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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Conspirators - Chapter 34. Parliamentary Justice
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The Conspirators - Chapter 34. Parliamentary Justice Post by :wen8213 Category :Long Stories Author :Alexandre Dumas Date :May 2012 Read :2641

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The Conspirators - Chapter 34. Parliamentary Justice

CHAPTER XXXIV. PARLIAMENTARY JUSTICE

The following day, about seven o'clock in the morning, Brigaud came to fetch D'Harmental, and found the young man ready and waiting. They both wrapped themselves in their cloaks, drew down their hats over their eyes, and proceeded through the Rue de Clery, the Place des Victoires, and the garden of the Palais Royal.

On reaching the Rue de l'Echelle they began to perceive an unusual stir. All the avenues leading toward the Tuileries were guarded by detachments of musketeers and light horse, and the people, expelled from the court and gardens of the Tuileries, crowded into the Place du Carrousel. D'Harmental and Brigaud mixed with the mob.

Having arrived at the place where the triumphal arch now stands, they were accosted by an officer of Gray Musketeers, wrapped in a large cloak like themselves. It was Valef.

"Well, baron," asked Brigaud, "what news?"

"Ah! it is you, abbe," said Valef; "we have been looking for you, Laval, Malezieux, and myself. I have just left them; they must be somewhere near. Let us stop here; it will not be long before they find us. Do you know anything yourself?"

"No, nothing. I called at Malezieux's, but he had already gone out."

"Say that he was not yet come home. We remained at the Arsenal all night."

"And no hostile demonstration has been made?" asked D'Harmental.

"None. Monsieur le Duc de Maine, and Monsieur le Comte de Toulouse were summoned for the regent's council, which is to be held before the sitting of the parliament. At half-past six they were both at the Tuileries, so Madame de Maine, in order to get the news as soon as possible, has come and installed herself in her superintendent's apartments."

"Is it known what has become of the Prince de Cellamare?" asked D'Harmental.

"He is sent to Orleans, in a chaise and four, in the company of a gentleman of the king's household, and an escort of a dozen light horse."

"And is nothing known about the paper which Dubois picked out of the cinders?" asked Brigaud.----"Nothing."

"What does Madame de Maine think?"

"That he is brewing something against the legitimated princes, and that he will profit by this to take away some more of their privileges. This morning she lectured her husband sharply, and he promised to remain firm, but she does not rely upon him."

"And Monsieur de Toulouse?"

"We saw him yesterday evening, but, you know, my dear abbe, there is nothing to be done with his modesty, or rather his humility. He always thinks that they have done too much for him, and is ready to abandon to the regent anything that is asked of him."

"By-the-by, the king?"

"Well, the king--"

"Yes, how has he taken the arrest of his tutor?"

"Ah! do you not know? It seems that there was a compact between the marshal and Monsieur de Frejus, that if one of them left his majesty, the other should leave immediately--yesterday morning Monsieur de Frejus disappeared."

"And where is he?"

"God knows! And so the king, who had taken the loss of his marshal very well, was inconsolable at that of his bishop."

"And how do you know all that?"

"Through the Duc de Richelieu, who went yesterday, about two o'clock, to Versailles, to pay his respects to the king, and who found his majesty in despair in the midst of the china and ornaments which he had broken. Unfortunately, Richelieu, instead of encouraging the king's grief, made him laugh by telling him a hundred stories, and almost consoled him by helping him to break the rest of the china and ornaments."

At this moment an individual clothed in a long advocate's robe, and with a square cap, passed near the group which was formed by Brigaud, D'Harmental, and Valef, humming the burden of a song made on the marshal after the battle of Ramillies. Brigaud turned round, and, under the disguise, thought he recognized Pompadour. On his part the advocate stopped, and approached the group in question. The abbe had no longer any doubt. It was really the marquis.

"Well, Maitre Clement," said he, "what news from the palace?"

"Oh!" answered Pompadour, "good news, particularly if it be true; they say that the parliament refuses to come to the Tuileries."

"Vive Dieu!" cried Valef, "that will reconcile me with the red robes. But they will not dare."

"Why not? You know that Monsieur de Mesme is for us, and has been named president through the influence of Monsieur de Maine."

"Yes, that is true, but that is long since," said Brigaud; "and if you have nothing better to rely upon, Maitre Clement, I should advise you not to count upon him."

