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Secrets of the Six: Dr Andre Ermite. The investigation in medieval style, #1

Secrets of the Six: Dr Andre Ermite. The investigation in medieval style, #1

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Secrets of the Six: Dr Andre Ermite. The investigation in medieval style, #1

134 pages
2 hours
Jun 2, 2019


France, the 16th century. In a provincial hotel, by the will of the case, a merchant, a nobleman, a family of wealthy townspeople and a wandering adventurer are forced to spend the night under one roof. The hosts are not very hospitable, the guests frown, and not everyone will live until morning. When one of the guests is found dead, suspicion falls on everyone. Adventurer André Hermite undertakes an investigation. Until the end of the day he will reveal many secrets and will cease to believe in the case ...

Jun 2, 2019

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Secrets of the Six - Emile Costa (Эмиль Коста)


Chapter 1

The road between Saint Cloud and Belfontaine is dangerous. It meanders between the mountains, either climbing up or suddenly going down and surrounded by an impassible forest. Few people decide to travel here on their own. A person wandering on this rainy autumn day, definitely had only good reasons.

The dirt slurped under the feet, the wind inflated the hollows of the leather cape. The water drained from the end of the black hat on his face. The mood of the man was the same state as the weather. His stomach was growling and his legs were aching. To the inn yard, situated closer to Saint Cloud, remained less than one lieu[1]. In such bad weather, it was quite reasonable to stay there in the accommodation, however, after this his finances were at the end of the day scanty.

The traveller set down on a large boulder at the side of the road. The wind swayed the pines over his head. He was frozen without end, for that the branches here covered him from the rain. The man didn't differ in tendency from the philosophizing’s, however in this minute he strongly thought: where was he going and why?

The crew, pulled by a pair of strong horses, left from behind the turn of the road. The windows were tightly drawn with red curtains. Tired animals went ahead with difficulty, the driver having pushed his hat and having pulled his head to his shoulders, hardly glanced at the road. The wagon heavily crept past and disappeared behind the next turn. The traveller, unnoticed by anyone, looked on in its wake. His dark face read astonishment mixed with nastiness.

'The old, kind family of Clandeau! What a pleasant and imminent meeting,' he muttered.

How many times in the last six months had this coach with the red curtains driven him along the streets of Belfontaine? The respected family warmed and sheltered the traveller, for all the amenities, paying him sincere thanks and sonorous money. That was until yesterday evening.

The scream of Madame Clandeau still rings in his ears. The man literally remembers all the insults, which this lively old woman showered on him, while her husband with taciturn disapproval looked on at what was happening. But what personally happened the traveller didn't understand yesterday and hasn't understood since.

Six months ago, he was in the town and at the very first pub found out that the old notary was suffering from gout. The following day, the traveller set off for the house of Clandeau, presented himself as a doctor and offered his services. He hadn't received a special education, but possessed a wide knowledge in a lot of fields, in that number medicine. He himself regarded it as fully honest in a small way. The traveller came to terms well with the medicinal plants, heavy sicknesses never interested him, and if he took even a knife in his hand, then only to cut fried chicken.

This self-proclaimed doctor didn't trade in panaceas, didn't worry his patients with clyster, and was generally kind. Polite manners, a pleasant exterior and a sharp brain opened for him practically any door. Usually he left early, before these doors managed to close, but yesterday it all worked out differently. Madame went mad, monsieur was silent and Mademoiselle Marie wasn't there.

Marie. The sweet twenty-three-year-old child. The darling young daughter of Clandeau. Her elder sister had married early and the family covered the girl with unseen care. With her exterior and habits, she took after her father; this was a tall thin girl with thin facial features and ashen hair, taciturn to sullenness. Nothing in common with the small plump mother. All the time that the doctor spent in the house, he hardly threw two words at the Mademoiselle. But the Madame somehow considered otherwise.

In her accusations she was habitual with the choicest abuse which you do not hear from a fishwife. The man did not really understand what he had done. He merely understood that the affair affected Marie, that the business was bad and they were showing him the door. Worse than anything, in the summer he and the Clandeaus had agreed a monthly account, but he wouldn't see any more money. It was also not possible to remain in the town.

GN did his blame lie? Really the madame had decided, that the doctor had some designs on her daughter? It is fully understandable that such a fiance doesn't interest a respectable family, but in such a way he was not interested in Marie. Northern beauties on the whole didn't attract the doctor; he always liked the southerners.

