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This is to highlight the great work done by Project Gutenberg. Thanks to them great literary works that are in public domain are available for those who care to read them. Dumas’s novels certainly whetted my appetite for reading history. I read Marguerite de Valois and its sequel Chicot the Jester in my adolescent years. Then I read an excellent biography on Catherine Medici by Leonie Frieda. Lately I have been reading the memoirs of La Reine Margot, an interesting, intimate study of Court life in one of the fascinating but dark periods of France.
History is the blind spot of man who wants to create history, For all his understanding of the events that are in full flow and in his eagerness to make them suit his own needs he makes news. But has he escaped the mistakes that happened in another time and another place? No the early modern French history shows our inability so clearly.
When one reads the six religious wars(1562-1629) and the Massacre on the night of St. Bartholomew one can well understand the present intolerance that exists in our midst. Religion didn’t make any tolerant then as now. The pulpit in the Churches as now as from the mosques is a place to spew hate; mullahs speak for their prophets and is Islam any better for it? Popes wash feet on special days to show humility. But still rest of their days they are stuck to the seat of Satan making appropriate sounds to show love of God. A plague on both houses, I say.B.

MARGUERITE DE
VALOIS BY ALEXANDRE
DUMAS….

NEW YORK, THOMAS Y.
CROWELL & COMPANY,
PUBLISHERS

COPYRIGHT, 1900,
BY THOMAS Y. CROWELL & CO.

Title: Marguerite de Valois

Author: Alexandre Dumas

Release Date: September 2, 2010 [EBook #33609]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Marguerite de Valois, by Alexandre Dumas

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CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

