Fiction > Harvard Classics > Victor Hugo > Notre Dame de Paris > Book X > Chapter V
Victor Marie Hugo (1802–1885).  Notre Dame de Paris.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.  1917.
Book X
V. The Closet Where Monsieur Louis of France Recites His Orisons
THE READER perhaps remembers that Quasimodo, a moment before catching sight of the nocturnal band of truands and scrutinizing Paris from the height of his steeple, saw but a single remaining light twinkling at a window in the topmost storey of a grim and lofty building beside the Porte Saint-Antoine. The building was the Bastille, the twinkling light was the taper of Louis XI.   1
  The King had, in fact, been in Paris these two days past, and was to set out again the next day but one for his citadel of Montilz-les-Tours. He made but rare and short visits to his good city of Paris, not feeling himself sufficiently surrounded there by pitfalls, gibbets, and Scottish archers.   2
  That day he had come to sleep at the Bastille. The great chamber, five toises square, which he had at the Louvre, with its splendid chimney-pieces bearing the effigies of twelve great beasts and thirteen great prophets, and his bed, eleven feet by twelve, were little to his taste. He felt lost amid all these grandeurs. The good homely King preferred the Bastille, with a chamber and bed of more modest proportions; besides, the Bastille was stronger than the Louvre.   3
  This chambrette which the King reserved for his own use in the famous prison was spacious enough, nevertheless, and occupied the uppermost storey of a turret forming part of the donjon-keep. It was a circular apartment hung with matting of shining straw, the rafters of the ceiling being decorated with raised fleurs de lis in gilt metal interspaced with colour, and wainscotted with rich carvings sprinkled with metal rosettes and painted a beautiful vivid green made of a mixture of orpiment and fine indigo.   4
  There was but one window, a long pointed one, latticed by iron bars and iron wire, and still further darkened with fine glass painted with the arms of the King and Queen, each pane of which had cost twenty-two sols.   5
  There was also but one entrance, a door of the contemporary style under a flattened arch, furnished inside with a tapestry hanging, and outside with one of those porches of Irish wood—delicate structures of elaborately wrought cabinet-work which still abounded in old mansions a hundred and fifty years ago. “Although they disfigure and encumber the places,” says Sauval in desperation, “our old people will not have them removed, but keep them in spite of everybody.”   6
  Not a single article of the ordinary furniture of a room was to be seen here—neither benches, nor trestles, nor forms; neither common box-stools, nor handsome ones supported by pillars and carved feet at four sols apiece. There was one folding arm-chair only, a very magnificent one, its frame painted with roses on a crimson ground, and the seat of crimson Cordova leather with a quantity of gold-headed nails. The solitary state of this chair testified to the fact that one person alone was entitled to be seated in the room. Beside the chair and close under the window was a table covered by a cloth wrought with figures of birds. On the table was a much-used inkstand, a few sheets of parchment, some pens, and a goblet of chased silver; farther off, a charcoal brasier and a prie-dieu covered with crimson velvet and ornamented with gold bosses. Finally, at the other end of the room, an unpretentious bed of red and yellow damask with no decoration of any sort but a plain fringe. This bed, famous as having borne the sleep or sleeplessness of Louis XI, was still in existence two hundred years ago in the house of a councillor of state, where it was seen by the aged Mme. Pilou, celebrated in Le Grand Cyrus under the name of Arricidie and of La Morale Vivante.   7
  Such was the room known as “the closet where Monsieur Louis of France recites his orisons.”   8
  At the moment at which we have introduced the reader into it, this closet was very dark. Curfew had rung an hour back, night had fallen, and there was but one flickering wax candle on the table to light five persons variously grouped about the room.   9
  The first upon whom the light fell was a gentleman superbly attired in doublet and hose of scarlet slashed with silver and a cloak with puffed shoulder-pieces of cloth of gold figured with black, the whole gorgeous costume appearing to be shot with flames wherever the light played on it. The man who wore it had his heraldic device embroidered in vivid colours on his breast—a chevron and a stag passant, the scutcheon supported by a branch of olive dexter and a stag’s horn sinister. In his girdle he wore a rich dagger, the silver-gilt hilt being wrought in the form of a helmet and surmounted by a count’s coronet. He had a venomous eye, and his manner was haughty and overbearing. At the first glance you were struck by the arrogance of his face, at the second by its craftiness. He stood bareheaded, a long written scroll in his hand, behind the arm-chair in which sat a very shabbily dressed personage in an uncouth attitude, his shoulders stooping, his knees crossed, his elbow on the table. Picture to yourself in that rich Cordovan chair a pair of bent knees, two spindle shanks poorly clad in close-fitting black worsted breeches, the body wrapped in a loose coat of fustian the fur lining of which showed more leather than hair, and to crown the whole, a greasy old hat of mean black felt garnished all round by a string of little leaden figures. This, with the addition of a dirty skull-cap, beneath which hardly a hair was visible, was all that could be seen of the seated personage. His head was bowed so low on his breast that nothing was visible of his deeply shadowed face but the end of his nose, on which a ray of light fell, and which was evidently very long. By his emaciated and wrinkled hands one divined him to be an old man. It was Louis XI.  10
  At some distance behind them, two men habited after the Flemish fashion were conversing in low tones. They were not so completely lost in the gloom but that any one who had attended the performance of Gringoire’s Mystery could recognise them as the two chief Flemish envoys: Guillaume Rym, the sagacious pensionary of Ghent, and Jacques Coppenole, the popular hosier. It will be remembered that these two men were concerned with the secret politics of Louis XI.  11
  And finally, quite in the dim background near the door, there stood, motionless as a statue, a brawny, thick-set man in military accoutrements and an emblazoned coat, whose square, low-browed face with its prominent eyes, immense slit of a mouth, ears concealed beneath two wide flaps of smooth hair, seemed a cross between the bulldog and the tiger.  12
  All were uncovered except the King.  13
  The knightly personage standing behind the King was reading out items from a sort of long memorandum, to which his Majesty appeared to listen attentively. The two Flemings whispered together.  14
  “By the rood!” grumbled Coppenole, “I’m tired of standing. Is there never a chair here?”  15
  Rym replied with a negative gesture, accompanied by a discreet smile.  16
  “Croix-Dieu!” resumed Coppenole, sorely exercised at having to lower his voice, “I am devoured by the desire to plump myself down cross legged on the floor as I do in my own shop.”  17
  “You had best beware of doing so, Maître Jacques,” was the reply.  18
  “Heyday! Maître Guillaume, may a man then be only on his feet here?”  19
  “Or on his knees,” said Rym. At that moment the King raised his voice and they ceased their talking.  20
  “Fifty sols for the gowns of our valets, and twelve livres for the mantles of the crown clerks! That’s the way! Pour out the gold by tons! Are you crazed, Olivier?”  21
