The cardinal was silent, and deep inward excitement made his face pale. He bowed his head, folded his hands, and his lips moved in whispered prayer.
The judges, as well as the spectators, remained silent. No one was able to break the solemn stillness by an audible breath-by a single movement.
At length, after a long pause, when the cardinal had raised his head again, the president asked gently: "And so your eminence saw the note of the queen, and was it not the same writing as the letters which you had received?"
"No, it was not the same!" cried the cardinal, with pain. "No, it was an entirely different hand. Only the signature had any resemblance, although the letter to the duchess was simply subscribed 'Marie Antoinette.' I hastened home, and awaited the coming of the countess with feverish impatience. She came, smiling as ever, and brought me the thirty thousand francs. With glowing, passionate words, I threw my suspicions in her face. She appeared a moment alarmed, confused, and then granted that it was possible that the letters were not from the hand of the queen, but that she had dictated them. But the signatures were the queen's, she could take her oath of it. I again took a little courage; but soon after the countess had left me, the jewellers came in the highest excitement to me, to tell me that, receiving no payments from the queen, they had applied in writing to her several times, without receiving any answer; their efforts to obtain an audience were also all in vain, and so they had at last applied to the first lady-in-waiting on the queen, Madame de Campan, with whom they had just had an interview. Madame de Campan had told them that the queen did not possess the necklace; that no Countess Lamotte-Valois had ever had an interview with the queen; that she had told the jewellers with extreme indignation that some one had been deceiving them; that they were the victims of a fraud, and that she would at once go to Trianon to inform the queen of this fearful intrigue. This happened on a Thursday; on the following Sunday I repaired to Versailles to celebrate high mass, and the rest you know. I have nothing further to add."
"In the name of the court I thank your eminence for your open and clear exposition of this sad history," said the president, solemnly. "Your eminence needs refreshment, you are free to withdraw and to return to the Bastile."
The cardinal rose and bowed to the court. All the judges stood, and respectfully returned the salutation. [Footnote: 'Historical.—See "Memoires de l'Abbe Georgel," vol. i.]
One of the veiled ladies, sitting on the spectators' seats, cried with trembling voice: "God bless the cardinal, the noble martyr of the realm!"
All the spectators repeated the cry; and, while the words yet rang, the cardinal, followed by the officers who were to take him to the Bastile, had left the hall.
"Guards!" cried President de L'Aigre, with a loud voice, "bring in the accused, the Countess de Lamotte-Valois!"
All eyes directed themselves to the door which the guards now opened, and through which the accused was to enter.
Upon the threshold of this door appeared now a lady of slim, graceful form, in a toilet of the greatest elegance, her head decorated with feathers, flowers, and lace, her cheeks highly painted, and her fine ruby lips encircled by a pert, and at the same time a mocking smile, which displayed two rows of the finest teeth. With this smile upon her lips she moved forward with a light and spirited step, turning her great blazing black eyes with proud, inquisitive looks now to the stern semicircle of judges and now to the tribune, whose occupants had not been able to suppress a movement of indignation and a subdued hiss.
"Gentlemen," said she, with a clear, distinct voice, in which not the faintest quiver, not the least excitement was apparent—" gentlemen, are we here in a theatre, where the players who tread the boards are received with audible signs of approval or of disfavor?"
The president, to whom her dark eyes were directed, deigned to give no answer, but turned with an expressive gesture to the officer who stood behind the accused.
He understood this sign, and brought from the corner of the hall a wooden seat of rough, clumsy form, to whose high back of unpolished dirty wood two short iron chains were attached.
This seat he placed near the handsome, gaudily-dressed countess with her air of assurance and self-confidence, and pointed to it with a commanding gesture.
"Be seated," he said, with a loud, lordly tore. She shrugged her shoulders, and looked at the offered seat with an expression of indignation. "How!" she cried, "who dares offer me the chair of criminals to sit in?"
"Be seated," replied the officer. "The seat of the accused is ready for you, and the chains upon it are for those who are not inclined to take it."
A cry of anger escaped from her lips, and her eyes flashed an annihilating glance upon the venturesome officer, but he did not appear to be in the least affected by the lightning from her eyes, but met it with perfect tranquillity.
"If you do not take it of yourself, madame," he said, "I shall be compelled to summon the police; we shall then compel you to take the seat, and in order to prevent your rising, the chains will be bound around your arms."
The countess answered only with an exclamation of anger, and fixed her inquiring looks upon the judges, the accusers, the defenders, and then again upon the spectators. Everywhere she encountered only a threatening mien and suspicious looks, nowhere an expression of sympathy. But it was just this which seemed to give her courage and to steel her strength. She raised her head proudly, forced the smile again upon her lips, and took her seat upon the chair with a grace and dignity as if she were in a brilliant saloon, and was taking her seat upon an elegant sofa. The president of the court now turned his grave, rigid face to the countess, and asked: "Who are you, madame? What is your name, and how old are you?"
The countess gave way to a loud, melodious laugh. "My lord president," answered she, "it is very clear that you are not much accustomed to deal with ladies, or else you would not take the liberty of asking a lady, like myself in her prime, after her age. I will pardon you this breach of etiquette, and I will magnanimously pretend not to have heard that question, in order to answer the others. You wish to know my name? I am the Countess Lamotte-Valois of France, the latest descendant of the former Kings of Prance; and if in this unhappy land, which is trodden to the dust by a stupid king and a dissolute queen, right and justice still prevailed, I should sit on the throne of France, and the coquette who now occupies it would be sitting here in this criminal's chair, to justify herself for the theft which she has committed, for it is Marie Antoinette who possesses the diamonds of the jeweller Bohmer, not I."
At the spectators' tribune a gentle bravo was heard at these words, and this daring calumny upon the queen found no reproval even from the judges' bench.
"Madame," said L'Aigre, after a short pause, "instead of simply answering my questions you reply with a high-sounding speech, which contains an untruth, for it is not true that you can lay any claim to the throne of France. The descendants of bastards have claims neither to the name nor the rank of their fathers. Since, in respect to your name and rank, you have answered with an untruth, I will tell you who and what you are. Your father was a poor peasant in the village of Auteuil. He called himself Valois, and the clergyman of the village one day told the wife of the proprietor of Auteuil, Madame de Boulainvillier, that the peasant of Valois was in possession of family papers, according to which it was unquestionable that he was an illegitimate descendant of the old royal family.
The good priest at the same time recommended the poor, hungry children of the day-laborer Valois to the kindness of Madame de Boulainvillier, and the old lady hastened to comply with this recommendation. She had the daughter of Valois called to her to ask her how she could assist her in her misery."
"Say rather to gain for herself the credit that she had shown kindnesses to the descendants of the Kings of France," interrupted the countess, quickly.
"This would have been a sorry credit," replied President L'Aigre. "The Valois family had for a long time been extinct, and the last man of that name who is known, was detected in counterfeiting, sentenced, and executed. Your grandfather was an illegitimate son of the counterfeiter Valois. That is the sum total of your relation to the royal family of France. It is possible that upon this very chair on which you now sit, accused of this act of deception, your natural great-grandfather once sat, accused like you of an act of deception, in order, after conviction of his crime, to be punished according to the laws of France."
The countess made a motion as if she wanted to rise from the unfortunate seat, but instantly the heavy hand of the officer was laid upon her shoulder, and his threatening voice said, "Sit still, or I put on the chains!"
The Countess Lamotte-Valois of France sank back with a loud sob upon the chair, and for the first time a death-like paleness diffused itself over her hitherto rosy cheeks.
"So Madame de Boulainvillier had the children of the day-laborer Valois called," continued the president, with his imperturbable self-possession. "The oldest daughter, a girl of twelve years, pleased her in consequence of her lively nature and her attractive exterior. She took her to herself, she gave her an excellent education, she was resolved to provide for her whole future; when one day the young Valois disappeared from the chateau of Madame de Boulainvillier. She had eloped with the sub-lieutenant, Count Lamotte, and announced to her benefactress, in a letter which she left behind, that she was escaping from the slavery in which she had hitherto lived, and that she left her curse to those who wanted to hinder her marrying the man of her choice. But in order to accomplish her marriage, she confessed that she had found it necessary to rob the casket of Madame de Boulainvillier, and that out of this money she should defray her expenses. It was a sum of twenty thousand francs which the fugitive had robbed from her benefactress."
"I take the liberty of remarking to you, Mr. President, that you are there making use of a totally false expression," interrupted the countess. "It cannot be said that I robbed this sum. It was the dowry which Madame de Boulainvillier had promised to give me in case of my marriage, and I only took what was my own, as I was upon the point of marrying. Madame de Boulainvillier herself justified me in taking this sum, for she never asked me to return it or filed an accusation against me."
"Because she wanted to prevent the matter becoming town-talk," remarked the president, quietly. "Madame de Boulainvillier held her peace, and relinquished punishment to the righteous Judge who lives above the stars."
"And who surely has not descended from the stars to assume the president's chair of this court," cried Lamotte, with a mocking laugh.
President L'Aigre, without heeding the interruption, continued:
"The daughter of the laborer Valois married the sub-lieutenant Lamotte, who lived in a little garrison city of the province, and sought to increase his meagre salary by many ingenious devices. He not merely gave instruction in fencing and riding, but he was also a very skilful card-player—so skilful, that fortune almost always accompanied him."
"My lord," cried the countess, springing up," you seem to want to hint that Count Lamotte played a false game. You surely would not venture to say this if the count were free, for he would challenge you for this insult, and it is well known that his stroke is fatal to those who stand in the way of his dagger."
