Chicot the Jester
Part 5 out of 12
"No, with a lackey."
"And where is the other lackey?"
"He went towards Lyons."
"And how did they go on?"
"On horses which they bought."
"Of a captain of troopers who was here, and they sold their mules
to a dealer, who is trying to sell them again to those Franciscan
monks whom you see there."
"Well, take our two mules and go and offer them to the monks instead;
they ought to give you the preference."
"But, then, how shall we go on?"
"On horseback, morbleu."
"Oh! a good rider like you. You will find me again on the Grand
Place." Chicot was bargaining for some horses, when he saw the
monk reappear, carrying the saddles and bridles of the mules.
"Oh! you have kept the harness?"
"And sold the mules?"
"For ten pistoles each."
"Which they paid you?"
"Here is the money."
"Ventre de biche! you are a great man, let us go on."
"But I am thirsty."
"Well, drink while I saddle the beasts, but not too much."
Gorenflot drank two, and came to give the rest of the money back
to Chicot, who felt half inclined to give it to him, but reflecting
that if Gorenflot had money he would no longer be obedient, he
refrained. They rode on, and the next evening Chicot came up
with Nicolas David, still disguised as a lackey, and kept him in
sight all the way to Lyons, whose gates they all three entered
on the eighth day after their departure from Paris.
HOW CHICOT AND HIS COMPANION INSTALLED THEMSELVES AT THE HOTEL
OF THE CROSS, AND HOW THEY WERE RECEIVED BY THE HOST.
Chicot watched Nicolas David into the principal hotel of the
place, and then said to Gorenflot, "Go in and bargain for a private
room, say that you expect your brother, then come out and wait
about for me, and I will come in when it is dark, and you can
bring me straight to my room. Do you understand?"
"Choose a good room, as near as possible to that of the traveler
who has just arrived; it must look on to the street, and on no
account pronounce my name."
Gorenflot acquitted himself marvelously of the commission. Their
room was only separated by a partition from that of Nicolas David.
"You deserve a recompense," said Chicot to him, "and you shall
have sherry wine for supper."
"I never got tipsy on that wine; it would be agreeable."
"You shall to-night. But now ramble about the town."
"But the supper?"
"I shall be ready against your return; here is a crown meanwhile."
Gorenflot went off quite happy, and then Chicot made, with a
gimlet, a hole in the partition at about the height of his eye.
Through this, he could hear distinctly all that passed, and he
could just see the host talking to Nicolas David, who was professing
to have been sent on a mission by the king, to whom he professed
great fidelity. The host did not reply, but Chicot fancied he
could see an ironical smile on his lip whenever the king's name
"Is he a leaguer?" thought Chicot; "I will find out."
When the host left David he came to visit Chicot, who said, "Pray
sit down, monsieur; and before we make a definitive arrangement,
listen to my history. You saw me this morning with a monk?"
"Silence! that monk is proscribed."
"What! is he a disguised Huguenot?"
Chicot took an offended air. "Huguenot, indeed! he is my relation,
and I have no Huguenot relations. On the contrary, he is so fierce
an enemy of the Huguenots, that he has fallen into disgrace with
his majesty Henri III., who protects them, as you know."
The host began to look interested. "Silence," said he.
"Why, have you any of the king's people here?"
"I fear so; there is a traveler in there."
"Then we must fly at once, for proscribed, menaced----"
"Where will you go?"
"We have two or three addresses given to us by an innkeeper we
know, M. la Huriere."
"Do you know La Huriere?"
"Yes, we made his acquaintance on the night of St. Bartholomew."
"Well, I see you and your relation are holy people; I also know
La Huriere. Then you say this monk----"
"Had the imprudence to preach against the Huguenots, and with
so much success that the king wanted to put him in prison."
"Ma foi, I carried him off."
"And you did well."
"M. de Guise offered to protect him."
"What! the great Henri?"
"Himself; but I feared civil war."
"If you are friends of M. de Guise, you know this;" and he made
a sort of masonic sign by which the leaguers recognized each
Chicot, who had seen both this and the answer to it twenty times
during that famous night, replied, "And you this?"
"Then," said the innkeeper, "you are at home here; my house is
yours, look on me as a brother, and if you have no money----"
Chicot drew out his purse. The sight of a well-filled purse is
always agreeable, even to a generous host.
"Our journey," continued Chicot, "is paid for by the treasurer
of the Holy Union, for we travel to propagate the faith. Tell
us of an inn where we may be safe."
"Nowhere more so than here, and if you wish it, the other traveler
shall turn out."
"Oh! no; it is better to have your enemies near, that you may
watch them. But, what makes you think he is our enemy?"
"Well! first he came disguised as a lackey, then he put on an
advocate's dress, and I am sure he is no more an advocate than
he is a lackey, for I saw a long rapier under his cloak. Then
he avowed he had a mission from the king!"
"From Herod, as I call him."
"Ah! I see we understand each other."
"Then we are to remain here?"
"I should think so."
"Not a word about my relation."
"Of course not."
"Nor of me."
"Oh, no! But hush! here is some one."
"Oh, it is the worthy man himself!"
The host turned to Gorenflot, and made a sign of the leaguers.
Gorenflot was struck with terror and astonishment.
"Reply, my brother," said Chicot; "he is a member."
"Of the Holy Union," said Bernouillet, in a low tone.
"You see all is safe; reply," said Chicot.
Gorenflot replied, to the great joy of the innkeeper.
"But," said Gorenflot, who did not like the conversation, "you
promised me some sherry."
"Sherry, Malaga, Alicant--every wine in my cellar is at your
Gorenflot looked at Chicot in amazement.
For three following days Gorenflot got drunk, first on sherry,
next on Malaga, then on Alicant; afterwards he declared he liked
Burgundy best, and returned to that. Meanwhile, Chicot had never
stirred from his room, and had constantly watched Nicolas David,
who, having appointed to meet Pierre de Gondy at this inn, would
not leave the house. On the morning of the sixth day he declared
himself ill, and the next day worse. Bernouillet came joyfully
to tell Chicot.
"What! do you think him in danger?"
"High fever, my dear brother; he is delirious, and tried to strangle
me and beat my servants. The doctors do not understand his
"Have you seen him?"
"Yes; I tell you he tried to strangle me."
"How did he seem?"
"Pale and furious, and constantly crying out."
