"Ah, my good brother, I know no such person."
"Look round you, brother."
"I know no one but you and Chicot who are really my friends."
Henri looked at the duke as if a veil had fallen from his eyes. "Surely you would never consent, brother! It is not you who could teach all these bourgeois their exercise, who could look over the discourses of the preachers, who, in case of battle, would play the butcher in the streets of Paris; for all this, one must be triple, like the duke, and have a right arm called Charles and a left called Louis. What! you would like all this? You, the first gentleman of our court! Mort de ma vie! how people change with the age!"
"Perhaps I would not do it for myself, brother, but I would do it for you."
"Excellent brother!" said Henri, wiping away a tear which never existed.
"Then," said the duke, "it would not displease you for me to assume this post?"
"Displease me! On the contrary, it would charm me."
Francois trembled with joy. "Oh! if your majesty thinks me worthy of this confidence."
"Confidence! When you are the chief, what have I to fear? The League itself? That cannot be dangerous can it, Francois?"
"No, for then you would not be chief, or at least, when you are chief, there will be no danger. But, Francois, the duke is doubtless certain of this appointment, and he will not lightly give way."
"Sire, you grant me the command?"
"And you wish me to have it?"
"Particularly; but I dare not too much displease M. de Guise."
"Oh, make yourself easy, sire; if that be the only obstacle, I pledge myself to arrange it."
"Are you going to him? That will be doing him too much honor."
"No, sire; he is waiting for me."
"In my room."
"Your room! I heard the cries of the people as he left the Louvre."
"Yes; but after going out at the great door he came back by the postern. The king had the right to the first visit, but I to the second."
"Ah, brother, I thank you for keeping up our prerogative, which I had the weakness so often to abandon. Go, then, Francois, and do your best."
Francois bent down to kiss the king's hand, but he, opening his arms, gave him a warm embrace, and then the duke left the room to go to his interview with the Duc de Guise. The king, seeing his brother gone, gave an angry growl, and rapidly made his way through the secret corridor, until he reached a hiding-place whence he could distinctly hear the conversation between the two dukes.
"Ventre de biche!" cried Chicot, starting up, "how touching these family scenes are! For an instant I believed myself in Olympus, assisting at the reunion of Castor and Pollux after six months' separation."
IN WHICH IT IS PROVED THAT LISTENING IS THE BEST WAY TO HEAR.
The Duc d'Anjou was well aware that there were few rooms in the Louvre which were not built so that what was said in them could be heard from the outside; but, completely seduced by his brother's manner, he forgot to take any precautions.
"Why, monseigneur," said the Duc de Guise. "how pale you are!"
"Yes, to me."
"The king saw nothing?"
"I think not; but he retained you?"
"And what did he say, monseigneur?"
"He approves the idea, but the more gigantic it appears, the more he hesitates to place a man like you at the head."
"Then we are likely to fail."
"I fear so, my dear duke; the League seems likely to fail."
"Before it begins."
At this moment Henri, hearing a noise, turned and saw Chicot by his side, listening also. "You followed me, Knave!" said he.
"Hush, my son," said Chicot; "you prevent me from hearing."
"Monseigneur," said the Duc de Guise, "it seems to me that in this case the king would have refused at once. Does he wish to dispossess me?"
"I believe so."
"Then he would ruin the enterprise?"
"Yes; but I aided you with all my power."
"In this—the king has left me almost master, to kill or reanimate the League."
"How so?" cried the duke, with sparkling eyes.
"Why, if, instead of dissolving the League, he named me chief——"
"Ah!" cried the duke, while the blood mounted to his face.
"Ah! the dogs are going to fight over their bones," said Chicot; but to his surprise, and the king's, the Duc de Guise suddenly became calm, and exclaimed, in an almost joyful tone:
"You are an adroit politician, monseigneur, if you did this."
"Yes, I did; but I would not conclude anything without speaking to you."
"Why so, monseigneur?"
"Because I did not know what it would lead us to."
"Well, I will tell you, monseigneur, not to what it will lead us—that God alone knows—but how it will serve us. The League is a second army, and as I hold the first, and my brother the Church, nothing can resist us as long as we are united."
"Without counting," said the Duc d'Anjou, "that I am heir presumptive to the throne."
"True, but still calculate your bad chances."
"I have done so a hundred times."
"There is, first, the King of Navarre."
"Oh! I do not mind him; he is entirely occupied by his amours with La Fosseuse."
"He, monseigneur, will dispute every inch with you; he watches you and your brother; he hungers for the throne. If any accident should happen to your brother, see if he will not be here with a bound from Pau to Paris."
"An accident to my brother," repeated Francois.
"Listen, Henri," said Chicot.
"Yes, monseigneur," said the Duc de Guise, "an accident. Accidents are not rare in your family; you know that, as well as I do. One prince is in good health, and all at once he falls ill of a lingering malady; another is counting on long years, when, perhaps, he has but a few hours to live."
"Do you hear, Henri?" said Chicot, taking the hand of the king, who shuddered at what he heard.
"Yes, it is true," said the Duc d'Anjou, "the princes of my house are born under fatal influences; but my brother Henri is, thank God, strong and well; he supported formerly the fatigues of war, and now that his life is nothing but recreation—"
"Yes; but, monseigneur, remember one thing; these recreations are not always without danger. How did your father, Henri II., die, for example? He, who also had happily escaped the dangers of war. The wound by M. de Montgomery's lance was an accident. Then your poor brother, Francois, one would hardly call a pain in the ears an accident, and yet it was one; at least, I have often heard it said that this mortal malady was poured into his ear by some one well known."
"Duke!" murmured Francois, reddening.
"Yes, monseigneur; the name of king has long brought misfortune with it. Look at Antoine de Bourbon, who died from a spot in the shoulder. Then there was Jeanne d'Albret, the mother of the Bearnais, who died from smelling a pair of perfumed gloves, an accident very unexpected although there were people who had great interest in this death. Then Charles IX., who died neither by the eye, the ear, nor the shoulder, but by the mouth——"
"What do you say?" cried Francois, starting back.
"Yes, monseigneur, by the mouth. Those hunting books are very dangerous, of which the pages stick together, and can only be opened by wetting the finger constantly."
"Duke! duke! I believe you invent crimes."
"Crimes! who speaks of crimes? I speak of accidents. Was it not also an accident that happened to Charles IX. at the chase? You know what chase I mean; that of the boar, where, intending to kill the wild boar, which had turned on your brother, you, who never before had missed your aim, did so then, and the king would have been killed, as he had fallen from his horse, had not Henri of Navarre slain the animal which you had missed."
"But," said the Duc d'Anjou, trying to recover himself, "what interest could I have had in the death of Charles IX., when the next king would be Henri III.?"
"Oh! monseigneur, there was already one throne vacant, that of Poland. The death of Charles IX. would have left another, that of France; and even the kingdom of Poland might not have been despised. Besides, the death of Charles would have brought you a degree nearer the throne, and the next accident would have benefited you."
"What do you conclude from all this, duke?" said the Duc d'Anjou.
"Monseigneur, I conclude that each king has his accident, and that you are the inevitable accident of Henri III., particularly if you are chief of the League."
"Then I am to accept?"
"Oh! I beg you to do so."
"Oh! be easy; my men are ready, and to-night Paris will be curious."
"What are they going to do in Paris to-night?" asked Henri.
"Oh! how foolish you are, my friend; to-night they sign the League publicly."
"It is well," said the Duc d'Anjou, "till this evening then."
"Yes, till this evening," said Henri.
"How!" said Chicot, "you will not risk going into the streets to-night?"
"Yes, I shall."
"You are wrong, Henri; remember the accidents."
"Oh! I shall be well accompanied; will you come with me?"
"What! do you take me for a Huguenot? I shall go and sign the League ten times. However, Henri, you have a great advantage over your predecessors, in being warned, for you know your brother, do you not?"
"Yes, and, mordieu! before long he shall find it out."
THE EVENING OF THE LEAGUE.
Paris presented a fine sight, as through its then narrow streets thousands of people pressed towards the same point, for at eight o'clock in the evening, M. le Duc de Guise was to receive the signatures of the bourgeois to the League. A crowd of citizens, dressed in their best clothes, as for a fete, but fully armed, directed their steps towards the churches. What added to the noise and confusion was that large numbers of women, disdaining to stay at home on such a great day, had followed their husbands, and many had brought with them a whole batch of children. It was in the Rue de l'Arbre Sec that the crowd was the thickest. The streets were literally choked, and the crowd pressed tumultuously towards a bright light suspended below the sign of the Belle Etoile. On the threshold a man, with a cotton cap on his head and a naked sword in one hand and a register in the other, was crying out, "Come come, brave Catholics, enter the hotel of the Belle Etoile, where you will find good wine; come, to-night the good will be separated from the bad, and to-morrow morning the wheat will be known from the tares; come, gentlemen, you who can write, come and sign;—you who cannot write, come and tell your names to me, La Huriere; vive la messe!" A tall man elbowed his way through the crowd, and in letters half an inch high, wrote his name, 'Chicot.' Then, turning to La Huriere, he asked if he had not another register to sign. La Huriere did not understand raillery, and answered angrily. Chicot retorted, and a quarrel seemed approaching, when Chicot, feeling some one touch his arm, turned, and saw the king disguised as a simple bourgeois, and accompanied by Quelus and Maugiron, also disguised, and carrying an arquebuse on their shoulders.
"What!" cried the king, "good Catholics disputing among themselves; par la mordieu, it is a bad example."
"Do not mix yourself with what does not concern you," replied Chicot, without seeming to recognize him. But a new influx of the crowd distracted the attention of La Huriere, and separated the king and his companions from the hotel.
"Why are you here, sire?" said Chicot.
"Do you think I have anything to fear?"
