Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Henry of Guise; (Vol. II of 3) - or, The States of Blois
Author: James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainsford), 1801-1860
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Henry of Guise; (Vol. II of 3) - or, The States of Blois" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Web Archive (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)



Transcriber's Notes:

   1. Page scan source:
      http://archive.org/details/henryofguiseorst02jame
     (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)



                           HENRY OF GUISE;


                         THE STATES OF BLOIS.

                               VOL. II.



                               London:
                     Printed by A. Spottiswoode,
                          New-Street-Square



                            HENRY OF GUISE



                         THE STATES OF BLOIS.



                                  BY



                         G. P. R. JAMES, ESQ.

                              AUTHOR OF

           "THE ROBBER," "THE GENTLEMAN OF THE OLD SCHOOL,"
                            ETC. ETC. ETC.



                          IN THREE VOLUMES.

                               VOL. II.



                               LONDON:

                             PRINTED FOR
               LONGMAN, ORME, BROWN, GREEN, & LONGMANS,
                           PATERNOSTER-ROW.

                                1839.



                           HENRY OF GUISE;


                         THE STATES OF BLOIS.



                              CHAPTER I.


All was bustle round the door of the little inn of Montigny; twenty or
thirty horses employed the hands and attention of as many grooms and
stable-boys; and while they put their heads together, and talked over
the perfections or imperfections of the beasts they held, sixty or
seventy respectable citizens, the great cloth merchant, and the
wholesale dealer in millstones, the curé of the little town, the
bailiff of the high-justiciary, the ironmonger, the grocer, and the
butcher, stood in knots on the outside, discussing more important
particulars than the appearance of the horses. The sign of the inn was
the _Croix de Lorraine_, and the name of the Duke of Guise was
frequently heard mingling in the conversation of the people round the
door.

"A great pity," cries one, "that his Highness does not stay here the
night."

"Some say that the King's troops are pursuing him," replied another.

"Sure enough he came at full speed," said a third; "but I heard his
people talk about the reiters."

"Oh, we would protect him against the reiters," cried one of the bold
citizens of Montigny.

"Well," said another, "if he be likely to bring the reiters upon us, I
think his Highness very wise to go. How could we defend an open town?
and he has not twenty men behind him."

"I will tell you something, my masters," said another, with an air of
importance, and a low bow:--"When my boy was over towards Montreuil
to-night, he heard a report of the reiters having been defeated near
Gandelu."

"Oh, nonsense!" replied the courageous burgher; "who should defeat
them if the Duke was not there?"

"But hark!" cried another, "I hear trumpets, as I live. Now, if these
should be the King's troops we will defend the Duke at the peril of
our lives. But let us look out and see."

"Come up to my windows," cried one.

"Go up the tower of the church," said the curé.

But another remarked that the sounds did not come from the side of
Paris; and, in a minute or two after, a well-dressed citizen like
themselves rode gaily in amongst them, jumped from his horse, threw up
his cap in the air, and exclaimed, "Long life to the Duke of Guise!
The reiters have been cut to pieces!"

"What is that you say, young man?" exclaimed a voice from one of the
windows of the inn above; and looking up, the citizen saw a young and
gay-looking man sitting in the open casement, and leaning out with his
arm round the iron bar that ran up the centre.

"I said, my Lord," replied the man, "that the reiters have been cut to
pieces, and I saw the troops that defeated them bring in the wounded
and prisoners last night into La Ferté."

"Ventre bleu! This is news indeed," cried the other; and instantly
turning, he quitted the window and advanced into the room.

While this conversation had been going on without, a quick conference
had been going on between the personages whose horses were held
without. The chamber in which they were assembled was an upstairs'
room, with two beds in two several corners, and a table in the midst
covered with a clean white table-cloth, and ornamented in the centre
with a mustard-pot, a salt-seller, and a small bottle of vinegar,
while four or five spoons were ranged around.

At the side of the table appeared the Duke of Guise, dining with as
good an appetite off a large piece of unsalted boiled beef, as off any
of the fine stews and salmis of his cook Maître Lanecque. Five or six
other gentlemen were around, diligently employed in the same
occupation; and one who had finished two bowls of soup at a place
where they had previously stopped, now declaring that he had no
appetite, had taken his seat in the window. The servants of the Duke
and of his companions were at dinner below, and the landlord himself
was excluded from the room, that dining and consultation might go on
at the same time.

"It is most unfortunate," said the Duke of Guise, as soon as he had
seated himself at the table, "it is most unfortunate that this youth
has not kept his word with me. Our horses and men are both fatigued to
death; and yet, after what happened the other day at Mareuil, it would
be madness to remain here all night with only twenty horsemen."

"You have got timid, fair cousin," replied one of the gentlemen
present. "We shall have you wrapping yourself up in a velvet gown, and
setting up a conférrie, in imitation of our excellent, noble, and
manly king."

The Duke w as habitually rash enough to be justified in laughing at
the charge, and he replied, "It is on your account, my pretty cousin,
that I fear the most. You know what the reiters have sworn to do with
you, if they catch you."

"It is most unfortunate indeed," said an older and a graver man; "most
unfortunate, that this Count de Logères should have deceived you. It
might have been better, perhaps, to trust to some more tried and
experienced friend."

"Oh, you do him wrong, Laval; you do him wrong," replied the Duke. "It
is neither want of faith or good will, I can be sworn. Some accident,
such as may happen to any of us, has detained him. I am very anxious
about him, and somewhat reproach myself for having made him march with
only half his numbers. Had his whole band been with him, he might have
made head against the reiters, if he met with them. But now he has
less than half their reputed number. Nevertheless," he continued, "his
absence is, as you say, most unfortunate; for--with these Germans on
our left, and the movements of Henry's Swiss upon our right--they
might catch us as the Gascons do wild ducks, in the net, through the
meshes of which we have been foolish enough to thrust our own heads. I
pray thee, Brissac, go down to mine host of the house, and gather
together some of the notable men of the place, to see if we cannot by
any means purchase horses to carry us on. Who are you speaking to,
Aumale?" he continued, raising his voice, and addressing the youth who
sat in the window.

"Good news, good news!" cried the young man springing down, and coming
forward into the room. "The reiters have been cut to pieces near
Gandelu. There is a fellow below who has seen the victorious troops,
and the wounded and the prisoners."

"My young falcon for a thousand crowns!" cried the Duke of Guise. "If
that be the case, we shall soon hear more of him. Hark! are not those
trumpets? Yet go out, Brissac; go out. We must not suffer ourselves to
be surprised whatever we do. Aumale, have the horses ready. If they
should prove the Swiss, we must march out at the one gate while they
march in at the other."

But at that moment Brissac, who had run down at a word, and was by
this time in the street, held up his hand to one of the others who was
looking out of the window, exclaiming, "Crosses of Lorraine, crosses
of Lorraine! A gallant body of some fifty spears; but all crosses of
Lorraine.--Ay, and I can see the arms of Montsoreau and Logères! All
is right, tell the Duke; all is right!" And thus saying he advanced
along the street to meet the troops that were approaching.

The Duke of Guise, who had risen from the table, seated himself again
quietly, drew a deep breath as a man relieved from some embarrassment,
and filling the glass that stood beside him, half full of the good
small wine of Beaugency, rested his head upon his hand, and remained
in thought for several minutes.

While he remained in this meditative mood the sounds of the trumpets
became louder and louder; the trampling of horses' feet were heard
before the inn, and then was given, in a loud tone, the order to halt.
Several of the companions of the Duke had gone down stairs to witness
the arrival of the troops, and in a minute or two after, feet were
heard coming up, and the Duke turned his head to welcome the young
Count on his arrival. He was somewhat surprised, however, to see an
old white-headed man, who had doffed his steel cap to enter the Duke's
presence, come in between Brissac and Laval, and make him a low
inclination of the head.

"Who are you, my good friend?" demanded the Duke. "And where is the
young Count of Logères?"

"I know not, your Highness," replied the other. "I am the Count's
seneschal, and expected to find him here. He set off four days ago
with one half of his men, commanding me to join him at Montigny with
the rest, as soon as their arms arrived from Rhetel. They came sooner
than we expected, so I followed him the day after."

"Then is it to you, my worthy old friend," said the Duke, "that the
country is obliged for the defeat of this band of marauders?"

"No, your Highness," replied the old man bluntly. "I have not had the
good fortune to meet with any thing to defeat, though, indeed, we
heard of something of the kind this morning as we passed by
Grisolles."

"I hope the news is true," said the Duke; "I have heard of many a
victory in my day, where it turned out that the victors were
vanquished; and I hear that these reiters numbered from a hundred to a
hundred and fifty men. How many had your Lord with him, good
seneschal?"

"He had fifty-one men at arms," replied the old soldier, "besides some
lackeys and a page; and some men leading horses with the baggage he
could not do without."

"I shall not be easy till I hear more of him," said the Duke, walking
up and down the room. "However, your coming, good seneschal, will
enable us to make good this place against any force that may be
brought against it. Quick, send me up the aubergiste. We must despatch
some one to bring us in intelligence: and now, good seneschal, rest
and refresh your horses, get your men some food, and have every thing
ready to put foot in stirrup again at a moment's notice; for if we
find that your Lord has fallen into the hands of these reiters, we
must mount to deliver him. Let their numbers be what they may, Henry
of Guise cannot make up his mind to leave a noble friend in the hands
of the foemen."

"We are all ready this minute, my Lord," replied the old seneschal.
"There is not a man of Logères who is not ready to ride forty miles,
and fight two reiters this very night in defence of his Lord."

"The old cock's not behind the young one," said the Chevalier d'Aumale
to Brissac. But the Duke of Guise overruled the zealous eagerness of
the old soldier; and as soon as the aubergiste appeared, directed him
to send off a boy in the direction of Montreuil and La Ferté, in order
to gain intelligence of the movements of the Count de Logères, and to
ascertain whether the report of the defeat of the reiters was correct
or not. His own horses he ordered now to be unsaddled, and casting off
his corselet, gave himself up to repose for the evening.

During the next hour, or hour and a half, manifold were the reports
which reached the town concerning the conflict which had taken place
between the Count of Logères and the reiters on the preceding evening.
All sorts of stories were told: every peasant that brought in a basket
of apples had his own version of the affair; and the accounts were the
most opposite, as well as the most various. The Duke of Guise,
however, was too much accustomed to sifting the various rumours of the
day, not to be able to glean some true information from the midst of
these conflicting statements. It seemed clear to him that the reiters
had been defeated, and without having any very certain cause for his
belief, he felt convinced that Charles of Montsoreau was already upon
his way towards Montigny.

"Come," he added, after expressing these opinions to the Chevalier
d'Aumale, "we must at least give our young champion a good meal on his
arrival. See to it, Brissac; see to it. You, who are a connoisseur in
such things, deal with our worthy landlord of the Cross, and see if he
cannot procure something for supper more dainty than he gave us for
dinner."

"The poor man was taken by surprise," replied Brissac; "but since he
heard that you were to remain here, there has been such a cackling and
screaming in the court-yard, and such a riot in the dovecote, that I
doubt not all the luxuries of Montigny will be poured forth this night
upon the table."

In less than an hour after this order was given, the arrival of fresh
horses was heard; and Laval, who went to the window, announced, that
as well as he could see through the increasing darkness, for it was
now night, this new party consisted only of five or six persons. In a
few minutes, however, the door was thrown open by the aubergiste, and
Charles of Montsoreau himself appeared, dusty with the march, and with
but few traces of triumph or satisfaction on his countenance.

"What, my young hero!" cried the Duke, rising and taking him by the
hand; "you look as gloomy as if you had suffered a defeat, rather than
gained a victory. Are the tidings which we have heard not true then,
or are they exaggerated? If you have even brought off your forces safe
from the reiters, that is a great thing, so overmatched as you were."

"It is not that, your Highness," replied Charles of Montsoreau: "the
numbers were not very disproportionate, but the reiters have certainly
suffered a complete rout, and I do not think that they will ever meet
in a body again. They lost a good many men on the field, and I fear
the peasantry have murdered all the wounded."

"So much the better," cried the Chevalier d'Aumale; "so much the
better. One could have done nothing with them but hang them."

"I fear then," said the Duke of Guise, addressing the Count, "I fear
then that your own loss has been severe by the gloominess of your
countenance, Logères."

"There are a good many severely wounded, sir," replied the Count; "but
very few killed. This, however, is not the cause of my vexation, which
I must explain to your Highness alone. I have, however, to apologise
to you for not being here last night, as I fully intended. I did not
go to seek the reiters, but fell in with them accidentally, and after
the skirmish I was forced to turn towards La Ferté instead of coming
here, in order to get surgeons to my wounded men. I find, however,
sir," he continued, "that my good old seneschal has made more speed
than his master, and has arrived here with his band before me. I must
go and take order for the comfort of my people, and prepare lodging
for the rest who are coming up, for I rode on at all speed as soon as
I met with the messenger whom you had sent out to seek me. After that
I will return and crave a few minutes' audience of your Grace alone."

"Come back to supper, dear friend," replied the Duke; "we must let our
gay friends now sup with us; but then we will drive them to their
beds, and hold solitary council together, and be not long Logères, for
you need both refreshment and repose."

When the young Count returned to the apartments of the Duke, after he
had seen the rest of his troop arrive, and had taken every measure to
secure the comfort of the men under his command, he found that Prince
standing in one of the deep windows speaking in a low tone with the
page Ignati, while his own officers were gathered together in the
window on the other side.

The Duke instantly took him by the hand as he approached, and said in
a low but kindly tone, "You see I have been questioning the spy I set
upon you, Logères, and he has let me into a number of your secrets;
but you must not be angry with him on that account, for Henry of Guise
will not abuse the trust. Come, let us sit down to table, and we will
afterwards find an opportunity of talking over all these affairs. You
have acted nobly and gallantly, my young friend, and have served your
country while you benefited me. For your brother's conduct you are not
responsible: but I think this morning's events, if the boy speaks
correctly, must bar your tongue from speaking his praises for the
future."

"Indeed, my Lord," exclaimed the young Count, "my brother may----"

"Hush! hush!" cried the Duke. "There is nothing sits so ill upon the
lips of a noble-hearted man as an excuse for bad actions, either in
himself or others. It is false generosity, Charles of Montsoreau, to
say the least of it. But let us to table. Come, Aumale. See! our good
Aubergiste looks reproachfully at you for letting his fragrant ragouts
grow cold. Come, we will to meat, gentlemen. Sit down, sit down, We
will have no ceremony here at the Cross of Lorraine."

Thus saying, the Duke seated himself at table, and the rest took their
places around. The supper proved better than had been expected, and
wine and good appetites supplied the place of all deficiencies. The
Chevalier d'Aumale indeed had every now and then a light jest at some
of the various dishes: he declared that a certain capon had blunted
his dagger, and asked Charles of Montsoreau whether it was not tougher
than a veteran reiter. He declared that a matelote d'anguille which
was placed before him, had a strong flavour of a hedge; but added,
that as his own appetite was viperous, he must get through it as best
he might. He was not without a profane jest either, upon a dish of
pigeons; but though he addressed the greater part of these gaily to
the young Count de Logères, he could hardly wring a smile from one who
in former days would have laughed with the best, but whose heart was
now anxiously occupied with many a bitter feeling.

Charles of Montsoreau was eager, too, that the meal should be over,
for he longed for that private communication with the Duke which
weighed upon his mind in anticipation. He felt that it would be
difficult to exculpate his brother; and yet, in pursuance of his own
high resolutions, he longed to do so: and then again he eagerly hoped
that the powerful prince beside whom he sat would find some means of
delivering Marie de Clairvaut from the hands into which she had
fallen; and yet he feared, from all he heard and saw, that that
deliverance might be difficult and remote.

Thus the banquet passed somewhat cheerlessly to him; and it was not
very much enlivened by a little incident which happened towards the
close of supper, when the landlord, who had come into the room
followed by a man dressed in the garb of a surgeon, whispered
something in the Duke's ear which called his attention immediately.

"How many did you say?" demanded the Duke.

"Only two at present, your Highness," replied the surgeon; "but three
more sinking, I think."

"All in the same house?" said the Duke.

"No, my Lord, in different houses," replied the man; "but near the
same spot."

"The only thing to be done," replied the Duke, "is to draw a barrier
across the end of that street, and mark the houses with a white
cross."

"What is the matter, your Highness?" said Laval, from the other end of
the table.

"Oh, nothing," replied the Duke of Guise, "only a few cases of the
plague; and because it was very bad last autumn at Morfontaine, the
people here have got into a fright."

The Duke of Guise concluded his supper as lightly and gaily as if
nothing had happened, for his mind had become so accustomed to deal
with and to contemplate things of great moment, that they made not
that impression upon him which they do upon those whose course is laid
in a smoother and evener path.

Charles of Montsoreau, however, could not feel in the same way. "War
and pestilence!" he thought, "bloodshed and death! These are the
common every-day ideas of men in this unhappy country, now. Perhaps
famine may be added some day soon, and yet there will be light
laughter, and merriment, and jest. Well, let it be so. Why should we
cast away enjoyment because it can but be small? Life is at best but
made up of chequered visions: let us enjoy the bright ones while we
may, and make the dark ones short if we can."

While he thus thought, the Duke of Guise whispered a word or two to
the Count of Brissac, and that gentleman nodded to Laval. Shortly
after, both rose; and, with an air of affected unwillingness, the
Chevalier d'Aumale followed their example. The two or three other
gentlemen who had partaken of the meal, but who either from inferior
situation or natural taciturnity had mingled but little in the
conversation, left the table at the same time, and accompanied the
others out of the room, so that the Duke of Guise and the young Count
were left alone.



                              CHAP. II.


The weak-minded and the vulgar are cowed by the aspect of high
station; the humble in mind, and the moderate in talent, are subdued
by high genius, and bend lowly to the majesty of mind; the powerful,
the firm, and the elevated spring up to meet their like, and with them
there is nothing earthly that can overawe but a consciousness of evil
in themselves, or a sensation of abasement for those they love.

Such was the case with Charles of Montsoreau, who undoubtedly was a
man of high and powerful mind. He was in his first youth, it is true;
he had no great or intimate knowledge of the world, except that
knowledge of the world which, in a few rare instances, comes as it
were by intuition. He had been bred up from his youth in love and
admiration for the princes of the House of Lorraine, and especially of
Henry, Duke of Guise; and yet, when he had met him for the first time,
and recognised him at once in the inn at Mareuil, he felt no
diffidence--no alarm. Nor had this confidence in himself any thing
whatsoever to do with conceit: he thought not of himself for a moment;
he thought only of the Duke of Guise and his situation, and impulse
guided by habit did the rest. Seeing that the Duke had assumed an
inferior character, he treated him accordingly; and acting as nature
dictated to him, he acted right.

Neither, at Rheims, when the Duke appeared surrounded by pomp and
splendour, did the young nobleman feel differently. He paid every
tribute of external reverence to the Prince's station and high renown;
but he conferred with him upon equal terms, feeling that if in mind he
was not absolutely equal to that great leader, he was competent to
appreciate his character, and was not inferior to him in elevation of
thought and purpose.

But now, how changed were all his feelings, when, sitting by one whom
he venerated and respected--more than perhaps was deserved--he had to
discuss with him the painful subject of a brother's errors, and
torture imagination to find excuses which judgment would not ratify!
He sat humiliated, and pained, and hesitating: he knew not what to
say, and he felt that any thing he could say was vain.

For a few minutes after the rest of the party quitted the room, the
Duke of Guise remained silent, sometimes gazing down, as was his
habit, upon his clasped hands, sometimes raising his eyes for a single
moment to the countenance of his young companion. He seemed to feel
for him, indeed; and when he did speak, led the conversation to the
subject gradually and delicately.

"Well, my dear Count," he said, "let us speak of this affair of the
reiters. You made me as many excuses but now, for defeating our
enemies, as if you had let them defeat you. Such gallant actions are
easily pardoned, Logères; and if you but proceed to commit many such
faults, Henry of Navarre and Henry of Guise had both need look to
their renown. There was a third Henry once," he continued, half
closing his eyes, and speaking with a sigh, as he thought of Henry
III. and fair promises of his youth; "there was a third Henry once,
who might perhaps have borne the meed of fame away from us both: but
that light has gone out in the socket, and left nothing but an
unsavory smell behind. However, there was no excuse needed, good
friend, for cutting to pieces double your own number of German
marauders."

"My excuse was not for that," replied the Count, calmly, "but your
Highness directed me to go no farther than Montigny, and I went to La
Ferté, on account of the wounded men."

"That is easily excused too," said the Duke. "But now give me your own
account of the affair. The boy told me the story but imperfectly. How
fell you in with the reiters at first?"

Charles of Montsoreau did as the Prince required, giving a full and
minute, but modest, account of all that had taken place. But when he
spoke of retreating up the river to the spot where the banks were
deeper, and the stream more profound, Guise caught him by the hand,
exclaiming eagerly, "Did you know that the banks were steeper? Did you
see that they would guard your flank?"

"That was my object, my Lord," replied the young Count, somewhat
surprised. "I noticed the nature of the ground as we charged them at
first."

"Kneel down!" cried the Duke; "kneel down! Would to God that I were a
Bayard for thy sake!--In the name of God, St. Michael and St. George,
I dub thee knight;" and drawing his sword he struck him on the collar
with the blade, adding with a smile, in which melancholy was blended
with gaiety, "Perchance this may be the last chivalrous knighthood
conferred in France. Indeed, as matters go, I think it will be: but if
it should, I can but say that it never was won more nobly."

The young Count rose with sparkling eyes. The memory of the chivalrous
ages was not yet obliterated by dust and lichens; the fire of a more
enthusiastic epoch was not yet quite extinct; and he felt as if what
had passed gave him greater strength to go through what was to come.

The Duke, however, relaxing soon into his former manner, made him a
sign to proceed; and Charles of Montsoreau went on to detail the
complete defeat and dispersion of the different bodies of reiters. He
then began to hesitate again: but Guise was determined to hear all,
and said, "But your brother; where did you find your brother? Be frank
with me, Logères."

Thus pressed, the young Count went on to say, that he did not again
meet with his brother till he found him in the market-place at La
Ferté. "My brother," he continued, "having been driven by the party
that pursued him beyond the carriage, and judging that I was coming up
with a superior force, imagined that Mademoiselle de Clairvaut and her
attendants had fallen under my protection: but finding that such was
not the case, he mounted his horse again, and proceeded to seek for
her during the greater part of the night, while I did the same in
another direction."

He was then hurrying on as fast as possible to speak of the following
morning, but the Duke interrupted him, demanding, "There was a sharp
dispute in the market-place, I think; was there not, Monsieur de
Logères? Pray let me hear the particulars."

But Charles of Montsoreau, driven to the point, answered boldly and at
once, "It was a dispute between two brothers, my Lord; in regard to
which none but God and their own consciences can judge. You will
therefore pardon me if I keep that which is private to my private
bosom."

Guise gazed at him for a long--a very long time, with eyes full of
deep feeling, and then replied, "By Heaven! you are one of the most
extraordinary young men I ever met with. I know the whole, Monsieur de
Logères; and the words there spoken let me into the secrets of your
bosom which I wished to know. I now understand how to deal with you;
and while I do my best to secure your happiness, trust to the Duke of
Guise to avoid, as far as possible, any thing that is painful to you
in the course. But go on; let me hear the rest."

"If you know all, my Lord," said Charles of Montsoreau, a good deal
affected by the Duke's kindness, "will you not spare me the telling of
that which must be painful to me?"

"I fear I must ask you to go on," replied the Duke. "What you have now
to tell me is the most important part of all to me at the present
moment, for by it must my conduct be regulated, in regard to the
measures for rescuing our poor Marie from the hands of that----." He
checked himself suddenly, and then added, "the King, in short. A
single word may cause a difference in our view of the matter; and
therefore I would fain hear you tell it, if you will do me that
favour."

"All that I know, my Lord, I will tell," replied the Count; "but of my
own knowledge I have little to tell, for the principal part of my
information was derived from the boy with whom you have already
spoken. All then that I personally know is, that, having slept long
from great fatigue, I was roused by the boy in the morning; that he
told me my brother was about to depart; and that, on descending, I
found his report true. My brother was already on horseback, and his
troop in the act of setting out; but he was accompanied by a gentleman
whom I had never seen before, whose name is Colombel, and who, I found
afterwards, is an officer in the service of the King."

"Oh yes," said the Duke of Guise; "I have heard him named; a person of
no great repute, but some cunning."

"My conversation with my brother," continued the Count, "was not the
most agreeable. On his side it was all taunts; but the only part of
which it is needful to inform your Highness, was, that when I asked
tidings of Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, he would afford me no
information, except that she was in safe hands. I am grieved, also, to
be compelled to say that he told me, if I did not join you before he
did, I should be long parted from you."

"We have lost an ally," replied the Duke; "but one which, to say
sooth, I do not covet. If he be not treacherous, he is at best
unsteady; but I cannot help fearing, Charles of Montsoreau, that your
brother himself, apprehending that my regard for you might not suit
his purposes, has had some share in suffering Marie to fall into the
hands of Henry."

"Oh no, my Lord, oh no!" exclaimed Charles of Montsoreau; "you do him
wrong, believe me. My Lord, a few words will explain to you the cause
of his conduct. He is possessed with a passion for Mademoiselle de
Clairvaut, so strong, so vehement, so intense, as to have a portion of
madness in it,--a sufficient portion to make him cast away his former
nature altogether, to hate his brother, to abandon his friends, to
abjure all the thoughts and feelings of his youth, and to follow her
still where-ever she goes, seeking to obtain her by means which the
very blindness of his passion prevents him from seeing are those which
must insure his losing her."

"This is the passion of a weak and unstable mind," said the Duke.
"Love, my young friend, is in itself a grand and ennobling thing,
leading us to do great actions for the esteem and approbation of her
we love. The love of a bright woman," he added, "the love of a bright
woman--I speak it with all due reverence," and he put his hand to his
hat, "is the next finest sensation, the next grand mover in human
actions, to the love of God. The object is undoubtedly inferior, but
the course is the same, namely, the striving to do high and excellent
things for the approbation of a being that we love and venerate. Alas
that it should be so! but in this world I fear the love of woman is
amongst us the strongest mover of the two: the other is so remote, so
high, so pure, that our dull senses strain their wings in reaching it.
The love of woman appeals to the earthly as well as to the heavenly
part of man's nature, and consequently is heard more easily.
Perhaps--and Heaven grant it!--that, as some of our fathers held, the
one love may lead us on to the other, and the perishable be but a step
to the immortal. However," he added, "such love as that which you say
possesses your brother, will certainly never lead him on to any thing
that is great, or high, or noble. Most certainly it will not lead him
to the hand of Marie de Clairvaut as long as Henry of Guise can draw a
sword. If he have not betrayed me, he has abandoned me; if he have not
shown himself a coward, he has shown himself a weak defender of those
intrusted to his charge; and under such circumstances, had he the
wealth of either India and the power of Cæsar, he should never wed
Marie de Clairvaut." He laid his hand upon the shoulder of Charles of
Montsoreau, and he said, "You have heard my words, good friend; those
words are irrevocable: and now knowing that your brother can never be
really your rival, act as you will. I would fain have your confidence,
Charles, but I will not wring it from you. This girl is beautiful and
sweet and fascinating; and if I judge right, you love her not less but
more nobly than your brother. Tell me, or tell me not as you will, but
we all feel pleased with confidence."

"Oh, my Lord," replied Charles of Montsoreau, "how can I deny you my
confidence when you load me with such proofs of your goodness? I do
love Mademoiselle de Clairvaut as deeply, as intensely, as
passionately, as my brother,--more, more a thousand fold than he or
any body else, I believe, is capable of loving. I had some
opportunities of rendering her services, and on one of those occasions
I was betrayed into words and actions which I fancied must have made
her acquainted with all my feelings. It was after that I discovered,
my Lord, how madly my brother loved her: it was after that I
discovered that the pursuit of my love must bring contention and
destruction on my father's house. Had I believed that she loved me,
nothing should have made me yield her to any one; for I had the prior
claim, I had the prior right: but when I had reason to believe that
she had not marked, and did not comprehend all the signs of my
affection; when I felt that I could quit her without the appearance of
trifling with her regard, though not without the continued misery of
my own life, my determination was taken in a moment, and I determined
to make the sacrifice, be the consequences what they might. Such, my
Lord, is the simple truth; such is the only secret of all my actions."

The Duke of Guise bent down his eyes upon the ground with a smile, in
the expression of which there was a degree of cynical bitterness. It
was somewhat like one of the smiles of the Abbé de Boisguerin; but the
Duke's words explained it at once, which the Abbé's never did.

"I fear, my young friend," he said, "that the science of women's
hearts is a more difficult one than the science of war. You have
learnt the one, it would seem, by intuition; in the other you are yet
a novice. However, you shall pursue your own course, bearing with you
the remembrance that I swear by my own honour--"

"Oh swear not, my Lord," replied Charles of Montsoreau; "circumstances
may change; she may love him; her love may alter him, and lead him
back to noble things."

The Duke smiled again. "What I have said," he answered, "is as good as
sworn. But have it your own way; I thank you for the confidence you
have reposed in me. And now, to show you how I can return it, I have a
task to put upon you, an adventure on which to send forth my new made
knight. I do not think that Henry either will or dare refuse to give
up to me my own relation and ward. The king and I are great friends,
God wot! But still I must demand her, and somebody must take a journey
to Paris for that purpose. To the capital, doubtless, they have
conveyed her; and I trust, my good Logères, that you will not think it
below your dignity and merit to seek and bring back a daughter of the
House of Guise."

Charles of Montsoreau paused thoughtfully for a moment, ere he
replied. All the difficulties and dangers to which he might be
exposed, in acting against the views of the King of France, were to
him as nothing; but the difficulties and dangers which might arise
from his opposition to his own brother, were painful and fearful to
him to contemplate. He saw not, however, how he could refuse the task;
and it cannot be denied that love for Marie de Clairvaut had its share
also in making him accept it. He doubted not for a moment, that if she
were in the hands of the King, she was there against her own will; and
could he, he asked himself, could he even hesitate to aid in
delivering her from a situation of difficulty, danger, and distress?
The thought of aiding her, the thought of seeing her again, the
thought of hearing the sweet tones of that beloved voice, the thought
of once more soothing and supporting her, all had their share; the
very contemplation made his heart beat; and lifting his eyes, he found
those of the Duke of Guise fixed upon his countenance, reading all the
passing emotions, the shadows of which were brought across him by
those thoughts. The colour mounted slightly into his cheek as he
replied, "My Lord, I will do your bidding to the best of my ability.
When shall I march?"

"Oh, you mistake," said the Duke, laughing; "you are not to go at the
head of your men, armed _cap-à-pie_, to deliver the damsel from the
giant's castle; but in the quality of my envoy to Henry; first of all
demanding, quietly and gently, where the Lady is, and then requiring
him to deliver her into your hands, for the purpose of escorting her
to me, where-ever I may be. You shall have full powers for the latter
purpose; but you must keep them concealed till such time as you have
discovered, either from the King's own lips--though no sincerity
dwells upon them--or by your own private inquiries and investigations,
where this poor girl is. Then you may produce to the King your powers
from me, and to herself I will give you a letter, requesting her to
follow your directions in all things. Now, you must show yourself as
great a diplomatist as a soldier, for I can assure you that you will
have to deal with as artful and as wily a man as any now living in
Europe."

"I will do my best, my Lord; and to enable me to deal with them before
all their plans are prepared, I had better set out at break of day
to-morrow, with as many men as your Highness thinks fit should
accompany me."

The Duke mused for a moment or two; "No," he said, "no; I must not let
you go, Logères, without providing for your safety. You have risked
your life sufficiently for me and mine already. You go into new
scenes, with which you are unacquainted; into dangers, with which you
may find it more difficult to cope than any that you have hitherto met
with. I cannot then suffer you to depart without such passports and
safeguards as may diminish those dangers as far as possible."

"Oh, I fear not, my Lord," replied Charles of Montsoreau, "the King
and your Highness are not at war. I have done nothing to offend,
and--"

"It cannot be, it cannot be," replied the Duke. "You must go back with
me to Soissons. I will send a messenger from this place to demand the
necessary passports for you. No great time will be lost, for a common
courier can pass where you or I would be stopped. Then," he continued,
"as to the men that you should take with you, I should say, the fewer
the better. Mark me," he continued, with a smile, "there are secret
springs in all things; and I will give you letters to people in Paris,
which will put at your disposal five hundred men on the notice of half
an hour. Ay, more, should you require them. But use not these letters
except in the last necessity, for they might hurry on events which I
would rather see advance slowly till they were forced upon me, than do
aught to bring them forward myself. No; you shall go back with me to
Soissons, guarding me with your band; and I doubt not, our messenger
from Paris will not be many hours after us. Now leave me, and to rest,
good Logères, and send in the servant, whom you will find half way
down the stairs."

The young Count withdrew without another word, and he found that while
the conversation between himself and the Duke had been going on, a man
had been stationed, both above and below the door of the apartment, as
if to insure that nobody approached to listen. Such were the sad
precautions necessary in those days.

Early on the following morning the whole party mounted their horses,
the wounded men of Logères were left under the care and attendance of
the good townsmen of Montigny, and the young Count riding with the
party of the Duke of Guise, proceeded on the road to Soissons. No
adventure occurred to disturb their progress; and, as so constantly
happens in the midst of scenes of danger, pain, and difficulty, almost
every one of the whole party endeavoured to compensate for the
frequent endurance of peril and pain by filling up the intervals with
light laughter and unthinking gaiety. The Duke of Guise himself was
not the least cheerful of the party, though occasionally the cloud of
thought would settle again upon his brow, and a pause of deep
meditation would interrupt the jest or the sally. It was late at night
when they arrived at Soissons, and the Duke, after supping with the
Cardinal de Bourbon, retired to rest, without conversing with any of
his party. It was about eight o'clock on the following morning, and
while, by the dull grey light of a cloudy spring day, Charles of
Montsoreau was dressing himself, with the aid of one of his servants,
that the door opened without any previous announcement, and the Duke
of Guise, clad in a dressing-gown of crimson velvet trimmed with
miniver, entered the room, bearing in his hand a packet of sealed
letters, and one open one. A page followed him with something wrapped
up in a skin of leather, which he placed upon one of the stools, and
instantly retired.

