Chicot the Jester
Alexandre Dumas

Part 8 out of 12



When the duke and Bussy were left alone, the duke said, "Let us

Francois, who was very quick, had perceived that Bussy had made
more advances to him than usual, therefore he judged that he was
in some embarrassing situation, and that he might, by a little
address, get an advantage over him. But Bussy had had time to
prepare himself, and he was quite ready.

"Yes, let us talk, monseigneur," replied he.

"The last day I saw you, my poor Bussy, you were very ill."

"It is true, monseigneur, I was very ill, and it was almost a
miracle that saved me."

"There was near you a doctor very devoted to you, for he growled
at everyone who approached you."

"True, prince, Remy loves me."

"He kept you rigorously to your bed, did he not?"

"At which I was in a great rage, as your highness might have seen."

"But, if that were the case, why did you not send the doctor to
the devil, and come out with me as I begged you to do? But as
it was a grave affair, you were afraid to compromise yourself."

"Did you say I was afraid?"

"I did say so."

"Well, then, it was a lie!" said Bussy, jumping up from his chair;
you lied to yourself, monseigneur, for you do not believe a single
word of what you say. There are twenty scars on my body, which
prove the contrary. I never knew fear, and, ma foi, I know people
who cannot say the same."

"You have always unanswerable arguments, M. de Bussy," cried the
duke, turning very pale; "when you are accused, you cry louder
than your accuser, and then you think you are right."

"Oh! I am not always right, I know well, but I know on what occasions
I am wrong."

"And what are they?"

"When I serve ungrateful people."

"Really, monsieur, I think you forget yourself," said the duke,
with some dignity. Bussy moved towards the door, but the prince
stopped him.

"Do you deny, monsieur," said he, "that after refusing to go out
with me, you went out immediately after?"

"I deny nothing, monseigneur, but I will not be forced to

"Tell me why you would not go out with me."

"I had business."

"At home?"

"Or elsewhere."

"I thought that when a gentleman was in the service of a prince,
his principal business was that of the prince."

"And who does your business generally, monseigneur, if not I?"

"I do not say no; generally I find you faithful and devoted, and,
I will say more, I excuse your bad humor."

"You are very good."

"Yes, for you had some reason to be angry."

"Ah! you confess it."

"Yes, I promised you the disgrace of M. de Monsoreau. It seems
you hate him very much."

"I! not at all. I find him very ugly, and should have liked him
away from court, not to have had to look at him. It seems, however,
that you admire him, and there is no accounting for tastes."

"Well, then, as that was your sole excuse, you were doubly wrong
to refuse to accompany me, and then to go out after, and commit

"Follies! what did I do?"

"Doubtless, you do not like MM. d'Epernon and Schomberg, neither
do I, but one must have some prudence. Kill them, and I should
be grateful to you, but do not exasperate them."

"What did I do to them?"

"Why, you had D'Epernon stoned."


"Yes, so that his clothes were torn to pieces."

"Good! and what about M. Schomberg?"

"You will not deny that you had him dyed indigo color? When I
saw him three hours after, he was still bright blue. Do you call
that a joke?" And the prince laughed in spite of himself, and
Bussy joined him.

"Then," said he, "they think it was I who played them these tricks!"

"Perhaps it was I."

"And you have the conscience to reproach a man who had such fine

"Well, I pardon you. But I have another complaint to make. What
did you do to deliver me from my unlucky situation?"

"You see, I came to Anjou."

"It seems to me that you would have been more useful nearer."

"Ah! there we differ; I preferred coming to Anjou."

"Your caprice is a bad reason."

"But, if I came to gather your partisans?"

"Ah! that is different. What have you done?"

"I will explain that to you to-morrow; at present I must leave


"I have to see an important person."

"Oh, very well; but be prudent."

"Prudent! are we not the strongest here?"

"Never mind, risk nothing. Have you done much?"

"I have only been here two days."

"But you keep yourself concealed, I hope."

"I should think so. Look at my dress; am I in the habit of wearing
cinnamon-colored clothes?"

"And where are you lodging?"

"Ah! I hope you will appreciate my devotion; in a tumble-down
old house, near the ramparts. But you, my prince, how did you
get out of the Louvre? How was it that I found you on the road,
with M. d'Aubigne for a companion?"

"Because I have friends."

"You! friends!"

"Yes, friends that you do not know."

"Well, and who are they?"

"The King of Navarre and D'Aubigne, whom you saw."

"The King of Navarre! Ah! true, did you not conspire together?"

"I never conspired, M. de Bussy."

"No; ask poor La Mole and Coconnas."

"La Mole," said the prince, gloomily, "died for another crime
than the one alleged against him."

"Well, never mind him. How the devil did you get out of the Louvre?"

"Through the window."

"Which window?"

"That of my bedroom."

"Then you knew of the rope-ladder?"

"What rope-ladder?"

"In the cupboard."

"Ah! it seems you knew it," cried the prince, turning pale.

"Oh! your highness knows I have sometimes had the happiness of
entering that room."

"In the time of my sister Margot. Then you came in by the window?"

"As you came out. All that astonishes me is, that you knew of
the ladder."

"It was not I who found it."

"Who then?"

"I was told of it."

"By whom?"

"By the King of Navarre."

"Ah! the King of Navarre knew of it; I should not have thought
so. However, now you are here safe and sound, we will put Anjou
in flames, and Bearn and Angoumois will catch the light, so we
shall have a fine blaze."

"But did you not speak of a rendezvous?"

"It is true; the interest of the conversation was making me forget.
Adieu, monseigneur."

"Do you take your horse?"

"If it will be useful to you, monseigneur, you may keep it, I
have another."

"Well! I accept; we will settle that later."

The duke gave Bussy his hand, and they separated.



Bussy returned home, but instead of St. Luc, whom he expected,
he found only a letter fixing their meeting for the next day.
About six in the morning St. Luc started, and rode straight to
Bussy's house.

"Accept the hospitality of my poor hut, St. Luc," said Bussy,
"I am encamped here."

"Yes, like a conqueror on the field of battle."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, dear Bussy, that my wife has no secrets from me, and
has told me all. Receive my compliments, but, since you have
sent for me, permit me to give you a piece of advice."


"Get rid as soon as possible of that abominable Monsoreau; no
one at the court knows of your love for his wife, so when you
marry the widow, no one will say you killed him on purpose."

