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   Chapter 12 IN HIDING

At Agincourt By G. A. Henty Characters: 33829

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

The news of this terrible danger was so wholly unexpected that Guy for a moment felt almost paralyzed.

"It seems almost incredible that such wickedness could take place!" he exclaimed.

"My information is certain," the count replied. "I do not say that I think your Burgundian friends are in so much danger as some of those of the king's party, as Burgundy's influence with these Parisians goes for something; still, he might not be able to save them if they waited till the demand was made, although he might warn them if he learned that they were to be among those demanded."

"Does the duke, then, know what is intended?"

The count smiled. "We know what followed the last reconciliation," he said, "and can guess pretty shrewdly at what will happen now. Then the duke murdered Orleans, now he may take measures against the supporters of the present duke. It was certain that the struggle would begin again as soon as the kiss of peace had been exchanged. Last time he boldly avowed his share in the murder; this time, most conveniently for him, the Parisians are ready and eager to do his work for him. Dismiss from your mind all doubt; you can rely upon everything that I have told you as being true. Whether you can convince these young knights is a matter that concerns me not; but remember that if you fail to convince your mistress, her life and those of her children are forfeited; and that, so far as I can see, her only hope of safety is in taking refuge here."

"I thank you with all my heart," Guy said, "and will now set about carrying out your advice. First, I will return to my lady and consult with her, and see what we had best do with the men. As to Count Charles d'Estournel and his friends, I will see them as soon as I have arranged the other matter. Their case is not so pressing, for, at least, when once beyond the gates they will be safe. I will see that my lady and the children shall be ready to accompany your daughter when she comes for them."

"Look well up and down the street before you sally out," the count said; "see that there are but few people about. It is a matter of life and death that no one who knows you shall see you leave this house."

Guy followed his advice, and waited until there was no one within fifty yards of the door, then he went out, crossed the street, took the first turning he came to, and then made his way back to the silversmith's as fast as he could.

"What ails you, Guy?" Dame Margaret said as he entered the room, "you look sorely disturbed, and as pale as if you had received some injury."

"Would that that were all, my lady. I have had news from the Count of Montepone of so strange and grave a nature that I would not tell you it, were it not that he is so much in earnest, and so well convinced of its truth that I cannot doubt it."

He then related what the count had told him, and repeated the offer of shelter he had made.

"This is, indeed, beyond all bounds," she said. "What, is it credible that the Duke of Burgundy and the king's son, the Duke of Aquitaine, can hand over to this murderous mob of Paris noble gentlemen and ladies?"

"As to Burgundy, madame, it seems to me from what the count said that he himself is at the bottom of the affair, though he may not know that the Parisians demand the lives of some of his own knights as well as those of his opponents. As he did not of old hesitate to murder Orleans, the king's own brother, we need credit him with no scruples as to how he would rid himself of others he considers to stand in his way. As to Aquitaine, he is a young man and powerless. There are no Orleanist nobles in the town to whom he might look for aid; and if a king's brother was slain, why not a king's son? It seems to me that he is powerless."

"That may be; but I cannot consent to what the count proposes. What! disguise myself! and hide from this base mob of Paris! It would be an unworthy action."

"It is one that I knew you would shrink from, madame; but pardon me for saying that it is not your own life only, but those of your children that are at stake. When royal princes and dukes are unable to oppose these scoundrel Parisians, women and children may well bend before the storm."

Dame Margaret sat for some time with knitted brows. At last she said: "If it must be, Guy, it must. It goes sorely against the grain; but for the sake of the children I will demean myself, and will take your advice. Now you had best summon the four men-at-arms and talk over their case with them."

Guy went upstairs and fetched the four men down.

"We have sure news, my friends," Dame Margaret said calmly, "that to-night we and many others shall be seized by the mob and slain."

An exclamation of rage broke from the four men.

"There will be many others slain before that comes about," Long Tom said.

"That I doubt not, Tom, but the end would be the same. An offer of refuge has been made to me and the children, and for their sake, unwilling as I am to hide myself from this base mob, I have brought myself to accept it. My brave esquire will stay in Paris in disguise, and do what may be to protect us. I have now called you to talk about yourselves. The gates will speedily be guarded and none allowed to sally out, therefore what is to be done must be done quickly."

"We will all stay and share your fate, madame. You could not think that we should leave you," Robert Picard said, and the others murmured their agreement.

