THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE
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THE SECRET MEMOIRS OF THE
DUG DE ROQUELAURE WRITTEN
BY HIMSELF NOW FOR THE FIRST
TIME COMPLETELY TRANSLATED
INTO ENGLISH IN FOUR VOLUMES
How M. de Gondy's amour with Madame de Longueville
ended Continuation of our troubles Louis XIV. will
repair all our misfortunes Let us have patience A
new passion The cheats M. de Guiraudel Tricks at
play Two hundred at piquet Tit for tat Madame
d'Entraguesand Mademoiselle de Gournay The honour
of these ladies A flippancy that I cannot help passing
upon them A quarrel An indiscreet word hurled by a
wife at her husband's head How to redeem the situa-
tion It will be hard An inspiration The silliest means
are often the best Proof in support of that axiom My
conversation with M. de Villevort A very flattering
explanation of a very gross insult Whereby it is shown
that a deceived husband may be the proudest and
happiest man in the world Sleight-of-hand Apologies
An innocent. . I
The Comte de Bussy-Rabutin A fete at his chateau
Description The play and the ball A surprise The
masquerade An enchanted night A forgotten chapter
in the Histoire Amoureuse des Gaules The fair Greek
Rivalry A gallant quarrel between the Count du
Lude and me Wordy provocations The best explana-
tions are given at the sword's point A swoon The
Marquis de Sevigne Treaty on the field of battle A
strange way of peacemaking We are fooled Du Lude
is more easily consqled than I am Sevigne in good
luck I yield to a curiosity that thoughtful people may
disapprove of The dawn A very strange sight A
love-scene an naturel The thicket Happy Sevigne !
have never assisted at such a rare diversion Prudent
meditations upon love Art and nature A parallel
An unexpected development Matters take an ill turn
The dangers of travesties A miserable time Advice to
faithless husbands How poor a figure the seducer cut
My prophecy of the consequences of the affair My
clever retreat without beating of drum or blowing 01
trumpet, in company of Cascarel My confidences with
Madame de Sevigne 24
Amende honorable I repair some omissions Looking back
Monsieur's campaign The siege of Mardik The im-
patience of an unemployed soldier I am at last included
in a new undertaking The siege of Bourbourg Mon-
sieur de Rantzau We march upon Courtray The
lengthy resistance encountered at this town Arrival of
the Due d'Enghien Monsieur congratulates me I am
appointed lieutenant-general An excursion to Amster-
dam Dutch fog I look for loveliness in vain I flee
Mezieres An hour at church Abbe Truguet's sermon
Awkward consideration propounded by a hunchback
The Abbe's cleverness My journey to Compiegne
Visit to M. de R* * * The forest The fair traveller A
mad impulse The truth as a compliment Audaces
for tuna juvat A reward What I learned from M.
de R * * * Madame du Hallier Her lawsuit with the
Baron d'Herouville An old lady's amours Challenge
and retort I mean to kill d'Herouville A convincing
reason which prevents me The results of a kiss
Rebellion in the provinces Siege of Bordeaux Attack
on the Faubourg Saint-Severin 54
Madame de Lesdiguieres We revert to the past A fool! !
What the word means in a woman's mouth Serious
enquiry into the subject Description of M. de Les-
diguicres Self-satisfaction Danger of playing with fire
A genuine passion Roses and thorns Discourage-
ments A cruel jest Despair Anger A letter and the
answer Impertinence paid out I abandon the ground
A retreat half in sorrow and half in anger I take refuge
with the Jesuits of Beauvais The Reverend Father
Daniel A new Saint Augustine Religious discussions
that have little to do with my state of mind Pious
recommendations of Father Daniel Jansenius, what
have I to do with thee ? I leave the monastery Con-
sequences of a luckless passion Vagrant follies I take
no more account of my actions Guilty errors . . 79
I fall ill A fixed idea Walks at Les Feuillants My love
objects to severe discipline Torments of jealousy A
gleam of hope A torchlight hunt The piqueur The
supposed lackey Madame de Lesdiguieres is queen of
the fete A compliment on my livery A woman between
two admirers Obscure allusions The flight A race
Biran and Rambouillet are conquered A terrible
incident The runaway horse Close to death A provi-
dential rescue Madame de Lesdiguieres and her saviour
The reconciliation All places are good for declaring
oneself in Unexpected progress A. tried friendship
A singular service is demanded of me The private
secretary A trait of heroism Enough to turn one's
head A love message 97
A walk by night in the streets of Paris Charamande, forte-
parasol to Cardinal de Richelieu A way of killing time
A night with Ninon Masquerades M. de Segrais,
Mademoiselle's poet The page of Henry II. A saraband
M. de Segrais enamoured A singular taste Is it a
girl or is it a boy? M. de Segrais takes his chance-
Boldness rewarded Mademoiselle Desoeuillets A
madrigal in a plate M. de Rambouillet's joke Piquet
between M. de Choiseul and Bautru Luck M. de
Larochefoucauld intervenes A new kind of bet How
Bautru won five hundred louis from M. de Laroche-
foucauld I try to forget my troubles in sleep The
stroke of noon A pleasant surprise . . . . 1 19
What happened to me at a performance of Eurydice The
Chevalier de Ponceville His insolence A challenge A
meeting behind the Innocents A farcical duel How M.
de Ponceville made me travel One foot in the cemetery
A jest in lieu of a thrust A last word about the
Duchesse de Lesdiguieres The true and lamentable
history of the Baroness de Preverenge Sketch of her
husband Genealogist and huntsman What a man may
learn while he is quietly walking among the hills Pierre
Gibaut the spy A trafficker in secrets How De Preve-
renge paid for the services of his majordomo The abyss
The Chevalier de Puy-Robert The obliging husband
A genial repast Tragi-comedy Singular imagination
of a husband in extremities A mistress shared A
favour valued at two hundred ducats A lover shown
out Between husband and wife The refinement of
Continuation and close of the history of the Baroness de
Preverenge Disquieting duration of my amour with
Madame de Lesdiguieres The poet N * * *'s little
adventure with Ninon de Lenclos The persistent
rhymester Contest of gallantry How Ninon received
a quatrain by N * * * Whereby it is shown that a poet
is not easily discouraged A fresh quatrain Boldness
rewarded My visit to the convent of the Ursulines at
Lectoure An unexpected meeting An old quarrel A
reconciliation Mademoiselle Valerie de Rocheplate
Intrigues to fathom Certain honest means of keeping
a young lady out of her heritage 164
I determine to oppose these disgraceful tricks Serious
results of the adventure Flight, separation, hope de-
stroyed A journey into Switzerland Whither romance
can lead us Siege of Bordeaux I am wounded State
of affairs The Fronde at bay The journey from Reims
Intrigues of the Duke of Saint-Simon against me I
go to Reims as a simple amateur The anointing of
Louis XIV. Appearance in the town of Reims The
holy ampulla The coronation The royal festivities
The cavalcade at Saint-Remy 188
I remain several days at Reims after the king's departure
An unexpected meeting A reminiscence of twenty years
back The recognition Inopportune reflections and
blamable regrets with which the sight of two pretty
children inspire me A simple transition . . . 225
Fanfette's history Her stay with Madame du Hainault A
silent love The Count de Flegeres' window A portrait
of that gentleman A strange declaration Retirement
into an Ursuline convent at Mezieres The postchaise
The box of lozenges The abduction A remembrance
of how I met Fanfette on the road from Mezieres to
Sedan Thierret, the Count de Flegeres' vakt-de-chambrc
Fanfette's return to Reims She believes herself
delivered from her persecutor Her love for the Baron
de Lutz Her marriage is decided on Preparations
The Count de Flegeres appears once more The love-
letter Strange language for a lover A five weeks'
truce The wedding presents The marvellous bouquet
The day before the wedding Fanfette retires for the
Conclusion and end of Fanfette's history She contemplates
the heavens to find her star Strange sensations She
gets into bed Fanfette's precautions It seems that her
confession will be of a delicate nature I encourage her
She recommences her tale She found it difficult to go
to sleep Of the admirable things she saw in her dream
An enterprising seraph The danger of dreams Day
dissipates not the nocturnal phantoms The late arrival
of Madame du Hainault The surprised lover The leap
from the window Rupture with the Baron de Lutz
Good-bye to happiness for Fanfette She sacrifices her
liberty to her honour Her resolution Her marriage
Her martyrdom Saintly Fanfette 244
History of the Danish doctor, John Kressmer His science,
his studies, his reputation The court and town make
much of him His spirit of research and invention The
dissecting-table A blood-letting Mathias Grafft The
resurrection of Lazarus A private conversation between
a generous doctor and a grateful man who has been
Continuation and end of the history of the Danish doctor,
John Kressmer Whither the passion for science may
lead us Death of John Kressmer Mathias Grafft,
Baron de Carniol . 271
Behind the convent of the Minimes A woman watches and
follows me Her singular manoeuvres She accosts me
She discloses her object The very original manner of
Mademoiselle Marinette Her interrogatory Am I fond
of dark women ? Do I like fair ones ? A strange
initiation I make no resistance The coach Marinette
bandages my eyes The agreement between Marinette
and myself Whither am I going ? My entrance into
the house which I ought not to see A fairy palace The
mysterious beauty A tete-a-tete such as I have never
had before The indescribable beauty of the unknown
A happiness that I had not expected I wonder at my
great good fortune I enjoy my happiness as if I had
really deserved it Strange advice I swear to be dis-
creet The dream vanishes Marinette once more The
eight hundred pistoles We shall meet to-morrow ! . 280
The appendix to the preceding An interval of two years
A journey to Marseilles The Count de La Baume A
ball I think of fainting Double emotion Struggle
between my wishes and the remembrance of an oath-
Honour wins Virtue is always rewarded A letter
Explanation of the mystery Unheard-of details It is
the truth, though The Countess de Lansac A second
meeting I see Marinette again I am indebted to her
Fresh happiness A silent night A sentimental visit to
a child who resembles me Joys of paternity Its
impenetrable mysteries 306
The Chevalier Antoine de Roquelaure His character His
blasphemies He quarrels with the storm He insults
the thunder They want to throw him into the sea He
escapes this peril He is sent to the Bastille I effect his
release His second arrest The Conciergerie The
jailor's wife The generosity of the Chevalier His
purse runs dry The loves of Madame Dumont and the
Chevalier de Roquelaure Disinterestedness A woman's
heart Escape Imprisonment of Madame Dumont
She is set at liberty Convent of Notre-Dame-Bon-
Secours Sister Brigitte and Sister Mandane The devil
himself The Chevalier is melancholy M. de Romain-
ville That nobleman's impiety His death-bed He
sends for the two Roquelaures The cordelier The
holy sacrament An interrupted absolution A con-
fessor in a perilous position The Chevalier's little joke
Romainville's burst of laughter His cure The last
moments of the Chevalier Antoine de Koquelaure . . 317
The Chevalier de Sercy His arrival in Paris The Place
Royale His meeting with M. de Montmaur An
officious friend Confidences Offers of service
Presentation of the Chevalier at Madame de Lusignan's
Mademoiselle Marie du Terrail Sudden loves The
ball Sentimental dialogue The Chevalier de Sercy is
the happiest of men They dance till day The
Chevalier thanks Montmaur with effusion The singular
manner with which Montmaur receives his thanks, and a
strange appearance, which would make one doubt the
purity of his intentions A little aside fitly confirms
these fears 336
The results of the loves of the Chevalier de Sercy with
Mademoiselle Marie du Terrail Visit to the hotel
Lusignan The jokers Sadness of the young Marie
The Chevalier's suspicions Promised revelation of a
secret The rendezvous given by a betrothed to her
future husband The interview Hesitations An
avowal Montmaur's joke is disclosed Stupefaction of
the Chevalier A pretty woman's humble confession
Good advice The Chevalier takes to flight He goes in
search of his friend Montmaur Five o'clock in the
morning The meeting of the joker and the serious
man A little friendly walk on the bank of the Seine
A duel at daybreak Montmaur is punished for his
joke A tragic ending Marion Delorme's melancholy
DUG DE ROQUELAURE
How M. de Gondy's amour with Madame de Longueville ended
Continuation of our troubles Louis XIV. will repair all our
misfortunes Let us have patience A new passion The
cheats M. de Guiraudel Tricks at play Two hundred
at piquet Tit for tat Madame d'Entragues and Made-
moiselle de Gournay The honour of these ladies A
flippancy that I cannot help passing upon them A
quarrel An indiscreet word hurled by a wife at her
husband's head How to redeem the situation It will be
hard An inspiration The silliest means are often the
best Proof in support of that axiom My conversation
with M. de Villevort A very flattering explanation of a
very gross insult Whereby it is shown that a deceived
husband may be the proudest and happiest man in the
world Sleight-of-hand Apologies An innocent.
BUT before I proceed further, I must narrate a little
circumstance which was related to me some days later
by Madame de Bouillon, and which fortifies my opinion
as to the small favour which the suffragan enjoyed
with Madame de Longueville as a suitor, though, as
I have said above, I do not mean to throw the least
VOL. Ill I
2 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
doubt on the thoroughness of their political connec-
tion. The King, leaving Paris for the second time,
had just proceeded to Saint-Germain to instal himself
there provisionally, and Anne of Austria had pro-
claimed that His Majesty would only return to the
capital when the Parlement left it to hold their sittings
either at Montargis or elsewhere. Madame de Longue-
ville remained in Paris, while the Prince, her brother,
accompanied the King, and she thus showed upon the
occasion, in such wise as could leave no doubt about
the matter, that she dissociated herself from the court.
No one was more delighted at this than Monsieur de
Hereupon, blind in his conceit, the wretched
suffragan supposed that the duchess had only broken
with her kin from love for himself, and this idea,
though it was as grotesque as any ever conceived by
a churchman, made him believe that he could not
show too much forwardness. So he wrote her a letter
wherein he besought her to name a day and hour when
he might visit her and be alone with her.
'Twas a mighty high-handed proposal, to say no
more of it, and Madame de Longueville, being a
woman little likely to come off second best in this
kind of skirmishing, answered him that he might
come on the following day punctually at noon, and
might rest assured he would be satisfied.
Gondy's joy was inexpressible, and as might be
expected, he was not late at the meeting.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 3
Judge of his disappointment when he saw more
than twenty persons in the duchess's salon, among
whom he recognised MM. de Conti, de Beaufort, de la
Mothe, d'Elboeuf, and the famous Madame de
Chevreuse, whose beauty, by-the-way, was notably
on the wane.
The suffragan was deeply angered at his ill-success,
but as he was unwilling to seem put out of counten-
ance, he said to the duchess with great composure :
" Being so early, Madame, I feared I might find
you alone, and so fail of being admitted to your
" We are alone to all intents," replied Madame de
Longueville meaningly, " for I think I may say there
is no one here who is not devoted, body and soul, to
the interests of the Opposition, or who does not
heartily hate Mazarin. So speak your mind, my dear
Abbe ; my friends have every right to hear what you
have to say to me."
That day was certainly not one to be marked with
a red letter in the amorous suffragan's calendar, and
thenceforward he ceased, so Madame de Bouillon
assured me, to dispute the duchess's favours with
the favoured rival.
Not only were the addresses of M. de Gondy pre-
sumptuous, they were also as ill-timed as possible.
Madame de Longueville had become involved in a
storm which left her no leisure to attend to trifles by
the way, and she was as one of those professional
4 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
runners who make straight for their goal and never
lose sight of it. The harsh decree that had been
promulgated against Mazarin, whereby he was de-
clared to be an enemy of the public peace, the King,
and the State, was a great step taken in the path of
rebellion, and it was plain that the Parlement was not
engaged alone upon this course, but had powerful
patrons of its procedure. Madame de Longueville
was well aware of this, and took a pride in making
her salon the headquarters of the new power that
seemed to be arising by the aid of disorder in public
affairs and discontent among the populace.
Her aim in installing herself at the Hotel de Ville
at the same time as the Prince de Conti was to pro-
mote these far-reaching projects.
I shall but mention the events of that memorable
year from memory, nor did aught occur in it of much
concern to me personally. Peace being openly
broken between the Parlement and the Court, appear-
ances were no longer regarded on either side. M. de
Conti was proclaimed Commander-in-Chief of the
troops, and M. de Beaufort returned to Paris in
triumph. Within the town exploits succeeded each
other rapidly. The Bastille was taken, M. de
Broussel was appointed governor of it, and the Prince,
who was still attached to the interests of the young
King, seized in His Majesty's name the important
points of Saint-Cloud, Saint-Denis and Charenton.
As the Parlement-men had scarcely sufficient money
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 5
to furnish forth their soldiery, an idea was suggested
to the suffragan which, though it must have cost him
dear, he yet put into execution, because it flattered
his ruling passion, which, as everyone knows, was a
pride comparable to Satan's. He raised a regiment
at his charges, which first saw service under the
Chevalier de SSvigne, and was soundly beaten, to the
great diversion of the Parlement-men themselves,
who herein showed that, like good Frenchmen, as they
were at heart, they could see their own absurdities
and laugh at them on occasion.
I shall say nothing of what befell at the siege of
Paris, for I was not present thereat, and the whole
story is very well known. The skirmishes in the out-
skirts of the town, some repulses but more successes
to either party, some fine achievements and yet a greater
number of farcical ones, such is, in sum, the record of
that unlucky year. Cardinal Mazarin returned to
Paris in the month of August, and believed himself
firmly established for the future. But the quarrel was
renewed under a thousand different forms, and the
imprisonment of the Princes, resulting from a sort of
compact between the Parlement-men and Mazarin, was
but the beginning of a new series of misfortunes and
disturbances. The triple arrest, which, as the Due
d'Orleans phrased it, was a fine cast of the net which
had caught a lion, a monkey and a fox, unsettled all
and calmed none. The one result was the increase of
force on the side of the Fronde, which cleverly
6 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
availed itself of their Highnesses' resentment to win
them over. The raising of the siege of the be-
leaguered citadel of Havre was the signal for
Mazarin's forced retreat, and he was exiled to
Cologne. Then the civil war recommenced with
greater fury. Conde roused Guienne and Anjou, and
tarnished his glory by asking assistance of the
Spaniards, whom he had so often conquered.
But I will draw a veil over the gloomy picture of
these disorders, the principal inciters whereof were
also victims to them, for I would rather turn my gaze
upon that star now about to arise, bright and clear,
upon the horizon. The time of the King's majority was
drawing near, and as the sun's rays scatter and put to
flight clouds and mists, so the first gleams of this
new reign were already piercing the gloomy night-
time vapours that surrounded us. Men of intelligence
understood that light must sooner or later appear
amid that chaos, and that the glorious hour was
fixed . . . Hope and patience gradually possessed
our hearts. We felt that Louis XIV. would come,
and we were waiting for him.
It was at this time that play became one of my
chief passions. Of course amours were still the
sweetest and the chief business of my life ; but the
days are very long, and some intrigues are so swiftly
brought to a point in boudoirs that a man has much
time to spare, and it is no such easy matter to employ
it well. Bassett and piquet were in high vogue
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 7
then ; and I acquired a celebrity in them which drew
the professed players to make a set at my stakes. In
fact, I had more than once a bone to pick with some
of those clever hands that do not deny themselves the
pleasure of tripping Chance up now and then, and
whose chief talent is to fix good luck by means that
some decent folk would not own to. You must note
that when all is said and done I am not speaking of
thorough tricksters, but of certain rose-water cheats
who think they are doing no so great crime, and
treat as mere humours those passes which, examined
by a severer eye, would be barefaced robberies.
There was a fellow by the name of Guiraudel, a
witty rascal too, who had rounded off his patrimony
by a goodly share conceded to him in the monopoly
of carrying-chairs, and he suffered from this little
fault. This was notorious ; but 'twas usual to take
a hand with him notwithstanding, for he could be
watched, and it is difficult to be fooled if a man is
used to the cards and plays with sufficient attention.
Setting aside this flaw, Guiraudel was a sound player,
and threw his crowns upon the table in a royal
fashion. This is a good quality which must be held
to redeem many peculiarities. I was always inclined
to throw my cards at Belesbal's head, who could not
lose without stamping with his foot or cursing under
To come back to Guiraudel, I was with him one
night where there was much good company, at Du
8 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Gue Bagnols', a man of whom I have spoken else-
where, but who was not at this time the wearisome
and argumentative Jansenist he became afterwards.
The assembly was delightful, and I remember that I
saw Madame de Champlateaux dance the jig there
marvellously. There were merry frolics until mid-
night, when supper was served. After this a great
number of the ladies withdrew, and play was com-
menced. Guiraudel challenged me to piquet, and I
accepted ; a double row of those who meant to wager
was formed about each of us, and the stake, including
the onlookers' money, amounted to three hundred and
We began with trifling play. The winnings were
even, for each of us made from twenty-five to thirty
points. But at the second round Guiraudel, who
no doubt thought matters were moving too slowly,
contrived as follows. It was his turn to count ; he
reckoned up to twenty, then threw down an ace,
and said :
I stopped him, and cried :
" Is it the Port-Royal fashion to reckon so, my
good Guiraudel ? From twenty to twenty-four
might be a reckless leap. Make it twenty-one, if
Guiraudel, with all composure, recommenced his
reckoning. When he came to the awkward place he
declared three knaves, and said to me in an unctuous
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE Q
" Is not that perfectly right ? I score twenty-
three and I play twenty-four."
" If that is so, 'tis as good as may be. But just
now there was no talk of knaves and you called
" I called twenty-three."
" I am so sure that I wager on it."
" It would be a hard question to settle. Who is
to be judge ? "
" Besides the stake, I put a hundred pistoles on the
table," said Guiraudel, " and if you take the offer,
I shall appeal not to what my friends may say, but
what your friends say."
" I take it."
" Monsieur de Chatillon, and you, Monsieur de la
Moussaye," continued Guiraudel, addressing those
nearest to me by choice, " did I call twenty-three ? "
" You called twenty."
" You give it that way ? "
" I am the loser. Here are your hundred pistoles,
He paid, as he always did, with a fine manner
and a smile. Then we recommenced the game where
we had left it. At the last trick, judging from the
cards that had been played that the last he held was
the knave of diamonds, I kept the king of the same
suit. . . . Vain precaution ! He played clubs, and
IO SECRET MEMOIRS OF
I was out. You may imagine what a fool I looked.
I did not see at the moment what such a lesson
meant, and some of those on my side were inclined
to take it ill. But Guiraudel owned he was in the
wrong, and had only meant to make a joke of it.
He even offered, seeing that the thing was ill taken,
to pay as if he had lost, to which the answer was
that this was not sought, and that the turn should
begin again, as if nothing had happened. Having
made this declaration for my own part, I allowed the
wagering to be cancelled for others who had staked,
but for myself asserted that I thought Guiraudel's
trick a fair one, and that I was resolved to hand
over the money to him, leaving myself free to set a
trap for him another time in my own way, and so
bring myself level with him. So I made a show of
forgetting what had just happened, and shuffled the
cards with the most careless and indifferent air ima-
ginable. I merely told him, laughing, that my good
luck would be more propitious to me than his subtlety
had been harmful ; and to show my trust in what I
said, I increased my stake to a hundred louis d'or.
There were about half-a-dozen betting on each side.
As before, the first hand was of no importance,
and the two scores were nearly equal. But the second
hand was more formidable, for Guiraudel scored
fifty-eight. At the third round I had splendid cards,
and kept my opponent in hand up to the last
round. . . .
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE II
At this point Guiraudel came to the crux, for he
had two aces, and which was the right one ? He
turned them down upon the table so that I could
see them, and exclaimed :
"Which shall I keep?"
And as he said this he regarded me closely, hoping
to determine by the direction of my glances which of
the two I feared ... I moved no muscle, but looked
at the ceiling.
He took time to consider. Then, having made
up his mind, he fingered the card he meant to play
without throwing it out. There went a shiver through
me, for he showed an excellent instinct, and my
hundred pounds were where the devil willed . . .
but just then a rare notion came to me ! . . . I put
my foot out softly and quickly, and gently pressed his.
I felt that he took the impression ; and convinced
that one of his backers had given him this kindly
advice, he changed the card and threw out the wrong
I merely said :
" You lose ! "
And then I put the two hundred louis in my
pocket, and shared out the rest among those who
But as I saw him very dashed and seeking to find
a sign upon the faces that surrounded him which
would betray the officious friend whose good offices
had cost him so dear, I said :
12 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" What is the matter, my good Guiraudel ? You
look put out ; whence your anxiety ? Are you not
sure you really lost ? "
" Oh yes, oh yes . . . only I should like to
" Whence you had the advice that is still tingling
in your foot ? "
" Well, to be frank, yes ; who the devil gave me
such ill advice ? "
" Someone who thought he had no reason to give
you good counsels ; myself."
It was Guiraudel's turn to be out of countenance.
But he made a brave show against ill luck, and as
everybody else laughed at my trick, he made haste
to join in the chorus. It must be owned in fairness
that he had not a word to say. The tolerance I had
shown him was the guarantee of his easy dealing with
me, and if ever there was give and take, it may safely
be said it was on that occasion.
My luck continued in the same vein, and I beat in
succession, at piquet, bassett, and gleek, Bois- Robert,
whom I have already described at the gaming-table,
La Moussaye, who spoiled his best hands by wayward
tricks, and M. de Montausier, who, I think, still
went by the name of the Marquis de Salles, and who,
as is well known, served Moliere as a model for his
Misanthrope. I made a splendid haul (amounting, if
I am not mistaken, to ten thousand louis), and at last
my good luck wearied me. I left the table in sheer
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 13
fatigue, and sought refuge in the first boudoir that I
happened to see open before me.
Two affected women of the worst kind, the Coun-
cillor d'Entragues' wife and Mademoiselle de Gournay,
who had had the droll meeting with Racan, were
playing a game of twelve points with the most eager
air imaginable. As I had nothing better to do, I
made free to accost them, and cried :
" How, ladies, you too ! Why do you not leave
this terrible shortcoming to men ? Women should
never handle cards or dice in their taper fingers."
" But must not we kill time ? " said the councillor's
" Life is so long," said Mademoiselle de Gournay,
with the sigh that is peculiar to old maids who have
not yet abandoned the idea of marriage.
" But I do not see your stakes, Mesdames. Have
you lost everything and are reduced to wagering upon
your word of honour ? "
" We stake no money," answered the councillor's
wife, who was one of the chief precieuscs of her time.
" That would be too material. We just make the
stakes out of our honour."
" Oh, that is quite different," said I quite seriously.
" For then you risk nothing. 'Tis more prudent."
Madame d'Entragues, who, with all her laughable
vanity, suspected no malice in jests, paid no heed to
my reply, or rather took it as good sterling opinion.
But Mademoiselle de Gournay looked askance at me.
14 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
No one can equal an old maid in nosing out a satire,
catching a gibe as it flies, and guessing from half a
word that a compliment is left-handed. In this
respect the acuteness of their organs is prodigious.
I perceived that I had cut Mademoiselle de Gournay
to the quick, and at the risk of passing for ill-mannered,
I pretended not to see that she was opening her mouth
to confound me, and sought refuge in the adjoining
It was an evening of quarrels. About half-an-hour
after this had occurred, I had taken my place again
at a table where they were playing very low, and was
amusing myself by frittering away some small amounts
out of the gains I had won, when a singular movement
going forward in one of the small rooms close at hand
suddenly made me feel that a fresh adventure was
afoot within a pace or two of me. I rose and directed
my steps to the theatre of action ; but ere I reached
it Du Gue Bagnols came to meet me, with his cos-
tume disordered and appearing much wrought upon,
muttering in such a way that he could not be heard
by those whom his words concerned :
" Men at cards are a bad crew . . . but women !
A gambling woman is a fury spewed straight forth
from hell . . . God grant they do not set my house
alight this night ! "
"What is the matter? " I asked him, laughing.
" Are they cheating ? "
" I would to God they were ! "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 15
" What, 'tis more serious ? "
" They are telling one another the truth."
" And who are guilty of such an outrage on
decent manners ? "
" A pair of imbeciles who are the cause of the
whole trouble. There were six of us at the same
table, and I was banker. It was all going well. But
all of a sudden, over a doubtful trick, Madame d'Aure
and Madame de Meillan fell foul of one another,
disputed, raised their voices, and hurled insults at one
another that would make a market-woman blush."
" One word, my dear Du Gue. Did they call one
another ugly ? "
" I think not."
" I undertake to reconcile them."
11 But that is not all."
" What, there is something more ? "
" The Baron de Villevort took Madame de
Meillan's part, so his wife, from love of contradiction,
pretended to side with the Marquis de Flers, who had
been wagering in Madame d'Aure's favour ; till Ville-
vort, getting exasperated, set light to the fuse by
calling his wife a coquette."
" Well, there is a rare calamity ! "
" Oh, it would be nothing if his wife had not
taken the challenge, and retorted by calling her hus-
band . . ."
" Well, what ? "
l6 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Oh, that is more grave. How does the quarrel
stand now ? "
"At such a pitch that I escaped, to avoid the
bespattering . . . but look, here they all come."
The stream of angry folk was in fact bearing down
upon us. A considerable detachment of inquisitive
people had increased it out of all proportion, and it
might have been a tumult swelling by degrees. The
two women who had originated the quarrel were each
surrounded by a devoted group, in presence of which
they abandoned themselves to a very similar display ;
for the one seemed on the point of being taken ill, and
the other seemed on the verge of terrible hysterics ;
but both were in excellent health. Some prudent
friends were using their efforts to keep M. de Flers
away from the Baron, who, for that matter, was shout-
ing far beyond any intentions he had of action. As
for Madame de Villevort, her abashed air made a strong
contrast to the animation of all the faces around her.
I had often seen her, and had reason to think my
character was not distasteful to her. She knew that
though I made profession of being firm enough in
those matters that require to be gravely settled, I had
more than once shown myself an apt and conciliatory
peacemaker in the calming of unreasonable storms.
So she freed herself from three or four officious friends,
who were no doubt wearying her by commonplace con-
solations, and came and took me by the arm, saying
with an accent of genuine feeling :
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 17
" Monsieur de Roquelaure, you have some influ-
ence on my husband's mind. He boths esteems and
likes you. You must find some means of pacifying
him and reconciling me with him."
" Why, I should ask nothing better. But if it is
true, as Du Gue Bagnols told me, that you called him
" I was wrong, I own."
" 'Tis certain," I replied in a low voice, " that
those things may be thought of ... and even be
done . . . but they are never mentioned."
While we were thus speaking Madame de Villevort
had returned to the apartment wherein the scene had
taken place, which was now wholly deserted. There,
feeling herself freer and less perturbed, she sank upon
a sofa, and resumed in a despairing tone, which evoked
my compassion :
" I know him. His imagination will carry him
beyond all bounds. He will proceed to conjectures
and suppositions . . . and very possibly he will
suspect me ! "
A pause of a few minutes permitted of her recover-
ing from this keen alarm, and she continued, almost
venturing to smile :
" Can anyone understand how I myself can have
been so foolish as to ... put such ideas into his
head ? "
While the Baronne de Villevort was thus lament-
ing her plight, I was seeking some means of rescuing
VOL. Ill 2
18 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
her from the dangerous pass to which her imprudence
had brought her. An idea occurred to me. Whether
or no it would succeed I would not have affirmed at
the moment when it arose in my mind. However, I
was resolved to try it.
" You fear," said I to Madame de Villevort, " that
your husband's imagination may be too active, and
that he may seriously accept the order of domestic
chivalry you have accorded him ? "
" I am horribly afraid of it."
" Reassure yourself. He will think no more of it
" Really ? "
" Better than that. He will ask pardon of you on
" He will ! What am I to do ? "
" Nothing ! I have had an explanation with you,
and I am going to have one with him. All you need
know is that you are quite innocent of that liveliness
of which he thinks you guilty, and that you do not
even know the meaning of the word you so imprudently
" But he will never believe . . ."
" He will believe anything. . . . Faith rules the
" But why," replied the Baronne, "not tell me . . ."
"The stratagem I mean to use? That would
imperil its success. You shall know it when it has
succeeded. Remain here, and do not move. I shall
be quick and shall return soon."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE ig
The storm had abated in part during our absence.
Madame de Meillan had left, and Madame d'Aure
was preparing to follow her good example, while the
Marquis de Flers, who had offered to serve as her
escort, was attending in a kind of marital way to the
last touches of her toilette. The only visible traces
had been left by Madame de Villevort's poisoned
arrow. The Baron was surrounded by two or three
men and as many women, the latter laughing in their
sleeves while they affected to condole with him, and
he was breathing fire and fury, and threatening to
have recourse to the Parlement. Being told that the
Parlement had not the necessary powers to do him
justice, he declared aloud that if need were he would
undertake a journey to Rome, and ask the Holy
Father in person to annul his marriage. To be able
to conceive clearly how droll and strange our man's face
appeared, it must be remembered that he was usually
the most placid fellow in the world and the most care-
ful of his peace of mind. So he was in an exceptional
state, perturbed from head to feet, and to his ugliness
(for he was ugly into the bargain) was now added
a displeasing display of sweat trickling in big drops
from his hair and his two eyes were starting from
their sockets to such an extent as to cause alarm for
their safety. I understood at once that the poor
Baron needed cooling, and prepared to apply the
remedy to his head. For there it was that his mis-
" Villevort, two words with you."
20 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" With me, Roquelaure ? "
"Yes, with you."
" At your service."
" We must be quite alone."
" Very well. Excuse me, my friends. Ladies,
will you kindly permit me ..."
They stood aside. Villevort followed me, and
when we had withdrawn into a corner, where no
one could see us, I looked him straight in the face
" Villevort, do you know you are a great fool ? "
" How ? do you mean that ? "
" Why, thus, that you do not know your own
" "Tis a well-chosen moment to rally me, Roque-
laure. . . . My happiness ! So you are in a mood
for mirth ! How am I happy ? "
" How ? Upon my soul I pity you. How ?
Odsbody, in having a wife you are not worthy of."
" Thanks, indeed."
" A wife I wish I could find the like of."
" I wish you the pleasure," said the Baron, be-
" A unique wife," said I. " Innocent as a dove,
pure as air, chaste as a girl who takes the vow."
"You make a rare show of her," cried Villevort,
goggling with his eyes in the most tempestuous
fashion. " A chaste wife, indeed, to call her husband
a . . .''
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 21
"Just so. That is her best excuse."
" No, damme, 'tis too much."
"Impelled by the friendship I bear you." I con-
tinued, without taking heed of Villevort's interruptions,
"and sincerely afflicted about so inopportune a wrangle
between your wife and you, I sought her out, took her
aside, and then with tears in my eyes and my hand
upon my heart, I adjured her to tell me if the word
attributed to her had really passed her lips."
"If it passed her lips ! " said the Baron, clenching
" Whereupon she answered with that sweet and
convincing accent that you know so well, Villevort :
' Mon Dieu ! why should not I admit the truth, and
what so great harm have I done ? Unless I am mis-
taken my husband is so angry at the word cuckold !
If I had known it was likely to vex him, I would
certainly have restrained my tongue, but he had just
called me coquette . . . and . . . tell me, Monsieur de
Roquelaure, is not cuckold merely the masculine of
coquette ? ' "
During this little tirade I had imitated the simple
tone of a village ingenue, and I saw that my good
Villevort, though he sheltered himself at first behind
his Picardy incredulity (he was from Amiens), was
eager enough to be convinced, and would only
advance some feeble objections for form's sake.
" Tis scarce credible," he murmured in a low,
muffled voice, swallowing his words.
22 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" You would not say that, my dear Villevort, if
you had heard her. As for me, I was so convinced
of the good faith of her question that I thought best
not to answer it. I left her still in doubt, and if you
take my advice you will do the same. A woman who
does not know the meaning of such a word is a
" An angel," commented the Baron, whose marital
pride was flattered.
" Amen," thought I ; " the trick is done."
"My friend," resumed Villevort, "do me a
" Bring me to my wife."
" That is easily done."
" I count on you to win me my pardon."
" I can guarantee it for you."
I took him into the apartment where his wife was
anxiously awaiting the result of our interview, and
reflecting in the most serious way possible on the
terrible effects that may spring from a word out of
season. At sight of her husband her face fell ; but
on a sign that I made, and on noting Villevort's
nervous and awkward demeanour, she guessed that
I had won her cause for her, and that the roles were
changed. The Baron, in fact, threw himself at her
feet and asked pardon for the public outrage to which
he had dared to subject her.
" Rise," said the lady majestically. " I pardon
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 23
When I considered that this touching reconcilia-
tion was my work, I nearly yielded to burlesque
emotion. I might even have gone so far as to shed
a few tears, but happily Du Gue Bagnols came and
reminded us that supper was getting cold. I own
that so many and diverse experiences had made me
feel an empty stomach, and I had need of this bracing
conclusion. At table I took a place near to the
Baronne, who, by way of showing her gratitude,
furtively pressed my hand, and assured me that I
had wrought a very miracle of harmless magic. She
was anxious that I should give her the key to the
mystery, but I had a fear of Villevort's ears, and
bade her be patient till the next day.
" You shall know what took place," I whispered
to her ; " but come ... in true justice, do I not
deserve a recompense ? "
" We will talk about it," said she, beginning to
Then she added, in a more discreet tone, directing
my attention, by her glance, to Villevort, who was
seated opposite to her :
" Come punctually at mid-day . . . he is always
out at that time."
What does the reader think ? It was not such a
clumsy precaution for an innocent of my making.
24 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The Comte de Bussy-Rabutin A fete at his chateau Descrip-
tion The play and the ball A surprise The masquerade
An enchanted night A forgotten chapter in the Histoire
Amoureuse des Gaules The fair Greek Rivalry A gallant
quarrel between the Count du Lude and me Wordy provo-
cations The best explanations are given at the sword's
point A swoon The Marquis de Sevigne Treaty on the
field of battle A strange way of peacemaking We are fooled
Du Lude is more easily consoled than I am Sevigne in good
luck I yield to a curiosity that thoughtful people may dis-
approve of The dawn A very strange sight A love-scene
au naturel The thicket Happy Sevigne ! I have never
assisted at such a rare diversion Prudent meditations upon
love Art and nature A parallel An unexpected develop-
ment Matters take an ill turn The dangers of travesties A
miserable time Advice to faithless husbands How poor a
figure the seducer cut My prophecy of the consequencA of
the affair My clever retreat without beating of drum or
blowing of trumpet, in company of Cascarel My confidences
with Madame de Sevigne.
I SHALL always recall with pleasure the friendship
I formed at this time with the Comte de Bussy-Rabutin,
one of the most comely and amiable gentlemen who
had ever appeared at court. At the time when he was
enamoured of Madame de Montglas he gave a charming
fete, at which I was present, and which afforded oppor-
tunity for many adventures such as deserve to find a
THE DUG DE ROQUELAUKE 25
place in this authentic history. Among other things
I there witnessed a singular occurrence which, I
believe, has never been made known, seeing that I
surprised the secret, and therefore thought myself
under an obligation to be silent ; but even silence has
limits, and the itch to tell what one has seen or heard
is so strongly inherent in human nature that it rarely
happens a man can keep silence for ever. Besides,
many years have now passed between that day and
this on which I take up my pen to write, and everyone
knows that time dulls many susceptibilities and gives
authority for a great deal of licence.
So it was at the Comte de Bussy's chateau.
He had just obtained his grade of major-general in
the cavalry, and the pretext for the fete was his obli-
gation to join the army shortly. That pretext served
for the fools and the gossips, but some of his friends,
and I was one of them, knew very well that this great
expense was in honour of Madame de Montglas, a
woman of lively and caustic wit, whose beauty was
much in vogue then, and was made the subject of a
facetious portrait done to perfection by Bussy himself
in that audacious book which occasioned his being
sent to the Bastille.
Never had a fete appeared to me more brilliant or
better appointed ; it took place half within the
chateau, and half in the park, and I do not think
I ever saw, even at court, a more complete or better
disposed choice of pleasures and attractions. The
26 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
wood was full of little orchestras which played
melodies one after the other, so that it seemed as if
the wood were enchanted, or that we were on that
famous promontory of Lucania, whence the sirens,
despairing that they had not seduced Ulysses and
his companions, as they say, threw themselves into
the sea. At the end of two alleys which led from the
court of the chateau there was a large round clump
of trees, to the branches of which a hundred cut-glass
candelabra had been attached ; to the right a magnifi-
cent theatre had been erected, the decorations of
which were in accord with the splendid illumination
which lighted it, and the thousand candles that had
been symmetrically hung on the branches shed so
bright a light on the turf as to dazzle the eyes. The
arrangement of these lights showed much under-
standing on the part of the chief contriver of them,
for after this fair circle, so brightly and clearly
illumined, the groves of trees seemed altogether dark,
and as if they invited those who were walking there
to mysterious confidences. The actors of the Hotel
de Bourgogne, who had obtained leave to come and
give a play there, performed their part like folk who
know their business and love it, and after this, when
the fiddles gave the signal for the corantos and
brawls, each of us sought as partner she whose
favours he was openly or secretly soliciting, and the
merriest melee that ever was seen was started at
several points at once.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 27
But another surprise awaited us. About midnight,
as nearly as might be, and close upon an hour after
the play had concluded amid the applause of the
audience, we heard a hum of voices from afar, in the
direction of the chief entrance to the chateau. Who
is coming now ? Who would arrive so late ? These
were the questions asked confusedly on all sides. But
no response followed as their echo. Bussy-Rabutin
himself, when asked by Mesdames de Montglas,
d'Olonne and de Precy, who surrounded him as if
they would have danced a chain about him, Bussy-
Rabutin, I say, affected to know nothing, and called
his gods to witness that he did not know what it
meant. He even pretended that he felt some anxiety
about it, seeing that now and again in his life he had
incurred the ill-will of influential personages, and would
not be surprised if they had come to take him and lead
him away into exile an assertion that was rendered
less absurd in that precedents of the sort were not
lacking, and there had been no hesitation about sending
M. de Bassompierre to the Bastille and the Princes
themselves to the fort at Vincennes. No one took
this joke seriously, but such careful reticence redoubled
our impatience and curiosity, which expressed itself in
outcry, wherein it will easily be believed that the voices
of the ladies drowned our own. We hurried in a mass
to meet the new comers, and perceived by the light of
the torches which many valets in various liveries were
gaily flourishing, a most brilliant masquerade, com-
28 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
posed for the most part of women admirably disguised,
of whom not a single one was recognised by us, thanks
to the black velvet masks with which they had con-
cealed their features.
From the reception that Bussy accorded them we
immediately understood that it was a contrived hit, or
in other words, a plan of the master of the fete to
revive our zest at the very moment when some slight
loss of its ardour and vivacity might be feared. It
would be hard to give an idea of the transports with
which the masquerade was received on its entrance
into the park. The arrival of this merry band had
just the effect of an unexpected reinforcement of fresh
troops in the midst of a sharp engagement. There was
but a little time spent in exchanging some gallant or
satirical phrases, according as the person addressed
wore a petticoat or a sword, and then the general
merriment began anew.
The sound of the fiddles, the light of the candles,
and those furtive contacts which the dance permits,
together with those sprightly, mischievous whispers
that pass from ear to ear, are inflammable elements
that will not fail to kindle a whole assembly, especially
if it be composed of gentlemen prone to amours and of
ladies as coquettish as they are witty, educated in
gallantry at the court of France, the richly endowed
home of all fairest aspirations, all most charming
caprices, and all tenderest passions. All Bussy's guests
fell subject to the same influence, and in less than an
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 2Q
hour order was evolved from the chaos, that is to say
that choices were made, relations established and
preferences shown with a sort of wild temerity that
certainly did more credit to our frankness than to our
prudence. In all directions couples were to be seen
in tender proximity, disappearing among the shadows ;
the conversations, begun in the frivolous and lively
tones of gallantry, were ended in the distance, in the
glades, amid the foliage, and the sound of voices
gradually grew fainter, as the sound of a wave dies
upon the strand. A supper royally served gave the
final fillip to our minds and the coup de grace to our
prudence. A kind of possession seemed to settle
upon the whole company, and between ourselves it
would have been very strange if I, alone among my
friends, had assumed, contrary to my wont, the
manners of a candidate for priesthood or the atti-
tude of a Cato. I could not but take my part in this
rare harmony, and I did so cordially, as will now
I had taken my place at table close to an adorable
creature, whose face indeed I could not see, but she
was so well made that a man might deal with her
So far I could only discern her complexion,
which was as white and beautiful as possible; and
her bust, of a rare shapeliness, was so supply set
that in comparison with her a pliant sapling would
have seemed a mere iron peg. Withal she had a
3O SECRET MEMOIRS OF
noble and majestic air ; her dress, tastefully com-
posed and admirably designed to set off her shape,
was that of the Greek women in the time of the
Byzantine Empire; her hair, the tresses of which
were confined by a slight net, was of a most charm-
ing fair colour ; her light blue bodice and skirt were
made of one of those costly Asiatic stuffs which
drape a well-developed form admirably, and show in
excellent relief the ornamentation in gold and pearls
with which they are embroidered here and there. As
for her conversation, it was a continuous flow of
clever sayings and brilliant observations ; a prude
might have held that for a woman of quality, she
was too free ; but in the eyes of the people of fashion
the agreeable sallies of her wit, wherein she showed
marvellous resource, sufficed to excuse the sportiveness
which was natural to her and which she could but have
suppressed at the sacrifice of her choicest attributes.
I pressed her closely, and was already forming
some pretty hopes, when I made a discovery that
went to my heart and aroused my vexation. My
Athenian or Cypriot as you will was a coquette,
and after two or three observant glances furtively cast
upon her neighbour on the left hand, I plainly perceived
that the same hour which had brought me so eager a
passion had brought me a rival. Well, though I had
no other cause of ill-will against this rival, who was
the Comte du Lude, I fell into a violent rage with him,
and thought that the whole matter might lead to a bad
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 3!
end. So I redoubled my solicitous attentions to the
fair one who had made a clean sweep of our hearts,
hoping thus to have the better of the Count, who for
that matter was a well-built fellow and not without
elegance, though at that instant when I should, per-
haps, have been careful to clear myself of prejudices,
he appeared to me far more displeasing and hard to
tolerate than he really was.
The Count noticed what game I was playing, and I
got from him as good as I gave. If I tried to whisper
a compliment in my pretty companion's ear, he took
care to cut it off half finished by making her lean
towards him ; if I offered to help her to any dish that
had been placed upon the table, he hurried to hand her
another, so that sometimes she knew not to which of
us she should attend, and refused both. And yet I
thought, for our vanity will trick us, that she preferred
me. . . . My knee, in tender proximity to hers, was
swayed sometimes by one of those light voluptuous
pressures which ravish with a foretaste of heavenly
delights ; her smile, when she turned towards me,
was full of the sweetest promises ; two or three
phrases, of the kind that tell so little yet mean so
much, had brought me in succession courage, ardour
and hope. . . . Could I in conscience suppose that
she granted the same to the Comte du Lude, and
made an equal distribution of her favours to right
and left ? Were her two eyes being used to light
two conflagrations at the same time, and was she
32 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
carrying temerity to the point of according two
pledges at once ? I was unwilling to believe it, for
it would have been an insult to her and would have
caused despair in me.
However, as I still felt some doubts about it, I
meant to put it to a final proof, and boldly crossed
the Rubicon. I beg that I may be forgiven this
lofty allusion in respect of a very simple fact. The
truth is that I took my fair Athenian's bare arm, and
without otherwise asking leave, imprinted a long and
chaste kiss upon it.
M. du Lude was in no mood to be behindhand
with me. I had appropriated her right arm ; he took
possession of the left, and followed my example
exactly, saying :
" Let us raise no jealousy ; here are two arms
that have the right to the same adoration and the
I was not so much annoyed with the Count's pre-
sumption as with the cool way in which our pretty
masquerader allowed his liberties; so I took advan-
tage of the repast being finished to say to her :
" Then for the like reason that you have two hands,
fair lady, would you not need two cavaliers to escort
you to the park ? "
She was preparing her reply.
" Why not," interrupted the Comte du Lude, whose
tone grew more and more irritating, " a clever woman,
if she wishes to thwart prying folk, should almost
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 33
always have two men at her side, one on the left for
whom her heart beats, and one on the right to carry
her breviary or her fan."
" Very well, my dear Count," I replied, restraining
my anger with difficulty ; " and we have now to learn
which of us shall occupy the better of the two
places. . . . "Pis one of two things : either the lady
must give it, or we must carry it by assault. . . . Do
you not agree with me ? "
It is to be noted that at this moment Du Lude was
on her left.
" Oh, my good friend," cried he, " what kind of
notions do you show, and where have you learned such
a way of acting ? To make the lady humble her glory
in the eyes of one of us or else subject her to all the
trouble of a siege in due form ! Why, your plan, let
me tell you, is that of a simpleton ... or a boor.
You have not considered it . . ."
" I attach so much consideration to it, my dear
Count, that I am resolved to have an explanation on
the point with the lady forthwith, an explanation that I
will extend to you in due time and place, though for the
present purposes of it there is no room for you here."
"Gentlemen, you are carrying this too far," said
the unknown fair, who began to be anxious about the
turn the dispute was taking ; " and as you already seem
inclined to forget my presence, I will withdraw."
" I will follow you," said the Comte du Lude,
making himself her cavalier by force, as it were.
VOL. in 3
34 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Not so fast," replied I, before he had time to take
a step, " the way is not clear, my dear Count, and I
mean to make a good defence of it ... 'Tis a second
position for you to carry."
And at the words I drew. While we were thus
wrangling, we had withdrawn to some distance from
the rest of the company, so that nothing prevented us
from carrying out our intention, the more so as it is
an admirable means of cutting such brawls short, and
our two blades were already touching in the obscurity
when we heard the sound of steps behind us. The
masked lady was overcome with genuine emotion,
and had staggered to the nearest tree as a support,
while her loud and irregular breathing bore witness to
the natural fear she felt in such circumstances. It
was nearly three o'clock in the morning, and we were
at the time of the longest summer days, so that the
light of dawn was already strong enough to allow of
our recognising the man who thus came to interrupt
us in the midst of our amusement. It was the
Marquis de Sevigne ; his doublet was half thrown
open, his hair was disordered and his shirt also
loosened ; he was steadying his gait, as he walked
like a man who has supped freely, but would not
have the fact appear.
" Eh, gentlemen," cried he as soon as he per-
ceived us, " what mean these warlike preparations ?
A duel ! A man's death may ensue here on our
friend Bussy-Rabutin's ground. It would be a bad
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 35
return for his princely hospitality, and I protest
against a night so well begun ending in tragedy."
Then he advanced and placed himself between
us, stretching out his arm for a sign of peacemaking ;
but on a sudden, having perceived the subject of the
quarrel, he continued, changing his tone :
" Odsbody, masters, I scarce know you . . . You,
Du Lude, so skilled in the laws of honour, and you,
Roquelaure, so adept in gallantry, to draw in a
woman's presence ! . . . Put up your steel, quickly,
my friends, such things are never done."
He was right ; we put up our swords without a
word, almost mechanically.
Thereupon the fair Greek, who had recovered
herself, drew near to us and said, addressing the
" Excellent, Monsieur de Sevigne, excellent. I
expected no less from your prudence and your
Du Lude and I looked at each other. The tender
emotion that the lady had revealed in speaking to the
Marquis had struck both of us.
" Egad, Sevigne," said the Count after a longish
pause, " you are in luck ! You throw yourself head-
long into a dispute which does not concern you
about which you do not even know anything and
upon the first word that you hurl at our heads,
without too clear an idea, between ourselves, of what
you mean, you are congratulated, thanked, and com-
36 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
plimented. But just a moment, if you please. There
are some old scores to settle, and you will not take
it ill if we deal with our own business before yours.
Your coming has made no change, and the dispute is
just where it was. Both Roquelaure and I think we
have some claim on the favour of this lady. It is for
her to decide between us."
" I could not put it better," cried I, approving Du
Lude's statement with a gesture.
" So," replied Sevigne, " you demand of the lady
that she shall make her choice ? "
" We demand nothing," replied the Count, " but
we beg it of her."
She seemed to collect herself, no doubt desiring to
come to a resolve as to what she ought to do. At last
she took a step towards us, and using those over-
gentle tones which are usually employed to soften a
disagreeable saying :
" Alas ! " said she. " In such circumstances be-
seeching embarrasses me as much as ordering, and
you will own, gentlemen, that you are pressing a poor
woman who has but had a glimpse of you rather hard.
What comparison or parallel could I make between
you ? Surely I should commit some injustice ... or
some mistake. . . . Well, believe me, it were better to
defer this to a later time. Besides, we are leaving one
of those late fetes that confuse the keenest eyes and
unsettle the strongest heads, and M. de Bussy has
plied us with bumpers of such wine as, all unsuspected,
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 37
contains the origins of the strangest caprices and the
most disordered wishes. ... So beware. . . . 'Tis
after supper now, and you love me madly. I protest,
if 'twere judged upon an empty stomach you might
detest me. So we should give these headstrong fumes
time to melt away. . . . To-morrow you will be calmer,
and I can pledge my word that we shall meet again.
Till then, be friends. . . . You will have time enough
to kill one another, if I say that either one has my
preference. In the meanwhile, as I fear to furnish
new aliment to your jealousy, I shall ask the Marquis
de Sevigne to be so kind as to become my escort. . . ."
" To take you back to the ball ? " asked the Comte
du Lude, pointing in the direction whence we heard
the fiddles playing a prelude.
