Cinq Mars, entire
Alfred de Vigny
Part 6 out of 8
from the distance, and following her with his eyes until the carriage had
passed; then he seemed to give the man a roll of papers, and disappeared.
The mist which was falling prevented her from seeing him any more. It
was, indeed, one of those fogs so frequent on the banks of the Loire.
The sun looked at first like a small blood-red moon, enveloped in a
tattered shroud, and within half an hour was concealed under so thick a
cloud that Marie could scarcely distinguish the foremost horses of the
carriage, while the men who passed at the distance of a few paces looked
like grizzly shadows. This icy vapor turned to a penetrating rain and at
the same time a cloud of fetid odor. The Queen made the beautiful
Princess sit beside her; and they turned toward Chambord quickly and in
silence. They soon heard the horns recalling the scattered hounds; the
huntsmen passed rapidly by the carriage, seeking their way through the
fog, and calling to each other. Marie saw only now and then the head of
a horse, or a dark body half issuing from the gloomy vapor of the woods,
and tried in vain to distinguish any words. At length her heart beat;
there was a call for M. de Cinq-Mars.
"The King asks for Monsieur le Grand," was repeated about; "where can
Monsieur le Grand Ecuyer be gone to?"
A voice, passing near, said, "He has just lost himself."
These simple words made her shudder, for her afflicted spirit gave them
the most sinister meaning. The terrible thought pursued her to the
chateau and into her apartments, wherein she hastened to shut herself.
She soon heard the noise of the entry of the King and of Monsieur, then,
in the forest, some shots whose flash was unseen. She in vain looked at
the narrow windows; they seemed covered on the outside with a white cloth
that shut out the light.
Meanwhile, at the extremity of the forest, toward Montfrault, there had
lost themselves two cavaliers, wearied with seeking the way to the
chateau in the monotonous similarity of the trees and paths; they were
about to stop near a pond, when eight or nine men, springing from the
thickets, rushed upon them, and before they had time to draw, hung to
their legs and arms and to the bridles of their horses in such a manner
as to hold them fixed. At the same time a hoarse voice cried in the fog:
"Are you Royalists or Cardinalists? Cry, 'Vive le Grand!' or you are
"Scoundrels," answered the first cavalier, trying to open the holsters of
his pistols, "I will have you hanged for abusing my name."
"Dios es el Senor!" cried the same voice.
All the men immediately released their hold, and ran into the wood; a
burst of savage laughter was heard, and a man approached Cinq-Mars.
"Amigo, do you not recognize me? 'Tis but a joke of Jacques, the Spanish
Fontrailles approached, and said in a low voice to the grand ecuyer:
"Monsieur, this is an enterprising fellow; I would advise you to employ
him. We must neglect no chance."
"Listen to me," said Jacques de Laubardemont, "and answer at once. I am
not a phrase-maker, like my father. I bear in mind that you have done me
some good offices; and lately again, you have been useful to me, as you
always are, without knowing it, for I have somewhat repaired my fortune
in your little insurrections. If you will, I can render you an important
service; I command a few brave men."
"What service?" asked Cinq-Mars. "We will see."
"I commence by a piece of information. This morning while you descended
the King's staircase on one side, Father Joseph ascended the other."
"Ha! this, then, is the secret of his sudden and inexplicable change!
Can it be? A king of France! and to allow us to confide all our secrets
"Well! is that all? Do you say nothing? You know I have an old account
to settle with the Capuchin."
"What's that to me?" and he hung down his head, absorbed in a profound
"It matters a great deal to you, since you have only to speak the word,
and I will rid you of him before thirty-six hours from this time, though
he is now very near Paris. We might even add the Cardinal, if you wish."
"Leave me; I will use no poniards," said Cinq-Mars.
"Ah! I understand you," replied Jacques. "You are right; you would
prefer our despatching him with the sword. This is just. He is worth
it; 'tis a distinction due to him. It were undoubtedly more suitable for
great lords to take charge of the Cardinal; and that he who despatches
his Eminence should be in a fair way to be a marechal. For myself, I am
not proud; one must not be proud, whatever one's merit in one's
profession. I must not touch the Cardinal; he's a morsel for a king!"
"Nor any others," said the grand ecuyer.
"Oh, let us have the Capuchin!" said Captain Jacques, urgently.
"You are wrong if you refuse this office," said Fontrailles; "such things
occur every day. Vitry began with Concini; and he was made a marechal.
You see men extremely well at court who have killed their enemies with
their own hands in the streets of Paris, and you hesitate to rid yourself
of a villain! Richelieu has his agents; you must have yours. I can not
understand your scruples."
"Do not torment him," said Jacques, abruptly; "I understand it.
I thought as he does when I was a boy, before reason came. I would not
have killed even a monk; but let me speak to him." Then, turning toward
Cinq-Mars, "Listen: when men conspire, they seek the death or at least
the downfall of some one, eh?"
And he paused.
"Now in that case, we are out with God, and in with the Devil, eh?"
"Secundo, as they say at the Sorbonne; it's no worse when one is damned,
to be so for much than for little, eh?"
"Ergo, it is indifferent whether a thousand or one be killed. I defy you
to answer that."
"Nothing could be better argued, Doctor-dagger," said Fontrailles, half-
laughing, "I see you will be a good travelling-companion. You shall go
with me to Spain if you like."
"I know you are going to take the treaty there," answered Jacques; "and I
will guide you through the Pyrenees by roads unknown to man. But I shall
be horribly vexed to go away without having wrung the neck of that old
he-goat, whom we leave behind, like a knight in the midst of a game of
chess. Once more Monsieur," he continued with an air of pious
earnestness, "if you have any religion in you, refuse no longer;
recollect the words of our theological fathers, Hurtado de Mendoza and
Sanchez, who have proved that a man may secretly kill his enemies, since
by this means he avoids two sins--that of exposing his life, and that of
fighting a duel. It is in accordance with this grand consolatory
principle that I have always acted."
"Go, go!" said Cinq-Mars, in a voice thick with rage; "I have other
things to think of."
"Of what more important?" said Fontrailles; "this might be a great
weight in the balance of our destinies."
"I am thinking how much the heart of a king weighs in it," said Cinq-
"You terrify me," replied the gentleman; "we can not go so far as that!"
"Nor do I think what you suppose, Monsieur," continued D'Effiat, in a
severe tone. "I was merely reflecting how kings complain when a subject
betrays them. Well, war! war! civil war, foreign war, let your fires
be kindled! since I hold the match, I will apply it to the mine. Perish
the State! perish twenty kingdoms, if necessary! No ordinary calamities
suffice when the King betrays the subject. Listen to me."
And he took Fontrailles a few steps aside.
"I only charged you to prepare our retreat and succors, in case of
abandonment on the part of the King. Just now I foresaw this abandonment
in his forced manifestation of friendship; and I decided upon your
setting out when he finished his conversation by announcing his departure
for Perpignan. I feared Narbonne; I now see that he is going there to
deliver himself up a prisoner to the Cardinal. Go at once. I add to the
letters I have given you the treaty here; it is in fictitious names, but
here is the counterpart, signed by Monsieur, by the Duc de Bouillon, and
by me. The Count-Duke of Olivares desires nothing further. There are
blanks for the Duc d'Orleans, which you will fill up as you please. Go;
in a month I shall expect you at Perpignan. I will have Sedan opened to
the seventeen thousand Spaniards from Flanders."
Then, advancing toward the adventurer, who awaited him, he said:
"For you, brave fellow, since you desire to aid me, I charge you with
escorting this gentleman to Madrid; you will be largely recompensed."
Jacques, twisting his moustache, replied:
"Ah, you do not then scorn to employ me! you exhibit your judgment and
taste. Do you know that the great Queen Christina of Sweden has asked
for me, and wished to have me with her as her confidential man. She was
brought up to the sound of the cannon by the 'Lion of the North,'
Gustavus Adolphus, her father. She loves the smell of powder and brave
men; but I would not serve her, because she is a Huguenot, and I have
fixed principles, from which I never swerve. 'Par exemple', I swear to
you by Saint Jacques to guide Monsieur through the passes of the Pyrenees
to Oleron as surely as through these woods, and to defend him against the
Devil, if need be, as well as your papers, which we will bring you back
without blot or tear. As for recompense, I want none. I always find it
in the action itself. Besides, I do not receive money, for I am a
gentleman. The Laubardemonts are a very ancient and very good family."
"Adieu, then, noble Monsieur," said Cinq-Mars; go!"
After having pressed the hand of Fontrailles, he sighed and disappeared
in the wood, on his return to the chateau of Chambord.
Shortly after the events just narrated, at the corner of the Palais-
Royal, at a small and pretty house, numerous carriages were seen to draw
up, and a door, reached by three steps, frequently to open. The
neighbors often came to their windows to complain of the noise made at so
late an hour of the night, despite the fear of robbers; and the patrol
often stopped in surprise, and passed on only when they saw at each
carriage ten or twelve footmen, armed with staves and carrying torches.
A young gentleman, followed by three lackeys, entered and asked for
Mademoiselle de Lorme. He wore a long rapier, ornamented with pink
ribbon. Enormous bows of the same color on his high-heeled shoes almost
entirely concealed his feet, which after the fashion of the day he turned
very much out. He frequently twisted a small curling moustache, and
before entering combed his small pointed beard. There was but one
exclamation when he was announced.
"Here he is at last!" cried a young and rich voice. "He has made us
wait long enough for him, the dear Desbarreaux. Come, take a seat!
place yourself at this table and read."
The speaker was a woman of about four-and-twenty, tall and handsome,
notwithstanding her somewhat woolly black hair and her dark olive
complexion. There was something masculine in her manner, which she
seemed to derive from her circle, composed entirely of men. She took
their arm unceremoniously, as she spoke to them, with a freedom which she
communicated to them. Her conversation was animated rather than joyous.
It often excited laughter around her; but it was by dint of intellect
that she created gayety (if we may so express it), for her countenance,
impassioned as it was, seemed incapable of bending into a smile, and her
large blue eyes, under her jet-black hair, gave her at first rather a
Desbarreaux kissed her hand with a gallant and chivalrous air. He then,
talking to her all the time, walked round the large room, where were
assembled nearly thirty persons-some seated in the large arm chairs,
others standing in the vast chimney-place, others conversing in the
embrasures of the windows under the heavy curtains. Some of them were
obscure men, now illustrious; others illustrious men, now obscure for
posterity. Thus, among the latter, he profoundly saluted MM. d'Aubijoux,
de Brion, de Montmort, and other very brilliant gentlemen, who were there
as judges; tenderly, and with an air of esteem, pressed the hands of MM.
