At Agincourt by G. A. Henty
Chapter XIII. The Masters of Paris
The trap-door closed, the firewood was carried back again, and Guy went upstairs, where he found that Dame Margaret, Agnes, and Charlie had already put on their disguises. Their faces had been slightly darkened; Agnes had coiled her hair up under a cap, while Dame Margaret's would be completely hidden under the hood. She and Charlie could, have passed very well even in daylight, but Agnes by no means looked her character. Her mother had darkened the skin at the back of her neck as well as on her face, but the girl's evident discomfort and shyness were so unboylike that they would at once be noticed. Guy fetched a short cloak reaching only to his hips from his room and brought it in to her.
"I think that you will be more comfortable in this," he said.
"Yes, indeed," she exclaimed gratefully, as she put it over her shoulders; "I shall not mind now."
It reached nearly down to her knees, and the high collar concealed the back of her head effectually.
"I did not expect that you would be ready so soon," he said, turning to Dame Margaret; "it will not be dark for two hours yet."
"No; but I thought it much better to be prepared to leave at any moment. Mistress Leroux has shown me a door opening from the yard into a very narrow lane behind. She says that it has not been used for years, but she has been down herself with the key and has unlocked it, so that we have only to let a bar down to open it, and if there should be an attack on the front of the house we can escape that way."
"It would be best to leave that way in any case," Guy said, "and thereby you will avoid observation by anyone who may be watching. It is evident that the citizens of this quarter are very anxious and alarmed; looking from the window I have seen them standing in groups, or going in and out of each other's houses. They cannot know what is going to take place, but the closing of the gates by the butchers without any warrant has, of course, shown them that something serious is going to occur."
"You had better disguise yourself at once, Guy."
"I will do so, mistress, but I do not think that there is any fear of disturbance until evening; men who are engaged in work, that may some day bring punishment upon those concerned in it, prefer darkness. Besides, at that time all careful men will be in their houses, and will not dare to come out whatever sounds they may hear."
Maitre Leroux presently came up.
"I have been out and trying to gather news. There are all sorts of rumours abroad, but none know aught with certainty. They say that the butchers have stationed guards at the end of all the streets leading to the market quarter, and they allow none to pass in or out. It is reported that Aquitaine has sent an officer to the butchers to demand under what warrant they have closed the gates of the city, and to order them to open them forthwith, and to withdraw the men stationed there. It is said that their answer was that they had acted for the good of the state, and for the safety of the king's person, and that they would presently call upon his highness and explain matters to him. This may be true or merely rumour, but it is generally believed. Everyone is talking of the fight at the gate of St. Denis. Some say that it was forced open by order of the Duke of Burgundy, while others affirm that Caboche, and that mischievous varlet John de Troyes, went in great haste to the duke when they received the news, that he declared to them that he knew nothing whatever of the affair, and that whatever was done was certainly done without his orders. Most of my men have already left; it were better that they should go off one by one than that they should move off together. 'Tis well that my wife bethought her of that back entrance. It has never been used in my time, for the lane is but three feet wide, and the houses beyond are of no very good repute. I talked at one time of having it bricked up, and only refrained from doing so from the thought that it might be useful on some such occasion as this. Your esquire has not gone out, I suppose, Lady Margaret?"
"No, he is putting on his disguise--at least, he is colouring his hair and face, and so altering himself that he would not be known; but he will not put on his full disguise until later."
Guy soon came out. He was in his ordinary garments, but having put on his best suit beneath them he looked broader and bulkier than usual, while his blackened hair and darkened face had made so great a change in his appearance that both Agnes and her mother agreed that they would not have known him.
"You could certainly go anywhere, Guy, and mix with any crowd, and no one would have a suspicion that you were the young Englishman for whom the whole town was searching."
Half an hour before it became dark, Guy went down to the front door. Standing there listening attentively, he presently heard three little knocks given, as by a hand on the door. He opened it a little, Katarina slipped in, and he again fastened it and put up the bar.
"I brought the disguises early," she said, "as I thought they might be required in haste, but my father has learned that it will be eight o'clock before the butchers sally out with their forces from the markets."