"I hint at nothing, and I merely call things by their right names," replied the president, smiling. "In consequence of strong suspicions of false play, Count Lamotte was driven out of his regiment; and as the young pair had in the meantime consumed the stolen wedding- money, they must discover some new way of making a living. The young husband repaired to the south of France to continue his card- playing; the young wife, having for her fortune her youth and the splendor of her name, repaired to Paris, both resolved de corriger la fortune wherever and however they could. "This, madame," continued the president, after a pause, "this is the true answer to my question, how you are called, and who you are."
"The answer is, however, not yet quite satisfactory," replied Lamotte, in an impudent tone. "You have forgotten to add that I am the friend of the cardinal, Prince Louis de Rohan, the confidante and friend of Queen Marie Antoinette, and that both now want to do me the honor to make me their bete de souffrance, and to let me suffer for what they have done and are guilty of. My whole crime lies in this, that I helped the Queen of France gain the jewels for which her idle and trivial soul longed; that I helped the amorous and light-minded cardinal approach the object of his love, and procured for him an interview with the queen. That is all that can be charged upon me; I procured for the queen the fine necklace of Messrs. Bohmer and Bassenge; I gave the cardinal, as the price of a part of the necklace, a tender tete-a-tete with the queen. The cardinal will not deny that in the garden of Versailles he had a rendezvous with the queen, that he kissed her hand and received a rose from her; and the queen will be compelled to confess in the end that the necklace is in her possession. What blame can be laid on me for this?"
"The blame of deception, of defalcation, of forgery, of calumny, of theft," replied the president, with solemn earnestness. "You deceived Cardinal de Rohan in saying that you knew the queen, that you were intimate with her, that she honored you with her confidence. You forged, or got some one to forge, the handwriting of the queen, and prepared letters which you gave to the cardinal, pretending that they came from the queen. You misused the devotion of the cardinal to the royal family, and caused his eminence to believe that the queen desired his services in the purchase of the necklace; and after the cardinal, full of pleasure, had been able to do a service to the queen, had treated with Bohmer and Bassenge, had paid a part of the purchase money, and gave you the necklace in charge to be put into the queen's hands, you were guilty of theft, for the queen knows nothing of the necklace; the queen never gave you the honor of an audience, the queen never spoke with you, and no one of the queen's companions ever saw the Countess Lamotte."
"That means they disown me; they all disown me!" cried the countess, with flaming rage, stamping upon the floor with her little satin- covered foot. "But the truth will one day come to the light. The cardinal will not deny that the queen gave him a rendezvous at Versailles; that she thanked him personally for the necklace which she had procured through his instrumentality."
"Yes, the truth will come to the light," answered the president. "I summon the crown attorney, M. de Borillon, to present the charge against the Countess Lamotte-Valois."
On this the attorney-general, Borillon, rose, and amid the breathless silence of the assembly began to speak. He painted the countess as a crafty, skilful adventuress, who had come to Paris with the determined purpose of making her fortune in whatever way it could be done. He then spoke of the destitution in which she had lived at first, of the begging letters which she addressed to all people of distinction, and especially to Cardinal de Rohan, in consequence of his well-known liberality. He painted in lively and touching colors the scene where the cardinal, struck by the name of the suppliant, went in person to the attic to convince himself whether it were really true that a descendant of the Kings of France had been driven to such poverty and humiliation, and to give her assistance for the sake of the royal house, to which he was devoted heart and soul. He painted further how the cardinal, attracted by the lively spirits, amiability, and intellectual character of Lamotte-Valois, had given her his confidence, and believed what she told him about her favor with the queen, and her intimate relations with her. "The cardinal," continued the attorney-general, "did not doubt for a moment the trustworthiness of the countess; he had not the least suspicion that he was appointed to become the victim of an intriguer, who would take advantage of his noble spirit, his magnanimity, to deceive him and to enrich herself. The countess knew the boundless devotion of the cardinal to the queen; she had heard his complaints of the proud coldness, the public slights which she offered to him. On the other hand, she had heard of the costly diamond necklace which Bohmer and Bassenge had repeatedly offered to the queen, and that she had refused to take it on account of the enormous price which they demanded for it. On this the countess formed her plan and it succeeded perfectly. She caused the cardinal to hope that he would soon have an audience of the queen, if he would give solid assurances of his devotion, and when he professed himself ready, she proposed to him, as acting under the queen's instructions, the purchase of the necklace. The cardinal declared himself ready to accede, and the affair took the course already indicated with such touching frankness and lofty truthfulness by his eminence. He brought the purchase to a conclusion; he paid the first instalment of six hundred thousand francs, and gave the necklace to the friend of the queen, the Countess Lamotte-Valois, after he had availed himself of her assistance in receiving from the lips and hand of the queen in the garden of Versailles the assurance of the royal favor. The countess at once brought the cardinal a paper from the queen, stating that she had received the necklace, and conveying to him the warm thanks of his queen. The cardinal felt himself richly rewarded by this for all his pains and outlays, and in the joy of his heart wanted to repay her who, in so prudent and wise a manner, had effected his reconciliation with the queen. He settled upon her a yearly pension of four thousand francs, payable her whole life, and the countess accepted it with tears of emotion, and swore eternal gratitude to the cardinal. But while uttering this very oath she was conspiring against her benefactor, and laughing in her sleeve at the credulous prince who had fallen into the very net which she had prepared for him. Her most active ally was her husband, whom she had long before summoned to Paris, and who was the abetter of her intrigue. The countess had now become a rich lady, and was able to indulge all her cravings for splendor and luxury. She who, down to that time, had stood as a supplicant before the doors of the rich, could herself have a princely dwelling, and could devote great sums to its adornment. The most celebrated makers were called on, to furnish the furniture and the decorations, and, as if by a touch of magic, she was surrounded by fabulous luxury; the fairest equipages stood ready for her, the finest horses in her stable, and a troop of lackeys waited upon the beck of the fair lady who displayed her princely splendor before them. A choice silver service glittered upon her table, and she possessed valuables worth more than a hundred thousand francs. More than this, she enjoyed the best of all, a tender and devoted husband, who overloaded her with presents; from London, whither he was called by pressing family affairs, he sent his wife a medallion of diamonds, which was subsequently estimated at two hundred and thirty louis-d'ors, and a pearl bracelet worth two hundred louis-d'ors. Returning from his journey, he surprised his wife with a new and splendid present. He had purchased a palace in Bar-sur-Aube, and thither the whole costly furniture of his hired house was carried. Would you know where all these rare gifts wore drawn? The Countess Lamotte had broken the necklace, and taken the stones from their setting. For the gold alone which was used in the setting she received forty thousand francs; for one of the diamonds, which she sold in Paris, she received fifty thousand francs; for another, thirty-six thousand. The diamonds of uncommon size and immense worth she did not dare to dispose of in Paris, and her husband was compelled to journey to London to sell a portion of them there. On his return thence he was able to buy for his wife the house in Bar-sur-Aube, for the sum received in London was four hundred thousand francs in gold, in addition to the pearls and the diamond medallion which he brought his wife from London. And of all this luxury, this extravagance, Cardinal de Rohan had naturally no suspicion. When he visited her, where did the countess receive him? In a poorly-furnished attic- chamber of the house hired by her. In simple, modest attire, She met him there and told him with trembling voice that the rich countess who lived in the two lower stories of the house had allowed her to have this suite next to the roof gratis. But when danger approached, and Lamotte began to fear that Bohmer and Bassenge, in claiming their pay from the queen, would bring the history of the necklace to the light, the countess came to the cardinal to pay her parting respects, as she was going into the country to a friend to live in the greatest privacy. She left Paris merely to repair to Bar-sur- Aube and live in her magnificent palace. She tarried there so long as to allow the police detectives to discover in the rich and elegant lady the intriguer Lamotte-Valois, and to effect the imprisonment of her husband and his friend, the so-called Count Cagliostro. Her other abetters had put themselves out of sight, and were not to be discovered. However, their arrest was not specially necessary, for the facts were already sufficiently strong and clear. Some of the diamonds which Lamotte had sold in London were brought back to Paris, and had been recognized by Bohmer and Bassenge as belonging to the necklace which they had sold to the queen. The goldsmith had been discovered to whom the countess had sold the golden setting of the necklace, and Bohmer and Bassenge had recognized in the fragments which remained their own work. It is unquestionable that the Countess Lamotte-Valois, through her intrigues and cunning, had been able to gain possession of the necklace, and that she had appropriated it to her own use. The countess is therefore guilty of theft and deception. She is, moreover, guilty of forgery, for she has imitated the handwriting of the queen, and subscribed it with the royal name. But the hand is neither that of the queen, nor does the queen ever subscribe herself 'Marie Antoinette of France.' This makes Lamotte open to the charge of both forgery and contempt of majesty, for she has even dared to drag the sacred person of the Queen of France into her mesh of lies, and to make her majesty the heroine of a dishonorable love- adventure."
"My lord," cried Countess Lamotte, with a loud laugh, "you are not driven to the necessity of involving the queen in dishonorable love- adventures. The queen is in reality the heroine of so many adventures of this character, that you can have your choice of them. A queen who visits the opera-house balls incognito, drives thither masked and in a fiacre, and who appears incognito on the terraces of Versailles with strange soldiers, exchanging jocose words with them- -a queen of the type of this Austrian may not wonder to find her name identified with the heroine of a love-adventure. But we are speaking now not of a romance, but of a reality, and I am not to be accused of forgery and contempt of majesty without having the proofs brought forward. This cannot, however, be done, for I have the proofs of my innocence. The cardinal had an interview with the queen, and she gave him a receipt for the diamonds. If she wrote her signature differently from her usual manner, it is not my fault. It only shows that the queen was cunning enough to secure an alibi, so to speak, for her signature, and to leave a rear door open for herself, through which she could slip with her exalted name, in case the affair was discovered, and leave me to be her bete de souffrance. But I am by no means disposed to accept this part, for I declare here solemnly, before God and man, that I am innocent of the crime laid to my charge. I was only a too true and devoted friend, that is all! I sacrificed my own safety and peace to the welfare of my exalted friends, and I now complain of them that they have treated me unthankfully in this matter. But they must bear the blame, they alone. Let the queen show that she did not give the cardinal a rendezvous in the park of Versailles; let her further show that she did not sign the promissory note, and the letters to his eminence, and then I shall be exposed to the charge of being a deceiver and a traitor. But so long as this is not done—and it cannot be done, for God is just, and will not permit the innocent to suffer for the guilty—so long will all France, yes, all Europe, be convinced that the queen is the guilty one; that she received the jewels, and paid the cardinal for them as a coquette and light- minded woman does, with tender words, with smiles and loving looks, and, last of all, with a rendezvous!"
