Chicot the Jester
Part 10 out of 12
"Oh, mon Dieu! what is the matter?"
"Something annoys me infinitely."
"Something! And are you not powerful enough to get rid of it?"
"It is not something, but some one, that M. Quelus means," said
"And whom I advise him to get rid of," said Schomberg, coming
forward on the other side.
"Ah, M. de Schomberg! I did not recognize you."
"Perhaps not; is my face still blue?"
"Not so; you are very pale. Are you not well?"
"Yes, it is with anger."
"Oh I then you have also some one who annoys you?"
"And I also," said Maugiron.
"Really, gentlemen, you all look very gloomy."
"You forget me," said D'Epernon, planting himself before Bussy.
"Pardon me, M. d'Epernon, you were behind the others, as usual,
and I have so little the pleasure of knowing you, that it was
not for me to speak first."
It was strange to see Bussy smiling and calm among those four
furious faces, whose eyes spoke with so terrible an eloquence,
that he must have been blind or stupid not to have understood
But Bussy never lost his smile.
"It seems to me that there is an echo in this room," said he quietly.
"Look, gentlemen," said Quelus, "how provincial M. de Bussy has
become; he has a beard, and no knot to his sword; he has black
boots and a gray hat."
"It is an observation that I was just making to myself, my dear
sir; seeing you so well dressed, I said to myself, 'How much
harm a few weeks' absence does to a man; here am I, Louis de
Clermont, forced to take a little Gascon gentleman as a model
of taste.' But let me pass; you are so near to me that you tread
on my feet, and I feel it in spite of my boots."
And turning away, he advanced towards St. Luc, whom he saw
"Incredible!" cried all the young men, "we insulted him; he took
"There is something in it," said Quelus.
"Well!" said the king, advancing, "what were you and M. de Bussy
"Do you wish to know what M. de Bussy said, sire?"
"Yes, I am curious."
"Well, I trod on his foot, and insulted him, and he said nothing."
"What, gentlemen," cried Henri, feigning anger, "you dared to
insult a gentleman in the Louvre!"
"Alas! yes, sire, and he said nothing."
"Well! I am going to the queen."
As the king went out of the great door, St. Luc reentered by a
side one, and advanced towards the four gentlemen.
"Pardon, M. Quelus," said he, "but do you still live in the Rue
"Yes, my dear friend; why do you ask?"
"I have two words to say to you."
"And you, M. de Schomberg?"
"Rue Bethisy," said Schomberg, astonished.
"D'Epernon's address I know."
"Rue de Grenelle."
"You are my neighbor. And you, Maugiron?"
"Near the Louvre. But I begin to understand; you come from M.
"Never mind from whom I come; I have to speak to you, that is
"To all four of us?"
"Then if you cannot speak here, let us all go to Schomberg's;
it is close by."
"So be it."
And the five gentlemen went out of the Louvre arm in arm.
HOW M. DE ST. LUC ACQUITTED HIMSELF OF THE COMMISSION GIVEN TO
HIM BY BUSSY.
Let us leave St. Luc a little while in Schomberg's room, and see
what had passed between him and Bussy.
Once out of the hall, St. Luc had stopped, and looked anxiously
at his friend.
"Are you ill?" said he, "you are so pale; you look as though you
were about to faint."
"No, I am only choking with anger."
"You do not surely mind those fellows?"
"You shall see."
"Come, Bussy, be calm."
"You are charming, really; be calm, indeed! if you had had half
said to you that I have had, some one would have been dead before
"Well, what do you want?"
"You are my friend; you have already given me a terrible proof
"Ah! my dear friend," said St. Luc, who believed Monsoreau dead
and buried, "do not thank me, it is not worth while; certainly
the thrust was a good one, and succeeded admirably, but it was
the king who showed it me, when he kept me here a prisoner at
"Never mind Monsoreau; tell me about Diana. Was she pleased at
last? Does she pardon me? When will the wedding take place?"
"Oh! my dear friend, we must wait till Monsoreau is dead."
"What!" cried St. Luc, starting back as though he had put his
foot on a pointed nail.
"Yes; poppies are not such dangerous plants as you thought; he
did not die from his fall on them, but is alive and more furious
"Yes, and he talks of nothing but vengeance, and of killing you
on the first occasion."
"And I have announced his death to everyone; he will find his
heirs in mourning. But he shall not give me the lie; I shall
meet him again, and if he escapes me a second time----"
"Calm yourself, my dear St. Luc; really, I am better off than
you would think; it is the duke whom he suspects, and of whom
he is jealous. I am his dear Bussy--his precious friend. That
is only natural, for it was that fool of a Remy who cured him.
"What an idiot he must have been!"
"He has an idea that, as an honest man and a doctor, it is his
duty to cure people. However, Monsoreau says he owes his life
to me, and confides his wife to my care."
"Ah! I understand that this makes you wait more patiently for
his death. However, I am quite thunderstruck at the news."
"But, now, my friend, let us leave Monsoreau."
"Yes, let us enjoy life while he is still ill; but once he is
well, I shall order myself a suit of mail, have new locks put
on my doors, and you must ask the Duc d'Anjou if his mother has
not given him some antidote against poison. Meanwhile, let us
"Well, my dear friend, you see you have only rendered me half
"Do you wish me to finish it?"
"Yes, in another way."
"Are you great friends with those four gentlemen?"
"Ma foi! we are something like cats and dogs in the sun; as long
as we an get the heat, we agree, but if one of us took the warmth
from another, then I do not answer for the consequences."
"Well, will you go for me to M. Quelus, first?"
"And ask him what day it will please him that I should cut his
throat, or he mine?"
"You do not mind it?"
"Not the least in the world. I will go at once if you wish it."
"One moment; as you go, just call on M. Schomberg and make him
the same proposal."
"Schomberg too? Diable, how you go on! Well, as you wish."
"Then, my dear St. Luc, as you are so amiable, go also to M.
Maugiron, and ask him to join the party."
"What, three! Bussy, you cannot mean it. I hope that is all."
"No; from him go to D'Epernon."
"Even so, my dear friend; I need not recommend to a man like you
to proceed with courtesy and politeness towards these gentlemen.
Let the thing be done in gallant fashion."
"You shall be content, my friend. What are your conditions?"
"I make none; I accept theirs."
"What they like."
"The day, place, and hour?"
"Whatever suits them."
"Oh! never mind such trifles, but do it quickly; I will walk
in the little garden of the Luxembourg; you will find me there
when you have executed your commission."