"Eh! mon Dieu! in a crowd like this it is so easy for one man to put a knife into his neighbor, and who just utters an oath and gives up the ghost."
"Have I been seen?"
"I think not; but you will be if you stay longer. Go back to the Louvre, sire."
"Oh! oh! what is this new outcry, and what are the people running for?"
Chicot looked, but could at first see nothing but a mass of people crying, howling, and pushing. At last the mass opened, and a monk, mounted on a donkey, appeared. The monk spoke and gesticulated, and the ass brayed.
"Ventre de biche!" cried Chicot, "listen to the preacher."
"A preacher on a donkey!" cried Quelus.
"He is Silenus," said Maugiron.
"Which is the preacher?" said the king, "for they speak both at once."
"The underneath one is the most eloquent," said Chicot, "but the one at the top speaks the best French; listen, Henri."
"My brethren," said the monk, "Paris is a superb city; Paris is the pride of France, and the Parisians a fine people." Then he began to sing, but the ass mingled his accompaniment so loudly that he was obliged to stop. The crowd burst out laughing.
"Hold your tongue, Panurge, hold your tongue," cried the monk, "you shall speak after, but let me speak first."
The ass was quiet.
"My brothers," continued the preacher, "the earth is a valley of grief, where man often pan quench his thirst only with his tears."
"He is drunk," said the king.
"I should think so."
"I, who speak to you," continued the monk, "I am returning from exile like the Hebrews of old, and for eight days Panurge and I have been living on alms and privations."
"Who is Panurge?" asked the king.
"The superior of his convent, probably but let me listen."
"Who made me endure this? It was Herod; you know what Herod I speak of. I and Panurge have come from Villeneuve-le-Roi, in three days, to assist at this great solemnity; now we see, but we do not understand. What is passing, my brothers? Is it to-day that they depose Herod? Is it to-day that they put brother Henri in a convent?—Gentlemen," continued he, "I left Paris with two friends; Panurge, who is my ass, and Chicot, who is his majesty's jester. Can you tell me what has become of my friend Chicot?"
Chicot made a grimace.
"Oh," said the king, "he is your friend." Quelus and Maugiron burst out laughing. "He is handsome and respectable," continued the king.
"It is Gorenflot, of whom M. de Morvilliers spoke to you."
"The incendiary of St. Genevieve?"
"Then I will have him hanged!"
"He has no neck."
"My brothers," continued Gorenflot: "I am a true martyr, and it is my cause that they defend at this moment or, rather, that of all good Catholics. You do not know what is passing in the provinces, we have been obliged at Lyons to kill a Huguenot who preached revolt. While one of them remains in France, there will be no tranquillity for us. Let us exterminate them. To arms! to arms!"
Several voices repeated, "To arms!"
"Par la mordieu!" said the king, "make this fellow hold his tongue, or he will make a second St. Bartholomew!"
"Wait," said Chicot, and with his stick he struck Gorenflot with all his force on the shoulders.
"Murder!" cried the monk.
"It is you!" cried Chicot.
"Help me, M. Chicot, help me! The enemies of the faith wish to assassinate me, but I will not die without making my voice heard. Death to the Huguenots!"
"Will you hold your tongue?" cried Chicot. But at this moment a second blow fell on the shoulders of the monk with such force that he cried out with real pain. Chicot, astonished, looked round him, but saw nothing but the stick. The blow had been given by a man who had immediately disappeared in the crowd after administering this punishment.
"Who the devil could it have been?" thought Chicot, and he began to run after the man, who was gliding away, followed by only one companion.
THE RUE DE LA FERRONNERIE.
Chicot had good legs, and he would have made the best use of them to join the man who had beaten Gorenflot if he had not imagined that there might be danger in trying to recognize a man who so evidently wished to avoid it. He thought the best way not to seem to watch them was to pass them; so he ran on, and passed them at the corner of the Rue Tirechappe, and then hid himself at the end of the Rue des Bourdonnais. The two men went on, their hats slouched over their eyes, and their cloaks drawn up over their faces, with a quick and military step, until they reached the Rue de la Ferronnerie. There they stopped and looked round them. Chicot, who was still ahead, saw in the middle of the street, before a house so old that it looked falling to pieces, a litter, attached to which were two horses. The driver had fallen asleep, while a woman, apparently unquiet, was looking anxiously through the blind. Chicot hid himself behind a large atone wall, which served as stalls for the vegetable sellers on the days when the market was held in this street, and watched. Scarcely was he hidden, when he saw the two men approach the litter, one of whom, on seeing the driver asleep, uttered an impatient exclamation, while the other pushed him to awaken him. "Oh, they are compatriots!" thought Chicot. The lady now leaned out of the window, and Chicot saw that she was young, very pale, but very beautiful. The two men approached the litter, and the taller of the two took in both of his the little white hand which was stretched out to him.
"Well, ma mie," asked he, "how are you?"
"I have been very anxious," replied she.
"Why the devil did you bring madame to Paris?" said the other man rudely.
"Ma foi! it is a malediction that you must always have a petticoat tacked to your doublet!"
"Ah, dear Agrippa," replied the man who had spoken first, "it is so great a grief to part from one you love."
"On my soul, you make me swear to hear you talk! Did you come to Paris to make love? It seems to me that Bearn is large enough for your sentimental promenades, without continuing them in this Babylon, where you have nearly got us killed twenty times to-day. Go home, if you wish to make love, but, here, keep to your political intrigues, my master."
"Let him scold, ma mie, and never mind him; I think he would be ill if he did not."
"But, at least, ventre St. Gris, as you say, get into the litter, and say your sweet things to madame; you will run less risk of being recognized there than in the open street."
"You are right, Agrippa. Give me a place, ma mie, if you permit me to sit by your side."
"Permit, sire; I desire it ardently," replied the lady.
"Sire!" murmured Chicot, who, carried away by an impulse, tried to raise his head, and knocked it against the stone wall. Meanwhile the happy lover profited by the permission given, and seated himself in the litter.
"Oh! how happy I am," he cried, without attending in the least to the impatience of his friend—"ventre St. Gris, this is a good day. Here are my good Parisians, who execrate me with all their souls, and would kill me if they could, working to smooth my way to the throne, and I have in my arms the woman I love. Where are we, D'Aubigne? when I am king, I will erect here a statue to the genius of the Bearnais."
"The Bearn——" began Chicot, but he stopped, for he had given his head a second bump.
"We are in the Rue de la Ferronnerie, sire," said D'Aubigne, "and it does not smell nice."
"Get in then, Agrippa, and we will go on."
"Ma foi, no, I will follow behind; I should annoy you, and, what is worse, you would annoy me."
"Shut the door then, bear of Bearn, and do as you like." Then to the coachman he said, "Lavarrenne, you know where."
The litter went slowly away, followed by D'Aubigne.
"Let me see," said Chicot, "must I tell Henri what I have seen? Why should I? two men and a woman, who hide themselves; it would be cowardly. I will not tell; that I know it myself is the important point, for is it not I who reign? His love was very pretty, but he loves too often, this dear Henri of Navarre. A year ago it was Madame de Sauve, and I suppose this was La Fosseuse. However, I love the Bearnais, for I believe some day he will do an ill turn to those dear Guises. Well! I have seen everyone to-day but the Duc d'Anjou; he alone is wanting to my list of princes. Where can my Francois III. be? Ventre de biche, I must look for the worthy monarch."
Chicot was not the only person who was seeking for the Duc d'Anjou, and unquiet at his absence. The Guises had also sought for him on all sides, but they were not more lucky than Chicot. M. d'Anjou was not the man to risk himself imprudently, and we shall see afterwards what precautions had kept him from his friends. Once Chicot thought he had found him in the Rue Bethisy; a numerous group was standing at the door of a wine-merchant; and in this group Chicot recognized M. de Monsoreau and M. de Guise, and fancied that the Duc d'Anjou could not be far off. But he was wrong. MM. de Monsoreau and Guise were occupied in exciting still more an orator in his stammering eloquence. This orator was Gorenflot, recounting his journey to Lyons, and his duel in an inn with a dreadful Huguenot. M. de Guise was listening intently, for he began to fancy it had something to do with the silence of Nicolas David. Chicot was terrified; he felt sure that in another moment Gorenflot would pronounce his name, which would throw a fatal light on the mystery. Chicot in an instant cut the bridles of some of the horses that were fastened up, and giving them each a violent blow, sent them galloping among the crowd, which opened, and began to disperse in different directions. Chicot passed quickly through the groups, and approaching Gorenflot, took Panurge by the bridle and turned him round. The Duc de Guise was already separated from them by the rush of the people, and Chicot led off Gorenflot to a kind of cul-de-sac by the church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois.
"Ah! drunkard!" said he to him, "ah! traitor! you will then always prefer a bottle of wine to your friend.'
"Ah! M. Chicot," stammered the monk.
"What! I feed you, wretch, I give you drink, I fill your pockets and your stomach, and you betray me."
"Ah! M. Chicot!"
"You tell my secrets, wretch."
"Hold your tongue; you are but a sycophant, and deserve punishment."
And the monk, vigorous and strong, powerful as a bull, but overcome by wine and repentance, remained without defending himself in the hands of Chicot, who shook him like a balloon full of air.
"A punishment to me, to your friend, dear M. Chicot!"
"Yes, to you," said Chicot, striking him over the shoulders with his stick.
"Ah! if I were but fasting."
"You would beat me, I suppose; I, your friend."
"My friend! and you treat me thus!"
"He who loves well chastises well," said Chicot, redoubling his proofs of friendship. "Now," said he, "go and sleep at the Corne d'Abondance."
"I can no longer see my way," cried the monk, from whose eyes tears were falling.
"Ah!" said Chicot, "if you wept for the wine you have drunk! However, I will guide you."
And taking the ass by the bridle, he led him to the hotel, where two men assisted Gorenflot to dismount, and led him up to the room which our readers already know.