"You are right," said the attorney-general, as the countess ceased, and looked around her with a victorious smile—"you are quite right, God IS just, and He will not permit the innocent to suffer for the guilty. He will not let your infernal intrigue stand as truth; He will tear away the mask of innocence from your deceiver's face, and lot you stand forth in all your impudence and deception."
"My lord," cried the countess, smiling, "those are very high- sounding words, but they are no proofs."
"We will now give the proofs," answered the attorney-general, turning to one of the guards. "Let the lady enter who is waiting in the room outside."
The officer gave a sign to one of the men who stood near the door leading to the witness-room; he entered the adjoining apartment, but soon after returned alone and whispered something in the officer's ear.
"The lady asks the court's indulgence for a few moments," said the officer, aloud. "As she must be separated some hours from her child, she asks permission to suckle it a few moments."
The president cast an inquiring look at the judges, who all nodded affirmatively.
The law was silent before the voice of Nature; all waited noiselessly till the witness had quieted her child.
And now the door of the witness-room opened, and upon the threshold was seen a woman's figure, at whose unexpected appearance a cry of amazement rose from the lips of all the spectators on the tribune, and all eyes were aflame with curiosity.
It was the queen—no one but the queen who was entering the hall! It was her slim, fine figure, it was her fresh, voting, rosy countenance, with the fair, charming oval of her delicately-tinted cheeks; it was her finely-cut mouth, with the full, lower lips; there were her large, grayish-blue eyes; her high forehead; her beautiful, chestnut-brown hair, arranged in exactly the manner that Leonard, the queen's hair-dresser, was accustomed to dress hers. The rest of her toilet, also, was precisely like that of the queen when she appeared in the gardens of Versailles and dispensed with court etiquette. A bright dress of light linen flowed down in long, broad folds over her beautiful figure; her chest and the full shoulders were covered by a short white robe a l'enfant, and on the loftily dressed hair lay a white cap, trimmed with lace.
Yes, it was the queen, as she had often been seen wandering up and down in the broad walks of Versailles; and even the ladies on the tribune, who often enough had seen the monarch close at hand and had spoken with her, looked in astonishment at the entering figure, and whispered, "It is she! The queen herself is coming to give her evidence. What folly, what thoughtlessness!"
While all eyes were directed upon this unexpected figure, no one had thought of the Countess Lamotte-Valois, no one had noticed how she shrank back, and then started from her seat, as if she wanted to fly from the horror which so suddenly confronted her.
No, the officer who stood near her chair had noticed this movement, and with a quick and strong grasp seized her arm.
"What do you want, madame? Why do you rise from your chair after being told to sit still, if you do not want to be chained?"
At the touch of the officer, Lamotte had, as it appeared, regained her whole composure, and had conquered her alarm.
"I rose," she said calmly, "to pay my respects to the Queen of France, like a good subject; but as I see that no one else stands up, and that they allow the queen to enter without rising from their seats, I will take mine again." And the countess slowly sank into her chair.
"Come nearer," cried President de L'Aigre to the royal personage; and she stepped forward, allowing her eyes to wander unconstrainedly through the hall, and then, as she approached the table, behind which the president and the judges sat, greeting them with a friendly nod and smile which caused her lips to part. Again there passed through the hall a wave of amazement, for now, when the lady opened her mouth, the first dissimilarity to the queen appeared. Behind her cherry-red lips there were two rows of poor, broken teeth, with gaps between them, whereas Marie Antoinette had, on account of her faultless teeth, been the object of admiration and envy to all the ladies of her court.
"Who are you, madame, and what are you called?" asked the president.
"Who am I, sir?" replied the lady, with a slight flush, "Good Lord! that is hard to answer. I was a light-minded and idle girl, that did not like to work, but did like to live well, and had no objection to dress, and led a tolerably easy life, till one day my heart was surprised by love. After being enamoured of my Sergeant George, I resolved to lead an honorable and virtuous life; and since my little son was born I have tried to be merely a good mother and a good wife. Do you now want to know what I am called? Down to the present time I am called Mademoiselle Oliva. You had me arrested in Brussels and brought here exactly nine days before the appointed time of my marriage with my dear George. He had promised me that our child should be able to regard us as regularly married people, and he wanted to keep his promise, but you prevented him, and it is your fault that my dear little boy was born in prison, and that his father was not there to greet him. But you will confess that I am guilty of no crime, and then you will fulfil my wish, and give me a written certificate of my innocence—that is," she corrected herself, blushing, "of my innocence in this matter, that I may be able to justify myself to my son, when I have to tell him that he was born in prison. It is such a dreadful thing for a mother to have anything that she is ashamed to confess to her child!"
A murmur of applause ran through the hall, and the ladies upon the tribune looked with sympathy upon this fair woman, whose faithful love made her beautiful, and whose mother-feeling gave her dignity.
"So your name is Mademoiselle Oliva?" asked the president.
"Yes, sir, that unfortunately is the name I am called by," answered she, sighing, "but as soon as I leave the prison I shall be married, and then I shall be called Madame George. For my child's sake, you would do me a great kindness now if you would call me madame."
At these naive words a smile lighted up the stern faces of the judges, and sped like a ray of sunlight over all the countenances of the spectators. Even the rigid features of the attorney-general were touched for an instant with the glow; only those of the Countess Lamotte darkened.
"Your majesty plays to-day the NAIVE part of a paysanne perversee," cried she, with a hard, shrill voice. "It is well known that your majesty loves to play comedies, and that you are sometimes content with even the minor parts. Now, do not look at me, Mrs. Queen, with such a withering look. Do not forget that you are playing the part of Mademoiselle Oliva, and that you have come secretly from Versailles to save your honor and your diamonds."
"Officer," cried the president, "if the accused allows herself to speak a single word without being asked, lock her up and gag her."
The officer bowed in token of his unconditional obedience, and drew out the wooden gag, which he showed the countess, going straight to her chair.
"I will comply with your wish," said the president, turning to the living portrait of the queen. "I will call you madame, if you will promise me in return to answer all my questions faithfully."
"I promise you that, by my child," answered Mademoiselle Oliva, bowing slightly.
"Tell me, then, do you know the person who sits in that chair?"
Mademoiselle Oliva cast a quick look at Lamotte, who glared at her from her seat.
"Oh, yes, I know her," she said. "That is, I do not know her name, I only know that she lives in a splendid palace, that she is very rich, and has everything nice."
"How do you know this lady? Tell us that."
"I will tell you, gentlemen, and I swear to you that so sure as I want to be an honorable wife, I will tell you the whole truth. I was walking one day in the Palais Royal, when a tall, slim, gentlemanly man, who had passed me several times, came up to me, said some soft things, and asked permission to visit me. I answered him, smiling, that he could visit me at once if he would take me into one of the eating-houses and dine with me. He accepted my proposition, and we dined together, and were merry and jolly enough for a new acquaintance. When we parted we promised to meet there again on the morrow, and so we did. After the second dinner, the amiable gentleman conducted me home, and there told me that he was very distinguished and influential, that he had friends at court, and was very well acquainted with the king and queen. He told me that he would procure for me powerful patrons, and told me that a very distinguished lady, who had interested herself in my behalf through his description, would visit me and make my acquaintance. On the next day he really came in company with a lady, who greeted me very friendly, and was astonished at her first glimpse of me."
"Who was that lady?" asked the president.
Mademoiselle pointed with her thumb over her shoulder. "The lady yonder," said she.
"Are you sure of it?"
"As of my own life, Mr. President."
"Good. Good. You saw the lady quite frequently?"
"Yes, she visited me twice more, and told me about the queen, and the splendid way they lived at the court; she promised me that she would bring me to the court and make a great lady out of me, if I would do what she wanted me to do. I promised it gladly, and declared myself ready to do every thing that she should order me, if she would keep her promise and bring me to the court, that I might speak with the king and the queen."
"But why were you so curious to go to the court and speak with the king and the queen?"
"Why? Good Lord! that is very simple and natural. It is a very easy thing for the king to make a captain out of a sergeant, and as the king, so people say, does nothing but what the queen tells him to, I wanted of course before every thing to have a good word from the queen. I should have liked to see my dear George wearing epaulets, and it must have tremendously pleased my boy to have come into the world the child of a captain."
"Did you tell that to the lady?"
"Certainly I told her, and she promised me that the queen would undoubtedly do me the favor, provided that I would do every thing that she bade me do in the name of the queen. She told me, then, that the queen had ordered her to seek a person suitable to play a part in a little comedy, which she was privately preparing; that I was just the person to play this part, and if I would do it well and tell nobody in the world, not even George, when he should come home from Brussels, she would not only give me her help in the future, but pay me fifteen thousand francs for my assistance. I consented with great joy, of course, for fifteen thousand francs was a magnificent dowry for a marriage, and I was very happy in being able to earn so much without having to work very hard for it."