"You will wait, then?"
"It may be long."
"I have time."
We know how St. Luc found the four young men, and accompanied
them to Schomberg's house. St. Luc remained in the ante-chamber,
waiting until, according to the etiquette of the day, the four
young men were installed in the saloon ready to receive him.
Then an usher came and saluted St. Luc, who followed him to the
threshold of the saloon, where he announced M. d'Espinay de St.
Schomberg then rose and saluted his visitor, who, to mark the
character of the visit, instead of returning it, put on his hat.
Schomberg then, turning towards Quelus, said,
"I have the honor to present to you M. Jacques de Levis, Comte
The two gentlemen bowed, and then the same ceremony was gone
through with the others. This done, the four friends sat down,
but St. Luc remained standing and said to Quelus,
"M. le Comte, you have insulted M. le Comte Louis de Clermont
d'Amboise, Seigneur de Bussy, who presents to you his compliments,
and calls you to single combat on any day and hour, and with
such arms as may please you. Do you accept?"
"Certainly; M. de Bussy does me much honor."
"Your day and hour, M. le Comte?"
"To-morrow morning at seven o'clock."
"Rapier and dagger, if that suits M. de Bussy."
St. Luc bowed. Then he addressed the same questions to the others,
and received the same answers.
"If we all choose the same day and hour, M. de Bussy will be rather
embarrassed," said Schomberg.
"Certainly," replied St. Luc, "M. de Bussy may be embarrassed,
but he says that the circumstance would not be new to him, as
it has already happened at the Tournelles."
"And he would fight us all four?"
"Separately, or at once."
The four young men looked at each other; then Quelus, red with
"It is very fine of M. de Bussy, but however little we may be
worth, we can each do our own work; we will accept, therefore,
the count's proposal, fighting separately, or rather, which will
be still better, as we do not seek to assassinate a gallant man,
chance shall decide which of us shall fight M. de Bussy."
"And the three others?"
"Oh! M. de Bussy has too many friends, and we too many enemies,
for them to remain with folded arms. Do you agree to this,
"Yes!" cried all.
"If MM. Ribeirac, Antragues, and Livarot would join the party,
it would be complete."
"Gentlemen," said St. Luc, "I will transmit your desires to M.
de Bussy, and I believe I may promise that he is too courteous
not to agree to your wishes. It therefore only remains for me
to thank you in his name."
Then he took his leave, after throwing his purse to the four
lackeys, whom he found outside, to drink to their masters' healths.
IN WHAT RESPECT M. DE ST. LUC WAS MORE CIVILIZED THAN M. DE BUSSY,
THE LESSONS WHICH HE GAVE HIM, AND THE USE WHICH M. DE BUSSY
MADE OF THEM.
St. Luc returned, proud of having executed his commission so
well. Bussy thanked him, but looked sad, which was not natural
"Have I done badly?" said St. Luc.
"Ma foi, my dear friend, I only regret you did not say, 'at once.'"
"Why! what is the hurry?"
"I wish to die as soon as possible."
St. Luc looked at him in astonishment.
"Die! at your age, with your name, and Diana!"
"Yes, I shall kill them, I know, but I shall receive some good
blow which will tranquilize me forever."
"What black ideas, Bussy!"
"A husband whom I thought dead, and who has returned to life;
a wife who can scarcely quit the bedside of the pretended dying
man. Not to see her, smile on her, touch her hand. Mon Dieu!----"
St. Luc interrupted him with a burst of laughter. "Oh!" cried
he, "the innocent man. Why, no lover can be more fortunate than
"Prove that to me."
"You are the friend of M. de Monsoreau."
"Yes, I am ashamed to say, he calls me his friend."
"Well! be his friend."
"Oh! and abuse this title!"
"Is he really your friend?"
"He says so."
"No; for he makes you unhappy. Now the end of friendship is to
make one another happy. At least, so his majesty says, and he
is learned in friendship. So, if he makes you unhappy, he is not
your friend; therefore you may treat him either as a stranger,
and take his wife from him, or as an enemy, and kill him if he
"In fact, I hate him. But do you, not think he loves me?"
"Diable! Take away his wife and see."
"I must continue to be a man of honor."
"And let Madame de Monsoreau cure her husband both physically
and morally. For it is certain that if you get yourself killed,
she will attach herself to the only man who remains to her."
"But," added St. Luc, "here is my wife; she always gives good
advice. She has been picking herself a bouquet in the gardens
of the queen-mother, and will be in a good humor. Listen to her;
she speaks gold."
Jeanne arrived radiant, full of happiness and fun. Bussy saluted
her in a friendly manner, and she held out her hand to him, saying,
with a smile, "How go on the love affairs?"
"They are dying."
"They are wounded and fainting; perhaps you can restore them,
"Let me see; show me the wound."
"In two words, this is it: M. de Bussy does not like smiling on
M. de Monsoreau, and he thinks of retiring."
"And leaving Diana to him?"
"Oh! madame, St. Luc does not tell you that I wish to die."
"Poor Diana!" murmured Jeanne, "decidedly men are ungrateful."
"Good! this is the conclusion my wife draws."
"I, ungrateful!" cried Bussy, "because I fear to render my love
vile, by practising a disgraceful hypocrisy?"
"Oh! monsieur, that is only a pretext. If you were really in
love, you would fear but one thing--not to be loved in return."
"But, madame, there are sacrifices----"
"Not another word. Confess that you love Diana no longer; it will
be more worthy of a gallant man."
Bussy grew pale.
"You do not dare to tell her; well, I will."
"You are rich, you men, with your sacrifices. And does she make
none? What! expose herself to be massacred by that tiger of a
Monsoreau, preserve her position only by employing a strength
of will of which Samson or Hannibal would have been incapable.
Oh! I swear, Diana is sublime, I could not do a quarter of what
she does every day."
"Thank you!" said St. Luc.
"And he hesitates!" continued she, "he does not fall on his knees
and say his mea culpa."
"You are right," said Bussy, "I am but a man, that is to say,
an imperfect creature, inferior to the most commonplace woman."
"It is lucky you are convinced of it."
"What do you order me?"
"To go at once and pay it visit----"
"To M. de Monsoreau?"
"Who speaks of him?--to Diana."
"But he never leaves her."
"When you went so often to see Madame de Barbezieux, had she
not always near her that great ape who bit you because he was
Bussy began to laugh, and St. Luc and Jeanne followed his example.