"It is done," said the host, returning.
"He is in bed?"
"Yes, and snoring."
"Very well. But as he will awake some day or other, remember that I do not wish that he should know how he came here; indeed, it will be better that he should not know that he has been out since the famous night when he made such a noise in the convent, and that he should believe that all that has passed since is a dream."
"Very well, M. Chicot; but what has happened to the poor monk?"
"A great misfortune. It appears that at Lyons he quarreled with an agent of M. de Mayenne's and killed him."
"Oh! mon Dieu!"
"So that M. de Mayenne has sworn that he will have him broken on the wheel."
"Make yourself easy, monsieur; he shall not go out from here on any pretext."
"Good. And now," said Chicot, as he went away, "I must find the Duc d'Anjou."
THE PRINCE AND THE FRIEND.
We may remember that the Duc de Guise had invited the Duc d'Anjou to meet him in the streets of Paris that evening. However, he determined not to go out of his palace unless he was well accompanied; therefore the duke went to seek his sword, which was Bussy d'Amboise. For the duke to make up his mind to this step he must have been very much afraid; for since his deception with regard to M. de Monsoreau he had not seen Bussy, and stood in great dread of him. Bussy, like all fine natures, felt sorrow more vividly than pleasure; for it is rare that a man intrepid in danger, cold and calm in the face of fire and sword, does not give way to grief more easily than a coward. Those from whom a woman can draw tears most easily are those most to be feared by other men. Bussy had seen Diana received at court as Comtesse de Monsoreau, and as such admitted by the queen into the circle of her maids of honor; he had seen a thousand curious eyes fixed on her unrivaled beauty. During the whole evening he had fastened his ardent gaze on her, who never raised her eyes to him, and he, unjust, like every man in love, never thought how she must have been suffering from not daring to meet his sympathizing glance.
"Oh," said he to himself, seeing that he waited uselessly for a look, "women have skill and audacity only when they want to deceive a guardian, a husband, or a mother; they are awkward and cowardly when they have simply a debt of gratitude to pay, they fear so much to seem to love—they attach so exaggerated a value to their least favor, that they do not mind breaking their lover's heart, if such be their humor. Diana might have said to me frankly, 'I thank you for what you have done for me, but I do not love you.' The blow would have killed or cured me. But no; she prefers letting me love her hopelessly; but she has gained nothing by it, for I no longer love her, I despise her."
And he went away with rage in his heart.
"I am mad," thought he, "to torment myself about a person who disdains me. But why does she disdain me, or for whom? Not, surely, for that long, livid-looking skeleton, who, always by her side, covers her incessantly with his jealous glances. If I wished it, in a quarter of an hour I could hold him mute and cold under my knee with ten inches of steel in his heart, and if I cannot be loved, I could at least be terrible and hated. Oh, her hatred! Rather than her indifference. Yes, but to act thus would be to do what a Quelus or a Maugiron would do if they knew how to love. Better to resemble that hero of Plutarch whom I so much admired, the young Antiochus, dying of love and never avowing it, nor uttering a complaint. Am I not called the brave Bussy?"
He went home, and threw himself on a chair. How long he remained there he did not know when a man approached him.
"M. le Comte," said he, "you are in a fever."
"Ah, is it you, Remy?"
"Yes, count. Go to bed,"
Bussy obeyed, and all the next day Remy watched by him, with refreshing drinks for his body and kind words for his mind. But on the day after Bussy missed him. "Poor lad!" thought he, "he was tired and wanted air; and then doubtless Gertrude expected him; she is but a femme de chambre, but she loves, and a femme de chambre who loves is better than a queen who does not."
The day passed, and Remy did not return. Bussy was angry and impatient. "Oh!" cried he, "I, who still believed in gratitude and friendship, will henceforth believe in nothing." Towards evening he heard voices in his ante-chamber, and a servant entered, saying, "It is Monseigneur the Duc d'Anjou."
"Let him enter," said Bussy, frowning.
The duke, on entering the room, which was without lights, said, "It is too dark here, Bussy."
Bussy did not answer; disgust closed his mouth. "Are you really ill," said the duke, "that you do not answer?"
"I am very ill."
"Then that is why I have not seen you for two days?"
The prince, piqued at these short answers, began to examine the room.
"You seem to me well lodged, Bussy," said he.
Bussy did not reply.
"Bussy must be very ill," said the duke to an attendant who stood by, "why was not Miron called? The king's doctor is not too good for Bussy." When the servant was gone, "Are you in grief, Bussy?" said the duke.
"I do not know."
The duke approached, becoming more and more gracious as he was rebuffed. "Come, speak frankly, Bussy," said he.
"What am I to say, monseigneur?"
"You are angry with me?"
"I! for what? besides, it is no use to be angry with princes." The duke was silent.
"But," said Bussy, "we are losing time in preambles; to the point, monseigneur. You have need of me, I suppose?"
"Ah, M. de Bussy!"
"Yes, doubtless; do you think I believe that you come here through friendship; you, who love no one?"
"Oh, Bussy, to say such things to me!"
"Well, be quick, monseigneur, what do you want? When one serves a prince, and he dissimulates to the extent of calling you his friend, one must pay for the dissimulation by being ready to sacrifice everything, even life, if necessary."
The duke colored, but it was too dark to see it. "I wanted nothing of you, Bussy, and you deceive yourself in thinking my visit interested. I desire only, seeing the fine evening, and that all Paris is out to sign the League, that you should accompany me a little about the streets."
Bussy looked at him. "Have you not Aurilly to go with you?"
"Ah, monseigneur, you do not mention all his qualities; I believed that he fulfilled other functions for you. Besides, you have a dozen other gentlemen; I hear them in the ante-chamber."
At this moment the door opened. "Who is there?" said the duke, haughtily. "Who enters unannounced where I am?"
"I, Remy," replied the young man, without any embarrassment.
"Who is Remy?"
"The doctor, monseigneur," said the young man.
"And my friend," said Bussy. "You heard what monseigneur asks?" continued he, turning to Remy.
"Yes, that you should accompany him; but——"
"But what?" said the duke.
"But you cannot do it!"
"And why so?" cried the duke.
"Because it is too cold out of doors."
"Too cold!" cried the duke, surprised that any one should oppose him.
"Yes, too cold. Therefore I, who answer for M. Bussy's life to himself and to his friends, must forbid him to go out." And he pressed Bussy's hand in a significant manner.
"Very well," said the duke, "if the risk be so great, he must stay." And he turned angrily to the door; but returning to the bed, he said, "Then you have decided not to come?"
"Monseigneur, you hear that the doctor forbids me."
"You ought to see Miron, he is a great doctor."
"I prefer my friend."
No sooner was the duke gone than Remy said, "Now, monsieur, get up at once, if you please."
"To come out with me. This room is too warm."
"You said just now to the duke that it was too cold outside."
"The temperature has changed since."
"So that——" said Bussy, with curiosity.
"So that now I am convinced that the air will do you good."
"I do not understand."
"Do you understand the medicines I give you? Yet you take them. Come, get up; a walk with M. d'Anjou is dangerous, with me it is healthy. Have you lost confidence in me? If so, send me away."
"Well, as you wish it." Ana he rose, pale and trembling.
"An interesting paleness," said Remy.
"But where are we going?"
"To a place where I have analyzed the air to-day."
"And this air?"
"Is sovereign for your complaint, monseigneur."
Bussy dressed, and they went out.
ETYMOLOGY OF THE RUE DE LA JUSSIENNE.
Remy took his patient by the arm, and led him by the Rue Coquilliere down to the rampart.
"It is strange," said Bussy, "you take me near the marsh of the Grange-Batelier, and call it healthy."
"Oh, monsieur, a little patience; we are going to turn round the Rue Pagavin, and get into the Rue Montmartre—you will see what a fine street that is."
"As if I do not know it."
"Well, so much the better; I need not lose time in showing you its beauties, and I will lead you at once into a pretty little street."
Indeed, after going a few steps down the Rue Montmartre, they turned to the right.
"This," said Remy, "is the Rue de la Gypecienne, or Egyptienne, which you like; often called by the people the Rue de la Gyssienne, or Jussienne."
"Very likely; but where are we going?"
"Do you see that little church?" said Remy. "How nicely it is situated; I dare say you never remarked it before."
"No, I did not know it."
"Well, now that you have seen the exterior, enter and look at the windows—they are very curious."
There was such a pleased smile on the young man's face, that Bussy felt sure there must have been some other reason for making him enter than to look at the windows which it was too dark to see. The chapel was lighted, however, for service, and Remy began examining a fresco of the Virgin Mary, which was a continual source of complaint to the women who frequented the church, as they said that it attracted the attention of the young shopkeepers away from them.
"You had some other object in bringing me here than that I should admire the St. Marie, had you not?"
"Ma foi! no."
"Then let us go."
"Wait a moment; the service is finishing."
"Now let us go," said Bussy; "they are moving;" and he walked to the door.
"At least take some holy water."
Bussy obeyed, and Remy making a sign to a woman who stood near, she advanced, and Bussy grew suddenly pale, for he recognized Gertrude. She saluted him and passed on, but behind her came a figure which, although closely veiled, made his heart beat fast. Remy looked at him, and Bussy knew now why he had brought him to this church. Bussy followed the lady, and Remy followed him. Gertrude had walked on before, until she came to an alley closed by a door. She opened it, and let her mistress pass. Bussy followed, and the two others disappeared.
It was half-past seven in the evening, and near the beginning of May; the air began to have the feeling of spring, and the leaves were beginning to unfold themselves. Bussy looked round him, and found himself in a little garden fifty feet square, surrounded by high walls covered with vines and moss. The first lilacs which had begun to open in the morning sun sent out their sweet emanations, and the young man felt tempted to think that so much perfume and warmth and life came to him only from the presence of the woman he loved so tenderly.