"All here are ready and prepared to start at a moment's notice, and have arranged to go out by a door behind, that leads into a narrow lane."
"That is good!" the girl said. "I have been near for the last half-hour and have noticed two or three men hanging about, and by their furtive glances in the direction of the house I have no doubt that they are watching it. I had to wait until there happened to be a group of people before the door, and then slipped in behind them, and got in without, I am sure, their having seen me. I have been uneasy as to how we should leave, for if they saw a party of three or four issuing out together, one of them would be sure to follow."
They were now upstairs. The fact that Agnes was in the same disguise as herself freed Katarina from the shame-facedness that she would otherwise have felt at being seen by Dame Margaret in her present attire.
"You are well disguised," the latter said as she entered. "I no longer wonder that you are able to go about as a boy without suspicion; you look one to the life, while Agnes is so awkward that she would be detected in a moment."
"She has not had the practice that I have had," Katarina said with a laugh; "the awkwardness will soon wear off if she has to dress like this for a short time. As for me, I have learnt all a boy's tricks and ways. I can whistle and shout with any of them, can quarrel, and bluster, be saucy on occasion, and have only once been in trouble."
"How was that, Katarina?"
"A boy who was a bit taller than I ran against me and declared that it was my fault, and gave me a cuff on the head. I might have run away, and of course I ought to have done so, but I was angry, for he really hurt me; so I had to do what any boy would have done, and I flew at him so fiercely, and cuffed and scratched and kicked so savagely that at last he turned and ran. He had hit me too, but I did not feel it at the time, and next morning I was all sorts of colours round the eyes. Father was very angry, but when I asked what else he would have done if he had been cuffed, he could not tell me. I had a very important message to carry that morning for him. At first he said I could not go out in that state; but, as I told him, I had never looked so much like a boy before."
All were glad when it became dark enough for them to make a start. The men and maids had all been sent away, and none remained save Maitre Leroux and his wife. They were not in any disguise, but were wrapped up in cloaks, and in the badly-lighted streets could pass unrecognized.
"Do you go out first, Master Aylmer," the silversmith said. "I have no fear of anyone watching behind, for it is not likely that any of them know of this entrance to my house; still, it is as well to make certain. When you get out of the lane you had best stay there until the others have passed on, then you can follow them. We will wait for a few minutes after they have gone, and lock the door behind us. You have not forgotten where you are to find us."
"No, I have the name and house right. Shall I ask for you as Maitre Leroux?"
"I have not thought of that. No, it will be better, perhaps, to ask for Philip Sampson; it were just as well that none should know my name there except Lepelletiere and his wife."
As arranged Guy went out first; there was still light enough for him to make his way along the narrow lane without falling over piles of dirt and rubbish that at some points almost blocked it. The street into which it opened was also a very narrow one, and no one was about. In a minute Dame Margaret, walking with Katarina, and with Agnes close behind, holding Charlie's hand, passed him.
"It is all quite clear," he said. Keeping some fifteen yards behind he followed them until they entered a broader street. There were a good many people about here. The nearest way would have been to have crossed the road and passed by another small street facing that from which they had come, but somewhat to his surprise they turned and went along the broader street. He soon acknowledged to himself that this was the wiser course, for there were so many people about that their passage would be unnoticed, while in the narrow lanes some rough fellow might have accosted them. Keeping always in frequented streets they made a long detour before they reached that in which the count resided, and it was with a feeling of great relief that Guy saw them enter the house. He himself, as arranged, did not approach it for another quarter of an hour, then he went and knocked on the door with his hand, which was at once opened by Katarina.
"All is well," she said; "your lady is in the room where you first waited --my father is with her."
As Guy entered the count was just saying: "Yes, it would certainly be best, madame, that your daughter should continue at present in that disguise. In the first place, she will get accustomed to it, and should she have occasion to move again she would be able to do so without attracting notice; in the second place, it would be desirable that, even accidentally, no one should know that there is a young lady of her age here. I have no visitors save on business, but possibly either she or your boy might come out on to the stairs when one is going up or down. It would be unfortunate that he should see them at all, but if it were but a boy he caught sight of he would not at any rate associate them with your party. These precautions may seem to you absurd, but it is often by little accidents that things are discovered when as it seemed everything had been provided against."