  As he spoke the old man raised his head, and you could see the golden shells of the collar of Saint-Michael glittering round his neck. The candle shone full on his fleshless and morose countenance. He snatched the paper from the hands of the other.  22
  “You are ruining us!” he cried, casting his hollow eyes over the schedule. “What’s all this? What need have we of so prodigious a household? Two chaplains at ten livres a month each, and a chapel clerk at a hundred sols! A valet-de-chambre at ninety livres a year! Four kitchen masters at a hundred and sixty livres a year each! A roaster, a soup-dresser, a sauce-dresser, a head cook, an armourer, two sumpter men at the rate of ten livres a month each! Two turn-spits at eight livres! A groom and his two helpers at four and twenty livres a month! A porter, a pastry-cook, a baker, two carters, each at sixty livres a year! And the marshal of forges a hundred and twenty livres! And the master of our exchequer chamber twelve hundred livres! And a comptroller five hundred livres! And God knows what besides! It’s raving madness! The wages of our domestics are simply stripping France bare. All the treasure of the Louvre would melt away before such a blaze of expense! We shall have to sell our plate! And next year, if God and Our Lady (here he raised his hat) grant us life, we shall have to drink our tisanes from a pewter pot!”  23
  At which he glanced at the silver goblet sparkling on the table, coughed, and went on:  24
  “Master Olivier, princes who reign over great realms as kings and superiors should not allow sumptuousness to be engendered in their households, inasmuch as that is a fire which will spread from thence to the provinces. And so, Master Olivier, make no mistake about this. Our expenses increase with every year, and the thing displeases us. Why, pasque-Dieu! up till ’79 it never exceeded thirty-six thousand livres. In ’80 it rose to forty-three thousand six hundred and nineteen livres. I have the figures in my head. In ’8I it was sixty-six thousand six hundred and eighty livres, and this year, faith of my body! it will come to eighty thousand livres. Doubled in four years! Monstrous!”  25
  He stopped to take breath, then resumed with vehemence: “I see none about me but people fattening on my leanness. Ye suck my money from me at every pore!”  26
  All kept silence. It was one of those fits of anger that must be allowed to run their course. He continued his complaints.  27
  “It is the same thing with that Latin memorial from the great lords of France requesting us to re-establish what they call the great offices of the Crown. Offices! call them rather burdens—burdens that crush us to the ground. Ah, messieurs! you tell us we are no King to reign dapifero nullo buticulario nullo! 1 But we will let you see, pasque-Dieu! whether we are a King or no!”  28
  He smiled in the consciousness of his power, his ill-humour was allayed, and he turned to the Flemings:  29
  “Look you, Gossip Guillaume, the grand baker, the grand butler, the grand chamberlain, the seneschal are not worth the meanest valet. Bear this in mind, Gossip Coppenole, they are of no use whatever. Standing thus useless about the King, they put me in mind of the four evangelists that surround the face of the great clock of the palace, and that Philippe Brille has just renovated. They are gilded, but they do not mark the hour, and the clock hand could do excellently well without them.”  30
  He mused for a moment and added, shaking his old head: “He! ho! by Our Lady, I am not Philippe Brille, and I will not regild the great vassals of the crown. Proceed, Olivier.”  31
  The person thus addressed received the schedule-book from his hands and went on reading aloud:  32
  “To Adam Tenon, assistant keeper of the seals of the provostry of Paris, for the silver, workmanship, and engraving of the said seals which have had to be renewed, inasmuch as the former ones, being old and worn out, could no longer be used, twelve livres parisis.  33
  “To Guillaume Frère, the sum of four livres four sols parisis for his wages and trouble in having fed and maintained the pigeons of the two pigeon-houses at the Hôtel des Tournelles during the months of January, February, and March of this year, for the which he has furnished seven setiers of barley.  34
  “To a Franciscan for shriving a criminal, four sols parisis.”  35
  The King listened in silence. From time to time he coughed, and then raised the goblet to his lips and drank a mouthful with a wry face.  36
  “In this year have been made,” continued the reader, “by order of the law, by sound of trumpet, through the streets of Paris, fifty-six public proclamations. Account not yet rendered.  37
  “For search made in divers places in Paris and elsewhere after treasure said to be concealed in the said places, but nothing has been found, forty-five livres parisis.”  38
  “Burying a florin to dig up a sou,” commented the King.  39
  “—For putting in, at the Hôtel des Tournelles, six panes of white glass, at the place where the iron cage stands, thirteen sols. For making and delivering on the day of the mustering of the troops, four escutcheons bearing the arms of our said lord, wreathed round with chaplets of roses, six livres. A pair of new sleeves to the King’s old doublet, twenty sols. A pot of grease to grease the King’s boots, fifteen deniers. A new sty for lodging the King’s black swine, thirty livres parisis. Several partitions, planks, and trap-doors, for the safe-keeping of the lions at the Hôtel Saint-Paul, twenty-two livres.”  40
  “Costly beasts, these,” said Louis XI. “But no matter, it is a magnificence befitting a King. There is a great tawny lion that I love for his engaging ways. Have you seen him, Maître Guillaume? It is fitting that princes should keep these marvellous animals. For dogs, we kings should have lions; and for cats, tigers. The great beseems a crown. In the days of the pagan worshippers of Jupiter, when the people offered a hundred bullocks and a hundred sheep in the churches, the emperors gave a hundred lions and a hundred eagles. That was very fierce and noble. The kings of France have always had these roarings around their throne. Nevertheless, to do me justice, it must be admitted that I spend less in that way than my predecessors, and that I am less ostentatious in the matter of lions, bears, elephants, and leopards,—Continue, Maître Olivier. This was for the benefit of our friends, the Flemings.”  41
  Guillaume Rym bowed low, while Coppenole, with his surly face, looked much like one of the bears of whom his Majesty had spoken. The King paid on attention: he had just taken a sip from the goblet, and was spitting out the beverage again with a “Faugh! the nasty stuff!”  42
  The reader went on: “For the food of a rogue and vagabond kept locked up for the last six months in the cell at the Skinners’ yard until it should be known what was to be done with him, six livres four sols.”  43
  “What’s that?” interrupted the King. “Feeding what ought to be hanged! Pasque-Dicu! I’ll not give another sol for that food. Olivier, arrange this matter with M. d’Estouteville, and see to it that this very night preparations are made to unite this gallant with the gallows. Go on.”  44
  Olivier made a mark with his thumb-nail against the item rogue and vagabond, and proceeded:  45
  “To Henriet Cousin, chief executioner at the Justice of Paris, the sum of sixty sols parisis, to him adjudged and accorded by the Lord Provost of Paris for having purchased, by order of the said Lord Provost, a great broad-bladed sword, to be used for executing and decapitating the persons condemned by law for their delinquencies, and having it furnished with a scabbard and all necessary appurtenances; and similarly for the repair and putting in order of the old sword, which had been splintered and notched in executing justice on Messire Louis of Luxembourg, as can be plainly shown.”  46