"Send away your man, Count," said the Duke, seating himself; "resume
your dressing-gown, and kindly give me your full attention for
half an hour. You will be so good," he continued, turning to the man
who was quitting the chamber, "as to take your stand on the first
landing-place below this door. You will tell any body whom you see
coming up to pass by the other staircase; any one you may see coming
down, you will direct to pass by this door quickly."

There was a stern command in the eye of the Duke of Guise which had a
strong effect upon those it rested on; and the man to whom he now
spoke made his exit from the room, stumbling over twenty things in his
haste to obey. As soon as he was gone, the Duke turned to his young
friend, and continued, "Here is the King's safeguard under his own
hand, and the necessary passports for yourself and two attendants.
Here is your letter of credit to him in my name, requiring him to give
you every sort of information which he may be possessed of regarding
the subjects which you will mention to him; and here is a third
letter giving you full power to demand at his hands the person of
Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, for the purpose of escorting her and
placing her under my protection. This, again, is to Mary herself,
bidding her follow your counsels and direction in every thing; and
these others are to certain citizens of Paris, whose names you will
find written thereon. If you will take my advice, you will again take
with you the boy Ignati, and one stout man-at-arms, unarmed, however,
except in such a manner as the dangers of the road require. You
understand, I think, clearly, all that I wish."

"I believe, my Lord, I do," replied the Count. "But how am I to insure
safety for Mademoiselle de Clairvaut on the road, without an adequate
force?"

"Write to me but one word," replied the Duke of Guise, "as soon as she
is delivered into your hands, and I will send you with all speed
whatever forces I can spare. But I have one or two things to
communicate to you, which it is necessary for you to know, both for
your own security and the success of your mission. The principal part
of my niece's lands lie in the neighbourhood of Chateauneuf, between
Dreux and Mortagne in Normandy. It is not at all unlikely, that, if
driven to remove her from your sight, Henry may be tempted to send her
thither, well knowing that it is what I have always opposed, and that
I preferred rather that she should dwell even in Languedoc than be in
that neighbourhood. For this I had a reason; and that reason is the
near relationship in which her father stood to the most daring and the
most dangerous man in France. One of the first of those whom you will
see near the person of the King, the man who governs and rules him to
his own infamy and destruction, in whose hands the minions are but
tools and Henry an instrument, who, more than any one else, has tended
to change a gracious prince, a skilful general, and a brave man, into
an effeminate and vicious king, is René de Villequier, Baron of
Clairvaut. He was first cousin to Marie de Clairvaut's father, and he
is consequently her nearest male relation out of the family of Guise.
He has, indeed, sometimes hinted at a right to share in the
guardianship of his cousin's daughter. But such things a Guise permits
not. However, with this claim upon the disposal of her hand, Henry
may, perhaps, hesitate to yield her, unless with the consent of
Villequier. With him, then, you may be called upon to deal; but
Villequier, I think, knows the hand of a Guise too well to call down a
blow from it unnecessarily. However, he is as daring as he is artful,
and impunity in crime has rendered him perfectly careless of
committing it. He is Governor of Paris, one of the King's ministers, a
Knight of the Holy Ghost. Now hear what he has done to merit all this.
More than one assassin broken on the wheel has avowed himself the
instrument of Villequier, sent to administer poison to those he did
not love. Complaisant in every thing to his King, he sought to
sacrifice to him the honour of his wife: but she differed from him in
her tastes; and, on the eighteenth of last September, in broad
daylight, in the midst of an effeminate court, he murdered her with
his own hand at her dressing-table. Nor was this all: there was a
girl--a young sweet girl--the natural daughter of a noble house, who
was holding before the unhappy lady a mirror to arrange her dress when
the fatal blow was struck. The fiend's taste for blood was roused. One
victim was not enough, and he murdered the wretched girl by the side
of her dead mistress. This was done in open day, was never disowned,
was known to every one, and was rewarded by the order of the Holy
Ghost--an insult to God, to France, and to humanity.[1] However, as
with this man you may have to deal, I have to give you two cautions.
Never drink wine with him, or eat food at his table; never go into his
presence without wearing under your other dress the bosom friend which
I have brought you there;" and he took from the leathern skin in which
it was wrapped, a shirt of mail, made of rings linked together, so
fine that it seemed the lightest stroke would have broken it, and yet
so strong, that the best tempered poinard, driven by the most powerful
hand, could not have pierced it. "Have also in your bosom," continued
the Duke of Guise, "a small pistol; and if the villain attempts to lay
his hand upon you, kill him like a dog. This is the only way to deal
with René de Villequier."


---------------------

[Footnote 1: All these charges were but too true.]

---------------------


The young Count smiled: "And is it needful my Lord Duke," he asked,
"to take all these precautions in the courtly world of Paris?--Do you
yourself take them, my Lord?--I fear not sufficiently."

"Oh! with regard to myself," replied the Duke, it is different. "I am
so marked out and noted, they dare not do any thing against me. They
would raise up a thousand vengeful hands against them in a moment, and
they know that, too well to run such a risk. Neither Henry nor
Villequier would hold their lives by an hour's tenure after Guise was
dead. But you must take these precautions, my young friend. And now I
have nothing more to say, except that, whatever you do to withdraw
Marie de Clairvaut from the hands into which she has fallen, I will
justify. If any ill befall you, I will avenge you as my brother; and
if you deliver her from those whom she hates and abhors, she shall,
give you any testimony of her gratitude that she pleases, without a
man in France saying you nay."

"Oh, my Lord, it is not for that I go!" exclaimed Charles of
Montsoreau, with the blood rushing up again into his cheek. "It is
not; surely you believe--"

"Hush! hush!" replied the Duke. "I have fallen into the foolish error
of saying too much, my good young friend. But now, fare you well. Make
your arrangements as speedily as you can; mount your horse, and onward
to Paris, while I apply myself to matters which may well occupy every
minute and every thought."



                              CHAP. III.


It was about nine o'clock at night, in the spring of the year 1588,
that Charles of Montsoreau, with two companions, his faithful Gondrin
and the little page, presented himself at the gate of Paris which
opened upon the Soissons road. A surly arquebusier with a steel cap on
his head, his gun upon his shoulder, and the rest thereof in his hand,
was the first person that he encountered at the bridge over the fosse.
Some other soldiers were sitting before the guardhouse; and the
wicket-gate of the city itself was open, with an armed head protruded
through, talking to a country girl with a basket on her arm, who had
just passed out of the gate, none the better probably for her visit to
the city.

The arquebusier planted himself immediately in the way of the young
cavalier and his followers, and seemed prepared to stop them, though
on the young Count applying to him for admission, he replied in a
surly tone, "I have nothing to do with it. Ask the lieutenant at the
gate."

To him, in the next place, then, Charles of Montsoreau applied; but
though his tone was somewhat more civil than that of the soldier, he
made a great many difficulties, examining the young nobleman all over,
and looking as if he thought him a very suspicious personage. The
Count after a certain time grew impatient, and asked, "You do not
mean, I suppose, to refuse the passport of the King?"

"No," replied the other grinning. "We won't refuse the passport of the
King, or the King's passport; but in order that the passport may be
verified, it were as well, young gentleman, that you come to the gates
by day. You can sleep in the faubourg for one night I take it."

"Certainly not without great inconvenience to myself," replied the
Count, "and more inconvenience to the affairs of the Duke of Guise."

"The Duke of Guise!" said the man starting. "Your tongue has not the
twang of Lorraine."

"But nevertheless," replied the Count, "the business I come upon is
that of the Duke of Guise, which you would have seen if you had read
the passport and safe-conduct. Does it not direct therein, to give
room and free passage, safeguard, and protection to one gentleman of
noble birth and two attendants, coming and going hither and thither in
all parts of the realm of France, on the especial business of our true
and well-beloved cousin, Henry, Duke of Guise? and is there not
written in the Duke's own hand underneath, 'Given to our faithful
friend and counsellor, Charles of Montsoreau, Count of Logères, for
the purposes above written, by me, Henry of Guise?'"

The man held the paper for a moment to a lantern that hung up against
the heavy stonework of the arch, and then exclaimed in a loud voice,
"Throw open the gates there, bring the keys. Monseigneur, I beg you a
thousand pardons for detaining you a minute. If I had but seen the
writing of the Duke of Guise the doors would have been opened
instantly."

As rapidly as possible the heavy gates, which had remained immoveable
at the order of the King, swang back at the name of the Guise, and one
of the attendants and the captain of the night running by the side of
the Count's horse to prevent all obstruction, caused the second gate
to be opened as rapidly, and the Count entered the capital city of his
native country for the first time in his life.

The streets were dark and gloomy, narrow and high; and as one rode
along them looking up from time to time towards the sky, the small
golden stars were seen twinkling above the deep walls of the houses,
as if beheld from the bottom of a well. Charles of Montsoreau had not
chosen to ask his way at the gate, and though utterly unacquainted
with the great city in which he now plunged, he rode on, trusting to
find some shop still open where he might inquire his way without the
chance of being deceived. Every booth and shop was then shut, however;
and for a very long way up the street which he had first entered, he
met with not a single living creature to whom he could apply for
direction. At length, however, that street ended abruptly in another
turning to the left, and a sudden glare of light burst upon his eyes,
proceeding from a building about a hundred yards farther on, which
seemed to be on fire.

There was no bustle, however, or indication of any thing unusual in
the street; and Charles of Montsoreau riding on, found that the blaze
proceeded from a dozen or more of flambeaus planted in a sort of
wooden barricade[2] before a large mansion, which fell back some yards
from the general façade of the street, while a fat porter clothed in
manifold colours, with a broad shoulder-belt and a sword by his side,
walked to and fro in the light, trimming the torches with stately
dignity. The young Count then remembered having heard of the custom of
thus illuminating the barriers, which were before all the principal
mansions in Paris during the first part of every night; and riding up
towards the porter, he demanded whose hotel it was, and begged to be
directed to one of the best inns in the neighbourhood.


---------------------

[Footnote 2: One or two of these houses with barriers were still
existing in Paris not many years ago.]

---------------------


The man gazed at him for a moment with the evident purpose of looking
upon him as a bumpkin; but the porters of that day were required to be
extremely discriminating, and the air and appearance of the young
Count were not to be mistaken, and bowing low he replied, "I see you
are a stranger, sir. This is the house of Monsieur d'Aumont. As to the
best inn, inns are always but poor places; but I have heard a good
account of the White House in the next street, at the sign of the
Crown of France. If you go on quite to the end of this street and then
turn to your right, you will come into another street as large and
longer, at the very end of which, just looking down to the Pont Neuf,
you will see a large white house with a gateway and the crown hanging
over it. I have heard that every thing is good there, and the host
civil; but he will make you pay for what you have."

"That is but just," replied the young Count; and giving the porter
thanks for his information, he rode on and took up his abode at the
sign of the Crown of France.

The aspect of the inn was very different from that of an auberge in
the country; for, though the court-yard into which Charles of
Montsoreau rode was littered with straw, and a large and splendid
stable appeared behind, it was not now grooms and stable-boys that
appeared on the first notice of a traveller's approach, but cooks and
scullions and turnspits; while the master himself with a snow-white
cap upon his head, a jacket of white cloth, and a white apron turned
up sufficiently to show his black breeches and stockings with red
clocks, appeared more like what he really was, the head of the
kitchen, than the master of the house.

He looked a little suspiciously, at first, at the young stranger
arriving with only two attendants, and with no other baggage than a
small valise upon each horse, and an additional upon that of Ignati,
to render the boy's weight equal to that of his fellow travellers. But
the host was accustomed to deal with many kinds of men; and like the
porter, after examining the Count for a moment, seeing some gold
embroidery, but not much, upon his riding-dress, gilded spurs over his
large boots of untanned leather, and a sword, the hilt and sheath of
which were of no slight value, he also made a lowly reverence, and
conducted him to one of the best apartments in his house. It consisted
of three rooms, each entering into the other with a small cabinet
beyond the chief bed-room; and the arrangements which the Count made
at once--placing Gondrin's bed in the antechamber, and having the
page's truckle-bed removed from his own bed-side to occupy the cabinet
beyond--gave the host of the Crown of France a still greater idea of
his importance.

Charles of Montsoreau did not fail to examine the face of the
aubergiste, and to remark his proceedings with as much accuracy. The
man's countenance was intelligent, his eyes quick and piercing, but
withal there was an air of straightforward frankness, tempered by
civility and habitual politeness, which was prepossessing; and as the
young Count knew that he might have occasion to make use of him in
various ways during his stay in Paris, he resolved to try him with
those things which were the most immediately necessary, and which at
the same time were of the least importance.

"Stop a minute, my good host," he said, as the man was about to
withdraw to order fires to be lighted and suppers to be cooked. "There
are some things which press for attention, and in which I must have
your assistance."

"This youngster speaks with a tone of authority," thought the
aubergiste; but he bowed low and said nothing, whilst the young Count
went on, "What is your name, my good friend?" demanded Charles of
Montsoreau.

"I am called Gamin la Chaise," replied the aubergiste with a smile.

"Well then, Master la Chaise, as you see," he continued, "I have come
hither to Paris on some business which required a certain degree of
despatch, and have ventured with few attendants and little baggage. As
however the business on which I did come will call me into scenes
where some greater degree of splendour is necessary than perhaps
either suits my taste or my general convenience, I must before I go
forth to-morrow morning, have my train increased by at least six
attendants, who are always to be found in Paris ready fashioned I
know; and therefore I must beseech you to find them for me in proper
time, having them equipped in my proper colours and livery, according
as the same shall be described to you by my good friend Gondrin here.
This is the first service you must do me, my good host."

"Sir," replied the landlord, "the six lackeys shall be found and
equipped in less time than would roast a woodcock. They are as plenty
as sparrows or house-rats, and are caught in a moment."

"Yes, but my good host," answered the Count, "there is one great
difficulty which you will understand in a moment. Amongst the six, I
want you to find me one honest man if it be possible."

The landlord raised his shoulders above his ears, stuck out his two
hands horizontally from his sides, and assumed an appearance of
despair at the unheard of proposition of the Count, which had nearly
brought a smile into the young nobleman's countenance. "That indeed,
sir," he said, "is another affair; and I believe you might just as
well ask me to catch you a wild roe in the garden of the Louvre, as to
find you the thing that you demand. Nevertheless, labour and
perseverance conquer all difficulties: and now I think of it, there is
a youth who may answer your purpose; he knows Paris well too; but,
strange to say, by some unaccountable fit of obstinacy, he would not
tell a lie the other day to the Duke of Epernon in order to pass an
item of the intendant's accounts, which would have come in for a good
round sum every month if he would but have sworn that he used five
quarts of milk every week to whiten the leather of his master's boots.
He would not swear to this, and therefore the intendant discharged
him, as he was a hired servant."

"Let me have him; let me have him," cried the Count. "I will only ask
him to tell the truth, and hope he may not find that so difficult."

The Count then proceeded to speak about horses, and the host readily
undertook, finding that money was abundant, to procure all the
horse-dealers in Paris with their best steeds, before nine o'clock on
the following day. The demeanour of the young nobleman, it must be
confessed, puzzled the good aubergiste a good deal; and on going down
to his own abode, he acknowledged to his wife, what he seldom
acknowledged to any one, that he could not make his guest out at all.

"I should think," he said, "from the plenty of money, and the
expensive way in which he seems inclined to deal, that he was some
wild stripling from the provinces, the son of a rich president or
advocate lately dead, who came hither to call himself Count, and spend
his patrimony in haste. But then, again, in some things he is as
shrewd as an old hawk, and can jest withal about rogues and honest
men, while he keeps his own secrets close, and lets no one ask him a
question."

On the following morning, at an early hour, the six attendants whom he
had required were brought before him in array, exhibiting, with one
exception, as sweet a congregation of roguish faces as the great
capital of roguery ever yet produced. The countenance of the lad who
had been discharged from the service of the Duke of Epernon pleased
the young Count much, and without waiting till he was farther
equipped, he put Gondrin under his charge for the purpose of notifying
at the palace of the Louvre that he had arrived in the capital,
bearing a letter from the Duke of Guise to the King, and of begging to
have an hour named for its delivery. He found, however, with some
mortification--for his eager spirit and his anxiety brooked no
delay--that the King was at Vincennes; and his only consolation was
that the communication which he had sent to the palace, bearing the
fearful name of the Duke of Guise, was certain to be communicated to
the monarch as soon as possible. Some short time was expended in the
purchase of horses, and in making various additions to his own
apparel, well knowing the ostentatious splendour of the court he was
about to visit.

We have indeed remarked that there was perhaps a touch of foppery in
his own nature, though it was but slight. Nevertheless, splendour of
appearance certainly pleased him, even while a natural good taste led
him to admire, and to seek in his own dress, all that was graceful and
harmonising, rather than that which was rich or brilliant.

He was thus engaged, with several tradesmen around him, ordering the
materials for various suits of apparel, which a tailor standing by
engaged to produce in a miraculously short time, when the door of his
apartment was opened, and a somewhat fat pursy man in black was
admitted, entering with an air of importance, and receiving the lowly
salutations of the good citizens who were present. Charles of
Montsoreau gazed at him as a stranger; but the good man, with an air
of importance, and an affectation of courtly breeding, besought him to
finish what he was about, adding, that he had a word for his private
ear which he would communicate afterwards. The young Count, without
further ceremony, continued to give his orders, examining his new
visiter from time to time, and with no very great feelings of
satisfaction.

The countenance was fat, reddish, and, upon the whole, stupid, with an
air of indecision about it which was very strongly marked, though
there was every now and then a certain drawing in of the fringeless
eyelids round the small black eyes, which gave the expression of
intense cunning to features otherwise dull and flat.

When he had completely done with his mercers, and tailors, and
cloth-makers--who had occupied him some time, for he did not hurry
himself--Charles of Montsoreau dismissed them; and turning to his
visiter said, "Now, sir, may I have the happiness of knowing your
business with me?"

"Sir," replied the other, rising and speaking in a low and
confidential tone, "my name is Nicolas Poulain. I am Lieutenant of the
Prévôt de l'Isle."

He stopped short at this announcement; and the Count, after waiting a
moment for something more, replied somewhat angrily, "Well, sir, I am
very happy to hear it. I hope the office suits Nicolas Poulain, and
Nicolas Poulain suits the office."

A slight redness came into the man's face, rendering it a shade deeper
than it ordinarily was; but finding it necessary to reply, as the
Count, without sitting down, remained looking him stedfastly in the
face, he answered, "I thought, sir,--indeed I took it for granted,
sir, that you might have some communication for me from the Duke of
Guise."

"None whatever, sir," replied the young Count drily. "Have you any
thing to tell me, Monsieur Nicolas Poulain, on the part of his
Highness?"

"No, sir, no," replied the other, attempting to assume an air of
spirit which did not become him. "If you have not seen him more lately
than I have, I am misinformed."

"And pray, my good sir," demanded the Count, "who was it that took the
trouble of informing you of any thing regarding me?"

"That question is soon answered, sir," replied Nicolas Poulain,
"though you seem to make so much difficulty in regard to answering
mine. The person who informed me of your arrival was good Master
Chapelle Marteau, who saw you last night at the gates when you
entered."

The name immediately struck the young Count as the same with one of
those written on the letters which the Duke of Guise had given him to
be used in case of need; but feeling how necessary it was to deal
carefully with any of the faction of the Sixteen, to which both
Chapelle Marteau and Nicolas Poulain belonged, he determined to say
not one word upon the subject of his mission to any one. Much less,
indeed, was he inclined to do so in the case of Nicolas Poulain, in
whose face nature had stamped deceit and roguery in such legible
characters, that the young Count, had he been forced to trust him with
any secret, would have felt sure that the whole would be betrayed
within an hour. All, then, that he replied to Master Nicolas Poulain
was, that though he knew well the personage he mentioned by name, he
had not the pleasure of his personal acquaintance.

The answers were so short, the tone and manner so dry, that the worthy
citizen found it expedient to make his retreat; and taking a short and
unceremonious leave of one who had given him so cool a reception, he
left the Count's apartments, and descended the stairs. The moment he
was gone, some suspicion, which crossed the young cavalier's mind
suddenly, made him call the page, and bid him follow his late visiter
till he marked the house which Master Nicolas entered, taking care to
remember the way back.

The boy set off without a word, and returned in less than half an
hour, informing the young Count that he had tracked Master Nicolas
Poulain into a large house, which, on inquiry, he found to be the
private dwelling of the Lord of Villequier.

"The Duke is betrayed by some of these leaguers,--that is clear
enough!" thought the young Count. "I have heard that many of his best
enterprises have been frustrated by some unknown means. Who is there
on earth that one can trust?" And leaning his head upon his hand he
fell into deep thought, for to him the question of whom he could trust
was at that moment one, not only entirely new, but one of deep and
vital importance also. In his journey to Paris he had two great and
all-important objects before him. To find out his brother, and, if
possible, to persuade him to change a course of conduct which he felt
to be dishonourable to himself and to his house, was one of these
objects; and he doubted not that--if he could fully explain, and make
the Marquis comprehend, his own conduct and his purposes--if he could
show him that his only chance of obtaining the hand of Marie de
Clairvaut was by attaching himself to the House of Guise, and that he
had not a brother's rivalry to fear--Gaspar de Montsoreau might be
induced to return to the party he had quitted, and not finally to
commit himself to conduct so little to his own interest as that which
he was pursuing.

The other object, however, was much more important even than that, to
the heart of Charles of Montsoreau; and the feelings which were
connected with it--as so often happens with the feelings which affect
every one in human life--were sadly at variance with other purposes.
That object was to discover and guide to the court of the Duke of
Guise, her whom he himself loved best on all the earth; to free her
from the hands of the base and dangerous people into whose power she
had fallen, and to leave her in security, if not in happiness.

When he thought of seeing her again,--when he thought of passing days
with her on the journey, of being her guide, her protector, her
companion, the overpowering longing and thirst for such a joyful time
shook and agitated him, made his heart thrill and his brain reel; and,
bending down his face upon his hands, he gave himself up for a long
time to whirling dreams of happiness. But then again he asked himself
if, after such hours, he could ever quit her; if--following the firm
purpose with which he had left Montsoreau--he could resist all
temptation to seek her love further, and after plunging into the
contentions of the day could dedicate his sword and his life, as he
had intended, to warfare against the infidels in the order of St.
John? There was a great struggle in his mind when he asked himself the
question--a great and terrible struggle; but at length he answered it
in the affirmative. "Yes," he said; "yes, I can do so!" But there was
a condition attached to that decision. "I can do so," he said, "if I
find that there is a chance of her wedding him; if I find that, in
reality and truth, the first bright hopes I entertained were indeed
fallacious."

To say the truth, doubts had come over his mind as to whether he had
construed Marie de Clairvaut's conduct rightly. Those doubts had been
instilled into his imagination by the words of the Duke of Guise.
Fancy lingered round them: shall we say that Hope, too, played
with them? If she did so, it was against his will; for he was in
that sad and painful situation where hope, reproved by the highest
feelings of the heart, dare scarcely point to the objects of desire.
Terrible--terrible is that situation where Virtue, or Honour, or
Generosity bind down imagination, silence even hope, and shut against
us the gates of that paradise we see, but must not enter. These,
indeed, are the angels with the flaming swords.

Charles of Montsoreau would not suffer himself to hope any thing that
might make his brother's misery; but yet fancy would conjure up bright
dreams; and knowing and feeling that if those dreams were realised, a
complete change must come over his actions and his conduct, he saw
that it would be needful to use guarded language to his brother,--or
rather to use only the guard of perfect frankness. He resolved, then,
to tell him fully his purposes, but to tell him at the same time the
conditions under which those circumstances were to be executed.

As he pondered, however, and thought over the changed demeanour of his
brother, over the fiery impetuosity and impatience of his whole temper
and conduct, he remembered that it might be with difficulty that he
could obtain a hearing for a sufficient length of time to explain
himself fully, and he consequently determined to write clearly and
explicitly, so that there might be no error or mistake whatever, and
that his conduct might remain clear and undoubted; and sitting down at
once, he did as he proposed, that he might have the letter ready to
send or to deliver as soon as he discovered where his brother was.

The epistle was short, but it was distinct. He referred boldly and
directly to his conversation with the Abbé de Boisguerin; he explained
his conduct since; and he told his decided and unchangeable purpose of
seeking in no way the hand of Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, unless he had
reason to believe that the deep attachment which he felt and
acknowledged towards her were already returned. He ended by exhorting
his brother to do that which his pledges and professions to the Duke
of Guise had bound him to do, to guide back Mademoiselle de Clairvaut
himself to the protection of her uncle, and to avert the necessity of
his seeking her and conducting her to Soissons.

In thus letting his thoughts flow on in collateral channels from
subject to subject, he had deviated from the original object of his
contemplations, which was, the method to be pursued for instituting
private inquiries throughout the city, in regard to the arrival, both
of his brother and Mademoiselle de Clairvaut. Unacquainted with any
persons in Paris, he knew not how to set on foot the inquiry; and his
mind had just reverted to the subject, which appeared more and more
embarrassing each time he thought of it, when he was informed, with an
air of great importance, by the host, that Monsieur Chapelle Marteau
demanded humbly to have the honour of paying him his respects.

The Count ordered him instantly to be ushered in; and, during the
brief moment that intervened before he appeared, considered hastily,
whether he should employ this personage in any way in making the
inquiries that were necessary. He knew that he was highly esteemed by
the Duke of Guise; but yet it was evident that, by some of the members
of, or the followers of, the League in Paris, the Duke was himself
entirely deceived; and yet Charles of Montsoreau was more inclined to
trust this man's sincerity than that of the person who had left him
some short time before, inasmuch as the Duke had addressed one of the
private letters we have before mentioned to him, while he had never
named the other. The countenance and appearance of Chapelle Marteau
confirmed any prepossession in his favour. It was quick, and
intelligent, and frank, though somewhat stern; and he had moreover the
air and bearing of a man in the higher ranks of life, although he held
but an office which was then considered inferior, that of one of the
Masters in the Chamber of Accounts.

"I come, sir," he said, as soon as the first civilities were over, "to
ask your pardon for some quickness on my part in refusing you
admittance at the gates last night. The fact is, that bad-intentioned
people have been endeavouring to introduce into the city of Paris,
under the King's name, a multitude of soldiery, in twos and threes,
for the purpose of overawing us in the pursuit of our rights and
liberties."

"Say no more, say no more, Monsieur Chapelle," said the Count; "I
doubt not you had very good reasons for what you did."

He then paused, leaving his companion to pursue the subject as he
might think fit; and the leaguer seemed somewhat embarrassed as to how
he should proceed, though his embarrassment showed itself in a
different manner from that of Master Nicolas Poulain. At length he
said, "I entertained some hope, sir, that you might bring me a
communication from the Duke of Guise, as, when I had the honour of
seeing him at Gonesse three days ago, he gave me the hope that he
would write to me ere long."

"No, Monsieur Chapelle," replied the Count deliberately; "I have no
message for you. His Highness directed me indeed to apply to you in
case of need; and I know that he has the highest esteem for you,
believing you to be a zealous defender of our holy faith, and a man
well worthy of every consideration;--but I have no present message to
you from the Duke; and the case in which it may be necessary to apply
to you for assistance, according to his Highness's direction, has not
yet arrived."

"Most delighted shall I be, my Lord[3] Count," replied the leaguer,
"to afford you any aid or assistance or council in my power, both on
account of his Highness the Duke of Guise and on your own. Might I ask
what is the case foreseen, in which you are to apply to me?"


---------------------

[Footnote 3: The word Monseigneur, my Lord, which in the days of Louis
XIV. had become restricted to a very few high dignitaries, or only
given to other noblemen by their own servants and tenantry, was in the
reign of Henry III. commonly used to all high noblemen, and we find
constantly titles addressed _A mon tres illustre et tres honoré
Seigneur le Marquis_; or, _A l'illustre Seigneur, Monseigneur le Comte
de_ ----.]

---------------------


The Count smiled. "In case, Monsieur Chapelle," he said, "that I do
not succeed in objects which the Duke has entrusted to me by other
means, you shall know. At present, however, I have had no opportunity
of ascertaining what may be necessary to be done, finding that the
King is at Vincennes. In the mean time I am employing myself about
some personal business of my own, which I am afraid is likely to give
me trouble."

He spoke quite calmly; but a look of intelligence came immediately
over the countenance of Chapelle Marteau, and he said, "Perhaps I
might be enabled to assist your Lordship. My knowledge of Paris, and
all that is transacted therein, is very extensive."

"You are very kind," replied the Count, "and I take advantage of your
offer with the greatest pleasure. The matter is a very simple one. My
elder brother, the Marquis de Montsoreau, set out some time ago to
join the Duke of Guise, having under his charge and escort a young
lady, named Mademoiselle de Clairvaut."

"Daughter of the Duke of Guise's niece," said Chapelle Marteau with
some emphasis.

"I believe that is the relationship," answered the young nobleman.
"But, however, the facts are these: I have reason to believe that my
brother was interrupted in his journey by the attack of a party of
reiters, and was obliged in consequence to put himself and
Mademoiselle de Clairvaut under the protection of a body of the King's
troops coming to Paris. Now, my wish is, to ascertain whether he or
any of his party, either separately or together, are now in Paris, and
where they are to be found."

The leaguer gazed in his face for a minute or two with an inquiring
look, and then replied, "I can tell you at once, my Lord, that no
considerable party whatever has entered the gates of Paris under the
protection of the King's troops for the last ten days, no party of
even ten in number having the ensigns of Valois having appeared during
that time. But the party you mention may have come in by themselves
without the King's troops; and I rather suspect that they have so
done. However, I will let you know the exact particulars within four
and twenty hours from this moment, and every other information that I
can by any means glean regarding the persons you speak of; for I very
well understand, my Lord, that there may be more intelligence required
about them than you choose to ask for at once."

The young Count smiled again, but merely replied, "Any information
that you can obtain for me, Monsieur Chapelle, will be received by me
most gratefully; and in the mean time will you do me the honour of
partaking my poor dinner which is about to be served?"

The leaguer, however, declined the high honour, alleging important
business as his excuse; and, after having dined, the young Count rode
out through the streets of Paris, endeavouring to make himself
somewhat familiar with them, and feeling all those sensations which
the sight of that great capital might well produce on one who had
never beheld it before. On those sensations, however, we must not
pause, as matters of more importance are before us. A couple of hours
after nightfall he received a note to the following effect:--

"The Marquis de Montsoreau, with a body of horsemen, bearing no
badge or ensign, entered Paris yesterday at about four o'clock, and
lodged at the Fleur-de-lis. He is not there now, however, and is
supposed to have quitted Paris. Mademoiselle de Clairvaut is not known
to have entered the capital; but a carriage, containing ladies and
waiting-women, was escorted to Vincennes this morning by a body of
troops of Valois. The name of one of the ladies was ascertained to be
the Marquise de Saulny."

Charles of Montsoreau received these tidings with a beating heart, and
sleep did not visit his eyelids till the clock of a neighbouring
church had struck five in the morning.



                              CHAP. IV.


Dark heavy clouds hung over the world, and totally obscured the face
of the sky; the morning was chill, the air keen, and the eye of the
peasant was often turned up towards the leaden-looking masses of
vapour above his head, as if to inquire whether their stores would be
poured forth in lightning or in snow; and as Charles of Montsoreau
rode on through the park to the Donjon of Vincennes, he felt the
gloomy aspect of the whole scene more than he might have done at any
other time.

There, before his eyes, with the whole face of nature harmonising well
with its dark and frowning aspect, rose the grey gigantic keep, which
the vanquished opponent of Edward III., the rash and half-insane
founder of the race of Valois, erected at an early period of his
melancholy reign. Story above story, the large quadrangular mass, with
its flanking towers, rose up till it seemed to touch the gloomy sky
above; but in those days it had at least the beauty of harmony, for no
one had added to the harsh and solemn features of the feudal
architecture the gewgaw ornaments of a later age. The gallery of Marie
de Medici was not built, and nothing was seen but the antique form of
the Donjon itself, with the mass of walls surrounding its base with
their flanking turrets, a pinnacle or two rising above--as if from
some low Gothic building within the walls--and the still dark fosse
surrounding the whole.

We form but a faint idea to ourselves--a very very faint idea of the
manners and customs of feudal times; but still less, perhaps, can we
form any just idea of the every-day enormities, crimes, and vices,
that were committed at the period we now speak of, and of what it was
to live familiarly in the midst of such scenes, and to hear daily of
such occurrences. The mind of most men got hardened, callous, or
indifferent to acts of darkness and of shame, even if they did not
commit them themselves; and the world of Paris heard with scarcely an
emotion that this nobleman had been poisoned by another--that the hand
of the assassin had delivered one high lord of this troublesome friend
or that pertinacious enemy--that the husband had "drugged the posset"
for the wife, or the wife for the husband--or that persons obnoxiously
wise or virtuous disappeared within the walls of such places as
Vincennes, and passed suddenly with their good acts into that oblivion
which is the general recompense of all that is excellent upon earth.
No one noted such deeds; the sword of justice started from the
scabbard once or twice in a century, but that was all; and the world
laughed as merrily--the jest and the repartee went on--sport, love,
and folly revelled as gaily through the streets of Paris, as if it had
been a world of gentleness, and security, and peace.

