Red Eve by H. Rider Haggard

“Cease your foul talk and state your business,” interrupted Sir Andrew, thrusting himself in front of Hugh, who he feared would strike the fellow.

“And pray, who may you be?” asked the lawyer, glancing up at the tall figure that towered above him.

Sir Andrew threw back his hood, revealing his aged, hawk-like countenance, his dark and flashing eyes and his snow-white hair and beard.

“If you would learn, man,” he said, in his great voice, “in the world I was known as Sir Andrew Arnold, one of the priors of the Order of the Templars, which is a name that you may have heard. But now that I have laid aside all worldly pomp and greatness, I am but Father Andrew, of Dunwich, in England.”

“Yes, yes, I have heard the name; who has not?” said the lawyer humbly; “also you are here as guardian to the lady Eve Clavering, are you not, to lay a certain cause before his Holiness? Oh! do not start, all these matters came to my knowledge who am concerned in every great business in Avignon as the chief agent and procurator of the Papal Court, though it is true that this tiding has reached me only within the last few minutes and from the lips of your own people. Holy Father, I pray your pardon for breaking in upon you, which I did only because the matter is very pressing. Sir Hugh de Cressi here has a cause to lay before the Pope with which you may be acquainted. Well, for two days I have striven to win him an audience, and now through my sole influence, behold! ’tis granted. See here,” and he produced a parchment that purported to be signed by the Pope’s secretary and countersigned by a cardinal, and read:

“‘If the English knight, Sir Hugh de Cressi, and his squire, the captain Richard, will be in the chamber of audience at the palace at seven of the clock this evening’ (that is, within something less than half an hour), ‘his Holiness will be pleased to receive them as a most special boon, having learned that the said Sir Hugh is a knight much in favour with his Grace of England, who appointed him his champion in a combat that was lately to be fought at Venice.'”

“That’s true enough, though I know not how the Pope heard of it,” interrupted Hugh.

“Through me, Sir Knight, for I learn everything. None have so much power in Avignon as I, although it often pleases me to seem poor and of no account. But let that pass. Either you must take this opportunity or be content not to see his Holiness at all. Orders have been issued because of the increase of this pest in Avignon, that from to-night forward none shall be admitted to the palace upon any pretext whatsoever; no, not even a king.”

“Then I had best go,” said Hugh.

“Ay,” answered Sir Andrew, “and return here with your tidings as soon as may be. Yet,” he added in a low voice to Grey Dick, “I love not the look of this scurvy guide of yours. Could not your master have found a better attorney?”

“Perhaps,” answered Dick, “that is if one is left alive in Avignon. Being in haste we took the first that came to hand, and it seems that he will serve our turn. At least, if he plays tricks, I promise it will be the worse for him,” and he looked grimly at the rogue, who was talking to David Day and appeared to hear nothing.

So they went, and with them David, who had witnessed the confession of Father Nicholas. Therefore they thought it best that he should accompany them to testify to it if there were need.

“Bid my lady keep a good heart and say that I will be with her again ere long,” said Hugh as they descended the stairs in haste.

Following the guidance of Basil, they turned first this way and then that, till soon in the gathering darkness they knew not where they were.

“What was the name of the street in which Sir Andrew had his lodging?” asked Hugh, halting.

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Categories: Haggard, H. Rider