  The King broke in: “Enough! I give order for that sum with all my heart. These are expenses I do not look at twice. I have never regretted that money. Proceed.”  47
  “For constructing a new cage——”  48
  “Ah!” said the King, grasping the arms of his chair, “I knew I had come to the Bastille for something special. Stop, Master Olivier, I will see that cage myself. You shall read over the cost of it to me while I examine it. Messieurs the Flemings, you must come and see this; it is curious.”  49
  He rose to his feet, leaned on the arm of his interlocutor, signed to the sort of mute standing beside the door to precede them, to the two Flemings to follow, and left the chamber.  50
  The King’s cortège was recruited at the door by a party of men-at-arms ponderous with steel, and slim pages carrying torches. It proceeded for some time through the interior of the grim donjon-keep, perforated by flights of stairs and corridors even to the thickness of the walls. The captain of the Bastille walked at its head, and directed the opening of the successive narrow doors before the bent and decrepit King, who coughed as he walked along.  51
  At each door every head was obliged to stoop, except that of the old man already bent with age. “Hum!” said he between his gums, for he had no teeth; “we are in excellent trim for the gate of the sepulchre. A low door needs a stooping passenger.”  52
  At length, after passing through the last door of all, so encumbered with complicated locks that it took a quarter of an hour to get them all open, they entered a lofty and spacious Gothic hall, in the centre of which they could discern by the light of the torches a great square mass of masonry, iron, and wood-work. The interior was hollow. It was one of those famous cages for state prisoners familiarly known as “Fillettes du roi”—little daughters of the King. There were two or three small windows in its walls, but so closely grated with massive iron bars that no glass was visible. The door consisted of a huge single slab of stone, like that of a tomb—one of those doors that serve for entrance alone. Only here, the dead was alive.  53
  The King began pacing slowly round this small edifice, examining it with care, while Maître Olivier, who followed him, read aloud the items of the account:  54
  “For making a great wooden cage of heavy beams, joists, and rafters, measuring nine feet in length and eight in breadth, and seven feet high between roof and floor, mortised and bolted with great iron bolts; which has been placed in a certain chamber situated in one of the towers of the Bastille Saint-Antoine; in the which said cage is put and kept by command of our lord the King a prisoner, who before inhabited an old, decayed, and unserviceable cage. Used in the building of the said new cage, ninety-six horizontal beams and fifty-two perpendicular, ten joists, each three toises long. Employed in squaring, planing, and fitting the same woodwork in the yard of the Bastille, nineteen carpenters for twenty days——”  55
  “Fine solid timber, that!” remarked the King, rapping his knuckles on the wood.  56
  “Used in this cage,” continued the other, “two hundred and twenty great iron bolts nine feet and eight feet long, the rest of medium length, together with the plates and nuts for fastening the said bolts; the said iron weighing in all three thousand seven hundred and thirty-five pounds; besides eight heavy iron clamps for fixing the said cage in its place, altogether two hundred and eighteen pounds; without reckoning the iron of the grating to the windows of the chamber and other items——”  57
  “Here’s a deal of iron to restrain the levity of a spirit!”  58
  “—The whole amounts to three hundred and seventeen livres, five sols, seven deniers.”  59
  “Pasque-Dieu!” exclaimed the King. This oath, which was the favourite one of Louis XI, apparently aroused some one inside the cage; there was sound of clanking chains being dragged across its floor, and a feeble voice that seemed to issue from the tomb, wailed: “Sire! Sire, mercy!” The speaker was not visible.  60
  “Three hundred and seventeen livres, five sols, seven deniers!” repeated Louis XI.  61
  The voice of lamentation which had issued from the cage chilled the blood of all present, even Maître Olivier. The King alone gave no evidence of having heard it. At this command Olivier resumed his reading, and his Majesty coolly continued his inspection of the cage.  62
  “Besides the above, there has been paid to a mason, for making the holes to fix the window-grating and the flooring of the chamber containing the cage, forasmuch as the floor would not otherwise have supported the said cage by reason of its weight—twenty-seven livres, fourteen sols parisis——”  63
  The voice began its wailing again. “Mercy, Sire! I swear to you it was Monsieur the Cardinal of Angers who committed the treason—not I!”  64
  “The mason’s charge is exorbitant!” said the King. “Go on, Olivier.”  65
  Olivier went on: “To a joiner for window-frames, bedstead, closet-stool, and other things—twenty livres, two sols parisis——”  66
  The voice also went on: “Woe is me, Sire! will you not hear me? I protest it was not I who wrote that to the Duke of Guyenne, but Monsieur the Cardinal Balue!”  67
  “The joiner is dear,” observed the King. “Is that all?”  68
  “No, Sire. To a glazier for the windows of the said chamber, forty-six sols, eight deniers parisis.”  69
  “Have mercy, Sire!” cried the voice again. “It is not enough that all my possessions have been given to my judges—my table service to M. de Torcy, my library to Maître Pierre Doriolle, my tapestries to the Governor of Roussillon? I am innocent. Lo, these fourteen years have I shivered in an iron cage. Have mercy, Sire! and you shall find it in heaven!”  70
  “Maître Olivier,” said the King, “the total?”  71
  “Three hundred and sixty-seven livres, eight sols, three deniers parisis——”  72
  “Notre Dame!” cried the King. “’Tis an outrageous cage!”  73
  He snatched the paper from Olivier’s hand, and began to reckon it up himself on his fingers, examining the schedule and the cage by turns—while the prisoner was heard sobbing within it. It was a dismal scene in the darkness, and the bystanders paled as they looked at one another.  74
  “Fourteen years, Sire! It is fourteen years—since April, 1469. I conjure you in the name of the Holy Mother of God, listen to me, Sire! During all those years you have enjoyed the warmth of the sun; shall I, feeble wretch that I am, never see the light of day again? Mercy, Sire! Show mercy! Clemency is a noble virtue in a King, and turns aside the current of the wrath to come. Think you, your Majesty, that at the hour of death it will be a great satisfaction to a King to know that he has never let an offence go unpunished? Moreover, I never betrayed your Majesty—it was Monsieur of Angers. And I have a very heavy chain on my foot with a huge iron ball attached to it—far heavier than there is any need for. Oh, Sire, have pity on me!”  75
  “Olivier,” said the King, shaking his head, “I observe that they charge me the bushel of plaster at twenty sols, though it is only worth twelve. You will draw up this memorandum afresh.”  76
  He turned his back on the cage, and began to move towards the door of the chamber. The wretched prisoner judged by the withdrawal of the torchlight and by the sounds that the King was preparing to depart.  77
  “Sire! Sire!” he cried in anguish.  78
  The door closed. He saw nothing more, and heard nothing but the raucous voice of the turnkey singing close by:
        “Maître Jean Balue
Has lost from view
  His bishoprics all.
Monsieur de Verdun
Has now not got one;
  They’re gone, one and all.”
