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measures that were not sanctioned by the king.

Who knows what other concessions he might have
obtained, but for that widely-distributed brochure entitled,
"Mirabeau's Treachery."

After the session was over, Mirabeau narrowly escaped
being torn in pieces ; Baruave, on the contrary, was borne
away in triumph by the people.

Poor Barnave ! the day was not far distant when he,
in turn, would hear a cry of "Monsieur Barnave's
Treachery."



THE ELIXIR OF LIFE. 95



CHAPTER XVI.



THE ELIXIR OF LIFE.



Mirabeau left the Assembly with head proudly erect,
and flashing eyes. So long as he was in the presence of
danger, he thought only of the task before him , not of his
own strength.

In this respect he resembled Marshal Saxe at the battle
of Fontenoy. Weak and ill, Saxe remained all day in the
saddle, firmer than the bravest soldier in his command; but
when the English ranks were broken, and their army was
in full retreat, he fell dying upon the field he had won.

It was the same with Mirabeau. On his return home
he sank down exhausted upon a pile of cushions in the
midst of a profusion of flowers; for Mirabeau had two
passions, — women and flowers.

Since the beginning of the session his health had under-
gone a decided change for the worse. Notwithstanding
his vigorous constitution, he had suffered much, both
physically and mentally, from persecution and imprison-
ment; so for years he had not known what it was to be
well.

This time he felt that his condition was even more
critical than usual, and he offered little or no opposition
when his lackey urged the necessity of sending for a phy-
sician. They were still discussing the matter, however,
when the bell rang, and Doctor Gilbert was ushered into
the room.

"I could not go home without congratulating you, my
dear count," said Gilbert. "You promised me a victory
to-day; you did better than that, — you achieved a
triumph."



96 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

"Yes; but you see that though it may have been a
triumph, it was won at as terrible a cost as that of
Pyrrhus. One more such triumph, doctor, and I am a
dead man."

Gilbert looked at Mirabeau.

"Yes; there is no doubt about it. You are ill," he
remarked.

"Yes; anybody else who lived as I live would have
died a hundred times," replied Mirabeau, shrugging his
shoulders. "I have two secretaries; they are both over-
worked. Pelliric, especially, — whose business it is to copy
the loose sheets covered with my abominable chirography,
— has been sick in bed three days ; and I can't get along
without him, because he alone can decipher my scrawls and
understand my meaning. Doctor, give me something, — I
don't say to make me live, but to give me strength while
I do live."

"What can you expect?" said Gilbert, after he had felt
the sick man's pulse. "There is no advice one can give
to a person with an organisation like yours. How is one
to recommend rest to a man who finds strength only in
action; or temperance to a genius which flourishes only in
the midst of excesses? If I advise the removal of these
flowers, which emit oyxgen by day and carbonic acid by
night, — why, flowers have become a necessity to you, and
you suffer more from their absence than their presence. If
I warn you to shun the society of ladies as well as the
floAvers, you say you would rather die. Live on, then,
count, according to your taste; but indulge only in scent-
less flowers and platonic affections."

"That last bit of advice is hardly needed, my dear
doctor. Three j^ears in prison, one death sentence, the
suicide of the woman whom I loved, but who killed her-
self for the sake of another man, have cured me of any
ambition of that sort. For a brief instant, as I told you,
I dreamed of an alliance like that between Elizabeth and
Essex, between Anne of Austria and Mazarin; but it



THE ELIXIR OF LIFE. 97

»vas only a dream, and the woman for whose sake I have
struggled, I have not seen since that interview, and shall
probably never see again. Ah, Gilbert, there is no torture
so great as the feeling that one carries gigantic projects
in one's brain, — the prosperity of a kingdom, the fate of
one's friends, the annihilation of one's enemies, and that
a single throw of the dice may ruin them all ! Oh, the
follies of my 3'outh ! How bitterly I have had to atone for
them! Why do the royal family distrust me so? Except
on one or two occasions, when I was driven to the wall,
and compelled to strike back in self-defence, have I not
been on their side from the first to the last? Did I not
contend for the king's right to an absolute veto, when
Monsieur Keeker was content with a provisional one? Did
I not oppose the proceedings of the night of the fourth of
August, when the nobility were deprived of their privi-
leges? To-day — yes, even to-day — have I not served
royalty far beyond its deserts? Have I not secured for
it what no other person, be he prince or cabinet minister,
could have secured; and have I not done this at the ex-
pense of my reputation, my popularity, my very life?
And what recompense have I received? Once, and only
once, I have been allowed to speak to the queen. Yet,
now I think of it, if my father had not died so short a
while before the taking of the Bastile, and if common
decency had not prevented me from appearing in public
the second day after his death, — the day Lafayette was
appointed commander of the National Guard, and Bailly
was made mayor of Paris, — I should unquestionably have
been chosen mayor instead of Bailly. What a change this
would have made in the state of things! In that case the
king would have seen the necessity of keeping on good
terms with me, and I should have inspired him with
entirely different feelings towards a city which is really
the revolutionary centre of our land. I should have won
his confidence, and induced him, before the evil became
too deeply seated, to adopt decisive as well as preventive

