Chicot the Jester
Alexandre Dumas

Part 4 out of 12

recognized their hero.

"The great Henri of Guise himself!" thought Chicot, "whom his very
imbecile majesty believes occupied at the siege of La Charite. Ah!
and he at the right is the Cardinal of Lorraine, and he at the
left M. de Mayenne--a trinity not very holy, but very visible."

"Did you think he would come?" said La Balafre to his brothers.

"I was so sure of it, that I have under my cloak where-with to
replace the holy vial."

And Chicot perceived, by the feeble light of the lamp, a silver
gilt box, richly chased. Then about twenty monks, with their heads
buried in immense hoods, came out of the crypt, and stationed
themselves in the nave. A single one, conducted by M. de Monsoreau,
mounted the staircase, and placed himself at the right of M. de
Guise. Then M. de Guise spoke. "Friends," said he, "time is
precious; therefore I go straight to the point. You have heard
just now, in the first assembly, the complaints of some of our
members, who tax with coldness the principal person among us,
the prince nearest to the throne. The time is come to render
justice to this prince; you shall hear and judge for yourselves
whether your chiefs merit the reproach of coldness and apathy
made by one of our brothers, the monk Gorenflot, whom we have
not judged it prudent to admit into our secret."

At this name, pronounced in a tone which showed bad intentions
towards the warlike monk, Chicot in his confessional could not
help laughing quietly.

"Monsieur," said the duke, now turning towards the mysterious
personages at his right, "the will of God appears to me manifest;
for since you have consented to join us, it shows that what we
do is well done. Now, your highness, we beg of you to lower your
hood, that your faithful friends may see with their own eyes
that you keep the promise which I made in your name, and which
they hardly dared to believe."

The mysterious personage now lowered his hood, and Chicot saw
the head of the Duc d'Anjou appear, so pale that, by the light
of the lamp, it looked like that of a marble statue.

"Oh, oh!" thought Chicot, "the duke is not yet tired of playing
for the crown with the heads of others!"

"Long live Monseigneur le Duc d'Anjou!" cried the assembly.

The duke grew paler than ever.

"Fear nothing, monseigneur," said Henri de Guise; our chapel is
deaf, and its doors are well closed."

"My brothers," said the Comte de Monsoreau, "his highness wishes
to address a few words to the assembly."

"Yes, yes!" cried they.

"Gentlemen," began he, in a voice so trembling that at first
they could hardly distinguish his words, "I believe that God,
who often seems insensible and deaf to the things of this world,
keeps, on the contrary, His piercing eyes constantly on us, and
only remains thus careless in appearance in order to remedy, by
some great blow, the disorders caused by the foolish ambitions
of men. I also have kept my eyes, if not on the world, at least
on France. What have I seen there? The holy religion of Christ
shaken to its foundation by those who sap all belief, under the
pretext of drawing nearer to God, and my soul has been full of
grief. In the midst of this grief, I heard that several noble
and pious gentlemen, friends of our old faith, were trying to
strengthen the tottering altar. I threw my eyes around me, and
saw on one side the heretics, from whom I recoiled with horror;
on the other side the elect, and I am come to throw myself into
their arms. My brothers, here I am."

The applause and bravos resounded through the chapel. Then the
cardinal, turning to the duke, said:

"You are amongst us of your own free will?"

"Of my free will, monsieur."

"Who instructed you in the holy mystery?"

"My friend, the Comte de Monsoreau, a man zealous for religion."

"Then," said the Duc de Guise, "as your highness has joined us,
have the goodness to tell us what you intend to do for the league."

"I intend to serve the Catholic religion in all its extent."

"Ventre de biche!" thought Chicot, "why not propose this right
out to the king? It would suit him excellently--processions,
macerations, extirpation of heresy, fagots, and auto-da-fes!
Go on, worthy brother of his majesty, noble imbecile, go on!"

And the duke, as if sensible of the encouragement, proceeded:
"But the interests of religion are not the sole aim which you
gentlemen propose. As for me, I see another; for when a gentleman
has thought of what he owes to God, he then thinks of his country,
and he asks himself if it really enjoys all the honor and prosperity
which it ought to enjoy. I ask this about our France, and I see
with grief that it does not. Indeed, the state is torn to pieces
by different wills and tastes, one as powerful as the other. It
is, I fear, to the feebleness of the head, which forgets that
it ought to govern all for the good of its subjects, or only
remembers this royal principle at capricious intervals, when
the rare acts of energy are generally not for the good, but the
ill of France, that we must attribute these evils. Whatever be
the cause, the ill is a real one, although I accuse certain false
friends of the king rather than the king himself. Therefore I
join myself to those who by all means seek the extinction of
heresy and the ruin of perfidious counselors."

This discourse appeared profoundly to interest the audience, who,
throwing back their hoods, drew near to the duke.

"Monseigneur," said the Duc de Guise, "in thanking your royal
highness for the words you have just uttered, I will add that
you are surrounded by people devoted not only to the principles
which you profess, but to the person of your highness; and if
you have any doubt, the conclusion of this sitting will convince

"Monseigneur," said the cardinal, "if your highness still experiences
any fear, the names of those who now surround you will, I hope,
reassure you. Here is M. le Gouverneur d'Aunis, M. d'Antragues, M.
de Ribeirac, and M. de Livarot, and gentlemen whom your highness
doubtless knows to be as brave as loyal. Here are, besides, M.
de Castillon, M. le Baron de Lusignan, MM. Cruce and Leclerc,
all ready to march under the guidance of your highness, to the
emancipation of religion and the throne. We shall, then, receive
with gratitude the orders that you will give us."

Then M. de Mayenne said: "You are by your birth, and by your
wisdom, monseigneur, the natural chief of the Holy Union, and we
ought to learn from you what our conduct should be with regard
to the false friends of his majesty of whom you just now spoke."

"Nothing more simple," replied the prince, with that feverish
excitement which in weak natures supplies the place of courage
to weak minds; "when venomous plants grow in a field, we root
them up. The king is surrounded, not with friends, but with
courtiers, who ruin him, and cause a perpetual scandal in France
and all Christendom."

"It is true," said the Duc de Guise, in a gloomy tone.

"And," said the cardinal, "these courtiers prevent us, who are
his majesty's true friends, from approaching him as we have the
right to do by our birth and position."

"Let us, then," said M. de Mayenne, "leave the heretics to the
vulgar leaguers; let us think of those who annoy and insult us,
and who often fail in respect to the prince whom we honor, and
who is our chief."

The Duc d'Anjou grew red.

"Let us destroy," continued Mayenne, "to the last man, that cursed
race whom the king enriches, and let each of us charge ourselves
with the life of one. We are thirty here; let us count."

"I," said D'Antragues, "charge myself with Quelus."

"I with Maugiron," said Livarot.

"And I with Schomberg," said Ribeirac.

"Good!" said the duke; "and there is Bussy, my brave Bussy, who
will undertake some of them."

"And us!" cried the rest.

M. de Monsoreau now advanced. "Gentlemen," said he, "I claim
an instant's silence. We are resolute men, and yet we fear to
speak freely to each other; we are intelligent men, and yet we are
deterred by foolish scruples. Come, gentlemen, a little courage,
a little hardihood, a little frankness. It is not of the king's
minions that we think; there does not lie our difficulty. What we
really complain of is the royalty which we are under, and which
is not acceptable to a French nobility; prayers and despotism,
weakness and orgies, prodigality for fetes which make all Europe
laugh, and parsimony for everything that regards the state and the
arts. Such conduct is not weakness or ignorance--it is madness."

A dead silence followed this speech. Everyone trembled at the
words which echoed his own thoughts. M. de Monsoreau went on.

"Must we live under a king, foolish, inert, and lazy, at a time
when all other nations are active, and work gloriously, while
we sleep? Gentlemen, pardon me for saying before a prince, who
will perhaps blame my temerity (for he has the prejudices of
family), that for four years we have been governed, not by a king,
but by a monk."

At these words the explosion so skilfully prepared and as skilfully
kept in check, burst out with violence.

