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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesCatherine De' Medici - Part 3 - Chapter 1. Two Dreams
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Catherine De' Medici - Part 3 - Chapter 1. Two Dreams Post by :FyreBrigidIce Category :Long Stories Author :Honore De Balzac Date :May 2012 Read :958

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Catherine De' Medici - Part 3 - Chapter 1. Two Dreams

PART III CHAPTER I. TWO DREAMS

In 1786 Bodard de Saint-James, treasurer of the navy, excited more attention and gossip as to his luxury than any other financier in Paris. At this period he was building his famous "Folie" at Neuilly, and his wife had just bought a set of feathers to crown the tester of her bed, the price of which had been too great for even the queen to pay.

Bodard owned the magnificent mansion in the place Vendome, which the /fermier-general/, Dange, had lately been forced to leave. That celebrated epicurean was now dead, and on the day of his interment his intimate friend, Monsieur de Bievre, raised a laugh by saying that he "could now pass through the place Vendome without /danger/." This allusion to the hellish gambling which went on in the dead man's house, was his only funeral oration. The house is opposite to the Chancellerie.

To end in a few words the history of Bodard,--he became a poor man, having failed for fourteen millions after the bankruptcy of the Prince de Guemenee. The stupidity he showed in not anticipating that "serenissime disaster," to use the expression of Lebrun Pindare, was the reason why no notice was taken of his misfortunes. He died, like Bourvalais, Bouret, and so many others, in a garret.

Madame Bodard de Saint-James was ambitious, and professed to receive none but persons of quality at her house,--an old absurdity which is ever new. To her thinking, even the parliamentary judges were of small account; she wished for titled persons in her salons, or at all events, those who had the right of entrance at court. To say that many /cordons bleus/ were seen at her house would be false; but it is quite certain that she managed to obtain the good-will and civilities of several members of the house of Rohan, as was proved later in the affair of the too celebrated diamond necklace.

One evening--it was, I think, in August, 1786--I was much surprised to meet in the salons of this lady, so exacting in the matter of gentility, two new faces which struck me as belonging to men of inferior social position. She came to me presently in the embrasure of a window where I had ensconced myself.

"Tell me," I said to her, with a glance toward one of the new-comers, "who and what is that queer species? Why do you have that kind of thing here?"

"He is charming."

"Do you see him through a prism of love, or am I blind?"

"You are not blind," she said, laughing. "The man is as ugly as a caterpillar; but he has done me the most immense service a woman can receive from a man."

As I looked at her rather maliciously she hastened to add: "He's a physician, and he has completely cured me of those odious red blotches which spoiled my complexion and made me look like a peasant woman."

I shrugged my shoulders with disgust.

"He is a charlatan."

"No," she said, "he is the surgeon of the court pages. He has a fine intellect, I assure you; in fact, he is a writer, and a very learned man."

"Heavens! if his style resembles his face!" I said scoffingly. "But who is the other?"

"What other?"

"That spruce, affected little popinjay over there, who looks as if he had been drinking verjuice."

"He is a rather well-born man," she replied; "just arrived from some province, I forget which--oh! from Artois. He is sent here to conclude an affair in which the Cardinal de Rohan is interested, and his Eminence in person had just presented him to Monsieur de Saint-James. It seems they have both chosen my husband as arbitrator. The provincial didn't show his wisdom in that; but fancy what simpletons the people who sent him here must be to trust a case to a man of his sort! He is as meek as a sheep and as timid as a girl. His Eminence is very kind to him."

"What is the nature of the affair?"

"Oh! a question of three hundred thousand francs."

"Then the man is a lawyer?" I said, with a slight shrug.

"Yes," she replied.

Somewhat confused by this humiliating avowal, Madame Bodard returned to her place at a faro-table.

All the tables were full. I had nothing to do, no one to speak to, and I had just lost two thousand crowns to Monsieur de Laval. I flung myself on a sofa near the fireplace. Presently, if there was ever a man on earth most utterly astonished it was I, when, on looking up, I saw, seated on another sofa on the opposite side of the fireplace, Monsieur de Calonne, the comptroller-general. He seemed to be dozing, or else he was buried in one of those deep meditations which overtake statesmen. When I pointed out the famous minister to Beaumarchais, who happened to come near me at that moment, the father of Figaro explained the mystery of his presence in that house without uttering a word. He pointed first at my head, then at Bodard's with a malicious gesture which consisted in turning to each of us two fingers of his hand while he kept the others doubled up. My first impulse was to rise and say something rousing to Calonne; then I paused, first, because I thought of a trick I could play the statesman, and secondly, because Beaumarchais caught me familiarly by the hand.

