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Chicot the Jester by Alexandre Dumas

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"Well I my dear friend, if it is my destiny to be killed by M.
de Monsoreau."


"Well! he will kill me."

"And then, a week after, Madame de Monsoreau will be reconciled
to her husband, which will dreadfully enrage your poor soul, which
will see it from above or below, without being able to prevent

"You are right, Remy; I will live."

"Quite right; but that is not all, you must be charmingly polite
to him; he is frightfully jealous of the Duc d'Anjou, who, while
you were ill in bed, promenaded before the house with his Aurilly.
Make advances, then, to this charming husband, and do not even
ask him what has become of his wife, since you know quite well."

"You are right, Remy, I believe. Now I am no longer jealous of
the bear, I will be civil to him."

At this moment some one knocked at the door.

"Who is there?" cried Bussy.

"Monsieur," replied a page, "there is a gentleman below who wishes
to speak to you."

"To speak to me so early; who is it?"

"A tall gentleman, dressed in green velvet."

"Can it be Schomberg?"

"He said a tall man."

"True, then Monsoreau, perhaps; well, let him enter." After a
minute the visitor entered.

"M. Chicot!" cried Bussy.

"Himself, M. le Comte."

Remy retired into another room, and then Chicot said, "Monsieur,
I come to propose to you a little bargain."

"Speak, monsieur," said Bussy, in great surprise.

"What will you promise me if I render you a great service?"

"That depends on the service, monsieur," replied Bussy, disdainfully.

Chicot feigned not to remark this air of disdain. "Monsieur,"
said he, sitting down and crossing his long legs, "I remark that
you do not ask me to sit down."

The color mounted to Bussy's face.

"Monsieur," continued Chicot, "have you heard of the League?"

"I have heard much of it," said Bussy.

"Well, monsieur, you ought to know that it is an association
of honest Christians, united for the purpose of religiously
massacring their neighbors, the Huguenots. Are you of the League,
monsieur? I am."


"Say only yes, or no."

"Allow me to express my astonishment----"

"I did myself the honor of asking you if you belonged to the League."

"M. Chicot, as I do not like questions whose import I do not
understand, I beg you to change the conversation before I am
forced to tell you that I do not like questioners. Come, M. Chicot,
we have but a few minutes left."

"Well! in a few minutes one can say a great deal; however, I
might have dispensed with asking you the question, as if you
do not belong to the League now, you soon will, as M. d'Anjou

"M. d'Anjou! Who told you that?"

"Himself, speaking to me in person, as the gentlemen of the law
say, or rather write; for example, that dear M. Nicolas David,
that star of the Forum Parisiense. Now you understand that as
M. d'Anjou belongs to the League, you cannot help belonging to
it also; you, who are his right arm. The League knows better
than to accept a maimed chief."

"Well, M. Chicot, what then?"

"Why, if you do belong to it, or they think you are likely to
do so, what has happened to his royal highness will certainly
happen to you."

"And what has happened to him?"

"Monsieur," said Chicot, rising and imitating M. de Bussy's manner
of a little before, "I do not love questions, nor questioners,
therefore I have a great mind to let them do to you what they
have done to-night to the duke."

"M. Chicot," said Bussy, with a smile, "speak, I beg of you; where
is the duke?"

"He is in prison?"


"In his own room. Four of my good friends guard him. M. de Schomberg,
who was dyed blue yesterday, as you know, since you passed during
the operation; M. d'Epernon, who is yellow from the fright he
had; M. de Quelus, who is red with anger; and M. de Maugiron,
who is white with ennui; it is beautiful to see; not to speak
of the duke, who is going green with terror, so that we shall
have a perfect rainbow to delight our eyes."

"Then, monsieur, you think my liberty in danger?"

"Danger! monsieur; suppose that they are already on the way to
arrest you."

Bussy shuddered.

"Do you like the Bastile, M. de Bussy? it is a good place for
meditation, and M. Laurent Testu, the governor, keeps a good

"They would send me to the Bastile?"

"Ma foi! I ought to have in my pocket something like an order
to conduct you there. Would you like to see it?" and Chicot drew
from his pocket an order from the king in due form, to apprehend,
wherever he might be, M. Louis de Clermont, Seigneur de Bussy.
"Written very nicely by M. Quelus," continued Chicot.

"Then, monsieur," cried Bussy, "you are really rendering me a

"I think so; do you agree with me?"

"Monsieur, I beg you to tell me why you do it; for you love the
king, and he hates me."

"M. le Comte, I save you; think what you please of my action.
But do you forget that I asked for a recompense?"

"Ah, true."


"Most willingly, monsieur."

"Then some day you will do what I ask you?"

"On my honor, if possible."

"That is enough. Now mount your horse and disappear; I go to carry
this order to those who are to use it."

"Then you were not to arrest me yourself?"

"I! for what do you take me?"

"But I should abandon my master."

"Have no scruples; he abandons you."

"You are a gentleman, M. Chicot."

Bussy called Remy. To do him justice, he was listening at the

"Remy, our horses!"

"They are saddled, monsieur."

"Ah!" said Chicot, "this young man knows what he is about."

Bussy thanked Chicot once more, and went down.

"Where are we going?" said Remy.

"Well----" said Bussy, hesitating.

"What do you say to Normandy?" said Chicot.

"It is too near."

"Flanders, then?"

"Too far."

"Anjou is a reasonable distance, monsieur," said Remy.

"Well, then, Anjou," said Bussy, coloring.

"Adieu, monsieur!" said Chicot.

"It is destiny," said Remy, when he was gone.

"Let us be quick, and perhaps we may overtake her," said Bussy.



Chicot returned joyfully to the Louvre. It was a great satisfaction
to him to have saved a brave gentleman like Bussy.

M. de Guise, after having received in the morning the principal
Leaguers, who came to bring him the registers filled with signatures,
and after having made them all swear to recognize the chief that
the king should appoint, went out to visit M. d'Anjou, whom he
had lost sight of about ten the evening before. The duke found
the prince's valet rather unquiet at his master's absence, but
he imagined that he had slept at the Louvre.

The Due de Guise asked to speak to Aurilly, who was most likely
to know where his master was. Aurilly came, but stated he had
been separated from the prince the evening before by a pressure
of the crowd, and had come to the Hotel d'Anjou to wait for him,
not knowing that his highness had intended to sleep at the Louvre.
He added that he had just sent to the Louvre to inquire, and that
a message had been returned that the duke was still asleep.

"Asleep at eleven o'clock! not likely. You ought to go to the
Louvre, Aurilly."

"I did think of it, monseigneur, but I feared that this was only
a tale invented to satisfy my messenger, and that the prince was
seeking pleasure elsewhere, and might be annoyed at my seeking

"Oh, no; the duke has too much sense to be pleasure-seeking on
a day like this. Go to the Louvre; you will be sure to find him

"I will if you wish it; but what shall I say to him?"

"Say that the convocation at the Louvre is fixed for two o'clock,
and that it is necessary that we should have a conference first.
It is not at the time when the king is about to choose a chief
for the League that he should be sleeping."

"Very well, monseigneur, I will beg his highness to come here."

"And say that I am waiting impatiently for him.
Meanwhile I will go and seek M. de Bussy."

"But if I do not find his highness, what am I to do?"

"Then make no further search for him. In any event I shall be
at the Louvre at a quarter before two."

Aurilly passed through the courtiers who crowded the Louvre,
and made his way to the duke's apartments. At the door he found
Chicot playing chess. Aurilly tried to pass, but Chicot, with
his long legs blocked up the doorway. He was forced to touch
him on the shoulder.