"Down with the Valois!" they cried, "down with Brother Henri!
Let us have for chief a gentleman, a knight, rather a tyrant
than a monk."

"Gentlemen!" cried the Duc d'Anjou, hypocritically, "let me plead
for my brother, who is led away. Let me hope that our wise
remonstrances, that the efficacious intervention of the power
of the League, will bring him back into the right path."

"Hiss, serpent, hiss," said Chicot to himself.

"Monseigneur," replied the Duc de Guise, "your highness has heard,
perhaps rather too soon, but still you have heard, the true meaning
of the association. No! we are not really thinking of a league
against the Bearnais, nor of a league to support the Church,
which will support itself: no, we think of raising the nobility
of France from its abject condition. Too long we have been kept
back by the respect we feel for your highness, by the love which
we know you to have for your family. Now, all is revealed,
monseigneur, and your highness will assist at the true sitting
of the League. All that has passed is but preamble."

"What do you mean, M. le Duc?" asked the prince, his heart beating
at once with alarm and ambition.

"Monseigneur, we are united here, not only to talk, but to act.
To-day we choose a chief capable of honoring and enriching the
nobility of France; and as it was the custom of the ancient Franks
when they chose a chief to give him a present worthy of him, we
offer a present to the chief whom we have chosen."

All hearts beat, and that of the prince most of any; yet he remained
mute and motionless, betraying his emotion only by his paleness.

"Gentlemen," continued the duke, taking something from behind
him, "here is the present that in your name I place at the feet
of the prince."

"A crown!" cried the prince, scarcely able to stand, "a crown
to me, gentlemen?"

"Long live Francois III.!" cried all the gentlemen, drawing their

"I! I!" cried the Duke, trembling with joy and terror. "It is
impossible! My brother still lives; he is the anointed of the

"We depose him," said the duke, "waiting for the time when God
shall sanction, by his death, the election which we are about
to make, or rather, till one of his subjects, tired of this
inglorious reign, forestalls by poison or the dagger the justice
of God."

"Gentlemen!" said the duke, feebly.

"Monseigneur," then said the cardinal, "to the scruple which
you so nobly expressed just now, this is our answer. Henri III.
was the anointed of the Lord, but we have deposed him; it is you
who are going to be so. Here is a temple as venerable as that
of Rheims; for here have reposed the relics of St Genevieve,
patroness of Paris; here has been embalmed the body of Clovis,
our first Christian king; well, monseigneur, in this holy temple,
I, one of the princes of the Church, and who may reasonably hope
to become one day its head, I tell you, monseigneur, that here,
to replace the holy oil, is an oil sent by Pope Gregory XIII.
Monseigneur, name your future archbishop of Rheims, name your
constable, and in an instant, it is you who will be king, and
your brother Henri, if he do not give you up the crown, will
be the usurper. Child, light the altar."

Immediately, the lad, who was evidently waiting, came out, and
presently fifty lights shone round the altar and choir.

Then was seen on the altar a miter glittering with precious stones,
and a large sword ornamented with fleur-de-lis. It was the
archbishop's miter and the constable's sword. At the same moment
the organ began to play the Veni Creator. This sudden stroke,
managed by the three Lorraine princes, and which the Duc d'Anjou
himself did not expect, made a profound impression on the spectators.
The courageous grew bolder than ever, and the weak grew strong.
The Duc d'Anjou raised his head, and with a firmer step than
might have been expected, walked to the altar, took the miter in
the left hand and the sword in the right, presented one to the
cardinal and the other to the duke. Unanimous applause followed
this action.

"Now, gentlemen," said the prince to the others, "give your names
to M. de Mayenne, grand Master of France, and the day when I
ascend the throne, you shall have the cordon bleu."

"Mordieu!" thought Chicot, "what a pity I cannot give mine; I
shall never have such another opportunity."

"Now to the altar, sire," said the cardinal.

"Monsieur de Monsoreau my colonel, MM. de Ribeirac and d'Antragues
my captains, and M. Livarot, my lieutenant of the guards, take
your places."

Each of those named took the posts which, at a real coronation,
etiquette would have assigned to them. Meanwhile, the cardinal
had passed behind the altar to put on his pontifical robes; soon
he reappeared with the holy vial. Then the lad brought to him a
Bible and a cross. The cardinal put the cross on the book and
extended them towards the Duc d'Anjou, who put his hand on them,
and said,--

"In the presence of God, I promise to my people to maintain and
honor our holy religion as a Christian king should. And may God
and His saints aid me!"

Then the Duc de Guise laid the sword before the altar, and the
cardinal blessed it and gave it to the prince.

"Sire," said he, "take this sword, which is given to you with the
blessing of God, that you may resist your enemies, and protect
and defend the holy Church, which is confided to you. Take this
sword that, with it, you may exercise justice, protect the widow
and the orphan, repair disorders, so that, covering yourself
with glory by all the virtues, you will be a blessing to your

Then the prince returned the sword to the Duc de Guise, and knelt
down. The cardinal opened the gold box, and, with the point of a
golden needle, drew out some holy oil; he then said two prayers,
and taking the oil on his finger, traced with it a cross on the
head of the prince, saying, "Ungo dein regem de oleo sanctificato,
in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti."

The lad wiped off the oil with an embroidered handkerchief. Then
the cardinal took the crown, and, holding it over the head of
the prince, said, "God crown thee with the crown of glory and
justice." Then, placing it, "Receive this crown, in the name
of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

All brandished their swords and cried, "Long live Francois III."

"Sire," said the cardinal, "you reign henceforth over France."

"Gentlemen," said the prince, "I shall never forget the names
of the thirty gentlemen who first judged me worthy to reign over
them; and now adieu, and may God have you in His holy keeping."

The Duc de Mayenne led away the new king, while the other two
brothers exchanged an ironical smile.



When the Duc d'Anjou was gone, and had been followed by all the
others, the three Guises entered the vestry. Chicot, thinking
of course this was the end, got up to stretch his limbs, and
then, as it was nearly two o'clock, once more disposed himself
to sleep.

But to his great astonishment, the three brothers almost immediately
came back again, only this time without their frocks. On seeing
them appear, the lad burst into so hearty a fit of laughing,
that Chicot could hardly help laughing also.

"Do not laugh so loud, sister," said the Duc de Mayenne, "they
are hardly gone out, and might hear you."

As he spoke, the seeming lad threw back his hood, and displayed
a head as charming and intelligent as wan ever painted by Leonardo
da Vinci. Black eyes, full of fun, but which could assume an
expression almost terrible in its seriousness, a little rosy
month, and a round chin terminating the perfect oval of a rather
pale face. It was Madame de Montpensier, a dangerous syren, who
had the soul of a demon with the face of an angel.

"Ah, brother cardinal," cried she, "how well you acted the holy
man! I was really afraid for a minute that you were serious;
and he letting himself be greased and crowned. Oh, how horrid
he looked with his crown on!"

"Never mind," said the duke, "we have got what we wanted, and
Francois cannot now deny his share. Monsoreau, who doubtless
had his own reasons for it, led the thing on well, and now he
cannot abandon us, as he did La Mole and Coconnas."

Chicot saw that they had been laughing at M. d'Anjou, and as he
detested him, would willingly have embraced them for it, always
excepting M. de Mayenne, and giving his share to his sister.

"Let us return to business," said the cardinal, "is all well

"Oh, yes!" said the duchess, "but if you like I will go and see."

"Oh, no; you must be tired."

"No; it was too amusing."

"Mayenne, you say he is here?"


"I did not see him."

"No, he is hidden in a confessional."

These words startled Chicot fearfully.

"Then he has heard and seen all?" asked the duke.

"Never mind, he is one of us."

"Bring him here, Mayenne."

Mayenne descended the staircase and came straight to where Chicot
was hiding. He was brave, but now his teeth chattered with terror.
"Ah," thought he, trying to get out his sword from under his
monk's frock, "at least I will kill him first!" The duke had
already extended his hand to open the door, when Chicot heard
the duchess say:

"Not there, Mayenne; in that confessional to the left."

