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Chicot the Jester - [An abridged translation of "La dame de Monsoreau"]
by Alexandre Dumas
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"Alas! my father!" cried Diana.

Bussy summoned up all his strength. "M. de Monsoreau is your son-in-law," he said.

"What! my son-in-law! and every one—even you, Diana—left me in ignorance."

"I feared to write, my father; he said my letters would fall into the hands of the prince. Besides, I thought you knew all."

"But why all these strange mysteries?"

"Ah, yes, my father; why did M. de Monsoreau let you think me dead, and not let you know I was his wife?"

The baron, overwhelmed, looked from Bussy to Diana.

"M. de Monsoreau my son-in-law!" stammered he.

"That cannot astonish you, father; did you not order me to marry him?"

"Yes, if he saved you."

"Well! he did save me," said Diana, sinking on to a chair, "not from misfortune, but from shame."

"Then why did he let me think you dead? I, who wept for you so bitterly. Why did he let me die of despair, when a single word would have restored me?"

"Oh! there is some hidden mystery," cried Diana; "my father, you will not leave me again; M. de Bussy, you will protect us."

"Alas! madame! it belongs to me no more to enter into your family secrets. Seeing the strange maneuvers of your husband, I wished to bring you a defender; you have your father, I retire."

"He is right," said the old man, sadly.

"M. de Monsoreau feared the Duc d'Anjou, and so does M. de Bussy."

Diana cast a glance at the young man. He smiled and said, "M. le Baron, excuse, I beg, the singular question I am about to ask; and you also, madame, for I wish to serve you. M. le Baron, ask Madame de Monsoreau if she be happy in the marriage which she has contracted in obedience to your orders."

Diana burst into tears for her only answer. The eyes of the baron filled also, for he began to fear that his friendship for M. de Monsoreau had tended to make his daughter unhappy.

"Now!" said Bussy, "is it true that you voluntarily promised him your daughter's hand?"

"Yes, if he saved her."

"And he did save her. Then, monsieur, I need not ask if you mean to keep your promise."

"It is a law for all, and above all for gentlemen; you know that, M. de Bussy. My daughter must be his."

"Ah!" cried Diana, "would I were dead!"

"Madame," said Bussy, "you see I was right, and that I can do no more here. M. le Baron gives you to M. de Monsoreau, and you yourself promised to marry him when you should see your father again safe and well."

"Ah! you tear my heart, M. de Bussy," cried Diana, approaching the young man; "my father does not know that I fear this man, that I hate him; my father sees in him only my saviour, and I think him my murderer."

"Diana! Diana!" cried the baron, "he saved you."

"Yes," cried Bussy, "but if the danger were less great than you thought; what do we know? There is some mystery in all this, which I must clear up. But I protest to you, that if I had had the happiness to be in the place of M. de Monsoreau, I would have saved your young and beautiful daughter without exacting a price for it."

"He loved her," said M. de Meridor, trying to excuse him.

"And I, then——" cried Bussy; and, although he stopped, frightened at what he was about to say, Diana heard and understood.

"Well!" cried she, reddening, "my brother, my friend, can you do nothing for me?"

"But the Duc d'Anjou," said the baron.

"I am not aware of those who fear the anger of princes," said Bussy; "and, besides, I believe the danger lies not with him, but with M. de Monsoreau."

"But if the duke learns that Diana is alive, all is lost."

"I see," said Bussy, "you believe M. de Monsoreau more than me. Say no more; you refuse my aid; throw yourself, then, into the arms of the man who has already so well merited your confidence. Adieu, baron; adieu, madame, you will see me no more."

"Oh!" cried Diana, taking his hand. "Have you seen me waver for an instant; have you ever seen me soften towards him? No. I beg you, on my knees, M. de Bussy, not to abandon me."

Bussy seized her hands, and all his anger melted away like snow before the sun.

"Then so be it, madame," said he; "I accept the mission, and in three days—for I must have time to go to Chartres to the prince—you shall see me again." Then, in a low tone to her, he said, "We are allied against this Monsoreau; remember that it was not he who brought you back to your father, and be faithful to me."



CHAPTER XXVI.

HOW BROTHER GORENFLOT AWOKE, AND THE RECEPTION HE MET WITH AT HIS CONVENT.

Chicot, after seeing with pleasure that Gorenflot still slept soundly, told M. Boutromet to retire and to take the light with him, charging him not to say anything of his absence. Now M. Boutromet, having remarked that, in all transactions between the monk and Chicot, it was the latter who paid, had a great deal of consideration for him, and promised all he wished. Then, by the light of the fire which still smouldered, he wrapped Gorenflot once more in his frock, which he accomplished without eliciting any other signs of wakefulness than a few grunts, and afterwards making a pillow of the table-cloth and napkins, lay down to sleep by his side. Daylight, when it came, succeeded in at last awakening Gorenflot, who sat up, and began to look about him, at the remains of their last night's repast, and at Chicot, who, although also awake, lay pretending to snore, while, in reality, he watched.

"Broad daylight!" said the monk. "Corbleu, I must have passed the night here. And the abbey! Oh, dear! How happy he is to sleep thus!" cried he, looking at Chicot. "Ah! he is not in my position," and he sighed. "Shall I wake him to ask for advice? No, no, he will laugh at me; I can surely invent a falsehood without him. But whatever I invent, it will be hard to escape punishment. It is not so much the imprisonment, it is the bread and water I mind. Ah! if! had but some money to bribe the brother jailer."

Chicot, hearing this, adroitly slipped his purse from his pocket and put it under him. This precaution was not useless, for Gorenflot, who had been looking about him, now approached his friend softly, and murmuring:

"Were he awake, he would not refuse me a crown, but his sleep is sacred, and I will take it," advanced, and began feeling his pockets. "It is singular," said he, "nothing in his pockets. Ah! in his hat, perhaps."

While he searched there Chicot adroitly emptied out his money, and stuffed the empty purse into his breeches pocket.

"Nothing in the hat," said the monk. "Ah! I forgot," and thrusting in his hand, he drew from the pocket the empty purse. "Mon Dieu," cried he, "empty! and who will pay the bill?"

This thought terrified him so much that he got up and made instantly for the door, through which he quickly disappeared. As he approached the convent, his fears grew strong, and seeing a concourse of monks standing talking on the threshold, he felt inclined to fly. But some of them approached to meet him; he knew flight was hopeless, and resigned himself. The monks seemed at first to hesitate to speak to him, but at last one said:

"Poor dear brother!"

Gorenflot sighed, and raised his eyes to Heaven.

"You know the prior waits for you?"

"Ah! mon Dieu!"

"Oh! yes; he ordered that you should be brought to him as soon as you came in."

"I feared it," said Gorenflot. And more dead than alive, he entered the convent, whose doors closed on him. They led him to the prior. Gorenflot did not dare to raise his eyes, finding himself alone with his justly irritated superior.

"Ah! it is you at last," said the abbe.

"Reverend sir——"

"What anxiety you have given me."

"You are too good, my father," said Gorenflot, astonished at this indulgent tone.

"You feared to come in after the scene of last night?"

"I confess it."

"Ah, dear brother, you have been very imprudent."

"Let me explain, father."

"There is no need of explanations; your sally——"

"Oh! so much the better," thought Gorenflot.

"I understand it perfectly. A moment of enthusiasm carried you away; enthusiasm is a holy virtue, but virtues, exaggerated become almost vices, and the most honorable sentiments, when carried to excess, are reprehensible."

"Pardon, my father," said Gorenflot, timidly, "but I do not understand. Of what sally do you speak?"

"Of yours last night."

"Out of the convent?"

"No; in it. I am as good a Catholic as you, but your audacity frightened me."

Gorenflot was puzzled. "Was I audacious?" asked he.

"More than that—rash."

"Alas! you must pardon me, my father. I will endeavor to correct myself."

"Yes; but meanwhile, I fear the consequences for you and for all of us. Had it passed among ourselves, it would have been nothing."

"How, is it known to others?"

"Doubtless; you know well there were more than a hundred laymen listening to your discourse."

"My discourse!" said Gorenflot, more and more astonished.

"I allow it was fine, and that the universal applause must have carried you on, but to propose to make a procession through the streets of Paris, with a helmet on your head and a partisan on your shoulder, appealing to all good Catholics, was rather too strong, you will allow." Gorenflot looked bewildered.

"Now," continued the prior, "this religious fervor, which burns so strongly in your heart, will injure you in Paris. I wish you therefore to go and expend it in the provinces."

"An exile!" cried Gorenflot.

"If you remain here, much worse may happen to you, my dear brother."

"What?"

"Perpetual imprisonment, or even death."

Gorenflot grew frightfully pale; he could not understand how he had incurred all this by getting tipsy in an inn, and passing the night out of the convent.

"By submitting to this temporary exile, my dear brother, not only will you escape this danger, but you will plant the banner of our faith in the provinces, where such words are less dangerous than here, under the eyes of the king. Set off at once, then, brother; perhaps the archers are already out to arrest you."

"The archers, I!" said Gorenflot.

"I advise you to go at once."

"It is easy to say 'go,' but how am I to live?"

"Oh! nothing more easy. You will find plenty of partisans who will let you want for nothing. But go, in Heaven's name, and do not come back till you are sent for." And the prior, after embracing him, pushed him to the door. There he found all the community waiting for him, to touch his hands or his robe.

"Adieu!" said one, embracing him, "you are a holy man; do not forget me in your prayers."

"I, a holy man!" thought Gorenflot.

"Adieu, brave champion of the faith," said another.

"Adieu, martyr," said a third, "the light will soon come."

Thus was he conducted to the outside of the convent, and as he went away he exclaimed, "Devil take me, but either they are all mad, or I am."



CHAPTER XXVII.

HOW BROTHER GORENFLOT REMAINED CONVINCED THAT HE WAS A SOMNAMBULIST, AND BITTERLY DEPLORED THIS INFIRMITY.