"Particularly," answered Valef, "as he has just obtained from the regent the payment of five hundred thousand francs of his salary."

"Oh, oh!" said D'Harmental, "see, it appears to me that something new is going on. Are they not coming out of the regent's council?"

Indeed, a great movement was taking place in the court of the Tuileries, and the two carriages of the Duc de Maine and the Comte de Toulouse left their post, and approached the clock pavilion. At the same instant they saw the two brothers appear. They exchanged few words, each got into his own carriage, and the two vehicles departed at a rapid pace by the waterside wicket.

For ten minutes Brigaud, D'Harmental, Pompadour, and Valef were lost in conjectures regarding this event, which, having been remarked by others as well as by them, had made a sensation among the crowd, but without being able to assign it to its proper cause. Then they noticed Malezieux, who appeared to be looking for them: they went to him, and by his discomposed face they judged that the information which he had to bring was not comforting.

"Well," asked Pompadour, "have you any idea of what has been going on?"

"Alas!" answered Malezieux, "I am afraid that all is lost."

"You know that the Duc de Maine and the Comte de Toulouse have left the council?" asked Valef.

"I was on the quay when he passed in his carriage, and he recognized me, and stopped the carriage, and sent me this little pencil note by his valet-de-chambre."

"Let us see," said Brigaud, and he read:


"I do not know what is plotting against us, but the
regent invited us--Toulouse and me--to leave the
council. That invitation appeared to me an order, and,
as all resistance would have been useless, seeing that
we have in the council only four or five voices, upon
which we cannot count, I was obliged to obey. Try and
see the duchesse, who must be at the Tuileries, and
tell her that I am retiring to Rambouillet, where I
shall wait for the turn of events.

"Your affectionate,

"LOUIS AUGUSTE."


"The coward," said Valef.

"And these are the men for whom we risk our heads," murmured Pompadour.

"You are mistaken, my dear marquis," said Brigaud, "we risk our heads on our own account I hope, and not for others. Is not that true, chevalier? Well, what the devil are you about now?"

"Wait, abbe," answered D'Harmental; "I seem to recognize--yes, by Heaven, it is he! You will not go away from this place, gentlemen!"

"No, I answer for myself at least," said Pompadour.

"Nor I," said Valef.

"Nor I," said Malezieux.

"Nor I," said the abbe.

"Well, then, I will rejoin you in an instant."

"Where are you going?" asked Brigaud.

"Do not look, abbe," said D'Harmental, "it is on private business."

Dropping Valef's arm, D'Harmental began to traverse the crowd in the direction of an individual whom he had been following with his eyes for some time, and who, thanks to his personal strength, had approached the gate.

"Captain," said the chevalier, tapping Roquefinette on the shoulder, and hoping that, thanks to the movement occasioned by the approach of the parliament, they should be able to talk without being observed, "can I say a few words to you in private?"

"Yes, chevalier, with the greatest pleasure. What is it?" continued he, drawing back. "I have recognized you for the last five minutes, but it was not my business to speak first."

"And I see with pleasure," said D'Harmental, "that Captain Roquefinette is still prudent."

"Prudentissimo, chevalier; so if you have any new overture to make, out with it."

"No, captain, no; not at present, at least. Besides, the place is not suitable for a conference of that nature. Only I wish to know, in case of my having need of you, whether you still live in the same place?"

"Still, chevalier; I am like a briar--I die where I grow; only, instead of your finding me, as you did the first time, on the first or second floor, you will have to look for me on the fifth or sixth, seeing that, by a very natural see-saw movement, as my funds lower I go up."

"How, captain," said D'Harmental, laughing, and putting his hand in his pocket, "you are in want of money, and you do not address yourself to your friends?"

"I, borrow money!" cried the captain, stopping D'Harmental's liberal intentions with a sign; "no; when I do you a service you make me a present; well and good. When I conclude a bargain you execute the conditions. But I to ask without having a right to ask! It may do for a church rat, but not for a soldier; although I am only a simple gentleman, I am as proud as a duke or a peer; but, pardon me, if you want me, you know where to find me. Au revoir, chevalier! au revoir!"

And, without waiting for D'Harmental's answer, Roquefinette left him, not thinking it safe that they should be seen talking together.