I. MONSIEUR DE GUISE’S LATIN 1

II. THE QUEEN OF NAVARRE’S BEDCHAMBER. 13

III. THE POET-KING 25

IV. THE EVENING OF THE 24TH OF AUGUST, 1572 36

V. OF THE LOUVRE IN PARTICULAR, AND OF VIRTUE IN GENERAL 44

VI. THE DEBT PAID 53

VII. THE NIGHT OF THE 24TH OF AUGUST, 1572 64

VIII. THE MASSACRE 78

IX. THE MURDERERS 89

X. DEATH, MASS, OR THE BASTILLE 102

XI. THE HAWTHORN OF THE CEMETERY OF THE INNOCENTS 114

XII. MUTUAL CONFIDENCES 125

XIII. HOW THERE ARE KEYS WHICH OPEN DOORS THEY ARE NOT MEANT FOR 132

XIV. THE SECOND MARRIAGE NIGHT 142

XV. WHAT WOMAN WILLS, GOD WILLS 150

XVI. A DEAD ENEMY’S BODY ALWAYS SMELLS SWEET 164

XVII. MAÎTRE AMBROISE PARÉ’S CONFRÈRE 176

XVIII. THE GHOSTS 183

XIX. THE ABODE OF MAÎTRE RÉNÉ, PERFUMER TO THE QUEEN MOTHER 193

XX. THE BLACK HENS 204

XXI. MADAME DE SAUVE’S APARTMENT 210

XXII. “SIRE, YOU SHALL BE KING” 219

XXIII. A NEW CONVERT 224

XXIV. THE RUE TIZON AND THE RUE CLOCHE PERCÉE 236

XXV. THE CHERRY-COLORED CLOAK 248

XXVI. MARGARITA 257

XXVII. THE HAND OF GOD 263

XXVIII. THE LETTER FROM ROME 268

XXIX. THE DEPARTURE 274

XXX. MAUREVEL 280

XXXI. THE HUNT 284

XXXII. FRATERNITY 293

XXXIII. THE GRATITUDE OF KING CHARLES IX 300

XXXIV. MAN PROPOSES BUT GOD DISPOSES 306

XXXV. A NIGHT OF KINGS 316

XXXVI. THE ANAGRAM 324

XXXVII. THE RETURN TO THE LOUVRE 329

XXXVIII. THE GIRDLE OF THE QUEEN MOTHER 340

XXXIX. PROJECTS OF REVENGE 348

XL. THE ATRIDES 362

XLI. THE HOROSCOPE 372

XLII. CONFIDENCES 379

XLIII. THE AMBASSADORS 389

XLIV. ORESTES AND PYLADES 395

XLV. ORTHON 404

XLVI. THE INN OF LA BELLE ÉTOILE 415

XLVII. DE MOUY DE SAINT PHALE 423

XLVIII. TWO HEADS FOR ONE CROWN 430

XLIX. THE TREATISE ON HUNTING 441

L. HAWKING 448

LI. THE PAVILION OF FRANÇOIS I 456

LII. THE EXAMINATION 464

LIII. ACTÉON 473

LIV. THE FOREST OF VINCENNES 479

LV. THE FIGURE OF WAX 486

LVI. THE INVISIBLE BUCKLERS 497

LVII. THE JUDGES 503

LVIII. THE TORTURE OF THE BOOT 512

LIX. THE CHAPEL 520

LX. THE PLACE SAINT JEAN EN GRÈVE 525

LXI. THE HEADSMAN’S TOWER 530

LXII. THE SWEAT OF BLOOD 538

LXIII. THE DONJON OF THE PRISON OF VINCENNES 542

LXIV. THE REGENCY 547

LXV. THE KING IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE KING! 551

LXVI. EPILOGUE 556

MARGUERITE DE VALOIS.

CHAPTER I.

MONSIEUR DE GUISE’S LATIN.

On Monday, the 18th of August, 1572, there was a splendid festival at
the Louvre.
The ordinarily gloomy windows of the ancient royal residence were
brilliantly lighted, and the squares and streets adjacent, usually so
solitary after Saint Germain l’Auxerrois had struck the hour of nine,
were crowded with people, although it was past midnight.

The vast, threatening, eager, turbulent throng resembled, in the
darkness, a black and tumbling sea, each billow of which makes a roaring
breaker; this sea, flowing through the Rue des Fossés Saint Germain and
the Rue de l’Astruce and covering the quay, surged against the base of
the walls of the Louvre, and, in its refluent tide, against the Hôtel de
Bourbon, which faced it on the other side.

In spite of the royal festival, and perhaps even because of the royal
festival, there was something threatening in the appearance of the
people, for no doubt was felt that this imposing ceremony which called
them there as spectators, was only the prelude to another in which they
would participate a week later as invited guests and amuse themselves
with all their hearts.

The court was celebrating the marriage of Madame Marguerite de Valois,
daughter of Henry II. and sister of King Charles IX., with Henry de
Bourbon, King of Navarre. In truth, that very morning, on a stage
erected at the entrance to Notre-Dame, the Cardinal de Bourbon had
united the young couple with the usual ceremonial observed at the
marriages of the royal daughters of France.

This marriage had astonished every one, and occasioned much surmise to
certain persons who saw clearer than others. They found it difficult to
understand the union of two parties who hated each other so thoroughly
as did, at this moment, the Protestant party and the Catholic party; and
they wondered how the young Prince de Condé could forgive the Duc
d’Anjou, the King’s brother, for the death of his father, assassinated
at Jarnac by Montesquiou. They asked how the young Duc de Guise could
pardon Admiral de Coligny for the death of his father, assassinated at
Orléans by Poltrot de Méré.

Moreover, Jeanne de Navarre, the weak Antoine de Bourbon’s courageous
wife, who had conducted her son Henry to the royal marriage awaiting
him, had died scarcely two months before, and singular reports had been
spread abroad as to her sudden death. It was everywhere whispered, and
in some places said aloud, that she had discovered some terrible secret;
and that Catharine de Médicis, fearing its disclosure, had poisoned her
with perfumed gloves, which had been made by a man named Réné, a
Florentine deeply skilled in such matters. This report was the more
widely spread and believed when, after this great queen’s death, at her
son’s request, two celebrated physicians, one of whom was the famous
Ambroise Paré, were instructed to open and examine the body, but not the
skull. As Jeanne de Navarre had been poisoned by a perfume, only the
brain could show any trace of the crime (the one part excluded from
dissection). We say crime, for no one doubted that a crime had been
committed.

This was not all. King Charles in particular had, with a persistency
almost approaching obstinacy, urged this marriage, which not only
reëstablished peace in his kingdom, but also attracted to Paris the
principal Huguenots of France. As the two betrothed belonged one to the
Catholic religion and the other to the reformed religion, they had been
obliged to obtain a dispensation from Gregory XIII., who then filled the
papal chair. The dispensation was slow in coming, and the delay had
caused the late Queen of Navarre great uneasiness. She one day expressed
to Charles IX. her fears lest the dispensation should not arrive; to
which the King replied:

“Have no anxiety, my dear aunt. I honor you more than I do the Pope,
and I love my sister more than I fear him. I am not a Huguenot, neither
am I a blockhead; and if the Pope makes a fool of himself, I will myself
take Margot by the hand, and have her married to your son in some
Protestant meeting-house!”