Though of course Charles of Montsoreau felt in some degree the spirit
of the day--though he thought it nothing at all extraordinary to be
attacked by reiters in his own château, or stopped by fifty or sixty
plunderers on the broad highway--though it seemed perfectly natural to
him that man should live as in a state of continual warfare, always on
his defence, yet the whole of his previous life having passed far from
the daily occurrence of still more revolting scenes, in spots where
calm nature and God's handiwork were still at hand to purify and heal
men's thoughts, he had very different feelings in regard to the events
and customs of the day from those which were generally entertained by
the people of the metropolis. Thus, when he gazed up at the gloomy
tower of Vincennes, and thought of the deeds which had been committed
within its walls, together with the crimes and follies that were daily
there enacted, a feeling of mingled horror and disgust took possession
of his bosom; and had he not been impelled by a sense of duty, he
would not have set his foot upon the threshold of those polluted
gates.

The order to appear before the King at Vincennes had been communicated
to him early in the morning, and notice of his coming had been given
to the officers at the gates of the castle. He was punctual to a
moment at the appointed time, and was instantly led into the château,
and conducted up a long, darksome, winding stone staircase in one of
the towers. Everything took place almost in silence; few persons were
to be seen moving about in the building; and, while winding up those
stairs, nothing was heard but the footfalls of himself and the
attendant who conducted him.

Charles of Montsoreau certainly felt neither awe nor fear as he thus
advanced, though some of the warnings of the Duke of Guise might cross
his mind at the moment; but at the end of what seemed to be the first
story, the attendant said, "Wait a moment;" and, pushing open a door,
entered a room to the right. There was another door beyond, but both
were left partly unclosed, and the previous silence was certainly no
longer to be complained of, for such a jabbering, and screaming, and
yelling, and howling, as was now heard, was probably never known in
the palace of a king, before or since.

Human sounds they seemed certainly not to be, and yet words in various
languages were to be distinguished, so that conjecture was quite put
at fault, till after an absence of several minutes the attendant
returned, and, bidding the young nobleman follow him, led the way once
more into this den of noise and confusion.

The scene that then burst upon the eyes of Charles of Montsoreau was
as curious as can well be conceived. Innumerable parrots, macaws, and
cockatoos were ranged on perches and in cages along the sides of a
large apartment, with intervals of monkeys and apes rattling their
chains, springing forward at every object near them, mouthing,
chattering, and writhing themselves into fantastic forms; six or seven
small beautiful dogs of a peculiar breed were running about on the
floor, snarling at one another, barking at the stranger, or teazing
the other animals in the same room with themselves; baskets filled
with litters of puppies were in every corner of the room; and several
men and women were engaged in tending the winged and quadruped
favourites of the King. Not only, however, were the regular attendants
present, but, as one of the known ways to Henry's regard, a great
number of other persons were always to be found busily engaged in
tending the monkeys, parrots, and dogs. Amongst the rest here present,
were no less than five dwarfs, four others being in actual attendance
upon the King. None were above three feet and a half in height, and
some were deformed and distorted in the most fearful manner, while one
was perfectly and beautifully formed, and seemed to hold the others in
great contempt. The voices of almost all of them, however, were
cracked and screaming; and it was the sounds of their tongues, mingled
with the yelping of the dogs, the chattering of the monkeys, and the
various words repeated in different languages by the loquacious birds
along the wall, which had made the Babel of sounds that reached the
ears of Charles of Montsoreau while he stood without.

Passing through this room, with the envious eyes of the dwarfs staring
upon his fine figure, the young Count entered the chamber of the
pages--where, as if for the sake of contrast, a number of beautiful
youths were seen--and was thence led on into the royal apartments, in
which every thing was calm splendour and magnificence. Here and there
various officers of the royal household were found lounging away the
idle hours as they waited for the King's commands; and at length, in
an ante-room, the young Count was bade to wait again, while the
attendant once more notified his coming to the King. He was scarcely
detained a moment now, however; but, the door being opened, he was
ushered into the monarch's presence.

Henry on the present occasion presented an aspect different from that
which the young Count had expected to behold. The Monarch had
recalled, for a moment or two, the princely and commanding air of his
youth, and received the young Count with dignity and grace. His person
was handsome, his figure fine, and his dress in the most exquisite
taste that it was possible to conceive. It was neither so effeminate
nor so overcharged with ornament as it sometimes was; and the black
velvet slashed and laced with gold, the toque with a single large
diamond on his head, the long snowy-white ostrich feather, and the
collar of one or two high orders round his neck, became him well, and
harmonised with the air of dignity he assumed.

There were two or three gentlemen who stood around him more gaudily
dressed than himself, and amongst them was the Duke of Epernon, whom
Charles of Montsoreau remembered to have seen at his father's château
some years before. All, however, held back so as to allow the monarch
a full view of the young cavalier, as he advanced.

"You are welcome to Vincennes, Monsieur de Logères," said the King.
"Our noble and princely cousin of Guise has notified to us that he has
sent you to Paris on business of importance; and, having given you
that praise which we are sure you must merit, has besought us to put
every sort of trust and confidence in you, and to listen to you as to
himself, while you speak with us upon the affairs which have brought
you hither. We beseech you, therefore, to inform us of that which he
has left dark, and tell us how we may pleasure our fair cousin, which
is always our first inclination to do--the good of our state and the
welfare of our subjects considered."

"His Highness the Duke of Guise, Sire," replied Charles of Montsoreau,
not in the slightest degree abashed by the many eyes that were fixed
upon him, scrutinising his person and his dress in the most
unceremonious manner, "his Highness the Duke of Guise, Sire, has sent
me to your Majesty, to ask information regarding a young lady, his
near relation, who, he has reason to believe, was protected by a body
of your Majesty's troops in a situation of some difficulty, for which
protection the Duke is most grateful. She was then, he understood,
conducted to this your Majesty's castle of Vincennes, doubtless for
the purpose of affording her a safe asylum till you could restore her
to his Highness, who is her guardian."

Henry turned with a sneering smile towards a dark but handsome man,
with a somewhat sinister expression of countenance, on his left hand,
saying, in an under tone, "Quick travelling, Villequier! to Soissons
and back to Paris in four and twenty hours, ha! Had the swallow ever
wings like rumour?"

This was said affectedly aside, but quite loud enough for the young
nobleman to hear the whole. He, of course, made no reply, as the words
were not addressed to him; but waited, with his eyes bent down,
apparently in thoughtful meditation, till the King should give him his
answer.

"You have given us, Monsieur le Comte de Logères," said the King, "but
a faint idea of this business; and, as unhappily the commanders of our
troops are but too little accustomed to afford us any very full
account of their proceedings, we are ignorant of the occasion on which
any one of them rendered this service to the young lady you mention."

This affected unconsciousness, displayed absolutely in conjunction
with a scarcely concealed knowledge of the whole affair, Charles of
Montsoreau felt to be trifling and insulting: but he lost not his
reverence for the kingly authority; and he replied, with every
appearance of deference, "I had imagined, Sire, that the quick wings
of rumour must have carried the whole particulars to your Majesty,
otherwise I should have been more particular in my account. The
service was rendered to the young lady very lately, between Jouarre
and Gandelu. I am not absolutely aware of the name of the officer in
command of the troops at the time, but one gentleman present bore the
name of Colombel."

"And pray what was the name of the young lady herself?" demanded the
King, with a sneer. "The Duke of Guise has many she relations, as we
sometimes find to our cost. It could not be our pretty, mild, and
virtuous friend, the Duchess of Montpensier, nor the delicate and
fair-favoured Mademoiselle de St. Beuve; for the one is staying in
Paris in disobedience to the orders of the King, and the other is
remaining there, waiting for the tender consolations of the Chevalier
d'Aumale."

The young Count turned somewhat red, both at the coarseness and the
scornfulness of the King's reply. "The young lady," he answered,
however, still keeping the same tone, "is named Mademoiselle de
Clairvaut, daughter of the late Count de Clairvaut."

"Your first cousin, Villequier," said the King, turning to his
minister. "You should know something of this affair?"

"Not more than your Majesty," replied Villequier, bowing low, and
perceiving very clearly that Henry had maliciously wished to embarrass
him.

The King smiled at the double-meaning answer, and then, turning to the
young Count, replied, "Well, sir, you have fulfilled your mission, and
may tell the Duke of Guise, our true and well-beloved cousin, that we
will cause immediate inquiry and investigation to be made into the
whole affair; and let him know the particulars as soon as we are
sufficiently well-informed to speak upon it with that accuracy which
becomes our character. You may retire."

This was of course not the conclusion of the affair to which Charles
of Montsoreau was inclined to submit; and it was evident to him that
the King and his minions presumed upon his apparent youth and
inexperience. But there was a firm decision in his character which
they were not prepared for; and after pausing for a moment in thought,
during which time the King's brows began to bend angrily upon him, he
raised his eyes, looking Henry calmly and stedfastly in the face, and
replying, "Your Majesty must pardon me if I do not take instant
advantage of your permission to retire, as you have conceived a false
impression when you imagine that my mission is fulfilled."

The King looked with an air of astonishment, first to Epernon and then
to Villequier: but the former turned away his head with a look of
dissatisfaction; while the latter bit his lip, let his hand fall upon
a jewelled dagger in his belt, and said nothing.

Charles of Montsoreau, however, went on in the same calm but
determined tone. "His Highness the Duke of Guise," he said, "directed
me to inform your Majesty of the facts I have mentioned, and to beg in
general terms information regarding them; but in case the general
information that I obtained was not sufficiently accurate to enable me
to write to him distinctly that Mademoiselle de Clairvaut is in this
place, or in that place, he further directed me humbly to request that
your Majesty would answer in plain terms the following plain
questions:--Is Mademoiselle de Clairvaut in the château of Vincennes?
Is she under the charge and protection of your Majesty? Does your
Majesty know where she is?"

"By the Lord that lives," exclaimed Henry, "this Duke of Guise chooses
himself bold ambassadors to his King!"

"Do you dare, malapert boy," exclaimed Villequier, "with that bold
brow, to cross-question your sovereign?"

"I do dare, sir," answered Charles of Montsoreau, "to ask my
sovereign, in the name of the Duke of Guise, these plain questions,
which, as he is a just and noble monarch, he can neither find any
difficulty in answering, nor feel any anger in hearing."

"And what if I refuse to answer, sir?" demanded the King. "What is to
be the consequence then? Is the doughty messenger charged to make a
declaration of war on the part of our obedient subject, the Duke of
Guise?"

The young Count was not prepared for this question, and hesitated how
to answer it, though a full knowledge of how terrible the Duke of
Guise was to the weak and effeminate monarch he addressed, brought a
smile over his countenance, which had in reality more effect than any
words he could have spoken. After a pause, however, he replied,--"Oh
no, Sire. The Duke of Guise is, as you say, your Majesty's most
devoted and obedient subject; and never conceiving it possible that
you would refuse to answer his humble questions, he gave me no
instructions what to say in a case that he did not foresee. I can only
suppose," he added, with a low and reverent bow to the King, "that the
Duke will be obliged to come to Paris himself to make those inquiries
and investigations, concerning his young relation, in which I have not
been successful."

Charles of Montsoreau could see, notwithstanding the paint, which
delicately furnished the King with a more stable complexion than his
own, that at the very thought of the Duke of Guise coming to Paris the
weak monarch turned deadly pale. The same signs also were visible to
Villequier, who whispered, "No fear, Sire; no fear; he will not come!"

The King answered sharply, however, and sufficiently loud for the
young nobleman to hear, "We must give him no excuse, René! we must
give him no excuse! Monsieur de Logères," he continued, putting on a
more placable air than before, "we are glad to find that neither the
Duke of Guise nor his envoy presumes to threaten us; and in
consideration of the questions being put in a proper manner, we are
willing to answer them to the best of our abilities."

Villequier, at these words, laid his hand gently upon the King's
cloak; but Henry twitched it away from his grasp with an air of
impatience, and continued, "I shall therefore answer you frankly and
freely, young gentleman; telling you that the Lady whom you are sent
to seek is in fact not at Vincennes; nor, to the best of our knowledge
and belief, in our good city of Paris; neither do we know or have any
correct information of where she may be found, though it is not by any
means to be denied that she has visited this our castle of Vincennes."

The first part of the King's speech had considerably relieved the mind
of Villequier; but when he proceeded to make the somewhat unnecessary
admission, that Mademoiselle de Clairvaut had visited Vincennes, the
minister again attempted to interrupt the King, saying, "You know,
Sire, her pause at Vincennes was merely momentary, and absolutely
necessary for those passports and safeguards without which it might be
dangerous to travel, in the distracted state of the country."

"Perfectly true," replied Henry: but the King's apprehension of the
Duke of Guise appearing in Paris was much stronger than his respect
for his minister's opinion; and he proceeded with what he had to say,
in spite of every sign or hint that could be given him.

"You must know, Monsieur de Logères," he said, "that, as I before
observed, she did visit Vincennes for a brief space; but, there being
something embarrassing in the whole business, we were, to say the
truth--albeit not insensible to beauty--we were not at all sorry to
see her depart."

Although Charles of Montsoreau judged rightly that the abode of
Vincennes, to the high and pure-minded girl whom he sought, could only
have been one of horror, he could not conceive any thing in her
situation which should have proved embarrassing to the King, and he
answered bluntly, "Then your Majesty of course has caused her to be
escorted in safety to the Duke of Guise, as the means of relieving
yourself from all embarrassment concerning her."

"Not so, not so, Monsieur de Logères," replied the King. "Young
diplomatists and young greyhounds run fast and overleap the game. It
so happens that there are various claims regarding the wardship of
this young Lady. She has many relations, as near or nearer than the
Duke of Guise. The care and guidance of her, too, under the
authorisation of the Duke himself, has been claimed by a young
nobleman whom you may have heard of, called the Marquis of
Montsoreau;" and he fixed his eyes meaningly upon the young Count's
face. "All these circumstances rendered the matter embarrassing; and
as I was not called upon to decide the matter judicially; and the
Lady, if not quite of an age by law to judge for herself, being very
nearly so, I thought it far better to leave the whole business to her
own discretion, and let her take what course she thought fit, offering
her every assistance and protection in my power, which, however, she
declined. You may therefore assure the Duke of Guise, on my part, that
she is not at Vincennes, and that I am unacquainted with where she is
at this moment. I now think, therefore, that all your questions are
answered, and the business is at an end."

"I fear I must intrude upon your Majesty still farther," replied the
young Count; "for besides the letter from the Duke of Guise, which I
have had the honour of delivering to your Majesty, he has also
furnished me with this document, giving me full power and authority to
inquire, seek for, and require, at the hands of any person in whose
power she may be, the young Lady whom he claims as his ward. He has
directed me to request your Majesty's approbation of the same,
expressed by your signature to that effect, giving me authority to
search for her in your name also, and to require the aid and
assistance of all your officers, civil and military, in executing the
said task."

Henry looked both agitated and angry; and Villequier spoke for a
moment to Epernon behind the King's back.

"Monsieur de Logères," exclaimed the latter, taking a step forward,
"this is too much. I can hardly suppose that his Highness the Duke of
Guise has authorised you to make such a demand."

"My Lord Duke of Epernon," replied the Count, "were it not that I hold
in my hand the Duke's authority for that which I state, I would call
upon you to put your insinuation in plainer terms, that I might give
it the lie as plainly as I would do any other unjust accusation."

The Duke turned very red; but he replied, "And you would be treated,
sir Count, as a petty boy of the low nobility of this realm deserves,
for using such language to one so much above yourself."

"There is no one in France so much above myself, sir," replied the
Count, gazing on him sternly, and with a look of some contempt, "as to
dare to insult me with impunity; and though you be now High-admiral of
France, Colonel-general of Infantry, Governor of half the provinces of
this country, Duke, Peer, and hold many another rich and honourable
office besides, I tell you, John of Nogaret, that when the Baron de
Caumont dined at my father's table, he sat nearer the salt than
perhaps now may suit the proud Duke of Epernon to remember."

"Silence!" exclaimed the King, rousing himself for a moment from his
effeminate apathy, while, for a brief space, an expression of power
and dignity came over his countenance, such as that which had
distinguished him while Duke of Anjou. "Silence, insolent boy!
Silence, Epernon! I forbid you, on pain of my utmost displeasure, to
take notice, even by a word, of what this young man has said. You were
yourself wrong to answer for the King in the King's presence. The Duke
of Guise shall have no just occasion to complain of us," he added, the
brightness which had come upon him gradually dying away like the false
promising gleam of sunshine which sometimes breaks for a moment
through a rainy autumnal day, and fades away again as soon, amidst the
dull grey clouds; "the Duke of Guise shall have no occasion to
complain of us. We will give this young man the authority which he has
so insolently demanded, to seek for Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, and
having found her--if she have not joined the Duke of Guise long
before--to escort her in safety to our cousin's care. But, Monsieur de
Logères, you show your ignorance of every custom of the court and
state, by supposing that the King of France can write down at the
bottom of the powers given you by the Duke of Guise his name in
confirmation of the same, like a steward at the bottom of a butcher's
bill. The authority which we give you must pass through the office of
our secretary of state, and it shall be drawn out and sent to you as
speedily as possible. I think that Monsieur de Villequier already
knows where to send this authority. You may now retire; and rest
assured that it shall reach you as soon as possible. At the same time
we pardon you for your conduct in this presence, which much needs
pardon, though it does not merit it."

Charles of Montsoreau bowed low, and retired from the King's presence,
fully convinced that Henry was deceiving him; that he knew, or, at all
events, had every means of judging, where Marie de Clairvaut was; and
that he had not the slightest intention of sending him the
authorisation he had promised, unless absolutely driven to do so.

The moment that the young Count had quitted the presence, the King
turned angrily to Villequier, exclaiming, "Are you mad, Villequier, to
risk bringing that fiery and ambitious pest upon us? 'Tis but four
days ago he was within ten miles of Paris!"

"Pshaw, Sire!" replied Villequier; "there is not the slightest chance
of his coming. Did I not tell you when he was at Gonesse that I would
find means to make him run like a frightened hare back again to
Soissons? I fear your Majesty has ruined all our plans by promising
this authority to that malapert youth, who doubtless already knows, or
easily divines, that he is deceived."

"I have not deceived him," said the King: "I told him the girl was not
at Vincennes; nor is she. I told him that I did not know where she is
at this moment; nor do I; for she may be three miles on this side of
Meulan, or three miles on that, for aught I know. It depends upon the
quickness of the horses, and the state of the roads. I promised him
the authority to seek her; and he shall have it in good due form, if
he live long enough, and wait in Paris a sufficient time."

"If he have it not within three days," replied Villequier, "be you
sure, Sire, that he will write to the Duke of Guise."

"But, Villequier," said the King in a soft tone, "could you not find
means to prevent his making use of pen and ink to such bad purposes?
In short, friend René, it is altogether your affair. You seem to think
that the fact of this girl falling into our hands is quite the
discovery of a treasure which may fix on our side this young Marquis
of Montsoreau and the crafty Abbé that you talk of, and I don't know
how many more people besides. Now I told you from the beginning that
you should manage it all yourself: so look to it, good Villequier;
look to it."

"He has let me manage it all myself, truly!" said Villequier, in a low
tone, "But I wish to know more precisely, your Majesty," he added
aloud, "what am I to do with this youth and the girl? Is he to have
the authorisation, or not? Am I, or am I not, to give her up when he
demands her?"

"Now, good faith," replied the King, "would not one think, Epernon,
that our well-beloved friend and minister here was a mere novice out
of a convent of young girls, a tender and scrupulous little thing,
thinking evil, in every stray look or soft word addressed to her. He
who has dealt with so many in his day, diplomatists and warriors and
statesmen, has not wit enough to deal with a raw boy, whom, doubtless,
our fair and crafty cousin of Guise has sent upon a fool's errand to
get him out of the way."

"Certainly," replied the Duke of Epernon, "our wise friend Villequier
seems to be somewhat prudent and cautious this morning. The young lady
is in your hands, I think, Villequier; is she not? and you have sent
her off into Normandy, I think you told me, with an escort of fifty of
your archers. She goes there, doubtless, as his Majesty has said, with
her own will and consent, and by her own choice, for there is a soft
persuasiveness in fifty archers which it is very difficult for a
woman's heart to resist; and, doubtless, by the same cogent arguments,
you will induce her to marry whom you please. Come, tell us who it is
to be; the hand of a rich heiress to dispose of, may be made a
profitable thing, under such management as yours, Villequier."

"I have not discovered the philosopher's stone, like you, Monsieur
d'Epernon," replied the other.

The King laughed gaily, for Epernon's extraordinary cupidity was no
secret even to the monarch that fed it. But the Duke was proof to all
jest upon that score; and looking at Villequier with the same sort of
musing expression which he had before borne, he repeated his question,
saying, "Come, come, disinterested chevalier, tell us to whom do you
intend to give her?"

"Perhaps to my own nephew," replied the other. "What think you of
that, Monsieur le Duc?"

The brow of Epernon grew clouded in a moment. "I think," he said,
"that you will not do it, for two reasons: in the first place, you
destine your nephew for your daughter Charlotte."

"Not I," replied the Marquis; "I never dreamt of such a thing. She
shall wed higher than that, or not at all. But what is your second
reason, Monsieur d'Epernon?"

"Because you dare not," replied the Duc d'Epernon: and he added,
speaking in a low tone, "You dare not, Villequier, mingle your race
with that of Guise. The moment you do, your object will be clear, and
your ruin certain."

"It is a curious thing, Sire," said Villequier, turning to the King
with a smile, "it is a curious thing to see how my good Lord of
Epernon grudges any little advantage to us mean men. However, to set
his Grace's mind at ease, I neither destine Mademoiselle de Clairvaut
for one nor for the other; but I think she may prove a wonderful good
bait for the wild young Marquis of Montsoreau. By the promise of her
hand, as far as my interest and influence is concerned, he will not
only be bound to your Majesty's cause on every occasion, but will
exert himself more zealously and potently for that, than any other
inducement could lead him to do. Even if he should fail in the
trial--for we must acknowledge that he shows himself somewhat unstable
in his purposes--he will, at all events, have so far committed himself
as to give your Majesty good cause for confiscating all his land,
cutting down all his timber, and seizing upon all his wealth. However,
I must think, in the first place, of how to deal with this brother of
his."

"No very difficult task, I should judge," said the Duke of Epernon,
"for one so practised in the art of catching gudgeons as you,
Villequier."

"I don't know that," answered Villequier; "I would fain detach that
youth, also, from the Guises. You see, most noble Duke, I am thinking
of the King's interest all the time, while you are thinking of your
own. However, I must find a way to manage him, for, as their wonderful
friend and tutor, this wise Abbé de Boisguerin, admitted to me last
night, there are three means all powerful in dealing with our
neighbours--love, interest, and ambition; and we might thus exemplify
it,--the King would do any thing for the first, the Duke of Epernon
any thing for the second, and his Highness of Guise any thing for the
third."

"There are two other implements frequently used, which I wonder
Monsieur de Villequier did not add," said the Duke, "as I rather
expect he may have to use one or other of them on the present
occasion; and men say he is fully as skilful in using them as in
employing love, interest, or ambition, for his ends."

"Pray what are those?" demanded Villequier, somewhat sharply.

"Vicenza daggers," replied the Duke of Epernon, "and wine that splits
a Venice glass!"

"Come, come, Epernon," cried the King, "you and Villequier shall not
quarrel. Come away from him, come away from him, or you will be using
your daggers on each other presently:" and, throwing his arm
familiarly round his neck, he drew the Duke away.



                               CHAP. V.


Charles of Montsoreau rode homeward in painful and anxious thought: he
had flattered himself vainly, before he had proceeded to Vincennes,
that the redoubted name of Henry of Guise would be found fully
sufficient immediately to cause the restoration of Marie de Clairvaut
to him, who had naturally a right to protect her. It less frequently
happens that youth fails to reckon upon the fiery contention it is
destined to meet with from adversaries, than that it miscalculates the
force of the dull and inert opposition which circumstances continually
offer to its eager course, throwing upon it a heavy, slow, continual
weight, which, like a clog upon a powerful horse, seems but a nothing
for the moment, but in the end checks its speed entirely. None knew
better than Henry III. that it is by casting small obstacles in the
way of impetuous youth, that we conquer and tame it sooner than by
opposing it; and such had been his purpose with Charles of Montsoreau.

In his idle carelessness he cared but little what became of
Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, or into whose hands she fell. He was
willing to countenance and assist the politic schemes of his favourite
Villequier; and cared not, even in the slightest degree, whether that
personage employed poison or the knife to rid himself of the young
Count of Logères, provided always that he himself had nothing to do
with it. The only part that he was inclined to act was to thwart the
Duke's young envoy by obstacles and long delays; and this he had
suffered to become so far evident to Charles of Montsoreau, that he
became angry and impatient at the very prospect before him. He
doubted, however, whether it would be right to send off a courier with
this intelligence immediately to the Duke of Guise, or to wait for two
or three days, in order to see whether the powers promised him were
effectually granted; and he was still pondering the matter, while
riding through the streets of Paris, when, in passing by a large and
splendid mansion in one of the principal streets, he caught a glimpse
of two figures disappearing through the arched portal of the building.
The faces of neither were visible to him; their figures only for a
moment, and that at a distance. But he felt that he could not be
mistaken--that all the thoughts and feelings and memories of youth
could not so suddenly, so magically, be called up by the sight of any
one but his brother,--and if so, that the other was the Abbé de
Boisguerin.

"Whose is that house?" he exclaimed aloud, turning to his attendants.

"That of Monsieur René de Villequier," replied the page instantly;
and, springing from his horse at the gate, the young Count knocked
eagerly for admission. The portals were instantly thrown open, and a
porter in crimson, with a broad belt fringed with gold, appeared in
answer to the summons.

"I think," said the young Count, "that I saw this moment the Marquis
de Montsoreau and the Abbé de Boisguerin pass into this house."

The porter looked dull, and shook his head, replying, "No, sir; nobody
has passed in here but two of my noble Lord's attendants--the old Abbé
Scargilas, and Master Nicolas Prevôt, who used formerly to keep the
Salle d'Armes, opposite the kennel at St. Germain."

Although Charles of Montsoreau knew the existence and possibility of
such a thing as the lie circumstantial, yet the coolness and readiness
of the porter surprised him. "Pray," he said, after a moment's pause,
"is there any such person as either Monsieur de Montsoreau or the Abbé
de Boisguerin dwelling here at present?"

"None, sir," replied the man. "There is no one here but the attendants
of my Lord, who is at present absent with the King."

Charles of Montsoreau would have given a good deal to have searched
the house from top to bottom; but as it would not exactly do to storm
the dwelling of René de Villequier, he rode on, no less convinced than
ever that his brother was at that moment in the dwelling of the
minister.

This conviction determined his conduct at once. That his brother was
in Paris, and in the hands of the most dangerous and intriguing man of
that day, he had no doubt; and it seemed to him also clear, that
schemes were going on and contriving, of which the obstacles and
delays thrown in his way might be, perhaps, a part. To what they
tended he could not, of course, tell directly; but he saw that the
only hope of frustrating them lay in exertion without the loss of a
moment, and he accordingly dispatched his faithful attendant Gondrin
to Soissons as soon as he reached the inn.

We must follow, however, for a moment, the two persons whom the young
Count had seen enter the hotel of Villequier, and accompany them at
once into the chamber to which they proceeded after passing the
portal. It was a splendid cabinet, filled with every sort of rare and
costly furniture, which was displayed to the greater perfection by the
dark but rich tapestry that covered the walls. Another larger room
opened beyond, and through the door of that again, which was partly
open, a long suite of bed-rooms and other apartments were seen, with
different rich and glittering objects placed here and there along the
perspective, as if for the express purpose of catching the eye.

Into one of the large arm-chairs which the cabinet contained, the
Marquis of Montsoreau threw himself as if familiar with the scene.
"Villequier is long," he said, speaking to the Abbé. "He promised to
have returned before this hour."

"Impatience, Gaspar, impatience," replied the Abbé, "is the vice of
your disposition. How much have you lost already by impatience? Was it
not your impatience which hurried me forward to represent his own
situation and that of yourself, to your brother Charles, which drove
him directly to the Duke of Guise? Was it not your impatience which
made you speak words of love to Marie de Clairvaut before she was
prepared to hear them, drawing from her a cold and icy reply? Was it
not your impatience that made us leave behind at Provins all the tired
horses and one half of the men, rather than wait a single day to
enable them to come on with us; and did not that very fact put us
almost at the mercy of the reiters, and give your brother an
opportunity of showing his gallantry and skill at our expense?"

"It is all true, my friend; it is all true," replied the Marquis. "But
in regard to my speaking those fiery words to Marie de Clairvaut, how
could I help that? Is it possible so to keep down the overflowing
thoughts of our bosom as to prevent their bursting forth when the
stone is taken off from the fountain, and when the feelings of the
heart gush out, not as from the spring of some ordinary river, but,
like the waters of Vaucluse, full, powerful, and abundant even at
their source."

"It was that I wished you to guard against," replied the Abbé. "Had
you appeared less to seek, you would have been sought rather than
avoided. It may be true, Gaspar, what authors have said, that a woman,
like some animals of the chase, takes a pleasure in being pursued; but
depend upon it, if she do so, she puts forth all her speed to insure
herself against being caught. Unless you are very sure of your own
speed and strength, you had better steal quietly onward, lest you
frighten the deer. Had she heard much from my lips, and from those of
her good but weak friend Madame de Saulny, of your high qualities, and
of all those traits in your nature calculated to captivate and attract
such a being as herself, while you seemed indifferent and somewhat
cool withal, every thing--good that is in her nature would have joined
with every thing that is less good--the love of high qualities and of
manly daring would have combined with vanity and caprice to make her
seek you, excite your attention, and court your love."

"I have never yet seen in her," said the young Marquis, "either vanity
or caprice; and besides, good friend, such things to me at least are
not matters of mere calculation. I act upon impulses that I cannot
resist. Mine are feelings, not reasonings: I follow where they lead
me, and even in the pursuit acquire intense pleasure that no reasoning
could give."

"True," replied the Abbé, bending down his head and answering
thoughtfully. "There is a great difference between your age and mine,
Gaspar. You are at the age of passions, and at that period of their
sway when they defeat themselves by their own intensity. I had
thought, however, that my lessons might have taught you, my counsel
might have shown you, that with any great object in view it is
necessary to moderate even passion in the course, in order to succeed
in the end."

"But there is joy in the course also," exclaimed Gaspar de Montsoreau.
"Think you, Abbé, that even if it were possible to win the woman we
love by another's voice, we could lose the joy of winning her for
ourselves--the great, the transcendant joy of struggling for her
affection, even though it were against her coldness, her indifference,
or her anger?"

"I think, Gaspar," replied the Abbé, "that if to a heart constituted
as yours is, there be added a mind of equal power, nothing--not even
the strongest self-denial--will be impossible for the object of
winning her you love. But I am not a good judge of such matters," he
continued with a slight smile curling his lip--a smile not altogether
without pride. "I am no judge of such matters. The profession which I
have chosen, and followed to a certain point, excludes them from my
consideration. All I wish to do in the present instance is to warn
you, Gaspar, against your own impetuosity in dealing with this
Villequier. Be warned against that man! be careful! Promise him
nothing; commit yourself absolutely to nothing, unless upon good and
sufficient proof that he too deals sincerely with you. He is not one
to be trusted, Gaspar, even in the slightest of things; and promise me
not to commit yourself with him in any respect whatsoever."

"Oh, fear not, fear not," replied the Marquis. "In this respect at
least, good friend, no passions hurry me on. Here I can deal calmly
and tranquilly, because, though the end is the same, I have nothing
but art to encounter, which may always be encountered by reason. When
I am with her, Abbé, it is the continual strife of passion that I have
to fear; at every word, at every action, I have to be upon my guard;
and reason, like a solitary sentinel upon the walls of a city attacked
on every side, opposes the foes in vain at one point, while they pour
in upon a thousand others."

While he was yet speaking, a servant with a noiseless foot entered the
room, and in a low sweet tone informed the Marquis, that Monsieur de
Villequier had just returned from Vincennes, and desired earnestly to
speak with him, for a moment, _alone_ in his own cabinet. The word
"alone" was pronounced more loud than any other, though the whole was
low and tuneful; for Villequier used to declare that he loved to have
servants with feet like cats and voices like nightingales.

The Abbé marked that word distinctly, and was too wise to make the
slightest attempt to accompany his former pupil. The Marquis, however,
did not remark it; and, perhaps a little fearful of his own firmness
and skill, asked his friend to accompany him. But the Abbé instantly
declined. "No, Gaspar," he said, "no; it were better that you should
see Monsieur Villequier alone. I will wait for you here;" and, turning
to the table, he took up an illuminated psalter, and examined the
miniatures with as close and careful an eye as if he had been deeply
interested in the labours of the artist.

He saw not a line which had there been drawn; but after the Marquis
had followed the servant from the room he muttered to himself, "So,
Monsieur de Villequier, you think that I am a mean man, who may be
over-reached with impunity and ease? You know me not yet, but you
shall know me, and that soon." And laying down the psalter, he took up
another book of a character more suited to his mind at the moment, and
read calmly till his young friend returned, which was not for near an
hour.

In the mean time the Marquis had proceeded to the cabinet of
Villequier, who, the moment he saw him, rose from the chair in which
he had been seated busily writing, and pressed him warmly by the hand.

"My dear young friend," he said, "one learns to love the more those in
whose cause one suffers something; and, since I saw you, I have had to
fight your battle manfully."

"Indeed! and may I ask, my Lord, with whom?" demanded the young
Marquis.

"With many," answered Villequier. "With the King,--with Epernon,-with
your own brother."