"It was time," thought Chicot, as the duke turned away, "but who
the devil can the other be?"

"Come out, M. David," said Mayenne, "we are alone."

"Here I am, monseigneur," said he, coming out.

"You have heard all?" asked the Duc de Guise.

"I have not lost a word, monseigneur."

"Then you can report it to the envoy of his Holiness Gregory XIII.?"


"Now, Mayenne tells me you have done wonders for us; let us see."

"I have done what I promised, monseigneur; that is to say, found
a method of seating you, without opposition, on the throne of

"They also!" thought Chicot; "everyone wants then to be King of

Chicot was gay now, for he felt safe once more, and he had discovered
a conspiracy by which he hoped to ruin his two enemies.

"To gain a legitimate right is everything," continued Nicolas
David, "and I have discovered that you are the true heirs, and
the Valois only a usurping branch."

"It is difficult to believe," said the duke, "that our house,
however illustrious it may be, comes before the Valois."

"It is nevertheless proved, monseigneur," said David, drawing
out a parchment. The duke took it.

"What is this?" said he.

"The genealogical tree of the house of Lorraine."

"Of which the root is?"

"Charlemagne, monseigneur."

"Charlemagne!" cried the three brothers, with an air of incredulous
satisfaction, "Impossible!"

"Wait, monseigneur; you may be sure I have not raised a point to
which any one may give the lie. What you want is a long lawsuit,
during which you can gain over, not the people, they are yours,
but the parliament. See, then, monseigneur, here it is. Ranier,
first Duc de Lorraine, contemporary with Charlemagne;--Guibert,
his son;--Henri, son of Guibert----"

"But----" said the duke.

"A little patience, monseigneur. Bonne----"

"Yes," said the duke, "daughter of Ricin, second son of Ranier."

"Good; to whom married?"



"To Charles of Lorraine, son of Louis IV., King of France."

"Just so. Now add, 'brother of Lothaire, despoiled of the crown
of France by the usurper, Hugh Capet.'"

"Oh! oh!" said the duke and the cardinal.

"Now, Charles of Lorraine inherited from his brother Lothaire.
Now, the race of Lothaire is extinct, therefore you are the only
true heirs of the throne."

"What do you say to that, brother?" cried the cardinal.

"I say, that unluckily there exists in France a law they call
the Salic law, which destroys all our pretensions."

"I expected that objection, monseigneur," said David, but what
is the first example of the Salic law?"

"The accession of Philippe de Valois, to the prejudice of Edward
of England."

"What was the date of that accession?"

"1328," said the cardinal.

"That is to say, 341 years after the usurpation of Hugh Capet,
240 years after the extinction of the race of Lothaire. Then, for
240 years your ancestors had already had a right to the throne
before the Salic law was invented. Now, everyone knows that
the law cannot have any retrospective effect."

"You are a clever man, M. David," said the Duc de Guise.

"It is very ingenious," said the cardinal.

"It is very fine," said Mayenne.

"It is admirable," said the duchess; "then I am a princess royal.
I will have no one less than the Emperor of Germany for a husband."

"Well; here are your 200 gold crowns which I promised you."

"And here are 200 others," said the cardinal, "for the new mission
with which we are about to charge you."

"Speak, monseigneur, I am ready."

"We cannot commission you to carry this genealogy yourself to
our holy Father, Gregory XIII."

"Alas! no; my will is good, but I am of too poor birth."

"Yes, it is a misfortune. We must therefore send Pierre de Gondy
on this mission."

"Permit me to speak," said the duchess. "The Gondys are clever,
no doubt, but ambitious, and not to be trusted."

"Oh! reassure yourself. Gondy shall take this, but mixed with
other papers, and not knowing what he carries. The Pope will
approve, or disapprove, silently, and Gondy will bring us back
the answer, still in ignorance of what he brings. You, Nicolas
David, shall wait for him at Chalons, Lyons, or Avignon, according
to your instructions. Thus you alone will know our true secret."

Then the three brothers shook hands, embraced their sister, put
on again their monk's robes, and disappeared. Behind them the
porter drew the bolts, and then came in and extinguished the
lights, and Chicot heard his retreating steps fainter and fainter,
and all was silent.

"It seems now all is really over," thought Chicot, and he came
out of the confessional. He had noticed in a corner a ladder
destined to clean the windows. He felt about until he found it,
for it was close to him, and by the light of the moon placed it
against the window. He easily opened it, and striding across it
and drawing the ladder to him with that force and address which
either fear or joy always gives, he drew it from the inside to
the outside. When he had descended, he hid the ladder in a hedge,
which was planted at the bottom of the wall, jumped from tomb to
tomb, until he reached the outside wall over which he clambered.
Once in the street he breathed more freely; he had escaped with
a few scratches from the place where he had several times felt
his life in danger. He went straight to the Corne d'Abondance,
at which he knocked. It was opened by Claude Boutromet himself,
who knew him at once, although he went out dressed as a cavalier,
and returned attired as a monk.

"Ah! is it you?" cried he.

Chicot gave him a crown, and asked for Gorenflot.

The host smiled, and said, "Look!"

Brother Gorenflot lay snoring just in the place where Chicot had
left him.



The next morning, about the time when Gorenflot woke from his nap,
warmly rolled in his frock, our reader, if he had been traveling
on the road from Paris to Angers, might have seen a gentleman
and his page, riding quietly side by side. These cavaliers had
arrived at Chartres the evening before, with foaming horses, one
of which had fallen with fatigue, as they stopped. They entered
the inn, and half an hour after set out on fresh horses. Once in
the country, still bare and cold, the taller of the two approached
the other, and said, as he opened his arms: "Dear little wife,
embrace me, for now we are safe."

Then Madame de St. Luc, leaning forward and opening her thick
cloak, placed her arms round the young man's neck and gave him
the long and tender kiss which he had asked for. They stayed
the night in the little village of Courville four leagues only
from Chartres, but which from its isolation seemed to them a
secure retreat; and it was on the following morning that they
were, as we said, pursuing their way. This day, as they were
more easy in their minds, they traveled no longer like fugitives,
but like schoolboys seeking for moss, for the first few early
flowers, enjoying the sunshine and amused at everything."

"Morbleu!" cried St. Luc, at last, "how delightful it is to be
free. Have you ever been free, Jeanne?"

"I?" cried she, laughing, "never; it is the first time I ever
felt so. My father was suspicious, and my mother lazy. I never
went out without a governess and two lackeys, so that I do not
remember having run on the grass, since, when a laughing child,
I ran in the woods of Meridor with my dear Diana, challenging
her to race, and rushing through the branches. But you, dear
St. Luc; you were free, at least?"

"I, free?"

"Doubtless, a man."

"Never. Brought up with the Duc d'Anjou, taken by him to Poland,
brought back to Paris, condemned never to leave him by the perpetual
rule of etiquette; pursued, if I tried to go away, by that doleful
voice, crying, 'St. Luc, my friend, I am ennuye, come and amuse
me.' Free, with that stiff corset which strangled me, and that
great ruff which scratched my neck! No, I have never been free
till now, and I enjoy it."

"If they should catch us, and send us to the Bastile?"

"If they only put us there together, we can bear it."

"I do not think they would. But there is no fear, if you only knew
Meridor, its great oaks, and its endless thickets, its rivers,
its lakes, its flower-beds and lawns; and, then, in the midst of
all, the queen of this kingdom, the beautiful, the good Diana.
And I know she loves me still; she is not capricious in her
friendships. Think of the happy life we shall lead there."

"Let us push on; I am in haste to get there," and they rode on,
stayed the night at Mans, and then set off for Meridor. They
had already reached the woods and thought themselves in safety,
when they saw behind them a cavalier advancing at a rapid pace.
St. Luc grew pale.

"Let us fly," said Jeanne.

"Yes; let us fly, for there is a plume on that hat which disquiets
me; it is of a color much in vogue at the court, and he looks
to me like an ambassador from our royal master."