On a little wooden bench sat Diana, twisting in her fingers a sprig of wall-flower, which she had picked, without knowing what she did. As Bussy approached her, she raised her head, and said timidly, "M. le Comte, all deception would be unworthy of us; if you found me at the church of St. Marie l'Egyptienne, it was not chance that brought you there."
"No, madame; Remy took me out without my knowing where I was going, and I swear to you that I was ignorant——"
"You do not understand me, monsieur, I know well that M. Remy brought you there, by force, perhaps."
"No, madame, not by force; I did not know that he was going to take me to see any one."
"That is a harsh speech," said Diana, sadly, and with tears in her eyes. "Do you mean that had you known, you would not have come?"
"It would have been but just, monsieur; you did me a great service, and I have not thanked you. Pardon me, and receive all my thanks."
"Madame——" Bussy stopped; he felt so overcome, that he had neither words nor ideas.
"But I wished to prove to you," continued Diana, "that I am not ungrateful, nor forgetful. It was I who begged M. Remy to procure for me the honor of this interview; it was I who sought for it, forgive me if I have displeased you."
"Oh, madame! you cannot think that."
"I know," continued Diana, who was the strongest, because she had prepared herself for this interview, "how much trouble you had in fulfilling my commission; I know all your delicacy; I know it and appreciate it, believe me. Judge, then, what I must have suffered from the idea that you would misunderstand the sentiments of my heart."
"Madame, I have been ill for three days."
"Oh! I know," cried Diana, with a rising color, "and I suffered more than you, for M. Remy, he deceived me, no doubt; for he made me believe——"
"That your forgetfulness caused it. Oh! it is true."
"Then I have been right to do as I have done; to see you, to thank you for your kindness, and to swear to you an eternal gratitude. Do you believe that I speak from the bottom of my heart?"
Bussy shook his head sadly, and did not reply.
"Do you doubt my words?" said Diana.
"Madame, those who feel a kindness for you, show it when they can. You knew I was at the palace the night of your presentation, you knew I was close to you, you must have felt my looks fixed on you, and you never raised your eyes to me, you never let me know by a word, a sign, or a gesture, that you were aware of my presence; but perhaps you did not recognize me, madame, you have only seen me twice." Diana replied with so sad a glance of reproach, that Bussy was moved by it.
"Pardon, madame," said he; "you are not an ordinary woman, and yet you act like them. This marriage——"
"I was forced to conclude it."
"Yes, but it was easy to break."
"Impossible, on the contrary."
"Did you not know that near you watched a devoted friend?"
"Even that made me fear."
"And you did not think of what my life would be, when you belonged to another. But perhaps you kept the name of Monsoreau from choice?"
"Do you think so?" murmured Diana; "so much the better." And her eyes filled with tears. Bussy walked up and down in great agitation.
"I am to become once more a stranger to you," said he.
"Your silence says enough."
"I can only speak by my silence."
"At the Louvre you would not see me, and now you will not speak to me."
"At the Louvre I was watched by M. de Monsoreau, and he is jealous."
"Jealous! What does he want then? mon Dieu! whose happiness can he envy, when all the world is envying his?"
"I tell you he is jealous; for the last two or three days he has seen some one wandering round our new abode."
"Then you have quitted the Rue St. Antoine?"
"How!" cried Diana thoughtlessly, "then it was not you?"
"Madame, since your marriage was publicly announced, since that evening at the Louvre, where you did not deign to look at me, I have been in bed, devoured by fever, so you see that your husband could not be jealous of me, at least."
"Well! M. le Comte, if it be true that you had any desire to see me, you must thank this unknown man; for knowing M. de Monsoreau as I know him, this man made me tremble for you, and I wished to see you and say to you, 'Do not expose yourself so, M. le Comte; do not make me more unhappy than I am.'"
"Reassure yourself, madame; it was not I."
"Now, let me finish what I have to say. In the fear of this man—whom I do not know, but whom M. de Monsoreau does perhaps—he exacts that I should leave Paris, so that," said Diana, holding out her hand to Bussy, "you may look upon this as our last meeting, M. le Comte. To-morrow we start for Meridor."
"You are going, madame?"
"There is no other way to reassure M. de Monsoreau; no other way for me to be at peace. Besides, I myself detest Paris, the world, the court, and the Louvre. I wish to be alone with my souvenirs of my happy past; perhaps a little of my former happiness will return to me there. My father will accompany me, and I shall find there M. and Madame de St. Luc, who expect me. Adieu, M. de Bussy."
Bussy hid his face in his hands. "All is over for me," he murmured.
"What do you say?" said Diana.
"I say, madame, that this man exiles you, that he takes from me the only hope left to me, that of breathing the same air as yourself, of seeing you sometimes, of touching your dress as you pass. Oh! this man is my mortal enemy, and if I perish for it, I will destroy him with my own hands."
"Oh! M. le Comte!"
"The wretch; it is not enough for him that you are his wife: you, the most beautiful and most charming of creatures, but he is still jealous. Jealous! The devouring monster would absorb the whole world!"
"Oh! calm yourself, comte; mon Dieu; he is excusable, perhaps."
"He is excusable! you defend him, madame?"
"Oh! if you knew!" cried Diana, covering her face with her hands.
"If I knew! Oh! madame, I know one thing; he who is your husband is wrong to think of the rest of the world."
"But!" cried Diana, in a broken voice, "if you were wrong, M. le Comte, and if he were not."
And the young woman, touching with her cold hand the burning ones of Bussy, rose and fled among the somber alleys of the garden, seized Gertrude's arm and dragged her away, before Bussy, astonished and overwhelmed with delight, had time to stretch out his arms to retain her. He uttered a cry and tottered; Remy arrived in time to catch him in his arms and make him sit down on the bench that Diana had just quitted.
HOW D'EPERNON HAD HIS DOUBLET TORN, AND HOW CHOMBERG WAS STAINED BLUE.
While M. la Huriere piled signature upon signature, while Chicot consigned Gorenflot to the Corne d'Abondance, while Bussy returned to life in the happy little garden full of perfume and love, the king, annoyed at all he had seen in the city, and furious against his brother, whom he had seen pass in the Rue St. Honore, accompanied by MM. de Guise and Monsoreau, and followed by a whole train of gentlemen, re-entered the Louvre, accompanied by Maugiron and Quelus. He had gone out with all four of his friends, but, at some steps from the Louvre, Schomberg and D'Epernon had profited by the first crush to disappear, counting on some adventures in such a turbulent night. Before they had gone one hundred yards D'Epernon had passed his sword-sheath between the legs of a citizen who was running, and who tumbled down in consequence, and Schomberg had pulled the cap off the head of a young and pretty woman. But both had badly chosen their day for attacking these good Parisians, generally so patient; for a spirit of revolt was prevalent in the streets, and the bourgeois rose, crying out for aid, and the husband of the young woman launched his apprentices on Schomberg. He was brave; therefore he stopped, put his hand on his sword, and spoke in a high tone. D'Epernon was prudent; he fled.
Henri had entered his room at the Louvre, and, seated in his great armchair, was trembling with impatience, and seeking a good pretext for getting into a passion. Maugiron was playing with Narcissus, the large greyhound, and Quelus was sitting near.
"They go on!" cried Henri, "their plot advances; sometimes tigers, sometimes serpents; when they do not spring they glide."
"Oh, sire!" said Quelus, "are there not always plots in a kingdom? What the devil could all the sons, brothers, and cousins of kings do if they did not plot?" And Quelus irreverently turned his back to the king.
"Hear, Maugiron," said the king, "with what nonsense he tries to put me off."
"Well, sire, look at Narcissus; he is a good dog, but when you pull his ears, he growls, and when you tread on his toes he bites."
"Here is the other comparing me to my dog!"
"Not so, sire; I place Narcissus far above you, for he knows how to defend himself, and you do not." And he also turned his back.
"That is right," cried the king, "my good friends, for whom they accuse me of despoiling the kingdom, abandon me, insult me! Ah, Chicot! if you were here."
At this moment, however, the door opened, and D'Epernon appeared, without hat or cloak, and with his doublet all torn.
"Bon Dieu!" cried Henri, "what is the matter?"
"Sire," said D'Epernon, "look at me; see how they treat the friends of your majesty."
"Who has treated you thus?"
"Mordieu, your people; or rather the people of; M. le Duc d'Anjou, who cried, 'Vive la Messe!' 'Vive Guise!' 'Vive Francois!—vive everyone, in fact, except the king."
"And what did you do to be treated thus?"
"I? nothing. What can a man do to a people? They recognized me for your majesty's friend, and that was enough."
"Did he not come to your aid? did he not defend you?"
"Corboeuf! he had enough to do on his own account."
"I left him in the hands of a dyer whose wife's cap he had pulled off, and who, with his five or six apprentices, seemed likely to make him pass an unpleasant quarter of an hour."
"Par la mordieu! and where did you leave my poor Schomberg? I will go myself to his aid. They may say," continued he, looking at Maugiron and Quelus, "that my friends abandon me, but they shall never say that I abandon them."
"Thanks, sire," said a voice behind Henri; "thanks, but here I am; I extricated myself without assistance; but, mein Gott! it was not without trouble."
"It is Schomberg's voice," cried all, "but where the devil is he?"
"Here I am," cried the voice; and indeed, in the corner of the room they saw something that looked not like a man but a shadow.
"Schomberg," cried the king, "where do you come from, and why are you that color?"
Indeed, Schomberg from head to foot was of a most beautiful blue.
"Der Teufel!" cried he, "the wretches! It is not wonderful that the people ran after me."
"But what is the matter?"
"The matter is, that they dipped me in a vat, the knaves; I believed that it was only water, but it was indigo."