"Ah, it is you, M. Aurilly."

"What are you doing, M. Chicot?"

"Playing chess, as you see."

"All alone?"

"Yes, I am studying; do you play?"

"Very little."

"Yes, I know you are a musician, and music is so difficult an
art, that those who give themselves to it must sacrifice all
their time."

"You seem very serious over your game."

"Yes, it is my king who disquiets me; you must know, M. Aurilly,
that at chess the king is a very insignificant person, who has
no will, who can only go one step forward or back, or one to
the right or left, while he is surrounded by active enemies, by
knights who jump three squares at a time, by a crowd of pawns
who surround him, so that if he be badly counseled he is a ruined
king in no time, ma foi."

"But, M. Chicot, how does it happen that you are studying this
at the door of his royal highness' room?"

"Because I am waiting for M. Quelus, who is in there."


"With his highness."

"With his highness! What is he doing there? I did not think they
were such friends."

"Hush!" then he whispered in Aurilly's ear "he is come to ask
pardon of the duke for a little quarrel they had yesterday."


"It was the king who insisted on it; you know on what excellent
terms the brothers are just now. The king would not suffer an
impertinence of Quelus's to pass, and ordered him to apologize."


"Ah! M. Aurilly, I think that we are entering the golden age; the
Louvre is about to become Arcadia, and the two brothers Arcades

Aurilly smiled, and passed into the ante-chamber, where he was
courteously saluted by Quelus, between whose hands a superb cup
and ball of ebony inlaid with ivory was making rapid evolutions.

"Bravo! M. Quelus," said Aurilly.

"Ah! my dear M. Aurilly, when shall I play cup and ball as well
as you play the lute?"

"When you have studied your plaything as long as I have my
instrument. But where is monseigneur? I thought you were with

"I have an audience with him, but Schomberg comes first."

"What! M. de Schomberg, also!"

"Oh! mon Dieu; yes. The king settled all that. He is in the
next room. Enter, M. Aurilly, and remind the prince that we are
waiting for him."

Aurilly opened the second door and saw Schomberg reclining on
a kind of couch, from which he amused himself by sending from a
tube little balls of earth through a gold ring, suspended from
the ceiling by a silk thread, while a favorite dog brought him
back the balls as they fell.

"Ah! guten morgen, M. Aurilly, you see I am amusing myself while
I wait for my audience."

"But where is monseigneur?"

"Oh! he is occupied in pardoning D'Epernon and Maugiron. But will
you not enter, you who are privileged?"

"Perhaps it would be indiscreet."

"Not at all; enter, M. Aurilly, enter." And he pushed him into
the next room, where the astonished musician perceived D'Epernon
before a mirror, occupied in stiffening his mustachios, while
Maugiron, seated near the window, was cutting out engravings, by
the side of which the bas-reliefs on the temple of Venus Aphrodite
would have looked holy.

The duke, without his sword, was in his armchair between these
two men, who only looked at him to watch his movements, and only
spoke to him to say something disagreeable: seeing Aurilly, he
got up to meet him.

"Take care monseigneur," said Maugiron, "you are stepping on my

"Mon Dieu!" cried the musician, "he insults my master!"

"Dear M. Aurilly," said D'Epernon, still arranging his mustachois,
"how are you?"

"Be so kind as to bring me here your little dagger," said Maugiron.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, do you not remember where you are?"

"Yes, yes, my dear Orpheus, that is why I ask for your dagger;
you see M. le Duc has none."

"Aurilly!" cried the duke, in a tone full of grief and rage, "do
you not see that I am a prisoner?"

"A prisoner! to whom?"

"To my brother; you might know that by my jailers."

"Oh! if I had but guessed it."

"You would have brought your lute to amuse his highness," said
a mocking voice behind them, "but I thought of it, and sent for
it; here it is."

"How does your chess go on, Chicot?" said D'Epernon.

"I believe I shall save the king, but it is not without trouble.
Come, M. Aurilly, give me your poniard in return for the lute;
a fair exchange."

The astonished musician obeyed.

"There is one rat in the trap," said Quelus, who returned to
his post in the antechamber, only exchanging his cup and ball
for Schomberg's shooting tube.

"It is amusing to vary one's pleasures," said Chicot; "so for
a change I will go and sign the League."



The time for the great reception drew near. Paris, nearly as
tumultuous as the evening before, had sent towards the Louvre
its deputation of leaguers, its bodies of workmen, its sheriffs,
its militia, and its constantly-increasing masses of spectators.

The king, on his throne in the great hall, was surrounded by his
officers, his friends, his courtiers, and his family, waiting for
all the corporations to defile before him, when M. de Monsoreau
entered abruptly.

"Look, Henriquet," said Chicot, who was standing near the king.

"At what?"

"At your chief huntsman; pardieu, he is well worth it. See how
pale and dirty he is!"

Henri made a sign to M. de Monsoreau, who approached.

"How is it that you are at the Louvre, monsieur? I thought you
at Vincennes."

"Sire, the stag was turned off at seven o'clock this morning, but
when noon came, and I had no news, I feared that some misfortune
had happened to your majesty, and I returned."


"Sire, if I have done wrong, attribute it to an excess of devotion."

"Yes, monsieur, and I appreciate it."

"Now," said the count, hesitatingly, "if your majesty wishes me
to return to Vincennes, as I am reassured----"

"No, no, stay; this chase was a fancy which came into our head,
and which went as it came; do not go away, I want near me devoted
subjects, and you have just classed yourself as such."

Monsoreau bowed, and said, "Where does your majesty wish me to

"Will you give him to me for half an hour?" said Chicot to the
king, in a low voice.

"What for?"

"To torment him a little. You owe me some compensation for obliging
me to be present at this tiresome ceremony."

"Well, take him."

"Where does your majesty wish me to stand?" again asked M. de

"Where you like; go behind my armchair, that is where I put my

"Come here," said Chicot, making room for M. de Monsoreau, "come
and get the scent of these fellows. Here is game which can be
tracked without a hound. Here are the shoemakers who pass, or
rather, who have passed; then here are the tanners. Mort de ma
vie! if you lose their scent, I will take away your place."

M. de Monsoreau listened mechanically; he seemed preoccupied,
and looked around him anxiously.

"Do you know what your chief huntsman is hunting for now?" said
Chicot, in an undertone, to the king.


"Your brother."

"The game is not in sight."

"Just ask him where his countess is."

"What for?"

"Just ask."

"M. le Comte," said Henri, "what have you done with Madame de
Monsoreau? I do not see her here."

The count started, but replied, "Sire, she is ill, the air of
Paris did not agree with her; so having obtained leave from the
queen, she set out last night, with her father, for Meridor."

"Paris is not good for women in her situation," said Chicot.

Monsoreau grew pale and looked furiously at him.

"This poor countess!" continued Chicot, "she will die of ennui
by the way."

"I said that she traveled with her father."

"A father is very respectable, I allow, but not very amusing;
and if she had only that worthy baron to amuse her it would be
sad; but luckily----"

"What!" cried the count.


"What do you mean by 'luckily'?"

"Ah, it was an ellipsis I used."

The count shrugged his shoulders.

"Oh, but it was. Ask Henri, who is a man of letters."

"Yes," said the king; "but what did your adverb mean?"

"What adverb?"


