Part 1 out of 12
Produced by Robert J. Hall
CHICOT THE JESTER
[Abridged translation of "La dame de Monsoreau"]
BY ALEXANDRE DUMAS
THE WEDDING OF ST. LUC.
On the evening of a Sunday, in the year 1578, a splendid fete was
given in the magnificent hotel just built opposite the Louvre,
on the other side of the water, by the family of Montmorency, who,
allied to the royalty of France, held themselves equal to princes.
This fete was to celebrate the wedding of Francois d'Epinay de
St. Luc, a great friend and favorite of the king, Henri III.,
with Jeanne de Crosse-Brissac, daughter of the marshal of that
The banquet had taken place at the Louvre, and the king, who had
been with much difficulty induced to consent to the marriage, had
appeared at it with a severe and grave countenance. His costume
was in harmony with his face; he wore that suit of deep chestnut,
in which Clouet described him at the wedding of Joyeuse; and
this kind of royal specter, solemn and majestic, had chilled
all the spectators, but above all the young bride, at whom he
cast many angry glances. The reason of all this was known to
everyone, but was one of those court secrets of which no one likes
Scarcely was the repast finished, when the king had risen abruptly,
thereby forcing everyone to do the same. Then St. Luc approached
him, and said: "Sire, will your majesty do me the honor to accept
the fete, which I wish to give to you this evening at the Hotel
Montmorency?" This was said in an imploring tone, but Henri,
with a voice betraying both vexation and anger, had replied:
"Yes, monsieur, we will go, although you certainly do not merit
this proof of friendship on our part."
Then Madame de St. Luc had humbly thanked the king, but he turned
his back without replying.
"Is the king angry with you?" asked the young wife of her husband.
"I will explain it to you after, mon amie, when this anger shall
have passed away."
"And will it pass away?"
Mademoiselle de Brissac was not yet sufficiently Madame de St.
Luc to insist further; therefore she repressed her curiosity,
promising herself to satisfy it at a more favorable time.
They were, therefore, expecting St. Luc at the Hotel Montmorency,
at the moment in which our story commences. St. Luc had invited
all the king's friends and all his own; the princes and their
favorites, particularly those of the Duc d'Anjou. He was always
in opposition to the king, but in a hidden manner, pushing forward
those of his friends whom the example of La Mole and Coconnas
had not cured. Of course, his favorites and those of the king
lived in a state of antagonism, which brought on rencontres two
or three times a month, in which it was rare that some one was
not killed or badly wounded.
As for Catherine, she was at the height of her wishes; her favorite
son was on the throne, and she reigned through him, while she
pretended to care no more for the things of this world. St. Luc,
very uneasy at the absence of all the royal family, tried to
reassure his father-in-law, who was much distressed at this menacing
absence. Convinced, like all the world, of the friendship of
Henri for St. Luc, he had believed he was assuring the royal
favor, and now this looked like a disgrace. St. Luc tried hard
to inspire in them a security which he did not feel himself;
and his friends, Maugiron, Schomberg, and Quelus, clothed in
their most magnificent dresses, stiff in their splendid doublets,
with enormous frills, added to his annoyance by their ironical
"Eh! mon Dieu! my poor friend," said Jacques de Levis, Comte
de Quelus, "I believe now that you are done for. The king is
angry that you would not take his advice, and M. d'Anjou because
you laughed at his nose."
"No, Quelus, the king does not come, because he has made a pilgrimage
to the monks of the Bois de Vincennes; and the Duc d'Anjou is
absent, because he is in love with some woman whom I have forgotten
"But," said Maugiron, "did you see the king's face at dinner?
And as for the duke, if he could not come, his gentlemen might.
There is not one here, not even Bussy."
"Oh! gentlemen," said the Duc de Brissac, in a despairing tone,
"it looks like a complete disgrace. Mon Dieu! how can our house,
always so devoted to his majesty, have displeased him?"
The young men received this speech with bursts of laughter, which
did not tend to soothe the marquis. The young bride was also
wondering how St. Luc could have displeased the king. All at once
one of the doors opened and the king was announced.
"Ah!" cried the marshal, "now I fear nothing; if the Duc d'Anjou
would but come, my satisfaction would be complete."
"And I," murmured St. Luc; "I have more fear of the king present
than absent, for I fear he comes to play me some spiteful tricks."
But, nevertheless, he ran to meet the king, who had quitted at last
his somber costume, and advanced resplendent in satin, feathers,
and jewels. But at the instant he entered another door opened
just opposite, and a second Henri III., clothed exactly like
the first, appeared, so that the courtiers, who had run to meet
the first, turned round at once to look at the second.
Henri III. saw the movement, and exclaimed:
"What is the matter, gentlemen?"
A burst of laughter was the reply. The king, not naturally patient,
and less so that day than usual, frowned; but St. Luc approached,
"Sire, it is Chicot, your jester, who is dressed exactly like
your majesty, and is giving his hand to the ladies to kiss."
Henri laughed. Chicot enjoyed at his court a liberty similar
to that enjoyed thirty years before by Triboulet at the court
of Francois I., and forty years after by Longely at the court
of Louis XIII. Chicot was not an ordinary jester. Before being
Chicot he had been "De Chicot." He was a Gascon gentleman, who,
ill-treated by M. de Mayenne on account of a rivalry in a love
affair, in which Chicot had been victorious, had taken refuge
at court, and prayed the king for his protection by telling him
"Eh, M. Chicot," said Henri, "two kings at a time are too much."
"Then," replied he, "let me continue to be one, and you play Duc
d'Anjou; perhaps you will be taken for him, and learn something
of his doings."
"So," said Henri, looking round him, "Anjou is not here."
"The more reason for you to replace him. It is settled, I am
Henri, and you are Francois. I will play the king, while you dance
and amuse yourself a little, poor king."
"You are right, Chicot, I will dance."
"Decidedly," thought De Brissac, "I was wrong to think the king
angry; he is in an excellent humor."
Meanwhile St. Luc had approached his wife. She was not a beauty,
but she had fine black eyes, white teeth, and a dazzling complexion.
"Monsieur," said she to her husband, "why did they say that the
king was angry with me; he has done nothing but smile on me ever
since he came?"
"You did not say so after dinner, dear Jeanne, for his look then
"His majesty was, doubtless, out of humor then, but now--"
"Now, it is far worse; he smiles with closed lips. I would rather
he showed me his teeth. Jeanne, my poor child, he is preparing
for us some disagreeable surprise. Oh I do not look at me so
tenderly, I beg; turn your back to me. Here is Maugiron coming;
converse with him, and be amiable to him."
"That is a strange recommendation, monsieur."
But St. Luc left his wife full of astonishment, and went to pay
his court to Chicot, who was playing his part with a most laughable
The king danced, but seemed never to lose sight of St. Luc. Sometimes
he called him to repeat to him some pleasantry, which, whether
droll or not, made St. Luc laugh heartily. Sometimes he offered
him out of his comfit box sweetmeats and candied fruits, which
St. Luc found excellent. If he disappeared for an instant, the
king sent for him, and seemed not happy if he was out of his
sight. All at once a voice rose above all the tumult.
"Oh!" said Henri, "I think I hear the voice of Chicot; do you
hear, St. Luc?--the king is angry."
"Yes, sire, it sounds as though he were quarreling with some one."
"Go and see what it is, and come back and tell me."
As St. Luc approached he heard Chicot crying:
"I have made sumptuary laws, but if they are not enough I will
make more; at least they shall be numerous, if they are not good.
By the horn of Beelzebub, six pages, M. de Bussy, are too much."
And Chicot, swelling out his cheeks, and putting his hand to his
side, imitated the king to the life.