"Oh, mordieu!" cried Quelus, bursting out laughing, "indigo is very dear; you must have carried away at least twenty crowns' worth of indigo."
"I wish you had been in my place."
"And you did not kill any one?"
"I left my poniard somewhere, that is all I know, up to the hilt in a sheath of flesh; but in a second I was taken, carried off, dipped in the vat, and almost drowned."
"And how did you get out of their hands?"
"By committing a cowardice, sire."
"What was that?"
"Crying, 'Vive la Ligue!'"
"That was like me; only they made me add, 'Vive le Duc d'Anjou!'" said D'Epernon.
"And I also," cried Schomberg; "but that is not all."
"What, my poor Schomberg, did they make you cry something else?"
"No, that was enough, God knows; but just as I cried, 'Vive le Duc d'Anjou,' guess who passed."
"How can I guess?"
"Bussy; his cursed Bussy, who heard me."
"He could not understand."
"Parbleu! it was not difficult to understand. I had a poniard at my throat, and I was in a vat."
"And he did not come to your rescue?"
"It seemed as though he was in a dreadful hurry; he scarcely seemed to touch the ground."
"Perhaps he did not recognize you, as you were blue."
"Ah! very likely."
"He would be excusable," said the king; "for, indeed, my poor Schomberg, I should hardly have known you myself."
"Never mind; we shall meet some other time, when I am not in a vat."
"Oh! as for me," said D'Epernon, "it is his master I should like to punish."
"The Duc d'Anjou, whose praises they are singing all over Paris," said Quelus.
"The fact is, that he is master of Paris to-night," said D'Epernon.
"Ah, my brother! my brother!" cried the king. "Ah! yes, sire; you cry, 'my brother,' but you do nothing against him; and yet it is clear to me that he is at the head of some plot." said Schomberg.
"Eh, mordieu! that is what I was saying just before you came in, to these gentlemen, and they replied by shrugging their shoulders and turning their backs."
"Not because you said there was a plot, sire, but because you do nothing to suppress it."
"And, now," said Quelus, "we say, 'Save us,' sire; or rather, save yourself; to-morrow M. de Guise will come to the Louvre, and ask you to name a chief for the League; if you name M. d'Anjou, as you promised, he, at the head of one hundred thousand Parisians, excited by this night, can do what he likes."
"Then," said Henri, "if I take a decisive step, you will support me?"
"If, sire, you will only give me time to remodel my dress," said D'Epernon.
"Go to my room, D'Epernon; my valet de chambre will give you what you want."
"And I, sire, must have a bath," said Schomberg.
"Go to my bath."
"Then I may hope, sire, that my insult will not remain unavenged."
Henri remained silent a moment, and then said, "Quelus, ask if M. d'Anjou has returned to the Louvre."
Quelus went, but came back, and said that the duke had not yet returned.
"Well, you, Quelus and Maugiron, go down and watch for his entrance."
"Have all the doors shut."
"I will be back in ten minutes, sire," said D'Epernon.
"And my stay will depend on the quality of the dye," said Schomberg.
"Come as soon as possible," said the king.
The young men went out, and the king, left alone, kneeled down on his prie-Dieu.
CHICOT MORE THAN EVER KING OF FRANCE.
The gates of the Louvre were generally closed at twelve, but the king gave orders that they should be left open on this night till one. At a quarter to one Quelus came up.
"Sire," said he, "the duke has come in."
"What is Maugiron doing?"
"Watching that he does not go out again."
"There is no danger."
"Let him go to bed quietly. Whom has he with him?"
"M. de Monsoreau and his ordinary gentlemen."
"And M. de Bussy?"
"No; he is not there."
"So much the better."
"What are your orders, sire?"
"Tell Schomberg and D'Epernon to be quick, and let M. de Monsoreau know that I wish to speak to him."
Five minutes after, Schomberg and D'Epernon entered; the former with only a slight blue tint left, which it would take several baths to eradicate, and the latter newly clothed. After them, M. de Monsoreau appeared. "The captain of the guards has just announced to me that your majesty did me the honor to send for me," said he.
"Yes, monsieur; when I was out this evening, I saw the stars so brilliant, and the moon so clear, that I thought it would be splendid weather for the chase to-morrow; so, M. le Comte, set off at once for Vincennes, and get a stag turned out ready for me."
"But, sire, I thought that to-morrow your majesty had given a rendezvous to Monsieur le Duc d'Anjou and M. de Guise, in order to name a chief for the League."
"Well, monsieur?" said the king haughtily.
"Sire, there might not be time."
"There is always time, monsieur, for those who know how to employ it; that is why I tell you to set off at once, so that you may have all ready for to-morrow morning at ten. Quelus, Schomberg, have the door of the Louvre opened for M. de Monsoreau, and have it closed behind him."
The chief huntsman retired in astonishment. "It is a whim of the king's," said he to the young men.
They watched him out, and then returned to the king.
"Now," said Henri, "silence, and all four of you follow me."
"Where are we going, sire?" said D'Epernon.
"Those who follow will see."
The king took a lantern in his hand, and led the young men along the secret corridor, which led to his brother's rooms. A valet-de-chambre watched here; but before he had time to warn his master, Henri ordered him to be silent, and the young men pushed him into a room and locked the door.
Henri opened his brother's door. Francois had gone to bed full of dreams of ambition, which the events of the evening had nourished; he had heard his name exalted, and the king's abused. Conducted by the Duc de Guise, he had seen the Parisians open everywhere for him and his gentlemen, while those of the king were insulted and hooted. Never since the commencement of his career had he been so popular, and consequently so hopeful. He had placed on the table a letter from M. de Guise, which had been brought to him by M. de Monsoreau. His surprise and terror were great when he saw the secret door open, and still more when he recognized the king. Henri signed to his companions to remain on the threshold, and advanced to the bed, frowning, but silent.
"Sire," stammered the duke, "the honor that your majesty does me is so unlooked for——"
"That it frightens you, does it not? But stay where you are, my brother; do not rise."
"But, sire, only—permit me——" and he drew towards him the letter of M. de Guise.
"You are reading?" asked the king.
"Something interesting to keep you awake at this time of night?"
"Oh, sire, nothing very important; the evening courier——"
"Oh, yes, I understand—Courier of Venus; but no, I see I am wrong—they do not seal billet-doux with seals of that size."
The duke hid the letter altogether.
"How discreet this dear Francois is!" said the king, with a smile which frightened his brother. However, making an effort to recover himself, he said:
"Did your majesty wish to say anything particular to me?"
"What I have to say to you, monsieur, I wish to say before witnesses. Here, gentlemen," continued he, turning to the four young men, "listen to us; I order you."
"Sire," said the duke, with a glance full of rage and hatred, "before insulting a man of my rank, you should have refused me the hospitality of the Louvre; in the Hotel d'Anjou, at least, I should have been free to reply to you."
"Really, you forget, then, that wherever you are, you are my subject; that I am the king, and that every house is mine."
"Sire, I am at the Louvre, at my mother's."
"And your mother is in my house. But to the point—give me that paper."
"That which you were reading, which was on your table, and which you hid when I came in."
"On this, that you are making a request unworthy of a gentleman, and fit only for a police-officer."
The king grew livid. "That letter, monsieur!"
"A woman's letter, sire."
"There are some women's letters very good to see, and dangerous not to see—such as those our mother writes."
"This letter, monsieur!" cried the king, stamping his foot, "or I will have it torn from you by my Swiss!"
The duke jumped out of bed, with the letter crumpled in his hand, evidently with the intention of approaching the fire. But Henri, divining his intention, placed himself between him and the fire.
"You would not treat your brother thus?" cried the duke.
"Not my brother, but my mortal enemy. Not my brother, but the Duc D'Anjou, who went all through Paris with M. de Guise, who tries to hide from me a letter from one of his accomplices, the Lorraine princes."
"This time," said the duke, "your police are wrong."
"I tell you I saw on the seal the three merlets of Lorraine. Give it to me, mordieu! or——"
Henri advanced towards his brother and laid his hand on his shoulder. Francois had no sooner felt the touch of his hand than, falling on his knees, he cried out, "Help! help! my brother is going to kill me."
These words, uttered in an accent of profound terror, startled the king and mitigated his rage. The idea passed quickly through his mind that in their family, as by a curse, brother had always assassinated brother.
"No, my brother," said he, "you are wrong; I do not wish to hurt you, but you cannot contend with me. I am the master, and if you did not know it before, you know it now."
"Yes, my brother, I acknowledge it."
"Very well, then give me that letter; the king orders it."
The duke let it fall, and the king picked it up, but without reading it put it in his pocket-book.
"Is that all?" said the duke, with his sinister glance.
"No, monsieur, you must keep your room until my suspicions with respect to you are completely dissipated. The room is commodious, and not much like a prison; stay here. You will have good company—at least, outside the door, for this night these four gentlemen will guard you; to-morrow they will be relieved by a guard of Swiss."
"But, my friends—cannot I see them?"
"Who do you call your friends?"
"M. de Monsoreau, M. de Ribeirac, M. Antragues, and M. de Bussy."
"Oh, yes, he, of course."
"Has he had the misfortune to displease your majesty?"
"Always, but particularly to-night."
"To-night! what did he do?"
"Insulted me in the streets of Paris."
"My followers, which is the same thing."
"Bussy! you have been deceived, sire."
"I know what I say."
"Sire, M. de Bussy has not been out of his hotel for two days. He is at home, ill in bed, burning with fever."
The king turned to Schomberg, who said, "If he had fever, at all events he had it in the Rue Coquilliere."
"Who told you he was there?" said the duke.
"I saw him."
"You saw Bussy out of doors?"
"Yes, looking well and happy, and accompanied by his ordinary follower, that Remy."
"Then I do not understand it; I saw him in bed myself; he must have deceived me."
"It is well; he will be punished with the rest," said the king.