Until the day when this unmerited persecution fell on Brother Gorenflot, he had led a contemplative and easy life, diverting himself on occasions at the Corne d'Abondance, when he had gained a little money from the faithful. He was one of those monks for whom the world began at the prior of the convent, and finished at the cook. And now he was sent forth to seek for adventures. He had no money; so that when out of Paris and he heard eleven o'clock (the time for dinner at the convent) strike, he sat down in dejection. His first idea was to return to the convent, and ask to be put in confinement, instead of being sent in to exile, and even to submit to the discipline, provided they would insure him his repasts. His next was more reasonable. He would go to the Corne d'Abondance, send for Chicot, explain to him the lamentable situation into which he had helped to bring him, and obtain aid from this generous friend. He was sitting absorbed in these reflections, when he heard the sound of a horse's feet approaching. In great fear, he hid behind a tree until the traveler should have passed; but a new idea struck him. He would endeavor to obtain some money for his dinner. So he approached tremblingly, and said, "Monsieur, if five patera, and five aves for the success of your projects would be agreeable to you——"

"Gorenflot!" cried the cavalier.

"M. Chicot!"

"Where the devil are you going?"

"I do not know. And you?"

"Oh! I am going straight before me."

"Very far?"

"Till I stop. But you—what are you doing outside the barriers?"

"Alas! M. Chicot! I am proscribed," said Gorenflot, with an enormous sigh.

"What?"

"Proscribed, I tell you. My brothers reject me from their bosom: I am anathematized, excommunicated."

"Bah! what for?"

"Listen, M. Chicot; you will not believe me, perhaps, but I do not know."

"Perhaps you were met last night gadding about."

"Do not joke; you know quite well what I was doing last night."

"Yes, from eight till ten, but not from ten till three."

"How, from ten till three?"

"Yes, at ten you went out."

"I?"

"Yes, and I asked you where you were going."

"And what did I say?"

"That you were going to pronounce a discourse."

"There was some truth in that," murmured Gorenflot.

"Yes, and you even told me part of it; it was very long, and there were terrible things against the king in it."

"Bah!"

"So terrible, that I should not wonder if you were arrested for them."

"M. Chicot, you open my eyes; did I seem quite awake when I spoke?"

"I must say you seemed very strange; you looked like a man who talks in his sleep."

"Yet, I feel sure I awoke this morning at the Corne d'Abondance."

"Well, of course; you came in again at three o'clock. I know; you left the door open, and made me cold."

"It is true, then?"

"True! ask M. Boutromet."

"M. Boutromet?"

"Yes, he opened to you on your return. And you were so full of pride when you came in, that I said to you,—'Fie, compere; pride does not become mortals, more especially monks.'"

"And of what was I proud?"

"Of the success your discourse had met with, and the compliments paid to you by the Duc de Guise and M. de Mayenne."

"Now I understand all."

"That is lucky. Then you confess you went to the assembly; what did you call it? Oh! the Holy Union."

Gorenflot groaned. "I am a somnambulist," he said.

"What does that mean?"

"It means, that with me mind is stronger than matter; so that while the body sleeps, the spirit wakes, and sometimes is so powerful that it forces the body to obey."

"Ah! compere, that sounds much like magic; if you are possessed, tell me so frankly; for, really a man who walks and makes discourses in his sleep in which he attacks the king is not natural. Vade retro, Satanas!"

"Then," cried Gorenflot, "you abandon me also. Ah! I could not have believed that of you."

Chicot took pity on him. "What did you tell me just now?" said he.

"I do not know; I feel half mad, and my stomach is empty."

"You spoke of traveling."

"Yes, the holy prior sends me."

"Where to?"

"Wherever I like."

"I also am traveling, and will take you with me."

Gorenflot looked bewildered.

"Well! do you accept?" continued Chicot.

"Accept! I should think so. But have you money to travel with?"

"Look," said Chicot, drawing out his purse.

Gorenflot jumped for joy.

"How much?" said he.

"One hundred and fifty pistoles."

"And where are we going?"

"You shall see."

"When shall we breakfast?"

"Immediately."

"What shall I ride?"

"Not my horse; you would kill it."

"Then what must I do?"

"Nothing more simple; I will buy you an ass."

"You are my benefactor, M. Chicot. Let the ass be strong. Now, where do we breakfast?"

"Here; look over this door and read."

Gorenflot looked up, and saw, "Here eggs, ham, eel-pies, and white wine may be had!" At this sight, Gorenflot's whole face expanded with joy.

"Now," said Chicot, "go and get your breakfast, while I go and look for an ass for you."



CHAPTER XXVIIL

HOW BROTHER GORENFLOT TRAVELED UPON AN ASS, NAMED PANURGE, AND LEARNED MANY THINGS HE DID NOT KNOW BEFORE.

What made Chicot so indifferent to his own repast was, that he had already breakfasted plentifully. Therefore, he sat Gorenflot down to eggs and bacon, while he went among the peasants to look for an ass. He found a pacific creature, four years old, and something between an ass and a horse; gave twenty-two livres for it, and brought it to Gorenflot, who was enchanted at the sight of it, and christened it Panurge. Chicot, seeing by the look of the table that there would be no cruelty in staying his companion's repast, said,—

"Come, now we must go on; at Melun we will lunch."

Gorenflot got up, merely saying, "At Melun, at Melun."

They went on for about four leagues, then Gorenflot lay down on the grass to sleep, while Chicot began to calculate.

"One hundred and twenty leagues, at ten leagues a day, would take twelve days." It was as much as he could reasonably expect from the combined forces of a monk and an ass. But Chicot shook his head. "It will not do," he said, "if he wants to follow me, he must do fifteen."

He pushed the monk to wake him, who, opening his eyes, said, "Are we at Melun? I am hungry."

"Not yet, compere, and that is why I woke you; we must get on; we go too slow, ventre de biche!"

"Oh, no, dear M. Chicot; it is so fatiguing to go fast. Besides, there is no hurry: am I not traveling for the propagation of the faith, and you for pleasure? Well, the slower we go, the better the faith will be propagated, and the more you will amuse yourself. My advice is to stay some days at Melun, where they make excellent eel-pies. What do you say, M. Chicot?"

"I say, that my opinion is to go as fast as possible; not to lunch at Melun, but only to sup at Monterau, to make up for lost time."

Gorenflot looked at his companion as if he did not understand.

"Come, let us get on," said Chicot.

The monk sat still and groaned.

"If you wish to stay behind and travel at your ease, you are welcome."

"No, no!" cried Gorenflot, in terror; "no, no, M. Chicot; I love you too much to leave you!"

"Then to your saddle at once."

Gorenflot got on his ass this time sideways, as a lady sits, saying it was more comfortable; but the fact was that, fearing they were to go faster, he wished to be able to hold on both by mane and tail.

Chicot began to trot, and the ass followed. The first moments were terrible for Gorenflot, but he managed to keep his seat. From time to time Chicot stood up in his stirrups and looked forward, then, not seeing what he looked for, redoubled his speed.

"What are you looking for, dear M. Chicot?"

"Nothing; but we are not getting on."

"Not getting on! we are trotting all the way."

"Gallop then!" and he began to canter.

Panurge again followed; Gorenflot was in agonies.

"Oh, M. Chicot!" said he, as soon as he could speak, "do you call this traveling for pleasure? It does not amuse me at all."

"On! on!"

"It is dreadful!"

"Stay behind then!"

"Panurge can do no more; he is stopping."

"Then adieu, compere!"

Gorenflot felt half inclined to reply in the same manner, but he remembered that the horse, whom he felt ready to curse, bore on his back a man with a hundred and fifty pistoles in his pocket, so he resigned himself, and beat his ass to make him gallop once more.

"I shall kill my poor Panurge!" cried he dolefully, thinking to move Chicot.

"Well, kill him," said Chicot quietly, "and we will buy another."

All at once Chicot, on arriving at the top of a hill, reined in his horse suddenly. But the ass, having once taken it into his head to gallop, was not so easily stopped, and Gorenflot was forced to let himself slide off and hang on to the donkey with all his weight before he could stop him.

"Ah, M. Chicot!" cried he, "what does it all mean? First we must gallop fit to break our necks, and then we must stop short here!"

Chicot had hidden himself behind a rock, and was eagerly watching three men who, about two hundred yards in advance, were traveling on quietly on their mules, and he did not reply.

"I am tired and hungry!" continued Gorenflot angrily.

"And so am I," said Chicot; "and at the first hotel we come to we will order a couple of fricasseed chickens, some ham, and a jug of their best wine."

"Really, is it true this time?"

"I promise you, compere."

"Well, then, let us go and seek it. Come, Panurge, you shall have some dinner."

Chicot remounted his horse, and Gorenflot led his ass. The much-desired inn soon appeared, but, to the surprise of Gorenflot, Chicot caused him to make a detour and pass round the back. At the front door were standing the three travelers.



CHAPTER XXIX.

HOW BROTHER GORENFLOT CHANGED HIS ASS FOR A MULE, AND HIS MULE FOR A HORSE.

However, Gorenflot's troubles were near their end for that day, for after the detour they went on a mile, and then stopped at a rival hotel. Chicot took a room which looked on to the high-road, and ordered supper. But even while he was eating he was constantly on the watch. However, at ten o'clock, as he had seen nothing, he went to bed, first, however, ordering that the horse and the ass should be ready at daybreak.

"At daybreak?" uttered Gorenflot, with a deep sigh.

"Yes; you must be used to getting up at that time."

"Why so?"

"For matins."

"I had an exemption from the superior." Chicot ordered Gorenflot's bed to be placed in his room. With daylight he was up and at the window, and before very long he saw three mules coming along. He ran to Gorenflot and shook him.

"Can I not have a moment's rest?" cried the monk, who had been sleeping for ten hours.

"Be quick; get up and dress, for we are going."

"But the breakfast?"

"Is on the road to Monterau."