"What does he say about Bussy?" asked the king, when St. Luc
returned. St. Luc was about to reply, when the crowd opening,
showed to him six pages, dressed in cloth of gold, covered with
chains, and bearing on their breasts the arms of their masters,
sparkling in jewels. Behind them came a young man, handsome and
proud; who walked with his head raised and a haughty look, and
whose simple dress of black velvet contrasted with the splendor
of his pages. This was Bussy d'Amboise. Maugiron, Schomberg,
and Quelus had drawn near to the king.
"See," said Maugiron, "here is the servant, but where is the master?
Are you also in disgrace with him, St. Luc?"
"Why should he follow Bussy?" said Quelus.
"Do you not remember that when his majesty did M. de Bussy the
honor to ask him if he wished to belong to him, he replied that,
being of the House of Clermont, he followed no one, and belonged
The king frowned.
"Yes," said Maugiron, "whatever you say, he serves the Duc d'Anjou."
"Then it is because the duke is greater than the king."
No observation could have been more annoying to the king than
this, for he detested the Duc d'Anjou. Thus, although he did
not answer, he grew pale.
"Come, come, gentlemen," said St. Luc, trembling, "a little charity
for my guests, if you please; do not spoil my wedding day."
"Yes," said the king, in a mocking tone; "do not spoil St. Luc's
"Oh!" said Schomberg, "is Bussy allied to the Brissacs?--since
St. Luc defends him."
"He is neither my friend nor relation, but he is my guest," said
St. Luc. The king gave an angry look. "Besides," he hastened
to add, "I do not defend him the least in the world."
Bussy approached gravely behind his pages to salute the king,
when Chicot cried:
"Oh, la! Bussy d'Amboise, Louis de Clermont, Comte de Bussy,
do you not see the true Henri, do you not know the true king
from the false? He to whom you are going is Chicot, my jester,
at whom I so often laugh."
Bussy continued his way, and was about to bow before the king,
when he said:
"Do you not hear, M. de Bussy, you are called?" and, amidst shouts
of laughter from his minions, he turned his back to the young
captain. Bussy reddened with anger, but he affected to take the
king's remark seriously, and turning round towards Chicot:
"Ah! pardon, sire," said he, "there are kings who resemble jesters
so much, that you will excuse me, I hope, for having taken a
jester for a king."
"Hein," murmured Henri, "what does he say?"
"Nothing, sire," said St. Luc.
"Nevertheless, M. Bussy," said Chicot; "it was unpardonable."
"Sire, I was preoccupied."
"With your pages, monsieur," said Chicot; "you ruin yourself in
pages, and, par la mordieu, it is infringing our prerogatives."
"How so? I beg your majesty to explain."
"Cloth of gold for them, while you a gentleman, a colonel, a
Clermont, almost a prince, wear simple black velvet."
"Sire," said Bussy, turning towards the kings' minions, "as we
live in a time when lackeys dress like princes, I think it good
taste for princes to dress like lackeys."
And he returned to the young men in their splendid dress the
impertinent smiles which they had bestowed on him a little before.
They grew pale with fury, and seemed only to wait the king's
permission to fall upon Bussy.
"Is it for me and mine that you say that?" asked Chicot, speaking
like the king.
Three friends of Bussy's now drew near to him. These were Charles
d'Antragues, Francois, Vicomte de Ribeirac, and Livarot. Seeing
all this, St. Luc guessed that Bussy was sent by Monsieur to
provoke a quarrel. He trembled more than ever, for he feared
the combatants were about to take his house for a battle-field.
He ran to Quelus, who already had his hand on his sword, and
said, "In Heaven's name be moderate."
"Parbleu, he attacks you as well as us."
"Quelus, think of the Duc d'Anjou, who supports Bussy; you do
not suppose I fear Bussy himself?"
"Eh! Mordieu, what need we fear; we belong to the king. If we
get into peril for him he will help us."
"You, yes; but me," said St. Luc, piteously.
"Ah dame, why do you marry, knowing how jealous the king is in
"Good," thought St. Luc, "everyone for himself; and as I wish
to live tranquil during the first fortnight of my marriage, I
will make friends with M. Bussy." And he advanced towards him.
After his impertinent speech, Bussy had looked round the room to
see if any one would take notice of it. Seeing St. Luc approach,
he thought he had found what he sought.
"Monsieur," said he, "is it to what I said just now, that I owe
the honor of the conversation you appear to desire?"
"Of what you have just said, I heard nothing. No, I saw you,
and wished to salute you, and thank you for the honor you have
done me by your presence here."
Bussy, who knew the courage of St. Luc, understood at once that
he considered the duties of a host paramount, and answered him
Henri, who had seen the movement said, "Oh, oh! I fear there is
mischief there; I cannot have St. Luc killed. Go and see, Quelus;
no, you are too rash--you, Maugiron."
But St. Luc did not let him approach Bussy, but came to meet him
and returned with him to the king.
"What have you been saying to that coxcomb?" asked the king.
"I said, good evening."
"Oh! was that all?"
St. Luc saw he was wrong. "I said, good evening; adding, that
I would have the honor of saying good morning to-morrow."
"Ah! I suspected it."
"Will your majesty keep my secret?" said St. Luc.
"Oh! parbleu, if you could get rid of him without injury to
The minions exchanged a rapid glance, which Henri III. seemed
not to notice.
"For," continued he, "his insolence is too much."
"Yes, yes," said St. Luc, "but some day he will find his master."
"Oh!" said the king, "he manages the sword well. Why does he not
get bit by some dog?" And he threw a spiteful glance on Bussy,
who was walking about, laughing at all the king's friends.
"Corbleu!" cried Chicot, "do not be so rude to my friends, M.
Bussy, for I draw the sword, though I am a king, as well as if
I was a common man."
"If he continue such pleasantries, I will chastise Chicot, sire,"
"No, no, Maugiron, Chicot is a gentleman. Besides, it is not
he who most deserves punishment, for it is not he who is most
This time there was no mistaking, and Quelus made signs to D'O
and D'Epernon, who had been in a different part of the room,
and had not heard what was going on. "Gentlemen," said Quelus,
"come to the council; you, St. Luc, go and finish making your
peace with the king."
St. Luc approached the king, while the others drew back into a
"Well," said D'Epernon, "what do you want? I was making love,
and I warn you, if your recital be not interesting I shall be
"I wish to tell you that after the ball I set off for the chase."
"For what chase?"
"That of the wild boar."
"What possesses you to go, in this cold, to be killed in some
"Never mind, I am going."
"No, with Maugiron and Schomberg. We hunt for the king."
"Ah! yes, I understand," said Maugiron and Schomberg.
"The king wishes a boar's head for breakfast to-morrow."
"With the neck dressed a l'Italienne," said Maugiron, alluding
to the turn-down collar which Bussy wore in opposition to their
"Ah, ah," said D'Epernon, "I understand."
"What is it?" asked D'O, "for I do not."
"Ah! look round you."
"Did any one laugh at us here?"
"Well, that is the wild boar the king wants."
"You think the king----"
"He asks for it."
"Well, then, so be it. But how do we hunt?"
"In ambush; it is the surest."
Bussy remarked the conference, and, not doubting that they were
talking of him, approached, with his friends.
"Look, Antragues, look, Ribeirac," said he, "how they are grouped;
it is quite touching; it might be Euryale and Nisus, Damon and
Pythias, Castor and----. But where is Pollux?"
"Pollux is married, so that Castor is left alone."
"What can they be doing?"
"I bet they are inventing some new starch."
"No, gentlemen," said Quelus, "we are talking of the chase."
"Really, Signor Cupid," said Bussy; "it is very cold for that.
It will chap your skin."
"Monsieur," replied Maugiron, politely, "we have warm gloves,
and doublets lined with fur."
