HotFreeBooks.com
The Regent's Daughter
by Alexandre Dumas (Pere)
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"Well," said Dubois, "all this is as clear as a mountain stream; but how is it that the face of the chevalier does not appear? is he too much occupied with his chicken to have heard the carriage? Let us see. As to you, monseigneur," continued Dubois, "be assured; I will not disturb your tete-a-tete. Enjoy at your pleasure this commencement of ingenuity, which promises such happy results. Ah! monseigneur, it is certain that you are short-sighted."

Dubois went down, and again took up his post at his observatory. As he approached it, Gaston rose, after putting his note in his pocket-book.

"Ah," said Dubois, "I must have that pocket-book. I would pay high for it. He is going out, he buckles on his sword, he looks for his cloak; where is he going? Let us see: to wait for his royal highness's exit? No, no, that is not the face of a man who is going to kill another; I could sooner believe he was about to spend the evening under the windows of his sweetheart.

"Ah, if he had that idea it would be a means—"

It would be difficult to render the expression which passed over the face of Dubois at this moment.

"Yes, but if I were to get a sword-thrust in the enterprise, how monseigneur would laugh; bah! there is no danger: our men are at their post, and besides, nothing venture, nothing gain."

Encouraged by this reflection, Dubois made the circuit of the hotel, in order to appear at one end of the little lane as Gaston appeared at the other.

As he had expected, at the end of the lane he found Tapin, who had placed L'Eveille in the courtyard; in two words he explained his project. Tapin pointed out to Dubois one man leaning on the step of an outer door, a second was playing a kind of Jew's harp, and seemed an itinerant musician, and there was another, too well hidden to be seen.

Dubois, thus sure of support, returned into the lane.

He soon perceived a figure at the other end, and at once recognized the chevalier, who was too thoughtful even to notice that he was passing any one.

Dubois wanted a quarrel, and he saw that he must take the initiative. He turned and stopped before the chevalier, who was trying to discover which were the windows of the room in which Helene was.

"My friend," said he roughly, "what are you doing at this hour before this house?"

Gaston was obliged to bring back his thoughts to the materialism of life.

"Did you speak to me, monsieur?" said he.

"Yes," replied Dubois, "I asked what you were doing here."

"Pass on," said the chevalier; "I do not interfere with you; do not interfere with me."

"That might be," said Dubois, "if your presence did not annoy me."

"This lane, narrow as it is, is wide enough for both, monsieur; walk on one side, and I will walk on the other."

"I wish to walk alone," said Dubois, "therefore, I beg you will choose some other window; there are plenty at Rambouillet to choose from."

"And why should I not look at these windows if I choose?" asked Chanlay.

"Because they are those of my wife," replied Dubois.——"Of your wife!"

"Yes; of my wife, who has just arrived from Paris, and of whom I am jealous, I warn you."

"Diable," murmured Gaston; "he must be the husband of the person to whom Helene has been given in charge;" and in order to conciliate a person who might be useful to him—

"Monsieur," said he politely, "in that case I am willing to leave a place where I was walking without any object in view."

"Oh," thought Dubois, "here is a polite conspirator; I must have a quarrel."

Gaston was going away.

"You are deceiving me, monsieur," said Dubois.

The chevalier turned as though he had been bitten by a serpent; however, prudent for the sake of Helene, and for the mission he had undertaken, he restrained himself.

"Is it," said he, "because I was polite that you disbelieve my word?"

"You spoke politely because you were afraid; but it is none the less true that I saw you looking at that window."

"Afraid—I afraid!" cried Chanlay, facing him; "did you say that I was afraid?"

"I did," replied Dubois.

"Do you, then, seek a quarrel?"

"It appears so. I see you come from Quimper—Corentin."

"Paques-Dieu!" said Gaston, drawing his sword, "draw!"

"And you, off with your coat," said Dubois, throwing off his cloak, and preparing to do the same with his coat.

"Why so?" asked the chevalier.

"Because I do not know you, monsieur, and because those who walk at night frequently have their coat prudently lined with a shirt of mail."

At these words the chevalier's cloak and coat were thrown aside; but, at the moment when Gaston was about to rush on his adversary, the four men appeared and seized him.

"A duel, monsieur," cried they, "in spite of the king's prohibition!" and they dragged him toward the door.

"An assassination," murmured Gaston, not daring to cry out, for fear of compromising Helene; "cowards!"

"We are betrayed, monsieur," said Dubois, rolling up Gaston's cloak and coat, and putting them under his arm; "we shall meet again to-morrow, no doubt."

And he ran toward the hotel, while they shut up Gaston in the lower room.

Dubois ran up the staircase and into his room, where he opened the precious pocket-book. He found in one pocket a broken coin and a man's name. This coin was evidently a sign of recognition, and the name was probably that of the man to whom Gaston was addressed, and who was called Captain la Jonquiere. The paper was oddly folded.

"La Jonquiere," said Dubois; "we have our eyes on him already."

He looked over the rest of the pocket-book—there was nothing.

"It is little," said Dubois, "but it is enough."

He folded a paper like the other, took the name, and rang the bell.

Some one knocked; the door was fastened inside. "I forgot," said Dubois, opening it, and giving entrance to Monsieur Tapin.

"What have you done with him?"

"He is in the lower room, and watched."

"Take back his cloak and coat to the place where he threw them; make your excuses, and set him free. Take care that everything is in his pockets, so that he may suspect nothing. Bring me my coat and cloak."

Monsieur Tapin bowed low, and went to obey his orders.



CHAPTER IX.

THE VISIT.

All this passed, as we have said, in the lane under Helene's windows. She had heard the noise; and, as among the voices she thought she distinguished that of the chevalier, she ran anxiously to the window, when, at the same moment, Madame Desroches appeared.

She came to beg Helene to go into the drawing-room, as the visitor had arrived.

Helene started, and nearly fell; her voice failed her, and she followed, silent and trembling.

The room into which Madame Desroches led her was without any light, except what was thrown on the carpet by the last remains of a fire. Madame Desroches threw some water over the flame, and left the room entirely dark.

Begging Helene to have no fear, Madame Desroches withdrew. The instant after, Helene heard a voice behind the fourth door, which had not yet opened.

She started at the sound, and involuntarily made a few steps toward the door.

"Is she ready?" said the voice.

"Yes, monseigneur," was the reply.

"Monseigneur!" murmured Helene; "who is coming, then?"

"Is she alone?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"Is she aware of my arrival?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"We shall not be interrupted?"

"Monseigneur may rely upon me."

"And no light?"

"None whatever."

The steps approached, then stopped.

"Speak frankly, Madame Desroches," said the voice. "Is she as pretty as they said?"

"More beautiful than your highness can imagine."

"Your highness! who can he be?" thought Helene, much agitated.

At this moment the door creaked on its hinges and a heavy step approached.

"Mademoiselle," said the voice, "I beg you to receive and hear me."

"I am here," said Helene, faintly.

"Are you frightened?"

"I confess it, mon—Shall I say 'monsieur' or 'monseigneur'?"

"Say 'my friend.'"

At this moment her hand touched that of the unknown.

"Madame Desroches, are you there?" asked Helene, drawing back.

"Madame Desroches," said the voice, "tell mademoiselle that she is as safe as in a temple before God."

"Ah! monseigneur, I am at your feet, pardon me."

"Rise, my child, and seat yourself there. Madame Desroches, close all the doors; and now," continued he, "give me your hand, I beg."

Helene's hand again met that of the stranger, and this time it was not withdrawn.

"He seems to tremble also," murmured she.

"Tell me are you afraid, dear child?"

"No," replied Helene; "but when your hand clasps mine, a strange thrill passes through me."

"Speak to me, Helene," said the unknown, with an expression of tenderness. "I know already that you are beautiful, but this is the first time I have heard your voice. Speak—I am listening."

"But have you seen me, then?" asked Helene.

"Do you remember that two years ago the abbess had your portrait taken?"

"Yes, I remember—an artist came expressly from Paris."

"It was I who sent him."

"And was the portrait for you?"

"It is here," said the unknown, taking from his pocket a miniature, which Helene could feel, though she could not see it.

"But what interest could you have in the portrait of a poor orphan?"

"Helene, I am your father's friend."

"My father! Is he alive?"

"Yes."

"Shall I ever see him?"

"Perhaps."

"Oh!" said Helene, pressing the stranger's hand, "I bless you for bringing me this news."

"Dear child!" said he.

"But if he be alive," said Helene, "why has he not sought out his child?"

"He had news of you every month; and though at a distance, watched over you."

"And yet," said Helene, reproachfully, "he has not seen me for sixteen years."

"Believe me, none but the most important reasons would have induced him to deprive himself of this pleasure."

"I believe you, monsieur; it is not for me to accuse my father."

"No; it is for you to pardon him if he accuses himself."

"To pardon him!" cried Helene.

"Yes; and this pardon, which he cannot ask for himself, I ask in his name."

"Monsieur," said Helene, "I do not understand you.'"

"Listen, then, and give me back your hand."

"Here it is."

"Your father was an officer in the king's service; at the battle of Nerwinden, where he charged at the head of the king's household troops, one of his followers, called M. de Chaverny, fell near him, pierced by a ball. Your father wished to assist him, but the wound was mortal, and the wounded man, who knew that it was so, said, 'Think not of me, but of my child.' Your father pressed his hand as a promise, and the man fell back and died, as though he only waited this assurance to close his eyes. You are listening, are you not, Helene?"

"Oh! need you ask such a question?" said the young girl.

"At the end of the campaign, your father's first care was for the little orphan. She was a charming child, of from ten to twelve years, who promised to be as beautiful as you are. The death of M. de Chaverny, her father, left her without support or fortune; your father placed her at the convent of the Faubourg Saint Antoine, and announced that at a proper age he should give her a dowry."

