Cinq Mars, v4
Alfred de Vigny
This etext was produced by David Widger
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]
By ALFRED DE VIGNY
"Thus with imagin'd wing our swift scene flies,
In motion of no less celerity
Than that of thought,"
exclaims the immortal Shakespeare in the chorus of one of his tragedies.
"Suppose that you have seen
The well-appointed king
Embark his royalty; and his brave fleet
With silken streamers the young Phoebus fanning.
. . . . . .
. . . behold,
With this poetic movement he traverses time and space, and transports at
will the attentive assembly to the theatre of his sublime scenes.
We shall avail ourselves of the same privilege, though without the same
genius. No more than he shall we seat ourselves upon the tripod of the
unities, but merely casting our eyes upon Paris and the old dark palace
of the Louvre, we will at once pass over the space of two hundred leagues
and the period of two years.
Two years! what changes may they not have upon men, upon their families,
and, above all, in that great and so troublous family of nations, whose
long alliances a single day suffices to destroy, whose wars are ended by
a birth, whose peace is broken by a death! We ourselves have beheld
kings returning to their dwelling on a spring day; that same day a vessel
sailed for a voyage of two years. The navigator returned. The kings
were seated upon their thrones; nothing seemed to have taken place in his
absence, and yet God had deprived those kings of a hundred days of their
But nothing was changed for France in 1642, the epoch to which we turn,
except her fears and her hopes. The future alone had changed its aspect.
Before again beholding our personages, we must contemplate at large the
state of the kingdom.
The powerful unity of the monarchy was rendered still more imposing by
the misfortunes of the neighboring States. The revolutions in England,
and those in Spain and Portugal, rendered the peace which France enjoyed
still more admired. Strafford and Olivares, overthrown or defeated,
aggrandized the immovable Richelieu.
Six formidable armies, reposing upon their triumphant weapons, served as
a rampart to the kingdom. Those of the north, in league with Sweden, had
put the Imperialists to flight, still pursued by the spirit of Gustavus
Adolphus, those on the frontiers of Italy had in Piedmont received the
keys of the towns which had been defended by Prince Thomas; and those
which strengthened the chain of the Pyrenees held in check revolted
Catalonia, and chafed before Perpignan, which they were not allowed to
take. The interior was not happy, but tranquil. An invisible genius
seemed to have maintained this calm, for the King, mortally sick,
languished at St. Germain with a young favorite; and the Cardinal was,
they said, dying at Narbonne. Some deaths, however, betrayed that he yet
lived; and at intervals, men falling as if struck by a poisonous blast
recalled to mind the invisible power.
St.-Preuil, one of Richelieu's enemies, had just laid his "iron head"
upon the scaffold without shame or fear, as he himself said on mounting
Meantime, France seemed to govern herself, for the prince and the
minister had been separated a long time; and of these two sick men, who
hated each other, one never had held the reins of State, the other no
longer showed his power--he was no longer named in the public acts; he
appeared no longer in the government, and seemed effaced everywhere; he
slept, like the spider surrounded by his webs.
If some events and some revolutions had taken place during these two
years, it must have been in hearts; it must have been some of those
occult changes from which, in monarchies without firm foundation,
terrible overthrows and long and bloody dissensions arise.
To enlighten ourselves, let us glance at the old black building of the
unfinished Louvre, and listen to the conversation of those who inhabited
it and those who surrounded it.
It was the month of December; a rigorous winter had afflicted Paris,
where the misery and inquietude of the people were extreme. However,
curiosity was still alive, and they were eager for the spectacles given
by the court. Their poverty weighed less heavily upon them while they
contemplated the agitations of the rich. Their tears were less bitter on
beholding the struggles of power; and the blood of the nobles which
reddened their streets, and seemed the only blood worthy of being shed,
made them bless their own obscurity. Already had tumultuous scenes and
conspicuous assassinations proved the monarch's weakness, the absence and
approaching end of the minister, and, as a kind of prologue to the bloody
comedy of the Fronde, sharpened the malice and even fired the passions of
the Parisians. This confusion was not displeasing to them. Indifferent
to the causes of the quarrels which were abstruse for them, they were not
so with regard to individuals, and already began to regard the party
chiefs with affection or hatred, not on account of the interest which
they supposed them to take in the welfare of their class, but simply
because as actors they pleased or displeased.
One night, especially, pistol and gun-shots had been heard frequently in
the city; the numerous patrols of the Swiss and the body-guards had even
been attacked, and had met with some barricades in the tortuous streets
of the Ile Notre-Dame; carts chained to the posts, and laden with
barrels, prevented the cavaliers from advancing, and some musket-shots
had wounded several men and horses. However, the town still slept,
except the quarter which surrounded the Louvre, which was at this time
inhabited by the Queen and M. le Duc d'Orleans. There everything
announced a nocturnal expedition of a very serious nature.
It was two o'clock in the morning. It was freezing, and the darkness was
intense, when a numerous assemblage stopped upon the quay, which was then
hardly paved, and slowly and by degrees occupied the sandy ground that
sloped down to the Seine. This troop was composed of about two hundred
men; they were wrapped in large cloaks, raised by the long Spanish swords
which they wore. Walking to and fro without preserving any order, they
seemed to wait for events rather than to seek them. Many seated
themselves, with their arms folded, upon the loose stones of the newly
begun parapet; they preserved perfect silence. However, after a few
minutes passed in this manner, a man, who appeared to come out of one of
the vaulted doors of the Louvre, approached slowly, holding a dark-
lantern, the light from which he turned upon the features of each
individual, and which he blew out after finding the man he sought among
them. He spoke to him in a whisper, taking him by the hand:
"Well, Olivier, what did Monsieur le Grand say to you?
[The master of the horse, Cinq-Mars, was thus named by abbreviation.
This name will often occur in the course of the recital.]
Does all go well?"
"Yes, I saw him yesterday at Saint-Germain. The old cat is very ill at
Narbonne; he is going 'ad patres'. But we must manage our affairs
shrewdly, for it is not the first time that he has played the torpid.
Have you people enough for this evening, my dear Fontrailles?"
"Be easy; Montresor is coming with a hundred of Monsieur's gentlemen.
You will recognize him; he will be disguised as a master-mason, with a
rule in his hand. But, above all, do not forget the passwords. Do you
know them all well, you and your friends?"
"Yes, all except the Abbe de Gondi, who has not yet arrived; but 'Dieu me
pardonne', I think he is there himself! Who the devil would have known
And here a little man without a cassock, dressed as a soldier of the
French guards, and wearing a very black false moustache, slipped between
them. He danced about with a joyous air, and rubbed his hands.
"Vive Dieu! all goes on well, my friend. Fiesco could not do better;"
and rising upon his toes to tap Olivier upon the shoulder, he continued:
"Do you know that for a man who has just quitted the rank of pages, you
don't manage badly, Sire Olivier d'Entraigues? and you will be among our
illustrious men if we find a Plutarch. All is well organized; you arrive
at the very moment, neither too soon nor too late, like a true party
chief. Fontrailles, this young man will get on, I prophesy. But we must
make haste; in two hours we shall have some of the archbishops of Paris,
my, uncle's parishioners. I have instructed them well; and they will
cry, 'Long live Monsieur! Long live the Regency! No more of the
Cardinal!' like madmen. They are good devotees, thanks to me, who have
stirred them up. The King is very ill. Oh, all goes well, very well!
I come from Saint-Germain. I have seen our friend Cinq-Mars; he is good,
very good, still firm as a rock. Ah, that is what I call a man! How he
has played with them with his careless and melancholy air! He is master
of the court at present. The King, they say, is going to make him duke
and peer. It is much talked of; but he still hesitates. We must decide
that by our movement this evening. The will of the people! He must do
the will of the people; we will make him hear it. It will be the death
of Richelieu, you'll see. It is, above all, hatred of him which is to
predominate in the cries, for that is the essential thing. That will at
last decide our Gaston, who is still uncertain, is he not?"
"And how can he be anything else?" said Fontrailles. "If he were to
take a resolution to-day in our favor it would be unfortunate."
"Because we should be sure that to-morrow morning he would be against
"Never mind," replied the Abbe; "the Queen is firm."
"And she has heart also," said Olivier; "that gives me some hope for
Cinq-Mars, who, it seems to me, has sometimes dared to frown when he
looked at her."
"Child that you are, how little do you yet know of the court! Nothing
can sustain him but the hand of the King, who loves him as a son; and as
for the Queen, if her heart beats, it is for the past and not for the
future. But these trifles are not to the purpose. Tell me, dear friend,
are you sure of your young Advocate whom I see roaming about there? Is
he all right?"
"Perfectly; he is an excellent Royalist. He would throw the Cardinal
into the river in an instant. Besides, it is Fournier of Loudun; that is
"Well, well, this is the kind of men we like. But take care of
yourselves, Messieurs; some one comes from the Rue Saint-Honore."
"Who goes there?" cried the foremost of the troop to some men who were
advancing. "Royalists or Cardinalists?"
"Gaston and Le Grand," replied the newcomers, in low tones.
"It is Montresor and Monsieur's people," said Fontrailles. "We may soon
"Yes, 'par la corbleu'!" said the newcomer, "for the Cardinalists will
pass at three o'clock. Some one told us so just now."
"Where are they going?" said Fontrailles.
"There are more than two hundred of them to escort Monsieur de Chavigny,
who is going to see the old cat at Narbonne, they say. They thought it
safer to pass by the Louvre."
"Well, we will give him a velvet paw!" said the Abbe.
As he finished saying this, a noise of carriages and horses was heard.
Several men in cloaks rolled an enormous stone into the middle of the
street. The foremost cavaliers passed rapidly through the crowd, pistols
in hand, suspecting that something unusual was going on; but the
postilion, who drove the horses of the first carriage, ran upon the stone
"Whose carriage is this which thus crushes foot-passengers?" cried the
cloakmen, all at once. "It is tyrannical. It can be no other than a
friend of the Cardinal de la Rochelle."
[During the long siege of La Rochelle, this name was given to
Cardinal Richelieu, to ridicule his obstinacy in commanding as
General-in-Chief, and claiming for himself the merit of taking that
"It is one who fears not the friends of the little Le Grand," exclaimed a
voice from the open door, from which a man threw himself upon a horse.
"Drive these Cardinalists into the river!" cried a shrill, piercing
This was a signal for the pistol-shots which were furiously exchanged on
every side, and which lighted up this tumultuous and sombre scene. The
clashing of swords and trampling of horses did not prevent the cries from
being heard on one side: "Down with the minister! Long live the King!
