Saturday, August 22, 2015

Adventure 06: The Dying Messenger--Chapter II

Chapter II: Experientia Mundanis

When Guy and Father Signoret arrive at the Les Deux Chevaux, Gaston is sitting with La Chat Calico on his lap. Gaston asks “Who’s the Black Crow?”[i] Attempting to forestall an argument, Guy hurriedly makes introductions and orders a couple of bottles of wine and two capons from La Chat. She goes to the kitchen to see to the capons. Lucien shows up and they all begin drinking heavily. Guy asks, “Gaétan, who is it exactly who is wanting to get this ‘experience of the world’? Is this just your or is it your whole order?”

Signoret replies, “It is just me. For now it is a trial to see how well it works.”

La Chat, who is refilling their drinks, says “Experience the world, eh? Carla, another priest needs some worldly experience!”

“Well his sword certainly looks promising!” She and Carla laugh.

Gaston warns, “Not here, not now, and not a with Jesuit.” He hustles the other three out of the room. “Time we got up to seek some experience out in the world! I’ll be back, my Dove!”

La Chat complains, “Late as usual, I’m certain! This time try not to bleed all over my floor when you get back.” Gaston laughs lightly, blows her a kiss then turns and leaves. Behind him, La Chat does a half turn slapping her hand lightly on her rear.

The four wander from inn to tavern getting ever more inebriated as they give the good Father an extensive tour of Paris’ drinking establishments. At one point they find themselves by the Fountain of Sainte-Catherine where they see a girl pleading with a noble richly dressed in the most elegant of courtly fashion. She proclaims her love and faithfulness to him, but he in turn rejects her; then he and his oh-so-elegantly dressed, but foppish friends publicly tease her and speak of her most cruelly, calling her a harlot and a drab and chivvying her about the fountain. Father Signoret asks the gentlemen to leave her be so she can go with him to chapel. She refuses to go to chapel instead proclaiming that she is in love with the noble and that she is going to have his baby. She hangs on his arm, pleading with him to take her with him and swearing that the baby is his. The companions notice that the girl may be pregnant, though it is difficult to tell for certain. Guy recognizes the wealthy courtier as the Chevalier de Branville a man whose wealth is as great as his reputation is odious. Branville says that the child is unlikely to be his and thrusts the girl, whose name is Isabeau, aside spurning her. She falls to the pavement and Father Signoret draws his sword as if to attack Branville to defend her from him, but Isabeau hangs onto the Father’s sword arm to prevent him from attacking her beau.

Branville recognizes Guy as a friend of the Vicomte de Chambre or, as his friends call him, Chancie and takes the opportunity to poke fun at Guy’s choice of friends in general and at Chancie in particular; the dandies with Branville sycophantically fawn on his every word and laugh at his every sally. Guy tells Branville that he prefers quality over quantity, implying that Branville who has twice as many friends with him as does Guy, must prefer the opposite. Their banter continues, but eventually Guy convinces Branville to give 100L in case the child is his. Father Signoret persuades the girl to go with him and try to reform. She will go to confession and do light housework around the church while Father Signoret doles out the money that Branville has provided to mother and child to be.

After conducting Isabeau to the church, the four companions continue their tavern tour ending up well after midnight in the Latin Quarter. Leaving a tavern near the University of Paris, as they turn the corner onto the Rue St. Jacques, they run into a man, or more precisely he runs into Lucien. As he collapses into the Musketeer’s arms he says one word, “Villeauxclercs,” before going limp. Dressed in the blood-soaked and mud bespattered traveling clothes of a gentleman, he is carrying both pistol and rapier and a blood-stained letter juts from inside of his jerkin. He is bleeding from a gunshot wound to the back. The companion’s examination is interrupted by the clatter of horseshoes on cobblestones as eight or ten riders draw rein around them. Several of the riders are known to Guy, Lucien, and Gaston – as is their leader, the Baron Saint Giron. The Baron insists that he and his men will take charge of the body, saying, “This man is dead. Go your way gentlemen and leave him to us. We will report his death to the authorities. However, we will agree, as a favor to your friend the Duke, to allow you all to leave, rather than holding you here for questioning by the authorities.”

Guy insists that the man may not be dead and should be given medical treatment “Surely this close to the University there must be a Doctor about.” Father Signoret says that as a Priest, if the man is dying it is his duty to administer the Last Rites. Guy summons Fabre, signaling him by hand sign to administer a poultice and to say nothing if the man is already dead. As Fabre stabilizes the dying man, Father Signoret slowly administers the Last Rites delaying and annoying St. Giron. Meanwhile, Guy appropriates the man’s letter. St. Giron sends one of his men to summon a carriage to take the dying man to some nearby hospital. The companions depart leaving the man, weak from loss of blood, but no longer dying. They return to Guy’s new apartments in the Place Royal to examine the letter.

[i]     Black Crow is a derogatory term for members of the Society of Jesus derived from their black dress.

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