"Where is Monterau?"

"It is the city where we breakfast, that is enough for you. Now, I am going down to pay the bill, and if you are not ready in five minutes, I go without you."

A monk's toilet takes not long; however, Gorenflot took six minutes, and when he came down Chicot was starting. This day passed much like the former one, and by the third, Gorenflot was beginning to get accustomed to it, when towards the evening, Chicot lost all his gaiety. Since noon he had seen nothing of the three travelers; therefore he was in a very bad humor. They were off at daybreak and galloped till noon, but all in vain; no mules were visible. Chicot stopped at a turnpike, and asked the man if he had seen three travelers pass on mules.

"Not to-day," was the reply, "yesterday evening about seven."

"What were they like?"

"They looked like a master and two servants!"

"It was them," said Chicot; "ventre de biche! they have twelve hours' start of me. But courage!"

"Listen, M. Chicot!" said Gorenflot, "my ass can do no more, even your horse is almost exhausted." Chicot looked, and saw, indeed, that the poor animals were trembling from head to foot.

"Well! brother," said he, "we must take a resolution. You must leave me."

"Leave you; why?"

"You go too slow."

"Slow! why, we have galloped for five hours this morning."

"That is not enough."

"Well, then, let us go on; the quicker we go, the sooner we shall arrive, for I suppose we shall stop at last."

"But our animals are exhausted."

"What shall we do then?"

"Leave them here, and take them as we come back."

"Then how are we to proceed?"

"We will buy mules."

"Very well," said Gorenflot with a sigh. Two mules were soon found, and they went so well that in the evening Chicot saw with joy those of the three travelers, standing at the door of a farrier's. But they were without harness, and both master and lackeys had disappeared. Chicot trembled. "Go," said he, to Gorenflot, "and ask if those mules are for sale, and where their owners are." Gorenflot went, and soon returned, saying that a gentleman had sold them, and had afterwards taken the road to Avignon.

"Alone?"

"No, with a lackey."

"And where is the other lackey?"

"He went towards Lyons."

"And how did they go on?"

"On horses which they bought."

"Of whom?"

"Of a captain of troopers who was here, and they sold their mules to a dealer, who is trying to sell them again to those Franciscan monks whom you see there."

"Well, take our two mules and go and offer them to the monks instead; they ought to give you the preference."

"But, then, how shall we go on?"

"On horseback, morbleu."

"Diable!"

"Oh! a good rider like you. You will find me again on the Grand Place." Chicot was bargaining for some horses, when he saw the monk reappear, carrying the saddles and bridles of the mules.

"Oh! you have kept the harness?"

"Yes."

"And sold the mules?"

"For ten pistoles each."

"Which they paid you?"

"Here is the money."

"Ventre de biche! you are a great man, let us go on."

"But I am thirsty."

"Well, drink while I saddle the beasts, but not too much."

"A bottle."

"Very well."

Gorenflot drank two, and came to give the rest of the money back to Chicot, who felt half inclined to give it to him, but reflecting that if Gorenflot had money he would no longer be obedient, he refrained. They rode on, and the next evening Chicot came up with Nicolas David, still disguised as a lackey, and kept him in sight all the way to Lyons, whose gates they all three entered on the eighth day after their departure from Paris.



CHAPTER XXX.

HOW CHICOT AND HIS COMPANION INSTALLED THEMSELVES AT THE HOTEL OF THE CROSS, AND HOW THEY WERE RECEIVED BY THE HOST.

Chicot watched Nicolas David into the principal hotel of the place, and then said to Gorenflot, "Go in and bargain for a private room, say that you expect your brother, then come out and wait about for me, and I will come in when it is dark, and you can bring me straight to my room. Do you understand?"

"Perfectly."

"Choose a good room, as near as possible to that of the traveler who has just arrived; it must look on to the street, and on no account pronounce my name."

Gorenflot acquitted himself marvelously of the commission. Their room was only separated by a partition from that of Nicolas David.

"You deserve a recompense," said Chicot to him, "and you shall have sherry wine for supper."

"I never got tipsy on that wine; it would be agreeable."

"You shall to-night. But now ramble about the town."

"But the supper?"

"I shall be ready against your return; here is a crown meanwhile."

Gorenflot went off quite happy, and then Chicot made, with a gimlet, a hole in the partition at about the height of his eye. Through this, he could hear distinctly all that passed, and he could just see the host talking to Nicolas David, who was professing to have been sent on a mission by the king, to whom he professed great fidelity. The host did not reply, but Chicot fancied he could see an ironical smile on his lip whenever the king's name was mentioned.

"Is he a leaguer?" thought Chicot; "I will find out."

When the host left David he came to visit Chicot, who said, "Pray sit down, monsieur; and before we make a definitive arrangement, listen to my history. You saw me this morning with a monk?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"Silence! that monk is proscribed."

"What! is he a disguised Huguenot?"

Chicot took an offended air. "Huguenot, indeed! he is my relation, and I have no Huguenot relations. On the contrary, he is so fierce an enemy of the Huguenots, that he has fallen into disgrace with his majesty Henri III., who protects them, as you know."

The host began to look interested. "Silence," said he.

"Why, have you any of the king's people here?"

"I fear so; there is a traveler in there."

"Then we must fly at once, for proscribed, menaced——"

"Where will you go?"

"We have two or three addresses given to us by an innkeeper we know, M. la Huriere."

"Do you know La Huriere?"

"Yes, we made his acquaintance on the night of St. Bartholomew."

"Well, I see you and your relation are holy people; I also know La Huriere. Then you say this monk——"

"Had the imprudence to preach against the Huguenots, and with so much success that the king wanted to put him in prison."

"And then?"

"Ma foi, I carried him off."

"And you did well."

"M. de Guise offered to protect him."

"What! the great Henri?"

"Himself; but I feared civil war."

"If you are friends of M. de Guise, you know this;" and he made a sort of masonic sign by which the leaguers recognized each other.

Chicot, who had seen both this and the answer to it twenty times during that famous night, replied, "And you this?"

"Then," said the innkeeper, "you are at home here; my house is yours, look on me as a brother, and if you have no money——"

Chicot drew out his purse. The sight of a well-filled purse is always agreeable, even to a generous host.

"Our journey," continued Chicot, "is paid for by the treasurer of the Holy Union, for we travel to propagate the faith. Tell us of an inn where we may be safe."

"Nowhere more so than here, and if you wish it, the other traveler shall turn out."

"Oh! no; it is better to have your enemies near, that you may watch them. But, what makes you think he is our enemy?"

"Well! first he came disguised as a lackey, then he put on an advocate's dress, and I am sure he is no more an advocate than he is a lackey, for I saw a long rapier under his cloak. Then he avowed he had a mission from the king!"

"From Herod, as I call him."

"Sardanapalus."

"Bravo!"

"Ah! I see we understand each other."

"Then we are to remain here?"

"I should think so."

"Not a word about my relation."

"Of course not."

"Nor of me."

"Oh, no! But hush! here is some one."

"Oh, it is the worthy man himself!"

The host turned to Gorenflot, and made a sign of the leaguers. Gorenflot was struck with terror and astonishment.

"Reply, my brother," said Chicot; "he is a member."

"Of what?"

"Of the Holy Union," said Bernouillet, in a low tone.

"You see all is safe; reply," said Chicot.

Gorenflot replied, to the great joy of the innkeeper.

"But," said Gorenflot, who did not like the conversation, "you promised me some sherry."

"Sherry, Malaga, Alicant—every wine in my cellar is at your disposal."

Gorenflot looked at Chicot in amazement.

For three following days Gorenflot got drunk, first on sherry, next on Malaga, then on Alicant; afterwards he declared he liked Burgundy best, and returned to that. Meanwhile, Chicot had never stirred from his room, and had constantly watched Nicolas David, who, having appointed to meet Pierre de Gondy at this inn, would not leave the house. On the morning of the sixth day he declared himself ill, and the next day worse. Bernouillet came joyfully to tell Chicot.

"What! do you think him in danger?"

"High fever, my dear brother; he is delirious, and tried to strangle me and beat my servants. The doctors do not understand his complaint."

"Have you seen him?"

"Yes; I tell you he tried to strangle me."

"How did he seem?"

"Pale and furious, and constantly crying out."

"What?"

"Take care of the king! they want to hurt the king! Then he constantly says that he expects a man from Avignon, and wishes to see him before he dies."

As for Gorenflot, he grew visibly fatter every day, so much so, that he announced to Chicot with terror one day that the staircase was narrowing. Neither David, the League, nor religion occupied him; he thought of nothing but how to vary his dinner and wine, so that Bernouillet often exclaimed in astonishment, "To think that that man should be a torrent of eloquence!"



CHAPTER XXXI.

HOW THE MONK CONFESSED THE ADVOCATE, AND THE ADVOCATE THE MONK.

At last M. Bernouillet came into Chicot's room, laughing immoderately.

"He is dying," said he, "and the man has arrived from Avignon."

"Have you seen him?"

"Of course."

"What is he like?"

"Little and thin."

"It is he," thought Chicot; and he said, "Tell me about his arrival."

"An hour ago I was in the kitchen, when I saw a great horse, ridden by a little man, stop before the door. 'Is M. Nicolas here?' asked he. 'Yes, monsieur,' said I. 'Tell him that the person he expects from Avignon is here.' 'Certainly, monsieur, but I must warn you that he is very ill.' 'All the more reason for doing my bidding at once.' 'But he has a malignant fever.' 'Oh, pray, then, be quick!' 'How! you persist?' 'I persist.' 'In spite of the danger!' 'In spite of everything I must see him.' So I took him to the room, and there he is now. Is it not odd?"

"Very droll."

"I wish I could hear them."

"Go in."

"He forbade me to go in, saying he was going to confess."

"Listen at the door."