"'Luckily' means luckily. Luckily, then, there exist some of our
friends, and very amusing ones, who, if they meet the countess,
will amuse her, and as they are going the same way, it is probable
they will. Oh, I see them from here; do you not, Henri; you, who
are a man of imagination? There they go, on a good road, well
mounted, and saying sweet things to Madame la Comtesse, which
she likes very much, dear lady."

M. de Monsoreau was furious, but he could not show it before the
king; so he said as mildly as he could, "What, have you friends
traveling to Anjou?"

"Good; pretend to be mysterious."

"I swear to you----"

"Oh! you know they are there, although I saw you just now seeking
for them mechanically among the crowd."

"You saw me?"

"Yes, you, the palest of all chief huntsmen, past, present, and
future, from Nimrod to M. d'Aulefort, your predecessor."

"M. Chicot!"

"The palest, I repeat."

"Monsieur, will you return to the friends of whom you spoke, and
be so good as to name them, if your super-abundant imagination
will let you."

"Seek, monsieur. Morbleu, it is your occupation to hunt out animals,
witness the unlucky stag whom you deranged this morning, and who
thought it very unkind of you. Seek."

The eyes of M. de Monsoreau wandered anxiously again.

"What!" cried he, seeing a vacant place by the king, "not the
Duc d'Anjou?"

"Taint! Taint! the beast is found."

"He is gone to-day."

"He is gone to-day, but it is possible that he set out last night.
When did your brother disappear, Henri?"

"Last night."

"The duke gone!" murmured Monsoreau, paler than ever.

"I do not say he is gone, I say only that he disappeared last
night, and that his best friends do not know where he is," said
the king.

"Oh!" cried the count, "if I thought so----"

"Well; what should you do? Besides, what harm if he does talk
nonsense to Madame de Monsoreau? He is the gallant of the family,
you know."

"I am lost!" murmured the count, trying to go away. But Chicot
detained him.

"Keep still; mordieu! you shake the king's chair. Mort de ma
vie, your wife will be quite happy with the prince to talk to,
and M. Aurilly to play the lute to her." Monsoreau trembled with

"Quietly, monsieur," continued Chicot; "hide your joy, here is
the business beginning; you should not show your feelings so
openly; listen to the discourse of the king."

M. de Monsoreau was forced to keep quiet. M. de Guise entered
and knelt before the king, not without throwing an uneasy glance
of surprise on the vacant seat of M. d'Anjou. The king rose,
and the heralds commanded silence.



"Gentlemen," said the king, after assuring himself that his four
friends, now replaced by ten Swiss, were behind him, "a king
hears equally the voices which come to him from above and from
below, that is to say, what is commanded by God, or asked by
his people. I understand perfectly that there is a guarantee
for my people, in the association of all classes which has been
formed to defend the Catholic faith, and therefore I approve of
the counsels of my cousin De Guise. I declare, then, the Holy
League duly constituted, and as so great a body must have a powerful
head, and as it is necessary that the chief called to sustain
the Church should be one of its most zealous sons, I choose a
Christian prince for the chief, and declare that this chief shall
be"--he made a slight pause--"Henri de Valois, King of France
and Poland."

The Duc de Guise was thunderstruck. Large drops stood on his
forehead, and he looked from one to the other of his brothers.
All the leaguers uttered a murmur of surprise and discontent.
The cardinal stole up to his brother, and whispered:

"Francois; I fear we are no longer in safety here. Let us haste
to take leave, for the populace is uncertain, and the king whom
they execrated yesterday, will be their idol for two or three

During this time the king had signed the act prepared beforehand
by M. de Morvilliers, the only person, with the exception of
the queen mother, who was in the secret, then he passed the pen
to the Duc de Guise, saying:

"Sign, my cousin; there, below me, now pass it to M. le Cardinal
and M. de Mayenne."

But these two had already disappeared. The king remarked their
absence, and added, "Then pass the pen to M. de Monsoreau."

The duke did so, and was about to retire, but the king said, "Wait."

And while the others signed, he added, "My cousin, it was your
advice, I believe, to guard Paris with a good army, composed of
all the forces of the League. The army is made, and the natural
general of the Parisians is the king."

"Assuredly, sire."

"But I do not forget that there is another army to command, and
that this belongs of right to the bravest soldier in my kingdom;
therefore go and command the army."

"And when am I to set out, sire?"


"Henri, Henri!" whispered Chicot; but, in spite of his signs
and grimaces, the king gave the duke his brevet ready signed.
He took it and retired, and was soon out of Paris. The rest of
the assembly dispersed gradually, crying, "Vive le Roi! and Vive
la Ligue!"

"Oh, sire!" cried the favorites, approaching the king, "what a
sublime idea you have had!"

"They think that gold is going to rain on them like manna," said
Chicot, who followed his master about everywhere with lamentations.
As soon as they were left alone, "Ah! M. Chicot!" said Henri, "you
are never content. Diable! I do not ask even for complaisance,
but for good sense."

"You are right, Henri; it is what you want most."

"Confess I have done well."

"That is just what I do not think."

"Ah! you are jealous, M. Roi de France."

"I! Heaven forbid. I shall choose better subjects for jealousy."


"Oh! what self-love."

"Am I or not king of the League?"

"Certainly you are; but----"

"But what?"

"You are no longer King of France."

"And who is king then?"

"Everybody, except you; firstly, your brother----"

"My brother!"

"Yes, M. d'Anjou."

"Whom I hold prisoner."

"Yes, but prisoner as he is, he was consecrated."

"By whom was he consecrated?"

"By the Cardinal de Guise. Really, Henri, you have a fine police.
They consecrate a king at Paris before thirty-three people, in
the church of St. Genevieve, and you do not know of it!"

"Oh! and you do?"

"Certainly I do."

"How can you know what I do not?"

"Ah! because M. de Morvilliers manages your police, and I am my

The king frowned.

"Well, then, without counting Henri de Valois, we have Francois
d'Anjou for king," continued Chicot; "and then there is the Duc
de Guise."

"The Duc de Guise!"

"Yes, Henri de Guise, Henri le Balfre."

"A fine king! whom I exile, whom I send to the army."

"Good! as if you were not exiled to Poland; and La Charite is
nearer to the Louvre than Cracow is. Ah, yes, you send him to the
army--that is so clever; that is to say, you put thirty thousand
men under his orders, ventre de biche! and a real army, not like
your army of the League; no, no, an army of bourgeois is good
for Henri de Valois, but Henri de Guise must have an army of
soldiers--and what soldiers? hardened warriors, capable of destroying
twenty armies of the League; so that if, being king in fact,
Henri de Guise had the folly one day to wish to be so in name,
he would only have to turn towards the capital, and say, 'Let us
swallow Paris, and Henri de Valois and the Louvre at a mouthful,'
and the rogues would do it. I know them."

"You forget one thing in your argument, illustrious politician."

"Ah, diable! it is possible! If you mean a fourth king----"

"No; you forget that before thinking of reigning in France, when
a Valois is on the throne, it would be necessary to look back
and count your ancestors. That such an idea might come to M.
d'Anjou is possible; his ancestors are mine, and it is only a
question of primogeniture. But M. de Guise!"

"Ah! that is just where you are in error."

"How so?"

"M. de Guise is of a better race than you think."

"Better than me, perhaps," said Henri, smiling.

"There is no perhaps in it."

"You are mad. Learn to read, my friend."

"Well, Henri, you who can read, read this;" and he drew from
his pocket the genealogy which we know already, handing it to
Henri, who turned pale as he recognized, near to the signature
of the prelate, the seal of St. Peter.

"What do you say, Henri? Are not your fleur-de-lys thrown a little
in the background?"

"But how did you get this genealogy?"