  The King returned in silence to his closet, followed by his train, all horror-struck at the last bitter cry of the prisoner. Suddenly his Majesty turned to the Governor of the Bastille.  80
  “By-the-bye,” said he, “was there not some one in that cage?”  81
  “Pardieu! yes, Sire!” answered the governor, dumfounded by the question.  82
  “And who?”  83
  “Monsieur the Bishop of Verdun.”  84
  The King knew that better than any one, but it was a way he had.  85
  “Ah,” said he blandly, with the air of remembering it for the first time, “Guillaume de Harancourt, the friend of Monsieur the Cardinal Balue. A good fellow of a bishop!”  86
  A few minutes later, the door of the closet had opened and closed again on the five persons whom the reader found there at the beginning of this chapter, and who had severally resumed their places, their attitudes, and their whispered conversation.  87
  During the King’s absence some despatches had been laid upon the table, of which he himself broke the seal. He then began reading them attentively one after another, motioned to Maître Olivier, who seemed to fill the post of minister to him, to take a pen, and without imparting to him the contents of the despatches, began in a low voice to dictate to him the answers, which the latter wrote kneeling uncomfortably at the table.  88
  Guillaume Rym watched them.  89
  The King spoke so low that the Flemings could hear nothing of what he was dictating, except here and there a few isolated and scarcely intelligible fragments, such as: “Maintain the fertile tracts by commerce and the sterile ones by manufactures.—Show my lords the English our four bombards: the Londres, the Brabant, the Bourg-en-Bresse, the Saint-Omer.—It is owing to artillery that war is now more reasonably carried on.—To Monsieur de Bressuire, our friend.—Armies cannot be maintained without contributions,” etc.  90
  Once he raised his voice. “Pasque-Dieu! Monsieur the King of Sicily seals his letters with yellow wax like a King of France! Perhaps we do wrong to permit this. My good cousin of Burgundy accorded no arms of a field gules. The greatness of house is secured by upholding the integrity of its prerogatives. Note that down, friend Olivier.”  91
  Another time: “Oh, oh!” said he, “a big missive! What does our friend the Emperor demand of us now?” Then, running his eye over the despatch and interrupting the perusal now and again with brief interjections: “Certes, Germany is getting so grand and mighty it is scarcely credible. But we do not forget the old proverb: ‘The finest country is Flanders; the finest duchy, Milan; the finest kingdom, France.’ Is that not so, Messieurs the Flemings?”  92
  This time Coppenole bowed as well as Guillaume Rym. The hosier’s patriotism was tickled.  93
  The last of the batch made Louis XI knit his brows. “What have we here?” he exclaimed. “Complaints and petitions against our garrisons in Picardy! Olivier, write with all speed to Monsieur the Marshal de Rouault: That discipline is relaxed; that the men-at-arms, the nobles, the free archers, and the Swiss are doing infinite mischief to the inhabitants; that the military, not content with the good things they find in the dwellings of the husbandmen, must needs compel them with heavy blows of staves or bills to fetch them from the town wine, fish, spices, and other superfluous articles; that the King knows all this; that we mean to protect our people from annoyance, theft, and pillage; that such is our will, by Our Lady! That, furthermore, it does not please us that any musician, barber, or man-at-arms whatsoever, should go clad like a prince in velvet, silk, and gold rings; that such vanities are hateful to God; that we, who are a gentleman, content ourselves with a doublet of cloth at sixteen sols parisis the ell; that messieurs the varlets may very well come down to that price likewise. Convey and command this—To M. de Rouault, our friend.—Good.”  94
  He dictated this letter in a loud voice with a firm tone, and in short, abrupt sentences. As he spoke the last word, the door flew open and admitted a fresh person, who rushed into the chamber in breathless agitation, crying:  95
  “Sire! Sire! there is a rising of the populace of Paris!”  96
  The King’s grave face contracted, but such emotion as he displayed passed like a flash. He controlled himself. “Compere Jacques,” he said in a tone and with a look of quiet severity, “you enter very abruptly.”  97
  “Sire! Sire! there is a revolt!” gasped Maître Jacques.  98
  Louis, who had risen from his seat, seized him roughly by the arm, and in a tone of concentrated anger and a sidelong glance at the Flemings, said in his ear so as to be heard by him alone: “Hold thy peace, or speak low!”  99
  The newcomer grasped the situation and proceeded to tell his news in a terrified whisper, the King listening unmoved, while Guillaume Rym directed Coppenole’s attention to the messenger’s face and dress, his furred hood (caputia forrata), his short cloak (epitogia curta), his gown of black velvet, which proclaimed him a president of the Court of Accompts. 100
  Scarcely had this person given the King a few details, when Louis exclaimed in a burst of laughter: “Nay, in good sooth, speak up, Compere Coictier. What need to whisper thus? Our Lady knows we no secrets from our good Flemish friends.” 101
  “But, Sire——” 102
  “Speak up!” said the King. 103
  Compêre Coictier stood in mute surprise. 104
  “So,” resumed the King—“speak out, monsieur. So there is a rising of the populace in our good city of Paris?” 105
  “Yes, Sire.” 106
  “Which is directed, you tell me, against Monsieur the Provost of the Palais de Justice?” 107
  “It would seem so,” replied the man, who still found his words with difficulty, so confounded was he by the sudden and inexplicable change in the King’s manner. 108
  “Where did the watch encounter the mob?” asked Louis.  109
  “Advancing from the Great Truanderie towards the Pont-aux-Changeurs. I met it myself on my way here in obedience to your Majesty’s orders. I heard some of them cry, ‘Down with the Provost of the Palais!”’ 110
  “And what is their grievance against the provost?” 111
  “Oh,” said Jacques, “that he is their liege lord.” 112
  “In truth?” 113
  “Yes, Sire. They are rascals from the Court of Miracles. They have long been complaining of the provost whose vassals they are. They will not acknowledge him either as justiciary or as lord of the highway.” 114
  “So, so!” retorted the King, with a smile of satisfaction which he strove in vain to conceal. 115
  “In all their petitions to the Parliament,” continued Compere Jacques, “they claim to have only two masters—your Majesty and their God; who is, I believe, the devil.” 116
  “He, he!” chuckled the King, rubbing his hands with that internal laugh which irradiates the countenance. He could not disguise his delight, though he made a momentary effort to compose himself. No one had the least idea what it meant, not even Olivier. He remained silent for a moment, but with a thoughtful and satisfied air. 117
  “Are they in force?” he asked suddenly. 118
  “They are indeed, Sire,” replied Coictier. 119
  “How many?” 120
  “Six thousand at the very least.” 121
  The King could not repress a pleased “Good!—Are they armed?” he went on. 122
  “With scythes, pikes, hackbuts, pickaxes—every description of violent weapon.” 123
  The King seemed in nowise disturbed by this alarming list. Compere Jacques thought it advisable to add: “If your Majesty sends not speedy succour to the provost, he is lost!” 124
  “We will send,” said the King with simulated earnestness. “Good! we will certainly send. Monsieur the Provost is our friend. Six thousand! These are determined rogues! Their boldness is extraordinary, and we are highly incensed thereat. But we have few men about us to-night. It will be time enough to-morrow morning.” 125
  Coictier gave a cry. “This moment, Sire! They would have time to sack the court-house twenty times over, storm the manor, and hang the provost himself. For God’s sake, Sire, send before to-morrow morning!” 126
