CHAPTER XXI. THE CONFESSIONAL
It was on the day following the assembly that had taken place in the house of Marion de Lorme. A thick snow covered the roofs of Paris and settled in its large gutters and streets, where it arose in gray heaps, furrowed by the wheels of carriages.
It was eight o'clock, and the night was dark. The tumult of the city was silent on account of the thick carpet the winter had spread for it, and which deadened the sound of the wheels over the stones, and of the feet of men and horses. In a narrow street that winds round the old church of St. Eustache, a man, enveloped in his cloak, slowly walked up and down, constantly watching for the appearance of some one. He often seated himself upon one of the posts of the church, sheltering himself from the falling snow under one of the statues of saints which jutted out from the roof of the building, stretching over the narrow path like birds of prey, which, about to make a stoop, have folded their wings. Often, too, the old man, opening his cloak, beat his arms against his breast to warm himself, or blew upon his fingers, ill protected from the cold by a pair of buff gloves reaching nearly to the elbow. At last he saw a slight shadow gliding along the wall.
"Ah, Santa Maria! what villainous countries are these of the North!" said a woman's voice, trembling. "Ah, the duchy of Mantua! would I were back there again, Grandchamp!"
"Pshaw! don't speak so loud," said the old domestic, abruptly. "The walls of Paris have Cardinalist ears, and more especially the walls of the churches. Has your mistress entered? My master awaits her at the door."
"Yes, yes; she has gone in."
"Be silent," said Grandchamp. "The sound of the clock is cracked. That's a bad sign."
"That clock has sounded the hour of a rendezvous."
"For me, it sounds like a passing-bell. But be silent, Laure; here are three cloaks passing."
They allowed three men to pass. Grandchamp followed them, made sure of the road they took, and returned to his seat, sighing deeply.
"The snow is cold, Laure, and I am old. Monsieur le Grand might have chosen another of his men to keep watch for him while he's making love. It's all very well for you to carry love-letters and ribbons and portraits and such trash, but for me, I ought to be treated with more consideration. Monsieur le Marechal would not have done so. Old domestics give respectability to a house, and should be themselves respected."
"Has your master arrived long, 'caro amico'?"
"Eh, cara, cayo! leave me in peace. We had both been freezing for an hour when you came. I should have had time to smoke three Turkish pipes. Attend to your business, and go and look to the other doors of the church, and see that no suspicious person is prowling about. Since there are but two vedettes, they must beat about well."
"Ah, what a thing it is to have no one to whom to say a friendly word when it is so cold! and my poor mistress! to come on foot all the way from the Hotel de Nevers. Ah, amore! qui regna amore!"
"Come, Italian, wheel about, I tell thee. Let me hear no more of thy musical tongue."
"Ah, Santa Maria! What a harsh voice, dear Grandchamp! You were much more amiable at Chaumont, in Turena, when you talked to me of 'miei occhi neri."
"Hold thy tongue, prattler! Once more, thy Italian is only good for buffoons and rope-dancers, or to accompany the learned dogs."
"Ah, Italia mia! Grandchamp, listen to me, and you shall hear the language of the gods. If you were a gallant man, like him who wrote this for a Laure like me!"
And she began to hum:
Lieti fiori a felici, e ben nate erbe Che Madonna pensando premer sole; Piaggia ch'ascolti su dolci parole E del bel piede alcun vestigio serbe.
The old soldier was but little used to the voice of a young girl; and in general when a woman spoke to him, the tone he assumed in answering always fluctuated between an awkward compliment and an ebullition of temper. But on this occasion he appeared moved by the Italian song, and twisted his moustache, which was always with him a sign of embarrassment and distress. He even omitted a rough sound something like a laugh, and said:
"Pretty enough, 'mordieu!' that recalls to my mind the siege of Casal; but be silent, little one. I have not yet heard the Abbe Quillet come. This troubles me. He ought to have been here before our two young people; and for some time past—"
Laure, who was afraid of being sent alone to the Place St. Eustache, answered that she was quite sure he had gone in, and continued:
"Ombrose selve, ove'percote il sole Che vi fa co'suoi raggi alte a superbe."
"Hum!" said the worthy old soldier, grumbling. "I have my feet in the snow, and a gutter runs down on my head, and there's death at my heart; and you sing to me of violets, of the sun, and of grass, and of love. Be silent!"
And, retiring farther in the recess of the church, he leaned his gray head upon his hands, pensive and motionless. Laure dared not again speak to him.
While her waiting-woman had gone to find Grandchamp, the young and trembling Marie with a timid hand had pushed open the folding-door of the church.
She there found Cinq-Mars standing, disguised, and anxiously awaiting her. As soon as she recognized him, she advanced with rapid steps into the church, holding her velvet mask over her face, and hastened to take refuge in a confessional, while Henri carefully closed the door of the church by which she had entered. He made sure that it could not be opened on the outside, and then followed his betrothed to kneel within the place of penitence. Arrived an hour before her, with his old valet, he had found this open—a certain and understood sign that the Abbe Quillet, his tutor, awaited him at the accustomed place. His care to prevent any surprise had made him remain himself to guard the entrance until the arrival of Marie. Delighted as he was at the punctuality of the good Abbe, he would still scarcely leave his post to thank him. He was a second father to him in all but authority; and he acted toward the good priest without much ceremony.
The old parish church of St. Eustache was dark. Besides the perpetual lamp, there were only four flambeaux of yellow wax, which, attached above the fonts against the principal pillars, cast a red glimmer upon the blue and black marble of the empty church. The light scarcely penetrated the deep niches of the aisles of the sacred building. In one of the chapels—the darkest of them—was the confessional, of which we have before spoken, whose high iron grating and thick double planks left visible only the small dome and the wooden cross. Here, on either side, knelt Cinq-Mars and Marie de Mantua. They could scarcely see each other, but found that the Abbe Quillet, seated between them, was there awaiting them. They could see through the little grating the shadow of his hood. Henri d'Effiat approached slowly; he was regulating, as it were, the remainder of his destiny. It was not before his king that he was about to appear, but before a more powerful sovereign, before her for whom he had undertaken his immense work. He was about to test her faith; and he trembled.
He trembled still more when his young betrothed knelt opposite to him; he trembled, because at the sight of this angel he could not help feeling all the happiness he might lose. He dared not speak first, and remained for an instant contemplating her head in the shade, that young head upon which rested all his hopes. Despite his love, whenever he looked upon her he could not refrain from a kind of dread at having undertaken so much for a girl, whose passion was but a feeble reflection of his own, and who perhaps would not appreciate all the sacrifices he had made for her—bending the firm character of his mind to the compliances of a courtier, condemning it to the intrigues and sufferings of ambition, abandoning it to profound combinations, to criminal meditations, to the gloomy labors of a conspirator.
Hitherto, in their secret interviews, she had always received each fresh intelligence of his progress with the transports of pleasure of a child, but without appreciating the labors of each of these so arduous steps that lead to honors, and always asking him with naivete when he would be Constable, and when they should marry, as if she were asking him when he would come to the Caroussel, or whether the weather was fine. Hitherto, he had smiled at these questions and this ignorance, pardonable at eighteen, in a girl born to a throne and accustomed to a grandeur natural to her, which she found around her on her entrance into life; but now he made more serious reflections upon this character. And when, but just quitting the imposing assembly of conspirators, representatives of all the orders of the kingdom, his ear, wherein still resounded the masculine voices that had sworn to undertake a vast war, was struck with the first words of her for whom that war was commenced, he feared for the first time lest this naivete should be in reality simple levity, not coming from the heart. He resolved to sound it.
"Oh, heavens! how I tremble, Henri!" she said as she entered the confessional; "you make me come without guards, without a coach. I always tremble lest I should be seen by my people coming out of the Hotel de Nevers. How much longer must I yet conceal myself like a criminal? The Queen was very angry when I avowed the matter to her; and whenever she speaks to me of it, 'tis with her severe air that you know, and which always makes me weep. Oh, I am terribly afraid!"
She was silent; Cinq-Mars replied only with a deep sigh.
"How! you do not speak to me!" she said.
"Are these, then, all your terrors?" asked Cinq-Mars, bitterly.
"Can I have greater? Oh, 'mon ami', in what a tone, with what a voice, do you address me! Are you angry because I came too late?"
"Too soon, Madame, much too soon, for the things you are to hear—for I see you are far from prepared for them."
Marie, affected at the gloomy and bitter tone of his voice, began to weep.
"Alas, what have I done," she said, "that you should call me Madame, and treat me thus harshly?"
"Be tranquil," replied Cinq-Mars, but with irony in his tone. "'Tis not, indeed, you who are guilty; but I—I alone; not toward you, but for you."
"Have you done wrong, then? Have you ordered the death of any one? Oh, no, I am sure you have not, you are so good!"
"What!" said Cinq-Mars, "are you as nothing in my designs? Did I misconstrue your thoughts when you looked at me in the Queen's boudoir? Can I no longer read in your eyes? Was the fire which animated them that of a love for Richelieu? That admiration which you promised to him who should dare to say all to the King, where is it? Is it all a falsehood?"
Marie burst into tears.
"You still speak to me with bitterness," she said; "I have not deserved it. Do you suppose, because I speak not of this fearful conspiracy, that I have forgotten it? Do you not see me miserable at the thought? Must you see my tears? Behold them; I shed enough in secret. Henri, believe that if I have avoided this terrible subject in our last interviews, it is from the fear of learning too much. Have I any other thought that that of your dangers? Do I not know that it is for me you incur them? Alas! if you fight for me, have I not also to sustain attacks no less cruel? Happier than I, you have only to combat hatred, while I struggle against friendship. The Cardinal will oppose to you men and weapons; but the Queen, the gentle Anne of Austria, employs only tender advice, caresses, sometimes tears."