"I thank God," cried Helene, "for having made me the child of a man who so nobly kept his promise."

"Wait, Helene," said the unknown, "for now comes the time when your father will not receive your praises."

Helene was silent.

The unknown continued: "Your father, indeed, watched over the orphan till her eighteenth year. She was an adorable young girl, and his visits to the convent became longer and more frequent than they should have been: your father began to love his protegee. At first he was frightened at his own love, for he remembered his promise to her dying father. He begged the superior to look for a suitable husband for Mademoiselle de Chaverny, and was told that her nephew, a young Breton, having seen her, loved her, and wished to obtain her hand."

"Well, monsieur?" asked Helene, hearing that the unknown hesitated to proceed.

"Well; your father's surprise was great, Helene, when he learned from the superior that Mademoiselle de Chaverny had replied that she did not wish to marry, and that her greatest desire was to remain in the convent where she had been brought up, and that the happiest day of her life would be that on which she should pronounce her vows."

"She loved some one," said Helene.

"Yes, my child, you are right—alas! we cannot avoid our fate—Mademoiselle de Chaverny loved your father. For a long time she kept her secret, but one day, when your father begged her to renounce her strange wish to take the veil, the poor child confessed all. Strong against his love when he did not believe it returned, he succumbed when he found he had but to desire and to obtain. They were both so young—your father scarcely twenty-five, she not eighteen—they forgot the world, and only remembered that they could be happy."

"But since they loved," said Helene, "why did they not marry?"

"Union was impossible, on account of the distance which separated them. Do you not know that your father is of high station?"

"Alas! yes," said Helene, "I know it."

"During a year," continued he, "their happiness surpassed their hopes; but at the end of that time you came into the world, and then—"

"Well?" asked the young girl, timidly.

"Your birth cost your mother's life."

Helene sobbed.

"Yes," continued the unknown, in a voice full of emotion, "yes, Helene, weep for your mother; she was a noble woman, of whom, through his griefs, his pleasures, even his follies—your father retains a tender recollection; he transferred to you all his love for her."

"And yet," said Helene, "he consented to remove me from him, and has never again seen me."

"Helene, on this point pardon your father, for it was not his fault. You were born in 1703, at the most austere period of Louis XIV.'s reign; your father was already out of favor with the king, or rather with Madame de Maintenon; and for your sake, as much or more than for his, he sent you into Bretagne, confiding you to Mother Ursula, superior of the convent where you were brought up. At length, Louis XIV. being dead, and everything having changed through all France, it is decided to bring you nearer to him. During the journey, however, you must have seen that his care was over you, and when he knew that you were at Rambouillet, he could not wait till to-morrow—he is come to you here, Helene."

"Oh, mon Dieu!" cried Helene, "is this true?"

"And in seeing, or rather in listening to you, he thinks he hears your mother—the same accent in the voice. Helene, Helene, that you may be happier than she was is his heartfelt prayer!"

"Oh, heavens!" cried Helene, "this emotion, your trembling hand. Monsieur, you said my father is come to meet me."

"Yes."

"Here at Rambouillet?"

"Yes."

"You say he is happy to see me again?"

"Oh yes, very happy!"

"But this happiness was not enough, is it not so? He wished to speak to me, to tell me himself the story of my life—that I may thank him for his love—that I may fall at his feet, that I may ask his blessing. Oh!" cried Helene, kneeling, "oh, I am at your feet; bless me, father!"

"Helene, my child, my daughter!" cried the unknown, "not at my feet, but in my arms!"

"My father, my father!" was Helene's only reply.

"And yet," continued he, "I came with a different intention, prepared to deny all, to remain a stranger to you; but having you so near me, pressing your hand, hearing your voice, I had not the strength; but do not make me repent my weakness, and let secrecy—"

"I swear by my mother's grave," cried Helene.

"That is all I desire," cried the unknown. "Now listen, for I must leave you."

"What, already!"

"It must be so."

"Speak, then, my father. I am ready to obey you."

"To-morrow you leave for Paris; there is a house there destined for you. Madame Desroches will take you there, and at the very first moment that I can do so, I will come there to see you."

"Soon, I hope, for do not forget that I am alone in the world."

"As soon as possible;" and pressing his lips to Helene's forehead, the unknown imprinted on it one of those kisses as sweet to the heart of a father as a kiss of love to the heart of a lover.

Ten minutes later Madame Desroches entered with a light. Helene was on her knees praying; without rising, she signed to Madame Desroches to place the light on the chimney-piece, which that lady did, and then retired.

Helene, after praying for some time, rose, and looked around her as though for some evidence that the whole was not a dream; her own emotion, however, assured her that it was really a great event in her life which had taken place. Then the thought of Gaston rose to her mind; this father whom she had so dreaded to see—this father, who himself had loved so ardently and suffered so deeply, would not do violence to her love; besides, Gaston was a scion of an ancient house, and beyond all this, she loved him, so that she would die if she were separated from him, and her father would not wish her death.

The obstacles on Gaston's side could be but the right, and would doubtless be easily overcome, and Helene fell asleep to dream of a happy and smiling future.

Gaston, on his part, set at liberty with many apologies from those who pretended to have mistaken him for another person, went back to fetch his coat and cloak, which he was overjoyed to find where he had left them; he anxiously opened his pocket-book—it was as he had left it, and for greater safety he now burned the address of La Jonquiere. He gave his orders for the next day to Owen and retired.

Meanwhile, two carriages rolled away from the door of the Tigre-Royal; in the first were two gentlemen in traveling costume, preceded and followed by outriders.

In the second was a single traveler, wrapped in a large cloak; this carriage followed close behind the other as far as the Barriere de l'Etoile, where they separated, and while the first stopped at the Palais Royal, the other drew up at the Rue de Valois.



CHAPTER X.

IN WHICH DUBOIS PROVES THAT HIS POLICE WAS BETTER ORGANIZED AT AN EXPENSE OF 300,000 FRANCS THAN THE GENERAL POLICE FOR THREE MILLIONS.

Whatever might have been the fatigues of the preceding night, the Duc d'Orleans still gave his mornings to business. He generally began to work with Dubois before he was dressed; then came a short and select levee, followed again by audiences, which kept him till eleven or twelve o'clock; then the chiefs of the councils (La Valliere and Le Blanc) came to give an account of their espionage, then Torcy, to bring any important letters which he had abstracted. At half-past two the regent had his chocolate, which he always took while laughing and chatting. This lasted half an hour, then came the audience hour for ladies, after that he went to the Duchesse d'Orleans, then to the young king, whom he visited every day, and to whom he always displayed the greatest reverence and respect.

Once a week he received foreign ministers, and on Sundays heard mass in his private chapel.

At six, on council days, at five on others, all business was over; then the regent would go to the opera, or to Madame de Berry, with whom, however, he had quarreled now, on account of her marriage with Riom. Then came those famous suppers.

They were composed of from ten to fifteen persons, and the regent's presence among them sometimes added to their license and freedom, but never restrained it. At these suppers, kings, ministers, chancellors, ladies of the court, were all passed in review, discussed, abused; everything might be said, everything told, everything done; provided only that it were wittily said, told, or done. When all the guests had arrived, the doors were closed and barred, so that it was impossible to reach the regent until the following morning, however urgent might be the necessity.

Dubois was seldom of the number, his bad health forbade it; and this was the time chosen to pick him to pieces, at which the regent would laugh as heartily as any one. Dubois knew that he often furnished the amusement of these suppers, but he also knew that by the morning the regent invariably forgot what had been said the night before, and so he cared little about it.

Dubois, however, watched while the regent supped or slept, and seemed indefatigable; he appeared to have the gift of ubiquity.

When he returned from Rambouillet, he called Maitre Tapin, who had returned on horseback, and talked with him for an hour, after which he slept for four or five, then, rising, he presented himself at the door of his royal highness; the regent was still asleep.

Dubois approached the bed and contemplated him with a smile which at once resembled that of an ape and a demon.

At length he decided to wake him.

"Hola, monseigneur, wake up!" he cried.

The duke opened his eyes, and seeing Dubois, he turned his face to the wall, saying—

"Ah! is that you, abbe; go to the devil!"

"Monseigneur, I have just been there, but he was too busy to receive me, and sent me to you."

"Leave me alone; I am tired."

"I dare say, the night was stormy."

"What do you mean?" asked the duke, turning half round.

"I mean that the way you spent the night does not suit a man who makes appointments for seven in the morning."

"Did I appoint you for seven in the morning?"

"Yes, yesterday morning, before you went to St. Germains."

"It is true," said the regent.

"Monseigneur did not know that the night would be so fatiguing."

"Fatiguing! I left table at seven."

"And afterward?"

"Well! what afterward?"

"Are you satisfied, monseigneur, and was the young person worth the journey?"

"What journey?"

"The journey you took after you left the table at seven."

"One would think, to hear you, that from St. Germains here, was a long distance."

"No, monseigneur is right; it is but a few steps, but there is a method of prolonging the distance."

"What is that?"

"Going round by Rambouillet."

"You are dreaming, abbe."

"Possibly, monseigneur. I will tell you my dream; it will at least prove to your highness that even in my dreams I do not forget you."

"Some new nonsense."

"Not at all. I dreamed that monseigneur started the stag at Le Treillage, and that the animal, after some battling, worthy of a stag of high birth, was taken at Chambourcy."

"So far, your dream resembles the truth; continue, abbe."

"After which, monseigneur returned to St. Germains, sat down to table at half-past five, and ordered that the carriage without arms should be prepared and harnessed, with four horses, at half-past seven."

"Not bad, abbe, not bad; go on."

"At half-past seven, monseigneur dismissed every one except Lafare, with whom he entered the carriage. Am I right?"

"Go on; go on."

"The carriage went toward Rambouillet, and arrived there at a quarter to ten, but at the entrance of the town it stopped, Lafare went on in the carriage to the Tigre-Royal, monseigneur following as an outrider."