"Madame," then said Bussy, "I am going to M. de Monsoreau's house;
He went there, and found the count in bed; he was delighted to
see him, and told him that Remy promised that his wound would
be cured in three weeks. Bussy recounted to him the commission
with which he had been charged, and his visit to the court.
"The duke has still projects on foot, has he not?"
"I believe so."
"Do not compromise yourself for that bad man; I know him: he is
perfidious, and will not hesitate to betray you."
"I know it."
"You are my friend, and I wish to put you on your guard."
"You must sleep after the dressing of your wound," said Remy.
"Yes, my dear doctor. My friend, take a turn in the garden with
Madame de Monsoreau."
"I am at your orders," replied Bussy.
THE PRECAUTIONS OF M. DE MONSOREAU.
St. Luc was right, and Jeanne was right, and Bussy soon acknowledged
it. As for Diana, she gave herself up to the two instincts that
Figaro recognizes as inborn in mankind, to love and to deceive.
M. de Monsoreau grew better and better. He had escaped from fever,
thanks to the application of cold water, that new remedy which
Providence had discovered to Ambrose Pare, when all at once he
received a great shock at hearing of the arrival in Paris of
the duke with the queen-mother. The day after his arrival, the
duke, under the pretext of asking after him, presented himself
at his hotel, and it was impossible to close his door against
a prince who showed so much interest in him. M. de Monsoreau
therefore was obliged to receive the prince, who was most amiable
to him and to his wife. As soon as he was gone, M. de Monsoreau
took Diana's arm, and in spite of Remy's remonstrances walked
three times round his armchair; and, from his satisfied air,
Diana was sure he was meditating on some project.
The next day the duke came again, and this time Monsoreau walked
round his room. That evening Diana warned Bussy that her husband
had certainly some project in his head. A few minutes after, when
Bussy and Monsoreau were alone, "When I think," said Monsoreau,
"that this prince, who smiles on me, is my mortal enemy, and
tried to have me assassinated by M. de St. Luc----"
"Oh, assassinated! take care, M. le Comte. St. Luc is a gentleman,
and you confess yourself that you provoked him, drew the sword
first, and received your wound in fair fight."
"Certainly; but it is not the less true that he obeyed the wishes
of M. d'Anjou."
"Listen! I know M. de St. Luc, and I can assure you he is devoted
to the king, and hates the duke. If your wound had come from
Antragues, Livarot, or Ribeirac, it might be so; but not from
"You do not know," replied Monsoreau, obstinate in his opinion.
At last he was able to go down into the garden. "That will do,"
said he; "now we will move."
"Why move?" said Remy. "The air is good here, and there is plenty
"Too much; M. d'Anjou fatigues me with his visits, and he always
brings with him a crowd of gentlemen, and the noise of their
spurs destroys my nerves."
"But where are you going?"
"I have ordered them to get ready my little house at the Tournelles."
Bussy and Diana exchanged a look of loving remembrance.
"What, that little place?" cried Remy, imprudently.
"What! do you know it?"
"Who does not know the houses of the chief huntsman? particularly
I, who lived in the Rue Beautrellis."
"Yes, yes, I will go there. It is a fortress, and one can see
from the window, three hundred yards off, who is coming to visit
you, and avoid them if you like, particularly when you are well!"
Bussy bit his lips; he feared a time might come when Monsoreau
might avoid him. Diana thought of the time when she had seen
Bussy in that house, lying fainting on the bed.
"You cannot do it," said Remy.
"Why not, if you please, monsieur?"
"Because the chief huntsman of France must hold receptions--must
keep valets and equipages. Let him have a palace for his dogs,
if he likes, but not a dog-kennel for himself."
"It is true, but----"
"But I am the doctor of the mind as of the body; it is not your
residence here that displeases you."
"That of madame; therefore send her away."
"Separate?" cried Monsoreau, fixing on Diana a look, more of anger
"Then give up your place--send in your resignation. I believe
it would be wise; if you do not do your duty, you will displease
the king, and if you do----"
"I will do anything but quit the countess," said Monsoreau, with
closely-shut teeth. As he spoke, they heard in the courtyard a
noise of voices and horses' feet.
"The duke again!" cried he.
"Yes," said Remy.
Immediately after the prince entered, and Monsoreau saw his first
glance given to Diana. He brought to her, as a present, one of
those masterpieces, of which the artists of that day were in the
habit of producing two or three in the course of a lifetime. It
was a poniard, with a handle of chased gold. This handle was a
smelling-bottle, and on the blade a chase was carved with admirable
skill; horses, dogs, trees, game, and hunters, mingled together
in an harmonious pele-mele, on this blade of azure and gold.
"Let me see," cried Monsoreau, who feared there was a note hidden
in the handle.
The prince separated the two parts. "To you, who are a hunter," said
he, "I give the blade: to the countess, the handle. Good-morning,
Bussy, you are then a friend of the count's, now?"
Diana reddened, but Bussy said:
"Your highness forgets that you asked me to inquire after M. de
"It is true."
The prince sat down, and began to talk to Diana. In a few minutes
he said, "Count, it is dreadfully warm in your rooms. I see the
countess is stifling. I will give her my arm for a turn in the
The husband looked furious.
"Give me an arm," said he to Bussy, and he got up and followed
"Ah!" said the duke, "it seems you are better."
"Yes, monseigneur, and I hope soon to be able to accompany Madame
de Monsoreau wherever she goes."
"Good; but meanwhile, do not fatigue yourself."
Monsoreau was obliged to sit down, but he kept them in view.
"Count," said he to Bussy, "will you be amiable enough to escort
Madame de Monsoreau this evening to my house at the Tournelles?"
"You cannot do that, monsieur," said Remy.
"Because M. d'Anjou would never forgive you if you helped to play
him such a trick."
Bussy was about to cry, "What do I care?" but a glance from Remy
"Remy is right," said Monsoreau, "it would injure you; to-morrow
I will go myself."
"You will lose your place."
"It is possible; but I shall keep my wife."
The next day they went to the old house; Diana took her old room,
with the bed of white and gold damask. A corridor only separated
it from that of the count. Bussy tore his hair with rage.
A VISIT TO THE HOUSE AT LES TOURNELLES.
The duke became more and more in love with Diana, as she seemed
always to escape him, and with his love for her, his hatred of
Monsoreau increased. On the other side he had not renounced his
political hopes, but had recommenced his underhand machinations.