"Why do you do that, monsieur?" I said.

He winked at the comptroller.

"Don't wake him," he said in a low voice. "A man is happy when asleep."

"Pray, is sleep a financial scheme?" I whispered.

"Indeed, yes!" said Calonne, who had guessed our words from the mere motion of our lips. "Would to God we could sleep long, and then the awakening you are about to see would never happen."

"Monseigneur," said the dramatist, "I must thank you--"

"For what?"

"Monsieur de Mirabeau has started for Berlin. I don't know whether we might not both have drowned ourselves in that affair of 'les Eaux.'"

"You have too much memory, and too little gratitude," replied the minister, annoyed at having one of his secrets divulged in my presence.

"Possibly," said Beaumarchais, cut to the quick; "but I have millions that can balance many a score."

Calonne pretended not to hear.

It was long past midnight when the play ceased. Supper was announced. There were ten of us at table: Bodard and his wife, Calonne, Beaumarchais, the two strange men, two pretty women, whose names I will not give here, a /fermier-general/, Lavoisier, and myself. Out of thirty guests who were in the salon when I entered it, only these ten remained. The two /queer species/ did not consent to stay until they were urged to do so by Madame Bodard, who probably thought she was paying her obligations to the surgeon by giving him something to eat, and pleasing her husband (with whom she appeared, I don't precisely know why, to be coquetting) by inviting the lawyer.

The supper began by being frightfully dull. The two strangers and the /fermier-general/ oppressed us. I made a sign to Beaumarchais to intoxicate the son of Esculapius, who sat on his right, giving him to understand that I would do the same by the lawyer, who was next to me. As there seemed no other way to amuse ourselves, and it offered a chance to draw out the two men, who were already sufficiently singular, Monsieur de Calonne smiled at our project. The ladies present also shared in the bacchanal conspiracy, and the wine of Sillery crowned our glasses again and again with its silvery foam. The surgeon was easily managed; but at the second glass which I offered to my neighbor the lawyer, he told me with the frigid politeness of a usurer that he should drink no more.

At this instant Madame de Saint-James chanced to introduce, I scarcely know how, the topic of the marvellous suppers to the Comte de Cagliostro, given by the Cardinal de Rohan. My mind was not very attentive to what the mistress of the house was saying, because I was watching with extreme curiosity the pinched and livid face of my little neighbor, whose principal feature was a turned-up and at the same time pointed nose, which made him, at times, look very like a weasel. Suddenly his cheeks flushed as he caught the words of a dispute between Madame de Saint-James and Monsieur de Calonne.

"But I assure you, monsieur," she was saying, with an imperious air, "that I /saw/ Cleopatra, the queen."

"I can believe it, madame," said my neighbor, "for I myself have spoken to Catherine de' Medici."

"Oh! oh!" exclaimed Monsieur de Calonne.

The words uttered by the little provincial were said in a voice of strange sonorousness, if I may be permitted to borrow that expression from the science of physics. This sudden clearness of intonation, coming from a man who had hitherto scarcely spoken, and then in a low and modulated tone, surprised all present exceedingly.

"Why, he is talking!" said the surgeon, who was now in a satisfactory state of drunkenness, addressing Beaumarchais.

"His neighbor must have pulled his wires," replied the satirist.

My man flushed again as he overheard the words, though they were said in a low voice.

"And pray, how was the late queen?" asked Calonne, jestingly.

