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Chieot the Jester
—p. 119


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Copyright, 1910
By p. F. Collier & Son




On the evening of a Sunday, in the year 1578, a splendid
fete was given in the magnificent hotel just built opposite
the Louvre, on the other side of the water, by the family of
Montmorency, who, allied to the royalty of France, held
themselves equal to princes. This fete was to celebrate
the wedding of rran9ois d'Epinay de St. Luc, a great
friend and favorite of the king, Henri III., with Jeanne
de Cross^-Brissac, daughter of the marshal of that name^

The banquet had taken place at the Louvre, and the king,
who had been with much diflBculty induced to consent to
the marriage, had appeared at it with a severe and grave
countenance. His costume was in harmony with his face ;
he wore that suit of deep chestnut, in which Clouet da-
scribed him at the wedding of Joyeuse ; and this kind of
royal specter, solemn and majestic, had chilled all the
spectators, but above all the young bride, at whom he cast
many angry glances. The reason of all this was known
to every one, but was one of those court secrets of which
no one likes to speak.

Scarcely was the repast finished, when the king had risen
abruptly, thereby forcmg every one to do the same. Then
St. Luc approached him, and said : " Sire, will your
majesty do me the honor to accept the fete, which I wish
to give to you this evening at the Hotel Montmorency ?**
This was said in an imploring tone, but Henri, with a
voice betraying both vexation and anger, had replied :

** Yes, monsieur, we will go, although you certainly do
not merit this proof of friendship on our part."

1— Du-MAS— Vol. VIII,


Then Madame de St. Luc had humbly thanked the king,
but he turned his back without replying.

** Is the king angry with you ? " asked the young wifo
of her husband.

** I will explain it to you after, mon amie, when this
anger shall have passed away."

** And will it pass away ?"

** It must."

Mademoiselle de Brissac was not yet sufficiently Madame
de St. Luc to insist further ; therefore she repressed her
curiosity, promising herself to satisfy it at a more favorable

They were, therefore, expecting St. Luc at the H6tel
Montmorency, at the moment in which our story com-
mences. St. Luc had invited all the king's friends and all his
own ; the princes and their favorites, particularly those of
the Due d'Anjou. He was always in opposition to the king,
but in a hidden manner, pushing forward those of his
friends whom the example of La Mole and Coconnas had
not cured. Of course, his favorites and those of the king
lived in a state of antagonism, which brought on rencontres
two or three times a month, in which it was rare that some
one was not killed or badly wounded.

As for Catherine, she was at the height of her wishes ;
her favorite son was on the throne, and she reigned
through him, while she pretended to care no more for the
things of this world. St. Luc, very uneasy at the absence
of all the royal family, tried to reassure his father-in-law,
who was much distressed at this menacing absence. Con-
vinced, like all the world, of the friendship of Henri for
St. Luc, he had believed he was assuring the royal favor,
and now this looked like a disgrace. St. Luc tried hard
to inspire in them a security which he did not feel himself ;
and his friends, Maugiron, Schomberg, and Quelus, clothed
in their most magnificent dresses, stiff in their splendid
doublets, with enormous frills, added to his annoyance by
their ironical lamentations.

*' Eh ! mon Dieu ! my poor friend/' said Jacques de
Ijevis, Comte de Quelus, ** I believe now that you are done


for. The king is angry that you would not take his advice,
and M. d'Anjou because you laughed at his nose.**

"No, Quelus, the king does not come, because he has
made a pilgrimage to the monks of the Bois de Vincennes ;
and the Due d'Anjou is absent, because he is in love with
some woman whom I have forgotten to invite.**

" But," said Maugiron, *' did you see the king's face at
dinner ? And as for the duke, if he could not come, his
gentlemen might. There is not one here, not even Bussy.**

" Oh ! gentlemen,** said the Due de Brissac, in a de-
spairing tone, ** it looks like a complete disgrace. Mon
Dieu 1 how can our house, always so devoted to his majesty,
have displeased him ? '*

The young men received this speech with bursts of
laughter, which did not tend to soothe the marquis. The
young bride was also wondering how St. Luc could have
displeased the king. All at once one of the doors opened
and the king was announced.

** Ah ! ** cried the marshal, " now I fear nothing ; if the
Due d'Anjou would but come, my satisfaction would be

*' And I,"- murmured St. Luc ; "I have more fear of
the king present than absent, for I fear he comes to play
me some spiteful tricks."