This speech was soon spread from the Louvre through the city, and, while
it greatly rejoiced the Huguenots, had given the Catholics something to
think about; they asked one another, in a whisper, if the King was
really betraying them or was only playing a comedy which some fine
morning or evening might have an unexpected ending.

Charles IX.’s conduct toward Admiral de Coligny, who for five or six
years had been so bitterly opposed to the King, appeared particularly
inexplicable; after having put on his head a price of a hundred and
fifty thousand golden crowns, the King now swore by him, called him his
father, and declared openly that he should in future confide the conduct
of the war to him alone. To such a pitch was this carried that Catharine
de Médicis herself, who until then had controlled the young prince’s
actions, will, and even desires, seemed to be growing really uneasy, and
not without reason; for, in a moment of confidence, Charles IX. had said
to the admiral, in reference to the war in Flanders,

“My father, there is one other thing against which we must be on our
guard–that is, that the queen, my mother, who likes to poke her nose
everywhere, as you well know, shall learn nothing of this undertaking;
we must keep it so quiet that she will not have a suspicion of it, or
being such a mischief-maker as I know she is, she would spoil all.”

Now, wise and experienced as he was, Coligny had not been able to keep
such an absolute secret; and, though he had come to Paris with great
suspicions, and albeit at his departure from Chatillon a peasant woman
had thrown herself at his feet, crying, “Ah! sir, our good master, do
not go to Paris, for if you do, you will die–you and all who are with
you!”–these suspicions were gradually lulled in his heart, and so it
was with Téligny, his son-in-law, to whom the King was especially kind
and attentive, calling him his brother, as he called the admiral his
father, and addressing him with the familiar “thou,” as he did his best
friends.

The Huguenots, excepting some few morose and suspicious spirits, were
therefore completely reassured. The death of the Queen of Navarre passed
as having been caused by pleurisy, and the spacious apartments of the
Louvre were filled with all those gallant Protestants to whom the
marriage of their young chief, Henry, promised an unexpected return of
good fortune. Admiral Coligny, La Rochefoucault, the young Prince de
Condé, Téligny,–in short, all the leaders of the party,–were
triumphant when they saw so powerful at the Louvre and so welcome in
Paris those whom, three months before, King Charles and Queen Catharine
would have hanged on gibbets higher than those of assassins.

The Maréchal de Montmorency was the only one who was missing among all
his brothers, for no promise could move him, no specious appearances
deceive him, and he remained secluded in his château de l’Isle Adam,
offering as his excuse for not appearing the grief which he still felt
for his father, the Constable Anne de Montmorency, who had been killed
at the battle of Saint Denis by a pistol-shot fired by Robert Stuart.
But as this had taken place more than three years before, and as
sensitiveness was a virtue little practised at that time, this unduly
protracted mourning was interpreted just as people cared to interpret
it.

However, everything seemed to show that the Maréchal de Montmorency was
mistaken. The King, the Queen, the Duc d’Anjou, and the Duc d’Alençon
did the honors of the royal festival with all courtesy and kindness.

The Duc d’Anjou received from the Huguenots themselves well-deserved
compliments on the two battles of Jarnac and Montcontour, which he had
gained before he was eighteen years of age, more precocious in that than
either Cæsar or Alexander, to whom they compared him, of course placing
the conquerors of Pharsalia and the Issus as inferior to the living
prince. The Duc d’Alençon looked on, with his bland, false smile, while
Queen Catharine, radiant with joy and overflowing with honeyed phrases,
congratulated Prince Henry de Condé on his recent marriage with Marie de
Clèves; even the Messieurs de Guise themselves smiled on the formidable
enemies of their house, and the Duc de Mayenne discoursed with M. de
Tavannes and the admiral on the impending war, which was now more than
ever threatened against Philippe II.