  The King looked him full in the face. “I said to-morrow morning.” It was one of those looks to which there is no reply. 127
  After a pause, Louis again raised his voice. “My good Jacques, you should know that— What did—” he corrected himself—“what does the feudal jurisdiction of the provost comprise?” 128
  “Sire, the Rue de la Calandre as far as the Rue de l’Herberie, the Place Saint-Michel and places commonly called Les Mureaux situated near the Church of Notre Dame des Champs,”—here the King lifted the brim of his hat—“which mansions are thirteen in number; further the Court of Miracles, further the Lazaretto called the Banlieue, further the whole of the high-road beginning at the Lazaretto and ending at the Porte Saint-Jacques. Of these several places he is reeve of the ways, chief, mean, and inferior justiciary, full and absolute lord.” 129
  “So, ho!” said the King, scratching his left ear with his right hand, “that comprises a good slice of my town! Ah, Monsieur the Provost was king of all this!” 130
  This time he did not correct himself. He continued cogitating and as if talking to himself: “Softly, Monsieur the Provost, you had a very pretty piece of our Paris!” 131
  Suddenly he burst out: “Pasque-Dieu! what are all these people that claim to be highway-reeves, justiciaries, lords and masters along with us! that have their toll-gates at the corner of every field, their gibbet and their executioner at every crossway among our people, so that, as the Greek thought he had as many gods as he had springs of water, the Persian as many as the stars he saw, the Frenchman reckons as many kings as he sees gibbets. Pardieu! this thing is evil, and the confusion of it incenses me! I would know if it be God’s pleasure that there should be in Paris any keepers of the highways but the King, any justiciary but our Parliament, any emperor but ourself in this empire? By my soul, but the day must come when there shall be in France but one king, one lord, one judge, one headsman, just as in paradise there is but one God!” 132
  He lifted his cap again and went on, still deep in his own thoughts, with the look and tone of a huntsman uncoupling and cheering on his pack: 133
  “Good, my people! Well done! Pull down these false lords! Do your work! At them! At them! Pillage, hang, sack them! Ah, you would be kings, my lords! At them! my people, at them!” 134
  He stopped himself abruptly, bit his lips as if to regain possession of his escaping thoughts, bent his piercing eye in turn on each of the five persons around him, and suddenly taking his hat in both hands and regarding it steadfastly, he exclaimed: “Oh, I would burn thee, didst thou know what I have in my head!” 135
  Then casting around him the alert and suspicious glance of a fox stealing back to his hole—“No matter,” he said, “we will send help to Monsieur the Provost. Most unfortunately we have very few troops here at this moment to send against such a mob. We must wait till to-morrow. Order shall then be restored in the city, and all who are taken shall be promptly hanged.” 136
  “That reminds me, Sire,” said Coictier, “I forgot in my first perturbation, the watch have seized two stragglers of the band. If your Majesty pleases to see these men, they are here.” 137
  “If it be my pleasure!” cried the King. “What Pasque-Dieu! canst thou forget such a thing? Run quick. Olivier, do thou go and bring them here.” 138
  Maître Olivier went out and returned immediately with the two prisoners, surrounded by archers of the body-guard. The first of the two had a wild, imbecile face, drunken and wonder-struck. He was clad in rags and walked with one knee bent and dragging his foot. The other presented a pale and smiling countenance, with which the reader is already acquainted. 139
  The King scrutinized them a moment without speaking, then abruptly addressed the first prisoner: 140
  “What is thy name?” 141
  “Gieffroy Pincebourde.” 142
  “Thy trade?” 143
  “Truand.” 144
  “What wast thou doing in that damnable riot?” 145
  The truand gazed at the King, swinging his arms the while with an air of sottish stupidity. His was one of those uncouth heads in which the intellect is about as much at its ease as a light under an extinguisher. 146
  “Were you not going to outrageously attack and plunder your lord the Provost of the Palais?” 147
  “I know they were going to take something from somebody, but that’s all.” 148
  A soldier showed the King a pruning-hook which had been found on the truand. 149
  “Dost thou recognise this weapon?” demanded the King. 150
  “Yes, ’tis my pruning-hook. I am a vine-dresser.” 151
  “And dost thou know this man for thy companion?” added Louis, pointing to the other prisoner. 152
  “No, I do not know him.” 153
  “That will do,” said the King; and motioning to the silent figure standing impassively at the door, whom we have already pointed out to the reader: “Compere Tristan,” he said, “here’s a man for you.” 154
  Tristan l’Hermite bowed, then whispered an order to a couple of archers. who carried off the unlucky truand. 155
  Meanwhile the King had addressed himself to the other prisoner, who was perspiring profusely: “Thy name?” 156
  “Pierre Gringoire, Sire.” 157
  “Thy trade?” 158
  “Philosopher, Sire.” 159
  “How comes it, rascal, that thou hast the presumption to go and beset our friend Monsieur the Provost of the Palais, and what hast thou to say with regard to this rising of the populace?” 160
  “Sire, I was not in it.” 161
  “Go to, ribald; wast thou not taken by the watch in that bad company?” 162
  “No, Sire, there is a misapprehension; ’tis an unlucky mischance. I am a maker of tragedies, Sire. I beseech your Majesty to hear me. I am a poet. It is the craze of men of my profession to go about the streets at night. I was passing by, this evening; ’twas a mere chance. They took me without reason. I am innocent of this civil disturbance. Your Majesty sees that the truand did not know me. I conjure your Majesty——” 163
  “Hold thy tongue!” said the King, between two sips of his tisane; “thou wilt split our head.” 164
  Tristan l’Hermite approached, and pointing to Gringoire: “Sire, shall we hang this one at the same time?” 165
  It was the first word he had spoken. “Bah!” returned the King carelessly, “I see no objection.” 166
  “But I do—a great many,” said Gringoire. 167
  Our philosopher’s countenance at this moment rivalled the hue of the olive. He saw by the cold and indifferent air of the King that he had no resource but in something excessively pathetic. He therefore threw himself at the feet of Louis XI, and, with gestures of despair, cried: 168
  “Sire, will your Majesty deign to listen to me? Sire, break not forth in thunders against so poor a thing as I—the bolts of God strike not the lowly lettuce. Sire, you are an august and mighty monarch; have pity on a poor honest man who would be more incapable of inflaming a revolt than an icicle of producing a spark. Most gracious Sire, magnanimity is the virtue of the lion and of the King. Alas! severity does but exasperate the spirit; the fierce blast of the north wind will not make the traveller lay aside his mantle, but the sun’s gentle rays, warming him little by little, cause him at last to strip himself gladly to his shirt. Sire, you are the sun. I protest to you, my sovereign lord and master, that I am no disorderly companion of truands and thieves. Revolt and brigandage go not in the train of Apollo. I am no man to throw myself headlong into those clouds that burst in thunders of sedition. I am a faithful vassal of your Majesty. The same jealousy which the husband has for his wife’s honour, the affection with which the son should requite his father’s love, a good vassal should feel for the glory of his King, should wear himself out for the upholding of his house, for the furtherance of his service. All other passions that might possess him were mere frenzy. These, Sire, are my maxims of state. Therefore judge me not as sedition-monger and pillager because my coat is