" No, to take me for a little turn in the park,"
replied the unknown fair one. " I am much wrought
upon, and the fresh air will restore me."
As she thus spoke she treated us to a curtsey, and
we bowed in return with all imaginable politeness
and humility. At the same time she took Sevigne's
arm, and they both disappeared as swiftly as if they
had been ghosts ; they had entered the first alley of
the park they came to, where they hastened their
steps, and I heard them talking in a low voice and
brushing against the border shrubs.
Neither my vexation nor the Comte du Lude's
was proof against the marvellous piece of sleight we
had witnessed, a thing done before our eyes, while it
38 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
had occurred to neither one of us to oppose the
slightest obstacle to it. The same interpretation of
the fact suggested itself to the minds of both at the
same moment. Whether chance or intention had
brought Sevigne upon the scene, it was quite certain
that he had arrived opportunely, and we had been
unmistakably sacrificed to him. The new posture
of affairs was plain, and our real enemy was the
man who had thrown himself between us and whose
intervention we had allowed. So we needed no
further explanation of our mutual thoughts than a
hearty burst of laughter, and we shook hands on it.
We had the remembrance of our ogling, our elo-
quence and our sword-play for our pains. . . .
" The Pearl of the East has fooled us," said I,
scratching my ear. " She is a coquette."
"She is a woman of genius," he replied with
emphasis ; " for she discovered the only way, per-
haps, to reconcile us."
" No matter," said I, showing my ill humour
plainly enough; "I am not satisfied with my night
... an intrigue bungled is a prognostic of ill luck."
" Cannot we begin another ? As for me, my dear
Roquelaure, this little reverse, far from daunting me,
shall sharpen my wits and give me zeal in taking my
revenge. Just now I saw Lafeuillade cuddling Madame
d'Olonne in a corner, and I know them both well
enough to feel sure they were talking sweetstuff . . .
'twas a treaty being ratified. ... I will intrude
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 39
upon the midst of it, and let what will be the out-
come ! "
And Du Lude hurried off towards the chateau. I
admired his indifference and strove to follow so good
an example. But this was impossible in my case,
and the mysterious lady continued the sole subject of
my thoughts. What resolution could I come to in
such a state of mind ? It may be guessed. An
irresistible attraction led me in her footsteps. ... I
hurried towards the grove whose shadows had rapt
her from my sight . . . my search was for long a
vain one, for Bussy's park was not unlike a maze.
However, thanks to certain signs that I understood
much better than I could explain them a fluttering
of the leaves, the echo of a sigh, perchance that dying
fragrance that the fair lady's veil had communicated
as it passed, I struck the right road at last, and instantly
assured myself that I would not lose it again. The
further I went, the more sure I became of my discovery.
At length a very distinct dialogue held between voices
of a. different timbre finally convinced me that my
instinct had not beguiled me. I was at the moment
on a little rise, whence I looked down upon a lawn of
square formation, round which ran a quickset hedge
of a good height and very thick. The seats, which
were placed at intervals, were further screened from
prying eyes by splendid elms, the branches of which
were affectionately interlaced over all the space of the
square. But my curiosity overcame all obstacles,
40 SECRET, MEMOIRS OF
and a glance deftly taken through a break in the
foliage showed me how the errant couple stood. They
were no doubt tired of walking, so Sevigne and his
companion passed in review all the seats in the green-
sward enclosure, and choosing that which appeared
to them protected by the closest shelter, came and
seated themselves almost at my feet. Chance has
strange workings sometimes !
The conversation had been eagerly maintained
and had reached, as far as I could judge, a very
interesting point. 'Tis known how the voice rises ;
so, my ears being agog, I heard it all, attack and
" Marquis ! . . . Marquis ! " said the lady in dis-
guise, hiding her face by her fan, "you are putting
some strange questions to me ! . . . Do you know
that you are very inquisitive ? "
" A little confidence would be so easy to you,"
replied Sevigne in a caressing tone. "Just to think
that you have only to utter a name ! "
" That is just what I do not wish to do."
" Well, then . . . something else."
" What is it ? "
" I only ask you for a sign. Is it Du Lude, or
is Roquelaure the man of your choice ? I shall put
those two questions to you one after the other, and
you will answer yes or no by a movement of your
" You give yourself a great deal of trouble, won
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 4!
pauvrt marquis. Come, I think it will be the best
way if I lead to the conclusion of the matter at once.
No one has more esteem than I for the Count du Lude,
especially since he fought so well with M. de Vardes,
which was an excellent reply to those who wronged
him by calling his courage in question ; on the other
hand, M. de Roquelaure's character is much to my
liking, and there is no one in the world for whom I
should entertain a stronger inclination if it could be a
question of thorough and sincere friendship with him
. . . but as for love, I have never felt it for either of
those gentlemen. It is to be understood," she added,
laughing, " that I only speak of the past ; I bind
myself to nothing for the future."
" Cruel lady, you seek to compass my despair, but
you will only inspire in me a still keener desire to
outdo my future rivals now. . . . From what I see,
your heart is like one of those bonny birds that love
the free air and covet liberty, so that they must be
swiftly caged if the captor does not wish to lose them,
without a hope of seeing them again. Well, I have
set myself to be the captor of that heart, and you can
imagine that the moment when I have it imprisoned
in this cage of verdure is no moment when I should
be so mad as to let it escape me."
" For pity's sake, Marquis ! You treat my heart
as if it belonged to you already by right of conquest.
But allow me ... I did not tell you that it was
42 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Sevigne started, and assumed an air of alarm.
" You love someone ! " he cried with a tone of
anguish that could pass as very natural.
" Would that be so surprising ? Are M. du Lude
and M. de Roquelaure the only men at court whom a
woman might love against her will ? Think further,
and you will find some who, if they are not of higher
worth, at least are as good, and a woman might sigh
for them, compromise herself for them, and even
commit a folly . . . without showing bad taste."
" No matter who he is, I mean to ruin him in
your consideration," cried Sevigne, in a fine trans-
port. " I will make you hate him ! "
" Take care, he is a friend of yours."
" I will compel him to give you up."
" I doubt it."
" I will kill him."
" 'Tis questionable."
" Then he shall yield me his place."
" I think not."
" Perhaps you will be more believing if you see
me at work in earnest. This at least I can asseverate,
that without knowing you I love you . . . and to
win you I would wage war on all my rivals, on
yourself, on everybody, and, as M. de Larochefou-
cauld said concerning Madame de Longueville, on
the gods themselves ! "
" But if I were ugly ? "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 43
" If I were ill-tempered ? "
" With such a voice ... it could not be."
" You are very confident."
" I am deeply enamoured, that is all."
The fair Athenian reclined in the seat, and the
flash of her gaze, through the eye-holes of her black
mask, seemed to be searching Sevigne's very soul.
She resumed more slowly :
" Pay good heed to what you say, Monsieur le
Marquis, for I warn you that, in spite of my seeming
levity, I have a bad habit of taking everything
" 'Tis so I mean my words."
" Reflect, too, that in these matters I hate the
middle path, and either I shall consider this love
you boast of as a mere jest with naught to follow on
it, or else I shall certainly make of it the gravest and
most important affair in my life."
" Why, in that you open the gates of heaven
to me ! "
" But think yet more deeply. There are dreams
that begin so sweetly, and end so ill."
" This dream, if you agree, shall never end."
" Oh, if I dared believe you," whispered the un-
known one in a troubled voice.
" Believe me, believe me ! " cried Sevigne with the
accents of genuine passion, and he knelt before her
and embraced her knees.
There was an interval of silence. I saw that the
44 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
lady's bosom was heaving tumultuously ; the ardent
Sevigne took advantage of the liberties he was
accorded as a man who knows the value of time,
and I think, if I remember rightly, that my emotion
was not slighter than his own. Peering as well as
I was able through that kind of pretty prism which
obscured my sight, I thought I perceived that
matters were maturing with great speed. The
Marquis de Sevigne made rapid progress, so rapid
that the fair nymph, surprised at the ground he had
already covered, became visibly disquieted at it, and
begging him to rise, drew him gently towards her,
unwilling, no doubt, to deprive him of all hope, but
clearly understanding at that critical moment that the
real means of enhancing the value of her favours was
not to lavish them all at once.
" A man," said she, forcing herself into some
composure, " a man is ever excusable in yielding to
such follies. But I should be foolish, and unpardon-
ably foolish, if I listened to you ... for after all
. . . you know what reputation they give you . . .
that you are inconstant, frivolous, incapable of a
" Slander ! "
" They say you are often at Ninon's . . .
" Calumny ! "
" And to say no more than this, about which you
can have no word to retort, you are married."
" I know it only too well."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 45
' And married, as they say, to a woman who,
though I have never met her, is reported as ...
very agreeable. Has she not pretty eyes ? "
" Of two different colours," said Sevigne.
' I have heard she is pretty rather than not."
" Oh, oh ! "
" And especially that she has a sprightly wit ? "
" Yes," answered the wretched husband, in a tone
of concession that was quite lacking in enthusiasm.
" You speak very coldly of her good qualities. . .
But 'tis true that my presence easily explains
" Oh, I speak so with all my heart, that I swear."
"So you would be unfaithful to her . . . without
regret . . . and without remorse ? "
" Can it concern you ? "
" Oh, it concerns me much. You have a bent
towards inconstancy that makes me think . . . 'tis
hazardous with you, Monsieur le Marquis, and if
Madame de Sevigne is as attractive as they make
out . . ."
" Attractive," resumed the Marquis with im-
patience, " yes, as attractive as you please, but when
all is said and done, what is that to me ? Her beauty
is talked of ... she may be beautiful . . . and yet
in truth I know not if she be. I dare say I knew at
one time, that's probable, but I have forgotten since.
As for her wit, I have it trumpeted into my ears
daily, and I can discern for myself that she is bright,
46 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
lively, clever, full of rare conceits and fertile in all
kinds of brilliant thoughts ... I have no doubt that it
is all very admirable, very rare and very precious . . .
I am not objecting or raising difficulties . . . but,
after all, she is my wife. . . ."
" And a man does not love his wife ? " interrupted
this remorseless logician at the opportune moment.
" Oh well, he loves her in a certain way. . ."
" But not the right way. . . Come, I have had a
great deal of trouble to get that from you."
" Frankly, I know not what you want of me, and
do not follow what you mean. Am I thinking about
my wife at all ? Are not you everything to me ? . . .
Since it is true that I am in bondage, let me, dear fair
one, shake off my slavery for a moment, and forget my
fetters ! . . . Are there not instants in life when
the mistakes of the past and the anxieties of the
future are absorbed in a present happiness ? Here at
your knees I make this earnest declaration to you.
You in this hour are my joy, my hope, my life . . .
all this fair display of nature that surrounds us and
breathes in your being has neither existence nor
beauty but through you. . . . Wheresoever I turn,
whatsoever delight I long for, I can see you and only
you. . . . Oh, confess to me, mysterious fair, that
my hands, thus twined with yours, have at last made
you feel a little of my ardour, and that you share my
The poor lady confessed nothing, but her silence,
at the pass in which things then were, was a blank
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 47
order which Sevigne could evidently use as he chose.
Our worthy Marquis was not backward, and made
his commencements like a man who means to carry
matters to the very end on the spot. Master of the
lady's comely waist, he had already drawn her down
towards him, and now triumphed over those little
resistances which in such circumstances are never
more than the preliminaries of surrender. And yet
he had to submit to a serious check ; for when he
sought to remove her mask she broke sharply from
his arms and threatened to withdraw altogether if
he renewed the attempt. Strange as her incognito
might seem, seeing how matters stood, he vowed
he would respect it, perceiving that she would be
inexorable on the point and that he would gain
nothing by haggling about such a trifle. This little
disturbance being appeased, he returned to the charge
with fresh ardour, and as always happens in these
kinds of contest where the two opponents understand
each other perfectly and are perfectly agreed, the
action and the noise of combat were resumed ac-
cording to the immemorial usageby kisses, mur-
mured words, and sighs.
The two lovers supposed themselves alone. And
yet they were not so ; for Phoebus and I were there.
And might not I have been compared to Actaeon ?
Mythology apart, it was the fact that 1 had not
quitted my post of observation, and day was dawning
more and more brightly. . . .
There are poets who express love in verse, musicians
48 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
who set it forth in notes, painters and sculptors who
express it on canvas or form it in stone. The first
reproduce the language of it, the second imitate its
tongue, and the last convey its form. I say nothing
of the philosophers, who among the whole host of
the speculative are assuredly, upon the theme that
now concerns us, the most remote from credibility
and common sense. They seek to reason love out,
and hereby have sometimes rendered it as tedious as
themselves, which is saying a great deal. Heeding
only the three forms of art that have been mentioned
above, it is certain that each one has a value, and
that we draw sweet meditations from poesy, welcome
inspirations from a fine piece of music, and from a
fair design the appreciation of a reality which we
had but guessed at before. But what power of art
can ever compete with nature, viewed in her most
secret play and gazed on in her act ? Let the reader
imagine, then, the admirable sight which I beheld a
living background wherein every blade of grass that
gave its mite to the glory of the scene was rustling
and awakening in God's bosom. Let fancy depict
the charming arches of leaves and flowers whence
arose a fresh fragrance of dew, the large, deep-shaded
glades, the silence which seemed a very conspiracy
of pleasure against reason, the sweet morning breeze
which was carolling among the branches ; and below
them, in the foreground, two young, fair and impas-
sioned creatures, redoubling their lives by yielding
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 49
them one to the other, and adding, all unconsciously,
one more gentle harmony to this magnificent concert
of sunrise. Can an ideal be carried further ? Let
what will be said or done, this is the best picture,
the fairest sculpture of Love.
But to return to our hero and heroine. Analysis
is often lengthier than the deeds to which it has
reference, and if I put no curb upon my pen I should
run the risk of taking the reader so far that we should
find it difficult perhaps to return to the point whence
we set out.
Scarce credible, the aspect of the scene changed
suddenly. I rubbed my eyes to see more plainly.
The lady, slightly disordered, was standing some two
paces from the bench on which the Marquis de
Sevigne was still seated, smoothing the lace he wore
and pushing the dishevelled locks of his hair from his
forehead. But this was the affair of an instant, and
he rose and offered his hand to his accomplice. But
she repulsed him sternly.
" What am I to understand by this cruelty, my
fair one ? " cried the Marquis, in great surprise.
" You are to understand, sir, that there can be
nothing more in common between us."
" Am I deaf ? Can I have understood ? You are
saying . . . ? "
" That from to-day you are nothing to me and
I am nothing to you."
" Well, indeed," said Sevigne, whose annoyance
VOL. in 4
50 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
now appeared amid his astonishment, " here is an
ending that I little suspected. But you are but
jesting, I think, my fair friend ? "
" Not the least in the world, Marquis. Come, let
us return to the chateau."
" What ! Both together ? "
" What does it matter ? "
" But the ball is not finished . . . the music and
the dancing are not finished ... if we return at the
same time, people will form conclusions . . . they
will talk . . ."
" Much less than you think."
" But you will let me escort you home."
It is my intention. It is only just that the
Marquis de Sevigne, after the gross crime he has
just committed against his wife, should at least escort
her home as a favour."
And her mask, snatched off by a deft movement,
was hurled aside.
The fair Greek slave, whose long curls falling to
her waist, blue bodice and broad-pleated skirt had
made us dream of Athens, Thessaly and Smyrna,
It was Madame de Sevigne !
I do not think in all my life I have seen a man
more out of countenance and discomfited than the
wretched Marquis. He dared not meet her gaze,
but stood with a bent head, as if he were under a
ban from which he could not escape. A strange
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 51
thing was that he did not even try to stammer out
an excuse or attempt any sort of exculpation. He
had lost his pluck, readiness of tongue and good
sense at the same time.
Perhaps my eyes had never been so busy, and
they lost no single detail of this dumb-show, which,
though it seemed trifling enough, was full of the
menace that the culprit had deserved and of serious
teaching. What she told him without speaking I
should be sorry to reckon up. I do not know whether
he in his confusion understood much of it ; as for me,
I was clearly convinced that, after the first explosion
of her jealousy, she would think seriously of revenging
Their meeting terminated in the most silent
fashion that can be conceived. As she withdrew
she caused him to pass before her, and they looked
like two statues walking one behind the other at
an equal pace.
" Poor Sevigne," I murmured, with a laudable
impulse of compassion, " you have spent a night
which will cost you dear."
I had hit upon the truth. From that moment all
went amiss with the Marquis, and his estate, which
was not very great, was finally dissipated in follies
and caprices. He made a show at that time of
abandoning Ninon de Lenclos, who had given him
the go-by. A year later, upon a notable amour he
had with Madame Gondran, he was killed in a duel
52 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
by the Chevalier d'Albret, whose place he had
As for his wife, she spent her grief the more
violently that she might console herself the sooner.
'Tis as good a method as any other of reconciling
our pleasure with our duty.
A final word about De Bussy's fete. Though
it was now past four in the morning and broad
daylight, gaming, dancing, and the strolls in the
glades were still in progress. The Marquis de
Sevigne and his wife were saluted at their re-
appearing with endless exclamations of surprise, and
certain more or less free pleasantries upon the
romantic pilgrimage they had made in the perilous
obscurity of the park. The Comte du Lude was full
of it, and could not explain the singular circumstance
but by supposing that Sevigne had recognised his
wife in spite of her mask.
As for me, I was content with the night I had
passed, though little inclined to divulge how I had
employed it ; and perceiving that more than one
indiscreet question would be put me on this point,
I made for the stable-yard of the chateau by the
darkest and least frequented paths. Then, having
found Cascarel, who had fallen asleep while he waited
for me, I gave him a good shaking, at the risk of
putting him on bad terms with Morpheus for the
rest of the day, and cried in his ear that he must
seek out our horses in the stables. That answered
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 53
with him ; for, like a machine freshly wound up, he
mechanically directed his steps whither I sent him,
and in less than five minutes we had covered ground
enough to be secure from hindrance in our retreat
either by the untimely pressing of a too zealous
friend, by a gossip or a questioner.
As I said at the beginning of this chapter, I have
kept the secret of this amusing adventure for twenty
years. The only person to whom I have ever spoken
of it was Madame de Sevigne, a little time after the
occurrence, and I shall be believed when I say that
she blushed to the roots of her hair when she thought
of the pleasing posture in which I had seen her. Did
not she ask me if I had not had at least the benevo-
lence to shut my eyes ? A rare question ! . . . and
how easy it was for me to answer it !
I took no advantage of the power such a precedent
might have given me, nor, though I found her in-
finitely to my liking, did I even seek to become the
accomplice of that vengeance whereof I spoke above,
and which she began to exact much sooner than I
should have expected.
I was never more than her friend.
54 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Amende honorable I repair some omissions Looking back
Monsieur's campaign The siege of Mardik The impa-
tience of an unemployed soldier I am at last included in a
new undertaking The siege of Bourbourg Monsieur de
Rantzau We march upon Courtray The lengthy resist-
ance encountered at this town Arrival of the Due
d'Enghien Monsieur congratulates me I am appointed
lieutenant-general An excursion to Amsterdam Dutch
fog I look for loveliness in vain I flee Mezieres An
hour at church Abbe Truguet's sermon Awkward con-
sideration propounded by a hunchback The Abbe's clever-
ness My journey to Compiegne Visit to M. de R * * *
The forest The fair traveller A mad impulse The truth
as a compliment Audaces fortuna juvat A reward What
I learned from M. de R.* * * Madame du Hallier Her
lawsuit with the Baron d'Herouville An old lady's amours
Challenge and retort I mean to kill d'Herouville A
convincing reason which prevents me The results of a
kiss Rebellion in the provinces Siege of Bordeaux
Attack on the Faubourg Saint-Severin.
CARRIED away by the personal delight of narrating
my past for the pleasure of recalling one's deeds
is an egoist's pleasure I have but glanced at those
events of contemporary history wherein I took no
share, and have but roughly sketched those wherein
I played some part, whether as active participator
or witness. This was within my right as a narrator
of trifles, and I have used it freely. But there are
THE DUG DE ROQUELAUKE 55
circumstances which I ought to have more closely
followed, for from their very gravity they could not
fail to be among the prime factors governing the
course of my life. It is well that I should repair
this error, and to this end I must go back some
years into that more auspicious time when discord
had not yet declared itself among us, and the Par-
lement and the Court had not yet been seen at
divergence nor rebellion sitting, as it were, on the
very steps of the throne.
I think I have said that I took part in the Grave-
lines campaign with the rank of major-general. I
was with Monsieur in the expedition of the following
year, and was present at the siege of Mardik ; but
though this was a creditable feat of arms for the
French and their leader, I was not called upon to
draw my sword throughout the duration of it. Such
a sight was well calculated to heat the blood in my
veins, and the reader will give credence to my word
when I say that I was like a horse champing the
bit with impatience. Fortunately, they soon found
some work for me, and the capture of Bourbourg
having been decided upon, Monsieur summoned me
to his presence and gave me his instructions. I
cannot express the joy I felt at this, but to give some
idea of it, I may say that I had only left Paris in the
hope of distinguishing myself at the head of my
regiments, and that for more than a month I had
been left to my ease like an old horse or a rusty
56 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
musket. This, at least, I can affirm, that on the
day when the trumpet called us to action, I was not
the last to be ready in fighting trim, and I think
this may be said of a soldier's spirit, that it is ever
fresh, eager, and ardent. Campaign life does not
weary, but rather renews his strength ; the clash of
steel animates his zest, the trumpet-summons cheers
his heart, and the sound of the cannon makes a new
man of him. All this, no doubt, lacks direct appli-
cation to me ; for I was, thank God ! still active
and in health, since at the time I was entering upon
my twenty-eighth year ; it is none the less true
that my impressions of war were exactly the same
at this time as at La Marfee, and that I thought
a fair deception ! I was still upon my first essay. . . .
The result of the action set me right about this, but
in a most pleasing way, and so as to greatly com-
pensate me for being no longer at my initiation ;
for we took Bourbourg by storm, and my men per-
formed prodigies of valour, to which effect I think
I may claim to have contributed my share.
We were greatly assisted in this siege by the
courage and experience of M. de Rantzau, who
was thanked to the best of our power by being
created a Marshal of France. For that matter, he
was worthy of the honour as much by birth as
by his military achievements, for he belonged to
one of the oldest and most noble houses of Holstein.
We then moved upon Courtray, where the Due
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 57
d'Enghien joined us with his army. Here the matter
was much protracted, and the besieged offered a
vigorous resistance. But Monsieur kept a good
courage throughout, and the only words which
escaped him in perceptible vexation he uttered
against Cardinal Mazarin, with whom he was none
the less on very good terms. One morning, when
he had summoned us all to headquarters, he ex-
pressed himself as follows :
" Gentlemen, I have to give you a piece of
news which will appear very singular to some of
you, considering that we are the besiegers. It is
that we have but little powder and but a trifle of
ball ammunition. We cannot send to ask for some
of the Marquis de Caracene, who is in command of
the Spaniards, nor of the Duke of Lorraine, who
is also against us, and His Eminence Cardinal
Mazarin has brought us to this plight by his exces-
sive parsimony or his want of forethought, so I
have brought you together here to pray you not to
defer the capture of the town, and to take measures
for our entering into possession to-morrow morning,
at latest, in the name of the King of France. You
understand, gentlemen ; we can still work our guns
an hour or two, and even then it will be a close
thing. ... So take your steps accordingly."
His counsel was followed to the letter, and on
the following day Courtray surrendered uncondition-
ally. \Ve naturally desired to obey His Royal
58 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Highness, who was, in fact, very well content with
the way in which we had eked out our supplies.
And it was true that after we had entered the town
we could still boast of seven or eight cannon-balls,
though for that matter I know not how they would
have served us, for our powder was completely out.
It will be admitted that such carelessness has rarely
been known, especially in a campaign by French
Be that as it may, the affair brought great credit
to me, and it appears that I gave proof of two or
three happy inspirations on the field of battle, for
Monsieur made me his compliments in person, and
conferred upon me, by way of recompense, the rank
Finding myself master of my movements after
these two campaigns, and not being under any urgent
necessity to return to Paris, I took it into my head
to travel in Flanders, and proceeded as far as Amster-
dam, the reputation of which town for commerce had
long aroused my curiosity. I may say at once that
I had no reason to congratulate myself on that long
and tedious journey. The country around the town
seemed to me ugly, and the town itself offered me
scant gratification. What was Roquelaure to do
in a place where the sum of pleasures consists, I
believe, in walking in the neighbourhood of the
Bourse, looking at the fine houses of the Heere and
the Kaisersgraft, and visiting the Hotel de Ville ?
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE $9
No doubt I may be reminded that I might divert
myself by looking at the harbour of the town, which
often contains a thousand or two thousand vessels,
and these form the finest floating forest that can be
conceived. To which I will make answer that it
is in fact an interesting sight, and that I admired it
throughout one whole day, and that a man's mind
must be terribly ill composed if that did not suffice
The heavy climate and gross atmosphere of Hol-
land were not without their influence upon my dispo-
sition, which within a week lost a great deal of its
gaiety. So I soon took thought for my departure.
But before doing so I wished to extend my study
to the feminine population of the town, hoping that
this study would repay me for my trouble. Alas !
Alas! The Dutch women are a sad race! It did
not take me long to see that the hands of these
fair ones were of more than the size that betokens
honest work and of a scarce pleasing shape ; that
their eyes were dull, of a faded hue, and of a
melancholy lack of expression ; that the greater
number of them had bad long teeth, which were
transparent and often loose-set in the gums ; that
their paleness was rather that of the sickly than
of the interesting woman, and that their legs sup-
ported a form which was almost invariably ill-shaped,
and were neither plump nor comely nor slender.
So much for the middle class. As for the girls
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among the vulgar, I was sorry to observe that they
had execrable habits. As soon as it was cold, there
was not one of them but sat to her work with a
chaufferette under her feet. Their dress is not at-
tractive ; most of those whom I met during my
short sojourn in Amsterdam wore a little white
headband, under which all their hair was easily
concealed, a bodice of white pique, not fitted with
whalebone, a grey-coloured jacket from their shoul-
ders to their hips, and a slack-hanging skirt, whose
one advantage was that it showed the calf, which,
unhappily, was rarely a comely one. To this must
be added that the Dutch women are neither lively
nor merry ; that they are alike ignorant of the
arts of pleasing and the arts of loving ; that they
generally show a freezing seriousness ; and you will
understand forthwith that I hurried on my packing
and retreated bag and baggage from this accursed
land. When I passed the frontier I breathed deep
enough to crack my lungs, and sneezed hard enough
to burst my brain. I felt as if I should choke from
the effects of too much hot tea, and that I was
haunted by an infernal odour of tobacco. I freed
myself from these grievous fancies so soon as I
had lost sight of the foggy fringes of the Zuyder
Zee and beheld the smiling hills of Lorraine. France
took me to her heart again as an indulgent mother
opens her arms to a spoiled child. For that matter,
I had not been faithless to her in such wise as
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 6l
should cause her to treat me severely. My brief
desertion to a foreign land had but made me prouder
of my country and more a lover of her beauties.
I played truant here and there on my return
journey. Having no predetermined plan of my
course, I let the whim of the moment govern it,
and fared no worse on that account. Taking it all
in all, I had a very quiet journey of it, and nothing
happened to me which is worthy of being narrated
at length. But I will make mention of two occur-
rences, of which one befell at Mezieres, where I
stayed two days, and the other in the forest of
Compiegne. To begin with, here is the incident at
It was Whit-Sunday, and I went to hear mass
at the cathedral. But as I arrived at the moment
of the elevation, I remained for the sermon, which
I was told was to be preached by Father Truguet,
whose reputation as a theologian and an orator
was more established in his province than in the
remainder of France, for I had never heard him
spoken of until then. So I took my place in the
nave, in front of the pulpit, and gave my mind to
pious attention, as circumstances required of me.
The Abbe went into the pulpit, solemnly assumed
his black gown, and entered upon the finest sermon,
perhaps, that I have ever heard in my whole life
upon the thesis, which might for all that be disputed
up to a certain point, that God has well made all
that he has made.
62 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
No complaint could have been lodged against
the attentiveness of the congregation, and I sur-
rendered myself to the persuasive enthusiasm of
Father Truguet's eloquence. But from time to time
my attention was diverted by the nervous movements
of a misshapen little man seated quite close to me,
who was continually repeating :
" Tis not to be believed. My God ! My God !
Will not Thy lightnings confound this ignorant priest ?
In truth ... a man might turn Turk. . . . He will
not leave off ... the same silliness again and again.
No, no, 'tis settled. I will become a Turk."
These mutterings, the sense of which it was
impossible to divine, were uttered below his breath
and on the tip of his tongue, as it were. I took
no further notice for some time than to utter a
" hush ! " or two in his direction ; then he would
be quiet for a moment, but would begin again more
eagerly than ever. Nothing was left but to put
up with it. At last I let him alone and thought
no more of him.
The sermon was finished amid a general hum
of approbation, and I was one of the last to leave
the church. I had reached the pillars of the porch,
and was about to quit the place for good and all,
when I noticed the Abbe Truguet walking towards
one of the side-streets, and my hunchback, who was
running after him, shouting :
" Monsieur 1'Abbe ! . . Monsieur 1'Abbe ! "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 63
Father Truguet stopped, and I, incited by that
desire to know which forms a good half of my life,
drew near, though I left a fair enough distance
between them and me to save me from accusations
" Were you calling to me ? " asked the reverend
Father, turning round.
" Yes, you, sir," replied the hunchback, making
a respectful bow.
" How can I serve you, my friend ? "
" Monsieur 1'Abbe, you can enlighten my conscience
about a point of religion that now seems very obscure
" You have my attention," said the priest, " and if
my feeble aid ..."
" What I want to understand is a very simple
matter," resumed the hunchback. " Did not you say just
now in church before a large congregation, Monsieur
1'Abbe, that God has made all he has made perfectly ? "
" Certainly. . . . Well ? "
"Well, Monsieur 1'Abbe, look at me."
And saying thus, the hunchback performed as fine
a pirouette as has ever been seen in a ballet, and by
this skilful manoeuvre exposed to the theologian's
view a protuberance of which it would have been
hard to find the like.
" Well," replied the Abbe, slightly astonished,
" what do you mean to say ? "
" I mean to say, Monsieur 1'Abbe, that if you can
64 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
succeed in proving to me that I am perfectly made, I
will own you delivered a splendid sermon just now ;
if not, I think I have the right to assert that in all
we heard there is not a grain of common sense."
Father Truguet frowned, like a man conscious of
the difficulty. But almost immediately he resumed
his usual tranquillity of manner, and replied to the
enthusiastic disputant :
" My good friend, do not be led astray. . . . You
are perfectly made, for a hunchback."
And the excellent Abbe went quietly on his way.
The questioner, astounded by such a display of con-
fidence, looked himself over for a long time, as if he
sought to understand the explanation he had just
heard. I saw him smile . . . and I could have
sworn that he felt a little glow of conceit at the
moment, and was beginning to feel convinced that
the preacher was right. . . .
It was my intention to pass a few days at my
house at Saint-Germain before I returned to Paris.
But first I proceeded to Compiegne, where my good
friend M. de R*** } who was the confidant of my
first affair with Madame de Lavernay, had had a
little chateau built for his pleasure, and I had
promised to accept his hospitality for a day or two.
M. de R*** was delighted to see me, and he
invited all the gentlefolk of the neighbourhood to
dinner on the second of the two days, that on
which I was to start for Paris. As we had planned,
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 65
we were upon the road about four o'clock, after a
repast which had been as merry as it was elegant,
and the little band that escorted me promised to
continue with me till night fell. While we were
thus proceeding, the incident occurred of which I
spoke above. We had been about two hours upon
our way chatting, laughing, and letting our mounts
take their own pace, when we saw a splendid coach
advancing towards us, drawn by two Spanish horses
of the finest breed, and surrounded by a numerous
body of outriders, servants, and grooms, evidently
prepared for a journey of long duration. We sup-
posed at first that it was some gentleman of the
neighbourhood who was about to take up his abode
elsewhere, and was in consequence bringing his whole
household retinue with him. But what was our
surprise when we perceived that the coach contained
but a single lady, clad in a costume at once rich and
simple, and of a truly faultless beauty. The carriage
stopped, and the lady, who seemed struck with the
loveliness of the view, had had the windows of her
carriage let down that she might the better survey
the horizon reddened by the setting sun.
Messieurs de Laval, de la Moussaye, de Choiseul,
and de Piennes, whose horses were walking in line
with my own, looked at her from the corners of
their eyes one after the other, but none recognised
her . . . and they all agreed that she was one of
those majestic creatures who command respect, and
VOL. in 5
66 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
in whose presence the science so easily put in practice
elsewhere is sometimes forgotten.
They even turned towards the others of the band
that they might repress indiscreet murmurs. We
moved forward in silence, and soon passed into a
thickly-grown glade, which set a green barrier
between us and the lady on her travels.
" Gentlemen," said I to those around me, " I
will own one thing to you, and that is, I have an
enormous inclination to speak to the lady."
" What a mad notion ! "
" Just so, 'tis after my own fashion."
" What would you say to her ? "
" Whatever came into my head."
" Do you know her ? "
" No more than you."
" Bah ! you would not dare to."
" I should dare."
" Let it pass," said Laval, " Roquelaure has
these fads now and then. But they get no further
than talk, you may be sure of that."
" You think so, Laval ? And if you saw me now
approach her, what would you say ? "
" I should say that you were just going to pass
round her coach, look her insolently in the face,
and then come back to tell us if she is as fair at
close quarters as at a distance."
" Now see how my actions belie your words,"
replied I to Laval, clapping both my spurs into
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 67
my horse, and going straight up to the lady in
question, while my companions remained where I
had left them, motionless and attentive.
A few seconds had sufficed me for determining
my plan of action. When I came within a few
paces of the coach, I sprang to the ground, gave
my horse to a servant, whom I had had the fore-
thought to bring at my heels, and bowed profoundly
to the fair traveller, who, at the moment when I
approached, was alighting from her carriage, no
doubt in the intention of traversing a part of the
" Madame," said I to her, wasting no time in
needless hesitation, " I know not who you are, nor
do you know who I am. You are going in one
direction, I in another. We have never seen each
other before, and 'tis likely we shall not meet again,
so you have every reason to believe that my homage
is sincere, when I here declare, kneeling at your
feet, and with my hand on my heart, that I think
you the most perfect creature perhaps that I have
ever seen, and that you have the finest eyes in
The lady was conscious of her worth ... so
much was to be inferred from her proud glance
and the noble dignity of her bearing. So she did
not receive these words as a mere compliment, but
as a truth simply and solemnly asserted. It took
her but a little time to recover from her surprise,
68 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
and then she replied to me, overcoming some slight
" Monsieur, it is likely, as you said just now,
that our meeting will not be repeated. For it is
certain that you are proceeding to Paris, and as
for me ... I am leaving France for ever. ... It
matters not. ... I owe you some thanks. . . . Here
is my hand, Monsieur."
To the favour thus implied she added that of
withdrawing her glove, and I raised to my lips,
and for a whole minute pressed to them, a hand
as soft as an infant's and as white as alabaster.
The kiss lasted a little too long. She softly
released herself, smiled graciously, stepped into her
coach again, and set forth once more.
Now it was my turn to linger on the spot, to
which my emotion rooted me, insensible and speech-
less. I was roused from this sort of stupor by the
exclamations which soon broke out behind me.
" 'Twas fine ! " said one.
" He bewitches the women ! " said another.
" I am beaten, and I own to the defeat," added
Laval, tapping me on the shoulder.
Hearing my victory thus celebrated, and pro-
claimed by the very man who had, so to say,
challenged me, put new heart into me and restored
my self-possession. I got into the saddle again,
and was overwhelmed with questions about the
means, most likely supernatural, I had employed
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 69
to compass my intent. I left these questions un-
answered, saying, by way of excuse, that I kept
that sort of secrets to myself. In the meanwhile,
M. de R * * *, who, being old, was not getting forward
so fast as we, and had tarried with the rearguard
of us, came up, for he had put his beast, which
was a poor one, yet headstrong, and guided its
rider far more than he controlled it, to a canter.
" Did you notice," said he, " the lady who has just
passed close to us ? "
" Oh, yes ! . . . what is her name ? "
" She is Madame du Hallier," replied M. de
R * * *, " one of the richest heiresses of Noyon. She
is on her way to Havre, whence she will sail for
Guadeloupe; she has five or six millions there in
land, houses and slaves."
They told M. de R * * * what had just taken
place, and he heartily congratulated me.
" To kiss Madame du Hallier's hand ! " said he.
" One of my friends, the Comte de S * * *, would
not have blown out his brains if he could have achieved
These few words were calculated to arouse my
curiosity very strongly about the life and conduct of
Madame du Hallier; so, taking M. de R * * * aside,
I adjured him by his friendship to satisfy my curiosity
on this head completely. I learned that she had been
a widow for a year, that she was going to her brother
in Guadeloupe, and that among her neighbours in the
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country she had a high reputation for virtue, though
she had also a fine crop of admirers.
" But as to that," said M. de R * ^ *, leaving his
tale abruptly, "you are a Gascon, and do you not
know D'Herouville ? "
" Only by name. He belonged to Bordeaux."
" Well, a strange thing happened to Madame du
Hallier, and d'Herouville was concerned in it in a way
that was little gratifying to himself, but he got out of
the scrape, thanks to his wit."
" Did it not happen," I said to M. de R ***, "in
reference to a lawsuit in which I saw their names
connected last year throughout the sitting of the
Brittany Parlement ? "
" Just so. The matter in question was the estate
of old Madame des Mortreux, who was cousin to
Madame du Hallier, and she had an undoubted
right to the property. It is a really curious thing
to know how she was kept out of it. Would you
like me to tell you ? "
" I should be glad."
" Madame des Mortreux," resumed M. de R * * *,
who was a great talker, " Madame des Mortreux
was about fifty, but she was liable to returns of
youthfulness from time to time, and it was a point
of honour with her to show the little town in which
she lived that she was well preserved enough to
suffer no lack of suitors. So she had cast her eyes
upon D'Herouville, a very perfect young gentleman,
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 7!
whose manner very strongly recalled that of the
elegant migtwns of Henry III.'s court. Old men
used to say that he was like Saint-Megrin. He
had the same look of graceful chivalry, the same
light way of speech, and the same taste for extrava-
gance, luxury and display. Madame des Mortreux
would have been mad for him on far less provo-
cation. Her passion was soon known to everybody,
for she sought after him openly, and never left him
at peace. As she had no children, there was no
one to gainsay her seriously, and the amour of
Madame des Mortreux, at the age of fifty, for
D'Herouville, a young gentleman not yet thirty,
became the talk of the countryside within three
" In all this," said I, interrupting him, " I see no
sign of Madame du Hallier."
" Wait a little. Everything in due place.
D'Herouville let matters take their course. He
was a lively fellow who had spent a patrimony of
some thousands of crowns with two or three merry
ladies of Paris, among whom were Madame de
Moussy, the sister of Du Gue Bagnols, the Master
of Requests, La Clinchamp and Madame de Bressieu.
At the time when he became acquainted with
Madame des Mortreux, he was very much like a
man in danger of drowning, who clings as well as
he can to the first support he finds. His pocket was
desperately empty, and he had need of all the influ-
72 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
ence he derived from his name, which was accounted
one of the best in Guienne, to keep afloat above the
disaster which continually threatened to overwhelm
him. Madame des Mortreux worked miracles and set
all this right. D'Herouville was grateful, and it
ceased to be a secret to anybody that he had
brought his homage to Madame des Mortreux's knees.
From the day when the amorous compact was sealed
by the final favour, the foolish old lady was beside
herself with joy, and would gladly have sent her old
friends an invitation to be present, adding an im-
pressive announcement that music would be played."
" I am further from Madame du Hallier than
ever," said I, spurring my horse ; but at the same
time I curbed him in.
" Gadswings, how impatient you are ! A man has
no fair chance to tell a story to you, Roquelaure.
Come, let me go my own pace. Let me see . . .
where was I ? Ah, matters went thus for about six
months, and then Madame des Mortreux was seized
with so violent a colic that she had to take to her
bed. D'Herouville behaved as a worthy fellow, and
summoned all the doctors of the neighbourhood.
The ill-natured declared that he had but set so
many doctors upon her to make it impossible for
her to recover. If it were so, he was out in his
reckoning, for the colic passed off, and the invalid
regained her health in a fortnight. This was made
the occasion of a ball and supper at her house, and
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 73
the merriment was kept up till three o'clock in the
morning. Thereupon, having waited till all the rest
were gone, she told the Baron d'Herouville that
she looked upon her last illness as a warning of
Heaven which must not be disregarded, and that
she had therefore resolved to make her will. The
lawyer, who was summoned without more ado, told
me all the details himself. Madame des Mortreux
announced it as her firm intention to divide the
whole of her estate into two halves, whereof the
one, consisting of ready money and certain revenues
secured to her by deed, was to go to Madame du
Hallier, while the other, comprising the castle and
land of D'Estrelles, was to pass to the young Baron.
" D'Herouville made some difficulties about ac-
cepting such a rare windfall, and whether the bene-
factress had to overcome his delicacy by a sweet
violence is not known precisely to anybody, and
I would not swear to it. However that may be,
three months after the will had been signed, sealed,
and delivered, Madame des Mortreux, who insisted
on having her dresses as low-cut as if she had been
thirty, caught the bronchitis, which brought her
to her bed a second time. This time, all the Latin
the Faculty had was wasted on her, for she died. . . ."
" Poor mad old woman ! So Madame du Hallier
lost the land ! "
" Now that vexes you, does it not ? The will
was read. D'Herouville, there being nothing irregular
74 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
to allege, came to take possession of the chateau the
week following, However, he found the gate shut,
and, when he asked what such a piece of insolence
meant, the hall-keeper told him through the bars
that Madame du Hallier, the late lady's cousin,
had obtained an order of court to stay the grant
of probate, and that judgment on her appeal must
be waited for.
" Is that all ? " said D'Herouville ; " I will await it."
" The lawsuit was pushed on in fine style. Madame
du Hallier had the President's ear, and was on the
best terms with several counsellors, who hurried
on the hearing, and gave her every assurance of
success. She was overjoyed. D'Herouville simply
stood upon his rights and the terms of the will,
the clear meaning of which could hardly be disputed.
The result proved that he was right in taking the
matter calmly. In spite of all the influences on
which Madame du Hallier relied, judgment was
given in favour of D'Herouville."
" All the judgments in the world would not make
D'Herouville an honest gentleman," I muttered in
a surly fashion.
" That is possible . . . but hear the end of it. ...
As they left the court-house, Madame du Hallier,
whose features gained in handsomeness when ani-
mated by anger, made her way through the press
and passed close to her opponent. She stopped in
front of him, and, looking him in the face, said :
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 75
" ' Monsieur le Baron, you must own that your
estate did not cost you a heavy price ! '
" ' Well, you know what it cost me, Madame,'
replied D'Herouville, without wincing, 'and I offer
it to you at the same price.' "
" 'Twas extremely impudent ! " cried I, with indig-
" It showed a ready wit, none the less," resumed
M. de R** :;: , smiling, "and you will agree with
me that it made retort difficult. Madame du Hallier
dropped her eyes, turned pale, and withdrew. She
had good reason to. They say she has never for-
given D'Herouville for the saying. As for him, he
had abundant consolation for all the rancour she
might harbour against him and the ill-will she bore
him. He was young, the lands and domain of
D'Estrelles brought him in a good thirty thousand
livres rentroll, and no small matter in our merry
land of France the laugh was on his side. What
think you of it, Roquelaure ? "
" I think," answered I, rousing myself with diffi-
culty from my absorption, " I think you must tell
me at once where D'Herouville lives."
" What do you mean ? "
" I mean to go straight thither and crop his ears
for him ! "
" That you will not do."
" Aye, but I will."
" Nay, but you will not."
76 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" I tell you I will kill him."
" Then I give you my word of honour as a
gentleman," said M. de R***, solemnly, "that
you will not kill him."
" And why not, if you please ? "
" Because he is dead."
" Was it a duel ? "
" No, sickness."
" It could not in justice be otherwise. A man who
could mock such a woman was an inborn criminal and
deserved to die a rascal's death ! "
" Roquelaure," resumed M. de R***, stretching
out his hand to me, "if we were not on horseback, I
would embrace you, for Ariosto's Roland was but a
child to you. What a heart is yours, and how easily
inflamed ! "
I let M. de R*** talk on as he would. For my
fancy was completely captured, and the image of
Madame du Hallier seemed ever to be passing and
repassing before my eyes. A devouring flame seemed
to hover on my lips, the remnant of the fire lighted by
her hand. Cherished sorrows, happy days of pain
when the mind swoons upon a word, when happiness
wells out of a haphazard kiss, when impossible loves
give a pretext for thousands of delightful dreams,
whither are ye gone ? Why have ye abandoned me ?
Such sadness is the joy of youth, and makes us just
such a bed as a ship's hammock that soothes to sleep
and gently rocks us.
My friends did not leave me long to my dreams,
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 77
and before they left me insisted upon some half-dozen
bottles of Anjou wine, whereof I drank my share in
such wise as to show them that my stomach was as
sound as my heart.
That night, as I fell asleep, I was turning over
this idea in a hundred different forms.
" If I set sail for America ! "
On the following day this mad idea had happily
gone from me. . . .
With this, we may, with the reader's good will,
pass for the second time over the four or five years
we had omitted, and we will return to the point
whereto we were come before this chapter, that
is to say, when the Opposition was at its height,
and when I was in Paris.
It was not my lot to remain there long. The
agitation was almost universal in the provinces, and
it compelled Mazarin, the Queen Regent, and the
young king to leave Paris, and betake themselves
to the parts infected with revolt. In a little time
Burgundy had been brought to subjection, and
Normandy, in spite of the powerful influence that
the Duchesse de Longueville had there, had also
returned to its allegiance. Thence they proceeded
to Guyenne, and the siege of Bordeaux was deter-
I was called on to take part in the latter under-
taking, wherein Cardinal Mazarin gave notable proofs
of his skill in strategy, and the correctness of his
dispositions in attacking a town. His Eminence,
78 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
before the decisive time, ascended the tower of
Saint-Ivony, and from that point resolved beforehand
on the order in which the action should proceed.
Some part of the king's troops has been accused of
not displaying all due zeal and activity in this siege.
I believe this accusation to be unjust, and for my
own part I can assert that the corps at whose head
I charged did its duty nobly. We had received
the Cardinal's orders to take the Faubourg de Saint-
Severin, and, by returning two or three times to the
charge, we carried it by storm. I came out of the
siege with a little more glory and a little less blood,
for I was severely wounded in it. However, I
recovered while the negotiations were in progress,
and I remember that on the day when the amnesty
was granted to the Bordelais, I was afoot once more,
to my great satisfaction.
Perhaps I had need of a few days of repose,
but it was written that the stress of life was to
leave me not one minute's truce. Ever between
Mars and Cupid, I could give no moment but the
other seemed jealous of it, and in this case the
result was that I hurried from the ramparts of
Bordeaux to the streets of Paris, as if I had been
uplifted by invisible wings.
Capricious fortune had still many victories and
many defeats in store for me.
My intrigue with Madame des Lesdiguieres will
form the subject of the succeeding chapter.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 79
Madame de Lesdiguieres We revert to the past A fool ! !
What the word means in a woman's mouth Serious enquiry
into the subject Description of M. de Lesdiguieres Self-
satisfaction Dangerof playing with fire A genuine passion
Roses and thorns Discouragements A cruel jest Despair
Anger A letter and the answer Impertinence paid out I
abandon the ground A retreat half in sorrow and half in
anger I take refuge with the Jesuits of Beauvais
The Reverend Father Daniel A new Saint Augustine
Religious discussions that have little to do with my state
of mind Pious recommendations of Father Daniel
Jansenius. what have I to do with thee ? I leave the
monastery Consequences of a luckless passion Vagrant
follies I take no more account of my actions Guilty
THE reader, I think, will not altogether have for-
gotten a certain little journey I took one day from Le
Grand-Mesnil to Paris in the company of Madame de
Lesdiguieres. I had serious reasons for feeling
aggrieved with that lady, and the pretty things she
had said of me to her husband had made me so ill-
disposed towards her, that I had found it in my heart
to mystify her in a way throughout a whole night
without yielding, as might very well have happened,
to the seductions of her beauty, though this might
well be reckoned among the most perfect that had
8O SECRET MEMOIRS OF
ever rejoiced my eyes. I had been wounded to the
quick, and the very essence of my self-esteem had
been attacked, so I had taken refuge in prudence, and
this had at least saved me from a humiliating rebuff.
I had felt very proud of this conquest of myself, and
I had hugged myself about it till the day when,
through a friend's indiscretion, I learned what she had
written in her letter to M. de Lesdiguieres, wherein
she had said plainly that I was a fool. . . .
A fool ! ! !
I found it hard to reconcile myself to the word, and
only accustomed myself to it with difficulty. Never-
theless, before I flew into a rage, which would have
been mere folly, for I only knew of the matter by
hearsay, I determined to await events and to preserve
a dignified and becoming attitude.
A fool ! . . . because I had been polite, diffident
and unpresuming ! A fool because I had chanted her
husband's praises in every key ! . . . A fool ! . . .
Who could tell ? . . . Possibly because I had not
paid my court to her !
This was a ray of light. Perhaps another in my
place would have taken this revelation as a crushing
blow. But I discovered in it a whole seed-bed of
brilliant hopes and a new outlook.
From the time when I learned through the
officious services of a friend that Madame de
Lesdiguieres had written my eulogy in four letters,
and that she had bestowed her confidence in that
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 8l
respect upon her husband, I promised myself not
that I would be avenged, for the injury did not strike
deep enough for that but that with all the patient
sagacity of a calm and cool philosopher, I would seek
out the cause of that unprovoked attack an attack
concerning which I may also say that it was un-
M. des Lesdiguieres, who was a very agreeable
man at times, but whimsical beyond imagination, was
scarcely likely to interfere with my manoeuvres. He
was a husband in the broadest acceptation of the
term calm, indifferent, loving his tranquillity, and
full of a robust confidence which he derived, not from
such opinion as he might hold of his wife's virtue,
but from his high estimation of his own value. There
are people of this sort, who build themselves a
splendid pedestal and live rapt with their own praise
of themselves as in a ceaseless triumphant hymn ; and
these people are the really happy folk. They believe
with a simplicity which often carries weight with
the commonalty in their universal superiority. If
they were allowed, they would assume all elegance,
all distinction, all bravery, and all wit as their
exclusive heritage, and would leave nothing for the
rest of us. M. des Lesdiguieres, thus absorbed in
self-satisfaction, was hardly likely to prove a serious
obstacle to me. He paid too much attention to
himself to attend to me, and was too closely wedded
to his habits, both of work and pleasure, to under-
VOL. Ill 6
82 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
take a surveillance which would have deranged his
life and vexed his mind.
But though the land was almost entirely unpro-
tected on this side, yet I could not conclude it had
no protection. At the end of a month of marching
and countermarching, and of little skirmishes and
attacks, which involved no consequences, and yet
sufficed to show how the land lay, I was forced
to admit that the campaign would be long, the
attempt hazardous, and success doubtful. I had
many reasons for believing that Madame de Lesdi-
guieres had yet to learn the promptings of her heart ;
she showed nothing of the restless impatience that
characterises a woman sated with repose and tired
of freedom. She went a great deal to the court,
to the theatre, to the Hotel de Rambouillet, and,
what was most remarkable, she found amusement
everywhere, and this in my view was the worst
symptom that evoked my fears. But all these
considerations did not suffice to put me out of heart,
only I took example by the valiant knights of old,
who, if they were setting forth upon some important
conquest, passed many days in silence and meditation,
and I prepared myself for the campaign I had in
view by a seclusion that I rigorously observed, and
by freeing myself without regret from that in-
numerable host of gossamer bonds in which, I
believe, not one single hour of my life had not
been entangled. All my ideas of gallantry, pleasure,
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 83
and love were now concentrated in one, and this
thereby gained greater consistency and force. All
the images of women that haunted my mind, and
made my head a sort of harem wherein my thoughts
could walk voluptuously, vanished at the apparition
of this new image, and this was so complete that I
now scattered to the winds all that remained with me
of past attachments and souvenirs, and dedicated to
Madame de Lesdiguieres a devotion whose strict
observances absorbed every instant of my time.
But that which had been but a diversion for me at
first became a serious affair without my observing the
change. Instead of my directing the contest as I had
hoped, I found myself gradually enslaved by her.
The further I went the more I lost my self-command
that self-command which is so powerful an ally and
gives us such an incontestable advantage over our
opponents. Perceiving these signs and tokens, I
understood that I should now do better to abandon
my schemes of strategy and follow my inspirations.
Thenceforward a characteristic disorder appeared in
my manner and actions. My visits became so fre-
quent that everybody with the exception of M. de
Lesdiguieres was surprised. I used to arrive too
early in the day and leave too late at night. Some-
times I might have been seen wandering for a couple
of hours together under the duchess's balcony. If
she appeared walking abroad, my coat, sword and
breeches were sure to be visible among the party. At
84 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
the theatre I was at her side or opposite to her. To
cut the story short, it will suffice if I tell the intelligent
reader that I was in love in all the sweet meaning of
that divine phrase, in love as I had never expected to
be, in love as a man is who has passed into his thirties,
and finds his heart grown younger by ten years.