"With my brother?" exclaimed Gaspar of Montsoreau, while the blood
rushed up in his face. "Does he dare to oppose me after all his loud
professions of disinterestedness and generosity? But where is he, my
Lord? Leave me to deal with him. Where does he dwell? Is he in Paris?"

Villequier smiled, but so slightly, that it did not attract the eyes
of his companion. That smile, however, was but the announcement of a
sudden thought that had passed through his own mind.

Shrewd politicians like himself, fertile in all resources, and
unscrupulous about any, feel a pride and pleasure in their own
abundance of expedients, which makes the conception of a new means to
their end as pleasant as the finding of a diamond. On the present
occasion the subtle courtier thought to himself with a smile, as he
saw the angry blood mount into the cheek of the young Marquis of
Montsoreau at the very mention of his brother's name,--"Here were a
ready means of ridding ourselves, were it needful, of one if not both
of these young rash-headed nobles, by setting them to cut each other's
throats."

It suited not his plan however at the moment to follow out the idea,
and he consequently replied, "No, no, Monsieur de Montsoreau. I should
take no small care, seeing how justly offended you are with your
brother, to prevent your finding out his abode, as I know what
consequences would ensue. But in all probability, by this time, he has
gone back to the Duke of Guise, having with difficulty been
frustrated, for the King was much inclined to yield to his demands."

"What did he demand?" exclaimed the Marquis vehemently. "What did he
dare to demand, after the professions he made to me at La Ferté?"

"That matters not," answered Villequier. "Suffice it that his demands
were such as would have ruined all your hopes for ever."

"But why should the King support his demands," said the Marquis, "when
well assured of how attached he is to the great head of the League
that tyrannises over him?"

"Hush, hush!" said Villequier. "The League only tyrannises so long as
the King chooses. Henry wields not the sword at present, but the sword
is still in his hands to strike when he thinks fit. But to answer your
question, my young friend. The King knows well, as you say, that your
brother is attached to the Duke of Guise: but you must remember at the
same time, Monsieur de Montsoreau, that as yet he is not fully assured
that you are attached to himself. Nay, hear me out, hear me out! The
King's arguments, I am bound to say, were not only specious but
reasonable. He had to consider, on the one hand, that the Duke of
Guise, with whom it is his strongest interest to keep fair, demands
this young lady as his ward, which, according to the laws of the land,
Henry has no right to refuse. Your brother, on the Duke's part,
threatens loudly; and what have I to oppose to a demand to which it
seems absolutely necessary in good policy that the King should yield?
Nothing; for, on the other hand, Henry affirms that he can be in no
degree sure of yourself; that your family for long have shown
attachment for the House of Guise; that you yourself were upon your
march to join the Duke, when this lady, falling into the hands of the
King's troops, induced you to abandon your purpose for the time; but
that the moment he favours your suit, or gives his consent to your
union with her, you may return to your former attachments, and
purchase the pardon and good will of the Duke of Guise by returning to
his faction."

"I am incapable of such a thing!" exclaimed the Marquis vehemently:
but the recollection of his abandonment of the Duke's party came over
him with a glow of shame, and he remained for a moment or two without
making any farther reply, while Villequier was purposely silent also,
as if to let what he had said have its full effect. At length he
added:

"I believe you are incapable of it, Monsieur de Montsoreau, and so I
assured the King. He, however, still urged upon me that I had no
proof, and that you had taken no positive engagement to serve his
Majesty. All the monarch's arguments were supported by Epernon, who, I
believe, wishes for the hand of the young lady for some of his own
relations, in order to arrange for himself such an alliance with the
House of Guise as may prove a safeguard to him in the hour of need."
And again Villequier smiled at his own art in turning back upon the
Duke of Epernon the suspicion which the Duke had expressed in regard
to himself.

The warning of the Abbé de Boisguerin, however, at that moment rang in
the ears of Gaspar of Montsoreau, and he roused himself to deal with
Villequier not exactly as an adversary, but certainly less as a
friend.

"In fact, Monsieur de Villequier," he said, "his Majesty wishes that I
should devote my sword and fortune to his service; and I am to
understand, through you, that he holds out to me the hope of obtaining
the hand of Mademoiselle de Clairvaut in return. Now, it was not at
all my purpose to take any part in the strifes that are agitating the
country at this moment. I am neither Leaguer nor Huguenot, nor Zealot
nor Moderate; and, though most loyal, not what is called Royalist. I
was merely conducting Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, with a very small
force, not the tenth part of what I can bring into the field at a
week's notice, when the events took place which brought me to Paris.
Now, Monsieur, if the King does not rest satisfied with my expressions
of loyalty, and desires some express and public engagement to his
service, I see no earthly reason why I should rest satisfied with mere
vague hopes of obtaining the hand of the lady I love; and though, of
course, I cannot deal with his Majesty upon equal terms, yet I must
demand some full, perfect, and permanent assurance that I am not to be
disappointed in my hopes, before I draw my sword for one party or
another."

Villequier gazed thoughtfully in his face for a moment or two, biting
his under lip, and saying internally, "The Abbé de Boisguerin--this
comes from him." His next thought was, "Shall I endeavour to pique
this stripling upon his honour, and generosity, and loyalty, and all
those fine words?" But he rejected the idea the moment after thinking.
"No; that would do better with his brother. When a man boldly leaps
over such things, it is insulting him to talk about them any more."

And after a moment's farther thought, he replied, "It is all very
fair, Monsieur de Montsoreau, that you should have such assurances;
though, if we were not inclined to deal straightforwardly with you in
the matter, we might very very easily refuse every thing of the kind,
and leave you not in the most pleasant situation."

"How so?" demanded the Marquis with some alarm. "How so?"

"Easily, my dear young friend," replied Villequier. "Thus: by
informing you that the King could give you no such assurance--which,
indeed, is nominally true, though not really--and by showing you, at
the same time, that as the young lady is in his Majesty's hands, and
he is determined not to give her up to the Duke of Guise or to any
body else, but some tried and faithful friend, the only means by which
you can possibly obtain her is by serving the King voluntarily, in the
most devoted manner. Suppose this did not suit you, what would be your
resource? If you go to the Duke of Guise, you find the ground occupied
before you by your brother, and the Duke accuses you of having
betrayed his young relation into the hands of the King--perhaps sends
you under a guard into Lorraine, and has you tried, and your head
struck off. Such things have happened before now, Monsieur de
Montsoreau. At all events, not the slightest chance exists of your
winning the fair heiress of Clairvaut from him. But, even if you did
gain his consent, she is still in the hands of the King, who would
certainly not give her up to one who had proved himself a determined
enemy."

Gaspar of Montsoreau looked down, with somewhat of a frowning brow,
upon the ground. He saw, indeed, that the alternative was one that he
could not well adopt; and, from the showing of Villequier, he fancied
himself of less power and consequence in the matter than he really
was. He resolved, however, not to admit the fact if he could help it.

"Suppose, Monsieur de Villequier," he said, "that the League were to
prevail, and to force his Majesty to concede all the articles of
Nancy, think you not that one thing exacted from him might well be, to
yield Mademoiselle de Clairvaut to her lawful guardian?"

"It might," answered Villequier immediately. "But then I come in. The
question of guardianship has never been tried between the Duke and
myself. I stand as nearly related to her as he does; and I should
instantly bring the cause before the Parliament, demanding that the
young lady should remain in the hands of the King as suzerain till the
cause is decided, which might be this time ten years."

"I did not know," said the young nobleman, "that the relationship was
so near, though I was aware that Clairvaut is the family name of
Villequier. However, sir, there is yet another alternative. Suppose I
were to keep the sword in the sheath, and retire once more to
Montsoreau."

"Why there, then," replied Villequier with a slight sneer, "you might
happily abide, watching the progress of events, till either the
royalist party or the League prevailed; and then, as chance or
accident might will it, see the hand of the fair Lady rewarding one of
the King's gallant defenders, or bestowed by the Duke of Guise upon
his brave and prudent partisan, the Count of Logères."

He paused for a moment or two, to let all he said have its full
effect, and then added, in a familiar tone, "Come, come, Monsieur de
Montsoreau, see the matter in its true light. There is no possible
chance of your obtaining the hand of Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, except
by attaching yourself to the King's service, and defending the royal
cause with the utmost zeal. If you persist in doing so simply as a
voluntary act to be performed or remitted at pleasure, be you sure
that as you make the King depend upon your good will for your services
towards him, so will you be made to depend upon his good will, his
caprices if you like, for the hand of Mademoiselle de Clairvaut. If,
however, on the contrary, you frankly and generously determine to take
service with the King, and bind yourself irrevocably to his cause, I
do not scruple to promise you, under his hand, his full consent to
your union with Mademoiselle de Clairvaut. I will give you the same
consent under mine, assuming the title of her guardian. Your marriage
cannot, of course, take place till the great struggle that is now
impending is over. In a few months, nay, in a few weeks, the one party
or the other--who are now directing their efforts against each other,
instead of turning, as they ought, their united forces against the
common enemies of our religion--must have triumphed over its
adversary. I need not tell you which I feel, which I know, must be
successful; but your part will now be, to exert yourself to the
utmost, to traverse the country with all speed to Montsoreau, to raise
every soldier that you can, and to gather every crown that you can
collect, to join the King with all your forces, wherever he may be,
and, by your exertions, to render that result certain, which is,
indeed, scarcely doubtful even as it is; remembering that upon the
destruction of the Duke of Guise's party, and upon the overthrow of
his usurped and unreasonable power, depends not only the welfare of
your King and master, but the realisation of your best and sweetest
hopes."

"You grant all that I demand, Monsieur de Villequier," replied Gaspar
of Montsoreau. "All I wish is the King's formal consent in writing,
and yours, to my marriage with Marie de Clairvaut, as the condition of
my absolute and public adhesion to the royal cause."

"I know," replied Villequier, "that I grant all you demand, and I was
prepared to do so from the first, only we were led into collateral
discussions as we went on. You will, of course, take an oath to the
King's service, and confirm it under your hand."

"We will exchange the papers, Monsieur de Villequier," replied the
Marquis, thinking himself extremely cautious. "But now, pray tell me,
how ended the discussion with my brother?"

"The only way that it could end," replied Villequier, "when all
parties were determined to evade his demand. The King, you may easily
suppose, was not inclined to give the young heiress of Clairvaut to
any of the partisans of an enemy. Epernon knew well that if the hand
of a Guise were upon her shoulder, the ring of a La Valette would
never pass upon her finger; and I, when last we met, had half given my
promise to you, and was, at all events, determined that the question
of wardship should be settled before I parted with her. The King,
therefore, evaded the demands of the young Count, though he was not a
little inclined to yield to them at one time, in order to pacify the
Duke of Guise. However, I took the brunt of the business upon myself,
and underwent the hot indignation of your brother, who thought to find
in me an Epernon, or a Montsoreau, who would measure swords with him
for an angry word."

"They had better be skilful as well as brave," said the young Marquis
thoughtfully, "who measure swords with my brother Charles."

"Indeed!" said Villequier, "is he then so much a master of his
weapon?"

"The most perfect I ever beheld--ay, more skilful now, than even our
friend the Abbé de Boisguerin; though I have heard that, some years
ago, when the Abbé was studying at Padua, he challenged the famous
Spanish sword-player, Bobéz, to display his skill with him in the
schools, in single combat, and hit him three times upon the heart
without Bobéz touching him once."

"I remember, I remember!" cried Villequier. "The master broke the
buttons from the swords in anger, and the student ran him through the
body at the first pass, whereof he died within five minutes after in
the Deacon's chamber."

"I never heard that he died," replied the Marquis with some surprise.

"He did indeed, though," replied Villequier with a meditative air.
"And so this was the Abbé de Boisguerin. One would have thought the
army, rather than the church, would have called such a spirit to
itself."

"I know not," replied the young Marquis, "but in all things he is
equally skilful; and, doubtless, you know he has taken but the first
step towards entering the church, pausing as it were even on the
threshold."

"Do you think," said Villequier, "that he is as skilful in conveying
intelligence as in other things?"

"What do you mean, my Lord?" exclaimed his young companion.

"Nay, I mean nothing," replied the politician, satisfied with having
sown the first seed of suspicion in the young nobleman's mind,
without, perhaps, any definite design, but simply for the universal
purpose of making men doubt and distrust each other, with a view of
ruling them more easily. "Nothing, except a mere question concerning
his skill. I have no latent meaning, I assure you."

The brow of the Marquis grew clear again, and Villequier saw that he
believed the latter assertion more fully than he had intended. He let
the subject pass, however, and spoke of many other things, giving his
own account of various matters which had occurred during the Count de
Logères's audience of the King, and urging Gaspar de Montsoreau to set
off with all speed to raise his forces in his native province. Then
abruptly turning the conversation, he demanded, "You or the Abbé told
me, I think, that you suspected your brother of having communicated
your march to the reiters. Is it like his general character so to act?
I'm sure, if it be his custom to do such things, I would much rather
that he was upon the opposite party than our own."

The Marquis bent down his head, and gazed sternly upon the ground for
two or three moments. He then answered, with a deep sigh, "No,
Monsieur de Villequier; no, it is not like Charles's character. He has
all his life been frank and free as the summer air, open, and
generous. I fear I did him wrong to suspect him. We are rivals where
no man admits of rivalry: but I must do him justice. If he have done
such a thing, his nature must be changed, changed indeed--changed,
perhaps, as much as my own."

"I thought," replied Villequier, "that he seemed frank and
straightforward enough, bold and haughty as a lion; gave the King look
for look; bearded Epernon, and threatened to bring him to the field;
and spared not me myself, whom men don't for some reason love to
offend. But he did not seem a man likely to betray his friend, or
practise treachery upon his brother. It is a very strange thing, too,"
he continued in an easier tone, "that Colombel and the other officers
of the King's troops at Château Thierry should have received news of
your coming a day before you did cross the Marne, together with the
information that the reiters might attack you near Gandelu. Was not
this strange?"

"Most strange," replied the Marquis, knitting his brows, and setting
his teeth hard. But Villequier, now seeing that he had said quite
enough, again turned the conversation; and after letting it subside
naturally to ordinary subjects, he told the young Marquis that he
would immediately write to the King, and obtain his signature to the
paper required, before bed-time. "It is late already," he said; "I
think even now I see a shade in the sky, so I must about my work
rapidly. But remember, Monsieur de Montsoreau, nine is my supper hour
exactly; and then, care and labour being past, we will sit down and
enjoy ourselves, though I fear the accommodation which I can offer you
in my poor dwelling must seem but rude in your eyes."

The Marquis said all that such a speech required, and then withdrew.

When he was gone, Villequier applied himself for some time to other
things; but when they were concluded, he rose from his chair, and
walked once or twice thoughtfully across the cabinet.

"I had better," he said to himself at length, "I had better deal with
him at once, and then I can ascertain what are his demands, and how to
treat them."

Thus saying, he took up his bell and rang it, directing the servant
who appeared to see if he could find the Abbé de Boisguerin alone, in
which case he was to invite him to a conference. "He will be alone,"
thought the wily courtier, "for I have sown seeds of those things
which will not suffer them to be long together."

The Abbé, however, was absent from the house, much to the surprise of
Villequier; and another hour had well nigh passed before he made his
appearance. The moment that he did so, he advanced towards Villequier
with his mild and graceful calmness, saying that he understood his
Lordship had sent for him. Villequier pressed his hand tenderly, and
with soft and courtly words assured him that, in sending for him, he
had only sought to enjoy the pleasure of his unrivalled conversation
for a few minutes before supper.

The Abbé replied exactly in the same tone; that he was profoundly
grieved to have lost even a moment of the society of one who
fascinated from the first, and sent away every one charmed and
delighted.

A slight and bitter smile curled the lip of each as he ended his
speech, like a seal upon a treaty, the confirmation and mockery of a
falsehood.

The Abbé, however, added to his speech a few words more, saying that
he should have been back earlier, but that his conversation at the
White Penitent's had been so interesting that he could not withdraw
himself earlier from her Majesty the Queen-mother.

Villequier started. "Are you acquainted with the Queen?" he said.
"What a surprising-being Catherine is!"

"She is indeed," answered the Abbé. "My long sojourn at Florence some
years ago made me fully acquainted with every member of the House of
Medici, and I now bring you this letter on her part, Monsieur de
Villequier."

Villequier took the paper that the Abbé handed to him, and read
apparently with some surprise. "Her Majesty," he said, "knows that I
am her devoted slave, but at the same time she cannot doubt, knowing
as she does so well your high qualities, that I will do every thing to
serve and assist you, and prevent all evil machinations against you."

"Oh, she doubts it not; she doubts it not," replied the Abbé. "She
doubts it not, Monsieur de Villequier, any more than I do; and has
written this note only in confirmation of your good intentions towards
me. However, there is one thing I wish you to do for me, Monsieur de
Villequier."

"Name it, my dear friend," exclaimed the Marquis; "but give me an
opportunity of making myself happy in gratifying your wishes."

"The fact is, Monsieur de Villequier," replied the Abbé, "that some
malicious person has been endeavouring to persuade the young Marquis
de Montsoreau, my friend, and formerly my pupil, that it was I who
intimated to the reiters the course we were pursuing to meet the Duke
of Guise, and who also intimated the facts to the King's troops at
Château Thierry, that they might have an opportunity of coming up to
rescue us and bring us hither--though they showed no great activity in
doing the first. Now, doubtless, the person who did this, if there
were any one, had the King's service solely in view, and deserved to
be highly rewarded, as he probably will be; but----"

"Doubtless," replied Villequier with a sneering smile. "But surely he
could not object to such honourable service being known."

"Of course not," replied the Abbé; "nor that he had given intimation
of the facts to, and taken his measures with, her Majesty the
Queen-mother; by an order, under whose hand the troops at Château
Thierry acted, and at whose suggestion Monsieur de Montsoreau and
his friends threw themselves into the hands of Monsieur de
Villequier.--All this her Majesty declares he did; and he could not,
of course, object to any of these things being known, except as it is
contrary to good policy and to the wishes of the Queen-mother: and
more especially contrary to every wise purpose, if he be a person
possessed of much habitual influence with the young Marquis."

"Monsieur de Boisguerin," said Villequier, seeming suddenly to break
away from the subject, but in truth following the scent as truly as
any well-trained hound, "the bishopric of Seez is at present vacant. I
know none who would fill it better than the Abbé de Boisguerin."

The Abbé drew himself up and waved his hand. "You mistake me entirely,
Monsieur de Villequier," he said. "I take no more vows. I have taken
too many already; and those, by God's grace and the good will of our
holy father the Pope, I intend to get rid of very speedily. I have
nothing to request of your Lordship at present. I know, see, and
understand your whole policy, and think you quite right in every
respect. The promises which you and the King are to give to Monsieur
de Montsoreau concerning the hand of Mademoiselle de Clairvaut can of
course be broken, changed, or modified in a moment at any future
time."

"We have no intention of breaking them," replied Villequier. "We are
acting in good faith, I can assure you."

"Doubtless," replied the Abbé, "doubtless: but they can be broken?"

"Of course," replied Villequier; "of course any thing on earth can be
broken."

"That is sufficient," replied the Abbé. "It is quite enough, Monsieur
de Villequier: I only desire to know, whether you and the King
consider it as a final arrangement, that Mademoiselle de Clairvaut is
to marry the young Lord of Montsoreau, or whether the matter is not
now as much unsettled and within your own power and grasp as ever."

"Why," replied Villequier thoughtfully, "it is, as I dare say you well
know, Monsieur l'Abbé, a very difficult thing indeed to devise any
sort of black lines, which, written down upon sheep skin, will prove
sufficiently strong to bind the actions of kings, princes, or common
men, at a future period. But it seems to me, Monsieur l'Abbé, that the
time is come when we had better be frank with each other! What is it
that you aim at? You seem not displeased to think the arrangement
doubtful or contingent; and yet I, who am not accustomed to guess very
wrongly in such matters, have entertained no doubtful suspicion that
you prompted the demand for a definite and conclusive bargain."

"I did," replied the Abbé. "When you asked to see him alone, I was
very well assured that, though a game of policy skilfully played may
occasionally afford sport to Monsieur de Villequier, you were quite as
well pleased in the present business to deal with a young and
inexperienced head as with an old and a worldly one. He sought my
opinion and advice, and, as I uniformly do when it is sought, I gave
it him sincerely, though it was against my own views and purposes.
Now, Monsieur de Villequier, I see hovering round your lips a
question, which, in whatever form of words you place it, whatever
Proteus form it may assume, will have this for its substance and
object; namely, What are the plans and purposes of the Abbé de
Boisguerin? Now, my plans and purposes are these,--remember, I do not
say my objects; the object of every man in life is one, though we all
set out upon different roads to reach it. My purpose is to serve his
Majesty and the Queen-mother far more than I have hitherto been able
to do. What I have done is a trifle; but if I detach from the party of
the League, separate for ever from the Duke of Guise, and bring over
to the royal cause Charles of Montsoreau as well as his brother, I
shall confer no trifling service, for I can now inform you, Monsieur
de Villequier, that, besides the great estates of Logères, he is lord
of all the possessions lately held by the old Count de Morly, who
amassed much treasure during the avaricious part of age, and died
little more than a week ago, leaving this young Lord the heir of all
his wealth. I have received the intelligence this very morning; so
that, what between his riches, his skill, and his courage, he is worth
any two, excepting Epernon perhaps, of the King's court."

"If you do what you say, Monsieur de Boisguerin," replied the Marquis
in a low, deep, sweet-toned voice, "you may command any thing you
please in France, bishoprics, abbeys----"

"If it rained bishoprics," replied the Abbé, "I would not wear a
mitre. I do not pretend to say, Monsieur de Villequier, that I am more
disinterested than my neighbours; that I have not great rewards in
view, and objects of importance--to me, if not to others. But these
objects are not quite fixed or determined yet, and I am not one of
those men, Monsieur de Villequier, who hesitate to render the services
first from a fear of losing the reward afterwards. I know how to make
my claims heard when the time comes for demanding; and in the present
instance, although I cannot distinctly promise to bring Charles of
Montsoreau absolutely and positively over to the King's cause, yet I
am sure of being able both to detach him from the Duke of Guise and
separate him from the faction of the League. I think, indeed, that all
three can be done: but nothing can be done unless the promise given to
his brother be made contingent. The one loves her as vehemently as the
other; and I, who know how to deal with him, can change his whole
views in an hour, or at least in a few days."

"Indeed!" said Villequier. "He is now in Paris; the trial could be
speedily made."

"I know it--" replied the Abbé, seeing the Marquis fix his eyes upon
him eagerly, thinking, perhaps, 'he has promised more than he could
perform.'

"I know it, and that is the precise reason why I have hurried on this
matter, and urged it to the present point. No time is to be lost, or I
see storms approaching, Monsieur de Villequier, that I think escape
your eyes."

"What do you intend to do?" demanded Villequier; "and what means do
you require to do it?"

"My purposes I have already told you," replied the Abbé. "The means I
require--to come to the point at once--consist of a document under
your own hand, making over to me, as far as your relationship to
Mademoiselle de Clairvaut goes, the right of disposing of her hand in
marriage to whomsoever I may think fit: that is to say, the voice for,
or the voice against, any particular candidate for her hand, when
given by me, is to be held as if given by yourself."

"This is a great thing that you demand, Monsieur de Boisguerin,"
replied Villequier, gazing in his face with no inconsiderable
surprise; "and I see not how I can give such a paper at the very same
time that I give the one which I have promised to the Marquis of
Montsoreau."

"Nothing, I fear, can be done without it," replied the Abbé; "but I
think it may be done without risk or exposure of any kind, for I in
return can bind myself not to employ that paper for nine months, by
which time all will be complete; and in both the documents you can
speak vaguely of other promises and engagements, and can declare your
great object in giving me that paper to be, the final settlement of
difficult claims, by a person in whom you have full confidence."

Villequier looked in his face with a meaning and somewhat sarcastic
smile: then turned to the note which the Queen-mother, Catharine de
Medici, had sent him; read it over again as if carelessly, but marking
every word as he did so; and then said, with somewhat of a sigh,
"Well, Monsieur de Boisguerin, pray draw up on that paper what you
think would be required."

The Abbé took up the pen and ink, and wrote rapidly for a moment or
two; while Villequier looked over his shoulder, fingering the hilt of
his dagger as he did so, in a manner which might have made the periods
of any man but the Abbé de Boisguerin, who knew as he did his
companion's habits and views, less rounded and eloquent than they
usually were. The Abbé, however, wrote on without the slightest sign
of apprehension, and at length Villequier exclaimed, "That would tie
my hands sufficiently tight, Monsieur de Boisguerin."

"Not quite, my Lord," replied the other. "I never make a covenant
without a penalty; and what I am now going to add provides that, in
case of your failing to confirm my decision, or attempting in any way
to rescind this paper and the power hereby given to me, you forfeit to
my use and benefit one hundred thousand golden crowns, to be sued for
from you in any lawful court of this kingdom."

"Nay, nay, nay!" cried Villequier, now absolutely laughing. "This is
going too far, Monsieur de Boisguerin."

"Faith, not a whit, my Lord," replied the Abbé. "I take care when men
make me promises, that they are not such as can be trifled with, at
least if I am to act upon them."

"Why, you do not suppose----" exclaimed Villequier.

"I suppose nothing, my Lord," interrupted the Abbé, "but that you are
a statesman and a courtier, and must in your day have seen more than
one promise broken."

"By some millions," replied Villequier. "I told you to speak frankly,
Monsieur de Boisguerin, and you have done so with a vengeance. I must
have my turn, too, and tell you that neither to you nor any other man
on earth will I give such a promise, without in the first place seeing
a probability of the object for which it is given being accomplished,
and, in fact, some steps taken towards the accomplishment of that
object; and, in the next place, without having a distinct notion of
the means by which it is to effect its end. That is a beautiful ring
of yours," continued the statesman, suddenly breaking away from the
subject as if to announce that what he had just said was final, but
perhaps in reality to consider what was to be the next step. "That is
a beautiful ring of yours, Monsieur de Boisguerin, and of some very
peculiar stone it seems; a large turquoise semi-transparent."

"It is an antidote against all poisons," answered the Abbé coolly,
"whether they be eaten in the savoury ragout, drunk in the racy cup,
smelt in the odour of a sweet flower, or inhaled in the balmy air of
some well-prepared apartment. My dear friends will not find me so
tender a lamb as Jeanne d'Albret."

"No, I should think not," replied Villequier with a laugh, and still
holding off from the original subject of conversation. "I should think
not, if I may judge by some of your attendants, Monsieur de
Boisguerin, for there is one of them at least, an Italian, whom I
passed in the court but now, who looks much more like the follower of
a wolf than of a lamb. He was dressed somewhat in the guise of a
wandering minstrel, with a good strong dagger, which I dare say is
serviceable in time of need."

"I have not the slightest doubt of it," replied the Abbé de Boisguerin
with the most imperturbable coolness, "though I have not had occasion
to make use of him much in that way yet. But the man's a treasure,
Monsieur de Villequier; and as to his garb the fact is, that I have
not had time yet to have it changed and made more becoming. You shall
see in a few days, Monsieur de Villequier, what a change can be
effected by razors, soap, cold water, and good clothing. He's a
complete treasure, I can assure you, and well worth any pains."

"But," said Villequier, "if you have had him so short a time as not to
be able to clothe him yet, how do you know all these magnificent
qualities?"

"It is a singular business enough," answered the Abbé. "I knew him
long ago in Italy, where he was exercising various professions: but he
had skill enough almost to cheat me, which, of course, made me judge
highly of his abilities. One day, not long ago, he presented himself
at the Château de Montsoreau, where it seems he had been upon some
vagabond excursion a week or a fortnight before. He had on the first
occasion seen and recognised me, and he now came back, having spent
all the money he had gained by selling a young Italian pipe-player to
my good cousin Charles, and being consequently in not the best
provided state. He was in hopes that I would take him into my service,
which, from ancient recollection of his character, I was very willing
to do; dismissing, however, without much ceremony, another man and a
low Italian woman whom he had brought with him. They seemed very
willing to go, it is true, and he to part with them; and my good
friend Orbi has already shown himself on more than one occasion fully
as serviceable as I had expected he would prove. My former knowledge
of him gives me means of binding him to me by very strong ties; and I
will acknowledge that never was there man to all appearance so well
calculated to remove a troublesome friend or a pertinacious enemy."

"Doubtless, doubtless," replied Villequier; "though he seems not to be
particularly strong in frame."

"But he is active," answered the Abbé, "and full of skill, and
thought, and ingenuity. But to return to what we were saying
concerning the paper, Monsieur de Villequier, which we have left
somewhat too long," added the Abbé, thinking this sort of farce had
been carried quite far enough. "Every objection that you have raised
can be overthrown at once. I ask this promise, not for my own sake,
but to satisfy this youth Charles of Montsoreau. He will trust you as
soon as the fox will the tiger; but he will trust to me implicitly, if
he believes that I have the power to aid him in obtaining her he
loves. Thus you see at once the means by which this promise is to work
to the ends that we propose. Then, as to seeing clearly what the
effect will be, I will show it to you in the very course of this
night. Read that letter, written by the young Count of Logères to his
brother, no later than yesterday evening! You see," the Abbé
continued, after Villequier had read, "he renounces all claim
whatsoever to the hand of Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, and this in
favour of his brother. The letter was brought hither not two hours
ago. Now, ere two hours more be over, you shall yourself see the whole
feelings of this young man changed, and the pursuit renewed as eagerly
as ever. If it be so, what say you? Will you go forward in the way I
propose?--Yea or nay, Monsieur de Villequier? I trifle not, nor am
trifled with."

"I will then go forward, beyond all doubt," replied the Marquis.

The Abbé thereupon took up the pen, wrote five lines on a sheet of
paper, sealed them with some of the yellow wax which lay ready,
addressed the note to Charles of Montsoreau, and placing it in the
hands of Villequier, bade him to send it by a page, with orders to
require an answer. The page seemed winged with the wind, and in a
marvellous short time he returned, bearing a note from the young Count
of Logères, containing these few words:--

"My renunciation was entirely conditional. If it be as you say,
nothing on earth shall induce me to yield the hand of Mademoiselle de
Clairvaut to any man. The time that you allow me for writing does not
permit me to say more, but come to me as early as possible to-morrow,
and let all things be explained; for a state of doubt and suspicion
was always to me worse than the knowledge of real evil or real wrong."

The Abbé gave it to Villequier, and the Minister only replied by
signing and sealing the paper which the Abbé had drawn up.

"Now, quick! Monsieur l'Abbé," said the Minister. "Go for a few
minutes to your own apartments, and then join us at supper, which I
hear is already served, as if we had not met during the evening. You
will not need your ring, I can assure you."

The Abbé bowed low and retired in silence; but in his heart he said,
"And this, the fool Henry holds to be a great politician."

No knave can be a great politician; but every knave thinks himself so.
The mistake they make is between wisdom and cunning. The knave prides
himself on deceiving others, the wise man on not deceiving himself.



                              CHAP. VI.


When the Abbé de Boisguerin on the following morning entered the
presence of Charles of Montsoreau, his mind was prepared for every
thing he was to say and do, for every thing he was to assert or
to imply. But there was one thing for which his mind was not
prepared--all shrewd, keen, politic, and experienced as it was.

There are points in the deep study of human nature which those who
would use that mighty science for selfish purposes almost always
overlook. Amongst these are the changes, both sudden and progressive,
which take place in themselves and in others, and the changes in
relative situations which they produce. In this respect it was that
the Abbé de Boisguerin, thoughtful and calculating as he was, had not
prepared himself for the meeting with Charles of Montsoreau. The time
was short since they had parted. Not above six weeks had elapsed, if
so much; and the Abbé had come ready to deal with a youth of keen and
penetrating mind, of quick perceptions and extensive powers; of all
whose feelings and thoughts he fancied that he knew the scope and
quality; whose mind he believed that he had gauged and tested as if it
were some material substance. But he knew not at all, what an effect
the space of six weeks may have when spent in communication with great
minds, and in dealing with great events; and the moment he entered the
room he saw a change which he had never dreamt of--a change which
through the mind affected the body, the countenance, and the
demeanour.

Charles of Montsoreau, in short, had left him a youth high-spirited,
feeling, intelligent, graceful,--he stood before him a man, calm,
thoughtful, grave, dignified. There were even lines of care already
upon his brow, which gave it a degree of sternness not natural to it;
and the whole look and aspect of his former pupil was so powerfully
intellectual, that the Abbé felt he must be more cautious and careful
than he had prepared to be; that his words, his thoughts, and his
looks would not alone be tested by old affection, nor even by the
simple powers of an undoubting mind, but would be tried by experience
likewise, and tried moreover with that degree of suspicion which is
more active within us when we first learn the painful lessons taught
by human deceit, than it is when we learn fully our own powers of
separating truth from falsehood.

He saw that it would be necessary to be more cautious than he had
proposed to be, and that, consequently, he must change much that he
had intended to say and do. The very caution affected his manner, and
his alteration of purposes caused occasional hesitation. Charles of
Montsoreau, who remembered his whole character and demeanour during
many years, found, without seeking it, a touchstone in the past by
which to try the present, and the conclusion in his own heart was,
"This man is not true."

The explanation given by the Abbé of all that had occurred on their
route did not satisfy his hearer. He told him that he had remained
with Mademoiselle de Clairvaut and the carriage till the reiters had
passed, and then had caused the horses to be turned into a bye-road,
in the hope of escaping any returning parties: they had thus
accidentally met with the King's troops, whose offered protection, of
course, they could not refuse. But he touched vaguely and lightly upon
the mission of Colombel to the young Marquis de Montsoreau; and the
Count de Logères did not press him upon the subject, for he felt
sufficiently upon his guard, and had a repugnance openly to convict
one whom he had loved of falseness and treachery.

