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Title: Cinq Mars — Complete
Author: Vigny, Alfred de
Language: English
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CINQ MARS

By Alfred De Vigny


With a Prefaces by CHARLES DE MAZADE, and GASTON BOISSIER of the French
Academy.



ALFRED DE VIGNY

The reputation of Alfred de Vigny has endured extraordinary vicissitudes
in France. First he was lauded as the precursor of French romantic
poetry and stately prose; then he sank in semi-oblivion, became the
curiosity of criticism, died in retirement, and was neglected for a long
time, until the last ten years or so produced a marked revolution
of taste in France. The supremacy of Victor Hugo has been, if not
questioned, at least mitigated; other poets have recovered from their
obscurity. Lamartine shines now like a lamp relighted; and the pure,
brilliant, and profoundly original genius of Alfred de Vigny now takes,
for the first time, its proper place as one of the main illuminating
forces of the nineteenth century.

It was not until one hundred years after this poet’s birth that it
became clearly recognized that he is one of the most important of
all the great writers of France, and he is distinguished not only in
fiction, but also in poetry and the drama. He is a follower of Andre
Chenier, Lamartine, and Victor Hugo, a lyric sun, a philosophic poet,
later, perhaps in consequence of the Revolution of 1830, becoming a
“Symbolist.” He has been held to occupy a middle ground between De
Musset and Chenier, but he has also something suggestive of Madame de
Stael, and, artistically, he has much in common with Chateaubriand,
though he is more coldly impersonal and probably much more sincere in
his philosophy. If Sainte-Beuve, however, calls the poet in his Nouveaux
Lundis a “beautiful angel, who has been drinking vinegar,” then the
modern reader needs a strong caution against malice and raillery, if not
jealousy and perfidy, although the article on De Vigny abounds otherwise
with excessive critical cleverness.

At times, indeed, under the cruel deceptions of love, he seemed to lose
faith in his idealism; his pessimism, nevertheless, always remained
noble, restrained, sympathetic, manifesting itself not in appeals for
condolence, but in pitying care for all who were near and dear to him.
Yet his lofty prose and poetry, interpenetrated with the stern despair
of pessimistic idealism, will always be unintelligible to the many. As a
poet, De Vigny appeals to the chosen few alone. In his dramas his genius
is more emancipated from himself, in his novels most of all. It is by
these that he is most widely known, and by these that he exercised the
greatest influence on the literary life of his generation.

 Alfred-Victor, Count de Vigny, was born in Loches, Touraine, March 27,
1797. His father was an army officer, wounded in the Seven Years’ War.
Alfred, after having been well educated, also selected a military career
and received a commission in the “Mousquetaires Rouges,” in 1814, when
barely seventeen. He served until 1827, “twelve long years of peace,”
 then resigned. Already in 1822 appeared a volume of ‘Poemes’ which was
hardly noticed, although containing poetry since become important to
the evolution of French verse: ‘La Neige, le Coy, le Deluge, Elva, la
Frigate’, etc., again collected in ‘Poemes antiques et modernes’ (1826).
Other poems were published after his death in ‘Les Destinies’ (1864).

Under the influence of Walter Scott, he wrote a historical romance in
1826, ‘Cinq-Mars, ou une Conjuration sans Louis XIII’. It met with
the most brilliant and decided success and was crowned by the Academy.
Cinq-Mars will always be remembered as the earliest romantic novel
in France and the greatest and most dramatic picture of Richelieu now
extant. De Vigny was a convinced Anglophile, well acquainted with the
writings of Shakespeare and Milton, Byron, Wordsworth, Shelley, Matthew
Arnold, and Leopardi. He also married an English lady in 1825--Lydia
Bunbury.

Other prose works are ‘Stello’ (1832), in the manner of Sterne and
Diderot, and ‘Servitude et Grandeur militaire’ (1835), the language
of which is as caustic as that of Merimee. As a dramatist, De Vigny
produced a translation of ‘Othello--Le More de Venice’ (1829); also ‘La
Marechale d’Ancre’ (1832); both met with moderate success only. But a
decided “hit” was ‘Chatterton’ (1835), an adaption from his prose-work
‘Stello, ou les Diables bleus’; it at once established his reputation
on the stage; the applause was most prodigious, and in the annals of
the French theatre can only be compared with that of ‘Le Cid’. It was a
great victory for the Romantic School, and the type of Chatterton, the
slighted poet, “the marvellous boy, the sleepless soul that perished in
his pride,” became contagious as erstwhile did the type of Werther.

For twenty years before his death Alfred de Vigny wrote nothing. He
lived in retirement, almost a recluse, in La Charente, rarely visiting
Paris. Admitted into L’Academie Francaise in 1845, he describes in his
‘Journal d’un Poete’ his academic visits and the reception held out to
him by the members of L’Institut. This work appeared posthumously in
1867.

He died in Paris, September 17, 1863.

                  CHARLES DE MAZADE
                de l’Academie Francaise.



PREFACE

Considering Alfred de Vigny first as a writer, it is evident that he
wished the public to regard him as different from the other romanticists
of his day; in fact, in many respects, his method presents a striking
contrast to theirs. To their brilliant facility, their prodigious
abundance, and the dazzling luxury of color in their pictures of life
he opposes a style always simple, pure, clear, with delicacy of touch,
careful drawing of character, correct locution, and absolute chastity.
Yet, even though he had this marked regard for purity in literary style,
no writer had more dislike of mere pedantry. His high ideal in literary
art and his self-respect inspired him with an invincible repugnance
toward the artificialities of style of that period, which the
romanticists--above all, Chateaubriand, their master--had so much
abused.

Every one knows of the singular declaration made by Chateaubriand to
Joubert, while relating the details of a nocturnal voyage: “The moon
shone upon me in a slender crescent, and that prevented me from writing
an untruth, for I feel sure that had not the moon been there I should
have said in my letter that it was shining, and then you would have
convicted me of an error in my almanac!”

This habit of sacrificing truth and exactitude of impression, for the
sake of producing a harmonious phrase or a picturesque suggestion,
disgusted Alfred de Vigny. “The worst thing about writers is that they
care very little whether what they write is true, so long as they only
write,” we read on one page of his Journal. He adds, “They should seek
words only in their own consciences.” On another page he says: “The most
serious lack in literary work is sincerity. Perceiving clearly that the
combination of technical labor and research for effective expression, in
producing literary work, often leads us to a paradox, I have resolved to
sacrifice all to conviction and truth, so that this precious element of
sincerity, complete and profound, shall dominate my books and give to
them the sacred character which the divine presence of truth always
gives.”

Besides sincerity, De Vigny possessed, in a high degree, a gift which
was not less rare in that age--good taste. He had taste in the art of
writing, a fine literary tact, a sense of proportion, a perception of
delicate shades of expression, an instinct that told him what to say and
what to suppress, to insinuate, or to be left to the understanding. Even
in his innovations in form, in his boldness of style, he showed a
rare discretion; never did he do violence to the genius of the French
language, and one may apply to him without reserve the eulogy that
Quintilian pronounced upon Horace: ‘Verbis felicissime audax’.

He cherished also a fixed principle that art implied selection. He was
neither idealist nor realist, in the exclusive and opposing sense in
which we understand these terms; he recommended a scrupulous observance
of nature, and that every writer should draw as close to it as possible,
but only in order to interpret it, to reveal it with a true feeling,
yet without a too intimate analysis, and that no one should attempt to
portray it exactly or servilely copy it. “Of what use is art,” he says,
“if it is only a reduplication of existence? We see around us only too
much of the sadness and disenchantment of reality.” The three novels
that compose the volume ‘Servitude et Grandeur militaire’ are, in this
respect, models of romantic composition that never will be surpassed,
bearing witness to the truth of the formula followed by De Vigny in all
his literary work: “Art is the chosen truth.”

If, as a versifier, Alfred de Vigny does not equal the great poets of
his time, if they are his superiors in distinction and brilliancy, in
richness of vocabulary, freedom of movement, and variety of rhythm, the
cause is to be ascribed less to any lack of poetic genius than to the
nature of his inspiration, even to the laws of poesy, and to the secret
and irreducible antinomy that exists between art and thought. When,
for example, Theophile Gautier reproached him with being too little
impressed with the exigencies of rhyme, his criticism was not well
grounded, for richness of rhyme, though indispensable in works of
descriptive imagination, has no ‘raison d’etre’ in poems dominated by
sentiment and thought. But, having said that, we must recognize in his
poetry an element, serious, strong, and impressive, characteristic
of itself alone, and admire, in the strophes of ‘Mozse’, in the
imprecations of ‘Samson’, and in the ‘Destinees’, the majestic
simplicity of the most beautiful Hebraic verse.

Moreover, the true originality of De Vigny does not lie in the manner
of composition; it was primarily in the role of precursor that he played
his part on the stage of literature. Let us imagine ourselves at the
period about the beginning of the year 1822. Of the three poets who,
in making their literary debuts, had just published the ‘Meditations,
Poemes antiques et modernes, and Odes’, only one had, at that time, the
instinct of renewal in the spirit of French poesy, and a sense of
the manner in which this must be accomplished; and that one was not
Lamartine, and certainly it was not Victor Hugo.

Sainte-Beuve has said, with authority, that in Lamartine there is
something suggestive of Millevoye, of Voltaire (he of the charming
epistles), and of Fontanes; and Victor Hugo wrote with very little
variation from the technical form of his predecessors. “But with Alfred
de Vigny,” he says, “we seek in vain for a resemblance to any French
poetry preceding his work. For example, where can we find anything
resembling ‘Moise, Eloa, Doloeida’? Where did he find his inspiration
for style and composition in these poems? If the poets of the Pleiades
of the Restoration seem to have found their inspiration within
themselves, showing no trace of connection with the literature of the
past, thus throwing into confusion old habits of taste and of routine,
certain it is that among them Alfred de Vigny should be ranked first.”

Even in the collection that bears the date of 1822, some years before
the future author of Legende des Siecles had taken up romanticism,
Alfred de Vigny had already conceived the idea of setting forth, in a
series of little epics, the migrations of the human soul throughout the
ages. “One feels,” said he in his Preface, “a keen intellectual delight
in transporting one’s self, by mere force of thought, to a period of
antiquity; it resembles the pleasure an old man feels in recalling first
his early youth, and then the whole course of his life. In the age of
simplicity, poetry was devoted entirely to the beauties of the physical
forms of nature and of man; each step in advance that it has made since
then toward our own day of civilization and of sadness, seems to have
blended it more and more with our arts, and even with the sufferings of
our souls. At present, with all the serious solemnity of Religion and of
Destiny, it lends to them their chief beauty. Never discouraged, Poetry
has followed Man in his long journey through the ages, like a sweet and
beautiful companion. I have attempted, in our language, to show some of
her beauties, in following her progress toward the present day.”

The arrangement of the poems announced in this Preface is tripartite,
like that of the ‘Legende des Siecles: Poemes antiques, poemes
judaiques, poemes modernes.--Livre mystique, livre antique, livre
moderne’. But the name of precursor would be a vain title if all that
were necessary to merit it was the fact that one had been the first to
perceive a new path to literary glory, to salute it from a distance, yet
never attempt to make a nearer approach.

In one direction at least, Alfred de Vigny was a true innovator, in the
broadest and most meritorious sense of the word: he was the creator of
philosophic poetry in France. Until Jocelyn appeared, in 1836, the form
of poetic expression was confined chiefly to the ode, the ballad, and
the elegy; and no poet, with the exception of the author of ‘Moise’ and
‘Eloa’, ever dreamed that abstract ideas and themes dealing with the
moralities could be expressed in the melody of verse.

To this priority, of which he knew the full value, Alfred de Vigny laid
insistent claim. “The only merit,” he says in one of his prefaces, “that
any one ever has disputed with me in this sort of composition is the
honor of having promulgated in France all works of the kind in which
philosophic thought is presented in either epic or dramatic form.”

But it was not alone priority in the sense of time that gave him
right of way over his contemporaries; he was the most distinguished
representative of poetic philosophy of his generation. If the phrases of
Lamartine seem richer, if his flight is more majestic, De Vigny’s range
is surer and more powerful. While the philosophy of the creator of
‘Les Harmonies’ is uncertain and inconsistent, that of the poet of ‘Les
Destinees’ is strong and substantial, for the reason that the former
inspires more sentiment than ideas, while the latter, soaring far
above the narrow sphere of personal emotion, writes of everything that
occupies the intellect of man.

Thus, by his vigor and breadth of thought, by his profound understanding
of life, by the intensity of his dreams, Alfred de Vigny is superior to
Victor Hugo, whose genius was quite different, in his power to portray
picturesque scenes, in his remarkable fecundity of imagination, and in
his sovereign mastery of technique.

But nowhere in De Vigny’s work is that superiority of poetic thought so
clearly shown as in those productions wherein the point of departure was
farthest from the domain of intellect, and better than any other has he
understood that truth proclaimed by Hegel: “The passions of the soul and
the affections of the heart are matter for poetic expression only in so
far as they are general, solid, and eternal.”

De Vigny was also the only one among our poets that had a lofty ideal
of woman and of love. And in order to convince one’s self of this it
is sufficient to reread successively the four great love-poems of that
period: ‘Le Lac, La Tristesse d’Olympio, Le Souvenir, and La Colere de
Samson’.

Lamartine’s conception of love was a sort of mild ecstasy, the sacred
rapture in which the senses play no part, and noble emotions that cause
neither trouble nor remorse. He ever regarded love as a kind of sublime
and passionate religion, of which ‘Le Lac’ was the most beautiful hymn,
but in which the image of woman is so vague that she almost seems to be
absent.

On the other hand, what is ‘La Tristesse d’Olympio’ if not an admirable
but common poetic rapture, a magnificent summary of the sufferings of
the heart--a bit of lyric writing equal to the most beautiful canzoni of
the Italian masters, but wherein we find no idea of love, because all
is artificial and studied; no cry from the soul is heard,--no trace of
passion appears.

After another fashion the same criticism applies to Le Souvenir; it was
written under a stress of emotion resulting from too recent events;
and the imagination of the author, subservient to a memory relentlessly
faithful, as is often the case with those to whom passion is the chief
principle of inspiration, was far from fulfilling the duties of his high
vocation, which is to purify the passions of the poet from individual
and accidental characteristics in order to leave unhampered whatever his
work may contain that is powerful and imperishable.

Alfred de Vigny alone, of the poets of his day, in his ‘Colere de
Samson’, has risen to a just appreciation of woman and of love; his
ideal is grand and tragic, it is true, and reminds one of that gloomy
passage in Ecclesiastes which says: “Woman is more bitter than death,
and her arms are like chains.”

It is by this character of universality, of which all his writings show
striking evidence, that Alfred de Vigny is assured of immortality. A
heedless generation neglected him because it preferred to seek subjects
in strong contrast to life of its own time. But that which was not
appreciated by his contemporaries will be welcomed by posterity. And
when, in French literature, there shall remain of true romanticism only
a slight trace and the memory of a few great names, the author of the
‘Destinees’ will still find an echo in all hearts.

No writer, no matter how gifted, immortalizes himself unless he has
crystallized into expressive and original phrase the eternal sentiments
and yearnings of the human heart. “A man does not deserve the name of
poet unless he can express personal feeling and emotion, and only that
man is worthy to be called a poet who knows how to assimilate the varied
emotions of mankind.” If this fine phrase of Goethe’s is true, if true
poetry is only that which implies a mastery of spiritual things as well
as of human emotion, Alfred de Vigny is assuredly one of our greatest
poets, for none so well as he has realized a complete vision of the
universe, no one has brought before the world with more boldness the
problem of the soul and that of humanity. Under the title of poet he
belongs not only to our national literature, but occupies a distinctive
place in the world of intellect, with Lucretius, Dante, and Goethe,
among those inspired beings who transmit throughout succeeding centuries
the light of reason and the traditions of the loftiest poetic thought.

Alfred de Vigny was elected to a chair in the French Academy in 1846 and
died at Paris, September 17, 1863.

                  GASTON BOISSIER
          Secretaire Perpetuel de l’Academie Francaise.



TRUTH IN ART

The study of social progress is to-day not less needed in literature
than is the analysis of the human heart. We live in an age of universal
investigation, and of exploration of the sources of all movements.
France, for example, loves at the same time history and the drama,
because the one explores the vast destinies of humanity, and the other
the individual lot of man. These embrace the whole of life. But it is
the province of religion, of philosophy, of pure poetry only, to go
beyond life, beyond time, into eternity.

Of late years (perhaps as a result of our political changes) art has
borrowed from history more than ever. All of us have our eyes fixed on
our chronicles, as though, having reached manhood while going on toward
greater things, we had stopped a moment to cast up the account of our
youth and its errors. We have had to double the interest by adding to it
recollection.

As France has carried farther than other nations this love of facts, and
as I had chosen a recent and well-remembered epoch, it seemed to me that
I ought not to imitate those foreigners who in their pictures barely
show in the horizon the men who dominate their history. I placed ours in
the foreground of the scene; I made them leading actors in this tragedy,
wherever I endeavored to represent the three kinds of ambition by which
we are influenced, and with them the beauty of self-sacrifice to a noble
ideal. A treatise on the fall of the feudal system; on the position,
at home and abroad, of France in the seventeenth century; on foreign
alliances; on the justice of parliaments or of secret commissions, or
on accusations of sorcery, would not perhaps have been read. But the
romance was read.

I do not mean to defend this last form of historical composition, being
convinced that the real greatness of a work lies in the substance of
the author’s ideas and sentiments, and not in the literary form in which
they are dressed. The choice of a certain epoch necessitates a certain
treatment--to another epoch it would be unsuitable; these are mere
secrets of the workshop of thought which there is no need of disclosing.
What is the use of theorizing as to wherein lies the charm that moves
us? We hear the tones of the harp, but its graceful form conceals from
us its frame of iron. Nevertheless, since I have been convinced
that this book possesses vitality, I can not help throwing out some
reflections on the liberty which the imagination should employ in
weaving into its tapestry all the leading figures of an age, and, to
give more consistency to their acts, in making the reality of fact
give way to the idea which each of them should represent in the eyes of
posterity; in short, on the difference which I find between Truth in art
and the True in fact.

Just as we descend into our consciences to judge of actions which our
minds can not weigh, can we not also search in ourselves for the feeling
which gives birth to forms of thought, always vague and cloudy? We shall
find in our troubled hearts, where discord reigns, two needs which seem
at variance, but which merge, as I think, in a common source--the love
of the true, and the love of the fabulous.

On the day when man told the story of his life to man, history was born.
Of what use is the memory of facts, if not to serve as an example
of good or of evil? But the examples which the slow train of events
presents to us are scattered and incomplete. They lack always a tangible
and visible coherence leading straight on to a moral conclusion. The
acts of the human race on the world’s stage have doubtless a coherent
unity, but the meaning of the vast tragedy enacted will be visible only
to the eye of God, until the end, which will reveal it perhaps to the
last man. All systems of philosophy have sought in vain to explain it,
ceaselessly rolling up their rock, which, never reaching the top, falls
back upon them--each raising its frail structure on the ruins of the
others, only to see it fall in its turn.

I think, then, that man, after having satisfied his first longing for
facts, wanted something fuller--some grouping, some adaptation to his
capacity and experience, of the links of this vast chain of events
which his sight could not take in. Thus he hoped to find in the historic
recital examples which might support the moral truths of which he was
conscious. Few single careers could satisfy this longing, being only
incomplete parts of the elusive whole of the history of the world; one
was a quarter, as it were, the other a half of the proof; imagination
did the rest and completed them. From this, without doubt, sprang the
fable. Man created it thus, because it was not given him to see more
than himself and nature, which surrounds him; but he created it true
with a truth all its own.

This Truth, so beautiful, so intellectual, which I feel, I see, and long
to define, the name of which I here venture to distinguish from that of
the True, that I may the better make myself understood, is the soul of
all the arts. It is the selection of the characteristic token in all the
beauties and the grandeurs of the visible True; but it is not the
thing itself, it is something better: it is an ideal combination of its
principal forms, a luminous tint made up of its brightest colors, an
intoxicating balm of its purest perfumes, a delicious elixir of its
best juices, a perfect harmony of its sweetest sounds--in short, it is
a concentration of all its good qualities. For this Truth, and nothing
else, should strive those works of art which are a moral representation
of life-dramatic works. To attain it, the first step is undoubtedly to
learn all that is true in fact of every period, to become deeply imbued
with its general character and with its details; this involves only a
cheap tribute of attention, of patience, and of memory: But then one
must fix upon some chosen centre, and group everything around it; this
is the work of imagination, and of that sublime common-sense which is
genius itself.

Of what use were the arts if they were only the reproduction and the
imitation of life? Good heavens! we see only too clearly about us the
sad and disenchanting reality--the insupportable lukewarmness of feeble
characters, of shallow virtues and vices, of irresolute loves, of
tempered hates, of wavering friendships, of unsettled beliefs, of
constancy which has its height and its depth, of opinions which
evaporate. Let us dream that once upon a time have lived men stronger
and greater, who were more determined for good or for evil; that does
us good. If the paleness of your True is to follow us into art, we shall
close at once the theatre and the book, to avoid meeting it a second
time. What is wanted of works which revive the ghosts of human beings
is, I repeat, the philosophical spectacle of man deeply wrought upon
by the passions of his character and of his epoch; it is, in short, the
artistic Truth of that man and that epoch, but both raised to a higher
and ideal power, which concentrates all their forces. You recognize this
Truth in works of the imagination just as you cry out at the resemblance
of a portrait of which you have never seen the original; for true talent
paints life rather than the living.

To banish finally the scruples on this point of the consciences of some
persons, timorous in literary matters, whom I have seen affected with
a personal sorrow on viewing the rashness with which the imagination
sports with the most weighty characters of history, I will hazard the
assertion that, not throughout this work, I dare not say that, but in
many of these pages, and those perhaps not of the least merit, history
is a romance of which the people are the authors. The human mind, I
believe, cares for the True only in the general character of an epoch.
What it values most of all is the sum total of events and the advance of
civilization, which carries individuals along with it; but, indifferent
to details, it cares less to have them real than noble or, rather, grand
and complete.

Examine closely the origin of certain deeds, of certain heroic
expressions, which are born one knows not how; you will see them leap
out ready-made from hearsay and the murmurs of the crowd, without having
in themselves more than a shadow of truth, and, nevertheless, they will
remain historical forever. As if by way of pleasantry, and to put a joke
upon posterity, the public voice invents sublime utterances to mark,
during their lives and under their very eyes, men who, confused, avow
themselves as best they may, as not deserving of so much glory and as
not being able to support so high renown.

   [In our time has not a Russian General denied the fire of Moscow,
   which we have made heroic, and which will remain so? Has not a
   French General denied that utterance on the field of Waterloo which
   will immortalize it? And if I were not withheld by my respect for a
   sacred event, I might recall that a priest has felt it to be his
   duty to disavow in public a sublime speech which will remain the
   noblest that has ever been pronounced on a scaffold: “Son of Saint
   Louis, rise to heaven!” When I learned not long ago its real
   author, I was overcome by the destruction of my illusion, but before
   long I was consoled by a thought that does honor to humanity in my
   eyes. I feel that France has consecrated this speech, because she
   felt the need of reestablishing herself in her own eyes, of blinding
   herself to her awful error, and of believing that then and there an
   honest man was found who dared to speak aloud.]

In vain; their disclaimers are not received. Let them cry out, let them
write, let them print, let them sign--they are not listened to. These
utterances are inscribed in bronze; the poor fellows remain historical
and sublime in spite of themselves. And I do not find that all this is
done in the ages of barbarism alone; it is still going on, and it
molds the history of yesterday to the taste of public opinion--a Muse
tyrannical and capricious, which preserves the general purport and
scorns detail.

Which of you knows not of such transformation? Do you not see with your
own eyes the chrysalis fact assume by degrees the wings of fiction? Half
formed by the necessities of the time, a fact is hidden in the ground
obscure and incomplete, rough, misshapen, like a block of marble not yet
rough-hewn. The first who unearth it, and take it in hand, would wish
it differently shaped, and pass it, already a little rounded, into other
hands; others polish it as they pass it along; in a short time it is
exhibited transformed into an immortal statue. We disclaim it; witnesses
who have seen and heard pile refutations upon explanations; the learned
investigate, pore over books, and write. No one listens to them any more
than to the humble heroes who disown it; the torrent rolls on and bears
with it the whole thing under the form which it has pleased it to
give to these individual actions. What was needed for all this work? A
nothing, a word; sometimes the caprice of a journalist out of work. And
are we the losers by it? No. The adopted fact is always better composed
than the real one, and it is even adopted only because it is better. The
human race feels a need that its destinies should afford it a series of
lessons; more careless than we think of the reality of facts, it strives
to perfect the event in order to give it a great moral significance,
feeling sure that the succession of scenes which it plays upon earth is
not a comedy, and that since it advances, it marches toward an end, of
which the explanation must be sought beyond what is visible.

For my part, I acknowledge my gratitude to the voice of the people
for this achievement; for often in the finest life are found strange
blemishes and inconsistencies which pain me when I see them. If a man
seems to me a perfect model of a grand and noble character, and if
some one comes and tells me of a mean trait which disfigures him, I am
saddened by it, even though I do not know him, as by a misfortune which
affects me in person; and I could almost wish that he had died before
the change in his character.

Thus, when the Muse (and I give that name to art as a whole, to
everything which belongs to the domain of imagination, almost in the
same way as the ancients gave the name of Music to all education), when
the Muse has related, in her impassioned manner, the adventures of
a character whom I know to have lived; and when she reshapes his
experiences into conformity with the strongest idea of vice or
virtue which can be conceived of him--filling the gaps, veiling the
incongruities of his life, and giving him that perfect unity of conduct
which we like to see represented even in evil--if, in addition to this,
she preserves the only thing essential to the instruction of the world,
the spirit of the epoch, I know no reason why we should be more exacting
with her than with this voice of the people which every day makes every
fact undergo so great changes.

The ancients carried this liberty even into history; they wanted to
see in it only the general march, and broad movements of peoples and
nations; and on these great movements, brought to view in courses very
distinct and very clear, they placed a few colossal figures--symbols of
noble character and of lofty purpose.

One might almost reckon mathematically that, having undergone the double
composition of public opinion and of the author, their history reaches
us at third hand and is thus separated by two stages from the original
fact.

It is because in their eyes history too was a work of art; and in
consequence of not having realized that such is its real nature, the
whole Christian world still lacks an historical monument like those
which dominate antiquity and consecrate the memory of its destinies--as
its pyramids, its obelisks, its pylons, and its porticos still dominate
the earth which was known to them, and thereby commemorate the grandeur
of antiquity.

If, then, we find everywhere evidence of this inclination to desert the
positive, to bring the ideal even into historic annals, I believe that
with greater reason we should be completely indifferent to historical
reality in judging the dramatic works, whether poems, romances, or
tragedies, which borrow from history celebrated characters. Art ought
never to be considered except in its relations with its ideal beauty.
Let it be said that what is true in fact is secondary merely; it is only
an illusion the more with which it adorns itself--one of our prejudices
which it respects. It can do without it, for the Truth by which it must
live is the truth of observation of human nature, and not authenticity
of fact. The names of the characters have nothing to do with the matter.
The idea is everything; the proper name is only the example and the
proof of the idea.

So much the better for the memory of those who are chosen to represent
philosophical or moral ideas; but, once again, that is not the question.
The imagination can produce just as fine things without them; it is
a power wholly creative; the imaginary beings which it animates are
endowed with life as truly as the real beings which it brings to life
again. We believe in Othello as we do in Richard III., whose tomb is
in Westminster; in Lovelace and Clarissa as in Paul and Virginia, whose
tombs are in the Isle of France. It is with the same eye that we must
watch the performance of its characters, and demand of the Muse only her
artistic Truth, more lofty than the True--whether collecting the traits
of a character dispersed among a thousand entire individuals, she
composes from them a type whose name alone is imaginary; or whether she
goes to their tomb to seek and to touch with her galvanic current the
dead whose great deeds are known, forces them to arise again, and drags
them dazzled to the light of day, where, in the circle which this fairy
has traced, they re-assume unwillingly their passions of other days, and
begin again in the sight of their descendants the sad drama of life.

ALFRED DE VIGNY.

1827.



CINQ-MARS



BOOK 1.



CHAPTER I. THE ADIEU

     Fare thee well! and if forever,
     Still forever fare thee well!

                       LORD BYRON.

Do you know that charming part of our country which has been called the
garden of France--that spot where, amid verdant plains watered by wide
streams, one inhales the purest air of heaven?

If you have travelled through fair Touraine in summer, you have no doubt
followed with enchantment the peaceful Loire; you have regretted the
impossibility of determining upon which of its banks you would choose to
dwell with your beloved. On its right bank one sees valleys dotted with
white houses surrounded by woods, hills yellow with vines or white
with the blossoms of the cherry-tree, walls covered with honeysuckles,
rose-gardens, from which pointed roofs rise suddenly. Everything reminds
the traveller either of the fertility of the land or of the antiquity
of its monuments; and everything interests him in the work of its busy
inhabitants.

Nothing has proved useless to them; it seems as if in their love for
so beautiful a country--the only province of France never occupied by
foreigners--they have determined not to lose the least part of its soil,
the smallest grain of its sand. Do you fancy that this ruined tower is
inhabited only by hideous night-birds? No; at the sound of your horse’s
hoofs, the smiling face of a young girl peeps out from the ivy, whitened
with the dust from the road. If you climb a hillside covered with vines,
a light column of smoke shows you that there is a chimney at your feet;
for the very rock is inhabited, and families of vine-dressers breathe
in its caverns, sheltered at night by the kindly earth which they
laboriously cultivate during the day. The good people of Touraine are as
simple as their life, gentle as the air they breathe, and strong as the
powerful earth they dig. Their countenances, like their characters,
have something of the frankness of the true people of St. Louis; their
chestnut locks are still long and curve around their ears, as in the
stone statues of our old kings; their language is the purest French,
with neither slowness, haste, nor accent--the cradle of the language is
there, close to the cradle of the monarchy.

But the left bank of the stream has a more serious aspect; in the
distance you see Chambord, which, with its blue domes and little
cupolas, appears like some great city of the Orient; there is
Chanteloup, raising its graceful pagoda in the air. Near these a simpler
building attracts the eyes of the traveller by its magnificent situation
and imposing size; it is the chateau of Chaumont. Built upon the highest
hill of the shore, it frames the broad summit with its lofty walls and
its enormous towers; high slate steeples increase their loftiness, and
give to the building that conventual air, that religious form of all
our old chateaux, which casts an aspect of gravity over the landscape
of most of our provinces. Black and tufted trees surround this ancient
mansion, resembling from afar the plumes that encircled the hat of King
Henry. At the foot of the hill, connected with the chateau by a narrow
path, lies a pretty village, whose white houses seem to have sprung
from the golden sand; a chapel stands halfway up the hill; the lords
descended and the villagers ascended to its altar-the region of
equality, situated like a neutral spot between poverty and riches, which
have been too often opposed to each other in bitter conflict.

Here, one morning in the month of June, 1639, the bell of the chateau
having, as usual, rung at midday, the dinner-hour of the family,
occurrences of an unusual kind were passing in this ancient dwelling.
The numerous domestics observed that in repeating the morning prayers
before the assembled household, the Marechale d’Effiat had spoken with a
broken voice and with tears in her eyes, and that she had appeared in a
deeper mourning than was customary. The people of the household and the
Italians of the Duchesse de Mantua, who had at that time retired for a
while to Chaumont, saw with surprise that sudden preparations were being
made for departure. The old domestic of the Marechal d’Effiat (who had
been dead six months) had taken again to his travelling-boots, which he
had sworn to abandon forever. This brave fellow, named Grandchamp, had
followed the chief of the family everywhere in the wars, and in his
financial work; he had been his equerry in the former, and his secretary
in the latter. He had recently returned from Germany, to inform the
mother and the children of the death of the Marechal, whose last sighs
he had heard at Luzzelstein. He was one of those faithful servants who
are become too rare in France; who suffer with the misfortunes of the
family, and rejoice with their joys; who approve of early marriages,
that they may have young masters to educate; who scold the children and
often the fathers; who risk death for them; who serve without wages in
revolutions; who toil for their support; and who in prosperous times
follow them everywhere, or exclaim at their return, “Behold our
vines!” He had a severe and remarkable face, a coppery complexion, and
silver-gray hair, in which, however, some few locks, black as his heavy
eyebrows, made him appear harsh at first; but a gentle countenance
softened this first impression. At present his voice was loud. He busied
himself much that day in hastening the dinner, and ordered about all the
servants, who were in mourning like himself.

“Come,” said he, “make haste to serve the dinner, while Germain, Louis,
and Etienne saddle their horses; Monsieur Henri and I must be far away
by eight o’clock this evening. And you, gentlemen, Italians, have you
warned your young Princess? I wager that she is gone to read with her
ladies at the end of the park, or on the banks of the lake. She always
comes in after the first course, and makes every one rise from the
table.”

“Ah, my good Grandchamp,” said in a low voice a young maid servant who
was passing, “do not speak of the Duchess; she is very sorrowful, and I
believe that she will remain in her apartment. Santa Maria! what a shame
to travel to-day! to depart on a Friday, the thirteenth of the month,
and the day of Saint Gervais and of Saint-Protais--the day of two
martyrs! I have been telling my beads all the morning for Monsieur
de Cinq-Mars; and I could not help thinking of these things. And my
mistress thinks of them too, although she is a great lady; so you need
not laugh!”

With these words the young Italian glided like a bird across the large
dining-room, and disappeared down a corridor, startled at seeing the
great doors of the salon opened.

Grandchamp had hardly heard what she had said, and seemed to have
been occupied only with the preparations for dinner; he fulfilled the
important duties of major-domo, and cast severe looks at the domestics
to see whether they were all at their posts, placing himself behind the
chair of the eldest son of the house. Then all the inhabitants of the
mansion entered the salon. Eleven persons seated themselves at table.
The Marechale came in last, giving her arm to a handsome old man,
magnificently dressed, whom she placed upon her left hand. She seated
herself in a large gilded arm-chair at the middle of one side of the
table, which was oblong in form. Another seat, rather more ornamented,
was at her right, but it remained empty. The young Marquis d’Effiat,
seated in front of his mother, was to assist her in doing the honors of
the table. He was not more than twenty years old, and his countenance
was insignificant; much gravity and distinguished manners proclaimed,
however, a social nature, but nothing more. His young sister of
fourteen, two gentlemen of the province, three young Italian noblemen of
the suite of Marie de Gonzaga (Duchesse de Mantua), a lady-in-waiting,
the governess of the young daughter of the Marechale, and an abbe of the
neighborhood, old and very deaf, composed the assembly. A seat at the
right of the elder son still remained vacant.

The Marechale, before seating herself, made the sign of the cross,
and repeated the Benedicite aloud; every one responded by making the
complete sign, or upon the breast alone. This custom was preserved
in many families in France up to the Revolution of 1789; some still
practise it, but more in the provinces than in Paris, and not without
some hesitation and some preliminary words upon the weather, accompanied
by a deprecatory smile when a stranger is present--for it is too true
that virtue also has its blush.

The Marechale possessed an imposing figure, and her large blue eyes
were remarkably beautiful. She did not appear to have yet attained her
forty-fifth year; but, oppressed with sorrow, she walked slowly and
spoke with difficulty, closing her eyes, and allowing her head to droop
for a moment upon her breast, after she had been obliged to raise her
voice. At such efforts her hand pressed to her bosom showed that she
experienced sharp pain. She saw therefore with satisfaction that the
person who was seated at her left, having at the beginning engrossed
the conversation, without having been requested by any one to talk,
persisted with an imperturbable coolness in engrossing it to the end of
the dinner. This was the old Marechal de Bassompierre; he had preserved
with his white locks an air of youth and vivacity curious to see. His
noble and polished manners showed a certain gallantry, antiquated like
his costume--for he wore a ruff in the fashion of Henri IV, and the
slashed sleeves fashionable in the former reign, an absurdity which was
unpardonable in the eyes of the beaux of the court. This would not have
appeared more singular than anything else at present; but it is admitted
that in every age we laugh at the costume of our fathers, and, except
the Orientals, I know of no people who have not this fault.

One of the Italian gentlemen had hardly finished asking the Marechal
what he thought of the way in which the Cardinal treated the daughter of
the Duc de Mantua, when he exclaimed, in his familiar language:

“Heavens, man! what are you talking about? what do I comprehend of this
new system under which France is living? We old companions-in-arms
of his late Majesty can ill understand the language spoken by the new
court, and that in its turn does not comprehend ours. But what do I say?
We speak no language in this sad country, for all the world is silent
before the Cardinal; this haughty little, vassal looks upon us as merely
old family portraits, which occasionally he shortens by the head; but
happily the motto always remains. Is it not true, my dear Puy-Laurens?”

This guest was about the same age as the Marechal, but, being more grave
and cautious, he answered in vague and few words, and made a sign to his
contemporary in order to induce him to observe the unpleasant emotions
which he had caused the mistress of the house by reminding her of the
recent death of her husband and in speaking thus of the minister, his
friend. But it was in vain, for Bassompierre, pleased with the sign of
half-approval, emptied at one draught a great goblet of wine--a remedy
which he lauds in his Memoirs as infallible against the plague and
against reserve; and leaning back to receive another glass from his
esquire, he settled himself more firmly than ever upon his chair, and in
his favorite ideas.

“Yes, we are in the way here; I said so the other day to my dear Duc
de Guise, whom they have ruined. They count the minutes that we have to
live, and shake the hour-glass to hasten the descent of its sands. When
Monsieur le Cardinal-Duc observes in a corner three or four of our tall
figures, who never quitted the side of the late King, he feels that he
is unable to move those statues of iron, and that to do it would require
the hand of a great man; he passes quickly by, and dares not meddle with
us, who fear him not. He believes that we are always conspiring; and
they say at this very moment that there is talk of putting me in the
Bastille.”

“Eh! Monsieur le Marechal, why do you delay your departure?” said
the Italian. “I know of no place, except Flanders, where you can find
shelter.”

“Ah, Monsieur! you do not know me. So far from flying, I sought out the
King before his departure, and told him that I did so in order to save
people the trouble of looking for me; and that if I knew when he wished
to send me, I would go myself without being taken. He was as kind as I
expected him to be, and said to me, ‘What, my old friend, could you
have thought that I desired to send you there? You know well that I love
you.’”

“Ah, my dear Marechal, let me compliment you,” said Madame d’Effiat, in
a soft voice. “I recognize the benevolence of the King in these words;
he remembers the affection which the King, his father, had toward you.
It appears to me that he always accorded to you all that you desired for
your friends,” she added, with animation, in order to put him into the
track of praise, and to beguile him from the discontent which he had so
loudly declared.

“Assuredly, Madame,” answered he; “no one is more willing to recognize
his virtues than Francois de Bassompierre. I shall be faithful to him
to the end, because I gave myself, body and fortune, to his father at
a ball; and I swear that, with my consent at least, none of my family
shall ever fail in their duties toward the King of France. Although the
Besteins are foreigners and Lorrains, a shake of the hand from Henri IV
gained us forever. My greatest grief has been to see my brother die in
the service of Spain; and I have just written to my nephew to say that
I shall disinherit him if he has passed over to the Emperor, as report
says he has.”

One of the gentlemen guests who had as yet been silent, and who was
remarkable for the profusion of knots, ribbons, and tags which covered
his dress, and for the black cordon of the Order of St. Michael which
decorated his neck, bowed, observing that it was thus all faithful
subjects ought to speak.

“I’ faith, Monsieur de Launay, you deceive yourself very much,” said
the Marechal, to whom the recollection of his ancestors now occurred;
“persons of our blood are subjects only at our own pleasure, for God has
caused us to be born as much lords of our lands as the King is of his.
When I came to France, I came at my ease, accompanied by my gentlemen
and pages. I perceive, however, that the farther we go, the more we lose
sight of this idea, especially at the court. But here is a young man who
arrives very opportunely to hear me.”

The door indeed opened, and a young man of fine form entered. He was
pale; his hair was brown, his eyes were black, his expression was sad
and reckless. This was Henri d’Effiat, Marquis de Cinq-Mars (a name
taken from an estate of his family). His dress and his short cloak were
black; a collar of lace fell from his neck halfway down his breast; his
stout, small, and very wide-spurred boots made so much noise upon the
flags of the salon that his approach was heard at a distance. He walked
directly toward the Marechale, bowed low, and kissed her hand.

“Well, Henri,” she said, “are your horses ready? At what hour do you
depart?”

“Immediately after dinner, Madame, if you will allow me,” said he to his
mother, with the ceremonious respect of the times; and passing behind
her, he saluted M. de Bassompierre before seating himself at the left of
his eldest brother.

“Well,” said the Marechal, continuing to eat with an excellent appetite,
“you are about to depart, my son; you are going to the court--a slippery
place nowadays. I am sorry for your sake that it is not now what it used
to be. In former times, the court was simply the drawing-room of the
King, in which he received his natural friends: nobles of great family,
his peers, who visited him to show their devotion and their friendship,
lost their money with him, and accompanied him in his pleasure parties,
but never received anything from him, except permission to bring their
vassals with them, to break their heads in his service. The honors a man
of quality received did not enrich him, for he paid for them out of
his purse. I sold an estate for every grade I received; the title of
colonel-general of the Swiss cost me four hundred thousand crowns, and
at the baptism of the present King I had to buy a costume that cost me a
hundred thousand francs.”

“Ah!” said the mistress of the house, smiling, “you must acknowledge
for once that you were not obliged to do that. We have all heard of your
splendid dress of pearls; but I should be much vexed were it still the
custom to wear such.”

“Oh, Madame la Marquise, do not fear, those times of magnificence
never will return. We committed follies, no doubt, but they proved our
independence; it is clear that it would then have been hard to convert
from their allegiance to the King adherents who were attached to him
by love alone, and whose coronets contained as many diamonds as his own
locked-up crown. It is also certain that ambition could not then attack
all classes, since such expenses could come only from rich hands, and
since gold comes only from mines. Those great houses, which are being
so furiously assailed, were not ambitious, and frequently, desiring
no employment from the Government, maintained their places at court by
their own weight, existed upon their own foundation, and might say, as
one of them did say, ‘The Prince condescends not; I am Rohan.’ It was
the same with every noble family, to which its own nobility sufficed;
the King himself expressed it in writing to one of my friends: ‘Money is
not a common thing between gentlemen like you and me.’”

“But, Monsieur le Marechal,” coldly, and with extreme politeness,
interrupted M. de Launay, who perhaps intended to anger him, “this
independence has produced as many civil wars and revolts as those of
Monsieur de Montmorency.”

“Monsieur! I can not consent to hear these things spoken,” said the
fiery Marechal, leaping up in his armchair. “Those revolts and wars had
nothing to do with the fundamental laws of the State, and could no more
have overturned the throne than a duel could have done so. Of all
the great party-chiefs, there was not one who would not have laid his
victory at the feet of the King, had he succeeded, knowing well that all
the other lords who were as great as himself would have abandoned the
enemy of the legitimate sovereign. Arms were taken against a faction,
and not against the sovereign authority; and, this destroyed, everything
went on again in the old way. But what have you done in crushing us?
You have crushed the arm of the throne, and have not put anything in
its place. Yes, I no longer doubt that the Cardinal-Duke will wholly
accomplish his design; the great nobility will leave and lose their
lands, and, ceasing to be great proprietors, they will cease to be a
great power. The court is already no more than a palace where people
beg; by and by it will become an antechamber, when it will be composed
only of those who constitute the suite of the King. Great names will
begin by ennobling vile offices; but, by a terrible reaction, those
offices will end by rendering great names vile. Estranged from their
homes, the nobility will be dependent upon the employments which they
shall have received; and if the people, over whom they will no longer
have any influence, choose to revolt--”

“How gloomy you are to-day, Marechal!” interrupted the Marquise; “I
hope that neither I nor my children will ever see that time. I no longer
perceive your cheerful disposition, now that you talk like a politician.
I expected to hear you give advice to my son. Henri, what troubles you?
You seem very absent.”

Cinq-Mars, with eyes fixed upon the great bay window of the
dining-room, looked sorrowfully upon the magnificent landscape. The sun
shone in full splendor, and colored the sands of the Loire, the trees,
and the lawns with gold and emerald. The sky was azure, the waves were
of a transparent yellow, the islets of a vivid green; behind their
rounded outlines rose the great sails of the merchant-vessels, like a
fleet in ambuscade.

“O Nature, Nature!” he mused; “beautiful Nature, farewell! Soon will my
heart cease to be of simplicity enough to feel your charm, soon you
wall no longer please my eyes. This heart is already burned by a deep
passion; and the mention of the interests of men stirs it with hitherto
unknown agitation. I must, however, enter this labyrinth; I may,
perchance, lose myself there, but for Marie--”

At this moment, aroused by the words of his mother, and fearing to
exhibit a childish regret at leaving his beautiful country and his
family, he said:

“I am thinking, Madame, of the road which I shall take to Perpignan, and
also of that which shall bring me back to you.”

“Do not forget to take that of Poitiers, and to go to Loudun to see your
old tutor, our good Abbe Quillet; he will give you useful advice about
the court. He is on very good terms with the Duc de Bouillon; and
besides, though he may not be very necessary to you, it is a mark of
deference which you owe him.”

“Is it, then, to the siege of Perpignan that you are going, my boy?”
 asked the old Marechal, who began to think that he had been silent a
long time. “Ah! it is well for you. Plague upon it! a siege! ‘tis an
excellent opening. I would have given much had I been able to assist the
late King at a siege, upon my arrival in his court; it would have been
better to be disembowelled then than at a tourney, as I was. But we were
at peace; and I was compelled to go and shoot the Turks with the Rosworm
of the Hungarians, in order that I might not afflict my family by my
idleness. For the rest, may his Majesty receive you as kindly as his
father received me! It is true that the King is good and brave; but they
have unfortunately taught him that cold Spanish etiquette which arrests
all the impulses of the heart. He restrains himself and others by an
immovable presence and an icy look; as for me, I confess that I am
always waiting for the moment of thaw, but in vain. We were accustomed
to other manners from the witty and simple-hearted Henri; and we were at
least free to tell him that we loved him.”

Cinq-Mars, with eyes fixed upon those of Bassompierre, as if to force
himself to attend to his discourse, asked him what was the manner of the
late king in conversation.

“Lively and frank,” said he. “Some time after my arrival in France, I
played with him and with the Duchesse de Beaufort at Fontainebleau; for
he wished, he said, to win my gold-pieces, my fine Portugal money. He
asked me the reason why I came into this country. ‘Truly, Sire,’ said I,
frankly, ‘I came with no intention of enlisting myself in your service,
but only to pass some time at your court, and afterward at that of
Spain; but you have charmed me so much that, instead of going farther,
if you desire my service, I will devote myself to you till death.’ Then
he embraced me, and assured me that I could not find a better master, or
one who would love me more. Alas! I have found it so. And for my part, I
sacrificed everything to him, even my love; and I would have done
more, had it been possible to do more than renounce Mademoiselle de
Montmorency.”

The good Marechal had tears in his eyes; but the young Marquis d’Effiat
and the Italians, looking at one another, could not help smiling to
think that at present the Princesse de Conde was far from young and
pretty. Cinq-Mars noticed this interchange of glances, and smiled also,
but bitterly.

“Is it true then,” he thought, “that the affections meet the same fate
as the fashions, and that the lapse of a few years can throw the same
ridicule upon a costume and upon love? Happy is he who does not outlive
his youth and his illusions, and who carries his treasures with him to
the grave!”

But--again, with effort breaking the melancholy course of his thoughts,
and wishing that the good Marechal should read nothing unpleasant upon
the countenances of his hosts, he said:

“People spoke, then, with much freedom to King Henri? Possibly, however,
he found it necessary to assume that tone at the beginning of his reign;
but when he was master did he change it?”

“Never! no, never, to his last day, did our great King cease to be the
same. He did not blush to be a man, and he spoke to men with force and
sensibility. Ah! I fancy I see him now, embracing the Duc de Guise in
his carriage, on the very day of his death; he had just made one of his
lively pleasantries to me, and the Duke said to him, ‘You are, in
my opinion, one of the most agreeable men in the world, and destiny
ordained us for each other. For, had you been but an ordinary man,
I should have taken you into my service at whatever price; but since
heaven ordained that you should be born a great King, it is inevitable
that I belong to you.’ Oh, great man!” cried Bassompierre, with tears
in his eyes, and perhaps a little excited by the frequent bumpers he had
drunk, “you said well, ‘When you have lost me you will learn my value.’”

During this interlude, the guests at the table had assumed various
attitudes, according to their position in public affairs. One of the
Italians pretended to chat and laugh in a subdued manner with the young
daughter of the Marechale; the other talked to the deaf old Abbe, who,
with one hand behind his ear that he might hear, was the only one
who appeared attentive. Cinq-Mars had sunk back into his melancholy
abstraction, after throwing a glance at the Marechal, as one looks aside
after throwing a tennis-ball until its return; his elder brother did
the honors of the table with the same calm. Puy-Laurens observed
the mistress of the house with attention; he was devoted to the Duc
d’Orleans, and feared the Cardinal. As for the Marechale, she had an
anxious and afflicted air. Careless words had often recalled the death
of her husband or the departure of her son; and, oftener still, she had
feared lest Bassompierre should compromise himself. She had touched him
many times, glancing at the same time toward M. de Launay, of whom she
knew little, and whom she had reason to believe devoted to the prime
minister; but to a man of his character, such warnings were useless.
He appeared not to notice them; but, on the contrary, crushing that
gentleman with his bold glance and the sound of his voice, he affected
to turn himself toward him, and to direct all his conversation to him.
M. de Launay assumed an air of indifference and of assenting politeness,
which he preserved until the moment when the folding-doors opened, and
“Mademoiselle la Duchesse de Mantua” was announced.

The conversation which we have transcribed so lengthily passed, in
reality, with rapidity; and the repast was only half over when the
arrival of Marie de Gonzaga caused the company to rise. She was small,
but very well made, and although her eyes and hair were black, her
complexion was as dazzling as the beauty of her skin. The Marechale
arose to acknowledge her rank, and kissed her on the forehead, in
recognition of her goodness and her charming age.

“We have waited a long time for you to-day, dear Marie,” she said,
placing the Duchess beside her; “fortunately, you remain with me to
replace one of my children, who is about to depart.”

The young Duchess blushed, lowered her head and her eyes, in order that
no one might see their redness, and said, timidly:

“Madame, that may well be, since you have taken toward me the place of
a mother;” and a glance thrown at Cinq-Mars, at the other end of the
table, made him turn pale.

This arrival changed the conversation; it ceased to be general, and each
guest conversed in a low voice with his neighbor. The Marechal alone
continued to utter a few sentences concerning the magnificence of the
old court, his wars in Turkey, the tournaments, and the avarice of the
new court; but, to his great regret, no one made any reply, and the
company were about to leave the table, when, as the clock struck two,
five horses appeared in the courtyard. Four were mounted by servants,
cloaked and armed; the other horse, black and spirited, was held by old
Grandchamp--it was his master’s steed.

“Ah!” exclaimed Bassompierre; “see, our battlehorses are saddled and
bridled. Come, young man, we must say, with our old Marot:

          ‘Adieu la cour, adieu les dames!
          Adieu les filles et les femmes!
          Adieu vous dy pour quelque temps;
          Adieu vos plaisans parse-temps!
          Adieu le bal, adieu la dance;
          Adieu mesure, adieu cadance,
          Tabourins, Hautbois, Violons,
          Puisqu’a la guerre nous allons!’”

These old verses and the air of the Marechal made all the guests laugh,
except three persons.

“Heavens!” he continued, “it seems to me as if, like him, I were only
seventeen years old; he will return to us covered with embroidery.
Madame, we must keep his chair vacant for him.”

The Marechale suddenly grew pale, and left the table in tears; every one
rose with her; she took only two steps, and sank into another chair. Her
sons and her daughter and the young Duchess gathered anxiously around
her, and heard her say, amid the sighs and tears which she strove to
restrain:

“Pardon, my friends! it is foolish of me--childish; but I am weak at
present, and am not mistress of myself. We were thirteen at table; and
you, my dear Duchess, were the cause of it. But it is very wrong of me
to show so much weakness before him. Farewell, my child; give me your
forehead to kiss, and may God conduct you! Be worthy of your name and of
your father.”

Then, as Homer says, “smiling under tears,” she raised herself, pushed
her son from her, and said:

“Come, let me see you on horseback, fair sir!”

The silent traveller kissed the hands of his mother, and made a low bow
to her; he bowed also to the Duchess, without raising his eyes. Then,
embracing his elder brother, pressing the hand of the Marechal, and
kissing the forehead of his young sister almost simultaneously, he went
forth, and was on horseback in an instant. Every one went to the windows
which overlooked the court, except Madame d’Effiat, who was still seated
and suffering.

“He sets off at full gallop. That is a good sign,” said the Marechal,
laughing.

“Oh, heavens!” cried the young Princess, retiring from the bay-window.

“What is the matter?” said the mother.

“Nothing, nothing!” said M. de Launay. “Your son’s horse stumbled under
the gateway; but he soon pulled him up. See, he salutes us from the
road.”

“Another ominous presage!” said the Marquise, upon retiring to her
apartments.

Every one imitated her by being silent or speaking low.

The day was sad, and in the evening the supper was silent at the chateau
of Chaumont.

At ten o’clock that evening, the old Marechal, conducted by his valet,
retired to the northern tower near the gateway, and opposite the river.
The heat was extreme; he opened the window, and, enveloping himself
in his great silk robe, placed a heavy candlestick upon the table and
desired to be left alone. His window looked out upon the plain, which
the moon, in her first quarter, indistinctly lighted; the sky was
charged with thick clouds, and all things disposed the mind to
melancholy. Although Bassompierre had nothing of the dreamer in his
character, the tone which the conversation had taken at dinner returned
to his memory, and he reconsidered his life, the sad changes which the
new reign had wrought in it, a reign which seemed to have breathed
upon him a wind of misfortune--the death of a cherished sister; the
irregularities of the heir of his name; the loss of his lands and of
his favor; the recent fate of his friend, the Marechal d’Effiat,
whose chambers he now occupied. All these thoughts drew from him an
involuntary sigh, and he went to the window to breathe.

At that moment he fancied he heard the tramp of a troop of horse at the
side of the wood; but the wind rising made him think that he had been
mistaken, and, as the noise suddenly ceased, he forgot it. He still
watched for some time all the lights of the chateau, which were
successively extinguished, after winding among the windows of the
staircases and rambling about the courtyards and the stables. Then,
leaning back in his great tapestried armchair, his elbow resting on the
table, he abandoned himself to his reflections. After a while, drawing
from his breast a medallion which hung concealed, suspended by a black
ribbon, he said:

“Come, my good old master, talk with me as you have so often talked;
come, great King, forget your court for the smile of a true friend;
come, great man, consult me concerning ambitious Austria; come,
inconstant chevalier, speak to me of the lightness of thy love, and of
the fidelity of thine inconstancy; come, heroic soldier, complain to me
again that I obscure you in combat. Ah, had I only done it in Paris!
Had I only received thy wound? With thy blood the world has lost the
benefits of thine interrupted reign--”

The tears of the Marechal obscured the glass that covered the large
medallion, and he was effacing them with respectful kisses, when, his
door being roughly opened, he quickly drew his sword.

“Who goes there?” he cried, in his surprise, which was much increased
when he saw M. de Launay, who, hat in hand, advanced toward him, and
said to him, with embarrassment:

“Monsieur, it is with a heart pierced with grief that I am forced to
tell you that the King has commanded me to arrest you. A carriage awaits
you at the gate, attended by thirty of the Cardinal-Duke’s musketeers.”

Bassompierre had not risen: and he still held the medallion in his right
hand, and the sword in the other. He tendered it disdainfully to this
man, saying:

“Monsieur, I know that I have lived too long, and it is that of which
I was thinking; in the name of the great Henri, I restore this sword
peacefully to his son. Follow me.”

He accompanied these words with a look so firm that De Launay was
depressed, and followed him with drooping head, as if he had himself
been arrested by the noble old man, who, seizing a flambeau, issued
from the court and found all the doors opened by horse-guards, who
had terrified the people of the chateau in the name of the King,
and commanded silence. The carriage was ready, and departed rapidly,
followed by many horses. The Marechal, seated beside M. de Launay, was
about to fall asleep, rocked by the movement of the vehicle, when a
voice cried to the driver, “Stop!” and, as he continued, a pistol-shot
followed. The horses stopped.

“I declare, Monsieur, that this is done without my participation,” said
Bassompierre. Then, putting his head out at the door, he saw that they
were in a little wood, and that the road was too narrow to allow the
horses to pass to either the right or the left of the carriage--a great
advantage for the aggressors, since the musketeers could not advance.
He tried to see what was going on when a cavalier, having in his hand a
long sword, with which he parried the strokes of the guard, approached
the door, crying:

“Come, come, Monsieur le Marechal!”

“What! is that you, you madcap, Henri, who are playing these pranks?
Gentlemen, let him alone; he is a mere boy.”

And, as De Launay called to the musketeers to cease, Bassompierre
recognized the cavalier.

“And how the devil came you here?” cried Bassompierre. “I thought you
were at Tours, or even farther, if you had done your duty; but here you
are returned to make a fool of yourself.”

“Truly, it was not for you I returned, but for a secret affair,” said
Cinq-Mars, in a lower tone; “but, as I take it, they are about to
introduce you to the Bastille, and I am sure you will not betray me, for
that delightful edifice is the very Temple of Discretion. Yet had you
thought fit,” he continued, aloud, “I should have released you from
these gentlemen in the wood here, which is so dense that their horses
would not have been able to stir. A peasant informed me of the insult
passed upon us, more than upon you, by this violation of my father’s
house.”

“It is the King’s order, my boy, and we must respect his will; reserve
your ardor for his service, though I thank you with all my heart. Now
farewell, and let me proceed on my agreeable journey.”

De Launay interposed, “I may inform you, Monsieur de Cinq-Mars, that I
have been desired by the King himself to assure Monsieur le Marechal,
that he is deeply afflicted at the step he has found it necessary
to take, and that it is solely from an apprehension that Monsieur le
Marechal may be led into evil that his Majesty requests him to remain
for a few days in the Bastille.”--[He remained there twelve years.]

Bassompierre turned his head toward Cinq-Mars with a hearty laugh. “You
see, my friend, how we young men are placed under guardianship; so take
care of yourself.”

“I will go, then,” said Henri; “this is the last time I shall play the
knight-errant for any one against his will;” and, reentering the wood
as the carriage dashed off at full speed, he proceeded by narrow paths
toward the castle, followed at a short distance by Grandchamp and his
small escort.

On arriving at the foot of the western tower, he reined in his horse. He
did not alight, but, approaching so near the wall that he could rest his
foot upon an abutment, he stood up, and raised the blind of a window
on the ground-floor, made in the form of a portcullis, such as is still
seen on some ancient buildings.

It was now past midnight, and the moon was hidden behind the clouds. No
one but a member of the family could have found his way through darkness
so profound. The towers and the roof formed one dark mass, which stood
out in indistinct relief against the sky, hardly less dark; no light
shone throughout the chateau, wherein all inmates seemed buried in
slumber. Cinq-Mars, enveloped in a large cloak, his face hidden under
the broad brim of his hat, awaited in suspense a reply to his signal.

It came; a soft voice was heard from within:

“Is that you, Monsieur Cinq-Mars?”

“Alas, who else should it be? Who else would return like a criminal to
his paternal house, without entering it, without bidding one more adieu
to his mother? Who else would return to complain of the present, without
a hope for the future, but I?”

The gentle voice replied, but its tones were agitated, and evidently
accompanied with tears: “Alas! Henri, of what do you complain? Have I
not already done more, far more than I ought? It is not my fault, but my
misfortune, that my father was a sovereign prince. Can one choose
one’s birthplace or one’s rank, and say for example, ‘I will be a
shepherdess?’ How unhappy is the lot of princesses! From the cradle,
the sentiments of the heart are prohibited to them; and when they have
advanced beyond childhood, they are ceded like a town, and must not even
weep. Since I have known you, what have I not done to bring my future
life within the reach of happiness, in removing it far from a throne?
For two years I have struggled in vain, at once against my evil fortune,
that separates me from you, and against you, who estrange me from the
duty I owe to my family. I have sought to spread a belief that I was
dead; I have almost longed for revolutions. I should have blessed a
change which deprived me of my rank, as I thanked Heaven when my father
was dethroned; but the court wonders at my absence; the Queen requires
me to attend her. Our dreams are at an end, Henri; we have already
slumbered too long. Let us awake, be courageous, and think no more of
those dear two years--forget all in the one recollection of our great
resolve. Have but one thought; be ambitious for--be ambitious--for my
sake.”

“Must we, then, indeed, forget all, Marie?” murmured Cinq-Mars.

She hesitated.

“Yes, forget all--that I myself have forgotten.” Then, after a moment’s
pause, she continued with earnestness: “Yes, forget our happy days
together, our long evenings, even our walks by the lake and through
the wood; but keep the future ever in mind. Go, Henri; your father was
Marechal. Be you more; be you Constable, Prince. Go; you are young,
noble, rich, brave, beloved--”

“Beloved forever?” said Henri.

“Forever; for life and for eternity.”

Cinq-Mars, tremulously extending his hand to the window, exclaimed:

“I swear, Marie, by the Virgin, whose name you bear, that you shall be
mine, or my head shall fall on the scaffold!”

“Oh, Heaven! what is it you say?” she cried, seizing his hand in her
own. “Swear to me that you will share in no guilty deeds; that you will
never forget that the King of France is your master. Love him above
all, next to her who will sacrifice all for you, who will await you amid
suffering and sorrow. Take this little gold cross and wear it upon your
heart; it has often been wet with my tears, and those tears will flow
still more bitterly if ever you are faithless to the King. Give me the
ring I see on your finger. Oh, heavens, my hand and yours are red with
blood!”

“Oh, only a scratch. Did you hear nothing, an hour ago?”

“No; but listen. Do you hear anything now?”

“No, Marie, nothing but some bird of night on the tower.”

“I heard whispering near us, I am sure. But whence comes this blood?
Tell me, and then depart.”

“Yes, I will go, while the clouds are still dark above us. Farewell,
sweet soul; in my hour of danger I will invoke thee as a guardian angel.
Love has infused the burning poison of ambition into my soul, and
for the first time I feel that ambition may be ennobled by its aim.
Farewell! I go to accomplish my destiny.”

“And forget not mine.”

“Can they ever be separated?”

“Never!” exclaimed Marie, “but by death.”

“I fear absence still more,” said Cinq-Mars.

“Farewell! I tremble; farewell!” repeated the beloved voice, and the
window was slowly drawn down, the clasped hands not parting till the
last moment.

The black horse had all the while been pawing the earth, tossing his
head with impatience, and whinnying. Cinq-Mars, as agitated and restless
as his steed, gave it the rein; and the whole party was soon near the
city of Tours, which the bells of St. Gatien had announced from afar.
To the disappointment of old Grandchamp, Cinq-Mars would not enter the
town, but proceeded on his way, and five days later he entered, with his
escort, the old city of Loudun in Poitou, after an uneventful journey.



CHAPTER II. THE STREET

     Je m’avancais d’un pas penible et mal assure vers le but
     de ce convoi tragique.--NODIER, ‘Smarra’.

The reign of which we are about to paint a few years--a reign of
feebleness, which was like an eclipse of the crown between the splendors
of Henri IV and those of Louis le Grand--afflicts the eyes which
contemplate it with dark stains of blood, and these were not all the
work of one man, but were caused by great and grave bodies. It is
melancholy to observe that in this age, still full of disorder, the
clergy, like a nation, had its populace, as it had its nobility, its
ignorant and its criminal prelates, as well as those who were learned
and virtuous. Since that time, its remnant of barbarism has been refined
away by the long reign of Louis XIV, and its corruptions have been
washed out in the blood of the martyrs whom it offered up to the
revolution of 1793.

We felt it necessary to pause for a moment to express this reflection
before entering upon the recital of the facts presented by the history
of this period, and to intimate that, notwithstanding this consolatory
reflection, we have found it incumbent upon us to pass over many details
too odious to occupy a place in our pages, sighing in spirit at those
guilty acts which it was necessary to record, as in relating the life
of a virtuous old man, we should lament over the impetuosities of his
passionate youth, or over the corrupt tendencies of his riper age.

When the cavalcade entered the narrow streets of Loudun, they heard
strange noises all around them. The streets were filled with agitated
masses; the bells of the church and of the convent were ringing
furiously, as if the town was in flames; and the whole population,
without paying any attention to the travellers, was pressing
tumultuously toward a large edifice that adjoined the church. Here and
there dense crowds were collected, listening in silence to some voice
that seemed raised in exhortation, or engaged in emphatic reading; then,
furious cries, mingled with pious exclamations, arose from the crowd,
which, dispersing, showed the travellers that the orator was some
Capuchin or Franciscan friar, who, holding a wooden crucifix in one
hand, pointed with the other to the large building which was attracting
such universal interest.

“Jesu Maria!” exclaimed an old woman, “who would ever have thought that
the Evil Spirit would choose our old town for his abode?”

“Ay, or that the pious Ursulines should be possessed?” said another.

“They say that the demon who torments the Superior is called Legion,”
 cried a third:

“One demon, say you?” interrupted a nun; “there were seven in her poor
body, whereunto, doubtless, she had attached too much importance, by
reason of its great beauty, though now ‘tis but the receptacle of evil
spirits. The prior of the Carmelites yesterday expelled the demon Eazas
through her mouth; and the reverend Father Lactantius has driven out in
like manner the demon Beherit. But the other five will not depart, and
when the holy exorcists (whom Heaven support!) summoned them in Latin to
withdraw, they replied insolently that they would not go till they
had proved their power, to the conviction even of the Huguenots and
heretics, who, misbelieving wretches! seem to doubt it. The demon Elimi,
the worst of them all, as you know, has threatened to take off Monsieur
de Laubardemont’s skull-cap to-day, and to dangle it in the air at
Miserere.”

“Holy Virgin!” rejoined the first speaker, “I’m all of a tremble! And to
think that many times I have got this magician Urbain to say masses for
me!”

“For myself,” exclaimed a girl, crossing herself; “I too confessed to
him ten months ago! No doubt I should have been possessed myself, but
for the relic of Saint-Genevieve I luckily had about me, and--”

“Luckily, indeed, Martine,” interposed a fat gossip; “for--no
offence!--you, as I remember, were long enough with the handsome
sorcerer.”

“Pshaw!” said a young soldier, who had joined the group, smoking his
pipe, “don’t you know that pretty Martine was dispossessed a month ago.”

The girl blushed, and drew the hood of her black cloak over her face.
The elder gossips cast a glance of indignation at the reckless trooper,
and finding themselves now close to the door of the building, and thus
sure of making their way in among the first when it should be thrown
open, sat down upon the stone bench at the side, and, talking of the
latest wonders, raised the expectations of all as to the delight they
were about to have in being spectators of something marvellous--an
apparition, perhaps, but at the very least, an administration of the
torture.

“Is it true, aunt,” asked Martine of the eldest gossip, “that you have
heard the demons speak?”

“Yes, child, true as I see you; many and many can say the same; and it
was to convince you of it I brought you with me here, that you may see
the power of the Evil One.”

“What kind of voice has he?” continued the girl, glad to encourage
a conversation which diverted from herself the invidious attention
procured her by the soldier’s raillery.

“Oh, he speaks with a voice like that of the Superior herself, to whom
Our Lady be gracious! Poor young woman! I was with her yesterday a long
time; it was sad to see her tearing her breast, turning her arms and her
legs first one way and then another, and then, all of a sudden,
twisting them together behind her back. When the holy Father Lactantius
pronounced the name of Urbain Grandier, foam came out of her mouth, and
she talked Latin for all the world as if she were reading the Bible. Of
course, I did not understand what she said, and all I can remember of it
now is, ‘Urbanus Magicus rosas diabolica,’ which they tell me means
that the magician Urbain had bewitched her with some roses the Devil had
given him; and so it must have been, for while Father Lactantius spoke,
out of her ears and neck came a quantity of flame-colored roses, all
smelling of sulphur so strongly that the judge-Advocate called out for
every one present to stop their noses and eyes, for that the demons were
about to come out.”

“Ah, look there now!” exclaimed with shrill voices and a triumphant air
the whole bevy of assembled women, turning toward the crowd, and more
particularly toward a group of men attired in black, among whom
was standing the young soldier who had cut his joke just before so
unceremoniously.

“Listen to the noisy old idiots!” exclaimed the soldier. “They think
they’re at the witches’ Sabbath, but I don’t see their broomsticks.”

“Young man, young man!” said a citizen, with a sad air, “jest not upon
such subjects in the open air, or, in such a time as this, the wind may
become gushing flames and destroy you.”

“Pooh! I laugh at your exorcists!” returned the soldier; “my name is
Grand-Ferre, and I’ve got here a better exorciser than any of you can
show.”

And significantly grasping the handle of his rapier in one hand, with
the other he twisted up his blond moustache, as he looked fiercely
around; but meeting no glance which returned the defiance of his own, he
slowly withdrew, left foot foremost, and strolled along the dark, narrow
streets with all the reckless nonchalance of a young soldier who has
just donned his uniform, and a profound contempt for all who wear not a
military coat.

In the meantime eight or ten of the more substantial and rational
inhabitants traversed in a body, slowly and silently, the agitated
throng; they seemed overwhelmed with amazement and distress at the
agitation and excitement they witnessed everywhere, and as each new
instance of the popular frenzy appeared, they exchanged glances of
wonder and apprehension. Their mute depression communicated itself to
the working-people, and to the peasants who had flocked in from the
adjacent country, and who, all sought a guide for their opinions in the
faces of the principal townsmen, also for the most part proprietors of
the surrounding districts. They saw that something calamitous was on
foot, and resorted accordingly to the only remedy open to the ignorant
and the beguiled--apathetic resignation.

Yet, in the character of the French peasant is a certain scoffing
finesse of which he makes effective use, sometimes with his equals,
and almost invariably with his superiors. He puts questions to power as
embarrassing as are those which infancy puts to mature age. He affects
excessive humility, in order to confuse him whom he addresses with the
very height of his isolated elevation. He exaggerates the awkwardness
of his manner and the rudeness of his speech, as a means of covering his
real thoughts under the appearance of mere uncouthness; yet, despite
all his self-command, there is something in his air, certain fierce
expressions which betray him to the close observer, who discerns in his
sardonic smile, and in the marked emphasis with which he leans on his
long staff, the hopes that secretly nourish his soul, and the aid upon
which he ultimately relies.

One of the oldest of the peasants whom we have indicated came on
vigorously, followed by ten or twelve young men, his sons and nephews,
all wearing the broad-brimmed hat and the blue frock or blouse of the
ancient Gauls, which the peasants of France still wear over their
other garments, as peculiarly adapted to their humid climate and their
laborious habits.

When the old man had reached the group of personages of whom we have
just spoken, he took off his hat--an example immediately followed by his
whole family--and showed a face tanned with exposure to the weather, a
forehead bald and wrinkled with age, and long, white hair. His shoulders
were bent with years and labor, but he was still a hale and sturdy man.
He was received with an air of welcome, and even of respect, by one
of the gravest of the grave group he had approached, who, without
uncovering, however, extended to him his hand.

“What! good Father Guillaume Leroux!” said he, “and have you, too, left
our farm of La Chenaie to visit the town, when it’s not market-day?
Why, ‘tis as if your oxen were to unharness themselves and go hunting,
leaving their work to see a poor rabbit run down!”

“Faith, Monsieur le Comte du Lude,” replied the farmer, “for that
matter, sometimes the rabbit runs across our path of itself; but, in
truth, I’ve a notion that some of the people here want to make fools of
us, and so I’ve come to see about it.”

“Enough of that, my friend,” returned the Count; “here is Monsieur
Fournier, the Advocate, who assuredly will not deceive you, for he
resigned his office of Attorney-General last night, that he might
henceforth devote his eloquence to the service of his own noble
thoughts. You will hear him, perhaps, to-day, though truly, I dread
his appearing for his own sake as much as I desire it for that of the
accused.”

“I care not for myself,” said Fournier; “truth is with me a passion, and
I would have it taught in all times and all places.”

He that spoke was a young man, whose face, pallid in the extreme, was
full of the noblest expression. His blond hair, his light-blue eyes,
his thinness, the delicacy of his frame, made him at first sight
seem younger than he was; but his thoughtful and earnest countenance
indicated that mental superiority and that precocious maturity of soul
which are developed by deep study in youth, combined with natural energy
of character. He was attired wholly in black, with a short cloak in the
fashion of the day, and carried under his left arm a roll of documents,
which, when speaking, he would take in the right hand and grasp
convulsively, as a warrior in his anger grasps the pommel of his sword.
At one moment it seemed as if he were about to unfurl the scroll, and
from it hurl lightning upon those whom he pursued with looks of fiery
indignation--three Capuchins and a Franciscan, who had just passed.

“Pere Guillaume,” pursued M. du Lude, “how is it you have brought with
you only your sons, and they armed with their staves?”

“Faith, Monsieur, I have no desire that our girls should learn to dance
of the nuns; and, moreover, just now the lads with their staves may
bestir themselves to better purpose than their sisters would.”

“Take my advice, my old friend,” said the Count, “and don’t bestir
yourselves at all; rather stand quietly aside to view the procession
which you see approaching, and remember that you are seventy years old.”

“Ah!” murmured the old man, drawing up his twelve sons in double
military rank, “I fought under good King Henriot, and can play at sword
and pistol as well as the worthy ‘ligueurs’;” and shaking his head he
leaned against a post, his knotty staff between his crossed legs, his
hands clasped on its thick butt-end, and his white, bearded chin
resting on his hands. Then, half closing his eyes, he appeared lost in
recollections of his youth.

The bystanders observed with interest his dress, slashed in the fashion
of Henri IV, and his resemblance to the Bearnese monarch in the latter
years of his life, though the King’s hair had been prevented by the
assassin’s blade from acquiring the whiteness which that of the old
peasant had peacefully attained. A furious pealing of the bells,
however, attracted the general attention to the end of the great
street, down which was seen filing a long procession, whose banners and
glittering pikes rose above the heads of the crowd, which successively
and in silence opened a way for the at once absurd and terrible train.

First, two and two, came a body of archers, with pointed beards and
large plumed hats, armed with long halberds, who, ranging in a single
file on each side of the middle of the street, formed an avenue along
which marched in solemn order a procession of Gray Penitents--men
attired in long, gray robes, the hoods of which entirely covered their
heads; masks of the same stuff terminated below their chins in points,
like beards, each having three holes for the eyes and nose. Even at the
present day we see these costumes at funerals, more especially in the
Pyrenees. The Penitents of Loudun carried enormous wax candles, and
their slow, uniform movement, and their eyes, which seemed to glitter
under their masks, gave them the appearance of phantoms.

The people expressed their various feelings in an undertone:

“There’s many a rascal hidden under those masks,” said a citizen.

“Ay, and with a face uglier than the mask itself,” added a young man.

“They make me afraid,” tremulously exclaimed a girl.

“I’m only afraid for my purse,” said the first speaker.

“Ah, heaven! there are our holy brethren, the Penitents,” cried an old
woman, throwing back her hood, the better to look at them. “See the
banner they bear! Ah, neighbors, ‘tis a joyful thing to have it among
us! Beyond a doubt it will save us; see, it shows the devil in flames,
and a monk fastening a chain round his neck, to keep him in hell. Ah,
here come the judges--noble gentlemen! dear gentlemen! Look at their red
robes; how beautiful! Blessed be the Virgin, they’ve been well chosen!”

“Every man of them is a personal enemy of the Cure,” whispered the Count
du Lude to the advocate Fournier, who took a note of the information.

“Don’t you know them, neighbors?” pursued the shrill, sharp voice of the
old woman, as she elbowed one and pinched another of those near her to
attract their attention to the objects of her admiration; “see, there’s
excellent Monsieur Mignon, whispering to Messieurs the Counsellors of
the Court of Poitiers; Heaven bless them all, say I!”

“Yes, there are Roatin, Richard, and Chevalier--the very men who tried
to have him dismissed a year ago,” continued M. du Lude, in undertones,
to the young advocate, who, surrounded and hidden from public
observation by the group of dark-clad citizens, was writing down his
observations in a note-book under his cloak.

“Here; look, look!” screamed the woman. “Make way! here’s Monsieur
Barre, the Cure of Saint-Jacques at Chinon.”

“A saint!” murmured one bystander.

“A hypocrite!” exclaimed a manly voice.

“See how thin he is with fasting!”

“See how pale he is with remorse!”

“He’s the man to drive away devils!”

“Yes, but not till he’s done with them for his own purposes.”

The dialogue was interrupted by the general exclamation, “How beautiful
she is!”

The Superior of the Ursulines advanced, followed by all her nuns. Her
white veil was raised; in order that the people might see the features
of the possessed ones, it had been ordered that it should be thus with
her and six of the sisterhood. Her attire had no distinguishing feature,
except a large rosary extending from her neck nearly to her feet, from
which hung a gold cross; but the dazzling pallor of her face, rendered
still more conspicuous by the dark hue of her capuchon, at once fixed
the general gaze upon her. Her brilliant, dark eyes, which bore the
impress of some deep and burning passion, were crowned with eyebrows so
perfectly arched that Nature herself seemed to have taken as much pains
to form them as the Circassian women to pencil theirs artistically; but
between them a slight fold revealed the powerful agitation within. In
her movements, however, and throughout her whole bearing, she affected
perfect calm; her steps were slow and measured, and her beautiful hands
were crossed on her bosom, as white and motionless as those of the
marble statues joined in eternal prayer.

“See, aunt,” ejaculated Martine, “see how Sister Agnes and Sister Claire
are weeping, next to the Superior!”

“Ay, niece, they weep because they are the prey of the demon.”

“Or rather,” interposed the same manly voice that spoke before, “because
they repent of having mocked Heaven.”

A deep silence now pervaded the multitude; not a word was heard, not
a movement, hardly a breath. Every one seemed paralyzed by some sudden
enchantment, when, following the nuns, among four Penitents who held him
in chains, appeared the Cure of the Church of Ste. Croix, attired in his
pastor’s robe. His was a noble, fine face, with grandeur in its whole
expression, and gentleness in every feature. Affecting no scornful
indifference to his position, he looked calmly and kindly around, as if
he sought on his dark path the affectionate glances of those who loved
him. Nor did he seek in vain; here and there he encountered those
glances, and joyfully returned them. He even heard sobs, and he saw
hands extended toward him, many of which grasped weapons. But no gesture
of his encouraged these mute offers of aid; he lowered his eyes and went
on, careful not to compromise those who so trusted in him, or to involve
them in his own misfortunes. This was Urbain Grandier.

Suddenly the procession stopped, at a sign from the man who walked
apart, and who seemed to command its progress. He was tall, thin,
sallow; he wore a long black robe, with a cap of the same material
and color; he had the face of a Don Basilio, with the eye of Nero.
He motioned the guards to surround him more closely, when he saw with
affright the dark group we have mentioned, and the strong-limbed and
resolute peasants who seemed in attendance upon them. Then, advancing
somewhat before the Canons and Capuchins who were with him, he
pronounced, in a shrill voice, this singular decree:

   “We, Sieur de Laubardemont, referendary, being delegated and
   invested with discretionary power in the matter of the trial of the
   magician Urbain Grandier, upon the various articles of accusation
   brought against him, assisted by the reverend Fathers Mignon, canon,
   Barre, cure of St. Jacques at Chinon, Father Lactantius, and all the
   other judges appointed to try the said magician, have decreed as
   follows:

   “Primo: the factitious assembly of proprietors, noble citizens of
   this town and its environs, is dissolved, as tending to popular
   sedition; its proceedings are declared null, and its letter to the
   King, against us, the judges, which has been intercepted, shall be
   publicly burned in the marketplace as calumniating the good
   Ursulines and the reverend fathers and judges.

