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: Richelieu, v. 1/3 - A Tale of France
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 "Richelieu, v. 1/3 - A Tale of France" ***

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



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



                               RICHELIEU,

                           A TALE OF FRANCE.

                                VOL. I.

                                LONDON:

                     PRINTED BY S. AND R. BENTLEY,

                      Dorset Street, Fleet Street.



                               RICHELIEU,

                           A TALE OF FRANCE.

                        I advise you that you read
                The Cardinal's malice and his potency
                Together: to consider further, that
                What his high hatred would effect, wants not
                A minister in his power.
                              SHAKSPEARE.


                           IN THREE VOLUMES.

                                VOL. I.

                                LONDON:

                 HENRY COLBURN, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.

                                 1829.



DEDICATION.


TO

MY DEAR SIR,

YOUR name is too great a one to be trifled with, and therefore, I do not
put it at the head of this page. Should your anticipations in favour of
this work be realized, and its success be equal to my utmost hopes, I
dedicate it to you in testimony both of my gratitude for your kindness,
and my admiration for your genius; but should the hand of criticism cut
it short hereafter, or the frost of neglect wither it in the bud, I take
a humbler tone, and beg you only to accept my thanks for your good
wishes and kind encouragement. If it should succeed, you will, I am
sure, receive the work with some pleasure on my account;--if it fail,
you will still accept it as the only means I have of expressing my
feeling of obligation towards you; and, at all events, you will
understand my motive for not prefixing your name to the Dedication of a
book, the fate of which is yet doubtful.

THE AUTHOR.



PREFACE.


DEARLY BELOVED READER,

ALTHOUGH I call the following pages _mine_, and upon the strength of
them write myself Author, yet I must in truth confess, that I have very
little to do with them, and still less to do with the story they record;
and therefore I am fain to treat the world with something of my own
exclusive composition, in the shape of a preface. The facts of the case
are as follow: I one day possessed myself of a bundle of manuscript
notes--no matter when or how, so that they were honestly come by, for
that is all that you, or I, or Sir Richard Birnie, have to do with the
matter. Now I say they were honestly come by, and the _onus probandi_
must rest upon the other party. So no more of that.

My dear Mr. Colburn, where was I? I quite forget--Oh, now I have it!
Having one day possessed myself of a bundle of manuscript
notes,--honestly come by,--I proceeded to read them, and although the
hand was small and crooked, with all the _k_'s shaped like Laocoons, and
every _g_ like a pair of spectacles, yet there was something in the tale
there written, that made me read it through before I rose off my chair,
although I did not then know, what I have since discovered, that every
word of it was true. Now this is an advantage which you, my dear reader,
have over me in perusing this history for the first time; for
unquestionably even upon my pure _ipse dixit_, you will believe that the
whole of the three volumes which follow, is neither more nor less than a
plain and simple narration of facts. Nevertheless, in case there should
be in the world any person so sceptical as to doubt the assertion, even
of a novelist, I will refer my reader to the well-known authorities of
the day, and merely observe, that though there may be some discrepancy
in the dates and some difference in the names, yet every individual
circumstance recorded in these pages, will be found to be collaterally
verified by contemporary writers of good repute, who, however, did not
know so much of the detail of the events in question as are disclosed in
the old manuscript alluded to, nor were they, like the writer of that
document, acquainted with the real causes of those movements which shook
the whole of France, and which, originating in the heart of the Court,
could only be detected by one who was himself a resident there. To you,
my dear reader, whose confidence in my word I know to be as unbounded as
the conscience of a tailor, or the stomach of an alderman, I have only
to remark, that the Hero of my tale is by no means a fabulous person.

My story opens with the latter years of the reign of Louis XIII. King of
France--a period memorable in English annals from the civil wars which
then raged between Charles I. and his rebellious Parliament, and no less
memorable in the history of France, as the most terrific portion of
Richelieu's bloody domination.

At the death of Henry IV. the Regency of the kingdom during her son's
minority, was seized upon by Mary de Medicis, a woman of considerable
talent and of vast ambition, whose primary object seems to have been, so
to secure the sovereign power to herself, that Louis during her life
should remain in a state of tutelage.

In such projects, but still more in her obstinate partiality for the
celebrated Marechal d'Ancre and his wife, originated a thousand
factions and civil wars, which kept the country in a continual state of
tumult during the King's minority. These factions, and the circumstances
which they engendered, necessarily gave rise to various rapid changes in
the Queen's ministry, and amidst these, for the first time, appeared on
the political stage Richelieu, then Bishop of Luçon. His prospects yet
doubtful, and his ambition still in its infancy, Richelieu made mildness
and courtesy his first steps towards pre-eminence. He contented himself
with an inferior station in the Council: his urbanity and his talents
proved equally agreeable and useful; and no one beheld in the calm and
polished Bishop of Luçon, any promise of the aspiring and remorseless
Cardinal de Richelieu.

A circumstance, however, occurred almost in the outset of his career,
which had nearly thrown him for ever from the destined scene of his
aggrandizement. This was the fall of the Marechal d'Ancre, and the
arrest of the Queen-mother.

On the marriage of Louis XIII., the jealous eye of Mary de Medicis soon
perceived her son's first affection towards his young wife, and, fearful
of an influence which might spring up to counteract her own, she found
means to destroy, without remorse, the domestic happiness of her child,
in order to secure her own dominion over him. But while she fomented
every disagreement between Louis and his wife, and watched the least
symptom of reviving affection with the suspicious anxiety of uncertain
power, she blindly suffered near his person a favourite who combined
with the genius to form great designs, the most consummate art to
conceal them. Monsieur de Luynes, it appears, from the first moment of
his intimacy with the King, projected his master's deliverance from the
tyranny of Mary de Medicis; but lest he should be suspected of such
designs, he hid them beneath the mask of levity and thoughtlessness. It
would be little appropriate here to enter more largely into the details
of these proceedings. Suffice it that in the end the Queen's favourite
was shot as he entered the palace of the Louvre, and she herself was
instantly arrested and exiled to Blois. Amongst others of her council
who shared in the fall of the Queen, was Richelieu, and for some time he
remained in exile at Avignon.

The Queen's party, however, was still strong in France; and in her
misfortunes, the factious and discontented, who had formerly opposed her
measures merely because she held the reins of government, now supported
her against the hand to which those reins had been transferred. A civil
war seemed inevitable, and in order to avert such an event, the King's
advisers found themselves obliged to negociate with the Princess, whom
they had dispossessed; but Mary rejected all intercession, and it was
not till the return of Richelieu that any compromise could be effected.
That minister, however, with the deep diplomatic skill for which he was
conspicuous, instantly availed himself of the weak point in the
character of his mistress, and through the medium of her confessor, won
her to his purpose. A reconciliation was now speedily effected between
Mary and her son, and Richelieu having become the friend of the one and
the confident of the other, saw himself placed more surely than ever in
the road to political eminence. Many circumstances combined to
accelerate his progress. The death of the Duke de Luynes, the religious
wars still raging in the heart of the kingdom, and the renewed
differences between the King and his mother,--all gave the rising
minister the means of increasing his power, and the opportunity of
displaying the vast energies of his extraordinary mind. All was subdued
before him; the Queen-mother was exiled; the Protestants were crushed;
and the King himself became the slave of Richelieu.

But power so acquired was only to be maintained at the expense of much
blood. Conspiracy after conspiracy was formed to cast off his dominion,
and more than one insurrection burst forth in opposition to his tyranny;
but each in turn was overthrown, and the blood of the conspirators only
served to cement the fabric of his greatness. Usurped power must still
have some object for suspicion, and after having quelled all his more
powerful adversaries, the jealousy of Richelieu turned towards the young
Queen, persecuting her with such uncalled for virulence as to induce
many to believe that his hatred proceeded from some more private and
personal cause than was apparent.

In the mean time, Louis himself, seldom called upon, except as a state
puppet, to sign some ordonnance, or hold some council under the
direction of Richelieu, lingered on in inactivity, yielding one
privilege after another to the grasping ambition of his minister,
without the dignity of royalty or the peace of private life. It is true
that, on more than one occasion, he was roused by circumstances to put
forth the native energies of his mind, but this was most frequently on
some trifling occurrence. And though the momentary flashes of a vigorous
intellect would show that nature had been originally bountiful to him,
yet he never evinced any steady determination of purpose. Richelieu
spared no pains to secure the power he had acquired; and that he might
leave the King no means of extricating himself, plunged the kingdom in
wars and negociations which he well knew that none but himself could
conduct with success. But here indeed his genius showed itself
resplendent. The government of a world seemed in his hands, and yet he
managed the complicated machine steadily and firmly, with a clear,
discerning eye, and a calm, unshrinking heart. Nevertheless, whether it
was that the multitude of his other avocations diverted his attention
from the minor regulations of the kingdom, or whether, as some believe,
he encouraged a disorganized state of the interior for political
purposes, it must be acknowledged that all contemporary accounts
represent the internal police of France during his administration, as in
a strangely deranged condition--a condition little to have been expected
from the vigour of his government, and the severe exactitude of his
disposition.

But so it was. The partizans of the various factions which had long been
embodied as armies, were fain, after his measures had dispersed them as
considerable bodies, to take refuge in the less cultivated parts of the
country--the mountains, the forests, or the wastes; and as they had
before lived by anarchy, they now contrived to subsist by plunder. The
nobles being called from their strong holds to expensive cities, and
compelled by Richelieu's jealousy to show themselves continually at his
luxurious Court, could no longer maintain the host of retainers which
had formerly revelled at their expense, and these also were obliged to
join themselves to the various bands of freebooters that infested the
country. Occasionally a merciless execution of some of these banditti
awed the rest for a time, but upon examining history, even to the end of
Richelieu's life, we find that while he governed the nobles with a rod
of iron, saw every attempt at conspiracy with a prophet's foresight, and
repressed it with a giant's strength, he overlooked or forgave those
crimes which did not affect his political situation.

Such was the state of France at the opening of the following history:
and now having attempted to prepare my reader's mind for what is to
follow, I have only farther to refer him to the notes at the end of the
third volume, in confirmation of my assertion, that this tale is
entirely true. The manuscript from which it is rendered in its present
form, possessed that air of fact which from the first left very little
doubt on my mind that the narrative was authentic; but not content with
this, I examined the best authorities, and had the pleasure of finding
that every material circumstance was perfectly unquestionable, and from
the acquaintance of the original writer with all the most minute points,
I cannot now divest myself of the idea that he must have been, in some
degree, an actor in what he narrates.

Be that as it may, I feel sure that whoever peruses it to the end will
be perfectly convinced of its truth; and in the hope that many will do
so, I leave them to commence their journey, wishing them all a safe and
happy arrival at its conclusion.



ERRATA.


VOL. I.

  Page 49, line 5, _for_ 'illuminated,' _read_ 'illumined.'
   -- 115, -- 16, _for_ 'shas hent,' _read_ 'has sent.'
   -- 182, -- 15, _for_ 'the side,' _read_ 'your side.'


VOL. II.

  Page 65, line 5, _for_ 'end,' _read_ 'beginning.'
   -- 185, -- 15, _for_ 'whom,' _read_ 'as.'


VOL. III.

  Page 216, line 18, _for_ 'wave,' _read_ 'waive.'
   -- 342, -- 17, _for_ 'laid,' _read_ 'lain.'



RICHELIEU.



CHAPTER I.

     Which shows what a French forest was in the year of our Lord 1642,
     and by whom it was inhabited.


The vast Sylva Lida, which in the days of Charlemagne stretched far
along the banks of the Seine, and formed a woody screen round the infant
city of Paris, has now dwindled to a few thousand acres in the
neighbourhood of St. Germain en Laye. Not so in the time of Louis the
Thirteenth. It was then one of the most magnificent forests of France,
and extending as far as the town of Mantes, took indifferently the name
of the Wood of Mantes, or the Forest of Laye. That portion to the North
of St. Germain has been long cut down: yet there were persons living,
not many years since, who remembered some of the old trees still
standing, bare, desolate, and alone, like parents who had seen the
children of their hopes die around them in their prime.

Although much improvement in all the arts of life, and much increase of
population had taken place during the latter years of Henry the Fourth,
and under the regency of Mary de Medicis; yet at the time of their son
Louis the Thirteenth, the country was still but thinly peopled, and far
different from the gay, thronged land, that it appears to-day. For
besides that it was in earlier days, there had been many a bitter and a
heavy war, not only of France against her enemies, but of France against
her children. Religious and political differences had caused disunion
between man and man, had banished mutual confidence and social
intercourse, and raised up those feuds and hatreds, which destroy
domestic peace, and retard public improvement. Amidst general distrust
and civil wars, industry had received no encouragement; and where stand
at present many a full hamlet and busy village, where the vineyard
yields its abundance, and the peasant gathers in peace the bounty of
Nature, were then the green copses of the forest, the haunt of the wild
boar and the deer. The savage tenants of the wood, however, did not
enjoy its shelter undisturbed; for, in those days of suspicion, hunting
was a safer sport than conversation, and the boughs of the oak a more
secure covering than the gilded ceilings of the saloon.

To our pampered countrymen, long nurtured in that peculiar species of
luxury called comfort, the roads of France even now must seem but rude
and barbarous constructions, when compared with the smooth, joltless
causeways over which they are borne in their own land; but in the time
of Louis the Thirteenth, when all works of the kind were carried on by
the Seigneur through whose estates they passed, few but the principal
roads between one great town and another were even passable for a
carriage. Those, however, which traversing the wood of Mantes, served as
means of access to the royal residence of St. Germain, were of a
superior kind, and would have been absolutely good, had the nature of
the soil afforded a steady foundation: but this was not always to be
found in the forest, and the engineer had shown no small ingenuity in
taking advantage of all the most solid parts of the land, and in
avoiding those places where the marshy or sandy quality of the ground
offered no secure basis. By these circumstances, however, he was obliged
to deviate sadly from those principles of direct progression, so dear to
all Frenchmen; and the road from St. Germain to Mantes, as well as that
which branched off from it to join the high-road to Chartres, instead of
being one interminable, monotonous, straight line, with a long row of
trees, like a file of grenadiers, on each side, went winding in and out
with a thousand turnings amongst the old oaks of the forest, that seemed
to stand forward, and stretch their broad branches across it, as if
willing to shelter it from the obtrusive rays of the sun. Sometimes,
climbing the side of a hill, it would suddenly display a wide view over
the leafy ocean below, till the eye caught the towers and spires of
distant cities breaking the far grey line of the horizon. Sometimes,
descending into the depths of the forest, it would almost seem to lose
itself amongst the wild groves and savannas, being itself the only trace
of man's laborious hand amidst the wilderness around.

In the heart of the wood, at that point where the two roads (which I
have mentioned) divaricated from each other, stood the hut of a Woodman,
and the _abreuvoir_ where many a gay lord of the Court would stop when
his hunting was over, and give his horse time to drink. There, too, many
a traveller would pause to ask his way through the forest; so that
Philip, the woodman, and his young family, were known to almost all whom
business or pleasure brought through the wood of Mantes; and although
during the course of this true history, princes and heroes may become
the subjects of discourse, it is with Philip that we must commence our
tale.

It was at that season of the year, when the first leaves of summer begin
to leave the branches from which they sprang, like the bright and tender
hopes of early years, that fade and fall before the autumn of life has
fully commenced. The sun had abated but little of his force, and the
days scarcely seemed to have contracted their span.

The time of day, too, was like the period of the year, "falling gently
into the sear," so that it was only a scarce perceptible shadow,
stealing over the landscape, which told that the great power of light
was quitting that quarter of the globe, to bestow the equal blessing of
his smile on other nations and on distant climes. That shadow had been
the signal for Philip the woodman to return towards his home, and he
issued forth from one of the forest paths, near his dwelling, singing
as he came the old hunting-song of _Le bon roi Dagobert_.[A]

    "King Dagobert in days of yore
     Put on his hose wrong side before.
     Says St. Eloi, the king's old squire,
     'I would not offend, most gracious Sire,
     But may your slave be soundly switch'd,
     If your Majesty is not oddly breech'd,'
       For you've got the wrong side before.'
     Says the King, 'I do not care a groat;
     One's breeches are scarcely worth a thought;
     A beggar's a king when he's at his ease,
     So turn them about which way you please,
       And be quick, you s----"

[A] This song of _Le bon roi Dagobert_ is in the original very long,
and contains a great deal of witty ribaldry, unfit to be inserted here.
The above is a somewhat free translation of the first verse, which
stands thus in the French:

    "Le bon roy Dagobert
     Mettoit ses culottes à renvers.
     Le bon St. Eloi
     Lui dit, Oh mon Roy!
     Que votre Majesté
     Est bien mal culotté.
     Eh bien, dit ce bon Roy,
     Je consens qu'on les mête à l'endroit."



Now St. Hubert, in all probability, is the only person who correctly
knows how it happened, that the very unmeaning and inapplicable ditty of
_Le bon roi Dagobert_, should have been appropriated exclusively to the
noble exercise of hunting, to which it has no reference whatever; but so
it has been, and even to the present day where is the chasseur who
cannot, as he returns from the chace, blow the notes, or sing the words
of _Le bon roi Dagobert_?

Philip, as woodman, had heard it echoed and re-echoed through the forest
from his very infancy; and now, without even knowing that he did so, he
sang it as a matter of habit, although his mind was occupied upon
another subject: as men are always naturally inclined to employ their
corporeal faculties on some indifferent object, when their mental ones
are intensely engaged in things of deeper interest.

Philip advanced slowly along the road, with his brow knit in such a
manner as to evince that his light song had no part in his thoughts. He
was a man perhaps nearly fifty, still hale and athletic, though a life
of labour had changed the once dark locks of his hair to grey. His
occupation was at once denoted by his dress, which consisted simply of a
long-bodied blue coat of coarse cloth, covered over, except the arms,
with what is called in Britanny, a _Peau de bicque_, or goat-skin: a
pair of leather breeches, cut off above the knee, with thick gaiters to
defend his legs from the thorns, completed his dress below; and a round
broad-brimmed hat was brought far over his eyes, to keep them from the
glare of the declining sun. His apparel was girded round him by a broad
buff belt, in the left of which hung his woodman's knife; in the right
he had placed the huge axe, which he had been using in his morning's
occupation: and thus accoutred, Philip would have been no insignificant
opponent, had he met with any of those lawless rovers, who occasionally
frequented the forest.

As he approached his dwelling, he suddenly stopped, broke off his song,
and turning round, listened for a moment attentively; but the only
noise to be heard was the discordant cry of the jay in the trees round
about; and the only living things visible were a few wild birds
overhead, slowly winging their flight from the distant fields and
vineyards towards their forest home.

Philip proceeded, but he sang no more; and opening the cottage door, he
spoke without entering. "Charles," demanded he, "has the young gentleman
returned, who passed by this morning to hunt?"

"No, father," answered the boy coming forward; "nobody has passed since
you went--I am sure no one has, for I sat on the old tree all the
morning, carving you a sun-dial out of the willow branch you brought
home yesterday;" and he drew forth one of those ingenious little
machines, by means of which the French shepherds tell the time.

"Thou art a good boy," said his father, laying his hand on his head,
"thou art a good boy." But still, as the Woodman spoke, his mind seemed
occupied by some anxiety, for again he looked up the road and listened.
"There are strange faces in the forest," said Philip, not exactly
soliloquizing, for his son was present, but certainly speaking more to
himself than to the boy. "There are strange faces in the forest, and I
fear me some ill deed is to be done. But here they come, thank God!--No!
what is this?"

As he spoke, there appeared, just where the road turned into the wood, a
sort of procession, which would have puzzled any one of later days, more
than it did the Woodman. It consisted of four men on horseback, and four
on foot, escorting a vehicle, the most elegant and tasteful that the age
produced. The people of that day had doubtless very enlarged notions,
and certainly the carriage I speak of would have contained any three of
modern construction (always excepting that in which his most gracious
Majesty the King of England appears on state occasions, and also that of
the Lord Mayor of London City.)

Indeed the one in question was more like a state carriage than any
other; broad at the top, low in the axle, all covered over with painting
and gilding, with long wooden shafts for the horses, and green taffeta
curtains to the windows: and in this guise it came on, swaying and
swaggering about over the ruts in the road, not unlike the bloated Dutch
pug of some over-indulgent dame, waddling slowly on, with its legs far
apart, and its belly almost trailing on the ground.

When the carriage arrived at the _abreuvoir_, by the side of which
Philip had placed himself, the footmen took the bridles from the horses'
mouths to give them drink, and a small white hand, from within, drew
back the taffeta curtain, displaying to the Woodman one of the loveliest
faces he had ever beheld. The lady looked round for a moment at the
forest scene, in the midst of whose wild ruggedness they stood, and then
raised her eyes towards the sky, letting them roam over the clear
deepening expanse of blue, as if to satisfy herself how much daylight
still remained for their journey.

"How far is it to St. Germain, good friend?" said she, addressing the
Woodman, as she finished her contemplations; and her voice sounded to
Philip like the warble of a bird, notwithstanding a slight peculiarity
of intonation, which more refined ears would instantly have decided as
the accent of Roussillon, or some adjacent province: the lengthening of
the _i_, and the swelling roundness of the Spanish _u_, sounding very
differently from the sharp precision peculiar to the Parisian
pronunciation.

"I wish, Pauline, that you would get over that bad habit of softening
all your syllables," said an old lady who sat beside her in the
carriage. "Your French is scarcely comprehensible."

"Dear Mamma!" replied the young lady playfully, "am not I descended
lineally from Clemence Isaure, the patroness of song and chivalry? And I
should be sorry to speak aught but my own _langue d'oc_--the tongue of
the first knights and first poets of France.---- But hark! what is that
noise in the wood?"

"Now help, for the love of God!" cried the Woodman, snatching forth his
axe, and turning to the horsemen who accompanied the carriage; "murder
is doing in the forest. Help, for the love of God!"

But as he spoke, the trampling of a horse's feet was heard, and in a
moment after, a stout black charger came down the road like lightning;
the dust springing up under his feet, and the foam dropping from his
bit.

Half falling from the saddle, half supported by the reins, appeared the
form of a gallant young Cavalier; his naked sword still clasped in his
hand, but now fallen powerless and dragging by the side of the horse;
his head uncovered and thrown back, as if consciousness had almost left
him, and the blood flowing from a deep wound in his forehead, and
dripping amongst the thick curls of his dark brown hair.

The charger rushed furiously on; but the Woodman caught the bridle as he
passed, and with some difficulty reined him in; while one of the
footmen lifted the young gentleman to the ground, and placed him at the
foot of a tree.

The two ladies had not beheld this scene unconcerned; and were
descending from the carriage, when four or five servants in hunting
livery were seen issuing from the wood at the turn of the road,
contending with a very superior party of horsemen, whose rusty
equipments and wild anomalous sort of apparel, bespoke them free of the
forest by not the most honourable franchise.

"Ride on, ride on!" cried the young lady to those who had come with her:
"Ride on and help them;" and she herself advanced to give aid to the
wounded Cavalier, whose eyes seemed now closed for ever.

He was as handsome a youth as one might look upon: one of those forms
which we are fond to bestow upon the knights and heroes that we read of
in our early days, when unchecked fancy is always ready to give her
bright conceptions "a local habitation and a name." The young lady,
whose heart had never been taught to regulate its beatings by the
frigid rules of society, or the sharp scourge of disappointment, now
took the wounded man's head upon her knee, and gazed for an instant upon
his countenance, the deadly paleness of which appeared still more
ghastly from the red streams that trickled over it from the wound in his
forehead. She then attempted to staunch the blood, but the trembling of
her hands defeated her purpose, and rendered her assistance of but
little avail.

The elder lady had hitherto been giving her directions to the footmen,
who remained with the carriage, while those on horseback rode on towards
the fray. "Stand to your arms, Michel!" cried she. "You take heed to the
coach. You three, draw up across the road, each with his arquebuse ready
to fire. Let none but the true men pass.--Fie! Pauline; I thought you
had a firmer heart." She continued, approaching the young lady, "Give me
the handkerchief.--That is a bad cut in his head, truly; but here is a
worse stab in his side." And she proceeded to unloose the gold loops of
his hunting-coat, that she might reach the wound. But that action
seemed to recall, in a degree, the senses of the wounded Cavalier.

"Never! never!" he exclaimed, clasping his hand upon his side, and
thrusting her fingers away from him, with no very ceremonious
courtesy,--"never, while I have life."

"I wish to do you no harm, young Sir, but good," replied the old
lady;--"I seek but to stop the bleeding of your side, which is draining
your heart dry."

The wounded man looked faintly round, his senses still bewildered,
either by weakness from loss of blood, or from the stunning effects of
the blow on his forehead. He seemed, however, to have caught and
comprehended some of the words which the old lady addressed to him, and
answered them by a slight inclination of the head, but still kept his
hand upon the breast of his coat, as if he had some cause for wishing it
not to be opened.

The time which had thus elapsed more than sufficed to bring the
horsemen, who had accompanied the carriage, (and who, as before stated,
had ridden on before) to the spot where the servants of the Cavalier
appeared contending with a party, not only greater in number, but
superior in arms.

The reinforcement which thus arrived, gave a degree of equality to the
two parties, though the freebooters might still have retained the
advantage, had not one of their companions commanded them, in rather a
peremptory manner, to quit the conflict. This personage, we must remark,
was very different, in point of costume, from the forest gentry with
whom he herded for the time. His dress was a rich livery suit of Isabel
and silver; and indeed he might have been confounded with the other
party, had not his active co-operation with the banditti (or whatever
they might be) placed the matter beyond a doubt.

Their obedience, also, to his commands showed, that if he were not the
instigator of the violence we have described, at least his influence
over his lawless companions was singularly powerful; for at a word from
him they drew off from a combat in which they were before engaged with
all the hungry fury of wolves eager for their prey; and retreated in
good order up the road, till its windings concealed them from the view
of the servants to whom they had been opposed.

These last did not attempt to follow, but turning their horses, together
with those who had brought them such timely aid, galloped up to the spot
where their master lay. When they arrived, he had again fallen into a
state of apparent insensibility, and they all flocked round him with
looks of eager anxiety, which seemed to speak more heartfelt interest
than generally existed between the murmuring vassal and his feudal lord.

One sprightly boy, who appeared to be his page, sprang like lightning
from the saddle, and kneeling by his side, gazed intently on his face,
as if to seek some trace of animation. "They have killed him!" he cried
at length, "I fear me they have killed him!"

"No, he is not dead," answered the old lady; "but I wish, Sir Page, that
you would prevail on your master to open his coat, that we may staunch
that deep wound in his side."

"No, no! that must not be," cried the boy quickly; "but I will tie my
scarf round the wound." So saying, he unloosed the rich scarf of blue
and gold, that passing over his right shoulder crossed his bosom till it
nearly reached the hilt of his sword, where forming a large knot it
covered the bucklings of his belt. This he bound tightly over the spot
in his master's side from whence the blood flowed; and then asked
thoughtfully, without raising his eyes, "But how shall we carry him to
St. Germain?"

"In our carriage," said the young lady; "we are on our way thither, even
now."

The sound of her voice made the Page start, for since his arrival on the
spot, he had scarcely noticed any one but his master, whose dangerous
situation seemed to occupy all his thoughts: but now there was something
in that sweet voice, with its soft Languedocian accent, which awakened
other ideas, and he turned his full sunny face towards the lady who
spoke.

"Good heavens!" exclaimed she, as that glance showed her a countenance
not at all unfamiliar to her memory: "Is not this Henry de La Mothe, son
of our old farmer Louis?"

"No other indeed, Mademoiselle Pauline," replied the boy; "though,
truly, I neither hoped nor expected to see you at such a moment as
this."

"Then who"--demanded the young lady, clasping her hands with a look of
impatient anxiety--"in the name of heaven, tell me who is this!"

For an instant, and but for an instant, a look of arch meaning played
over the boy's countenance; but it was like a flash of lightning on a
dark cloud, lost as quickly as it appeared, leaving a deep gloom behind
it, as his eye fell upon the inanimate form of his master. "That,
Madam," said he, while something glistened brightly, but sadly, in his
eye, "that is Claude Count de Blenau."

Pauline spoke not, but there was a deadly paleness come upon her face,
which very plainly showed, how secondary a feeling is general
benevolence, compared with personal interest.

"Is it possible?" exclaimed the elder lady, her brow darkening
thoughtfully. "Well, something must be done for him."

The Page did not seem particularly well pleased with the tone in which
the lady spoke, and, in truth, it had betrayed more pride than
compassion.

"The best thing that can be done for him, Madame la Marquise," answered
he, "is to put him in the carriage and convey him to St. Germain as soon
as possible, if you should not consider it too much trouble."

"Trouble!" exclaimed Pauline; "trouble! Henry de La Mothe, do you think
that my mother or myself would find any thing a trouble, that could
serve Claude de Blenau, in such a situation?"

"Hush, Pauline!" said her mother. "Of course we shall be glad to serve
the Count--Henry, help Michel and Regnard to place your master in the
carriage.--Michel, give me your arquebuse; I will hold it till you have
done.--Henry, support your master's head."

But Pauline took that post upon herself, notwithstanding a look from the
Marchioness, if not intended to forbid, at least to disapprove. The
young lady, however, was too much agitated with all that had occurred to
remark her mother's looks, and following the first impulse of her
feelings, while the servants carried him slowly to the carriage, she
supported the head of the wounded Cavalier on her arm, though the blood
continued to flow from the wound in his forehead, and dripped amidst the
rich slashing of her Spanish sleeves, dabbling the satin with which it
was lined.

"Oh Mademoiselle!" said the Page, when their task was accomplished,
"this has been a sad day's hunting. But if I might advise," he
continued, turning to the Marchioness, "the drivers must be told to go
with all speed."

"Saucy as a page!" said the old lady, "is a proverb, and a good one.
Now, Monsieur La Mothe, I do not think the drivers must go with all
speed; for humbly deferring to your better opinion, it would shake your
master to death."

The Page bit his lip, and his cheek grew somewhat red, in answer to the
high dame's rebuke, but he replied calmly, "You have seen, Madam, what
has happened to-day, and depend on it, if we be not speedy in getting
out of this accursed forest, we shall have the same good gentry upon us
again, and perhaps in greater numbers. Though they have wounded the
Count, they have not succeeded in their object; for he has still about
him that which they would hazard all to gain."