"Here your dream becomes confused, abbe."

"No, no, not at all."

"Continue, then."

"Well, while Lafare pretended to eat a bad supper, which was served by waiters who called him Excellency, monseigneur gave his horse to a page and went to a little pavilion."

"Demon, where were you hidden?"

"I, monseigneur, have not left the Palais Royal, where I slept like a dormouse, and the proof is, that I am telling you my dream."

"And what was there in the pavilion?"

"First, at the door, a horrible duenna, tall, thin, dry, and yellow."

"Dubois, I will recommend you to Desroches, and the first time she sees you, she will tear your eyes out."

"Then inside, mon Dieu! inside."

"You could not see that, even in a dream, abbe."

"Monseigneur, you may take away the 300,000 francs which you allow me for my secret police, if—by their aid—I did not see into the interior."

"Well, what did you see?"

"Ma foi, monseigneur, a charming little Bretonne, sixteen or seventeen years old, beautiful, coming direct from the Augustine convent at Clisson, accompanied to Rambouillet by one of the sisters, whose troublesome presence was soon dispensed with, was it not?"

"Dubois, I have often thought you were the devil, who has taken the form of an abbe to ruin me."

"To save you, monseigneur, to save you."

"To save me; I do not believe it."

"Well," said Dubois, "are you pleased with her?"

"Enchanted, Dubois; she is charming."

"Well, you have brought her from so far, that if she were not, you would be quite cheated."

The regent frowned, but, reflecting that probably Dubois did not know the rest, the frown changed to a smile.

"Dubois," said he, "certainly, you are a great man."

"Ah, monseigneur, no one but you doubts it, and yet you disgrace me—"

"Disgrace you!"

"Yes, you hide your loves from me."

"Come, do not be vexed, Dubois."

"There is reason, however, you must confess, monseigneur."

"Why?"

"Why did you not tell me you wanted a Bretonne. Could not I have sent for one?"

"Yes."

"Yes, of course I could."

"As good?"

"Yes, and better. You think you have found a treasure, perhaps?"

"Hola, hola!"

"Well, when you know what she is, and to what you expose yourself."

"Do not jest, abbe, I beg."

"Ah! monseigneur, you distress me."

"What do you mean?"

"That you are taken by a glance, a single night fascinates you, and there is no one to compare to the new comer. Is she then very pretty?"

"Charming."

"And discreet: virtue itself, I suppose."

"You are right."

"Well, I tell you, monseigneur, you are lost."

"I?"

"Yes; your Bretonne is a jade."

"Silence, abbe."

"Why silence?"

"I forbid you to say another word."

"Monseigneur, you, too, have had a dream—let me explain it."

"Monsieur Joseph, I will send you to the Bastille."

"As you please, monseigneur, but still you must know that this girl—"

"Is my daughter, abbe."

Dubois drew back stupefied.

"Your daughter; and who is her mother?"

"An honest woman, who had the honor of dying without knowing you."

"And the child?"

"The child has been concealed, that she might not be sullied by the looks of such creatures as you."

Dubois bowed, and retired, respectfully.

The regent looked triumphant.

"Ah!" said Dubois, who had not quite closed the door, "I thought this plot would bring me my archbishop's miter—if I am careful, it will bring me my cardinal's hat."



CHAPTER XI.

RAMBOUILLET AGAIN.

At the appointed hour Gaston presented himself at Helene's domicile, but Madame Desroches made some difficulty about admitting him; Helene, however, said firmly that she was quite at liberty to judge for herself what was right, and that she was quite determined to see M. de Livry, who had come to take leave of her. It will be remembered that this was the name which Gaston had assumed during the journey, and which he intended to retain, except when with those connected with his mission to Paris.

Madame Desroches went to her room somewhat out of humor, and even attempted to overhear the conversation, but Helene bolted the outer door.

"Ah, Gaston," said she, "I have been expecting you. I did not sleep last night."

"Nor I, Helene; but I must admire all this splendor."

Helene smiled.

"And your head-dress—how beautiful you are, like this."

"You do not appear much pleased."

Gaston made no reply, but continued his investigations.

"These rich hangings, these costly pictures, all prove that your protectors are opulent, Helene."

"I believe so," said Helene, smiling, "yet I am told that these hangings, and this gilding, which you admire, are old and unfashionable, and must be replaced by new."

"Ah, Helene, you will become a great lady," said Gaston, sighing; "already I am kept waiting for an audience."

"My dear Gaston, did you not wait for hours in your little boat on the lake?"

"You were then in the convent. I waited the abbess's pleasure."

"That title is sacred, is it not?"

"Yes."

"It gives security, imposes respect and obedience."

"Doubtless."

"Well, judge of my delight. Here I find the same protection, the same love, only more powerful, more lasting."

"What!" exclaimed Gaston, surprised.

"I find—"

"Speak, in Heaven's name."

"Gaston, I have found a father."

"A father—ah, my dear Helene, I share your joy; what happiness! a father to watch over my Helene, my wife!"

"To watch from afar."

"Is he separated from you?"

"Alas, it seems the world separates us."

"Is it a secret?"

"A secret even to me, or you may be sure you should know all. I have no secrets from you, Gaston."

"A misfortune of birth—a prescription in your family—some temporary obstacle?"——"I do not know."

"Decidedly, it is a secret; but," said he, smiling, "I permit you to be discreet with me, if your father ordered it. However, may I ask some more questions?"

"Oh, yes."

"Are you pleased? Is your father one you can be proud of?"

"I think so, his heart seems noble and good. His voice is sweet and melodious."

"His voice! but is he like you?"

"I do not know. I have not seen him."

"Not seen him?"

"No, it was dark."

"Your father did not wish to see his daughter; and you so beautiful; oh, what indifference!"

"No, Gaston, he is not indifferent; he knows me well; he has my portrait—that portrait which made you so jealous last spring."

"But I do not understand this."

"It was dark, I tell you."

"In that case one might light these girandoles," said Gaston.

"That is well, when one wishes to be seen; but when one has reasons for concealment—"

"What!" interrupted Gaston; "what reason can a father have for hiding from his own daughter?"

"Excellent reasons, I believe, and you should understand them better than I can."

"Oh, Helene!" said Gaston, "with what terrible ideas you fill my mind."

"You alarm me, Gaston!"

"Tell me—what did your father speak of!"

"Of his deep love for me."

Gaston started.

"He swore to me that in future I should be happy; that there should be no more uncertainty as to my fate, for that he would despise all those considerations which had induced him as yet to disown me as a daughter."

"Words, words; but what proof did he give you? Pardon me these questions, Helene. I dread misfortune. I wish that for a time your angel's innocence could give place to the sharpness and infernal sagacity of a fiend; you would then understand me. I should not need to subject you to this interrogatory, which now is so necessary."

"I do not understand your question, Gaston. I do not know how to reply to you."

"Did he show you much affection?"

"Yes."

"But in the darkness, when he wished to speak to you?"

"He took my hand, and his trembled the most."

Gaston clenched his hands with rage.

"He embraced you paternally, did he not?"

"He gave me a single kiss on the forehead, which I received on my knees."

"Helene!" he cried, "my fears were not groundless; you are betrayed—you are the victim of a snare. Helene, this man who conceals himself, who fears the light, who calls you his child, is not your father."

"Gaston, you distress me."

"Helene, angels might envy your innocence; but on earth all is abused, even angels are insulted, profaned, by men. This man, whom I will know, whom I will seize and force to have confidence in your love and honor, shall tell me—if he be not the vilest of beings—whether I am to call him father, or kill him as a wretch!"

"Gaston, your brain is wandering; what can lead you to suspect such treachery? And, since you arouse my suspicions, since you hold a light over those ignoble labyrinths of the human heart which I refused to contemplate, I will speak to you with the same freedom. Was I not in this man's power? Is not this house his? Are not the people by whom I am surrounded devoted to his orders? Gaston, if you love me, you will ask my pardon for what you have thought and said of my father."

Gaston was in despair.

"Do not destroy one of the purest and holiest joys I have ever tasted. Do not poison the happiness of a life which I have often wept to think was solitary and abandoned, without other affection than that of which Heaven forbids us to be lavish. Let my filial ties compensate for the remorse which I sometimes feel for loving you almost to idolatry."

"Helene, forgive me," cried Gaston. "Yes, you are right; I sully your pure joys by my contact, and it may be the noble affection of your father, but in Heaven's name, Helene, give some heed to the fears of my experience and my love. Criminal passions often speculate on innocent credulity. The argument you use is weak. To show at once a guilty love would be unlike a skillful corrupter; but to win you by a novel luxury pleasing to your age, to accustom you gradually to new impressions, to win you at last by persuasion, is a sweeter victory than that of violence. Helene, listen to my prudence of five-and-twenty years—I say my prudence, for it is my love that speaks, that love which you should see so humble, so devoted, so ready to accept a father whom I knew to be really your parent."

Helene made no answer.

"I implore you," continued Gaston, "not to take any determination now, but to watch everything around you. Suspect the perfumes which are given you, the wine which you are offered—everything, Helene. Watch over yourself, you are my happiness, my honor, my life."

"My friend, I will obey you; this will not keep me from loving my father."

"Adore him, Helene, if I am wrong."

"You are a noble friend, Gaston. We are agreed then?"

"At the slightest suspicion write to me."

"Write! You leave me then?"

"I must go to Paris on business. I shall be at the hotel Muids d'Amour, Rue des Bourdonnais. Write down this address, and do not show it to any one."

"Why so many precautions?"

Gaston hesitated.

"Because, if your devoted protector were known, his plans for aiding you might be frustrated in case of bad intentions."

"You are somewhat mysterious, Gaston. I have a father who conceals himself, and a lover—this word I can hardly speak—who is going to do the same."