"You would add to my danger without being able to benefit me," she said, "and my anxiety would be all the greater. No, you must obey my commands, which are that you forthwith quit Paris. Beyond that I must leave you to judge your own course. As French men-at-arms none would question you when you were once beyond the gate. You may find it difficult to travel in this disturbed time, but you are shrewd enough to make up some story that will account for your movements, and so may work your way back to Villeroy. The difficulty is greater in the case of your English comrade-his height and that light hair of his and ruddy face would mark him anywhere, and if he goes with you would add to your danger, especially as his tongue would betray him as being English the first time he spoke. However, beyond ordering you to quit Paris, I must leave this matter in your hands and his, and he will doubtless take counsel with my esquire and see if any disguise can be contrived to suit him. I will see you again presently. You had best go with them, Guy, and talk the matter over."

"This thing cannot be done, Master Guy," the archer said doggedly when they reached their apartments; "it is not in reason. What should I say when I got home and told them at Summerley that I saved my own skin and left our dear lady and the children to be murdered without striking a blow on their behalf? The thing is beyond all reason, and I will maintain it to be so."

"I can understand what you say, Tom, for I feel exactly as you do. The question is, how is the matter to be arranged?" Then he broke into French, which the archer by this time understood well enough, though he could speak it but poorly.

"Tom is saying that he will not go, men," he said, "and I doubt not that you feel as he does. At the same time our lady's orders must be carried out in the first place, and you must leave Paris. But I say not that you need travel to any distance; on the contrary, I should say that, if it can be arranged, you must return here in a few days, having so changed your attire and aspect that there is no fear of your being recognized, and bestow yourself in some lodging where I may find you if there be need of your services."

"That is what will be best, Master Guy," Robert Picard said. "We have but to get steel caps of another fashion to pass well enough, and if need be we can alter the fashion of our hair. There are few here who have noticed us, and I consider that there is no chance whatever of our being recognized. There are plenty of men among the cut-throats here who have served for a while, and we can easily enough get up some tale that will pass muster for us three. That matter is simple enough, the question is, what are we to do with Tom? We cannot shorten his stature, nor give his tongue a French twist."

"No, that is really the difficulty. We might dye that hair of his and darken his face, as I am going to do myself. There are tall men in France, and even his inches would not matter so much; the danger lies in his speech."

"I would never open my mouth, Master Guy; if need were I would sooner cut out my tongue with a dagger."

"You might bleed to death in the doing of it, Tom. No; we must think of something better than that. You might perhaps pass as a Fleming, if we cannot devise any other disguise."

"Leave that to me, Master Guy, I shall think of something. I will at any rate hide somewhere near Paris, and the lads here will let me know where they are to be found, and I shall not be long before I join them in some such guise as will pass muster. But it will be necessary that we should know where you will be, so that you can communicate with us."

"That I don't know myself yet; but I will be every evening in front of Notre Dame when the bell strikes nine, and one of you can meet me there and tell me where you are bestowed, so that I can always send for you in case of need. Now I think that you had better lose no time, for we know not at what hour a guard will be placed on the gate. You had better go out in pairs as if merely going for a walk. If you are stopped, as may well happen, return here; but as you come purchase a length of strong rope, so that you may let yourselves down from the wall. Now that peace has been made, there will be but slight watch save at the gates, and you should have no difficulty in evading the sight of any who may be on guard."

"That will be easy enough," Robert Picard said confidently. "We had best not come back here, for there may be a watch set upon the house and they may follow us."

"The only thing that troubles me," Tom said, "is that I must leave my bow behind me."

"You can get another when you get back to Villeroy; there are spare ones there."

"Yes, yes, but that is not the same thing, Master Guy; a man knows his own bow, and when he takes to a fresh one his shooting is spoilt until he gets to know it well. Every bow has its niceties; for rough shooting it makes but little matter, but when it comes to aiming at the slit in a knight's vizor at eighty yards one makes poor shooting with a strange bow."

"Well, you must practise with your new one, that is all, Tom; and if you hide yours here it may be that you will be able to recover it before we start for Villeroy. You must leave your bundles behind, it would look suspicious if you were to attempt to take them with you. I should advise you to put on one suit over the other, it will not add greatly to your bulk. When you are ready to start, come below and our lady will say good-bye to you. Do not give her a hint that you are thinking of staying near Paris; if she asks any questions say that you intend to disguise Tom, and he will travel with you."

A few minutes later there was a tapping at Dame Margaret's door; Guy opened it and the four men entered.