"You are in the right, boy," answered the lady: "I was over-hasty. Go
in, Pauline. Henry, your master's horse must carry one of my footmen, of
whom the other three can mount behind the carriage--thus we shall go
quicker. You, with the Count's servants, mix with my horsemen, and keep
close round the coach; and now bid them, on, with all speed." Thus
saying, she entered the vehicle; and the rest having disposed
themselves according to her orders, the whole cavalcade was soon in
motion on the road to St. Germain.



CHAPTER II.

     In which new characters are brought upon the stage, and some dark
     hints given respecting them.


The sun had long gone down, and the large clear autumn moon had risen
high in his stead, throwing a paler, but a gentler light upon the wood
of Laye, and the rich wild forest-scenery bordering the road from St.
Germain to Mantes. The light, unable to pierce the deeper recesses of
the wood, fell principally upon those old and majestic trees, the
aristocracy of the forest, which, raising their heads high above their
brethren of more recent growth, seemed to look upon the beam in which
they shone, as the right of elder birth, and due alone to their aspiring
height. The deep shadows of their branches fell in long sombre shapes
across the inequalities of the road, leaving but glimpses every now and
then, to light the footsteps of whatever being might wander there at
that hour of silence.

On one of those spots where the full beams fell, stood the cottage of
Philip, the woodman: and the humble hut with its straw thatch, the open
space of ground before it, with a felled oak which had lain there
undisturbed till a coat of soft green moss had grown thick over its
rugged bark, the little stream dammed up to afford a sufficient supply
of water for the horses, and the large square block of stone to aid the
traveller in mounting, all were displayed in the clear moonlight as
plainly as if the full day had shone upon them.

Yet, however fair might be the night, there were very few who would have
chosen the beams of the moon to light them across the wood of Mantes. In
sooth, in those days sunshine was the best safeguard to travellers. For
France swarmed with those who gathered in their harvest at night, and
who (to use their own phrase) had turned their swords into
reaping-hooks.

Two grand objects fully occupied the mind of that famous minister, the
Cardinal de Richelieu (who then governed the kingdom with almost
despotic sway): the prosecution of those mighty schemes of foreign
policy, which at the time shook many a throne, and in after years
changed more than one dynasty; and the establishment of his own power at
home, which, threatened by factions, and attacked by continual
conspiracies, was supported alone by the terror of his name, and the
favour of a weak and irresolute monarch. These more immediate calls upon
his attention gave him but little time to regulate the long-neglected
police of the country; and indeed it was whispered, that Richelieu not
only neglected, but knowingly tolerated many of the excesses of the
times; the perpetrators of which were often called upon to do some of
those good services which statesmen occasionally require of their less
circumspect servants. It was said too, that scarce a forest in France
but sheltered a band of these free rovers, who held themselves in
readiness to merit pardon for their other offences, by offending in the
State's behalf whenever it should be demanded, and in the mean time took
very sufficient care to do those things on their own account for which
they might be pardoned hereafter.

We may suppose then, it rarely happened that travellers chose that hour
for passing through the wood of Mantes, and that those who did so were
seldom of the best description. But on the night I speak of, two
horsemen wound slowly along the road towards the cottage of the Woodman,
with a sort of sauntering, idle pace, as if thoughtless of danger, and
entirely occupied in their own conversation.

They were totally unattended also, although their dress bespoke a high
station in society, and by its richness might have tempted a robber to
inquire farther into their circumstances. Both were well armed with
pistol, sword, and dagger, and appeared as stout cavaliers as ever
mounted horse, having, withal, that air of easy confidence, which is
generally the result of long familiarity with urgent and perilous
circumstances.

Having come near the _abreuvoir_, one of the two gave his horse to drink
without dismounting, while the other alighted, and taking out the bit,
let his beast satisfy its thirst at liberty. As he did so, his eye
naturally glanced over the ground at the foot of the tree. Something
caught his attention; and stooping down to examine more closely, "Here
is blood, Chavigni!" he exclaimed; "surely, they have never been stupid
enough to do it here, within sight of this cottage."

"I hope they have not done it at all, Lafemas," replied the other. "I
only told them to tie him, and search him thoroughly; but not to give
him a scratch, if they could avoid it."

"Methinks, thou hast grown mighty ceremonious of late, and somewhat
merciful, Master Chavigni," replied his companion; "I remember the time,
when you were not so scrupulous. Would it not have been the wiser way,
to have quieted this young plotter at once, when your men had him in
their hands?"

"Thou wert born in the Fauxbourg St. Antoine, I would swear, and served
apprenticeship to a butcher," replied Chavigni. "Why, thou art as fond
of blood, Lafemas, as if thou hadst sucked it in thy cradle! Tell me,
when thou wert an infant Hercules, didst thou not stick sheep, instead
of strangling serpents?"

"Not more than yourself, lying villain!" answered the other in a quick
deep voice, making his hand sound upon the hilt of his sword. "Chavigni,
you have taunted me all along the road; you have cast in my teeth things
that you yourself caused me to do. Beware of yourself! Urge me not too
far, lest you leave your bones in the forest!"

"Pshaw, man! pshaw!" cried Chavigni, laughing: "Here's a cool-headed
judge! Here's the calm placid Lafemas! Here's the Cardinal's gentle
hangman, who can condemn his dearest friends to the torture with the
same meek look that he puts on to say grace over a Beccafico, suddenly
metamorphosed into a bully and a bravo in the wood of Mantes.--But hark
ye, Sir Judge!" he added, in a prouder tone, tossing back the plumes of
his hat, which before hung partly over his face, and fixing his full
dark eye upon his companion, who still stood scowling upon him with
ill-repressed passion--"Hark ye, Sir Judge! Use no such language towards
me, if you seek not to try that same sharp axe you have so often ordered
for others. Suffice it for you to know, in the present instance, that it
was not the Cardinal's wish that the young man should be injured. _We_
do not desire blood, but when the necessity of the State requires it to
be shed. Besides, man," and he gradually fell into his former jeering
tone--"besides, in future, under your gentle guidance, and a touch or
two of the _peine forte et dure_, this young nightingale may be taught
to sing, and, in short, be forced to tell us all he knows. Now do you
understand?"

"I do, I do," replied Lafemas. "I thought that there was some deep,
damnable wile that made you spare him; and as to the rest, I did not
mean to offend you. But when a man condemns his own soul to serve you,
you should not taunt him, for it is hard to bear."

"Peace! peace!" cried Chavigni, in a sharp tone; "let me hear no more in
this strain. Who raised you to what you are? We use you as you deserve;
we pay you for your services; we despise you for your meanness; and as
to your soul," he added with a sneer, "if you have any fears on that
head--why you shall have absolution. Are you not our dog, who worries
the game for us? We house and feed you, and you must take the lashes
when it suits us to give them. Remember, Sir, that your life is in my
hand! One word respecting the affair of Chalais mentioned to the
Cardinal, brings your head to the block! And now let us see what is this
blood you speak of?"

So saying, he sprang from his horse, while Lafemas, as he had been
depicted by his companion, hung his head like a cowed hound, and in
sullen silence pointed out the blood, which had formed a little pool at
the foot of the tree, and stained the ground in several places round
about.

Chavigni gazed at it with evident symptoms of displeasure and
uneasiness; for although, when he imagined that the necessities of the
State required the severest infliction on any offender, no one was more
ruthless than himself as to the punishment, no one more unhesitating as
to the means--although, at those times, no bond of amity, no tie of
kindred, would have stayed his hand, or restrained him in what he
erroneously considered his political duty; yet Chavigni was far from
naturally cruel; and, as his after life showed, even too susceptible of
the strongest and deepest affections of human nature.

In his early youth, the Cardinal de Richelieu had remarked in him a
strong and penetrating mind; but above all, an extraordinary power of
governing and even subduing the ardent passions by which he was at times
excited. As son to the Count de Bouthilliers, one of the oldest members
of the Privy Council, the road to political preferment was open to
Chavigni; and Richelieu, ever fearful of aught that might diminish his
power, and careful to strengthen it by every means, resolved to bind the
young Count to his cause by the sure ties of early habit and mutual
interest. With this view he took him entirely under his own protection,
educated him in his own line of policy, instilled into him, as
principles, the deep stern maxims of his own mighty and unshrinking
mind, and having thus moulded him to his wish, called him early to the
council-table, and intrusted him with a greater share of his power and
confidence than he would have yielded to any other man.

Chavigni repaid the Cardinal with heartfelt gratitude, with firm
adherence, and uncompromising service. In private life, he was
honourable, generous, and kind; but it was his axiom, that all must
yield to State necessity, or (as he said) in other words, to the good of
his country; and upon the strength of this maxim, which, in fact, was
the cause of every stain that rests upon his memory, he fancied himself
a patriot!

Between Chavigni and the Judge Lafemas, who was the Jeffreys of his
country, and had received the name of _Le Bourreau du Cardinal_, existed
a sort of original antipathy; so that the Statesman, though often
obliged to make use of the less scrupulous talents of the Judge, and
even occasionally to associate with him, could never refrain for any
length of time from breaking forth into those bitter taunts which often
irritated Lafemas almost to frensy. The hatred of the Judge, on his
part, was not less strong, even at the times it did not show itself; and
he still brooded over the hope of exercising his ungentle functions upon
him who was at present, in a degree, his master.

But to return, Chavigni gazed intently on the spot to which Lafemas
pointed. "I believe it is blood, indeed," said he, after a moment's
hesitation, as if the uncertainty of the light had made him doubt it at
first: "they shall rue the day that they shed it contrary to my
command. It is blood surely, Lafemas: is it not?"

"Without a doubt," said Lafemas; "and it has been shed since mid-day."

"You are critical in these things, I know," replied the other with a
cool sneer; "but we must hear more of this, Sir Judge, and ascertain
what news is stirring, before we go farther. Things might chance, which
would render it necessary that one or both of us should return to the
Cardinal. We will knock at this cottage and inquire.--Our story must
run, that we have lost our way in the wood, and need both rest and
direction."

So saying, he struck several sharp blows with the hilt of his sword
against the door, whose rickety and unsonorous nature returned a
grumbling indistinct sound, as if it too had shared the sleep of the
peaceable inhabitants of the cottage, and loved not to be disturbed by
such nocturnal visitations. "So ho!" cried Chavigni; "will no one hear
us poor travellers, who have lost our way in this forest!"

In a moment after, the head of Philip, the woodman, appeared at the
little casement by the side of the door, examining the strangers, on
whose figures fell the full beams of the moon, with quite sufficient
light to display the courtly form and garnishing of their apparel, and
to show that they were no dangerous guests. "What would ye, Messieurs?"
demanded he, through the open window: "it is late for travellers."

"We have lost our way in your wood," replied Chavigni, "and would fain
have a little rest, and some direction for our farther progress. We will
pay thee well, good man, for thy hospitality."

"There is no need of payment, Sir," said the Woodman, opening the door.
"Come in, I pray, Messieurs.--Charles!" he added, calling to his son,
"get up and tend these gentlemen's horses. Get up, I say, Sir Sluggard!"

The boy crept sleepily out of the room beyond, and went to give some of
the forest-hay to the beasts which had borne the strangers thither, and
which gave but little signs of needing either rest or refreshment. In
the mean while, his father drew two large yew-tree seats to the
fire-side, soon blew the white ashes on the hearth into a flame, and
having invited his guests to sit, and lighted the old brazen lamp that
hung above the chimney, he bowed low, asking how he could serve them
farther; but as he did so, his eye ran over their persons with a
half-satisfied and inquiring glance, which made Lafemas turn away his
head. But Chavigni answered promptly to his offer of service: "Why now,
good friend, if thou couldst give us a jug of wine, 'twould be well and
kindly done, for we have ridden far."

"This is no inn, Sir," replied Philip, "and you will find my wine but
thin: nevertheless, such as it is, most welcomely shall you taste."

From whatever motive it proceeded, Philip's hospitality was but lukewarm
towards the strangers; and the manner in which he rinsed out the
tankard, drew the wine from a _barrique_ standing in one corner of the
room, half covered with a wolf-skin, and placed it on a table by the
side of Chavigni, bespoke more churlish rudeness than good-will. But the
Statesman heeded little either the quality of his reception or of his
wine, provided he could obtain the information he desired; so, carrying
the tankard to his lips, he drank, or seemed to drink, as deep a draught
as if its contents had been the produce of the best vineyard in Medoc.
"It is excellent," said he, handing it to Lafemas, "or my thirst does
wonders. Now, good friend, if we had some venison-steaks to broil on
your clear ashes, our supper were complete."

"Such I have not to offer, Sir," replied Philip, "or to that you should
be welcome too."

"Why, I should have thought," said Chavigni, "the hunters who ran down a
stag at your door to-day, should have left you a part, as the woodman's
fee."

"Do you know those hunters, Sir?" demanded Philip, with some degree of
emphasis.

"Not I, in truth," replied Chavigni; though the colour rose in his
cheek, notwithstanding his long training to courtly wile and political
intrigue, and he thanked his stars that the lamp gave but a faint and
glimmering light: "Not I, in truth; but whoever ran him down got a good
beast, for he bled like a stag of ten. I suppose they made the _curée_
at your door?"

"Those hunters, Sir," replied Philip, "give no woodman's fees; and as to
the stag, he is as fine a one as ever brushed the forest dew, but he has
escaped them this time."

"How! did he get off with his throat cut?" demanded Chavigni, "for there
is blood enough at the foot of yon old tree, to have drained the
stoutest stag that ever was brought to bay."

"Oh! but that is not stag's blood!" interrupted Charles, the woodman's
son, who had by this time not only tended the strangers' horses, but
examined every point of the quaint furniture with which it was the
fashion of the day to adorn them. "That is not stag's blood; that is the
blood of the young Cavalier, who was hurt by the robbers, and taken away
by--"

At this moment the boy's eye caught the impatient expression of his
father's countenance.

"The truth is, Messieurs," said Philip, taking up the discourse, "there
was a gentleman wounded in the forest this morning. I never saw him
before, and he was taken away in a carriage by some ladies, whose faces
were equally strange to me."

"You have been somewhat mysterious upon this business, Sir Woodman,"
said Chavigni, his brow darkening as he spoke; "why were you so tardy in
giving us this forest news, which imports all strangers travelling
through the wood to know?"

"I hold it as a rule," replied Philip boldly, "to mind my own business,
and never to mention any thing I see; which in this affair I shall do
more especially, as one of the robbers had furniture of Isabel and
silver;" and as he spoke he glanced his eye to the scarf of Chavigni,
which was of that peculiar mixture of colours then called Isabel,
bordered by a rich silver fringe.

"Fool!" muttered Chavigni between his teeth; "Fool! what need had he to
show himself?"

Lafemas, who had hitherto been silent, now came to the relief of his
companion: taking up the conversation in a mild and easy tone, "Have you
many of these robbing fraternity in your wood?" said he; "if so, I
suppose we peril ourselves in crossing it alone." And, without waiting
for any answer, he proceeded, "Pray, who was the cavalier they
attacked?"

"He was a stranger from St. Germain," answered the Woodman; "and as to
the robbers, I doubt that they will show themselves again, for fear of
being taken."

"They did not rob him then?" said the Judge. Now nothing that Philip had
said bore out this inference; but Lafemas possessed in a high degree the
talent of cross-examination, and was deeply versed in all the thousand
arts of entangling a witness, or leading a prisoner to condemn himself.
But there was a stern reserve about the Woodman which baffled the
Judge's cunning: "I only saw the last part of the fray," replied Philip,
"and therefore know not what went before."

"Where was he hurt?" asked Lafemas; "for he lost much blood."

"On the head and in the side," answered the Woodman.

"Poor youth!" cried the Judge in a pitiful tone. "And when you opened
his coat, was the wound a deep one?"

"I cannot judge," replied Philip, "being no surgeon."

It was in vain that Lafemas tried all his wiles on the Woodman, and that
Chavigni, who soon joined in the conversation, questioned him more
boldly. Philip was in no communicative mood, and yielded them but little
information respecting the events of the morning.

At length, weary of this fruitless interrogation, Chavigni started
up--"Well, friend!" said he, "had there been danger in crossing the
forest, we might have stayed with thee till daybreak; but, as thou
sayest there is none, we will hence upon our way." So saying he strode
towards the door, the flame-shaped mullets of his gilded spurs jingling
over the brick-floor of Philip's dwelling, and calling the Woodman's
attention to the knightly rank of his departing guest. In a few minutes
all was prepared for their departure, and having mounted their horses,
the Statesman drew forth a small silk purse tied with a loop of gold,
and holding it forth to Philip, bade him accept it for his services. The
Woodman bowed, repeating that he required no payment.

"I am not accustomed to have my bounty refused," said Chavigni proudly;
and dropping the purse to the ground, he spurred forward his horse.

"Now, Lafemas," said he, when they had proceeded so far as to be beyond
the reach of Philip's ears, "what think you of this?"

"Why, truly," replied the Judge, "I deem that we are mighty near as wise
as we were before."

"Not so," said Chavigni. "It is clear enough these fellows have failed,
and De Blenau has preserved the packet: I understand it all. His
Eminence of Richelieu, against my advice, has permitted Madame de
Beaumont and her daughter Pauline to return to the Queen, after an
absence of ten years. The fact is, that when the Cardinal banished them
the Court, and ordered the Marchioness to retire to Languedoc, his views
were not so extended as they are now, and he had laid out in his own
mind a match between one of his nieces and this rich young Count de
Blenau; which, out of the royal family, was one of the best alliances in
France. The boy, however, had been promised, and even, I believe,
affianced by his father, to this Pauline de Beaumont; and accordingly
his Eminence sent away the girl and her mother, with the same
_sangfroid_ that a man drives a strange dog out of his court-yard; at
the same time he kept the youth at Court, forbidding all communication
with Languedoc: but now that the Cardinal can match his niece to the
Duke D'Enghien, De Blenau may look for a bride where he lists, and the
Marquise and her daughter have been suffered to return. To my knowledge,
they passed through Chartres yesterday morning on their way to St.
Germain."

"But what have these to do with the present affair?" demanded Lafemas.

"Why thus has it happened," continued Chavigni. "The youth has been
attacked. He has resisted, and been wounded. Just then, up come these
women, travelling through the forest with a troop of servants, who join
with the Count, and drive our poor friends to cover. This is what I have
drawn from the discourse of yon surly Woodman."

"You mean, from your own knowledge of the business," replied Lafemas,
"for he would confess nothing."

"Confess, man!" exclaimed Chavigni.--"Why he did not know that he was
before a confessor, and still less before a Judge, though thou wouldest
fain have put him to the question. I saw your lip quivering with anxiety
to order him the torture; rack, and thumb-screw, and _oubliette_ were
in your eye, every sullen answer he gave."

"Were it not as well to get him out of the way?" demanded Lafemas. "He
remarked your livery, Chavigni, and may blab."

"Short-sighted mole!" replied his companion. "The very sulkiness of
humour which has called down on him thy rage, will shield him from my
fears--which might be quite as dangerous. He that is so close in one
thing, depend upon it, will be close in another. Besides, unless he
tells it to the trees, or the jays, or the wild boars, whom should he
tell it to? I would bet a thousand crowns against the Prince de Conti's
brains, or the Archbishop Coadjutor's religion, or Madame de
Chevreuse's--reputation, or against any thing else that is worth
nothing, that this good Woodman sees no human shape for the next ten
years, and then all that passes between them will be, "Good day,
Woodman!'--'Good day, Sir!'--and he mimicked the deep voice of him of
whom they spoke. But, notwithstanding this appearance of gaiety,
Chavigni was not easy; and even while he spoke, he rode on with no small
precipitation, till, turning into a narrow forest path, the light of the
moon, which had illuminated the greater part of the high road, was cut
off entirely by the trees, and the deep gloom obliged them to be more
cautious in proceeding. At length, however, they came to a little
savanna, surrounded by high oaks, where Chavigni entirely reined in his
horse, and blew a single note on his horn, which was soon answered by a
similar sound at some distance.



CHAPTER III.

     Which shows what a French forest was at night, and who inhabited
     it.


Those whom either the love of sylvan sports, or that calm meditative
charm inherent to wood scenery, has tempted to explore the deeper
recesses of the forest, must be well aware that many particular glades
and coverts will often lie secret and undiscovered, amidst the mazes of
the leafy labyrinth, even to the eyes of those long accustomed to
investigate its most intricate windings. In those countries where forest
hunting is a frequent sport, I have more than once found myself led on
into scenes completely new, when I had fancied that long experience had
made me fully acquainted with every rood of the woodland round about,
and have often met with no small trouble in retracing the spot, although
I took all pains to observe the way thither, and fix its distinctive
marks in my memory.

In the heart of the forest of St. Germain, at a considerable distance
from any of the roads, or even by-paths of the wood, lay a deep dingle
or dell, which probably had been a gravel-pit many centuries before, and
might have furnished forth sand to strew the halls of Charlemagne, for
aught I know to the contrary. However, so many ages had elapsed since it
had been employed for such purpose, that many a stout oak had sprung,
and flourished, and withered round about it, and had left the ruins of
their once princely forms crumbling on its brink. At the time I speak
of, a considerable part of the dell itself was filled up with tangled
brush-wood, which a long hot season had stripped and withered; and over
the edge hung a quantity of dry shrubs and stunted trees, forming a
thick screen over the wild recess below.

One side, and one side only, was free of access, and this was by means
of a small sandy path winding down into the bottom of the dell, between
two deep banks, which assumed almost the appearance of cliffs as the
road descended. This little footway conducted, it is true, into the most
profound part of the hollow, but then immediately lost itself in the
thick underwood, through which none but a very practised eye would have
discovered the means of entering a deep lair of ground, sheltered by the
steep bank and its superincumbent trees on one side, and concealed by a
screen of wood on every other.

On the night I have mentioned, this well concealed retreat was tenanted
by a group of men, whose wild attire harmonized perfectly with the
rudeness of the scene around. The apparel of almost every class was
discernible among them, but each vesture plainly showed, that it had
long passed that epoch generally termed "better days;" and indeed, the
more costly had been their original nature, the greater was their
present state of degradation. So that what had once been the suit of
some gay cavalier of the court, and which doubtless had shone as such in
the circles of the bright and the fair, having since passed through the
hands of the page, who had perhaps used it to personate his master, and
the _fripier_, who had tried hard to restore it to a degree of lustre,
and the poor petitioner who had bought it and borne it second-hand to
court, and lost both his labour and his money--having passed through
these, and perhaps a thousand other hands, it had gradually acquired
that sort of undefinable tint, which ought properly to be called old-age
colour, and at present served, and only served, to keep its owner from
the winds of heaven. At the same time the buff jerkin which covered the
broad shoulders of another hard by, though it had never boasted much
finery, had escaped with only a few rusty stains from its former
intimacy with a steel cuirass, and a slight greasy gloss upon the left
side, which indicated its owner's habit of laying his hand upon his
sword.

Here, too, every sort of offensive weapon was to be met with. The long
Toledo blade with its basket hilt and black scabbard tipped with steel;
the double-handed heavy sword, which during the wars of the League had
often steaded well the troops of Henry the Fourth, when attacked by the
superior cavalry of the Dukes of Guise and Mayenne, and which had been
but little used since; the poniard, the stiletto, the heavy petronel, or
horse pistol, and the smaller girdle pistol, which had been but lately
introduced, were all to be seen, either as accompaniments to the dress
of some of the party, or scattered about on the ground, where they had
been placed for greater convenience.

The accoutrements of these denizens of the forest were kept in
countenance by every other accessory circumstance of appearance; and a
torch stuck in the sand in the midst, glared upon features which
Salvator might have loved to trace. It was not alone the negligence of
personal appearance, shown in their long dishevelled hair and untrimmed
beards, which rendered them savagely picturesque, but many a furious
passion had there written deep traces of its unbounded sway, and marked
them with that wild undefinable expression, which habitual vice and
lawless licence are sure to leave behind in their course.

At the moment I speak of, wine had been circulating very freely amongst
the robbers; for such indeed they were. Some were sleeping, either with
their hands clasped over their knees and their heads drooping down to
meet them, or stretched more at their ease under the trees, snoring loud
in answer to the wind, that whistled through the branches. Some sat
gazing with a wise sententious look on the empty gourds, many of which,
fashioned into bottles, lay scattered about upon the ground: and two or
three, who had either drunk less of the potent liquor, or whose heads
were better calculated to resist its effects than the rest, sat
clustered together singing and chatting by turns, arrived exactly at
that point of ebriety, where a man's real character shows itself,
notwithstanding all his efforts to conceal it.

The buff jerkin we have spoken of, covered the shoulders of one among
this little knot of choice spirits, who still woke to revel after sleep
had laid his leaden mace upon their companions; and it may be remarked,
that a pair of broader shoulders are rarely to be seen than those so
covered.

Wouvermans is said to have been very much puzzled by a figure in one of
his pictures, which, notwithstanding all his efforts, he could never
_keep down_ (as painters express it). Whatever he did, that one figure
was always salient, and more prominent than the artist intended; nor was
it till he had half blotted it out, that he discovered its original
defect was being too large. Something like Wouvermans' figure, the
freebooter I speak of, stood conspicuous amongst the others, from the
Herculean proportion of his limbs; but he had, in addition, other
qualities to distinguish him from the rest. His brow was broad, and of
that peculiar form to which physiognomists have attached the idea of a
strong determined spirit; at the same time, the clear sparkle of his
blue Norman eye bespoke an impetuous, but not a depraved mind.

A deep scar was apparent on his left cheek; and the wound which had been
its progenitor, was most probably the cause of a sneering turn in the
corner of his mouth, which, with a bold expression of daring confidence,
completed the mute history that his face afforded, of a life spent in
arms, or well, or ill, as circumstances prompted,--an unshrinking heart,
which dared every personal evil, and a bright but unprincipled mind,
which followed no dictates but the passions of the moment.

He was now in his gayest mood, and holding a horn in his hand, trolled
forth an old French ditty, seeming confident of pleasing, or perhaps
careless whether he pleased or not.

    "Thou'rt an ass, Robin, thou'rt an ass,
       To think that great men be
     More gay than I that lie on the grass
       Under the greenwood tree.
     I tell thee no, I tell thee no,
     The Great are slaves to their gilded show.

     Now tell me, Robin, tell me,
       Are the ceilings of gay saloons
     So richly wrought as yon sky we see,
       Or their glitter so bright as the moon's?
     I tell thee no, I tell thee no,
     The Great are slaves to their gilded show.

     Say not nay, Robin, say not nay!
       There is never a heart so free,
     In the vest of gold, and the palace gay,
       As in buff 'neath the forest tree.
     I tell thee yea, I tell thee yea,
     The Great were made for the poor man's prey."

So sang the owner of the buff jerkin, and his song met with more or less
applause from his companions, according to the particular humour of
each. One only amongst the freebooters seemed scarcely to participate in
the merriment. He had drunk as deeply as the rest, but he appeared
neither gay, nor stupid, nor sleepy; and while the tall Norman sang, he
cast, from time to time, a calm sneering glance upon the singer, which
showed no especial love, either for the music, or musician.

"You sing about prey," said he, as the other concluded the last stanza
of his ditty--"You sing about prey, and yet you are no great falcon,
after all; if we may judge from to-day."

"And why not, Monsieur Pierrepont Le Blanc?" demanded the Norman,
without displaying aught of ill-humour in his countenance: "though they
ought to have called you Monsieur Le Noir--Mr. Black, not Mr.
White.--Nay, do not frown, good comrade; I speak but of your beard, not
of your heart. What, art thou still grumbling, because we did not cut
the young Count's throat outright?"

"Nay, not for that," answered the other, "but because we have lost the
best man amongst us, for want of his being well seconded."

"You lie, Parbleu!" cried the Norman, drawing his sword, and fixing his
thumb upon a stain, about three inches from the point. "Did not I lend
the youth so much of my iron toothpick? and would have sent it through
him, if his horse had not carried him away. But I know you, Master
Buccaneer--You would have had me stab him behind, while Mortagne slashed
his head before. That would have been a fit task for a Norman
gentleman, and a soldier! I whose life he saved too!"

"Did you not swear, when you joined our troop," demanded the other, "to
forget every thing that went before?"

The Norman hesitated; he well remembered his oath, against which the
better feelings of his heart were perhaps sometimes rebellious. He felt,
too, confused at the direct appeal the other had made to it; and to pass
it by, he caught at the word forget, answering with a stave of the
song--

    "Forget! forget! let slaves forget
       The pangs and chains they bear;
     The brave remember every debt
       To honour, and the fair.
     For these are bonds that bind us more,
     Yet leave us freer than before.

"Yes, let those that can do so, forget: but I very well remember, at the
battle at Perpignan, I had charged with the advance guard, when the fire
of the enemy's musketeers, and a masked battery which began to enfilade
our line, soon threw our left flank into disorder, and a charge of
cavalry drove back De Coucy's troop. Mielleraye's standard was in the
hands of the enemy, when I and five others rallied to rescue it. A
gloomy old Spaniard fired his petronel and disabled my left arm, but
still I held the standard-pole with my right, keeping the standard
before me; but my Don drew his long Toledo, and had got the point to my
breast, just going to run it through me and standard and all, as I've
often spitted a duck's liver and a piece of bacon on a skewer; when,
turning round my head, to see if no help was near, I perceived this
young Count de Blenau's banderol, coming like lightning over the field,
and driving all before it; and blue and gold were then the best colours
that ever I saw, for they gave me new heart, and wrenching the
standard-pole round--But hark, there is the horn!"

As he spoke, the clear full note of a hunting-horn came swelling from
the south-west; and in a moment after, another, much nearer to them,
seemed to answer the first. Each, after giving breath to one solitary
note, relapsed into silence; and such of the robbers as were awake,
having listened till the signal met with a reply, bestirred themselves
to rouse their sleeping companions, and to put some face of order upon
the disarray which their revels had left behind.

"Now, Sir Norman," cried he that they distinguished by the name of Le
Blanc; "we shall see how Monseigneur rates your slackness in his cause.
Will you tell him your long story of the siege of Perpignan?"

"Pardie!" cried the other, "I care no more for him, than I do for you.
Every man that stands before me on forest ground is but a man, and I
will treat him as such."

"Ha! ha! ha!" exclaimed his companion; "it were good to see thee bully a
privy counsellor; why, thou darest as soon take a lion by the beard."

"I dare pass my sword through his heart, were there need," answered the
Norman; "but here they come,--stand you aside and let me deal with him."

Approaching steps, and a rustling sound in the thick screen of wood
already mentioned, as the long boughs were forced back by the passage
of some person along the narrow pathway, announced the arrival of those
for whom the robbers had been waiting.

