Queen of the Sabbat (Synopsis)

Clark Ashton Smith

^Jacques Dindonneau^ [Guillaume le Morve], charcoal-burner and poacher, hunting a stag by night in the forest of Averoigne, stumbles inadvertently upon a Shabbat held by local sorcerers and witches. The throned figure of a great ram presides over the gathering; and on the right of the ram, naked, is seated the young girl, Nicole Morin, of whom Jacques is enamored. On the left is the girl's mother, long suspected of being a witch. The Shabbat has reached the climax with the celebration of the Black Mass, and certain of the celebrants are abandoning themselves to the debaucheries in which such meetings always terminated. The ram-like figure of the Master begins to paw the girl Nicole, and Jacques, mad with fury and horror, leaps forward into the whirling mob. He is overpowered and knocked unconscious. He awakes in pitch darkness, in a dank, noisome oubliette, his clothing in rags, his flesh sore and bleeding from the claws of the coven. Anon, the trap-door of the oubliette is opened, and the face of ^Guillaume^ [Raoul], Comte de la FrĂȘnaie, peers sneeringly down by torchlight. Guillaume, who reveals himself as the Master of the Shabbat, taunts Jacques with his plight and then closes the trap, leaving the young poacher to die. After many hours, as it seems, Jacques lapses into slumber, and awakes to find the girl Nicole beside him. She had brought food and drink, and a rope by which they climb from the dungeon. Through dismal vaults, they emerge at night from the chateau. Nicole, in spite of Jacques' pleadings, leaves him in the forest. Later, armed with his crossbow and clad in the skin of a stag, he spies on another meeting of the coven, and shoots a bolt through the heart of the Master. Then, his antlered head lowered, he charges into the confused and fleeing coven. He overtakes Nicole, who has fled like the others. She accompanies him later when he quits the province.

^xxx^ xxx was added by Smith.
[xxx] xxx was deleted by Smith.

Printed from: www.eldritchdark.com/writings/short-stories/176
Printed on: November 19, 2017