"But my intentions, you know," said Gaston, attempting to force a laugh.

"Ah, Madame Desroches is coming back. She thinks our interview too long. I am as much under tutelage as at the convent."

Gaston imprinted a kiss on the hand Helene held out to him. As Madame Desroches approached, Helene made a formal curtsey, which Gaston returned by an equally formal bow.

Gaston left for Paris. Owen awaited him with impatience, and this time could not reproach his master with being slow, for in three hours they were in Paris.



CHAPTER XII.

CAPTAIN LA JONQUIERE.

There was, as the reader has learned, in the Rue des Bourdonnais, a hotel where one could lodge, eat, and drink.

In his nocturnal interview with Dubois, Tapin had received the famous name of La Jonquiere, and had transmitted it to L'Eveille, who had passed it to all the chiefs of police, who had begun to search for the suspected officer in all the equivocal houses in Paris. The conspiracy of Cellamare, which we have related in a history of the Chevalier d'Harmental, had taught them that everywhere conspirators were to be found.

It was, however, by luck or by cleverness, Maitre Tapin himself who, in the Rue des Bourdonnais and in the hotel Muids d'Amour, found La Jonquiere, who was then a nightmare to Dubois.

The landlord took Tapin to be an old attorney's clerk, and replied to his questions politely, that "the Captain la Jonquiere was in the hotel, but was asleep."

Tapin asked no more. La Jonquiere was asleep, therefore he was in bed, for it was only six in the morning; if he were in bed, then he must be stopping at the inn.

Tapin went back to the Palais Royal, and found Dubois, who had just left the regent. A number of false La Jonquieres had already been discovered by his emissaries. One was a smuggler, called Captain la Jonciere, whom L'Eveille had found and arrested. A second was La Jonquille, sergeant in the French guards, and many others.

"Well," said Dubois, when Tapin had made his report, "you have found the real Captain la Jonquiere, then?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"Is he called La Jonquiere?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"L-a, la; J-o-n, jon; q-u-i-e-r-e, quiere?" continued he, spelling the word.

"La Jonquiere," repeated Tapin.

"A captain."

"Yes, monseigneur."

"What is he doing?"

"Waiting and drinking."

"That must be he," said Dubois; "and does he pay?"

He evidently attached great importance to the question.

"Very well, monsieur."

"A la bonne heure, Tapin. You have some sense."

"Monseigneur," said Tapin, modestly, "you flatter me; it is quite clear, if he had not paid he could not have been a dangerous man."

Dubois gave him ten louis as a reward, gave him some further orders, and set out at once to go to the Rue des Bourdonnais.

Let us say a word regarding the interior of the hotel. It was partly hotel, partly public house; the dwelling rooms were on the first-floor, and the tavern rooms on the ground-floor.

The principal of these, the common room, had four oak tables, and a quantity of red and white curtains; some benches along the walls, some glasses on a sideboard, some handsomely framed pictures, all blackened and rendered nauseous by smoke, completed the tout ensemble of this room, in which sat a fat man, with a red face, thirty-five or forty years old, and a little pale girl of twelve or fourteen.

This was the landlord and his only daughter and heiress.

A servant was cooking a ragout in the kitchen.

As the clock struck one, a French guard entered, and stopping at the threshold, murmured, "Rue des Bourdonnais, Muids d'Amour, in the common room, to sit at the table on the left, and wait."

Then, in accordance with this, the worthy defender of his country, whistling a tune and twirling his mustache, seated himself at the place indicated.

Scarcely had he had time to seat himself and strike his fist on the table, which, in the language of all taverns, means "Some wine," than a second guard, dressed exactly like the first, appeared at the door, murmured some words, and, after a little hesitation, seated himself by the other.

The two soldiers looked at each other, and both exclaimed:

"Ah!" which in all languages means surprise.

"It is you, Grippart," said one.

"It is you, L'Eulevant," said the other.

"What are you doing in this tavern?"

"And you?"

"I do not know."

"Nor I."

"You come here, then?"



"Under orders."

"That is my case."

"And you are waiting?"

"For a man who is coming."

"With a watchword?"

"And on this watchword?"

"I am to obey as though it were Tapin himself."

"Just so; and, in the mean time, I have a pistole for drink."

"I have a pistole also, but I was not told to drink."

"And it being doubtful?"

"In doubt, as the sage says, I do not abstain."

"In that case, let us drink."

And he raised his hand to call the landlord, but it was not necessary, for he was standing near, expecting orders.

"Some wine," cried the two guards.

"Orleans," added one; "I like that."

The landlord brought an inclosed bottle.

The two drinkers filled their glasses, emptied them, and then placed them on the table, each with a different grimace, but both intended to express the same opinion.

When the host was gone, one said to the other:

"You know more of this than you have told me?"

"I know it concerns a certain captain," answered the other.

"Yes; just so. But I suppose we shall have aid to arrest him?"

"Doubtless; two to one is not enough."

"You forget the man with the watchword."

"Ah! I think I hear something."

"Yes; some one coming downstairs."

"Chut!"

"Silence!"

And the soldiers, much more occupied by their commission than if they had really been soldiers, kept an eye turned toward the staircase while they drunk.

They were not deceived; the step on the staircase approached, and they saw, first, some legs, then a body, then a head descending. The legs were covered with fine silk stockings and white cashmere breeches, the body with a tight blue coat, and the head with a three-cornered hat, jauntily placed over one ear; his epaulets left no doubt that he held the rank of captain.

This man, who was, in fact, Captain la Jonquiere, was about five feet five, rather fat, and had a sagacious air; one would almost have supposed that he suspected spies in the two soldiers, for he turned his back to them at once, and entered into conversation with his host in a somewhat assumed tone and manner.

"In truth," said he, "I should have dined here, and this delicious perfume of stewed kidneys would have tempted me, but some bons vivants are expecting me at the 'Galoubet de Paphos.' Perhaps a young man may come here this morning, but I could not wait any longer. Should he ask for a hundred pistoles, say that I shall be back in an hour, if he will wait."

"Very well, captain," said the host.

"Some wine," said the guard.

"Ah," said the captain, throwing an apparently careless glance at the drinkers, "here are some soldiers who have but little respect for an epaulet." Then, turning to the host—

"Serve these gentlemen; you see they are in a hurry."

"Ah," said one, rising, "as soon as monsieur will permit."

"Certainly I permit it," said La Jonquiere; and he stepped toward the door.

"But, captain," said the host, stopping him, "you have not told me the name of the gentleman you expect."

La Jonquiere hesitated. After a moment:

"Monsieur Gaston de Chanlay," he replied.

"Gaston de Chanlay," repeated the host. "I hope I shall remember the name. Gaston—Gascon. Ah, I shall remember Gascon. Chanlay; ah, I shall think of Chandelle."

"That is it," repeated La Jonquiere, gravely; "Gascon de Chandelle."

And he went out, but not without looking round the corners of the street and the angles of the houses.

He had not taken a hundred steps in the Rue St. Honore before Dubois presented himself at the door. He had passed La Jonquiere, but, never having seen him, could not recognize him.

He presented himself boldly, dressed as a shopkeeper.



CHAPTER XIII.

MONSIEUR MOUTONNET, DRAPER AT ST. GERMAIN-EN-LAYE.

Dubois at once accosted the host.

"Monsieur," said he, timidly, "does Captain la Jonquiere lodge here? I wish to speak to him."

"You wish to speak to him?" said the host, examining the new-comer from head to foot.

"If possible," said Dubois.

"Are you sure that is the person you want?" asked the host, who did not think this was the man La Jonquiere expected.

"I think so," said Dubois modestly.

"A short, fat man?"

"Yes."

"Drinks his brandy neat?"

"That is the man."

"Always ready with his cane if he is not attended to directly!"

"Ah, that is Captain la Jonquiere!"

"You know him, then?"

"Not in the least," said Dubois.

"True, for you must have met him at the door."

"Diable! Is he out?" said Dubois, with a start of ill-humor badly repressed. "Thank you," and he called up an amiable smile.

"He has not been gone five minutes."

"But he is coming back?"

"In an hour."

"May I wait for him, monsieur?"

"Certainly, if you take something."

"Give me some brandy-cherries," said Dubois. "I never drink wine except with meals."

The two guards exchanged a contemptuous smile.

The host hastened to bring the cherries.

"Ah!" said Dubois; "only five! At St. Germain-en-Laye they give six."

"Possibly, monsieur; for at St. Germain-en-Laye they have no excise to pay."

"Yes, I forgot that," and he began to eat a cherry, which he could not, however, accomplish without a grimace.

"Where does the captain lodge?" asked Dubois.

"There is the door of his room; he preferred the ground-floor."

"Yes," murmured Dubois; "the windows look into the public road."

"And there is a door opening into the Rue des Deux-Boules."

"Oh, how convenient! And does not the noise annoy him?"

"There is another room above: sometimes he sleeps in one, sometimes in the other."

"Like Denis the tyrant," said Dubois, who could not refrain from Latin or historical quotations.

"What?" said mine host.

Dubois bit his lip. At this moment one of the soldiers called for wine, and the host darted off to wait upon him.

Dubois turned to the two guards.

"Thank you," said he.

"What is it, bourgeois?" asked they.

"France and the regent," replied Dubois.

"The watchword!" cried both, rising.

"Enter this room," said Dubois, showing La Jonquiere's room. "Open the door into the Rue des Deux-Boules, and hide behind a curtain, under a table, in a closet, wherever you can. If, when I come in, I can see so much as an ear, you will have no pay for six months."

The two men emptied their glasses, and entered the room, while Dubois, who saw they had forgotten to pay, put a piece of twelve sous on the table, then, opening the window, and calling to the driver of a hackney carriage standing before the door—"L'Eveille," said he, "bring the carriage to the little door in the Rue des Deux-Boules, and tell Tapin to come up when I knock on the windows with my fingers; he has his orders; be off."