"Touching and invincible constraint to make you accept a throne," said Cinq-Mars, bitterly. "I well conceive you must need some efforts to resist such seductions; but first, Madame, I must release you from your vows."
"Alas, great Heaven! what is there, then, against us?"
"There is God above us, and against us," replied Henri, in a severe tone; "the King has deceived me."
There was an agitated movement on the part of the Abbe.
Marie exclaimed, "I foresaw it; this is the misfortune I dreamed and dreamed of! It is I who caused it?"
"He deceived me, as he pressed my hand," continued Cinq-Mars; "he betrayed me by the villain Joseph, whom an offer has been made to me to poniard."
The Abbe gave a start of horror which half opened the door of the confessional.
"O father, fear nothing," said Henri d'Effiat; "your pupil will never strike such blows. Those I prepare will be heard from afar, and the broad day will light them up; but there remains a duty—a sacred duty—for me to fulfil. Behold your son sacrifice himself before you! Alas! I have not lived long in the sight of happiness, and I am about, perhaps, to destroy it by your hand, that consecrated it."
As he spoke, he opened the light grating which separated him from his old tutor; the latter, still observing an extraordinary silence, passed his hood over his forehead.
"Restore this nuptial ring to the Duchesse de Mantua," said Cinq-Mars, in a tone less firm; "I can not keep it unless she give it me a second time, for I am not the same whom she promised to espouse."
The priest hastily seized the ring, and passed it through the opposite grating; this mark of indifference astonished Cinq-Mars.
"What! Father," he said, "are you also changed?"
Marie wept no longer; but, raising her angelic voice, which awakened a faint echo along the aisles of the church, as the softest sigh of the organ, she said, returning the ring to Cinq-Mars:
"O dearest, be not angry! I comprehend you not. Can we break asunder what God has just united, and can I leave you, when I know you are unhappy? If the King no longer loves you, at least you may be assured he will not harm you, since he has not harmed the Cardinal, whom he never loved. Do you think yourself undone, because he is perhaps unwilling to separate from his old servant? Well, let us await the return of his friendship; forget these conspirators, who affright me. If they give up hope, I shall thank Heaven, for then I shall no longer tremble for you. Why needlessly afflict ourselves? The Queen loves us, and we are both very young; let us wait. The future is beautiful, since we are united and sure of ourselves. Tell me what the King said to you at Chambord. I followed you long with my eyes. Heavens! how sad to me was that hunting party!"
"He has betrayed me, I tell you," answered Cinq-Mars. "Yet who could have believed it, that saw him press our hands, turning from his brother to me, and to the Duc de Bouillon, making himself acquainted with the minutest details of the conspiracy, of the very day on which Richelieu was to be arrested at Lyons, fixing himself the place of his exile (our party desired his death, but the recollection of my father made me ask his life). The King said that he himself would direct the whole affair at Perpignan; yet just before, Joseph, that foul spy, had issued from out of the cabinet du Lys. O Marie! shall I own it? at the moment I heard this, my very soul was tossed. I doubted everything; it seemed to me that the centre of the world was unhinged when I found truth quit the heart of the King. I saw our whole edifice crumble to the ground; another hour, and the conspiracy would vanish away, and I should lose you forever. One means remained; I employed it."
"What means?" said Marie.
"The treaty with Spain was in my hand; I signed it."
"Ah, heavens! destroy it."
"It is gone."
"Who bears it?"
"He will, ere this, have passed the defiles of Oleron," said Cinq-Mars, rising up. "All is ready at Madrid, all at Sedan. Armies await me, Marie—armies! Richelieu is in the midst of them. He totters; it needs but one blow to overthrow him, and you are mine forever—forever the wife of the triumphant Cinq-Mars."
"Of Cinq-Mars the rebel," she said, sighing.
"Well, have it so, the rebel; but no longer the favorite. Rebel, criminal, worthy of the scaffold, I know it," cried the impassioned youth, falling on his knees; "but a rebel for love, a rebel for you, whom my sword will at last achieve for me."
"Alas, a sword imbrued in the blood of your country! Is it not a poniard?"
"Pause! for pity, pause, Marie! Let kings abandon me, let warriors forsake me, I shall only be the more firm; but a word from you will vanquish me, and once again the time for reflection will be passed from me. Yes, I am a criminal; and that is why I still hesitate to think myself worthy of you. Abandon me, Marie; take back the ring."
"I can not," she said; "for I am your wife, whatever you be."
"You hear her, father!" exclaimed Cinq-Mars, transported with happiness; "bless this second union, the work of devotion, even more beautiful than that of love. Let her be mine while I live."
Without answering, the Abbe opened the door of the confessional and had quitted the church ere Cinq-Mars had time to rise and follow him.
"Where are you going? What is the matter?" he cried.
But no one answered.
"Do not call out, in the name of Heaven!" said Marie, "or I am lost; he has doubtless heard some one in the church."
But D'Effiat, agitated, and without answering her, rushed forth, and sought his late tutor through the church, but in vain. Drawing his sword, he proceeded to the entrance which Grandchamp had to guard; he called him and listened.
"Now let him go," said a voice at the corner of the street; and at the same moment was heard the galloping of horses.
"Grandchamp, wilt thou answer?" cried Cinq-Mars.
"Help, Henri, my dear boy!" exclaimed the voice of the Abbe Quillet.
"Whence come you? You endanger me," said the grand ecuyer, approaching him.
But he saw that his poor tutor, without a hat in the falling snow, was in a most deplorable condition.
"They stopped me, and they robbed me," he cried. "The villains, the assassins! they prevented me from calling out; they stopped my mouth with a handkerchief."
At this noise, Grandchamp at length came, rubbing his eyes, like one just awakened. Laure, terrified, ran into the church to her mistress; all hastily followed her to reassure Marie, and then surrounded the old Abbe.
"The villains! they bound my hands, as you see. There were more than twenty of them; they took from me the key of the side door of the church."
"How! just now?" said Cinq-Mars; "and why did you quit us?"
"Quit you! why, they have kept me there two hours."
"Two hours!" cried Henri, terrified.
"Ah, miserable old man that I am!" said Grandchamp; "I have slept while my master was in danger. It is the first time."
"You were not with us, then, in the confessional?" continued Cinq-Mars, anxiously, while Marie tremblingly pressed against his arm.
"What!" said the Abbe, "did you not see the rascal to whom they gave my key?"
"No! whom?" cried all at once.
"Father Joseph," answered the good priest.
"Fly! you are lost!" cried Marie.
CHAPTER XXII. THE STORM
'Blow, blow, thou winter wind; Thou art not so unkind As man's ingratitude. Thy tooth is not so keen, Because thou art not seen, Although thy breath be rude. Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly. Most friendship is feigning; most loving mere folly.'
Amid that long and superb chain of the Pyrenees which forms the embattled isthmus of the peninsula, in the centre of those blue pyramids, covered in gradation with snow, forests, and downs, there opens a narrow defile, a path cut in the dried-up bed of a perpendicular torrent; it circulates among rocks, glides under bridges of frozen snow, twines along the edges of inundated precipices to scale the adjacent mountains of Urdoz and Oleron, and at last rising over their unequal ridges, turns their nebulous peak into a new country which has also its mountains and its depths, and, quitting France, descends into Spain. Never has the hoof of the mule left its trace in these windings; man himself can with difficulty stand upright there, even with the hempen boots which can not slip, and the hook of the pikestaff to force into the crevices of the rocks.
In the fine summer months the 'pastour', in his brown cape, and his black long-bearded ram lead hither flocks, whose flowing wool sweeps the turf. Nothing is heard in these rugged places but the sound of the large bells which the sheep carry, and whose irregular tinklings produce unexpected harmonies, casual gamuts, which astonish the traveller and delight the savage and silent shepherd. But when the long month of September comes, a shroud of snow spreads itself from the peak of the mountains down to their base, respecting only this deeply excavated path, a few gorges open by torrents, and some rocks of granite, which stretch out their fantastical forms, like the bones of a buried world.
It is then that light troops of chamois make their appearance, with their twisted horns extending over their backs, spring from rock to rock as if driven before the wind, and take possession of their aerial desert. Flights of ravens and crows incessantly wheel round and round in the gulfs and natural wells which they transform into dark dovecots, while the brown bear, followed by her shaggy family, who sport and tumble around her in the snow, slowly descends from their retreat invaded by the frost. But these are neither the most savage nor the most cruel inhabitants that winter brings into these mountains; the daring smuggler raises for himself a dwelling of wood on the very boundary of nature and of politics. There unknown treaties, secret exchanges, are made between the two Navarres, amid fogs and winds.
It was in this narrow path on the frontiers of France that, about two months after the scenes we have witnessed in Paris, two travellers, coming from Spain, stopped at midnight, fatigued and dismayed. They heard musket-shots in the mountain.
"The scoundrels! how they have pursued us!" said one of them. "I can go no farther; but for you I should have been taken."
"And you will be taken still, as well as that infernal paper, if you lose your time in words; there is another volley on the rock of Saint Pierre-de-L'Aigle. Up there, they suppose we have gone in the direction of the Limacon; but, below, they will see the contrary. Descend; it is doubtless a patrol hunting smugglers. Descend."
"But how? I can not see."
"Never mind, descend. Take my arm."
"Hold me; my boots slip," said the first traveller, stamping on the edge of the rock to make sure of the solidity of the ground before trusting himself upon it.