"If M. de Bussy went out alone after refusing to go out with me——"
"You hear, gentlemen, what my brother says. But we will talk of him another time; now I recommend my brother to your care; you will have the honor of serving as guard to a prince of the blood."
"Oh! sire," said Quelus, "be satisfied; we know what we owe to M. le Duc."
"It is well; adieu, gentlemen."
"Sire," cried the duke, "am I really a prisoner, are my friends not to visit me, and am I not to go out?" And the idea of the next day presented itself to his mind, when his presence would be so necessary to M. de Guise. "Sire," cried he again, "let me at least remain near your majesty; it is my place, and I can be as well guarded there as elsewhere. Sire, grant me this favor."
The king was about to yield to this request and say, "Yes," when his attention was attracted to the door, where a long body, with its arms, its head, and everything that it could move, was making signs to him to say "No." It was Chicot.
"No," said Henri to his brother; "you are very well here, and here you must stay."
"It is my pleasure, and that is enough," said the king, haughtily.
"I said I was the real King of France," murmured Chicot.
HOW CHICOT PAID A VISIT TO BUSSY, AND WHAT FOLLOWED.
The next morning, about nine, Bussy was eating his breakfast, and talking with Remy over the events of the previous day.
"Remy," said he, "did you not think you had seen somewhere that gentleman whom they were dipping in a vat in the Rue Coquilliere?"
"Yes, M. le Comte, but I cannot think of his name."
"I ought to have helped him," said Bussy, "it is a duty one gentleman owes to another; but, really, Remy, I was too much occupied with my own affairs."
"But he must have recognized us, for we were our natural color, and it seemed to me that he rolled his eyes frightfully, and shook his fist at us."
"Are you sure of that, Remy? We must find out who it was; I cannot let such an insult pass."
"Oh!" cried Remy, "I know now who he was."
"I heard him swear."
"I should think so; any one would have sworn in such a situation."
"Yes, but he swore in German."
"Yes, he said, 'Gott verdomme.'"
"Then it was Schomberg?"
"Himself, M. le Comte."
"Then, my dear Remy, get your salves ready."
"Why so, monsieur?"
"Because, before long, you will have to apply them either to his skin or to mine."
"You would not be so foolish as to get killed, now you are so well and so happy; St. Marie l'Egyptienne has cured you once, but she will get tired of working miracles for you."
"On the contrary, Remy, you cannot tell how pleasant it feels to risk your life when you are happy. I assure you I never fought with a good heart when I had lost large sums at play, when things had gone wrong, or when I had anything to reproach myself with; but when my purse is full, my heart light, and my conscience clear, I go boldly to the field, for I am sure of my hand; it is then I am brilliant. I should fight well to-day, Remy, for, thanks to you," said he, extending his hand to the young man, "I am very happy."
"Stay a moment, however; you will, I hope, deprive yourself of this pleasure. A beautiful lady of my acquaintance made me swear to keep you safe and sound, under pretext that your life belongs to her."
"You call me good Remy, because I brought you to see Madame de Monsoreau, but shall you call me so when you are separated from her? and unluckily the day approaches, if it be not come."
"What do you mean?"
"Do you not know that she is going to Anjou, and that I myself have the grief of being separated from Gertrude. Ah——"
Bussy could not help smiling at the pretended grief of the young man.
"You love her, then?" he said.
"I should think so; you should see how she beats me."
"And you let her do it?"
"But to return to Diana, Remy; when shall we set off?"
"Ah! I expected that. On the latest possible day I should say."
"Firstly, because it seems to me that M. le Duc d'Anjou will want you here."
"Because M. de Monsoreau, by a special blessing, does not suspect you in the least, and would suspect something immediately if he saw you disappear from Paris at the same time as his wife."
"What do I care for that?"
"No; but I care. I charge myself with curing the sword strokes received in duels, for, as you manage your sword well, you never receive very serious ones; but not the blows given secretly by jealous husbands; they are animals, who, in such cases, strike hard."
"Well I my dear friend, if it is my destiny to be killed by M. de Monsoreau."
"Well! he will kill me."
"And then, a week after, Madame de Monsoreau will be reconciled to her husband, which will dreadfully enrage your poor soul, which will see it from above or below, without being able to prevent it."
"You are right, Remy; I will live."
"Quite right; but that is not all, you must be charmingly polite to him; he is frightfully jealous of the Duc d'Anjou, who, while you were ill in bed, promenaded before the house with his Aurilly. Make advances, then, to this charming husband, and do not even ask him what has become of his wife, since you know quite well."
"You are right, Remy, I believe. Now I am no longer jealous of the bear, I will be civil to him."
At this moment some one knocked at the door.
"Who is there?" cried Bussy.
"Monsieur," replied a page, "there is a gentleman below who wishes to speak to you."
"To speak to me so early; who is it?"
"A tall gentleman, dressed in green velvet."
"Can it be Schomberg?"
"He said a tall man."
"True, then Monsoreau, perhaps; well, let him enter." After a minute the visitor entered.
"M. Chicot!" cried Bussy.
"Himself, M. le Comte."
Remy retired into another room, and then Chicot said, "Monsieur, I come to propose to you a little bargain."
"Speak, monsieur," said Bussy, in great surprise.
"What will you promise me if I render you a great service?"
"That depends on the service, monsieur," replied Bussy, disdainfully.
Chicot feigned not to remark this air of disdain. "Monsieur," said he, sitting down and crossing his long legs, "I remark that you do not ask me to sit down."
The color mounted to Bussy's face.
"Monsieur," continued Chicot, "have you heard of the League?"
"I have heard much of it," said Bussy.
"Well, monsieur, you ought to know that it is an association of honest Christians, united for the purpose of religiously massacring their neighbors, the Huguenots. Are you of the League, monsieur? I am."
"Say only yes, or no."
"Allow me to express my astonishment——"
"I did myself the honor of asking you if you belonged to the League."
"M. Chicot, as I do not like questions whose import I do not understand, I beg you to change the conversation before I am forced to tell you that I do not like questioners. Come, M. Chicot, we have but a few minutes left."
"Well! in a few minutes one can say a great deal; however, I might have dispensed with asking you the question, as if you do not belong to the League now, you soon will, as M. d'Anjou does."
"M. d'Anjou! Who told you that?"
"Himself, speaking to me in person, as the gentlemen of the law say, or rather write; for example, that dear M. Nicolas David, that star of the Forum Parisiense. Now you understand that as M. d'Anjou belongs to the League, you cannot help belonging to it also; you, who are his right arm. The League knows better than to accept a maimed chief."
"Well, M. Chicot, what then?"
"Why, if you do belong to it, or they think you are likely to do so, what has happened to his royal highness will certainly happen to you."
"And what has happened to him?"
"Monsieur," said Chicot, rising and imitating M. de Bussy's manner of a little before, "I do not love questions, nor questioners, therefore I have a great mind to let them do to you what they have done to-night to the duke."
"M. Chicot," said Bussy, with a smile, "speak, I beg of you; where is the duke?"
"He is in prison?"
"In his own room. Four of my good friends guard him. M. de Schomberg, who was dyed blue yesterday, as you know, since you passed during the operation; M. d'Epernon, who is yellow from the fright he had; M. de Quelus, who is red with anger; and M. de Maugiron, who is white with ennui; it is beautiful to see; not to speak of the duke, who is going green with terror, so that we shall have a perfect rainbow to delight our eyes."
"Then, monsieur, you think my liberty in danger?"
"Danger! monsieur; suppose that they are already on the way to arrest you."
"Do you like the Bastile, M. de Bussy? it is a good place for meditation, and M. Laurent Testu, the governor, keeps a good cook."
"They would send me to the Bastile?"
"Ma foi! I ought to have in my pocket something like an order to conduct you there. Would you like to see it?" and Chicot drew from his pocket an order from the king in due form, to apprehend, wherever he might be, M. Louis de Clermont, Seigneur de Bussy. "Written very nicely by M. Quelus," continued Chicot.
"Then, monsieur," cried Bussy, "you are really rendering me a service?"
"I think so; do you agree with me?"
"Monsieur, I beg you to tell me why you do it; for you love the king, and he hates me."
"M. le Comte, I save you; think what you please of my action. But do you forget that I asked for a recompense?"
"Most willingly, monsieur."
"Then some day you will do what I ask you?"
"On my honor, if possible."
"That is enough. Now mount your horse and disappear; I go to carry this order to those who are to use it."
"Then you were not to arrest me yourself?"
"I! for what do you take me?"
"But I should abandon my master."
"Have no scruples; he abandons you."
"You are a gentleman, M. Chicot."
Bussy called Remy. To do him justice, he was listening at the door.
"Remy, our horses!"
"They are saddled, monsieur."
"Ah!" said Chicot, "this young man knows what he is about."
Bussy thanked Chicot once more, and went down.
"Where are we going?" said Remy.
"Well——" said Bussy, hesitating.
"What do you say to Normandy?" said Chicot.
"It is too near."
"Anjou is a reasonable distance, monsieur," said Remy.
"Well, then, Anjou," said Bussy, coloring.
"Adieu, monsieur!" said Chicot.
"It is destiny," said Remy, when he was gone.
"Let us be quick, and perhaps we may overtake her," said Bussy.
THE CHESS OF M. CHICOT, AND THE CUP AND BALL OF M. QUELUS.
Chicot returned joyfully to the Louvre. It was a great satisfaction to him to have saved a brave gentleman like Bussy.
M. de Guise, after having received in the morning the principal Leaguers, who came to bring him the registers filled with signatures, and after having made them all swear to recognize the chief that the king should appoint, went out to visit M. d'Anjou, whom he had lost sight of about ten the evening before. The duke found the prince's valet rather unquiet at his master's absence, but he imagined that he had slept at the Louvre.