"There is but one obstacle to this project, which presented itself
to my mind, as to yours."

"What is it?"

"That I have sworn to Diana to respect the life of her husband,
as long as he does not attack me."

"You were very wrong."

"Why so?"

"Because if you do not take the initiative, he will discover you,
and will kill you."

"I cannot break my oath to Diana. Besides, he who is now a monster
in all eyes, would be thought an angel in his tomb."

"Therefore I do not advise you to kill him yourself."

"Oh, St. Luc, no assassins."

"Who spoke of assassins?"

"Of what then?"

"Nothing; an idea passed through my mind; I will tell you what
it was at another time. I do not love this Monsoreau much more
than you, although I have not the same reason to detest him,
so let us speak of the wife instead of the husband."

Bussy smiled. "You are a capital companion, St Luc," said he,
"and you may count on my friendship. Now my friendship consists
of three things, my purse, my sword, and my life. Now, what about

"I wished to ask if you were not coming to Meridor."

"My dear friend, I thank you, but you know my scruples."

"I know all. At Meridor you fear to meet Monsoreau, although
he is eighty leagues off; fear to have to shake his hand, and
it is hard to shake the hand of the man you wish to strangle;
you fear to see him embrace Diana, and it is hard to see that
of the woman you love."

"Ah! how well you understand!" cried Bussy, with rage; "but,
my dear friend, did you not hear last night the noise of bells
and guns?"

"Yes; and we wondered what it meant."

"It meant that the Duc d'Anjou arrived last night."

St. Luc jumped up. "The duke here! We heard he was imprisoned
at the Louvre."

"That is just why he is now at Angers. He managed to escape through
a window, and came here."


"Well, here is an excellent opportunity to revenge yourself for
the king's persecutions. The prince has already a party, he will
soon have troops, and we shall have something like a little civil

"Oh! oh!"

"And I reckoned on you to help us."

"Against the king?" said St. Luc, with sudden coldness.

"Not precisely against the king, but against those who fight against

"My dear Bussy, I came here for country air, not to fight against
his majesty."

"But let me present you to monseigneur."

"Useless, my dear Bussy, I do not like Angers."

"My dear St. Luc, you will do me a great service by consenting;
the duke asked me what I came here for, and, not being able to
tell because of his own passion for Diana, I said that I had
come to draw to his cause all the gentlemen in the Canton; I even
told him I had a rendezvous with one this morning."

"Well! tell him you have seen the gentleman, and that he asks
six months to consider. Listen, I will always help you to defend
Diana, you shall help me to defend my wife. We will make a treaty
for love, but not for politics."

"I see, I must yield to you, St. Luc, for you have the advantage
over me. I want you, and you do not want me."

"On the contrary, it is I who claim your protection."

"How so?"

"Suppose the rebels besiege and sack Meridor."

The two friends laughed; then, as the duke had sent to inquire
for Bussy, they separated with renewed promises of friendship,
and charmed with each other.

Bussy went to the ducal palace, where already all the nobility of
the provinces were arriving. He hastened to arrange an official
reception, a repast and speeches, and having thus cut out some
hours' occupation for the prince, mounted his other horse, and
galloped to Meridor. The duke made some good speeches, and produced
a great effect, giving himself out for a prince persecuted by
the king on account of the love of the Parisians for him. When
Bussy returned, it was four in the afternoon; he dismounted,
and presented himself to the duke all covered with dust.

"Ah! my brave Bussy, you have been at work?"

"You see, monseigneur."

"You are very hot."

"I have ridden fast."

"Take care not to get ill again."

"There is no danger."

"Whence do you come?"

"From the environs. Is your highness content? have you had a numerous

"Yes, I am pretty well satisfied, but I missed some one."


"Your protege, the Baron de Meridor."

Bussy changed color.

"And yet we must not neglect him," continued the duke, "he is
influential here."

"You think so?"

"I am sure of it. He was the correspondent of the League at Angers,
chosen by M. de Guise, and the Guises choose their men well. He
must come, Bussy."

"But if he does not come?"

"I will go to him."

"To Meridor?"

"Why not?"

"Oh, why not, certainly," cried Bussy, with flashing eyes, "a
prince may do anything."

"Then you think he is still angry with me?"

"How should I know?"

"You have not seen him?"


"As one of the great men of the province, I thought----"

"I was not sufficiently fortunate in the former promises I made
him to be in a hurry to present myself to him."

"Has he not attained his object?"

"How so?"

"He wanted his daughter to marry the count, and she has done so."

Bussy turned his back on the duke, who, at the same moment, moved
towards another gentleman who entered the room. Bussy began to
reflect on what the duke's projects were with regard to the
baron--whether they were purely political, or whether he was still
seeking to approach Diana; but he imagined that, embroiled with
his brother, banished from the Louvre, and the chief of provincial
insurrection, he had sufficiently grave interests at stake to
outweigh his love fancies. He passed the night banqueting with
the duke and the Angevin gentlemen, then in dancing with the
Angevin ladies. It is needless to say that he was the admiration
of the latter, and the hatred of the husbands, several of whom
looked at him in a way which did not please him, so that, curling
his mustachios, he invited three or four of them to take a walk
with him by moonlight; but his reputation had preceded him, and
they all declined.

At the door Bussy found a laughing face waiting for him, which
he believed to be eighty leagues off.

"Ah," cried he joyfully, "it is you, Remy."

"Yes monsieur."

"I was going to write to you to join me."


"On my word."

"That is capital; I was afraid you would scold me."

"For what?"

"For coming without leave. But I heard that Monsieur le Duc d'Anjou
had escaped, and had fled here. I knew you were here also, and I
thought there might be civil war, and many holes made in skins,
so I came."

"You did well, Remy; I wanted you."

"How is Gertrude, monsieur?"

"I will ask Diana the first time I see her."

"And, in return, every time I see her I will ask for news of Madame
de Monsoreau."

"You are charming."

Meanwhile they had reached Bussy's lodging.

"Here is my palace; you must lodge as you can."

"It will not be difficult; I could sleep standing, I am so tired."

Bussy rose early the next morning, and went to the ducal palace,
leaving word for Remy to follow him. The duke had prepared a
list of important things to be done: firstly, a walk round the
walls to examine the fortifications; secondly, a review of the
inhabitants and their arms; thirdly, a visit to the arsenal;
fourthly, correspondence.

