Cinq Mars, entire
Alfred de Vigny
Part 4 out of 8
Cold, fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.
What do I fear? Myself?
I love myself!
Hardly was the Cardinal in his tent before he dropped, armed and
cuirassed, into a great armchair; and there, holding his handkerchief to
his mouth with a fixed gaze, he remained in this attitude, letting his
two dark confidants wonder whether contemplation or annihilation
maintained him in it. He was deadly pale, and a cold sweat streamed upon
his brow. In wiping it with a sudden movement, he threw behind him his
red cap, the only ecclesiastical sign which remained upon him, and again
rested with his mouth upon his hands. The Capuchin on one side, and the
sombre magistrate on the other, considered him in silence, and seemed,
with their brown and black costumes like the priest and the notary of a
The friar, drawing from the depth of his chest a voice that seemed better
suited to repeat the service of the dead than to administer consolation,
"If Monseigneur will recall my counsels given at Narbonne, he will
confess that I had a just presentiment of the troubles which this young
man would one day cause him."
The magistrate continued:
"I have learned from the old deaf abbe who dined at the house of the
Marechale d'Effiat, and who heard all, that this young Cinq-Mars
exhibited more energy than one would have imagined, and that he attempted
to rescue the Marechal de Bassompierre. I have still by me the detailed
report of the deaf man, who played his part very well. His Eminence the
Cardinal must be sufficiently convinced by it."
"I have told Monseigneur," resumed Joseph--for these two ferocious Seyds
alternated their discourse like the shepherds of Virgil--"I have told him
that it would be well to get rid of this young D'Effiat, and that I would
charge myself with the business, if such were his good pleasure.
It would be easy to destroy him in the opinion of the King."
"It would be safer to make him die of his wound," answered Laubardemont;
"if his Eminence would have the goodness to command me, I know intimately
the assistant-physician, who cured me of a blow on the forehead, and is
now attending to him. He is a prudent man, entirely devoted to
Monseigneur the Cardinal-Duke, and whose affairs have been somewhat
embarrassed by gambling."
"I believe," replied Joseph, with an air of modesty, mingled with a touch
of bitterness, "that if his Excellency proposed to employ any one in this
useful project, it should be his accustomed negotiator, who has had some
success in the past."
"I fancy that I could enumerate some signal instances," answered
Laubardemont, "and very recent ones, of which the difficulty was great."
"Ah, no doubt," said the father, with a bow and an air of consideration
and politeness, "your most bold and skilfully executed commission was the
trial of Urbain Grandier, the magician. But, with Heaven's assistance,
one may be enabled to do things quite as worthy and bold. It is not
without merit, for instance," added he, dropping his eyes like a young
girl, "to have extirpated vigorously a royal Bourbon branch."
"It was not very difficult," answered the magistrate, with bitterness,
"to select a soldier from the guards to kill the Comte de Soissons; but
to preside, to judge--"
"And to execute one's self," interrupted the heated Capuchin, "is
certainly less difficult than to educate a man from infancy in the
thought of accomplishing great things with discretion, and to bear all
tortures, if necessary, for the love of heaven, rather than reveal the
name of those who have armed him with their justice, or to die
courageously upon the body of him that he has struck, as did one who was
commissioned by me. He uttered no cry at the blow of the sword of
Riquemont, the equerry of the Prince. He died like a saint; he was my
"To give orders is somewhat different from running risk one's self."
"And did I risk nothing at the siege of Rochelle?"
"Of being drowned in a sewer, no doubt," said Laubardemont.
"And you," said Joseph, "has your danger been that of catching your
fingers in instruments of torture? And all this because the Abbess of
the Ursulines is your niece."
"It was a good thing for your brothers of Saint Francis, who held the
hammers; but I--I was struck in the forehead by this same Cinq-Mars, who
was leading an enraged multitude."
"Are you quite sure of that?" cried Joseph, delighted. "Did he dare to
act thus against the commands of the King?" The joy which this discovery
gave him made him forget his anger.
"Fools!" exclaimed the Cardinal, suddenly breaking his long silence, and
taking from his lips his handkerchief stained with blood. "I would
punish your angry dispute had it not taught me many secrets of infamy on
your part. You have exceeded my orders; I commanded no torture,
Laubardemont. That is your second fault. You cause me to be hated for
nothing; that was useless. But you, Joseph, do not neglect the details
of this disturbance in which Cinq-Mars was engaged; it may be of use in
"I have all the names and descriptions," said the secret judge, eagerly,
bending his tall form and thin, olive-colored visage, wrinkled with a
servile smile, down to the armchair.
"It is well! it is well!" said the minister, pushing him back;
"but that is not the question yet. You, Joseph, be in Paris before this
young upstart, who will become a favorite, I am certain. Become his
friend; make him of my party or destroy him. Let him serve me or fall.
But, above all, send me every day safe persons to give me verbal
accounts. I will have no more writing for the future. I am much
displeased with you, Joseph. What a miserable courier you chose to send
from Cologne! He could not understand me. He saw the King too soon,
and here we are still in disgrace in consequence. You have just missed
ruining me entirely. Go and observe what is about to be done in Paris.
A conspiracy will soon be hatched against me; but it will be the last.
I remain here in order to let them all act more freely. Go, both of you,
and send me my valet after the lapse of two hours; I wish now to be
The steps of the two men were still to be heard as Richelieu, with eyes
fixed upon the entrance to the tent, pursued them with his irritated
"Wretches!" he exclaimed, when he was alone, "go and accomplish some
more secret work, and afterward I will crush you, in pure instruments of
my power. The King will soon succumb beneath the slow malady which
consumes him. I shall then be regent; I shall be King of France myself;
I shall no longer have to dread the caprices of his weakness. I will
destroy the haughty races of this country. I will be alone above them
all. Europe shall tremble."
Here the blood, which again filled his mouth, obliged him to apply his
handkerchief to it once more.
"Ah, what do I say? Unhappy victim that I am! Here am I, death-
stricken! My dissolution is near; my blood flows, and my spirit desires
to labor still. Why? For whom? Is it for glory? That is an empty
word. Is it for men? I despise them. For whom, then, since I shall
die, perhaps, in two or three years? Is it for God? What a name!
I have not walked with Him! He has seen all--"
Here he let his head fall upon his breast, and his eyes met the great
cross of gold which was suspended from his neck. He could not help
throwing himself back in his chair; but it followed him. He took it; and
considering it with fixed arid devouring looks, he said in a low voice:
"Terrible sign! thou followest me! Shall I find thee elsewhere--
divinity and suffering? What am I? What have I done?"
For the first time a singular and unknown terror penetrated him. He
trembled, at once frozen and scorched by an invincible shudder. He dared
not lift his eyes, fearing to meet some terrible vision. He dared not
call, fearing to hear the sound of his own voice. He remained profoundly
plunged in meditations on eternity, so terrible for him, and he murmured
the following kind of prayer:
"Great God, if Thou hearest me, judge me then, but do not isolate me
in judging me! Look upon me, surrounded by the men of my generation;
consider the immense work I had undertaken!, Was not an enormous lever
wanted to bestir those masses; and if this lever in falling crushes some
useless wretches, am I very culpable? I seem wicked to men; but Thou,
Supreme judge, dost thou regard me thus?
"No; Thou knowest it is boundless power which makes creature culpable
against creature. It is not Armand de Richelieu who destroys; it is the
Prime-Minister. It is not for his personal injuries; it is to carry out
a system. But a system--what is this word? Is it permitted me to play
thus with men, to regard them as numbers for working out a thought, which
perhaps is false? I overturn the framework of the throne. What if,
without knowing it, I sap its foundations and hasten its fall! Yes, my
borrowed power has seduced me. O labyrinth! O weakness of human
thought! Simple faith, why did I quit thy path? Why am I not a simple
priest? If I dared to break with man and give myself to God, the ladder
of Jacob would again descend in my dreams."
At this moment his ear was struck by a great noise outside--laughter of
soldiers, ferocious shouts and oaths, mingled with words which were a
long time sustained by a weak yet clear voice; one would have said it was
the voice of an angel interrupted by the laughter of demons. He rose and
opened a sort of linen window, worked in the side of his square tent.
A singular spectacle presented itself to his view; he remained some
instants contemplating it, attentive to the conversation which was going
"Listen, listen, La Valeur!" said one soldier to another. "See, she
begins again to speak and to sing!"
"Put her in the middle of the circle, between us and the fire."
"You do not know her! You do not know her!" said another. "But here is
Grand-Ferre, who says that he knows her."
"Yes, I tell you I know her; and, by Saint Peter of Loudun, I will swear
that I have seen her in my village, when I had leave of absence; and it
was upon an occasion at which one shuddered, but concerning which one
dares not talk, especially to a Cardinalist like you."
"Eh! and pray why dare not one speak of it, you great simpleton?" said
an old soldier, twisting up his moustache.
"It is not spoken of because it burns the tongue. Do you understand
"No, I don't understand it."
"Well, nor I neither; but certain citizens told it to me."
Here a general laugh interrupted him.
"Ha, ha, ha! is he a fool?" said one. "He listens to what the
townsfolk tell him."
"Ah, well! if you listen to their gabble, you have time to lose," said
"You do not know, then, what my mother said, greenhorn?" said the
eldest, gravely dropping his eyes with a solemn air, to compel
"Eh! how can you think that I know it, La Pipe? Your mother must have
died of old age before my grandfather came into the world."
"Well, greenhorn, I will tell you! You shall know, first of all, that my
mother was a respectable Bohemian, as much attached to the regiment of
carabineers of La Roque as my dog Canon there. She carried brandy round
her neck in a barrel, and drank better than the best of us. She had
fourteen husbands, all soldiers, who died upon the field of battle."
"Ha! that was a woman!" interrupted the soldiers, full of respect.
"And never once in her life did she speak to a townsman, unless it was to
say to him on coming to her lodging, 'Light my candle and warm my soup.'"
"Well, and what was it that your mother said to you?"
"If you are in such a hurry, you shall not know, greenhorn. She said
habitually in her talk, 'A soldier is better than a dog; but a dog is
better than a bourgeois.'"
"Bravo! bravo! that was well said!" cried the soldier, filled with
enthusiasm at these fine words.
"That," said Grand-Ferre, "does not prove that the citizens who made the
remark to me that it burned the tongue were in the right; besides, they
were not altogether citizens, for they had swords, and they were grieved
at a cure being burned, and so was I."