"I! Do I seek these things? It came to seek me."


"Under the bolster of a lawyer."

"And what was his name?"

"M. Nicolas David."

"Where was he?"

"At Lyons."

"And who took it from under the bolster?"

"One of my good friends."

"Who is he?"

"A monk."

"His name?"


"What! that abominable leaguer, who uttered those incendiary
discourses at St. Genevieve, and again yesterday in the streets
of Paris?"

"You remember the history of Brutus, who pretended to be a fool?"

"He is, then, a profound politician? Did he take it from the

"Yes, by force."

"Then he is brave?"

"Brave as Bayard."

"And having done this, he has not asked for any recompense?"

"He returned humbly to his convent, and only asks me to forget
that he ever came out."

"Then he is modest?"

"As St. Crepin."

"Chicot, your friend shall be made a prior on the first vacancy."

"Thanks for him, Henri."

"Ma foi!" said Chicot to himself, "if he escapes being hung by
Mayenne, he will have an abbey."



This day of the League terminated brilliantly and tumultuously,
as it began. The friends of the king rejoiced, the preachers
proposed to canonize Brother Henri, and spoke everywhere of the
great deeds of the Valois. The favorites said, "The lion is roused."
The leaguers said, "The fox has discovered the snare."

The three Lorraine princes, as we have seen, had left Paris,
and their principal agent, M. de Monsoreau, was ready to start
for Anjou. But as he was leaving the Louvre, Chicot stopped him.

"Where are you going in such a hurry?" said he.

"To his highness."

"His highness?"

"Yes, I am unquiet about him. We do not live in times when a prince
ought to travel without a good escort."

"Well, if you are unquiet, so am I."

"About what?"

"About his highness also."


"Do you not know what they say?"

"That he has gone to Anjou."

"No; that he is dead."

"Bah!" said Monsoreau, with a tone of surprise, not unmixed with
joy, "you told me he was traveling."

"Diable! they persuaded me so, but now I have good reason to think
that if the poor prince be traveling, it is to another world."

"What gives you these mournful ideas?"

"He entered the Louvre yesterday, did he not?"

"Certainly; I came in with him."

"Well! he has never been seen to come out."

"From the Louvre?"


"Where is Aurilly?"


"But his people?"


"You are joking, are you not, M. Chicot?"



"The king."

"I cannot question his majesty."

"Oh! yes, if you go about it in the right way."

"Well," said the count. "I cannot remain in this uncertainty."
And leaving Chicot, he went to the king's apartment.

"Where is the king?" he asked: "I have to render an account to
him of the execution of some orders he gave me."

"With M. le Duc d'Anjou," replied the man.

"With the Duke; then he is not dead?"

"I am not so sure of that."

M. de Monsoreau was thoroughly bewildered; for if M. d'Anjou
were in the Louvre, his absence on such a day was unaccountable.

Immediately after the sitting, Quelus, Maugiron, Schomberg, and
D'Epernon, in spite of the ennui they experienced there, were
so anxious to be disagreeable to the duke that they returned to
him. He, on his part, was mortally ennuye, as well as anxious,
which, it must be confessed, the conversation of these gentlemen
was not calculated to remove.

"Do you know, Quelus," said Maugiron, "that it is only now I
begin to appreciate our friend Valois; really he is a great

"Explain yourself," said Quelus, who was lounging on a chair.

"While he was afraid of the conspiracy, he kept it quiet; now
he speaks of it openly, therefore he is no longer afraid of it."


"If he no longer fears it, he will punish it; you know Valois,
he has certainly many good qualities, but clemency is not one
of them."


"Then if he punishes these conspirators there will be a trial,
and we shall have a fine spectacle."

"Unless, which is possible, on account of the rank of the accused,
they arrange it all quietly."

"That would be my advice, certainly; it is better in family affairs."

Aurilly glanced at the prince.

"Ma foi," said Maugiron, "I know one thing; that in the king's
place I would not spare the high heads, which are always the
most guilty. I would make an example of one or two--one, at all

"I think it would be well to revive the famous invention of sacks."

"What was that?"

"A royal fancy in the year 1550; they shut up a man in a sack, in
company with three or four cats, and threw them into the water.
The minute the cats felt the water they attacked the man, and
there passed in the sack things which unluckily could never be

"Really, Quelus, you are a well of science, and your conversation
is most interesting."

"They could not apply this invention to the chiefs; they have the
right to be beheaded; but to the small fry, I mean the favorites,
squires, and lute-players."

"Gentlemen----" stammered Aurilly.

"Do not reply to them, Aurilly," said Francois, "it cannot be
addressed to me." As he spoke the king appeared on the threshold.
The duke rose. "Sire," cried he, "I appeal against the unworthy
treatment I meet with from your followers."

Henri did not seem to hear. "Good morning, Quelus," said he kissing
his favorite on both cheeks; "good morning, the sight of you
rejoices my soul, and you, my poor Maugiron, how are you?"

"I am terribly ennuye, sire; when I undertook to guard your brother,
I thought he was more amusing. Oh I the tiresome prince; are you
sure he is the son of your father and mother?"

"Sire! you hear," cried the prince, "is it your wish that your
brother should be insulted?"

"Silence, monsieur," said Henri, "I do not like my prisoners to

"Prisoner, or not, I am your----"

"The title which you are about to invoke," interrupted the king,
"is fatal to you. My brother guilty, is doubly guilty."

"But if he is not?"

"He is."

"Of what crime?"

"Of having displeased me."

"Sire, have our family quarrels need of witnesses?"

"You are right, monsieur. My friends, let, me speak a little to
my brother."

"I will take Aurilly," said Maugiron.

"Now we are alone, monsieur," said the king, when they were gone.

"I waited for this moment impatiently."

"And I also; ah, you want my crown, my worthy Eteocles; you made of
the League a means, and of the throne an aim, and were consecrated
in a corner of Paris, to be able to proclaim yourself to the
Parisians shining with holy oil."

"Alas! your majesty will not let me speak."

"What for?--to lie, or to tell me things which I know already?
But no, you would lie; for to confess what you have done, would
be to confess that you merit death. You would lie, and I would
spare you that shame."

"My brother, is it your intention to overwhelm me with outrages?"

"If what I say is an outrage, it is I who lie, and I ask no better.
Speak then, I listen; tell me you are not disloyal, and at the
same time unskilful."

"I do not know what your majesty means; you speak enigmas."

"Then I will explain my words; you have conspired against me,
as formerly you conspired against my brother Charles, only then
it was by the aid of Henri of Navarre, and now it is with the
assistance of the Duc de Guise. It is true that formerly you
crawled like a serpent; now you wish to spring like the lion;
after perfidy, open force; after poison, the sword."

"Poison! what do you mean?" cried Francois, with flashing eyes.

"The poison with which you assassinated our brother Charles,
which you destined for Henry of Navarre, your associate. That
fatal poison is known; our mother has used it so often, which
is doubtless the reason why you renounced it on this occasion,
and preferred rather the part of captain of the League. But look
me in the face, Francois, and learn that a man like you shall
never kill me. A sword! Ah! I should like to see you here in
this room alone with me, holding a sword. I have conquered you
in cunning, and in a combat you would be killed. Dream no longer
of struggling against me in any manner, for from this moment I
act as king--as master--as despot; I shall watch you everywhere,
follow you everywhere, and, at the least suspicion, I will throw
you to the axe of my executioner. This is what I had to say to
you in private, and I will order you to be left alone to-night
to ponder over my words."