"Ah!" cried the duke, "you already!"

"Ma foi! yes, monseigneur; I could not sleep, your highness's
interests were so much on my mind. What shall we do this morning?
Shall we hunt?"

"How!" said the duke, "you pretend to have been thinking all
night of my interests, and the result of so much meditation is
to propose to me a hunt!"

"True," said Bussy; "besides, we have no hounds."

"And no chief huntsman."

"Ah, ma foi! the chase would be more agreeable without him."

"Ah, I am not like you--I want him; he would have been very useful
to us here."

"How so?"

"He has property here."


"He or his wife."

Bussy bit his lips.

"Meridor is only three leagues off, you know that," continued
the duke, "you, who brought the old baron to me."

"Dame! I brought him because he hung on to my cloak. However,
my protection did not do him much good."

"Listen," said the duke, "I have an idea."

"Diable!" said Bussy, who was always suspicious of the duke's

"Yes; it is that, if Monsoreau had the advantage over you at first,
you shall have it now."

"What do you mean?"

"It is very simple; you know me, Bussy?"

"I have that misfortune."

"Think you I am the man to submit to an affront with impunity?"

"Explain yourself, monseigneur."

"Well, he stole the young girl I loved to make her his wife; now
I will steal his wife!"

Bussy tried to smile, but made a grimace instead.

"Steal his wife!" stammered he.

"Nothing more easy, she is here, and you told me she hated her
husband; therefore, without too much vanity, I may flatter myself
she will give me the preference, if I promise her----"

"What, monseigneur?"

"To get rid of her husband for her."

"You will do that?"

"You shall see. Meanwhile I will pay a visit to Meridor."

"You will dare?"

"Why not?"

"You will present yourself before the old baron, whom you abandoned
after promising me----"

"I have an excellent excuse to give him."

"Where the devil will you find it?"

"Oh! I will say to him, I did not break this marriage, because
Monsoreau, who knew that you were one of the principal agents
to the League, threatened to denounce you to the king."

"Has your highness invented that?"

"Not entirely."

"Then I understand."

"Yes, I shall make him believe that by marrying his daughter I
saved his life."

"It is superb."

"Well! order the horses, and we will go to Meridor."

"Immediately, monseigneur." Bussy then went to the door, but
turned back and said, "How many horses will your highness have?"

"Oh, four or five, what you like."

"If you leave it to me, I shall take a hundred."

"What for?" cried the prince, surprised.

"To have at least twenty-five I can rely on in case of attack."


"Yes, I have heard that there are thick woods in that neighborhood,
and it would not surprise me if we fell into some ambush."

"Ah, do you think so?"

"Monseigneur knows that true courage does not exclude prudence;
I will order one hundred and fifty."

And he moved towards the door.

"A moment," said the prince. "Do you think I am in safety at Angers?"

"Why, the town is not very strong, but well defended----"

"Yes, but it may be badly defended; however brave you are, you
can be but in one place at a time."


"Then if I am not in safety here--and I am not if Bussy doubts----"

"I did not say I doubted."

"If I am not safe, I had better make myself so. I will go to the
castle and entrench myself."

"You are right, monseigneur."

"And then another idea."

"The morning is fruitful."

"I will make the Meridors come here."

"Monseigneur, you are grand to-day. Now let us visit the castle."

Bussy went out while the prince was getting ready, and found
Remy waiting. He wrote hastily a little note, picked a bunch of
roses from the conservatory, rolled the note round the stems,
went to the stable, brought out his horse, and, putting Remy
on it, and giving him the bouquet, led him out of the city.

"Now," said he, "let Roland go; at the end of this road you will
find the forest, in the forest a park, round the park a wall,
and at that part of the wall where Roland stops, throw over this

"He whom you expect does not come," said the note, "because he
who was not expected has come, and is more menacing than ever,
for he loves still. Take with the lips and the heart all that
is invisible to the eyes in this paper."

In half an hour Remy reached his destination, carried by his
horse, and threw over the bouquet; a little cry from the other
side told him it had been received. Then Remy returned, in spite
of his horse, which seemed much put out at losing its accustomed
repast on the acorns. Remy joined Bussy as he was exploring a
cave with the prince.

"Well," said he to his messenger, "what did you hear or see?"

"A wall, a cry, seven leagues," replied Remy laconically.



Bussy contrived to occupy the duke so well with his preparations
for war during two days, that he found no time to think of Meridor,
and from time to time, under pretext of examining the outer
fortifications, jumped on Roland, and arrived at a certain wall,
which he got over all the more quickly because each time he made
some stone fall, and was, in fact, gradually making a breach.

Towards the end of the third day, as an enormous convoy of provisions
was entering the city, the produce of a tax levied by the duke
on his good Angevins, as M. d'Anjou, to make himself popular,
was tasting the black bread and salt fish of the soldiers, they
heard a great noise at one of the gates of the city, where a man,
mounted on a white horse, had presented himself. Now Bussy had
had himself named Captain-General of Anjou, and had established
the most severe discipline in Angers; no one could go out of or
enter the town without a password; all which had no other aim
than to prevent the duke from sending a messenger to Meridor
without his knowledge.

The man on the white horse had arrived at a furious gallop, and
had attempted to enter, but had been stopped.

"I am Antragues," said he, "and desire to speak to the Duc d'Anjou."

"We do not know Antragues," they replied, "but as for seeing
the duke, you shall be satisfied, for we shall arrest you, and
conduct you to him."

"You are a nice fellow, truly, to talk of arresting Charles Balzac
d'Antragues, Baron de Cuneo, and Comte de Graville."

"We will do so, however," replied the bourgeois, who had twenty
men behind him.

"Wait a little, my good friends. You do not know the Parisians.
Well, I will show you a specimen of what they can do."

"Let us arrest him!" cried the furious militia.

"Softly, my little lambs of Anjou; it is I who will have that

"What does he say?" asked the bourgeois.

"He says that his horse has only gone ten leagues, and will ride
over you all." And drawing his sword and swinging it furiously
round, he cut off in his passage the blades of the nearest halberts,
and in less than ten minutes fifteen or twenty of them were changed
into broom-handles.