But to fly was easier to say than to do; the trees grew so thickly
that it was impossible to ride through them but slowly, and the
soil was so sandy that the horses sank into it at every step.
The cavalier gained upon them rapidly, and soon they heard his
voice crying,--

"Eh, monsieur, do not run away; I bring you something you have

"What does he say?" asked Jeanne.

"He says we have lost something."

"Eh! monsieur," cried the unknown, again, "you left a bracelet
in the hotel at Courville. Diable! a lady's portrait; above all,
that of Madame de Cosse. For the sake of that dear mamma, do
not run away."

"I know that voice," said St. Luc.

"And then he speaks of my mother."

"It is Bussy!"

"The Comte de Bussy, our friend," and they reined up their horses.

"Good morning, madame," said Bussy, laughing, and giving her the

"Have you come from the king to arrest us?"

"No, ma foi, I am not sufficiently his majesty's friend for such
a mission. No, I found your bracelet at the hotel, which showed
me that you preceded me on my way."

"Then," said St. Luc, "it is chance which brings you on our path."

"Chance, or rather Providence."

Every remaining shadow of suspicion vanished before the sincere
smile and bright eyes of the handsome speaker.

"Then you are traveling?" asked Jeanne.

"I am."

"But not like us?"

"Unhappily; no."

"I mean in disgrace. Where are you going?"

"Towards Angers, and you?"

"We also."

"Ah! I should envy your happiness if envy were not so vile."

"Eh! M. de Bussy, marry, and you will be as happy as we are,"
said Jeanne; "it is so easy to be happy when you are loved."

"Ah! madame, everyone is not so fortunate as you."

"But you, the universal favorite."

"To be loved by everyone is as though you were loved by no one,

"Well, let me marry you, and you will know the happiness you deny."

"I do not deny the happiness, only that it does not exist for me."

"Shall I marry you?"

"If you marry me according to your taste, no; if according to
mine, yes."

"Are you in love with a woman whom you cannot marry?"

"Comte," said Bussy, "beg your wife not to plunge dagger in my

"Take care, Bussy; you will make me think it is with her you are
in love."

"If it were so, you will confess, at least, that I am a lover
not much to be feared."

"True," said St. Luc, remembering how Bussy had brought him his
wife. "But confess, your heart is occupied."

"I avow it."

"By a love, or by a caprice?" asked Jeanne.

"By a passion, madame."

"I will cure you."

"I do not believe it."

"I will marry you."

"I doubt it."

"And I will make you as happy as you ought to be."

"Alas! madame, my only happiness now is to be unhappy."

"I am very determined."

"And I also."

"Well, will you accompany us?"

"Where are you going?"

"To the chateau of Meridor."

The blood mounted to the cheeks of Bussy, and then he grew so
pale, that his secret would certainly have been betrayed, had not
Jeanne been looking at her husband with a smile. Bussy therefore
had time to recover himself, and said,--

"Where is that?"

"It is the property of one of my best friends."

"One of your best friends, and--are they at home?"

"Doubtless," said Jeanne, who was completely ignorant of the
events of the last two months; "but have you never heard of the
Baron de Meridor, one of the richest noblemen in France, and

"Of what?"

"Of his daughter, Diana, the most beautiful girl possible?"

Bussy was filled with astonishment, asking himself by what singular
happiness he found on the road people to talk to him of Diana de
Meridor to echo the only thought which he had in his mind.

"Is this castle far off, madame?" asked he.

"About seven leagues, and we shall sleep there to-night; you will
come, will you not?"

"Yes, madame."

"Come, that is already a step towards the happiness I promised

"And the baron, what sort of a man is he?"

"A perfect gentleman, a preux chevalier, who, had he lived in
King Arthur's time, would have had a place at his round table."

"And," said Bussy, steadying his voice, "to whom is his daughter

"Diana married?"

"Would that be extraordinary?"

"Of course not, only I should have been the first to hear of it."

Bussy could not repress a sigh. "Then," said he, "you expect
to find Mademoiselle de Meridor at the chateau with her father?"

"We trust so."

They rode on a long time in silence, and at last Jeanne cried:

"Ah! there are the turrets of the castle. Look, M. de Bussy,
through that great leafless wood, which in a month, will be so
beautiful; do you not see the roof?"

"Yes," said Bussy, with an emotion which astonished himself; "and
is that the chateau of Meridor?"

And he thought of the poor prisoner shut up in the Rue St. Antoine.



Two hours after they reached the castle. Bussy had been debating
within himself whether or not to confide to his friends what
he knew about Diana. But there was much that he could tell to
no one, and he feared their questions, and besides, he wished
to enter Meridor as a stranger.

Madame de St. Luc was surprised, when the report sounded his
horn to announce a visit, that Diana did not run as usual to meet
them, but instead of her appeared an old man, bent and leaning
on a stick, and his white hair flying in the wind. He crossed
the drawbridge, followed by two great dogs, and when he drew
quite near, said in a feeble voice,--

"Who is there, and who does a poor old man the honor to visit

"It is I, Seigneur Augustin!" cried the laughing voice of the
young woman.

But the baron, raising his head slowly, said, "You? I do not see.
Who is it?"

"Oh, mon Dieu!" cried Jeanne, "do you not know me? It is true,
my disguise----"

"Excuse me," said the old man, "but I can see little; the eyes
of old men are not made for weeping, and if they weep too much,
the tears burn them."

"Must I tell you my name? I am Madame de St. Luc."

"I do not know you."

"Ah! but my maiden name was Jeanne de Cosse-Brissac."

"Ah, mon Dieu!" cried the old man, trying to open the gate with
his trembling hands. Jeanne, who did not understand this strange
reception, still attributed it only to his declining faculties;
but, seeing that he remembered her, jumped off her horse to embrace
him, but as she did so she felt his cheek wet with tears.

"Come," said the old man, turning towards the house, without
even noticing the others. The chateau had a strange sad look;
all the blinds were down, and no one was visible.

"Is Diana unfortunately not at home?" asked Jeanne. The old man
stopped, and looked at her with an almost terrified expression.
"Diana!" said he. At this name the two dogs uttered a mournful
howl. "Diana!" repeated the old man; "do you not, then, know?"

And his voice, trembling before, was extinguished in a sob.

"But what has happened?" cried Jeanne, clasping her hands.

"Diana is dead!" cried the old man, with a torrent of tears.

"Dead!" cried Jeanne, growing as pale as death.

"Dead," thought Bussy; "then he has let him also think her dead.
Poor old man! how he will bless me some day!"

"Dead!" cried the old man again; "they killed her."

"Ah, my dear baron!" cried Jeanne, bursting into tears, and throwing
her arms round the old man's neck.

"But," said he at last, "though desolate and empty, the old house
is none the less hospitable. Enter."

Jeanne took the old man's arm, and they went into the dining-hall,
where he sunk into his armchair. At last, he said, "You said
you were married; which is your husband?"

M. de St. Luc advanced and bowed to the old man, who tried to
smile as he saluted him; then, turning to Bussy, said, "And this

"He is our friend, M. Louis de Clermont, Comte de Bussy d'Amboise,
gentleman of M. le Duc d'Anjou."

At these words the old man started up, threw a withering glance
at Bussy, and then sank back with a groan.

"What is it?" said Jeanne.

"Does the baron know you, M. de Bussy?" asked St. Luc.

"It is the first time I ever had the honor of seeing M. de Meridor,"
said Bussy, who alone understood the effect which the name of the
Duc d'Anjou had produced on the old man.

"Ah! you a gentleman of the Duc d'Anjou!" cried the baron, "of
that monster, that demon, and you dare to avow it, and have the
audacity to present yourself here!"

"Is he mad?" asked St. Luc of his wife.

"Grief must have turned his brain," replied she, in terror.

"Yes, that monster!" cried he again; "the assassin who killed
my child! Ah, you do not know," continued he, taking Jeanne's
hands; "but the duke killed my Diana, my child--he killed her!"