VOL. II. — 7



98 LA COMTESSE DE CHAENY.

measures. Instead, I am merely a deputy, — a suspected,
much-feared, much-hated man, — kept away from the king,
and basely slandered to the queen. Do you know, doctor,
that when she met me at St. Cloud she positively turned
pale? It is easy enough to understand the reason. Has
she not been led to believe that I caused the horrors of
the fifth and sixth of October? And yet, during all this
past year, I have endeavoured to do everything it was in
the power of man to do; but to-day, ah, to-day, both for
the safety of the monarchy and myself, I fear it is too
late!»

His face contracted with pain as he uttered the conclud-
ing words.

"You are suffering, count," remarked Gilbert.

"The agonies of the damned. There are days when I
am almost tempted to believe that my enemies are slowly
but surely poisoning me. Do you believe in the aqua
tofana of Perouse, the famous Inheritance Powder of La-
voisin, and the Borgia poisons, doctor? " asked Mirabeau,
smiling.

"No, but I believe in the fiery steel that wears out its
scabbard; in the lamp whose expanding flame shatters its
globe," replied Gilbert; and as he spoke he drew a small
vial, containing a couple of thimblefuls of greenish liquid,
from his pocket.

"Come, count, suppose we try an experiment," he added.

"What is it?" asked Mirabeau.

"One of my friends, — and I wish he were one of yours
as well, — a man thoroughly conversant with all the natural
sciences, and with occult science too, he claims, has given
me the recipe for this decoction as a sovereign antidote, an
infallible panacea for all human ills, — an elixir of life, as
it were. Will you try it? "

" I would take anything, even the deadly hemlock, from
your hand, my dear doctor. Does it require any prepara-
tion, or do you take it clear? "

"No; for this preparation is very powerful. Tell your



THE ELIXIR OF LIFE. 99

servant to bring you a few drops of brandy or spirits of
wine in a spoon."

" The deuce ! It must be liquid fire, if brandy and spirits
of wine are needed to dilute your preparation. I did n't
suppose any one had drunk such a beverage since Prome-
theus administered it to the great ancestor of the human
race. I warn you, though, that my lackey may not be
able to find a dozen drops of brandy in the house. I do
not derive my eloquence from that source, as they say Pitt
does his."

The lackey returned a few minutes later, however, with
a spoon containing five or six drops of brandy.

To this Gilbert added about an equal quantity of liquid
from the vial. As soon as the two combined they became
the colour of absinthe. Mirabeau seized the spoon, and
hastily swallowed its contents.

^'Morbleu! doctor," he exclaimed, "you did well to warn
me that your drug was so powerful. It seems to me that
I have literally swallowed lightning."

Gilbert smiled; he seemed to feel entire confidence in
the efficacy of his remedy.

Mirabeau stood for a moment as if he were being con-
sumed by the fiery fluid. His head drooped upon his
breast, and he pressed his hands upon his stomach; but
suddenly he raised his head and said, "Ah, doctor, it is
indeed the elixir of life that you just made me drink."

Then springing up, and inhaling a deep breath, and
stretching out his arms, he added, "Now, even though the
monarchy is tottering, I feel that I have strength enough
to sustain it."

"You feel better, then?" asked Gilbert, smiling.

" Tell me where they sell this decoction, doctor. I 'd
have that fiery liquid, though I had to give a diamond
of equal size for every drop of it, and renounce every
other luxury of life; for I feel that it would make me
invincible."

"Promise me, count, that you will not take this remedy



100 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

more than twice a week, and to apply to no one but myself
for a renewal of your supply, and this little bottle is
yours."

"Give it to me, and I will promise anything you wish."

"Good! but that is not all. You think of purchasing a
carriage and horses, you said just now."

"Yes."