"Then, sire, for a suspicion, I have fallen into disgrace with

"Say, under my justice."

"But, at least, sire, fix a term to my captivity, that I may know
what to expect?"

"You will know when you hear your sentence read."

"Can I not see my mother?"

"What for? There were but three copies in the world of the famous
hunting-book which killed my poor brother, and of the two others,
one is in London and the other at Florence. Besides, I am not
a Nimrod, like my poor brother; adieu, Francois."

"Gentlemen," said the king, opening the door, "the Duc d'Anjou
has requested to be alone to-night to reflect on an answer he
has to make to me to-morrow morning. Leave him then alone, except
occasional visits of precaution. If he be troublesome, call me;
I have the Bastile ready, and the governor, M. Laurent Testu,
is the best man in the world to conquer ill tempers."

"Sire," cried Francois, trying a last effort, "remember I am

"You were also the brother of Charles IX., I think."

"At least restore me to my friends."

"I deprive myself of mine to give them to you." And Henri shut
the door, while the duke fell in despair into his armchair.



The scene which the duke had just had with the king made him
regard his position as desperate. The minions had not allowed him
to be ignorant of what had passed, and he had heard the people
cry, "Vive le roi!" He felt himself abandoned by the other chiefs,
who had themselves to save. In his quarrels with his brother
Charles he had always had for confidants, or rather dupes, those
two devoted men, Coconnas and La Mole, and, for the first time
in his life, feeling himself alone and isolated, he felt a kind
of remorse at having sacrificed them. During that time his sister
Marguerite loved and consoled him. How had he recompensed her?

He had recently had near him a brave and valiant heart and
sword--Bussy, the brave Bussy. And he had offended him to please
Monsoreau, who had his secret, with which he always threatened him,
and which was now known to the king. He had therefore quarreled
with Bussy gratuitously, and, above all, uselessly, which as a
great politician once said, "was more than a crime, it was a
mistake!" How he would have rejoiced in his present situation,
to know that Bussy was watching over him; Bussy the loyal, Bussy
the universal favorite. It would have been probable liberty and
certain vengeance.

But as we have said, Bussy, wounded to the heart, kept away from
the prince, so the prisoner remained fifty feet above the ground,
with the four favorites in the corridor, without counting the
court full of Swiss. Besides this, one or other of the young men
entered from time to time, and, without seeming even to notice
the prince, went round the room, examined the doors and windows,
looked under the beds and tables, and glanced at the curtains
and sheets.

"Ma foi!" said Maugiron, after one of these visits, "I have done;
I am not going to look after him any more to-night."

"Yes," said D'Epernon, "as long as we guard him, there is no need
of going to look at him."

"And he is not handsome to look at," said Quelus.

"Still," said Schomberg, "I think we had better not relax our
vigilance, for the devil is cunning."

"Yes, but not cunning enough to pass over the bodies of four men
like us."

"That is true," said Quelus.

"Oh!" said Schomberg, "do you think, if he wants to fly, he will
choose our corridor to come through? He would make a hole in
the wall."

"With what?"

"Then he has the windows."

"Ah! the windows, bravo, Schomberg; would you jump forty-five

"I confess that forty-five feet----"

"Yes, and he who is lame, and heavy, and timid as----"

"You," said Schomberg.

"You know I fear nothing but phantoms--that is an affair of the

"The last phantom was," said Quelus, "that all those whom he had
killed in duels appeared to him one night."

"However," said Maugiron, "I have read of wonderful escapes; with
sheets, for instance."

"Ah! that is more sensible. I saw myself, at Bordeaux, a prisoner
who escaped by the aid of his sheets."

"You see, then?"

"Yes, but he had his leg broken, and his neck, too; his sheets
were thirty feet too short, and he had to jump, so that while
his body escaped from prison, his soul escaped from his body."

"Besides," said Quelus, "if he escapes, we will follow him, and
in catching him some mischief might happen to him."

So they dismissed the subject. They were perfectly right that
the duke was not likely to attempt a perilous escape. From time
to time his pale face was at the window which overlooked the
fosses of the Louvre, beyond which was an open space about fifteen
feet broad, and then the Seine rolled calm as a mirror. On the
other side rose, like a giant, the tower of Nesle.

He had watched the sunset and the gradual extinction of all the
lights. He had contemplated the beautiful spectacle of old Paris,
with its roofs gilded by the last rays of the sun, and silvered
by the first beams of the moon; then little by little he was
seized with a great terror at seeing immense clouds roll over
the sky and announce a storm. Among his other weaknesses, the Duc
d'Anjou was afraid of thunder, and he would have given anything
to have had his guardians with him again, even if they insulted
him. He threw himself on his bed, but found it impossible to
sleep. Then he began to swear, and break everything near him.
It was a family failing, and they were accustomed to it at the
Louvre. The young men had opened the door to see what the noise
meant, and seeing that it was the duke amusing himself, they had
shut it again, which redoubled his anger. He had just broken
a chair, when a crashing of glass was heard at the window, and
he felt a sharp blow on his thigh. His first idea was that he
was wounded by some emissary of the king's.

"Ah! I am dead!" he cried, and fell on the carpet. But as he
fell his hand came in contact with a larger and rougher substance
than a ball.

"Oh! a stone," thought he, and feeling his leg, he found it
uninjured. He picked up the stone and looked at it, and saw that
it was wrapped in a piece of paper. Then the duke's ideas began
to change. Might not this stone come from a friend as well as
an enemy. He approached the light, cut the silk which tied the
paper round the stone and read,--

"Are you tired of keeping your room? Do you love open air and
liberty? Enter the little room where the Queen of Navarre hid
your poor friend, M. de la Mole, open the cupboard, and, by
displacing the lowest bracket, you will find a double bottom; in
this there is a silk ladder; attach it yourself to the balcony,
two vigorous arms will hold it at the bottom. A horse, swift as
thought, will lead you to a safe place.


"A friend!" cried the prince; "oh! I did not know I had a friend.
Who is this friend who thinks of me?" And the duke ran to the
window, but could see no one.

"Can it be a snare?" thought he; "but first let me see if there
is a double bottom and a ladder."

The duke then, leaving the light where it was for precaution,
groped his way to the cabinet, which he knew so well. He opened
it, felt for the bottom shelf, and, to his great joy, found what
he looked for. As a thief escapes with his booty, the duke rushed
into the next room with his prey. Ten o'clock struck; the duke
thought of his hourly visitors, and hid his ladder under a cushion,
on which he sat down. Indeed, five minutes had not passed before
Maugiron appeared in a dressing-gown, with a sword in one hand
and a light in the other. As he came in one of his friends said
to him, "The bear is furious, he was breaking everything just
now; take care he does not devour you, Maugiron."

Maugiron made his usual examination; he saw a broken window, but
thought the duke had done it in his rage.

"Maugiron!" cried Schomberg, from outside, "are you already eaten
that you do not speak? In that case, sigh, at least, that we
may know and avenge you."

The duke trembled with impatience.

"No, no," said Maugiron, "on the contrary, my bear is quite

And so saying he went out and locked the door. When the key had
ceased to turn in the lock the duke murmured,--

"Take care, gentlemen, or the duke will be too much for you."



Left alone, the duke, knowing he had at least an hour before
him, drew out his ladder and carefully examined the fastenings.

"The ladder is good," said he, at length, "and will not break."

Then he unrolled it all, and counted thirty-eight rounds of fifteen
inches each.