"But did it not occur to you that that was a dangerous game that they wanted yon to play, and for which they were going to pay such a high sum?"
"I did have such thoughts once in a while, but I suppressed them soon, so as not to be troubled about my good fortune; and besides that, the countess assured me that every thing was done at the command of the queen, and that it was the queen who was going to pay the fifteen thousand francs. That quieted me completely, for as an obedient and true subject it was my duty to obey the queen, and show devotion to her in all things, more particularly when she was going to pay so magnificently. Meantime, I comforted myself that it could be nothing bad and criminal that the queen could order done, and the countess assured me that too, and told me that every thing I had to do was to represent another person, and to make a lover believe that he was with his love, which would, of course, please him immensely, and make him very happy. Besides, I did not think it any sin to do my part toward making an unfortunate lover have happy thoughts. I was very much pleased with this part, and made my plan to speak to him in very tender and loving tones."
"But were you not curious to know for whom you were playing this part, and what lady you had to represent?"
"I should certainly have liked very much to know, but the countess forbade me to ask, and told me that I must suppress my curiosity; and, on the other hand, make an effort to notice nothing at all, else I should receive only half of the money; and, besides, if they noticed that I knew what I was doing, I might be sent to the Bastile. I was still upon that, and did not trouble myself about any thing further, and asked nothing more, and only thought of learning my lesson well, that I might get the fifteen thousand francs for my marriage portion."
"So they gave you a lesson to learn?"
"Yes, the countess, and the gentleman who brought her to me, came twice to me, and taught me how I ought to walk, how to hold my head, to nod, and reach my hand to kiss. After teaching me this, they came one day and carried me in a splendid coach to the house of the countess. There I dined with them, and then we drove to Versailles. They walked with me in the park, and at a place near the pavilion they stood still, and said to me: 'Here is where you will play your little comedy to-morrow; this is the spot which the queen has herself appointed, and every thing which takes place is at the express command of her majesty.' That entirely quieted me, arid I turned back to Paris overjoyed, in company with the countess and her companion. They kept me that night in their beautiful home, and on the next day we drove again to Versailles, where the countess had a small suite of apartments. She herself dressed me, and condescended to help me like a waiting-maid."
"What kind of a suit did she put upon you?"
"Exactly such a one as I am wearing to-day, only when we were ready, and it had begun to grow dark, the countess laid a white mantle over me, and covered my head with a cap. Then she drove me into the park, gave me a letter, and said: 'You will give this letter to a gentleman who will meet us.' We went in silence through the paths and alleys of the park, and I confess that my heart beat right anxiously, and that I had to think a great deal upon the fifteen thousand francs, in order to keep my courage up."
"Did you go with the countess alone, or was some one else with you?"
"The gentleman who first made my acquaintance, and who was, as I believe, the husband of the countess, accompanied us. After we had walked about for a while, he stopped and said: 'Now you must walk alone; I shall, however, be there at the right time to make a noise, and to put the amorous lover to flight.' Then he stepped into the thicket, and we were alone. On this the countess gave me a rose, and said: 'You will give this rose with the letter to the person, and say nothing more than this. You know what that signifies.' The countess made me repeat that three times, and then said: 'You need not add a single word to that. The queen herself has selected these words, and she will hear whether you repeat them correctly, for she will stand behind you, and be a spectator of the whole scene.' On this the countess withdrew, leading me into a thicket, and soon the gentleman came, and I came out of the place of my concealment. After he had made me some very deep reverences, I handed him the rose and the letter, and repeated the very words the countess had taught me. The gentleman sank upon his knee, and kissed the hand which I extended with the rose. At this moment we heard a noise, as if of men's steps approaching, and the countess came running up. 'For God's sake!' she cried, 'we are watched! Quick, quick, come!' and she drew me hurriedly away. We left the garden, and returned to the dwelling of the countess, and there I remained alone, for the countess and her husband said, laughing, that they must go and console the old gentleman for having so short a rendezvous, and for being so quickly disturbed. I asked whether I had done my part well, and the countess said that the queen was very well satisfied with me—that she had stood in the thicket, and had observed all. Early next morning we rode back to Paris, and when we had arrived at their hotel, the countess paid me the fifteen thousand francs all correctly; but she made this condition, that I must go to see my George as soon as possible, and that till I should go, I must remain in a little room in her house. I wrote at once to George and announced my coming, and the time seemed endless till I received his answer, although the countess paid a great deal of attention to me, and always invited me to her petits soupers, where we had a right merry time. As soon as the answer had come from my George, who wrote me that he was expecting me, I took my departure in an elegant post- carriage, like a lady; for the countess was not willing that I should travel in a diligence, and her husband had paid in advance for all relays of horses as far as Brussels, so that I had a very agreeable, comfortable ride. And this, I think, is all that I have to relate, and my son will not have an unquiet night, for I have kept my word, and told every thing truthfully."
"You have nothing to add to this?"
"What could I add to this?" asked Oliva, sighing. "You know as well as I the end of my history. You know, that a fortnight after that little scene at Versailles, I was arrested by police agents in Brussels, and brought to Paris. You know, also, that I swore to take my life if my dear George were not allowed to visit me daily in prison. You know that my dear child was born in prison, and that it is now half a year old, while his poor mother is accused, and not yet gained her freedom. You know that all! What have I that I could add to this? I beg you, let me go and return to my child, for my little George is certainly awake, and his father does not know how to quiet him when he cries."
"You may go to your child," said the president, with a gentle smile. "Officer, conduct Madame Oliva back to the witness-room."
Madame Oliva expressed her thanks for this by throwing a kiss of the hand to the president and the judges, and then hastily followed the officer, who opened the door of the adjoining room. As it swung back, a loud cry of a child was heard, and Madame Oliva, who was standing upon the threshold, turned her fair face back to the president with a triumphant expression, and smiled.
"Did I not tell you so?" she cried. "My son is calling, for he is longing for me. I am coming, my little George, I am coming!"
She sprang forward, and the door closed behind her.
"You have heard the statements of the witness," said the president, addressing Countess Lamotte. "You see now that we have the proof of the ignominious and treacherous intrigues which you have conducted. Will you, in the face of such proofs, still endeavor to deny the facts which have been given in evidence?"
"I have seen neither proofs nor facts," answered Lamotte, scornfully. "I have only been amazed at the self-possession with which the queen goes through her part, and wondered how far her light-mindedness will carry her. She is truly an adroit player, and she has played the part of Madame Oliva so well, that not a motion nor a tone would have betrayed the queen."
"How, madame?" asked the president, in amazement.
"Do you pretend to assert that this witness, who has just left the hall, is not Madame Oliva, but another person? Do you not know that this witness, this living portrait of the queen, has for ten months been detained at the Bastile, and that no change in the person is possible?"
"I only know that the queen has played her part well," said Lamotte, shrugging her shoulders. "She has even gone so far, in her desire to show a difference between Madame Oliva and the queen, as to make a very great sacrifice, and to disclose a secret of her beauty. She has laid aside her fine false teeth, and let us see her natural ones, in order that we may see a difference between the queen and Madame Oliva. Confess only, gentlemen, that it is a rare and comical sight to have a queen so like a courtesan, that you can only distinguish the one from the other by the teeth."
And the countess broke out into scornful laughter, which found a loud echo in some of the veiled ladies in the tribune.
"Moderate your pleasantry, madame," commanded the president. "Remember that you are in a grave and perilous situation, and that justice hangs over you like the sword of Damocles. You have already invoked your fate, in calling God to witness that the innocent shall not suffer for the guilty, and now this word is fulfilled in yourself. The whole edifice of your lies and intrigues crumbles over you, and will cover your head with the dust of eternal infamy."
"I experience nothing of it yet, God be thanked," cried Lamotte, shrugging her shoulders.
"You will be punished for these shameless deeds sooner than you expected," answered the president, solemnly.
"You said that you wanted proof that that was not the queen who gave the rendezvous to the cardinal in Versailles; that the promissory note was not subscribed by the queen, and that the letters to the cardinal were not written by her. If the proof of this were to be displayed to you, it would be right to accuse you of high-treason. We have already exhibited the proof that it was not Queen Marie Antoinette who made an appointment with the cardinal in Versailles, but that it was the comedy planned and brought out by yourself, with which you deceived the cardinal, and made him believe that he was going to buy the necklace of which you intended to rob him. It only remains to show you that the subscription of the queen and the letters to the cardinal were forged by you."
"And certainly," cried the countess, "I am very curious to have you exhibit the proofs of this!"
"That is a very simple matter," answered the president, calmly. "We confront you with him who at your direction imitated the handwriting of the queen and wrote the letters. Officer, summon the last witness!"
The officer threw open the door which led to the next room. A breathless silence prevailed in the great hall; every one was intensely eager to see this last witness who was to uncover the web of frauds of the countess's spinning. The great burning eyes of the accused, too, were turned to this door, and her compressed lips and her piercing glance disclosed a little of the anxiety of her soul, although her bearing and manner were still impudent and scornful.
And now the door opened, and a cry of amazement and rage broke from the lips of the countess.
"Retaux de Vilette," cried she madly, doubling up her little hands into fists and extending them toward the man who now entered the hall. "Shameful, shameful! He has turned against me!"
And losing for a moment her composure, she sank back upon the seat from which she had risen in her fright. A deathly paleness covered her cheeks, and, almost swooning, she rested her head on the back of the chair.
"You now see that God is just," said the president, after a brief pause. "Your own conscience testifies against you and compels you to confess yourself guilty."
She sprang up and compelled herself to resume her self-possessed manner, and to appear cool and defiant as before.