My undisguised enthusiasm did not avail me at
first. My passion was so plainly declared that
Madame de Lesdiguieres could not affect to be
unaware of it ; but the more I displayed it openly,
the more did she seek refuge in a chilling and
inexorable reserve, which would have wearied out
the patience and quenched the ardour of a man more
patient than myself. The various phases through
which this curious amour passed are interesting to
study. At first, Madame de Lesdiguieres affected
to have observed nothing of it, then she simulated
the most innocent surprise, then she strove to con-
vince me that I was quite unfitted to a serious
passion, and at last began to laugh at me. This
last stage of the intrigue completed my mortification,
and I began to despair seriously. I shall never
forget what she said to me one cold winter's night,
the remembrance of which still makes me shudder,
as we left Madame de Bouillon's, where we had
passed the evening in so numerous a company, and
with such a swarm of eager cavaliers, that I had
found it impossible to take my place at her side
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 85
It seems that my face had portrayed my disap-
pointment, a very natural thing, but the dismal and
slack air proper to disappointment ill accorded with
the habitual posture of my mind. While we were
seeking our wraps in the vestibule, I found at last
an opportunity of offering my services to Madame
de Lesdiguieres, and even placed a kerchief about
" Ah ! so 'tis you, Monsieur de Roquelaure,"
she said, settling her cape upon her shoulders, " I
am glad to meet you."
" That is a happiness I have vainly aspired to
all the night, Madame, but I have been deprived
of it by those more fortunate than myself. ... If
you knew how I have felt it ... I had so much
to tell you ! "
" Well, the case is different with me, for I have
but one thing to tell you."
" And that is ? "
" 'Tis a bit of advice given by a friend, and you
would do well to profit by it."
" Let us hear this advice. ..."
" Mon Dieu ! . . . 'tis very simple. I meant to
warn you, my dear Monsieur de Roquelaure, that
the new role you have taken up does not suit you
in the least, and that it is laughable. . . . Only
think ! . . . The Marquis de Roquelaure masque-
rading as the man of sentiment, the sensitive lover,
the Arcadian swain, tender, shy, and dreamy ! . . .
86 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
What a disguise ! or rather, what a travesty ! Is
it not as if Gauthier Gargouille at the Hotel de
Bourgogne were to play a serious part in one of
our great Corneille's pieces ? It is not within the
bounds of probability, it is not possible. I tell you
here in confidence, and for your guidance . . . your
airs of martyrdom have been noticed, your loud sighs
have been heard . . . and people have . . . made
merry ... at your expense."
I repressed an outburst of fury and contented
myself with replying :
" What does the opinion of others matter to me?
But what did you think, and what did you say,
" Oh, that is a very indiscreet question. ... I
did like everybody else, Marquis."
I was dazed by the words. She went out, and
I neither saw the door shut upon her nor did I
see her enter her coach. The insulting tones she
had plainly adopted haunted my ears like a melan-
choly bell ; I was not used to taunts of the kind,
and it seemed to me I was beginning to live in a land
of which I scarcely knew the language and the customs.
This ill-treatment jarred upon me the more because I
felt a real change in myself, and for more than six
months my thoughts, my very soul and life had been
given to this indifferent lady, who made a sport of
wounding me. What could there be for me in this
woman's heart ? Could I suppose that she bore me
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 87
a grudge for the imaginary wrong I had done her on
the journey from the Grand- Mesnil ? This would
have been to suppose in her the narrowest under-
standing and the barest silliness. Yet, that apart,
what motive could she have for hating me ? Never,
since I had devoted my homage to her, never had I
neglected an opportunity, however slight it might be,
of earning her favour and of suggesting my passion ;
so her antipathy for she had shown a real antipathy
could but concern my person. I was displeasing to
her for the very same arbitrary cause, now as in the
other cases without reasonable grounds, which made
me agreeable to others. She hated me without a
motive, and I think that of all hatreds this kind is the
deepest and most incurable.
The despair which this conviction brought me was
coupled with a mortification to which I had been a
complete stranger. The southern blood which coursed
in my veins was roused to revolt. I felt it flow more
strongly and return upon my heart. Oh, if this
woman had been a man !
But she was decidedly a woman there could be
no doubt about it, the sword was of no use against
such an adversary. So I beat my brains for a device,
I sharpened my pen as best I could, dipped it in harm-
less ink, which the mere contact sufficed to turn into
a biting poison, and wrote the following masterpiece
of a letter without any very clear idea of what the
upshot of it would be :
88 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The MARQUIS DE ROQUELAURE to the DUCHESSE DE
MADAME, You will own that you strangely misuse
the right of every young and pretty woman to exercise her
wit with impunity. This is, in truth, a privilege of your
sex. What among us would be called insult passes among
women as sprightliness, liveliness, airy raillery and sweet
mirth. They are free to give offence, and matters have
been so well arranged to their advantage, that under the
cloak of weakness they show more severity than could be
laid to the charge of the most cruel tyrants of the world.
He who should reproach them with cowardice would be a
laughing-stock what need have they to be generous or
brave ? They are women, and they are weak, and there is
no more to be said. And ye,t, Madame, fool as I am, I
sometimes entertain ideas which are not everybody's ideas,
and I fancy this camp of refuge to which you so pru-
dently resort is not so inviolable as you think, and that
you could be drawn thence, not indeed to have single com-
bat forced upon you, but to be brought as an onlooker to
such a combat undertaken in your honour. Perhaps you
do not understand my meaning ; but I will make it under-
stood. I am not the dupe of those semblances of rigour
with which you have so long destroyed my hopes. Some
other, whom I do not know, but whom you know better
than anybody in the world, is certainly the possessor of
that love which you so obstinately refuse to me. He it is
whom I would bring to account for your disdain. Show
him to me . . . where is he ? Where may he be found ?
Is he Lanoye, D'Emery, D'Andilly, De Biran, De Fiesque ?
For, let me tell you that all these worthy gentlemen are
accounted to be upon the pathway of your favours, some
approaching, some returning. As for my challenge, here
it is already made. Show this letter to him who is your
lover, Madame, and be he who he may, I augur too well
of his courage to suppose that he will not think himself in
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 89
honour bound to avenge you at once. Ask him to take to
his own charge the generous raillery you have so nobly
showered upon me. The least he can do is to answer for
you. Adieu ! Madame, the only favour I will ask of you
henceforward is, that you bring me face to face with him
who has inspired in you the brave wit to which I have
fallen the victim. When he will and where he will, I shall
be at his orders.
And I signed in full.
When Cascarel crossed the threshold of the house
carrying this insolent missive, and carrying it at the
top of his speed, as I had rigorously enjoined upon
him, I was upon the point of recalling him, and of
destroying with my own hands this sad record of
my anger. But Cascarel had strong legs, and it was
not in my nature to recoil before any folly, however
wild it might be. This one might turn to tragedy,
and I could not discern how far its consequences
would go, and this was the very reason why I finally
resolved to let it take its course. I was curious
to see the results of my work, and to realise to
what perilous and unknown ways we may be some-
times brought by a savage and unreasoned impulse.
I had scarcely had time to think over these
various considerations when I saw Cascarel return,
still running and all in a sweat. I saw there was
a letter in his hand, and at first thought it was
my own which had not been opened. But it was
not so ; it was the reply. I leave the reader to
imagine how eagerly I broke the seal. Here is the
letter word for word.
90 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The DUCHESSE DE LESDIGUIERES to the MARQUIS DE
As I have nobody to send you on whom you may
vent your anger, I was tempted for a moment, Monsieur
le Marquis, to submit to my husband's view the witty
reasons you give in your letter to justify your insolence
to me. But I feared that he would not be content with
laughing at it, and in truth your singular fury does not
deserve to be treated seriously. If I were like the fair
Madame de Chateau-Guy de Murat, who, in spite of
her petticoats, is certainly a good deal like a man, and
scarcely ever goes out but in high boots, astride upon
her horse, with pistols in the holsters and a sword at
her side, I should have come to offer you combat with
equal arms at the place assigned. But, in spite of your
fire-eating manner, the style of attack you have adopted
gives me a good example which I prefer to follow. You
challenge me with the pen, and I will reply with the pen.
Since you find no place in my heart you pretend to
believe and affirm that 'tis a place taken, though in reality
you know well that this is an unworthy slander. Here
is a poor vengeance, Monsieur le Marquis! Happily,
when once I have burned your letter as I shall do in
a moment nothing will remain of the calumny but a
handful of ashes, that I shall scatter with my breath,
and the wind will carry them far away.
And now a word about the grievous crime I have
committed against you. I do not love you ! This is
intolerable to your pride, which has been misled by too
many victories and blinded by too easy triumphs. But
among what women have you lived 1 What have you
learned by your long and vaunted excursions into the fair
land of Love ? Alas ! I fear that even while your praises
were being sung here, you have but borne to the feet of
false divinities the incense that a reasonable man should
never burn but on the altar of the true gods. Does the
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE QI
man of facile success resemble those navigators who
return from most of the countries at which they touch with
hearts full of disgust and minds devoid of recollections,
because they have visited there in haste and have studied
neither language, character nor customs ? But I will say
no more. . . . What good end will such blame serve ?
Why should I seek to bring into a better way the man who,
wounded by the merely passive indifference that I have
shown him, does not refrain himself from arousing my
hatred and contempt. I have nothing to ask of that man,
nothing to tell him, for in him everything is falsified, his
understanding, his mind . . . even his heart.
It was a crushing blow. My attack had but
shown her to be greater and nobler that I had
imagined in my most frenzied exaggerations. My
unworthiness, after this little conflict, seemed to me
so plainly and evidently established, that I was
ashamed, and my first impulse was to think of
finding some corner in the world where I might
hide my face, on which I thought everybody could
read the ignominious news of my defeat. My depair
was genuine, and the deeper because there was
added to it the disappointment and humiliation that
everybody will easily imagine ; so I persisted in my
resolve to quit Paris. Two days after the incident
of the letters I engaged post-horses and started upon
the road at top speed. Where was I going ?
Whither was I being taken ? The first man I met
could have told better than I at the moment, for
though I had given the postillion precise orders, I can
truly assert that I had forgotten them.
Q2 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
I only remembered the end of my journey when I
reached it. I alighted before a great building with
high and sombre walls that cast a melancholy shade
afar and before a door of thick oak that was surmounted
by a cross.
" Where are we ? " I asked of the postillion.
He answered in amazement :
" You are where you ordered me to drive you, sir ;
at the Jesuit convent at Beauvais."
These words restored me opportunely to an appre-
ciation of the facts which I had in some sort lost in
my perturbation and my reveries. Then I remembered
that I had in fact intended to seek out an old friend of
my father's at Beauvais, who, after travelling in Africa
as a missionary, had retired to this convent about two
years before. On entering the society, he had re-
nounced his family name, which was one of the most
famous in Orleans, and was only known as the
Reverend Father Daniel. He had known me when
I was very young, and his good reception did not fail
me in spite of the too jovial reputation that attached
always and everywhere to my name. As I was in
very poor spirits the holy fathers, to whom I was
introduced at the same date, thought they saw in me
a new Saint Augustine, who had foresworn the vile
delights 'of this life, and was about to astound the
world by his conversion. The Reverend Father
Daniel took the same view, and told me as much the
following day. But as I did not wish to keep him any
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 93
longer under an illusion, I told him that it was not
my intention to take religious vows, though even that
might happen, for I was sure of nothing ; but that at
the moment I had only come to seek in the calm and
isolation of the cloister solace for that unhappiness
which my fellow-creatures had caused me by their
ingratitude and perversity. This explanation, though
in fact it explained nothing, satisfied the Reverend
Father Daniel better than I had expected. It was
not in his nature to force the vocation upon anybody,
and though he was a Jesuit, he did not carry religious
zeal to the point of seeking to effect my salvation in
spite of myself. Only when he knew that I was to
return in a few days to that impious world where the
true tenets were subject to so many wicked attacks,
he tried to make me an adept in sound doctrine and
a defender of the ancient faith attacked on all sides
by the many innovations that had originated in
Luther's audacity. Above all, he strained every
nerve to inspire me with detestation of Jansenism,
and of that imprudent bishop whose name stood for
this impious cult. During this casual sojourn among
the Jesuits of Beauvais I gained this much that I
heard the history of Jansenius, his school, and his
disputes with the Holy See many times ; but may I
be hanged if I understood a word of it ! Good Father
Daniel, who put a holy fervour into his instruction,
thought he interested me greatly by thundering a host
of discourses at my ears ; some were more and some
94 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
less intelligible, and he brought into them, with
erudition worthy of a better audience, the tendencies
of Bai'us, the heresy of Calvin, free will and predestina-
tion, the orthodoxy of the bishops and the infallibility
of the Pope, the errors of the semi-Pelagians and the
various systems of the Doctors of Flanders. The
attention I showed as I listened to him overwhelmed
him with delight. . . . Alas ! poor theologian, second
sight was lacking to thee ! He never suspected that
while his flight took him so majestically to the
high regions of learning my heavy wings scarce
skimmed above the earth, and that all my humble
interests were centred in what I had left in the world
and in my human memories.
At the end of a week this playing at a monk's life
grew so wearisome to me that I thought of packing
my trunk 'twas in sober earnest a valise a foot long
and of wishing Father Daniel the best of wishes. Our
parting was a pathetic affair. He urged upon me
with much unction the observance of those rules whose
sublime scope he had attempted to display to me, he
begged me not to swell the already formidable host of
the enemies of the Church, and gave the crowning
grace to his discourse by calling down upon me the
blessings of peace within and prosperity from Heaven.
Thus overwhelmed with celestial advantages, I took
the road for Paris and covered the distance by easy
stages. This trial had given me but a poor idea of my
taste for life in the cloisters, and all that remained
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 95
with me from my retreat in the Jesuits' monastery
was, I think, one of those insatiable appetites that
result from too long abstinence, and require for their
satisfaction a savoury diet and heaped-up dishes.
The ill-success of my passion for Madame de
Lesdiguieres brought its consequences. After the
monastery aberration came the aberration of de-
bauchery. I had determined to dull my senses at all
hazards, and I carried out this mad plan in such a way
as to scandalise even the most indulgent.
" She hates me ! " I often cried in the access of my
fury, which had become little less than a disease.
" So much the better. I will show her that I care
nothing for her hatred. She despises me! Well, she
shall have good reason for it."
Madman that I was ! I was seeking to overcome
her dislike by the very traits that had evoked it, and
I thought, while I rendered myself contemptible in
her eyes, that I was inspiring her with regrets and with
compassion . . . perhaps even with remorse ! Then
I understood better than I had ever done before, that
Love contains the commencements of every vice and
of every virtue, and of the greatest crimes as well as
of the noblest deeds. 'Tis this giddiness which impels
a man, according to the circumstances in which he is,
either to good or evil, and makes of him if he is
of the heroic cast either a prodigy of glory or a
monster of perversity.
If I, upon the occasion of which I have just
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spoken, did not attain to the degree of degradation
which the second term of the dilemma implies, it is
none the less true that I plunged without restraint
into an abyss of artificial delights and intolerable
excesses, where I soon found nothing but weariness,
unreality and disgust. . . Even this did not cure me !
And I was now able to learn from my own experience
that nothing is so tenacious as a passion from which
we seek to liberate ourselves, and that all our struggles
to recover liberty only rivet the chains the closer
The succeeding chapter will demonstrate this
beyond question to the reader if he will take the
trouble to peruse it.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 97
I fall ill A fixed idea Walks at Les Feuillants My love objects
to severe discipline Torments of jealousy A gleam of hope
A torchlight hunt The piqueur The supposed lackey
Madame des Lesdiguieres is queen of the fete A compliment
on my livery A woman between two admirers Obscure
allusions The flight A race Biran and Rambouillet are
conquered A terrible incident The runaway horse Close
to death A providential rescue Madame de Lesdiguieres
and her saviour The reconciliation All places are good for
declaring oneself in Unexpected progress A tried friend-
ship A singular service is demanded of me The private
secretary A trait of heroism Enough to turn one's head
A love message.
To the fugitive frenzies of which I have named the
succeeding phases there soon followed such a prostra-
tion of my strength and will as left me able to do
nothing but regret my errors and grieve over my
shameful aberrations. This state of mind brought
physical consequences, and I fell dangerously ill and
kept my bed a whole month. I must do my friends
justice, both men and women. Not one deserted me
in these sad circumstances, and I had that inexpressible
joy, during the several days while the danger persisted,
of perceiving that I was the object of sincere anxiety
and of eager services rendered with a universal willing-
ness that touched me deeply.
VOL. in 7
98 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
When I recovered, the first name that recurred to
my memory was that of Madame de Lesdiguieres,
and the first image that arose upon my thoughts was
hers. The first time I went forth I turned my steps
towards her house, and when my sleep, becoming
calmer and more clear, was completely freed from the
confused hallucinations of fever, my first dream was
of her. . . .
I learned from Menage that she sometimes walked
in the Feuillants with much company, and this led
many to say that she was Queen of Beauty for the
moment, and that she never went out without being
surrounded by her court.
No single day passed that I did not go to the
Feuillants. I always took care to be accompanied
by somebody, so that I should not be obliged to stop.
Each time I met her, I confirmed the observation
that her husband was rarely at her side, and that two
new cavaliers, MM. de Biran and de Rambouillet
were rivals for the honour of waiting upon her. Each
time that I passed by her she preserved the same cold
and impassive look, and we exchanged salutes and
that was all.
But my love was not long satisfied with such
methods, and it must be owned that upon this diet
it had to go fasting ; jealousy wrought havoc in me,
for as I had failed to establish my rule over the fair
lady's heart, my only real consolation would have
been to see that others failed as I had done. In love
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 99
we are never charitable. I felt convinced that no
one could associate with Madame de Lesdiguieres
without loving her, I formed conjectures the one upon
the other, and made deductions the one from the other,
and the result was that I inevitably came to this con-
clusion that it was very unlikely she showed disfavour
to all her suitors at one and the same time. This
idea had great weight with me, and I felt that I should
know no peace until I had resolved the following
question, which seemed to me to be beyond all con-
tradiction the most important that any man in the
world had ever had to answer, namely : Was there
under the broad heaven any man so fortunate as to be
loved by Madame de Lesdiguieres, and if so, by what
means could I wreak my vengeance on him ?
I ransacked my mind for a long time, but found
nothing for the case ; I no longer frequented the duke's
house, and it was evident that there was the place for
me to discover unobserved what I was so eager to
know. As for the two or three circles in which it
would have been easy for me to meet the cause of my
torments, I never appeared among them from the day
when the duchess's lively wit had been so smartly
employed at my expense. Besides, I thought of my-
self as a conquered athlete, and shuddered at the
thought of offering myself as a spectacle to people
who, perhaps, would be malicious enough to show
pity at my plight and openly condole over it.
I found myself at a desperate pass. And at that
100 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
very time an opportunity, created by my inventive
talent, gave promise of a magnificent success. A
hunting-party was to meet by torchlight in the Forest
of Saint-Germain, and Madame de Lesdiguieres and
many ladies of the court had promised to be present
at it. No sooner had I heard of it than I determined
to be there myself, but rather as a spectator than
a participator. Yet I had a part to fill ; but this
part, as will be seen, was not one of the first import-
ance, and had the inestimable advantage of allowing
me to observe without being observed. To explain
more plainly, I bribed one of the duchess's servants,
who promised me a complete huntsman's costume
for the occasion. In this disguise, which the worthy
servant brought me in all good faith, supposing
himself the accomplice of some harmless joke merely,
I followed upon Madame de Lesdiguieres' traces,
watched all her actions, and studied her slightest
movements, for it was evident that I was not sus-
pected, and that I should be the unchosen confidant
of many fleeting gestures and whispered words.
It was to be a great day for me, and I awaited
it with impatience.
At last it came !
We were in the middle of September, and the
weather gave the most favourable promise. It was
neither hot nor cold, and the earth, moistened by
a storm of rain which had fallen on the preceding
day, was neither too dusty nor too damp, and the
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE IOI
fine thickets of the Forest of Saint-Germain scattered
afar their pleasing murmurs and their sweet frag-
rance. The start was to be made from the Count
de L * * * 's chateau. I will refrain from writing
his name here out of regard for his family, whose
fair renown he afterwards sullied. At seven o'clock
the hounds met and the horns began to sound. I
was punctual at my post. As it was customary for
these kinds of entertainments to hire what in some
houses were called valets de passage, the other servants
were not surprised to see a fresh face among them,
the more so that my huntsman's coat, I own to
my shame, fitted me marvellously, and seemed to
have been made on purpose for me. I had, too,
greatly modified my expression by cutting my mous-
taches short and wearing a red wig, which gave me
a splendidly simple air, as of a Picardy or Norman
peasant. However, as I did not wish to attract
the attention of my comrades in livery more than I
could help, I played the part of the timid youth,
and kept myself apart as much as I could. This
manoeuvre did not prevent me from keeping my
eyes open ; I keenly noticed all that passed in the
court of the chateau, the gates of which were thrown
wide open to give passage to the numerous cavalcade.
My heart beat as if it would burst my breast, and,
being desirous to keep busy-bodies off me, I had
devised the stratagem of secretly spurring my horse ;
this was an ingenious means, for I was continually
102 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
occupied in controlling his plunges, and thus was
able to leave unanswered the silly questions that
were addressed to me by my new friends the lackeys,
who, I may say in passing, are the most gossiping
and inquisitive folk I know.
It was eight o'clock when we moved off. The
whole town was at the windows. There were most
charming ladies in the party, whose costumes might
be accounted marvels of elegance and luxury. . . .
For my part, I saw but one . . . and I know not if it
were the effect of that passion which possessed my
soul, but it seemed to me that she was the fairest and
the most brilliant of all, and that she might have
passed for a goddess who had deigned to descend from
Olympus to mingle with mortals for a moment. She
had a magnificent habit of dove-coloured cloth bordered
at the edge with light gold and silver braidings, scarcely
to be discerned and delicately threaded over the ma-
terial, an underskirt of dark-coloured satin, a stomacher
of brown velvet cut low in a point ; her head-covering
was an enamelled hair-net whence hung a veil negli-
gently thrown upon her shoulders. Her fine hair,
dressed in side-ringlets, fell over her neck in wavy
locks and fluttered upon her bodice, which was cut
low enough to let those beauties be divined wherein
the perfection of divinely sculptured marble seemed
to rival the whiteness of snow. Moreover, her grace,
her dignity, her noble and simple ease were such as to
drive all her rivals to despair. Then her horse, with
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 103
arched neck, proud beneath his rich trappings, seemed
to understand what honour was done him when he was
entrusted with such a marvel. He pawed the ground
softly as if he were in a merry mood, and the fair
horsewoman, caressing him with her hand, took
advantage of his unexpected movements to show yet
more plainly the endless resources of her agility and
Soon we were in the midst of the forest ; midnight
was agreed upon for a general rendezvous, and then
the more eager sportsmen broke out upon the various
alleys along which the beaters had been at work
throughout the day. It was a fine sight, these twelve
or fifteen gentlemen, setting out in different directions,
followed by a pack of hounds whose bayings might
well strike terror into the denizens of the wood, and
plunging their way amid the unsteady lights thrown
by the wavering torches through the most difficult
passages and along the darkest paths. The whole
chase would offer a fine subject for description, but
with my reader's goodwill, I will limit myself to what
I saw. When the feminine portion of the cavalcade
abandoned all pretentions beyond a simple promenade,
I of course stayed among that part of the escort which
was separated from the hunting-party. From that
moment I commenced my observations, and as will be
seen, my imagination had abundant scope for inter-
pretations, inductions, espials, surprises and torments.
As at the Feuillants, MM. de Biran and de
IO4 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Rambouillet took their places at Madame de Lesdi-
guieres' side. The former seemed as melancholy as
the latter seemed merry ; whence I concluded with
a great show of reason, it will be allowed, that the
one had experienced some mortifying refusal, while
perhaps the other . . . !
This idea so startled my nerves that I dug my
spurs into my horse without intending it. . . . He
reared, and then broke into a gallop without my being
able to hold him in. I was obliged, in order to return
to my station, that is to say, to get behind the party
again, to pass completely round the noble company.
I heard Madame de Lesdiguieres say to Madame
de Bouillon, bending towards her :
" Does that groom belong to you, my dear
Countess ? See ... he has not a bad manner."
Madame de Bouillon looked me straight in the
face and answered :
" I do not know him. No doubt he belongs to the
Due d' Orleans. They told me that he had lent us
some of his people for this evening."
It was flattering. It seems I had the bearing
of a lackey from a good house !
The first two hours of the promenade were point-
less enough. Conversation was proceeding at several
points at once, but remained within the bounds of
quiet intimacy. They were talking in low tones,
and now and then a smothered laugh or the sound
of a sentimental discussion served to break the
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 105
monotony of the scene. I, among the servants, who
out of respect almost all kept silence, began to grow
weary of this sameness, which threatened more and
more to become gloomy, when the fanfares and the
shouts of the huntsmen afar in the forest very oppor-
tunely brought to our ears the liveliest and merriest
melody. It was a concert of invisible instruments,
to which the forest echoes responded lovingly, and
the sounds of it, borne on the breeze, made the
branches rustle and the leaves whisper, and the birds
of the night call, as if they had been suddenly
awakened. At the sound our little cavalcade broke
up and dispersed in several detachments, each taking
the path that lay before it.
Madame de Lesdiguieres, more active and bolder
than the rest, penetrated alone into a broad alley
better illumined than others by the first rays of
the moon, calling aloud that she would go to meet
the hunters, even if she had to take part in their
feats and lend them a helping hand upon occasion.
M. de Biran clapped both spurs into his horse
so as to come up with her before M. de Rambouillet.
But the latter deceived his rival by a clever feint,
and by making his horse jump the ditch of the
sidewalk, rendered himself master of the situation.
XVhen Madame de Lesdiguieres saw them both rise
up like phantoms on her left and on her right, she
could not refrain from saying to them :
" Well, gentlemen, have you sworn to retain me
106 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
without pity in the net of your gallant protestations ?
I shall come to think of you as the two doors of
my prison. I beg you not to be harsher to me
than to a butterfly or a bird . . . leave my flight
free ! "
" We cannot allow you to be found alone in the
forest at such an hour," said Biran.
" We are fulfilling a duty," added Rambouillet.
" Ah, yes . . . duty ! . . . That is another fine
tyranny invented by men, who often talk of inde-
pendence, and show the greatest ingenuity in finding
means how they may be slaves."
" The slavery we seek with you," replied Ram-
bouillet, gallantly, " is ten thousand times better
" The whole court is enslaved to you," added
Biran, " as you know."
" Nay," replied Madame de Lesdiguieres, almost
seriously, " my pretensions have no such scope as
that. I do not seek to exercise a tyranny upon
anyone; but I would allow no one to exercise
tyranny upon me."
" Oh, oh ! " said Biran, in an incredulous tone.
" You do not believe it ? "
" We hesitate," said Rambouillet, " to attribute
to you that coldness and apathy of the sentiments
which nothing in nature warrants."
" Whence I am to conclude," replied Madame
de Lesdiguieres, with comical gravity, " that if the
THE UUC DE ROQUELAURE 107
reproach were well founded, I should be in your
eyes ... an exception ... a prodigy . . . nay,
who knows ? . . . a monstrosity perhaps ! "
" Undoubtedly," said M. de Biran in the same
tone ; " but if we are to tell you frankly, we have
every reason to believe that this strong and valorous
soul of yours becomes more human in solitude, when
prying glances are absent."
" What do you mean ? "
" I share his opinion," resumed M. de Rambouillet
eagerly, " and we must add as our justification that
we are not alone in thinking thus. . . . With my own
ears I have heard your heart which affects so proud
an indifference accused at court of being secretly
haunted by a passion that is known to none, whose
happy object no one has been able to name, a passion
that guards it, so to say, from all assault ..."
" Indeed ? . . . And by what symptoms have
these penetrating observers, who must be mighty
fine heart doctors, discerned the existence of the
malady ? "
" By your melancholy, which has been remarked
upon a hundred times during the last months ....
by the weariness that pursues you everywhere
... by the continual desire for change which
makes you move so frequently from one residence
to another ... in a word, by a thousand scarce
perceptible signs that I cannot enumerate . . .
though they are as plain as day."
I08 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Has M. de Biran perceived as much ? "
" Yes, Madame, like everybody . . . neither
more . . . nor less . . ."
" I was far from supposing," said Madame de
Lesdiguieres with feeling, " that I was so closely
watched . . . but do you know, gentlemen, that such
a system would prevent us poor women from being
sad, or laughing, or sighing in your presence. By such
a method our most innocent fancies might be in-
terpreted to our disadvantage . . . and you do not
understand that this tyranny frets us, vexes us,
embarrasses us ! "
" Oh, allow me," said Rambouillet.
" One word," added Biran.
" I will hear nothing more," interrupted Madame
de Lesdiguieres in a tone that was half gay and half
grave, " and to escape finally from your persecutions,
gentlemen, I shall take to flight ; catch me if you
And she plunged into the thick of the forest at the
top of her horse's speed, he being one of the finest
and strongest I have ever seen. The beasts ridden
by MM. de Biran and de Rambouillet were not
nearly equal to the one which already had the start
of them by its sudden and unexpected rush ; so they
shortened their pace at last, wearied and bewildered
by the many turns and twists of the clever horse-
woman, and gave up a pursuit which they saw would
lead to nothing.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE IOQ
" She's as uncertain as she is coquettish," mur-
mured M. de Biran in a tone that expressed his
"A feather-brain ! " remarked M. de Rambouillet.
" Perhaps she will reflect if we leave her. If you
take my advice, cher ami, we shall return to our
" That is my view . . . but it would be well, out
of curiosity, to send someone after her to put her in
the way again. Here, huntsman," he added, address-
ing me, " are your beast's legs sound ? "
" Thoroughly, Monseigneur."
" Well, follow the road ahead of you, try to find
Madame la Duchesse de Lesdiguieres, and bring her
to the rendezvous."
I had no need of such a mouthful of orders ; I
started at top speed in the direction they showed me,
and disappeared from their sight.
It was a long time before I could discover the
trace that I was so ardently seeking ... for a
moment I thought I had lost it completely . . .
On a sudden a terrible neighing resounded in my
ears; I caught a mingled sound of horse's hoofs
striking upon stones and of a low outcry coming half-
stifled from one oppressed by terror. The sounds
redoubled ... I pushed ahead, and saw the duchess
coming towards me bending over her horse, whose
mane she had seized, breathless, bewildered, crying
for help in a heartrending and broken voice ! A vast
110 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
ravine gaped open like a funnel at the end of the
road that her runaway horse had taken ... a few
seconds more, a few paces more, and she would be
killed . . . !
I sprang to earth ... I so ran that I might come
sidewise upon the road at the moment the horse
passed, and at the risk of being broken to pieces and
killed on the spot, I seized the bridle and clung to it
with all my might.
The frightened beast dragged me the space of
forty paces. But yielding at last to the violent
pressure of the bit, on which I threw my whole
weight, he stopped . . . and Madame de Lesdiguieres
was able to sink to the ground.
I arose, stiff and shaken, and tied the horse to a
The duchess had already recovered from her fright ;
nothing but a slight pallor upon the cheeks, which
were usually freshly rosy, bore witness to the terrible
danger she had just escaped.
" The name," she asked, approaching me, " the
name of him who has saved me ? "
" What does the name matter to you, Madame ?
So long as you know it not, you can thank him whom
you deign to say has saved you. If you knew it, he
perhaps would have to ask pardon."
" Who are you ? " she asked anxiously.
" I am ... I am Roquelaure."
She made no movement, and uttered not a syllable.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE III
So both of us remained in face of one another, awaiting
perchance some sign to rescue us from this cruel situa-
tion . . . she was generous ; it was she who took the
first step towards me, stretching out her hand to me.
How many kisses did I not impress upon it ! I
could not weary of pressing to my lips' those fingers
whose very warmth was my handiwork, for but for me
the chill of death would have suddenly frozen them. . .
As she did not resist my caresses, I used and abused
the silent permission accorded me.
" You will think me mad," I cried in the height of
my frenzy, " but at the risk of bringing upon myself
yet harder epithets than those with which you once
overwhelmed me, my voice must utter to you the cry
of my heart : I love you, I love you, I love you ! "
She showed neither displeasure nor anger, but
merely said to me gently :
" Be calm, I pray you, I believe in your love, and
should be happy to respond to it ; but that is im-
possible for me ... it is quite impossible."
And as she uttered the words there was a strange
vibration in her voice. She continued, pressing my
" Will you refuse my friendship ? "
" Refuse it ! I, who would accept death from you ! "
" Can I count upon your friendship ? "
" Remember to-night, Madame la Duchesse, and
require no more."
" Yes, you are right . . . and I can trust your
112 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
friendship now. Well, will you allow me to put it
to the test to-morrow ? "
" At once."
" No, to-morrow . . . come in the evening, about
nine o'clock ... I shall await you at my house ;
perhaps I shall have a great service to ask of you."
I shall never forget our charming walk afoot from
the scene of the occurrence to Count de L * * * 's
chateau, whither the hunting party had not yet re-
turned. She entered alone, and I quietly disappeared.
Two hours afterwards, when I had been on tiptoe to
learn what happened afterwards, I heard that a groom
had been sent into the wood to find the horse we had
left there, for we had seen that his leg was hurt. As
for my beast, I had paid no heed to him at the moment
of peril, and he had returned to his place in the stables.
These circumstances gave occasion to many interpreta-
tions, each one droller than the last. They said that
Madame de Lesdiguieres owed it only to her own skill
that she had escaped from danger, and her reputation
as a horsewoman was enhanced. The fact that one
of the horses had returned without its rider added a
fantastic gloss to the tale, which made it the more
welcome. It was evident that the huntsman who had
ridden the beast, and who would never be seen again,
was a supernatural being who had transformed himself
into a wild animal or been carried away by the devil.
The worthy servant who had lent me my livery alone
knew the truth ; but he was discreet a rare quality
with his kind and the secret was well kept. . . ,
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 113
On the following evening when the clocks of Paris
were striking nine, I called upon the Duchess, and was
She was alone, and never had she appeared to me
more beautiful ; she thanked me for my punctuality,
and began to talk of commonplace matters. Urged by
curiosity, I besought her to leave me in suspense no
longer, but to tell me without more delay what she
asked of my zeal and devotion.
" Then I beg you to grant me your attention," she
said, drawing her chair nearer to mine, so that she
could rest her elbows upon the table between us ; " you
yourself may judge of the importance of the avowal I
am about to make to you, for I must tell you that it
concerns more than my life my honour. I place my
honour under the safeguard of yours, Monsieur de
Roquelaure. Am I not right in choosing you from
all the rest to receive my secret ? And you will not
betray it ? "
What answer could I make ? None. She under-
stood as much, and said in passionate tones that reached
my heart, as if they had been the icy point of a dagger:
" I love a gentleman of the court, Monsieur de
Roquelaure, and I have loved him silently and in
my secret thoughts for more than six months. I
have reason to think this gentleman loves me in
return, but the coldness I have ever affected towards
him might at length be adopted by him against me.
I think he is avoiding me, that I shall become in-
VOL. Ill 8
114 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
different to him, and am on the point of losing him ... I
have exhausted all my strength in the struggle . . .
I can do no more ... I want him to return to me,
to know that I am unhappy, to know that I love
him . . ."
" Why do you not tell him so ? " cried I with an
aversion that I could not hide.
" I should die of shame."
" Write to him, Madame la Duchesse."
" I have thought of that . . . but you do not
know me, Monsieur de Roquelaure. My character
is a strange mingling of childish fears and headlong
rashness. I have taken pen in hand a hundred times,
and as often the pen has fallen from my grasp without
having traced a single word. A letter is overwhelming
evidence against a woman ; treachery, negligence, or
some unforeseen mischance may bring it within the
power of a husband, or a babbler, or an enemy ! . . .
Handwriting, even if it be disguised, is always
recognised ... if only you would, Monsieur de
" What, Madame ? "
" You do not understand me ? "
" Indeed, I dare not."
" It is only this ... a few lines written to my
" To the man who has won your love ? . . . Oh,
Madame ! "
" So the great friendship you offered me just now
shrinks from a sacrifice ? "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 115
" Yes, from such a sacrifice . . . and I do not
even understand. . ."
" How I could ask it of you, I suppose ? "
" You have guessed my thought."
" Then you do not understand that I am asking of
you the noblest and loftiest sacrifice by which I could
prove your friendship . . . you do not understand the
trust of a woman who, weak and without defence,
comes to you and says : ' I have a secret on which
my happiness my happiness and my reputation
depend, a secret that I have avowed to no one in
this world, and I make you the keeper and warder
of it with no other warranty but your honour.' You
do not understand that in acting thus I abandon
myself to you as much as to him whom I love . . .
Ah, Monsieur de Roquelaure, I thought to have found
a different heart in you."
My breast seemed weighted with sobs scarcely to
be repressed. But I restrained them with an effort,
and snatching up a pen that seemed to have been
laid ready for me, I murmured in a scarce audible
" I should be a traitor if, after receiving the
beginning of such a confidence, I did not demand its
completion. The sacrifice shall be thorough. Dictate
to me, Madame la Duchesse, and I will write."
She sat supporting her head upon both her hands,
while I made myself completely ready to act as her
Il6 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Then she uttered these two words in an unsteady
" Mon ami ..."
I could not repress a deep sigh, and at length
brought myself to repeat the words so as to encourage
her to brave the obstacles to this difficult piece of
business " Mon ami ! "
The Duchess resumed with a fuller confidence :
" The time has come to show you the secret of my heart.
For nearly a year I have met your devotion with a severity
which my position imposed upon me as a law. Alas for
us poor women ! ... do not our most praiseworthy re-
solves fade away ? Everything conspires against us ; and
though our courage be well nigh invincible when the
enemy stands before us, yet at the sight of real grief or
genuine despair it abandons us. When we succeed in our
defence, 'tis not so much our virtue that aids us as a con-
viction, true or false, that we are not loved. That, man
ami . . ."
I stopped once more . . . she resumed with a
certain gentle persistency :
" That, mon ami, is the real and sincere explanation of
my long hesitation with you. I felt assured was it my
fault ? that you did not love me. Now I think the re-
verse. Am I in error ? Oh, then may Heaven leave me
at least my illusion, for I feel that I cannot live without it.
Now I have but to give you conclusive proof of the love I
no longer seek to conceal from you. You know that my
husband has been absent a fortnight at Grand-Mesnil,
and that he will not leave the country till the end of the
month. So until then I shall be quite alone ; 'tis as much
as to say yours as you will."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE Iiy
" No, no," cried I, casting the pen away, " I will
write no more."
" Oh," she answered, with an angelic gentleness,
" but you are bound to go on to the end."
Once again I took up my pen, for I was subdued
to her in spite of myself, and she continued :
" To-morrow evening at nine o'clock I shall be at my
house. I think I may be so sure of holding the chief
place in your thoughts that I need not sign my name.
Neither your heart nor your thoughts will find it hard to
recognise me. Farewell ! mon ami . . . till to-morrow."
I was overcome, my brain whirled, and my limbs
were as lead. She took the letter from me, folded it,
wrote the address upon it herself in a very small
hand, and then enclosed it in an envelope, which she
sealed in three places with green wax. While this
was doing, I had no power of my senses, I was burn-
ing as in a fever, and I leaned against the furniture as
a blind man might have done, moving to one piece
after another as if I thus sought my way out.
" This is not all," said she.
" Ah," said I with a stupefied air, " there is some-
thing more ? "
" I must know if you agree to take this letter to
its address ? "
" In person ? "
" Yes . . . but with all possible mystery."
Il8 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
"Very well . . . give me the name, Madame la
Duchesse, the name ! "
" You see that it is hidden beneath the envelope
. . . may I claim a new promise from you ? "
" Am I not your friend ? " I replied with a bitter
" Well, make a vow to me that you will not open
that letter till to-morrow . . . precisely at midday."
" I make the vow ! "
" Remember that I am entirely committed to your
" I shall not forget it."
" Farewell, Monsieur de Roquelaure ! "
" Farewell ! "
I went down the stairs sometimes stumbling
against the balusters, sometimes against the wall. I
was more dead than alive, and I started to walk in
the streets at haphazard, not clearly knowing whither
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE IIQ
A walk by night in the streets of Paris Charamande, porte-
parasol to Cardinal de Richelieu A way of killing time
A night with Ninon Masquerades M. de Segrais,
Mademoiselle's 'poet The page of Henry II. A saraband
M. de Segrais enamoured A singular taste Is it a girl
or is it a boy ? M. de Segrais takes his chance Boldness
rewarded Mademoiselle Desoeuillets A madrigal in a
plate M. de Rambouillet's joke Piquet between M. de
Choiseul and Bautru Luck M. de Larochefoucauld inter-
venes A new kind of bet How Bautru won five hundred
louis from M. de Larochefoucauld I try to forget my
troubles in sleep The stroke of noon A pleasant surprise.
I WAS so perturbed after my interview with
Madame de Lesdiguieres that I could not make
up my mind to go home like a quiet citizen. I
wandered for a long time about the streets, along
the quays, and around the Tuileries, with no clear
object, but merely intending to reflect upon what
had just happened. But I had to stop somewhere ;
and I know not whither chance or opportunity might
have carried me, if I had not met Charamande,
formerly povte-parasol to Cardinal de Richelieu, whom
I had not seen for nearly three years, and he, per-
ceiving me as he passed in his carriage, cried out
to me in his shrill voice at the turning of the Pont-
120 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Roquelaure," said he, " whither are you going ? "
" Where the devil may be pleased to lead me,"
I answered, " and I think he knows but little more
about it than I do myself."
" Are you going to Ninon's ? "
" What are they doing there to-night."
" Do you not know ? "
" No, on my honour."
"Why, then, have you come out of the Bastille,
that you do not know that to-day, the seventh of
September, between eleven and twelve, there is to
be supper, dancing, a masquerade, and a play at the
Marais ? "
" Charamande, my friend, I have not come from
the Bastille, but from a prison a hundred times more
grievous and relentless, whence I think I shall never
emerge into freedom. ..."
A heavy sigh completed this avowal, and Chara-
mande exclaimed :
" The devil ! It seems a serious case, and it must
be treated. You are a fine dancer, Roquelaure, so
come ... I will have you to dance the first saraband
Though I was little disposed to divert myself in
noisy pleasures, yet I made him press me no further,
but took my place in Charamande's coach. We came
to Ninon's close upon midnight. The fete was really
magnificent, and some charming costumes were to be
seen there. The fair Liance, the most exquisite
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 121
adornment of the ballets of that time, was dressed as
an hour, and her attire drew all gazes to her. Some
others, whose names were scarcely known, were
conspicuous either by their beauty or by the richness
and taste of their fancy dress ; but none could com-
pare with the mistress of the house. Ninon de
Lenclos, surrounded by women, was like a goddess
escorted by nymphs, or like the sun amid a constella-
tion. Her face was like a splendid star, whereby all
others were absorbed and brought to insignificance.
Who would imagine it ? I was sad and well-nigh
weary amidst this joyous rout, and the merry sound
of it did not even divert me from my misery. Madame
de Lesdiguieres' last words were dinning in my ears,
and they held my imagination prisoner in an enchanted
circle whence it could not escape. The Bastille, as I
had said a little while before to Charamande, was
nothing to that prison.
A singular adventure happened to M. de Segrais
during the evening. He was seated in a corner of the
salon, and he had fixed a silent attention upon a
charming little page, whose costume, marvellously
well cut to the mode of Henry II. 's time, displayed an
elegant shape and a perfectly well-set form. He had
a fine grey hat with a grey feather turned down over
the ear, a sword with a white sheath, and a ruff of
the most precious point de Venise lace. His graceful
and pleasing manner drew all the women around him.
Some of them had even tried to remove the black
122 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
satin mask which hid his face. But he had resisted
all these provocations, and to the great disappoint-
ment of Chatillon and Rambouillet, who had come to
offer their hands to Ninon for a saraband, the page
won the favour that was refused to them. Then
murmurs could be heard here and there. But what
was to be done against a mere child ? Henry II.'s page
was indebted to his seeming weakness for feeling
secure amid a triumph that aroused so much jealousy.
M. de Segrais did not take his eyes off the group
of dancers. When the violins ceased playing, he made
his way to the page, whispered a few words in his ear,
then in spite of some slight resistance, made no scruple
to take his arm. Two minutes later he took him off
into the next room and began a very animated and
mysterious conversation. The bonny page's dis-
appearance was soon remarked upon, and M. de
Segrais was sought out in the little room whither he
had retired to talk more freely with his new friend.
Thereupon war in due form was declared against
Mademoiselle's poet. He was accused of insidious
conduct, and of seeking his pleasure at the cost of
others. The women asserted that in carrying off the
little page he was stealing an admirer from them ;
the men told M. de Segrais that his conduct was an
offence against the entire sex.
Segrais received the attack like a veteran and a
man of wit. When the uproar had subsided, he
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 123
" The reproaches you address to me from all sides
are well-grounded if this page is really what he ap-
pears to be ; but though I have not been able yet
to get from him any clear assurance about what I am
so interested in knowing, I declare myself his cavalier
at all risks, and at my peril avow for him all the
attachment, all the affection ... to cut it short . . .
all the love of which he is worthy."
" ' Tis going a long way," said Ninon.
" Why so ... if 'tis after all a girl ? "
" But if 'tis a boy?" said Charamande.
" Beware, 'tis a boy," repeated all the men at
" You think so ? "
" Let him be what he will, I take my chance,"
" But it's horrible," cried the women, choking with
" The matter is the more serious," said I in my
turn, "that M. de Segrais' word is his bond, and
that he is not a man to recoil at anything."
" Monsieur de Roquelaure is right ; and though
I were reduced to the role of the shepherd Corydon
sighing in vain, I should take Virgil as my excuse,
and I should perform my part."
Hereupon there was an outburst of laughter and
a cross-fire of jests with a more or less veiled in-
124 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Such a scandal here," said Ninon, affecting a
stern dignity ; " I will not allow it. Pretty page of
Henry II., I command you to take off your mask."
" Willingly," said a little honey-sweet voice, " be-
sides, I am beginning to find it hot, and I am eager
to reward M. de Segrais for having guessed what I
am alone among you all."
The mask fell, and disclosed the freshest face that
can be imagined. An abundance of fine hair, held
captive till then under a light felt hat, spread in silky
wreaths over the shoulders and to the waist of the
enchanting girl. There was a murmur of admiration
around her, and Ninon, surprised at having been
deceived like the others, said, as she ran up to
embrace her :
" My child . . . how I congratulate you. Yours
is a pretty age. Only at sixteen can you be a pretty
woman and yet be like a man . . . two summers
more, and there will be no more mistaking. Gentle-
men," she continued, now addressing the male part of
the company more especially, " I commend my little
friend to you ; you will see her first appearance some
evening at the Hotel de Bourgogne in one of the
pieces of our excellent Corneille or of old Rotrou.
She is Mademoiselle Desoeuillets."
Though she had not yet been seen at the theatre,
Mademoiselle Desoeuillets had one of those early
reputations which grow round little marvels before
their appearance on the world's stage. We thronged
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 125
around her, and pledged ourselves to be present in a
body at her first appearance, which in fact took place
a little while afterwards, and happily fulfilled all ex-
Assured that his prize was a woman, and more, a
most charming one, M. de Segrais carried the joke
through to the end, and thought it amusing, while
everyone else was convinced about the little page's
sex, to take his turn at expressing doubts, though the
matter seemed sufficiently proved, to judge by ex-
periences. He followed Mademoiselle Desoeuillets
all the night, affecting incredulity, and begging her
to find some means of proving the truth to him more
convincingly. However, he did not carry this sport
beyond the bounds of a measured gallantry, and she
was the first to laugh at it. They say, however, that
the intrigue thus lightly begun, on the very next day
suddenly became a serious affair. However that may
be, it is none the less true that M. de Segrais had
been really wrought upon ; this may be judged by the
sudden whipping-up of his steed Pegasus, whose pace
was slow enough as a rule, and who suddenly took
the bit between his teeth that night.
While we were taking our places for supper, and
Mademoiselle Desoeuillets was repairing the disorder
of her hair as best she could, the author of Athis,
armed with a pencil, improvised the following madrigal
on the bottom of his plate.
For so sluggish a versifier as M. de Segrais, this
achievement was a real proof of love :
126 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
You, Phyllis, are a man, I vow ;
Your conquests are unbounded now.
What, would you reign in every part ?
And rule the male and female heart ?
Our sex, brought captive to your knees,
Is but a half of what can please ;
For all must worship. How can I
Love's nets in such confusion ply ?
My passion thus torments me, grieves me,
Yet nothing of the pain relieves me.
Raw am I, clumsy, crude and coy ;
How can I ever love a boy !
The verses were certainly not wonderful ; but, like
all women who assume the part of the Muses, Made-
moiselle Desoeuillets was no less susceptible to the
pride of having inspired them, and no one could help
heartily applauding M. de Rambouillet when, having
received the plate from the poet's hand to present it
to the girl, he said, with a bow :
" This, Mademoiselle, is from M. de Segrais, who
sends you a dish of his own confection."
Before withdrawing I carried a reconnaissance as
far as the card-room. The first party to which chance
led me was composed of men only, and was divided
into two distinct camps, where they were playing
gleek on one side and piquet on the other. Just as I
entered, one of the gentlemen at gleek was pocketing a
windfall of a thousand ducats. As I knew no one
among them, I made my way towards the other
table, hoping to be luckier there. And there in fact
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 127
were several of my friends looking on, while one of
the players was Bautru, who was as deep in the
cards as a priest in his breviary, and his opponent
I soon recognised as the Comte de Choiseul, who
appeared to be playing at random, as it often appears
when luck is on a man's side.
The explanation they gave me confirmed my fore-
cast ; Bautru was losing a round sum, while M. de
Choiseul had won ten hands at piquet in three-
quarters of an hour. As for the latter, I must do
him the justice of saying that he was tired of such
a run of luck, and annoyed at it, and would have
been well enough pleased to lose a time or two.
Scarcely had I turned my eyes upon the green cloth,
when I saw him throw down his cards, while he
" I am playing for ten . . . and here is thirty,
my dear Bautru, and you have not scored a point."
" Well, the upshot is I am out, and the loser,
and beaten again. . . . By your leave, Monsieur le
Comte, I now owe you five hundred louis."
" Do you take your revenge ? "
" Why not ? Double or quits."
" You mean it ? "
" You are wrong in persisting, Bautru," said M.
de Choiseul. " My fingers tell me that I am going
to have more from you."
" Let us see ! . . . I have so much confidence in
128 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
this round that I am almost inclined to add the six
louis I have left to my stake."
" It would be madness . . ."
" I shall risk it."
" Gentlemen," cried M. de Choiseul, addressing
those about him, " you are the witnesses that if
Bautru ruins himself he will have himself to blame.
The thousand louis will go the same way, I promise
" Oh, oh ! that's to be seen," said Bautru, shuffling
the cards with grotesque energy.
" If I were the government," said a voice that I
had not yet heard in the conversation, rising from
the back of a neighbouring group, " I should prohibit
certain persons from play, and certainly M. de Bautru
would be included in the prohibition."
Some of those present cried out upon these words,
which had been uttered by M. de Larochefoucauld.
"Yes, gentlemen," said M. de Larochefoucauld,
drawing near, " and I maintain that my resolve would
have an excellent effect. There are some sorts of
men who ought to keep from cards as they would
from fire ; you have no idea of the disasters, both
little and great, which may ensue from this passion
when it is carried beyond bounds. In a moment of
overwhelming misfortune, the ablest general may
forget his plan of battle, the tenderest lover the lady
of his thoughts, and the merriest man of wit his
pleasant vivacity. There is no need to say, my
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE I2Q
dear Bautru, that the last allusion is addressed to
" I thank Monsieur le Due cordially," replied
Bautru. " Tis true that they give me, I know not
wherefore, a reputation for ready wit, which often
proves the heaviest and most difficult burden to carry
that I know. No matter, let it be deserved or not,
a man must earn his reputation ... so I would
give a great deal to be able to prove forthwith and on
the spot to the Duke, that in spite of the many kicks
with which fortune has favoured me during the last
hour, I still have my mind clear enough and as
free from gloomy fumes as if I had just slept or
dined well. . . ."
" You might be put to a hard proof," said the
" Well," said Bautru, " I accept it without know-
M. de Larochefoucauld reflected for some moments
and resumed :
" Well, I will give you a fair chance, and I will
not take you up without warning ; I am going to join
in the game, but shall take not the least notice of
the cards. What are the stakes ? "
" Five hundred and odd louis."
" Good ... if you win, all is for the best, for
the test will be postponed to another time . . . but
. . . you may lose. . . ."
" Nothing is impossible," said Bautru.
VOL. in 9
I3O SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Well, in that case I suggest a means whereby
you should not pay M. de Choiseul yourself."
" Then who would pay him ? "
" I should."
" Let us see the means."
" 'Tis just simply a bet. Now listen, gentlemen.
There is no living soul that M. de Bautru yields to
for the quickness of his answers. All the same I
will wager that when he sees he has lost his hand,
he will not be cool enough to pass a jest."
" And if he passes one ? " asked the Comte de
" I guarantee his wager to you."
" Do you take the bet ? " asked Chatillon.
" You cannot ask the question seriously, for I can
only be the gainer," said Bautru ; " but who is to
decide if it is a jest ? "
" Everybody," said M. de Larochefoucauld, " and
you shall be the first, Bautru, for you are a good
judge of these matters."