"Ah! this is very amusing!" cried he, laughing, and as he spoke
stunning one of the bourgeois with a blow on the head with the
flat of his sword. However, as more and more bourgeois crowded
to the attack, and Antragues began to feel tired, he said, "Well,
you are as brave as lions; I will bear witness to it; but, you
see, you have nothing left but the handles of your halberts,
and you do not know how to load your muskets. I had resolved
to enter the city, but I did not know it was guarded by an army
of Casars. I renounce my victory over you. Good evening, I am
going away; only tell the prince that I came here expressly to
see him."

However, the captain had managed to communicate the fire to the
match of his musket, but just as he was raising it to his shoulder,
Antragues gave him such a furious blow upon the fingers that he
dropped it.

"Kill him! kill him!" cried several voices, "do not let him escape!"

"Ah!" said Antragues, "just now you would not let me come in,
now you will not let me go out. Take care, that will change my
tactics, and instead of the flat of my sword, I will use the
point--instead of cutting the halberts, I will cut the wrists.
Now, will you let me go?"

"No, no, he is tired, kill him!"

"Well, then, take care of your hands!"

Scarcely had he spoken when another cavalier appeared, riding
furiously also, and who cried out as he approached:

"Antragues, what are you doing among all these bourgeois?"

"Livarot!" cried Antragues. "Mon Dieu, you are welcome; Montjoie
and St. Denis, to the rescue!"

"I heard four hours ago that you were before me, and I have been
trying to catch you. But what is the matter; do they want to
massacre you?"

"Yes, they will neither let me in nor out."

"Gentlemen!" said Livarot, "will you please to step either to
the right or left, and let us pass."

"They insult us! kill them!" cried the people.

"Oh! this is Angers' manners!" said Livarot, drawing his sword.

"Yes, you see; unluckily, there are so many of them."

"If there were but three of us!"

"And here is Ribeirac coming."

"Do you hear him?"

"I see him. Here, Ribeirac!"

"Are you fighting?" cried Ribeirac.

"Good morning, Livarot; good morning, Antragues."

"Let us charge them," said Antragues.

The bourgeois looked in stupefaction at this reinforcement that
was about to join the attacking party.

"They are a regiment," said the captain of the militia.

"This is only the advanced guard," cried another.

"We are fathers of families, and our lives belong to our children,"
said others, and they all tried to fly, fighting with each other
to get out of the way.

At this stage of the affair Bussy and the prince arrived, followed
by twenty cavaliers, to ascertain the cause of the tumult. They
were told that it was three incarnate devils from Paris who were
making all the disturbance.

"Three men, Bussy; see who they are."

Bussy raised himself in his stirrups, and his quick eye soon
recognized Livarot.

"Mort de ma vie, monseigneur," cried he, "they are our friends
from Paris who are besieging us."

"No!" cried Livarot, "on the contrary, it is these people who
are killing us."

"Down with your arms, knaves," cried the duke, "these are friends."

"Friends!" cried the bourgeois, "then they should have had the
password; for we have been treating them like Pagans and they
us like Turks."

Livarot, Antragues, and Ribeirac advanced in triumph to kiss the
duke's hand.

"Monseigneur," said Bussy, "how many militia do you think there
were here?"

"At least one hundred and fifty."

"You have not very famous soldiers, since three men beat them."

"True, but I shall have the three men who did beat them."



Thanks to the reinforcement which had arrived, M. le Duc d'Anjou
could go where he pleased; he explored the ramparts of the
surrounding country and castles. The Angevin gentlemen found
liberty and amusement at the court of the duke, and the three
friends were soon intimate with many of these nobles, especially
those who had pretty wives. The general joy was at its height
when twenty-two riding horses, thirty carriage horses, and forty
mules, together with litters, carriages and wagons, arrived at
Angers, all the property of the duke. We must allow that the
saddles were not paid for, and that the coffers were empty, but
still it made a magnificent effect. The duke's reputation for
wealth was henceforward solidly established, and all the province
remained convinced that he was rich enough to war against all
Europe if need were, therefore they did not grudge the new tax
which the prince imposed upon them. People never mind giving or
lending to rich people, only to poor ones; therefore the worthy
prince lived like a patriarch on all the fat of the land. Numerous
cavaliers arrived to offer to him their adhesions, or their offers
of service. One afternoon, however, about four o'clock, M. de
Monsoreau arrived on horseback at the gates of Angers. He had
ridden eighteen leagues that day; therefore his spurs were red,
and his horse covered with foam, and half dead. They no longer
made difficulties about letting strangers enter, therefore M.
de Monsoreau went straight through the city to the palace, and
asked for the duke.

"He is out reconnoitering," replied the sentinel.


"I do not know."

"Diable! What I have to say to him is very pressing."

"First put your horse in the stable, or he will fall."

"The advice is good; where are the stables?"

As he spoke a man approached and asked for his name. M. de Monsoreau
gave it. The major-domo (for it was he) bowed respectfully, for
the chief huntsman's name was well known in Anjou.

"Monsieur," said he, "please to enter and take some repose.
Monseigneur has not been out more than ten minutes, and will not
be back till eight o'clock."

"Eight o'clock! I cannot wait so long; I am the bearer of news
which cannot be too soon known to his highness. Can I not have
a horse and a guide?"

"There are plenty of horses, but a guide is a different thing,
for his highness did not say where he was going."

"Well, I will take a fresh horse, and try to discover him."

"Probably you will hear where he has passed, monsieur."

"Do they ride fast?"

"Oh no."

"Well, get me a horse then."

"Will monsieur come into the stables and choose one? they all
belong to the duke." Monsoreau entered. Ten or twelve fine horses,
quite fresh, were feeding from the manger, which was filled with

Monsoreau looked over them, and then said, "I will take this bay."


"Is that his name?"

"Yes, and it is his highness's favorite horse. M. de Bussy gave
him to the duke, and it is quite a chance that it is here to-day."

Ronald was soon saddled, and Monsoreau rode out of the stable.

"In which direction did they start?" asked he.

The man pointed it out.

"Ma foi!" said Monsoreau, "the horse seems to know the way."

Indeed, the animal set off without being urged, and went deliberately
out of the city, took a short cut to the gate, and then began to
accelerate his pace: Monsoreau let him go. He went along the
boulevard, then turned into a shady lane, which cut across the
country, passing gradually from a trot to a gallop.

"Oh!" thought Monsoreau, as they entered the woods, "one would
say we were going to Meridor. Can his highness be there?" and
his face grew black at the thought.

