60 THE DOG OF MONTARGIS
Might not the dog's strange and unaccountable hatred for the young officer be a clue to the mysterious murder of his late master? Determined to sift the matter to the bottom, the kins: summoned De Narsac and the dog to his presence at the Hotel St.-Pol. Following close on his master's heels, the greyhound entered the audience-room,
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where the king: was seated, surrounded by his courtiers. As De Narsac bowed low before his sovereign, a short, fierce bark was heard from the dog. and. before he could be held back, he had darted in among the startled courtiers, and had sprung at the throat of the Chevalier Mac aire, who. with several other knights, formed a little group behind the king's chair.
It was impossible longer to doubt that there was some ground for the surniises that had rapidly grown to sus-picion. and that had received sudden confirmation from the fresh evidence of the dog's hatred.
The king decided that there should be a trial by the judgment of God, and that a combat should take place between man. the accused, and dog, the accuser. The place chosen for the combat was a waste, uninhabited plot of ground, frequently selected as a duelling-ground by the young gallants of Paris.
In the presence of the king and his courtiers the strange unnatural combat took place that afternoon. The knight was armed with a short thick stick; the dog was provided with an empty barrel, as a retreating ground from the attacks of his adversary. At a given signal the combatants entered the lists. The dog seemed quite to understand the strange duel on which it was engaged. Barking savagely, and darting round his opponent, he made attempts to leap at his throat; now on this side, now on that he sprang, jumping into the air, and then bounding back out of reach of the stick. There was such swiftness and determination about his movements, and something so unnatural in the combat, that Macaire's nerve failed him. His blows beat the air, without hitting