   “Secundo: it is forbidden to say, publicly or in private, that the
   said nuns are not possessed by the Evil Spirit, or to doubt of the
   power of the exorcists, under pain of a fine of twenty thousand
   livres, and corporal punishment.

   “Let the bailiffs and sheriffs obey this. Given the eighteenth of
   June, in the year of grace 1639.”

Before he had well finished reading the decree, the discordant blare of
trumpets, bursting forth at a prearranged signal, drowned, to a
certain extent, the murmurs that followed its proclamation, amid which
Laubardemont urged forward the procession, which entered the great
building already referred to--an ancient convent, whose interior had
crumbled away, its walls now forming one vast hall, well adapted for the
purpose to which it was about to be applied. Laubardemont did not deem
himself safe until he was within the building and had heard the heavy,
double doors creak on their hinges as, closing, they excluded the
furious crowd without.



CHAPTER III. THE GOOD PRIEST

     L’homme de paix me parla ainsi.--VICAIRE SAVOYARD.

Now that the diabolical procession is in the arena destined for its
spectacle, and is arranging its sanguinary representation, let us see
what Cinq-Mars had been doing amid the agitated throng. He was naturally
endowed with great tact, and he felt that it would be no easy matter
for him to attain his object of seeing the Abbe Quillet, at a time when
public excitement was at its height. He therefore remained on horseback
with his four servants in a small, dark street that led into the main
thoroughfare, whence he could see all that passed. No one at first paid
any attention to him; but when public curiosity had no other aliment, he
became an object of general interest. Weary of so many strange scenes,
the inhabitants looked upon him with some exasperation, and whispered to
one another, asking whether this was another exorcist come among them.
Feeling that it was time to take a decided course, he advanced with
his attendants, hat in hand, toward the group in black of whom we
have spoken, and addressing him who appeared its chief member, said,
“Monsieur, where can I find Monsieur l’Abbe Quillet?”

At this name, all regarded him with an air of terror, as if he had
pronounced that of Lucifer. Yet no anger was shown; on the contrary, it
seemed that the question had favorably changed for him the minds of all
who heard him. Moreover, chance had served him well in his choice; the
Comte du Lude came up to his horse, and saluting him, said, “Dismount,
Monsieur, and I will give you some useful information concerning him.”

After speaking a while in whispers, the two gentlemen separated with
all the ceremonious courtesy of the time. Cinq-Mars remounted his black
horse, and passing through numerous narrow streets, was soon out of the
crowd with his retinue.

“How happy I am!” he soliloquized, as he went his way; “I shall, at all
events, for a moment see the good and kind clergyman who brought me
up; even now I recall his features, his calm air, his voice so full of
gentleness.”

As these tender thoughts filled his mind, he found himself in the small,
dark street which had been indicated to him; it was so narrow that the
knee-pieces of his boots touched the wall on each side. At the end of
the street he came to a one-storied wooden house, and in his eagerness
knocked at the door with repeated strokes.

“Who is there?” cried a furious voice within; and at the same moment,
the door opening revealed a little short, fat man, with a very red
face, dressed in black, with a large white ruff, and riding-boots which
engulfed his short legs in their vast depths. In his hands were a pair
of horse-pistols.

“I will sell my life dearly!” he cried; “and--”

“Softly, Abbe, softly,” said his pupil, taking his arm; “we are
friends.”

“Ah, my son, is it you?” said the good man, letting fall his pistols,
which were picked up by a domestic, also armed to the teeth. “What do
you here? The abomination has entered the town, and I only await the
night to depart. Make haste within, my dear boy, with your people. I
took you for the archers of Laubardemont, and, faith, I intended to
take a part somewhat out of my line. You see the horses in the courtyard
there; they will convey me to Italy, where I shall rejoin our friend,
the Duc de Bouillon. Jean! Jean! hasten and close the great gate after
Monsieur’s domestics, and recommend them not to make too much noise,
although for that matter we have no habitation near us.”

Grandchamp obeyed the intrepid little Abbe, who then embraced Cinq-Mars
four consecutive times, raising himself on the points of his boots, so
as to attain the middle of his pupil’s breast. He then hurried him into
a small room, which looked like a deserted granary; and seating him
beside himself upon a black leather trunk, he said, warmly:

“Well, my son, whither go you? How came Madame la Marechale to allow you
to come here? Do you not see what they are doing against an unhappy man,
whose death alone will content them? Alas, merciful Heaven! is this
the first spectacle my dear pupil is to see? And you at that delightful
period of life when friendship, love, confidence, should alone encompass
you; when all around you should give you a favorable opinion of your
species, at your very entry into the great world! How unfortunate! alas,
why did you come?”

When the good Abbe had followed up this lamentation by pressing
affectionately both hands of the young traveller in his own, so red and
wrinkled, the latter answered:

“Can you not guess, my dear Abbe, that I came to Loudun because you
are here? As to the spectacle you speak of, it appears to me simply
ridiculous; and I swear that I do not a whit the less on its account
love that human race of which your virtues and your good lessons have
given me an excellent idea. As to the five or six mad women who--”

“Let us not lose time; I will explain to you all that matter; but answer
me, whither go you, and for what?”

“I am going to Perpignan, where the Cardinal-Duke is to present me to
the King.”

At this the worthy but hasty Abbe rose from his box, and walked, or
rather ran, to and fro, stamping. “The Cardinal! the Cardinal!” he
repeated, almost choking, his face becoming scarlet, and the tears
rising to his eyes; “My poor child! they will destroy him! Ah, mon Dieu!
what part would they have him play there? What would they do with
him? Ah, who will protect thee, my son, in that dangerous place?” he
continued, reseating himself, and again taking his pupil’s hands in his
own with a paternal solicitude, as he endeavored to read his thoughts in
his countenance.

“Why, I do not exactly know,” said Cinq-Mars, looking up at the ceiling;
“but I suppose it will be the Cardinal de Richelieu, who was the friend
of my father.”

“Ah, my dear Henri, you make me tremble; he will ruin you unless you
become his docile instrument. Alas, why can not I go with you? Why must
I act the young man of twenty in this unfortunate affair? Alas, I should
be perilous to you; I must, on the contrary, conceal myself. But you
will have Monsieur de Thou near you, my son, will you not?” said he,
trying to reassure himself; “he was your friend in childhood, though
somewhat older than yourself. Heed his counsels, my child, he is a wise
young man of mature reflection and solid ideas.”

“Oh, yes, my dear Abbe, you may depend upon my tender attachment for
him; I never have ceased to love him.”

“But you have ceased to write to him, have you not?” asked the good
Abbe, half smilingly.

“I beg your pardon, my dear Abbe, I wrote to him once, and again
yesterday, to inform him that the Cardinal has invited me to court.”

“How! has he himself desired your presence?”

Cinq-Mars hereupon showed the letter of the Cardinal-Duke to his mother,
and his old preceptor grew gradually calmer.

“Ah, well!” said he to himself, “this is not so bad, perhaps, after
all. It looks promising; a captain of the guards at twenty--that sounds
well!” and the worthy Abbe’s face became all smiles.

The young man, delighted to see these smiles, which so harmonized with
his own thoughts, fell upon the neck of the Abbe and embraced him, as if
the good man had thus assured to him a futurity of pleasure, glory, and
love.

But the good Abbe, with difficulty disengaging himself from this warm
embrace, resumed his walk, his reflections, and his gravity. He coughed
often and shook his head; and Cinq-Mars, not venturing to pursue the
conversation, watched him, and became sad as he saw him become serious.

The old man at last sat down, and in a mournful tone addressed his
pupil:

“My friend, my son, I have for a moment yielded like a father to your
hopes; but I must tell you, and it is not to afflict you, that they
appear to me excessive and unnatural. If the Cardinal’s sole aim were
to show attachment and gratitude toward your family, he would not have
carried his favors so far; no, the extreme probability is that he has
designs upon you. From what has been told him, he thinks you adapted to
play some part, as yet impossible for us to divine, but which he himself
has traced out in the deepest recesses of his mind. He wishes to educate
you for this; he wishes to drill you into it. Allow me the expression in
consideration of its accuracy, and think seriously of it when the time
shall come. But I am inclined to believe that, as matters are, you would
do well to follow up this vein in the great mine of State; in this way
high fortunes have begun. You must only take heed not to be blinded
and led at will. Let not favors dazzle you, my poor child, and let not
elevation turn your head. Be not so indignant at the suggestion; the
thing has happened to older men than yourself. Write to me often, as
well as to your mother; see Monsieur de Thou, and together we will try
to keep you in good counsel. Now, my son, be kind enough to close that
window through which the wind comes upon my head, and I will tell you
what has been going on here.”

Henri, trusting that the moral part of the discourse was over, and
anticipating nothing in the second part but a narrative more or less
interesting, closed the old casement, festooned with cobwebs, and
resumed his seat without speaking.

“Now that I reflect further,” continued the Abbe, “I think it will
not perhaps be unprofitable for you to have passed through this place,
although it be a sad experience you shall have acquired; but it will
supply what I may not have formerly told you of the wickedness of men.
I hope, moreover, that the result will not be fatal, and that the letter
we have written to the King will arrive in time.”

“I heard that it had been intercepted,” interposed Cinq-Mars.

“Then all is over,” said the Abbe Quillet; “the Cure is lost. But
listen. God forbid, my son, that I, your old tutor, should seek to
assail my own work, and attempt to weaken your faith! Preserve ever and
everywhere that simple creed of which your noble family has given you
the example, which our fathers possessed in a still higher degree than
we, and of which the greatest captains of our time are not ashamed.
Always, while you wear a sword, remember that you hold it for the
service of God. But at the same time, when you are among men, avoid
being deceived by the hypocrite. He will encompass you, my son; he will
assail you on the vulnerable side of your ingenuous heart, in addressing
your religion; and seeing the extravagance of his affected zeal, you
will fancy yourself lukewarm as compared with him. You will think that
your conscience cries out against you; but it will not be the voice of
conscience that you hear. And what cries would not that conscience send
forth, how fiercely would it not rise upon you, did you contribute
to the destruction of innocence by invoking Heaven itself as a false
witness against it?”

“Oh, my father! can such things be possible?” exclaimed Henri d’Effiat,
clasping his hands.

“It is but too true,” continued the Abbe; “you saw a partial execution
of it this morning. God grant you may not witness still greater horrors!
But listen! whatever you may see, whatever crime they dare to commit, I
conjure you, in the name of your mother and of all that you hold
dear, say not a word; make not a gesture that may indicate any opinion
whatever. I know the impetuous character that you derive from
the Marechal, your father; curb it, or you are lost. These little
ebullitions of passion give but slight satisfaction, and bring about
great misfortunes. I have observed you give way to them too much. Oh,
did you but know the advantage that a calm temper gives one over men!
The ancients stamped it on the forehead of the divinity as his finest
attribute, since it shows that he is superior to our fears and to our
hopes, to our pleasures and to our pains. Therefore, my dear child,
remain passive in the scenes you are about to witness; but see them
you must. Be present at this sad trial; for me, I must suffer the
consequences of my schoolboy folly. I will relate it to you; it will
prove to you that with a bald head one may be as much a child as with
your fine chestnut curls.”

And the excellent old Abbe, taking his pupil’s head affectionately
between his hands, continued:

“Like other people, my dear son, I was curious to see the devils of the
Ursulines; and knowing that they professed to speak all languages, I was
so imprudent as to cease speaking Latin and to question them in Greek.
The Superior is very pretty, but she does not know Greek! Duncan, the
physician, observed aloud that it was surprising that the demon, who
knew everything, should commit barbarisms and solecisms in Latin, and
not be able to answer in Greek. The young Superior, who was then upon
her bed, turned toward the wall to weep, and said in an undertone to
Father Barre, ‘I can not go on with this, father.’ I repeated her words
aloud, and infuriated all the exorcists; they cried out that I ought to
know that there are demons more ignorant than peasants, and said that as
to their power and physical strength, it could not be doubted, since the
spirits named Gresil des Trones, Aman des Puissance, and Asmodeus, had
promised to carry off the calotte of Monsieur de Laubardemont. They were
preparing for this, when the physician Duncan, a learned and upright
man, but somewhat of a scoffer, took it into his head to pull a cord he
discovered fastened to a column like a bell-rope, and which hung down
just close to the referendary’s head; whereupon they called him a
Huguenot, and I am satisfied that if Marechal de Breze were not his
protector, it would have gone ill with him. The Comte du Lude then came
forward with his customary ‘sang-froid’, and begged the exorcists to
perform before him. Father Lactantius, the Capuchin with the dark visage
and hard look, proceeded with Sister Agnes and Sister Claire; he raised
both his hands, looking at them as a serpent would look at two dogs, and
cried in a terrible voice, ‘Quis to misit, Diabole?’ and the two sisters
answered, as with one voice, ‘Urbanus.’ He was about to continue, when
Monsieur du Lude, taking out of his pocket, with an air of veneration,
a small gold box, said that he had in it a relic left by his ancestors,
and that though not doubting the fact of the possession, he wished to
test it. Father Lactantius seized the box with delight, and hardly had
he touched the foreheads of the two sisters with it when they made great
leaps and twisted about their hands and feet. Lactantius shouted forth
his exorcisms; Barre threw himself upon his knees with all the old
women; and Mignon and the judges applauded. The impassible Laubardemont
made the sign of the cross, without being struck dead for it! When
Monsieur du Lude took back his box the nuns became still. ‘I think,’
said Lactantius, insolently, ‘that--you will not question your relics
now.’ ‘No more than I do the possession,’ answered Monsieur du Lude,
opening his box and showing that it was empty. ‘Monsieur, you mock us,’
said Lactantius. I was indignant at these mummeries, and said to him,
‘Yes, Monsieur, as you mock God and men.’ And this, my dear friend, is
the reason why you see me in my seven-league boots, so heavy that they
hurt my legs, and with pistols; for our friend Laubardemont has ordered
my person to be seized, and I don’t choose it to be seized, old as it
is.”

“What, is he so powerful, then?” cried Cinq-Mars.

“More so than is supposed--more so than could be believed. I know that
the possessed Abbess is his niece, and that he is provided with an order
in council directing him to judge, without being deterred by any appeals
lodged in Parliament, the Cardinal having prohibited the latter from
taking cognizance of the matter of Urbain Grandier.”

“And what are his offences?” asked the young man, already deeply
interested.

“Those of a strong mind and of a great genius, an inflexible will which
has irritated power against him, and a profound passion which has driven
his heart and him to commit the only mortal sin with which I believe
he can be reproached; and it was only by violating the sanctity of his
private papers, which they tore from Jeanne d’Estievre, his mother, an
old woman of eighty, that they discovered his love for the beautiful
Madeleine de Brou. This girl had refused to marry, and wished to take
the veil. May that veil have concealed from her the spectacle of this
day! The eloquence of Grandier and his angelic beauty drove the women
half mad; they came miles and miles to hear him. I have seen them swoon
during his sermons; they declared him an angel, and touched his garment
and kissed his hands when he descended from the pulpit. It is certain
that, unless it be his beauty, nothing could equal the sublimity of
his discourses, ever full of inspiration. The pure honey of the gospel
combined on his lips with the flashing flame of the prophecies; and one
recognized in the sound of his voice a heart overflowing with holy pity
for the evils to which mankind are subject, and filled with tears, ready
to flow for us.”

The good priest paused, for his own voice and eyes were filled with
tears; his round and naturally Joyous face was more touching than a
graver one under the same circumstances, for it seemed as if it bade
defiance to sadness. Cinq-Mars, even more moved, pressed his hand
without speaking, fearful of interrupting him. The Abbe took out a red
handkerchief, wiped his eyes, and continued:

“This is the second attack upon Urbain by his combined enemies. He
had already been accused of bewitching the nuns; but, examined by holy
prelates, by enlightened magistrates, and learned physicians, he was
immediately acquitted, and the judges indignantly imposed silence upon
these devils in human form. The good and pious Archbishop of Bordeaux,
who had himself chosen the examiners of these pretended exorcists,
drove the prophets away and shut up their hell. But, humiliated by the
publicity of the result, annoyed at seeing Grandier kindly received by
our good King when he threw himself at his feet at Paris, they saw that
if he triumphed they were lost, and would be universally regarded as
impostors. Already the convent of the Ursulines was looked upon only as
a theatre for disgraceful comedies, and the nuns themselves as shameless
actresses. More than a hundred persons, furious against the Cure,
had compromised themselves in the hope of destroying him. Their plot,
instead of being abandoned, has gained strength by its first check; and
here are the means that have been set to work by his implacable enemies.

“Do you know a man called ‘L’Eminence Grise’, that formidable Capuchin
whom the Cardinal employs in all things, consults upon some, and
always despises? It was to him that the Capuchins of Loudun addressed
themselves. A woman of this place, of low birth, named Hamon, having
been so fortunate as to please the Queen when she passed through Loudun,
was taken into her service. You know the hatred that separates her court
from that of the Cardinal; you know that Anne of Austria and Monsieur de
Richelieu have for some time disputed for the King’s favor, and that,
of her two suns, France never knew in the evening which would rise next
morning. During a temporary eclipse of the Cardinal, a satire appeared,
issuing from the planetary system of the Queen; it was called, ‘La
cordonniere de la seine-mere’. Its tone and language were vulgar; but it
contained things so insulting about the birth and person of the Cardinal
that the enemies of the minister took it up and gave it a publicity
which irritated him. It revealed, it is said, many intrigues and
mysteries which he had deemed impenetrable. He read this anonymous
work, and desired to know its author. It was just at this time that
the Capuchins of this town wrote to Father Joseph that a constant
correspondence between Grandier and La Hamon left no doubt in their
minds as to his being the author of this diatribe. It was in vain that
he had previously published religious books, prayers, and meditations,
the style of which alone ought to have absolved him from having put
his hand to a libel written in the language of the marketplace; the
Cardinal, long since prejudiced against Urbain, was determined to fix
upon him as the culprit. He remembered that when he was only prior of
Coussay, Grandier disputed precedence with him and gained it; I fear
this achievement of precedence in life will make poor Grandier precede
the Cardinal in death also.”

A melancholy smile played upon the lips of the good Abbe as he uttered
this involuntary pun.

“What! do you think this matter will go so far as death?”

“Ay, my son, even to death; they have already taken away all the
documents connected with his former absolution that might have served
for his defence, despite the opposition of his poor mother, who
preserved them as her son’s license to live. Even now they affect to
regard a work against the celibacy of priests, found among his papers,
as destined to propagate schism. It is a culpable production, doubtless,
and the love which dictated it, however pure it may be, is an enormous
sin in a man consecrated to God alone; but this poor priest was far from
wishing to encourage heresy, and it was simply, they say, to appease
the remorse of Mademoiselle de Brou that he composed the work. It was so
evident that his real faults would not suffice to condemn him to death
that they have revived the accusation of sorcery, long since disposed
of; but, feigning to believe this, the Cardinal has established a new
tribunal in this town, and has placed Laubardemont at its head, a sure
sign of death. Heaven grant that you never become acquainted with what
the corruption of governments call coups-d’etat!”

At this moment a terrible shriek sounded from beyond the wall of the
courtyard; the Abbe arose in terror, as did Cinq-Mars.

“It is the cry of a woman,” said the old man.

“‘Tis heartrending!” exclaimed Cinq-Mars. “What is it?” he asked his
people, who had all rushed out into the courtyard.

They answered that they heard nothing further.

“Well, well,” said the Abbe, “make no noise.” He then shut the window,
and put his hands before his eyes.

“Ah, what a cry was that, my son!” he said, with his face of an ashy
paleness--“what a cry! It pierced my very soul; some calamity has
happened. Ah, holy Virgin! it has so agitated me that I can talk with
you no more. Why did I hear it, just as I was speaking to you of your
future career? My dear child, may God bless you! Kneel!”

Cinq-Mars did as he was desired, and knew by a kiss upon his head that
he had been blessed by the old man, who then raised him, saying:

“Go, my son, the time is advancing; they might find you with me. Go,
leave your people and horses here; wrap yourself in a cloak, and go; I
have much to write ere the hour when darkness shall allow me to depart
for Italy.”

They embraced once more, promising to write to each other, and Henri
quitted the house. The Abby, still following him with his eyes from the
window, cried:

“Be prudent, whatever may happen,” and sent him with his hands one more
paternal blessing, saying, “Poor child! poor child!”



CHAPTER IV. THE TRIAL

        Oh, vendetta di Dio, quanto to dei
        Esser temuta da ciascun che legge
        Cio, che fu manifesto agli occhi miei.--DANTE.

Notwithstanding the custom of having secret trials, freely countenanced
by Richelieu, the judges of the Cure of Loudun had resolved that the
court should be open to the public; but they soon repented this measure.
They were all interested in the destruction of Urbain Grandier; but
they desired that the indignation of the country should in some degree
sanction the sentence of death they had received orders to pass and to
carry into effect.

Laubardemont was a kind of bird of prey, whom the Cardinal always let
loose when he required a prompt and sure agent for his vengeance; and on
this occasion he fully justified the choice that had been made of him.
He committed but one error--that of allowing a public trial, contrary
to the usual custom; his object had been to intimidate and to dismay. He
dismayed, indeed, but he created also a feeling of indignant horror.

The throng without the gates had waited there two hours, during which
time the sound of hammers indicated that within the great hall they were
hastily completing their mysterious preparations. At length the archers
laboriously turned upon their hinges the heavy gates opening into the
street, and the crowd eagerly rushed in. The young Cinq-Mars was carried
along with the second enormous wave, and, placed behind a thick column,
stood there, so as to be able to see without being seen. He observed
with vexation that the group of dark-clad citizens was near him; but the
great gates, closing, left the part of the court where the people stood
in such darkness that there was no likelihood of his being recognized.
Although it was only midday, the hall was lighted with torches; but they
were nearly all placed at the farther end, where rose the judges’ bench
behind a long table. The chairs, tables, and steps were all covered with
black cloth, and cast a livid hue over the faces of those near them.
A seat reserved for the prisoner was placed upon the left, and on the
crape robe which covered him flames were represented in gold embroidery
to indicate the nature of the offence. Here sat the accused, surrounded
by archers, with his hands still bound in chains, held by two monks,
who, with simulated terror, affected to start from him at his slightest
motion, as if they held a tiger or enraged wolf, or as if the flames
depicted on his robe could communicate themselves to their clothing.
They also carefully kept his face from being seen in the least degree by
the people.

The impassible countenance of M. de Laubardemont was there to dominate
the judges of his choice; almost a head taller than any of them, he
sat upon a seat higher than theirs, and each of his glassy and uneasy
glances seemed to convey a command. He wore a long, full scarlet robe,
and a black cap covered his head; he seemed occupied in arranging
papers, which he then passed to the judges. The accusers, all
ecclesiastics, sat upon the right hand of the judges; they wore their
albs and stoles. Father Lactantius was distinguishable among them by
his simple Capuchin habit, his tonsure, and the extreme hardness of
his features. In a side gallery sat the Bishop of Poitiers, hidden from
view; other galleries were filled with veiled women. Below the bench of
judges a group of men and women, the dregs of the populace, stood behind
six young Ursuline nuns, who seemed full of disgust at their proximity;
these were the witnesses.

The rest of the hall was filled with an enormous crowd, gloomy and
silent, clinging to the arches, the gates, and the beams, and full of
a terror which communicated itself to the judges, for it arose from an
interest in the accused. Numerous archers, armed with long pikes, formed
an appropriate frame for this lugubrious picture.

At a sign from the President, the witnesses withdrew through a narrow
door opened for them by an usher. As the Superior of the Ursulines
passed M. de Laubardemont she was heard to say to him, “You have
deceived me, Monsieur.” He remained immovable, and she went on. A
profound silence reigned throughout the whole assembly.

Rising with all the gravity he could assume, but still with visible
agitation, one of the judges, named Houmain, judge-Advocate of Orleans,
read a sort of indictment in a voice so low and hoarse that it was
impossible to follow it. He made himself heard only when what he had to
say was intended to impose upon the minds of the people. He divided
the evidence into two classes: one, the depositions of seventy-two
witnesses; the other, more convincing, that resulting from “the
exorcisms of the reverend fathers here present,” said he, crossing
himself.

Fathers Lactantius, Barre, and Mignon bowed low, repeating the sacred
sign.

“Yes, my lords,” said Houmain, addressing the judges, “this bouquet of
white roses and this manuscript, signed with the blood of the magician,
a counterpart of the contract he has made with Lucifer, and which he
was obliged to carry about him in order to preserve his power, have
been recognized and brought before you. We read with horror these words
written at the bottom of the parchment: ‘The original is in hell, in
Lucifer’s private cabinet.’”

A roar of laughter, which seemed to come from stentorian lungs, was
heard in the throng. The president reddened, and made a sign to
the archers, who in vain endeavored to discover the disturber. The
judge-Advocate continued:

“The demons have been forced to declare their names by the mouths of
their victims. Their names and deeds are deposited upon this table. They
are called Astaroth, of the order of Seraphim; Eazas, Celsus, Acaos,
Cedron, Asmodeus, of the order of Thrones; Alex, Zebulon, Cham, Uriel,
and Achas, of the order of Principalities, and so on, for their number
is infinite. For their actions, who among us has not been a witness of
them?”

A prolonged murmur arose from the gathering, but, upon some halberdiers
advancing, all became silent.

“We have seen, with grief, the young and respectable Superior of the
Ursulines tear her bosom with her own hands and grovel in the dust;
we have seen the sisters, Agnes, Claire, and others, deviate from the
modesty of their sex by impassioned gestures and unseemly laughter. When
impious men have inclined to doubt the presence of the demons, and we
ourselves felt our convictions shaken, because they refused to answer
to unknown questions in Greek or Arabic, the reverend fathers have, to
establish our belief, deigned to explain to us that the malignity of
evil spirits being extreme, it was not surprising that they should feign
this ignorance in order that they might be less pressed with questions;
and that in their answers they had committed various solecisms and other
grammatical faults in order to bring contempt upon themselves, so that
out of this disdain the holy doctors might leave them in quiet. Their
hatred is so inveterate that just before performing one of their
miraculous feats, they suspended a rope from a beam in order to involve
the reverend personages in a suspicion of fraud, whereas it has been
deposed on oath by credible people that there never had been a cord in
that place.

“But, my lords, while Heaven was thus miraculously explaining itself by
the mouths of its holy interpreters, another light has just been
thrown upon us. At the very time the judges were absorbed in profound
meditation, a loud cry was heard near the hall of council; and upon
going to the spot, we found the body of a young lady of high birth. She
had just exhaled her last breath in the public street, in the arms of
the reverend Father Mignon, Canon; and we learned from the said father
here present, and from several other grave personages, that, suspecting
the young lady to be possessed, by reason of the current rumor for some
time past of the admiration Urbain Grandier had for her, an idea of
testing it happily occurred to the Canon, who suddenly said, approaching
her, ‘Grandier has just been put to death,’ whereat she uttered one loud
scream and fell dead, deprived by the demon of the time necessary for
giving her the assistance of our holy Mother, the Catholic Church.”

A murmur of indignation arose from the crowd, among whom the word
“Assassin” was loudly reechoed; the halberdiers commanded silence with
a loud voice, but it was obtained rather by the judge resuming his
address, the general curiosity triumphing.

“Oh, infamy!” he continued, seeking to fortify himself by exclamations;
“upon her person was found this work, written by the hand of Urbain
Grandier,” and he took from among his papers a book bound in parchment.

“Heavens!” cried Urbain from his seat.

“Look to your prisoner!” cried the judge to the archers who surrounded
him.

“No doubt the demon is about to manifest himself,” said Father
Lactantius, in a sombre voice; “tighten his bonds.” He was obeyed.

The judge-Advocate continued, “Her name was Madeleine de Brou, aged
nineteen.”

“O God! this is too much!” cried the accused, as he fell fainting on the
ground.

The assembly was deeply agitated; for a moment there was an absolute
tumult.

“Poor fellow! he loved her,” said some.

“So good a lady!” cried the women.

Pity began to predominate. Cold water was thrown upon Grandier, without
his being taken from the court, and he was tied to his seat. The
Judge-Advocate went on:

“We are directed to read the beginning of this book to the court,” and
he read as follows:

   “‘It is for thee, dear and gentle Madeleine, in order to set at rest
   thy troubled conscience, that I have described in this book one
   thought of my soul. All those thoughts tend to thee, celestial
   creature, because in thee they return to the aim and object of my
   whole existence; but the thought I send thee, as ‘twere a flower,
   comes from thee, exists only in thee, and returns to thee alone.

   “‘Be not sad because thou lovest me; be not afflicted because I
   adore thee. The angels of heaven, what is it that they do? The
   souls of the blessed, what is it that is promised them? Are we less
   pure than the angels? Are our souls less separated from the earth
   than they will be after death? Oh, Madeleine, what is there in us
   wherewith the Lord can be displeased? Can it be that we pray
   together, that with faces prostrate in the dust before His altars,
   we ask for early death to take us while yet youth and love are ours?
   Or that, musing together beneath the funereal trees of the
   churchyard, we yearned for one grave, smiling at the idea of death,
   and weeping at life? Or that, when thou kneelest before me at the
   tribunal of penitence, and, speaking in the presence of God, canst
   find naught of evil to reveal to me, so wholly have I kept thy soul
   in the pure regions of heaven? What, then, could offend our
   Creator? Perhaps--yes! perhaps some spirit of heaven may have
   envied me my happiness when on Easter morn I saw thee kneeling
   before me, purified by long austerities from the slight stain which
   original sin had left in thee! Beautiful, indeed, wert thou! Thy
   glance sought thy God in heaven, and my trembling hand held His
   image to thy pure lips, which human lip had never dared to breathe
   upon. Angelic being! I alone participated in the secret of the
   Lord, in the one secret of the entire purity of thy soul; I it was
   that united thee to thy Creator, who at that moment descended also
   into my bosom. Ineffable espousals, of which the Eternal himself
   was the priest, you alone were permitted between the virgin and her
   pastor! the sole joy of each was to see eternal happiness beginning
   for the other, to inhale together the perfumes of heaven, to drink
   in already the harmony of the spheres, and to feel assured that our
   souls, unveiled to God and to ourselves alone, were worthy together
   to adore Him.

   “‘What scruple still weighs upon thy soul, O my sister? Dost thou
   think I have offered too high a worship to thy virtue? Fearest thou
   so pure an admiration should deter me from that of the Lord?’”

Houmain had reached this point when the door through which the witnesses
had withdrawn suddenly opened. The judges anxiously whispered together.
Laubardemont, uncertain as to the meaning of this, signed to the fathers
to let him know whether this was some scene executed by their orders;
but, seated at some distance from him, and themselves taken by surprise,
they could not make him understand that they had not prepared this
interruption. Besides, ere they could exchange looks, to the amazement
of the assembly, three women, ‘en chemise’, with naked feet, each with
a cord round her neck and a wax taper in her hand, came through the door
and advanced to the middle of the platform. It was the Superior of the
Ursulines, followed by Sisters Agnes and Claire. Both the latter were
weeping; the Superior was very pale, but her bearing was firm, and her
eyes were fixed and tearless. She knelt; her companions followed
her example. Everything was in such confusion that no one thought of
checking them; and in a clear, firm voice she pronounced these words,
which resounded in every corner of the hall:

“In the name of the Holy Trinity, I, Jeanne de Belfiel, daughter of the
Baron de Cose, I, the unworthy Superior of the Convent of the Ursulines
of Loudun, ask pardon of God and man for the crime I have committed in
accusing the innocent Urbain Grandier. My possession was feigned, my
words were dictated; remorse overwhelms me.”

“Bravo!” cried the spectators, clapping their hands. The judges arose;
the archers, in doubt, looked at the president; he shook in every limb,
but did not change countenance.

“Let all be silent,” he said, in a sharp voice; “archers, do your duty.”

This man felt himself supported by so strong a hand that nothing could
affright him--for no thought of Heaven ever visited him.

“What think you, my fathers?” said he, making a sign to the monks.

“That the demon seeks to save his friend. Obmutesce, Satanas!” cried
Father Lactantius, in a terrible voice, affecting to exorcise the
Superior.

Never did fire applied to gunpowder produce an effect more instantaneous
than did these two words. Jeanne de Belfiel started up in all the beauty
of twenty, which her awful nudity served to augment; she seemed a soul
escaped from hell appearing to, her seducer. With her dark eyes she cast
fierce glances upon the monks; Lactantius lowered his beneath that look.
She took two steps toward him with her bare feet, beneath which the
scaffolding rung, so energetic was her movement; the taper seemed, in
her hand, the sword of the avenging angel.

“Silence, impostor!” she cried, with warmth; “the demon who possessed me
was yourself. You deceived me; you said he was not to be tried. To-day,
for the first time, I know that he is to be tried; to-day, for the first
time, I know that he is to be murdered. And I will speak!”

“Woman, the demon bewilders thee.”

“Say, rather, that repentance enlightens me. Daughters, miserable as
myself, arise; is he not innocent?”

“We swear he is,” said the two young lay sisters, still kneeling and
weeping, for they were not animated with so strong a resolution as that
of the Superior.

Agnes, indeed, had hardly uttered these words when turning toward the
people, she cried, “Help me! they will punish me; they will kill me!”
 And hurrying away her companion, she drew her into the crowd, who
affectionately received them. A thousand voices swore to protect them.
Imprecations arose; the men struck their staves against the floor; the
officials dared not prevent the people from passing the sisters on from
one to another into the street.

During this strange scene the amazed and panic-struck judges whispered;
M. Laubardemont looked at the archers, indicating to them the points
they were especially to watch, among which, more particularly, was that
occupied by the group in black. The accusers looked toward the gallery
of the Bishop of Poitiers, but discovered no expression in his dull
countenance. He was one of those old men of whom death appears to take
possession ten years before all motion entirely ceases in them. His eyes
seemed veiled by a half sleep; his gaping mouth mumbled a few vague
and habitual words of prayer without meaning or application; the entire
amount of intelligence he retained was the ability to distinguish the
man who had most power, and him he obeyed, regardless at what price. He
had accordingly signed the sentence of the doctors of the Sorbonne
which declared the nuns possessed, without even deducing thence the
consequence of the death of Urbain; the rest seemed to him one of those
more or less lengthy ceremonies, to which he paid not the slightest
attention--accustomed as he was to see and live among them, himself an
indispensable part and parcel of them. He therefore gave no sign of life
on this occasion, merely preserving an air at once perfectly noble and
expressionless.

Meanwhile, Father Lactantius, having had a moment to recover from the
sudden attack made upon him, turned toward the president and said:

“Here is a clear proof, sent us by Heaven, of the possession, for the
Superior never before has forgotten the modesty and severity of her
order.”

“Would that all the world were here to see me!” said Jeanne de Belfiel,
firm as ever. “I can not be sufficiently humiliated upon earth, and
Heaven will reject me, for I have been your accomplice.”

Perspiration appeared upon the forehead of Laubardemont, but he tried
to recover his composure. “What absurd tale is this, Sister; what has
influenced you herein?”

The voice of the girl became sepulchral; she collected all her strength,
pressed her hand upon her heart as if she desired to stay its throbbing,
and, looking at Urbain Grandier, answered, “Love.”

A shudder ran through the assembly. Urbain, who since he had fainted had
remained with his head hanging down as if dead, slowly raised his
eyes toward her, and returned entirely to life only to undergo a fresh
sorrow. The young penitent continued:

“Yes, the love which he rejected, which he never fully knew, which
I have breathed in his discourses, which my eyes drew in from his
celestial countenance, which his very counsels against it have
increased.

“Yes, Urbain is pure as an angel, but good as a man who has loved. I
knew not that he had loved! It is you,” she said more energetically,
pointing to Lactantius, Barre, and Mignon, and changing her passionate
accents for those of indignation--“it is you who told me that he loved;
you, who this morning have too cruelly avenged me by killing my rival
with a word. Alas, I only sought to separate them! It was a crime; but,
by my mother, I am an Italian! I burned with love, with jealousy; you
allowed me to see Urbain, to have him as a friend, to see him daily.”
 She was silent for a moment, then exclaimed, “People, he is innocent!
Martyr, pardon me, I embrace thy feet!”

She prostrated herself before Urbain and burst into a torrent of tears.

Urbain raised his closely bound hands, and giving her his benediction,
said, gently:

“Go, Sister; I pardon thee in the name of Him whom I shall soon see. I
have before said to you, and you now see, that the passions work much
evil, unless we seek to turn them toward heaven.”

The blood rose a second time to Laubardemont’s forehead. “Miscreant!” he
exclaimed, “darest thou pronounce the words of the Church?”

“I have not quitted her bosom,” said Urbain.

“Remove the girl,” said the President.

When the archers went to obey, they found that she had tightened the
cord round her neck with such force that she was of a livid hue and
almost lifeless. Fear had driven all the women from the assembly; many
had been carried out fainting, but the hall was no less crowded. The
ranks thickened, for the men out of the streets poured in.

The judges arose in terror, and the president attempted to have the
hall cleared; but the people, putting on their hats, stood in alarming
immobility. The archers were not numerous enough to repel them. It
became necessary to yield; and accordingly Laubardemont in an agitated
voice announced that the council would retire for half an hour. He broke
up the sitting; the people remained gloomily, each man fixed firmly to
his place.



BOOK 2.



CHAPTER V. THE MARTYRDOM

     ‘La torture interroge, et la douleur repond.’
               RAYNOURARD, Les Templiers.

The continuous interest of this half-trial, its preparations, its
interruptions, all had held the minds of the people in such attention
that no private conversations had taken place. Some irrepressible cries
had been uttered, but simultaneously, so that no man could accuse his
neighbor. But when the people were left to themselves, there was an
explosion of clamorous sentences.

There was at this period enough of primitive simplicity among the
lower classes for them to be persuaded by the mysterious tales of the
political agents who were deluding them; so that a large portion of the
throng in the hall of trial, not venturing to change their judgment,
though upon the manifest evidence just given them, awaited in painful
suspense the return of the judges, interchanging with an air of mystery
and inane importance the usual remarks prompted by imbecility on such
occasions.

“One does not know what to think, Monsieur?”

“Truly, Madame, most extraordinary things have happened.”

“We live in strange times!”

“I suspected this; but, i’ faith, it is not wise to say what one
thinks.”

“We shall see what we shall see,” and so on--the unmeaning chatter of
the crowd, which merely serves to show that it is at the command of the
first who chooses to sway it. Stronger words were heard from the group
in black.

“What! shall we let them do as they please, in this manner? What! dare
to burn our letter to the King!”

“If the King knew it!”

“The barbarian impostors! how skilfully is their plot contrived! What!
shall murder be committed under our very eyes? Shall we be afraid of
these archers?”

“No, no, no!” rang out in trumpet-like tones.

Attention was turned toward the young advocate, who, standing on a
branch, began tearing to pieces a roll of paper; then he cried:

“Yes, I tear and scatter to the winds the defence I had prepared for the
accused. They have suppressed discussion; I am not allowed to speak for
him. I can only speak to you, people; I rejoice that I can do so. You
heard these infamous judges. Which of them can hear the truth? Which of
them is worthy to listen to an honest man? Which of them will dare to
meet his gaze? But what do I say? They all know the truth. They carry
it in their guilty breasts; it stings their hearts like a serpent. They
tremble in their lair, where doubtless they are devouring their victim;
they tremble because they have heard the cries of three deluded women.
What was I about to do? I was about to speak in behalf of Urbain
Grandier! But what eloquence could equal that of those unfortunates?
What words could better have shown you his innocence? Heaven has taken
up arms for him in bringing them to repentance and to devotion; Heaven
will finish its work--”

“Vade retro, Satanas,” was heard through a high window in the hall.

Fournier stopped for a moment, then said:

“You hear these voices parodying the divine language? If I mistake not,
these instruments of an infernal power are, by this song, preparing some
new spell.”

“But,” cried those who surrounded him, “what shall we do? What have they
done with him?”

“Remain here; be immovable, be silent,” replied the young advocate. “The
inertia of a people is all-powerful; that is its true wisdom, that its
strength. Observe them closely, and in silence; and you will make them
tremble.”

“They surely will not dare to appear here again,” said the Comte du
Lude.

“I should like to look once more at the tall scoundrel in red,” said
Grand-Ferre, who had lost nothing of what had occurred.

“And that good gentleman, the Cure,” murmured old Father Guillaume
Leroux, looking at all his indignant parishioners, who were talking
together in a low tone, measuring and counting the archers, ridiculing
their dress, and beginning to point them out to the observation of the
other spectators.

Cinq-Mars, still leaning against the pillar behind which he had first
placed himself, still wrapped in his black cloak, eagerly watched all
that passed, lost not a word of what was said, and filled his heart with
hate and bitterness. Violent desires for slaughter and revenge, a vague
desire to strike, took possession of him, despite himself; this is the
first impression which evil produces on the soul of a young man. Later,
sadness takes the place of fury, then indifference and scorn, later
still, a calculating admiration for great villains who have been
successful; but this is only when, of the two elements which constitute
man, earth triumphs over spirit.

Meanwhile, on the right of the hall near the judges’ platform, a group
of women were watching attentively a child about eight years old, who
had taken it into his head to climb up to a cornice by the aid of his
sister Martine, whom we have seen the subject of jest with the young
soldier, Grand-Ferre. The child, having nothing to look at after the
court had left the hall, had climbed to a small window which admitted a
faint light, and which he imagined to contain a swallow’s nest or some
other treasure for a boy; but after he was well established on the
cornice, his hands grasping the bars of an old shrine of Jerome, he
wished himself anywhere else, and cried out:

“Oh, sister, sister, lend me your hand to get down!”

“What do you see there?” asked Martine.

“Oh, I dare not tell; but I want to get down,” and he began to cry.

“Stay there, my child; stay there!” said all the women. “Don’t be
afraid; tell us all that you see.”

“Well, then, they’ve put the Cure between two great boards that squeeze
his legs, and there are cords round the boards.”

“Ah! that is the rack,” said one of the townsmen. “Look again, my little
friend, what do you see now?”

The child, more confident, looked again through the window, and then,
withdrawing his head, said:

“I can not see the Cure now, because all the judges stand round him, and
are looking at him, and their great robes prevent me from seeing. There
are also some Capuchins, stooping down to whisper to him.”

Curiosity attracted more people to the boy’s perch; every one was
silent, waiting anxiously to catch his words, as if their lives depended
on them.

“I see,” he went on, “the executioner driving four little pieces of
wood between the cords, after the Capuchins have blessed the hammer and
nails. Ah, heavens! Sister, how enraged they seem with him, because he
will not speak. Mother! mother! give me your hand, I want to come down!”

Instead of his mother, the child, upon turning round, saw only men’s
faces, looking up at him with a mournful eagerness, and signing him
to go on. He dared not descend, and looked again through the window,
trembling.

“Oh! I see Father Lactantius and Father Barre themselves forcing in more
pieces of wood, which squeeze his legs. Oh, how pale he is! he seems
praying. There, his head falls back, as if he were dying! Oh, take me
away!”

And he fell into the arms of the young Advocate, of M. du Lude, and of
Cinq-Mars, who had come to support him.

“Deus stetit in synagoga deorum: in medio autem Deus dijudicat--”
 chanted strong, nasal voices, issuing from the small window, which
continued in full chorus one of the psalms, interrupted by blows of the
hammer--an infernal deed beating time to celestial songs. One might have
supposed himself near a smithy, except that the blows were dull, and
manifested to the ear that the anvil was a man’s body.

“Silence!” said Fournier, “He speaks. The chanting and the blows stop.”

A weak voice within said, with difficulty, “Oh, my fathers, mitigate the
rigor of your torments, for you will reduce my soul to despair, and I
might seek to destroy myself!”

At this the fury of the people burst forth like an explosion, echoing
along the vaulted roofs; the men sprang fiercely upon the platform,
thrust aside the surprised and hesitating archers; the unarmed crowd
drove them back, pressed them, almost suffocated them against the walls,
and held them fast, then dashed against the doors which led to the
torture chamber, and, making them shake beneath their blows, threatened
to drive them in; imprecations resounded from a thousand menacing voices
and terrified the judges within.

“They are gone; they have taken him away!” cried a man who had climbed
to the little window.

The multitude at once stopped short, and changing the direction of their
steps, fled from this detestable place and spread rapidly through the
streets, where an extraordinary confusion prevailed.

Night had come on during the long sitting, and the rain was pouring in
torrents. The darkness was terrifying. The cries of women slipping on
the pavement or driven back by the horses of the guards; the shouts
of the furious men; the ceaseless tolling of the bells which had been
keeping time with the strokes of the question; the roll of distant
thunder--all combined to increase the disorder.

   [Torture [‘Question’) was regulated in scrupulous detail by Holy
   Mother The Church: The ordinary question was regulated for minor
   infractions and used for interrogating women and children. For more
   serious crimes the suspect (and sometimes the witnesses) were put to
   the extraordinary question by the officiating priests. D.W.]

If the ear was astonished, the eyes were no less so. A few dismal
torches lighted up the corners of the streets; their flickering gleams
showed soldiers, armed and mounted, dashing along, regardless of the
crowd, to assemble in the Place de St. Pierre; tiles were sometimes
thrown at them on their way, but, missing the distant culprit, fell upon
some unoffending neighbor. The confusion was bewildering, and became
still more so, when, hurrying through all the streets toward the Place
de St. Pierre, the people found it barricaded on all sides, and filled
with mounted guards and archers. Carts, fastened to the posts at each
corner, closed each entrance, and sentinels, armed with arquebuses, were
stationed close to the carts. In the centre of the Place rose a pile
composed of enormous beams placed crosswise upon one another, so as
to form a perfect square; these were covered with a whiter and lighter
wood; an enormous stake arose from the centre of the scaffold. A man
clothed in red and holding a lowered torch stood near this sort of mast,
which was visible from a long distance. A huge chafing-dish, covered on
account of the rain, was at his feet.

At this spectacle, terror inspired everywhere a profound silence; for
an instant nothing was heard but the sound of the rain, which fell in
floods, and of the thunder, which came nearer and nearer.

Meanwhile, Cinq-Mars, accompanied by MM. du Lude and Fournier and all
the more important personages of the town, had sought refuge from the
storm under the peristyle of the church of Ste.-Croix, raised upon
twenty stone steps. The pile was in front, and from this height they
could see the whole of the square. The centre was entirely clear, large
streams of water alone traversed it; but all the windows of the houses
were gradually lighted up, and showed the heads of the men and women who
thronged them.

The young D’Effiat sorrowfully contemplated this menacing preparation.
Brought up in sentiments of honor, and far removed from the black
thoughts which hatred and ambition arouse in the heart of man, he could
not conceive that such wrong could be done without some powerful and
secret motive. The audacity of such a condemnation seemed to him so
enormous that its very cruelty began to justify it in his eyes; a secret
horror crept into his soul, the same that silenced the people. He almost
forgot the interest with which the unhappy Urbain had inspired him, in
thinking whether it were not possible that some secret correspondence
with the infernal powers had justly provoked such excessive severity;
and the public revelations of the nuns, and the statement of his
respected tutor, faded from his memory, so powerful is success, even
in the eyes of superior men! so strongly does force impose upon men,
despite the voice of conscience!

The young traveller was asking himself whether it were not probable that
the torture had forced some monstrous confession from the accused, when
the obscurity which surrounded the church suddenly ceased. Its two
great doors were thrown open; and by the light of an infinite number
of flambeaux, appeared all the judges and ecclesiastics, surrounded by
guards. Among them was Urbain, supported, or rather carried, by six men
clothed as Black Penitents--for his limbs, bound with bandages saturated
with blood, seemed broken and incapable of supporting him. It was at
most two hours since Cinq-Mars had seen him, and yet he could hardly
recognize the face he had so closely observed at the trial. All color,
all roundness of form had disappeared from it; a livid pallor covered
a skin yellow and shining like ivory; the blood seemed to have left his
veins; all the life that remained within him shone from his dark eyes,
which appeared to have grown twice as large as before, as he looked
languidly around him; his long, chestnut hair hung loosely down his neck
and over a white shirt, which entirely covered him--or rather a sort
of robe with large sleeves, and of a yellowish tint, with an odor of
sulphur about it; a long, thick cord encircled his neck and fell upon
his breast. He looked like an apparition; but it was the apparition of a
martyr.

Urbain stopped, or, rather, was set down upon the peristyle of the
church; the Capuchin Lactantius placed a lighted torch in his right
hand, and held it there, as he said to him, with his hard inflexibility:

“Do penance, and ask pardon of God for thy crime of magic.”

The unhappy man raised his voice with great difficulty, and with his
eyes to heaven said:

“In the name of the living God, I cite thee, Laubardemont, false judge,
to appear before Him in three years. They have taken away my confessor,
and I have been fain to pour out my sins into the bosom of God Himself,
for my enemies surround me. I call that God of mercy to witness I never
have dealt in magic. I have known no mysteries but those of the Catholic
religion, apostolic and Roman, in which I die; I have sinned much
against myself, but never against God and our Lord--”

“Cease!” cried the Capuchin, affecting to close his mouth ere he could
pronounce the name of the Saviour. “Obdurate wretch, return to the demon
who sent thee!”

He signed to four priests, who, approaching with sprinklers in their
hands, exorcised with holy water the air the magician breathed, the
earth he touched, the wood that was to burn him. During this ceremony,
the judge-Advocate hastily read the decree, dated the 18th of August,
1639, declaring Urbain Grandier duly attainted and convicted of the
crime of sorcery, witchcraft, and possession, in the persons of sundry
Ursuline nuns of Loudun, and others, laymen, etc.

The reader, dazzled by a flash of lightning, stopped for an instant,
and, turning to M. de Laubardemont, asked whether, considering the awful
weather, the execution could not be deferred till the next day.

“The decree,” coldly answered Laubardemont, “commands execution within
twenty-four hours. Fear not the incredulous people; they will soon be
convinced.”

All the most important persons of the town and many strangers were under
the peristyle, and now advanced, Cinq-Mars among them.

“The magician never has been able to pronounce the name of the Saviour,
and repels his image.”

Lactantius at this moment issued from the midst of the Penitents, with
an enormous iron crucifix in his hand, which he seemed to hold with
precaution and respect; he extended it to the lips of the sufferer,
who indeed threw back his head, and collecting all his strength, made
a gesture with his arm, which threw the cross from the hands of the
Capuchin.

“You see,” cried the latter, “he has thrown down the cross!”

A murmur arose, the meaning of which was doubtful.

“Profanation!” cried the priests.

The procession moved toward the pile.

Meanwhile, Cinq-Mars, gliding behind a pillar, had eagerly watched all
that passed; he saw with astonishment that the cross, in falling upon
the steps, which were more exposed to the rain than the platform, smoked
and made a noise like molten lead when thrown into water. While the
public attention was elsewhere engaged, he advanced and touched it
lightly with his bare hand, which was immediately scorched. Seized with
indignation, with all the fury of a true heart, he took up the cross
with the folds of his cloak, stepped up to Laubardemont, and, striking
him with it on the forehead, cried:

“Villain, I brand thee with the mark of this red-hot iron!”

The crowd heard these words and rushed forward.

“Arrest this madman!” cried the unworthy magistrate.

He was himself seized by the hands of men who cried, “Justice! justice,
in the name of the King!”

“We are lost!” said Lactantius; “to the pile, to the pile!”

The Penitents dragged Urbain toward the Place, while the judges and
archers reentered the church, struggling with the furious citizens; the
executioner, having no time to tie up the victim, hastened to lay him
on the wood, and to set fire to it. But the rain still fell in torrents,
and each piece of wood had no sooner caught the flame than it became
extinguished. In vain did Lactantius and the other canons themselves
seek to stir up the fire; nothing could overcome the water which fell
from heaven.

Meanwhile, the tumult which had begun in the peristyle of the church
extended throughout the square. The cry of “Justice!” was repeated
and circulated, with the information of what had been discovered; two
barricades were forced, and despite three volleys of musketry, the
archers were gradually driven back toward the centre of the square. In
vain they spurred their horses against the crowd; it overwhelmed them
with its swelling waves. Half an hour passed in this struggle, the
guards still receding toward the pile, which they concealed as they
pressed closer upon it.

“On! on!” cried a man; “we will deliver him; do not strike the soldiers,
but let them fall back. See, Heaven will not permit him to die! The
fire is out; now, friend, one effort more! That is well! Throw down that
horse! Forward! On!”

The guard was broken and dispersed on all sides. The crowd rushed to
the pile, but no more light was there: all had disappeared, even the
executioner. They tore up and threw aside the beams; one of them
was still burning, and its light showed under a mass of ashes and
ensanguined mire a blackened hand, preserved from the fire by a large
iron bracelet and chain. A woman had the courage to open it; the fingers
clasped a small ivory cross and an image of St. Magdalen.

“These are his remains,” she said, weeping.

“Say, the relics of a martyr!” exclaimed a citizen, baring his head.



CHAPTER VI. THE DREAM

Meanwhile, Cinq-Mars, amid the excitement which his outbreak had
provoked, felt his left arm seized by a hand as hard as iron, which,
drawing him from the crowd to the foot of the steps, pushed him behind
the wall of the church, and he then saw the dark face of old Grandchamp,
who said to him in a sharp voice:

“Sir, your attack upon thirty musketeers in a wood at Chaumont was
nothing, because we were near you, though you knew it not, and,
moreover, you had to do with men of honor; but here ‘tis different. Your
horses and people are at the end of the street; I request you to mount
and leave the town, or to send me back to Madame la Marechale, for I am
responsible for your limbs, which you expose so freely.”

Cinq-Mars was somewhat astonished at this rough mode of having a service
done him, was not sorry to extricate himself thus from the affair,
having had time to reflect how very awkward it might be for him to be
recognized, after striking the head of the judicial authority, the agent
of the very Cardinal who was to present him to the King. He observed
also that around him was assembled a crowd of the lowest class of
people, among whom he blushed to find himself. He therefore followed
his old domestic without argument, and found the other three servants
waiting for him. Despite the rain and wind he mounted, and was soon upon
the highroad with his escort, having put his horse to a gallop to avoid
pursuit.

He had, however, hardly left Loudun when the sandy road, furrowed by
deep ruts completely filled with water, obliged him to slacken his pace.
The rain continued to fall heavily, and his cloak was almost saturated.
He felt a thicker one thrown over his shoulders; it was his old valet,
who had approached him, and thus exhibited toward him a maternal
solicitude.

“Well, Grandchamp,” said Cinq-Mars, “now that we are clear of the riot,
tell me how you came to be there when I had ordered you to remain at the
Abbe’s.”

“Parbleu, Monsieur!” answered the old servant, in a grumbling tone,
“do you suppose that I should obey you any more than I did Monsieur le
Marechal? When my late master, after telling me to remain in his tent,
found me behind him in the cannon’s smoke, he made no complaint, because
he had a fresh horse ready when his own was killed, and he only scolded
me for a moment in his thoughts; but, truly, during the forty years I
served him, I never saw him act as you have in the fortnight I have been
with you. Ah!” he added with a sigh, “things are going strangely; and if
we continue thus, there’s no knowing what will be the end of it.”

“But knowest thou, Grandchamp, that these scoundrels had made the
crucifix red hot?--a thing at which no honest man would have been less
enraged than I.”

“Except Monsieur le Marechal, your father, who would not have done at
all what you have done, Monsieur.”

“What, then, would he have done?”

“He would very quietly have let this cure be burned by the other cures,
and would have said to me, ‘Grandchamp, see that my horses have oats,
and let no one steal them’; or, ‘Grandchamp, take care that the rain
does not rust my sword or wet the priming of my pistols’; for Monsieur
le Marechal thought of everything, and never interfered in what did not
concern him. That was his great principle; and as he was, thank Heaven,
alike good soldier and good general, he was always as careful of his
arms as a recruit, and would not have stood up against thirty young
gallants with a dress rapier.”

Cinq-Mars felt the force of the worthy servitor’s epigrammatic scolding,
and feared that he had followed him beyond the wood of Chaumont; but
he would not ask, lest he should have to give explanations or to tell
a falsehood or to command silence, which would at once have been taking
him into confidence on the subject. As the only alternative, he spurred
his horse and rode ahead of his old domestic; but the latter had not yet
had his say, and instead of keeping behind his master, he rode up to his
left and continued the conversation.

“Do you suppose, Monsieur, that I should allow you to go where you
please? No, Monsieur, I am too deeply impressed with the respect I
owe to Madame la Marquise, to give her an opportunity of saying to me:
‘Grandchamp, my son has been killed with a shot or with a sword; why
were you not before him?’ Or, ‘He has received a stab from the stiletto
of an Italian, because he went at night beneath the window of a great
princess; why did you not seize the assassin?’ This would be very
disagreeable to me, Monsieur, for I never have been reproached with
anything of the kind. Once Monsieur le Marechal lent me to his nephew,
Monsieur le Comte, to make a campaign in the Netherlands, because I know
Spanish. I fulfilled the duty with honor, as I always do. When Monsieur
le Comte received a bullet in his heart, I myself brought back his
horses, his mules, his tent, and all his equipment, without so much as
a pocket-handkerchief being missed; and I can assure you that the horses
were as well dressed and harnessed when we reentered Chaumont as if
Monsieur le Comte had been about to go a-hunting. And, accordingly, I
received nothing but compliments and agreeable things from the whole
family, just in the way I like.”

“Well, well, my friend,” said Henri d’Effiat, “I may some day, perhaps,
have these horses to take back; but in the mean time take this great
purse of gold, which I have well-nigh lost two or three times, and thou
shalt pay for me everywhere. The money wearies me.”

“Monsieur le Marechal did not so, Monsieur. He had been superintendent
of finances, and he counted every farthing he paid out of his own hand.
I do not think your estates would have been in such good condition, or
that you would have had so much money to count yourself, had he done
otherwise; have the goodness, therefore, to keep your purse, whose
contents, I dare swear, you do not know.”

“Faith, not I.”

Grandchamp sent forth a profound sigh at his master’s disdainful
exclamation.

“Ah, Monsieur le Marquis! Monsieur le Marquis! When I think that the
great King Henri, before my eyes, put his chamois gloves into his pocket
to keep the rain from spoiling them; when I think that Monsieur de Rosni
refused him money when he had spent too much; when I think--”

“When thou dost think, thou art egregiously tedious, my old friend,”
 interrupted his master; “and thou wilt do better in telling me what that
black figure is that I think I see walking in the mire behind us.”

“It looks like some poor peasant woman who, perhaps, wants alms of us.
She can easily follow us, for we do not go at much of a pace in this
sand, wherein our horses sink up to the hams. We shall go to the Landes
perhaps some day, Monsieur, and you will see a country all the same as
this sandy road, and great, black firs all the way along. It looks
like a churchyard; this is an exact specimen of it. Look, the rain has
ceased, and we can see a little ahead; there is nothing but furze-bushes
on this great plain, without a village or a house. I don’t know where we
can pass the night; but if you will take my advice, you will let us cut
some boughs and bivouac where we are. You shall see how, with a little
earth, I can make a hut as warm as a bed.”

“I would rather go on to the light I see in the horizon,” said
Cinq-Mars; “for I fancy I feel rather feverish, and I am thirsty. But
fall back, I would ride alone; rejoin the others and follow.”

Grandchamp obeyed; he consoled himself by giving Germain, Louis, and
Etienne lessons in the art of reconnoitring a country by night.

Meanwhile, his young master was overcome with fatigue. The violent
emotions of the day had profoundly affected his mind; and the
long journey on horseback, the last two days passed almost without
nourishment, owing to the hurried pressure of events, the heat of the
sun by day, the icy coldness of the night, all contributed to increase
his indisposition and to weary his delicate frame. For three hours he
rode in silence before his people, yet the light he had seen in the
horizon seemed no nearer; at last he ceased to follow it with his eyes,
and his head, feeling heavier and heavier, sank upon his breast. He
gave the reins to his tired horse, which of its own accord followed the
high-road, and, crossing his arms, allowed himself to be rocked by the
monotonous motion of his fellow-traveller, which frequently stumbled
against the large stones that strewed the road. The rain had ceased, as
had the voices of his domestics, whose horses followed in the track of
their master’s. The young man abandoned himself to the bitterness of his
thoughts; he asked himself whether the bright object of his hopes would
not flee from him day by day, as that phosphoric light fled from him
in the horizon, step by step. Was it probable that the young Princess,
almost forcibly recalled to the gallant court of Anne of Austria, would
always refuse the hands, perhaps royal ones, that would be offered to
her? What chance that she would resign herself to renounce a present
throne, in order to wait till some caprice of fortune should realize
romantic hopes, or take a youth almost in the lowest rank of the army
and lift him to the elevation she spoke of, till the age of love should
be passed? How could he be certain that even the vows of Marie de
Gonzaga were sincere?

“Alas!” he said, “perhaps she has blinded herself as to her own
sentiments; the solitude of the country had prepared her soul to receive
deep impressions. I came; she thought I was he of whom she had dreamed.
Our age and my love did the rest. But when at court, she, the companion
of the Queen, has learned to contemplate from an exalted position the
greatness to which I aspire, and which I as yet see only from a
very humble distance; when she shall suddenly find herself in actual
possession of the future she aims at, and measures with a more correct
eye the long road I have to travel; when she shall hear around her vows
like mine, pronounced by lips which could undo me with a word, with a
word destroy him whom she awaits as her husband, her lord--oh, madman
that I have been!--she will see all her folly, and will be incensed at
mine.”

Thus did doubt, the greatest misery of love, begin to torture his
unhappy heart; he felt his hot blood rush to his head and oppress it.
Ever and anon he fell forward upon the neck of his horse, and a half
sleep weighed down his eyes; the dark firs that bordered the road seemed
to him gigantic corpses travelling beside him. He saw, or thought
he saw, the same woman clothed in black, whom he had pointed out to
Grandchamp, approach so near as to touch his horse’s mane, pull his
cloak, and then run off with a jeering laugh; the sand of the road
seemed to him a river running beneath him, with opposing current, back
toward its source. This strange sight dazzled his worn eyes; he closed
them and fell asleep on his horse.

Presently, he felt himself stopped, but he was numbed with cold and
could not move. He saw peasants, lights, a house, a great room into
which they carried him, a wide bed, whose heavy curtains were closed by
Grandchamp; and he fell asleep again, stunned by the fever that whirred
in his ears.

Dreams that followed one another more rapidly than grains of sand before
the wind rushed through his brain; he could not catch them, and moved
restlessly on his bed. Urbain Grandier on the rack, his mother in tears,
his tutor armed, Bassompierre loaded with chains, passed before him,
making signs of farewell; at last, as he slept, he instinctively put his
hand to his head to stay the passing dream, which then seemed to unfold
itself before his eyes like pictures in shifting sands.

He saw a public square crowded with a foreign people, a northern people,
who uttered cries of joy, but they were savage cries; there was a line
of guards, ferocious soldiers--these were Frenchmen. “Come with me,”
 said the soft voice of Marie de Gonzaga, who took his hand. “See, I wear
a diadem; here is thy throne, come with me.” And she hurried him on, the
people still shouting. He went on, a long way. “Why are you sad, if you
are a queen?” he said, trembling. But she was pale, and smiled and spoke
not. She ascended, step after step, up to a throne, and seated herself.
“Mount!” said she, forcibly pulling his hand. But, at every movement,
the massive stairs crumbled beneath his feet, so that he could not
ascend. “Give thanks to love,” she continued; and her hand, now more
powerful, raised him to the throne. The people still shouted. He bowed
low to kiss that helping hand, that adored hand; it was the hand of the
executioner!

“Oh, heavens!” exclaimed Cinq-Mars, as, heaving a deep sigh, he opened
his eyes. A flickering lamp lighted the ruinous chamber of the inn; he
again closed his eyes, for he had seen, seated on his bed, a woman,
a nun, young and beautiful! He thought he was still dreaming, but she
grasped his hand firmly. He opened his burning eyes, and fixed them upon
her.

“Is it you, Jeannede Belfiel? The rain has drenched your veil and your
black hair! Why are you here, unhappy woman?”

“Hark! awake not my Urbain; he sleeps there in the next room. Ay, my
hair is indeed wet, and my feet--see, my feet that were once so white,
see how the mud has soiled them. But I have made a vow--I will not wash
them till I have seen the King, and until he has granted me Urbain’s
pardon. I am going to the army to find him; I will speak to him as
Grandier taught me to speak, and he will pardon him. And listen, I
will also ask thy pardon, for I read it in thy face that thou, too, art
condemned to death. Poor youth! thou art too young to die, thy curling
hair is beautiful; but yet thou art condemned, for thou hast on thy brow
a line that never deceives. The man thou hast struck will kill thee.
Thou hast made too much use of the cross; it is that which will bring
evil upon thee. Thou hast struck with it, and thou wearest it round
thy neck by a hair chain. Nay, hide not thy face; have I said aught
to afflict thee, or is it that thou lovest, young man? Ah, reassure
thyself, I will not tell all this to thy love. I am mad, but I am
gentle, very gentle; and three days ago I was beautiful. Is she also
beautiful? Ah! she will weep some day! Yet, if she can weep, she will be
happy!”

And then suddenly Jeanne began to recite the service for the dead in a
monotonous voice, but with incredible rapidity, still seated on the bed,
and turning the beads of a long rosary.

Suddenly the door opened; she looked up, and fled through another door
in the partition.

“What the devil’s that-an imp or an angel, saying the funeral service
over you, and you under the clothes, as if you were in a shroud?”

This abrupt exclamation came from the rough voice of Grandchamp, who was
so astonished at what he had seen that he dropped the glass of lemonade
he was bringing in. Finding that his master did not answer, he became
still more alarmed, and raised the bedclothes. Cinq-Mars’s face was
crimson, and he seemed asleep, but his old domestic saw that the blood
rushing to his head had almost suffocated him; and, seizing a jug full
of cold water, he dashed the whole of it in his face. This military
remedy rarely fails to effect its purpose, and Cinq-Mars returned to
himself with a start.

“Ah! it is thou, Grandchamp; what frightful dreams I have had!”

“Peste! Monsieur le Marquis, your dreams, on the contrary, are very
pretty ones. I saw the tail of the last as I came in; your choice is not
bad.”

“What dost mean, blockhead?”

“Nay, not a blockhead, Monsieur; I have good eyes, and I have seen what
I have seen. But, really ill as you are, Monsieur le Marechal would
never--”

“Thou art utterly doting, my friend; give me some drink, I am parched
with thirst. Oh, heavens! what a night! I still see all those women.”

“All those women, Monsieur? Why, how many are here?”

“I am speaking to thee of a dream, blockhead. Why standest there like a
post, instead of giving me some drink?”

“Enough, Monsieur; I will get more lemonade.” And going to the door, he
called over the staircase, “Germain! Etienne! Louis!”

The innkeeper answered from below: “Coming, Monsieur, coming; they have
been helping me to catch the madwoman.”

“What mad-woman?” said Cinq-Mars, rising in bed.

The host entered, and, taking off his cotton cap, said, respectfully:
“Oh, nothing, Monsieur le Marquis, only a madwoman that came here last
night on foot, and whom we put in the next room; but she has escaped,
and we have not been able to catch her.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Cinq-Mars, returning to himself and putting his hand to
his eyes, “it was not a dream, then. And my mother, where is she? and
the Marechal, and--Ah! and yet it is but a fearful dream! Leave me.”

As he said this, he turned toward the wall, and again pulled the clothes
over his head.

The innkeeper, in amazement, touched his forehead three times with his
finger, looking at Grandchamp as if to ask him whether his master were
also mad.

Grandchamp motioned him away in silence, and in order to watch the
rest of the night by the side of Cinq-Mars, who was in a deep sleep, he
seated himself in a large armchair, covered with tapestry, and began to
squeeze lemons into a glass of water with an air as grave and severe as
Archimedes calculating the condensing power of his mirrors.



CHAPTER VII. THE CABINET

   Men have rarely the courage to be wholly good or wholly bad.
                         MACHIAVELLI.

Let us leave our young traveller sleeping; he will soon pursue a long
and beautiful route. Since we are at liberty to turn to all points of
the map, we will fix our eyes upon the city of Narbonne.

Behold the Mediterranean, not far distant, washing with its blue waters
the sandy shores. Penetrate into that city resembling Athens; and to
find him who reigns there, follow that dark and irregular street, mount
the steps of the old archiepiscopal palace, and enter the first and
largest of its apartments.

This was a very long salon, lighted by a series of high lancet windows,
of which the upper part only retained the blue, yellow, and red panes
that shed a mysterious light through the apartment. A large round table
occupied its entire breadth, near the great fireplace; around this
table, covered with a colored cloth and scattered with papers and
portfolios, were seated, bending over their pens, eight secretaries
copying letters which were handed to them from a smaller table. Other
men quietly arranged the completed papers in the shelves of a bookcase,
partly filled with books bound in black.

Notwithstanding the number of persons assembled in the room, one might
have heard the movements of the wings of a fly. The only interruption
to the silence was the sound of pens rapidly gliding over paper, and a
shrill voice dictating, stopping every now and then to cough. This
voice proceeded from a great armchair placed beside the fire, which was
blazing, notwithstanding the heat of the season and of the country. It
was one of those armchairs that you still see in old castles, and which
seem made to read one’s self to sleep in, so easy is every part of it.
The sitter sinks into a circular cushion of down; if the head leans
back, the cheeks rest upon pillows covered with silk, and the seat
juts out so far beyond the elbows that one may believe the provident
upholsterers of our forefathers sought to provide that the book should
make no noise in falling so as to awaken the sleeper.

But we will quit this digression, and speak of the man who occupied
the chair, and who was very far from sleeping. He had a broad forehead,
bordered with thin white hair, large, mild eyes, a wan face, to which
a small, pointed, white beard gave that air of subtlety and finesse
noticeable in all the portraits of the period of Louis XIII. His mouth
was almost without lips, which Lavater deems an indubitable sign of an
evil mind, and it was framed in a pair of slight gray moustaches and a
‘royale’--an ornament then in fashion, which somewhat resembled a comma
in form. The old man wore a close red cap, a large ‘robe-dechambre’, and
purple silk stockings; he was no less a personage than Armand Duplessis,
Cardinal de Richelieu.

Near him, around the small table, sat four youths from fifteen to twenty
years of age; these were pages, or domestics, according to the term then
in use, which signified familiars, friends of the house. This custom
was a relic of feudal patronage, which still existed in our manners. The
younger members of high families received wages from the great lords,
and were devoted to their service in all things, challenging the first
comer at the wish of their patron. The pages wrote letters from the
outline previously given them by the Cardinal, and after their master
had glanced at them, passed them to the secretaries, who made fair
copies. The Duke, for his part, wrote on his knee private notes upon
small slips of paper, inserting them in almost all the packets before
sealing them, which he did with his own hand.

He had been writing a short time, when, in a mirror before him, he saw
the youngest of his pages writing something on a sheet of paper much
smaller than the official sheet. He hastily wrote a few words, and
then slipped the paper under the large sheet which, much against his
inclination, he had to fill; but, seated behind the Cardinal, he hoped
that the difficulty with which the latter turned would prevent him
from seeing the little manoeuvre he had tried to exercise with much
dexterity. Suddenly Richelieu said to him, dryly, “Come here, Monsieur
Olivier.”

These words came like a thunder-clap on the poor boy, who seemed about
sixteen. He rose at once, however, and stood before the minister, his
arms hanging at his side and his head lowered.

The other pages and the secretaries stirred no more than soldiers when
a comrade is struck down by a ball, so accustomed were they to this kind
of summons. The present one, however, was more energetic than usual.

“What were you writing?”

“My lord, what your Eminence dictated.”

“What!”

“My lord, the letter to Don Juan de Braganza.”

“No evasions, Monsieur; you were writing something else.”

“My lord,” said the page, with tears in his eyes, “it was a letter to
one of my cousins.”

“Let me see it.”

The page trembled in every limb and was obliged to lean against the
chimney-piece, as he said, in a hardly audible tone, “It is impossible.”

“Monsieur le Vicomte Olivier d’Entraigues,” said the minister, without
showing the least emotion, “you are no longer in my service.” The page
withdrew. He knew that there was no reply; so, slipping his letter into
his pocket, and opening the folding-doors just wide enough to allow his
exit, he glided out like a bird escaped from the cage.

The minister went on writing the note upon his knee.

The secretaries redoubled their silent zeal, when suddenly the two wings
of the door were thrown back and showed, standing in the opening, a
Capuchin, who, bowing, with his arms crossed over his breast, seemed
waiting for alms or for an order to retire. He had a dark complexion,
and was deeply pitted with smallpox; his eyes, mild, but somewhat
squinting, were almost hidden by his thick eyebrows, which met in the
middle of his forehead; on his mouth played a crafty, mischievous, and
sinister smile; his beard was straight and red, and his costume was that
of the order of St. Francis in all its repulsiveness, with sandals on
his bare feet, that looked altogether unfit to tread upon carpet.

Such as he was, however, this personage appeared to create a great
sensation throughout the room; for, without finishing the phrase, the
line, or even the word begun, every person rose and went out by the door
where he was still standing--some saluting him as they passed, others
turning away their heads, and the young pages holding their fingers to
their noses, but not till they were behind him, for they seemed to have
a secret fear of him. When they had all passed out, he entered, making a
profound reverence, because the door was still open; but, as soon as
it was shut, unceremoniously advancing, he seated himself near the
Cardinal, who, having recognized him by the general movement he created,
saluted him with a dry and silent inclination of the head, regarding
him fixedly, as if awaiting some news and unable to avoid knitting his
brows, as at the aspect of a spider or some other disagreeable creature.

The Cardinal could not resist this movement of displeasure, because
he felt himself obliged, by the presence of his agent, to resume those
profound and painful conversations from which he had for some days
been free, in a country whose pure air, favorable to him, had somewhat
soothed the pain of his malady; that malady had changed to a slow fever,
but its intervals were long enough to enable him to forget during its
absence that it must return. Giving, therefore, a little rest to his
hitherto indefatigable mind, he had been awaiting, for the first time in
his life perhaps, without impatience, the return of the couriers he had
sent in all directions, like the rays of a sun which alone gave life and
movement to France. He had not expected the visit he now received,
and the sight of one of those men, whom, to use his own expression, he
“steeped in crime,” rendered all the habitual disquietudes of his
life more present to him, without entirely dissipating the cloud of
melancholy which at that time obscured his thoughts.

The beginning of his conversation was tinged with the gloomy hue of his
late reveries; but he soon became more animated and vigorous than ever,
when his powerful mind had reentered the real world.

His confidant, seeing that he was expected to break the silence, did so
in this abrupt fashion:

“Well, my lord, of what are you thinking?”

“Alas, Joseph, of what should we all think, but of our future happiness
in a better life? For many days I have been reflecting that human
interests have too much diverted me from this great thought; and I
repent me of having spent some moments of my leisure in profane works,
such as my tragedies, ‘Europe’ and ‘Mirame,’ despite the glory they have
already gained me among our brightest minds--a glory which will extend
unto futurity.”

Father Joseph, full of what he had to say, was at first surprised at
this opening; but he knew his master too well to betray his feelings,
and, well skilled in changing the course of his ideas, replied:

“Yes, their merit is very great, and France will regret that these
immortal works are not followed by similar productions.”

“Yes, my dear Joseph; but it is in vain that such men as Boisrobert,
Claveret, Colletet, Corneille, and, above all, the celebrated Mairet,
have proclaimed these tragedies the finest that the present or any past
age has produced. I reproach myself for them, I swear to you, as for a
mortal sin, and I now, in my hours of repose, occupy myself only with my
‘Methode des Controverses’, and my book on the ‘Perfection du Chretien.’
I remember that I am fifty-six years old, and that I have an incurable
malady.”

“These are calculations which your enemies make as precisely as
your Eminence,” said the priest, who began to be annoyed with this
conversation, and was eager to talk of other matters.

The blood mounted to the Cardinal’s face.

“I know it! I know it well!” he said; “I know all their black villainy,
and I am prepared for it. But what news is there?”

“According to our arrangement, my lord, we have removed Mademoiselle
d’Hautefort, as we removed Mademoiselle de la Fayette before her. So far
it is well; but her place is not filled, and the King--”

“Well!”

“The King has ideas which he never had before.”

“Ha! and which come not from me? ‘Tis well, truly,” said the minister,
with an ironic sneer.

“What, my lord, leave the place of the favorite vacant for six whole
days? It is not prudent; pardon me for saying so.”

“He has ideas--ideas!” repeated Richelieu, with a kind of terror; “and
what are they?”

“He talks of recalling the Queen-mother,” said the Capuchin, in a low
voice; “of recalling her from Cologne.”

“Marie de Medicis!” cried the Cardinal, striking the arms of his chair
with his hands. “No, by Heaven, she shall not again set her foot upon
the soil of France, whence I drove her, step by step! England has not
dared to receive her, exiled by me; Holland fears to be crushed by
her; and my kingdom to receive her! No, no, such an idea could not have
originated with himself! To recall my enemy! to recall his mother! What
perfidy! He would not have dared to think of it.”

Then, having mused for a moment, he added, fixing a penetrating look
still full of burning anger upon Father Joseph:

“But in what terms did he express this desire? Tell me his precise
words.”

“He said publicly; and in the presence of Monsieur: ‘I feel that one of
the first duties of a Christian is to be a good son, and I will resist
no longer the murmurs of my conscience.’”

“Christian! conscience! these are not his expressions. It is Father
Caussin--it is his confessor who is betraying me,” cried the Cardinal.
“Perfidious Jesuit! I pardoned thee thy intrigue with La Fayette; but
I will not pass over thy secret counsels. I will have this confessor
dismissed, Joseph; he is an enemy to the State, I see it clearly. But
I myself have acted with negligence for some days past; I have not
sufficiently hastened the arrival of the young d’Effiat, who will
doubtless succeed. He is handsome and intellectual, they say. What a
blunder! I myself merit disgrace. To leave that fox of a Jesuit with
the King, without having given him my secret instructions, without a
hostage, a pledge, or his fidelity to my orders! What neglect! Joseph,
take a pen, and write what I shall dictate for the other confessor, whom
we will choose better. I think of Father Sirmond.”

Father Joseph sat down at the large table, ready to write, and the
Cardinal dictated to him those duties, of a new kind, which shortly
afterward he dared to have given to the King, who received them,
respected them, and learned them by heart as the commandments of the
Church. They have come down to us, a terrible monument of the empire
that a man may seize upon by means of circumstances, intrigues, and
audacity:

   “I. A prince should have a prime minister, and that minister three
   qualities: (1) He should have no passion but for his prince; (2) He
   should be able and faithful; (3) He should be an ecclesiastic.

   “II. A prince ought perfectly to love his prime minister.

   “III. Ought never to change his prime minister.

   “IV. Ought to tell him all things.

   “V. To give him free access to his person.

   “VI. To give him sovereign authority over his people.

   “VII. Great honors and large possessions.

   “VIII. A prince has no treasure more precious than his prime
   minister.

   “IX. A prince should not put faith in what people say against his
   prime minister, nor listen to any such slanders.

   “X. A prince should reveal to his prime minister all that is said
   against him, even though he has been bound to keep it secret.

   “XI. A prince should prefer not only the well-being of the State,
   but also his prime minister, to all his relations.”

Such were the commandments of the god of France, less astonishing in
themselves than the terrible naivete which made him bequeath them to
posterity, as if posterity also must believe in him.

While he dictated his instructions, reading them from a small piece of
paper, written with his own hand, a deep melancholy seemed to possess
him more and more at each word; and when he had ended, he fell back in
his chair, his arms crossed, and his head sunk on his breast.