The host reappeared.

"Hola!" cried, "where are my men?"

"A sergeant came and called them away."

"But they have not paid."

"Yes, they left a twelve-sou piece on the table."

"Diable! twelve sous; and my wine is eight sous the bottle."

"Ah!" said Dubois, "no doubt they thought that as they were soldiers you would make a reduction."

"At any rate," said the host, consoling himself, "it is not all lost; and in our trade one must expect this kind of thing."

"You have nothing of the sort to fear with Captain la Jonquiere?"

"Oh, no, he is the best of lodgers; he pays without a word, and ready money. True, he never likes anything."

"Oh, that may be his manner," said Dubois.

"Exactly."

"What you tell me of his prompt payment pleases me."

"Have you come to ask for money? He said he expected some one to whom he owed a hundred pistoles."

"No; on the contrary, I owe him fifty louis."

"Fifty louis! peste!" said the host, "what a pretty sum! Perhaps I was mistaken, and he said receive, not pay. Are you the Chevalier Gaston de Chanlay?"

"Does he expect the Chevalier Gaston de Chanlay?" said Dubois, with a joy he could not conceal.

"He told me so," said the host. "Is that you?"

"No; I am not noble. I am called Moutonnet."

"Nobility is nothing," said the host. "One may be called Moutonnet and be an honest man."

"Yes; Moutonnet, draper at St. Germain-en-Laye."

"And you have fifty louis for the captain?"

"Yes. In turning over some old accounts of my father's, I find he owed fifty louis to Captain la Jonquiere's father; and I have had no peace till, instead of the father, who is dead, I had found the son."

"Do you know there are not many debtors like you?"

"The Moutonnets are all the same, from father to son. When we are owed anything we are pitiless. Listen. There is an honest fellow who owed Moutonnet & Son one hundred and sixty francs; my grandfather put him in prison, and there he has been for the three generations, and he has just died there. I calculated that, during the thirty years he was there, he cost us twelve thousand francs; but we maintained the principle. But I beg your pardon for keeping you with all this nonsense; and here is a new customer for you."

"Ah!" said the host, "it is Captain la Jonquiere himself. Captain," continued he, "some one is waiting for you."

The captain entered suspiciously—he had seen some strange, and, he thought, sinister faces about.

Dubois saluted him politely.

La Jonquiere asked the host if the friend he had expected had arrived.

"No one but monsieur. However, you lose nothing by the exchange, since one was to fetch away money, and the other brings it."

La Jonquiere, surprised, turned to Dubois, who repeated the same story he had told to the host, and with such success that La Jonquiere, calling for wine, asked Dubois to follow him into his room.

Dubois approached the window, and quietly tapped on it with his fingers.

"But shall I not be in the way in your room?" asked Dubois.

"Not at all, not at all—the view is pleasant—as we drink we can look out and see the passers-by: and there are some pretty women in the Rue des Bourdonnais."

They entered the room. Dubois made a sign to Tapin, who appeared in the first room, followed by two men, then shut the door behind him.

Tapin's two followers went to the window of the common room, and drew the curtains, while Tapin placed himself behind the door of Jonquiere's room, so as to be hidden by it when it opened. The host now returned from La Jonquiere's room, to write down the receipt for the money which La Jonquiere had just paid him for the wine, when Tapin threw a handkerchief over his mouth, and carried him off like a feather to a second carriage standing at the door. One of the men seized the little girl who was cooking eggs, the other carried off the servant, and soon they were all on the way to St. Lazare, drawn by two such good horses that it was evidently not a real hired car.

Tapin remained behind, and taking from a closet a calico apron and waistcoat, signed to a loiterer who was looking in at the window, and who quickly transformed himself into a publican.

At this moment a violent noise was heard in the captain's room, as of a table thrown down with bottles and glasses; then oaths, then the clinking of a sword, then silence.

Presently a carriage was heard rolling away up the Rue de Deux-Boules. Tapin looked joyous.

"Bravo," said he, "that is done."

"It was time, masters," said the pretended publican, "for here is a customer."



CHAPTER XIV.

TRUST TO SIGNS OF GRATITUDE.

Tapin at first thought that it was the Chevalier de Chanlay, but it was only a woman who wanted a pint of wine.

"What has happened to poor M. Bourguignon?" asked she. "He has just been taken away in a coach."

"Alas!" said Tapin, "we were far from expecting it. He was standing there talking, and was suddenly seized with apoplexy."

"Gracious heavens!"

"We are all mortal," said Tapin, throwing up his eyes.

"But why did they take the little girl?"

"To attend to her father—it is her duty."

"But the servant?"

"To cook for them."

"Ah, I could not understand it all, so I came to buy a pint of wine, though I did not want it, that I might find out."

"Well, now you know."

"Yes, but who are you?"

"I am Champagne, Bourguignon's cousin. I arrived by chance this morning; I brought him news of his family, and the sudden joy overcame him; ask Grabigeon," continued Tapin, showing his assistant, who was finishing an omelet commenced by the landlord's daughter.

"Oh, yes, everything passed exactly as M. Champagne says," replied Grabigeon, wiping away a tear with the handle of his spoon.

"Poor M. Bourguignon! then you think that we should pray for him?"

"There is never any harm in praying," said Tapin, sententiously.

"Ah, stop a minute, give me good measure."

Bourguignon would have groaned in spirit, could he have seen the wine that Tapin gave for her two sous.

"Well," said she, "I will go and tell the neighbors, who are very anxious, and I promise you my custom, M. Champagne; indeed, if M. Bourguignon were not your cousin, I would tell you what I think."

"Oh, tell me, never mind that."

"I perceive that he cheated me shamefully. What you have given me for two sous, he would hardly have given me for four; but if there is no justice here there is in heaven, and it is very providential that you are to continue his business."

"I believe so," said Tapin, in a half voice, "particularly for his customers."

And he dismissed the woman just as the door opened, and a young man entered, dressed in a blue cloak.

"Is this the hotel Le Muids d'Amour?" asked he.

"Yes, monsieur."

"Does Captain la Jonquiere lodge here?"

"Yes, monsieur."

"Is he within?"

"Yes, he has just returned."

"Tell him, if you please, that the Chevalier Gaston de Chanlay is here."

Tapin offered the chevalier a chair, and went into La Jonquiere's room.

Gaston shook the snow from his boots and cloak, and proceeded leisurely to examine the picture on the wall, never supposing that he had close to him three or four swords, which, at a sign from the polite host, would leave their sheaths to be plunged into his breast.

Tapin returned, saying, "Captain la Jonquiere waits for M. de Chanlay."

Gaston proceeded to the room where sat a man whom the host pointed out as Captain la Jouquiere, and—without being much of a physiognomist—he perceived at once that he was no bully.

Little, dry, gray-eyed, uneasy in his uniform, such appeared the formidable captain whom Gaston had been recommended to treat with so much consideration.

"This man is ugly, and looks like a sexton," thought Gaston; then, as the stranger advanced toward him—

"Have I the honor of speaking to Captain la Jonquiere?" asked Gaston.

"Himself," said Dubois; "and are you M. le Chevalier Gaston de Chanlay?"——"I am, monsieur."

"Have you the sign of recognition?" asked the false La Jonquiere.

"Here is the half of the gold piece."

"And here the other," said Dubois.

They tried the two, which fitted exactly.

"And now," continued Gaston, "the papers;" and he drew from his pocket the strangely folded paper, on which was written the name of La Jonquiere.

Dubois took from his pocket a similar paper, bearing Gaston's name: they were precisely alike.

"Now," said Gaston, "the pocket-book."

They found that their new pocket-books were precisely similar, and both, though new, contained an almanac for the year 1700, nineteen years previous.

"And now, monsieur," said Gaston.

"Now we will talk of business: is not that your meaning, chevalier?"

"Exactly; are we safe?"

"As though in a desert."

They seated themselves by a table, on which were a bottle of sherry and two glasses.

Dubois filled one, and was about to fill the other, when Gaston stopped him.

"Peste!" thought Dubois, "he is slender and sober, bad signs; Caesar mistrusted thin people who did not drink, and Brutus and Cassius were such."

"Captain," said Gaston, after a short silence, "when we undertake, as now, an affair in which we risk our heads, I think we should know each other, so that the past may vouch for the future. Montlouis, Talhouet, De Couedic, and Pontcalec have told you my name and condition. I was brought up by a brother, who had reasons for personal hatred to the regent. This hatred I have imbibed; therefore, three years ago, when the league was formed among the nobility in Bretagne, I entered the conspiracy; now I have been chosen to come to Paris to receive the instructions of Baron de Valef, who has arrived from Spain, to transmit them to the Duc d'Olivares, his Catholic Majesty's agent in Paris, and to assure myself of his assent."

"And what is Captain la Jonquiere to do in all this?" asked Dubois, as though he were doubting the chevalier's identity.

"To present me to the Duc d'Olivares. I arrived two hours ago; since then I have seen M. de Valef, and now I come to you. Now you know my history."

Dubois listened, and, when Gaston had finished—"As to me, chevalier," said he, throwing himself back indolently in his chair, "I must own my history is somewhat longer and more adventurous; however, if you wish to hear it, I obey."

"I think it necessary, in our position, to know each other," said Gaston.

"Well," said Dubois, "as you know, I am called Captain la Jonquiere; my father was, like myself, a soldier of fortune; this is a trade at which one gains in general a good deal of glory and very little money; my glorious father died, leaving me, for sole inheritance, his rapier and his uniform; I girded on the rapier, which was rather too long, and I wore the uniform, which was rather too large. From that time," said Dubois, calling the chevalier's attention to the looseness of his coat, "from that time I contracted the habit of always having plenty of room to move easily."

Gaston nodded, as though to express his approbation of this habit.