"No!" she said, "I do not confess myself guilty, and I have no reason to! My heart only shuddered when I saw this man enter, whom I have saved from hunger, overwhelmed with kindness, and whom my enemies have now brought up to make him testify against me! But it is over—I am now ready to see new lies, new infamies heaped upon me: M. Retaux de Vilette may now speak on, his calumnies will only drop from the undented mail of my conscience!"
And with possessed bearing and an air of proud scorn, Countess Lamotte looked at the man who, bowing and trembling, advanced by the side of the officer to the green table, and sedulously shunned meeting the eyes of Lamotte, which rested on him like two fiery daggers.
The president propounded the usual questions as to name and rank. He answered that his name was Retaux de Vilette, and that he was steward and secretary of the Countess Lamotte-Valois. On further questioning, he declared that after the count and the countess had been arrested he had fled, and had gone to Geneva in order to await the end of the trial. But as it lingered so long, he had attempted to escape to England, but had been arrested.
"Why do you wish to escape?" asked the attorney-general.
"Because I feared being involved in the affairs of the Countess Lamotte," answered Retaux de Vilette, in low tones.
"Say rather you knew that you would be involved with them. You have at a previous examination deposed circumstantially, and you cannot take back what you testified then, for your denial would be of no avail. Answer, therefore: What have you done? Why were you afraid of being involved in the trial of Countess Lamotte?"
"Because I had done a great wrong," answered Retaux, with vehemence. "Because I had allowed myself to be led astray by the promises, the seductive arts, the deceptions of the countess. I was poor; I lived unseen and unnoticed, and I wished to be rich, honored, and distinguished. The countess promised me all this. She would persuade the cardinal to advance me to honor; she would introduce me to the court, and through her means I should become rich and sought after. I believed all this, and like her devoted slave I did all that she asked of me."
"Slavish soul!" cried the countess, with an expression of unspeakable scorn.
"What did the countess desire of you?" asked the president. "What did you do in her service?"
"I wrote the letters which were intended for the cardinal," answered Retaux de Vilette. "The countess composed them, and I wrote them in the handwriting of the queen."
"How did you know her handwriting?"
"The countess gave me a book in which a letter of the queen's was printed in exact imitation of her hand. I copied the letters as nearly as I could, and so worked out my sentences."
"He lies, he lies!" cried the countess, with a fierce gesture.
"And how was it with the promissory note to the jewellers, Bohmer and Bassenge? Do you know about that?"
"Yes," answered Retaux, with a sigh, "I do know about it, for I wrote it at the direction of the countess, and added the signature."
"Had you a copy?"
"Yes, the signature of the fac-simile."
"In the printed letter was there the subscription which you inserted?"
"No, there was only the name 'Marie Antoinette,' nothing further; but the countess thought that this was only a confidential way of writing her name, as a daughter might use it in a letter to a mother (it was a letter written by the queen to her mother), but that in a document of a more business-like character there must be an official signature. We had a long discussion about it, which resulted in our coming to the conclusion that the proper form would be 'Marie Antoinette of France.' So I practised this several times, and finally wrote it on the promissory note."
"He lies!" cried the countess, stamping on the floor. "He is a born liar and slanderer."
"I am prepared to show the proof at once that I speak the truth," said Retaux de Vilette. "If you will give me writing-materials I will write the signature of the queen in the manner in which it is written on the promissory note."
The president gave the order for the requisite articles to be brought and laid on a side-table. Retaux took the pen, and with a rapid hand wrote some words, which he gave to the officer to be carried to the president.
The latter took the paper and compared it with the words which were written on the promissory note. He then passed the two to the attorney-general, and he to the judge next to him. The papers passed from hand to hand, and, after they came back to the president again, he rose from his seat:
"I believe that the characters on this paper precisely accord with those on the note. The witness has given what seems to me irrefutable testimony that he was the writer of that signature, as well as of the letters to the cardinal. He was the culpable instrument of the criminal Lamotte-Valois. Those of the judges who are of my opinion will rise."
The judges arose as one man.
The countess uttered a loud cry and fell, seized with fearful spasms, to the ground.
"I declare the investigation and hearings ended," said the president, covering his head. "Let the accused and the witnesses be removed, and the spectators' tribune be vacated. We will adjourn to the council-room to prepare the sentence, which will be given to- morrow."
THE BAD OMEN
The day was drawing to a close. That endlessly long day, that 31st of August, 1786, was coming to a conclusion. All Paris had awaited it with breathless excitement, with feverish impatience. No one had been able to attend to his business. The stores were closed, the workshops of the artisans were empty; even in the restaurants and cafes all was still; the cooks had nothing to do, and let the fire go out, for it seemed as if all Paris had lost its appetite—as if nobody had time to eat.
And in truth, on this day, Paris had no hunger for food that could satisfy the body. The city was hungry only for news, it longed for food which would satisfy its curiosity. And the news which would appease its craving was to come from the court-room of the prison! It was to that quarter that Paris looked for the stilling of its hunger, the satisfying of its desires.
The judges were assembled in the hall of the prison to pronounce the decisive sentence in the necklace trial, and to announce to all France, yes, all Europe, whether the Queen of France was innocent in the eyes of God and His representatives on earth, or whether a shade of suspicion was thenceforth to rest upon that lofty brow!
At a very early hour of the morning, half-past five, the judges of the high court of Parliament, forty-nine in number, gathered at the council-room in order to pronounce sentence. At the same early hour, an immense, closely-thronged crowd gathered in the broad square in front of the prison, and gazed in breathless expectation at the great gate of the building, hoping every minute that the judges would come out, and that they should learn the sentence.
But the day wore on, and still the gates remained shut; no news came from the council-room to enlighten the curiosity of the crowd that filled the square and the adjacent streets.
Here and there the people began to complain, and loud voices were heard grumbling at the protracted delay, the long deliberations of the judges. Here and there faces were seen full of scornful defiance, full of laughing malice, working their way through the crowd, and now and then dropping stinging words, which provoked to still greater impatience. All the orators of the clubs and of the secret societies were there among the crowd, all the secret and open enemies of the queen had sent their instruments thither to work upon the people with poisonous words and mocking observations, and to turn public opinion in advance against the queen, even in case the judges did not condemn her; that is, if they did not declare the cardinal innocent of conspiracy against the sovereign, and contempt of the majesty of the queen.
It was known that in his resume, the attorney-general had alluded to the punishment of the cardinal. That was the only news which had worked its way out of the court-room. Some favored journalist, or some friend of the queen, had heard this; it spread like the wind all over Paris, and in thousands upon thousands of copies the words of the attorney-general were distributed.
His address purported to run as follows: that "Cardinal de Rohan is indicted on the accusation, and must answer the Parliament and the attorney-general respecting the following charges: of audaciously mixing himself up with the affairs of the necklace, and still more audaciously in supposing that the queen would make an appointment with him by night; and that for this he would ask the pardon of the king and the queen in presence of the whole court. Further, the cardinal is enjoined to lay down his office as grand almoner within a certain time, to remove to a certain distance from the royal residence and not to visit the places where the royal family may be living, and lastly, to remain in prison till the complete termination of the trial."
The friends and dependants of the cardinal, the enemies and persecutors of the queen, received this decision of the attorney- general with vexation and anger; they found fault with the servility of the man who would suffer the law to bow before the throne; they made dishonorable remarks and calumnious innuendoes about the queen, who, with her coquetry and the amount received from the jewels, had gained over the judges, and who would, perhaps have appointed a rendezvous with every one of them in order to gain him over to her side.
"Even if the judges clear her," cried the sharp voice of Marat from the heart of the crowd, "the people will pass sentence upon her. The people are always right; the people cannot be bribed—they are like God in this; and the people will not disown their verdict before the beautiful eyes and the seductive smiles of the Austrian woman. The people will not be made fools of; they will not believe in the story of the counterfeited letters and the forged signature."
"No," shouted the crowd, laughing in derision, "we will not believe it. The queen wrote the letters; her majesty understands how to write love-letters!"
"The queen loves to have a hand in all kinds of nonsense," thundered the brewer Santerre, in another group. "She wanted to see whether a pretty girl from the street could play the part of the Queen of France, and at the same time she wanted to avenge herself upon the cardinal because she knew that he once found fault with her before her mother the empress, on account of her light and disreputable behavior, and the bad manners which, as the dauphiness, she would introduce into this court. Since then she has with her glances, her smiles, and her apparent anger, so worked upon the cardinal as to make him fall over ears in love with the beautiful, pouting queen. And that was just what she wanted, for now she could avenge herself. She appointed a rendezvous with the cardinal, and while she secretly looked on the scene in the thicket, she allowed the pretty Mademoiselle Oliva to play her part. And you see that it is not such a difficult thing to represent a queen, for Mademoiselle Oliva performed her part so well that the cardinal was deceived, and took a girl from the streets to be the Queen of France."
"Oh, better times are coming, better times are coming!" cried Simon the cobbler, who was close by, with his coarse laugh. "The cardinal took a girl from the streets for the Queen of France; but wait a little and we shall see the time when she will have to sweep the streets with a broom, that the noble people may walk across with dry feet!"
In the loud laugh with which the crowd greeted this remark of the cobbler, was mingled one single cry of anger, which, however, was overborne by the rough merriment of the mass. It came from the lips of a man in simple citizen's costume, who had plunged into the mob and worked his way forward with strong arms, in order to reach a place as near as possible to the entrance-door of the prison, and to be among the first to learn the impending sentence.
No one, as just said, had heard this cry; no one had troubled himself about this young man, with the bold defiant face, who, with shrugged shoulders, was listening to the malicious speeches which were uttered all around him, and who replied to them all with flaming looks of anger, pressing his lips closely together, in order to hold back the words which could hardly be suppressed.
