The Grey Cloak (Chapter 2)

 
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Chapter 2 : Page 1 of 13

The Chevalier du Cévennes occupied the apartment on the first floor of
the Hôtel of the Silver Candlestick, in the Rue Guénégaud. The
apartment consisted of three rooms. In all Paris there was not to be
found the like of them. They were not only elegant, they were simple;
for true elegance is always closely allied to simplicity. Persian rugs
covered the floors, rugs upon which many a true believer had knelt in
evening prayer; Moorish tapestries hung from the walls, making a fine
and mellow background for the various pieces of ancient and modern
armor; here and there were Greek marbles and Italian vases; and several
spirited paintings filled the gaps left between one tapestry and
another. Sometimes the Chevalier entertained his noble friends, young
and old, in these rooms; and the famous kitchens of Madame Boisjoli,
the landlady of the Candlestick, supplied the delicacies of his tables.
Ordinarily the Chevalier dined in the cheery assembly-room below; for,
like all true gourmands of refinement, he believed that there is as
much appetite in a man's ears and eyes as in his stomach, and to feed
the latter properly there must be light, a coming and going of old and
new faces, the rumor of voices, the jest, and the snatch of song.

At this moment the Chevalier was taking a bath, and was splashing about
in the warm water, laughing with the joyous heart of a boy. With the
mild steam rose the vague perfume of violets. Brave as a Crillon
though he was, fearless as a Bussy, the Chevalier was something of a
fop; not the mincing, lisping fop, but one who loved physical
cleanliness, who took pride in the whiteness of his skin, the clarity
of his eyes. There had been summer nights in the brilliant gardens of
La Place Royale when he had been pointed out as one of the handsomest
youths in Paris. Ah, those summer nights, the cymbals and trumpets of
les beaux mousquetaires, the display of feathers and lace, unwrought
pearls and ropes of precious stones, the lisping and murmuring of
silks, the variety of colors, the fair dames with their hoods, their
masks, their elaborate coiffures, the crowds in the balconies! All the
celebrities of court might be seen promenading the Place; and to be
identified as one above many was a plume such as all Mazarin's gold
could not buy.

 
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