"Thanks to my good looks I was received in the Royal Italian, which was then recruiting in France. I held a distinguished post; when—the day before the battle of Malplaquet—I had a slight quarrel with my sergeant about an order which he gave me with the end of his cane raised instead of lowered, as it should have been."

"Pardon me," said Gaston, "but I cannot see what difference that could make to the order he was giving."

"It made this difference, that in lowering his cane it struck against my hat, which fell to the ground; the result was a duel, in which I passed my saber through his body. Now, as I certainly should have been shot if I had waited to be arrested, I made off, and woke the next morning—devil take me if I know how it happened—in Marlborough's army."

"That is to say, you deserted," said Gaston, smiling.

"I had Coriolanus and the great Conde for examples," said Dubois, "and this appeared to me to be sufficient to excuse me in the eyes of posterity. I assisted then, I must tell you, as we are to hide nothing from one another, at the battle of Malplaquet; but instead of being on one side of the brook, I was on the other, and instead of having the village behind me, I faced it. I think this was a lucky exchange for your humble servant; the Royal Italian left eight hundred men on the field of battle, my company was cut to pieces, and my own comrade and bedfellow killed by a cannon-ball. The glory with which my late regiment covered itself so much delighted Marlborough, that he made me an ensign on the field of battle. With such a protector I ought to have done well, but his wife, Lady Marlborough, whom Heaven confound, having been awkward enough to spill a bowl of water over Queen Anne's dress, this great event changed the face of things in Europe. In the overthrow which resulted, I found myself without any other protector than my own merit, and the enemies I had gained thereby."

"And what did you do then?" asked Gaston, somewhat interested in the adventurous life of the pretended captain.

"What could I do? I was forced to enter the service of his Catholic majesty, who, to his honor be it said, graciously acceded to my demand for a commission. In three years I was a captain; but, out of our pay of thirty reals a day, they kept back twenty, telling us what an honor it was for us to lend money to the king of Spain. As the security did not appear good in my eyes, I asked leave of my colonel to quit the service and return to my beautiful country, accompanied by a recommendation, in order that the Malplaquet affair might not be too much brought on the tapis. The colonel referred me to the Prince do Cellamare, who, recognizing in me a natural disposition to obey, without discussion, any orders given in a proper manner and accompanied by a certain music, employed me actively in the famous conspiracy which bears his name, when, all at once, the whole affair blew up, as you know, by the double denunciation of La Fillon and a wretched writer called Buvat; but his highness, wisely thinking that what is deferred is not lost, recommended me to his successor, to whom, I hope, my services may be useful, and whom I thank most heartily for procuring me the acquaintance of so accomplished a cavalier as yourself. Count on me then, chevalier, as your most humble and obedient servant."

"I ask nothing of you, captain," replied Gaston, "but to present me to the duke, the only person to whom my instructions permit me to speak openly, and to whom I am to deliver the Baron de Valef's dispatches. I beg, therefore, that you will present me to his excellency."

"This very day, chevalier," said Dubois, who seemed to have decided on his course of action; "in an hour if you like, in ten minutes if necessary."

"As soon as possible."

"Listen," said Dubois; "I was a little too quick when I said you should see his excellency in an hour—in Paris one is never sure; perhaps he does not know of your coming, and I may not find him at home."

"I understand."

"Perhaps even I may be prevented from coming back to fetch you."

"How so?"

"Peste, chevalier; it is easy to see that this is your first visit to Paris."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that in Paris there are three distinct bodies of police, who all unite to torment those honest people who only desire to substitute what is not for what is. First, the regent's police, which is not much to be feared; secondly, that of Messire Voyer d'Argenson—this has its days, when he is in a bad humor, or has been ill received at the convent of the Madeleine du Tresnel; thirdly, there is Dubois's police; ah! that is a different thing. Dubois is a—"

"A wretch," cried Gaston; "I am well aware of that."

Dubois smiled his sinister smile.

"Well, to escape these three police?" said Gaston.

"One must be prudent, chevalier."

"Instruct me, captain; for you seem to know more about it than I, who am a provincial."

"First, we must not lodge in the same hotel."

"Diable!" said Gaston, who remembered the address given to Helene; "I had a great wish to remain here."

"I will be the one to turn out then, chevalier. Take one of my rooms, this one, or the one above."

"I prefer this."

"You are right; on the ground-floor, a window looking into one street, a secret door to the other. You have a quick eye; we shall make something of you."

"Let us return to our business."

"Right; where was I?"

"You said you might not be able to come back and fetch me."

"Yes, but in that case take care not to follow any one without sufficient signs."

"By what signs shall I recognize any one as coming from you?"

"First, he must have a letter from me."

"I do not know your writing."

"True; I will give you a specimen."

And Dubois wrote the following lines:

"MONSIEUR LE CHEVALIER—Follow without fear the man who brings this note, he is deputed by me to lead you to the house where the Duc d'Olivares and Captain la Jonquiere await you."

"Stay," said he, giving him the note, "if any one comes in my name, he will give you a similar letter."

"Is that enough?"

"One cannot be too careful; besides the letter, he will show you the half-coin, and at the door of the house to which he leads you, ask for the third sign."

"Which will be."

"The paper."

"It is well," said Gaston, "with these precautions—the devil is in it if we are mistaken. Now, what am I to do?"

"Wait; you will not go out to-day."

"No."

"Well, remain quiet in this hotel, where you will want for nothing. I will recommend you to the host."

"Thanks."

"My dear M. Champagne," said Dubois to Tapin, opening the door, "the Chevalier de Chanlay takes my room; attend to him as you would to me."

Then, closing it—

"That fellow is worth his weight in gold, Tapin," said he in a low voice, "do not lose sight of him for a moment; you will answer for him with your head."



CHAPTER XV.

HIS EXCELLENCY THE DUC D'ORLEANS.

Dubois, on leaving the chevalier, contemplated the chance which had again placed in his hands the future of the regent and of France. In crossing the hall he recognized L'Eveille, and signed to him to follow. It was L'Eveille who had undertaken to get the real La Jonquiere out of the way. Dubois became thoughtful: the easiest part of the affair was done; it now remained to persuade the regent to put himself in a kind of affair which he held in the utmost horror—the maneuvering of intrigue.

Dubois began by asking where the regent was, and how occupied? The prince was in his studio, finishing an etching commenced by Hubert, the chemist, who, at an adjoining table, was occupied in embalming an ibis, by the Egyptian method, which he professed to have recovered.

A secretary was reading some letters to the regent.

All at once, to the regent's astonishment—for this was his sanctum—the door opened, and an usher announced Captain la Jonquiere.

The regent turned.

"La Jonquiere?" said he; "who is this?"

Hubert looked surprised that a stranger should be thus unceremoniously intruded on their privacy.

At this moment a long-pointed head appeared at the open door.

The regent did not, at first, recognize Dubois in his disguise: but shortly, the pointed nose, which had not its match in the kingdom, betrayed him.

A merry look took the place of the astonishment which the regent's features had at first displayed.

"Ah, it is you, abbe!" said his highness, laughing, "and what is the meaning of this disguise?"

"It means that I have changed my skin, and from a fox have turned into a lion; and now Monsieur the Chemist and Monsieur the Secretary, do me the favor to take your bird and letters elsewhere."

"Why so?" asked the regent.

"Because I have important business to speak of with you."

"Go to the devil with your important business; it is too late: come to-morrow."

"Monseigneur," said Dubois, "do not force me to remain till to-morrow in this villainous disguise."

"Do what you please, but I have decided that the rest of this day shall be given to pleasure."

"Well, I come to propose a disguise to you also."

"A disguise! what do you mean, Dubois?" asked the regent, who thought it was probably one of his ordinary masquerades.

"Ah, it makes your mouth water, Monsieur Alain."

"Speak; what do you want to do?"

"First send away your chemist and secretary."

"You still wish it?"——"Decidedly."

"Very well, then."

The regent signed to them to leave: they did so.

"And now," said he, "what is it?"

"I want to present to you, monseigneur, a young man, a very delightful fellow, just arrived from Bretagne, and strongly recommended to me."

"His name?"

"The Chevalier Gaston de Chanlay."

"De Chanlay!" said the regent, "the name is not unknown to me."

"Indeed."

"Yes, I think I have heard it formerly; but I do not remember where or how. What does your protege come to Paris for?"

"Monseigneur, I shall leave him to tell you that himself."

"Tell it to me."

"Yes; that is to say, to the Duc d'Olivares, whom you are about to personate. Ah, my protege is a discreet conspirator, and I have had some trouble to get at the truth of things. He was addressed to Paris, to a certain La Jonquiere, who was to present him to the Duc d'Olivares. Do you understand now?"

"Not at all."

"Well, I have been Captain la Jonquiere, but I cannot be both La Jonquiere and his excellency."

"So, you reserve that part—"

"For you, monseigneur."

"Thank you. So you think that, under a false name, I will get at the secrets—"

"Of your enemies, monseigneur," interrupted Dubois. "Pardieu! what a dreadful crime, and how it would distress you, to change name and dress; you have never before learned secrets by such means. But remember, monseigneur, our many disguises, and after being called M. Alain and Maitre Jean, you may well, I think, without anything derogatory to your dignity, be called Le Duc d'Olivares."

"I ask no better than a disguise for amusement, but—"

"But a disguise," continued Dubois, "to preserve the peace of France, to prevent traitors from overthrowing the kingdom, to prevent assassins from murdering you—this, I suppose, is unworthy of you. I understand; ah, if it were only in pursuit of some little ironmongress in the Pont Neuf, or the pretty widow of the Rue Saint Augustine, it might be worth your while."

"If I do what you wish," said the regent, "what will be the result?"

"Probably, that you will own that I am no visionary, and that you will allow others to watch over you, since you will not watch over yourself."

"But, once for all, if the thing turns out not worth the trouble, shall I be freed from your worrying?"