But, nevertheless, he ran to meet the king, who had
qurtted at last his somber costume, and advanced resplend-
dent in satin, feathers, and jewels. But at the instant he
entered another door opened just opposite, and a second
Henri III., clothed exactly like the first, appeared, so
that the courtiers, who had run to meet the first, turned
round at once to look at the second.

Henri III. saw the movement, and exclaimed :

•* What is the matter, gentlemen ? '*

A burst of laughter was the reply. The king, not nata*
rally patient, and less so that day than usual, frowned ;
but St. Luc approached, and said :

** Sire, it is Chicot, your jester, who is dressed exactly
like your majesty, and is giving bis hand to the ladies to
kissp" —


Henri laughed. Chicot enjoyed at his court a liberty
pimilar to that enjoyed thirty years before by Triboulet
at the court of Fran9ois I., and forty years after by Longely
at the court of Louis XIII. Chicot was not an ordinary
jester. Before being Chicot he had been " De Chicot."
He was a Gascon gentleman, who, ill-treated byM. de
Mayenne on account of a rivalry in a love affair, in which
Chicot had been victorious, had taken refuge at court, and
prayed the king for his protection by telling him the

** Eh, M. Chicot,'* said Henri, " two kings at a time
are too much.**

*' Then," replied he, *' let me continue to be one, and
you play Due d'Anjou ; perhaps you will be taken for him,
and learn something of his doings.*'

''So," said Henri, looking round him, " Anjou is not

*' The more reason for you to replace him. It is settled,
I am Henri, and you are Fran9ois. I will play the king,
while you dance and amuse yourself a little, poor king.*'

*' You are right, Chicot, I will dance.**

'* Decidedly,** thought De Brissac, ** I was wrong to
think the king angry ; he is in an excellent humor.**

Meanwhile St. Luc had approached his wife. She was
not a beauty, but she had fine black eyes, white teeth, and
a dazzling complexion.

** Monsieur,** said she to her husband, *' why did they
say that the king was angry with me ; he has done nothing
but smile on me ever since he came ? "

" You did not say so after dinner, dear Jeanne, for his
look then frightened you.**

" His majesty was, doubtless, out of humor then, but
now '*

" Now, it is far worse ; he smiles with closed lips. I
would rather he showed me his teeth, Jeanne, my poor
child, he is preparing for us some disagreeable surprise.
Oh I do not look at me so tenderly, I beg ; turn your back
to me. Here is Maugiron coming j converse with him, and
be amiable to him."


** That is a strange recommendation, monsieur."

But St. Luc left his wife full of astonishment, and went
to pay his court to Chicot, who was playing his part with
a most laughable majesty.

The king danced, but seemed never to lose sight of St.
Luc. Sometimes he called him to repeat to him some
pleasantry, which, whether droll or not, made St. Luc
laugh heartily. Somet'meshe offered him out of his com-
fit box sweetmeats and candied fruits, which St. Luo
found excellent. If he disappeared for an instant, the king
sent for him, and seemed not happy if he was out of his
eight. All at once a voice rose above all the tumult.

*' Oh ! " said Henri, " I think I hear the voice of
Chicot ; do you hear, St. Luc ? — the king is angry."

** Yes, sire, it sounds as though he were quarreling
with some one."

** Go and see what it is, and come back and tell me.'*

As St. Luc approached he heard Chicot crying :

" I have made sumptuary laws, but if they are not enough
I will make more ; at least they shall be numerous, if they
are not good. By the horn of Beelzebub, six pages, M. de
Bussy, are too much."

And Chicot, swelling out his cheeks, and putting his
hand to his side, imitated the king to the life.

** What does he say about Bnssy ? '* asked the king, when
St. Luc returned. St. Lnc was about to reply, when the
crowd opening, showed to him six pages, dressed in cloth
of gold, covered with chains, and bearing on their breasts
the arms of their masters, sparkling in jewels. Behind
them came a young man, handsome and proud, who walked
with his head raised and a haughty look, and whose simple
dress of black velvet contrasted with the splendor of his
pages. This was Bussy d'Amboise. Maugiron, Schomberg,
and Quelus had drawn near to the king.

*' See," said Maugiron, *' here is the servant, but where
is the master ? Are you also in disgrace with him, St.

*' Why should he follow Bussy ? " said Quelus.

*« Do you not remember that when his majesty did M. de


Bussy the honor to ask him if he wished to belong to him,
he replied that, being of the House of Clermont, he followed
no one, and belonged to himself/'

The king frowned.