Monteruel, de Sirmond, de Malleville, Baro, Gombauld, and other learned
men, almost all called great men in the annals of the Academy of which
they were the founders--itself called sometimes the Academic des Beaux
Esprits, but really the Academic Francaise. But M. Desbarreaux gave but
a mere patronizing nod to young Corneille, who was talking in a corner
with a foreigner, and with a young man whom he presented to the mistress
of the house by the name of M. Poquelin, son of the 'valet-de-chambre
tapissier du roi'. The foreigner was Milton; the young man was Moliere.
Before the reading expected from the young Sybarite, a great contest
arose between him and other poets and prose writers of the time. They
spoke to each other with great volubility and animation a language
incomprehensible to any one who should suddenly have come among them
without being initiated, eagerly pressing each other's hands with
affectionate compliments and infinite allusions to their works.
"Ah, here you are, illustrious Baro!" cried the newcomer. "I have read
your last sixain. Ah, what a sixain! how full of the gallant and the
"What is that you say of the tendre?" interrupted Marion de Lorme; "have
you ever seen that country? You stopped at the village of Grand-Esprit,
and at that of Jolis-Vers, but you have been no farther. If Monsieur le
Gouverneur de Notre Dame de la Garde will please to show us his new
chart, I will tell you where you are."
Scudery arose with a vainglorious and pedantic air; and, unrolling upon
the table a sort of geographical chart tied with blue ribbons, he himself
showed the lines of red ink which he had traced upon it.
"This is the finest piece of Clelie," he said. "This chart is generally
found very gallant; but 'tis merely a slight ebullition of playful wit,
to please our little literary cabale. However, as there are strange
people in the world, it is possible that all who see it may not have
minds sufficiently well turned to understand it. This is the road which
must be followed to go from Nouvelle-Amitie to Tendre; and observe,
gentlemen, that as we say Cumae-on-the-Ionian-Sea, Cuma;-on-the-Tyrrhean-
Sea, we shall say Tendre-sur-Inclination, Tendre-sur-Estime, and Tendre-
sur-Reconnaissance. We must begin by inhabiting the village of Grand-
Coeur, Generosity, Exactitude, and Petits-Soins."
"Ah! how very pretty!" interposed Desbarreaux. "See the villages
marked out; here is Petits-Soins, Billet-Galant, then Billet-Doux!"
"Oh! 'tis ingenious in the highest degree!" cried Vaugelas, Colletet,
and the rest.
"And observe," continued the author, inflated with this success, "that it
is necessary to pass through Complaisance and Sensibility; and that if we
do not take this road, we run the risk of losing our way to Tiedeur,
Oubli, and of falling into the Lake of Indifference."
"Delicious! delicious! 'gallant au supreme!'" cried the auditors;
"never was greater genius!"
"Well, Madame," resumed Scudery, "I now declare it in your house: this
work, printed under my name, is by my sister--she who translated 'Sappho'
so agreeably." And without being asked, he recited in a declamatory tone
verses ending thus:
L'Amour est un mal agreable
Don't mon coeur ne saurait guerir;
Mais quand il serait guerissable,
Il est bien plus doux d'en mourir.
"How! had that Greek so much wit? I can not believe it," exclaimed
Marion de Lorme; "how superior Mademoiselle de Scudery is to her! That
idea is wholly hers; she must unquestionably put these charming verses
into 'Clelie'. They will figure well in that Roman history."
"Admirable, perfect!" cried all the savans; "Horatius, Aruns, and the
amiable Porsenna are such gallant lovers."
They were all bending over the "carte de Tendre," and their fingers
crossed in following the windings of the amorous rivers. The young
Poquelin ventured to raise a timid voice and his melancholy but acute
glance, and said:
"What purpose does this serve? Is it to give happiness or pleasure?
Monsieur seems to me not singularly happy, and I do not feel very gay."
The only reply he got was a general look of contempt; he consoled himself
by meditating, 'Les Precieuses Ridicules'.
Desbarreaux prepared to read a pious sonnet, which he was penitent for
having composed in an illness; he seemed to be ashamed of having thought
for a moment upon God at the sight of his lightning, and blushed at the
weakness. The mistress of the house stopped him.
"It is not yet time to read your beautiful verses; you would be
interrupted. We expect Monsieur le Grand Ecuyer and other gentlemen; it
would be actual murder to allow a great mind to speak during this noise
and confusion. But here is a young Englishman who has just come from
Italy, and is on his return to London. They tell me he has composed a
poem--I don't know what; but he'll repeat some verses of it. Many of you
gentlemen of the Academy know English; and for the rest he has had the
passages he is going to read translated by an ex-secretary of the Duke of
Buckingham, and here are copies in French on this table."
So saying, she took them and distributed them among her erudite visitors.
The company seated themselves, and were silent. It took some time to
persuade the young foreigner to speak or to quit the recess of the
window, where he seemed to have come to a very good understanding with
Corneille. He at last advanced to an armchair placed near the table;
he seemed of feeble health, and fell into, rather than seated himself in,
the chair. He rested his elbow on the table, and with his hand covered
his large and beautiful eyes, which were half closed, and reddened with
nightwatches or tears. He repeated his fragments from memory. His
doubting auditors looked at him haughtily, or at least patronizingly;
others carelessly glanced over the translation of his verses.
His voice, at first suppressed, grew clearer by the very flow of his
harmonious recital; the breath of poetic inspiration soon elevated him to
himself; and his look, raised to heaven, became sublime as that of the
young evangelist, conceived by Raffaello, for the light still shone on
it. He narrated in his verses the first disobedience of man, and invoked
the Holy Spirit, who prefers before all other temples a pure and simple
heart, who knows all, and who was present at the birth of time.
This opening was received with a profound silence; and a slight murmur
arose after the enunciation of the last idea. He heard not; he saw only
through a cloud; he was in the world of his own creation. He continued.
He spoke of the infernal spirit, bound in avenging fire by adamantine
chains, lying vanquished nine times the space that measures night and day
to mortal men; of the darkness visible of the eternal prisons and the
burning ocean where the fallen angels float. Then, his voice, now
powerful, began the address of the fallen angel. "Art thou," he said,
"he who in the happy realms of light, clothed with transcendent
brightness, didst outshine myriads? From what height fallen? What
though the field be lost, all is not lost! Unconquerable will and study
of revenge, immortal hate and courage never to submit nor yield-what is
else not to be overcome."
Here a lackey in a loud voice announced MM. de Montresor and
d'Entraigues. They saluted, exchanged a few words, deranged the chairs,
and then settled down. The auditors availed themselves of the
interruption to institute a dozen private conversations; scarcely
anything was heard but expressions of censure, and imputations of bad
taste. Even some men of merit, dulled by a particular habit of thinking,
cried out that they did not understand it; that it was above their
comprehension (not thinking how truly they spoke); and from this feigned
humility gained themselves a compliment, and for the poet an impertinent
remark--a double advantage. Some voices even pronounced the word
The poet, interrupted, put his head between his hands and his elbows on
the table, that he might not hear the noise either of praise or censure.
Three men only approached him, an officer, Poquelin, and Corneille; the
latter whispered to Milton:
"I would advise you to change the picture; your hearers are not on a
level with this."
The officer pressed the hand of the English poet and said to him:
"I admire you with all my soul."
The astonished Englishman looked at him, and saw an intellectual,
impassioned, and sickly countenance.
He bowed, and collected himself, in order to proceed. His voice took a
gentle tone and a soft accent; he spoke of the chaste happiness of the
two first of human beings. He described their majestic nakedness, the
ingenuous command of their looks, their walk among lions and tigers,
which gambolled at their feet; he spoke of the purity of their morning
prayer, of their enchanting smile, the playful tenderness of their youth,
and their enamored conversation, so painful to the Prince of Darkness.
Gentle tears quite involuntarily made humid the eyes of the beautiful
Marion de Lorme. Nature had taken possession of her heart, despite her
head; poetry filled it with grave and religious thoughts, from which the
intoxication of pleasure had ever diverted her. The idea of virtuous
love appeared to her for the first time in all its beauty; and she seemed
as if struck with a magic wand, and changed into a pale and beautiful
Corneille, his young friend, and the officer, were full of a silent
admiration which they dared not express, for raised voices drowned that
of the surprised poet.
"I can't stand this!" cried Desbarreaux. "It is of an insipidity to
make one sick."
"And what absence of grace, gallantry, and the belle flamme!" said
"Ah, how different from our immortal D'Urfe!" said Baro, the
"Where is the 'Ariane,' where the 'Astrea?'" cried, with a groan, Godeau,
The whole assembly well-nigh made these obliging remarks, though uttered
so as only to be heard by the poet as a murmur of uncertain import. He
understood, however, that he produced no enthusiasm, and collected
himself to touch another chord of his lyre.
At this moment the Counsellor de Thou was announced, who, modestly
saluting the company, glided silently behind the author near Corneille,
Poquelin, and the young officer. Milton resumed his strain.
He recounted the arrival of a celestial guest in the garden of Eden, like
a second Aurora in mid-day, shaking the plumes of his divine wings, that
filled the air with heavenly fragrance, who recounted to man the history
of heaven, the revolt of Lucifer, clothed in an armor of diamonds, raised
on a car brilliant as the sun, guarded by glittering cherubim, and
marching against the Eternal. But Emmanuel appears on the living chariot
of the Lord; and his two thousand thunderbolts hurled down to hell, with
awful noise, the accursed army confounded.
At this the company arose; and all was interrupted, for religious
scruples became leagued with false taste. Nothing was heard but
exclamations which obliged the mistress of the house to rise also,
and endeavor to conceal them from the author. This was not difficult,
for he was entirely absorbed in the elevation of his thoughts. His
genius at this moment had nothing in common with the earth; and when he
once more opened his eyes on those who surrounded him, he saw near him
four admirers, whose voices were better heard than those of the assembly.