Bernouillet went, and Chicot went also to his hole: but they spoke so low that he could hear nothing, and in a few minutes Gondy rose and took leave. Chicot ran to the window, and saw a lackey waiting with a horse, which M. de Gondy mounted and rode off.

"If he only has not carried off the genealogy. Never mind, I shall soon catch him if necessary; but I suspect it is left here. Where can Gorenflot be?"

M. Bernouillet returned, saying, "He is gone."

"The confessor?"

"He is no more a confessor than I am."

"Will you send me my brother as soon as he comes in."

"Even if he be drunk?"

"Whatever state he is in."

Bernouillet went, and Chicot remained in a state of indecision as to what to do, for he thought, "If David is really so ill, he may have sent on the despatches by Gondy." Presently he heard Gorenflot's voice, singing a drinking song as he came up the stairs.

"Silence, drunkard!" said Chicot.

"Drunkard, indeed!"

"Yes; but come here and speak seriously, if you can."

"What is it now?"

"It is, that you never think of the duties of your profession, that you wallow in greediness and drunkenness, and let religion go where it pleases."

Gorenflot looked astonished. "I!" he gasped.

"Yes, you; you are disgraceful to see; you are covered with mud; you have been drunk in the streets."

"It is too true!"

"If you go on so, I will abandon you."

"Chicot, my friend, you will not do that? Am I very guilty?"

"There are archers at Lyons."

"Oh, pity! my dear protector, pity!"

"Are you a Christian or not?"

"I not a Christian!"

"Then do not let a neighbor die without confession."

"I am ready, but I must drink first, for I am thirsty."

Chicot passed him a jug of water, which he emptied.

"Now who am I to confess?"

"Our unlucky neighbor who is dying."

"Let them give him a pint of wine with honey in it."

"He needs spiritual aid as well as temporal. Go to him."

"Am I fit?" said Gorenflot, timidly.

"Perfectly."

"Then I will go."

"Stay; I must tell you what to do."

"Oh! I know."

"You do not know what I wish."

"What you wish?"

"If you execute it well, I will give you one hundred pistoles to spend here."

"What must I do?"

"Listen; your robe gives you authority; in the name of God and the King, summon him to give up the papers he has just received from Avignon."

"What for?"

"To gain one hundred pistoles, stupid."

"Ah! true; I go."

"Wait a minute. He will tell you he has confessed."

"But if he has?"

"Tell him he lies; that the man who has just left him is no confessor, but an intriguer like himself."

"But he will be angry."

"What does that matter, since he is dying?"

"True."

"Well; one way or the other, you must get hold of those papers."

"If he refuses?"

"Refuse him absolution, curse him, anathematize him——"

"Oh, I will take them by force."

"Good; and when you have got them, knock on the wall."

"And if I cannot get them?"

"Knock also."

"Then, in any case I am to knock?"

"Yes."

Gorenflot went, and Chicot placed his ear to the hole in the wall. When Gorenflot entered, the sick man raised himself in his bed, and looked at him with wonder.

"Good day, brother," said Gorenflot.

"What do you want, my father?" murmured the sick man, in a feeble voice.

"My son, I hear you are in danger, and I come to speak to you of your soul."

"Thank you, but I think your care is needless; I feel better."

"You think so?"

"I am sure of it."

"It is a ruse of Satan, who wishes you to die without confession."

"Then he will be deceived, for I have just confessed."

"To whom?"

"To a worthy priest from Avignon."

"He was not a priest."

"Not!"

"No."

"How do you know?"

"I knew him."

"You knew the man who has just gone?"

"Yes; and as you are not better, and this man was not a priest, you must confess."

"Very well," replied the patient, in a stronger voice, "but I will chose to whom I will confess."

"You will have no time to send for another priest, and I am here."

"How! no time, when I tell you I am getting well?"

Gorenflot shook his head. "I tell you, my son, you are condemned by the doctors and by Providence; you may think it cruel to tell you so, but it is what we must all come to sooner or later. Confess, my son, confess."

"But I assure you, father, that I feel much stronger."

"A mistake, my son, the lamp flares up at the last, just before it goes out. Come, confess all your plots, your intrigues, and machinations!"

"My intrigues and plots!" cried David, frightened at this singular monk, whom he did not know, but who seemed to know him so well.

"Yes; and when you have told all that, give me up the papers, and perhaps God will let me absolve you."

"What papers?" cried the sick man, in a voice as strong as though he were quite well.

"The papers that the pretended priest brought you from Avignon."

"And who told you that he brought me papers?" cried the patient, putting one leg out of bed.

Gorenflot began to feel frightened, but he said firmly, "He who told me knew well what he was saying; give me the papers, or you shall have no absolution."

"I laugh at your absolution," cried David, jumping out of bed, and seizing Gorenflot by the throat, "and you shall see if I am too ill to strangle you."

Gorenflot was strong, and he pushed David back so violently that he fell into the middle of the room. But he rose furious, and seizing a long sword, which hung on the wall behind his clothes, presented it to the throat of Gorenflot, who sank on a chair in terror.

"It is now your turn to confess," said he, "speak, or you die."

"Oh!" cried Gorenflot, "then you are not ill—not dying."

"It is not for you to question, but to answer."

"To answer what?"

"Who are you?"

"You can see that."

"Your name?"

"Brother Gorenflot."

"You are then a real monk?"

"I should think so."

"What brings you to Lyons?"

"I am exiled."

"What brought you to this inn?"

"Chance."

"How long have you been here?"

"A fortnight."

"Why did you watch me?"

"I did not."

"How did you know that I had the papers?"

"Because I was told so."

"Who told you?"

"He who sent me here."

"Who was that?"

"I cannot tell you."

"You must."

"Oh! oh! I will cry out."

"And I will kill."

Gorenflot cried out, and a spot of blood appeared on the point of the sword.

"His name?" cried David.

"Oh! I can hold out no more."

"Speak."

"It was Chicot."

"The king's jester!"

"Himself."

"And where is he?"

"Here!" cried a voice, and Chicot appeared at the door with a drawn sword in his hand.



CHAPTER XXXII.

HOW CHICOT USED HIS SWORD.

Nicolas David, in recognizing him whom he knew to be his mortal enemy, could not repress a movement of terror, during which Gorenflot slipped a little to the side, crying out, "Help, friend! come to my aid!"

"Ah, Monsieur David, it is you!" said Chicot; "I am delighted to meet you again!" Then, turning to Gorenflot, he said, "My good Gorenflot, your presence as monk was very necessary just now, when we believed monsieur dying; but now that he is so well, it is with me he must deal; therefore, do me the favor to stand sentinel on the threshold, and prevent any one from coming in to interrupt our little conversation." Gorenflot, who asked no better than to go, was soon out of the room; but David, having now recovered from his surprise, and confident in his skill as a swordsman, stood waiting for Chicot, with his sword in his hand and a smile on his lips.

"Dress yourself, monsieur," said Chicot; "I do not wish to take any advantage of you. Do you know what I have come to seek in this room?"

"The rest of the blows which I have owed you on account of the Duc de Mayenne, since that day when you jumped so quickly out of the window."

"No, monsieur; I know the number, and will return them. Be easy. What I have come for is a certain genealogy which M. Pierre de Gondy took to Avignon, without knowing what he carried, and, equally in ignorance, brought back to you just now."

David turned pale. "What genealogy?" he said.

"That of M. de Guise, who descends, as you know, in a direct line from Charlemagne."

"Ah, you are a spy! I thought you only a buffoon."

"Dear M. David, I will be both if you wish it: a spy to hang you, and a buffoon to laugh at it after."

"To hang me!"

"High and dry, monsieur; I hope you do not lay claim to be beheaded like a gentleman."

"And how will you do it?"

"Oh, very easily; I will relate the truth, for I must tell you, dear M. David, that I assisted last month at the meeting held in the convent of St. Genevieve."

"You!"

"Yes; I was in the confessional in front of yours, and it was very uncomfortable there, especially as I was obliged to wait to go out until all was finished. Therefore I heard all, saw the coronation of M. d'Anjou, which was not very amusing; but then the genealogy was delightful."

"Ah! you know about the genealogy?" cried David, biting his lips with anger.

"Yes, and I found it very ingenious, especially that part about the Salic law; only it is a misfortune to have so much intellect, one gets hung for it; therefore, feeling myself moved with tender pity for so ingenious a man, I said to myself, 'Shall I let this brave M. David be hung?' and I took the resolution of traveling with, or rather behind, you. I followed you, therefore, not without trouble, and at last we arrived at Lyons. I entered the hotel an hour after you, and have been in the adjoining room; look, there is only a partition between, and, as you may imagine, I did not travel all the way from Paris to Lyons to lose sight of you now. I pierced a little hole, through which I had the pleasure of watching you when I liked, and I confess I gave myself this pleasure several times a day. At last you fell ill; the host wished to get rid of you, but you were determined to wait here for M. de Gondy. I was duped by you at first, for you might really have been ill, so I sent you a brave monk, to excite you to repentance; but, hardened sinner that you are, you tried to kill him, forgetting the Scripture maxim, 'He who strikes with the sword shall perish with the sword.' Then I came to you, and said, 'We are old friends; let us arrange the matter.'"

"In what manner?"

"It would be a pity that such a man as you should disappear from the world; give up plots, trust me, break with the Guises, give me your papers, and, on the faith of a gentleman, I will make your peace with the king."

"While, on the contrary, if I do not give them to you?"

"Ah! then, on the faith of a gentleman, I will kill you! But if you give them to me, all shall be forgotten. You do not believe me, perhaps, for your nature is bad, and you think my resentment can never be forgotten. But, although it is true that I hate you, I hate M. de Mayenne more; give me what will ruin him, and I will save you. And then, perhaps, you will not believe this either, for you love nothing; but I love the king, foolish and corrupted as he is, and I wish that he should reign tranquilly—which is impossible with the Mayennes and the genealogy of Nicolas David. Therefore, give me up the genealogy, and I promise to make your name and your fortune."

David never moved.