In the midst of these groups a young man of about nineteen years of age
was walking to and fro, his head a little on one side, his ear open to
all that was said. He had a keen eye, black hair cut very close, thick
eyebrows, a nose hooked like an eagle’s, a sneering smile, and a growing
mustache and beard. This young man, who by his reckless daring had first
attracted attention at the battle of Arnay-le-Duc and was the recipient
of numberless compliments, was the dearly beloved pupil of Coligny and
the hero of the day. Three months before–that is to say, when his
mother was still living–he was called the Prince de Béarn, now he was
called the King of Navarre, afterwards he was known as Henry IV.

From time to time a swift and gloomy cloud passed over his brow;
unquestionably it was at the thought that scarce had two months elapsed
since his mother’s death, and he, less than any one, doubted that she
had been poisoned. But the cloud was transitory, and disappeared like a
fleeting shadow, for they who spoke to him, they who congratulated him,
they who elbowed him, were the very ones who had assassinated the brave
Jeanne d’Albret.

Some paces distant from the King of Navarre, almost as pensive, almost
as gloomy as the king pretended to be joyous and open-hearted, was the
young Duc de Guise, conversing with Téligny. More fortunate than the
Béarnais, at two-and-twenty he had almost attained the reputation of his
father, François, the great Duc de Guise. He was an elegant gentleman,
very tall, with a noble and haughty look, and gifted with that natural
majesty which caused it to be said that in comparison with him other
princes seemed to belong to the people. Young as he was, the Catholics
looked up to him as the chief of their party, as the Huguenots saw
theirs in Henry of Navarre, whose portrait we have just drawn. At first
he had borne the title of Prince de Joinville, and at the siege of
Orléans had fought his first battle under his father, who died in his
arms, denouncing Admiral Coligny as his assassin. The young duke then,
like Hannibal, took a solemn oath to avenge his father’s death on the
admiral and his family, and to pursue the foes to his religion without
truce or respite, promising God to be his destroying angel on earth
until the last heretic should be exterminated. So with deep astonishment
the people saw this prince, usually so faithful to his word, offering
his hand to those whom he had sworn to hold as his eternal enemies, and
talking familiarly with the son-in-law of the man whose death he had
promised to his dying father.

But as we have said, this was an evening of astonishments.

Indeed, an observer privileged to be present at this festival, endowed
with the knowledge of the future which is fortunately hidden from men,
and with that power of reading men’s hearts which unfortunately belongs
only to God, would have certainly enjoyed the strangest spectacle to be
found in all the annals of the melancholy human comedy.

But this observer who was absent from the inner courts of the Louvre was
to be found in the streets gazing with flashing eyes and breaking out
into loud threats; this observer was the people, who, with its
marvellous instinct made keener by hatred, watched from afar the shadows
of its implacable enemies and translated the impressions they made with
as great clearness as an inquisitive person can do before the windows of
a hermetically sealed ball-room. The music intoxicates and governs the
dancers, but the inquisitive person sees only the movement and laughs at
the puppet jumping about without reason, because the inquisitive person
hears no music.

The music that intoxicated the Huguenots was the voice of their pride.

The gleams which caught the eyes of the Parisians that midnight were the
lightning flashes of their hatred illuminating the future.

And meantime everything was still festive within, and a murmur softer
and more flattering than ever was at this moment pervading the Louvre,
for the youthful bride, having laid aside her toilet of ceremony, her
long mantle and flowing veil, had just returned to the ball-room,
accompanied by the lovely Duchesse de Nevers, her most intimate friend,
and led by her brother, Charles IX., who presented her to the principal
guests.

The bride was the daughter of Henry II., was the pearl of the crown of
France, was MARGUERITE DE VALOIS, whom in his familiar tenderness for
her King Charles IX. always called “_ma soeur Margot_,” “my sister
Margot.”

Assuredly never was any welcome, however flattering, more richly
deserved than that which the new Queen of Navarre was at this moment
receiving. Marguerite at this period was scarcely twenty, and she was
already the object of all the poets’ eulogies, some of whom compared her
to Aurora, others to Cytherea; she was, in truth, a beauty without rival
in that court in which Catharine de Médicis had assembled the loveliest
women she could find, to make of them her sirens.