Corneille said to him:
"Listen. If you aim at present glory, do not expect it from so fine a
work. Pure poetry is appreciated by but few souls. For the common run
of men, it must be closely allied with the almost physical interest of
the drama. I had been tempted to make a poem of ' Polyeuctes'; but I
shall cut down this subject, abridge it of the heavens, and it shall be
only a tragedy."
"What matters to me the glory of the moment?" answered Milton. "I think
not of success. I sing because I feel myself a poet. I go whither
inspiration leads me. Its path is ever the right one. If these verses
were not to be read till a century after my death, I should write them
just the same."
"I admire them before they are written," said the young officer. "I see
in them the God whose innate image I have found in my heart."
"Who is it speaks thus kindly to me?" asked the poet.
"I am Rene Descartes," replied the soldier, gently.
"How, sir!" cried De Thou. "Are you so happy as to be related to the
author of the Princeps?"
"I am the author of that work," replied Rene.
"You, sir!--but--still--pardon me--but--are you not a military man?"
stammered out the counsellor, in amazement.
"Well, what has the habit of the body to do with the thought? Yes, I
wear the sword. I was at the siege of Rochelle. I love the profession
of arms because it keeps the soul in a region of noble ideas by the
continual feeling of the sacrifice of life; yet it does not occupy the
whole man. He can not always apply his thoughts to it. Peace lulls
them. Moreover, one has also to fear seeing them suddenly interrupted by
an obscure blow or an absurd and untimely accident. And if a man be
killed in the execution of his plan, posterity preserves an idea of the
plan which he himself had not, and which may be wholly preposterous; and
this is the evil side of the profession for a man of letters."
De Thou smiled with pleasure at the simple language of this superior man
--this man whom he so admired, and in his admiration loved. He pressed
the hand of the young sage of Touraine, and drew him into an adjoining
cabinet with Corneille, Milton, and Moliere, and with them enjoyed one of
those conversations which make us regard as lost the time which precedes
them and the time which is to follow them.
For two hours they had enchanted one another with their discourse, when
the sound of music, of guitars and flutes playing minuets, sarabands,
allemandes, and the Spanish dances which the young Queen had brought into
fashion, the continual passing of groups of young ladies and their joyous
laughter, all announced that the ball had commenced. A very young and
beautiful person, holding a large fan as it were a sceptre, and
surrounded by ten young men, entered their retired chamber with her
brilliant court, which she ruled like a queen, and entirely put to the
rout the studious conversers.
"Adieu, gentlemen!" said De Thou. "I make way for Mademoiselle de
l'Enclos and her musketeers."
"Really, gentlemen," said the youthful Ninon, "we seem to frighten you.
Have I disturbed you? You have all the air of conspirators."
"We are perhaps more so than these gentlemen, although we dance," said
Olivier d'Entraigues, who led her.
"Ah! your conspiracy is against me, Monsieur le Page!" said Ninon,
looking the while at another light-horseman, and abandoning her remaining
arm to a third, the other gallants seeking to place themselves in the way
of her flying ceillades, for she distributed her glances brilliant as the
rays of the sun dancing over the moving waters.
De Thou stole away without any one thinking of stopping him, and was
descending the great staircase, when he met the little Abbe de Gondi,
red, hot, and out of breath, who stopped him with an animated and joyous
"How now! whither go you? Let the foreigners and savans go. You are
one of us. I am somewhat late; but our beautiful Aspasia will pardon me.
Why are you going? Is it all over?"
"Why, it seems so. When the dancing begins, the reading is done."
"The reading, yes; but the oaths?" said the Abbe, in a low voice.
"What oaths?" asked De Thou.
"Is not Monsieur le Grand come?"
"I expected to see him; but I suppose he has not come, or else he has
"No, no! come with me," said the bare-brained Abbe. "You are one of us.
Parbleu! it is impossible to do without you; come!"
De Thou, unwilling to refuse, and thus appear to disown his friends, even
for parties of pleasure which annoyed him, followed De Gondi, who passed
through two cabinets, and descended a small private staircase. At each
step he took, he heard more distinctly the voices of an assemblage of
men. Gondi opened the door. An unexpected spectacle met his view.
The chamber he was entering, lighted by a mysterious glimmer, seemed the
asylum of the most voluptuous rendezvous. On one side was a gilt bed,
with a canopy of tapestry ornamented with feathers, and covered with lace
and ornaments. The furniture, shining with gold, was of grayish silk,
richly embroidered. Velvet cushions were at the foot of each armchair,
upon a thick carpet. Small mirrors, connected with one another by
ornaments of silver, seemed an entire glass, itself a perfection then
unknown, and everywhere multiplied their glittering faces. No sound from
without could penetrate this throne of delight; but the persons assembled
there seemed far remote from the thoughts which it was calculated to give
rise to. A number of men, whom he recognized as courtiers, or soldiers
of rank, crowded the entrance of this chamber and an adjoining apartment
of larger dimensions. All were intent upon that which was passing in the
centre of the first room. Here, ten young men, standing, and holding in
their hands their drawn swords, the points of which were lowered toward
the ground, were ranged round a table. Their faces, turned to Cinq-Mars,
announced that they had just taken an oath to him. The grand ecuyer
stood by himself before the fireplace, his arms folded with an air of
all-absorbing reflection. Standing near him, Marion de Lorme, grave and
collected, seemed to have presented these gentlemen to him.
When Cinq-Mars perceived his friend, he rushed toward the door, casting a
terrible glance at Gondi, and seizing De Thou by both arms, stopped him
on the last step.
"What do you here?" he said, in a stifled voice.
"Who brought you here? What would you with me? You are lost if you
"What do you yourself here? What do I see in this house?"
"The consequences of that you wot of. Go; this air is poisoned for all
who are here."
"It is too late; they have seen me. What would they say if I were to
withdraw? I should discourage them; you would be lost."
This dialogue had passed in low and hurried tones; at the last word,
De Thou, pushing aside his friend, entered, and with a firm step crossed
the apartment to the fireplace.
Cinq-Mars, trembling with rage, resumed his place, hung his head,
collected himself, and soon raising a more calm countenance, continued a
discourse which the entrance of his friend had interrupted:
"Be then with us, gentlemen; there is no longer any need for so much
mystery. Remember that when a strong mind embraces an idea, it must
follow it to all its consequences. Your courage will have a wider field
than that of a court intrigue. Thank me; instead of a conspiracy, I give
you a war. Monsieur de Bouillon has departed to place himself at the
head of his army of Italy; in two days, and before the king, I quit Paris
for Perpignan. Come all of you thither; the Royalists of the army await
Here he threw around him calm and confident looks; he saw gleams of joy
and enthusiasm in the eyes of all who surrounded him. Before allowing
his own heart to be possessed by the contagious emotion which precedes
great enterprises, he desired still more firmly to assure himself of
them, and said with a grave air:
"Yes, war, gentlemen; think of it, open war. Rochelle and Navarre are
arousing their Protestants; the army of Italy will enter on one side; the
king's brother will join us on the other. The man we combat will be
surrounded, vanquished, crushed. The parliaments will march in our rear,
bearing their petitions to the King, a weapon as powerful as our swords;
and after the victory we will throw ourselves at the feet of Louis XIII,
our master, that he may pardon us for having delivered him from a cruel
and ambitious man, and hastened his own resolution."
Here, again glancing around him, he saw increasing confidence in the
looks and attitudes of his accomplices.
"How!" he continued, crossing his arms, and yet restraining with an
effort his own emotion; "you do not recoil before this resolution, which
would appear a revolt to any other men! Do you not think that I have
abused the powers you have vested in me? I have carried matters very
far; but there are times when kings would be served, as it were in spite
of themselves. All is arranged, as you know. Sedan will open its gates
to us; and we are sure of Spain. Twelve thousand veteran troops will
enter Paris with us. No place, however, will be given up to the
foreigner; they will all have a French garrison, and be taken in the name
of the King."
"Long live the King! long live the Union! the new Union, the Holy
League!" cried the assembly.
"It has come, then!" cried Cinq-Mars, with enthusiasm; "it has come--the
most glorious day of my life. Oh, youth, youth, from century to century
called frivolous and improvident! of what will men now accuse thee, when
they behold conceived, ripened, and ready for execution, under a chief of
twenty-two, the most vast, the most just, the most beneficial of
enterprises? My friends, what is a great life but a thought of youth
executed by mature age? Youth looks fixedly into the future with its
eagle glance, traces there a broad plan, lays the foundation stone; and
all that our entire existence afterward can do is to approximate to that
first design. Oh, when can great projects arise, if not when the heart
beats vigorously in the breast? The mind is not sufficient; it is but an
A fresh outburst of joy had followed these words, when an old man with a
white beard stood forward from the throng.
"Bah!" said Gondi, in a low voice, "here's the old Chevalier de Guise
going to dote, and damp us."
And truly enough, the old man, pressing the hand of Cinq-Mars, said
slowly and with difficulty, having placed himself near him:
"Yes, my son, and you, my children, I see with joy that my old friend
Bassompierre is about to be delivered by you, and that you are about to
avenge the Comte de Soissons and the young Montmorency. But it is
expedient for youth, all ardent as it is, to listen to those who have
seen much. I have witnessed the League, my children, and I tell you that
you can not now, as then, take the title of the Holy League, the Holy
Union, the Protectors of Saint Peter, or Pillars of the Church, because I
see that you reckon on the support of the Huguenots; nor can you put upon
your great seal of green wax an empty throne, since it is occupied by a
"You may say by two," interrupted Gondi, laughing.
"It is, however, of great importance," continued old Guise, amid the
tumultuous young men, "to take a name to which the people may attach
themselves; that of War for the Public Welfare has been made use of;
Princes of Peace only lately. It is necessary to find one."
"Well, the War of the King," said Cinq-Mars.
"Ay, the War of the King!" cried Gondi and all the young men.
"Moreover," continued the old seigneur, "it is essential to gain the
approval of the theological faculty of the Sorbonne, which heretofore
sanctioned even the 'hautgourdiers' and the 'sorgueurs',--[Names of the
leaguers.]--and to put in force its second proposition--that it is
permitted to the people to disobey the magistrates, and to hang them."
"Eh, Chevalier!" exclaimed Gondi; "this is not the question. Let
Monsieur le Grand speak; we are thinking no more of the Sorbonne at
present than of your Saint Jacques Clement."