"Go on; go on!" said the other, pushing him. "There's one of the rascals passing over our heads."
And, in fact, the shadow of a man, armed with a long gun, was reflected on the snow. The two adventurers stood motionless. The man passed on. They continued their descent.
"They will take us," said the one who was supporting the other. "They have turned us. Give me your confounded parchment. I wear the dress of a smuggler, and I can pass for one seeking an asylum among them; but you would have no resource with your laced dress."
"You are right," said his companion; and, resting his foot against the edge of the rock, and reclining on the slope, he gave him a roll of hollow wood.
A gun was fired, and a ball buried itself, hissing, in the snow at their feet.
"Marked!" said the first. "Roll down. If you are not dead when you get to the bottom, take the road you see before you. On the left of the hollow is Santa Maria. But turn to the right; cross Oleron; and you are on the road to Pau and are saved. Go; roll down."
As he spoke, he pushed his comrade, and without condescending to look after him, and himself neither ascending nor descending, followed the flank of the mountain horizontally, hanging on by rocks, branches, and even by plants, with the strength and energy of a wild-cat, and soon found himself on firm ground before a small wooden hut, through which a light was visible. The adventurer went all around it, like a hungry wolf round a sheepfold, and, applying his eye to one of the openings, apparently saw what determined him, for without further hesitation he pushed the tottering door, which was not even fastened by a latch. The whole but shook with the blow he had given it. He then saw that it was divided into two cabins by a partition. A large flambeau of yellow wax lighted the first. There, a young girl, pale and fearfully thin, was crouched in a corner on the damp floor, just where the melted snow ran under the planks of the cottage. Very long black hair, entangled and covered with dust, fell in disorder over her coarse brown dress; the red hood of the Pyrenees covered her head and shoulders. Her eyes were cast down; and she was spinning with a small distaff attached to her waist. The entry of a man did not appear to move her in the least.
"Ha! La moza,—[girl]—get up and give me something to drink. I am tired and thirsty."
The young girl did not answer, and, without raising her eyes, continued to spin assiduously.
"Dost hear?" said the stranger, thrusting her with his foot. "Go and tell thy master that a friend wishes to see him; but first give me some drink. I shall sleep here."
She answered, in a hoarse voice, still spinning:
"I drink the snow that melts on the rock, or the green scum that floats on the water of the swamp. But when I have spun well, they give me water from the iron spring. When I sleep, the cold lizards crawl over my face; but when I have well cleaned a mule, they throw me hay. The hay is warm; the hay is good and warm. I put it under my marble feet."
"What tale art thou telling me?" said Jacques. "I spoke not of thee."
"They make me hold a man while they kill him. Oh, what blood I have had on my hands! God forgive them!—if that be possible. They make me hold his head, and the bucket filled with crimson water. O Heaven!—I, who was the bride of God! They throw their bodies into the abyss of snow; but the vulture finds them; he lines his nest with their hair. I now see thee full of life; I shall see thee bloody, pale, and dead."
The adventurer, shrugging his shoulders, began to whistle as he passed the second door. Within he found the man he had seen through the chinks of the cabin. He wore the blue berret cap of the Basques on one side, and, enveloped in an ample cloak, seated on the pack-saddle of a mule, and bending over a large brazier, smoked a cigar, and from time to time drank from a leather bottle at his side. The light of the brazier showed his full yellow face, as well as the chamber, in which mule-saddles were ranged round the byasero as seats. He raised his head without altering his position.
"Oh, oh! is it thou, Jacques?" he said. "Is it thou? Although 'tis four years since I saw thee, I recognize thee. Thou art not changed, brigand! There 'tis still, thy great knave's face. Sit down there, and take a drink."
"Yes, here I am. But how the devil camest thou here? I thought thou wert a judge, Houmain!"
"And I thought thou wert a Spanish captain, Jacques!"
"Ah! I was so for a time, and then a prisoner. But I got out of the thing very snugly, and have taken again to the old trade, the free life, the good smuggling work."
"Viva! viva! Jaleo!"—[A common Spanish oath.]—cried Houmain. "We brave fellows can turn our hands to everything. Thou camest by the other passes, I suppose, for I have not seen thee since I returned to the trade."
"Yes, yes; I have passed where thou wilt never pass," said Jacques.
"And what hast got?"
"A new merchandise. My mules will come tomorrow."
"Silk sashes, cigars, or linen?"
"Thou wilt know in time, amigo," said the ruffian. "Give me the skin. I'm thirsty."
"Here, drink. It's true Valdepenas! We're so jolly here, we bandoleros! Ay! jaleo! jaleo! come, drink; our friends are coming."
"What friends?" said Jacques, dropping the horn.
"Don't be uneasy, but drink. I'll tell thee all about it presently, and then we'll sing the Andalusian Tirana."—[A kind of ballad.]
The adventurer took the horn, and assumed an appearance of ease.
"And who's that great she-devil I saw out there?" he said. "She seems half dead."
"Oh, no! she's only mad. Drink; I'll tell thee all about her."
And taking from his red sash a long poniard denticulated on each side like a saw, Houmain used it to stir up the fire, and said with vast gravity:
"Thou must know first, if thou dost not know it already, that down below there [he pointed toward France] the old wolf Richelieu carries all before him."
"Ah, ah!" said Jacques.
"Yes; they call him the king of the King. Thou knowest? There is, however, a young man almost as strong as he, and whom they call Monsieur le Grand. This young fellow commands almost the whole army of Perpignan at this moment. He arrived there a month ago; but the old fox is still at Narbonne—a very cunning fox, indeed. As to the King, he is sometimes this, sometimes that [as he spoke, Houmain turned his hand outward and inward], between zist and zest; but while he is determining, I am for zist—that is to say, I'm a Cardinalist. I've been regularly doing business for my lord since the first job he gave me, three years ago. I'll tell thee about it. He wanted some men of firmness and spirit for a little expedition, and sent for me to be judge-Advocate."
"Ah! a very pretty post, I've heard."
"Yes, 'tis a trade like ours, where they sell cord instead of thread; but it is less honest, for they kill men oftener. But 'tis also more profitable; everything has its price."
"Very properly so," said Jacques.
"Behold me, then, in a red robe. I helped to give a yellow one and brimstone to a fine fellow, who was cure at Loudun, and who had got into a convent of nuns, like a wolf in a fold; and a fine thing he made of it."
"Ha, ha, ha! That's very droll!" laughed Jacques. "Drink," said Houmain. "Yes, Jago, I saw him after the affair, reduced to a little black heap like this charcoal. See, this charcoal at the end of my poniard. What things we are! That's just what we shall all come to when we go to the Devil."
"Oh, none of these pleasantries!" said the other, very gravely. "You know that I am religious."
"Well, I don't say no; it may be so," said Houmain, in the same tone. "There's Richelieu, a Cardinal! But, no matter. Thou must know, then, as I was Advocate-General, I advocated—"
"Ah, thou art quite a wit!"
"Yes, a little. But, as I was saying, I advocated into my own pocket five hundred piastres, for Armand Duplessis pays his people well, and there's nothing to be said against that, except that the money's not his own; but that's the way with us all. I determined to invest this money in our old trade; and I returned here. Business goes on well. There is sentence of death out against us; and our goods, of course, sell for half as much again as before."
"What's that?" exclaimed Jacques; "lightning at this time of year?"
"Yes, the storms are beginning; we've had two already. We are in the clouds. Dost hear the roll of the thunder? But this is nothing; come, drink. 'Tis almost one in the morning; we'll finish the skin and the night together. As I was telling thee, I made acquaintance with our president—a great scoundrel called Laubardemont. Dost know him?"
"Yes, a little," said Jacques; "he's a regular miser. But never mind that; go on."
"Well, as we had nothing to conceal from one another, I told him of my little commercial plans, and asked him, when any good jobs presented themselves, to think of his judicial comrade; and I've had no cause to complain of him."
"Ah!" said Jacques, "and what has he done?"
"Why, first, two years ago, he himself brought, me, on horseback behind him, his niece that thou'st seen out there."
"His niece!" cried Jacques, rising; "and thou treat'st her like a slave! Demonio!"
"Drink," said Houmain, quietly stirring the brazier with his poniard; "he himself desired it should be so. Sit down."
Jacques did so.
"I don't think," continued the smuggler, "that he'd even be sorry to know that she was—dost understand?—to hear she was under the snow rather than above it; but he would not put her there himself, because he's a good relative, as he himself said."
"And as I know," said Jacques; "but go on."
"Thou mayst suppose that a man like him, who lives at court, does not like to have a mad niece in his house. The thing is self-evident; if I'd continued to play my part of the man of the robe, I should have done the same in a similar case. But here, as you perceive, we don't care much for appearances; and I've taken her for a servant. She has shown more good sense than I expected, although she has rarely ever spoken more than a single word, and at first came the delicate over us. Now she rubs down a mule like a groom. She has had a slight fever for the last few days; but 'twill pass off one way or the other. But, I say, don't tell Laubardemont that she still lives; he'd think 'twas for the sake of economy I've kept her for a servant."
"How! is he here?" cried Jacques.
"Drink!" replied the phlegmatic Houmain, who himself set the example most assiduously, and began to half shut his eyes with a languishing air. "'Tis the second transaction I've had with this Laubardemont—or demon, or whatever the name is; but 'tis a good devil of a demon, at all events. I love him as I do my eyes; and I will drink his health out of this bottle of Jurangon here. 'Tis the wine of a jolly fellow, the late King Henry. How happy we are here!—Spain on the right hand, France on the left; the wine-skin on one side, the bottle on the other! The bottle! I've left all for the bottle!"