" To risk so great a loss without a chance of
gain ! " murmured the gambler, with signs of anxiety.
" You are very sure you will win ? "
" I do not say that."
" H'm, h'm," said Bautru, who seemed undecided,
" here is a mighty to do ... to find a droll, sharp,
witty saying ... at the very moment of catastrophe
. . . the fact is . . ."
" The fact is," interrupted M. de Larochefoucauld,
" I defy you to do it."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 131
" Well," said Bautru with a sigh, " let us see."
The round was begun and the most profound
silence was preserved by the onlookers. The buzzing
of a fly could have been heard distinctly.
The first hand, which was of decisive importance,
was fatal to Bautru.
The second the same.
At the third there was a slight gleam of hope.
At the fourth M. de Choiseul, who was first, took
up splendid cards. He had already marked ninety-
one. He threw a five to the ace on the table and
" Five ! "
" Five ! " cried Bautru. " I never thought it was
so late. I must go back to my wife. Au revoir,
gentlemen ! "
He made a pretence of leaving us, while we all
roared with laughter, and M. de Larochefoucauld
drew the five hundred louis from his pocket and
handed them to M. de Choiseul.
I came back to my own house, tired enough,
about six o'clock in the morning, and as a result
I dozed, if I did not sleep, till midday, the fatal
time which was to reveal to me the man I was to
hate so bitterly.
Twelve struck. I tore asunder the envelope,
and nearly lost my balance with joy and surprise.
The name . . . was mine ! "
132 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
What happened to me at a performance of Eurydice The
Chevalier de Ponceville His insolence A challenge A
meeting behind the Innocents A farcical duel How M.
de Ponceville made me travel One foot in the cemetery
A jest in lieu of a thrust A last word about the Duchesse
de Lesdiguieres The true and lamentable history of the
Baroness de Preverenge Sketch of her husband Genea-
logist and huntsman What a man may learn while he
is quietly walking among the hills Pierre Gibaut the spy
A trafficker in secrets How De Preverenge paid for
the services of his majordomo The abyss The Chevalier
de Puy- Robert The obliging husband A genial repast
Tragi-comedy Singular imagination of a husband in
extremities A mistress shared A favour valued at two
hundred ducats A lover shown out Between husband
and wife The refinement of vengeance.
A FEW days later I was concerned in a slight
adventure which I may narrate here.
It was at a representation of Eurydice, one of the
many Italian operas which successfully tried their
fortunes in France under the especial patronage of
Cardinal Mazarin. I was not to be with Madame
de Lesdiguieres till nine in the evening (it will
be remembered that this was her time), and not
knowing whither to go, in my impatient mood, I be-
took myself at last to the theatre. I took my seat in
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 133
a box where at first I was alone, but I was quickly
joined there by an old man whom I did not know,
but I soon entered into conversation with him.
The next box was occupied by a certain Chevalier
de Ponceville, a man ill-received, but a great braggart
in words, whom I had seen once or twice at the
receptions of M. d'Orleans. I think he was soliciting
at that time the command of a regiment of light horse,
but had not as yet been able to obtain it. I believe,
too, that he was somewhat lacking both in ancestry
and means. With him were two women who were
very well known for their pretensions to be women of
acquirements, and were called Mesdames d'Ambert
and de Laverdac. It was as much as Ponceville
could do to hold his own in such good company, and
and it was easy to see that he was trying to play the
hero. He had several times affected to find fault
when I was applauding, and to express his displeasure
upon the top of my approval. In vain I told him in
an undertone that he was wrong to put himself
forward so, and that furthermore the music of
Eurydice was as pleasing as any that had yet been
heard in Paris.
I know not what bee he had in his bonnet . . .
but he cried :
" Egad, Monsieur de Roquelaure, where music is
concerned, 'tis well known you are but a poor
I felt an eager longing to throw Ponceville's hat
134 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
out of the box or flick him in the face in sight of
everybody. But I had the good sense to control this
impulse, which would have caused a scandal, and I
said to him, low enough to avoid the attention of the
audience, but loud enough to be heard by Mesdames
d'Ambert and de Laverdac, who were seated in front
" Monsieur de Ponceville is extremely kind to
make that courteous distinction in speaking of me as
man and musician. Tis more than I can do for him."
Ponceville turned very pale, for he was as cowardly
as he was insolent. He began tugging at his ruffles
to have something to do, and tore the lace of one of
them, while he turned upon me a glance that was
meant to be scornful, but fear took the place of im-
pertinence in spite of his efforts ; he muttered :
" Egad, my friend, there is a deal of words ! "
" They are the change for your money."
" So we are quits ? "
" Not at all. The account must be verified, and
that is a transaction which cannot be finished here."
" As you please. It will be light to-morrow," he
replied, much less jauntily. " To-morrow, on the
" Faugh ! " replied I, becoming insolent in turn,
" poor creatures of my stamp do not wait till the
next day. The moon is full to-night. We will see
to it at once . . . behind les Innocents."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 135
The two women were thorough and frank
coquettes, and their pride was secretly flattered by
the turn the dispute was taking, for it was in some
degree brought about by them ; but they thought
it correct to give way to slight signs of fright, in
which, with a little goodwill, we might discern their
feelings of solicitude. They even made a show of
detaining us, and one of them inhaled her salts
violently, as if she had been upon the point of
fainting. As that kind of swoon is not dangerous,
neither of us paid attention to it ; but we asked M.
de Guise, who was in the next box, to be escort
to the two sympathetic ladies, whose minds were
very little troubled about our fate in reality, as I
fancy, and we left the theatre without more words.
The thing was to be done quickly, so we took as
seconds the two first gentlemen we met. Ponce-
ville caught sight of the Chevalier de Miraumont,
who was taking the air in the street, went up to
him without more ado, and told him in a couple of
words what service he sought of him. Miraumont
made no difficulties ; only he asked us to wait a
minute or two, as he was waiting for the Marquis
de Nesle, who had left him for a moment.
" It could not be better," I said to Miraumont.
" You will be for Ponceville, and the Marquis will
not decline to act for me."
M. de Nesle soon made his appearance, and we
all four moved off in the direction of the Innocents.
136 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
I talked with my second the whole way. As for
my opponent, he said never a word, and I plainly
saw that Miraumont, whose reputation as a man of
courage had been long established, and who knew his
man as well, would have been glad to make him
chatter a little. No man likes to feel ashamed of
those he backs, and, in truth, Ponceville had the
air of a calf being led to the slaughter.
There was the finest moonlight when we reached
the end of our walk, and it was no exaggeration to
say that it was as bright as day. It was arranged
the fight should be on the ground abutting on the
cemetery, and, waiving any further preparation, I
drew. Ponceville did the same, and our two seconds,
in accordance with usage, took their places at some
distance from us, with drawn blades, and then we
crossed swords. . . .
If this duel had been like others, I should as-
suredly not have taken the trouble to give the details
here ; but it afforded so droll a sight, that I cannot
resist the wish to give my readers an idea of it. It
is quite true that Ponceville fought in the strict sense
of the word. I must even add that he did not hold
his sword so badly, and made some passes now and
then which lacked neither elegance nor vigour. But
he continually gave ground, so that at the end of
five minutes we had traversed, principals and seconds
alike, a distance of ten toises.
We might have gone a long way at this rate, and
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 137
I for my part saw no reason why an end should come.
However, out of curiosity, and for the novelty of the
thing, I let him take his course, and continued to
Up to this time he had given way in the open,
but by dint of covering space he reached the charnel-
house of the Innocents at last, which was enclosed
here and there by wretched rubble walls and quick-
set hedges. Ponceville, without even seeming to
perceive what he did, retreated upon one of these
latter, and there he was with one foot upon the public
way and the other within the burying-ground.
Hereupon I myself gave ground by a full pace,
and lowered my weapon in spite of myself :
" Deuce on it, Monsieur le Chevalier, is it not
enough to call me a poor creature ? Do you take me
now for a sexton, and do you think I am inclined to
bury you myself ? "
This sally took the place of a lunge ; a man does
not fight when he is laughing, and in spite of the
gravity of their functions, our seconds could not keep
their countenance. Miraumont had no more inclina-
tion to travel round the world under the poor pretext
of seeing us fence than had M. de Nesle ; so he was
first in urging Ponceville to make excuses to me.
That was just what Ponceville wished, but he pre-
tended to hesitate.
" You have gone so far already," added Mirau-
mont, " that one step further will not cost you
138 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" The more so," added De Nesle in an undertone,
" that it will be his first advance."
The matter was certainly turning to a jest ; so we
were reconciled and prepared to return to the town.
For my part, I was not sorry to be rid of my worthy
friends, for I had such a night in view as made me
giddy and dazzled with the mere prospect of it ...
But enough ! For the time the fair Madame de
Lesdiguieres has made another man of me, and in
spite of myself I feel compelled to discretion and
reserve. Besides, I am jealous of that bygone happi-
ness, and just as then I would have defended it against
a thousand rivals together, so now I am resolved to
keep the memory of it for myself alone.
How great a pity that circumstances, whereof the
reader will be apprised later, prevented that happiness
from lasting more than eighteen months !
I shall take advantage of the fact that I have
spoken of M. de Ponceville to insert here a story
about one of his relatives, Madame Diane de Pre-
verenge, who was the victim of a very strange mis-
adventure in Dauphine. When she was very young,
she had been married to a very grave man far too
grave for her who passed the greater part of his
days in hunting, because he disliked talking, and the
greater part of his nights in researches into genealogy,
which, however, never saw the light.
Matters went passably well for the first two or
three years. But the young lady, who had a quick
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 139
perception and a lively wit, and was not allowed
to go to Grenoble as often as she desired, grew weary
at length of the recital of her husband's great prowess
afield, and of the tedious repetitions with which he
vexed her when he thought he had made some dis-
covery such as would interest his neighbours. Re-
member, too, that he often let weeks go by without
speaking a word to her ; and this may give you an
idea of his negligence as a husband. He had made
up his mind to put the entire genealogy of the families
of the Dauphine on a new footing, and it will be
understood that this tremendous piece of work made
him surly and intolerable at times. Love and learn-
ing, it is notorious, have never been good comrades.
The noble gentleman had already completed half his
labours, and was losing his appetite over his work,
when an event, which he would gladly have dispensed
with, threw his ideas into confusion and upset the
peaceful monotony of his life, hitherto continually
occupied in the same round and bounded by the
same outlook. Happily, his heart was like steel, and
his head like brass, so that he could have endured
even doughtier blows than that which he received.
Here is the matter in brief:
One evening, after he had bagged some small
game and was returning to his chateau, situated on
the heights of Domene, in sight of the splendid vale
of Graisivaudan, the Baron de Preverenge saw one
of his house-servants coming towards him ; this was
140 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
a kind of majordomo whom he had always disliked, and
had several times threatened to deliver to the authori-
ties for breaches of trust, and especially on the occa-
sion of a crime that had been committed in that
part some time before. The majordomo had even
been arrested at first, and then released for want
of evidence against him.
Pierre Gibaut (as this man was called) took off
his hat respectfully when he beheld his lord and
master, but at the same time he stopped short in
front of him, as if he purposed to bar the way.
" What are you doing here," asked M. de Pre-
verenge, coming to a standstill, " and who gave you
leave to quit the house in my absence ? "
" Nobody. . . . Monsieur le Baron, nobody."
" And how is it you dare to avow as much to
my face ? "
" I think I may hope, Monsieur le Baron, that
you will excuse me."
" You have something to tell me ? "
" Oh, assuredly, Monsieur le Baron, something
" Well, speak."
" Not here, Monsieur le Baron, we are too near
to the house, and they say that in this country
the trees have tongues just as much as the walls
have ears. So, if it be convenient to you, we will
move a little further off."
Preverenge was not a man to feel fear, but Pierre
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 14!
Gibaut's mysterious manner impressed his mind, and
he turned back almost against his will to re-enter
the mountain gorge whence he had emerged. The
place where they then were was one of the wildest
in the countryside. Two walls of rock, hewn in the
hillside, rose to right and left to a great height, so
that an artificial darkness resulted, as if night had
really fallen ; but this was not so, for the light of
a fine sunset was still illumining the snows of the
summits above them. Each moment the Baron made
signs of halting, but Pierre Gibaut, who seemed to
fear being spied upon or overheard, very keenly
beckoned his master on, and begged him to proceed
a little further.
At last our two personages reached a kind of
natural bridge which had no doubt been cast during
some convulsion of the earth across a torrent, the
waters of which fell from a vast height and foamed
noisily, passing innumerable obstacles in the course
of a thousand windings, and were lost to sight at
length in depths that the eye could scarcely explore.
" Will Monsieur le Baron be pleased to stop here ? "
asked Pierre Gibaut in a tone that clearly showed
he had found the place he was seeking.
" Maitre Pierre is very kind to be contented,"
replied Preverenge, with ironical deference. " I
almost thought we should go up to the glacier."
" Nay, but hear me, Monsieur le Baron ; what
I have done is more for you than for me, since, by
142 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
your leave, it is your dinner and not mine that is
" Pierre Gibaut," answered the Baron with
vexation, " you will be good enough to leave parables
upon one side, for I neither relish nor understand
them. Be brief, if you can."
" Why, yes, Monsieur le Baron, yes. I will
begin, if you please, by putting a little question to
you. Do you ever remember that you are married? "
" You are insolent," said the Baron, raising his
"Nay, never be angry ; it is not my purpose
to give you offence . . . but it might really be said
sometimes that you forget ; do you see ? "
" How so ? "
" Judge for yourself. In the morning, as soon
as you are out of bed, you make a visit of ceremony
to Madame ... a matter of five minutes, no more nor
less. You wish her good-day and she wishes you
good-day all very well. Great folk call that being
married, and 'tis their concern. . . . Then comes
breakfast. Nothing much is said, that's easy to
understand ; we must eat to live. But others in
your place, with a belly full, would think of a little
love-making. But you, Monsieur le Baron, have
the saddle put on your big black horse, unless you
are going after the small game, as you have done
to-day. After that, you take your firearms, your
bag and your hunting-knife, and away you go. . . .
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 143
There you are, out of the house. Observe that 'tis
every day the same, In truth, it could scarce be
different if Madame did not exist."
" Has Maitre Pierre changed from an untrust-
worthy servant to a father confessor ? And has
he invited me to hear a discourse, a lecture, or a
sermon ? "
" It is a history, Monsieur le Baron, and a true
one, as I will vouch. But to return to what I was
saying. There you are, in the middle of the forest,
sometimes surrounded by a double pack of hounds
and a body of huntsmen, and sometimes alone, as
to-day. The day passes and the evening comes on,
and then it is dinner-time. You come back perhaps,
perhaps not, it depends upon the sport you have had.
If you are pleased, you come to table . . . and you
eat with the appetite of four, they say . . . but if
not, you do not appear. You send to say that you
are unwell. . . . Let others believe that ; I am not
gulled by it. ... 'Tis anger and mortification that
have deadened your hunger. All hunters are like
" Upon my honour," said Preverenge, leaning
upon the oak paling which abutted upon the abyss,
" I was altogether wrong to show anger just now.
Do you know, Maitre Pierre, that you are beginning
to amuse me admirably ? Proceed, proceed . . . you
have made a good commencement."
" I shall make a yet better ending," replied Pierre
144 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Gibaut with a sly laugh, which, however, he tried to
conceal from the Baron's notice. "Where was I?
Ah ! I know. ... So Madame is often obliged to
dine alone, as if she were an old maid, or a recluse,
or a widow. By Saint Peter ! who is my patron
saint, let me tell you, Monsieur le Baron, that this
is not a very fine life for a chatelaine, and Madame
la Baronne might soon take exception to it. ..."
" So," said Preverenge in a low tone, while he bit
his lips in a fury that he coldly restrained, "it seems
you concern yourself with my married life."
" Certainly I do," replied Pierre Gibaut with an
air of candour, " and it seems to me that Monsieur le
Baron can scarcely find fault with me for that, because
I have come to tell him a thing about his married
life that he little suspects."
"How? What thing? Will you say what you
mean ? "
" Be not angered, Monsieur le Baron, in Heaven's
name be not angered, for presently you will need an
angel's patience and a martyr's resignation. You
know the Chevalier de Puy-Robert well ? "
" A handsome young man who dwells a league
from here ? "
" Of course."
" And you greet him every time you meet him on
the road? "
"Yes . . . do you not hear ? . . . What follows ?"
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 145
" Well, Monsieur le Baron, Pierre Gibaut has
a word of advice to give you ; when you meet the
handsome Chevalier de Puy-Robert on the road, do
not greet him."
*' And . . . why not . . . Maitre Pierre ? "
" Why ? . . . Because when he sees you he passes
by the gate of the Chateau de Preverenge without
stopping, but when he knows you are away . . ."
" He goes in perhaps ? "
" "Tis as you say."
While Pierre had been speaking the Baron had
incessantly observed him with a deep scrutiny. He
seemed to be guessing the secret of this confused
revelation little by little. But at the last word he
drew himself up to his full height, and seemed about
to give vent to a cry. However, he repressed that
display of feeling ; for it would have been imprudent
from his point of view, and resumed with a fine show
of apparent calm :
" And if he comes in, what does that prove ? "
" Oh, certainly it proves nothing . . . especially
if you suppose he stops at the courtyard . . . Un-
fortunately the entrance-hall is not far off, and he
hurries into it ... the staircase tempts him and he
ascends it. . . . Chance will have it almost always that
Madame la Baronne's door is half-open ... he glides
in, the windows are shut, and then . . ."
" Silence, wretch ! I bid you be silent," cried
Preverenge, now beside himself. " But no, I bid you
VOL. Ill 10
146 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
own to me that you have lied . . . even if the Baronne
de Preverenge had fallen to this depth of shame, she
would have self-respect enough not to make an exhi-
bition of herself to her waiting-women and her
lackeys. . . ."
" You are right, and there is no living soul who is
in the secret of what I have just told you . . . Madame
la Baronne compromising herself under the eyes of the
household ! Never. . . . She never receives his visits
but after midnight, and not a soul in your house, not
even yourself, has ever suspected it."
" I marvel at your perspicacity, Maitre Pierre,
for how comes it that you have seen what nobody has
seen ? "
" Oh, 'tis very different in my case," replied Pierre
Gibaut, trying to decipher from the Baron's face what
effect his words would produce ; " I have been watch-
ing Madame la Baronne for three months . . ."
" Worthy of an honest servant," said Preverenge,
whose features displayed a concentrated passion; "but
are you quite sure that you are not mistaken ? "
"Mistaken! Oh, impossible, Monsieur le Baron . . ."
" But still . . ."
" It was I who used to open the gate to Monsieur
le Chevalier de Puy-Robert."
If at that moment an observer could have studied
the diverse emotions that Preverenge's face betrayed,
he would have been at once astonished and alarmed
at the violence of the inward conflict which they
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 147
revealed. But Pierre Gibaut remained impassive,
and did not even seem to understand the import of
what he said. Doubtless the Baron, who knew the
character of his servant, mistrusted this marvellous
composure, for he once more restrained the impulses
of his fury, and resumed, in an agitated voice :
" It is time, Maitre Pierre, that you explain your-
self more plainly. I do not think you mean to dare
me to my face you know that is a game wherein I
should have the advantage of you so I must suppose
you have some good reason such as will justify you."
" Oh, but one reason, Monsieur le Baron; I wished
to be very sure of my facts, and to prevent anyone
else from sharing such an important secret with me.
... I succeeded, and I alone know of your wife's
amour, my good seigneur . . ."
" And like a devoted servant," said Preverenge,
with admirably sustained self-possession, " you have
come to deliver the secret to me, that I may take
advantage of it, I suppose ? "
" No, indeed ... I have come to sell it to you,
because I reckon you will give me a good price
The Baron's face suddenly underwent a change.
Why ? Man's feeble intelligence would seek in vain
to penetrate these singular mysteries. However, from
this moment Preverenge seemed to have made up his
mind, and to have resolved to listen calmly to the
strange sallies of his servant. With close attention,
148 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
his hearer might even have discerned a smile lurking
about his lips. His answer was in accord with the
fresh attitude which he had just adopted.
" I have always regarded you, in spite of your
peccadilloes, as a valuable servant and a clever man.
You have proved to me, Maitre Pierre, that my eyes
can see. Come, tell me your conditions. The service
that you have just rendered me is great, it is very
great ; there is nothing I would not do to recompense
" My conditions," replied Pierre Gibaut, with a
careless air, " are no more than two ; not excessive,
eh ? You remember, I think, that six months ago
they found a murdered man in the Preverenge valley ?
It was said he was a wealthy traveller, who had been
robbed, and they insulted me by arresting me, Pierre
Gibaut, a good Catholic who might have extreme
unction, I swear it, without confessing to the priest.
You took some part in that, Monsieur le Baron ; for
you were summoned to the assize at Grenoble to give
information about your servant, and you showed him
no too great kindness, and it is not your fault if he
escaped hanging ; for you told the judge who had
charge of the business that I had lately bought a little
freehold in the Vale d'Allevard, and may I perish,
said you, if I know with what money he paid for it.
They let me go, from lack of evidence ; but thanks to
you, I might have lost my life over it. Say what you
will, your evidence has always gone strongly against
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 149
me. Here, Monsieur le Baron, is a retractation of
your evidence in due form, you have only got to sign
" Egad," said the Baron, " here is a pretty trifle.
You should understand, my dear Pierre, that I think
no more of such a retractation than of a feather. I
will give you a hundred of them, if you like. I said
then what I thought to be the truth, but the law de-
cided that you were as white as snow. I certainly
will not refuse you this declaration you ask of me ;
but 'tis in reality too slight a matter. Let rne hear
the second condition."
" Oh, that is simpler still. My little property at
Allevard is all in pieces, and Maillard the mason, who
has seen it, says it will take ten thousand livres to put
it in repair."
" Your mason is a thief . . . but no matter. Ten
thousand livres ! why, what is that compared with
what you have done for me ? You shall have the ten
thousand livres, Pierre. But have you thought of
the shortest possible way of getting your money ? "
" I should be a great fool if I had forgotten that ;
but you may be easy, Monsieur le Baron, I have a
level head. Here is a little deed duly drawn up
which I hope to present to-morrow to your steward
at Saint-Martin ; he always has ready money. See,
you have only to sign here."
Pr6verenge signed the paper slowly and resumed,
while he affected to scan the two documents :
SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Is this all you wish, Pierre ? "
"Why, Monsieur le Baron. '. . ."
" Oh, do not be afraid, I shall not think this
enough, and I shall value your discretion as I ought.
But to come back to the chief business ; I want you,
while we are returning to the chateau, to give me
some further details."
" Willingly," said Maitre Pierre, pocketing the
two documents, which in his eyes represented untold
It was a bad road. Preverenge, absorbed in
meditations which the majordomo thought he under-
stood, walked with so uncertain and irregular a gait
that the servant found himself, as if by chance, in
front of his master. The Baron addressed a ques-
tion to him now and then, and Pierre Gibaut replied
to him with perfect composure. In this way they
came to a very narrow path at so steep a slope as
made it necessary for both to take unusual precaution.
The Baron, who was in the questioning mood, re-
sumed as if he had been following up a settled idea :
" So you say, Pierre, that no one at the chateau
has noticed the Chevalier's attentions ?"
" Not a soul, Monsieur le Baron."
" And have not you in a moment of forgetfulness,
or when your tongue was itching and I should be
the first to overlook the fault have you not told
some neighbour first your suspicions and then your
certainty ? "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 151
" A fool might have done that in my place . . .
but I come from a country where they don't ex-
change pearls for fish-shells. Such a secret, Mon-
sieur le Baron, is a kind of fortune ; it is not to
" So," said the Baron, his voice shaking in spite
of his efforts to speak calmly," " you are the only
man in the world who knows of the Baroness de
Preverenge's shame and of her husband's dishonour ? "
" The only man," said Pierre with composure.
" And I can rely upon your discretion, eh, my
worthy Pierre ? "
" Oh, you are a suspicious man," said the major-
domo ; "I almost guessed that that would be the
last of your questions."
" And you guessed right," cried Preverenge in
a stentorian voice ; " it is the last ! "
As he uttered the words, the Baron seized Pierre
by the nape of the neck, and bending him back in the
vigorous grasp of his ringers, which held him like
a collar of iron, he swung him round twice or thrice
in such wise as to stop his breath, and then hurled
him far into the abyss, so that after striking against
the edges of the rocks he was engulfed in the seething
waters of the torrent. The fall of the body was
inaudible ; for the perpetual noise of the watercourse
deadened the brief sound, just as a clap of thunder
covers the roaring of a storm.
Preverenge's feelings after the deed were not such
152 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
as might be supposed. His need of a cruel, instant,
and terrible revenge, combined with the necessity
of ridding himself of the sole witness of his dishonour,
made him disregard the almost futile crime he had
just committed. Besides, he was so habituated to
the chase, and that is as much as to say so accus-
tomed to slaying, that he had lost much of his
sensibility about death. He excelled in the noble
woodland sport. The bear and the chamois were
his constant adversaries, and the skill with which
he levelled at the one could only be compared to the
quiet energy he showed in cutting up the other. He
had been known to tackle the wild boar at close
quarters, and the hunger-maddened wolf. A wild
beast's loud cries of menace left him as unmoved
as did the pitiful outcry of the deer at bay. So
he merely looked on the killing of Pierre Gibaut
as a kind of feat . . . and considered that for the
first time in his life he had tried his hand at man-
So he went on his way again, hastening his pace.
Pierre Gibaut was far from his thoughts, which were
busied about the Baroness de Preverenge and the
Chevalier de Puy- Robert.
" If I could find them together," he whispered
to himself, " it would save me the trouble of thinking.
I should kill them."
Preverenge gratified his fancy for a long time
with this notion. He pictured to himself his wife
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 153
begging for mercy, while he coldly bade her address
herself to Heaven. And he imagined the Chevalier
trying to sell his life dearly, but dying at last in
fearful agony. The picture lived and moved before
the Baron's gleaming eyes. He smiled at it.
However, he did not return immediately. He
walked around the Chateau de Preverenge for awhile,
hoping that he might see M. de Puy-Robert enter
there, or learn, from some casual indication, that
he was already with the Baroness. But nothing
happened to relieve his impatience, and he had the
trouble of his espial for his pains. Then he made his
way to his wife's apartments, and in such a frame
of mind as would fit him to be at once accuser,
judge, and executioner. Strangest of circumstances!
The doors were nearly all open, and those that were
closed, here and there, had the keys standing in the
locks. These visible tokens of confidence or of crass
imprudence upset all the Baron's expectations. He
entered the tabernacle of the domestic gods, or, in
simpler words, the bedroom, stealthily, and he was
yet more astonished. The Baroness, stretched upon
a bed as white as snow, lay in an easy attitude, and
slept the innocent, pure, and quiet sleep which is
the prerogative, they say, of the righteous man, the
virgin, and the aged. Thus beheld, she was very
charming. He gazed at her for a moment in silence,
and then withdrew.
As he crossed the courtyard to reach the wing
154 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
in which he dwelt, he met several of his servants,
who, having failed to see him enter, were full of
excuses that they had not attended upon him.
"That matters not," said Preverenge carelessly,
" and I am not displeased with you about it. But
tell Pierre Gibaut to come and speak with me."
" Pierre Gibaut went out after dinner," answered
one of the lackeys, " and we have not seen him since."
" Ah ! I know how it is," replied the Baron, with
the gesture of one who remembers something. " I
learned for certain to-day that the poor fellow had
nothing to do with the miserable affair last year in
the Valley de Preverenge, and I signed a declaration
for him in good form retracting the evidence I gave
against him at the time. And further, I gave him,
by way of indemnity, a good ten thousand livres,
which one of my stewards was to pay him. No
doubt he was impatient, and would not wait till
to-morrow, so as to go before the law authorities
at Grenoble first and draw his money afterwards.
Our good Pierre Gibaut was always in a hurry. ... I
hope no misfortune will befall him by the way. . . .
I should be really sorry."
When he had delivered this funeral speech, Pre-
verenge shut himself in his own apartments, and
began to meditate what he should do. The night
brought counsel. He was sorry that he had acted too
sharply with Pierre, and was glad that he had not
been obliged to execute upon his wife the vengeance
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 155
which for awhile he had so eagerly promised himself.
He had never imagined that he could have been
dragged down to the ridiculous position of a befooled
husband, and a very natural effect of his surprise
was the movement of anger to which the majordomo
had fallen victim. But if the information proved true,
he rightly felt that in these sorts of cases there is
something as bad as the very misfortune itself, namely,
the grievous publicity which is given to it. This was
plainly the best course his thoughts could take, and
it is due to him to say that he persisted in it. It
will be seen how these prudent and cool resolves
worked out in a few days.
A week elapsed, and Preverenge acquired com-
plete proof that Pierre Gibaut had not lied to him.
Every other day, after midnight, a slight shadow
might have been seen climbing the wall (the major-
domo was no longer there to open the gate), and
stealthily seeking the staircase that led to the
Baroness's apartments. Thrice was the manoeuvre
renewed under Preverenge's eyes, and twice Pre-
verenge contented himself with dropping the curtain
before the window of his room and walking up and
down in the courtyard, as if he had sought to spare
his wife's lover all anxiety. It will be seen that his
conduct showed delicacy, and that his fierce intentions
were greatly altered.
But a great project was being thought out in his
mind, and the fourth visit of Puy- Robert was fixed
as the occasion for putting it in execution.
I5& SECRET MEMOIRS OF
It was midnight, and the Chevalier, supposing
the Baron deep in the dusty atmosphere of his
heraldic researches, had made his way lightly and
boldly to Madame de Preverenge's side, and hoped
now as always for his hour of bliss. Both were full
of confidence in that star which protects lovers, and
already they were rejoicing in the good fortune which
till now had preserved their union from all ruffling
breezes, when an unusual sound, first heard in the
court and then within the building, disturbed their
happy security, and raised the first cloud on the
horizon of their loves. They looked at each other
and turned pale, and in their mutual glance flashed a
terrible presentiment laden with despair and terror. . . .
The Baroness, prompted by one of those instinctive
warnings that great catastrophes give birth to, sought
to fly to the adjoining room ; Puy-Robert's hand
sought his left side, forgetting that he had hung his
sword in the window of the room by which he en-
tered. But Preverenge left no time to his wife to
flee nor to her lover to prepare his defence. He
appeared on the threshold and advanced no further.
Madame de Preverenge stifled a scream and hid
her face in her hands ; the Chevalier, whiter than a
winding-sheet, staggered to the mantelpiece trembling,
and leaned against it for support.
" Well, what is the matter ? " asked the Baron,
whose features evinced a scarce credible composure.
" Does my presence annoy you, Madame ? Am I un-
welcome, Chevalier ? "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 157
These questions were left unanswered. The lover
neither recoiled nor advanced, and no sound issued
from his lips ; a pitiful groan escaped the Baroness.
M. de Preverenge resumed in the same tones :
" Why, in sober truth, I do not understand
you. . . . Either you are afraid of me, or I am very
unwelcome to you, for neither dares look me in the
face, and your reception of me resembles a dismissal
in due form so strongly that I might well be mistaken
over it. Come, am I one too many ? Must I go ?
or shall I stay ? "
" Sir," stammered the Baroness, " this hateful
" Jesting ! Why, who jests here ? Not I, cer-
tainly. ... I learned that Monsieur le Chevalier
de Puy-Robert had come to keep you company, and
I thought I had some right to make a third in the
advantages of that rare favour ; but I have no in-
tention to sadden you ... on the contrary, I have
had an excellent supper prepared, and if you will
allow me, we will all three share heartily in it. . . ."
" You make me shudder, sir," murmured the
Baroness in a scarce audible voice.
" There is no occasion," said Pr6verenge lightly,
" and the supper will set all right."
At a signal agreed upon, a splendidly-prepared
table was brought in ... places were laid for three.
" Here is your place," said Preverenge to the
Chevalier de Puy-Robert. " Here is yours, my dear
Diane. Allow me to take my seat between you."
158 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The Chevalier, who up to the present had re-
mained sunk in a kind of feverish stupor, shook off
the torpor to which he had yielded, and cried in a
voice that rang with repressed indignation :
" Enough, Monsieur le Baron, enough. . . . This
comedy has gone too far. It may be that you have
the right to kill your wife (that is a matter between
God and you), but cease to torment her, for I will
not see her thus tortured in my presence. Just now,
impelled by a proper sentiment of penitence and
shame, I regretted the wrong I have done you,
and I was about to beg your pardon for it. . . . You
relieve me of the humiliation, and make us once more
equal by insulting me yourself. I thank you. I will
render account of my misdeed at the same time that
you render account of yours ! "
The Baroness, standing with dishevelled hair, was
gazing first at the sternly cold face of Preverenge,
and then at the angry countenance of the Chevalier.
" What are you saying about insult and shame
and repentance ? " resumed the Baron with an ad-
mirably assumed air of surprise. " By your leave,
Chevalier, I see no one here who is criminal or
dishonoured. What harm is there in all this ? You
have come from time to time to pay your court to the
chatelaine de Preverenge, and the busy tongues will
have it that you are not always ill-received. Well,
egad ! Preverenge may be a bear, but he has done
the like often enough in his youth, and knows well
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 159
what it is to make a raid on the lands of others.
There is no keen sportsman who is not, now and
then and on occasion, a poacher. . . . What you
have done, Chevalier, is fair fighting, and you have
" Monsieur le Baron," resumed Puy- Robert, whose
anger grew ever the higher, " you are in your own
house, and on this ground you abuse the right
you have against a man who has so grievously
wronged you ; but, once again, let us close the quarrel
on the right field. If you seek blood, I am at your
orders. Only, as you have lost your self-respect,
let me recall you to the sense of it, and if not on
my account, who can do no more here than offer
a reason, then on account of this house, which is that
of your ancestors, and on account of this lady, who,
guilty as she may be, nevertheless bears your name,
" Ah ! " cried Preverenge, with a perfectly agree-
able laugh, " I begin to understand your words a
toise long and your infinite scruples, my dear neigh-
bour. Heaven be praised, 'tis clear now. But be
reassured. The mischief is not so irreparable as
you think, and all can be set right."
" What do you mean ? " said the Chevalier de
" Poor Diane," resumed the Baron, without
answering Puy-Robert directly ; " 'tis a weakness
I could never cure her of. Oh ! we may do as we
l6o SECRET MEMOIRS OF
please, but she will never change her tune . . . she
will have it she is my wife, and gives out to all who
will listen to it that we are married."
" And you are not ! " cried Puy-Robert, gazing
wildly at the Baroness, who made no more sign
of moving than if she had been dead.
" No, indeed, thank God, Chevalier ! My dear
Diane has her liberty as I have mine, and our loves
are birds of passage that can fly to right and left
at the first threat of rain or the first ray of sun-
The Baroness opened her mouth as if to answer,
but a sudden choking seemed to prevent her.
" I know, my fair Diane," resumed the Baron,
" I know all you would say to me. I promised to
be discreet, eh ? And, zounds ! I have not forgotten ;
but we must keep a fair account, if we can. Did not
you promise me something else ? and have you kept
your word ? If you had been faithful, I should have
And to cut all further explanations short, Pre-
verenge took his place at table, poured wine for
the Chevalier, took a big draught of the same wine
himself, no doubt to dispel a fear which would appear
very natural in such a case, and made an appearance
of supping heartily. The Chevalier, as may be
imagined, merely touched his glass with the tips of
his lips, and the Baroness looked on the scene with
the dull and troubled eyes which the prisoner turns
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE l6l
upon the preparations for his execution. When
Preverenge thought that the scene had lasted long
enough, he rose and said :
" Chevalier, since the lady prefers you to me,
I make no difficulty about her going with you. But
I own to you that I am still captivated by her beauty,
and I should regard a last night passed by her side as
a favour of inestimable price. Be generous enough to
yield me your place . . . you owe me the courtesy.
As for you, Madame, you are not in a position to
accord me the favour by good will, so I will buy
it of you. This purse contains a hundred ducats
in gold. ... Is it enough ... for one night ? "
The Baroness de Preverenge cowered down and
nearly fell to the floor. The gold was scattered on
the bed-clothes. The Chevalier took a step forward
to come to her aid, but the Baron, barring the way,
grasped his arm tightly and led him to the door,
" You have heard me, Monsieur le Chevalier, and
I hope I have made the position exactly clear to
you. If you have managed to convince our dear
Diane of the reality of your affections, nothing will
prevent her coming to you to-morrow at your house.
I will offer to open the door for her, and it will rest
solely with her if she quits the rustical Baron for
the gay and elegant Chevalier. If you do not see
her again, the reason will be that she despises you as
heartily as, from this day forth, I shall despise her."
VOL. Ill II
162 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The Chevalier de Puy-Robert had no time to
answer these last words, which were the only ex-
pressions of bitterness that had fallen from the
Baron's lips, for at the same instant Preverenge
threw wide the double door which led to the ante-
chamber, and a double row of lackeys formed in order
first to make way for, and then to escort with high
honours, the guest of the Baron de Preverenge.
" Farewell, my dear neighbour," resumed the
latter, loud enough to be heard by all his retinue.
" Farewell ! "
This being done, the Baron de Preverenge re-
gained his wife's room slowly, double-locked the
doors, and then threw wide one of the windows as if
to breathe the air. There were heavy drops of sweat
upon his forehead, and he wiped his face two or three
times with his handkerchief; then he took his place
in front of the hapless Diane, and looked her in the
face without uttering a word.
Trembling and abashed under this gaze, which
scrutinised the deepest recesses of her soul, the
Baroness found strength to murmur, as she dragged
herself to the feet of the man who seemed desirous to
kill her :
" Monsieur, just now you threw mud at me . . .
is it not enough ? What do you seek now ? Is it
my life ? Take it ... slay me . . . but do not
prolong my agony further ! "
Preverenge drew some papers from his pocket and
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 163
perused their various headings. Then, after exam-
ining them all with unmoved tranquillity, he replied
to the Baroness : .
" What a hurry you are in to die, Madame ! But
we must talk business first ... all in due order, if
you please ! "
164 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Continuation and close of the history of the Baroness de Pre-
verenge Disquieting duration of my amour with Madame
de Lesdiguieres The poet N***'s little adventure with
Ninon de Lenclos The persistent rhymester Contest of
gallantry How Ninon received a quatrain by N * * *
Whereby it is shown that a poet is not easily discouraged
A fresh quatrain Boldness rewarded My visit to the con-
vent of the Ursulines at Lectoure An unexpected meeting
An old quarrel A reconciliation Mademoiselle Valerie de
Rocheplate Intrigues to fathom Certain honest means of
keeping a young lady out of her heritage.
THE Baroness's breath came thick and short.
Preverenge's eyes flashed, and the menace of death
seem mingled with grim raillery in his glance.
She resumed, trying to receive with a show of
courage the death-blow which it seemed she could no
longer escape :
" Whatever you do, sir, and whatever you may
have to say to me, I know my fate. You mean to
kill me ! "
" I ? Kill you ? " replied Preverenge in a mocking
tone. " You cannot really think it, Madame ; I have
done all in my power to escape from ridicule, and
that would destroy the results of my efforts in a
single minute. Kill you ! Upon my soul, that would
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 165
be a rare way of adjusting my business. No, no, if
you please, Madame, I shall not kill you, for if I did
so, it might still be supposed I was amorous of you,
and that is a belief I will let no one entertain ; if I
killed you, people would think of you as a victim,
and I mean that no one shall pity you ; if I killed you
the Chevalier would think that you are my wife . . . ! "
" Well, you are so no longer."
While he spoke thus, Preverenge drew from his
breast a parchment roll, which he unfolded before the
Baroness's eyes. She perused it rapidly, and then
fell back upon the bed trembling, livid, and with
" It is the first time in my life that I have had
business with the Pope," continued Preverenge in
the same tone, " and I must do His Holiness the
justice of avowing that he has shown every goodwill
to serve me. The Abbe Driencourt, my confessor
. . . and yours also, I believe, took charge of the
negotiations. A fortnight sufficed him to go to Rome,
smooth away the difficulties of every kind that stood
in the way of my wishes, and bring back this precious
deed of nullity. The Abbe Driencourt is a very
clever man. . . ."
" He has ruined me," murmured Madame de
" He has saved your life, for but for him both
you and your lover would be dead by now."
l66 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The Baroness bowed her head and was silent.
Then commenced a strange dumb-show. While the
unhappy woman seemed sunk in her despair, the
Baron brought her a travelling-dress with a head-
dress and mantle to suit it. Unconsciously, so to
speak, she donned them in silence, and awaited the
orders of the man who was her master and yet no
more than a stranger to her now, inexorably en-
trenched in his sovereign and absolute authority as
a high and mighty seigneur. When she was ready to
go, he offered her his arm and led her to the court-
yard. There a carriage was awaiting her, surrounded
by grooms with lighted torches in their hands, while
the horses were pawing the ground in their impa-
" I am not going to play the traitor with you,"
resumed Preverenge in a low tone. " I shall persuade
this whole countryside of the truth of what I told
the Chevalier de Puy-Robert. To-morrow everyone
will learn that you were only my mistress. I Jhave
taken sure and unfailing means to that end. You
may declare the contrary, if you like ; I am not
concerned about it ; you will not be believed. And
now I give you your choice between two places of
retirement : my castle of Valneige, in Queyras,
whence you can go to join your lover, and the convent
of Notre Dame d'Embrun, where you will be at
leisure to meditate upon your errors and dedicate
your thoughts to God. From here the road to either
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 167
destination is almost the same . . . some fifteen hours
at a good pace. . . . We shall be there about midday.
Come, varlets," cried he to the outriders, " open the
doors and aid Madame into the coach."
He was obeyed, and the Baroness seemed to act
mechanically without even appearing aware of what
he was making her do.
Preverenge took his seat beside her, and, after
preserving silence for a moment, asked her in the
tone of a man who thinks he has allowed time
enough for reflection :
" Whither do we go ? "
" To the convent."
On the following day Preverenge returned to the
chateau, and resumed the accustomed courses of his
life. Three days later he confided his version of
the secret of his quarrel with Madame Diane to his
butler, whom he knew for the most garrulous and
indiscreet of all his servants. In twenty-four hours
the news spread throughout the countryside, and was
the theme for every kind of comment. Preverenge
resumed his hunting and his researches as if he were
the calmest and easiest-minded man in the two hemi-
spheres. As his conduct appeared very honourable,
when all was said and done, and as he was very rich,
while compassion should be shown to every sin, the
chief gentlemen of the neighbourhood gradually made
advances to him, and threw the doors of their houses
wide open to him when he thought well to visit them.
l68 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Preverenge soon saw the meaning of these welcomes.
Most of these gentlemen had daughters, and most of
the daughters were remarkable either for great beauty
or handsome dowries. They say that men are not
cured by experience. The maxim was justified
in the Baron de Preverenge's case, for two
months after the events which we have just related,
he became enamoured of the daughter of Comte
E * **de la Tour-du-Pin, asked her hand in marriage,
obtained his request, and married her with great pomp
before the eyes of the world, in the choir of the church
of Saint-Andrew at Grenoble. History does not record
whether he related to his second wife the epic wherein
his first wife had figured as the heroine, or if he ever
felt inclined in fireside chat to recount the tale of his
meeting with Pierre Gibaut. . . .
We may well doubt it.
But let us quit these sombre themes, and return to
Paris, where we shall find the young king's court, the
graces of the fairest duchesses, and the wit of the most
distinguished and most elegant courtiers.
To speak of myself, since this is the point to which
I have ever to return, I said in one of the last chapters
that I was harnessed to the chariot of Madame de
Lesdiguieres. Six months, and then a year passed,
and there was I still harnessed to the same shafts,
happy in so sweet a burden, and with no thought of
changing my load or of resting.
You may exclaim at so great a wonder Roquelaure
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 169
caught in the snare ! He who has so long joked at
sentiment and laughed at love is now a captive in the
pretty spider's-web woven of silk and gold ! There
is he trembling at the feet of the fair, sighing forth
madrigals, dreaming in the moonlight, and in a word
a lover . . . hopelessly entangled !
I frankly own that the thing began to make even
But be reassured, dear reader, I shall not be so
inimical to your pleasure as to set before you the
details of my interminable amour ; for these details,
though they are very entertaining to him who plays
his part and sings his music in that marvellous duet
of passion, yet they would prove very insipid matter
for one who is unconcerned, if it were sought to
recount them to him at full length. There are plenty
of other subjects to claim our attention ; and in lieu
of telling you about myself, I will attempt to distract
you for the moment by the exact and faithful story,
not of what I did during the continuance of my
pastoral bliss, but of what I saw, and we shall not
fall short of material, that I vouch ; for though my
heart was closed to all alien impressions, and the fair
Madame de Lesdiguieres alone occupied my thoughts,
my eyes were indefatigable, and I kept them widely
open, so that I observed curiously all the secret motives
displayed in the comedy of human life which was daily
enacted before me.
And first, dear reader, to enliven your spirits,
170 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
which the sad adventure of the Baroness de Preverenge
has doubtless dashed, I will tell you a little story
which cannot fail to cheer you, as the heroine is a
woman of whom I have already made mention, one
who embellished whatsoever she touched and added
a fragrance wheresoever she passed I mean the
charming Ninon de Lenclos.
Here is the incident :
Ninon, whom everybody loved so much, and who
returned the love so richly to a certain number,
Ninon, whose soul was so gentle that she was ever
more disposed to satisfy all her lovers than to reduce
them to despair, sometimes passed the bounds of her
becoming moderation if she was importuned beyond
all measure. This is proved by what happened one
day to the poet N * * *.
N * * * was a persistent rhymester, who made
verse about everything and on every possible occa-
sion. If you were walking with him and were so
unlucky as to make mention of the moon, he made
you a quatrain on the moon. If you wished him all
prosperity, he acknowledged your good wishes in
alexandrines. In him this habit was a disease, a
fever, a mania. . . . Madame Cornuel said of him
one day that, when they buried him, he would pro-
bably show he was not thoroughly dead by rising up
again to write his epitaph.
Ninon was amused at first by his gallant messages,
but she grew weary of them at last, and ended by
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 17!
thoroughly disliking the poet on account of his
rhymes. From that time forward the poor poet, as
if it were not enough to be repulsed, became the butt
of Ninon's jokes. In a word, he was the target for
every witticism launched by the merry devotees of
the goddess of the Marais.
And Heaven knows she had abundance of de-
But N * ' did not abandon his quest. Impavidum
fericbant ruinte. He was deluged with epigrams,
pleasantries, and derisive laughter, his ears were
never free from the disagreeable echo of them, but
he persisted in pretending not to notice them.
Every morning when she rose, and every evening
when she retired, Ninon received her little daily
She recognised it by its perfume of violets or
vanilla, and it sickened her.
But amidst all her reluctance and anger she was a
woman still, that is to say, she was inquisitive.
She never failed to undo the envelope and read
Lucky was N * * *, for this was always so much
in his favour.
This procedure had lasted for some time, and
N * * *, warned by the bad reception he met with, no
longer frequented her assemblies. ... It was the
time when Villarceaux reigned over the heart of our
charming Aspasia, and she had not seen N*** for
172 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
more than three months, when one evening, as night
was falling, as she returned from some place or
another with one of her serving- women, she saw at
her door the hapless rejected suitor, who no doubt
aspired to no more than seeing her himself unseen,
and would then have gone away as he had come.
Ninon, usually so kind and considerate, might well
have had some pity on the luckless mortal, and have
allowed him so trifling a happiness. It is at once so
easy and so pleasant to a pretty woman to let herself
be admired. But Ninon, owing to one of those
caprices which are only to be explained by the
singularity of the feminine character, was naturally
inclined to a harshness towards this suitor, which
was little in accordance with her usual manner.
" What are you doing there ? " she asked him
" I await the rising of the sun," replied N * * *,
with a gallantry worthy of Astraea.
" Monsieur N * * *," replied Ninon, whose state
of nerves at the time was little favourable to insipid
advances of this kind, " I have to warn you of one
thing : if you still persist in sending me your poetry,
in spite of my forbidding it . . ."
I will not give the conclusion of the sentence
of Ninon de Lenclos in precise terms. The reader,
if he wishes to form an idea of it, need only recall
the piece which our excellent Moliere brought out,
in 1655, at the Petit-Bourbon Theatre, wherein we
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 173
see how Marinette, highly incensed with Gros-Ren6,
cries, alluding to his love-letters :
" Thy letters are not with me, but my ire
Shall soon consign each fragment to the fire."
Whereunto Gros-Rene very sensibly replies :
" And thine . . . thou know'st how I shall use them."
This, under another form, was all Ninon's reply.
N * * ; ' withdrew in a very humbled mood, and
the fair adored one thought she had rid herself of
her stubborn admirer for a long time.
But she had left love out of the reckoning.
That very evening, after supper, where she had
been very merry, just as Ninon de Lenclos, dreaming
of a thousand gracious things, and with her fancy full
of images of delight, was getting into bed, her chamber-
maid knocked at the door, and then came in.
" What is it ? " asked Ninon.
" A letter, Madame."
" From whom ? "
She recognised the writing.
" Again ! " she cried, frowning. " Well, with-
draw leave me."
This time Ninon was furious. After being so
ill-treated, this devil of a fellow returned to the
charge ! She felt inclined to burn the letter without
reading it, or else to return it to him insultingly, to
show what heed she took of his pretensions. But
174 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
the daughter of Eve had the best of it in her, and
the letter was opened. Here is what it contained :
" Hie ! children of my genius, hie 1
Endure the fate which I deplore ;
But as you pass so very nigh,
Announce my presence just next door."
:fc n' rfc ^c 5&
A week later, to the great astonishment of every-
body, the poet N * * *, joyous and envied, was present
at a very sumptuous mediatwche, given by Ninon to
celebrate her birthday, in her charming sanctuary
in the Rue des Tournelles, at the Marais.
But it must not be concluded from this that
Ninon ever accorded to the enamoured N * * * what
he so ardently desired. It is possible, but I cannot
affirm it. All I can say is that from that time forth
she admitted him to one of those frank and lasting
friendships which were so eagerly disputed, and
which she knew how to grant with so much tact
About this time I was sent to the convent of the
Ursulines at Lectoure, to treat with the lady superior
of some settlement or other which had been pending
several years between that community and M. le
Prince de Conti. It was some question of estate and
indemnity, and the prince had selected me to conclude
it, because I had been indirectly concerned in the
matter at the time of my mother's death.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 175
A visit to a convent was a rare occasion in my
life. I approached the building of the Ursulines not
without a secret feeling, the nature of which I can
scarcely define. Was it fear ? Was it respect ? Or
was it merely a profane curiosity ?
There was an endless ceremonial before I was
conducted to the private room of the Mother Abbess.
I simply acquiesced, and kept my mouth shut.
At last I was announced.
The superior was seated in a very large ebony
chair surmounted by a crucifix. She was very busy
reading (some such book as a breviary, no doubt),
and seemed absorbed in her meditations. But when
my name was uttered, she started in her chair, and
eagerly sought to cover her face with her veil.
Unhappily for her, the movement did not effect
all that she intended, and in the superior of the
Ursuline convent I discovered an old acquaintance,
one who will not have been altogether forgotten, and
whom I did not meet again without some perturba-
tion Madame de Mental !
" Take no alarm at my presence," said I, in the
most respectful tones. " I have not come to interrupt
you in your godly converse with Heaven. I am the
representative of a great lord who has been so good
as to intrust his interests to me, and not a single
word from my lips shall recall that past wherein we
should both encounter distressing memories."
" Monsieur le Due," said the Abbess, in a tone of
176 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
emotion, " I thank you for your goodwill, and the
accents in which you express them convinces me of
their perfect sincerity. But I avow that when I
heard your name, I could not repress a feeling for
which I pray you to pardon me."
" Was it mistrust ? Or was it fear ? "
" Monsieur le Due," replied Madame de Montal,
" it was a painful feeling of confusion, such as pre-
vented my raising my eyes to your face; but your
language has completely reassured me, and now we
can speak of the business which has brought you
hither. You come, do you not, on behalf of M. de
Conti ? "
" Before approaching that subject, let us talk of
ourselves a little, Madame . . ."
" Address me as ma mere," said the Abbess,
" Allow me to dispense with that, I pray you . . .
the matter that I desire to treat of here is quite
worldly, and that we may not confound matters of
religion with the business of this world, I will ask
you to be once more for a few instants the fair and
witty Madame de Montal."
She made a gesture of assent.
"You agree? ... I thank you. Well, Madame,
tell me why, gratuitously, without being prompted by
any discernible reason, you once inflicted an affront
upon me before the whole society of Lectoure, by
excluding me from an assembly to which you invited
all my friends ? "
THE DUG DK ROQUELAUKE 177
" Did not you take a cruel revenge ? " murmured
Madame de Montal. . . " And must I remind you
of that dreadful sacrilege against the confessional,
whereby you surprised a sinner at the very bar of
repentance ? "
" I was wrong, and I committed an unpardonable
crime, I know," answered I with compunction. " But
if my pride had received so grievous a hurt, did you
ever know, Madame, what a blow fell upon my heart
when I listened to the strange confidences that you
unconsciously made to me, both unwittingly and
" I do not understand you."
" No one has ever known it, Madame, not even
Latour-Roquelaure, though he shared nearly all my
thoughts ; you yourself would never have learned it,
if a most strange chance had not brought us together
at this moment. . . . After that scene at the con-
fessional, Madame, I returned home, triumphant to
all appearances, but in reality sad, dejected, and
desperate ; for you were lovely in my sight, and
I loved you . . ."