Tears stood in Bussy's eyes, and Jeanne said:

"Seigneur, were it so, which I do not understand, you cannot
accuse M. de Bussy of this dreadful crime--he, who is the most
noble and generous gentleman living. See, my good father, he weeps
with us. Would he have come had he known how you would receive
him? Ah, dear baron, tell us how this catastrophe happened."

"Then you did not know?" said the old man to Bussy.

"Eh, mon Dieu! no," cried Jeanne, "we none of us knew."

"My Diana is dead, and her best friend did not know it! Oh, it
is true! I wrote to no one; it seemed to me that everything must
die with her. Well, this prince, this disgrace to France, saw
my Diana, and, finding her so beautiful, had her carried away
to his castle of Beauge to dishonor her. But Diana, my noble
and sainted Diana, chose death instead. She threw herself from
the window into the lake, and they found nothing but her veil
floating on the surface." And the old man finished with a burst
of sobs which overwhelmed them all.

"Oh, comte," cried St. Luc, "you must abandon this infamous prince;
a noble heart like yours cannot remain friendly to a ravisher
and an assassin!"

But Bussy instead of replying to this, advanced to M. de Meridor.

"M. le Baron," said he, "will you grant me the honor of a private

"Listen to M. de Bussy, dear seigneur," said Jeanne; "you will
see that he is good and may help you."

"Speak, monsieur," said the baron, trembling.

Bussy turned to St. Luc and his wife, and said:

"Will you permit me?"

The young couple went out, and then Bussy said: "M. le Baron,
you have accused the prince whom I serve in terms which force
me to ask for an explanation. Do not mistake the sense in which
I speak; it is with the most profound sympathy, and the most
earnest desire to soften your griefs, that I beg of you to recount
to me the details of this dreadful event. Are you sure all hope
is lost?"

"Monsieur, I had once a moment's hope. A noble gentleman, M. de
Monsoreau, loved my poor daughter, and interested himself for

"M. de Monsoreau! Well, what was his conduct in all this!"

"Ah, generous; for Diana had refused his hand. He was the first
to tell me of the infamous projects of the duke; he showed me
how to baffle them, only asking, if he succeeded, for her hand.
I gave my consent with joy; but alas! it was useless--he arrived
too late--my poor Diana had saved herself by death!"

"And since then, what have you heard of him?"

"It is a month ago, and the poor gentleman has not dared to appear
before me, having failed in his generous design."

"Well, monsieur," said Bussy, "I am charged by the Duc d'Anjou
to bring you to Paris, where his highness desires to speak to

"I!" cried the baron, "I see this man! And what can the murderer
have to say to me?"

"Who knows? To justify himself perhaps."

"No, M. de Bussy, no, I will not go to Paris; it would be too
far away from where my child lies in her cold bed."

"M. le Baron," said Bussy firmly, "I have come expressly to take
you to Paris, and it is my duty to do so."

"Well, I will go," cried the old man, trembling with anger;
"but woe to those who bring me. The king will hear me, or, if
he will not, I will appeal to all the gentlemen of France. Yes,
M. de Bussy, I will accompany you."

"And I, M. le Baron," said Bussy, taking his hand, "recommend to
you the patience and calm dignity of a Christian nobleman. God
is merciful to noble hearts, and you know not what He reserves
for you. I beg you also, while waiting for that day, not to count
me among your enemies, for you do not know what I will do for
you. Till to-morrow, then, baron, and early in the morning we
will set off."

"I consent," replied the old baron, moved by Bussy's tone and
words; "but meanwhile, friend or enemy, you are my guest, and
I will show you to your room."



M. and Madame de St. Luc could hardly recover from their surprise.
Bussy, holding secret interviews with M. de Meridor, and then
setting off with him for Paris, appearing to take the lead in
a matter which at first seemed strange and unknown to him, was
to the young people an inexplicable phenomenon. In the morning
the baron took leave of his guests, begging them to remain in
the castle. Before Bussy left, however, he whispered a few words
to Madame de St. Luc, which brought the color to her cheeks,
and smiles to her eyes.

It was a long way from Meridor to Paris, especially for the old
baron, covered with wounds from all his battles, and for his old
horse, whom he called Jarnac. Bussy studied earnestly during
the journey to find his way to the heart of the old man by his
care and attentions, and without doubt he succeeded, for on the
sixth morning, as they arrived at Paris, M. de Meridor said:

"It is singular, count, but I feel less unquiet at the end than
at the beginning of my journey."

"Two hours more, M. le Baron, and you shall have judged me as
I deserve."

"Where are we going--to the Louvre?"

"Let me first take you to my hotel, that you may refresh yourself
a little, and be fit to see the person to whom I am leading you."

The count's people had been very much alarmed at his long absence,
for he had set off without telling any one but Remy. Thus their
delight on seeing him again was great, and they all crowded round
him with joyous exclamations. He thanked them, and then said,
"Now assist this gentleman to dismount, and remember that I look
upon him with more respect than a prince."

When M. de Meridor had been shown to his room, and had had some
refreshment, he asked if they should set out.

"Soon, baron; and be easy--it will be a happiness for you as well
as for us."

"You speak in a language which I do not understand."

Bussy smiled, and left the room to seek Remy.

"Well! dear Hippocrates!" said he, "is there anything new?"

"Nothing; all goes well."

"Then the husband has not returned?"

"Yes, he has, but without success. It seems there is a father
who is expected to turn up to make the denouement."

"Good," said Bussy, "but how do you know all this?"

"Why, monseigneur, as your absence made my position a sinecure,
I thought I would try to make some little use of my time; so
I took some books and a sword to a little room which I hired
at the corner of the Rue St. Antoine, from whence I could see
the house that you know."

"Very good."

"But as I feared, if I were constantly watching, to pass for a
spy, I thought it better to fall in love."

"In love?"

"Oh yes, desperately with Gertrude; she is a fine girl, only two
inches taller than myself, and who recounts, capitally."


"Yes; through her I know all that passes with her mistress. I
thought you might not dislike to have communications with the

"Remy, you are a good genius, whom chance, or rather Providence,
has placed in my way. Then you are received in the house?"

"Last night I made my entrance on the points of my toes, by the
door you know."

"And how did you manage it?"

"Quite naturally. The day after you left, I waited at my door
till the lady of my thoughts came out to buy provisions, which
she does every morning. She recognized me, uttered a cry, and
ran away."


"Then I ran after her, but could hardly catch her, for she runs
fast; but still, petticoats are always a little in the way. 'Mon
Dieu!' cried she. 'Holy Virgin!' said I. 'The doctor!' 'The charming
housekeeper.' She smiled, but said, 'You are mistaken, monsieur,
I do not know you.' 'But I know you,' I replied, 'and for the
last three days I have lived but for you, and I adore you so
much, that I no longer live in the Rue Beautreillis, but at the
corner of this street, and I changed my lodging only to see you
pass in and out.'"

"So that now you are----"

"As happy as a lover can be--with Gertrude."

"Does she suspect you come from me?"

"Oh no, how should the poor doctor know a great lord like M. de
Bussy. No, I said, 'And how is your young master?' 'What young
master?' 'The one I cured.' 'He is not my master.' 'Oh! I thought,
as he was in your mistress's bed----' 'Oh! no, poor young man!
we have only seen him once since.' 'Do you know his name?' 'Oh!
yes; he is the Seigneur de Bussy.' 'What! the brave Bussy?' 'Yes
himself.' 'And your mistress?' 'Oh! she is married!' 'Yes, but
still she may think sometimes of a handsome young man when she
has seen him lying wounded in her bed.' 'Oh, to be frank, I do
not say she does not think of him; we talk of him very often.'
'What do you say about him?' I asked. 'I recount all I hear about
his prowess, and I have even taught her a little song about him,
which she sings constantly.'" Bussy pressed the young man's
hand; he felt supremely happy.



On descending into the court, M. de Meridor found a fresh horse,
which Bussy had had prepared for him; another waited for Bussy,
and attended by Remy, they started. As they went along, the baron
could not but ask himself by what strange confidence he had
accompanied, almost blindly, the friend of the prince to whom
he owed all his misfortunes. Would it not have been better to
have braved the Duc d'Anjou, and instead of following Bussy where
it pleased him to lead, to have gone at once to the Louvre, and
thrown himself at the feet of the king? What could the prince
say to him? How could he console him? Could soft words heal his

When they stopped, "What," said the baron, "does the Duc d'Anjou
live in this humble house?"