The moment was favorable, for many wavering conspirators had
been encouraged by the kind of triumph which the weakness of
thy king, and the cunning of Catherine, had given to the duke;
however, he no longer confided his projects to Bussy, and showed
him only a hypocritical friendship. He was vaguely uneasy at
seeing him at Monsoreau's house, and envious of the confidence
that Monsoreau, so suspicious of himself, placed in him. He was
frightened also at the joy and happiness which shone in Diana's
face. He knew that flowers only bloom in the light of the sun,
and women in that of love. She was visibly happy, and this annoyed
him. Determined to use his power, both for love and vengeance,
he thought it would be absurd to be stayed in this purpose by
such ridiculous obstacles as the jealousy of a husband, and the
repugnance of a wife. One day he ordered his equipages, intending
to visit Monsoreau. He was told that he had moved to his house
in the Rue St. Antoine.
"Let us go there," said he to Bussy. Soon the place was in commotion
at the arrival of the twenty-four handsome cavaliers, each with
two lackeys, who formed the prince's suite. Both Bussy and the
prince knew the house well; they both went in, but while the
prince entered the room, Bussy remained on the staircase. It
resulted from this arrangement that the duke was received by
Monsoreau alone, while Bussy was received by Diana, while Gertrude
kept watch. Monsoreau, always pale, grew livid at sight of the
"Monseigneur, here! really it is too much honor for my poor house!"
cried he, with a visible irony.
The prince smiled. "Wherever a suffering friend goes, I follow
him," replied he. "How are you?"
"Oh, much better; I can already walk about, and in a week I shall
be quite well."
"Was it your doctor who prescribed for you the air of the Bastile?"
asked the prince, with the most innocent air possible.
"Did you not like the Rue des Petits-Peres?"
"No, monseigneur; I had too much company there--they made too
"But you have no garden here."
"I did not like the garden."
The prince bit his lips. "Do you know, comte," said he, "that
many people are asking the king for your place?"
"On what pretext, monseigneur?"
"They say you are dead."
"Monseigneur, you can answer for it that I am not."
"I answer for nothing; you bury yourself as though you were dead."
It was Monsoreau's turn to bite his lips.
"Well, then, I must lose my place," said he.
"Yes; there are things I prefer to it."
"You are very disinterested."
"It is my character, monseigneur."
"Then of course you will not mind the king's knowing your
"Who will tell him?"
"Diable! if he asks me about you, I must repeat our conversation."
"Ma foi! monseigneur, if all they say in Paris were reported
to the king, his two ears would not be enough to listen with."
"What do they say at Paris, monsieur?" asked the prince sharply.
Monsoreau tried to calm himself. "How should a poor invalid, as
I am, know?" said he. "If the king is angry at seeing his work
badly done, he is wrong."
"Because, doubtless, my accident proceeds, to some extent, from
"M. de St. Luc, who wounded me, is a dear friend of the king's.
It was the king who taught him the thrust by which he wounded
me, and it might have been the king who prompted him."
"You are right; but still the king is the king."
"Until he is so no longer."
The duke trembled. "Is not Madame de Monsoreau here?" said he.
"Monseigneur, she is ill, or she would have come to present her
respects to you."
"Ill! poor woman! it must be grief at seeing you suffer."
"Yes, and the fatigue of moving."
"Let us hope it will be a short indisposition. You have so skilful
"Yes, that dear Remy----"
"Why, he is Bussy's doctor."
"He has lent him to me."
"You are, then, great friends?"
"He is my best, I might say my only, friend."
As the duke raised the tapestry, he fancied he saw the skirt
of a dress disappear into the next room, and immediately Bussy
appeared at his post in the middle of the corridor. Suspicion
grew stronger with the duke.
"We are going," said he to Bussy, who ran down-stairs without
replying; while the duke, left alone, tried to penetrate the
corridor where he had seen the silk dress vanish. But, turning,
he saw that Monsoreau had followed, and was standing at the door.
"Your highness mistakes your way," said he.
"True," said the duke, "thank you." And he went down with rage
in his heart. When he returned home, Aurilly glided into his
"Well," said the duke, "I am baffled by the husband!"
"And, perhaps, also by the lover, monseigneur."
"What do you say?"
"I hope your highness will pardon me--it was in your service."
"I pardon you in advance. Go on."
"After your highness had gone up-stairs, I watched under a shed
in the courtyard."
"Ah! What did you see?"
"I saw a woman's dress; I saw this woman lean forward, and then
I heard the sound of along and tender kiss."
"But who was the man?"
"I cannot recognize arms."
"No, but you might gloves."
"Indeed, it seemed to me----"
"That you recognized them?"
"It was only a guess."
"Well, monseigneur, they looked like the gloves of M. de Bussy."
"Buff, embroidered with gold, were they not?"
"Ah! Bussy! yes, it was Bussy. Oh, I was blind and yet not blind;
but I could not believe in so much audacity."
"But your highness must not believe it too lightly; might there
not have been a man hidden in her room?"
"Yes, doubtless, but Bussy, who was in the corridor, would have
"That is true."
"And then the gloves----"
"Yes, and besides the kiss, I heard----"
"Three words, 'Till to-morrow evening.'"
"Oh! mon Dieu!"
"So that, if you like, we can make sure."
"Aurilly, we will go."
"Your highness knows I am at your orders."
"Ah! Bussy, a traitor! Bussy, the honest man--Bussy, who does
not wish me to be King of France;" and the duke, smiling with
an infernal joy, dismissed Aurilly.
The duke kept Bussy near him all day, so as not to lose sight of
his movements. Bussy did not care, so that he had his evenings
free. At ten o'clock he wrapped himself in his cloak, and with
a rope ladder under his arm went towards the Bastile. The duke,
who did not know that he had a ladder, and could not believe in
any one walking alone at night through the streets of Paris,
thought Bussy would certainly call at his hotel for a horse and
a servant, and lost ten minutes in preparations. During those ten
minutes, Bussy, active and in love, had already gone three-fourths
of the distance. He was lucky, as brave people generally are, and
met with no accident by the way, and on arriving saw a light in
the windows. It was the signal agreed on between him and Diana.
He threw his ladder up to the balcony, it had six hooks to it,
and was sure to fasten itself somewhere. At the noise, Diana
put out her light and opened the window to fasten the ladder. The
thing was done in a moment. Diana looked all around; the street
seemed deserted. Then she signed to Bussy to mount, and he was up
in five seconds. The moment was happily chosen, for while he
got in at the window, M. de Monsoreau, after having listened
patiently fur a quarter of an hour at his wife's door, descended
the stairs painfully, leaning on the arm of a confidential valet,
and it so happened that he opened the street-door just as the
ladder was drawn up, and the window closed. He looked around,
but the streets were deserted.