"Take care of the king! they want to hurt the king! Then he
constantly says that he expects a man from Avignon, and wishes
to see him before he dies."
As for Gorenflot, he grew visibly fatter every day, so much so,
that he announced to Chicot with terror one day that the staircase
was narrowing. Neither David, the League, nor religion occupied
him; he thought of nothing but how to vary his dinner and wine,
so that Bernouillet often exclaimed in astonishment, "To think
that that man should be a torrent of eloquence!"
HOW THE MONK CONFESSED THE ADVOCATE, AND THE ADVOCATE THE MONK.
At last M. Bernouillet came into Chicot's room, laughing
"He is dying," said he, "and the man has arrived from Avignon."
"Have you seen him?"
"What is he like?"
"Little and thin."
"It is he," thought Chicot; and he said, "Tell me about his arrival."
"An hour ago I was in the kitchen, when I saw a great horse,
ridden by a little man, stop before the door. 'Is M. Nicolas
here?' asked he. 'Yes, monsieur,' said I. 'Tell him that the
person he expects from Avignon is here.' 'Certainly, monsieur,
but I must warn you that he is very ill.' 'All the more reason
for doing my bidding at once.' 'But he has a malignant fever.'
'Oh, pray, then, be quick!' 'How! you persist?' 'I persist.'
'In spite of the danger!' 'In spite of everything I must see
him.' So I took him to the room, and there he is now. Is it not
"I wish I could hear them."
"He forbade me to go in, saying he was going to confess."
"Listen at the door."
Bernouillet went, and Chicot went also to his hole: but they
spoke so low that he could hear nothing, and in a few minutes
Gondy rose and took leave. Chicot ran to the window, and saw a
lackey waiting with a horse, which M. de Gondy mounted and rode
"If he only has not carried off the genealogy. Never mind, I
shall soon catch him if necessary; but I suspect it is left here.
Where can Gorenflot be?"
M. Bernouillet returned, saying, "He is gone."
"He is no more a confessor than I am."
"Will you send me my brother as soon as he comes in."
"Even if he be drunk?"
"Whatever state he is in."
Bernouillet went, and Chicot remained in a state of indecision
as to what to do, for he thought, "If David is really so ill,
he may have sent on the despatches by Gondy." Presently he heard
Gorenflot's voice, singing a drinking song as he came up the
"Silence, drunkard!" said Chicot.
"Yes; but come here and speak seriously, if you can."
"What is it now?"
"It is, that you never think of the duties of your profession,
that you wallow in greediness and drunkenness, and let religion
go where it pleases."
Gorenflot looked astonished. "I!" he gasped.
"Yes, you; you are disgraceful to see; you are covered with mud;
you have been drunk in the streets."
"It is too true!"
"If you go on so, I will abandon you."
"Chicot, my friend, you will not do that? Am I very guilty?"
"There are archers at Lyons."
"Oh, pity! my dear protector, pity!"
"Are you a Christian or not?"
"I not a Christian!"
"Then do not let a neighbor die without confession."
"I am ready, but I must drink first, for I am thirsty."
Chicot passed him a jug of water, which he emptied.
"Now who am I to confess?"
"Our unlucky neighbor who is dying."
"Let them give him a pint of wine with honey in it."
"He needs spiritual aid as well as temporal. Go to him."
"Am I fit?" said Gorenflot, timidly.
"Then I will go."
"Stay; I must tell you what to do."
"Oh! I know."
"You do not know what I wish."
"What you wish?"
"If you execute it well, I will give you one hundred pistoles
to spend here."
"What must I do?"
"Listen; your robe gives you authority; in the name of God and
the King, summon him to give up the papers he has just received
"To gain one hundred pistoles, stupid."
"Ah! true; I go."
"Wait a minute. He will tell you he has confessed."
"But if he has?"
"Tell him he lies; that the man who has just left him is no
confessor, but an intriguer like himself."
"But he will be angry."
"What does that matter, since he is dying?"
"Well; one way or the other, you must get hold of those papers."
"If he refuses?"
"Refuse him absolution, curse him, anathematize him----"
"Oh, I will take them by force."
"Good; and when you have got them, knock on the wall."
"And if I cannot get them?"
"Then, in any case I am to knock?"
Gorenflot went, and Chicot placed his ear to the hole in the
wall. When Gorenflot entered, the sick man raised himself in his
bed, and looked at him with wonder.
"Good day, brother," said Gorenflot.
"What do you want, my father?" murmured the sick man, in a feeble
"My son, I hear you are in danger, and I come to speak to you
of your soul."
"Thank you, but I think your care is needless; I feel better."
"You think so?"
"I am sure of it."
"It is a ruse of Satan, who wishes you to die without confession."
"Then he will be deceived, for I have just confessed."
"To a worthy priest from Avignon."
"He was not a priest."
"How do you know?"
"I knew him."
"You knew the man who has just gone?"
"Yes; and as you are not better, and this man was not a priest,
you must confess."
"Very well," replied the patient, in a stronger voice, "but I
will chose to whom I will confess."
"You will have no time to send for another priest, and I am here."
"How! no time, when I tell you I am getting well?"
Gorenflot shook his head. "I tell you, my son, you are condemned
by the doctors and by Providence; you may think it cruel to tell
you so, but it is what we must all come to sooner or later. Confess,
my son, confess."
"But I assure you, father, that I feel much stronger."
"A mistake, my son, the lamp flares up at the last, just before
it goes out. Come, confess all your plots, your intrigues, and
"My intrigues and plots!" cried David, frightened at this singular
monk, whom he did not know, but who seemed to know him so well.
"Yes; and when you have told all that, give me up the papers,
and perhaps God will let me absolve you."
"What papers?" cried the sick man, in a voice as strong as though
he were quite well.
"The papers that the pretended priest brought you from Avignon."
"And who told you that he brought me papers?" cried the patient,
putting one leg out of bed.
Gorenflot began to feel frightened, but he said firmly, "He who
told me knew well what he was saying; give me the papers, or
you shall have no absolution."
"I laugh at your absolution," cried David, jumping out of bed,
and seizing Gorenflot by the throat, "and you shall see if I
am too ill to strangle you."
Gorenflot was strong, and he pushed David back so violently that
he fell into the middle of the room. But he rose furious, and
seizing a long sword, which hung on the wall behind his clothes,
presented it to the throat of Gorenflot, who sank on a chair
"It is now your turn to confess," said he, "speak, or you die."
