Grimauld the soldier-cum-fireworks engineer is another who appears for the first time in In the Name of the King, but while he is clearly coy of revealing his past, he has none of Bernadette’s skill in concealment and gives himself away in almost every sentence. His acquaintance with the murkier denizens of Saint-Germain and his familiarity with the procedures for dealing with stolen goods rather tell their own story.
Unlike most of the other characters, Grimauld is a city man to his bones and his opinion of Saint-Jean Aux Bois shows a definite disdain for country life. I hoped at first he might provide a greater insight into the contemporary life of urban France, but unfortunately his experience of the great towns seems to be limited to their seamier underbelly. Dredging through the unpublished material I could find only comments such as this on the habits of gentlemen:
Trust me, gentlemen are very hot on their noms-de-guerre, I’ve heard the lot in my time. They’re classical for the most part, they’re Ajax or Achilles or Hector, and sometimes they’re subtle translations of things even grander, the Avenger, the Thunderer, the ruddy Hammer of the Gods, and a right lot of twits they usually are too. I had one once, skinny, scrawny little fellow needed helping into Dijon, and he give me his name as the Fist of God. Kneecap of a Grasshopper more like it to me, but he paid, so Fist of God it was as long as he wanted it.
Certainly he seems to have had difficulty appreciating André’s chivalry, and even the archives yield no comment more flattering than this from an account of an afternoon’s trapping at Saint-Jean Aux Bois:
We found a warren of the stupidest bunnies you ever saw, came out one at a time and into the same ruddy wire like they was Christian saints a-skipping into the lion’s jaws. Rabbits don’t learn, jeune homme, which was something they had in common with André de Roland.
Grimauld seems likely to stay in de Roland’s life at least a little longer, but I fear he remained incorrigible until the very end.