The False Chevalier

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER III The chief inn of Fontainebleau town was a rambling galleried quadrangle of semi-deserted buildings situated on the Rue Basse, and bearing the sign of "The Holy Ghost." This town, in the heart of the woods, had no other sources of livelihood than a vegetable market for the Palace, the small wants of the wooden-shoed foresters and of the workmen employed by the Master of Woods and Waters in planting new trees, and those of the crowd of strangers who flocked to the place during five or six weeks in the autumn of each year, when the king and Court arrived for the pleasures of the hunt. The host of the inn—formerly an assistant butler in Madame du Barry's hotel at Versailles, was a sharp, sour- natured old fellow, truculent and avaricious. The spine of this man was a sort of social barometer ; by its exact degree of curvature or stiffness in the presence of a guest the stable-boys and housemaids knew whether his rank was great or small, and whether, to please their cantankerous master, they were to fly or walk at his beck, or in the case of a mere bourgeois, to drink his wine on the way to his room. Germain, on first arriving a few days previously, foundhimself in an atmosphere of Oriental abjectness ; for when the Rouen diligence drove through the inn gateway, and mine host at his pot-room window remarked his smart belongings, his landlord soul settled him as a person of quality. But when the innkeeper had thought it out for an hour over his wine, his attitude became one of doubt. " No valet, no people," he muttered ; " this fish then is no noble, and yet, by his mien, no bourgeois. Luggage scanty, dress line. What is he ? Gambler of Paris ? Swiss ? Italian ? No, he speaks French, but without the Court accent. By that he is none of our people—that is one poi...
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