The Abbess was so startled that she jumped back
in her chair.
" Yes, but with as pure a love as that with which I
might adore the angels . . . and I rejoiced in that
virtue of yours, though it seemed to accuse my own
weakness and show my unworthiness. . . I rejoiced
in it because I told myself in secret that if you hated
VOL. Ill \2
178 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
me, there was no one else in the world whom you
loved ! . . . Those sweet illusions could not endure
after the avowals you made to Father des Martelles,
and scarcely had I committed my misdeed when God
himself punished me for it by raising inextinguishable
regret in my heart."
Madame de Mental remained silent and abashed.
" And you," I resumed, " in spite of the invitation
which you thought fit to send me later, in spite of the
reparation which was wrenched from you by an odious
necessity, did you not hate me and despise me ? "
Madame de Mental sighed, raised her eyes to
heaven, and said to me:
" I think that you understand women, Monsieur
le Due, and yet I see that there are secrets in their
nature of which you are still ignorant. You know not
to what strange changes our firmest ideas are subject,
and our strongest resolutions ; you know not that with
us there is scarcely any event that does not lead to a
reaction, and that if hatred sometimes follows upon
friendship, so does excessive indulgence sometimes
take the place of excessive severity. So it was with
me as concerned you, Monsieur le Due. When once
my first feeling of antagonism had passed away, when
I had made a sacrifice to my own self-esteem which I
judged necessary, I mean that of not receiving you
because of your reputation ... as a bad man, 'tis
the phrase to use, I soon felt regret, for in reality I
was curious, as all women are, and I wished to be
THE DUG DE ROOUELAURE 179
acquainted with you. When I saw you following
me to the church, the glances which you directed at
me, as you will remember, were such as both to
move me and make me proud. It was a sin, and
I have deeply repented of it since. Then at our
second meeting, after you had taken the place of the
venerable Father des Martelles in the confessional,
I know not what I felt, but beneath the anger 1
showed there was so great a wonder and so deep
a stupefaction, that I cannot say if I were more
indignant or surprised at so blameworthy an act.
When I returned home, I thought of all that had
passed ; of course I regretted an event which had
subjected my modesty to such a rude experiment,
and I shuddered at thinking that I had yielded my
secret to a stranger and a man ! . . . And yet after
a few hours pf reflection, these fears and regrets
vanished ; I cannot explain why I suddenly became
prone to indulgence and forgiveness ; but it is true
that I had little difficulty in convincing myself that
M. de Roquelaure, in spite of his levity, frivolity and
zest for adventures, was none the less a gentleman
of honour, from whom, in spite of the threats he had
thought well to address to me in a moment of anger
and resentment, I had nothing, nothing, to fear."
Madame de Montal had been so noble and so
impressive in uttering these words, that I could not
refrain from throwing myself at her feet.
" Rise," she said to me gently ; " I am glad to
l8o SECRET MEMOIRS OF
have seen you again, and I thank Heaven that those
clouds are scattered which might have still arisen
between us. ... For the future, Monsieur le Due,
let us be friends."
She extended her hand to me, and I kissed it
" Now," she resumed in a voice which I thought
betrayed symptoms of tears, " let us speak of the
business about which M. de Conti has sent you to
I could but obey ; we compared figures, we upheld
the respective rights of our clients, she defending
those of her sisterhood, I those of the prince. But
a harmless irregularity was soon introduced into this
serious converse, and I have some doubt that a
notary would have found many things to alter in the
deed which we drew up of common accord. Never-
theless, we came to the end of our business when
it had lasted about three hours. That, no doubt, was
in some part attributable to the time that Madame
de Mental and I had devoted to our reconciliation.
The day was beginning to wane. The abbess of
the Ursulines bade me farewell, and I begged leave
to kiss her hand a second time. She gave consent,
and then, after showing me the way by which I should
quit the place, she enjoined upon me not to forget
her in my prayers, and returned to her oratory.
As for me, as will be seen, I was not yet within
a great deal of leaving the convent of the Ursulines
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE l8l
It was a day of adventures, and those days are
like the runs of luck that sometimes come to you
at games of chance. You know when they begin;
but you never know when they will end.
I was withdrawing, and was passing down a long
gallery which took me towards the garden, when,
coming to a kind of parlour, I heard voices and steps
near that door of the place which was the further
from me. If I advanced, I should subject myself
to a further demand for explanations and a fresh
annoyance. There was a small chamber beside the
room, which was at the moment half-open.
The surprise which ensued for me was of the
most agreeable kind that can be imagined.
A girl of heavenly beauty was the first to appear.
Behind her came a woman of about fifty years of
age, of a harsh and hard appearance, with her hair
in grizzled ringlets, a badly preserved old man, and
an abbe of uncertain age. The last-mentioned was
full of importance and was out of breath. He was
exchanging looks of intelligence with the old lady,
and interspersed these with smiles wherein was to
be perceived that kind of treachery which, unhappily,
is peculiar to certain men of God.
These four persons seated themselves in a circle,
silently, deliberately, and their grave and solemn
bearing was such as would have befitted inquisitors
summoned to judge a heretic or a sorcerer. The
girl seemed very indifferent to these imposing airs,
l8'2 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
and looked silently at the cornices of the ceiling,
like those idle scholars who come to a class resolved
to pay no attention to what is told them.
The old man, upon a sign from the woman and
the abbe, began the discourse, after a great deal
of coughing, as is generally the practice with those
about to commence upon a delicate and embarrassing
" Mademoiselle Marguerite -Valerie de Roche-
plate," said he, "you have hitherto been deaf to
all the exhortations of your family. . . . You are
like a little rock, unmoved by the gentlest words
and the wisest reasons. We shall see if you will
prove more tractable here."
" Here ? Where am I, then ? " cried the pretty
child, gazing around her with curiosity.
" At the convent of the Ursulines, niece," replied
the old gentleman, who now had a fit of coughing
yet more violent than the former access.
"A convent. . . . Oh, that is delightful, my
dear uncle. If you knew how happy I was at the
convent of Sainte-Mary at Cambrai, where I left so
many charming and devoted friends I"
The abbe smiled.
" This convent is not altogether like the one of
which you speak, Mademoiselle, and it is not likely
that you will here find girls as careless and feather-
brained as yourself. This is a house, niece, where
life is spent in meditation, where eternal salvation
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 183
is thought of, and, in a word, where they pray to
Heaven ! "
" Why, uncle, I have never failed in that duty,
night or morning ! But it seems to me that any
place will serve for that. . . . Why should I pray
better here than in my father's house, the chateau
de Rocheplate ? "
" Nay, nay," interrupted the old woman im-
patiently, "my brother-in-law is right. There is
no question here of your father, who is out of France,
nor of his chateau, which will soon be his no longer.
And even if he were here, it would be no sight to
see a young lady of your rank beneath the same
roof as a man of scarcely forty-two, who, since he
was a widower, has piled folly upon folly. ... It
is six months since he left for Constantinople, and
we have only heard twice from him, and in the
second letter he tells us that he will probably not
return for a year. We should not be surprised, now
that he is in such a place, if he turned renegade from
Christianity, and had himself made a pasha to kill
time. Your father, whom I love because he is my
brother," added the harsh old woman, " is a mad-
man, whom we shall perhaps be obliged to place
under an interdiction . . . and in that case you
understand that it is our duty, our duty as kind and
devoted relatives, to think of you, a poor neglected
child, possessing unhappily so fair an exterior that it
might become, if we were not watchful, the destruc-
184 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
tion of your soul and the cause of your perdition in
the next world."
" Madame la Comtesse de Bois-Bertaut is right,"
said the old man, as if to round off the sounding
periods of his sister-in-law.
The countess, tired by her piece of fine speaking,
was solemnly wiping her forehead.
At the name of Bois-Bertaut I had pricked up my
ears. Shortly before, La Tour-Roquelaure had told
me of the plots that were being slyly hatched in that
family. I beat my brains for facts, and almost at
once I remembered that M. de Rocheplate had a vast
fortune, that his admirable daughter, whose beauty
and innocence were equally vaunted, was the sole
heiress of it ; but that his near kin, and first among
them his sister, who had married a Bois-Bertaut,
were taking advantage of certain follies he had com-
mitted, about which there had been some little
scandal, and were secretly endeavouring to induce
his daughter to enter a convent, and when she had
taken the vows finally, they would obtain the inter-
diction of her father. In this ingenious way all the
fortune of the Marquis de Rocheplate would be
diverted in the natural course to the Bois-Bertaut
branch, and the lovable child, thus sacrificed to a
vile cupidity, would only have the satisfaction, a sad
enough one at her age, and above all in the absence
of a real vocation, that she might hope for salvation
in the life to come, and that she would be espoused
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 185
Are there many girls, young, fresh and of sound
constitution, who are very eager for such a marriage ?
I do not think so.
Mademoiselle de Rocheplate, I fancy, shared my
Knowing the secret motives of the business, I
guessed what the end was to be.
Madame de Bois-Bertaut, taking advantage of
Rocheplate's absence, for the Marquis was in fact at
Constantinople, was trying to cajole the charming
Valerie, that she might bring her to renounce her
rights by voluntarily accepting the religious prison
which was pressed on her with so much insistence
and with reasons more specious than sound.
The lady spoke a great deal more, while the abb6
did nothing but breathe hard, and she concluded with
these words, while the old Comte de Bois-Bertaut,
her brother-in-law, leaning gravely on his cane,
listened to her as silently and impassively as a coun-
sellor at the Parlement, and Mademoiselle did her best
to stifle her desire to yawn.
" So, Mademoiselle, the upshot is that it is your
welfare that we have in view . . ."
I could not help smiling to myself at this naivete.
" And to reach so satisfactory a result for you and
for the whole family, we have but to bring you to
this honoured house, where we have appointed to
meet an eloquent person who will make you feel,
better than we can, all the advantages and all the
l86 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
good points of the decision we should like you to take.
This person, who has persuaded many others more
rebellious and more recalcitrant, and less educated
than you, will not hesitate at anything that might
show you your interests and put you in the best way
to arrive at the double end we desire for you, that is,
your personal happiness and your high repute in the
world. My dear Valerie, do you here promise your
uncle and me, in our presence, that you will in all
respects attend to the teacher who will be here soon,
with whom we shall leave you alone, so that you may
collect your mind and inwardly receive the grace that
he will certainly endeavour to bring from high heaven
upon you ? "
" Yes, I promise," replied Valerie in such a tone
of weariness as might be expected of one who seeks
to end a tiresome discussion at any cost.
The abbe made a solemn sign of consent, and
pointed to the door as if he would have Madame de
Bois-Bertaut to understand that it was time to leave.
The old man rose ; the abbe did the same.
Madame de Bois-Bertaut solemnly kissed her niece
upon the forehead, and said in just such an over-
bearing and imperious tone as captains of mousquetaires
use in speaking to their companies :
" Let us go."
In going out they had to pass in front of the
little room where I was concealed. ... I heard
the old gentleman say in a low tone :
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 187
" Why do not we wait for the bishop ? "
" His lordship bade me leave Valerie alone to her
meditations for half an hour before he came. He
is to be here at nine o'clock. It is now half-past
eight, and so this is the very moment to withdraw."
She turned about again and repeated :
" Farewell, my dear child, farewell ! "
A moment later, this conspirator of high degree,
with the old man and the abbe, who had played the
respective parts of mute and accomplice, disappeared
within the great stone corridor of the convent, the
heavy door was closed behind them, and all I heard
was the loud echo of their steps on the pavement of
the galleries. I widened the opening through which
I was looking into the parlour a little, and for a
moment was rewarded by one of the most interest-
ing sights that it has ever been given to a man to
SECRET MEMOIRS OF
1 determine to oppose these disgraceful tricks Serious results
of the adventure Flight, separation, hope destroyed A
journey into Switzerland Whither romance can lead us
Siege of Bordeaux I am wounded State of affairs The
Fronde at bay The journey from Reims Intrigues of the
Duke of Saint-Simon against me I go to Reims as a simple
amateur The anointing of Louis XIV. Appearance in the
town of Reims The holy ampulla The coronation The
royal festivities The cavalcade at Saint-Remy.
THE lamps still burnt and threw a doubtful and
trembling light on every object. These great walls,
cold and naked, this bare table, with the common
inkstand, these crucifixes of wood, these seats, the
hardness of which revealed the severity of the dis-
cipline of the place, and to complete the picture, a
handsome and dreamy-looking girl, her hair dressed
in the latest fashion, and clad in the last style of
the day all this presented a curious, singular, and
original picture, to which the principal character
formed a most striking contrast.
In the first place, Mademoiselle Valerie seemed
charmed to have no longer before her eyes the
faces of the three personages whose physiognomy
I have tried to sketch, but soon the complete soli-
THE DUG DE KOQUELAURE 189
tude, the mysterious solemnity of silence, the half-
darkness which surrounded her, ended by agitating
her so much that she was seized with a sort of
convulsive trembling, and going towards the prie-
dieu, she lifted her eyes to heaven :
" O God ! O God ! what do they want to do
to me ! "
It was evident that she had been kept up till
now by a sentiment of defiance and hostility, which
she had doubtless secretly cherished against the
three relatives who had brought her here. But
Nature now redemanded her rights, and the weak-
ness of the young girl thoroughly betrayed itself.
My first idea was to fly to her assistance ; my first
movement was to rush towards her.
Hut a certain fear kept me back.
I should doubtless frighten her . . . she might
scream for help, compromise herself, and me with
her, and turn the peaceful convent topsy-turvy. . . .
What was to be decided on ?
Ought I to resign myself to stand, virtuous, pru-
dent, motionless, three paces from her, without daring
to budge or say a word ?
The punishment of Tantalus could not have been
more hateful to me.
She remained several minutes upon her knees . . .
then, slowly rising, she walked round the room as
if to examine the furniture more closely ; this furni-
ture, as I have said, was very simple and severe.
SECRET MEMOIRS OF
She seemed a little more calm, almost comforted.
I coughed gently. She listened without seeming
so very much frightened.
Delighted with this first success, I pushed the
door open and presented myself to her eyes.
To my great surprise, she remained perfectly cool,
and looked at me with an appearance of no other
sentiment than a lively curiosity. I, thereupon, made
her a low bow.
" It is probably you, sir, whose visit my aunt, the
Marquise of Bois-Bertaut, announced."
The innocent girl suggested to me, unknown to
herself, an excellent and luminous idea.
" 'Tis I," I answered, in the gravest manner in
" Can I know your name," she said, with a little
" My name is "
I hesitated for a moment.
Why lie to so beautiful an angel ?
Her perfect candour had a right to a similar frank-
ness on my part ; besides an idea, which, prompt
and rapid as a flash of lightning, at that moment
entered my brain, leaving there the germ of a project
which might determine my future and my life. I
knew the name of this adorable child, I knew her
family by reputation it was one of the best of the
noble families of Cambresis. I saw her about to
become the prey of barbarous relatives, who wished
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE IQI
to keep her, for their own profit, out of her paternal
succession, and I resolved to become for her the pro-
tector from whom they tried to isolate her, in order to
get the better of her conscience and her will.
Thoroughly decided to play the part of Providence,
1 added with assurance : " Men call me the Due de
Her countenance never changed. Evidently she
heard my name for the first time in her life. That
did not astonish me, seeing that I was certainly
less known at young girls' nunneries than at the
44 Mademoiselle," said I, suggesting that she should
sit by me, " Madame the Countess of Bois-Bertaut,
if I have thoroughly understood her intentions, has
strongly advised you to intrust the care of your future
to the person who will come this evening, and, with
the intention of being useful to you, have a conversa-
tion with you in this parlour."
44 Yes, Monsieur le Due."
44 And is your confidence in your aunt strong
enough for you to consent, on her simple exhortation,
to follow blindly the advice which this person, of
whom you know nothing, should choose to give
44 My father is away, Duke, and the Countess of
Bois-Bertaut, his sister, is my only relative in the
world. You see, I am forced to do as she says ; but
I confess that her severe manner and her hard ways
IQ2 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
have frightened me as to the result of this mys-
terious interview, which was forced on me by her,
if my cousin, the Abbe de Louvigny, who is recently
ordained, and of whom everyone in the family speaks
well, had not secretly advised me to yield, on this
occasion, to everything that was demanded of me."
" I know the reputation of the Abbe de Louvigny,"
answered I to handsome Valerie de Rocheplate, " and
I know that he passes for being a man who is very
pure, very honest, and who accomplishes with the
greatest exactitude the duties of religion. But I can-
not keep from thinking that he has almost trifled, not
to say been imprudent, in telling you to submit to
something of the nature and consequences of which
he might be himself ignorant. Has he explained
nothing to you."
" Oh, of course, of course ! " cried the young lady,
blushing deeply and with indiscreet vivacity.
" Has he named the person with whom you have
to communicate ? "
" Has he enlightened you as to what may be de-
manded of you ? "
" Not precisely."
" What did he tell you ? "
" He told me he told me "
" Come now, I have to know all about it."
" Well, Monsieur le Due, he told me that the
man in whom the care of my future would be placed
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 193
would have an angel's voice and the persuasive lan-
guage of the saints ; that he would advise me with
the view of my eternal happiness ; that nothing which
had been taught me up to now in the convent had
been of a nature to satisfy any of my desires ; that he
would reveal to me, poor ignorant girl that I am, the
true state of the blessed in heaven ; in one word,
that he would teach me the delights of the only
marriage which a Christian virgin is allowed to wish
for in this world, that holy communion of souls," she
added with fervour, " which gives to simple mortals
a foretaste of the joys of Paradise ! "
" So," said I, after a short pause, "you have made
up your mind ? "
" To listen to you, to follow your instructions,
yes," replied the ardent neophyte, lowering her eyes
and blushing divinely.
I held back a last hesitation which was in my mind,
but almost immediately a determined, irrevocable reso-
lution succeeded my indecision. Everything was clear.
There were evident incontestable intrigues. They had
determined to take advantage of the innocence of this
young girl, in order to keep her out of her fortune and
fling her on that path where consumption, despair and
death perhaps awaited her. They had determined to
bury her alive in this convent ; it was to be her pre-
" No," said I to myself, " the wolf who has reserved
this delicious prey for himself shall not enter here, the
VOL. in 13
IQ4 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
bishop shall not accomplish his purpose. But first let
me close the door and draw the bolt." The action
followed the word, and I came back, and, taking
Mademoiselle de Rocheplate by the hand, I led her
to the little secret chamber where I had been pre-
viously hidden. I made her sit down, and fell on my
knees before her.
" Why do you do that ? " she stammered, looking
at me in astonishmeut.
" I ask your pardon, dear Valerie, beforehand, for
all I am going to tell you."
" All that is quite unnecessary ; you have my aunt's
authority for everything. My cousin, the Abbe de
Louvigny, said that I might have every confidence in
" And they were both right," said I, " for I will
save you from the evil which these wretches would
have done you, and I will only use the power which
has been given me to dissipate the clouds with which
certain interested people wished to surround your
mind. Dear child ! have you ever loved ? "
" Yes ! oh, yes! I loved my father with all the force
of my soul."
I breathed once more, for the first part of her
answer had made me tremble.
" Have you ever felt a taste for the religious life ? "
" Pray explain yourself."
"Have you ever wished to enter a religious
house ? "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE IQ5
" You mean . . . ? "
" To take the veil, to renounce for ever all the
pleasures of this world, to shut yourself up for ever
in a cloister."
" I I had rather die ! "
" Tis well I wanted to be assured as to that at
I looked at her silently. The word cloister had
caused her to turn pale. She seemed ready to faint
" Reassure yourself," said I, "such a sad existence
is not in store for you."
Then I pressed her lovely fingers to my lips.
" You frightened me when you talked to me of
taking the veil," murmured Valerie. " But that will
never be ; you swear it to me ? "
" Could such chains befit hands as sweet and
white as yours, Valerie ? Could eyes so beautiful,
so brilliant, be doomed to be eternally fixed upon
a hideous prison ? Could so much beauty be hidden
away without a crime ? No, Valerie, that is impos-
sible, that can never be ! "
" You are pleased to say that to quiet me."
" And now, Valerie, that we understand that a
future of suffering and of tears is not for you, shall
I give you the key to your destiny ? "
" To hear it from your mouth will be a double
pleasure," cried Mademoiselle de Rocheplate, " be-
cause I now understand all the sympathy that they
tried just now to inspire in me for you."
196 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Well, then, your destiny, Valerie, will be that
of those whom you resemble. You are beautiful. . . .
You will be feted, admired, desired by all. . . . You
are good, you will be loved . . . you are loved
already. . . ."
" And by whom, pray ? "
" By me, who will be, if it be your will, your
first teacher in the art of happiness."
" Heavens ! your words make me tremble . . .
and yet I have no fear of you."
I rose and placed myself at her side. One of
my arms slipped round her waist.
" Why do you press me so closely ? " said she.
" The better to communicate my thoughts to you,
" But your head is resting on my shoulder . . ."
" That is because I have many things to say,
Valerie, secretly, quite low, in your ear."
" Nevertheless, you say nothing ! "
"I dream! . . .Oh, dropoff as I do, Valerie!
There are dreams so seductive, so sweet ! "
" But it is not by going to sleep that you will
give me those lessons which my aunt had prepared
" Perhaps ! The sleep which I counsel you to
is but the sleep of the soul ; it is full of charming
images and sweet fancies."
" But ... Oh, Duke ! . . ."
"Valerie . . Valerie ..."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE IQ7
"Holy Virgin ! I feel your lips upon my cheek . . .
you are kissing me ? . . . "
" Imprudent girl ! to thus reproach me ; you have
been obliged to turn towards me, and now your lips
are touching mine. That is no fault of mine, I trust ? "
" Nor of mine ... I didn't do it on purpose,"
said Valerie, languishingly.
And her mouth as it stammered the words re-
mained glued to mine. Her eyes shot forth long
flames which burnt me like sun-rays. I gave it up ;
my hand slipped from her waist the soft stuff of her
skirt caused a sort of burning thrill to my whole
being, and made my brain whirl. ... I lost my
head. . . .
x- -x- *- * *
Valerie, faithful to the instructions that had been
so often repeated, gave full proofs of the most per-
fect submission, and I had the joy to hear her murmur
in a feeble voice :
" Yes . . . this is happiness . . . this is true
An hour was passed in the charming gambols of
this lesson; perhaps it was a little too philosophic
for Mademoiselle de Rocheplate. It was time to
fly ; for how could we explain our manifest dis-
order ? . . . I bade Valerie follow me, and she
showed no more resistance to my will than she had
done up to now. My coach awaited me at the
door of the convent. The serving sister, who kept
198 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
the door, never dreaming that I was carrying off
a novice, and noticing besides the lay dress of the
young girl, allowed me to pass, making me a very
We were hardly rumbling over the stones of the
high-road than his grace the bishop arrived at the
convent. I kept my reflections to myself, and I
answered Valerie, who asked me whither we were
" To one of my relations, where you can cor-
respond with your family and write to your father."
I thereupon conducted Mademoiselle de Rocheplate
to the house of the excellent Dowager de V * * *,
whose name I do not set down here, because I
know that during her life she had a horror of every
sort of scandal, and that it would be contrary to
her wish to be exhibited in Memoirs which some
day or other may be printed. The good lady had
given herself up to God. This statement will surely
surprise some of my readers, who will not understand
why I should, under such circumstances, have taken
refuge under the protecting wing of religious ideas.
But they will recover from their surprise when I
state at the same time that my folly with the beautiful
Valerie de Rocheplate was entirely free from any
odious and culpable after-thought, that not even in
thought had I quitted the sentiment of honour which
caused me to regard as sacred the precious treasure
of candour and innocence of which chance had
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 199
rendered me the possessor. In one word, I intended
to make good the evil I had committed, and I
should have looked upon myself as the most miserable
of mankind if, even in the middle of the most delicious
moments of my happiness, I had not cherished the
formal intention of sanctifying everything by means
For the first time in my life, in reality, the word
marriage did not frighten me.
The good Madame de V * * *, to whom I only
told be it understood a part of what had happened,
took a great deal of trouble for me in the business.
The abduction had caused some scandal. She it
was who saw the Countess of Bois-Bertaut, Valerie's
old uncle, and even the young abbe, who could not
understand how the bishop's visit had been escaped.
All these good people were very angry indeed. The
trap they had set, threatened to be fatal to themselves ;
they soon became more tractable, and agreed to a
compromise. They wrote to Constantinople, whence
Monsieur de Rocheplate replied, that as he was
studying Mussulman customs, he was no longer
much of a partisan of Christian marriages; but
that, nevertheless, he did not think he ought to
apply his new ideas to the establishment of his
dear daughter, and that, consequently, he would
approve in advance any decision of Madame de
V * * *, all the more that the name of Roquelaure
seemed to him in every way acceptable, etc., etc.
2CO SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Everything, then, was happening for the best,
when several incidents occurred which were enough
to break off everything at the moment when they
were least expected.
Good Madame de V * * * died suddenly. Then
Valerie's family, which had shown a brave face
against misfortune, and which saw itself forced to
yield to an unfavourable concatenation of circum-
stances, resolved to take a sudden revenge. The
same day that they told me that my old relative had
died during the previous night, they informed me
that at about ten o'clock in the morning the Countess
of Bois-Bertaut, having come to ask for Valerie, had
begged her to come downstairs on the plea of speak-
ing to her uncle, whose state of health prevented his
going up to see her, and that then she had forced her
to take the third place in a post-chaise, drawn by three
horses, which immediately started off at a furious
I rushed about all day to obtain further details.
No one knew anything.
The following day I moved heaven and earth to
discover the place of her retreat. It was impossible !
In their turn, they had carried her off.
At last, by researches, prayers, and flinging money
about, I became certain that the unworthy Countess
of Bois-Bertaut, fearing that I should play off against
her the influence of certain powerful protectors, had
crossed the frontier and taken Valerie with her to a
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 2OI
Seven months passed in this way. I obtained
no further news of the matter. I sent a long letter
to Monsieur de Rocheplate. He never even acknow-
I thought that perhaps the good man, having
at last become a pasha, had at length gone out of
About this time my love-affair with Madame de
Lesdiguieres came to an end. I can say, besides,
that this passion did not cease suddenly, but that
it became extinguished by degrees, and that it was
transformed into a real and tender friendship.
Madame de Lesdiguieres, I can affirm upon my
word of honour, had no more devoted slave than
In order to finish at once with the history of
Mademoiselle de Rocheplate, I will skip at a jump
certain events that ought to find their place here,
and go forward a whole year in my narrative.
An important affair having called me one day
to Lucerne, I determined to profit by this circum-
stance to examine the neighbourhood, said to be
both beautiful and curious.
It was in the month of July, and from the first
hour of my arrival I arranged matters for this prin-
cipal object of my journey. I had also to get a
certain signature for the settlement of a territorial
interest, and, the affair being transacted without
difficulty, I found myself at liberty to do as I
pleased with my time.
202 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
I commenced with an exploration of the country.
Lucerne is in a delicious position. The Reuss,
which rushes from the beautiful Waldstcetten Lake,
divides it into two portions ; one is called the little
and the other large town. The Swiss Alps, covered
with their eternal mantle of snow, make an admirable
frame, ornamented with diamonds and precious stones,
which sparkle in every direction from the light of the
sun, for the town.
I had already visited the Pont des Moulins, on
which one notices Meglinger's pictures of the " Dance of
Death" and the "Tour d'Eaux," which rises like a light-
house above the Reuss ; the arsenal, built close to the
Berne Gate; and the abbey church, whose harmonious
carillon I listened to with pleasure. It is easy to
understand that I began to feel tired, when, on a
sudden, passing along the left bank of the River
Reuss, I perceived . . .
Who . . . ?
Valerie . . . Valerie herself!
She was alone, and walked rapidly.
I ran to her, I called her ; my heart beat with
violence. She turned, gave a little scream, and grew
very pale. I caught her in my arms, and some
seconds after she said :
" Ah ! duke, why did cruel Fortune separate us ?
You were very, very angry with me, were you not ? "
" I ! I angry with you, angel of goodness ! Can
you think it ? I found out that you were carried
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 203
off by force from the house of the estimable Madame
de V :;: * * ; all I could do was to pity you."
" Oh, thanks ! In my misfortune, my greatest
fear was that you might have thought me an accom-
plice in that sudden and inexplicable flight."
" But why are you here ? What are you doing
in this place ? Why are you alone ? "
" If you want me to answer all those questions,"
said Valerie, " come with me, I will conduct you,
where we shall be at liberty to make mutual explana-
tions, and to confide to each other those strange
vicissitudes which have been impossible for us to
struggle -against. "
I offered her my arm ; she took it, and I accom-
panied her into a street which wound behind the
church of St. Pierre. We shortly entered a smart-
looking house, to which nothing was wanting but a
little life and movement. It seemed a cloister, rendered
comfortable according to modern requirements. She
made me sit beside her, and, commencing at the death
of the Dowager de V * * *, told me, without a single
exception, the strange details of her abduction.
Madame de Bois - Bertaut carried her off without
giving her a chance of reflecting or of making any
plan whatever, and, after five days' travelling, the
pair arrived at Lucerne. There she was conducted
to a convent, the rules of which were very severe.
The abbess agreed to watch her strictly, and swore
it by an oath on her eternal salvation ; this appeared
2O4 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
to completely tranquillise Madame Bois-Bertaut. But
Valerie (thanks to me, perhaps) was no longer a feeble
lamb, who would allow herself to be conducted to her
doom without a word. She determined to leave the
convent, and one fine evening, having purchased the
assistance of a lay-sister, who pitied her unfortunate
position, she escaped, and found herself in the middle
of the street, delighted to have gained her liberty, but
not knowing what to do with it, and dying of fear
that she should be exposed to insult. Happily, a
brilliant thought struck her. She remembered that
her father had spoken of a certain friend of his at
Lucerne, named M. de Matignon. She made en-
quiries, succeeded in discovering his dwelling, and
told him everything. M. de Matignon was an excel-
lent man, with a loyal mind and pitiful heart. For
a long while he turned over in his mind the means
for removing his old friend's daughter from the perils
which surrounded her. He saw that she was alone,
abandoned by all, surrounded by implacable enemies
who were interested in her ruin ; he was horrified to
think that M. de Rocheplate, semi-madman that he
was, was no longer capable of asserting his paternal
authority. M. de Matignon perceived all these things,
and he feared for Valerie's future.
" There is, perhaps, one way of arranging it all,"
he said to her; "only say the word, and you may
become my wife. I possess a large fortune ; this
marriage will at the same time save your property
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 205
and place you beyond the cruel pursuit of your
relations. Let me have your decision."
Valerie stopped at this point in her tale ; then she
recommenced in a sorrowful voice :
" What would you have done in my place ? My
situation was a terrible one. It seemed to me, as
I listened to this kind man's proposal, that I
was as one who was drowning, and that someone
threw me a rope to rescue me. On the other hand,
many months had elapsed since you and I were
separated. I feared the vengeance of my aunt, I
dreaded a scandal, I knew not how to find you ; in
one word, I was at the end of my resources, I had lost
my head I accepted the offer."
" You are married ? " cried I, trembling from head
"Yes, duke, to M. de Matignon."
" Well what sort of a man is he ? "
" Oh ! the best man in the world but not the
" How old is he ? "
" He is fifty-five years of age."
I gave a sigh of relief. Valerie's hand still remained
" But," I asked, " where is he, how is it I do not
see him here ? "
" M. de Matignon, a Frenchman by birth, has been
for many years a naturalised Swiss ; he holds an im-
portant post in the Government of this country. Just
206 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
now, he is gone to Geneva to fill a mission of import-
ance. He will not return for a week."
After this narration, which was scattered over with
avowals which must have been very difficult for
Valerie to make, the little clouds which had risen
between us were dissipated, and perfect cordiality
was soon re-established. We thought no more of
M. de Matignon, but of each other, and I perceived
with secret plesaure that Valerie was not more
annoyed than I was at the change that my arrival
brought to her tranquil life.
We had a week to ourselves, a week during which
we could talk and enjoy communion of ideas, in which
we could think of the past, delight in the present, and
even look forward to the future. Our first idea was
to visit together the environs of Lucerne. I was
curious to see them, and Valerie good-naturedly
offered to be my guide. I was overjoyed at the vision
of happiness in store for me.
Our departure was fixed for the next day.
During her stay at Lucerne, Valerie had become a
valiant and intrepid mountaineer, she knew the district
as thoroughly as if she had been born there ; the
most perilous navigation of the lake was familiar to
her, and her foot had more than once climbed the
high mountains which surrounded every portion of
the horizon. I will not speak of our excursions on the
lake, though they have left delicious memories; I shall
glide rapidly over our trip to Griitli, where William
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 2QJ
Tell's chapel is situated, that I may arrive the more
quickly at our ascent of the Righi, the memory of
which will be evermore engraven on my heart.
The evening was already a little advanced, when,
after a long climb on the backs of mules, we reached
the Staffel, where we were to pass the night. Valerie
was in a severely-cut costume, which suited her to per-
fection. I devoured her with my eyes, and alternately
admired the power of the Creator and the two wonders
I had before me a woman's beauty and Nature's
magnificence. She ordered a separate room for
herself, without seeming to comprehend a sly look
which I gave her, whose eloquence ought to have
been clear enough. I was forced, to my great regret,
to separate myself from her, after bidding her a
It had been arranged that they should call us at
three o'clock in the morning. An old guide, one
Thomaso Pilati, a native of Piedmont, was to con-
duct us to one of the peaks of the mountain, whither
people came, as he said, from every quarter of the
globe, to see the sunrise.
We went to bed. Did Valerie sleep ? I cannot
say. But one thing I can affirm, and that is that I
never closed my eyes.
At the hour arranged we were afoot. The at-
mosphere was most favourable, the summits of the
neighbouring peaks appearing through the bluish
vapours which floated over the mountains continu-
208 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
ally, even in the clearest weather. We were going to
enjoy in all its fulness one of the most admirable de-
lights which can be furnished by the sight of a magical
and divine picture. Valerie seemed to feel a childlike
joy in guiding me upon a path which was altogether
new to me, and in pointing out what best deserved
Pilati, our guide, made us ascend by means of a
sweet and green slope, which exhaled such delicious
odours as to intoxicate me. Just at this time, Valerie
began to be a little weary, and her figure rested
against my arm with adorable abandonment. I asked
her if she would like to sit down.
" No," she said, " not yet awhile. Thomaso, let
us cross this rock, and help us to get as soon as
possible to that tiny cave where we reposed so de-
liciously on that last excursion which I made with
you in this direction with Madame des Valettes."
The guide obeyed, and in less than a quarter of
an hour we found the grotto. It was that sort of
fabulous cavern which the old authors delight in de-
scribing. Broken stones covered with grass seemed
to defend the entrance. The opening was arched
above, so that it resembled the door of a church.
" Let us penetrate this granite temple," said
Valerie, placing her hand in mine ; " I wish to show
you the most beautiful sight you have ever admired
in your life."
I let her lead me. Our guide, at a sign from
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 20Q
Valerie, descended towards a little cottage where it
was usual to refresh oneself and rest the mules. The
good man doubtless needed a draught of wine, for he
was sixty, and notwithstanding his great experience
in these climbs, he had not strength enough to struggle
with limbs younger and more muscular than his own.
When we were alone, a sense of well-being, whose
nature I cannot precisely define, filled our bodies and
rapidly communicated itself to our souls. Our entire
lives were passing before our eyes. The sky by
degrees grew white, the stars became dimmed, and
the pale glories of the night disappeared, minute by
minute, as the light of day grew brighter. As the
dawn spread its rays over nature, the light mists and
diaphanous clouds of the mountain vanished as though
a mysterious breath had dispersed them.
At this spectacle, both Valerie and I remained
stupefied and immovable. Our thoughts grew
troubled, our hands were tightly clasped ; all our
remembrances of past happiness awoke once more ;
and, yielding to a transport, which the wonders we
were witnessing increased, we fell into each other's
arms, and forgot the entire world.
That day I realised one of the most ardently
desired dreams of my life. . . .
A week later, I left Lucerne with much heartfelt
I learnt later on that Valerie quitted Lucerne,
having been obliged to follow her husband into
Germany, whither his official functions called him.
VOL. in 14
2IO SECRET MEMOIRS OF
I have never seen her since.
The war of the Fronde placed a climax on the
favours which had been showered upon me. I was
present at the siege of Bordeaux under circumstances
remarkable enough to justify a full and particular
The whole of the town, excited by the incendiary
proclamations of the Prince of Conde, was a prey to
the most abominable disorder. At Bordeaux, neither
laws, nor rulers, nor magistrates were recognised.
That giddy spirit which it had originally borrowed
from the capital had rapidly filled the whole of the
south of France ; and the culpable complicity of
the princes in this seditious movement could at any
instant become the cause of the most irreparable
and odious misfortunes.
Royalty, menaced on every side, had need of
brave defenders. I can boast of having never re-
coiled a single step in the most difficult moments
which my fidelity and devotion had to pass through.
The siege of Bordeaux offered to my mind the
opportunity of fulfilling a great duty and to reap
some laurels. That was enough to inflame my
courage, and I prayed Providence to make me
worthy of the height of the mission I had to carry
The campaign was not very long. After many
days' preparation the attack was ordered. I was
in the very front of the battle, the best proof of
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 211
my zeal being an arquebuse ball which I received
through my body. I was placed upon the sick list.
But I had already done enough to be satisfied with
myself, and I had the happiness to learn on my
bed of pain that the definite advantage had re-
mained with the royal troops, and that the insur-
rection had been completely quelled.
During the time of my convalescence, great events
followed in rapid succession, and all turned out most
The Revolution made its last struggles. Beaufort
and Nemours marched upon Orleans, and Paris at-
tempted to renew those disorders which had previously
deluged its streets with blood. Men even saw the
truly original spectacle of a woman, Mademoiselle
de Montpensier, the daughter of Gaston of Orleans,
who set forth, wearing a riding-habit, followed by
Mesdames de Fiesque and de Frontenac, whom she
called the marshals of her camp, to join the army
of the rebels.
But all these efforts were destined to be without
results. Conde, conquered in the south, was obliged
to cross France in disguise, and Turenne gave him
a terrible lesson at Bleneau. This victory of the
king's troops was a glorious one, and the cannon,
which Mademoiselle caused to be fired from the
ramparts of the Bastille, was but the powerless
echo of the cries of distress of the flying Frondeurs.
Now that we have at length finished with the
212 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
sad episode of the wars of France, let us hasten
to arrive at the most glorious epoch of the time,
that is to say, the moment when Louis XIV., taking
the sceptre with a firm hand, ceased to be the play-
thing of the passions of a frivolous and ambitious
court, and showed himself indeed a king.
When I came back from Bordeaux, perfectly
cured and ready for new amorous or warlike expe-
ditions, my first care was to go to court and to
thank those of my friends and protectors who had
interested themselves in my advancement. I had
the happiness of being received with the kindest
distinction by his majesty, who even deigned to say
a word or two in the ear of Monseigneur the Cardinal
Mazarin. I should have been considerably embar-
rassed at the time to guess the reason of this strange
aside; but that very evening the explanation was
given me in the most natural and agreeable manner
in the world.
I received at my residence the title and patent
of duke and peer.
This favour gave universal satisfaction at court,
and everyone heartily congratulated me, with the
sole exception of M. de Saint -Simon, who hated
me, I know not why, and who had the bad taste
to exhibit his annoyance, at which certain persons
were considerably amused. Saint-Simon perceived,
unfortunately a little too late, the deplorable effect
produced by his bitterness against me. He sue-
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 213
ceeded, nevertheless, by his intrigues in doing me
an injury, which I found out to be due to his ill-will.
The journey to Reims, for the coronation ceremony,
was about to be made, and I knew that there was a
question as to my forming a portion of the official
group. Thanks to the underhand manoeuvres of M.
de Saint-Simon, this mark of distinction was not
I consoled myself by undertaking the voyage to
Reims on my own account.
If the reader will permit it, I will present him with
a picture in miniature of the imposing ceremony, with
which the whole of Europe was pre-occupied for
It was the 3rd of June, 1654.
The king and queen arrived at about a league from
Reims, where they were received by the magistrates,
who were accompanied by two thousand well-mounted
townsmen and followed by five thousand armed men
on foot, who lined the road, and who made the air
resound with so many acclamations of joy, which
expressed their affection far better than the triumphal
arches and other sumptuous decorations which they
would have erected if an order to the contrary had
not placed bounds to their zeal.
The lieutenant of the townsmen attended the king
to the gate of the city itself. Here he presented the
silver keys to him. Then his majesty, being seated in
the queen's coach, alighted before the great portal of
214 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
the church, where there is that masterpiece of stone
which has represented there for centuries the corona-
tion of King Clovis.
The canons, in scarves of cloth of gold, received
the king on getting out of the coach, and offered him
a hassock, upon which his majesty knelt ; while Mon-
seigneur the Bishop of Soissons, clad in his pontifical
habit and preceded by his crozier, respectfully offered
holy water to him.
When once the royal procession had entered the
church, a general hush came over the multitude, and
I shall remember until my dying day the Te Dcum
which was then sung, with a complete accompani-
ment of the organ and every description of musical
But let us pass rapidly over the details of the first
arrival of Louis XIV. at Reims, to arrive at the great
day itself that is to say, the coronation day.
On Sunday, the yth of June, I was introduced
at three o'clock in the morning, by special favour,
and in the company of the Dukes of Vendome and
Candale, into the lofty gallery of the church, whence
I could admire the marvellous spectacle of which I
shall now attempt to give the reader an idea.
The church, from roof to floor, in the choir, in the
nave, and in both aisles, was adorned with the richest
and most beautiful of the royal tapestries. The steps
of the altar and the pavement of the choir were
covered with immense Turkey carpets, and the great
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 215
altar, besides its marble inlaid with gold and antique
statues of the greatest value, was surmounted by a
coronal of the crown diamonds, and its importance
was increased by two reliquaries, one containing the
head of Saint-Louis, given by Louis XIII. at his
coronation, and the other the head of Saint-Remy ;
this was borne on a massive pedestal of gold.
At the foot of the steps of the high altar was the
throne from which the Bishop of Soissons would
officiate, and which was rendered specially remark-
able by being decorated in violet velvet embroidered
with golden fleurs-de-lis. On the other side, directly
opposite, was the dai's prepared for the king, the
ornaments of which transcended human description.
At four o'clock (for it was now already daylight)
the canons and church officials took their places in
their stalls. And now we soon saw the Bishop of
Soissons enter in his rochet and stole, wearing the
hood and the cope and his mitre, and carrying a
crozier. Behind him came the choir, with the
Bishops of Rennes, St. Paul, and of Coutances and
Agde ; they had been summoned to sing the litanies.
I recognised successively the Archbishops of Bourges
and Rouen, and the Bishops of Amiens and Senlis,
who had been chosen to chant the epistle and gospel.
About half-past five, four noblemen were despatched
from the archbishop's palace, whose mission was to
seek the Holy Ampulla at the Abbey of Saint-Remy.
During this time the six lay peers arrived from the
2l6 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
palace, and took their places before the high altar.
They were the Dukes of Vendome, Elbceuf, Candale,
Rouanais, Bournonville ; they were clad in tunics of
cloth of silver on rainbow-silk, and in scarlet ducal
mantles with a violet tinge.
They took their seats according to the directions
of the master of the ceremonies : then everyone turned
towards the door, where we saw appear the Queen of
France, the Queen of England, the Dukes of York
and Gloucester, her sons, the Princess of England,
her daughter, the Princess of Conti, the Princess
Palatine, and the Duchess of Vendome.
Then my eyes lost themselves in the midst of
an inexpressible confusion of rochets, hoods, mantles
trimmed with ermine, high satin collars, robes em-
broidered with pearls, diamond necklaces, glittering
crosses, holy relics, magnificently chiselled golden
candlesticks, and great wax candles, whose flaming
wicks resembled thousands of stars.
Some one then informed me that the great deputa-
tion, charged to seek the king, was about to set forth.
I joined it with pride, and this is what took place
before my eyes.
The Bishops of Beauvais and of Chalons, preceded
by the precentor and the sub-precentor, having arrived
at the royal antechamber, halted at the door for a
After a pause which lasted for three or four seconds,
the precentor struck two blows with his silver baton.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 217
" What do you want ? "
The Bishop of Beauvais answered :
" The king."
" The king sleeps," answered the Grand Cham-
A second time the same question and answer were
At last, for the third time, the bishop said, in
a solemn tone :
" We demand Louis XIV., son of that great king,
Louis XIII., whom God has given us as king."
Then the door opened and the two bishops entered.
The king awaited them upon a bed of ceremony,
lying on the right side, clad in a shirt of lawn, and
a bed-gown of red satin shaped like a tunic; over
these he wore a long robe of silver tissue. His head
was covered by a bonnet of black velvet, garnished
with a cordon of diamonds of great value, and a white
feather and a double aigrette. Thereupon, they
sprinkled him with holy water, and Monseigneur de
Beauvais addressed to him a Latin oration.
I was obliged to retire then, and I occupied
my time in hastening back to the church, so as to
witness the triumphal entry of my glorious and beloved
About an hour passed away.
The crowd waited in respectful silence.
At length, I heard a great roaring sound rise round
the walls of the holy building, which commenced as
2l8 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
the whisperings of a distant whirlwind in northern
seas, increased by degrees and finished by a formidable
explosion, somewhat similar to that which Vesuvius
or Etna might give forth at the commencement of
an eruption. I soon learnt the meaning of this im-
The head of the procession was composed of a
vanguard of a hundred Swiss, led by their captain,
Monsieur de Monmege ; they marched to the music
of a band, composed of twelve drums and an infinite
number of trumpets, fifes, oboes, flutes, bagpipes, and
sackbuts. It executed concerted pieces with marvel-
After the Swiss guard came the heralds, clothed
in white velvet with their trunk -hose, coat-of-arms,
and heraldic wand in hand ; then came a hundred
gentlemen of the king's household carrying their
halberds ; Monsieur de Rhodes, Grand Master of
the Ceremonies of France ; then came the Marechal
d'Estrees bearing a drawn sword ; the lay peers, each
having two ushers with maces as an escort.
Last came the king.
At that august entrance, I was as though dazzled,
and it seemed to me that a ray of fierce sunshine
blinded my eyes.
Prince Eugene of Savoy carried his majesty's
train. Immediately afterwards appeared the Chan-
cellor, who had an air which was something grander
than that of simple mortals, and who wore his crimson
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 2IQ
satin cassock in a most imposing manner. His mantle
and judicial hood were scarlet, and on his head he
bore a legal bonnet of cloth of gold, trimmed with
I will not trouble you with the other members of
the procession. Among the principal personages who
attracted my attention were the Due de Choiseul,
the Comte de Vivonne, Charost, and the Marquis
When the Veni Creator had been sung, the Holy
Ampulla was brought in front of the door of the
church. He who carried it was the Grand Prior of
the abbey of Saint-Remy. He was mounted upon a
white horse, which was led by two head-grooms of
the royal stable ; above his head was borne a canopy
of cloth of silver.
Immediately M. de Soissons perceived the arrival
of the Holy Ampulla, accompanied by the Bishops of
Amiens, Senlis, and Caesarea, he advanced to the end
of the nave, close to the great doorway.
The Prior then offered him the Holy Ampulla.
" Monseigneur," he said, " I place in your hands
this precious treasure, which was sent down from
heaven to the great saint Remy, for the consecration
of Clovis and those kings who might succeed him.
But, beforehand, I beg you, according to ancient
custom, to bind yourself to return it to my hands as
soon as the coronation of our great .king Louis XIV.
has been accomplished."
22O SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The prelate, having promised to fulfil the con-
ditions, the Holy Ampulla was immediately surren-
dered to him.
After numerous ceremonies of minor importance,
the Holy Ampulla was deposited upon the altar, and
the king, whose example was followed by everyone
present, bowed to it ceremoniously.
Some minutes afterwards the form of oath was
read to Louis XIV. ; he repeated it in a loud voice,
with his head covered and his hands upon the gospel.
I pass lightly over certain details, such as the
formality of demanding of the peers and people if
they accepted Louis as their sovereign, also the
numerous changes of dress which the king had to
go through, and of the benediction of the sword of
And now I come to the preparation of the Holy
Chrysm. After an indefinite number of orisons had
been recited and anthems had been sung, of questions
and responses made in the monotonous accent peculiar
to the church, of comings and goings, which seemed
never ending, they proceeded with the curious cere-
mony to which I alluded above.
The Bishop of Soissons returned to the altar in
order to prepare the Holy Unction.
Firstly, he placed the golden paten of Saint-Remy
upon the middle of the tabernacle, and the Grand
Prior having received from the Treasurer the silver
key of the little casket which contained the Holy
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 221
Ampulla, he opened it, and drawing forth the heavenly
gift, placed it in the hands of the Bishop of Amiens,
the officiating deacon, and took from it a portion
about the size of a grain of wheat. This he placed
upon the paten, while the nave resounded with the
religious songs of the choirs, and they did not fail in
causing profound emotion in the hearts of everyone
Then the Kyrie Elison and litanies were chanted.
Then the anointments commenced.
The king was on his knees. The Bishop of
Soissons, seated and wearing his mitre, took with his
thumb the Holy Chrysm prepared from the golden
cup of Saint-Remy.
Firstly, he made the sign of the cross on the
summit of his majesty's head, saying :
" Ungo te in regent de oho sanctificato. In nomine
Patris, et Filii et Spiritus Sancti"
He repeated this formula at each of the six fol-
lowing anointings, which were made upon the
stomach, between the two shoulders, on the right
shoulder, on the left shoulder, and on the joints of
the arms. There remained yet two unctions to be
made. But to proceed to this last ceremony, which
would complete the holy consecration of royalty, the
king's costume was changed. The Bishop of Soissons,
aided by his brethren ot Senlis and Amiens, clothed
with little golden cords the openings in the shirt and
bed-gown of the king, and the Great Chamberlain
222 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
presented him with the three following garments :
the tunic, the dalmatic, and the royal mantle. The
last two anointings were at length made upon the
palms of each of the hands of Louis XIV. The
benediction of the ring and the summoning of the
peers preceded the actual coronation, which was done
with the great crown of Charlemagne, which had
been especially brought from Saint - Denis for this
It is impossible to form an idea of the delight and
pride felt by all the spectators at the sight of the
king wearing his crown.
It seemed that France, there represented by her
noblest and most famous men, was seized with a
movement of pride in beholding herself honoured
and renowned in the person of her worthiest
Louis XIV. was then conducted to the throne
which had been prepared beneath the rude loft, and
the Bishop of Soissons, having kissed him, declaimed
in a loud voice, which was heard throughout the
assembly : " Vivat Rex in atcrnum ! " Then burst
forth an uproar from every side which was indescrib-
able. The fifes, the trumpets, the oboes, blended
with the thunderous acclamations of the people, filled
the whole city with the cry of Vive le roil Pieces
of money, struck for the occasion of the ceremony
of the coronation, were distributed with a truly royal
profusion; and the king's fowlers set free from the
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 223
rude loft in the church an innumerable quantity of
little birds, who rose in a great cloud towards the
dome, warbling and fluttering their wings.
At length the successive celebration of mass, of
ceremony of offering and of the communion took
Afterwards the king returned to the palace.
That evening there was the grand entertainment
given by the gentlemen of the town of Reims. As I
was not a member of his majesty's official court, I
was not invited, but the intrigues of M. de Saint-
Simon could not prevent my being admitted to the
reception and kissing of hands which followed the
On the following day the town of Reims enjoyed
one of the rarest spectacles that could please mortal
eye. The weather was lovely, and the opportunity
was seized for organising in a magnificent manner
what is termed the cavalcade to Saint-Remy. This is
ordinarily a grand ceremonial visit which takes place
after a coronation, in which the new king beseeches
of the great saint, the protector of France, the con-
tinuation of his goodwill and of his benedictions.
Never have I seen so rich and brilliant a sight as
One noticed at the head of the procession a com-
pany of light horse. The Grand Provost followed
with his lieutenant and sixty archers of the Provost's
guard. An infinite number of noblemen increased the
224 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
procession and made it the most gorgeous and dis-
tinguished in the world. But not one amongst all
these seigneurs of the best and purest nobility of
France could be possibly compared with the king,
who wore a dress of cloth of silver, cut in the antique
fashion, a hood embroidered with silver, a bonnet of
black velvet decorated with an aigrette ; he rode, as
though he had been the finest horseman upon earth,
a white hackney, which carried its head in a warlike
but gentle manner. This procession of Louis XIV.
through the town was the cause of great joy among
the populace, and his majesty had the satisfaction,
during the whole of his progress, of being accom-
panied by the perfervid and endless acclamations of
a people who saw in him their consolation, their hope
and their idol.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 225
I remain several days at Reims after the king's departure An
unexpected meeting A reminiscence of twenty years back
The recognition Inopportune reflections and blamable
regrets with which the sight of two pretty children inspire
me A simple transition.
THE reader will perhaps remember a certain
meeting that took place near the village of Donchery,
a short time after I had been wounded at the fight
of La Marfee. A coach rushing at full speed on the
road from Mezieres to Sedan had attracted my atten-
tion ; the attitude of the postillion, the headlong
speed, all these circumstances had seemed to me
suspicious enough to inspire me with the desire to
know what it was all about. I planted myself firmly
in the middle of the road, at the risk of being knocked
down by the brutal Automedon, and my air of authority
had been enough to make him stop, and caused him
to give me, after a trifling gratuity, certain explana-
tions. . . .