" Then take a house in the country. These flowers which
vitiate the air of your rooms would purify the air of your
garden. The daily drives to and from Paris would also be
very beneficial to you. Select a residence, too, on high
ground, if possible on the edge of a forest or near a river,
— at Bellevue, St. Germain, or Argenteuil, say."

"At Argenteuil? Why, that would be the very thing.
I sent my man out to look me up a house there the other
day. Didn't you tell me, Teisch, that you had found
something at Argenteuil which you thought would just
suit me?"

"Yes, monsieur," replied the man, who had been waiting
on the doctor. " Yes ; a very lovely house a countryman of
mine spoke to me about. It seems he lived there formerly
with his master, a foreign banker. It is vacant now, and
monsieur can take possession of it whenever he pleases."

"Where is it?"

"Just out of Argenteuil. It is called the Château
Marais."

"Oh, I know the house well," said Mirabeau. "When
my father drove me from home with his curse and several
soimd blows of his cane, he was living at Argenteuil,
and I often used to walk up and down in front of that
same beautiful house and exclaim, with Horace, rus,
quando te asinciarn ! "

" Well, the time for realising this dream of your youth
has come. Take the house, and transport your household
to it, — the sooner the better."

Mirabeau reflected a moment; then, turning to Gilbert,
said, —



THE ELIXIK OF LIFE. 101

" It is certainly your duty to watch over the invalid you
have restored to life. It is only five o'clock, and the days
are now at their longest. The weather, too, is exception-
ally fine. Drive out to Argenteuil with me."

"So be it. When one assumes charge of anything so
precious as your health, count, no possible precaution
should be neglected. Let us go and take a good look at
your villa."



102 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.



CHAPTER XVII.

THERE IS NO RELATIONSHIP BEYOND THE FOURTH DEGREE.

It was in Argenteuil that Mirabeau's father died, on July
11, 1789, like a true nobleman who would not consent to
live to witness the taking of the Bastile.

On reaching the end of the Argenteuil bridge, Mirabeau
ordered the coachman to pause.

"Have we reached our destination?" inquired the
doctor.

"Yes and no. We have not reached the Château du
Marais, — that is a mile or two the other side of Argen-
teuil ; but we are making to-day, my dear doctor, a sort of
pilgrimage, — a pilgrimage of three stations."

"A pilgrimage? To the shrine of what saint?"

"Saint Riquetti, my dear doctor; though I doubt very
much if God has ratified the canonisation of man in this
case. Still, it is none the less true that here died Riquetti,
Marquis de Mirabeau, — the Friend of Mankind, as he
was called, a martyr to the extravagance and debauchery
of his unworthy son, Honoré Gabriel Victor Riquetti,
Comte de Mirabeau."

"True; though I had forgotten the fact. That is not
strange, however, as I was a prisoner in the Bastile at the
time. Where did your father live?"

They had alighted from the carriage, and, as Gilbert
asked the question, they were standing directly in front of
a mansion situated on the pier, and facing the river, from
which it was separated only by a small lawn and a row of
trees.

Seeing strangers stop in front of the gate, an enormous
dog sprang forward, growling ominously, and thrust his



XO RELATIONSHIP BEYOND THE FOURTH DEGREE. 103

head between the bars, trying to grab a mouthful of ]\[iia-
beau's flesh, or at least a fragment of his coat.

"Heavens! doctor," exclaimed Mirabeau, retreating a
step to escape the sharp white teeth of the dog, " nothing
is changed. I am received exactly as if my father were
alive."

Just then a youth appeared, who, after silencing the
dog, advanced towards the strangers.

"Pray do not consider the inmates of the house respon-
sible for the unfriendly reception their dog has given you,
gentlemen," said the young man. "Many persons stop
in front of this house, which was once occupied by the
Marquis de Mirabeau; and as our poor Cartouche does not
understand the historic interest which attaches to the
spot, he is for ever growling. — Get back to your kennel,
Cartouche ! "

The young man made a threatening gesture, and the dog
sullenly retreated to his house,

"And now, gentlemen, I should be pleased to open the
door and welcome you, if your interest is not confined to
the exterior of the dwelling," continued the young man.

"You have read our thoughts exactly, monsieur," replied
Mirabeau. "Knowing that this house was formerly occu-
pied by the so-called Friend of Mankind, we are anxious
to see it."