"Eh! what was it to you that they burned your cure, great simpleton?"
said a sergeant, leaning upon the fork of his arquebus; "after him
another would come. You might have taken one of our generals in his
stead, who are all cures at present; for me, I am a Royalist, and I say
"Hold your tongue!" cried La Pipe; "let the girl speak. It is these
dogs of Royalists who always disturb us in our amusements."
"What say you?" answered Grand-Ferre. "Do you even know what it is to
be a Royalist?"
"Yes," said La Pipe; "I know you all very well. Go, you are for the old
self-called princes of the peace, together with the wranglers against the
Cardinal and the gabelle. Am I right or not?"
"No, old red-stocking. A Royalist is one who is for the King; that's
what it is. And as my father was the King's valet, I am for the King,
you see; and I have no liking for the red-stockings, I can tell you."
"Ah, you call me red-stocking, eh?" answered the old soldier. "You
shall give me satisfaction to-morrow morning. If you had made war in the
Valteline, you would not talk like that; and if you had seen his Eminence
marching upon the dike at Rochelle, with the old Marquis de Spinola,
while volleys of cannonshot were sent after him, you would have nothing
to say about red-stockings."
"Come, let us amuse ourselves, instead of quarrelling," said the other
The men who conversed thus were standing round a great fire, which
illuminated them more than the moon, beautiful as it was; and in the
centre of the group was the object of their gathering and their cries.
The Cardinal perceived a young woman arrayed in black and covered with a
long, white veil. Her feet were bare; a thick cord clasped her elegant
figure; a long rosary fell from her neck almost to her feet, and her
hands, delicate and white as ivory, turned its beads and made them pass
rapidly beneath her fingers. The soldiers, with a barbarous joy, amused
themselves with laying little brands in her way to burn her naked feet.
The oldest took the smoking match of his arquebus, and, approaching it to
the edge of her robe, said in a hoarse voice:
"Come, madcap, tell me your history, or I will fill you with powder and
blow you up like a mine; take care, for I have already played that trick
to others besides you, in the old wars of the Huguenots. Come, sing."
The young woman, looking at him gravely, made no reply, but lowered her
"You don't manage her well," said Grand-Ferre, with a drunken laugh; "you
will make her cry. You don't know the fine language of the court; let me
speak to her." And, touching her on the chin, "My little heart," he
said, "if you will please, my sweet, to resume the little story you told
just now to these gentlemen, I will pray you to travel with me upon the
river Du Tendre, as the great ladies of Paris say, and to take a glass of
brandy with your faithful chevalier, who met you formerly at Loudun, when
you played a comedy in order to burn a poor devil."
The young woman crossed her arms, and, looking around her with an
imperious air, cried:
"Withdraw, in the name of the God of armies; withdraw, impious men!
There is nothing in common between us. I do not understand your tongue,
nor you mine. Go, sell your blood to the princes of the earth at so many
oboles a day, and leave me to accomplish my mission! Conduct me to the
A coarse laugh interrupted her.
"Do you think," said a carabineer of Maurevert, "that his Eminence the
Generalissimo will receive you with your feet naked? Go and wash them."
"The Lord has said, 'Jerusalem, lift thy robe, and pass the rivers of
water,'" she answered, her arms still crossed. "Let me be conducted to
Richelieu cried in a loud voice, "Bring the woman to me, and let her
All were silent; they conducted her to the minister.
"Why," said she, beholding him--"why bring me before an armed man?"
They left her alone with him without answering.
The Cardinal looked at her with a suspicious air. "Madame," said he,
"what are you doing in the camp at this hour? And if your mind is not
disordered, why these naked feet?"
"It is a vow; it is a vow," answered the young woman, with an air of
impatience, seating herself beside him abruptly. "I have also made a vow
not to eat until I have found the man I seek."
"My sister," said the Cardinal, astonished and softened, looking closely
at her, "God does not exact such rigors from a weak body, and
particularly from one of your age, for you seem very young."
"Young! oh, yes, I was very young a few days ago; but I have since
passed two existences at least, so much have I thought and suffered.
Look on my countenance."
And she discovered a face of perfect beauty. Black and very regular eyes
gave life to it; but in their absence one might have thought her features
were those of a phantom, she was so pale. Her lips were blue and
quivering; and a strong shudder made her teeth chatter.
"You are ill, my sister," said the minister, touched, taking her hand,
which he felt to be burning hot. A sort of habit of inquiring concerning
his own health, and that of others, made him touch the pulse of her
emaciated arm; he felt that the arteries were swollen by the beatings of
a terrible fever.
"Alas!" he continued, with more of interest, "you have killed yourself
with rigors beyond human strength! I have always blamed them, and
especially at a tender age. What, then, has induced you to do this? Is
it to confide it to me that you are come? Speak calmly, and be sure of
"Confide in men!" answered the young woman; "oh, no, never! All have
deceived me. I will confide myself to no one, not even to Monsieur Cinq-
Mars, although he must soon die."
"What!" said Richelieu, contracting his brows, but with a bitter laugh,
--"what! do you know this young man? Has he been the cause of your
"Oh, no! He is very good, and hates wickedness; that is what will ruin
him. Besides," said she, suddenly assuming a harsh and savage air, "men
are weak, and there are things which women must accomplish. When there
were no more valiant men in Israel, Deborah arose."
"Ah! how came you with all this fine learning?" continued the Cardinal,
still holding her hand.
"Oh, I can't explain that!" answered she, with a touching air of naivete
and a very gentle voice; "you would not understand me. It is the Devil
who has taught me all, and who has destroyed me."
"Ah, my child! it is always he who destroys us; but he instructs us
ill," said Richelieu, with an air of paternal protection and an
increasing pity. "What have been your faults? Tell them to me; I am
"Ah," said she, with a look of doubt, "you have much influence over
warriors, brave men and generals! Beneath your cuirass must beat a noble
heart; you are an old General who knows nothing of the tricks of crime."
Richelieu smiled; this mistake flattered him.
"I heard you ask for the Cardinal; do you desire to see him? Did you
come here to seek him?"
The girl drew back and placed a finger upon her forehead.
"I had forgotten it," said she; "you have talked to me too much. I had
overlooked this idea, and yet it is an important one; it is for that that
I have condemned myself to the hunger which is killing me. I must
accomplish it, or I shall die first. Ah," said she, putting her hand
beneath her robe in her bosom, whence she appeared to take something,
"behold it! this idea--"
She suddenly blushed, and her eyes widened extraordinarily. She
continued, bending to the ear of the Cardinal:
"I will tell you; listen! Urbain Grandier, my lover Urbain, told me this
night that it was Richelieu who had been the cause of his death. I took
a knife from an inn, and I come here to kill him; tell me where he is."
The Cardinal, surprised and terrified, recoiled with horror. He dared
not call his guards, fearing the cries of this woman and her accusations;
nevertheless, a transport of this madness might be fatal to him.
"This frightful history will pursue me everywhere!" cried he, looking
fixedly at her, and thinking within himself of the course he should take.
They remained in silence, face to face, in the same attitude, like two
wrestlers who contemplate before attacking each other, or like the
pointer and his victim petrified by the power of a look.
In the mean time, Laubardemont and Joseph had gone forth together; and
ere separating they talked for a moment before the tent of the Cardinal,
because they were eager mutually to deceive each other. Their hatred had
acquired new force by their recent quarrel; and each had resolved to ruin
his rival in the mind of his master. The judge then began the dialogue,
which each of them had prepared, taking the arm of the other as by one
and the same movement.
"Ah, reverend father! how you have afflicted me by seeming to take in
ill part the trifling pleasantries which I said to you just now."
"Heavens, no! my dear Monsieur, I am far from that. Charity, where
would be charity? I have sometimes a holy warmth in conversation, for
the good of the State and of Monseigneur, to whom I am entirely devoted."
"Ah, who knows it better than I, reverend father? But render me justice;
you also know how completely I am attached to his Eminence the Cardinal,
to whom I owe all. Alas! I have employed too much zeal in serving him,
since he reproaches me with it."
"Reassure yourself," said Joseph; "he bears no ill-will toward you. I
know him well; he can appreciate one's actions in favor of one's family.
He, too, is a very good relative."
"Yes, there it is," answered Laubardemont; "consider my condition. My
niece would have been totally ruined at her convent had Urbain triumphed;
you feel that as well as I do, particularly as she did not quite
comprehend us, and acted the child when she was compelled to appear."
"Is it possible? In full audience! What you tell me indeed makes me
feel for you. How painful it must have been!"
"More so than you can imagine. She forgot, in her madness, all that she
had been told, committed a thousand blunders in Latin, which we patched
up as well as we could; and she even caused an unpleasant scene on the
day of the trial, very unpleasant for me and the judges--there were
swoons and shrieks. Ah, I swear that I would have scolded her well had I
not been forced to quit precipitately that, little town of Loudun. But,
you see, it is natural enough that I am attached to her. She is my
nearest relative; for my son has turned out ill, and no one knows what
has become of him during the last four years. Poor little Jeanne de
Belfiel! I made her a nun, and then abbess, in order to preserve all for
that scamp. Had I foreseen his conduct, I should have retained her for
"She is said to have great beauty," answered Joseph; "that is a precious
gift for a family. She might have been presented at court, and the King
--Ah! ah! Mademoiselle de la Fayette--eh! eh!--Mademoiselle
d'Hautefort--you understand; it may be even possible to think of it yet."
"Ah, that is like you, Monseigneur! for we know that you have been
nominated to the cardinalate; how good you are to remember the most
devoted of your friends!"
Laubardemont was yet talking to Joseph when they found themselves at the
end of the line of the camp, which led to the quarter of the volunteers.
"May God and his Holy Mother protect you during my absence!" said
Joseph, stopping. "To-morrow I depart for Paris; and as I shall have
frequent business with this young Cinq-Mars, I shall first go to see him,
and learn news of his wound."
"Had I been listened to," said Laubardemont, "you would not now have had
"Alas, you are right!" answered Joseph, with a profound sigh, and
raising his eyes to heaven; "but the Cardinal is no longer the same man.
He will not take advantage of good ideas; he will ruin us if he goes on
And, making a low bow to the judge, the Capuchin took the road which he
had indicated to him.
Laubardemont followed him for some time with his eyes, and, when he was
quite sure of the route which he had taken, he returned, or, rather, ran
back to the tent of the minister. "The Cardinal dismisses him, he tells
me; that shows that he is tired of him. I know secrets which will ruin
him. I will add that he is gone to pay court to the future favorite.