"I wish you good fortunes, my friends," Dame Margaret said. "Here is a letter, Robert, that I have written to my lord telling him that you have all served me faithfully and well, and that I commend you to him. I have told him that you are leaving me by my special orders, and that you would willingly have stopped and shared my danger, but that, as I feel that force would avail nothing and your presence might lead to the discovery of my hiding-place, I bid you go. Here are four purses to pay the expenses of your journey and of any disguises you may find it necessary to adopt. And now farewell. Tarry not an instant, my heart will be lighter when I know that you are beyond the walls."

She held out her hand to them; each in turn knelt and kissed it, the three Frenchmen in silence but with tears running down their cheeks. Tom was the last, and said as he rose:

"I am obeying your orders, Lady Margaret, but never before have I felt, as I feel now, that I am doing a mean and cowardly action. I would rather stay by your side, though I knew that I should be cut in pieces this very night, than leave you thus."

"I doubt it not, Tom. I know well how your inclinations lie, and yet I feel that it is necessary that you should go. If the great nobles cannot withstand this cruel mob of Paris, the arm of a single man can avail nothing, and your presence would bring danger rather than safety to me."

"I feel that, my lady; did I not do so I would not go even at your command. You are my liege lady, and I have a right to give my life for you, and would do it were it not that I see that, as you say, my staying here would bring danger upon you."

As soon as they had gone Dame Margaret said: "Now, Guy, I will detain you no longer; hasten and warn your friends."

Guy hurried away; he found that Count Charles was on the point of mounting to go for a ride with some of his friends.

"Stay a moment I beg of you, Count," Guy said as he hurried up, "I have a matter of most serious import to tell you."

"Wait, my friends," the young count said to Sir Pierre Estelle, Count

Walter de Vesoul, and the Sieur John de Perron, who were already mounted;

"I shall not detain you many minutes."

"Well, what is it, friend Guy?" he asked as he entered his room.

"I have come to warn you of a great danger, Count. This evening a mob of Parisians, I know not how numerous, but at least of great strength, will demand from Burgundy and the Duke of Aquitaine the surrender to them of you and the others who took part in defeating them the other night, besides other gentlemen, and, as I hear, ladies."

"Pardieu! if it be so the duke will give the impudent knaves their answer."

"Ten thousand armed men are not apt to take an answer, Count. You know that many times already the Duke of Burgundy has been overborne by the leaders of these Parisians and forced to do things that must have displeased him, as they displeased you all, therefore I implore you to ride off while you may. Even now it is possible that the gales may be closed, but if so, they are not likely to be strongly guarded. It is evident that your going would at any rate save the duke from grave embarrassment."

"Are you sure that this news is true?" the count asked.

"Absolutely certain. If you would save yourself and your friends I pray you to call upon them at once to mount and ride in a body to one of the gates. You may bid some of your retainers mount and follow you at a short distance, and if you find the gates closed and the fellows will not let you out, call them up and fight your way out. You can stay for to-night at Sèvres, and if you find in the morning that I have not spoken truly you can return and upbraid me as you will. If, however, you find that strange events have happened here, then you had best ride away to Burgundy and stay there until you find that these villainous knaves here have been reduced to order, which methinks it will need an army to undertake."

The count went to the window, opened it, and called his friends below to come up.

"No, no," D'Estelle said laughing; "if we once come up we shall stay there. If you cannot come now, join us at the Lion d'Or at Sèvres, where you will find us eating the dinner that we have sent on to order."

"The matter is urgent," D'Estournel said. "I am not joking with you, but pray you to come up at once."

Seeing that the matter was serious the three knights dismounted and went up. They were at first absolutely incredulous when they heard from Count Charles what Guy had told them.

"That the knaves owe us no good-will I know well enough," Count Walter said, "for they have over and over again laid their complaint against us before the duke; but it is hard to believe that they would dare to demand what Burgundy would never grant."

Guy repeated the arguments that he had used with D'Estournel.

"There is no limit," he said, "to the arrogance of these knaves, and in truth it cannot be denied that they are masters here, and that even the duke cannot altogether withstand them; and you know, moreover, how essential is their goodwill to him. But even should he ever so obstinately refuse their demands they might well take their way without his leave. What can he, with a handful of knights and a few hundred armed men, do against the mob of Paris? I earnestly pray you, gentlemen, to treat the matter as serious. Warn your eight friends without delay; bid your retainers mount and ride to the gate. If it is open, all the better, it is but a party of pleasure bound for Sèvres, and if you learn to-mo

rrow morning that all is quiet here you can return. If it seems better to you, and this may save you much argument, merely ask your friends to mount and ride with you to dine there; if any refuse, say you have a motive that they will learn when they get there, and almost compel them to go with you. I pledge you my honour that you will have no reason to regret having taken my advice."