"Ah! that reassures me," said Bussy; "do you go soon?"
"In that case I must warn the king; what will he say to-morrow,
if he finds his friends have caught cold?"
"Do not give yourself that trouble, monsieur," said Quelus, "his
majesty knows it."
"Do you hunt larks?" asked Bussy, with an impertinent air.
"No, monsieur, we hunt the boar. We want a head. Will you hunt
with us, M. Bussy?"
"No, really, I cannot. To-morrow I must go to the Duc d'Anjou
for the reception of M. de Monsoreau, to whom monseigneur has
just given the place of chief huntsman."
"Ah! To-night, I have a rendezvous in a mysterious house of the
Faubourg St. Antoine."
"Ah! ah!" said D'Epernon, "is the Queen Margot here, incognito,
M. de Bussy?"
"No, it is some one else."
"Who expects you in the Faubourg St. Antoine?"
"Just so, indeed I will ask your advice, M. de Quelus."
"Do so, although I am not a lawyer, I give very good advice."
"They say the streets of Paris are unsafe, and that is a lonely
place. Which way do you counsel me to take?"
"Why, I advise you to take the ferry-boat at the Pre-aux-Clercs,
get out at the corner, and follow the quay until you arrive at
the great Chatelet, and then go through the Rue de la Tixanderie,
until you reach the faubourg. Once at the corner of the Rue St.
Antoine, if you pass the Hotel des Tournelles without accident,
it is probable you will arrive safe and sound at your mysterious
"Thanks for your route, M. de Quelus, I shall be sure to follow
it." And saluting the five friends, he went away.
As Bussy was crossing the last saloon where Madame de St. Luc
was, her husband made a sign to her. She understood at once,
and going up, stopped him.
"Oh! M. de Bussy," said she, "everyone is talking of a sonnet
you have made."
"Against the king, madame?"
"No, in honor of the queen; do tell it to me."
"Willingly, madame," and, offering his arm to her, he went off,
During this time, St. Luc drew softly near his friends, and heard
"The animal will not be difficult to follow; thus then, at the
corner of the Hotel des Tournelles, opposite the Hotel St. Pol."
"With each a lackey?" asked D'Epernon.
"No, no, Nogaret, let us be alone, and keep our own secret, and
do our own work. I hate him, but he is too much a gentleman for
a lackey to touch."
"Shall we go out all six together?"
"All five if you please," said St. Luc.
"Ah! it is true, we forgot your wife."
They heard the king's voice calling St. Luc.
"Gentlemen," said he, "the king calls me. Good sport, au revoir."
And he left them, but instead of going straight to the king, he
ran to where Bussy stood with his wife.
"Ah! monsieur, how hurried you seem," said Bussy. "Are you going
also to join the chase; it would be a proof of your courage,
but not of your gallantry."
"Monsieur, I was seeking you."
"And I was afraid you were gone. Dear Jeanne, tell your father
to try and stop the king, whilst I say a few words tete-a-tete
to M. Bussy." Jeanne went.
"I wish to say to you, monsieur," continued St. Luc, "that if
you have any rendezvous to-night, you would do well to put it
off, for the streets are not safe, and, above all, to avoid the
Hotel des Tournelles, where there is a place where several men
could hide. This is what I wished to say; I know you fear nothing,
At this moment they heard Chicot's voice crying, "St. Luc, St.
Luc, do not hide yourself, I am waiting for you to return to
"Here I am, sire," cried St. Luc, rushing forward. Near Chicot
stood the king, to whom one page was giving his ermine mantle,
and another a velvet mask lined with satin.
"Sire," said St. Luc, "I will have the honor of lighting your
majesties to your litters."
"No," said Henri, "Chicot goes one way, and I another. My friends
are good-for-nothings, who have run away and left me to return
alone to the Louvre. I had counted on them, and you cannot let
me go alone. You are a grave married man, and must take me back
to the queen. Come, my friend, my litter is large enough for two."
Madame de St. Luc, who had heard this, tried to speak, and to
tell her father that the king was carrying away her husband, but
he, placing his fingers on his month, motioned her to be silent.
"I am ready, sire," said he, "to follow you."
When the king took leave, the others followed, and Jeanne was
left alone. She entered her room, and knelt down before the image
of a saint to pray, then sat down to wait for her husband's return.
M. de Brissac sent six men to the Louvre to attend him back. But
two hours after one of them returned, saying, that the Louvre
was closed and that before closing, the captain of the watch
had said, "It is useless to wait longer, no one will leave the
Louvre to-night; his majesty is in bed."
The marshal carried this news to his daughter.
HOW IT IS NOT ALWAYS HE WHO OPENS THE DOOR, WHO ENTERS THE HOUSE.
The Porte St. Antoine was a kind of vault in stone, similar to
our present Porte St. Denis, only it was attached by its left
side to buildings adjacent to the Bastile. The space at the right,
between the gate and the Hotel des Tournelles, was large and
dark, little frequented by day, and quite solitary at night,
for all passers-by took the side next to the fortress, so as
to be in some degree under the protection of the sentinel. Of
course, winter nights were still more feared than summer ones.
That on which the events which we have recounted, and are about
to recount took place, was cold and black. Before the gate on
the side of the city, was no house, but only high walls, those
of the church of St. Paul, and of the Hotel des Tournelles. At
the end of this wall was the niche of which St. Luc had spoken
to Bussy. No lamps lighted this part of Paris at that epoch.
In the nights when the moon charged herself with the lighting
of the earth, the Bastile rose somber and majestic against the
starry blue of the skies, but on dark nights, there seemed only a
thickening of the shadows where it stood. On the night in question,
a practised eye might have detected in the angle of the wall of
the Tournelles several black shades, which moved enough to show
that they belonged to poor devils of human bodies, who seemed
to find it difficult to preserve their natural warmth as they.
stood there. The sentinel from the Bastile; who could not see
them on account of the darkness, could not hear them either,
for they talked almost in whispers. However, the conversation
did not want interest.
"This Bussy was right," said one; "it is a night such as we had
at Warsaw, when Henri was King of Poland, and if this continues
we shall freeze."
"Come, Maugiron, you complain like a woman," replied another:
"it is not warm, I confess; but draw your mantle over your eyes,
and put your hands in your pockets, and you will not feel it."
"Really, Schomberg," said a third, "it is easy to see you are
German. As for me, my lips bleed, and my mustachios are stiff
"It is my hands," said a fourth; "on my honor, I would not swear
I had any."
"You should have taken your mamma's muff, poor Quelus," said
"Eh! mon Dieu, have patience," said a fifth voice; "you will soon
be complaining you are hot."
"I see some one coming through the Rue St. Paul," said Quelus.
"It cannot be him; he named another route."
"Might he not have suspected something, and changed it?"
"You do not know Bussy; where he said he should go, he would go,
if he knew that Satan himself were barring his passage."
"However, here are two men coming."
"Ma foi! yes."
"Let us charge," said Schomberg.
"One moment," said D'Epernon; "do not let us kill good bourgeois,
or poor women. Hold! they stop."
In fact, they had stopped, and looked as if undecided. "Oh, can
they have seen us?"
"We can hardly see ourselves!"
"See, they turn to the left; they stop before a house they are
seeking--they are trying to enter; they will escape us!"
"But it is not him, for he was going to the Faubourg St. Antoine."
"Oh! how do you know he told you right?"
At this supposition they all rushed out, sword in hand, towards
One of the men had just introduced a key into the lock; the door
had yielded and was about to open, when the noise of their assailants
made them turn.
"What is this? Can it be against us, Aurilly?" said one.
"Ah, monseigneur," said the other, who had opened the door, "it
looks like it. Will you name yourself, or keep incognito?"