As he spoke, he knocked off the neck of a bottle of white wine. After taking a long draught, he continued, while the stranger closely watched him:
"Yes, he's here; and his feet must be rather cold, for he's been waiting about the mountains ever since sunset, with his guards and our comrades. Thou knowest our bandoleros, the true contrabandistas?"
"Ah! and what do they hunt?" said Jacques.
"Ah, that's the joke!" answered the drunkard. "'Tis to arrest two rascals, who want to bring here sixty thousand Spanish soldiers in paper in their pocket. You don't, perhaps, quite understand me, 'croquant'. Well, 'tis as I tell thee—in their own pockets."
"Ay, ay! I understand," said Jacques, loosening his poniard in his sash, and looking at the door.
"Very well, devil's-skin, let's sing the Tirana. Take the bottle, throw away the cigar, and sing."
With these words the drunken host began to sing in Spanish, interrupting his song with bumpers, which he threw down his throat, leaning back for the greater ease, while Jacques, still seated, looked at him gloomily by the light of the brazier, and meditated what he should do.
A flash of lightning entered the small window, and filled the room with a sulphurous odor. A fearful clap immediately followed; the cabin shook; and a beam fell outside.
"Hallo, the house!" cried the drunken man; "the Devil's among us; and our friends are not come!"
"Sing!" said Jacques, drawing the pack upon which he was close to that of Houmain.
The latter drank to encourage himself, and then continued to sing.
As he ended, he felt his seat totter, and fell backward; Jacques, thus freed from him, sprang toward the door, when it opened, and his head struck against the cold, pale face of the mad-woman. He recoiled.
"The judge!" she said, as she entered; and she fell prostrate on the cold ground.
Jacques had already passed one foot over her; but another face appeared, livid and surprised-that of a very tall man, enveloped in a cloak covered with snow. He again recoiled, and laughed a laugh of terror and rage. It was Laubardemont, followed by armed men; they looked at one another.
"Ah, com-r-a-d-e, yo-a ra-a-scal!" hiccuped Houmain, rising with difficulty; "thou'rt a Royalist."
But when he saw these two men, who seemed petrified by each other, he became silent, as conscious of his intoxication; and he reeled forward to raise up the madwoman, who was still lying between the judge and the Captain. The former spoke first.
"Are you not he we have been pursuing?"
"It is he!" said the armed men, with one voice; "the other has escaped."
Jacques receded to the split planks that formed the tottering wall of the hut; enveloping himself in his cloak, like a bear forced against a tree by the hounds, and, wishing to gain a moment's respite for reflection, he said, firmly:
"The first who passes that brazier and the body of that girl is a dead man."
And he drew a long poniard from his cloak. At this moment Houmain, kneeling, turned the head of the girl. Her eyes were closed; he drew her toward the brazier, which lighted up her face.
"Ah, heavens!" cried Laubardemont, forgetting himself in his fright; "Jeanne again!"
"Be calm, my lo-lord," said Houmain, trying to open the eyelids, which closed again, and to raise her head, which fell back again like wet linen; "be, be—calm! Do-n't ex-cite yourself; she's dead, decidedly."
Jacques put his foot on the body as on a barrier, and, looking with a ferocious laugh in the face of Laubardemont, said to him in a low voice:
"Let me pass, and I will not compromise thee, courtier; I will not tell that she was thy niece, and that I am thy son."
Laubardemont collected himself, looked at his men, who pressed around him with advanced carabines; and, signing them to retire a few steps, he answered in a very low voice:
"Give me the treaty, and thou shalt pass."
"Here it is, in my girdle; touch it, and I will call you my father aloud. What will thy master say?"
"Give it me, and I will spare thy life."
"Let me pass, and I will pardon thy having given me that life."
"Still the same, brigand?"
"What matters to thee that boy conspirator?" asked the judge.
"What matters to thee that old man who reigns?" answered the other.
"Give me that paper; I've sworn to have it."
"Leave it with me; I've sworn to carry it back."
"What can be thy oath and thy God?" demanded Laubardemont.
"And thine?" replied Jacques. "Is't the crucifix of red-hot iron?"
Here Houmain, rising between them, laughing and staggering, said to the judge, slapping him on the shoulder.
"You are a long time coming to an understanding, friend; do-on't you know him of old? He's a very good fellow."
"I? no!" cried Laubardemont, aloud; "I never saw him before."
At this moment, Jacques, who was protected by the drunkard and the smallness of the crowded chamber, sprang violently against the weak planks that formed the wall, and by a blow of his heel knocked two of them out, and passed through the space thus created. The whole side of the cabin was broken; it tottered, and the wind rushed in.
"Hallo! Demonio! Santo Demonio! where art going?" cried the smuggler; "thou art breaking my house down, and on the side of the ravine, too."
All cautiously approached, tore away the planks that remained, and leaned over the abyss. They contemplated a strange spectacle. The storm raged in all its fury; and it was a storm of the Pyrenees. Enormous flashes of lightning came all at once from all parts of the horizon, and their fires succeeded so quickly that there seemed no interval; they appeared to be a continuous flash. It was but rarely the flaming vault would suddenly become obscure; and it then instantly resumed its glare. It was not the light that seemed strange on this night, but the darkness.
The tall thin peaks and whitened rocks stood out from the red background like blocks of marble on a cupola of burning brass, and resembled, amid the snows, the wonders of a volcano; the waters gushed from them like flames; the snow poured down like dazzling lava.
In this moving mass a man was seen struggling, whose efforts only involved him deeper and deeper in the whirling and liquid gulf; his knees were already buried. In vain he clasped his arms round an enormous pyramidal and transparent icicle, which reflected the lightning like a rock of crystal; the icicle itself was melting at its base, and slowly bending over the declivity of the rock. Under the covering of snow, masses of granite were heard striking against each other, as they descended into the vast depths below. Yet they could still save him; a space of scarcely four feet separated him from Laubardemont.
"I sink!" he cried; "hold out to me something, and thou shalt have the treaty."
"Give it me, and I will reach thee this musket," said the judge.
"There it is," replied the ruffian, "since the Devil is for Richelieu!" and taking one hand from the hold of his slippery support, he threw a roll of wood into the cabin. Laubardemont rushed back upon the treaty like a wolf on his prey. Jacques in vain held out his arm; he slowly glided away with the enormous thawing block turned upon him, and was silently buried in the snow.
"Ah, villain," were his last words, "thou hast deceived me! but thou didst not take the treaty from me. I gave it thee, Father!" and he disappeared wholly under the thick white bed of snow. Nothing was seen in his place but the glittering flakes which the lightning had ploughed up, as it became extinguished in them; nothing was—heard but the rolling of the thunder and the dash of the water against the rocks, for the men in the half-ruined cabin, grouped round a corpse and a villain, were silent, tongue-tied with horror, and fearing lest God himself should send a thunderbolt upon them.
CHAPTER XXIII. ABSENCE
L'absence est le plus grand des maux, Non pas pour vous, cruelle!
Who has not found a charm in watching the clouds of heaven as they float along? Who has not envied them the freedom of their journeyings through the air, whether rolled in great masses by the wind, and colored by the sun, they advance peacefully, like fleets of dark ships with gilt prows, or sprinkled in light groups, they glide quickly on, airy and elongated, like birds of passage, transparent as vast opals detached from the treasury of the heavens, or glittering with whiteness, like snows from the mountains carried on the wings of the winds? Man is a slow traveller who envies those rapid journeyers; less rapid than his imagination, they have yet seen in a single day all the places he loves, in remembrance or in hope,—those that have witnessed his happiness or his misery, and those so beautiful countries unknown to us, where we expect to find everything at once. Doubtless there is not a spot on the whole earth, a wild rock, an arid plain, over which we pass with indifference, that has not been consecrated in the life of some man, and is not painted in his remembrance; for, like battered vessels, before meeting inevitable wreck, we leave some fragment of ourselves on every rock.
Whither go the dark-blue clouds of that storm of the Pyrenees? It is the wind of Africa which drives them before it with a fiery breath. They fly; they roll over one another, growlingly throwing out lightning before them, as their torches, and leaving suspended behind them a long train of rain, like a vaporous robe. Freed by an effort from the rocky defiles that for a moment had arrested their course, they irrigate, in Bearn, the picturesque patrimony of Henri IV; in Guienne, the conquests of Charles VII; in Saintogne, Poitou, and Touraine, those of Charles V and of Philip Augustus; and at last, slackening their pace above the old domain of Hugh Capet, halt murmuring on the towers of St. Germain.
"O Madame!" exclaimed Marie de Mantua to the Queen, "do you see this storm coming up from the south?"
"You often look in that direction, 'ma chere'," answered Anne of Austria, leaning on the balcony.
"It is the direction of the sun, Madame."
"And of tempests, you see," said the Queen. "Trust in my friendship, my child; these clouds can bring no happiness to you. I would rather see you turn your eyes toward Poland. See the fine people you might command."
At this moment, to avoid the rain, which began to fall, the Prince-Palatine passed rapidly under the windows of the Queen, with a numerous suite of young Poles on horseback. Their Turkish vests, with buttons of diamonds, emeralds, and rubies; their green and gray cloaks; the lofty plumes of their horses, and their adventurous air-gave them a singular eclat to which the court had easily become accustomed. They paused for a moment, and the Prince made two salutes, while the light animal he rode passed gracefully sideways, keeping his front toward the princesses; prancing and snorting, he shook his mane, and seemed to salute by putting his head between his legs. The whole suite repeated the evolution as they passed. The Princesse Marie had at first shrunk back, lest they should see her tears; but the brilliant and flattering spectacle made her return to the balcony, and she could not help exclaiming:
"How gracefully the Palatine rides that beautiful horse! he seems scarce conscious of it."