"You have been badly informed," said he to the servant.
"No, monsieur, I have just left the Hotel d'Anjou, and they told
me that the duke had ordered two horses for this evening. But
perhaps it was not to come here."
"Where else should he go?" said Monsoreau, with a somber air.
He, like all jealous persons, thought the whole world had nothing
to do but to torment him.
"Perhaps I should have done better to stay in her room," murmured
he. "But they probably have signals for corresponding; she would
have warned him of my presence, and I should have learned nothing.
It is better to watch outside. Come, conduct me to the hiding-place,
whence you say one can see everything."
About twenty-five steps from the door was an enormous heap of stones
belonging to demolished houses, and serving for fortifications to
the children of the neighborhood when they played at battles.
In the midst was a space, which could contain two people. The
valet spread a cloak, on which Monsoreau sat down, while his
servant sat at his feet, with a loaded musket placed beside him.
Diana had prudently drawn her thick curtains, so that scarcely
a ray of light showed through, to betray that there was life
in this gloomy house.
They had been watching about ten minutes, when two horses appeared
at the end of the street. The valet pointed to them.
"I see," said Monsoreau.
The two men got off their horses, and tied them up at the corner
of the Hotel des Tournelles.
"Monseigneur," said Aurilly, "I believe we have arrived too late;
he must have gone straight from your hotel and must have entered."
"Perhaps so; but if we did not see him go in, we can see him come
"Yes, but when?"
"When we please."
"Would it be too curious to ask how you mean to manage?"
"Nothing is more easy; we have but to knock at the door, and
ask after M. de Monsoreau. Our lover will be frightened at the
noise, and as you enter the house he will come out at the window,
and I, who am hidden outside, shall see him."
"What can he say? I am his friend, and was uneasy about him, as
he looked so ill yesterday; nothing can be more simple."
"It is very ingenious, monseigneur."
"Do you hear what they say?" asked Monsoreau of his valet.
"No, monsieur, but we soon shall, for they are coming nearer."
"Monseigneur," said Aurilly, "here is a heap of stones which seems
made on purpose for us."
"Yes, but wait a moment, perhaps we can see through the opening
of the curtain." And they stood for some minutes trying to find
a place to peep through. Meanwhile, Monsoreau was boiling with
impatience, and his hand approached the musket.
"Oh! shall I suffer this?" murmured he, "shall I devour this
affront also? No, my patience is worn out. Mordieu! that I can
neither sleep, nor wake, nor even suffer quietly, because a shameful
caprice has lodged in the idle brain of this miserable prince.
No, I am not a complaisant valet; I am the Comte de Monsoreau,
and if he comes near, on my word, I will blow his brains out.
Light the match, Rene."
At this moment, just as the prince was about to seek his
hiding-place, leaving his companion to knock at the door, Aurilly
touched his arm.
"Well, monsieur, what is it?" asked the prince.
"Come away, monseigneur, come."
"Do you not see something shining there to the left?"
"I see a spark among that heap of stones."
"It is the match of a musket, or arquebuse."
"Ah! who the devil can be in ambush there?"
"Some friend or servant of Bussy's. Let us go and make a detour,
and return another way. The servant will give the alarm, and
we shall see Bussy come out of the window."
"You are right; come;" and they went to their horses.
"They are going," said the valet.
"Yes. Did you recognize them?"
"They seemed to me to be the prince and Aurilly."
"Just so. But I shall soon be more sure still."
"What will monsieur do?"
Meanwhile, the duke and Aurilly turned into the Rue St. Catherine,
intending to return by the boulevard of the Bastile.
Monsoreau went in, and ordered his litter.
What the duke had foreseen happened. At the noise that Monsoreau
made, Bussy took the alarm, the light was extinguished, the ladder
fixed, and Bussy, to his great regret, was obliged to fly, like
Romeo, but without having, like him, seen the sun rise and heard
the lark sing. Just as he touched the ground, and Diana had thrown
him the ladder, the duke and Aurilly arrived at the corner of
the Bastile. They saw a shadow suspended from Diana's window,
but this shadow disappeared almost instantaneously at the corner
of the Rue St. Paul.
"Monsieur," said the valet to Monsoreau, "we shall wake up the
"What do I care?" cried Monsoreau, furiously. "I am master here,
I believe, and I have at least the right to do what M. d'Anjou
wished to do."
The litter was got ready, and, drawn by two stout horses, it was
soon at the Hotel d'Anjou.
The duke and Aurilly had so recently come in that their horses
were not unsaddled. Monsoreau, who had the entree, appeared on
the threshold just as the duke, after having thrown his hat on
a chair, was holding out his boots to a valet to pull off. A
servant, preceding him by some steps, announced M. de Monsoreau.
A thunderbolt breaking his windows, could not have astonished
the prince more.
"M. de Monsoreau!" cried he, with an uneasiness he could not hide.
"Myself, monseigneur," replied he, trying to repress his emotion,
but the effort he made over himself was so violent that his legs
failed him, and he fell on to a chair which stood near.
"But you will kill yourself, my dear friend," said the duke;
"you are so pale, you look as though you were going to faint."
"Oh, no; what I have to say to your highness is of too much
importance; I may faint afterwards."
"Speak, then, my dear comte."
"Not before your people, I suppose."
The duke dismissed everyone.
"Your highness has just come in?" said Monsoreau.
"As you see, comte."
"It is very imprudent of your highness to go by night in the street."
"Who told you I had been in the streets?"
"The dust on your clothes."
"M. de Monsoreau, have you another employment besides that of
"Yes, that of spy, monseigneur; all the world follow that calling
now, more or less, and I, like the rest."
"And what does this profession bring you, monsieur?"
"It is curious."
"Well, tell me what you have to say."
"I came for that."
"You permit me to sit down?" said the duke.
"No irony, monseigneur, towards an old and faithful servant,
who comes at this hour and in this state to do you a service.
If I sat down, on my honor, it was because I could not stand."
"A service! to do me a service?"
"Monseigneur, I come on the part of a great prince."
"From the king?"
"No; M. le Duc de Guise."
"Ah! that is quite a different thing. Approach, and speak low."
HOW M. LE DUC D'ANJOU SIGNED, AND AFTER HAVING SIGNED, SPOKE.
