THE HORSES IN THE STABLE. (Part One)
[Apres, Clarke Ashton Smith]
When Paris gets too hot in August, as it does in one sense for the law-abiding, and in at least two for thieves, the former and the latter flee.
In the year of Our Lord 1485 in England the sweating sickness was on the rise, and the armies of the Red and the White Rose were polishing their armour for Bosworth. In France it was too hot even for semi-annual rising of Brittainy versus the Crown, and the truce signed on the 9th of August was as much about the stifling heat as it was about the failure of Louis D’Orlean, once again, to capture the King, in his increasingly desperate game of military chess.
The peace signed for the nonce, the Lords and Ladies of Court peregrinated to their country domiciles to sweat out the latter part of the month: the clerks trotted on donkeys to the coolth of the cinq ports; the monks attached as confessors to the nobles returned to their stone cloisters with a feeling of fervent relief; and the thieves scattered into their summer boltholes and residences.
The notable thief Armaud d’ L’vey : black haired, scowling, clad habitually in leather jerkin and scarlet hose, save for his disguises, turned south where – praise the good God – he was insufficiently known for his twisted lipped smile to appear on many artistic renderings of the sort that appeared with an amount beneath them. He passed through the Country of Never (deliberately avoiding the Duchy of Orleans) and came to rest at last at the end of August, in the forests of Averoigne.
The squabbles of the North had not intruded here, it appeared, and the dark, lush, luxurience of the great oaks and the rustling fabrication of the sky of leaves, brought an unlooked for solace to his rogue’s soul as he slept back against one of the King Trees. This solace ended with the thunder.