"Oh!" cried Gorenflot, "then you are not ill--not dying."
"It is not for you to question, but to answer."
"To answer what?"
"Who are you?"
"You can see that."
"You are then a real monk?"
"I should think so."
"What brings you to Lyons?"
"I am exiled."
"What brought you to this inn?"
"How long have you been here?"
"Why did you watch me?"
"I did not."
"How did you know that I had the papers?"
"Because I was told so."
"Who told you?"
"He who sent me here."
"Who was that?"
"I cannot tell you."
"Oh! oh! I will cry out."
"And I will kill."
Gorenflot cried out, and a spot of blood appeared on the point
of the sword.
"His name?" cried David.
"Oh! I can hold out no more."
"It was Chicot."
"The king's jester!"
"And where is he?"
"Here!" cried a voice, and Chicot appeared at the door with a
drawn sword in his hand.
HOW CHICOT USED HIS SWORD.
Nicolas David, in recognizing him whom he knew to be his mortal
enemy, could not repress a movement of terror, during which Gorenflot
slipped a little to the side, crying out, "Help, friend! come to
"Ah, Monsieur David, it is you!" said Chicot; "I am delighted
to meet you again!" Then, turning to Gorenflot, he said, "My
good Gorenflot, your presence as monk was very necessary just
now, when we believed monsieur dying; but now that he is so well,
it is with me he must deal; therefore, do me the favor to stand
sentinel on the threshold, and prevent any one from coming in
to interrupt our little conversation." Gorenflot, who asked no
better than to go, was soon out of the room; but David, having
now recovered from his surprise, and confident in his skill as
a swordsman, stood waiting for Chicot, with his sword in his
hand and a smile on his lips.
"Dress yourself, monsieur," said Chicot; "I do not wish to take
any advantage of you. Do you know what I have come to seek in
"The rest of the blows which I have owed you on account of the
Duc de Mayenne, since that day when you jumped so quickly out
of the window."
"No, monsieur; I know the number, and will return them. Be easy.
What I have come for is a certain genealogy which M. Pierre de
Gondy took to Avignon, without knowing what he carried, and,
equally in ignorance, brought back to you just now."
David turned pale. "What genealogy?" he said.
"That of M. de Guise, who descends, as you know, in a direct line
"Ah, you are a spy! I thought you only a buffoon."
"Dear M. David, I will be both if you wish it: a spy to hang you,
and a buffoon to laugh at it after."
"To hang me!"
"High and dry, monsieur; I hope you do not lay claim to be beheaded
like a gentleman."
"And how will you do it?"
"Oh, very easily; I will relate the truth, for I must tell you,
dear M. David, that I assisted last month at the meeting held
in the convent of St. Genevieve."
"Yes; I was in the confessional in front of yours, and it was
very uncomfortable there, especially as I was obliged to wait
to go out until all was finished. Therefore I heard all, saw
the coronation of M. d'Anjou, which was not very amusing; but
then the genealogy was delightful."
"Ah! you know about the genealogy?" cried David, biting his lips
"Yes, and I found it very ingenious, especially that part about
the Salic law; only it is a misfortune to have so much intellect,
one gets hung for it; therefore, feeling myself moved with tender
pity for so ingenious a man, I said to myself, 'Shall I let this
brave M. David be hung?' and I took the resolution of traveling
with, or rather behind, you. I followed you, therefore, not without
trouble, and at last we arrived at Lyons. I entered the hotel
an hour after you, and have been in the adjoining room; look,
there is only a partition between, and, as you may imagine, I
did not travel all the way from Paris to Lyons to lose sight
of you now. I pierced a little hole, through which I had the
pleasure of watching you when I liked, and I confess I gave myself
this pleasure several times a day. At last you fell ill; the
host wished to get rid of you, but you were determined to wait
here for M. de Gondy. I was duped by you at first, for you might
really have been ill, so I sent you a brave monk, to excite you
to repentance; but, hardened sinner that you are, you tried to
kill him, forgetting the Scripture maxim, 'He who strikes with
the sword shall perish with the sword.' Then I came to you, and
said, 'We are old friends; let us arrange the matter.'"
"In what manner?"
"It would be a pity that such a man as you should disappear from
the world; give up plots, trust me, break with the Guises, give
me your papers, and, on the faith of a gentleman, I will make
your peace with the king."
"While, on the contrary, if I do not give them to you?"
"Ah! then, on the faith of a gentleman, I will kill you! But if
you give them to me, all shall be forgotten. You do not believe
me, perhaps, for your nature is bad, and you think my resentment
can never be forgotten. But, although it is true that I hate you,
I hate M. de Mayenne more; give me what will ruin him, and I will
save you. And then, perhaps, you will not believe this either,
for you love nothing; but I love the king, foolish and corrupted
as he is, and I wish that he should reign tranquilly--which is
impossible with the Mayennes and the genealogy of Nicolas David.
Therefore, give me up the genealogy, and I promise to make your
name and your fortune."
David never moved.
"Well," said Chicot, "I see all that I say to you is but wasted
breath; therefore, I go to get you hanged. Adieu, M. David,"
and he stepped backwards towards the door.
"And you think I shall let you go out," cried the advocate.
"No, no, my fine spy; no, no, Chicot, my friend, those who know
of the genealogy must die. Those who menace me must die."
"You put me quite at my ease; I hesitated only because I am sure
to kill you. Crillon, the other day, taught me a particular thrust,
only one, but that will suffice. Come, give me the papers, or
I will kill you; and I will tell you how--I will pierce your
throat just where you wished to bleed Gorenflot."
Chicot had hardly finished, when David rushed on him with a savage
laugh. The two adversaries were nearly matched in height, but
Chicot, who fenced nearly every day with the king, had become
one of the most skilful swordsmen in the kingdom. David soon
began to perceive this, and he retreated a step.
"Ah! ah!" said Chicot, "now you begin to understand. Once more;
David, for answer, threw himself again upon Chicot, and a new
combat ensued. At last Chicot called out,--
"Here is the thrust," and as he spoke, he thrust his rapier half
through his throat.
David did not reply, but fell at Chicot's feet, pouring out a
mouthful of blood. But by a natural movement he tried to drag
himself towards his bed, so as to defend his secret to the last.
