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"You know him, then?"

" I know everybody, — as I know you, Billot, farmer of
Pisseleu; as I know you, Pitou, captain of the Haramont
National Guards; as I know the Vicomte de Charny, sei-
gneur of Boursonnes ; as I know Catherine — "

"I have forbidden you to mention her name."

"And why?"

"Because there is no longer any Catherine."

"What has become of her?"

"She is dead."

"No, she is not dead," interrupted Pitou. Doubtless
he might have added, "for I know where she is," but
Billot repeated, in a voice that admitted of no contradic-
tion, "She is dead, I say."

Pitou bowed his head; he understood. To others,
Catherine might be alive; but to her father, she was
dead.

" Ah ! " said the Unknown, " if I were Diogenes, I
should extinguish my lantern, for I think I have at last
found an honest man." Then he arose, and, offering his
hand to Billot, said, "Come, brother, and take a turn with
me while this worthy fellow finishes his bottle and eats
his sausage. To insure his being a patient waiter, I will
see that they bring him something more to eat."

Sure enough, the stranger and Billot had hardly dis-
appeared before another sausage, a second loaf, and a third
bottle graced Pitou's table.

Though he did not understand what was going on, Pitou
felt surprised and anxious, and astonishment and anxiety,
like every other emotion, made Pitou's stomach feel very
hollow. He was consequently irresistibly impelled to do
honour to the viands set before him, and he was thus



152 LA COMTESSE DE CHAKNY.

engaged when Billot returned, quietly and alone, but with,
a satisfied look on his face, and resumed his seat at the
table opposite Pitou.

"Well, what's the news?" asked the latter.

"You will leave for home to-morrow, my boy."

"And you?"

"// I shall remain here," replied Billot.



The Secret Lodge.

Photogravure by Goupil et Cie., from Drawing by
Ferdinandus.



THE LODGE. 153



CHAPTER XXV.



THE LODGE.



One week after the events just related, Billot, no longer
attired in the uniform of a federate, but in the garb of a
well-to-do farmer, might have been seen wending his way
up the Rue Grenelle to the Rue Plâtrière.

Here he scrutinised each house closely until he came to
a low door surmounted by the three letters, L.P.D., traced
in red chalk, so that they could be rubbed out on the morrow.

This recessed door strongly resembled the entrance to a
cave ; for from it you descended several steps into a dark
and gloomy passage.

A faint light gleamed at the end of this narrow passage-
way, and near it sat a man reading, or pretending to read,
a newspaper.

At the sound of Billot's footsteps this man arose, placed
one finger upon his breast, and awaited the farmer's ap-
proach.

Billot held out the corresponding finger, by way of
response, and then pressed it upon his lips.

This was probably the countersign the mysterious door-
keeper expected; for he pushed open a door on his right,
— a door that was invisible when shut, — and disclosed
to Billot's view a steep narrow staircase, leading down
apparently into the very bowels of the earth.

This time the farmer counted seventeen steps before he
found himself a few feet from a doorway over which a
heavy curtain was suspended. Lifting this curtain, he
found himself in a large circular apartment, in which about
fifty persons were already assembled.



154 LA COMTESSE DE CHAENY.

As in Rousseau's time, the walls of this subterranean
chamber were hung with red and white tapestry, in which
the compass, square, and level figured conspicuously.

A single lamp hanging from the vaulted ceiling lighted
the middle of the room; the rest of the apartment was
veiled in gloom.

A platform, reached by four steps, was provided for
speakers and candidates, and upon this platform, at the
side nearest the wall, stood a desk, and also an arm-chair,
for the president's use.

In a few moments the hall became so full that it was
wellnigh impossible to move about. All sorts and condi-
tions of men, from the peasant to the prince, were repre-
sented; but each person entered alone, as Billot had done,
and each person wore under his coat or overcoat a masonic
apron, if he was simply a Mason, or the scarf of the
Enlightened Ones, if he had been initiated into the higher
ranks of the order.

In fact, only three of those present were witliout the
latter insignia, — that is, wore merely the masonic apron.
One was Billot; another, a young man about twenty-two
years of age; and the third, a man about forty -two, who
evidently belonged to the very highest rank of society.

A few seconds after the entrance of this last person men-
tioned, a secret door opened, and the president appeared,
wearing both the insignia of the Grand Orient and the
Sublime Kophta.