"I will not swear that the person with whom I supped last night at the house of the Cardinal de Rohan was Catherine de' Medici in person. That miracle would justly seem impossible to Christians as well as to philosophers," said the little lawyer, resting the tips of his fingers on the table, and leaning back in his chair as if preparing to make a speech. "Nevertheless, I do assert that the woman I saw resembled Catherine de' Medici as closely as though they were twin-sisters. She was dressed in a black velvet gown, precisely like that of the queen in the well-known portrait which belongs to the king; on her head was the pointed velvet coif, which is characteristic of her; and she had the wan complexion, and the features we all know well. I could not help betraying my surprise to his Eminence. The suddenness of the evocation seemed to me all the more amazing because Monsieur de Cagliostro had been unable to divine the name of the person with whom I wished to communicate. I was confounded. The magical spectacle of a supper, where one of the illustrious women of past times presented herself, took from me my presence of mind. I listened without daring to question. When I roused myself about midnight from the spell of that magic, I was inclined to doubt my senses. But even this great marvel seemed natural in comparison with the singular hallucination to which I was presently subjected. I don't know in what words I can describe to you the state of my senses. But I declare, in the sincerity of my heart, I no longer wonder that souls have been found weak enough, or strong enough, to believe in the mysteries of magic and in the power of demons. For myself, until I am better informed, I regard as possible the apparitions which Cardan and other thaumaturgists describe."

These words, said with indescribable eloquence of tone, were of a nature to rouse the curiosity of all present. We looked at the speaker and kept silence; our eyes alone betrayed our interest, their pupils reflecting the light of the wax-candles in the sconces. By dint of observing this unknown little man, I fancied I could see the pores of his skin, especially those of his forehead, emitting an inward sentiment with which he was saturated. This man, apparently so cold and formal, seemed to contain within him a burning altar, the flames of which beat down upon us.

"I do not know," he continued, "if the Figure evoked followed me invisibly, but no sooner had my head touched the pillow in my own chamber than I saw once more that grand Shade of Catherine rise before me. I felt myself, instinctively, in a luminous sphere, and my eyes, fastened upon the queen with intolerable fixity, saw naught but her. Suddenly, she bent toward me."

At these words the ladies present made a unanimous movement of curiosity.

"But," continued the lawyer, "I am not sure that I ought to relate what happened, for though I am inclined to believe it was all a dream, it concerns grave matters.

"Of religion?" asked Beaumarchais.

"If there is any impropriety," remarked Calonne, "these ladies will excuse it."

"It relates to the government," replied the lawyer.

"Go on, then," said the minister; "Voltaire, Diderot, and their fellows have already begun to tutor us on that subject."

Calonne became very attentive, and his neighbor, Madame de Genlis, rather anxious. The little provincial still hesitated, and Beaumarchais said to him somewhat roughly:--

"Go on, /maitre/, go on! Don't you know that when the laws allow but little liberty the people seek their freedom in their morals?"

Thus adjured, the small man told his tale:--

"Whether it was that certain ideas were fermenting in my brain, or that some strange power impelled me, I said to her: 'Ah! madame, you committed a very great crime.' 'What crime?' she asked in a grave voice. 'The crime for which the signal was given from the clock of the palace on the 24th of August,' I answered. She smiled disdainfully, and a few deep wrinkles appeared on her pallid cheeks. 'You call that a crime which was only a misfortune,' she said. 'The enterprise, being ill-managed, failed; the benefit we expected for France, for Europe, for the Catholic Church was lost. Impossible to foresee that. Our orders were ill executed; we did not find as many Montlucs as we needed. Posterity will not hold us responsible for the failure of communications, which deprived our work of the unity of movement which is essential to all great strokes of policy; that was our misfortune! If on the 25th of August not the shadow of a Huguenot had been left in France, I should go down to the uttermost posterity as a noble image of Providence. How many, many times have the clear-sighted souls of Sixtus the Fifth, Richelieu, Bossuet, reproached me secretly for having failed in that enterprise after having the boldness to conceive it! How many and deep regrets for that failure attended my deathbed! Thirty years after the Saint-Bartholomew the evil it might have cured was still in existence. That failure caused ten times more blood to flow in France than if the massacre of August 24th had been completed on the 26th. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in honor of which you have struck medals, has cost more tears, more blood, more money, and killed the prosperity of France far more than three Saint-Bartholomews. Letellier with his pen gave effect to a decree which the throne had secretly promulgated since my time; but, though the vast execution was necessary of the 25th of August, 1572, on the 25th of August, 1685, it was useless. Under the second son of Henri de Valois heresy had scarcely conceived an offspring; under the second son of Henri de Bourbon that teeming mother had cast her spawn over the whole universe. You accuse me of a crime, and you put up statues to the son of Anne of Austria! Nevertheless, he and I attempted the same thing; he succeeded, I failed; but Louis XIV. found the Protestants without arms, whereas in my reign they had powerful armies, statesmen, warriors, and all Germany on their side.' At these words, slowly uttered, I felt an inward shudder pass through me. I fancied I breathed the fumes of blood from I know not what great mass of victims. Catherine was magnified. She stood before me like an evil genius; she sought, it seemed to me, to enter my consciousness and abide there."

