“If you will not—-”

“Will not?”–violently. “No, I will not. And why do you ask me? But I prate as badly as you, and we lose time. Are you ready now? Let me look at you.” And feverishly, while she kicked off her own shoes and donned the riding-cloak and drew its hood over her head, she turned the Countess about to assure herself that the disguise was tolerable–in a bad light.

Then, “You will do,” she said roughly, and she pushed the girl from her. “Go now. You know what you have to do.”

“But you?” the little Countess ventured. Words of gratitude were trembling on her lips; there were tears in her eyes. “You–what will you do?”

“You need not trouble about me,” the Abbess retorted. “Play your part well; that is all I ask.”

“At 杭州洗浴中心有哪些 least,” the Countess faltered, “let me thank you.” She would have flung her arms round the other’s neck.

But the Abbess backed from her. “Go, silly fool!” she cried savagely, “unless, after all, you repent and want to keep him.”

The insult gave the needed fillip to the other’s courage. She turned on her heel, opened the door with a firm hand, and, closing it behind her, descended the stairs. The waiting-maid and the grim-faced woman were talking in the passage, but they ceased their gossip on her appearance, and turned their eyes on her. Fortunately the place was ill-lit and full of shadows, and the Countess had the presence of mind to go steadily down to them without word or sign.

“I hope mademoiselle has succeeded,” the waiting-woman murmured respectfully. “It is not a business I favour, I am sure.”

The Countess shrugged her 浙江杭州龙凤妮妮 shoulders–despair giving her courage–and the grim-faced woman moved to the door, unlocked it, and held it wide. The escaping one acknowledged the act by a slight nod, and, passing out, she turned to the right. She walked, giddily and uncertainly, to the open gate in the railing, and then, with some difficulty–for the shoes were too large for her–she descended the two steps to the court. She began to cross the open, and a man here and there, raising his head from his occupation, turned to watch her.
The Countess knew that her knees were shaking under her. The gaze, too, of the men who watched was dreadful to her. She felt her feet slipping from the shoes; she felt the kerchief, that, twined in her hair, gave her height, shift with the movement; she felt her limbs yielding. And she despaired. 杭州桑拿夜生活论坛 She was certain that she could not pass;


she must faint, she must fall. Then the scornful words of the woman she had left recurred to her, stung her, whipped her courage once more; and, before she was aware of it, she had reached the gateway. She was conscious of a crowd of men about her, of all eyes fixed on her, of a jeering voice that hummed:

J’ai perdu mon gallant!”

and–and then she was beyond the gate! The cool air blowing in the gorge between the two breasts fanned her burning cheeks–never breeze more blessed!–and with hope, courage, confidence all in a moment revived and active, she began to descend the winding road that led to the town.

There were men lounging on the road, singly or in groups, who stared at her as she passed; some with thinly-veiled insolence, others in pure curiosity. But they did not dare to address her; though they thought, looking after her, that she bore herself oddly. And she came unmolested to the spot where the road passed under the drawbridge. Here for an instant sick fear shook her anew. Some of the men in the gateway had come out to watch her pass below; she thought that they came to call her back. But save for a muttered jeer and the voice of the jester repeating slyly:杭州夜生活贴吧

A perdu son gallant!”

no one spoke; and as pace by pace her feet carried her from them, carried her farther and farther, her courage returned, she breathed again. She came at the foot of the descent, to the carved stone fountain and the sloping market-place. She took, as ordered, the road that fell away to the right, and in a twinkling she was hidden by the turn from the purview of the castle.

She ventured then–the town seemed to stifle her–to move more quickly; as quickly as her clumsy shoes would let her move on stones sloping and greasy. Here and there a person, struck by something in her walk, turned to take a second glance at her; or a woman in a low doorway bent curious eyes on her as she came and went. She could not tell whether she bred suspicion in them or not, or whether she seemed the same 杭州男士养生会所飞机 woman–but a trifle downcast–who had passed that way before. For she dared not look back nor return their gaze. Her heart beat quickly, and more quickly as the end drew near. Success that seemed within her grasp impelled her at last almost to a run. And then–she was round the corner in the side lane that had been indicated to her, and she saw before her the horses and the men gathered before the chapel gate. And Roger–yes, Roger himself, with a face that worked strangely and words that joy stifled in his throat, was leading her to a horse and lending his knee to mount her. And they were turning, and moving back again into the street.

“There is only the gate now,” he muttered, “only the gate! Courage, mademoiselle! Be steady!”