out at elbows. Show me mercy, Sire, and I will wear out my knees in praying God for you day and night. Alas! I am not extremely rich, it is true—rather, I am somewhat poor; but for all that, I am not vicious. It is not my fault. Every one knows that great wealth is not to be acquired from belles-letters, and that the most accomplished writers have not always a great fire to warm them in winter. The advocates alone take all the grain, and leave nothing but the chaff for the other learned professions. There are forty very excellent proverbs upon the philosopher’s threadbare coat. Oh, Sire, clemency is the only light that can illumine the interior of a great soul. Clemency bears the torch before all the other virtues. Without her they are blind, groping for God in the darkness. Mercy, which is the same as clemency, produces loving subjects—the most powerful body-guard that can surround a prince. What can it signify to your Majesty, by whom all faces are dazzled, that there should be one more poor man upon earth—a poor, innocent philosopher crawling about in the slough of calamity, his empty purse flapping upon his empty stomach? Besides, Sire, I am a man of letters. Great kings add a jewel to their crown by patronizing learning. Hercules did not disdain the title of Musagetes—leader of the Muses. Mathias Corvinus showed favour to Jean de Monroyal, the ornament of mathematics. Now ’tis an ill way of patronizing letters to hang the lettered. What a stain on Alexander had he hanged Aristotle! The act would not have been a beauty-spot upon the cheek of his reputation to embellish it, but a virulent ulcer disfiguring it. Sire, I wrote a very appropriate epithalamium for Made moiselle of Flanders and Monsieur the most august Dauphin. That was not like a fire-brand of rebellion. Your Majesty can see that I am no dunce; that I have studied excellently, and that I have much natural eloquence. Grant me mercy, Sire! By so doing, you will perform an action agreeable to Our Lady, and I do assure you, Sire, that I am greatly frightened at the thought of being hanged!” 169
  So saying, the desperate Gringoire kissed the King’s shoe, whereat Guillaume Rym murmured low to Coppenole: “He does well to crawl upon the floor. Kings are like the Cretan Jupiter—they have ears on their feet only.” And Coppenole, unmoved by the peculiar attributes of the Cretan Jupiter, answered with a slow smile and his eye fixed on Gringoire: “Ah, that’s good! I could fancy I hear the Chancellor Hugonet begging mercy of me?” 170
  When Gringoire stopped at length, out of breath, he raised his head tremulously to the King, who was engaged in scratching off a spot on his breeches’ knee with his fingernail, after which his Majesty took another mouthful from the goblet. But he said never a word, and his silence kept Gringoire on the rack. At last the King looked at him. 171
  “Here’s a terrible babbler!” said he. Then turning to Tristan l’Hermite: “Bah! let him go!” 172
  Gringoire, giddy with joy, suddenly sat flat on the floor. 173
  “Free?” growled Tristan. “Your Majesty will not even have him caged for a while?” 174
  “Compère,” returned Louis XI, “dost thou think it is for birds like this we have cages made at three hundred and seventy-seven livres, eight sols, three deniers apiece? Set him at liberty, the rascal, and send him off with a drubbing.” 175
  “Ouf!” cried Gringoire; “here indeed is a great King!” 176
  And, fearing a counter-order, he hurried to the door, which Tristan opened for him with a very bad grace. The soldiers went out with him, driving him before them with great blows of their fists, which Gringoire bore like a true Stoic. 177
  The good humour of the King, since the revolt against the provost had been announced to him, manifested itself at every point, and this unusual clemency was no insignificant sign of it. Tristan l’Hermite in his corner looked as surly as a dog that has seen much but got nothing. 178
  Meanwhile the King was gaily drumming the Pont Audemer march on the arms of his chair. He was a dissembling prince, but he was much better able to conceal his sorrow than his joys. These outward and visible signs of rejoicing at good news sometimes carried him great lengths—thus at the death of Charles the Bold, to vowing balustrades of silver to Saint-Martin of Tours; on his accession to the throne, of forgetting to give orders for his father’s obsequies. 179
  “Hah, Sire!” suddenly exclaimed Jacques Coictier, “what of the sharp attack of illness for which your Majesty sent for me?” 180
  “Oh,” said the King, “truly I suffer greatly, Gossip Jacques. I have singings in the ear, and teeth of fire that rake my chest.” 181
  Coictier took the King’s hand and felt his pulse with a professional air. 182
  “Look at him now, Coppenole,” said Rym in a low voice. “There he is between Coictier and Tristan. That is his whole court—a physician for himself, a hangman for the others.” 183
  As he felt the King’s pulse, Coictier assumed a look of great alarm. Louis regarded him with some anxiety, while the physician’s countenance waxed gloomier every instant. The good man had no other means of subsistence but the King’s bad health; he accordingly made the most of it. 184
  “Oh, oh!” he muttered at last, “this is indeed serious.” 185
  “Yes, is it not?” said the King, anxiously. 186
  “Pulsus creber, anhelans, crepitans, irregularis,” 2 continued the physician. 187
  “Pasque-Dieu!” exclaimed his Majesty. 188
  “This might carry off a man in less than three days.” 189
  “Notre Dame!” cried the King. “And the remedy, Gossip?” 190
  “I am thinking of one, Sire.” 191
  He made Louis put out his tongue; then shook his head, pulled a long face, and in the midst of these antics—“Pardieu! Sire,” he remarked suddenly, “I must inform you that there is a receivership of episcopal revenues vacant, and that I have a nephew.” 192
  “I give the receivership to thy nephew, Gossip Jacques; but take this fire from my breast.” 193
  “Since your Majesty is so gracious,” the physician went on, “you will not refuse to assist me a little towards the building of my house in the Rue Saint-Andry des Arcs?” 194
  “H’m!” said the King. 195
  “I am at the end of my money,” continued the doctor, “and it would indeed be a pity that the house should be left without a roof—not for the sake of the house itself, which is plain and homely, but for the paintings of Jehan Fourbault which adorn the wainscoting. There is a Diana among them, flying in the air; but so excellently limned, so tender, so delicate, the attitude so artless, the hair so admirably arranged and crowned by a crescent, the flesh so white, that she leads those into temptation who regard her too closely. Then there is also another, a Ceres—another most admirable divinity—seated on sheaves of corn, and crowned with a garland of wheat-ears intertwined with salsify and other flowers. Never were more amorous eyes, or shapelier limbs, or a nobler mien, or more graceful folds of drapery. It is one of the most innocent and perfect beauties that ever brush produced.” 196
  “Tormentor!” growled Louis, “to what does all this tend?” 197
  “I require a roof over these paintings, Sire, and, although it be but a trifle, I have no money left.” 198
  “What will it cost, this roof of thine?” 199
  “Oh, well; a roof of copper-gilt and with mythological figures, two thousand livres at most.” 200
  “Ha! the assassin!” screamed the King. “He never draws me a tooth but he makes a diamond out of it!” 201
  “Am I to have my roof?” said Coictier. 202
  “Yes!—and go to the devil; but cure me first.” 203
  Jacques Coictier made a profound obeisance and said: “Sire, it is a repellant that will save you. We shall apply to your loins the great deterrent composed of cerade, clay of Armenia, white of egg, oil, and vinegar. You will continue the tisane, and we will answer for your Majesty’s safety.” 204
  A lighted candle never attracts one gnat only. Master Olivier, seeing the King in so liberal a mood, and judging the moment propitious, approached in his turn. 205