He turned then to the note which he had received on the preceding
evening.

"You tell me now," he said, "Abbé, that you have some reason to
believe that Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, as I at first supposed, has
seen my affection, and did not intend to discourage it. What are those
reasons?"

The Abbé stated vaguely that some words, dropped by Madame de Saulny,
had produced that belief in his mind.

Charles of Montsoreau mused, and made no answer. The time had been
when he would have replied at once, and have discussed the question
fully with his former preceptor; but now he held counsel with his own
heart in his own bosom, and said, "This man has some object in telling
me this. Her own words were sufficiently conclusive, that she did not
see, that she did not remark, the signs of affection which I had
fancied undoubted."

He still maintained silence, however, towards the Abbé, in regard to
his own views, his own purposes, and his own feelings. Nor could the
other, though he used all his skill, draw from him the slightest
indication of what he intended to do, except that he waited in Paris
for the arrangement of some affairs, which were not yet concluded,
with the King. He in turn, however, questioned the Abbé much
concerning his brother, expressing not only a wish but a determination
to see him.

"I am happy," he said, "that my letter reached him; for--by whom or
for what reason instructed to falsify the truth, I do not know--the
porter of Monsieur de Villequier denied the fact of your being in the
house. As nothing could shake my own belief that it was Gaspar and
yourself I had seen, and as both Gondrin and the page confirmed my
opinion, I sent the letter at all risks: and now, good Abbé, if you
love Gaspar and myself as you used to do, contrive that we may meet
again to-morrow, in order that all these clouds may be cleared away
from between us, and that we may feel once more as brothers ought to
feel towards each other."

The Abbé promised to do as the young Count desired, beseeching him,
however, not to press his brother to an interview too suddenly, and
assuring him that he would use every effort.

The still more important subject of what had become of Mademoiselle de
Clairvaut remained to be discussed; and Charles of Montsoreau, though
resolved to make the inquiry, approached it with distaste and with
caution, from a feeling that the Abbé would not deal truly with him,
and would only endeavour, in the course of any conversation upon that
point, to discover what were his secret intentions, even while he
concealed from him the true circumstances.

It was as he expected. The Abbé told him that, in some degree under
the care, and in some degree under the guard, of the King's troops,
the whole party had been brought to the neighbourhood of Paris, where
a messenger from the monarch had conveyed to himself and the young
Marquis an invitation to take up their abode at the house of
Villequier, while Mademoiselle de Clairvaut was conveyed to Vincennes.
They had done all that was possible, he said, to prevent such a
separation; but the King's commands were peremptory; and he had since
learnt, or at least had reason to believe, that the young lady had
been sent in the direction of Beauvais, to the care of some distant
relations.

The young Count smiled, and said nothing; and the Abbé then, with an
air of grave sincerity, proceeded to ask him what had best be done
under such circumstances. He replied that he could give no advice; and
many a vain effort was again made to discover what were his purposes
in regard to Mademoiselle de Clairvaut. Finding that no indirect means
succeeded, the Abbé, trusting to their former familiarity, asked the
question directly, "What do you intend to do in this business,
Charles."

"Indeed, my dear Abbé," replied the young Count, "it is difficult to
tell you. I have no definite plan of action at present, and must be
guided by circumstances as they arise."

Thus ended their interview; and it formed a strange contrast to that
between the Abbé and Villequier,--showing how simple honesty may often
baffle cunning which has succeeded against astuteness like itself. The
following day passed without any communication reaching the young
Count, either from the Abbé or from his brother, from the King or the
Duke of Guise; and expectation of receiving tidings from some one
caused him to remain at home during the greater part of the day.

On the succeeding morning, however, he determined to proceed to the
house of Villequier, and to demand peremptorily the fulfilment of the
promise which the King had made. Ere he set out, however, he received
a note in the hand of the Abbé de Boisguerin, informing him briefly
that his brother, having determined to return to Montsoreau, was upon
the very point of setting out. He, the Abbé, was to accompany him for
two days' march upon the road, but would return to Paris in four or
five days without fail.

Charles of Montsoreau read the note with a faint and melancholy smile,
and again said, "This man is not true!"

He rode at once, however, to the hotel of Villequier, but found that
the minister had once more gone to Vincennes. He inquired for the
Marquis of Montsoreau of the same porter who had denied the fact of
his being there. The porter, not at all discomposed, replied that the
Marquis and the Abbé de Boisguerin, with their train, had set out
fully two hours before for Montl'hery; which, being confirmed upon
farther inquiry by an Italian confectioner on the opposite side of the
street, was believed by the young Count, who returned home with a
heart but ill at ease.

Another day was passed in gloomy and impatient expectation; but at
night Gondrin reappeared from Soissons, bringing with him a brief note
from the Duke of Guise:--

"Your interview," it said, "was such as might be expected; your
conduct all that it should have been; your view of the result right.
They are endeavouring to trifle both with you and me; but we must show
them that this cannot be done. I send off a courier at once to
Villequier, requiring that the King's authorisation shall be
immediately given to you. If it reach you not before to-morrow night,
I pray you set off at once with the passports you possess for
Chateauneuf; for I have information scarcely to be doubted, that our
poor Marie has been conveyed thither. Show her the letter which I gave
you, requiring her to follow your directions in every thing. Endeavour
to bring her at once, with what people you can collect upon her lands,
across the country towards Rheims, avoiding Paris. If any one stops
you, or attempts either to delay your progress or dispute your
passage, show them my letter of authority, as well as the passports
that you already possess; and if they farther molest or delay you,
they shall not be forgotten, be they great or small, when they come to
reckon with your friend, Henry of Guise."

In a postscript was written at the bottom--"In going, avoid Dreux and
Montfort, for the plague is raging there. If there be any force
stationed at Chateauneuf to prevent the removal of Mademoiselle de
Clairvaut, only ascertain distinctly the fact of her presence in the
château, and come back to rejoin me with all speed."

The tidings brought by Gondrin showed Charles of Montsoreau that great
events of some kind were in preparation. Various bodies of troops
attached to the House of Lorraine were moving here and there in
Champaign and the Ardennes; daily conferences were held between the
Duke of Guise, the Cardinal of Bourbon, the Cardinal of Guise, and a
number of other influential noblemen; the propriety of deposing the
King was said to be openly discussed at Soissons, and ridicule and
hatred were unsparingly busy with the names of Epernon, Villequier,
and others. Couriers, totally independent of those which were sent
upon the business that brought the young Count to Paris, were almost
hourly passing between the capital and Soissons; and it was daily
whispered in the latter city, that experienced officers and small
bodies of troops were daily gliding into the capital from the army
which the Duke had led to victory on so many previous occasions.

Early on the following morning, Charles of Montsoreau again proceeded
to the Hotel de Villequier, in order that nothing might be wanting on
his part. But the reply once more was, that the minister was absent;
and the day passed over without any tidings from either the King or
his favourite. As he passed through various parts of the city,
however, the young Count remarked many things that somewhat surprised
him. He had hitherto ridden amongst the people quite unnoticed, but
now many persons whom he met bowed low to him, and those seemingly of
the most respectable classes of citizens. On two or three occasions
the burgher guard saluted him as he passed; and in one place, where
several people were collected together, there was a cry of "Long live
the Duke of Guise!"

All these indications of some approaching event of importance at any
other moment might have given him an inclination to remain in Paris:
but he had other interests more deeply at heart; and having waited
till the last moment to make sure that the King's authorisation was
still delayed, he prepared to set out that very night, taking with him
only the number of persons specified in the passports which he had
brought from Soissons.

In a brief and hurried note which he wrote to Chapelle Marteau, he
informed him that he was about to absent himself from Paris for a
short time on business of importance; and begged him, as it was his
intention to pass out of the city by the Faubourg St. Germain that
very night, to facilitate his so doing as quietly as possible. That
his absence might remain for some time concealed from those who might
obstruct his proceedings, he retained his apartments at the inn, and
the servants he had hired, paying the whole for some time in advance,
and directing that if any inquiries were made, the reply should be,
that he was only absent for a few days.

When all was prepared he set out, and at the gates found his friend of
the Seize, with another personage, who seemed to consider himself of
great importance. No words, however, were spoken, no passports were
demanded, the two Leaguers bowed lowly to the Count, the gates opened
as if of themselves, and, issuing forth, the young Count rode on upon
the way, anxious to place as great a distance between Paris and
himself ere the next morning as possible.

It was a soft calm night in April, the sky was unclouded and filled
with stars, the dew thick upon the grass, and the air balmy; and the
young nobleman pursued his way with a mind filled with thoughts which,
though certainly in part melancholy, were still tinged with the soft
light of hope. His horses were strong and fresh, and just in the grey
of the morning, on the following day, he reached the small town of
Rambouillet.

The signs and indications of the disturbed and anxious state of
society in France were visible in the little town as the young Count
gazed from the door of the inn, after seeing that his horses were well
taken care of. There were anxious faces and eyes regarding the
stranger with the expression of doubt, and perhaps suspicion; there
were little knots gathered together and talking gloomily at the
corners of different streets; the whistle of the light-hearted peasant
was unheard; and the cart or the flock was driven forth in silence.

The Count's horses required rest; none were to be procured with which
he could pursue his journey, and he determined to take what repose he
could get ere he proceeded on his way. Casting himself down then upon
a bed, he closed his eyes and sought to sleep: but suddenly something
like a wild cry sounded from the other side of the street, and
springing up he looked out of the window. He could almost have touched
the opposite house, so narrow was the way, and he saw completely into
a room thereof through the window that faced his own.

There was a woman in it of about the middle age, kneeling by the
bedside of a youth who seemed just dead; and on looking down a little
below he saw a man, dressed in a black serge robe, standing on a
ladder, and marking the front of the building with a large white
cross. On the impulse of the moment, Charles of Montsoreau ran down
stairs, and approached the door of the house, intending to enter. But
he was stopped at the door by two of the guards of the city. "Do you
not see the mark of the plague?" they said. "You must not go in; or,
if you go in, you must not come out again."

With a sorrowful heart, Charles of Montsoreau turned back into the
inn, but he found no sleep, and the image of the woman clasping her
dead son still haunted him in waking visions.



                              CHAP. VII.


It was about nine o'clock at night, and the moon, rising later than
the night before, had not yet gone down, as Charles of Montsoreau
passed through the wide forest that then surrounded Chateauneuf en
Thimerais. It was a beautiful moonlight scene, affording to the eye
many various and pleasant objects. The greater part of the forest,
indeed, consisted of old trees far apart from each other, and only
surrounded by brushwood in patches here and there. Occasionally,
indeed, deeper and thicker parts of the forest presented themselves,
where the axe had not been plied so unsparingly; but the ground was
hilly and broken, and the road ascended and descended continually,
showing every change of the forest ground. There were manifold streams
too in that part of the country, and small gushing fountains, while a
chapel or two, here and there raised by the pious inhabitants of the
neighbourhood, broke the desolate appearance of the wood by showing
sweet traces of human hope or gratitude. The heart, however, of
Charles of Montsoreau enjoyed not that scene as it might at any other
time, for many dark and painful reports had reached him of the state
of the country in that district, and he looked anxiously forward to
his arrival at the little village of Morvillette seated in the midst
of the forest, to hear further tidings of Chateauneuf and its
neighbourhood. A party of soldiers he had already heard had passed
along some days before, escorting a carriage, and it was understood
their destination was Chateauneuf; but the people of Tremblay, where
he received this intelligence, shook the head doubtingly, and added,
that the traveller would hear more at Morvillette, and could there get
a guide to the château, which was two miles from the town.

At length, lying in a hollow of the woodland, the moonlight showed him
a group of dark cottages; but no friendly light appeared in the
windows; and as he rode on amongst the houses, there was a sort of
awful stillness about the place, which seemed to indicate that it was
not slumber that kept the tongues of the peasantry silent. There were
no dogs in the streets; there was no smoke curling up from any of the
chimneys; all was still, and many of the doors stood wide open in the
night air, exhibiting nothing but solitude within.

"There must be somebody in the place," cried Gondrin, springing from
his horse and approaching one of the cottages, the door of which was
shut.

Without knocking, the man threw open the door at once, and went in as
far as the bridle of his horse would let him; but he came out again
immediately, and his master could see that his face was pale and its
expression horrified.

"A man and a woman," he said in a low voice, "both dead! the one in
the bed and the other on the floor, and both of them looking as blue
as a cloud."

The boy Ignati pressed up his horse to hear; and the Count said, "In
all probability there may be things still more horrible before us. I
shall go on, Gondrin; I must go on: but there is no need for either
yourself or the page to do so. You had better both go back. Make the
best of your way to Soissons, there tell the Duke what you have seen,
and assure him that I will do my best to fulfil his wishes if I live."

"My Lord," said the boy, "I might quit you for a kind and noble master
when danger was not about you, but I will only quit you now with
life."

"And so say I," replied Gondrin in a somewhat reassured but still
anxious tone. "But let us ride on, my Lord, and get out of this
horrible place. We shall find no one here to show us the way."

"I believe I can find it myself," replied the Count. "We turn to the
left as soon as we have passed the village. Come on!"

Thus saying, he somewhat quickened his pace and rode away, the moon
now declining towards her setting, throwing longer shadows, and giving
more uncertain light. Anxiously did the young Count gaze from the brow
of every rise, hoping to see the form of the château rising upon the
eminence before him. Several times he disappointed himself by fancying
that he saw it when it was not there, so that, when at length he
beheld a single faint point of light, like the spark of a firefly
amongst the distant branches, he could scarcely believe that it
afforded any true indication of that which he sought.

Riding on, however, he again and again caught sight of it, till at
length the forms of the building grew more clear and defined, and
after about half a mile more he rode up the gentle slope that
conducted towards the château.

It was situated in the midst of a wild game park, not unlike that of
Vincennes, only that the ground was more irregular. The building,
however, was very different: it had been erected by that Count de
Clairvaut who had been sent ambassador in the reign of Henry II. to
the Republic of Venice. He had formed his ideas of beauty in
architecture under another sky, and, but that it was somewhat larger
and heavier, it might have been supposed that the building had been
transported by some Geni from the banks of the Brenta. There was a
strong old castellated gate, however, in the walls of the park, which
had belonged to some former building. But the heavy iron gates were
wide open, and the voice of no porter responded to the call of the
young Count and his companions.

Still, however, he saw a light in the windows of the château, and he
eagerly rode on along the path which conducted to the principal gates
of the building. Here there was a wide flight of marble stairs, which
had been brought ready polished at an immense expense from Italy,
yellow and green with the damp, but still altogether of a different
hue and consistence from the ordinary stone of the place. From those
steps the wide forest scene beyond was fully displayed to the eye, the
château being built very near the highest point of the acclivity, and
the whole ground towards Dreux, Maintenon, and Chartres lying below,
with the forest itself sweeping down the edge of that chain of high
hills which separates the southern parts of Normandy from the northern
parts and Maine.

The moon at that moment was just sinking beyond the trees on the left,
and poured over the woods and plains below a flood of silver light,
caught and reflected here and there by some open stream or wide piece
of water, and, shining full upon the front of the marble building,
which, with its pillars, its capitals, and its cornices, its wide
doors and spreading porticoes, looked like the spectre of some bright
enchanted palace from another land.

The large doors that opened upon the terrace were ajar; and Charles of
Montsoreau, leaving his horse with the page, mounted the steps and
knocked hard with the haft of his dagger. A long melancholy echo was
all the sound that was returned. He knocked again, there was no
answer; and then pushing open the door, he entered the wide marble
hall. The moonlight was pouring through the tall windows, but all was
solitary; and putting his foot upon the first step of the staircase,
he was beginning to ascend. At that moment, he thought he heard a
distant sound as of an opening door; and a ray of light, streaming
down some long corridor at the top of the broad staircase, crossed the
balustrade and chequered the iron work with a different hue from the
moonlight. He now called loudly, asking if there was any one in the
building.

In a moment after, there were steps heard coming along towards the
staircase, and a voice replied, "There is death and pestilence in the
house. If you come for plunder, take it quickly; if you come by
accident, fly as fast as you may, for every breath is tainted."

The tones of that voice were not to be mistaken, even before Charles
of Montsoreau beheld the speaker; but, ere the last words were spoken,
Marie de Clairvaut herself was at the top of the staircase, bearing a
small lamp in her hand, and Charles of Montsoreau eagerly sprang up
the steps.

The lamp flashed upon the form and features which she had not at first
seen, and with a loud cry she darted forward to meet him.

The next moment, however, nearly dropping the lamp, she rushed back,
exclaiming, "Come not near, Charles! Dear, dear Charles, come not
near! These hands, not twelve hours ago, have closed the eyes of the
dead. The plague most likely is upon me now!"

But before she could add more, the arms of Charles of Montsoreau were
round her.

"You have called me dear," he said, "and what privilege can be dearer
than sharing your fate, whatever it may be? Dear, dear, dear Marie!
oh, say those words again, and make me happy!"

"But I fear for you, Charles," she said; "I fear for you. All are
either dead or have fled and left me, and I shall see you die
too,--you, you die also by the very touch, by the very breath, of one
to whom you have restored life."

"I fear not, Marie," answered Charles; "I fear not; and that is the
safest guard. Certainly you shall not see me fly and leave you; and I
fear not, either, that you will see death overtake me. But oh, if even
it did, how sweet would death itself be, watched by that dear face,
wept by those beloved eyes!"

Marie bent down her head, and said nothing; but she strove no more
against the arm that was cast round her; her hand remained in his, and
the colour rose warmly into her cheek, which had before been deadly
pale.

"If," she said at length, after a long pause, during which he had
continued to gaze earnestly, fondly, sadly upon her,--"If it were not
that I feared for you, your presence would indeed be a comfort and a
consolation to me: not that I fear for myself," she added; "I know not
why, but I have never feared. It has seemed to me as if there were no
danger to myself--as if I should certainly escape. But oh, how
terrible it would be to see you struck by the pestilence also!"

"Say no more, dear Marie; say no more," replied Charles of Montsoreau,
feeling and knowing by every word that she was his own. "I fear not; I
have no fear; and even if I had, love would trample it under foot in a
moment. I would not leave you in such an hour, not if by descending
that short flight of steps I could save myself from death: unless
indeed you told me to go, and that you loved me not."

The tears sprang into Marie de Clairvaut's eyes. "I must not tell such
a falsehood," she cried, clasping her hands together, "in an hour like
this. I never told you so; indeed I never did, though Madame de
Saulny, poor Madame de Saulny, with her dying lips assured me that you
thought so."

"There have been many errors, dear Marie," replied Charles of
Montsoreau, "which have pained both your heart and mine, I fear. But
now, my beloved, I must call in those that are with me, for we have
travelled far and ridden hard."

"Oh, call them not in!" said Marie de Clairvaut, "for they will be
frightened when they see the state of the house, and catch the
pestilence and die! Bid them lead their horses to the stables, and
sleep there. Perhaps they may find some one still living there, for
this evening at sunset I saw my father's old groom still wandering
about as usual; but you must go yourself to tell them, Charles, for I
do not believe that there is any one in the house but you and I. The
stables lie away to the left. I will wait here for you till you come
back. Go through the great doors," she said, as he descended, "and go
not into the rooms either to the right or left, for there is death in
all of them."

Charles of Montsoreau descended with a rapid step, and in a few words
gave his directions to the servants. He then returned, and taking
Marie de Clairvaut's hand in his, he pressed his lips warmly upon it,
and gazed tenderly upon her as she led him along through a wide
corridor to the room in which she had been sitting.

It formed a strange contrast,--the aspect of that room, with the
desolate knowledge that all was death and solitude through the rest of
the house. Beautiful pictures, rich ornaments, fine tapestry, gave it
an air of life and cheerfulness, which seemed strange to the feelings
of Charles of Montsoreau. But an illuminated book of prayer that lay
upon the table told how Marie de Clairvaut's thoughts had been
employed; and Charles of Montsoreau paused, and, lifting his thoughts
to Heaven, prayed earnestly, fervently, that that bright and beautiful
and beloved being might still be protected by the hand of the Almighty
in every scene of peril and danger which might yet await her.

She sat down on the chair in which she had been reading with a look of
melancholy thoughtfulness, and Charles of Montsoreau sat down beside
her, and there was a long silent pause, for the hearts of both were
too full of agitating feelings for words to be plentiful at first. The
moment and the circumstances, indeed, took from love all shame and
hesitation. Death and deprivation and desolation gave affection a
brighter, a holier light,--it was like some eternal flame burning upon
the altar of a ruined temple.

Marie de Clairvaut felt that at that moment she could speak things
that at any other time she would have sunk into the earth to say; she
felt that--with the exception of their trust in God--his love for her
and hers for him formed the grand consolation of the moment, the
healing balm, the great support of that hour of peril and of terror.
She looked at him and he at her, and they mutually thought that a few
hours perhaps might see them there, dying or dead by each other's
side, with love for the only comfort of their passing hour--with the
voice of death pronouncing their eternal union, and the grave their
bridal bed.

They thus thought, and it may seem strange to say, but--prepared as
their minds were for leaving the life of this earth behind them--such
a death to them appeared sweet; and neither feared it, but looked
forward upon the grim enemy of human life, not with the stern defying
frown of the martyr, not with the fierce and angry daring of the
warrior, but with the calm sweet smile of resignation to the will of
Heaven, and hopes beyond the tomb.

Thus they remained silent, or with but few words, for some time; and
Charles of Montsoreau felt that he was beloved. Indeed, there was not
a word, there was not a look, that did not tell him so: and yet he
longed to hear more; he longed that those words should be spoken which
would confirm, by the living voice of her he loved, the assurance of
his happiness. Gradually he won her from conversing of the present to
speak of the past; and she gently reproached him for leaving her at
Montsoreau so suddenly as he had done.

"Marie," he said, with that frankness which had always characterised
him, "let me tell you all; and then see if I did right or wrong. If I
did wrong, you shall blame me still, and I will grieve and make any
atonement in my power; but if I only mistook, and did not act wrong
intentionally, you shall forgive me, and tell me that you love me."

Marie de Clairvaut gazed in his face, and asked, "And do you doubt it
now, Charles?"

"Oh, no!" he cried, "oh, no! I ought not to doubt it, for Marie de
Clairvaut could not speak such words as she has spoken without
loving." And gently bending down his head over her, he pressed a kiss
upon that dear fair brow. "Marie," he said, "it is our fate to meet in
strange scenes. The last time that I kissed that brow, the last time
that I held you to my heart, was when I thought you dead, and lost to
me for ever."

"And when I woke up," replied Marie de Clairvaut, "and was not only
grateful to God and to you for having saved me, but happy in its being
you that did save me, and happy," she added, slightly dropping her
eyes, "in the signs of deep affection which I saw."

"And yet," he exclaimed, "and yet, when my stay or my departure hung
upon a single word from your lips, you gave me to understand that you
had not received those signs of affection as signs of affection; that
you looked upon them but as the natural effect of my witnessing your
restoration to life, when I thought you dead."

"Oh, Charles!" exclaimed Marie de Clairvaut, with a slight smile,
"could you not pardon and understand such small hypocrisy as that? Did
you not know that woman's heart is shy, and seeks many a hiding-place,
even from the pursuit of one it loves?"

"I never loved but you, Marie," replied the Count, "and I am sadly
ignorant, I fear, of woman's heart. Nevertheless, upon those few words
and that moment depended my fate."

"I knew not that," cried Marie de Clairvaut, eagerly; "I knew not
that, or, upon my honour, I would have been more sincere: but what was
it, Charles, made you take so sudden a resolution? what was it made
you leave me, without a reply, in the hands of those who have striven
constantly ever since to make me believe that you cared not for me?"

"I will tell you all," replied her lover; and, pouring forth in
eloquent words all the passion of his heart towards her, he told her
how his love had grown upon him, how it had increased each hour; and
making that the main subject of his tale, he told but as adjuncts to
it the pain which his brother's conduct had inflicted upon him, and
all the signs of rivalry which he had remarked. He then spoke of his
conversation with the Abbé de Boisguerin on their way to visit the
Count de Morly; and he told how agonised were all his feelings--how
terrible was the struggle in his heart,--and what was the resolution
that he took, to ascertain whether her affections were really gained,
and by the result to shape his conduct. He next spoke of his
conversation with her immediately preceding his departure, and of the
words which had led him to believe that she was unconscious of his
love, and did not return it.

As she listened, the tears rose in her eyes, and, laying her soft fair
hand on his, she said, "Forgive me, Charles! oh, forgive me! but do
believe that there is not another woman on all the earth who would not
have done the same."

"Alas! dear Marie," he replied, "in such knowledge you have but a
child to deal with."

"Oh, be so ever, Charles!" she cried, clasping her hands and looking
up in his face. "There may be women who would love you less for being
so; but I trust and hope that you will never love any one but Marie de
Clairvaut, and she will value your love all the more for its being,
and having ever been, entirely her own. But you were speaking of the
Abbé de Boisguerin, Charles--you have told me of his conversation with
you--I saw, when I was at Montsoreau, that you loved and esteemed
him."--She paused, and hesitated. "I fear," she added, "that what I
must speak, that what I ought to tell you, may pain and grieve you:--I
doubt that man, Charles--I more than doubt him."

"And so do I, Marie," replied her lover with a melancholy shake of the
head; "and so do I doubt him much. Indeed, as you say, I more than
doubt him, for I know and feel that he is not true."

"Alas! Charles," she replied, "I fear that in that very first
conversation with you he meditated treachery towards you. I fear much,
very much, that his design and purpose even then was to separate us."

"Perhaps it might be so, Marie," replied her lover: "though he has
never shown any strong preference, I have often thought he loves
Gaspar better than he does me."

"But it was no love of your brother, Charles," she said; "it was no
love of your brother moved him then; for if your brother trusted him,
he betrayed him too. Now hear me, Charles, and let me, as quickly as
possible, tell a tale that makes my cheek burn, for it must be told.
After you were gone, I avoided your brother's presence as far as might
be. I was never with him for a moment alone if I could help it, for I
could not but see feelings that were never to be returned. Although
there was something from the first in the Abbé de Boisguerin that I
loved not, though I could not tell why--something in his eye that made
me shrink into myself with a kind of fear,--I now courted him to be
with me, in order to avoid the persecution of love for which I could
not feel even grateful. At first he seemed inclined to give your
brother opportunities; and I believe, I firmly believe, that he did so
because he knew that those opportunities would but serve to confirm
the coldness of my feelings towards him. When he saw that I sought him
to be with us, he seemed to yield, and was now with me often almost
alone, when there was none but one or two of my women in the further
end of the room. He timed his visits well; and, for a space, well did
he choose his conversation too. It was such as he knew must please my
ear. He told me of other lands, and of princely scenes beyond the
Alps, the beauties of nature, the miracles of art, the graceful but
dangerous race of the Medici, the treasures, the unrivalled treasures
of Florence and of Rome. I learned to forget the prejudices--I had
first taken towards him, and he saw that I listened well pleased, and
then he ventured to speak of you and of your brother. But oh, Charles,
he spoke not as a friend to either. He blamed not, indeed; he even
somewhat praised; but he undervalued all and every thing. There was
not a word of censure, but there was every now and then a light sneer
in the tone, a scornful turn of the lip, and curl of the nostril. It
pleased me not, and seeing it, he wisely dropped such themes. He spoke
of you no more; but he spoke of himself and of his own history. He
told me that his was the more ancient branch of your own family, but
that reverses and misfortunes had overtaken it; and that, careless of
wealth or station, and any of the bubbles which the world's grown
children follow, he had made no effort to raise his own branch from
the ground to which it had fallen. But he said, however, that if he
had had an object, a great and powerful object, he felt within himself
those capabilities of mind which might raise him over some of the
highest heads in the land: and none could hear his voice, and see the
keen astuteness of his eye, without believing that what he said was
true. And then again he spoke of the objects, the few, the only
objects, which could induce a man of great and expansive intellect to
mingle in the strife and turmoil of the world; and the chief of those
objects, Charles, was woman's love. He was a churchman, Charles, and
had taken vows which should have frozen such words upon his lips. I
was silent, and I think turned pale, and he instantly changed the
conversation to other things, speaking eloquently and nobly upon great
and fine feelings, as I have seen one of the modellers in wax cast on
the rough harsh form that he intended to give, and then soften it down
with fine and delicate touches, so as to leave it smooth and pleasant
to the eye. At length we set out to join my uncle; and your brother
now had opportunities of paining me greatly by the open and the
rash display of feelings that grieved and hurt me. He took means
too to find moments to speak with me alone, which I must not dwell
upon--means which were unworthy of one of your race, Charles. He tried
to deceive me into such interviews by every sort of petty art; and if
the Abbé de Boisguerin came to my relief, alas! it was but now to
inflict upon me worse persecution. He dared to speak to me, Charles,
words that none had ever dared to speak before--words that I must not
repeat, that I must not even think of here, so near the holy calmness
of the dead. These words were not, indeed, addressed to me directly;
but they were used to figure forth what were the passions which an
ardent and fiery heart might feel. They were intended evidently to let
me know of what he himself was capable: though they breathed of love,
there was somewhat of menace in them likewise. The very sound of his
voice, the very glare of his eyes, now became terrible to me: but he
seemed to consider that I was more in his power now than I had been at
Montsoreau; and I need not tell you that to me the journey was a
terrible one. To end it all, Charles--as I take it for granted that
you know some part of what has taken place, even by seeing you here
this night--I feel sure that it was by his machinations that I was
betrayed into the hands of the King, whom I have all my life been
taught to abhor, and by him given up to the power of a relation, from
whom I have been sheltered by all my better friends as from the most
venomous of serpents."

Charles of Montsoreau had heard all in deep silence, without
interrupting her once. He gazed indeed, from time to time, upon her
fair face, watching with love and admiration the bright but transient
expressions that came across it: but he listened with full attention
and deep thought; and when she had done, he replied, "What you have
told me, dear Marie, indignant as it well may make me, was most
necessary for me to hear, and is most satisfactory, for it explains
all that I did not before comprehend or understand. His machinations,
however, dear Marie, I now trust are at an end. What may be between
Villequier and him I do not know; but I trust, dear Marie, I trust in
that God who never does fail them that trust in him, that I come to
bring you deliverance and to lead you to happiness. It would be long
and tedious to tell you, beloved, all that has happened to me since I
left you at Montsoreau. Suffice it that I have seen the Duke of Guise;
that I have spent the greater part of the time with him; that I have
been able, Marie, to serve him--he says, to save his life; and that to
me he has entrusted the charge of seeking you and bringing you to join
him at Soissons, in despite of any one that may oppose us."

"Oh, joy, joy!" cried Marie de Clairvaut. "When can we set out?" And
she rose from her seat as if she hoped their departure might take
place that minute. Charles of Montsoreau drew her gently to his heart,
and, gazing into her deep tender eyes, he asked, "Will your joy be
less, dear Marie, if you know that you go to be at once the bride of
Charles of Montsoreau, with the full consent of your princely
guardian, given by one who is well worthy to give, to one who is
scarcely worthy to receive, such a jewel as yourself?"

Marie de Clairvaut hid her face upon his bosom, murmuring, in a
scarcely audible tone, "Can you ask me, Charles?--But oh, let us speed
away quickly; for though I, who have been here now several days, and
have seen nothing but death and desolation round me ever since I came,
have become accustomed to the scene, and doubtless to the air also,
yet I fear for every moment that you remain here."

"I still fear not, dear Marie," replied Charles of Montsoreau.
"Nevertheless, most glad am I to bear you away to happier scenes; and
as soon as the horses have taken some rest, we will set out. And now,
dear girl," he added, "I will send you from me. You need some repose,
Marie; you need some tranquillity. Leave me then, dear girl, and try
to sleep till the hour of our departure, while I will watch here for
you, and call you before break of day."

"If you watch, Charles," replied Marie, "I will watch with you, for I
need not repose. This morning, after closing the eyes of poor Madame
de Saulny, and weeping long and bitterly over her and the poor girl
who was the only one that chose to remain with me, exhausted with
watching, anxiety, and grief, I fell asleep, and slept long. Before
that, I had felt so weary and so heated, that I almost fancied--though
without fearing it--that the plague might be coming upon me; but I
woke refreshed and comforted just as the sun was going down, and I
felt, as it were, a hope and expectation that some change would soon
come over my fate. But you need at least refreshment, Charles. In the
next room remains my last untasted meal--the last that the poor
frightened beings who abandoned me, set before their mistress
yesterday. I fear not to take you there, Charles, for no one has died
in this part of the house."

Charles of Montsoreau followed her, and persuaded her also to take
some light refreshment; and there they sat through the live-long
night, speaking kind words from time to time, and watching each
other's countenances with hope strong at the hearts of both, though
somewhat chequered by fears, each for the other.



                             CHAP. VIII.


By the time that the first grey streak chequered the dark expanse of
the eastern sky, the horses of Charles of Montsoreau, with three
others, were standing on the terrace at the foot of the marble
steps. The page and Gondrin were there, and also the old groom, a
white-headed man of some sixty years of age, who had booted and
spurred himself, and buckled on a sword, declaring that he would
accompany his young mistress, if it were but to lead the sumpter horse
which carried her baggage. A moment after, Marie herself appeared, and
Charles of Montsoreau placed her on the beast that had been prepared
for her, while the old groom kissed her hand, saying, "I am glad to
see you well, dear lady. But fear not; none of your race and none of
mine ever died of the plague either, though I have seen it pass by
this place twice before now, and I remember eleven corpses lying on
those steps at once."

"There are six within those chambers now," replied Marie, shaking her
head mournfully. "But I fear not, good Robin,--for myself at least.
But you had better lead the way towards Chalet, for the Count tells me
that Morvillette is deserted."

"Oh, I will lead you safely, Lady," replied the old man; "and though
very likely they may keep us out of many a house on account of where
we come from, there is my daughter's cottage where they will take us
in, for they do not fear the plague there."

