Monk’s Wooden Boots raised a faint echo between the houses. Not a single person was seen. The whole village looked dead.
Lazare was worried. Where would he direct his course? What should he do? How could he find the place where Martini was now kept?
He tried to read the address plate, but it was just too dark.
He walked along the streets and stood at the corner of every street, but not a single person was to be seen. A few houses away, he saw light from the window and his hope was awakened. But he didn’t dare knock on his window, because he shuddered at the thought of being forced to talk to someone. Someone who hasn’t spoken for seven years already has a stiff tongue. He moved back and forth, but then it occurred to him that his monk’s robes might frighten people badly at midnight, and he hurried away.
Now he decided to go through every street and look at every stable and shout for Martin behind the locked doors. Martin would surely answer when he heard his master’s voice.
And so Lazare began.
— Are you there, Martin, he whispered behind each empty door. —
It is I, you, your lord, who is looking for you.
* * * * *
Thus he ran for an hour without getting an answer to his whispers. Sometimes the battery case opened and a frightened face immediately retreated into hiding, or a grumpy dog barked at a night traveler.
The church tower clock struck 12.
That’s when Lazare’s mood started to get depressed. Was Martin dead yet?
At last he found himself on a country road, along which the houses became more and more sparse.
— Martin! — said Lazare again.
Thus he found a lonely building with a wide door
. From inside he could hear the clinking of chains, which he judged to be a stable.
— Martin? he monk behind the door.
Immediately, there was a shooting in response, and it was repeated several times.
It was Martin! At last he had found it.
Lazare crossed his arms.
— So you live. How glad I am to have found you again,
And tears flowed down his cheeks.
Martin held out his muzzle for his friend to caress. The monk remained behind the door until morning, speaking his most tender words to his found companion.
At 7 in the morning, when the sun was already casting its rays on the damp fields, a peasant came to the stable.
— Can you tell me, asked Lazare, whose own these animals are?
— They belong to Monsieur Dubourdieu, the butcher of Montségur, answered the man.
— Will you be so good as to tell me where he lives?
— With pleasure. He lives in the village next to the post office.
— I thank you — answered the monk, bowing. It freaked him out talking to a human being.
Lazare left for the village. The butcher’s house was closed. Lazare knocked on the door. A young man appeared with half-open eyes and a red face.
— Is M. Dubourdieu at home?
– It’s me. How can I be of service to you?
Lazare felt himself getting confused. With his eyes fixed on the ground, he crocheted:
— I suppose the prior sent a big, broad-horned bull called Martin last night?
— Do you want to sell it to me?
– Why not.
— How expensive do you rate it?
— I don’t know for sure, I haven’t taken a closer look since I wasn’t at home when it was brought. Wait a minute, I’ll ask Reng.
After a while the butcher came back asking:
— Prioriko wants to buy the bull back?
— No, but me. I am very attached to the bull that belonged to me before I became a monk. I would be very happy, yes you would not slaughter it.
The butcher clenched his jaw. He remembered that the monks appear in civilian clothes when they are in the shops. I guess there’s something wrong going on here.
— I was talking about the people of Reng, he said. The bull is really good. Should be fat and not too old. The price will be 400 francs.
— Good. I will buy it, replied Lazare. Would you like to give an 8-day delay in making the payment?
— Oh! … I’m sorry, but I can’t. I was thinking of slaughtering the bull this evening. I need two bulls for the market the day after tomorrow. So you see that…
— How long do you give the payment period?
— How long! I don’t like to give any payment time. But if you can pay right away, I can wait until five o’clock in the evening. I have to be at the slaughterhouse at 6 o’clock.
Brother Lazare had turned pale.
— I hope to be here before 5 o’clock, he muttered. I would be grateful if you would keep the bull with you.
He slowly went out.
When he came to the street, he doubted for a couple of minutes. The legs didn’t want to stand. I put my hand over his eyes and he started babbling indiscriminately.
Four hundred francs! How can he get them from this village where no one knew him?
He wandered around the streets of Montségur, turning sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left, not knowing where to go. From time to time, people gathered in the street, voyeuristically watching the monk, who was babbling like a ghost in his heat. When the clock struck 10, he found himself at the post office again. That’s when he got a headache.
Imagine if he sent an electronic message to his grandfather, the priest-hater François Hontarrède? Maybe he would donate those 400 francs to save Martin.
Lazare was about to enter the office when he was suddenly startled. You couldn’t have electricity without money!
— I don’t have a single oar with me, he said with a sad smile.
And he continued his street wandering.
What if he went to the mayor, the priest and all the rich people? You could talk to them about Martin. Perhaps either armelias would lend him 400 fr.
He looked around and a sigh came from his chest when he saw nice villas and big houses.
While thinking this, he noticed a beautiful castle surrounded by a park. To the right of this was a gray wall, which he immediately recognized as the wall of the monastery. Lazare exclaimed.
— I have seen these trees before. A singer-girl probably walked in their shadow yesterday. I threw an apple there at the base of the trees.
Hope brightened the monk’s eyes.
He stepped faster, directing his course to the large trees.
— I know those trees with us, he thought. I know the beautiful voice of that young girl who cannot be anything other than a good and merciful person.
He still hurried his way. And the more he traveled, the more certain his trust grew in the help of the unknown girl.
— That voice owes me this good deed, he thought. Wasn’t he the cause of my unhappiness? Wasn’t he the one who enticed me to throw the apple that led me to talk to Martin? You beautiful voice gave me half an apple yesterday; Don’t you want to lend me 400 francs today?
The road led through the forest. Suddenly Lazare heard the monastery bell ringing, calling the Trappists to prayer, and he threw himself on the ground, praying with all his soul. He prayed for that beautiful mysterious voice that should help Martin.
Then he rose, dusted off his cloak, and quickly set out on the road again.
— Would you like to tell me the name of the castle behind the trees? — he asked the shepherd boy he met.
— It is Bontucq Castle.
— And who lives there?
— Miss Sartilly.
Distracted, Lazare bowed to the shepherd boy like a pater in a monastery.
And he happily continued his journey to the castle.