Page:Yule Logs.djvu/255

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luck would have it, I was called forth from my own quarters—or rather from the little salon of Alison de Prie (who was a maid of honour, and who had invited me in to partake of a pâté de bécasse which her father had sent her from his property near Tours) by an order to attend on D'Hautefeuille in his quarters.

Whereon I proceeded thither and found him in a very bad temper—a thing he suffered much from lately, since he also suffered from a gout that teased him terribly. Then, immediately, he burst out on my putting in an appearance.

"Now, Adrian Trent, it is your month of special service, is it not?"

"It is, monsieur," I answered, wondering what was coming next.

"So! very well. Here then is something for you to do—that is, if the turning of my officers into couriers and post-boys and lackeys constitutes ‘special service.’ However, three creatures have to obey orders in this world, soldiers, wives, and dogs, therefore I—and you—must do so. Here, take this," and he tossed to me across his table a mighty great letter on which was a formidable red seal—"have your horse saddled and be off with you to Paris. Give it into the Regent's hand. It is the account of Alberoni's disgrace which that fainéant De Pile could bring all this way, but no farther. Away with you! The King's lieutenant seems to think that De Pile is discharged of his duty here. Away with you! What are you stopping for? You know the road to Paris, I suppose? You ought to. It's hard enough to keep you boys out of it if I give you an afternoon's leave. Be off!"

So off I went, and five minutes afterwards my best grey, La Rose, was saddled, and I was riding swiftly towards where the Regent was at the present moment.

Now, who'd have thought when I went clattering through Sévres and Issy, on that fine winter afternoon, in all the bravery of my full costume—which was the hand-