The Queen smiled, and said:
"He is conscious about her who might be his queen tomorrow, if she would but make a sign of the head, and let but one glance from her great black almond-shaped eyes be turned on that throne, instead of always receiving these poor foreigners with poutings, as now."
And Anne of Austria kissed the cheek of Marie, who could not refrain from smiling also; but she instantly sunk her head, reproaching herself, and resumed her sadness, which seemed gliding from her. She even needed once more to contemplate the great clouds that hung over the chateau.
"Poor child," continued the Queen, "thou dost all thou canst to be very faithful, and to keep thyself in the melancholy of thy romance. Thou art making thyself ill with weeping when thou shouldst be asleep, and with not eating. Thou passest the night in revery and in writing; but I warn thee, thou wilt get nothing by it, except making thyself thin and less beautiful, and the not being a queen. Thy Cinq-Mars is an ambitious youth, who has lost himself."
Seeing Marie conceal her head in her handkerchief to weep, Anne of Austria for a moment reentered her chamber, leaving Marie in the balcony, and feigned to be looking for some jewels at her toilet-table; she soon returned, slowly and gravely, to the window. Marie was more calm, and was gazing sorrowfully at the landscape before her, the hills in the distance, and the storm gradually spreading itself.
The Queen resumed in a more serious tone:
"God has been more merciful to you than your imprudence perhaps deserved, Marie. He has saved you from great danger. You were willing to make great sacrifices, but fortunately they have not been accomplished as you expected. Innocence has saved you from love. You are as one who, thinking she has swallowed a deadly poison, has in reality drunk only pure and harmless water."
"Ah, Madame, what mean you? Am I not unhappy enough already?"
"Do not interrupt me," said the Queen; "you will, ere long, see your present position with different eyes. I will not accuse you of ingratitude toward the Cardinal; I have too many reasons for not liking him. I myself witnessed the rise of the conspiracy. Still, you should remember, 'ma chere', that he was the only person in France who, against the opinion of the Queen-mother and of the court, insisted upon war with the duchy of Mantua, which he recovered from the empire and from Spain, and returned to the Duc de Nevers, your father. Here, in this very chateau of Saint-Germain, was signed the treaty which deposed the Duke of Guastalla.—[The 19th of May, 1632.]—You were then very young; they must, however, have told you of it. Yet here, through love alone (I am willing to believe, with yourself, that it is so), a young man of two-and-twenty is ready to get him assassinated."
"O Madame, he is incapable of such a deed. I swear to you that he has refused to adopt it."
"I have begged you, Marie, to let me speak. I know that he is generous and loyal. I am willing to believe that, contrary to the custom of our times, he would not go so far as to kill an old man, as did the Chevalier de Guise. But can he prevent his assassination, if his troops make him prisoner? This we can not say, any more than he. God alone knows the future. It is, at all events, certain that it is for you he attacks him, and, to overthrow him, is preparing civil war, which perhaps is bursting forth at the very moment that we speak—a war without success. Whichever way it turns, it can only effect evil, for Monsieur is going to abandon the conspiracy."
"Listen to me. I tell you I am certain of it; I need not explain myself further. What will the grand ecuyer do? The King, as he rightly anticipated, has gone to consult the Cardinal. To consult him is to yield to him; but the treaty of Spain is signed. If it be discovered, what can Monsieur de Cinq-Mars do? Do not tremble thus. We will save him; we will save his life, I promise you. There is yet time, I hope."
"Ah, Madame, you hope! I am lost!" cried Marie, half fainting.
"Let us sit down," said the Queen; and, placing herself near Marie, at the entrance to the chamber, she continued:
"Doubtless Monsieur will treat for all the conspirators in treating for himself; but exile will be the least punishment, perpetual exile. Behold, then, the Duchesse de Nevers and Mantua, the Princesse Marie de Gonzaga, the wife of Monsieur Henri d'Effiat, Marquis de Cinq-Mars, exiled!"
"Well, Madame, I will follow him into exile. It is my duty; I am his wife!" exclaimed Marie, sobbing. "I would I knew he were already banished and in safety."
"Dreams of eighteen!" said the Queen, supporting Marie. "Awake, child, awake! you must. I deny not the good qualities of Monsieur de Cinq-Mars. He has a lofty character, a vast mind, and great courage; but he may no longer be aught for you, and, fortunately, you are not his wife, or even his betrothed."
"I am his, Madame-his alone."
"But without the benediction," replied Anne of Austria; "in a word, without marriage. No priest would have dared—not even your own; he told me so. Be silent!" she added, putting her two beautiful hands on Marie's lips. "Be silent! You would say that God heard your vow; that you can not live without him; that your destinies are inseparable from his; that death alone can break your union? The phrases of your age, delicious chimeras of a moment, at which one day you will smile, happy at not having to lament them all your life. Of the many and brilliant women you see around me at court, there is not one but at your age had some beautiful dream of love, like this of yours, who did not form those ties, which they believed indissoluble, and who did not in secret take eternal oaths. Well, these dreams are vanished, these knots broken, these oaths forgotten; and yet you see them happy women and mothers. Surrounded by the honors of their rank, they laugh and dance every night. I again divine what you would say—they loved not as you love, eh? You deceive yourself, my dear child; they loved as much, and wept no less.
"And here I must make you acquainted with that great mystery which constitutes your despair, since you are ignorant of the malady that devours you. We have a twofold existence, 'm'amie': our internal life, that of our feelings powerfully works within us, while the external life dominates despite ourselves. We are never independent of men, more especially in an elevated condition. Alone, we think ourselves mistresses of our destiny; but the entrance of two or three people fastens on all our chains, by recalling our rank and our retinue. Nay; shut yourself up and abandon yourself to all the daring and extraordinary resolutions that the passions may raise up in you, to the marvellous sacrifices they may suggest to you. A lackey coming and asking your orders will at once break the charm and bring you back to your real life. It is this contest between your projects and your position which destroys you. You are invariably angry with yourself; you bitterly reproach yourself."
Marie turned away her head.
"Yes, you believe yourself criminal. Pardon yourself, Marie; all men are beings so relative and so dependent one upon another that I know not whether the great retreats of the world that we sometimes see are not made for the world itself. Despair has its pursuits, and solitude its coquetry. It is said that the gloomiest hermits can not refrain from inquiring what men say of them. This need of public opinion is beneficial, in that it combats, almost always victoriously, that which is irregular in our imagination, and comes to the aid of duties which we too easily forget. One experiences (you will feel it, I hope) in returning to one's proper lot, after the sacrifice of that which had diverted the reason, the satisfaction of an exile returning to his family, of a sick person at sight of the sun after a night afflicted with frightful dreams.
"It is this feeling of a being returned, as it were, to its natural state that creates the calm which you see in many eyes that have also had their tears-for there are few women who have not known tears such as yours. You would think yourself perjured if you renounced Cinq-Mars! But nothing binds you; you have more than acquitted yourself toward him by refusing for more than two years past the royal hands offered you. And, after all, what has he done, this impassioned lover? He has elevated himself to reach you; but may not the ambition which here seems to you to have aided love have made use of that love? This young man seems to me too profound, too calm in his political stratagems, too independent in his vast resolutions, in his colossal enterprises, for me to believe him solely occupied by his tenderness. If you have been but a means instead of an end, what would you say?"
"I would still love him," answered Marie. "While he lives, I am his."
"And while I live," said the Queen, with firmness, "I will oppose the alliance."
At these last words the rain and hail fell violently on the balcony. The Queen took advantage of the circumstance abruptly to leave the room and pass into that where the Duchesse de Chevreuse, Mazarin, Madame de Guemenee, and the Prince-Palatine had been awaiting her for a short time. The Queen walked up to them. Marie placed herself in the shade of a curtain in order to conceal the redness of her eyes. She was at first unwilling to take part in the sprightly conversation; but some words of it attracted her attention. The Queen was showing to the Princesse de Guemenee diamonds she had just received from Paris.
"As for this crown, it does not belong to me. The King had it prepared for the future Queen of Poland. Who that is to be, we know not." Then turning toward the Prince-Palatine, "We saw you pass, Prince. Whom were you going to visit?"
"Mademoiselle la Duchesse de Rohan," answered the Pole.
The insinuating Mazarin, who availed himself of every opportunity to worm out secrets, and to make himself necessary by forced confidences, said, approaching the Queen:
"That comes very apropos, just as we were speaking of the crown of Poland."
Marie, who was listening, could not hear this, and said to Madame de Guemenee, who was at her side:
"Is Monsieur de Chabot, then, King of Poland?"
The Queen heard that, and was delighted at this touch of pride. In order to develop its germ, she affected an approving attention to the conversation that ensued.
The Princesse de Guemenee exclaimed:
"Can you conceive such a marriage? We really can't get it out of our heads. This same Mademoiselle de Rohan, whom we have seen so haughty, after having refused the Comte de Soissons, the Duc de Weimar, and the Duc de Nemours, to marry Monsieur de Chabot, a simple gentleman! 'Tis really a sad pity! What are we coming to? 'Tis impossible to say what it will all end in."
"What! can it be true? Love at court! a real love affair! Can it be believed?"
All this time the Queen continued opening and shutting and playing with the new crown.
"Diamonds suit only black hair," she said. "Let us see. Let me put it on you, Marie. Why, it suits her to admiration!"
