The Cardinal's Sin - chapter 9 - The "other" Queen's Mill.

The ‘Other” Queen’s Mill

La Motte was naked and lay beneath a naked young woman. Her hair was long, red, dark and hanging low, covered his face. She, an insubstantial figure compared with the size of the Captain beneath her, but she didn’t seem to lack anything in her control of her man. Their clothes were strewn across the room, and the bed linens were a tangled mess. In spite of this her bonnet still clung to her head, though a little askew, an she had a light silk scarf round her neck.

Whatever had been going on here, appeared to have been going on for some time, and with some considerable vigour. On the table near the bed, the remains of a meal chaotically strewn across it with two bottles of wine, both empty. Two earthenware cups beside them, one half full the other tipped over, what little was left in it, dribbled out over the table onto the floor.


From outside the door, came the sound of heavily booted feet pounding on the stairs as, what sounded like several men, came up, in something of a hurry. The couple on the bed, preoccupied as they were, didn’t seem to notice, and they didn’t pause in their enjoyment of one another. They didn’t even react straight away when the door, without a knock or an ‘if you please’, was slammed open. When, the uninvited guest, strode into the room, they did stop, and la Motte looked up, pushing aside the curtain of hair. He looked, and squinting, looked again.

“Is that the Comte de Rochefort, officer in his majesty’s horse? I think it is. My dear, allow me to introduce the Comte de Rochefort, Commandant in his Majesty’s horse. Monsieur le Comte, Madame Francoise Mary, a daughter of this house.”


The young woman turned and while the sight of her naked torso had little effect on the Comte, his men looked away, before looking back.

“Where is it, la Motte?”


Silence. La Motte looked at the young woman, and then back at Rochefort, and then at the men, and then at the young woman.

“Where is it?” The Comte asked again.


Francoise looked at him and thought about that before,

“Where is what?” She asked.


La Motte turned to Rochefort and waved his hand at him.

“Do not play the innocent with me, I will turn this place upside down if I have to.”

“Ah, I’m sorry Rochefort. My dear, your innocence.”


The young woman giggled and twisted round on Lamotte’s body, she looked sadly at the Comte.

“I lost that some time ago sir, I can’t remember where exactly, I was probably drunk, you see and a gentleman took advantage...”


And she held out her hand in a sad gesture, to the effect that what was done, was done. The Comte de Rochefort seethed. Slowly he turned toward his men and gestured round the room.

“Take this place apart if you have to, but find me that necklace.”


His men entered the room and la Motte pushed himself up onto one arm, his far arm covered Francoise’s back. At the same time, the innkeeper appeared at the door, pushing his way into the room. Rochefort noticed that the man, from his face, his clothing, even his manner, was remarkably like the innkeeper of the last inn. He frowned. The innkeeper raised his hands and his voice.

“Sir.”


The men froze. Rochefort was not in the mood.

“What do you want?”

“I couldn’t help but over-hear your last command sir.”

“What of it? I’m on his Majesty’s business.”

“I have no doubt, sir. But the Marquis, next door, hates it when his night is interrupted by noisy guests.”

“What Marquis?”

“Monsieur le Marquis d’Acy, sir.”

“Why on earth would Acy stay here?”

‘We are, usually, quiet... and discreet, Monsieur.”


Rochefort stared at the man, who lacked only the jug and cloth for him to be the man from earlier that evening, but he made up for that lack, from the way he clutched his apron. Rochefort slowly turned toward la Motte and looked round the room, then back to the innkeeper.

“How long has this... person been here?”

“He came in earlier this evening, sir, had a meal and... um, entertained my girl here.”

“This evening?”

“Yes sir.”

“When, this evening?”


The innkeeper looked around the room and then back at Rochefort.

“About seven, maybe a little earlier, but not much.”

“That’s a long time, for a meal and a little entertainment.”

“My girl is very entertaining sir, and my food is very filling.”

“And you’ll swear to that, will you?”

“Happily sir.”


Rochefort whirled round and saw his men blocking the door, preventing a quick exit.

“Get out!”

“One moment Rochefort.” la Motte shouting at the back of the waiting Comte.

“Yes?”

“Whose necklace have you lost? I mean, if anyone should find it?”


The Comte said nothing but turned and pulled out his sabre, all in one movement, almost removing the head of the innkeeper who dived for the floor. In a single step he had la Motte at sword point. la Motte smiled.

“It will take the smallest excuse sir, and I will do something, that believe me, I shall not regret.” Rochefort snarled.

“I was merely trying to be helpful, Monsieur.”


A range of expressions passed over the Comte’s face, none could be understood as friendly. He sheathed his sword, turned again and strode through the door. Then, once through, he stopped and took two steps back into the room where the innkeeper was getting to his feet. Rochefort watched him rise, frowned again, thought for an instant, and was gone. The room held its breath, until the sound of horses leaving, drew the innkeeper to the window, and he looked out.

“They’re gone.”


The girl giggled, and lay back on the bed at la Motte’s feet. The innkeeper walked over to the table and gathered up the remains of the meal.

“Do you want to eat?”

“I’ll say. Bring some of that wine as well thank you.”


The innkeeper moved to the bed where he looked at the girl.

“Let’s see it.”


She pulled over her hair, and lifted the scarf, to show the necklace round her neck, and she grinned.

“I think, he should give it to me, don’t you? It looks so well on me.” Francoise smiled.


The innkeeper just grinned and shook his head.

“When people don’t look, things become invisible. I’ll shout at Paul to fetch your horse from that field, and rub her down, she was a bit on the warm side.”


La Motte reached out to the the girl’s hand and drew her forward, sitting upright in the process.

“Give her a good feed as well, she deserves it and I, can afford it.”

“Whatever you say, sir.”


The innkeeper left pulling the door behind him, as la Motte began to kiss Francoise in earnest. Suddenly he stopped and leaned back, admiring the necklace on her, and he smiled.

“You’re right, it does suit you.”


She grinned and they fell to love-making.

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