The truth was that Vilain's escape placed me in a position of some discomfort; for though, on the one hand, I had no particular desire to get him again into my hands, seeing that the King could effect as much by a word to his father as I had proposed to do while I held him safe; on the other hand, the evasion placed me very peculiarly in regard to the King himself, who was inclined to think me ill or suddenly grown careless. Some of the facts, too, were leaking out, and provoking smiles among the more knowing, and a hint here and there; the result of all being that, unable to pursue the matter farther in Vilain's case, I hardened my heart and persisted that the Swiss should pay the penalty.
This obstinacy on my part had an unforeseen issue. On the evening of the second day, a little before supper-time, my wife came to me, and announced that a young lady had waited on her with a tale so remarkable that she craved leave to bring her to me that I might hear it.
"What is it?" I said impatiently.
"It is about M. Vilain," my wife answered, her face still wearing all the marks of lively astonishment.
"Ha!" I exclaimed. "I will see her then. But it is not that baggage who--"
"No," my wife answered. "It is another."
"Well, bring her," I said shortly.
She went, and quickly returned with a young lady, whose face and modest bearing were known to me, though I could not, at the moment, recall her name. This was the less remarkable as I am not prone to look much in maids' faces, leaving that to younger men; and Mademoiselle de Figeac's, though beautiful, was disfigured on this occasion by the marked distress under which she was labouring. Accustomed as I was to the visits of persons of all classes and characters who came to me daily with petitions, I should have been disposed to cut her short, but for my wife's intimation that her errand had to do with the matter which annoyed me. This, as well as a trifle of curiosity--from which none are quite free--inclined me to be patient; and I asked her what she would have with me.
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