"Ah!" cried Chicot, "I thought you cunning, but I see you are
a fool. I did not know where the papers were, and you have shown
me----" and while David rolled in the agonies of death, he ran
to the bed, raised the mattress, and found under it a roll of
parchment. At the moment in which he unrolled it to see if it
was the document he sought, David raised himself in a rage and
then fell back dead. Chicot saw with joy that he held what he
wanted. The Pope had written at the bottom, "Fiat ut voluit Deus;
Deus jura hominum fecit." After placing it in his breast, he
took the body of the advocate, who had died without losing more
blood, the nature of the wound making him bleed inwardly, put
it back in the bed, turned the face to the wall, and, opening
the door, called Gorenflot.
"How pale you are!" said the monk, as he entered.
"Yes, the last moments of that man caused me some emotion."
"Then he is dead?"
"He was so well just now."
"Too well; he swallowed something difficult of digestion, and
died of it."
"The wretch wanted to strangle me, a holy man, and he is punished
"Pardon him, you are a Christian."
"I do, although he frightened me much."
"You must do more; you must light the lamps, and say some prayers
by his bed."
"That you may not be taken prisoner as his murderer."
"I, a murderer! it was he who tried to murder me."
"Mon Dieu! yes, and as he could not succeed, his rage made him
break a blood-vessel. But till your innocence is established
they might annoy you much."
"I fear you are right."
"Then do what I tell you. Install yourself here, and recite all
the prayers you know, or do not know; then, when evening comes,
go out and call at the ironmonger's at the corner of the street.
There you will find your horse; mount him, and take the road to
Paris; at Villeneuve-le-Roi sell him, and take Panurge back."
"Ah! that good Panurge; I shall be delighted to see him again.
But how am I to live?"
Chicot drew from his pocket a handful of crowns and put them into
the large hand of the monk.
"Generous man!" cried Gorenflot. "Let me stay with you at Lyons;
I love Lyons."
"But I do not stay here; I set off at once, and travel too rapidly
for you to follow me."
"So be it, then."
Chicot installed the monk by the bed, and went downstairs to the
"M. Bernouillet," said he, "a great event has taken place in your
"What do you mean?"
"The hateful royalist, the enemy of our religion upstairs, received
to-day a messenger from Rome."
"I know that: it was I who told you."
"Well, our holy father, the Pope, had sent him to this conspirator,
who, however, probably did not suspect for what purpose."
"And why did he come?"
"Go up-stairs, lift up the bedclothes, look at his neck, and you
"You frighten me."
"I say no more. The Pope did you honor in choosing your house
for the scene of his vengeance."
Then Chicot put ten crowns into the hand of the host, and went
down to the stable to get out the horses. M. Bernouillet went
up and found Gorenflot praying. He looked as directed, and found
"May every enemy of our religion die thus," said he to Gorenflot.
"Amen," replied the monk.
These events passed about the same time that Bussy brought the
Baron de Meridor back to his daughter.
HOW THE DUC D'ANJOU LEARNED THAT DIANA WAS NOT DEAD.
The month of April had arrived. The great cathedral of Chartres
was hung with white, and the king was standing barefooted in the
nave. The religious ceremonies, which were for the purpose of
praying for an heir to the throne of France, were just finishing,
when Henri, in the midst of the general silence, heard what seemed
to him a stifled laugh. He turned round to see if Chicot were
there, for he thought no one else would have dared to laugh at
such a time. It was not, however, Chicot who had laughed at the
sight of the two chemises of the Holy Virgin which were said to
have such a prolific power, and which were just being drawn from
their golden box; but it was a cavalier who had just stopped
at the door of the church, and who was making his way with his
muddy boots through the crowd of courtiers in their penitents'
robes and sacks. Seeing the king turn, he stopped for a moment,
and Henri, irritated at seeing him arrive thus, threw an angry
glance at him. The newcomer, however, continued to advance until
he reached the velvet chair of M. le Duc d'Anjou, by which he
knelt down. He, turning round, said, "Bussy!"
"Good morning, monseigneur."
"Are you mad?"
"To come here to see this nonsense."
"Monseigneur, I wish to speak to you at once."
"Where have you been for the last three weeks?"
"That is just what I have to tell you."
"Well, you must wait until we leave the church."
"So much the worse."
"Patience, here is the end."
Indeed, the king was putting on one of these chemises, and the
queen another. Then they all knelt down, and afterwards the king,
taking off his holy tunic, left the church.
"Now, monseigneur," said Bussy, "shall we go to your house?"
"Yes, at once, if you have anything to tell me."
"Plenty of things which you do not expect."
When they were in the hotel the duke said, "Now sit down and tell
me all; I feared you were dead."
"Very likely, monseigneur."
"You left me to look after my beautiful unknown. Who is this woman,
and what am I to expect?"
"You will reap what you have sown, monseigneur--plenty of shame."
"What do you mean?" cried the duke.
"What I said."
"Explain yourself, monsieur; who is this woman?"
"I thought you had recognized her."
"Then it was her?"
"You saw her?"
"And she spoke to you?"
"Certainly. Doubtless you had reason to think her dead, and you
perhaps hoped she was so."
The duke grew pale.
"Yes, monseigneur," continued Bussy, "although you pushed to
despair a young girl of noble race, she escaped from death; but
do not breathe yet, do not think yourself absolved, for, in
preserving her life, she found a misfortune worse than death."
"What is it? what has happened to her?"
"Monseigneur, a man preserved her honor and saved her life, but
he made her pay for this service so dearly that she regrets his
having rendered it."
"Well, monseigneur, Mademoiselle de Meridor, to escape becoming
the mistress of the Duc d'Anjou, has thrown herself into the arms
of a man whom she detests, and is now Madame de Monsoreau."
At these words the blood rushed furiously into the duke's face.
"Is this true?" said he.
"Pardieu! I said it," said Bussy, haughtily.
"I did not mean that; I did not doubt your word, Bussy, I wondered
only if it were possible that one of my gentlemen had had the
audacity to interfere between me and a woman whom I honored with
"And why not?"
"Then you would have done so?"
"I would have done better; I would have warned you that your honor
was being lost."
"Listen, Bussy," said the prince, becoming calmer, "I do not
justify myself, but M. de Monsoreau has been a traitor towards
"Yes, he knew my intentions."
"And they were?"
"To try and make Diana love me."
"Yes, but in no case to use violence."
"Those were your intentions?" said Bussy, with an ironical smile.
