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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/305

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insight into private life was in fashion in the seventeenth century; it was called "giving the key." Josiana had given two of these confidential keys; Lord David had one, Barkilphedro the other. However, to enter straight into a bedchamber was in the old code of manners a thing not in the least out of the way. Thence resulted startling incidents. La Ferté, suddenly drawing back the bed-curtains of Mademoiselle Lafont, found inside Sainson of the Black Musketeers.

Barkilphedro excelled in making those cunning discoveries which place the great in the power of the humble. Like every perfect spy, the cruelty of the executioner and the patience of a micograph entered largely into his composition. He was a born courtier. Every courtier is a noctambulist. The courtier prowls about in the night with a dark-lantern in his hand. He lights up the spot he wishes, and remains in darkness himself. What he is seeking with his lantern is not a man, it is a fool. What he finds is the king. Kings do not like to see those about them aspire. Irony aimed at any one except themselves has a charm for them. The talent of Barkilphedro consisted in a perpetual dwarfing of the peers and princes to the advantage of her Majesty's stature, thereby increased proportionately.

The pass-key held by Barkilphedro was made with a different set of wards at each end, so as to open the private apartments in both Josiana's favourite residences,—Hunkerville House in London, and Corleone Lodge at Windsor. These two houses were part of the Clancharlie inheritance. Hunkerville House was close to Oldgate. Oldgate was a gate of London, which was entered by the Harwich road, and on which was displayed a statue of Charles II., with a painted angel above his head, and a carved lion and unicorn beneath his feet. From Hunkerville House, in an easterly wind,