"Well, what do you say, gentlemen?" Count Walter asked. "As Master Aylmer says, it will at worst be but a carouse, which I hope he will share with us."

"That I would right gladly do," Guy replied, "but I have the safety of my lady and her children to look after, for she too, as well as our four men-at-arms, have incurred the enmity of these butchers. I have sent the men out of the town, and a place of safety has been prepared for her and the children. I shall see them safely bestowed there at nightfall."

"Since you have thought such preparations necessary we will at any rate act on the information that you have given us, and will promise not to blame you unduly should it turn out that the affair you speak of does not come off. Let us lose no time, gentlemen; let us each go to two of our friends and take no denial from them to our invitation to dine with us at Sevres. Let us say nothing to them about bringing their men-at-arms and grooms with them. We can ourselves muster some thirty fighting men, and that should be enough with our own swords to bring these knaves to reason if they keep their gates shut against us."

"As my arrangements are all made," Guy said, "and I have an hour to spare,

I shall walk down towards the gate and see what comes of it."

The four gentlemen at once mounted and rode off,-after giving directions to their grooms to order their men-at-arms to mount at once and to wait for them at a spot a quarter of a mile from the gate,-and Guy strolled off in the same direction. In half an hour he had the satisfaction of seeing the men-at-arms ride up and halt as ordered. Walking a little further on he saw that something unusual had happened. Groups of people were standing about talking, and each man who came up from the gate was questioned. Joining one of the groups he soon learned that the excitement was caused by the unusual closing of the gates, no one being allowed either to enter or pass out. None could account for this proceeding. It was certain that it had not been done by the orders either of the Dukes of Aquitaine or Burgundy,-for there were no royal guards or men-at-arms with the duke's cognizance,-but by men of the city, who, as all agreed, must be acting under the orders of the butchers.

"It is a bold deed," one said, "for which they will have to account. It is a usurpation of authority, and one the Duke of Aquitaine, who is now king in all but name, will surely resent hotly."

"How strong is the party?" one of the bystanders asked, putting the question that Guy had on his lips.

"Some forty or fifty, all stout fellows with steel caps and breast-pieces, and well armed."

Guy turned and walked back to the spot where the Burgundian men-at-arms were drawn up. In ten minutes D'Estournel and his party rode up. Guy was glad to see that he had with him the whole of his companions. He at once went up to them.

"The gates are closed, Count, and held by forty or fifty of the townsmen in arms, so you see that my information was correct. Had you not better tell your friends of the truth now, for otherwise they might hesitate to take so grave a step as to attack them?"

D'Estournel nodded, and, riding to the others, said in a low voice: "Gentlemen, we had not intended to let you into this little mystery until we had left Paris, but I find it necessary to do so now. I have learned surely that the rabble of Paris have resolved upon massacring us to-night for the share we took in that little affair at the provost of the silversmiths. To that end they have shut the gates, and hold it with some fifty armed men. It is as well that some of us have brought our men-at-arms here. I can hardly fancy that these rascals will try to prevent us from passing out, seeing that they have no warrant but their own for closing the gates against us, but if they do there is nothing for it but to open them ourselves. Let us ride forward at once, gentlemen, for these fellows may receive a reinforcement at any time."

So saying, he put spurs to his horse, calling upon the men-at-arms to follow. His three companions, who were already in the secret, joined him at once; and the others, after a pause of astonishment and almost incredulity, followed, in no way loath at the chance of another fight with the followers of the butchers. As they approached the gate the townsmen hastily drew up in front of it.

"What means this?" Count Walter de Vesoul said haughtily, as he reined up his horse a few paces from the line. "By what authority do you dare close the gates and thus stand armed before them?"

"By the authority of the city of Paris," the leader of the party said insolently.

"I recognize no such authority while the king and the Duke of Aquitaine, who holds his full powers, are resident here. Clear the way, my man, and open the gates, or I will ride over you."

The butcher answered him with a derisive laugh. "It will cost you your lives if you attempt it," he said.