"And it may increase your interest to know that while
the father resided here, the house was honoured on two or
three occasions by visits from his illustrious son, who, if
we may believe hearsay, was not always received as he
deserved to be, and as we would receive him if he should
ever evince the same desire which you express, and which
I am only too glad to gratify."

As he spoke he unfastened the gate, admitted the two
visitors, and was about to lead the way to the house; but
Cartouche did not seem inclined to let the strangers accept
the proffered hospitality, for he again sprang out of his
kennel, barking furiously.



104 LA COMTESSE DE CHAKNY.

The young man threw himself between the dog and
Mirabeau, to whom the animal seemed to have taken a
special dislike; but Mirabeau gently pushed the youth
aside.

"Dogs and men always bark at me," he remarked quietly;
"but though men have bitten me, no dog ever has. It is
said that the human eye has a strange power in such cases;
so, if you will allow me, I '11 try an experiment."

" I warn you that Cartouche is not to be trusted, mon-
sieur," said the young man, hastily.

^'ISTever mind, monsieur ; I have to deal with more
ferocious beasts than Cartouche every day, so you need
have no fears."

"Yes; but you can talk to those other hounds," inter-
posed Gilbert, "and no one can doubt the power of your
eloquence."

"I thought you were a strong believer in magnetism,
doctor?"

"So I am."

"Then you certainly cannot doubt the power of the
human eye as well. Let me magnetise Cartouche."

"Try It," said Gilbert.

"Don't expose yourself, monsieur," pleaded the young
man.

"By your leave," said Mirabeau.

The young man bowed a reluctant assent, and stepped a
little to one side. Gilbert did the same, and the two stood
as if they were about to witness a duel between some
friend and a bloodthirsty opponent.

The dog moved his head from right to left, as if to take
a good look at his enemy, and satisfy himself that he was
cut off from all assistance; then, seeing him alone and
defenceless, he crawled slowly out of his kennel, more
after the manner of a serpent than a quadruped, then
suddenly leaped forward, clearing about one-third of the
space between him and his adversary at a single bound.

Mirabeau folded his arms upon his breast, and with that



NO RELATIONSHIP BEYOND THE FOURTH DEGREE. 105

intense and powerful gaze which won him the appellation
of the Jupiter of the rostrum, he fixed his eyes on the
animal. All the electricity in his powerful body seemed
to concentrate itself in his countenance. His hair bristled
like a lion's mane; and if it had been later in the evening,
and consequently darker, one would doubtless have seen
each hair glittering with electric fire.

The dog stopped short and looked at him. Mirabeau
stooped, and, hastily catching up a handful of gravel, threw
it straight in the animal's face.

The angry dog growled, and made another spring, which
brought him within about four feet of his adversary; but
next time it was the man that advanced towards the dog,
who, evidently alarmed by Mirabeau's steady approach,
crouched on his hind legs, though his teeth and eyes still
gleamed ominously. At last Mirabeau raised his arm with
a commanding gesture, — the same he was wont to use
when he hurled sarcasm and invective upon his opponents
from the tribune; whereupon the conquered dog, trem-
bling in every limb, drew back, then, glancing behind him
to see if retreat was still possible, suddenly turned tail
and darted back into his kennel.

Mirabeau threw back his head, as proud and delighted as
any victor in the games of ancient Greece.

"Ah, doctor," he remarked, "my father was quite right
in saying that dogs were true types of humanity. You
shall see this cowardly bully become as cringing as any
man. Here, Cartouche, here!"

The dog hesitated; but as his conqueror made an imperi-
ous gesture, he again crawled out of his kennel, and, with
his eyes fixed on Mirabeau's face, crossed the intervening
space until he reached the great orator's feet; then, slowly
and timidly raising his head, he licked the tips of his
conqueror's fingers with his red and quivering tongue.

"That's right," said Mirabeau. "Now back to your
house;" and at a sign from him the dog went back and
stretched himself out on the straw.



106 LA COMTESSE DE CHARNY.

" Do you know what I was thinking of when I indulged
in that piece of nonsense just now?" Mirabeau asked,
turning to Gilbert.

" No; but you did not act as you did out of mere bravado,
I am sure."

" I was thinking of that eventful night of the fifth and
sixth of October; and, doctor, I would give half the re-
maining years of my life for Louis XVI. to have seen that
dog spring at me, slink back to his kennel, and then come
out and lick my hand." Then, turning to the young man,
he added, "You will pardon me for having thus humiliated
Cartouche, I trust. Now let us inspect the former abode
of the Friend of Mankind, as you are kind enough to offer
to show it to us."