" Yes," said Maugiron, " whatever you say, he serves the
Due d'Anjou.'*

** Then it is because the duke is greater than the king."

No observation could have been more annoying to the
king than this, for he detested the Due d'Anjou. Thus,
although he did not answer, he grew pale.

" Come, come, gentlemen," said St. Luc, trembling, ** a
little charity for my guests, if you please ; do not spoil my
wedding day."

" Yes," said the king, in a mocking tone ; " do not spoil
St. Luc's wedding-day."

*' Oh !" said Schomberg, *' is Bussy allied to the
Brissacs ? — since St. Luc defends him."

" He is neither my friend nor relation, but he is my
guest," said St. Luc. The king gave an angry look.
*' Besides," he hastened to add, " I do not defend him
the least in the world."

Bussy approached gravely behind his pages to salute the
king, when Chicot cried :

" Oh, la ! Bussy d'Amboise, Louis de Clermont, Comte
de Bussy, do you not see the true Henri, do you not know
the true king from the false ? He to whom you are going
is Chicot, my jester, at wliom I so often laugh."

Bussy continued his way, and was about to bow before
the king, when he said :

" Do you not hear, M. de Bussy, you are called ?" and,
amidst shouts of laughter from liis minions, he turned his
back to the young captain. Bussy reddened with anger,
but he affected to take the king's remark seriously, and
turning round towards Chicot :

'' Ah ! pardon, sire," said he, " there are kings who
resemble jesters so much, that you will excuse me, I hope,
for having taken a jester for a king."

** Hein," murmured Henri, *' what does he say ?"

** Nothing, sire," said St. Luc.


** Nevertheless, M. Bussy," said Chicot ; " it was un-
pardonable. "

*' Sire, I was preoccnpied.'*

'* With your pages, monsieur," said Chicot ; ''you ruin
yourself in pages, and, par la mordieu, it is infringing our

*' How so ? I beg your majesty to explain."

" Cloth of gold for them, while you a gentleman, a colonel,
a Clermont, almost a prince, wear simple black velvet."

" Sire," said Bussy, turning towards the kings' minions,
" as we live in a time when lackeys dress like princes, I
think it good taste for princes to dress like lackeys."

And he returned to the young men in their splendid
dress the impertinent smiles which they had bestowed on
him a little before. They grew pale with fury, and seemed
only to wait the king's permission to fall upon Bnssy.

" Is it for me and mine that you say that ? " asked Chicot,
speaking like the king.

Three friends of Bussy's now drew near to him. These
were Charles d'Antragues, Frangois, Vicomte de Ribeirac,
and Livarot. Seeing all this, St. Luc guessed that Bussy
was sent by Monsieur to provoke a quarrel. He trembled
more than ever, for he feared the combatants were about
to take his house for a battle-field. He ran to Quelus, who
already had his hand on his sword, and said, " In Heaven's
name be moderate."

" Parbleu, he attacks you as well as us."

"Quelus, think of the Duo d'Anjou, who supports
Bussy ; you do not suppose I fear Bussy himself ? "

" Eh ! Mordieu, what need we fear ; we belong to the
king. If we get into peril for him he will help us. "

" You, yes ; but me," said St. Luc, piteously.

*' Ah dame, why do you marry, knowing how jealous the
king is in his friendships ? "

"Good," thought St. Luc, "every one for himself;
and as I wish to live tranquil during the first fortnight of
my marriage, I will make friends with M. Bussy." And he
advanced towards him. After his impertinent speech,
Bnssy had looked round the room to see if any one would


take notice of it. Seeing St. Luc approach, he thought
he had found what he sought.

" Monsieur," said he, ** is it to what I said just now,
that I owe the honor of the conversation you appear to
desire ? "

*' Of what you have just said, I heard nothing. No, I
saw you, and wished to salute you, and thank you for the
honor you have done me by your presence here."

Bussy, who knew the courage of St. Luc, understood at
once that he considered the duties of a host paramount,
and answered him politely.

Henri, who had seen the movement said, " Oh, oh ! I
fear there is mischief there ; I cannot have St. Luc
killed. Go and see, Quelus ; no, you are too rash — you,

But St. Luc did not let him approach Bussy, but
came to meet him and returned with him to the king.

*' What have you been saying to that coxcomb ? " asked
the king.

'' I, sire ? "

" Yes, you. "

"I said, good evening.'*

*' Oh 1 was that all ? "

St. Luc saw he was wrong. " I said, good evening ;
adding, that I would have the honor of saying good morn-
ing to-morrow "

" Ah ! I suspected it."