"Why, it is as dark as the pit of Acheron!" cried a deep voice amongst
the trees. "Are we never to reach the light I saw from above? Oh, here
it is.--Chauvelin, hold back that bough, it has caught my cloak." As the
speaker uttered the last words, an armed servant, in Isabel and silver,
appeared at the entrance of the path, holding back the stray branches,
while Chavigni himself advanced into the circle of robbers, who stood
grouped around in strange picturesque attitudes, some advancing boldly,
as if to confront the daring stranger that thus intruded on their
haunts, some gazing with a kind of curiosity upon the being so different
from themselves, who had thus placed himself in sudden contact with
them, some lowering upon him with bended heads, like wolves when they
encounter a nobler beast of prey.

The Statesman himself advanced in silence; and, with something of a
frown upon his brow, glanced his eye firmly over every face around, nor
was there an eye amongst them that did not sink before the stern
commanding fire of his, as it rested for a moment upon the countenance
of each, seeming calmly to construe the expression of the features, and
read into the soul beneath, as we often see a student turn over the
pages of some foreign book, and collect their meaning at a glance.

"Well, Sirs," said he at length, "my knave tells me, that ye have failed
in executing my commands."

The Norman we have somewhat minutely described heretofore, now began to
excuse himself and his fellows; and was proceeding to set forth that
they had done all which came within their power and province to do, and
was also engaged in stating, that no man could do more, when Chavigni
interrupted him. "Silence!" cried he, with but little apparent respect
for these lords of the forest, "I blame ye not for not doing more than
ye could do; but how dare ye, mongrel bloodhounds, to disobey my strict
commands? and when I bade ye abstain from injuring the youth, how is it
ye have mangled him like a stag torn by the wolves?"

The Norman turned with a look of subdued triumph towards him who had
previously censured his forbearance. "Speak, speak, Le Blanc!" cried he;
"answer Monseigneur.--Well," continued he, as the other drew back, "the
truth is this, Sir Count: we were divided in opinion with respect to the
best method of fulfilling your commands, so we called a council of
war--"

"A council of war!" repeated Chavigni, his lip curling into an ineffable
sneer. "Well, proceed, proceed! You are a Norman, I presume--and
braggart, I perceive.--Proceed, Sir, proceed!"

Be it remarked, that by this time the influence of Chavigni's first
appearance had greatly worn away from the mind of the Norman. The
commanding dignity of the Statesman, though it still, in a degree,
overawed, had lost the effect of novelty; and the bold heart of the
freebooter began to reproach him for truckling to a being who was
inferior to himself, according to his estimate of human dignities--an
estimate formed not alone on personal courage, but also on personal
strength.

However, as we have said, he was, in some measure, overawed; and though
he would have done much to prove his daring in the sight of his
companions, his mind was not yet sufficiently wrought up to shake off
all respect, and he answered boldly, but calmly, "Well, Sir Count, give
me your patience, and you shall hear. But my story must be told my own
way, or not at all. We called a council of war, then, where every man
gave his opinion, and my voice was for shooting Monsieur de Blenau's
horse as he rode by, and then taking advantage of the confusion among
his lackeys, to seize upon his person, and carrying him into St.
Herman's brake, which lies between Le Croix de bois and the river--You
know where I mean, Monseigneur?"

"No, truly," answered the Statesman; "but, as I guess, some deep part of
the forest, where you could have searched him at your ease--The plan
was a good one. Why went it not forward?"

"You shall hear in good time," answered the freebooter, growing somewhat
more familiar in his tone. "As you say, St. Herman's brake is deep
enough in the forest--and if we had once housed him there, we might have
searched him from top to toe for the packet--ay, and looked in his
mouth, if we found it no where else. But the first objection was, that
an arquebuse, though a very pretty weapon, and pleasant serviceable
companion in broad brawl and battle, talks too loud for secret service,
and the noise thereof might put the Count's people on their guard before
we secured his person. However, they say '_a Norman cow can always get
over a stile_,' so I offered to do the business with yon arbalete;" and
he pointed to a steel cross-bow lying near, of that peculiar shape which
seems to unite the properties of the cross-bow and gun, propelling the
ball or bolt by means of the stiff arched spring and cord, by which
little noise is made, while the aim is rendered more certain by a long
tube similar to the barrel of a musket, through which the shot passes.

"When was I ever known to miss my aim?" continued the Norman. "Why, I
always shoot my stags in the eye, for fear of hurting the skin. However,
Mortagne--your old friend, Monsieur de Chavigni--who was a sort of band
captain amongst us, loved blood, as you know, like an unreclaimed
falcon; besides, he had some old grudge against the Count, who turned
him out of the Queen's anteroom, when he was Ancient in the Cardinal's
guard. He it was who over-ruled my proposal. He would have shot him
willingly enough, but your gentleman would not hear of that; so we
attacked the Count's train, at the turn of the road--boldly, and in the
face. Mortagne was lucky enough to get a fair cut at his head, which
slashed through his beaver, and laid his skull bare, but went no
farther, only serving to make the youth as savage as a hurt boar; for I
had only time to see his hand laid upon his sword, when its cross was
knocking against Mortagne's ribs before, and the point shining out
between his blade-bones behind. It was done in the twinkling of an eye."

"He is a gallant youth," said Chavigni; "he always was from a boy; but
where is your wounded companion?"

"Wounded!" cried the Norman. "Odds life! he's dead. It was enough to
have killed the Devil. There he lies, poor fellow, wrapped in his cloak.
Will you please to look upon him, Sir Counsellor?" and snatching up one
of the torches, he approached the spot where the dead man lay, under a
bank covered with withered brush-wood and stunted trees.

Chavigni followed with a slow step and gloomy brow, the robbers drawing
back at his approach; for though they held high birth in but little
respect, the redoubted name and fearless bearing of the Statesman had
power over even their ungoverned spirits. He, however, who had been
called Pierrepont Le Blanc by the tall Norman, twitched his companion by
the sleeve as he lighted Chavigni on. "A cowed hound, Norman!"
whispered he--"thou hast felt the lash--a cowed hound!"

The Norman glanced on him a look of fire, but passing on in silence, he
disengaged the mantle from the corpse, and displayed the face of his
dead companion, whose calm closed eyes and unruffled features might have
been supposed to picture quiet sleep, had not the ashy paleness of his
cheek, and the drop of the under-jaw, told that the soul no longer
tenanted its earthly dwelling. The bosom of the unfortunate man remained
open, in the state in which his comrades had left it, after an
ineffectual attempt to give him aid; and in the left side appeared a
small wound, where the weapon of his opponent had found entrance, so
trifling in appearance, that it seemed a marvel how so little a thing
could overthrow the prodigious strength which those limbs announced, and
rob them of that hardy spirit which animated them some few hours before.

Chavigni gazed upon him, with his arms crossed upon his breast, and for
a moment his mind wandered far into those paths, to which such a sight
naturally directs the course of our ideas, till, his thoughts losing
themselves in the uncertainty of the void before them, by a sudden
effort he recalled them to the business in which he was immediately
engaged.

"Well, he has bitterly expiated the disobedience of my commands; but
tell me," he said, turning to the Norman, who still continued to hold
the torch over the dead man, "how is it ye have dared to force my
servant to show himself, and my liveries, in this attack, contrary to my
special order?"

"That is easily told," answered the Norman, assuming a tone equally bold
and peremptory with that of the Statesman. "Thus it stands, Sir Count:
you men of quality often employ us nobility of the forest to do what you
either cannot, or dare not do for yourselves; then, if all goes well,
you pay us scantily for our pains; if it goes ill, you hang us for your
own doings. But we will have none of that. If we are to be falcons for
your game, we will risk the stroke of the heron's bill, but we will not
have our necks wrung after we have struck the prey. When your lackey was
present, it was your deed. Mark ye that, Sir Counsellor?"

"Villain, thou art insolent!" cried Chavigni, forgetting, in the height
of passion, the fearful odds against him, in case of quarrel at such a
moment. "How dare you, slave, to--"

"Villain! and slave!" cried the Norman, interrupting him, and laying his
hand on his sword. "Know, proud Sir, that I dare any thing. You are now
in the green forest, not at council-board, to prate of daring."

Chavigni's dignity, like his prudence, became lost in his anger.
"Boasting Norman coward!" cried he, "who had not even courage, when he
saw his leader slain before his face--"

The Norman threw the torch from his hand, and drew his weapon; but
Chavigni's sword sprang in a moment from the scabbard. He was, perhaps,
the best swordsman of his day; and before his servant (who advanced,
calling loudly to Lafemas to come forth from the wood where he had
remained from the first) could approach, or the robbers could show any
signs of taking part in the fray, the blades of the statesman and the
freebooter had crossed, and, maugre the Norman's vast strength, his
weapon was instantly wrenched from his hand, and, flying over the heads
of his companions, struck against the bank above.

Chavigni drew back, as if to pass his sword through the body of his
opponent; but the one moment he had been thus engaged, gave time for
reflection on the imprudence of his conduct, and calmly returning his
sword to its sheath, "Thou art no coward, after all," said he,
addressing the Norman in a softened tone of voice; "but trust me,
friend, that boasting graces but little a brave man. As for the rest, it
is no disgrace to have measured swords with Chavigni."

The Norman was one of those men so totally unaccustomed to command their
passions, that, like slaves who have thrown off their chains, each
struggles for the mastery, obtains it for a moment, and is again
deprived of power by some one more violent still.

The dignity of the Statesman's manner, the apparent generosity of his
conduct, and the degree of gentleness with which he spoke, acted upon
the feelings of the Norman, like the waves of the sea when they meet the
waters of the Dordogne, driving them back even to their very source with
irresistible violence. An unwonted tear trembled in his eye.
"Monseigneur, I have done foul wrong," said he, "in thus urging you,
when you trusted yourself amongst us. But you have punished me more by
your forbearance, than if you had passed your sword through my body."

"Ha! such thoughts in a freebooter!" cried Chavigni. "Friend, this is
not thy right trade. But what means all this smoke that gathers round
us?--Surely those bushes are on fire;--see the sparks how they rise!"

His remark called the eyes of all upon that part of the dingle, into
which the Norman had incautiously thrown his torch, on drawing his
sword upon the Statesman. Continued sparks, mingled with a thick cloud
of smoke, were rising quickly from it, showing plainly that the fire had
caught some of the dry bushes thereabout; and in a moment after a bright
flame burst forth, speedily communicating itself to the old withered
oaks round the spot, and threatening to spread destruction into the
heart of the forest.

In an instant all the robbers were engaged in the most strenuous
endeavours to extinguish the fire; but the distance, to which the vast
strength of the Norman had hurled the torch among the bushes, rendered
all access extremely difficult. No water was to be procured, and the
means they employed, that of cutting down the smaller trees and bushes
with their swords and axes, instead of opposing any obstacle to the
flames, seemed rather to accelerate their progress. From bush to bush,
from tree to tree, the impetuous element spread on, till, finding
themselves almost girt in by the fire, the heat and smoke of which were
becoming too intense for endurance, the robbers abandoned their useless
efforts to extinguish it, and hurried to gather up their scattered arms
and garments, before the flames reached the spot of their late revels.

The Norman, however, together with Chavigni and his servant, still
continued their exertions; and even Lafemas, who had come forth from his
hiding-place, gave some awkward assistance; when suddenly the Norman
stopped, put his hand to his ear, to aid his hearing amidst the cracking
of the wood and the roaring of the flames, and exclaimed, "I hear horse
upon the hill--follow me, Monseigneur. St. Patrice guide us! this is a
bad business:--follow me!" So saying, three steps brought him to the
flat below, where his companions were still engaged in gathering
together all they had left on the ground.

"Messieurs!" he cried to the robbers, "leave all useless lumber; I hear
horses coming down the hill. It must be a lieutenant of the forest, and
the _gardes champétres_, alarmed by the fire--Seek your horses,
quick!--each his own way. We meet at St. Herman's brake--You,
Monseigneur, follow me, I will be your guide; but dally not, Sir, if,
as I guess, you would rather be deemed in the Rue St. Honoré, than in
the Forest of St. Germain."

So saying, he drew aside the boughs, disclosing a path somewhat to the
right of that by which Chavigni had entered their retreat, and which
apparently led to the high sand-cliff which flanked it on the north. The
Statesman, with his servant and Lafemas, followed quickly upon his
steps, only lighted by the occasional gleam of the flames, as they
flashed and flickered through the foliage of the trees.

Having to struggle every moment with the low branches of the hazel and
the tangled briars that shot across the path, it was some time ere they
reached the bank, and there the footway they had hitherto followed
seemed to end. "Here are steps," said the Norman, in a low voice; "hold
by the boughs, Monseigneur, lest your footing fail. Here is the first
step."

The ascent was not difficult, and in a few minutes they had lost sight
of the dingle and the flames by which it was surrounded; only every now
and then, where the branches opened, a broad red light fell upon their
path, telling that the fire still raged with unabated fury. A moment or
two after, they could perceive that the track entered upon a small
savanna, on which the moon was still shining, her beams showing with a
strange sickly light, mingled as they were with the fitful gleams of the
flames and the red reflection of the sky. The whole of this small plain,
however, was quite sufficiently illuminated to allow Chavigni and his
companion to distinguish two horses fastened by their bridles to a tree
hard by; and a momentary glance convinced the Statesman, that the spot
where he and Lafemas had left their beasts, was again before him,
although he had arrived there by another and much shorter path than that
by which he had been conducted to the rendezvous.

"We have left all danger behind us, Monseigneur," said the robber, after
having carefully examined the savanna, to ascertain that no spy lurked
amongst the trees around. "The flies are all swarming round the flames.
There stand your horses--mount, and good speed attend you! Your servant
must go with me, for our beasts are not so nigh."

Chavigni whispered a word in the robber's ear, who in return bowed low,
with an air of profound respect. "I will attend your Lordship--" replied
he, "--and without fear."

"You may do so in safety," said the Statesman, and mounting his horse,
after waiting a moment for the Judge, he took his way once more towards
the high road to St. Germain.



CHAPTER IV.

     In which the learned reader will discover that it is easy to raise
     suspicions without any cause, and that royalty is not patent
     against superstition.


We must now return to the principal personage of our history, and
accompany him on his way towards St. Germain, whither he was wending
when last we left him.

There are some authors fond of holding their readers in suspense, of
bringing them into unexpected situations, and surprising them into
applause. All such things are extremely appropriate in a novel or
romance; but as this is a true and authentic history, and as eke I
detest what theatrical folks call "claptrap," I shall proceed to record
the facts in the order in which they took place, as nearly as it is
possible to do so, and will, like our old friend Othello, "a round
unvarnished tale deliver."

The distance to St. Germain was considerable, and naturally appeared
still longer than it really was, to persons unacquainted with one step
of the road before them, and apprehensive of a thousand occurrences both
likely and unlikely. Nothing, however, happened to interrupt them on the
way; and their journey passed over, not only in peace, but pretty much
in silence also. Both the ladies who occupied the inside of the
carriage, seemed to be very sufficiently taken up with their own
thoughts, and no way disposed to loquacity, so that the only break to
the melancholy stillness which hung over them, was now and then a
half-formed sentence, proceeding from what was rapidly passing in the
mind of each, or the complaining creak of the heavy wheels, as they
ground their unwilling way through the less practicable parts of the
forest road.

At times, too, a groan from the lips of their wounded companion
interrupted the silence, as the roughness of the way jolted the
ponderous vehicle in which he was carried, and re-awakened him to a
sense of pain.

Long ere they had reached St. Germain, night had fallen over their road,
and nothing could be distinguished by those within the carriage, but the
figures of the two horsemen who kept close to the windows. The interior
was still darker, and it was only a kind of inarticulate sob from the
other side, which made the Marchioness inquire, "Pauline! you are not
weeping?"

The young lady did not positively say whether she was so or not, but
replied in a voice which showed her mother's conjecture to be well
founded.

"It was not thus, Mamma," she said, "that I had hoped to arrive at
St-Germain."

"Fie, fie! Pauline," replied the old lady; "I have long tried to make
you feel like a woman, and you are still a child, a weak child. These
accidents, and worse than these, occur to every one in the course of
life, and they must be met with fortitude. Have you flattered yourself
that _you_ would be exempt from the common sorrows of humanity?"

"But if he should die?" said Pauline, with the tone of one who longs to
be soothed out of their fears. The old lady, however, applied no such
unction to the wound in her daughter's heart. Madame de Beaumont had
herself been reared in the school of adversity; and while her mind and
principles had been thus strengthened and confirmed, her feelings had
not been rendered more acute. In the present instance, whether she spoke
it heedlessly, or whether she intended to destroy one passion by
exciting another, to cure Pauline's grief by rousing her anger, her
answer afforded but little consolation. "If he dies," said she dryly,
"why I suppose the fair lady, whose picture he has in his bosom, would
weep, and you----"

A deep groan from their wounded companion broke in upon her speech, and
suggested to the Marchioness that he might not be quite so insensible
as he seemed. Such an answer, too, was not so palatable to Pauline as to
induce her to urge the conversation any farther; so that Silence again
resumed her empire over the party, remaining undisturbed till the old
lady, drawing back the curtain, announced that they were entering St.
Germain.

A few minutes more brought them to the lodging of the Count de Blenau;
and here the Marchioness descending, gave all the necessary directions
in order that the young gentleman might be carried to his
sleeping-chamber in the easiest and most convenient method, while
Pauline, without proffering any aid, sat back in a dark corner of the
carriage. Nor would any thing have shown that she was interested in what
passed around her, but when the light of a torch glared into the
vehicle, discovering a handkerchief pressed over her eyes to hide the
tears she could not restrain.

As soon as the Count was safely lodged in his own dwelling, the carriage
proceeded towards the palace, which showed but little appearance of
regal state. However the mind of Pauline might have been accustomed to
picture a court in all the gay and splendid colouring which youthful
imagination lends to anticipated pleasure, her thoughts were now far too
fully occupied, to admit of her noticing the lonely and deserted
appearance of the scene. But to Madame de Beaumont it was different.
She, who remembered St. Germain in other days, looked in vain for the
lights flashing from every window of the palace; for the servants
hurrying along the different avenues, the sentinels parading before
every entrance, and the gay groups of courtiers and ladies, in all the
brilliant costume of the time, which used to crowd the terrace and
gardens to enjoy the cool of the evening after the sun had gone down.

All that she remembered had had its day; and nothing remained but
silence and solitude. A single sentry, at the principal gate, was all
that indicated the dwelling of a king; and it was not till the carriage
had passed under the archway, that even an attendant presented himself
to inquire who were the comers at that late hour.

The principal domestic of Madame de Beaumont, who had already descended
from his horse, gave the name of his lady with all ceremony, and also
tendered a card (as he had been instructed by the Marchioness), on which
her style and title were fully displayed. The royal servant bowed low,
saying that the Queen, his mistress, had expected the Marchioness
before; and seizing the rope of a great bell, which hung above the
staircase, he rang such a peal that the empty galleries of the palace
returned a kind of groaning echo to the rude clang which seemed to mock
their loneliness.

Two or three more servants appeared, in answer to the bell's noisy
summons; yet such was still the paucity of attendants, that Madame de
Beaumont, even while she descended from her carriage, and began to
ascend the "grand escalier," had need to look, from time to time, at the
splendid fresco paintings which decorated the walls, and the crowns and
fleurs-de-lis with which all the cornices were ornamented, before she
could satisfy herself that she really was in the royal chateau of St.
Germain.

Pauline's eyes, fixed on the floor, wandered little to any of the
objects round, yet, perhaps, the vast spaciousness of the palace,
contrasted with the scarcity of its inhabitants, might cast even an
additional degree of gloom over her mind, saddened, as it already was,
by the occurrences of the day. Doubtless, in the remote parts of
Languedoc, where Pauline de Beaumont had hitherto dwelt, gay visions of
a court had come floating upon imagination like the lamps which the
Hindoos commit to the waters of the Ganges, casting a wild and uncertain
light upon the distant prospect; and it is probable, that even if St.
Germain had possessed all its former splendour, Pauline would still have
been disappointed, for youthful imagination always outrivals plain
reality; and besides, there is an unpleasing feeling of solitude
communicated by the aspect of a strange place, which detracts greatly
from the first pleasure of novelty. Thus there were a thousand reasons
why Mademoiselle de Beaumont, as she followed the attendant through the
long empty galleries and vacant chambers of the palace, towards the
apartments prepared for her mother and herself, felt none of those happy
sensations which she had anticipated from her arrival at court; nor was
it till, on entering the antechamber of their suite of rooms, she beheld
the gay smiling face of her Lyonaise waiting-maid, that she felt there
was any thing akin to old recollections within those cold and pompous
walls, which seemed to look upon her as a stranger.

The soubrette had been sent forward the day before with a part of the
Marchioness de Beaumont's equipage; and now, having endured a whole
day's comparative silence with the patience and fortitude of a martyr,
she advanced to the two ladies with loquacity in her countenance, as if
resolved to make up, as speedily as possible, for the restraint under
which her tongue had laboured during her short sojourn in the palace;
but the deep gravity of Madame de Beaumont, and the melancholy air of
her daughter, checked Louise in full career; so that, having kissed her
mistress on both cheeks, she paused, while her lip, like an overfilled
reservoir whose waters are trembling on the very brink, seemed ready to
pour forth the torrent of words which she had so long suppressed.

Pauline, as she passed through the anteroom, wiped the last tears from
her eyes, and on entering the saloon, advanced towards a mirror which
hung between the windows, as if to ascertain what traces they had left
behind. The soubrette did not fail to advance, in order to adjust her
young lady's dress, and finding herself once more in the exercise of her
functions, the right of chattering seemed equally restored; for she
commenced immediately, beginning in a low and respectful voice, but
gradually increasing as the thought of her mistress was swallowed up in
the more comprehensive idea of herself.

"Oh, dear Mademoiselle," said she, "I am so glad you are come at last.
This place is so sad and so dull! Who would think it was a court? Why,
I expected to see it all filled with lords and ladies, and instead of
that, I have seen nothing but dismal-looking men, who go gliding about
in silence, seeming afraid to open their lips, as if that cruel old
Cardinal, whom they all tremble at, could hear every word they say. I
did see one fine-looking gentleman this morning, to be sure, with his
servants all in beautiful liveries of blue and gold, and horses as if
there were fire coming out of their very eyes; but he rode away to hunt,
after he had been half an hour with the Queen and Mademoiselle de
Hauteford, as they call her."

"Mademoiselle who?" exclaimed Pauline, quickly, as if startled from her
reverie by something curious in the name. "Who did you say, Louise?"

"Oh, such a pretty young lady!" replied the waiting-woman. "Mademoiselle
de Hauteford is her name. I saw her this morning as she went to the
Queen's levee. She has eyes as blue as the sky, and teeth like pearls
themselves; but withal she looks as cold and as proud as if she were
the Queen's own self."

While the soubrette spoke, Pauline raised her large dark eyes to the
tall Venetian mirror which stood before her, and which had never
reflected any thing lovelier than herself, as hastily she passed her
fair small hand across her brow, brushing back the glossy ringlets that
hung clustering over her forehead. But she was tired and pale with
fatigue and anxiety; her eyes, too, bore the traces of tears, and with a
sigh and look of dissatisfaction, she turned away from the mirror,
which, like every other invention of human vanity, often procures us
disappointment as well as gratification.

Madame de Beaumont's eyes had been fixed upon Pauline; and translating
her daughter's looks with the instinctive acuteness of a mother, she
approached with more gentleness than was her wont. "You are beautiful
enough, my Pauline," said she, pressing a kiss upon her cheek; "you are
beautiful enough. Do not fear."

"Nay, Mamma," replied Pauline, "I have nothing to fear, either from
possessing or from wanting beauty."

"Thou art a silly girl, Pauline," continued her mother, "and take these
trifles far too much to heart. Perhaps I was wrong concerning this same
picture. It was but a random guess. Besides, even were it true, where
were the mighty harm? These men are all alike, Pauline--Like
butterflies, they rest on a thousand flowers before they settle on any
one. We all fancy that our own lover is different from his fellows; but,
believe me, my child, the best happiness a woman can boast, is that of
being most carefully deceived."

"Then no such butterfly love for me, Mamma," replied Pauline, her cheek
slightly colouring as she spoke. "I would rather not know this sweet
poison--love. My heart is still free, though my fancy may have--have--"

"May have what, Pauline?" demanded her mother, with a doubtful smile.
"My dear child, thy heart, and thy fancy, I trow, have not been so
separate as thou thinkest."

"Nay, Mamma," answered Pauline, "my fancy, like an insect, may have been
caught in the web of a spider; but the enemy has not yet seized me, and
I will break through while I can."

"But, first, let us be sure that we are right," said Madame de Beaumont.
"For as every rule has its exception, there be some men, whose hearts
are even worthy the acceptance of a squeamish girl, who, knowing nothing
of the world, expects to meet with purity like her own. At all events,
love, De Blenau is the soul of honour, and will not stoop to deceit. In
justice, you must not judge without hearing him."

"But," said Pauline, not at all displeased with the refutation of her
own ideas, and even wishing, perhaps, to afford her mother occasion to
combat them anew,--"but--"

The sentence, however, was never destined to be concluded; for, as she
spoke, the door of the apartment opened, and a form glided in, the
appearance of which instantly arrested the words on Pauline's lips, and
made her draw back with an instinctive feeling of respect.

The lady who entered had passed that earlier period of existence when
beauties and graces succeed each other without pause, like the flowers
of spring, that go blooming on from the violet to the rose. She was in
the summer of life, but it was the early summer, untouched by autumn;
and her form, though it possessed no longer the airy lightness of youth,
had acquired in dignity a degree of beauty which compensated for the
softer loveliness that years had stolen away. Her brown hair fell in a
profusion of large curls round a face, which, if not strictly handsome,
was highly pleasing: and even many sorrows and reverses, by mingling an
expression of patient melancholy with the gentle majesty of her
countenance, produced a greater degree of interest than the features
could have originally excited.

Those even who sought for mere beauty of feature, would have perceived
that her eyes were quick and fine; that her skin was of the most
delicate whiteness, except where it was disfigured by the use of rouge;
and that her small mouth might have served as model to a statuary,
especially while her lips arched with a warm smile of pleasure and
affection, as advancing into the apartment, she pressed Madame de
Beaumont to her bosom, who on her part, bending low, received the
embrace of Anne of Austria with the humble deference of a respectful
subject towards the condescension of their sovereign.

"Once more restored to me, my dear Madame de Beaumont!" said the Queen.
"His Eminence of Richelieu does indeed give me back one of the best of
my friends--And this is your Pauline."--She added, turning to
Mademoiselle de Beaumont, "You were but young, my fair Demoiselle, when
last I saw you. You have grown up a lovely flower from a noble root; but
truly you will never be spoiled by splendour at our court."

As she spoke, her mind seemed naturally to return to other days, and her
eye fixed intently on the ground, as if engaged in tracing out the plan
of her past existence, running over all the lines of sorrow, danger and
disappointed hope, till the task became too bitter, and she turned to
the Marchioness with one of those long deep sighs, that almost always
follow a review of the days gone by, forming a sort of epitaph to the
dreams, the wishes, and the joys, that once were dear, and are now no
more.

"When you met me, De Beaumont," said the Queen, "with the proud Duke of
Guise on the banks of the Bidasoa--quitting the kingdom of my father,
and entering the kingdom of my husband--with an army for my escort, and
princes kneeling at my feet--little, little did ever you or I think,
that Anne of Austria, the wife of a great king, and daughter of a long
line of monarchs, would, in after years, be forced to dwell at St.
Germain, without guards, without court, without attendants, but such as
the Cardinal de Richelieu chooses to allow her.--The Cardinal de
Richelieu!" she proceeded thoughtfully; "the servant of my
husband!--but no less the master of his master, and the king of his
king."

"I can assure your Majesty," replied Madame de Beaumont, with a deep
tone of feeling which had no hypocrisy in it, for her whole heart was
bound by habit, principle, and inclination, to her royal mistress--"I
can assure your Majesty, that many a tear have I shed over the sorrows
of my Queen; and when his Eminence drove me from the court, I regretted
not the splendour of a palace, I regretted not the honour of serving my
sovereign, I regretted not the friends I left behind, or the hopes I
lost, but I regretted that I could not be the sharer of my mistress's
misfortunes.--But your Majesty has now received a blessing from Heaven,"
she continued, willing to turn the conversation from the troubled course
of memory to the more agreeable channels of hope--"a blessing which we
scarcely dreamed of, a consolation under all present sorrows, and a
bright prospect for the years to come.

"Oh, yes, my little Louis, you would say," replied the Queen, her face
lightening with all a mother's joy as she spoke of her son. "He is
indeed a cherub; and sure am I, that if God sends him years, he will
redress his mother's wrongs by proving the greatest of his race."

She spoke of the famous Louis the Fourteenth, and some might have
thought she prophesied. But it was only the fervour of a mother's hope,
an ebullition of that pure feeling, which alone, of all the affections
of the heart, the most sordid poverty cannot destroy, and the proudest
rank can hardly check.

"He is indeed a cherub," continued the Queen; "and such was your Pauline
to you, De Beaumont, when the Cardinal drove you from my side: a
consolation not only in your exile, but also in your mourning for your
noble lord. Come near, young lady; let me see if thou art like thy
father."

Pauline approached; and the Queen laying her hand gently upon her arm,
ran her eye rapidly over her face and figure, every now and then pausing
for a moment, and seeming to call memory to her aid, in the comparison
she was making between the dead and the living. But suddenly she
started back, "_Sainte Vierge!_" cried she, crossing herself, "your
dress is all dabbled with blood. What bad omen is this?"

"May it please your Majesty," said the Marchioness, half smiling at the
Queen's superstition, for her own strong mind rejected many of the
errors of the day, "that blood is only an omen of Pauline's charitable
disposition; for in the forest hard by, we came up with a wounded
cavalier, and, like a true _demoiselle errante_, Pauline rendered him
personal aid, even at the expense of her robe."

"Nay, nay, De Beaumont," said the Queen, "it matters not how it came; it
is a bad omen: some misfortune is about to happen. I remember the day
before my father died, the Conde de Saldaña came to court with a spot of
blood upon the lace of his cardinal; and on that fatal day which----"

The door of the apartment at this moment opened, and Anne of Austria,
filled with her own peculiar superstition, stopped in the midst of her
speech and turned her eye anxiously towards it, as if she expected the
coming of some ghastly apparition. The figure that entered, however,
though it possessed a dignity scarcely earthly, and a calm still
grace--an almost inanimate composure, rarely seen in beings agitated by
human passions, was, nevertheless, no form calculated to inspire alarm.