I will replace this monk in the favor of the minister. The moment is
propitious. It is midnight; he will be alone for an hour and a half yet.
Let me run."
He arrived at the tent of the guards, which was before the pavilion.
"Monseigneur gives audience to some one," said the captain, hesitating;
"you can not enter."
"Never mind; you saw me leave an hour ago, and things are passing of
which I must give an account."
"Come in, Laubardemont," cried the minister; "come in quickly, and
He entered. The Cardinal, still seated, held the two hands of the nun in
one of his, and with the other he imposed silence upon his stupefied
agent, who remained motionless, not yet seeing the face of this woman.
She spoke volubly, and the strange things she said contrasted horribly
with the sweetness of her voice. Richelieu seemed moved.
"Yes, I will stab him with a knife. It is the knife which the demon
Behirith gave me at the inn; but it is the nail of Sisera. It has a
handle of ivory, you see; and I have wept much over it. Is it not
singular, my good General? I will turn it in the throat of him who
killed my friend, as he himself told me to do; and afterward I will burn
the body. There is like for like, the punishment which God permitted to
Adam. You have an astonished air, my brave general; but you would be
much more so, were I to repeat to you his song--the song which he sang to
me again last night, at the hour of the funeral-pyre--you understand?--
the hour when it rains, the hour when my hand burns as now. He said to
me: 'They are much deceived, the magistrates, the red judges. I have
eleven demons at my command; and I shall come to see you when the clock
strikes, under a canopy of purple velvet, with torches--torches of resin
to give us light--' Ah, that is beautiful! Listen, listen to what he
And she sang to the air of De Profundis.
"Is it not singular, my good General?" said she, when she had finished;
"and I--I answer him every evening."
"Then he speaks as spirits and prophets speak. He says: 'Woe, woe to him
who has shed blood! Are the judges of the earth gods? No, they are men
who grow old and suffer, and yet they dare to say aloud, Let that man
die! The penalty of death, the pain of death--who has given to man the
right of imposing it on man? Is the number two? One would be an
assassin, look you! But count well, one, two, three. Behold, they are
wise and just, these grave and salaried criminals! O crime, the horror
of Heaven! If you looked upon them from above as I look upon them, you
would be yet paler than I am. Flesh destroys flesh! That which lives by
blood sheds blood coldly and without anger, like a God with power to
The cries which the unhappy girl uttered, as she rapidly spoke these
words, terrified Richelieu and Laubardemont so much that they still
remained motionless. The delirium and the fever continued to transport
"'Did the judges tremble?' said Urbain Grandier to me. 'Did they tremble
at deceiving themselves?' They work the work of the just. The question!
They bind his limbs with ropes to make him speak. His skin cracks, tears
away, and rolls up like a parchment; his nerves are naked, red, and
glittering; his bones crack; the marrow spurts out. But the judges
sleep! they dream of flowers and spring. 'How hot the grand chamber
is!' says one, awaking; 'this man has not chosen to speak! Is the
torture finished?' And pitiful at last, he dooms him to death--death, the
sole fear of the living! death, the unknown world! He sends before him
a furious soul which will wait for him. Oh! has he never seen the
vision of vengeance? Has he never seen before falling asleep the flayed
Already weakened by fever, fatigue, and grief, the Cardinal, seized with
horror and pity, exclaimed:
"Ah, for the love of God, let this terrible scene have an end! Take away
this woman; she is mad!"
The frantic creature turned, and suddenly uttering loud cries, "Ah, the
judge! the judge! the judge!" she said, recognizing Laubardemont.
The latter, clasping his hands and trembling before the Cardinal, said
"Alas, Monseigneur, pardon me! she is my niece, who has lost her reason.
I was not aware of this misfortune, or she would have been shut up long
ago. Jeanne! Jeanne! come, Madame, to your knees! ask forgiveness of
Monseigneur the Cardinal-duc."
"It is Richelieu!" she cried; and astonishment seemed wholly to paralyze
this young and unhappy beauty. The flush which had animated her at first
gave place to a deadly pallor, her cries to a motionless silence, her
wandering looks to a frightful fixedness of her large eyes, which
constantly followed the agitated minister.
"Take away this unfortunate child quickly," said he; "she is dying, and
so am I. So many horrors pursue me since that sentence that I believe
all hell is loosed upon me."
He rose as he spoke; Jeanne de Belfiel, still silent and stupefied, with
haggard eyes, open mouth, and head bent forward, yet remained beneath the
shock of her double surprise, which seemed to have extinguished the rest
of her reason and her strength. At the movement of the Cardinal, she
shuddered to find herself between him and Laubardemont, looked by turns
at one and the other, let the knife which she held fall from her hand,
and retired slowly toward the opening of the tent, covering herself
completely with her veil, and looking wildly and with terror behind her
upon her uncle who followed, like an affrighted lamb, which already feels
at its back the burning breath of the wolf about to seize it.
Thus they both went forth; and hardly had they reached the open air, when
the furious judge caught the hands of his victim, tied them with a
handkerchief, and easily led her, for she uttered no cry, not even a
sigh, but followed him with her head still drooping upon her bosom, and
as if plunged in profound somnambulism.
Meantime, a scene of different nature was passing in the tent of Cinq-
Mars; the words of the King, the first balm to his wounds, had been
followed by the anxious care of the surgeons of the court. A spent ball,
easily extracted, had been the only cause of his accident. He was
allowed to travel and all was ready. The invalid had received up to
midnight friendly or interested visits; among the first were those of
little Gondi and of Fontrailles, who were also preparing to quit
Perpignan for Paris. The ex-page, Olivier d'Entraigues, joined with them
in complimenting the fortunate volunteer, whom the King seemed to have
distinguished. The habitual coldness of the Prince toward all who
surrounded him having caused those who knew of them to regard the few
words he had spoken as assured signs of high favor, all came to
At length, released from visitors, he lay upon his camp-bed. De Thou sat
by his side, holding his hand, and Grandchamp at his feet, still
grumbling at the numerous interruptions that had fatigued his wounded
master. Cinq-Mars himself tasted one of those moments of calm and hope,
which so refresh the soul as well as the body. His free hand secretly
pressed the gold cross that hung next to his heart, the beloved donor of
which he was so soon to behold. Outwardly, he listened with kindly looks
to the counsels of the young magistrate; but his inward thoughts were all
turned toward the object of his journey--the object, also, of his life.
The grave De Thou went on in a calm, gentle voice:
"I shall soon follow you to Paris. I am happier than you at seeing the
King take you there with him. You are right in looking upon it as the
beginning of a friendship which must be turned to profit. I have
reflected deeply on the secret causes of your ambition, and I think I
have divined your heart. Yes; that feeling of love for France, which
made it beat in your earliest youth, must have gained greater strength.
You would be near the King in order to serve your country, in order to
put in action those golden dreams of your early years. The thought is a
vast one, and worthy of you! I admire you; I bow before you. To
approach the monarch with the chivalrous devotion of our fathers, with a
heart full of candor, and prepared for any sacrifice; to receive the
confidences of his soul; to pour into his those of his subjects; to
soften the, sorrows of the King by telling him the confidence his people
have in him; to cure the wounds of the people by laying them open to its
master, and by the intervention of your favor thus to reestablish that
intercourse of love between the father and his children which for
eighteen years has been interrupted by a man whose heart is marble; for
this noble enterprise, to expose yourself to all the horrors of his
vengeance and, what is even worse, to brave all the perfidious calumnies
which pursue the favorite to the very steps of the throne--this dream was
worthy of you.
"Pursue it, my friend," De Thou continued. "Never become discouraged.
Speak loudly to the King of the merit and misfortunes of his most
illustrious friends who are trampled on. Tell him fearlessly that his
old nobility have never conspired against him; and that from the young
Montmorency to the amiable Comte de Soissons, all have opposed the
minister, and never the monarch. Tell him that the old families of
France were born with his race; that in striking them he affects the
whole nation; and that, should he destroy them, his own race will suffer,
that it will stand alone exposed to the blast of time and events, as an
old oak trembling and exposed to the wind of the plain, when the forest
which surrounded and supported it has been destroyed. Yes!" cried De
Thou, growing animated, "this aim is a fine and noble one. Go on in your
course with a resolute step; expel even that secret shame, that shyness,
which a noble soul experiences before it can resolve upon flattering--
upon paying what the world calls its court. Alas, kings are accustomed
to these continual expressions of false admiration for them! Look upon
them as a new language which must be learned--a language hitherto foreign
to your lips, but which, believe me, may be nobly spoken, and which may
express high and generous thoughts."
During this warm discourse of his friend, Cinq-Mars could not refrain
from a sudden blush; and he turned his head on his pillow toward the
tent, so that his face might not be seen. De Thou stopped:
"What is the matter, Henri? You do not answer. Am I deceived?"
Cinq-Mars gave a deep sigh and remained silent.
"Is not your heart affected by these ideas which I thought would have
The wounded man looked more calmly at his friend and said:
"I thought, my dear De Thou, that you would not interrogate me further,
and that you were willing to repose a blind confidence in me. What evil
genius has moved you thus to sound my soul? I am not a stranger to these
ideas which possess you. Who told you that I had not conceived them?
Who told you that I had not formed the firm resolution of prosecuting
them infinitely farther in action than you have put them in words? Love
for France, virtuous hatred of the ambition which oppresses and shatters
her ancient institutions with the axe of the executioner, the firm belief
that virtue may be as skilful as crime,--these are my gods as much as
yours. But when you see a man kneeling in a church, do you ask him what
saint or what angel protects him and receives his prayer? What matters
it to you, provided that he pray at the foot of the altars that you
adore--provided that, if called upon, he fall a martyr at the foot of
those 'altars? When our forefathers journeyed with naked feet toward the
Holy Sepulchre, with pilgrims' staves in their hands, did men inquire the
secret vow which led them to the Holy Land? They struck, they died; and
men, perhaps God himself, asked no more. The pious captain who led them
never stripped their bodies to see whether the red cross and haircloth
concealed any other mysterious symbol; and in heaven, doubtless, they
were not judged with any greater rigor for having aided the strength of
their resolutions upon earth by some hope permitted to a Christian--some
second and secret thought, more human, and nearer the mortal heart."
De Thou smiled and slightly blushed, lowering his eyes.
"My friend," he answered, gravely; "this excitement may be injurious to
you. Let us not continue this subject; let us not mingle God and heaven
in our discourse. It is not well; and draw the coverings over your
shoulder, for the night is cold. I promise you," he added, covering his
young invalid with a maternal care--"I promise not to offend you again
with my counsels."