"I promise you, on my honor."

"Abbe, if you have no objection, I should prefer another oath."

"Oh, monseigneur, you are too hard; but you consent?"

"Again this folly."

"You shall see if it be folly."

"I believe you make plots to frighten me."

"Then they are well made; you shall see."

"Are you certain?"

"Absolutely."

"If I am not frightened, look to yourself."

"Monseigneur exacts too much."

"You are not sure, Dubois."

"I swear to you, monsieur, that you will be moved, and will be glad to speak with his excellency's tongue."

And Dubois went out before the regent had time to withdraw his consent.

Five minutes after, a courier entered the antechamber, and gave a letter to a page, who brought it to the regent.

"Madame Desroches," said he, looking at the writing, and, breaking the seal, read as follows:

"MONSEIGNEUR—The young lady you left in my charge does not appear to be in safety here."

"Bah," exclaimed the regent, and then read on—

"The residence in the town, which your highness feared for her, would be a hundred times better than isolation; and I do not feel strong enough to defend her as I would wish, and as I ought."

"Ouais," said the regent, "it seems something is the matter."

"A young man, who had written to Mademoiselle Helene shortly before your arrival yesterday, presented himself this morning at the pavilion; I wished to refuse him admittance, but mademoiselle so peremptorily ordered me to admit him, and to retire, that in her look and tone I recognized the blood which commands."

"Yes, yes," said the regent, "she is, indeed, my daughter; but who can this young man be? Some coxcomb she must have seen in the convent parlor." Then he read on:

"I believe, monseigneur, that this young man and mademoiselle have met before. I did not think it wrong to listen, for your highness's service, and in spite of the double door I once heard him say, 'To see you as formerly.' Will your royal highness secure me against this danger, and send me a written order which I can use to shelter myself from the anger of mademoiselle."

"Diable!" exclaimed the regent, "it cannot be a love affair already; brought up in the only convent in France where men never pass the parlor. No, it is some foolish fear of Madame Desroches; but let us see what else she writes."

"P. S.—I have just been to the hotel Tigre-Royal for information. The young man arrived yesterday evening at seven o'clock, just three-quarters of an hour before mademoiselle; he came by the Bretagne road, that is, the road she also came. He travels under the name of M. de Livry."

"Oh!" said the regent, "this looks like a concerted plan. Pardieu! Dubois would laugh if he knew this; how he would talk! It is to be hoped he knows nothing of it, in spite of his police. Hola! page."

The page who had brought the letter entered.

"Where is the messenger from Rambouillet?"

"He is waiting for an answer."

"Give him this, and tell him to start at once."

As to Dubois, while preparing the interview between Gaston and the false duke, he made the following calculation.

"I hold the regent both by himself and his daughter. This intrigue of his is either serious or not; if it be not, I distress her in exaggerating it. If it be serious, I have the merit of having discovered it; but I must not strike both blows at once. First, I must save the duke, then his daughter, and there will be two rewards.—Is that the best?—Yes—the duke first—if a young girl falls, no one suffers, if a man falls, a kingdom is lost, let us begin with the duke." And Dubois dispatched a courier to M. de Montaran at Nantes.

M. de Montaran was, as we have said, the ancient governor of Bretagne.

As to Gaston, his plan was fixed. Ashamed of being associated with a man like Jonquiere, he congratulated himself that he was now to communicate with the chief of the enterprise, and resolved, if he also appeared base and venial, to return and take counsel with his friends at Nantes. As to Helene, he doubted not; he knew her courage and her love, and that she would die rather than have to blush before her dearest friend. He saw with joy that the happiness of finding a father did not lead her to forget the past, but still he had his fears as to this mysterious paternity; even a king would own such a daughter, were there not some disgraceful obstacle.

Gaston dressed himself carefully; there is a coquetry in danger as well as in pleasure, and he embellished his youth with every advantage of costume.

The regent, by Dubois's advice, dressed in black velvet and half hid his face in an immense cravat of Mechlin lace.

The interview was to take place in a house belonging to the regent, in the Faubourg Saint Germain: he arrived there at five o'clock, as night was falling.



CHAPTER XVI.

MONSEIGNEUR, WE ARE BRETONS.

Gaston remained in the room on the ground-floor, and dressed himself carefully, as we have said, while Tapin continued his apprenticeship. By the evening he knew how to measure a pint as well as his predecessor, and even better; for he thought that in the compensation which would be given to Bourguignon, waste would be considered, and that therefore the less waste the better; so the morning's customer on her return got badly served, and went off disgusted.

When his toilet was finished, Gaston began to inspect La Jonquiere's library, and found it composed of three sets of books: theatrical books, obscene books, and arithmetical books.

While he was thus engaged a man entered, introduced by Tapin, who went out directly, and left him alone with Gaston. The man announced that Captain La Jonquiere, not being able to return, had sent him in his stead. Gaston demanding proof, the man showed a letter in the same terms and the same writing as the specimen Gaston had received, and then the half coin, after which Gaston made no difficulty as to following him, and both got into a carefully closed carriage. They crossed the Pont-Neuf, and, in the Rue du Bac, stopped at the courtyard of a pavilion; then the man drew from his pocket the paper bearing the chevalier's name as the third signal of recognition.

Gaston and his companion alighted, ascended the four steps of the doorway, and entered a large circular corridor surrounding the pavilion. Gaston looked round and saw that his guide had disappeared, and that he was alone.

His heart beat quickly. He was about to face, not the tool, but the master and originator of the whole plot, the representative of a king; he was to play a kingdom against a kingdom.

A bell sounded within.

Gaston almost trembled. He looked in a glass and saw that he was pale; a thousand new ideas assailed him; the door opened, and La Jonquiere appeared.

"Come, chevalier," said he, "we are expected."

Gaston advanced with a firm step.

They found a man seated in an armchair, his back turned to the door. A single light, placed on a table and covered with a shade, lighted only the lower part of his body; his head and shoulders were in shadow.

Gaston thought the face noble, and understood at once that this was a man of worth, and no La Jonquiere. The mouth was benevolent and the eyes large, bold, and firm, like those of a king or a bird of prey; deep thought was written on his brow, prudence and some degree of firmness in the lower part of the face; all this, however, in the half-darkness, and in spite of the Mechlin cravat.

"At least this is an eagle," thought he, "the other was but a raven."

Gaston bowed silently, and the unknown, rising, went and leaned against the chimney.

"Monsieur is the person of whom I spoke to your excellency," said La Jonquiere, "M. le Chevalier Gaston de Chanlay."

The unknown bowed silently.

"Mordieu!" whispered Dubois in his ear, "if you do not speak he will not say anything."

"This gentleman comes from Bretagne, I believe," said the duke, coldly.

"Yes, monsieur; but will your excellency pardon me. Captain la Jonquiere has told my name, but I have not been told yours. Excuse my rudeness, monseigneur; it is not I who speak, it is my province, which sends me."

"You are right, monsieur," said La Jonquiere, quickly, taking from a portfolio on the table a paper, at the bottom of which was a large signature with the seal of the king of Spain.

"Here is the name," said he.

"Duc d'Olivares," read Gaston.

Then turning to him, he bowed respectfully.

"And now, monsieur," said the duke, "you will not, I presume, hesitate to speak."

"I thought I had first to listen," said Gaston, still on the defensive.

"True: but, remember, it is a dialogue; each one speaks in turn."

"Monseigneur, you do me too much honor, and I will set the example of confidence."

"I listen, monsieur."

"Monseigneur, the states of Bretagne—"

"The malcontents of Bretagne," interrupted the regent smiling, in spite of a sign from Dubois.

"The malcontents are so numerous," replied Gaston, "that they may be considered the representatives of the province: however, I will employ the word your excellency points out; the malcontents of Bretagne have sent me to you, monseigneur, to learn the intentions of Spain in this affair."

"First let us learn those of Bretagne."

"Monseigneur, Spain may count on us; we pledge our word, and Breton loyalty is proverbial."

"But what do you promise?"

"To second the efforts of the French nobility."

"But are you not French?"

"Monseigneur, we are Bretons. Bretagne, reunited to France by a treaty, may look on herself as separated from the moment when France no longer respects the rights of that treaty."

"Yes, I know; the old story of Anne de Bretagne's contract. It is a long time since that contract was signed, monsieur."

The false La Jonquiere pushed the regent violently.

"What matter," said Gaston, "if each one of us has it by heart?"



CHAPTER XVII.

MONSIEUR ANDRE.

"You said that the Breton nobility were ready to second the French nobility: now, what do the French nobility want?"

"They desire, in case of his majesty's death, to place the king of Spain on the throne of France, as sole heir of Louis XIV."

"Very good, very good," said La Jonquiere, taking snuff with an air of extreme satisfaction.

"But," said the regent, "the king is not dead, although you speak almost as if he were."

"The Grand Dauphin, the Duc and Duchesse de Bourgogne and their children, disappeared in a deplorable manner." The regent turned pale with anger; Dubois coughed.

"Then they reckon on the king's death?"

"Generally, monseigneur."

"Then that explains how the king of Spain hopes, in spite of the renunciation of his rights, to mount the throne of France. But, among the people attached to the regency, he may meet with some opposition."

The false Spaniard involuntarily lingered on these words.

"Monseigneur," replied the chevalier, "this case also has been foreseen."

"Ah!" said Dubois, "this has been foreseen. Did not I tell you, monseigneur, that the Bretons were valuable to us. Continue, monsieur, continue."

In spite of this invitation, Gaston was silent.

"Well, monsieur," said the pretended duke, "I am listening."

"This secret is not mine, monseigneur."

"Then," said the duke, "I have not the confidence of your chiefs?"

"On the contrary, you alone have it."

"I understand, monsieur; but the captain is my friend, and I answer for him as for myself."