"I shall not mind," Agnes said. "When I first went out it seemed dreadful, but when I found that nobody noticed me I began to be accustomed to it, and as your daughter is dressed as a boy too I shall not mind it."
"I shall not like being dressed as a girl," Charlie said sturdily.
The count smiled. "Well, we will see what we can do in your case; anyhow, you must keep on that dress--for a day or two. And now, Guy, about yourself. I have arranged for you to lodge with a man who gets news for me; it is in the butchers' quarter, which is the last place where anyone would think of looking for you. Besides, there you will see all that is going on. I have two other disguises in addition to that I sent you; one is that of a young butcher, another is that of one of the lads who live in misery, who sleep at the market where they can earn a few sous by doing odd jobs, and beg or steal when they can do nothing else. I hear that you have also arranged for a shelter in the quarter between the walls; that too may be very useful, and it will be well for you to go thither to- morrow and arrange so that you can have a place to go to when you choose; it will doubtless be much more pleasant for you there than in the market quarter. Lastly, I have got you a white hood, which may be most useful of all." Guy looked surprised. "Henceforth," the count went on, "white is to be the butchers' colour. All who march this evening are to be so clad, and as soon as it is known to-morrow, you will find three-fourths of the people wearing it, for not to do so will be taken as a sign of hostility to their faction. They will have started by this time, and if it pleases you to put on the butcher's dress and the white hood over it you can mingle in safety with them and see all that is done; then when they return to their quarter, you can go with them. The house to which you are to go is the third on the left-hand side of the Rue des Couteaux. My man lodges at the top of the house, the room to the left when you mount the stair-- his name is Simon Bouclier. The lane is at the back of the butchers' market. The man has no idea who you are. I have simply told him that I will send a young man to help gather news for me of what is going on, that you would work separately, but that he was to do all in his power to aid you, and that at any time if he wanted to send a message to me and could not himself come, he was to intrust it to you, and similarly he was to bring any message that you might want to send to the spot where he meets my messenger. The man works for one of the Thiberts. He does not know who I am, but I think he believes me to be an agent of Burgundy's, and that I collect the information so that he may be privately informed of what is doing. I have encouraged that idea, because it is more likely to keep him truthful to me, since he would think that were he to play me false the duke would see that some harm or other befell him. Therefore, it is as well that you should drop a word as if by accident that will confirm that notion, and will lead him to believe that you too are working under the orders of the duke. This will lull any suspicion that he might feel on seeing, as he must do, that you live in a position far higher than would appear from your garb. And now, if you would see to-night's doings, you had best put on that disguise and the white hood, and be off without delay; you will find the things in the room above."
In a few minutes Guy was ready to start. He could not help looking with disfavour at the greasy and stained garments, and he put them on with an expression of strong disgust. The two suits that he had taken off he made up into a bundle, placed the disguise he had brought with him with them, putting up separately that of which the count had spoken, and which was so ragged and dirty that he inwardly hoped he might never be obliged to assume it; then he went downstairs again. He had strapped round his waist a heavy sword placed beside the clothes, and carried in his hand a short pike. Dame Margaret smiled when he entered, and Katarina laughed aloud at the expression of his face.
"Truly, Guy," the former said, "you might go anywhere in that garb without a soul suspecting you. This journey with me is leading you into strange disguises and adventures, which will give you much matter for talk when we are safely back at Summerley."
"I have left my other disguises above," he said to the count. "The decent one of an apprentice I have placed with my own clothes, and will take them with me to any lodging that I may get among the carpenters, but that beggar suit I will take to Simon Bouclier's the next time I come. I suppose you would not wish me to come here during the day."
"No, unless it is very important; and to that end I think you had better carry the apprentice's disguise also to your lodging in the market. You would not gain favour among the carpenters were you to go among them in the dress you now wear, and your calling upon me here in your apprentice's dress would excite no attention; therefore, if you have need to come here during the day, you had best come as an apprentice."