"And I," cried Cinq-Mars, despite the interdiction to speak, "swear to
you by this gold cross you see, and by the Holy Mary, to die rather than
renounce the plan that you first traced out! You may one day, perhaps,
be forced to pray me to stop; but then it will be too late."
"Very well!" repeated the counsellor, "now sleep; if you do not stop, I
will go on with you, wherever you lead me."
And, taking a prayer-book from his pocket, he began to read attentively;
in a short time he looked at Cinq-Mars, who was still awake. He made a
sign to Grandchamp to put the lamp out of sight of the invalid; but this
new care succeeded no better. The latter, with his eyes still open,
tossed restlessly on his narrow bed.
"Come, you are not calm," said De Thou, smiling; "I will read to you some
pious passage which will put your mind in repose. Ah, my friend, it is
here that true repose is to be found; it is in this consolatory book,
for, open it where you will, you will always see, on the one hand, man in
the only condition that suits his weakness--prayer, and the uncertainty
as to his destiny--and, on the other, God himself speaking to him of his
infirmities! What a glorious and heavenly spectacle! What a sublime
bond between heaven and earth! Life, death, and eternity are there; open
it at random."
"Yes!" said Cinq-Mars, rising with a vivacity which had something boyish
in it; "you shall read to me, but let me open the book. You know the old
superstition of our country--when the mass-book is opened with a sword,
the first page on the left contains the destiny of him who reads, and the
first person who enters after he has read is powerfully to influence the
reader's future fate."
"What childishness! But be it as you will. Here is your sword; insert
the point. Let us see."
"Let me read myself," said Cinq-Mars, taking one side of the book. Old
Grandchamp gravely advanced his tawny face and his gray hair to the foot
of the bed to listen. His master read, stopped at the first phrase, but
with a smile, perhaps slightly forced, he went on to the end.
"I. Now it was in the city of Milan that they appeared.
"II. The high-priest said to them, 'Bow down and adore the gods.'
"III. And the people were silent, looking at their faces, which appeared
as the faces of angels.
"IV. But Gervais, taking the hand of Protais, cried, looking to heaven,
and filled with the Holy Ghost:
"V. Oh, my brother! I see the Son of man smiling upon us; let me die
"VI. For if I see thy blood, I fear I shall shed tears unworthy of the
Lord our God.
"VII. Then Protais answered him in these words:
"VIII. My brother, it is just that I should perish after thee, for I am
older, and have more strength to see thee suffer.
"IX. But the senators and people ground their teeth at them.
"X. And the soldiers having struck them, their heads fell together on
the same stone.
"XI. Now it was in this same place that the blessed Saint Ambroise found
the ashes of the two martyrs which gave sight to the blind."
"Well," said Cinq-Mars, looking at his friend when he had finished, "what
do you say to that?"
"God's will be done! but we should not scrutinize it."
"Nor put off our designs for a child's play," said D'Effiat impatiently,
and wrapping himself in a cloak which was thrown over him. "Remember the
lines we formerly so frequently quoted, 'Justum et tenacem Propositi
viruna'; these iron words are stamped upon my brain. Yes; let the
universe crumble around me, its wreck shall carry me away still
"Let us not compare the thoughts of man with those of Heaven; and let us
be submissive," said De Thou, gravely.
"Amen!" said old Grandchamp, whose eyes had filled with tears, which he
hastily brushed away.
"What hast thou to do with it, old soldier? Thou weepest," said his
"Amen!" said a voice, in a nasal tone, at the entrance of the tent.
"Parbleu, Monsieur! rather put that question to his Gray Eminence, who
comes to visit you," answered the faithful servant, pointing to Joseph,
who advanced with his arms crossed, making a salutation with a frowning
"Ah, it will be he, then!" murmured Cinq-Mars.
"Perhaps I come inopportunely," said Joseph, soothingly.
"Perhaps very opportunely," said Henri d'Effiat, smiling, with a glance
at De Thou. "What can bring you here, Father, at one o'clock in the
morning? It should be some good work."
Joseph saw he was ill-received; and as he had always sundry reproaches to
make himself with reference to all persons whom he addressed, and as many
resources in his mind for getting out of the difficulty, he fancied that
they had discovered the object of his visit, and felt that he should not
select a moment of ill humor for preparing the way to friendship.
Therefore, seating himself near the bed, he said, coldly:
"I come, Monsieur, to speak to you on the part of the Cardinal-
Generalissimo, of the two Spanish prisoners you have made; he desires to
have information concerning them as soon as possible. I am to see and
question them. But I did not suppose you were still awake; I merely
wished to receive them from your people."
After a forced interchange of politeness, they ordered into the tent the
two prisoners, whom Cinq-Mars had almost forgotten.
They appeared--the one, young and displaying an animated and rather wild
countenance, was the soldier; the other, concealing his form under a
brown cloak, and his gloomy features, which had something ambiguous in
their expression, under his broad-brimmed hat, which he did not remove,
was the officer. He spoke first:
"Why do you make me leave my straw and my sleep? Is it to deliver me or
"Neither," said Joseph.
"What have I to do with thee, man with the long beard? I did not see
thee at the breach."
It took some time after this amiable exordium to make the stranger
understand the right a Capuchin had to interrogate him.
"Well," he said, "what dost thou want?"
"I would know your name and your country."
"I shall not tell my name; and as for my country, I have the air of a
Spaniard, but perhaps am not one, for a Spaniard never acknowledges his
Father Joseph, turning toward the two friends, said: "Unless I deceive
myself, I have heard his voice somewhere. This man speaks French without
an accent; but it seems he wishes to give us enigmas, as in the East."
"The East? that is it," said the prisoner. "A Spaniard is a man from
the East; he is a Catholic Turk; his blood either flags or boils; he is
lazy or indefatigable; indolence makes him a slave, ardor a tyrant;
immovable in his ignorance, ingenious in his superstition, he needs only
a religious book and a tyrannical master; he obeys the law of the pyre;
he commands by that of the poniard. At night he falls asleep in his
bloodthirsty misery, nurses fanaticism, and awakes to crime. Who is this
gentleman? Is it the Spaniard or the Turk? Guess! Ah! you seem to
think that I have wit, because I light upon analogy."
"Truly, gentlemen, you do me honor; and yet the idea may be carried much
further, if desired. If I pass to the physical order, for example, may I
not say to you, This man has long and serious features, a black and
almond-shaped eye, rugged brows, a sad and mobile mouth, tawny, meagre,
and wrinkled cheeks; his head is shaved, and he covers it with a black
handkerchief in the form of a turban; he passes the whole day lying or
standing under a burning sun, without motion, without utterance, smoking
a pipe that intoxicates him. Is this a Turk or a Spaniard? Are you
satisfied, gentlemen? Truly, it would seem so; you laugh, and at what do
you laugh? I, who have presented this idea to you--I have not laughed;
see, my countenance is sad. Ah! perhaps it is because the gloomy
prisoner has suddenly become a gossip, and talks rapidly. That is
nothing! I might tell you other things, and render you some service, my
"If I should relate anecdotes, for example; if I told you I knew a priest
who ordered the death of some heretics before saying mass, and who,
furious at being interrupted at the altar during the holy sacrifice,
cried to those who asked for his orders, 'Kill them all! kill them
all!'--should you all laugh, gentlemen? No, not all! This gentleman
here, for instance, would bite his lips and his beard. Oh! it is true
he might answer that he did wisely, and that they were wrong to interrupt
his unsullied prayer. But if I added that he concealed himself for an
hour behind the curtain of your tent, Monsieur de Cinq-Mars, to listen
while you talked, and that he came to betray you, and not to get me, what
would he say? Now, gentlemen, are you satisfied? May I retire after
The prisoner had uttered this with the rapidity of a quack vending his
wares, and in so loud a voice that Joseph was quite confounded. He arose
indignantly at last, and, addressing himself to Cinq-Mars, said:
"How can you suffer a prisoner who should have been hanged to speak to
you thus, Monsieur?"
The Spaniard, without deigning to notice him any further, leaned toward
D'Effiat, and whispered in his ear:
"I can be of no further use to you; give me my liberty. I might ere this
have taken it; but I would not do so without your consent. Give it me,
or have me killed."
"Go, if you will!" said Cinq-Mars to him. "I assure you I shall be very
glad;" and he told his people to retire with the soldier, whom he wished
to keep in his service.
This was the affair of a moment. No one remained any longer in the tent
with the two friends, except the abashed Joseph and the Spaniard. The
latter, taking off his hat, showed a French but savage countenance. He
laughed, and seemed to respire more air into his broad chest.
"Yes, I am a Frenchman," he said to Joseph. "But I hate France, because
she gave birth to my father, who is a monster, and to me, who have become
one, and who once struck him. I hate her inhabitants, because they have
robbed me of my whole fortune at play, and because I have robbed them and
killed them. I have been two years in Spain in order to kill more
Frenchmen; but now I hate Spain still more. No one will know the reason
why. Adieu! I must live henceforth without a nation; all men are my
enemies. Go on, Joseph, and you will soon be as good as I. Yes, you
have seen me once before," he continued, violently striking him in the
breast and throwing him down. "I am Jacques de Laubardemont, the son of
your worthy friend."
With these words, quickly leaving the tent, he disappeared like an
apparition. De Thou and the servants, who ran to the entrance, saw him,
with two bounds, spring over a surprised and disarmed soldier, and run
toward the mountains with the swiftness of a deer, despite various
musket-shots. Joseph took advantage of the disorder to slip away,
stammering a few words of politeness, and left the two friends laughing
at his adventure and his disappointment, as two schoolboys laugh at
seeing the spectacles of their pedagogue fall off. At last they prepared
to seek a rest of which they both stood in need, and which they soon
found-=the wounded man in his bed, and the young counsellor in his chair.
As for the Capuchin, he walked toward his tent, meditating how he should
turn all this so as to take the greatest possible revenge, when he met
Laubardemont dragging the young mad-woman by her two hands. They
recounted to each other their mutual and horrible adventures.
Joseph had no small pleasure in turning the poniard in the wound of his
friend's heart, by telling him of the fate of his son.
"You are not exactly happy in your domestic relations," he added. "I
advise you to shut up your niece and hang your son, if you are fortunate
enough to find him."
Laubardemont replied with a hideous laugh:
"As for this idiot here, I am going to give her to an ex-secret judge, at
present a smuggler in the Pyrenees at Oleron. He can do what he pleases
with her--make her a servant in his posada, for instance. I care not, so
that my lord never hears of her."