Oh, these brunette funnies already! Probably Madame Clandeau was exactly such thirty years ago. Now her spouse remembered this and judging by the tender relationship of the old people, he remembered well. Even not being in full agreement with his wife, Monsieur neither in word nor in deed annoyed her. But after all this old taciturn wouldn't even kick the door even for the devil, not being paid by him.

Getting up from the stone, the man straightened his heavy bag and stepped forward decidedly. Now he knew what to do. The Clandeaus were probably stopping at the hotel and if not, he would catch up with them all the same in Saint Cloud and demand his own.

The inn yard seemed to be the second or the third turn of the road. The traveller was too distracted with his thoughts to count, however the rickety fence, which surrounded the inn, he noticed at once. Over the wooden gates was painted crookedly the 'pig and goose.' The fading sign depicting a jolly pig above on a board of unknown nature. Obviously the artist was not endowed with particular talents.

The two story hotel stood on the depth of the yard, surrounded as it fell but built up by economic constructions. Not yet going to the gates, the traveller saw the familiar carriage. He stood in the rain, the front wheel with broken spokes stood alongside. The driver returned to town, for which he strapped and straddled the fastest horse. He met the traveller head on, and rode past him having drenched him in mud.

The second horse was unhurriedly unharnessed and the tall light haired man had a war bearing. It was possible to call his face beautiful, if it weren't for his eyes. The unknown man looked at the world warily, as if he didn't expect anything good from it. Trying not to get bogged down in the mud, the traveller went closer, and got interested in a friendly way.

'What, the lords aren't Lucky?'

'If they had broken in the middle of the road they would have been less Lucky,' muttered the worker.

'That's right. . . how are you with feeding? Are there free rooms?'

'They feed. And about a room, go in and ask. I found a porter,' and the grouch waved his hand in the direction of the hotel. Having shaken his shoulders, the traveller set off in the given direction.

The heavy door opened with difficulty, having let a cloud of warm air. Having crossed the hearth, the traveller seemed to be in a spacious Lunch hall. The fire glowed warmly and from the open kitchen carried such aromas that the hungry traveller's head span. Having passed the stairs leading to the higher floor, he neared the counter at which the innkeeper stood.

This was a gaunt man of fifty years by sight. Behind his back stood a roughly

hammered buffet with wine bottles and clean dishes. At this minute the innkeeper, without any particular enthusiasm, decided a question of accommodation for the Clandeau family. Father and daughter were very exhausted and silently sat on their road suitcases, however the old woman hadn't lost her usual cheerfulness. Her laments were heard even in Paris.

'Two sous[2] for a room with three beds! Are you in your own mind? My husband is a respected man in Belfontaine and he is not well. My daughter is tired from the journey. How do you order the three of us to nestle in this stinking cage? I am not about to feed the bugs!'

'Madame, a noble man has taken our best room, in the other a merchant from Saint Cloud is staying. I am not proposing to you a chamber for the servants. This night you either feed my bugs or the bear in the forest with honey.'

'Yes I. . .'

'Dear' her husband exhorted in a half voice. 'It is only for one night. Tomorrow they will fix the carriage, and we will move on further.'

The woman was getting ready to give her spouse a comeuppance when she noticed the traveller. He went very close, and put his bag on the bench. The glass clinked. The madame stared at the old acquaintance, then took the keys from the counter and ran upstairs sweeping the family with her.

Not embarrassed the landlord looked at his new guest. Thirty five years, in black from head to toe with a bag of full glass. Nothing in the guise of the traveller suggested a high situation and the availability of money. The innkeeper, without any ceremony, said:

'If you need a bed the only free room is for the servants. Ten dneyu[3] for a night fifteen for the food.'

The traveller undid the ribbons of his cloak, rummaged in his chest and laid on the counter a silver sous.

'No change needed. The dinner should be hot, and soon.'

Having got the money the innkeeper, threw the guest some sympathy.

'Dinner will be ready in an hour.' He said opening his registration book, 'your name, monsieur?'

'I am a doctor. Dr Andre Ermite,' having slowed down the traveller answered. To present himself as a doctor didn't come into his plans, but to change his disguise in the presence of the Clandeau would have been stupid. 'Can someone clean up my clothes and boots?'

'Leave them behind the door and in the morning they will be like new. Your key, monsieur. From the stairs, it is the first door on the left.'

The landlord gave the key to the guest and went into the kitchen. The traveller threw his dirty cloak on the bench, went

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