"Well," said Chicot, "I see all that I say to you is but wasted breath; therefore, I go to get you hanged. Adieu, M. David," and he stepped backwards towards the door.

"And you think I shall let you go out," cried the advocate.

"No, no, my fine spy; no, no, Chicot, my friend, those who know of the genealogy must die. Those who menace me must die."

"You put me quite at my ease; I hesitated only because I am sure to kill you. Crillon, the other day, taught me a particular thrust, only one, but that will suffice. Come, give me the papers, or I will kill you; and I will tell you how—I will pierce your throat just where you wished to bleed Gorenflot."

Chicot had hardly finished, when David rushed on him with a savage laugh. The two adversaries were nearly matched in height, but Chicot, who fenced nearly every day with the king, had become one of the most skilful swordsmen in the kingdom. David soon began to perceive this, and he retreated a step.

"Ah! ah!" said Chicot, "now you begin to understand. Once more; the papers."

David, for answer, threw himself again upon Chicot, and a new combat ensued. At last Chicot called out,—

"Here is the thrust," and as he spoke, he thrust his rapier half through his throat.

David did not reply, but fell at Chicot's feet, pouring out a mouthful of blood. But by a natural movement he tried to drag himself towards his bed, so as to defend his secret to the last.

"Ah!" cried Chicot, "I thought you cunning, but I see you are a fool. I did not know where the papers were, and you have shown me——" and while David rolled in the agonies of death, he ran to the bed, raised the mattress, and found under it a roll of parchment. At the moment in which he unrolled it to see if it was the document he sought, David raised himself in a rage and then fell back dead. Chicot saw with joy that he held what he wanted. The Pope had written at the bottom, "Fiat ut voluit Deus; Deus jura hominum fecit." After placing it in his breast, he took the body of the advocate, who had died without losing more blood, the nature of the wound making him bleed inwardly, put it back in the bed, turned the face to the wall, and, opening the door, called Gorenflot.

"How pale you are!" said the monk, as he entered.

"Yes, the last moments of that man caused me some emotion."

"Then he is dead?"

"Yes."

"He was so well just now."

"Too well; he swallowed something difficult of digestion, and died of it."

"The wretch wanted to strangle me, a holy man, and he is punished for it."

"Pardon him, you are a Christian."

"I do, although he frightened me much."

"You must do more; you must light the lamps, and say some prayers by his bed."

"Why?"

"That you may not be taken prisoner as his murderer."

"I, a murderer! it was he who tried to murder me."

"Mon Dieu! yes, and as he could not succeed, his rage made him break a blood-vessel. But till your innocence is established they might annoy you much."

"I fear you are right."

"Then do what I tell you. Install yourself here, and recite all the prayers you know, or do not know; then, when evening comes, go out and call at the ironmonger's at the corner of the street. There you will find your horse; mount him, and take the road to Paris; at Villeneuve-le-Roi sell him, and take Panurge back."

"Ah! that good Panurge; I shall be delighted to see him again. But how am I to live?"

Chicot drew from his pocket a handful of crowns and put them into the large hand of the monk.

"Generous man!" cried Gorenflot. "Let me stay with you at Lyons; I love Lyons."

"But I do not stay here; I set off at once, and travel too rapidly for you to follow me."

"So be it, then."

Chicot installed the monk by the bed, and went downstairs to the host.

"M. Bernouillet," said he, "a great event has taken place in your house."

"What do you mean?"

"The hateful royalist, the enemy of our religion upstairs, received to-day a messenger from Rome."

"I know that: it was I who told you."

"Well, our holy father, the Pope, had sent him to this conspirator, who, however, probably did not suspect for what purpose."

"And why did he come?"

"Go up-stairs, lift up the bedclothes, look at his neck, and you will see."

"You frighten me."

"I say no more. The Pope did you honor in choosing your house for the scene of his vengeance."

Then Chicot put ten crowns into the hand of the host, and went down to the stable to get out the horses. M. Bernouillet went up and found Gorenflot praying. He looked as directed, and found the wound.

"May every enemy of our religion die thus," said he to Gorenflot.

"Amen," replied the monk.

These events passed about the same time that Bussy brought the Baron de Meridor back to his daughter.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

HOW THE DUC D'ANJOU LEARNED THAT DIANA WAS NOT DEAD.

The month of April had arrived. The great cathedral of Chartres was hung with white, and the king was standing barefooted in the nave. The religious ceremonies, which were for the purpose of praying for an heir to the throne of France, were just finishing, when Henri, in the midst of the general silence, heard what seemed to him a stifled laugh. He turned round to see if Chicot were there, for he thought no one else would have dared to laugh at such a time. It was not, however, Chicot who had laughed at the sight of the two chemises of the Holy Virgin which were said to have such a prolific power, and which were just being drawn from their golden box; but it was a cavalier who had just stopped at the door of the church, and who was making his way with his muddy boots through the crowd of courtiers in their penitents' robes and sacks. Seeing the king turn, he stopped for a moment, and Henri, irritated at seeing him arrive thus, threw an angry glance at him. The newcomer, however, continued to advance until he reached the velvet chair of M. le Duc d'Anjou, by which he knelt down. He, turning round, said, "Bussy!"

"Good morning, monseigneur."

"Are you mad?"

"Why so?"

"To come here to see this nonsense."

"Monseigneur, I wish to speak to you at once."

"Where have you been for the last three weeks?"

"That is just what I have to tell you."

"Well, you must wait until we leave the church."

"So much the worse."

"Patience, here is the end."

Indeed, the king was putting on one of these chemises, and the queen another. Then they all knelt down, and afterwards the king, taking off his holy tunic, left the church.

"Now, monseigneur," said Bussy, "shall we go to your house?"

"Yes, at once, if you have anything to tell me."

"Plenty of things which you do not expect."

When they were in the hotel the duke said, "Now sit down and tell me all; I feared you were dead."

"Very likely, monseigneur."

"You left me to look after my beautiful unknown. Who is this woman, and what am I to expect?"

"You will reap what you have sown, monseigneur—plenty of shame."

"What do you mean?" cried the duke.

"What I said."

"Explain yourself, monsieur; who is this woman?"

"I thought you had recognized her."

"Then it was her?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"You saw her?"

"Yes."

"And she spoke to you?"

"Certainly. Doubtless you had reason to think her dead, and you perhaps hoped she was so."

The duke grew pale.

"Yes, monseigneur," continued Bussy, "although you pushed to despair a young girl of noble race, she escaped from death; but do not breathe yet, do not think yourself absolved, for, in preserving her life, she found a misfortune worse than death."

"What is it? what has happened to her?"

"Monseigneur, a man preserved her honor and saved her life, but he made her pay for this service so dearly that she regrets his having rendered it."

"Finish."

"Well, monseigneur, Mademoiselle de Meridor, to escape becoming the mistress of the Duc d'Anjou, has thrown herself into the arms of a man whom she detests, and is now Madame de Monsoreau."

At these words the blood rushed furiously into the duke's face.

"Is this true?" said he.

"Pardieu! I said it," said Bussy, haughtily.

"I did not mean that; I did not doubt your word, Bussy, I wondered only if it were possible that one of my gentlemen had had the audacity to interfere between me and a woman whom I honored with my love."

"And why not?"

"Then you would have done so?"

"I would have done better; I would have warned you that your honor was being lost."

"Listen, Bussy," said the prince, becoming calmer, "I do not justify myself, but M. de Monsoreau has been a traitor towards me."

"Towards you?"

"Yes, he knew my intentions."

"And they were?"

"To try and make Diana love me."

"Love you!"

"Yes, but in no case to use violence."

"Those were your intentions?" said Bussy, with an ironical smile.

"Certainly, and these intentions I preserved to the last, although M. de Monsoreau constantly combated them."

"Monseigneur, what do you say! This man incited you to dishonor Diana?"

"Yes."

"By his counsels?"

"By his letters. Would you like to see them?"

"Oh! if I could believe that!"

"You shall see."

And the duke, opening a little cabinet, and taking out a letter, said, "Since you doubt your prince's words, read."

Bussy took it and read,—

"MONSEIGNEUR,

"Be quite easy; the coup-de-main can be executed without risk, for the young person sets off this evening to pass a week with an aunt who lives at the chateau of Lude. I charge myself with it, and you need take no trouble as for the scruples of the young lady, be sure that they will vanish in the presence of your highness: meanwhile I act; and this evening she will be at the chateau of Beauge.

"Your highness's respectful servant, "BRYAN DE MONSOREAU."

"Well, what do you say, Bussy?"

"I say that you are well served, monseigneur."

"You mean betrayed."

"Ah, true; I forgot the end."

"The wretch! he made me believe in the death woman——"

"Whom he stole from you; it is black enough."

"How did he manage?"

"He made the father believe you the ravisher, and offered himself to rescue the lady, presented himself at the chateau of Beauge with a letter from the Baron de Meridor, brought a boat to the windows, and carried away the prisoner; then shut her up in the house you know of, and by constantly working upon her fears, forced her to become his wife."

"Is it not infamous?"

"Only partly excused by your conduct, monseigneur."

"Ah! Bussy, you shall see how I will revenge myself!"

"Princes do not revenge themselves, they punish," said Bussy.

"How can I punish him?"

"By restoring happiness to Madame de Monsoreau."

"But can I?"

"Certainly."

"How?"

"By restoring her to liberty. The marriage was forced, therefore it is null."

"You are right."

"Get it set aside, then, and you will have acted like a gentleman and a prince."

"Ah, ah!" said the prince, "what warmth! you are interested in it, Bussy."

"I! not at all, except that I do not wish people to say that Louis de Clermont serves a perfidious prince and a man without honor."

"Well, you shall see. But how to do it?"

"Nothing more easy; make her father act."

"But he is buried in Anjou."

"Monseigneur, he is here in Paris."

"At your house?"