Marguerite had black hair and a brilliant complexion; a voluptuous eye,
veiled by long lashes; delicate coral lips; a slender neck; a graceful,
opulent figure, and concealed in a satin slipper a tiny foot. The
French, who possessed her, were proud to see such a lovely flower
flourishing in their soil, and foreigners who passed through France
returned home dazzled with her beauty if they had but seen her, and
amazed at her knowledge if they had discoursed with her; for Marguerite
was not only the loveliest, she was also the most erudite woman of her
time, and every one was quoting the remark of an Italian scholar who had
been presented to her, and who, after having conversed with her for an
hour in Italian, Spanish, Latin, and Greek, had gone away saying:

“To see the court without seeing Marguerite de Valois is to see neither
France nor the court.”

Thus addresses to King Charles IX. and the Queen of Navarre were not
wanting. It is well known that the Huguenots were great hands at
addresses. Many allusions to the past, many hints as to the future, were
adroitly slipped into these harangues; but to all such allusions and
speeches the King replied, with his pale lips and artificial smiles:

“In giving my sister Margot to Henry of Navarre, I give my sister to all
the Protestants of the kingdom.”

This phrase assured some and made others smile, for it had really a
double sense: the one paternal, with which Charles IX. would not load
his mind; the other insulting to the bride, to her husband, and also to
him who said it, for it recalled some scandalous rumors with which the
chroniclers of the court had already found means to smirch the nuptial
robe of Marguerite de Valois.

However, M. de Guise was conversing, as we have said, with Téligny; but
he did not pay to the conversation such sustained attention but that he
turned away somewhat, from time to time, to cast a glance at the group
of ladies, in the centre of whom glittered the Queen of Navarre. When
the princess’s eye thus met that of the young duke, a cloud seemed to
over-spread that lovely brow, around which stars of diamonds formed a
tremulous halo, and some agitating thought might be divined in her
restless and impatient manner.

The Princess Claude, Marguerite’s eldest sister, who had been for some
years married to the Duc de Lorraine, had observed this uneasiness, and
was going up to her to inquire the cause, when all stood aside at the
approach of the queen mother, who came forward, leaning on the arm of
the young Prince de Condé, and the princess was thus suddenly separated
from her sister. There was a general movement, by which the Duc de Guise
profited to approach Madame de Nevers, his sister-in-law, and
Marguerite.

Madame de Lorraine, who had not lost sight of her sister, then remarked,
instead of the cloud which she had before observed on her forehead, a
burning blush come into her cheeks. The duke approached still nearer,
and when he was within two steps of Marguerite, she appeared rather to
feel than see his presence, and turned round, making a violent effort
over herself in order to give her features an appearance of calmness and
indifference. The duke, then respectfully bowing, murmured in a low
tone,

“_Ipse attuli._”

That meant: “I have brought it, or brought it myself.”

Marguerite returned the young duke’s bow, and as she straightened
herself, replied, in the same tone,

“_Noctu pro more._”

That meant: “To-night, as usual.”

These soft words, absorbed by the enormous collar which the princess
wore, as in the bell of a speaking-trumpet, were heard only by the
person to whom they were addressed; but brief as had been the
conference, it doubtless composed all the young couple had to say, for
after this exchange of two words for three, they separated, Marguerite
more thoughtful and the duke with his brow less clouded than when they

met. This little scene took place without the person most interested
appearing to remark it, for the King of Navarre had eyes but for one
lady, and she had around her a suite almost as numerous as that which
followed Marguerite de Valois. This was the beautiful Madame de Sauve.

Charlotte de Beaune Semblançay, granddaughter of the unfortunate
Semblançay, and wife of Simon de Fizes, Baron de Sauve, was one of the
ladies-in-waiting to Catharine de Médicis, and one of the most
redoubtable auxiliaries of this queen, who poured forth to her enemies
love-philtres when she dared not pour out Florentine poison. Delicately
fair, and by turns sparkling with vivacity or languishing in melancholy,
always ready for love and intrigue, the two great occupations which for
fifty years employed the court of the three succeeding kings,–a woman
in every acceptation of the word and in all the charm of the idea, from
the blue eye languishing or flashing with fire to the small rebellious
feet arched in their velvet slippers, Madame de Sauve had already for
some months taken complete possession of every faculty of the King of
Navarre, then beginning his career as a lover as well as a politician;
thus it was that Marguerite de Valois, a magnificent and royal beauty,
had not even excited admiration in her husband’s heart; and what was
more strange, and astonished all the world, even from a soul so full of
darkness and mystery, Catharine de Médicis, while she prosecuted her
project of union between her daughter and the King of Navarre, had not
ceased to favor almost openly his amour with Madame de Sauve. But
despite this powerful aid, and despite the easy manners of the age, the
lovely Charlotte had hitherto resisted; and this resistance, unheard of,
incredible, unprecedented, even more than the beauty and wit of her who
resisted, had excited in the heart of the Béarnais a passion which,
unable to satisfy itself, had destroyed in the young king’s heart all
timidity, pride, and even that carelessness, half philosophic, half
indolent, which formed the basis of his character.