"He dreamed all that," whispered Beaumarchais; "he certainly never invented it."

"'My reason is bewildered,' I said to the queen. 'You praise yourself for an act which three generations of men have condemned, stigmatized, and--' 'Add,' she rejoined, 'that historians have been more unjust toward me than my contemporaries. None have defended me. I, rich and all-powerful, am accused of ambition! I am taxed with cruelty,--I who have but two deaths upon my conscience. Even to impartial minds I am still a problem. Do you believe that I was actuated by hatred, that vengeance and fury were the breath of my nostrils?' She smiled with pity. 'No,' she continued, 'I was cold and calm as reason itself. I condemned the Huguenots without pity, but without passion; they were the rotten fruit in my basket and I cast them out. Had I been Queen of England, I should have treated seditious Catholics in the same way. The life of our power in those days depended on their being but one God, one Faith, one Master in the State. Happily for me, I uttered my justification in one sentence which history is transmitting. When Birago falsely announced to me the loss of the battle of Dreux, I answered: "Well then; we will go to the Protestant churches." Did I hate the reformers? No, I esteemed them much, and I knew them little. If I felt any aversion to the politicians of my time, it was to that base Cardinal de Lorraine, and to his brother the shrewd and brutal soldier who spied upon my every act. They were the real enemies of my children; they sought to snatch the crown; I saw them daily at work and they wore me out. If /we/ had not ordered the Saint-Bartholomew, the Guises would have done the same thing by the help of Rome and the monks. The League, which was powerful only in consequence of my old age, would have begun in 1573.' 'But, madame, instead of ordering that horrible murder (pardon my plainness) why not have employed the vast resources of your political power in giving to the Reformers those wise institutions which made the reign of Henri IV. so glorious and so peaceful?' She smiled again and shrugged her shoulders, the hollow wrinkles of her pallid face giving her an expression of the bitterest sarcasm. 'The peoples,' she said, 'need periods of rest after savage feuds; there lies the secret of that reign. But Henri IV. committed two irreparable blunders. He ought neither to have abjured Protestantism, nor, after becoming a Catholic himself, should he have left France Catholic. He, alone, was in a position to have changed the whole of France without a jar. Either not a stole, or not a conventicle--that should have been his motto. To leave two bitter enemies, two antagonistic principles in a government with nothing to balance them, that is the crime of kings; it is thus that they sow revolutions. To God alone belongs the right to keep good and evil perpetually together in his work. But it may be,' she said reflectively, 'that that sentence was inscribed on the foundation of Henri IV.'s policy, and it may have caused his death. It is impossible that Sully did not cast covetous eyes on the vast wealth of the clergy,--which the clergy did not possess in peace, for the nobles robbed them of at least two-thirds of their revenue. Sully, the Reformer, himself owned abbeys.' She paused, and appeared to reflect. 'But,' she resumed, 'remember you are asking the niece of a Pope to justify her Catholicism.' She stopped again. 'And yet, after all,' she added with a gesture of some levity, 'I should have made a good Calvinist! Do the wise men of your century still think that religion had anything to do with that struggle, the greatest which Europe has ever seen?--a vast revolution, retarded by little causes which, however, will not be prevented from overwhelming the world because I failed to smother it; a revolution,' she said, giving me a solemn look, 'which is still advancing, and which you might consummate. Yes, /you/, who hear me!' I shuddered. 'What! has no one yet understood that the old interests and the new interests seized Rome and Luther as mere banners? What! do they not know Louis IX., to escape just such a struggle, dragged a population a hundredfold more in number than I destroyed from their homes and left their bones on the sands of Egypt, for which he was made a saint? while I--But I,' she added, '/failed/.' She bowed her head and was silent for some moments. I no longer beheld a queen, but rather one of those ancient druidesses to whom human lives are sacrificed; who unroll the pages of the future and exhume the teachings of the past. But soon she uplifted her regal and majestic form. 