"The length is sufficient," said he, "there is nothing to fear
on that point. Ah! but if it were some of those cursed minions
who sent me to the ladder? If I attach it to the balcony they
will let me do it, and while I am descending they will cut the
cords. But, no; they could not be foolish enough to think I would
fly without barricading the door, and I should have time to fly
before they could force it. But what person in the world, except my
sister herself, could know of a ladder hidden in her dressing-room?
What friend of mine can it be?"

Suddenly an idea struck him, and he cried, "Bussy!"

Indeed, Bussy, whom so many ladies adored, Bussy was a hero to
the Queen of Navarre, and his only true friend--was it Bussy?
Everything made him think so. The duke, of course, did not know
all his motives for being angry with him, for he did not know
his love for Diana, and believed him to be too noble to think of
resentment when his master was a prisoner. He approached the window
again, and fancied he could see in the fog the indistinct forms
of three horses and two men by the river. Two men. These must be
Bussy and Remy. He then looked through the keyhole, and saw his
four guardians; two were asleep, and two had inherited Chicot's
chessboard and were playing. He extinguished his light.

Then he opened his window, and looked over the balcony; the gulf
below him looked dreadful in the darkness, and he drew back. But
air and liberty have an attraction so irresistible to a prisoner,
that Francois, on withdrawing from the window, felt as if he
were being stifled, and for an instant something like disgust
of life and indifference to death passed through his mind. He
fancied he was growing courageous, and, profiting by this moment
of excitement, he seized the ladder, fixed it to the balcony,
then barricaded the door as well as he could, and returned to
the window. The darkness was now great, and the first growlings
of the storm began to make themselves heard; a great cloud with
silver fringes extended itself like a recumbent elephant from one
side to the other of the river. A flash of lightning broke the
immense cloud for a moment, and the prince fancied that he saw
below him in the fosse the same figures he had imagined before. A
horse neighed; there was no more doubt--he was waited for.

He shook the ladder to see if it was firm, then he put his leg
over the balustrade and placed his foot on the first step. Nothing
can describe the anguish of the prisoner at this moment, placed
between a frail silk cord on the one hand and his brother's cruel
menaces on the other. But as he stood there he felt the ladder
stiffened; some one held it. Was it a friend or an enemy? Were
they open arms or armed ones which waited for him? An irresistible
terror seized him; he still held the balcony with his left hand,
and made a movement to remount, when a very slight pull at the
ladder came to him like a solicitation. He took courage, and
tried the second step. The ladder was held as firm as a rock,
and he found a steady support for his foot. He descended rapidly,
almost gliding down, when all at once, instead of touching the
earth, which he knew to be near, he felt himself seized in the
arms of a man who whispered, "You are saved." Then he was carried
along the fosse till they came to the end, when another man seized
him by the collar and drew him up, and after having aided his
companion in the same way, they ran to the river, where stood
the horses. The prince knew he was at, the mercy of his saviours,
so he jumped at once on a horse, and his companions did the same.
The same voice now said, "Quick!" And they set off at a gallop.

"All goes well at present," thought the prince, "let us hope it
will end so. Thanks, my brave Bussy," said he to his companion
on the right, who was entirely covered with a large cloak.

"Quick!" replied the other.

They arrived thus at the great ditch of the Bastile, which they
crossed on a bridge improvised by the Leaguers the night before.
The three cavaliers rode towards Charenton, when all at once
the man on the right entered the forest of Vincennes, saying
only, "Come." The prince's horse neighed, and several others
answered from the depths of the forest. Francois would have stopped
if he could, for he feared they were taking him to an ambush,
but it was too late, and in a few minutes he found himself in
a small open space, where eight or ten men on horseback were
drawn up.

"Oh! oh!" said the prince, "what does this mean, monsieur?"

"Ventre St. Gris! it means that we are saved."

"You! Henri!" cried the duke, stupefied, "you! my liberator?"

"Does that astonish you? Are we not related, Agrippa?" continued
he, looking round for his companion.

"Here I am," said D'Aubigne.

"Are there two fresh horses, with which we can go a dozen leagues
without stopping?"

"But where are you taking me, my cousin?"

"Where you like, only be quick, for the King of France has more
horses than I have, and is rich enough to kill a dozen if he
wishes to catch us."

"Really, then, I am free to go where I like?"

"Certainly, I wait your orders."

"Well, then, to Angers."

"To Angers; so be it, there you are at home."

"But you?"

"I! when we are in sight of Angers I shall leave you, and ride
on to Navarre, where my good Margot expects me, and must be much
ennuyee at my absence."

"But no one knew you were here?"

"I came to sell three diamonds of my wife's."

"Ah! very well."

"And also to know if this League was really going to ruin me."

"You see there is nothing in it."

"Thanks to you, no."

"How! thanks to me?"

"Certainly. If, instead of refusing to be chief of the League,
when you knew it was directed against me, you had accepted, I
was ruined. Therefore, when I heard that the king had punished
your refusal with imprisonment, I swore to release you, and I
have done so."

"Always so simple-minded," thought Francois, "really, it is easy
to deceive him."

"Now for Anjou," thought the king. "Ah! M. de Guise, I send you
a companion you do not want."



While Paris was in this ferment, Madame de Monsoreau, escorted
by her father and two servants, pursued their way to Meridor. She
began to enjoy her liberty, precious to those who have suffered.
The azure of the sky, compared to that which hung always menacingly
over the black towers of the Bastile, the trees already green,
all appeared to her fresh and young, beautiful and new, as if
she had really come out of the tomb where her father had believed
her. He, the old baron, had grown young again. We will not attempt
to describe their long journey, free from incidents. Several
times the baron said to Diana,--

"Do not fear, my daughter."

"Fear what?"

"Were you not looking if M. de Monsoreau was following us?"

"Yes, it was true, I did look," replied she, with a sigh and another
glance behind.

At last, on the eighth day, they reached the chateau of Meridor,
and were received by Madame de St. Luc and her husband. Then
began for these four people one of those existences of which
every man has dreamed in reading Virgil or Theocritus. The baron
and St. Luc hunted from morning till evening; you might have
seen troops of dogs rushing from the hills in pursuit of some
hare or fox, and startling Diana and Jeanne, as they sat side
by side on the moss, under the shade of the trees.

"Recount to me," said Jeanne, "all that happened to you in the
tomb, for you were dead to us. See, the hawthorn is shedding
on us its last flowers, and the elders send out their perfume.
Not a breath in the air, not a human being near us; recount,
little sister."

"What can I say?"

"Tell me, are you happy? That beautiful eye often swimming in
tears, the paleness of your cheeks, that mouth which tries a
smile which it never finishes--Diana, you must have many things
to tell me."

"No, nothing."

"You are, then, happy with M. de Monsoreau?"

Diana shuddered.

"You see!" said Jeanne.

"With M. de Monsoreau! Why did you pronounce that name? why do
you evoke that phantom in the midst of our woods, our flowers,
our happiness?"

"You told me, I think," said Jeanne, "that M. de Bussy showed
much interest in you."

Diana reddened, even to her round pretty ears.

"He is a charming creature," continued Jeanne, kissing Diana.

"It is folly," said Diana; "M. de Bussy thinks no more of Diana
de Meridor."

"That is possible; but I believe he pleases Diana de Monsoreau
a little."

"Do not say that."

"Does it displease you?"

"I tell you he thinks no more of me; and he does well--oh, I was

"What do you say?"

"Nothing, nothing."

"Now, Diana, do not cry, do not accuse yourself. You cowardly!
you, my heroine! you were constrained."