Long live Monsieur and Monsieur le Grand! Down with the red-stockings!"
On the other: "Long live his Eminence! Long live the great Cardinal!
Death to the factious! Long live the King!" For the name of the King
presided over every hatred, as over every affection, at this strange
The men on foot had succeeded, however, in placing the two carriages
across the quay so as to make a rampart against Chavigny's horses, and
from this, between the wheels, through the doors and springs, overwhelmed
them with pistol-shots, and dismounted many. The tumult was frightful,
but suddenly the gates of the Louvre were thrown open, and two squadrons
of the body-guard came out at a trot. Most of them carried torches in
their hands to light themselves and those they were about to attack. The
scene changed. As the guards reached each of the men on foot, the latter
was seen to stop, remove his hat, make himself known, and name himself;
and the guards withdrew, sometimes saluting him, and sometimes shaking
him by the hand. This succor to Chavigny's carriages was then almost
useless, and only served to augment the confusion. The body-guards, as
if to satisfy their consciences, rushed through the throng of duellists,
"Gentlemen, gentlemen, be moderate!"
But when two gentlemen had decidedly crossed swords, and were in active
conflict, the guard who beheld them stopped to judge the fight, and
sometimes even to favor the one who he thought was of his opinion, for
this body, like all France, had their Royalists and their Cardinalists.
The windows of the Louvre were lighted one after another, and many
women's heads were seen behind the little lozenge-shaped panes,
attentively watching the combat.
Numerous Swiss patrols came out with flambeaux.
These soldiers were easily distinguished by an odd uniform. The right
sleeve was striped blue and red, and the silk stocking of the right leg
was red; the left side was striped with blue, red, and white, and the
stocking was white and red. It had, no doubt, been hoped in the royal
chateau that this foreign troop would disperse the crowd, but they were
mistaken. These impassible soldiers coldly and exactly executed, without
going beyond, the orders they had received, circulating symmetrically
among the armed groups, which they divided for a moment, returning before
the gate with perfect precision, and resuming their ranks as on parade,
without informing themselves whether the enemies among whom they had
passed had rejoined or not.
But the noise, for a moment appeased, became general by reason of
personal disputes. In every direction challenges, insults, and
imprecations were heard. It seemed as if nothing but the destruction of
one of the two parties could put an end to the combat, when loud cries,
or rather frightful howls, raised the tumult to its highest pitch. The
Abbe de Gondi, dragging a cavalier by his cloak to pull him down,
"Here are my people! Fontrailles, now you will see something worth while!
Look! look already who they run! It is really charming."
And he abandoned his hold, and mounted upon a stone to contemplate the
manoeuvres of his troops, crossing his arms with the importance of a
General of an army. Day was beginning to break, and from the end of the
Ile St.-Louis a crowd of men, women, and children of the lowest dregs of
the people was seen rapidly advancing, casting toward heaven and the
Louvre strange vociferations. Girls carried long swords; children
dragged great halberds and pikes of the time of the League; old women in
rags pulled by cords old carts full of rusty and broken arms; workmen of
every trade, the greater number drunk, followed, armed with clubs, forks,
lances, shovels, torches, stakes, crooks, levers, sabres, and spits.
They sang and howled alternately, counterfeiting with atrocious yells the
cries of a cat, and carrying as a flag one of these animals suspended
from a pole and wrapped in a red rag, thus representing the Cardinal,
whose taste for cats was generally known. Public criers rushed about,
red and breathless, throwing on the pavement and sticking up on the
parapets, the posts, the walls of the houses, and even on the palace,
long satires in short stanzas upon the personages of the time. Butcher-
boys and scullions, carrying large cutlasses, beat the charge upon
saucepans, and dragged in the mud a newly slaughtered pig, with the red
cap of a chorister on its head. Young and vigorous men, dressed as
women, and painted with a coarse vermilion, were yelling, "We are mothers
of families ruined by Richelieu! Death to the Cardinal!" They carried
in their arms figures of straw that looked like children, which they
threw into the river.
When this disgusting mob overran the quays with its thousands of imps, it
produced a strange effect upon the combatants, and entirely contrary to
that expected by their patron. The enemies on both sides lowered their
arms and separated. Those of Monsieur and Cinq-Mars were revolted at
seeing themselves succored by such auxiliaries, and, themselves aiding
the Cardinal's gentlemen to remount their horses and to gain their
carriages, and their valets to convey the wounded to them, gave their
adversaries personal rendezvous to terminate their quarrel upon a ground
more secret and more worthy of them. Ashamed of the superiority of
numbers and the ignoble troops which they seemed to command, foreseeing,
perhaps, for the first time the fearful consequences of their political
machinations, and what was the scum they were stirring up, they withdrew,
drawing their large hats over their eyes, throwing their cloaks over
their shoulders, and avoiding the daylight.
"You have spoiled all, my dear Abbe, with this mob," said Fontrailles,
stamping his foot, to Gondi, who was already sufficiently nonplussed;
"your good uncle has fine parishioners!"
"It is not my fault," replied Gondi, in a sullen tone; "these idiots came
an hour too late. Had they arrived in the night, they would not have
been seen, which spoils the effect somewhat, to speak the truth (for I
grant that daylight is detrimental to them), and we would only have heard
the voice of the people 'Vox populi, vox Dei'. Nevertheless, no great
harm has been done. They will by their numbers give us the means of
escaping without being known, and, after all, our task is ended; we did
not wish the death of the sinner. Chavigny and his men are worthy
fellows, whom I love; if he is only slightly wounded, so much the better.
Adieu; I am going to see Monsieur de Bouillon, who has arrived from
"Olivier," said Fontrailles, "go at once to Saint-Germain with Fournier
and Ambrosio; I will go and give an account to Monsieur, with Montresor."
All separated, and disgust accomplished, with these highborn men, what
force could not bring about.
Thus ended this fray, likely to bring forth great misfortunes. No one
was killed in it. The cavaliers, having gained a few scratches and lost
a few purses, resumed their route by the side of the carriages along the
by-streets; the others escaped, one by one, through the populace they had
attracted. The miserable wretches who composed it, deprived of the chief
of the troops, still remained two hours, yelling and screaming until the
effect of their wine was gone, and the cold had extinguished at once the
fire of their blood and that of their enthusiasm. At the windows of the
houses, on the quay of the city, and along the walls, the thoughtful and
genuine people of Paris watched with a sorrowful air and in mournful
silence these preludes of disorder; while the various bodies of
merchants, dressed in black and preceded by their provosts, walked slowly
and courageously through the populace toward the Palais de justice, where
the parliament was to assemble, to make complaint of these terrible
The apartments of Gaston d'Orleans were in great confusion. This Prince
occupied the wing of the Louvre parallel with the Tuileries; and his
windows looked into the court on one side, and on the other over a mass
of little houses and narrow streets which almost entirely covered the
place. He had risen precipitately, awakened suddenly by the report of
the firearms, had thrust his feet into large square-toed slippers with
high heels, and, wrapped in a large silk dressing-gown, covered with
golden ornaments embroidered in relief, walked to and fro in his bedroom,
sending every minute a fresh lackey to see what was going on, and
ordering them immediately to go for the Abbe de la Riviere, his general
counsellor; but he was unfortunately out of Paris. At every pistol-shot
this timid Prince rushed to the windows, without seeing anything but some
flambeaux, which were carried quickly along. It was in vain he was told
that the cries he heard were in his favor; he did not cease to walk up
and down the apartments, in the greatest disorder-his long black hair
dishevelled, and his blue eyes open and enlarged by disquiet and terror.
He was still thus when Montresor and Fontrailles at length arrived and
found him beating his breast, and repeating a thousand times, "Mea culpa,
"You have come at last!" he exclaimed from a distance, running to meet
them. "Come! quick! What is going on? What are they doing there? Who
are these assassins? What are these cries?"
"They cry, 'Long live Monsieur!'"
Gaston, without appearing to hear, and holding the door of his chamber
open for an instant, that his voice might reach the galleries in which
were the people of his household, continued to cry with all his strength,
"I know nothing of all this, and I have authorized nothing. I will not
hear anything! I will not know anything! I will never enter into any
project! These are rioters who make all this noise; do not speak to me
of them, if you wish to be well received here. I am the enemy of no man;
I detest such scenes!"
Fontrailles, who knew the man with whom he had to deal, said nothing, but
entered with his friend, that Monsieur might have time to discharge his
first fury; and when all was said, and the door carefully shut, he began
"Monseigneur," said he, "we come to ask you a thousand pardons for the
impertinence of these people, who will persist in crying out that they
desire the death of your enemy, and that they would even wish to make you
regent should we have the misfortune to lose his Majesty. Yes, the
people are always frank in their discourse; but they are so numerous that
all our efforts could not restrain them. It was truly a cry from the
heart--an explosion of love, which reason could not restrain, and which
escaped all bounds."
"But what has happened, then?" interrupted Gaston, somewhat calmed.
"What have they been doing these four hours that I have heard them?"
"That love," said Montresor, coldly, "as Monsieur de Fontrailles had the
honor of telling you, so escaped all rule and bounds that we ourselves
were carried away by it, and felt seized with that enthusiasm which
always transports us at the mere name of Monsieur, and which leads us on
to things which we had not premeditated."
"But what, then, have you done?" said the Prince.
"Those things," replied Fontrailles, "of which Monsieur de Montresor had
the honor to speak to Monsieur are precisely those which I foresaw here
yesterday evening, when I had the honor of conversing with you."
"That is not the question," interrupted Gaston. "You cannot say that I
have ordered or authorized anything. I meddle with nothing; I know
nothing of government."
"I admit," continued Fontrailles, "that your Highness ordered nothing,
but you permitted me to tell you that I foresaw that this night would be
a troubled one about two o'clock, and I hoped that your astonishment
would not have been too great."
The Prince, recovering himself little by little, and seeing that he did
not alarm the two champions, having also upon his conscience and reading
in their eyes the recollection of the consent which he had given them the
evening before, sat down upon the side of his bed, crossed his arms, and,
looking at them with the air of a judge, again said in a commanding tone:
"But what, then, have you done?"
"Why, hardly anything, Monseigneur," said Fontrailles. "Chance led us to
meet in the crowd some of our friends who had a quarrel with Monsieur de
Chavigny's coachman, who was driving over them. A few hot words ensued
and rough gestures, and a few scratches, which kept Monsieur de Chavigny
waiting, and that is all."
"Absolutely all," repeated Montresor.