Jeanne de Belfiel, her head hanging down, gave no sign of sensibility.
Every glimmer of reason was extinguished in her; one word alone remained
upon her lips, and this she continually pronounced.
"The judge! the judge! the judge!" she murmured, and was silent.
Her uncle and Joseph threw her, almost like a sack of corn, on one of the
horses which were led up by two servants. Laubardemont mounted another,
and prepared to leave the camp, wishing to get into the mountains before
"A good journey to you!" he said to Joseph. "Execute your business well
in Paris. I commend to you Orestes and Pylades."
"A good journey to you!" answered the other. "I commend to you
Cassandra and OEdipus."
"Oh! he has neither killed his father nor married his mother."
"But he is on the high-road to those little pleasantries."
"Adieu, my reverend Father!"
"Adieu, my venerable friend!"
Then each added aloud, but in suppressed tones:
"Adieu, assassin of the gray robe! During thy absence I shall have the
ear of the Cardinal."
"Adieu, villain in the red robe! Go thyself and destroy thy cursed
family. Finish shedding that portion of thy blood that is in others'
veins. That share which remains in thee, I will take charge of. Ha!
a well-employed night!"
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Ambition is the saddest of all hopes
Assume with others the mien they wore toward him
Men are weak, and there are things which women must accomplish
By ALFRED DE VIGNY
"Thus with imagin'd wing our swift scene flies,
In motion of no less celerity
Than that of thought,"
exclaims the immortal Shakespeare in the chorus of one of his tragedies.
"Suppose that you have seen
The well-appointed king
Embark his royalty; and his brave fleet
With silken streamers the young Phoebus fanning.
. . . . . .
. . . behold,
With this poetic movement he traverses time and space, and transports at
will the attentive assembly to the theatre of his sublime scenes.
We shall avail ourselves of the same privilege, though without the same
genius. No more than he shall we seat ourselves upon the tripod of the
unities, but merely casting our eyes upon Paris and the old dark palace
of the Louvre, we will at once pass over the space of two hundred leagues
and the period of two years.
Two years! what changes may they not have upon men, upon their families,
and, above all, in that great and so troublous family of nations, whose
long alliances a single day suffices to destroy, whose wars are ended by
a birth, whose peace is broken by a death! We ourselves have beheld
kings returning to their dwelling on a spring day; that same day a vessel
sailed for a voyage of two years. The navigator returned. The kings
were seated upon their thrones; nothing seemed to have taken place in his
absence, and yet God had deprived those kings of a hundred days of their
But nothing was changed for France in 1642, the epoch to which we turn,
except her fears and her hopes. The future alone had changed its aspect.
Before again beholding our personages, we must contemplate at large the
state of the kingdom.
The powerful unity of the monarchy was rendered still more imposing by
the misfortunes of the neighboring States. The revolutions in England,
and those in Spain and Portugal, rendered the peace which France enjoyed
still more admired. Strafford and Olivares, overthrown or defeated,
aggrandized the immovable Richelieu.
Six formidable armies, reposing upon their triumphant weapons, served as
a rampart to the kingdom. Those of the north, in league with Sweden, had
put the Imperialists to flight, still pursued by the spirit of Gustavus
Adolphus, those on the frontiers of Italy had in Piedmont received the
keys of the towns which had been defended by Prince Thomas; and those
which strengthened the chain of the Pyrenees held in check revolted
Catalonia, and chafed before Perpignan, which they were not allowed to
take. The interior was not happy, but tranquil. An invisible genius
seemed to have maintained this calm, for the King, mortally sick,
languished at St. Germain with a young favorite; and the Cardinal was,
they said, dying at Narbonne. Some deaths, however, betrayed that he yet
lived; and at intervals, men falling as if struck by a poisonous blast
recalled to mind the invisible power.
St.-Preuil, one of Richelieu's enemies, had just laid his "iron head"
upon the scaffold without shame or fear, as he himself said on mounting
Meantime, France seemed to govern herself, for the prince and the
minister had been separated a long time; and of these two sick men, who
hated each other, one never had held the reins of State, the other no
longer showed his power--he was no longer named in the public acts; he
appeared no longer in the government, and seemed effaced everywhere; he
slept, like the spider surrounded by his webs.
If some events and some revolutions had taken place during these two
years, it must have been in hearts; it must have been some of those
occult changes from which, in monarchies without firm foundation,
terrible overthrows and long and bloody dissensions arise.
To enlighten ourselves, let us glance at the old black building of the
unfinished Louvre, and listen to the conversation of those who inhabited
it and those who surrounded it.
It was the month of December; a rigorous winter had afflicted Paris,
where the misery and inquietude of the people were extreme. However,
curiosity was still alive, and they were eager for the spectacles given
by the court. Their poverty weighed less heavily upon them while they
contemplated the agitations of the rich. Their tears were less bitter on
beholding the struggles of power; and the blood of the nobles which
reddened their streets, and seemed the only blood worthy of being shed,
made them bless their own obscurity. Already had tumultuous scenes and
conspicuous assassinations proved the monarch's weakness, the absence and
approaching end of the minister, and, as a kind of prologue to the bloody
comedy of the Fronde, sharpened the malice and even fired the passions of
the Parisians. This confusion was not displeasing to them. Indifferent
to the causes of the quarrels which were abstruse for them, they were not
so with regard to individuals, and already began to regard the party
chiefs with affection or hatred, not on account of the interest which
they supposed them to take in the welfare of their class, but simply
because as actors they pleased or displeased.
One night, especially, pistol and gun-shots had been heard frequently in
the city; the numerous patrols of the Swiss and the body-guards had even
been attacked, and had met with some barricades in the tortuous streets
of the Ile Notre-Dame; carts chained to the posts, and laden with
barrels, prevented the cavaliers from advancing, and some musket-shots
had wounded several men and horses. However, the town still slept,
except the quarter which surrounded the Louvre, which was at this time
inhabited by the Queen and M. le Duc d'Orleans. There everything
announced a nocturnal expedition of a very serious nature.
It was two o'clock in the morning. It was freezing, and the darkness was
intense, when a numerous assemblage stopped upon the quay, which was then
hardly paved, and slowly and by degrees occupied the sandy ground that
sloped down to the Seine. This troop was composed of about two hundred
men; they were wrapped in large cloaks, raised by the long Spanish swords
which they wore. Walking to and fro without preserving any order, they
seemed to wait for events rather than to seek them. Many seated
themselves, with their arms folded, upon the loose stones of the newly
begun parapet; they preserved perfect silence. However, after a few
minutes passed in this manner, a man, who appeared to come out of one of
the vaulted doors of the Louvre, approached slowly, holding a dark-
lantern, the light from which he turned upon the features of each
individual, and which he blew out after finding the man he sought among
them. He spoke to him in a whisper, taking him by the hand:
"Well, Olivier, what did Monsieur le Grand say to you?
[The master of the horse, Cinq-Mars, was thus named by abbreviation.
This name will often occur in the course of the recital.]
Does all go well?"
"Yes, I saw him yesterday at Saint-Germain. The old cat is very ill at
Narbonne; he is going 'ad patres'. But we must manage our affairs
shrewdly, for it is not the first time that he has played the torpid.
Have you people enough for this evening, my dear Fontrailles?"
"Be easy; Montresor is coming with a hundred of Monsieur's gentlemen.
You will recognize him; he will be disguised as a master-mason, with a
rule in his hand. But, above all, do not forget the passwords. Do you
know them all well, you and your friends?"
"Yes, all except the Abbe de Gondi, who has not yet arrived; but 'Dieu me
pardonne', I think he is there himself! Who the devil would have known
And here a little man without a cassock, dressed as a soldier of the
French guards, and wearing a very black false moustache, slipped between
them. He danced about with a joyous air, and rubbed his hands.
"Vive Dieu! all goes on well, my friend. Fiesco could not do better;"
and rising upon his toes to tap Olivier upon the shoulder, he continued:
"Do you know that for a man who has just quitted the rank of pages, you
don't manage badly, Sire Olivier d'Entraigues? and you will be among our
illustrious men if we find a Plutarch. All is well organized; you arrive
at the very moment, neither too soon nor too late, like a true party
chief. Fontrailles, this young man will get on, I prophesy. But we must
make haste; in two hours we shall have some of the archbishops of Paris,
my, uncle's parishioners. I have instructed them well; and they will
cry, 'Long live Monsieur! Long live the Regency! No more of the
Cardinal!' like madmen. They are good devotees, thanks to me, who have
stirred them up. The King is very ill. Oh, all goes well, very well!
I come from Saint-Germain. I have seen our friend Cinq-Mars; he is good,
very good, still firm as a rock. Ah, that is what I call a man! How he
has played with them with his careless and melancholy air! He is master
of the court at present. The King, they say, is going to make him duke
and peer. It is much talked of; but he still hesitates. We must decide
that by our movement this evening. The will of the people! He must do
the will of the people; we will make him hear it. It will be the death
of Richelieu, you'll see. It is, above all, hatred of him which is to
predominate in the cries, for that is the essential thing. That will at
last decide our Gaston, who is still uncertain, is he not?"
"And how can he be anything else?" said Fontrailles. "If he were to
take a resolution to-day in our favor it would be unfortunate."
"Because we should be sure that to-morrow morning he would be against
"Never mind," replied the Abbe; "the Queen is firm."
"And she has heart also," said Olivier; "that gives me some hope for
Cinq-Mars, who, it seems to me, has sometimes dared to frown when he
looked at her."
"Child that you are, how little do you yet know of the court! Nothing
can sustain him but the hand of the King, who loves him as a son; and as
for the Queen, if her heart beats, it is for the past and not for the
future. But these trifles are not to the purpose. Tell me, dear friend,
are you sure of your young Advocate whom I see roaming about there? Is
he all right?"
"Perfectly; he is an excellent Royalist. He would throw the Cardinal
into the river in an instant. Besides, it is Fournier of Loudun; that is
"Well, well, this is the kind of men we like. But take care of
yourselves, Messieurs; some one comes from the Rue Saint-Honore."
"Who goes there?" cried the foremost of the troop to some men who were
advancing. "Royalists or Cardinalists?"
"Gaston and Le Grand," replied the newcomers, in low tones.
"It is Montresor and Monsieur's people," said Fontrailles. "We may soon
"Yes, 'par la corbleu'!" said the newcomer, "for the Cardinalists will
pass at three o'clock. Some one told us so just now."
"Where are they going?" said Fontrailles.