"I believed it; I saw dangers, gulfs under my feet. Now, Jeanne,
these dangers seem to me chimerical, these gulfs as if a child
could cross them. I was cowardly, I tell you; oh, I had no time
to reflect."

"You speak in enigmas."

"No," cried Diana, rising, "it was not my fault, it was his.
The Duc d'Anjou was against him; but when one wishes a thing,
when one loves, neither prince nor master should keep you back.
See, Jeanne, if I loved----"

"Be calm, dear friend."

"I tell you, _we_ were cowardly."

"'We!' of whom do you speak? That 'we' is eloquent, my dearest

"I mean my father and I; you did not think anything else, did
you? My father is a nobleman--he might have spoken to the king;
I am proud, and do not fear a man when I hate him. But _he_
did not love me."

"You lie to yourself! you know the contrary, little hypocrite!"

"You may believe in love, Jeanne, you, whom M. de St. Luc married
in spite of the king; you, whom he carried away from Paris; you,
who pay him by your caresses for proscription and exile."

"And he thinks himself richly repaid."

"But I--reflect a little, do not be egotistical--I, whom that
fiery young man pretended to love--I, who fixed the regards of
that invincible Bussy, he who fears no one--I was alone with him
in the cloister of l'Egyptienne--we were alone; but for Gertrude
and Remy, our accomplices, he could have carried me off. At that
moment I saw him suffering because of me; I saw his eyes languishing,
his lips pale and parched with fever. If he had asked me to die
to restore the brightness to his eyes, and the freshness to his
lips, I should have died. Well, I went away, and he never tried
to detain me. Wait still. He knew that I was leaving Paris, that
I was returning to Meridor; he knew that M. de Monsoreau--I blush
as I tell it--was only my husband in name; he knew that I traveled
alone; and along the road, dear Jeanne, I kept turning, thinking
I heard the gallop of his horse behind us. But no, it was only
the echo of my own. I tell you he does not think of me. I am
not worth a journey to Anjou while there are so many beautiful
women at the court of France, whose smiles are worth a hundred
confessions from the provincial, buried at Meridor. Do you understand
now? Am I forgotten, despised----"

She had not finished when the foliage of the oak rustled, a quantity
of mortar and moss fell from the old wall, and a man threw himself
at the feet of Diana, who uttered an affrighted cry.

Jeanne ran away--she recognized him.

"Here I am!" cried Bussy, kissing the dress of Diana.

She too recognized him, and, overcome by this unexpected happiness,
fell unconscious into the arms of him whom she had just accused
of indifference.



Faintings from love seldom last any length of time, nor are they
very dangerous. Diana was not long in opening her eyes, and finding
herself supported by Bussy.

"Oh!" murmured she, "it was shocking, count, to surprise us thus."

Bussy expected other words, men are so exacting, but Diana said
no more, and, disengaging herself gently from his arms, ran to
her friend, who, seeing her faint, had returned softly, and stood
a little way off.

"Is it thus that you receive me, madame?"

"No, M. de Bussy, but----"

"Oh! no 'but,' madame," sighed Bussy, drawing near again.

"No, no, not on your knees!"

"Oh! let me pray to you an instant, thus!" cried the count. "I
have so longed for this place."

"Yes, but to come to it, you jumped over the wall. Not only is it
not suitable for a man of your rank, but it is very imprudent."

"How so?"

"If you had been seen?"

"Who could have seen me?"

"Our hunters, who, a quarter of an hour ago, passed by this wall."

"Do not be uneasy, madame, I hide myself too carefully to be seen."

"Hidden! really!" said Jeanne, "tell us how, M. de Bussy."

"Firstly, if I did not join you on the road, it was not my fault,
I took one route and you another. You came by Rambouillet, and I
by Chartres. And then judge if your poor Bussy be not in love;
I did not dare to join you. It was not in the presence of your
father and your servants that I wished to meet you again, for I
did not desire to compromise you, so I made the journey stage by
stage, devoured by impatience. At last you arrived. I had taken
a lodging in the village, and, concealed behind the window, I
saw you pass."

"Oh! mon Dieu! are you then at Angers under your own name?"

"For what do you take me? I am a traveling merchant; look at my
costume, it is of a color much worn among drapers and goldsmiths.
I have not been remarked."

"Bussy, the handsome Bussy, two days in a provincial town and
not remarked; who would believe that at court?" said Jeanne.

"Continue, count," said Diana, blushing; "how do you come here
from the town?"

"I have two horses of a chosen race; I leave the village on one,
stopping to look at all the signs and writings, but when out of
sight my horse takes to a gallop, which brings him the four miles
in half an hour. Once in the wood of Meridor I ride to the park wall,
but it is very long, for the park is large. Yesterday I explored
this wall for more than four hours, climbing up here and there,
hoping to see you. At last, when I was almost in despair, I saw
you in the evening returning to the house; the two great dogs of
the baron were jumping round you. When you had disappeared, I jumped
over, and saw the marks on the grass where you had been sitting.
I fancied you might have adopted this place, which is charming,
during the heat of the sun, so I broke away some branches that I
might know it again, and sighing, which hurts me dreadfully----"

"From want of habit," said Jeanne.

"I do not say no, madame; well, then, sighing, I retook my way
to the town. I was very tired, I had torn my dress in climbing
trees, but I had seen you, and I was happy."

"It is an admirable recital," said Jeanne, "and you have surmounted
dreadful obstacles; it is quite heroic; but in your place I would
have preserved my doublet, and above all, have taken care of
my white hands. Look at yours, how frightful they are with

"Yes, but then I should not have seen her whom I came to see."

"On the contrary, I should have seen her better than you did."

"What would you have done then?"

"I would have gone straight to the Chateau de Meridor. M. le
Baron would have pressed me in his arms, Madame de Monsoreau
would have placed me by her at table, M. de St. Luc would have
been delighted to see me, and his wife also. It was the simplest
thing in the world, but lovers never think of what is straight
before them."

Bussy smiled at Diana. "Oh, no," he said, "that would not have
done for me."

"Then I no longer understand what good manners are."

"No," said Bussy, "I could not go to the castle; M. le Baron would
watch his daughter."

"Good!" said Jeanne, "here is a lesson for me," and kissing Diana
on the forehead, she ran away. Diana tried to stop her, but Bussy
seized her hands, and she let her friend go. They remained alone.

"Have I not done well, madame," said Bussy, "and do you not approve?"

"I do not desire to feign," said Diana, "besides, it would be
useless; you know I approve; but here must stop my indulgence;
in calling for you as I did just now I was mad--I was guilty."

"Mon Dieu! What do you say?"

"Alas I count, the truth; I have a right to make M. de Monsoreau
unhappy, to withhold from him my smiles and my love, but I have
no right to bestow them on another: for, after all, he is my

"Now, you will let me speak, will you not?"


"Well! of all that you have just said, you do not find one word
in your heart."


"Listen patiently; you have overwhelmed me with sophisms. The
commonplaces of morality do not apply here; this man is your
master, you say, but did you choose him? No; fate imposed him
on you, and you submitted. Now, do you mean to suffer all your
life the consequences, of this odious constraint? I will deliver
you from it."

Diana tried to speak, but Bussy stopped her.

"Oh! I know what you are going to say; that if I provoke M. de
Monsoreau and kill him, you will see me no more. So be it; I
may die of grief, but you will live free and happy, and you may
render happy some gallant man, who in his joy will sometimes bless
my name, and cry, 'Thanks, Bussy, thanks, for having delivered
us from that dreadful Monsoreau;' and you, yourself, Diana, who
will not dare to thank me while living, will thank me dead."