"Armed men--an ambush!"
"Some jealous lover; I said the lady was too beautiful not to
"Let us enter quickly, Aurilly; we are safer within doors."
"Yes, monseigneur, if there are not enemies within; but how do
He had not time to finish. The young men rushed up; Quelus and
Maugiron made for the door to prevent their entering, while
Schomberg, D'O, and D'Epernon prepared to attack in front. But
he who had been called monseigneur turned towards Quelus, who
was in front, and crossing his arms proudly, said:
"You attack a son of France, M. Quelus!"
Quelus drew back, trembling, and thunderstruck.
"Monseigneur le Duc d'Anjou!" he cried.
"The Duc d'Anjou!" repeated the others.
"Well, gentlemen," cried the duke.
"Monseigneur," stammered D'Epernon, "it was a joke; forgive us."
"Monseigneur," said D'O, "we did not dream of meeting your highness
"A joke!" said the duke; "you have an odd manner of joking, M.
d'Epernon. Since it was not intended for me, whom did your jest
"Monseigneur," said Schomberg; "we saw St. Luc quit the Hotel
Montmorency and come this way; it seemed strange to us, and we
wished to see what took him out on his wedding night."
"M. de St. Luc--you took me for him?"
"M. de St. Luc is a head taller then I am."
"It is true, monseigneur; but he is just the height of M. Aurilly."
"And seeing a man put a key in a lock, we took him for the
principal," added D'O.
"Monseigneur cannot suppose that we had the shadow of an ill-will
towards him, even to disturb his pleasures?"
As he listened, the duke, by a skilful movement, had, little
by little, quitted the door, followed by Aurilly, and was now
at some distance off.
"My pleasures!" said he, angrily; "what makes you think I was
"Ah, monseigneur, in any case pardon us, and let us retire," said
"It is well; adieu, gentlemen; but first listen. I was going
to consult the Jew Manasses, who reads the future; he lives,
as you know, in Rue de la Tournelle. In passing, Aurilly saw
you and took you for the watch, and we, therefore, tried to hide
ourselves in a doorway. And now you know what to believe and
say; it is needless to add, that I do not wish to be followed,"
and he turned away.
"Monseigneur," said Aurilly, "I am sure these men have bad
intentions; it is near midnight, and this is a lonely quarter;
let us return home, I beg."
"No, no; let us profit by their departure."
"Your highness is deceived; they have not gone, but have returned
to their retreat: look in the angle of the Hotel des Tournelles."
Francois looked, and saw that Aurilly was right; it was evident
that they waited for something, perhaps to see if the duke were
really going to the Jew.
"Well, Monseigneur," continued Aurilly, "do you not think it will
be more prudent to go home?"
"Mordieu! yet it is annoying to give up."
"Yes; but it can be put off. I told your highness that the house
is taken for a year; we know the lady lodges on the first story.
We have gained her maid, and have a key which opens the door:
you may wait safely."
"You are sure that the door yielded?"
"Yes, at the third key I tried."
"Are you sure you shut it again?"
Aurilly did not feel sure, as he said, but he did not choose to
"Well, I will go; I shall return some other time." And the duke
went away, promising to payoff the gentlemen for their interruption.
They had hardly disappeared, when the five companions saw approach
a cavalier wrapped in a large cloak. The steps of his horse resounded
on the frozen ground, and they went slowly and with precaution,
for it was slippery.
"This time," said Quelus, "it is he."
"Impossible," said Maugiron.
"Because he is alone, and we left him with Livarot, Antragues,
and Ribeirac, who would not have let him run such a risk."
"It is he, however; do you not recognize his insolent way of carrying
"Then," said D'O, "it is a snare."
"In any case, it is he; and so to arms!"
It was, indeed, Bussy, who came carelessly down the Rue St. Antoine,
and followed the route given him by Quelus; he had, as we have
seen, received the warning of St. Luc, and, in spite of it, had
parted from his friends at the Hotel Montmorency. It was one of
those bravadoes delighted in by the valiant colonel, who said
of himself, "I am but a simple gentleman, but I bear in my breast
the heart of all emperor; and when I read in Plutarch the exploits
of the ancient Romans, I think there is not one that I could
not imitate." And besides, he thought that St. Luc, who was not
ordinarily one of his friends, merely wished to get him laughed at
for his precautions; and Bussy feared ridicule more than danger.
He had, even in the eyes of his enemies, earned a reputation for
courage, which could only be sustained by the rashest adventures.
Therefore, alone, and armed only with a sword and poniard, he
advanced towards the house where waited for him no person, but
simply a letter, which the Queen of Navarre sent him every month
on the same day, and which he, according to his promise to the
beautiful Marguerite, went to fetch himself, alone, and at night.
When he arrived at the Rue St. Catherine, his active eye discerned
in the shade the forms of his adversaries. He counted them: "Three,
four, five," said he, "without counting the lackeys, who are
doubtless within call. They think much of me, it seems; all these
for one man. That brave St. Luc did not deceive me; and were his
even the first sword to pierce me I would cry, 'Thanks for your
warning, friend.'" So saying, he continued to advance, only his
arm held his sword under his cloak, of which he had unfastened
It was then that Quelus cried, "To arms."
"Ah, gentlemen," said Bussy, "it appears you wish to kill me:
I am the wild boar you had to hunt. Well, gentlemen, the wild
boar will rip up a few of you; I swear it to you, and I never
break my word."
"Possibly," said Schomberg; "but it is not right, M. Bussy d'Amboise,
that you should be on horseback and we on foot." And as he spoke,
the arm of the young man, covered with white satin, which glistened
in the moonlight, came from under his cloak, and Bussy felt his
horse give way under him. Schomberg had, with an address peculiar
to himself, pierced the horse's leg with a kind of cutlass, of
which the blade was heavier than the handle and which had remained
in the wound. The animal gave a shrill cry and fell on his knees.
Bussy, always ready, jumped at once to the ground, sword in hand.
"Ah!" cried he, "my favorite horse, you shall pay for this."
And as Schomberg approached incautiously, Bussy gave him a blow
which broke his thigh. Schomberg uttered a cry.
"Well!" said Bussy, "have I kept my word? one already. It was
the wrist of Bussy, and not his horse's leg, you should have cut."
In an instant, while Schomberg bound up his thigh with his
handkerchief, Bussy presented the point of his long sword to his
four other assailants, disdaining to cry for help, but retreating
gradually, not to fly, but to gain a wall, against which to support
himself, and prevent his being attacked behind, making all the
while constant thrusts, and feeling sometimes that soft resistance
of the flesh which showed that his blows had taken effect. Once
he slipped for an instant. That instant sufficed for Quelus to
give him a wound in the side.
"Touched," cried Quelus.
"Yes, in the doublet," said Bussy, who would not even acknowledge
his hurt. And rushing on Quelus, with a vigorous effort, he made
his sword fly from his hand. But he could not pursue his advantage,
for D'O, D'Epernon, and Maugiron attacked him, with fresh fury.
Schomberg had bound his wound, and Quelus picked up his sword.
Bussy made a bound backwards, and reached the wall. There he
stopped, strong as Achilles, and smiling at the tempest of blows
which rained around him. All at once he felt a cloud pass over his
eyes. He had forgotten his wound, but these symptoms of fainting
recalled it to him.
"Ah, you falter!" cried Quelus.
"Judge of it!" cried Bussy. And with the hilt of his sword he
struck him on the temple. Quelus fell under the blow. Then
furious--wild, he rushed forward, uttering a terrible cry. D'O
and D'Epernon drew back, Maugiron was raising Quelus, when Bussy
broke his sword with his foot, and wounded the right arm of
D'Epernon. For a moment he was conqueror, but Quelus recovered
himself, and four swords flashed again. Bussy felt himself lost.