There was a moment's silence. Then the duke said: "Well, M. le
Comte, what have you to say to me from the Duc de Guise?"
"They have written to you?"
"No; the duke writes no more since that strange disappearance
of Nicholas David. They have come to Paris."
"MM. de Guise are at Paris?"
"I have not seen them."
"They are too prudent to expose themselves or your highness to
"And I was not told!"
"I tell you now."
"What have they come for?"
"They come, monseigneur, to the rendezvous you gave them."
"That I gave them!"
"Doubtless; on the day when your highness was arrested you received
a letter from M. de Guise, and replied to it verbally, through
me, that they were to come to Paris from the thirty-first of
May to the second of June. It is now the thirty-first of May,
and if your highness has forgotten them, they have not forgotten
Francois grew pale. So many events had passed since, that he
had forgotten the rendezvous. "It is true," said he, at length,
"but the relations which then existed between us exist no longer."
"If that be so, monseigneur, you would do well to tell them, for
I believe they think differently."
"You, perhaps, think yourself free as regards them, but they feel
bound to you."
"A snare, my dear comte, in which a man does not let himself be
"And where was monseigneur taken in a snare?"
"Where? at the Louvre, mordieu."
"Was it the fault of MM. de Guise?"
"I do not say so, but they never assisted me to escape."
"It would have been difficult; they were flying themselves."
"It is true."
"But when you were in Anjou, did they not charge me to tell you
that you could always count on them, as they on you, and that
the day you marched on Paris, they would do the same?"
"It is true, but I did not march on Paris."
"You are here."
"Yes; but as my brother's ally."
"Monseigneur will permit me to observe that he is more than the
ally of the Guises."
The duke bit his lips.
"And you say they charged you to announce their arrival to me?"
"They did me that honour."
"But they did not tell you the motive of their return?"
"They told me all, knowing me to be the confidant of your highness."
"Then they have projects. What are they?"
"The same always."
"And they think them practicable?"
"They look upon them as certain."
"And these projects have for an aim----"
The duke stopped, not daring to finish.
"To make you King of France; yes, monseigneur."
The duke felt the flush of joy mount to his face.
"But," said he "is the moment favorable?"
"Your wisdom must decide."
"Yes, the facts cannot be contradicted. The nomination of the
king as head of the League was only a comedy, quickly seen through
and appreciated. Now the reaction has commenced, and the entire
state is rising against the tyranny of the king and his creatures.
Sermons are a call to arms, and churches are places where they
curse the king, instead of praying to God. The army trembles
with impatience; the bourgeois league together; our emissaries
bring in nothing but signatures and new adherents to the League.
In a word, the king's reign touches on its close. Now, do you
renounce your former projects?"
The duke did not reply.
"Monseigneur knows that he may speak frankly to me."
"I think," said the duke, "that considering my brother has no
children, that his health is uncertain, and that after him the
crown will come naturally to me, there is no reason why I should
compromise my name and my dignity, in a useless struggle, and
try to take, with danger, what will come to me in due course."
"Your highness is in error; your brother's throne will only come
to you if you take it. MM. de Guise cannot be kings themselves,
but they will only allow to reign a king of their own making,
a king whom they substitute for the reigning one. They count
on your highness, but if you refuse, they will seek another."
"And who will dare to seat himself on the throne of Charlemagne?"
"A Bourbon instead of a Valois, monseigneur; a son of St, Louis,
instead of a son of St. Louis."
"The king of Navarre?"
"Why not? He is young, and brave,"
"He is a Huguenot."
"Was he not converted at the St. Bartholomew?"
"Yes, and he abjured afterwards."
"Oh, monseigneur, what he did for his wife, he will do again for
"They think, then, that I will yield my rights without a struggle."
"The case is provided for."
"I will fight."
"They are men of war."
"I will put myself at the head of the League."
"They are the soul of it."
"I will join my brother."
"Your brother will be dead."
"I will call the kings of Europe to my aid."
"They will think twice before making war on a people."
"My party will stand by me."
"Your party, I believe, consists of M. de Bussy and myself."
"Then I am tied."
"Nearly so. You can do nothing without the Guises; with them,
everything. Say the word, and you are king."
The duke walked about for a few minutes, in great agitation, then
stopped, and said, "Go on, count."
"This, then, is the plan. In eight days the Fete Dieu will take
place, and the king meditates on that day a great procession
to the convents of Paris. There, the guards will remain at the
door, the king will stop before each altar, kneel down, and say
five paters and five aves."
"I know all that."
"He will go to St. Genevieve----"
"He will enter with a suite of five or six persons, and behind
them, the doors will be closed."
"Your highness knows the monks who will do the honors of the Abbey
to his majesty."
"They will be the same----"
"Who were there when your highness was crowned."
"They will dare to lay hands on the Lord's anointed?"
"Oh! to shave him, only."
"They will never dare to do that to a king."
"He will not be a king then."
"Have you never heard of a holy man who preaches sermons, and
is going to perform miracles?"
"The one who wished to preach the League with his arquebuse on
"Well! they will conduct the king into his cell; once there, he
will be asked to sign his abdication, then, when he has signed,
Madame de Montpensier will enter, scissors in hand. She wears
them now, hanging to her side; they are charming scissors, made
of gold, and admirably chased, to do him honor. You understand
the rest. We announced to the people that the king, experiencing
a holy repentance for his sins, has announced his intention of
never more leaving the convent. If there are any who doubt, M.
de Guise holds the army, M. le Cardinal the Church, and M. de
Mayenne the bourgeois; and with these three powers you can make
the people believe what you like."
"But they will accuse me of violence," said the duke.
"You need not be there."
"They will look on me as a usurper."
"Monseigneur forgets the abdication."
"The king will refuse."
"It seems that Brother Gorenflot is not only clever, but strong."
"The plan is then settled?"
"And they do not fear that I shall denounce it?"
"No, monseigneur; for in that case, they have another, not less
"And this one?"
"I do not know; they thought me too much your friend to trust
me with it."
"Well, I yield, count. What must I do?"
"Words are not enough."
"It is a folly to suppose I will ever consent to that."
"And why not?"
"If the conspiracy fail----"
"It is just in case it should, that they ask for your signature."
"Then they wish to shelter themselves behind my name?"
"Then I refuse."
"I cannot refuse?"
"Are you mad?"
"To refuse is to betray."
"Let them think as they like; at all events I will choose my own
"Monseigneur, you choose badly."