"My instructions are, monseigneur, to speak to you alone."

"But, I tell you, I answer for the captain."

"In that case," said Gaston, bowing, "I have said all I have to say."

"You hear, captain," said the regent; "have the kindness to leave us alone."

"Yes, monseigneur; I have but two words to say to you."

Gaston drew back.

"Monseigneur," whispered Dubois, "press him hard—get out the whole affair—you will never have such another chance. What do you think of our Breton?"

"A noble fellow; eyes full of intelligence and a fine head."

"So much the better for cutting it off."

"What do you say?"

"Nothing, monseigneur; I am exactly of your opinion. M. de Chanlay, your humble servant; some might be angry that you would not speak before them, but I am not proud, and, provided all things turn out as I expect, I do not care for the means."

Chanlay bowed.

"Monsieur," said the regent, when Dubois had closed the door, "we are alone, and I am listening. Speak—you understand my impatience."

"Yes, monseigneur. You are doubtless surprised that you have not yet received from Spain a certain dispatch which you were to send to Cardinal Olocroni?"

"True, monsieur," said the regent, dissembling with difficulty.

"I will explain the delay. The messenger who should have brought this dispatch fell ill, and has not left Madrid. The Baron de Valef, my friend, who was in Spain, offered himself; and, after three or four day's hesitation, at length—as he was a man already tried in Cellamare's conspiracy—they trusted him."

"In fact," said the regent, "the Baron de Valef narrowly escaped Dubois's emissaries; it needed some courage to renew such a work. I know that when the regent saw Madame de Maine and Cellamare arrested; Richelieu, Polignac, Malezieux, and Mademoiselle de Launay in the Bastille; and that wretched Lagrange-Chancel at the Sainte Marguerite, he thought all was finished."

"You see he was mistaken, monseigneur."

"But do not these Breton conspirators fear that in thus rising they may sacrifice the heads of the Paris conspirators whom the regent has in his power?"

"They hope to save them, or die with them."

"How save them?"

"Let us return to the dispatch, if you please, monseigneur; here it is."

The regent took the paper, but seeing the address to his excellency the Duc d'Olivares, laid it on the table unopened. Strange inconsistency! This man opened two hundred letters a day by his spies; it is true that then he dealt with a Thorey or a Dubois, and not with a Chevalier de Chanlay.

"Well, monseigneur," said Gaston.

"You know, doubtless, what this dispatch contains, monsieur?"

"Not word for word, perhaps; but I know what was arranged."

"Well, tell me. I shall be glad to know how far you are admitted into the secrets of the Spanish cabinet."

"When the regent is got rid of," said Gaston, without noticing the slight start which his interlocutor gave at these words, "the Duc de Maine will be provisionally recognized in his place. The Duc de Maine will at once break the treaty of the quadruple alliance signed by that wretch Dubois."

"I wish La Jonquiere had been here to hear you speak thus; it would have pleased him. Go on, monsieur."

"The pretender will start with a fleet for the English shore; Prussia, Sweden, and Russia will then be engaged with Holland; the empire will profit by this war to retake Naples and Sicily, to which it lays claim through the house of Suabia; the Grand Duchy of Tuscany will be assured to the second son of the king of Spain, the Catholic low countries will be re-united to France, Sardinia given to the Duke of Savoy, Commachio to the pope. France will be the soul of the great league of the south against the north, and, if Louis XV. dies, Philip V. will be crowned king of half the world."

"Yes, I know all that," said the regent, "and this is Cellamare's conspiracy renewed. But you used a phrase I did not understand."

"Which, monseigneur?"

"You said, when the regent is got rid of. How is he to be got rid of?"

"The old plan was, as you know, to carry him off to the prison of Saragossa, or the fortress of Toledo."

"Yes; and the plan failed through the duke's watchfulness."

"It was impracticable—a thousand obstacles opposed it. How was it possible to take such a prisoner across France?"

"It was difficult," said the duke; "I never understood the adoption of such a plan. I am glad to find it modified."

"Monseigneur, it would be possible to seduce guards, to escape from a prison or a fortress, to return to France, retake a lost power, and punish those who had executed this abduction. Philip V. and Alberoni have nothing to fear; his excellency the Duc d'Olivares regains the frontier in safety; and, while half the conspirators escape, the other half pay for all."——"However—"

"Monseigneur, we have the example of the last conspiracy before our eyes, and you yourself named those who are in the Bastille."

"What you say is most logical," replied the duke.

"While, on the contrary, in getting rid of the regent—" continued the chevalier.

"Yes; you prevent his return. It is possible to return from a prison, but not from a tomb—that is what you would say?"

"Yes, monseigneur," replied Gaston, with a somewhat tremulous voice.

"Now I understand your mission. You come to Paris to make away with the regent?"

"Yes, monseigneur."

"Explain yourself."

"We were five Breton gentlemen, forming a small party or league in the midst of the general association, and it was agreed that the majority should decide on our plans."

"I understand, and the majority decided that the regent should be assassinated."

"Yes, monseigneur, four were for assassination, and one against it."

"And that one?"

"If I lose your excellency's confidence I must own that I was that one."

"But, then, why are you to accomplish a design you disapprove?"

"Chance was to decide the one who should strike the blow."

"And the lot?"

"Fell on me, monseigneur."

"Why did you not refuse?"

"The ballot was without names, no one knew my vote. I should have been taken for a coward."

"And you came to Paris?"

"For the task imposed on me."

"Reckoning on me?"

"As on an enemy of the regent, for aid in accomplishing an enterprise which not only concerns the interests of Spain, but which will save our friends from the Bastille."

"Do they run as much danger as you believe?"

"Death hovers over them; the regent has proofs, and has said of M. de Richelieu that if he had four heads he has wherewith to condemn them all."

"He said that in a moment of passion."

"What, monseigneur, you defend the duke—you tremble when a man devotes himself to save, not only his accomplices, but two kingdoms—you hesitate to accept that devotion."

"If you fail!"

"Everything has its good and evil side; if the happiness of being the savior of a country is lost, the honor of being a martyr to its cause is gained."

"But remember, in facilitating your access to the regent, I become your accomplice."

"Does that frighten you, monseigneur?"

"Certainly, for you being arrested—"

"Well—I being arrested?"

"They may force from you, by means of tortures, the names of those—"

Gaston's reply was a smile of supreme disdain.

"You are a foreigner and a Spaniard, monseigneur," said he, "and do not know what a French gentleman is, therefore I pardon you."

"Then I may reckon on your silence?"

"Pontcalec, Du Couedic, Talhouet, and Montlouis, doubted me for an instant, and have since apologized to me for doing so."

"Well, monsieur, I will think seriously of what you have said, but in your place—"

"In my place?"

"I would renounce this enterprise."

"I wish I had never entered into it, monseigneur, I own, for since I did so a great change has taken place in my life, but I am in it, and must accomplish it."

"Even if I refuse to second you?"

"The Breton committee have provided for that emergency."

"And decided—"

"To do without you."

"Then your resolution—"

"Is irrevocable."

"I have said all I had to say," replied the regent, "since you are determined to pursue your undertaking."

"Monseigneur," said Gaston, "you seem to wish to retire."

"Have you anything more to say to me?"

"Not to-day; to-morrow, or the day after."

"You have the captain as go-between—when he gives me notice I will receive you with pleasure."

"Monseigneur," said Gaston firmly, and with a noble air, "let me speak freely. We should have no go-between; you and I—so evidently separated by rank and station—are equal before the scaffold which threatens us. I have even a superiority over you, since I run the greater danger; however, you are now, monseigneur, a conspirator, like the Chevalier de Chanlay, with this difference: that you have the right—being the chief—to see his head fall before yours—let me, then, treat as an equal with your excellency, and see you when it is necessary."

The regent thought for a moment.

"Very well," said he, "this house is not my residence; you understand I do not receive many at my house: since the war, my position is precarious and delicate in France; Cellamare is in prison at Blois; I am only a sort of consul—good as a hostage—I cannot use too many precautions."

The regent lied with a painful effort.

"Write, then, poste restante to M. Andre, you must name the time at which you wish to see me, and I will be there."

"Through the post?" asked Gaston.

"Yes, it is only a delay of three hours; at each post a man will watch for your letter, and bring it to me when it arrives; three hours after you can come here."

"Your excellency forgets," said Gaston, laughing, "that I do not know where I am, in what street, at what number; I came by night. Stay, let us do better than that; you asked for time to reflect, take till to-morrow morning, and at eleven o'clock send for me. We must arrange a plan beforehand, that it may not fail, like those plans where a carriage or a shower of rain disconcerts everything."

"That is a good idea," said the regent; "to-morrow, then, at eleven o'clock, you shall be fetched, and we will then have no secrets from each other."

Gaston bowed and retired. In the antechamber he found the guide who brought him, but he noticed that in leaving they crossed a garden which they had not passed through on entering, and went out by a different door. At this door the carriage waited, and it quickly arrived at the Rue des Bourdonnais.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE FAUBOURG SAINT ANTOINE.

No more illusion for the chevalier. In a day or two he might be called to his work.

The Spanish envoy had deeply impressed Gaston—there was about him an air of greatness which surprised him.

A strange circumstance passed across his mind; there was, between his forehead and eyes and those of Helene, one of those vague and distant likenesses which seem almost like the incoherence of a dream. Gaston, without knowing why, associated these two faces in his memory, and could not separate them. As he was about to lie down, worn out with fatigue, a horse's feet sounded in the street, the hotel door opened, and Gaston heard an animated conversation; but soon the door was closed, the noise ceased, and he slept as a man sleeps at five-and-twenty, even if he be a conspirator.

However, Gaston was not mistaken; a horse had arrived, and a conversation had taken place. A peasant from Rambouillet brought in haste a note from a young and pretty woman to the Chevalier de Chanlay, Hotel Muids d'Amour.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse