The Innocent Suspected (Part One of Three)
By Katja L.
“The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.” (Psalm 37:32-33)
Reynard sprang off his bed with a resounding thump and stood erect, full of enthusiasm and joie-de-vivre. He was struggling with his shirt when a sleepy voice erupted through the closed door leading into the adjoining room.
“Confound it, Fairfeather! Can’t a body have some honest sleep when on leave?”
“I beg your pardon, Callaghan,” Reynard replied apologetically. “It’s this confounded shirt—you know how abominable those nuisances are.”
“Well, no, I can’t say that I do,” replied Callaghan, shifting in his bed, his eyes still closed. “I never did understand your continual feud with them.—Well, what now?”
This disagreeable inquiry was provoked by a smothered exclamation on the part of his comrade.
“Well, THIS is pleasant!” was Reynard’s sarcastic reply.
“I daresay,” answered Callaghan, ironically, “but I really think you could be quieter about it.—NOW what is it?”
In reply he heard Reynard tramping about his room, then: “I say, Callaghan! have you seen my doublet?”
“No,” grunted Callaghan, resolutely squeezing his eyes shut.
“But where can it be?”
“Anywhere,” was Callaghan’s reply, heavily loaded with sarcasm. “Your room really ressembles one of those foreign messes, Fairfeather—odds and ends of everything well scrambled up. How you manage to exist so—”
“But I cannot appear before the Countess with no doublet, Callaghan!” cried Reynard, who, although calm and cool over dangers, was given to panic over such trifles.
“What happened to your second one?”
“Don’t you remember? I lost it on the way here.”
“Of course,” said Callaghan in a high, ironical voice. “What else could you do?”
“May I borrow yours?” inquired Reynard meekly.
“Of course! What a splendid idea! Then you can explain to my lady how it happens that I cannot appear at my lady’s table,” retorted Callaghan, rolling his eyes at the ceiling.
At the same moment, however, Reynard gave a exclamation of satisfaction and pounced upon a wrinkled doublet.
And so it went on with every article of clothing he must don. Callaghan, used to these early interruptions, replied dozily from his bedroom and lost no opportunity to upbraid Reynard on the disgraceful state of his room. There was a final and prolonged scene upon the knowledge that Reynard’s left boot had disappeared, but at last he was attired and exited noisily from the room, whistling an English tune with due heartiness.
Safely in the garden outside, he paced about and talked to the gardener, perfecting his excellent French, which he could never be persuaded was already perfect. The gardener had considered Reynard his protégé from the first moment Reynard had entered the garden, remarking: “My fine fellow, I know absolutely naught about gardens; will you please direct me as to where I must walk” and had proceeded to trample down a bed of lilies. The gardener had made the proper lamentations, and Reynard the proper apologizes, explaining how he had merely wanted to cross over, but had slipped somehow. Won by his courtesy and interest, however, the gardener had overlooked his clumsiness, and volunteered to teach him how to conduct himself in a garden.
They were engaged in this occupation when Callaghan appeared and fetched Reynard in for déjeuner.
The Countess, a pretty, middle-aged woman in deep mourning, sat opposite her two young guests and her young son, and despite her efforts to be merry, Reynard detected red eyes and an abstracted look. In the highflown, complimentary language of Old France’s court, he inquired the reason whereof.
The Countess hesitated, and at last admitted that a thief had broken into her dressing-room in the night and stolen her wedding-ring—doubly precious now that her dear Eugène had departed, she confessed with tears.
The Englishmen were duly indignant, and much discussion arose upon who this impudent villain might be, and what steps should be taken to find and capture him. After déjeuner, they adjourned to the garden, where the question was debated still further. Reynard was pacing about—to the great detriment of the Countess’ elegant lawn—when a sudden cry was heard.
The party leapt to their feet and glanced about, wondering what was happening. The young Vicomte crowded close to his mother and set his jaw, preparing to defend her. The gardener came rushing towards his mistress, pale as mortal man may be.
In disjointed words he gave the reason for his cry: below my lady’s dressing-room window he had discovered footprints.
These were carefully examined by the young English soldiers, but no clue was there: the boots seemed to bear no distinguishing mark.