Billot uttered a faint cry of astonishment; for this pre-
siding officer, before whom all heads bowed, was no other
than the federal delegate Billot had met at the Bastile.

This official slowly ascended the platform, then, turning
to the assemblage, said, —

"My brothers, there are two things to be done to-day.
I have to initiate three new candidates, and also to give
an account of my work from the day I began it up to this
present time. My task becomes more difficult hourly; and
you have a right to know whether I continue to be worthy



THE LODGE. 155

of your confidence, and I to know whether I am still
honoured with it. Now, let all but the chiefs of the order
leave the hall, while we proceed to accept or reject the
three candidates who have come before us. When this
matter has been settled, all the members may return; for
it is in the presence of all that I desire to report my pro-
ceedings and receive your censure or commendation, as the
case may be."

The crowd silently dispersed through another door,
which, as it opened, disclosed to view a huge vaulted
cellar similar to the crypt of an ancient basilica; and like
a procession of phantoms the crowd silently disappeared
within these arches, which were but dimly lighted by an
occasional copper lamp.

Only three men remained in the hall. These were the
three candidates, who gazed at each other with evident
curiosity, for not until then had they known who were to
be the heroes of the occasion.

Just then the door by which the president had entered
was again opened, and six masked men came in and
stationed themselves, three on the right and three on
the left side of the presiding officer's arm-chair.

"Number Two and Number Three will withdraw for a
while. Only the Supreme Chiefs are permitted to know the
secrets of the acceptance or rejection of a brother Mason
who desires to enter the order of the Enlightened Ones,"
said the president.

The young man and the aristocratic-looking middle-
aged man stepped out into the same passage by which
they had entered the hall, leaving Billot quite alone.

"Approach," said the chairman. "What is your name?"

"François Billot."

" Where didst thou first see the light?"

"Among the friends of Truth Lodge at Soissons."

"How long hast thou been a member of the order?"

"Seven years."

"And why dost thou desire to take a higher degree?"



156 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

"Because I have been told that this degree is one step
nearer the perfect light."

"What sentiments prompt thee?"

"A love of equality and a hatred of the mighty."

"What is there to vouch for thy love of equality and
hatred of the mighty?"

"The word of a man who has never uttered an untruth."

"What inspired this love of equality in thy breast?"

"The inferior station in which I was born."

"And what aroused this hatred of the mighty?"

"That is my secret; but a secret known to you as well."

"*Wilt thou walk, and endeavour to persuade every one
around thee to walk, in the way of equality?"

"Yes."

" According to thy very best ability wilt thou endeavour
to overcome every obstacle to the freedom of France and
to the emancipation of the world? "

"I will."

The president turned to the six masked men and said,
"Brothers, this man speaks the truth; I myself invited
him to become one of us. A great sorrow binds him to our
cause; he has done much to aid the Revolution already,
and can do much more. I willingly vouch for him, as
well as for his past, his present, and his future."

"Let him be admitted," said six voices simultaneously.

"Dost thou hear?" asked the president. "Art thou
ready to take the oath?"

"Dictate the oath, and I will repeat it."

The chairman lifted his hand, and said slowly and
solemnly, —

"In the name of the Crucified One, swear to break
all carnal ties which now bind thee to father, mother,
brothers, sisters, wife, kindred, sweetheart, kings, bene-
factors, or any other being or beings to whom thou mayest
have promised obedience, gratitude, or service."

Billot repeated the words in a voice even more firm thau
that of the presiding ofi&cer.



THE LODGE. 157

"And now, from this hour, thou art released from any
so-called oath made to the country and its laws. Swear,
also, to reveal to thy chief whatever thou hast seen or done,
learned or suspected, or that thou shalt see, hear, learn,
read, or suspect."

"I swear it."

"Swear to respect and honour poison, sword, and fire, as
the prompt and necessary agents for purging the globe of
all who endeavour to debase truth."

"I swear."

" Swear to avoid Naples, Rome, Spain, and every country
under the ban. Swear, too, not to yield to the temptation
to reveal anything thou shalt see or hear at our meetings ;
for lightning is not quicker to strike than the invisible
knife to find the traitor, no matter where he may be
hidden."

"I swear."

