He was employed to kill somebody, and Æsop had assured him that this somebody was Louis, Duke de Nevers. Staupitz had not cared who it was; it was all one to him, but honestly he was troubled now by the patent trouble of Cocardasse and his ominous mutterings about the thrust of Nevers. Passepoil broke the silence, surveying the puzzled faces around him. "No wonder there's such a crowd of us."
As he spoke he tossed the bag over to Staupitz, who caught it dexterously and put it in his pocket. On this Peyrolles made to rise, and again found that the hand of Passepoil, obedient to a glance from Cocardasse, descended upon his shoulder and nailed him to his place. "Wait," said Cocardasse, amiably, "we must have some surety for the lave of the money." "Is not my word enough?"
"I suppose Gonzague wants all that are left of us," Cocardasse said, thoughtfully. Passepoil sighed significantly. "There aren't many." Cocardasse looked as gloomy as was possible for one of his rubicund countenance and jolly bearing. "Lagardere has kept his word." "Staupitz was killed at Seville," Passepoil murmured, as one who begins a catalogue of disasters.
He could have told how seven gentlemen that were named Staupitz, Faenza, Saldagno, Pepe, Pinto, Joel, and Æsop had been sent to dwell and travel in Spain at the free charges of Prince Louis de Gonzague, with the sole purpose of finding a man and a child who so far had not been found, though it was now seventeen years since the hounds had been sent a-hunting.
The Elector was delighted, for he began to see his devout wishes realized. Staupitz, who had drunk in the more pious spirit of the Mystic theologians, shared the same feeling, and saw in Luther's fresh, biblical, and energetic preaching what he felt the whole Church needed. "He spared neither counsel nor applause," for he believed him the man of God for the times.
No definite account of the result of the business he had to transact, has been handed down to us. We only learn that Staupitz, the Vicar of the Order, was afterwards on friendly relations with the convents which had opposed his scheme, and that he refrained from urging any more unwelcome innovations.
Staupitz was re-elected here as Vicar of the Order; the office of provincial Vicar passed from Luther to John Lange, of Erfurt, his intimate friend and fellow-thinker. The question about indulgences had not entered at all into the business of the chapter.
Æsop rolled to one end of the room, Staupitz to another; Cocardasse and Passepoil, Saldagno, Pepe, Pinto, Faenza, and Joel were scattered like sparrows, and the little page found himself liberated and crouching at the feet of a man who was standing with folded arms surveying the discomfited bravos mockingly.
Lagardere counted them as they came: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty. Even in the darkness he thought he could recognize certain figures: the twisted form of the hunchback, the burly body of Cocardasse, the gaunt figure of the Norman, the barrel bulk of Staupitz.
Staupitz swung round in his chair, upsetting a tankard in his angry movement, as he glared, all rage, at the strangely assorted pair. "Are you afraid?" he asked, with guttural contempt. Cocardasse grinned and showed his large, dog-like teeth. "I am not afraid of you, Papa Staupitz," he said, quite cheerfully, "nor of any man in this room, nor of all the men in this room."