Guy now went down into the street through which the butchers' force would pass. In a short time he heard a deep dull sound, and soon they came along, a host of armed men.
He fell in unnoticed near the head of the column. Soon after he had joined them they halted, and three or four knights came up and entered into conversation with their leaders. Guy recognized among them Sir Robert de Mailly, Sir Charles de Lens, and several others of the household of the Duke of Burgundy. These talked for some time with the Sieur de Jacqueville, Governor of Paris, who had joined the butchers' faction and was now riding at the head of the column, whereupon the force went no farther, but turned and retraced its steps. Guy wondered greatly where the butchers could be going, but soon found that they were making for the Bastille. After much parley between De Jacqueville and the governor, the latter consented, on the order of the Duke of Burgundy's friends, to hand over to them Sir Peter des Essars and his brother Sir Anthony, who were both supporters of the Orleanists and had come to Paris secretly, and had by the orders of the Duke of Aquitaine been admitted as guests to the Bastille.
These were marched back to the Louvre, the gates of which were opened by the orders of Burgundy's friends, and the two knights were thrown into the prison of the palace. On the way back the houses of a very rich upholsterer and of a cannon-founder of great repute, both of whom had withstood the butchers, were broken into and their owners both murdered. After this the mob marched to the house of Maitre Leroux. No reply being given to their summons to open, an attack was made upon the door. While they were engaged in doing this, screens of wattles covered with two or three thicknesses of hides were placed so as to shelter the assailants from the arrows that had proved so deadly on the occasion of their last attack. It was thus evident that the outrage was a planned one. Guy looked on with some amusement until the door gave way under the action of some very heavy sledge-hammers wielded by a party of brawny smiths; the moment it did so the crowd made a tremendous rush.
So great was the pressure that many were thrown down and trampled to death in the doorway. It was not long before several of the windows were thrown open and voices shouted down that the house was deserted. A yell of fury burst from the crowd below, but the pressure at the door was even greater than before. The loss incurred during the first attack had caused all but the bravest and most determined to hang back somewhat; now, however, that it seemed that the silversmith's stores could be ransacked without danger, all were anxious to have a hand in it. Presently one of the leaders appeared at a casement on the first floor and waved his arms for silence. The roar of voices ceased and the man cried:
"Citizens, 'tis of no use to press forward into the house, not only has the traitor and those with him fled from the just vengeance of the people, but he has taken away with him the whole of his silverware."
A yell of disappointment and rage rose, then as it ceased for a moment a voice shouted out:
"They are trying to cheat us, my friends; those who got in first have divided up the spoil and wish us to have no share in it."
This caused a fresh outburst of commotion. At a signal from the leader above a number of well-armed men, who were evidently a sort of body-guard, pressed forward to the door and drove back the crowd with blows from the staves of their pikes. Presently those who had entered began to pour out, and in a quarter of an hour the house was cleared. As soon as it was so the windows were lit up by a lurid light which showed that it had been fired on each floor, and the flames very soon burst out through the casements. Satisfied with having done this the butchers returned to their quarter, and Guy mounted to the chamber of Simon Bouclier. The man had evidently just returned, as he too wore a white hood. He had been carrying a torch in the procession, and this was stuck into a ring on the wall.
"Well, comrade," he said as Guy entered, "I suppose you are the man I was told would come here to-night."
"I am so," Guy said. "I should have been here before, but I joined the procession, as I guessed that you would be there also."
"Yes," the man said; "though I should not have gone had I not thought that more would come of it. What have we done? Captured two knights and killed two bourgeois! Pooh, it did not need five thousand men for that."
"No, but it was just as important as if we had killed a hundred."
"How so?" the other asked.
"Because it has shown the Armagnacs that Paris and Burgundy are as united as ever, and that they will stand no intrigues by the court party."
"That is true. We are all sound here; there were but five thousand out to- night, because that was enough for the work, but there will be four times as many next time we go to the Louvre. To-morrow morning, you know, we are going to pay a visit to the Duke of Aquitaine at his hotel, to teach that young man that he has to do as we and Burgundy order him, or that it will be worse for him."