"What, all?" exclaimed Gaston, much moved, and tramping about the
chamber. "And is it, then, nothing to stop the carriage of a friend of
the Cardinal-Duke? I do not like such scenes. I have already told you
so. I do not hate the Cardinal; he is certainly a great politician, a
very great politician. You have compromised me horribly; it is known
that Montresor is with me. If he has been recognized, they will say that
I sent him."
"Chance," said Montresor, "threw in my way this peasant's dress, which
Monsieur may see under my cloak, and which, for that reason, I preferred
to any other."
Gaston breathed again.
"You are sure, then, that you have not been recognized. You understand,
my dear friend, how painful it would be to me. You must admit
"Sure of it!" exclaimed the Prince's gentleman. "I would stake my head
and my share in Paradise that no one has seen my features or called my by
"Well," continued Gaston, again seating himself on his bed, and assuming
a calmer air, in which even a slight satisfaction was visible, "tell me,
then, what has happened."
Fontrailles took upon himself the recital, in which, as we may suppose,
the populace played a great part and Monsieur's people none, and in his
peroration he said:
"From our windows even, Monseigneur, respectable mothers of families
might have been seen, driven by despair, throwing their children into the
Seine, cursing Richelieu."
"Ah, it is dreadful!" exclaimed the Prince, indignant, or feigning to be
so, and to believe in these excesses. "Is it, then, true that he is so
generally detested? But we must allow that he deserves it. What! his
ambition and avarice have, then, reduced to this extremity the good
inhabitants of Paris, whom I love so much."
"Yes, Monseigneur," replied the orator. "And it is not Paris alone, it
is all France, which, with us, entreats you to decide upon delivering her
from this tyrant. All is ready; nothing is wanting but a sign from your
august head to annihilate this pygmy, who has attempted to assault the
royal house itself."
"Alas! Heaven is my witness that I myself forgive him!" answered
Gaston, raising up his eyes. "But I can no longer bear the cries of the
people. Yes, I will help them; that is to say," continued the Prince,
"so that my dignity is not compromised, and that my name does not appear
in the matter."
"Well, but it is precisely that which we want," exclaimed Fontrailles, a
little more at his ease.
"See, Monseigneur, there are already some names to put after yours, who
will not fear to sign. I will tell you them immediately, if you wish
"But--but," said the Duc d'Orleans, timidly, "do you know that it is a
conspiracy which you propose to me so coolly?"
"Fie, Monseigneur, men of honor like us! a conspiracy! Oh! not at all;
a league at the utmost, a slight combination to give a direction to the
unanimous wish of the nation and the court--that is all."
"But that is not so clear, for, after all, this affair will be neither
general nor public; therefore, it is a conspiracy. You will not avow
that you are concerned in it."
"I, Monseigneur! Excuse me to all the world, since the kingdom is
already in it, and I am of the kingdom. And who would not sign his name
after that of Messieurs de Bouillon and Cinq-Mars?"
"After, perhaps, not before," said Gaston, fixing his eyes upon
Fontrailles more keenly than he had expected.
The latter hesitated a moment.
"Well, then, what would Monseigneur do should I tell him the names after
which he could sign his?"
"Ha! ha! this is amusing," answered the Prince, laughing; "know you not
that above mine there are not many? I see but one."
"And if there be one, will Monseigneur promise to sign that of Gaston
"Ah, parbleu! with all my heart. I risk nothing there, for I see none
but that of the King, who surely is not of the party."
"Well, from this moment permit us," said Montresor, "to take you at your
word, and deign at present to consent to two things only: to see Monsieur
de Bouillon in the Queen's apartments, and Monsieur the master of the
horse at the King's palace."
"Agreed!" said Monsieur, gayly, tapping Montresor on the shoulder.
"I will to-day wait on my sister-in-law at her toilette, and I will
invite my brother to hunt the stag with me at Chambord."
The two friends asked nothing further, and were themselves surprised at
their work. They never had seen so much resolution in their chief.
Accordingly, fearing to lead him to a topic which might divert him from
the path he had adopted, they hastened to turn the conversation upon
other subjects, and retired in delight, leaving as their last words in
his ear that they relied upon his keeping his promise.
While a prince was thus reassured with difficulty by those who surrounded
him, and allowed them to see a terror which might have proved contagious,
a princess more exposed to accidents, more isolated by the indifference
of her husband, weaker by nature and by the timidity which is the result
of the absence of happiness, on her side set the example of the calmest
courage and the most pious resignation, and tranquillized her terrified
suite; this was the Queen. Having slept hardly an hour, she heard shrill
cries behind the doors and the thick tapestries of her chamber. She
ordered her women to open the door, and the Duchesse de Chevreuse, in her
night attire, and wrapped in a great cloak, fell, nearly fainting, at the
foot of her bed, followed by four of her ladies-in-waiting and three of
the women of the bed-chamber. Her delicate feet were bare, and bleeding
from a wound she had received in running.
She cried, weeping like a child, that a pistol-shot had broken her
shutters and her window-panes, and had wounded her; she entreated the
Queen to send her into exile, where she would be more tranquil than in a
country where they wished to assassinate her because she was the friend
of her Majesty.
Her hair was in great disorder, and fell to her feet. It was her chief
beauty; and the young Queen thought that this toilette was less the
result of chance than might have been imagined.
"Well, my dear, what has happened?" she said to her with sang-froid.
"You look like a Magdalen, but in her youth, and before she repented.
It is probable that if they wish to harm any one here it is I; calm
"No, Madame! save me, protect me! it is Richelieu who pursues me, I am
The sound of pistols, which was then heard more distinctly, convinced the
Queen that the terrors of Madame de Chevreuse were not vain.
"Come and dress me, Madame de Motteville!" cried she. But that lady had
completely lost her self-possession, and, opening one of those immense
ebony coffers which then answered the purpose of wardrobes, took from it
a casket of the Princess's diamonds to save it, and did not listen to
her. The other women had seen on a window the reflection of torches,
and, imagining that the palace was on fire, threw jewels, laces, golden
vases, and even the china, into sheets which they intended to lower into
the street. At this moment Madame de Guemenee arrived, a little more
dressed than the Duchesse de Chevreuse, but taking events still more
tragically. Her terror inspired the Queen with a slight degree of fear,
because of the ceremonious and placid character she was known to possess.
She entered without curtseying, pale as a spectre, and said with
"Madame, it is time to make our confession. The Louvre is attacked, and
all the populace are arriving from the city, I have been told."
Terror silenced and rendered motionless all the persons present.
"We shall die!" exclaimed the Duchesse de Chevreuse, still on her knees.
"Ah, my God! why did I leave England? Yes, let us confess. I confess
aloud. I have loved--I have been loved by--"
"Well," said the Queen, "I do not undertake to hear your confession to
the end. That would not perhaps be the least of my dangers, of which,
however, you think little."
The coolness of Anne of Austria, and this last severe observation,
however, restored a little calm to this beautiful personage, who rose in
confusion, and perceiving the disordered state of her toilet, went to
repair it as she best could in a closet near by.
"Dona Stefania," said the Queen to one of her women, the only Spaniard
whom she had retained, "go seek the captain of the guards. It is time
that I should see men at last, and hear something reasonable."
She said this in Spanish, and the mystery of this order, spoken in a
tongue which the ladies did not understand, restored those in the chamber
to their senses.
The waiting-woman was telling her beads, but she rose from the corner of
the alcove in which she had sought refuge, and hastened to obey her
The signs of revolt and the evidences of terror became meantime more
distinct. In the great court of the Louvre was heard the trampling of
the horses of the guards, the orders of the chiefs, the rolling of the
Queen's carriages, which were being prepared, should it be necessary to
fly. The rattling of the iron chains dragged along the pavement to form
barricades in case of an attack, hurried steps in the corridor, the clash
of arms, the confused cries of the people, which rose and fell, went and
came again, like the noise of the waves and the winds. The door once
more opened, and this time it was to admit a very charming person.
"I expected you, dear Marie," said the Queen, extending her arms to the
Duchesse de Mantua. "You have been more courageous than any of us; you
are attired fit to be seen by all the court."
"I was not in bed, fortunately," replied the young Princesse de Gonzaga,
casting down her eyes. "I saw all these people from the windows.
O Madame, Madame, fly! I implore you to escape by the secret stairway,
and let us remain in your place. They might take one of us for the
Queen." And she added, with tears, "I have heard cries of death.
Fly, Madame! I have no throne to lose. You are the daughter, the wife,
and the mother of kings. Save yourself, and leave us here!"
"You have more to lose than I, 'm'amaie', in beauty, youth, and, I hope,
in happiness," said the Queen, with a gracious smile, giving the Duchess
her beautiful hands to kiss. "Remain in my alcove and welcome; but we
will both remain there. The only service I accept from you, my sweet
child, is to bring to my bed that little golden casket which my poor
Motteville has left on the ground, and which contains all that I hold
Then, as she took it, she whispered in Marie's ear:
"Should any misfortune happen to me, swear that you will throw it into
"I will obey you, Madame, as my benefactress and my second mother," Marie
The sound of the conflict redoubled on the quays, and the windows
reflected the flash of the firearms, of which they heard the explosion.
The captain of the guards and the captain of the Swiss sent for orders
from the Queen through Dona Stefania.
"I permit them to enter," said the Queen. "Stand aside, ladies. I am a
man in a moment like this; and I ought to be so." Then, raising the bed-
curtains, she continued, addressing the two officers:
"Gentlemen, first remember that you answer with your heads for the life
of the princes, my children. You know that, Monsieur de Guitaut?"
"I sleep across their doorway, Madame; but this disturbance does not
threaten either them or your Majesty."
"Very well; do not think of me until after them," interrupted the Queen,
"and protect indiscriminately all who are threatened. You also hear me,
Monsieur de Bassompierre; you are a gentleman. Forget that your uncle is
yet in the Bastille, and do your duty by the grandsons of the dead King,
He was a young man, with a frank, open countenance.
"Your Majesty," said he, with a slight German accent, "may see that I
have forgotten my family, and not yours." And he displayed his left hand
despoiled of two fingers, which had just been cut off. "I have still
another hand," said he, bowing and withdrawing with Guitaut.
The Queen, much moved, rose immediately, and, despite the prayers of the
Princesse de Guemenee, the tears of Marie de Gonzaga, and the cries of
Madame de Chevreuse, insisted upon placing herself at the window, and
half opened it, leaning upon the shoulder of the Duchesse de Mantua.
"What do I hear?" she said. "They are crying, 'Long live the King!