The Due de Guise asked to speak to Aurilly, who was most likely to know where his master was. Aurilly came, but stated he had been separated from the prince the evening before by a pressure of the crowd, and had come to the Hotel d'Anjou to wait for him, not knowing that his highness had intended to sleep at the Louvre. He added that he had just sent to the Louvre to inquire, and that a message had been returned that the duke was still asleep.
"Asleep at eleven o'clock! not likely. You ought to go to the Louvre, Aurilly."
"I did think of it, monseigneur, but I feared that this was only a tale invented to satisfy my messenger, and that the prince was seeking pleasure elsewhere, and might be annoyed at my seeking him."
"Oh, no; the duke has too much sense to be pleasure-seeking on a day like this. Go to the Louvre; you will be sure to find him there."
"I will if you wish it; but what shall I say to him?"
"Say that the convocation at the Louvre is fixed for two o'clock, and that it is necessary that we should have a conference first. It is not at the time when the king is about to choose a chief for the League that he should be sleeping."
"Very well, monseigneur, I will beg his highness to come here."
"And say that I am waiting impatiently for him. Meanwhile I will go and seek M. de Bussy."
"But if I do not find his highness, what am I to do?"
"Then make no further search for him. In any event I shall be at the Louvre at a quarter before two."
Aurilly passed through the courtiers who crowded the Louvre, and made his way to the duke's apartments. At the door he found Chicot playing chess. Aurilly tried to pass, but Chicot, with his long legs blocked up the doorway. He was forced to touch him on the shoulder.
"Ah, it is you, M. Aurilly."
"What are you doing, M. Chicot?"
"Playing chess, as you see."
"Yes, I am studying; do you play?"
"Yes, I know you are a musician, and music is so difficult an art, that those who give themselves to it must sacrifice all their time."
"You seem very serious over your game."
"Yes, it is my king who disquiets me; you must know, M. Aurilly, that at chess the king is a very insignificant person, who has no will, who can only go one step forward or back, or one to the right or left, while he is surrounded by active enemies, by knights who jump three squares at a time, by a crowd of pawns who surround him, so that if he be badly counseled he is a ruined king in no time, ma foi."
"But, M. Chicot, how does it happen that you are studying this at the door of his royal highness' room?"
"Because I am waiting for M. Quelus, who is in there."
"With his highness."
"With his highness! What is he doing there? I did not think they were such friends."
"Hush!" then he whispered in Aurilly's ear "he is come to ask pardon of the duke for a little quarrel they had yesterday."
"It was the king who insisted on it; you know on what excellent terms the brothers are just now. The king would not suffer an impertinence of Quelus's to pass, and ordered him to apologize."
"Ah! M. Aurilly, I think that we are entering the golden age; the Louvre is about to become Arcadia, and the two brothers Arcades ambo."
Aurilly smiled, and passed into the ante-chamber, where he was courteously saluted by Quelus, between whose hands a superb cup and ball of ebony inlaid with ivory was making rapid evolutions.
"Bravo! M. Quelus," said Aurilly.
"Ah! my dear M. Aurilly, when shall I play cup and ball as well as you play the lute?"
"When you have studied your plaything as long as I have my instrument. But where is monseigneur? I thought you were with him."
"I have an audience with him, but Schomberg comes first."
"What! M. de Schomberg, also!"
"Oh! mon Dieu; yes. The king settled all that. He is in the next room. Enter, M. Aurilly, and remind the prince that we are waiting for him."
Aurilly opened the second door and saw Schomberg reclining on a kind of couch, from which he amused himself by sending from a tube little balls of earth through a gold ring, suspended from the ceiling by a silk thread, while a favorite dog brought him back the balls as they fell.
"Ah! guten morgen, M. Aurilly, you see I am amusing myself while I wait for my audience."
"But where is monseigneur?"
"Oh! he is occupied in pardoning D'Epernon and Maugiron. But will you not enter, you who are privileged?"
"Perhaps it would be indiscreet."
"Not at all; enter, M. Aurilly, enter." And he pushed him into the next room, where the astonished musician perceived D'Epernon before a mirror, occupied in stiffening his mustachios, while Maugiron, seated near the window, was cutting out engravings, by the side of which the bas-reliefs on the temple of Venus Aphrodite would have looked holy.
The duke, without his sword, was in his armchair between these two men, who only looked at him to watch his movements, and only spoke to him to say something disagreeable: seeing Aurilly, he got up to meet him.
"Take care monseigneur," said Maugiron, "you are stepping on my figures."
"Mon Dieu!" cried the musician, "he insults my master!"
"Dear M. Aurilly," said D'Epernon, still arranging his mustachois, "how are you?"
"Be so kind as to bring me here your little dagger," said Maugiron.
"Gentlemen, gentlemen, do you not remember where you are?"
"Yes, yes, my dear Orpheus, that is why I ask for your dagger; you see M. le Duc has none."
"Aurilly!" cried the duke, in a tone full of grief and rage, "do you not see that I am a prisoner?"
"A prisoner! to whom?"
"To my brother; you might know that by my jailers."
"Oh! if I had but guessed it."
"You would have brought your lute to amuse his highness," said a mocking voice behind them, "but I thought of it, and sent for it; here it is."
"How does your chess go on, Chicot?" said D'Epernon.
"I believe I shall save the king, but it is not without trouble. Come, M. Aurilly, give me your poniard in return for the lute; a fair exchange."
The astonished musician obeyed.
"There is one rat in the trap," said Quelus, who returned to his post in the antechamber, only exchanging his cup and ball for Schomberg's shooting tube.
"It is amusing to vary one's pleasures," said Chicot; "so for a change I will go and sign the League."
THE RECEPTION OF THE CHIEFS OF THE LEAGUE.
The time for the great reception drew near. Paris, nearly as tumultuous as the evening before, had sent towards the Louvre its deputation of leaguers, its bodies of workmen, its sheriffs, its militia, and its constantly-increasing masses of spectators.
The king, on his throne in the great hall, was surrounded by his officers, his friends, his courtiers, and his family, waiting for all the corporations to defile before him, when M. de Monsoreau entered abruptly.
"Look, Henriquet," said Chicot, who was standing near the king.
"At your chief huntsman; pardieu, he is well worth it. See how pale and dirty he is!"
Henri made a sign to M. de Monsoreau, who approached.
"How is it that you are at the Louvre, monsieur? I thought you at Vincennes."
"Sire, the stag was turned off at seven o'clock this morning, but when noon came, and I had no news, I feared that some misfortune had happened to your majesty, and I returned."
"Sire, if I have done wrong, attribute it to an excess of devotion."
"Yes, monsieur, and I appreciate it."
"Now," said the count, hesitatingly, "if your majesty wishes me to return to Vincennes, as I am reassured——"
"No, no, stay; this chase was a fancy which came into our head, and which went as it came; do not go away, I want near me devoted subjects, and you have just classed yourself as such."
Monsoreau bowed, and said, "Where does your majesty wish me to remain?"
"Will you give him to me for half an hour?" said Chicot to the king, in a low voice.
"To torment him a little. You owe me some compensation for obliging me to be present at this tiresome ceremony."
"Well, take him."
"Where does your majesty wish me to stand?" again asked M. de Monsoreau.
"Where you like; go behind my armchair, that is where I put my friends."
"Come here," said Chicot, making room for M. de Monsoreau, "come and get the scent of these fellows. Here is game which can be tracked without a hound. Here are the shoemakers who pass, or rather, who have passed; then here are the tanners. Mort de ma vie! if you lose their scent, I will take away your place."
M. de Monsoreau listened mechanically; he seemed preoccupied, and looked around him anxiously.
"Do you know what your chief huntsman is hunting for now?" said Chicot, in an undertone, to the king.
"The game is not in sight."
"Just ask him where his countess is."
"M. le Comte," said Henri, "what have you done with Madame de Monsoreau? I do not see her here."
The count started, but replied, "Sire, she is ill, the air of Paris did not agree with her; so having obtained leave from the queen, she set out last night, with her father, for Meridor."
"Paris is not good for women in her situation," said Chicot.
Monsoreau grew pale and looked furiously at him.
"This poor countess!" continued Chicot, "she will die of ennui by the way."
"I said that she traveled with her father."
"A father is very respectable, I allow, but not very amusing; and if she had only that worthy baron to amuse her it would be sad; but luckily——"
"What!" cried the count.
"What do you mean by 'luckily'?"
"Ah, it was an ellipsis I used."
The count shrugged his shoulders.
"Oh, but it was. Ask Henri, who is a man of letters."
"Yes," said the king; "but what did your adverb mean?"
"'Luckily' means luckily. Luckily, then, there exist some of our friends, and very amusing ones, who, if they meet the countess, will amuse her, and as they are going the same way, it is probable they will. Oh, I see them from here; do you not, Henri; you, who are a man of imagination? There they go, on a good road, well mounted, and saying sweet things to Madame la Comtesse, which she likes very much, dear lady."
M. de Monsoreau was furious, but he could not show it before the king; so he said as mildly as he could, "What, have you friends traveling to Anjou?"
"Good; pretend to be mysterious."
"I swear to you——"
"Oh! you know they are there, although I saw you just now seeking for them mechanically among the crowd."
"You saw me?"
"Yes, you, the palest of all chief huntsmen, past, present, and future, from Nimrod to M. d'Aulefort, your predecessor."
"The palest, I repeat."
"Monsieur, will you return to the friends of whom you spoke, and be so good as to name them, if your super-abundant imagination will let you."
"Seek, monsieur. Morbleu, it is your occupation to hunt out animals, witness the unlucky stag whom you deranged this morning, and who thought it very unkind of you. Seek."
The eyes of M. de Monsoreau wandered anxiously again.
"What!" cried he, seeing a vacant place by the king, "not the Duc d'Anjou?"
"Taint! Taint! the beast is found."
"He is gone to-day."
