"Well, and there may be a battle and an army here," Boisrueil answered sulkily,
I was inclined to laugh at this as extravagance; but seeing that La Font and Colet sided with Boisrueil, I remembered that the latter was no coward though a great gossip; and I thought better of it. Accordingly, resolving to look into the thing myself, I bade La Font fetch a couple of lanthorns, and, when he had done so, went out with him and Boisrueil as if I had a mind to go round the horses before I retired. Parabere declined to accompany me on the ground that he would not be at the pains of it; and Colet I left in the kitchen to keep an eye on the man and woman.
There was no moon, rain was still falling, and the yard, crowded with steaming, shivering horses, was dreary enough where the lanthorns displayed it; but, accustomed to such a sight, I made, without regarding it, for the gate, which a moment's examination showed to be barricaded, as they had described, with great beams and stones. In this there was nothing beyond the ordinary, one entrance to a house being in troublous times better than two; but Boisrueil, bidding me kneel and look lower, I found, when I did so, that the soil under the beams--which did not touch the ground by some inches--was wet, and I began to understand. When he asked me at what hour rain had begun to fall, I answered two in the afternoon, and drew at once the inference at which he aimed-- that the beams had been put there, and the gate barricaded, at some later hour.
"We reached here at six," he said; "it was done some time between two and six, my lord; therefore to-day. To-day," he repeated in a low voice; "and by a dozen men at least, Fewer could not move those beams."
"But who are they?" I said, looking at him.
"The woman knows," he answered. "We must ask her, my lord."
I assented; and we went back into the house, where it would not have surprised me if we had found the wretches flown and the nest empty. But Colet had done his work too well. They were both there, and, in a moment, at a signal from Boisrueil, were secured and pinioned. Parabere, hearing the scuffle, came out and would have remonstrated, but I silenced him with a sharp word; and, despatching La Font with a couple of discreet men to keep watch in the court that we might not be surprised, I bade one of the servants throw some fir-cones on the fire. These, blazing up, filled the squalid room in a moment with a glare of light, which revealed alike the livid faces of the two prisoners and the excited looks and dark countenances of my escort.
I bade them put the woman forward first, and addressed her sternly, telling her that I knew all, and that she would do well to confess; inasmuch as if she made a clean breast of the matter, I would grant her her life, and if she did not, she would be the first to die, since I would hang her were a single shot fired against the house.
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