Long live the Queen!'"
The people, imagining they recognized her, redoubled their cries at this
moment, and shouted louder than ever, "Down with the Cardinal! Long live
Monsieur le Grand!"
"What is the matter with you?" said the Queen, observing her. But as
she did not answer, and trembled in every limb, this good and gentle
Princess appeared not to perceive it; and, paying the greatest attention
to the cries and movements of the populace, she even exaggerated an
inquietude which she had not felt since the first name had reached her
ear. An hour later, when they came to tell her that the crowd only
awaited a sign from her hand to withdraw, she waved it graciously, and
with an air of satisfaction. But this joy was far from being complete,
for her heart was still troubled by many things, and, above all, by the
presentiment of the regency. The more she leaned forward to show
herself, the more she beheld the revolting scenes which the increasing
light revealed. Terror took possession of her soul as it became
necessary to appear calm and confiding; and her heart was saddened at the
very gayety of her words and countenance. Exposed to all eyes, she felt
herself a mere woman, and shuddered in looking at that people whom she
would soon perhaps be called upon to govern, and who already took upon
themselves to demand the death of ministers, and to call upon their Queen
to appear before them.
She saluted them.
A hundred and fifty years later that salute was repeated by another
princess, like herself of Austrian blood, and Queen of France. The
monarchy without foundation, such as Richelieu made it, was born and
died between these two salutes.
The Princess at last closed her windows, and hastened to dismiss her
timid suite. The thick curtains fell again over the barred windows; and
the room was no longer lighted by a day which was odious to her. Large
white wax flambeaux burned in candelabra, in the form of golden arms,
which stand out from the framed and flowered tapestries with which the
walls were hung. She remained alone with Marie de Mantua; and reentering
with her the enclosure which was formed by the royal balustrade, she fell
upon her bed, fatigued by her courage and her smiles, and burst into
tears, leaning her head upon her pillow. Marie, on her knees upon a
velvet footstool, held one of her hands in both hers, and without daring
to speak first, leaned her head tremblingly upon it; for until that
moment, tears never had been seen in the Queen's eyes.
They remained thus for some minutes. The Princess, then raising herself
up by a painful effort, spoke:
"Do not afflict yourself, my child; let me weep. It is such a relief to
one who reigns! If you pray to God for me, ask Him to grant me
sufficient strength not to hate the enemy who pursues me everywhere,
and who will destroy the royal family of France and the monarchy by his
boundless ambition. I recognize him in all that has taken place; I see
him in this tumultuous revolt."
"What, Madame! is he not at Narbonne?--for it is the Cardinal of whom you
speak, no doubt; and have you not heard that these cries were for you,
and against him?"
"Yes, 'm'amie', he is three hundred leagues away from us, but his fatal
genius keeps guard at the door. If these cries have been heard, it is
because he has allowed them; if these men were assembled, it is because
they have not yet reached the hour which he has destined for their
destruction. Believe me, I know him; and I have dearly paid for the
knowledge of that dark soul. It has cost me all the power of my rank,
the pleasures of my age, the affection of my family and even the heart
of my husband. He has isolated me from the whole world. He now confines
me within a barrier of honors and respect; and formerly he dared, to the
scandal of all France, to bring an accusation against myself. They
examined my papers, they interrogated me, they made me sign myself
guilty, and ask the King's pardon for a fault of which I was ignorant;
and I owed to the devotion, and the perhaps eternal imprisonment of a
[His name was Laporte. Neither the fear of torture nor the hope of
the Cardinal's reward could draw from him one word of the Queen's
the preservation of this casket which you have saved for me. I read in
your looks that you think me too fearful; but do not deceive yourself, as
all the court now does. Be sure, my dear child, that this man is
everywhere, and that he knows even our thoughts."
"What, Madame! does he know all that these men have cried under your
windows, and the names of those who sent them?"
"Yes; no doubt he knows it, or has foreseen it. He permits it; he
authorizes it, to compromise me in the King's eyes, and keep him forever
separated from me. He would complete my humiliation."
"But the King has not loved him for two years; he loves another."
The Queen smiled; she gazed some time in silence upon the pure and open
features of the beautiful Marie, and her look, full of candor, which was
languidly raised toward her. She smoothed back the black curls which
shaded her noble forehead, and seemed to rest her eyes and her soul in
looking at the charming innocence displayed upon so lovely a face. She
kissed her cheek, and resumed:
"You do not suspect, my poor child, a sad truth. It is that the King
loves no one, and that those who appear the most in favor will be the
soonest abandoned by him, and thrown to him who engulfs and devours all."
"Ah, mon Dieu! what is this you tell me?"
"Do you know how many he has destroyed?" continued the Queen, in a low
voice, and looking into her eyes as if to read in them all her thoughts,
and to make her own penetrate there. "Do you know the end of his
favorites? Have you been told of the exile of Baradas; of that of Saint-
Simon; of the convent of Mademoiselle de la Fayette, the shame of Madame
d'Hautfort, the death of Chalais? All have fallen before an order from
Richelieu to his master. Without this favor, which you mistake for
friendship, their lives would have been peaceful. But this favor is
mortal; it is a poison. Look at this tapestry, which represents Semele.
The favorites of Louis XIII resemble that woman; his attachment devours
like this fire, which dazzles and consumes her."
But the young Duchess was no longer in a condition to listen to the
Queen. She continued to fix her large, dark eyes upon her, dimmed by a
veil of tears; her hands trembled in those of Anne of Austria, and her
lips quivered with convulsive agitation.
"I am very cruel, am I not, Marie?" continued the Queen, in an extremely
sweet voice, and caressing her like a child from whom one would draw an
avowal. "Oh, yes; no doubt I am very wicked! Your heart is full; you
can not bear it, my child. Come, tell me; how do matters stand with you
and Monsieur de Cinq-Mars?"
At this word grief found a vent, and, still on her knees at the Queen's
feet, Marie in her turn shed upon the bosom of the good Princess a deluge
of tears, with childish sobs and so violent an agitation of her head and
her beautiful shoulders that it seemed as if her heart would break. The
Queen waited a long time for the end of this first emotion, rocking her
in her arms as if to appease her grief, frequently repeating, "My child,
my child, do not afflict yourself thus!"
"Ah, Madame!" she exclaimed, "I have been guilty toward you; but I did
not reckon upon that heart. I have done wrong, and I shall perhaps be
punished severely for it. But, alas! how shall I venture to confess to
you, Madame? It was not so much to open my heart to you that was
difficult; it was to avow to you that I had need to read there myself."
The Queen reflected a moment, laying her finger upon her lips. "You are
right," she then replied; "you are quite right. Marie, it is always the
first word which is the most difficult to say; and that difficulty often
destroys us. But it must be so; and without this rule one would be often
wanting in dignity. Ah, how difficult it is to reign! To-day I would
descend into your heart, but I come too late to do you good."
Marie de Mantua hung her head without making any reply.
"Must I encourage you to speak?" said the Queen. "Must I remind you
that I have almost adopted you for my eldest daughter? that after
seeking to unite you with the King's brother, I prepared for you the
throne of Poland? Must I do more, Marie? Yes, I must, I will. If
afterward you do not open your whole heart to me, I have misjudged you.
Open this golden casket; here is the key. Open it fearlessly; do not
tremble as I do."
The Duchesse de Mantua obeyed with hesitation, and beheld in this little
chased coffer a knife of rude form, the handle of which was of iron, and
the blade very rusty. It lay upon some letters carefully folded, upon
which was the name of Buckingham. She would have lifted them; Anne of
Austria stopped her.
"Seek nothing further," she said; "that is all the treasure of the Queen.
And it is a treasure; for it is the blood of a man who lives no longer,
but who lived for me. He was the most beautiful, the bravest, the most
illustrious of the nobles of Europe. He covered himself with the
diamonds of the English crown to please me. He raised up a fierce war
and armed fleets, which he himself commanded, that he might have the
happiness of once fighting him who was my husband. He traversed the seas
to gather a flower upon which I had trodden, and ran the risk of death to
kiss and bathe with his tears the foot of this bed in the presence of two
of my ladies-in-waiting. Shall I say more? Yes, I will say it to you--
I loved him! I love him still in the past more than I could love him in
the present. He never knew it, never divined it. This face, these eyes,
were marble toward him, while my heart burned and was breaking with
grief; but I was the Queen of France!" Here Anne of Austria forcibly
grasped Marie's arm. "Dare now to complain," she continued, "if you have
not yet ventured to speak to me of your love, and dare now to be silent
when I have told you these things!"
"Ah, yes, Madame, I shall dare to confide my grief to you, since you are
"A friend, a woman!" interrupted the Queen. "I was a woman in my
terror, which put you in possession of a secret unknown to the whole
world. I am a woman by a love which survives the man I loved. Speak;
tell me! It is now time."
"It is too late, on the contrary," replied Marie, with a forced smile.
"Monsieur de Cinq-Mars and I are united forever."
"Forever!" exclaimed the Queen. "Can you mean it? And your rank, your
name, your future--is all lost? Do you reserve this despair for your
brother, the Duc de Bethel, and all the Gonzagas?"
"For more than four years I have thought of it. I am resolved; and for
ten days we have been affianced."
"Affianced!" exclaimed the Queen, clasping her hands. "You have been
deceived, Marie. Who would have dared this without the King's order?
It is an intrigue which I will know. I am sure that you have been misled
Marie hesitated a moment, and then said:
"Nothing is more simple, Madame, than our attachment. I inhabited, you
know, the old chateau of Chaumont, with the Marechale d'Effiat, the
mother of Monsieur de Cinq-Mars. I had retired there to mourn the death
of my father; and it soon happened that Monsieur de Cinq-Mars had to
deplore the loss of his. In this numerous afflicted family, I saw his
grief only, which was as profound as mine. All that he said, I had
already thought, and when we spoke of our afflictions we found them
wholly alike. As I had been the first to suffer, I was better acquainted
with sorrow than he; and I endeavored to console him by telling him all
that I had suffered, so that in pitying me he forgot himself. This was
the beginning of our love, which, as you see, had its birth, as it were,
between two tombs."
"God grant, my sweet, that it may have a happy termination!" said the
"I hope so, Madame, since you pray for me," continued Marie. "Besides,
everything now smiles upon me; but at that time I was very miserable.