"Not exactly, monsieur, but if it is not his dwelling, it is that
of a lady whom he has loved."

A cloud passed over the face of the old gentleman. "Monsieur,"
said he, "we provincials are not used to the easy manners of
Paris; they annoy us. It seems to me that if the Duc d'Anjou
wishes to see the Baron de Meridor, it ought to be at his palace,
and not at the house of one of his mistresses."

"Come, come, baron!" said Bussy, with his smile, which always
carried conviction with it, "do not hazard false conjectures. On
my honor, the lady who you are going to see is perfectly virtuous
and worthy in all respects."

"Who is she then?"

"She is the wife of a friend of yours."

"Really! but then, monsieur, why did you say the duke loved her?"

"Because I always speak truth. But enter, and you shall see
accomplished all I have promised you."

"Take care; I wept for my child, and you said, 'Console yourself,
monsieur, the mercy of God is great;' to promise me a consolation
to my grief was almost to promise me a miracle."

"Enter, monsieur," said Bussy, with his bright smile. Bussy went
in first, and, running up to Gertrude, said, "Go and tell Madame
de Monsoreau that M. de Bussy is here, and desires to speak to
her. But," continued he, in a low voice, "not a word of the
person who accompanies me."

"Madame de Monsoreau!" said the old man in astonishment. But
as he feebly mounted the staircase, he heard the voice of Diana

"M. de Bussy. Gertrude? Oh! let him come in!"

"That voice!" cried the baron, stopping. "Oh! mon Dieu! mon Dieu!"

At that moment, as the baron tremblingly held on to the banister,
and looked around him, he saw at the top of the staircase, Diana,
smiling, and more beautiful that ever. At this sight the old man
uttered a cry and would have fallen, had he not caught hold of
Bussy, who stood by him.

"Diana alive! Diana, oh, my God!"

"Mon Dieu! M. de Bussy!" cried Diana, running down, "what is the
matter with my father?"

"He thought you dead, madame, and he wept, as a father must weep
for a daughter like you."

"How!" cried Diana; "and no one undeceived him?"

"No one."

"No," cried the old man, recovering a little, "no one, not even
M. de Bussy."

"Ungrateful," said Bussy.

"Oh! yes! you are right; for this moment repays me for all my
griefs. Oh! my Diana! my beloved Diana!" cried he, drawing his
daughter to him with one hand, and extending the other to Bussy.
But all at once he cried, "But you said I was to see Madame de
Monsoreau. Where is she?"

"Alas! my father!" cried Diana.

Bussy summoned up all his strength. "M. de Monsoreau is your
son-in-law," he said.

"What! my son-in-law! and every one--even you, Diana--left me
in ignorance."

"I feared to write, my father; he said my letters would fall
into the hands of the prince. Besides, I thought you knew all."

"But why all these strange mysteries?"

"Ah, yes, my father; why did M. de Monsoreau let you think me
dead, and not let you know I was his wife?"

The baron, overwhelmed, looked from Bussy to Diana.

"M. de Monsoreau my son-in-law!" stammered he.

"That cannot astonish you, father; did you not order me to marry

"Yes, if he saved you."

"Well! he did save me," said Diana, sinking on to a chair, "not
from misfortune, but from shame."

"Then why did he let me think you dead? I, who wept for you so
bitterly. Why did he let me die of despair, when a single word
would have restored me?"

"Oh! there is some hidden mystery," cried Diana; "my father,
you will not leave me again; M. de Bussy, you will protect us."

"Alas! madame! it belongs to me no more to enter into your family
secrets. Seeing the strange maneuvers of your husband, I wished
to bring you a defender; you have your father, I retire."

"He is right," said the old man, sadly.

"M. de Monsoreau feared the Duc d'Anjou, and so does M. de Bussy."

Diana cast a glance at the young man. He smiled and said, "M.
le Baron, excuse, I beg, the singular question I am about to
ask; and you also, madame, for I wish to serve you. M. le Baron,
ask Madame de Monsoreau if she be happy in the marriage which
she has contracted in obedience to your orders."

Diana burst into tears for her only answer. The eyes of the baron
filled also, for he began to fear that his friendship for M. de
Monsoreau had tended to make his daughter unhappy.

"Now!" said Bussy, "is it true that you voluntarily promised him
your daughter's hand?"

"Yes, if he saved her."

"And he did save her. Then, monsieur, I need not ask if you mean
to keep your promise."

"It is a law for all, and above all for gentlemen; you know that,
M. de Bussy. My daughter must be his."

"Ah!" cried Diana, "would I were dead!"

"Madame," said Bussy, "you see I was right, and that I can do
no more here. M. le Baron gives you to M. de Monsoreau, and you
yourself promised to marry him when you should see your father
again safe and well."

"Ah! you tear my heart, M. de Bussy," cried Diana, approaching
the young man; "my father does not know that I fear this man,
that I hate him; my father sees in him only my saviour, and I
think him my murderer."

"Diana! Diana!" cried the baron, "he saved you."

"Yes," cried Bussy, "but if the danger were less great than you
thought; what do we know? There is some mystery in all this,
which I must clear up. But I protest to you, that if I had had
the happiness to be in the place of M. de Monsoreau, I would
have saved your young and beautiful daughter without exacting
a price for it."

"He loved her," said M. de Meridor, trying to excuse him.

"And I, then----" cried Bussy; and, although he stopped, frightened
at what he was about to say, Diana heard and understood.

"Well!" cried she, reddening, "my brother, my friend, can you
do nothing for me?"

"But the Duc d'Anjou," said the baron.

"I am not aware of those who fear the anger of princes," said
Bussy; "and, besides, I believe the danger lies not with him,
but with M. de Monsoreau."

"But if the duke learns that Diana is alive, all is lost."

"I see," said Bussy, "you believe M. de Monsoreau more than me.
Say no more; you refuse my aid; throw yourself, then, into the
arms of the man who has already so well merited your confidence.
Adieu, baron; adieu, madame, you will see me no more."

"Oh!" cried Diana, taking his hand. "Have you seen me waver for
an instant; have you ever seen me soften towards him? No. I beg
you, on my knees, M. de Bussy, not to abandon me."

Bussy seized her hands, and all his anger melted away like snow
before the sun.

"Then so be it, madame," said he; "I accept the mission, and
in three days--for I must have time to go to Chartres to the
prince--you shall see me again." Then, in a low tone to her, he
said, "We are allied against this Monsoreau; remember that it
was not he who brought you back to your father, and be faithful
to me."



Chicot, after seeing with pleasure that Gorenflot still slept
soundly, told M. Boutromet to retire and to take the light with
him, charging him not to say anything of his absence. Now M.
Boutromet, having remarked that, in all transactions between the
monk and Chicot, it was the latter who paid, had a great deal of
consideration for him, and promised all he wished. Then, by the
light of the fire which still smouldered, he wrapped Gorenflot
once more in his frock, which he accomplished without eliciting
any other signs of wakefulness than a few grunts, and afterwards
making a pillow of the table-cloth and napkins, lay down to sleep
by his side. Daylight, when it came, succeeded in at last awakening
Gorenflot, who sat up, and began to look about him, at the remains
of their last night's repast, and at Chicot, who, although also
awake, lay pretending to snore, while, in reality, he watched.

"Broad daylight!" said the monk. "Corbleu, I must have passed
the night here. And the abbey! Oh, dear! How happy he is to sleep
thus!" cried he, looking at Chicot. "Ah! he is not in my position,"
and he sighed. "Shall I wake him to ask for advice? No, no, he
will laugh at me; I can surely invent a falsehood without him.
But whatever I invent, it will be hard to escape punishment. It
is not so much the imprisonment, it is the bread and water I
mind. Ah! if! had but some money to bribe the brother jailer."