"Gentlemen, draw your swords and give these rough fellows the lesson they need;" and, setting the example, he rode at the butcher and cut him down. The idea that the Burgundian knights would venture to force a passage in the teeth of the prohibition of the master of the butchers had apparently not so much as entered the minds of the guard, and as soon as the knights and their followers fell upon them, the greater portion of them flung down their arms and fled, a few only fighting stoutly until overpowered. As soon as the skirmish was over the keys were brought out from the guard-room, and the gate unlocked and the massive bars taken down. In the meantime some of the men-at-arms had run up on to the wall, hoisted the portcullis, and lowered the drawbridge across the fosse. As soon as they returned and mounted the party rode through. As they did so, four men ran out from a lane near the wall and followed them; and Guy at once recognized in them the archer and his three companions. Greatly pleased, he returned to the city and informed Dame Margaret of what had taken place.

"No doubt," he said, "when they found the gates shut they remembered what I had said, that I was going to warn Count Charles and his friends, and went back to observe what these were doing; and the sight of their retainers going towards the gate must have told them which way they intended to leave; and they, no doubt, went down and hid up near the gate to watch the conflict, and to take advantage of it, if a chance offered, to get off themselves."

"That is indeed a satisfaction, Guy; and I am glad, too, that your friends got away. There can be no doubt now that the count's information was accurate; the gates having been closed, as he said they would be, vouches for this. Katarina has been here; she was dressed this time as an apprentice in the service of some trader, and brought a large box containing our disguises and yours. For you there is a bottle of dye for your hair, a mixture for darkening your skin, and clothes-the latter such as would be worn by a workman. Charlie is to wear a girl's dress, at which he is mightily offended; nor is Agnes better pleased, for a boy's suit has been sent for her. My disguise is simply a long cloak with a hood, such as is worn by the wives of small traders. Katarina explained that it had been thought better to change the sex of Agnes and Charlie, so that, when a hue and cry is raised for a missing woman, with a girl of fourteen, and a boy of ten, no one should associate the woman with two lads and a little girl, whom they passed in the street, as being the party for which search is being made. And now, Guy, do you not think that we should warn our good host of the danger that threatens, for, doubtless, he also has been marked out as a victim?"

"I will see him at once, and will tell him as much as it is necessary for him to know. Assuredly it is now too late for him to escape beyond the walls, unless he were to take his wife with him, and bring his serving-men to let them down from the walls; but this, I should think, he will not do, he would rather take refuge in the house of some of his friends."

The silversmith listened gravely when Guy told him that he had received sure information that the butchers would that evening make a slaughter of some of their opponents, that they would be in such force that resistance would be hopeless, and that the few royal troops and the followers of Burgundy would be insufficient to make head against them.

"Your news does not surprise me, and though I know not how you came by it, I fear that it is true. The news that the city gates have been all shut and are being guarded by strong parties of the butchers' rabble, shows but too surely that there is danger in the air. In the first place, there is your lady to be thought of; I must endeavour to obtain for her also shelter among my friends."

"We have already arranged for a hiding-place for her and the children, Ma?tre Leroux. I may not name where it is to anyone, but suffice that it is a quiet house where there is little fear of any suspicions resting upon them, and where they will be able to remain until order is restored."

"I fear that that will be a long time," the silversmith said. "The butchers boast that they can place 20,000 men under arms, and indeed the terror excited by them is so great, that very many who hate their doings as much as I do myself have been forced to make a semblance of joining them. Next about your men-at-arms, they are brave fellows and I owe them much."

"They are all safe outside the walls. Some Burgundian knights, indignant that this rabble should dare stop them, cut their way out through the Port St. Denis, and our men took advantage of the gates being open to follow them."

"And as to yourself, Master Aylmer?"

"I have dyes to blacken my hair and a tincture for darkening my face. I have also a disguise by which I may pass as an apprentice to a trader. I shall at all hazards remain in Paris, but what I shall yet do I know not. And now about yourself and Madame Leroux-you will not, I hope, think of defending the house as you did before."

"Certainly not; it would not avail to save our lives, and would assuredly cost those of my servitors and most likely of the women. I have friends, who will, I hope, gladly take us in. Ma?tre Lepelletiere, the Master Carpenter, who has been doing my doors, is an old friend of mine, and after the last attack, urged me to withdraw for a time from the attention of the mob, and offered me refuge in his place. He lives in the Rue des Fosses; which is close to the old inner wall that is now for the most part in ruins. You pass along by the hospital, and when beyond the old wall turn to the right; 'tis the third doorway. There are no houses facing it, but it looks straight upon the wall, the ground between being some thirty or forty yards wide; and doubtless when the house was built, it was before the present wall was erected, and stood on the outer side of the fosse round the old one. There are many others of the same trade who live in that quarter, and as they are for the most part opposed to the butchers, I doubt not that my friend will have no difficulty in obtaining a lodging for you among them should no other have been settled upon."