Father Joseph, dropping his pen, arose and was inquiring whether he were
ill, when he heard issue from the depths of his chest these mournful and
memorable words:

“What utter weariness! what endless trouble! If the ambitious man
could see me, he would flee to a desert. What is my power? A miserable
reflection of the royal power; and what labors to fix upon my star
that incessantly wavering ray! For twenty years I have been in vain
attempting it. I can not comprehend that man. He dare not flee me; but
they take him from me--he glides through my fingers. What things could
I not have done with his hereditary rights, had I possessed them? But,
employing such infinite calculation in merely keeping one’s balance,
what of genius remains for high enterprises? I hold Europe in my hand,
yet I myself am suspended by a trembling hair. What is it to me that
I can cast my eyes confidently over the map of Europe, when all my
interests are concentrated in his narrow cabinet, and its few feet of
space give me more trouble to govern than the whole country besides?
See, then, what it is to be a prime minister! Envy me, my guards, if you
can.”

His features were so distorted as to give reason to fear some accident;
and at the same moment he was seized with a long and violent fit of
coughing, which ended in a slight hemorrhage. He saw that Father Joseph,
alarmed, was about to seize a gold bell that stood on the table, and,
suddenly rising with all the vivacity of a young man, he stopped him,
saying:

“‘Tis nothing, Joseph; I sometimes yield to these fits of depression;
but they do not last long, and I leave them stronger than before. As for
my health, I know my condition perfectly; but that is not the business
in hand. What have you done at Paris? I am glad to know the King has
arrived in Bearn, as I wished; we shall be able to keep a closer watch
upon him. How did you induce him to come away?”

“A battle at Perpignan.”

“That is not bad. Well, we can arrange it for him; that occupation will
do as well as another just now. But the young Queen, what says she?”

“She is still furious against you; her correspondence discovered, the
questioning to which you had subjected her--”

“Bah! a madrigal and a momentary submission on my part will make her
forget that I have separated her from her house of Austria and from the
country of her Buckingham. But how does she occupy herself?”

“In machinations with Monsieur. But as we have his entire confidence,
here are the daily accounts of their interviews.”

“I shall not trouble myself to read them; while the Duc de Bouillon
remains in Italy I have nothing to fear in that quarter. She may have
as many petty plots with Gaston in the chimney-corner as she pleases; he
never got beyond his excellent intentions, forsooth! He carries nothing
into effect but his withdrawal from the kingdom. He has had his third
dismissal; I will manage a fourth for him whenever he pleases; he is not
worth the pistol-shot you had the Comte de Soissons settled with, and
yet the poor Comte had scarce more energy than he.”

And the Cardinal, reseating himself in his chair, began to laugh gayly
enough for a statesman.

“I always laugh when I think of their expedition to Amiens. They had me
between them, Each had fully five hundred gentlemen with him, armed to
the teeth, and all going to despatch me, like Concini; but the great
Vitry was not there. They very quietly let me talk for an hour with them
about the hunt and the Fete Dieu, and neither of them dared make a sign
to their cut-throats. I have since learned from Chavigny that for two
long months they had been waiting that happy moment. For myself,
indeed, I observed nothing, except that little villain, the Abbe de
Gondi,--[Afterward Cardinal de Retz.]--who prowled near me, and seemed
to have something hidden under his sleeve; it was he that made me get
into the coach.”

“Apropos of the Abbe, my lord, the Queen insists upon making him
coadjutor.”

“She is mad! he will ruin her if she connects herself with him; he’s a
musketeer in canonicals, the devil in a cassock. Read his ‘Histoire de
Fiesque’; you may see himself in it. He will be nothing while I live.”

“How is it that with a judgment like yours you bring another ambitious
man of his age to court?”

“That is an entirely different matter. This young Cinq-Mars, my friend,
will be a mere puppet. He will think of nothing but his ruff and his
shoulder-knots; his handsome figure assures me of this. I know that he
is gentle and weak; it was for this reason I preferred him to his elder
brother. He will do whatever we wish.”

“Ah, my lord,” said the monk, with an expression of doubt, “I never
place much reliance on people whose exterior is so calm; the hidden
flame is often all the more dangerous. Recollect the Marechal d’Effiat,
his father.”

“But I tell you he is a boy, and I shall bring him up; while Gondi is
already an accomplished conspirator, an ambitious knave who sticks at
nothing. He has dared to dispute Madame de la Meilleraie with me. Can
you conceive it? He dispute with me! A petty priestling, who has
no other merit than a little lively small-talk and a cavalier air.
Fortunately, the husband himself took care to get rid of him.”

Father Joseph, who listened with equal impatience to his master when
he spoke of his ‘bonnes fortunes’ or of his verses, made, however, a
grimace which he meant to be very sly and insinuating, but which was
simply ugly and awkward; he fancied that the expression of his mouth,
twisted about like a monkey’s, conveyed, “Ah! who can resist your
Eminence?” But his Eminence only read there, “I am a clown who knows
nothing of the great world”; and, without changing his voice, he
suddenly said, taking up a despatch from the table:

“The Duc de Rohan is dead, that is good news; the Huguenots are ruined.
He is a lucky man. I had him condemned by the Parliament of Toulouse
to be torn in pieces by four horses, and here he dies quietly on the
battlefield of Rheinfeld. But what matters? The result is the same.
Another great head is laid low! How they have fallen since that of
Montmorency! I now see hardly any that do not bow before me. We have
already punished almost all our dupes of Versailles; assuredly they have
nothing with which to reproach me. I simply exercise against them the
law of retaliation, treating them as they would have treated me in the
council of the Queen-mother. The old dotard Bassompierre shall be doomed
for perpetual imprisonment, and so shall the assassin Marechal de
Vitry, for that was the punishment they voted me. As for Marillac, who
counselled death, I reserve death for him at the first false step he
makes, and I beg thee, Joseph, to remind me of him; we must be just to
all. The Duc de Bouillon still keeps up his head proudly on account
of his Sedan, but I shall make him yield. Their blindness is truly
marvellous! They think themselves all free to conspire, not perceiving
that they are merely fluttering at the ends of the threads that I hold
in my hand, and which I lengthen now and then to give them air and
space. Did the Huguenots cry out as one man at the death of their dear
duke?”

“Less so than at the affair of Loudun, which is happily concluded.”

“What! Happily? I hope that Grandier is dead?”

“Yes; that is what I meant. Your Eminence may be fully satisfied. All
was settled in twenty-four hours. He is no longer thought of. Only
Laubardemont committed a slight blunder in making the trial public. This
caused a little tumult; but we have a description of the rioters, and
measures have been taken to seek them out.”

“This is well, very well. Urbain was too superior a man to be left
there; he was turning Protestant. I would wager that he would have ended
by abjuring. His work against the celibacy of priests made me conjecture
this; and in cases of doubt, remember, Joseph, it is always best to cut
the tree before the fruit is gathered. These Huguenots, you see, form
a regular republic in the State. If once they had a majority in France,
the monarchy would be lost, and they would establish some popular
government which might be durable.”

“And what deep pain do they daily cause our holy Father the Pope!” said
Joseph.

“Ah,” interrupted the Cardinal, “I see; thou wouldst remind me of his
obstinacy in not giving thee the hat. Be tranquil; I will speak to-day
on the subject to the new ambassador we are sending, the Marechal
d’Estrees, and he will, on his arrival, doubtless obtain that which
has been in train these two years--thy nomination to the cardinalate.
I myself begin to think that the purple would become thee well, for it
does not show blood-stains.”

And both burst into laughter--the one as a master, overwhelming the
assassin whom he pays with his utter scorn; the other as a slave,
resigned to all the humiliation by which he rises.

The laughter which the ferocious pleasantry of the old minister had
excited had hardly subsided, when the door opened, and a page announced
several couriers who had arrived simultaneously from different points.
Father Joseph arose, and, leaning against the wall like an Egyptian
mummy, allowed nothing to appear upon his face but an expression of
stolid contemplation. Twelve messengers entered successively, attired in
various disguises; one appeared to be a Swiss soldier, another a sutler,
a third a master-mason. They had been introduced into the palace by a
secret stairway and corridor, and left the cabinet by a door opposite
that at which they had entered, without any opportunity of meeting one
another or communicating the contents of their despatches. Each laid a
rolled or folded packet of papers on the large table, spoke for a moment
with the Cardinal in the embrasure of a window and withdrew. Richelieu
had risen on the entrance of the first messenger, and, careful to do all
himself, had received them all, listened to all, and with his own hand
had closed the door upon all. When the last was gone, he signed to
Father Joseph, and, without speaking, both proceeded to unfold, or,
rather, to tear open, the packets of despatches, and in a few words
communicated to each other the substance of the letters.

“The Due de Weimar pursues his advantage; the Duc Charles is defeated.
Our General is in good spirits; here are some of his lively remarks at
table. Good!”

“Monseigneur le Vicomte de Turenne has retaken the towns of Lorraine;
and here are his private conversations--”

“Oh! pass over them; they can not be dangerous. He is ever a good and
honest man, in no way mixing himself up with politics; so that some one
gives him a little army to play at chess with, no matter against whom,
he is content. We shall always be good friends.”

“The Long Parliament still endures in England. The Commons pursue
their project; there are massacres in Ireland. The Earl of Strafford is
condemned to death.”

“To death! Horrible!”

“I will read: ‘His Majesty Charles I has not had the courage to sign the
sentence, but he has appointed four commissioners.’”

“Weak king, I abandon thee! Thou shalt have no more of our money. Fall,
since thou art ungrateful! Unhappy Wentworth!”

A tear rose in the eyes of Richelieu as he said this; the man who had
but now played with the lives of so many others wept for a minister
abandoned by his prince. The similarity between that position and his
own affected him, and it was his own case he deplored in the person of
the foreign minister. He ceased to read aloud the despatches that
he opened, and his confidant followed his example. He examined with
scrupulous attention the detailed accounts of the most minute and
secret actions of each person of any importance-accounts which he always
required to be added to the official despatches made by his able spies.
All the despatches to the King passed through his hands, and were
carefully revised so as to reach the King amended to the state in which
he wished him to read them. The private notes were all carefully burned
by the monk after the Cardinal had ascertained their contents. The
latter, however, seemed by no means satisfied, and he was walking
quickly to and fro with gestures expressive of anxiety, when the door
opened, and a thirteenth courier entered. This one seemed a boy hardly
fourteen years old; he held under his arm a packet sealed with black
for the King, and gave to the Cardinal only a small letter, of which
a stolen glance from Joseph could collect but four words. The Cardinal
started, tore the billet into a thousand pieces, and, bending down to
the ear of the boy, spoke to him for a long time; all that Joseph heard
was, as the messenger went out:

“Take good heed to this; not until twelve hours from this time.”

During this aside of the Cardinal, Joseph was occupied in concealing an
infinite number of libels from Flanders and Germany, which the minister
always insisted upon seeing, however bitter they might be to him. In
this respect, he affected a philosophy which he was far from possessing,
and to deceive those around him he would sometimes pretend that his
enemies were not wholly wrong, and would outwardly laugh at their
pleasantries; but those who knew his character better detected bitter
rage lurking under this apparent moderation, and knew that he was never
satisfied until he had got the hostile book condemned by the parliament
to be burned in the Place de Greve, as “injurious to the King, in the
person of his minister, the most illustrious Cardinal,” as we read in
the decrees of the time, and that his only regret was that the author
was not in the place of his book--a satisfaction he gave himself
whenever he could, as in the case of Urbain Grandier.

It was his colossal pride which he thus avenged, without avowing it even
to himself--nay, laboring for a length of time, sometimes for a whole
twelvemonth together, to persuade himself that the interest of the State
was concerned in the matter. Ingenious in connecting his private affairs
with the affairs of France, he had convinced himself that she bled
from the wounds which he received. Joseph, careful not to irritate
his ill-temper at this moment, put aside and concealed a book entitled
‘Mystres Politiques du Cardinal de la Rochelle’; also another,
attributed to a monk of Munich, entitled ‘Questions quolibetiques,
ajustees au temps present, et Impiete Sanglante du dieu Mars’. The
worthy advocate Aubery, who has given us one of the most faithful
histories of the most eminent Cardinal, is transported with rage at the
mere title of the first of these books, and exclaims that “the great
minister had good reason to glorify himself that his enemies, inspired
against their will with the same enthusiasm which conferred the gift of
rendering oracles upon the ass of Balaam, upon Caiaphas and others,
who seemed most unworthy of the gift of prophecy, called him with good
reason Cardinal de la Rochelle, since three years after their writing
he reduced that town; thus Scipio was called Africanus for having
subjugated that PROVINCE!” Very little was wanting to make Father
Joseph, who had necessarily the same feelings, express his indignation
in the same terms; for he remembered with bitterness the ridiculous part
he had played in the siege of Rochelle, which, though not a province
like Africa, had ventured to resist the most eminent Cardinal, and into
which Father Joseph, piquing himself on his military skill, had proposed
to introduce the troops through a sewer. However, he restrained himself,
and had time to conceal the libel in the pocket of his brown robe ere
the minister had dismissed his young courier and returned to the table.

“And now to depart, Joseph,” he said. “Open the doors to all that
court which besieges me, and let us go to the King, who awaits me at
Perpignan; this time I have him for good.”

The Capuchin drew back, and immediately the pages, throwing open the
gilded doors, announced in succession the greatest lords of the period,
who had obtained permission from the King to come and salute the
minister. Some, even, under the pretext of illness or business, had
departed secretly, in order not to be among the last at Richelieu’s
reception; and the unhappy monarch found himself almost as alone as
other kings find themselves on their deathbeds. But with him, the throne
seemed, in the eyes of the court, his dying couch, his reign a continual
last agony, and his minister a threatening successor.

Two pages, of the first families of France, stood at the door, where the
ushers announced each of the persons whom Father Joseph had found in the
ante room. The Cardinal, still seated in his great arm chair, remained
motionless as the common couriers entered, inclined his head to the more
distinguished, and to princes alone put his hands on the elbows of his
chair and slightly rose; each person, having profoundly saluted him,
stood before him near the fireplace, waited till he had spoken to him,
and then, at a wave of his hand, completed the circuit of the room, and
went out by the same door at which he had entered, paused for a moment
to salute Father Joseph, who aped his master, and who for that reason
had been named “his Gray Eminence,” and at last quitted the palace,
unless, indeed, he remained standing behind the chair, if the minister
had signified that he should, which was considered a token of very great
favor.

He allowed to pass several insignificant persons, and many whose merits
were useless to him; the first whom he stopped in the procession was the
Marechal d’Estrees, who, about to set out on an embassy to Rome, came
to make his adieux; those behind him stopped short. This circumstance
warned the courtiers in the anteroom that a longer conversation than
usual was on foot, and Father Joseph, advancing to the threshold,
exchanged with the Cardinal a glance which seemed to say, on the one
side, “Remember the promise you have just made me,” on the other, “Set
your mind at rest.” At the same time, the expert Capuchin let his master
see that he held upon his arm one of his victims, whom he was forming
into a docile instrument; this was a young gentleman who wore a very
short green cloak, a pourpoint of the same color, close-fitting red
breeches, with glittering gold garters below the knee-the costume of the
pages of Monsieur. Father Joseph, indeed, spoke to him secretly, but not
in the way the Cardinal imagined; for he contemplated being his equal,
and was preparing other connections, in case of defection on the part of
the prime minister.

“Tell Monsieur not to trust in appearances, and that he has no servant
more faithful than I. The Cardinal is on the decline, and my conscience
tells me to warn against his faults him who may inherit the royal power
during the minority. To give your great Prince a proof of my faith, tell
him that it is intended to arrest his friend, Puy-Laurens, and that he
had better be kept out of the way, or the Cardinal will put him in the
Bastille.”

While the servant was thus betraying his master, the master, not to
be behindhand with him, betrayed his servant. His self-love, and some
remnant of respect to the Church, made him shudder at the idea of seeing
a contemptible agent invested with the same hat which he himself wore
as a crown, and seated as high as himself, except as to the precarious
position of minister. Speaking, therefore, in an undertone to the
Marechal d’Estrees, he said:

“It is not necessary to importune Urbain VIII any further in favor of
the Capuchin you see yonder; it is enough that his Majesty has deigned
to name him for the cardinalate. One can readily conceive the repugnance
of his Holiness to clothe this mendicant in the Roman purple.”

Then, passing on to general matters, he continued:

“Truly, I know not what can have cooled the Holy Father toward us; what
have we done that was not for the glory of our Holy Mother, the Catholic
Church?”

“I myself said the first mass at Rochelle, and you see for yourself,
Monsieur le Marechal, that our habit is everywhere; and even in your
armies, the Cardinal de la Vallette has commanded gloriously in the
palatinate.”

“And has just made a very fine retreat,” said the Marechal, laying a
slight emphasis upon the word.

The minister continued, without noticing this little outburst of
professional jealousy, and raising his voice, said:

“God has shown that He did not scorn to send the spirit of victory upon
his Levites, for the Duc de Weimar did not more powerfully aid in the
conquest of Lorraine than did this pious Cardinal, and never was a naval
army better commanded than by our Archbishop of Bordeaux at Rochelle.”

It was well known that at this very time the minister was incensed
against this prelate, whose haughtiness was so overbearing, and whose
impertinent ebullitions were so frequent as to have involved him in
two very disagreeable affairs at Bordeaux. Four years before, the Duc
d’Epernon, then governor of Guyenne, followed by all his train and by
his troops, meeting him among his clergy in a procession, had called
him an insolent fellow, and given him two smart blows with his cane;
whereupon the Archbishop had excommunicated him. And again, recently,
despite this lesson, he had quarrelled with the Marechal de Vitry,
from whom he had received “twenty blows with a cane or stick, which you
please,” wrote the Cardinal Duke to the Cardinal de la Vallette, “and
I think he would like to excommunicate all France.” In fact, he did
excommunicate the Marechal’s baton, remembering that in the former case
the Pope had obliged the Duc d’Epernon to ask his pardon; but M. Vitry,
who had caused the Marechal d’Ancre to be assassinated, stood too high
at court for that, and the Archbishop, in addition to his beating, got
well scolded by the minister.

M. d’Estrees thought, therefore, sagely that there might be some irony
in the Cardinal’s manner of referring to the warlike talents of the
Archbishop, and he answered, with perfect sang-froid:

“It is true, my lord, no one can say that it was upon the sea he was
beaten.”

His Eminence could not restrain a smile at this; but seeing that the
electrical effect of that smile had created others in the hall, as well
as whisperings and conjectures, he immediately resumed his gravity, and
familiarly taking the Marechal’s arm, said:

“Come, Monsieur l’Ambassadeur, you are ready at repartee. With you I
should not fear Cardinal Albornos, or all the Borgias in the world--no,
nor all the efforts of their Spain with the Holy Father.”

Then, raising his voice, and looking around, as if addressing himself to
the silent, and, so to speak, captive assembly, he continued:

“I hope that we shall no more be reproached, as formerly, for having
formed an alliance with one of the greatest men of our day; but as
Gustavus Adolphus is dead, the Catholic King will no longer have any
pretext for soliciting the excommunication of the most Christian King.
How say you, my dear lord?” addressing himself to the Cardinal de la
Vallette, who now approached, fortunately without having heard the late
allusion to himself. “Monsieur d’Estrees, remain near our chair; we have
still many things to say to you, and you are not one too many in our
conversations, for we have no secrets. Our policy is frank and open to
all men; the interest of his Majesty and of the State--nothing more.”

The Marechal made a profound bow, fell back behind the chair of
the minister, and gave place to the Cardinal de la Vallette, who,
incessantly bowing and flattering and swearing devotion and entire
obedience to the Cardinal, as if to expiate the obduracy of his father,
the Duc d’Epernon, received in return a few vague words, to no meaning
or purpose, the Cardinal all the while looking toward the door, to
see who should follow. He had even the mortification to find himself
abruptly interrupted by the minister, who cried at the most flattering
period of his honeyed discourse:

“Ah! is that you at last, my dear Fabert? How I have longed to see you,
to talk of the siege!”

The General, with a brusque and awkward manner, saluted the
Cardinal-Generalissimo, and presented to him the officers who had come
from the camp with him. He talked some time of the operations of the
siege, and the Cardinal seemed to be paying him court now, in order
to prepare him afterward for receiving his orders even on the field of
battle; he spoke to the officers who accompanied him, calling them by
their names, and questioning them about the camp.

They all stood aside to make way for the Duc d’Angouleme--that Valois,
who, having struggled against Henri IV, now prostrated himself before
Richelieu. He solicited a command, having been only third in rank at
the siege of Rochelle. After him came young Mazarin, ever supple and
insinuating, but already confident in his fortune.

The Duc d’Halluin came after them; the Cardinal broke off the
compliments he was addressing to the others, to utter, in a loud voice:

“Monsieur le Duc, I inform you with pleasure that the King has made you
a marshal of France; you will sign yourself Schomberg, will you not, at
Leucate, delivered, as we hope, by you? But pardon me, here is Monsieur
de Montauron, who has doubtless something important to communicate.”

“Oh, no, my lord, I would only say that the poor young man whom you
deigned to consider in your service is dying of hunger.”

“Pshaw! at such a moment to speak of things like this! Your little
Corneille will not write anything good; we have only seen ‘Le Cid’ and
‘Les Horaces’ as yet. Let him work, let him work! it is known that he
is in my service, and that is disagreeable. However, since you interest
yourself in the matter, I give him a pension of five hundred crowns on
my privy purse.”

The Chancellor of the Exchequer retired, charmed with the liberality
of the minister, and went home to receive with great affability the
dedication of Cinna, wherein the great Corneille compares his soul
to that of Augustus, and thanks him for having given alms ‘a quelques
Muses’.

The Cardinal, annoyed by this importunity, rose, observing that the day
was advancing, and that it was time to set out to visit the King.

At this moment, and as the greatest noblemen present were offering their
arms to aid him in walking, a man in the robe of a referendary advanced
toward him, saluting him with a complacent and confident smile which
astonished all the people there, accustomed to the great world, seeming
to say: “We have secret affairs together; you shall see how agreeable he
makes himself to me. I am at home in his cabinet.” His heavy and awkward
manner, however, betrayed a very inferior being; it was Laubardemont.

Richelieu knit his brows when he saw him, and cast a glance at Joseph;
then, turning toward those who surrounded him, he said, with bitter
scorn:

“Is there some criminal about us to be apprehended?”

Then, turning his back upon the discomfited Laubardemont, the Cardinal
left him redder than his robe, and, preceded by the crowd of personages
who were to escort him in carriages or on horseback, he descended the
great staircase of the palace.

All the people and the authorities of Narbonne viewed this royal
departure with amazement.

The Cardinal entered alone a spacious square litter, in which he was
to travel to Perpignan, his infirmities not permitting him to go in
a coach, or to perform the journey on horseback. This kind of moving
chamber contained a bed, a table, and a small chair for the page who
wrote or read for him. This machine, covered with purple damask, was
carried by eighteen men, who were relieved at intervals of a league;
they were selected among his guards, and always performed this service
of honor with uncovered heads, however hot or wet the weather might be.
The Duc d’Angouleme, the Marechals de Schomberg and d’Estrees, Fabert,
and other dignitaries were on horseback beside the litter; after them,
among the most prominent were the Cardinal de la Vallette and Mazarin,
with Chavigny, and the Marechal de Vitry, anxious to avoid the Bastille,
with which it was said he was threatened.

Two coaches followed for the Cardinal’s secretaries, physicians, and
confessor; then eight others, each with four horses, for his gentlemen,
and twenty-four mules for his luggage. Two hundred musketeers on foot
marched close behind him, and his company of men-at-arms of the guard
and his light-horse, all gentlemen, rode before and behind him on
splendid horses.

Such was the equipage in which the prime minister proceeded to
Perpignan; the size of the litter often made it necessary to enlarge the
roads, and knock down the walls of some of the towns and villages on the
way, into which it could not otherwise enter, “so that,” say the authors
and manuscripts of the time, full of a sincere admiration for all this
luxury--“so that he seemed a conqueror entering by the breach.” We have
sought in vain with great care in these documents, for any account of
proprietors or inhabitants of these dwellings so making room for his
passage who shared in this admiration; but we have been unable to find
any mention of such.



CHAPTER VIII. THE INTERVIEW

The pompous cortege of the Cardinal halted at the beginning of the camp.
All the armed troops were drawn up in the finest order; and amid the
sound of cannon and the music of each regiment the litter traversed a
long line of cavalry and infantry, formed from the outermost tent to
that of the minister, pitched at some distance from the royal quarters,
and which its purple covering distinguished at a distance. Each general
of division obtained a nod or a word from the Cardinal, who at length
reaching his tent and, dismissing his train, shut himself in, waiting
for the time to present himself to the King. But, before him, every
person of his escort had repaired thither individually, and, without
entering the royal abode, had remained in the long galleries covered
with striped stuff, and arranged as became avenues leading to the
Prince. The courtiers walking in groups, saluted one another and shook
hands, regarding each other haughtily, according to their connections or
the lords to whom they belonged. Others whispered together, and showed
signs of astonishment, pleasure, or anger, which showed that something
extraordinary had taken place. Among a thousand others, one singular
dialogue occurred in a corner of the principal gallery.

“May I ask, Monsieur l’Abbe, why you look at me so fixedly?”

“Parbleu! Monsieur de Launay, it is because I’m curious to see what you
will do. All the world abandons your Cardinal-Duke since your journey
into Touraine; if you do not believe it, go and ask the people of
Monsieur or of the Queen. You are behind-hand ten minutes by the
watch with the Cardinal de la Vallette, who has just shaken hands with
Rochefort and the gentlemen of the late Comte de Soissons, whom I shall
regret as long as I live.”

“Monsieur de Gondi, I understand you; is it a challenge with which you
honor me?”

“Yes, Monsieur le Comte,” answered the young Abbe, saluting him with all
the gravity of the time; “I sought an occasion to challenge you in the
name of Monsieur d’Attichi, my friend, with whom you had something to do
at Paris.”

“Monsieur l’Abbe, I am at your command. I will seek my seconds; do you
the same.”

“On horseback, with sword and pistol, I suppose?” added Gondi, with the
air of a man arranging a party of pleasure, lightly brushing the sleeve
of his cassock.

“If you please,” replied the other. And they separated for a time,
saluting one another with the greatest politeness, and with profound
bows.

A brilliant crowd of gentlemen circulated around them in the gallery.
They mingled with it to procure friends for the occasion. All the
elegance of the costumes of the day was displayed by the court that
morning-small cloaks of every color, in velvet or in satin, embroidered
with gold or silver; crosses of St. Michael and of the Holy Ghost; the
ruffs, the sweeping hat-plumes, the gold shoulder-knots, the chains
by which the long swords hung: all glittered and sparkled, yet not so
brilliantly as did the fiery glances of those warlike youths, or
their sprightly conversation, or their intellectual laughter. Amid the
assembly grave personages and great lords passed on, followed by their
numerous gentlemen.

The little Abbe de Gondi, who was very shortsighted, made his way
through the crowd, knitting his brows and half shutting his eyes, that
he might see the better, and twisting his moustache, for ecclesiastics
wore them in those days. He looked closely at every one in order to
recognize his friends, and at last stopped before a young man, very tall
and dressed in black from head to foot; his sword, even, was of quite
dark, bronzed steel. He was talking with a captain of the guards, when
the Abbe de Gondi took him aside.

“Monsieur de Thou,” said he, “I need you as my second in an hour, on
horseback, with sword and pistol, if you will do me that honor.”

“Monsieur, you know I am entirely at your service on all occasions.
Where shall we meet?”

“In front of the Spanish bastion, if you please.”

“Pardon me for returning to a conversation that greatly interests me. I
will be punctual at the rendezvous.”

And De Thou quitted him to rejoin the Captain. He had said all this in
the gentlest of voices with unalterable coolness, and even with somewhat
of an abstracted manner.

The little Abbe squeezed his hand with warm satisfaction, and continued
his search.

He did not so easily effect an agreement with the young lords to whom he
addressed himself; for they knew him better than did De Thou, and when
they saw him coming they tried to avoid him, or laughed at him openly,
and would not promise to serve him.

“Ah, Abbe! there you are hunting again; I’ll swear it’s a second you
want,” said the Duc de Beaufort.

“And I wager,” added M. de la Rochefoucauld, “that it’s against one of
the Cardinal-Duke’s people.”

“You are both right, gentlemen; but since when have you laughed at
affairs of honor?”

“The saints forbid I should,” said M. de Beaufort. “Men of the sword
like us ever reverence tierce, quarte, and octave; but as for the folds
of the cassock, I know nothing of them.”

“Pardieu! Monsieur, you know well enough that it does not embarrass
my wrist, as I will prove to him who chooses; as to the gown itself, I
should like to throw it into the gutter.”

“Is it to tear it that you fight so often?” asked La Rochefoucauld. “But
remember, my dear Abbe, that you yourself are within it.”

Gondi turned to look at the clock, wishing to lose no more time in such
sorry jests; but he had no better success elsewhere. Having stopped
two gentlemen in the service of the young Queen, whom he thought
ill-affected toward the Cardinal, and consequently glad to measure
weapons with his creatures, one of them said to him very gravely:

“Monsieur de Gondi, you know what has just happened; the King has said
aloud, ‘Whether our imperious Cardinal wishes it or not, the widow of
Henri le Grand shall no longer remain in exile.’ Imperious! the King
never before said anything so strong as that, Monsieur l’Abbe, mark
that. Imperious! it is open disgrace. Certainly no one will dare to
speak to him; no doubt he will quit the court this very day.”

“I have heard this, Monsieur, but I have an affair--”

“It is lucky for you he stopped short in the middle of your career.”

“An affair of honor--”

“Whereas Mazarin is quite a friend of yours.”

“But will you, or will you not, listen to me?”

“Yes, a friend indeed! your adventures are always uppermost in his
thoughts. Your fine duel with Monsieur de Coutenan about the pretty
little pin-maker,--he even spoke of it to the King. Adieu, my dear Abbe,
we are in great haste; adieu, adieu!” And, taking his friend’s arm, the
young mocker, without listening to another word, walked rapidly down the
gallery and disappeared in the throng.

The poor Abbe was much mortified at being able to get only one second,
and was watching sadly the passing of the hour and of the crowd, when
he perceived a young gentleman whom he did not know, seated at a
table, leaning on his elbow with a pensive air; he wore mourning which
indicated no connection with any great house or party, and appeared to
await, without any impatience, the time for attending the King, looking
with a heedless air at those who surrounded him, and seeming not to
notice or to know any of them.

Gondi looked at him a moment, and accosted him without hesitation:

“Monsieur, I have not the honor of your acquaintance, but a
fencing-party can never be unpleasant to a man of honor; and if you will
be my second, in a quarter of an hour we shall be on the ground. I am
Paul de Gondi; and I have challenged Monsieur de Launay, one of the
Cardinal’s clique, but in other respects a very gallant fellow.”

The unknown, apparently not at all surprised at this address, replied,
without changing his attitude: “And who are his seconds?”

“Faith, I don’t know; but what matters it who serves him? We stand no
worse with our friends for having exchanged a thrust with them.”

The stranger smiled nonchalantly, paused for an instant to pass his hand
through his long chestnut hair, and then said, looking idly at a large,
round watch which hung at his waist:

“Well, Monsieur, as I have nothing better to do, and as I have no
friends here, I am with you; it will pass the time as well as anything
else.”

And, taking his large, black-plumed hat from the table, he followed the
warlike Abbe, who went quickly before him, often running back to hasten
him on, like a child running before his father, or a puppy that goes
backward and forward twenty times before it gets to the end of a street.

Meanwhile, two ushers, attired in the royal livery, opened the great
curtains which separated the gallery from the King’s tent, and silence
reigned. The courtiers began to enter slowly, and in succession, the
temporary dwelling of the Prince. He received them all gracefully, and
was the first to meet the view of each person introduced.

Before a very small table surrounded with gilt armchairs stood Louis
XIII, encircled by the great officers of the crown. His dress was very
elegant: a kind of fawn-colored vest, with open sleeves, ornamented with
shoulder-knots and blue ribbons, covered him down to the waist. Wide
breeches reached to the knee, and the yellow-and-red striped stuff
of which they were made was ornamented below with blue ribbons. His
riding-boots, reaching hardly more than three inches above the ankle,
were turned over, showing so lavish a lining of lace that they seemed to
hold it as a vase holds flowers. A small mantle of blue velvet, on which
was embroidered the cross of the Holy Ghost, covered the King’s left
arm, which rested on the hilt of his sword.

His head was uncovered, and his pale and noble face was distinctly
visible, lighted by the sun, which penetrated through the top of the
tent. The small, pointed beard then worn augmented the appearance of
thinness in his face, while it added to its melancholy expression. By
his lofty brow, his classic profile, his aquiline nose, he was at once
recognized as a prince of the great race of Bourbon. He had all the
characteristic traits of his ancestors except their penetrating
glance; his eyes seemed red from weeping, and veiled with a perpetual
drowsiness; and the weakness of his vision gave him a somewhat vacant
look.

He called around him, and was attentive to, the greatest enemies of the
Cardinal, whom he expected every moment; and, balancing himself with
one foot over the other, an hereditary habit of his family, he spoke
quickly, but pausing from time to time to make a gracious inclination of
the head, or a gesture of the hand, to those who passed before him with
low reverences.

The court had been thus paying its respects to the King for two hours
before the Cardinal appeared; the whole court stood in close ranks
behind the Prince, and in the long galleries which extended from
his tent. Already longer intervals elapsed between the names of the
courtiers who were announced.

“Shall we not see our cousin the Cardinal?” said the King, turning, and
looking at Montresor, one of Monsieur’s gentlemen, as if to encourage
him to answer.

“He is said to be very ill just now, Sire,” was the answer.

“And yet I do not see how any but your Majesty can cure him,” said the
Duc de Beaufort.

“We cure nothing but the king’s evil,” replied Louis; “and the
complaints of the Cardinal are always so mysterious that we own we can
not understand them.”

The Prince thus essayed to brave his minister, gaining strength in
jests, the better to break his yoke, insupportable, but so difficult to
remove. He almost thought he had succeeded in this, and, sustained
by the joyous air surrounding him, he already privately congratulated
himself on having been able to assume the supreme empire, and for the
moment enjoyed all the power of which he fancied himself possessed. An
involuntary agitation in the depth of his heart had warned him indeed
that, the hour passed, all the burden of the State would fall upon
himself alone; but he talked in order to divert the troublesome thought,
and, concealing from himself the doubt he had of his own inability
to reign, he set his imagination to work upon the result of his
enterprises, thus forcing himself to forget the tedious roads which had
led to them. Rapid phrases succeeded one another on his lips.

“We shall soon take Perpignan,” he said to Fabert, who stood at some
distance.

“Well, Cardinal, Lorraine is ours,” he added to La Vallette. Then,
touching Mazarin’s arm:

“It is not so difficult to manage a State as is supposed, eh?”

The Italian, who was not so sure of the Cardinal’s disgrace as most of
the courtiers, answered, without compromising himself:

“Ah, Sire, the late successes of your Majesty at home and abroad prove
your sagacity in choosing your instruments and in directing them, and--”

But the Duc de Beaufort, interrupting him with that self-confidence,
that loud voice and overbearing air, which subsequently procured him the
surname of Important, cried out, vehemently:

“Pardieu! Sire, it needs only to will. A nation is driven like a horse,
with spur and bridle; and as we are all good horsemen, your Majesty has
only to choose among us.”

This fine sally had not time to take effect, for two ushers cried,
simultaneously, “His Eminence!”

The King’s face flushed involuntarily, as if he had been surprised en
flagrant delit. But immediately gaining confidence, he assumed an air of
resolute haughtiness, which was not lost upon the minister.

The latter, attired in all the pomp of a cardinal, leaning upon two
young pages, and followed by his captain of the guards and more than
five hundred gentlemen attached to his house, advanced toward the King
slowly and pausing at each step, as if forced to it by his sufferings,
but in reality to observe the faces before him. A glance sufficed.

His suite remained at the entrance of the royal tent; of all those
within it, not one was bold enough to salute him, or to look toward
him. Even La Vallette feigned to be occupied in a conversation with
Montresor; and the King, who desired to give him an unfavorable
reception, greeted him lightly and continued a private conversation in a
low voice with the Duc de Beaufort.

The Cardinal was therefore forced, after the first salute, to stop and
pass to the side of the crowd of courtiers, as if he wished to mingle
with them, but in reality to test them more closely; they all recoiled
as at the sight of a leper. Fabert alone advanced toward him with the
frank, brusque air habitual with him, and, making use of the terms
belonging to his profession, said:

“Well, my lord, you make a breach in the midst of them like a
cannon-ball; I ask pardon in their name.”

“And you stand firm before me as before the enemy,” said the Cardinal;
“you will have no cause to regret it in the end, my dear Fabert.”

Mazarin also approached the Cardinal, but with caution, and, giving to
his mobile features an expression of profound sadness, made him five
or six very low bows, turning his back to the group gathered around the
King, so that in the latter quarter they might be taken for those cold
and hasty salutations which are made to a person one desires to be rid
of, and, on the part of the Duke, for tokens of respect, blended with a
discreet and silent sorrow.

The minister, ever calm, smiled disdainfully; and, assuming that firm
look and that air of grandeur which he always wore in the hour of
danger, he again leaned upon his pages, and, without waiting for a word
or a glance from his sovereign, he suddenly resolved upon his line of
conduct, and walked directly toward him, traversing the whole length
of the tent. No one had lost sight of him, although all affected not to
observe him. Every one now became silent, even those who were conversing
with the King. All the courtiers bent forward to see and to hear.

Louis XIII turned toward him in astonishment, and, all presence of
mind totally failing him, remained motionless and waited with an icy
glance-his sole force, but a force very effectual in a prince.

The Cardinal, on coming close to the monarch, did not bow; and, without
changing his attitude, with his eyes lowered and his hands placed on the
shoulders of the two boys half bending, he said:

“Sire, I come to implore your Majesty at length to grant me the
retirement for which I have long sighed. My health is failing; I feel
that my life will soon be ended. Eternity approaches me, and before
rendering an account to the eternal King, I would render one to my
earthly sovereign. It is eighteen years, Sire, since you placed in
my hands a weak and divided kingdom; I return it to you united and
powerful. Your enemies are overthrown and humiliated. My work is
accomplished. I ask your Majesty’s permission to retire to Citeaux, of
which I am abbot, and where I may end my days in prayer and meditation.”

The King, irritated by some haughty expressions in this address, showed
none of the signs of weakness which the Cardinal had expected, and
which he had always seen in him when he had threatened to resign the
management of affairs. On the contrary, feeling that he had the eyes of
the whole court upon him, Louis looked upon him with the air of a king,
and coldly replied:

“We thank you, then, for your services, Monsieur le Cardinal, and wish
you the repose you desire.”

Richelieu was deeply moved, but no indication of his anger appeared upon
his countenance. “Such was the coldness with which you left Montmorency
to die,” he said to himself; “but you shall not escape me thus.” He then
continued aloud, bowing at the same time:

“The only recompense I ask for my services is that your Majesty will
deign to accept from me, as a gift, the Palais-Cardinal I have erected
at my own expense in Paris.”

The King, astonished, bowed his assent. A murmur of surprise for a
moment agitated the attentive court.

“I also throw myself at your Majesty’s feet, to beg that you will grant
me the revocation of an act of rigor, which I solicited (I publicly
confess it), and which I perhaps regarded too hastily beneficial to the
repose of the State. Yes, when I was of this world, I was too forgetful
of my early sentiments of personal respect and attachment, in my
eagerness for the public welfare; but now that I already enjoy the
enlightenment of solitude, I see that I have done wrong, and I repent.”

The attention of the spectators was redoubled, and the uneasiness of the
King became visible.

“Yes, there is one person, Sire, whom I have always loved, despite her
wrong toward you, and the banishment which the affairs of the kingdom
forced me to bring about for her; a person to whom I have owed much,
and who should be very dear to you, notwithstanding her armed attempts
against you; a person, in a word, whom I implore you to recall from
exile--the Queen Marie de Medicis, your mother!”

The King uttered an involuntary exclamation, so little did he expect to
hear that name. A repressed agitation suddenly appeared upon every face.
All waited in silence the King’s reply. Louis XIII looked for a long
time at his old minister without speaking, and this look decided the
fate of France; in that instant he called to mind all the indefatigable
services of Richelieu, his unbounded devotion, his wonderful capacity,
and was surprised at himself for having wished to part with him. He felt
deeply affected at this request, which had probed for the exact cause of
his anger at the bottom of his heart, and uprooted it, thus taking from
his hands the only weapon he had against his old servant. Filial love
brought words of pardon to his lips and tears into his eyes. Rejoicing
to grant what he desired most of all things in the world, he extended
his hands to the Duke with all the nobleness and kindliness of a
Bourbon. The Cardinal bowed and respectfully kissed it; and his heart,
which should have burst with remorse, only swelled in the joy of a
haughty triumph.

The King, deeply touched, abandoning his hand to him, turned gracefully
toward his court and said, with a trembling voice:

“We often deceive ourselves, gentlemen, and especially in our knowledge
of so great a politician as this.”

“I hope he will never leave us, since his heart is as good as his head.”

Cardinal de la Vallette instantly seized the sleeve of the King’s
mantle, and kissed it with all the ardor of a lover, and the young
Mazarin did much the same with Richelieu himself, assuming, with
admirable Italian suppleness, an expression radiant with joy and
tenderness. Two streams of flatterers hastened, one toward the King, the
other toward the minister; the former group, not less adroit than the
second, although less direct, addressed to the Prince thanks which could
be heard by the minister, and burned at the feet of the one incense
which was intended for the other. As for Richelieu, bowing and smiling
to right and left, he stepped forward and stood at the right hand of
the King as his natural place. A stranger entering would rather have
thought, indeed, that it was the King who was on the Cardinal’s left
hand. The Marechal d’Estrees, all the ambassadors, the Duc d’Angouleme,
the Due d’Halluin (Schomberg), the Marechal de Chatillon, and all the
great officers of the crown surrounded him, each waiting impatiently for
the compliments of the others to be finished, in order to pay his own,
fearing lest some one else should anticipate him with the flattering
epigram he had just improvised, or the phrase of adulation he was
inventing.

As for Fabert, he had retired to a corner of the tent, and seemed to
have paid no particular attention to the scene. He was chatting with
Montresor and the gentlemen of Monsieur, all sworn enemies of the
Cardinal, because, out of the throng he avoided, he had found none but
these to speak to. This conduct would have seemed extremely tactless in
one less known; but although he lived in the midst of the court, he was
ever ignorant of its intrigues. It was said of him that he returned from
a battle he had gained, like the King’s hunting-horse, leaving the dogs
to caress their master and divide the quarry, without seeking even to
remember the part he had had in the triumph.

The storm, then, seemed entirely appeased, and to the violent agitations
of the morning succeeded a gentle calm. A respectful murmur, varied
with pleasant laughter and protestations of attachment, was all that was
heard in the tent. The voice of the Cardinal arose from time to time:
“The poor Queen! We shall, then, soon again see her! I never had dared
to hope for such happiness while I lived!” The King listened to him with
full confidence, and made no attempt to conceal his satisfaction. “It
was assuredly an idea sent to him from on high,” he said; “this good
Cardinal, against whom they had so incensed me, was thinking only of
the union of my family. Since the birth of the Dauphin I have not tasted
greater joy than at this moment. The protection of the Holy Virgin is
manifested over our kingdom.”

At this moment, a captain of the guards came up and whispered in the
King’s ear.

“A courier from Cologne?” said the King; “let him wait in my cabinet.”

Then, unable to restrain his impatience, “I will go! I will go!” he
said, and entered alone a small, square tent attached to the larger one.
In it he saw a young courier holding a black portfolio, and the curtains
closed upon the King.

The Cardinal, left sole master of the court, concentrated all its
homage; but it was observed that he no longer received it with his
former presence of mind. He inquired frequently what time it was, and
exhibited an anxiety which was not assumed; his hard, unquiet glances
turned toward the smaller tent. It suddenly opened; the King appeared
alone, and stopped on the threshold. He was paler than usual, and
trembled in every limb; he held in his hand a large letter with five
black seals.

“Gentlemen,” said he, in a loud but broken voice, “the Queen has just
died at Cologne; and I perhaps am not the first to hear of it,” he
added, casting a severe look toward the impassible Cardinal, “but God
knows all! To horse in an hour, and attack the lines! Marechals, follow
me.” And he turned his back abruptly, and reentered his cabinet with
them.

The court retired after the minister, who, without giving any sign of
sorrow or annoyance, went forth as gravely as he had entered, but now a
victor.



BOOK 3.



CHAPTER IX. THE SIEGE

There are moments in our life when we long ardently for strong
excitement to drown our petty griefs--times when the soul, like the lion
in the fable, wearied with the continual attacks of the gnat, earnestly
desires a mightier enemy and real danger. Cinq-Mars found himself in
this condition of mind, which always results from a morbid sensibility
in the organic constitution and a perpetual agitation of the heart.
Weary of continually turning over in his mind a combination of the
events which he desired, and of those which he dreaded; weary of
calculating his chances to the best of his power; of summoning to his
assistance all that his education had taught him concerning the lives
of illustrious men, in order to compare it with his present situation;
oppressed by his regrets, his dreams, predictions, fancies, and all that
imaginary world in which he had lived during his solitary journey-he
breathed freely upon finding himself thrown into a real world almost
as full of agitation; and the realizing of two actual dangers restored
circulation to his blood, and youth to his whole being.

Since the nocturnal scene at the inn near Loudun, he had not been
able to resume sufficient empire over his mind to occupy himself with
anything save his cherished though sad reflections; and consumption
was already threatening him, when happily he arrived at the camp
of Perpignan, and happily also had the opportunity of accepting the
proposition of the Abbe de Gondi--for the reader has no doubt recognized
Cinq-Mars in the person of that young stranger in mourning, so careless
and so melancholy, whom the duellist in the cassock invited to be his
second.

He had ordered his tent to be pitched as a volunteer in the street of
the camp assigned to the young noblemen who were to be presented to
the King and were to serve as aides-de-camp to the Generals; he
soon repaired thither, and was quickly armed, horsed, and cuirassed,
according to the custom of the time, and set out alone for the Spanish
bastion, the place of rendezvous. He was the first arrival, and found
that a small plot of turf, hidden among the works of the besieged place,
had been well chosen by the little Abbe for his homicidal purposes; for
besides the probability that no one would have suspected officers
of engaging in a duel immediately beneath the town which they were
attacking, the body of the bastion separated them from the French camp,
and would conceal them like an immense screen. It was wise to take these
precautions, for at that time it cost a man his head to give himself the
satisfaction of risking his body.

While waiting for his friends and his adversaries, Cinq-Mars had time
to examine the southern side of Perpignan, before which he stood. He had
heard that these works were not those which were to be attacked, and
he tried in vain to account for the besieger’s projects. Between this
southern face of the town, the mountains of Albere, and the Col du
Perthus, there might have been advantageous lines of attack, and
redoubts against the accessible point; but not a single soldier was
stationed there. All the forces seemed directed upon the north of
Perpignan, upon the most difficult side, against a brick fort called the
Castillet, which surmounted the gate of Notre-Dame. He discovered that a
piece of ground, apparently marshy, but in reality very solid, led up
to the very foot of the Spanish bastion; that this post was guarded with
true Castilian negligence, although its sole strength lay entirely in
its defenders; for its battlements, almost in ruin, were furnished with
four pieces of cannon of enormous calibre, embedded in the turf, and
thus rendered immovable, and impossible to be directed against a troop
advancing rapidly to the foot of the wall.

It was easy to see that these enormous pieces had discouraged the
besiegers from attacking this point, and had kept the besieged from any
idea of addition to its means of defence. Thus, on the one side, the
vedettes and advanced posts were at a distance, and on the other, the
sentinels were few and ill supported. A young Spaniard, carrying a long
gun, with its rest suspended at his side and the burning match in his
right hand, who was walking with nonchalance upon the rampart, stopped
to look at Cinq-Mars, who was riding about the ditches and moats.

“Senor caballero,” he cried, “are you going to take the bastion by
yourself on horseback, like Don Quixote--Quixada de la Mancha?”

At the same time he detached from his side the iron rest, planted it in
the ground, and supported upon it the barrel of his gun in order to take
aim, when a grave and older Spaniard, enveloped in a dirty brown cloak,
said to him in his own tongue:

“‘Ambrosio de demonio’, do you not know that it is forbidden to throw
away powder uselessly, before sallies or attacks are made, merely to
have the pleasure of killing a boy not worth your match? It was in this
very place that Charles the Fifth threw the sleeping sentinel into the
ditch and drowned him. Do your duty, or I shall follow his example.”

Ambrosio replaced the gun upon his shoulder, the rest at his side, and
continued his walk upon the rampart.

Cinq-Mars had been little alarmed at this menacing gesture, contenting
himself with tightening the reins of his horse and bringing the spurs
close to his sides, knowing that with a single leap of the nimble animal
he should be carried behind the wall of a hut which stood near by, and
should thus be sheltered from the Spanish fusil before the operation
of the fork and match could be completed. He knew, too, that a tacit
convention between the two armies prohibited marksmen from firing upon
the sentinels; each party would have regarded it as assassination.
The soldier who had thus prepared to attack Cinq-Mars must have been
ignorant of this understanding. Young D’Effiat, therefore, made no
visible movement; and when the sentinel had resumed his walk upon
the rampart, he again betook himself to his ride upon the turf, and
presently saw five cavaliers directing their course toward him. The
first two, who came on at full gallop, did not salute him, but, stopping
close to him, leaped to the ground, and he found himself in the arms of
the Counsellor de Thou, who embraced him tenderly, while the little Abbe
de Gondi, laughing heartily, cried:

“Behold another Orestes recovering his Pylades, and at the moment of
immolating a rascal who is not of the family of the King of kings, I
assure you.”

“What! is it you, my dear Cinq-Mars?” cried De Thou; “and I knew not
of your arrival in the camp! Yes, it is indeed you; I recognize you,
although you are very pale. Have you been ill, my dear friend? I have
often written to you; for my boyish friendship has always remained in my
heart.”

“And I,” answered Henri d’Effiat, “I have been very culpable toward you;
but I will relate to you all the causes of my neglect. I can speak
of them, but I was ashamed to write them. But how good you are! Your
friendship has never relaxed.”

“I knew you too well,” replied De Thou; “I knew that there could be no
real coldness between us, and that my soul had its echo in yours.”

With these words they embraced once more, their eyes moist with those
sweet tears which so seldom flow in one’s life, but with which it seems,
nevertheless, the heart is always charged, so much relief do they give
in flowing.

This moment was short; and during these few words, Gondi had been
pulling them by their cloaks, saying:

“To horse! to horse, gentlemen! Pardieu! you will have time enough to
embrace, if you are so affectionate; but do not delay. Let our first
thought be to have done with our good friends who will soon arrive. We
are in a fine position, with those three villains there before us, the
archers close by, and the Spaniards up yonder! We shall be under three
fires.”

He was still speaking, when De Launay, finding himself at about sixty
paces from his opponents, with his seconds, who were chosen from his own
friends rather than from among the partisans of the Cardinal, put his
horse to a canter, advanced gracefully toward his young adversaries, and
gravely saluted them.

“Gentlemen, I think that we shall do well to select our men, and to take
the field; for there is talk of attacking the lines, and I must be at my
post.”

“We are ready, Monsieur,” said Cinq-Mars; “and as for selecting
opponents, I shall be very glad to become yours, for I have not
forgotten the Marechal de Bassompierre and the wood of Chaumont. You
know my opinion concerning your insolent visit to my mother.”

“You are very young, Monsieur. In regard to Madame, your mother, I
fulfilled the duties of a man of the world; toward the Marechal, those
of a captain of the guard; here, those of a gentleman toward Monsieur
l’Abbe, who has challenged me; afterward I shall have that honor with
you.”

“If I permit you,” said the Abbe, who was already on horseback.

They took sixty paces of ground--all that was afforded them by the
extent of the meadow that enclosed them. The Abbe de Gondi was stationed
between De Thou and his friend, who sat nearest the ramparts, upon which
two Spanish officers and a score of soldiers stood, as in a balcony,
to witness this duel of six persons--a spectacle common enough to them.
They showed the same signs of joy as at their bullfights, and laughed
with that savage and bitter laugh which their temperament derives from
their admixture of Arab blood.

At a sign from Gondi, the six horses set off at full gallop, and met,
without coming in contact, in the middle of the arena; at that instant,
six pistol-shots were heard almost together, and the smoke covered the
combatants.

When it dispersed, of the six cavaliers and six horses but three men and
three animals were on their legs. Cinq-Mars was on horseback, giving
his hand to his adversary, as calm as himself; at the other end of the
field, De Thou stood by his opponent, whose horse he had killed, and
whom he was helping to rise. As for Gondi and De Launay, neither was
to be seen. Cinq-Mars, looking about for them anxiously, perceived the
Abbe’s horse, which, caracoling and curvetting, was dragging after him
the future cardinal, whose foot was caught in the stirrup, and who was
swearing as if he had never studied anything but the language of the
camp. His nose and hands were stained and bloody with his fall and with
his efforts to seize the grass; and he was regarding with considerable
dissatisfaction his horse, which in spite of himself he irritated
with his spurs, making its way to the trench, filled with water, which
surrounded the bastion, when, happily, Cinq-Mars, passing between the
edge of the swamp and the animal, seized its bridle and stopped its
career.

“Well, my dear Abbe, I see that no great harm has come to you, for you
speak with decided energy.”

“Corbleu!” cried Gondi, wiping the dust out of his eyes, “to fire a
pistol in the face of that giant I had to lean forward and rise in my
stirrups, and thus I lost my balance; but I fancy that he is down, too.”

“You are right, sir,” said De Thou, coming up; “there is his horse
swimming in the ditch with its master, whose brains are blown out. We
must think now of escaping.”

“Escaping! That, gentlemen, will be rather difficult,” said the
adversary of Cinq-Mars, approaching. “Hark! there is the cannon-shot,
the signal for the attack. I did not expect it would have been given so
soon. If we return we shall meet the Swiss and the foot-soldiers, who
are marching in this direction.”

“Monsieur de Fontrailles says well,” said De Thou; “but if we do not
return, here are these Spaniards, who are running to arms, and whose
balls we shall presently have whistling about our heads.”

“Well, let us hold a council,” said Gondi; “summon Monsieur de
Montresor, who is uselessly occupied in searching for the body of poor
De Launay. You have not wounded him, Monsieur De Thou?”

“No, Monsieur l’Abbe; not every one has so good an aim as you,” said
Montresor, bitterly, limping from his fall. “We shall not have time to
continue with the sword.”

“As to continuing, I will not consent to it, gentlemen,” said
Fontrailles; “Monsieur de Cinq-Mars has behaved too nobly toward me.
My pistol went off too soon, and his was at my very cheek--I feel the
coldness of it now--but he had the generosity to withdraw it and fire in
the air. I shall not forget it; and I am his in life and in death.”

“We must think of other things now,” interrupted Cinq-Mars; “a ball has
just whistled past my ear. The attack has begun on all sides; and we are
surrounded by friends and by enemies.”

In fact, the cannonading was general; the citadel, the town, and
the army were covered with smoke. The bastion before them as yet was
unassailed, and its guards seemed less eager to defend it than to
observe the fate of the other fortifications.

“I believe that the enemy has made a sally,” said Montresor, “for the
smoke has cleared from the plain, and I see masses of cavalry charging
under the protection of the battery.”

“Gentlemen,” said Cinq-Mars, who had not ceased to observe the walls,
“there is a very decided part which we could take, an important share in
this--we might enter this ill-guarded bastion.”

“An excellent idea, Monsieur,” said Fontrailles; “but we are but five
against at least thirty, and are in plain sight and easily counted.”

“Faith, the idea is not bad,” said Gondi; “it is better to be shot up
there than hanged down here, as we shall be if we are found, for De
Launay must be already missed by his company, and all the court knows of
our quarrel.”

“Parbleu! gentlemen,” said Montresor, “help is coming to us.”

A numerous troop of horse, in great disorder, advanced toward them at
full gallop; their red uniform made them visible from afar. It seemed
to be their intention to halt on the very ground on which were our
embarrassed duellists, for hardly had the first cavalier reached it when
cries of “Halt!” were repeated and prolonged by the voices of the chiefs
who were mingled with their cavaliers.

“Let us go to them; these are the men-at-arms of the King’s guard,” said
Fontrailles. “I recognize them by their black cockades. I see also many
of the light-horse with them; let us mingle in the disorder, for I fancy
they are ‘ramenes’.”

This is a polite phrase signifying in military language “put to rout.”
 All five advanced toward the noisy and animated troops, and found that
this conjecture was right. But instead of the consternation which one
might expect in such a case, they found nothing but a youthful and
rattling gayety, and heard only bursts of laughter from the two
companies.

“Ah, pardieu! Cahuzac,” said one, “your horse runs better than mine; I
suppose you have exercised it in the King’s hunts!”

“Ah, I see, ‘twas that we might be the sooner rallied that you arrived
here first,” answered the other.

“I think the Marquis de Coislin must be mad, to make four hundred of us
charge eight Spanish regiments.”

“Ha! ha! Locmaria, your plume is a fine ornament; it looks like a
weeping willow. If we follow that, it will be to our burial.”

“Gentlemen, I said to you before,” angrily replied the young officer,
“that I was sure that Capuchin Joseph, who meddles in everything, was
mistaken in telling us to charge, upon the part of the Cardinal. But
would you have been satisfied if those who have the honor of commanding
you had refused to charge?”

“No, no, no!” answered all the young men, at the same time forming
themselves quickly into ranks.

“I said,” interposed the old Marquis de Coislin, who, despite his white
head, had all the fire of youth in his eyes, “that if you were commanded
to mount to the assault on horseback, you would do it.”

“Bravo! bravo!” cried all the men-at-arms, clapping their hands.

“Well, Monsieur le Marquis,” said Cinq-Mars, approaching, “here is an
opportunity to execute what you have promised. I am only a volunteer;
but an instant ago these gentlemen and I examined this bastion, and I
believe that it is possible to take it.”

“Monsieur, we must first examine the ditch to see--”

At this moment a ball from the rampart of which they were speaking
struck in the head the horse of the old captain, laying it low.

“Locmaria, De Mouy, take the command, and to the assault!” cried the two
noble companies, believing their leader dead.

“Stop a moment, gentlemen,” said old Coislin, rising, “I will lead you,
if you please. Guide us, Monsieur volunteer, for the Spaniards invite us
to this ball, and we must reply politely.”

Hardly had the old man mounted another horse, which one of his men
brought him, and drawn his sword, when, without awaiting his order, all
these ardent youths, preceded by Cinq-Mars and his friends, whose horses
were urged on by the squadrons behind, had thrown themselves into
the morass, wherein, to their great astonishment and to that of the
Spaniards, who had counted too much upon its depth, the horses were
in the water only up to their hams; and in spite of a discharge of
grape-shot from the two largest pieces, all reached pell-mell a strip of
land at the foot of the half-ruined ramparts. In the ardor of the rush,
Cinq-Mars and Fontrailles, with the young Locmaria, forced their horses
upon the rampart itself; but a brisk fusillade killed the three animals,
which rolled over their masters.

“Dismount all, gentlemen!” cried old Coislin; “forward with pistol and
sword! Abandon your horses!”

All obeyed instantly, and threw themselves in a mass upon the breach.

Meantime, De Thou, whose coolness never quitted him any more than his
friendship, had not lost sight of the young Henri, and had received him
in his arms when his horse fell. He helped him to rise, restored to
him his sword, which he had dropped, and said to him, with the greatest
calmness, notwithstanding the balls which rained on all sides:

“My friend, do I not appear very ridiculous amid all this skirmish, in
my costume of Counsellor in Parliament?”

“Parbleu!” said Montresor, advancing, “here’s the Abbe, who quite
justifies you.”

And, in fact, little Gondi, pushing on among the light horsemen, was
shouting, at the top of his voice: “Three duels and an assault. I hope
to get rid of my cassock at last!”

Saying this, he cut and thrust at a tall Spaniard.

The defence was not long. The Castilian soldiers were no match for the
French officers, and not one of them had time or courage to recharge his
carbine.

“Gentlemen, we will relate this to our mistresses in Paris,” said
Locmaria, throwing his hat into the air; and Cinq-Mars, De Thou,
Coislin, De Mouy, Londigny, officers of the red companies, and all the
young noblemen, with swords in their right hands and pistols in their
left, dashing, pushing, and doing each other by their eagerness as much
harm as they did the enemy, finally rushed upon the platform of the
bastion, as water poured from a vase, of which the opening is too small,
leaps out in interrupted gushes.

Disdaining to occupy themselves with the vanquished soldiers, who cast
themselves at their feet, they left them to look about the fort,
without even disarming them, and began to examine their conquest, like
schoolboys in vacation, laughing with all their hearts, as if they were
at a pleasure-party.

A Spanish officer, enveloped in his brown cloak, watched them with a
sombre air.

“What demons are these, Ambrosio?” said he to a soldier. “I never have
met with any such before in France. If Louis XIII has an entire army
thus composed, it is very good of him not to conquer all Europe.”

“Oh, I do not believe they are very numerous; they must be some poor
adventurers, who have nothing to lose and all to gain by pillage.”

“You are right,” said the officer; “I will try to persuade one of them
to let me escape.”

And slowly approaching, he accosted a young light-horseman, of about
eighteen, who was sitting apart from his comrades upon the parapet. He
had the pink-and-white complexion of a young girl; his delicate hand
held an embroidered handkerchief, with which he wiped his forehead and
his golden locks He was consulting a large, round watch set with rubies,
suspended from his girdle by a knot of ribbons.

The astonished Spaniard paused. Had he not seen this youth overthrow
his soldiers, he would not have believed him capable of anything
beyond singing a romance, reclined upon a couch. But, filled with the
suggestion of Ambrosio, he thought that he might have stolen these
objects of luxury in the pillage of the apartments of a woman; so, going
abruptly up to him, he said:

“Hombre! I am an officer; will you restore me to liberty, that I may
once more see my country?”

The young Frenchman looked at him with the gentle expression of his age,
and, thinking of his own family, he said:

“Monsieur, I will present you to the Marquis de Coislin, who will, I
doubt not, grant your request; is your family of Castile or of Aragon?”

“Your Coislin will ask the permission of somebody else, and will make
me wait a year. I will give you four thousand ducats if you will let me
escape.”

That gentle face, those girlish features, became infused with the purple
of fury; those blue eyes shot forth lightning; and, exclaiming, “Money
to me! away, fool!” the young man gave the Spaniard a ringing box on
the ear. The latter, without hesitating, drew a long poniard from his
breast, and, seizing the arm of the Frenchman, thought to plunge it
easily into his heart; but, nimble and vigorous, the youth caught him by
the right arm, and, lifting it with force above his head, sent it back
with the weapon it held upon the head of the Spaniard, who was furious
with rage.

“Eh! eh! Softly, Olivier!” cried his comrades, running from all
directions; “there are Spaniards enough on the ground already.”

And they disarmed the hostile officer.

“What shall we do with this lunatic?” said one.

“I should not like to have him for my valet-dechambre,” returned
another.

“He deserves to be hanged,” said a third; “but, faith, gentlemen, we
don’t know how to hang. Let us send him to that battalion of Swiss which
is now passing across the plain.”

And the calm and sombre Spaniard, enveloping himself anew in his cloak,
began the march of his own accord, followed by Ambrosio, to join the
battalion, pushed by the shoulders and urged on by five or six of these
young madcaps.

Meantime, the first troop of the besiegers, astonished at their success,
had followed it out to the end; Cinq-Mars, so advised by the aged
Coislin, had made with him the circuit of the bastion, and found to
their vexation that it was completely separated from the city, and that
they could not follow up their advantage. They, therefore, returned
slowly to the platform, talking by the way, to rejoin De Thou and the
Abbe de Gondi, whom they found laughing with the young light-horsemen.

“We have Religion and justice with us, gentlemen; we could not fail to
triumph.”

“No doubt, for they fought as hard as we.”

There was silence at the approach of Cinq-Mars, and they remained for
an instant whispering and asking his name; then all surrounded him, and
took his hand with delight.

“Gentlemen, you are right,” said their old captain; “he is, as our
fathers used to say, the best doer of the day. He is a volunteer, who is
to be presented today to the King by the Cardinal.”

“By the Cardinal! We will present him ourselves. Ah, do not let him be a
Cardinalist; he is too good a fellow for that!” exclaimed all the young
men, with vivacity.

“Monsieur, I will undertake to disgust you with him,” said Olivier
d’Entraigues, approaching Cinq-Mars, “for I have been his page. Rather
serve in the red companies; come, you will have good comrades there.”

The old Marquis saved Cinq-Mars the embarrassment of replying, by
ordering the trumpets to sound and rally his brilliant companies. The
cannon was no longer heard, and a soldier announced that the King and
the Cardinal were traversing the lines to examine the results of the
day. He made all the horses pass through the breach, which was tolerably
wide, and ranged the two companies of cavalry in battle array, upon a
spot where it seemed impossible that any but infantry could penetrate.



CHAPTER X. THE RECOMPENSE

Cardinal Richelieu had said to himself, “To soften the first paroxysm of
the royal grief, to open a source of emotions which shall turn from its
sorrow this wavering soul, let this city be besieged; I consent. Let
Louis go; I will allow him to strike a few poor soldiers with the blows
which he wishes, but dares not, to inflict upon me. Let his anger drown
itself in this obscure blood; I agree. But this caprice of glory shall
not derange my fixed designs; this city shall not fall yet. It shall not
become French forever until two years have past; it shall come into my
nets only on the day upon which I have fixed in my own mind. Thunder,
bombs, and cannons; meditate upon your operations, skilful captains;
hasten, young warriors. I shall silence your noise, I shall dissipate
your projects, and make your efforts abortive; all shall end in vain
smoke, for I shall conduct in order to mislead you.”

This is the substance of what passed in the bald head of the Cardinal
before the attack of which we have witnessed a part. He was stationed on
horseback, upon one of the mountains of Salces, north of the city; from
this point he could see the plain of Roussillon before him, sloping to
the Mediterranean. Perpignan, with its ramparts of brick, its bastions,
its citadel, and its spire, formed upon this plain an oval and sombre
mass on its broad and verdant meadows; the vast mountains surrounded it,
and the valley, like an enormous bow curved from north to south, while,
stretching its white line in the east, the sea looked like its silver
cord. On his right rose that immense mountain called the Canigou,
whose sides send forth two rivers into the plain below. The French line
extended to the foot of this western barrier. A crowd of generals and of
great lords were on horseback behind the minister, but at twenty paces’
distance and profoundly silent.

Cardinal Richelieu had at first followed slowly the line of operations,
but had later returned and stationed himself upon this height, whence
his eye and his thought hovered over the destinies of besiegers and
besieged. The whole army had its eyes upon him, and could see him from
every point. All looked upon him as their immediate chief, and awaited
his gesture before they acted. France had bent beneath his yoke a long
time; and admiration of him shielded all his actions to which another
would have been often subjected. At this moment, for instance, no one
thought of smiling, or even of feeling surprised, that the cuirass
should clothe the priest; and the severity of his character and
aspect suppressed every thought of ironical comparisons or injurious
conjectures. This day the Cardinal appeared in a costume entirely
martial: he wore a reddish-brown coat, embroidered with gold, a
water-colored cuirass, a sword at his side, pistols at his saddle-bow,
and he had a plumed hat; but this he seldom put on his head, which was
still covered with the red cap. Two pages were behind him; one carried
his gauntlets, the other his casque, and the captain of his guards was
at his side.

As the King had recently named him generalissimo of his troops, it was
to him that the generals sent for their orders; but he, knowing only too
well the secret motives of his master’s present anger, affected to refer
to that Prince all who sought a decision from his own mouth. It happened
as he had foreseen; for he regulated and calculated the movements of
that heart as those of a watch, and could have told with precision
through what sensations it had passed. Louis XIII came and placed
himself at his side; but he came as a pupil, forced to acknowledge that
his master is in the right. His air was haughty and dissatisfied, his
language brusque and dry. The Cardinal remained impassible. It was
remarked that the King, in consulting him, employed the words of
command, thus reconciling his weakness and his power of place, his
irresolution and his pride, his ignorance and his pretensions, while his
minister dictated laws to him in a tone of the most profound obedience.

“I will have them attack immediately, Cardinal,” said the Prince on
coming up; “that is to say,” he added, with a careless air, “when all
your preparations are made, and you have fixed upon the hour with our
generals.”

“Sire, if I might venture to express my judgment, I should be glad did
your Majesty think proper to begin the attack in a quarter of an hour,
for that will give time enough to advance the third line.”

“Yes, yes; you are right, Monsieur le Cardinal! I think so, too. I will
go and give my orders myself; I wish to do everything myself. Schomberg,
Schomberg! in a quarter of an hour I wish to hear the signal-gun; I
command it.”

And Schomberg, taking the command of the right wing, gave the order, and
the signal was made.

The batteries, arranged long since by the Marechal de la Meilleraie,
began to batter a breach, but slowly, because the artillerymen felt that
they had been directed to attack two impregnable points; and because,
with their experience, and above all with the common sense and quick
perception of French soldiers, any one of them could at once have
indicated the point against which the attack should have been directed.
The King was surprised at the slowness of the firing.

“La Meilleraie,” said he, impatiently, “these batteries do not play
well; your cannoneers are asleep.”

The principal artillery officers were present as well as the Marechal;
but no one answered a syllable. They had looked toward the Cardinal,
who remained as immovable as an equestrian statue, and they imitated
his example. The answer must have been that the fault was not with the
soldiers, but with him who had ordered this false disposition of the
batteries; and this was Richelieu himself, who, pretending to believe
them more useful in that position, had stopped the remarks of the
chiefs.

The King, astonished at this silence, and, fearing that he had committed
some gross military blunder by his question, blushed slightly, and,
approaching the group of princes who had accompanied him, said, in order
to reassure himself:

“D’Angouleme, Beaufort, this is very tiresome, is it not? We stand here
like mummies.”

Charles de Valois drew near and said:

“It seems to me, Sire, that they are not employing here the machines of
the engineer Pompee-Targon.”

“Parbleu!” said the Duc de Beaufort, regarding Richelieu fixedly, “that
is because we were more eager to take Rochelle than Perpignan at the
time that Italian came. Here we have not an engine ready, not a mine,
not a petard beneath these walls; and the Marechal de la Meilleraie told
me this morning that he had proposed to bring some with which to open
the breach. It was neither the Castillet, nor the six great bastions
which surround it, nor the half-moon, we should have attacked. If we go
on in this way, the great stone arm of the citadel will show us its fist
a long time yet.”

The Cardinal, still motionless, said not a single word; he only made a
sign to Fabert, who left the group in attendance, and ranged his horse
behind that of Richelieu, close to the captain of his guards.

The Duc de la Rochefoucauld, drawing near the King, said:

“I believe, Sire, that our inactivity makes the enemy insolent, for
look! here is a numerous sally, directing itself straight toward
your Majesty; and the regiments of Biron and De Ponts fall back after
firing.”

“Well!” said the King, drawing his sword, “let us charge and force those
villains back again. Bring on the cavalry with me, D’Angouleme. Where is
it, Cardinal?”

“Behind that hill, Sire, there are in column six regiments of dragoons,
and the carabineers of La Roque; below you are my men-at-arms and my
light horse, whom I pray your Majesty to employ, for those of your
Majesty’s guard are ill guided by the Marquis de Coislin, who is ever
too zealous. Joseph, go tell him to return.”

He whispered to the Capuchin, who had accompanied him, huddled up in
military attire, which he wore awkwardly, and who immediately advanced
into the plain.

In the mean time, the compact columns of the old Spanish infantry issued
from the gate of Notre-Dame like a dark and moving forest, while from
another gate proceeded the heavy cavalry, which drew up on the plain.
The French army, in battle array at the foot of the hill where the King
stood, behind fortifications of earth, behind redoubts and fascines of
turf, perceived with alarm the men-at-arms and the light horse pressed
between these two forces, ten times their superior in numbers.

“Sound the charge!” cried Louis XIII; “or my old Coislin is lost.”

And he descended the hill, with all his suite as ardent as himself; but
before he reached the plain and was at the head of his musketeers, the
two companies had taken their course, dashing off with the rapidity
of lightning, and to the cry of “Vive le Roi!” They fell upon the long
column of the enemy’s cavalry like two vultures upon a serpent; and,
making a large and bloody gap, they passed beyond, and rallied behind
the Spanish bastion, leaving the enemy’s cavalry so astonished that they
thought only of re-forming their own ranks, and not of pursuing.

The French army uttered a burst of applause; the King paused in
amazement. He looked around him, and saw a burning desire for attack in
all eyes; the valor of his race shone in his own. He paused yet another
instant in suspense, listening, intoxicated, to the roar of the cannon,
inhaling the odor of the powder; he seemed to receive another life, and
to become once more a Bourbon. All-who looked on him felt as if they
were commanded by another man, when, raising his sword and his eyes
toward the sun, he cried:

“Follow me, brave friends! here I am King of France!”

His cavalry, deploying, dashed off with an ardor which devoured space,
and, raising billows of dust from the ground, which trembled beneath
them, they were in an instant mingled with the Spanish cavalry, and both
were swallowed up in an immense and fluctuating cloud.

“Now! now!” cried the Cardinal, in a voice of thunder, from his
elevation, “now remove the guns from their useless position! Fabert,
give your orders; let them be all directed upon the infantry which
slowly approaches to surround the King. Haste! save the King!”

Immediately the Cardinal’s suite, until then sitting erect as so
many statues, were in motion. The generals gave their orders; the
aides-de-camp galloped off into the plain, where, leaping over the
ditches, barriers, and palisades, they arrived at their destination
as soon as the thought that directed them and the glance that followed
them.

Suddenly the few and interrupted flashes which had shone from the
discouraged batteries became a continual and immense flame, leaving no
room for the smoke, which rose to the sky in an infinite number of light
and floating wreaths; the volleys of cannon, which had seemed like far
and feeble echoes, changed into a formidable thunder whose roll was as
rapid as that of drums beating the charge; while from three opposite
points large red flashes from fiery mouths fell upon the dark columns
which issued from the besieged city.

Meantime, without changing his position, but with ardent eyes and
imperative gestures, Richelieu ceased not to multiply his orders,
casting upon those who received them a look which implied a sentence of
death if he was not instantly obeyed.

“The King has overthrown the cavalry; but the foot still resist. Our
batteries have only killed, they have not conquered. Forward with
three regiments of infantry instantly, Gassion, La Meilleraie, and
Lesdiguieres! Take the enemy’s columns in flank. Order the rest of the
army to cease from the attack, and to remain motionless throughout the
whole line. Bring paper! I will write myself to Schomberg.”

A page alighted and advanced, holding a pencil and paper. The minister,
supported by four men of his suite, also alighted, but with difficulty,
uttering a cry, wrested from him by pain; but he conquered it by an
effort, and seated himself upon the carriage of a cannon. The page
presented his shoulder as a desk; and the Cardinal hastily penned that
order which contemporary manuscripts have transmitted to us, and which
might well be imitated by the diplomatists of our day, who are, it
seems, more desirous to maintain themselves in perfect balance between
two ideas than to seek those combinations which decide the destinies of
the world, regarding the clear and obvious dictates of true genius as
beneath their profound subtlety.

   “M. le Marechal, do not risk anything, and reflect before you
   attack. When you are thus told that the King desires you not to
   risk anything, you are not to understand that his Majesty forbids
   you to fight at all; but his intention is that you do not engage in
   a general battle unless it be with a notable hope of gain from the
   advantage which a favorable situation may present, the
   responsibility of the battle naturally falling upon you.”

These orders given, the old minister, still seated upon the
gun-carriage, his arms resting upon the touch-hole, and his chin upon
his arms, in the attitude of one who adjusts and points a cannon,
continued in silence to watch the battle, like an old wolf, which, sated
with victims and torpid with age, contemplates in the plain the ravages
of a lion among a herd of cattle, which he himself dares not attack.
From time to time his eye brightens; the smell of blood rejoices him,
and he laps his burning tongue over his toothless jaw.

On that day, it was remarked by his servants--or, in other words, by all
surrounding him--that from the time of his rising until night he took no
nourishment, and so fixed all the application of his soul on the events
which he had to conduct that he triumphed over his physical pains,
seeming, by forgetting, to have destroyed them. It was this power of
attention, this continual presence of mind, that raised him almost
to genius. He would have attained it quite, had he not lacked native
elevation of soul and generous sensibility of heart.

Everything happened upon the field of battle as he had wished, fortune
attending him there as well as in the cabinet. Louis XIII claimed with
eager hand the victory which his minister had procured for him; he
had contributed himself, however, only that grandeur which consists in
personal valor.

The cannon had ceased to roar when the broken columns of infantry fell
back into Perpignan; the remainder had met the same fate, was already
within the walls, and on the plain no living man was to be seen, save
the glittering squadrons of the King, who followed him, forming ranks as
they went.

He returned at a slow walk, and contemplated with satisfaction the
battlefield swept clear of enemies; he passed haughtily under the very
fire of the Spanish guns, which, whether from lack of skill, or by a
secret agreement with the Prime Minister, or from very shame to kill a
king of France, only sent after him a few balls, which, passing two
feet above his head, fell in front of the lines, and merely served to
increase the royal reputation for courage.

At every step, however, that he took toward the spot where Richelieu
awaited him, the King’s countenance changed and visibly fell; he lost
all the flush of combat; the noble sweat of triumph dried upon his brow.
As he approached, his usual pallor returned to his face, as if having
the right to sit alone on a royal head; his look lost its fleeting fire,
and at last, when he joined the Cardinal, a profound melancholy entirely
possessed him. He found the minister as he had left him, on horseback;
the latter, still coldly respectful, bowed, and after a few words of
compliment, placed himself near Louis to traverse the lines and examine
the results of the day, while the princes and great lords, riding at
some distance before and behind, formed a crowd around them.

The wily minister was careful not to say a word or to make a gesture
that could suggest the idea that he had had the slightest share in the
events of the day; and it was remarkable that of all those who came to
hand in their reports, there was not one who did not seem to divine his
thoughts, and exercise care not to compromise his occult power by
open obedience. All reports were made to the King. The Cardinal then
traversed, by the side of the Prince, the right of the camp, which had
not been under his view from the height where he had remained; and
he saw with satisfaction that Schomberg, who knew him well, had acted
precisely as his master had directed, bringing into action only a few
of the light troops, and fighting just enough not to incur reproach for
inaction, and not enough to obtain any distinct result. This line of
conduct charmed the minister, and did not displease the King, whose
vanity cherished the idea of having been the sole conqueror that day. He
even wished to persuade himself, and to have it supposed, that all the
efforts of Schomberg had been fruitless, saying to him that he was not
angry with him, that he had himself just had proof that the enemy before
him was less despicable than had been supposed.

“To show you that you have lost nothing in our estimation,” he added,
“we name you a knight of our order, and we give you public and private
access to our person.”

The Cardinal affectionately pressed his hand as he passed him, and the
Marechal, astonished at this deluge of favors, followed the Prince with
his bent head, like a culprit, recalling, to console himself, all
the brilliant actions of his career which had remained unnoticed, and
mentally attributing to them these unmerited rewards to reconcile them
to his conscience.

The King was about to retrace his steps, when the Due de Beaufort, with
an astonished air, exclaimed:

“But, Sire, have I still the powder in my eyes, or have I been
sun-struck? It appears to me that I see upon yonder bastion several
cavaliers in red uniforms who greatly resemble your light horse whom we
thought to be killed.”

The Cardinal knitted his brows.

“Impossible, Monsieur,” he said; “the imprudence of Monsieur de Coislin
has destroyed his Majesty’s men-at-arms and those cavaliers. It is for
that reason I ventured just now to say to the King that if the useless
corps were suppressed, it might be very advantageous from a military
point of view.”

“Pardieu! your Eminence will pardon me,” answered the Duc de Beaufort;
“but I do not deceive myself, and there are seven or eight of them
driving prisoners before them.”

“Well! let us go to the point,” said the King; “if I find my old Coislin
there I shall be very glad.”

With great caution, the horses of the King and his suite passed across
the marsh, and with infinite astonishment their riders saw on the
ramparts the two red companies in battle array as on parade.

“Vive Dieu!” cried Louis; “I think that not one of them is missing!
Well, Marquis, you keep your word--you take walls on horseback.”