Chicot, hearing this, adroitly slipped his purse from his pocket
and put it under him. This precaution was not useless, for Gorenflot,
who had been looking about him, now approached his friend softly,
and murmuring:

"Were he awake, he would not refuse me a crown, but his sleep
is sacred, and I will take it," advanced, and began feeling his
pockets. "It is singular," said he, "nothing in his pockets.
Ah! in his hat, perhaps."

While he searched there Chicot adroitly emptied out his money,
and stuffed the empty purse into his breeches pocket.

"Nothing in the hat," said the monk. "Ah! I forgot," and thrusting
in his hand, he drew from the pocket the empty purse. "Mon Dieu,"
cried he, "empty! and who will pay the bill?"

This thought terrified him so much that he got up and made instantly
for the door, through which he quickly disappeared. As he approached
the convent, his fears grew strong, and seeing a concourse of
monks standing talking on the threshold, he felt inclined to
fly. But some of them approached to meet him; he knew flight
was hopeless, and resigned himself. The monks seemed at first
to hesitate to speak to him, but at last one said:

"Poor dear brother!"

Gorenflot sighed, and raised his eyes to Heaven.

"You know the prior waits for you?"

"Ah! mon Dieu!"

"Oh! yes; he ordered that you should be brought to him as soon
as you came in."

"I feared it," said Gorenflot. And more dead than alive, he entered
the convent, whose doors closed on him. They led him to the prior.
Gorenflot did not dare to raise his eyes, finding himself alone
with his justly irritated superior.

"Ah! it is you at last," said the abbe.

"Reverend sir----"

"What anxiety you have given me."

"You are too good, my father," said Gorenflot, astonished at this
indulgent tone.

"You feared to come in after the scene of last night?"

"I confess it."

"Ah, dear brother, you have been very imprudent."

"Let me explain, father."

"There is no need of explanations; your sally----"

"Oh! so much the better," thought Gorenflot.

"I understand it perfectly. A moment of enthusiasm carried you
away; enthusiasm is a holy virtue, but virtues, exaggerated become
almost vices, and the most honorable sentiments, when carried
to excess, are reprehensible."

"Pardon, my father," said Gorenflot, timidly, "but I do not
understand. Of what sally do you speak?"

"Of yours last night."

"Out of the convent?"

"No; in it. I am as good a Catholic as you, but your audacity
frightened me."

Gorenflot was puzzled. "Was I audacious?" asked he.

"More than that--rash."

"Alas! you must pardon me, my father. I will endeavor to correct

"Yes; but meanwhile, I fear the consequences for you and for all
of us. Had it passed among ourselves, it would have been nothing."

"How, is it known to others?"

"Doubtless; you know well there were more than a hundred laymen
listening to your discourse."

"My discourse!" said Gorenflot, more and more astonished.

"I allow it was fine, and that the universal applause must have
carried you on, but to propose to make a procession through the
streets of Paris, with a helmet on your head and a partisan on
your shoulder, appealing to all good Catholics, was rather too
strong, you will allow." Gorenflot looked bewildered.

"Now," continued the prior, "this religious fervor, which burns
so strongly in your heart, will injure you in Paris. I wish you
therefore to go and expend it in the provinces."

"An exile!" cried Gorenflot.

"If you remain here, much worse may happen to you, my dear brother."


"Perpetual imprisonment, or even death."

Gorenflot grew frightfully pale; he could not understand how he
had incurred all this by getting tipsy in an inn, and passing
the night out of the convent.

"By submitting to this temporary exile, my dear brother, not
only will you escape this danger, but you will plant the banner
of our faith in the provinces, where such words are less dangerous
than here, under the eyes of the king. Set off at once, then,
brother; perhaps the archers are already out to arrest you."

"The archers, I!" said Gorenflot.

"I advise you to go at once."

"It is easy to say 'go,' but how am I to live?"

"Oh! nothing more easy. You will find plenty of partisans who
will let you want for nothing. But go, in Heaven's name, and
do not come back till you are sent for." And the prior, after
embracing him, pushed him to the door. There he found all the
community waiting for him, to touch his hands or his robe.

"Adieu!" said one, embracing him, "you are a holy man; do not
forget me in your prayers."

"I, a holy man!" thought Gorenflot.

"Adieu, brave champion of the faith," said another.

"Adieu, martyr," said a third, "the light will soon come."

Thus was he conducted to the outside of the convent, and as he
went away he exclaimed, "Devil take me, but either they are all
mad, or I am."



Until the day when this unmerited persecution fell on Brother
Gorenflot, he had led a contemplative and easy life, diverting
himself on occasions at the Corne d'Abondance, when he had gained
a little money from the faithful. He was one of those monks for
whom the world began at the prior of the convent, and finished
at the cook. And now he was sent forth to seek for adventures.
He had no money; so that when out of Paris and he heard eleven
o'clock (the time for dinner at the convent) strike, he sat down
in dejection. His first idea was to return to the convent, and
ask to be put in confinement, instead of being sent in to exile,
and even to submit to the discipline, provided they would insure
him his repasts. His next was more reasonable. He would go to the
Corne d'Abondance, send for Chicot, explain to him the lamentable
situation into which he had helped to bring him, and obtain aid
from this generous friend. He was sitting absorbed in these
reflections, when he heard the sound of a horse's feet approaching.
In great fear, he hid behind a tree until the traveler should
have passed; but a new idea struck him. He would endeavor to
obtain some money for his dinner. So he approached tremblingly,
and said, "Monsieur, if five patera, and five aves for the success
of your projects would be agreeable to you----"

"Gorenflot!" cried the cavalier.

"M. Chicot!"

"Where the devil are you going?"

"I do not know. And you?"

"Oh! I am going straight before me."

"Very far?"

"Till I stop. But you--what are you doing outside the barriers?"

"Alas! M. Chicot! I am proscribed," said Gorenflot, with an enormous


"Proscribed, I tell you. My brothers reject me from their bosom:
I am anathematized, excommunicated."

"Bah! what for?"

"Listen, M. Chicot; you will not believe me, perhaps, but I do
not know."

"Perhaps you were met last night gadding about."

"Do not joke; you know quite well what I was doing last night."

"Yes, from eight till ten, but not from ten till three."

"How, from ten till three?"

"Yes, at ten you went out."


"Yes, and I asked you where you were going."

"And what did I say?"

"That you were going to pronounce a discourse."

"There was some truth in that," murmured Gorenflot.

"Yes, and you even told me part of it; it was very long, and there
were terrible things against the king in it."


"So terrible, that I should not wonder if you were arrested for

"M. Chicot, you open my eyes; did I seem quite awake when I spoke?"

"I must say you seemed very strange; you looked like a man who
talks in his sleep."

"Yet, I feel sure I awoke this morning at the Corne d'Abondance."

"Well, of course; you came in again at three o'clock. I know;
you left the door open, and made me cold."

"It is true, then?"

"True! ask M. Boutromet."

"M. Boutromet?"

"Yes, he opened to you on your return. And you were so full of
pride when you came in, that I said to you,--'Fie, compere; pride
does not become mortals, more especially monks.'"

"And of what was I proud?"

"Of the success your discourse had met with, and the compliments
paid to you by the Duc de Guise and M. de Mayenne."

"Now I understand all."

"That is lucky. Then you confess you went to the assembly; what
did you call it? Oh! the Holy Union."

Gorenflot groaned. "I am a somnambulist," he said.

"What does that mean?"

"It means, that with me mind is stronger than matter; so that
while the body sleeps, the spirit wakes, and sometimes is so
powerful that it forces the body to obey."

"Ah! compere, that sounds much like magic; if you are possessed,
tell me so frankly; for, really a man who walks and makes discourses
in his sleep in which he attacks the king is not natural. Vade
retro, Satanas!"

"Then," cried Gorenflot, "you abandon me also. Ah! I could not
have believed that of you."

Chicot took pity on him. "What did you tell me just now?" said he.

"I do not know; I feel half mad, and my stomach is empty."

"You spoke of traveling."

"Yes, the holy prior sends me."