"Certainly, and these intentions I preserved to the last, although
M. de Monsoreau constantly combated them."
"Monseigneur, what do you say! This man incited you to dishonor
"By his counsels?"
"By his letters. Would you like to see them?"
"Oh! if I could believe that!"
"You shall see."
And the duke, opening a little cabinet, and taking out a letter,
said, "Since you doubt your prince's words, read."
Bussy took it and read,--
"Be quite easy; the coup-de-main can be executed without risk,
for the young person sets off this evening to pass a week with an
aunt who lives at the chateau of Lude. I charge myself with it,
and you need take no trouble as for the scruples of the young lady,
be sure that they will vanish in the presence of your highness:
meanwhile I act; and this evening she will be at the chateau of
"Your highness's respectful servant,
"BRYAN DE MONSOREAU."
"Well, what do you say, Bussy?"
"I say that you are well served, monseigneur."
"You mean betrayed."
"Ah, true; I forgot the end."
"The wretch! he made me believe in the death woman----"
"Whom he stole from you; it is black enough."
"How did he manage?"
"He made the father believe you the ravisher, and offered himself
to rescue the lady, presented himself at the chateau of Beauge
with a letter from the Baron de Meridor, brought a boat to the
windows, and carried away the prisoner; then shut her up in the
house you know of, and by constantly working upon her fears,
forced her to become his wife."
"Is it not infamous?"
"Only partly excused by your conduct, monseigneur."
"Ah! Bussy, you shall see how I will revenge myself!"
"Princes do not revenge themselves, they punish," said Bussy.
"How can I punish him?"
"By restoring happiness to Madame de Monsoreau."
"But can I?"
"By restoring her to liberty. The marriage was forced, therefore
it is null."
"You are right."
"Get it set aside, then, and you will have acted like a gentleman
and a prince."
"Ah, ah!" said the prince, "what warmth! you are interested in
"I! not at all, except that I do not wish people to say that
Louis de Clermont serves a perfidious prince and a man without
"Well, you shall see. But how to do it?"
"Nothing more easy; make her father act."
"But he is buried in Anjou."
"Monseigneur, he is here in Paris."
"At your house?"
"No, with his daughter. Speak to him, monseigneur, that he may
see in you, not what he does now, an enemy, but a protector--that
he who now curses your name may bless you."
"And when can I see him?"
"As soon as you return Paris."
"It is agreed, then?"
"On your word as a gentleman?"
"On my faith as a prince."
"And when do you return?"
"This evening; will you accompany me?"
"No, I go first; where shall I meet your highness?"
"To-morrow; at the king's levee."
"I will be there, monseigneur."
Bussy did not lose a moment, and the distance that took the duke
fifteen hours to accomplish, sleeping in his litter, the young
man, who returned to Paris, his heart beating with joy and love,
did in five, to console the baron and Diana the sooner.
HOW CHICOT RETURNED TO THE LOUVRE, AND WAS RECEIVED BY THE KING
All was quiet at the Louvre, for the king, fatigued with his
pilgrimage, had not yet risen, when two men presented themselves
together at the gates.
"M. Chicot," cried the younger, "how are you this morning?"
"Ah, M. de Bussy."
"You come for the king's levee, monsieur?"
"And you also, I presume?"
"No; I come to see M. le Duc d'Anjou. You know I have not the
honor of being a favorite of his majesty's."
"The reproach is for the king, and not for you."
"Do you come from far? I heard you were traveling."
"Yes, I was hunting. And you?"
"Yes, I have been in the provinces; and now will you be good enough
to render me a service?"
"I shall be delighted."
"Well, you can penetrate into the Louvre, while I remain in the
ante-chamber; will you tell the duke I am waiting for him?"
"Why not come in with me?"
"The king would not be pleased."
"Diable! he has not accustomed me to his most gracious smiles."
"Henceforth, for some time, all that will change."
"Ah, ah! are you a necromancer, M. Chicot?"
"Sometimes; come, take courage, and come in with me."
They entered together; one went towards the apartments of the
Duc d'Anjou, and the other to those of the king.
Henri was just awake, and had rung, and a crowd of valets and
friends had rushed in; already the chicken broth and the spiced
wine were served, when Chicot entered, and without saying a word,
sat down to eat and drink.
"Par la mordieu!" cried the king, delighted, although he affected
anger; "it is that knave of a Chicot, that fugitive, that vagabond!"
"What is the matter, my son?" said Chicot, placing himself on
the immense seat, embroidered with fleur-de-lis, on which the
king was seated.
"Here is my misfortune returned," said Henri; "for three weeks
I have been so tranquil."
"Bah! you always grumble. One would think you were one of your
own subjects. Let me hear, Henriquet, how you have governed this
kingdom in my absence."
"Have you hung any of your curled gentlemen? Ah! pardon, M. Quelus,
I did not see you."
"Chicot, I shall be angry," said the king; but he ended by laughing,
as he always did; so he went on: "But what has become of you? Do
you know that I have had you sought for in all the bad parts
"Did you search the Louvre?"
Just then M. de Monsoreau entered.
"Ah! it is you, monsieur," said the king; "when shall we hunt
"When it shall please your majesty; I hear there are plenty of
wild boars at St. Germain en Laye."
"The wild boar is dangerous," said Chicot; "King Charles IX.,
I remember, was nearly killed by one. And then spears are sharp
also; is it not so, Henri? and do you know your chief huntsman
must have met a wolf not long ago?"
"Because he has caught the likeness; it is striking."
M. de Monsoreau grew pale, and turning to Chicot, said:
"M. Chicot, I am not used to jesters, having lived little at
court, and I warn you that before my king I do not like to be
humiliated, above all when I speak of my duties."
"Well, monsieur," said Chicot, "we are not like you, we court
people laughed heartily at the last joke."
"And what was that?"
"Making you chief huntsman."
Monsoreau looked daggers at Chicot.
"Come, come," said Henri, "let us speak of something else."
"Yes, let us speak of the merits of Notre Dame de Chartres."
"Chicot, no impiety."
"I impious! it is you, on the contrary; there were two chemises
accustomed to be together, and you separated them. Join them
together and a miracle may happen."
This illusion to the estrangement of the king and queen made everyone
Monsoreau then whispered to Chicot, "Pray withdraw with me into
that window, I wish to speak to you." When they were alone, he went
on, "Now, M. Chicot, buffoon as you are, a gentleman forbids you;
do you understand? forbids you to laugh at him, and to remember
that others may finish what M. de Mayenne began."
