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    Chapter Six

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    Chapter 6
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    In the outer room, Winterset, unable to find Lady Mary, and supposing her to have joined Lady Rellerton, disposed of his negus, then approached the two visitors to pay his respects to the young prince, whom he discovered to be a stripling of seventeen, arrogant looking, but pretty as a girl. Standing beside the Marquis de Mirepoix - a man of quiet bearing - he was surrounded by a group of the great, among whom Mr. Nash naturally counted himself. The Beau was felicitating himself that the foreigners had not arrived a week earlier, in which case he and Bath would have been detected in a piece of gross ignorance concerning the French nobility - making much of de Mirepoix's ex-barber.

    "'Tis a lucky thing that fellow was got out of the way," he ejaculated, under cover.

    "Thank me for it," rejoined Winterset.

    An attendant begged Mr. Nash's notice. The head bailiff sent word that Beaucaire had long since entered the building by a side door. It was supposed Mr. Nash had known of it, and the Frenchman was not arrested, as Mr. Molyneux was in his company, and said he would be answerable for him. Consternation was so plain on the Beau's trained face that the Duke leaned toward him anxiously.

    "The villain's in, and Molyneux hath gone mad!"

    Mr. Bantison, who had been fiercely elbowing his way toward them, joined heads with them. "You may well say he is in," he exclaimed "and if you want to know where, why, in yonder card-room. I saw him through the half-open door."

    "What's to be done?" asked the Beau.

    "Send the bailiffs - "

    "Fie, fie! A file of bailiffs? The scandal!"

    "Then listen to me," said the Duke. "I'll select half-a-dozen gentlemen, explain the matter, and we'll put him in the center of us and take him out to the bailiffs. 'Twill appear nothing. Do you remain here and keep the attention of Beaujolais and de Mirepoix. Come, Bantison, fetch Townbrake and Harry Rakell yonder; I'll bring the others."

    Three minutes later, his Grace of Winterset flung wide the card-room door, and, after his friends had entered, closed it.

    "Ah!" remarked M. Beaucaire quietly. "Six more large men.

    The Duke, seeing Lady Mary, started; but the angry signs of her interview had not left her face, and reassured him. He offered his hand to conduct her to the door. "May I have the honor?"

    "If this is to be known, 'twill be better if I leave after; I should be observed if I went now."

    "As you will, madam," he answered, not displeased. "And now, you impudent villain," he began, turning to M. Beaucaire, but to fall back astounded. "'Od's blood, the dog hath murdered and robbed some royal prince!" He forgot Lady Mary's presence in his excitement. "Lay hands on him!" he shouted. "Tear those orders from him!"

    Molyneux threw himself between. "One word!" he cried. "One word before you offer an outrage you will repent all your lives!"

    "Or let M. de Winterset come alone," laughed M. Beaucaire.

    "Do you expect me to fight a cut-throat barber, and with bare hands?"

    "I think one does not expec' monsieur to fight anybody. Would I fight you, you think? That was why I had my servants, that evening we play. I would gladly fight almos' any one in the won'; but I did not wish to soil my hand with a - "

    "Stuff his lying mouth with his orders!" shouted the Duke.

    But Molyneux still held the gentiemen back. "One moment," he cried.

    "M. de Winterset," said Beaucaire, "of what are you afraid? You calculate well. Beaucaire might have been belief - an impostor that you yourself expose'? Never! But I was not goin' reveal that secret. You have not absolve me of my promise."

    "Tell what you like," answered the Duke. "Tell all the wild lies you have time for. You have five minutes to make up your mind to go quietly."

    "Now you absolve me, then? Ha, ha! Oh, yes! Mademoiselle," he bowed to Lady Mary, "I have the honor to reques' you leave the room. You shall miss no details if these frien's of yours kill me, on the honor of a French gentleman."

    "A French what?" laughed Bantison.

    "Do you dare keep up the pretense?" cried Lord Town brake. "Know, you villain barber, that your master, the Marquis de Mirepoix, is in the next room."

    Molyneux heaved a great sigh of relief. "Shall I - " He turned to M. Beaucaire.

    The young man laughed, and said: "Tell him come here at once.

    "Impudent to the last!" cried Bantison, as Molyneux hurried from the room.