  “Sire——” 206
  “What do you want now?” asked Louis. 207
  “Sire, your Majesty is aware that Simon Radin is dead.” 208
  “Well?” 209
  “He was King’s Councillor to the Court of Treasury.” 210
  “Well?” 211
  “Sire, his post is vacant.” 212
  As he spoke, Maître Olivier’s overbearing countenance changed its arrogance for cringing—the only alternation on the face of a courtier. The King looked him very straight in the face and answered dryly, “I understand.” 213
  “Maître Olivier,” he went on, “the Marshal de Boucicaut says: ‘There is no good gift but from the King; there is no good fishing but in the sea.’ I see you share Monsieur de Boucicaut’s opinion. Now harken to this—we have a good memory. In ’68 we made you a groom of the chamber; in ’69, warder of the fort on the bridge of Saint-Cloud, with a salary of a hundred livres tournois (you wanted it parisis). In November, ’73, by letters patent given at Gergeole, we appointed you ranger of the forest of Vincennes in place of Gilbert Acle, squire; in ’75, warden of the forest of Rouvraylez-Saint-Cloud, in place of Jacques le Maire; in ’78, we graciously settled upon you, by letters patent sealed with a double seal of green wax, an annuity of ten livres parisis, for yourself and your spouse, chargeable on the place aux Marchands, near the School of Saint-Germain; in ’79, we made you warden of the forest of Senard, in the place of poor Jehan Diaz; then captain of the Castle of Loches; then Governor of Saint-Quentin; then captain of the Bridge of Meulan, of which you had yourself called count. Of the five sols fine paid by every barber who shaves on a holiday, you get three—and we get what you leave. We were pleased to change your surname of Le Mauvais as being too expressive of your mien. In ’74, we granted you, to the great umbrage of our nobility, armorial bearings of many colours, which enables you to display a peacock breast. Pasque-Dieu! are you not surfeited? Is not the draught of fishes abundant and miraculous enough? Are you not afraid that one salmon more will sink your boat? Pride will be your ruin, my Gossip. Ruin and shame tread ever close upon the heels of pride. Remember that, and keep still.” 214
  These words, pronounced with severity, brought back the insolence to Olivier’s face. 215
  “Good!” he muttered almost aloud; “’tis evident the King is sick to-day, for he gives all to the physician.” 216
  Far from taking offence at this piece of effrontery, Louis resumed in a milder tone: “Stay, I had forgotten too that I made you my ambassador at Ghent to Mme. Marie. Yes, gentlemen,” he added, addressing himself to the Flemings, “this man has been an ambassador. There, there, Gossip,” turning to Olivier, “let us not fall out—we are old friends. It is getting late. We have finished our business—shave me.” 217
  The reader has doubtless already recognised in Maître Olivier the terrible Figaro whose part Providence—that master playwright—wove so skilfully into the long and sanguinary drama of Louis XI. We shall not attempt here to describe that baleful character. This barber to the King had three names. At Court they addressed him politely as Olivier le Daim; among the people he was Olivier le Diable. His real name was Olivier le Mauvais—the Miscreant. 218
  Olivier le Mauvais stood unmoved, sulking at the King, scowling at Jacques Coictier. 219
  “Yes, yes! the physician!” he muttered between his teeth. 220
  “Quite so; the physician!” repeated Louis with unwonted affability; “the physician has yet more influence than thy self. The reason is not far to seek—he has hold over our entire body; thou only of our chin. Come, come, my poor barber, all will be well. Now, Gossip, perform thy office, and shave me; go fetch what is needful.” 221
  Olivier, seeing that the King was determined to take the matter as a jest, and that it was useless even to try to provoke him, went out grumbling to execute his orders. 222
  The King rose and went to the window. Suddenly he threw it open with extraordinary excitement: 223
  “Oh, yes!” he exclaimed, clapping his hands, “there’s a glare in the sky over the city. It is the Provost of the Palais burning; it can be nothing else. Ha! my good people, so ye aid me at last in the overthrow of the feudal lords! Gentlemen,” and he turned to the Flemings, “come and look at this. Is that not the red glare of a conflagration?” 224
  The two Flemings approached. 225
  “A great fire,” said Guillaume Rym. 226
  “Oh!” added Coppenole, his face lighting up suddenly, “that reminds me of the burning of the Seigneur d’Hymbercourt’s house. There must be a big revolt over there.” 227
  “Think you so, Maître Coppenole?” and Louis’s face beamed even brighter than the hosier’s. “Do you not think it will be difficult to check?” 228
  “Croix-Dieu! Sire, it may cost your Majesty many a company of soldiers!” 229
  “Ah—cost me—that’s different,” rejoined the King. “If I choose——” 230
  “If this revolt be what I suppose,” continued the hosier boldly, “you will have no choice in the matter, Sire.” 231
  “My friend,” said Louis XI, “two companies of my bodyguard, and the discharge of a serpentine, are amply sufficient to put a mob of common people to the rout.” 232
  Regardless of the signs Guillaume Rym was making to him, the hosier seemed bent upon contesting the matter with the King. “Sire,” said he, “the Swiss were common people too. Monsieur the Duke of Burgundy was a great seigneur, and held the canaille of no account. At the battle of Granson, Sire, he shouted: ‘Cannoneers, fire upon these churls!’ and he swore by Saint-George. But the syndic Scharnachtal rushed upon the fine duke with his clubs and his men, and at the shock of the peasants with their bull-hides, the glittering Burgundian army was shattered like a pane of glass by a stone. There was many a knight killed there by the base-born churls, and Monsieur de Château-Guyon, the greatest lord in Burgundy, was found dead, with his great gray charger, in a little boggy field.” 233
  “Friend,” returned the King, “you are speaking of a battle. This is but a riot, and I can put an end to it the moment I choose to lift a finger.” 234
  To which the other replied unconcernedly, “That may be, Sire; but in that case, the hour of the people has not yet come.” 235
  Guillaume Rym thought it time to interfere. “Maître Coppenole, you are talking to a great King.” 236
  “I know it,” answered the hosier gravely. 237
  “Let him speak his mind, friend Rym,” said the King. “I like this plain speaking. My father, Charles VII, used to say that truth was sick For my part, I thought she was dead and had found no confessor. Maître Coppenole shows me I am mistaken.” Then, laying his hand on Maître Coppenole’s shoulder: “You were saying, Maître Jacques——” 238
  “I said, Sire, that may-be you were right; that the people’s hour is not yet come with you.” 239
  Louis XI looked at him with his penetrating gaze. “And when will that hour come, Maître?” 240
  “You will hear it strike.” 241
  “By what clock, prithee?” 242
  Coppenole, with his quiet and homely self-possession, signed to the King to approach the window. “Listen, Sire! There is here a donjon-keep, a bell-tower, cannon, townsfolk, soldiers. When the tocsin sounds, when the cannons roar, when, with great clamour, the fortress walls are shattered, when citizens and soldiers shout and kill each other—then the hour will strike.” 243
  Louis’s face clouded and he seemed to muse. He was silent for a moment, then, clapping his hand gently against the thick wall of the keep, as one pats the flank of a charger: 244
  “Ah, surely not,” said he; “thou wilt not be so easily shattered, eh, my good Bastille?” 245
  And turning abruptly to the undaunted Fleming: “Have you ever seen a revolt, Maître Jacques?” 246
  “Sire, I have made one,” answered the hosier. 247
  “How do you set about it,” said the King, “to make a revolt?” 248