“In my opinion, this point was ill chosen,” said Richelieu, with
disdain; “it in no way advances the taking of Perpignan, and must have
cost many lives.”

“Faith, you are right,” said the King, for the first time since the
intelligence of the Queen’s death addressing the Cardinal without
dryness; “I regret the blood which must have been spilled here.”

“Only two of own young men have been wounded in the attack, Sire,”
 said old Coislin; “and we have gained new companions-in-arms, in the
volunteers who guided us.”

“Who are they?” said the Prince.

“Three of them have modestly retired, Sire; but the youngest, whom you
see, was the first who proposed the assault, and the first to venture
his person in making it. The two companies claim the honor of presenting
him to your Majesty.”

Cinq-Mars, who was on horseback behind the old captain, took off his hat
and showed his pale face, his large, dark eyes, and his long, chestnut
hair.

“Those features remind me of some one,” said the King; “what say you,
Cardinal?”

The latter, who had already cast a penetrating glance at the newcomer,
replied:

“Unless I am mistaken, this young man is--”

“Henri d’Effiat,” said the volunteer, bowing.

“Sire, it is the same whom I had announced to your Majesty, and who was
to have been presented to you by me; the second son of the Marechal.”

“Ah!” said Louis, warmly, “I am glad to see the son of my old friend
presented by this bastion. It is a suitable introduction, my boy, for
one bearing your name. You will follow us to the camp, where we have
much to say to you. But what! you here, Monsieur de Thou? Whom have you
come to judge?”

“Sire,” answered Coislin, “he has condemned to death, without judging,
sundry Spaniards, for he was the second to enter the place.”

“I struck no one, Monsieur,” interrupted De Thou reddening; “it is not
my business. Herein I have no merit; I merely accompanied my friend,
Monsieur de Cinq-Mars.”

“We approve your modesty as well as your bravery, and we shall not
forget this. Cardinal, is there not some presidency vacant?”

Richelieu did not like De Thou. And as the sources of his dislike
were always mysterious, it was difficult to guess the cause of this
animosity; it revealed itself in a cruel word that escaped him. The
motive was a passage in the history of the President De Thou--the father
of the young man now in question--wherein he stigmatized, in the eyes of
posterity, a granduncle of the Cardinal, an apostate monk, sullied with
every human vice.

Richelieu, bending to Joseph’s ear, whispered:

“You see that man; his father put my name into his history. Well, I
will put his into mine.” And, truly enough, he subsequently wrote it in
blood. At this moment, to avoid answering the King, he feigned not
to have heard his question, and to be wholly intent upon the merit of
Cinq-Mars and the desire to see him well placed at court.

“I promised you beforehand to make him a captain in my guards,” said the
Prince; “let him be nominated to-morrow. I would know more of him, and
raise him to a higher fortune, if he pleases me. Let us now retire; the
sun has set, and we are far from our army. Tell my two good companies to
follow us.”

The minister, after repeating the order, omitting the implied praise,
placed himself on the King’s right hand, and the whole court quitted
the bastion, now confided to the care of the Swiss, and returned to the
camp.

The two red companies defiled slowly through the breach which they
had effected with such promptitude; their countenances were grave and
silent.

Cinq-Mars went up to his friend.

“These are heroes but ill recompensed,” said he; “not a favor, not a
compliment.”

“I, on the other hand,” said the simple De Thou “I, who came here
against my will--receive one. Such are courts, such is life; but above
us is the true judge, whom men can not blind.”

“This will not prevent us from meeting death tomorrow, if necessary,”
 said the young Olivier, laughing.



CHAPTER XI. THE BLUNDERS

In order to appear before the King, Cinq-Mars had been compelled to
mount the charger of one of the light horse, wounded in the affair,
having lost his own at the foot of the rampart. As the two companies
were marching out, he felt some one touch his shoulder, and, turning
round, saw old Grandchamp leading a very beautiful gray horse.

“Will Monsieur le Marquis mount a horse of his own?” said he. “I have
put on the saddle and housings of velvet embroidered in gold that
remained in the trench. Alas, when I think that a Spaniard might have
taken it, or even a Frenchman! For just now there are so many people who
take all they find, as if it were their own; and then, as the proverb
says, ‘What falls in the ditch is for the soldier.’ They might also have
taken the four hundred gold crowns that Monsieur le Marquis, be it said
without reproach, forgot to take out of the holsters. And the pistols!
Oh, what pistols! I bought them in Germany; and here they are as good as
ever, and with their locks perfect. It was quite enough to kill the poor
little black horse, that was born in England as sure as I was at Tours
in Touraine, without also exposing these valuables to pass into the
hands of the enemy.”

While making this lamentation, the worthy man finished saddling the gray
horse. The column was long enough filing out to give him time to pay
scrupulous attention to the length of the stirrups and of the bands, all
the while continuing his harangue.

“I beg your pardon, Monsieur, for being somewhat slow about this; but I
sprained my arm slightly in lifting Monsieur de Thou, who himself raised
Monsieur le Marquis during the grand scuffle.”

“How camest thou there at all, stupid?” said Cinq-Mars. “That is not thy
business. I told thee to remain in the camp.”

“Oh, as to remaining in the camp, that is out of the question. I can’t
stay there; when I hear a musket-shot, I should be ill did I not see the
flash. As for my business, that is to take care of your horses, and you
are on them. Monsieur, think you I should not have saved, had I been
able, the life of the poor black horse down there in the trench? Ah, how
I loved him!--a horse that gained three races in his time--a time too
short for those who loved him as I loved him! He never would take his
corn but from his dear Grandchamp; and then he would caress me with
his head. The end of my left ear that he carried away one day--poor
fellow!--proves it, for it was not out of ill-will he bit it off; quite
the contrary. You should have heard how he neighed with rage when any
one else came near him; that was the reason why he broke Jean’s leg.
Good creature, I loved him so!

“When he fell I held him on one side with one hand and M. de Locmaria
with the other. I thought at first that both he and that gentleman would
recover; but unhappily only one of them returned to life, and that was
he whom I least knew. You seem to be laughing at what I say about your
horse, Monsieur; you forget that in times of war the horse is the
soul of the cavalier. Yes, Monsieur, his soul; for what is it that
intimidates the infantry? It is the horse! It certainly is not the man,
who, once seated, is little more than a bundle of hay. Who is it that
performs the fine deeds that men admire? The horse. There are times when
his master, who a moment before would rather have been far away, finds
himself victorious and rewarded for his horse’s valor, while the poor
beast gets nothing but blows. Who is it gains the prize in the race? The
horse, that sups hardly better than usual, while the master pockets the
gold, and is envied by his friends and admired by all the lords as if he
had run himself. Who is it that hunts the roebuck, yet puts but a morsel
in his own mouth? Again, the horse; sometimes the horse is even
eaten himself, poor animal! I remember in a campaign with Monsieur le
Marechal, it happened that--But what is the matter, Monsieur, you grow
pale?”

“Bind up my leg with something--a handkerchief, a strap, or what you
will. I feel a burning pain there; I know not what.”

“Your boot is cut, Monsieur. It may be some ball; however, lead is the
friend of man.”

“It is no friend of mine, at all events.”

“Ah, who loves, chastens! Lead must not be ill spoken of! What is
that--”

While occupied in binding his master’s leg below the knee, the worthy
Grandchamp was about to hold forth in praise of lead as absurdly as he
had in praise of the horse, when he was forced, as well as Cinq-Mars,
to hear a warm and clamorous dispute among some Swiss soldiers who
had remained behind the other troops. They were talking with much
gesticulation, and seemed busied with two men among a group of about
thirty soldiers.

D’Effiat, still holding out his leg to his servant, and leaning on the
saddle of his horse, tried, by listening attentively, to understand the
subject of the colloquy; but he knew nothing of German, and could not
comprehend the dispute. Grandchamp, who, still holding the boot, had
also been listening very seriously, suddenly burst into loud laughter,
holding his sides in a manner not usual with him.

“Ha, ha, ha! Monsieur, here are two sergeants disputing which they ought
to hang of the two Spaniards there; for your red comrades did not take
the trouble to tell them. One of the Swiss says that it’s the officer,
the other that it’s the soldier; a third has just made a proposition for
meeting the difficulty.”

“And what does he say?”

“He suggests that they hang them both.”

“Stop! stop!” cried Cinq-Mars to the soldiers, attempting to walk; but
his leg would not support him.

“Put me on my horse, Grandchamp.”

“Monsieur, you forget your wound.”

“Do as I command, and then mount thyself.”

The old servant grumblingly obeyed, and then galloped off, in fulfilment
of another imperative order, to stop the Swiss, who were just about to
hang their two prisoners to a tree, or to let them hang themselves; for
the officer, with the sang-froid of his nation, had himself passed the
running noose of a rope around his own neck, and, without being told,
had ascended a small ladder placed against the tree, in order to tie the
other end of the rope to one of its branches. The soldier, with the same
calm indifference, was looking on at the Swiss disputing around him,
while holding the ladder.

Cinq-Mars arrived in time to save them, gave his name to the Swiss
sergeant, and, employing Grandchamp as interpreter, said that the two
prisoners were his, and that he would take them to his tent; that he was
a captain in the guards, and would be responsible for them. The German,
ever exact in discipline, made no reply; the only resistance was on
the part of the prisoner. The officer, still on the top of the ladder,
turned round, and speaking thence as from a pulpit, said, with a
sardonic laugh:

“I should much like to know what you do here? Who told you I wished to
live?”

“I do not ask to know anything about that,” said Cinq-Mars; “it matters
not to me what becomes of you afterward. All I propose now is to
prevent an act which seems to me unjust and cruel. You may kill yourself
afterward, if you like.”

“Well said,” returned the ferocious Spaniard; “you please me. I thought
at first you meant to affect the generous in order to oblige me to be
grateful, which is a thing I detest. Well, I consent to come down; but I
shall hate you as much as ever, for you are a Frenchman. Nor do I thank
you, for you only discharge a debt you owe me, since it was I who this
morning kept you from being shot by this young soldier while he was
taking aim at you; and he is a man who never missed a chamois in the
mountains of Leon.”

“Be it as you will,” said Cinq-Mars; “come down.”

It was his character ever to assume with others the mien they wore
toward him; and the rudeness of the Spaniard made him as hard as iron
toward him.

“A proud rascal that, Monsieur,” said Grandchamp; “in your place
Monsieur le Marechal would certainly have left him on his ladder.
Come, Louis, Etienne, Germain, escort Monsieur’s prisoners--a fine
acquisition, truly! If they bring you any luck, I shall be very much
surprised.”

Cinq-Mars, suffering from the motion of his horse, rode only at the pace
of his prisoners on foot, and was accordingly at a distance behind the
red companies, who followed close upon the King. He meditated on his way
what it could be that the Prince desired to say to him. A ray of hope
presented to his mind the figure of Marie de Mantua in the distance; and
for a moment his thoughts were calmed. But all his future lay in that
brief sentence--“to please the King”; and he began to reflect upon all
the bitterness in which his task might involve him.

At that moment he saw approaching his friend, De Thou, who, anxious at
his remaining behind, had sought him in the plain, eager to aid him if
necessary.

“It is late, my friend; night approaches. You have delayed long; I
feared for you. Whom have you here? What has detained you? The King will
soon be asking for you.”

Such were the rapid inquiries of the young counsellor, whose anxiety,
more than the battle itself, had made him lose his accustomed serenity.

“I was slightly wounded; I bring a prisoner, and I was thinking of the
King. What can he want me for, my friend? What must I do if he
proposes to place me about his person? I must please him; and at this
thought--shall I own it?--I am tempted to fly. But I trust that I shall
not have that fatal honor. ‘To please,’ how humiliating the word!
‘to obey’ quite the opposite! A soldier runs the chance of death,
and there’s an end. But in what base compliances, what sacrifices of
himself, what compositions with his conscience, what degradation of his
own thought, may not a courtier be involved! Ah, De Thou, my dear De
Thou! I am not made for the court; I feel it, though I have seen it but
for a moment. There is in my temperament a certain savageness, which
education has polished only on the surface. At a distance, I thought
myself adapted to live in this all-powerful world; I even desired it,
led by a cherished hope of my heart. But I shuddered at the first step;
I shuddered at the mere sight of the Cardinal. The recollection of the
last of his crimes, at which I was present, kept me from addressing him.
He horrifies me; I never can endure to be near him. The King’s favor,
too, has that about it which dismays me, as if I knew it would be fatal
to me.”

“I am glad to perceive this apprehension in you; it may be most
salutary,” said De Thou, as they rode on. “You are about to enter into
contact with power. Before, you did not even conceive it; now you will
touch it with your very hand. You will see what it is, and what hand
hurls the lightning. Heaven grant that that lightning may never strike
you! You will probably be present in those councils which regulate the
destiny of nations; you will see, you will perchance originate, those
caprices whence are born sanguinary wars, conquests, and treaties;
you will hold in your hand the drop of water which swells into mighty
torrents. It is only from high places that men can judge of human
affairs; you must look from the mountaintop ere you can appreciate the
littleness of those things which from below appear to us great.”

“Ah, were I on those heights, I should at least learn the lesson
you speak of; but this Cardinal, this man to whom I must be under
obligation, this man whom I know too well by his works--what will he be
to me?”

“A friend, a protector, no doubt,” answered De Thou.

“Death were a thousand times preferable to his friendship! I hate his
whole being, even his very name; he spills the blood of men with the
cross of the Redeemer!”

“What horrors are you saying, my friend? You will ruin yourself if you
reveal your sentiments respecting the Cardinal to the King.”

“Never mind; in the midst of these tortuous ways, I desire to take a new
one, the right line. My whole opinion, the opinion of a just man, shall
be unveiled to the King himself, if he interrogate me, even should it
cost me my head. I have at last seen this King, who has been described
to me as so weak; I have seen him, and his aspect has touched me to the
heart in spite of myself. Certainly, he is very unfortunate, but he can
not be cruel; he will listen to the truth.”

“Yes; but he will not dare to make it triumph,” answered the sage De
Thou. “Beware of this warmth of heart, which often draws you by sudden
and dangerous movements. Do not attack a colossus like Richelieu without
having measured him.”

“That is just like my tutor, the Abbe Quillet. My dear and prudent
friend, neither the one nor the other of you know me; you do not know
how weary I am of myself, and whither I have cast my gaze. I must mount
or die.”

“What! already ambitious?” exclaimed De Thou, with extreme surprise.

His friend inclined his head upon his hands, abandoning the reins of his
horse, and did not answer.

“What! has this selfish passion of a riper age obtained possession of
you at twenty, Henri? Ambition is the saddest of all hopes.”

“And yet it possesses me entirely at present, for I see only by means of
it, and by it my whole heart is penetrated.”

“Ah, Cinq-Mars, I no longer recognize you! how different you were
formerly! I do not conceal from you that you appear to me to have
degenerated. In those walks of our childhood, when the life, and, above
all, the death of Socrates, caused tears of admiration and envy to
flow from our eyes; when, raising ourselves to the ideal of the
highest virtue, we wished that those illustrious sorrows, those sublime
misfortunes, which create great men, might in the future come upon us;
when we constructed for ourselves imaginary occasions of sacrifices
and devotion--if the voice of a man had pronounced, between us two, the
single world, ‘ambition,’ we should have believed that we were touching
a serpent.”

De Thou spoke with the heat of enthusiasm and of reproach. Cinq-Mars
went on without answering, and still with his face in his hands. After
an instant of silence he removed them, and allowed his eyes to be seen,
full of generous tears. He pressed the hand of his friend warmly, and
said to him, with a penetrating accent:

“Monsieur de Thou, you have recalled to me the most beautiful thoughts
of my earliest youth. Do not believe that I have fallen; I am consumed
by a secret hope which I can not confide even to you. I despise, as much
as you, the ambition which will seem to possess me. All the world will
believe in it; but what do I care for the world? As for you, noble
friend, promise me that you will not cease to esteem me, whatever you
may see me do. I swear that my thoughts are as pure as heaven itself!”

“Well,” said De Thou, “I swear by heaven that I believe you blindly; you
give me back my life!”

They shook hands again with effusion of heart, and then perceived that
they had arrived almost before the tent of the King.

Day was nearly over; but one might have believed that a softer day
was rising, for the moon issued from the sea in all her splendor. The
transparent sky of the south showed not a single cloud, and it seemed
like a veil of pale blue sown with silver spangles; the air, still hot,
was agitated only by the rare passage of breezes from the Mediterranean;
and all sounds had ceased upon the earth. The fatigued army reposed
beneath their tents, the line of which was marked by the fires, and the
besieged city seemed oppressed by the same slumber; upon its ramparts
nothing was to be seen but the arms of the sentinels, which shone in the
rays of the moon, or the wandering fire of the night-rounds. Nothing was
to be heard but the gloomy and prolonged cries of its guards, who warned
one another not to sleep.

It was only around the King that all things waked, but at a great
distance from him. This Prince had dismissed all his suite; he walked
alone before his tent, and, pausing sometimes to contemplate the beauty
of the heavens, he appeared plunged in melancholy meditation. No one
dared to interrupt him; and those of the nobility who had remained in
the royal quarters had gathered about the Cardinal, who, at twenty paces
from the King, was seated upon a little hillock of turf, fashioned into
a seat by the soldiers. There he wiped his pale forehead, fatigued
with the cares of the day and with the unaccustomed weight of a suit of
armor; he bade adieu, in a few hurried but always attentive and polite
words, to those who came to salute him as they retired. No one was near
him now except Joseph, who was talking with Laubardemont. The Cardinal
was looking at the King, to see whether, before reentering, this Prince
would not speak to him, when the sound of the horses of Cinq-Mars was
heard. The Cardinal’s guards questioned him, and allowed him to advance
without followers, and only with De Thou.

“You are come too late, young man, to speak with the King,” said the
Cardinal-Duke with a sharp voice. “One can not make his Majesty wait.”

The two friends were about to retire, when the voice of Louis XIII
himself made itself heard. This Prince was at that moment in one of
those false positions which constituted the misfortune of his whole
life. Profoundly irritated against his minister, but not concealing from
himself that he owed the success of the day to him, desiring, moreover,
to announce to him his intention to quit the army and to raise the siege
of Perpignan, he was torn between the desire of speaking to the Cardinal
and the fear lest his anger might be weakened. The minister, upon
his part, dared not be the first to speak, being uncertain as to the
thoughts which occupied his master, and fearing to choose his time
ill, but yet not able to decide upon retiring. Both found themselves
precisely in the position of two lovers who have quarrelled and desire
to have an explanation, when the King, seized with joy the first
opportunity of extricating himself. The chance was fatal to the
minister. See upon what trifles depend those destinies which are called
great.

“Is it not Monsieur de Cinq-Mars?” said the King, in a loud voice. “Let
him approach; I am waiting for him.”

Young D’Effiat approached on horseback, and at some paces from the King
desired to set foot to earth; but hardly had his leg touched the ground
when he dropped upon his knees.

“Pardon, Sire!” said he, “I believe that I am wounded;” and the blood
issued violently from his boot.

De Thou had seen him fall, and had approached to sustain him. Richelieu
seized this opportunity of advancing also, with dissembled eagerness.

“Remove this spectacle from the eyes of the King,” said he. “You see
very well that this young man is dying.”

“Not at all,” said Louis, himself supporting him; “a king of France
knows how to see a man die, and has no fear of the blood which flows for
him. This young man interests me. Let him be carried into my tent, and
let my doctors attend him. If his wound is not serious, he shall come
with me to Paris, for the siege is suspended, Monsieur le Cardinal. Such
is my desire; other affairs call me to the centre of the kingdom. I will
leave you here to command in my absence. This is what I desired to say
to you.”

With these words the King went abruptly into his tent, preceded by his
pages and his officers, carrying flambeaux.

The royal pavilion was closed, and Cinq-Mars was borne in by De Thou and
his people, while the Duc de Richelieu, motionless and stupefied,
still regarded the spot where this scene had passed. He appeared
thunder-struck, and incapable of seeing or hearing those who observed
him.

Laubardemont, still intimidated by his ill reception of the preceding
day, dared not speak a word to him, and Joseph hardly recognized in him
his former master. For an instant he regretted having given himself to
him, and fancied that his star was waning; but, reflecting that he was
hated by all men and had no resource save in Richelieu, he seized him
by the arm, and, shaking him roughly, said to him in a low voice, but
harshly:

“Come, come, Monseigneur, you are chickenhearted; come with us.”

And, appearing to sustain him by the elbow, but in fact drawing him in
spite of himself, with the aid of Laubardemont, he made him enter his
tent, as a schoolmaster forces a schoolboy to rest, fearing the effects
of the evening mist upon him.

The prematurely aged man slowly obeyed the wishes of his two parasites,
and the purple of the pavilion dropped upon him.



CHAPTER XII. THE NIGHT-WATCH

        O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!
        The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight,
        Cold, fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.
        What do I fear? Myself?
        I love myself!
             SHAKESPEARE.

Hardly was the Cardinal in his tent before he dropped, armed and
cuirassed, into a great armchair; and there, holding his handkerchief to
his mouth with a fixed gaze, he remained in this attitude, letting
his two dark confidants wonder whether contemplation or annihilation
maintained him in it. He was deadly pale, and a cold sweat streamed upon
his brow. In wiping it with a sudden movement, he threw behind him his
red cap, the only ecclesiastical sign which remained upon him, and again
rested with his mouth upon his hands. The Capuchin on one side, and the
sombre magistrate on the other, considered him in silence, and seemed,
with their brown and black costumes like the priest and the notary of a
dying man.

The friar, drawing from the depth of his chest a voice that seemed
better suited to repeat the service of the dead than to administer
consolation, spoke first:

“If Monseigneur will recall my counsels given at Narbonne, he will
confess that I had a just presentiment of the troubles which this young
man would one day cause him.”

The magistrate continued:

“I have learned from the old deaf abbe who dined at the house of
the Marechale d’Effiat, and who heard all, that this young Cinq-Mars
exhibited more energy than one would have imagined, and that he
attempted to rescue the Marechal de Bassompierre. I have still by me
the detailed report of the deaf man, who played his part very well. His
Eminence the Cardinal must be sufficiently convinced by it.”

“I have told Monseigneur,” resumed Joseph--for these two ferocious Seyds
alternated their discourse like the shepherds of Virgil--“I have told
him that it would be well to get rid of this young D’Effiat, and that I
would charge myself with the business, if such were his good pleasure.
It would be easy to destroy him in the opinion of the King.”

“It would be safer to make him die of his wound,” answered Laubardemont;
“if his Eminence would have the goodness to command me, I know
intimately the assistant-physician, who cured me of a blow on the
forehead, and is now attending to him. He is a prudent man, entirely
devoted to Monseigneur the Cardinal-Duke, and whose affairs have been
somewhat embarrassed by gambling.”

“I believe,” replied Joseph, with an air of modesty, mingled with a
touch of bitterness, “that if his Excellency proposed to employ any one
in this useful project, it should be his accustomed negotiator, who has
had some success in the past.”

“I fancy that I could enumerate some signal instances,” answered
Laubardemont, “and very recent ones, of which the difficulty was great.”

“Ah, no doubt,” said the father, with a bow and an air of consideration
and politeness, “your most bold and skilfully executed commission
was the trial of Urbain Grandier, the magician. But, with Heaven’s
assistance, one may be enabled to do things quite as worthy and bold. It
is not without merit, for instance,” added he, dropping his eyes like a
young girl, “to have extirpated vigorously a royal Bourbon branch.”

“It was not very difficult,” answered the magistrate, with bitterness,
“to select a soldier from the guards to kill the Comte de Soissons; but
to preside, to judge--”

“And to execute one’s self,” interrupted the heated Capuchin, “is
certainly less difficult than to educate a man from infancy in the
thought of accomplishing great things with discretion, and to bear all
tortures, if necessary, for the love of heaven, rather than reveal
the name of those who have armed him with their justice, or to die
courageously upon the body of him that he has struck, as did one who
was commissioned by me. He uttered no cry at the blow of the sword of
Riquemont, the equerry of the Prince. He died like a saint; he was my
pupil.”

“To give orders is somewhat different from running risk one’s self.”

“And did I risk nothing at the siege of Rochelle?”

“Of being drowned in a sewer, no doubt,” said Laubardemont.

“And you,” said Joseph, “has your danger been that of catching your
fingers in instruments of torture? And all this because the Abbess of
the Ursulines is your niece.”

“It was a good thing for your brothers of Saint Francis, who held the
hammers; but I--I was struck in the forehead by this same Cinq-Mars, who
was leading an enraged multitude.”

“Are you quite sure of that?” cried Joseph, delighted. “Did he dare to
act thus against the commands of the King?” The joy which this discovery
gave him made him forget his anger.

“Fools!” exclaimed the Cardinal, suddenly breaking his long silence,
and taking from his lips his handkerchief stained with blood. “I would
punish your angry dispute had it not taught me many secrets of infamy
on your part. You have exceeded my orders; I commanded no torture,
Laubardemont. That is your second fault. You cause me to be hated for
nothing; that was useless. But you, Joseph, do not neglect the details
of this disturbance in which Cinq-Mars was engaged; it may be of use in
the end.”

“I have all the names and descriptions,” said the secret judge, eagerly,
bending his tall form and thin, olive-colored visage, wrinkled with a
servile smile, down to the armchair.

“It is well! it is well!” said the minister, pushing him back; “but
that is not the question yet. You, Joseph, be in Paris before this young
upstart, who will become a favorite, I am certain. Become his friend;
make him of my party or destroy him. Let him serve me or fall. But,
above all, send me every day safe persons to give me verbal accounts. I
will have no more writing for the future. I am much displeased with
you, Joseph. What a miserable courier you chose to send from Cologne! He
could not understand me. He saw the King too soon, and here we are still
in disgrace in consequence. You have just missed ruining me entirely. Go
and observe what is about to be done in Paris. A conspiracy will soon be
hatched against me; but it will be the last. I remain here in order
to let them all act more freely. Go, both of you, and send me my valet
after the lapse of two hours; I wish now to be alone.”

The steps of the two men were still to be heard as Richelieu, with eyes
fixed upon the entrance to the tent, pursued them with his irritated
glance.

“Wretches!” he exclaimed, when he was alone, “go and accomplish some
more secret work, and afterward I will crush you, in pure instruments
of my power. The King will soon succumb beneath the slow malady which
consumes him. I shall then be regent; I shall be King of France myself;
I shall no longer have to dread the caprices of his weakness. I will
destroy the haughty races of this country. I will be alone above them
all. Europe shall tremble.”

Here the blood, which again filled his mouth, obliged him to apply his
handkerchief to it once more.

“Ah, what do I say? Unhappy victim that I am! Here am I, death-stricken!
My dissolution is near; my blood flows, and my spirit desires to labor
still. Why? For whom? Is it for glory? That is an empty word. Is it for
men? I despise them. For whom, then, since I shall die, perhaps, in two
or three years? Is it for God? What a name! I have not walked with Him!
He has seen all--”

Here he let his head fall upon his breast, and his eyes met the great
cross of gold which was suspended from his neck. He could not help
throwing himself back in his chair; but it followed him. He took it; and
considering it with fixed and devouring looks, he said in a low voice:

“Terrible sign! thou followest me! Shall I find thee elsewhere--divinity
and suffering? What am I? What have I done?”

For the first time a singular and unknown terror penetrated him. He
trembled, at once frozen and scorched by an invincible shudder. He dared
not lift his eyes, fearing to meet some terrible vision. He dared not
call, fearing to hear the sound of his own voice. He remained profoundly
plunged in meditations on eternity, so terrible for him, and he murmured
the following kind of prayer:

“Great God, if Thou hearest me, judge me then, but do not isolate me
in judging me! Look upon me, surrounded by the men of my generation;
consider the immense work I had undertaken! Was not an enormous lever
wanted to bestir those masses; and if this lever in falling crushes some
useless wretches, am I very culpable? I seem wicked to men; but Thou,
Supreme judge, dost thou regard me thus?

“No; Thou knowest it is boundless power which makes creature culpable
against creature. It is not Armand de Richelieu who destroys; it is the
Prime-Minister. It is not for his personal injuries; it is to carry out
a system. But a system--what is this word? Is it permitted me to play
thus with men, to regard them as numbers for working out a thought,
which perhaps is false? I overturn the framework of the throne. What if,
without knowing it, I sap its foundations and hasten its fall! Yes, my
borrowed power has seduced me. O labyrinth! O weakness of human thought!
Simple faith, why did I quit thy path? Why am I not a simple priest? If
I dared to break with man and give myself to God, the ladder of Jacob
would again descend in my dreams.”

At this moment his ear was struck by a great noise outside--laughter of
soldiers, ferocious shouts and oaths, mingled with words which were a
long time sustained by a weak yet clear voice; one would have said it
was the voice of an angel interrupted by the laughter of demons. He
rose and opened a sort of linen window, worked in the side of his square
tent. A singular spectacle presented itself to his view; he remained
some instants contemplating it, attentive to the conversation which was
going on.

“Listen, listen, La Valeur!” said one soldier to another. “See, she
begins again to speak and to sing!”

“Put her in the middle of the circle, between us and the fire.”

“You do not know her! You do not know her!” said another. “But here is
Grand-Ferre, who says that he knows her.”

“Yes, I tell you I know her; and, by Saint Peter of Loudun, I will swear
that I have seen her in my village, when I had leave of absence; and it
was upon an occasion at which one shuddered, but concerning which one
dares not talk, especially to a Cardinalist like you.”

“Eh! and pray why dare not one speak of it, you great simpleton?” said
an old soldier, twisting up his moustache.

“It is not spoken of because it burns the tongue. Do you understand
that?”

“No, I don’t understand it.”

“Well, nor I neither; but certain citizens told it to me.”

Here a general laugh interrupted him.

“Ha, ha, ha! is he a fool?” said one. “He listens to what the townsfolk
tell him.”

“Ah, well! if you listen to their gabble, you have time to lose,” said
another.

“You do not know, then, what my mother said, greenhorn?” said the
eldest, gravely dropping his eyes with a solemn air, to compel
attention.

“Eh! how can you think that I know it, La Pipe? Your mother must have
died of old age before my grandfather came into the world.”

“Well, greenhorn, I will tell you! You shall know, first of all, that my
mother was a respectable Bohemian, as much attached to the regiment of
carabineers of La Roque as my dog Canon there. She carried brandy round
her neck in a barrel, and drank better than the best of us. She had
fourteen husbands, all soldiers, who died upon the field of battle.”

“Ha! that was a woman!” interrupted the soldiers, full of respect.

“And never once in her life did she speak to a townsman, unless it was
to say to him on coming to her lodging, ‘Light my candle and warm my
soup.’”

“Well, and what was it that your mother said to you?”

“If you are in such a hurry, you shall not know, greenhorn. She said
habitually in her talk, ‘A soldier is better than a dog; but a dog is
better than a bourgeois.’”

“Bravo! bravo! that was well said!” cried the soldier, filled with
enthusiasm at these fine words.

“That,” said Grand-Ferre, “does not prove that the citizens who made the
remark to me that it burned the tongue were in the right; besides, they
were not altogether citizens, for they had swords, and they were grieved
at a cure being burned, and so was I.”

“Eh! what was it to you that they burned your cure, great simpleton?”
 said a sergeant, leaning upon the fork of his arquebus; “after him
another would come. You might have taken one of our generals in his
stead, who are all cures at present; for me, I am a Royalist, and I say
it frankly.”

“Hold your tongue!” cried La Pipe; “let the girl speak. It is these dogs
of Royalists who always disturb us in our amusements.”

“What say you?” answered Grand-Ferre. “Do you even know what it is to be
a Royalist?”

“Yes,” said La Pipe; “I know you all very well. Go, you are for the old
self-called princes of the peace, together with the wranglers against
the Cardinal and the gabelle. Am I right or not?”

“No, old red-stocking. A Royalist is one who is for the King; that’s
what it is. And as my father was the King’s valet, I am for the King,
you see; and I have no liking for the red-stockings, I can tell you.”

“Ah, you call me red-stocking, eh?” answered the old soldier. “You
shall give me satisfaction to-morrow morning. If you had made war in
the Valteline, you would not talk like that; and if you had seen his
Eminence marching upon the dike at Rochelle, with the old Marquis de
Spinola, while volleys of cannonshot were sent after him, you would have
nothing to say about red-stockings.”

“Come, let us amuse ourselves, instead of quarrelling,” said the other
soldiers.

The men who conversed thus were standing round a great fire, which
illuminated them more than the moon, beautiful as it was; and in the
centre of the group was the object of their gathering and their cries.
The Cardinal perceived a young woman arrayed in black and covered with
a long, white veil. Her feet were bare; a thick cord clasped her elegant
figure; a long rosary fell from her neck almost to her feet, and her
hands, delicate and white as ivory, turned its beads and made them pass
rapidly beneath her fingers. The soldiers, with a barbarous joy, amused
themselves with laying little brands in her way to burn her naked feet.
The oldest took the smoking match of his arquebus, and, approaching it
to the edge of her robe, said in a hoarse voice:

“Come, madcap, tell me your history, or I will fill you with powder and
blow you up like a mine; take care, for I have already played that trick
to others besides you, in the old wars of the Huguenots. Come, sing.”

The young woman, looking at him gravely, made no reply, but lowered her
veil.

“You don’t manage her well,” said Grand-Ferre, with a drunken laugh;
“you will make her cry. You don’t know the fine language of the court;
let me speak to her.” And, touching her on the chin, “My little heart,”
 he said, “if you will please, my sweet, to resume the little story you
told just now to these gentlemen, I will pray you to travel with me upon
the river Du Tendre, as the great ladies of Paris say, and to take a
glass of brandy with your faithful chevalier, who met you formerly at
Loudun, when you played a comedy in order to burn a poor devil.”

The young woman crossed her arms, and, looking around her with an
imperious air, cried:

“Withdraw, in the name of the God of armies; withdraw, impious men!
There is nothing in common between us. I do not understand your tongue,
nor you mine. Go, sell your blood to the princes of the earth at so many
oboles a day, and leave me to accomplish my mission! Conduct me to the
Cardinal.”

A coarse laugh interrupted her.

“Do you think,” said a carabineer of Maurevert, “that his Eminence the
Generalissimo will receive you with your feet naked? Go and wash them.”

“The Lord has said, ‘Jerusalem, lift thy robe, and pass the rivers of
water,’” she answered, her arms still crossed. “Let me be conducted to
the Cardinal.”

Richelieu cried in a loud voice, “Bring the woman to me, and let her
alone!”

All were silent; they conducted her to the minister.

“Why,” said she, beholding him--“why bring me before an armed man?”

They left her alone with him without answering.

The Cardinal looked at her with a suspicious air. “Madame,” said he,
“what are you doing in the camp at this hour? And if your mind is not
disordered, why these naked feet?”

“It is a vow; it is a vow,” answered the young woman, with an air of
impatience, seating herself beside him abruptly. “I have also made a vow
not to eat until I have found the man I seek.”

“My sister,” said the Cardinal, astonished and softened, looking
closely at her, “God does not exact such rigors from a weak body, and
particularly from one of your age, for you seem very young.”

“Young! oh, yes, I was very young a few days ago; but I have since
passed two existences at least, so much have I thought and suffered.
Look on my countenance.”

And she discovered a face of perfect beauty. Black and very regular
eyes gave life to it; but in their absence one might have thought her
features were those of a phantom, she was so pale. Her lips were blue
and quivering; and a strong shudder made her teeth chatter.

“You are ill, my sister,” said the minister, touched, taking her hand,
which he felt to be burning hot. A sort of habit of inquiring concerning
his own health, and that of others, made him touch the pulse of her
emaciated arm; he felt that the arteries were swollen by the beatings of
a terrible fever.

“Alas!” he continued, with more of interest, “you have killed yourself
with rigors beyond human strength! I have always blamed them, and
especially at a tender age. What, then, has induced you to do this? Is
it to confide it to me that you are come? Speak calmly, and be sure of
succor.”

“Confide in men!” answered the young woman; “oh, no, never! All have
deceived me. I will confide myself to no one, not even to Monsieur
Cinq-Mars, although he must soon die.”

“What!” said Richelieu, contracting his brows, but with a bitter
laugh,--“what! do you know this young man? Has he been the cause of your
misfortune?”

“Oh, no! He is very good, and hates wickedness; that is what will ruin
him. Besides,” said she, suddenly assuming a harsh and savage air, “men
are weak, and there are things which women must accomplish. When there
were no more valiant men in Israel, Deborah arose.”

“Ah! how came you with all this fine learning?” continued the Cardinal,
still holding her hand.

“Oh, I can’t explain that!” answered she, with a touching air of naivete
and a very gentle voice; “you would not understand me. It is the Devil
who has taught me all, and who has destroyed me.”

“Ah, my child! it is always he who destroys us; but he instructs
us ill,” said Richelieu, with an air of paternal protection and an
increasing pity. “What have been your faults? Tell them to me; I am very
powerful.”

“Ah,” said she, with a look of doubt, “you have much influence over
warriors, brave men and generals! Beneath your cuirass must beat a noble
heart; you are an old General who knows nothing of the tricks of crime.”

Richelieu smiled; this mistake flattered him.

“I heard you ask for the Cardinal; do you desire to see him? Did you
come here to seek him?”

The girl drew back and placed a finger upon her forehead.

“I had forgotten it,” said she; “you have talked to me too much. I had
overlooked this idea, and yet it is an important one; it is for that
that I have condemned myself to the hunger which is killing me. I must
accomplish it, or I shall die first. Ah,” said she, putting her hand
beneath her robe in her bosom, whence she appeared to take something,
“behold it! this idea--”

She suddenly blushed, and her eyes widened extraordinarily. She
continued, bending to the ear of the Cardinal:

“I will tell you; listen! Urbain Grandier, my lover Urbain, told me this
night that it was Richelieu who had been the cause of his death. I took
a knife from an inn, and I come here to kill him; tell me where he is.”

The Cardinal, surprised and terrified, recoiled with horror. He
dared not call his guards, fearing the cries of this woman and her
accusations; nevertheless, a transport of this madness might be fatal to
him.

“This frightful history will pursue me everywhere!” cried he, looking
fixedly at her, and thinking within himself of the course he should
take.

They remained in silence, face to face, in the same attitude, like
two wrestlers who contemplate before attacking each other, or like the
pointer and his victim petrified by the power of a look.

In the mean time, Laubardemont and Joseph had gone forth together; and
ere separating they talked for a moment before the tent of the Cardinal,
because they were eager mutually to deceive each other. Their hatred
had acquired new force by their recent quarrel; and each had resolved
to ruin his rival in the mind of his master. The judge then began the
dialogue, which each of them had prepared, taking the arm of the other
as by one and the same movement.

“Ah, reverend father! how you have afflicted me by seeming to take in
ill part the trifling pleasantries which I said to you just now.”

“Heavens, no! my dear Monsieur, I am far from that. Charity, where would
be charity? I have sometimes a holy warmth in conversation, for the good
of the State and of Monseigneur, to whom I am entirely devoted.”

“Ah, who knows it better than I, reverend father? But render me justice;
you also know how completely I am attached to his Eminence the Cardinal,
to whom I owe all. Alas! I have employed too much zeal in serving him,
since he reproaches me with it.”

“Reassure yourself,” said Joseph; “he bears no ill-will toward you. I
know him well; he can appreciate one’s actions in favor of one’s family.
He, too, is a very good relative.”

“Yes, there it is,” answered Laubardemont; “consider my condition.
My niece would have been totally ruined at her convent had Urbain
triumphed; you feel that as well as I do, particularly as she did not
quite comprehend us, and acted the child when she was compelled to
appear.”

“Is it possible? In full audience! What you tell me indeed makes me feel
for you. How painful it must have been!”

“More so than you can imagine. She forgot, in her madness, all that she
had been told, committed a thousand blunders in Latin, which we patched
up as well as we could; and she even caused an unpleasant scene on the
day of the trial, very unpleasant for me and the judges--there were
swoons and shrieks. Ah, I swear that I would have scolded her well had I
not been forced to quit precipitately that, little town of Loudun.
But, you see, it is natural enough that I am attached to her. She is my
nearest relative; for my son has turned out ill, and no one knows what
has become of him during the last four years. Poor little Jeanne de
Belfiel! I made her a nun, and then abbess, in order to preserve all for
that scamp. Had I foreseen his conduct, I should have retained her for
the world.”

“She is said to have great beauty,” answered Joseph; “that is a precious
gift for a family. She might have been presented at court, and the
King--Ah! ah! Mademoiselle de la Fayette--eh! eh!--Mademoiselle
d’Hautefort--you understand; it may be even possible to think of it
yet.”

“Ah, that is like you, Monseigneur! for we know that you have been
nominated to the cardinalate; how good you are to remember the most
devoted of your friends!”

Laubardemont was yet talking to Joseph when they found themselves at the
end of the line of the camp, which led to the quarter of the volunteers.

“May God and his Holy Mother protect you during my absence!” said
Joseph, stopping. “To-morrow I depart for Paris; and as I shall have
frequent business with this young Cinq-Mars, I shall first go to see
him, and learn news of his wound.”

“Had I been listened to,” said Laubardemont, “you would not now have had
this trouble.”

“Alas, you are right!” answered Joseph, with a profound sigh, and
raising his eyes to heaven; “but the Cardinal is no longer the same man.
He will not take advantage of good ideas; he will ruin us if he goes on
thus.”

And, making a low bow to the judge, the Capuchin took the road which he
had indicated to him.

Laubardemont followed him for some time with his eyes, and, when he was
quite sure of the route which he had taken, he returned, or, rather, ran
back to the tent of the minister. “The Cardinal dismisses him, he tells
me; that shows that he is tired of him. I know secrets which will ruin
him. I will add that he is gone to pay court to the future favorite.
I will replace this monk in the favor of the minister. The moment is
propitious. It is midnight; he will be alone for an hour and a half yet.
Let me run.”

He arrived at the tent of the guards, which was before the pavilion.

“Monseigneur gives audience to some one,” said the captain, hesitating;
“you can not enter.”

“Never mind; you saw me leave an hour ago, and things are passing of
which I must give an account.”

“Come in, Laubardemont,” cried the minister; “come in quickly, and
alone.”

He entered. The Cardinal, still seated, held the two hands of the nun
in one of his, and with the other he imposed silence upon his stupefied
agent, who remained motionless, not yet seeing the face of this woman.
She spoke volubly, and the strange things she said contrasted horribly
with the sweetness of her voice. Richelieu seemed moved.

“Yes, I will stab him with a knife. It is the knife which the demon
Behirith gave me at the inn; but it is the nail of Sisera. It has
a handle of ivory, you see; and I have wept much over it. Is it not
singular, my good General? I will turn it in the throat of him who
killed my friend, as he himself told me to do; and afterward I will burn
the body. There is like for like, the punishment which God permitted
to Adam. You have an astonished air, my brave general; but you would be
much more so, were I to repeat to you his song--the song which he
sang to me again last night, at the hour of the funeral-pyre--you
understand?--the hour when it rains, the hour when my hand burns as now.
He said to me: ‘They are much deceived, the magistrates, the red judges.
I have eleven demons at my command; and I shall come to see you when the
clock strikes, under a canopy of purple velvet, with torches--torches of
resin to give us light--’ Ah, that is beautiful! Listen, listen to what
he sings!”

And she sang to the air of De Profundis.

“Is it not singular, my good General?” said she, when she had finished;
“and I--I answer him every evening.”

“Then he speaks as spirits and prophets speak. He says: ‘Woe, woe to him
who has shed blood! Are the judges of the earth gods? No, they are men
who grow old and suffer, and yet they dare to say aloud, Let that man
die! The penalty of death, the pain of death--who has given to man
the right of imposing it on man? Is the number two? One would be an
assassin, look you! But count well, one, two, three. Behold, they are
wise and just, these grave and salaried criminals! O crime, the horror
of Heaven! If you looked upon them from above as I look upon them, you
would be yet paler than I am. Flesh destroys flesh! That which lives
by blood sheds blood coldly and without anger, like a God with power to
create!’”

The cries which the unhappy girl uttered, as she rapidly spoke these
words, terrified Richelieu and Laubardemont so much that they still
remained motionless. The delirium and the fever continued to transport
her.

“‘Did the judges tremble?’ said Urbain Grandier to me. ‘Did they tremble
at deceiving themselves?’ They work the work of the just. The question!
They bind his limbs with ropes to make him speak. His skin cracks, tears
away, and rolls up like a parchment; his nerves are naked, red, and
glittering; his bones crack; the marrow spurts out. But the judges
sleep! they dream of flowers and spring. ‘How hot the grand chamber is!’
says one, awaking; ‘this man has not chosen to speak! Is the torture
finished?’ And pitiful at last, he dooms him to death--death, the sole
fear of the living! death, the unknown world! He sends before him a
furious soul which will wait for him. Oh! has he never seen the vision
of vengeance? Has he never seen before falling asleep the flayed
prevaricator?”

Already weakened by fever, fatigue, and grief, the Cardinal, seized with
horror and pity, exclaimed:

“Ah, for the love of God, let this terrible scene have an end! Take away
this woman; she is mad!”

The frantic creature turned, and suddenly uttering loud cries, “Ah, the
judge! the judge! the judge!” she said, recognizing Laubardemont.

The latter, clasping his hands and trembling before the Cardinal, said
with terror:

“Alas, Monseigneur, pardon me! she is my niece, who has lost her reason.
I was not aware of this misfortune, or she would have been shut up long
ago. Jeanne! Jeanne! come, Madame, to your knees! ask forgiveness of
Monseigneur the Cardinal-duc.”

“It is Richelieu!” she cried; and astonishment seemed wholly to paralyze
this young and unhappy beauty. The flush which had animated her at first
gave place to a deadly pallor, her cries to a motionless silence,
her wandering looks to a frightful fixedness of her large eyes, which
constantly followed the agitated minister.

“Take away this unfortunate child quickly,” said he; “she is dying, and
so am I. So many horrors pursue me since that sentence that I believe
all hell is loosed upon me.”

He rose as he spoke; Jeanne de Belfiel, still silent and stupefied, with
haggard eyes, open mouth, and head bent forward, yet remained beneath
the shock of her double surprise, which seemed to have extinguished the
rest of her reason and her strength. At the movement of the Cardinal,
she shuddered to find herself between him and Laubardemont, looked by
turns at one and the other, let the knife which she held fall from
her hand, and retired slowly toward the opening of the tent, covering
herself completely with her veil, and looking wildly and with terror
behind her upon her uncle who followed, like an affrighted lamb, which
already feels at its back the burning breath of the wolf about to seize
it.

Thus they both went forth; and hardly had they reached the open air,
when the furious judge caught the hands of his victim, tied them with
a handkerchief, and easily led her, for she uttered no cry, not even a
sigh, but followed him with her head still drooping upon her bosom, and
as if plunged in profound somnambulism.



CHAPTER XIII. THE SPANIARD

Meantime, a scene of different nature was passing in the tent of
Cinq-Mars; the words of the King, the first balm to his wounds, had been
followed by the anxious care of the surgeons of the court. A spent
ball, easily extracted, had been the only cause of his accident. He
was allowed to travel and all was ready. The invalid had received up to
midnight friendly or interested visits; among the first were those
of little Gondi and of Fontrailles, who were also preparing to quit
Perpignan for Paris. The ex-page, Olivier d’Entraigues, joined with them
in complimenting the fortunate volunteer, whom the King seemed to
have distinguished. The habitual coldness of the Prince toward all who
surrounded him having caused those who knew of them to regard the
few words he had spoken as assured signs of high favor, all came to
congratulate him.

At length, released from visitors, he lay upon his camp-bed. De Thou
sat by his side, holding his hand, and Grandchamp at his feet, still
grumbling at the numerous interruptions that had fatigued his wounded
master. Cinq-Mars himself tasted one of those moments of calm and hope,
which so refresh the soul as well as the body. His free hand secretly
pressed the gold cross that hung next to his heart, the beloved donor of
which he was so soon to behold. Outwardly, he listened with kindly looks
to the counsels of the young magistrate; but his inward thoughts were
all turned toward the object of his journey--the object, also, of his
life. The grave De Thou went on in a calm, gentle voice:

“I shall soon follow you to Paris. I am happier than you at seeing the
King take you there with him. You are right in looking upon it as
the beginning of a friendship which must be turned to profit. I have
reflected deeply on the secret causes of your ambition, and I think I
have divined your heart. Yes; that feeling of love for France, which
made it beat in your earliest youth, must have gained greater strength.
You would be near the King in order to serve your country, in order to
put in action those golden dreams of your early years. The thought is a
vast one, and worthy of you! I admire you; I bow before you. To approach
the monarch with the chivalrous devotion of our fathers, with a
heart full of candor, and prepared for any sacrifice; to receive the
confidences of his soul; to pour into his those of his subjects; to
soften the sorrows of the King by telling him the confidence his people
have in him; to cure the wounds of the people by laying them open to its
master, and by the intervention of your favor thus to reestablish
that intercourse of love between the father and his children which for
eighteen years has been interrupted by a man whose heart is marble;
for this noble enterprise, to expose yourself to all the horrors of his
vengeance and, what is even worse, to brave all the perfidious calumnies
which pursue the favorite to the very steps of the throne--this dream
was worthy of you.

“Pursue it, my friend,” De Thou continued. “Never become discouraged.
Speak loudly to the King of the merit and misfortunes of his most
illustrious friends who are trampled on. Tell him fearlessly that his
old nobility have never conspired against him; and that from the young
Montmorency to the amiable Comte de Soissons, all have opposed the
minister, and never the monarch. Tell him that the old families of
France were born with his race; that in striking them he affects the
whole nation; and that, should he destroy them, his own race will
suffer, that it will stand alone exposed to the blast of time and
events, as an old oak trembling and exposed to the wind of the plain,
when the forest which surrounded and supported it has been destroyed.
Yes!” cried De Thou, growing animated, “this aim is a fine and noble
one. Go on in your course with a resolute step; expel even that secret
shame, that shyness, which a noble soul experiences before it can
resolve upon flattering--upon paying what the world calls its court.
Alas, kings are accustomed to these continual expressions of false
admiration for them! Look upon them as a new language which must be
learned--a language hitherto foreign to your lips, but which, believe
me, may be nobly spoken, and which may express high and generous
thoughts.”

During this warm discourse of his friend, Cinq-Mars could not refrain
from a sudden blush; and he turned his head on his pillow toward the
tent, so that his face might not be seen. De Thou stopped:

“What is the matter, Henri? You do not answer. Am I deceived?”

Cinq-Mars gave a deep sigh and remained silent.

“Is not your heart affected by these ideas which I thought would have
transported it?”

The wounded man looked more calmly at his friend and said:

“I thought, my dear De Thou, that you would not interrogate me further,
and that you were willing to repose a blind confidence in me. What evil
genius has moved you thus to sound my soul? I am not a stranger to these
ideas which possess you. Who told you that I had not conceived them? Who
told you that I had not formed the firm resolution of prosecuting them
infinitely farther in action than you have put them in words? Love for
France, virtuous hatred of the ambition which oppresses and shatters her
ancient institutions with the axe of the executioner, the firm belief
that virtue may be as skilful as crime,--these are my gods as much as
yours. But when you see a man kneeling in a church, do you ask him what
saint or what angel protects him and receives his prayer? What matters
it to you, provided that he pray at the foot of the altars that you
adore--provided that, if called upon, he fall a martyr at the foot of
those ‘altars? When our forefathers journeyed with naked feet toward the
Holy Sepulchre, with pilgrims’ staves in their hands, did men inquire
the secret vow which led them to the Holy Land? They struck, they died;
and men, perhaps God himself, asked no more. The pious captain who
led them never stripped their bodies to see whether the red cross
and haircloth concealed any other mysterious symbol; and in heaven,
doubtless, they were not judged with any greater rigor for having aided
the strength of their resolutions upon earth by some hope permitted to
a Christian--some second and secret thought, more human, and nearer the
mortal heart.”

De Thou smiled and slightly blushed, lowering his eyes.

“My friend,” he answered, gravely; “this excitement may be injurious to
you. Let us not continue this subject; let us not mingle God and heaven
in our discourse. It is not well; and draw the coverings over your
shoulder, for the night is cold. I promise you,” he added, covering his
young invalid with a maternal care--“I promise not to offend you again
with my counsels.”

“And I,” cried Cinq-Mars, despite the interdiction to speak, “swear to
you by this gold cross you see, and by the Holy Mary, to die rather than
renounce the plan that you first traced out! You may one day, perhaps,
be forced to pray me to stop; but then it will be too late.”

“Very well!” repeated the counsellor, “now sleep; if you do not stop, I
will go on with you, wherever you lead me.”

And, taking a prayer-book from his pocket, he began to read attentively;
in a short time he looked at Cinq-Mars, who was still awake. He made a
sign to Grandchamp to put the lamp out of sight of the invalid; but
this new care succeeded no better. The latter, with his eyes still open,
tossed restlessly on his narrow bed.

“Come, you are not calm,” said De Thou, smiling; “I will read to you
some pious passage which will put your mind in repose. Ah, my friend, it
is here that true repose is to be found; it is in this consolatory book,
for, open it where you will, you will always see, on the one hand,
man in the only condition that suits his weakness--prayer, and the
uncertainty as to his destiny--and, on the other, God himself speaking
to him of his infirmities! What a glorious and heavenly spectacle! What
a sublime bond between heaven and earth! Life, death, and eternity are
there; open it at random.”

“Yes!” said Cinq-Mars, rising with a vivacity which had something boyish
in it; “you shall read to me, but let me open the book. You know the old
superstition of our country--when the mass-book is opened with a sword,
the first page on the left contains the destiny of him who reads, and
the first person who enters after he has read is powerfully to influence
the reader’s future fate.”

“What childishness! But be it as you will. Here is your sword; insert
the point. Let us see.”

“Let me read myself,” said Cinq-Mars, taking one side of the book. Old
Grandchamp gravely advanced his tawny face and his gray hair to the foot
of the bed to listen. His master read, stopped at the first phrase, but
with a smile, perhaps slightly forced, he went on to the end.

“I. Now it was in the city of Milan that they appeared.

“II. The high-priest said to them, ‘Bow down and adore the gods.’

“III. And the people were silent, looking at their faces, which appeared
as the faces of angels.

“IV. But Gervais, taking the hand of Protais, cried, looking to heaven,
and filled with the Holy Ghost:

“V. Oh, my brother! I see the Son of man smiling upon us; let me die
first.

“VI. For if I see thy blood, I fear I shall shed tears unworthy of the
Lord our God.

“VII. Then Protais answered him in these words:

“VIII. My brother, it is just that I should perish after thee, for I am
older, and have more strength to see thee suffer.

“IX. But the senators and people ground their teeth at them.

“X. And the soldiers having struck them, their heads fell together on
the same stone.

“XI. Now it was in this same place that the blessed Saint Ambroise found
the ashes of the two martyrs which gave sight to the blind.”

“Well,” said Cinq-Mars, looking at his friend when he had finished,
“what do you say to that?”

“God’s will be done! but we should not scrutinize it.”

“Nor put off our designs for a child’s play,” said D’Effiat impatiently,
and wrapping himself in a cloak which was thrown over him. “Remember
the lines we formerly so frequently quoted, ‘Justum et tenacem Propositi
viruna’; these iron words are stamped upon my brain. Yes; let the
universe crumble around me, its wreck shall carry me away still
resolute.”

“Let us not compare the thoughts of man with those of Heaven; and let us
be submissive,” said De Thou, gravely.

“Amen!” said old Grandchamp, whose eyes had filled with tears, which he
hastily brushed away.

“What hast thou to do with it, old soldier? Thou weepest,” said his
master.

“Amen!” said a voice, in a nasal tone, at the entrance of the tent.

“Parbleu, Monsieur! rather put that question to his Gray Eminence, who
comes to visit you,” answered the faithful servant, pointing to Joseph,
who advanced with his arms crossed, making a salutation with a frowning
air.

“Ah, it will be he, then!” murmured Cinq-Mars.

“Perhaps I come inopportunely,” said Joseph, soothingly.

“Perhaps very opportunely,” said Henri d’Effiat, smiling, with a glance
at De Thou. “What can bring you here, Father, at one o’clock in the
morning? It should be some good work.”

Joseph saw he was ill-received; and as he had always sundry reproaches
to make himself with reference to all persons whom he addressed, and as
many resources in his mind for getting out of the difficulty, he fancied
that they had discovered the object of his visit, and felt that he
should not select a moment of ill humor for preparing the way to
friendship. Therefore, seating himself near the bed, he said, coldly:

“I come, Monsieur, to speak to you on the part of the
Cardinal-Generalissimo, of the two Spanish prisoners you have made; he
desires to have information concerning them as soon as possible. I am
to see and question them. But I did not suppose you were still awake; I
merely wished to receive them from your people.”

After a forced interchange of politeness, they ordered into the tent the
two prisoners, whom Cinq-Mars had almost forgotten.

They appeared--the one, young and displaying an animated and rather wild
countenance, was the soldier; the other, concealing his form under a
brown cloak, and his gloomy features, which had something ambiguous in
their expression, under his broad-brimmed hat, which he did not remove,
was the officer. He spoke first:

“Why do you make me leave my straw and my sleep? Is it to deliver me or
hang me?”

“Neither,” said Joseph.

“What have I to do with thee, man with the long beard? I did not see
thee at the breach.”

It took some time after this amiable exordium to make the stranger
understand the right a Capuchin had to interrogate him.

“Well,” he said, “what dost thou want?”

“I would know your name and your country.”

“I shall not tell my name; and as for my country, I have the air of a
Spaniard, but perhaps am not one, for a Spaniard never acknowledges his
country.”

Father Joseph, turning toward the two friends, said: “Unless I deceive
myself, I have heard his voice somewhere. This man speaks French without
an accent; but it seems he wishes to give us enigmas, as in the East.”

“The East? that is it,” said the prisoner. “A Spaniard is a man from the
East; he is a Catholic Turk; his blood either flags or boils; he is lazy
or indefatigable; indolence makes him a slave, ardor a tyrant; immovable
in his ignorance, ingenious in his superstition, he needs only a
religious book and a tyrannical master; he obeys the law of the pyre;
he commands by that of the poniard. At night he falls asleep in his
bloodthirsty misery, nurses fanaticism, and awakes to crime. Who is this
gentleman? Is it the Spaniard or the Turk? Guess! Ah! you seem to think
that I have wit, because I light upon analogy.”

“Truly, gentlemen, you do me honor; and yet the idea may be carried much
further, if desired. If I pass to the physical order, for example, may
I not say to you, This man has long and serious features, a black and
almond-shaped eye, rugged brows, a sad and mobile mouth, tawny, meagre,
and wrinkled cheeks; his head is shaved, and he covers it with a black
handkerchief in the form of a turban; he passes the whole day lying or
standing under a burning sun, without motion, without utterance, smoking
a pipe that intoxicates him. Is this a Turk or a Spaniard? Are you
satisfied, gentlemen? Truly, it would seem so; you laugh, and at what do
you laugh? I, who have presented this idea to you--I have not laughed;
see, my countenance is sad. Ah! perhaps it is because the gloomy
prisoner has suddenly become a gossip, and talks rapidly. That is
nothing! I might tell you other things, and render you some service, my
worthy friends.

“If I should relate anecdotes, for example; if I told you I knew a
priest who ordered the death of some heretics before saying mass,
and who, furious at being interrupted at the altar during the holy
sacrifice, cried to those who asked for his orders, ‘Kill them all! kill
them all!’--should you all laugh, gentlemen? No, not all! This gentleman
here, for instance, would bite his lips and his beard. Oh! it is true he
might answer that he did wisely, and that they were wrong to interrupt
his unsullied prayer. But if I added that he concealed himself for an
hour behind the curtain of your tent, Monsieur de Cinq-Mars, to listen
while you talked, and that he came to betray you, and not to get me,
what would he say? Now, gentlemen, are you satisfied? May I retire after
this display?”

The prisoner had uttered this with the rapidity of a quack vending his
wares, and in so loud a voice that Joseph was quite confounded. He arose
indignantly at last, and, addressing himself to Cinq-Mars, said:

“How can you suffer a prisoner who should have been hanged to speak to
you thus, Monsieur?”

The Spaniard, without deigning to notice him any further, leaned toward
D’Effiat, and whispered in his ear:

“I can be of no further use to you; give me my liberty. I might ere this
have taken it; but I would not do so without your consent. Give it me,
or have me killed.”

“Go, if you will!” said Cinq-Mars to him. “I assure you I shall be very
glad;” and he told his people to retire with the soldier, whom he wished
to keep in his service.

This was the affair of a moment. No one remained any longer in the tent
with the two friends, except the abashed Joseph and the Spaniard. The
latter, taking off his hat, showed a French but savage countenance. He
laughed, and seemed to respire more air into his broad chest.

“Yes, I am a Frenchman,” he said to Joseph. “But I hate France, because
she gave birth to my father, who is a monster, and to me, who have
become one, and who once struck him. I hate her inhabitants, because
they have robbed me of my whole fortune at play, and because I have
robbed them and killed them. I have been two years in Spain in order to
kill more Frenchmen; but now I hate Spain still more. No one will know
the reason why. Adieu! I must live henceforth without a nation; all men
are my enemies. Go on, Joseph, and you will soon be as good as I. Yes,
you have seen me once before,” he continued, violently striking him in
the breast and throwing him down. “I am Jacques de Laubardemont, the son
of your worthy friend.”

With these words, quickly leaving the tent, he disappeared like an
apparition. De Thou and the servants, who ran to the entrance, saw him,
with two bounds, spring over a surprised and disarmed soldier, and
run toward the mountains with the swiftness of a deer, despite various
musket-shots. Joseph took advantage of the disorder to slip away,
stammering a few words of politeness, and left the two friends laughing
at his adventure and his disappointment, as two schoolboys laugh at
seeing the spectacles of their pedagogue fall off. At last they prepared
to seek a rest of which they both stood in need, and which they soon
found-=the wounded man in his bed, and the young counsellor in his
chair.

As for the Capuchin, he walked toward his tent, meditating how he should
turn all this so as to take the greatest possible revenge, when he
met Laubardemont dragging the young mad-woman by her two hands. They
recounted to each other their mutual and horrible adventures.

Joseph had no small pleasure in turning the poniard in the wound of his
friend’s heart, by telling him of the fate of his son.

“You are not exactly happy in your domestic relations,” he added. “I
advise you to shut up your niece and hang your son, if you are fortunate
enough to find him.”

Laubardemont replied with a hideous laugh:

“As for this idiot here, I am going to give her to an ex-secret judge,
at present a smuggler in the Pyrenees at Oleron. He can do what he
pleases with her--make her a servant in his posada, for instance. I care
not, so that my lord never hears of her.”

Jeanne de Belfiel, her head hanging down, gave no sign of sensibility.
Every glimmer of reason was extinguished in her; one word alone remained
upon her lips, and this she continually pronounced.

“The judge! the judge! the judge!” she murmured, and was silent.

Her uncle and Joseph threw her, almost like a sack of corn, on one
of the horses which were led up by two servants. Laubardemont mounted
another, and prepared to leave the camp, wishing to get into the
mountains before day.

“A good journey to you!” he said to Joseph. “Execute your business well
in Paris. I commend to you Orestes and Pylades.”

“A good journey to you!” answered the other. “I commend to you Cassandra
and OEdipus.”

“Oh! he has neither killed his father nor married his mother.”

“But he is on the high-road to those little pleasantries.”

“Adieu, my reverend Father!”

“Adieu, my venerable friend!”

Then each added aloud, but in suppressed tones:

“Adieu, assassin of the gray robe! During thy absence I shall have the
ear of the Cardinal.”

“Adieu, villain in the red robe! Go thyself and destroy thy cursed
family. Finish shedding that portion of thy blood that is in others’
veins. That share which remains in thee, I will take charge of. Ha! a
well-employed night!”



BOOK 4.



CHAPTER XIV. THE RIOT

       “Thus with imagin’d wing our swift scene flies,
        In motion of no less celerity
        Than that of thought,”

exclaims the immortal Shakespeare in the chorus of one of his tragedies.

       “Suppose that you have seen
        The well-appointed king
        Embark his royalty; and his brave fleet
        With silken streamers the young Phoebus fanning.
       ......
       ... behold,
        And follow.”

With this poetic movement he traverses time and space, and transports at
will the attentive assembly to the theatre of his sublime scenes.

We shall avail ourselves of the same privilege, though without the same
genius. No more than he shall we seat ourselves upon the tripod of the
unities, but merely casting our eyes upon Paris and the old dark palace
of the Louvre, we will at once pass over the space of two hundred
leagues and the period of two years.

Two years! what changes may they not have upon men, upon their families,
and, above all, in that great and so troublous family of nations, whose
long alliances a single day suffices to destroy, whose wars are ended
by a birth, whose peace is broken by a death! We ourselves have beheld
kings returning to their dwelling on a spring day; that same day a
vessel sailed for a voyage of two years. The navigator returned. The
kings were seated upon their thrones; nothing seemed to have taken place
in his absence, and yet God had deprived those kings of a hundred days
of their reign.

But nothing was changed for France in 1642, the epoch to which we turn,
except her fears and her hopes. The future alone had changed its aspect.
Before again beholding our personages, we must contemplate at large the
state of the kingdom.

The powerful unity of the monarchy was rendered still more imposing by
the misfortunes of the neighboring States. The revolutions in England,
and those in Spain and Portugal, rendered the peace which France enjoyed
still more admired. Strafford and Olivares, overthrown or defeated,
aggrandized the immovable Richelieu.

Six formidable armies, reposing upon their triumphant weapons, served as
a rampart to the kingdom. Those of the north, in league with Sweden, had
put the Imperialists to flight, still pursued by the spirit of Gustavus
Adolphus, those on the frontiers of Italy had in Piedmont received the
keys of the towns which had been defended by Prince Thomas; and those
which strengthened the chain of the Pyrenees held in check revolted
Catalonia, and chafed before Perpignan, which they were not allowed
to take. The interior was not happy, but tranquil. An invisible genius
seemed to have maintained this calm, for the King, mortally sick,
languished at St. Germain with a young favorite; and the Cardinal was,
they said, dying at Narbonne. Some deaths, however, betrayed that he yet
lived; and at intervals, men falling as if struck by a poisonous blast
recalled to mind the invisible power.

St.-Preuil, one of Richelieu’s enemies, had just laid his “iron head”
 upon the scaffold without shame or fear, as he himself said on mounting
it.

Meantime, France seemed to govern herself, for the prince and the
minister had been separated a long time; and of these two sick men, who
hated each other, one never had held the reins of State, the other no
longer showed his power--he was no longer named in the public acts; he
appeared no longer in the government, and seemed effaced everywhere; he
slept, like the spider surrounded by his webs.

If some events and some revolutions had taken place during these two
years, it must have been in hearts; it must have been some of those
occult changes from which, in monarchies without firm foundation,
terrible overthrows and long and bloody dissensions arise.

To enlighten ourselves, let us glance at the old black building of the
unfinished Louvre, and listen to the conversation of those who inhabited
it and those who surrounded it.

It was the month of December; a rigorous winter had afflicted Paris,
where the misery and inquietude of the people were extreme. However,
curiosity was still alive, and they were eager for the spectacles given
by the court. Their poverty weighed less heavily upon them while they
contemplated the agitations of the rich. Their tears were less bitter
on beholding the struggles of power; and the blood of the nobles which
reddened their streets, and seemed the only blood worthy of being shed,
made them bless their own obscurity. Already had tumultuous scenes and
conspicuous assassinations proved the monarch’s weakness, the absence
and approaching end of the minister, and, as a kind of prologue to the
bloody comedy of the Fronde, sharpened the malice and even fired the
passions of the Parisians. This confusion was not displeasing to them.
Indifferent to the causes of the quarrels which were abstruse for them,
they were not so with regard to individuals, and already began to
regard the party chiefs with affection or hatred, not on account of the
interest which they supposed them to take in the welfare of their class,
but simply because as actors they pleased or displeased.

One night, especially, pistol and gun-shots had been heard frequently in
the city; the numerous patrols of the Swiss and the body-guards had even
been attacked, and had met with some barricades in the tortuous streets
of the Ile Notre-Dame; carts chained to the posts, and laden with
barrels, prevented the cavaliers from advancing, and some musket-shots
had wounded several men and horses. However, the town still slept,
except the quarter which surrounded the Louvre, which was at this
time inhabited by the Queen and M. le Duc d’Orleans. There everything
announced a nocturnal expedition of a very serious nature.

It was two o’clock in the morning. It was freezing, and the darkness
was intense, when a numerous assemblage stopped upon the quay, which was
then hardly paved, and slowly and by degrees occupied the sandy ground
that sloped down to the Seine. This troop was composed of about two
hundred men; they were wrapped in large cloaks, raised by the long
Spanish swords which they wore. Walking to and fro without preserving
any order, they seemed to wait for events rather than to seek them. Many
seated themselves, with their arms folded, upon the loose stones of the
newly begun parapet; they preserved perfect silence. However, after a
few minutes passed in this manner, a man, who appeared to come out of
one of the vaulted doors of the Louvre, approached slowly, holding a
dark-lantern, the light from which he turned upon the features of each
individual, and which he blew out after finding the man he sought among
them. He spoke to him in a whisper, taking him by the hand:

“Well, Olivier, what did Monsieur le Grand say to you?

   [The master of the horse, Cinq-Mars, was thus named by abbreviation.
   This name will often occur in the course of the recital.]

Does all go well?”

“Yes, I saw him yesterday at Saint-Germain. The old cat is very ill
at Narbonne; he is going ‘ad patres’. But we must manage our affairs
shrewdly, for it is not the first time that he has played the torpid.
Have you people enough for this evening, my dear Fontrailles?”

“Be easy; Montresor is coming with a hundred of Monsieur’s gentlemen.
You will recognize him; he will be disguised as a master-mason, with a
rule in his hand. But, above all, do not forget the passwords. Do you
know them all well, you and your friends?”

“Yes, all except the Abbe de Gondi, who has not yet arrived; but ‘Dieu
me pardonne’, I think he is there himself! Who the devil would have
known him?”

And here a little man without a cassock, dressed as a soldier of the
French guards, and wearing a very black false moustache, slipped between
them. He danced about with a joyous air, and rubbed his hands.

“Vive Dieu! all goes on well, my friend. Fiesco could not do better;”
 and rising upon his toes to tap Olivier upon the shoulder, he continued:

“Do you know that for a man who has just quitted the rank of pages, you
don’t manage badly, Sire Olivier d’Entraigues? and you will be among our
illustrious men if we find a Plutarch. All is well organized; you arrive
at the very moment, neither too soon nor too late, like a true party
chief. Fontrailles, this young man will get on, I prophesy. But we must
make haste; in two hours we shall have some of the archbishops of Paris,
my uncle’s parishioners. I have instructed them well; and they
will cry, ‘Long live Monsieur! Long live the Regency! No more of the
Cardinal!’ like madmen. They are good devotees, thanks to me, who have
stirred them up. The King is very ill. Oh, all goes well, very well! I
come from Saint-Germain. I have seen our friend Cinq-Mars; he is good,
very good, still firm as a rock. Ah, that is what I call a man! How he
has played with them with his careless and melancholy air! He is master
of the court at present. The King, they say, is going to make him duke
and peer. It is much talked of; but he still hesitates. We must decide
that by our movement this evening. The will of the people! He must do
the will of the people; we will make him hear it. It will be the death
of Richelieu, you’ll see. It is, above all, hatred of him which is to
predominate in the cries, for that is the essential thing. That will at
last decide our Gaston, who is still uncertain, is he not?”

“And how can he be anything else?” said Fontrailles. “If he were to take
a resolution to-day in our favor it would be unfortunate.”

“Why so?”

“Because we should be sure that to-morrow morning he would be against
us.”

“Never mind,” replied the Abbe; “the Queen is firm.”

“And she has heart also,” said Olivier; “that gives me some hope for
Cinq-Mars, who, it seems to me, has sometimes dared to frown when he
looked at her.”

“Child that you are, how little do you yet know of the court! Nothing
can sustain him but the hand of the King, who loves him as a son; and
as for the Queen, if her heart beats, it is for the past and not for the
future. But these trifles are not to the purpose. Tell me, dear friend,
are you sure of your young Advocate whom I see roaming about there? Is
he all right?”

“Perfectly; he is an excellent Royalist. He would throw the Cardinal
into the river in an instant. Besides, it is Fournier of Loudun; that is
saying everything.”

“Well, well, this is the kind of men we like. But take care of
yourselves, Messieurs; some one comes from the Rue Saint-Honore.”

“Who goes there?” cried the foremost of the troop to some men who were
advancing. “Royalists or Cardinalists?”

“Gaston and Le Grand,” replied the newcomers, in low tones.

“It is Montresor and Monsieur’s people,” said Fontrailles. “We may soon
begin.”

“Yes, ‘par la corbleu’!” said the newcomer, “for the Cardinalists will
pass at three o’clock. Some one told us so just now.”

“Where are they going?” said Fontrailles.

“There are more than two hundred of them to escort Monsieur de Chavigny,
who is going to see the old cat at Narbonne, they say. They thought it
safer to pass by the Louvre.”

“Well, we will give him a velvet paw!” said the Abbe.

As he finished saying this, a noise of carriages and horses was heard.
Several men in cloaks rolled an enormous stone into the middle of the
street. The foremost cavaliers passed rapidly through the crowd,
pistols in hand, suspecting that something unusual was going on; but
the postilion, who drove the horses of the first carriage, ran upon the
stone and fell.

“Whose carriage is this which thus crushes foot-passengers?” cried the
cloakmen, all at once. “It is tyrannical. It can be no other than a
friend of the Cardinal de la Rochelle.”

   [During the long siege of La Rochelle, this name was given to
   Cardinal Richelieu, to ridicule his obstinacy in commanding as
   General-in-Chief, and claiming for himself the merit of taking that
   town.]

“It is one who fears not the friends of the little Le Grand,” exclaimed
a voice from the open door, from which a man threw himself upon a horse.

“Drive these Cardinalists into the river!” cried a shrill, piercing
voice.

This was a signal for the pistol-shots which were furiously exchanged on
every side, and which lighted up this tumultuous and sombre scene. The
clashing of swords and trampling of horses did not prevent the cries
from being heard on one side: “Down with the minister! Long live
the King! Long live Monsieur and Monsieur le Grand! Down with the
red-stockings!” On the other: “Long live his Eminence! Long live the
great Cardinal! Death to the factious! Long live the King!” For the name
of the King presided over every hatred, as over every affection, at this
strange time.

The men on foot had succeeded, however, in placing the two carriages
across the quay so as to make a rampart against Chavigny’s horses,
and from this, between the wheels, through the doors and springs,
overwhelmed them with pistol-shots, and dismounted many. The tumult was
frightful, but suddenly the gates of the Louvre were thrown open, and
two squadrons of the body-guard came out at a trot. Most of them carried
torches in their hands to light themselves and those they were about
to attack. The scene changed. As the guards reached each of the men on
foot, the latter was seen to stop, remove his hat, make himself known,
and name himself; and the guards withdrew, sometimes saluting him, and
sometimes shaking him by the hand. This succor to Chavigny’s carriages
was then almost useless, and only served to augment the confusion. The
body-guards, as if to satisfy their consciences, rushed through the
throng of duellists, saying:

“Gentlemen, gentlemen, be moderate!”

But when two gentlemen had decidedly crossed swords, and were in active
conflict, the guard who beheld them stopped to judge the fight, and
sometimes even to favor the one who he thought was of his opinion, for
this body, like all France, had their Royalists and their Cardinalists.

The windows of the Louvre were lighted one after another, and many
women’s heads were seen behind the little lozenge-shaped panes,
attentively watching the combat.

Numerous Swiss patrols came out with flambeaux.

These soldiers were easily distinguished by an odd uniform. The right
sleeve was striped blue and red, and the silk stocking of the right leg
was red; the left side was striped with blue, red, and white, and the
stocking was white and red. It had, no doubt, been hoped in the royal
chateau that this foreign troop would disperse the crowd, but they were
mistaken. These impassible soldiers coldly and exactly executed, without
going beyond, the orders they had received, circulating symmetrically
among the armed groups, which they divided for a moment, returning
before the gate with perfect precision, and resuming their ranks as on
parade, without informing themselves whether the enemies among whom they
had passed had rejoined or not.

But the noise, for a moment appeased, became general by reason
of personal disputes. In every direction challenges, insults, and
imprecations were heard. It seemed as if nothing but the destruction of
one of the two parties could put an end to the combat, when loud cries,
or rather frightful howls, raised the tumult to its highest pitch.
The Abbe de Gondi, dragging a cavalier by his cloak to pull him down,
exclaimed:

“Here are my people! Fontrailles, now you will see something worth
while! Look! look already who they run! It is really charming.”

And he abandoned his hold, and mounted upon a stone to contemplate the
manoeuvres of his troops, crossing his arms with the importance of a
General of an army. Day was beginning to break, and from the end of the
Ile St.-Louis a crowd of men, women, and children of the lowest dregs
of the people was seen rapidly advancing, casting toward heaven and
the Louvre strange vociferations. Girls carried long swords; children
dragged great halberds and pikes of the time of the League; old women in
rags pulled by cords old carts full of rusty and broken arms; workmen
of every trade, the greater number drunk, followed, armed with clubs,
forks, lances, shovels, torches, stakes, crooks, levers, sabres, and
spits. They sang and howled alternately, counterfeiting with atrocious
yells the cries of a cat, and carrying as a flag one of these animals
suspended from a pole and wrapped in a red rag, thus representing the
Cardinal, whose taste for cats was generally known. Public criers rushed
about, red and breathless, throwing on the pavement and sticking up
on the parapets, the posts, the walls of the houses, and even on the
palace, long satires in short stanzas upon the personages of the time.
Butcher-boys and scullions, carrying large cutlasses, beat the charge
upon saucepans, and dragged in the mud a newly slaughtered pig, with the
red cap of a chorister on its head. Young and vigorous men, dressed
as women, and painted with a coarse vermilion, were yelling, “We are
mothers of families ruined by Richelieu! Death to the Cardinal!” They
carried in their arms figures of straw that looked like children, which
they threw into the river.

When this disgusting mob overran the quays with its thousands of imps,
it produced a strange effect upon the combatants, and entirely contrary
to that expected by their patron. The enemies on both sides lowered
their arms and separated. Those of Monsieur and Cinq-Mars were revolted
at seeing themselves succored by such auxiliaries, and, themselves
aiding the Cardinal’s gentlemen to remount their horses and to gain
their carriages, and their valets to convey the wounded to them, gave
their adversaries personal rendezvous to terminate their quarrel upon a
ground more secret and more worthy of them. Ashamed of the superiority
of numbers and the ignoble troops which they seemed to command,
foreseeing, perhaps, for the first time the fearful consequences of
their political machinations, and what was the scum they were stirring
up, they withdrew, drawing their large hats over their eyes, throwing
their cloaks over their shoulders, and avoiding the daylight.

“You have spoiled all, my dear Abbe, with this mob,” said Fontrailles,
stamping his foot, to Gondi, who was already sufficiently nonplussed;
“your good uncle has fine parishioners!”

“It is not my fault,” replied Gondi, in a sullen tone; “these idiots
came an hour too late. Had they arrived in the night, they would not
have been seen, which spoils the effect somewhat, to speak the truth
(for I grant that daylight is detrimental to them), and we would only
have heard the voice of the people ‘Vox populi, vox Dei’. Nevertheless,
no great harm has been done. They will by their numbers give us the
means of escaping without being known, and, after all, our task is
ended; we did not wish the death of the sinner. Chavigny and his men are
worthy fellows, whom I love; if he is only slightly wounded, so much the
better. Adieu; I am going to see Monsieur de Bouillon, who has arrived
from Italy.”

“Olivier,” said Fontrailles, “go at once to Saint-Germain with
Fournier and Ambrosio; I will go and give an account to Monsieur, with
Montresor.”