There was a laugh, and Cinq-Mars went on:
"I wished, gentlemen, to conceal nothing from you as to the projects of
Monsieur, those of the Duke de Bouillon, or my own, for it is just that
a man who stakes his life should know at what game; but I have placed
before you the least fortunate chances, and I have not detailed our
strength, for there is not one of you but knows the secret of it. Is it
to you, Messieurs de Montresor and de Saint-Thibal, I need tell the
treasures that Monsieur places at our disposal? Is it to you, Monsieur
d'Aignou, Monsieur de Mouy, that I need tell how many gentlemen are eager
to join your companies of men-at-arms and light-horse, to fight the
Cardinalists; how many in Touraine and in Auvergne, where lay the lands
of the House of D'Effiat, and whence will march two thousand seigneurs,
with their vassals?
"Baron de Beauvau, shall I recall the zeal and valor of the cuirassiers
whom you brought to the unhappy Comte de Soissons, whose cause was ours,
and whom you saw assassinated in the midst of his triumph by him whom
with you he had defeated? Shall I tell these gentlemen of the joy of the
Count-Duke of Olivares at the news of our intentions, and the letters of
the Cardinal-Infanta to the Duke de Bouillon? Shall I speak of Paris to
the Abbe de Gondi, to D'Entraigues, and to you, gentlemen, who are daily
witnesses of her misery, of her indignation, and her desire to break
forth? While all foreign nations demand peace, which the Cardinal de
Richelieu still destroys by his want of faith (as he has done in
violating the treaty of Ratisbon), all orders of the State groan under
his violence, and dread that colossal ambition which aspires to no less
than the temporal and even spiritual throne of France."
A murmur of approbation interrupted Cinq-Mars. There was then silence
for a moment; and they heard the sound of wind instruments, and the
measured tread of the dancers.
This noise caused a momentary diversion and a smile in the younger
portion of the assembly.
Cinq-Mars profited by this; and raising his eyes, "Pleasures of youth,"
he cried--"love, music, joyous dances--why do you not alone occupy our
leisure hours? Why are not you our sole ambition? What resentment may
we not justly feel that we have to make our cries of indignation heard
above our bursts of joy, our formidable secrets in the asylum of love,
and our oaths of war and death amid the intoxication of and of life!"
"Curses on him who saddens the youth of a people! When wrinkles furrow
the brow of the young men, we may confidently say that the finger of a
tyrant has hollowed them out. The other troubles of youth give it
despair and not consternation. Watch those sad and mournful students
pass day after day with pale foreheads, slow steps, and half-suppressed
voices. One would think they fear to live or to advance a step toward
the future. What is there then in France? A man too many."
"Yes," he continued; "for two years I have watched the insidious and
profound progress of his ambition. His strange practices, his secret
commissions, his judicial assassinations are known to you. Princes,
peers, marechals--all have been crushed by him. There is not a family in
France but can show some sad trace of his passage. If he regards us all
as enemies to his authority, it is because he would have in France none
but his own house, which twenty years ago held only one of the smallest
fiefs of Poitou.
"The humiliated parliament has no longer any voice. The presidents of
Nismes, Novion, and Bellievre have revealed to you their courageous but
fruitless resistance to the condemnation to death of the Duke de la
"The presidents and councils of sovereign courts have been imprisoned,
banished, suspended--a thing before unheard of--because they have raised
their voices for the king or for the public.
"The highest offices of justice, who fill them? Infamous and corrupt
men, who suck the blood and gold of the country. Paris and the maritime
towns taxed; the rural districts ruined and laid waste by the soldiers
and other agents of the Cardinal; the peasants reduced to feed on animals
killed by the plague or famine, or saving themselves by self-banishment--
such is the work of this new justice. His worthy agents have even coined
money with the effigy of the Cardinal-Duke. Here are some of his royal
The grand ecuyey threw upon the table a score of gold doubloons whereon
Richelieu was represented. A fresh murmur of hatred toward the Cardinal
arose in the apartment.
"And think you the clergy are less trampled on and less discontented?
No. Bishops have been tried against the laws of the State and in
contempt of the respect due to their sacred persons. We have seen, in
consequence, Algerine corsairs commanded by an archbishop. Men of the
lowest condition have been elevated to the cardinalate. The minister
himself, devouring the most sacred things, has had himself elected
general of the orders of Citeaux, Cluny, and Premontre, throwing into
prison the monks who refused him their votes. Jesuits, Carmelites,
Cordeliers, Augustins, Dominicans, have been forced to elect general
vicars in France, in order no longer to communicate at Rome with their
true superiors, because he would be patriarch in France, and head of the
"He's a schismatic! a monster!" cried several voices.
"His progress, then, is apparent, gentlemen. He is ready to seize both
temporal and spiritual power. He has little by little fortified himself
against the King in the strongest towns of France--seized the mouths of
the principal rivers, the best ports of the ocean, the salt-pits, and all
the securities of the kingdom. It is the King, then, whom we must
deliver from this oppression. 'Le roi et la paix!' shall be our cry.
The rest must be left to Providence."
Cinq-Mars greatly astonished the assembly, and De Thou himself, by this
address. No one had ever before heard him speak so long together, not
even in fireside conversation; and he had never by a single word shown
the least aptitude for understanding public affairs. He had, on the
contrary, affected the greatest indifference on the subject, even in the
eyes of those whom he was molding to his projects, merely manifesting a
virtuous indignation at the violence of the minister, but affecting not
to put forward any of his own ideas, in order not to suggest personal
ambition as the aim of his labors. The confidence given to him rested on
his favor with the king and his personal bravery. The surprise of all
present was therefore such as to cause a momentary silence. It was soon
broken by all the transports of Frenchmen, young or old, when fighting of
whatever kind is held out to them.
Among those who came forward to press the hand of the young party leader,
the Abbe de Gondi jumped about like a kid.
"I have already enrolled my regiment!" he cried. "I have some superb
fellows!" Then, addressing Marion de Lorme, "Parbleu! Mademoiselle, I
will wear your colors--your gray ribbon, and your order of the Allumette.
The device is charming--
'Nous ne brullons que pour bruller les autres.'
And I wish you could see all the fine things we shall do if we are
fortunate enough to come to blows."
The fair Marion, who did not like him, began to talk over his head to M.
de Thou--a mortification which always exasperated the little Abbe, who
abruptly left her, walking as tall as he could, and scornfully twisting
All at once a sudden silence took possession of the assembly. A rolled
paper had struck the ceiling and fallen at the feet of Cinq-Mars. He
picked it up and unrolled it, after having looked eagerly around him. He
sought in vain to divine whence it came; all those who advanced had only
astonishment and intense curiosity depicted in their faces.
"Here is my name wrongly written," he said coldly.
"A CINQ MARCS,
CENTURIE DE NOSTRADAMUS.
Quand bonnet rouge passera par la fenetre,
A quarante onces on coupera tete,
Et tout finira."
[This punning prediction was made public three months before the,
"There is a traitor among us, gentlemen," he said, throwing away the
paper. "But no matter. We are not men to be frightened by his
"We must find the traitor out, and throw him through the window," said
the young men.
Still, a disagreeable sensation had come over the assembly. They now
only spoke in whispers, and each regarded his neighbor with distrust.
Some withdrew; the meeting grew thinner. Marion de Lorme repeated to
every one that she would dismiss her servants, who alone could be
suspected. Despite her efforts a coldness reigned throughout the
apartment. The first sentences of Cinq-Mars' address, too, had left some
uncertainty as to the intentions of the King; and this untimely candor
had somewhat shaken a few of the less determined conspirators.
Gondi pointed this out to Cinq-Mars.
"Hark ye!" he said in a low voice. "Believe me, I have carefully
studied conspiracies and assemblages; there are certain purely mechanical
means which it is necessary to adopt. Follow my advice here; I know a
good deal of this sort of thing. They want something more. Give them a
little contradiction; that always succeeds in France. You will quite
make them alive again. Seem not to wish to retain them against their
will, and they will remain."
The grand ecuyer approved of the suggestion, and advancing toward those
whom he knew to be most deeply compromised, said:
"For the rest, gentlemen, I do not wish to force any one to follow me.
Plenty of brave men await us at Perpignan, and all France is with us.
If any one desires to secure himself a retreat, let him speak. We will
give him the means of placing himself in safety at once."
Not one would hear of this proposition; and the movement it occasioned
produced a renewal of the oaths of hatred against the minister.
Cinq-Mars, however, proceeded to put the question individually to some of
the persons present, in the election of whom he showed much judgment; for
he ended with Montresor, who cried that he would pass his sword through
his body if he had for a moment entertained such an idea, and with Gondi,
who, rising fiercely on his heels, exclaimed:
"Monsieur le Grand Ecuyer, my retreat is the archbishopric of Paris and
L'Ile Notre-Dame. I'll make it a place strong enough to keep me from
"And yours?" he said to De Thou.
"At your side," murmured De Thou, lowering his eyes, unwilling to give
importance to his resolution by the directness of his look.
"You will have it so? Well, I accept," said Cinq-Mars; "and my sacrifice
herein, dear friend, is greater than yours." Then turning toward the
"Gentlemen, I see in you the last men of France, for after the
Montmorencys and the Soissons, you alone dare lift a head free and worthy
of our old liberty. If Richelieu triumph, the ancient bases of the
monarchy will crumble with us. The court will reign alone, in the place
of the parliaments, the old barriers, and at the same time the powerful
supports of the royal authority. Let us be conquerors, and France will
owe to us the preservation of her ancient manners and her time-honored
guarantees. And now, gentlemen, it were a pity to spoil the ball on this
account. You hear the music. The ladies await you. Let us go and
"The Cardinal shall pay the fiddlers," added Gondi.
The young men applauded with a laugh; and all reascended to the ballroom
as lightly as they would have gone to the battlefield.
It was on the day following the assembly that had taken place in the
house of Marion de Lorme. A thick snow covered the roofs of Paris and
settled in its large gutters and streets, where it arose in gray heaps,
furrowed by the wheels of carriages.