"Oh!" murmured he, "I who was going to see the prince, and putting
off till to-morrow to see my wife; shall I see them both at the
same time?"

The horse went on, turning always to the right.

"We cannot be far from the park," said he.

At that moment his horse neighed, and another answered him. In
a minute Monsoreau saw a wall, and a horse tied to a neighboring

"There is some one," thought he, turning pale.



As M. de Monsoreau approached, he remarked the dilapidation of
the wall; it was almost in steps, and the brambles had been torn
away, and were lying about. He looked at the horse standing there.
The animal had a saddle-cloth embroidered in silver, and in one
corner an F. and an A. There was no doubt, then, that it came
from the prince's stables; the letters stood for Francois d'Anjou.
The count's suspicions at this sight became real alarm; the duke
had come here, and had come often, for, besides the horse waiting
there, there was a second that knew the way. He tied up his horse
near to the other, and began to scale the wall. It was an easy
task; there were places for both feet and hands, and the branches
of an oak-tree, which hung over, had been carefully cut away.
Once up, he saw at the foot of a tree a blue mantilla and a black
cloak, and not far off a man and woman, walking hand in hand,
with their backs turned to the wall, and nearly hidden by the
trees. Unluckily, with M. de Monsoreau's weight a stone fell
from the wall on the crackling branches with a great noise.

At this noise the lovers must have turned and seen him, for the
cry of a woman was heard, and a rustling of the branches as they
ran away like startled deer. At this cry, Monsoreau felt cold
drops on his forehead, for he recognized Diana's voice. Full of
fury, he jumped over the wall, and with his drawn sword in his
hand, tried to follow the fugitives, but they had disappeared,
and, there was not a trace or a sound to guide him. He stopped,
and considered that he was too much under the influence of passion
to act with prudence against so powerful a rival. Then a sublime
idea occurred to him; it was to climb back again over the wall,
and carry off with his own the horse he had seen there. He retraced
his steps to the wall and climbed up again; but on the other
side no horse was to be seen; his idea was so good, that before
it came to him it had come to his adversary. He uttered a howl
of rage, clenching his fists, but started off at once on foot.
In two hours and a half, he arrived at the gates of the city,
dying with hunger and fatigue, but determined to interrogate
every sentinel, and find out by what gate a man had entered with
two horses. The first sentinel he applied to said that, about
two hours before, a horse without a rider had passed through
the gate, and had taken the road to the palace; he feared some
accident must have happened to his rider. Monsoreau ground his
teeth with passion, and went on to the castle. There he found great
life and gaiety, windows lighted up, and animation everywhere. He
went first to the stable, and found his horse in the stall he
had taken him from; then, without changing his dress, he went
to the dining-room. The prince and all his gentlemen were sitting
round a table magnificently served and lighted. The duke, who
had been told of his arrival, received him without surprise,
and told him to sit down and sup with him.

"Monseigneur," replied he, "I am hungry, tired, and thirsty; but
I will neither eat, drink, nor sit down till I have delivered
my important message."

"You come from Paris?"

"Yes, in great haste."

"Well, speak."

Monsoreau advanced, with a smile on his lips and hatred In his
heart, and said, "Monseigneur, your mother is advancing hastily
to visit you."

The duke looked delighted. "It is well," said he; "M. de Monsoreau,
I find you to-day, as ever, a faithful servant; let us continue
our supper, gentlemen."

Monsoreau sat down with them, but gloomy and preoccupied. He
still seemed to see the two figures among the trees, and to hear
the cry of Diana.

"You are overcome with weariness," said the prince to him, "really,
you had better go to bed."

"Yes," said Livarot, "or he will go to sleep in his chair."

"Pardon, monseigneur, I am tired out."

"Get tipsy," said Antragues; "there is nothing so good when you
are tired. To your health, count!"

"You must give us some good hunts," said Ribeirac, "you know the

"You have horses and woods here," said Antragues.

"And a wife," added Livarot.

"We will hunt a boar, count," said the prince.

"Oh, yes, to-morrow!" cried the gentlemen.

"What do you say, Monsoreau?"

"I am always at your highness's orders, but I am too much fatigued
to conduct a chase to-morrow; besides which, I must examine the

"And we must leave him time to see his wife," cried the duke.

"Granted," cried the young men; "we give him twenty-four hours
to do all he has to do."

"Yes, gentlemen, I promise to employ them well."

"Now go to bed," said the duke, and M. de Monsoreau bowed, and
went out, very happy to escape.



When Monsoreau had retired, the repast continued, and was more
gay and joyous than ever.

"Now, Livarot," said the duke, "finish the recital of your flight
from Paris, which Monsoreau interrupted."

Livarot began again, but as our title of historian gives us the
privilege of knowing better than Livarot himself what had passed,
we will substitute our recital for that of the young man.

Towards the middle of the night Henri III. was awoke by an
unaccustomed noise in the palace. It was oaths, blows on the
wall, rapid steps in the galleries, and, amidst all, these words
continually sounding, "What will the king say?"

Henri sat up and called Chicot, who was asleep on the couch.

Chicot opened one eye.

"Ah, you were wrong to call me, Henri," said he; "I was dreaming
that you had a son."

"But listen."

"To what? You say enough follies to me by day, without breaking
in on my nights."

"But do you not hear?"

"Oh, oh! I do hear cries."

"Do you hear, 'What will the king say?'"

"It is one of two things--either your dog Narcissus is ill, or
the Huguenots are taking their revenge for St. Bartholomew."

"Help me to dress."

"If you will first help me to get up."

"What a misfortune!" sounded from the antechamber.

"Shall we arm ourselves?" said the king.

"We had better go first and see what is the matter."

And almost immediately they went out by the secret door into the
gallery. "I begin to guess," said Chicot; "your unlucky prisoner
has hanged himself."

"Oh, no; it cannot be that."

"So much the worse."

"Come on;" and they entered the duke's chamber.

The window was open, and the ladder still hung from it. Henri
grew as pale as death.

"Oh, my son, you are not so blase as I thought!" said Chicot.

"Escaped!" cried Henri, in such a thundering voice that all the
gentlemen who were crowded round the window turned in terror.
Schomberg tore his hair, Quelus and Maugiron struck themselves
like madmen; as for D'Epernon, he had vanished. This sight calmed
the king.

"Gently, my son," said he, laying hold of Maugiron.