All separated, and disgust accomplished, with these highborn men, what
force could not bring about.

Thus ended this fray, likely to bring forth great misfortunes. No one
was killed in it. The cavaliers, having gained a few scratches and lost
a few purses, resumed their route by the side of the carriages along the
by-streets; the others escaped, one by one, through the populace they
had attracted. The miserable wretches who composed it, deprived of the
chief of the troops, still remained two hours, yelling and screaming
until the effect of their wine was gone, and the cold had extinguished
at once the fire of their blood and that of their enthusiasm. At the
windows of the houses, on the quay of the city, and along the walls, the
thoughtful and genuine people of Paris watched with a sorrowful air and
in mournful silence these preludes of disorder; while the various bodies
of merchants, dressed in black and preceded by their provosts, walked
slowly and courageously through the populace toward the Palais de
justice, where the parliament was to assemble, to make complaint of
these terrible nocturnal scenes.

The apartments of Gaston d’Orleans were in great confusion. This Prince
occupied the wing of the Louvre parallel with the Tuileries; and his
windows looked into the court on one side, and on the other over a mass
of little houses and narrow streets which almost entirely covered the
place. He had risen precipitately, awakened suddenly by the report of
the firearms, had thrust his feet into large square-toed slippers with
high heels, and, wrapped in a large silk dressing-gown, covered with
golden ornaments embroidered in relief, walked to and fro in his
bedroom, sending every minute a fresh lackey to see what was going on,
and ordering them immediately to go for the Abbe de la Riviere, his
general counsellor; but he was unfortunately out of Paris. At every
pistol-shot this timid Prince rushed to the windows, without seeing
anything but some flambeaux, which were carried quickly along. It was in
vain he was told that the cries he heard were in his favor; he did not
cease to walk up and down the apartments, in the greatest disorder-his
long black hair dishevelled, and his blue eyes open and enlarged by
disquiet and terror. He was still thus when Montresor and Fontrailles
at length arrived and found him beating his breast, and repeating a
thousand times, “Mea culpa, mea culpa!”

“You have come at last!” he exclaimed from a distance, running to meet
them. “Come! quick! What is going on? What are they doing there? Who are
these assassins? What are these cries?”

“They cry, ‘Long live Monsieur!’”

Gaston, without appearing to hear, and holding the door of his chamber
open for an instant, that his voice might reach the galleries in
which were the people of his household, continued to cry with all his
strength, gesticulating violently:

“I know nothing of all this, and I have authorized nothing. I will not
hear anything! I will not know anything! I will never enter into any
project! These are rioters who make all this noise; do not speak to me
of them, if you wish to be well received here. I am the enemy of no man;
I detest such scenes!”

Fontrailles, who knew the man with whom he had to deal, said nothing,
but entered with his friend, that Monsieur might have time to discharge
his first fury; and when all was said, and the door carefully shut, he
began to speak:

“Monseigneur,” said he, “we come to ask you a thousand pardons for the
impertinence of these people, who will persist in crying out that they
desire the death of your enemy, and that they would even wish to make
you regent should we have the misfortune to lose his Majesty. Yes, the
people are always frank in their discourse; but they are so numerous
that all our efforts could not restrain them. It was truly a cry from
the heart--an explosion of love, which reason could not restrain, and
which escaped all bounds.”

“But what has happened, then?” interrupted Gaston, somewhat calmed.
“What have they been doing these four hours that I have heard them?”

“That love,” said Montresor, coldly, “as Monsieur de Fontrailles had the
honor of telling you, so escaped all rule and bounds that we ourselves
were carried away by it, and felt seized with that enthusiasm which
always transports us at the mere name of Monsieur, and which leads us on
to things which we had not premeditated.”

“But what, then, have you done?” said the Prince.

“Those things,” replied Fontrailles, “of which Monsieur de Montresor had
the honor to speak to Monsieur are precisely those which I foresaw here
yesterday evening, when I had the honor of conversing with you.”

“That is not the question,” interrupted Gaston. “You cannot say that
I have ordered or authorized anything. I meddle with nothing; I know
nothing of government.”

“I admit,” continued Fontrailles, “that your Highness ordered nothing,
but you permitted me to tell you that I foresaw that this night would
be a troubled one about two o’clock, and I hoped that your astonishment
would not have been too great.”

The Prince, recovering himself little by little, and seeing that he did
not alarm the two champions, having also upon his conscience and reading
in their eyes the recollection of the consent which he had given them
the evening before, sat down upon the side of his bed, crossed his arms,
and, looking at them with the air of a judge, again said in a commanding
tone:

“But what, then, have you done?”

“Why, hardly anything, Monseigneur,” said Fontrailles. “Chance led us to
meet in the crowd some of our friends who had a quarrel with Monsieur de
Chavigny’s coachman, who was driving over them. A few hot words ensued
and rough gestures, and a few scratches, which kept Monsieur de Chavigny
waiting, and that is all.”

“Absolutely all,” repeated Montresor.

“What, all?” exclaimed Gaston, much moved, and tramping about the
chamber. “And is it, then, nothing to stop the carriage of a friend of
the Cardinal-Duke? I do not like such scenes. I have already told you
so. I do not hate the Cardinal; he is certainly a great politician, a
very great politician. You have compromised me horribly; it is known
that Montresor is with me. If he has been recognized, they will say that
I sent him.”

“Chance,” said Montresor, “threw in my way this peasant’s dress, which
Monsieur may see under my cloak, and which, for that reason, I preferred
to any other.”

Gaston breathed again.

“You are sure, then, that you have not been recognized. You understand,
my dear friend, how painful it would be to me. You must admit
yourself--”

“Sure of it!” exclaimed the Prince’s gentleman. “I would stake my head
and my share in Paradise that no one has seen my features or called my
by my name.”

“Well,” continued Gaston, again seating himself on his bed, and assuming
a calmer air, in which even a slight satisfaction was visible, “tell me,
then, what has happened.”

Fontrailles took upon himself the recital, in which, as we may suppose,
the populace played a great part and Monsieur’s people none, and in his
peroration he said:

“From our windows even, Monseigneur, respectable mothers of families
might have been seen, driven by despair, throwing their children into
the Seine, cursing Richelieu.”

“Ah, it is dreadful!” exclaimed the Prince, indignant, or feigning to be
so, and to believe in these excesses. “Is it, then, true that he is so
generally detested? But we must allow that he deserves it. What! his
ambition and avarice have, then, reduced to this extremity the good
inhabitants of Paris, whom I love so much.”

“Yes, Monseigneur,” replied the orator. “And it is not Paris alone, it
is all France, which, with us, entreats you to decide upon delivering
her from this tyrant. All is ready; nothing is wanting but a sign from
your august head to annihilate this pygmy, who has attempted to assault
the royal house itself.”

“Alas! Heaven is my witness that I myself forgive him!” answered Gaston,
raising up his eyes. “But I can no longer bear the cries of the people.
Yes, I will help them; that is to say,” continued the Prince, “so that
my dignity is not compromised, and that my name does not appear in the
matter.”

“Well, but it is precisely that which we want,” exclaimed Fontrailles, a
little more at his ease.

“See, Monseigneur, there are already some names to put after yours, who
will not fear to sign. I will tell you them immediately, if you wish
it.”

“But--but,” said the Duc d’Orleans, timidly, “do you know that it is a
conspiracy which you propose to me so coolly?”

“Fie, Monseigneur, men of honor like us! a conspiracy! Oh! not at all;
a league at the utmost, a slight combination to give a direction to the
unanimous wish of the nation and the court--that is all.”

“But that is not so clear, for, after all, this affair will be neither
general nor public; therefore, it is a conspiracy. You will not avow
that you are concerned in it.”

“I, Monseigneur! Excuse me to all the world, since the kingdom is
already in it, and I am of the kingdom. And who would not sign his name
after that of Messieurs de Bouillon and Cinq-Mars?”

“After, perhaps, not before,” said Gaston, fixing his eyes upon
Fontrailles more keenly than he had expected.

The latter hesitated a moment.

“Well, then, what would Monseigneur do should I tell him the names after
which he could sign his?”

“Ha! ha! this is amusing,” answered the Prince, laughing; “know you not
that above mine there are not many? I see but one.”

“And if there be one, will Monseigneur promise to sign that of Gaston
beneath it?”

“Ah, parbleu! with all my heart. I risk nothing there, for I see none
but that of the King, who surely is not of the party.”

“Well, from this moment permit us,” said Montresor, “to take you at
your word, and deign at present to consent to two things only: to see
Monsieur de Bouillon in the Queen’s apartments, and Monsieur the master
of the horse at the King’s palace.”

“Agreed!” said Monsieur, gayly, tapping Montresor on the shoulder. “I
will to-day wait on my sister-in-law at her toilette, and I will invite
my brother to hunt the stag with me at Chambord.”

The two friends asked nothing further, and were themselves surprised
at their work. They never had seen so much resolution in their chief.
Accordingly, fearing to lead him to a topic which might divert him from
the path he had adopted, they hastened to turn the conversation upon
other subjects, and retired in delight, leaving as their last words in
his ear that they relied upon his keeping his promise.



CHAPTER XV. THE ALCOVE

While a prince was thus reassured with difficulty by those who
surrounded him, and allowed them to see a terror which might have proved
contagious, a princess more exposed to accidents, more isolated by the
indifference of her husband, weaker by nature and by the timidity which
is the result of the absence of happiness, on her side set the example
of the calmest courage and the most pious resignation, and tranquillized
her terrified suite; this was the Queen. Having slept hardly an hour,
she heard shrill cries behind the doors and the thick tapestries of her
chamber. She ordered her women to open the door, and the Duchesse de
Chevreuse, in her night attire, and wrapped in a great cloak, fell,
nearly fainting, at the foot of her bed, followed by four of her
ladies-in-waiting and three of the women of the bed-chamber. Her
delicate feet were bare, and bleeding from a wound she had received in
running.

She cried, weeping like a child, that a pistol-shot had broken her
shutters and her window-panes, and had wounded her; she entreated the
Queen to send her into exile, where she would be more tranquil than in a
country where they wished to assassinate her because she was the friend
of her Majesty.

Her hair was in great disorder, and fell to her feet. It was her chief
beauty; and the young Queen thought that this toilette was less the
result of chance than might have been imagined.

“Well, my dear, what has happened?” she said to her with sang-froid.
“You look like a Magdalen, but in her youth, and before she repented.
It is probable that if they wish to harm any one here it is I; calm
yourself.”

“No, Madame! save me, protect me! it is Richelieu who pursues me, I am
sure!”

The sound of pistols, which was then heard more distinctly, convinced
the Queen that the terrors of Madame de Chevreuse were not vain.

“Come and dress me, Madame de Motteville!” cried she. But that lady had
completely lost her self-possession, and, opening one of those immense
ebony coffers which then answered the purpose of wardrobes, took from
it a casket of the Princess’s diamonds to save it, and did not listen
to her. The other women had seen on a window the reflection of torches,
and, imagining that the palace was on fire, threw jewels, laces, golden
vases, and even the china, into sheets which they intended to lower into
the street. At this moment Madame de Guemenee arrived, a little more
dressed than the Duchesse de Chevreuse, but taking events still more
tragically. Her terror inspired the Queen with a slight degree of
fear, because of the ceremonious and placid character she was known to
possess. She entered without curtseying, pale as a spectre, and said
with volubility:

“Madame, it is time to make our confession. The Louvre is attacked, and
all the populace are arriving from the city, I have been told.”

Terror silenced and rendered motionless all the persons present.

“We shall die!” exclaimed the Duchesse de Chevreuse, still on her knees.
“Ah, my God! why did I leave England? Yes, let us confess. I confess
aloud. I have loved--I have been loved by--”

“Well,” said the Queen, “I do not undertake to hear your confession to
the end. That would not perhaps be the least of my dangers, of which,
however, you think little.”

The coolness of Anne of Austria, and this last severe observation,
however, restored a little calm to this beautiful personage, who rose
in confusion, and perceiving the disordered state of her toilet, went to
repair it as she best could in a closet near by.

“Dona Stefania,” said the Queen to one of her women, the only Spaniard
whom she had retained, “go seek the captain of the guards. It is time
that I should see men at last, and hear something reasonable.”

She said this in Spanish, and the mystery of this order, spoken in
a tongue which the ladies did not understand, restored those in the
chamber to their senses.

The waiting-woman was telling her beads, but she rose from the corner
of the alcove in which she had sought refuge, and hastened to obey her
mistress.

The signs of revolt and the evidences of terror became meantime more
distinct. In the great court of the Louvre was heard the trampling of
the horses of the guards, the orders of the chiefs, the rolling of the
Queen’s carriages, which were being prepared, should it be necessary to
fly. The rattling of the iron chains dragged along the pavement to form
barricades in case of an attack, hurried steps in the corridor, the
clash of arms, the confused cries of the people, which rose and fell,
went and came again, like the noise of the waves and the winds. The door
once more opened, and this time it was to admit a very charming person.

“I expected you, dear Marie,” said the Queen, extending her arms to the
Duchesse de Mantua. “You have been more courageous than any of us; you
are attired fit to be seen by all the court.”

“I was not in bed, fortunately,” replied the young Princesse de Gonzaga,
casting down her eyes. “I saw all these people from the windows. O
Madame, Madame, fly! I implore you to escape by the secret stairway, and
let us remain in your place. They might take one of us for the Queen.”
 And she added, with tears, “I have heard cries of death. Fly, Madame! I
have no throne to lose. You are the daughter, the wife, and the mother
of kings. Save yourself, and leave us here!”

“You have more to lose than I, ‘m’amaie’, in beauty, youth, and, I hope,
in happiness,” said the Queen, with a gracious smile, giving the Duchess
her beautiful hands to kiss. “Remain in my alcove and welcome; but we
will both remain there. The only service I accept from you, my sweet
child, is to bring to my bed that little golden casket which my poor
Motteville has left on the ground, and which contains all that I hold
most precious.”

Then, as she took it, she whispered in Marie’s ear:

“Should any misfortune happen to me, swear that you will throw it into
the Seine.”

“I will obey you, Madame, as my benefactress and my second mother,”
 Marie answered, weeping.

The sound of the conflict redoubled on the quays, and the windows
reflected the flash of the firearms, of which they heard the explosion.
The captain of the guards and the captain of the Swiss sent for orders
from the Queen through Dona Stefania.

“I permit them to enter,” said the Queen. “Stand aside, ladies. I am
a man in a moment like this; and I ought to be so.” Then, raising the
bed-curtains, she continued, addressing the two officers:

“Gentlemen, first remember that you answer with your heads for the life
of the princes, my children. You know that, Monsieur de Guitaut?”

“I sleep across their doorway, Madame; but this disturbance does not
threaten either them or your Majesty.”

“Very well; do not think of me until after them,” interrupted the Queen,
“and protect indiscriminately all who are threatened. You also hear me,
Monsieur de Bassompierre; you are a gentleman. Forget that your uncle is
yet in the Bastille, and do your duty by the grandsons of the dead King,
his friend.”

He was a young man, with a frank, open countenance.

“Your Majesty,” said he, with a slight German accent, “may see that I
have forgotten my family, and not yours.” And he displayed his left hand
despoiled of two fingers, which had just been cut off. “I have still
another hand,” said he, bowing and withdrawing with Guitaut.

The Queen, much moved, rose immediately, and, despite the prayers of the
Princesse de Guemenee, the tears of Marie de Gonzaga, and the cries of
Madame de Chevreuse, insisted upon placing herself at the window, and
half opened it, leaning upon the shoulder of the Duchesse de Mantua.

“What do I hear?” she said. “They are crying, ‘Long live the King! Long
live the Queen!’”

The people, imagining they recognized her, redoubled their cries at this
moment, and shouted louder than ever, “Down with the Cardinal! Long live
Monsieur le Grand!”

Marie shuddered.

“What is the matter with you?” said the Queen, observing her. But as
she did not answer, and trembled in every limb, this good and gentle
Princess appeared not to perceive it; and, paying the greatest attention
to the cries and movements of the populace, she even exaggerated an
inquietude which she had not felt since the first name had reached
her ear. An hour later, when they came to tell her that the crowd only
awaited a sign from her hand to withdraw, she waved it graciously, and
with an air of satisfaction. But this joy was far from being complete,
for her heart was still troubled by many things, and, above all, by
the presentiment of the regency. The more she leaned forward to show
herself, the more she beheld the revolting scenes which the increasing
light revealed. Terror took possession of her soul as it became
necessary to appear calm and confiding; and her heart was saddened at
the very gayety of her words and countenance. Exposed to all eyes, she
felt herself a mere woman, and shuddered in looking at that people whom
she would soon perhaps be called upon to govern, and who already took
upon themselves to demand the death of ministers, and to call upon their
Queen to appear before them.

She saluted them.

A hundred and fifty years later that salute was repeated by another
princess, like herself of Austrian blood, and Queen of France. The
monarchy without foundation, such as Richelieu made it, was born and
died between these two salutes.

The Princess at last closed her windows, and hastened to dismiss her
timid suite. The thick curtains fell again over the barred windows; and
the room was no longer lighted by a day which was odious to her. Large
white wax flambeaux burned in candelabra, in the form of golden arms,
which stand out from the framed and flowered tapestries with which the
walls were hung. She remained alone with Marie de Mantua; and reentering
with her the enclosure which was formed by the royal balustrade, she
fell upon her bed, fatigued by her courage and her smiles, and burst
into tears, leaning her head upon her pillow. Marie, on her knees upon a
velvet footstool, held one of her hands in both hers, and without daring
to speak first, leaned her head tremblingly upon it; for until that
moment, tears never had been seen in the Queen’s eyes.

They remained thus for some minutes. The Princess, then raising herself
up by a painful effort, spoke:

“Do not afflict yourself, my child; let me weep. It is such a relief
to one who reigns! If you pray to God for me, ask Him to grant me
sufficient strength not to hate the enemy who pursues me everywhere,
and who will destroy the royal family of France and the monarchy by his
boundless ambition. I recognize him in all that has taken place; I see
him in this tumultuous revolt.”

“What, Madame! is he not at Narbonne?--for it is the Cardinal of whom
you speak, no doubt; and have you not heard that these cries were for
you, and against him?”

“Yes, ‘m’amie’, he is three hundred leagues away from us, but his fatal
genius keeps guard at the door. If these cries have been heard, it is
because he has allowed them; if these men were assembled, it is because
they have not yet reached the hour which he has destined for their
destruction. Believe me, I know him; and I have dearly paid for the
knowledge of that dark soul. It has cost me all the power of my rank,
the pleasures of my age, the affection of my family and even the heart
of my husband. He has isolated me from the whole world. He now confines
me within a barrier of honors and respect; and formerly he dared, to
the scandal of all France, to bring an accusation against myself. They
examined my papers, they interrogated me, they made me sign myself
guilty, and ask the King’s pardon for a fault of which I was ignorant;
and I owed to the devotion, and the perhaps eternal imprisonment of a
faithful servant, the preservation of this casket which you have saved
for me. I read in your looks that you think me too fearful; but do not
deceive yourself, as all the court now does. Be sure, my dear child,
that this man is everywhere, and that he knows even our thoughts.”

   [His name was Laporte. Neither the fear of torture nor the hope of
   the Cardinal’s reward could draw from him one word of the Queen’s
   secrets.]

“What, Madame! does he know all that these men have cried under your
windows, and the names of those who sent them?”

“Yes; no doubt he knows it, or has foreseen it. He permits it; he
authorizes it, to compromise me in the King’s eyes, and keep him forever
separated from me. He would complete my humiliation.”

“But the King has not loved him for two years; he loves another.”

The Queen smiled; she gazed some time in silence upon the pure and open
features of the beautiful Marie, and her look, full of candor, which
was languidly raised toward her. She smoothed back the black curls which
shaded her noble forehead, and seemed to rest her eyes and her soul in
looking at the charming innocence displayed upon so lovely a face. She
kissed her cheek, and resumed:

“You do not suspect, my poor child, a sad truth. It is that the King
loves no one, and that those who appear the most in favor will be the
soonest abandoned by him, and thrown to him who engulfs and devours
all.”

“Ah, mon Dieu! what is this you tell me?”

“Do you know how many he has destroyed?” continued the Queen, in a low
voice, and looking into her eyes as if to read in them all her thoughts,
and to make her own penetrate there. “Do you know the end of his
favorites? Have you been told of the exile of Baradas; of that of
Saint-Simon; of the convent of Mademoiselle de la Fayette, the shame of
Madame d’Hautfort, the death of Chalais? All have fallen before an order
from Richelieu to his master. Without this favor, which you mistake
for friendship, their lives would have been peaceful. But this favor is
mortal; it is a poison. Look at this tapestry, which represents Semele.
The favorites of Louis XIII resemble that woman; his attachment devours
like this fire, which dazzles and consumes her.”

But the young Duchess was no longer in a condition to listen to the
Queen. She continued to fix her large, dark eyes upon her, dimmed by a
veil of tears; her hands trembled in those of Anne of Austria, and her
lips quivered with convulsive agitation.

“I am very cruel, am I not, Marie?” continued the Queen, in an extremely
sweet voice, and caressing her like a child from whom one would draw an
avowal. “Oh, yes; no doubt I am very wicked! Your heart is full; you can
not bear it, my child. Come, tell me; how do matters stand with you and
Monsieur de Cinq-Mars?”

At this word grief found a vent, and, still on her knees at the Queen’s
feet, Marie in her turn shed upon the bosom of the good Princess a
deluge of tears, with childish sobs and so violent an agitation of her
head and her beautiful shoulders that it seemed as if her heart would
break. The Queen waited a long time for the end of this first emotion,
rocking her in her arms as if to appease her grief, frequently
repeating, “My child, my child, do not afflict yourself thus!”

“Ah, Madame!” she exclaimed, “I have been guilty toward you; but I did
not reckon upon that heart. I have done wrong, and I shall perhaps be
punished severely for it. But, alas! how shall I venture to confess
to you, Madame? It was not so much to open my heart to you that was
difficult; it was to avow to you that I had need to read there myself.”

The Queen reflected a moment, laying her finger upon her lips. “You are
right,” she then replied; “you are quite right. Marie, it is always the
first word which is the most difficult to say; and that difficulty often
destroys us. But it must be so; and without this rule one would be often
wanting in dignity. Ah, how difficult it is to reign! To-day I would
descend into your heart, but I come too late to do you good.”

Marie de Mantua hung her head without making any reply.

“Must I encourage you to speak?” said the Queen. “Must I remind you that
I have almost adopted you for my eldest daughter? that after seeking
to unite you with the King’s brother, I prepared for you the throne of
Poland? Must I do more, Marie? Yes, I must, I will. If afterward you do
not open your whole heart to me, I have misjudged you. Open this golden
casket; here is the key. Open it fearlessly; do not tremble as I do.”

The Duchesse de Mantua obeyed with hesitation, and beheld in this little
chased coffer a knife of rude form, the handle of which was of iron, and
the blade very rusty. It lay upon some letters carefully folded, upon
which was the name of Buckingham. She would have lifted them; Anne of
Austria stopped her.

“Seek nothing further,” she said; “that is all the treasure of the
Queen. And it is a treasure; for it is the blood of a man who lives no
longer, but who lived for me. He was the most beautiful, the bravest,
the most illustrious of the nobles of Europe. He covered himself with
the diamonds of the English crown to please me. He raised up a fierce
war and armed fleets, which he himself commanded, that he might have the
happiness of once fighting him who was my husband. He traversed the seas
to gather a flower upon which I had trodden, and ran the risk of death
to kiss and bathe with his tears the foot of this bed in the presence
of two of my ladies-in-waiting. Shall I say more? Yes, I will say it to
you--I loved him! I love him still in the past more than I could love
him in the present. He never knew it, never divined it. This face, these
eyes, were marble toward him, while my heart burned and was breaking
with grief; but I was the Queen of France!” Here Anne of Austria
forcibly grasped Marie’s arm. “Dare now to complain,” she continued, “if
you have not yet ventured to speak to me of your love, and dare now to
be silent when I have told you these things!”

“Ah, yes, Madame, I shall dare to confide my grief to you, since you are
to me--”

“A friend, a woman!” interrupted the Queen. “I was a woman in my terror,
which put you in possession of a secret unknown to the whole world. I am
a woman by a love which survives the man I loved. Speak; tell me! It is
now time.”

“It is too late, on the contrary,” replied Marie, with a forced smile.
“Monsieur de Cinq-Mars and I are united forever.”

“Forever!” exclaimed the Queen. “Can you mean it? And your rank, your
name, your future--is all lost? Do you reserve this despair for your
brother, the Duc de Bethel, and all the Gonzagas?”

“For more than four years I have thought of it. I am resolved; and for
ten days we have been affianced.”

“Affianced!” exclaimed the Queen, clasping her hands. “You have been
deceived, Marie. Who would have dared this without the King’s order? It
is an intrigue which I will know. I am sure that you have been misled
and deceived.”

Marie hesitated a moment, and then said:

“Nothing is more simple, Madame, than our attachment. I inhabited, you
know, the old chateau of Chaumont, with the Marechale d’Effiat, the
mother of Monsieur de Cinq-Mars. I had retired there to mourn the death
of my father; and it soon happened that Monsieur de Cinq-Mars had to
deplore the loss of his. In this numerous afflicted family, I saw his
grief only, which was as profound as mine. All that he said, I had
already thought, and when we spoke of our afflictions we found them
wholly alike. As I had been the first to suffer, I was better acquainted
with sorrow than he; and I endeavored to console him by telling him all
that I had suffered, so that in pitying me he forgot himself. This was
the beginning of our love, which, as you see, had its birth, as it were,
between two tombs.”

“God grant, my sweet, that it may have a happy termination!” said the
Queen.

“I hope so, Madame, since you pray for me,” continued Marie. “Besides,
everything now smiles upon me; but at that time I was very miserable.
The news arrived one day at the chateau that the Cardinal had called
Monsieur de Cinq-Mars to the army. It seemed to me that I was again
deprived of one of my relatives; and yet we were strangers. But Monsieur
de Bassompierre spoke without ceasing of battles and death. I retired
every evening in grief, and I wept during the night. I thought at first
that my tears flowed for the past, but I soon perceived that it was for
the future; and I felt that they could not be the same tears, since
I wished to conceal them. Some time passed in the expectation of his
departure. I saw him every day; and I pitied him for having to depart,
because he repeated to me every instant that he would have wished to
live eternally as he then did, in his own country and with us. He was
thus without ambition until the day of his departure, because he knew
not whether he was--whether he was--I dare not say it to your Majesty--”

Marie blushed, cast down her humid eyes, and smiled.

“Well!” said the Queen, “whether he was beloved,--is it not so?”

“And in the evening, Madame, he left, ambitious.”

“That is evident, certainly. He left,” said Anne of Austria, somewhat
relieved; “but he has been back two years, and you have seen him?”

“Seldom, Madame,” said the young Duchess, proudly; “and always in the
presence of the priest, before whom I have promised to be the wife of no
other than Cinq-Mars.”

“Is it really, then, a marriage? Have you dared to do it? I shall
inquire. But, Heaven, what faults! how many faults in the few words I
have heard! Let me reflect upon them.”

And, speaking aloud to herself, the Queen continued, her eyes and head
bent in the attitude of reflection:

“Reproaches are useless and cruel if the evil is done. The past is no
longer ours; let us think of the future. Cinq-Mars is brave, able, and
even profound in his ideas. I have observed that he has done much in two
years, and I now see that it was for Marie. He comports himself well; he
is worthy of her in my eyes, but not so in the eyes of Europe. He must
rise yet higher. The Princesse de Mantua can not, may not, marry less
than a prince. He must become one. By myself I can do nothing; I am
not the Queen, I am the neglected wife of the King. There is only the
Cardinal, the eternal Cardinal, and he is his enemy; and perhaps this
disturbance--”

“Alas! it is the beginning of war between them. I saw it at once.”

“He is lost then!” exclaimed the Queen, embracing Marie. “Pardon me, my
child, for thus afflicting you; but in times like these we must see
all and say all. Yes, he is lost if he does not himself overthrow this
wicked man--for the King will not renounce him; force alone--”

“He will overthrow him, Madame. He will do it, if you will assist him.
You are the divinity of France. Oh, I conjure you, protect the angel
against the demon! It is your cause, that of your royal family, that of
all your nation.”

The Queen smiled.

“It is, above all, your cause, my child; and it is as such that I will
embrace it to the utmost extent of my power. That is not great, as I
have told you; but such as it is, I lend it to you entirely, provided,
however, that this angel does not stoop to commit mortal sins,” added
she, with a meaning look. “I heard his name pronounced this night by
voices most unworthy of him.”

“Oh, Madame, I would swear that he knows nothing of it!”

“Ah, my child, do not speak of State affairs. You are not yet learned
enough in them. Let me sleep, if I can, before the hour of my toilette.
My eyes are burning, and yours also, perhaps.”

Saying these words, the amiable Queen laid her head upon the pillow
which covered the casket, and soon Marie saw her fall asleep through
sheer fatigue. She then rose, and, seating herself in a great,
tapestried, square armchair, clasped her hands upon her knees, and began
to reflect upon her painful situation. Consoled by the aspect of her
gentle protectress, she often raised her eyes to watch her slumber, and
sent her in secret all the blessings which love showers upon those who
protect it, sometimes kissing the curls of her blond hair, as if by this
kiss she could convey to her soul all the ideas favorable to the thought
ever present to her mind.

The Queen’s slumber was prolonged, while Marie thought and wept.
However, she remembered that at ten o’clock she must appear at the royal
toilette before all the court. She resolved to cast aside reflection,
to dry her tears, and she took a thick folio volume placed upon a table
inlaid with enamel and medallions; it was the ‘Astree’ of M. d’Urfe--a
work ‘de belle galanterie’ adored by the fair prudes of the court. The
unsophisticated and straightforward mind of Marie could not enter into
these pastoral loves. She was too simple to understand the ‘bergeres
du Lignon’, too clever to be pleased at their discourse, and too
impassioned to feel their tenderness. However, the great popularity of
the romance so far influenced her that she sought to compel herself to
take an interest in it; and, accusing herself internally every time that
she felt the ennui which exhaled from the pages of the book, she ran
through it with impatience to find something to please and transport
her. An engraving arrested her attention. It represented the shepherdess
Astree with high-heeled shoes, a corset, and an immense farthingale,
standing on tiptoe to watch floating down the river the tender Celadon,
drowning himself in despair at having, been somewhat coldly received in
the morning. Without explaining to herself the reason of the taste and
accumulated fallacies of this picture, she sought, in turning over
the pages, something which could fix her attention; she saw the word
“Druid.”

“Ah! here is a great character,” said she. “I shall no doubt read of
one of those mysterious sacrificers of whom Britain, I am told, still
preserves the monuments; but I shall see him sacrificing men. That would
be a spectacle of horror; however, let us read it.”

Saying this, Marie read with repugnance, knitting her brows, and nearly
trembling, the following:

   “The Druid Adamas delicately called the shepherds Pimandre,
   Ligdamont, and Clidamant, newly arrived from Calais. ‘This
   adventure can not terminate,’ said he, ‘but by the extremity of
   love. The soul, when it loves, transforms itself into the object
   beloved; it is to represent this that my agreeable enchantments will
   show you in this fountain the nymph Sylvia, whom you all three love.
   The high-priest Amasis is about to come from Montbrison, and will
   explain to you the delicacy of this idea. Go, then, gentle
   shepherds! If your desires are well regulated, they will not cause
   you any torments; and if they are not so, you will be punished by
   swoonings similar to those of Celadon, and the shepherdess Galatea,
   whom the inconstant Hercules abandoned in the mountains of Auvergne,
   and who gave her name to the tender country of the Gauls; or you
   will be stoned by the shepherdesses of Lignon, as was the ferocious
   Amidor. The great nymph of this cave has made an enchantment.’”

The enchantment of the great nymph was complete on the Princess, who had
hardly sufficient strength to find out with a trembling hand, toward
the end of the book, that the Druid Adamas was an ingenious allegory,
representing the Lieutenant-General of Montbrison, of the family of the
Papons. Her weary eyes closed, and the great book slipped from her lap
to the cushion of velvet upon which her feet were placed, and where
the beautiful Astree and the gallant Celadon reposed luxuriously, less
immovable than Marie de Mantua, vanquished by them and by profound
slumber.



CHAPTER XVI. THE CONFUSION

This same morning, the various events of which we have seen in the
apartments of Gaston d’Orleans and of the Queen, the calm and silence
of study reigned in a modest cabinet of a large house near the Palais
de justice. A bronze lamp, of a gothic shape, struggling with the coming
day, threw its red light upon a mass of papers and books which covered
a large table; it lighted the bust of L’Hopital, that of Montaigne the
essayist, the President de Thou, and of King Louis XIII.

A fireplace sufficiently large for a man to enter and sit there was
occupied by a large fire burning upon enormous andirons. Upon one of
these was placed the foot of the studious De Thou, who, already risen,
examined with attention the new works of Descartes and Grotius. He
was writing upon his knee his notes upon these books of philosophy and
politics, which were then the general subjects of conversation; but at
this moment the ‘Meditations Metaphysiques’ absorbed all his attention.
The philosopher of Touraine enchanted the young counsellor. Often, in
his enthusiasm, he struck the book, uttering exclamations of admiration;
sometimes he took a sphere placed near him, and, turning it with his
fingers, abandoned himself to the most profound reveries of science;
then, led by them to a still greater elevation of mind, he would
suddenly throw himself upon his knees before a crucifix, placed upon the
chimney-piece, because at the limits of the human mind he had found
God. At other times he buried himself in his great armchair, so as to be
nearly sitting upon his shoulders, and, placing his two hands upon his
eyes, followed in his head the trace of the reasoning of Rene Descartes,
from this idea of the first meditation:

   “Suppose that we are asleep, and that all these particularities--
   that is, that we open our eyes, move our heads, spread our arms--are
   nothing but false illusions.”

to this sublime conclusion of the third:

   “Only one thing remains to be said; it is that like the idea of
   myself, that of God is born and produced with me from the time I was
   created. And certainly it should not be thought strange that God,
   in creating me, should have implanted in me this idea, to be, as it
   were, the mark of the workman impressed upon his work.”

These thoughts entirely occupied the mind of the young counsellor, when
a loud noise was heard under the windows. He thought that some house on
fire excited these prolonged cries, and hastened to look toward the wing
of the building occupied by his mother and sisters; but all appeared
to sleep there, and the chimneys did not even send forth any smoke, to
attest that its inhabitants were even awake. He blessed Heaven for it;
and, running to another window, he saw the people, whose exploits we
have witnessed, hastening toward the narrow streets which led to the
quay.

After examining this rabble of women and children, the ridiculous flag
which led them, and the rude disguises of the men: “It is some popular
fete or some carnival comedy,” said he; and again returning to the
corner of the fire, he placed a large almanac upon the table, and
carefully sought in it what saint was honored that day. He looked in the
column of the month of December; and, finding at the fourth day of this
month the name of Ste.-Barbe, he remembered that he had seen several
small cannons and barrels pass, and, perfectly satisfied with the
explanation which he had given himself, he hastened to drive away the
interruption which had called off his attention, and resumed his quiet
studies, rising only to take a book from the shelves of his library,
and, after reading in it a phrase, a line, or only a word, he threw it
from him upon his table or on the floor, covered in this way with books
or papers which he would not trouble himself to return to their places,
lest he should break the thread of his reveries.

Suddenly the door was hastily opened, and a name was announced which
he had distinguished among those at the bar--a man whom his connections
with the magistracy had made personally known to him.

“And by what chance, at five o’clock in the morning, do I see Monsieur
Fournier?” he cried. “Are there some unfortunates to defend, some
families to be supported by the fruits of his talent, some error to
dissipate in us, some virtue to awaken in our hearts? for these are
of his accustomed works. You come, perhaps, to inform me of some fresh
humiliation of our parliament. Alas! the secret chambers of the Arsenal
are more powerful than the ancient magistracy of Clovis. The parliament
is on its knees; all is lost, unless it is soon filled with men like
yourself.”

“Monsieur, I do not merit your praise,” said the Advocate, entering,
accompanied by a grave and aged man, enveloped like himself in a large
cloak. “I deserve, on the contrary, your censure; and I am almost a
penitent, as is Monsieur le Comte du Lude, whom you see here. We come to
ask an asylum for the day.”

“An asylum! and against whom?” said De Thou, making them sit down.

“Against the lowest people in Paris, who wish to have us for chiefs, and
from whom we fly. It is odious; the sight, the smell, the ear, and the
touch, above all, are too severely wounded by it,” said M. du Lude, with
a comical gravity. “It is too much!”

“Ah! too much, you say?” said De Thou, very much astonished, but not
willing to show it.

“Yes,” answered the Advocate; “really, between ourselves, Monsieur le
Grand goes too far.”

“Yes, he pushes things too fast. He will render all our projects
abortive,” added his companion.

“Ah! and you say he goes too far?” replied M. de Thou, rubbing his chin,
more and more surprised.

Three months had passed since his friend Cinq-Mars had been to see him;
and he, without feeling much disquieted about it--knowing that he was at
St.-Germain in high favor, and never quitting the King--was far removed
from the news of the court. Absorbed in his grave studies, he never
heard of public events till they were forced upon his attention. He
knew nothing of current life until the last moment, and often amused
his intimate friends by his naive astonishment--the more so that from a
little worldly vanity he desired to have it appear as if he were fully
acquainted with the course of events, and tried to conceal the
surprise he experienced at every fresh intelligence. He was now in this
situation, and to this vanity was added the feeling of friendship; he
would not have it supposed that Cinq-Mars had been negligent toward
him, and, for his friend’s honor even, would appear to be aware of his
projects.

“You know very well how we stand now,” continued the Advocate.

“Yes, of course. Well?”

“Intimate as you are with him, you can not be ignorant that all has been
organizing for a year past.”

“Certainly, all has been organizing; but proceed.”

“You will admit with us that Monsieur le Grand is wrong?”

“Ah, that is as it may be; but explain yourself. I shall see.”

“Well, you know upon what we had agreed at the last conference of which
he informed you?”

“Ah! that is to say--pardon me, I perceive it almost; but set me a
little upon the track.”

“It is useless; you no doubt remember what he himself recommended us to
do at Marion de Lorme’s?”

“To add no one to our list,” said M. du Lude.

“Ah, yes, yes! I understand,” said De Thou; “that appears reasonable,
very reasonable, truly.”

“Well,” continued Fournier, “he himself has infringed this agreement;
for this morning, besides the ragamuffins whom that ferret the Abbe de
Gondi brought to us, there was some vagabond captain, who during the
night struck with sword and poniard gentlemen of both parties, crying
out at the top of his voice, ‘A moi, D’Aubijoux! You gained three
thousand ducats from me; here are three sword-thrusts for you. ‘A moi’,
La Chapelle! I will have ten drops of your blood in exchange for my ten
pistoles!’ and I myself saw him attack these gentlemen and many more of
both sides, loyally enough, it is true--for he struck them only in front
and on their guard--but with great success, and with a most revolting
impartiality.”

“Yes, Monsieur, and I was about to tell him my opinion,” interposed De
Lude, “when I saw him escape through the crowd like a squirrel, laughing
greatly with some suspicious looking men with dark, swarthy faces; I
do not doubt, however, that Monsieur de Cinq-Mars sent him, for he gave
orders to that Ambrosio whom you must know--that Spanish prisoner, that
rascal whom he has taken for a servant. In faith, I am disgusted with
all this; and I was not born to mingle with this canaille.”

“This, Monsieur,” replied Fournier, “is very different from the affair
at Loudun. There the people only rose, without actually revolting; it
was the sensible and estimable part of the populace, indignant at an
assassination, and not heated by wine and money. It was a cry raised
against an executioner--a cry of which one could honorably be the
organ--and not these howlings of factious hypocrisy, of a mass of
unknown people, the dregs of the mud and sewers of Paris. I confess that
I am very tired of what I see; and I have come to entreat you to speak
about it to Monsieur le Grand.”

De Thou was very much embarrassed during this conversation, and sought
in vain to understand what Cinq-Mars could have to do with the people,
who appeared to him merely merrymaking; on the other hand, he persisted
in not owning his ignorance. It was, however, complete; for the last
time he had seen his friend, he had spoken only of the King’s horses and
stables, of hawking, and of the importance of the King’s huntsmen in the
affairs of the State, which did not seem to announce vast projects in
which the people could take a part. He at last timidly ventured to say:

“Messieurs, I promise to do your commission; meanwhile, I offer you
my table and beds as long as you please. But to give my advice in
this matter is very difficult. By the way, it was not the fete of
Sainte-Barbe I saw this morning?”

“The Sainte-Barbe!” said Fournier.

“The Sainte-Barbe!” echoed Du Lude. “They burned powder.”

“Oh, yes, yes! that is what Monsieur de Thou means,” said Fournier,
laughing; “very good, very good indeed! Yes, I think to-day is
Sainte-Barbe.”

De Thou was now altogether confused and reduced to silence; as for the
others, seeing that they did not understand him, nor he them, they had
recourse to silence.

They were sitting thus mute, when the door opened to admit the old tutor
of Cinq-Mars, the Abbe Quillet, who entered, limping slightly. He looked
very gloomy, retaining none of his former gayety in his air or language;
but his look was still animated, and his speech energetic.

“Pardon me, my dear De Thou, that I so early disturb you in your
occupations; it is strange, is it not, in a gouty invalid? Ah, time
advances; two years ago I did not limp. I was, on the contrary, nimble
enough at the time of my journey to Italy; but then fear gives legs as
well as wings.”

Then, retiring into the recess of a window, he signed De Thou to come to
him.

“I need hardly remind you, my friend, who are in their secrets, that I
affianced them a fortnight ago, as they have told you.”

“Ah, indeed! Whom?” exclaimed poor De Thou, fallen from the Charybdis
into the Scylla of astonishment.

“Come, come, don’t affect surprise; you know very well whom,” continued
the Abbe. “But, faith, I fear I have been too complaisant with them,
though these two children are really interesting in their love. I fear
for him more than for her; I doubt not he is acting very foolishly,
judging from the disturbance this morning. We must consult together
about it.”

“But,” said De Thou, very gravely, “upon my honor, I do not know what
you mean. Who is acting foolishly?”

“Now, my dear Monsieur, will you still play the mysterious with me? It
is really insulting,” said the worthy man, beginning to be angry.

“No, indeed, I mean it not; whom have you affianced?”

“Again! fie, Monsieur!”

“And what was the disturbance this morning?”

“You are laughing at me! I take my leave,” said the Abbe, rising.

“I vow that I understand not a word of all that has been told me to-day.
Do you mean Monsieur de Cinq-Mars?”

“Very well, Monsieur, very well! you treat me as a Cardinalist; very
well, we part,” said the Abbe Quillet, now altogether furious. And he
snatched up his crutch and quitted the room hastily, without listening
to De Thou, who followed him to his carriage, seeking to pacify him,
but without effect, because he did not wish to name his friend upon the
stairs in the hearing of his servants, and could not explain the matter
otherwise. He had the annoyance of seeing the old Abbe depart, still in
a passion; he called out to him amicably, “Tomorrow,” as the coachman
drove off, but got no answer.

It was, however, not uselessly that he had descended to the foot of the
stairs, for he saw thence hideous groups of the mob returning from the
Louvre, and was thus better able to judge of the importance of their
movements in the morning; he heard rude voices exclaiming, as in
triumph:

“She showed herself, however, the little Queen!” “Long live the good
Duc de Bouillon, who is coming to us! He has a hundred thousand men with
him, all on rafts on the Seine. The old Cardinal de la Rochelle is dead!
Long live the King! Long live Monsieur le Grand!”

The cries redoubled at the arrival of a carriage and four, with the
royal livery, which stopped at the counsellor’s door, and in which De
Thou recognized the equipage of Cinq-Mars; Ambrosio alighted to open the
ample curtains, which the carriages of that period had for doors. The
people threw themselves between the carriage-steps and the door of the
house, so that Cinq-Mars had an absolute struggle ere he could get out
and disengage himself from the market-women, who sought to embrace him,
crying:

“Here you are, then, my sweet, my dear! Here you are, my pet! Ah, how
handsome he is, the love, with his big collar! Isn’t he worth more than
the other fellow with the white moustache? Come, my son, bring us out
some good wine this morning.”

Henri d’Effiat pressed, blushing deeply the while, his friend’s
hand,--who hastened to have his doors closed.

“This popular favor is a cup one must drink,” said he, as they ascended
the stairs.

“It appears to me,” replied De Thou, gravely, “that you drink it even to
the very dregs.”

“I will explain all this clamorous affair to you,” answered Cinq-Mars,
somewhat embarrassed. “At present, if you love me, dress yourself to
accompany me to the Queen’s toilette.”

“I promised you blind adherence,” said the counsellor; “but truly I can
not keep my eyes shut much longer if--”

“Once again, I will give you a full explanation as we return from the
Queen. But make haste; it is nearly ten o’clock.”

“Well, I will go with you,” replied De Thou, conducting him into his
cabinet, where were the Comte du Lude and Fournier, while he himself
passed into his dressing-room.



CHAPTER XVII. TOILETTE

The carriage of the Grand Equerry was rolling rapidly toward the Louvre,
when, closing the curtain, he took his friend’s hand, and said to him
with emotion:

“Dear De Thou, I have kept great secrets in my heart, and, believe
me, they have weighed heavily there; but two fears impelled me to
silence--that of your danger, and--shall I say it?--that of your
counsels.”

“Yet well you know,” replied De Thou, “that I despise the first; and I
deemed that you did not despise the second.”

“No, but I feared, and still fear them. I would not be stopped. Do not
speak, my friend; not a word, I conjure you, before you have heard and
seen all that is about to take place. I will return with you to your
house on quitting the Louvre; there I will listen to you, and thence I
shall depart to continue my work, for nothing will shake my resolve, I
warn you. I have just said so to the gentlemen at your house.”

In his accent Cinq-Mars had nothing of the brusqueness which clothed
his words. His voice was conciliatory, his look gentle, amiable,
affectionate, his air as tranquil as it was determined. There was no
indication of the slightest effort at control. De Thou remarked it, and
sighed.

Alighting from the carriage with him, De Thou followed him up the
great staircase of the Louvre. When they entered the Queen’s apartment,
announced by two ushers dressed in black and bearing ebony rods, she
was seated at her toilette. This was a table of black wood, inlaid with
tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, and brass, in an infinity of designs of
very bad taste, but which give to all furniture an air of grandeur which
we still admire in it. A mirror, rounded at the top, which the ladies of
our time would consider small and insignificant, stood in the middle of
the table, whereon were scattered jewels and necklaces.

Anne of Austria, seated before it in a large armchair of crimson velvet,
with long gold fringe, was as motionless and grave as on her throne,
while Dona Stefania and Madame de Motteville, on either side, lightly
touched her beautiful blond hair with a comb, as if finishing the
Queen’s coiffure, which, however, was already perfectly arranged and
decorated with pearls. Her long tresses, though light, were exquisitely
glossy, manifesting that to the touch they must be fine and soft as
silk. The daylight fell without a shade upon her forehead, which had no
reason to dread the test, itself reflecting an almost equal light from
its surpassing fairness, which the Queen was pleased thus to display.
Her blue eyes, blended with green, were large and regular, and her
vermilion mouth had that underlip of the princesses of Austria, somewhat
prominent and slightly cleft, in the form of a cherry, which may still
be marked in all the female portraits of this time, whose painters
seemed to have aimed at imitating the Queen’s mouth, in order to please
the women of her suite, whose desire was, no doubt, to resemble her.

The black dress then adopted by the court, and of which the form was
even fixed by an edict, set off the ivory of her arms, bare to the
elbow, and ornamented with a profusion of lace, which flowed from her
loose sleeves. Large pearls hung in her ears and from her girdle. Such
was the appearance of the Queen at this moment. At her feet, upon two
velvet cushions, a boy of four years old was playing with a little
cannon, which he was assiduously breaking in pieces. This was the
Dauphin, afterward Louis XIV. The Duchesse Marie de Mantua was seated on
her right hand upon a stool. The Princesse de Guemenee, the Duchesse de
Chevreuse, and Mademoiselle de Montbazon, Mesdemoiselles de Guise, de
Rohan, and de Vendome, all beautiful and brilliant with youth, were
behind her, standing. In the recess of a window, Monsieur, his hat under
his arm, was talking in a low voice with a man, stout, with a red face
and a steady and daring eye. This was the Duc de Bouillon. An officer
about twenty-five years of age, well-formed, and of agreeable presence,
had just given several papers to the Prince, which the Duc de Bouillon
appeared to be explaining to him.

De Thou, after having saluted the Queen, who said a few words to him,
approached the Princesse de Guemenee, and conversed with her in an
undertone, with an air of affectionate intimacy, but all the while
intent upon his friend’s interest. Secretly trembling lest he should
have confided his destiny to a being less worthy of him than he wished,
he examined the Princess Marie with the scrupulous attention, the
scrutinizing eye of a mother examining the woman whom her son has
selected for his bride--for he thought that Marie could not be
altogether a stranger to the enterprise of Cinq-Mars. He saw with
dissatisfaction that her dress, which was extremely elegant, appeared
to inspire her with more vanity than became her on such an occasion. She
was incessantly rearranging upon her forehead and her hair the rubies
which ornamented her head, and which scarcely equalled the brilliancy
and animated color of her complexion. She looked frequently at
Cinq-Mars; but it was rather the look of coquetry than that of love, and
her eyes often glanced toward the mirror on the toilette, in which she
watched the symmetry of her beauty. These observations of the counsellor
began to persuade him that he was mistaken in suspecting her to be
the aim of Cinq-Mars, especially when he saw that she seemed to have
a pleasure in sitting at the Queen’s side, while the duchesses stood
behind her, and that she often looked haughtily at them.

“In that heart of nineteen,” said he, “love, were there love, would
reign alone and above all to-day. It is not she!”

The Queen made an almost imperceptible movement of the head to Madame
de Guemenee. After the two friends had spoken a moment with each person
present, and at this sign, all the ladies, except Marie de Mantua,
making profound courtesies, quitted the apartment without speaking, as
if by previous arrangement. The Queen, then herself turning her chair,
said to Monsieur:

“My brother, I beg you will come and sit down by me. We will consult
upon what I have already told you. The Princesse Marie will not be in
the way. I begged her to remain. We have no interruption to fear.”

The Queen seemed more at ease in her manner and language; and no longer
preserving her severe and ceremonious immobility, she signed to the
other persons present to approach her.

Gaston d’Orleans, somewhat alarmed at this solemn opening, came
carelessly, sat down on her right hand, and said with a half-smile and
a negligent air, playing with his ruff and the chain of the Saint Esprit
which hung from his neck:

“I think, Madame, that we shall fatigue the ears of so young a personage
by a long conference. She would rather hear us speak of dances, and of
marriage, of an elector, or of the King of Poland, for example.”

Marie assumed a disdainful air; Cinq-Mars frowned.

“Pardon me,” replied the Queen, looking at her; “I assure you the
politics of the present time interest her much. Do not seek to escape
us, my brother,” added she, smiling. “I have you to-day! It is the least
we can do to listen to Monsieur de Bouillon.”

The latter approached, holding by the hand the young officer of whom we
have spoken.

“I must first,” said he, “present to your Majesty the Baron de Beauvau,
who has just arrived from Spain.”

“From Spain?” said the Queen, with emotion. “There is courage in that;
you have seen my family?”

“He will speak to you of them, and of the Count-Duke of Olivares. As
to courage, it is not the first time he has shown it. He commanded the
cuirassiers of the Comte de Soissons.”

“How? so young, sir! You must be fond of political wars.”

“On the contrary, your Majesty will pardon me,” replied he, “for I
served with the princes of the peace.”

Anne of Austria smiled at this jeu-de-mot. The Duc de Bouillon, seizing
the moment to bring forward the grand question he had in view, quitted
Cinq-Mars, to whom he had just given his hand with an air of the
most zealous friendship, and approaching the Queen with him, “It is
miraculous, Madame,” said he, “that this period still contains in its
bosom some noble characters, such as these;” and he pointed to the
master of the horse, to young Beauvau, and to De Thou. “It is only in
them that we can place our hope for the future. Such men are indeed very
rare now, for the great leveller has swung a long scythe over France.”

“Is it of Time you speak,” said the Queen, “or of a real personage?”

“Too real, too living, too long living, Madame!” replied the Duke,
becoming more animated; “but his measureless ambition, his colossal
selfishness can no longer be endured. All those who have noble hearts
are indignant at this yoke; and at this moment, more than ever, we see
misfortunes threatening us in the future. It must be said, Madame--yes,
it is no longer time to blind ourselves to the truth, or to conceal
it--the King’s illness is serious. The moment for thinking and resolving
has arrived, for the time to act is not far distant.”

The severe and abrupt tone of M. de Bouillon did not surprise Anne of
Austria; but she had always seen him more calm, and was, therefore,
somewhat alarmed by the disquietude he betrayed. Quitting accordingly
the tone of pleasantry which she had at first adopted, she said:

“How! what fear you, and what would you do?”

“I fear nothing for myself, Madame, for the army of Italy or Sedan
will always secure my safety; but I fear for you, and perhaps for the
princes, your sons.”

“For my children, Monsieur le Duc, for the sons of France? Do you hear
him, my brother, and do you not appear astonished?”

The Queen was deeply agitated.

“No, Madame,” said Gaston d’Orleans, calmly; “you know that I am
accustomed to persecution. I am prepared to expect anything from that
man. He is master; we must be resigned.”

“He master!” exclaimed the Queen. “And from whom does he derive his
powers, if not from the King? And after the King, what hand will sustain
him? Can you tell me? Who will prevent him from again returning to
nothing? Will it be you or I?”

“It will be himself,” interrupted M. de Bouillon, “for he seeks to be
named regent; and I know that at this moment he contemplates taking your
children from you, and requiring the King to confide them to his care.”

“Take them from me!” cried the mother, involuntarily seizing the
Dauphin, and taking him in her arms.

The child, standing between the Queen’s knees, looked at the men who
surrounded him with a gravity very singular for his age, and, seeing his
mother in tears, placed his hand upon the little sword he wore.

“Ah, Monseigneur,” said the Duc de Bouillon, bending half down to
address to him what he intended for the Princess, “it is not against us
that you must draw your sword, but against him who is undermining
your throne. He prepares an empire for you, no doubt. You will have an
absolute sceptre; but he has scattered the fasces which indicated it.
Those fasces were your ancient nobility, whom he has decimated. When
you are king, you will be a great king. I foresee it; but you will
have subjects only, and no friends, for friendship exists only in
independence and a kind of equality which takes its rise in force. Your
ancestors had their peers; you will not have yours. May God aid you
then, Monseigneur, for man may not do it without institutions! Be great;
but above all, around you, a great man, let there be others as strong,
so that if the one stumbles, the whole monarchy may not fall.”

The Duc de Bouillon had a warmth of expression and a confidence of
manner which captivated those who heard him. His valor, his keen
perception in the field, the profundity of his political views,
his knowledge of the affairs of Europe, his reflective and decided
character, all rendered him one of the most capable and imposing men of
his time-the only one, indeed, whom the Cardinal-Duc really feared. The
Queen always listened to him with confidence, and allowed him to acquire
a sort of empire over her. She was now more deeply moved than ever.

“Ah, would to God,” she exclaimed, “that my son’s mind was ripe for your
counsels, and his arm strong enough to profit by them! Until that time,
however, I will listen, I will act for him. It is I who should be, and
it is I who shall be, regent. I will not resign this right save with
life. If we must make war, we will make it; for I will do everything but
submit to the shame and terror of yielding up the future Louis XIV to
this crowned subject. Yes,” she went on, coloring and closely pressing
the young Dauphin’s arm, “yes, my brother, and you gentlemen, counsel
me! Speak! how do we stand? Must I depart? Speak openly. As a woman, as
a wife, I could have wept over so mournful a position; but now see, as
a mother, I do not weep. I am ready to give you orders if it is
necessary.”

Never had Anne of Austria looked so beautiful as at this moment; and the
enthusiasm she manifested electrified all those present, who needed but
a word from her mouth to speak. The Duc de Bouillon cast a glance at
Monsieur, which decided him.

“Ma foi!” said he, with deliberation, “if you give orders, my sister, I
will be the captain of your guards, on my honor, for I too am weary of
the vexations occasioned me by this knave. He continues to persecute
me, seeks to break off my marriage, and still keeps my friends in the
Bastille, or has them assassinated from time to time; and besides, I
am indignant,” said he, recollecting himself and assuming a more solemn
air, “I am indignant at the misery of the people.”

“My brother,” returned the Princess, energetically, “I take you at your
word, for with you, one must do so; and I hope that together we shall be
strong enough for the purpose. Do only as Monsieur le Comte de Soissons
did, but survive your victory. Side with me, as you did with Monsieur de
Montmorency, but leap the ditch.”

Gaston felt the point of this. He called to mind the well-known incident
when the unfortunate rebel of Castelnaudary leaped almost alone a large
ditch, and found on the other side seventeen wounds, a prison, and death
in the sight of Monsieur, who remained motionless with his army. In the
rapidity of the Queen’s enunciation he had not time to examine
whether she had employed this expression proverbially or with a direct
reference; but at all events, he decided not to notice it, and was
indeed prevented from doing so by the Queen, who continued, looking at
Cinq-Mars:

“But, above all, no panic-terror! Let us know exactly where we are,
Monsieur le Grand. You have just left the King. Is there fear with you?”

D’Effiat had not ceased to observe Marie de Mantua, whose expressive
countenance exhibited to him all her ideas far more rapidly and more
surely than words. He read there the desire that he should speak--the
desire that he should confirm the Prince and the Queen. An impatient
movement of her foot conveyed to him her will that the thing should be
accomplished, the conspiracy arranged. His face became pale and more
pensive; he pondered for a moment, realizing that his destiny was
contained in that hour. De Thou looked at him and trembled, for he knew
him well. He would fain have said one word to him, only one word; but
Cinq-Mars had already raised his head. He spoke:

“I do not think, Madame, that the King is so ill as you suppose. God
will long preserve to us this Prince. I hope so; I am even sure of it.
He suffers, it is true, suffers much; but it is his soul more peculiarly
that is sick, and of an evil which nothing can cure--of an evil which
one would not wish to one’s greatest enemy, and which would gain him the
pity of the whole world if it were known. The end of his misery--that
is to say, of his life--will not be granted him for a long time. His
languor is entirely moral. There is in his heart a great revolution
going on; he would accomplish it, and can not.

“The King has felt for many long years growing within him the seeds of a
just hatred against a man to whom he thinks he owes gratitude, and it
is this internal combat between his natural goodness and his anger that
devours him. Every year that has passed has deposited at his feet, on
one side, the great works of this man, and on the other, his crimes. It
is the last which now weigh down the balance. The King sees them and is
indignant; he would punish, but all at once he stops and weeps. If you
could witness him thus, Madame, you would pity him. I have seen him
seize the pen which was to sign his exile, dip it into the ink with a
bold hand, and use it--for what?--to congratulate him on some recent
success. He at once applauds himself for his goodness as a Christian,
curses himself for his weakness as a sovereign judge, despises himself
as a king. He seeks refuge in prayer, and plunges into meditation upon
the future; then he rises terrified because he has seen in thought the
tortures which this man merits, and how deeply no one knows better than
he. You should hear him in these moments accuse himself of criminal
weakness, and exclaim that he himself should be punished for not having
known how to punish. One would say that there are spirits which order
him to strike, for his arms are raised as he sleeps. In a word,
Madame, the storm murmurs in his heart, but burns none but himself. The
thunderbolts are chained.”

“Well, then, let us loose them!” exclaimed the Duc de Bouillon.

“He who touches them may die of the contact,” said Monsieur.

“But what a noble devotion!” cried the Queen.

“How I should admire the hero!” said Marie, in a half-whisper.

“I will do it,” answered Cinq-Mars.

“We will do it,” said M. de Thou, in his ear.

Young Beauvau had approached the Duc de Bouillon.

“Monsieur,” said he, “do you forget what follows?”

“No, ‘pardieu’! I do not forget it,” replied the latter, in a low voice;
then, addressing the Queen, “Madame,” said he, “accept the offer of
Monsieur le Grand. He is more in a position to sway the King than either
you or I; but hold yourself prepared, for the Cardinal is too wary to be
caught sleeping. I do not believe in his illness. I have no faith in the
silence and immobility of which he has sought to persuade us these two
years past. I would not believe in his death even, unless I had myself
thrown his head into the sea, like that of the giant in Ariosto. Hold
yourself ready to meet all contingencies, and let us, meanwhile, hasten
our operations. I have shown my plans to Monsieur just now; I will give
you a summary of them. I offer you Sedan, Madame, for yourself, and for
Messeigneurs, your sons. The army of Italy is mine; I will recall it if
necessary. Monsieur le Grand is master of half the camp of Perpignan.
All the old Huguenots of La Rochelle and the South are ready to come
to him at the first nod. All has been organized for a year past, by my
care, to meet events.”

“I should not hesitate,” said the Queen, “to place myself in your hands,
to save my children, if any misfortune should happen to the King. But in
this general plan you forget Paris.”

“It is ours on every side; the people by the archbishop, without his
suspecting it, and by Monsieur de Beaufort, who is its king; the troops
by your guards and those of Monsieur, who shall be chief in command, if
he please.”

“I! I! oh, that positively can not be! I have not enough people, and I
must have a retreat stronger than Sedan,” said Gaston.

“It suffices for the Queen,” replied M. de Bouillon.

“Ah, that may be! but my sister does not risk so much as a man who draws
the sword. Do you know that these are bold measures you propose?”

“What, even if we have the King on our side?” asked Anne of Austria.

“Yes, Madame, yes; we do not know how long that may last. We must make
ourselves sure; and I do nothing without the treaty with Spain.”

“Do nothing, then,” said the Queen, coloring deeply; “for certainly I
will never hear that spoken of.”

“And yet, Madame, it were more prudent, and Monsieur is right,” said the
Duc de Bouillon; “for the Count-Duke of San Lucra offers us seventeen
thousand men, tried troops, and five hundred thousand crowns in ready
money.”

“What!” exclaimed the Queen, with astonishment, “have you dared to
proceed so far without my consent? already treaties with foreigners!”

“Foreigners, my sister! could we imagine that a princess of Spain would
use that word?” said Gaston.

Anne of Austria rose, taking the Dauphin by the hand; and, leaning
upon Marie: “Yes, sir,” she said, “I am a Spaniard; but I am the
grand-daughter of Charles V, and I know that a queen’s country is
where her throne is. I leave you, gentlemen; proceed without me. I know
nothing of the matter for the future.”

She advanced some steps, but seeing Marie pale and bathed in tears, she
returned.

“I will, however, solemnly promise you inviolable secrecy; but nothing
more.”

All were mentally disconcerted, except the Duc de Bouillon, who, not
willing to lose the advantages he had gained, said to the Queen, bowing
respectfully:

“We are grateful for this promise, Madame, and we ask no more, persuaded
that after the first success you will be entirely with us.”

Not wishing to engage in a war of words, the Queen courtesied somewhat
less coldly, and quitted the apartment with Marie, who cast upon
Cinq-Mars one of those looks which comprehend at once all the emotions
of the soul. He seemed to read in her beautiful eyes the eternal and
mournful devotion of a woman who has given herself up forever; and he
felt that if he had once thought of withdrawing from his enterprise, he
should now have considered himself the basest of men.

As soon as the two princesses had disappeared, “There, there! I told you
so, Bouillon, you offended the Queen,” said Monsieur; “you went too far.
You can not certainly accuse me of having been hesitating this morning.
I have, on the contrary, shown more resolution than I ought to have
done.”

“I am full of joy and gratitude toward her Majesty,” said M. de
Bouillon, with a triumphant air; “we are sure of the future. What will
you do now, Monsieur de Cinq-Mars?”

“I have told you, Monsieur; I draw not back, whatever the consequences.
I will see the King; I will run every risk to obtain his assent.”

“And the treaty with Spain?”

“Yes, I--”

De Thou seized Cinq-Mars by the arm, and, advancing suddenly, said, with
a solemn air:

“We have decided that it shall be only signed after the interview with
the King; for should his Majesty’s just severity toward the Cardinal
dispense with it, we have thought it better not to expose ourselves to
the discovery of so dangerous a treaty.”

M. de Bouillon frowned.

“If I did not know Monsieur de Thou,” said he, “I should have regarded
this as a defection; but from him--”

“Monsieur,” replied the counsellor, “I think I may engage myself, on my
honor, to do all that Monsieur le Grand does; we are inseparable.”

Cinq-Mars looked at his friend, and was astonished to see upon his mild
countenance the expression of sombre despair; he was so struck with it
that he had not the courage to gainsay him.

“He is right, gentlemen,” he said with a cold but kindly smile; “the
King will perhaps spare us much trouble. We may do good things with
him. For the rest, Monseigneur, and you, Monsieur le Duc,” he added with
immovable firmness, “fear not that I shall ever draw back. I have burned
all the bridges behind me. I must advance; the Cardinal’s power shall
fall, or my head.”

“It is strange, very strange!” said Monsieur; “I see that every one here
is farther advanced in the conspiracy than I imagined.”

“Not so, Monsieur,” said the Duc de Bouillon; “we prepared only that
which you might please to accept. Observe that there is nothing in
writing. You have but to speak, and nothing exists or ever has existed;
according to your order, the whole thing shall be a dream or a volcano.”

“Well, well, I am content, if it must be so,” said Gaston; “let us
occupy ourselves with more agreeable topics. Thank God, we have a little
time before us! I confess I wish that it were all over. I am not fitted
for violent emotions; they affect my health,” he added, taking M. de
Beauvau’s arm. “Tell us if the Spanish women are still pretty, young
man. It is said you are a great gallant among them. ‘Tudieu’! I’m
sure you’ve got yourself talked of there. They tell me the women wear
enormous petticoats. Well, I am not at all against that; they make the
foot look smaller and prettier. I’m sure the wife of Don Louis de Haro
is not handsomer than Madame de Guemenee, is she? Come, be frank; I’m
told she looks like a nun. Ah! you do not answer; you are embarrassed.
She has then taken your fancy; or you fear to offend our friend Monsieur
de Thou in comparing her with the beautiful Guemenee. Well, let’s talk
of the customs; the King has a charming dwarf I’m told, and they put
him in a pie. He is a fortunate man, that King of Spain! I don’t know
another equally so. And the Queen, she is still served on bended knee,
is she not? Ah! that is a good custom; we have lost it. It is very
unfortunate--more unfortunate than may be supposed.”

And Gaston d’Orleans had the confidence to speak in this tone nearly
half an hour, with a young man whose serious character was not at
all adapted to such conversation, and who, still occupied with the
importance of the scene he had just witnessed and the great interests
which had been discussed, made no answer to this torrent of idle words.
He looked at the Duc de Bouillon with an astonished air, as if to ask
him whether this was really the man whom they were going to place at the
head of the most audacious enterprise that had ever been launched; while
the Prince, without appearing to perceive that he remained unanswered,
replied to himself, speaking with volubility, as he drew him gradually
out of the room. He feared that one of the gentlemen present might
recommence the terrible conversation about the treaty; but none desired
to do so, unless it were the Duc de Bouillon, who, however, preserved an
angry silence. As for Cinq-Mars, he had been led away by De Thou, under
cover of the chattering of Monsieur, who took care not to appear to
notice their departure.



BOOK 5.



CHAPTER XVIII. THE SECRET

De Thou had reached home with his friend; his doors were carefully shut,
and orders given to admit no one, and to excuse him to the refugees for
allowing them to depart without seeing them again; and as yet the two
friends had not spoken to each other.

The counsellor had thrown himself into his armchair in deep meditation.
Cinq-Mars, leaning against the lofty chimneypiece, awaited with a
serious and sorrowful air the termination of this silence. At length De
Thou, looking fixedly at him and crossing his arms, said in a hollow and
melancholy voice:

“This, then, is the goal you have reached! These, the consequences of
your ambition! You are are about to banish, perhaps slay, a man, and
to bring then, a foreign army into France; I am, then, to see you an
assassin and a traitor to your country! By what tortuous paths have you
arrived thus far? By what stages have you descended so low?”

“Any other than yourself would not speak thus to me twice,” said
Cinq-Mars, coldly; “but I know you, and I like this explanation. I
desired it, and sought it. You shall see my entire soul. I had at first
another thought, a better one perhaps, more worthy of our friendship,
more worthy of friendship--friendship, the second thing upon earth.”

He raised his eyes to heaven as he spoke, as if he there sought the
divinity.

“Yes, it would have been better. I intended to have said nothing to you
on the subject. It was a painful task to keep silence; but hitherto I
have succeeded. I wished to have conducted the whole enterprise without
you; to show you only the finished work. I wished to keep you beyond the
circle of my danger; but shall I confess my weakness? I feared to die,
if I have to die, misjudged by you. I can well sustain the idea of the
world’s malediction, but not of yours; but this has decided me upon
avowing all to you.”

“What! and but for this thought, you would have had the courage to
conceal yourself forever from me? Ah, dear Henri, what have I done that
you should take this care of my life? By what fault have I deserved to
survive you, if you die? You have had the strength of mind to hoodwink
me for two whole years; you have never shown me aught of your life
but its flowers; you have never entered my solitude but with a joyous
countenance, and each time with a fresh favor. Ah, you must be very
guilty or very virtuous!”

“Do not seek in my soul more than therein lies. Yes, I have deceived
you; and that fact was the only peace and joy I had in the world.
Forgive me for having stolen these moments from my destiny, so
brilliant, alas! I was happy in the happiness you supposed me to enjoy;
I made you happy in that dream, and I am only guilty in that I am now
about to destroy it, and to show myself as I was and am. Listen: I shall
not detain you long; the story of an impassioned heart is ever simple.
Once before, I remember, in my tent when I was wounded, my secret nearly
escaped me; it would have been happy, perhaps, had it done so. Yet what
would counsel have availed me? I should not have followed it. In a word,
‘tis Marie de Mantua whom I love.”

“How! she who is to be Queen of Poland?”

“If she is ever queen, it can only be after my death. But listen: for
her I became a courtier; for her I have almost reigned in France; for
her I am about to fall--perhaps to die.”

“Die! fall! when I have been reproaching your triumph! when I have wept
over the sadness of your victory!”

“Ah! you know me but ill, if you suppose that I shall be the dupe of
Fortune, when she smiles upon me; if you suppose that I have not
pierced to the bottom of my destiny! I struggle against it, but ‘tis the
stronger I feel it. I have undertaken a task beyond human power; and I
shall fail in it.”

“Why, then, not stop? What is the use of intellect in the business of
the world?”

“None; unless, indeed, it be to tell us the cause of our fall, and
to enable us to foresee the day on which we shall fall. I can not now
recede. When a man is confronted with such an enemy as Richelieu, he
must overcome him or be crushed by him. Tomorrow I shall strike the last
blow; did I not just now, in your presence, engage to do so?”

“And it is that very engagement that I would oppose. What confidence
have you in those to whom you thus abandon your life? Have you not read
their secret thoughts?”

“I know them all; I have read their hopes through their feigned rage;
I know that they tremble while they threaten. I know that even now they
are ready to make their peace by giving me up; but it is my part to
sustain them and to decide the King. I must do it, for Marie is my
betrothed, and my death is written at Narbonne. It is voluntarily, it is
with full knowledge of my fate, that I have thus placed myself between
the block and supreme happiness. That happiness I must tear from the
hands of Fortune, or die on that scaffold. At this instant I experience
the joy of having broken down all doubt. What! blush you not at having
thought me ambitious from a base egoism, like this Cardinal--ambitious
from a puerile desire for a power which is never satisfied? I am
ambitious, but it is because I love. Yes, I love; in that word all is
comprised. But I accuse you unjustly. You have embellished my secret
intentions; you have imparted to me noble designs (I remember them),
high political conceptions. They are brilliant, they are grand,
doubtless; but--shall I say it to you?--such vague projects for the
perfecting of corrupt societies seem to me to crawl far below the
devotion of love. When the whole soul vibrates with that one thought, it
has no room for the nice calculation of general interests; the topmost
heights of earth are far beneath heaven.”

De Thou shook his head.

“What can I answer?” he said. “I do not understand you; your reasoning
unreasons you. You hunt a shadow.”

“Nay,” continued Cinq-Mars; “far from destroying my strength, this
inward fire has developed it. I have calculated everything. Slow steps
have led me to the end which I am about to attain. Marie drew me by the
hand; could I retreat? I would not have done it though a world faced me.
Hitherto, all has gone well; but an invisible barrier arrests me. This
barrier must be broken; it is Richelieu. But now in your presence I
undertook to do this; but perhaps I was too hasty. I now think I was so.
Let him rejoice; he expected me. Doubtless he foresaw that it would
be the youngest whose patience would first fail. If he played on this
calculation, he played well. Yet but for the love that has urged me on,
I should have been stronger than he, and by just means.”

Then a sudden change came over the face of Cinq-Mars. He turned pale and
red twice; and the veins of his forehead rose like blue lines drawn by
an invisible hand.

“Yes,” he added, rising, and clasping together his hands with a force
which indicated the violent despair concentred in his heart, “all the
torments with which love can tear its victims I have felt in my breast.
This timid girl, for whom I would shake empires, for whom I have
suffered all, even the favor of a prince, who perhaps has not felt all I
have done for her, can not yet be mine. She is mine before God, yet I am
estranged from her; nay, I must hear daily discussed before me which of
the thrones of Europe will best suit her, in conversations wherein I may
not even raise my voice to give an opinion, and in which they scorn as
mate for her princes of the blood royal, who yet have precedence far
before me. I must conceal myself like a culprit to hear through a
grating the voice of her who is my wife; in public I must bow before
her--her husband, yet her servant! ‘Tis too much; I can not live thus. I
must take the last step, whether it elevate me or hurl me down.”

“And for your personal happiness you would overthrow a State?”

“The happiness of the State is one with mine. I secure that undoubtedly
in destroying the tyrant of the King. The horror with which this man
inspires me has passed into my very blood. When I was first on my way to
him, I encountered in my journey his greatest crime. He is the genius of
evil for the unhappy King! I will exorcise him. I might have become the
genius of good for Louis XIII. It was one of the thoughts of Marie, her
most cherished thought. But I do not think I shall triumph in the uneasy
soul of the Prince.”

“Upon what do you rely, then?” said De Thou.

“Upon the cast of a die. If his will can but once last for a few hours,
I have gained. ‘Tis a last calculation on which my destiny hangs.”

“And that of your Marie!”

“Could you suppose it?” said Cinq-Mars, impetuously. “No, no! If he
abandons me, I sign the treaty with Spain, and then-war!”

“Ah, horror!” exclaimed the counsellor. “What, a war! a civil war, and a
foreign alliance!”

“Ay, ‘tis a crime,” said Cinq-Mars, coldly; “but have I asked you to
participate in it?”

“Cruel, ungrateful man!” replied his friend; “can you speak to me thus?
Know you not, have I not proved to you, that friendship holds the
place of every passion in my heart? Can I survive the least of your
misfortunes, far less your death. Still, let me influence you not to
strike France. Oh, my friend! my only friend! I implore you on my knees,
let us not thus be parricides; let us not assassinate our country! I say
us, because I will never separate myself from your actions. Preserve to
me my self-esteem, for which I have labored so long; sully not my life
and my death, which are both yours.”

De Thou had fallen at the feet of his friend, who, unable to preserve
his affected coldness, threw himself into his arms, as he raised him,
and, pressing him to his heart, said in a stifled voice:

“Why love me thus? What have you done, friend? Why love me? You who
are wise, pure, and virtuous; you who are not led away by an insensate
passion and the desire for vengeance; you whose soul is nourished only
by religion and science--why love me? What has my friendship given you
but anxiety and pain? Must it now heap dangers on you? Separate yourself
from me; we are no longer of the same nature. You see courts have
corrupted me. I have no longer openness, no longer goodness. I meditate
the ruin of a man; I can deceive a friend. Forget me, scorn me. I am not
worthy of one of your thoughts; how should I be worthy of your perils?”

“By swearing to me not to betray the King and France,” answered De Thou.
“Know you that the preservation of your country is at stake; that if
you yield to Spain our fortifications, she will never return them to us;
that your name will be a byword with posterity; that French mothers will
curse it when they shall be forced to teach their children a foreign
language--know you all this? Come.”

And he drew him toward the bust of Louis XIII.

“Swear before him (he is your friend also), swear never to sign this
infamous treaty.”

Cinq-Mars lowered his eyes, but with dogged tenacity answered, although
blushing as he did so:

“I have said it; if they force me to it, I will sign.”

De Thou turned pale, and let fall his hand. He took two turns in his
room, his arms crossed, in inexpressible anguish. At last he advanced
solemnly toward the bust of his father, and opened a large book standing
at its foot; he turned to a page already marked, and read aloud:

“I think, therefore, that M. de Ligneboeuf was justly condemned to death
by the Parliament of Rouen, for not having revealed the conspiracy of
Catteville against the State.”

Then keeping the book respectfully opened in his hand, and contemplating
the image of the President de Thou, whose Memoirs he held, he continued:

“Yes, my father, you thought well.... I shall be a criminal, I shall
merit death; but can I do otherwise? I will not denounce this traitor,
because that also would be treason; and he is my friend, and he is
unhappy.”

Then, advancing toward Cinq-Mars, and again taking his hand, he said:

“I do much for you in acting thus; but expect nothing further from me,
Monsieur, if you sign this treaty.”

Cinq-Mars was moved to the heart’s core by this scene, for he felt all
that his friend must suffer in casting him off. Checking, however, the
tears which were rising to his smarting lids, and embracing De Thou
tenderly, he exclaimed:

“Ah, De Thou, I find you still perfect. Yes, you do me a service in
alienating yourself from me, for if your lot had been linked to mine, I
should not have dared to dispose of my life. I should have hesitated
to sacrifice it in case of need; but now I shall assuredly do so. And I
repeat to you, if they force me, I shall sign the treaty with Spain.”



CHAPTER XIX. THE HUNTING PARTY

Meanwhile the illness of Louis XIII threw France into the apprehension
which unsettled States ever feel on the approach of the death of
princes. Although Richelieu was the hub of the monarchy, he reigned only
in the name of Louis, though enveloped with the splendor of the name
which he had assumed. Absolute as he was over his master, Richelieu
still feared him; and this fear reassured the nation against his
ambitious desires, to which the King himself was the fixed barrier. But
this prince dead, what would the imperious minister do? Where would a
man stop who had already dared so much? Accustomed to wield the sceptre,
who would prevent him from still holding it, and from subscribing his
name alone to laws which he alone would dictate? These fears agitated
all minds. The people in vain looked throughout the kingdom for those
pillars of the nobility, at the feet of whom they had been wont to
find shelter in political storms. They now only saw their recent tombs.
Parliament was dumb; and men felt that nothing could be opposed to the
monstrous growth of the Cardinal’s usurping power. No one was entirely
deceived by the affected sufferings of the minister. None was touched
with that feigned agony which had too often deceived the public hope;
and distance nowhere prevented the weight of the dreaded ‘parvenu’ from
being felt.

The love of the people soon revived toward the son of Henri IV. They
hastened to the churches; they prayed, and even wept. Unfortunate
princes are always loved. The melancholy of Louis, and his mysterious
sorrow interested all France; still living, they already regretted
him, as if each man desired to be the depositary of his troubles ere
he carried away with him the grand mystery of what is suffered by men
placed so high that they can see nothing before them but their tomb.

The King, wishing to reassure the whole nation, announced the temporary
reestablishment of his health, and ordered the court to prepare for a
grand hunting party to be given at Chambord--a royal domain, whither his
brother, the Duc d’Orleans, prayed him to return.