Reynard set off to report this to his hostess, but a cry from the servants arrested him, and he turned to find them staring at him with mingled hostility and terror.
“What is it?” he demanded of his older comrade, bemused and confused, with his hand upon his rapier.
Nigel Callaghan looked grave. “Look,” was all he said, pointing to the muddy puddle Reynard had but just tramped through. Then his finger moved to the footprint left by the thief.
The marks were identical.
As if to further inciriminate the lad, Callaghan drew Reynard’s missing left boot from where it had been cast off under a bush.
Reynard was crushed by the reception of this. In vain he protested, implored, and raged: the servants and the young Vicomte were firmly impressed that the secret thief was he. The Vicomte was disgusted by what seemed to him to have been hypocrisy in debating manners to catch the robber. The Comtesse proclaimed her belief in him, but he felt a slight fear hanging about her, and even Callaghan admitted circumstances were certainly against him, although he protested that he believed as a matter of course that his comrade could in no way be guilty of such an offense.
This state of matters continued for a week; then one misty dawn, when a desperate Reynard was contemplating leaving for Spain, where he would try and gain his living by his sword, he was roused by the triumphant shout of his former friend the gardener.
“Ma dame, ma dame! I have found him!”
The Frenchman danced about under his mistress’ window, ecstatic.
The Comtesse’s maid threw up the window and demanded an explication for this wild behavior.
“O joy! O hour of delight!” cried the gardener. “My lady, I have found the thief! Monsieur the English lord is innocent! It is that villain Larron! I saw him, coming down from the window, with my English lord’s boot awaiting below! He marked the ground with its prints and tossed it, again, below the bush! O my lord! God be praised!” The good fellow was overcome with joy that his friend was blameless; his loyalty had been sorely shaken.
The Comtesse displayed mingled emotions: joy that her favorite guest was innocent, shame that she had allowed doubt to affect her, fear of the unscrupulous and notorious criminal. . . She shed many tears imploring Reynard’s pardon, much to his embarrassment.
As they stood, a few hours later, waiting for their grooms to lead out their horses, the young men watched guards march up, to escort the Comtesse and Vicomte home to the country château. Larron was a broken man; once a successful and higher-class bourgeois, he had taken to his wicked profession out of love of cruelty, and none seemed able to rout him out. The danger was his former statute: he was capable of ultimate sophistication and apparent humbleness, and often entered into livery, soon after robbing and killing. The Comtesse had appealed to the Queen, and she had been granted a guard of Royal soldiers.
“Callaghan,” confided Reynard to his friend, “I am determined to stop this scoundrel Larron. To trouble and rob this poor lady, especially of such a prized possession! He shall return it, Callaghan!”
“I daresay,” replied this personage, “but I suggest you begin by retrieving your second doublet. . . before it disappears inside your saddlebag again.”
Ah, awesome :D I'll be sending you your prize soon, Katja! Congratulations!
Book Club... So Book Club Time!! A book that is summery! SO I had one planned, and took it camping, and I was sitting all bundled up in blankets thinking "This is not summer folks" haha. So yeah, the mood was kind of off most the time I was reading this book (and I still have wrap up a little bit in it today as I didn't have time to finish it the last few days of June) but I read Jane Austen's Emma! Ok, I know that part of Emma is during Christmas, and Mr. Elton goes on about how very cold it is, etc etc... but somehow Emma always feels so summery to me. Maybe it's the whole "picnic on Box Hill" scene or just Emma's personality, or maybe it's because it's so small-town and young-at-heart and light and warm and sweet and funny. But anyways, yep, that's what I read. How about you all?
Monthly Wrap-Up. Ok, whatever you want to say about summers, mine has been crazy! In fact, the schedule is getting increasingly more busy as the days go by and I'm just trying to keep up honestly at this point, lol. If you haven't heard, I'm on Instagram now-- posting pictures every day-- and so if you use that platform, be sure to follow me! ;) Another awesome point is that I am only one subscriber short of 100 SUBSCRIBERS! If you are reading this and you haven't subscribed yet, be amazing and pop your email address in lol. :D
Writing: Let's see... May-June writing. Ok, I didn't do a whole lot. I've worked more on editing, writing a few odds and ends, blogposts, and working on some songs when it comes to the "writing" department.