"Thank you indeed," Guy replied; "the arrangement has been made by others, and I know not for certain what has yet been decided upon, but should not a suitable place have been chosen I will gladly accept your offer."

"And now I must set to work," the silversmith said.

"In what way?" Guy asked in surprise.

"In hiding my wares. In a city like Paris, with its sieges and its tumults, a prudent man having goods of great value will assuredly prepare a place of safety for them. I will set my men to work at once; the business must be finished before it becomes dark, for as soon as it does so we must leave the house and close it."

"I have nothing to do at present, and shall be glad to help your men," Guy said.

He followed the silversmith downstairs. Ma?tre Leroux called his head man.

"We must move, Jacques, and that quickly; you have heard that the gates are shut."

"Yes, master, people are talking of nothing else."

"I have news that there will be trouble to-night, so we must set to work at once to place the chests in safety. First let them clear out the wood-cellar."

This was done in a few minutes by the seven men, then Jacques told the others to go back into the shop and pack up all the silver goods in the chests. As soon as they were gone Jacques looked inquiringly at his master, who nodded. Then he touched a brick in the wall some seven feet above the floor; it sprung back.

"Will you lift me up?" the man said to Guy. The lad did as he was asked, and the man thrust his arm into the orifice. A moment later he asked Guy to set him down.

"Go to the doorway," he said, and hurried across to where Ma?tre Leroux was standing; then kneeling down he pushed his hand under the sill of the doorway and then stood up.

"Do you hear that?" the silversmith said.

"I hear a dull rumbling somewhere," Guy replied. As he spoke he saw half the floor, which was apparently of solid flags, beginning to rise.

"This was done in my father's time," Ma?tre Leroux said, "and it was made for him by Ma?tre Lepelletiere's father with the aid of two or three good smiths, who put the machinery together at his house and were in ignorance where it was intended to be placed."

The trap-door was now raised, and Guy to his astonishment saw a stream of running water three feet below the opening.

"Whence comes this?" he asked in astonishment.

"No wonder you are surprised," the silversmith said; "it was a piece of rare good-luck that my father hit upon it. A map that he had showed him that in the old days, before there were any houses on this side of the river, a narrow branch left the stream some hundred yards above the position of his house, made a circuit and came into it again as much below. He inquired among some old men, and learned that they had heard their grandfathers say that they knew that at some time or other this stream had been built over when Paris began to grow in this direction. After he had contrived this apparatus that you see, which is worked by a heavy counterpoise in the wall, he began to dig, and a foot below the surface came upon an arch of brickwork, so my father concluded that his house was exactly over the old stream.

"On breaking through the crown he discovered, as you see, that the water still flowed through this tunnel, which is some three and a half yards wide and eight feet deep. My men, all of whom are trusty fellows, know of the existence of this hiding-place, but Jacques is the only one besides myself who knows the secret of the opening. Now, Jacques, fetch the chests along as fast as they are ready."

The chests were soon brought up and one by one lowered. Chains were attached from the handle of each to that of the one that followed; they were almost the weight of the water and sank until within an inch-or two of the surface. Each was floated down as it was lowered, until twenty great chests had been taken down. Then one more heavy and ponderous than the rest was attached to the train, and a sloping board being placed from the cellar floor to the bottom of the stream, the case was allowed to slide down this until it rested on the bottom several feet beyond the trap-door.

"There you see," the silversmith said, "even if they discovered the trap-door and broke up the floor with sledgehammers, which would be no easy matter, and probed the stream with lances, they would find nothing. As you saw, there is a chain to the end of the last box, which is, as it were, an anchor to the rest; this chain Jacques will now attach to a strong wire, and fasten that to a ring below the water's edge, and a foot beyond the trap-door, so that when danger is past we shall haul up the chain and recover the cases one by one in the order in which they have been sent down."

As soon as Jacques had fastened the wire to the ring he touched another heavy spring under the sill, then pulled hard on the trap-door; this gradually began to sink, and in a minute was in its place again. At the same time the brick that had been pushed in above came out into its place again, dust was then swept into the crack at the edge of the trapdoor, and no one who had not seen the latter raised would have dreamt of its existence.

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