    "Now you goin' to see M. Beaucaire's master," said Beaucaire to Lady Mary. "'Tis true what I say, the other night. I cross from Prance in his suite; my passport say as his barber. Then to pass the ennui of exile, I come to Bath and play for what one will. It kill the time. But when the people hear I have been a servant they come only secretly; and there is one of them - he has absolve' me of a promise not to speak - of him I learn something he cannot wish to be tol'. I make some trouble to learn this thing. Why I should do this? Well - that is my own rizzon. So I make this man help me in a masque, the unmasking it was, for, as there is no one to know me, I throw off my black wig and become myself - and so I am 'Chateaurien,' Castle Nowhere. Then this man I use', this Winterset, he - "

    "I have great need to deny these accusations?" said the Duke.

    "Nay," said Lady Mary weari1y.

    "Shall I tell you why I mus' be 'Victor' and 'Beaucaire' and 'Chateaurien,' and not myself?"

    "To escape from the bailiffs for debts for razors and soap," gibed Lord Townbrake.

    "No, monsieur. In France I have got a cousin who is a man with a very bad temper at some time', and he will never enjoy his relatives to do what he does not wish - "

    He was interrupted by a loud commotion from without. The door was flung open, and the young Count of Beaujolais bounded in and threw his arms about the neck of M. Beaucaire.

    "Philippe!" he cried. "My brother, I have come to take you back with me."

    M. de Mirepoix followed him, bowing as a courtier, in deference; but M. Beaucaire took both his hands heartily. Molyneux came after, with Mr. Nash, and closed the door.

    "My warmest felicitations," said the Marquis. "There is no longer need for your incognito."

    "Thou best of masters!" said Beaucaire, touching him fondly on the shoulder. "I know. Your courier came safely. And so I am forgiven! But I forget." He turned to the lady. She had begun to tremble exceedingly. "Faires' of all the English fair," he said, as the gentlemen bowed low to her deep courtesy, "I beg the honor to presen' to Lady Mary Carlisle, M. le Comte de Beaujolais. M. de Mirepoix has already the honor. Lady Mary has been very kind to me, my frien's; you mus' help me make my acknowledgment. Mademoiselle and gentlemen, will you give me that favour to detain you one instan'?"

    "Henri," he turned to the young Beaujolais, "I wish you had shared my masque - I have been so gay!" The surface of his tone was merry, but there was an undercurrent, weary - sad, to speak of what was the mood, not the manner. He made the effect of addressing every one present, but he looked steadily at Lady Mary. Her eyes were fixed upon him, with a silent and frightened fascination, and she trembled more and more. "I am a great actor, Henri. These gentlemen are yet scarce convince' I am not a lackey! And I mus' tell you that I was jus' now to be expelled for having been a barber!"

    "Oh, no!,, the ambassador cried out. "He would not be content with me; he would wander over a strange country."

    "Ha, ha, my Mirepoix! And what is better, one evening I am oblige' to fight some frien's of M. de Winterset there, and some ladies and cavaliers look on, and they still think me a servant. Oh, I am a great actor! 'Tis true there is not a peasant in France who would not have then known one 'born'; but they are wonderful, this English people, holding by an idea once it is in their heads - a mos' worthy quality. But my good Molyneux here, he had speak to me with courtesy, jus' because I am a man an' jus' because he is al - ways kind. (I have learn' that his great-grandfather was a Frenchman.) So I sen' to him and tell him ev'rything, and he gain admittance for me here to-night to await my frien's.

    "I was speaking to messieurs about my cousin, who will meddle in the affair' of his relatives. Well, that gentleman, he make a marriage for me with a good and accomplish' lady, very noble and very beautiful - and amiable." (The young count at his elbow started slightly at this, but immediately appeared to wrap himself in a mantle of solemn thought.) "Unfortunately, when my cousin arrange' so, I was a dolt, a little blockhead; I swear to marry for myself and when I please, or never if I like. That lady is all things charming and gentle, and, in truth, she is - very much attach' to me - why should I not say it? I am so proud of it. She is very faithful and forgiving and sweet; she would be the same, I think, if I - were even - a lackey. But I? I was a dolt, a little unsensible brute; I did not value such thing' then; I was too yo'ng, las' June. So I say to my cousin, 'No, I make my own choosing!' 'Little fool,' he answer, 'she is the one for you. Am I not wiser than you?' And he was very angry, and, as he has influence in France, word come' that he will get me put in Vincennes, so I mus' run away quick till his anger is gone. My good frien' Mirepoix is jus' leaving for London; he take' many risk' for my sake; his hairdresser die before he start', so I travel as that poor barber. But my cousin is a man to be afraid of when he is angry, even in England, and I mus' not get my Mirepoix in trouble. I mus' not be discover' till my cousin is ready to laugh about it all and make it a joke. And there may be spies; so I change my name again, and come to Bath to amuse my retreat with a little gaming - I am al - ways fond of that. But three day' ago M. le Marquis send me a courier to say that my brother, who know where I had run away, is come from France to say that my cousin is appease'; he need me for his little theatre, the play cannot go on. I do not need to espouse mademoiselle. All shall be forgiven if I return, and my brother and M. de Mirepoix will meet me in Bath to felicitate.