"One would suppose it had been made for Madame la Princesse," said the Cardinal.
"I would give the last drop of my blood for it to remain on that brow," said the Prince-Palatine.
Marie, through the tears that were still on her cheek, gave an infantine and involuntary smile, like a ray of sunshine through rain. Then, suddenly blushing deeply, she hastily took refuge in her apartments.
All present laughed. The Queen followed her with her eyes, smiled, presented her hand for the Polish ambassador to kiss, and retired to write a letter.
CHAPTER XXIV. THE WORK
One night, before Perpignan, a very unusual event took place. It was ten o'clock; and all were asleep. The slow and almost suspended operations of the siege had rendered the camp and the town inactive. The Spaniards troubled themselves little about the French, all communication toward Catalonia being open as in time of peace; and in the French army men's minds were agitated with that secret anxiety which precedes great events.
Yet all was calm; no sound was heard but that of the measured tread of the sentries. Nothing was seen in the dark night but the red light of the matches of their guns, always smoking, when suddenly the trumpets of the musketeers, of the light-horse, and of the men-at-arms sounded almost simultaneously, "boot and saddle," and "to horse." All the sentinels cried to arms; and the sergeants, with flambeaux, went from tent to tent, along pike in their hands, to waken the soldiers, range them in lines, and count them. Some files marched in gloomy silence along the streets of the camp, and took their position in battle array. The sound of the mounted squadrons announced that the heavy cavalry were making the same dispositions. After half an hour of movement the noise ceased, the torches were extinguished, and all again became calm, but the army was on foot.
One of the last tents of the camp shone within as a star with flambeaux. On approaching this little white and transparent pyramid, we might have distinguished the shadows of two men reflected on the canvas as they walked to and fro within. Outside several men on horseback were in attendance; inside were De Thou and Cinq-Mars.
To see the pious and wise De Thou thus up and armed at this hour, you might have taken him for one of the chiefs of the revolt. But a closer examination of his serious countenance and mournful expression immediately showed that he blamed it, and allowed himself to be led into it and endangered by it from an extraordinary resolution which aided him to surmount the horror he had of the enterprise itself. From the day when Henri d'Effiat had opened his heart and confided to him its whole secret, he had seen clearly that all remonstrance was vain with a young man so powerfully resolved.
De Thou had even understood what M. de Cinq-Mars had not told him, and had seen in the secret union of his friend with the Princesse Marie, one of those ties of love whose mysterious and frequent faults, voluptuous and involuntary derelictions, could not be too soon purified by public benediction. He had comprehended that punishment, impossible to be supported long by a lover, the adored master of that young girl, and who was condemned daily to appear before her as a stranger, to receive political disclosures of marriages they were preparing for her. The day when he received his entire confession, he had done all in his power to prevent Cinq-Mars going so far in his projects as the foreign alliance. He had evoked the gravest recollections and the best feelings, without any other result than rendering the invincible resolution of his friend more rude toward him. Cinq-Mars, it will be recollected, had said to him harshly, "Well, did I ask you to take part in this conspiracy?" And he had desired only to promise not to denounce it; and he had collected all his power against friendship to say, "Expect nothing further from me if you sign this treaty." Yet Cinq-Mars had signed the treaty; and De Thou was still there with him.
The habit of familiarly discussing the projects of his friend had perhaps rendered them less odious to him. His contempt for the vices of the Prime-Minister; his indignation at the servitude of the parliaments to which his family belonged, and at the corruption of justice; the powerful names, and more especially the noble characters of the men who directed the enterprise—all had contributed to soften down his first painful impression. Having once promised secrecy to M. de Cinq-Mars, he considered himself as in a position to accept in detail all the secondary disclosures; and since the fortuitous event which had compromised him with the conspirators at the house of Marion de Lorme, he considered himself united to them by honor, and engaged to an inviolable secrecy. Since that time he had seen Monsieur, the Duc de Bouillon, and Fontrailles; they had become accustomed to speak before him without constraint, and he to hear them.
The dangers which threatened his friend now drew him into their vortex like an invincible magnet. His conscience accused him; but he followed Cinq-Mars wherever he went without even, from excess of delicacy, hazarding a single expression which might resemble a personal fear. He had tacitly given up his life, and would have deemed it unworthy of both to manifest a desire to regain it.
The master of the horse was in his cuirass; he was armed, and wore large boots. An enormous pistol, with a lighted match, was placed upon his table between two flambeaux. A heavy watch in a brass case lay near the pistol. De Thou, wrapped in a black cloak, sat motionless with folded arms. Cinq-Mars paced backward and forward, his arms crossed behind his back, from time to time looking at the hand of the watch, too sluggish in his eyes. He opened the tent, looked up to the heavens, and returned.
"I do not see my star there," said he; "but no matter. She is here in my heart."
"The night is dark," said De Thou.
"Say rather that the time draws nigh. It advances, my friend; it advances. Twenty minutes more, and all will be accomplished. The army only waits the report of this pistol to begin."
De Thou held in his hand an ivory crucifix, and looking first at the cross, and then toward heaven, "Now," said he, "is the hour to complete the sacrifice. I repent not; but oh, how bitter is the cup of sin to my lips! I had vowed my days to innocence and to the works of the soul, and here I am about to commit a crime, and to draw the sword."
But forcibly seizing the hand of Cinq-Mars, "It is for you, for you!" he added with the enthusiasm of a blindly devoted heart. "I rejoice in my errors if they turn to your glory. I see but your happiness in my fault. Forgive me if I have returned for a moment to the habitual thought of my whole life."
Cinq-Mars looked steadfastly at him; and a tear stole slowly down his cheek.
"Virtuous friend," said he, "may your fault fall only on my head! But let us hope that God, who pardons those who love, will be for us; for we are criminal—I through love, you through friendship."
Then suddenly looking at the watch, he took the long pistol in his hand, and gazed at the smoking match with a fierce air. His long hair fell over his face like the mane of a young lion.
"Do not consume," said he; "burn slowly. Thou art about to light a flame which the waves of ocean can not extinguish. The flame will soon light half Europe; it may perhaps reach the wood of thrones. Burn slowly, precious flame! The winds which fan thee are violent and fearful; they are love and hatred. Reserve thyself! Thy explosion will be heard afar, and will find echoes in the peasant's but and the king's palace.
"Burn, burn, poor flame! Thou art to me a sceptre and a thunderbolt!"
De Thou, still holding his ivory crucifix in his hand, said in a low voice:
"Lord, pardon us the blood that will be shed! We combat the wicked and the impious." Then, raising his voice, "My friend, the cause of virtue will triumph," he said; "it alone will triumph. God has ordained that the guilty treaty should not reach us; that which constituted the crime is no doubt destroyed. We shall fight without the foreigners, and perhaps we shall not fight at all. God will change the heart of the king."
"'Tis the hour! 'tis the hour!" exclaimed Cinq-Mars, his eyes fixed upon the watch with a kind of savage joy; "four minutes more, and the Cardinalists in the camp will be crushed! We shall march upon Narbonne! He is there! Give me the pistol!"
At these words he hastily opened the tent, and took up the match.
"A courier from Paris! an express from court!" cried a voice outside, as a man, heated with hard riding and overcome with fatigue, threw himself from his horse, entered, and presented a letter to Cinq-Mars.
"From the Queen, Monseigneur," he said. Cinq-Mars turned pale, and read as follows:
M. DE CINQ-MARS: I write this letter to entreat and conjure you to restore to her duties our well-beloved adopted daughter and friend, the Princesse Marie de Gonzaga, whom your affection alone turns from the throne of Poland, which has been offered to her. I have sounded her heart. She is very young, and I have good reason to believe that she would accept the crown with less effort and less grief than you may perhaps imagine.
It is for her you have undertaken a war which will put to fire and sword my beautiful and beloved France. I supplicate and implore you to act as a gentleman, and nobly to release the Duchesse de Mantua from the promises she may have made you. Thus restore repose to her soul, and peace to our beloved country.
The Queen, who will throw herself at your feet if need be,
Cinq-Mars calmly replaced the pistol upon the table; his first impulse had been to turn its muzzle upon himself. However, he laid it down, and snatching a pencil, wrote on the back of the letter;
MADAME: Marie de Gonzaga, being my wife, can not be Queen of Poland until after my death. I die.
Then, as if he would not allow himself time for a moment's reflection, he forced the letter into the hands of the courier.
"To horse! to horse!" cried he, in a furious tone. "If you remain another instant, you are a dead man!"
He saw him gallop off, and reentered the tent. Alone with his friend, he remained an instant standing, but pale, his eyes fixed, and looking on the ground like a madman. He felt himself totter.
"De Thou!" he cried.
"What would you, my friend, my dear friend? I am with you. You have acted grandly, most grandly, sublimely!"
"De Thou!" he cried again, in a hollow voice, and fell with his face to the ground, like an uprooted tree.
Violent tempests assume different aspects, according to the climates in which they take place. Those which have spread over a terrible space in northern countries assemble into one single cloud under the torrid zone—the more formidable, that they leave the horizon in all its purity, and that the furious waves still reflect the azure of heaven while tinged with the blood of man. It is the same with great passions. They assume strange aspects according to our characters; but how terrible are they in vigorous hearts, which have preserved their force under the veil of social forms? When youth and despair embrace, we know not to what fury they may rise, or what may be their sudden resignation; we know not whether the volcano will burst the mountain or become suddenly extinguished within its entrails.
De Thou, in alarm, raised his friend. The blood gushed from his nostrils and ears; he would have thought him dead, but for the torrents of tears which flowed from his eyes. They were the only sign of life. Suddenly he opened his lids, looked around him, and by an extraordinary energy resumed his senses and the power of his will.