'Luther and Calvin,' she said, 'by calling the attention of the burghers to the abuses of the Roman Church, gave birth in Europe to a spirit of investigation which was certain to lead the peoples to examine all things. Examination leads to doubt. Instead of faith, which is necessary to all societies, those two men drew after them, in the far distance, a strange philosophy, armed with hammers, hungry for destruction. Science sprang, sparkling with her specious lights, from the bosom of heresy. It was far less a question of reforming a Church than of winning indefinite liberty for man --which is the death of power. I saw that. The consequence of the successes won by the religionists in their struggle against the priesthood (already better armed and more formidable than the Crown) was the destruction of the monarchical power raised by Louis IX. at such vast cost upon the ruins of feudality. It involved, in fact, nothing less than the annihilation of religion and royalty, on the ruins of which the whole burgher class of Europe meant to stand. The struggle was therefore war without quarter between the new ideas and the law,--that is, the old beliefs. The Catholics were the emblem of the material interests of royalty, of the great lords, and of the clergy. It was a duel to the death between two giants; unfortunately, the Saint-Bartholomew proved to be only a wound. Remember this: because a few drops of blood were spared at that opportune moment, torrents were compelled to flow at a later period. The intellect which soars above a nation cannot escape a great misfortune; I mean the misfortune of finding no equals capable of judging it when it succumbs beneath the weight of untoward events. My equals are few; fools are in the majority: that statement explains it all. If my name is execrated in France, the fault lies with the commonplace minds who form the mass of all generations. In the great crises through which I passed, the duty of reigning was not the mere giving of audiences, reviewing of troops, signing of decrees. I may have committed mistakes, for I was but a woman. But why was there then no man who rose above his age? The Duke of Alba had a soul of iron; Philip II. was stupefied by Catholic belief; Henri IV. was a gambling soldier and a libertine; the Admiral, a stubborn mule. Louis XI. lived too soon, Richelieu too late. Virtuous or criminal, guilty or not in the Saint-Bartholomew, I accept the onus of it; I stand between those two great men,--the visible link of an unseen chain. The day will come when some paradoxical writer will ask if the peoples have not bestowed the title of executioner among their victims. It will not be the first time that humanity has preferred to immolate a god rather than admit its own guilt. You are shedding upon two hundred clowns, sacrificed for a purpose, the tears you refuse to a generation, a century, a world! You forget that political liberty, the tranquillity of a nation, nay, knowledge itself, are gifts on which destiny has laid a tax of blood!' 'But,' I exclaimed, with tears in my eyes, 'will the nations never be happy at less cost?' 'Truth never leaves her well but to bathe in the blood which refreshes her,' she replied. 'Christianity, itself the essence of all truth, since it comes from God, was fed by the blood of martyrs, which flowed in torrents; and shall it not ever flow? You will learn this, you who are destined to be one of the builders of the social edifice founded by the Apostles. So long as you level heads you will be applauded, but take your trowel in hand, begin to reconstruct, and your fellows will kill you.' Blood! blood! the word sounded in my ears like a knell. 'According to you,' I cried, 'Protestantism has the right to reason as you do!' But Catherine had disappeared, as if some puff of air had suddenly extinguished the supernatural light which enabled my mind to see that Figure whose proportions had gradually become gigantic. And then, without warning, I found within me a portion of myself which adopted the monstrous doctrine delivered by the Italian. I woke, weeping, bathed in sweat, at the moment when my reason told me firmly, in a gentle voice, that neither kings nor nations had the right to apply such principles, fit only for a world of atheists."