"There are more than two hundred of them to escort Monsieur de Chavigny,
who is going to see the old cat at Narbonne, they say. They thought it
safer to pass by the Louvre."
"Well, we will give him a velvet paw!" said the Abbe.
As he finished saying this, a noise of carriages and horses was heard.
Several men in cloaks rolled an enormous stone into the middle of the
street. The foremost cavaliers passed rapidly through the crowd, pistols
in hand, suspecting that something unusual was going on; but the
postilion, who drove the horses of the first carriage, ran upon the stone
"Whose carriage is this which thus crushes foot-passengers?" cried the
cloakmen, all at once. "It is tyrannical. It can be no other than a
friend of the Cardinal de la Rochelle."
[During the long siege of La Rochelle, this name was given to
Cardinal Richelieu, to ridicule his obstinacy in commanding as
General-in-Chief, and claiming for himself the merit of taking that
"It is one who fears not the friends of the little Le Grand," exclaimed a
voice from the open door, from which a man threw himself upon a horse.
"Drive these Cardinalists into the river!" cried a shrill, piercing
This was a signal for the pistol-shots which were furiously exchanged on
every side, and which lighted up this tumultuous and sombre scene. The
clashing of swords and trampling of horses did not prevent the cries from
being heard on one side: "Down with the minister! Long live the King!
Long live Monsieur and Monsieur le Grand! Down with the red-stockings!"
On the other: "Long live his Eminence! Long live the great Cardinal!
Death to the factious! Long live the King!" For the name of the King
presided over every hatred, as over every affection, at this strange
The men on foot had succeeded, however, in placing the two carriages
across the quay so as to make a rampart against Chavigny's horses, and
from this, between the wheels, through the doors and springs, overwhelmed
them with pistol-shots, and dismounted many. The tumult was frightful,
but suddenly the gates of the Louvre were thrown open, and two squadrons
of the body-guard came out at a trot. Most of them carried torches in
their hands to light themselves and those they were about to attack. The
scene changed. As the guards reached each of the men on foot, the latter
was seen to stop, remove his hat, make himself known, and name himself;
and the guards withdrew, sometimes saluting him, and sometimes shaking
him by the hand. This succor to Chavigny's carriages was then almost
useless, and only served to augment the confusion. The body-guards, as
if to satisfy their consciences, rushed through the throng of duellists,
"Gentlemen, gentlemen, be moderate!"
But when two gentlemen had decidedly crossed swords, and were in active
conflict, the guard who beheld them stopped to judge the fight, and
sometimes even to favor the one who he thought was of his opinion, for
this body, like all France, had their Royalists and their Cardinalists.
The windows of the Louvre were lighted one after another, and many
women's heads were seen behind the little lozenge-shaped panes,
attentively watching the combat.
Numerous Swiss patrols came out with flambeaux.
These soldiers were easily distinguished by an odd uniform. The right
sleeve was striped blue and red, and the silk stocking of the right leg
was red; the left side was striped with blue, red, and white, and the
stocking was white and red. It had, no doubt, been hoped in the royal
chateau that this foreign troop would disperse the crowd, but they were
mistaken. These impassible soldiers coldly and exactly executed, without
going beyond, the orders they had received, circulating symmetrically
among the armed groups, which they divided for a moment, returning before
the gate with perfect precision, and resuming their ranks as on parade,
without informing themselves whether the enemies among whom they had
passed had rejoined or not.
But the noise, for a moment appeased, became general by reason of
personal disputes. In every direction challenges, insults, and
imprecations were heard. It seemed as if nothing but the destruction of
one of the two parties could put an end to the combat, when loud cries,
or rather frightful howls, raised the tumult to its highest pitch. The
Abbe de Gondi, dragging a cavalier by his cloak to pull him down,
"Here are my people! Fontrailles, now you will see something worth while!
Look! look already who they run! It is really charming."
And he abandoned his hold, and mounted upon a stone to contemplate the
manoeuvres of his troops, crossing his arms with the importance of a
General of an army. Day was beginning to break, and from the end of the
Ile St.-Louis a crowd of men, women, and children of the lowest dregs of
the people was seen rapidly advancing, casting toward heaven and the
Louvre strange vociferations. Girls carried long swords; children
dragged great halberds and pikes of the time of the League; old women in
rags pulled by cords old carts full of rusty and broken arms; workmen of
every trade, the greater number drunk, followed, armed with clubs, forks,
lances, shovels, torches, stakes, crooks, levers, sabres, and spits.
They sang and howled alternately, counterfeiting with atrocious yells the
cries of a cat, and carrying as a flag one of these animals suspended
from a pole and wrapped in a red rag, thus representing the Cardinal,
whose taste for cats was generally known. Public criers rushed about,
red and breathless, throwing on the pavement and sticking up on the
parapets, the posts, the walls of the houses, and even on the palace,
long satires in short stanzas upon the personages of the time. Butcher-
boys and scullions, carrying large cutlasses, beat the charge upon
saucepans, and dragged in the mud a newly slaughtered pig, with the red
cap of a chorister on its head. Young and vigorous men, dressed as
women, and painted with a coarse vermilion, were yelling, "We are mothers
of families ruined by Richelieu! Death to the Cardinal!" They carried
in their arms figures of straw that looked like children, which they
threw into the river.
When this disgusting mob overran the quays with its thousands of imps, it
produced a strange effect upon the combatants, and entirely contrary to
that expected by their patron. The enemies on both sides lowered their
arms and separated. Those of Monsieur and Cinq-Mars were revolted at
seeing themselves succored by such auxiliaries, and, themselves aiding
the Cardinal's gentlemen to remount their horses and to gain their
carriages, and their valets to convey the wounded to them, gave their
adversaries personal rendezvous to terminate their quarrel upon a ground
more secret and more worthy of them. Ashamed of the superiority of
numbers and the ignoble troops which they seemed to command, foreseeing,
perhaps, for the first time the fearful consequences of their political
machinations, and what was the scum they were stirring up, they withdrew,
drawing their large hats over their eyes, throwing their cloaks over
their shoulders, and avoiding the daylight.
"You have spoiled all, my dear Abbe, with this mob," said Fontrailles,
stamping his foot, to Gondi, who was already sufficiently nonplussed;
"your good uncle has fine parishioners!"
"It is not my fault," replied Gondi, in a sullen tone; "these idiots came
an hour too late. Had they arrived in the night, they would not have
been seen, which spoils the effect somewhat, to speak the truth (for I
grant that daylight is detrimental to them), and we would only have heard
the voice of the people 'Vox populi, vox Dei'. Nevertheless, no great
harm has been done. They will by their numbers give us the means of
escaping without being known, and, after all, our task is ended; we did
not wish the death of the sinner. Chavigny and his men are worthy
fellows, whom I love; if he is only slightly wounded, so much the better.
Adieu; I am going to see Monsieur de Bouillon, who has arrived from
"Olivier," said Fontrailles, "go at once to Saint-Germain with Fournier
and Ambrosio; I will go and give an account to Monsieur, with Montresor."
All separated, and disgust accomplished, with these highborn men, what
force could not bring about.
Thus ended this fray, likely to bring forth great misfortunes. No one
was killed in it. The cavaliers, having gained a few scratches and lost
a few purses, resumed their route by the side of the carriages along the
by-streets; the others escaped, one by one, through the populace they had
attracted. The miserable wretches who composed it, deprived of the chief
of the troops, still remained two hours, yelling and screaming until the
effect of their wine was gone, and the cold had extinguished at once the
fire of their blood and that of their enthusiasm. At the windows of the
houses, on the quay of the city, and along the walls, the thoughtful and
genuine people of Paris watched with a sorrowful air and in mournful
silence these preludes of disorder; while the various bodies of
merchants, dressed in black and preceded by their provosts, walked slowly
and courageously through the populace toward the Palais de justice, where
the parliament was to assemble, to make complaint of these terrible
The apartments of Gaston d'Orleans were in great confusion. This Prince
occupied the wing of the Louvre parallel with the Tuileries; and his
windows looked into the court on one side, and on the other over a mass
of little houses and narrow streets which almost entirely covered the
place. He had risen precipitately, awakened suddenly by the report of
the firearms, had thrust his feet into large square-toed slippers with
high heels, and, wrapped in a large silk dressing-gown, covered with
golden ornaments embroidered in relief, walked to and fro in his bedroom,
sending every minute a fresh lackey to see what was going on, and
ordering them immediately to go for the Abbe de la Riviere, his general
counsellor; but he was unfortunately out of Paris. At every pistol-shot
this timid Prince rushed to the windows, without seeing anything but some
flambeaux, which were carried quickly along. It was in vain he was told
that the cries he heard were in his favor; he did not cease to walk up
and down the apartments, in the greatest disorder-his long black hair
dishevelled, and his blue eyes open and enlarged by disquiet and terror.
He was still thus when Montresor and Fontrailles at length arrived and
found him beating his breast, and repeating a thousand times, "Mea culpa,
"You have come at last!" he exclaimed from a distance, running to meet
them. "Come! quick! What is going on? What are they doing there? Who
are these assassins? What are these cries?"
"They cry, 'Long live Monsieur!'"
Gaston, without appearing to hear, and holding the door of his chamber
open for an instant, that his voice might reach the galleries in which
were the people of his household, continued to cry with all his strength,
"I know nothing of all this, and I have authorized nothing. I will not
hear anything! I will not know anything! I will never enter into any
project! These are rioters who make all this noise; do not speak to me
of them, if you wish to be well received here. I am the enemy of no man;
I detest such scenes!"
Fontrailles, who knew the man with whom he had to deal, said nothing, but
entered with his friend, that Monsieur might have time to discharge his
first fury; and when all was said, and the door carefully shut, he began
"Monseigneur," said he, "we come to ask you a thousand pardons for the
impertinence of these people, who will persist in crying out that they
desire the death of your enemy, and that they would even wish to make you
regent should we have the misfortune to lose his Majesty. Yes, the
people are always frank in their discourse; but they are so numerous that
all our efforts could not restrain them. It was truly a cry from the
heart--an explosion of love, which reason could not restrain, and which
escaped all bounds."
"But what has happened, then?" interrupted Gaston, somewhat calmed.
"What have they been doing these four hours that I have heard them?"
"That love," said Montresor, coldly, "as Monsieur de Fontrailles had the
honor of telling you, so escaped all rule and bounds that we ourselves
were carried away by it, and felt seized with that enthusiasm which
always transports us at the mere name of Monsieur, and which leads us on
to things which we had not premeditated."