"No! mordieu!" cried he, "I will kill myself!" and he knocked
his head against the wall.

"Hola! help me to hold him."

"It would be an easier death to pass your sword through your body!"
said Chicot.

"Quelus, my child," said the king, "you will be as blue as Schomberg
when he came out of the indigo."

Quelus stopped, but Schomberg still continued to tear at his hair.

"Schomberg, Schomberg, a little reason, I beg."

"It is enough to drive one mad!"

"Indeed, it is a dreadful misfortune; there will be a civil war
in my kingdom. Who did it--who furnished the ladder? Mordieu!
I will hang all the city! Who was it? Ten thousand crowns to
whoever will tell me his name, and one hundred thousand to whoever
will bring him to me, dead or alive!"

"It must have been some Angevin," said Maugiron.

"Oh yes! we will kill all the Angevins!" cried Quelus. However,
the king suddenly disappeared; he had thought of his mother,
and, without saying a word, went to her. When he entered, she
was half lying in a great armchair: She heard the news without

"You say nothing, mother. Does not this flight seem to you criminal,
and worthy of punishment?"

"My dear son, liberty is worth as much as a crown; and remember,
I advised you to fly in order to gain a crown."

"My mother, he braves me--he outrages me!"

"No; he only saves himself."

"Ah! this is how you take my part."

"What do you mean, my son?"

"I mean that with age the feelings grow calm--that you do not
love me as much as you used to do."

"You are wrong, my son," said Catherine coldly; "you are my beloved
son, but he of whom you complain is also my son."

"Well, then, madame, I will go to find other counselors capable
of feeling for me and of aiding me."

"Go, my son; and may God guide your counselors, for they will
have need of it to aid you in this strait."

"Adieu, then, madame!"

"Adieu, Henri! I do not pretend to counsel you--you do not need
me, I know--but beg your counselors to reflect well before they
advise, and still more before they execute."

"Yes, madame, for the position is difficult."

"Very grave," replied she, raising her eyes to heaven.

"Have you any idea who it was that carried him off?" Catherine
did not reply.

"I think it was the Angevins," continued the king.

Catherine smiled scornfully.

"The Angevins!"

"You do not think so?"

"Do you, really?"

"Tell me what you think, madame."

"Why should I?"

"To enlighten me."

"Enlighten you! I am but a doting old woman, whose only influence
lies in her prayers and repentance."

"No, mother; speak, you are the cleverest of us all."

"Useless; I have only ideas of the last century; at my age it
is impossible I should give good counsel."

"Well, then, mother, refuse me your counsel, deprive me of your
aid. In an hour I will hang all the Angevins in Paris."

"Hang all the Angevins!" cried Catherine, in amazement.

"Yes, hang, slay, massacre, burn; already, perhaps, my friends
are out to begin the work."

"They will ruin themselves, and you with them."

"How so?"

"Blind! Will kings eternally have eyes, and not see?"

"Kings must avenge their injuries, it is but justice, and in this
case all my subjects will rise to defend me."

"You are mad."

"Why so?"

"You will make oceans of blood flow. The standard of revolt will
soon be raised; and you will arm against you a host who never
would rise for Francois."

"But if I do not revenge myself they will think I am afraid."

"Did any one ever think I was afraid? Besides, it was not the

"Who was it then? it must have been my brother's friends."

"Your brother has no friends."

"But who was it then?"

"Your enemy."

"What enemy?"

"O! my son, you know you have never had but one; yours, mine,
your brother Charles's; always the same."

"Henri of Navarre, you mean?"

"Yes, Henri of Navarre."

"He is not at Paris."

"Do you know who is at Paris, and who is not? No, you are all
deaf and blind."

"Can it have been he?"

"My son, at every disappointment you meet with, at every misfortune
that happens to you of which the author is unknown, do not seek
or conjecture; it is useless. Cry out, it is Henri of Navarre,
and you will be sure to be right. Strike on the side where he
is, and you will be sure to strike right. Oh! that man, that
man; he is the sword suspended over the head of the Valois."

"Then you think I should countermand my orders about the Angevins?"

"At once, without losing an instant. Hasten; perhaps you are already
too late."

Henry flew out of the Louvre to find his friends, but found only
Chicot drawing figures in the sand with a stone.



"Is this how you defend your king?" cried Henri.

"Yes, it is my manner, and I think it is a good one."

"Good, indeed!"

"I maintain it, and I will prove it."

"I am curious to hear this proof."

"It is easy; but first, we have committed a great folly."

"How so?" cried Henri, struck by the agreement between Chicot
and his mother.

"Yes," replied Chicot, "your friends are crying through the city,
'Death to the Angevins!' and now that I reflect, it was never
proved that they had anything to do with the affair. And your
friends, crying thus through the city, will raise that nice little
civil war of which MM. de Guise have so much need, and which
they did not succeed in raising for themselves. Besides which,
your friends may get killed, which would not displease me, I
confess, but which would afflict you, or else they will chase
all the Angevins from the city, which will please M. d'Anjou

"Do you think things are so bad?"

"Yes, it not worse."

"But all this does not explain what you do here, sitting on a

"I am tracing a plan of all the provinces that your brother will
raise against you, and the number of men each will furnish to
the revolt."

"Chicot, Chicot, you are a bird of bad augury."

"The owl sings at night, my son, it is his hour. Now it is dark,
Henri, so dark that one might take the day for the night, and
I sing what you ought to hear. Look!"

"At what?"

"My geographical plan. Here is Anjou, something like a tartlet,
you see; there your brother will take refuge. Anjou, well managed,
as Monsoreau and Bussy will manage it, will alone furnish to
your brother ten thousand combatants."

"Do you think so?"

"That is the minimum; let us pass to Guyenne; here it is, this
figure like a calf walking on one leg. Of course, you will not
be astonished to find discontent in Guyenne; it is an old focus
for revolt, and will be enchanted to rise. They can furnish 8,000
soldiers; that is not much, but they are well trained. Then we
have Bearn and Navarre; you see these two compartments, which look
like an ape on the back of an elephant--they may furnish about
16,000. Let us count now--10,000 for Anjou, 8,000 for Guyenne,
16,000 for Bearn and Navarre; making a total of 34,000."

"You think, then, that the King of Navarre will join my brother?"

"I should think so."

"Do you believe that he had anything to do with my brother's escape?"