Thus saying, he mounted his horse, and rode on before, through the
forest roads, while the lady and her lover followed side by side. As
they went on circling round the highest parts of the hills, the grey
streaks gradually turned into crimson; the dim objects became more
defined in the twilight of morning; a few far distant clouds at the
edge of the sky, tossed into fantastic shapes, began to glow like the
burning masses of a furnace; the crimson floated like the waves of a
sea up towards the zenith; the fiery red next became mingled with
bright streaks of gold; the forest world, just budding into light
green, was seen below with its multitude of hills and dales, and rocks
and streams; the air blew warm and sweet, and full of all the balm of
spring; and a thousand birds burst forth on every tree, and carolled
joyous hymns to the dawning day.

Never broke there a brighter morning upon earth; never rose the sun in
greater splendour; never was the air more balmy, or the voices of the
birds more sweet. It seemed as if all were destined to afford to those
two lovers the strongest, the strangest, the brightest contrast to the
dark dull night of anxiety and emotion which they had passed within
the palace they had just left behind them. It seemed to both as an
image of the dawn of immortality after the tomb--anxiety, sorrow,
danger, death, left behind, and brightness and splendour spread out
before.

Each instinctively drew in the rein as the sun's golden edge was
raised above the horizon; each gazed in the countenance of the other,
as if to see that no trace of the pestilence was there; and each held
out the hand to grasp that of the being most loved on earth, and then
they raised their eyes to Heaven in thankfulness and joy.

The old man led them on with scarcely a pause towards Chalet; but
about a mile from that place he turned to a little hamlet near, where,
in a good farm-house inhabited by his daughter and her husband, they
found their first resting-place. They were gladly received and
heartily welcomed, without the slightest appearance of fear, though
the circumstances of their flight were known. The farmer and the
farmer's wife set before them the best of all they had, the children
served them at the table, and the good woman of the house brought
forth a large flask of plague water, and made them drink abundantly,
assuring them that it was a sovereign antidote that was never known to
fail. They then assigned a room to each, and though it was still
daylight they gladly retired to rest. Charles of Montsoreau, though
much fatigued, slept not for near an hour, but the house was all kept
quiet and still, and, with his thoughts full of her he loved, he
fancied and trusted that she was sleeping calmly near him, and in an
earnest prayer to Heaven he called down blessings on her slumber. At
length sleep visited his own eyes, and he rose refreshed and well.
Some fears, some anxieties still remained in his bosom till he again
saw the countenance of Marie de Clairvaut. When he did see it,
however, fears on her account vanished altogether, for the paleness
which had overspread her face the night before had been banished by
repose, and the soft warm glow of health was once more upon her cheek.
He saw the same anxious look of inquiry upon her countenance; and oh!
surely there is something not only sweet and endearing, but elevating
also, in the knowledge of such mutual thoughts and cares for each
other; something that draws forth even from scenes of pain and peril a
joy tender and pure and high for those who love well and truly!

"Fear not, dear Marie," he said; "fear not; for I feel well, and you
too look well, so that I trust the danger is over."

"Pray God it be!" said Marie de Clairvaut. "But now, when you will,
Charles, I am ready to go on; we may soon reach Maintenon."

"We must avoid the road by Maintenon," replied Charles of Montsoreau,
"for that would bring us on the lands of the grasping Duke of Epernon,
and we could not run a greater risk. Chartres itself is doubtful; but
we must take our way thither, and act according to circumstances.
However, dear Marie, our next journey must be long and fatiguing:
would it not be better for you to stay here to-night, and take as much
repose as you can obtain before you go on?"

"Oh no," replied Marie de Clairvaut; "I am well and strong now, and
eager to get forward out of all danger. The bright moon will soon be
rising, the sun has not yet set, and we may have five or six hours of
calm light to pursue our way."

Her wishes were followed; and they were soon once more upon their way
towards the fair old town of Chartres. Their former journey had passed
greatly in thought, for deep emotions lay fresh upon their hearts, and
burthened them: but now they spoke long and frequently upon every part
of their mutual situation. The history of every event that had
happened to either, since they had parted at Montsoreau, was told and
dwelt upon with all its details: and while the love of Charles of
Montsoreau for his fair companion certainly did not diminish, every
word that fell from his lips, every act that she heard him relate, and
the manner of relating it also, increased in her bosom that love which
she had at first perceived with shame, but in which she now began to
take a pride as well as a joy.

Nor, indeed, did his conduct and demeanour to herself in the
circumstances which surrounded them--circumstances of some difficulty
and delicacy--change one bright feeling of her heart towards him.
There was very much of that tenderness in his nature, that soft, that
gentle kindness, which, when joined with courage and strength, is more
powerful on the affections of woman than, perhaps, any other quality;
and her feelings were changed and rendered more devoted by being
dependent upon him for every thing--protection, and consolation, and
support, and affection, and all those little cares and kindnesses
which their mutual situation enabled him to show.

Thus they journeyed on for several hours, and at length reached the
town of Chartres, having agreed to pass for brother and sister, as the
safest means of escaping observation. It was about eleven o'clock at
night when they reached the inn, but they were received with all
kindness and hospitality, such as innkeepers ever show to those who
seem capable of paying for good treatment. No questions were asked,
supper was set before them, and the night passed over again in ease
and comfort. Every hour, indeed, that went by without displaying any
sign of illness was in itself a joy; and there was a stillness and a
quietness about the old town of Chartres which seemed to quiet all
fears of annoyance or interruption.

Charles of Montsoreau was early up, and was waiting for the appearance
of Marie de Clairvaut, when the landlord of the inn appeared to inform
him that a horse-litter, which he had ordered to be ready for his
inspection, had been brought into the court-yard, and was waiting for
him to see. At that moment, however, there was a flourish of trumpets
in the street; and, looking forth from the window, the young Count saw
a considerable band of mounted soldiers, drawn up, as if about to
proceed on their march.

"My sister," he said, turning to the host, "has not yet risen, and she
must see the litter, too, as it is for her convenience. But who are
these gallant gentlemen before the house, and whither are they going?"

"Why, you might know them, sir, by their plumes and their scarfs,"
replied the host. "They are a body of the light horse of the guard of
the Queen-mother. They are easily distinguished, I ween."

"Ay, but I am a rustic from the provinces," replied the young
nobleman: "but they seem gallant-looking soldiers."

"The Captain was making manifold inquiries about you and the young
lady who arrived last night," replied the landlord, "for he has come
with orders to seek and bring back to Paris some young lady and
gentleman that have made their escape lately with eight or nine
attendants. But when I told him that you were going to Paris, not
coming from it, and that you had only three servants with you, and the
young lady was your sister, he said it was not the same, and is now
going on. But I must go, lest he should ask for me."

"Well, well," answered the young Count with an air of indifference. "I
will be down presently to see the litter; let it wait."

He watched, however, with some anxiety the departure of the body of
light horse, for though he did not feel by any means sure that it was
himself whom they sought, he did not feel at all secure till the last
faint note of their trumpets was heard, as they issued forth from one
of the further gates of Chartres. As soon as Marie de Clairvaut
appeared, he purchased the litter without much hesitation, and
determined to proceed with all speed towards Dourdan and Corbeil.

The host of the inn would have fain had them stay some time longer,
for the young Count had paid so readily for the litter, that he judged
some gold might be further extracted from his purse. He asked him,
therefore, whether there was nothing in the good town of Chartres to
excite his curiosity, and was beginning a long list of marvels; but
Charles of Montsoreau cut him short, saying, as he looked up at the
sign covered with fleurs-de-lis, "No, no, my good host. I have much
business on my hands in which his Majesty is not a little concerned,
and therefore I must lose no time."

The host nodded his head, looked wise, and suffered the Count and his
party to depart without further opposition.

As it was not a part of their plan to follow the high road more than
they were actually obliged to do, soon after leaving Chartres they
took a path to the left, which they were informed would lead them by
Gellardon to Bonnelle, through the fields and woods. Before they had
gone a league, however, the noise of dogs and horses, and the shouts,
as it seemed, of huntsmen, were heard at no great distance; and
turning towards Gondrin the young Count asked, "What can they be
hunting at this time of year?"

"The wolf, my Lord, the wolf," replied the man. "They hunt wolves at
all times."

Scarcely had he spoken, when a loud yell of the dogs was heard; and
nodding his head sagaciously, as if he had seen the whole proceeding
with his mind's eye, Gondrin added, "They have killed him;" which was
confirmed by a number of joyous morts on the horns of the huntsmen.

"Let us proceed as fast as possible," said Charles of Montsoreau; "we
know not who those huntsmen may be:" and he was urging the driver of
the litter to hurry on his horses rapidly, when the whole road before
them was suddenly filled with a gay party of cavaliers, splendidly
dressed and accoutred, and coming direct towards them. There was
nothing now to be done but to pass on quietly if possible; and, taking
no apparent notice, but bending his head and speaking into the litter,
without even seeing of whom the other party was composed, Charles of
Montsoreau was riding on, when a loud voice was heard exclaiming "Halt
there! halt! A word with you if you please, young sir;" and, looking
up, he saw the Duke of Epernon.

Without suffering the slightest surprise to appear upon his
countenance, or the slightest apprehension, Charles of Montsoreau
turned his head, demanding calmly, "Well, my Lord, what is your
pleasure with me?"

"My pleasure is," replied the Duke, "that you instantly turn your
horse's head and go back to Epernon with me."

"I am extremely sorry, my Lord," replied the Count, "that it is quite
impossible for me to do what you propose, as I am upon urgent business
for the Duke of Guise, and bear the King's passport and safe-conduct,
which I presume your Lordship will not despise."

"You may bear the King's passport, sir," said the Duke, "but you
certainly do not bear his authorisation to carry away from his power
the young lady who I suppose is in that litter. As to the Duke of
Guise, your authority from him is very much doubted also."

"That doubt is easily removed, my Lord," replied the Count, seeing
clearly that he would be forced to yield, but fully resolved not to do
so till he had tried every means to avoid it. "That doubt is easily
removed, my Lord. Allow me to show you the authority given me by the
Duke under his own hand, which I think even the Duke of Epernon must
respect."

The Duke took the paper which he tendered him, and then saying, "I
will show you how I respect it," he tore it into a thousand pieces,
and cast it beneath his horse's feet, while a laugh ran through the
men that attended him. "Turn your horse's head," he continued,
"without more ado, or I will have your arms tied behind your back, and
the horse led."

"My Lord," replied the young Count, "I must obey, for I have no means
of resisting; but let me remind you, that the Duke of Epernon was
always considered, even before what he is now, a gallant gentleman and
a man of good feeling, who would not insult those who were too weak to
oppose him, and who did their duty honourably as far as it was
possible for them to do it."

"Your civility now, sir," replied the Duke, "like your rash folly a
week or two ago, is too contemptible to make any change in the Duke of
Epernon. That foolish party of light horse," he continued, speaking to
one of his attendants, "must have suffered this malapert youth and his
fair charge to have passed it. Turn the litter round there; take care
that none of them escape."

"The boy has made off already," replied one of the men. "Shall I
gallop after him, my Lord? He may tell the Duke of Guise."

"Let him!" answered Epernon. "Go not one of you; but bring the rest of
them along hither."

Without giving any intimation of his intent, Charles of Montsoreau
turned his horse suddenly back to the side of the litter, and drew the
curtain back, saying to Marie de Clairvaut, who sat pale and anxious
within it, "You hear what has happened; there is no power of
resistance, for they are ten to one: but the boy has escaped, and will
give the Duke notice of where you are. In the mean time it is one
comfort, that now you are in the hands of one who is, at all events, a
man of honour and a gentleman in feeling."

What he said was intended to give comfort and consolation to Marie de
Clairvaut; but it reached the ear of the Duke of Epernon likewise. "I
must suffer no farther conversation," he said in a gentler tone than
he had before used. "You will understand, Monsieur de Logères, that I
have authority for what I do; and that I arrest you out of no personal
vengeance, but because the order has been already given to that
effect."

"My Lord," replied the young Count, "I care very little for my own
arrest, as I know that I can but be detained a short time: but I
confess I am most anxious for the young lady placed under my especial
charge by the Duke of Guise, as I have shown your Lordship by the
paper you have torn. If she is to remain in your Lordship's charge, I
shall be more satisfied; but if she is to be given up to Monsieur de
Villequier, the consequences will indeed be painful to all. You are
perhaps not aware, my Lord, that he sent her to a place where the
plague was raging at the time, where six persons of her household died
of it, and the rest fled, leaving her utterly alone."

The Duke seemed moved, and after remaining silent for a minute, he
replied, "I did not know it; the man who would murder his wife, would
make no great scruple of killing his cousin, I suppose. However, sir,
set your mind at ease: though I cannot promise that she shall remain
with the Duchess of Epernon, she shall not be given up to Villequier
either by myself or by any body in whose hands I may place her. Is
that assurance sufficient for you?"

"Perfectly, my Lord," replied Charles of Montsoreau. "The Duke of
Epernon's promise is as good as the bond of other men."

"Well, follow me, then," replied the Duke, and, riding on alone, he
left the young Count in the hands of his attendants.



                              CHAP. IX.


It was in one of the saloons of the old Cardinal de Bourbon, in the
town of Soissons, that Henry Duke of Guise, princely in his habit,
princely in his aspect, with his foot raised upon a footstool of
crimson and gold, a high plumed Spanish hat upon his head, manifold
parchments before him, and a pen in his hand, sat alone on a day in
the month of April with his eyes fixed upon a door at the other end of
the room, as if waiting for the entrance of some one.

The next moment the door was thrown wide open, and, preceded by two
servants announcing him to the Duke, appeared a small and not very
striking personage plainly habited in black velvet. The moment the
Duke saw him, he rose, and for an instant uncovered his head, then
covering himself again he advanced to meet him, and took him by the
hand, saying "Monsieur de Bellievre, I am delighted to see you. The
King could not have chosen any one more gratifying to myself to
receive: in the first place, because I know that I shall hear nothing
but truth from the lips of Monsieur de Bellievre; and, in the next
place, because I am sure no one will bear more exactly to his Majesty
any reply I may have to make to the message with which I understand
you are charged."

"The confidence which your Highness expresses in me," replied
Bellievre, as the Duke led him towards the table, and made him seat
himself beside him, "does great honour to so humble an individual as
myself. Nevertheless, I must deliver the King's message, my Lord,
precisely as it was given to me; and should there be any thing in it
disagreeable to your Highness, I trust that you will excuse the
bearer, and consider the matter dispassionately."

"Proceed, proceed," replied the Duke; "as in duty bound I shall
receive his Majesty's communication with all deference and humility."

"Well, then," replied Bellievre, "I am charged by his Majesty to
assure your Highness that his personal esteem and respect for you is
very great; and that he has never, in any degree, given ear to the
injurious reports which persons inimical to your Highness have been
industrious in circulating to your disadvantage."

"Your pardon, Monsieur de Bellievre, for one moment," said the Duke,
interrupting him. "To what injurious reports does his Majesty allude?
I am ignorant that any one has dared to circulate injurious reports of
me; and if such be the case, it is high time that I should proceed to
the capital to confront and shame my accusers."

As this was not at all the point to which the King's envoy wished to
bring the Duke, he looked not a little embarrassed what to reply. He
answered, however, after a moment's pause, "It would, indeed, be
requisite for you to do so, my Lord, if I did not bear you the King's
most positive assurance that he gives no ear to such reports. But to
proceed: his Majesty has bid me strongly express his full conviction
of your attachment, fidelity, and affection, but has commanded me to
add that, having heard it reported your intention is immediately to
present yourself in Paris, he is unwillingly obliged, by state reasons
of the utmost importance, to request that you would forbear the
execution of that purpose."

It was not without some hesitation and apparent emotion that Bellievre
spoke; but the Duke heard him with perfect calmness, though with a
slight contraction of the brow.

"The report," he answered, "of my intention of visiting Paris is
perfectly correct, Monsieur de Bellievre; nor can I, indeed, refrain
from executing that purpose, with all due deference to his Majesty,
for many reasons, amongst which those that you yourself give me of
injurious rumours being rife in the capital regarding me, are not the
least cogent. Thus, unless the King intends to signify by you,
Monsieur de Bellievre, that he positively prohibits my coming into
Paris--which, of course, he would not do--I see not how I can avoid
doing simple justice to myself by returning to my own dwelling in the
capital of this country."

"I grieve to say, your Highness," replied Bellievre, seeing that the
worst must be told, "I grieve to say, that while the King has charged
me to assure you of his regard and his confidence in you, he none the
less instructed me to make the prohibition on his part absolute and
distinct."

The Duke of Guise started up with his brow knit and his eyes flashing.
"Is this the reward," he exclaimed, "of all the services I have
rendered the state? Is this the recompense for having shed my blood so
often in defence of France? to be dishonoured in the eyes of all the
people, by being banished from the metropolis, to be excluded from the
companionship of all my friends, to be cut off from transacting my own
private affairs, to be talked of and pointed at as the exiled Duke of
Guise, and to have the boys singing in the streets the woeful ditty of
my sufferings and a King's ingratitude?" And as he spoke, the Duke
took two or three rapid strides up and down the room.

"Indeed, indeed, your Highness," cried Bellievre, "you take it up too
warmly. The King is far from ungrateful, but most thankful for your
high services; but it is for the good of the state that you love, for
the safety and security of the people of the capital who are in a
tumultuous and highly excitable state, that he wishes you to refrain
from coming----"

"That he sends me a message dishonouring to myself and to my House,"
replied the Duke. "That he marks me out from the rest of the nobles of
the land, by a prohibition which I may venture to say is unjust and
unmerited. I must take some days to think of this, Monsieur de
Bellievre; nor can I in any way promise not to visit Paris. Were it
but to protect, support, and guide my friends and relations, I ought
to go; were it but on account of the church for which I am ready to
shed my blood if it be necessary, persecuted, reviled, assailed as
that holy church is; were it but for my attendants and supporters, who
are attacked, abused, and ill-treated in the streets and public ways."

"As for the church, your Highness," replied Bellievre, "none is more
sincerely attached to it than the King and the King's advisers. It
will stand long, my Lord, depend upon it, without any further
assistance than that which you have already so ably given it. Your
relations, my Lord, and household," he said, "are not and cannot be
ill-treated."

"How?" exclaimed the Duke. "Is not my dear sister Margaret even now,
as it were, proscribed by the King and his court? Is not every thing
done to drive her from Paris? Have not her servants been struck by
those of Villequier in the open streets?"

"I know," replied Bellievre, "that a month or two ago Madame de
Montpensier was subject to some little annoyance, but as soon as it
came to the King's ears he had it instantly remedied, and only wished
her to quit Paris for her own security."

"The House of Guise, sir, have always been secure in the capital of
France," replied the Duke; "and I trust always will be."

"Nothing has occurred since I trust, my Lord," continued Bellievre.
"The King is most anxious that you should have satisfaction in every
thing, and will give you the strongest assurances that your family,
your household, and your friends, shall be in every respect well
treated and protected, as indeed he has always wished them to be."

The Duke threw himself down in his chair and rang the bell that stood
upon the table violently. "Ho! without there!" he exclaimed. "Bring in
that page that arrived hither a night or two ago, when I was absent at
Jamets."

The attendant who had appeared retired, and the Duke sat silent,
gazing with a frown at the papers on the table. "May I ask your
Highness," said Bellievre, not knowing what interpretation to put upon
this conduct, "May I ask your Highness whether I am to conceive my
audience at an end?"

"No, Monsieur de Bellievre, no," replied the Duke in a milder tone;
"for _you_ I have a high respect and esteem, and will listen to you
upon this subject longer than I would to most men. I wish you to hear
and to know how the friends of the Duke of Guise are treated, what
protection and favour is shown to them at the court of France. Perhaps
you will hear some things that are new to you--perhaps they may be new
to the King too," he added, a slight sneer curling his haughty lip.
"But be that as it may, Monsieur de Bellievre, I think I can show you
good cause why the Duke of Guise should be no longer absent from
Paris. Come hither, boy," he added, as the page Ignati entered the
room, "Come hither, boy, and answer my questions. Thou art both witty
and honest, but give me plain straightforward replies. Stand at my
knee and answer, so that this gentleman may hear."

The boy advanced, and did as the Duke bade him, turning his face
towards Bellievre, with his left hand to the Duke.

"You went to Paris," said Guise, "with my friend the young Count of
Logères; did you not? Were you aware of the cause of his going?"

"He went, I understood your Highness," replied the boy, "to seek a
young lady, a relation of your own, who had been carried to Paris by a
body of the King's troops while on her way to join your Highness."

"Can you tell what was Monsieur de Logères' success?" said the Duke.

"I know he saw the King," replied the boy, "and heard that he had been
promised a letter to all the governors and commanders in different
places to aid him in seeking for the young Lady, and bringing her back
to your Highness. I heard also that it was for this paper he waited
from day to day in Paris, but that it never came."

"I beg your Highness's pardon," said Bellievre interrupting the boy,
"but you will remark that this is all hearsay. He does not seem to
speak at all from his own knowledge."

"That will come after," answered the Duke somewhat sharply. "Go on,
Ignati. What do you know more?"

"What I have said," replied the boy, "is more than hearsay, my Lord,
for while we staid in Paris the good Count bade us always be ready at
a moment's notice to set out, for he could not tell when the letter
from Monsieur de Villequier would arrive. It never came, however, and
one night the Count having, as I understood, gained information of
where Mademoiselle de Clairvaut was, set out with his man Gondrin and
myself to seek her. We found that she had been brought by a body of
the King's troops to a château or a palace, for it looked more like a
palace than a château, called Morvillette, I believe near Chateauneuf,
where the plague was then raging, when the King's soldiers left her.
By the time we arrived the plague had reached the château, six or
seven people were dead, and all the rest had fled, leaving the young
lady with nobody in the palace, and none but one old groom in the
stables."

The Duke's eye fixed sternly upon the countenance of Bellievre, and he
muttered between his teeth, "This is the doing, Monsieur de Bellievre,
of my excellent good friend, the King of France. Go on, boy; go on!
Proceed. What happened next?"

"The lady was most joyous of her deliverance," continued the boy, "and
eager to come to your Highness; and we set out the next morning before
day-break, and reached Chartres, where the Count bought a litter for
her greater convenience. At a short distance from Chartres, however,
we were met by the Duke of Epernon and his train wolf-hunting, and the
Duke immediately stopped us, and insisted upon the Count going back
with him to Epernon. The Count produced the King's passports, but the
Duke said that there were doubts of his being authorised by you."

"Did he not show him my own letter?" exclaimed the Duke. "Did he not
show him the authority I gave him under my own hand?"

"He did, my Lord; he did," replied the boy; "but the Duke of Epernon
said he would show in what respect he held your Highness's letter, and
tearing it in several pieces he threw it down under his horse's feet."

Bellievre continued to look down upon the ground with a brow which
certainly displayed but little satisfaction. The Duke of Guise,
however, though he had been frowning the moment before, now only
smiled as the boy related the incident of the letter; the smile was
somewhat contemptuous, indeed; but he said merely, "Go on, boy. What
happened next?"

"Nay, my Lord," replied the boy, "what happened to them I know not,
for seeing that the Duke held them prisoners, and was taking them back
to Epernon, I made my escape as fast as I well could, and came hither
to tell you into whose hands the young lady and Monsieur de Logères
had fallen."

"You did quite right, boy," said the Duke; "and now you may retire.
You hear, Monsieur de Bellievre," he continued, "with what kindness,
protection, support, and generosity the King treats the friends of the
Duke of Guise! First he casts my poor niece's child into the hands of
Villequier, something worse than those of the hangman of Paris, and
then between them they send her into the midst of the pestilence; then
comes Monsieur d'Epernon to confirm all, arrests my friend bearing the
King's own passports and safeguard, seizes upon my own relation and
ward, and carries them both I know not whither."

"Perhaps your Highness," said Bellievre, "the Duke of Epernon might
have motives that we do not know. At all events the King----"

"Fie, Monsieur de Bellievre, fie!" exclaimed the Duke vehemently. "I
will tell you what! It is time the Duke of Guise were in Paris, if but
to deliver the King from such Dukes of Epernon who abuse his
authority, disgrace his name, absorb his favours, ruin the state,
overthrow the church, and dare do acts that make men blush for shame.
France will no longer suffer him, sir; France will no longer suffer
him! If I free not the King from him and such as he is, the people
will rise up and commit some foul attempt upon the royal authority.
What," he continued, with fierce scorn, "What, though he be Baron of
Caumont, Duke of Epernon, raised out of his place to sit near the
princes of the blood, Governor of Metz and Normandy, of the
Boulonnais, and Aunis, of Touraine, Saintonge, and Angoumois,
Colonel-general of Infantry, and Governor of Anjou, a Knight of the
order of the Holy Ghost! he shall find this simple steel sword of
Henry of Guise sufficiently sharp to cut his parchments into pieces,
and send him back a beggar to the class he sprung from."

The Duke spoke so rapidly, that to interrupt him was impossible; and
so angrily, that Bellievre, overawed, remained silent for a moment or
two after he had done, while the Prince bent his eyes down upon the
table, and played with the golden tassels of his sword-knot, as if
half ashamed of the vehemence he had displayed.

"I did not come here, your Highness," he said, "either as the envoy or
the advocate of the Duke of Epernon. You must well know that there is
no great love between us; and I doubt not, when your Highness comes to
call him to account for his deeds, that justice will be found entirely
on your side. But I came on the part of the King; and I beseech you to
consider, my good Lord, what may be the consequences of pressing even
any severe charges against the Duke of Epernon at this moment, when
his Majesty is contending with the heretics on the one side, and is
somewhat troubled by an unruly people on the other."

"Is he indeed contending with any body or any thing, Bellievre?"
demanded the Duke. "Is he indeed contending against the Bearnois? Is
he contending against the indolence of his own nature, or rather
against the indolence into which corrupt favourites have cast him? Is
he contending against the iniquities of Villequier, or the exactions
of Epernon? Is he contending against any thing less contemptible than
a spaniel puppy or an unteachable parrot? My love and attachment to
the King and his crown, Bellievre, are greater than yours; and, as my
final reply, I beg you humbly to inform his Majesty on my part, that
if I do not promptly and entirely obey him in this matter of not
coming to Paris, it is solely because I am compelled to do as I do,
for the good of the church, for the safety of the state, for the
security of my own relations and friends, and even for the benefit of
his Majesty himself. This is my final reply."

"Yet one word, my Lord," replied Bellievre. "At all events, if your
determination to visit the capital be taken, will you not at least, at
my earnest prayer, delay your journey till I myself can return to
Paris, and obtaining more ample explanations of the King's purposes,
come back to you and confer with you farther on the subject."

"I see not, Monsieur de Bellievre," said the Duke of Guise, "what good
could be obtained by such delay. I do not at all mean to say that you
would take advantage of my confidence to prepare any evil measures
against me; but others might do so: and besides, my honour calls me
not to leave my friends in peril for a moment, even though I called
upon my head the enmity of a whole host in stepping forward to rescue
them."

"I pledge you my honour, my Lord," replied Bellievre, "that if you
will consent to delay, no measures shall be taken against you; and I
will do the very best I can to induce the King to make any atonement
in his power to your friends. As to this young Count of Logères, I
never heard of him before to-day, and know not what has been done with
him at all; and in regard to Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, she is
doubtless in the hands of Villequier, who, I understand, claims the
guardianship."

"To which he has less right," replied the Duke angrily, "than that
footstool; and if he contends with me, I will spurn him as I do it;"
and he suited the gesture to the word. "But still I see not,"
continued the Duke, "what is to be gained by this delay to either
party."

"This, my good Lord," replied Bellievre. "I am well aware that his
Majesty the King has sent me here without sufficient powers to make
you just and definite proposals. This I believe to have been entirely
from the haste in which I came away, there being no time for thought.
But if you permit me to return with assurance that you will wait but a
few days, I feel convinced that I shall come back to you with offers
so abundant, so satisfactory, and so well secured, that your Lordship
will change your resolution."

The Duke mused for a moment or two. "Well, Monsieur de Bellievre," he
said at length, "though I entertain no such hopes as you do, I must
yield something to my loyalty, and to my real desire of obeying the
King; although, perhaps, my duty to my country and to the church might
well lead me to more prompt proceedings. I will, therefore, delay my
journey for a day or two; but you must use all speed, and I must have
no trifling. You know all my just grievances: those must be remedied,
the church must be secured; and for the quiet and the satisfaction of
the people who abhor and detest him, as well as for the relief of the
nobles who have long been shut out from all favour by that unworthy
minion, this John of Nogaret, this Duke of Epernon, must be banished
from the court and councils of the King, and stripped of the places
and dignities which he has won from the weak condescension of the
Monarch. You understand me, Monsieur de Bellievre," he said in a
sterner tone, seeing that Bellievre looked somewhat dismayed at the
extent of his demands. "Undertake not the mission if you think that
you cannot succeed in it; but let me on my way without more
opposition."

"My Lord, I will do my best to succeed," replied Bellievre; "and trust
that I shall do so. How many days will your Highness give me?"

"Nay, nay," replied the Duke; "that I cannot tell, Monsieur de
Bellievre. Suffice it, I will delay as long as my honour permits me;
and you on your part lose not an hour in making the necessary
arrangements, and bringing the King's reply."

As he spoke the Duke rose to terminate the conference; and then added,
"I fear, Monsieur de Bellievre, as I am expecting every moment my
brother, the Cardinal de Guise, and his Eminence of Bourbon, to confer
with me upon matters of importance, I cannot do the honours of the
house to you as I could wish; but Pericard, my secretary and friend,
will attend upon you, and insure that you have every sort of
refreshment. I will send for him this moment." And so doing, he placed
Bellievre in the hands of his secretary, and turned once more to other
business.

The King's envoy sped back to Paris, scarcely giving himself time to
take necessary refreshment; but on his arrival in the capital he first
found a difficulty even in seeing the Monarch; and when he did see
him, found him once more plunged in that state of luxurious and
effeminate indolence from which he was only roused by occasional fits
of excitement, which sometimes enabled him to resume the monarch and
the man, but more frequently carried him into the wildest and most
frantic excesses of debauchery.

Henry would scarcely listen to the business of Bellievre even when he
granted him an audience on the following morning. He asked many a
question about his cousin of Guise, about his health, about his
appearance, about his dress itself; whether his shoes were pointed or
square, and how far the haut-de-chausses came down above his knees.
Bellievre was impatient, and pressed the King with some fire; but
Henry only laughed, and tickled the ears of a monkey that sat upon the
arm of his chair with a parrot's feather. The animal mouthed and
chattered at the King, and strove to snatch the feather out of his
hands; and Henry, stroking it down the head, called it "Mon Duc de
Guise."

Bellievre bowed low, and moved towards the door. "Come back to-morrow,
Bellievre; come back to-morrow," said the King; "Villequier will be
here then. You see at present how importantly I am occupied with my
fair cousin of Guise here;" and he pulled the monkey's whiskers as he
spoke. "Villequier has told me all about it," he added. "He says the
Duke will not come, and so says my mother; and if they both say the
same thing who never agreed upon any point before, it must be true,
Bellievre, you know."

"I trust it may, Sire," replied Bellievre dryly, and quitted the room
with anger and indignation at his heart. Before he had crossed the
anteroom, he heard a loud laugh ringing like that of a fool from the
lips of the Monarch; and although it was doubtless occasioned by some
new gambol of the monkey, it did not serve to diminish the bitter
feelings which were in the diplomatist's bosom.



                               CHAP. X.


In a small, dark, oaken cabinet with one window high up and barred, a
lamp hanging from the ceiling, a table with books and a musical
instrument, several chairs, and a silver bell, Charles of Montsoreau
was seated several days after the period at which we last left him. A
bedroom well furnished in every respect was beyond; the least sound of
the silver bell produced immediate attendance; nothing was refused him
that he demanded; nothing was wanting to his comfort except liberty
and the sound of some other human being's voice. Yet, strange to say,
although he knew that he was in the city of Paris, he knew nothing
more of the position of the building in which he was placed. He had
been brought into the capital at night, had been conducted through a
number of narrow and tortuous streets, and had at length been led
through a deep archway and several large courts, to the place in which
he was now confined.

It may seem perhaps that such a state of imprisonment did not offer
much to complain of; and yet it had bent his spirit and bowed down his
heart. The want of all knowledge of what was passing around him, the
absence of every one that he loved, the loss of liberty, the perfect
silence, joined with anxiety for one who was dearer to him than
himself, wore him day by day, and took from him the power of enjoying
any of those things which were provided for his convenience or
amusement.

The servant who attended upon him never opened his lips, he obeyed any
orders that were given to him, he brought any thing that was demanded;
but he replied to no questions, he made no observations, he afforded
no information even by a look. Every bolt and bar that was on the
outside of the door was invariably drawn behind him, and the high
window in either room could only be so far reached even by standing on
the table or one of the chairs, as to enable the young nobleman to
open or shut it at pleasure, so to admit the free air from without.

Such had been the condition of Charles of Montsoreau, as we have said,
for many days; but he had not yet become reconciled in any degree to
his fate, though he strove, as far as possible, to while away the
moments in any way that was permitted, either by books or music. But
it was with impatience and disgust that he did so, and the lute was
taken up and laid down, the book read and cast away, without remaining
in his hands for the space of five minutes.

The sun shone bright through the high window, and traced a moving spot
of golden light upon the dark oak of the opposite wainscot; the air of
spring came sweet and pleasantly through, and gave him back the
thoughts and dreams of liberty; a wild plant rooted in the stonework
of the building without, cast its light feathery shadow on the wall
where the sun shone, and the hum and roar of distant multitudes,
pursuing their busy course in the thronged thoroughfares of the city,
brought him his only tidings from the hurried and struggling scene of
human life.