This beautiful abode was the favorite retreat of Louis, doubtless
because, in harmony with his feelings, it combined grandeur with
sadness. He often passed whole months there, without seeing any one
whatsoever, incessantly reading and re-reading mysterious papers,
writing unknown documents, which he locked up in an iron coffer, of
which he alone had the key. He sometimes delighted in being served by
a single domestic, and thus so to forget himself by the absence of his
suite as to live for many days together like a poor man or an exiled
citizen, loving to figure to himself misery or persecution, in order the
better to enjoy royalty afterward. Another time he would be in a more
entire solitude; and having forbidden any human creature to approach
him, clothed in the habit of a monk, he would shut himself up in the
vaulted chapel. There, reading the life of Charles V, he would imagine
himself at St. Just, and chant over himself that mass for the dead which
brought death upon the head of the Spanish monarch.

But in the midst of these very chants and meditations his feeble mind
was pursued and distracted by contrary images. Never did life and the
world appear to him more fair than in such times of solitude among the
tombs. Between his eyes and the page which he endeavored to read passed
brilliant processions, victorious armies, or nations transported with
love. He saw himself powerful, combating, triumphant, adored; and if a
ray of the sun through the large windows fell upon him, suddenly rising
from the foot of the altar, he felt himself carried away by a thirst for
daylight and the open air, which led him from his gloomy retreat. But
returned to real life, he found there once more disgust and ennui, for
the first men he met recalled his power to his recollection by their
homage.

It was then that he believed in friendship, and summoned it to his
side; but scarcely was he certain of its possession than unconquerable
scruples suddenly seized upon his soul-scruples concerning a too
powerful attachment to the creature, turning him from the Creator, and
frequently inward reproaches for removing himself too much from the
affairs of the State. The object of his momentary affection then seemed
to him a despotic being, whose power drew him from his duties; but,
unfortunately for his favorites, he had not the strength of mind
outwardly to manifest toward them the resentment he felt, and thus to
warn them of their danger, but, continuing to caress them, he added by
this constraint fuel to the secret fire of his heart, and was impelled
to an absolute hatred of them. There were moments when he was capable of
taking any measures against them.

Cinq-Mars knew perfectly the weakness of that mind, which could not
keep firmly in any path, and the weakness of a heart which could neither
wholly love nor wholly hate. Thus, the position of favorite, the envy
of all France, the object of jealousy even on the part of the great
minister, was so precarious and so painful that, but for his love, he
would have burst his golden chains with greater joy than a galley-slave
feels when he sees the last ring that for two long years he has been
filing with a steel spring concealed in his mouth, fall to the earth.
This impatience to meet the fate he saw so near hastened the explosion
of that patiently prepared mine, as he had declared to his friend; but
his situation was that of a man who, placed by the side of the book
of life, should see hovering over it the hand which is to indite his
damnation or his salvation. He set out with Louis to Chambord, resolved
to take the first opportunity favorable to his design. It soon presented
itself.

The very morning of the day appointed for the chase, the King sent word
to him that he was waiting for him on the Escalier du Lys. It may not,
perhaps, be out of place to speak of this astonishing construction.

Four leagues from Blois, and one league from the Loire, in a small and
deep valley, between marshy swamps and a forest of large holm-oaks, far
from any highroad, the traveller suddenly comes upon a royal, nay, a
magic castle. It might be said that, compelled by some wonderful lamp, a
genie of the East had carried it off during one of the “thousand and one
nights,” and had brought it from the country of the sun to hide it
in the land of fogs and mist, for the dwelling of the mistress of a
handsome prince.

Hidden like a treasure; with its blue domes, its elegant minarets rising
from thick walls or shooting into the air, its long terraces overlooking
the wood, its light spires bending with the wind, its terraces
everywhere rising over its colonnades, one might there imagine one’s
self in the kingdom of Bagdad or of Cashmir, did not the blackened
walls, with their covering of moss and ivy, and the pallid and
melancholy hue of the sky, denote a rainy climate. It was indeed a
genius who raised this building; but he came from Italy, and his name
was Primaticcio. It was indeed a handsome prince whose amours were
concealed in it; but he was a king, and he bore the name of Francois I.
His salamander still spouts fire everywhere about it. It sparkles in
a thousand places on the arched roofs, and multiplies the flames there
like the stars of heaven; it supports the capitals with burning crowns;
it colors the windows with its fires; it meanders up and down the secret
staircases, and everywhere seems to devour with its flaming glances the
triple crescent of a mysterious Diane--that Diane de Poitiers, twice a
goddess and twice adored in these voluptuous woods.

The base of this strange monument is like the monument itself, full of
elegance and mystery; there is a double staircase, which rises in two
interwoven spirals from the most remote foundations of the edifice up to
the highest points, and ends in a lantern or small lattice-work cabinet,
surmounted by a colossal fleur-de-lys, visible from a great distance.
Two men may ascend it at the same moment, without seeing each other.

This staircase alone seems like a little isolated temple. Like our
churches, it is sustained and protected by the arcades of its thin,
light, transparent, openwork wings. One would think the docile stone
had given itself to the finger of the architect; it seems, so to speak,
kneaded according to the slightest caprice of his imagination. One can
hardly conceive how the plans were traced, in what terms the orders were
explained to the workmen. The whole thing appears a transient thought,
a brilliant revery that at once assumed a durable form---the realization
of a dream.

Cinq-Mars was slowly ascending the broad stairs which led him to the
King’s presence, and stopping longer at each step, in proportion as he
approached him, either from disgust at the idea of seeing the Prince
whose daily complaints he had to hear, or thinking of what he was about
to do, when the sound of a guitar struck his ear. He recognized the
beloved instrument of Louis and his sad, feeble, and trembling voice
faintly reechoing from the vaulted ceiling. Louis seemed trying one of
those romances which he was wont to compose, and several times repeated
an incomplete strain with a trembling hand. The words could scarcely
be distinguished; all that Cinq-Mars heard were a few such as ‘Abandon,
ennui de monde, et belle flamme.

The young favorite shrugged his shoulders as he listened.

“What new chagrin moves thee?” he said. “Come, let me again attempt to
read that chilled heart which thinks it needs something.”

He entered the narrow cabinet.

Clothed in black, half reclining on a couch, his elbows resting upon
pillows, the Prince was languidly touching the chords of his guitar; he
ceased this when he saw the grand ecuyer enter, and, raising his large
eyes to him with an air of reproach, swayed his head to and fro for a
long time without speaking. Then in a plaintive but emphatic tone, he
said:

“What do I hear, Cinq-Mars? What do I hear of your conduct? How much
you do pain me by forgetting all my counsels! You have formed a guilty
intrigue; was it from you I was to expect such things--you whom I so
loved for your piety and virtue?”

Full of his political projects, Cinq-Mars thought himself discovered,
and could not help a momentary anxiety; but, perfectly master of
himself, he answered without hesitation:

“Yes, Sire; and I was about to declare it to you, for I am accustomed to
open my soul to you.”

“Declare it to me!” exclaimed the King, turning red and white, as under
the shivering of a fever; “and you dare to contaminate my ears with
these horrible avowals, Monsieur, and to speak so calmly of your
disorder! Go! you deserve to be condemned to the galley, like Rondin;
it is a crime of high treason you have committed in your want of faith
toward me. I had rather you were a coiner, like the Marquis de Coucy,
or at the head of the Croquants, than do as you have done; you dishonor
your family, and the memory of the marechal your father.”

Cinq-Mars, deeming himself wholly lost, put the best face he could upon
the matter, and said with an air of resignation:

“Well, then, Sire, send me to be judged and put to death; but spare me
your reproaches.”

“Do you insult me, you petty country-squire?” answered Louis. “I know
very well that you have not incurred the penalty of death in the eyes
of men; but it is at the tribunal of God, Monsieur, that you will be
judged.”

“Heavens, Sire!” replied the impetuous young man, whom the insulting
phrase of the King had offended, “why do you not allow me to return
to the province you so much despise, as I have sought to do a hundred
times? I will go there. I can not support the life I lead with you; an
angel could not bear it. Once more, let me be judged if I am guilty,
or allow me to return to Touraine. It is you who have ruined me in
attaching me to your person. If you have caused me to conceive lofty
hopes, which you afterward overthrew, is that my fault? Wherefore have
you made me grand ecuyer, if I was not to rise higher? In a word, am I
your friend or not? and, if I am, why may I not be duke, peer, or even
constable, as well as Monsieur de Luynes, whom you loved so much because
he trained falcons for you? Why am I not admitted to the council? I
could speak as well as any of the old ruffs there; I have new ideas,
and a better arm to serve you. It is your Cardinal who has prevented you
from summoning me there. And it is because he keeps you from me that I
detest him,” continued Cinq-Mars, clinching his fist, as if Richelieu
stood before him; “yes, I would kill him with my own hand, if need
were.”

D’Effiat’s eyes were inflamed with anger; he stamped his foot as he
spoke, and turned his back to the King, like a sulky child, leaning
against one of the columns of the cupola.

Louis, who recoiled before all resolution, and who was always terrified
by the irreparable, took his hand.

O weakness of power! O caprices of the human heart! it was by this
childish impetuosity, these very defects of his age, that this young man
governed the King of France as effectually as did the first politician
of the time. This Prince believed, and with some show of reason, that
a character so hasty must be sincere; and even his fiery rage did not
anger him. It did not apply to the real subject of his reproaches, and
he could well pardon him for hating the Cardinal. The very idea of his
favorite’s jealousy of the minister pleased him, because it indicated
attachment; and all he dreaded was his indifference. Cinq-Mars knew
this, and had desired to make it a means of escape, preparing the King
to regard all that he had done as child’s play, as the consequence of
his friendship for him; but the danger was not so great, and he breathed
freely when the Prince said to him:

“The Cardinal is not in question here. I love him no more than you do;
but it is with your scandalous conduct I reproach you, and which I shall
have much difficulty to pardon in you. What, Monsieur! I learn that
instead of devoting yourself to the pious exercises to which I have
accustomed you, when I fancy you are at your Salut or your Angelus--you
are off from Saint Germain, and go to pass a portion of the night--with
whom? Dare I speak of it without sin? With a woman lost in reputation,
who can have no relations with you but such as are pernicious to the
safety of your soul, and who receives free-thinkers at her house--in a
word, Marion de Lorme. What have you to say? Speak.”

Leaving his hand in that of the King, but still leaning against the
column, Cinq-Mars answered:

“Is it then so culpable to leave grave occupations for others more
serious still? If I go to the house of Marion de Lorme, it is to hear
the conversation of the learned men who assemble there. Nothing is more
harmless than these meetings. Readings are given there which, it is
true, sometimes extend far into the night, but which commonly tend
to exalt the soul, so far from corrupting it. Besides, you have never
commanded me to account to you for all that I do; I should have informed
you of this long ago if you had desired it.”

“Ah, Cinq-Mars, Cinq-Mars! where is your confidence? Do you feel no need
of it? It is the first condition of a perfect friendship, such as ours
ought to be, such as my heart requires.”

The voice of Louis became more affectionate, and the favorite, looking
at him over his shoulder, assumed an air less angry, but still simply
ennuye, and resigned to listening to him.

“How often have you deceived me!” continued the King; “can I trust
myself to you? Are they not fops and gallants whom you meet at the house
of this woman? Do not courtesans go there?”

“Heavens! no, Sire; I often go there with one of my friends--a gentleman
of Touraine, named Rene Descartes.”

“Descartes! I know that name! Yes, he is an officer who distinguished
himself at the siege of Rochelle, and who dabbles in writing; he has a
good reputation for piety, but he is connected with Desbarreaux, who is
a free-thinker. I am sure that you must mix with many persons who are
not fit company for you, many young men without family, without birth.
Come, tell me whom saw you last there?”

“Truly, I can scarcely remember their names,” said Cinq-Mars, looking at
the ceiling; “sometimes I do not even ask them. There was, in the first
place, a certain Monsieur--Monsieur Groot, or Grotius, a Hollander.”

“I know him, a friend of Barnevelt; I pay him a pension. I liked him
well enough; but the Card--but I was told that he was a high Calvinist.”

“I also saw an Englishman, named John Milton; he is a young man just
come from Italy, and is returning to London. He scarcely speaks at all.”

“I don’t know him--not at all; but I’m sure he’s some other Calvinist.
And the Frenchmen, who were they?”

“The young man who wrote Cinna, and who has been thrice rejected at the
Academie Francaise; he was angry that Du Royer occupied his place there.
He is called Corneille.”

“Well,” said the King, folding his arms, and looking at him with an air
of triumph and reproach, “I ask you who are these people? Is it in such
a circle that you ought to be seen?”

Cinq-Mars was confounded at this observation, which hurt his self-pride,
and, approaching the King, he said:

“You are right, Sire; but there can be no harm in passing an hour or
two in listening to good conversation. Besides, many courtiers go there,
such as the Duc de Bouillon, Monsieur d’Aubijoux, the Comte de Brion,
the Cardinal de la Vallette, Messieurs de Montresor, Fontrailles; men
illustrious in the sciences, as Mairet, Colletet, Desmarets, author
of Araine; Faret, Doujat, Charpentier, who wrote the Cyropedie; Giry,
Besons, and Baro, the continuer of Astree--all academicians.”

“Ah! now, indeed, here are men of real merit,” said Louis; “there
is nothing to be said against them. One can not but gain from their
society. Theirs are settled reputations; they’re men of weight. Come,
let us make up; shake hands, child. I permit you to go there sometimes,
but do not deceive me any more; you see I know all. Look at this.”

So saying, the King took from a great iron chest set against the wall
enormous packets of paper scribbled over with very fine writing. Upon
one was written, Baradas, upon another, D’Hautefort, upon a third,
La Fayette, and finally, Cinq-Mars. He stopped at the latter, and
continued:

“See how many times you have deceived me! These are the continual faults
of which I have myself kept a register during the two years I have known
you; I have written out our conversations day by day. Sit down.”

Cinq-Mars obeyed with a sigh, and had the patience for two long hours
to listen to a summary of what his master had had the patience to write
during the course of two years. He yawned many times during the reading,
as no doubt we should all do, were it needful to report this dialogue,
which was found in perfect order, with his will, at the death of the
King. We shall only say that he finished thus:

“In fine, hear what you did on the seventh of December, three days ago.
I was speaking to you of the flight of the hawk, and of the knowledge of
hunting, in which you are deficient. I said to you, on the authority of
La Chasse Royale, a work of King Charles IX, that after the hunter has
accustomed his dog to follow a beast, he must consider him as of himself
desirous of returning to the wood, and the dog must not be rebuked or
struck in order to make him follow the track well; and that in order to
teach a dog to set well, creatures that are not game must not be allowed
to pass or run, nor must any scents be missed, without putting his nose
to them.

“Hear what you replied to me (and in a tone of ill-humor--mind that!)
‘Ma foi! Sire, give me rather regiments to conduct than birds and dogs.
I am sure that people would laugh at you and me if they knew how we
occupy ourselves.’ And on the eighth--wait, yes, on the eighth--while
we were singing vespers together in my chambers, you threw your book
angrily into the fire, which was an impiety; and afterward you told
me that you had let it drop--a sin, a mortal sin. See, I have written
below, lie, underlined. People never deceive me, I assure you.”

“But, Sire--”

“Wait a moment! wait a moment! In the evening you told me the Cardinal
had burned a man unjustly, and out of personal hatred.”

“And I repeat it, and maintain it, and will prove it, Sire. It is the
greatest crime of all of that man whom you hesitate to disgrace, and
who renders you unhappy. I myself saw all, heard, all, at Loudun. Urbain
Grandier was assassinated, rather than tried. Hold, Sire, since you have
there all those memoranda in your own hand, merely reperuse the proofs
which I then gave you of it.”

Louis, seeking the page indicated, and going back to the journey from
Perpignan to Paris, read the whole narrative with attention, exclaiming:

“What horrors! How is it that I have forgotten all this? This man
fascinates me; that’s certain. You are my true friend, Cinq-Mars.
What horrors! My reign will be stained by them. What! he prevented the
letters of all the nobility and notables of the district from reaching
me! Burn, burn alive! without proofs! for revenge! A man, a people have
invoked my name in vain; a family curses me! Oh, how unhappy are kings!”

And the Prince, as he concluded, threw aside his papers and wept.

“Ah, Sire, those are blessed tears that you weep!” exclaimed Cinq-Mars,
with sincere admiration. “Would that all France were here with me! She
would be astonished at this spectacle, and would scarcely believe it.”

“Astonished! France, then, does not know me?”

“No, Sire,” said D’Effiat, frankly; “no one knows you. And I myself,
with the rest of the world, at times accuse you of coldness and
indifference.”

“Of coldness, when I am dying with sorrow! Of coldness, when I
have immolated myself to their interests! Ungrateful nation! I have
sacrificed all to it, even pride, even the happiness of guiding it
myself, because I feared on its account for my fluctuating life. I have
given my sceptre to be borne by a man I hate, because I believed his
hand to be stronger than my own. I have endured the ill he has done to
myself, thinking that he did good to my people. I have hidden my own
tears to dry theirs; and I see that my sacrifice has been even greater
than I thought it, for they have not perceived it. They have believed me
incapable because I was kind, and without power because I mistrusted my
own. But, no matter! God sees and knows me!”

“Ah, Sire, show yourself to France such as you are; reassume your
usurped power. France will do for your love what she would never do from
fear. Return to life, and reascend the throne.”

“No, no; my life is well-nigh finished, my dear friend. I am no longer
capable of the labor of supreme command.’”

“Ah, Sire, this persuasion alone destroys your vigor. It is time that
men should cease to confound power with crime, and call this union
genius. Let your voice be heard proclaiming to the world that the reign
of virtue is about to begin with your own; and hence forth those enemies
whom vice has so much difficulty in suppressing will fall before a word
uttered from your heart. No one has as yet calculated all that the good
faith of a king of France may do for his people--that people who are
drawn so instantaneously to ward all that is good and beautiful, by
their imagination and warmth of soul, and who are always ready with
every kind of devotion. The King, your father, led us with a smile. What
would not one of your tears do?”

During this address the King, very much surprised, frequently reddened,
hemmed, and gave signs of great embarrassment, as always happened
when any attempt was made to bring him to a decision. He also felt the
approach of a conversation of too high an order, which the timidity of
his soul forbade him to venture upon; and repeatedly putting his hand
to his chest, knitting his brows as if suffering violent pain, he
endeavored to relieve himself by the apparent attack of illness from
the embarrassment of answering. But, either from passion, or from a
resolution to strike the crowning blow, Cinq-Mars went on calmly
and with a solemnity that awed Louis, who, forced into his last
intrenchments, at length said:

“But, Cinq-Mars, how can I rid myself of a minister who for eighteen
years past has surrounded me with his creatures?”

“He is not so very powerful,” replied the grand ecuyer; “and his friends
will be his most sure enemies if you but make a sign of your head. The
ancient league of the princes of peace still exists, Sire, and it is
only the respect due to the choice of your Majesty that prevents it from
manifesting itself.”

“Ah, mon Dieu! thou mayst tell them not to stop on my account. I would
not restrain them; they surely do not accuse me of being a Cardinalist.
If my brother will give me the means of replacing Richelieu, I will
adopt them with all my heart.”

“I believe, Sire, that he will to-day speak to you of Monsieur le Duc de
Bouillon. All the Royalists demand him.”

“I don’t dislike him,” said the King, arranging his pillows; “I don’t
dislike him at all, although he is somewhat factious. We are relatives.
Knowest thou, chez ami”--and he placed on this favorite expression more
emphasis than usual--“knowest thou that he is descended in direct
line from Saint Louis, by Charlotte de Bourbon, daughter of the Duc de
Montpensier? Knowest thou that seven princes of the blood royal have
been united to his house; and eight daughters of his family, one of
whom was a queen, have been married to princes of the blood royal? Oh, I
don’t at all dislike him! I have never said so, never!”

“Well, Sire,” said Cinq-Mars, with confidence, “Monsieur and he will
explain to you during the hunt how all is prepared, who are the men that
may be put in the place of his creatures, who the field-marshals and the
colonels who may be depended upon against Fabert and the Cardinalists of
Perpignan. You will see that the minister has very few for him.

“The Queen, Monsieur, the nobility, and the parliaments are on our side;
and the thing is done from the moment that your Majesty is not opposed
to it. It has been proposed to get rid of the Cardinal as the Marechal
d’Ancre was got rid of, who deserved it less than he.”

“As Concini?” said the King. “Oh, no, it must not be. I positively
can not consent to it. He is a priest and a cardinal. We shall be
excommunicated. But if there be any other means, I am very willing. Thou
mayest speak of it to thy friends; and I on my side will think of the
matter.”

The word once spoken, the King gave himself up to his resentment, as if
he had satisfied it, as if the blow were already struck. Cinq-Mars was
vexed to see this, for he feared that his anger thus vented might not
be of long duration. However, he put faith in his last words, especially
when, after numberless complaints, Louis added:

“And would you believe that though now for two years I have mourned my
mother, ever since that day when he so cruelly mocked me before my whole
court by asking for her recall when he knew she was dead--ever since
that day I have been trying in vain to get them to bury her in France
with my fathers? He has exiled even her ashes.”

At this moment Cinq-Mars thought he heard a sound on the staircase; the
King reddened.

“Go,” he said; “go! Make haste and prepare for the hunt! Thou wilt ride
next to my carriage. Go quickly! I desire it; go!”

And he himself pushed Cinq-Mars toward the entrance by which he had
come.

The favorite went out; but his master’s anxiety had not escaped him.

He slowly descended, and tried to divine the cause of it in his
mind, when he thought he heard the sound of feet ascending the other
staircase. He stopped; they stopped. He re-ascended; they seemed to him
to descend. He knew that nothing could be seen between the interstices
of the architecture; and he quitted the place, impatient and very
uneasy, and determined to remain at the door of the entrance to see who
should come out. But he had scarcely raised the tapestry which veiled
the entrance to the guardroom than he was surrounded by a crowd of
courtiers who had been awaiting him, and was fain to proceed to the work
of issuing the orders connected with his post, or to receive respects,
communications, solicitations, presentations, recommendations,
embraces--to observe that infinitude of relations which surround a
favorite, and which require constant and sustained attention, for any
absence of mind might cause great misfortunes. He thus almost forgot the
trifling circumstance which had made him uneasy, and which he thought
might after all have only been a freak of the imagination. Giving
himself up to the sweets of a kind of continual apotheosis, he
mounted his horse in the great courtyard, attended by noble pages, and
surrounded by brilliant gentlemen.

Monsieur soon arrived, followed by his people; and in an hour the King
appeared, pale, languishing, and supported by four men. Cinq-Mars,
dismounting, assisted him into a kind of small and very low carriage,
called a brouette, and the horses of which, very docile and quiet ones,
the King himself drove. The prickers on foot at the doors held the dogs
in leash; and at the sound of the horn scores of young nobles mounted,
and all set out to the place of meeting.

It was a farm called L’Ormage that the King had fixed upon; and the
court, accustomed to his ways, followed the many roads of the park,
while the King slowly followed an isolated path, having at his side the
grand ecuyer and four persons whom he had signed to approach him.

The aspect of this pleasure party was sinister. The approach of winter
had stripped well-nigh all the leaves from the great oaks in the park,
whose dark branches now stood up against a gray sky, like branches of
funereal candelabra. A light fog seemed to indicate rain; through the
melancholy boughs of the thinned wood the heavy carriages of the court
were seen slowly passing on, filled with women, uniformly dressed in
black, and obliged to await the result of a chase which they did not
witness. The distant hounds gave tongue, and the horn was sometimes
faintly heard like a sigh. A cold, cutting wind compelled every man to
don cloaks, and some of the women, putting over their faces a veil or
mask of black velvet to keep themselves from the air which the curtains
of their carriages did not intercept (for there were no glasses at that
time), seemed to wear what is called a domino. All was languishing and
sad. The only relief was that ever and anon groups of young men in the
excitement of the chase flew down the avenue like the wind, cheering on
the dogs or sounding their horns. Then all again became silent, as after
the discharge of fireworks the sky appears darker than before.

In a path, parallel with that followed by the King, were several
courtiers enveloped in their cloaks. Appearing little intent upon the
stag, they rode step for step with the King’s brouette, and never lost
sight of him. They conversed in low tones.

“Excellent! Fontrailles, excellent! victory! The King takes his arm
every moment. See how he smiles upon him! See! Monsieur le Grand
dismounts and gets into the brouette by his side. Come, come, the old
fox is done at last!”

“Ah, that’s nothing! Did you not see how the King shook hands with
Monsieur? He’s made a sign to you, Montresor. Look, Gondi!”

“Look, indeed! That’s very easy to say; but I don’t see with my own
eyes. I have only those of faith, and yours. Well, what are they doing
now? I wish to Heaven I were not so near-sighted! Tell me, what are they
doing?”

Montresor answered, “The King bends his ear toward the Duc de Bouillon,
who is speaking to him; he speaks again! he gesticulates! he does not
cease! Oh, he’ll be minister!”

“He will be minister!” said Fontrailles.

“He will be minister!” echoed the Comte du Lude.

“Oh, no doubt of it!” said Montresor.

“I hope he’ll give me a regiment, and I’ll marry my cousin,” cried
Olivier d’Entraigues, with boyish vivacity.

The Abbe de Gondi sneered, and, looking up at the sky, began to sing to
a hunting tune.

       “Les etourneaux ont le vent bon,
        Ton ton, ton ton, ton taine, ton ton--”

“I think, gentlemen, you are more short-sighted than I, or else miracles
will come to pass in the year of grace 1642; for Monsieur de Bouillon is
no nearer being Prime-Minister, though the King do embrace him, than I.
He has good qualities, but he will not do; his qualities are not various
enough. However, I have much respect for his great and singularly
foolish town of Sedan, which is a fine shelter in case of need.”

Montresor and the rest were too attentive to every gesture of the Prince
to answer him; and they continued:

“See, Monsieur le Grand takes the reins, and is driving.”

The Abbe replied with the same air:

       “Si vous conduisez ma brouette,
        Ne versez pas, beau postillon,
        Ton ton, ton ton, ton taine, ton ton.”

“Ah, Abbe, your songs will drive me mad!” said Fontrailles. “You’ve got
airs ready for every event in life.”

“I will also find you events which shall go to all the airs,” answered
Gondi.

“Faith, the air of these pleases me!” said Fontrailles, in an under
voice. “I shall not be obliged by Monsieur to carry his confounded
treaty to Madrid, and I am not sorry for it; it is a somewhat touchy
commission. The Pyrenees are not so easily passed as may be supposed;
the Cardinal is on the road.”

“Ha! Ha!” cried Montresor.

“Ha! Ha!” said Olivier.

“Well, what is the matter with you? ah, ah!” asked Gondi. “What have you
discovered that is so great?”

“Why, the King has again shaken hands with Monsieur. Thank Heaven,
gentlemen, we’re rid of the Cardinal! The old boar is hunted down. Who
will stick the knife into him? He must be thrown into the sea.”

“That’s too good for him,” said Olivier; “he must be tried.”

“Certainly,” said the Abbe; “and we sha’n’t want for charges against
an insolent fellow who has dared to discharge a page, shall we?” Then,
curbing his horse, and letting Olivier and Montresor pass on, he leaned
toward M. du Lude, who was talking with two other serious personages,
and said:

“In truth, I am tempted to let my valet-de-chambre into the secret;
never was a conspiracy treated so lightly. Great enterprises require
mystery. This would be an admirable one if some trouble were taken with
it. ‘Tis in itself a finer one than I have ever read of in history.
There is stuff enough in it to upset three kingdoms, if necessary, and
the blockheads will spoil all. It is really a pity. I should be very
sorry. I’ve a taste for affairs of this kind; and in this one in
particular I feel a special interest. There is grandeur about it, as can
not be denied. Do you not think so, D’Aubijoux, Montmort?”

While he was speaking, several large and heavy carriages, with six and
four horses, followed the same path at two hundred paces behind these
gentlemen; the curtains were open on the left side through which to see
the King. In the first was the Queen; she was alone at the back, clothed
in black and veiled. On the box was the Marechale d’Effiat; and at
the feet of the Queen was the Princesse Marie. Seated on one side on
a stool, her robe and her feet hung out of the carriage, and were
supported by a gilt step--for, as we have already observed, there were
then no doors to the coaches. She also tried to see through the trees
the movements of the King, and often leaned back, annoyed by the passing
of the Prince-Palatine and his suite.

This northern Prince was sent by the King of Poland, apparently on a
political negotiation, but in reality, to induce the Duchesse de Mantua
to espouse the old King Uladislas VI; and he displayed at the court of
France all the luxury of his own, then called at Paris “barbarian and
Scythian,” and so far justified these names by strange eastern costumes.
The Palatine of Posnania was very handsome, and wore, in common with the
people of his suite, a long, thick beard. His head, shaved like that
of a Turk, was covered with a furred cap. He had a short vest, enriched
with diamonds and rubies; his horse was painted red, and amply plumed.
He was attended by a company of Polish guards in red and yellow
uniforms, wearing large cloaks with long sleeves, which hung negligently
from the shoulder. The Polish lords who escorted him were dressed in
gold and silver brocade; and behind their shaved heads floated a single
lock of hair, which gave them an Asiatic and Tartar aspect, as unknown
at the court of Louis XIII as that of the Moscovites. The women thought
all this rather savage and alarming.

Marie de Mantua was importuned with the profound salutations and
Oriental elegancies of this foreigner and his suite. Whenever he passed
before her, he thought himself called upon to address a compliment to
her in broken French, awkwardly made up of a few words about hope
and royalty. She found no other means to rid herself of him than by
repeatedly putting her handkerchief to her nose, and saying aloud to the
Queen:

“In truth, Madame, these gentlemen have an odor about them that makes
one quite ill.”

“It will be desirable to strengthen your nerves and accustom yourself to
it,” answered Anne of Austria, somewhat dryly.

Then, fearing she had hurt her feelings, she continued gayly:

“You will become used to them, as we have done; and you know that in
respect to odors I am rather fastidious. Monsieur Mazarin told me, the
other day, that my punishment in purgatory will consist in breathing ill
scents and sleeping in Russian cloth.”

Yet the Queen was very grave, and soon subsided into silence. Burying
herself in her carriage, enveloped in her mantle, and apparently taking
no interest in what was passing around her, she yielded to the motion of
the carriage. Marie, still occupied with the King, talked in a low voice
with the Marechale d’Effiat; each sought to give the other hopes which
neither felt, and sought to deceive each other out of love.

“Madame, I congratulate you; Monsieur le Grand is seated with the King.
Never has he been so highly distinguished,” said Marie.

Then she was silent for a long time, and the carriage rolled mournfully
over the dead, dry leaves.

“Yes, I see it with joy; the King is so good!” answered the Marechale.

And she sighed deeply.

A long and sad silence again followed; each looked at the other and
mutually found their eyes full of tears. They dared not speak again;
and Marie, drooping her head, saw nothing but the brown, damp earth
scattered by the wheels. A melancholy revery occupied her mind; and
although she had before her the spectacle of the first court of Europe
at the feet of him she loved, everything inspired her with fear, and
dark presentiments involuntarily agitated her.

Suddenly a horse passed by her like the wind; she raised her eyes, and
had just time to see the features of Cinq-Mars. He did not look at her;
he was pale as a corpse, and his eyes were hidden under his knitted
brows and the shadows of his lowered hat. She followed him with
trembling eyes; she saw him stop in the midst of the group of cavaliers
who preceded the carriages, and who received him with their hats off.

A moment after he went into the wood with one of them, looking at her
from the distance, and following her with his eyes until the carriage
had passed; then he seemed to give the man a roll of papers, and
disappeared. The mist which was falling prevented her from seeing him
any more. It was, indeed, one of those fogs so frequent on the banks of
the Loire.

The sun looked at first like a small blood-red moon, enveloped in a
tattered shroud, and within half an hour was concealed under so thick a
cloud that Marie could scarcely distinguish the foremost horses of the
carriage, while the men who passed at the distance of a few paces looked
like grizzly shadows. This icy vapor turned to a penetrating rain and
at the same time a cloud of fetid odor. The Queen made the beautiful
Princess sit beside her; and they turned toward Chambord quickly and in
silence. They soon heard the horns recalling the scattered hounds; the
huntsmen passed rapidly by the carriage, seeking their way through the
fog, and calling to each other. Marie saw only now and then the head of
a horse, or a dark body half issuing from the gloomy vapor of the woods,
and tried in vain to distinguish any words. At length her heart beat;
there was a call for M. de Cinq-Mars.

“The King asks for Monsieur le Grand,” was repeated about; “where can
Monsieur le Grand Ecuyer be gone to?”

A voice, passing near, said, “He has just lost himself.”

These simple words made her shudder, for her afflicted spirit gave
them the most sinister meaning. The terrible thought pursued her to the
chateau and into her apartments, wherein she hastened to shut herself.
She soon heard the noise of the entry of the King and of Monsieur, then,
in the forest, some shots whose flash was unseen. She in vain looked
at the narrow windows; they seemed covered on the outside with a white
cloth that shut out the light.

Meanwhile, at the extremity of the forest, toward Montfrault, there
had lost themselves two cavaliers, wearied with seeking the way to the
chateau in the monotonous similarity of the trees and paths; they were
about to stop near a pond, when eight or nine men, springing from the
thickets, rushed upon them, and before they had time to draw, hung to
their legs and arms and to the bridles of their horses in such a manner
as to hold them fixed. At the same time a hoarse voice cried in the fog:

“Are you Royalists or Cardinalists? Cry, ‘Vive le Grand!’ or you are
dead men!”

“Scoundrels,” answered the first cavalier, trying to open the holsters
of his pistols, “I will have you hanged for abusing my name.”

“Dios es el Senor!” cried the same voice.

All the men immediately released their hold, and ran into the wood; a
burst of savage laughter was heard, and a man approached Cinq-Mars.

“Amigo, do you not recognize me? ‘Tis but a joke of Jacques, the Spanish
captain.”

Fontrailles approached, and said in a low voice to the grand ecuyer:

“Monsieur, this is an enterprising fellow; I would advise you to employ
him. We must neglect no chance.”

“Listen to me,” said Jacques de Laubardemont, “and answer at once. I am
not a phrase-maker, like my father. I bear in mind that you have done me
some good offices; and lately again, you have been useful to me, as you
always are, without knowing it, for I have somewhat repaired my fortune
in your little insurrections. If you will, I can render you an important
service; I command a few brave men.”

“What service?” asked Cinq-Mars. “We will see.”

“I commence by a piece of information. This morning while you descended
the King’s staircase on one side, Father Joseph ascended the other.”

“Ha! this, then, is the secret of his sudden and inexplicable change!
Can it be? A king of France! and to allow us to confide all our secrets
to him.”

“Well! is that all? Do you say nothing? You know I have an old account
to settle with the Capuchin.”

“What’s that to me?” and he hung down his head, absorbed in a profound
revery.

“It matters a great deal to you, since you have only to speak the word,
and I will rid you of him before thirty-six hours from this time, though
he is now very near Paris. We might even add the Cardinal, if you wish.”

“Leave me; I will use no poniards,” said Cinq-Mars.

“Ah! I understand you,” replied Jacques. “You are right; you would
prefer our despatching him with the sword. This is just. He is worth
it; ‘tis a distinction due to him. It were undoubtedly more suitable for
great lords to take charge of the Cardinal; and that he who despatches
his Eminence should be in a fair way to be a marechal. For myself, I
am not proud; one must not be proud, whatever one’s merit in one’s
profession. I must not touch the Cardinal; he’s a morsel for a king!”

“Nor any others,” said the grand ecuyer.

“Oh, let us have the Capuchin!” said Captain Jacques, urgently.

“You are wrong if you refuse this office,” said Fontrailles; “such
things occur every day. Vitry began with Concini; and he was made a
marechal. You see men extremely well at court who have killed their
enemies with their own hands in the streets of Paris, and you hesitate
to rid yourself of a villain! Richelieu has his agents; you must have
yours. I can not understand your scruples.”

“Do not torment him,” said Jacques, abruptly; “I understand it. I
thought as he does when I was a boy, before reason came. I would not
have killed even a monk; but let me speak to him.” Then, turning toward
Cinq-Mars, “Listen: when men conspire, they seek the death or at least
the downfall of some one, eh?”

And he paused.

“Now in that case, we are out with God, and in with the Devil, eh?”

“Secundo, as they say at the Sorbonne; it’s no worse when one is damned,
to be so for much than for little, eh?”

“Ergo, it is indifferent whether a thousand or one be killed. I defy you
to answer that.”

“Nothing could be better argued, Doctor-dagger,” said Fontrailles,
half-laughing, “I see you will be a good travelling-companion. You shall
go with me to Spain if you like.”

“I know you are going to take the treaty there,” answered Jacques; “and
I will guide you through the Pyrenees by roads unknown to man. But I
shall be horribly vexed to go away without having wrung the neck of that
old he-goat, whom we leave behind, like a knight in the midst of a
game of chess. Once more Monsieur,” he continued with an air of pious
earnestness, “if you have any religion in you, refuse no longer;
recollect the words of our theological fathers, Hurtado de Mendoza and
Sanchez, who have proved that a man may secretly kill his enemies, since
by this means he avoids two sins--that of exposing his life, and that
of fighting a duel. It is in accordance with this grand consolatory
principle that I have always acted.”

“Go, go!” said Cinq-Mars, in a voice thick with rage; “I have other
things to think of.”

“Of what more important?” said Fontrailles; “this might be a great
weight in the balance of our destinies.”

“I am thinking how much the heart of a king weighs in it,” said
Cinq-Mars.

“You terrify me,” replied the gentleman; “we can not go so far as that!”

“Nor do I think what you suppose, Monsieur,” continued D’Effiat, in a
severe tone. “I was merely reflecting how kings complain when a subject
betrays them. Well, war! war! civil war, foreign war, let your fires be
kindled! since I hold the match, I will apply it to the mine. Perish
the State! perish twenty kingdoms, if necessary! No ordinary calamities
suffice when the King betrays the subject. Listen to me.”

And he took Fontrailles a few steps aside.

“I only charged you to prepare our retreat and succors, in case of
abandonment on the part of the King. Just now I foresaw this abandonment
in his forced manifestation of friendship; and I decided upon your
setting out when he finished his conversation by announcing his
departure for Perpignan. I feared Narbonne; I now see that he is going
there to deliver himself up a prisoner to the Cardinal. Go at once. I
add to the letters I have given you the treaty here; it is in fictitious
names, but here is the counterpart, signed by Monsieur, by the Duc de
Bouillon, and by me. The Count-Duke of Olivares desires nothing further.
There are blanks for the Duc d’Orleans, which you will fill up as you
please. Go; in a month I shall expect you at Perpignan. I will have
Sedan opened to the seventeen thousand Spaniards from Flanders.”

Then, advancing toward the adventurer, who awaited him, he said:

“For you, brave fellow, since you desire to aid me, I charge you with
escorting this gentleman to Madrid; you will be largely recompensed.”

Jacques, twisting his moustache, replied:

“Ah, you do not then scorn to employ me! you exhibit your judgment and
taste. Do you know that the great Queen Christina of Sweden has asked
for me, and wished to have me with her as her confidential man. She
was brought up to the sound of the cannon by the ‘Lion of the North,’
Gustavus Adolphus, her father. She loves the smell of powder and brave
men; but I would not serve her, because she is a Huguenot, and I have
fixed principles, from which I never swerve. ‘Par exemple’, I swear
to you by Saint Jacques to guide Monsieur through the passes of the
Pyrenees to Oleron as surely as through these woods, and to defend him
against the Devil, if need be, as well as your papers, which we will
bring you back without blot or tear. As for recompense, I want none. I
always find it in the action itself. Besides, I do not receive money,
for I am a gentleman. The Laubardemonts are a very ancient and very good
family.”

“Adieu, then, noble Monsieur,” said Cinq-Mars; “go!”

After having pressed the hand of Fontrailles, he sighed and disappeared
in the wood, on his return to the chateau of Chambord.



CHAPTER XX. THE READING

Shortly after the events just narrated, at the corner of the
Palais-Royal, at a small and pretty house, numerous carriages were seen
to draw up, and a door, reached by three steps, frequently to open. The
neighbors often came to their windows to complain of the noise made
at so late an hour of the night, despite the fear of robbers; and the
patrol often stopped in surprise, and passed on only when they saw at
each carriage ten or twelve footmen, armed with staves and carrying
torches. A young gentleman, followed by three lackeys, entered and asked
for Mademoiselle de Lorme. He wore a long rapier, ornamented with pink
ribbon. Enormous bows of the same color on his high-heeled shoes almost
entirely concealed his feet, which after the fashion of the day he
turned very much out. He frequently twisted a small curling moustache,
and before entering combed his small pointed beard. There was but one
exclamation when he was announced.

“Here he is at last!” cried a young and rich voice. “He has made us
wait long enough for him, the dear Desbarreaux. Come, take a seat! place
yourself at this table and read.”

The speaker was a woman of about four-and-twenty, tall and handsome,
notwithstanding her somewhat woolly black hair and her dark olive
complexion. There was something masculine in her manner, which she
seemed to derive from her circle, composed entirely of men. She took
their arm unceremoniously, as she spoke to them, with a freedom which
she communicated to them. Her conversation was animated rather than
joyous. It often excited laughter around her; but it was by dint of
intellect that she created gayety (if we may so express it), for her
countenance, impassioned as it was, seemed incapable of bending into a
smile, and her large blue eyes, under her jet-black hair, gave her at
first rather a strange appearance.

Desbarreaux kissed her hand with a gallant and chivalrous air. He then,
talking to her all the time, walked round the large room, where were
assembled nearly thirty persons-some seated in the large arm chairs,
others standing in the vast chimney-place, others conversing in the
embrasures of the windows under the heavy curtains. Some of them were
obscure men, now illustrious; others illustrious men, now obscure for
posterity. Thus, among the latter, he profoundly saluted MM. d’Aubijoux,
de Brion, de Montmort, and other very brilliant gentlemen, who were
there as judges; tenderly, and with an air of esteem, pressed the hands
of MM. Monteruel, de Sirmond, de Malleville, Baro, Gombauld, and other
learned men, almost all called great men in the annals of the Academy of
which they were the founders--itself called sometimes the Academic des
Beaux Esprits, but really the Academic Francaise. But M. Desbarreaux
gave but a mere patronizing nod to young Corneille, who was talking in
a corner with a foreigner, and with a young man whom he presented to
the mistress of the house by the name of M. Poquelin, son of the
‘valet-de-chambre tapissier du roi’. The foreigner was Milton; the young
man was Moliere.

Before the reading expected from the young Sybarite, a great contest
arose between him and other poets and prose writers of the time. They
spoke to each other with great volubility and animation a language
incomprehensible to any one who should suddenly have come among them
without being initiated, eagerly pressing each other’s hands with
affectionate compliments and infinite allusions to their works.

“Ah, here you are, illustrious Baro!” cried the newcomer. “I have read
your last sixain. Ah, what a sixain! how full of the gallant and the
tendre?”

“What is that you say of the tendre?” interrupted Marion de Lorme; “have
you ever seen that country? You stopped at the village of Grand-Esprit,
and at that of Jolis-Vers, but you have been no farther. If Monsieur
le Gouverneur de Notre Dame de la Garde will please to show us his new
chart, I will tell you where you are.”

Scudery arose with a vainglorious and pedantic air; and, unrolling
upon the table a sort of geographical chart tied with blue ribbons, he
himself showed the lines of red ink which he had traced upon it.

“This is the finest piece of Clelie,” he said. “This chart is generally
found very gallant; but ‘tis merely a slight ebullition of playful wit,
to please our little literary cabale. However, as there are strange
people in the world, it is possible that all who see it may not have
minds sufficiently well turned to understand it. This is the road which
must be followed to go from Nouvelle-Amitie to Tendre; and
observe, gentlemen, that as we say Cumae-on-the-Ionian-Sea,
Cumae-on-the-Tyrrhean-Sea, we shall say Tendre-sur-Inclination,
Tendre-sur-Estime, and Tendre-sur-Reconnaissance. We must begin by
inhabiting the village of Grand-Coeur, Generosity, Exactitude, and
Petits-Soins.”

“Ah! how very pretty!” interposed Desbarreaux. “See the villages marked
out; here is Petits-Soins, Billet-Galant, then Billet-Doux!”

“Oh! ‘tis ingenious in the highest degree!” cried Vaugelas, Colletet,
and the rest.

“And observe,” continued the author, inflated with this success, “that
it is necessary to pass through Complaisance and Sensibility; and
that if we do not take this road, we run the risk of losing our way to
Tiedeur, Oubli, and of falling into the Lake of Indifference.”

“Delicious! delicious! ‘gallant au supreme!’” cried the auditors; “never
was greater genius!”

“Well, Madame,” resumed Scudery, “I now declare it in your house:
this work, printed under my name, is by my sister--she who translated
‘Sappho’ so agreeably.” And without being asked, he recited in a
declamatory tone verses ending thus:

          L’Amour est un mal agreable
          Don’t mon coeur ne saurait guerir;
          Mais quand il serait guerissable,
          Il est bien plus doux d’en mourir.

“How! had that Greek so much wit? I can not believe it,” exclaimed
Marion de Lorme; “how superior Mademoiselle de Scudery is to her! That
idea is wholly hers; she must unquestionably put these charming verses
into ‘Clelie’. They will figure well in that Roman history.”

“Admirable, perfect!” cried all the savans; “Horatius, Aruns, and the
amiable Porsenna are such gallant lovers.”

They were all bending over the “carte de Tendre,” and their fingers
crossed in following the windings of the amorous rivers. The young
Poquelin ventured to raise a timid voice and his melancholy but acute
glance, and said:

“What purpose does this serve? Is it to give happiness or pleasure?
Monsieur seems to me not singularly happy, and I do not feel very gay.”

The only reply he got was a general look of contempt; he consoled
himself by meditating, ‘Les Precieuses Ridicules’.

Desbarreaux prepared to read a pious sonnet, which he was penitent for
having composed in an illness; he seemed to be ashamed of having thought
for a moment upon God at the sight of his lightning, and blushed at the
weakness. The mistress of the house stopped him.

“It is not yet time to read your beautiful verses; you would be
interrupted. We expect Monsieur le Grand Ecuyer and other gentlemen; it
would be actual murder to allow a great mind to speak during this noise
and confusion. But here is a young Englishman who has just come from
Italy, and is on his return to London. They tell me he has composed a
poem--I don’t know what; but he’ll repeat some verses of it. Many of you
gentlemen of the Academy know English; and for the rest he has had the
passages he is going to read translated by an ex-secretary of the Duke
of Buckingham, and here are copies in French on this table.”

So saying, she took them and distributed them among her erudite
visitors. The company seated themselves, and were silent. It took some
time to persuade the young foreigner to speak or to quit the recess of
the window, where he seemed to have come to a very good understanding
with Corneille. He at last advanced to an armchair placed near the
table; he seemed of feeble health, and fell into, rather than seated
himself in, the chair. He rested his elbow on the table, and with his
hand covered his large and beautiful eyes, which were half closed, and
reddened with nightwatches or tears. He repeated his fragments from
memory. His doubting auditors looked at him haughtily, or at least
patronizingly; others carelessly glanced over the translation of his
verses.

His voice, at first suppressed, grew clearer by the very flow of his
harmonious recital; the breath of poetic inspiration soon elevated him
to himself; and his look, raised to heaven, became sublime as that of
the young evangelist, conceived by Raffaello, for the light still shone
on it. He narrated in his verses the first disobedience of man, and
invoked the Holy Spirit, who prefers before all other temples a pure and
simple heart, who knows all, and who was present at the birth of time.

This opening was received with a profound silence; and a slight murmur
arose after the enunciation of the last idea. He heard not; he saw only
through a cloud; he was in the world of his own creation. He continued.

He spoke of the infernal spirit, bound in avenging fire by adamantine
chains, lying vanquished nine times the space that measures night and
day to mortal men; of the darkness visible of the eternal prisons and
the burning ocean where the fallen angels float. Then, his voice, now
powerful, began the address of the fallen angel. “Art thou,” he
said, “he who in the happy realms of light, clothed with transcendent
brightness, didst outshine myriads? From what height fallen? What though
the field be lost, all is not lost! Unconquerable will and study of
revenge, immortal hate and courage never to submit nor yield-what is
else not to be overcome.”

Here a lackey in a loud voice announced MM. de Montresor and
d’Entraigues. They saluted, exchanged a few words, deranged the
chairs, and then settled down. The auditors availed themselves of
the interruption to institute a dozen private conversations; scarcely
anything was heard but expressions of censure, and imputations of bad
taste. Even some men of merit, dulled by a particular habit of thinking,
cried out that they did not understand it; that it was above their
comprehension (not thinking how truly they spoke); and from this feigned
humility gained themselves a compliment, and for the poet an impertinent
remark--a double advantage. Some voices even pronounced the word
“profanation.”

The poet, interrupted, put his head between his hands and his elbows on
the table, that he might not hear the noise either of praise or censure.
Three men only approached him, an officer, Poquelin, and Corneille; the
latter whispered to Milton:

“I would advise you to change the picture; your hearers are not on a
level with this.”

The officer pressed the hand of the English poet and said to him:

“I admire you with all my soul.”

The astonished Englishman looked at him, and saw an intellectual,
impassioned, and sickly countenance.

He bowed, and collected himself, in order to proceed. His voice took a
gentle tone and a soft accent; he spoke of the chaste happiness of the
two first of human beings. He described their majestic nakedness, the
ingenuous command of their looks, their walk among lions and tigers,
which gambolled at their feet; he spoke of the purity of their morning
prayer, of their enchanting smile, the playful tenderness of their
youth, and their enamored conversation, so painful to the Prince of
Darkness.

Gentle tears quite involuntarily made humid the eyes of the beautiful
Marion de Lorme. Nature had taken possession of her heart, despite her
head; poetry filled it with grave and religious thoughts, from which
the intoxication of pleasure had ever diverted her. The idea of virtuous
love appeared to her for the first time in all its beauty; and she
seemed as if struck with a magic wand, and changed into a pale and
beautiful statue.

Corneille, his young friend, and the officer, were full of a silent
admiration which they dared not express, for raised voices drowned that
of the surprised poet.

“I can’t stand this!” cried Desbarreaux. “It is of an insipidity to make
one sick.”

“And what absence of grace, gallantry, and the belle flamme!” said
Scudery, coldly.

“Ah, how different from our immortal D’Urfe!” said Baro, the
continuator.

“Where is the ‘Ariane,’ where the ‘Astrea?’” cried, with a groan,
Godeau, the annotator.

The whole assembly well-nigh made these obliging remarks, though uttered
so as only to be heard by the poet as a murmur of uncertain import.
He understood, however, that he produced no enthusiasm, and collected
himself to touch another chord of his lyre.

At this moment the Counsellor de Thou was announced, who, modestly
saluting the company, glided silently behind the author near Corneille,
Poquelin, and the young officer. Milton resumed his strain.

He recounted the arrival of a celestial guest in the garden of Eden,
like a second Aurora in mid-day, shaking the plumes of his divine wings,
that filled the air with heavenly fragrance, who recounted to man
the history of heaven, the revolt of Lucifer, clothed in an armor of
diamonds, raised on a car brilliant as the sun, guarded by glittering
cherubim, and marching against the Eternal. But Emmanuel appears on the
living chariot of the Lord; and his two thousand thunderbolts hurled
down to hell, with awful noise, the accursed army confounded.

At this the company arose; and all was interrupted, for religious
scruples became leagued with false taste. Nothing was heard but
exclamations which obliged the mistress of the house to rise also, and
endeavor to conceal them from the author. This was not difficult, for
he was entirely absorbed in the elevation of his thoughts. His genius at
this moment had nothing in common with the earth; and when he once
more opened his eyes on those who surrounded him, he saw near him four
admirers, whose voices were better heard than those of the assembly.

Corneille said to him:

“Listen. If you aim at present glory, do not expect it from so fine a
work. Pure poetry is appreciated by but few souls. For the common run of
men, it must be closely allied with the almost physical interest of the
drama. I had been tempted to make a poem of ‘Polyeuctes’; but I shall
cut down this subject, abridge it of the heavens, and it shall be only a
tragedy.”

“What matters to me the glory of the moment?” answered Milton. “I
think not of success. I sing because I feel myself a poet. I go whither
inspiration leads me. Its path is ever the right one. If these verses
were not to be read till a century after my death, I should write them
just the same.”

“I admire them before they are written,” said the young officer. “I see
in them the God whose innate image I have found in my heart.”

“Who is it speaks thus kindly to me?” asked the poet.

“I am Rene Descartes,” replied the soldier, gently.

“How, sir!” cried De Thou. “Are you so happy as to be related to the
author of the Princeps?”

“I am the author of that work,” replied Rene.

“You, sir!--but--still--pardon me--but--are you not a military man?”
 stammered out the counsellor, in amazement.

“Well, what has the habit of the body to do with the thought? Yes, I
wear the sword. I was at the siege of Rochelle. I love the profession
of arms because it keeps the soul in a region of noble ideas by the
continual feeling of the sacrifice of life; yet it does not occupy the
whole man. He can not always apply his thoughts to it. Peace lulls them.
Moreover, one has also to fear seeing them suddenly interrupted by an
obscure blow or an absurd and untimely accident. And if a man be killed
in the execution of his plan, posterity preserves an idea of the plan
which he himself had not, and which may be wholly preposterous; and this
is the evil side of the profession for a man of letters.”

De Thou smiled with pleasure at the simple language of this superior
man--this man whom he so admired, and in his admiration loved. He
pressed the hand of the young sage of Touraine, and drew him into an
adjoining cabinet with Corneille, Milton, and Moliere, and with them
enjoyed one of those conversations which make us regard as lost the time
which precedes them and the time which is to follow them.

For two hours they had enchanted one another with their discourse, when
the sound of music, of guitars and flutes playing minuets, sarabands,
allemandes, and the Spanish dances which the young Queen had brought
into fashion, the continual passing of groups of young ladies and their
joyous laughter, all announced that the ball had commenced. A very young
and beautiful person, holding a large fan as it were a sceptre, and
surrounded by ten young men, entered their retired chamber with her
brilliant court, which she ruled like a queen, and entirely put to the
rout the studious conversers.

“Adieu, gentlemen!” said De Thou. “I make way for Mademoiselle de
l’Enclos and her musketeers.”

“Really, gentlemen,” said the youthful Ninon, “we seem to frighten you.
Have I disturbed you? You have all the air of conspirators.”

“We are perhaps more so than these gentlemen, although we dance,” said
Olivier d’Entraigues, who led her.

“Ah! your conspiracy is against me, Monsieur le Page!” said Ninon,
looking the while at another light-horseman, and abandoning her
remaining arm to a third, the other gallants seeking to place themselves
in the way of her flying ceillades, for she distributed her glances
brilliant as the rays of the sun dancing over the moving waters.

De Thou stole away without any one thinking of stopping him, and was
descending the great staircase, when he met the little Abbe de Gondi,
red, hot, and out of breath, who stopped him with an animated and joyous
air.

“How now! whither go you? Let the foreigners and savans go. You are one
of us. I am somewhat late; but our beautiful Aspasia will pardon me. Why
are you going? Is it all over?”

“Why, it seems so. When the dancing begins, the reading is done.”

“The reading, yes; but the oaths?” said the Abbe, in a low voice.

“What oaths?” asked De Thou.

“Is not Monsieur le Grand come?”

“I expected to see him; but I suppose he has not come, or else he has
gone.”

“No, no! come with me,” said the bare-brained Abbe. “You are one of us.
Parbleu! it is impossible to do without you; come!”

De Thou, unwilling to refuse, and thus appear to disown his friends,
even for parties of pleasure which annoyed him, followed De Gondi, who
passed through two cabinets, and descended a small private staircase. At
each step he took, he heard more distinctly the voices of an assemblage
of men. Gondi opened the door. An unexpected spectacle met his view.

The chamber he was entering, lighted by a mysterious glimmer, seemed the
asylum of the most voluptuous rendezvous. On one side was a gilt bed,
with a canopy of tapestry ornamented with feathers, and covered with
lace and ornaments. The furniture, shining with gold, was of grayish
silk, richly embroidered. Velvet cushions were at the foot of each
armchair, upon a thick carpet. Small mirrors, connected with one another
by ornaments of silver, seemed an entire glass, itself a perfection then
unknown, and everywhere multiplied their glittering faces. No sound
from without could penetrate this throne of delight; but the persons
assembled there seemed far remote from the thoughts which it was
calculated to give rise to. A number of men, whom he recognized as
courtiers, or soldiers of rank, crowded the entrance of this chamber and
an adjoining apartment of larger dimensions. All were intent upon that
which was passing in the centre of the first room. Here, ten young men,
standing, and holding in their hands their drawn swords, the points of
which were lowered toward the ground, were ranged round a table. Their
faces, turned to Cinq-Mars, announced that they had just taken an oath
to him. The grand ecuyer stood by himself before the fireplace, his
arms folded with an air of all-absorbing reflection. Standing near him,
Marion de Lorme, grave and collected, seemed to have presented these
gentlemen to him.

When Cinq-Mars perceived his friend, he rushed toward the door, casting
a terrible glance at Gondi, and seizing De Thou by both arms, stopped
him on the last step.

“What do you here?” he said, in a stifled voice.

“Who brought you here? What would you with me? You are lost if you
enter.”

“What do you yourself here? What do I see in this house?”

“The consequences of that you wot of. Go; this air is poisoned for all
who are here.”

“It is too late; they have seen me. What would they say if I were to
withdraw? I should discourage them; you would be lost.”

This dialogue had passed in low and hurried tones; at the last word, De
Thou, pushing aside his friend, entered, and with a firm step crossed
the apartment to the fireplace.

Cinq-Mars, trembling with rage, resumed his place, hung his head,
collected himself, and soon raising a more calm countenance, continued a
discourse which the entrance of his friend had interrupted:

“Be then with us, gentlemen; there is no longer any need for so much
mystery. Remember that when a strong mind embraces an idea, it must
follow it to all its consequences. Your courage will have a wider field
than that of a court intrigue. Thank me; instead of a conspiracy, I give
you a war. Monsieur de Bouillon has departed to place himself at the
head of his army of Italy; in two days, and before the king, I quit
Paris for Perpignan. Come all of you thither; the Royalists of the army
await us.”

Here he threw around him calm and confident looks; he saw gleams of joy
and enthusiasm in the eyes of all who surrounded him. Before allowing
his own heart to be possessed by the contagious emotion which precedes
great enterprises, he desired still more firmly to assure himself of
them, and said with a grave air:

“Yes, war, gentlemen; think of it, open war. Rochelle and Navarre are
arousing their Protestants; the army of Italy will enter on one side;
the king’s brother will join us on the other. The man we combat will be
surrounded, vanquished, crushed. The parliaments will march in our rear,
bearing their petitions to the King, a weapon as powerful as our swords;
and after the victory we will throw ourselves at the feet of Louis XIII,
our master, that he may pardon us for having delivered him from a cruel
and ambitious man, and hastened his own resolution.”

Here, again glancing around him, he saw increasing confidence in the
looks and attitudes of his accomplices.

“How!” he continued, crossing his arms, and yet restraining with an
effort his own emotion; “you do not recoil before this resolution, which
would appear a revolt to any other men! Do you not think that I have
abused the powers you have vested in me? I have carried matters very
far; but there are times when kings would be served, as it were in spite
of themselves. All is arranged, as you know. Sedan will open its gates
to us; and we are sure of Spain. Twelve thousand veteran troops
will enter Paris with us. No place, however, will be given up to the
foreigner; they will all have a French garrison, and be taken in the
name of the King.”

“Long live the King! long live the Union! the new Union, the Holy
League!” cried the assembly.

“It has come, then!” cried Cinq-Mars, with enthusiasm; “it has come--the
most glorious day of my life. Oh, youth, youth, from century to century
called frivolous and improvident! of what will men now accuse thee, when
they behold conceived, ripened, and ready for execution, under a chief
of twenty-two, the most vast, the most just, the most beneficial of
enterprises? My friends, what is a great life but a thought of youth
executed by mature age? Youth looks fixedly into the future with its
eagle glance, traces there a broad plan, lays the foundation stone; and
all that our entire existence afterward can do is to approximate to that
first design. Oh, when can great projects arise, if not when the heart
beats vigorously in the breast? The mind is not sufficient; it is but an
instrument.”

A fresh outburst of joy had followed these words, when an old man with a
white beard stood forward from the throng.

“Bah!” said Gondi, in a low voice, “here’s the old Chevalier de Guise
going to dote, and damp us.”

And truly enough, the old man, pressing the hand of Cinq-Mars, said
slowly and with difficulty, having placed himself near him:

“Yes, my son, and you, my children, I see with joy that my old friend
Bassompierre is about to be delivered by you, and that you are about
to avenge the Comte de Soissons and the young Montmorency. But it is
expedient for youth, all ardent as it is, to listen to those who have
seen much. I have witnessed the League, my children, and I tell you that
you can not now, as then, take the title of the Holy League, the Holy
Union, the Protectors of Saint Peter, or Pillars of the Church, because
I see that you reckon on the support of the Huguenots; nor can you put
upon your great seal of green wax an empty throne, since it is occupied
by a king.”

“You may say by two,” interrupted Gondi, laughing.

“It is, however, of great importance,” continued old Guise, amid the
tumultuous young men, “to take a name to which the people may attach
themselves; that of War for the Public Welfare has been made use of;
Princes of Peace only lately. It is necessary to find one.”

“Well, the War of the King,” said Cinq-Mars.

“Ay, the War of the King!” cried Gondi and all the young men.

“Moreover,” continued the old seigneur, “it is essential to gain the
approval of the theological faculty of the Sorbonne, which heretofore
sanctioned even the ‘hautgourdiers’ and the ‘sorgueurs’,--[Names of
the leaguers.]--and to put in force its second proposition--that it is
permitted to the people to disobey the magistrates, and to hang them.”

“Eh, Chevalier!” exclaimed Gondi; “this is not the question. Let
Monsieur le Grand speak; we are thinking no more of the Sorbonne at
present than of your Saint Jacques Clement.”

There was a laugh, and Cinq-Mars went on:

“I wished, gentlemen, to conceal nothing from you as to the projects of
Monsieur, those of the Duke de Bouillon, or my own, for it is just that
a man who stakes his life should know at what game; but I have placed
before you the least fortunate chances, and I have not detailed our
strength, for there is not one of you but knows the secret of it. Is
it to you, Messieurs de Montresor and de Saint-Thibal, I need tell the
treasures that Monsieur places at our disposal? Is it to you, Monsieur
d’Aignou, Monsieur de Mouy, that I need tell how many gentlemen are
eager to join your companies of men-at-arms and light-horse, to fight
the Cardinalists; how many in Touraine and in Auvergne, where lay the
lands of the House of D’Effiat, and whence will march two thousand
seigneurs, with their vassals?

“Baron de Beauvau, shall I recall the zeal and valor of the cuirassiers
whom you brought to the unhappy Comte de Soissons, whose cause was ours,
and whom you saw assassinated in the midst of his triumph by him whom
with you he had defeated? Shall I tell these gentlemen of the joy of the
Count-Duke of Olivares at the news of our intentions, and the letters of
the Cardinal-Infanta to the Duke de Bouillon? Shall I speak of Paris to
the Abbe de Gondi, to D’Entraigues, and to you, gentlemen, who are daily
witnesses of her misery, of her indignation, and her desire to break
forth? While all foreign nations demand peace, which the Cardinal
de Richelieu still destroys by his want of faith (as he has done in
violating the treaty of Ratisbon), all orders of the State groan under
his violence, and dread that colossal ambition which aspires to no less
than the temporal and even spiritual throne of France.”

A murmur of approbation interrupted Cinq-Mars. There was then silence
for a moment; and they heard the sound of wind instruments, and the
measured tread of the dancers.

This noise caused a momentary diversion and a smile in the younger
portion of the assembly.

Cinq-Mars profited by this; and raising his eyes, “Pleasures of youth,”
 he cried--“love, music, joyous dances--why do you not alone occupy our
leisure hours? Why are not you our sole ambition? What resentment may
we not justly feel that we have to make our cries of indignation heard
above our bursts of joy, our formidable secrets in the asylum of love,
and our oaths of war and death amid the intoxication of and of life!”

“Curses on him who saddens the youth of a people! When wrinkles furrow
the brow of the young men, we may confidently say that the finger of
a tyrant has hollowed them out. The other troubles of youth give it
despair and not consternation. Watch those sad and mournful students
pass day after day with pale foreheads, slow steps, and half-suppressed
voices. One would think they fear to live or to advance a step toward
the future. What is there then in France? A man too many.”

“Yes,” he continued; “for two years I have watched the insidious and
profound progress of his ambition. His strange practices, his secret
commissions, his judicial assassinations are known to you. Princes,
peers, marechals--all have been crushed by him. There is not a family in
France but can show some sad trace of his passage. If he regards us all
as enemies to his authority, it is because he would have in France none
but his own house, which twenty years ago held only one of the smallest
fiefs of Poitou.

“The humiliated parliament has no longer any voice. The presidents of
Nismes, Novion, and Bellievre have revealed to you their courageous
but fruitless resistance to the condemnation to death of the Duke de la
Vallette.

“The presidents and councils of sovereign courts have been imprisoned,
banished, suspended--a thing before unheard of--because they have raised
their voices for the king or for the public.

“The highest offices of justice, who fill them? Infamous and corrupt
men, who suck the blood and gold of the country. Paris and the maritime
towns taxed; the rural districts ruined and laid waste by the soldiers
and other agents of the Cardinal; the peasants reduced to feed on
animals killed by the plague or famine, or saving themselves by
self-banishment--such is the work of this new justice. His worthy agents
have even coined money with the effigy of the Cardinal-Duke. Here are
some of his royal pieces.”

The grand ecuyey threw upon the table a score of gold doubloons whereon
Richelieu was represented. A fresh murmur of hatred toward the Cardinal
arose in the apartment.

“And think you the clergy are less trampled on and less discontented?
No. Bishops have been tried against the laws of the State and in
contempt of the respect due to their sacred persons. We have seen, in
consequence, Algerine corsairs commanded by an archbishop. Men of the
lowest condition have been elevated to the cardinalate. The minister
himself, devouring the most sacred things, has had himself elected
general of the orders of Citeaux, Cluny, and Premontre, throwing into
prison the monks who refused him their votes. Jesuits, Carmelites,
Cordeliers, Augustins, Dominicans, have been forced to elect general
vicars in France, in order no longer to communicate at Rome with their
true superiors, because he would be patriarch in France, and head of the
Gallican Church.”

“He’s a schismatic! a monster!” cried several voices.

“His progress, then, is apparent, gentlemen. He is ready to seize both
temporal and spiritual power. He has little by little fortified himself
against the King in the strongest towns of France--seized the mouths of
the principal rivers, the best ports of the ocean, the salt-pits, and
all the securities of the kingdom. It is the King, then, whom we must
deliver from this oppression. ‘Le roi et la paix!’ shall be our cry. The
rest must be left to Providence.”

Cinq-Mars greatly astonished the assembly, and De Thou himself, by this
address. No one had ever before heard him speak so long together, not
even in fireside conversation; and he had never by a single word shown
the least aptitude for understanding public affairs. He had, on the
contrary, affected the greatest indifference on the subject, even in the
eyes of those whom he was molding to his projects, merely manifesting a
virtuous indignation at the violence of the minister, but affecting not
to put forward any of his own ideas, in order not to suggest personal
ambition as the aim of his labors. The confidence given to him rested
on his favor with the king and his personal bravery. The surprise of all
present was therefore such as to cause a momentary silence. It was soon
broken by all the transports of Frenchmen, young or old, when fighting
of whatever kind is held out to them.

Among those who came forward to press the hand of the young party
leader, the Abbe de Gondi jumped about like a kid.

“I have already enrolled my regiment!” he cried. “I have some superb
fellows!” Then, addressing Marion de Lorme, “Parbleu! Mademoiselle,
I will wear your colors--your gray ribbon, and your order of the
Allumette. The device is charming--

     ‘Nous ne brullons que pour bruller les autres.’

And I wish you could see all the fine things we shall do if we are
fortunate enough to come to blows.”

The fair Marion, who did not like him, began to talk over his head to M.
de Thou--a mortification which always exasperated the little Abbe, who
abruptly left her, walking as tall as he could, and scornfully twisting
his moustache.

All at once a sudden silence took possession of the assembly. A rolled
paper had struck the ceiling and fallen at the feet of Cinq-Mars. He
picked it up and unrolled it, after having looked eagerly around him. He
sought in vain to divine whence it came; all those who advanced had only
astonishment and intense curiosity depicted in their faces.

“Here is my name wrongly written,” he said coldly.

               “A CINQ MARCS,

            CENTURIE DE NOSTRADAMUS.

       Quand bonnet rouge passera par la fenetre,
          A quarante onces on coupera tete,
              Et tout finira.”

   [This punning prediction was made public three months before the,
   conspiracy.]

“There is a traitor among us, gentlemen,” he said, throwing away the
paper. “But no matter. We are not men to be frightened by his sanguinary
jests.”

“We must find the traitor out, and throw him through the window,” said
the young men.

Still, a disagreeable sensation had come over the assembly. They now
only spoke in whispers, and each regarded his neighbor with distrust.
Some withdrew; the meeting grew thinner. Marion de Lorme repeated
to every one that she would dismiss her servants, who alone could
be suspected. Despite her efforts a coldness reigned throughout the
apartment. The first sentences of Cinq-Mars’ address, too, had left some
uncertainty as to the intentions of the King; and this untimely candor
had somewhat shaken a few of the less determined conspirators.

Gondi pointed this out to Cinq-Mars.

“Hark ye!” he said in a low voice. “Believe me, I have carefully studied
conspiracies and assemblages; there are certain purely mechanical means
which it is necessary to adopt. Follow my advice here; I know a good
deal of this sort of thing. They want something more. Give them a little
contradiction; that always succeeds in France. You will quite make them
alive again. Seem not to wish to retain them against their will, and
they will remain.”

The grand ecuyer approved of the suggestion, and advancing toward those
whom he knew to be most deeply compromised, said:

“For the rest, gentlemen, I do not wish to force any one to follow me.
Plenty of brave men await us at Perpignan, and all France is with us. If
any one desires to secure himself a retreat, let him speak. We will give
him the means of placing himself in safety at once.”

Not one would hear of this proposition; and the movement it occasioned
produced a renewal of the oaths of hatred against the minister.

Cinq-Mars, however, proceeded to put the question individually to some
of the persons present, in the election of whom he showed much judgment;
for he ended with Montresor, who cried that he would pass his sword
through his body if he had for a moment entertained such an idea, and
with Gondi, who, rising fiercely on his heels, exclaimed:

“Monsieur le Grand Ecuyer, my retreat is the archbishopric of Paris and
L’Ile Notre-Dame. I’ll make it a place strong enough to keep me from
being taken.”

“And yours?” he said to De Thou.

“At your side,” murmured De Thou, lowering his eyes, unwilling to give
importance to his resolution by the directness of his look.

“You will have it so? Well, I accept,” said Cinq-Mars; “and my sacrifice
herein, dear friend, is greater than yours.” Then turning toward the
assembly:

“Gentlemen, I see in you the last men of France, for after the
Montmorencys and the Soissons, you alone dare lift a head free and
worthy of our old liberty. If Richelieu triumph, the ancient bases of
the monarchy will crumble with us. The court will reign alone, in the
place of the parliaments, the old barriers, and at the same time the
powerful supports of the royal authority. Let us be conquerors, and
France will owe to us the preservation of her ancient manners and her
time-honored guarantees. And now, gentlemen, it were a pity to spoil the
ball on this account. You hear the music. The ladies await you. Let us
go and dance.”

“The Cardinal shall pay the fiddlers,” added Gondi.

The young men applauded with a laugh; and all reascended to the ballroom
as lightly as they would have gone to the battlefield.



CHAPTER XXI. THE CONFESSIONAL

It was on the day following the assembly that had taken place in the
house of Marion de Lorme. A thick snow covered the roofs of Paris and
settled in its large gutters and streets, where it arose in gray heaps,
furrowed by the wheels of carriages.

It was eight o’clock, and the night was dark. The tumult of the city was
silent on account of the thick carpet the winter had spread for it, and
which deadened the sound of the wheels over the stones, and of the feet
of men and horses. In a narrow street that winds round the old church of
St. Eustache, a man, enveloped in his cloak, slowly walked up and down,
constantly watching for the appearance of some one. He often seated
himself upon one of the posts of the church, sheltering himself from the
falling snow under one of the statues of saints which jutted out from
the roof of the building, stretching over the narrow path like birds of
prey, which, about to make a stoop, have folded their wings. Often, too,
the old man, opening his cloak, beat his arms against his breast to warm
himself, or blew upon his fingers, ill protected from the cold by a pair
of buff gloves reaching nearly to the elbow. At last he saw a slight
shadow gliding along the wall.

“Ah, Santa Maria! what villainous countries are these of the North!”
 said a woman’s voice, trembling. “Ah, the duchy of Mantua! would I were
back there again, Grandchamp!”

“Pshaw! don’t speak so loud,” said the old domestic, abruptly. “The
walls of Paris have Cardinalist ears, and more especially the walls of
the churches. Has your mistress entered? My master awaits her at the
door.”

“Yes, yes; she has gone in.”

“Be silent,” said Grandchamp. “The sound of the clock is cracked. That’s
a bad sign.”

“That clock has sounded the hour of a rendezvous.”

“For me, it sounds like a passing-bell. But be silent, Laure; here are
three cloaks passing.”

They allowed three men to pass. Grandchamp followed them, made sure of
the road they took, and returned to his seat, sighing deeply.

“The snow is cold, Laure, and I am old. Monsieur le Grand might have
chosen another of his men to keep watch for him while he’s making
love. It’s all very well for you to carry love-letters and ribbons and
portraits and such trash, but for me, I ought to be treated with
more consideration. Monsieur le Marechal would not have done so. Old
domestics give respectability to a house, and should be themselves
respected.”

“Has your master arrived long, ‘caro amico’?”

“Eh, cara, cayo! leave me in peace. We had both been freezing for an
hour when you came. I should have had time to smoke three Turkish pipes.
Attend to your business, and go and look to the other doors of the
church, and see that no suspicious person is prowling about. Since there
are but two vedettes, they must beat about well.”

“Ah, what a thing it is to have no one to whom to say a friendly word
when it is so cold! and my poor mistress! to come on foot all the way
from the Hotel de Nevers. Ah, amore! qui regna amore!”

“Come, Italian, wheel about, I tell thee. Let me hear no more of thy
musical tongue.”

“Ah, Santa Maria! What a harsh voice, dear Grandchamp! You were much
more amiable at Chaumont, in Turena, when you talked to me of ‘miei
occhi neri.”

“Hold thy tongue, prattler! Once more, thy Italian is only good for
buffoons and rope-dancers, or to accompany the learned dogs.”

“Ah, Italia mia! Grandchamp, listen to me, and you shall hear the
language of the gods. If you were a gallant man, like him who wrote this
for a Laure like me!”

And she began to hum:

        Lieti fiori a felici, e ben nate erbe
        Che Madonna pensando premer sole;
        Piaggia ch’ascolti su dolci parole
        E del bel piede alcun vestigio serbe.

The old soldier was but little used to the voice of a young girl; and
in general when a woman spoke to him, the tone he assumed in answering
always fluctuated between an awkward compliment and an ebullition of
temper. But on this occasion he appeared moved by the Italian song, and
twisted his moustache, which was always with him a sign of embarrassment
and distress. He even omitted a rough sound something like a laugh, and
said:

“Pretty enough, ‘mordieu!’ that recalls to my mind the siege of Casal;
but be silent, little one. I have not yet heard the Abbe Quillet come.
This troubles me. He ought to have been here before our two young
people; and for some time past--”

Laure, who was afraid of being sent alone to the Place St. Eustache,
answered that she was quite sure he had gone in, and continued:

       “Ombrose selve, ove’percote il sole
        Che vi fa co’suoi raggi alte a superbe.”

“Hum!” said the worthy old soldier, grumbling. “I have my feet in the
snow, and a gutter runs down on my head, and there’s death at my heart;
and you sing to me of violets, of the sun, and of grass, and of love. Be
silent!”

And, retiring farther in the recess of the church, he leaned his gray
head upon his hands, pensive and motionless. Laure dared not again speak
to him.

While her waiting-woman had gone to find Grandchamp, the young and
trembling Marie with a timid hand had pushed open the folding-door of
the church.

She there found Cinq-Mars standing, disguised, and anxiously awaiting
her. As soon as she recognized him, she advanced with rapid steps into
the church, holding her velvet mask over her face, and hastened to take
refuge in a confessional, while Henri carefully closed the door of
the church by which she had entered. He made sure that it could not be
opened on the outside, and then followed his betrothed to kneel within
the place of penitence. Arrived an hour before her, with his old valet,
he had found this open--a certain and understood sign that the Abbe
Quillet, his tutor, awaited him at the accustomed place. His care to
prevent any surprise had made him remain himself to guard the entrance
until the arrival of Marie. Delighted as he was at the punctuality of
the good Abbe, he would still scarcely leave his post to thank him. He
was a second father to him in all but authority; and he acted toward the
good priest without much ceremony.

The old parish church of St. Eustache was dark. Besides the perpetual
lamp, there were only four flambeaux of yellow wax, which, attached
above the fonts against the principal pillars, cast a red glimmer
upon the blue and black marble of the empty church. The light scarcely
penetrated the deep niches of the aisles of the sacred building. In one
of the chapels--the darkest of them--was the confessional, of which we
have before spoken, whose high iron grating and thick double planks left
visible only the small dome and the wooden cross. Here, on either side,
knelt Cinq-Mars and Marie de Mantua. They could scarcely see each other,
but found that the Abbe Quillet, seated between them, was there awaiting
them. They could see through the little grating the shadow of his hood.
Henri d’Effiat approached slowly; he was regulating, as it were, the
remainder of his destiny. It was not before his king that he was about
to appear, but before a more powerful sovereign, before her for whom he
had undertaken his immense work. He was about to test her faith; and he
trembled.

He trembled still more when his young betrothed knelt opposite to
him; he trembled, because at the sight of this angel he could not help
feeling all the happiness he might lose. He dared not speak first, and
remained for an instant contemplating her head in the shade, that young
head upon which rested all his hopes. Despite his love, whenever he
looked upon her he could not refrain from a kind of dread at having
undertaken so much for a girl, whose passion was but a feeble reflection
of his own, and who perhaps would not appreciate all the sacrifices
he had made for her--bending the firm character of his mind to the
compliances of a courtier, condemning it to the intrigues and sufferings
of ambition, abandoning it to profound combinations, to criminal
meditations, to the gloomy labors of a conspirator.

Hitherto, in their secret interviews, she had always received each fresh
intelligence of his progress with the transports of pleasure of a child,
but without appreciating the labors of each of these so arduous steps
that lead to honors, and always asking him with naivete when he would be
Constable, and when they should marry, as if she were asking him when he
would come to the Caroussel, or whether the weather was fine. Hitherto,
he had smiled at these questions and this ignorance, pardonable at
eighteen, in a girl born to a throne and accustomed to a grandeur
natural to her, which she found around her on her entrance into life;
but now he made more serious reflections upon this character. And when,
but just quitting the imposing assembly of conspirators, representatives
of all the orders of the kingdom, his ear, wherein still resounded the
masculine voices that had sworn to undertake a vast war, was struck with
the first words of her for whom that war was commenced, he feared for
the first time lest this naivete should be in reality simple levity, not
coming from the heart. He resolved to sound it.

“Oh, heavens! how I tremble, Henri!” she said as she entered the
confessional; “you make me come without guards, without a coach. I
always tremble lest I should be seen by my people coming out of the
Hotel de Nevers. How much longer must I yet conceal myself like a
criminal? The Queen was very angry when I avowed the matter to her; and
whenever she speaks to me of it, ‘tis with her severe air that you know,
and which always makes me weep. Oh, I am terribly afraid!”

She was silent; Cinq-Mars replied only with a deep sigh.

“How! you do not speak to me!” she said.

“Are these, then, all your terrors?” asked Cinq-Mars, bitterly.