"Ah! you wish me to become your creditor, as I am his, and to
give you the same place in my gratitude."
"It seems to me that, among your creditors, you forget the
"Indeed, I have generally a good memory. Who may it be?"
"M. Nicolas David."
"Oh! you are wrong; he is paid."
At this moment Bussy entered.
"Monsieur," said he to the count, "M. le Duc d'Anjou desires to
speak with you."
"With you, monsieur."
"Do you accompany me?"
"No, I go first, to tell the duke you are coming," and he rapidly
"Well?" said the duke.
"He is coming."
"And he suspects nothing?"
"Nothing; but if he did, what matter? is he not your creature?
Does he seem to you less guilty than he did yesterday?"
"No, a hundred times more so."
"He has carried off, by treason, a noble young girl, and married
her equally treasonably; either he must ask for the dissolution
of the marriage himself, or you must do it for him."
"I have promised."
"I have your word?"
"Remember that they know and are anxiously waiting."
"She shall be free, Bussy; I pledge my word."
Bussy kissed the hand which had signed so many false promises.
As he did so, M. de Monsoreau entered, and Bussy went to the
corridor, where were several other gentlemen. Here he had to
wait as patiently as might be for the result of this interview,
on which all his future happiness was at stake. He waited for
some time, when suddenly the door of the duke's room opened,
and the sound of M. de Monsoreau's voice made Bussy tremble,
for it sounded almost joyful. Soon the voices approached, and
Bussy could see M. de Monsoreau bowing and retiring, and he heard
the duke say:
"Adieu, my friend."
"My friend!" murmured Bussy.
Then Monsoreau said, "Your highness agrees with me that publicity
"Yes, yes; an end to all mysteries."
"Then this evening I will present her to the king."
"Do so; I will prepare him."
"Gentlemen," then said Monsoreau, turning towards those in the
corridor, "allow me to announce to you a secret; monseigneur
permits me to make public my marriage with Mademoiselle Diana
de Meridor, who has been my wife for more than a month, and whom
I intend this evening to present to the court."
Bussy, who had been hidden behind a door, staggered, and almost
fell at this unexpected blow. However, he darted a glance of
contempt at the duke, towards whom he made a step, but he, in
terror, shut his door, and Bussy heard the key turn in the lock.
Feeling that if he stayed a moment longer he should betray before
everyone the violence of his grief, he ran downstairs, got on
his horse, and galloped to the Rue St. Antoine. The baron and
Diana were eagerly waiting for him, and they saw him enter pale
"Madame," cried he, "hate me, despise me; I believed I could do
something and I can do nothing. Madame, you are now the recognized
wife of M. de Monsoreau, and are to be presented this evening.
I am a fool--a miserable dupe, or rather, as you said, M. le
Baron, the duke is a coward and a villain."
And leaving the father and daughter overcome with grief, he rushed
WHAT PASSED BETWEEN M. DE MONSOREAU AND THE DUKE.
It is time to explain the duke's sudden change of intention with
regard to M. de Monsoreau. When he first received him, it was
with dispositions entirely favorable to Bussy's wishes.
"Your highness sent for me?" said Monsoreau.
"You have nothing to fear, you who have served me so well, and
are so much attached to me. Often you have told me of the plots
against me, have aided my enterprises forgetting your own interests,
and exposing your life."
"Even lately, in this last unlucky adventure----"
"What adventure, monseigneur?"
"This carrying off of Mademoiselle de Meridor--poor young creature!"
"Alas!" murmured Monsoreau.
"You pity her, do you not?" said the duke.
"Does not your highness?"
"I! you know how I have regretted this fatal caprice. And, indeed,
it required all my friendship for you, and the remembrance of
all your good services, to make me forget that without you I
should not have carried off this young girl."
Monsoreau felt the blow. "Monseigneur," said he, "your natural
goodness leads you to exaggerate, you no more caused the death
of this young girl than I did."
"You did not intend to use violence to Mademoiselle de Meridor."
"Then the intention absolves you; it is a misfortune, nothing
"And besides," said the duke, looking at him, "death has buried
all in eternal silence."
The tone of his voice and his look struck Monsoreau. "Monseigneur,"
said he, after a moment's pause, "shall I speak frankly to you?"
"Why should you hesitate?" said the prince, with astonishment
mingled with hauteur.
"Indeed, I do not know, but your highness has not thought fit
to be frank with me."
"Really!" cried the duke, with an angry laugh.
"Monseigneur, I know what your highness meant to say to me."
"Your highness wished to make me understand that perhaps Mademoiselle
de Meridor was not dead, and that therefore those who believed
themselves her murderers might be free from remorse."
"Oh, monsieur, you have taken your time before making this consoling
reflection to me. You are a faithful servant, on my word; you
saw me sad and afflicted, you heard me speak of the wretched
dreams I had since the death of this woman, and you let me live
thus, when even a doubt might have spared me so much suffering.
How must I consider this conduct, monsieur?"
"Monseigneur, is your highness accusing me?"
"Traitor!" cried the duke, "you have deceived me; you have taken
from me this woman whom I loved----"
Monsoreau turned pale, but did not lose his proud, calm look.
"It is true," said he.
"Please to speak lower, monseigneur; your highness forgets, that
you speak to a gentleman and an old servant."
The duke laughed.
"My excuse is," continued he, "that I loved Mademoiselle de Meridor
"I, also," replied Francois, with dignity.
"It is true, monseigneur; but she did not love you."
"And she loved you?"
"You lie! you know you lie! You used force as I did; only I, the
master, failed, while you, the servant, succeeded by treason."
"Monseigneur, I loved her."
"What do I care?"
"Monseigneur, take care. I loved her, and I am not a servant.
My wife is mine, and no one can take her from me, not even the
king. I wished to have her, and I took her."
"You took her! Well! you shall give her up."
"You are wrong, monseigneur. And do not call," continue he, stopping
him, "for if you call once--if you do me a public injury----"
"You shall give up this woman."
"Give her up! she is my wife before God----"
"If she is your wife before God, you shall give her up before
men. I know all, and I will break this marriage, I tell you.
To-morrow, Mademoiselle de Meridor shall be restored to her father;
you shall set off into the exile I impose on you; you shall have
sold your place; these are my conditions, and take care, or I will
break you as I break this glass." And he threw down violently
a crystal cup.