He took a pleasure in watching the leaves of the little plant as,
waved about by the wind, they played against the bars of the window,
and he was thus occupied on the day we have mentioned, when suddenly
something crossed the light for a moment, as if some small bird had
flown by; but at the same instant a roll of paper fell at his feet,
and taking it up, he recognised the well-known writing of the Duke of
Guise.

"You have suffered for my sake," the paper said, "and I hastened to
deliver you. The day of the Epernons is over; your place of
imprisonment is known. Be not dispirited, therefore, for relief is at
hand."

It cannot be told how great was the relief which this note itself
brought to the mind of the young Count, not alone by the promise that
it held out, but by the very feeling that it gave him of not being
utterly forgotten, of being not entirely alone and desolate. He read
it over two or three times, and then hearing one of the bolts of the
door undrawn, he concealed it hastily lest the attendant should see
it.

Another bolt was immediately afterwards pulled back, and then the door
was unlocked, though far more slowly than usual. It seemed to the
young Count that an unaccustomed hand was busy with the fastenings,
and a faint hope of speedy deliverance shot across his mind.

The next instant, however, the door was opened, and though it
certainly was not the usual attendant who appeared, no face presented
itself that was known to Charles of Montsoreau. The figure was that of
a woman, tall, stately, and dressed in garments of deep black, fitting
tightly round the shoulders and the waist, and flowing away in ample
folds below. Her hair was entirely covered by black silk and lace, but
her face was seen, and that face was one which instantly drew all
attention to itself.

It was not indeed the beauty which attracted, though there were great
remains of beauty too, but it was the face not only of an old woman,
but of one who had been somewhat a spendthrift of youth's charms.
There was, however, a keen fire in the eyes, a strong determination on
the brow, an expansion of the nostril, which gave the idea of quick
and eager feelings, and a degree of sternness about the whole line of
the features, which would have made the whole countenance commanding,
but harsh and severe, had it not been for a light and playful smile
that gleamed across the whole, like some of the bright and sudden rays
of light that from to time we see run across the bosom of deep still
shady waters.

There was a degree of mockery in that smile, too; and yet it spoke
affections and feelings which as strangely blended with the general
character of that woman's life, as the smile itself did with the
general expression of her countenance. The hands were beautiful and
delicately small, and the figure good, with but few signs of age about
it.

The young Count gazed upon her with some surprise as she entered, but
instantly rose from the seat in which he had been sitting while
reading the Duke of Guise's note; and the lady, with a graceful
inclination of the head, closed the door, advanced and seated herself,
examining the young Count from head to foot with a look of calm
consideration, which he very well understood implied the habitual
exercise of authority and power.

After thus gazing at him for a moment or two, she said, "Monsieur le
Comte de Logères, do you know me?"

"If you mean, madam," he replied, "to ask me if I recognise your
person, I believe I do; but if you would ask absolutely whether I know
you, I must say, no."

One of those light smiles passed quick across her countenance, and she
said in a low voice, as if speaking to herself, "Who ever did know
me?" She then added, "Who then do you suppose I am?"

"I conclude, madam," replied the young Count, "that I stand in the
presence of her Majesty the Queen-mother."

"Such is the case," replied the Queen, "and I have come to visit you,
Monsieur de Logères, with views and purposes which, were I to tell
them to any person at my son's court, would hardly be believed."

The Queen paused, as if waiting for an answer; and the young Count
replied, "I trust, madam, that if I am detained here by the
directions, and in the power of your Majesty, that you have come to
give me liberty, which would, I suppose," he added with somewhat of a
smile, "be rather marvellous to the courtiers of the King."

Catharine de Medici smiled also, but at the same time shook her head.
"I fear I must not give you liberty," she said, "for I have promised
not: but I have come with no bad intent towards you. I knew your
mother, Monsieur de Logères, and a virtuous and beautiful woman she
was. God help us! it shows that I am growing old, my praising any
woman for her virtue. However, she was what I have said, and as unlike
myself as possible. Perhaps that was the reason that I liked her, for
we like not things that are too near ourselves. However, I have come
hither to see her son, and to do him a pleasure. You play upon the
lute?" she continued. "Come, 'tis a long time since I have heard the
lute well played. Take up the instrument, and add your voice to it."

"Alas, madam," replied the young Count, "I am but in an ill mood for
music. If I sang you a melancholy lay it would find such stirring
harmonies in my own heart, that I fear I should drown the song in
tears; and if I sang you a gay one, it would be all discord. I would
much rather open that door which you have left unlocked behind you,
and go out."

The Queen did not stir in the slightest degree, but gazed upon him
attentively with a look of compassion, answering, "Alas! poor bird,
you would find that your cage has a double door. But come, do as I bid
you; sit down there, take up the lute and sing. Let your song be
neither gay nor sad! Let it be a song of love. I doubt not that such a
youth as you are, will easily find a love ditty in your heart, though
the present inspiration be no better than an old woman. Come, Monsieur
de Logères, come: sit down and sing. I am a judge of music, I can tell
you."

With a faint smile the Count did as she bade him; and taking up the
lute, he ran his fingers over the chords, thought for a moment or two,
and recollecting nothing better suited to the moment, he sang an
Italian song of love, in which sometime before he had ventured to
shadow forth to Marie de Clairvaut, when she was at Montsoreau, the
first feelings of affection that were growing up in his heart. The
Queen sat by in the mean time, listening attentively, with her head a
little bent forward, and her hand marking the cadences on her knee.

"Beautifully sung, Monsieur de Logères," she said at length when he
ended. "Beautifully sung, and as well accompanied. You do not know how
much pleasure you have given.--Now, let us talk of other things. Are
you sincere, man?"

"I trust so, madam," replied the Count. "I believe I have never borne
any other character."

"Who taught you to play so well on the lute?" demanded the Queen
abruptly.

"I have had no great instruction, madam," answered the Count somewhat
surprised. "I taught myself a little in my boyhood. But afterwards my
preceptor, the Abbé de Boisguerin, was my chief instructor. He had
learned well in Italy."

"Did he teach you sincerity too?" demanded the Queen with a keen look;
"and did he learn that in Italy?"

The Count was not a little surprised to find Catherine's questions
touch so immediately upon the late discoveries he had made of the
character of the Abbé de Boisguerin, and he replied with some
bitterness, "He could but teach me, madam, that which he possessed
himself. I trust that to my nature and my blood I owe whatever
sincerity may be in me. I learned it from none but from God and my own
heart."

"Then you know him," said the Queen, reaching the point at once; "that
is sufficient at present on that subject. I know him too. He came to
the court of France several years ago, with letters from my fair
cousin the Cardinal; but he brought with him nothing that I wanted at
that time. He had a wily head, a handsome person, manifold
accomplishments, great learning, and services for the highest bidder.
We had too many such things at the court already, so I thought that
the sooner he was out of it the better, and looked cold upon him till
he went. He understood the matter well, and did not return till he
brought something in his hand to barter for favour. However, Monsieur
de Logères, to turn to other matters; I do believe you may be sincere
after all. I shall discover in a minute, however. Will you answer me a
question or two concerning the Duke of Guise?"

"It depends entirely upon what they are, madam," replied the Count at
once.

"Then you will not answer me every question, even if it were to gain
your liberty."

"Certainly not, madam," replied the Count.

"Then the Duke has been speaking ill of me," said Catherine at once,
"otherwise you would not be so fearful."

"Not so, indeed," replied the Count, eagerly. "The Duke never, in my
presence, uttered a word against your Majesty."

"Then will you tell me, as a man of honour," demanded the Queen,
"exactly, word for word what you have ever heard the Duke say of me?"

Charles of Montsoreau paused and thought for a moment, and then
answered, "I may promise you to do so in safety, madam, for I never
heard the Duke speak of you but twice, and then it was in high
praise."

"Indeed!" she replied. "But still I believe you, for Villequier has
been assuring me of the contrary, and, of course, what he says must be
false. He cannot help himself, poor man. Now, tell me what the Duke
said, Monsieur de Logères. Perhaps I may be able to repay you some
time."

"I seek for no bribe, your Majesty," replied the Count smiling; "and,
indeed, the honour and the pleasure of this visit----"

"Nay, nay! You a courtier, young gentleman!" exclaimed the Queen,
shaking her finger at him. "Another such word as that, and you will
make me doubt the whole tale."

"The speech would not have been so courtier-like, madam, if it had
been ended," replied the Count. "I was going to have said, that the
honour and pleasure of this visit, after not having heard for many
days, many weeks I believe, the sound of a human voice, or seen any
other face but that of one attendant, is full repayment for the little
that I have to tell. However, madam, to gratify you with regard to
the Duke, the first time that I ever heard him mention you was in the
city of Rheims, where a number of persons were collected together, and
many violent opinions were expressed, with which I will not offend
your ears; your past life was spoken of by some of the gentlemen
present----"

"Pass over that, pass over that! I understand!" replied the Queen with
a sarcastic smile; "I understand. But those things are not worth
speaking of. What of the present, Monsieur de Logères? What of the
present?"

"Why, some one expressed an opinion, madam," the Count continued,
"that in order to retain a great share of power, you did every thing
you could to keep his Majesty in the lethargic and indolent state in
which I grieve to say he appears to the great mass of his subjects."

"What said the Duke?" demanded the Queen. "What said the Duke? surely
he knows me better."

"Why, madam," replied the Count, "his eye brightened and his colour
rose, and he replied indignantly that it could not be so. 'Oh no,' he
said, 'happy had it been for France if, instead of divided power, the
Queen-mother had possessed the whole power. It is by petty minds
mingling their leven with their great designs that ruin has come upon
the land. She has had to deal with great men, great events, and great
difficulties, and she was equal to deal with, if not to bow them all
down before her, had she but been permitted to deal with them
unshackled.'"[4]


---------------------

[Footnote 4: Such was undoubtedly the expressed opinion of the Duke of
Guise.]

---------------------


"Indeed!" exclaimed the Queen; "did he say so?"

"He did, madam, upon my honour," replied the Count.

"I know not whether he was right or wrong," rejoined the Queen
thoughtfully; "for though perhaps, Monsieur de Logères, I possessed
in some things the powers of a man--say, if you will, greater powers
than most men--yet, alas! in others, I had all the weaknesses of a
woman--perhaps I should say, to balance other qualities, more
weaknesses than most women. But he must have said more. The answer was
not pertinent to the remark, and Henry of Guise is not a man either in
speech or action ever to forget his object."

"Nor did he in this instance," replied the Count; "but he said that,
wearied out with seeing your best and greatest schemes frustrated by
the weakness of others, you now contented yourself with warding off
evils as far as possible from your son and from the state; that it was
evident that such was your policy; and that, like Miron, the King's
physician, unable from external circumstances to effect a cure, you
treated the diseases of the times with a course of palliatives; that,
as the greatest of all evils, you knew and saw the apathy of his
Majesty, and did all that you could to rouse him, but that the
poisonous counsels of Villequier, the soft indolence of his own
nature, and the enfeebling society of Epernon and others, resisted all
that you could do, and thwarted you here likewise."

"He spoke wisely, and he spoke truly," replied the Queen; "and I will
tell you, Monsieur de Logères, though Henry of Guise and I can never
love each other much, yet I felt sure that he knew me too well to say
all those things of me that have been reported by his enemies. I am
satisfied with what I have heard, Count, and shall ask no further
questions. But you have given me pleasure, and I will do my best to
serve you. Once more, let us speak of other things. Have you all that
you desire and want here?"

"No, madam," replied the young Count. "I want many things--liberty,
the familiar voices of my friends, the sight of those I love. Every
thing that the body wants I have; and you or some of your attendants
have supplied me with books and music; but it is in such a situation
as this, your Majesty, that one learns that the heart requires food as
well as the body or the mind."

"The heart!" replied Catharine de Medici thoughtfully. "I once knew
what the heart was, and I have not quite forgotten it yet. Did you
mark my words after you had sung, Monsieur de Logères?"

"You were pleased to praise my poor singing much more than it
deserved, madam," replied the young Count.

"Something more than that, my good youth," replied the Queen. "I told
you that it had given more pleasure than you knew of. I might have
added, that it gave pleasure to more than you knew of, for there was
another ear could hear it besides mine."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the Count gazing eagerly in the Queen's face; "and
pray who might that be?"

"One that loves you," replied Catharine de Medici. "One that loves
you very well, Monsieur de Logères." And rising from her chair she put
her hand to her brow, as if in deep thought. "Well," she said at
length; "something must be risked, and I will risk something for
that purpose. The time is not far distant, Monsieur de Logères--I
see it clearly--when by some means you will be set at liberty; but,
notwithstanding that, it may be long before you find such a thing even
as an hour's happiness. You are a frank and generous man, I believe;
you will not take advantage of an act of kindness to behave
ungenerously. I go away from you for a moment or two, and leave that
door open behind me, trusting to your honour."

She waited for no reply, but quitted the room; and Charles of
Montsoreau stood gazing upon the door, doubtful of what was her
meaning, and how he was to act. Some of her words might be interpreted
as a hint to escape; but others had directly a contrary tendency, and
a moment after he heard her unlock and pass another door, and close
but not lock it behind her.



                              CHAP. XI.


"What is her meaning?" demanded Charles of Montsoreau, as he gazed
earnestly upon the door; and as he thus thought his heart beat
vehemently, for there was a hope in it which he would not suffer his
reason to rest upon for a moment, so improbable did it seem, and so
fearful would be disappointment. "What is her meaning?" And he still
asked himself the question, as one minute flew by after another, and
to his impatience it seemed long ere she returned.

But a few minutes elapsed, however, in reality, ere there were steps
heard coming back, and in another minute Catharine de Medici again
appeared, saying, "For one hour, remember! For one hour only!"

There was somebody behind her, and the brightest hope that Charles of
Montsoreau had dared to entertain was fully realised.

The Queen had drawn Marie de Clairvaut forward; and passing out again,
she closed the door, leaving her alone with her lover. If his heart
had wanted any confirmation of the deep, earnest, overpowering
affection which she entertained towards him, it might have been found
in the manner in which--apparently without the power even to move
forward, trembling, gasping for breath--she stood before him on so
suddenly seeing him again, without having been forewarned, after long
and painful and anxious absence. As he had himself acknowledged, he
was ignorant in the heart of woman; but love had been a mighty
instructor, and he now needed no explanation of the agitation that he
beheld.

Starting instantly forward, he threw his arms around her; and it was
then, held to his bosom, pressed to his heart, that all Marie de
Clairvaut's love and tenderness burst forth. Gentle, timid, modest in
her own nature as she was, love and joy triumphed over all. The agony
of mind she had been made to suffer, was greater than even he could
fancy, and the relief of that moment swept away all other thoughts:
the tears, the happy but agitated tears, flowed rapidly from her eyes;
but her lips sought his cheek from time to time, her arms clasped
tenderly round him, and as soon as she could speak, she said, "Oh
Charles, Charles, do I see you again? Am I, am I held in your arms
once more; the only one that I have ever loved in life, my saviour, my
protector, my defender. For days, for weeks, I have not known whether
you were living or dead. They had the cruelty, they had the barbarity
not even to let me know whether you had or had not escaped the plague.
They have kept me in utter ignorance of where you were, of all and of
every thing concerning you." And again she kissed his cheek, though
even while she did so, under the overpowering emotions of her heart,
the blush of shame came up into her own: and then she hid her eyes
upon his bosom, and wept once more in agitation but in happiness.

"As they have acted to you, dearest Marie," he replied, "as they have
acted to you, so they have acted to me. The day they separated me from
you at Epernon, was the last day that I have spoken with any living
creature up to this morning. No answers have been returned to my
questions; not a word of intelligence could I obtain concerning your
fate; and oh, dear, dear Marie, you would feel, you would know how
terrible has been that state to me, if you could tell how ardently,
how deeply, how passionately I love you." And his lips met hers, and
sealed the assurance there.

"I know it, I know it all, Charles," replied Marie. "I know it by what
I have felt; I know it by what I feel myself, for I believe, I do
believe, from my very heart, that if it be possible for two people to
feel exactly alike, we so feel."

"But tell me, dear Marie, tell me," exclaimed her lover, "tell me
where you have been. Have they treated you kindly? Does the Duke of
Guise know where you are?"

"Alas, no, Charles!" replied Marie de Clairvaut; "he does not, I
grieve to say. Well treated indeed I may say that I have been, for all
that could contribute to my mere comfort has been done for me. Nothing
that I could desire or wish for, Charles, has been ungiven, and I have
ever had the society of the good sisters in the neighbouring convent.
But the society that I love has of course been denied me; and no news,
no tidings of any kind have reached me. I have lived in short with
numbers of people surrounding me, as if I were not in the world at
all, and the moment that I asked a question, a deep silence fell upon
every one, and I could obtain no reply."

"This is strange indeed," said Charles, "very strange. However, we
must be grateful that our treatment has been kind indeed in some
respects."

"Oh, and most grateful," replied Marie de Clairvaut, "for these bright
moments of happiness. Do you not think, Charles, do you not think,
that perhaps the Queen may kindly grant us such interviews again?"

Who is there that does not know how lovers while away the time? Who is
there that has not known how short is a lover's hour? But with Charles
of Montsoreau and Marie de Clairvaut that hour seemed shorter than it
otherwise would have done; for it was not alone the endearing caress,
the words, the acknowledgments, the hopes of love, but they had a
thousand things in the past to tell each other; they had cares and
fears, and plans and purposes for the future, to communicate.

Even had not all shyness, all timidity been done away before, that was
not a moment in which Marie de Clairvaut could have affected aught
towards her lover; so that what between tidings of the past and
thoughts of the future, and the dear dalliance of that spendthrift of
invaluable moments, love, an envious clock in some church-tower hard
by, had marked the arrival of the last quarter of an hour they were to
remain together, ere one tenth part of what they had to think of or to
say was either thought or said. The sound startled them, and it became
a choice whether they should give up the brief remaining space to
serious thoughts of the future, or whether they should yield it all to
love. Who is it with such a choice before him that ever hesitated
long?

The space allotted for their interview had drawn near its close, and
the very scantiness of the period that remained was causing them to
spend it in regrets that it was not longer, when suddenly the general
sounds which came from the streets became louder and more loud, as if
some door or gate had been opened which admitted the noise more
distinctly. Both Marie de Clairvaut and her lover listened, and almost
at the same instant loud cries were heard of "The Duke of Guise! The
Duke of Guise! Long live the Duke of Guise! Long live the great pillar
of the Catholic church! Long live the House of Lorraine!" And this was
followed by the noise and trampling of horses, as if entering into a
court below.

Marie and her lover gazed in each other's faces, but she it was that
first spoke the joyful hopes that were in the heart of both.

"He has come to deliver us!" she cried. "Oh Charles, he has come to
deliver us! Hear how gladly the people shout his well-loved name!
Surely they will not deceive him, and tell him we are not here."

"Oh no, dear Marie," replied her lover; "he has certain information,
depend upon it, and will not be easily deceived. He has already
discovered my abode, dear Marie; and this letter was thrown through
the window this morning, though I myself know not where we are--that
is to say, I am well aware that we are now in Paris, but I know not in
what part of the city."

"Oh, that I discovered from one of the nuns," replied Marie. "We are
at the house of the Black Penitents, in the Rue St. Denis. I remember
the outside of it well; a large dark building with only two windows to
the street. Do you not remember it? You must have seen it in passing."

"I am not so well acquainted with the city as you are, dear Marie,"
replied Charles of Montsoreau; "but, depend upon it, where they have
confined me is not in the house of the Black Penitents. It would be a
violation of the rules of the order which could not be."

"It communicates with their dwelling," replied Marie de Clairvaut; "of
that at least I am certain; for the Queen, when she brought me hither,
took me not into the open air. She led me indeed through numerous
passages, one of which, some ten or twelve yards in length, was nearly
dark, for it had no windows, and was only lighted by the door left
open behind us. I was then placed in a little room while the Queen
went on, and a short time after I heard a voice, that made my heart
beat strangely, begin to sing a song that you once sung at Montsoreau;
and when I was thinking of you Charles, and all that you had done for
me--how you had first saved me from the reiters, and then rescued me
from the deep stream, and had then come to seek me and deliver me in
the midst of death and pestilence--I was thinking of all these things,
when Catherine came back, and without telling me what was her
intention, led me hither."

"Hark!" cried Charles of Montsoreau. "They shout again. I wonder that
we have heard no farther tidings."

And they both sat and listened for some minutes, but no indication of
any farther event took place, and they gradually resumed their
conversation, beginning in a low tone, as if afraid of losing a sound
from without. Marie de Clairvaut had already told her lover how she
had remained at Epernon for a day or two under the protection of the
wife of the Duke, and had been thence brought by her to Paris and
placed in the convent at a late hour of the evening; but as the time
wore away, and their hopes of liberation did not seem about to be
realized, she recurred to the subject of her arrival, saying, "There
is one thing which makes me almost fear they will deceive him,
Charles. I forgot to tell you, that as we paused before this building
on the night that I was brought hither, while the gates were being
opened by the portress, a horseman rode up to the side of the carriage
and gazed in. There were torches on the other side held by the
servants round the gate, and though I could not see that horseman as
well as he could see me, yet I feel almost sure that it was the face
of the Abbé de Boisguerin I beheld."

"I know he was to return to Paris," said Charles of Montsoreau, "after
accompanying my brother some part of the way back to the château. But
fear not him, dear Marie; he has no power or influence here."

"Oh, but I fear far more wile and intrigue," cried Marie de Clairvaut,
"than I do power and influence, Charles. Power is like a lion, bold
and open; but when once satisfied, injures little; but art is like a
serpent that stings us, without cause, when we least expect it. But
hark!" she continued again. "They are once more shouting loudly."

Charles of Montsoreau listened also, and the cries, repeated again and
again, of "Long live the Duke of Guise! Long live the House of
Lorraine! Long live the good Queen Catherine![5] Life to the Queen!
Life to the Queen!" were heard mingled with thundering huzzas and
acclamations. The heart of the young Count sank, for he judged that
the Duke had gone forth again amongst the people, and had either
forgotten his fate altogether in more important affairs, or had been
deceived by false information regarding himself and Mademoiselle de
Clairvaut.


---------------------

[Footnote 5: The progress of the Duke of Guise and the Queen-mother,
from the convent of the Penitents to the Louvre, was in triumph. "Il y
en avoit," says Auvigny, "qui se mettoient à genoux devant lui,
d'autres lui baisoient les mains; quelques uns se trouvèrent trop
heureux de pouvoir en passant toucher son habit," A farther account of
this famous event is given a few pages farther on.]

---------------------


The cries, which were at first loud and distinct, gradually sunk,
till first the words could no longer be distinguished; then the
acclamations became more and more faint, till the whole died away into
a distant murmur, rising and falling like the sound of the sea beating
upon a stormy shore. The young Count gazed in the countenance of Marie
de Clairvaut, and saw therein written even more despairing feelings
than were in his own heart.

"Fear not, dear Marie," he said pressing her to his bosom. "Fear not;
the Duke must know that I am here by this letter: nor is he one to be
easily deceived. Depend upon it he will find means to deliver us ere
long."

Marie de Clairvaut shook her head with a deep sigh and with her eyes
filled with tears. But she had not time to reply, for steps were heard
in the passage, and the moment after the door of the room was opened.

It was no longer, however, the figure of Catherine de Medici that
presented itself, but the homely person and somewhat unmeaning face of
a good lady, dressed in the habit of a prioress. Behind her, again,
was a lay-sister, and beside them both the attendant who was
accustomed to wait upon the young Count. The good lady who first
appeared looked round the scene that the opening door disclosed to her
with evident marks of curiosity and surprise; and, indeed, the whole
expression of her countenance left little doubt that she had never
been in that place before.

After giving up a minute to her curiosity, however, she turned to
Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, saying, "I have been sent by the Queen,
madam, to conduct you back to your apartments."

"Let me first ask one question," replied Marie de Clairvaut. "Has not
the Duke of Guise been here?"

The nun answered not a word.

"We need no assurance of it, dear Marie," said Charles of Montsoreau,
hoping to drive the Prioress to some answer. "We know that he has, and
must have been deceived in regard to your state and mine."

The Prioress was still silent; and Marie de Clairvaut, after waiting
for a moment, added, "If he have been deceived, Charles, woe to those
who have deceived him. He is not a man to pass over lightly such
conduct as has been shown to me already."

"Madam," said the Prioress, "I have been sent by the Queen to show you
to your apartments."

It was vain to resist or to linger. Marie de Clairvaut gave her hand
to her lover, and they gazed in each other's faces for a moment with a
long and anxious glance, not knowing when they might meet again.
Charles of Montsoreau could not resist; and notwithstanding the
presence of nun, prioress, and attendant, he drew the fair creature
whose hand he held in his gently to his bosom, and pressed a parting
kiss upon her lips.

Marie turned away with her eyes full of tears, and leaving her hand in
his till the last moment, she slowly approached the door. She turned
for one other look ere she departed, and then, dashing the tears from
her eyes, passed rapidly out. The door closed behind her, and Charles
of Montsoreau alone, and almost without hope, buried his face in his
hands, and gave himself up to think over the sweet moments of the
past.



                              CHAP. XII.


It was on the morning of Monday, the 9th of May, 1588, at about half
past eleven o'clock, that a party, consisting of sixteen horsemen, of
whom eight were gentlemen and the rest grooms, appeared at the gates
of Paris. But though each of those eight persons who led the cavalcade
were strong and powerful men, in the prime of life, highly educated,
and generally distinguished in appearance, yet there was one on whom
all eyes rested wherever he passed, and rested with that degree of
wonder and admiration which might be well called forth by the union of
the most perfect graces of person, with the appearance of the greatest
vigour and activity, and with a dignity and beauty of expression which
breathed not only from the countenance, but from the whole person, and
shone out in every movement, as well as in every look.

The gates of the city were at this time open, and though a certain
number of guards were hanging about the buildings on either hand, yet
no questions were asked of any one who came in or went out of the
city. The moment, however, that the party we have mentioned appeared,
and he who was at its head paused for a moment on the inside of the
gate and gazed round, as if looking for some one that he expected to
see there, one of the bystanders whispered eagerly to the other, "It
is the Duke! It is the Duke of Guise!"

All hats were off in a moment; all voices cried, "The Duke! The Duke!"
A loud acclamation ran round the gate, and the people from the small
houses in the neighbourhood poured forth at the sound, rending the air
with their acclamations, and pressing forward round his horse with
such eagerness that it was scarcely possible for him to pass along his
way. Some kissed his hand, some threw themselves upon their knees
before him, some satisfied themselves by merely touching his cloak, as
if it had saintly virtue in it, and still the cry ran on of "The Duke
of Guise! The Duke of Guise! Long live the Duke of Guise!" while every
door-way and alley and court-yard poured forth its multitudes, till
the people seemed literally to crush each other in the streets, and
all Paris echoed with the thundering acclamations.

After that momentary pause at the gates, the Duke of Guise rode on,
uncovering his splendid head, and bowing lowly to the people as he
went. His face had been flushed by exercise when he arrived, but now
the deep excitement of such a reception had taken the colour from his
cheek; he was somewhat pale, and his lip quivered with intense
feeling. But there was a fire in his eye which seemed to speak that
his heart was conscious of great purposes, and ready to fulfil its
high emprise; and there was a degree of stern determination on that
lordly brow, which spoke also the knowledge but the contempt of
danger, and the resolution of meeting peril and overcoming resistance.

Thus passing on amidst the people, and bowing as he went to their
repeated cheers, the Duke of Guise reached the convent of the Black
Penitents, where for the time the Queen-mother had taken up her abode.
The gates of the outer court into which men were suffered to enter
were thrown open to admit him; and signifying to such of the crowd as
were nearest to the gate that they had better not follow him into the
court, the Duke of Guise rode in with his attendants, and the gates
were again closed. The servants and the gentlemen who accompanied him
remained beside their horses in the court, while he alone entered the
parlour of the convent to speak with the Queen-mother.

She did not detain him an instant, but came in with a countenance on
which much alarm was painted, either by nature or by art. The Duke at
once advanced to meet her, and bending low his towering head, he
kissed the hand which she held out to him.

"Alas! my Lord of Guise," she said, "I must not so far falsify the
truth as to say that I am glad to see you. Glad, most glad should I
have been to see you, any where but here. But, alas! I fear you have
come at great peril to yourself, good cousin! You know not how angry
the minds of men are; you know not how much hostility reigns against
you in the breasts of many of the highest of the land; you have not
bethought you, that on every step to the throne there stands an
enemy----"

"Who shall fall before me, madam," replied the Duke of Guise.

"Till you have reached the throne itself, fair cousin?" said the
Queen-mother.

"No, madam, no," answered the Duke of Guise eagerly. "I thought your
Majesty had known me better. I have always believed that you were one
of those who felt and understood that I never dreamt of wronging my
master and my king, or of snatching, as you now hinted, the crown from
its lawful possessor."

"I _have_ felt it, and I _have_ understood it, cousin of Guise,"
replied Catharine de Medici. "But, alas! my Lord, I know how ambition
grows upon the heart. It begins with an acorn, Guise, but it ends with
an oak. Those that watch it, the very soil that bears it, perceive not
its increase; and yet it soon overshadows all things, and root it out
who can!"

"Madam," answered the Duke of Guise, boldly, "to follow the figure
that you have used, the axe soon reduces the oak; and may the axe be
used on me, and ease me of earth's ambition for ever, if any such
designs as have been attributed to me exist within my bosom! You see,
madam, I meet you boldly, look to ultimate consequences of ambitious
designs, and fear not the result. It is such accusations that I come
to repel, and it is those who have propagated them, and instilled them
both into the mind of his Majesty, and, as it would appear, your own,
that I come to punish. Trusting that, humble though I be, your Majesty
was the best friend I had at the court of France, I have ridden
straight hither, without even stopping at my own abode, to beseech you
to accompany me to the presence of the King."

"I do believe, cousin of Guise, that I am your best friend at the
court of France," replied the Princess. "In fact, I may say, I know
that none there loves you but myself. Nor must you think that I accuse
you of actual ambition, or believe the rumours that have been
circulated against you. I merely wish to warn you of the growth of
such things in your own bosom."

"Dear madam," replied the Duke, "had I been ambitious, what might I
not have become? Here am I simply the Duke of Guise; a poor officer,
commanding part of the King's troops, and contributing no small part
of my own to swell his forces; with scarcely a place, a post, a
government, an emolument, or a revenue, except what I derive from my
own estates. Am I the most ambitious man in France? Am I so ambitious
as he who adds, to the government of Metz, the government of Normandy,
and piles upon that Touraine, Anjou, Saintonge, the Angoumois, seizes
upon the office of High-admiral, creates himself Colonel-general of
the Infantry? This, lady, is the ambitious man; but of him you seem to
entertain no fear."

"There are two ambitions, my Lord Duke," replied the Queen: "the
ambition which grasps at power, and the ambition which snatches at
wealth: the moment that ambition mingles itself with avarice, the
grovelling passion, chained in its own sordid bonds, is no longer to
be feared. It is where the object is power; where there is a mind to
conceive the means, and a heart to dare all the risks, that there is
indeed occasion for apprehension and for precaution. Still, my Lord, I
believe you; still I believe that the hand of Guise will never be
raised to pull down the bonnet of Valois. You may strip the minion
Epernon of the golden plumes with which he has decked his mid-air
wings, for aught I care or think of; you may cast down the dark and
plotting Villequier, and sweep the court of apes and parrots, fools
and villains, and the whole tribe of natural and human beasts, without
my saying one word to oppose you, or without my dreaming for a moment
that you aim at higher things; you may even soar higher still, and
like your great father become at once the guide and the defender of
the state, and still I will not fear you. But Guise," she added in a
softer tone, "I must and will still fear _for_ you; and though I will
go with you to the King if you continue to demand it, yet I tell you,
and I warn you, that every step you take is perilous, and that I
cannot be your safeguard nor your surety for a moment!"

"Madam, I must fulfil my fate," replied the Duke of Guise looking up.
"I came here to justify myself; I came here to deliver and to support
my friends; I came here to secure honour and safety to the Catholic
Church; and did I know that the daggers of a hundred assassins would
be in my bosom at the first step I took beyond those gates, I would go
forth as resolutely as I came hither."

"Then I must send to announce your coming to the King," said the
Queen. "Of course I cannot take you to the Louvre unannounced."

Thus saying she quitted the room for a moment, and the Duke remained
behind with his arms crossed upon his bosom in deep thought. She
returned in a moment, however, saying that she had sent one of her
gentlemen upon the errand, and the next minute as the gates were
opened for some one to go out, long and reiterated shouts of "A Guise!
A Guise! Long live the Guise!" were heard echoing round the building.
Catharine de Medici smiled and looked at the Duke. "How often have I
heard," she said, "those same light Parisian tongues exclaim the name
of different princes! I remember well, Guise, when first I came from
my fair native land, how the glad multitude shouted on my way; how all
the streets were strewed with flowers; and how, if I had believed the
words I heard, I should have fancied that not a man in all the land
but would have died to serve me; and yet, not long after, I have heard
execrations murmured in the throats of the dull multitude while I
passed by, and the name of Diana of Poitiers echoed through the
streets. Then have I not heard the names of a Francis and a Henry
shouted far and wide? and after Jarnac and Moncontour, the heavens
were scarcely high enough to hold the sounds of his name who now sits
upon the throne of France. To-day it is Guise they call upon!--Who
shall it be to-morrow? And then another and another still shall come,
the object of an hour's love changed into hatred in a moment."