It was eight o'clock, and the night was dark. The tumult of the city was
silent on account of the thick carpet the winter had spread for it, and
which deadened the sound of the wheels over the stones, and of the feet
of men and horses. In a narrow street that winds round the old church of
St. Eustache, a man, enveloped in his cloak, slowly walked up and down,
constantly watching for the appearance of some one. He often seated
himself upon one of the posts of the church, sheltering himself from the
falling snow under one of the statues of saints which jutted out from the
roof of the building, stretching over the narrow path like birds of prey,
which, about to make a stoop, have folded their wings. Often, too, the
old man, opening his cloak, beat his arms against his breast to warm
himself, or blew upon his fingers, ill protected from the cold by a pair
of buff gloves reaching nearly to the elbow. At last he saw a slight
shadow gliding along the wall.
"Ah, Santa Maria! what villainous countries are these of the North!"
said a woman's voice, trembling. "Ah, the duchy of Mantua! would I were
back there again, Grandchamp!"
"Pshaw! don't speak so loud," said the old domestic, abruptly. "The
walls of Paris have Cardinalist ears, and more especially the walls of
the churches. Has your mistress entered? My master awaits her at the
"Yes, yes; she has gone in."
"Be silent," said Grandchamp. "The sound of the clock is cracked.
That's a bad sign."
"That clock has sounded the hour of a rendezvous."
"For me, it sounds like a passing-bell. But be silent, Laure; here are
three cloaks passing."
They allowed three men to pass. Grandchamp followed them, made sure of
the road they took, and returned to his seat, sighing deeply.
"The snow is cold, Laure, and I am old. Monsieur le Grand might have
chosen another of his men to keep watch for him while he's making love.
It's all very well for you to carry love-letters and ribbons and
portraits and such trash, but for me, I ought to be treated with more
consideration. Monsieur le Marechal would not have done so. Old
domestics give respectability to a house, and should be themselves
"Has your master arrived long, 'caro amico'?"
"Eh, cara, cayo! leave me in peace. We had both been freezing for an
hour when you came. I should have had time to smoke three Turkish pipes.
Attend to your business, and go and look to the other doors of the
church, and see that no suspicious person is prowling about. Since there
are but two vedettes, they must beat about well."
"Ah, what a thing it is to have no one to whom to say a friendly word
when it is so cold! and my poor mistress! to come on foot all the way
from the Hotel de Nevers. Ah, amore! qui regna amore!"
"Come, Italian, wheel about, I tell thee. Let me hear no more of thy
"Ah, Santa Maria! What a harsh voice, dear Grandchamp! You were much
more amiable at Chaumont, in Turena, when you talked to me of 'miei occhi
"Hold thy tongue, prattler! Once more, thy Italian is only good for
buffoons and rope-dancers, or to accompany the learned dogs."
"Ah, Italia mia! Grandchamp, listen to me, and you shall hear the
language of the gods. If you were a gallant man, like him who wrote this
for a Laure like me!"
And she began to hum:
Lieti fiori a felici, e ben nate erbe
Che Madonna pensando premer sole;
Piaggia ch'ascolti su dolci parole
E del bel piede alcun vestigio serbe.
The old soldier was but little used to the voice of a young girl; and in
general when a woman spoke to him, the tone he assumed in answering
always fluctuated between an awkward compliment and an ebullition of
temper. But on this occasion he appeared moved by the Italian song, and
twisted his moustache, which was always with him a sign of embarrassment
and distress. He even omitted a rough sound something like a laugh, and
"Pretty enough, 'mordieu!' that recalls to my mind the siege of Casal;
but be silent, little one. I have not yet heard the Abbe Quillet come.
This troubles me. He ought to have been here before our two young
people; and for some time past--"
Laure, who was afraid of being sent alone to the Place St. Eustache,
answered that she was quite sure he had gone in, and continued:
"Ombrose selve, ove'percote il sole
Che vi fa co'suoi raggi alte a superbe."
"Hum!" said the worthy old soldier, grumbling. "I have my feet in the
snow, and a gutter runs down on my head, and there's death at my heart;
and you sing to me of violets, of the sun, and of grass, and of love.
And, retiring farther in the recess of the church, he leaned his gray
head upon his hands, pensive and motionless. Laure dared not again speak
While her waiting-woman had gone to find Grandchamp, the young and
trembling Marie with a timid hand had pushed open the folding-door of the
She there found Cinq-Mars standing, disguised, and anxiously awaiting
her. As soon as she recognized him, she advanced with rapid steps into
the church, holding her velvet mask over her face, and hastened to take
refuge in a confessional, while Henri carefully closed the door of the
church by which she had entered. He made sure that it could not be
opened on the outside, and then followed his betrothed to kneel within
the place of penitence. Arrived an hour before her, with his old valet,
he had found this open--a certain and understood sign that the Abbe
Quillet, his tutor, awaited him at the accustomed place. His care to
prevent any surprise had made him remain himself to guard the entrance
until the arrival of Marie. Delighted as he was at the punctuality of
the good Abbe, he would still scarcely leave his post to thank him. He
was a second father to him in all but authority; and he acted toward the
good priest without much ceremony.
The old parish church of St. Eustache was dark. Besides the perpetual
lamp, there were only four flambeaux of yellow wax, which, attached above
the fonts against the principal pillars, cast a red glimmer upon the blue
and black marble of the empty church. The light scarcely penetrated the
deep niches of the aisles of the sacred building. In one of the chapels
--the darkest of them--was the confessional, of which we have before
spoken, whose high iron grating and thick double planks left visible only
the small dome and the wooden cross. Here, on either side, knelt Cinq-
Mars and Marie de Mantua. They could scarcely see each other, but found
that the Abbe Quillet, seated between them, was there awaiting them.
They could see through the little grating the shadow of his hood. Henri
d'Effiat approached slowly; he was regulating, as it were, the remainder
of his destiny. It was not before his king that he was about to appear,
but before a more powerful sovereign, before her for whom he had
undertaken his immense work. He was about to test her faith; and he
He trembled still more when his young betrothed knelt opposite to him;
he trembled, because at the sight of this angel he could not help feeling
all the happiness he might lose. He dared not speak first, and remained
for an instant contemplating her head in the shade, that young head upon
which rested all his hopes. Despite his love, whenever he looked upon
her he could not refrain from a kind of dread at having undertaken so
much for a girl, whose passion was but a feeble reflection of his own,
and who perhaps would not appreciate all the sacrifices he had made for
her--bending the firm character of his mind to the compliances of a
courtier, condemning it to the intrigues and sufferings of ambition,
abandoning it to profound combinations, to criminal meditations, to the
gloomy labors of a conspirator.
Hitherto, in their secret interviews, she had always received each fresh
intelligence of his progress with the transports of pleasure of a child,
but without appreciating the labors of each of these so arduous steps
that lead to honors, and always asking him with naivete when he would be
Constable, and when they should marry, as if she were asking him when he
would come to the Caroussel, or whether the weather was fine. Hitherto,
he had smiled at these questions and this ignorance, pardonable at
eighteen, in a girl born to a throne and accustomed to a grandeur natural
to her, which she found around her on her entrance into life; but now he
made more serious reflections upon this character. And when, but just
quitting the imposing assembly of conspirators, representatives of all
the orders of the kingdom, his ear, wherein still resounded the masculine
voices that had sworn to undertake a vast war, was struck with the first
words of her for whom that war was commenced, he feared for the first
time lest this naivete should be in reality simple levity, not coming
from the heart. He resolved to sound it.
"Oh, heavens! how I tremble, Henri!" she said as she entered the
confessional; "you make me come without guards, without a coach. I
always tremble lest I should be seen by my people coming out of the Hotel
de Nevers. How much longer must I yet conceal myself like a criminal?
The Queen was very angry when I avowed the matter to her; and whenever
she speaks to me of it, 'tis with her severe air that you know, and which
always makes me weep. Oh, I am terribly afraid!"
She was silent; Cinq-Mars replied only with a deep sigh.
"How! you do not speak to me!" she said.
"Are these, then, all your terrors?" asked Cinq-Mars, bitterly.
"Can I have greater? Oh, 'mon ami', in what a tone, with what a voice,
do you address me! Are you angry because I came too late?"
"Too soon, Madame, much too soon, for the things you are to hear--for I
see you are far from prepared for them."
Marie, affected at the gloomy and bitter tone of his voice, began to
"Alas, what have I done," she said, "that you should call me Madame, and
treat me thus harshly?"
"Be tranquil," replied Cinq-Mars, but with irony in his tone. "'Tis not,
indeed, you who are guilty; but I--I alone; not toward you, but for you."
"Have you done wrong, then? Have you ordered the death of any one? Oh,
no, I am sure you have not, you are so good!"
"What!" said Cinq-Mars, "are you as nothing in my designs? Did I
misconstrue your thoughts when you looked at me in the Queen's boudoir?
Can I no longer read in your eyes? Was the fire which animated them that
of a love for Richelieu? That admiration which you promised to him who
should dare to say all to the King, where is it? Is it all a falsehood?"
Marie burst into tears.
"You still speak to me with bitterness," she said; "I have not deserved
it. Do you suppose, because I speak not of this fearful conspiracy, that
I have forgotten it? Do you not see me miserable at the thought? Must
you see my tears? Behold them; I shed enough in secret. Henri, believe
that if I have avoided this terrible subject in our last interviews, it
is from the fear of learning too much. Have I any other thought that
that of your dangers? Do I not know that it is for me you incur them?
Alas! if you fight for me, have I not also to sustain attacks no less
cruel? Happier than I, you have only to combat hatred, while I struggle
against friendship. The Cardinal will oppose to you men and weapons; but
the Queen, the gentle Anne of Austria, employs only tender advice,
caresses, sometimes tears."
"Touching and invincible constraint to make you accept a throne," said
Cinq-Mars, bitterly. "I well conceive you must need some efforts to
resist such seductions; but first, Madame, I must release you from your
"Alas, great Heaven! what is there, then, against us?"
"There is God above us, and against us," replied Henri, in a severe tone;
"the King has deceived me."
There was an agitated movement on the part of the Abbe.
Marie exclaimed, "I foresaw it; this is the misfortune I dreamed and
dreamed of! It is I who caused it?"
"He deceived me, as he pressed my hand," continued Cinq-Mars; "he
betrayed me by the villain Joseph, whom an offer has been made to me to
The Abbe gave a start of horror which half opened the door of the
"O father, fear nothing," said Henri d'Effiat; "your pupil will never
strike such blows. Those I prepare will be heard from afar, and the
broad day will light them up; but there remains a duty--a sacred duty--
for me to fulfil. Behold your son sacrifice himself before you! Alas!