The carriage was carrying off a young and very
pretty girl, very fresh, and, above all, very innocent.
She had been delighted to find a protector in me, and
I truly had had the luck to rescue her from a real
VOL. in 15
226 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
danger. After having taken her to an inn to obtain
from her the real truth of the matter, I found that
she had been treacherously put to sleep by means
of a powerful narcotic. The reader will without doubt
remember that I asked the innkeeper to go in
search of a physician who should treat my charming
invalid, and that I received a visit from a sort of
jackass, who disguised himself under the name of
Mathielmus, and who pretended only to care to
undertake the treatment of persons of quality, a
passably ridiculous pretension, to which I uncere-
moniously replied by a kick to the illustrious savants
seat of honour.
During this discussion, my unknown told me her
name was Fanfette, and begged me to conduct her
to Reims, where she had an aunt who loved her
I obeyed, and after a short journey, on which I
showed her, very nearly, all the respect due from
a brother to his sister, I left her at Reims, taking
away with me the satisfaction of having done a good
action, as well as the hope of soon being recompensed.
Alas ! I had written this word under the influence
of the delightful thoughts which rilled my soul. At
that moment, while my hand was still warm with
the pressure of Fanfette's, and my soul was full of
her image, it seemed to me as if we must soon meet
again. Soon means a long time, sometimes, for
twenty years had passed since I escorted Fanfette
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 227
to Reims, where the king's coronation had brought
me once more. The coronation ceremony was at
last over, and his majesty had already left the place,
when one morning, as I was walking in the en-
virons of the town, I was struck with the appear-
ance of a lady about five or six and thirty, who
was leading two children who were as beautiful as
the day. I was excited by her distracting waist, her
fresh little figure, above all by a pair of eyes which
blazed with all the fire of youth. I looked at the
lady several several times.
I was to a certain extent astonished, when I
noticed that my ogles were returned, and that she
I approached. . . .
" Fanfette ! " I cried, as though the name had been
forced from my breast by a supreme effort of will.
" M. de Roquelaure ! " she replied, fired without
doubt by her remembrance of me.
" We must agree," said I, as I approached her..
" that this is either sorcery or the intervention of
Heaven. We meet, after twenty years of separation,
as if we had parted but yesterday. 'Tis indeed a
" No," replied she, " the thing is simple enough ;
you were good to me, and it is not my memory, but
my heart, M. de Roquelaure, which has retained the
remembrance of you."
228 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" You are adorable," cried I, passionately seizing
and kissing the hand which she offered me. " But
shall I be as unhappy to-day as on the evening of
our short interview ? Have you nothing to tell me
about yourself ? For, after all, I know nothing about
you, your feelings, or even your mode of life. . . .
That is to say," I added, looking at the two children
with admiration mixed with sadness, " I can see you
are a mother, and that consequently you have ren-
dered one man happy."
" I did but pay a debt," replied Fanfette, whose
brow was now shaded with a trace of melancholy,
" and if you will consent to accompany me to that
garden, whose walls and trees we can see from here,
I will tell you in a few words my whole life's history."
" In a few words," replied I with a smile, " I can
well believe you. The life of an accomplished woman
like you can be summed up in two syllables, ' loving.' "
" You deceive yourself, M. de Roquelaure, and
you had better say, ' sacrifice.' "
Tears fell from Fanfette's eyes. I followed her.
We arrived at the garden ; she opened the little
wicket and we penetrated into a sort of fragrant
Eden, where one breathed delicious odours.
" Where are we ? " I asked her as we entered.
"At the Countess Amelie-Laure de Flegeres'."
" Is she one of your friends ? "
" You shall know shortly."
She conducted me under an alley of lime-trees to
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 22Q
a shady thicket, where there was a seat of turf ; by a
sign she ordered me to sit beside her. I obeyed. The
two children, who were as beautiful as cherubs, raced
away towards the tiny lawn a hundred paces off,
covered with buttercups and daisies.
Profiting by the presence of a stranger, who was
sure to distract for a while their mother's watchful-
ness, the two charming children hastened to enjoy the
liberty which we permitted. Soon we saw them in
the distance, rolling on the grass or gambolling among
Perhaps you can understand that the sight of
these two children annoyed and tormented me, and
caused my blood to boil. I looked from the two
beautiful little angels to Fanfette, and then, I could
not help it, I thought of those white shoulders which
I had so much admired, of that supple body which I
had held in my arms, of that brow of snow which I
had warmed with my breath, of those coral lips which
I had kissed with mine, and I thought with bitterness
that, notwithstanding all my art, all my cleverness, I
had but secured problematic delights similar to those
permitted to the unhappy Tantalus. Thus, then, I
had allowed this treasure to escape me but to abandon
her to someone else ! Thus I had but smelt the
flower which another, coming after me, had gathered
and worn !
But all these regrets, all these suspicions, would
have been an insult to Fanfette.
230 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
I was careful not to breathe a word of them.
I contented myself with admiring, sighing, and
regretting in silence. Her sweet confidence recom-
pensed me a little. With a gesture I signified my
Then Fanfette, looking round her to be sure that
no indiscreet ear could catch her words, commenced
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 23!
Fanfette's history Her stay with Madame du Hainault A
silent love The Count de Flegeres 1 window A portrait
of that gentleman A strange declaration Retirement into
an Ursuline convent at Mezieres The postchaise The
box of lozenges The abduction A remembrance of how
I met Fanfette on the road from Mezieres to Sedan
Thierret, the Count de Flegeres' valct-de-chambrc Fanfette's
return to Reims She believes herself delivered from her
persecutor Her love for the Baron de Lutz Her marriage
is decided on Preparations The Count de Flegeres ap-
pears once more The love-letter Strange language for a
lover A five weeks' truce The wedding presents The
marvellous bouquet The day before the wedding Fanfette
retires for the night.
"ABOUT a year before we met on the Sedan
road, M. de Roquelaure, I dwelt in the house of
an aunt, who was as a mother to me, in one of
the most retired quarters in the town of Reims. I
was fifteen years of age, people said I was pretty,
and my aunt, Madame du Hainault, a venerable
woman, sixty years of age, watched over me with
a tender vigilance, such as only maternal affection
" In the same street, and nearly opposite our
house, lived a man of about six-and-thirty years
232 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
of age, but he had no longer that air of youth and
vigour by which that period of life is ordinarily
distinguished ; as he sat alone at his window his
eyes were continually fixed on mine. He would
pass the entire day in watching for the moment
when I should leave the house, and then he used
to come forth and follow me at the distance
of a few paces. On the first few occasions I paid
very little attention to him. But soon his persistence
wearied me, and I grew to dislike him so, that I
dared not come to my window, and I kept my case-
ment almost always closed.
"At the end of a six months' continual struggle
between this man and me, who did not wish to be
seen, he took a more sensible mode of making our
acquaintance ; he caused himself to be presented to
my aunt by a neighbour, and, without beating about
the bush, asked for my hand in marriage.
" Madame du Hainault knew how I had been
annoyed by the mute assiduities of the Count de
Flegeres (for such was his name) ; therefore she
did not receive his proposal without a certain amount
of dislike. She raised a thousand objections, each
more plausible than before, but the strongest one
she did not dare to allege, was that I thoroughly
disliked him and that I had resolved, being inde-
pendent in fortune and position, never to give my
heart but to a man whose tastes sympathised entirely
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 233
" The Count de Flegeres was born of a German
mother, his father being a nobleman of Champagne,
had neither a German appearance nor a French
character. He was a very Englishman for phlegm,
which showed itself on his person and his peculiar
disposition for sombre and melancholy ideas. He
heard, with the greatest tranquillity, all my aunt's
objections ; he did not dispute them, but appeared
to accept the greater part of her theories and to
be ready to take his dismissal. But no sooner had
she finished speaking than he answered with a calm
firmness, that made my aunt tremble:
" ' Madame, you have a perfect right to refuse
me your niece's hand. Your niece is, of course, at
perfect liberty to marry another man. But, should
she do so, I consider it my duty, as an honest
man, that I shall kill myself . . . unless I should
manage to think of some good way of curing myself
of the passion which I feel for your niece, a passion
which will assuredly cause me to commit an impru-
dence, a folly, or a crime.'
" My aunt, as you can well fancy, listened to
the count with profound stupefaction. After which
she perceived that his eye began to wander and that
he never even dreamed of taking his leave, two
peculiarities which caused her to make up her mind
to dismiss him, and to forbid him the house, in case
he should make his appearance a second time. The
count took his leave, without seeming to be aware of
234 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
the nature of his reception, and as little upset as if he
were still in a position to hope for success.
" He called again indeed on the next and following
days. The object of his visit remained the same. My
aunt's answer never varied. Only towards the fif-
teenth or sixteenth visit she began to see that M. de
Flegeres, though outwardly calm, was really con-
" Madame du Hainault warned me. I was sorry
for the count, but had no other feeling for him than
one of pity. A week passed without our seeing any-
thing of him. We thought that he had given up his
useless pursuit of me.
" But one day, when I was walking alone in a
little courtyard attached to my aunt's house, I saw
M. de Flegeres coming towards me ; he was pale and
his eyes sparkled, his appearance frightened me, I
tried to fly, I called for help, but he held me by the
arm, telling me that Madame du Hainault was gone
out, and that my cries could not be heard. I was
frozen with terror, I could hardly speak. All that
I could do was to ask him what he expected from
me. Then, he made me the maddest declaration
that any woman ever listened to in her life. His
voice trembled so, that you could have sworn that
he was suffering from ague, and I can remember that
his hands, which never ceased pressing mine, for I
was unable to prevent it, passed from the most
burning heat to an icy coldness. He did not in
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 235
this interview exceed the strict bounds imposed by
respect. But his love expressed itself in such savage
terms, his tenderness made itself perceptible by such
violent protestations, that I very nearly fainted away
with fear, and my dread prevented my repulsing him
as I had fully intended.
" Happily, Madame du Hainault arrived. Her
appearance put an end to a scene which I had begun
to find much too long, and M. de Flegeres left us both
a prey to an agitation from which we had some
difficulty in recovering."
" The torture to which I was subjected for an
entire hour had left such an unpleasant recollection,
that I feared the renewal of a similar scene. My
aunt herself dreaded the persecutions of this man,
who was like a lunatic, and whose love showed itself
in such strange and abrupt fashions. I was easily
frightened. Each time that I thought that I heard
the sound of a voice or footsteps of the count, I was
seized with a trembling which caused my blood to run
cold and well-nigh stopped my respiration. It was
this perpetual danger that it now became urgent to
fight against or get rid of by hook or by crook.
Madame du Hainault had an excellent friend at
Mezieres, who was the superior of an Ursuline con-
vent. We decided that I should pass some time
there, and that I should leave at night in order that
no one should know whither I was being taken.
" I remained in peace for about three months. I
236 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
regularly received news of my aunt and corresponded
with her continually. One of her last letters had con-
siderably reassured me as to the Count de Flegeres.
He had started, she said, on a long journey, and she
expressed the intention to soon come herself to con-
duct me back to Reims, where her loneliness had
rendered life almost insupportable. I was expecting
her arrival, when one evening a man, whom they
assured me came from Madame du Hainault, asked
for me in the parlour of the convent. I went down
to him. He was a sort of coachman, wearing a great
coat of rough grey cloth ; his honest air predisposed
me at once in his favour. He told me that he was
a man from Reims, and that my aunt had been
taken so seriously ill, that she desired to have me
with her immediately, that he had an excellent
carriage, and that he had ascertained that there was
no lack of post-horses at the various stages. The
man talked with such simplicity, that it was im-
possible to feel any suspicion of him. The fact of
my aunt's indisposition was more than likely, and I
knew enough of her to be sure that in case of illness
she would send for me at once. I consulted the
lady superior. She thought as I did, and I hastened
to set out. At the moment I got into the carriage
a last incident thoroughly reassured me. My postil-
lion handed me a little box, which contained a peculiar
kind of lozenge much affected by my aunt, which she
was in the habit of ealing at all hours of the day
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 237
and of offering to all her acquaintances. My aunt
alone could have paid me this little attention.
" The carriage set off at a slow pace. Night had
fallen, so that I could hardly distinguish objects at
the roadside. Still, it seemed to me that I did not
altogether recognise the road by which I had come
from Reims, particularly at a certain distance from
the town, where I had noticed a magnificent mansion
on my right ; and now, seeing nothing whatever on
my left, I yielded to a sudden fear, and cried aloud to
my postillion. Then, without stopping, but merely
turning the apron of the chaise, he begged me to
pardon him, protesting that he wished me no harm,
and that a certain Baron de Hohenstauff, a most
venerable personage, expected me at Sedan, that he
had white hair and wore a superb diamond cross upon
his breast and a great scar upon his forehead, that it
was impossible not to recognise in him at once a
retired general of the Emperor of Germany. At this
portrait I trembled, for I knew that the Count de
Flegeres had in his service an old servitor who
answered this description accurately, and certainly
had an enormous scar on the face, the history of
which was unknown. I suspected that there was a
snare, a deception or a trick, and I began to scream
with all my might."
At this part of Fanfette's story I could not restrain
a slight movement.
" I see that my remembrances affect you," she
238 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
said, squeezing my hand, " for it was just at this
moment that I had the happiness to find you upon
the road. There is no need to recall to your mind
what passed. To you I owe my rescue from the
attempts of my ravisher and my escape from one of
the greatest perils which could menace a young girl.
Having thus returned, I rejoined my aunt, who was
in robust health and surprised at my return. I told
her what had happened in minute detail, and she
shuddered at the very thought of the abyss into
which I had almost fallen.
" In looking back on it, it is easy to see the
mysterious hand of the Count de Flegeres in the
comedy which was enacted for my destruction. As
for the pretended Baron de Hohenstauff, it was plain
enough that Thierret, the old steward of the count,
who had a detestable reputation, and who became
a valet after being originally a druggist, had been
frequently under suspicion of having secretly sold
certain chemical compositions the use of which is
illegal; this is the man who played the part of the
baron. He was, without doubt, dressed for the
part in order to inspire confidence in the officious
intermediary who was the principal actor in my
" You can well conceive, M. de Roquelaure, that
there was no longer any question of sending me back
to Mezieres. The experiment at the Ursuline convent
had not been a success. My aunt resolved for the
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 239
second time to keep me with her at Reims. At this
time our house seemed to have regained its tran-
quillity, for there was no further sign of M. de
Flegeres. We neither saw any more of him nor of
the old man Thierret, the confidant, or rather the
accomplice, in all his wicked deeds. Soon the
emotions which I attempted to depict for you were
" And it was then," continued Fanfette, with a
gentle sigh, raising her expressive eyes towards
heaven, " it was then that divine goodness permitted
me to enjoy, if not happiness itself, at least its shadow.
I gave my heart and my entire affection to the young
Baron de Lutz, whom I frequently met at various
festivities in the town of Reims. During the winter
which followed my return from the convent, he loved
me ardently, and I can confess to you, you who are
my friend, for it is so, is it not ? that my tenderness
equalled his. My aunt, after consulting me, accepted
the offer he made for my hand, and the date of our
marriage was fixed for the early part of August, 1644.
We were at the end of June, but only six weeks
separated us from the moment of our happiness,
when an event which came upon me like a thunder-
bolt, suddenly sowed in my heart the seed of the most
lively and cruel inquietudes.
" While walking in the Place with my 'aunt, I
suddenly found myself face to face with the Count de
240 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" I trembled from head to foot, I was ready to
sink into the ground.
" ' You do hate me very much, eh ? ' he whispered
in my ear.
" ' No, Count,' I replied, ' I do not hate you, be-
cause I know not what it is to hate.'
" ' Then why not love me ? ' . . .
" ' Because I love another, Count.'
" I appeared so upset, that he immediately offered
me his arm, and my aunt had not the courage to
make any opposition. He reconducted us thus to our
own door, and having vainly waited for us to invite
him to enter, bade us adieu with cold politeness.
Once back in my own little room, I thought of M. de
Lutz in order to dispel the sombre preoccupations
which had filled my mind as soon as I found myself
in the arms of the Count de Flegeres. Mechanically
I opened my window; there he was at his window
exactly opposite me. I lowered my curtain and re-
tired into a corner. It seemed that some evil was
menacing me. Happily, the Baron de Lutz arrived
that evening as usual. We enjoyed ourselves, and I
retired to bed at midnight, feeling happier than I had
felt all day.
" The first thing that struck me on entering my
room was a little piece of paper attached to a stone.
I picked it up, less with the idea of reading it than in
order to prevent it falling into doubtful hands. My
first idea was to burn it in the flame of .my lamp,
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 24!
but curiosity overcame me. I undid the stone, which
I had flung on to the hearth, and read the letter,
whose terms, notwithstanding the years that had
rolled by, have ever remained in my memory :
" MADEMOISELLE, There are certain things which are
written both in heaven and in hell. Had you willed it so,
I should have been both kind and happy. You have chosen
to treat me cruelly ; I shall be bad and cruel, and this does
not mean that I shall resign myself to be unhappy. For,
do not fail to understand this, in spite of your aunt, who
hates me, in spite of you who repulse me, in spite of him
whom you love, in spite of heaven, in spite of hell, in spite
of everything, you must, you shall be mine !
" I leave you to think how the reading of this
letter troubled me. I reflected a long time without
coming to any conclusion if I should communicate
this new impertinence of M. de Flegeres to Madame
du Hainault. My first idea was to tell her every-
thing ; but soon, thinking already of the mortal
inquietudes which she had had to suffer, I changed
my mind, and I hastened to reduce the infamous
letter to ashes, looking upon it as a mere vain threat,
which could only be explained by an excess of
wounded vanity or of impotent spite.
" After a truce of five weeks, my aunt and I had
reason to think that we were definitely free from the
count's importunities, for he had gone so far as to
leave his town residence in order to shut himself up
in a little country-house which he owned at two
leagues from Reims. It seemed without doubt that
VOL. in 16
242 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
he had accepted the failure of his various enterprises,
and we were fain to hope that the news of my
marriage would cure him finally.
" After all, as the great day approached, the pre-
liminaries of my wedding occupied my mind so ex-
clusively that I had no longer time to look back, and
I trusted entirely in Heaven to assure my happiness.
" We were at the eve of my wedding, and we
were finishing our last arrangements, when most
admirable presents of a most flattering nature were
brought me from Baron de Lutz. The corbeille was
something marvellous ; everything which it contained
was distinguished by an infinite delicacy and good
taste in its selection. But, strange to say, the gift
which excited my surprise and delight the most, which
had the most charm for me, was an enormous bouquet
composed of the most delicious flowers, the rarest and
most fragrant that imagination could conceive.
" The dresses, the laces, the veils, and the dia-
monds were exhibited on the chairs and sofas. It
was a fairy-like sight, well suited to arouse a young
girl's pride. As for me (and what I am going to
say is not a vain boast, I swear it to you), I thought
less of my satisfied vanity than of my constancy and
my tenderness, now so delightfully rewarded. I saw
in this profusion but a new proof of the affection the
Baron de Lutz had for me, and my pride was only
exceeded by my happiness.
" It was quite a fete-day. Madame du Hainault,
THE DUG DE ROOUELAURE 2.J3
witnessing my joy, remarked to me that this generosity
was the best possible omen of to-morrow, and I
retired to my room, where I was to pass my last
night as a young girl, content with the present, full
of faith in the future, and calm, with that unalterable
quietude which is caused by the certainty of hap-
" Madame du liainault had accompanied me to
my door. There she kissed me tenderly, and advised
me to go to bed at once.
" I'll just say my prayers," I replied, " and I
shall be fast asleep in a moment."
1 6 2
244 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Conclusion and end of Fanfette's history She contemplates the
heavens to find her star Strange sensations She gets into
bed Fanfette's precautions It seems that her confession
will be of a delicate nature I encourage her She recom-
mences her tale She found it difficult to go to sleep Of
the admirable things she saw in her dream An enterprising
seraph The danger of dreams Day dissipates not the
nocturnal phantoms The late arrival of Madame du Hainault
The surprised lover The leap from the window Rupture
with the Baron de Lutz Good-bye to happiness for Fanfette
She sacrifices her liberty to her honour Her resolution
Her marriage Her martyrdom Saintly Fanfette.
" BEFORE lying down, I could hardly resist a desire
to gaze into the sublimities of the heavens, where
among the many stars that sparkled, a young girl
always delights in seeking and discovering her own.
"The weather was extraordinarily hot, and the
heavens were glorious in spite of the darkness which
seemed to overshadow the earth. The more my eyes
were directed towards the lofty vault of heaven, the
more startlingly clear did it seem. I soon guessed
the secret of this phenomenon. The moon was about
to rise over the horizon, and the light was the
premonitory torch of her soft rays.
" Without thinking of it, I remained some time
THE DUC DE ROQUELAURE 245
absorbed and preoccupied with this beautiful sight.
But I could not help remarking that this sentiment
of admiration, whose effects I had already felt, was
not absolutely similar to that I was accustomed to
experience. It seemed to me that I was gradually
sinking into a sort of agreeable torpor, under the
influence of which everything seemed to be becoming
clouded with a vague and indefinable vapour, in
which my thoughts began to wander as if in an
" I looked around me for an explanation of this,
so to say, novel situation, which my soul and senses
experienced, and soon the thing explained itself. I
had retained, pinned in my bodice, some of the
flowers of the delicious bouquet which had been
so graciously sent me by the Baron de Lutz, and
without doubt their scent had gone to my head.
I removed the flowers with regret, because they
came from my well-beloved. I placed them upon
the commode. Then, having bolted my window
and said my prayers to God, I got into bed.
" Here, M. de Roquelaure," said Fanfette, with
a deep sigh, " I need all your indulgence ; make
allowance for me as you hear my story. That which
I am about to tell you I blush to narrate. But you
did me a great service long ago, and showed me
disinterested kindness ; you have, in a word, had
such a large share in preserving me from a cata-
strophe which, unfortunately, was only postponed,
246 , SECRET MEMOIRS OF
that I should consider myself ungrateful indeed if I
did not respond to a devotion the tender remembrance
of which has never left me, by a perfectly frank
and complete avowal of the truth."
" You cannot think," I replied, " how your story
interests me. Continue this confession, I beg, in
the same manner you have used up to now, which
bears the mark of irreproachable purity. Whatever
may be the avowals which you may yet have to
make, nothing can stain the innocence of your in-
tentions. Whatever you may have to tell me, your
language will purify it."
Fanfette thanked me with a glance and a gentle
grasp of her slender white hand. Then she continued :
" My first thoughts, as soon as I had got into
the bed, to which I seemed to be addressing a
young girl's farewell my first thoughts, I say, were
of the Baron de Lutz. Till now I had never really
appreciated the good qualities of his heart and the
charms of his mind. I loved him, as a girl of
seventeen does love, with a pure and sweet tender-
ness which arises from a sympathy which it is im-
possible to analyse, and which is altogether free
from any material preoccupation. Shall I confess
it ? As I was dropping off to sleep, I felt a sort
of secret fire run through my veins, a dull heaviness
of mysterious and vague prostration, which I could
not explain, weighed down my limbs, and every
moment became more terribly oppressive. I tried
THE DUG DE ROQUELAUKE 247
to struggle against it, but my courage failed me,
and iny physical strength, which seemed to be de-
creased little by little, now left me altogether, as did
my power of resistance, in a slow and irresistible trans-
formation which took entire possession of my body.
" Then there commenced for me, I will not say
a punishment, for that would be a lie, but one of
those incomprehensible trials to which nature subjects
us girls at some period of our lives. My heart beat
with inexpressible violence, my bosom swelled, I
began to sigh with incredible rapidity, and my
arms, thrust out by an unknown power, sought to
clutch their object with mad desire. A blinding
light dazzled my astonished eyes, and I felt myself
whirling through space and light. Angels bore me
on their transparent wings. But they were not the
angels of my childhood and youth, the cherubs
clothed in white robes, with foreheads bound with
golden crowns. No, these were luminous beings,
having both the human and the seraphic nature,
full of youth and strength, flinging upon me fragrant
flowers, and making with their fingers delicious
harmony upon the strings of enchanted harps.
" How am I to define this feeling which now
possessed me altogether ?
" I was afraid of the imposing spectacle, yet I
wished to enjoy it for ever.
" I cried out with fear, and flung myself into
the middle of the danger.
248 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" I was happy . . . and yet I suffered.
" Up to now, my part had been a passive one,
and my soul only appreciated this succession of
strange emotions by a sort of magical intuition.
" But, by degrees, everything grew light around
me, and objects became clear in my sight. One of
these luminous seraphs, whose look seemed to light
up everything around him, approached me, and mur-
mured in my ear sounds so melodious, that I remained
as though petrified with delight and pleasure. I tried
to look in his face, but the bright light which sur-
rounded me made me lower my eyelids.
"Then, I distinctly felt lips brush my forehead,
touch my cheeks, and press kisses to my lips; a daring
hand undid the neck-fastening of my white nightdress,
in such a way that in an instant my shoulders and
bosoms were delivered without defence to ardent and
convulsive embraces. Everything fell from me, and,
obeying, as does a slave, a superhuman will, I re-
turned the caresses given me, and shared a delirious
joy produced by I know not what hallucination,
mingled with fear and horror."
Fanfette had become red with blushes as she
told her tale ; she stopped to take breath and hid
her face for a moment between her hands. I, on my
side, felt considerable emotion.
Not wishing, without doubt, to give me time to
make any remark to which she might have found
it difficult to reply, she continued at once :
THE DUC DE KOgUELAURE 249
" 1 cannot precisely tell you how long this dream,
which I shall never forget till my dying day, went
on ; but it was about seven o'clock in the morning
when I shook off the heavy vapours of this strange
night, and sat up in the bed. My aunt was standing
in the middle of the room, leaning upon the back of
a chair, and looking at me with horrified eyes. The
poor woman had aged by twenty years ; her dishevelled
grey hair gave her countenance a sombre and sinister
" ' What is the matter, dear aunt, and why do
you look at me so strangely ? '
" ' Do you ask me why ? Unhappy girl ! '
" ' I do not understand you ! '
" ' Oh ! ' cried Madame du Hainault, with a double
expression of fear and disgust.
" ' My dear, dear aunt, I beg, in the name of
heaven, you will explain yourself.'
" ' You speak of heaven ? ' cried Madame du
Hainault ; ' can you call heaven as a witness to your
innocence ? ' . . .
" ' What a question ! '
" ' But can you ? Can you swear to me upon the
soul of your dead father that you have not yielded
your honour to a wretch ? ' . . .
" ' Oh, aunt, by my father's soul I swear it ! '
" ' So, then, no one has been here, last night, in
bed with you ? ' . . .
" ' No one, aunt . . . only I had a dream . .
oh ! ... a very strange dream.'
250 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Then I told her my dream.
" ' My poor child,' said Madame du Hainault to
me, after having listened to me attentively, ' your
dream was a reality ! '
" I gave a piercing scream.
" ' Just now,' continued Madame du Hainault, ' I
entered your room, as I do every morning, and I
found a man there, who looked at you with passion,
and who, on seeing me, leapt from the window.' . . .
" 'That man, oh! aunt, that man . . .'
" ' That man was the Count de Flegeres.'
" I fell back unconscious.
" I came to myself ; I was again alone with
Madame du Hainault, but I heard the voice of Baron
de Lutz, who desired to be admitted. Without
having exchanged a single word, my aunt and I
understood each other.
" ' My dear child,' she said to me, ' two lines of
conduct may be pursued with M. de Lutz : to deceive
him, and so become his wife ; or to tell him every-
thing, and so lose his love. Choose ! '
" ' I shall tell him everything,' I replied firmly.
" You could understand," said Fanfette, with a
sob, " what it would cost me to make such a con-
fession. That very evening the Baron de Lutz
quitted Reims never to return.
" All this time the moment fixed for my marriage
was drawing near. We were to have been married in
a private chapel belonging to an old gentleman, a
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURK 251
cousin of Madame du Hainault's, who had desired
that the ceremony should take place under his roof,
fancying that it might bring good fortune to the end
of his life. What was to be done ? Madame du
Hainault, by announcing the news to our aged rela-
tive, feared to cause his death. On the other hand,
to avow to the guests invited to the nuptial ceremony
the scandalous occurrence of which I had been the
victim, would have been to cover me with shame
" The hours flew rapidly on. By this time several
people had desired the favour of seeing her whom
they already called the bride, and my aunt was at
the end of her resources for getting rid of these
officious visitors, when it was announced that the
Count de Flegeres desired a moment's conversation.
" At the count's name my aunt and I looked at
each other in astonishment ; we did not know what
to do, nor even what we were doing. But when one
has already put one foot in the abyss, one grasps the
slenderest branch, one clings to the slightest hope.
" ' Bid him enter,' said, my aunt.
" The Count de Flegeres made his appearance ;
he was very much agitated, and his eyes appeared
even more wild than ordinarily. It is a strange
thing to say, but he appeared to me who had been
so violently outraged, to my aunt whose affection for
me had been so deeply wounded, as the messenger of
peace, as the personification of salvation.
252 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" ' What do you do here ? ' said Madame du
" He did not appear to hear her words.
" My aunt repeated her question.
" ' How do I know,' he answered at length. Then,
striking himself on the forehead, he cried excitedly :
' Yes . . . yes ... I know ... I ask for pardon
. . . and as I dare not ask it of God, I come where I
can ; I address myself to her who deigns to hear me,
and perhaps I may obtain pardon. For it is not I
who am the guiltiest, oh ! believe me. It is the
execrable Thierret who has done it all, he arranged
everything. Left to myself, in my despair I should
have killed myself; that would have ended it. He,
on the contrary, he, the infamous depository of an
infernal science, suggested to me the criminal idea of
obtaining by a stratagem what had been refused to
love. Thierret possessed the secret of deadening the
mental faculties, of causing blood in the veins to be
arrested, of stopping the beating of the heart. He
had composed once before certain lozenges, a single
one of which would cause insensibility. Yesterday
he prepared a bouquet, which caused an intense
lethargy to fall on whoever smelt it. What happened ?
... I cannot say exactly . . . for, I also, I wished
to intoxicate myself with one of these powerful per-
fumes, which solace suffering, destroy the memory.
Oh ! why do I still suffer my pain and my
remorse ? . . . I desired to forget. . . I desired
THE DUC DE ROQUELAURE 253
to die, and now I know that I have committed a
crime ... an abominable crime ... a disgraceful
crime ! . . . My God ! is there no means of
reparation ? . . .'
" ' There is one,' said rny aunt resolutely. ' You
can instantly marry my niece.'
" The blow was so terrible a one for me, that I
could not speak, I could only clasp my hands beseech-
ingly, imploring my aunt.
" ' The thing must be done,' said she to me, ' you
cannot hesitate to choose between this sacrifice and
" What more can I say? " continued the sobbing
Fanfette ; " I have not kept a lucid remembrance in
my mind of that dreadful evening, I only know there
was a crowd of people who smiled upon me, while I
felt ready to die, that my wedding dress was actually
put on without my knowledge, and that after an
interview with the most important witnesses to the
ceremony, to whom my aunt explained by a reason at
once simple and likely, the change in the person of
the bridegroom, my marriage was celebrated at mid-
night, just as had been originally arranged."
" Ah ! " cried I, interrupting, " you can no longer
call yourself Fanfette."
" That was my pet name."
" And you are ? . . ."
" The Countess de Flegeres."
" And we are now ? . , ."
254 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" In my own garden."
I remained silent for a moment, it all seemed so
impossible, so incredible, so supernatural.
"And he?" I asked, after a minute or two's
"Who? ... he ..."
" The wretch . . . the Count de Flegeres."
" He is there, behold him . . ."
I raised my eyes. A man was walking towards
us, down the magnificent avenue which faced us. I
was wrong to say a man. It was a living skeleton.
The skin of his face was, so to say, transparent, and
one might have said that the bones had pierced this
dry and insufficient envelope. Though about fifty
years of age, he appeared seventy ; his fleshless
fingers gripped a stick, with a sort of fearful energy;
without that stick he could not have walked. His
clothes were black, and in perfect keeping with the
rest of his personal appearance. To look at him, one
would have supposed that he had vowed himself to
an eternal mourning.
I was astonished at first to see Fanfette keep up a
calm and careless attitude, in spite of his approach,
but my astonishment was not of long duration.
He passed before us without seeming to see us,
his eyes fixed on space, and he never even slackened
" My God ! " said I to Fanfette when he had
passed by, " he is mad, then ? . . ."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAUKE 255
" Yes," she replied, " as he said himself one day,
in the only lucid interval that he ever had : ' Mad
with happiness . . . and with remorse.'"
" But now," cried I, more and more puzzled,
" does he know that he is your husband ? "
" He has forgotten it. He now quite believes
that I refused him my hand, and that I am the wife
of the Baron de Lutz. This form of his madness
commenced a year after our marriage. Watch him,"
continued she, pointing him out as he was crossing
the lawn in the distance, " observe him well. He
passes between his children without recognising them ;
for I became their mother, and he knows it not."
In saying these last words, tears fell from Fan-
fette's eyes, and she got up. I did the same.
The rest of the day passed in confidential talk in
which the beautiful soul of this charming woman was
revealed ; she who would have deserved a heaven
upon earth, and to whom fate had given nothing but
misfortune and regrets.
In leaving her that evening to set out on my
journey to Paris, I obtained the favour of being
allowed to place a brotherly kiss on her angelic
cheek, and I said to her :
" Adieu, madame, adieu ! henceforward there will
be on my calendar one more name, and when I have
any favour to ask of Heaven, below my breath, I shall
invoke Holy Fanfette."
256 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
History of the Danish doctor, John Kressmer His science, his
studies, his reputation The court and the town make much
of him His spirit of research and invention The dissecting-
table A blood-letting Mathias Grafft The resurrection of
Lazarus A private conversation between a generous doctor
and a grateful man who has been hanged.
ABOUT that time there was a great deal of talk of
a marvellous affair in Denmark, which caused a great
deal of noise in Paris for a whole fortnight, which is
a very long time indeed for France, that goodly
country where everybody is so terribly fond of the
unknown, the new, and the unexpected.
It was all about a savant, called Kressmer, who
was pursued with gold and presents on the pretext,
perhaps more specious than real, that he was causing
science to advance.
Here is the history of the brave doctor, just as I
heard it told at an evening entertainment at the house
of the Grand Huntsman at Versailles :
Doctor John Kressmer had a great reputation, and
the different faculties of Europe, who would have
cried " Quack " if they had dared, were silent, and
made the best of a bad bargain, while observing the
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 257
numberless favours with which princes, renowned for
their wisdom and power, delighted in remunerating his
labours, the value of which, it may as well be stated,
they did not appreciate so highly. Professional
jealousy, it may be said ; so be it. Every day
Kressmer saw the number of his supporters increase,
and he was received at court as the hero of modern
science, listened to as an oracle, surrounded, in one
word, with those thousand and one triumphs, fit to
still more inflame the zeal of a wise man, by appealing
to his pride, which is his weak point.
Kressmer had already invented many things, each
more beautiful than the last. He cured influenza by
means of footbaths ; he fought against rheumatism
by causing violent perspirations ; and he purified the
blood of his patients by giving them potions to which
he had given high-sounding names, but in which, as
everybody supposed, there were large quantities of
marsh-mallow, lime-blossom, and couch-grass.
The trumpet-blast of triumph resounded ever in
his ears, and to the sounds of this charming music
he led the quietest life it is possible to imagine.
Impelled by the all-powerful current of public
approbation, the medical faculty of Copenhagen at
length decided to recognise the transcendent merit
of the celebrated John Kressmer by deciding that
every unclaimed dead body should be adjudged to
him for observation and study. Kressmer found
himself, as a result of this decision, very frequently
VOL. HI 17
258 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
alone with some of the greatest rescals in the king-
dom. This prospect, which would have been sad
enough to most people, seemed to him most delight-
ful, because these chosen ones allowed him to give
himself up to innumerable investigations upon the
secret of the human machine, and assuredly there
is this advantage in death, that it causes antecedents
to be blotted out ; and as the last hour strikes, the
past disappears the sharper, the sponger, and the
loafer, once dead, are exactly in the same position
as the carefully and splendidly embalmed king or
Kressmer took full advantage of his opportunities,
both as a man of science and as an anatomist. He
saw immediately that such opportunities would cause
public attention to be still more drawn to him, and
he determined to open in his rooms a theatre of com-
parative anatomy, where he would lecture, and thanks
to which he could descend from his lofty pedestal of
official scientist, in order to place his knowledge at
the service of fashionable people, and initiate some
of them into those secrets which can be told, without
compromising the dignity of the teacher, to men who
are anxious to obtain instruction, and even to ladies
who wished to escape from the eternal round of their
household occupations to study the interesting mys-
teries of dead nature and of the decomposition of
matter. It must be well understood that the ladies
were not to be admitted to the actual experiments
THE DUC DE ROOUELAURE >$(.)
of the doctor in his amphitheatre, and that he merely
intended to teach them a science which could only
he attractive to them when cleverly disguised, and
which would have been impossible to show them
without some sort of precaution.
Everything succeeded perfectly.
Subjects for dissection abounded, and his labours
were most fruitful in their results. The course of
lectures commenced after a very short delay, and
their success exceeded expectation.
Kressmer was regarded as the providence of
Copenhagen. Money and honours were showered
upon him ; but he suffered from a sort of continual
fever, which was caused, without doubt, by such
a succession of successes. Poor doctor ! with all
his science, it would have been very disagreeable
for him to have fallen ill of happiness and to have
died from excess of prosperity. It was nothing ; he
was robust and strong. He resisted ; Fortune had
not yet tired of favouring him ; she was determined
to overload him with benefits. . . .
One day there was a wholesale execution at Copen-
hagen of certain rascals, who had on their consciences,
one man a modest theft, another a little murder in
fact, a qualification for being hanged.
They had paid the forfeit. The newly-painted
gallows had worked beautifully ; the running knot
had slipped successfully ; and the three or four
criminals, for whom so much expense had been gone
260 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
to for cord and carpentry, had grinned in the air,
to the great delight of the crowd and amid the
applause of those present.
The law was satisfied. . . . The illustrious
Kressmer, to whom belonged by right the mortal
remains of these odious rascals, had to be satisfied
They were all brought to the dissecting-room,
and then, according to custom, whenever John
Kressmer intended serious study, they left the
doctor alone in the midst of this interesting com-
The eyes of the savant were first attracted by one
of the hanged, who was better-looking than the rest
of his comrades. He was well-made, muscular, with
a handsome face, whose expression had not put on
the ugly grimace of the death struggle ; he looked
really tempting, and it was upon him that Kressmer
resolved to commence operations.
" S'blood," said he, contemplating the magnificent
being who had become his property, " he is a singu-
larly well-preserved rascal. His flesh-tones have an
admirable transparency, and one could almost fancy
one sees the blood running through those cold veins. . . .
It makes me almost want to be hanged myself. Oh,
oh ! " continued he, examining the ear of the dead
man, " how is it that this vein seems swollen, as it
would be in life? Let me make an incision. . . . "We
shall see what will happen."
THE DUC DE ROQUELAURE . 26l
He took his lancet and prepared to use it, mut-
tering, " If I divide the artery, it will not very much
matter, I think. . . . The hanged man does not often
complain. . . . There ... it is done. . . . Nothing
. . . not a drop of blood ! ... By our Lady ! but
there ought to be ; I don't know why I could have
thought . . ."
Doctor Kressmer remained some time motionless,
as though he were thinking of something else. At
length, shaking off his reverie, he prepared to set to
" Now, then . . . what shall I do with this hand-
some corpse, and on what part of this body shall
the celebrated John Kressmer apply his mind's eye,
in order to report to the learned Academy of Copen-
hagen ? . . . Ah ! of course . . . have I not promised
to give them my ideas on the material nature, and
on the psychological distribution of the human heart ?
That's it ... I will go to work at once upon the
heart of this hardened rascal. . . . Let us hope that
he has a heart exactly like the rest of mankind. Oh !
yes ... I need not trouble about that. God has
cast us all in the same mould, only some of us have
not come out quite so well as others ; it is that that
causes the differences there are. . . . Satisfied with
this reasoning, which has been given just as it came
forth from the mind and mouth of John Kressmer, the
doctor looked about him, searching for the instruments
which were necessary in the dissecting-room. Not
finding them, he slapped his forehead, saying :
262 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Of course, I left them yesterday in my instru-
ment-case ; I will go and look for them." He departed.
Then a strange phenomenon took place. A rapid
shudder caused the skin of the executed man to
wrinkle, a kind of spasm seemed to run along his
limbs, and a jet of blood suddenly spurted on to his
shoulder. The effect of the lancet puncture was at
length produced, and, contrary to every probability,
this bleeding in extremis had succeeded.
The man who had been hanged raised his two
arms as a man does when yawning, and gave a long
groan. He breathed with delight. Soon his eyes
opened ; he rose and sat up on the great table, which
somewhat resembled a butcher's block, and on which
there were red stains soaked into the cracks of the
wood, marking the passage of the unhappy beings
who had bequeathed to the venerable doctor as a
souvenir some few drops of their blood, some a portion
of their bones.
" B-r-r-r-r . . ." said the trembling man, his teeth
rattling the while in a feverish fit. ...
Then he stared around him in astonishment ; he
seemed to search in the most secret corners of his
memory, in order to collect his last thoughts. Then,
all of a sudden, as though he had got a luminous
idea, he struck his forehead and cried :
" By all the devils in hell, I have come to life
again ! "
At these words he rose, danced gaily round the
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 263
dissecting - table, and stopped, his feet in the first
position, simulating cleverly enough the pose of an
The man who had been hanged was a careful
person ; he was also a being full of decency and pro-
priety. He remembered that alone, abandoned as he
was, he had need of resources, and finally, he was
not in a costume fit to knock at any honest door.
Thereupon, perceiving a handsome dressing-gown
and watch, to which was attached a gold chain, very
artistically carved, hanging on a nail, he took posses-
sion of both without ceremony, calculating with the
one to hide the shortcomings of his toilet, and with
the second to provide himself with necessaries of life.
In this costume he attempted to make off,
probably from habit, perhaps because the hanging
had rather stupefied him. He turned first towards
one of the windows. But soon, thinking that the
climb might be compromising, he turned calmly
towards the door, determined to surmount every
obstacle to escape from the house. The ungrateful
rascal had forgotten that an unknown saviour had
brought him back to life.
He was going out ; his finger already pressed the
latch of the door, when John Kressmer, who was
returning with his box of instruments, flung it to
from the other side.
In this way the doctor and the man who had
been hanged met face to face ; the man who had
264 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
been hanged seemed considerably embarrassed, while
the doctor appeared thoroughly frightened. A con-
versation soon commenced. After the first moment
of surprise it grew louder.
" Where the devil are you going to, rascal ? "
" I am about to take a walk."
" In my dressing-gown ? "
"It is not the custom to walk about in Copen-
" But my watch ? "
" Well, I've got to know the time. . . ."
Kressmer understood from this rapid interchange
of question and answer that he had not got to do
with a fool, and that the rascal was very ready with
his replies. An indescribable sentiment of curiosity
took possession of him, and the thought prevented
his giving up the rascal who had played him the
trick to be carried off to prison.
This was his reflection.
From time immemorial people had busied them-
selves concerning death by strangulation, and about
the time when Kressmer lived there were already
many divergent opinions on the subject. Until then
the matter had been argued in the schools, but no
one arrived at a satisfactory conclusion. Besides,
amidst all these arguments, so frequently stained with
bitterness and passion, each man had proclaimed his
system the right one, the only acceptable one ; while
discussion, which good people have compared to a
torch, had not illuminated the matter.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 265
"I have the truth in my hand," thought Kressmer,
illuminated by one of those divine rays by which the
great secrets of nature are revealed. " Here is one
of those fearful scoundrels who can make the tiny
stream of my fortune, which sparkles here and there
with silver spangles, a real river in which roll waves
of gold ! "
And, dominated by this thought, he graciously
approached the robber with a smile upon his lips.
" My friend, will you do something for me ? "
" Anything, oh ! master, if you will swear to save
my hide from those hungry vultures of the Criminal
Court, who pay me such unpleasant attentions."
" Your hide ! " cried Kressmer, with peculiar
unction, " your hide ! . . . that will be my dearest
article of property, and I swear to you, if you will
only behave properly, to treat you like my own child.
Your name ? "
" They called me Mathias Grafft before I died.
I am ready now to call myself anything you like."
" Yes, it is true, we must think about that. To
begin, let me offer you a chair, and let us talk."
The resuscitated man sat himself down quite coolly,
and the doctor began :
44 There . . . are you quite comfortable ? . . . You
are neither too warm nor too cold ? That's all right.
Now listen and answer."
" I am all ears."
44 You remember the moment that preceded your
execution ? "
266 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Perfectly. I was in a state of mortal fear before
I put my head ' through the window.' "
" The deuce ! That's a very great pity ... for
your recollections . . ."
" Will be quite lucid ... do not be disquieted,
my dear master . . . pray continue."
" What ! " cried Kressmer, transported with joy ;
" you can tell me in its most minute details . . ."
" The history of my hanging ? Doubtless I can,
and I would not on any account be deprived of the
pleasure . . ."
" The pleasure, you say ? "
" An unequalled joy," cried the bandit. " Only
fancy, master, that at the moment that they came to
take me from my prison to lead me to the place of exe-
cution, I was dreaming of a magnificent enterprise,
which ought to, in a few days, if it succeeded, place
me and the whole of my life above the base necessities
of the world. I was in bed, I slept, I was still thinking
of my happiness. . . . What an awakening 1 My
jailer had one of those atrocious faces which that sort
of person has ... he looked fitted for leading people
to the gallows. I hardly listened to him, for I knew
from his appearance that the song he was singing to
me was 'a de profundis, and that it was all up with
me. ... I put on my ragged clothes, and after having
ascended the stone staircase of my accursed dungeon,
I saw once more the light of day, which was soon
about to disappear for ever from my eyes. I came
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURK 267
forth, though, from the prison with an upright figure,
I was not cast down ; for, at the supreme moment,
we are all comedians, and we love to get a round of
applause when the curtain is about to fall on the last
scene of the drama. I heard murmurs on every side
as I passed. Some hurled curses at me, others pitied
me ; there were some among the crowd who smiled on
me, the greedy and cruel smile. These were the
curious, for whom the gallows is a show, who study
the contortions of the man who is condemned to die
as they would examine the gambols and tricks of a
diver. Four gibbets had been prepared since day-
break ... to their summits they attached three of
my comrades, who had been condemned when I was,
whence it resulted, that before performing myself, I
could gratify myself at my ease with the saddening
appearance of the performance I was about to under-
take, as soon as it should be my turn. My turn did
come, as a matter of fact more quickly even than
I should have desired, and I had the satisfaction of
hearing a loud shout rising from the bosom of the
attentive crowd. Evidently I was about to attain
an enthusiastic success. I was certain of that. . . .
The executioner, who had strong wrists, seized me
by the shoulders, and lightly and adroitly he caused
me to twirl, so that shouts of laughter rang out at
once from every direction. I ground my teeth with
rage ; but I had to be resigned, and in less than a
minute, I felt my neck caught in the noose and my
268 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
feet dancing in the air. I was floating in space. . . .
Bravos commenced once more to be roared by the
delighted mob . . ."
" Could you still hear them ? " interrupted Kress-
mer, who was attentively listening to every word.
" Like a distant noise," cried he who had been
hanged. " Like a dying echo. . . . Nevertheless,
that same surprise which caused you to interrupt
me, dear doctor, seized me at that moment that
I was not yet quite dead, and, by a strange activity
of sensibility which I had never experienced before,
I was able to submit my present state to a careful
analysis. . . . That astonishes you . . . but it is
exactly as I tell you, nevertheless. I knew at once
that I was not dead, that was a physical defect caused
by the strength of my nature, or by some mistake of
the hangman. I concluded to accept the latter theory,
because I had noticed that my three comrades had the
rope tightly round their necks, like a ring upon a
ringer, while I felt that my running knot had caught
upon my jaw, and had so slipped almost to the crown
of my occiput. I was only half-strangled, and I still
" But you suffered horribly, I suppose ? " said
Kressmer, with redoubled interest.
"That's just where you deceive yourself," said the
man who was telling his story. " As soon as I got
used to my original position, and my head got fixed,
I entered into a sort of fairy-like existence of which it
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 269
would be impossible to give you a real idea. I floated
in the air, and I seemed to inhale a perfumed atmo-
sphere, in the midst of which I was borne upon
invisible wings. Although I was suffering from a
certain amount of pain, I seemed to be inspiring de-
licious exhalations of unknown perfumes. Every
nerve, every muscle stretched itself with a delightful
dilatation. ... I was as strong as a lion, as light as
a bird. ... I saw beautiful scenery, immense rocks,
thundering and deep waterfalls, over which I floated
as an eagle of the forests. ... I was no longer a
man, I was a god. . . ."
" And when they took you down from the
gibbet ? "
" Then there was a change of scene," answered
the man who had been hanged, sadly. " I saw
nothing more, I heard nothing more ... I was but
a corpse, fit for fattening the crows, but which it was
considered more sensible to send to you as a subject
for dissection to be experimented upon. It is, doubt-
less, thanks to you that I am on my legs again. For
pity's sake, doctor, don't deprive yourself of the
honour of so wonderful a cure by giving me back to
the hangman a second time. He would be capable of
taking his revenge by hanging me better the second
time than he did the first. . . ."
" Do not be uneasy," said Kressmer, who was re-
flecting very seriously.
The man who had been resuscitated awaited the
doctor's decision with respectful but anxious silence.
270 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
At length the latter woke from his reverie and
cried with transport :
" My friend, I will make your fortune ! "
" That is a thing I cannot refuse."
" You will be called Lazarus . . . the name fits
"It is a good name for a man who has been
resuscitated. . . . Master, I accept the name of
Lazarus ! "
" And I attach you to my person . . . you will
be boarded and lodged."
" Very good . . . very good . . ." interrupted
the new Lazarus. You have done me such a good
turn that I can trust you thoroughly, and I agree to
everything in advance. But what do you want me
to do ? "
" That you will know in good time."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 271
Continuation and end of the history of the Danish doctor, John
Kressmer Whither the passion for science may lead us
Death of John Kressmer Mathias Grafft, Baron de Carniol.
THE police were suspicious at Copenhagen. Dr.
Kressmer had not thought fit to give publicity to the
strange thing that had occurred at his house, for the
same fear that Lazarus had expressed, relative to
the hangman, who, like Acheron, does not easily
abandon his prey ; the same fear had closed the
doctor's mouth and caused him to invent a lie, which
after all was a very innocent one. He pretended that
a certain savant, a friend of his, who lived at Buda in
Hungary, had sent him, on account of the rarity of
his case, one of the patients from his own hospital,
in order that he might treat him for an affection whose
nature he himself had been unable to understand.
Thanks to this assertion, which nobody thought of
disputing, Lazarus remained shut up more than a
month in a room where Kressmer alone was ac-
customed to enter, and there, having allowed his
beard and hair to grow, he had become quite un-
This month had been put to good use ; for I, who
272 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
tell the story, knew what everybody in Copenhagen
was ignorant of, that many experiments had taken
place on the pupil by his master, with which they
were both perfectly satisfied. Lazarus, whose con-
fidence in his master was without bounds, had allowed
himself to be hanged several times, and at each of these
experiments he had again felt the same delightful
symptoms which have been detailed above. Every
time the doctor had cut him down in time ; hence it
resulted that this trifling exercise, which never lasted
more than five or six minutes, never prevented the
subject from eating, drinking and laughing as though
he had been a man of fortune.
Kressmer had made immense and incredible pro-
gress in performing these experiments. He had
succeeded, by means of a well-padded support and
sort of elastic lever on which the top of the head
rested, in obtaining the delightful effects which
Lazarus had described, and even in getting rid of
the sort of momentary annoyance caused by an un-
accustomed position, which would occasion cramp in
a delicate person. His new whim took up his entire
time, and he soon began to neglect his royal patients
in order to thoroughly study, what was so very
interesting from more than one point of view, the
real effects of strangulation upon man. . . . Who
would have believed it ? The purity of his zeal had
not so much success at Copenhagen as he could have
desired. People began to complain of the doctor's
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 273
frequent absences, and a certain bigoted faction, which
at that time dominated the court, declared that there
was sorcery in the matter.
John Kressmer was obliged to fly his country. . . .
But his exile, instead of being the cause of his ruin,
was the signal for still more startling triumphs.
As can be guessed, Kressmer took poor Lazarus
with him ; the man had become his assistant, and well-
nigh his friend. This last title, although it may seem
at first sight exaggerated, was justified by his blind
submission and boundless devotion.
It was a voyage of triumph, a perpetual shower
of gold. Germany, Holland and France received
Kressmer as a brilliant innovator, who could open
unknown paths to science, and notwithstanding
the secret persecutions of the Jesuits and other
scrupulous guardians of the faith, who would not
accept as possible and true anything but the
resurrection of their Divine Master, our fortunate
doctor had not to complain of a single mortification
or serious obstacle.