"It is too true, madam," replied the Duke. "Popularity is the most
fleeting, the most vacillating--if you will, the most contemptible--of
all those means and opportunities which Heaven gives us to be made use
of for great ends. But nevertheless, madam, we must so make use of
them all; and as this same popularity is one of the briefest of the
whole, so must we be the more ready, the more prompt, the more decided
in taking advantage of the short hour of brightness. I may be wrong in
thinking," he continued after the pause of a moment or two, "I may be
wrong in thinking that my well-being and that of the state and church
of this realm are intimately bound up together. It may be, and
probably is, a delusion of human vanity. Nevertheless, such being my
opinion, none can say that I am wrong in taking advantage of the
moment of my popularity to do the best that I can both for the church
and for the state. Such, I assure you, madam, is my object; and if I
benefit myself at all in these transactions, it can be, and shall be,
but collaterally; while in the mean time I incur perils which I know
and yet fear not."

Thus went on the conversation between the Queen and the Duke of Guise
for nearly half an hour, at the end of which time the gentleman who
had been dispatched to the King returned, bearing his Majesty's reply,
which was, that since his mother desired it, she might bring the Duke
of Guise to his presence, and Catherine prepared immediately to set
out. Her chair was brought round; and after speaking a few words with
the superior of the convent, she placed herself in the vehicle, the
Duke of Guise walking by her side. The gentlemen who had come with him
gave their horses to the grooms, and followed on foot; and several
servants and attendants ran on before to clear the way through the
people.

The moment the gates were opened, a spectacle struck the eyes of the
Queen and the Duke, such as no city in the world perhaps, except
Paris, could produce. In the short period which had elapsed since the
Duke's arrival, the news had spread from one end of the capital to the
other, and the whole of its multitudes were poured out into the
streets or lining the windows, or crowning the house-tops. With a
rapidity scarcely to be conceived, scaffoldings had been raised in
that short space of time in different parts of the streets, to enable
the multitude to see the Duke better as he passed[6]; in many places,
velvets and rich tapestries were hung out upon the fronts of the
houses, as if some solemn procession of the church were taking place;
the ladies of the higher classes at the windows, or on their
scaffolds, were generally without the masks which they usually wore in
the streets; and again, when the gates of the convent opened, and the
Queen and the Duke issued forth, the air seemed actually rent with the
acclamations of the people, and a long line of waving hats and
handkerchiefs was seen all the way up the Rue St. Denis.


---------------------

[Footnote 6: This fact is recorded in every account of the proceedings
of that day.]

---------------------


The same gratulations as before met the Duke on every side as he
passed along; the populace seemed absolutely inclined to worship him,
and many threw themselves upon their knees as he passed. He looked
round upon the dense mass of people, upon the crowded houses, upon the
waving hands; he heard from every tongue a welcome, at every step a
gratulation, and it was impossible for the heart of man not to feel at
that moment a pride and a confidence fit to bear him strongly on his
perilous way.

All the way down the Rue St. Denis, and through every other street
that he passed, the same scene presented itself, the same acclamations
followed him, so that the shouts thundered in the ear of the King as
he sat in the Louvre.

At length the Queen and those who accompanied her approached the
palace; and in the open space before it, which was at that time railed
off, was drawn up a long double line of guards, forming a lane through
which it was necessary to pass to the gates. The well-known Crillon,
celebrated for his determination and bravery, was at their head; and
the Duke of Guise, obliged to pause in order to suffer the chair of
the Queen-mother to pass on first, bowed to the commander, whom he
knew and respected.

Crillon scarcely returned his salutation, but looked frowning along
the double row of his soldiery. The people, close by the railings,
watched every movement, and a murmur of something like apprehension
for their favourite ran through them as they watched these signs. But
not a moment's pause marked the slightest hesitation in the Duke of
Guise. With his head raised and his eyes flashing, he drew forward the
hilt of his unconquered sword ready for his hand, and holding the
scabbard in his left, strode after the chair of the Queen till the
gates of the Louvre closed upon him and his train.

A number of officers and gentlemen were waiting in the vestibule to
receive the Queen-mother, who however gave her hand to the Duke of
Guise to assist her from her chair. On him they gazed with eyes of
wonder and of scrutiny, as if they would fain have discovered what
feelings were in the heart of one so hated and dreaded by the King, at
a moment when he stood with closed doors within a building filled with
his enemies, and surrounded by soldiers ready to massacre him at a
word. But the fire which the menacing look of Crillon had brought into
the eyes of the Duke had now passed away, and all was calm dignity and
easy though grave self-possession. The eye wandered not round the
hall; the lip, though not compressed, was firm and motionless, except
when he smiled in saluting some of those around whom he knew, or in
speaking a few words to the Queen-mother, whose dress had become
somewhat entangled with a mantle of sables which she had worn in the
chair.

As soon as it was detached, one of the officers of the household said,
bowing low, "His Majesty has commanded me, Madam, to conduct you and
his Highness of Guise to the chamber of her Majesty the Queen, where
he waits your coming." And he led the way up the stairs of the Louvre
to the somewhat extraordinary audience chamber which the King had
selected.

Henry, when the party entered, was sitting near the side of the bed,
surrounded by several of his officers, one of whom, Alphonzo d'Ornano
by name, whispered something over the King's shoulder with his eyes
fixed upon the Duke of Guise.

The words, which were, "Do you hold him for your friend or your
enemy?" were spoken in such a tone as almost to reach the Duke
himself. The King did not reply, but looked up at the Duke with a
frown that was quite sufficient.

"Speak but the word," said Ornano in a lower tone, "speak but the
word, and his head shall be at your feet in a minute."

The King measured Ornano and the Duke of Guise with his eyes, then
shook his head with somewhat of a scornful smile; and then, looking up
to the Duke, who had by this time come near him, he said in a dull
heavy tone, "What brings you here, my cousin?"

"My Lord," replied the Duke, "I have found it absolutely necessary to
present myself before your Majesty, in order to repel numerous
calumnies."

"Stay, cousin of Guise," said the King; and turning to Bellievre, who
stood amongst the persons behind him, he demanded abruptly, "Did you
not tell me that he would not come to Paris?"

"My Lord Duke," exclaimed Bellievre, not replying directly to the
King's question, but addressing the Duke, "did not your Highness
assure me that you would delay your journey till I returned?"

"Yes, Monsieur de Bellievre," replied the Duke. "But you did not
return."

"But I wrote you two letters, your Highness," replied Bellievre,
"reiterating his Majesty's commands for you not to come to Paris."

"Those letters," replied the Duke of Guise, with a bitter smile, "like
some other letters which have been written to me upon important
occasions, have, from some cause, failed to reach my hands.
Nevertheless, Sire, believe me when I tell you, that my object in
coming is solely to prove to your Majesty that I am not guilty either
of the crimes or the designs which base and grasping men have laid to
my charge. Believe me, that after my devotion to God and our holy
religion, there is no one whom I am so anxious to serve zealously and
devotedly as your Majesty. This you will find ever, Sire, if you will
but give me the opportunity of rendering you any service."

The King was about to reply, but the Queen-mother, who had advanced
and stood by his side, touched his arm saying, "You have not yet
spoken to me, my son." And the King turning towards her, she added
something in a low voice. The King replied in the same tone; and the
Duke of Guise, passing through the midst of the frowning faces ranged
around the royal seat, approached the Queen-consort, the mild and
unhappy Louisa, and addressed a few words to her of reverence and
respect which were gratifying to her ear. He then turned once more to
the King, who seemed to have heard what Catharine de Medici had
to say, and having given his reply, sat in moody silence. The
Queen-mother stood by with some degree of apprehension in her
countenance, as if feeling very doubtful still how the affair would
terminate. The brows of the courtiers were gloomy and undecided, and
the few followers of the Duke of Guise ranged at some distance from
the spot to which he had now advanced, kept their eyes fixed either on
him or on those surrounding the King, as if, at the least menacing
movement, they were ready to start forward in defence of their leader.

The only one that was perfectly calm was Guise himself; but he,
retreading his steps till he stood opposite the King, again addressed
the Monarch saying, "I hope, Sire, that you will give me a full
opportunity of justifying myself."

"Your conduct, cousin of Guise," replied the King, "must best justify
you for the past; and I shall judge by the event, of your intentions
for the future."

"Let it be so," replied the Duke, "and such being the case, I will
humbly take my leave of your Majesty, wishing you, from my heart,
health and happiness."

Thus saying he once more bowed low, and retired from the presence of
the King, followed by the gentlemen who had accompanied him. Not an
individual of the palace stirred a step to conduct him on his way,
though his rank, his services, his genius, and his vast renown,
rendered the piece of neglect they showed disgraceful to themselves
rather than injurious to him. He was accompanied from the gates of the
Louvre, however, and followed to the Hôtel de Guise, by an infinite
number of people, who ceased not for one moment to make the streets
ring with their acclamations.

Nor were these by any means composed entirely of the lowest classes of
the people, the least respectable, or the least well-informed. On the
contrary, it must, alas! be said, that the great majority of all that
was good, upright, and noble in the city hailed his coming loudly as a
security and a safeguard.

A number, an immense number, of the inferior nobility of the realm
were mingled with the crowd that followed him, or joined the acclaim
from the windows. The robes of the law were seen continually in the
dense multitude, and almost all the courts had there numbers of their
principal members; while the municipal officers of the city, with the
exception of two or three, were there in a mass, accompanied by a
large body of the most opulent and respectable merchants.

Thus followed, the Duke of Guise proceeded to his hotel on foot as he
came, speaking from time to time with those who pressed near him with
that peculiar grace which won all hearts, and smiling with the
far-famed smile of his race, which was said never to fall upon any man
without making him feel as if he stood in the sunshine.

Already collected on the steps of the Hôtel de Guise, at the news that
he was returning from the Louvre, was a group of the brightest, the
bravest, the most talented, and the most beautiful of the French
nobility,--Madame de Montpensier, Mademoiselle de St. Beuve, the
Chevalier d'Aumale, Brissac, and a thousand others. The servants and
attendants of his household in gorgeous dresses kept back the crowd
with courteous words and kindly gestures; and when he reached the
steps that led to the high doorway of the porter's lodge, on the right
of the porte cochère, he ascended a little way amongst his gratulating
friends, and then turned and bowed repeatedly to the people, pointing
out here and there some of the most popular of the citizens and
magistrates, and whispering a word to the nearest attendant, who
instantly made his way through the crowd to the spot where the
personage designated stood, and in his master's name requested that he
would come in and take some refreshment.

When this was over, he again bowed and retired; and while the
multitude separated, he walked on into his lordly halls with a number
of persons clinging round him, whom he had not seen for months--for
months which to him had been full of activity, thought, care, and
peril, and to them of anxiety for the head of their race.

As he passed along, however, to a chamber where the dinner which had
been prepared for him had remained untouched for many an hour, his eye
fell upon a boy dressed in the habit of one of his own pages; and
taking suddenly a step forward, he called the boy apart into a window,
demanding eagerly, "Well, have you found your master?"

"I have, your Highness," replied the boy, "and have found means to
give him the letter?"

"What!" exclaimed the Duke, "outwitted Villequier, and Pisani, and
all! The wit of a page against that of a politician for a thousand
crowns!"

"I dressed myself as a girl, your Highness," replied the boy, "and got
into the convent, and then through a gate into what is called the
rector's court, where Doctor Botholph and the Curé live, and where men
are admitted, and women not shut out when they like to go in; and I
got talking to the old verger of the church by the side, and he called
me a pretty little fool, and said he dared to say I would soon be
among the penitents within there; and with that I got him to tell me
every thing, and the whole story of the young Count being brought
there at night, and shut up in what are called the rector's
apartments."

As he spoke, one or two of the higher class of those whom the Duke had
selected from the crowd below, and who felt themselves privileged to
present themselves in his private apartments, entered the hall, and
instantly caught his eye.

"I cannot speak with you more at present, Ignati," he said, "nor,
perhaps, during the whole day, for there is business of life and death
before me; but come to me while I am rising to-morrow, and only tell
me in the mean time where our poor Logères is, for I know not what
convent you mean."

"He is in the rector's court," replied the boy, "close by the convent
of the Black Penitents, in the Rue St. Denis."

"By my faith!" exclaimed the Duke in no slight surprise, "I have been
there this very day myself, and there the Queen-mother has made her
abode for the last ten days. She must be deceiving me; and yet,
perhaps, the mighty matters that occupied her mind when I saw her
might have made her forget all other things. However, Logères shall
not be long so fettered. Come to me to-morrow, Ignati; come to me
to-morrow, as I am rising; and in the mean time, if you can find some
means of giving the Count intimation that he is not forgotten, it were
all the better."

"I will try, my Lord," replied the boy. And the Duke hurried on to
welcome his new guests, making them sit down at table with him, and
covering them with every sort of honour and distinction.



                             CHAP. XIII.


In our dealings with each other there is nothing which we so much
miscalculate as the ever varying value of time, and indeed it is but
too natural to look upon it as it seems to us, and not as it seems to
others. The slow idler on whose head it hangs heavy, holds the man of
business by the button, and remorselessly robs him on the king's
highway of a thing ten times more valuable than the purse that would
hang him if he took it. The man of action and of business whose days
seem but moments, forgets in his dealing with the long expecting
applicant, and the weary petitioner, that to them each moment is far
longer than his day.

The hours, not one minute of which were unfilled to the Duke of Guise,
passed slowly over the head of Charles of Montsoreau, and it seemed as
if the brief gleam of happiness which had come across his path had but
tended to make the long solitary moments seem longer and more dreary;
in fact, to give full and painful effect to solitude and want of
liberty, and yet he would not have lost that gleam for all the world.

He thought of it, he dwelt upon it, he called to mind each and every
particular; and, though it was crossed, as the memory of all such
brief meetings are, with the recollection of a thousand things which
he could have wished to have said, but which he had forgotten, and
also by many a speculation of a painful kind concerning the visit of
the Duke of Guise to the very place in which he was confined, without
the slightest effort being made for his liberation, yet it was a
consolation and a happiness and a joy to him--one of those blessings
which have been stamped by the past with the irrevocable seal of
enjoyment, which are our own, the unalienable jewels of our fate, held
for ever in the treasury of memory.

Nothing occurred through the rest of the day to call his attention, or
to rouse his feelings. He heard the distant murmur, and the shouts of
the people from time to time; but the gates were now shut, and the
sounds dull, and all passed on evenly till darkness shut up the world.
In the mean time he knew--as if to make his state of imprisonment and
inactivity more intolerable--that busy actions were taking place
without, that his own fate was deciding by the hands of others, that
his happiness and that of Marie de Clairvaut formed but a small matter
in the great bulk of political affairs which were then being weighed
between the two angry parties in the capital, and might be tossed into
this scale or that, as accident, or convenience, or policy might
direct.

Though he retired to rest as usual, he slept not, and ever and anon
when a sort of half slumber fell upon his eyes he started up, thinking
he heard some sound, a distant shout of the people, the tolling of a
bell, or the roll of some far off drum. Nothing however occurred, and
the night passed over as the day.

In the grey of the morning, however, just when the slow creaking of a
gate, or the noise of footsteps here and there breaking the previous
stillness, told that the world was beginning to awake, a few sweet
notes suddenly met his ear like those of a musical instrument, and in
a moment after he heard the same air which the boy Ignati had played
with such exquisite skill just before he freed him from his Italian
masters.

"A blessing be upon that boy," he cried, as he instantly recognised
not only the sounds but the touch. "He has come to tell me that I am
not forgotten."

Suddenly, however, before the air was half concluded, the music
stopped, and voices were heard speaking, but not so loud that the
words could be distinguished. It seemed to the young Count, and seemed
truly, that some one had sent the boy away; but though he heard no
more, those very sounds had given him hope and comfort.

Driven away by the old verger, who had now discovered the trick which
had been put upon him the day before, the boy returned with all speed
to the Hôtel de Guise, and, according to the Duke's order, presented
himself in his chamber at the hour of his rising. But the Duke was
already surrounded with people, all eager to speak with him on
different affairs, and his brow was evidently dark and clouded by some
news that he had just heard.

"Send round," he was saying as the boy entered, "Send round speedily
to all the inns, and let those who are known for their fidelity be
informed that the doors of this hotel will never be shut against any
of those who have come to Paris for my service, or for that of the
church, as long as there is a chamber vacant within. And you, my good
Lords," he continued, turning to some of the gentlemen who surrounded
him, "I must call upon your hospitality, also, to provide lodging for
these poor friends of ours, whom this new and iniquitous proceeding of
the court is likely to drive from Paris. But stay, Bussi," he
continued, and his eye fell upon the page as he spoke; "you say you
saw the Prévôt des Marchands but a minute ago in the Rue d'Anvoye
seeking out the lodgers in the inns, and ordering them to quit Paris
immediately. Hasten down after him quickly, and tell him from Henry of
Guise that there is a very dangerous prisoner and a zealous servant of
the church lodged in the Rue St. Denis; that he had better drive him
forth also; and that, if he wants direction to the place where he
sojourns, one of my pages shall lead him thither. You may add,
moreover, that if he do not drive him forth, I will bring him forth
before the world be a day older."

The Duke of Guise then took the pen from the ink which was standing
before him, and, though not yet half-dressed, wrote hastily the few
following words to the Queen-mother:--


"Madam,

"I am informed, on authority which I cannot doubt, that my friend, the
young Count de Logères, is at present in your hands, kept under
restraint in the Rue St. Denis, after having been arrested in the
execution of business with which I charged him, while bearing a
passport from the King. I beseech you to set him immediately at
liberty, and also at once to order that my niece and ward,
Mademoiselle de Clairvaut, be brought to the Hôtel de Guise without an
hour's delay. Let me protest to your Majesty that you have not a more
faithful and devoted servant than

                                  "Henry of Guise."


"I will not send this by you, Ignati," said the Duke; "they would
laugh at a boy. Here, Mestroit, bear this to the Queen-mother.
Say I cast myself at her feet; and bring me back an answer without
delay.--Why, how now, St. Paul!" he continued, turning to a gentleman
who had just entered. "Your brow is as dark as a thunder-cloud. What
has happened now? Shall we be obliged to make our hotel our fortress,
and defend it to the last, like gallant men?"

"Not so, my Lord," replied the Count of St. Paul; "not near so bad as
that: but still these are times that make men look thoughtful; and,
depend upon it, the King, aided by his minions and the Politics[7], is
seeking to inclose your Highness, as it were in a net."


---------------------

[Footnote 7: That party was so called which affected to hold the
balance between the Court and the League, without giving countenance
to the Huguenots.]

---------------------


"We will break through, St. Paul! We will break through!" replied the
Duke with a smile. "But what are your tidings?"

"Why, that orders have been sent to the Swiss to come up from Corbeil,
as well as those from Meulan and Château Thierry; also the companies
of French guards from every quarter in the neighbourhood are called
for, and I myself saw come in, by the Faubourg St. Germain, a body of
two hundred horse, which, upon inquiry, I found to be a new levy from
some place in the South, led by a young Marquis of Montsoreau, whose
name I never heard of before."

"Whenever you hear it again, St. Paul," replied the Duke sternly,
"couple with it the word 'Traitor!' and you will do him justice. But
what force is it said they are bringing into Paris? What stay you for,
Mestroit?" he continued, seeing that the gentleman to whom he had
given the letter had not taken his departure. "What stay you for? I
would have had you there now. Go with all speed! There are horses
enough saddled in the court. I would give a thousand crowns that
letter should be in the Queen's hand before this youth's coming is
known to her. It may save us much trouble hereafter. Fail not to bring
me an answer quick. Now, St. Paul, how many men say you on your best
judgment are they bringing into Paris?"

"Why, your Highness," replied the Count, "some say ten thousand; but,
to judge more moderately from what I hear, the moment your Highness's
arrival in Paris was known, orders were sent for the march of full
seven thousand men."

"We must be very formidable creatures, Brissac," cried the Duke, "that
my coming with seven of you should need seven thousand men to meet us.
On my soul, they will make me think myself a giant. I always thought I
was a tall man--some six foot three, I believe--but, by Heavens! I
must be a Gargantua, indeed, to need seven thousand men to hold me.
Seven thousand men!" he added thoughtfully: "he has not got them, St.
Paul. There are not five thousand within fifty miles of Paris, unless
Epernon and Villequier have contrived to raise more of such
Montsoreaus against us. However, we must have eyes in all quarters.
Send out parties to watch the coming of the troops and give us their
numbers. Let some one speak to the inferior officers of the French
guards, and remind them that the Duke of Guise and the Holy League are
only striving for the maintenance of the true faith, and for the
overthrow of those minions who have swallowed up all the honours and
favours of the crown. It were well also, Brissac, that a good watch
was kept upon the proceedings in the city. I can trust, methinks, to
The Sixteen to do all that is necessary in their different quarters,
and to make full reports of all that takes place; but still a military
eye were as well here and there, from time to time, Brissac, and I
will trust that to you."

The rest of the morning passed in the same incessant activity with
which it had begun; tidings were constantly brought in from all parts
of the town and the country round concerning every movement on the
part of the court; and the hotel of the Duc de Guise was literally
besieged by his followers and partisans. Train after train of noblemen
and officers, of lawyers and citizens, followed each other during the
whole day, each bringing him information, or claiming audience on some
account. Nor were the clergy less numerous; for scarce a parish in the
capital but sent forth, in the course of that day, its train of
priests and monks to congratulate him on his arrival, or to beseech
him to hold up the tottering church of France with a strong hand.

At the same time, the order which had been given by the King in the
morning, for every stranger not domiciled in Paris to quit it within
six hours, and the proceedings of the Prévôt des Marchands to execute
that order had--by driving out of the inns and taverns the multitudes
of the Duke's partisans who had followed him in scattered bodies into
Paris--now filled the Hôtel de Guise with all those of the higher
classes who were thus expelled. The houses of other members of the
faction received the rest. But the stables of the hotel were all
filled to the doors; the great court itself could scarcely be crossed,
on account of the number of horses; and more than once the street
became impassable from the multitude of carriages, chairs, horses, and
attendants, who were waiting while their masters conferred with the
Duke.

It was near mid-day when the gentleman who had been dispatched to
Catharine de Medici again presented himself; and the Duke demanded,
somewhat impatiently, what had detained him so long.

"It was the Queen-mother, your Highness," replied Mestroit. "More than
an hour passed before I could obtain an audience; and when I was
admitted to present your Highness's letter, I found Monsieur de
Villequier with her."

"Did she show the letter to that son of Satan?" demanded the Duke.

"No, sir," replied the other; "on the contrary, she seemed not to wish
that he should see it, for she kept it tight in her hand after she had
read it, and told me to wait a moment, that she would give me an
answer directly."

"I would sooner unriddle the enigma of the sphynx," said the Duke,
"than I would say from what motive any one of that woman's acts
proceed; and yet she has a great mind, and a heart not altogether so
vicious as it seems. What happened then, Mestroit?"

"Why, my Lord, Villequier seemed anxious to know what the letter
contained, and I saw his head a little raised, and his eyes turned
quietly towards it while she was reading, as I have seen a cat regard
a mouse-hole towards which she was stealing upon tiptoes; and he
lingered long, and seem inclined to stay. The Queen, however, begged
him not to forget the orders she had given, but to execute them
instantly; and then he went away. When he was gone, the Queen again
read your Highness's letter, and replied at first, 'The Duke asks what
is not in my power. Tell my noble cousin of Guise that he has been
misinformed; that I hold none of his friends in my power--' Then,
after a moment, she bade me wait, and she would see what persuasion
would do?"

"She must not think to deceive me!" replied the Duke of Guise. "But
what more?"

"She went away," replied the gentleman, "and was absent for full two
hours, leaving me there alone, with nothing to amuse me but the pages
and serving women that came and looked at me from time to time as at a
tiger in a cage. At length she came back, and bade me tell your
Highness these exact words: 'My cousin has been misinformed. I have
none of his people in my hands, or in my power. The Count of Logères,
however, shall be set free before eight and forty hours are over. He
may be set free to-morrow; but by leaving him for a few hours more
where he is, I trust to accomplish for the Duke that which he demands
concerning his ward, although I have no power whatever in the matter."

"There is nothing upon earth," said the Duke thoughtfully, "so
convenient as to have the reality without the name of power. We have
the pleasure without the reproach! Catharine de Medici has not the
power!--Who then has?--I may have the power also, it is true, to right
myself and those who attach themselves to me; and in this instance I
will use it. But still it were better to wait the time she states; for
I know her fair Majesty well, and she never yields any thing without a
delay, to make what she grants seem more important:--and yet, the day
after to-morrow--the day after to-morrow--who shall say what may be,
ere the day after to-morrow comes? This head may be lowly in the dust
ere then."

"Or circled with the crown of France," said the Count de St. Paul.

"God forbid!" exclaimed the Duke earnestly. If I thought that it would
ever produce a scheme to wrest the sceptre from the line that
rightfully holds it, I would bear it to-morrow to the foot of the
throne, myself, as my own accuser. No, no! bad kings may die or be
deposed: but there is still some one on whose brow the crown descends
by right. And let him have it.

"The Cardinal of Bourbon, your Highness," said an attendant entering,
"has just arrived from Soissons. His Eminence is upon the stairs coming
up."

A smile played over the lips of most of the persons present at such an
announcement at that moment, for every one well knew that it was to
the old Cardinal de Bourbon that the party of the League looked, as
the successor to the crown on the death of Henry III., to the
exclusion of the direct line of Navarre, held to be incapable of
succeeding on account of religion. The Duke, however, advanced
immediately with open arms to meet the Cardinal, and many hours were
passed in long conferences between them and the principal officers and
supporters of the League.

At the end of that time, however, towards seven o'clock, a message was
brought into the room where they were in consultation, from Monsieur
de Sainctyon, a well-known adherent of the League, begging earnestly
to speak with the Duke upon matters of deep importance. On the Duke
going out, he found the worthy Leaguer in a state of great excitement
and agitation.

"My Lord," he said, as soon as Guise appeared in the room where he had
been left alone, "I fear that they are busily labouring, at the
palace, for the destruction of your Highness and of the Holy League."

"How so, Monsieur de Sainctyon?" demanded the Duke, who entertained
doubts, it seems, of the Leaguer's sincerity, which were never wholly
removed. "Some of my friends have just returned from the palace, who
tell me that all is as still and quite as the inside of a vault."

"They told your Highness also, I hope," said the Leaguer, "that they
had trebled the guard, both Swiss and French."

"Yes, I was informed of that," replied the Duke. "But that shows fear,
not daring, Monsieur de Sainctyon."

"Perhaps so, my Lord," replied Sainctyon, who was one of the échevins,
or sheriffs of the town; "but perhaps not. However, what I have now to
tell, shows more daring than fear. We were summoned this afternoon at
five o'clock to the Hôtel de Ville, where we found not only Pereuse,
the Prévôt, and Le Comte, who is worse than a Politic, and half a
Huguenot, but the Marquis d'O----"

"Who is worse," said the Duke of Guise, "than minion, or Politic, or
Huguenot, or reiter, equally foul in his debaucheries and his
peculations; equally impudent in his vices and his follies; fit
son-in-law of Villequier; well-chosen master of the wardrobe to the
King of France! Who was there besides, Monsieur de Sainctyon? Some
expedient infamy was of course to be committed, otherwise d'O----
would not have been there."

"There were a number of captains and colonels of the different
quarters," replied Sainctyon, well pleased to see that the Duke now
felt the importance of his intelligence, "and the Prévôt and Le Comte
began to speak what seemed to me at first simple nonsense, in a
confused way, saying, that it was necessary to keep guard in a very
different manner in Paris from that which we were accustomed to use,
for that your coming had excited the minds of the people, and that
there was hourly danger of a revolt, and that it would be better for
all the captains to meet with their companies together in some
particular place, in order to see to the matter. But I replied, that
nothing could be more dangerous than that which was proposed, for that
the companies of armed citizens would be much better as usual, each in
its separate quarter, taking care of that quarter, rather than meeting
altogether in one large body of armed men, which was likely to cause a
tumult immediately. A number of the other colonels cried out the same
thing; but then Monsieur d'O---- cut us all short, saying, 'Give me
none of your reasons, gentlemen. What the Prévôt has stated to you is
the will of the King, and he _must_ be obeyed. The place of your
meeting is the Cemetery of the Innocents, and there you are all
expected to be with your companies at nine o'clock this evening.' Now,
my Lord, I have come to your Highness, by the authority of all the
other colonels in whom we can trust, for counsel and direction in this
business, assuring you that we have heard it is the intention of the
Court to pick out from amongst us thus assembled six or seven of your
most zealous friends and supporters, and execute them early to-morrow
in the Place de Grève."

The Duke paused and thought for a moment ere he replied; but he then
said, "I thank you most sincerely, Monsieur de Sainctyon, for the
intelligence you have brought me. You are mistaken, however, with
regard to what are the intentions of the Court, as you will see in one
moment. The large body of men in arms which you will have with you
when all assembled together, trebles the number of any force in Paris,
so that the least attempt to do you wrong at that moment would be a
signal for the overthrow of the monarchy. On the contrary, Monsieur de
Sainctyon, I believe the thus calling you together in one place has
solely for its object to remove you from the quarters where your
presence would be useful in opposition to the iniquitous proceedings
of your enemies. To arrest somebody--perhaps myself--is doubtless the
object of these persons; and if you would follow my advice, the course
you pursue would be this,--to meet as you have been ordered by the
King, having first communicated all the facts to the persons under
your command whom you can trust. Some one will come to bring you
farther orders, depend upon it; find out what those orders are, and
let them instantly be communicated to me; but on no account or
consideration suffer yourselves to be kept together in one place. On
the contrary, as soon as you have discovered as far as possible what
the designs of your enemies are, lead your companies to their
different quarters, or wherever you may think best to station them. If
you want any farther assistance, send hither; and I will dispatch
experienced officers to take counsel with you as to what is to be
done. I hope your opinion coincides with mine, Monsieur de Sainctyon."

"Your words always carry conviction with them, my Lord," replied the
sheriff; "and I will instantly proceed to obey you."

Thus saying he took his leave, and quitted the Duke, hastening with
the rest of the officers of the city to arm himself cap-a-pie, and
present himself with the burgher guard in the Cemetery of the
Innocents at the appointed hour. When that hour arrived, every thing
through the rest of the city was dark and silent, and but little light
shone from the dim lanterns round the Cemetery upon the dark masses of
armed men that now surrounded it. The officers commanding them looked
in each other's faces, as if expecting that some one amongst them had
orders in regard to what they were farther to do, but for several
minutes no one announced himself as empowered to direct them, and they
had even proposed to separate, when the sheriff Le Comte arrived on
horseback at great haste from the side of the Louvre. Having called
the colonels of the quarters together he said, "The King, having been
informed that this night an enterprise is to be undertaken against his
authority by his enemies, trusts entirely to his citizens of Paris for
the defence of the capital, and consequently commands you, in order to
have a strong point of resistance, to occupy this Cemetery, of which I
have here the keys, till to-morrow morning. All the gates will be shut
except one wicket, and in a very short time the Marquis de Beauvais
Nangis, an experienced officer, will be sent down by the King to
command you."[8]


---------------------

[Footnote 8: This most absurd and impudent proposal would scarcely be
credited, were it not to be found in the _Histoire très veritable,
&c_., written by Sainctyon himself, and published by Michel Jouin in
the very year 1588.]

---------------------


A murmur ran through the officers and through the men, who, as Le
Comte spoke loud, heard every word that passed; but an old captain of
one of the quarters burst forth, a moment after, exclaiming, "What,
shut myself up there, as if in a prison? They must think me mad! Not
I, indeed, for any of them! I have nothing to do with you, Monsieur le
Comte, nor with any of you, except with the inhabitants of my own
quarter, and there I shall go directly. Those may go and shut
themselves up with you that like. Come, my men; march! Who gave
Beauvais Nangis a right to command me, I should like to know? Not the
citizens of Paris, I'm sure: so those may obey him that like him." And
putting himself at the head of his men, he marched out, followed by
almost all the other companies except one or two, who suffered
themselves to be persuaded to enter into the Cemetery, where they were
locked up by Le Compte, to await whatever fate might befall them.

In the mean time the other officers of the burgher guard held a
consultation together, and determined, instead of proceeding
immediately to their different quarters to occupy the principal points
of the city, where they fancied that attempts might be made upon the
life or liberty of the chiefs of the League. The avenues to the Hôtel
de Guise were strongly guarded, the Rue St. Denis was patrolled by a
large party, two companies occupied the Rue St. Honoré, and the
utility of these precautions was strongly demonstrated ere they had
been long taken.

Before midnight the sound of horses was heard by the two companies in
the Rue St. Honoré, and in a moment after appeared the Marquis
d'O----, with as many horse arquebusiers as could be spared from the
palace. The citizens stood to their arms and barred the way, and
d'O----, never very famous for his courage, demanded, in evident
trepidation and surprise, what they did there, when they had been
ordered to be in the Cemetery of the Innocents?

"We came here to do our duty to our fellow-citizens," replied the same
old captain who had spoken before, "and to guard our houses and our
property, for which purpose we are enrolled."

"Well, well, you are right," replied the Marquis, evidently confounded
and undecided; and turning his horse's rein he rode back by the same
way he came, showing evidently that he had been bound upon some
attempt which had been frustrated.

About the same time the party in the Rue St. Denis had been drawn
towards the further end by the noise of horses and the light of
torches; and on advancing they found a number of men on horseback, and
a vacant carriage, with two lights before it, just halting at the
Convent of the Black Penitents. The good citizens, however, were in an
active and interfering mood, and they determined to inquire into an
occurrence which otherwise would have passed over without the
slightest notice. The horsemen, however, did not wait for many
questions; but, evidently as much surprised and embarrassed as the
Marquis d'O----, turned their horses' heads, and made the best of
their way out of the street.



                      END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.



                               London:
                     Printed by A. Spottiswoode,
                          New-Street-Square.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Henry of Guise; (Vol. II of 3) - or, The States of Blois" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home