Chicot looked at him. "That is not your own idea, Henri."

"Why not?"

"It is too clever, my son."

"Never mind whose idea it was; answer my question."

"Well! I heard a 'Ventre St. Gris' in the Rue de la Ferronnerie."

"You heard a 'Ventre St. Gris!' But it might not have been he."

"I saw him."

"You saw Henri of Navarre in Paris?"


"You saw my mortal enemy here, and did not tell me?"

"I am not a spy. Then there are the Guises; 20,000 or 25,000
men under the orders of the Duc de Guise will make up altogether
a nice little army."

"But Henri of Navarre and the Duc de Guise are enemies."

"Which will not prevent them from uniting against you; they will
be free to fight with each other when they have conquered you."

"You are right, Chicot, and my mother is right. I will call the

"Oh, yes! Quelus has got them."

"My guards, then."

"Schomberg has them."

"My household at least."

"They have gone with Maugiron."

"Without my orders?"

"And when do you ever give orders, except, perhaps, to flagellate
either your own skin, or that of others?--But about government.--Bah!
allow me to observe that you have been a long time finding out
that you rank seventh or eighth in this kingdom."

"Here they are!" cried the king, as three cavaliers approached,
followed by a crowd of men on foot and on horseback.

"Schomberg! Quelus! come here," cried the king. They approached.

"I have been seeking you, and waiting for you impatiently. What
have you done? Do not go away again without my permission."

"There is no more need," said Maugiron, who now approached, "since
all is finished."

"All is finished?"

"Heaven be praised," said D'Epernon, appearing all at once, no
one knew from whence.

"Then you have killed them?" cried the king; "well, at least the
dead do not return."

"Oh! we had not that trouble; the cowards ran away, we had scarcely
time to cross our swords with them."

Henri grew pale. "With whom?" said he.

"With Antragues?"

"On the contrary, he killed a lackey of Quelus's."

"Oh!" murmured the king, "here is a civil war lighted up."

Quelus started. "It is true," said he.

"Ah" said Chicot. "You begin to perceive it, do you?"

"But, M. Chicot, you cried with us, 'Death to the Angevins!'"

"Oh! that is a different thing; I am a fool, and you are clever

"Come, peace, gentlemen; we shall have enough of war soon."

"What are your majesty's orders?"

"That you employ the same ardor in calming the people as you have
done in exciting them, and that you bring back all the Swiss,
my guards, and my household, and have the doors of the Louvre
closed, so that perhaps tomorrow the bourgeois may take the whole
thing for a sortie of drunken people."

The young men went off, and Henri returned to his mother.

"Well," said she, "what has passed?"

"All you foresaw, mother."

"They have escaped?"

"Alas! yes."

"What else?"

"Is not that enough?"

"The city?"

"Is in tumult; but that is not what disquiets me."

"No, it is the provinces."

"Which will revolt."

"What shall you do?"

"I see but one thing."

"What is that?"

"To withdraw the army from La Charite, and march on Anjou."

"And M. de Guise?"

"Oh, I will arrest him if necessary."

"And you think violent measures will succeed?"

"What can I do, then?"

"Your plan will not do."

"Well, what is your idea?"

"Send an ambassador."

"To whom?"

"To your brother."

"An ambassador to that traitor! You humiliate me, mother."

"This is not a moment to be proud."

"An ambassador will ask for peace?"

"Who will buy it if necessary."

"With what? mon Dieu!"

"If it were only to secure quietly, afterwards, those who have
gone to make war on you."

"I would give much for that."

"Well, then, the end is worth the means."

"I believe you are right, mother; but whom shall I send?"

"Seek among your friends."

"My mother, I do not know a single man to whom I could confide
such a mission."

"Confide it to a woman, then."

"My mother, would you consent?"

"My son, I am very old, and very weak, and death will perhaps
await me on my return; but I will make this journey so rapidly
that your brother and his friends will not have had time to learn
their own power."

"Oh, my good mother!" cried Henri, kissing her hands, "you are
my support, my benefactress!"

"That means that I am still Queen of France," murmured she.



The next morning, M. de Monsoreau rose early, and descended into
the courtyard of the palace. He entered the stable, where Roland
was in his place.

"Are the horses of monseigneur taught to return to their stable
alone?" asked he of the man who stood there.

"No, M. le Comte."

"But Roland did so yesterday."

"Oh, he is remarkably intelligent."

"Has he ever done it before?"

"No, monsieur; he is generally ridden by the Duc d'Anjou, who
is a good rider, and never gets thrown."

"I was not thrown," replied the count, "for I also am a good
rider; no, I tied him to a tree while I entered a house, and
at my return he had disappeared. I thought he had been stolen,
or that some passer-by had played a bad joke by carrying him
away; that was why I asked how he returned to the stable."

"He returned alone, as monsieur said just now."

"It is strange. Monseigneur often rides this horse, you say?"

"Nearly every day."

"His highness returned late last night?"

"About an hour before you."

"And what horse did he ride? was it a bay with a white star on
his forehead?"

"No, monsieur, he rode Isolin, which you see here."

"And in the prince's escort is there any one who rides such a
horse as I describe?"

"I know of no one."

"Well," said Monsoreau, impatiently, "saddle me Roland."


"Yes, are there any orders against it?"

"No; on the contrary, I was told to let you have any horse you

When Roland was saddled, Monsoreau said to the man, "What are
your wages?"

"Twenty crowns, monsieur."

"Will you earn ten times that sum at once?"

"I ask no better. But how?"

"Find out who rode yesterday the horse I described."

"Ah, monsieur, what you ask is very difficult, there are so many
gentlemen come here."

"Yes, but two hundred crowns are worth some trouble."

"Certainly, M. le Comte, and I will do my best to discover."

"That is right, and here are ten crowns to encourage you."

"Thanks, M. le Comte."

"Well, tell the prince I have gone to reconnoiter the wood for
the chase."

As he spoke he heard steps behind him, and turned.

"Ah, M. de Bussy!" he cried.

"Why, M. le Comte, who would have thought of seeing you here!"

"And you, who they said was so ill."

"So I am; my doctor orders absolute rest, and for a week I have
not left the city. Ah! you are going to ride Roland; I sold him
to the duke, who is very fond of him."

"Yes, he is an excellent animal; I rode him yesterday."

"Which makes you wish for him again to-day?"