The news arrived one day at the chateau that the Cardinal had called
Monsieur de Cinq-Mars to the army. It seemed to me that I was again
deprived of one of my relatives; and yet we were strangers. But Monsieur
de Bassompierre spoke without ceasing of battles and death. I retired
every evening in grief, and I wept during the night. I thought at first
that my tears flowed for the past, but I soon perceived that it was for
the future; and I felt that they could not be the same tears, since I
wished to conceal them. Some time passed in the expectation of his
departure. I saw him every day; and I pitied him for having to depart,
because he repeated to me every instant that he would have wished to live
eternally as he then did, in his own country and with us. He was thus
without ambition until the day of his departure, because he knew not
whether he was--whether he was--I dare not say it to your Majesty--"
Marie blushed, cast down her humid eyes, and smiled.
"Well!" said the Queen, "whether he was beloved,--is it not so?"
"And in the evening, Madame, he left, ambitious."
"That is evident, certainly. He left," said Anne of Austria, somewhat
relieved; "but he has been back two years, and you have seen him?"
"Seldom, Madame," said the young Duchess, proudly; "and always in the
presence of the priest, before whom I have promised to be the wife of no
other than Cinq-Mars."
"Is it really, then, a marriage? Have you dared to do it? I shall
inquire. But, Heaven, what faults! how many faults in the few words I
have heard! Let me reflect upon them."
And, speaking aloud to herself, the Queen continued, her eyes and head
bent in the attitude of reflection:
"Reproaches are useless and cruel if the evil is done. The past is no
longer ours; let us think of the future. Cinq-Mars is brave, able, and
even profound in his ideas. I have observed that he has done much in two
years, and I now see that it was for Marie. He comports himself well;
he is worthy of her in my eyes, but not so in the eyes of Europe. He
must rise yet higher. The Princesse de Mantua can not, may not, marry
less than a prince. He must become one. By myself I can do nothing;
I am not the Queen, I am the neglected wife of the King. There is only
the Cardinal, the eternal Cardinal, and he is his enemy; and perhaps this
"Alas! it is the beginning of war between them. I saw it at once."
"He is lost then!" exclaimed the Queen, embracing Marie. "Pardon me,
my child, for thus afflicting you; but in times like these we must see
all and say all. Yes, he is lost if he does not himself overthrow this
wicked man--for the King will not renounce him; force alone--"
"He will overthrow him, Madame. He will do it, if you will assist him.
You are the divinity of France. Oh, I conjure you, protect the angel
against the demon! It is your cause, that of your royal family, that of
all your nation."
The Queen smiled.
"It is, above all, your cause, my child; and it is as such that I will
embrace it to the utmost extent of my power. That is not great, as I
have told you; but such as it is, I lend it to you entirely, provided,
however, that this angel does not stoop to commit mortal sins," added
she, with a meaning look." I heard his name pronounced this night by
voices most unworthy of him."
"Oh, Madame, I would swear that he knows nothing of it!"
"Ah, my child, do not speak of State affairs. You are not yet learned
enough in them. Let me sleep, if I can, before the hour of my toilette.
My eyes are burning, and yours also, perhaps."
Saying these words, the amiable Queen laid her head upon the pillow which
covered the casket, and soon Marie saw her fall asleep through sheer
fatigue. She then rose, and, seating herself in a great, tapestried,
square armchair, clasped her hands upon her knees, and began to reflect
upon her painful situation. Consoled by the aspect of her gentle
protectress, she often raised her eyes to watch her slumber, and sent her
in secret all the blessings which love showers upon those who protect it,
sometimes kissing the curls of her blond hair, as if by this kiss she
could convey to her soul all the ideas favorable to the thought ever
present to her mind.
The Queen's slumber was prolonged, while Marie thought and wept.
However, she remembered that at ten o'clock she must appear at the royal
toilette before all the court. She resolved to cast aside reflection,
to dry her tears, and she took a thick folio volume placed upon a table
inlaid with enamel and medallions; it was the 'Astree' of M. d'Urfe--
a work 'de belle galanterie' adored by the fair prudes of the court.
The unsophisticated and straightforward mind of Marie could not enter
into these pastoral loves. She was too simple to understand the
'bergeres du Lignon', too clever to be pleased at their discourse, and
too impassioned to feel their tenderness. However, the great popularity
of the romance so far influenced her that she sought to compel herself to
take an interest in it; and, accusing herself internally every time that
she felt the ennui which exhaled from the pages of the book, she ran
through it with impatience to find something to please and transport her.
An engraving arrested her attention. It represented the shepherdess
Astree with high-heeled shoes, a corset, and an immense farthingale,
standing on tiptoe to watch floating down the river the tender Celadon,
drowning himself in despair at having, been somewhat coldly received in
the morning. Without explaining to herself the reason of the taste and
accumulated fallacies of this picture, she sought, in turning over the
pages, something which could fix her attention; she saw the word "Druid."
"Ah! here is a great character," said she. "I shall no doubt read of
one of those mysterious sacrificers of whom Britain, I am told, still
preserves the monuments; but I shall see him sacrificing men. That would
be a spectacle of horror; however, let us read it."
Saying this, Marie read with repugnance, knitting her brows, and nearly
trembling, the following:
"The Druid Adamas delicately called the shepherds Pimandre,
Ligdamont, and Clidamant, newly arrived from Calais. 'This
adventure can not terminate,' said he, 'but by the extremity of
love. The soul, when it loves, transforms itself into the object
beloved; it is to represent this that my agreeable enchantments will
show you in this fountain the nymph Sylvia, whom you all three love.
The high-priest Amasis is about to come from Montbrison, and will
explain to you the delicacy of this idea. Go, then, gentle
shepherds! If your desires are well regulated, they will not cause
you any torments; and if they are not so, you will be punished by
swoonings similar to those of Celadon, and the shepherdess Galatea,
whom the inconstant Hercules abandoned in the mountains of Auvergne,
and who gave her name to the tender country of the Gauls; or you
will be stoned by the shepherdesses of Lignon, as was the ferocious
Amidor. The great nymph of this cave has made an enchantment.'"
The enchantment of the great nymph was complete on the Princess, who had
hardly sufficient strength to find out with a trembling hand, toward the
end of the book, that the Druid Adamas was an ingenious allegory,
representing the Lieutenant-General of Montbrison, of the family of the
Papons. Her weary eyes closed, and the great book slipped from her lap
to the cushion of velvet upon which her feet were placed, and where the
beautiful Astree and the gallant Celadon reposed luxuriously, less
immovable than Marie de Mantua, vanquished by them and by profound
This same morning, the various events of which we have seen in the
apartments of Gaston d'Orleans and of the Queen, the calm and silence of
study reigned in a modest cabinet of a large house near the Palais de
justice. A bronze lamp, of a gothic shape, struggling with the coming
day, threw its red light upon a mass of papers and books which covered a
large table; it lighted the bust of L'Hopital, that of Montaigne the
essayist, the President de Thou, and of King Louis XIII.
A fireplace sufficiently large for a man to enter and sit there was
occupied by a large fire burning upon enormous andirons. Upon one of
these was placed the foot of the studious De Thou, who, already risen,
examined with attention the new works of Descartes and Grotius. He was
writing upon his knee his notes upon these books of philosophy and
politics, which were then the general subjects of conversation; but at
this moment the 'Meditations Metaphysiques' absorbed all his attention.
The philosopher of Touraine enchanted the young counsellor. Often, in
his enthusiasm, he struck the book, uttering exclamations of admiration;
sometimes he took a sphere placed near him, and, turning it with his
fingers, abandoned himself to the most profound reveries of science;
then, led by them to a still greater elevation of mind, he would suddenly
throw himself upon his knees before a crucifix, placed upon the chimney-
piece, because at the limits of the human mind he had found God. At
other times he buried himself in his great armchair, so as to be nearly
sitting upon his shoulders, and, placing his two hands upon his eyes,
followed in his head the trace of the reasoning of Rene Descartes, from
this idea of the first meditation:
"Suppose that we are asleep, and that all these particularities--
that is, that we open our eyes, move our heads, spread our arms--are
nothing but false illusions."
to this sublime conclusion of the third:
"Only one thing remains to be said; it is that like the idea of
myself, that of God is born and produced with me from the time I was
created. And certainly it should not be thought strange that God,
in creating me, should have implanted in me this idea, to be, as it
were, the mark of the workman impressed upon his work."
These thoughts entirely occupied the mind of the young counsellor, when a
loud noise was heard under the windows. He thought that some house on
fire excited these prolonged cries, and hastened to look toward the wing
of the building occupied by his mother and sisters; but all appeared to
sleep there, and the chimneys did not even send forth any smoke, to
attest that its inhabitants were even awake. He blessed Heaven for it;
and, running to another window, he saw the people, whose exploits we have
witnessed, hastening toward the narrow streets which led to the quay.
After examining this rabble of women and children, the ridiculous flag
which led them, and the rude disguises of the men: "It is some popular
fete or some carnival comedy," said he; and again returning to the corner
of the fire, he placed a large almanac upon the table, and carefully
sought in it what saint was honored that day. He looked in the column of
the month of December; and, finding at the fourth day of this month the
name of Ste.-Barbe, he remembered that he had seen several small cannons
and barrels pass, and, perfectly satisfied with the explanation which he
had given himself, he hastened to drive away the interruption which had
called off his attention, and resumed his quiet studies, rising only to
take a book from the shelves of his library, and, after reading in it a
phrase, a line, or only a word, he threw it from him upon his table or on
the floor, covered in this way with books or papers which he would not
trouble himself to return to their places, lest he should break the
thread of his reveries.
Suddenly the door was hastily opened, and a name was announced which he
had distinguished among those at the bar--a man whom his connections with
the magistracy had made personally known to him.
"And by what chance, at five o'clock in the morning, do I see Monsieur
Fournier?" he cried. "Are there some unfortunates to defend, some
families to be supported by the fruits of his talent, some error to
dissipate in us, some virtue to awaken in our hearts? for these are of
his accustomed works. You come, perhaps, to inform me of some fresh
humiliation of our parliament. Alas! the secret chambers of the Arsenal
are more powerful than the ancient magistracy of Clovis. The parliament
is on its knees; all is lost, unless it is soon filled with men like
"Monsieur, I do not merit your praise," said the Advocate, entering,
accompanied by a grave and aged man, enveloped like himself in a large
cloak. "I deserve, on the contrary, your censure; and I am almost a
penitent, as is Monsieur le Comte du Lude, whom you see here. We come to
ask an asylum for the day."
"An asylum! and against whom?" said De Thou, making them sit down.
"Against the lowest people in Paris, who wish to have us for chiefs, and
from whom we fly. It is odious; the sight, the smell, the ear, and the
touch, above all, are too severely wounded by it," said M. du Lude, with
a comical gravity. "It is too much!"