"So I understand," Guy said carelessly. "As long as all hold together in this quarter everything will go right. My duty principally is to find out if there are any signs of wavering; there are no signs, of course, among the butchers, but some of the others are thought to be but half-hearted."
"The butchers and skinners are all right, never fear," the man said; "and if there are others in the quarter who may not be quite so hot in the matter as we are, they know better than to open their mouths. Of course, in the other quarters there may be a strong party who would thwart us; the smiths and the carpenters and masons are ever jealous of us of the markets, but they have no leaders, and hold not together as we do. Besides, they know that we have Burgundy with us, so whatever they think they are not likely to say much, for if it came to a battle we could sweep them out of the city."
"Yes, yes, I know that there is no fear of that, the great thing is to make sure that some of those who seem to be hottest in the matter, are not taking money from the other party; there are one or two I am specially to observe."
"I understand you, comrade. I myself have never had much confidence in John de Troyes nor his medical students. He is good at talking, no one will deny that; but for myself I would rather that we kept among ourselves and had nothing to do with such cattle, who have no interest in the privileges of the guilds, and who take part with us no one knows why. But I am sleepy; that bundle of fresh rushes in the corner is yours, I got them in the hay-market to-day when I heard that you were coming. You can keep beside me to-morrow morning and I will get you a good place in the ranks. From whence shall I say that you come, as many will ask the question, seeing that your face is strange?"
"You can say I am from Nancy."
"Yes, that will be good enough; that is the right quarter of France for a man to have come from just at present."
Guy was thoroughly fatigued with the long excitement of the day. At eleven in the morning everything had been going on as usual, now Dame Margaret and the two children were in hiding, her four men-at-arms fugitives, and Paris was virtually in a state of insurrection against the royal authority, stirred up thereto by the Duke of Burgundy, who had thus openly leagued himself with the scum of Paris. That what he had seen that evening was but the beginning of a series of crimes, Guy could not doubt; and although this man had expressed his confidence in the power of the market- men to sweep the craftsmen out of Paris, he felt sure from what he had heard, that this could not be done until a fierce and doubtful battle had been fought in the streets. At eight next morning he went out with his companion.
"It is well not to go into a place where we shall meet many till your face is better known," the latter said; and he led the way to a small trattoir a quarter of a mile away. Here they sat down and breakfasted, then they returned to the market where the White Hoods were mustering. Simon, who was evidently well known to most of the butchers, took his place near the head of the column, and at nine o'clock it got into motion. When it issued from its own quarters it was evident that its approach excited general apprehension. The streets were deserted as it passed along. None of the casements were opened, and although the traders dared not put up their shutters, none of them appeared at the doors, where their apprentices and workmen gathered to look at the procession. Passing along steadily and in good order, and headed as before by the knights of the Duke of Burgundy's household, they drew up before the palace of the Duke of Aquitaine. Caboche, John de Troyes, and one of the butchers entered the house. The guards having no orders, and seeing how strong was the force that was at their back, did not venture to oppose their entrance, and they pushed on into the private apartments of the duke and informed him that they, on behalf of the good town of Paris and for the welfare of his father and himself, required the delivery to them of certain traitors now in the hotel.
The duke, furious at their insolence, told them that such affairs were not their business, and that there were no traitors in the hotel. In the meantime many of the White Hoods had followed their leaders, Simon and Guy entering with them. They scattered through the apartments and seized the duke's chancellor, the Duke of Bar, a cousin of the king, and twelve other knights and gentlemen, some of whom were in the apartment of the Duke of Aquitaine himself. While this was going on the Dukes of Burgundy and Lorraine arrived, and Aquitaine, turning to the former angrily, said:
"Father-in-law, this insurrection has been caused by your advice; those of your household are the leaders of it; you shall some day repent of this. The state shall not be always governed according to your will and pleasure."