Diana seized his hand.

"You have not yet implored me, Bussy; you begin with menaces."

"Menace you! oh! could I have such an intention, I, who love
you so ardently, Diana. I know you love me; do not deny it, I
know it, for you have avowed it. Here, on my knees before you,
my hand on my heart, which has never lied, either from interest
or from fear, I say to you, Diana, I love you, for my whole life.
Diana, I swear to you, that if I die for you, it will be in adoring
you. If you still say to me, 'go,' I will go without a sigh, or
complaint, from this place where I am so happy, and I should
say, 'this woman does not love me, and never will love me.' Then
I should go away, and you would see me no more, but as my devotion
for you is great, my desire to see you happy would survive the
certainty that I could never be happy myself."

Bussy said this with so much emotion, and, at the same time firmness,
that Diana felt sure that he would do all he said, and she cried,--

"Thanks, count, for you take from me all remorse by your threats."

Saying these words, she gave him her hand, which he kissed
passionately. Then they heard the light steps of Jeanne, accompanied
by a warning cough. Instinctively the clasped hands parted. Jeanne
saw it.

"Pardon, my good friends, for disturbing you," said she, "but
we must go in if we do not wish to be sent for. M. le Comte,
regain, if you please, your excellent horse, and let us go to
the house. See what you lose by your obstinacy, M. de Bussy,
a dinner at the chateau, which is not to be despised by a man
who has had a long ride, and has been climbing trees, without
counting all the amusement we could have had, or the glances
that might have passed. Come, Diana, come away."

Bussy looked at the two friends with a smile. Diana held out her
hand to him.

"Is that all?" said he; "have you nothing to say?"

"Till to-morrow," replied she.

"Only to-morrow."

"To-morrow, and always."

Bussy uttered a joyful exclamation, pressed his lips to her hand,
and ran off. Diana watched him till he was out of sight.

"Now!" said Jeanne, when he had disappeared, "will you talk to
me a little?"

"Oh! yes."

"Well! to-morrow I shall go to the chase with St. Luc and your

"What, you will leave me alone at the chateau!"

"Listen, dear friend; I also have my principles, and there are
certain things that I cannot consent to do."

"Oh, Jeanne!" cried Diana, growing pale, "can you say such things
to me?"

"Yes, I cannot continue thus."

"I thought you loved me, Jeanne. What cannot you continue?"

"Continue to prevent two poor lovers from talking to each other
at their ease." Diana seized in her arms the laughing young woman.

"Listen!" said Jeanne, "there are the hunters calling us, and
poor St. Luc is impatient."



The next day, Bussy left Angers before the most wakeful bourgeois
had had their breakfast. He flew along the road, and Diana, mounted
on a terrace in front of the castle, saw him coming, and went
to meet him. The sun had scarcely risen over the great oaks,
and the grass was still wet with dew, when she heard from afar,
as she went along, the horn of St. Luc, which Jeanne incited
him to sound. She arrived at the meeting-place just as Bussy
appeared on the wall. The day passed like an hour. What had they
to say? That they loved each other. What had they to wish for?
They were together.

"Diana," said Bussy at length, "it seems to me as though my life
had begun only to-day. You have shown me what it is to live."

"And I," replied she, "who not long ago would have willingly
thrown myself into the arms of death, would now tremble to die
and lose your love. But why do you not come to the castle? My
father would be glad to see you, and M. de St. Luc is your friend."

"Alas, Diana, if I came once, I should be always there; all the
province would know it, and if it came to the ears of that ogre,
your husband, he would hasten here. You forbid me to deliver
you from him----"

"Oh, yes!"

"Well, then, for the safety of our happiness, we must guard our
secret. Madame de St. Luc knows it, and her husband soon will. I
have written him a line this morning, asking him for an interview
at Angers, and when he comes I will make him promise never to
breathe a word of this. It is the more important, dear Diana,
as doubtless they are seeking me everywhere. Things looked grave
when I left Paris.

"You are right; and then my father is so scrupulous that, in
spite of his love for me, he is capable of denouncing me to M.
de Monsoreau."

"Let us hide ourselves well, then; I fear some evil spirit, jealous
of our happiness."

"Say adieu to me, then; and do not ride so fast--your horse frightens

"Fear nothing; he knows the way, and is the gentlest and safest
horse I ever rode. When I return to the city, buried in sweet
thoughts, he takes the way without my touching the bridle."

At last the sound of the returning chase was heard, the horns
playing an air agreed upon with Jeanne, and Bussy left. As he
approached the city, he remarked that the time was approaching
when the gates of the city would be closed. He was preparing to
ride on quickly, when he heard behind him the gallop of horses.
For a lover who wishes to remain concealed, as for a robber,
everything seems a menace. Bussy asked himself whether he should
ride on or draw up and let them pass, but their course was so
rapid that they were up to him in a moment. There were two.

"Here is the city," said one, with a Gascon accent; "three hundred
more blows with the whip, and one hundred with the spur; courage
and vigor!"

"The beast has no more breath--he shivers and totters; he will
not go on; and yet I would give a hundred horses to be in my
city before nightfall."

"It is some Angers man out late," thought Bussy. "But look, the
horse is falling; take care, monsieur," cried he; "quit your
horse--he is about to fall."

Indeed, as he spoke the animal fell heavily on his side, shook
his legs convulsively, then suddenly his breath stopped, his
eyes grew dim, and he was dead.

"Monsieur!" cried the cavalier to Bussy, "three hundred pistoles
for your horse!"

"Ah, mon Dieu!" cried Bussy, drawing near.

"Do you hear me, monsieur? I am in haste."

"Ah! my prince, take it for nothing," cried Bussy, who had recognized
tae Duc d'Anjou.

At the same moment they heard the click of a pistol, which was
cocked by the duke's companion.

"Stop, M. d'Aubigne," cried the duke, "it is Bussy, I believe."

"Oh! yes, my prince, it is I. But what, in Heaven's name are you
doing, killing horses on the road at this hour?"

"Ah! is it M. de Bussy?" said D'Aubigne, "then you do not want
me any more. Permit me to return to him who sent me?"

"Not without receiving my sincere thanks and the promise of a
lasting friendship."

"I accept it, monseigneur, and will recall your words to you some

"M. D'Aubigne! I am in the clouds," murmured Bussy.

"Did you not know? As you are here, did you not expect me?" said
the prince, with an air of suspicion which did not escape Bussy,
who began to reflect that his secret residence in Anjou might
seem very strange to the prince.

"I did better than expect you," said Bussy, "and as you wish to
enter the town before the gates are closed, jump into the saddle,

The prince accepted, and Bussy mounted behind him, asking himself
if this prince, dressed in black, were not the evil spirit sent
already to disturb his happiness.

"Where do we go now, monseigneur?" said he, as they entered the

"To the castle. Let them hoist my banner and convoke the nobility
of the district."

"Nothing more easy," said Bussy, full of surprise, but willing
to be docile. The news was soon spread through the city that
the duke had arrived, and a crowd soon collected.

"Gentlemen!" cried the duke, "I have come to throw myself into my
good city of Angers. At Paris the most terrible dangers have menaced
my life--I had lost even my liberty. I succeeded in escaping, thanks
to some good friends, and now I am here I feel my tranquillity
and my life assured."

The people cried, "Long live our seigneur."

"Now let me sup," said the prince, "I have had nothing since the

The city was illuminated, guns were fired, the bells of the cathedral
were rung, and the wind carried to Meridor the noisy joy of the
good Angevins.

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