As it was only eleven o'clock in the morning, however, and as in all probability the parliament would not break up till four in the afternoon, and as, no doubt, there was nothing determined on yet, the chevalier thought that, instead of remaining on the Place du Carrousel, he would do better to turn the four hours which he had before him to the profit of his love. Moreover, the nearer he approached to the catastrophe, the more need he felt of seeing Bathilde. Bathilde had become one of the elements of his life; one of the organs necessary to his existence; and, at the moment when he might perhaps be separated from her forever, he did not understand how he could live a single day away from her. Consequently, pressed by the eternal craving for the presence of the loved object, the chevalier, instead of going to look for his companions, went toward the Rue du Temps-Perdu.

D'Harmental found the poor child very uneasy. Buvat had not come home since half-past nine the morning before. Nanette had been to inquire at the library, and to her great astonishment, and the scandal of his fellow-clerks, she had learned that he had not been there for five or six days. Such a derangement in Buvat's habits indicated serious events. On the other hand, the young girl had noticed in Raoul, the day before, a sort of nervous agitation, which, although kept down by determination, gave warning of an important crisis. Thus, joining her old fears to her new agonies, Bathilde felt instinctively that a misfortune, invisible but inevitable, hung above her, and that at any moment it might fall on her devoted head.

But when Bathilde saw Raoul, all fear, past or future, was lost in the happiness of the present. On his part, Raoul, whether it was self-command, or a similar feeling to her own, thought of nothing but Bathilde. Nevertheless, this time the preoccupations on both sides were so powerful that Bathilde could not help expressing her uneasiness to Raoul; he made but little answer, for the absence of Buvat became connected in his mind with some suspicions which he had entertained for a minute, and then cast from him. The time, nevertheless, flowed away with its accustomed rapidity, and four o'clock struck, when the lovers fancied that they had only been together a few minutes. It was the hour at which he generally took his leave.

If Buvat returned, he would probably return at this time. After exchanging a hundred vows, the two young people separated, agreeing, that if anything new happened to either of them, whatever hour of the day or night it might be, they should let the other know directly.

At the door of Madame Denis's house D'Harmental met Brigaud. The sitting was over, and nothing positive was yet known, but vague rumors were afloat that terrible measures had been taken. The information must soon arrive, and Brigaud had fixed a rendezvous with Pompadour and Malezieux at D'Harmental's lodgings, which, as they were the least known, must be the least watched.

In about an hour the Marquis de Pompadour arrived. The parliament had at first wished to make opposition, but everything had given way before the will of the regent. The king of Spain's letters had been read and condemned. It had been decided that the dukes and peers should rank immediately after the princes of the blood. The honors of the legitimated princes were restricted to the simple rank of their peerages. Finally, the Duc de Maine lost the superintendence of the king's education, which was given to the Duc de Bourbon. The Comte de Toulouse alone was maintained, during his lifetime, in his privileges and prerogatives. Malezieux arrived in his turn; he had recently left the duchess. They had just given her notice to quit her apartments in the Tuileries, which belonged henceforward to Monsieur le Duc. Such an affront had, as may easily be understood, exasperated the granddaughter of the great Conde. She had flown into a violent passion, broken all the looking-glasses with her own hands, and had all the furniture thrown out of the window; then, this performance finished, she had got into her carriage, sending Laval to Rambouillet, in order to urge Monsieur de Maine to some vigorous action, and charging Malezieux to assemble all her friends that evening at the Arsenal.

Pompadour and Brigaud cried out against the imprudence of such a meeting. Madame de Maine was evidently watched. To go to the Arsenal the day when they must know that she was the most irritated would be to compromise themselves openly. Pompadour and Brigaud were therefore in favor of going and begging her highness to appoint some other time or place for the rendezvous. Malezieux and D'Harmental were of the same opinion regarding the danger of the step; but they both declared--the first from devotion, the second from a sense of duty--that the more perilous the order was, the more honorable it would be to obey it.

The discussion, as always happens in similar circumstances, began to degenerate into a pretty sharp altercation, when they heard the steps of two persons mounting the stairs. As the three individuals who had appointed a meeting at D'Harmental's were all assembled, Brigaud, who, with his ear always on the qui-vive had heard the sound first, put his finger to his mouth, to impose silence on the disputants. They could plainly hear the steps approaching; then a low whispering, as of two people questioning; finally, the door opened, and gave entrance to a soldier of the French guard, and a little grisette.

The guardsman was the Baron de Valef.

As to the grisette, she threw off the little black veil which hid her face, and they recognized Madame de Maine.

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