He gathered all his strength to retreat once more step by step.
Already the perspiration was cold on his brow, and the ringing in
his ears and the cloud over his eyes warned him that his strength
was giving way. He sought for the wall with his left hand; to his
astonishment, it yielded. It was a door not quite closed. Then
he regained hope and strength for a last effort. For a second his
blows were rapid and violent. Then he let himself glide inside
the door, and pushed it to with a violent blow. It shut, and Bussy
was saved. He heard the furious blows of his enemies on the door,
their cries of rage, and wrathful imprecations. Then, the ground
seemed to fail under his feet, and the walls to move. He made a
few steps forward, and fell on the steps of a staircase. He knew
no more, but seemed to descend into the silence and obscurity
of the tomb.
HOW IT IS SOMETIMES DIFFICULT TO DISTINGUISH A DREAM FROM THE
Bussy had had time, before falling, to pass his handkerchief
under his shirt, and to buckle the belt of his sword over it,
so as to make a kind of bandage to the open wound whence the
blood flowed, but he had already lost blood enough to make him
faint. However, during his fainting fit, this is what Bussy saw,
or thought he saw. He found himself in a room with furniture of
carved wood, with a tapestry of figures, and a painted ceiling.
These figures, in all possible attitudes, holding flowers, carrying
arms, seemed to him to be stepping from the walls. Between the
two windows a portrait of a lady was hung. He, fixed to his bed,
lay regarding all this. All at once the lady of the portrait
seemed to move, and an adorable creature, clothed in a long white
robe, with fair hair falling over her shoulders, and with eyes
black as jet, with long lashes, and with a skin under which he
seemed to see the blood circulate, advanced toward the bed. This
woman was so beautiful, that Bussy made a violent effort to rise
and throw himself at her feet. But he seemed to be confined in
there by bonds like those which keep the dead body in the tomb,
while the soul mounts to the skies. This forced him to look at
the bed on which he was lying, and it seemed to him one of those
magnificent beds sculptured in the reign of Francis I., to which
were suspended hangings of white damask, embroidered in gold.
At the sight of this woman, the people of the wall and ceiling
ceased to occupy his attention; she was all to him, and he looked
to see if she had left a vacancy in the frame. But suddenly she
disappeared; and an opaque body interposed itself between her
and Bussy, moving slowly, and stretching its arms out as though
it were playing blindman's buff. Bussy felt in such a passion at
this, that, had he been able, he would certainly have attacked
this importunate vision; but as he made a vain effort, the newcomer
"Well," said he, "have I arrived at last?"
"Yes, monsieur," said a voice so sweet that it thrilled through
Bussy, "and now you may take off your bandage." Bussy made an
effort to see if the sweet voice belonged to the lady of the
portrait, but it was useless. He only saw the pleasant face of a
young man, who had just, as he was told, taken off his bandage,
and was looking curiously about him.
"To the devil with this man," thought Bussy, and he tried to speak,
"Ah, I understand now," said the young man, approaching the bed;
"you are wounded, are you not, my dear sir? Well, we will try
to cure you."
"Is the wound mortal?" asked the sweet voice again, with a sad
accent, which brought tears into the eyes of Bussy.
"I do not know yet, I am going to see; meanwhile, he has fainted."
This was all Bussy heard, he seemed to feel a red-hot iron in
his side, and then lost all consciousness. Afterwards, it was
impossible for Bussy to fix the duration of this insensibility.
When he woke, a cold wind blew over his face, and harsh voices
sounded in his ears; he opened his eyes to see if it were the
people of the tapestry speaking, and hoping to see the lady again,
looked round him. But there was neither tapestry nor ceiling
visible, and the portrait had also disappeared. He saw at his
right only a man with a white apron spotted with blood; at his
left, a monk, who was raising his head; and before him, an old
woman mumbling her prayers. His wondering eyes next rested on
a mass of stone before him, in which he recognized the Temple,
and above that, the cold white sky, slightly tinted by the rising
sun. He was in the street.
"Ah, thank you, good people," said he, "for the trouble you have
taken in bringing me here. I wanted air, but you might have given
it to me by opening the window, and I should have been better
on my bed of white damask and gold than on the bare ground. But
never mind, there is in my pocket, unless you have paid yourselves,
which would have been prudent, some twenty golden crowns; take,
my friends, take."
"But, my good gentleman," said the butcher, "we did not bring
you here, but found you here as we passed."
"Ah, diable! and the young doctor, was he here?"
The bystanders looked at each other.
"It is the remains of delirium," said the monk. Then, turning to
Bussy, "I think you would do well to confess," said he, "there
was no doctor, poor young man; you were here alone, and as cold
Bussy then remembered having received a sword stroke, glided his
hand under his doublet, and felt his handkerchief in the same
place, fixed over his wound by his sword-belt.
"It is singular," said he.
Already profiting by his permission, the lookers-on were dividing
"Now, my friends," said he, "will you take me to my hotel?"
"Ah, certainly," said the old woman, "poor dear young man, the
butcher is strong, and then he has his horse, on which you can
"Yes, my gentleman, my horse and I are at your service."
"Nevertheless, my son," said the monk, "I think you would do well
"What are you called?" asked Bussy.
"Well Brother Gorenflot, I trust my hour has not yet arrived
and as I am cold, I wish to get quickly home and warm myself."
"What is your hotel called?"
"Hotel de Bussy."
"How!" cried all, "you belong to M. de Bussy?"
"I am M. de Bussy himself."
"Bussy," cried the butcher, "the brave Bussy, the scourge of the
minions!" And raising him, he was quickly carried home, whilst
the monk went away, murmuring, "If it was that Bussy, I do not
wonder he would not confess!"
When he got home, Bussy sent for his usual doctor, who found the
wound not dangerous.
"Tell me," said Bussy, "has it not been already dressed?"
"Ma foi," said the doctor, "I am not sure."
"And was it serious enough to make me delirious?"
"Ah!" thought Bussy, "was that tapestry, that frescoed ceiling,
that bed, the portrait between the windows, the beautiful blonde
woman with black eyes, the doctor blindfolded, was this all delirium?
Is nothing true but my combat? Where did I fight? Ah, yes, I
remember; near the Bastile, by the Rue St. Paul. I leaned against
a door, and it opened; I shut it--and then I remember no more.
Have I dreamed or not? And my horse! My horse must have been
found dead on the place. Doctor, pray call some one."
The doctor called a valet. Bussy inquired, and heard that the
animal, bleeding and mutilated, had dragged itself to the door
of the hotel, and had been found there.
"It must have been a dream," thought he again: "how should a
portrait come down from the wall and talk to a doctor with a
bandage on his eyes? I am a fool; and yet when I remember she
was so charming," and he began to describe her beauties, till
he cried out, "It is impossible it should have been a dream;
and yet I found myself in the street, and a monk kneeling by
me. Doctor," said he, "shall have to keep the house a fortnight
again for this scratch, as I did for the last?"
"We shall see; can you walk?"
"I seem to have quicksilver in my legs."
Bussy jumped out of bed, and walked quickly round his room.
"That will do," said the doctor, "provided that you do not go
on horseback, or walk ten miles the first day."
"Capital! you are a doctor; however, I have seen another to-night.
Yes, I saw him, and if ever I meet him, I should know him."
"I advise you not to seek for him, monsieur; one has always a
little fever after a sword wound; you should know that, who have
had a dozen."