*' Will your majesty keep my secret ? " said St. Luc.

*' Oh ! parbleu, if you could get rid of him without
injury to yourself "

The minions exchanged a rapid glance, which Henri IIL
seemed not to notice.

*'For," continued he, "his insolence is too much."

** Yes, yes," said St. Luc, '* but some day he will find
his master."

" Oh ! " said the king, ** he manages the sword well.
Why does he not get bit by some dog ? " And he threw a
spiteful glance on Bussy, who was walking about, laugh-
ing at all the king's friends.


" Corblen ! " cried Chicot, ** do not be bo rnde to my
friends, M. Bnssy, for I draw the sword, though I am a
king, as well as if I was a common man."

*' If he continue such pleasantries, I will chastise Chicot,
sire," said Maugiron.

" No, no, Maugiron, Chicot is a gentleman. Besides, it
is not he who most deserves punishment, for it is not he
who is most insolent."

This time there was no mistaking, and Quelus made
signs to D'O and D'Epernon, who had been in a different
part of the room, and had not heard what was going on.
** Gentlemen," said Quelus, ''come to the council ; you,
St. Luc, go and finish making your peace with the king."

St. Luc approached the king, while the others drew
back into a window.

''"Well," said D'Epernon, "what do you want ? I was
making love, and I warn you, if your recital be not inter-
esting I shall be very angry."

" I wish to tell you that after the ball I set off for the

" For what chase ?"

" That of the wild boar."

" What possesses you to go, in this cold, to be killed in
some thicket ? "

"Never mind, I am going."

"Alone ?"

" No, with Maugiron and Schomberg. We hunt for the

" Ah ! yes, I understand," said Maugiron and Schom-

'' The king wishes a boar's head for breakfast to-morrow. "

" With the neck dressed a I'ltalienne," said Maugiron,
alluding to the turn-down collar which Bussy wore in oppo-
sition to their ruffs.

" Ah. ah," said D'Epernon, " I understand."

"What is it ?" asked D'O, "for I do not."

"Ah ! look round you."


** Did any one laugh at us here ?"


'* Yes, Bussy."

** Well, that is the wild boar the king wants."'

'' You think the king "

" He asks for it/'

*' Well, then, so be it. But how do we hunt ?"

"In ambush ; it is the surest."

Bussy remarked the conference, and, not doubting that
they were talking of him, approached, with his friends.

'* Look, Antragues, look, Ribeirac," said he, ** how they
are grouped ; it is quite touching ; it might be Euryale

and Nisus, Damon and Pythias, Castor and . But

where is Pollux ?"

"Pollux is married, so that Castor is left alone.'*

" What can they be doing ? '*

** I bet they are inventing some new starch."

" No, gentlemen," said Quelus, " we are talking of the

"Really, Signer Cupid," said Bussy ; "it is very cold
for that. It will chap your skin."

" Monsieur," replied Maugiron, politely, " we have warm
gloves, and doublets lined with fur."

"Ah! that reassures me," said Bussy; "do you go
soon ?"

" To-night, perhaps."

" In that case I must warn the king ; what will he say
to-morrow, if he finds his friends have caught cold ? "

"Do not give yourself that trouble, monsieur," said
Quelus, " his majesty knows it."

" Do you hunt larks ? " asked Bussy, with an imperti-
nent air.

" No, monsieur, we hunt the boar. We want a head.
Will you hunt with us, M. Bussy ? "

" No, really, I cannot. To-morrow I must go to the
Due d'Anjou for the reception of M. de Monsoreau, to
whom monseigneur has just given the place of chief hunts-

"But, to-night?"

" Ah ! to-night, I have a rendezvous in a mysterious
house of the Faubourg St. Antoine."


*' Ah ! ah ! " said D'Epernon, " is the Queen Margot
here, incognito, M. de Bnssy ? '*

**No, it is some one else."

** Who expects you in the Faubourg St. Antoine ? "

**' Just so, indeed I will ask your advice, M. de Quelus."

" Do so, although I am not a lawyer, I give very good
advice. "

" They say the streets of Paris are unsafe, and that is a
lonely place. Which way do you counsel me to take ? ''

" Why, I advise you to take the ferry-boat at the Pre-
aux-Clercs, get out at the corner, and follow the quay
until yon arrive at the great Chatelet, and then go through
the Eue de la Tixanderie, until you reach the faubourg.
Once at the corner of the Rue St. Antoine, if you pass the
Hotel des Tournelles without accident, it is probable you
will arrive safe and sound at your mysterious house."