Reading: My goal was 15 books. My total count? 12, with (far too) many in-betweens haha. To be honest I'm pretty happy... I didn't think I'd get anywhere close. And most of it was in June, actually, lol. I really enjoyed my reading time recently-- I got a Kindle and it's been everywhere with me lol. :P Links lead to my review on Goodreads.
- Breathe to Heal (nonfiction) -- Sasha Yakovleva, 4 stars
- Sense and Sensibility -- Jane Austen, 5 stars
- The Secret Slipper -- Amanda Tero, 5 stars
- Dylan's Story (Beta) -- Rebekah Morris, 4 stars, (review to come)
- Sugar Creek The Colorado Kidnapping -- Paul Hutchens, 5 stars
- Sugar Creek The Treehouse Mystery -- Paul Hutchens, 5 stars
- The Silent Blade -- Jesseca Wheaton, 3.5 stars
- The Man With Two Left Feet -- P. G. Wodehouse, 3.5 stars
- Writer's Productivity Crash Course (nonfiction) -- Nicholas Erik, 3 stars
- The Three Mrs. Judsons (nonfiction) -- Arabella Stuart, 4 stars,
- The Needlemaker (mine-- it counts, ok, because how many times am I reading/going to read through this??)
- Emma -- Jane Austen, 5 stars (review to come)
In the middle of:
- David Copperfield -- Charles Dickens
- Land of Cotton -- Ryana Lynn
- Secrets of Royalty -- Livy Jarmusch
So you know, this was a pretty awesome two months of reading. Look how many high ratings! And just... I had a lot of fun with my reading this May-June. ;)
Other Goals: (And yes, there's a few more from the April-May Book chat post and they're worded a bit different...let's just say I added some haha).
- Edit Needlemaker-- check! Well, I'm working on it. I didn't really say it had to be finished editing, haha.
- Redo Old Blog Posts-- sort of check. I've done a few months worth, and am working on more.
- Read Indie Books and Review Them -- Check! See some of the books above. ;) Originally I had it as "all"
- Do Some YouTube Videos -- Check (ish). Not as much as I wanted, but I did do one or two, and have some in the editing process.
- Start Instagram-- Yep! Hooray! :D
So I thought I'd do this questionnaire again from the Bookbug Goodreads group. :)
1. What was the last book that made you cry?
*stares blankly at my books* Uh... no idea. Haven't really cried actual tears over books recently. I get teared up with The Needlemaker but that doesn't count of course. :P
2. What was the last book that made you laugh?
The Man With Two Left Feet! Of course, that's a collection of short stories.
3. What was the last book you read in public?
Writer's Productivity Course.
4. Where were you when you read your last book in public?
The lake where we were camping. :D I was waiting for my dad to pick me up.
5. What was the last book that made you fall in love with a character?
Sugar Creek Gang books made me fall in love again with some characters.
6. Continuing with Q5, who was that character?
Circus!!! <3 I've always loved that kid. ;) And Poetry always makes me laugh.
7. What was the last book you put in your TBR? (Goodreads or not)
Ivy Introspective by Kellyn Roth
8. What was the last book you gave a review for?
The Three Mrs. Judsons
9. What was the last book by an indie author that you've read?
The Silent Blade is the last one I finished, by Jesseca Wheaton. :D
10. What book are you really excited about reading next?
I've really been wanting to read some L.M. Montgomery recently. So I'll probably read some of her short stories sometime. And yes, I haven't gotten to my last couple Song of Acadia books to finish the series yet and I REALLY want to, so those are high on my list to get to next, too. ;)
Ok and Randomness:
- I might be slightly afraid of my email inbox at this point. Somebody send help. :P
- I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo this July-- but more for fun than anything. My goal is quite low and I'm doing a contemporary Kind Heart rather as a pantser/ with a very rough outline, haha. If you want to check out the synopsis, you can here!
- I can't think of anything else. Life is so busy my brain is tired. Sorry. :P
Well that's all! Are you all doing Camp NaNoWriMo? How did your May-June reading challenge go? And what did you think of the awesome contest stories?