    "There is one more thing to say, that is all. I have said I learn' a secret, and use it to make a man introduce me if I will not tell. He has absolve' me of that promise. My frien's, I had not the wish to ruin that man. I was not receive'; Meestaire Nash had reboff me; I had no other way excep' to use this fellow. So I say, 'Take me to Lady Malbourne's ball as "Chateaurien."' I throw off my wig, and shave, and behol', I am M. le Duc de Castle Nowhere. Ha, ha! You see?"

    The young man's manner suddenly changed. He became haughty, menacing. He stretched out his arm, and pointed at Winterset. "Now I am no 'Beaucaire,' messieurs. I am a French gentleman. The man who introduce' me at the price of his honor, and then betray' me to redeem it, is that coward, that card-cheat there!"

    Winterset made a horrible effort to laugh. The gentlemen who surrounded him fell away as from pestilence. "A French gentleman!" he sneered savagely, and yet fearfully. "I don't know who you are. Hide behind as many toys and ribbons as you like; I'll know the name of the man who dares bring such a charge!"

    "Sir!" cried de Mirepoix sharply, advancing a step towards him; but he checked himself at once. He made a low bow of state, first to the young Frenchman, then to Lady Mary and the company. "Permit me, Lady Mary and gentlemen," he said. "to assume the honor of presenting you to His Highness, Prince Louis-Philippe de Valois, Duke of Orleans, Duke of Chartres, Duke of Nemours, Duke of Montpeti'sier, First Prince of the Blood Royal, First Peer of France, Lieutenant-General of French Infantry, Governor of Dauphine, Knight of the Golden Fleece, Grand Master of the Order of Notre Dame, of Mount Carmel, and of St. Lazarus in Jerusalem; and cousin to His most Christian Majesty, Louis the Fifteenth, King of France."

    "Those are a few of my brother's names," whispered Henri of Beaujolais to Molyneux. "Old Mirepoix has the long breath, but it take' a strong man two day' to say all of them. I can suppose this Winterset know' now who bring the charge!"

    "Castle Nowhere!" gasped Beau Nash, falling back upon the burly prop of Mr. Bantison's shoulder.

    "The Duke of Orleans will receive a message from me within the hour!" said Winterset, as he made his way to the door. His face was black with rage and shame.

    "I tol' you that I would not soil my hand with you," answered the young man. "If you send a message no gentleman will bring it. Whoever shall bear it will receive a little beating from Francois."

    He stepped to Lady Mary's side. Her head was bent low, her face averted. She seemed to breathe with difficulty, and leaned heavily upon a chair. "Monseigneur," she faltered in a half whisper, "can you - forgive me? It is a bitter - mistake-I have made. Forgive."

    "Forgive?" he answered, and his voice was as broken as hers; but he went on, more firmly: "It is - nothing - less than nothing. There is - only jus' one - in the - whole worl' who would not have treat' me the way that you treat' me. It is to her that I am goin' to make reparation. You know something, Henri? I am not goin' back only because the king forgive' me. I am goin' to please him; I am goin' to espouse mademoiselle, our cousin. My frien's, I ask your felicitations."

    "And the king does not compel him!" exclaimed young Henri.

    "Henri, you want to fight me?" cried his brother sharply. "Don' you think the King of France is a wiser man than me?"

    He offered his hand to Lady Mary. "Mademoiselle is fatigue'. Will she honor me?"

    He walked with her to the door. Her hand fluttering faintly in his. From somewhere about the garments of one of them a little cloud of faded rose-leaves fell, and lay strewn on the floor behind them. He opened the door, and the lights shone on a multitude of eager faces turned toward it. There was a great hum of voices, and, over all, the fiddles wove a wandering air, a sweet French song of the voyageur.

    He bowed very low, as, with fixed and glistening eyes, Lady Mary Carlisle, the Beauty of Bath, passed slowly by him and went out of the room.
    Chapter 6
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