  “Oh,” answered Coppenole, “it is no very difficult matter. There are a hundred ways. First of all, there must be dissatisfaction in the town—that’s nothing uncommon. And next, there is the character of the inhabitants. Those of Ghent are prone to revolt. They ever love the son of the prince, but never the prince himself. Well, one fine morning, we will suppose, some one enters my shop and says to me: ‘Father Coppenole, it is thus and thus—the Lady of Flanders wants to save her favourites, the chief provost has doubled the toll on green food, or something of the kind—what you will. I throw down my work, run out of my shop into the street, and cry, ‘A sac!’ There is sure to be some empty cask about. I get upon it, and say in a loud voice the first thing that comes into my head—what’s uppermost in my heart—and when one is of the people, Sire, one has always something in one’s heart. Then a crowd gets together; they shout, they ring the tocsin, the people arm themselves by disarming the soldiers, the market people join the rest, and off they march. And so it will always be, so long as there are lords in the manors, citizens in the cities, and peasants in the country.” 249
  “And against whom do you rise thus?” asked the King; “against your provosts? against your lords?” 250
  “Sometimes; it all depends. Against the duke, too, on occasion.” 251
  Louis returned to his chair. “Ah! here,” he said with a smile, “they have not got further than the provosts!” 252
  At the same instant Olivier le Daim entered the apartment. He was followed by two pages bearing the toilet necessaries of the King; but what struck Louis was to see him also accompanied by the Provost of Paris and the commander of the watch, who both appeared full of consternation. There was consternation, too, in the manner of the rancorous barber, but with an underlying satisfaction. 253
  He was the first to speak. “Sire, I crave pardon of your Majesty for the calamitous news I bring.” 254
  The King turned sharply round, tearing the mat under the feet of his chair. “What’s that?” 255
  “Sire,” replied Olivier, with the malevolent look of one who rejoices that he has to deal a violent blow, “it is not against the Provost of the Palais that this rising is directed.” 256
  “Against whom, then?” 257
  “Against you, Sire.” 258
  The aged King sprang to his feet, erect as a young man. 259
  “Explain thyself, Olivier! explain thyself! And look well to thy head, my Gossip; for I swear to thee by the cross of Saint-Lô, that if thou speakest false in this matter, the sword that cut the throat of M. de Luxembourg is not so notched but it will manage to saw thine too.” 260
  It was a formidable oath. Never but twice in his life had Louis sworn by the cross of Saint-Lô. 261
  Olivier opened his mouth to answer. “Sire——” 262
  “Down on thy knees!” interrupted the King vehemently. “Tristan, stand guard over this man!” 263
  Olivier went down on his knees. “Sire,” he said composedly, “a witch was condemned to death by your Court of Parliament. She took sanctuary in Notre Dame. The people want to take her thence by main force. Monsieur the Provost and Monsieur the Commander of the Watch are here to contradict me if I speak not the truth. It is Notre Dame the people are besieging.” 264
  “Ah! ah!” murmured the King, pale and shaking with passion. “Notre Dame they besiege! Our Lady, my good mistress, in her own Cathedral! Rise, Olivier. Thou art right. I give thee Simon Radin’s office. Thou art right; it is me they attack. The witch is under the safeguard of the Church, the Church is under my safeguard. And I—who thought all the while that it was only the provost—and ’tis against myself!” 265
  Rejuvenated by passion, he began to pace the room with great strides. He laughed no more; he was terrible to look upon as he went to and fro—the fox was become a hyena. He seemed choking with rage, his lips moved, but no word came, his fleshless hands were clenched. Suddenly he raised his head, his sunken eyes blazed full of light, his voice rang like a clarion: “Seize them, Tristan! Cut down the knaves! Away, Tristan, my friend! Kill! Kill!” 266
  This outburst over, he returned to his seat, and went on in a voice of cold and concentrated rage: “Hither, Tristan. We have with us in this Bastille fifty lances of the Vicomte de Gif, which makes three hundred horses; you will take them. There is also a company of the archers of our bodyguard, under Monsieur de Châteaupers; you will take them. You are provost-marshal, and have the men of your provostry; you will take them. At the Hôtel Saint-Pol you will find forty archers of the new guard of Monsieur the Dauphin; take them, and with all these you will speed to Notre Dame. Ah, messieurs, the commons of Paris, do you fly thus in the face of the crown of France, of the sanctity of Notre Dame, and the peace of this commonwealth! Exterminate, Tristan! exterminate! and let not one escape for Montfaucon!” 267
  Tristan bowed. “Very good, Sire! And what am I to do with the witch?” he added after a moment’s pause. 268
  This question gave the King food for reflection. “Ah, to be sure,” said he, “the witch? M. d’Estouteville, what did the people want to do with her?” 269
  “Sire,” answered the Provost of Paris, “I imagine, that as the people were come to drag her out of sanctuary in Notre Dame, it is her impunity that offends them, and that they desire to hang her.” 270
  The King appeared to reflect profoundly; then, addressing himself to Tristan l’Hermite: 271
  “Very well, Compère; exterminate the people and hang the witch.” 272
  “In other words,” whispered Rym to Coppenole, “punish the people for wanting to do a thing, and then do it yourself!” 273
  “Very good, Sire,” returned Tristan. “And if the witch is still inside the Cathedral, are we to disregard the sanctuary and take her away?” 274
  “Pasque-Dieu! the sanctuary,” said the King, scratching his ear; “and yet the woman must be hanged.” 275
  Then, as if an idea had suddenly occurred to him, he fell on his knees before his chair, took off his hat, laid it on the seat, and gazing devoutly at one of the little lead images with which it was encircled: “Oh!” he cried, clasping his hands, “Our Lady of Paris, my gracious patroness, give me pardon, I will do it only this once. This criminal must be punished. I do assure you, Madame the Virgin, my good mistress, that it is a sorceress, unworthy of your kind protection. You know, Madame, that many very devout princes have trespassed on the privileges of the Church for the glory of God and the necessity of the state. Saint-Hugh, Bishop of England, permitted King Edward to seize a magician in his church. My master, Saint-Louis of France, transgressed for the like purpose in the Church of Saint-Paul, and Monsieur Alphonse, son of the King of Jerusalem, in the Church of the Holy Sephulchre itself. Pardon me, then, for this once, Our Lady of Paris! I will never again transgress in this manner, and I will give you a fair statue of silver, like that I gave last year to Our Lady of Ecouys. So be it!” 276
  He made the sign of the cross, rose to his feet, replaced his hat, and turned to Tristan. “Make all speed, Compère. Take M. de Châteaupers with you. You will sound the tocsin, crush the people, hang the witch—that is all. You will defray all the charges of the execution and bring me the account. Come, Olivier, I shall not go to bed to-night. Shave me.” 277
  Tristan l’Hermite bowed and left. The king then dismissed Rym and Coppenole with a wave of the hand. “God keep you, my good Flemish friends. Go and take a little rest. The night is far advanced, and we are nearer the morning than the evening.” 278
  They both withdrew. On reaching their apartments under the escort of the captain of the Bastille, Coppenole remarked to Rym, “Hum! I’ve had enough of this coughing King. I have seen Charles of Burgundy drunk, but he was not near so wicked as Louis XI sick.” 279
  “Maître Jacques,” returned Rym, “that is because kings are not half so bloodthirsty in their wine as in their medicinecups.” 280

Note 1.  Without steward or cup-bearer. [back]
Note 2.  Pulse rapid full, jerking, irregular. [back]



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