*' Thanks for your route, M. de Quelus, I shall be sure
to follow it." And saluting the five friends, he went away.

As Bussy was crossing the last saloon where Madame de
St. Luc was, her husband made a sign to her. She under-
stood at once, and going up, stopped him.

Oh ! M. de Bussy,'* said she, ** every one is talking of a
sonnet you have made."

*' Against the king, madame ?"

"No, in honor of the queen ; do tell it to me."

" Willingly, madame," and, offering his arm to her, he
went off, repeating it.

During this time, St. Luc drew softly near his friends,
and heard Quelus say :

*' The animal will not be difficult to follow ; thus then,
at the corner of the Hotel des Tournelles, opposite the Hotel
St. Pol."

*' With each a lackey ?" asked D'Epernon.

** No, no, Nogaret, let us be alone, and keep our own
secret, and do our own work. I hate him, but he is too
much a gentleman for a lackey to touch."

*' Shall we go out all six together ?"

" All five if you please," said St. Luc.
~ "Ah ! it is true, we forgot your wife."


They heard the king's voice calling St. Luc.

" Gentlemen/* said he, ** the king calls me. Good gport,
au re voir.''

And he left them, but instead of going straight to the
king, he ran to where Bnssy stood with his wife.

** Ah ! monsieur, how hurried you seem," said Bnssy.
" Are you going also to join the chase ; it would be a proof
of your courage, but not of your gallantry."

'* Monsieur, I was seeking you."

« Eeally."

** And I was afraid you were gone. Dear Jeanne, tell
your father to try and stop the king, whilst I say a few
words tete-a-tete to M. Bnssy." Jeanne went.

" I wish to say to yon, monsieur," continued St. Luc,
*' that if you have any rendezvous to-night, you would do
well to put it off, for the streets are not safe, and, above all,
to avoid the Hotel des Tournelles, where there is a place
where several men could hide. This is what I wished to
say ; I know you fear nothing, but reflect."

At this moment they heard Chicot's voice crying, *' St.
Luc, St. Luc, do not hide yourself, I am waiting for you
to return to the Louvre."

'* Here I am, sire," cried St. Luc, rushing forward. Near
Chicot stood the king, to whom one page was giving his
ermine mantle, and another a velvet mask lined with satin.

'* Sire," said St. Luc, *' I will have the honor of light-
ing your majesties to your litters."

*' No," said Henri, '* Chicot goes one way, and I another.
My friends are good-for-nothings, who have run away
and left me to return alone to the Louvre. I had counted on
them, and you cannot let me go alone. You are a grave
married man, and must take me back to the queen. Come,
my friend, my litter is large enough for two."

Madame de St. Luc, who had heard this, tried to speak,
and to tell her father that the king was carrying away her
husband, but he, placing his fingers on his mouth, motioned
her to be silent.

'* I am ready, sire," said he, *' to follow you."

When the king took leave, the others followed, and


Jeanne was left alone. She entered her room, and knelt
down before the image of a saint to pray, then sat down to
wait for her husband's return. M. de Brissac sent six men
to the Louvre to attend him back. But two hours after
one of them returned, saying, that the Louvre was closed
and that before closing, the captain of the watch had said,
** It is useless to wait longer, no one will leave the Louvre
tonight ; his majesty is in bed."

The marshal carried this news to his daughter.



The Porte St. Antoine was a kind of vault in stone,
similar to our present Porte St. Denis, only it was attached
by its left side to buildings adjacent to the Bastile. The
space at the right, between the gate and the Hotel
des Tournelles, was large and dark, little frequented by
day, and quite solitary at night, for all passers-by took the
side next to the fortress, so as to be in some degree
nnder the protection of the sentinel. Of course, winter
nights were still more feared than summer ones.

That on which the events which we have recounted, and
are about to recount took place, was cold and black. Be-
fore the gate on the side of the city, was no house, but only
high walls, those of the church of St. Paul, and of the
Hotel des Tournelles. At the end of this wall was the
niche of which St. Luc had spoken to Bussy. No lamps
lighted this part of Paris at that epoch. In the nights
when the moon charged herself with the lighting of the
earth, the Bastile rose somber and majestic against the
starry blue of the skies, but on dark nights, there seemed
only a thickening of the shadows where it stood. On the
night in question, a practised eye might have detected
in the angle of the wall of the Tournelles several black
shades, which moved enough to show that they belonged to

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