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- The Reign Of Terror - 4/50 -
dressed out in these seemed to him ludicrous in the extreme.
"How they would laugh at home," he thought to himself, "if they could see me in these things! The girls would give me no peace. And wouldn't there be an uproar if I were to turn up in them in Dean's Yard and march up school!"
Harry was then measured. When this was done he took out his purse, which contained fifty guineas; for his father had thought it probable that the clothes he would require would cost more than they would in London, and he wished him to have a good store of pocket-money until he received the first instalment of his pay. M. du Tillet, however, shook his head and motioned to him to put up his purse; and Harry supposed that it was not customary to pay for things in France until they were delivered. Then his companion took him into another shop, and pointing to his own ruffles intimated that Harry would require some linen of this kind to be worn when in full dress. Harry signified that his friend should order what was necessary; and half a dozen shirts, with deep ruffles at the wrist and breast, were ordered. This brought their shopping to an end.
They remained three days in Paris, at the end of which time Harry's clothes were delivered. The following morning a carriage with the arms of the marquis emblazoned upon it came up to the door, and they started. The horses were fat and lazy; and Harry, who had no idea how far they were going, thought that the journey was likely to be a long one if this was the pace at which they were to travel.
Twelve miles out they changed horses at a post-station, their own returning to Paris, and after this had relays at each station, and travelled at a pace which seemed to Harry to be extraordinarily rapid. They slept twice upon the road.
The third day the appearance of the country altogether changed, and, instead of the flat plains which Harry had begun to think extended all over France, they were now among hills higher than anything he had ever seen before. Towards the afternoon they crossed the range and began to descend, and as evening approached M. du Tillet pointed to a building standing on rising ground some miles away and said:
"That is the chateau."
CHAPTER II A Mad Dog
It was dark before the carriage drove up to the chateau. Their approach had been seen, for two lackeys appeared with torches at the head of the broad steps. M. du Tillet put his hand encouragingly on Harry's shoulder and led him up the steps. A servant preceded them across a great hall, when a door opened and a gentleman came forward.
"Monsieur le Marquis," M. du Tillet said, bowing, "this is the young gentleman you charged me to bring to you.
"I am glad to see you," the marquis said; "and I hope you will make yourself happy and comfortable here."
Harry did not understand the words, but he felt the tone of kindness and courtesy with which they were spoken. He could, however, only bow; for although in the eight days he had spent with M. du Tillet he had picked up a great many nouns and a few phrases, his stock of words was of no use to him at present.
"And you, M. du Tillet," the marquis said. "You have made a good journey, I hope? I thank you much for the trouble you have taken. I like the boy's looks; what do you think of him?"
"I like him very much," M. du Tillet said; "he is a new type to me, and a pleasant one. I think he will make a good companion for the young count."
The marquis now turned and led the way into a great drawing-room, and taking Harry's hand led him up to a lady seated on a couch.
"This is our young English friend, Julie. Of course he is strange at present, but M. du Tillet reports well of him, and I already like his face."
The lady held out her hand, which Harry, instead of bending over and kissing, as she had expected, shook heartily. For an instant only a look of intense surprise passed across her face; then she said courteously:
"We are glad to see you. It is very good of you to come so far to us. I trust that you will be happy here."
"These are my sons Ernest and Jules, who will, I am sure, do all in their power to make you comfortable," the marquis said.
The last words were spoken sharply and significantly, and their tone was not lost upon the two boys; they had a moment before been struggling to prevent themselves bursting into a laugh at Harry's reception of their mother's greeting, but they now instantly composed their faces and advanced.
"Shake hands with him," the marquis said sharply; "it is the custom of his country."
Each in turn held out his hand to Harry, who, as he shook hands with them, took a mental stock of his future companions.
"Good looking," he said to himself, "but more like girls than boys. A year in the fifth form would do them a world of good. I could polish the two off together with one hand."
"My daughters," the marquis said, "Mesdemoiselles Marie, Jeanne, and Virginie."
Three young ladies had risen from their seats as their father entered, each made a deep curtsy as her name was mentioned, and Harry bowed deeply in return. Mademoiselle Marie was two years at least older than himself, and was already a young lady of fashion. Jeanne struck him as being about the same age as his sister Fanny, who was between fourteen and fifteen. Virginie was a child of ten. Ernest was about his own age, while Jules came between the two younger girls.
"Take M. Sandwith to the abbe," the marquis said to Ernest, "and do all in your power to set him at his ease. Remember what you would feel if you were placed, as he is, among strange people in a strange country.
The lad motioned to Harry to accompany him, and the three boys left the room together.
"You can go to your gouvernante," the marquise said to the two younger girls; and with a profound curtsy to her and another to the marquis, they left the room. Unrestrained now by their presence, the marquise turned to her husband with a merry laugh.
"But it is a bear you have brought home, Edouard, a veritable bear - my fingers ache still - and he is to teach manners to my sons! I always protested against the plan, but I did not think it would be as bad as this. These islanders are savages."
The marquis smiled.
"He is a little gauche, but that will soon rub off. I like him, Julie. Remember it was a difficult position for a boy. We did not have him here to give polish to our sons. It may be that they have even a little too much of this at present. The English are not polished, everyone knows that, but they are manly and independent. That boy bore himself well. He probably had never been in a room like this in his life, he was ignorant of our language, alone among strangers, but he was calm and self-possessed. I like the honest straightforward look in his face. And look at the width of the shoulders and the strength of his arms; why, he would break Ernest across his knee, and the two boys must be about the same age."
"Oh, he has brute strength, I grant," the marquise said; "so have the sons of our peasants; however, I do not want to find fault with him, it is your hobby, or rather that of Auguste, who is, I think, mad about these English; I will say nothing to prevent its having a fair trial, only I hope it will not be necessary for me to give him my hand again."
"I do not suppose it will until he leaves, Julie, and by that time, no doubt, he will know what to do with it; but here is M. du Tillet waiting all this time for you to speak to him."
"Pardon me, my good M. du Tillet," the marquise said. "In truth that squeeze of my hand has driven all other matters from my mind. How have you fared? This long journey with this English bear must have been very tedious for you."
"Indeed, Madame Ia Marquise," M. du Tillet replied, "it has been no hardship, the boy has amused me greatly; nay, more, he has pleased me. We have been able to say little to each other, though, indeed, he is quick and eager to learn, and will soon speak our language; but his face has been a study. When he is pleased you can see that he is pleased, and that is a pleasure, for few people are pleased in our days. Again, when he does not like a thing you can also see it. I can see that he says to himself, I can expect nothing better, these poor people are only French. When the gamins in Paris jeered him as to his dress, he closed his hands and would have flown at them with his fists after the manner of his countrymen had he not put strong restraint on himself. From the look of his honest eyes I shall, when he can speak our language, believe implicitly what he says. That boy would not tell a lie whatever were the consequences. Altogether I like him much. I think that in a very little while he will adapt himself to what goes on around him, and that you will have no reason ere long to complain of his gaucheries."
"And you really think, M. du Tillet, that he will be a useful companion for my boys?"
"If you will pardon me for saying so, madam, I think that he will - at any rate I am sure he can be trusted to teach them no wrong."
"You are all against me," the marquise laughed. "And you, Marie?"
"I did not think of him one way or the other," the girl said coldly. "He is very awkward; but as he is not to be my companion that does not concern me. It is like one of papa's dogs, one more or less makes no difference in the house so long as they do not tread upon one's skirt."
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