Madame de Sauve had been only a few minutes in the ballroom; from spite
or grief she had at first resolved on not being present at her rival’s
triumph, and under the pretext of an indisposition had allowed her
husband, who had been for five years secretary of state, to go alone to
the Louvre; but when Catharine de Médicis saw the baron without his
wife, she asked the cause that kept her dear Charlotte away, and when
she found that the indisposition was but slight, she wrote a few words
to her, which the lady hastened to obey. Henry, sad as he had at first
been at her absence, had yet breathed more freely when he saw M. de
Sauve enter alone; but just as he was about to pay some court to the
charming creature whom he was condemned, if not to love, at least to
treat as his wife, he unexpectedly saw Madame de Sauve arise from the
farther end of the gallery. He remained stationary on the spot, his eyes
fastened on the Circe who enthralled him as if by magic chains, and
instead of proceeding towards his wife, by a movement of hesitation
which betrayed more astonishment than alarm he advanced to meet Madame
de Sauve.

The courtiers, seeing the King of Navarre, whose inflammable heart they
knew, approach the beautiful Charlotte, had not the courage to prevent
their meeting, but drew aside complaisantly; so that at the very moment
when Marguerite de Valois and Monsieur de Guise exchanged the few words
in Latin which we have noted above, Henry, having approached Madame de
Sauve, began, in very intelligible French, although with somewhat of a
Gascon accent, a conversation by no means so mysterious.

“Ah, _ma mie_!” he said, “you have, then, come at the very moment when
they assured me that you were ill, and I had lost all hope of seeing
you.”

“Would your majesty perhaps wish me to believe that it had cost you
something to lose this hope?” replied Madame de Sauve.

“By Heaven! I believe it!” replied the Béarnais; “know you not that you
are my sun by day and my star by night? By my faith, I was in deepest
darkness till you appeared and suddenly illumined all.”

“Then, monseigneur, I serve you a very ill turn.”

“What do you mean, _ma mie_?” inquired Henry.

“I mean that he who is master of the handsomest woman in France should
only have one desire–that the light should disappear and give way to
darkness, for happiness awaits you in the darkness.”

“You know, cruel one, that my happiness is in the hands of one woman
only, and that she laughs at poor Henry.”

“Oh!” replied the baroness, “I believed, on the contrary, that it was
this person who was the sport and jest of the King of Navarre.” Henry
was alarmed at this hostile attitude, and yet he bethought him that it
betrayed jealous spite, and that jealous spite is only the mask of love.

“Indeed, dear Charlotte, you reproach me very unjustly, and I do not
comprehend how so lovely a mouth can be so cruel. Do you suppose for a
moment that it is I who give myself in marriage? No, _ventre saint
gris_, it is not I!”

“It is I, perhaps,” said the baroness, sharply,–if ever the voice of
the woman who loves us and reproaches us for not loving her can seem
sharp.

“With your lovely eyes have you not seen farther, baroness? No, no;
Henry of Navarre is not marrying Marguerite de Valois.”

“And who, pray, is?”

“Why, by Heaven! it is the reformed religion marrying the pope–that’s
all.”

“No, no, I cannot be deceived by your jests. Monseigneur loves Madame
Marguerite. And can I blame you? Heaven forbid! She is beautiful enough
to be adored.”

Henry reflected for a moment, and, as he reflected, a meaning smile
curled the corner of his lips.

“Baroness,” said he, “you seem to be seeking a quarrel with me, but you
have no right to do so. What have you done to prevent me from marrying
Madame Marguerite? Nothing. On the contrary, you have always driven me
to despair.”

“And well for me that I have, monseigneur,” replied Madame de Sauve.

“How so?”

“Why, of course, because you are marrying another woman!”