"I will risk it," cried Francois, endeavoring to keep firm.
"For your own interest I advise you not to do so."
"But I shall compromise myself by signing."
"In refusing, you assassinate yourself."
"They would dare?" said he.
"They would dare anything, monseigneur. The conspirators have
gone so far, that they must succeed at any cost."
The duke, with his usual indecision, felt terribly perplexed.
"I will sign," said he, at last.
"No, monseigneur; if you sign, it must be at once."
"But M. de Guise must draw up the agreement."
"It is already drawn-here it is;" and Monsoreau drew a paper
from his pocket: it was a full adhesion to the scheme. The duke
read it though, growing more and more pale as he did so.
"Here is the pen, monseigneur."
"Then I must sign?"
"If you wish to do so; no one forces you."
"Yes, they do, since they menace me with assassination."
"I do not menace you, monseigneur--I only warn you."
"Give me the pen."
And, snatching it eagerly, he signed the paper. Monsoreau watched
him with an eye full of hatred and hope, and no sooner had the
duke finished than, exclaiming "Ah!" he seized the paper, buttoned
it into his doublet, and wrapped his cloak over it.
Francois looked at him with astonishment, for a flash of ferocious
joy played over his face.
"And now, monseigneur, be prudent," said he.
"Do not run about the streets with Aurilly, as you did just now."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that, this evening, you pursued with your love a woman
whom her husband adores, and whom he is jealous of, enough to
kill any one who approaches her without permission."
"Is it of you and your wife that you are speaking?"
"Yes, monseigneur. I have married Diana de Meridor; she is mine,
and no one shall have her while I live--not even a prince; I
swear it by my name and on this poniard!" and he touched with
his poniard the breast of the prince, who started back.
"Monsieur, you menace me!" cried Francois, pale with rage.
"No, monseigneur; once more, I say, I only warn you."
"That no one shall make love to my wife."
"And I warn you that you are too late, and that some one makes
love to her already."
Monsoreau uttered a terrible cry. "Is it you?" cried he.
"You are mad, count!"
"No, I am not; prove your words."
"Who was hidden this evening, twenty steps from your door, with
"Well, comte, during that time there was a man with your wife."
"You saw him go in?"
"I saw him come out."
"By the door?"
"No, by the window."
"Did you recognize him?"
"Name him, monseigneur, or I do not answer for myself."
The duke half smiled.
"M. le Comte," said he, "on my faith as a prince, on my soul,
within a week I will tell you his name."
"You swear it."
"I swear it."
"Well, monseigneur, you have a week; but----" said he, touching
the paper in his breast.
"Come back in eight days."
"Good! in eight days I shall have regained all my strength, ready
A PROMENADE AT THE TOURNELLES.
In course of time the Angevin gentlemen had returned to Paris,
although not with much confidence. They knew too well the king,
his brother, and mother, to hope that all would terminate in a
family embrace. They returned, therefore, timidly, and glided
into the town armed to the teeth, ready to fire on the least
suspicion, and drew their swords fifty times before the Hotel
d'Anjou on harmless bourgeois, who were guilty of no crime but
of looking at them. They presented themselves at the Louvre,
magnificently dressed in silk, velvet, and embroidery. Henri
III. would not receive them; they waited vainly in the gallery.
It was MM. Quelus, Maugiron, Schomberg, and D'Epernon who came to
announce this news to them, with great politeness, and expressing
all the regrets in the world.
"Ah, gentlemen," said Antragues, "the news is sad, but, coming
from your mouths, it loses half its bitterness."
"Gentlemen," said Schomberg, "you are the flower of grace and
courtesy. Would it please you to change the reception which you
have missed into a little promenade?"
"Ah! gentlemen, we were about to propose it."
"Where shall we go?" said Quelus.
"I know a charming place near the Bastile," said Schomberg.
"We follow you, go on."
Then the eight gentlemen went out, arm in arm, talking gaily
on different subjects, until Quelus said, "Here is a solitary
place, with a good footing."
"Ma foi, yes."
"Well! we thought that you would one day accompany us here to
meet M. de Bussy, who has invited us all here."
"It is true," said Bussy.
"Do you accept?" said Maugiron.
"Certainly; we rejoice at such an honor."
"That is well," said Schomberg; "shall we each choose an opponent?"
"No," said Bussy, "that is not fair; let us trust to chance,
and the first one that is free can join the others."
"Let us draw lots then," said Quelus.
"One moment," said Bussy, "first let us settle the rules of the
"They are simple; we will fight till death ensues!"
"Yes, but how?"
"With sword and dagger."
"Oh, yes! on horseback one's movements are not so free."
"Then, on foot."
"The soonest possible."
"No," said D'Epernon, "I have a thousand things to settle and
a will to make; I would rather wait five or six days."
"So be it."
"Then draw lots."
"One moment! divide the ground into four compartments, each for
"I propose for number one, the long square between the chestnuts;
it is a fine place."
"But the sun? one would be turned to the east."
"No," said Bussy, "that is not fair;" and he proposed a new position,
which was agreed to.
Schomberg and Ribeirac came first. They were the first pair;
Quelus and Antragues the second; then Livarot and Maugiron the
third. D'Epernon, who saw himself left to Bussy, grew very pale.
"Now, gentlemen," said Bussy, "until the day of the combat, let
us be friends. Will you accept a dinner at the Hotel Bussy?"
All agreed, and returned with Bussy to his hotel, where a sumptuous
banquet united them till morning.
IN WHICH CHICOT SLEEPS.
The movements of the young men had been remarked by the king
and Chicot. The king walked up and down, waiting impatiently for
his friends to return; but Chicot followed them at a distance, and
saw enough to be satisfied of their intentions. When he returned
to the house he found the king, walking up and down, muttering.
"Ah! my dear friend! do you know what has become of them?" cried
"Whom? your minions?"
"Alas! yes, my poor friends."
"They must lie very low by this time."
"Have they been killed?" cried Henri; "are they dead?"
"Dead I fear----"
"And you laugh, wretch?"
"Oh! my son, dead drunk."
"Oh! Chicot, how you terrified me. But why do you calumniate
"On the contrary, I praise them."
"Be serious, I beg; do you know that they went out with the
"Of course, I know it."
"What was the result?"
"What I tell you; that they are dead drunk."
"He is intoxicating them; he is a dangerous man."
"Chicot, for pity's sake----"
"Yes; Bussy has given a dinner to your friends; how do you like
"Impossible! They are sworn enemies."