"He is gone to-day, but it is possible that he set out last night. When did your brother disappear, Henri?"
"The duke gone!" murmured Monsoreau, paler than ever.
"I do not say he is gone, I say only that he disappeared last night, and that his best friends do not know where he is," said the king.
"Oh!" cried the count, "if I thought so——"
"Well; what should you do? Besides, what harm if he does talk nonsense to Madame de Monsoreau? He is the gallant of the family, you know."
"I am lost!" murmured the count, trying to go away. But Chicot detained him.
"Keep still; mordieu! you shake the king's chair. Mort de ma vie, your wife will be quite happy with the prince to talk to, and M. Aurilly to play the lute to her." Monsoreau trembled with anger.
"Quietly, monsieur," continued Chicot; "hide your joy, here is the business beginning; you should not show your feelings so openly; listen to the discourse of the king."
M. de Monsoreau was forced to keep quiet. M. de Guise entered and knelt before the king, not without throwing an uneasy glance of surprise on the vacant seat of M. d'Anjou. The king rose, and the heralds commanded silence.
HOW THE KING N AXED A CHIEF WHO WAS NEITHER THE DUC DE GUISE NOR M. D'ANJOU.
"Gentlemen," said the king, after assuring himself that his four friends, now replaced by ten Swiss, were behind him, "a king hears equally the voices which come to him from above and from below, that is to say, what is commanded by God, or asked by his people. I understand perfectly that there is a guarantee for my people, in the association of all classes which has been formed to defend the Catholic faith, and therefore I approve of the counsels of my cousin De Guise. I declare, then, the Holy League duly constituted, and as so great a body must have a powerful head, and as it is necessary that the chief called to sustain the Church should be one of its most zealous sons, I choose a Christian prince for the chief, and declare that this chief shall be"—he made a slight pause—"Henri de Valois, King of France and Poland."
The Duc de Guise was thunderstruck. Large drops stood on his forehead, and he looked from one to the other of his brothers. All the leaguers uttered a murmur of surprise and discontent. The cardinal stole up to his brother, and whispered:
"Francois; I fear we are no longer in safety here. Let us haste to take leave, for the populace is uncertain, and the king whom they execrated yesterday, will be their idol for two or three days."
During this time the king had signed the act prepared beforehand by M. de Morvilliers, the only person, with the exception of the queen mother, who was in the secret, then he passed the pen to the Duc de Guise, saying:
"Sign, my cousin; there, below me, now pass it to M. le Cardinal and M. de Mayenne."
But these two had already disappeared. The king remarked their absence, and added, "Then pass the pen to M. de Monsoreau."
The duke did so, and was about to retire, but the king said, "Wait."
And while the others signed, he added, "My cousin, it was your advice, I believe, to guard Paris with a good army, composed of all the forces of the League. The army is made, and the natural general of the Parisians is the king."
"But I do not forget that there is another army to command, and that this belongs of right to the bravest soldier in my kingdom; therefore go and command the army."
"And when am I to set out, sire?"
"Henri, Henri!" whispered Chicot; but, in spite of his signs and grimaces, the king gave the duke his brevet ready signed. He took it and retired, and was soon out of Paris. The rest of the assembly dispersed gradually, crying, "Vive le Roi! and Vive la Ligue!"
"Oh, sire!" cried the favorites, approaching the king, "what a sublime idea you have had!"
"They think that gold is going to rain on them like manna," said Chicot, who followed his master about everywhere with lamentations. As soon as they were left alone, "Ah! M. Chicot!" said Henri, "you are never content. Diable! I do not ask even for complaisance, but for good sense."
"You are right, Henri; it is what you want most."
"Confess I have done well."
"That is just what I do not think."
"Ah! you are jealous, M. Roi de France."
"I! Heaven forbid. I shall choose better subjects for jealousy."
"Oh! what self-love."
"Am I or not king of the League?"
"Certainly you are; but——"
"You are no longer King of France."
"And who is king then?"
"Everybody, except you; firstly, your brother——"
"Yes, M. d'Anjou."
"Whom I hold prisoner."
"Yes, but prisoner as he is, he was consecrated."
"By whom was he consecrated?"
"By the Cardinal de Guise. Really, Henri, you have a fine police. They consecrate a king at Paris before thirty-three people, in the church of St. Genevieve, and you do not know of it!"
"Oh! and you do?"
"Certainly I do."
"How can you know what I do not?"
"Ah! because M. de Morvilliers manages your police, and I am my own."
The king frowned.
"Well, then, without counting Henri de Valois, we have Francois d'Anjou for king," continued Chicot; "and then there is the Duc de Guise."
"The Duc de Guise!"
"Yes, Henri de Guise, Henri le Balfre."
"A fine king! whom I exile, whom I send to the army."
"Good! as if you were not exiled to Poland; and La Charite is nearer to the Louvre than Cracow is. Ah, yes, you send him to the army—that is so clever; that is to say, you put thirty thousand men under his orders, ventre de biche! and a real army, not like your army of the League; no, no, an army of bourgeois is good for Henri de Valois, but Henri de Guise must have an army of soldiers—and what soldiers? hardened warriors, capable of destroying twenty armies of the League; so that if, being king in fact, Henri de Guise had the folly one day to wish to be so in name, he would only have to turn towards the capital, and say, 'Let us swallow Paris, and Henri de Valois and the Louvre at a mouthful,' and the rogues would do it. I know them."
"You forget one thing in your argument, illustrious politician."
"Ah, diable! it is possible! If you mean a fourth king——"
"No; you forget that before thinking of reigning in France, when a Valois is on the throne, it would be necessary to look back and count your ancestors. That such an idea might come to M. d'Anjou is possible; his ancestors are mine, and it is only a question of primogeniture. But M. de Guise!"
"Ah! that is just where you are in error."
"M. de Guise is of a better race than you think."
"Better than me, perhaps," said Henri, smiling.
"There is no perhaps in it."
"You are mad. Learn to read, my friend."
"Well, Henri, you who can read, read this;" and he drew from his pocket the genealogy which we know already, handing it to Henri, who turned pale as he recognized, near to the signature of the prelate, the seal of St. Peter.
"What do you say, Henri? Are not your fleur-de-lys thrown a little in the background?"
"But how did you get this genealogy?"
"I! Do I seek these things? It came to seek me."
"Under the bolster of a lawyer."
"And what was his name?"
"M. Nicolas David."
"Where was he?"
"And who took it from under the bolster?"
"One of my good friends."
"Who is he?"
"What! that abominable leaguer, who uttered those incendiary discourses at St. Genevieve, and again yesterday in the streets of Paris?"
"You remember the history of Brutus, who pretended to be a fool?"
"He is, then, a profound politician? Did he take it from the advocate?"
"Yes, by force."
"Then he is brave?"
"Brave as Bayard."
"And having done this, he has not asked for any recompense?"
"He returned humbly to his convent, and only asks me to forget that he ever came out."
"Then he is modest?"
"As St. Crepin."
"Chicot, your friend shall be made a prior on the first vacancy."
"Thanks for him, Henri."
"Ma foi!" said Chicot to himself, "if he escapes being hung by Mayenne, he will have an abbey."
ETEOCLES AND POLYNICES.
This day of the League terminated brilliantly and tumultuously, as it began. The friends of the king rejoiced, the preachers proposed to canonize Brother Henri, and spoke everywhere of the great deeds of the Valois. The favorites said, "The lion is roused." The leaguers said, "The fox has discovered the snare."
The three Lorraine princes, as we have seen, had left Paris, and their principal agent, M. de Monsoreau, was ready to start for Anjou. But as he was leaving the Louvre, Chicot stopped him.
"Where are you going in such a hurry?" said he.
"To his highness."
"Yes, I am unquiet about him. We do not live in times when a prince ought to travel without a good escort."
"Well, if you are unquiet, so am I."
"About his highness also."
"Do you not know what they say?"
"That he has gone to Anjou."
"No; that he is dead."
"Bah!" said Monsoreau, with a tone of surprise, not unmixed with joy, "you told me he was traveling."
"Diable! they persuaded me so, but now I have good reason to think that if the poor prince be traveling, it is to another world."
"What gives you these mournful ideas?"
"He entered the Louvre yesterday, did he not?"
"Certainly; I came in with him."
"Well! he has never been seen to come out."
"From the Louvre?"
"Where is Aurilly?"
"But his people?"
"You are joking, are you not, M. Chicot?"
"I cannot question his majesty."
"Oh! yes, if you go about it in the right way."
"Well," said the count. "I cannot remain in this uncertainty." And leaving Chicot, he went to the king's apartment.
"Where is the king?" he asked: "I have to render an account to him of the execution of some orders he gave me."
"With M. le Duc d'Anjou," replied the man.
"With the Duke; then he is not dead?"
"I am not so sure of that."
M. de Monsoreau was thoroughly bewildered; for if M. d'Anjou were in the Louvre, his absence on such a day was unaccountable.
Immediately after the sitting, Quelus, Maugiron, Schomberg, and D'Epernon, in spite of the ennui they experienced there, were so anxious to be disagreeable to the duke that they returned to him. He, on his part, was mortally ennuye, as well as anxious, which, it must be confessed, the conversation of these gentlemen was not calculated to remove.
"Do you know, Quelus," said Maugiron, "that it is only now I begin to appreciate our friend Valois; really he is a great politician."
"Explain yourself," said Quelus, who was lounging on a chair.
"While he was afraid of the conspiracy, he kept it quiet; now he speaks of it openly, therefore he is no longer afraid of it."
"If he no longer fears it, he will punish it; you know Valois, he has certainly many good qualities, but clemency is not one of them."
"Then if he punishes these conspirators there will be a trial, and we shall have a fine spectacle."
"Unless, which is possible, on account of the rank of the accused, they arrange it all quietly."
"That would be my advice, certainly; it is better in family affairs."