"Oh, Mademoiselle de Hauteford!" cried the Queen, her face brightening
as she spoke, "De Beaumont, you will love her, for that she is one of my
firmest friends."

At the name of De Hauteford, Pauline drew up her slight elegant figure
to its full height, with a wild start, like a deer suddenly frightened
by some distant sound, and drawing her hand across her forehead, brushed
back the two or three dark curls which had again fallen over her clear
fair brow.

"De Hauteford!" cried Anne of Austria as the young lady advanced, "what
has happened? You look pale--some evil is abroad."

"I would not have intruded on your Majesty, or on these ladies," said
Mademoiselle de Hauteford with a graceful but cold inclination of the
head towards the strangers, "had it not been that Monsieur Seguin, your
Majesty's Surgeon, requests the favour of an audience immediately. Nor
does he wish to be seen by the common attendants; in truth, he has
followed me to the antechamber, where he waits your Majesty's pleasure."

"Admit him, admit him!" cried the Queen. "What can he want at this
hour?"

The surgeon was instantly brought into the presence of the Queen by
Mademoiselle de Hauteford; but, after approaching his royal mistress
with a profound bow, he remained in silence glancing his eye towards the
strangers who stood in the apartment, in such a manner as to intimate
that his communication required to be made in private.

"Speak, speak, Seguin!" cried the Queen, translating his look and
answering it at once; "these are all friends, old and dear friends."

"If such be your Majesty's pleasure," replied the Surgeon, with that
sort of short dry voice, which generally denotes a man of few words. "I
must inform you at once, that young Count de Blenau has been this
morning attacked by robbers, while hunting in the forest, and is
severely hurt."

While Seguin communicated this intelligence, Pauline (she scarce knew
why) fixed her eye upon Mademoiselle de Hauteford, whose clear pale
cheek, ever almost of the hue of alabaster, showed that it could become
still paler. The Queen too, though the rouge she wore concealed any
change of complexion, appeared manifestly agitated. "I told you so, De
Beaumont," she exclaimed--"that blood foreboded evil: I never knew the
sign to fail. This is bad news truly, Seguin," she continued. "Poor De
Blenau! surely he will not die."

"I hope not, Madam," replied the Surgeon; "I see every chance of his
recovery."

"But speak more freely," said the Queen. "Have you learnt any thing from
him? These are all friends, I tell you."

"The Count is very weak, Madam," answered Seguin, "both from loss of
blood and a stunning blow on the head; but he desired me to tell your
Majesty, that though the wound is in his side, his heart is uninjured!"

"Oh, I understand, I understand," exclaimed the Queen. "De Blenau is one
out of a thousand; I must write him a note; follow me, Seguin. Good
night, dear Madame de Beaumont. Farewell, Pauline!--Come to my levee
to-morrow, and we will talk over old stories and new hopes.--But have a
care, Pauline--No more blood upon your robe. It is a bad sign in the
house of Austria."

The moment the Queen was gone, Pauline pleaded fatigue, and retired to
her chamber, followed by her maid Louise, who, be it remarked, had
remained in the room during the Royal visit.

"This is a strange place, this St. Germain," said the waiting-woman, as
she undressed her mistress.

"It is indeed!" replied Pauline. "I wish I had never seen it. But of
one thing let me warn you, Louise, before it is too late. Never repeat
any thing you may see or hear, while you are at the court; for if you
do, your life may answer for it."

"My life! Mademoiselle Pauline," exclaimed the soubrette, as if she
doubted her ears.

"Yes indeed, your life!" replied the young lady: "So beware."

"Then I wish I had never seen the place either," rejoined the maid; "for
what is the use of seeing and hearing things, if one may not talk about
them?--and who can be always watching one's tongue?"



CHAPTER V.

     A Chapter of mighty import, which may be read or not, as the Reader
     thinks fit, the Book being quite as well without it.


With the happy irregularity of all true stories, we must return, for a
moment, to a very insignificant person,--the Woodman of Mantes. Indeed,
I have to beg my reader's pardon for saying so much about any one under
the rank of a Chevalier at least; but all through this most untractable
of all histories, I have been pestered with a set of shabby fellows in
very indifferent circumstances. Woodcutters, robbers, gentlemen's
servants, and the like, who make themselves so abominably useful, that
though we wish them at the Devil all the time, we can no way do without
them. Let the sin not be attributed to me; for I declare, upon my
conscience, that when first I undertook to record this tale, I attempted
a thorough reform; I superseded a great number of subordinate
characters, put others upon the retired list, and dismissed a great many
as useless sinecurists; but when I had done, all was in confusion; and
then, after considering matters for half an hour, and turning over a
page or two in the book of Nature, I found, that the most brilliant
actions and the greatest events were generally brought about from the
meanest motives and most petty causes: I perceived, that women and
valets de-chambre govern the world: I found that saur-kraut had
disagreed with Sarah Duchess of Marlborough, made her insolent to Queen
Anne, made Queen Anne threaten to box her ears, made England resign her
advantages over France--placed the Bourbon dynasty on the throne of
Spain, and changed the face of Europe even to the present day. So, if
saur-kraut did all this, surely I may return to Philip, the woodman of
Mantes.

Chavigni, as we have seen, cast his purse upon the ground, and rode
away from the cottage of the Woodman, little heeding what so
insignificant an agent might do or say. Yet Philip's first thought was
one which would have procured him speedy admission to the Bastille, had
Chavigni been able to divine its nature. "The young Count shall know all
about it," said Philip to himself. "That's a great rogue in Isabel and
silver, for all his fine clothes, or I'm much mistaken."

His next object of attention was the purse; and after various _pros_ and
_cons_, Inclination, the best logician in the world, reasoned him into
taking it. "For," said Philip, "dirty fingers soil no gold;" and having
carefully put it into his pouch, the Woodman laid his finger upon the
side of his nose, and plunged headlong into a deep meditation concerning
the best and least suspicious method of informing the young Count de
Blenau of all he had seen, heard, or suspected. We will not follow the
course of this cogitation, which, as it doubtless took place in the
French tongue, must necessarily suffer by translation, but taking a
short cut straight through all the zig-zags of Philip's mind, arrive
directly at the conclusion, or rather at the consequences, which were
these. In the first place, he commanded his son Charles to load the mule
with wood, notwithstanding the boy's observation, that no one would buy
wood at that time of the morning, or rather the night; for, to make use
of Shakspeare's language, the Morn, far from being yet clad in any
russet mantle, was snugly wrapped up in the blanket of the dark, and
snoring away, fast asleep, like her betters.

Precisely in the same situation as Aurora, that is to say, soundly
sleeping, till her ordinary hour of rising, was Joan, the Woodman's
wife. Philip, however, by sundry efforts, contrived to awaken her to a
sense of external things; and perceiving that, after various yawns and
stretches, her mind had arrived at the point of comprehending a simple
proposition, "Get up, Joan, get up!" cried he. "I want you to write a
letter for me; writing being a gift that, by the blessing of God, I do
not possess."

The wife readily obeyed; for Philip, though as kind as the air of
spring, had a high notion of marital privileges, and did not often
suffer his commands to be disputed within his little sphere of dominion.
However, it seemed a sort of tenure by which his sway was held, that
Joan, his wife, should share in all his secrets; and accordingly, in the
present instance, the good Woodman related in somewhat prolix style, not
only all that had passed between Chavigni and Lafemas in the house, but
much of what they had said before they even knocked at his door.

"For you must know, Joan," said he, "that I could not sleep for thinking
of all this day's bad work; and, as I lay awake, I heard horses stop at
the water, and people speaking, and very soon what they said made me
wish to hear more, which I did, as I have told you. And now, Joan, I
think it right, as a Christian and a man, to let this young cavalier
know what they are plotting against him. So sit thee down; here is a pen
and ink, and a plain sheet out of the boy's holy catechism,--God
forgive me! But it could not go to a better use."

It matters not much to tell all the various considerations which were
weighed and discussed by Philip and his wife in the construction of this
epistle. Suffice it to say, that like two unskilful players at
battledoor and shuttlecock, they bandied backwards and forwards the same
objections a thousand times between them, for ever letting them drop,
and taking them up again anew, till such time as day was well risen
before they finished. Neither would it much edify the world, in all
probability, to know the exact style and tenor of the composition when
it was complete, although Philip heard his wife read it over with no
small satisfaction, and doubtless thought it as pretty a piece of
oratory as ever was penned.

It is now unfortunately lost to the public, and all that can be
satisfactorily vouched upon the subject is, that it was calculated to
convey to the Count de Blenau all the information which the Woodcutter
possessed, although that information might be clothed in homely
language, without much perfection, either in writing or orthography.

When it had been read, and re-read, and twisted up according to the best
conceit of the good couple, it was intrusted to Charles, the Woodman's
boy, with many a charge and direction concerning its delivery, For his
part, glad of a day's sport, he readily undertook the task, and driving
the laden mule before him, set out, whistling on his way to St.
Germain's. He had not, however, proceeded far, when he was overtaken by
Philip with new directions; the principal one being to say, if any one
should actually see him deliver the note, and make inquiries, that it
came from a lady. "For," said Philip,--and he thought the observation
was a shrewd one,--"so handsome a youth as the young Count must have
many ladies who write to him."

Charles did not very well comprehend what it was all about, but he was
well enough contented to serve the young Count, who had given him many
a kind word and a piece of silver, when the hunting-parties of the court
had stopped to water their horses at the _abreuvoir_. The boy was
diligent and active, and soon reached St. Germain. His next task was to
find out the lodging of the Count de Blenau: and, after looking about
for some time, he addressed himself, for information, to a stout,
jovial-looking servant, who was sauntering down the street, gazing about
at the various hotels, with a look of easy _nonchalance_, as if idleness
was his employment.

"Why do you ask, my boy?" demanded the man, without answering his
question.

"I want to sell my wood," replied the Woodman's son, remembering that
his errand was to be private. "Where does he lodge, good Sir?"

"Why, the Count does not buy wood in this hot weather," rejoined the
other.

"I should suppose the Count does not buy wood, himself, at all," replied
the boy, putting the question aside with all the shrewdness of a French
peasant; "but, perhaps, his cook will."

"Suppose I buy your wood, my man," said the servant.

"Why, you are very welcome, Sir," answered Charles; "but if you do not
want it, I pray you, in honesty, show me which is the Count de Blenau's
hotel."

"Well, I will show thee," said the servant; "I am e'en going thither
myself, on the part of the Marquise de Beaumont, to ask after the young
Count's health."

"Oh, then, you are one of those who were with the carriage yesterday,
when he was wounded in the wood," exclaimed the boy. "Now I remember
your colours. Were you not one of those on horseback?"

"Even so," answered the man; "and if I forget not, thou art the
Woodman's boy. But come, prithee, tell us what is thy real errand with
the Count. We are all his friends, you know; and selling him the wood is
all a tale."

Charles thought for a moment, to determine whether he should tell the
man all he knew or not; but remembering the answer his father had
furnished him with, he replied, "The truth then is, I carry him a note
from a lady."

"Oh, ho! my little Mercury!" cried the servant; "so you are as close
with your secrets as if you were an older politician. This is the way
you sell wood, is it?"

"I do not know what you mean by Mercury," rejoined the boy.

"Why he was a great man in his day," replied the servant, "and, as I
take it, used to come and go between the gods and goddesses;
notwithstanding which, Monsieur Rubens, who is the greatest painter that
ever lived, has painted this same Mercury as one of the late Queen's[A]
council, but nevertheless he was a carrier of messages, and so forth."

[A] Alluding, no doubt, to the picture of the reconciliation of Mary de
Medicis and her son Louis XIII. in which Mercury seems hand in glove
with the cardinals and statesmen of the day.

"Why, then, thou art more Mercury than I, for thou carriest a message,
and I a letter," answered Charles, as they approached the hotel of the
Count, towards which they had been bending their steps during this
conversation. Their proximity to his dwelling, in all probability, saved
Charles from an angry answer; for his companion did not seem at all
pleased with having the name of Mercury retorted upon himself; and
intending strongly to impress upon the Woodman's boy that he was a
person of far too great consequence to be jested with, he assumed a tone
of double pomposity towards the servant who appeared on the steps of the
hotel. "Tell Henry de La Mothe, the Count's page," said the servant,
"that the Marquise de Beaumont has sent to inquire after his master's
health."

The servant retired with the message, and in a moment after Henry de La
Mothe himself appeared, and informed the messenger that his master was
greatly better. He had slept well, he said, during the night; and his
surgeons assured him that the wounds which he had received were likely
to produce no farther harm than the weakness naturally consequent upon
so great a loss of blood as that which he had sustained. Having given
this message on his master's account, Henry, on his own, began to
question the servant concerning many little particulars of his own
family; his father being, as already said, _Fermier_ to Madame de
Beaumont.

Charles, the Woodman's son, perceiving that the conversation had turned
to a subject too interesting soon to be discussed, glided past the
Marchioness's servant, placed the note he carried in the hand of the
Count's Page, pressed his finger on his lip, in sign that it was to be
given privately, and detaching himself from them, without waiting to be
questioned, drove back his mule through the least known parts of the
forest, and rendered an account to his father of the success of his
expedition.

"Who can that note be from?" said the Marchioness de Beaumont's servant
to Henry de La Mothe. "The boy told me, it came from a lady."

"From Mademoiselle de Hauteford, probably," replied the Page,
thoughtfully. "I must give it to my master without delay, if he be
strong enough to read it. We will talk more another day, good
friend;"--and he left him.

"From Mademoiselle de Hauteford!" said the man. "Oh, ho!"--and he went
home to tell all he knew to Louise, the soubrette.



CHAPTER VI.

     The Marquis de Cinq Mars, the Count de Fontrailles, and King Louis
     the Thirteenth, all making fools of themselves in their own way.


There are some spots on the earth which seem marked out as the scene of
extraordinary events, and which, without any peculiar beauty, or other
intrinsic quality to recommend them, acquire a transcendent interest, as
the theatre of great actions. Such is Chantilly, the history of whose
walls might furnish many a lay to the poet, and many a moral to the
sage; and even now, by its magnificence and its decay, it offers a new
comment on the vanity of splendour, and proves, by the forgotten
greatness of its lords, how the waves of time are the true waters of
oblivion.

Be that as it may, Montmorency, Conde, are names so woven in the web of
history, that nothing can tear them out, and these were the lords of
Chantilly. But amongst all that its roof has sheltered, no one, perhaps,
is more worthy of notice than Louis the Thirteenth: the son of Henry the
Fourth and Mary de Medicis, born to an inheritance of high talents and
high fortune, with the inspiring incitement of a father's glory, and the
powerful support of a people's love.

It is sad that circumstance--that stumbling block of great minds--that
confounder of deep-laid schemes--that little, mighty, unseen controller
of all man's actions, should find pleasure in bending to its will, that
which Nature originally seemed to place above its sway. Endued with all
the qualities a throne requires, brave, wise, clear-sighted, and
generous; with his mother's talents and his father's courage, the events
of his early life quelled every effort of Louis's mind, and left him but
the slave of an ambitious minister! a monarch but in name! the shadow
of a King! How it was so, matters not to this history--it is recorded on
a more eloquent page. But at the time of my tale, the brighter part of
life had passed away from King Louis; and now that it had fallen into
the sear, he seemed to have given it up as unworthy a farther effort. He
struggled not even for that appearance of Royal state which his proud
Minister was unwilling to allow him; and, retired at Chantilly, passed
his time in a thousand weak amusements, which but served to hurry by the
moments of a void and weary existence.

It was at this time, that the first news of the Cardinal de Richelieu's
illness began to be noised abroad. His health had long been declining;
but so feared was that redoubtable Minister, that though many remarked
the increased hollowness of his dark eye, and the deepening lines upon
his pale cheek, no one dared to whisper what many hoped--that the tyrant
of both King and people was falling under the sway of a still stronger
hand.

The morning was yet in its prime. The grey mist had hardly rolled away
from the old towers and battlements of the Chateau of Chantilly, which,
unlike the elegant building afterwards erected on the same spot, offered
then little but strong fortified walls and turrets.--The heavy night-dew
lay still sparkling upon the long grass in the avenues of the Park, when
two gentlemen were observed walking near the Palace, turning up and down
the alley, then called the Avenue de Luzarches, with that kind of
sauntering pace which indicated their conversation to be of no very
interesting description.

Perhaps, in all that vast variety of shapes which Nature has bestowed
upon mankind, and in all those innate differences by which she has
distinguished man's soul, no two figures or two minds could have been
found more opposite than those of the two men thus keeping a willing
companionship--the Count de Fontrailles, and the Marquis de Cinq Mars,
Grand Ecuyer, or, as it may be best translated, Master of the Horse.

Cinq Mars, though considerably above the common height of men, was
formed in the most finished and elegant proportion, and possessed a
native dignity of demeanour, which characterized even those wild
gesticulations in which the excess of a bright and enthusiastic mind
often led him to indulge.

On the other hand, Fontrailles, short in stature, and mean in
appearance, was in countenance equally unprepossessing. He had but one
redeeming feature, in the quick grey eye, that, with the clear keenness
of its light, seemed to penetrate the deepest thoughts of those upon
whom it was turned.

Such is the description that history yields of these two celebrated men;
and I will own that my hankering after physiognomy has induced me to
transcribe it here, inasmuch as the mind of each was like his person.

In the heart of Cinq Mars dwelt a proud nobility of spirit, which,
however he might be carried away by the fiery passions of his nature,
ever dignified his actions with something of great and generous. But the
soul of Fontrailles, ambitious, yet mean, wanted all the wild ardour of
his companion, but wanted also all his better qualities; possessing
alone that clear, piercing discernment, which, more like instinct than
judgment, showed him always the exact moment of danger, and pointed out
the means of safety.

And yet, though not friends, they were often (as I have said)
companions; for Cinq Mars was too noble to suspect, and Fontrailles too
wary to be known--besides, in the present instance, he had a point to
carry, and therefore was doubly disguised.

"You have heard the news, doubtless, Cinq Mars," said Fontrailles,
leading the way from the great Avenue de Luzarches into one of the
smaller alleys, where they were less liable to be watched; for he well
knew that the conversation he thus broached would lead to those wild
starts and gestures in his companion, which might call upon them some
suspicion, if observed. Cinq Mars made no reply, and he proceeded. "The
Cardinal is ill!" and he fixed his eye upon the Master of the Horse, as
if he would search his soul. But Cinq Mars still was silent, and,
apparently deeply busied with other thoughts, continued beating the
shrubs on each side of the path with his sheathed sword, without even a
glance towards his companion. After a moment or two, however, he raised
his head with an air of careless abstraction: "What a desert this place
has become!" said he; "look how all these have grown up, between the
trees. One might really be as well in a forest as a royal park
now-a-days."

"But you have made me no answer," rejoined Fontrailles, returning
perseveringly to the point on which his companion seemed unwilling to
touch: "I said, the Cardinal is ill."

"Well, well! I hear," answered Cinq Mars, with a peevish start, like a
restive horse forced forward on a road he is unwilling to take. "What is
it you would have me say?--That I am sorry for it? Well, be it so--I am
sorry for it--sorry that a trifling sickness, which will pass away in a
moon, should give France hopes of that liberation, which is yet far
off."

"But, nevertheless, you would be sorry were this great man to die," said
Fontrailles, putting it half as a question, half as an undoubted
proposition, and looking in the face of the Marquis, with an appearance
of hesitating uncertainty.

Cinq Mars could contain himself no more. "What!" cried he vehemently,
"sorry for the peace of the world!--sorry for the weal of my
country!--sorry for the liberty of my King! Why, I tell thee,
Fontrailles, should the Cardinal de Richelieu die, the people of France
would join in pulling down the scaffolds and the gibbets, to make
bonfires of them!"

"Who ever dreamed of hearing _you_ say so?" said his companion. "All
France agrees with you, no doubt; but we all thought that the Marquis de
Cinq Mars either loved the Cardinal, or feared him, too much to see his
crimes."

"Fear him!" exclaimed Cinq Mars, the blood mounting to his cheek, as if
the very name of fear wounded his sense of honour. He then paused,
looked into his real feelings, shook his head mournfully, and after a
moment's interval of bitter silence added, "True! true! Who is there
that does not fear him? Nevertheless, it is impossible to see one's
country bleeding for the merciless cruelty of one man, the prisons
filled with the best and bravest of the land to quiet his suspicions,
and the King held in worse bondage than a slave to gratify the daring
ambition of this insatiate churchman, and not to wish that Heaven had
sent it otherwise."

"It is not Heaven's fault, Sir," replied Fontrailles; "it is our own,
that we do suffer it. Had we one man in France who, with sufficient
courage, talent, and influence, had the true spirit of a patriot, our
unhappy country might soon be freed from the bondage under which she
groans."

"But where shall we find such a man?" asked the Master of the Horse,
either really not understanding the aim of Fontrailles, or wishing to
force him to a clearer explanation of his purpose. "Such an undertaking
as you hint at," he continued, "must be well considered, and well
supported, to have any effect. It must be strengthened by wit--by
courage--and by illustrious names.--It must have the power of wealth,
and the power of reputation.--It must be the rousing of the lion with
all his force, to shake off the toils by which he is encompassed."

"But still there must be some one to rouse him," said Fontrailles,
fixing his eyes on Cinq Mars with a peculiar expression, as if to denote
that he was the man alluded to. "Suppose this were France," he
proceeded, unbuckling his sword from the belt, and drawing a few lines
on the ground with the point of the sheath: "show me a province or a
circle that will not rise at an hour's notice to cast off the yoke of
this hated Cardinal. Here is Normandy, almost in a state of
revolt;--here is Guienne, little better;--here is Sedan, our own;--here
are the Mountains of Auvergne, filled with those whom his tyranny has
driven into their solitude for protection; and here is Paris and its
insulted Parliament, waiting but for opportunity."

"And here," said Cinq Mars, with a melancholy smile, following the
example of his companion, and pointing out with his sword, as if on a
map, the supposed situations of the various places to which he
referred--"And here is Peronne, and Rouen, and Havre, and Lyons, and
Tours, and Brest, and Bordeaux, and every town or fortress in France,
filled with his troops and governed by his creatures; and here is
Flanders, with Chaunes and Mielleray, and fifteen thousand men, at his
disposal; and here is Italy, with Bouillon, and as many more, ready to
march at his command!"

"But suppose I could show," said Fontrailles, laying his hand on his
companion's arm, and detaining him as he was about to walk on--"but
suppose I could show, that Mielleray would not march,--that Bouillon
would declare for us,--that England would aid us with money, and Spain
would put five thousand men at our command,--that the King's own
brother--"

Cinq Mars waved his hand: "No! no! no!" said he, in a firm, bitter tone:
"Gaston of Orleans has led too many to the scaffold already. The weak,
wavering Duke is ever the executioner of his friends. Remember poor
Montmorency!"

"Let me proceed," said Fontrailles; "hear me to an end, and then judge.
I say, suppose that the King's own brother should give us his name and
influence, and the King himself should yield us his consent."

"Ha!" exclaimed Cinq Mars, pausing abruptly.--The idea of gaining the
King had never occurred to him; and now it came like a ray of sunshine
through a cloud, brightening the prospect which had been before in
shadow. "Think you the King would consent?"

"Assuredly!" replied his companion. "Does he not hate the Cardinal as
much as any one? Does not his blood boil under the bonds he cannot
break? And would he not bless the man who gave him freedom? Think, Cinq
Mars!" he continued, endeavouring to throw much energy into his manner,
for he knew that the ardent mind of his companion wanted but the spark
of enthusiasm to inflame--"think, what a glorious object! to free alike
the people and their sovereign, and to rescue the many victims even now
destined to prove the tyrant's cruelty!--Think, think of the glorious
reward, the thanks of a King, the gratitude of a nation, and the
blessings of thousands saved from dungeons and from death!"

It worked as he could have wished. The enthusiasm of his words had their
full effect on the mind of his companion. As the other went on, the eye
of Cinq Mars lightened with all the wild ardour of his nature; and
striking his hand upon the hilt of his sword, as if longing to draw it
in the inspiring cause of his Country's liberty, "Glorious indeed!" he
exclaimed,--"glorious indeed!"

But immediately after, fixing his glance upon the ground, he fell into
meditation of the many circumstances of the times; and as his mind's
eye ran over the difficulties and dangers which surrounded the
enterprise, the enthusiasm which had beamed in his eye, like the last
flash of an expiring fire, died away, and he replied with a sigh, "What
you have described, Sir, is indeed a glorious form--But it is dead--it
wants a soul. The King, though every thing great and noble, has been too
long governed now to act for himself. The Duke of Orleans is weak and
undecided as a child. Bouillon is far away--"

"And where is Cinq Mars?" demanded Fontrailles,--"where is the man whom
the King really loves? If Cinq Mars has forgot his own powers, so has
not France; and she now tells him--though by so weak a voice as
mine--that he is destined to be the soul of this great body to animate
this goodly frame, to lead this conspiracy, if that can be so called
which has a King at its head, and Princes for its support."

In these peaceable days, when we are taught to pray against privy
conspiracy, both as a crime and misfortune, the very name is startling
to all orthodox ears; but at the time I speak of, it had no such effect.
Indeed, from the commencement of the wars between Henri Quatre and the
League, little else had existed but a succession of conspiracies, which
one after another had involved every distinguished person in the
country, and brought more than one noble head to the block. Men's minds
had become so accustomed to the sound, that the explosion of a new plot
scarcely furnished matter for a day's wonder, as the burghers of a
besieged city at length hardly hear the roaring of the cannon against
their walls; and so common had become the name of conspirator, that
there were very few men in the realm who had not acquired a just title
to such an appellation.

The word "conspiracy," therefore, carried nothing harsh or disagreeable
to the mind of Cinq Mars. What Fontrailles proposed to him, bore a
plausible aspect. It appeared likely to succeed; and, if it did so,
offered him that reward for which, of all others, his heart
beat--Glory! But there was one point on which he paused: "You forget,"
said he,--"you forget that I owe all to Richelieu,--you forget that,
however he may have wronged this country, he has not wronged me; and
though I may wish that such a being did not exist, it is not for me to
injure him."

"True, most true!" replied his wily companion, who knew that the
appearance of frank sincerity would win more from Cinq Mars than aught
else: "if he has done as you say, be still his friend. Forget your
country in your gratitude--though in the days of ancient virtue
patriotism was held paramount. We must not hope for such things now--so
no more of that. But if I can show that this proud Minister has never
served you; if I can prove that every honour which of late has fallen
upon you, far from being a bounty of the Cardinal, has proceeded solely
from the favour of the King, and has been wrung from the hard Churchman
as a mere concession to the Monarch's whim; if it can be made clear that
the Marquis Cinq Mars would now have been a Duke and Constable of
France, had not his kind friend the Cardinal whispered he was unfit for
such an office:--then will you have no longer the excuse of friendship,
and your Country's call must and shall be heard."

"I can scarce credit your words, Fontrailles," replied Cinq Mars. "You
speak boldly,--but do you speak truly?"

"Most truly, on my life!" replied Fontrailles. "Think you, Cinq Mars, if
I did not well know that I could prove each word I have said, that thus
I would have placed my most hidden thoughts in the power of a man who
avows himself the friend of Richelieu?"

"Prove to me,--but prove to me, that I am not bound to him in
gratitude," cried Cinq Mars vehemently,--"take from me the bonds by
which he has chained my honour, and I will hurl him from his height of
power, or die in the attempt."

"Hush!" exclaimed Fontrailles, laying his finger on his lip as they
turned into another alley, "we are no longer alone. Govern yourself,
Cinq Mars, and I will prove every tittle of what I have advanced ere we
be two hours older."

This was uttered in a low tone of voice; for there was indeed another
group in the same avenue with themselves. The party, which was rapidly
approaching, consisted of three persons, of whom one was a step in
advance, and, though in no degree superior to the others in point of
dress, was distinguished from them by that indescribable something which
constitutes the idea of dignity. He was habited in a plain suit of black
silk with buttons of jet, and every part of his dress, even to the
sheath and hilt of his _couteau de chasse_, corresponding. On his right
hand he wore a thick glove, of the particular kind generally used by the
sportsmen of the period, but more particularly by those who employed
themselves in the then fashionable sport of bird-catching; and the nets
and snares of various kinds carried by the other two, seemed to evince
that such had been the morning's amusement of the whole party.

The King, for such was the person who approached, was rather above the
middle height, and of a spare habit. His complexion was very pale; and
his hair, which had one time been of the richest brown, was now mingled
throughout with grey. But still there was much to interest, both in his
figure and countenance. There was a certain air of easy self-possession
in all his movements; and even when occupied with the most trivial
employment, which was often the case, there was still a degree of
dignity in his manner, that seemed to show his innate feeling of their
emptiness, and his own consciousness of how inferior they were, both to
his situation and his talents. His features at all times appeared
handsome, but more especially when any sudden excitement called up the
latent animation of his dark-brown eye, recalling to the minds of those
who remembered the days gone before, that young and fiery Prince who
could not brook the usurped sway even of his own highly talented mother,
but who had now become the slave of her slave. The consciousness of his
fallen situation, and of his inability to call up sufficient energy of
mind to disengage himself, generally cast upon him an appearance of
profound sadness: occasionally, however, flashes of angry irritability
would break across the cloud of melancholy which hung over him, and show
the full expression of his countenance, which at other times displayed
nothing but the traces of deep and bitter thought, or a momentary
sparkle of weak, unthinking merriment. So frequent, however, were the
changes to be observed in the depressed Monarch, that some persons even
doubted whether they were not assumed to cover deeper intentions. It
might be so, or it might not; but at all events, between the intervals
of these natural or acquired appearances, would often shine out strong
gleams of his mother's unyielding spirit, or his father's generous
heart.

The rapid pace with which he always proceeded, soon brought the King
close to Cinq Mars and Fontrailles. "Good-morrow, Monsieur de
Fontrailles," said he, as the Count bowed low at his approach. "Do not
remain uncovered. 'Tis a fine day for forest sports, but not for bare
heads; though I have heard say, that if you were in the thickest mist of
all Holland, you would see your way through it.--What! _mon Grand
Ecuyer_," he continued, turning to Cinq Mars; "as sad as if thou hadst
been plotting, and wert dreaming even now of the block and axe?" And
with a kind and familiar air, he laid his hand upon his favourite's arm:
who on his part started, as if the Monarch had read his thoughts and
foretold his doom.