"Ah, mon Dieu!" cried Bussy, struck with a new idea, "did my
dream begin outside the door instead of inside? Was there no
more a staircase and a passage, than there was a bed with white
and gold damask, and a portrait? Perhaps those wretches, thinking
me dead, carried me to the Temple, to divert suspicion, should
any one have seen them hiding. Certainly, it must be so, and
I have dreamed the rest. Mon Dieu! if they have procured for
me this dream which torments me so, I swear to make an end of
"My dear seigneur," said the doctor, "if you wish to get well,
you must not agitate yourself thus."
"Except St. Luc," continued Bussy, without attending; "he acted
as a friend, and my first visit shall be to him."
"Not before five this evening."
"If you wish it; but, I assure you, it is not going out and seeing
people which will make me ill, but staying quietly at home."
"Well, it is possible; you are always a singular patient; act
as you please, only I recommend you not to get another wound
before this one is healed."
Bussy promised to do his best to avoid it, and, after dressing,
called for his litter to take him to the Hotel Montmorency.
HOW MADAME DE ST. LUC HAD PASSED THE NIGHT.
Louis de Clermont, commonly called Bussy d'Amboise, was a perfect
gentleman, and a very handsome man. Kings and princes had sought
for his friendship; queens and princesses had lavished on him
their sweetest smiles. He had succeeded La Mole in the affections
of Queen Marguerite, who had committed for him so many follies,
that even her husband, insensible so long, was moved at them;
and the Duke Francois would never have pardoned him, had it not
gained over Bussy to his interests, and once again he sacrificed
all to his ambition. But in the midst of all his successes of
war, ambition, and intrigue, he had remained insensible; and
he who had never known fear, had never either known love.
When the servants of M. de St. Luc saw Bussy enter, they ran to
tell M. de Brissac.
"Is M. de St. Luc at home?" asked Bussy.
"Where shall I find him?"
"I do not know, monsieur. We are all very anxious about him, for
he has not returned since yesterday."
"It is true, monsieur."
"But Madame de St. Luc?"
"Oh, she is here."
"Tell her I shall be charmed if she will allow me to pay my respects
Five minutes after, the messenger returned, saying Madame de St.
Luc would be glad to see M. de Bussy.
When Bussy entered the room, Jeanne ran to meet him. She was
very pale, and her jet black hair made her look more so; her
eyes were red from her sleepless night, and there were traces
of tears on her cheeks.
"You are welcome, M. de Bussy," said she, "in spite of the fears
your presence awakens."
"What do you mean, madame? how can I cause you fear?"
"Ah! there was a meeting last night between you and M. de St.
Luc? confess it."
"Between me and St. Luc!"
"Yes, he sent me away to speak to you; you belong to the Duc
d'Anjou, he to the king. You have quarrelled--do not hide it
from me. You must understand my anxiety. He went with the king,
it is true--but afterwards?"
"Madame, this is marvelous. I expected you to ask after my wound----"
"He wounded you; he did fight, then?"
"No, madame; not with me at least; it was not he who wounded
me. Indeed, he did all he could to save me. Did he not tell you
"How could he tell me? I have not seen him."
"You have not seen him? Then your porter spoke the truth."
"I have not seen him since eleven last night."
"But where can he be?"
"I should rather ask you."
"Oh, pardieu, tell me about it, it is very droll."
The poor woman looked at him with astonishment.
"No, it is very sad, I mean. I have lost much blood, and scarcely
know what I am saying. Tell me this lamentable story, madame."
Jeanne told all she knew; how the king had carried him off, the
shutting of the doors of the Louvre, and the message of the guards.
"Ah! very well, I understand," said Bussy.
"How! you understand."
"Yes; his majesty took him to the Louvre and once there he could
not come out again."
"And why not?"
"Ah! that is a state secret."
"But my father went to the Louvre, and I also, and the guards
said they did not know what we meant."
"All the more reason that he should be there."
"You think so?"
"I am sure of it, and if you wish to be so also----"
"But if I go there, they win send me away, as they did before."
"Would you like to go in?"
"But if he is not there?"
"I tell you he is there. Come; but they will not let in the wife
of St. Luc."
"You laugh at me, and it is very cruel in my distress."
"No, dear lady, listen. You are young, you are tall, and have
black eyes; you are like my youngest page, who looked so well
in the cloth of gold yesterday."
"Ah I what folly, M. Bussy," cried Jeanne, blushing.
"I have no other method but this. If you wish to see St. Luc----"
"Oh! I would give all the world to see him."
"Well, I promise that you shall without giving anything."
"I told you how."
"Well, I will do it; shall I send for the dress?"
"No, I will send you a new one I have at home; then you must join
me this evening at the Rue St. Honore. and we will go together to
the Louvre." Jeanne began to laugh, and gave her hand to Bussy.
"Pardon my suspicions," said she.
"Willingly," and taking leave he went home to prepare.
Bussy and Madame de St. Luc met at the appointed time; Jeanne
looked beautiful in her disguise. At the end of the Rue St.
Germain-l'Auxerrois they met a large party in which Bussy recognized
the Duc d'Anjou and his train.
"Ah," said he, "we will make a triumphal entry into the Louvre."
"Eh! monseigneur," cried he to the duke.
The prince turned. "You, Bussy!" cried he joyfully, "I heard you
were badly wounded, and I was going to your hotel."
"Ma foi, monseigneur, if I am not dead, it is thanks to no one
but myself. You get me into nice situations; that ball at St.
Luc's was a regular snare, and they have nearly drained all the
blood out of my body."
"They shall pay for it, Bussy; they shall pay dearly."
"Yes, you say so," said Bussy, with his usual liberty, "and you
will smile on the first you meet."
"Well! accompany me to the Louvre, and you shall see."
"What shall I see, monseigneur?"
"How I will speak to my brother."
"You promise me reparation?"
"I promise you shall be content. You hesitate still, I believe."
"Monseigneur, I know you so well."
"Come, I tell you."
"This is good for you," whispered Bussy to Jeanne. "There will
be a quarrel between the brothers, and meanwhile you can find
"Well," said he to the prince, "I follow you; if I am insulted,
at least I can always revenge myself."
And he took his place near the duke, while his page kept close
"Revenge yourself; no, Bussy," said the prince, "I charge myself
with it. I know your assassins," added he, in a low tone.
"What I your highness has taken the trouble to inquire?"
"I saw them."
"How so?" cried Bussy, astonished.
"Oh! I had business myself at the Porte St. Antoine. They barely
missed killing me in your place. Ah! I did not know it was you
they were waiting for, or else----"
"Had you this new page with you?" asked the prince, without finishing
"No, I was alone, and you?"
"I had Aurilly with me; and why were you alone?"
"Because I wish to preserve my name of the brave Bussy."
"And they wounded you?"
"I do not wish to give them the pleasure of knowing it, but I
had a severe wound in the side."
"Ah! the wretches; Aurilly said he was sure they were bent on
"How! you saw the ambush, you were with Aurilly, who uses his
sword as well as his lute, you thought they had bad intentions,
and you did not watch to give aid?"
"I did not know who they were waiting for."
"Mort diable! when you saw the king's friends, you might have
known it was against some friends of yours. Now, as there is
hardly any one but myself who has courage to be your friend, you
might have guessed that it was I."
"Oh! perhaps you are right, my dear Bussy, but I did not think
of all that."
When they entered, "Remember your promise," said Bussy, "I have
some one to speak to."
"You leave me, Bussy?"
"Yes, I must, but if I hear a great noise I will come to you,
so speak loud."
Then Bussy, followed by Jeanne, took a secret staircase, traversed
two or three corridors, and arrived at an antechamber.
"Wait here for me," said he to Jeanne.
"Ah, mon Dieu! you leave me alone."
"I must, to provide for your entrance."
HOW MADAME DE ST. LUC PASSED THE SECOND NIGHT OF HER MARRIAGE.