"No, with his daughter. Speak to him, monseigneur, that he may see in you, not what he does now, an enemy, but a protector—that he who now curses your name may bless you."

"And when can I see him?"

"As soon as you return Paris."

"Very well."

"It is agreed, then?"

"Yes."

"On your word as a gentleman?"

"On my faith as a prince."

"And when do you return?"

"This evening; will you accompany me?"

"No, I go first; where shall I meet your highness?"

"To-morrow; at the king's levee."

"I will be there, monseigneur."

Bussy did not lose a moment, and the distance that took the duke fifteen hours to accomplish, sleeping in his litter, the young man, who returned to Paris, his heart beating with joy and love, did in five, to console the baron and Diana the sooner.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

HOW CHICOT RETURNED TO THE LOUVRE, AND WAS RECEIVED BY THE KING HENRI III.

All was quiet at the Louvre, for the king, fatigued with his pilgrimage, had not yet risen, when two men presented themselves together at the gates.

"M. Chicot," cried the younger, "how are you this morning?"

"Ah, M. de Bussy."

"You come for the king's levee, monsieur?"

"And you also, I presume?"

"No; I come to see M. le Duc d'Anjou. You know I have not the honor of being a favorite of his majesty's."

"The reproach is for the king, and not for you."

"Do you come from far? I heard you were traveling."

"Yes, I was hunting. And you?"

"Yes, I have been in the provinces; and now will you be good enough to render me a service?"

"I shall be delighted."

"Well, you can penetrate into the Louvre, while I remain in the ante-chamber; will you tell the duke I am waiting for him?"

"Why not come in with me?"

"The king would not be pleased."

"Bah!"

"Diable! he has not accustomed me to his most gracious smiles."

"Henceforth, for some time, all that will change."

"Ah, ah! are you a necromancer, M. Chicot?"

"Sometimes; come, take courage, and come in with me."

They entered together; one went towards the apartments of the Duc d'Anjou, and the other to those of the king.

Henri was just awake, and had rung, and a crowd of valets and friends had rushed in; already the chicken broth and the spiced wine were served, when Chicot entered, and without saying a word, sat down to eat and drink.

"Par la mordieu!" cried the king, delighted, although he affected anger; "it is that knave of a Chicot, that fugitive, that vagabond!"

"What is the matter, my son?" said Chicot, placing himself on the immense seat, embroidered with fleur-de-lis, on which the king was seated.

"Here is my misfortune returned," said Henri; "for three weeks I have been so tranquil."

"Bah! you always grumble. One would think you were one of your own subjects. Let me hear, Henriquet, how you have governed this kingdom in my absence."

"Chicot!"

"Have you hung any of your curled gentlemen? Ah! pardon, M. Quelus, I did not see you."

"Chicot, I shall be angry," said the king; but he ended by laughing, as he always did; so he went on: "But what has become of you? Do you know that I have had you sought for in all the bad parts of Paris?"

"Did you search the Louvre?"

Just then M. de Monsoreau entered.

"Ah! it is you, monsieur," said the king; "when shall we hunt again?"

"When it shall please your majesty; I hear there are plenty of wild boars at St. Germain en Laye."

"The wild boar is dangerous," said Chicot; "King Charles IX., I remember, was nearly killed by one. And then spears are sharp also; is it not so, Henri? and do you know your chief huntsman must have met a wolf not long ago?"

"Why so?"

"Because he has caught the likeness; it is striking."

M. de Monsoreau grew pale, and turning to Chicot, said:

"M. Chicot, I am not used to jesters, having lived little at court, and I warn you that before my king I do not like to be humiliated, above all when I speak of my duties."

"Well, monsieur," said Chicot, "we are not like you, we court people laughed heartily at the last joke."

"And what was that?"

"Making you chief huntsman."

Monsoreau looked daggers at Chicot.

"Come, come," said Henri, "let us speak of something else."

"Yes, let us speak of the merits of Notre Dame de Chartres."

"Chicot, no impiety."

"I impious! it is you, on the contrary; there were two chemises accustomed to be together, and you separated them. Join them together and a miracle may happen."

This illusion to the estrangement of the king and queen made everyone laugh.

Monsoreau then whispered to Chicot, "Pray withdraw with me into that window, I wish to speak to you." When they were alone, he went on, "Now, M. Chicot, buffoon as you are, a gentleman forbids you; do you understand? forbids you to laugh at him, and to remember that others may finish what M. de Mayenne began."

"Ah! you wish me to become your creditor, as I am his, and to give you the same place in my gratitude."

"It seems to me that, among your creditors, you forget the principal."

"Indeed, I have generally a good memory. Who may it be?"

"M. Nicolas David."

"Oh! you are wrong; he is paid."

At this moment Bussy entered.

"Monsieur," said he to the count, "M. le Duc d'Anjou desires to speak with you."

"With me?"

"With you, monsieur."

"Do you accompany me?"

"No, I go first, to tell the duke you are coming," and he rapidly disappeared.

"Well?" said the duke.

"He is coming."

"And he suspects nothing?"

"Nothing; but if he did, what matter? is he not your creature? Does he seem to you less guilty than he did yesterday?"

"No, a hundred times more so."

"He has carried off, by treason, a noble young girl, and married her equally treasonably; either he must ask for the dissolution of the marriage himself, or you must do it for him."

"I have promised."

"I have your word?"

"You have."

"Remember that they know and are anxiously waiting."

"She shall be free, Bussy; I pledge my word."

Bussy kissed the hand which had signed so many false promises. As he did so, M. de Monsoreau entered, and Bussy went to the corridor, where were several other gentlemen. Here he had to wait as patiently as might be for the result of this interview, on which all his future happiness was at stake. He waited for some time, when suddenly the door of the duke's room opened, and the sound of M. de Monsoreau's voice made Bussy tremble, for it sounded almost joyful. Soon the voices approached, and Bussy could see M. de Monsoreau bowing and retiring, and he heard the duke say:

"Adieu, my friend."

"My friend!" murmured Bussy.

Then Monsoreau said, "Your highness agrees with me that publicity is best?"

"Yes, yes; an end to all mysteries."

"Then this evening I will present her to the king."

"Do so; I will prepare him."

"Gentlemen," then said Monsoreau, turning towards those in the corridor, "allow me to announce to you a secret; monseigneur permits me to make public my marriage with Mademoiselle Diana de Meridor, who has been my wife for more than a month, and whom I intend this evening to present to the court."

Bussy, who had been hidden behind a door, staggered, and almost fell at this unexpected blow. However, he darted a glance of contempt at the duke, towards whom he made a step, but he, in terror, shut his door, and Bussy heard the key turn in the lock. Feeling that if he stayed a moment longer he should betray before everyone the violence of his grief, he ran downstairs, got on his horse, and galloped to the Rue St. Antoine. The baron and Diana were eagerly waiting for him, and they saw him enter pale and trembling.

"Madame," cried he, "hate me, despise me; I believed I could do something and I can do nothing. Madame, you are now the recognized wife of M. de Monsoreau, and are to be presented this evening. I am a fool—a miserable dupe, or rather, as you said, M. le Baron, the duke is a coward and a villain."

And leaving the father and daughter overcome with grief, he rushed wildly away.



CHAPTER XXXV.

WHAT PASSED BETWEEN M. DE MONSOREAU AND THE DUKE.

It is time to explain the duke's sudden change of intention with regard to M. de Monsoreau. When he first received him, it was with dispositions entirely favorable to Bussy's wishes.

"Your highness sent for me?" said Monsoreau.

"You have nothing to fear, you who have served me so well, and are so much attached to me. Often you have told me of the plots against me, have aided my enterprises forgetting your own interests, and exposing your life."

"Your highness——"

"Even lately, in this last unlucky adventure——"

"What adventure, monseigneur?"

"This carrying off of Mademoiselle de Meridor—poor young creature!"

"Alas!" murmured Monsoreau.

"You pity her, do you not?" said the duke.

"Does not your highness?"

"I! you know how I have regretted this fatal caprice. And, indeed, it required all my friendship for you, and the remembrance of all your good services, to make me forget that without you I should not have carried off this young girl."

Monsoreau felt the blow. "Monseigneur," said he, "your natural goodness leads you to exaggerate, you no more caused the death of this young girl than I did."

"How so?"

"You did not intend to use violence to Mademoiselle de Meridor."

"Certainly not."

"Then the intention absolves you; it is a misfortune, nothing more."

"And besides," said the duke, looking at him, "death has buried all in eternal silence."

The tone of his voice and his look struck Monsoreau. "Monseigneur," said he, after a moment's pause, "shall I speak frankly to you?"

"Why should you hesitate?" said the prince, with astonishment mingled with hauteur.

"Indeed, I do not know, but your highness has not thought fit to be frank with me."

"Really!" cried the duke, with an angry laugh.

"Monseigneur, I know what your highness meant to say to me."

"Speak, then."

"Your highness wished to make me understand that perhaps Mademoiselle de Meridor was not dead, and that therefore those who believed themselves her murderers might be free from remorse."

"Oh, monsieur, you have taken your time before making this consoling reflection to me. You are a faithful servant, on my word; you saw me sad and afflicted, you heard me speak of the wretched dreams I had since the death of this woman, and you let me live thus, when even a doubt might have spared me so much suffering. How must I consider this conduct, monsieur?"

"Monseigneur, is your highness accusing me?"

"Traitor!" cried the duke, "you have deceived me; you have taken from me this woman whom I loved——"

Monsoreau turned pale, but did not lose his proud, calm look. "It is true," said he.

"True, knave!"

"Please to speak lower, monseigneur; your highness forgets, that you speak to a gentleman and an old servant."

The duke laughed.

"My excuse is," continued he, "that I loved Mademoiselle de Meridor ardently."

"I, also," replied Francois, with dignity.

"It is true, monseigneur; but she did not love you."

"And she loved you?"

"Perhaps."

"You lie! you know you lie! You used force as I did; only I, the master, failed, while you, the servant, succeeded by treason."