A single word has sometimes lost or won an empire. Even less than a
single word, if we may believe the history of Darius's horse, who, being
a less loquacious animal than Balaam's ass, served his master without
speaking. However, Fontrailles fixed his eye on Cinq Mars, and seeing
plainly the effect of Louis's speech, he hastened to wipe it away. "To
calculate petty dangers in a great undertaking," said he, "were as weak
as to think over all the falls one may meet with in the chase, before
we get on horseback."

Both Cinq Mars and the King were passionately fond of the noble forest
sport, so that the simile of Fontrailles went directly home, more
especially to the King, who, following the idea thus called up, made a
personal application of it to him who introduced it. "Jesu, that were
folly indeed!" he exclaimed, in answer to the Count's observation. "But
you are not fond of the chase either, Monsieur de Fontrailles, if I
think right; I never saw you follow boar or stag, that I can call to
mind."

"More my misfortune than my fault, Sire," replied Fontrailles. "Had I
ever been favoured with an invitation to follow the royal hounds, your
Majesty would have found me as keen of the sport as even St. Hubert is
said to have been of yore."

"Blessed be his memory!" cried the King. "But we will hunt to-day; we
will see you ride, Monsieur de Fontrailles. What say you, Cinq Mars?
The parties who went out to turn a stag last night (I remember now)
presented this morning, that in the _bosquet_ at the end of the forest,
near Argenin, is quartered a fat stag of ten, and another by Boisjardin;
but that by Argenin will be the best, for he has but one _refuite_ by
the long alley.--Come, gentlemen, seek your boots,--seek your boots; and
as our _Grand Veneur_ is not at Chantilly, you, Cinq Mars, shall
superintend the chase. Order the _Maitre valet de chiens_ to assemble
the old pack and the _relais_ at the _Carrefour d'Argenin_, and then we
will quickly to horse." So saying, he turned away to prepare for his
favourite sport; but scarcely had gone many paces ere he slackened his
pace, and allowed the two gentlemen to rejoin him. "What think you,
friend?" said he, addressing Cinq Mars; "they tell me, the Cardinal is
sick. Have you heard of it?"

"I have heard a vague report of the kind," replied Cinq Mars, watching
his master's countenance, "but as yet nothing certain. May I crave what
information your Majesty possesses?"

"Why, he is sick, very sick," replied Louis, "and perchance may die. May
his soul find mercy! Perchance he may die, and then--" And the King fell
into deep thought.

It is possible that at that moment his mind was engaged in calculating
all that such an event as the death of Richelieu would produce; for,
gradually, as if he dreamed of ruling for himself, and as hope spread
out before him many a future year of power and greatness, his air became
more dignified, his eye flashed with its long repressed fire, and his
step acquired a new degree of firmness and majesty.

Fontrailles watched the alteration of the King's countenance, and,
skilful at reading the mind's workings by the face, he added, as if
finishing the sentence which Louis had left unconcluded,--but taking
care to blend what he said with an air of raillery towards the Master of
the Horse, lest he should offend the irritable Monarch--"And then," said
he, "Cinq Mars shall be a Duke. Is it not so, Sire?"

Louis started. His thoughts had been engaged in far greater schemes;
and yet rewarding his friends and favourites, always formed a great part
of the pleasure he anticipated in power, and he replied, without anger,
"Most likely it will be so--Indeed," he added, "had my wishes, as a man,
been followed,"--and he turned kindly towards the Master of the
Horse,--"it should have been so long ago, Cinq Mars. But Kings, you
know, are obliged to yield their private inclinations to what the State
requires."

Fontrailles glanced his eye towards the Grand Ecuyer, as if desiring him
to remark the King's words. Cinq Mars bent his head, in token that he
comprehended, and replied to the King: "I understand your Majesty; but,
believe me, Sire, no honour or distinction could more bind Cinq Mars to
his King, than duty, gratitude, and affection do at this moment."

"I believe thee, friend,--I believe thee, from my soul," said Louis.
"God forgive us that we should desire the death of any man! and surely
do not I that of the Cardinal, for he is a good Minister, and a man of
powerful mind. But, withal, we may wish that he was more gentle and
forgiving. Nevertheless, he is a great man. See how he thwarts and rules
half the Kings in Europe--See how he presses the Emperor, and our good
brother-in-law, Philip of Spain; while the great Gustavus, this northern
hero, is little better than his general."

"He is assuredly a great man, Sire," replied Cinq Mars. "But permit me
to remark, that a great bad man is worse than one of less talents, for
he has the extended capability of doing harm; and perhaps, Sire, if this
Minister contented himself with thwarting Kings abroad, he would do
better than by opposing the will of his own Sovereign at home."

The time, however, was not yet come for Louis to make even an attempt
toward liberating himself from the trammels to which he had been so long
accustomed. Habit in this had far more power over his mind than even the
vast and aspiring talents of Richelieu. No man in France, perhaps, more
contemned or hated the Cardinal than the royal slave whom he had so
long subjugated to his burdensome sway. Yet Louis, amidst all his dreams
for the future, looked with dread upon losing the support of a man whom
he detested, but upon whose counsels and abilities he had been
accustomed to rely with confidence and security.

Cinq Mars saw plainly the state of his master's mind; and as he entered
the Palace, he again began to doubt whether he should at all lend
himself to the bold and dangerous measures which Fontrailles had
suggested.



CHAPTER VII.

     In which is shown how a great King hunted a great beast, and what
     came of the hunting.


While the King's mind, as he returned to the Chateau de Chantilly, was
agitated by vague hopes and fears, which, like the forms that we trace
in the clouds, rolled into a thousand strange and almost palpable shapes
before his mind's eye, and yet were but a vapour after all; and while
the thoughts of Cinq Mars ran over all the difficulties and dangers of
the future prospect, reverted to the obligations Richelieu had once
conferred upon him, or scanned the faults and crimes of the Minister,
till the struggle of patriotism and gratitude left nothing but doubt
behind: the imagination of Fontrailles was very differently occupied.
It was not that he pondered the means of engaging more firmly the
wavering mind of Cinq Mars. No, for he had marked him for his own; and,
from that morning's conversation, felt as sure of his companion as the
ant-lion does of the insect he sees tremble on the edge of his pit.
Neither did he revolve the probable issue of the dangerous schemes in
which he was engaging both himself and others; for he was confident in
his powers of disentangling himself, when it should become necessary to
his own safety so to do, and he was not a man to distress himself for
the danger of his friends. The occupation of his mind as they approached
the Castle, was of a more personal nature. The truth is, that so far
from discomposing himself upon the score of distant evils, the sole
trouble of his thoughts was the hunting-party into which he had
entrapped himself. Being by no means a good horseman, and caring not one
_sous_ for a pastime which involved far too much trouble and risk to
accord in any degree with his idea of pleasure, Fontrailles had
professed himself fond of hunting, merely to please the King, without
ever dreaming that he should be called upon to give farther proof of his
veneration for the Royal sport.

He saw plainly, however, that his case admitted of no remedy. Go he
must; and, having enough philosophy in his nature to meet inevitable
evils with an unshrinking mind, he prepared to encounter all the horrors
of the chase, as if they were his principal delight.

He accordingly got into his boots with as much alacrity as their nature
permitted, for, each weighing fully eight pounds, they were somewhat
ponderous and unmanageable. He then hastily loaded his pistols, stuck
his _couteau de chasse_ in his belt, and throwing the feather from his
hat, was the first ready to mount in the court-yard.

"Why, how is this, Monsieur de Fontrailles?" said the King, who in a few
minutes joined him in the area where the horses were assembled. "The
first at your post! You are, indeed, keen for the sport. Some one, see
for Cinq Mars.--Oh! here he comes: Mount, gentlemen, mount! Our
Ordinaries of the chase, and Lieutenants, await us at the _Carrefour
d'Argenin_,--Mount, gentlemen, mount! Ha! have you calculated your falls
for to-day, Monsieur de Fontrailles, as you spoke of this morning?" And
the King's eyes glistened with almost childish eagerness for his
favourite pastime.

In the mean while, Cinq Mars had approached with a slow step and a
gloomy countenance, showing none of the alacrity of Fontrailles, or the
enthusiastic ardour of the King. "There are other dangers than falls to
be met with in chase, my liege," said the Master of the Horse, with a
bitter expression of displeasure in his manner; "and that Claude de
Blenau could inform your Majesty."

"I know not what you mean, Cinq Mars," answered the King. "De Blenau is
a gallant cavalier; as staunch to his game as a beagle of the best; and
though he shows more service to our Queen than to ourself, he is no
less valued for that."

"He is one cavalier out of ten thousand--" replied Cinq Mars, warmly:
"my dearest companion and friend; and whilst Cinq Mars has a sword to
wield, De Blenau shall never want one to second his quarrel."

"Why, what ails thee, Cinq Mars?" demanded the King with some surprise.
"Thou art angry,--what is it now?"

"It is, Sire," replied the Master of the Horse, "that I have just had a
courier from St. Germain, who bears me word, that, three days since
past, the Count, as your Majesty and I have often done, was hunting in
the neighbourhood of Mantes, and was there most treacherously attacked
by an armed band, in which adventure he suffered two wounds that nearly
drained his good heart of blood. Shall this be tolerated, Sire?"

"No, indeed! no, indeed!" replied the King with much warmth. "This shall
be looked to. Our kingdom must not be overrun with robbers and
brigands."

"Robbers!" exclaimed Cinq Mars, indignantly. "I know not--they may have
been robbers; but my letters say, that one of them wore colours of
Isabel and silver."

"Those are the colours of Chavigni's livery," replied the King, who knew
the most minute difference in the bearing of every family in the
kingdom, with wonderful precision. "This must be looked to, and it
_shall_, or I am not deserving of my name. But now mount, gentlemen,
mount! we are waited for at the rendezvous."

The _Carrefour d'Argenin_, at which the King and his attendants soon
arrived, was a large open space in the forest, where four roads crossed.
Each of these, but one, cut into a long straight avenue through the
wood, opened a view of the country beyond, forming a separate landscape,
as it were, framed, or to use the French term, _encadré_, by the
surrounding trees. The sun had not yet risen sufficiently to shine upon
any of these forest roads; but the sweeping hills and dales beyond, were
to be seen through the apertures, richly lighted up by the clear beams
of the morning; though occasionally a soft wreath of mist, lingering in
the bosom of some of the hollows, would roll a transient shadow over the
prospect. Louis had chosen this spot for the rendezvous, perhaps as much
on account of its picturesque beauty, as for any other reason. Deprived,
as he was, of courtly splendour and observance, his mind, unperverted by
the giddy show and tinsel pomp that generally surrounds a royal station,
regarded with a degree of enthusiasm the real loveliness of Nature; and
now it was some time before even the preparations for his favourite
sport could call his attention from the picturesque beauty of the spot.

The policy of Richelieu, which had led him to deprive the King of many
of the external marks of sovereignty, as well as of the real power,
taught him also to encourage all those sports which might at once occupy
Louis's mind, and place him at a distance from the scene of government.
Thus, the hunting equipage of the King was maintained in almost more
than royal luxury.

The first objects that presented themselves, in the _Carrefour
d'Argenin_, were a multitude of dogs and horses, grouped together with
the lieutenants of the forest, and the various officers of the hunt,
under those trees which would best afford them shade as the sun got up.
Various _piqueurs_ and valets were seen about the ground, some holding
the horses, some laying out the table for the royal _dejeûné_, and some
busily engaged in cutting long straight wands from the more pliable sort
of trees, and peeling off the bark for a certain distance, so as to
leave a sort of handle or hilt still covered, while the rest of the
stick, about three feet in length, remained bare. These, called "batons
de chasse," were first presented to the King, who, having chosen one,
directed the rest to be distributed among his friends and attendants,
for the purpose of guarding their heads from the boughs, which in the
rapidity of the chase, while it continued in the forest, often inflicted
serious injuries.

The _Maître valet de chiens_, and his ordinaries, each armed with a
portentous-looking horn, through the circles of which were passed a
variety of dog couples, were busily occupied in distributing the hounds
into their different relays, and the grooms and other attendants were
seen trying the girths of the heavy hunting saddles, loading the
pistols, or placing them in the holsters, and endeavouring to
distinguish themselves fully as much by their bustle as by their
activity.

However, it was an animated scene, and those who saw it could not wonder
that Louis preferred the gay excitement of such sports, to the sombre
monotony of a palace without a court, and royalty without its splendour.

After examining the preparations with a critical eye, and inquiring into
the height, age, size, and other distinctive signs of the stag which was
to be hunted, Louis placed himself at the breakfast-table which had
been prepared in the midst of the green, and motioning Cinq Mars and
Fontrailles to be seated, entered into a lively discussion concerning
the proper spots for placing the relays of horses and dogs. At length it
was determined that six hounds and four hunters should be stationed at
about two leagues and a half on the high road; that twelve dogs and four
_piqueurs_, with an ordinary of the chase, should take up a position
upon the side of a hill under which the stag was likely to pass; and
that another relay should remain at a spot called _Le Croix de bois_,
within sight of which the hunt would be obliged to come, if the animal,
avoiding the open country, made for the other extremity of the forest.

It fell upon Cinq Mars to communicate these directions to the officers
of the hunt, which he did in that sort of jargon, which the sports of
the field had made common in those days, but which would now be hardly
intelligible. He was engaged in giving general orders, that the horses
should be kept in the shade and ready to be mounted at a moment's
notice, in case the King, or any of his suite should require them, and
that the ordinary should by no means let slip any of the dogs of the
relay upon the stag, even if it passed his station, without especial
orders from the _piqueurs_ of the principal hunt--when suddenly he
stopped, and pointing with his hand, a man was discovered standing in
one of the avenues, apparently watching the Royal party.

The circumstance would have passed without notice, had it not been for
the extraordinary stature of the intruder, who appeared fully as tall as
Cinq Mars himself. Attention was farther excited by his disappearing as
soon as he was observed; and some grooms were sent to bring him before
the King, but their search was in vain, and the matter was soon
forgotten.

The minute relation of a Royal hunt in France, anno 1642, would afford
very little general interest. Enough has been said to show how different
were the proceedings of that time from our method of conducting such
things in the present day; and those who want farther information on
the subject may find it in a very erudite treatise, "De la Chasse, &c."
by Le Mercier, in the year fifty-six of the same century. We must,
however, in a more general manner, follow the King over the field,
though without attempting to describe all the minute occurrences of the
day, or the particulars of etiquette usual on such occasions.

The stag, poor silly beast, who had been dozing away his time in a
thicket at about half a mile distance, was soon roused by the very
unwished appearance of the huntsmen, and taking his path down the
principal avenue, bounded away towards the open country, calculating,
more wisely than the beast recorded by our old friend Æsop, that the
boughs might encumber his head gear. The horns sounded loud, the couples
were unloosed, the dogs slipped, and away went man and beast in the
pursuit. For a moment or two, the forest was filled with clang, and cry,
and tumult:--as the hunt swept away, it grew fainter and fainter, till
the sound, almost lost in the indistinct distance, left the deep glades
of the wood to resume their original silence.

They did not, however, long appear solitary, for in a few minutes after
the hunt had quitted the forest, the same tall figure, whose apparition
had interrupted Cinq Mars in his oratory concerning the relays, emerged
from one of the narrower paths, leading a strong black horse, whose
trappings were thickly covered with a variety of different figures in
brass, representing the signs of the zodiac, together with sundry
triangles, crescents, and other shapes, such as formed part of the
astrological quackery of that day. The appearance of the master was not
less singular in point of dress than that of the horse. He wore a long
black robe, somewhat in the shape of that borne by the order of Black
Friars, but sprinkled with silver signs. This, which made him look truly
gigantic, was bound round his waist by a broad girdle of white leather,
traced all over with strange characters, that might have been called
hieroglyphics, had they signified any thing; but which were, probably,
as unmeaning as the science they were intended to dignify.

To say the truth, the wearer did not seem particularly at his ease in
his habiliments; for when, after having looked cautiously around, he
attempted to mount his horse, the long drapery of his gown got entangled
round his feet at every effort, and it was not till he had vented
several very ungodly execrations, and effected a long rent in the back
of his robe, that he accomplished the ascent into the saddle. Once
there, however, the dexterity of his horsemanship, and his bearing
altogether, made him appear much more like the captain of a band of
heavy cavalry than an astrologer, notwithstanding the long snowy beard
which hung down to his girdle, and the profusion of white locks that,
escaping from his fur cap, floated wildly over his face, and concealed
the greater part of its features.

The horseman paused for a moment, seemingly immersed in thought, while
his horse, being a less considerate beast than himself, kept pawing the
ground, eager to set off. "Let me see," said the horseman; "the stag
will soon be turned on the high road by the carriers for Clermont, and
must come round under the hill, and then I would take the world to a
_chapon de Maine_, that that fool Andrieu lets slip his relay, and
drives the beast to water. If so, I have them at the _Croix de bois_. At
all events, one must try." And thus speaking, he struck his horse hard
with a thick kind of truncheon he held in his hand, and soon was out of
the forest.

In the mean while the King and his suite followed close upon the hounds;
the Monarch and Cinq Mars, animated by the love of the chase, and
Fontrailles risking to break his neck rather than be behind. The road
for some way was perfectly unobstructed, and as long as it remained so,
the stag followed it without deviation; but at length a train of
carriers' waggons appeared, wending their way towards Clermont. The
jingling of the bells on the yokes of the oxen, and the flaunting of the
red and white ribbons on their horns, instantly startled the stag, who,
stopping short in his flight, stood at gaze for a moment, and then
darting across the country, entered a narrow track of that unproductive
sandy kind of soil, called in France _landes_, which bordered the
forest. It so happened,--unfortunately, I was going to say, but
doubtless the stag thought otherwise--that a large herd of his horned
kindred were lying out in this very track, enjoying the morning
sunshine, and regaling themselves upon the first fruits that fell from
some chesnut-trees, which in that place skirted the forest.

Now the stag, remembering an old saying, which signalizes the solace of
"company in distress," proceeded straight into the midst of the herd;
who being fat burghers of the wood, and like many other fat burghers
somewhat selfish withal, far from compassionating his case, received him
with scanty courtesy, and, in short, wished him at the devil. However,
no time was to be lost; the dogs were close upon his steps; "_sauve qui
peut!_" was the word among the stags, and away they all went, flying in
every direction.

The hunters had as little cause to be pleased with this manoeuvre as
the stags; for the hounds being young, were deceived by a strong family
likeness between one of the herd and the one they had so long followed,
and all of the dogs but four, yielding up the real object of pursuit,
gave chase to the strange stag, who, darting off to the left, took his
way towards the river. Cinq Mars and most of the _piqueurs_, misled by
seeing the young hounds have so great a majority, followed also. It was
in vain the King called to him to come back, that he was hunting the
wrong beast, and was as great a fool as a young hound; he neither heeded
nor heard, and soon was out of sight.

"_Sa christi!_" cried Louis, "there they go, just like the world,
quitting the true pursuit to follow the first fool that runs, and
priding themselves on being in the right, when they are most in error;
but come, Monsieur de Fontrailles, we will follow the true stag of the
hunt."

But Fontrailles too was gone. The separation of the hounds had afforded
an opportunity of quitting the sport not to be neglected, and he had
slunk away towards the Palace by the nearest road, which, leading
through a narrow dell, skirted the side of the hill opposite to that
over which the King's stag had taken his course. However, he still heard
from time to time the dogs give tongue, and the hunting cry of the King;
who, without considering that no one followed, gave the exact number of
_mots_ on his horn, followed by the haloo, and the "_Il dit vrai! il dit
vrai!_" which the _piqueurs_ ordinarily give out, to announce that the
dog who cried was upon the right scent. Still Fontrailles pursued his
way, when suddenly he perceived the stag, who, having distanced the
King, was brought to bay under the bank over which his road lay.

At that season of the year, the stag is peculiarly dangerous, but
Fontrailles did not want personal courage, and, dismounting from his
horse, he sprang to the bottom of the bank; where, drawing his _couteau
de chasse_, he prepared to run in upon the beast; but remembering at the
moment that the King could not be far distant, he paused, and waiting
till Louis came up, held the stirrup and offered his weapon to the
Monarch, who instantly running in, presented the knife with all the
dexterity of an experienced sportsman, and in a moment laid the stag
dead at his feet.

It was now the task of Fontrailles to keep off the hounds, while the
King, anxious to have all the honours of the day to himself, began what
is called in France the "_section_" and "_curée aux chiens_" without
waiting for _piqueurs_ or ordinaries. Nevertheless, he had only time to
make the longitudinal division of the skin, and one of the transverse
sections from the breast to the knee, when the sound of a horse's feet
made him raise his head from his somewhat unkingly occupation, thinking
that some of the other hunters must be now come up.

"_Que Diable!_" cried the King, viewing the strange figure of the
Astrologer we have already noticed in this profound chapter. "_Je veux
dire, Vive Dieu!_ What do you want? and who are you?"

"A friend to the son of Henri Quatre," replied the stranger, advancing
his horse closer to the King, who stood gazing on him with no small
degree of awe--for be it remembered, that the superstitious belief in
all sorts of necromancy was at its height both in England and France.

"A friend to the son of Henri Quatre! and one who comes to warn him of
near-approaching dangers."

"What are they, friend?" demanded the King, with a look of credulous
surprise: "Let me know whence they arise and how they may be avoided,
and your reward is sure."

"I seek no reward," replied the stranger, scornfully. "Can all the gold
of France change the star of my destiny? No! Monarch, I come uncalled,
and I will go unrewarded. The planets are still doubtful over your
house, and therefore I forewarn you ere it be too late--A Spaniard is
seeking your overthrow, and a woman is plotting your ruin--A Prince is
scheming your destruction, and a Queen is betraying your trust.

"How!" exclaimed Louis. "Am I to believe--"

"Ask me no questions," cried the stranger, who heard the trampling of
horses' feet approaching the scene of conference. "In this roll is
written the word of fate. Read it, O King! and timely guard against the
evil that menaces." So saying, he threw a scroll of parchment before the
King, and spurred on his horse to depart; but at that moment, the figure
of Cinq Mars, who by this time had run down the stag he had followed,
presented itself in his way, "What mumming is this?" cried the Master of
the Horse, regarding the stranger.

"Stop him! Cinq Mars," cried Fontrailles, who foresaw that the
stranger's predictions might derange all his schemes. "He is an
impostor: do not let him pass!" And at the same time he laid his hand
upon the Astrologer's bridle. But in a moment, the stranger spurring on
his charger, overturned Fontrailles, shivered the hunting sword, which
Cinq Mars had drawn against him, to atoms with one blow of his
truncheon, and scattering the grooms and huntsmen like a flock of sheep,
was soon out of reach of pursuit.

"What means all this?" exclaimed Cinq Mars;--"explain Fontrailles! Sire,
shall we follow yon impostor?"

But Louis's eyes were fixed with a strained gaze upon the scroll, which
he held in his hand, and which seemed to absorb every faculty of his
soul. At length he raised them, mounted his horse in silence, and still
holding the parchment tight in his hand, rode on, exclaiming, "To
Chantilly."



CHAPTER VIII.

     Showing how the green-eyed monster got hold of a young lady's
     heart, and what he did with it.


Who is there that has not dreamed and had their dream broken? Who is
there that has not sighed to see spring flowers blighted, or summer
sunshine yield to wintry clouds; or bright hopes change to dark sorrows,
and gay joys pass away like sudden meteors, that blaze for one splendid
moment, and then drop powerless into the dark bosom of the night?

If memory, instead of softening all the traces, gave us back the
original lines of life in their native harshness, who could live on to
old age? for the catalogue of broken hopes, and disappointed wishes,
and pleasures snatched from us never to return, would be more than any
human mind could bear. It would harden the heart to marble, or break it
in its youth. It is happy too, that in early years our mind has greater
power of resistance, for the novelty of sorrow gives it a double sting.

The fatigues of her journey had long worn off, and left Pauline de
Beaumont all the glow of wild youthful beauty, which had adorned her in
her native hills. Her cheek had recovered its fine soft blush in all its
warmth, and her eyes all their dark brilliancy. But the cheerful gaiety
which had distinguished her, the light buoyancy of spirit, that seemed
destined to rise above all the sorrows of the world, had not come back
with the rose of her cheek, or the lustre of her eye. She loved to be
alone, and instead of regretting the gloom and stillness which prevailed
in the court of Anne of Austria, she often seemed to find its gaiety too
much for her, and would retire to the suite of apartments appropriated
to her mother and herself, to enjoy the solitude of her own thoughts.

At first, Madame de Beaumont fancied that the melancholy of her daughter
was caused by the sudden change from many loved scenes, endeared by all
the remembrances of infancy, to others in which, as yet, she had
acquired no interest. But as a second week followed the first, after
their arrival at St. Germain's, and the same depression of spirits still
continued, the Marchioness began to fear that Pauline had some more
serious cause of sorrow; and her mind reverted to the suspicions of De
Blenau's constancy, which she had been the first to excite in her
daughter's bosom.

The coming time is filled with things that we know not, and chance calls
forth so many unexpected events, that the only way in life is to wait
for Fate, and seize the circumstances of the day; by the errors of the
past to correct our actions at present, and to leave the future to a
wiser judgment and a stronger hand. Madame de Beaumont took no notice of
her daughter's melancholy, resolving to be guided in her conduct by
approaching circumstances; for clouds were gathering thickly on the
political horizon of France, which, like a thunder-storm depending on
the fickle breath of the wind, might break in tempests over their head,
or be wafted afar, and leave them still in peace.

It was one of those still evenings, when the world, as if melancholy at
the sun's decline, seems to watch in silence the departure of his latest
beams. All had sunk into repose, not a cloud passed over the clear
expanse of sky, not a noise was stirring upon earth; and Pauline felt a
sensation of quiet, pensive melancholy steal over all her thoughts,
harmonizing them with the calmness of the scene, as it lay tranquilly
before her, extending far away to the glowing verge of heaven,
unawakened by a sound, unruffled by a breath of air.

The window at which she sat looked towards St. Denis, where lay the
bones of many a race of Kings, who had, in turn, worn that often
contested diadem, which to the winner had generally proved a crown of
thorns. But her thoughts were not of them. The loss of early hopes, the
blight of only love, was the theme on which her mind brooded, like a
mother over the tomb of her child. The scene before her--its vast
extent--the dying splendour of the sun--the deep pureness of the evening
sky--the sublimity of the silence--all wrought upon her mind; and while
she thought of all the fairy hopes she had nourished from her youth,
while she dreamed, over again, all the dreams she had indulged of one on
whose fame, on whose honour, on whose truth, she had fondly, rashly,
raised every wish of her future life; and while new-born fears and
doubts came sweeping away the whole,--the tears rose glistening in her
eyes, and rolled, drop after drop, down her cheeks.

"Pauline!" said a voice close behind her. She started, turned towards
the speaker, and with an impulse stronger than volition, held out her
hand to Claude de Blenau. "Pauline," said he, printing a warm kiss on
the soft white hand that he held in his, "dear, beautiful Pauline, we
have met at last."

From the moment he had spoken, Pauline resolved to believe him as
immaculate as any human being ever was since the first meeting of Adam
and Eve; but still she wanted him to tell her so. It was not coquetry;
but she was afraid that after what she had seen, and what she had heard,
she ought not to be satisfied. Common propriety, she thought, required
that she should be jealous till such time as he proved to her that she
had no right to be so. She turned pale, and red, and drew back her hand
without reply.

De Blenau gazed on her for a moment in silent astonishment; for, young,
and ardent, and strongly tinged with that romantic spirit of gallantry
which Anne of Austria had introduced from Spain into the court of
France, the whole enthusiasm of his heart had been turned towards
Pauline de Beaumont; and he had thought of her the more, perhaps,
because forbid to think of her. Nor had the romance he had worked up in
his own mind admitted a particle of the cold ceremonies of courtly
etiquette; he had loved to figure it as something apart from the world.
A life with her he loved, of ardour, and passion, and sunshiny hours,
unclouded by a regret, unchilled by a reserve, but all boundless
confidence, and unrestrained affection--Such had been the purport of his
letters to Pauline de Beaumont, and such had been the colouring of her
replies to him. And who is there that has not dreamed so once?

De Blenau gazed on her for a moment in silence. "Do you not speak to me,
Pauline?" said he at length. "Or is it that you do not know me? True,
true! years work a great change at our time of life. But I had
fancied--perhaps foolishly fancied--that Pauline de Beaumont would know
Claude de Blenau wheresoever they met, as well as De Blenau would know
her."

While he spoke, Pauline knew not well what to do with her eyes; so she
turned them towards the terrace, and they fell upon Mademoiselle de
Hauteford, who was walking slowly along before the Palace. Less things
than that have caused greater events in this world than a renewal of all
Pauline's doubts. Doubts did I call them? Before Mademoiselle de
Hauteford, with all the graceful dignity for which she was conspicuous,
had taken three steps along the terrace, Pauline's doubts had become
almost certainties; and turning round, with what she fancied to be great
composure, she replied, "I have the pleasure of knowing you perfectly,
Monsieur de Blenau; I hope you have recovered entirely from your late
wounds."

"Monsieur de Blenau!--The pleasure of knowing me!" exclaimed the Count.
"Good God, is this my reception? Not three months have gone, since your
letters flattered me with the title of 'Dear Claude.'--My wounds are
better, Mademoiselle de Beaumont, but you seem inclined to inflict
others of a more painful nature."

Pauline strove to be composed, and strove to reply, but it was all in
vain; Nature would have way, and she burst into tears and sobbed aloud.
"Pauline, dearest Pauline!" cried De Blenau, catching her to his bosom
unrepulsed: "This must be some mistake--calm yourself, dear girl, and,
in the name of Heaven, tell me, what means this conduct to one who loves
you as I do?"

"One who loves me, Claude!" replied Pauline, wiping the tears from her
eyes; "Oh no, no--But what right had I to think that you would love me?
None, none, I will allow. Separated from each other so long, I had no
title to suppose that you would ever think of the child to whom you were
betrothed, but of whom you were afterwards commanded not to entertain a
remembrance--would think of her, after those engagements were broken by
a power you could not choose but obey. But still, De Blenau, you should
not have written those letters filled with professions of regard, and
vows to retain the engagements your father had formed for you,
notwithstanding the new obstacles which had arisen. You should not,
indeed, unless you had been very sure of your own heart; for it was
cruelly trifling with mine," and she gently disengaged herself from his
arms.--"I only blame you," she added, "for ever trying to gain my
affection, and not for now being wanting in love to a person you have
never seen since she was a child."