He succeeded at last in reaching the very door of the prison, and stood directing his eyes thither with gloomy looks of curiosity.
His whole soul lay in this look; he heard nothing of the mocking speeches which echoed around him; he saw nothing of what took place about him. He saw only this fatal door; he only heard the noises which proceeded from within the prison.
At last, after long waiting, and when the sun had set, the door opened a little, and a man came out. The people who, at his appearance, had broken into a loud cry of delight, were silent when it was seen that it was not the officer who would announce the verdict with his stentorian voice, but that it was only one of the ordinary servants of the court, who had been keeping watch at the outer gate.
This man ascended with an indifferent air the steps of the staircase, and to the loud questions which were hurled at him by the crowd, whether the cardinal were declared innocent, he answered quietly, "I do not know. But I think the officer will soon make his appearance. My time is up, and I am going home, for I am half dead with hunger and thirst."
"Let the poor hungry man go through," cried the young man, pressing up to him. "Only see how exhausted he is. Come, old fellow, give me your hand; support yourself on me."
And he took the man by the arm, and with his powerful elbows forced a way through the crowd. The people let them pass, and directed their attention again to the door of the prison.
"The verdict is pronounced?" asked the young man, softly.
"Yes, Mr. Toulan," he whispered, "the councillor gave me just now, as I was handing him a glass of water, the paper on which he had written it."
"Give it to me, John, but so that nobody can see; otherwise they will suspect what the paper contains, and they will all grab at it and tear it in bits."
The servant slid, with a quick motion, a little folded paper into the hand of the young man, who thanked him for it with a nod and a smile, and then quickly dropped his arm, and forced his way in another direction through the crowd. Soon, thanks to his youth and his skill, he had worked through the dense mass; then with a flying step he sped through the street next to the square, then more swiftly still through the side streets and alleys, till he reached the gate that led out to the street of Versailles. Outside of this there was a young man in a blue blouse, who, in an idle and listless manner, was leading a bridled horse up and down the road.
"Halloo, Richard, come here!" cried the young man.
"Ah! Mr. Toulan," shouted the lad in the blouse, running up with the horse. "You have come at last, Mr. Toulan. I have been already waiting eight hours for you."
"I will give you a franc for every hour," said Mr. Toulan, swinging himself into the saddle. "Now go home, Richard, and greet my sweetheart, if you see her."
He gave his horse a smart stroke, pressed the spurs into his flanks, and the powerful creature sped like an arrow from a bow along the road to Versailles.
In Versailles, too, and in the royal palace, this day had been awaited with anxious expectations. The king, after ending his daily duties with his ministers, had gone to his workshop in order to work with his locksmith, Girard, upon a new lock, whose skilful construction was an invention of the king.
The queen, too, had not left her room the whole day, and even her friend, the Duchess Julia de Polignac, had not been able to cheer up the queen by her pleasant talk.
At last, when she saw that all her efforts were vain, and that nothing could dissipate the sadness of the queen, the duchess had made the proposition to go to Trianon, and there to call together the circle of her intimate friends.
But the queen sorrowfully shook her head, and gazed at the duchess with a troubled look.
"You speak of the circle of my friends," she said. "Ah! the circle of those whom I considered my friends is so rent and broken, that scarcely any torn fragments of it remain, and I fear to bring them together again, for I know that what once is broken cannot be mended again."
"And so does your majesty not believe in your friends any more?" asked the duchess, reproachfully. "Do you doubt us? Do you doubt me?"
"I do not doubt you all, and, before all things else, not you," said Marie Antoinette, with a lingering, tender look. "I only doubt the possibility of a queen's having faithful friends. I always forgot, when I was with my friends, that I was the queen, but they never forgot it."
"Madame, they ought never to forget it," replied the duchess, softly. "With all their love for your majesty, your friends ought never to forget that reverence is due you as much as love, and subjection as much as friendship. They ought never to make themselves your majesty's equals; and if your majesty, in the grace of your fair and gentle heart, designs to condescend to us and make yourself like us, yet we ought never to be so thoughtless as to raise ourselves to you, and want to make ourselves the equals of our queen."
"Oh, Julia! you pain me—you pain me unspeakably," sighed Marie Antoinette, pressing her hand to her heart, as if she wanted to keep back the tears which would mount into her eyes.
"Your majesty knows," continued the duchess, with her gentle, and yet terribly quiet manner, "your majesty knows how modestly I make use of the great confidence which you most graciously bestow upon me; how seldom and how tremblingly my lips venture to utter the dear name of my queen, of whom I may rightly talk only in intimate converse with your exalted mother and your royal husband. Your majesty knows further—"
"Oh! I know all, all," interrupted the queen, sadly. "I know that it is not the part of a queen to be happy, to love, to be loved, to have friends. I know that you all, whom I have so tenderly loved, feel yourselves more terrified than benefited; I know, that with this confession, happiness has withdrawn from me. I look into the future and see the dark clouds which are descending, and threatening us with a tempest. I see all; I have no illusions more. The fair days are all past—the sunshine of Trianon, and the fragrance of its flowers."
"And will your majesty not go there to-day?" asked the duchess. "It is such beautiful weather, the sun shines so splendidly, and we shall have such a glorious sunset."
"A glorious sunset!" repeated Marie Antoinette, with a bitter smile. "A queen is at least allowed to see the sun go down; etiquette has not forbidden a queen to see the sun set and night approach. But the poor creature is not allowed to see the sun rise, and rejoice in the beauty of the dawn. I have once, since I was a queen, seen the sun rise, and all the world cried 'Murder,' and counted it a crime, and all France laughed at the epigrams and jests with which my friends punished me for the crime that the queen of France, with her court, had seen the sun rise. And now you want to allow me to see it set, but I will not; I will not look at this sad spectacle of coming night. In me it is night, and I feel the storms which are drawing nigh. Go, Julia, leave me alone, for you can see that there is nothing to be done with me to-day. I cannot laugh, I cannot be merry. Go, for my sadness might infect you, and that would make me doubly sad."
The duchess did not reply; she only made a deep reverence, and went with light, inaudible step over the carpet to the door. The queen's face had been turned away, but as the light sound of the door struck her ear, she turned quickly around and saw that she was alone.
"She has left me—she has really gone," sighed the queen, bitterly. "Oh! she is like all the rest, she never loved me. But who does love me?" asked she, in despair. "Who is there in the world that loves me, and forgets that I am the queen? My God! my heart cries for love, yearns for friendship, and has never found them. And they make this yearning of mine a crime; they accuse me that I have a heart. 0 my God! have pity upon me. Veil at least my eyes, that I may not see the faithlessness of my friends. Sustain at least my faith in the friendship of my Julia. Let me not have the bitterness of feeling that I am alone, inconsolably alone."
She pressed her hands before her face, and sank upon a chair, and sat long there, motionless, and wholly given over to her sad, bitter feelings.
After a long time she let her hands fall from her face, and looked around with a pained, confused look. The sun had gone down, it began to grow dark, and Marie Antoinette shuddered within herself.
"By this time the sentence has been pronounced," she muttered, softly. "By this time it is known whether the Queen of France can be slandered and insulted with impunity. Oh! if I only could be sure. Did not Campan say—I will go to Campan." And the queen rose quickly, went with a decisive step out of her cabinet; then through the toilet-room close by, and opened the door which led to the chamber of her first lady-in-waiting, Madame de Campan.
Madame de Campan stood at the window, and gazed with such a look of intense expectation out into the twilight, that she did not notice the entrance of the queen till the latter called her loudly by name.
"The queen!" cried she, drawing back terrified from the window. "The queen! and—here, in my room!"
Marie Antoinette made a movement of impatience. "You want to say that it is not becoming for a queen to enter the room of her trusted waiting-maid, that it is against etiquette. I know that indeed, but these are days, my good Campan, when etiquette has no power over us, and when, behind the royal purple, the poor human heart, in all its need, comes into the foreground. This is such a day for me, and as I know you are true, I have come to you. Did you not tell me, Campan, that you should receive the news as soon as the sentence was pronounced?"
"Yes, your majesty, I do hope to, and that is the reason why I am standing at the window looking for my messenger."
"How curious!" said the queen, thoughtfully. "They call me Queen of France, and yet I have no one who hastens to give me news of this important affair, while my waiting-maid has devoted friends, who do for her what no one does for the queen."
"I beg your majesty's pardon," answered Madame de Campan, smiling. "What they do to-day for me, they do only because I am the waiting- maid of the queen. I was yesterday at Councillor Bugeaud's, in order to pay my respects to the family after a long interval, for his wife is a cousin of mine."
"That means," said the queen, with a slight smile, "that you went there, not to visit your cousin, the councillor's wife, but to visit the councillor himself. Now confess, my good Campan, you wanted to do a little bribery."
"Well, I confess to your majesty, I wanted to see if it was really true that Councillor Bugeaud has gone over to the enemy. Your majesty knows that Madame de Marsan has visited all the councillors, and adjured them by God and the Holy Church, not to condemn the cardinal, but to declare him innocent."
"That is, they will free the cardinal that I may be condemned," said the queen, angrily. "For to free him is the same as to accuse me and have my honor tarnished."
"That was what I was saying to my cousin, Councillor Bugeaud, and happily I found supporters in his own family. Oh, I assure your majesty that in this family there are those who are devoted, heart and soul, to your majesty."
"Who are these persons?" asked the queen. "Name them to me, that in my sad hours I may remember them."
"There is, in the first place, the daughter of the councillor, the pretty Margaret, who is so enthusiastic for your majesty that she saves a part of her meagre pocket-money that she may ride over to Versailles at every great festival to see your majesty; and then particularly there is the lover of this little person, a young man named Toulan, a gifted, fine young fellow, who almost worships your majesty—he is the one who promised me to bring news at once after the sentence is pronounced, and it is more owing to his eloquence than to mine that Councillor Bugeaud saw the necessity of giving his vote against the cardinal and putting himself on the right side."
