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." XVA Change of RouteThe note which Mrs.Jenkins then produced didn't say much and nothingexplicit.Addressed to Elias Hoseason, it contained only the words: "Keepwatching what you were told to watch.I am detained.Bring anything of value towhere I would be if I could, and wait there." There was no signature, but therewas a design pressed in wax.Examining it, Jones also identified it as DonRodrigo's seal.Dropping the piece of paper, he grabbed Mrs.Jenkins by the shoulder."Where was the coach going? Was it to the City, or some estate of his, or where?Speak up, damn it!"For once too overawed to gab, she began to whimper."Don't, Master Lucius! Iain't the one that done it.""Easy, fellow," I said."She can't talk if you scare her to death.""Can't you see he's got her that swine has got her? I have to find them andkill him!""They're not together." Golias, who had picked up the note, thrust it beforeJones' eyes."That's why he had to send this.Now you will be quiet and help usfigure things out?"As he reread the missive, some of the wildness left Lucius' face."He does sayhe's detained, doesn't he?""Yes," I assured him."Hang on to that idea while we try to find out something.Did they say anything at all worth repeating, Mrs.Jenkins?" She had recoveredher self-possession."Well, one of 'em said she's a beauty, though whether hewas talking about me or my lady I don't know, and it ain't for me to guess."I tried not to look pained."Did they say anything that gave you an idea wherethey were going?""No," she looked frustrated at being pinned down to a monosyllable."Thatis no.""Your witness," I said to Golias."Let's go back before the kidnapping," the latter suggested."It's clear from thetext of Ravan's note that he had ordered this Hoseason to watch for a chance toabduct Lady Hermione.Finding that she was traveling Watling Street, heapparently got ahead of her and waited for her where the heavy fen mists madethe holdup relatively simple.But how did she happen to give him such anexcellent opportunity? Why did you take to the road in the first place?""That's it!" Lucius came to life."I meant to ask that myself.""Well, you should've done it instead of scaring a body out of her wits," Mrs.Jenkins observed."Well, I left home because she did, as old Hawthorn couldn'tuse a lady's maid, at least not for honest purposes and he needn't think itwould've done him any good for him to come high stepping and cluckingaround me, the rascal.As for my lady, she packed up, and without telling oldHawthorn, who won't like such goings on, especially for the sake of a pennilessbastard.Anyhow she packed up, because she thought Master Lucius here wasgoing to the City." "What!" Jones cried."Why when I left home she wouldn't even speak to me.""Well, she said she'd found out that my Lord Ravan had lied to blacken yourcharacter, and she was following to tell you she was sorry for believing him.""Oh!" The word came out as if it were knocked out of him."Well, back there at Upton," she went on, "my lady found out that my LordRavan maybe wasn't lying; but she didn't want to go back home until oldHawthorn had cooled off about her running away, so she decided to visit friendsin the City, which I was just as glad for, never having been there.Weeping andwailing all the way, she was, and ""That's enough," Golias said.She blinked and looked indignant."You asked me to tell you.""Now I'm asking you to stop," he pointed out, "and if you don't, we'll find thatgag and replace it." He turned to Jones."Pull yourself together, Lucius.Whatcould be so important that it would keep Don Rodrigo from joining a lady afterhaving taken the trouble to have her abducted?"Jones made an obvious effort to get his mind moving in spite of the miserywhich was clogging it."He would only stay away," he said talking to himself butaloud to help himself concentrate, "for the king.Of course!" He didn't exactlybrighten, but keenness replaced his look of hopeless suffering."He must havehad to go to court either because the king wants him for something or to mendhis fences and keep his place as the royal favorite.""Good," Golias said."But that doesn't tell us where Lady Hermione is.""No," Lucius agreed; but instead of relapsing into despond, he hardened hisjaw."He has a dozen or so castles and manors and might use any of them.Theonly way to find out her whereabouts is to get him to tell.And I think we canlocate him shortly.""If he isn't at court, we should at least be able to get on his trail there," Goliasnodded."Let's get started."At the next inn, a few miles down the road, we made arrangements for Mrs.Jenkins to take the coach back east.We then pushed on to Carlion, partly tolose her and partly to help pass the time before the west-bound stage whichwe had decided to take, the expense notwithstanding was due.Carlion was an interesting-looking place, but I didn't get to see much of it.Soon after we had arrived at the inn from which the stages left, Golias made it apoint, as he usually did, to look up the landlord and pump him for information.In a few minutes he came hustling back to our table."We've got to eat in a hurry," he told us."What's the rush?" I asked."Have they changed the schedule?""We're not going to Ilium, or down Watling Street at all," he said."The word isthat the king isn't in the City, but is holding court at a summer palace of his,not far from Parouart.That's north and west along a branch road."Fortunately the meal we bolted, abetting our potations and day of exercise,made us sleepy.Anybody who seeks rest in a stagecoach needs all thesoporifics available.However, I hadn't yet discovered that when I climbed in,pleased to find but one other passenger."See you in the morning," I said, snuggling into a corner and closing my eyes."Right," Golias yawned."These crack lines make the miles get out of the way,so we'll be there by breakfast time." It didn't take a hundred yards to jolt me out of my visions of coziness.In theend I was never so glad to leave a vehicle or less capable of doing so.I felt like anetwork of charley-horses, as I dismounted and peered through the dirt in myeyes at Parouart.In a general way the place reminded me of the old part of New Orleans.Thebuildings had the same secretive air.If anything, the streets were narrower,though, and certainly they were busier and noisier.For the time being mysightseeing went no farther.I wanted a wash and food."What do you plan to do first?" Golias asked Jones, when breakfast and theale with which we chased it made us more ready for action.Lucius lifted his head from his hands."Find a cutler's where I can have mysword sharpened," he said."Then, while they're working on it, I'll go to the HellFire Club.I'm not a member, but several who are were classmates at theuniversity.Being up to snuff on court doings is an article of faith with them, sothey'll know if Don Rodrigo's with the king.There may also be some gossipabout his recent activities."Golias nodded."We'll meet you back here at the Fir Cone, then.Shandon andI have to get new outfits, so we can look presentable at Xanadu."That was to my liking.The clothes I had got from the outlaws were only threeweeks old, but we needed a rest from each other.Although the shirts weordered were too frilly for my taste, I rather fancied myself in an outfit on thestyle of that worn by Jones [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]