"Ah! too much, you say?" said De Thou, very much astonished, but not
willing to show it.
"Yes," answered the Advocate; "really, between ourselves, Monsieur le
Grand goes too far."
"Yes, he pushes things too fast. He will render all our projects
abortive," added his companion.
"Ah! and you say he goes too far?" replied M. de Thou, rubbing his chin,
more and more surprised.
Three months had passed since his friend Cinq-Mars had been to see him;
and he, without feeling much disquieted about it--knowing that he was at
St.-Germain in high favor, and never quitting the King--was far removed
from the news of the court. Absorbed in his grave studies, he never
heard of public events till they were forced upon his attention. He knew
nothing of current life until the last moment, and often amused his
intimate friends by his naive astonishment--the more so that from a
little worldly vanity he desired to have it appear as if he were fully
acquainted with the course of events, and tried to conceal the surprise
he experienced at every fresh intelligence. He was now in this
situation, and to this vanity was added the feeling of friendship; he
would not have it supposed that Cinq-Mars had been negligent toward him,
and, for his friend's honor even, would appear to be aware of his
"You know very well how we stand now," continued the Advocate.
"Yes, of course. Well?"
"Intimate as you are with him, you can not be ignorant that all has been
organizing for a year past."
"Certainly, all has been organizing; but proceed."
"You will admit with us that Monsieur le Grand is wrong?"
"Ah, that is as it may be; but explain yourself. I shall see."
"Well, you know upon what we had agreed at the last conference of which
he informed you?"
"Ah! that is to say--pardon me, I perceive it almost; but set me a
little upon the track."
"It is useless; you no doubt remember what he himself recommended us to
do at Marion de Lorme's?"
"To add no one to our list," said M. du Lude.
"Ah, yes, yes! I understand," said De Thou; "that appears reasonable,
very reasonable, truly."
"Well," continued Fournier, "he himself has infringed this agreement; for
this morning, besides the ragamuffins whom that ferret the Abbe de Gondi
brought to us, there was some vagabond captain, who during the night
struck with sword and poniard gentlemen of both parties, crying out at
the top of his voice, 'A moi, D'Aubijoux! You gained three thousand
ducats from me; here are three sword-thrusts for you. 'A moi', La
Chapelle! I will have ten drops of your blood in exchange for my ten
pistoles!' and I myself saw him attack these gentlemen and many more of
both sides, loyally enough, it is true--for he struck them only in front
and on their guard--but with great success, and with a most revolting
"Yes, Monsieur, and I was about to tell him my opinion," interposed De
Lude, "when I saw him escape through the crowd like a squirrel, laughing
greatly with some suspicious looking men with dark, swarthy faces; I do
not doubt, however, that Monsieur de Cinq-Mars sent him, for he gave
orders to that Ambrosio whom you must know--that Spanish prisoner, that
rascal whom he has taken for a servant. In faith, I am disgusted with
all this; and I was not born to mingle with this canaille."
"This, Monsieur," replied Fournier, "is very different from the affair at
Loudun. There the people only rose, without actually revolting; it was
the sensible and estimable part of the populace, indignant at an
assassination, and not heated by wine and money. It was a cry raised
against an executioner--a cry of which one could honorably be the organ
--and not these howlings of factious hypocrisy, of a mass of unknown
people, the dregs of the mud and sewers of Paris. I confess that I am
very tired of what I see; and I have come to entreat you to speak about
it to Monsieur le Grand."
De Thou was very much embarrassed during this conversation, and sought in
vain to understand what Cinq-Mars could have to do with the people, who
appeared to him merely merrymaking; on the other hand, he persisted in
not owning his ignorance. It was, however, complete; for the last time
he had seen his friend, he had spoken only of the King's horses and
stables, of hawking, and of the importance of the King's huntsmen in the
affairs of the State, which did not seem to announce vast projects in
which the people could take a part. He at last timidly ventured to say:
"Messieurs, I promise to do your commission; meanwhile, I offer you my
table and beds as long as you please. But to give my advice in this
matter is very difficult. By the way, it was not the fete of Sainte-
Barbe I saw this morning?"
"The Sainte-Barbe!" said Fournier.
"The Sainte-Barbe!" echoed Du Lude. "They burned powder."
"Oh, yes, yes! that is what Monsieur de Thou means," said Fournier,
laughing; "very good, very good indeed! Yes, I think to-day is Sainte-
De Thou was now altogether confused and reduced to silence; as for the
others, seeing that they did not understand him, nor he them, they had
recourse to silence.
They were sitting thus mute, when the door opened to admit the old tutor
of Cinq-Mars, the Abbe Quillet, who entered, limping slightly. He looked
very gloomy, retaining none of his former gayety in his air or language;
but his look was still animated, and his speech energetic.
"Pardon me, my dear De Thou, that I so early disturb you in your
occupations; it is strange, is it not, in a gouty invalid? Ah, time
advances; two years ago I did not limp. I was, on the contrary, nimble
enough at the time of my journey to Italy; but then fear gives legs as
well as wings."
Then, retiring into the recess of a window, he signed De Thou to come to
"I need hardly remind you, my friend, who are in their secrets, that I
affianced them a fortnight ago, as they have told you."
"Ah, indeed! Whom?" exclaimed poor De Thou, fallen from the Charybdis
into the Scylla of astonishment.
"Come, come, don't affect surprise; you know very well whom," continued
the Abbe. "But, faith, I fear I have been too complaisant with them,
though these two children are really interesting in their love. I fear
for him more than for her; I doubt not he is acting very foolishly,
judging from the disturbance this morning. We must consult together
"But," said De Thou, very gravely, "upon my honor, I do not know what you
mean. Who is acting foolishly?"
"Now, my dear Monsieur, will you still play the mysterious with me? It
is really insulting," said the worthy man, beginning to be angry.
"No, indeed, I mean it not; whom have you affianced?"
"Again! fie, Monsieur!"
"And what was the disturbance this morning?"
"You are laughing at me! I take my leave," said the Abbe, rising.
"I vow that I understand not a word of all that has been told me to-day.
Do you mean Monsieur de Cinq-Mars?"
"Very well, Monsieur, very well! you treat me as a Cardinalist; very
well, we part," said the Abbe Quillet, now altogether furious. And he
snatched up his crutch and quitted the room hastily, without listening to
De Thou, who followed him to his carriage, seeking to pacify him, but
without effect, because he did not wish to name his friend upon the
stairs in the hearing of his servants, and could not explain the matter
otherwise. He had the annoyance of seeing the old Abbe depart, still in
a passion; he called out to him amicably, "Tomorrow," as the coachman
drove off, but got no answer.
It was, however, not uselessly that he had descended to the foot of the
stairs, for he saw thence hideous groups of the mob returning from the
Louvre, and was thus better able to judge of the importance of their
movements in the morning; he heard rude voices exclaiming, as in triumph:
"She showed herself, however, the little Queen!" "Long live the good Duc
de Bouillon, who is coming to us! He has a hundred thousand men with
him, all on rafts on the Seine. The old Cardinal de la Rochelle is dead!
Long live the King! Long live Monsieur le Grand!"
The cries redoubled at the arrival of a carriage and four, with the royal
livery, which stopped at the counsellor's door, and in which De Thou
recognized the equipage of Cinq-Mars; Ambrosio alighted to open the ample
curtains, which the carriages of that period had for doors. The people
threw themselves between the carriage-steps and the door of the house, so
that Cinq-Mars had an absolute struggle ere he could get out and
disengage himself from the market-women, who sought to embrace him,
"Here you are, then, my sweet, my dear! Here you are, my pet! Ah, how
handsome he is, the love, with his big collar! Isn't he worth more than
the other fellow with the white moustache? Come, my son, bring us out
some good wine this morning."
Henri d'Effiat pressed, blushing deeply the while, his friend's hand,--
who hastened to have his doors closed.
"This popular favor is a cup one must drink," said he, as they ascended
"It appears to me," replied De Thou, gravely, "that you drink it even to
the very dregs."
"I will explain all this clamorous affair to you," answered Cinq-Mars,
somewhat embarrassed. "At present, if you love me, dress yourself to
accompany me to the Queen's toilette."
"I promised you blind adherence," said the counsellor; "but truly I can
not keep my eyes shut much longer if--"
"Once again, I will give you a full explanation as we return from the
Queen. But make haste; it is nearly ten o'clock."
"Well, I will go with you," replied De Thou, conducting him into his
cabinet, where were the Comte du Lude and Fournier, while he himself
passed into his dressing-room.
The carriage of the Grand Equerry was rolling rapidly toward the Louvre,
when, closing the curtain, he took his friend's hand, and said to him
"Dear De Thou, I have kept great secrets in my heart, and, believe me,
they have weighed heavily there; but two fears impelled me to silence--
that of your danger, and--shall I say it?--that of your counsels."
"Yet well you know," replied De Thou, "that I despise the first; and I
deemed that you did not despise the second."
"No, but I feared, and still fear them. I would not be stopped. Do not
speak, my friend; not a word, I conjure you, before you have heard and
seen all that is about to take place. I will return with you to your
house on quitting the Louvre; there I will listen to you, and thence I
shall depart to continue my work, for nothing will shake my resolve, I
warn you. I have just said so to the gentlemen at your house."
In his accent Cinq-Mars had nothing of the brusqueness which clothed his
words. His voice was conciliatory, his look gentle, amiable,
affectionate, his air as tranquil as it was determined. There was no
indication of the slightest effort at control. De Thou remarked it, and
Alighting from the carriage with him, De Thou followed him up the great
staircase of the Louvre. When they entered the Queen's apartment,
announced by two ushers dressed in black and bearing ebony rods, she was
seated at her toilette. This was a table of black wood, inlaid with
tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, and brass, in an infinity of designs of
very bad taste, but which give to all furniture an air of grandeur which
we still admire in it. A mirror, rounded at the top, which the ladies of
our time would consider small and insignificant, stood in the middle of
the table, whereon were scattered jewels and necklaces.