I have not lived long in the sight of happiness, and I am about, perhaps,
to destroy it by your hand, that consecrated it."
As he spoke, he opened the light grating which separated him from his old
tutor; the latter, still observing an extraordinary silence, passed his
hood over his forehead.
"Restore this nuptial ring to the Duchesse de Mantua," said Cinq-Mars,
in a tone less firm; "I can not keep it unless she give it me a second
time, for I am not the same whom she promised to espouse."
The priest hastily seized the ring, and passed it through the opposite
grating; this mark of indifference astonished Cinq-Mars.
"What! Father," he said, "are you also changed?"
Marie wept no longer; but, raising her angelic voice, which awakened a
faint echo along the aisles of the church, as the softest sigh of the
organ, she said, returning the ring to Cinq-Mars:
"O dearest, be not angry! I comprehend you not. Can we break asunder
what God has just united, and can I leave you, when I know you are
unhappy? If the King no longer loves you, at least you may be assured he
will not harm you, since he has not harmed the Cardinal, whom he never
loved. Do you think yourself undone, because he is perhaps unwilling to
separate from his old servant? Well, let us await the return of his
friendship; forget these conspirators, who affright me. If they give up
hope, I shall thank Heaven, for then I shall no longer tremble for you.
Why needlessly afflict ourselves? The Queen loves us, and we are both
very young; let us wait. The future is beautiful, since we are united
and sure of ourselves. Tell me what the King said to you at Chambord.
I followed you long with my eyes. Heavens! how sad to me was that
"He has betrayed me, I tell you," answered Cinq-Mars. "Yet who could
have believed it, that saw him press our hands, turning from his brother
to me, and to the Duc de Bouillon, making himself acquainted with the
minutest details of the conspiracy, of the very day on which Richelieu
was to be arrested at Lyons, fixing himself the place of his exile (our
party desired his death, but the recollection of my father made me ask
his life). The King said that he himself would direct the whole affair
at Perpignan; yet just before, Joseph, that foul spy, had issued from out
of the cabinet du Lys. O Marie! shall I own it? at the moment I heard
this, my very soul was tossed. I doubted everything; it seemed to me
that the centre of the world was unhinged when I found truth quit the
heart of the King. I saw our whole edifice crumble to the ground;
another hour, and the conspiracy would vanish away, and I should lose you
forever. One means remained; I employed it."
"What means?" said Marie.
"The treaty with Spain was in my hand; I signed it."
"Ah, heavens! destroy it."
"It is gone."
"Who bears it?"
"He will, ere this, have passed the defiles of Oleron," said Cinq-Mars,
rising up. "All is ready at Madrid, all at Sedan. Armies await me,
Marie--armies! Richelieu is in the midst of them. He totters; it needs
but one blow to overthrow him, and you are mine forever--forever the wife
of the triumphant Cinq-Mars."
"Of Cinq-Mars the rebel," she said, sighing.
"Well, have it so, the rebel; but no longer the favorite. Rebel,
criminal, worthy of the scaffold, I know it," cried the impassioned
youth, falling on his knees; "but a rebel for love, a rebel for you,
whom my sword will at last achieve for me."
"Alas, a sword imbrued in the blood of your country! Is it not a
"Pause! for pity, pause, Marie! Let kings abandon me, let warriors
forsake me, I shall only be the more firm; but a word from you will
vanquish me, and once again the time for reflection will be passed from
me. Yes, I am a criminal; and that is why I still hesitate to think
myself worthy of you. Abandon me, Marie; take back the ring."
"I can not," she said; "for I am your wife, whatever you be."
"You hear her, father!" exclaimed Cinq-Mars, transported with happiness;
"bless this second union, the work of devotion, even more beautiful than
that of love. Let her be mine while I live."
Without answering, the Abbe opened the door of the confessional and had
quitted the church ere Cinq-Mars had time to rise and follow him.
"Where are you going? What is the matter?" he cried.
But no one answered.
"Do not call out, in the name of Heaven!" said Marie, "or I am lost; he
has doubtless heard some one in the church."
But D'Effiat, agitated, and without answering her, rushed forth, and
sought his late tutor through the church, but in vain. Drawing his
sword, he proceeded to the entrance which Grandchamp had to guard; he
called him and listened.
"Now let him go," said a voice at the corner of the street; and at the
same moment was heard the galloping of horses.
"Grandchamp, wilt thou answer?" cried Cinq-Mars.
"Help, Henri, my dear boy!" exclaimed the voice of the Abbe Quillet.
"Whence come you? You endanger me," said the grand ecuyer, approaching
But he saw that his poor tutor, without a hat in the falling snow, was in
a most deplorable condition.
"They stopped me, and they robbed me," he cried. "The villains, the
assassins! they prevented me from calling out; they stopped my mouth
with a handkerchief."
At this noise, Grandchamp at length came, rubbing his eyes, like one just
awakened. Laure, terrified, ran into the church to her mistress; all
hastily followed her to reassure Marie, and then surrounded the old Abbe.
"The villains! they bound my hands, as you see. There were more than
twenty of them; they took from me the key of the side door of the
"How! just now?" said Cinq-Mars; "and why did you quit us?"
"Quit you! why, they have kept me there two hours."
"Two hours!" cried Henri, terrified.
"Ah, miserable old man that I am!" said Grandchamp; "I have slept while
my master was in danger. It is the first time."
"You were not with us, then, in the confessional?" continued Cinq-Mars,
anxiously, while Marie tremblingly pressed against his arm.
"What!" said the Abbe, "did you not see the rascal to whom they gave my
"No! whom?" cried all at once.
"Father Joseph," answered the good priest.
"Fly! you are lost!" cried Marie.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
They have believed me incapable because I was kind
They tremble while they threaten
By ALFRED DE VIGNY
'Blow, blow, thou winter wind;
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude.
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly.
Most friendship is feigning; most loving mere folly.'
Amid that long and superb chain of the Pyrenees which forms the embattled
isthmus of the peninsula, in the centre of those blue pyramids, covered
in gradation with snow, forests, and downs, there opens a narrow defile,
a path cut in the dried-up bed of a perpendicular torrent; it circulates
among rocks, glides under bridges of frozen snow, twines along the edges
of inundated precipices to scale the adjacent mountains of Urdoz and
Oleron, and at last rising over their unequal ridges, turns their
nebulous peak into a new country which has also its mountains and its
depths, and, quitting France, descends into Spain. Never has the hoof of
the mule left its trace in these windings; man himself can with
difficulty stand upright there, even with the hempen boots which can not
slip, and the hook of the pikestaff to force into the crevices of the
In the fine summer months the 'pastour', in his brown cape, and his black
long-bearded ram lead hither flocks, whose flowing wool sweeps the turf.
Nothing is heard in these rugged places but the sound of the large bells
which the sheep carry, and whose irregular tinklings produce unexpected
harmonies, casual gamuts, which astonish the traveller and delight the
savage and silent shepherd. But when the long month of September comes,
a shroud of snow spreads itself from the peak of the mountains down to
their base, respecting only this deeply excavated path, a few gorges open
by torrents, and some rocks of granite, which stretch out their
fantastical forms, like the bones of a buried world.
It is then that light troops of chamois make their appearance, with their
twisted horns extending over their backs, spring from rock to rock as if
driven before the wind, and take possession of their aerial desert.
Flights of ravens and crows incessantly wheel round and round in the
gulfs and natural wells which they transform into dark dovecots, while
the brown bear, followed by her shaggy family, who sport and tumble
around her in the snow, slowly descends from their retreat invaded by the
frost. But these are neither the most savage nor the most cruel
inhabitants that winter brings into these mountains; the daring smuggler
raises for himself a dwelling of wood on the very boundary of nature and
of politics. There unknown treaties, secret exchanges, are made between
the two Navarres, amid fogs and winds.
It was in this narrow path on the frontiers of France that, about two
months after the scenes we have witnessed in Paris, two travellers,
coming from Spain, stopped at midnight, fatigued and dismayed. They
heard musket-shots in the mountain.
"The scoundrels! how they have pursued us!" said one of them. "I can
go no farther; but for you I should have been taken."
"And you will be taken still, as well as that infernal paper, if you lose
your time in words; there is another volley on the rock of Saint Pierre-
de-L'Aigle. Up there, they suppose we have gone in the direction of the
Limacon; but, below, they will see the contrary. Descend; it is
doubtless a patrol hunting smugglers. Descend."
"But how? I can not see."
"Never mind, descend. Take my arm."
"Hold me; my boots slip," said the first traveller, stamping on the edge
of the rock to make sure of the solidity of the ground before trusting
himself upon it.
"Go on; go on!" said the other, pushing him. "There's one of the
rascals passing over our heads."
And, in fact, the shadow of a man, armed with a long gun, was reflected
on the snow. The two adventurers stood motionless. The man passed on.
They continued their descent.
"They will take us," said the one who was supporting the other. "They
have turned us. Give me your confounded parchment. I wear the dress of
a smuggler, and I can pass for one seeking an asylum among them; but you
would have no resource with your laced dress."
"You are right," said his companion; and, resting his foot against the
edge of the rock, and reclining on the slope, he gave him a roll of
A gun was fired, and a ball buried itself, hissing, in the snow at their
"Marked!" said the first. "Roll down. If you are not dead when you get
to the bottom, take the road you see before you. On the left of the
hollow is Santa Maria. But turn to the right; cross Oleron; and you are
on the road to Pau and are saved. Go; roll down."
As he spoke, he pushed his comrade, and without condescending to look
after him, and himself neither ascending nor descending, followed the
flank of the mountain horizontally, hanging on by rocks, branches, and
even by plants, with the strength and energy of a wild-cat, and soon
found himself on firm ground before a small wooden hut, through which a
light was visible. The adventurer went all around it, like a hungry wolf
round a sheepfold, and, applying his eye to one of the openings,
apparently saw what determined him, for without further hesitation he
pushed the tottering door, which was not even fastened by a latch. The
whole but shook with the blow he had given it. He then saw that it was
divided into two cabins by a partition. A large flambeau of yellow wax
lighted the first. There, a young girl, pale and fearfully thin, was
crouched in a corner on the damp floor, just where the melted snow ran
under the planks of the cottage. Very long black hair, entangled and
covered with dust, fell in disorder over her coarse brown dress; the red
hood of the Pyrenees covered her head and shoulders. Her eyes were cast
down; and she was spinning with a small distaff attached to her waist.