"But what, then, have you done?" said the Prince.
"Those things," replied Fontrailles, "of which Monsieur de Montresor had
the honor to speak to Monsieur are precisely those which I foresaw here
yesterday evening, when I had the honor of conversing with you."
"That is not the question," interrupted Gaston. "You cannot say that I
have ordered or authorized anything. I meddle with nothing; I know
nothing of government."
"I admit," continued Fontrailles, "that your Highness ordered nothing,
but you permitted me to tell you that I foresaw that this night would be
a troubled one about two o'clock, and I hoped that your astonishment
would not have been too great."
The Prince, recovering himself little by little, and seeing that he did
not alarm the two champions, having also upon his conscience and reading
in their eyes the recollection of the consent which he had given them the
evening before, sat down upon the side of his bed, crossed his arms, and,
looking at them with the air of a judge, again said in a commanding tone:
"But what, then, have you done?"
"Why, hardly anything, Monseigneur," said Fontrailles. "Chance led us to
meet in the crowd some of our friends who had a quarrel with Monsieur de
Chavigny's coachman, who was driving over them. A few hot words ensued
and rough gestures, and a few scratches, which kept Monsieur de Chavigny
waiting, and that is all."
"Absolutely all," repeated Montresor.
"What, all?" exclaimed Gaston, much moved, and tramping about the
chamber. "And is it, then, nothing to stop the carriage of a friend of
the Cardinal-Duke? I do not like such scenes. I have already told you
so. I do not hate the Cardinal; he is certainly a great politician, a
very great politician. You have compromised me horribly; it is known
that Montresor is with me. If he has been recognized, they will say that
I sent him."
"Chance," said Montresor, "threw in my way this peasant's dress, which
Monsieur may see under my cloak, and which, for that reason, I preferred
to any other."
Gaston breathed again.
"You are sure, then, that you have not been recognized. You understand,
my dear friend, how painful it would be to me. You must admit
"Sure of it!" exclaimed the Prince's gentleman. "I would stake my head
and my share in Paradise that no one has seen my features or called my by
"Well," continued Gaston, again seating himself on his bed, and assuming
a calmer air, in which even a slight satisfaction was visible, "tell me,
then, what has happened."
Fontrailles took upon himself the recital, in which, as we may suppose,
the populace played a great part and Monsieur's people none, and in his
peroration he said:
"From our windows even, Monseigneur, respectable mothers of families
might have been seen, driven by despair, throwing their children into the
Seine, cursing Richelieu."
"Ah, it is dreadful!" exclaimed the Prince, indignant, or feigning to be
so, and to believe in these excesses. "Is it, then, true that he is so
generally detested? But we must allow that he deserves it. What! his
ambition and avarice have, then, reduced to this extremity the good
inhabitants of Paris, whom I love so much."
"Yes, Monseigneur," replied the orator. "And it is not Paris alone, it
is all France, which, with us, entreats you to decide upon delivering her
from this tyrant. All is ready; nothing is wanting but a sign from your
august head to annihilate this pygmy, who has attempted to assault the
royal house itself."
"Alas! Heaven is my witness that I myself forgive him!" answered
Gaston, raising up his eyes. "But I can no longer bear the cries of the
people. Yes, I will help them; that is to say," continued the Prince,
"so that my dignity is not compromised, and that my name does not appear
in the matter."
"Well, but it is precisely that which we want," exclaimed Fontrailles, a
little more at his ease.
"See, Monseigneur, there are already some names to put after yours, who
will not fear to sign. I will tell you them immediately, if you wish
"But--but," said the Duc d'Orleans, timidly, "do you know that it is a
conspiracy which you propose to me so coolly?"
"Fie, Monseigneur, men of honor like us! a conspiracy! Oh! not at all;
a league at the utmost, a slight combination to give a direction to the
unanimous wish of the nation and the court--that is all."
"But that is not so clear, for, after all, this affair will be neither
general nor public; therefore, it is a conspiracy. You will not avow
that you are concerned in it."
"I, Monseigneur! Excuse me to all the world, since the kingdom is
already in it, and I am of the kingdom. And who would not sign his name
after that of Messieurs de Bouillon and Cinq-Mars?"
"After, perhaps, not before," said Gaston, fixing his eyes upon
Fontrailles more keenly than he had expected.
The latter hesitated a moment.
"Well, then, what would Monseigneur do should I tell him the names after
which he could sign his?"
"Ha! ha! this is amusing," answered the Prince, laughing; "know you not
that above mine there are not many? I see but one."
"And if there be one, will Monseigneur promise to sign that of Gaston
"Ah, parbleu! with all my heart. I risk nothing there, for I see none
but that of the King, who surely is not of the party."
"Well, from this moment permit us," said Montresor, "to take you at your
word, and deign at present to consent to two things only: to see Monsieur
de Bouillon in the Queen's apartments, and Monsieur the master of the
horse at the King's palace."
"Agreed!" said Monsieur, gayly, tapping Montresor on the shoulder.
"I will to-day wait on my sister-in-law at her toilette, and I will
invite my brother to hunt the stag with me at Chambord."
The two friends asked nothing further, and were themselves surprised at
their work. They never had seen so much resolution in their chief.
Accordingly, fearing to lead him to a topic which might divert him from
the path he had adopted, they hastened to turn the conversation upon
other subjects, and retired in delight, leaving as their last words in
his ear that they relied upon his keeping his promise.
While a prince was thus reassured with difficulty by those who surrounded
him, and allowed them to see a terror which might have proved contagious,
a princess more exposed to accidents, more isolated by the indifference
of her husband, weaker by nature and by the timidity which is the result
of the absence of happiness, on her side set the example of the calmest
courage and the most pious resignation, and tranquillized her terrified
suite; this was the Queen. Having slept hardly an hour, she heard shrill
cries behind the doors and the thick tapestries of her chamber. She
ordered her women to open the door, and the Duchesse de Chevreuse, in her
night attire, and wrapped in a great cloak, fell, nearly fainting, at the
foot of her bed, followed by four of her ladies-in-waiting and three of
the women of the bed-chamber. Her delicate feet were bare, and bleeding
from a wound she had received in running.
She cried, weeping like a child, that a pistol-shot had broken her
shutters and her window-panes, and had wounded her; she entreated the
Queen to send her into exile, where she would be more tranquil than in a
country where they wished to assassinate her because she was the friend
of her Majesty.
Her hair was in great disorder, and fell to her feet. It was her chief
beauty; and the young Queen thought that this toilette was less the
result of chance than might have been imagined.
"Well, my dear, what has happened?" she said to her with sang-froid.
"You look like a Magdalen, but in her youth, and before she repented.
It is probable that if they wish to harm any one here it is I; calm
"No, Madame! save me, protect me! it is Richelieu who pursues me, I am
The sound of pistols, which was then heard more distinctly, convinced the
Queen that the terrors of Madame de Chevreuse were not vain.
"Come and dress me, Madame de Motteville!" cried she. But that lady had
completely lost her self-possession, and, opening one of those immense
ebony coffers which then answered the purpose of wardrobes, took from it
a casket of the Princess's diamonds to save it, and did not listen to
her. The other women had seen on a window the reflection of torches,
and, imagining that the palace was on fire, threw jewels, laces, golden
vases, and even the china, into sheets which they intended to lower into
the street. At this moment Madame de Guemenee arrived, a little more
dressed than the Duchesse de Chevreuse, but taking events still more
tragically. Her terror inspired the Queen with a slight degree of fear,
because of the ceremonious and placid character she was known to possess.
She entered without curtseying, pale as a spectre, and said with
"Madame, it is time to make our confession. The Louvre is attacked, and
all the populace are arriving from the city, I have been told."
Terror silenced and rendered motionless all the persons present.
"We shall die!" exclaimed the Duchesse de Chevreuse, still on her knees.
"Ah, my God! why did I leave England? Yes, let us confess. I confess
aloud. I have loved--I have been loved by--"
"Well," said the Queen, "I do not undertake to hear your confession to
the end. That would not perhaps be the least of my dangers, of which,
however, you think little."
The coolness of Anne of Austria, and this last severe observation,
however, restored a little calm to this beautiful personage, who rose in
confusion, and perceiving the disordered state of her toilet, went to
repair it as she best could in a closet near by.
"Dona Stefania," said the Queen to one of her women, the only Spaniard
whom she had retained, "go seek the captain of the guards. It is time
that I should see men at last, and hear something reasonable."
She said this in Spanish, and the mystery of this order, spoken in a
tongue which the ladies did not understand, restored those in the chamber
to their senses.
The waiting-woman was telling her beads, but she rose from the corner of
the alcove in which she had sought refuge, and hastened to obey her
The signs of revolt and the evidences of terror became meantime more
distinct. In the great court of the Louvre was heard the trampling of
the horses of the guards, the orders of the chiefs, the rolling of the
Queen's carriages, which were being prepared, should it be necessary to
fly. The rattling of the iron chains dragged along the pavement to form
barricades in case of an attack, hurried steps in the corridor, the clash
of arms, the confused cries of the people, which rose and fell, went and
came again, like the noise of the waves and the winds. The door once
more opened, and this time it was to admit a very charming person.
"I expected you, dear Marie," said the Queen, extending her arms to the
Duchesse de Mantua. "You have been more courageous than any of us; you
are attired fit to be seen by all the court."
"I was not in bed, fortunately," replied the young Princesse de Gonzaga,
casting down her eyes. "I saw all these people from the windows.
O Madame, Madame, fly! I implore you to escape by the secret stairway,
and let us remain in your place. They might take one of us for the
Queen." And she added, with tears, "I have heard cries of death.
Fly, Madame! I have no throne to lose. You are the daughter, the wife,
and the mother of kings. Save yourself, and leave us here!"
"You have more to lose than I, 'm'amaie', in beauty, youth, and, I hope,
in happiness," said the Queen, with a gracious smile, giving the Duchess
her beautiful hands to kiss. "Remain in my alcove and welcome; but we
will both remain there. The only service I accept from you, my sweet
child, is to bring to my bed that little golden casket which my poor
Motteville has left on the ground, and which contains all that I hold
Then, as she took it, she whispered in Marie's ear:
"Should any misfortune happen to me, swear that you will throw it into
"I will obey you, Madame, as my benefactress and my second mother," Marie
The sound of the conflict redoubled on the quays, and the windows
reflected the flash of the firearms, of which they heard the explosion.
The captain of the guards and the captain of the Swiss sent for orders
from the Queen through Dona Stefania.