"And now, be thou enlightened, in the name of the
Father the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

A brother concealed in the gloom opened the door lead-
ing into the crypt, and the president motioned Billot to
join those of whom he was now one through the terrible
oath he had just taken.

"Number Two," called out the president, in a loud voice.

The curtain which concealed the door leading from the
outer hall was pushed aside, and the young man dressed
in black entered.

He was about twenty -two years of age, and might have
passed for a woman, so fair and delicate was his com-
plexion ; but an enormous and closely fitting cravat — which
he alone wore at that epoch — might have suggested that the
whiteness and transparency of his skin were due to some
disease; especially as his neck seemed to be dispropor-
tionately small. His forehead was low, and the top of his
head too flat; so his hair, though it did not exceed the
fashionable length, reached nearly to his eyes in front,
and nearly to his shoulders behind.



158 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

"What is thy name among the profane?" inquired the
chairman.

"Antoine Saint- Just."

" Where didst thou iirst see the light? "

"In the lodge at Laon,"

"Thy age?"

"Five years," and the candidate made a sign to show
the degree he had attained in "Freemasonry.

"Hast thou any sponsors?"

"Two."

"Who are they?"

"Robespierre the elder and Robespierre the younger."

" Why dost thou wish to advance another degree and be
received among us?"

"Because it is the nature of man to aspire to the
highest, and because on the heights the air is purer and
the light more brilliant."

"Hast thou a model?"

"Yes, — the man of nature, the immortal Rousseau."

"What is thy dearest ambition in life?"

" To lead France on to freedom, and to emancipate the
world."

"What wouldst thou give to achieve this?"

"My life, which is all I possess now, having already
given my fortune."

" Wilt thou walk, and persuade those about thee to walk,
in this path according to thy best knowledge and ability? "

"I will."

"Wilt thou do thy best to overthrow each and every
obstacle that stands in the way?"

"I will."

"Art thou free from all entanglements? and if not, wilt
thou break them?"

"I am free."

The president turned to the six masked men and said, —

"Have you heard, brethren?"

"Yes," the six men responded, as with one accord.



THE LODGE. 159

"Has he spoken the truth?"

"Yes."

"Is it your opinion that he should be admitted?"

"Yes," they answered, for the third and last time.

"Art thou ready to take the oath?" asked the president.

"I am ready."

The president repeated the oath he had just administered
to Billot, word for word, and to each interrogation Saint-
Just responded emphatically, "I swear."

The president only waited for the door to close upon
Saint-Just's retreating form before summoning Number
Three.

As we have remarked before, Number Three was a man
about forty or forty -two years of age, with a florid, rather
pimpled face, but endowed, in spite of these signs of vul-
garity, with an unmistakably aristocratic air, in which
a slight tendency to Anglomania was clearly apparent.
His attire, too, though elegant, was characterised by
considerable of the severity of style which was becoming
fashionable in France at that time, and which was probably
due in no slight degree to that country's relations with
America.

"Approach."

The candidate obeyed with a rather vacillating and un-
even tread.

"What is thy name among the profane?"

"Louis Philippe Joseph, Duke of Orleans."

"What is thy name among the elect?"

"Equality."

" Where didst thou first see the light?"

"In the lodge of Free Men, here in Paris."

" Why dost thou desire to be received among us? "

"Having always lived among the great, I desire now to
live among wera."

" Hast thou sponsors? "

"Two, — disgust and hatred."

" For what special object dost thou desire to enter upon
the path before thee?"



160 LA COMTESSE DE CIÎAKNY.

"A desire for revenge prompts me."

"Kevenge upon whom?"

" Upon a man who has misjudged me, and upon a woman
who has humiliated me."

"What art thou willing to sacrifice to accomplish this
object?"

"My fortune, my very life if need be, and more than
that, — my honour."

*' Art thou free from all entanglements? or if thou hast
made any pledge conflicting with the obligations thou art
about to assume, wilt thou break it?"

"Every bond has been broken since yesterday."

"Do you hear, my brothers? and do you know this man
who offers himself as a co-labourer with us?"

"Yes."

"Knowing him, do you approve of his admission to our
ranks?"

"Yes; but he must take the oath."

"Knowest thou the oath that thou must take?" said the
president, addressing the candidate this time.

"No; but repeat it, and I will take it, whatsoever it
may be."

"It is a terrible oath, especially for thee."

"No more terrible than the outrages to which I have
been subjected."