At this instant the door which led into the antechamber was hastily flung open, and a lackey entered.
"The gentleman whom you expected has just arrived," he announced.
"It is Mr. Toulan," whispered Madame de Campan to the queen; "he brings the sentence. Tell the gentleman," she then said aloud to the lackey, "to wait a moment in the antechamber; I will receive him directly.
"Go, I beg your majesty," she continued as the lackey withdrew, "I beg your majesty to graciously allow me to receive the young man here."
"That is to say, my dear Campan," said the queen, smiling, "to vacate the premises and leave the apartment. But I am not at all inclined to, I prefer to remain here. I want to see this young man of whom you say that he is such a faithful friend, and then I should like to know the news as soon as possible that he brings. See here, the chimney-screen is much taller than I, and if I go behind, the young man will have no suspicion of my presence, especially as it is dark. Now let him come in. I am most eager to hear the news."
The queen quickly stepped behind the high screen, and Madame Campan opened the door of the antechamber.
"Come in, Mr. Toulan," she cried, and at once there appeared at the open door the tall, powerful figure of the young man. His cheeks were heated with the quick ride, his eyes glowed, and his breathing was rapid and hard. Madame Campan extended her hand to him and greeted him with a friendly smile. "So you have kept your word, Mr. Toulan," she said. "You bring me the news of the court's decision?"
"Yes, madame, I do," he answered softly, and with a touch of sadness. "I am only sorry that you have had to wait so long, but it is not my fault. It was striking eight from the tower of St. Jacques when I received the news."
"Eight," asked Madame de Campan, looking at the clock, "it is now scarcely nine. You do not mean to say that you have ridden the eighteen miles from Paris to Versailles in an hour?"
"I have done it, and I assure you that is nothing wonderful. I had four fresh horses stationed along the road, and they were good ones. I fancied myself sometimes a bird flying through the air, and it seems to me now as if I had flown. I beg your pardon if I sit down in your presence, for my feet tremble a little."
"Do sit down, my dear young friend," cried Campan, and she hastened herself to place an easy-chair for the young man.
"Only an instant," he said, sinking into it. "But believe me it is not the quick ride that makes my feet tremble, but joy and excitement. I shall perhaps have the pleasure to have done the queen a little service, for you told me that it would be very important for her majesty to learn the verdict as quickly as possible, and no one has got here before me, has there?"
"No, my friend, the queen will learn the news first through your means, and I shall say to her majesty that I have learned it through you."
"No, madame," he cried, quickly, "no, I would much rather you would not tell the queen, for who knows whether the news is good, or whether it would not trouble the noble heart of the queen, and then my name, if she should learn it, would only be disagreeable to her— rather that she should never hear it than that it should be connected with unpleasant associations to her."
"Then you do not know what the sentence is?" replied Campan, astonished. "Have you come to bring me the sentence, and yet do not know yourself what it is?"
"I do not know what it is, madame. The councillor, the father of my sweetheart, has sent it by me in writing, and I have not allowed myself to take time to read it. Perhaps, too, I was too cowardly for it, for if I had seen that it contained any thing that would trouble the queen, I should not have had courage to come here and deliver the paper to you. So I did not read it, and thought only of this, that I might perhaps save the queen a quarter of an hour's disquiet and anxious expectation. Here, madame, is the paper which contains the sentence. Take it to her majesty, and may the God of justice grant that it contain nothing which may trouble the queen!"
He stood up, and handed Madame de Campan a paper. "And now, madame," he continued, "allow me to retire, that I may return to Paris, for my sweetheart is expecting me, and, besides, they are expecting some disturbance in the city. I must go, therefore, to protect my house."
"Go, my young friend," said Madame de Campan, warmly pressing his hand. "Receive my heartiest thanks for your devotion, and be sure the queen shall hear of it. farewell, farewell!"
"No," cried Marie Antoinette, emerging from behind the screen with a laugh, "no, do not go, sir! Remain to receive your queen's thanks for the disinterested zeal which you have displayed for me this day."
"The queen!" whispered Toulan, turning pale, "the queen!"
And falling upon his knee he looked at the queen with such an expression of rapture and admiration that Marie Antoinette was touched.
"I have much to thank you for, Mr. Toulan," she said. "Not merely that you are the bearer of important news—I thank you besides for convincing me that the Queen of France has faithful and devoted friends, and to know this is so cheering to me that even if you bring me bad news, my sorrow will be softened by this knowledge. I thank you again, Mr. Toulan!"
Toulan perceived that the queen was dismissing him; he stood up and retreated to the door, his eyes fixed on the queen, and then, after opening the door, he sank, as it were, overcome by the storm of his emotions, a second time upon his knee, and folding his hands, raised his great, beaming eyes to heaven.
"God in heaven," he said loudly and solemnly, "I thank Thee for the joy of this hour. From this moment I devote myself to the service of my queen. She shall henceforth be the divinity whom I serve, and to whom I will, if I can avail any thing, freely offer my blood and life. This I swear, and God and the queen have heard my oath!"
And without casting another glance at the queen, without saluting her, Toulan rose and softly left the room, tightly closing the door after him.
"Singular," murmured the queen, "really singular. When he took the oath a shudder passed through my soul, and something seemed to say to me that I should some time be very unhappy, and that this young man should then be near me."
"Your majesty is excited to-day, and so every thing seems to have a sad meaning," said Madame de Campan, softly.
"But the sentence, the sentence!" cried the queen. "Give me the paper, I will read it myself."
Madame de Campan hesitated. "Would your majesty not prefer to receive it in the presence of the king, and have it read by his majesty?"
"No, no, Campan. If it is favorable, I shall have pleasure in carrying the good news to the king. If it is unfavorable, then I can collect myself before I see him."
"But it is so dark here now that it will be impossible to read writing."
"You are right, let us go into my sitting-room," said the queen. "The candles must be lighted there already. Come, Campan, since I am indebted to you for this early message, you shall be the first to learn it. Come, Campan, go with me!"
With a quick step the queen returned to her apartments, and entered her sitting-room, followed by Madame de Campan, whose countenance was filled with sad forebodings. The queen was right; the candles had already been lighted in her apartments, and diffused a light like that of day throughout her large sitting-room. In the little porcelain cabinet, however, there was a milder light, as Marie Antoinette liked to have it when she was alone and sans ceremonial. The candles on the main chandelier were not lighted, and on the table of Sevres china and rosewood which stood before the divan were two silver candlesticks, each with two wax candles. These four were the only lights in the apartment.
"Now, Campan," said the queen, sinking into the armchair which stood before the table, near the divan, "now give me the paper. But no, you would better read it to me—but exactly as it stands. You promise me that?"
"Your majesty has commanded, and I must obey," said Campan, bowing.
"Read, read," urged Marie Antoinette. "Let me know the sentence."
Madame de Campan unfolded the paper, and went nearer to the light in order to see better. Marie Antoinette leaned forward, folded both hands in her lap, and looked at Campan with an expression of eager expectation.
"Read, read!" she repeated, with trembling lips. Madame de Campan bowed and read:
"First.—The writing, the basis of the trial, the note and signatures, are declared to be forged in imitation of the queen's hand.
"Second.—Count Lamotte is sentenced in contumacion to the galleys for life.
"Third.—The woman Lamotte to be whipped, marked on both shoulders with the letter O, and to be confined for life.
"Fourth.—Retaux de Vilette to be banished for life from France.
"Fifth.—Mademoiselle Oliva is discharged.
"Sixth.—The lord cardinal—"
"Well," cried the queen, passionately, "why do you stammer, why do you tremble? He has been discharged; I know it already, for we are already at the names of the acquitted. Read on, Campan."
And Madame de Campan read on:
"The lord cardinal is acquitted from every charge, and is allowed to publish this acquittal."
"Acquitted!" cried the queen, springing from her seat, "acquitted! Oh, Campan, what I feared is true. The Queen of France has become the victim of cabals and intrigues. The Queen of France in her honor, dignity, and virtue, is injured and wounded by one of her own subjects, and there is no punishment for him; he is free. Pity me, Campan! But no, on the contrary, I pity you, I pity France! If I can have no impartial judges in a matter which darkens my character, what can you, what can all others hope for, when you are tried in a matter which touches your happiness and honor? [Footnote: The very words of the queen See "Memoires de Madame de Campan," vol. ii., o. 23.] I am sad, sad in my inmost soul, and it seems to me as if this instant were to overshadow my whole life; as if the shades of night had fallen upon me, and—what is that? Did you blow out the light, Campan?"
"Your majesty sees that I am standing entirely away from the lights."
"But only see," cried the queen, "one of the candles is put out!"
"It is true," said Madame de Campan, looking at the light, over which a bluish cloud was yet hovering. "The light is put out, but if your majesty allows me, I—"
She was silent, and her bearing assumed the appearance of amazement and horror.
The candle which had been burning in the other arm of the candlestick went out like the one before.
The queen said not a word. She gazed with pale lips and wide-opened eyes at both the lights, the last spark of which had just disappeared.
"Will your majesty allow me to light the candles again?" asked Madame de Campan, extending her hand to the candlestick.
But the queen held her hand fast. "Let them be," she whispered, "I want to see whether both the other lights—"
Suddenly she was convulsed, and, rising slowly from her arm-chair, pointed with silent amazement at the second candlestick.
One of the two other lights had gone out.
Only one was now burning, and dark shadows filled the cabinet. The one light faintly illumined only the centre, and shone with its glare upon the pale, horrified face of the queen.
