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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Nameless Castle - Part 1. Cythera's Brigade - Chapter 2
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The Nameless Castle - Part 1. Cythera's Brigade - Chapter 2 Post by :olecram Category :Long Stories Author :Maurus Jokai Date :May 2012 Read :1505

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The Nameless Castle - Part 1. Cythera's Brigade - Chapter 2


When the younger of the two men stepped into the street he carried in his arms a little girl wrapped in a faded red shawl, to whom he was speaking encouragingly, in tones loud enough for any passer-by to hear:

"I know the little countess will be able to find her mama's palace; for there is a fountain in front of it in which there is a stone man with a three-pronged fork, and a stone lady with a fish-tail! Oh, yes; we shall be sure to find it; and very soon we shall be with mama."

Here the child in his arms began to sob bitterly.

"For heaven's sake, do not weep; do not let your voice be heard," whispered the young man in her ear.

At this moment a man wearing a coarse blouse, with his cap drawn over his eyes and a short pipe between his lips, came staggering toward them. The young man, in order to make room for him, pressed close to the wall, whereupon the new-comer, who seemed intoxicated, began in drunken tones:

"Hello, citizen! What do you mean? Do you want me to walk in the gutter?--because you have got on fine boots, and I have only wooden sabots! I am a citizen like yourself, and as good as you. We are alike, are n't we?"

The young man now knew with whom he had to deal--a police spy whose duty it was to watch him. He therefore replied quietly:

"No, we are not alike, citizen; for I have in my arms an unfortunate child who has strayed from its mother. Every Frenchman respects a child and misfortune. Is not that so, citizen?"

"Yes, that is so, citizen. Let 's have a little conversation about it"; and the pretended drunkard seized hold of the young man's mantle to detain him.

"It is very cold," returned the young man. "Instead of talking here, suppose you help me get this child to its home. Go to the nearest corner and fetch a coach. I will wait here for you."

The blouse-wearer hesitated a moment, then walked toward the street-corner, managing, however, to keep an eye on the young man and his charge. At the corner he whistled in a peculiar manner, whereupon the rumbling of wheels was heard. In a few moments the leather-covered vehicle drew up beside the curb where the young man was waiting.

"I am very much obliged to you for your kindness, citizen," he said to the blouse-wearer, who had returned with the coach. "Here," pressing a twenty-sou piece into the man's palm, "is something for your trouble. I wish you would come with me to help hunt for this little girl's home. If you have time, and will come with me, you shall be paid for your trouble."

"Can't do it, citizen; my wife is expecting me at home. Just you trust this coachman; he will help you find the place. He 's a clever youth--are n't you, Peroquin? You have made many a night journey about Paris, have n't you? See that you earn your twenty francs to-night, too!"

That the coachman was also in the service of the secret police the young man knew very well; but he did not betray his knowledge by word or mien.

The blouse-wearer now shook hands cordially with the young man, and said:

"Adieu, citizen. I beg your pardon if I offended you. I 'll leave you now. I am going to my wife, or to the tavern; who can tell the future?"

He waited until the young man had entered the coach with his charge; then, instead of betaking himself to his wife or to the tavern, he crossed the street, and took up his station in the recess of a doorway opposite the house with the swinging lantern. . . .

"Where to?" asked the coachman of the young man.

"Well, citizen," was the smiling response, "if I knew that, all would be well. But that is just what I don't know; and the little countess, here, who has strayed from her home, can't remember the street, nor the number of the house, in which she lives. She can only remember that her mama's palace is on a square in which there is a fountain. We must therefore visit all the fountains in turn until we find the right one."

The coachman made no further inquiries, but climbed to the box, and drove off in quest of the fountains of Paris.

Two fountains were visited, but neither of them proved to be the right one. The young man now bade the coachman drive through a certain street to a third fountain. It was a narrow, winding street--the Rue des Blancs Manteaux.

When the coach was opposite a low, one-storied house, the young man drew the strap, and told the driver he wished to stop for a few moments. As the vehicle drew up in front of the house, the door opened, and a tall, stalwart man in top-boots came forth, accompanied by a sturdy dame who held a candle, which she protected from the wind with the palm of her hand.

"Is that you, Raoul?" called the young man from the coach window.

There was no response from the giant, who, instead, sprang nimbly to the box, and, flinging one arm around the astonished coachman, thrust a gag into his mouth. Before the captive could make a move to defend himself, his fare was out of the coach, and had pinioned his arms behind his back. The giant and the young man now lifted the coachman from the box and carried him into the house, the woman followed with the trembling child, whom she had carefully lifted from the coach.

In the house, the two men bound their captive securely, first removing his coat. Then they seated him on the couch, and placed a mirror in front of him.

"You need not be alarmed, citizen," said the man in the top-boots. "No harm shall come to you. We are only going to copy your face--because of its beauty, you know!"

The young man also seated himself in front of the mirror, and proceeded, with various brushes and colors, to paint his cheeks and nose a copper hue, exactly like that of the coachman's reflection in the glass. Then he exchanged his own peruke and hat for the shabby ones of the coachman. Lastly, he flung around his shoulders the mantle with its seven collars, and the resemblance was complete.

"And now," observed the giant, addressing the captive, "you can rest without the least fear. At the latest, to-morrow about this time your coach, your horses, your mantle, and whatever else belongs to you will be returned. For the use of the things we have borrowed from you we shall leave in the pocket of your coat twenty francs for every hour, and an extra twenty francs as a _pourboire_; don't forget to look for it! To-morrow at eleven o'clock a girl will fetch milk; she will release you, and you can tell her what a singular dream you had! If you can't go to sleep, just repeat the multiplication table. I always do when I can't sleep, and I never have to go beyond seven times seven. Good night, citizen!"

The door of the adjoining room opened, and the woman appeared, leading by the hand a pretty little boy.

"We are ready," she announced.

The two men thrust pistols into their pockets. Then the woman and the little boy entered the coach, the two men took seats on the box, and the coach rolled away.

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The Nameless Castle - Part 1. Cythera's Brigade - Chapter 3 The Nameless Castle - Part 1. Cythera's Brigade - Chapter 3

The Nameless Castle - Part 1. Cythera's Brigade - Chapter 3
PART I. CYTHERA'S BRIGADE CHAPTER IIIAt ten o'clock the next morning the old gentleman paid a visit to his little guest. This time the child was really asleep, and opened her eyes only when the curtains were drawn back and the light from the window fell on her face. "How kind of you to waken me, monsieur!" she said, smiling; she was in a good humor, as children are who have slept well. "I have slept splendidly. This bed is as good as my own at home. And how delightful not to hear my governess scolding! You never scold, do you,

The Nameless Castle - Part 1. Cythera's Brigade - Chapter 1 The Nameless Castle - Part 1. Cythera's Brigade - Chapter 1

The Nameless Castle - Part 1. Cythera's Brigade - Chapter 1
PART I. CYTHERA'S BRIGADE CHAPTER IA snow-storm was raging with such vigor that any one who chanced to be passing along the silent thoroughfare might well have believed himself in St. Petersburg instead of in Paris, in the Rue des Ours, a side street leading into the Avenue St. Martin. The street, never a very busy one, was now almost deserted, as was also the avenue, as it was yet too early for vehicles of various sorts to be returning from the theatre. The street-lamps on the corners had not yet been lighted. In front of one of those old-fashioned houses