" Nevertheless, it is so terrible that we declare thee free
to depart, if, after having heard it, thou feelest even at
this last moment that thou mayest not be able to keep it in
all its rigour."

"Repeat the oath."

The president fixed his eyes searchingly on the candi-
date; then, as if to prepare him gradually, he reversed the
usual order of the clauses, beginning with the second
instead of with the first.

"Swear to honour steel, fire, and poison as the sure,
prompt, and necessary agents for purging the globe of those
who seek to debase truth or wrest it from us."



THE LODGE. 161

"I swear," responded the prince, firmly.

" Swear to break all carnal ties which still bind thee to
father, mother, brothers, sisters, wife, sweetheart, kin-
dred, friends, benefactors, kings, or any other human being
to whom thou mayest have promised fidelity, obedience,
gratitude, or service."

The duke was silent for a moment. Big drops of cold
sweat could be seen standing on his brow.

"I have repeated the oath to thee," said the president.

But instead of simply responding, "I swear," as in the
previous instance, the duke, as if to deprive himself of any
possible loophole of escape afterwards, repeated the entire
oath in a gloomy, even sullen tone: "I swear to break all
carnal ties which still bind me to father, mother, brothers,
sisters, wife, sweetheart, kindred, friends, benefactors,
kings, or any other human being to whom I may have
promised fidelity, obedience, gratitude, or service."

The president exchanged another glance with the masked
men, whose eyes could be seen flashing through their masks
as they gazed at one another; then, turning to the prince,
he said, —

"Louis Philippe Joseph, from this hour thou art re-
leased from any oath thou mayest have made to king or
country in the past. Only do not forget, if thou shouldest
betray us, the lightning is not more swift to strike than
the inevitable and invisible knife will be to find thy heart,
wheresoever thou mayest be hidden. Now, be thou
enlightened, in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost."

Again the door leading into the crypt opened, and the
duke passed his hand over his brow and drew a long
breath, like a man relieved of an intolerable burden.

" Ah ! " he muttered, as he stepped into the crypt, '* now
I shall indeed be avenged."

VOL. II. — 11



162 LA COMTESSE DE CHAKNY.



CHAPTER XXVI.



RENDERING AN ACCOUNT.



The chairman and liis six masked companions interchanged
a few words in a low tone ; then Cagliostro said aloud :

"Let all the brethren enter; I am ready to give the
report I promised."

The door was immediately opened, and all the members
of the society re-entered the hall. The door had hardly
closed behind the last member before Cagliostro, like a
man who appreciated the value of time, and was unwilling
to lose a second of it, raised his hand, and said, —

''Brethren, it is quite possible that some among you
attended a meeting which took place exactly twenty years
ago, in a mountain cave two miles from Danenfels, on the
banks of the Rhine. If any among you were present at
that time, will these venerable defenders of our great
cause raise their hands and say so?"

Five or six hands were raised, and five or six voices
exclaimed, "I was there."

"That is all that is necessary," remarked the speaker.
"The others are dead, or scattered over the face of the
earth, doing the work of our brotherhood. Twenty years
ago this work was hardly begun. The light of the new
day, now so dazzling in its brightness, was then scarcely
discernible in the eastern sky.

"Since that time we have seen various European com-
munities struggle valiantly for liberty; among them we
may mention Rome, Venice, Florence, Switzerland, Genoa,
Pisa, and Lucca. These cities of the South, where the
flowers open so quickly and fruits ripen so early, have



RENDERING AN ACCOUNT. 163

made a series of experiments in the establishment of
republics, only two or three of which have survived until
the present day.

" But all these republics were tainted with some inherent
sin. Some were too aristocratic in their nature, some too
oligarchical, some too despotic. Genoa, for example, one
of the few which still survive, is thoroughly impregnated
with aristocratic ideas. True, all her citizens are equals
within her walls, but they consider themselves noblemen
everywhere else. The Swiss are the most thoroughly
democratic in their institutions; but their small cantons,
hidden away in the mountains, are of little assistance in
establishing a precedent for the human race.

" The great necessity now is a great and powerful country,
which will not only struggle for freedom herself, but
impart a desire for freedom to other lands.