"You were speaking of a chase."

"Yes, the prince wishes for one."

"Whereabouts is it to be?"

"Near Meridor. Will you come with me?"

"No, thank you, I do not feel well."

"Oh!" cried a voice from behind, "there is M. de Bussy out without

"Ah! there is my doctor scolding. Adieu, comte."

Bussy went away, and Monsoreau jumped into the saddle.

"What is the matter?" said Remy; "you look so pale, I believe
you are really ill."

"Do you know where he is going?"


"To Meridor."

"Well, did you hope he would not?"

"Mon Dieu! what will happen, after what he saw yesterday?"

"Madame de Monsoreau will deny everything."

"But he saw her."

"She will say he did not."

"She will never have the courage."

"Oh, M. de Bussy, is it possible you do not know women better
than that!"

"Remy, I feel very ill."

"So I see. Go home, and I will prescribe for you."


"A slice of fowl and ham, and some lobster."

"Oh, I am not hungry."

"The more reason I should order you to eat."

"Remy, I fear that that wretch will make a great scene at Meridor.
I ought to have gone with him when he asked me."

"What for?"

"To sustain Diana."

"Oh, she will sustain herself. Besides, you ought not to be out;
we agreed you were too ill."

"I could not help it, Remy, I was so unquiet."

Remy carried him off, and made him sit down to a good breakfast.

M. de Monsoreau wished to see if it were chance or habit that
had led Roland to the park wall; therefore he left the bridle on
his neck. Roland took precisely the same road as on the previous
day, and before very long M. de Monsoreau found himself in the
same spot as before. Only now the place was solitary, and no
horse was there. The count climbed the wall again, but no one
was to be seen; therefore, judging that it was useless to watch
for people on their guard, he went on to the park gates. The
baron, seeing his son-in-law coming over the drawbridge, advanced
ceremoniously to meet him. Diana, seated under a magnificent
sycamore, was reading poetry, while Gertrude was embroidering
at her side. The count, seeing them, got off his horse, and
approached them.

"Madame," said he, "will you grant me the favor of an interview?"

"Willingly, monsieur."

"What calm, or rather what perfidy!" thought the count.

"Do you do us the honor of remaining at the chat?" asked the baron.

"Yes, monsieur, until to-morrow, at least."

The baron went away to give orders, and Diana reseated herself,
while Monsoreau took Gertrude's chair, and, with a look sufficient
to intimidate most people, said:

"Madame, who was in the park with you yesterday?"

"At what time?" said Diana, in a firm voice.

"At six."


"Near the copse."

"It must have been some one else, it was not I."

"It was you, madame."

"What do you know about it?"

"Tell me the man's name!" cried Monsoreau, furiously.

"What man?"

"The man who was walking with you."

"I cannot tell, if it was some other woman."

"It was you, I tell you."

"You are wrong, monsieur."

"How dare you deny it? I saw you."

"You, monsieur?"

"Yes, madame, myself. And there is no other lady here."

"You are wrong again; there is Jeanne de Brissac."

"Madame de St. Luc?"

"Yes, my friend."

"And M. de St. Luc?"

"Never leaves her; theirs was a love-match; you must have seen

"It was not them; it was you, with some man whom I do not know,
but whom I will know, I swear. I heard your cry."

"When you are more reasonable, monsieur, I shall be ready to hear
you; at present I will retire."

"No, madame, you shall stay."

"Monsieur, here are M. and Madame de St. Luc, I trust you will
contain yourself."

Indeed, M. and Madame de St. Luc approached. She bowed to Monsoreau,
and St. Luc gave him his hand; then, leaving his wife to Monsoreau,
took Diana, and after a walk they returned, warned by the bell for
dinner, which was early at Meridor, as the baron preserved the
old customs. The conversation was general, and turned naturally
on the Duc d'Anjou, and the movement his arrival had caused.
Diana sat far from her husband, between St. Luc and the baron.



When the repast was over, Monsoreau took St. Luc's arm and went
out. "Do you know," said he, "that I am very happy to have found
you here, for the solitude of Meridor frightened me."

"What, with your wife? As for me, with such a companion I should
find a desert delightful."

"I do not say no, but still----"

"Still, what?"

"I am very glad to have met you here."

"Really, monsieur, you are very polite, for I cannot believe
that you could possibly fear ennui with such a companion, and
such a country."

"Bah! I pass half my life in the woods."

"The more reason for being fond of them, it seems to me. I know
I shall be very sorry to leave them; unluckily, I fear I shall
be forced to do so before long."

"Why so?"

"Oh! monsieur, when is man the arbiter of his own destiny? He
is like the leaf of the tree, which the wind blows about. You
are very fortunate."

"Fortunate; how?"

"To live amongst these splendid trees."

"Oh! I do not think I shall stay here long; I am not so fond
of nature, and I fear these woods; I think they are not safe."

"Why? on account of their loneliness, do you mean?"

"No, not that, for I suppose you see friends here."

"Not a soul."

"Ah! really. How long is it since you had any visitor?"

"Not since I have been here."

"Not one gentleman from the court at Angers?"

"Not one."


"It is true."

"Then I am wrong."

"Perfectly; but why is not the park safe, are there bears here?"

"Oh, no."




"Perhaps. Tell me, monsieur, Madame de St. Luc seemed to me very
pretty; is she not?"

"Why, yes."

"Does she often walk in the park?"

"Often; she adores the woods, like myself."

"And do you accompany her?"


"Nearly always?"

"What the devil are you driving at?"

"Oh; mon Dieu, nothing; or, at least, a trifle."

"I listen."

"They told me----"


"You will not be angry?"

"I never am so."

"Besides, between husbands, these confidences are right; they
told me a man had been seen wandering in the park."

"A man."


"Who came for my wife?"

"Oh! I do not say that."

"You would be wrong not to tell me, my dear Monsoreau. Who saw
him? pray tell me."

"Oh! to tell you the truth, I do not think it was for Madame de
St. Luc that he came."

"For whom, then?"

"Ah! I fear it is for Diana."

"Oh! I should like that better."


"Certainly; you know we husbands are an egotistical set. Everyone
for himself, and God for us all."

"The devil rather."

"Then you think a man entered here?"

"I think so."

"And I do more than think," said St. Luc, "for I saw him."

"You saw a man in the park?"





"With Madame de Monsoreau."


Back to Full Books