"Where to?"

"Wherever I like."

"I also am traveling, and will take you with me."

Gorenflot looked bewildered.

"Well! do you accept?" continued Chicot.

"Accept! I should think so. But have you money to travel with?"

"Look," said Chicot, drawing out his purse.

Gorenflot jumped for joy.

"How much?" said he.

"One hundred and fifty pistoles."

"And where are we going?"

"You shall see."

"When shall we breakfast?"


"What shall I ride?"

"Not my horse; you would kill it."

"Then what must I do?"

"Nothing more simple; I will buy you an ass."

"You are my benefactor, M. Chicot. Let the ass be strong. Now,
where do we breakfast?"

"Here; look over this door and read."

Gorenflot looked up, and saw, "Here eggs, ham, eel-pies, and
white wine may be had!" At this sight, Gorenflot's whole face
expanded with joy.

"Now," said Chicot, "go and get your breakfast, while I go and
look for an ass for you."



What made Chicot so indifferent to his own repast was, that he
had already breakfasted plentifully. Therefore, he sat Gorenflot
down to eggs and bacon, while he went among the peasants to look
for an ass. He found a pacific creature, four years old, and
something between an ass and a horse; gave twenty-two livres
for it, and brought it to Gorenflot, who was enchanted at the
sight of it, and christened it Panurge. Chicot, seeing by the
look of the table that there would be no cruelty in staying his
companion's repast, said,--

"Come, now we must go on; at Melun we will lunch."

Gorenflot got up, merely saying, "At Melun, at Melun."

They went on for about four leagues, then Gorenflot lay down on
the grass to sleep, while Chicot began to calculate.

"One hundred and twenty leagues, at ten leagues a day, would
take twelve days." It was as much as he could reasonably expect
from the combined forces of a monk and an ass. But Chicot shook
his head. "It will not do," he said, "if he wants to follow me,
he must do fifteen."

He pushed the monk to wake him, who, opening his eyes, said, "Are
we at Melun? I am hungry."

"Not yet, compere, and that is why I woke you; we must get on;
we go too slow, ventre de biche!"

"Oh, no, dear M. Chicot; it is so fatiguing to go fast. Besides,
there is no hurry: am I not traveling for the propagation of
the faith, and you for pleasure? Well, the slower we go, the
better the faith will be propagated, and the more you will amuse
yourself. My advice is to stay some days at Melun, where they
make excellent eel-pies. What do you say, M. Chicot?"

"I say, that my opinion is to go as fast as possible; not to
lunch at Melun, but only to sup at Monterau, to make up for lost

Gorenflot looked at his companion as if he did not understand.

"Come, let us get on," said Chicot.

The monk sat still and groaned.

"If you wish to stay behind and travel at your ease, you are

"No, no!" cried Gorenflot, in terror; "no, no, M. Chicot; I love
you too much to leave you!"

"Then to your saddle at once."

Gorenflot got on his ass this time sideways, as a lady sits,
saying it was more comfortable; but the fact was that, fearing
they were to go faster, he wished to be able to hold on both
by mane and tail.

Chicot began to trot, and the ass followed. The first moments
were terrible for Gorenflot, but he managed to keep his seat.
From time to time Chicot stood up in his stirrups and looked
forward, then, not seeing what he looked for, redoubled his speed.

"What are you looking for, dear M. Chicot?"

"Nothing; but we are not getting on."

"Not getting on! we are trotting all the way."

"Gallop then!" and he began to canter.

Panurge again followed; Gorenflot was in agonies.

"Oh, M. Chicot!" said he, as soon as he could speak, "do you
call this traveling for pleasure? It does not amuse me at all."

"On! on!"

"It is dreadful!"

"Stay behind then!"

"Panurge can do no more; he is stopping."

"Then adieu, compere!"

Gorenflot felt half inclined to reply in the same manner, but he
remembered that the horse, whom he felt ready to curse, bore on
his back a man with a hundred and fifty pistoles in his pocket,
so he resigned himself, and beat his ass to make him gallop once

"I shall kill my poor Panurge!" cried he dolefully, thinking to
move Chicot.

"Well, kill him," said Chicot quietly, "and we will buy another."

All at once Chicot, on arriving at the top of a hill, reined
in his horse suddenly. But the ass, having once taken it into
his head to gallop, was not so easily stopped, and Gorenflot
was forced to let himself slide off and hang on to the donkey
with all his weight before he could stop him.

"Ah, M. Chicot!" cried he, "what does it all mean? First we must
gallop fit to break our necks, and then we must stop short here!"

Chicot had hidden himself behind a rock, and was eagerly watching
three men who, about two hundred yards in advance, were traveling
on quietly on their mules, and he did not reply.

"I am tired and hungry!" continued Gorenflot angrily.

"And so am I," said Chicot; "and at the first hotel we come to
we will order a couple of fricasseed chickens, some ham, and
a jug of their best wine."

"Really, is it true this time?"

"I promise you, compere."

"Well, then, let us go and seek it. Come, Panurge, you shall have
some dinner."

Chicot remounted his horse, and Gorenflot led his ass. The
much-desired inn soon appeared, but, to the surprise of Gorenflot,
Chicot caused him to make a detour and pass round the back. At
the front door were standing the three travelers.



However, Gorenflot's troubles were near their end for that day,
for after the detour they went on a mile, and then stopped at a
rival hotel. Chicot took a room which looked on to the high-road,
and ordered supper. But even while he was eating he was constantly
on the watch. However, at ten o'clock, as he had seen nothing,
he went to bed, first, however, ordering that the horse and the
ass should be ready at daybreak.

"At daybreak?" uttered Gorenflot, with a deep sigh.

"Yes; you must be used to getting up at that time."

"Why so?"

"For matins."

"I had an exemption from the superior." Chicot ordered Gorenflot's
bed to be placed in his room. With daylight he was up and at the
window, and before very long he saw three mules coming along.
He ran to Gorenflot and shook him.

"Can I not have a moment's rest?" cried the monk, who had been
sleeping for ten hours.

"Be quick; get up and dress, for we are going."

"But the breakfast?"

"Is on the road to Monterau."

"Where is Monterau?"

"It is the city where we breakfast, that is enough for you. Now,
I am going down to pay the bill, and if you are not ready in
five minutes, I go without you."

A monk's toilet takes not long; however, Gorenflot took six minutes,
and when he came down Chicot was starting. This day passed much
like the former one, and by the third, Gorenflot was beginning
to get accustomed to it, when towards the evening, Chicot lost
all his gaiety. Since noon he had seen nothing of the three
travelers; therefore he was in a very bad humor. They were off
at daybreak and galloped till noon, but all in vain; no mules
were visible. Chicot stopped at a turnpike, and asked the man
if he had seen three travelers pass on mules.

"Not to-day," was the reply, "yesterday evening about seven."

"What were they like?"

"They looked like a master and two servants!"

"It was them," said Chicot; "ventre de biche! they have twelve
hours' start of me. But courage!"

"Listen, M. Chicot!" said Gorenflot, "my ass can do no more,
even your horse is almost exhausted." Chicot looked, and saw,
indeed, that the poor animals were trembling from head to foot.

"Well! brother," said he, "we must take a resolution. You must
leave me."

"Leave you; why?"

"You go too slow."

"Slow! why, we have galloped for five hours this morning."

"That is not enough."

"Well, then, let us go on; the quicker we go, the sooner we shall
arrive, for I suppose we shall stop at last."

"But our animals are exhausted."

"What shall we do then?"

"Leave them here, and take them as we come back."

"Then how are we to proceed?"

"We will buy mules."

"Very well," said Gorenflot with a sigh. Two mules were soon
found, and they went so well that in the evening Chicot saw with
joy those of the three travelers, standing at the door of a
farrier's. But they were without harness, and both master and
lackeys had disappeared. Chicot trembled. "Go," said he, to
Gorenflot, "and ask if those mules are for sale, and where their
owners are." Gorenflot went, and soon returned, saying that a
gentleman had sold them, and had afterwards taken the road to


Back to Full Books