"The prisoner," he faltered. "If your excellency pleases--"
"I do not please!" I said sternly, believing that I knew what had happened. "Is he dead?"
"No, your excellency; but, he has escaped."
"Then, PAR DIEU!" I replied, "the man who was on guard shall suffer in his place! Escaped? How could he escape except by treachery? Where was the guard?"
"He was there, excellency. And he says that no one passed him."
"But the window--the window, fool, is fifty feet from the ground!" I said. "And not so much footing outside as would hold a crow!"
Maignan shrugged his shoulders, and in a rage I bade him follow me, and went myself to view the place; to which a number of my people had already flocked with lights, so that I found some difficulty in mounting the staircase. A very brief inspection, however, sufficed to confirm my first impression that Vilain could have escaped by the door only; for the window, though it lacked bars and boasted a tiny balcony, hung over fifty feet of sheer depth, so that evasion that way seemed in the absence of ladder or rope purely impossible. This being clear, I ordered the Swiss to be seized; and as he could give no explanation of the escape, and still persisted that he was as much in the dark as anyone, I declared that I would make an example of him, and hang him unless the prisoner was recaptured within three days.
I did not really propose to do this, but in my irritation I spoke so roundly that my people believed me; even Boisrueil, who presently came to intercede for the culprit, who, it seemed, was a favourite. "As for Vilain," he continued; "you can catch him whenever you please."
Reminder: Arrow keys left and right (← →) to turn pages forward and backward, up and down (↑ ↓) to scroll up and down, Enter key: return to the list