Borne on the wings of success, he at last reached
England. England was the country of men really
anxious for instruction, and eminently thirsting for
knowledge. The doctor's arrival there was an im-
portant public event. He was well received by the
learned, spoilt by those in power ; John Kressmer
could well believe that he found the most suitable
place to pitch his tent, where he would be secure
VOL. in 18
274 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
from evil-speaking and envy. In London there hap-
pened what had happened nowhere else. The
curious were not satisfied with being present at his
experiments. Several Englishmen, who wished to
know and penetrate everything in personal experi-
ences, desired that Lazarus should yield his place,
and that they should try the running knot them-
selves. Everything went well, resurrections were
numerous, hymns of praise resounded in the doctor's
sanctuary, and there came a time when he did not
know how to satisfy everybody. In this state of things,
the amount of his wealth became day by day more
gigantic. Then came a thought, an annoying and
sad thought ; he said to himself, this man with no
children and no relatives : " After me, what will
become of the fortune I have so laboriously amassed ? "
That was certainly a matter for reflection. He
took a whole week to consider this strangest and
most contradictory of projects.
He first thought of leaving his entire wealth to
the man who, more expert than himself, in place of
giving life to a badly hanged man, should find the
means of resuscitating the dead. The thing, after
what he had done himself, no longer appeared im-
He thought of endowing academies, of founding
decennial prizes and giving scholarships.
His self-love was for an instant flattered by the
idea of making some earthly king his universal
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 2/5
legatee, conditionally on his agreeing to protect really
But all of a sudden, struck by a bright idea, he
recognised that he was seeking afar what he had at
hand, and his good sense made him recognise that it
was much more logical, and much more natural, to
bequeath his fortune to the man who had enabled
him to gain it.
One day, then, he summoned Lazarus and told
him of his intentions. The poor young fellow, who
had amended his life and who no longer retained any
of those little natural infirmities which had caused
justice to pursue him, was deeply moved, and burst
into tears. He did not deserve, he said, such great
good fortune. To which Dr. Kressmer, whom phi-
losophy and medicine had rendered a little mad,
answered with the greatest solemnity :
" There is no such thing as chance on the earth ;
Providence decided that we should be the two
instruments of the most wonderful discovery ever
made by human mind. What I give you I really owe
you, for one of us could not exist without the other,
and we are each the complement of the other."
Though one might charge Kressmer with falling
into a ridiculous excess of feebleness as to his co-
operator Lazarus, yet, strange to say, he had never
reason to repent having given him this proof of affec-
tion. The devotion of Lazarus increased with the
esteem in which he was held by the doctor.
276 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
These things having taken place, they set forth
upon a new trip. This time they started for Russia.
Behold them on the road. . . . Bon voyage !
Savants are like sick people; they are subject to
fever. That of Dr. Kressmer soon became inquiet-
ing. After having hanged Englishmen, who desired
it, he took into his head to hang Russians, who
strongly objected ; then, when he could not obtain
men dogs, cats, and even birds. . . . Then he took
it into his head to hang himself.
After all, what was more just ? The least he
could do, after having procured so many exquisite
delights for others, was at last to consider himself.
He communicated his intention to Lazarus.
" It is a sublime idea ! " cried Lazarus. " After
the operation, you will be able to speak yet more
learnedly upon the subject, and you will have the
merit of having experimented on yourself, which
always inspires more confidence. ..."
" But you understand," said the doctor, " five or
six minutes, no more."
" Be at ease, my dear master, I have seen you
operate so often that I am sure of myself. I am
quite at your orders."
The preparations did not take long. The doctor
having once taken the idea into his head, gave those
by whom he was surrounded no peace. He turned
out the curious and shut himself up with Lazarus,
being impatient to enjoy himself at last in practising
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 277
those ineffable delights which till now he had only
tasted in theory. . . .
The experiment commenced.
Lazarus, when he saw his master hanging from
the gallows, felt a thrill of joy. This good servant
was doubtless thinking of the numerous pleasures of
all sorts which the excellent doctor was about to
" Keep quite still, sir," repeated he for the last
time, seing that Kressmer made him a sign ; " you
shall be thoroughly satisfied with me."
Lazarus never took his eyes off Dr. Kressmer.
All the expected symptoms were produced one
after the other, in perfect order, and with marvel-
lous regularity. A few broken sighs indicated that
the subject was artificially proceeding from life to
death. It only now remained to follow certain mys-
terious and indispensable practices that Kressmer
had thousands of times demonstrated to Lazarus, in
order to combat the effects of a too prolonged sus-
pension. It was equally urgent, in order to complete
the operation, to blow in the nostrils of the doctor a
certain quantity of rarefied air, and to tickle the palms
of his hands from time to time.
Can it be believed ? Lazarus, absorbed in silent
contemplation, forgot these portions of the experi-
ment. The doctor seemed so happy, and the good
servant had so often enjoyed the delights of these
admirable ecstasies, that he gazed upon his master
2/8 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
with the pleasure of which there was no outward
sign, but which was doubtless concentrated in his
Nevertheless, the seconds and the minutes flew by.
Had Lazarus lost his head ?
That is a question very difficult to decide. All
that can be said is, for the sake of clearness and the
edification of the reader, that at about the end of
an hour, having prudently assured himself that the
doctor had taken such a considerable dose of pleasure
that he would not want to begin over again, he
searched every part of the house and filled his
pockets, till they would hold no more, with valu-
ables, and that then he forced the writing-table, and
therein he found the deed of gift which has been
spoken of above.
Then, having wiped away a tear which had been
wrung from him by the sad spectacle of the deceased,
whom by this time he had carefully placed on his
bed, he started off to find a notary who should put
things in order and secure for him legal possession of
We must do justice to Lazarus: the funeral of
the celebrated Dr. Kressmer was very magnificent
indeed. As he paid for these obsequies, it would be
unfair not to notice his disinterested conduct.
There was a good deal of talk over Dr. John
Kressmer's grave, where the crowd spoke its mind
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 279
The learned said :
" Here is sufficient proof that his system was
egregious folly. . . . He was the victim of his own
presumption and pride. The man who lies there
" Take care," said the people who blindly be-
lieved in him ; " take care, he may come back to
life yet. ..."
" He was losing money," said some of those who
know everything and are nearly always deceived.
" He had lost his practice, so he committed suicide."
Lazarus alone, like a wise man, listened to all
this, but said nothing. He alone, notwithstanding
these numerous different opinions, kept his to him-
self. . . . He profited by the noise of the chatterers
to quietly make his escape. . . .
A year afterwards, a man, who bought a seigneural
estate in the mountains of Styria, to which was at-
tached the right of bearing its name as a title of
nobility, made himself remarkable by his charities
and his exact fulfilment of all the duties of religion.
They called that man the Baron of Carniol . . .
but (it may be told in confidence to you, dear reader)
he was Mathias Grafft, or, to speak more correctly,
Lazarus, the man who had been hanged.
280 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Behind the convent of the Minimes A woman watches and
follows me Her singular manoeuvres She accosts me
She discloses her object The very original manner of
Mademoiselle Marinette Her interrogatory Am I fond of
dark women ? Do I like fair ones ? A strange initiation
I make no resistance The coach Marinette bandages my
eyes The agreement between Marinette and myself -
Whither am I going ? My entrance into the house which
I ought not to see A fairy palace The mysterious beauty
A tete-a-tete such as I have never had before The in-
describable beauty of the unknown A happiness that I had
not expected I wonder at my great good fortune I enjoy
my happiness as if I had really deserved it Strange advice
I swear to be discreet The dream vanishes Marinette
once more The eight hundred pistoles We shall meet
ONE evening, as I was walking behind the convent
of the Minimes, in the Place Royale, a most unex-
pected adventure happened to me. It was the drollest,
the most incredible in the world. The reader shall
judge if I exaggerate.
It was almost night. The last rays of day gave
me sufficient light to distinguish surrounding objects ;
and I noticed that I was followed, watched, or perhaps
it would be more correct to say dogged, by a young
woman, who was alert, lively, and affable. Ever and
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 281
anon she would look up into my face, and then she
would drop modestly behind, as if to examine my
appearance, to study my walk, to make certain if
I were a nobleman or a mere ruffler.
On whose account was she making this inspection ?
Had I, by any possibility, an unfortunate resem-
blance to some one else, which might cause me, the
most tranquil and inoffensive of men, to be taken
for a conspirator ?
Did my features displease this delicious little
Was there anything ridiculous about my dress ?
Was it love that made this delicious little prome-
nader so excessively lively ?
All these questions gave me sufficient mental
occupation, and, as may be fancied, I did not find a
satisfactory answer to one of them.
The persistence of the woman did not lessen in
I walked, she walked.
I stopped, she stopped.
I was proceeding that evening to the neighbour-
hood of the Palais- Royal, and I had not taken a
sedan-chair, in order to attract attention less and to
preserve my incognito.
From the Minimes to the Palais-Royal the young
woman followed me without the slightest hesitation.
Pier course of action threatened to result in
nothing, because the house to which I was going
282 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
was situated in the Rue Saint-Honore, close to the
Croix du Trahoir, and I was just about to enter when
my persevering young companion, making up her
mind at length, said to me in a low voice :
." Sir, or rather monseigneur, for I believe I know
who you are, have you leisure to listen to a few
words ? "
" That depends on the nature of your few words,"
said I, turning to her.
" Oh, there is nothing disagreeable about them, I
swear to you, monseigneur, and I will bet you in ad-
vance a hundred good French pistoles against a
German thaler that you will not be sorry when you
have heard them."
" Well, I am all attention."
" Oh, I beg pardon ! " said the girl who had ac-
costed me, throwing a cautious glance around, "there
are people who might be listening, and what I have
to say to you is for your private ear alone."
This preamble puzzled me considerably.
" If you like," said she, " we will go along the
quay-side, under the wall of the Louvre. A few
minutes more and night will have fallen ; the dark-
ness will protect us."
" Ah, bah ! my dear girl," I replied laughingly,
" you make a great fuss about your few words, and I
begin to think that your few words will multiply
themselves ad infinitum. Be frank, you want to talk
seriously with me ? "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 283
" Well, to be frank, yes," she replied ; " also the
affair is a serious one, and I have a good many ques-
tions to ask you. ' A few words ' was my way of
" Without doubt a few words would be sufficient
for any woman. So be it ; let us go. Let us walk
towards the quay, my dear. . . . What is your
name ? "
" Marinette, at your service."
" Very good. As soon as we reach the quay we
can chat at our ease."
We walked along the enclosure, Marinette and I,
towards the Quai du Louvre.
As we had hoped, it had grown completely dark
when we arrived.
I stopped about the middle of the quay and said
to Marinette :
" The sky is black enough now, there is no one in
sight, and it is hardly likely that we shall be betrayed
by an indiscreet echo ; say what you have to say, my
Marinette, who it was easy to see was a waiting-
maid in a good family, looked round her suspiciously,
and wiping her face with her handkerchief to give
herself courage, said :
" Monsieur, you really are the Due de Roquelaure,
are you not ? "
" Unless I was changed at nurse, I am the man."
" There are so many Koquelaures."
284 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Yes, but there is but one duke."
" And it is you who are the duke ? "
" There isn't the slightest doubt of it."
" Are the tales they tell about your principles in
love true ? "
" Well, that depends on what they say."
" They say . . ." said Marinette, with hesitation.
" Oh, don't be afraid, go on, go on ! "
" You won't take offence, duke ? "
" Not I ! Say what you have got to say."
" Well, duke, they say that in matters of love
you are the most accommodating and least scru-
pulous man in France. You are looked upon as
one of those fervent worshippers of Venus who
adore all women, and whose homage, ever ready,
ever new, is willingly rendered to whoever is young,
witty, and handsome. That, duke, is your portrait.
Is it like you ? "
" Yes, only I think it is a little flattered. But
what do you want to arrive at ? Are you giving me
a lesson in morality, or are you paying me a com-
pliment ? "
" Oh, I am merely asking for information, duke."
"And why do you ask for information ? "
" You shall know anon."
Marinette now grew bold enough to clutch my
arm, and then leaning forward, whispered confiden-
tially into my ear :
" Duke, do you like dark women ? "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 285
" Do I like them ! Yes, for they are what I
understand best in the world . . . dark women, dear
Marinette, are to my mind the truly, the only lovable
women in the world. Fair women have their value ;
more than once in my life I have proved in the most
convincing manner that they have the right to honest
people's esteem ; dark women are superior to them,
as the angels of Paradise are to the fallen ones.
You see a dark woman pass in the street . . . she
gives you one look . . . how many things there are
in that simple look ! How many promises there are
in that beautiful black hair, which presages un-
utterable things! And that hard and firm flesh on
which a kiss sounds so well! Dark women, Mari-
nette, are the queens of creation."
" I am charmed to find you so favourably dis-
posed, duke ; nothing could have happened better.
You say that you like dark women ; that is most
important. Do you like them when they are twenty
years of age ? "
" Twenty years of age ! Marinette. Do you want
to drive me mad with your ridiculous questions ? "
" Perhaps you think that twenty is too old ? "
" I think . . . that it is very naughty of you, a
person whom I do not know, to amuse yourself at my
" Oh! duke, can you think . . ."
" No, certes, I don't think . . . and it is just
because I don't think, that I fancy you are trying to
make a fool of me."
286 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" There is nothing of that sort about me, I swear ;
and if you will only have patience and wait for the
end, I am sure you will do me justice."
"Very good ... I will have patience, I will wait
for the end."
" Duke, will you allow me one more question ? "
"Is this sort of thing going on very long ? "
" No, it is my last. Are you discreet ? "
" Yes . . . when my honour is trusted."
"Your answer is quite satisfactory," said Mari-
nette, "and now will you be good enough to follow
" Whereto? "
" That is the one thing I am forced to conceal."
" But I have eyes."
" No, you have not ; for if you consent to be
guided by me, we shall get into a coach, which
awaits us at the Croix du Trahoir, and I shall
bandage your eyes."
" Ah, ha ! This is getting rather mysterious."
" Does the mystery frighten you ?"
" Zounds, no!"
" Well then, shall we start ? "
" I follow you! "
Marinette started at a brisk walk, and I regulated
my pace by hers. No sooner had we arrived at the
Rue de 1'Arbre-Sec, than I saw her make a sign to a
coachman, who slept, or rather pretended to sleep,
upon his box ; for he immediately jumped down to
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 287
open the door for us. We got in; I took the back
seat, and my little companion sat opposite me.
We rode along silently. It was not very difficult
for me to see that I was being driven back along the
Rue Saint-Antoine. We soon reach the Minimes.
Then Marinette offered me a large handkerchief,
and begged me to bandage my eyes with it.
It had been one of our conditions, one of the
articles of our treaty ; I could not refuse to submit
to it. Therefore, without further to-do, I got ready
to play my rolt, with the best grace in the world, in
this mysterious game of blind man's buff. The
pretty little maid was good enough to help me to
knot the handkerchief. I begged her not to tie it too
tightly ; being a well brought-up girl, she attended
to my wishes.
" You can see nothing ? " she said.
" Absolutely nothing."
" Raise your head a little, please duke."
" What for ? "
"In order to make quite sure that you may not,
by means of peeping, see what it is desired to hide
" My eyes, dear Marinette, would not commit
such a felony ; in sooth, you misjudge them. For
if by chance, a very unlikely chance, the bandage
were to fall, be you quite sure those very eyes, whose
discretion you suspect, would immediatly close, with-
out being ordered to do so."
288 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" I believe what you say, duke, because I have every
confidence in you, and we must trust your discretion."
"You should have thought of that before,
" Excuse me, duke."
Five minutes passed thus. It seemed to me that
the horses did not go so quickly, and that we were
entering one of those streets in the Marais which are
so narrow and tortuous that the houses seem about
to fall upon each other ; this idea came to my mind
from hearing the coachman continually warning the
foot-passengers. Immediately afterwards we drove
on at the ordinary pace, which made me guess that
we were in a larger street.
" Shall we be soon there ? " I asked.
" In a moment, your grace."
" You see, Marinette, when one's eyes are band-
aged time seems very long."
" You will be recompensed, your grace, by the
marvels you will be permitted to gaze upon in a
" Marinette, you pique my curiosity, you exalt
my imagination, you inflame my heart ! Tell me,
will what I am going to see give me such great
pleasure ? "
" Assuredly, unless you have exceedingly bad
" And to whom shall I owe this great happiness ? "
" Somewhat to chance, a little to me."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 289
" To thee ? "
" To me."
" Well, Marinette, if it is all true, and if you are
not making a fool of me, as I cannot recompense
the services of Chance, who is an impalpable being,
it is naturally you who must profit by generosity.
From this moment I wish to pay something on
account of my debt towards you. Take it ; this purse
contains a lot of crowns. But whatever the sum it
may contain, I promise you three times as much if I
am satisfied with the entertainment. It will be your
place then to let me know the amount of my debt to
you. You understand, three times as much ! "
" Perfectly, duke, perfectly ! "
And then Mademoiselle Marinette weighed with
nimble fingers the purse which had just passed from
my hands into hers.
On a sudden the carriage stopped.
The coachman got down. He opened the door
and quickly lowered the steps.
" Be good enough, duke," said Marinette to me,
" to stand perfectly still for an instant ; I am going
to pay this good fellow."
She did as she had said. From the exclamation
of pleasure which the charioteer had uttered, I could
easily guess that he had been well paid for his trouble.
He clambered up on his box and drove off at a
gallop. When the noise of the wheels was lost in
the distance, the little maid said to me :
VOL. in 19
2QO SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Duke, pray don't think me impertinent, but it
would be just as well if you gave me your arm."
" Impertinent ! charming Marinette ; I am delighted
to be your cavalier. We have not, then, yet reached
our destination ? "
" The little that remains is not worth talking
about," said Marinette. " But you understand, duke,
that it was very necessary that the driver of that
hired coach should not see where we were going.
Remember that we have a secret to keep, a most
important secret. If we take people of that sort into
our confidence, the fat would be soon in the fire.
Enter, enter, here we are."
The wise Marinette was armed with a bunch of
keys, whose significant rattling I heard distinctly ;
with them she opened the door. The hand of my
conductress, which, by-the-way, was very soft, guided
me through endless courts, vestibules and passages.
We wandered through these for several minutes.
From the silence which seemed to reign, I supposed
I was in some large mansion, belonging to one of the
best families of the day.
In such a case, and under the exceptional circum-
stances in which I found myself, I was bound to
I had to discover whether I was in error or if I
had guessed the truth. While I was thinking about
these things, my foot slipped, and I nearly fell full
THE DUC DE ROgUELAUKE 2QI
" Oh ! take care," murmured Marinette, in a tone
of interest, which I looked upon as a good augury.
44 What is that ? "
44 It is a little staircase, duke."
14 You should have warned me."
44 1 really forgot it, duke."
44 One more piece of forgetfulness like that will
break my neck, Marinette. Your little staircase
seems to me rather long."
44 Thirty-two steps and we are at the top."
44 That's all very well, but what shall we find
when we do get to the top of this Jacob's ladder ? "
Marinette used the most discreet, the most tan-
talising, and the most solemn tone in answering me :
44 Heaven ! "
After such an assurance, I really had hardly any
right to grumble. But my impatience showed itself
in my answer to the young Abigail.
44 Heaven ! I accept it," I cried ; 4< but since you
are a Saint Peter in petticoats, don't make me
languish too long for it."
44 Silence ! "
44 1 am as silent as the grave."
44 Walk on tiptoe."
44 Like that ? "
44 That's capital."
44 Shall I have to go on wearing this annoying
bandage much longer ? "
44 1 am taking it off. 11
2Q2 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The bandage was removed, and my eyes were
dazzled. I found myself in a little gallery, the walls
of which were covered with magnificent stuffs, em-
broidered in gold thread with beautiful imitations of
flowers. The furniture was of ebony, delicately
carved, the curtains of the richest damask, and
magnificent chandeliers threw a pure and sparkling
light over this charming room.
For an instant I was so astonished that I was
puzzled to know what had happened.
I was stupefied and giddy.
But soon coming to myself and rubbing my eyes,
I began to look around me.
Marinette had disappeared.
If one must tell the truth, I was rather annoyed.
Marinette had taken the greatest possible care of
me, and I confess that I should have been very glad
to enter with her into what she called paradise. It
was she who had used the word, and pronounced
it with a tone which permitted no mistake. And
now, at last, I was to have proof of her sincerity
or her deception. The surroundings, I am forced
to confess, had a good deal of the celestial about
them. But to complete the simile an angel was
Was the angel going to appear ?
I made a minute inspection of every nook and
corner of the room. I saw nothing. There was
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 293
not the least cloud, not even one of those charming
cherubic visages which artists represent with glories
round their heads. Nothing moved but the flames
of the wax-lights, and I began to feel lonely and
A velvet curtain hid a door, which evidently opened
into another apartment.
1 raised the curtain, and stopped.
This time it was not admiration I felt it was
The room which I entered was a veritable fairy-
chamber, and what made it all the more charming was
that the fairy herself was there.
Imagine a round saloon, hung with white satin,
lit by lamps with blue flames, heavy with perfumes
which intoxicated one and caused one's heart to beat.
Imagine, in addition, a woman as handsome as Venus
or Diana, stretched at full length upon a sofa of rose-
coloured velvet, her hair flowing loosely, her eyes
lost in a profound reverie then you will have some
idea of the magic spectacle which astounded my eyes,
and before which I remained lost in surprise, pleasure,
and delight for several minutes.
I drew near.
The beautiful dreamer rose with a little cry.
But, all at once, she said in a voice that was
almost calm :
" Ah ! it is you, Monsieur . . ."
294 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Madame . . ."
"You are Monsieur le Due de Roquelaure, are
you not ? "
" Ah ! you know my name ? "
" That is to say," she murmured, " I know . . .
or, rather, I had been told . . ."
" I have the happiness of being in your presence,
madame, and that is one of those pieces of good
luck which needs no explanation. Nevertheless, as
I came here by a somewhat original path, and as
I find myself here by a chance which I do not quite
understand, I should feel a very great satisfaction in
knowing who you are."
" Oh, sir ! " she cried, growing pale as death,
" it is the only thing I must beg you not to demand
" The only thing," thought I to myself. " Then
I am allowed to demand anything except that. Things
look promising. After all, what does her name
She pointed to a chair, and took her place once
more upon the sofa. I seated myself close to her.
" If it is forbidden to know her name whose beauty
has made such an impression on my mind, madame,
no one can prevent my retaining within my heart the
memory of her charms and the grace of her features.
That remembrance will be my religion, a religion to
which I shall be for ever faithful."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURK 295
"If I dared ask you for a second favour," replied
my unknown, lowering her eyes, " it would be to
promise me, on the contrary, to forget everything from
" What ! " I cried. " Am I never to see you again,
madame ? "
" Never ! "
" But why ? "
" Because to-morrow at break of day I shall leave
for one of the frontier provinces of France, where
I must live in future in an old chateau lost in a
desert, far from my friends, without being -able to
see anyone, without being able to enjoy any of those
pleasures to which I am entitled by my birth, my
age, and my position."
" You are, then, the victim of a horrible perse-
cution ! " cried I, clasping my hands in horror.
" No, duke ; I am simply under the tutelage of
high and powerful relatives, who pretend that they
treat me thus in the interest of my fortune and
As she said the words, she sighed sadly, and I
saw a tear fall from her eyes.
The riddle had become more difficult to guess than
" You are hiding the truth from me," I said ; " you
are unhappy. But, really, what right have I to your
confidence, save from my presence here ? Such a
favour could not have been conferred except with
some motive . ."
296 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Oh ! do not seek to penetrate it. It is impossible
for me to explain it ; and if by any chance independent
of my will the secret should be unveiled in my presence,
you would see me die of shame at your feet."
At these words she rose, and I did the same.
All on a sudden, she was seized with sudden weak-
ness, and I felt her fall into my arms.
That posture rendered her yet more delightful in
my eyes. There she was, close to me, reposing like
some creeper blown by a tempest, pale, inanimate,
voiceless. Her half-closed lips seemed to appeal to
mine. ... I had not the strength to resist. ... I
ardently embraced her.
The kiss reanimated her.
Her eyelids, heavy with an adorable languor, rose,
and her looks seemed to say :
" Dare ! . . . you can dare everything. I have
neither the wish nor the courage to resist."
The reader knows me well enough to be quite
sure that I was not the man to be deaf to such
an unequivocal provocation. A philosopher who
was inclined to self-analysis would perhaps wish to
know, before making up his mind to be happy, the
why and wherefore of everything why he was
loved, and how it came about, and on what such
tenderness was based, and whither these unexpected
delights would lead him.
There are such people, people who hesitate,
people who reflect, who doubt, who suspect, who
THE DUG DE KOQUELAURE 2Q7
create phantoms for themselves, in order to hunt
them, who, in a word, if the end of the world had
arrived, would phlegmatically pass the whole of
eternity in walking round Paradise without daring
to enter it.
I have a horror of such over-particular persons,
their hearts are too irresolute.
I know not how to bargain with danger ; nor
do I ever deny myself well-earned pleasure.
This woman belonged to me by the right of an
inevitable fatality, or by the right of a chance meeting.
Be it chance or be it destiny, I thanked the
occult power to which I was indebted for so much
and unexpected good luck. I only thought of rendering
myself worthy, and in that way justify the preference
of which I had become the object.
Oh ! happy hour, in each minute of which I tasted,
as it were, a crumb of ambrosia destined to gradually
increase my passion, by what words and in what
language can I ever describe it ! Hour of pleasure
and forgetfulness, would it not be profaning my
memory by a description to those who are curious,
to those who are indifferent ?
No ! when I shall have told my readers how
modest this girl of twenty was in the midst of her
passion ; when I shall have described the magnificent
head of hair, which floated over her shoulders, her
cheeks tinted with the blush of happiness, her palpi-
tating bosom, her languishing eyes, and her arms,
298 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
which clutched me, unworthy as I was, in a celestial
embrace, even then they would know nothing, they
would feel nothing of that divine ambrosia whose
delights I had tasted during an hour that seemed
all too short ; they would not even have a shadow,
a copy, a reflection, an inkling of the truth ! . . .
After so exciting a scene, after such intoxicating
gambols, we found ourselves once more seated on the
sofa, our fingers interlaced, gazing into each other's
eyes and murmuring incomprehensible words. My
beautiful unknown seemed to have recovered all her
confidence and all her serenity.
I wanted to speak. With a gesture, she begged
me to allow her to do so, and I bent over her lovingly,
showing that I was only too ready to listen.
" You do not know who I am," she said to me,
"and I know who you are. My only excuse is in
this single word : I am a woman ; that fact enables
me to demand a boundless discretion from you, while
there is nothing binding upon me."
I could not suppress a smile.
" I understand why you laugh," she continued
sweetly. "You think that I should never be seized
with the whim, boasting of what has taken place
to-night, and your smile signifies that I shall not have
much trouble in keeping a secret which can only
compromise myself. Perhaps you are right, although
one never knows what the future conceals, and to
what strange necessities one may find oneself forced
to obey some day or other ..."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE
" In that case, and if circumstances compel you,"
I cried, " pray believe that I shall be as ever ready to
support you with my word as to defend you with my
sword. The secret is yours, not mine. You alone
have the right to divulge it, while I am bound in
honour to be silent. I hope that you do not do me
the injustice of doubting me. Under such circum-
stances, a simple indiscretion would be an infamous
" And so you swear an absolute discretion ? "
" Be content with a simple promise. One does
not demand an oath from a man unless one doubts
" And if ever for one must take every precaution
if ever in society, wherever you should chance to
meet me . . ."
" My heart would beat, my happiness would choke
me ; I should grow pale with joy . . ."
" Imprudent man ! "
" But at the same time I should turn away ; I
should retire without speaking to, without recognising
" Before asking you that question," she said,
" before having received your answer, I knew that
I could fearlessly trust in your delicacy and in your
I thanked her with a look.
" Do you wish for proof ? Behold it ! " she con-
tinued ; and raising one of the sofa cushions, she
3OO SECRET MEMOIRS OF
showed me a little mask of black velvet. " Here is
the inexorable guardian which I purposed to use to
spare my blushes; but I remembered with whom I
had to deal, and I thought of the reputation for
devotion and for an excellent heart which is attached
to the name of Roquelaure. I said to myself, ' There
is one man in the world who, owing to a concatena-
tion of circumstances, which it is impossible for me
to relate just now, will have the right to look upon
me as the lowest and vilest of lost women . . .' "
I interrupted her at those words by covering her
little feet with kisses.
" ' Well,' " she said, with inexpressible dignity,
" ' I will not hide myself from this man ... he shall
see my face, he shall know me ; and when I have
confided my honour to his mercy, I will beg him to
keep my secret, and he will keep it.' "
I flung myself at her feet, I protested my un-
changeable devotion, and swore to keep in my
remembrance the likeness of her features as though
they had been those of a saint. ... In my turn,
I begged her to pardon my hardy temerity.
She did not answer me.
I looked up.
She was no longer there !
Nothing can paint my despair. 1 searched for
her, I called aloud, I desired to pursue her.
The sound of a voice stopped me.
" Where are you going, please, duke ? "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 30!
" What ! 'tis you, Marinette, what are you doing
here ? "
" I have come to guide you to the street-door, just
as I guided you from the street-door hither."
' But 1 don't want to go."
" You've got to, duke."
" Be off with you, I am going to stay ! "
" Oh ! and your promise," murmured a sweet and
charming voice behind the door.
" Your promise, duke ? It is true enough that you
did refuse to swear."
"I go! I go! " I cried, thoroughly ashamed of
myself, and following Marinette.
The unknown had recalled me to my duty. I
rushed down the stairs four at a time.
" Monsieur le due ! monsieur le due ! " cried the
now thoroughly frightened Marinette.
" What do you want now ? "
" Don't you perceive that you have forgotten
something ? "
" Forgotten what ? "
" The bandage for your eyes."
" Has it got to be put on again ? "
" Why should I have made a blind man of you in
coming in, if in going out I were going to leave you in
possession of that dangerous sight of yours ? "
" You are quite right, Marinette ; I pray you do
your duty, and do it quickly ; I want to be alone that
I may think of all that has been said to me, of all
3O2 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
that I have seen, that I may ponder over it at my
ease, and that, after having enjoyed the reality of
happiness, I may be happy once more by remem-
bering my past joys."
" I did not deceive you, did I ? " said Marinette,
bandaging my eyes just as she had bandaged them
in the coach.
" No, indeed ! what you told me was far below
the truth ! "
" Ah, my mistress is a charming woman ! "
" She is an angel ! "
" You are quite right, duke."
" Ah, Marinette, supposing I were to go back
" For what ? "
"Just to bid her one last adieu ! "
" It is impossible."
" You think so ? "
" I am sure of it."
" You think she would not care to see me ? "
" It is not that. But that which was feasible just
now is no longer so."
" Is that quite decisive ? "
" Well, quick march ! "
" Monsieur le due, you say ' quick march, 1 but
you don't march at all."
" It is quite true, lead me ... and then I shall
be obliged to follow you."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 303
" Excellent, this way, monsieur le due ; take care,
there is a step."
" Thanks, and where are we now ? "
" We are at the street-door."
" Have you the key ? "
" Of course I have."
" Are we in the street now ? "
" We are, indeed."
"And are you going to lead me like this very
far ? "
" As far as ever I can, monsieur le due, in order
that my mind may be at ease upon a most important
point, that I may know that it would be impossible
for you to know whence you are coming."
" Do you know, Marinette, that you take very
many injurious precautions with a man in whom you
pretend to have every confidence ? "
" Oh, no one doubts your loyalty, due, that is
above suspicion, but one may fear little weaknesses
" As how ? "
" Flesh is weak, due, and my mistress is pretty ! "
" You speak the truth, and I would not answer
that I might not be guilty of some imprudence, if I
only knew where to find her."
" You see, we are only doing what is necessary.
There; here we are at the Palais- Royal, due; I am
about to leave you."
" What do you think the time is ? "
304 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Ah, and while we have been walking along
together, do you suppose that no one has noticed
us and felt astonishment at your leading a blind
man about ? "
"It is as dark as an oven, and no one has paid
the slightest attention to us. Farewell, monsieur le
" One moment, Marinette, one moment. Before
letting you go, we must settle our accounts. How
many pistoles were there in the purse I gave you ? "
" Thirty-six, monsieur le due."
" I promised you three times as many if I were
satisfied with my evening's amusement. I owe you
a hundred and eight pistoles, then ? "
" Oh ! monsieur le due, you are too generous."
"Too generous! You shall have them to-mor-
row. Where shall I see you ? "
" Here, to-morrow, at seven in the evening.
And as I want to earn your money, I shall try
to do so by rendering you further service, if there
is the chance. I mean it. For, on the honour of
Marinette, you please me very much indeed, due."
" For my part, Marinette, I adore you for being
this evening's brilliant messenger of happiness. Till
we meet again, then ! "
" Adieu, adieu, monsieur le due ; adieu ! "
Marinette ran off and disappeared.
I had given my word of honour. I made no
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 305
attempt to follow her or to watch her. That would
have been a trick unworthy of my honourable dis-
position. I contented myself with my part of the
honest man who was happy and satisfied.
Then I tried to think about other things, and I
went to finish my night at Marion de Lorme's,
where we supped and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves
with Miossens and Rambouillet.
VOL. Ill 20
306 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The appendix to the preceding An interval of two years
A journey to Marseilles The Count de La Baume A ball
I think of fainting Double emotion Struggle between my
wishes and the remembrance of an oath Honour wins
Virtue is always rewarded A letter Explanation of the
mystery Unheard-of details It is the truth, though The
Countess de Lansac A second meeting I see Marinette
again I am indebted to her Fresh happiness A silent
night A sentimental visit to a child who resembles me
Joys of paternity Its impenetrable mysteries.
THE next day at the hour agreed upon I was
at the place fixed upon by Marinette.
She was exact to time.
On seeing her once more, my heart beat with
violence. She recalled her mistress to my mind,
and the very sight of her seemed to renew my re-
membrances of the happy hours of the previous
" Well, now," I cried, rushing towards her, " are
you going to keep your promise, Marinette ? "
" What promise, monsieur le due ? "
" Didn't you promise to bring me something, in
return for what I am about to give you ? "
" I always keep my promises," said Marinette.
" I have been ordered to give you this."
THE DUG DE KOQUELAURE 307
And she held out to me a little green leather
case stamped with gold ornamentation.
Mad with delight, I opened it.
It contained a diamond of the finest water, the
fire of which astounded me.
" I would rather have had a letter," said I, with
" If you refuse this present I can take it back,''
"Cruel girl!" cried I, repulsing the hand which
she had stretched out to deprive me of my treasure ;
" do you not see that, in the future, this precious
stone will be my most delicious, my most cherished
talisman ? Whoever would take it from me, must
first take my life ! "
" Well, as I don't want to kill you," said Mari-
nette, with a laugh, " I'll let you keep it."
" Here are your pistoles. You had better count
" From their weight, monseigneur, I fancy that
you must have made a mistake."
" You think they are short, then ? "
" Oh no ! ... quite the other way."
" Well, you are not annoyed ? "
" It is just as you please, monseigneur. We
servants do as we are told."
*' What ! are you off already ? "
" I am waited for."
" One word, one little word from your mistress ! "
308 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" She gave me no further orders."
" Are you sure there wasn't one little word? "
"Absolutely, not one; but then her eyes said a
great deal. ..."
" And what did her eyes say ? "
" They said . . . they said that you had been an
exceptionally lucky man, due ! "
" Was that all ? "
" Isn't it enough ? Adieu, monseigneur, I'm
Marinette flew like an arrow. I remained motion-
less upon the spot where our meeting had taken
At last, calling upon my courage, I walked to-
wards my hotel, going over, in my mind, the
extraordinary events of the last twenty-four hours,
and looking with a hungry eye at the magnificent
gem I had received, and which I swore to retain for
ever in memory of that miraculous adventure.
Did I follow the course of events, I ought to
break my story off here, and finish it in its proper
place. But it is better, I think, to narrate the
climax at once. I do this for the sake of the
interest which the reader may have taken in my
Two years passed away, and I heard not a word,
either of Marinette or of the beautiful unknown.
But one day one memorable day having gone to
Marseilles on a visit to a certain Baron de La Baurne,
THE DUC DE ROQVELAURE 30Q
a witty nobleman who was very fond of hunting, I
was asked by him to go to a ball to which he pro-
posed to invite the whole of the nobility of the town
and district. The ladies of Marseilles pleased me
extremely, and I made a toilet regardless of expense
for this particular ball, which was one of the most
rich and brilliant at which I had ever been present.
The Baron de La Baume's mansion, which was
not far from the Abbaye of Saint-Victor, was an
immense place, which was suited for princely enter-
tainments, and the Baron's fete was, indeed, princely.
The illuminations were of rare splendour; the in-
terior decorations of the principal apartments were
fairy-like, and about nine o'clock in the evening
(which was about the hour of my arrival), I found an
immense crowd already collected there.
I will not trouble the reader with the details of
this ball, which, splendid as it was, resembled similar
entertainments. The saraband and the pavane
were in full swing, and the ladies of Marseilles were
in full swing, and the ladies of Marseilles were en-
joying themselves to their heart's content.
I gave myself up to the delights of the entertain-
ment, when, in the middle of a pirouette, I was
suddenly struck by an apparition which caused me to
lose my head and entirely upset the figure in which I
The Baron de La Baume, who was my vis-a-vis,
cried laughingly :
3IO SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Oh ! la, la ! Roquelaure, what are you thinking
about, my good friend ? You turn to the right
instead of turning to the left, and you have mistaken
your partner. Are you going mad ? "
" Thanks for your kindness, baron. But I am
not mad. Only I have had a sudden shock, so
overwhelming, that I shall ask your permission to
"You have turned pale, indeed," said a young
lady from Marseilles, whose hand I was still
"It is quite true," said the Baron de La Baume,
" shall they go for a physician ? "
" No ! . . . a breath of air will be enough."
" Off with you, then ! off with you ! "
I immediately left the group which surrounded
me, and crossed the ball-room to reach the door.
As I walked, my eyes were fixed upon a charming
young lady whose toilet set off her perfections, and
who, on her part, stared hard and continuously at
Her emotion, violently repressed, was visible to
I did not seek to conceal mine from her. . . .
But not a sign, not a movement of the head, not
the slightest manifestation betrayed to the eyes of
the bystanders the profound agitation to which I was
a prey. . . .
It was my unknown !
THE DUG DE ROQUELAUKE 3! I
Yes, it was indeed she ... it was the countenance
whose every feature lived in my heart ; it was indeed
that celestial creature whose secret charms were so
strongly impressed upon my memory, whom more
than once I had seen again in my dreams, each time
more perfect, each time more delicious !
This unexpected meeting did not upset me so far
as to deprive me of the reasoning faculty.
I had a promise to keep.
I did my duty.
I left the salon of the Baron de La Baume, without
even saluting her whose image filled my entire soul.
Certes, no one could have suspected me of knowing
Not only did I go out, but I did not return.
I had become once more the tender boy-lover of
eighteen. This woman, whose name I knew not, of
whose worldly position I was ignorant, had caused
my ideas of love to grow young again, and had
lighted again in my heart all the fires of passion.
Who would have believed it ? I walked round
the mansion, where they laughed and danced without
me, fifteen or twenty times.
Just once I was much tempted to return.
But the remembrance of my oath restrained me.
I returned home.
What a night ! I found it impossible to close
my eyes. I saw her, I spoke to her, I was awake,
and yet I dreamed.
312 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Towards morning, I had one of those dreams
which make one wish to go on sleeping for ever.
The noises of the town unfortunately aroused me
all too soon from that sweet lethargy.
I sprang from my bed, dressed, determined to
leave Marseilles as soon as possible to escape a danger
which I felt to be imminent.
I called my valet-de-chambre, and ordered him to
prepare everything for our departure.
My further stay at Marseilles could only be either
very delightful or very hateful.
As there seemed to be every probability of the
latter hypothesis, was it not wiser to depart, and
so leave no time for my reflections to change into
too agonising regrets ?
I put on my travelling-dress with a truly Roman
I had got as far as my travelling-cloak, the hook
of which I was just fastening, when I heard someone
tap at my door.
"Who's there ?"
" 'Tis I, your grace's house-porter."
" What is it you want ? "
" I have brought a letter for your grace."
" Doubtless from Paris ? "
" No, your grace, a man from the harbour placed
it in my hands."
" Good, step forward and give it to me."
I took the letter.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 313
I know not why, but, in looking at the address, I
was seized with a fit of trembling which I could not
overcome. The paper was scented, the writing was
fine and delicate. What is more, I had never seen
that writing before.
" Zooks ! " I cried, as soon as I was alone, "if it
should be from her ! "
I broke the seal, and I read as follows :
DEAR DUKE, You have nobly fulfilled your promise,
and I should consider myself an ungrateful creature if
I waited a single day without thanking you. It is two
years since we met ; it is also two years, as I told you
would be the case, that I have lived shut up in an isolated
country-house, a league and a half from Marseilles. Yester-
day, for the first time, I reappeared again in society, and
yesterday, by an inexplicable chance or providence, you
were the first man whom I looked upon. Judge, duke, of
my confidence in you : that meeting did not alarm me
for an instant. But, then and there, I resolved to write
to you, to unveil a secret which you have the right to
know, and which I do not wish to conceal from you any
You remember, duke, that strange night, the sole
remembrance of which causes me to lower my eyes and
blush with shame. ; you remember our unexpected in-
timacy, that forced tctc-a-tete, that interview which I know
not how to describe, and which must have many a time
filled you with the most disgraceful suppositions in regard
to me. Well, duke, can you believe me when I tell you
that nothing that happened that day was done with my
consent ? when I tell you that a hand of iron, invisible
to you, but whose resistless clutch I felt, compelled me to
act as I did ? Perhaps you will doubt it, duke, and yet,
I swear to you, it is the pure and simple truth.
314 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
I will explain myself more clearly.
I had been married, five years previously, to the aged
Count de Lansac, whose wealth (the rumour of which has
probably reached you) amounted to several millions. My
father (and in writing these two words, which a girl
ordinarily does with pleasure, I shudder), my father had
caused my marriage to be contracted with the intention of
rebuilding his own fortune, which had been considerably
depreciated by hazardous speculations. He had hoped
that the count, whose principal desire was to have an
heir to his title, would make me a gift of all his worldly
wealth as soon as that happy event should take place.
He hoped, at the same time, that, the count once dead,
and I the mistress of his immense fortune, he would
easily obtain from his daughter the rewards of his efforts
and his paternal cares. I had then a younger sister at a
nunnery school, and my father reckoned on my generosity
to give her a dowry, when the time should come for
But time passed by, and the Count de Lansac vainly
awaited an heir. His character began to sour, he grew
sombre and morose, he threatened even to try and upset
our marriage. Dare I tell you, duke, nothing would have
delighted me more ? My modesty is outraged by this
confession, but it is the truth all the same.
This threat rendered my father furious. Were the
foundations on which he had built my fortune about
to crumble away ? He was deeply in debt, and I alone
could save him from his creditors. His inventive genius,
in this difficult position, furnished him with the means,
which he explained to me, and which I now feel it difficult
to make you comprehend.
" The Count de Lansac," said my father to me, " is
determined to have a child . . . therefore he must have
one." " I have no objection," I answered my father ; "and
I should be happy indeed to see myself live again in a son,
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 315
whose noble qualities would flatter my pride ; or in :i
daughter, whose affection would satisfy the needs of
my heart." " Very well," said my father, " then it will
have to be done." " What mean you ? " "I repeat, it
will have to be done." " I do not understand you."
" Marinette will communicate my intentions to you."
I had a long conversation with Marinette, and she
unfolded my father's project. . . . Without pretending
to influence my choice, he wanted . . . But why say
more ? You understand the terrible proposal which he
made me accept. . . . To yield to some unknown lover,
to the first-comer ; the right to despise me, to throw my
shame in my face ! It was horrible ! I refused. . . .
I was indignant. My father suddenly came into my room ;
his hair was in disorder, his eyes were hollow. " What I
have determined upon," he cried, " will have to be done
this very night ! " " To-night ? " " It cannot be put off
any longer!" added he furiously. ... "If not, I blow
out my brains; because I am ruined, and you alone can
save me. My life depends on you. . . ." Then he left the
What passed that night you know, duke. Marinette,
who knew you when you used to visit Madame de Gu6menee,
judged you for what you are, for a man who was discreet,
delicate, and devoted to our sex. It is to that which you
owe the . . . annoyance to which you so politely sub-
mitted. . . . All I can say is, that on my own account . . .
I have never complained ... of the choice she had made.
That choice was a fortunate one from every point of
At the end of two months, the Count de Lansac
celebrated by a great banquet the knowledge of the
certainty of his long-desired paternity, and he made
over to me his entire fortune.
At the present moment, duke, I am a widow, my father
is travelling in Italy, my younger sister is well-married,
and I am the mother of a handsome child.
SECRET MEMOIRS OF
You came once to my house, duke, by compulsion.
Will you come a second time of your own free-will ? I
Can I paint my intoxication of joy when I had
finished reading the letter ? I began to dance round
the room like a madman. If a doctor had found me
in the state I was in, he would have assuredly ordered
me cold shower-baths.
I had a rendezvous that very evening with the
handsome Countess de Lansac.
Will it be wondered at, that I made my appear-
ance with my usual punctuality.
A waiting-maid was on the watch to receive me.
It was Marinette.
I felt as if I could have embraced her.
But Madame de Lansac was at her window, and I
hurried towards the house like one demented.
An instant afterwards, the window was shut,
the curtains were drawn, there was a profound
silence. . . .
I did not leave till the morrow at noon, in order
to go to visit with the Countess de Lansac, at a
neighbouring farm, a pretty child, who, pretty as
he was, resembled me, so everyone said, not a little.
I found, I must confess, a wonderful satisfaction in
embracing him, and the charming little smile he gave
me filled me with indescribable joy.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 317
The Chevalier Antoine de Roquelaure His character His
blasphemies He quarrels with the storm He insults the
thunder They want to throw him into the sea He escapes
this peril He is sent to the Bastille I effect his release
His second arrest The Conciergerie The jailor's wife
The generosity of the Chevalier His purse runs dry The
loves of Madame Dumont and the Chevalier de Roquelaure
Disinterestedness A woman's heart Escape Imprison-
ment of Madame Dumont She is set at liberty Convent
of Notre-Dame-Bon-Secours Sister Brigitte and Sister
Mandane The devil himself The Chevalier is melancholy
M. de Romainville That nobleman's impiety His death-
bed He sends for the two Roquelaures The cordelier
The holy sacrament An interrupted absolution A con-
fessor in a perilous position The Chevalier's little joke
Romainville's burst of laughter His cure The last moments
of the Chevalier Antoine de Roquelaure.
I HAD a cousin who took the name of Roquelaure,
though he had no right to it, and whom I have omitted
to mention till now, because he was not the sort of
person whom his family could be proud of, and his
behaviour did not always conform to the great
principles of honour and loyalty which we boasted
of inheriting from our father, the Marechal. He
called himself the Chevalier Antoine de Roquelaure.
He was not a bad man at heart, and if I have any
sympathy for my relatives, assuredly it was this one,
3*8 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
whose character, in 'so many instances, resembled my
own. His gaiety was inexhaustible, he was full of
fun and wit, and capable of every folly imaginable.
Till now, the evil had not been very great, but his
extraordinary impiety spoilt whatever was good and
acceptable about him.
We had tried to make a sailor of the Chevalier,
and the attempt at first succeeded, for his cheerful,
breezy, active nature made him popular with men of
But he soon wearied by his blasphemies the
Comte d'Harcourt, under whom he served, so that the
count one day gave orders that his crew should
assemble for a formal execution. No one knew what
was going to take place ; great was the general sur-
prise when they learned that the Chevalier de Roque-
laure was about to be cast into the sea without trial,
a cannon-ball attached to his feet. He got out of
this difficulty by putting M. d'Harcourt into a good
humour by some ridiculous joke, which I do not
remember. At Malta, he was put for many hours
into a dry well for having threatened a storm, with
horrible imprecations, while shaking his fist at heaven
and cursing the thunder. Having returned to France
at Toulouse, he considered it a joke to transform a
tennis-court into a church, to construct a sham high-
altar and tabernacle there, and to say mass, and
marry dogs there with all solemnity of a Christian
THE DUG DE KOQUELAUKE 319
All these little tricks made him excessively un-
popular. Above all, the enemies of our family pro-
fited by the numerous scandals of which he was the
cause to add fuel to flame in crying abomination.
From another point of view, he was treated with in-
dulgence by certain other personages, and notably by
Madame de Longueville, who, in the time of the
Fronde, did all she could to attract him, though, to
tell the truth, he would have been a bad enough
bargain for that faction.
Madame de Longueville, having learnt that the
public mind was excited over the peccadilloes with
which he never ceased to scandalise everybody, looked
upon him as a martyr, and said in reference to him :
" Odsblood ! what is the use nowadays of being
of good family and high position ? Is it fitting that
a man of rank should be arrested for trifles of this
kind ? "
She had the impertinence to invite him to a
splendid fete which she gave at her hotel on the very
day when it was rumoured that he was about to be
imprisoned. He was delighted at the invitation, and
in his joy he was unable to restrain himself from com-
mitting a great folly. He came to the entertainment
disguised as Cardinal Mazarin. The resemblance
was striking. Everyone entreated him to stop a joke
which might have awkward results, and which per-
sonally annoyed me very much ; but far from beating
a retreat, he made matters worse, and while wearing
the costume played all sorts of tricks.
32O SECRET MEMOIRS OF
He got on a chair, and imitating the gestures .and
the Italian accent of the Cardinal, he preached a
Encouraged by the laughter of the crowd, now
thoroughly delighted, he amused himself by delivering
a mountebank's oration on the subject of the recent
political troubles, in language fit only for a fair.
Hereupon Madame de Longueville begged him to
Whereupon he said :
" What ! madame la duchesse, your opinions seem
doubtful, for if there is one thing in the world that
ought to give you pleasure, it is to see M. de Mazarin
made game of."
So many extravagances were bound in the end to
be suitably chastised. The Chevalier was taken to
the Bastille, and it required considerable interest to
cause him to be set at liberty. But he behaved no
better, and continued to shock all decent people. He
was arrested for the second time, and while his in-
dictment was being prepared he was locked up in the
And this is the way that he managed to get out of
his new difficulty. There was a jailor at the Con-
ciergerie named Dumont who had a very pretty wife.
The Chevalier de Roquelaure had the idea that this
woman pitied him, and told her that, if she permitted
him to escape, he would make her fortune. He com-
menced operations by giving her several hundred
pistoles that he had gained at play shortly before his
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE
arrest. The woman accepted them, telling him that
she would think of means of escape. About a week
after, she told him that she thought she had discovered
a way of getting out.
At the bottom of a corridor which she pointed out
to him, one end of which communicated with her
room, Madame Dumont had noticed a wall which
was only two feet thick, and which formed a portion
of the back of the building. She set to work herself,
and each evening a hole, which she hid by placing
pieces of furniture against it, was made by her feeble
On hearing such good news, the Chevalier wished
to be generous. He drew out his purse and gave her
all that remained in it.
Madame Dumont took the money.
At the third visit Madame Dumont announced
that an opening through which one could pass a
knitting-needle had been made in the thickness of the
wall, whence it was easy to see that a decisive result
might be obtained in about seven or eight months.
This prospect made the Chevalier de Roquelaure
groan, for he had decided to pay heavily for the
woman's assistance, feeling certain that in this world
one can obtain nothing except with the aid of money,
and in putting for the third time his hand in his
pocket, he found that he had not even a centime.
He felt like a fool, and stammered out several ex-
cuses. But, in raising his eyes, he had a sudden idea.
VOL. Ill 21
322 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Madame Dumont was very handsome, and there are
so many ways of satisfying a pretty woman ! He
was alone with her (for M. Dumont looked after his
prisoners but not after his wife), and it seemed to
him, the rascal, that the big black eyes of the
jailoress sparkled like two fine diamonds set in ebony.
He drew her towards him, cavalierly passed his left
hand round a waist which offered very little resist-
ance, and satisfied with his right hand the other
necessities of the situation, and now he commenced
with Madame Dumont one of those conversations in
which even dumb persons show proof of a sweet and
As soon as Madame Dumont could speak, for it
seems that the Chevalier de Roquelaure had pre-
vented her doing so up to now, drawing a purse
from her pocket, she said to him :
" Listen, sir : if you had known me better, you
would not have paid me in money, which I much
despised. Here are the pistoles which you gave me,
and which I have kept, in order to return them in
case you wanted them."
"Oh! fool that I have been. Oh! adorable
creature that thou art ! And I was blind enough
not to see all your perfections ! Where the devil
were my eyes ? . . . And you give me back this
money ? "
" Without a doubt. . . . For what you have had
from me, Chevalier, I do not sell, I give."
THE DUG DE KOQUELAURE 323
From that day the work did not go on perhaps so
quickly, for Madame Dumont feared to lose a lover
whom she really liked. Nevertheless, her devotion
overcame her passion, and one day when the Cheva-
lier de Roquelaure was playing piquet with La
Taulade, a prisoner for debt, Madame Dumont came
to tell him that some one wished to speak to him.
He went out, and returned no more.
La Taulade was obliged to finish the game l>y
It was about time for the Chevalier to make his
escape, for dangerous witnesses had been summoned
to the Chatelet, and his trial threatened to take a
very serious turn.
Madame Dumont, suspected of having assisted in
his escape, was arrested and thrown into the prisons
of the Chatelet. But there was no proof against her,
and she had to be released.