"Never seen you!" replied De Blenau with a smile: "Pauline, you are as
mistaken in that, as in any doubt you have of me. A year has not passed
since last we met. Remember that summer sunset on the banks of the
Rhone: remember the masked Cavalier who gave you the ring now on your
finger: remember the warm hills of Languedoc, glowing with a blush only
equalled by your cheek, when he told you that that token was sent by one
who loved you dearly, and would love you ever--that it came from Claude
de Blenau, who had bid him place the ring on your finger, and a kiss on
your hand, and renew the vow that he had long before pledged to
you.--Pauline, Pauline, it was himself."

"But why, dear Claude," demanded Pauline eagerly, forgetting coldness,
and pride, and suspicion, in the memory his words called up, "why did
you not tell me? why did you not let me know that it was you?"

"Because if I had been discovered," answered the Count, "it might have
cost me my life, years of imprisonment in the Bastille, or worse--the
destruction of her I loved? The slightest cry of surprise from you might
have betrayed me."

"But how did you escape, without your journey being known?" demanded
Pauline; "they say in Languedoc, that the Cardinal has bribed the evil
spirits of the air to be his spies on men's actions."

"It is difficult indeed to say how he acquires his information," replied
De Blenau; "but, however, I passed undiscovered. It was thus it
happened: I had gone as a volunteer to the siege of Perpignan, or
rather, as one of the _Arrière-ban_ of Languedoc, which was led by the
young and gallant Duc d'Enghien, to whom, after a long resistance, that
city delivered its keys. As soon as the place had surrendered, I asked
permission to absent myself for a few days. His Highness granted it
immediately, and I set out.--For what think you, Pauline? what, but to
visit that spot, round which all the hopes of my heart, all the dreams
of my imagination, had hovered for many a year.--But to proceed, taking
the two first stages of my journey towards Paris, I suddenly changed my
course, and embarking on the Rhone, descended as far as the Chateau de
Beaumont. You remember, that my page, Henry La Mothe, is the son of your
mother's _fermier_, old La Mothe, and doubtless know full well his house
among the oaks, on the borders of the great wood. It was here I took up
my abode, and formed a thousand plans of seeing you undiscovered. At
length, fortune favoured me. Oh! how my heart beat as, standing by one
of the trees in the long avenue, Henry first pointed out to me two
figures coming slowly down the path from the Chateau--yourself and your
mother,--and as, approaching towards me, they gradually grew more and
more distinct, my impatience almost overpowered me, and I believe I
should have started forward to meet you, had not Henry reminded me of
the danger. You passed close by.--O Pauline! I had indulged many a
waking dream. I had let fancy deck you in a thousand imaginary
charms--but at that moment, I found all I had imagined, or dreamed, a
thousand times excelled. I found the beautiful girl, that had been torn
from me so many years before, grown into woman's most surpassing
loveliness; and the charms which fancy and memory had scattered from
their united stores, faded away before the reality, like stars on the
rising of the sun. But this was not enough. I watched my opportunity. I
saw you, as you walked alone on the terrace, by the side of the
glittering Rhone,--I spoke to you,--I heard the tones of a voice to be
remembered for many an after hour, and placing the pledge of my
affection on your hand, I tore myself away."

De Blenau paused. Insensibly, whilst he was speaking, Pauline had
suffered his arm again to glide round her waist. Her hand somehow became
clasped in his, and as he told the tale of his affection, the tears of
many a mingled emotion rolled over the dark lashes of her eye, and
chasing one another down her cheek, fell upon the lip of her lover, as
he pressed a kiss upon the warm sunny spot which those drops bedewed.

De Blenau saw that those tears were not tears of sorrow, and had love
been with him an art, he probably would have sought no farther; for in
the whole economy of life, but more especially in that soft passion
Love, holds good the homely maxim, to let _well_ alone. But De Blenau
was not satisfied; and like a foolish youth, he teased Pauline to know
why she had at first received him coldly. In good truth, she had by this
time forgotten all about it; but as she was obliged to answer, she soon
again conjured up all her doubts and suspicions. She hesitated, drew her
hand from that of the Count, blushed deeper and deeper, and twice began
to speak without ending her sentence.

"I know not what to think," said she at length, "De Blenau: I would fain
believe you to be all you seem,--I would fain reject every doubt of what
you say."

Her coldness, her hesitation, her embarrassment, alarmed De Blenau's
fears, and he too began to be suspicious.

"On what can you rest a doubt?" demanded he, with a look of bitter
mortification; and perceiving that she still paused, he added sadly, but
coldly, "Mademoiselle de Beaumont, you are unkind. Can it be that you
are attached to another? Say, am I so unhappy?"

"No, De Blenau, no!" replied Pauline, struggling for firmness: "but
answer me one question, explain to me but this one thing, and I am
satisfied."

"Ask me any question, propose to me any doubts," answered the Count,
"and I will reply truly, upon my honour."

"Then tell me," said Pauline,---- But just as she was about to proceed,
she felt some difficulty in proposing her doubts. She had a thousand
times before convinced herself they were very serious and well founded;
but all jealous suspicions look so very foolish in black and white, or
what is quite as good, in plain language, though they may seem very
respectable when seen through the twilight of passion, that Pauline knew
not very well how to give utterance to hers. "Then tell me," said
Pauline, with no small hesitation--"then tell me, what was the reason
you would suffer no one to open your hunting coat, when you were wounded
in the forest--no, not even to staunch the bleeding of the side?"

"There was a reason, certainly," replied De Blenau, not very well
perceiving the connexion between his hunting-coat and Pauline's
coldness; "there was a reason certainly; but how in the name of Heaven
does that affect you, Pauline?"

"You shall see by my next question," answered she. "Have you or have you
not received a letter, privately conveyed to you from a lady? and has
not Mademoiselle de Hauteford visited you secretly during your illness?"

It was now De Blenau's turn to become embarrassed; he faltered, and
looked confused, and for a moment his cheek, which had hitherto been
pale with the loss of blood, became of the deepest crimson, while he
replied, "I did not know that I was so watched."

"It is enough, Monsieur de Blenau," said Pauline rising, her doubts
almost aggravated to certainties. "To justify myself, Sir, I will tell
you that you have not been watched. Pauline de Beaumont would consider
that man unworthy of her affection, whose conduct would require
watching. What I know, has come to my ears by mere accident. In fact,"
and her voice trembled the more, perhaps, that she strove to preserve
its steadiness--"in fact, I have become acquainted with a painful truth
through my too great kindness for you, in sending my own servant to
inquire after your health, and not to watch you, Monsieur de Blenau."

"Stop, stop, Pauline! in pity, stop," cried De Blenau, seeing her about
to depart. "Your questions place me in the most embarrassing of
situations. But, on my soul, I have never suffered a thought to stray
from you, and you yourself will one day do me justice. But at present,
on this point, I am bound by every principle of duty and honour, not to
attempt an exculpation."

"None is necessary, Monsieur de Blenau," replied Pauline. "It is much
better to understand each other at once. I have no right to any control
over you. You are of course free, and at liberty to follow the bent of
your own inclinations. Adieu! I shall always wish your welfare." And she
was quitting the apartment, but De Blenau still detained her, though she
gently strove to withdraw her hand.

"Yet one moment, Pauline," said he. "You were once kind, you were once
generous, you have more than once assured me of your affection. Now,
tell me, did you bestow that affection on a man destitute of honour? on
a man who would sully his fame by pledging his faith to what was
false?" Pauline's hand remained in his without an effort, and he went
on. "I now pledge you my faith, and give you my honour, however strange
it may appear that a lady should visit me in private, I have never loved
or sought any but yourself. Pauline, do you doubt me now?"

Her eyes were fixed upon the ground, and she did not reply, but there
was a slight motion in the hand he held, as if it would fain have
returned his pressure had she dared. "I could," he continued, "within an
hour obtain permission to explain it all. But oh, Pauline, how much
happier would it make me to find, that you trust alone to my word, that
you put full confidence in a heart that loves you!"

"I do! I do!" exclaimed Pauline, with all her own wild energy, at the
same time placing her other hand also on his, and raising her eyes to
his face: "Say no more, De Blenau. I believe I have been wrong; at all
events, I cannot, I will not doubt, what makes me so happy to believe."
And her eyes, which again filled with tears, were hidden on his bosom.

De Blenau pressed her to his heart, and again and again thanked the lips
that had spoken such kind words, in the way that such lips may best be
thanked.--"Dearest Pauline," said De Blenau, after enjoying a moment or
two of that peculiar happiness which shines but once or twice even in
the brightest existence, giving a momentary taste of heaven, and then
losing itself, either in human cares, or less vivid joys.--The heart is
a garden, and youth is its spring, and hope is its sunshine, and love is
a thorny plant, that grows up and bears one bright flower, which has
nothing like it in all the earth--

"Dearest Pauline," said De Blenau, "I leave you for a time, that I may
return and satisfy every doubt. Within one hour all shall be explained."

As he spoke, the door of the apartment opened, and one of the servants
of the Palace entered, with a face of some alarm. "Monsieur de Blenau,"
said he, "I beg a thousand pardons for intruding, but there have been,
but now, at the Palace gate, two men of the Cardinal's guard inquiring
for you: so I told them that you were most likely at the other side of
the Park, for--for--" and after hesitating a moment, he added, "They are
the same who arrested Monsieur de Vitry."

De Blenau started. "Fly, fly, Claude!" exclaimed Pauline, catching him
eagerly by the arm--"Oh fly, dear Claude, while there is yet time. I am
sure they seek some evil towards you."

"You have done well," said De Blenau to the attendant. "I will speak to
you as I come down.--Dearest Pauline," he continued when the man was
gone--"I must see what these gentlemen want. Nay, do not look
frightened; you are mistaken about their errand. I have nothing to fear,
believe me. Some trifling business, no doubt. In the mean time, I shall
not neglect my original object. In half an hour all your doubts shall be
satisfied."

"I have none, Claude," replied Pauline; "indeed I have none, but about
these men."

De Blenau endeavoured to calm her, and assured her again and again that
there was no danger. But Pauline was not easy, and the Count himself had
more suspicions concerning their object than he would suffer to appear.



CHAPTER IX.

     Containing a great deal that would not have been said had it not
     been necessary.


In front of the Palace of St. Germain's, but concealed from the park and
terrace by an angle of the building, stood the Count de Chavigni,
apparently engaged in the very undignified occupation of making love to
a pretty-looking soubrette, no other than Louise, the waiting-maid of
Mademoiselle de Beaumont. But, notwithstanding the careless nonchalance
with which he affected to address her, it was evident that he had some
deeper object in view than the trifling of an idle hour.

"Well, _ma belle_," said he, after a few words of a more tender nature,
"you are sure the Surgeon said, though the wound is in his side, his
heart is uninjured?"

"Yes, exactly," said Louise, "word for word; and the Queen answered, 'I
understand you.' But I cannot think why you are so curious about it."

"Because I take an interest in the young Count," replied Chavigni. "But,
his heart must be very hard if it can resist such eyes as yours."

"He never saw them," said Louise, "for I was not with my Lady when they
picked him up wounded in the forest."

"So much the better," replied Chavigni, "for that is he turning that
angle of the Palace: I must speak to him; so farewell, _belle Louise_,
and remember the signal.--Go through that door, and he will not see
you."

Speaking thus, Chavigni left her, and a few steps brought him up to De
Blenau, who at that moment traversed the angle in which he had been
standing with Louise, and was hurrying on with a rapid pace in search of
the Queen.

"Good morrow, Monsieur de Blenau," said Chavigni: "you seem in haste."

"And am so, Sir," replied De Blenau proudly; and added, after a moment's
pause, "Have you any commands for me?" for Chavigni stood directly in
his way.

"None in particular," answered the other with perfect composure--"only
if you are seeking the Queen, I will go with you to her Majesty; and as
we go, I will tell you a piece of news you may perhaps like to hear."

"Sir Count de Chavigni, I beg you would mark me," replied De Blenau.
"You are one of the King's Council--a gentleman of good repute, and so
forth; but there is not that love between us that we should be seen
taking our evening's walk together, unless, indeed, it were for the
purpose of using our weapons more than our tongues."

"Indeed, Monsieur de Blenau," rejoined Chavigni, his lip curling into a
smile which partook more of good humour than scorn, though, perhaps,
mingled somewhat of each--"indeed you do not do me justice; I love you
better than you know, and may have an opportunity of doing you a good
turn some day, whether you will or not. So with your leave I walk with
you, for we both seek the Queen."

De Blenau was provoked. "Must I tell you, Sir," exclaimed he, "that your
company is disagreeable to me?--that I do not like the society of men
who herd with robbers and assassins?"

"Psha!" exclaimed Chavigni, somewhat peevishly. "Captious boy, you'll
get yourself into the Bastille some day, where you would have been long
ago, had it not been for me."

"When you tell me, Sir, how such obligations have been incurred,"
answered the Count, "I shall be happy to acknowledge them."

"Why, twenty times, Monsieur de Blenau, you have nearly been put there,"
replied Chavigni, with that air of candour which it is very difficult to
affect when it is not genuine. "Your hot and boiling spirit, Sir, is
always running you into danger. Notwithstanding all your late wounds, a
little bleeding, even now, would not do you any harm. Here the first
thing you do is to quarrel with a man who has served you, is disposed to
serve you, and of whose service you may stand in need within five
minutes.

"But to give you proof at once that what I advance is more than a mere
jest--Do you think that your romantic expedition to Languedoc escaped
me? Monsieur de Blenau, you start, as if you dreamed that in such a
country as this, and under such an administration, any thing could take
place without being known to some member of the government. No, no, Sir!
there are many people in France, even now, who think they are acting in
perfect security, because no notice is apparently taken of the plans
they are forming, or the intrigues they are carrying on; while, in
reality, the hundred eyes of Policy are upon their every action, and the
sword is only suspended over their heads, that it may eventually fall
with more severity."

"You surprise me, I own," replied De Blenau, "by showing me that you
are acquainted with an adventure, which I thought buried in my own
bosom, or only confided to one equally faithful to me."

"You mean your Page," said Chavigni, with the same easy tone in which he
had spoken all along. "You have no cause to doubt him. He has never
betrayed you (at least to my knowledge). But these things come about
very simply, without treachery on any part. The stag never flies so
fast, nor the hare doubles so often, but they leave a scent behind them
for the dogs to follow,--and so it is with the actions of man; conceal
them as he will, there is always some trace by which they may be
discovered; and it is no secret to any one, now-a-days, that there are
people in every situation of life, in every town of France, paid to give
information of all that happens; so that the schemes must be well
concealed indeed, which some circumstance does not discover. I see, you
shake your head, as if you disapproved of the principle.

"De Blenau, you and I are engaged in different parties. You act firmly
convinced of the rectitude of your own cause--Do me the justice to
believe that I do the same. You hate the Minister--I admire him, and
feel fully certain that all he does is for the good of the State. On the
other hand, I applaud your courage, your devotion to the cause you have
espoused, and your proud unbending spirit--and I would bring you to the
scaffold to-morrow, if I thought it would really serve the party to
which I am attached."

The interesting nature of his conversation, and the bold candour it
displayed, had made De Blenau tolerate Chavigni's society longer than he
had intended, and even his dislike to the Statesman had in a degree worn
away before the easy dignity and frankness of his manner. But still, he
did not like to be seen holding any kind of companionship with one of
the Queen's professed enemies; and taking advantage of the first pause,
he replied--

"You are frank, Monsieur de Chavigni, but my head is well where it is.
And now may I ask to what does all this tend?"

"You need not hurry the conversation to a conclusion," replied Chavigni.
"You see that we are in direct progress towards that part of the Park
where her Majesty is most likely to be found." But seeing that De Blenau
seemed impatient of such reply, he proceeded: "However, as you wish to
know to what my conversation tends, I will tell you. If you please, it
tends to your own good. The Cardinal wishes to see you----"

He paused, and glanced his eye over the countenance of his companion,
from which, however, he could gather no reply, a slight frown being all
the emotion that was visible.

Chavigni then proceeded. "The Cardinal wishes to see you. He entertains
some suspicion of you. If you will take my advice, you will set out for
Paris immediately, wait upon his Eminence, and be frank with him--Nay,
do not start! I do not wish you to betray any one's secrets, or violate
your own honour. But be wise, set out instantly."

"I suspected something of this," replied De Blenau, "when I heard that
there were strangers inquiring for me. But whatever I do, I must first
see the Queen:" and observing that Chavigni was about to offer some
opposition, he added decidedly, "It is absolutely necessary--on business
of importance."

"May I ask," said Chavigni, "is it of importance to her Majesty or
yourself?"

"I have no objection to answer that at once," replied De Blenau: "it
concerns myself alone."

"Stop a moment," cried Chavigni, laying his hand on the Count's arm, and
pausing in the middle of the avenue, at the farther extremity of which a
group of three or four persons was seen approaching. "No business can be
of more importance than that on which I advise you to go.--Monsieur de
Blenau, I would save you pain. Let me, once more, press you to set out
without having any farther conversation with her Majesty than the mere
_etiquette_ of taking leave for a day."

De Blenau well knew the danger which he incurred, but still he could not
resolve to go, without clearing the doubts of Pauline, which five
minutes' conversation with the Queen would enable him to do. "It is
impossible," replied he, thoughtfully; "besides, let the Cardinal send
for me. I do not see why I should walk with my eyes open into the den of
a lion."

"Well then, Sir," answered Chavigni, with somewhat more of coldness in
his manner, "I must tell you, his Eminence has sent for you, and that,
perhaps, in a way which may not suit the pride of your disposition. Do
you see those three men that are coming down the avenue? they are not
here without an object.--Come, once more, what say you, Monsieur le
Comte? Go with me, to take leave of the Queen, for I must suffer no
private conversation. Let us then mount our horses, and ride as friends
to Paris. There, pay your respects to the Cardinal, and take Chavigni's
word, that, unless you suffer the heat of your temper to betray you into
any thing unbecoming, you shall return safe to St. Germain's before
to-morrow evening. If not, things must take their course."

"You offer me fair, Sir," replied the Count, "if I understand you
rightly, that the Cardinal has sent to arrest me; and of course, I
cannot hesitate to accept your proposal. I have no particular partiality
for the Bastille, I can assure you."

"Then you consent?" said Chavigni. De Blenau bowed his head. "Well then,
I will speak to these gentlemen," he added, "and they will give us their
room."

By this time the three persons, who had continued to advance down the
avenue, had approached within the distance of a few paces of Chavigni
and the Count. Two of them were dressed in the uniform of the Cardinal's
guard; one as a simple trooper, the other being the Lieutenant who bore
the _lettre de cachet_ for the arrest of De Blenau. The third, we have
had some occasion to notice in the wood of Mantes, being no other than
the tall Norman, who on that occasion was found in a rusty buff jerkin,
consorting with the banditti. His appearance, however, was now very much
changed for the better. The neat trimming of his beard and mustaches,
the smart turn of his broad beaver, the flush newness of his
long-waisted blue silk vest, and even the hanging of his sword, which
instead of offering its hilt on the left hip, ever ready for the hand,
now swung far behind, with the tip of the scabbard striking against the
right calf,--all denoted a change of trade and circumstances, from the
poor bravo who won his daily meal at the sword's point, to the well-paid
bully, who fattened at his lord's second table, on the merit of services
more real than apparent.

De Blenau's eye fixed full upon the Norman, certain that he had seen him
somewhere before, but the change of dress and circumstances embarrassed
his recollection.

In the mean while, Chavigni advanced to the Cardinal's officer.
"Monsieur Chauville," said he, "favour me by preceding me to his
Eminence of Richelieu. Offer him my salutation, and inform him, that
Monsieur le Comte de Blenau and myself intend to wait upon him this
afternoon."

Chauville bowed, and passed on, while the Norman, uncovering his head to
Chavigni, instantly brought back to the mind of De Blenau the
circumstances under which he had first seen him.

"You have returned, I see," said Chavigni. "Have you found an occasion
of fulfilling my orders?"

"To your heart's content, Monseigneur," replied the Norman; "never was
such an Astrologer, since the days of Intrim of Blois."

"Hush!" said Chavigni, for the other spoke aloud. "If you have done it,
that is enough. But for a time, keep yourself to Paris, and avoid the
Court, as some one may recognise you, even in these fine new feathers."

"Oh, I defy them," replied the Norman, in a lower tone than he had
formerly spoken, but still so loud that De Blenau could not avoid
hearing the greater part of what he said--"I defy them; for I was so
wrapped up in my black robes and my white beard, that the Devil himself
would not know me for the same mortal in the two costumes. But I hope,
Monsieur le Comte, that my reward may be equal to the risk I have run,
for they sought to stop me, and had I not been too good a necromancer
for them, I suppose I should have been roasting at a stake by this time.
But one wave of my magic wand sent the sword of Monsieur de Cinq Mars
out of his hand, and opened me a passage to the wood; otherwise I should
have fared but badly amongst them."

"You must not exact too much, Monsieur Marteville," replied Chavigni.
"But we will speak of this to-night. I shall be in Paris in a few hours;
at present, you see, I am occupied;" and leaving the Norman, he rejoined
De Blenau, and proceeded in search of the Queen.

"If my memory serves me right, Monsieur de Chavigni," said De Blenau, in
a tone of some bitterness, "I have seen that gentleman before, and with
his sword shining at my breast."

"It is very possible," answered Chavigni, with the most indifferent
calmness. "I have seen him in the same situation with respect to
myself."

"Indeed!" rejoined De Blenau, with some surprise; "but probably not with
the same intention," he added.

"I do not know," replied the Statesman, with a smile. "His intentions in
my favour were to run me through the body."

"And is it possible, then," exclaimed De Blenau, "that with such a
knowledge of his character and habits, you can employ and patronize
him?"

"Certainly," answered Chavigni, "I wanted a bold villain. Such men are
very necessary in a State. Now, I could not have better proof that this
man had the qualities required, than his attempting to cut my throat.
But you do him some injustice; he is better than you suppose--is not
without feeling--and has his own ideas of honour."

De Blenau checked the bitter reply which was rising to his lips, and
letting the conversation drop, they proceeded, in silence, in search of
the Queen. They had not gone much farther, when they perceived her
leaning familiarly on the arm of Madame de Beaumont, and seemingly
occupied in some conversation of deep interest. However, her eye fell
upon the Count and Chavigni as they came up, and, surprised to see them
together, she abruptly paused in what she was saying.

"Look there, De Beaumont," said she: "something is not right. I have
seen more than one of these creatures of the Cardinal hanging about the
Park to-day. I fear for poor De Blenau. He has been too faithful to his
Queen to escape long."

"I salute your Majesty," said Chavigni, as soon as they had come within
a short distance of the Queen, and not giving De Blenau the time to
address her: "I have been the bearer of a message from his Eminence of
Richelieu to Monsieur de Blenau, your Majesty's Chamberlain, requesting
the pleasure of entertaining him for a day in Paris. The Count has
kindly accepted the invitation; and I have promised that the Cardinal
shall not press his stay beyond to-morrow. We only now want your
Majesty's permission and good leave, which in his Eminence's name I
humbly crave for Monsieur de Blenau."

"His Eminence is too condescending," replied the Queen. "He knows that
his will is law; and we, humble Kings and Queens, as in duty, do him
reverence. I doubt not that his intentions towards our Chamberlain are
as mild and amiable, as his general conduct towards our self."

"The truth is, your Majesty," said De Blenau, "the Cardinal has sent for
me, and (however Monsieur de Chavigni's politeness may colour it) in a
way that compels my attendance."

"I thought so," exclaimed the Queen, dropping the tone of irony which
she had assumed towards Chavigni, and looking with mingled grief and
kindness upon the young Cavalier, whose destruction she deemed
inevitable from the moment that Richelieu had fixed the serpent eyes of
his policy upon him--"I thought so. Alas, my poor De Blenau! all that
attach themselves to me seem devoted to persecution."

"Not so, your Majesty," said Chavigni, with some degree of feeling; "I
can assure you, Monsieur de Blenau goes at perfect liberty. He is under
no arrest; and, unless he stays by his own wish, will return to your
Majesty's court to-morrow night. The Cardinal is far from wishing to
give unnecessary pain."

"Talk not to me, Sir Counsellor," replied the Queen, angrily: "Do I not
know him? I, who of all the world have best cause to estimate his
baseness? Have I not under his own hand, the proof of his criminal
ambition? but no more of that--" And breaking off into Spanish, as was
frequently her custom when angry, she continued, "No sè si es la misma
vanidad, la sobervia, ó la arrogancia. Que todo esto, segun creo es el
Cardenal."

"It is useless, Madam," said De Blenau, as soon as the Queen paused in
her angry vituperation of the Minister, "to distress you farther with
this conversation. I know not what the Cardinal wants, but he may rest
assured that De Blenau's heart is firm, and that no human means shall
induce him to swerve from his duty; and thus I humbly take my leave."

"Go then, De Blenau," said the Queen: "Go, and whether we ever meet
again or not, your faithful services and zealous friendship shall ever
have my warmest gratitude; and Anne of Austria has no other reward to
bestow." Thus saying, she held out her hand to him. De Blenau in silence
bent his head respectfully over it, and turned away. Chavigni bowed low,
and followed the Count, to whose hotel they proceeded, in order to
prepare for their departure.

In the orders which De Blenau gave on their arrival, he merely commanded
the attendance of his Page.

"Pardon me, Monsieur de Blenau, if I observe upon your arrangements,"
said Chavigni, when he heard this order. "But let me remind you, once
more, that you are not going to a prison, and that it might be better if
your general train attended you, as a gentleman of high station about to
visit the Prime Minister of his Sovereign. They will find plenty of
accommodation in the Hotel de Bouthiliers."

"Be it so, then," replied De Blenau, scarcely able to assume even the
appearance of civility towards his companion. "Henry de La Mothe," he
proceeded, "order a dozen of my best men to attend me, bearing my full
colours in their sword-knots and scarfs. Trick out my horses gaily, as
if I were going to a wedding, for Claude de Blenau is about to visit the
Cardinal; and remember," he continued, his anger at the forced journey
he was taking overcoming his prudence, "that there be saddled for my
own use the good black barb that carried me so stoutly when I was
attacked by assassins in the wood of Mantes;" and as he spoke, his eye
glanced towards the Statesman, who sitting in the window seat, had taken
up the Poems of Rotrou, and apparently inattentive to all that was
passing, read on with as careless and easy an air, as if no more
important interest occupied his thoughts, and no contending passions
struggled in his breast.



CHAPTER X.

     Shows how the Count de Blenau supped in a place that he little
     expected.


Though the attendants of the Count de Blenau did not expend much time in
preparing to accompany their master, the evening was nevertheless too
far spent, before they could proceed, to permit the hope of reaching
Paris ere the night should have set in. It was still quite light enough,
however, to show all the preparations for the Count's departure to the
boys of St. Germain's, who had not beheld for many a good day such a gay
cavalcade enliven the streets of that almost deserted town.

Chavigni and De Blenau mounted their horses together; and the four or
five servants which the Statesman had brought with him from Paris,
mingling with those of De Blenau, followed the two gentlemen as they
rode from the gate. Having the privilege of the Park, Chavigni took his
way immediately under the windows of the Palace, thereby avoiding a
considerable circuit, which would have occupied more time than they
could well spare at that late hour of the evening.

The moment Pauline de Beaumont had seen her lover depart, the tears,
which she had struggled to repress in his presence, flowed rapidly down
her cheeks. The noble, candid manner of De Blenau had nearly quelled all
suspicion in her mind. The graces of his person, the tone of his voice,
the glance of his eye, had realized the day-dreams which she had
nourished from her youth.

Fame had long before told her that he was brave, high-spirited,
chivalrous; and his picture, as well as memory, had shown him as
strikingly handsome; but still it did not speak, it did not move; and
though Pauline had often sat with it in her hand, and imagined the
expressions of his various letters as coming from those lips, or tried
in fancy to animate the motionless eyes of the portrait, still the hero
of her romance, like the figure of Prometheus ere he had robbed the Sun
of light to kindle it into active being, wanted the energy of real life.
But at length they had met, and whether it was so in truth, or whether
she imagined it, matters not, but every bright dream of her fancy seemed
fulfilled in De Blenau; and now that she had cause to fear for his
safety, she upbraided herself for having entertained a suspicion.

She wept then--but her tears were from a very different cause to that
which had occasioned them to flow before. However, her eyes were still
full, when a servant entered to inform her that the Queen desired her
society with the other ladies of her scanty Court. Pauline endeavoured
to efface the marks which her weeping had left, and slowly obeyed the
summons, which being usual at that hour, she knew was on no business of
import; but on entering the closet, she perceived that tears had also
been in the bright eyes of Anne of Austria.

The circle, which consisted of Madame de Beaumont, Mademoiselle de
Hauteford, and another Lady of honour, had drawn round the window at
which her Majesty sat, and which, thrown fully open, admitted the breeze
from the Park.

"Come hither, Pauline," said the Queen as she saw her enter, "What! have
you been weeping too? Nay, do not blush, sweet girl; for surely a
subject need not be ashamed of doing _once_ what a Queen is obliged to
do every day. Why, it is the only resource that we women have. But come
here: there seems a gay cavalcade entering the Park gates. These are the
toys with which we are taught to amuse ourselves. Who are they, I
wonder? Come near, Pauline, and see if your young eyes can tell."

Pauline approached the window, and took her station by the side of the
Queen, who, rising from her seat, placed her arm kindly through that of
Mademoiselle de Beaumont, and leaning gently upon her, prevented the
possibility of her retiring from the spot where she stood.

In the mean while the cavalcade approached. The gay trappings of the
horses, and the rich suits of their riders, with their silk scarfs and
sword-knots of blue and gold, soon showed to the keen eyes of the
Queen's ladies that the young Count de Blenau was one of the party;
while every now and then a horseman in Isabel and silver appearing
amongst the rest, told them, to their no small surprise, that he was
accompanied by the Count de Chavigni, the sworn friend of Richelieu, and
one of the principal leaders of the Cardinal's party. The Queen,
however, evinced no astonishment, and her attendants of course did not
attempt to express the wonder they felt at such a companionship.

The rapid pace at which the two gentlemen proceeded, soon brought them
near the Palace; and Chavigni, from whose observant eye nothing passed
without notice, instantly perceived the Queen and her party at the
window, and marked his salutation with a profound inclination, low
almost to servility, while De Blenau raised his high-plumed hat and
bowed, with the dignity of one conscious that he had deserved well of
all who saw him.