Anne of Austria, seated before it in a large armchair of crimson velvet,
with long gold fringe, was as motionless and grave as on her throne,
while Dona Stefania and Madame de Motteville, on either side, lightly
touched her beautiful blond hair with a comb, as if finishing the Queen's
coiffure, which, however, was already perfectly arranged and decorated
with pearls. Her long tresses, though light, were exquisitely glossy,
manifesting that to the touch they must be fine and soft as silk. The
daylight fell without a shade upon her forehead, which had no reason to
dread the test, itself reflecting an almost equal light from its
surpassing fairness, which the Queen was pleased thus to display. Her
blue eyes, blended with green, were large and regular, and her vermilion
mouth had that underlip of the princesses of Austria, somewhat prominent
and slightly cleft, in the form of a cherry, which may still be marked in
all the female portraits of this time, whose painters seemed to have
aimed at imitating the Queen's mouth, in order to please the women of her
suite, whose desire was, no doubt, to resemble her.
The black dress then adopted by the court, and of which the form was even
fixed by an edict, set off the ivory of her arms, bare to the elbow, and
ornamented with a profusion of lace, which flowed from her loose sleeves.
Large pearls hung in her ears and from her girdle. Such was the
appearance of the Queen at this moment. At her feet, upon two velvet
cushions, a boy of four years old was playing with a little cannon, which
he was assiduously breaking in pieces. This was the Dauphin, afterward
Louis XIV. The Duchesse Marie de Mantua was seated on her right hand
upon a stool. The Princesse de Guemenee, the Duchesse de Chevreuse, and
Mademoiselle de Montbazon, Mesdemoiselles de Guise, de Rohan, and de
Vendome, all beautiful and brilliant with youth, were behind her,
standing. In the recess of a window, Monsieur, his hat under his arm,
was talking in a low voice with a man, stout, with a red face and a
steady and daring eye. This was the Duc de Bouillon. An officer about
twenty-five years of age, well-formed, and of agreeable presence, had
just given several papers to the Prince, which the Duc de Bouillon
appeared to be explaining to him.
De Thou, after having saluted the Queen, who said a few words to him,
approached the Princesse de Guemenee, and conversed with her in an
undertone, with an air of affectionate intimacy, but all the while intent
upon his friend's interest. Secretly trembling lest he should have
confided his destiny to a being less worthy of him than he wished, he
examined the Princess Marie with the scrupulous attention, the
scrutinizing eye of a mother examining the woman whom her son has
selected for his bride--for he thought that Marie could not be altogether
a stranger to the enterprise of Cinq-Mars. He saw with dissatisfaction
that her dress, which was extremely elegant, appeared to inspire her with
more vanity than became her on such an occasion. She was incessantly
rearranging upon her forehead and her hair the rubies which ornamented
her head, and which scarcely equalled the brilliancy and animated color
of her complexion. She looked frequently at Cinq-Mars; but it was rather
the look of coquetry than that of love, and her eyes often glanced toward
the mirror on the toilette, in which she watched the symmetry of her
beauty. These observations of the counsellor began to persuade him that
he was mistaken in suspecting her to be the aim of Cinq-Mars, especially
when he saw that she seemed to have a pleasure in sitting at the Queen's
side, while the duchesses stood behind her, and that she often looked
haughtily at them.
"In that heart of nineteen," said he, "love, were there love, would reign
alone and above all to-day. It is not she!"
The Queen made an almost imperceptible movement of the head to Madame de
Guemenee. After the two friends had spoken a moment with each person
present, and at this sign, all the ladies, except Marie de Mantua, making
profound courtesies, quitted the apartment without speaking, as if by
previous arrangement. The Queen, then herself turning her chair, said to
"My brother, I beg you will come and sit down by me. We will consult
upon what I have already told you. The Princesse Marie will not be in
the way. I begged her to remain. We have no interruption to fear."
The Queen seemed more at ease in her manner and language; and no longer
preserving her severe and ceremonious immobility, she signed to the other
persons present to approach her.
Gaston d'Orleans, somewhat alarmed at this solemn opening, came
carelessly, sat down on her right hand, and said with a half-smile and a
negligent air, playing with his ruff and the chain of the Saint Esprit
which hung from his neck:
"I think, Madame, that we shall fatigue the ears of so young a personage
by a long conference. She would rather hear us speak of dances, and of
marriage, of an elector, or of the King of Poland, for example."
Marie assumed a disdainful air; Cinq-Mars frowned.
"Pardon me," replied the Queen, looking at her; "I assure you the
politics of the present time interest her much. Do not seek to escape
us, my brother," added she, smiling. "I have you to-day! It is the
least we can do to listen to Monsieur de Bouillon."
The latter approached, holding by the hand the young officer of whom we
"I must first," said he, "present to your Majesty the Baron de Beauvau,
who has just arrived from Spain."
"From Spain?" said the Queen, with emotion. "There is courage in that;
you have seen my family?"
"He will speak to you of them, and of the Count-Duke of Olivares. As to
courage, it is not the first time he has shown it. He commanded the
cuirassiers of the Comte de Soissons."
"How? so young, sir! You must be fond of political wars."
"On the contrary, your Majesty will pardon me," replied he, "for I served
with the princes of the peace."
Anne of Austria smiled at this jeu-de-mot. The Duc de Bouillon, seizing
the moment to bring forward the grand question he had in view, quitted
Cinq-Mars, to whom he had just given his hand with an air of the most
zealous friendship, and approaching the Queen with him, "It is
miraculous, Madame," said he, "that this period still contains in its
bosom some noble characters, such as these;" and he pointed to the master
of the horse, to young Beauvau, and to De Thou. "It is only in them that
we can place our hope for the future. Such men are indeed very rare now,
for the great leveller has swung a long scythe over France."
"Is it of Time you speak," said the Queen, "or of a real personage?"
"Too real, too living, too long living, Madame!" replied the Duke,
becoming more animated; "but his measureless ambition, his colossal
selfishness can no longer be endured. All those who have noble hearts
are indignant at this yoke; and at this moment, more than ever, we see
misfortunes threatening us in the future. It must be said, Madame--yes,
it is no longer time to blind ourselves to the truth, or to conceal it--
the King's illness is serious. The moment for thinking and resolving has
arrived, for the time to act is not far distant."
The severe and abrupt tone of M. de Bouillon did not surprise Anne of
Austria; but she had always seen him more calm, and was, therefore,
somewhat alarmed by the disquietude he betrayed. Quitting accordingly
the tone of pleasantry which she had at first adopted, she said:
"How! what fear you, and what would you do?"
"I fear nothing for myself, Madame, for the army of Italy or Sedan will
always secure my safety; but I fear for you, and perhaps for the princes,
"For my children, Monsieur le Duc, for the sons of France? Do you hear
him, my brother, and do you not appear astonished?"
The Queen was deeply agitated.
"No, Madame," said Gaston d'Orleans, calmly; "you know that I am
accustomed to persecution. I am prepared to expect anything from that
man. He is master; we must be resigned."
"He master!" exclaimed the Queen. "And from whom does he derive his
powers, if not from the King? And after the King, what hand will sustain
him? Can you tell me? Who will prevent him from again returning to
nothing? Will it be you or I?"
"It will be himself," interrupted M. de Bouillon, "for he seeks to be
named regent; and I know that at this moment he contemplates taking your
children from you, and requiring the King to confide them to his care."
"Take them from me!" cried the mother, involuntarily seizing the
Dauphin, and taking him in her arms.
The child, standing between the Queen's knees, looked at the men who
surrounded him with a gravity very singular for his age, and, seeing his
mother in tears, placed his hand upon the little sword he wore.
"Ah, Monseigneur," said the Duc de Bouillon, bending half down to address
to him what he intended for the Princess, "it is not against us that you
must draw your sword, but against him who is undermining your throne.
He prepares an empire for you, no doubt. You will have an absolute
sceptre; but he has scattered the fasces which indicated it. Those
fasces were your ancient nobility, whom he has decimated. When you are
king, you will be a great king. I foresee it; but you will have subjects
only, and no friends, for friendship exists only in independence and a
kind of equality which takes its rise in force. Your ancestors had their
peers; you will not have yours. May God aid you then, Monseigneur, for
man may not do it without institutions! Be great; but above all, around
you, a great man, let there be others as strong, so that if the one
stumbles, the whole monarchy may not fall."
The Duc de Bouillon had a warmth of expression and a confidence of manner
which captivated those who heard him. His valor, his keen perception in
the field, the profundity of his political views, his knowledge of the
affairs of Europe, his reflective and decided character, all rendered him
one of the most capable and imposing men of his time-the only one,
indeed, whom the Cardinal-Duc really feared. The Queen always listened
to him with confidence, and allowed him to acquire a sort of empire over
her. She was now more deeply moved than ever.
"Ah, would to God," she exclaimed, "that my son's mind was ripe for your
counsels, and his arm strong enough to profit by them! Until that time,
however, I will listen, I will act for him. It is I who should be, and
it is I who shall be, regent. I will not resign this right save with
life. If we must make war, we will make it; for I will do everything but
submit to the shame and terror of yielding up the future Louis XIV to
this crowned subject. Yes," she went on, coloring and closely pressing
the young Dauphin's arm, "yes, my brother, and you gentlemen, counsel me!
Speak! how do we stand? Must I depart? Speak openly. As a woman, as a
wife, I could have wept over so mournful a position; but now see, as a
mother, I do not weep. I am ready to give you orders if it is
Never had Anne of Austria looked so beautiful as at this moment; and the
enthusiasm she manifested electrified all those present, who needed but a
word from her mouth to speak. The Duc de Bouillon cast a glance at
Monsieur, which decided him.
"Ma foi!" said he, with deliberation, "if you give orders, my sister, I
will be the captain of your guards, on my honor, for I too am weary of
the vexations occasioned me by this knave. He continues to persecute me,
seeks to break off my marriage, and still keeps my friends in the
Bastille, or has them assassinated from time to time; and besides, I am
indignant," said he, recollecting himself and assuming a more solemn air,
"I am indignant at the misery of the people."
"My brother," returned the Princess, energetically, "I take you at your
word, for with you, one must do so; and I hope that together we shall be
strong enough for the purpose. Do only as Monsieur le Comte de Soissons
did, but survive your victory. Side with me, as you did with Monsieur de
Montmorency, but leap the ditch."