"Monseigneur, I loved her."

"What do I care?"

"Monseigneur, take care. I loved her, and I am not a servant. My wife is mine, and no one can take her from me, not even the king. I wished to have her, and I took her."

"You took her! Well! you shall give her up."

"You are wrong, monseigneur. And do not call," continue he, stopping him, "for if you call once—if you do me a public injury——"

"You shall give up this woman."

"Give her up! she is my wife before God——"

"If she is your wife before God, you shall give her up before men. I know all, and I will break this marriage, I tell you. To-morrow, Mademoiselle de Meridor shall be restored to her father; you shall set off into the exile I impose on you; you shall have sold your place; these are my conditions, and take care, or I will break you as I break this glass." And he threw down violently a crystal cup.

"I will not give up my wife, I will not give up my place, and I will remain in France," replied Monsoreau.

"You will not?"

"No, I will ask my pardon of the King of France—of the king anointed at the Abbey of St. Genevieve; and this new sovereign will not, I am sure, refuse the first request proffered to him." Francois grew deadly pale, and nearly fell.

"Well, well," stammered he, "this request, speak lower—I listen."

"I will speak humbly, as becomes the servant of your highness. A fatal love was the cause of all. Love is the most imperious of the passions. To make me forget that your highness had cast your eyes on Diana, I must have been no longer master of myself."

"It was a treason."

"Do not overwhelm me, monseigneur; I saw you rich, young and happy, the first Christian prince in the world. For you are so, and between you and supreme rank there is now only a shadow easy to dispel. I saw all the splendor of your future, and, comparing your proud position with my humble one, I said, 'Leave to the prince his brilliant prospects and splendid projects, scarcely will he miss the pearl that I steal from his royal crown.'"

"Comte! comte!"

"You pardon me, monseigneur, do you not?"

At this moment the duke raised his eyes, and saw Bussy's portrait on the wall. It seemed to exhort him to courage, and he said, "No, I cannot pardon you; it is not for myself that I hold out, it is because a father in mourning—a father unworthily deceived—cries out for his daughter; because a woman, forced to marry you, cries for vengeance against you; because, in a word, the first duty of a prince is justice."

"Monseigneur, if justice be a duty, gratitude is not less so; and a king should never forget those to whom he owes his crown. Now, monseigneur, you owe your crown to me."

"Monsoreau!" cried the duke, in terror.

"But I cling to those only who cling to me."

"I cannot—you are a gentleman, you know I cannot approve of what you have done. My dear count, this one more sacrifice; I will recompense you for it; I will give you all you ask."

"Then your highness loves her still!" cried Monsoreau, pale with jealousy.

"No, I swear I do not."

"Then, why should I? I am a gentleman; who can enter into the secrets of my private life?"

"But she does not love you."

"What matter?"

"Do this for me, Monsoreau."

"I cannot."

"Then——" commenced the duke, who was terribly perplexed.

"Reflect, sire."

"You will denounce me?"

"To the king dethroned for you, yes; for if my new king destroyed my honor and happiness, I would return to the old."

"It is infamous."

"True, sire; but I love enough to be infamous."

"It is cowardly."

"Yes, your majesty, but I love enough to be cowardly. Come, monseigneur, do something for the man who has served you so well."

"What do you want?"

"That you should pardon me."

"I will."

"That you should reconcile me with M. de Meridor."

"I will try."

"That you will sign my marriage contract with Mademoiselle de Meridor."

"Yes," said the prince, in a hoarse voice.

"And that you shall honor my wife with a smile when I shall present her to his majesty."

"Yes; is that all?"

"All, monseigneur."

"You have my word."

"And you shall keep the throne to which I have raised you.—There remains now, only," thought Monsoreau, "to find out who told the duke."



CHAPTER XXXVI.

CHICOT AND THE KING.

That same evening M. de Monsoreau presented his wife in the queen's circle. Henri, tired, had gone to bed, but after sleeping three or four hours, he woke, and feeling no longer sleepy, proceeded to the room where Chicot slept, which was the one formerly occupied by St. Luc; Chicot slept soundly, and the king called him three times before he woke. At last he opened his eyes and cried out, "What is it?"

"Chicot, my friend, it is I."

"You; who?"

"I, Henri."

"Decidedly, my son, the pheasants must have disagreed with you; I warned you at supper, but you would eat so much of them, as well as of those crabs."

"No; I scarcely tasted them."

"Then you are poisoned, perhaps. Ventre de biche! how pale you are!"

"It is my mask," said the king.

"Then you are not ill?"

"No."

"Then why wake me?"

"Because I am annoyed."

"Annoyed! if you wake a man at two o'clock in the morning, at least you should bring him a present. Have you anything for me?"

"No; I come to talk to you."

"That is not enough."

"Chicot, M. de Morvilliers came here last evening."

"What for?"

"To ask for an audience. What can he want to say to me, Chicot?"

"What! it is only to ask that, that you wake me?"

"Chicot, you know he occupies himself with the police."

"No; I did not know it."

"Do you doubt his watchfulness?"

"Yes, I do, and I have my reasons."

"What are they?"

"Will one suffice you?"

"Yes, if it be good."

"And you will leave me in peace afterwards?"

"Certainly."

"Well, one day—no, it was one evening, I beat you in the Rue Foidmentel; you had with you Quelus and Schomberg."

"You beat me?"

"Yes, all three of you."

"How, it was you! wretch!"

"I, myself," said Chicot, rubbing his hands, "do I not hit hard?"

"Wretch!"

"You confess, it was true?"

"You know it is, villain."

"Did you send for M. de Morvilliers the next day?"

"You know I did, for you were there when he came."

"And you told him the accident that had happened to one of your friends?"

"Yes."

"And you ordered him to find out the criminal?"

"Yes."

"Did he find him?"

"No."

"Well, then, go to bed, Henri; you see your police is bad." And, turning round, Chicot refused to say another word, and was soon snoring again.

The next day the council assembled. It consisted of Quelus, Maugiron, D'Epernon, and Schomberg. Chicot, seated at the head of the table, was making paper boats, and arranging them in a fleet. M. de Morvilliers was announced, and came in, looking grave.

"Am I," said he, "before your majesty's council?"

"Yes, before my best friends; speak freely."

"Well, sire, I have a terrible plot to denounce to your majesty."

"A plot!" cried all.

"Yes, your majesty."

"Oh, is it a Spanish plot?"

At this moment the Duc d'Anjou, who had been summoned to attend the council, entered.

"My brother," said Henri, "M. de Morvilliers comes to announce a plot to us."

The duke threw a suspicious glance round him. "Is it possible?" he said.

"Alas, yes, monseigneur," said M. de Morvilliers.

"Tell us all about it," said Chicot.

"Yes," stammered the duke, "tell us all about it, monsieur."

"I listen," said Henri.

"Sire, for some time I have been watching some malcontents, but they were shopkeepers, or junior clerks, a few monks and students."

"That is not much," said Chicot.

"I know that malcontents always make use either of war or of religion."

"Very sensible!" said the king.

"I put men on the watch, and at last I succeeded in persuading a man from the provosty of Paris to watch the preachers, who go about exciting the people against your majesty. They are prompted by a party hostile to your majesty, and this party I have studied, and now I know their hopes," added he, triumphantly. "I have men in my pay, greedy, it is true, who, for a good sum of money, promised to let me know of the first meeting of the conspirators."

"Oh! never mind money, but let us hear the aim of this conspiracy."

"Sire, they think of nothing less than a second St. Bartholomew."

"Against whom?"

"Against the Huguenots."

"What have you paid for your secret?" said Chicot.

"One hundred and sixty thousand livres."

Chicot turned to the king, saying, "If you like, for one thousand crowns, I will tell you all the secrets of M. de Morvilliers."

"Speak."

"It is simply the League, instituted ten years ago; M. de Morvilliers has discovered what every Parisian knows as well as his ave."

"Monsieur," interrupted the chancellor.

"I speak the truth, and I will prove it," cried Chicot.

"Tell me, then, their place of meeting."

"Firstly, the public streets; secondly, the public streets."

"M. Chicot is joking," said the chancellor; "tell me their rallying sign."

"They are dressed like Parisians, and shake their legs when they walk."

A burst of laughter followed this speech; then M. de Morvilliers said, "They have had one meeting-place which M. Chicot does not know of."

"Where?" asked the king.

"The Abbey of St. Genevieve."

"Impossible!" murmured the duke.

"It is true," said M. de Morvilliers, triumphantly.

"What did they decide?" asked the king.

"That the Leaguers should choose chiefs, that every one should arm, that every province should receive a deputy from the conspirators, and that all the Huguenots cherished by his majesty (that was their expression)——"

The king smiled.

"Should be massacred on a given day."

"Is that all?" said the duke.

"No, monseigneur."

"I should hope not," said Chicot; "if the king got only that for one hundred and sixty thousand livres, it would be a shame."

"There are chiefs——"

The Duc d'Anjou could not repress a start.

"What!" cried Chicot, "a conspiracy that has chiefs! how wonderful! But we ought to have more than that for one hundred and sixty thousand livres."

"Their names?" asked the king.

"Firstly, a fanatic preacher; I gave ten thousand livres for his name."

"Very well."

"A monk called Gorenflot."

"Poor devil!" said Chicot.

"Gorenflot?" said the king, writing down the name; "afterwards——"

"Oh!" said the chancellor, with hesitation, "that is all." And he looked round as if to say, "If your majesty were alone, you should hear more."

"Speak, chancellor," said the king, "I have none but friends here."

"Oh! sire, I hesitate to pronounce such powerful names."

"Are they more powerful than I am?" cried the king.

"No, sire; but one does not tell secrets in public."

"Monsieur," said the Duc d'Anjou, "we will retire."

The king signed to the chancellor to approach him, and to the duke to remain. M. de Morvilliers had just bent over the king to whisper his communication, when a great clamor was heard in the court of the Louvre. The king jumped up, but Chicot, running to the window, called out, "It is M. de Guise entering the Louvre."