Chavigni led the way to Marly, and thence to Ruel, where night began to
come heavily upon the twilight; and long before they entered Paris, all
objects were lost in darkness. "You must be my guest for to-night,
Monsieur de Blenau," said Chavigni, as they rode on down the Rue St.
Honoré, "for it will be too late to visit the Cardinal this evening."

However, as they passed the Palais Royal (then called the Palais
Cardinal), the blaze of light, which proceeded from every window of the
edifice, told that on that night the superb Minister entertained the
Court;--a Court, of which he had deprived his King, and which he had
appropriated to himself. De Blenau drew a deep sigh as he gazed upon the
magnificent edifice, and compared the pomp and luxury which every thing
appertaining to it displayed, with the silent, desolate melancholy which
reigned in the royal palaces of France.

Passing on down the Rue St. Honoré, and crossing the Rue St. Martin,
they soon reached the Place Royale, in which Chavigni had fixed his
residence. Two of De Blenau's servants immediately placed themselves at
the head of his horse, and held the bridle short, while Henry de La
Mothe sprang to the stirrup. But at that moment a gentleman who seemed
to have been waiting the arrival of the travellers, issued from the
Hotel de Bouthiliers, and prevented them from dismounting.

"Do not alight, gentlemen," exclaimed he; "his Eminence the Cardinal de
Richelieu has sent me to request that Messieurs De Blenau and Chavigni
will partake a small collation at the Palais Cardinal, without the
ceremony of changing their dress."

De Blenau would fain have excused himself, alleging that the habit which
he wore was but suited to the morning, and also was soiled with the
dust of their long ride. But the Cardinal's officer overbore all
opposition, declaring that his Eminence would regard it as a higher
compliment, if the Count would refrain from setting foot to the ground
till he entered the gates of his Palace.

"Then we must go back," said Chavigni. "We are honoured by the
Cardinal's invitation. Monsieur de Blenau, pardon me for having brought
you so far wrong. Go in, Chatenay," he added, turning to one of his own
domestics, "and order flambeaux."

In a few moments all was ready; and preceded by half a dozen
torch-bearers on foot, they once more turned towards the dwelling of the
Minister. As they did so, De Blenau's feelings were not of the most
agreeable nature, but he acquiesced in silence, for to have refused his
presence would have been worse than useless.

The Palais Royal, which, as we have said, was then called the Palais
Cardinal, was a very different building when occupied by the haughty
Minister of Louis the Thirteenth, from that which we have seen it in our
days. The unbounded resources within his power gave to Richelieu the
means of lavishing on the mansion which he erected for himself, all that
art could produce of elegant, and all that wealth could supply of
magnificent. For seven years the famous Le Mercier laboured to perfect
it as a building; and during his long administration, the Cardinal
himself never ceased to decorate it with every thing rare or luxurious.
The large space which it occupied was divided into an outer and an inner
court, round which, on every side, the superb range of buildings,
forming the Palace, was placed in exact and beautiful proportion,
presenting every way an external and internal front, decorated with all
the splendour of architectural ornament.

The principal façade lay towards the Rue St. Honoré, and another of
simpler, but perhaps more correct design, towards the gardens, which
last were themselves one of the wonders of Paris at the time. Extending
over the space now occupied by the Rue de Richelieu, the Rue de Valois,
and several other streets, they contained, within themselves, many acres
of ground, and were filled with every plant and flower that Europe then
possessed, scattered about amongst the trees, which, being planted long
before the formality of the Dutch taste was introduced in France, had in
general been allowed to fall into natural groups, unperverted into the
long avenues and straight alleys which disfigure so many of the royal
parks and gardens on the Continent.

The right wing of the first court was principally occupied by that
beautiful Theatre, so strongly connected with every classic remembrance
of the French stage, in which the first tragedies of Rotrou and
Corneille were produced,--in which many of the inimitable comedies of
Molière were first given to the world, and in which he himself acted
till his death.

In the wing immediately opposite, was the Chapel, built in the Ionic
order, and ornamented in that pure and simple manner which none knew
better how to value than the Cardinal de Richelieu.

The two courts were divided from each other by a massive pile of
building, containing the grand saloon, the audience-chamber, and the
cabinet of the high council. On the ground-floor was the banqueting-room
and its antechamber; and a great part of the building fronting the
gardens was occupied by the famous gallery of portraits, which Richelieu
had taken care should comprise the best pictures that could be procured
of all the greatest characters in French history.

The rest of the Palace was filled with various suites of apartments,
generally decorated and furnished in the most sumptuous manner. Great
part of these the Cardinal reserved either for public entertainments, or
for his own private use; but what remained was nevertheless fully large
enough to contain that host of officers and attendants by which he was
usually surrounded.

On the evening in question almost every part of that immense building
was thrown open to receive the multitude that interest and fear gathered
round the powerful and vindictive Minister. Almost all that was gay,
almost all that was beautiful, had been assembled there. All to whom
wealth gave something to secure--all to whom rank gave something to
maintain--all whom wit rendered anxious for distinction--all whom talent
prompted to ambition. Equally those that Richelieu feared or loved,
hated or admired, were brought there by some means, and for some reason.

The scene which met the eyes of De Blenau and Chavigni, as they ascended
the grand staircase and entered the saloon, can only be qualified by the
word princely. The blaze of jewels, the glare of innumerable lights, the
splendid dresses of the guests, and the magnificent decorations of the
apartments themselves, all harmonized together, and formed a
_coup-d'oeil_ of surpassing brilliancy.

The rooms were full, but not crowded; for there were attendants
stationed in various parts for the purpose of requesting the visitors
to proceed, whenever they observed too many collected in one spot. Yet
care was taken that those who were thus treated with scant ceremony
should be of the inferior class admitted to the Cardinal's fête. Each
officer of the Minister's household was well instructed to know the just
value of every guest, and how far he was to be courted, either for his
mind or influence.

To render to all the highest respect, was the general order, but some
were to be distinguished. Care was also taken that none should be
neglected, and an infinite number of servants were seen gliding through
the apartments, offering the most costly and delicate refreshments to
every individual of the mixed assembly.

De Blenau followed Chavigni through the grand saloon, where many an eye
was turned upon the elegant and manly figure of him, who on that night
of splendour and finery, presumed to show himself in a suit, rich indeed
and well-fashioned, but evidently intended more for the sports of the
morning than for the gay evening circle in which he then stood. Yet it
was remarked, that none of the ladies drew back as the Cavalier passed
them, notwithstanding his riding-dress and his dusty boots; and one fair
demoiselle, whose rank would have sanctioned it, had it been done on
purpose, was unfortunate enough to entangle her train on his spurs. The
Count de Coligni stepped forward to disengage it, but De Blenau himself
had already bent one knee to the ground, and easily freeing the spur
from the robe of Mademoiselle de Bourbon, he remained for a moment in
the same attitude. "It is but just," said he, "that I should kneel, at
once to repair my awkwardness, and sue for pardon."

"It was my sister's own fault, De Blenau," said the Duke d'Enghien,
approaching them, and embracing the young Count. "We have not met, dear
friend, since the rendering of Perpignan. But what makes you here? Does
your proud spirit bend at last to ask a grace of my Lord Uncle
Cardinal?"

"No, your Highness," replied De Blenau; "no farther grace have I to
ask, than leave to return to St. Germain's as soon as I may."

"What!" said the Duke, in the abrupt heedless manner in which he always
spoke, "does he threaten you too with that cursed bugbear of a Bastille?
a bugbear, that makes one man fly his country, and another betray it;
that makes one man run his sword into his heart, and another
marry;"--alluding without ceremony to his own compelled espousal of the
Cardinal's niece. "But there stands Chavigni," he continued, "waiting
for you, I suppose. Go on, go on; there is no stopping when once you
have got within the Cardinal's magic circle--Go on, and God speed your
suit; for the sooner you are out of that same circle the better."

Quitting the young hero, who had already, on more than one occasion,
displayed that valour and conduct which in after-years procured for him
the immortal name of the Great Condé, the Count de Blenau passed another
group, consisting of the beautiful Madame de Montbazon and her avowed
lover, the Duke of Longueville, who soon after, notwithstanding his
unconcealed passion for another, became the husband of Mademoiselle de
Bourbon. For be it remarked, in those days a bitter quarrel existed
between Love and Marriage, and they were seldom seen together in the
same society. It is said indeed, that in France, a coolness remains
between them to this day. Here also was the Duke of Guise, who
afterwards played so conspicuous a part in the revolution of Naples, and
by his singular adventures, his gallantry and chivalrous courage,
acquired the name of _l'Hero de la Fable_, as Condé had been called
_l'Hero de l'Histoire_. Still passing on, De Blenau rejoined Chavigni,
who waited for him at the entrance of the next chamber.

It was the great hall of audience, and at the farther extremity stood
the Cardinal de Richelieu himself, leaning for support against a gilt
railing, which defended from any injurious touch the beautiful picture
of Raphael, so well known by the title of "La Belle Jardiniere." He was
dressed in the long purple robes of his order, and wore the peculiar
hat of a Cardinal; the bright colour of which made the deadly hue of his
complexion look still more ghastly. But the paleness of his countenance,
and a certain attenuation of feature, was all that could be discerned of
the illness from which he suffered. The powerful mind within seemed to
conquer the feebleness of the body. His form was erect and dignified,
his eye beaming with that piercing sagacity and haughty confidence in
his own powers, which so distinguished his policy; and his voice clear,
deep, and firm, but of that peculiar quality of sound, that it seemed to
spread all round, and to come no one knew from whence, like the wind
echoing through an empty cavern.

It was long since De Blenau had seen the Cardinal; and on entering the
audience-chamber, the sound of that voice made him start. Its clear
hollow tone seemed close to him, though Richelieu was conversing with
some of his immediate friends at the farther end of the room.

As the two cavaliers advanced, De Blenau had an opportunity of
observing the manner in which the Minister treated those around him: but
far from telling aught of dungeons and of death, his conversation seemed
cheerful, and his demeanour mild and placid. "And can this be the man,"
thought the Count, "the fabric of whose power is cemented by blood and
torture?"

They had now approached within a few paces of the spot where the
Cardinal stood; and the figure of Chavigni catching his eye, he advanced
a step, and received him with unaffected kindness. Towards De Blenau,
his manner was full of elegant politeness. He did not embrace him as he
had done Chavigni; but he held him by the hand for a moment, gazing on
him with a dignified approving smile. Those who did not well know the
heart of the subtle Minister, would have called that smile benevolent,
especially when it was accompanied by many kind inquiries respecting the
young nobleman's views and pursuits. De Blenau had been taught to judge
by actions, not professions; and the Cardinal had taken care to imprint
his deeds too deeply in the minds of men to be wiped out with soft
words. To dissemble was not De Blenau's forte; and yet he knew, that to
show a deceiver he cannot deceive, is to make him an open enemy for
ever. He replied, therefore, calmly and politely; neither repulsed the
Cardinal's advances, nor courted his regard; and after a few more
moments of desultory conversation, prepared to pursue his way through
the various apartments.

"There are some men, Monsieur le Comte," said the Cardinal, seeing him
about to pass on, "whom I might have scrupled to invite to such a scene
as this, in their riding-dress. But the Count de Blenau is not to be
mistaken."

"I felt no scruple," answered De Blenau, "in presenting myself thus,
when your Eminence desired it; for the dress in which the Cardinal de
Richelieu thought fit to receive me, could not be objected to by any of
his circle."

The Cardinal bowed; and De Blenau adding, that he would not intrude
farther at that moment, took his way through the suite of apartments to
Richelieu's left hand. Chavigni was about to follow, but a sign from the
Cardinal stopped him, and the young Count passed on alone.

Each of the various rooms he entered was thronged with its own peculiar
groups. In one, was an assembly of famous artists and sculptors; in
another, a close convocation of philosophers, discussing a thousand
absurd theories of the day; and in the last he came to, was a buzzing
hive of poets and _beaux esprits_; each trying to distinguish himself,
each jealous of the other, and all equally vain and full of themselves.

In one corner was Scuderi, haranguing upon the nature of tragedy, of
which he knew nothing. In another place, Voiture, throwing off little
empty couplets and bon-mots, like a child blowing bubbles from a
tobacco-pipe; and farther on was Rotrou, surrounded by a select party
more silent than the rest, to whom he recited some of his unpublished
poems, marking strongly the verse, and laying great emphasis upon the
rhyme. De Blenau stopped for a moment to listen while the poet
proceeded:--

    "L'aube desia se lève, et le mignard Zephire,
     Parfumant l'horizon du doux air qu'il respire,
     Va d'un son agréable esveiller les oiseaux
     Pour saluer le jour qui paroist sur les eaux."

But though the verses he recited were highly poetic, the extravagant
affectation of his manner soon neutralized their effect upon De Blenau;
and passing on down a broad flight of steps, De Blenau found himself in
the gardens of the Palace. These, as well as the whole front of the
building, were illuminated in every direction. Bands of musicians were
dispersed in the different walks, and a multitude of servants were
busily engaged in laying out tables for supper with all the choicest
viands of the season, and in trimming the various lamps and tapers which
hung from the branches of the trees or were displayed on fanciful frames
of wood, so placed as to give the fullest light to the banquets which
were situated near them.

Scattered about in various parts of the garden, but more especially near
the Palace, were different groups of gentlemen, all speaking of plays,
assemblies, or fêtes, and all taking care to make their conversation
perfectly audible, lest the jealous suspicion ever attendant on usurped
power, should attribute to them schemes which, it is probable, fear
alone prevented them from attempting.

Nevertheless, the gardens, as we have said, containing several acres of
ground, there were many parts comparatively deserted. It was towards
these more secluded spots that De Blenau directed his steps, wishing
himself many a league away from the Palais Cardinal and all its
splendour. Just as he had reached a part where few persons were to be
seen, some one struck him slightly on the arm, and turning round, he
perceived a man who concealed the lower part of his face with his cloak,
and tendered him what seemed to be a billet.

At the first glance De Blenau thought he recognised the Count de
Coligni, a reputed lover of Mademoiselle de Bourbon, and imagined that
the little piece of gallantry he had shown that lady on his first
entrance, might have called upon him the wrath of the jealous Coligni.
But no sooner had he taken the piece of paper, than the other darted
away amongst the trees, giving him no time to observe more, either of
his person or his dress.

Approaching a spot where the number of lamps gave him sufficient light
to read, De Blenau opened the note, which contained merely these words.
"Beware of Chavigni;--they will seek to draw something from you which
may criminate you hereafter."

As he read, De Blenau heard a light step advancing, and hastily
concealing the note, turned to see who approached. The only person near
was a lady, who had thrown a thick veil over her head, which not only
covered her face, but the upper part of her figure. She passed close by
him, but without turning her head, or by any other motion seeming to
notice him; but as she did so, De Blenau heard a low voice from under
the veil, desiring him to follow. Gliding on, without pausing for a
moment, the lady led the way to the very extreme of the garden. De
Blenau followed quick upon her steps, and as he did so, endeavoured to
call to mind where he had seen that graceful and dignified figure
before. At length the lady stopped, looked round for a moment, and
raising her veil, discovered the lovely countenance of Mademoiselle de
Bourbon.

"Monsieur de Blenau," said the Princess, "I have but one moment to tell
you, that the Cardinal and Chavigni are plotting the ruin of the Queen;
and they wish to force or persuade you to betray her. After you had left
the Cardinal, by chance I heard it proposed to arrest you even to-night;
but Chavigni said, that he had given his word that you should return to
St. Germain's to-morrow. Take care, therefore, of your conduct while
here, and if you have any cause to fear, escape the moment you are at
liberty. Fly to Flanders, and place yourself under the protection of Don
Francisco de Mello."

"I have to return your Highness a thousand thanks," replied De Blenau;
"but as far as innocence can give security, I have no reason to fear."

"Innocence is nothing here," rejoined the lady. "But you are the best
judge, Monsieur de Blenau. I sent Coligni to warn you, and taking an
opportunity of escaping from the supper-table, came to request that you
will offer my humble duty to the Queen, and assure her that Marie de
Bourbon is ever hers. But here is some one coming--Good God, it is
Chavigni!"

As she spoke, Chavigni came rapidly upon them. Mademoiselle de Bourbon
drew down her veil, and De Blenau placed himself between her and the
Statesman, who, affecting an excess of gaiety, totally foreign to his
natural character, began to rally the Count upon what he termed his
gallantry. "So, Monsieur de Blenau," cried he, "already paying your
devoirs to our Parisian dames. Nay, I must offer my compliments to your
fair lady on her conquest;" and he endeavoured to pass the Count towards
Mademoiselle de Bourbon.

De Blenau drew his sword. "Stand off, Sir," exclaimed he, "or by Heaven
you are a dead man!" And the point came flashing so near Chavigni's
breast, that he was fain to start back a step or two. The lady seized
the opportunity to pass him, for the palisade of the garden had
prevented her escaping the other way. Chavigni attempted to follow, but
De Blenau caught his arm, and held him with a grasp of iron.

"Not one step, Sir!" cried he. "Monsieur de Chavigni, you have strangely
forgot yourself. How is it you presume, Sir, to interrupt my
conversation with any one? And let me ask, what affair it is of yours,
if a lady chose to give me five minutes of her company even here! You
have slackened your gallantry not a little."

"But was the Cardinal's garden a place fitted for such love stories?"
demanded Chavigni, feeling, at the same time, very sure that the
conversation he had interrupted had not been of love; for in those days
politics and faction divided the heart of a Frenchwoman with gallantry,
and, instead of quarrelling for the empire of her breast, these
apparently opposite passions went hand in hand together; and exempt from
the more serious dangers incurred by the other sex in similar
enterprises, women were often the most active agents and zealous
partisans in the factions and conspiracies of the times.

It had been Chavigni's determination, on accompanying De Blenau to the
Palais Cardinal, not to lose sight of his companion for a moment, in
order that no communication might take place between him and any of the
Queen's party till such time as the Cardinal had personally interrogated
him concerning the correspondence which they supposed that Anne of
Austria carried on with her brother, Philip of Spain. Chavigni, however,
had been stopped, as we have seen, by the Cardinal himself, and detained
for some time in conversation, the principal object of which was, the
Count de Blenau himself, and the means of either persuading him by
favour, or of driving him by fear, not only to abandon, but to betray
the party he had espoused. The Cardinal thought ambition would do all;
Chavigni said that it would not move De Blenau; and thus the discussion
was considerably prolonged.

As soon as Chavigni could liberate himself, he had hastened after the
Count, and found him as we have described. To have ascertained who was
his companion, Chavigni would have risked his life; but now that she had
escaped him, the matter was past recall; and willing again to throw De
Blenau off his guard, he made some excuses for his intrusion, saying he
had thought that the lady was not unknown to him.

"Well, well, let it drop," replied De Blenau, fully more desirous of
avoiding farther inquiries than Chavigni was of relinquishing them. "But
the next time you come across me on such an occasion, beware of your
heart's blood, Monsieur de Chavigni." And thus saying, he thrust back
his sword into the scabbard.

Chavigni, however, was resolved not to lose sight of him again, and
passing his arm through that of the Count, "You are still too hot,
Monsieur de Blenau," said he; "but nevertheless let us be friends
again."

"As far as we ever were friends, Sir," replied De Blenau. "The open
difference of our principles in every respect, must always prevent our
greatly assimilating."

Chavigni, however, kept to his purpose, and did not withdraw his arm
from that of De Blenau, nor quit him again during the whole evening.

Whether the Statesman suspected Mademoiselle de Bourbon or not, matters
little; but on entering the banquet-room, where the principal guests
were preparing to take their seats, they passed that lady with her
brother and the Count de Coligni, and the eye of Chavigni glanced from
the countenance of De Blenau to hers. But they were both upon their
guard, and not a look betrayed that they had met since De Blenau's spur
had been entangled in her train.

At that moment the Master of the ceremonies exclaimed with a loud voice,
"Place au Comte de Blenau," and was conducting him to a seat higher than
his rank entitled him to take, when his eye fell upon the old Marquis de
Brion; and with the deference due not only to his station but to his
high military renown, De Blenau drew back to give him precedence.

"Go on, go on, _mon cher De Blenau_," said the old soldier; and lowering
his voice to a whisper, he added, "honest men like you and I are all out
of place here; so go on, and never mind. If it were in the field, we
would strive which should be first; but here there is no knowing which
end of the table is most honourable."

"Wherever it were, I should always be happy to follow Monsieur de
Brion," replied De Blenau; "but as you will have it, so let it be." And
following the Master of the ceremonies, he was soon placed amongst the
most distinguished guests, and within four or five seats of the
Cardinal. Like the spot before a heathen altar, it was always the place
either of honour or sacrifice; and De Blenau scarcely knew which was to
be his fate. At all events, the distinction which he met with, was by no
means pleasing to him, and he remained in silence during greater part of
the banquet.

Every thing in the vast hall where they sat was magnificent beyond
description. It was like one of those scenes in fairy romance, where
supernatural powers lend their aid to dignify some human festival. All
the apartment was as fully illuminated as if the broad sun had shone
into it in his fullest splendour; yet not a single light was to be seen.
Soft sounds of music also occasionally floated through the air, but
never so loud as to interrupt the conversation.

At the table all was glitter, and splendour, and luxury; and from the
higher end at which De Blenau sat, the long perspective of the hall,
decked out with all a mighty kingdom's wealth and crowded with the gay,
the bright, and the fair, offered an interminable view of beauty and
magnificence.

I might describe the passing of the banquet, and the bright smiles that
were given, and the bright things that were said. I might enlarge upon
the crowd of domestics, the activity of the seneschals and officers, and
tell of the splendour of the decorations. I might even introduce the
famous court fool, L'Angeli, who stood behind the chair of his young
lord the Duke d'Enghien. But no--a master's hand has given to the world
so many splendid pictures of such scenes, that mine would seem but a
feeble imitation. Let such things rest with Scott, whose magic wand has
had power to call up the spirit of the past with as much truth, as if it
were again substantially in being.

To pursue our theme, however. The Cardinal de Richelieu, who held in his
hand the fate of all who sat around him, yielded to his guests the most
marked attention, treating them with the profound humility of great
pride; trying to quell the fire of his eye, till it should become
nothing but affability; and to soften the deep tones of his voice, from
the accent of command to an expression of gentle courtesy; but
notwithstanding all his efforts, a degree of that haughtiness with which
the long habit of despotic rule had tinged his manners, would
occasionally appear, and still show that it was the lord entertaining
his vassals. His demeanour towards De Blenau, however, was all suavity
and kindness. He addressed him several times in the most marked manner
during the course of the banquet, and listened to his reply with one of
those approving smiles, so sweet upon the lips of power.

De Blenau was not to be deceived, it is true. Yet though he knew that
kindness to be assumed on purpose to betray, and the smile to be as
false as Hell, there was a fascination in the distinction shown him,
against which he could not wholly guard his heart. His brow unbent of
its frown, and he entered into the gay conversation which was going on
around; but at that moment he observed the Cardinal glance his eye
towards Chavigni with a meaning smile.

De Blenau marked it. "So," thought he, "my Lord Cardinal, you deem me
your own." And as the guests rose, De Blenau took his leave, and
returned with Chavigni to the Place Royale.



CHAPTER XI.

     Containing a Conference, which ends much as it began.


The music of the Cardinal's fête rang in De Blenau's ears all night, and
the lights danced in his eyes, and the various guests flitted before his
imagination, like the figures in some great phantasmagoria. One time he
seemed wandering in the gardens with Pauline de Beaumont, and offering
up all the dearest treasures of his heart, when suddenly the lady raised
her veil, and it was Mademoiselle de Bourbon. Then again he was seated
on the Cardinal's right hand, who poured out for him a cup of wine: he
raised it to his lips, and was about to drink, when some one dashed it
from his hand, exclaiming, "It is poison!" then, turning round to see
who had thus interposed, he beheld a figure without a head, and the
overthrown cup poured forth a stream of blood. The next moment it was
all the Cardinal's funeral, and the fool L'Angeli appeared as chief
mourner. At length, however, towards the approach of morning, the uneasy
visions died away, and left him in deep sleep, from which he rose
refreshed, and prepared to encounter the events of a new day.

Alas! that man should still rise to sorrow and to danger, and that the
kindest gift of Heaven should be the temporary forgetfulness of
existence. Sorrow! how is it that thy coarse thread is so intimately
mingled with the web of life, that he who would tear thee out must rend
the whole fabric? Oh life, thou long sad dream! when shall we rise from
all thy phantom agonies to that bright waking which we fondly hope?

De Blenau prepared his mind, as a man arming for a battle; and sent to
notify to Chavigni, that he was about to visit the Cardinal. In a few
minutes after, the Statesman himself appeared, and courteously conducted
the young Count to his horse, but did not offer to accompany him to the
Minister. "Monsieur de Blenau," said he, "it is better you should go
alone. After your audience, you will doubtless be in haste to return to
St. Germain's; but if you will remain to take your noon meal at my poor
table, I shall esteem myself honoured."

De Blenau thanked him for his courtesy, but declined, stating that he
was anxious to return home before night, if he were permitted to do so
at all. "My word is passed for your safety," replied Chavigni; "so have
no doubt on that head. But take my counsel, Monsieur le Comte: moderate
your proud bearing towards the Cardinal. Those who play with a lion,
must take good care not to irritate him."

On arriving at the Palais Cardinal, De Blenau left his attendants in the
outer court, and following an officer of the household, proceeded
through a long suite of apartments to a large saloon, where he found
several others waiting the leisure of the Minister, who was at that
moment engaged in conference with the Ambassador from Sweden.

De Blenau's own feelings were not of the most comfortable nature; but on
looking round the room, he guessed, from the faces of all those with
whom it was tenanted, that such sensations were but too common there.
One had placed himself at a window, and gazed upon the stones of the
court-yard with as much earnestness as if they had inspired him with the
deepest interest. Another walked up and down his own corner with
irregular steps and downcast look. Another leaned back in his seat, with
his chin resting on his breast, and regarded intently a door in the
other side of the saloon. And another sat bending his hat into so many
shapes, that he left it, in the end, of no shape at all. But all were
marked, by the knitted brow and anxious eye, for men whose fate was
hanging on the breath of another.

There was nothing consolatory in their looks, and De Blenau turned to
the portraits which covered the walls of the saloon. The first that his
eye fell upon was that of the famous Montmorency. He was represented as
armed in steel, with the head uncovered; and from his apparent age it
seemed that the picture had not been painted long before the unfortunate
conspiracy, which, by its failure, brought him to the scaffold. There
was also an expression of grave sadness in the countenance, as if he had
presaged his approaching fate. De Blenau turned to another; but it so
happened that each picture in the room represented some one of the many
whom Richelieu's unsparing vengeance had overtaken. Whether they were
placed in that waiting-room in order to overawe those whom the Minister
wished to intimidate; or whether it was that the famous gallery, which
the Cardinal had filled with portraits of all the principal historical
characters of France, would contain no more, and that in consequence the
pictures of the later dates had been placed in this saloon, without any
deeper intent, matters not; but at all events they offered no very
pleasant subject of contemplation.

De Blenau, however, was not long kept in suspense; for, in a few
minutes, the door on the other side of the room opened, and the Swedish
Ambassador passed out. The door shut behind him, but in a moment after
an attendant entered, and although several others had been waiting
before him, De Blenau was the first summoned to the presence of the
Cardinal.

He could not help feeling as if he wronged those he left still in doubt
as to their fate: but following the officer through an ante-room, he
entered the audience closet, and immediately perceived Richelieu seated
at a table, over which were strewed a multitude of papers of different
dimensions, some of which he was busily engaged in examining;--reading
them he was not, for his eye glanced so rapidly over their contents,
that his knowledge of each could be but general. He paused for a moment
as De Blenau entered, bowed his head, pointed to a seat, and resumed his
employment. When he had done, he signed the papers, and gave them to a
dull-looking personage, in a black silk pourpoint, who stood behind his
chair.

"Take these three death-warrants," said he, "to Monsieur Lafemas, and
then these others to Poterie at the Bastille. But no--stop," he
continued after a moment's thought; "you had better go to the Bastille
first, for Poterie can put Caply to the torture, while you are gone to
Lafemas; and you can bring me back his confession as you return."

De Blenau shuddered at the _sang froid_ with which the Minister
commanded those things that make one's blood curdle even to imagine. But
the attendant was practised in such commissions; and taking the packets,
as a mere matter of course, he bowed in silence, and disappearing by a
door on the other side, left De Blenau alone with the Cardinal.

"Well, Monsieur de Blenau," said Richelieu, looking up with a frank
smile, "your pardon for having detained you. There are many things upon
which I have long wished to speak to you, and this caused me to desire
your company. But I have no doubt that we shall part perfectly satisfied
with each other."

The Cardinal paused, as if for a reply. "I hope so too, my Lord," said
De Blenau. "I can, of course, have no cause to be dissatisfied with your
Eminence; and for my own part, I feel my bosom to be clear."

"I doubt it not, Monsieur le Comte," replied the Minister, with a
gracious inclination of the head--"I doubt it not; I know your spirit to
be too frank and noble to mingle in petty faction and treasonable cabal.
No one more admires your brave and independent bearing than myself. You
must remember that I have marked you from your youth. You have been
educated, as it were, under my own eye; and were it now necessary to
trust the welfare of the State to the honour of any one man, I would
confide it to the honour of De Blenau."

"To what, in the name of Heaven, can this lead?" thought De Blenau; but
he bowed without reply, and the Cardinal proceeded.

"I have, for some time past," he continued, "been thinking of placing
you in one of those high stations, to which your rank and consideration
entitle you to aspire. At present, none are vacant; but as a forerunner
to such advancement, I propose to call you to the Council, and to give
you the government of Poitou."

De Blenau was now, indeed, astonished. The Cardinal was not a man to
jest: and yet what he proposed, as a mere preliminary, was an offer that
the first noble in France might have accepted with gladness. The Count
was about to speak. But Richelieu paused only for a moment, to observe
the effect of what he said upon his auditor; and perhaps over-rating the
ambition of De Blenau, he proceeded more boldly.

"I do not pretend to say, notwithstanding my sense of your high merit,
and my almost parental feelings towards you, that I am wholly moved to
this by my individual regard; but the truth is, that the State requires,
at this moment, the services of one, who joins to high talents a
thorough knowledge of the affairs of Spain."

"So!" thought De Blenau, "I have it now. The government of Poitou, and a
seat at the Council, provided I betray the Queen and sell my own
honour." Richelieu seemed to wait an answer, and De Blenau replied: "If
your Eminence means to attribute such knowledge to me, some one must
have greatly misled you. I possess no information on the affairs of
Spain whatever, except from the common reports and journals of the
time."