When the Chevalier returned, at the end of a
year, everything was forgotten, and neither his liberty
nor his goods were interfered with.
He used his liberty, it must be confessed, in the
most reprehensible manner in the world, and I note
here the very first use he made of the indulgence
that had just been shown him was to the great dis-
content of persons particular on the subject of
There existed a convent of recent foundation in
the Rue de Charonne; it was placed under the protec-
324 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
tion of Saint Benedict, and had been established in
September of 1647 by Madame Claude de Boucha-
vanne, the widow of a certain Sieur Vignier. This
lady, who was most pious and of irreproachable
morals, placed her sister, Madeleine de Bouchavanne,
a nun of Notre-Dame de Soissons, at the head of the
This nunnery had taken the name of the Priory of
The following year there were already sixty
religious women in the house.
The Chevalier de Roquelaure, who was a great
admirer of cloistered beauty, had seen one day,
through a barred window, a young recluse whose
eyes seemed to him to have a hungry look.
His good heart was saddened by this sight, and
he set himself to ponder how he could get into the
The Chevalier, his bad qualities apart, was a
smart young fellow (the mere name of Roquelaure
made those smart who were not otherwise so . . . ).
He was not long in forming his plans.
By a system of spying, adroitly managed, he
found out the names of two or three of the boarders,
and one fine day, with lowered eye and contrite air,
he rang the Priory bell.
One of the sisters opened the door to him.
He asked in a timid voice if he could be allowed
to say a word to a relative of his, whom he had not
THE DUC DE ROQUELAURE 325
seen for years, and for whom he was charged with a
message from one of her uncles.
"What is the name of the boarder, "demanded the
" Mademoiselle d'Escalon," replied the Chevalier
in the most natural way in life.
" She whom you ask for is indeed here," said the
janitress ; " but she has not kept the name which
she used in the world; she is called in religion Sister
" Sister Brigitte will do," said the Chevalier.
" Will you kindly show me the way to the par-
lour ? "
" But," observed the janitress, " I cannot let you
in without knowing who you really are and whether
you come from her uncle."
" That need not trouble you," replied the artful
young fellow. " Here is a letter which will prove
to you that I have not come as a stranger."
" Let me see it."
" My dear Mother," said the letter, " be good
enough, I beg you, to permit my dear cousin, the
Baron Anatole de Vernemuse, to speak in private
with my much-loved niece, the Sister Brigitte. He
has certain things to communicate to her of very
Here followed the signature.
In order to enlighten the reader immediately as to
the significance of the incident, it is as well to tell
3^6 SECRET MEMOIRS OK
him this uncle really existed, and he really did have
a nephew named Anatole de Vernemuse, to whom he
had given this letter for the Superior of the Priory of
Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, and that the Chevalier
de Roquelaure, by more or less doubtful means, had
obtained the letter and made use of it, as has been
They permitted him to enter. Sister Brigitte was
sent to him in the parlour, accompanied by another
sister a little older, but very much prettier, one Sister
Mandane, who was instructed to note the conversa-
tion, as is the custom in these religious establish-
The Chevalier de Roquelaure understood his
danger at once, and immediately changed his plan
" If I make love to Sister Brigitte," he thought,
" Sister Mandane would denounce me at once. Let
me confess the trick to both of them, without saying
at first on whose account I have come here. Accord-
ing to what they answer, I will decide to which of the
two I will address myself."
It seemed that the conversation decided him in
favour of Sister Mandane. The Chevalier perceived
that Sister Brigitte had an indulgent heart, and that
she would play excellently the part of guardian angel,
while Sister Mandane might spoil everything were
hsr pride or her self-love wounded.
As he did not care if it were this one or that one,
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 327
he fixed his choice upon the girl it was most danger-
ous to make an enemy of.
Sister Mandane accepted and believed in all the
pretty compliments which the Chevalier had origi-
nally intended for Sister Brigitte.
The next day, at ten o'clock in the evening, the
Chevalier escaladed the wall of the Priory garden,
and Sister Mandame came to meet him in a charming
thicket at the end of the garden.
These nocturnal interviews took place five or six
times ; but at length one of the sisters noticed
certain suspicious footprints in the garden. It
was determined to watch and attempt to solve the
The sisters were posted in the passages which
led to the garden, and waited results.
It was perfectly useless ; nothing moved.
The four or five old nuns who had been charged
with this thankless mission returned very disap-
pointed to their dormitories.
All of a sudden a black shadow rose before them.
They screamed aloud.
" Be silent, hideous sluts of hell, and let me
pass ! "
And, as they were in the shadow's path, the
shadow hustled them, shouting :
" Thunder confound you ! S'death ! If the door
is not instantly opened, I will thrash all your Jesuses,
and make me a barber's basin of every one of your
328 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The speaker, as we know, was the Chevalier de
Roquelaure, who had, for the particular occasion,
changed the place of rendezvous. He thought it
more amusing to meet Sister Mandane in the dor-
He caused such great fear to the poor nuns, that
they allowed him to pass and leave the convent
The next day, as can be fancied, the scandal
spread far and wide.
The nuns were interrogated.
The whole community were called to give their
evidence upon an event which might have the gravest
The bishop was sent for.
This bishop was a cunning blade, who suspected
the truth, but he knew very well how dangerous it
was to discover it too effectually.
After having listened to all the suggestions, and
carefully noted the results of all his interrogatories,
he assembled a secret chapter, which, after a careful
examination of the facts in order to establish his
opinion on sure grounds, was to give a decisive
The tribunal thus composed decided authoritatively
that the phantom whose apparition had so frightened
the community of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours could
be none other than
THE DEVIL !
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 329
The following are the questions and answers on
which the judges based their decision :
To THE SISTER JANITRESS.
" Had the phantom horns ? "
" I believe so."
To THE MOTHER SUPERIOR.
" Had the phantom claws ? "
" I could almost swear it."
To THE SISTER MANDANE.
" Had the phantom a tail ? "
" Assuredly, a short one."
After such certain indications as these, doubt was
no longer possible.
The chapter, composed of enlightened men, was
It was the devil !
After this performance, the result of which might
have been the very reverse of laughable, the Chevalier,
more prudent than one might have supposed him to
be from his frivolous character, did not trust himself
again for a long time in the neighbourhood of the
nunnery of N6tre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours. People
said, though I don't affirm it as a fact, that he
did not pass through the Rue de Charonne for nearly
a year. After all, they took care not to stir up dirty
water, for the convent and the clergy were just as
interested as he was in preventing the matter getting
The Chevalier de Roquelaure was exceedingly
330 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
fond of travelling. It would be difficult to prove
that he ever remained three months in the same
His face was always changing, his features never
From one minute to another he would assume
an air of foolish gaiety or the appearance of a man
just come from a funeral.
He had one very great advantage, for when he
wanted to joke he always refrained from laughing
beforehand, as do certain society clowns, who do not
know that the best means of leaving an audience cold
and bored is to appear to let them know that a joke
One day, when we were assembled for a game
of bi-ri-bi at the house of M. de Montbazon, the
Chevalier de Roquelaure made his appearance.
He received compliments from every side. He
seemed as if he hardly understood them. He bowed
to the guests with an indifferent air and sat him-
self down by the fireside.
There he began to stir the fire, and there he sat
for a full hour without opening his lips. From time
to time the company glanced at him furtively.
"What is the matter with the Chevalier ? " said
the players among themselves.
" He must have lost his last crown," murmured
" Perhaps he is ill," added others.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 331
" Chevalier," cried M. de Montbazon to him,
being really uneasy at the depression which his
countenance exhibited, " Chevalier, has anything
happened to you ? "
" To me ? " he replied.
" Yes, to you."
" Ffaith, no ! "
But the tone of his answer betokened great sadness.
" It is not possible, Chevalier, that you are telling
us the truth. Everyone can see that something has
happened to you."
He sighed sadly.
" You see, one could almost swear you were going
" What would you have ? " said the Chevalier de
Roquelaure at length. " Is it my fault if I am in
the dumps ? "
" In the dumps ! You in the dumps ! "
" Everyone has his troubles."
" But you, who are so gay and so frivolous, what
could have possibly happened to depress you to this
extent ? "
" I am the victim of injustice."
" A legal error ? "
" Worse than that."
" Perhaps a portion of an inheritance, which the
other legatees have been greedy enough to keep you
out of ? "
" Far worse."
'33 2 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Ah ! " cried M. de Montbazon, " I give it up ;
it is beyond me."
I approached him, and, leaning over his shoulder,
I said to him :
" Come, cousin, confess the subject of your woes.
I can see well enough that you are melancholy."
" It is true," he answered ; " melancholy is the
" Well, come now," said Saintot to him, " why
are you melancholy ? Tell me, I beg."
" You wish me to ? "
" I demand it."
" Well, I am melancholy . . . because the vicar
of my parish would not allow me to say mass."
Everybody began to laugh ; the Chevalier de
Roquelaure never smiled. When the merriment was
at its height he proceeded with his joke. . . .
There was a tear in his eye.
While we are on the subject of Chevalier Antoine
de Roquelaure, I will wind up this short sketch of his
character by a little adventure which made his reputa-
tion, and was sufficiently diverting.
It was the year which followed the coronation of
I had been sent for to M. de Remain ville, who was
at the point of death. He was a strangely constituted
fellow, who denied everything, God, the Virgin, and
the saints. He had never been to the confessional, and
he declared to everybody who cared to listen to him
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 333
that priests were but actors devoid of wit and gaiety.
When he was dying they asked him if he would not
like to see some holy person before he died.
" Certainly," said he ; " go fetch me the two Roque-
laures, the real one and the sham one. . . . They
are two good fellows, who will cheer me up a
" But, sir . . ." stammered the nurse.
" What ? "
" If I but dared . . ."
" What is it you have to say ? "
" I would observe to monsieur that in his posi-
tion . . ."
" In my position . . . ? "
" That perhaps it would be better . . ."
" Oh, plague take the rascal ! " cried Romainville
"one has to drag his words out of him. Speak out
what you have to say."
" I wish to say, monsieur, that having reached
your present stage, you would perhaps do better to
think a little about your soul. . . ."
" And then ? "
" About your spiritual welfare."
" And after that ? "
" About eternity."
" Did your hear what I said ? "
" Certainly, monsieur."
" Very well, do as I told you. I want to see the
two Roquelaures. Request them to attend im-
334 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
mediately. We will converse about religion. That
will give us something to do."
His orders were carried out, and I arrived with
my cousin Antoine.
But, at the same time, it appears that the nurse
had added something to his instructions, and had
gone in search of a confessor.
He was a Franciscan friar who had a great repu-
tation for the saving of souls. He used to brag that
hell was annoyed with him, because he injured it by
obtaining purgatory for the most hardened sinners.
Already the good monk was preparing to administer
the sacrament to the sick man, and Romainville, being
incapable of resistance, would probably have taken it,
when the Chevalier de Roquelaure made his ap-
" What do I see ? " he cried. " And what are
you doing there, Master Robin ? "
" You see," said the Franciscan, " that I am pre-
paring to give absolution to this repentant sinner."
" Tell that to somebody else," shouted the
Chevalier, and seizing a loaded gun, which he had
with him with the intention of going shooting, he
" Be off, my Father, be off, or I will kill you ! Our
friend has lived like a dog, he must die like a dog ! "
Romainville, at these words, sat up in the bed and
burst into a fit of laughter, so long and so loud, that
the abscess from which he was suffering burst, and
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 335
from the very next day he became convalescent and
Antoine de Roquelaure died young, and sincerely
repented at his last hour.
His religious sentiments edified those who were
present at his last moments.
Such a death after such a life ! . . . Such a
336 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The Chevalier de Sercy His arrival in Paris The Place Royale
His meeting with M. de Montmaur An officious friend
Confidences Offers of service Presentation of the Chevalier
at Madame de Lusignan's Mademoiselle Marie du Terrail
Sudden loves The ball Sentimental dialogue The
Chevalier de Sercy is the happiest of men They dance till
day The Chevalier thanks Montmaur with effusion The
singular manner with which Montmaur receives his thanks,
and a strange appearance, which would make one doubt the
purity of his intentions A little aside fitly confirms these
I CANNOT here omit a tragic event which put
both the court and the town in commotion at the
The Chevalier Arthur de Sercy, a young fellow
belonging to one of the noblest families of Brittany,
in the course of the year 1658, left the chateau of his
fathers in order to come to Paris to consummate a
brilliant marriage with Mademoiselle Marie du Ter-
rail, the sole heiress of the house of Velay.
Arthur did not know a soul in Paris ; he brought
no recommendation with him, except his good looks,
his well-known name, and a letter of introduction,
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 337
written by his uncle and guardian, to the family to
which he was about to become one of the most im-
portant members ; stay, he brought something more
... he brought one other thing, an excellent wit and
an immense belief in the innumerable and precious
qualities of his intended.
One evening the Chevalier found himself in the
streets of the capital, rather embarrassed, and not
quite knowing how to behave in the midst of the
constantly hurrying crowd which ever fills the streets
of Paris. He looked to the right and to the left, he
advanced one step and retreated two, then he thought
he would ask some obliging bystander, giving up the
idea as soon as it was formed. Wandering about
in this way, he came into a square space of about
Chance had brought him to the Place Royale.
There he looked at the circle of buildings that sur-
rounded him ; plunging his eyes into their dark
arches and perceiving the numerous streets which
led to the galleries, he seemed in the position of a
man who, being unable to choose in ten different
ways, was unable to make up his mind.
In this sort of situation the most agreeable thing
that can happen to an irresolute man is to meet some-
one who will suggest to him some idea, and thus
compel him to make his choice.
This is what happened to the Chevalier Arthur.
It was after about a quarter of an hour, which
VOL. Ill 22
338 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
had been passed in marching about under the trees,
when he felt a hand upon his shoulder, and a voice
" Why, it is my dear Arthur ! "
He turned and answered :
" Why, it is you, dear Monsieur de Montmaur ? "
Then the two friends shook hands.
M. de Montmaur had passed three months in
Brittany in the preceding year, and during his stay
had become very intimate with the Chevalier ; on his
return to Paris, he had been appointed Master of
Requests, but that did not change his character in
the least, which was one of the gayest it is possible to
imagine ; he was even too gay sometimes, as the end
of my story will show. De Montmaur's reception
of him seemed so cordial to Arthur that he was
delighted to have met him, and he immediately de-
termined to confide in this friend, who seemed sent
by heaven, the entire serious details of his position.
The questions of Montmaur aided the intentions of
the Chevalier, and, at the end of an hour, he had told
his friend, who had consented to be his guide, his
uncle's intentions, the motive of his journey, and the
impatience with which he was waiting to see the
young girl to whom he was to be presented, who was
his destined bride, and of whom he had heard the
best possible reports.
Montmaur listened to the confidences of the Che-
valier very attentively, and as soon as he had done
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 339
speaking, he seemed to collect his thoughts with great
gravity, and at length answered very seriously :
" My dear Arthur, let me offer you my most sin-
cere compliments ; the choice your uncle has made of
Mademoiselle Marie du Terrail is a certain proof of
his profound wisdom and of his friendship for you.
Mademoiselle du Terrail, whom I know well, is a girl
who is as pretty as she is witty, and if you will accept
my services, it shall be my business to present you to
her to-morrow evening."
" I should have wished," said Arthur, " to first
deliver to her father the letter of which I am the
" That letter is perfectly useless just at present,"
answered M. de Montmaur. " M. du Terrail is liv-
ing just now on an estate which he has in the
Pyrenees. His only daughter is here ; he has placed
her with a friend of his, Madame de . . ."
Montmaur hesitated. Arthur gave him a ques-
" De Lusignan," said Montmaur, finishing his
sentence, " and it is to her house I will take you
Arthur accepted with delight the amiable pro-
posals of the Master of Requests. He begged him
also to suggest a good hostelry, which Montmaur did
with perfect grace, insisting at the same time that the
Chevalier should promise to breakfast with him the
following morning. Things being thus settled, the
34O SECRET MEMOIRS OF
pair separated. The Chevalier took possession of a
room in a furnished house in the Rue Saint- Antoine,
which Montmaur had recommended to him as highly
respectable, and he went to sleep, pleasant dreams
crowning his repose. In his dreams he already saw
himself the husband of a wealthy woman, who was
also young and pretty. . . . His arrival in Paris had
been heralded under excellent auspices, and this
happy beginning had doubled his courage. . . .
As for M. de Montmaur, who, as has been pre-
viously said, was already known at that time as a
joyous companion rather inclined to tricks and prac-
tical joking, he went home radiant, his tongue in his
cheek and rubbing his hands. The next morning the
Chevalier Arthur and M. de Montmaur breakfasted
together ; as had been arranged, the meal was made
merry by gay cordiality, and they drank excellent
wines. The Chevalier pestered his friend with ques-
tions as to the best course of conduct he ought to
pursue during his stay in Paris, having regard princi-
pally to the object of importance which had brought
him there. Montmaur had an answer for everything.
But, above all, it was when speaking of his fiancee, that
the fountains of the Chevalier's speech were opened.
Impatient already, so to say, fascinated in anticipa-
tion, he wanted to know what her figure was like ;
of what colour was her hair ; if her eyes were blue,
black or grey ; in a word, if she deserved all the
praises of her beauty which he had heard. The
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 341
replies of Montmaur were, as must be said, the most
agreeable and reassuring in the world. The Chevalier
found the time pass very slowly till evening. He felt
restless, burning with fever, unhappy. . . . The day
seemed a century to him.
Evening came at length, and we leave the reader
to fancy the sort of toilet made by our gullible lover.
He took two good hours over it. Montmaur had
promised to call for him in a coach ; but long before
the time agreed upon, and at every sound of wheels
he heard in the street, the Chevalier would rush to
the window, beaming with hope till the passing coach
reached his door, sad and melancholy as it passed it
by. At length, punctual to his appointment, Mont-
maur appeared, and Arthur was obliged to confess his
friend's exact punctuality.
They started. How the heart of the Chevalier
The Hotel Lusignan was situated about the
middle of the Rue Saint - Antoine. They soon
Elegant chandeliers hung from ceilings on which
the brushes of the masters of the art of painting had
depicted pleasing mythological subjects. The flames
of wax candles were reflected in mirrors as in an end-
less illumination, and already a number of women,
sparkling with gold or ornamented with flowers, filled
the rooms. It was a magnificent sight ; it was like a
342 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The Chevalier, overcome by his feelings, was
thoroughly disposed to be favourably impressed ; flung
into the delightful scene before his eyes, the intoxica-
tion of his heart was naturally doubled. He allowed
himself to be led with blind carelessness, having per-
fect confidence in the success of the matter he had
set his heart on. It seemed to him in the middle
of this seductive and perfumed crowd that every
hand was stretched to him in welcome, that all eyes
looked on him as a tender lover, and that everyone
smiled. His presentation seemed like a dream.
Why wish to awaken, when one's slumber is so
Nevertheless, in the midst of all this peaceable
delight, his one idea pursued him.
" And will you not show me Mademoiselle Marie
du Terrail," said he in a whisper to Montmaur.
" She has not arrived," replied the Master of
Requests, " she will be here directly."
" Well, since she is not yet arrived, my dear
Monsieur de Montmaur, won't you give me a little
more information about her."
" Information ? "
" What I wish to say is, tell me about her
physiognomy, moral as well as physical."
" Question me ; I am absolutely at your service."
" Good ; you told me that Mademoiselle Marie
du Terrail is witty. There are many kinds of wit.
Are you sufficiently acquainted with hers to gratify
my impatience on this point."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 343
" Her wit, my dear friend," said Montmaur,
weighing his words well, " is the wit of the woman
of the world, capable of appreciating all that is fine,
all that is noble, in fact, all that has a universally
recognised value. I do not say that her talent is
the talent of the Agnes of our excellent Moliere.
You are a man of sense, and you would distrust a
virtue so exaggerated as to make you suspect the
deception of simple people by means of an adroitly-
played comedy. On the contrary, you may perhaps
think her manner a little too lively for a person of
her age and condition, but that is due, doubtless, to
the education she has received, a singular education
devised by her father, thanks to which Mademoiselle
Marie du Terrail has become, so to say, a child
of nature, as simple in the ideas which she puts forth
as in the impressions she receives."
" You have succeeded in thoroughly piquing my
curiosity," said M. de Sercy,
" In conclusion," continued Montmaur, " don't let
any little peculiarities which she, in your eyes, may
be guilty of upset you ; to judge her you must not
do it as the Breton nobleman, used to your wearying,
stiff, provincial society. At times, perhaps, she will
appear to you gay and careless enough to petrify
you with astonishment. But these are but summer
lightnings. The foundation of her character is good-
ness of soul and boundless devotion. She never
bargains when she can be useful to someone she
344 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
likes ; and though she is very young, she can boast
of having already inspired more than one sentiment
of esteem and gratitude.
The Chevalier de Sercy was for a long while lost
in thought. At length, seizing the hand of Montmaur
with effusion, he cried :
" I am enchanted with what you tell me ! "
" I am delighted to hear it."
" It is impossible for you to know, my friend, how
the portrait which you have drawn has delighted and
impressed me. I see one dominant trait frankness ;
and, since you reminded me just now that I was
a Breton nobleman, you ought to know the rate at
which we, children of the ancient Armorica, value
that noble quality. Often in our eyes it is worth
every other. The most beautiful woman in the world
would lose all charm for me if I thought her capable
of a lie, and I would willingly pardon certain faults
were they confessed. As for her careless and frivo-
lous air, should I be mad enough to look on it
as a crime ? At her age, gaiety and carelessness,
are they not gifts from heaven ? Far be it from me
to reproach her with them. Besides, this disposition
of her girlish spirit seems to me an excellent augury
for her future. May she long keep that girlish
frivolity which is the patent of her innocence. . . .
As one grows older, one grows reasonable soon
enough. You say also she is good and kind. I
recognise her, dear Monsieur de Montmaur, from
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 345
the first lines of your sketch. The lovableness of
her character indicates the sweet qualities of her
heart, and if it is true that, as you assure me,
Mademoiselle Marie du Terrail has a knowledge of
the noble and the good, she ought to be capable
of loving. ..."
" Oh ! as to that, I can guarantee it ! "
" It remains to be seen if she will think me
worthy . . ."
" Anxious already ! . . . Good God ! calm your-
self ; this isn't your first affair, surely ; you are bound
to triumph in the end ! "
" Do you think so ? "
" I am sure of it."
" Now," said the Chevalier de Sercy with childlike
anxiety, " I have a confession to make, dear Monsieur
" Of what ? "
" I am afraid."
" Afraid of what ? "
" I am afraid that the beauty of Mademoiselle du
Terrail may be less than that which I have dreamt
of. And it will be your fault Montmaur, your fault ;
for if the colours which you have used have been
lively in your description of her mental virtues, you
have used as strong ones regarding her physical per-
fections. Have you flatterred my hopes too much ? "
" Do you wish me to speak frankly ? "
" I beg that you will do so."
346 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Well then, I have not done her justice . . .
yes ... I have not done justice to the truth."
" Can it be possible ? "
" It is as I have the honour of telling you."
" She is pretty, then ? "
" Pretty ! what a cold expression ! . . . That is
how a marble statue would talk."
" Is she handsome ? "
" Far handsomer than you can possibly suppose.
Give the rein to your wildest imaginations, happiest
of lovers ! They will all be realised."
" Ah ! pardon me," observed M. de Sercy, " I am
terribly particular, you know. ..."
" That is a proof of your good taste."
" You are not perhaps aware, there are some
women who greatly please other men that I should
not even look at."
" I assure you, you will never grow tired of
looking at this one."
" You delight me, dear Monsieur de Montmaur.
Listen to me one moment and I will prove to you
what I have been saying. We are here surrounded
by a number of beautiful women who will serve our
purpose ; let us criticise them, if you will permit it,
and then you will be convinced in hearing me express
my opinion of each one of them, that it needs to
conquer a heart like mine certain attractions which
are more rarely to be found than you would think."
" Plague take it! you alarm me," said Montmaur.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 347
" Madame de Lusignan is reputed to assemble at her
house all the prettiest women in Paris. If those you
see here do not already fairly satisfy you, I shall
have to accuse myself of boastfulness. Let us
commence with the mistress of the house ; she is a
very handsome brunette, you will allow ? A trifle too
plump perhaps, but well-made and crisp enough to
make a monk of Citeaux hunger for her ! Now what
do you think of her, Chevalier ? "
" She is a little too robust," he answered with a
smile, " I should not have much confidence in her
tenderness. She is too healthy to love with passion."
" That is no reason," replied Montmaur. " I know
people, myself among others, who drink well, eat
still better, and yet manage to be quits with the god
Cupid. You can believe me that the two things
easily go together. But I see what you want, you
fancy a frailer, a more ideal, a slenderer beauty . . ."
" I confess it."
" Well, just cast your eyes in that direction and
notice that light shadow, which seems to glide over
the polished floor, which she hardly touches with her
tiny feet. Her name is Madame de Belesbat. Her
husband, who also looks like a ghost, has received the
name of the Handsome Shade ! For the husband of
a nymph, he is rather shadowy ; don't you think
so ? ... But to come back to Madame de Belesbat,
she has a neck like a swan's ; don't you admire the
grace of it, and that languishing eye of hers which is
348 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
so killing, the little frown on her forehead, that hair,
so artfully disarranged and yet so symmetrically dis-
ordered, that mouth, with its melancholy smile, that
sad, yet provoking pose, and lastly, that slow and
queen-like walk of hers, what do you think of it all ? "
" I think," said the Chevalier de Sercy, " the
effect is studied, that there is more art than nature,
more pretension than ingenuousness. That lady has
the effect, on my mind, of one who plays a part, she
sacrifices everything to one purpose, which I think is
not very difficult to guess. I may be mistaken, the
accusation I am about to make may be too severe,
but I look upon Madame de Belesbat as a coquette."
" I swear to you, you are not far wrong, Chevalier ;
I see that you are a judge of character."
" No, I merely judge according to my impressions."
Montmaur made an imperceptible grimace, as
though he had not been over-satisfied to find so
much wisdom and clear-sightedness in his friend the
Chevalier de Sercy. Then, as though he wished to
try a last experiment, indicating to him by a gesture
a lady who was seated near the fireplace, and who
with lowered eyes was toying with a fan, he asked
" Have you sufficient confidence, you who are so
susceptible in these matters, in the ingenuous phy-
siognomy of that lady who is so rosy, so fresh, so
attractive, who, in her little corner, dreams of I know
not what, while thinking of I know not whom ? "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 349
The Chevalier gazed at the lady for some time,
and at length answered M. de Montmaur :
" She seems to me to have one virtue, from which
we may justly infer several others; that virtue is
modesty. She sits apart, she speaks little, and seems
to love to sit and think. She is a woman who lives
according to the dictates of her heart. Have I judged
her correctly, dear Monsieur de Montmaur ? "
" Oh ! perfectly, perfectly correctly," answered
the latter with a strongly marked gesture of appro-
But at the same time a smile of amusement
showed itself upon his face.
That lady whom he had just pointed out to the.
Chevalier de Sercy, who had so valiantly chanted her
praises, was Madame d'Orgeres, whose gallant ad-
ventures had been so much talked about, that her
husband had obtained a decree of separation against
her for the last two years. This time the poor
Chevalier was completely hoaxed.
Here the conversation was interrupted by Madame
de Lusignan, who came to make the most gracious
and obliging advances to the Chevalier. She spoke
at length of the honourable family of Du Terrail,
with which she considered he ought to think himself
very fortunate to contract an alliance. Above all, she
spoke to him of Mademoiselle Marie du Terrail, his
betrothed, whose acquaintance he was now about to
make under the most satisfactory auspices.
35O SECRET MEMOIRS OF
"At an entertainment, at a ball," said Madame de
Lusignan, " is after all the best place to meet for the
first time in one's life. The remembrance of that
interview and of its joyous surroundings can never be
forgotten. And besides, the handsome dresses which
you see enhance the beauty of their wearers ! "
" Oh ! without a single ornament," cried Mont-
maur, " Mademoiselle du Terrail would surpass all
her rivals. Is it not so ? "
" Surely, surely," replied Madame de Lusignan,
nodding her head approvingly.
" She is very late," sadly observed the Chevalier.
" I must confesSj" said Madame de Lusignan,
" that that is a little my fault. As at the present
moment Mademoiselle Marie du Terrail is alone in
Paris, I consider it a duty, whenever she comes to
spend the evening here, to fetch her and send her
home in my own carriage. To-day, by an unfortunate
fatality which I regret, my coachman did not return
at his reguiar time. I had him searched for, they
hunted the neighbourhood for him, and found him,
not ten minutes ago, under the table of a wineshop, a
few doors from here ; the rascal was dead drunk.
One of the grooms immediately . offered to take his
place ; I was only too glad to accept his services. In
fine, the horses were put to ... they left here but a
moment or two ago, and I told them to make all
The Chevalier blushed deeply, as though he were
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 351
ashamed to betray the secret sentiment which filled
There was nothing to do but to have patience.
Arthur had to make the best of it. The mistress of
the house, Madame de Lusignan, gave him no time
to grow bored. Being a woman of wit, she chatted
to him continuously, not of herself, nor of her guests,
nor of Paris, but about Brittany, about his family,
about his prospects ; in one word, about whatever
was really likely to interest him. The Chevalier
could only prove his gratitude by not feeling bored,
which he certainly would have been but for her
manoeuvre. Madame de Lusignan understood and
appreciated him. Only women know how to deal
with lovers by means of little delicate sentiments
which gratify them.
At length a murmur of admiration arose near the
door. Chevalier Arthur divined instinctively that no
one but his bethrothed could produce such an effect.
He turned and took a step in advance. A footman at
that moment announced :
" Mademoiselle Marie du Terrail! "
The crowd closed round her, and Arthur, struck
by her charms, remained stock still, with staring
eyes, lost in the profound delights of happy astonish-
" Now, then ! " whispered Montmaur into his ear.
" What do you think of her ? "
The Chevalier did not answer, but his delighted
eyes spoke for him.
352 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Mademoiselle Marie du Terrail was really a
delicious creature ; her skin was white as ivory, her
eyes were shaped like almonds, her magnificent hair
flowed in innumerable ringlets upon her glorious
shoulders; everything about her indicated freshness,
perfection, and grace. Perhaps the fire which sparkled
in her eyes was not precisely of that quality that one
ordinarily expects to find in young girls ; but the
thing had been too well planned, the Chevalier's
heart was too completely caught for him to make
such a reflection. He saw but a miracle ; nothing
more, nothing less.
The formal presentation took place in a few
minutes, through the good offices of the mistress of
the house, who was most kind and good-natured.
The Chevalier Arthur, though he tried to carry it off,
trembled like a child. As for Mademoiselle Marie du
Terrail, who was more able to master her emotion, she
received him with noble ease and gracious amiability.
Soon the violins gave the signal for the dance, and by
chance or because it was planned, it happened that the
betrothed pair were already holding each other's hands.
They opened the ball in the midst of a paean of praise,
as flattering for the lady as for her cavalier.
It was a glorious and exciting entertainment. The
pride of the Chevalier equalled his happiness. Every
eye was fixed on him ; he was evidently the hero of
the ball, and never had Paris, even in his most ex-
cited dreams, appeared to him so full of seductive joys.
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 353
After the dance Arthur led Marie back to her
place, and took the liberty of seating himself by her
side; the charming girl made room for him, which
enabled the pair to talk without fearing that their
conversation might be overheard.
The Chevalier, novice though he was in the
philosophy of gallantry, found himself much more
eloquent than he had expected.
"I have always mistrusted," he said to Marie,
" that love which is arranged beforehand by one's
relatives and which ends in a marriage, usually an
unhappy one, in which neither of the high contract-
ing parties can have the right of reproaching the
other for his or her misfortune, since neither of
them were consulted in the matter. I am all the
more astonished at the greatness of my good
fortune, though I did not know it, which has des-
tined her, to whom I would have consecrated
my life, for me. Chance has played the part of
Providence, mademoiselle, and I feel that the remem-
brance of this evening will never be effaced from
" For my part," answered Mademoiselle Marie du
Terrail, " it is but right that I should confess that I
am gratified at the course of events which has
brought us together, and since the mutual wishes of
our families ordain that we should be frank to each
other, I avow to you, Chevalier, that I, too, shall
never forget the day of our meeting."
VOL. in 23
354 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
We said just now that the seats of the Chevalier
and Marie touched. It was quite needless this time,
for it was not with the idea of dancing together that
their hands met in secret and that their fingers were
interlaced in a nervous pressure whose elastic com-
munion went straight to the heart.
Already these two understood each other ; already
their hearts communicated by that mysterious sym-
pathy which is sometimes the result of a single
glance ; already they had addressed the same vows
to heaven ; already they formed the same projects for
Never had so pure a joy inundated the ardent
soul of the Chevalier.
The joyous signal of the orchestra interrupted
this mute and eloquent conversation. It was heart-
breaking for the poor Chevalier, for he had to
conform to conventional rules, and the beautiful
Marie, were it only in order not to make herself
remarkable by a ridiculously exclusive preference,
found herself obliged to dance with someone else.
Nevertheless, as love is never at the end of its
resources, Arthur set to admiring his betrothed when
she had joined the dancers, and could in this way
see from where he was watching her that he had
chosen one who possessed a thousand beauties and
graces which till now had escaped his notice.
At such a delicious fete one forgets the flight
of time. The rays of daylight, beginning to^stream
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 355
through the window-panes, gave the signal for de-
parture. He had to tear himself away. The eyes
of the Chevalier and of Marie met in intoxicating
Arthur met Montmaur at the door.
" Ah ! my dear friend," he cried as he embraced
him, " what happiness ! How beautiful she is ! "
" I have not deceived you, then ? "
" No, assuredly."
" Was I right when I said that my praise of her
was below the reality ? "
" You were, indeed ! "
" But you are excited, my dear Chevalier. . . ."
" Does that surprise you ? "
" Not the least in the world. Your enthusiasm
would be unnatural were it not that the corporeal
charms of that delightful girl . . . Ha, ha! ...
your heart is caught, then ? " added Montmaur, with
a little smile, whose expression would have much
puzzled Arthur had he but noticed it.
" Oh ! my friend," cried our lover excitedly, " to-
night I have made a provision of happiness which
will last me the rest of my life ! . . ."
"And I I have enough pocket-money for a
week, for I have won a hundred louis at basset
from President Tambonneau."
And Montmaur, having said these words, went
off, throwing a sly look at the Chevalier.
" Poor boy ! " he thought with a smile, " if he
356 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
only knew what is going on and whither his rare
and perfect love may lead him ! S'death ! It is
working capitally, and, if it goes on as it has
begun, we shall have some real fun ! "
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 357
The results of the loves of the Chevalier de Sercy with Made-
moiselle Marie du Terrail Visit to the hotel Lusignan
The jokers Sadness of the young Marie The Chevalier's
suspicions Promised revelation of a secret The rendez-
vous given by a betrothed to her future husband The
interview Hesitations An avowal Montmaur's joke is
disclosed Stupefaction of the Chevalier A pretty woman's
humble confession Good advice The Chevalier takes to
flight He goes in search of his friend Montmaur Five
o'clock in the morning The meeting of the joker and the
serious man A little friendly walk on the bank of the
Seine A duel at daybreak Montmaur is punished for
his joke A tragic ending Marion Delorme's melancholy
THE visits of the Chevalier to the hotel Lusignan
became very frequent indeed. Every evening one
was certain to see him there, passing down the Rue
Saint-Antoine at nightfall, and entering that pleasant
house only to leave it on the stroke of midnight.
It happened, however, that he was late one day.
He had received letters from Brittany ; in one of them
his uncle gently scolded him for being a laggard as
to the matter for which he had come to Paris, and in
it the good man warned him with an old gentleman's
complaisant prolixity against the variety of dangers
SECRET MEMOIRS OF
to which a young man without experience and without
friends is exposed in the great city. The reading of
this letter, ornamented, as it was here and there, with
obscure passages, the meaning of which he found
it impossible to penetrate, this letter detained him
an entire hour.
Let us see what was taking place at the hotel
Lusignan, where he was expected with lively im-
" Ah ! ah ! ah ! " roared Montmaur in a Homeric
burst of laughter, " can you say that you do not find
it a pleasant, an admirable, a ravishing joke ? "
" I think," said the mistress of the house, " that
Cyrano de Bergerac, of comic memory, never invented
a droller and more amusing mystification."
" And the poor Chevalier, he takes it thoroughly
" What fire ! what poesy ! " cried the society poet,
who was dying of laughter ..." never did Heloi'se
cause her Abelard to heave such tender sighs."
" And when one thinks," said Montmaur, "that the
thing has already lasted for two whole months ! . . ."
" And it is not nearly over yet," added Madame
de Lusignan. " M. Arthur is a lover of robust con-
stitution, and with natures like his, a little severity
is sufficient to keep his flame glowing for ever. . . .
Also, so long as our dear Marie shows herself ferociously
virtuous . . ."
At these words, which drew attention to the
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 359
heroine of the romance which formed the subject
of this conversation, seated at the table Mademoiselle
du Terrail might have been perceived, very seriously
occupied in reading a book.
" But what are you doing there, all alone ? " cried
Madame de Lusignan, addressing her. ..." And
why don't you come and chat with us ? We are
talking about things that interest you."
" We are celebrating your triumph," added Mont-
But Marie never turned her head.
" She allows us to sing her praises, and considers
herself modest in abstaining from contributing to
them. She is very clever."
At that moment a sound was heard in the ante-
chamber, and a footman flinging open the door of
the saloon, announced :
" Monsieur Arthur de Sercy ! "
There was a slight tittering, but everybody checked
it and put on the mask of an insignificance and serious
politeness. At the moment the Chevalier had entered,
the book fell from the hands of Mademoiselle Marie
du Terrail, and her eyes were turned towards him
Her eyes were red with tears.
The entertainment was not so cheerful as usual.
Arthur thought of his uncle's letter, and cudgelled
his brains to discover its meaning. What was he
to think ? Had he not himself handed to Montmaur
360 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
a letter addressed to his uncle which the former had
promised to cause to be delivered by a sure hand, in
which he had described to him his first interviews
with Mademoiselle du Terrail, and in which he had
expressed his earnest desire to come to a definite
engagement with her? What had become of that
letter ? Had it never been despatched ? Had Mont-
maur lost it ? Or had his uncle, from some motive
which it was impossible for him to divine, made a
pretence of not having received it ?
These reflections, it may be easily understood, threw
the Chevalier into a state of perplexity. He had a wor-
ried look . . . and his embarrassment was visible.
Marie, on her part, seemed sad and preoccupied.
She, ordinarily so laughing, so bright, only answered
questions which were asked her in monosyllables.
Her voice was strangely sad, and her eyes, restless
and full of trouble, never for an instant left the
Madame de Lusignan, without understanding the
reason of this constraint which had gradually taken
possession of all her guests, felt that it was necessary
to put an end to it by some sort of distraction.
Dances were organised, the musicians played, some
sat down to cards, and very soon, if there was no
real pleasure, the shadow of it reappeared.
Montmaur, in his quality of gay companion, took
all sorts of trouble to cheer the faces which had
become momentarily clouded. He laughed, he joked,
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 361
he chatted ; his wit was appreciated, and by well-
toned anecdotes, by well-directed witticisms and by
fun, which, if a little forced, was still amusing enough,
succeeded in restoring to Madame de Lusignan's
guests that gay and burning cheerfulness which was
habitual and, in a way, indispensable to them.
At last there came a moment when the Chevalier,
finding himself close to Marie, appeared to forget all
his troubles, to regain his gaiety. She was so beauti-
ful, the melancholy which showed itself upon her
brow but ornamented her with an added grace, so
that the man to whom all these charms were so soon
to belong could not do otherwise than yield to so
potent a seduction. The face of the Chevalier once
more became wreathed in smiles.
But as his countenance grew serene, as the smiles
came back to his lips, Marie grew sad. At length
she led him aside and said :
" Chevalier, I must speak to you alone ! "
" To me ? "
" To you. I have a secret to tell you."
" A secret ! . . . Which concerns you ? "
" Yes." Mademoiselle du Terrail's bosom heaved
violently. Her respiration became hurried and quick,
her emotion such that she could hardly speak.
"What is the matter, dear Marie, what is the
matter ? "
" Nothing. . . . When I have told you . . . that
which I have to tell . . I shall feel better. . . ."
362 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" But speak, then . . . speak, I beseech you ! "
" No . . . not here . . . not now. . . ."
" But . . . when shall I see you alone ? Where
shall we meet ? "
Mademoiselle du Terrail reflected a moment, and
" To-night . . . yes . . . yes, it is to-night that
I must speak. ... If I delay, perhaps I shall have
lost the courage to do so. Listen, Monsieur Arthur.
When you have reached home, open your casement
and remain upon the watch. One of my women will
give you a signal ; you will come down, and she will
guide you. . . ."
" Whither ? "
" To my house."
" To your house ! Don't you live here here, at
Madame de Lusignan's, during the absence of your
relatives ? "
"No more words ; will you come ? "
" Will I come ! Can you doubt it, Marie ? "
" 'Tis well. We are waited for, for the quad-
rille. We must not keep people waiting, Chevalier."
Never had Arthur felt so terribly puzzled. The
end of the entertainment seemed to him as if it would
never come. At length the guests began to take
their leave, and he returned to his lodging, lost in
thought, declining to converse with anyone, particu-
larly with Montmaur, whose jokes wearied him. As
soon as he arrived in his lodging, which looked upon
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 363
the Rue Saint-Antoine, he punctiliously carried out
the instructions he had received from Marie, and,
placing himself at his window, searched the heavens
for the star which without doubt answered mys-
teriously to the secret beatings of his heart, while at
the same time he awaited with impatience the pro-
The hour of one sounded from a neighbouring
church, when he perceived an old woman glide
along the houses. She counted their numbers one
by one, and at length halted before his dwelling.
Arthur lived upon the first floor ; she soon perceived
" Monsieur Chevalier Arthur de Sercy," said she,
"is it you ? "
" Are you ready ? "
" I will follow you."
And the Chevalier rushed down the staircase and
reached the street. Then he showered numberless
questions on the old woman. So numerous were his
questions, that they would have been difficult to
answer intelligently ; but the old woman simplified
the matter, for she made no attempt to answer them
Arthur followed the messenger in silence.
They did not walk far. At the angle of a street,
the name of which Arthur did not know, stood a lofty
carriage entrance, surmounted by elegant sculptures.
364 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
The door softly opened, and the Chevalier entered.
He had to mount a staircase of some twenty steps
in the dark. Then another door silently opened, and
the old woman having disappeared, he found himself
alone in a delicious boudoir, lighted by a lamp hanging
from the ceiling, the pale and mysterious rays of
which were spread, like a transparent veil, over mag-
nificent velvet-covered furniture sparkling with pearls
A woman was there who was dressed in a simple
white robe, and luxuriously stretched upon the sofa.
It was Marie.
She rose ; she came to meet the Chevalier de
Sercy, and begged him to seat himself at her side.
The Chevalier gazed upon her in alarm, for she
was pale, depressed, and suffering ; her breathing was
painfully irregular. It was easy to see from her atti-
tude that she was the prey of some secret ill, whose
sharp stabs caused her continual and insupportable
The Chevalier was altogether taken aback.
Mademoiselle du Terrail was the first to speak.
" Chevalier," said she, " you must have thought
me very shameless when I asked you to come to my
house. But I had to, I had to silence my scruples in
order to do my duty. Permit me to ask you one
question. . . . How do you love me ? "
" How do I love you ? " cried M. de Sercy with
enthusiasm. " I love you as one loves the angels,
Marie ; as one loves purity, innocence, and virtue."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 365
" I will complete your thought," burst in Made-
moiselle du Terrail ; " you love me as men love the
young girl of their first dreams, the white and virgin
child, who knows nothing of the things of this world,
whose innocence protects her against any evil thought,
and whom you would lead to the altar, because you
hope that once the benediction of heaven had been
received, and the priest had closed his book, to lead
into your home a pure and spotless virgin, to whom
you would be proud and happy to give your name.
That is how you love me, Chevalier, is it not ? "
" Doubtless, Marie ... I do love you so. Do
you doubt my love ? "
" It is because I am sure of it," replied Marie,
" that we must meet no longer, that we must separate
... for ever ! "
"Separate! See each other no more! ... It
may not be."
" It must be, Chevalier."
" But why ? "
" Because ! . . . because ! Chevalier . . . one
more question. . . . What think you of the scan-
dalous lives of certain women, who, stripping them-
selves of that sacred modesty which is the greatest
glory of their sex, sell themselves to the world as a
show, and only use their charms to carry ruin and
disorder into every class of society ? "
" Marie ! why ask me such things ? Such women,
I hate them, I detest them ! "
366 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
" Arthur, with what sort of sentiments do these
brilliant courtesans, whose lives are one long series
of joys which are constantly renewed, and of shame
patiently submitted to, inspire you ? "
" With but one," answered Arthur, "... con-
" "Tis well ! Leave me, Chevalier, quit this house,
go from hence, without looking behind you; above all,
forget the foolish love which once filled your heart,
for I, for I am . . ."
" You are ? . . . finish . . . who are you ? "
" I am ... no ... I can never dare . . ."
" Who are you ? " cried the Chevalier de Sercy with
" I am I am Marion Delorme."
The Chevalier sprang to his feet and remained
fixed like a statue with glaring eyes, his arms stretched
" Oh ! pardon me," cried Marion with lowered
eyes, " I am not so guilty as you might think . . .
no ! ... I am thought as light and silly . . . but my
heart, my heart is not innately wicked ; never would
it have occurred to me to torture a holy and noble
soul like yours, Chevalier, if I had not been compelled,
if I had not been made to accept a part in the
miserable comedy which has been played at your
expense. It is Monsieur de Montmaur who is the
head of it. It is he who proposed as a joke to make
me pass in your eyes for Mademoiselle du Terrail ;
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 367
this mystification seemed to him excessively witty
and diverting, and was received with universal
applause. I lent myself to it. ... My remorse will
never cease. . . . For, on the day after I saw you,
I understood the nobility and beauty of your soul,
and ... I loved you. . . ."
The Chevalier stepped back a pace.
" I see now . . . you look on my love with horror,
and you are right. . . . Hate me ... do not refuse
me one favour I am going to ask you."
She drew him towards her on the sofa. He did
not resist ; he sat down ; she took one of his hands and
pressed it with ardour :
" I told you that I have already expiated my
fault by remorse ; it is the truth, I swear it ! I can
be reproached with many faults, with many vices ; I
do not defend myself. But there is one thing I wish
to convince you of, and that is, that I am frank enough
at heart, and that I have suffered much in making
you love me, by means of a lie, and now, I feel the
dreadful results of that lie, when I tell you who I am,
and thus put an end to the unworthy deception of
which you have been the victim. And now, I want
you to do me a favour, Chevalier. Be sad no longer !
tell me that you do not hate me, and that you will
consent to forget what has passed between us. You
can never know how much I should have suffered,
and I had to reproach myself with having rendered
you unhappy, and above all, of preventing the realisa-
368 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
tion of the proposed marriage which has brought you
to Paris. I know the reputation of Mademoiselle du
Terrail; she is, I am told, a charming girl, whose
beauty equals her virtue. M. de Villarceaux is
intimately connected with her family. Allow me to
present you to him, in order that he may present
you to her to-morrow. It is a union which will do
you honour and will help you at court. If it be true
that I have inspired in you any trifling spark of love,
the avowal of my name should be enough to blot out
every trace of it. ... Forget the false Marie du
Terrail in order to devote yourself entirely to the
real one. . . . Farewell, Chevalier; I told you just
now to hate me ... to ask you to do that is to
possess a strength of will, which I do not . . . Oh,
pardon me rather ! . . . Oh ! say, say that you have
The Chevalier de Sercy did not answer, but by an
inclination of the head he signed to Marion that he
" And . . . will you follow the advice that I have
taken the liberty of giving you."
He did not answer her, but raised his eyes to
heaven in sign of doubt.
Then he gently disengaged Marion's fingers.
She wished to hold him back, but he rushed
towards the staircase.
A moment after, he was walking hurriedly towards
the square of the H6tel-de-Ville, and hammered
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 369
violently at the door of Montmaur's house. Was it
that the Master of Requests slept soundly? was it that
he was accustomed to be disturbed after mid-
night ? ... in any case, nothing moved. Montmaur
was his own door-porter, partly because he was very
avaricious, partly because he was the only person liv-
ing in the house, which was his own. The Chevalier
knew this, and thought, doubtless, he was enjoying
pleasant dreams and that he did not want to be
He made up his mind to wait, and for that purpose
sat himself down upon a block of stone just opposite
At five o'clock in the morning he recommenced
his hammering on the door.
Montmaur came down, and opening the door a
little upon the chain, demanded the name of his
" It is a friend," replied the Chevalier, " a friend
who is particularly anxious to see you, in order to ex-
press his gratitude for what you have done for him."
Montmaur poked out his head.
" Ah, it is the good Sercy ! Have you something
very pressing to tell me ? "
" Oh, yes ! something very pressing ! "
" Good ! Wait for me a moment. ... I will get
my clothes on and I am with you."
" Don't forget your sword," cried Arthur.
This suggestion was rather a shock to M. de
VOL. in 24
370 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
Montmaur. Nevertheless, as he was somewhat of a
coxcomb and a great boaster, he took care not to
show it, and quickly joined the Chevalier. Besides,
he hardly fancied that a simple practical joke would
have serious results, but his confidence was very con-
siderably shaken when he perceived the pale and
downcast face of the Chevalier de Sercy. These
signs were the reverse of reassuring, and they were
followed by other manifestations which caused any
remaining doubt as to the intentions of his young
friend to disappear altogether. The latter seized him
violently by the collar and dragged him to the steep
bank of the Seine, without giving him breathing time
or the chance of objecting.
Then Sercy loosened his hold of Montmaur, drew
his sword, and cried :
" On guard ! "
" Chevalier ! Chevalier ! " said Montmaur, " one
word of explanation ! "
" Not a syllable."
" But one does not fight without knowing why ! "
" Really ! For my part, I am going to give my-
self the pleasure of killing you without giving you the
reason. Everyone has his system ; that is mine."
" I have to deal with a madman ! I shall call for
help ! "
"Take care you don't have to do with a mur-
derer ... if you open your mouth I shall plunge my
sword in it up to the hilt."
THE DUG DE ROQUELAURE 371
And as the sword -point of the Chevalier was
already well-nigh tickling his throat, Montmaur drew
to defend himself. The combat did not last long.
Montmaur, after having parried two or three furious
thrusts from his adversary, was run through the
breast and fell.
The Chevalier calmly wiped his sword and stood
looking at his victim.
"That was a brave deed," said Montmaur, lean-
ing on one arm, "and you may well be proud of it,
Chevalier. I ask you what I have done . . ."
" What you have done, miserable wretch ! You
ask it of me what you -have done ! . . . I possessed a
heart, which I reserved for a being who was beautiful
and pure as the angels, and you caused me to give it
to a vile harlot, rotten with vice and debaucheries! . . .
That is why I have killed you ! . . . That is why I
am about to kill myself. ..."
" What ! Die ? " groaned Montmaur, attempting
to rise. " Die ! when you have just sent me to
hell ! It seems you are joking, and that your joke is
not a very generous one, Chevalier."
" It is but the simple truth, Monsieur de Mont-
maur ; from this moment it is no longer possible for
me to live."
" You haven't been so very unlucky after all,"
said Montmaur. " I don't suppose anyone else would
complain ! The lovely Marion has been your mis-
tress ! Marion, to whom everybody pays court, who
372 SECRET MEMOIRS OF
has the nobility and bourgeoisie at her feet ! And
does that prevent you, Chevalier, from marrying
Mademoiselle Marie du Terrail whenever you may
see fit ? "
" Yes, it does prevent me, Monsieur ! For that
Marion, whom I despise, I love ! That Marion, who
belongs to everybody, I desire for myself alone ! To
that Marion, for whom many have but a passing
fancy, I have given my whole heart, my whole
life ! . . . My heart is broken now ! My life is
now dishonoured ! and I get rid of it in order to feel
no longer the torments of jealousy, in order to have
no longer to blush for myself ! "
As he said these words, the Chevalier de Sercy
stabbed himself with his own sword and fell dead
without uttering a cry.
The blade had transfixed his heart.
To describe the stupefaction of Montmaur would
be truly impossible. This sight of the dead man
caused him to well-nigh lose his senses, badly hurt
as he was, his blood flowing from a deep wound.
He began to plaintively lament, and quickly fainted.
Happily for him, it was the hour at which the
Parisians begin to appear in the streets of the good
city of Paris. His groans were heard ; he was picked
up and cared for immediately, and little by little he
came back to life.
This episode, as can be fancied, formed an in-
exhaustible subject for the chatter of the day.
THE DUG DE KOQUELAURE 373
Montmaur was much blamed, so much so that for
a long while he felt no inclination for practical
joking. His last experiment had miserably failed.
As for Marion, she was sick with a mortal
sorrow, and at hearing the fatal news was dis-
solved in fountains of tears. She had conceived for
the Chevalier a real and devoted tenderness. She
voluntarily condemned herself, in view of the tragedy
that had taken place, to an absolute retreat, which
lasted for three months. For Marion Delorme three
months was a century, and she should be given
credit for a sacrifice which should have appeased
the shade of the poor Chevalier de Sercy.
END OF VOL. Ill