“I marry her because you love me not.”

“If I had loved you, sire, I must have died in an hour.”

“In an hour? What do you mean? And of what death would you have died?”

“Of jealousy!–for in an hour the Queen of Navarre will send away her
women, and your majesty your gentlemen.”

“Is that really the thought that is uppermost in your mind, _ma mie_?”

“I did not say so. I only say, that if I loved you it would be uppermost
in my mind most tormentingly.”

“Very well,” said Henry, at the height of joy on hearing this
confession, the first which she had made to him, “suppose the King of
Navarre should not send away his gentlemen this evening?”

“Sire,” replied Madame de Sauve, looking at the king with astonishment
for once unfeigned, “you say things impossible and incredible.”

“What must I do to make you believe them?”

“Give me a proof–and that proof you cannot give me.”

“Yes, baroness, yes! By Saint Henry, I will give it you!” exclaimed the
king, gazing at the young woman with eyes hot with love.

“Oh, your majesty!” exclaimed the lovely Charlotte in an undertone and
with downcast eyes, “I do not understand–No! no, it is impossible for
you to turn your back on the happiness awaiting you.”

“There are four Henrys in this room, my adorable!” replied the king,
“Henry de France, Henry de Condé, Henry de Guise, but there is only one
Henry of Navarre.”

“Well?”

“Well; if this Henry of Navarre is with you all night”–

“All night!”

“Yes; will that be a certain proof to you that he is not with any
other?”

“Ah! if you do that, sire,” cried Madame Sauve.

“On the honor of a gentleman I will do it!”

Madame de Sauve raised her great eyes dewy with voluptuous promises and
looked at the king, whose heart was filled with an intoxicating joy.

“And then,” said Henry, “what will you say?”

“I will say,” replied Charlotte, “that your majesty really loves me.”

“_Ventre saint gris_! then you shall say it, baroness, for it is true.”

“But how can you manage it?” murmured Madame de Sauve.

“Oh! by Heaven! baroness, have you not about you some waiting-woman,
some girl whom you can trust?”

“Yes, Dariole is so devoted to me that she would let herself be cut in
pieces for me; she is a real treasure.”

“By Heaven! then say to her that I will make her fortune when I am King
of France, as the astrologers prophesy.”

Charlotte smiled, for even at this period the Gascon reputation of the
Béarnais was already established with respect to his promises.

“Well, then, what do you want Dariole to do?”

“Little for her, a great deal for me. Your apartment is over mine?”

“Yes.”

“Let her wait behind the door. I will knock gently three times; she will
open the door, and you will have the proof that I have promised you.”

Madame de Sauve kept silence for several seconds, and then, as if she
had looked around her to observe if she were overheard, she fastened her
gaze for a moment on the group clustering around the queen mother; brief
as the moment was, it was sufficient for Catharine and her
lady-in-waiting to exchange a look.

“Oh, if I were inclined,” said Madame de Sauve, with a siren’s accent
that would have melted the wax in Ulysses’ ears, “if I were inclined to
make your majesty tell a falsehood”–

“_Ma mie_, try”–

“Ah, _ma foi_! I confess I am tempted to do so.”

“Give in! Women are never so strong as after they are defeated.”

“Sire, I hold you to your promise for Dariole when you shall be King of
France.”

Henry uttered an exclamation of joy.

At the precise moment when this cry escaped the lips of the Béarnais,
the Queen of Navarre was replying to the Duc de Guise:

“_Noctu pro more_–to-night as usual.”

Then Henry turned away from Madame de Sauve as happy as the Duc de Guise
had been when he left Marguerite de Valois.

An hour after the double scene we have just related, King Charles and
the queen mother retired to their apartments. Almost immediately the
rooms began to empty; the galleries exhibited the bases of their marble
columns. The admiral and the Prince de Condé were escorted home by four
hundred Huguenot gentlemen through the middle of the crowd, which hooted
as they passed. Then Henry de Guise, with the Lorraine gentlemen and the
Catholics, left in their turn, greeted by cries of joy and plaudits of
the people.

But Marguerite de Valois, Henry de Navarre, and Madame de Sauve lived in
the Louvre.

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On Love ©
Eye has not seen beauty
As my inner eye;
Ear has not heard yet,-
Nor lips have sated
When love kissed me
Full, and again unask’d.

benny

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