Sunday, July 19, 2015

Adventure 04: On Guard, Chapter IV

Chapter IV: Audience with the Duke DeMainz

The morning of January 30th is clear and very cold. “A lovely day for a duel,” Guy says sarcastically. He has arrived at the cloisters with Gaston, Lucien, and the Seigneur de Racan. Lucien, still badly wounded is there only to watch. Gaston and Racan accompany Guy as his seconds. The Baron Villemorin brings his younger brother Paulin and the other two Gendarmes from the other evening. Also in attendance is the Baron St. Giron. He and Lucien watch the duel from inside their coaches. 

The duel begins. As usual, Guy uses his speed and uncanny ability to predict his opponent’s next move to set the tempo of combat. In contrast Villemorin uses his greater strength and skill to force Guy back onto the defensive. Villemorin’s strength allows him to bind then break Guy’s rapier. In response, Guy quickly jumps onto the cloister garden wall and, with the advantage of height, lunges down with his broken rapier. The wound is slight, but first blood is Guy’s. The seconds rush forward and the Baron concedes defeat in keeping with the terms of a duel to the First Blood. The Baron tells Guy, “The field is yours Monsieur de Bourges. It appears that the information I was given about you, declaring you to be a cowardly murderer, was incorrect and that by repeating it I spoke hastily and in error. You have my apology. Good day.”

Afterwards Guy hosts a celebratory luncheon feast (bought with money loaned to him by Lucien) which is held at the Hotel de Treville, where Lucien is still recovering. Since his good clothes were ruined by Villemorin and the other vandals along with his other belongings, Gaston accompanies Guy to his friend the home of the Vicomte de Chambre or as calls him Chancie, so that Guy can borrow a suit. The suit consists of a turcoise over coat, ruffles, and a lemon-colored hat adorned with a peacock feather. Guy meets Monsieur de Treville; he gives Treveille a nice bottle of wine as a gratuity for taking care of Lucien. As the feast ends, Guy, Lucien, and Gaston are summoned to an audience at the Duke DeMainz’s hunting lodge.

Once he learns about St. Giron’s activities, DeMainz “invites” Baron Villemorin to visit him. At the same time he separately invites the three companions to attend him. This time he will not send his coach, but will allow them to make their own way to his estate. The invitation arrives at the celebration at Treville’s; the meeting is scheduled for 5PM that same day.

Before going, Lucien speaks to Monsieur de Treville to get permission. Treville tells Lucien that he does not know DeMainz personally, but he understands that the Duke was a strong supporter of the Le Grand Henri, the current King’s father, that he is somewhat of a man of mystery – few can or will speak knowledgeably of him, but that all who do speak of him agree that he is a very dangerous man. Also, the Duke appears to be a very thorough man as M. de Treville has separately received a note from DeMainz asking his permission to interview Lucien. Treville will agree, but he will not want Lucien to go to DeMainz’s estate alone. Treveille says, “I know you have not been with us long, but do you have one or two friends among the Musketeers?” On learning that Lucien does, Treville continues, “Here is a leave for you and one for your friends for one night. I will date it such that you are not due back until midnight tomorrow, which gives you more than 36 hours. I trust that will be sufficient?” Lucien agrees that it will be.

Once they reach DeMainz’s chateau, each is be led into the Duke’s office by Pendu (with his right arm still in a sling). The Baron St. Giron is already there. The statue of the bronze horse from Florence is clearly visible on the pedestal that previously displayed the Codex. Pendu steps over to a panel door and knocks. DeMainz enters and takes a seat behind his large and again empty desk. Pendu stands in attendance behind DeMainz.

DeMainz begins, “My dear Baron, thank you so very much for coming to see me. These men…” the Duke gestures to indicate the three companions, perhaps coincidently his gesture also includes Pendu. “…these men have recently performed a little service on my behalf. I tell you this to ensure that there will be no confusion on your part about any involvement I had in these recent and most unfortunate events and, of course, so that you will also be quite aware of my certain involvement should there be any future unfortunate events involving these gentlemen and yourself or any of your … well let’s just say…of any of your subordinates.

 “In the spirit of total amity I wish to ensure that you, my dear Baron, are totally satisfied as to these events. And to ensure that you do not have even the slightest trace of confusion or doubt, I grant you the favor of asking these gentlemen three questions, which I ask them, on my behalf, to answer most truthfully. And once that is done, we will all drink a little toast together and call this matter settled. Is that understood?

“Monsiuer le Baron?...Gentlemen?” DeMainz waits for assent by word or gesture from all four.

St. Giron asks, “So you are saying that you want me to ignore their insults?”

“My dear Baron, you misunderstand my point completely. I am saying that they could not have insulted you for the simple reason that in this matter they were acting as agents for me. And I certainly did not intend any insult to you, my dear, dear Baron. I seek to insult no one. I have no enemies. At least…” he turns to face St. Giron directly and speaks coldly and precisely, “…none still living.” Continuing in a pleasanter voice, “I trust that everything is now quite, quite, clear? Yes?”

St. Giron asks “Where is the DaVinci Codex now.” To which Guy, after looking to DeMainz and seeing an infinitesimal nod in response, answers that “It is where it will trouble no one anymore. It has been consigned to the flames.” St. Giron next asks “Where are the letters of commission that I gave to you?”

Guy replies “I gave them to the Duke.” DeMainz takes the letters from a drawer in his desk, shows them to St. Giron, then tosses them onto the fire. The Baron sighs with relief, then asks his third and final question.

“Who are you really, Guy de Bourges?” 

To which Guy replies “I am simply a minor noble making my way in the world – but while you may have an issue with me, I will not accept attacks on my family or my friends by your subordinates.”

DeMainz intercedes, “Please Monsieur de Bourges, there is no need here for any of you to make threats in this matter. I am sure we are all now one in accord. In fact, I suggest a toast.” DeMainz pours a dram of brandy in each of five glasses.

“To France, to a better world, and to an absolute end of any unpleasantries amongst us!”

As no one wants a quarrel with the Duke DeMainz, this appears to put an end to the hostilities between Guy and St. Giron, at least on the surface. St. Giron leaves and soon after Guy and company are excused. Guy sends for Fabre in preparation for their departure. Before they leave the villa, Guy runs into Johnny Coppers, who tells Guy, “Well matey, that is one colorful hat ye got there. And the suit too. By Sir John’s Ghost,[i] I don’t think I’ve ever seen sich before. I’d heard that ye lost all your fancy duds, but it seems I were in error. Well no matter, the Duke he says to gives you this.” Coppers hands Guy a sack heavy jingling with coins. “We’ve also arranged for a new place for you to hang your hammock. Madam de Fleury that be the name o’ your new landlady. You’ll find her in the middle of the street just east of the Plac-ee Royal-ee. Hope you like the place.”

[i]     Sir John Hawkins (1532-1595) an English shipbuilder, naval commander, merchant, navigator, pirate, and slave trader.

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