"I will answer for it," he answered. "In the meantime, he has done what he can for our comfort."
"He bids us not to attempt the last three leagues to Gueret to- night; the road is too bad. But to stay at Saury, where there is a good inn, and to-morrow morning he will meet us there."
"If the brigands have not proved too much for him," I said.
"Yes," Parabere answered, with a simplicity almost supernatural. "To be sure."
After this, it was no use to say anything to him, though his officiousness would have justified the keenest reproaches. I swallowed my resentment, therefore, and we went on amicably enough, though the valley of the Creuse, in its upper and wilder part, through which our road now wound, offered no objects of a kind to soften my anger against the governor. I saw enough of ruins, of blocked defiles, and overgrown roads; but of returning prosperity and growing crops, and the King's peace, I saw no sign--not so much as one dead robber.
About noon we alighted to eat a little at a wretched tavern by one of the innumerable fords. A solitary traveller who was here before us, and for a time kept aloof, wearing a grand and mysterious manner with a shabby coat, presently moved; edging himself up to me where I sat a little apart, eating with Parabere and my gentlemen.
"Sir," he said, on a sudden and without preface, "I see that you are the leader of this party."
As I was more plainly dressed than Parabere, and had been giving no orders, I wondered how he knew; but I answered, without any remark, "Well, sir; and what of that?"
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