"I will not give up my wife, I will not give up my place, and
I will remain in France," replied Monsoreau.
"You will not?"
"No, I will ask my pardon of the King of France--of the king
anointed at the Abbey of St. Genevieve; and this new sovereign
will not, I am sure, refuse the first request proffered to him."
Francois grew deadly pale, and nearly fell.
"Well, well," stammered he, "this request, speak lower--I listen."
"I will speak humbly, as becomes the servant of your highness.
A fatal love was the cause of all. Love is the most imperious
of the passions. To make me forget that your highness had cast
your eyes on Diana, I must have been no longer master of myself."
"It was a treason."
"Do not overwhelm me, monseigneur; I saw you rich, young and
happy, the first Christian prince in the world. For you are so,
and between you and supreme rank there is now only a shadow easy
to dispel. I saw all the splendor of your future, and, comparing
your proud position with my humble one, I said, 'Leave to the
prince his brilliant prospects and splendid projects, scarcely
will he miss the pearl that I steal from his royal crown.'"
"You pardon me, monseigneur, do you not?"
At this moment the duke raised his eyes, and saw Bussy's portrait
on the wall. It seemed to exhort him to courage, and he said, "No,
I cannot pardon you; it is not for myself that I hold out, it is
because a father in mourning--a father unworthily deceived--cries
out for his daughter; because a woman, forced to marry you, cries
for vengeance against you; because, in a word, the first duty
of a prince is justice."
"Monseigneur, if justice be a duty, gratitude is not less so;
and a king should never forget those to whom he owes his crown.
Now, monseigneur, you owe your crown to me."
"Monsoreau!" cried the duke, in terror.
"But I cling to those only who cling to me."
"I cannot--you are a gentleman, you know I cannot approve of
what you have done. My dear count, this one more sacrifice; I
will recompense you for it; I will give you all you ask."
"Then your highness loves her still!" cried Monsoreau, pale with
"No, I swear I do not."
"Then, why should I? I am a gentleman; who can enter into the
secrets of my private life?"
"But she does not love you."
"Do this for me, Monsoreau."
"Then----" commenced the duke, who was terribly perplexed.
"You will denounce me?"
"To the king dethroned for you, yes; for if my new king destroyed
my honor and happiness, I would return to the old."
"It is infamous."
"True, sire; but I love enough to be infamous."
"It is cowardly."
"Yes, your majesty, but I love enough to be cowardly. Come,
monseigneur, do something for the man who has served you so well."
"What do you want?"
"That you should pardon me."
"That you should reconcile me with M. de Meridor."
"I will try."
"That you will sign my marriage contract with Mademoiselle de
"Yes," said the prince, in a hoarse voice.
"And that you shall honor my wife with a smile when I shall present
her to his majesty."
"Yes; is that all?"
"You have my word."
"And you shall keep the throne to which I have raised you.--There
remains now, only," thought Monsoreau, "to find out who told
CHICOT AND THE KING.
That same evening M. de Monsoreau presented his wife in the queen's
circle. Henri, tired, had gone to bed, but after sleeping three or
four hours, he woke, and feeling no longer sleepy, proceeded to
the room where Chicot slept, which was the one formerly occupied
by St. Luc; Chicot slept soundly, and the king called him three
times before he woke. At last he opened his eyes and cried out,
"What is it?"
"Chicot, my friend, it is I."
"Decidedly, my son, the pheasants must have disagreed with you;
I warned you at supper, but you would eat so much of them, as
well as of those crabs."
"No; I scarcely tasted them."
"Then you are poisoned, perhaps. Ventre de biche! how pale you
"It is my mask," said the king.
"Then you are not ill?"
"Then why wake me?"
"Because I am annoyed."
"Annoyed! if you wake a man at two o'clock in the morning, at
least you should bring him a present. Have you anything for me?"
"No; I come to talk to you."
"That is not enough."
"Chicot, M. de Morvilliers came here last evening."
"To ask for an audience. What can he want to say to me, Chicot?"
"What! it is only to ask that, that you wake me?"
"Chicot, you know he occupies himself with the police."
"No; I did not know it."
"Do you doubt his watchfulness?"
"Yes, I do, and I have my reasons."
"What are they?"
"Will one suffice you?"
"Yes, if it be good."
"And you will leave me in peace afterwards?"
"Well, one day--no, it was one evening, I beat you in the Rue
Foidmentel; you had with you Quelus and Schomberg."
"You beat me?"
"Yes, all three of you."
"How, it was you! wretch!"
"I, myself," said Chicot, rubbing his hands, "do I not hit hard?"
"You confess, it was true?"
"You know it is, villain."
"Did you send for M. de Morvilliers the next day?"
"You know I did, for you were there when he came."
"And you told him the accident that had happened to one of your
"And you ordered him to find out the criminal?"
"Did he find him?"
"Well, then, go to bed, Henri; you see your police is bad." And,
turning round, Chicot refused to say another word, and was soon
The next day the council assembled. It consisted of Quelus, Maugiron,
D'Epernon, and Schomberg. Chicot, seated at the head of the table,
was making paper boats, and arranging them in a fleet. M. de
Morvilliers was announced, and came in, looking grave.
"Am I," said he, "before your majesty's council?"
"Yes, before my best friends; speak freely."
"Well, sire, I have a terrible plot to denounce to your majesty."
"A plot!" cried all.
"Yes, your majesty."
"Oh, is it a Spanish plot?"
At this moment the Duc d'Anjou, who had been summoned to attend
the council, entered.
"My brother," said Henri, "M. de Morvilliers comes to announce
a plot to us."
The duke threw a suspicious glance round him. "Is it possible?"
"Alas, yes, monseigneur," said M. de Morvilliers.
"Tell us all about it," said Chicot.
"Yes," stammered the duke, "tell us all about it, monsieur."
"I listen," said Henri.
"Sire, for some time I have been watching some malcontents, but
they were shopkeepers, or junior clerks, a few monks and students."
"That is not much," said Chicot.
"I know that malcontents always make use either of war or of
"Very sensible!" said the king.
"I put men on the watch, and at last I succeeded in persuading
a man from the provosty of Paris to watch the preachers, who go
about exciting the people against your majesty. They are prompted
by a party hostile to your majesty, and this party I have studied,
and now I know their hopes," added he, triumphantly. "I have men
in my pay, greedy, it is true, who, for a good sum of money,
promised to let me know of the first meeting of the conspirators."