"I turn to God, the Creator of all things, the Source of
all true progress, for enlightenment, and I see His finger
pointing to France; for we must not forget that God him-
self, through the occupants of the papal chair, has called
France His eldest daughter, thereby indicating her right in
a great crisis to offer herself on the cross for humanity's
sake, as our Lord Himself did. France, too, having tried
all forms of despotic government, — feudal, monarchical,
and aristocratic, — seemed likely to prove most amenable
to our influence; so we decided that France should be the
first country liberated.

"Cast a glance at the France of twenty years ago, and
you will realise the audacity of such an undertaking.
Twenty years ago, even in the weak hands of Louis XV,,
France was still the France of Louis XIV., — that is to
say, a kingdom where all the rights belonged to the nobles,
and all the privileges to the rich. At the head of the state
was a man who had the power to raise men to wealth or
reduce them to poverty, to make them happy or miserable,
to imprison them or set them free, to allow them to live
or to condemn them to death.



164 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

"This man had three grandsons; and fate so willed it
that Louis XVI,, his successor, was not only designated
for that position by primogeniture, but by the voice of the
people as well, — if the people could be said to have any
voice at that time. He was reputed to be good, moral,
just, unselfish, and well educated. In order to put an end
to the disastrous wars caused by the unfortunate succession
of Charles II., the wife chosen for this prince was the
daughter of Maria Theresa.

"The question was. Who should enter this lion's den?
What Christian Theseus, guided by the torch of faith,
should endeavour to find his way through the labyrinth
and confront the royal Minotaur? Upon whom was this
task to devolve? Upon me, I answered; and when some
ardent souls asked how long a time would be required
for the first part of my work, which I divided into three
different periods, I asked for twenty years. They ex-
claimed at this. Do you understand why? For twenty
centuries these men had been slaves or serfs, and they
cried out in dismay when I asked for twenty years to con-
vert them into free men."

Cagliostro glanced around at his auditors, among whom
his last words had excited many ironical smiles, then he
continued, —

"Finally, the brethren granted me the twenty years I
asked for, and I gave them our notable device, Lilia
pedibus destrue,'^ and set to work.

"I came to France through the shadow of triumphal
arches. The road from Strasburg to Paris was a path-
way of laurel and roses. Everybody was shouting, * Long
live the dauphiness, the future queen of France ! '

"And now, brethren, see what has been accomplished in
twenty years.

"The Parliaments have been dissolved; Louis XV., once

1 " Trample the lilies under foot ; " the idea involved being the destrnc-
tion of the French monarchy, whose emblem — the fleur-de-lis — always
figured upon the banners, shields, and arms of the Bourbon dynasty.



EENDEKING AN ACCOUNT. 165

called the Well Beloved, is dead: he died hated and
despised.

"The queen, barren for seven years, at last gave birth
to children whose legitimacy is strongly disputed. At
the time of the dauphin's birth her character was openly
assailed; and as a wife she was disgraced by the affair of
the Diamond Necklace.

" The present king, bearing the title of Louis the Long-
Desired, having the kingdom to sustain, but being utterly
incompetent for the task, rushed from one Utopian scheme
into another until he reached bankruptcy, and from min-
ister to minister until he reached Calonne.

"The Assembly of Notables was convened, and insisted
upon the recognition of the States-General, — the rank and
file of the community. The States-General, elected by the
people, resolved themselves into the National Assembly,
and the nobility and clergy are dominated in it by the
members of the Third Estate.

"The Bastile is demolished, and the foreign hirelings
have been driven from Paris to Versailles.

" The fourth of August showed the aristocrats that their
doom was sealed; the fifth and sixth of October showed
the king and queen that the monarchy was a thing of the
past.

" The fourteenth of July, in the year following, showed
the world that France was almost a unit.

" The other royal princes have made themselves equally
unpopular by emigration, and Monsieur, too, by the trial
and conviction of Favras.

" The Constitution has been enthusiastically adopted, the
president of the National Assembly occupying a throne
equal in every respect to that of the king.

" Brothers, has not France become what I predicted, —
a sun to illumine the world?"

" Yes, yes ! " cried each and every auditor.

"And now, my brethren, do you think the work so far
advanced that it can be left to take care of itself? The



166 LA COMTESSE DE CHAENT.

Constitution has been accepted; but do you believe we can
trust the king's oath?"

"jSTo, no! " shouted every voice.

" Then we must enter upon the second stage of the great


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