"Have you good legs?"
"What do you mean?"
"Will you go to the river?"
"I would go to the end of the world to see such a thing."
"Well! go only to the Hotel Bussy."
"Will you accompany me?"
"Thank you, I have just come from there."
"Oh! no; I, who have seen, do not need to be convinced. Go,
my son, go. You disquiet yourself about your friends; you first
pity them as if they were dead, and when you hear they are not
dead, you are uneasy still----"
"You are intolerable, M. Chicot."
"Would you have preferred that they should each have had seven
or eight wounds by a rapier?"
"I should like to be able to depend on my friends."
"Oh! ventre de biche, depend upon me; I am here, my son, only
feed me. I want pheasant and truffles."
Henri and his only friend went to bed early, the king still sighing.
The next day, at the petite levee of the king, MM. Quelus, Schomberg,
Maugiron, and D'Epernon presented themselves. Chicot still slept.
The king jumped from his bed in a fury, and tearing off the perfumed
mask from his face, cried, "Go out from here."
The young men looked at each other in wonder.
"But, sire, we wished to say to your majesty----"
"That you are no longer drunk, I suppose."
Chicot opened his eyes.
"Your majesty is in error," said Quelus, gravely.
"And yet I have not drunk the wine of Anjou."
"Oh! I understand," said Quelus, smiling.
"If your majesty will remain alone with us, we will tell you."
"I hate drunkards and traitors."
"Sire," cried three of the gentlemen.
"Patience, gentlemen," said Quelus, "his majesty has slept badly,
and had unpleasant dreams. A few words will set all right."
"Speak then, but be brief."
"It is possible, sire, but difficult."
"Yes; one turns long round certain accusations."
"No, sire, we go straight to it," replied Quelus, looking again
at Chicot and the usher, as though to reiterate his request that
they might be left alone. The king signed to the usher to leave
the room, but Chicot said, "Never mind me, I sleep like a top," and
closing his eyes again, he began to snore with all his strength.
WHERE CHICOT WAKES.
"Your majesty," said Quelus, "knows only half the business, and
that the least interesting half. Assuredly, we have all dined
with M. de Bussy, and to the honor of his cook, be it said, dined
well. There was, above all, a certain wine from Austria or Hungary,
which really appeared to me marvelous. But during the repast,
or rather after it, we had the most serious and interesting
conversation concerning your majesty's affairs."
"You make the exordium very long."
"How talkative you are, Valois!" cried Chicot.
"Oh! oh! M. Gascon," said Henri, "if you do not sleep, you must
leave the room."
"Pardieu, it is you who keep me from sleeping, your tongue clacks
Quelus, seeing it was impossible to speak seriously, shrugged
his shoulders, and rose in anger.
"We were speaking of grave matters," said he.
"Yes," said D'Epernon, "if the lives of eight brave gentlemen
are worth the trouble of your majesty's attention."
"What does it mean, my son?" said Henri, placing his hand on Quelus's
"Well, sire, the result of our conversation was, that royalty
is menaced--weakened, that is to say, that all the world is
conspiring against you. Sire, you are a great king, but you have
no horizon before you; the nobility have raised so many barriers
before your eyes, that you can see nothing, if it be not the
still higher barriers that the people have raised. When, sire,
in battle one battalion places itself like a menacing wall before
another, what happens? Cowards look behind them, and seeing an
open space, they fly; the brave lower their heads and rush on."
"Well, then forward!" cried the king, "mordieu! am I not the
first gentleman in my kingdom? Were they not great battles that
I fought in my youth? Forward, then, gentlemen, and I will take
the lead; it is my custom in the melee."
"Oh! yes, sire," cried the young men, with one voice.
"And," said Quelus, "against these ramparts which are closing
round your majesty, four men will march, sure to be applauded
by you, and glorified by posterity."
"What do you mean, Quelus?" cried the king, with eyes in which
joy was tempered by solicitude; "who are these four men?"
"I, and these other gentlemen," replied Quelus, with pride; "we
devote ourselves, sire."
"To your safety."
"Against your enemies."
"Private enmities of young men?"
"Oh! sire, that is the expression of vulgar prejudice; speak like
a king, sire, not like a bourgeois. Do not profess to believe
that Maugiron detests Antragues, that Schomberg dislikes Livarot,
that D'Epernon is jealous of Bussy, and that I hate Ribeirac.
Oh! no. They are all young, and agreeable, and might love each
other like brothers: it is not, therefore, a rivalry between
man and man, which places the swords in our hands; it is the
quarrel of France with Anjou, the dispute as to the rights of
the populace against the prerogatives of the king. We present
ourselves as champions of royalty in those lists, where we shall
be met by the champions of the League, and we came to say, 'Bless
us, sire, smile on those who are going to die for you.' Your
blessing will, perhaps, give us the victory, your smile will make
us die happy."
Henri, overcome with emotion, opened his arms to Quelus and the
others. He united them in his heart; and it was not a spectacle
without interest, a picture without expression, but a scene in
which manly courage was allied to softer emotions, sanctified by
devotion. Chicot looked on, and his face, ordinarily indifferent
or sarcastic, was not the least noble and eloquent of the six.
"Ah!" cried the king, "I am proud to-day, not of being King of
France, but of being your friend; at the same time, as I know
my own interests best, I will not accept a sacrifice, of which
the result will deliver me up, if you fall, into the hands of
my enemies. France is enough to make war on Anjou; I know my
brother, the Guises, and the League, and have often conquered
more dangerous foes."
"But, sire, soldiers do not reason thus, they never take ill luck
into their calculations."
"Pardon me, Maugiron; a soldier may act blindly, but the captain
"Reflect, then, sire, and let us act, who are only soldiers,"
said Schomberg: "besides, I know no ill luck; I am always
"Friend, friend," said the king, sadly, "I wish I could say as
much. It is true, you are but twenty."
"Sire," said Quelus, "on what day shall we meet MM. Bussy, Livarot,
Antragues and Ribeirac?"
"Never; I forbid it absolutely."
"Sire, excuse us, the rendezvous was arranged before the dinner,
words were said which cannot be retracted."
"Excuse me, monsieur," said Henri, "the king absolves from oaths
and promises by saying, 'I will, or I will not,' for the king
is all-powerful. Tell these gentlemen, therefore, that I have
menaced you with all my anger it you come to blows; and that
you may not doubt it yourselves, I swear to exile you, if----"
"Stop! sire; do not swear; because, if for such a cause we have
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