The entry of a man did not appear to move her in the least.
"Ha! La moza,--[girl]-- get up and give me something to drink. I am
tired and thirsty."
The young girl did not answer, and, without raising her eyes, continued
to spin assiduously.
"Dost hear?" said the stranger, thrusting her with his foot. "Go and
tell thy master that a friend wishes to see him; but first give me some
drink. I shall sleep here."
She answered, in a hoarse voice, still spinning:
"I drink the snow that melts on the rock, or the green scum that floats
on the water of the swamp. But when I have spun well, they give me water
from the iron spring. When I sleep, the cold lizards crawl over my face;
but when I have well cleaned a mule, they throw me hay. The hay is warm;
the hay is good and warm. I put it under my marble feet."
"What tale art thou telling me?" said Jacques. "I spoke not of thee."
"They make me hold a man while they kill him. Oh, what blood I have had
on my hands! God forgive them!--if that be possible. They make me hold
his head, and the bucket filled with crimson water. O Heaven!--I, who
was the bride of God! They throw their bodies into the abyss of snow;
but the vulture finds them; he lines his nest with their hair. I now see
thee full of life; I shall see thee bloody, pale, and dead."
The adventurer, shrugging his shoulders, began to whistle as he passed
the second door. Within he found the man he had seen through the chinks
of the cabin. He wore the blue berret cap of the Basques on one side,
and, enveloped in an ample cloak, seated on the pack-saddle of a mule,
and bending over a large brazier, smoked a cigar, and from time to time
drank from a leather bottle at his side. The light of the brazier showed
his full yellow face, as well as the chamber, in which mule-saddles were
ranged round the byasero as seats. He raised his head without altering
"Oh, oh! is it thou, Jacques?" he said. "Is it thou? Although 'tis
four years since I saw thee, I recognize thee. Thou art not changed,
brigand! There 'tis still, thy great knave's face. Sit down there, and
take a drink."
"Yes, here I am. But how the devil camest thou here? I thought thou
wert a judge, Houmain!"
"And I thought thou wert a Spanish captain, Jacques!"
"Ah! I was so for a time, and then a prisoner. But I got out of the
thing very snugly, and have taken again to the old trade, the free life,
the good smuggling work."
"Viva! viva! Jaleo!"--[A common Spanish oath.]-- cried Houmain. "We
brave fellows can turn our hands to everything. Thou camest by the other
passes, I suppose, for I have not seen thee since I returned to the
"Yes, yes; I have passed where thou wilt never pass," said Jacques.
"And what hast got?"
"A new merchandise. My mules will come tomorrow."
"Silk sashes, cigars, or linen?"
"Thou wilt know in time, amigo," said the ruffian. "Give me the skin.
"Here, drink. It's true Valdepenas! We're so jolly here, we bandoleros!
Ay! jaleo! jaleo! come, drink; our friends are coming."
"What friends?" said Jacques, dropping the horn.
"Don't be uneasy, but drink. I'll tell thee all about it presently, and
then we'll sing the Andalusian Tirana."--[A kind of ballad.]
The adventurer took the horn, and assumed an appearance of ease.
"And who's that great she-devil I saw out there?" he said. "She seems
"Oh, no! she's only mad. Drink; I'll tell thee all about her."
And taking from his red sash a long poniard denticulated on each side
like a saw, Houmain used it to stir up the fire, and said with vast
"Thou must know first, if thou dost not know it already, that down below
there [he pointed toward France] the old wolf Richelieu carries all
"Ah, ah!" said Jacques.
"Yes; they call him the king of the King. Thou knowest? There is,
however, a young man almost as strong as he, and whom they call Monsieur
le Grand. This young fellow commands almost the whole army of Perpignan
at this moment. He arrived there a month ago; but the old fox is still
at Narbonne--a very cunning fox, indeed. As to the King, he is sometimes
this, sometimes that [as he spoke, Houmain turned his hand outward and
inward], between zist and zest; but while he is determining, I am for
zist--that is to say, I'm a Cardinalist. I've been regularly doing
business for my lord since the first job he gave me, three years ago.
I'll tell thee about it. He wanted some men of firmness and spirit for a
little expedition, and sent for me to be judge-Advocate."
"Ah! a very pretty post, I've heard."
"Yes, 'tis a trade like ours, where they sell cord instead of thread; but
it is less honest, for they kill men oftener. But 'tis also more
profitable; everything has its price."
"Very properly so," said Jacques.
"Behold me, then, in a red robe. I helped to give a yellow one and
brimstone to a fine fellow, who was cure at Loudun, and who had got into
a convent of nuns, like a wolf in a fold; and a fine thing he made of
"Ha, ha, ha! That's very droll!" laughed Jacques. "Drink," said
Houmain. "Yes, Jago, I saw him after the affair, reduced to a little
black heap like this charcoal. See, this charcoal at the end of my
poniard. What things we are! That's just what we shall all come to when
we go to the Devil."
"Oh, none of these pleasantries!" said the other, very gravely. "You
know that I am religious."
"Well, I don't say no; it may be so," said Houmain, in the same tone.
"There's Richelieu, a Cardinal! But, no matter. Thou must know, then,
as I was Advocate-General, I advocated--"
"Ah, thou art quite a wit!"
"Yes, a little. But, as I was saying, I advocated into my own pocket
five hundred piastres, for Armand Duplessis pays his people well, and
there's nothing to be said against that, except that the money's not his
own; but that's the way with us all. I determined to invest this money
in our old trade; and I returned here. Business goes on well. There is
sentence of death out against us; and our goods, of course, sell for half
as much again as before."
"What's that?" exclaimed Jacques; "lightning at this time of year?"
"Yes, the storms are beginning; we've had two already. We are in the
clouds. Dost hear the roll of the thunder? But this is nothing; come,
drink. 'Tis almost one in the morning; we'll finish the skin and the
night together. As I was telling thee, I made acquaintance with our
president--a great scoundrel called Laubardemont. Dost know him?"
"Yes, a little," said Jacques; "he's a regular miser. But never mind
that; go on."
"Well, as we had nothing to conceal from one another, I told him of my
little commercial plans, and asked him, when any good jobs presented
themselves, to think of his judicial comrade; and I've had no cause to
complain of him."
"Ah!" said Jacques, "and what has he done?"
"Why, first, two years ago, he himself brought, me, on horseback behind
him, his niece that thou'st seen out there."
"His niece!" cried Jacques, rising; "and thou treat'st her like a slave!
"Drink," said Houmain, quietly stirring the brazier with his poniard; "he
himself desired it should be so. Sit down."
Jacques did so.
"I don't think," continued the smuggler, "that he'd even be sorry to know
that she was--dost understand?--to hear she was under the snow rather
than above it; but he would not put her there himself, because he's a
good relative, as he himself said."
"And as I know," said Jacques; "but go on."
"Thou mayst suppose that a man like him, who lives at court, does not
like to have a mad niece in his house. The thing is self-evident; if I'd
continued to play my part of the man of the robe, I should have done the
same in a similar case. But here, as you perceive, we don't care much
for appearances; and I've taken her for a servant. She has shown more
good sense than I expected, although she has rarely ever spoken more than
a single word, and at first came the delicate over us. Now she rubs down
a mule like a groom. She has had a slight fever for the last few days;
but 'twill pass off one way or the other. But, I say, don't tell
Laubardemont that she still lives; he'd think 'twas for the sake of
economy I've kept her for a servant."
"How! is he here?" cried Jacques.
"Drink!" replied the phlegmatic Houmain, who himself set the example
most assiduously, and began to half shut his eyes with a languishing air.
"'Tis the second transaction I've had with this Laubardemont--or demon,
or whatever the name is; but 'tis a good devil of a demon, at all events.
I love him as I do my eyes; and I will drink his health out of this
bottle of Jurangon here. 'Tis the wine of a jolly fellow, the late King
Henry. How happy we are here!--Spain on the right hand, France on the
left; the wine-skin on one side, the bottle on the other! The bottle!
I've left all for the bottle!"
As he spoke, he knocked off the neck of a bottle of white wine. After
taking a long draught, he continued, while the stranger closely watched
"Yes, he's here; and his feet must be rather cold, for he's been waiting
about the mountains ever since sunset, with his guards and our comrades.
Thou knowest our bandoleros, the true contrabandistas?"
"Ah! and what do they hunt?" said Jacques.
"Ah, that's the joke!" answered the drunkard. "'Tis to arrest two
rascals, who want to bring here sixty thousand Spanish soldiers in paper
in their pocket. You don't, perhaps, quite understand me, 'croquant'.
Well, 'tis as I tell thee--in their own pockets."
"Ay, ay! I understand," said Jacques, loosening his poniard in his sash,
and looking at the door.
"Very well, devil's-skin, let's sing the Tirana. Take the bottle, throw
away the cigar, and sing."
With these words the drunken host began to sing in Spanish, interrupting
his song with bumpers, which he threw down his throat, leaning back for
the greater ease, while Jacques, still seated, looked at him gloomily by
the light of the brazier, and meditated what he should do.
A flash of lightning entered the small window, and filled the room with a
sulphurous odor. A fearful clap immediately followed; the cabin shook;
and a beam fell outside.
"Hallo, the house!" cried the drunken man; "the Devil's among us; and
our friends are not come!"
"Sing!" said Jacques, drawing the pack upon which he was close to that
The latter drank to encourage himself, and then continued to sing.
As he ended, he felt his seat totter, and fell backward; Jacques, thus
freed from him, sprang toward the door, when it opened, and his head
struck against the cold, pale face of the mad-woman. He recoiled.
"The judge!" she said, as she entered; and she fell prostrate on the
Jacques had already passed one foot over her; but another face appeared,
livid and surprised-that of a very tall man, enveloped in a cloak covered
with snow. He again recoiled, and laughed a laugh of terror and rage.
It was Laubardemont, followed by armed men; they looked at one another.
"Ah, com-r-a-d-e, yo-a ra-a-scal!" hiccuped Houmain, rising with
difficulty; "thou'rt a Royalist."