This reply did not seem to affect Richelieu's intentions. "Well, well,
Monsieur de Blenau," said he, with a smile, "you will take your seat at
the Council, and will, of course, as a good subject and an honourable
man, communicate to us whatever information you possess, on those points
which concern the good of the State. We do not expect all at once; and
every thing shall be done to smooth your way, and facilitate your views.
Then, perhaps, if Richelieu live to execute the plans he has formed,
you, Monsieur de Blenau, following his path, and sharing his confidence,
may be ready to take his place, when death shall at length call him
from it."

The Cardinal counted somewhat too much on De Blenau's ambition, and not
sufficiently on his knowledge of the world; and imagining that he had,
the evening before, discovered the weak point in the character of the
young Count, he thought to lead him to any thing, by holding out to him
extravagant prospects of future greatness. The dish, however, was
somewhat too highly flavoured; and De Blenau replied, with a smile,--

"Your Eminence is exceeding good to think at all of me, in the vast and
more important projects which occupy your mind. But, alas! my Lord, De
Blenau would prove but a poor successor to Richelieu.--No, my Lord
Cardinal," he continued, "I have no ambition; that is a passion which
should be reserved for such great and comprehensive minds as yours. I am
contented as I am. High stations are always stations of danger."

"I had heard that the Count de Blenau was no way fearful," said
Richelieu, fixing on him a keen and almost scornful glance. "Was the
report a mistake? or is it lately he has become afraid of danger?"

De Blenau was piqued, and lost temper. "Of personal danger, my Lord, I
am never afraid," replied he. "But when along with risk to myself is
involved danger to my friends, danger to my country, danger to my
honour, and danger to my soul," and he returned the Cardinal's glance
full as proudly as it had been given, "then, my Lord Cardinal, I would
say, it were no cowardice, but true courage to fly from such
peril--unless," he added, remembering the folly of opposing the
irritable and unscrupulous Minister, and thinking that his words had,
perhaps, been already too warm--"unless, indeed, one felt within one's
breast the mind of a Richelieu."

While De Blenau spoke, the Cardinal's brow knitted into a frown. A flush
too came over his cheek; and untying the ribbon which served as a
fastening, he took off the velvet cap he generally wore, as if to give
himself air. He heard him, however, to the end, and then answered drily,
"You speak well, Monsieur de Blenau, and, I doubt not, feel what you
say. But am I to understand you, that you refuse to aid us at the
Council with your information and advice?"

"So far, your Eminence is right," replied the Count, who saw that the
storm was now about to break upon his head; "I must, indeed, decline the
honours which you offer with so bountiful a hand. But do not suppose
that I do so from unwillingness to yield you any information; for,
truly, I have none to give. I have never meddled with politics. I have
never turned my attention to State affairs; and therefore still less
could I yield you any advice. Your Eminence would be woefully
disappointed, when you expected to find a man well acquainted with the
arts of government, and deep read in the designs of foreign states, to
meet with one, whose best knowledge is to range a battalion, or to
pierce a boar; a soldier, and not a diplomatist; a hunter, and not a
statesman. And as to the government of Poitou, my Lord, its only good
would be the emolument, and already my revenues are far more than
adequate to my wants."

"You refuse my kindness, Sir," replied the Cardinal, with an air of deep
determined haughtiness, very different from the urbanity with which he
had at first received De Blenau; "I must now speak to you in another
tone. And let me warn you to beware of what you say; for be assured,
that I already possess sufficient information to confound you if you
should prevaricate."

"My Lord Cardinal," replied De Blenau, somewhat hastily, "I am not
accustomed to prevaricate. Ask any questions you please, and, so long as
my honour and my duty go with them, I will answer you."

"Then there are questions," said the Cardinal, "that you would think
against your duty to answer?"

"I said not so, your Eminence," replied De Blenau. "In the examination
I find I am to undergo, give my words their full meaning, if you please,
but no more than their meaning."

"Well then, Sir, answer me as a man of honour and a French noble," said
the Cardinal--"Are you not aware of a correspondence that has been, and
is now, carried on between Anne of Austria and Don Francisco de Mello,
Governor of the Low Countries?"

"I know not whom you mean, Sir, by Anne of Austria," replied De Blenau.
"If it be her Majesty, your Queen and mine, that you so designate, I
reply at once that I know of no such correspondence, nor do I believe
that it exists."

"Do you mean to say, Monsieur de Blenau," demanded the Cardinal, fixing
his keen sunken eyes upon the young Count with that basilisk glance for
which he was famous--"Do you mean to say, that you yourself have not
forwarded letters from the Queen to Madame de Chevreuse, and Don
Francisco de Mello, by a private channel?--Pause, Monsieur de Blenau,
before you answer, and be well assured that I am acquainted with every
particular of your conduct."

"Your Eminence is, no doubt, acquainted with much more intricate
subjects than any of my actions," replied the Count. "With regard to
Madame de Chevreuse, her Majesty has no need to conceal a correspondence
with her, which has been fully permitted and sanctioned, both by your
Eminence and the still higher authority of the King; and I may add, that
to my certain knowledge, letters have gone to that lady by your own
courier. On the other point, I have answered already; and have only to
say once more, that I know of no such correspondence, nor would I,
assuredly, lend myself to any such measures, which I should conceive to
be treasonable."

"I have always hitherto supposed you to be a man of honour," said the
Cardinal coolly; "but what must I conceive now, Monsieur le Comte, when
I tell you that I have those very letters in my possession?"

"You may conceive what you please, Sir," replied De Blenau, giving way
to his indignation; "but I will dare any man to lay before me a letter
from her Majesty to the person you mention, which has passed through the
hands of De Blenau."

The Cardinal did not reply, but opening an ebony cabinet, which stood on
his right hand, he took from one of the compartments a small bundle of
papers, from which he selected one, and laid it on the table before the
Count, who had hitherto looked on with no small wonder and expectation.
"Do you know that writing, Sir?" demanded the Cardinal, still keeping
his hand upon the paper, in such a manner as to allow only a word or two
to be visible.

De Blenau examined the line which the Cardinal suffered to appear, and
replied--"From what little I can see, I should imagine it to be the
hand-writing of her Majesty. But that does not show that I have any
thing to do with it."

"But there is that in it which does," answered Richelieu, folding down
a line or two of the letter, and pointing out to the Count a sentence
which said, "This will be conveyed to you by the Count de Blenau, who
you know never fails."

"Now, Sir!" continued the Cardinal, "once more let me advise you to give
me all you possess upon this subject. From a feeling of personal regard,
I have had too much patience with you already."

"All I can reply to your Eminence," answered the Count, not a little
embarrassed, "is, that no letter whatever has been conveyed by me,
knowingly, to the Governor of the Low Countries."

De Blenau's eyes naturally fixed on the paper, which still lay on the
table, and from which the Cardinal had by this time withdrawn his hand;
and feeling that both life and honour depended upon that document, he
resolved to ascertain its authenticity, of which he entertained some
doubt.

"Stop," said he hastily, "let me look at the superscription," and
before Richelieu could reply, he had raised it from the table and turned
to the address. One glance was enough to satisfy him, and he returned it
to the Cardinal with a cool and meaning smile, repeating the words--"To
Madame de Chevreuse."

At first the Cardinal had instinctively stretched out his hand to stop
De Blenau in his purpose, but he instantly recovered himself, nor did
his countenance betray the least change of feeling. "Well, Sir," replied
he, "you said that you would dare any one to lay before you a letter
from the Queen to the person I mentioned. Did I not mention Madame de
Chevreuse, and is not there the letter?"

"Your Eminence has mistaken me," replied De Blenau, bowing his head, and
smiling at the Minister's art; "I meant, Don Francisco de Mello. I had
answered what you said in regard to Madame de Chevreuse, before."

"I did mistake you then, Sir," said the Cardinal; "but it was from the
ambiguity of your own words. However, passing over your boldness, in
raising that letter without my permission; I will show you that I know
more of your proceedings than you suspect. I will tell you the very
terms of the message you sent to the Queen, after you were wounded in
the wood of Mantes, conveying to her, that you had not lost the packet
with which you were charged. Did not Seguin tell her, on your part, that
though the wound was in your side, your heart was not injured?"

"I dare say he did, my Lord," replied De Blenau, coolly; "and the event
has proved that he was quite right, for your Eminence must perceive that
I am quite recovered, which, of course, could not have been the case,
had any vital part been hurt. But I hope, your Eminence, that there is
no offence, in your eyes, either in having sent the Queen, my mistress,
an account of my health, or in having escaped the attack of assassins."

A slight flush passed over Richelieu's cheek. "You may chance to fall
into less scrupulous hands than even their's," replied he. "I am
certainly informed, Sir, that you, on the part of the Queen, have been
carrying on a treasonable intercourse with Spain--a country at war with
France, to whose crown you are a born subject and vassal; and I have to
tell you, that the punishment of such a crime is death. Yes, Sir, you
may knit your brow. But no consideration shall stay me from visiting,
with the full severity of the law, such as do so offend; and though the
information I want be but small, depend upon it, I shall not hesitate to
employ the most powerful means to wring it from you."

De Blenau had no difficulty in comprehending the nature of those means,
to which the Cardinal alluded; but his mind was made up to suffer the
worst. "My Lord Cardinal," replied he, "what your intentions are, I know
not; but be sure, that to whatever extremes you may go, you can wring
nothing from me but what you have already heard. I once more assure you,
that I know of no treasonable correspondence whatsoever; and firm in my
own innocence, I equally despise all attempts to bribe or to intimidate
me."

"Sir, you are insolent!" replied the Cardinal rising: "Use no such
language to me!--Are you not an insect I can sweep from my path in an
instant? Ho, a guard there without! We shall soon see, whether you know
aught of Philip of Spain."

Had the Cardinal's glance been directed towards De Blenau, he would have
seen, that at the name of Philip of Spain, a degree of paleness came
over his cheek; but another object had caught Richelieu's eye, and he
did not observe it. It was the entrance of the attendant whom he had
despatched with the death-warrants, which now drew his notice; and well
pleased to show De Blenau the dreadful means he so unscrupulously
employed to extort confession from those he suspected, he eagerly
demanded, "What news?"

"May it please your Eminence," said the attendant, "Caply died under the
torture. In truth, it was soon over with him, for he did not bear it
above ten minutes."

"But the confession, the confession!" exclaimed Richelieu. "Where is the
_procès verbal_?"

"He made no confession, Sir," replied the man. "He protested, to the
last, his innocence, and that he knew nothing."

"Pshaw!" said Richelieu; "they let him die too soon; they should have
given him wine to keep him up. Foolish idiot," he continued, as if
meditating over the death of his victim; "had he but told what he was
commanded, he would have saved himself from a death of horror. Such is
the meed of obstinacy."

"Such," thought De Blenau, "is, unhappily, often the reward of firmness
and integrity. But such a death is honourable in itself."

No one could better read in the face what was passing in the mind than
Richelieu, and it is probable that he easily saw in the countenance of
De Blenau, the feelings excited by what had just passed. He remembered
also the promise given by Chavigni; and if, when he called the Guard,
he had ever seriously proposed to arrest De Blenau, he abandoned his
intention for the moment. Not that the high tone of the young Count's
language was either unfelt, or forgiven, for Richelieu never pardoned;
but it was as easy to arrest De Blenau at St. Germain's as in Paris; and
the wily Minister calculated, that by giving him a little liberty, and
throwing him off his guard, he might be tempted to do those things which
would put him more completely in the power of the government, and give
the means of punishing him for his pride and obstinacy, as it was
internally termed by a man long unaccustomed to any opposition.

De Blenau was principally obnoxious to the Cardinal, as the confidant of
the Queen, and from being the chief of her adherents both by his rank,
wealth, and reputation. Anne of Austria having now become the only
apparent object which could cloud the sky of Richelieu's political
power, he had resolved either to destroy her, by driving her to some
criminal act, or so to entangle her in his snares, as to reduce her to
become a mere instrument in his hands and for his purposes. To arrest De
Blenau would put the Queen upon her guard; and therefore, the Minister,
without hesitation, resolved to dissemble his resentment, and allow the
Count to depart in peace; reserving for another time the vengeance he
had determined should overtake him at last. Nor was his dissembling of
that weak nature which those employ, who have all the will to deceive,
without the art of deceiving.

Richelieu walked rapidly up and down the closet for a moment, as if
striving to repress some strong emotion, then stopped, and turning to De
Blenau with some frankness of manner, "Monsieur le Comte," said he, "I
will own that you have heated me,--perhaps I have given way to it too
much. But you ought to be more careful of your words, Sir, and remember
that with men whose power you cannot resist, it is sometimes dangerous
even to be in the right, much more to make them feel it rudely.
However, it is all past, and I will now detain you no longer; trusting
to your word, that the information which I have received, is without
foundation. Let me only add, that you might have raised yourself this
day to a height which few men in France would not struggle to attain.
But that is past also, and may, perhaps, never return."

"I am most grateful, believe me," replied De Blenau, "for all the
favours your Eminence intended me; and I have no doubt, that you will
soon find some other person, on whom to bestow them, much more worthy of
them than myself."

Richelieu bowed low, and fixed his eyes upon the Count without reply--a
signal that the audience was over, which was not lost upon De Blenau,
who very gladly took his leave of the Minister, hoping most devoutly
never to see his face again. The ambiguity of his last sentence,
however, had not escaped the Cardinal.

"So, Monsieur de Blenau!" said he, as soon as the Count had left him,
"you can make speeches with a double meaning also! Can you so? You may
rue it though, for I will find means to bend your proud spirit, or to
break it; and that before three days be over. Is every thing prepared
for my passage to Chantilly?" he continued, turning to the attendant.

"All is prepared, please your Eminence," replied the man; "and as I
passed, I saw Monsieur de Chavigni getting into his chaise to set out."

"We will let him be an hour or two in advance," said the Cardinal. "Send
in the Marquis de Goumont;" and he again applied himself to other
affairs.



CHAPTER XII.

     "An entire new comedy, with new scenery, dresses, and decorations."


The little village of Mesnil St. Loup, all insignificant as it is, was
at the time of my tale a place of even less consequence than it appears
now-a-days, when nine people out of ten have scarcely ever heard of its
existence.

It was, nevertheless, a pretty-looking place; and had its little
_auberge_, on the same scale and in the same style as the village to
which it belonged,--small, neat, and picturesque, with its high pole
before the door, crowned with a gay garland of flowers, which served
both for sign and inscription to the inn; being fully as comprehensible
an intimation to the peasantry of the day, that "Bon vin et bonne
chère" were to be obtained within, as the most artful flourish of a
modern sign-painter.

True it is, that the little cabaret of Mesnil St. Loup was seldom
troubled with the presence of a traveller; but there the country people
would congregate after the labours of the day, and enjoy their simple
sports with a relish that luxury knows not. The high road from Paris to
Troyes passed quite in another direction; and a stranger in Mesnil St.
Loup was a far greater stranger than he could possibly have been
anywhere else, except perhaps in newly discovered America. For there was
nothing to excite either interest or curiosity; except it were the
little church, which had seen many a century pass over its primitive
walls, remaining still unaltered, while five or six old trees, which had
been its companions for time out of mind, began to show strong signs of
decay, in their rifted bark and falling branches, but still formed a
picturesque group, with a great stone cross and fountain underneath
them, and a seat for the weary traveller to rest himself in their shade.

Thus, Mesnil St. Loup was little known to strangers, for its simplicity
had no attractions for the many. Nevertheless, on one fine evening,
somewhere about the beginning of September, the phenomenon of a new face
showed itself at Mesnil St. Loup. The personage to whom it appertained,
was a horseman of small mean appearance, who, having passed by the
church, rode through the village to the auberge, and having raised his
eyes to the garland over the door, he divined from it, that he himself
would find there good Champagne wine, and his horse would meet with
entertainment equally adapted to his peculiar taste. Thereupon, the
stranger alighted and entered the place of public reception, without
making any of that bustle about himself, which the landlord seemed well
inclined to do for him; but on the contrary sat himself down in the most
shady corner, ordered his bottle of wine, and inquired what means the
house afforded of satisfying his hunger, in a low quiet tone of voice,
which reached no farther than the person he addressed.

"As for wine," the host replied, "Monsieur should have such wine that
the first merchant of Epernay might prick his ears at it; and in regard
to eatables, what could be better than stewed eels, out of the river
hard by, and a _civet de lievre_?--Monsieur need not be afraid," he
added; "it was a real hare he had snared that morning himself, in the
forest under the hill. Some dishonourable innkeepers," he
observed--"innkeepers unworthy of the name, would dress up cats and
rats, and such animals, in the form of hares and rabbits; even as the
Devil had been known to assume the appearance of an Angel of light; but
he scorned such practices, and could not only show his hare's skin, but
his hare in the skin. Farther, he would give Monsieur an ortolan in a
vine leaf, and a dish of stewed sorrel."

The stranger underwent the innkeeper's oration with most exemplary
patience, signified his approbation of the proposed dinner, without
attacking the hare's reputation; and when at length it was placed before
him, he ate his meal and drank his wine, in profound silence, without a
word of praise or blame to either one or the other. The landlord, with
all his sturdy loquacity, failed in more than one attempt to draw him
into conversation; and the hostess, though none of the oldest or
ugliest, could scarce win a syllable from his lips, even by asking if he
were pleased with his fare. The taciturn stranger merely bowed his head,
and seemed little inclined to exert his oratorical powers, more than by
the simple demand of what he wanted; so that both mine host and hostess
gave him up in despair--the one concluding that he was "an odd one," and
the other declaring that he was as stupid as he was ugly.

This lasted some time, till one villager after another, having exhausted
every excuse for staying to hear whether the stranger would open his
lips, dropped away in his turn, and left the apartment vacant. It was
then, and not till then, that mine host was somewhat surprised, by
hearing the silent traveller pronounce in a most audible and imperative
manner, "Gaultier, come here." The first cause of astonishment was to
hear him speak at all; and the next to find his own proper name of
Gaultier so familiar to the stranger, forgetting that it had been
vociferated at least one hundred times that night in his presence.
However, Gaultier obeyed the summons with all speed, and approaching the
stranger with a low reverence, begged to know his good will and
pleasure.

"Your wine is good, Gaultier," said the stranger, raising his clear grey
eyes to the rosy round of Gaultier's physiognomy. Even an innkeeper is
susceptible of flattery; and Gaultier bent his head down towards the
ground, as if he were going to do kou-tou.

"Gaultier, bring me another bottle," said the stranger. This phrase was
better than the former; that sort of substantial flattery that goes
straight to an innkeeper's heart. Truly, it is a pity that innkeepers
are such selfish beings. And yet it is natural too;--so rapidly does
mankind pass by them, that theirs can be, at best, but a stage-coach
sort of affection for their fellow-creatures--The coachman shuts the
door--Drive on!--and it is all over. Thus, my dear Sir, the gaieties,
the care, and the bustle in which you and I live, render our hearts but
as an inn, where many a traveller stays for an hour, pays his score, and
is forgotten.--I am resolved to let mine upon lease.----

The bottle of wine was not long in making its appearance; and as
Gaultier set it on the table before the stranger, he asked if he could
serve him farther.

"Can you show me the way to the old Chateau of St. Loup?" demanded the
stranger.

"Surely, I can, Sir," replied the innkeeper; "that is to say, as far as
knowing where it is. But I hope Monsieur does not mean to-night."

"Indeed do I," answered the stranger; "and pray why not? The night is
the same as the day to an honest man."

"No doubt, no doubt!" exclaimed Gaultier, with the greatest doubt in the
world in his own mind.--"No doubt! But, Holy Virgin! Jesu preserve
us!"--and he signed the cross most devoutly--"we all know that there are
spirits, and demons, and astrologers, and the Devil, and all those sort
of things; and I would not go through the Grove where old Père Le Rouge,
the sorcerer, was burnt alive, not to be prime minister, or the Cardinal
de Richelieu, or any other great man,--that is to say, after nightfall.
In the day I would go anywhere, or do any thing,--I am no coward,
Sir,--I dare do any thing. My father served in the blessed League
against the cursed Huguenots--so I am no coward;--but bless you, Sir, I
will tell you how it happened, and then you will see--"

"I know all about it," replied the stranger, in a voice that made the
innkeeper start, and look over his left shoulder; "I know all about it;
but sit down and drink with me, to keep your spirits up, for you must
show me the way this very night. Père Le Rouge was a dear friend of
mine, and before he was burnt for a sorcerer, we had made a solemn
compact to meet once every ten years. Now, if you remember aright, it
is just ten years, this very day, since he was executed; and there is no
bond in Hell fast enough to hold him from meeting me to-night at the old
chateau. So sit you down and drink!"--And he poured out a full cup of
wine for the innkeeper, who looked aghast at the portentous compact
between the stranger and Père Le Rouge. However, whether it was that
Gaultier was too much afraid to refuse, or had too much _esprit de
corps_ not to drink with any one who would drink with him, can hardly be
determined now; but so it was, that sitting down, according to the
stranger's desire, he poured the whole goblet of wine over his throat at
one draught, and, as he afterwards averred, could not help thinking that
the stranger must have enchanted the liquor, for no sooner had he
swallowed it, than all his fears of Père Le Rouge began to die away,
like morning dreams. However, when the goblet was drained, Gaultier
began more justly to estimate the danger of drinking with a sorcerer;
and that the stranger was such, a Champenois _aubergiste_ of 1642 could
never be supposed to doubt, after the diabolical compact so
unscrupulously confessed. Under this impression, he continued rolling
his empty cup about upon the table, revolving at the same time his own
critical situation, and endeavouring to determine what might be his duty
to his King and Country under such perilous circumstances. Rolling the
cup to the right--he resolved instantly to denounce this malignant
enchanter to the proper authorities, and have him forthwith burnt alive,
and sent to join Père Le Rouge in the other world, by virtue of the
humane and charitable laws in that case especially made and provided.
Then rolling the cup to the other side--his eye glanced towards the
stranger's bottle, and resting upon the vacuum which their united thirst
had therein occasioned, his heart over-flowed with the milk of human
kindness, and he pitied from his soul that perverted taste which could
lead any human being from good liquor, comfortable lodging, and the
society of an innkeeper, to a dark wood and a ruined castle, an old
roasted sorcerer, and the Devil perhaps into the bargain.

"Would you choose another bottle, Sir?" demanded Gaultier; and as his
companion nodded his head in token of assent, was about to proceed on
this errand--with the laudable intention also of sharing all his newly
arisen doubts and fears with his gentle help-mate, who, for her part,
was busily engaged in the soft domestic duties of scolding the
stable-boy and boxing the maid's ears. But the stranger stopped him,
perhaps divining, and not very much approving, the aforesaid
communication. He exclaimed, "_La Bourgeoise!_" in a tone of voice which
overpowered all other noises: the abuse of the dame herself--the tears
of the maid--the exculpation of the stable-boy--the cackle of the cocks
and hens, which were on a visit in the parlour--and the barking of a
prick-eared cur included. The fresh bottle soon stood upon the table;
and while the hostess returned to her former tender avocations, the
stranger, whose clear grey eye seemed reading deeply into Gaultier's
heart, continued to drink from the scanty remains of his own bottle,
leaving mine host to fill from that which was hitherto uncontaminated by
any other touch than his own. This Gaultier did not fail to do, till
such time as the last rays of the sun, which had continued to linger
fondly amidst a flight of light feathery clouds overhead, had entirely
left the sky, and all was grey.

At that moment the stranger drew forth his purse, let it fall upon the
table with a heavy sort of clinking sound, showing that the louis-d'ors
within had hardly room to jostle against each other. It was a sound of
comfortable plenty, which had something in it irresistibly attractive to
the ears of Gaultier; and as he stood watching while the stranger
insinuated his finger and thumb into the little leathern bag, drawing
forth first one broad piece and then another, so splendid did the
stranger's traffic with the Devil begin to appear in the eyes of the
innkeeper, that he almost began to wish that he had been brought up a
sorcerer also.

The stranger quietly pushed the two pieces of gold across the table till
they got within the innkeeper's sphere of attraction, when they became
suddenly hurried towards him, with irresistible velocity, and were
plunged into the abyss of a large pocket on his left side, close upon
his heart.

The stranger looked on with philosophic composure, as if considering
some natural phenomenon, till such time as the operation was complete.
"Now, Gaultier," cried he, "put on your beaver, and lead to the
beginning of the Grove. I will find my way through it alone. But hark
ye, say no word to your wife."

Gaultier was all complaisance, and having placed his hat on his head, he
opened the door of the auberge, and brought forth the stranger's horse,
fancying that what with a bottle of wine, and two pieces of gold, he
could meet Beelzebub himself, or any other of those gentlemen of the
lower house, with whom the Curé used to frighten the little boys and
girls when they went to their first communion. However, the stranger had
scarcely passed the horse's bridle over his arm, and led him a step or
two on the way, when the cool air and reflection made the innkeeper
begin to think differently of the Devil, and be more inclined to keep at
a respectful distance from so grave and antique a gentleman. A few steps
more made him as frightened as ever; and before they had got to the end
of the village, Gaultier fell hard to work, crossing himself most
laboriously, and trembling every time he remembered that he was
conducting one sorcerer to meet another, long dead and delivered over in
form, with fire and fagot, into the hands of Satan.

It is probable that he would have run, but the stranger was close
behind, and cut off his retreat.

At about a mile and a half from the little village of Mesnil, stood the
old Chateau of St. Loup, situated upon an abrupt eminence, commanding a
view of almost all the country round. The valley at its foot, and the
slope of the hill up to its very walls, were covered with thick wood,
through which passed the narrow deserted road from Mesnil, winding in
and out with a thousand turns and divarications, and twice completely
encircling the hill itself, before it reached the castle gate, which
once, in the hospitable pride of former days, had rested constantly open
for the reception equally of the friend and the stranger, but which now
only gave entrance to the winds and tempests--rude guests, that
contributed, even more than Time himself, the great destroyer, to bring
ruin and desolation on the deserted mansion. Hard by, in a little
cemetery, attached to the Chapel, lay many of the gay hearts that had
once beat there, now quiet in the still cold earth. There, mouldering
like the walls that overshadowed them, were the last sons of the brave
and noble race of Mesnil, without one scion left to dwell in the halls
of their forefathers, or to grieve over the desolation of their
heritage. There, too, lay the vassals, bowed to the will of a sterner
Lord, and held in the surer bondage of the tomb; and yet perhaps, in
life, they had passed on, happier than their chief, without his proud
anxiety and splendid cares; and now, in death, his bed was surely made
as low, and the equal wind that whispered over the grave of the one,
offered no greater flattery to the monument of the other. But, beyond
all these, and removed without the precincts of consecrated ground, was
a heap of shards and flints--the Sorcerer's grave! Above it, some pious
hand had raised the symbol of salvation--a deed of charity, truly, in
those days, when eternal mercy was farmed by the Church, like a turnpike
on the high road, and none could pass but such as paid toll. But,
however, there it rose,--a tall white cross, standing, as that symbol
should always stand, high above every surrounding object, and full in
view of all who sought it.

As the _aubergiste_ and his companion climbed the hill, which, leading
from the village of Mesnil, commanded a full prospect of the rich woody
valley below, and overhung that spot which, since the tragedy of poor
Père Le Rouge, had acquired the name of the Sorcerer's Grove, it was
this tall white cross that first caught their attention. It stood upon
the opposite eminence, distinctly marked on the back-ground of the
evening sky, catching every ray of light that remained, while behind it,
pile upon pile, lay the thick clouds of a coming storm.

"There, Monsieur," cried Gaultier, "there is the cross upon the
Sorcerer's grave!" And the fear which agitated him while he spoke, made
the stranger's lip curl into a smile of bitter contempt. But as they
turned the side of the hill, which had hitherto concealed the castle
itself from their sight, the teeth of Gaultier actually chattered in his
head, when he beheld a bright light shining from several windows of the
deserted building.

"There!" exclaimed the stranger, "there, you see how well Père Le Rouge
keeps his appointment. I am waited for, and want you no farther. I can
now find my way alone. I would not expose you, my friend, to the dangers
of that Grove."

The innkeeper's heart melted at the stranger's words, and he was filled
with compassionate zeal upon the occasion. "Pray don't go," cried
Gaultier, almost blubbering betwixt fear and tender-heartedness; "pray
don't go! Have pity upon your precious soul! You'll go to the Devil,
indeed you will!--or at least to purgatory for a hundred thousand years,
and be burnt up like an overdone rabbit. You are committing murder, and
conspiracy, and treason,"--the stranger started, but Gaultier went
on--"and heresy, and pleurisy, and sorcery, and you will go to the
Devil, indeed you will--and then you'll remember what I told you."

"What is fated, is fated!" replied the stranger, in a solemn voice,
though Gaultier's speech had produced that sort of tremulous tone,
excited by an inclination either to laugh or to cry. "I have promised,
and I must go. But let me warn you," he continued, sternly, "never to
mention one word of what has passed to-night, if you would live till I
come again. For if you reveal one word, even to your wife, the ninth
night after you have done so, Père Le Rouge will stand on one side of
your bed, and I on the other, and Satan at your feet, and we will carry
you away body and soul, so that you shall never be heard of again."

When he had concluded, the stranger waited for no reply, but sprang upon
his horse, and galloped down into the wood.

In the mean time, the landlord climbed to a point of the hill, from
whence he could see both his own village, and the ruins of the castle.
There, the sight of the church steeple gave him courage, and he paused
to examine the extraordinary light which proceeded from the ruin. In a
few minutes, he saw several figures flit across the windows, and cast a
momentary obscurity over the red glare which was streaming forth from
them upon the darkness of the night. "There they are!" cried he, "Père
Le Rouge, and his pot companion!--and surely the Devil must be with
them, for I see more than two, and one of them has certainly a
tail--Lord have mercy upon us!"

As he spoke, a vivid flash of lightning burst from the clouds, followed
instantly by a tremendous peal of thunder. The terrified innkeeper
startled at the sound, and more than ever convinced that man's enemy was
on earth, took to his heels, nor ceased running till he reached his own
door, and met his better angel of a wife, who boxed his ears for his
absence, and vowed he had been gallanting.

                        END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.

                                LONDON:
                     PRINTED BY S. AND R. BENTLEY,
                      Dorset Street, Fleet Street.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

shas ent to inquire=> has sent to inquire {pg 115}

Frontrailles=> Fontrailles {pg 163}

Gualtier=> Gaultier {pg 283}





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Richelieu, v. 1/3 - A Tale of France" ***

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