With the spirit of domination habitual to him, Mirabeau
immediately ceased to be a mere spectator, and became the
chief actor in the scene. One would have supposed him to
be the master of the house, in fact, instead of a visitor.

The youth who had admitted them summoned his father;
and, while the latter was listening to the story of Car-
touche's subjugation, Mirabeau showed Gilbert the study
and bedroom occupied by the former owner; and as each
nook and corner awakened some recollection, Mirabeau
related anecdote after anecdote, with that wonderful power
of narration for which he was famous.

The tour of inspection was consequently not concluded
until the bell of the neighbouring church struck the hour
of seven, warning them how fast the time was passing; so
Mirabeau declared that they must leave immediately, and
he himself set the example by leaping down the first four
steps to a turn in the staircase.

"You seem to be so familiar with the history of the late
marquis and his illustrious son," remarked their host,
"that I fancy you could tell us the story about those four
steps, if you were so inclined."

"True; but I intended to pass that by in silence," re~
plied Mirabeau.



NO RELATIONSHIP BEYOND THE FOURTH DEGREE. 107

"And why?" inquired the doctor.

"You shall judge. After escaping from his dungeon at
Vincennes, where he had been a prisoner eighteen months,
the younger Mirabeau, being twice the age of the Prodigal
Son, but perceiving no preparations for killing the fatted
calf in delight over his return, took it into his head to
come here and claim his rights. But he was not at all
welcome, for two reasons. In the first place, he had come
from Vincennes against his father's wishes; and, in the
second place, he came to ask for money. The consequence
was that the old marquis, who was engaged in putting the
finishing touches to some philauthropical dissertation,
sprang up, and, seizing his cane, rushed upon his son as
soon as the word ' money ' was mentioned. The young
count knew his father well, but had hoped that his thirty -
seven years might protect him from corporal punishment, to
say the least ; but he saw his mistake when he felt a shower
of blows from the cane descend upon his shoulders."

"What! blows from a cane?'" exclaimed Gilbert.

" Yes, and good round blows, too ; not such as you see dealt
at the Comédie Française, but real blows, — quite powerful
enough to split one's head open and break one's bones."

" And what did the son do? "

"Do? He did what Horace did in his first battle, —
ran away, clearing these first four steps at a single bound,
as I did just now. On the landing he paused a moment,
however, and, lifting his cane, in turn, like his father,
exclaimed, 'Look out, monsieur; there is no relationship
below the fourth step ! ' It was a very poor pun, this
comparison of the steps of a stairway to the different
grades or degrees of relationship, but it stopped the old
marquis all the same; for he said, 'What a pity the bailiff,'
meaning his brother, ' is dead! I 'd like to tell him that.'
Mirabeau was too shrewd not to take advantage of this
opportunity to beat a retreat, and he never entered the
house again during his father's lifetime. The count was a
great scoundrel, was n't he ? "



108 LA COMTESSE DE CHAENY.

"Oh, monsieur," exclaimed the youth who had admitted
them, clasping his hands as if asking forgiveness for thus
differing from his guest, " I should call him rather a great
man."

" Ah, ha ! then there are really some people in the world
who think well of Mirabeau? "

"Yes, monsieur; and even at the risk of displeasing you,
I must say that I am one of them."

"Don't say that aloud in this house, though," replied
Mirabeau, laughing, "or the walls may tumble down about
your ears."

Bidding his host a courteous farewell, Mirabeau crossed
the courtyard, making a sign of good-will to Cartouche,
and ordered the coachman to drive them to the church ; but
at the corner of the first street they came to he stopped
the carriage, and said to his servant, "Teisch, take this
card back to that young man who disagrees with me in my
opinion of Monsieur de Mirabeau."

A few minutes afterwards ïeisch returned, accompanied
by the youth.

"Oh, Monsieur de Mirabeau!" he exclaimed, in accents
of profound admiration, "grant me the same privilege you
granted Cartouche, — that of kissing your hand."

Mirabeau opened his arms and pressed the youth to his
heart.

" Count, my name is Mornais," the young man exclaimed
brokenly; "and if you ever need the aid of one who would
gladly die for you, call upon me."

Mirabeau's eyes filled with tears.

"Ah, doctor, this is one of the men who are to come
after us," he cried. "Upon my word, I believe they will
be far nobler men than we are."



A LADY EESEMBLING THE QUEEN. 109



CHAPTER XVIII.



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