"The Duc de Guise," stammered the Duc d'Anjou.

"How strange that he should be in Paris," said the king, reading the truth in M. de Morvilliers' look. "Was it of him you were about to speak?" he asked.

"Yes, sire; he presided over the meeting."

"And the others?"

"I know no more."

"You need not write that name on your tablets! you will not forget it," whispered Chicot.

The Duc de Guise advanced, smiling, to see the king.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

WHAT M. DE GUISE CAME TO DO AT THE LOUVRE.

Behind M. de Guise there entered a great number of officers, courtiers, and gentlemen, and behind them a concourse of the people; an escort less brilliant, but more formidable, and it was their cries that had resounded as the duke entered the Louvre.

"Ah! it is you, my cousin," said the king; "what a noise you bring with you! Did I not hear the trumpets sound?"

"Sire, the trumpets sound in Paris only for the king, and in campaigns for the general. Here the trumpets would make too much noise for a subject; there they do not make enough for a prince."

Henri bit his lips. "Have you arrived from the siege of La Charite only to-day?"

"Only to-day, sire," replied the duke, with a heightened color.

"Ma foi! your visit is a great honor to us."

"Your majesty jests, no doubt. How can my visit honor him from whom all honor comes?"

"I mean, M. de Guise," replied Henri, "that every good Catholic is in the habit, on returning from a campaign, to visit God first in one of his temple's—the king only comes second. 'Honor God, serve the king,' you know, my cousin."

The heightened color of the duke became now still more distinct; and the king, happening to turn towards his brother, saw with astonishment, that he was as pale as the duke was red. He was struck by this emotion in each, but he said:

"At all events, duke, nothing equals my joy to see that you have escaped all the dangers of war, although you sought them, I was told in the rashest manner; but danger knows you and flies you."

The duke bowed.

"But I must beg you, my cousin, not to be so ambitious of mortal perils, for you put to shame sluggards like us, who sleep, eat, and invent new prayers."

"Yes, sire," replied the duke, "we know you to be a pious prince, and that no pleasure can make you forget the glory of God and the interests of the Church. That is why we have come with so much confidence to your majesty."

"With confidence! Do you not always come to me with confidence, my cousin?"

"Sire, the confidence of which I speak refers to the proposition I am about to make to you."

"You have a proposition to make to me! Well, speak, as you say, with confidence. What have you to propose?"

"The execution of one of the most beautiful ideas which has been originated since the Crusades."

"Continue, duke."

"Sire, the title of most Christian king is not a vain one; it makes an ardent zeal for religion incumbent on its possessor."

"Is the Church menaced by the Saracens once more?"

"Sire, the great concourse of people who followed me, blessing my name, honored me with this reception only because of my zeal to defend the Church. I have already had the honor of speaking to your majesty of an alliance between all true Catholics."

"Yes, yes," said Chicot, "the League; ventre de biche, Henri, the League. By St. Bartholomew! how can you forget so splendid an idea, my son?"

The duke cast a disdainful glance on Chicot, while d'Anjou, who stood by, as pale as death, tried by signs, to make the duke stop.

"Look at your brother, Henri," whispered Chicot.

"Sire," continued the Duc de Guise, "the Catholics have indeed called this association the Holy League, and its aim is to fortify the throne against the Huguenots, its mortal enemies; but to form an association is not enough, and in a kingdom like France, several millions of men cannot assemble without the consent of the king."

"Several millions!" cried Henri, almost with terror.

"Several millions!" repeated Chicot; "a small number of malcontents, which may bring forth pretty results."

"Sire," cried the duke, "I am astonished that your majesty allows me to be interrupted so often, when I am speaking on serious matters."

"Quite right," said Chicot; "silence there."

"Several millions!" repeated the king; "and against these millions, how many Huguenots are there in my kingdom?"

"Four," said Chicot.

This new sally made the king and his friends laugh, but the duke frowned, and his gentlemen murmured loudly.

Henri, becoming once more serious, said, "Well, duke, what do you wish? To the point."

"I wish, sire—for your popularity is dearer to me than my own—that your majesty should be superior to us in your zeal for religion—I wish you to choose a chief for the League."

"Well!" said the king, to those who surrounded him, "what do you think of it, my friends?"

Chicot, without saying a word, drew out a lion's skin from a corner, and threw himself on it.

"What are you doing, Chicot?" asked the king.

"Sire, they say that night brings good counsel; that must be because of sleep; therefore I am going to sleep, and to-morrow I will reply to my cousin Guise."

The duke cast a furious glance on Chicot, who replied by a loud snore.

"Well, sire!" said the duke, "what does your majesty say?"

"I think that, as usual, you are in the right, my cousin; convoke, then, your principal leaguers, come at their head, and I will choose the chief."

"When, sire?"

"To-morrow."

The Duc de Guise then took leave, and the Duc d'Anjou was about to do the same, when the king said,—

"Stay, my brother, I wish to speak to you."



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

CASTOR AND POLLUX.

The king dismissed all his favorites, and remained with his brother. The duke, who had managed to preserve a tolerably composed countenance throughout, believed himself unsuspected, and remained without fear.

"My brother," said Henri, after assuring himself that, with the exception of Chicot, no one remained in the room, "do you know that I am a very happy prince?"

"Sire, if your majesty be really happy, it is a recompense from Heaven for your merits."

"Yes, happy," continued the king, "for if great ideas do not come to me, they do to my subjects. It is a great idea which has occurred to my cousin Guise."

The duke make a sign of assent, and Chicot opened his eyes to watch the king's face.

"Indeed," continued Henri, "to unite under one banner all the Catholics, to arm all France on this pretext from Calais to Languedoc, from Bretagne to Burgundy, so that I shall always have an army ready to march against England, Holland, or Spain, without alarming any of them—do you know, Francois, it is a magnificent idea?"

"Is it not, sire?" said the duke, delighted.

"Yes, I confess I feel tempted to reward largely the author of this fine project."

Chicot opened his eyes, but he shut them again, for he had seen on the face of the king one of his almost imperceptible smiles, and he was satisfied.

"Yes," continued Henri, "I repeat such a project merits recompense, and I will do what I can for the author of this good work, for the work is begun—is it not, my brother?"

The duke confessed that it was.

"Better and better; my subjects not only conceive these good ideas, but, in their anxiety to be of use to me, hasten to put them in execution. But I ask you, my dear Francois, if it be really to the Duc de Guise that I am indebted for this royal thought?"

"No, sire, it occurred to the Cardinal de Lorraine twenty years ago, only the St. Bartholomew rendered it needless for the time."

"Ah! what a pity he is dead; but," continued Henri, with that air of frankness which made him the first comedian of the day, "his nephew has inherited it, and brought it to bear. What can I do for him?"

"Sire," said Francois, completely duped by his brother, "you exaggerate his merits. He has, as I say, but inherited the idea, and another man has given him great help in developing it."

"His brother the cardinal?"

"Doubtless he has been occupied with it, but I do not mean him."

"Mayenne, then?"

"Oh! sire, you do him too much honor."

"True, how could any good ideas come to such a butcher? But to whom, then, am I to be grateful for aid to my cousin Guise?"

"To me, sire."

"To you!" cried Henri, as if in astonishment. "How! when I saw all the world unchained against me, the preachers against my vices, the poets against my weaknesses, while my friends laughed at my powerlessness, and my situation was so harassing, that it gave me gray hairs every day: such an idea came to you, Francois—to you, whom I confess, for man is feeble and kings are blind, I did not always believe to be my friend! Ah! Francois, how guilty I have been." And Henri, moved even to tears, held out his hand to his brother.

Chicot opened his eyes again.

"Oh!" continued Henri, "the idea is triumphant. Not being able to raise troops without raising an outcry, scarcely to walk, sleep, or love, without exciting ridicule, this idea gives me at once an army, money, friends, and repose. But my cousin spake of a chief?"

"Yes, doubtless."

"This chief, you understand, Francois, cannot be one of my favorites; none of them has at once the head and the heart necessary for so important a post. Quelus is brave, but is occupied only by his amours. Maugiron is also brave, but he thinks only of his toilette. Schomberg also, but he is not clever. D'Epernon is a valiant man, but he is a hypocrite, whom I could not trust, although I am friendly to him. But you know, Francois, that one of the heaviest taxes on a king is the necessity of dissimulation; therefore, when I can speak freely from my heart, as I do now, I breathe. Well, then, if my cousin Guise originated this idea, to the development of which you have assisted, the execution of it belongs to him."

"What do you say, sire?" said Francois, uneasily.

"I say, that to direct such a movement we must have a prince of high rank."

"Sire, take care."

"A good captain and a skilful negotiator."

"The last particularly."

"Well, is not M. de Guise all this?"

"My brother, he is very powerful already."

"Yes, doubtless; but his power makes my strength."

"He holds already the army and the bourgeois; the cardinal holds the Church, and Mayenne is their instrument; it is a great deal of power to be concentrated in one family."

"It is true, Francois; I had thought of that."

"If the Guises were French princes, their interest would be to aggrandize France."

"Yes, but they are Lorraines."

"Of a house always rival to yours."

"Yes, Francois; you have touched the sore. I did not think you so good a politician. Yes, there does not pass a day but one or other of these Guises, either by address or by force, carries away from me some particle of my power. Ah! Francois, if we had but had this explanation sooner, if I had been able to read your heart as I do now, certain of support in you, I might have resisted better, but now it is too late."

"Why so?"

"Because all combats fatigue me; therefore I must make him chief of the League."

"You will be wrong, brother."

"But who could I name, Francois? who would accept this perilous post? Yes, perilous; for do you not see that he intended me to appoint him chief, and that, should I name any one else to the post, he would treat him as an enemy?"

"Name some one so powerful that, supported by you, he need not fear all the three Lorraine princes together."

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