"I am in the presence of men," said he; "I must finish with them. My friend, it is half-past eleven; the hour for the signal has passed. Give, in my name, the order to return to quarters. It was a false alarm, which I will myself explain this evening."
De Thou had already perceived the importance of this order; he went out and returned immediately.
He found Cinq-Mars seated, calm, and endeavoring to cleanse the blood from his face.
"De Thou," said he, looking fixedly at him, "retire; you disturb me."
"I leave you not," answered the latter.
"Fly, I tell you! the Pyrenees are not far distant. I can not speak much longer, even to you; but if you remain with me, you will die. I give you warning."
"I remain," repeated De Thou.
"May God preserve you, then!" answered Cinq-Mars, "for I can do nothing more; the moment has passed. I leave you here. Call Fontrailles and all the confederates: distribute these passports among them. Let them fly immediately; tell them all has failed, but that I thank them. For you, once again I say, fly with them, I entreat you; but whatever you do, follow me not—follow me not, for your life! I swear to you not to do violence to myself!"
With these words, shaking his friend's hand without looking at him, he rushed from the tent.
Meantime, some leagues thence another conversation was taking place. At Narbonne, in the same cabinet in which we formerly beheld Richelieu regulating with Joseph the interests of the State, were still seated the same men, nearly as we have described them. The minister, however, had grown much older in three years of suffering; and the Capuchin was as much terrified with the result of his expedition as his master appeared tranquil.
The Cardinal, seated in his armchair, his legs bound and encased with furs and warm clothing, had upon his knees three kittens, which gambolled upon his scarlet robe. Every now and then he took one of them and placed it upon the others, to continue their sport. He smiled as he watched them. On his feet lay their mother, looking like an enormous animated muff.
Joseph, seated near him, was going over the account of all he had heard in the confessional. Pale even now, at the danger he had run of being discovered, or of being murdered by Jacques, he concluded thus:
"In short, your Eminence, I can not help feeling agitated to my heart's core when I reflect upon the dangers which have, and still do, threaten you. Assassins offer themselves to poniard you. I beheld in France the whole court against you, one half of the army, and two provinces. Abroad, Spain and Portugal are ready to furnish troops. Everywhere there are snares or battles, poniards or cannon."
The Cardinal yawned three times, without discontinuing his amusement, and then said:
"A cat is a very fine animal. It is a drawing-room tiger. What suppleness, what extraordinary finesse! Here is this little yellow one pretending to sleep, in order that the tortoise-shell one may not notice it, but fall upon its brother; and this one, how it tears the other! See how it sticks its claws into its side! It would kill and eat it, I fully believe, if it were the stronger. It is very amusing. What pretty animals!"
He coughed and sneezed for some time; then he continued:
"Messire Joseph, I sent word to you not to speak to me of business until after my supper... I have an appetite now, and it is not yet my hour. Chicot, my doctor, recommends regularity, and I feel my usual pain in my side. This is how I shall spend the evening," he added, looking at the clock. "At nine, we will settle the affairs of Monsieur le Grand. At ten, I shall be carried round the garden to take the air by moonlight. Then I shall sleep for an hour or two. At midnight the King will be here; and at four o'clock you may return to receive the various orders for arrests, condemnations, or any others I may have to give you, for the provinces, Paris, or the armies of his Majesty."
Richelieu said all this in the same tone of voice, with a uniform enunciation, affected only by the weakness of his chest and the loss of several teeth.
It was seven in the evening. The Capuchin withdrew. The Cardinal supped with the greatest tranquillity; and when the clock struck half-past eight, he sent for Joseph, and said to him, when he was seated:
"This, then, is all they have been able to do against me during more than two years. They are poor creatures, truly! The Duc de Bouillon, whom I thought possessed some ability, has forfeited all claim to my opinion. I have watched him closely; and I ask you, has he taken one step worthy of a true statesman? The King, Monsieur, and the rest, have only shown their teeth against me, and without depriving me of one single man. The young Cinq-Mars is the only man among them who has any consecutiveness of ideas. All that he has done has been done surprisingly well. I must do him justice; he had good qualities. I should have made him my pupil, had it not been for his obstinate character. But he has here charged me 'a l'outrance, and must take the consequences. I am sorry for him. I have left them to float about in open water for the last two years. I shall now draw the net."
"It is time, Monseigneur," said Joseph, who often trembled involuntarily as he spoke. "Do you bear in mind that from Perpignan to Narbonne the way is short? Do you know that if your army here is powerful, your own troops are weak and uncertain; that the young nobles are furious; and that the King is not sure?"
The Cardinal looked at the clock.
"It is only half-past eight, Joseph. I have already told you that I will not talk about this affair until nine. Meantime, as justice must be done, you will write what I shall dictate, for my memory serves me well. There are still some objectionable persons left, I see by my notes—four of the judges of Urbain Grandier. He was a rare genius, that Urbain Grandier," he added, with a malicious expression. Joseph bit his lips. "All the other judges have died miserably. As to Houmain, he shall be hanged as a smuggler by and by. We may leave him alone for the present. But there is that horrible Lactantius, who lives peacefully, Barre, and Mignon. Take a pen, and write to the Bishop of Poitiers,
"MONSEIGNEUR: It is his Majesty's pleasure that Fathers Mignon and Barre be superseded in their cures, and sent with the shortest possible delay to the town of Lyons, with Father Lactantius, Capuchin, to be tried before a special tribunal, charged with criminal intentions against the State."
Joseph wrote as coolly as a Turk strikes off a head at a sign from his master. The Cardinal said to him, while signing the letter:
"I will let you know how I wish them to disappear, for it is important to efface all traces of that affair. Providence has served me well. In removing these men, I complete its work. That is all that posterity shall know of the affair."
And he read to the Capuchin that page of his memoirs in which he recounts the possession and sorceries of the magician.—[Collect. des Memoires xxviii. 189.]—During this slow process, Joseph could not help looking at the clock.
"You are anxious to come to Monsieur le Grand," said the Cardinal at last. "Well, then, to please you, let us begin."
"Do you think I have not my reasons for being tranquil? You think that I have allowed these poor conspirators to go too far. No, no! Here are some little papers that would reassure you, did you know their contents. First, in this hollow stick is the treaty with Spain, seized at Oleron. I am well satisfied with Laubardemont; he is an able man."
The fire of ferocious jealousy sparkled under the thick eyebrows of the monk.
"Ah, Monseigneur," said he, "you know not from whom he seized it. He certainly suffered him to die, and in that respect we can not complain, for he was the agent of the conspiracy; but it was his son."
"Say you the truth?" cried the Cardinal, in a severe tone. "Yes, for you dare not lie to me. How knew you this?"
"From his attendants, Monsiegneur. Here are their reports. They will testify to them."
The Cardinal having examined these papers, said:
"We will employ him once more to try our conspirators, and then you shall do as you like with him. I give him to you."
Joseph joyfully pocketed his precious denunciations, and continued:
"Your Eminence speaks of trying men who are still armed and on horseback."
"They are not all so. Read this letter from Monsieur to Chavigny. He asks for pardon. He dared not address me the first day, and his prayers rose no higher than the knees of one of my servants.
To M. de Chavigny:
M. DE CHAVIGNY: Although I believe that you are little satisfied with me (and in truth you have reason to be dissatisfied), I do not the less entreat you to endeavor my reconciliation with his Eminence, and rely for this upon the true love you bear me, and which, I believe, is greater than your anger. You know how much I require to be relieved from the danger I am in. You have already twice stood my friend with his Eminence. I swear to you this shall be the last time I give you such an employment. GASTON D'ORLEANS.
"But the next day he took courage, and sent this to myself,
To his Excellency the Cardinal-Duc:
MY COUSIN: This ungrateful M. le Grand is the most guilty man in the world to have displeased you. The favors he received from his Majesty have always made me doubtful of him and his artifices. For you, my cousin, I retain my whole esteem. I am truly repentant at having again been wanting in the fidelity I owe to my Lord the King, and I call God to witness the sincerity with which I shall be for the rest of my life your most faithful friend, with the same devotion that I am, my cousin, your affectionate cousin, GASTON.
and the third to the King. His project choked him; he could not keep it down. But I am not so easily satisfied. I must have a free and full confession, or I will expel him from the kingdom. I have written to him this morning.
[MONSIEUR: Since God wills that men should have recourse to a frank and entire confession to be absolved of their faults in this world, I indicate to you the steps you must take to be delivered from this danger. Your Highness has commenced well; you must continue. This is all I can say to you.]
"As to the magnificent and powerful Due de Bouillon, sovereign lord of Sedan and general-in-chief of the armies in Italy, he has just been arrested by his officers in the midst of his soldiers, concealed in a truss of straw. There remain, therefore, only our two young neighbors. They imagine they have the camp wholly at their orders, while they really have only the red troops. All the rest, being Monsieur's men, will not act, and my troops will arrest them. However, I have permitted them to appear to obey. If they give the signal at half-past eleven, they will be arrested at the first step. If not, the King will give them up to me this evening. Do not open your eyes so wide. He will give them up to me, I repeat, this night, between midnight and one o'clock. You see that all has been done without you, Joseph. We can dispense with you very well; and truly, all this time, I do not see that we have received any great service from you. You grow negligent."
"Ah, Monseigneur! did you but know the trouble I have had to discover the route of the bearers of the treaty! I only learned it by risking my life between these young people."
The Cardinal laughed contemptuously, leaning back in his chair.