However, in spite of his indignation and remonstrance, the twelve gentlemen were carried away and confined in different prisons; and presently discovering the king's secretary, they killed him and threw the body into the river. They compelled the Duke of Aquitaine himself to leave his palace, and with the king, his father, to take up his abode in the Hotel de St. Pol. Placing a strong guard round it, so as to prevent them from leaving Paris, the mob then compelled all the nobles and even the prelates, they met, to put on white hoods, and their leaders sent off letters to the chief towns in France to inform them that what they had done was for the welfare of the king and kingdom, and requiring them to give aid should there be any necessity for it; they then published an edict in the name of the king ordering that it should be proclaimed in every bailiwick that no person, under penalty of death and confiscation of goods, should obey any summons from their superior lord to take up arms or to trouble the kingdom. The mad king was made to sign this after the Dukes of Aquitaine, Berri, and Lorraine, and other nobles of the council had put their names to it.
At nine o'clock that evening Guy went to the square before Notre Dame. Here many groups of people were talking over the events of the day. Guy had, as soon as he left the market quarter, taken off his white hood, and before starting he put on his dress as an apprentice. There was no doubt that the opinion of the great majority of those in the square was hostile to the authors of the events of the day, and that the consternation among the citizens was very great. After thus forcing the great nobles to obey their will and outraging the palace of the Duke of Aquitaine, there was no saying to what length they would go, and fears were expressed that ere long they might sack the whole of the better quarters of Paris.
It was so evident, however, that they had the support of the Duke of Burgundy that no one saw any way out of their trouble, and that nothing but the arrival of a powerful army of Orleanists could relieve them from their peril. As Guy had no real expectation of seeing any of his followers,--although the gates had been opened that afternoon after the seizure of the knights,--he attended more to the conversations going on about him than to the matter on which he had come. Presently, however, he saw a rough-looking fellow watching him attentively. He walked close to him, but not recognizing him would have passed on, had not the man taken a step forward and said in a low voice:
"Is it you, Robert? In faith I did not recognize you in that attire."
"And I was not sure that it was you, Master Guy; I should certainly not have known you by your face. Your figure and walk, when a short distance away, attracted my attention, and knowing your disguise was that of an apprentice I made sure it was you. Then as you came closer I doubted, and though I ventured upon saying the name of our lord, I scarce thought that you would reply."
"Where are the others, Robert?"
"They are walking about separately seeking for you. We are to meet on the steps of the cathedral at half-past nine."
"What has become of Tom?"
The man laughed. "If you will come along this way, master, you will see." They went to a quiet corner of the square. As they approached it they heard angry voices, and standing under a lamp Guy saw a tall man of wild and unkempt appearance, with black hair and a begrimed face, and a basket of vegetables strapped to his shoulders, threatening angrily with a staff three or four gamins who were making fun of him. He spoke in a wild, incoherent way, and seemed to be half-witted.
"What are you worrying this poor fellow for?" Robert said angrily to the boys. "If you do not be off, and that quickly, I will lay my cudgel about your shoulders."
This threat was much more efficacious than those of the half-witted man had been, and the boys at once took to their heels. The tall man shuffled towards the new-comers.
"Is it really you, Tom?" Guy said in a low tone.
"It is me, sure enough, Master Guy. I should not know myself, and am not surprised that you do not know me; in faith, my back aches with walking with a stoop, and my legs with shuffling along as if I had scarce the use of them, instead of stepping out manfully. Is all well? We have heard of strange doings--that the butchers have, with the countenance of Burgundy, bearded the Duke of Aquitaine, and even carried off some of his friends from before his face; also that the houses of three of those who had withstood them had been burned, among them that of Maitre Leroux; also that two traders had been killed, though which two they were we have not been able to learn."
"All is well, Tom; our lady and her children were safely bestowed, as was also the silversmith and his wife."
"I am right glad of that; they were a worthy couple. And so his house is burned and sacked?"
"Burned, but not sacked, Tom; for he had, before they came, stowed away in a hiding-place where they could not be found all those chests of his, and not a single piece of silver fell into the hands of the butchers."
"That was well done," the archer said, rubbing his hands. "I should like to have seen the dogs' faces when they burst in and found nothing. And my bow, Master Guy?"
"I fear that the flames will not have spared it. I went past the house to- day, and naught but the bare walls are standing."
At this moment the bell of the cathedral struck the half-hour, and Robert Picard said: "Will you stay here, Master Guy? I must go and meet the others, and forthwith bring them to you here."