Gaston felt the point of this. He called to mind the well-known incident
when the unfortunate rebel of Castelnaudary leaped almost alone a large
ditch, and found on the other side seventeen wounds, a prison, and death
in the sight of Monsieur, who remained motionless with his army. In the
rapidity of the Queen's enunciation he had not time to examine whether
she had employed this expression proverbially or with a direct reference;
but at all events, he decided not to notice it, and was indeed prevented
from doing so by the Queen, who continued, looking at Cinq-Mars:
"But, above all, no panic-terror! Let us know exactly where we are,
Monsieur le Grand. You have just left the King. Is there fear with
D'Effiat had not ceased to observe Marie de Mantua, whose expressive
countenance exhibited to him all her ideas far more rapidly and more
surely than words. He read there the desire that he should speak--the
desire that he should confirm the Prince and the Queen. An impatient
movement of her foot conveyed to him her will that the thing should be
accomplished, the conspiracy arranged. His face became pale and more
pensive; he pondered for a moment, realizing that his destiny was
contained in that hour. De Thou looked at him and trembled, for he knew
him well. He would fain have said one word to him, only one word; but
Cinq-Mars had already raised his head. He spoke:
"I do not think, Madame, that the King is so ill as you suppose. God
will long preserve to us this Prince. I hope so; I am even sure of it.
He suffers, it is true, suffers much; but it is his soul more peculiarly
that is sick, and of an evil which nothing can cure--of an evil which one
would not wish to one's greatest enemy, and which would gain him the pity
of the whole world if it were known. The end of his misery--that is to
say, of his life--will not be granted him for a long time. His languor
is entirely moral. There is in his heart a great revolution going on;
he would accomplish it, and can not.
"The King has felt for many long years growing within him the seeds of a
just hatred against a man to whom he thinks he owes gratitude, and it is
this internal combat between his natural goodness and his anger that
devours him. Every year that has passed has deposited at his feet,
on one side, the great works of this man, and on the other, his crimes.
It is the last which now weigh down the balance. The King sees them and
is indignant; he would punish, but all at once he stops and weeps. If
you could witness him thus, Madame, you would pity him. I have seen him
seize the pen which was to sign his exile, dip it into the ink with a
bold hand, and use it--for what? --to congratulate him on some recent
success. He at once applauds himself for his goodness as a Christian,
curses himself for his weakness as a sovereign judge, despises himself as
a king. He seeks refuge in prayer, and plunges into meditation upon the
future; then he rises terrified because he has seen in thought the
tortures which this man merits, and how deeply no one knows better than
he. You should hear him in these moments accuse himself of criminal
weakness, and exclaim that he himself should be punished for not having
known how to punish. One would say that there are spirits which order
him to strike, for his arms are raised as he sleeps. In a word, Madame,
the storm murmurs in his heart, but burns none but himself. The
thunderbolts are chained."
"Well, then, let us loose them!" exclaimed the Duc de Bouillon.
"He who touches them may die of the contact," said Monsieur.
"But what a noble devotion!" cried the Queen.
"How I should admire the hero!" said Marie, in a half-whisper.
"I will do it," answered Cinq-Mars.
"We will do it," said M. de Thou, in his ear.
Young Beauvau had approached the Duc de Bouillon.
"Monsieur," said he, "do you forget what follows?"
"No, 'pardieu'! I do not forget it," replied the latter, in a low voice;
then, addressing the Queen, "Madame," said he, "accept the offer of
Monsieur le Grand. He is more in a position to sway the King than either
you or I; but hold yourself prepared, for the Cardinal is too wary to be
caught sleeping. I do not believe in his illness. I have no faith in
the silence and immobility of which he has sought to persuade us these
two years past. I would not believe in his death even, unless I had
myself thrown his head into the sea, like that of the giant in Ariosto.
Hold yourself ready to meet all contingencies, and let us, meanwhile,
hasten our operations. I have shown my plans to Monsieur just now; I
will give you a summary of them. I offer you Sedan, Madame, for
yourself, and for Messeigneurs, your sons. The army of Italy is mine; I
will recall it if necessary. Monsieur le Grand is master of half the
camp of Perpignan. All the old Huguenots of La Rochelle and the South
are ready to come to him at the first nod. All has been organized for a
year past, by my care, to meet events."
"I should not hesitate," said the Queen, "to place myself in your hands,
to save my children, if any misfortune should happen to the King. But in
this general plan you forget Paris."
"It is ours on every side; the people by the archbishop, without his
suspecting it, and by Monsieur de Beaufort, who is its king; the troops
by your guards and those of Monsieur, who shall be chief in command, if
"I! I! oh, that positively can not be! I have not enough people, and I
must have a retreat stronger than Sedan," said Gaston.
"It suffices for the Queen," replied M. de Bouillon.
"Ah, that may be! but my sister does not risk so much as a man who draws
the sword. Do you know that these are bold measures you propose?"
"What, even if we have the King on our side?" asked Anne of Austria.
"Yes, Madame, yes; we do not know how long that may last. We must make
ourselves sure; and I do nothing without the treaty with Spain."
"Do nothing, then," said the Queen, coloring deeply; "for certainly I
will never hear that spoken of."
"And yet, Madame, it were more prudent, and Monsieur is right," said the
Duc de Bouillon; "for the Count-Duke of San Lucra offers us seventeen
thousand men, tried troops, and five hundred thousand crowns in ready
"What!" exclaimed the Queen, with astonishment, "have you dared to
proceed so far without my consent? already treaties with foreigners!"
"Foreigners, my sister! could we imagine that a princess of Spain would
use that word?" said Gaston.
Anne of Austria rose, taking the Dauphin by the hand; and, leaning upon
Marie: "Yes, sir," she said, "I am a Spaniard; but I am the grand-
daughter of Charles V, and I know that a queen's country is where her
throne is. I leave you, gentlemen; proceed without me. I know nothing
of the matter for the future."
She advanced some steps, but seeing Marie pale and bathed in tears, she
"I will, however, solemnly promise you inviolable secrecy; but nothing
All were mentally disconcerted, except the Duc de Bouillon, who, not
willing to lose the advantages he had gained, said to the Queen, bowing
"We are grateful for this promise, Madame, and we ask no more, persuaded
that after the first success you will be entirely with us."
Not wishing to engage in a war of words, the Queen courtesied somewhat
less coldly, and quitted the apartment with Marie, who cast upon Cinq-
Mars one of those looks which comprehend at once all the emotions of the
soul. He seemed to read in her beautiful eyes the eternal and mournful
devotion of a woman who has given herself up forever; and he felt that if
he had once thought of withdrawing from his enterprise, he should now
have considered himself the basest of men.
As soon as the two princesses had disappeared, "There, there! I told you
so, Bouillon, you offended the Queen," said Monsieur; "you went too far.
You can not certainly accuse me of having been hesitating this morning.
I have, on the contrary, shown more resolution than I ought to have
"I am full of joy and gratitude toward her Majesty," said M. de Bouillon,
with a triumphant air; "we are sure of the future. What will you do now,
Monsieur de Cinq-Mars?"
"I have told you, Monsieur; I draw not back, whatever the consequences.
I will see the King; I will run every risk to obtain his assent."
"And the treaty with Spain?"
De Thou seized Cinq-Mars by the arm, and, advancing suddenly, said, with
a solemn air:
"We have decided that it shall be only signed after the interview with
the King; for should his Majesty's just severity toward the Cardinal
dispense with it, we have thought it better not to expose ourselves to
the discovery of so dangerous a treaty."
M. de Bouillon frowned.
"If I did not know Monsieur de Thou," said he, "I should have regarded
this as a defection; but from him--"
"Monsieur," replied the counsellor, "I think I may engage myself, on my
honor, to do all that Monsieur le Grand does; we are inseparable."
Cinq-Mars looked at his friend, and was astonished to see upon his mild
countenance the expression of sombre despair; he was so struck with it
that he had not the courage to gainsay him.
"He is right, gentlemen," he said with a cold but kindly smile; "the King
will perhaps spare us much trouble. We may do good things with him. For
the rest, Monseigneur, and you, Monsieur le Duc," he added with immovable
firmness, "fear not that I shall ever draw back. I have burned all the
bridges behind me. I must advance; the Cardinal's power shall fall, or
"It is strange, very strange!" said Monsieur; "I see that every one here
is farther advanced in the conspiracy than I imagined."
"Not so, Monsieur," said the Duc de Bouillon; "we prepared only that
which you might please to accept. Observe that there is nothing in
writing. You have but to speak, and nothing exists or ever has existed;
according to your order, the whole thing shall be a dream or a volcano."
"Well, well, I am content, if it must be so," said Gaston; "let us occupy
ourselves with more agreeable topics. Thank God, we have a little time
before us! I confess I wish that it were all over. I am not fitted for
violent emotions; they affect my health," he added, taking M. de
Beauvau's arm. "Tell us if the Spanish women are still pretty, young
man. It is said you are a great gallant among them. 'Tudieu'! I'm sure
you've got yourself talked of there. They tell me the women wear
enormous petticoats. Well, I am not at all against that; they make the
foot look smaller and prettier. I'm sure the wife of Don Louis de Haro
is not handsomer than Madame de Guemenee, is she? Come, be frank; I'm
told she looks like a nun. Ah! you do not answer; you are embarrassed.
She has then taken your fancy; or you fear to offend our friend Monsieur
de Thou in comparing her with the beautiful Guemenee. Well, let's talk
of the customs; the King has a charming dwarf I'm told, and they put him
in a pie. He is a fortunate man, that King of Spain! I don't know
another equally so. And the Queen, she is still served on bended knee,
is she not? Ah! that is a good custom; we have lost it. It is very
unfortunate--more unfortunate than may be supposed."
And Gaston d'Orleans had the confidence to speak in this tone nearly half
an hour, with a young man whose serious character was not at all adapted
to such conversation, and who, still occupied with the importance of the
scene he had just witnessed and the great interests which had been
discussed, made no answer to this torrent of idle words. He looked at
the Duc de Bouillon with an astonished air, as if to ask him whether this
was really the man whom they were going to place at the head of the most
audacious enterprise that had ever been launched; while the Prince,
without appearing to perceive that he remained unanswered, replied to
himself, speaking with volubility, as he drew him gradually out of the
room. He feared that one of the gentlemen present might recommence the
terrible conversation about the treaty; but none desired to do so, unless
it were the Duc de Bouillon, who, however, preserved an angry silence.
As for Cinq-Mars, he had been led away by De Thou, under cover of the
chattering of Monsieur, who took care not to appear to notice their
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A queen's country is where her throne is
All that he said, I had already thought
Always the first word which is the most difficult to say
Dare now to be silent when I have told you these things
Daylight is detrimental to them
Friendship exists only in independence and a kind of equality
I have burned all the bridges behind me
In pitying me he forgot himself
In times like these we must see all and say all
Reproaches are useless and cruel if the evil is done
Should be punished for not having known how to punish
Tears for the future
The great leveller has swung a long scythe over France
The most in favor will be the soonest abandoned by him
This popular favor is a cup one must drink
This was the Dauphin, afterward Louis XIV
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