“Can I have greater? Oh, ‘mon ami’, in what a tone, with what a voice,
do you address me! Are you angry because I came too late?”

“Too soon, Madame, much too soon, for the things you are to hear--for I
see you are far from prepared for them.”

Marie, affected at the gloomy and bitter tone of his voice, began to
weep.

“Alas, what have I done,” she said, “that you should call me Madame, and
treat me thus harshly?”

“Be tranquil,” replied Cinq-Mars, but with irony in his tone. “‘Tis
not, indeed, you who are guilty; but I--I alone; not toward you, but for
you.”

“Have you done wrong, then? Have you ordered the death of any one? Oh,
no, I am sure you have not, you are so good!”

“What!” said Cinq-Mars, “are you as nothing in my designs? Did I
misconstrue your thoughts when you looked at me in the Queen’s boudoir?
Can I no longer read in your eyes? Was the fire which animated them that
of a love for Richelieu? That admiration which you promised to him who
should dare to say all to the King, where is it? Is it all a falsehood?”

Marie burst into tears.

“You still speak to me with bitterness,” she said; “I have not deserved
it. Do you suppose, because I speak not of this fearful conspiracy, that
I have forgotten it? Do you not see me miserable at the thought? Must
you see my tears? Behold them; I shed enough in secret. Henri, believe
that if I have avoided this terrible subject in our last interviews,
it is from the fear of learning too much. Have I any other thought that
that of your dangers? Do I not know that it is for me you incur them?
Alas! if you fight for me, have I not also to sustain attacks no less
cruel? Happier than I, you have only to combat hatred, while I struggle
against friendship. The Cardinal will oppose to you men and weapons;
but the Queen, the gentle Anne of Austria, employs only tender advice,
caresses, sometimes tears.”

“Touching and invincible constraint to make you accept a throne,” said
Cinq-Mars, bitterly. “I well conceive you must need some efforts to
resist such seductions; but first, Madame, I must release you from your
vows.”

“Alas, great Heaven! what is there, then, against us?”

“There is God above us, and against us,” replied Henri, in a severe
tone; “the King has deceived me.”

There was an agitated movement on the part of the Abbe.

Marie exclaimed, “I foresaw it; this is the misfortune I dreamed and
dreamed of! It is I who caused it?”

“He deceived me, as he pressed my hand,” continued Cinq-Mars; “he
betrayed me by the villain Joseph, whom an offer has been made to me to
poniard.”

The Abbe gave a start of horror which half opened the door of the
confessional.

“O father, fear nothing,” said Henri d’Effiat; “your pupil will never
strike such blows. Those I prepare will be heard from afar, and the
broad day will light them up; but there remains a duty--a sacred
duty--for me to fulfil. Behold your son sacrifice himself before you!
Alas! I have not lived long in the sight of happiness, and I am about,
perhaps, to destroy it by your hand, that consecrated it.”

As he spoke, he opened the light grating which separated him from his
old tutor; the latter, still observing an extraordinary silence, passed
his hood over his forehead.

“Restore this nuptial ring to the Duchesse de Mantua,” said Cinq-Mars,
in a tone less firm; “I can not keep it unless she give it me a second
time, for I am not the same whom she promised to espouse.”

The priest hastily seized the ring, and passed it through the opposite
grating; this mark of indifference astonished Cinq-Mars.

“What! Father,” he said, “are you also changed?”

Marie wept no longer; but, raising her angelic voice, which awakened a
faint echo along the aisles of the church, as the softest sigh of the
organ, she said, returning the ring to Cinq-Mars:

“O dearest, be not angry! I comprehend you not. Can we break asunder
what God has just united, and can I leave you, when I know you are
unhappy? If the King no longer loves you, at least you may be assured he
will not harm you, since he has not harmed the Cardinal, whom he never
loved. Do you think yourself undone, because he is perhaps unwilling
to separate from his old servant? Well, let us await the return of his
friendship; forget these conspirators, who affright me. If they give up
hope, I shall thank Heaven, for then I shall no longer tremble for you.
Why needlessly afflict ourselves? The Queen loves us, and we are both
very young; let us wait. The future is beautiful, since we are united
and sure of ourselves. Tell me what the King said to you at Chambord. I
followed you long with my eyes. Heavens! how sad to me was that hunting
party!”

“He has betrayed me, I tell you,” answered Cinq-Mars. “Yet who could
have believed it, that saw him press our hands, turning from his brother
to me, and to the Duc de Bouillon, making himself acquainted with the
minutest details of the conspiracy, of the very day on which Richelieu
was to be arrested at Lyons, fixing himself the place of his exile (our
party desired his death, but the recollection of my father made me ask
his life). The King said that he himself would direct the whole affair
at Perpignan; yet just before, Joseph, that foul spy, had issued from
out of the cabinet du Lys. O Marie! shall I own it? at the moment I
heard this, my very soul was tossed. I doubted everything; it seemed to
me that the centre of the world was unhinged when I found truth quit
the heart of the King. I saw our whole edifice crumble to the ground;
another hour, and the conspiracy would vanish away, and I should lose
you forever. One means remained; I employed it.”

“What means?” said Marie.

“The treaty with Spain was in my hand; I signed it.”

“Ah, heavens! destroy it.”

“It is gone.”

“Who bears it?”

“Fontrailles.”

“Recall him.”

“He will, ere this, have passed the defiles of Oleron,” said Cinq-Mars,
rising up. “All is ready at Madrid, all at Sedan. Armies await me,
Marie--armies! Richelieu is in the midst of them. He totters; it needs
but one blow to overthrow him, and you are mine forever--forever the
wife of the triumphant Cinq-Mars.”

“Of Cinq-Mars the rebel,” she said, sighing.

“Well, have it so, the rebel; but no longer the favorite. Rebel,
criminal, worthy of the scaffold, I know it,” cried the impassioned
youth, falling on his knees; “but a rebel for love, a rebel for you,
whom my sword will at last achieve for me.”

“Alas, a sword imbrued in the blood of your country! Is it not a
poniard?”

“Pause! for pity, pause, Marie! Let kings abandon me, let warriors
forsake me, I shall only be the more firm; but a word from you will
vanquish me, and once again the time for reflection will be passed from
me. Yes, I am a criminal; and that is why I still hesitate to think
myself worthy of you. Abandon me, Marie; take back the ring.”

“I can not,” she said; “for I am your wife, whatever you be.”

“You hear her, father!” exclaimed Cinq-Mars, transported with happiness;
“bless this second union, the work of devotion, even more beautiful than
that of love. Let her be mine while I live.”

Without answering, the Abbe opened the door of the confessional and had
quitted the church ere Cinq-Mars had time to rise and follow him.

“Where are you going? What is the matter?” he cried.

But no one answered.

“Do not call out, in the name of Heaven!” said Marie, “or I am lost; he
has doubtless heard some one in the church.”

But D’Effiat, agitated, and without answering her, rushed forth, and
sought his late tutor through the church, but in vain. Drawing his
sword, he proceeded to the entrance which Grandchamp had to guard; he
called him and listened.

“Now let him go,” said a voice at the corner of the street; and at the
same moment was heard the galloping of horses.

“Grandchamp, wilt thou answer?” cried Cinq-Mars.

“Help, Henri, my dear boy!” exclaimed the voice of the Abbe Quillet.

“Whence come you? You endanger me,” said the grand ecuyer, approaching
him.

But he saw that his poor tutor, without a hat in the falling snow, was
in a most deplorable condition.

“They stopped me, and they robbed me,” he cried. “The villains, the
assassins! they prevented me from calling out; they stopped my mouth
with a handkerchief.”

At this noise, Grandchamp at length came, rubbing his eyes, like one
just awakened. Laure, terrified, ran into the church to her mistress;
all hastily followed her to reassure Marie, and then surrounded the old
Abbe.

“The villains! they bound my hands, as you see. There were more than
twenty of them; they took from me the key of the side door of the
church.”

“How! just now?” said Cinq-Mars; “and why did you quit us?”

“Quit you! why, they have kept me there two hours.”

“Two hours!” cried Henri, terrified.

“Ah, miserable old man that I am!” said Grandchamp; “I have slept while
my master was in danger. It is the first time.”

“You were not with us, then, in the confessional?” continued Cinq-Mars,
anxiously, while Marie tremblingly pressed against his arm.

“What!” said the Abbe, “did you not see the rascal to whom they gave my
key?”

“No! whom?” cried all at once.

“Father Joseph,” answered the good priest.

“Fly! you are lost!” cried Marie.



BOOK 6



CHAPTER XXII. THE STORM

          ‘Blow, blow, thou winter wind;
          Thou art not so unkind
          As man’s ingratitude.
          Thy tooth is not so keen,
          Because thou art not seen,
          Although thy breath be rude.
     Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly.
     Most friendship is feigning; most loving mere folly.’

                       SHAKESPEARE.

Amid that long and superb chain of the Pyrenees which forms the
embattled isthmus of the peninsula, in the centre of those blue
pyramids, covered in gradation with snow, forests, and downs, there
opens a narrow defile, a path cut in the dried-up bed of a perpendicular
torrent; it circulates among rocks, glides under bridges of frozen snow,
twines along the edges of inundated precipices to scale the adjacent
mountains of Urdoz and Oleron, and at last rising over their unequal
ridges, turns their nebulous peak into a new country which has also its
mountains and its depths, and, quitting France, descends into Spain.
Never has the hoof of the mule left its trace in these windings; man
himself can with difficulty stand upright there, even with the hempen
boots which can not slip, and the hook of the pikestaff to force into
the crevices of the rocks.

In the fine summer months the ‘pastour’, in his brown cape, and his
black long-bearded ram lead hither flocks, whose flowing wool sweeps the
turf. Nothing is heard in these rugged places but the sound of the
large bells which the sheep carry, and whose irregular tinklings produce
unexpected harmonies, casual gamuts, which astonish the traveller and
delight the savage and silent shepherd. But when the long month of
September comes, a shroud of snow spreads itself from the peak of the
mountains down to their base, respecting only this deeply excavated
path, a few gorges open by torrents, and some rocks of granite, which
stretch out their fantastical forms, like the bones of a buried world.

It is then that light troops of chamois make their appearance, with
their twisted horns extending over their backs, spring from rock to
rock as if driven before the wind, and take possession of their aerial
desert. Flights of ravens and crows incessantly wheel round and round
in the gulfs and natural wells which they transform into dark dovecots,
while the brown bear, followed by her shaggy family, who sport and
tumble around her in the snow, slowly descends from their retreat
invaded by the frost. But these are neither the most savage nor the most
cruel inhabitants that winter brings into these mountains; the daring
smuggler raises for himself a dwelling of wood on the very boundary of
nature and of politics. There unknown treaties, secret exchanges, are
made between the two Navarres, amid fogs and winds.

It was in this narrow path on the frontiers of France that, about two
months after the scenes we have witnessed in Paris, two travellers,
coming from Spain, stopped at midnight, fatigued and dismayed. They
heard musket-shots in the mountain.

“The scoundrels! how they have pursued us!” said one of them. “I can go
no farther; but for you I should have been taken.”

“And you will be taken still, as well as that infernal paper, if you
lose your time in words; there is another volley on the rock of Saint
Pierre-de-L’Aigle. Up there, they suppose we have gone in the direction
of the Limacon; but, below, they will see the contrary. Descend; it is
doubtless a patrol hunting smugglers. Descend.”

“But how? I can not see.”

“Never mind, descend. Take my arm.”

“Hold me; my boots slip,” said the first traveller, stamping on the edge
of the rock to make sure of the solidity of the ground before trusting
himself upon it.

“Go on; go on!” said the other, pushing him. “There’s one of the rascals
passing over our heads.”

And, in fact, the shadow of a man, armed with a long gun, was reflected
on the snow. The two adventurers stood motionless. The man passed on.
They continued their descent.

“They will take us,” said the one who was supporting the other. “They
have turned us. Give me your confounded parchment. I wear the dress of
a smuggler, and I can pass for one seeking an asylum among them; but you
would have no resource with your laced dress.”

“You are right,” said his companion; and, resting his foot against the
edge of the rock, and reclining on the slope, he gave him a roll of
hollow wood.

A gun was fired, and a ball buried itself, hissing, in the snow at their
feet.

“Marked!” said the first. “Roll down. If you are not dead when you get
to the bottom, take the road you see before you. On the left of the
hollow is Santa Maria. But turn to the right; cross Oleron; and you are
on the road to Pau and are saved. Go; roll down.”

As he spoke, he pushed his comrade, and without condescending to look
after him, and himself neither ascending nor descending, followed the
flank of the mountain horizontally, hanging on by rocks, branches, and
even by plants, with the strength and energy of a wild-cat, and soon
found himself on firm ground before a small wooden hut, through which a
light was visible. The adventurer went all around it, like a hungry
wolf round a sheepfold, and, applying his eye to one of the openings,
apparently saw what determined him, for without further hesitation he
pushed the tottering door, which was not even fastened by a latch. The
whole but shook with the blow he had given it. He then saw that it was
divided into two cabins by a partition. A large flambeau of yellow wax
lighted the first. There, a young girl, pale and fearfully thin, was
crouched in a corner on the damp floor, just where the melted snow ran
under the planks of the cottage. Very long black hair, entangled and
covered with dust, fell in disorder over her coarse brown dress; the red
hood of the Pyrenees covered her head and shoulders. Her eyes were cast
down; and she was spinning with a small distaff attached to her waist.
The entry of a man did not appear to move her in the least.

“Ha! La moza,--[girl]--get up and give me something to drink. I am tired
and thirsty.”

The young girl did not answer, and, without raising her eyes, continued
to spin assiduously.

“Dost hear?” said the stranger, thrusting her with his foot. “Go and
tell thy master that a friend wishes to see him; but first give me some
drink. I shall sleep here.”

She answered, in a hoarse voice, still spinning:

“I drink the snow that melts on the rock, or the green scum that floats
on the water of the swamp. But when I have spun well, they give me water
from the iron spring. When I sleep, the cold lizards crawl over my face;
but when I have well cleaned a mule, they throw me hay. The hay is warm;
the hay is good and warm. I put it under my marble feet.”

“What tale art thou telling me?” said Jacques. “I spoke not of thee.”

She continued:

“They make me hold a man while they kill him. Oh, what blood I have had
on my hands! God forgive them!--if that be possible. They make me hold
his head, and the bucket filled with crimson water. O Heaven!--I, who
was the bride of God! They throw their bodies into the abyss of snow;
but the vulture finds them; he lines his nest with their hair. I now see
thee full of life; I shall see thee bloody, pale, and dead.”

The adventurer, shrugging his shoulders, began to whistle as he passed
the second door. Within he found the man he had seen through the chinks
of the cabin. He wore the blue berret cap of the Basques on one side,
and, enveloped in an ample cloak, seated on the pack-saddle of a mule,
and bending over a large brazier, smoked a cigar, and from time to time
drank from a leather bottle at his side. The light of the brazier showed
his full yellow face, as well as the chamber, in which mule-saddles were
ranged round the byasero as seats. He raised his head without altering
his position.

“Oh, oh! is it thou, Jacques?” he said. “Is it thou? Although ‘tis four
years since I saw thee, I recognize thee. Thou art not changed, brigand!
There ‘tis still, thy great knave’s face. Sit down there, and take a
drink.”

“Yes, here I am. But how the devil camest thou here? I thought thou wert
a judge, Houmain!”

“And I thought thou wert a Spanish captain, Jacques!”

“Ah! I was so for a time, and then a prisoner. But I got out of the
thing very snugly, and have taken again to the old trade, the free life,
the good smuggling work.”

“Viva! viva! Jaleo!”--[A common Spanish oath.]--cried Houmain. “We
brave fellows can turn our hands to everything. Thou camest by the other
passes, I suppose, for I have not seen thee since I returned to the
trade.”

“Yes, yes; I have passed where thou wilt never pass,” said Jacques.

“And what hast got?”

“A new merchandise. My mules will come tomorrow.”

“Silk sashes, cigars, or linen?”

“Thou wilt know in time, amigo,” said the ruffian. “Give me the skin.
I’m thirsty.”

“Here, drink. It’s true Valdepenas! We’re so jolly here, we bandoleros!
Ay! jaleo! jaleo! come, drink; our friends are coming.”

“What friends?” said Jacques, dropping the horn.

“Don’t be uneasy, but drink. I’ll tell thee all about it presently, and
then we’ll sing the Andalusian Tirana.”--[A kind of ballad.]

The adventurer took the horn, and assumed an appearance of ease.

“And who’s that great she-devil I saw out there?” he said. “She seems
half dead.”

“Oh, no! she’s only mad. Drink; I’ll tell thee all about her.”

And taking from his red sash a long poniard denticulated on each side
like a saw, Houmain used it to stir up the fire, and said with vast
gravity:

“Thou must know first, if thou dost not know it already, that down below
there [he pointed toward France] the old wolf Richelieu carries all
before him.”

“Ah, ah!” said Jacques.

“Yes; they call him the king of the King. Thou knowest? There is,
however, a young man almost as strong as he, and whom they call Monsieur
le Grand. This young fellow commands almost the whole army of Perpignan
at this moment. He arrived there a month ago; but the old fox is still
at Narbonne--a very cunning fox, indeed. As to the King, he is sometimes
this, sometimes that [as he spoke, Houmain turned his hand outward and
inward], between zist and zest; but while he is determining, I am for
zist--that is to say, I’m a Cardinalist. I’ve been regularly doing
business for my lord since the first job he gave me, three years ago.
I’ll tell thee about it. He wanted some men of firmness and spirit for a
little expedition, and sent for me to be judge-Advocate.”

“Ah! a very pretty post, I’ve heard.”

“Yes, ‘tis a trade like ours, where they sell cord instead of thread;
but it is less honest, for they kill men oftener. But ‘tis also more
profitable; everything has its price.”

“Very properly so,” said Jacques.

“Behold me, then, in a red robe. I helped to give a yellow one and
brimstone to a fine fellow, who was cure at Loudun, and who had got into
a convent of nuns, like a wolf in a fold; and a fine thing he made of
it.”

“Ha, ha, ha! That’s very droll!” laughed Jacques. “Drink,” said Houmain.
“Yes, Jago, I saw him after the affair, reduced to a little black heap
like this charcoal. See, this charcoal at the end of my poniard. What
things we are! That’s just what we shall all come to when we go to the
Devil.”

“Oh, none of these pleasantries!” said the other, very gravely. “You
know that I am religious.”

“Well, I don’t say no; it may be so,” said Houmain, in the same tone.
“There’s Richelieu, a Cardinal! But, no matter. Thou must know, then, as
I was Advocate-General, I advocated--”

“Ah, thou art quite a wit!”

“Yes, a little. But, as I was saying, I advocated into my own pocket
five hundred piastres, for Armand Duplessis pays his people well, and
there’s nothing to be said against that, except that the money’s not his
own; but that’s the way with us all. I determined to invest this money
in our old trade; and I returned here. Business goes on well. There is
sentence of death out against us; and our goods, of course, sell for
half as much again as before.”

“What’s that?” exclaimed Jacques; “lightning at this time of year?”

“Yes, the storms are beginning; we’ve had two already. We are in the
clouds. Dost hear the roll of the thunder? But this is nothing; come,
drink. ‘Tis almost one in the morning; we’ll finish the skin and the
night together. As I was telling thee, I made acquaintance with our
president--a great scoundrel called Laubardemont. Dost know him?”

“Yes, a little,” said Jacques; “he’s a regular miser. But never mind
that; go on.”

“Well, as we had nothing to conceal from one another, I told him of my
little commercial plans, and asked him, when any good jobs presented
themselves, to think of his judicial comrade; and I’ve had no cause to
complain of him.”

“Ah!” said Jacques, “and what has he done?”

“Why, first, two years ago, he himself brought, me, on horseback behind
him, his niece that thou’st seen out there.”

“His niece!” cried Jacques, rising; “and thou treat’st her like a slave!
Demonio!”

“Drink,” said Houmain, quietly stirring the brazier with his poniard;
“he himself desired it should be so. Sit down.”

Jacques did so.

“I don’t think,” continued the smuggler, “that he’d even be sorry to
know that she was--dost understand?--to hear she was under the snow
rather than above it; but he would not put her there himself, because
he’s a good relative, as he himself said.”

“And as I know,” said Jacques; “but go on.”

“Thou mayst suppose that a man like him, who lives at court, does not
like to have a mad niece in his house. The thing is self-evident; if I’d
continued to play my part of the man of the robe, I should have done the
same in a similar case. But here, as you perceive, we don’t care much
for appearances; and I’ve taken her for a servant. She has shown more
good sense than I expected, although she has rarely ever spoken more
than a single word, and at first came the delicate over us. Now she rubs
down a mule like a groom. She has had a slight fever for the last few
days; but ‘twill pass off one way or the other. But, I say, don’t tell
Laubardemont that she still lives; he’d think ‘twas for the sake of
economy I’ve kept her for a servant.”

“How! is he here?” cried Jacques.

“Drink!” replied the phlegmatic Houmain, who himself set the example
most assiduously, and began to half shut his eyes with a languishing
air. “‘Tis the second transaction I’ve had with this Laubardemont--or
demon, or whatever the name is; but ‘tis a good devil of a demon, at all
events. I love him as I do my eyes; and I will drink his health out of
this bottle of Jurangon here. ‘Tis the wine of a jolly fellow, the late
King Henry. How happy we are here!--Spain on the right hand, France
on the left; the wine-skin on one side, the bottle on the other! The
bottle! I’ve left all for the bottle!”

As he spoke, he knocked off the neck of a bottle of white wine. After
taking a long draught, he continued, while the stranger closely watched
him:

“Yes, he’s here; and his feet must be rather cold, for he’s been waiting
about the mountains ever since sunset, with his guards and our comrades.
Thou knowest our bandoleros, the true contrabandistas?”

“Ah! and what do they hunt?” said Jacques.

“Ah, that’s the joke!” answered the drunkard. “‘Tis to arrest two
rascals, who want to bring here sixty thousand Spanish soldiers in paper
in their pocket. You don’t, perhaps, quite understand me, ‘croquant’.
Well, ‘tis as I tell thee--in their own pockets.”

“Ay, ay! I understand,” said Jacques, loosening his poniard in his sash,
and looking at the door.

“Very well, devil’s-skin, let’s sing the Tirana. Take the bottle, throw
away the cigar, and sing.”

With these words the drunken host began to sing in Spanish, interrupting
his song with bumpers, which he threw down his throat, leaning back for
the greater ease, while Jacques, still seated, looked at him gloomily by
the light of the brazier, and meditated what he should do.

A flash of lightning entered the small window, and filled the room with
a sulphurous odor. A fearful clap immediately followed; the cabin shook;
and a beam fell outside.

“Hallo, the house!” cried the drunken man; “the Devil’s among us; and
our friends are not come!”

“Sing!” said Jacques, drawing the pack upon which he was close to that
of Houmain.

The latter drank to encourage himself, and then continued to sing.

As he ended, he felt his seat totter, and fell backward; Jacques, thus
freed from him, sprang toward the door, when it opened, and his head
struck against the cold, pale face of the mad-woman. He recoiled.

“The judge!” she said, as she entered; and she fell prostrate on the
cold ground.

Jacques had already passed one foot over her; but another face appeared,
livid and surprised-that of a very tall man, enveloped in a cloak
covered with snow. He again recoiled, and laughed a laugh of terror and
rage. It was Laubardemont, followed by armed men; they looked at one
another.

“Ah, com-r-a-d-e, yo-a ra-a-scal!” hiccuped Houmain, rising with
difficulty; “thou’rt a Royalist.”

But when he saw these two men, who seemed petrified by each other, he
became silent, as conscious of his intoxication; and he reeled forward
to raise up the madwoman, who was still lying between the judge and the
Captain. The former spoke first.

“Are you not he we have been pursuing?”

“It is he!” said the armed men, with one voice; “the other has escaped.”

Jacques receded to the split planks that formed the tottering wall of
the hut; enveloping himself in his cloak, like a bear forced against
a tree by the hounds, and, wishing to gain a moment’s respite for
reflection, he said, firmly:

“The first who passes that brazier and the body of that girl is a dead
man.”

And he drew a long poniard from his cloak. At this moment Houmain,
kneeling, turned the head of the girl. Her eyes were closed; he drew her
toward the brazier, which lighted up her face.

“Ah, heavens!” cried Laubardemont, forgetting himself in his fright;
“Jeanne again!”

“Be calm, my lo-lord,” said Houmain, trying to open the eyelids, which
closed again, and to raise her head, which fell back again like wet
linen; “be, be--calm! Do-n’t ex-cite yourself; she’s dead, decidedly.”

Jacques put his foot on the body as on a barrier, and, looking with a
ferocious laugh in the face of Laubardemont, said to him in a low voice:

“Let me pass, and I will not compromise thee, courtier; I will not tell
that she was thy niece, and that I am thy son.”

Laubardemont collected himself, looked at his men, who pressed around
him with advanced carabines; and, signing them to retire a few steps, he
answered in a very low voice:

“Give me the treaty, and thou shalt pass.”

“Here it is, in my girdle; touch it, and I will call you my father
aloud. What will thy master say?”

“Give it me, and I will spare thy life.”

“Let me pass, and I will pardon thy having given me that life.”

“Still the same, brigand?”

“Ay, assassin.”

“What matters to thee that boy conspirator?” asked the judge.

“What matters to thee that old man who reigns?” answered the other.

“Give me that paper; I’ve sworn to have it.”

“Leave it with me; I’ve sworn to carry it back.”

“What can be thy oath and thy God?” demanded Laubardemont.

“And thine?” replied Jacques. “Is’t the crucifix of red-hot iron?”

Here Houmain, rising between them, laughing and staggering, said to the
judge, slapping him on the shoulder.

“You are a long time coming to an understanding, friend; do-on’t you
know him of old? He’s a very good fellow.”

“I? no!” cried Laubardemont, aloud; “I never saw him before.”

At this moment, Jacques, who was protected by the drunkard and the
smallness of the crowded chamber, sprang violently against the weak
planks that formed the wall, and by a blow of his heel knocked two of
them out, and passed through the space thus created. The whole side of
the cabin was broken; it tottered, and the wind rushed in.

“Hallo! Demonio! Santo Demonio! where art going?” cried the smuggler;
“thou art breaking my house down, and on the side of the ravine, too.”

All cautiously approached, tore away the planks that remained, and
leaned over the abyss. They contemplated a strange spectacle. The storm
raged in all its fury; and it was a storm of the Pyrenees. Enormous
flashes of lightning came all at once from all parts of the horizon,
and their fires succeeded so quickly that there seemed no interval; they
appeared to be a continuous flash. It was but rarely the flaming vault
would suddenly become obscure; and it then instantly resumed its
glare. It was not the light that seemed strange on this night, but the
darkness.

The tall thin peaks and whitened rocks stood out from the red background
like blocks of marble on a cupola of burning brass, and resembled, amid
the snows, the wonders of a volcano; the waters gushed from them like
flames; the snow poured down like dazzling lava.

In this moving mass a man was seen struggling, whose efforts only
involved him deeper and deeper in the whirling and liquid gulf; his
knees were already buried. In vain he clasped his arms round an enormous
pyramidal and transparent icicle, which reflected the lightning like a
rock of crystal; the icicle itself was melting at its base, and slowly
bending over the declivity of the rock. Under the covering of snow,
masses of granite were heard striking against each other, as they
descended into the vast depths below. Yet they could still save him; a
space of scarcely four feet separated him from Laubardemont.

“I sink!” he cried; “hold out to me something, and thou shalt have the
treaty.”

“Give it me, and I will reach thee this musket,” said the judge.

“There it is,” replied the ruffian, “since the Devil is for Richelieu!”
 and taking one hand from the hold of his slippery support, he threw a
roll of wood into the cabin. Laubardemont rushed back upon the treaty
like a wolf on his prey. Jacques in vain held out his arm; he slowly
glided away with the enormous thawing block turned upon him, and was
silently buried in the snow.

“Ah, villain,” were his last words, “thou hast deceived me! but thou
didst not take the treaty from me. I gave it thee, Father!” and he
disappeared wholly under the thick white bed of snow. Nothing was seen
in his place but the glittering flakes which the lightning had ploughed
up, as it became extinguished in them; nothing was--heard but the
rolling of the thunder and the dash of the water against the rocks, for
the men in the half-ruined cabin, grouped round a corpse and a villain,
were silent, tongue-tied with horror, and fearing lest God himself
should send a thunderbolt upon them.



CHAPTER XXIII. ABSENCE

          L’absence est le plus grand des maux,
          Non pas pour vous, cruelle!

                       LA FONTAINE.

Who has not found a charm in watching the clouds of heaven as they float
along? Who has not envied them the freedom of their journeyings through
the air, whether rolled in great masses by the wind, and colored by the
sun, they advance peacefully, like fleets of dark ships with gilt prows,
or sprinkled in light groups, they glide quickly on, airy and elongated,
like birds of passage, transparent as vast opals detached from the
treasury of the heavens, or glittering with whiteness, like snows from
the mountains carried on the wings of the winds? Man is a slow traveller
who envies those rapid journeyers; less rapid than his imagination, they
have yet seen in a single day all the places he loves, in remembrance
or in hope,--those that have witnessed his happiness or his misery,
and those so beautiful countries unknown to us, where we expect to find
everything at once. Doubtless there is not a spot on the whole earth, a
wild rock, an arid plain, over which we pass with indifference, that has
not been consecrated in the life of some man, and is not painted in
his remembrance; for, like battered vessels, before meeting inevitable
wreck, we leave some fragment of ourselves on every rock.

Whither go the dark-blue clouds of that storm of the Pyrenees? It is
the wind of Africa which drives them before it with a fiery breath.
They fly; they roll over one another, growlingly throwing out lightning
before them, as their torches, and leaving suspended behind them a long
train of rain, like a vaporous robe. Freed by an effort from the rocky
defiles that for a moment had arrested their course, they irrigate, in
Bearn, the picturesque patrimony of Henri IV; in Guienne, the conquests
of Charles VII; in Saintogne, Poitou, and Touraine, those of Charles V
and of Philip Augustus; and at last, slackening their pace above the old
domain of Hugh Capet, halt murmuring on the towers of St. Germain.

“O Madame!” exclaimed Marie de Mantua to the Queen, “do you see this
storm coming up from the south?”

“You often look in that direction, ‘ma chere’,” answered Anne of
Austria, leaning on the balcony.

“It is the direction of the sun, Madame.”

“And of tempests, you see,” said the Queen. “Trust in my friendship, my
child; these clouds can bring no happiness to you. I would rather
see you turn your eyes toward Poland. See the fine people you might
command.”

At this moment, to avoid the rain, which began to fall, the
Prince-Palatine passed rapidly under the windows of the Queen, with a
numerous suite of young Poles on horseback. Their Turkish vests, with
buttons of diamonds, emeralds, and rubies; their green and gray cloaks;
the lofty plumes of their horses, and their adventurous air-gave them
a singular eclat to which the court had easily become accustomed. They
paused for a moment, and the Prince made two salutes, while the light
animal he rode passed gracefully sideways, keeping his front toward
the princesses; prancing and snorting, he shook his mane, and seemed to
salute by putting his head between his legs. The whole suite repeated
the evolution as they passed. The Princesse Marie had at first shrunk
back, lest they should see her tears; but the brilliant and flattering
spectacle made her return to the balcony, and she could not help
exclaiming:

“How gracefully the Palatine rides that beautiful horse! he seems scarce
conscious of it.”

The Queen smiled, and said:

“He is conscious about her who might be his queen tomorrow, if she would
but make a sign of the head, and let but one glance from her great black
almond-shaped eyes be turned on that throne, instead of always receiving
these poor foreigners with poutings, as now.”

And Anne of Austria kissed the cheek of Marie, who could not refrain
from smiling also; but she instantly sunk her head, reproaching herself,
and resumed her sadness, which seemed gliding from her. She even needed
once more to contemplate the great clouds that hung over the chateau.

“Poor child,” continued the Queen, “thou dost all thou canst to be very
faithful, and to keep thyself in the melancholy of thy romance. Thou art
making thyself ill with weeping when thou shouldst be asleep, and with
not eating. Thou passest the night in revery and in writing; but I warn
thee, thou wilt get nothing by it, except making thyself thin and less
beautiful, and the not being a queen. Thy Cinq-Mars is an ambitious
youth, who has lost himself.”

Seeing Marie conceal her head in her handkerchief to weep, Anne of
Austria for a moment reentered her chamber, leaving Marie in the
balcony, and feigned to be looking for some jewels at her toilet-table;
she soon returned, slowly and gravely, to the window. Marie was more
calm, and was gazing sorrowfully at the landscape before her, the hills
in the distance, and the storm gradually spreading itself.

The Queen resumed in a more serious tone:

“God has been more merciful to you than your imprudence perhaps
deserved, Marie. He has saved you from great danger. You were willing to
make great sacrifices, but fortunately they have not been accomplished
as you expected. Innocence has saved you from love. You are as one who,
thinking she has swallowed a deadly poison, has in reality drunk only
pure and harmless water.”

“Ah, Madame, what mean you? Am I not unhappy enough already?”

“Do not interrupt me,” said the Queen; “you will, ere long, see
your present position with different eyes. I will not accuse you of
ingratitude toward the Cardinal; I have too many reasons for not liking
him. I myself witnessed the rise of the conspiracy. Still, you should
remember, ‘ma chere’, that he was the only person in France who, against
the opinion of the Queen-mother and of the court, insisted upon war with
the duchy of Mantua, which he recovered from the empire and from Spain,
and returned to the Duc de Nevers, your father. Here, in this very
chateau of Saint-Germain, was signed the treaty which deposed the Duke
of Guastalla.--[The 19th of May, 1632.]--You were then very young; they
must, however, have told you of it. Yet here, through love alone (I
am willing to believe, with yourself, that it is so), a young man of
two-and-twenty is ready to get him assassinated.”

“O Madame, he is incapable of such a deed. I swear to you that he has
refused to adopt it.”

“I have begged you, Marie, to let me speak. I know that he is generous
and loyal. I am willing to believe that, contrary to the custom of
our times, he would not go so far as to kill an old man, as did the
Chevalier de Guise. But can he prevent his assassination, if his troops
make him prisoner? This we can not say, any more than he. God alone
knows the future. It is, at all events, certain that it is for you
he attacks him, and, to overthrow him, is preparing civil war, which
perhaps is bursting forth at the very moment that we speak--a war
without success. Whichever way it turns, it can only effect evil, for
Monsieur is going to abandon the conspiracy.”

“How, Madame?”

“Listen to me. I tell you I am certain of it; I need not explain
myself further. What will the grand ecuyer do? The King, as he rightly
anticipated, has gone to consult the Cardinal. To consult him is to
yield to him; but the treaty of Spain is signed. If it be discovered,
what can Monsieur de Cinq-Mars do? Do not tremble thus. We will save
him; we will save his life, I promise you. There is yet time, I hope.”

“Ah, Madame, you hope! I am lost!” cried Marie, half fainting.

“Let us sit down,” said the Queen; and, placing herself near Marie, at
the entrance to the chamber, she continued:

“Doubtless Monsieur will treat for all the conspirators in treating
for himself; but exile will be the least punishment, perpetual exile.
Behold, then, the Duchesse de Nevers and Mantua, the Princesse Marie
de Gonzaga, the wife of Monsieur Henri d’Effiat, Marquis de Cinq-Mars,
exiled!”

“Well, Madame, I will follow him into exile. It is my duty; I am
his wife!” exclaimed Marie, sobbing. “I would I knew he were already
banished and in safety.”

“Dreams of eighteen!” said the Queen, supporting Marie. “Awake, child,
awake! you must. I deny not the good qualities of Monsieur de Cinq-Mars.
He has a lofty character, a vast mind, and great courage; but he may no
longer be aught for you, and, fortunately, you are not his wife, or even
his betrothed.”

“I am his, Madame-his alone.”

“But without the benediction,” replied Anne of Austria; “in a word,
without marriage. No priest would have dared--not even your own; he told
me so. Be silent!” she added, putting her two beautiful hands on Marie’s
lips. “Be silent! You would say that God heard your vow; that you can
not live without him; that your destinies are inseparable from his; that
death alone can break your union? The phrases of your age, delicious
chimeras of a moment, at which one day you will smile, happy at not
having to lament them all your life. Of the many and brilliant women
you see around me at court, there is not one but at your age had some
beautiful dream of love, like this of yours, who did not form those
ties, which they believed indissoluble, and who did not in secret take
eternal oaths. Well, these dreams are vanished, these knots broken,
these oaths forgotten; and yet you see them happy women and mothers.
Surrounded by the honors of their rank, they laugh and dance every
night. I again divine what you would say--they loved not as you love,
eh? You deceive yourself, my dear child; they loved as much, and wept no
less.

“And here I must make you acquainted with that great mystery which
constitutes your despair, since you are ignorant of the malady that
devours you. We have a twofold existence, ‘m’amie’: our internal life,
that of our feelings powerfully works within us, while the external
life dominates despite ourselves. We are never independent of men,
more especially in an elevated condition. Alone, we think ourselves
mistresses of our destiny; but the entrance of two or three people
fastens on all our chains, by recalling our rank and our retinue.
Nay; shut yourself up and abandon yourself to all the daring and
extraordinary resolutions that the passions may raise up in you, to
the marvellous sacrifices they may suggest to you. A lackey coming and
asking your orders will at once break the charm and bring you back
to your real life. It is this contest between your projects and your
position which destroys you. You are invariably angry with yourself; you
bitterly reproach yourself.”

Marie turned away her head.

“Yes, you believe yourself criminal. Pardon yourself, Marie; all men
are beings so relative and so dependent one upon another that I know not
whether the great retreats of the world that we sometimes see are not
made for the world itself. Despair has its pursuits, and solitude its
coquetry. It is said that the gloomiest hermits can not refrain
from inquiring what men say of them. This need of public opinion is
beneficial, in that it combats, almost always victoriously, that which
is irregular in our imagination, and comes to the aid of duties which
we too easily forget. One experiences (you will feel it, I hope) in
returning to one’s proper lot, after the sacrifice of that which had
diverted the reason, the satisfaction of an exile returning to his
family, of a sick person at sight of the sun after a night afflicted
with frightful dreams.

“It is this feeling of a being returned, as it were, to its natural
state that creates the calm which you see in many eyes that have also
had their tears-for there are few women who have not known tears such as
yours. You would think yourself perjured if you renounced Cinq-Mars! But
nothing binds you; you have more than acquitted yourself toward him by
refusing for more than two years past the royal hands offered you. And,
after all, what has he done, this impassioned lover? He has elevated
himself to reach you; but may not the ambition which here seems to you
to have aided love have made use of that love? This young man seems to
me too profound, too calm in his political stratagems, too independent
in his vast resolutions, in his colossal enterprises, for me to believe
him solely occupied by his tenderness. If you have been but a means
instead of an end, what would you say?”

“I would still love him,” answered Marie. “While he lives, I am his.”

“And while I live,” said the Queen, with firmness, “I will oppose the
alliance.”

At these last words the rain and hail fell violently on the balcony. The
Queen took advantage of the circumstance abruptly to leave the room
and pass into that where the Duchesse de Chevreuse, Mazarin, Madame
de Guemenee, and the Prince-Palatine had been awaiting her for a short
time. The Queen walked up to them. Marie placed herself in the shade of
a curtain in order to conceal the redness of her eyes. She was at first
unwilling to take part in the sprightly conversation; but some words of
it attracted her attention. The Queen was showing to the Princesse de
Guemenee diamonds she had just received from Paris.

“As for this crown, it does not belong to me. The King had it prepared
for the future Queen of Poland. Who that is to be, we know not.” Then
turning toward the Prince-Palatine, “We saw you pass, Prince. Whom were
you going to visit?”

“Mademoiselle la Duchesse de Rohan,” answered the Pole.

The insinuating Mazarin, who availed himself of every opportunity to
worm out secrets, and to make himself necessary by forced confidences,
said, approaching the Queen:

“That comes very apropos, just as we were speaking of the crown of
Poland.”

Marie, who was listening, could not hear this, and said to Madame de
Guemenee, who was at her side:

“Is Monsieur de Chabot, then, King of Poland?”

The Queen heard that, and was delighted at this touch of pride. In
order to develop its germ, she affected an approving attention to the
conversation that ensued.

The Princesse de Guemenee exclaimed:

“Can you conceive such a marriage? We really can’t get it out of our
heads. This same Mademoiselle de Rohan, whom we have seen so haughty,
after having refused the Comte de Soissons, the Duc de Weimar, and the
Duc de Nemours, to marry Monsieur de Chabot, a simple gentleman! ‘Tis
really a sad pity! What are we coming to? ‘Tis impossible to say what it
will all end in.”

“What! can it be true? Love at court! a real love affair! Can it be
believed?”

All this time the Queen continued opening and shutting and playing with
the new crown.

“Diamonds suit only black hair,” she said. “Let us see. Let me put it on
you, Marie. Why, it suits her to admiration!”

“One would suppose it had been made for Madame la Princesse,” said the
Cardinal.

“I would give the last drop of my blood for it to remain on that brow,”
 said the Prince-Palatine.

Marie, through the tears that were still on her cheek, gave an infantine
and involuntary smile, like a ray of sunshine through rain. Then,
suddenly blushing deeply, she hastily took refuge in her apartments.

All present laughed. The Queen followed her with her eyes, smiled,
presented her hand for the Polish ambassador to kiss, and retired to
write a letter.



CHAPTER XXIV. THE WORK

One night, before Perpignan, a very unusual event took place. It was ten
o’clock; and all were asleep. The slow and almost suspended operations
of the siege had rendered the camp and the town inactive. The Spaniards
troubled themselves little about the French, all communication toward
Catalonia being open as in time of peace; and in the French army men’s
minds were agitated with that secret anxiety which precedes great
events.

Yet all was calm; no sound was heard but that of the measured tread of
the sentries. Nothing was seen in the dark night but the red light of
the matches of their guns, always smoking, when suddenly the trumpets
of the musketeers, of the light-horse, and of the men-at-arms sounded
almost simultaneously, “boot and saddle,” and “to horse.” All the
sentinels cried to arms; and the sergeants, with flambeaux, went from
tent to tent, along pike in their hands, to waken the soldiers, range
them in lines, and count them. Some files marched in gloomy silence
along the streets of the camp, and took their position in battle array.
The sound of the mounted squadrons announced that the heavy cavalry were
making the same dispositions. After half an hour of movement the noise
ceased, the torches were extinguished, and all again became calm, but
the army was on foot.

One of the last tents of the camp shone within as a star with flambeaux.
On approaching this little white and transparent pyramid, we might have
distinguished the shadows of two men reflected on the canvas as they
walked to and fro within. Outside several men on horseback were in
attendance; inside were De Thou and Cinq-Mars.

To see the pious and wise De Thou thus up and armed at this hour, you
might have taken him for one of the chiefs of the revolt. But a
closer examination of his serious countenance and mournful expression
immediately showed that he blamed it, and allowed himself to be led into
it and endangered by it from an extraordinary resolution which aided
him to surmount the horror he had of the enterprise itself. From the day
when Henri d’Effiat had opened his heart and confided to him its whole
secret, he had seen clearly that all remonstrance was vain with a young
man so powerfully resolved.

De Thou had even understood what M. de Cinq-Mars had not told him, and
had seen in the secret union of his friend with the Princesse Marie, one
of those ties of love whose mysterious and frequent faults, voluptuous
and involuntary derelictions, could not be too soon purified by public
benediction. He had comprehended that punishment, impossible to be
supported long by a lover, the adored master of that young girl, and
who was condemned daily to appear before her as a stranger, to receive
political disclosures of marriages they were preparing for her. The day
when he received his entire confession, he had done all in his power to
prevent Cinq-Mars going so far in his projects as the foreign alliance.
He had evoked the gravest recollections and the best feelings, without
any other result than rendering the invincible resolution of his friend
more rude toward him. Cinq-Mars, it will be recollected, had said to him
harshly, “Well, did I ask you to take part in this conspiracy?” And he
had desired only to promise not to denounce it; and he had collected all
his power against friendship to say, “Expect nothing further from me if
you sign this treaty.” Yet Cinq-Mars had signed the treaty; and De Thou
was still there with him.

The habit of familiarly discussing the projects of his friend had
perhaps rendered them less odious to him. His contempt for the vices of
the Prime-Minister; his indignation at the servitude of the parliaments
to which his family belonged, and at the corruption of justice; the
powerful names, and more especially the noble characters of the men who
directed the enterprise--all had contributed to soften down his first
painful impression. Having once promised secrecy to M. de Cinq-Mars,
he considered himself as in a position to accept in detail all the
secondary disclosures; and since the fortuitous event which had
compromised him with the conspirators at the house of Marion de Lorme,
he considered himself united to them by honor, and engaged to an
inviolable secrecy. Since that time he had seen Monsieur, the Duc de
Bouillon, and Fontrailles; they had become accustomed to speak before
him without constraint, and he to hear them.

The dangers which threatened his friend now drew him into their vortex
like an invincible magnet. His conscience accused him; but he followed
Cinq-Mars wherever he went without even, from excess of delicacy,
hazarding a single expression which might resemble a personal fear. He
had tacitly given up his life, and would have deemed it unworthy of both
to manifest a desire to regain it.

The master of the horse was in his cuirass; he was armed, and wore large
boots. An enormous pistol, with a lighted match, was placed upon his
table between two flambeaux. A heavy watch in a brass case lay near the
pistol. De Thou, wrapped in a black cloak, sat motionless with folded
arms. Cinq-Mars paced backward and forward, his arms crossed behind his
back, from time to time looking at the hand of the watch, too sluggish
in his eyes. He opened the tent, looked up to the heavens, and returned.

“I do not see my star there,” said he; “but no matter. She is here in my
heart.”

“The night is dark,” said De Thou.

“Say rather that the time draws nigh. It advances, my friend; it
advances. Twenty minutes more, and all will be accomplished. The army
only waits the report of this pistol to begin.”

De Thou held in his hand an ivory crucifix, and looking first at the
cross, and then toward heaven, “Now,” said he, “is the hour to complete
the sacrifice. I repent not; but oh, how bitter is the cup of sin to my
lips! I had vowed my days to innocence and to the works of the soul, and
here I am about to commit a crime, and to draw the sword.”

But forcibly seizing the hand of Cinq-Mars, “It is for you, for you!” he
added with the enthusiasm of a blindly devoted heart. “I rejoice in my
errors if they turn to your glory. I see but your happiness in my fault.
Forgive me if I have returned for a moment to the habitual thought of my
whole life.”

Cinq-Mars looked steadfastly at him; and a tear stole slowly down his
cheek.

“Virtuous friend,” said he, “may your fault fall only on my head! But
let us hope that God, who pardons those who love, will be for us; for we
are criminal--I through love, you through friendship.”

Then suddenly looking at the watch, he took the long pistol in his hand,
and gazed at the smoking match with a fierce air. His long hair fell
over his face like the mane of a young lion.

“Do not consume,” said he; “burn slowly. Thou art about to light a flame
which the waves of ocean can not extinguish. The flame will soon light
half Europe; it may perhaps reach the wood of thrones. Burn slowly,
precious flame! The winds which fan thee are violent and fearful; they
are love and hatred. Reserve thyself! Thy explosion will be heard afar,
and will find echoes in the peasant’s but and the king’s palace.

“Burn, burn, poor flame! Thou art to me a sceptre and a thunderbolt!”

De Thou, still holding his ivory crucifix in his hand, said in a low
voice:

“Lord, pardon us the blood that will be shed! We combat the wicked and
the impious.” Then, raising his voice, “My friend, the cause of virtue
will triumph,” he said; “it alone will triumph. God has ordained that
the guilty treaty should not reach us; that which constituted the
crime is no doubt destroyed. We shall fight without the foreigners,
and perhaps we shall not fight at all. God will change the heart of the
king.”

“‘Tis the hour! ‘tis the hour!” exclaimed Cinq-Mars, his eyes fixed
upon the watch with a kind of savage joy; “four minutes more, and the
Cardinalists in the camp will be crushed! We shall march upon Narbonne!
He is there! Give me the pistol!”

At these words he hastily opened the tent, and took up the match.

“A courier from Paris! an express from court!” cried a voice outside, as
a man, heated with hard riding and overcome with fatigue, threw himself
from his horse, entered, and presented a letter to Cinq-Mars.

“From the Queen, Monseigneur,” he said. Cinq-Mars turned pale, and read
as follows:

   M. DE CINQ-MARS: I write this letter to entreat and conjure you to
   restore to her duties our well-beloved adopted daughter and friend,
   the Princesse Marie de Gonzaga, whom your affection alone turns from
   the throne of Poland, which has been offered to her. I have sounded
   her heart. She is very young, and I have good reason to believe
   that she would accept the crown with less effort and less grief than
   you may perhaps imagine.

   It is for her you have undertaken a war which will put to fire and
   sword my beautiful and beloved France. I supplicate and implore you
   to act as a gentleman, and nobly to release the Duchesse de Mantua
   from the promises she may have made you. Thus restore repose to her
   soul, and peace to our beloved country.

   The Queen, who will throw herself at your feet if need be,

                         ANNE.

Cinq-Mars calmly replaced the pistol upon the table; his first impulse
had been to turn its muzzle upon himself. However, he laid it down, and
snatching a pencil, wrote on the back of the letter;

   MADAME: Marie de Gonzaga, being my wife, can not be Queen of Poland
   until after my death. I die.

                         CINQ-MARS.

Then, as if he would not allow himself time for a moment’s reflection,
he forced the letter into the hands of the courier.

“To horse! to horse!” cried he, in a furious tone. “If you remain
another instant, you are a dead man!”

He saw him gallop off, and reentered the tent. Alone with his friend, he
remained an instant standing, but pale, his eyes fixed, and looking on
the ground like a madman. He felt himself totter.

“De Thou!” he cried.

“What would you, my friend, my dear friend? I am with you. You have
acted grandly, most grandly, sublimely!”

“De Thou!” he cried again, in a hollow voice, and fell with his face to
the ground, like an uprooted tree.

Violent tempests assume different aspects, according to the climates in
which they take place. Those which have spread over a terrible space
in northern countries assemble into one single cloud under the torrid
zone--the more formidable, that they leave the horizon in all its
purity, and that the furious waves still reflect the azure of heaven
while tinged with the blood of man. It is the same with great passions.
They assume strange aspects according to our characters; but how
terrible are they in vigorous hearts, which have preserved their force
under the veil of social forms? When youth and despair embrace, we know
not to what fury they may rise, or what may be their sudden resignation;
we know not whether the volcano will burst the mountain or become
suddenly extinguished within its entrails.

De Thou, in alarm, raised his friend. The blood gushed from his nostrils
and ears; he would have thought him dead, but for the torrents of tears
which flowed from his eyes. They were the only sign of life. Suddenly
he opened his lids, looked around him, and by an extraordinary energy
resumed his senses and the power of his will.

“I am in the presence of men,” said he; “I must finish with them. My
friend, it is half-past eleven; the hour for the signal has passed.
Give, in my name, the order to return to quarters. It was a false alarm,
which I will myself explain this evening.”

De Thou had already perceived the importance of this order; he went out
and returned immediately.

He found Cinq-Mars seated, calm, and endeavoring to cleanse the blood
from his face.

“De Thou,” said he, looking fixedly at him, “retire; you disturb me.”

“I leave you not,” answered the latter.

“Fly, I tell you! the Pyrenees are not far distant. I can not speak much
longer, even to you; but if you remain with me, you will die. I give you
warning.”

“I remain,” repeated De Thou.

“May God preserve you, then!” answered Cinq-Mars, “for I can do nothing
more; the moment has passed. I leave you here. Call Fontrailles and all
the confederates: distribute these passports among them. Let them fly
immediately; tell them all has failed, but that I thank them. For you,
once again I say, fly with them, I entreat you; but whatever you do,
follow me not--follow me not, for your life! I swear to you not to do
violence to myself!”

With these words, shaking his friend’s hand without looking at him, he
rushed from the tent.

Meantime, some leagues thence another conversation was taking place.
At Narbonne, in the same cabinet in which we formerly beheld Richelieu
regulating with Joseph the interests of the State, were still seated the
same men, nearly as we have described them. The minister, however, had
grown much older in three years of suffering; and the Capuchin was as
much terrified with the result of his expedition as his master appeared
tranquil.

The Cardinal, seated in his armchair, his legs bound and encased
with furs and warm clothing, had upon his knees three kittens, which
gambolled upon his scarlet robe. Every now and then he took one of them
and placed it upon the others, to continue their sport. He smiled as
he watched them. On his feet lay their mother, looking like an enormous
animated muff.

Joseph, seated near him, was going over the account of all he had heard
in the confessional. Pale even now, at the danger he had run of being
discovered, or of being murdered by Jacques, he concluded thus:

“In short, your Eminence, I can not help feeling agitated to my heart’s
core when I reflect upon the dangers which have, and still do, threaten
you. Assassins offer themselves to poniard you. I beheld in France
the whole court against you, one half of the army, and two provinces.
Abroad, Spain and Portugal are ready to furnish troops. Everywhere there
are snares or battles, poniards or cannon.”

The Cardinal yawned three times, without discontinuing his amusement,
and then said:

“A cat is a very fine animal. It is a drawing-room tiger. What
suppleness, what extraordinary finesse! Here is this little yellow one
pretending to sleep, in order that the tortoise-shell one may not notice
it, but fall upon its brother; and this one, how it tears the other! See
how it sticks its claws into its side! It would kill and eat it, I
fully believe, if it were the stronger. It is very amusing. What pretty
animals!”

He coughed and sneezed for some time; then he continued:

“Messire Joseph, I sent word to you not to speak to me of business until
after my supper... I have an appetite now, and it is not yet my hour.
Chicot, my doctor, recommends regularity, and I feel my usual pain in my
side. This is how I shall spend the evening,” he added, looking at the
clock. “At nine, we will settle the affairs of Monsieur le Grand. At
ten, I shall be carried round the garden to take the air by moonlight.
Then I shall sleep for an hour or two. At midnight the King will be
here; and at four o’clock you may return to receive the various orders
for arrests, condemnations, or any others I may have to give you, for
the provinces, Paris, or the armies of his Majesty.”

Richelieu said all this in the same tone of voice, with a uniform
enunciation, affected only by the weakness of his chest and the loss of
several teeth.

It was seven in the evening. The Capuchin withdrew. The Cardinal supped
with the greatest tranquillity; and when the clock struck half-past
eight, he sent for Joseph, and said to him, when he was seated:

“This, then, is all they have been able to do against me during more
than two years. They are poor creatures, truly! The Duc de Bouillon,
whom I thought possessed some ability, has forfeited all claim to my
opinion. I have watched him closely; and I ask you, has he taken one
step worthy of a true statesman? The King, Monsieur, and the rest,
have only shown their teeth against me, and without depriving me of one
single man. The young Cinq-Mars is the only man among them who has
any consecutiveness of ideas. All that he has done has been done
surprisingly well. I must do him justice; he had good qualities.
I should have made him my pupil, had it not been for his obstinate
character. But he has here charged me ‘a l’outrance, and must take the
consequences. I am sorry for him. I have left them to float about in
open water for the last two years. I shall now draw the net.”

“It is time, Monseigneur,” said Joseph, who often trembled involuntarily
as he spoke. “Do you bear in mind that from Perpignan to Narbonne the
way is short? Do you know that if your army here is powerful, your own
troops are weak and uncertain; that the young nobles are furious; and
that the King is not sure?”

The Cardinal looked at the clock.

“It is only half-past eight, Joseph. I have already told you that I
will not talk about this affair until nine. Meantime, as justice must be
done, you will write what I shall dictate, for my memory serves me well.
There are still some objectionable persons left, I see by my notes--four
of the judges of Urbain Grandier. He was a rare genius, that Urbain
Grandier,” he added, with a malicious expression. Joseph bit his lips.
“All the other judges have died miserably. As to Houmain, he shall be
hanged as a smuggler by and by. We may leave him alone for the present.
But there is that horrible Lactantius, who lives peacefully, Barre, and
Mignon. Take a pen, and write to the Bishop of Poitiers,

   “MONSEIGNEUR: It is his Majesty’s pleasure that Fathers Mignon and
   Barre be superseded in their cures, and sent with the shortest
   possible delay to the town of Lyons, with Father Lactantius,
   Capuchin, to be tried before a special tribunal, charged with
   criminal intentions against the State.”

Joseph wrote as coolly as a Turk strikes off a head at a sign from his
master. The Cardinal said to him, while signing the letter:

“I will let you know how I wish them to disappear, for it is important
to efface all traces of that affair. Providence has served me well.
In removing these men, I complete its work. That is all that posterity
shall know of the affair.”

And he read to the Capuchin that page of his memoirs in which he
recounts the possession and sorceries of the magician.--[Collect. des
Memoires xxviii. 189.]--During this slow process, Joseph could not help
looking at the clock.

“You are anxious to come to Monsieur le Grand,” said the Cardinal at
last. “Well, then, to please you, let us begin.”

“Do you think I have not my reasons for being tranquil? You think that
I have allowed these poor conspirators to go too far. No, no! Here are
some little papers that would reassure you, did you know their contents.
First, in this hollow stick is the treaty with Spain, seized at Oleron.
I am well satisfied with Laubardemont; he is an able man.”

The fire of ferocious jealousy sparkled under the thick eyebrows of the
monk.

“Ah, Monseigneur,” said he, “you know not from whom he seized it. He
certainly suffered him to die, and in that respect we can not complain,
for he was the agent of the conspiracy; but it was his son.”

“Say you the truth?” cried the Cardinal, in a severe tone. “Yes, for you
dare not lie to me. How knew you this?”

“From his attendants, Monsiegneur. Here are their reports. They will
testify to them.”

The Cardinal having examined these papers, said:

“We will employ him once more to try our conspirators, and then you
shall do as you like with him. I give him to you.”

Joseph joyfully pocketed his precious denunciations, and continued:

“Your Eminence speaks of trying men who are still armed and on
horseback.”

“They are not all so. Read this letter from Monsieur to Chavigny. He
asks for pardon. He dared not address me the first day, and his prayers
rose no higher than the knees of one of my servants.

   To M. de Chavigny:

   M. DE CHAVIGNY: Although I believe that you are little satisfied
   with me (and in truth you have reason to be dissatisfied), I do not
   the less entreat you to endeavor my reconciliation with his
   Eminence, and rely for this upon the true love you bear me, and
   which, I believe, is greater than your anger. You know how much I
   require to be relieved from the danger I am in. You have already
   twice stood my friend with his Eminence. I swear to you this shall
   be the last time I give you such an employment.
                       GASTON D’ORLEANS.

“But the next day he took courage, and sent this to myself,

   To his Excellency the Cardinal-Duc:

   MY COUSIN: This ungrateful M. le Grand is the most guilty man in the
   world to have displeased you. The favors he received from his
   Majesty have always made me doubtful of him and his artifices. For
   you, my cousin, I retain my whole esteem. I am truly repentant at
   having again been wanting in the fidelity I owe to my Lord the King,
   and I call God to witness the sincerity with which I shall be for
   the rest of my life your most faithful friend, with the same
   devotion that I am, my cousin, your affectionate cousin,
                              GASTON.

and the third to the King. His project choked him; he could not keep
it down. But I am not so easily satisfied. I must have a free and full
confession, or I will expel him from the kingdom. I have written to him
this morning.

   [MONSIEUR: Since God wills that men should have recourse to a frank
   and entire confession to be absolved of their faults in this world,
   I indicate to you the steps you must take to be delivered from this
   danger. Your Highness has commenced well; you must continue. This
   is all I can say to you.]

“As to the magnificent and powerful Due de Bouillon, sovereign lord
of Sedan and general-in-chief of the armies in Italy, he has just been
arrested by his officers in the midst of his soldiers, concealed in a
truss of straw. There remain, therefore, only our two young neighbors.
They imagine they have the camp wholly at their orders, while they
really have only the red troops. All the rest, being Monsieur’s men,
will not act, and my troops will arrest them. However, I have permitted
them to appear to obey. If they give the signal at half-past eleven,
they will be arrested at the first step. If not, the King will give them
up to me this evening. Do not open your eyes so wide. He will give them
up to me, I repeat, this night, between midnight and one o’clock. You
see that all has been done without you, Joseph. We can dispense with you
very well; and truly, all this time, I do not see that we have received
any great service from you. You grow negligent.”

“Ah, Monseigneur! did you but know the trouble I have had to discover
the route of the bearers of the treaty! I only learned it by risking my
life between these young people.”

The Cardinal laughed contemptuously, leaning back in his chair.

“Thou must have been very ridiculous and very fearful in that box,
Joseph; I dare say it was the first time in thy life thou ever heardst
love spoken of. Dost thou like the language, Father Joseph? Tell me,
dost thou clearly understand it? I doubt whether thou hast formed a very
refined idea of it.”

Richelieu, his arms crossed, looked at his discomfited Capuchin with
infinite delight, and continued in the scornfully familiar tone of
a grand seigneur, which he sometimes assumed, pleasing himself with
putting forth the noblest expressions through the most impure lips:

“Come, now, Joseph, give me a definition of love according to thy idea.
What can it be--for thou seest it exists out of romances. This worthy
youngster undertook these little conspiracies through love. Thou heardst
it thyself with throe unworthy ears. Come, what is love? For my part, I
know nothing about it.”

The monk was astounded, and looked upon the ground with the stupid eye
of some base animal. After long consideration, he replied in a drawling
and nasal voice:

“It must be a kind of malignant fever which leads the brain astray; but
in truth, Monseigneur, I have never reflected on it until this moment. I
have always been embarrassed in speaking to a woman. I wish women could
be omitted from society altogether; for I do not see what use they are,
unless it be to disclose secrets, like the little Duchess or Marion
de Lorme, whom I can not too strongly recommend to your Eminence. She
thought of everything, and herself threw our little prophecy among the
conspirators with great address. We have not been without the marvellous
this time. As in the siege of Hesdin, all we have to do is to find a
window through which you may pass on the day of the execution.”

   [In 1638, Prince Thomas having raised the siege of Hesdin, the
   Cardinal was much vexed at it. A nun of the convent of Mount
   Calvary had said that the victory would be to the King and Father
   Joseph, thus wishing it to be believed that Heaven protected the
   minister.--Memoires pour l’histoire du Cardinal de Richelieu.]

“This is another of your absurdities, sir,” said the Cardinal; “you will
make me as ridiculous as yourself, if you go on so; I am too powerful
to need the assistance of Heaven. Do not let that happen again. Occupy
yourself only with the people I consign to you. I traced your part
before. When the master of the horse is taken, you will see him tried
and executed at Lyons. I will not be known in this. This affair is
beneath me; it is a stone under my feet, upon which I ought not to have
bestowed so much attention.”

Joseph was silent; he could not understand this man, who, surrounded on
every side by armed enemies, spoke of the future as of a present over
which he had the entire control, and of the present as a past which he
no longer feared. He knew not whether to look upon him as a madman or a
prophet, above or below the standard of human nature.

His astonishment was redoubled when Chavigny hastily entered, and nearly
falling, in his heavy boots, over the Cardinal’s footstool, exclaimed in
great agitation:

“Sir, one of your servants has just arrived from Perpignan; and he has
beheld the camp in an uproar, and your enemies in the saddle.”

“They will soon dismount, sir,” replied Richelieu, replacing his
footstool. “You appear to have lost your equanimity.”

“But--but, Monseigneur, must we not warn Monsieur de Fabert?”

“Let him sleep, and go to bed yourself; and you also, Joseph.”

“Monseigneur, another strange event has occurred--the King has arrived.”

“Indeed, that is extraordinary,” said the minister, looking at his
watch. “I did not expect him these two hours. Retire, both of you.”

A heavy trampling and the clattering of arms announced the arrival
of the Prince; the folding-doors were thrown open; the guards in the
Cardinal’s service struck the ground thrice with their pikes; and the
King appeared.

He entered, supporting himself with a cane on one side, and on the
other leaning upon the shoulder of his confessor, Father Sirmond,
who withdrew, and left him with the Cardinal; the latter rose with
difficulty, but could not advance a step to meet the King, because his
legs were bandaged and enveloped. He made a sign that they should assist
the King to a seat near the fire, facing himself. Louis XIII fell into
an armchair furnished with pillows, asked for and drank a glass of
cordial, prepared to strengthen him against the frequent fainting-fits
caused by his malady of languor, signed to all to leave the room, and,
alone with Richelieu, he said in a languid voice:

“I am departing, my dear Cardinal; I feel that I shall soon return
to God. I become weaker from day to day; neither the summer nor the
southern air has restored my strength.”

“I shall precede your Majesty,” replied the minister. “You see that
death has already conquered my limbs; but while I have a head to think
and a hand to write, I shall be at the service of your Majesty.”

“And I am sure it was your intention to add, ‘a heart to love me.’”

“Can your Majesty doubt it?” answered the Cardinal, frowning, and biting
his lips impatiently at this speech.

“Sometimes I doubt it,” replied the King. “Listen: I wish to speak
openly to you, and to complain of you to yourself. There are two things
which have been upon my conscience these three years. I have never
mentioned them to you; but I reproached you secretly; and could anything
have induced me to consent to any proposals contrary to your interest,
it would be this recollection.”

There was in this speech that frankness natural to weak minds, who seek
by thus making their ruler uneasy, to compensate for the harm they dare
not do him, and revenge their subjection by a childish controversy.

Richelieu perceived by these words that he had run a great risk; but he
saw at the same time the necessity of venting all his spleen, and, to
facilitate the explosion of these important avowals, he accumulated all
the professions he thought most calculated to provoke the King.

“No, no!” his Majesty at length exclaimed, “I shall believe nothing
until you have explained those two things, which are always in my
thoughts, which were lately mentioned to me, and which I can justify by
no reasoning. I mean the trial of Urbain Grandier, of which I was never
well informed, and the reason for the hatred you bore to my unfortunate
mother, even to her very ashes.”

“Is this all, Sire?” said Richelieu. “Are these my only faults? They
are easily explained. The first it was necessary to conceal from your
Majesty because of its horrible and disgusting details of scandal. There
was certainly an art employed, which can not be looked upon as guilty,
in concealing, under the title of ‘magic,’ crimes the very names of
which are revolting to modesty, the recital of which would have revealed
dangerous mysteries to the innocent; this was a holy deceit practised to
hide these impurities from the eyes of the people.”

“Enough, enough, Cardinal,” said Louis XIII, turning away his head, and
looking downward, while a blush covered his face; “I can not hear more.
I understand you; these explanations would disgust me. I approve your
motives; ‘tis well. I had not been told that; they had concealed these
dreadful vices from me. Are you assured of the proofs of these crimes?”

“I have them all in my possession, Sire; and as to the glorious Queen,
Marie de Medicis, I am surprised that your Majesty can forget how much I
was attached to her. Yes, I do not fear to acknowledge it; it is to her
I owe my elevation. She was the first who deigned to notice the Bishop
of Luton, then only twenty-two years of age, to place me near her.
What have I not suffered when she compelled me to oppose her in your
Majesty’s interest! But this sacrifice was made for you. I never had,
and never shall have, to regret it.”

“‘Tis well for you, but for me!” said the King, bitterly.

“Ah, Sire,” exclaimed the Cardinal, “did not the Son of God himself set
you an example? It is by the model of every perfection that we regulate
our counsels; and if the monument due to the precious remains of your
mother is not yet raised, Heaven is my witness that the works were
retarded through the fear of afflicting your heart by bringing back the
recollection of her death. But blessed be the day in which I have been
permitted to speak to you on the subject! I myself shall say the
first mass at Saint-Denis, when we shall see her deposited there, if
Providence allows me the strength.”

The countenance of the King assumed a more affable yet still cold
expression; and the Cardinal, thinking that he could go no farther that
evening in persuasion, suddenly resolved to make a more powerful move,
and to attack the enemy in front. Still keeping his eyes firmly fixed
upon the King, he said, coldly:

“And was it for this you consented to my death?”

“Me!” said the King. “You have been deceived; I have indeed heard of a
conspiracy, and I wished to speak to you about it; but I have commanded
nothing against you.”

“‘The conspirators do not say so, Sire; but I am bound to believe your
Majesty, and I am glad for your sake that men were deceived. But what
advice were you about to condescend to give me?”

“I--I wished to tell you frankly, and between ourselves, that you will
do well to beware of Monsieur--”

“Ah, Sire, I can not now heed it; for here is a letter which he has
just sent to me for you. He seems to have been guilty even toward your
Majesty.”

The King read in astonishment:

   MONSEIGNEUR: I am much grieved at having once more failed in the
   fidelity which I owe to your Majesty. I humbly entreat you to allow
   me to ask a thousand pardons, with the assurances of my submission
   and repentance.
        Your very humble servant,
                    GASTON.

“What does this mean?” cried Louis; “dare they arm against me also?”

“Also!” muttered the Cardinal, biting his lips; “yes, Sire, also;
and this makes me believe, to a certain degree, this little packet of
papers.”

While speaking, he drew a roll of parchment from a piece of hollowed
elder, and opened it before the eyes of the King.

“This is simply a treaty with Spain, which I think does not bear the
signature of your Majesty. You may see the twenty articles all in due
form. Everything is here arranged--the place of safety, the number of
troops, the supplies of men and money.”

“The traitors!” cried the King, in great agitation; “they must be
seized. My brother renounces them and repents; but do not fail to arrest
the Duc de Bouillon.”

“It shall be done, Sire.”

“That will be difficult, in the middle of the army in Italy.”

“I will answer with my head for his arrest, Sire; but is there not
another name to be added?”

“Who--what--Cinq-Mars?” inquired the King, hesitating.

“Exactly so, Sire,” answered the Cardinal.

“I see--but--I think--we might--”

“Hear me!” exclaimed Richelieu, in a voice of thunder; “all must be
settled to-day. Your favorite is mounted at the head of his party;
choose between him and me. Yield up the boy to the man, or the man to
the boy; there is no alternative.”

“And what will you do if I consent?” said the King.

“I will have his head and that of his friend.”

“Never! it is impossible!” replied the King, with horror, as he relapsed
into the same state of irresolution he evinced when with Cinq-Mars
against Richelieu. “He is my friend as well as you; my heart bleeds at
the idea of his death. Why can you not both agree? Why this division?
It is that which has led him to this. You have between you brought me to
the brink of despair; you have made me the most miserable of men.”

Louis hid his head in his hands while speaking, and perhaps he shed
tears; but the inflexible minister kept his eyes upon him as if
watching his prey, and without remorse, without giving the King time
for reflection--on the contrary, profiting by this emotion to speak yet
longer.

“And is it thus,” he continued, in a harsh and cold voice, “that you
remember the commandments of God communicated to you by the mouth of
your confessor? You told me one day that the Church expressly commanded
you to reveal to your prime minister all that you might hear against
him; yet I have never heard from you of my intended death! It was
necessary that more faithful friends should apprise me of this
conspiracy; that the guilty themselves through the mercy of Providence
should themselves make the avowal of their fault. One only, the most
guilty, yet the least of all, still resists, and it is he who has
conducted the whole; it is he who would deliver France into the power of
the foreigner, who would overthrow in one single day my labors of twenty
years. He would call up the Huguenots of the south, invite to arms all
orders of the State, revive crushed pretensions, and, in fact, renew
the League which was put down by your father. It is that--do not deceive
yourself--it is that which raises so many heads against you. Are you
prepared for the combat? If so, where are your arms?”

The King, quite overwhelmed, made no reply; he still covered his
face with his hands. The stony-hearted Cardinal crossed his arms and
continued:

“I fear that you imagine it is for myself I speak. Do you really think
that I do not know my own powers, and that I fear such an adversary?
Really, I know not what prevents me from letting you act for
yourself--from transferring the immense burden of State affairs to the
shoulders of this youth. You may imagine that during the twenty years
I have been acquainted with your court, I have not forgotten to assure
myself a retreat where, in spite of you, I could now go to live the
six months which perhaps remain to me of life. It would be a curious
employment for me to watch the progress of such a reign. What answer
would you return, for instance, when all the inferior potentates,
regaining their station, no longer kept in subjection by me, shall come
in your brother’s name to say to you, as they dared to say to Henri
IV on his throne: ‘Divide with us all the hereditary governments
and sovereignties, and we shall be content.’--[Memoires de Sully,
1595.]--You will doubtless accede to their request; and it is the least
you can do for those who will have delivered you from Richelieu. It
will, perhaps, be fortunate, for to govern the Ile-de-France, which they
will no doubt allow you as the original domain, your new minister will
not require many secretaries.”

While speaking thus, he furiously pushed the huge table, which nearly
filled the room, and was laden with papers and numerous portfolios.

Louis was aroused from his apathetic meditation by the excessive
audacity of this discourse. He raised his head, and seemed to have
instantly formed one resolution for fear he should adopt another.

“Well, sir,” said he, “my answer is that I will reign alone.”

“Be it so!” replied Richelieu. “But I ought to give you notice that
affairs are at present somewhat complicated. This is the hour when I
generally commence my ordinary avocations.”

“I will act in your place,” said Louis. “I will open the portfolios and
issue my commands.”

“Try, then,” said Richelieu. “I shall retire; and if anything causes you
to hesitate, you can send for me.”

He rang a bell. In the same instant, and as if they had awaited the
signal, four vigorous footmen entered, and carried him and his chair
into another apartment, for we have before remarked that he was unable
to walk. While passing through the chambers where the secretaries were
at work, he called out in a loud voice:

“You will receive his Majesty’s commands.”

The King remained alone, strong in his new resolution, and, proud in
having once resisted, he became anxious immediately to plunge into
political business. He walked around the immense table, and beheld as
many portfolios as they then counted empires, kingdoms, and States in
Europe. He opened one and found it divided into sections equalling in
number the subdivisions of the country to which it related. All was in
order, but in alarming order for him, because each note only referred to
the very essence of the business it alluded to, and related only to
the exact point of its then relations with France. These laconic notes
proved as enigmatic to Louis, as did the letters in cipher which
covered the table. Here all was confusion. An edict of banishment and
expropriation of the Huguenots of La Rochelle was mingled with treaties
with Gustavus Adolphus and the Huguenots of the north against the
empire. Notes on General Bannier and Wallenstein, the Duc de Weimar,
and Jean de Witt were mingled with extracts from letters taken from
the casket of the Queen, the list of the necklaces and jewels they
contained, and the double interpretation which might be put upon
every phrase of her notes. Upon the margin of one of these letters was
written: “For four lines in a man’s handwriting he might be criminally
tried.” Farther on were scattered denunciations against the Huguenots;
the republican plans they had drawn up; the division of France into
departments under the annual dictatorship of a chief. The seal of this
projected State was affixed to it, representing an angel leaning upon a
cross, and holding in his hand a Bible, which he raised to his forehead.
By the side was a document which contained a list of those cardinals
the pope had selected the same day as the Bishop of Lurgon (Richelieu).
Among them was to be found the Marquis de Bedemar, ambassador and
conspirator at Venice.

Louis XIII exhausted his powers in vain over the details of another
period, seeking unsuccessfully for any documents which might allude to
the present conspiracy, to enable him to perceive its true meaning, and
all that had been attempted against him, when a diminutive man, of an
olive complexion, who stooped much, entered the cabinet with a measured
step. This was a Secretary of State named Desnoyers. He advanced,
bowing.

“May I be permitted to address your Majesty on the affairs of Portugal?”
 said he.

“And consequently of Spain?” said Louis. “Portugal is a province of
Spain.”

“Of Portugal,” reiterated Desnoyers. “Here is the manifesto we have this
moment received.” And he read, “Don John, by the grace of God, King of
Portugal and of Algarves, kingdoms on this side of Africa, lord over
Guinea, by conquest, navigation, and trade with Arabia, Persia, and the
Indies--”

“What is all that?” said the King. “Who talks in this manner?”

“The Duke of Braganza, King of Portugal, crowned already some time by
a man whom they call Pinto. Scarcely has he ascended the throne than he
offers assistance to the revolted Catalonians.”

“Has Catalonia also revolted? The King, Philip IV, no longer has the
Count-Duke for his Prime-Minister?”

“Just the contrary, Sire. It is on this very account. Here is the
declaration of the States-General of Catalonia to his Catholic Majesty,
signifying that the whole country will take up arms against his
sacrilegious and excommunicated troops. The King of Portugal--”

“Say the Duke of Braganza!” replied Louis. “I recognize no rebels.”

“The Duke of Braganza, then,” coldly repeated the Secretary of State,
“sends his nephew, Don Ignacio de Mascarenas, to the principality of
Catalonia, to seize the protection (and it may be the sovereignty) of
that country, which he would add to that he has just reconquered. Your
Majesty’s troops are before Perpignan--”

“Well, and what of that?” said Louis.

“The Catalonians are more disposed toward France than toward Portugal,
and there is still time to deprive the King of-the Duke of Portugal, I
should say--of this protectorship.”

“What! I assist rebels! You dare--”

“Such was the intention of his Eminence,” continued the Secretary of
State. “Spain and France are nearly at open war, and Monsieur d’Olivares
has not hesitated to offer the assistance of his Catholic Majesty to the
Huguenots.”

“Very good. I will consider it,” said the King. “Leave me.”

“Sire, the States-General of Catalonia are in a dilemma. The troops from
Aragon march against them.”

“We shall see. I will come to a decision in a quarter of an hour,”
 answered Louis XIII.

The little Secretary of State left the apartment discontented and
discouraged. In his place Chavigny immediately appeared, holding a
portfolio, on which were emblazoned the arms of England. “Sire,” said
he, “I have to request your Majesty’s commands upon the affairs of
England. The Parliamentarians, commanded by the Earl of Essex, have
raised the siege of Gloucester. Prince Rupert has at Newbury fought a
disastrous battle, and of little profit to his Britannic Majesty. The
Parliament is prolonged. All the principal cities take part with it,
together with all the seaports and the Presbyterian population. King
Charles I implores assistance, which the Queen can no longer obtain from
Holland.”

“Troops must be sent to my brother of England,” said Louis; but he
wanted to look over the preceding papers, and casting his eyes over the
notes of the Cardinal, he found that under a former request of the King
of England he had written with his own hand:

“We must consider some time and wait. The Commons are strong. King
Charles reckons upon the Scots; they will sell him.

“We must be cautious. A warlike man has been over to see Vincennes,
and he has said that ‘princes ought never to be struck, except on the
head.’”

The Cardinal had added “remarkable,” but he had erased this word and
substituted “formidable.” Again, beneath:

“This man rules Fairfax. He plays an inspired part. He will be a great
man--assistance refused--money lost.”

The King then said, “No, no! do nothing hastily. I shall wait.”

“But, Sire,” said Chavigny, “events pass rapidly. If the courier be
delayed, the King’s destruction may happen a year sooner.”

“Have they advanced so far?” asked Louis.

“In the camp of the Independents they preach up the republic with
the Bible in their hands. In that of the Royalists, they dispute for
precedency, and amuse themselves.”

“But one turn of good fortune may save everything?”

“The Stuarts are not fortunate, Sire,” answered Chavigny, respectfully,
but in a tone which left ample room for consideration.

“Leave me,” said the King, with some displeasure.

The State-Secretary slowly retired.

It was then that Louis XIII beheld himself as he really was, and was
terrified at the nothingness he found in himself. He at first stared at
the mass of papers which surrounded him, passing from one to the other,
finding dangers on every side, and finding them still greater with the
remedies he invented. He rose; and changing his place, he bent over, or
rather threw himself upon, a geographical map of Europe. There he found
all his fears concentrated. In the north, the south, the very centre
of the kingdom, revolutions appeared to him like so many Eumenides.
In every country he thought he saw a volcano ready to burst forth. He
imagined he heard cries of distress from kings, who appealed to him for
help, and the furious shouts of the populace. He fancied he felt the
territory of France trembling and crumbling beneath his feet. His feeble
and fatigued sight failed him. His weak head was attacked by vertigo,
which threw all his blood back upon his heart.

“Richelieu!” he cried, in a stifled voice, while he rang a bell; “summon
the Cardinal immediately.”

And he swooned in an armchair.