Bussy went straight to the sleeping-room of the king. There were
in it two beds of velvet and satin, pictures, relics, perfumed
sachets from the East, and a collection of beautiful swords.
Bussy knew the king was not there, as his brother had asked to
see him, but he knew that there was next to it a little room
which was occupied in turn by all the king's favorites, and which
he now expected to find occupied by St. Luc, whom the king in his
great affection had carried off from his wife. Bussy knocked
at the antechamber common to the two rooms. The captain of the
"M. de Bussy!" cried he.
"Yes, myself, dear M. de Nancey; the king wishes to speak to M.
de St. Luc."
"Very well, tell M. de St. Luc the king wants him."
"What is he doing?"
"He is with Chicot, waiting for the king's return from his brother."
"Will you permit my page to wait here?"
"Enter, Jean," said Bussy, and he pointed to the embrasure of
a window, where she went to hide herself. St. Luc entered, and
M. de Nancey retired.
"What does the king want now?" cried St. Luc, angrily; "ah! it
is you, M. de Bussy,"
"I, and before everything, let me thank you for the service you
"Ah! it was quite natural; I could not bear to see a brave gentleman
assassinated: I thought you killed."
"It did not want much to do it, but I got off with a wound, which
I think I repaid with interest to Schomberg and D'Epernon. As
for Quelus, he may thank the bones of his head: they are the
hardest I ever knew."
"Ah! tell me about it, it will amuse me a little."
"I have no time now, I come for something else. You are ennuye----"
"And a prisoner?"
"Completely. The king pretends no one can amuse him but me. He
is very good, for since yesterday I have made more grimaces than
his ape, and been more rude than his jester."
"Well, it is my turn to render you a service: can I do it?"
"Yes, go to the Marshal de Brissac's, and reassure my poor little
wife, who must be very uneasy, and must think my conduct very
"What shall I say to her?"
"Morbleu! tell her what you see; that I am a prisoner, and that
the king talks to me of friendship like Cicero, who wrote on it;
and of virtue like Socrates, who practised it. It is in vain
I tell him I am ungrateful for the first, and incredulous as
to the last: he only repeats it over again."
"Is that all I can do for you?"
"Ah, mon Dieu! I fear so."
"Then it is done."
"I guessed all this, and told your wife so."
"And what did she say?"
"At first she would not believe; but I trust now," continued
he, glancing towards the window, "she will yield to evidence.
Ask me something more difficult."
"Then, bring here the griffin of Signor Astolfo, and let me mount
en croupe, and go to my wife."
"A more simple thing would be to take the griffin to your wife
and bring her here."
"To the Louvre, that would be droll."
"I should think so. Then you would be ennuye no longer?"
"Ma foi! no, but if this goes on much longer, I believe I shall
"Well! shall I give you my page?"
"Yes, he is a wonderful lad."
"Thank you, but I detest pages."
"Bah! try him."
"Bussy, you mock me."
"Let me leave him."
"I tell you, you will like him."
"No, no, a hundred times, no."
"Hola, page, come here."
Jeanne came forward, blushing.
"Oh!" cried St. Luc, recognizing her, in astonishment.
"Well! shall I send him away?"
"No, no. Ah Bussy, I owe you an eternal friendship."
"Take care, you cannot be heard, but you can be seen."
"It is true," said St. Luc, retreating from his wife. Indeed,
M. de Nancey was beginning to wonder what was going on, when
a great noise was heard from the gallery.
"Ah! mon Dieu!" cried M. de Nancey, "there is the king quarreling
with some one."
"I really think so," replied Bussy, affecting inquietude; "can
it be with the Duc d'Anjou, who came with me?"
The captain of the guard went off in the direction of the gallery.
"Have I not managed well?" said Bussy to St. Luc.
"What is it?"
"M. d'Anjou and the king are quarrelling; I must go to them. You
profit by the time to place in safety the page I have brought
you; is it possible?"
"Oh, yes; luckily I declared I was ill and must keep my room."
"In that case, adieu, madame, and remember me in your prayers."
And Bussy went off to the gallery, where the king, red with fury,
swore to the duke, who was pale with anger, that in the scene
of the preceding night Bussy was the aggressor.
"I affirm to you, sire," cried the duke, "that D'Epernon, Schomberg
and Quelus were waiting for him at the Hotel des Tournelles."
"Who told you so?"
"I saw them with my own eyes."
"In that darkness! The night was pitch dark."
"I knew their voices."
"They spoke to you?"
"They did more, they took me for Bussy, and attacked me."
"And what were you doing there?"
"What does that matter to you?"
"I wish to know; I am curious to-day."
"I was going to Manasses."
"You go to Ruggieri, a poisoner."
"I go where I like: I am the king. Besides, as I said, Bussy was
"At St. Luc's ball."
"Bussy provoked five men? No, no, he is brave, but he is not mad."
"Par la mordieu! I tell you I heard him. Besides, he has wounded
Schomberg in the thigh, D'Epernon in the arm, and half killed
"Ah! really I did not know; I compliment him on it."
"I will make example of this brawler."
"And I, whom your friends attack, in his person and in my own,
will know if I am your brother, and if----"
At this moment Bussy, dressed in pale-green satin, entered the
"Sire!" said he, "receive my humble respects."
"Pardieu! here he is," cried Henri.
"Your majesty, it seems, was doing me the honor of speaking of
"Yes, and I am glad to see that, in spite of what they told me,
your look shows good health."
"Sire, blood drawn improves the complexion, so mine ought to be
good this morning."
"Well, since they have wounded you, complain, and I will do you
"I complain of nothing, sire."
Henri looked astonished. "What did you say?" said he to the duke.
"I said that Bussy had received a wound in his side."
"Is it true, Bussy?"
"The first prince of the blood would not lie, sire."
"And yet you do not complain?"
"I shall never complain, sire, until they cut off my right-hand,
and prevent my revenging myself, and then I will try to do it
with the left."
"Insolent," murmured Henri.
"Sire," said the duke, "do justice; we ask no better. Order an
inquiry, name judges, and let it be proved who prepared the ambush
and the intended murder."
Henri reddened. "No," said he, "I prefer this time to be ignorant
where the wrong lies, and to pardon everyone. I wish these enemies
to make peace, and I am sorry that Schomberg and D'Epernon are
kept at home by their wounds. Say, M. d'Anjou, which do you call
the most forward to fight of all my friends, as you say you saw
"Sire, it was Quelus."
"Ma foi! yes," said Quelus, "his highness is right."
"Then," said Henri, "let MM. Bussy and Quelus make peace in the
name of all."
"Oh! Oh!" said Quelus, "what does that mean, sire?"
"It means that you are to embrace here, before me." Quelus frowned.
"Ah, signor," cried Bussy, imitating a pantaloon, "will you not
do me this favor?"
Even the king laughed. Then, approaching Quelus, Bussy threw his
arms round his neck, saying, "The king wishes it."
"I hope it engages us to nothing," whispered Quelus.
"Be easy," answered Bussy, "we will meet soon."
Quelus drew back in a rage, and Bussy, making a pirouette, went
out of the gallery.
LE PETIT COUCHER OF HENRI III.
After this scene, beginning in tragedy and ending in comedy,
the king, still angry, went to his room, followed by Chicot, who
asked for his supper.
"I am not hungry," said the king.
"It is possible, but I am."
The king did not seem to hear. He unclasped his cloak, took off
his cap, and, advancing to the passage which led to St. Luc's
room, said to Chicot, "Wait here for me till I return."
"Oh! do not be in a hurry," said Chicot. No sooner was the king
gone, than Chicot opened the door and called "Hola!"
A valet came. "The king has changed his mind," said Chicot, "he
wishes a good supper here for himself and St. Luc, above all,
plenty of wine, and despatch."
