supported by a branch of olive dexter and a stag’s horn sinister. In his girdle he wore a rich dagger, the silver-gilt hilt being wrought in the form of a helmet and surmounted by a count’s coronet. He had a venomous eye, and his manner was haughty and overbearing. At the first glance you were struck by the arrogance of his face, at the second by its craftiness. He stood bareheaded, a long written scroll in his hand, behind the arm-chair in which sat a very shabbily dressed personage in an uncouth attitude, his shoulders stooping, his knees crossed, his elbow on the table. Picture to yourself in that rich Cordovan chair a pair of bent knees, two spindle shanks poorly clad in close-fitting black worsted breeches, the body wrapped in a loose coat of fustian the fur lining of which showed more leather than hair, and to crown the whole, a greasy old hat of mean black felt garnished all round by a string of little leaden figures. This, with the addition of a dirty skull-cap, beneath which hardly a hair was visible, was all that could be seen of the seated personage. His head was bowed so low on his breast that nothing was visible of his deeply shadowed face but the end of his nose, on which a ray of light fell, and which was evidently very long. By his emaciated and wrinkled hands one divined him to be an old man. It was Louis XI.

At some distance behind them, two men habited after the Flemish fashion were conversing in low tones. They were not so completely lost in the gloom but that any one who had attended the performance of Gringoire’s Mystery could recognise them as the two chief Flemish envoys: Guillaume Rym, the sagacious pensionary of Ghent, and Jacques Coppenole, the popular hosier. It will be remembered that these two men were concered with the secret politics of Louis XI.

And finally, quite in the dim background near the door, there stood, motionless as a statue, a brawny, thick-set man in military accoutrements and an emblazoned coat, whose square, low-browed face with its prominent eyes, immense slit of a mouth, ears concealed beneath two wide flaps of smooth hair, seemed a cross between the bulldog and the tiger.

All were uncovered except the King.

The knightly personage standing behind the King was reading out items from a sort of long memorandum, to which his Majesty appeared to listen attentively. The two Flemings whispered together.

“By the rood!” grumbled Coppenole, “I’m tired of standing. Is there never a chair here?”

Rym replied with a negative gesture, accompanied by a discreet smile.

Croix-Dieu!” resumed Coppenole, sorely exercised at having to lower his voice, “I am devoured by the desire to plump myself down cross-legged on the floor as I do in my own shop.”

“You had best beware of doing so, Maître Jacques,” was the reply.

“Heyday! Maître Guillaume, may a man then be only on his feet here?”

“Or on his knees,” said Rym. At that moment the King raised his voice and they ceased their talking.

“Fifty sols for the gowns of our valets, and twelve livres for the mantles of the crown clerks! That’s the way! Pour out the gold by tons! Are you crazed, Olivier?”

As he spoke the old man raised his head, and you could see the golden shells of the collar of Saint- Michael glittering round his neck. The candle shone full on his fleshless and morose countenance. He snatched the paper from the hands of the other.

“You are ruining us!” he cried, casting his hollow eyes over the schedule. “What’s all this? What need have we of so prodigious a household? Two chaplains at ten livres a month each, and a chapel clerk at a hundred sols! A valetde-chambre at ninety livres a year! Four kitchen masters at a hundred and sixty livres a year each! A roaster, a soupdresser, a sauce-dresser, a head cook, an armourer, two sumpter men at the rate of ten livres a month each! Two turnspits at eight livres! A groom and his two helpers at

  By PanEris using Melati.

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