"How would you save a falling monarchy?" asked Beaumarchais.

"God is present," replied the little lawyer.

"Therefore," remarked Monsieur de Calonne, with the inconceivable levity which characterized him, "we have the agreeable resource of believing ourselves the instruments of God, according to the Gospel of Bossuet."

As soon as the ladies discovered that the tale related only to a conversation between the queen and the lawyer, they had begun to whisper and to show signs of impatience,--interjecting, now and then, little phrases through his speech. "How wearisome he is!" "My dear, when will he finish?" were among those which reached my ear.

When the strange little man had ceased speaking the ladies too were silent; Monsieur Bodard was sound asleep; the surgeon, half drunk; Monsieur de Calonne was smiling at the lady next him. Lavoisier, Beaumarchais, and I alone had listened to the lawyer's dream. The silence at this moment had something solemn about it. The gleam of the candles seemed to me magical. A sentiment bound all three of us by some mysterious tie to that singular little man, who made me, strange to say, conceive, suddenly, the inexplicable influences of fanaticism. Nothing less than the hollow, cavernous voice of Beaumarchais's neighbor, the surgeon, could, I think, have roused me.

"I, too, have dreamed," he said.

I looked at him more attentively, and a feeling of some strange horror came over me. His livid skin, his features, huge and yet ignoble, gave an exact idea of what you must allow me to call the /scum/ of the earth. A few bluish-black spots were scattered over his face, like bits of mud, and his eyes shot forth an evil gleam. The face seemed, perhaps, darker, more lowering than it was, because of the white hair piled like hoarfrost on his head.

"That man must have buried many a patient," I whispered to my neighbor the lawyer.

"I wouldn't trust him with my dog," he answered.

"I hate him involuntarily."

"For my part, I despise him."

"Perhaps we are unjust," I remarked.

"Ha! to-morrow he may be as famous as Volange the actor."

Monsieur de Calonne here motioned us to look at the surgeon, with a gesture that seemed to say: "I think he'll be very amusing."

"Did you dream of a queen?" asked Beaumarchais.

"No, I dreamed of a People," replied the surgeon, with an emphasis which made us laugh. "I was then in charge of a patient whose leg I was to amputate the next day--"

"Did you find the People in the leg of your patient?" asked Monsieur de Calonne.

"Precisely," replied the surgeon.

"How amusing!" cried Madame de Genlis.

"I was somewhat surprised," went on the speaker, without noticing the interruption, and sticking his hands into the gussets of his breeches, "to hear something talking to me within that leg. I then found I had the singular faculty of entering the being of my patient. Once within his skin I saw a marvellous number of little creatures which moved, and thought, and reasoned. Some of them lived in the body of the man, others lived in his mind. His ideas were things which were born, and grew, and died; they were sick and well, and gay, and sad; they all had special countenances; they fought with each other, or they embraced each other. Some ideas sprang forth and went to live in the world of intellect. I began to see that there were two worlds, two universes,--the visible universe, and the invisible universe; that the earth had, like man, a body and a soul. Nature illumined herself for me; I felt her immensity when I saw the oceans of beings who, in masses and in species, spread everywhere, making one sole and uniform animated Matter, from the stone of the earth to God. Magnificent vision! In short, I found a universe within my patient. When I inserted my knife into his gangrened leg I cut into a million of those little beings. Oh! you laugh, madame; let me tell you that you are eaten up by such creatures--"

"No personalities!" interposed Monsieur de Calonne. "Speak for yourself and for your patient."

"My patient, frightened by the cries of his animalcules, wanted to stop the operation; but I went on regardless of his remonstrances; telling him that those evil animals were already gnawing at his bones. He made a sudden movement of resistance, not understanding that what I did was for his good, and my knife slipped aside, entered my own body, and--"

"He is stupid," said Lavoisier.

"No, he is drunk," replied Beaumarchais.

"But, gentlemen, my dream has a meaning," cried the surgeon.

"Oh! oh!" exclaimed Bodard, waking up; "my leg is asleep!"

"Your animalcules must be dead," said his wife.

"That man has a vocation," announced my little neighbor, who had stared imperturbably at the surgeon while he was speaking.

"It is to yours," said the ugly man, "what the action is to the word, the body to the soul."

But his tongue grew thick, his words were indistinct, and he said no more. Fortunately for us the conversation took another turn. At the end of half an hour we had forgotten the surgeon of the king's pages, who was fast asleep. Rain was falling in torrents as we left the supper-table.

"The lawyer is no fool," I said to Beaumarchais.

"True, but he is cold and dull. You see, however, that the provinces are still sending us worthy men who take a serious view of political theories and the history of France. It is a leaven which will rise."

"Is your carriage here?" asked Madame de Saint-James, addressing me.

"No," I replied, "I did not think that I should need it to-night."

Madame de Saint-James then rang the bell, ordered her own carriage to be brought round, and said to the little lawyer in a low voice:--

"Monsieur de Robespierre, will you do me the kindness to drop Monsieur Marat at his own door?--for he is not in a state to go alone."

"With pleasure, madame," replied Monsieur de Robespierre, with his finical gallantry. "I only wish you had requested me to do something more difficult."


(THE END)
Honore de Balzac's Novel: Catherine de' Medici

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