, it is not permitted to lay hands on any one in sanctuary.  It is not within our discipline.’

D’Aubepine swore an oath that they would see what their Colonel said to their insubordination; but the sergeant replied, not without some malice: 

‘It falls within the province of the reverend Father.’

‘I command you, then!’ shrieked the Abbe, in a furry.

‘Nay, Monsieur l’Abbe is not our officer,’ said the sergeant, saluting with great politeness.

‘Madame,’ cried Lamont, ’will you cause these men to be put to death for disobedience to their officer?’

I scarcely believed him.  And yet—–­

There was a sound at the outside.

‘Make haste!’ cried d’Aubepine.  ’Here is the Prince come to see whether he has won his wager.’

CHAPTER XXII

ST. MARGARET AND THE DRAGON

(By Annora)

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