"I permit them to enter," said the Queen. "Stand aside, ladies. I am a
man in a moment like this; and I ought to be so." Then, raising the bed-
curtains, she continued, addressing the two officers:
"Gentlemen, first remember that you answer with your heads for the life
of the princes, my children. You know that, Monsieur de Guitaut?"
"I sleep across their doorway, Madame; but this disturbance does not
threaten either them or your Majesty."
"Very well; do not think of me until after them," interrupted the Queen,
"and protect indiscriminately all who are threatened. You also hear me,
Monsieur de Bassompierre; you are a gentleman. Forget that your uncle is
yet in the Bastille, and do your duty by the grandsons of the dead King,
He was a young man, with a frank, open countenance.
"Your Majesty," said he, with a slight German accent, "may see that I
have forgotten my family, and not yours." And he displayed his left hand
despoiled of two fingers, which had just been cut off. "I have still
another hand," said he, bowing and withdrawing with Guitaut.
The Queen, much moved, rose immediately, and, despite the prayers of the
Princesse de Guemenee, the tears of Marie de Gonzaga, and the cries of
Madame de Chevreuse, insisted upon placing herself at the window, and
half opened it, leaning upon the shoulder of the Duchesse de Mantua.
"What do I hear?" she said. "They are crying, 'Long live the King!
Long live the Queen!'"
The people, imagining they recognized her, redoubled their cries at this
moment, and shouted louder than ever, "Down with the Cardinal! Long live
Monsieur le Grand!"
"What is the matter with you?" said the Queen, observing her. But as
she did not answer, and trembled in every limb, this good and gentle
Princess appeared not to perceive it; and, paying the greatest attention
to the cries and movements of the populace, she even exaggerated an
inquietude which she had not felt since the first name had reached her
ear. An hour later, when they came to tell her that the crowd only
awaited a sign from her hand to withdraw, she waved it graciously, and
with an air of satisfaction. But this joy was far from being complete,
for her heart was still troubled by many things, and, above all, by the
presentiment of the regency. The more she leaned forward to show
herself, the more she beheld the revolting scenes which the increasing
light revealed. Terror took possession of her soul as it became
necessary to appear calm and confiding; and her heart was saddened at the
very gayety of her words and countenance. Exposed to all eyes, she felt
herself a mere woman, and shuddered in looking at that people whom she
would soon perhaps be called upon to govern, and who already took upon
themselves to demand the death of ministers, and to call upon their Queen
to appear before them.
She saluted them.
A hundred and fifty years later that salute was repeated by another
princess, like herself of Austrian blood, and Queen of France. The
monarchy without foundation, such as Richelieu made it, was born and
died between these two salutes.
The Princess at last closed her windows, and hastened to dismiss her
timid suite. The thick curtains fell again over the barred windows; and
the room was no longer lighted by a day which was odious to her. Large
white wax flambeaux burned in candelabra, in the form of golden arms,
which stand out from the framed and flowered tapestries with which the
walls were hung. She remained alone with Marie de Mantua; and reentering
with her the enclosure which was formed by the royal balustrade, she fell
upon her bed, fatigued by her courage and her smiles, and burst into
tears, leaning her head upon her pillow. Marie, on her knees upon a
velvet footstool, held one of her hands in both hers, and without daring
to speak first, leaned her head tremblingly upon it; for until that
moment, tears never had been seen in the Queen's eyes.
They remained thus for some minutes. The Princess, then raising herself
up by a painful effort, spoke:
"Do not afflict yourself, my child; let me weep. It is such a relief to
one who reigns! If you pray to God for me, ask Him to grant me
sufficient strength not to hate the enemy who pursues me everywhere,
and who will destroy the royal family of France and the monarchy by his
boundless ambition. I recognize him in all that has taken place; I see
him in this tumultuous revolt."
"What, Madame! is he not at Narbonne?--for it is the Cardinal of whom you
speak, no doubt; and have you not heard that these cries were for you,
and against him?"
"Yes, 'm'amie', he is three hundred leagues away from us, but his fatal
genius keeps guard at the door. If these cries have been heard, it is
because he has allowed them; if these men were assembled, it is because
they have not yet reached the hour which he has destined for their
destruction. Believe me, I know him; and I have dearly paid for the
knowledge of that dark soul. It has cost me all the power of my rank,
the pleasures of my age, the affection of my family and even the heart
of my husband. He has isolated me from the whole world. He now confines
me within a barrier of honors and respect; and formerly he dared, to the
scandal of all France, to bring an accusation against myself. They
examined my papers, they interrogated me, they made me sign myself
guilty, and ask the King's pardon for a fault of which I was ignorant;
and I owed to the devotion, and the perhaps eternal imprisonment of a
[His name was Laporte. Neither the fear of torture nor the hope of
the Cardinal's reward could draw from him one word of the Queen's
the preservation of this casket which you have saved for me. I read in
your looks that you think me too fearful; but do not deceive yourself, as
all the court now does. Be sure, my dear child, that this man is
everywhere, and that he knows even our thoughts."
"What, Madame! does he know all that these men have cried under your
windows, and the names of those who sent them?"
"Yes; no doubt he knows it, or has foreseen it. He permits it; he
authorizes it, to compromise me in the King's eyes, and keep him forever
separated from me. He would complete my humiliation."
"But the King has not loved him for two years; he loves another."
The Queen smiled; she gazed some time in silence upon the pure and open
features of the beautiful Marie, and her look, full of candor, which was
languidly raised toward her. She smoothed back the black curls which
shaded her noble forehead, and seemed to rest her eyes and her soul in
looking at the charming innocence displayed upon so lovely a face. She
kissed her cheek, and resumed:
"You do not suspect, my poor child, a sad truth. It is that the King
loves no one, and that those who appear the most in favor will be the
soonest abandoned by him, and thrown to him who engulfs and devours all."
"Ah, mon Dieu! what is this you tell me?"
"Do you know how many he has destroyed?" continued the Queen, in a low
voice, and looking into her eyes as if to read in them all her thoughts,
and to make her own penetrate there. "Do you know the end of his
favorites? Have you been told of the exile of Baradas; of that of Saint-
Simon; of the convent of Mademoiselle de la Fayette, the shame of Madame
d'Hautfort, the death of Chalais? All have fallen before an order from
Richelieu to his master. Without this favor, which you mistake for
friendship, their lives would have been peaceful. But this favor is
mortal; it is a poison. Look at this tapestry, which represents Semele.
The favorites of Louis XIII resemble that woman; his attachment devours
like this fire, which dazzles and consumes her."
But the young Duchess was no longer in a condition to listen to the
Queen. She continued to fix her large, dark eyes upon her, dimmed by a
veil of tears; her hands trembled in those of Anne of Austria, and her
lips quivered with convulsive agitation.
"I am very cruel, am I not, Marie?" continued the Queen, in an extremely
sweet voice, and caressing her like a child from whom one would draw an
avowal. "Oh, yes; no doubt I am very wicked! Your heart is full; you
can not bear it, my child. Come, tell me; how do matters stand with you
and Monsieur de Cinq-Mars?"
At this word grief found a vent, and, still on her knees at the Queen's
feet, Marie in her turn shed upon the bosom of the good Princess a deluge
of tears, with childish sobs and so violent an agitation of her head and
her beautiful shoulders that it seemed as if her heart would break. The
Queen waited a long time for the end of this first emotion, rocking her
in her arms as if to appease her grief, frequently repeating, "My child,
my child, do not afflict yourself thus!"
"Ah, Madame!" she exclaimed, "I have been guilty toward you; but I did
not reckon upon that heart. I have done wrong, and I shall perhaps be
punished severely for it. But, alas! how shall I venture to confess to
you, Madame? It was not so much to open my heart to you that was
difficult; it was to avow to you that I had need to read there myself."
The Queen reflected a moment, laying her finger upon her lips. "You are
right," she then replied; "you are quite right. Marie, it is always the
first word which is the most difficult to say; and that difficulty often
destroys us. But it must be so; and without this rule one would be often
wanting in dignity. Ah, how difficult it is to reign! To-day I would
descend into your heart, but I come too late to do you good."
Marie de Mantua hung her head without making any reply.
"Must I encourage you to speak?" said the Queen. "Must I remind you
that I have almost adopted you for my eldest daughter? that after
seeking to unite you with the King's brother, I prepared for you the
throne of Poland? Must I do more, Marie? Yes, I must, I will. If
afterward you do not open your whole heart to me, I have misjudged you.
Open this golden casket; here is the key. Open it fearlessly; do not
tremble as I do."
The Duchesse de Mantua obeyed with hesitation, and beheld in this little
chased coffer a knife of rude form, the handle of which was of iron, and
the blade very rusty. It lay upon some letters carefully folded, upon
which was the name of Buckingham. She would have lifted them; Anne of
Austria stopped her.
"Seek nothing further," she said; "that is all the treasure of the Queen.
And it is a treasure; for it is the blood of a man who lives no longer,
but who lived for me. He was the most beautiful, the bravest, the most
illustrious of the nobles of Europe. He covered himself with the
diamonds of the English crown to please me. He raised up a fierce war
and armed fleets, which he himself commanded, that he might have the
happiness of once fighting him who was my husband. He traversed the seas
to gather a flower upon which I had trodden, and ran the risk of death to
kiss and bathe with his tears the foot of this bed in the presence of two
of my ladies-in-waiting. Shall I say more? Yes, I will say it to you--
I loved him! I love him still in the past more than I could love him in
the present. He never knew it, never divined it. This face, these eyes,
were marble toward him, while my heart burned and was breaking with
grief; but I was the Queen of France!" Here Anne of Austria forcibly
grasped Marie's arm. "Dare now to complain," she continued, "if you have
not yet ventured to speak to me of your love, and dare now to be silent
when I have told you these things!"
"Ah, yes, Madame, I shall dare to confide my grief to you, since you are
"A friend, a woman!" interrupted the Queen. "I was a woman in my
terror, which put you in possession of a secret unknown to the whole
world. I am a woman by a love which survives the man I loved. Speak;
tell me! It is now time."
"It is too late, on the contrary," replied Marie, with a forced smile.
"Monsieur de Cinq-Mars and I are united forever."
"Forever!" exclaimed the Queen. "Can you mean it? And your rank, your
name, your future--is all lost? Do you reserve this despair for your
brother, the Duc de Bethel, and all the Gonzagas?"
"For more than four years I have thought of it. I am resolved; and for
ten days we have been affianced."
"Affianced!" exclaimed the Queen, clasping her hands. "You have been
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