"Oh! never mind money, but let us hear the aim of this conspiracy."
"Sire, they think of nothing less than a second St. Bartholomew."
"Against the Huguenots."
"What have you paid for your secret?" said Chicot.
"One hundred and sixty thousand livres."
Chicot turned to the king, saying, "If you like, for one thousand
crowns, I will tell you all the secrets of M. de Morvilliers."
"It is simply the League, instituted ten years ago; M. de Morvilliers
has discovered what every Parisian knows as well as his _ave_."
"Monsieur," interrupted the chancellor.
"I speak the truth, and I will prove it," cried Chicot.
"Tell me, then, their place of meeting."
"Firstly, the public streets; secondly, the public streets."
"M. Chicot is joking," said the chancellor; "tell me their rallying
"They are dressed like Parisians, and shake their legs when they
A burst of laughter followed this speech; then M. de Morvilliers
said, "They have had one meeting-place which M. Chicot does not
"Where?" asked the king.
"The Abbey of St. Genevieve."
"Impossible!" murmured the duke.
"It is true," said M. de Morvilliers, triumphantly.
"What did they decide?" asked the king.
"That the Leaguers should choose chiefs, that every one should
arm, that every province should receive a deputy from the
conspirators, and that all the Huguenots cherished by his majesty
(that was their expression)----"
The king smiled.
"Should be massacred on a given day."
"Is that all?" said the duke.
"I should hope not," said Chicot; "if the king got only that
for one hundred and sixty thousand livres, it would be a shame."
"There are chiefs----"
The Duc d'Anjou could not repress a start.
"What!" cried Chicot, "a conspiracy that has chiefs! how wonderful!
But we ought to have more than that for one hundred and sixty
"Their names?" asked the king.
"Firstly, a fanatic preacher; I gave ten thousand livres for his
"A monk called Gorenflot."
"Poor devil!" said Chicot.
"Gorenflot?" said the king, writing down the name; "afterwards----"
"Oh!" said the chancellor, with hesitation, "that is all." And
he looked round as if to say, "If your majesty were alone, you
should hear more."
"Speak, chancellor," said the king, "I have none but friends here."
"Oh! sire, I hesitate to pronounce such powerful names."
"Are they more powerful than I am?" cried the king.
"No, sire; but one does not tell secrets in public."
"Monsieur," said the Duc d'Anjou, "we will retire."
The king signed to the chancellor to approach him, and to the
duke to remain. M. de Morvilliers had just bent over the king to
whisper his communication, when a great clamor was heard in the
court of the Louvre. The king jumped up, but Chicot, running to
the window, called out, "It is M. de Guise entering the Louvre."
"The Duc de Guise," stammered the Duc d'Anjou.
"How strange that he should be in Paris," said the king, reading
the truth in M. de Morvilliers' look. "Was it of him you were
about to speak?" he asked.
"Yes, sire; he presided over the meeting."
"And the others?"
"I know no more."
"You need not write that name on your tablets! you will not forget
it," whispered Chicot.
The Duc de Guise advanced, smiling, to see the king.
WHAT M. DE GUISE CAME TO DO AT THE LOUVRE.
Behind M. de Guise there entered a great number of officers,
courtiers, and gentlemen, and behind them a concourse of the
people; an escort less brilliant, but more formidable, and it was
their cries that had resounded as the duke entered the Louvre.
"Ah! it is you, my cousin," said the king; "what a noise you bring
with you! Did I not hear the trumpets sound?"
"Sire, the trumpets sound in Paris only for the king, and in
campaigns for the general. Here the trumpets would make too much
noise for a subject; there they do not make enough for a prince."
Henri bit his lips. "Have you arrived from the siege of La Charite
"Only to-day, sire," replied the duke, with a heightened color.
"Ma foi! your visit is a great honor to us."
"Your majesty jests, no doubt. How can my visit honor him from
whom all honor comes?"
"I mean, M. de Guise," replied Henri, "that every good Catholic
is in the habit, on returning from a campaign, to visit God first
in one of his temple's--the king only comes second. 'Honor God,
serve the king,' you know, my cousin."
The heightened color of the duke became now still more distinct;
and the king, happening to turn towards his brother, saw with
astonishment, that he was as pale as the duke was red. He was
struck by this emotion in each, but he said:
"At all events, duke, nothing equals my joy to see that you have
escaped all the dangers of war, although you sought them, I was
told in the rashest manner; but danger knows you and flies you."
The duke bowed.
"But I must beg you, my cousin, not to be so ambitious of mortal
perils, for you put to shame sluggards like us, who sleep, eat,
and invent new prayers."
"Yes, sire," replied the duke, "we know you to be a pious prince,
and that no pleasure can make you forget the glory of God and
the interests of the Church. That is why we have come with so
much confidence to your majesty."
"With confidence! Do you not always come to me with confidence,
"Sire, the confidence of which I speak refers to the proposition
I am about to make to you."
"You have a proposition to make to me! Well, speak, as you say,
with confidence. What have you to propose?"
"The execution of one of the most beautiful ideas which has been
originated since the Crusades."
"Sire, the title of most Christian king is not a vain one; it
makes an ardent zeal for religion incumbent on its possessor."
"Is the Church menaced by the Saracens once more?"
"Sire, the great concourse of people who followed me, blessing
my name, honored me with this reception only because of my zeal
to defend the Church. I have already had the honor of speaking
to your majesty of an alliance between all true Catholics."
"Yes, yes," said Chicot, "the League; ventre de biche, Henri,
the League. By St. Bartholomew! how can you forget so splendid
an idea, my son?"
The duke cast a disdainful glance on Chicot, while d'Anjou, who
stood by, as pale as death, tried by signs, to make the duke stop.
"Look at your brother, Henri," whispered Chicot.
"Sire," continued the Duc de Guise, "the Catholics have indeed
called this association the Holy League, and its aim is to fortify
the throne against the Huguenots, its mortal enemies; but to
form an association is not enough, and in a kingdom like France,
several millions of men cannot assemble without the consent of
"Several millions!" cried Henri, almost with terror.
"Several millions!" repeated Chicot; "a small number of malcontents,
which may bring forth pretty results."
"Sire," cried the duke, "I am astonished that your majesty allows
me to be interrupted so often, when I am speaking on serious
Back to Full Books