The valet went to execute the orders, which he believed to be
the king's. Henri meanwhile had passed into St. Luc's room. He
found him in bed, having prayers read to him by an old servant
who had followed him to the Louvre, and shared his captivity.
In a corner, on an armchair, his head buried in his hands, slept
"Who is that young man?" asked the king.
"Did not your majesty authorize me to send for a page."
"Well, I have profited by it."
"Does your majesty repent of having allowed me this little
"No, no, on the contrary, amuse yourself, my son. How are you?"
"Sire, I have a fever."
"Really, your face is red; let me feel your pulse, I am half a
St. Luc held out his hand with visible ill-humor.
"Oh!" said the king, "intermittent--agitated."
"Yes, sire, I am very ill."
"I will send you my doctor."
"Thank you, sire, but I hate Miron."
"I will watch you myself. You shall have a bed in my room, and
we will talk all night."
"Oh!" cried St Luc, "you see me ill, and you want to keep me from
sleeping. That is a singular way to treat your patient, doctor."
"But you cannot be left alone, suffering as you are."
"Sire, I have my page, Jean."
"But he sleeps."
"That is what I like best, then he will not disturb me."
"Well, come and assist at my going to bed."
"Then I shall be free to come back to bed?"
"Well, so be it. But I shall make a bad courtier, I assure you;
I am dying with sleep."
"You shall yawn at your ease."
"Sire, if your majesty will leave me, I will be with you in five
"Well, then, five minutes, but no longer."
As soon as the door was shut, the page jumped up. "Ah! St. Luc,"
cried she, "you are going to leave me again. Mon Dieu! I shall
die of fright here, if they discover me."
"My dear Jeanne, Gaspard here will protect you."
"Had I not better go back?"
"If you really wish it, Jeanne," said St. Luc, sadly, "you shall.
But if you are as good as you are beautiful, if you have any
feeling in your heart for me, you will wait here a little. I
shall suffer so much from my head and nerves that the king will
not long keep so sad a companion."
"Go, then," said Jeanne, "and I will wait."
"My dear Jeanne, you are adorable. Trust me to returns as soon
as possible, Besides, I have an idea, which I will tell you when
"An idea which will restore your liberty?"
"I hope so."
"Gaspard," said St. Luc, "prevent any one from entering here,
and in a quarter of an hour lock the door, and bring me the key
to the king's room. Then go home, and tell them not to be uneasy
about Madame la Comtesse, and come back to-morrow."
Then St. Luc kissed his wife's hand, and went to the king, who
was already growing impatient. Jeanne, alone and trembling, hid
behind the curtains of the bed. When St. Luc entered he found
the king amidst a perfect carpet of flowers, of which the stalks
had been cut off-roses, jasmine, violets, and wall-flowers, in
spite of the severe weather, formed an odorous carpet for Henry
III. The chamber, of which the roof was painted, had in it two
beds, one of which was so large as to occupy a third of the room.
It was hung with gold and silk tapestry, representing mythological
figures and the windows had curtains to match. From the center
of the ceiling hung, suspended by a golden chain, a silver gilt
lamp, in which burned a perfumed oil. At the side of the bed was
a golden satyr, holding in his hand a candelabrum, containing
four rose-color wax candles, also perfumed.
The king, with his naked feet resting on the flowers, was seated
on a chair of ebony inlaid with gold; he had on his knees seven
or eight young spaniels, who were licking his bands. Two servants
were curling his hair, his mustachios, and beard, a third was
covering his face with a kind of cream, which had a most delightful
"Here," cried Chicot, "the grease and the combs, I will try them
"Chicot," said Henri, "your skin is too dry, and will use too
much cream, and your beard is so hard, it will break my combs.
Well, my son," said he, turning to St. Luc, "how is your head?"
St. Luc put his hand to his head and groaned.
"Imagine!" continued Henri, "I have seen Bussy d'Amboise."
"Bussy!" cried St. Luc, trembling.
"Yes, those fools! five of them attacked him, and let him escape.
If you had been there, St. Luc----"
"I should probably have been like the others."
"Oh! no, I wager you are as good as Bussy. We will try to-morrow."
"Sire, I am too ill for anything."
Henri, hearing a singular noise, turned round, and saw Chicot
eating up all the supper that had been brought for two.
"What the devil are you doing, M. Chicot?" cried Henri.
"Taking my cream internally, since you will not allow me to do
"Go and fetch my captain of the guards," said Henri.
"What for?" asked Chicot, emptying a porcelain cup of chocolate.
"To pass his sword through your body."
"Ah! let him come, we shall see!" cried Chicot, putting himself
in such a comical attitude of defense that every one laughed.
"But I am hungry," cried the king; "and the wretch has eaten up
all the supper."
"You are capricious, Henri; I offered you supper and you refused.
However, your bouillon is left; I am no longer hungry, and I am
going to bed."
"And I also," said St. Luc, "for I can stand no longer."
"Stay, St. Luc," said the king, "take these," and he offered him
a handful of little dogs.
"To sleep with you; they will take your illness from you."
"Thanks, sire," said St. Luc, putting them back in their basket,
"but I have no confidence in your receipt."
"I will come and visit you in the night, St. Luc."
"Pray do not, sire, you will only disturb me," and saluting the
king, he went away. Chicot had already disappeared, and there
only remained with the king the valets, who covered his face
with a mask of fine cloth, plastered with the perfumed cream,
in which were holes for the eyes, nose, and mouth; a cap of silk
and silver fixed it on the forehead and ears. They next covered
his arms with sleeves made of wadded silk, and then presented
him with kid gloves, also greased inside.
These mysteries of the royal toilet finished, they presented to
him his soup in a golden cup. Then Henri said a prayer, a short
one that night, and went to bed.
When settled there, he ordered them to carry away the flowers,
which were beginning to make the air sickly, and to open the
window for a moment. Then the valet closed the doors and curtains,
and called in Narcissus, the king's favorite dog, who, jumping on
the bed, settled himself at once on the king's feet. The valet
next put out the wax-lights, lowered the lamp, and went out softly.
Already, more tranquil and nonchalant than the lazy monks of
his kingdom in their fat abbeys, the King of France no longer
remembered that there was a France.--He slept.
Every noise was hushed, and one might have heard a bat fly in
the somber corridors of the Louvre.
HOW, WITHOUT ANY ONE KNOWING WHY, THE KING WAS CONVERTED BEFORE
THE NEXT DAY.
Three hours passed thus.
Suddenly, a terrible cry was heard, which came from the king's
All the lights in his room were out, and no sound was to be heard
except this strange call of the king's. For it was he who had
Soon was heard the noise of furniture falling, porcelain breaking,
steps running about the room, and the barking of dogs-mingled
with new cries. Almost instantly lights burned, swords shone
in the galleries, and the heavy steps of the Guards were heard.
"To arms!" cried all, "the king calls."
And the captain of the guard, the colonel of the Swiss, and some
attendants, rushed into the king's room with flambeaux.
Near an overturned chair, broken cups, and disordered bed, stood
Henri, looking terrified and grotesque in his night-dress. His
right hand was extended, trembling like a leaf in the wind, and
his left held his sword, which he had seized mechanically.
He appeared dumb through terror, and all the spectators, not daring
to break the silence, waited with the utmost anxiety.
Then appeared, half dressed and wrapped in a large cloak, the
young queen, Louise de Lorraine, blonde and gentle, who led the
life of a saint upon earth, and who had been awakened by her
"Sire," cried she, also trembling, "what is the matter? Mon Dieu!
I heard your cries, and I came."
"It--it is nothing," said the king, without moving his eyes,
which seemed to be looking up the air for some form invisible
to all but him.
"But your majesty cried out; is your majesty suffering?" asked