"Thou must have been very ridiculous and very fearful in that box, Joseph; I dare say it was the first time in thy life thou ever heardst love spoken of. Dost thou like the language, Father Joseph? Tell me, dost thou clearly understand it? I doubt whether thou hast formed a very refined idea of it."
Richelieu, his arms crossed, looked at his discomfited Capuchin with infinite delight, and continued in the scornfully familiar tone of a grand seigneur, which he sometimes assumed, pleasing himself with putting forth the noblest expressions through the most impure lips:
"Come, now, Joseph, give me a definition of love according to thy idea. What can it be—for thou seest it exists out of romances. This worthy youngster undertook these little conspiracies through love. Thou heardst it thyself with throe unworthy ears. Come, what is love? For my part, I know nothing about it."
The monk was astounded, and looked upon the ground with the stupid eye of some base animal. After long consideration, he replied in a drawling and nasal voice:
"It must be a kind of malignant fever which leads the brain astray; but in truth, Monseigneur, I have never reflected on it until this moment. I have always been embarrassed in speaking to a woman. I wish women could be omitted from society altogether; for I do not see what use they are, unless it be to disclose secrets, like the little Duchess or Marion de Lorme, whom I can not too strongly recommend to your Eminence. She thought of everything, and herself threw our little prophecy among the conspirators with great address. We have not been without the marvellous this time. As in the siege of Hesdin, all we have to do is to find a window through which you may pass on the day of the execution."
[In 1638, Prince Thomas having raised the siege of Hesdin, the Cardinal was much vexed at it. A nun of the convent of Mount Calvary had said that the victory would be to the King and Father Joseph, thus wishing it to be believed that Heaven protected the minister.—Memoires pour l'histoire du Cardinal de Richelieu.]
"This is another of your absurdities, sir," said the Cardinal; "you will make me as ridiculous as yourself, if you go on so; I am too powerful to need the assistance of Heaven. Do not let that happen again. Occupy yourself only with the people I consign to you. I traced your part before. When the master of the horse is taken, you will see him tried and executed at Lyons. I will not be known in this. This affair is beneath me; it is a stone under my feet, upon which I ought not to have bestowed so much attention."
Joseph was silent; he could not understand this man, who, surrounded on every side by armed enemies, spoke of the future as of a present over which he had the entire control, and of the present as a past which he no longer feared. He knew not whether to look upon him as a madman or a prophet, above or below the standard of human nature.
His astonishment was redoubled when Chavigny hastily entered, and nearly falling, in his heavy boots, over the Cardinal's footstool, exclaimed in great agitation:
"Sir, one of your servants has just arrived from Perpignan; and he has beheld the camp in an uproar, and your enemies in the saddle."
"They will soon dismount, sir," replied Richelieu, replacing his footstool. "You appear to have lost your equanimity."
"But—but, Monseigneur, must we not warn Monsieur de Fabert?"
"Let him sleep, and go to bed yourself; and you also, Joseph."
"Monseigneur, another strange event has occurred—the King has arrived."
"Indeed, that is extraordinary," said the minister, looking at his watch. "I did not expect him these two hours. Retire, both of you."
A heavy trampling and the clattering of arms announced the arrival of the Prince; the folding-doors were thrown open; the guards in the Cardinal's service struck the ground thrice with their pikes; and the King appeared.
He entered, supporting himself with a cane on one side, and on the other leaning upon the shoulder of his confessor, Father Sirmond, who withdrew, and left him with the Cardinal; the latter rose with difficulty, but could not advance a step to meet the King, because his legs were bandaged and enveloped. He made a sign that they should assist the King to a seat near the fire, facing himself. Louis XIII fell into an armchair furnished with pillows, asked for and drank a glass of cordial, prepared to strengthen him against the frequent fainting-fits caused by his malady of languor, signed to all to leave the room, and, alone with Richelieu, he said in a languid voice:
"I am departing, my dear Cardinal; I feel that I shall soon return to God. I become weaker from day to day; neither the summer nor the southern air has restored my strength."
"I shall precede your Majesty," replied the minister. "You see that death has already conquered my limbs; but while I have a head to think and a hand to write, I shall be at the service of your Majesty."
"And I am sure it was your intention to add, 'a heart to love me.'"
"Can your Majesty doubt it?" answered the Cardinal, frowning, and biting his lips impatiently at this speech.
"Sometimes I doubt it," replied the King. "Listen: I wish to speak openly to you, and to complain of you to yourself. There are two things which have been upon my conscience these three years. I have never mentioned them to you; but I reproached you secretly; and could anything have induced me to consent to any proposals contrary to your interest, it would be this recollection."
There was in this speech that frankness natural to weak minds, who seek by thus making their ruler uneasy, to compensate for the harm they dare not do him, and revenge their subjection by a childish controversy.
Richelieu perceived by these words that he had run a great risk; but he saw at the same time the necessity of venting all his spleen, and, to facilitate the explosion of these important avowals, he accumulated all the professions he thought most calculated to provoke the King.
"No, no!" his Majesty at length exclaimed, "I shall believe nothing until you have explained those two things, which are always in my thoughts, which were lately mentioned to me, and which I can justify by no reasoning. I mean the trial of Urbain Grandier, of which I was never well informed, and the reason for the hatred you bore to my unfortunate mother, even to her very ashes."
"Is this all, Sire?" said Richelieu. "Are these my only faults? They are easily explained. The first it was necessary to conceal from your Majesty because of its horrible and disgusting details of scandal. There was certainly an art employed, which can not be looked upon as guilty, in concealing, under the title of 'magic,' crimes the very names of which are revolting to modesty, the recital of which would have revealed dangerous mysteries to the innocent; this was a holy deceit practised to hide these impurities from the eyes of the people."
"Enough, enough, Cardinal," said Louis XIII, turning away his head, and looking downward, while a blush covered his face; "I can not hear more. I understand you; these explanations would disgust me. I approve your motives; 'tis well. I had not been told that; they had concealed these dreadful vices from me. Are you assured of the proofs of these crimes?"
"I have them all in my possession, Sire; and as to the glorious Queen, Marie de Medicis, I am surprised that your Majesty can forget how much I was attached to her. Yes, I do not fear to acknowledge it; it is to her I owe my elevation. She was the first who deigned to notice the Bishop of Luton, then only twenty-two years of age, to place me near her. What have I not suffered when she compelled me to oppose her in your Majesty's interest! But this sacrifice was made for you. I never had, and never shall have, to regret it."
"'Tis well for you, but for me!" said the King, bitterly.
"Ah, Sire," exclaimed the Cardinal, "did not the Son of God himself set you an example? It is by the model of every perfection that we regulate our counsels; and if the monument due to the precious remains of your mother is not yet raised, Heaven is my witness that the works were retarded through the fear of afflicting your heart by bringing back the recollection of her death. But blessed be the day in which I have been permitted to speak to you on the subject! I myself shall say the first mass at Saint-Denis, when we shall see her deposited there, if Providence allows me the strength."
The countenance of the King assumed a more affable yet still cold expression; and the Cardinal, thinking that he could go no farther that evening in persuasion, suddenly resolved to make a more powerful move, and to attack the enemy in front. Still keeping his eyes firmly fixed upon the King, he said, coldly:
"And was it for this you consented to my death?"
"Me!" said the King. "You have been deceived; I have indeed heard of a conspiracy, and I wished to speak to you about it; but I have commanded nothing against you."
"'The conspirators do not say so, Sire; but I am bound to believe your Majesty, and I am glad for your sake that men were deceived. But what advice were you about to condescend to give me?"
"I—I wished to tell you frankly, and between ourselves, that you will do well to beware of Monsieur—"
"Ah, Sire, I can not now heed it; for here is a letter which he has just sent to me for you. He seems to have been guilty even toward your Majesty."
The King read in astonishment:
MONSEIGNEUR: I am much grieved at having once more failed in the fidelity which I owe to your Majesty. I humbly entreat you to allow me to ask a thousand pardons, with the assurances of my submission and repentance. Your very humble servant, GASTON.
"What does this mean?" cried Louis; "dare they arm against me also?"
"Also!" muttered the Cardinal, biting his lips; "yes, Sire, also; and this makes me believe, to a certain degree, this little packet of papers."
While speaking, he drew a roll of parchment from a piece of hollowed elder, and opened it before the eyes of the King.
"This is simply a treaty with Spain, which I think does not bear the signature of your Majesty. You may see the twenty articles all in due form. Everything is here arranged—the place of safety, the number of troops, the supplies of men and money."
"The traitors!" cried the King, in great agitation; "they must be seized. My brother renounces them and repents; but do not fail to arrest the Duc de Bouillon."
"It shall be done, Sire."
"That will be difficult, in the middle of the army in Italy."
"I will answer with my head for his arrest, Sire; but is there not another name to be added?"
"Who—what—Cinq-Mars?" inquired the King, hesitating.
"Exactly so, Sire," answered the Cardinal.
"I see—but—I think—we might—"
"Hear me!" exclaimed Richelieu, in a voice of thunder; "all must be settled to-day. Your favorite is mounted at the head of his party; choose between him and me. Yield up the boy to the man, or the man to the boy; there is no alternative."
"And what will you do if I consent?" said the King.
"I will have his head and that of his friend."
"Never! it is impossible!" replied the King, with horror, as he relapsed into the same state of irresolution he evinced when with Cinq-Mars against Richelieu. "He is my friend as well as you; my heart bleeds at the idea of his death. Why can you not both agree? Why this division? It is that which has led him to this. You have between you brought me to the brink of despair; you have made me the most miserable of men."