"Campan," she whispered, raising her arm, and pointing at the single light which remained burning, "if this fourth light goes out like the other three, it is a bad omen for me, and forebodes the approach of misfortune."
At this instant the light flared up and illumined the room more distinctly, then its flame began to die away. One flare more and this light went out, and a deep darkness reigned in the cabinet.
The queen uttered a loud, piercing cry, and sank in a swoon.
BEFORE THE MARRIAGE.
The wedding guests were assembled. Madame Bugeaud had just put the veil upon the head of her daughter Margaret, and impressed upon her forehead the last kiss of motherly love. It was the hour when a mother holds her daughter as a child in her arms for the last time, bids adieu to the pleasant pictures of the past, and sends her child from her parents' house to go out into the world and seek a new home. Painful always is such an hour to a mother's heart, for the future is uncertain; no one knows any thing about the new vicissitudes that may arise.
And painful, too, to the wife of Councillor Bugeaud was this parting from her dearly-loved daughter, but she suppressed her deep emotion, restrained the tears in her heart, that not one should fall upon the bridal wreath of her loved daughter. Tears dropped upon the bridal wreath are the heralds of coming misfortune, the seal of pain which destiny stamps upon the brow of the doomed one.
And the tender mother would so gladly have taken away from her loved Margaret every pain and every misfortune! The times were threatening, and the horizon of the present was so full of stormy signs that it was necessary to look into the future with hope.
"Go, my daughter," said Madame Bugeaud, with a smile, regarding which only God knew how much it cost the mother's heart—" go out into your new world, be happy, and may you never regret the moment when yon left the threshold of your father's house to enter a new home!"
"My dear mother," cried Margaret, with beaming eyes, "the house to which I am going is the house of him I love, and my new home is his heart, which is noble, great, and good, and in which all the treasures in the earth for me rest."
"God grant, my daughter, that you may after many years be able to repeat those words!"
"I shall repeat them, mother, for in my heart is a joyful trust. I can never be unhappy, for Toulan loves me. But, hark! I hear him coming; it is his step, and listen! he is calling me!"
And the young girl, with reddening cheeks, directed her glowing eyes to the door, which just then opened, where appeared her lover, in a simple, dark, holiday-suit, with a friendly, grave countenance, his tender, beaming eyes turned toward his affianced.
He hastened to her, and kissed the little trembling hand which was extended to him.
"All the wedding guests are ready, my love. The carriages are waiting, and as soon as we enter the church the clergyman will advance to the altar to perform the ceremony."
"Then let us go, Louis," said Margaret, nodding to him, and arm-in- arm they went to the door.
But Toulan held back. "Not yet, my dear one. Before we go to the church, I want to have a few words with you."
"That is to say, my dear sir, that you would like to have me withdraw," said the mother, with a smile. "Do not apologize, my son, that is only natural, and I dare not be jealous. My daughter belongs to you, and I have no longer the right to press into your secrets. So I will withdraw, and only God may hear what the lover has to say to his affianced before the wedding."
She nodded in friendly fashion to the couple, and left the room.
"We are now alone, my Margaret," said Toulan, putting his arm around the neck of the fair young maiden, and drawing her to himself. "Only God is to hear what I have to say to you."
"I hope, Louis," whispered the young girl, trembling, "I hope it is not bad news that you want to tell me. Your face is so grave, your whole look so solemn. You love me still, Louis?"
"Yes, Margaret, I do love you," answered he, softly; "but yet, before you speak the word which binds you to me forever, I must open my whole heart to you, and you must know all I feel, in order that, if there is a future to prove us, we may meet it with fixed gaze and joyful spirit."
"My God! what have I to hear?" whispered the young girl, pressing her hand to her heart, that began to beat with unwonted violence.
"You will have to hear, my Margaret, that I love you, and yet that the image of another woman is cherished in my heart."
"Who is this other woman?" cried Margaret.
"Margaret, it is Queen Marie Antoinette."
The girl breathed freely, and laughed. "Ah! how you frightened me, Louis. I was afraid you were going to name a rival, and now you mention her whom I, too, love and honor, to whom I pay my whole tribute of admiration, and who, although you ought to live there alone, has a place in my heart. I shall never be jealous of the queen. I love her just as devotedly as you do."
A light, sympathetic smile played upon the lips of Toulan. "No, Margaret," said he, gravely, "you do not love her as I do, and you cannot, for your duty to her is not like mine. Listen, my darling, and I will tell you a little story—a story which is so sacred to me that it has never passed over my lips, although, according to the ways of human thinking, there is nothing so very strange about it. Come, my dear, sit down with me a little while, and listen to me."
He led the maiden to the little divan, and took a place with her upon it. Her hand lay within his, and with a joyful and tender look she gazed into the bold, noble, and good face of the man to whom she was ready to devote her whole life.
"Speak now, Louis, I will listen!"
"I want to tell you of my father, Margaret," said the young man, with a gentle voice—" of my father, who thirsted and hungered for me, in his efforts to feed, clothe, and educate me. He had been an officer in the army, had distinguished himself in many a battle, was decorated, on account of his bravery, with the Order of St. Louis, and discharged as an invalid. That was a sad misfortune for my father, for he was poor, and his officer's pay was his only fortune. But no—he had a nobler, a fairer fortune—he had a wife whom he passionately loved, a little boy whom he adored. And now the means of existence were taken away from this loved wife, this dear boy, and from him whose service had been the offering of his life for his king and country, the storming of fortifications, the defying of the bayonets of enemies; and who in this service had been so severely wounded, that his life was saved only by the amputation of his right arm. Had it not been just this right arm, he would have been able to do something for himself, and to have found some employment in the government service. But now he was robbed of all hope of employment; now he saw for himself and his family only destruction, starvation! But he could not believe it possible; he held it to be impossible that the king should allow his bold soldier, his knight of the Order of St. Louis, to die of hunger, after becoming a cripple in his service. He resolved to go to Paris, to declare his need to the king, and to implore the royal bounty. This journey was the last hope of the family, and my father was just entering on it when my mother sickened and died. She was the prop, the right arm of my father; she was the nurse, the teacher of his poor boy; now he had no hope more, except in the favor of the king and in death. The last valuables were sold, and father and son journeyed to Paris: an invalid whose bravery had cost him an arm, and whose tears over a lost wife had nearly cost him his eyesight, and a lad of twelve years, acquainted only with pain and want from his birth, and in whose heart, notwithstanding, there was an inextinguishable germ of hope, spirit, and joy. We went on foot, and when my shoes were torn with the long march, my feet swollen and bloody, my father told me to climb upon his back and let him carry me. I would not allow it, Suppressed my pain, and went on till I dropped in a swoon."
"Oh!" cried Margaret, with tears in her eyes, "how much you have suffered; and I am learning it now for the first time, and you never told me this sad history."
"I forgot every thing sad when I began to love you, Margaret, and I did not want to trouble you with my stories. Why should we darken the clear sky of the present with the clouds of the past? the future will unquestionably bring its own clouds. I tell you all this now, in order that you may understand my feelings. Now hear me further, Margaret! At last, after long-continued efforts, we reached Versailles, and it seemed to us as if all suffering and want were taken away from us when we found ourselves in a dark, poor inn, and lay down on the hard beds. On the next, my father put on his uniform, decorated his breast with the order of St. Louis, and, as the pain in his eyes prevented his going alone, I had to accompany him. We repaired to the palace and entered the great gallery which the court daily traversed on returning from mass in the royal apartments. My father, holding in his hand the petition which I had written to his dictation, took his place near the door through which the royal couple must pass. I stood near him and looked with curious eyes at the brilliant throng which filled the great hall, and at the richly-dressed gentlemen who were present and held petitions in their hands, in spite of their cheerful looks and their fine clothes. And these gentlemen crowded in front of my father, shoved him to the wall, hid him from the eye of the king, who passed through the hall at the side of the queen, and with a pleasant face received all the petitions which were handed to him. Sadly we turned home, but on the following day we repaired to the gallery again, and I had the courage to crowd back some of the elegantly-dressed men who wanted to press before my father, and to secure for him a place in the front row. I was rewarded for my boldness. The king came, and with a gracious smile took the petition from the hand of my father, and laid it in the silver basket which the almoner near him carried."
"Thank God," cried Margaret, with a sigh of relief, "thank God, you were saved!"
"That we said too, Margaret, and that restored my father's hope and made him again happy and well. We went the next day to the gallery. The king appeared, the grand almoner announced the names of those who were to receive answers to their petitions—the name of my father was not among them! But we comforted ourselves with the thought, it was not possible to receive answers so quickly, and on the next day we went to the gallery again, and so on for fourteen successive days, but all in vain; the name of my father was never called. Still we went every day to the gallery and took our old place there, only the countenance of my father was daily growing paler, his step weaker, and his poor boy more trustless and weak. We had no longer the means of stilling our hunger, we had consumed every thing, and my father's cross of St. Louis was our last possession. But that we dared not part with, for it was our passport to the palace, it opened to us the doors of the great gallery, and there was still one last hope. 'We go to-morrow for the last time,' said my father to me on the fifteenth day. 'If it should be in vain on the morrow, then I shall sell my cross, that you, Louis, may not need to be hungry any more, and then may God have mercy upon us!' So we went the next day to the gallery again. My father was to-day paler than before, but he held his head erect; he fixed his eye, full of an expression of defiance and scorn, upon the talkative, laughing gentlemen around him, who strutted in their rich clothes, and overlooked the poor chevalier who stood near them, despised and alone. In my poor boy's heart there was a fearful rage against these proud, supercilious men, who thought themselves so grand because they wore better clothes, and because they had distinguished acquaintances and relations, and yet were no more than my father—no more than suppliants and petitioners; tears of anger