When the King opened his eyes, revived by salts and potent essences
which had been applied to his lips and temples, he for one instant
beheld himself surrounded by pages, who withdrew as soon as he opened
his eyes, and he was once more left alone with the Cardinal. The
impassible minister had had his chair placed by that of the King, as a
physician would seat himself by the bedside of his patient, and fixed
his sparkling and scrutinizing eyes upon the pale countenance of Louis.
As soon as his victim could hear him, he renewed his fearful discourse
in a hollow voice:

“You have recalled me. What would you with me?”

Louis, who was reclining on the pillow, half opened his eyes, fixed them
upon Richelieu, and hastily closed them again. That bony head, armed
with two flaming eyes, and terminating in a pointed and grizzly beard,
the cap and vestments of the color of blood and flames,--all appeared to
him like an infernal spirit.

“You must reign,” he said, in a languid voice.

“But will you give me up Cinq-Mars and De Thou?” again urged the
implacable minister, bending forward to read in the dull eyes of the
Prince, as an avaricious heir follows up, even to the tomb, the last
glimpses of the will of a dying relative.

“You must reign,” repeated the King, turning away his head.

“Sign then,” said Richelieu; “the contents of this are, ‘This is my
command--to take them, dead or alive.’”

Louis, whose head still reclined on the raised back of the chair,
suffered his hand to fall upon the fatal paper, and signed it. “For
pity’s sake, leave me; I am dying!” he said.

“That is not yet all,” continued he whom men call the great politician.
“I place no reliance on you; I must first have some guarantee and
assurance. Sign this paper, and I will leave you:

   “When the King shall go to visit the Cardinal, the guards of the
   latter shall remain under arms; and when the Cardinal shall visit
   the King, the guards of the Cardinal shall share the same post with
   those of his Majesty.

“Again:

   “His Majesty undertakes to place the two princes, his sons, in the
   Cardinal’s hands, as hostages of the good faith of his attachment.”

“My children!” exclaimed Louis, raising his head, “dare you?”

“Would you rather that I should retire?” said Richelieu.

The King again signed.

“Is all finished now?” he inquired, with a deep sigh.

All was not finished; one other grief was still in reserve for him. The
door was suddenly opened, and Cinq-Mars entered. It was the Cardinal who
trembled now.

“What would you here, sir?” said he, seizing the bell to ring for
assistance.

The master of the horse was as pale as the King, and without
condescending to answer Richelieu, he advanced steadily toward Louis
XIII, who looked at him with the air of a man who has just received a
sentence of death.

“You would, Sire, find it difficult to have me arrested, for I have
twenty thousand men under my command,” said Henri d’Effiat, in a sweet
and subdued voice.

“Alas, Cinq-Mars!” replied the King, sadly; “is it thou who hast been
guilty of these crimes?”

“Yes, Sire; and I also bring you my sword, for no doubt you came here to
surrender me,” said he, unbuckling his sword, and laying it at the feet
of the King, who fixed his eyes upon the floor without making any reply.

Cinq-Mars smiled sadly, but not bitterly, for he no longer belonged
to this earth. Then, looking contemptuously at Richelieu, “I surrender
because I wish to die, but I am not conquered.”

The Cardinal clenched his fist with passion; but he restrained his fury.
“Who are your accomplices?” he demanded. Cinq-Mars looked steadfastly at
Louis, and half opened his lips to speak. The King bent down his head,
and felt at that moment a torture unknown to all other men.

“I have none,” said Cinq-Mars, pitying the King; and he slowly left the
apartment. He stopped in the first gallery. Fabert and all the gentlemen
rose on seeing him. He walked up to the commander, and said:

“Sir, order these gentlemen to arrest me!”

They looked at each other, without daring to approach him.

“Yes, sir, I am your prisoner; yes, gentlemen, I am without my sword,
and I repeat to you that I am the King’s prisoner.”

“I do not understand what I see,” said the General; “there are two of
you who surrender, and I have no instruction to arrest any one.”

“Two!” said Cinq-Mars; “the other is doubtless De Thou. Alas! I
recognize him by this devotion.”

“And had I not also guessed your intention?” exclaimed the latter,
coming forward, and throwing himself into his arms.



CHAPTER XXV. THE PRISONERS

Amoung those old chateaux of which France is every year deprived
regretfully, as of flowers from her, crown, there was one of a grim and
savage appearance upon the left bank of the Saline. It looked like a
formidable sentinel placed at one of the gates of Lyons, and derived its
name from an enormous rock, known as Pierre-Encise, which terminates in
a peak--a sort of natural pyramid, the summit of which overhanging the
river in former times, they say, joined the rocks which may still be
seen on the opposite bank, forming the natural arch of a bridge; but
time, the waters, and the hand of man have left nothing standing but the
ancient mass of granite which formed the pedestal of the now destroyed
fortress.

The archbishops of Lyons, as the temporal lords of the city, had built
and formerly resided in this castle. It afterward became a fortress, and
during the reign of Louis XIII a State prison. One colossal tower,
where the daylight could only penetrate through three long loopholes,
commanded the edifice, and some irregular buildings surrounded it with
their massive walls, whose lines and angles followed the form of the
immense and perpendicular rock.

It was here that the Cardinal, jealous of his prey, determined to
imprison his young enemies, and to conduct them himself.

Allowing Louis to precede him to Paris, he removed his captives from
Narbonne, dragging them in his train to ornament his last triumph, and
embarking on the Rhone at Tarascon, nearly, at the mouth of the river,
as if to prolong the pleasure of revenge which men have dared to call
that of the gods, displayed to the eyes of the spectators on both sides
of the river the luxury of his hatred; he slowly proceeded on his course
up the river in barges with gilded oars and emblazoned with his armorial
bearings, reclining in the first and followed by his two victims in the
second, which was fastened to his own by a long chain.

Often in the evening, when the heat of the day was passed, the awnings
of the two boats were removed, and in the one Richelieu might be seen,
pale, and seated in the stern; in that which followed, the two young
prisoners, calm and collected, supported each other, watching the
passage of the rapid stream. Formerly the soldiers of Caesar, who
encamped on the same shores, would have thought they beheld the
inflexible boatman of the infernal regions conducting the friendly
shades of Castor and Pollux. Christians dared not even reflect, or see
a priest leading his two enemies to the scaffold; it was the first
minister who passed.

Thus he went on his way until he left his victims under guard at the
identical city in which the late conspirators had doomed him to perish.
Thus he loved to defy Fate herself, and to plant a trophy on the very
spot which had been selected for his tomb.

   “He was borne,” says an ancient manuscript journal of this year,
   “along the river Rhone in a boat in which a wooden chamber had been
   constructed, lined with crimson fluted velvet, the flooring of which
   was of gold. The same boat contained an antechamber decorated in
   the same manner. The prow and stern of the boat were occupied by
   soldiers and guards, wearing scarlet coats embroidered with gold,
   silver, and silk; and many lords of note. His Eminence occupied a
   bed hung with purple taffetas. Monseigneur the Cardinal Bigni, and
   Messeigneurs the Bishops of Nantes and Chartres, were there, with
   many abbes and gentlemen in other boats. Preceding his vessel, a
   boat sounded the passages, and another boat followed, filled with
   arquebusiers and officers to command them. When they approached any
   isle, they sent soldiers to inspect it, to discover whether it was
   occupied by any suspicious persons; and, not meeting any, they
   guarded the shore until two boats which followed had passed. They
   were filled with the nobility and well-armed soldiers.

   “Afterward came the boat of his Eminence, to the stern of which was
   attached a little boat, which conveyed MM. de Thou and Cinq-Mars,
   guarded by an officer of the King’s guard and twelve guards from the
   regiment of his Eminence. Three vessels, containing the clothes and
   plate of his Eminence, with several gentlemen and soldiers, followed
   the boats.

   “Two companies of light-horsemen followed the banks of the Rhone in
   Dauphin, and as many on the Languedoc and Vivarais side, and a noble
   regiment of foot, who preceded his Eminence in the towns which he
   was to enter, or in which he was to sleep. It was pleasant to
   listen to the trumpets, which, played in Dauphine, were answered by
   those in Vivarais, and repeated by the echoes of our rocks. It
   seemed as if all were trying which could play best.”--[See Notes.]

In the middle of a night of the month of September, while everything
appeared to slumber in the impregnable tower which contained the
prisoners, the door of their outer chamber turned noiselessly on its
hinges, and a man appeared on the threshold, clad in a brown robe
confined round his waist by a cord. His feet were encased in sandals,
and his hand grasped a large bunch of keys; it was Joseph. He looked
cautiously round without advancing, and contemplated in silence the
apartment occupied by the master of the horse. Thick carpets covered
the floor, and large and splendid hangings concealed the walls of the
prison; a bed hung with red damask was prepared, but it was unoccupied.
Seated near a high chimney in a large armchair, attired in a long gray
robe, similar in form to that of a priest, his head bent down, and his
eyes fixed upon a little cross of gold by the flickering light of a
lamp, he was absorbed in so deep a meditation that the Capuchin had
leisure to approach him closely, and confront the prisoner before
he perceived him. Suddenly, however, Cinq-Mars raised his head and
exclaimed, “Wretch, what do you here?”

“Young man, you are violent,” answered the mysterious intruder, in a low
voice. “Two months’ imprisonment ought to have been enough to calm you.
I come to tell you things of great importance. Listen to me! I have
thought much of you; and I do not hate you so much as you imagine. The
moments are precious. I will tell you all in a few words: in two hours
you will be interrogated, tried, and condemned to death with your
friend. It can not be otherwise, for all will be finished the same day.”

“I know it,” answered Cinq-Mars; “and I am prepared.”

“Well, then, I can still release you from this affair. I have reflected
deeply, as I told you; and I am here to make a proposal which can but
give you satisfaction. The Cardinal has but six months to live. Let us
not be mysterious; we must speak openly. You see where I have brought
you to serve him; and you can judge by that the point to which I would
conduct him to serve you. If you wish it, we can cut short the six
months of his life which still remain. The King loves you, and will
recall you with joy when he finds you still live. You may long live, and
be powerful and happy, if you will protect me, and make me cardinal.”

Astonishment deprived the young prisoner of speech. He could not
understand such language, and seemed to be unable to descend to it from
his higher meditations. All that he could say was:

“Your benefactor, Richelieu?”

The Capuchin smiled, and, drawing nearer, continued in an undertone:

“Policy admits of no benefits; it contains nothing but interest. A man
employed by a minister is no more bound to be grateful than a horse
whose rider prefers him to others. My pace has been convenient to him;
so much the better. Now it is my interest to throw him from the saddle.
Yes, this man loves none but himself. I now see that he has deceived
me by continually retarding my elevation; but once again, I possess
the sure means for your escape in silence. I am the master here. I will
remove the men in whom he trusts, and replace them by others whom he
has condemned to die, and who are near at hand confined in the northern
tower--the Tour des Oubliettes, which overhangs the river. His creatures
will occupy their places. I will recommend a physician--an empyric who
is devoted to me--to the illustrious Cardinal, who has been given over
by the most scientific in Paris. If you will unite with me, he shall
convey to him a universal and eternal remedy.”

“Away!” exclaimed Cinq-Mars. “Leave me, thou infernal monk! No, thou
art like no other man! Thou glidest with a noiseless and furtive step
through the darkness; thou traversest the walls to preside at secret
crimes; thou placest thyself between the hearts of lovers to separate
them eternally. Who art thou? Thou resemblest a tormented spirit of the
damned!”

“Romantic boy!” answered Joseph; “you would have possessed high
attainments had it not been for your false notions. There is perhaps
neither damnation nor soul. If the dead returned to complain of their
fate, I should have a thousand around me; and I have never seen any,
even in my dreams.”

“Monster!” muttered Cinq-Mars.

“Words again!” said Joseph; “there is neither monster nor virtuous man.
You and De Thou, who pride yourselves on what you call virtue--you have
failed in causing the death of perhaps a hundred thousand men--at once
and in the broad daylight--for no end, while Richelieu and I have caused
the death of far fewer, one by one, and by night, to found a great
power. Would you remain pure and virtuous, you must not interfere with
other men; or, rather, it is more reasonable to see that which is, and
to say with me, it is possible that there is no such thing as a soul.
We are the sons of chance; but relative to other men, we have passions
which we must satisfy.”

“I breathe again!” exclaimed Cinq-Mars; “he believes not in God!”

Joseph continued:

“Richelieu, you, and I were born ambitious; it followed, then, that
everything must be sacrificed to this idea.”

“Wretched man, do not compare me to thyself!”

“It is the plain truth, nevertheless,” replied the Capuchin’; “only you
now see that our system was better than yours.”

“Miserable wretch, it was for love--”

“No, no! it was not that; here are mere words again. You have perhaps
imagined it was so; but it was for your own advancement. I have heard
you speak to the young girl. You thought but of yourselves; you do not
love each other. She thought but of her rank, and you of your ambition.
One loves in order to hear one’s self called perfect, and to be adored;
it is still the same egoism.”

“Cruel serpent!” cried Cinq-Mars; “is it not enough that thou hast
caused our deaths? Why dost thou come here to cast thy venom upon the
life thou hast taken from us? What demon has suggested to thee thy
horrible analysis of hearts?”

“Hatred of everything which is superior to myself,” replied Joseph, with
a low and hollow laugh, “and the desire to crush those I hate under my
feet, have made me ambitious and ingenious in finding the weakness of
your dreams.”

“Just Heaven, dost thou hear him?” exclaimed Cinq-Mars, rising and
extending his arms upward.

The solitude of his prison; the pious conversations of his friend; and,
above all, the presence of death, which, like the light of an unknown
star, paints in other colors the objects we are accustomed to see;
meditations on eternity; and (shall we say it?) the great efforts he
had made to change his heartrending regrets into immortal hopes, and
to direct to God all that power of love which had led him astray upon
earth-all this combined had worked a strange revolution in him; and like
those ears of corn which ripen suddenly on receiving one ray from the
sun, his soul had acquired light, exalted by the mysterious influence of
death.

“Just Heaven!” he repeated, “if this wretch and his master are human,
can I also be a man? Behold, O God, behold two distinct ambitions--the
one egoistical and bloody, the other devoted and unstained; theirs
roused by hatred, and ours inspired by love. Look down, O Lord, judge,
and pardon! Pardon, for we have greatly erred in walking but for a
single day in the same paths which, on earth, possess but one name to
whatever end it may tend!”

Joseph interrupted him harshly, stamping his foot on the ground:

“When you have finished your prayer,” said he, “you will perhaps inform
me whether you will assist me; and I will instantly--”

“Never, impure wretch, never!” said Henri d’Effiat. “I will never unite
with you in an assassination. I refused to do so when powerful, and upon
yourself.”

“You were wrong; you would have been master now.”

“And what happiness should I find in my power when shared as it must be
by a woman who does not understand me; who loved me feebly, and prefers
a crown?”

“Inconceivable folly!” said the Capuchin, laughing.

“All with her; nothing without her--that was my desire.”

“It is from obstinacy and vanity that you persist; it is impossible,”
 replied Joseph. “It is not in nature.”

“Thou who wouldst deny the spirit of self-sacrifice,” answered
Cinq-Mars; “dost thou understand that of my friend?”

“It does not exist; he follows you because--”

Here the Capuchin, slightly embarrassed, reflected an instant.

“Because--because--he has formed you; you are his work; he is attached
to you by the self-love of an author. He was accustomed to lecture you;
and he felt that he should not find another pupil so docile to listen
to and applaud him. Constant habit has persuaded him that his life was
bound to yours; it is something of that kind. He will accompany you
mechanically. Besides, all is not yet finished; we shall see the end
and the examination. He will certainly deny all knowledge of the
conspiracy.”

“He will not deny it!” exclaimed Cinq-Mars, impetuously.

“He knew it, then? You confess it,” said Joseph, triumphantly; “you have
not said as much before.”

“O Heaven, what have I done!” gasped Cinq-Mars, hiding his face.

“Calm yourself; he is saved, notwithstanding this avowal, if you accept
my offer.”

D’Effiat remained silent for a short time.

The Capuchin continued:

“Save your friend. The King’s favor awaits you, and perhaps the love
which has erred for a moment.”

“Man, or whatever else thou art, if thou hast in thee anything
resembling a heart,” answered the prisoner, “save him! He is the purest
of created beings; but convey him far away while yet he sleeps, for
should he awake, thy endeavors would be vain.”

“What good will that do me?” said the Capuchin, laughing. “It is you and
your favor that I want.”

The impetuous Cinq-Mars rose, and, seizing Joseph by the arm, eying him
with a terrible look, said:

“I degraded him in interceding with thee for him.” He continued, raising
the tapestry which separated his apartment from that of his friend,
“Come, and doubt, if thou canst, devotion and the immortality of the
soul. Compare the uneasiness and misery of thy triumph with the calmness
of our defeat, the meanness of thy reign with the grandeur of our
captivity, thy sanguinary vigils to the slumbers of the just.”

A solitary lamp threw its light on De Thou. The young man was kneeling
on a cushion, surmounted by a large ebony crucifix. He seemed to have
fallen asleep while praying. His head, inclining backward, was still
raised toward the cross. His pale lips wore a calm and divine smile.

“Holy Father, how he sleeps!” exclaimed the astonished Capuchin,
thoughtlessly uniting to his frightful discourse the sacred name he
every day pronounced. He suddenly retired some paces, as if dazzled by a
heavenly vision.

“Nonsense, nonsense!” he said, shaking his head, and passing his hand
rapidly over his face. “All this is childishness. It would overcome me
if I reflected on it. These ideas may serve as opium to produce a calm.
But that is not the question; say yes or no.”

“No,” said Cinq-Mars, pushing him to the door by the shoulder. “I will
not accept life; and I do not regret having compromised De Thou, for
he would not have bought his life at the price of an assassination. And
when he yielded at Narbonne, it was not that he might escape at Lyons.”

“Then wake him, for here come the judges,” said the furious Capuchin, in
a sharp, piercing voice.

Lighted by flambeaux, and preceded by a detachment of the Scotch guards,
fourteen judges entered, wrapped in long robes, and whose features were
not easily distinguished. They seated themselves in silence on the right
and left of the huge chamber. They were the judges delegated by the
Cardinal to judge this sad and solemn affair--all true men to the
Cardinal Richelieu, and in his confidence, who from Tarascon had chosen
and instructed them. He had the Chancellor Seguier brought to Lyons, to
avoid, as he stated in the instructions he sent by Chavigny to the King
Louis XIII--“to avoid all the delays which would take place if he were
not present. M. de Mayillac,” he adds, “was at Nantes for the trial of
Chulais, M. de Chateau-Neuf at Toulouse, superintending the death of M.
de Montmorency, and M. de Bellievre at Paris, conducting the trial of M.
de Biron. The authority and intelligence of these gentlemen in forms of
justice are indispensable.”

The Chancellor arrived with all speed. But at this moment he was
informed that he was not to appear, for fear that he might be influenced
by the memory of his ancient friendship for the prisoner, whom he
only saw tete-a-tete. The commissioners and himself had previously
and rapidly received the cowardly depositions of the Duc d’Orleans, at
Villefranche, in Beaujolais, and then at Vivey,--[House which belonged
to an Abbe d’Esnay, brother of M. de Villeroy, called Montresor.] two
miles from Lyons, where this wretched prince had received orders to
go, begging forgiveness, and trembling, although surrounded by his
followers, whom from very pity he had been allowed to retain, carefully
watched, however, by the French and Swiss guards. The Cardinal had
dictated to him his part and answers word for word; and in consideration
of this docility, they had exempted him in form from the painful task
of confronting MM. de Cinq-Mars and De Thou. The chancellor and
commissioners had also prepared M. de Bouillon, and, strong with their
preliminary work, they visited in all their strength the two young
criminals whom they had determined not to save.

History has only handed down to us the names of the State counsellors
who accompanied Pierre Seguier, but not those of the other
commissioners, of whom it is only mentioned that there were six from the
parliament of Grenoble, and two presidents. The counsellor, or reporter
of the State, Laubardemont, who had directed them in all, was at their
head. Joseph often whispered to them with the most studied politeness,
glancing at Laubardemont with a ferocious sneer.

It was arranged that an armchair should serve as a bar; and all were
silent in expectation of the prisoner’s answer.

He spoke in a soft and clear voice:

“Say to Monsieur le Chancelier that I have the right of appeal to the
parliament of Paris, and to object to my judges, because two of them are
my declared enemies, and at their head one of my friends, Monsieur de
Seguier himself, whom I maintained in his charge.

“But I will spare you much trouble, gentlemen, by pleading guilty to the
whole charge of conspiracy, arranged and conducted by myself alone. It
is my wish to die. I have nothing to add for myself; but if you would be
just, you will not harm the life of him whom the King has pronounced to
be the most honest man in France, and who dies for my sake alone.”

“Summon him,” said Laubardemont.

Two guards entered the apartment of De Thou, and led him forth. He
advanced, and bowed gravely, while an angelical smile played upon his
lips. Embracing Cinq-Mars, “Here at last is our day of glory,” said he.
“We are about to gain heaven and eternal happiness.”

“We understand,” said Laubardemont, “we have been given to understand
by Monsieur de Cinq-Mars himself, that you were acquainted with this
conspiracy?”

De Thou answered instantly, and without hesitation. A half-smile was
still on his lips, and his eyes cast down.

“Gentlemen, I have passed my life in studying human laws, and I know
that the testimony of one accused person can not condemn another. I can
also repeat what I said before, that I should not have been believed had
I denounced the King’s brother without proof. You perceive, then, that
my life and death entirely rest with myself. I have, however, well
weighed the one and the other. I have clearly foreseen that whatever
life I may hereafter lead, it could not but be most unhappy after the
loss of Monsieur de Cinq-Mars. I therefore acknowledge and confess that
I was aware of his conspiracy. I did my utmost to prevent it, to deter
him from it. He believed me to be his only and faithful friend, and I
would not betray him. Therefore, I condemn myself by the very laws which
were set forth by my father, who, I hope, forgives me.”

At these words, the two friends precipitated themselves into each
other’s arms.

Cinq-Mars exclaimed:

“My friend, my friend, how bitterly I regret that I have caused your
death! Twice I have betrayed you; but you shall know in what manner.”

But De Thou, embracing and consoling his friend, answered, raising his
eyes from the ground:

“Ah, happy are we to end our days in this manner! Humanly speaking, I
might complain of you; but God knows how much I love you. What have
we done to merit the grace of martyrdom, and the happiness of dying
together?”

The judges were not prepared for this mildness, and looked at each other
with surprise.

“If they would only give me a good partisan,” muttered a hoarse voice
(it was Grandchamp, who had crept into the room, and whose eyes were
red with fury), “I would soon rid Monseigneur of all these black-looking
fellows.” Two men with halberds immediately placed themselves silently
at his side. He said no more, and to compose himself retired to a window
which overlooked the river, whose tranquil waters the sun had not yet
lighted with its beams, and appeared to pay no attention to what was
passing in the room.

However, Laubardemont, fearing that the judges might be touched with
compassion, said in a loud voice:

“In pursuance of the order of Monseigneur the Cardinal, these two
men will be put to the rack; that is to say, to the ordinary and
extraordinary question.”

Indignation forced Cinq-Mars again to assume his natural character;
crossing his arms, he made two steps toward Laubardemont and Joseph,
which alarmed them. The former involuntarily placed his hand to his
forehead.

“Are we at Loudun?” exclaimed the prisoner; but De Thou, advancing, took
his hand and held it. Cinq-Mars was silent, then continued in a calm
voice, looking steadfastly at the judges:

“Messieurs, this measure appears to me rather harsh; a man of my age and
rank ought not to be subjected to these formalities. I have confessed
all, and I will confess it all again. I willingly and gladly accept
death; it is not from souls like ours that secrets can be wrung by
bodily suffering. We are prisoners by our own free will, and at the time
chosen by us. We have confessed enough for you to condemn us to death;
you shall know nothing more. We have obtained what we wanted.”

“What are you doing, my friend?” interrupted De Thou. “He is mistaken,
gentlemen, we do not refuse this martyrdom which God offers us; we
demand it.”

“But,” said Cinq-Mars, “do you need such infamous tortures to obtain
salvation--you who are already a martyr, a voluntary martyr to
friendship? Gentlemen, it is I alone who possess important secrets; it
is the chief of a conspiracy who knows all. Put me alone to the torture
if we must be treated like the worst of malefactors.”

“For the sake of charity,” added De Thou, “deprive me not of equal
suffering with my friend; I have not followed him so far, to abandon him
at this dreadful moment, and not to use every effort to accompany him to
heaven.”

During this debate, another was going forward between Laubardemont and
Joseph. The latter, fearing that torments would induce him to disclose
the secret of his recent proposition, advised that they should not
be resorted to; the other, not thinking his triumph complete by death
alone, absolutely insisted on their being applied. The judges surrounded
and listened to these secret agents of the Prime-Minister; however, many
circumstances having caused them to suspect that the influence of the
Capuchin was more powerful than that of the judge, they took part with
him, and decided for mercy, when he finished by these words uttered in a
low voice:

“I know their secrets. There is no necessity to force them from their
lips, because they are useless, and relate to too high circumstances.
Monsieur le Grand has no one to denounce but the King, and the other the
Queen. It is better that we should remain ignorant. Besides, they will
not confess. I know them; they will be silent--the one from pride, the
other through piety. Let them alone. The torture will wound them;
they will be disfigured and unable to walk. That will spoil the whole
ceremony; they must be kept to appear.”

This last observation prevailed. The judges retired to deliberate with
the chancellor. While departing, Joseph whispered to Laubardemont:

“I have provided you with enough pleasure here; you will still have that
of deliberating, and then you shall go and examine three men who are
confined in the northern tower.”

These were the three judges who had condemned Urbain Grandier.

As he spoke, he laughed heartily, and was the last to leave the room,
pushing the astonished master of requests before him.

The sombre tribunal had scarcely disappeared when Grandchamp, relieved
from his two guards, hastened toward his master, and, seizing his hand,
said:

“In the name of Heaven, come to the terrace, Monseigneur! I have
something to show you; in the name of your mother, come!”

But at that moment the chamber door was opened, and the old Abbe Quillet
appeared.

“My children! my dear children!” exclaimed the old man, weeping
bitterly. “Alas! why was I only permitted to enter to-day? Dear Henri,
your mother, your brother, your sister, are concealed here.”

“Be quiet, Monsieur l’Abbe!” said Grandchamp; “do come to the terrace,
Monseigneur.”

But the old priest still detained and embraced his pupil.

“We hope,” said he; “we hope for mercy.”

“I shall refuse it,” said Cinq-Mars.

“We hope for nothing but the mercy of God,” added De Thou.

“Silence!” said Grandchamp, “the judges are returning.”

And the door opened again to admit the dismal procession, from which
Joseph and Laubardemont were missing.

“Gentlemen,” exclaimed the good Abbe, addressing the commissioners, “I
am happy to tell you that I have just arrived from Paris, and that no
one doubts but that all the conspirators will be pardoned. I have had an
interview at her Majesty’s apartments with Monsieur himself; and as to
the Duc de Bouillon, his examination is not unfav--”

“Silence!” cried M. de Seyton, the lieutenant of the Scotch guards;
and the commissioners entered and again arranged themselves in the
apartment.

M. de Thou, hearing them summon the criminal recorder of the presidial
of Lyons to pronounce the sentence, involuntarily launched out in one of
those transports of religious joy which are never displayed but by the
martyrs and saints at the approach of death; and, advancing toward this
man, he exclaimed:

“Quam speciosi pedes evangelizantium pacem, evangelizantium bona!”

Then, taking the hand of Cinq-Mars, he knelt down bareheaded to receive
the sentence, as was the custom. D’Effiat remained standing; and they
dared not compel him to kneel. The sentence was pronounced in these
words:

   “The Attorney-General, prosecutor on the part of the State, on a
   charge of high treason; and Messire Henri d’Effiat de Cinq-Mars,
   master of the horse, aged twenty-two, and Francois Auguste de Thou,
   aged thirty-five, of the King’s privy council, prisoners in the
   chateau of Pierre-Encise, at Lyons, accused and defendants on the
   other part:

   “Considered, the special trial commenced by the aforesaid attorney-
   general against the said D’Efiiat and De Thou; informations,
   interrogations, confessions, denegations, and confrontations, and
   authenticated copies of the treaty with Spain, it is considered in
   the delegated chamber:

   “That he who conspires against the person of the ministers of
   princes is considered by the ancient laws and constitutions of the
   emperors to be guilty of high treason; (2) that the third ordinance
   of the King Louis XI renders any one liable to the punishment of
   death who does not reveal a conspiracy against the State.

   “The commissioners deputed by his Majesty have declared the said
   D’Effiat and De Thou guilty and convicted of the crime of high
   treason:

   “The said D’Effiat, for the conspiracies and enterprises, league,
   and treaties, formed by him with the foreigner against the State;

   “And the said De Thou, for having a thorough knowledge of this
   conspiracy.

   “In reparation of which crimes they have deprived them of all honors
   and dignities, and condemned them to be deprived of their heads on a
   scaffold, which is for this purpose erected in the Place des
   Terreaux, in this city.

   “It is further declared that all and each of their possessions, real
   and personal, be confiscated to the King, and that those which they
   hold from the crown do pass immediately to it again of the aforesaid
   goods, sixty thousand livres being devoted to pious uses.”

After the sentence was pronounced, M. de Thou exclaimed in a loud voice:

“God be blessed! God be praised!”

“I have never feared death,” said Cinq-Mars, coldly.

Then, according to the forms prescribed, M. Seyton, the lieutenant of
the Scotch guards, an old man upward of sixty years of age, declared
with emotion that he placed the prisoners in the hands of the Sieur
Thome, provost of the merchants of Lyons; he then took leave of them,
followed by the whole of the body-guard, silently, and in tears.

“Weep not,” said Cinq-Mars; “tears are useless. Rather pray for us; and
be assured that I do not fear death.”

He shook them by the hand, and De Thou embraced them; after which they
left the apartment, their eyes filled with tears, and hiding their faces
in their cloaks.

“Barbarians!” exclaimed the Abbe Quillet; “to find arms against them,
one must search the whole arsenal of tyrants. Why did they admit me at
this moment?”

“As a confessor, Monsieur,” whispered one of the commissioners; “for no
stranger has entered this place these two months.”

As soon as the huge gates of the prison were closed, and the outside
gratings lowered, “To the terrace, in the name of Heaven!” again
exclaimed Grandchamp. And he drew his master and De Thou thither.

The old preceptor followed them, weeping.

“What do you want with us in a moment like this?” said Cinq-Mars, with
indulgent gravity.

“Look at the chains of the town,” said the faithful servant.

The rising sun had hardly tinged the sky. In the horizon a line of vivid
yellow was visible, upon which the mountain’s rough blue outlines were
boldly traced; the waves of the Saline, and the chains of the town
hanging from one bank to the other, were still veiled by a light vapor,
which also rose from Lyons and concealed the roofs of the houses from
the eye of the spectator. The first tints of the morning light had as
yet colored only the most elevated points of the magnificent landscape.
In the city the steeples of the Hotel de Ville and St. Nizier, and on
the surrounding hills the monasteries of the Carmelites and Ste.-Marie,
and the entire fortress of Pierre-Encise were gilded with the fires
of the coming day. The joyful peals from the churches were heard, the
peaceful matins from the convent and village bells. The walls of the
prison were alone silent.

“Well,” said Cinq-Mars, “what are we to see the beauty of the plains,
the richness of the city, or the calm peacefulness of these villages?
Ah, my friend, in every place there are to be found passions and griefs,
like those which have brought us here.”

The old Abbe and Grandchamp leaned over the parapet, watching the bank
of the river.

“The fog is so thick, we can see nothing yet,” said the Abbe.

“How slowly our last sun appears!” said De Thou.

“Do you not see low down there, at the foot of the rocks, on the
opposite bank, a small white house, between the Halincourt gate and the
Boulevard Saint Jean?” asked the Abbe.

“I see nothing,” answered Cinq-Mars, “but a mass of dreary wall.”

“Hark!” said the Abbe; “some one speaks near us!”

In fact, a confused, low, and inexplicable murmur was heard in a little
turret, the back of which rested upon the platform of the terrace. As it
was scarcely larger than a pigeon-house, the prisoners had not until now
observed it.

“Are they already coming to fetch us?” said Cinq-Mars.

“Bah! bah!” answered Grandchamp, “do not make yourself uneasy; it is the
Tour des Oubliettes. I have prowled round the fort for two months, and
I have seen men fall from there into the water at least once a week. Let
us think of our affair. I see a light down there.”

An invincible curiosity, however, led the two prisoners to look at the
turret, in spite of the horror of their own situation. It advanced to
the extremity of the rock, over a gulf of foaming green water of great
depth. A wheel of a mill long deserted was seen turning with great
rapidity. Three distinct sounds were now heard, like those of a
drawbridge suddenly lowered and raised to its former position by a
recoil or spring striking against the stone walls; and three times a
black substance was seen to fall into the water with a splash.

“Mercy! can these be men?” exclaimed the Abbe, crossing himself.

“I thought I saw brown robes turning in the air,” said Grandchamp; “they
are the Cardinal’s friends.”

A horrible cry was heard from the tower, accompanied by an impious oath.
The heavy trap groaned for the fourth time. The green water received
with a loud noise a burden which cracked the enormous wheel of the mill;
one of its large spokes was torn away, and a man entangled in its beams
appeared above the foam, which he colored with his blood. He rose twice,
and sank beneath the waters, shrieking violently; it was Laubardemont.

Cinq-Mars drew back in horror.

“There is a Providence,” said Grandchamp; “Urbain Grandier summoned
him in three years. But come, come! the time is precious! Do not remain
motionless. Be it he, I am not surprised, for those wretches devour each
other. But let us endeavor to deprive them of their choicest morsel.
Vive Dieu! I see the signal! We are saved! All is ready; run to this
side, Monsieur l’Abbe! See the white handkerchief at the window! our
friends are prepared.”

The Abbe seized the hands of both his friends, and drew them to that
side of the terrace toward which they had at first looked. “Listen to
me, both of you,” said he. “You must know that none of the conspirators
has profited by the retreat you secured for them. They have all
hastened to Lyons, disguised, and in great number; they have distributed
sufficient gold in the city to secure them from being betrayed; they are
resolved to make an attempt to deliver you. The time chosen is that when
they are conducting you to the scaffold; the signal is your hat, which
you will place on your head when they are to commence.”

The worthy Abbe, half weeping, half smiling hopefully, related that
upon the arrest of his pupil he had hastened to Paris; that such secrecy
enveloped all the Cardinal’s actions that none there knew the place
in which the master of the horse was detained. Many said that he was
banished; and when the reconciliation between Monsieur and the Duc de
Bouillon and the King was known, men no longer doubted that the life of
the other was assured, and ceased to speak of this affair, which, not
having been executed, compromised few persons. They had even in some
measure rejoiced in Paris to see the town of Sedan and its territory
added to the kingdom in exchange for the letters of abolition granted
to the Duke, acknowledged innocent in common with Monsieur; so that
the result of all the arrangements had been to excite admiration of the
Cardinal’s ability, and of his clemency toward the conspirators, who, it
was said, had contemplated his death. They even spread the report
that he had facilitated the escape of Cinq-Mars and De Thou, occupying
himself generously with their retreat to a foreign land, after
having bravely caused them to be arrested in the midst of the camp of
Perpignan.

At this part of the narrative, Cinq-Mars could not avoid forgetting his
resignation, and clasping his friend’s hand, “Arrested!” he exclaimed.
“Must we renounce even the honor of having voluntarily surrendered
ourselves? Must we sacrifice all, even the opinion of posterity?”

“There is vanity again,” replied De Thou, placing his fingers on his
lips. “But hush! let us hear the Abbe to the end.”

The tutor, not doubting that the calmness which these two young men
exhibited arose from the joy they felt in finding their escape assured,
and seeing that the sun had hardly yet dispersed the morning mists,
yielded himself without restraint to the involuntary pleasure which old
men always feel in recounting new events, even though they afflict the
hearers. He related all his fruitless endeavors to discover his pupil’s
retreat, unknown to the court and the town, where none, indeed, dared to
pronounce the name of Cinq-Mars in the most secret asylums. He had only
heard of the imprisonment at Pierre-Encise from the Queen herself, who
had deigned to send for him, and charge him to inform the Marechale
d’Effiat and all the conspirators that they might make a desperate
effort to deliver their young chief. Anne of Austria had even ventured
to send many of the gentlemen of Auvergne and Touraine to Lyons to
assist in their last attempt.

“The good Queen!” said he; “she wept greatly when I saw her, and said
that she would give all she possessed to save you. She reproached
herself deeply for some letter, I know not what. She spoke of the
welfare of France, but did not explain herself. She said that she
admired you, and conjured you to save yourself, if it were only through
pity for her, whom you would otherwise consign to everlasting remorse.”

“Said she nothing else?” interrupted De Thou, supporting Cinq-Mars, who
grew visibly paler.

“Nothing more,” said the old man.

“And no one else spoke of me?” inquired the master of the horse.

“No one,” said the Abbe.

“If she had but written to me!” murmured Henri.

“Remember, my father, that you were sent here as a confessor,” said De
Thou.

Here old Grandchamp, who had been kneeling before Cinq-Mars, and
dragging him by his clothes to the other side of the terrace, exclaimed
in a broken voice:

“Monseigneur--my master--my good master--do you see them? Look
there--‘tis they! ‘tis they--all of them!”

“Who, my old friend?” asked his master.

“Who? Great Heaven! look at that window! Do you not recognize them? Your
mother, your sisters, and your brother.”

And the day, now fairly broken, showed him in the distance several women
waving their handkerchiefs; and there, dressed all in black, stretching
out her arms toward the prison, sustained by those about her, Cinq-Mars
recognized his mother, with his family, and his strength failed him for
a moment. He leaned his head upon his friend’s breast and wept.

“How many times must I, then, die?” he murmured; then, with a gesture,
returning from the top of the tower the salutations of his family, “Let
us descend quickly, my father!” he said to the old Abbe. “You will tell
me at the tribunal of penitence, and before God, whether the remainder
of my life is worth my shedding more blood to preserve it.”

It was there that Cinq-Mars confessed to God what he alone and Marie
de Mantua knew of their secret and unfortunate love. “He gave to his
confessor,” says Father Daniel, “a portrait of a noble lady, set in
diamonds, which were to be sold, and the money employed in pious works.”

M. de Thou, after having confessed, wrote a letter;--[See the copy of
this letter to Madame la Princesse de Guemenee, in the notes at the
end of the volume.]--after which (according to the account given by his
confessor) he said, “This is the last thought I will bestow upon this
world; let us depart for heaven!” and walking up and down the room with
long strides, he recited aloud the psalm, ‘Miserere mei, Deus’, with an
incredible ardor of spirit, his whole frame trembling so violently it
seemed as if he did not touch the earth, and that the soul was about
to make its exit from his body. The guards were mute at this spectacle,
which made them all shudder with respect and horror.

Meanwhile, all was calm in the city of Lyons, when to the great
astonishment of its inhabitants, they beheld the entrance through
all its gates of troops of infantry and cavalry, which they knew were
encamped at a great distance. The French and the Swiss guards,
the regiment of Pompadours, the men-at-arms of Maurevert, and the
carabineers of La Roque, all defiled in silence. The cavalry, with their
muskets on the pommel of the saddle, silently drew up round the chateau
of Pierre-Encise; the infantry formed a line upon the banks of the Saone
from the gate of the fortress to the Place des Terreaux. It was the
usual spot for execution.

   “Four companies of the bourgeois of Lyons, called ‘pennonage’, of
   which about eleven or twelve hundred men, were ranged [says the
   journal of Montresor] in the midst of the Place des Terreaux, so as
   to enclose a space of about eighty paces each way, into which they
   admitted no one but those who were absolutely necessary.

   “In the centre of this space was raised a scaffold about seven feet
   high and nine feet square, in the midst of which, somewhat forward,
   was placed a stake three feet in height, in front of which was a
   block half a foot high, so that the principal face of the scaffold
   looked toward the shambles of the Terreaux, by the side of the
   Saone. Against the scaffold was placed a short ladder of eight
   rounds, in the direction of the Dames de St. Pierre.”

Nothing had transpired in the town as to the name of the prisoners. The
inaccessible walls of the fortress let none enter or leave but at night,
and the deep dungeons had sometimes confined father and son for years
together, four feet apart from each other, without their even being
aware of the vicinity. The surprise was extreme at these striking
preparations, and the crowd collected, not knowing whether for a fete or
for an execution.

This same secrecy which the agents of the minister had strictly
preserved was also carefully adhered to by the conspirators, for their
heads depended on it.

Montresor, Fontrailles, the Baron de Beauvau, Olivier d’Entraigues,
Gondi, the Comte du Lude, and the Advocate Fournier, disguised as
soldiers, workmen, and morris-dancers, armed with poniards under their
clothes, had dispersed amid the crowd more than five hundred gentlemen
and domestics, disguised like themselves. Horses were ready on the road
to Italy, and boats upon the Rhone had been previously engaged. The
young Marquis d’Effiat, elder brother of Cinq-Mars, dressed as a
Carthusian, traversed the crowd, without ceasing, between the Place
des Terreaux and the little house in which his mother and sister were
concealed with the Presidente de Pontac, the sister of the unfortunate
De Thou. He reassured them, gave them from time to time a ray of hope,
and returned to the conspirators to satisfy himself that each was
prepared for action.

Each soldier forming the line had at his side a man ready to poniard
him.

The vast crowd, heaped together behind the line of guards, pushed them
forward, passed their lines, and made them lose ground. Ambrosio,
the Spanish servant whom Cinq-Mars had saved, had taken charge of the
captain of the pikemen, and, disguised as a Catalonian musician, had
commenced a dispute with him, pretending to be determined not to cease
playing the hurdy-gurdy.

Every one was at his post.

The Abbe de Gondi, Olivier d’Entraigues, and the Marquis d’Effiat were
in the midst of a group of fish-women and oyster-wenches, who were
disputing and bawling, abusing one of their number younger and more
timid than her masculine companions. The brother of Cinq-Mars approached
to listen to their quarrel.

“And why,” said she to the others, “would you have Jean le Roux, who
is an honest man, cut off the heads of two Christians, because he is
a butcher by trade? So long as I am his wife, I’ll not allow it. I’d
rather--”

“Well, you are wrong!” replied her companions. “What is’t to thee
whether the meat he cuts is eaten or not eaten? Why, thou’lt have a
hundred crowns to dress thy three children all in new clothes. Thou’rt
lucky to be the wife of a butcher. Profit, then, ‘ma mignonne’, by what
God sends thee by the favor of his Eminence.”

“Let me alone!” answered the first speaker. “I’ll not accept it. I’ve
seen these fine young gentlemen at the windows. They look as mild as
lambs.”

“Well! and are not thy lambs and calves killed?” said Femme le Bon.
“What fortune falls to this little woman! What a pity! especially when
it is from the reverend Capuchin!”

“How horrible is the gayety of the people!” said Olivier d’Entraigues,
unguardedly. All the women heard him, and began to murmur against him.

“Of the people!” said they; “and whence comes this little bricklayer
with his plastered clothes?”

“Ah!” interrupted another, “dost not see that ‘tis some gentleman in
disguise? Look at his white hands! He never worked a square; ‘tis some
little dandy conspirator. I’ve a great mind to go and fetch the captain
of the watch to arrest him.”

The Abbe de Gondi felt all the danger of this situation, and throwing
himself with an air of anger upon Olivier, and assuming the manners of
a joiner, whose costume and apron he had adopted, he exclaimed, seizing
him by the collar:

“You’re just right. ‘Tis a little rascal that never works! These two
years that my father’s apprenticed him, he has done nothing but comb his
hair to please the girls. Come, get home with you!”

And, striking him with his rule, he drove him through the crowd, and
returned to place himself on another part of the line. After having well
reprimanded the thoughtless page, he asked him for the letter which
he said he had to give to M. de Cinq-Mars when he should have escaped.
Olivier had carried it in his pocket for two months. He gave it him. “It
is from one prisoner to another,” said he, “for the Chevalier de jars,
on leaving the Bastille, sent it me from one of his companions in
captivity.”

“Ma foi!” said Gondi, “there may be some important secret in it for our
friends. I’ll open it. You ought to have thought of it before. Ah, bah!
it is from old Bassompierre. Let us read it.

   MY DEAR CHILD: I learn from the depths of the Bastille, where I
   still remain, that you are conspiring against the tyrant Richelieu,
   who does not cease to humiliate our good old nobility and the
   parliaments, and to sap the foundations of the edifice upon which
   the State reposes. I hear that the nobles are taxed and condemned
   by petty judges, contrary to the privileges of their condition,
   forced to the arriere-ban, despite the ancient customs.”

“Ah! the old dotard!” interrupted the page, laughing immoderately.

“Not so foolish as you imagine, only he is a little behindhand for our
affair.”

   “I can not but approve this generous project, and I pray you give me
   to wot all your proceedings--”

“Ah! the old language of the last reign!” said Olivier. “He can’t say
‘Make me acquainted with your proceedings,’ as we now say.”

“Let me read, for Heaven’s sake!” said the Abbe; “a hundred years hence
they’ll laugh at our phrases.” He continued:

   “I can counsel you, notwithstanding my great age, in relating to you
   what happened to me in 1560.”

“Ah, faith! I’ve not time to waste in reading it all. Let us see the
end.

   “When I remember my dining at the house of Madame la Marechale
   d’Effiat, your mother, and ask myself what has become of all the
   guests, I am really afflicted. My poor Puy-Laurens has died at
   Vincennes, of grief at being forgotten by Monsieur in his prison;
   De Launay killed in a duel, and I am grieved at it, for although I
   was little satisfied with my arrest, he did it with courtesy, and I
   have always thought him a gentleman. As for me, I am under lock and
   key until the death of M. le Cardinal. Ah, my child! we were
   thirteen at table. We must not laugh at old superstitions. Thank
   God that you are the only one to whom evil has not arrived!”

“There again!” said Olivier, laughing heartily; and this time the Abbe
de Gondi could not maintain his gravity, despite all his efforts.

They tore the useless letter to pieces, that it might not prolong the
detention of the old marechal, should it be found, and drew near the
Place des Terreaux and the line of guards, whom they were to attack when
the signal of the hat should be given by the young prisoner.

They beheld with satisfaction all their friends at their posts, and
ready “to play with their knives,” to use their own expression. The
people, pressing around them, favored them without being aware of it.
There came near the Abbe a troop of young ladies dressed in white and
veiled. They were going to church to communicate; and the nuns who
conducted them, thinking, like most of the people, that the preparations
were intended to do honor to some great personage, allowed them to mount
upon some large hewn stones, collected behind the soldiers. There they
grouped themselves with the grace natural to their age, like twenty
beautiful statues upon a single pedestal. One would have taken them
for those vestals whom antiquity invited to the sanguinary shows of the
gladiators. They whispered to each other, looking around them, laughing
and blushing together like children.

The Abbe de Gondi saw with impatience that Olivier was again forgetting
his character of conspirator and his costume of a bricklayer in ogling
these girls, and assuming a mien too elegant, an attitude too refined,
for the position in life he was supposed to occupy. He already began to
approach them, turning his hair with his fingers, when Fontrailles and
Montresor fortunately arrived in the dress of Swiss soldiers. A group of
gentlemen, disguised as sailors, followed them with iron-shod staves
in their hands. There was a paleness on their faces which announced no
good.

“Stop here!” said one of them to his suite; “this is the place.”

The sombre air and the silence of these spectators contrasted with the
gay and anxious looks of the girls, and their childish exclamations.

“Ah, the fine procession!” they cried; “there are at least five hundred
men with cuirasses and red uniforms, upon fine horses. They’ve got
yellow feathers in their large hats.”

“They are strangers--Catalonians,” said a French guard.

“Whom are they conducting here? Ah, here is a fine gilt coach! but
there’s no one in it.”

“Ah! I see three men on foot; where are they going?”

“To death!” said Fontrailles, in a deep, stern voice which silenced
all around. Nothing was heard but the slow tramp of the horses,
which suddenly stopped, from one of those delays that happen in all
processions. They then beheld a painful and singular spectacle. An old
man with a tonsured head walked with difficulty, sobbing violently,
supported by two young men of interesting and engaging appearance, who
held one of each other’s hands behind his bent shoulders, while with
the other each held one of his arms. The one on the left was dressed
in black; he was grave, and his eyes were cast down. The other, much
younger, was attired in a striking dress. A pourpoint of Holland cloth,
adorned with broad gold lace, and with large embroidered sleeves,
covered him from the neck to the waist, somewhat in the fashion of
a woman’s corset; the rest of his vestments were in black velvet,
embroidered with silver palms. Gray boots with red heels, to which were
attached golden spurs; a scarlet cloak with gold buttons--all set off to
advantage his elegant and graceful figure. He bowed right and left with
a melancholy smile.

An old servant, with white moustache, and beard, followed with his head
bent down, leading two chargers, richly comparisoned. The young ladies
were silent; but they could not restrain their sobs.

“It is, then, that poor old man whom they are leading to the scaffold,”
 they exclaimed; “and his children are supporting him.”

“Upon your knees, ladies,” said a man, “and pray for him!”

“On your knees,” cried Gondi, “and let us pray that God will deliver
him!”

All the conspirators repeated, “On your knees! on your knees!” and set
the example to the people, who imitated them in silence.

“We can see his movements better now,” said Gondi, in a whisper to
Montresor. “Stand up; what is he doing?”

“He has stopped, and is speaking on our side, saluting us; I think he
has recognized us.”

Every house, window, wall, roof, and raised platform that looked upon
the place was filled with persons of every age and condition.

The most profound silence prevailed throughout the immense multitude.
One might have heard the wings of a gnat, the breath of the slightest
wind, the passage of the grains of dust which it raised; yet the air was
calm, the sun brilliant, the sky blue. The people listened attentively.
They were close to the Place des Terreaux; they heard the blows of the
hammer upon the planks, then the voice of Cinq-Mars.

A young Carthusian thrust his pale face between two guards. All the
conspirators rose above the kneeling people. Every one put his hand to
his belt or in his bosom, approaching close to the soldier whom he was
to poniard.

“What is he doing?” asked the Carthusian. “Has he his hat upon his
head?”

“He throws his hat upon the ground far from him,” calmly answered the
arquebusier.



CHAPTER XXVI. THE FETE

          “Mon Dieu! quest-ce que ce monde!”

                  Dernieres paroles de M. Cinq-Mars

The same day that the melancholy procession took place at Lyons, and
during the scenes we have just witnessed, a magnificent fete was given
at Paris with all the luxury and bad taste of the time. The powerful
Cardinal had determined to fill the first two towns in France with his
pomp. The Cardinal’s return was the occasion on which this fete was
announced, as given to the King and all his court.

Master of the French empire by force, the Cardinal desired to be master
of French opinion by seduction; and, weary of dominating, hoped
to please. The tragedy of “Mirame” was to be represented in a hall
constructed expressly for this great day, which raised the expenses of
this entertainment, says Pelisson, to three hundred thousand crowns.

The entire guard of the Prime-Minister were under arms; his four
companies of musketeers and gens d’armes were ranged in a line upon
the vast staircases and at the entrance of the long galleries of the
Palais-Cardinal. This brilliant pandemonium, where the mortal sins have
a temple on each floor, belonged that day to pride alone, which occupied
it from top to bottom. Upon each step was placed one of the arquebusiers
of the Cardinal’s guard, holding a torch in one hand and a long carbine
in the other. The crowd of his gentlemen circulated between these
living candelabra, while in the large garden, surrounded by huge
chestnut-trees, now replaced by a range of archers, two companies of
mounted light-horse, their muskets in their hands, were ready to obey
the first order or the first fear of their master.

The Cardinal, carried and followed by his thirty-eight pages, took his
seat in his box hung with purple, facing that in which the King was half
reclining behind the green curtains which preserved him from the glare
of the flambeaux. The whole court filled the boxes, and rose when the
King appeared. The orchestra commenced a brilliant overture, and the pit
was thrown open to all the men of the town and the army who presented
themselves. Three impetuous waves of spectators rushed in and filled it
in an instant. They were standing, and so thickly pressed together that
the movement of a single arm sufficed to cause in the crowd a movement
similar to the waving of a field of corn. There was one man whose head
thus described a large circle, as that of a compass, without his feet
quitting the spot to which they were fixed; and some young men were
carried out fainting.

The minister, contrary to custom, advanced his skeleton head out of
his box, and saluted the assembly with an air which was meant to be
gracious. This grimace obtained an acknowledgment only from the boxes;
the pit was silent. Richelieu had wished to show that he did not fear
the public judgment upon his work, and had given orders to admit without
distinction all who should present themselves. He began to repent
of this, but too late. The impartial assembly was as cold at the
tragedie-pastorale itself. In vain did the theatrical bergeres, covered
with jewels, raised upon red heels, with crooks ornamented with ribbons
and garlands of flowers upon their robes, which were stuck out with
farthingale’s, die of love in tirades of two hundred verses; in vain
did the ‘amants parfaits’ starve themselves in solitary caves, deploring
their death in emphatic tones, and fastening to their hair ribbons of
the favorite color of their mistress; in vain did the ladies of the
court exhibit signs of perfect ecstasy, leaning over the edges of their
boxes, and even attempt a few fainting-fits--the silent pit gave no
other sign of life than the perpetual shaking of black heads with long
hair.

The Cardinal bit his lips and played the abstracted during the first
and second acts; the silence in which the third and fourth passed off
so wounded his paternal heart that he had himself raised half out of the
balcony, and in this uncomfortable and ridiculous position signed to
the court to remark the finest passages, and himself gave the signal for
applause. It was acted upon from some of the boxes, but the impassible
pit was more silent than ever; leaving the affair entirely between
the stage and the upper regions, they obstinately remained neuter. The
master of Europe and France then cast a furious look at this handful of
men who dared not to admire his work, feeling in his heart the wish of
Nero, and thought for a moment how happy he should be if all those men
had but one head.

Suddenly this black and before silent mass became animated, and endless
rounds of applause burst forth, to the great astonishment of the boxes,
and above all, of the minister. He bent forward and bowed gratefully,
but drew back on perceiving that the clapping of hands interrupted the
actors every time they wished to proceed. The King had the curtains
of his box, until then closed, opened, to see what excited so much
enthusiasm. The whole court leaned forward from their boxes, and
perceived among the spectators on the stage a young man, humbly dressed,
who had just seated himself there with difficulty. Every look was fixed
upon him. He appeared utterly embarrassed by this, and sought to cover
himself with his little black cloak-far too short for the purpose. “Le
Cid! le Cid!” cried the pit, incessantly applauding.

“Terrified, Corneille escaped behind the scenes, and all was again
silent. The Cardinal, beside himself with fury, had his curtain closed,
and was carried into his galleries, where was performed another
scene, prepared long before by the care of Joseph, who had tutored
the attendants upon the point before quitting Paris. Cardinal Mazarin
exclaimed that it would be quicker to pass his Eminence through a long
glazed window, which was only two feet from the ground, and led from his
box to the apartments; and it opened and the page passed his
armchair through it. Hereupon a hundred voices rose to proclaim the
accomplishment of the grand prophecy of Nostradamus. They said:

“The bonnet rouge!-that’s Monseigneur; ‘quarante onces!’--that’s
Cinq-Mars; ‘tout finira!’--that’s De Thou. What a providential incident!
His Eminence reigns over the future as over the present.”

He advanced thus upon his ambulatory throne through the long and
splendid galleries, listening to this delicious murmur of a new
flattery; but insensible to the hum of voices which deified his genius,
he would have given all their praises for one word, one single gesture
of that immovable and inflexible public, even had that word been a
cry of hatred; for clamor can be stifled, but how avenge one’s self on
silence? The people can be prevented from striking, but who can prevent
their waiting? Pursued by the troublesome phantom of public opinion,
the gloomy minister only thought himself in safety when he reached the
interior of his palace amid his flattering courtiers, whose adorations
soon made him forget that a miserable pit had dared not to admire him.
He had himself placed like a king in the midst of his vast apartments,
and, looking around him, attentively counted the powerful and submissive
men who surrounded him.

Counting them, he admired himself. The chiefs of the great families,
the princes of the Church, the presidents of all the parliaments, the
governors of the provinces, the marshals and generals-in-chief of the
armies, the nuncio, the ambassadors of all the kingdoms, the deputies
and senators of the republics, were motionless, submissive, and ranged
around him, as if awaiting his orders. There was no longer a look to
brave his look, no longer a word to raise itself against his will, not a
project that men dared to form in the most secret recesses of the heart,
not a thought which did not proceed from his. Mute Europe listened to
him by its representatives. From time to time he raise an imperious
voice, and threw a self-satisfied word to this pompous circle, as a
man who throws a copper coin among a crowd of beggars. Then might be
distinguished, by the pride which lit up his looks and the joy visible
in his countenance, the prince who had received such a favor.

Transformed into another man, he seemed to have made a step in the
hierarchy of power, so surrounded with unlooked-for adorations and
sudden caresses was the fortunate courtier, whose obscure happiness
the Cardinal did not even perceive. The King’s brother and the Duc
de Bouillon stood in the crowd, whence the minister did not deign to
withdraw them. Only he ostentatiously said that it would be well
to dismantle a few fortresses, spoke at length of the necessity of
pavements and quays at Paris, and said in two words to Turenne that
he might perhaps be sent to the army in Italy, to seek his baton as
marechal from Prince Thomas.

While Richelieu thus played with the great and small things of Europe,
amid his noisy fete, the Queen was informed at the Louvre that the time
was come for her to proceed to the Cardinal’s palace, where the King
awaited her after the tragedy. The serious Anne of Austria did not
witness any play; but she could not refuse her presence at the fete of
the Prime-Minister. She was in her oratory, ready to depart, and covered
with pearls, her favorite ornament; standing opposite a large glass with
Marie de Mantua, she was arranging more to her satisfaction one or two
details of the young Duchess’s toilette, who, dressed in a long pink
robe, was herself contemplating with attention, though with somewhat of
ennui and a little sullenness, the ensemble of her appearance.

She saw her own work in Marie, and, more troubled, thought with deep
apprehension of the moment when this transient calm would cease, despite
the profound knowledge she had of the feeling but frivolous character of
Marie. Since the conversation at St.-Germain (the fatal letter), she had
not quitted the young Princess, and had bestowed all her care to lead
her mind to the path which she had traced out for her, for the most
decided feature in the character of Anne of Austria was an invincible
obstinacy in her calculations, to which she would fain have subjected
all events and all passions with a geometrical exactitude. There is no
doubt that to this positive and immovable mind we must attribute all the
misfortunes of her regency. The sombre reply of Cinq-Mars; his arrest;
his trial--all had been concealed from the Princesse Marie, whose first
fault, it is true, had been a movement of self-love and a momentary
forgetfulness.

However, the Queen by nature was good-hearted, and had bitterly repented
her precipitation in writing words so decisive, and whose consequences
had been so serious; and all her endeavors had been applied to mitigate
the results. In reflecting upon her conduct in reference to the
happiness of France, she applauded herself for having thus, at one
stroke, stifled the germ of a civil war which would have shaken the
State to its very foundations. But when she approached her young friend
and gazed on that charming being whose happiness she was thus destroying
in its bloom, and reflected that an old man upon a throne, even, would
not recompense her for the eternal loss she was about to sustain; when
she thought of the entire devotion, the total abnegation of himself, she
had witnessed in a young man of twenty-two, of so lofty a character,
and almost master of the kingdom--she pitied Marie, and admired from her
very soul the man whom she had judged so ill.

She would at least have desired to explain his worth to her whom he had
loved so deeply, and who as yet knew him not; but she still hoped that
the conspirators assembled at Lyons would be able to save him, and
once knowing him to be in a foreign land she could tell all to her dear
Marie.

As to the latter, she had at first feared war. But surrounded by the
Queen’s people, who had let nothing reach her ear but news dictated by
this Princess, she knew, or thought she knew, that the conspiracy had
not taken place; that the King and the Cardinal had returned to Paris
nearly at the same time; that Monsieur, relapsed for a while, had
reappeared at court; that the Duc de Bouillon, on ceding Sedan, had
also been restored to favor; and that if the ‘grand ecuyer’ had not
yet appeared, the reason was the more decided animosity of the Cardinal
toward him, and the greater part he had taken in the conspiracy. But
common sense and natural justice clearly said that having acted under
the order of the King’s brother, his pardon ought to follow that of this
Prince.

All then, had calmed the first uneasiness of her heart, while nothing
had softened the kind of proud resentment she felt against Cinq-Mars, so
indifferent as not to inform her of the place of his retreat, known
to the Queen and the whole court, while, she said to herself, she had
thought but of him. Besides, for two months the balls and fetes had
so rapidly succeeded each other, and so many mysterious duties had
commanded her presence, that she had for reflection and regret scarce
more than the time of her toilette, at which she was generally almost
alone. Every evening she regularly commenced the general reflection upon
the ingratitude and inconstancy of men--a profound and novel thought,
which never fails to occupy the head of a young person in the time of
first love--but sleep never permitted her to finish the reflection; and
the fatigue of dancing closed her large black eyes ere her ideas had
found time to classify themselves in her memory, or to present her with
any distinct images of the past.

In the morning she was always surrounded by the young princesses of the
court, and ere she well had time to dress had to present herself in
the Queen’s apartment, where awaited her the eternal, but now less
disagreeable homage of the Prince-Palatine. The Poles had had time to
learn at the court of France that mysterious reserve, that eloquent
silence which so pleases the women, because it enhances the importance
of things always secret, and elevates those whom they respect, so as to
preclude the idea of exhibiting suffering in their presence. Marie was
regarded as promised to King Uladislas; and she herself--we must confess
it--had so well accustomed herself to this idea that the throne of
Poland occupied by another queen would have appeared to her a monstrous
thing. She did not look forward with pleasure to the period of ascending
it, but had, however, taken possession of the homage which was rendered
her beforehand. Thus, without avowing it even to herself, she greatly
exaggerated the supposed offences of Cinq-Mars, which the Queen had
expounded to her at St. Germain.

“You are as fresh as the roses in this bouquet,” said the Queen. “Come,
‘ma chere’, are you ready? What means this pouting air? Come, let me
fasten this earring. Do you not like these toys, eh? Will you have
another set of ornaments?”

“Oh, no, Madame. I think that I ought not to decorate myself at all, for
no one knows better than yourself how unhappy I am. Men are very cruel
toward us!

“I have reflected on what you said, and all is now clear to me. Yes, it
is quite true that he did not love me, for had he loved me he would have
renounced an enterprise that gave me so much uneasiness. I told him, I
remember, indeed, which was very decided,” she added, with an important
and even solemn air, “that he would be a rebel--yes, Madame, a rebel. I
told him so at Saint-Eustache. But I see that your Majesty was right.
I am very unfortunate! He had more ambition than love.” Here a tear of
pique escaped from her eyes, and rolled quickly down her cheek, as a
pearl upon a rose.

“Yes, it is certain,” she continued, fastening her bracelets; “and
the greatest proof is that in the two months he has renounced his
enterprise--you told me that you had saved him--he has not let me know
the place of his retreat, while I during that time have been weeping,
have been imploring all your power in his favor; have sought but a word
that might inform me of his proceedings. I have thought but of him;
and even now I refuse every day the throne of Poland, because I wish to
prove to the end that I am constant, that you yourself can not make me
disloyal to my attachment, far more serious than his, and that we are of
higher worth than the men. But, however, I think I may attend this fete,
since it is not a ball.”

“Yes, yes, my dear child! come, come!” said the Queen, desirous of
putting an end to this childish talk, which afflicted her all the more
that it was herself who had encouraged it. “Come, you will see the union
that prevails between the princes and the Cardinal, and we shall perhaps
hear some good news.” They departed.

When the two princesses entered the long galleries of the
Palais-Cardinal, they were received and coldly saluted by the King and
the minister, who, closely surrounded by silent courtiers, were playing
at chess upon a small low table. All the ladies who entered with the
Queen or followed her, spread through the apartments; and soon soft
music sounded in one of the saloons--a gentle accompaniment to the
thousand private conversations carried on round the play tables.

Near the Queen passed, saluting her, a young newly married couple--the
happy Chabot and the beautiful Duchesse de Rohan. They seemed to
shun the crowd, and to seek apart a moment to speak to each other of
themselves. Every one received them with a smile and looked after them
with envy. Their happiness was expressed as strongly in the countenances
of others as in their own.

Marie followed them with her eyes. “Still they are happy,” she whispered
to the Queen, remembering the censure which in her hearing had been
thrown upon the match.

But without answering, Anne of Austria, fearful that in the crowd some
inconsiderate expression might inform her young friend of the mournful
event so interesting to her, placed herself with Marie behind the King.
Monsieur, the Prince-Palatine, and the Duc de Bouillon came to speak to
her with a gay and lively air. The second, however, casting upon Marie a
severe and scrutinizing glance, said to her:

“Madame la Princesse, you are most surprisingly beautiful and gay this
evening.”

She was confused at these words, and at seeing the speaker walk away
with a sombre air. She addressed herself to the Duc d’Orleans, who did
not answer, and seemed not to hear her. Marie looked at the Queen, and
thought she remarked paleness and disquiet on her features. Meantime, no
one ventured to approach the minister, who was deliberately meditating
his moves. Mazarin alone, leaning over his chair, followed all the
strokes with a servile attention, giving gestures of admiration every
time that the Cardinal played. Application to the game seemed to have
dissipated for a moment the cloud that usually shaded the minister’s
brow. He had just advanced a tower, which placed Louis’s king in that
false position which is called “stalemate,”--a situation in which the
ebony king, without being personally attacked, can neither advance nor
retire in any direction. The Cardinal, raising his eyes, looked at his
adversary and smiled with one corner of his mouth, not being able
to avoid a secret analogy. Then, observing the dim eyes and dying
countenance of the Prince, he whispered to Mazarin:

“Faith, I think he’ll go before me. He is greatly changed.”

At the same time he himself was seized with a long and violent cough,
accompanied internally with the sharp, deep pain he so often felt in the
side. At the sinister warning he put a handkerchief to his mouth, which
he withdrew covered with blood. To hide it, he threw it under the table,
and looked around him with a stern smile, as if to forbid observation.
Louis XIII, perfectly insensible, did not make the least movement,
beyond arranging his men for another game with a skeleton and trembling
hand. There two dying men seemed to be throwing lots which should depart
first.

At this moment a clock struck the hour of midnight. The King raised his
head.

“Ah, ah!” he said; “this morning at twelve Monsieur le Grand had a
disagreeable time of it.”

A piercing shriek was uttered behind him. He shuddered, and threw
himself forward, upsetting the table. Marie de Mantua lay senseless in
the arms of the Queen, who, weeping bitterly, said in the King’s ear:

“Ah, Sire, your axe has a double edge.”

She then bestowed all her cares and maternal kisses upon the young
Princess, who, surrounded by all the ladies of the court, only came
to herself to burst into a torrent of tears. As soon as she opened her
eyes, “Alas! yes, my child,” said Anne of Austria. “My poor girl, you
are Queen of Poland.”

It has often happened that the same event which causes tears to flow in
the palace of kings has spread joy without, for the people ever suppose
that happiness reigns at festivals. There were five days’ rejoicings for
the return of the minister, and every evening under the windows of the
Palais-Cardinal and those of the Louvre pressed the people of Paris.
The late disturbances had given them a taste for public movements. They
rushed from one street to another with a curiosity at times insulting
and hostile, sometimes walking in silent procession, sometimes sending
forth loud peals of laughter or prolonged yells, of which no one
understood the meaning. Bands of young men fought in the streets and
danced in rounds in the squares, as if manifesting some secret hope of
pleasure and some insensate joy, grievous to the upright heart.

It was remarkable that profound silence prevailed exactly in those
places where the minister had ordered rejoicings, and that the people
passed disdainfully before the illuminated facade of his palace. If some
voices were raised, it was to read aloud in a sneering tone the legends
and inscriptions with which the idiot flattery of some obscure writers
had surrounded the portraits of the minister. One of these pictures was
guarded by arquebusiers, who, however, could not preserve it from the
stones which were thrown at it from a distance by unseen hands. It
represented the Cardinal-Generalissimo wearing a casque surrounded by
laurels. Above it was inscribed:

     “Grand Duc: c’est justement que la France t’honore;
     Ainsi que le dieu Mars dans Paris on t’adore.”

These fine phrases did not persuade the people that they were happy.
They no more adored the Cardinal than they did the god Mars, but they
accepted his fetes because they served as a covering for disorder. All
Paris was in an uproar. Men with long beards, carrying torches, measures
of wine, and two drinking-cups, which they knocked together with a great
noise, went along, arm in arm, shouting in chorus with rude voices an
old round of the League:

            “Reprenons la danse;
             Allons, c’est assez.
             Le printemps commence;
             Les rois sont passes.

            “Prenons quelque treve;
             Nous sommes lasses.
             Les rois de la feve
             Nous ont harasses.

            “Allons, Jean du Mayne,
             Les rois sont passes.

            “Les rois de la feve
             Nous ont harasses.
             Allons, Jean du Mayne,
             Les rois sont passes.”

The frightful bands who howled forth these words traversed the Quais and
the Pont-Neuf, squeezing against the high houses, which then covered the
latter, the peaceful citizens who were led there by simple curiosity.
Two young men, wrapped in cloaks, thus thrown one against the other,
recognized each other by the light of a torch placed at the foot of the
statue of Henri IV, which had been lately raised.

“What! still at Paris?” said Corneille to Milton. “I thought you were in
London.”

“Hear you the people, Monsieur? Do you hear them? What is this ominous
chorus,

     ‘Les rois sont passes’?”

“That is nothing, Monsieur. Listen to their conversation.”

“The parliament is dead,” said one of the men; “the nobles are dead.
Let us dance; we are the masters. The old Cardinal is dying. There is no
longer any but the King and ourselves.”

“Do you hear that drunken wretch, Monsieur?” asked Corneille. “All our
epoch is in those words of his.”

“What! is this the work of the minister who is called great among you,
and even by other nations? I do not understand him.”

“I will explain the matter to you presently,” answered Corneille. “But
first listen to the concluding part of this letter, which I received
to-day. Draw near this light under the statue of the late King. We are
alone. The crowd has passed. Listen!

   “It was by one of those unforeseen circumstances which prevent the
   accomplishment of the noblest enterprises that we were not able to
   save MM. de Cinq-Mars and De Thou. We might have foreseen that,
   prepared for death by long meditation, they would themselves refuse
   our aid; but this idea did not occur to any of us. In the
   precipitation of our measures, we also committed the fault of
   dispersing ourselves too much in the crowd, so that we could not
   take a sudden resolution. I was unfortunately stationed near the
   scaffold; and I saw our unfortunate friends advance to the foot of
   it, supporting the poor Abbe Quillet, who was destined to behold the
   death of the pupil whose birth he had witnessed. He sobbed aloud,
   and had strength enough only to kiss the hands of the two friends.
   We all advanced, ready to throw ourselves upon the guards at the
   announced signal; but I saw with grief M. de Cinq-Mars cast his hat
   from him with an air of disdain. Our movement had been observed,
   and the Catalonian guard was doubled round the scaffold. I could
   see no more; but I heard much weeping around me. After the three
   usual blasts of the trumpet, the recorder of Lyons, on horseback at
   a little distance from the scaffold, read the sentence of death, to
   which neither of the prisoners listened. M. de Thou said to M. de
   Cinq-Mars:

   “‘Well, dear friend, which shall die first? Do you remember Saint-
   Gervais and Saint-Protais?’

   “‘Which you think best,’ answered Cinq-Mars.

   “The second confessor, addressing M. de Thou, said, ‘You are the
   elder.’

   “‘True,’ said M. de Thou; and, turning to M. le Grand, ‘You are the
   most generous; you will show me the way to the glory of heaven.’

   “‘Alas!’ said Cinq-Mars; ‘I have opened to you that of the
   precipice; but let us meet death nobly, and we shall revel in the
   glory and happiness of heaven!’

   “Hereupon he embraced him, and ascended the scaffold with surprising
   address and agility. He walked round the scaffold, and contemplated
   the whole of the great assembly with a calm countenance, which
   betrayed no sign of fear, and a serious and graceful manner. He
   then went round once more, saluting the people on every side,
   without appearing to recognize any of us, with a majestic and
   charming expression of face; he then knelt down, raising his eyes to
   heaven, adoring God, and recommending himself to Him. As he
   embraced the crucifix, the father confessor called to the people to
   pray for him; and M. le Grand, opening his arms, still holding his
   crucifix, made the same request to the people. Then he readily
   knelt before the block, holding the stake, placed his neck upon it,
   and asked the confessor, ‘Father, is this right?’ Then, while they
   were cutting off his hair, he raised his eyes to heaven, and said,
   sighing:

   “‘My God, what is this world? My God, I offer thee my death as a
   satisfaction for my sins!’

   “‘What are you waiting for? What are you doing there?’ he said to
   the executioner, who had not yet taken his axe from an old bag he
   had brought with him. His confessor, approaching, gave him a
   medallion; and he, with an incredible tranquillity of mind, begged
   the father to hold the crucifix before his eyes, which he would not
   allow to be bound. I saw the two trembling hands of the Abbe
   Quillet, who raised the crucifix. At this moment a voice, as clear
   and pure as that of an angel, commenced the ‘Ave, maris stella’.
   In the universal silence I recognized the voice of M. de Thou, who
   was at the foot of the scaffold; the people repeated the sacred
   strain. M. de Cinq-Mars clung more tightly to the stake; and I saw
   a raised axe, made like the English axes. A terrible cry of the
   people from the Place, the windows, and the towers told me that it
   had fallen, and that the head had rolled to the ground. I had
   happily strength enough left to think of his soul, and to commence a
   prayer for him.

   “I mingled it with that which I heard pronounced aloud by our
   unfortunate and pious friend De Thou. I rose and saw him spring
   upon the scaffold with such promptitude that he might almost have
   been said to fly. The father and he recited a psalm; he uttered it
   with the ardor of a seraphim, as if his soul had borne his body to
   heaven. Then, kneeling down, he kissed the blood of Cinq-Mars as
   that of a martyr, and became himself a greater martyr. I do not
   know whether God was pleased to grant him this last favor; but I saw
   with horror that the executioner, terrified no doubt at the first
   blow he had given, struck him upon the top of his head, whither the
   unfortunate young man raised his hand; the people sent forth a long
   groan, and advanced against the executioner. The poor wretch,
   terrified still more, struck him another blow, which only cut the
   skin and threw him upon the scaffold, where the executioner rolled
   upon him to despatch him. A strange event terrified the people as
   much as the horrible spectacle. M. de Cinq-Mars’ old servant held
   his horse as at a military funeral; he had stopped at the foot of
   the scaffold, and like a man paralyzed, watched his master to the
   end, then suddenly, as if struck by the same axe, fell dead under
   the blow which had taken off his master’s head.

   “I write these sad details in haste, on board a Genoese galley, into
   which Fontrailles, Gondi, Entraigues, Beauvau, Du Lude, myself, and
   others of the chief conspirators have retired. We are going to
   England to await until time shall deliver France from the tyrant
   whom we could not destroy. I abandon forever the service of the
   base Prince who betrayed us.

                       “MONTRESOR”

“Such,” continued Corneille, “has been the fate of these two young men
whom you lately saw so powerful. Their last sigh was that of the ancient
monarchy. Nothing more than a court can reign here henceforth; the
nobles and the senates are destroyed.”

“And this is your pretended great man!” said Milton. “What has he
sought to do? He would, then, create republics for future ages, since he
destroys the basis of your monarchy?”

“Look not so far,” answered Corneille; “he only seeks to reign until the
end of his life. He has worked for the present and not for the future;
he has continued the work of Louis XI; and neither one nor the other
knew what they were doing.”

The Englishman smiled.

“I thought,” he said, “that true genius followed another path. This man
has shaken all that he ought to have supported, and they admire him! I
pity your nation.”

“Pity it not!” exclaimed Corneille, warmly; “a man passes away, but a
people is renewed. This people, Monsieur, is gifted with an immortal
energy, which nothing can destroy; its imagination often leads it
astray, but superior reason will ever ultimately master its disorders.”

The two young and already great men walked, as they conversed, upon the
space which separates the statue of Henri IV from the Place Dauphine;
they stopped a moment in the centre of this Place.

“Yes, Monsieur,” continued Corneille, “I see every evening with what
rapidity a noble thought finds its echo in French hearts; and every
evening I retire happy at the sight. Gratitude prostrates the poor
people before this statue of a good king! Who knows what other monument
another passion may raise near this? Who can say how far the love of
glory will lead our people? Who knows that in the place where we now
are, there may not be raised a pyramid taken from the East?”

“These are the secrets of the future,” said Milton. “I, like yourself,
admire your impassioned nation; but I fear them for themselves. I do
not well understand them; and I do not recognize their wisdom when I see
them lavishing their admiration upon men such as he who now rules you.
The love of power is very puerile; and this man is devoured by it,
without having force enough to seize it wholly. By an utter absurdity,
he is a tyrant under a master. Thus has this colossus, never firmly
balanced, been all but overthrown by the finger of a boy. Does that
indicate genius? No, no! when genius condescends to quit the lofty
regions of its true home for a human passion, at least, it should grasp
that passion in its entirety. Since Richelieu only aimed at power, why
did he not, if he was a genius, make himself absolute master of power?
I am going to see a man who is not yet known, and whom I see swayed by
this miserable ambition; but I think that he will go farther. His name
is Cromwell!”


     ETEXT EDITOR’S BOOKMARKS:

     A cat is a very fine animal. It is a drawing-room tiger
     A queen’s country is where her throne is
     Adopted fact is always better composed than the real one
     Advantage that a calm temper gives one over men
     All that he said, I had already thought
     Always the first word which is the most difficult to say
     Ambition is the saddest of all hopes
     Art is the chosen truth
     Artificialities of style of that period
     Artistic Truth, more lofty than the True
     As Homer says, “smiling under tears”
      Assume with others the mien they wore toward him
     But how avenge one’s self on silence?
     Dare now to be silent when I have told you these things
     Daylight is detrimental to them
     Deny the spirit of self-sacrifice
     Difference which I find between Truth in art and the True in fac
     Doubt, the greatest misery of love
     Friendship exists only in independence and a kind of equality
     Happy is he who does not outlive his youth
     Hatred of everything which is superior to myself
     He did not blush to be a man, and he spoke to men with force
     Hermits can not refrain from inquiring what men say of them
     History too was a work of art
     I have burned all the bridges behind me
     In pitying me he forgot himself
     In every age we laugh at the costume of our fathers
     In times like these we must see all and say all
     It is not now what it used to be
     It is too true that virtue also has its blush
     Lofty ideal of woman and of love
     Men are weak, and there are things which women must accomplish
     Money is not a common thing between gentlemen like you and me
     Monsieur, I know that I have lived too long
     Neither idealist nor realist
     Never interfered in what did not concern him
     No writer had more dislike of mere pedantry
     Offices will end by rendering great names vile
     Princes ought never to be struck, except on the head
     Princesses ceded like a town, and must not even weep
     Principle that art implied selection
     Recommended a scrupulous observance of nature
     Remedy infallible against the plague and against reserve
     Reproaches are useless and cruel if the evil is done
     Should be punished for not having known how to punish
     So strongly does force impose upon men
     Tears for the future
     The great leveller has swung a long scythe over France
     The most in favor will be the soonest abandoned by him
     The usual remarks prompted by imbecility on such occasions
     These ideas may serve as opium to produce a calm
     They tremble while they threaten
     They have believed me incapable because I was kind
     They loved not as you love, eh?
     This popular favor is a cup one must drink
     This was the Dauphin, afterward Louis XIV
     True talent paints life rather than the living
     Truth, I here venture to distinguish from that of the True
     Urbain Grandier
     What use is the memory of facts, if not to serve as an example
     Woman is more bitter than death, and her arms are like chains
     Yes, we are in the way here





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