But when he saw these two men, who seemed petrified by each other, he
became silent, as conscious of his intoxication; and he reeled forward to
raise up the madwoman, who was still lying between the judge and the
Captain. The former spoke first.
"Are you not he we have been pursuing?"
"It is he!" said the armed men, with one voice; "the other has escaped."
Jacques receded to the split planks that formed the tottering wall of the
hut; enveloping himself in his cloak, like a bear forced against a tree
by the hounds, and, wishing to gain a moment's respite for reflection, he
"The first who passes that brazier and the body of that girl is a dead
And he drew a long poniard from his cloak. At this moment Houmain,
kneeling, turned the head of the girl. Her eyes were closed; he drew her
toward the brazier, which lighted up her face.
"Ah, heavens!" cried Laubardemont, forgetting himself in his fright; "
"Be calm, my lo-lord," said Houmain, trying to open the eyelids, which
closed again, and to raise her head, which fell back again like wet
linen; "be, be--calm! Do-n't ex-cite yourself; she's dead, decidedly."
Jacques put his foot on the body as on a barrier, and, looking with a
ferocious laugh in the face of Laubardemont, said to him in a low voice:
"Let me pass, and I will not compromise thee, courtier; I will not tell
that she was thy niece, and that I am thy son."
Laubardemont collected himself, looked at his men, who pressed around him
with advanced carabines; and, signing them to retire a few steps, he
answered in a very low voice:
"Give me the treaty, and thou shalt pass."
"Here it is, in my girdle; touch it, and I will call you my father aloud.
What will thy master say?"
"Give it me, and I will spare thy life."
"Let me pass, and I will pardon thy having given me that life."
"Still the same, brigand?"
"What matters to thee that boy conspirator?" asked the judge.
"What matters to thee that old man who reigns?" answered the other.
"Give me that paper; I've sworn to have it."
"Leave it with me; I've sworn to carry it back."
"What can be thy oath and thy God?" demanded Laubardemont.
"And thine?" replied Jacques. "Is't the crucifix of red-hot iron?"
Here Houmain, rising between them, laughing and staggering, said to the
judge, slapping him on the shoulder.
"You are a long time coming to an understanding, friend; do-on't you know
him of old? He's a very good fellow."
"I? no!" cried Laubardemont, aloud; "I never saw him before."
At this moment, Jacques, who was protected by the drunkard and the
smallness of the crowded chamber, sprang violently against the weak
planks that formed the wall, and by a blow of his heel knocked two of
them out, and passed through the space thus created. The whole side of
the cabin was broken; it tottered, and the wind rushed in.
"Hallo! Demonio! Santo Demonio! where art going?" cried the smuggler;
"thou art breaking my house down, and on the side of the ravine, too."
All cautiously approached, tore away the planks that remained, and leaned
over the abyss. They contemplated a strange spectacle. The storm raged
in all its fury; and it was a storm of the Pyrenees. Enormous flashes of
lightning came all at once from all parts of the horizon, and their fires
succeeded so quickly that there seemed no interval; they appeared to be a
continuous flash. It was but rarely the flaming vault would suddenly
become obscure; and it then instantly resumed its glare. It was not the
light that seemed strange on this night, but the darkness.
The tall thin peaks and whitened rocks stood out from the red background
like blocks of marble on a cupola of burning brass, and resembled, amid
the snows, the wonders of a volcano; the waters gushed from them like
flames; the snow poured down like dazzling lava.
In this moving mass a man was seen struggling, whose efforts only
involved him deeper and deeper in the whirling and liquid gulf; his knees
were already buried. In vain he clasped his arms round an enormous
pyramidal and transparent icicle, which reflected the lightning like a
rock of crystal; the icicle itself was melting at its base, and slowly
bending over the declivity of the rock. Under the covering of snow,
masses of granite were heard striking against each other, as they
descended into the vast depths below. Yet they could still save him;
a space of scarcely four feet separated him from Laubardemont.
"I sink!" he cried; "hold out to me something, and thou shalt have the
"Give it me, and I will reach thee this musket," said the judge.
"There it is," replied the ruffian, "since the Devil is for Richelieu!"
and taking one hand from the hold of his slippery support, he threw a
roll of wood into the cabin. Laubardemont rushed back upon the treaty
like a wolf on his prey. Jacques in vain held out his arm; he slowly
glided away with the enormous thawing block turned upon him, and was
silently buried in the snow.
"Ah, villain," were his last words, "thou hast deceived me! but thou
didst not take the treaty from me. I gave it thee, Father!" and he
disappeared wholly under the thick white bed of snow. Nothing was seen
in his place but the glittering flakes which the lightning had ploughed
up, as it became extinguished in them; nothing was--heard but the rolling
of the thunder and the dash of the water against the rocks, for the men
in the half-ruined cabin, grouped round a corpse and a villain, were
silent, tongue-tied with horror, and fearing lest God himself should send
a thunderbolt upon them.
L'absence est le plus grand des maux,
Non pas pour vous, cruelle !
Who has not found a charm in watching the clouds of heaven as they float
along? Who has not envied them the freedom of their journeyings through
the air, whether rolled in great masses by the wind, and colored by the
sun, they advance peacefully, like fleets of dark ships with gilt prows,
or sprinkled in light groups, they glide quickly on, airy and elongated,
like birds of passage, transparent as vast opals detached from the
treasury of the heavens, or glittering with whiteness, like snows from
the mountains carried on the wings of the winds? Man is a slow traveller
who envies those rapid journeyers; less rapid than his imagination, they
have yet seen in a single day all the places he loves, in remembrance or
in hope,--those that have witnessed his happiness or his misery, and
those so beautiful countries unknown to us, where we expect to find
everything at once. Doubtless there is not a spot on the whole earth, a
wild rock, an arid plain, over which we pass with indifference, that has
not been consecrated in the life of some man, and is not painted in his
remembrance; for, like battered vessels, before meeting inevitable wreck,
we leave some fragment of ourselves on every rock.
Whither go the dark-blue clouds of that storm of the Pyrenees? It is the
wind of Africa which drives them before it with a fiery breath. They
fly; they roll over one another, growlingly throwing out lightning before
them, as their torches, and leaving suspended behind them a long train of
rain, like a vaporous robe. Freed by an effort from the rocky defiles
that for a moment had arrested their course, they irrigate, in Bearn, the
picturesque patrimony of Henri IV; in Guienne, the conquests of Charles
VII; in Saintogne, Poitou, and Touraine, those of Charles V and of Philip
Augustus; and at last, slackening their pace above the old domain of Hugh
Capet, halt murmuring on the towers of St. Germain.
"O Madame!" exclaimed Marie de Mantua to the Queen, "do you see this
storm coming up from the south?"
"You often look in that direction, 'ma chere'," answered Anne of Austria,
leaning on the balcony.
"It is the direction of the sun, Madame."
"And of tempests, you see," said the Queen. "Trust in my friendship, my
child; these clouds can bring no happiness to you. I would rather see
you turn your eyes toward Poland. See the fine people you might
At this moment, to avoid the rain, which began to fall, the Prince-
Palatine passed rapidly under the windows of the Queen, with a numerous
suite of young Poles on horseback. Their Turkish vests, with buttons of
diamonds, emeralds, and rubies; their green and gray cloaks; the lofty
plumes of their horses, and their adventurous air-gave them a singular
eclat to which the court had easily become accustomed. They paused for a
moment, and the Prince made two salutes, while the light animal he rode
passed gracefully sideways, keeping his front toward the princesses;
prancing and snorting, he shook his mane, and seemed to salute by putting
his head between his legs. The whole suite repeated the evolution as
they passed. The Princesse Marie had at first shrunk back, lest they
should see her tears; but the brilliant and flattering spectacle made her
return to the balcony, and she could not help exclaiming:
"How gracefully the Palatine rides that beautiful horse! he seems scarce
conscious of it."
The Queen smiled, and said:
"He is conscious about her who might be his queen tomorrow, if she would
but make a sign of the head, and let but one glance from her great black
almond-shaped eyes be turned on that throne, instead of always receiving
these poor foreigners with poutings, as now."
And Anne of Austria kissed the cheek of Marie, who could not refrain from
smiling also; but she instantly sunk her head, reproaching herself, and
resumed her sadness, which seemed gliding from her. She even needed once
more to contemplate the great clouds that hung over the chateau.
"Poor child," continued the Queen, "thou dost all thou canst to be very
faithful, and to keep thyself in the melancholy of thy romance. Thou art
making thyself ill with weeping when thou shouldst be asleep, and with
not eating. Thou passest the night in revery and in writing; but I warn
thee, thou wilt get nothing by it, except making thyself thin and less
beautiful, and the not being a queen. Thy Cinq-Mars is an ambitious
youth, who has lost himself."
Seeing Marie conceal her head in her handkerchief to weep, Anne of
Austria for a moment reentered her chamber, leaving Marie in the balcony,
and feigned to be looking for some jewels at her toilet-table; she soon
returned, slowly and gravely, to the window. Marie was more calm, and
was gazing sorrowfully at the landscape before her, the hills in the
distance, and the storm gradually spreading itself.
The Queen resumed in a more serious tone:
"God has been more merciful to you than your imprudence perhaps deserved,
Marie. He has saved you from great danger. You were willing to make
great sacrifices, but fortunately they have not been accomplished as you
expected. Innocence has saved you from love. You are as one who,
thinking she has swallowed a deadly poison, has in reality drunk only
pure and harmless water."
"Ah, Madame, what mean you? Am I not unhappy enough already?"
"Do not interrupt me," said the Queen; "you will, ere long, see your
present position with different eyes. I will not accuse you of
ingratitude toward the Cardinal; I have too many reasons for not liking
him. I myself witnessed the rise of the conspiracy. Still, you should
remember, 'ma chere', that he was the only person in France who, against
the opinion of the Queen-mother and of the court, insisted upon war with
the duchy of Mantua, which he recovered from the empire and from Spain,
and returned to the Duc de Nevers, your father. Here, in this very
chateau of Saint-Germain, was signed the treaty which deposed the Duke of
Guastalla.--[The 19th of May, 1632.]-- You were then very young; they
must, however, have told you of it. Yet here, through love alone (I am
willing to believe, with yourself, that it is so), a young man of two-
and-twenty is ready to get him assassinated."
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