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    IV. La Toussaint

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    Chapter 4
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    Towards the autumn of 1601, when the affair of M. de Biron, which was so soon to fill the mouths of the vulgar, was already much in the minds of those whom the King honoured with his confidence, I was one day leaving the hall at the Arsenal, after giving audience to such as wished to see me, when Maignan came after me and detained me; reporting that a gentleman who had attended early, but had later gone into the garden, was still in waiting. While Maignan was still speaking the stranger himself came up, with some show of haste but none of embarrassment; and, in answer to my salutation and inquiry what I could do for him, handed me a letter. He had the air of a man not twenty, his dress was a trifle rustic; but his strong and handsome figure set off a face that would have been pleasing but for a something fierce in the aspect of his eyes. Assured that I did not know him, I broke the seal of his letter and found that it was from my old flame Madame de Bray, who, as Mademoiselle de St. Mesmin, had come so near to being my wife; as will be remembered by those who have read the early part of these memoirs.

    The young man proved to be her brother, whom she commended to my good offices, the impoverishment of the family being so great that she could compass no more regular method of introducing him to the world, though the house of St. Mesmin is truly respectable and, like my own, allied to several of the first consequence. Madame de Bray recalled our old tendresse to my mind, and conjured me so movingly by it--and by the regard which her family had always entertained for me--that I could not dismiss the application with the hundred others of like tenor that at that time came to me with each year. That I might do nothing in the dark, however, I invited the young fellow to walk with me in the garden, and divined, even before he spoke, from the absence of timidity in his manner, that he was something out of the common. "So you have come to Paris to make your fortune?" I said.

    "Yes, sir," he answered.

    "And what are the tools with which you propose to do it?" I continued, between jest and earnest.

    "That letter, sir," he answered simply; "and, failing that, two horses, two suits of clothes, and two hundred crowns."

    "You think that those will suffice?" I said, laughing.

    "With this, sir," he answered, touching his sword; "and a good courage."

    I could not but stand amazed at his coolness; for he spoke to me as simply as to a brother, and looked about him with as much or as little curiosity as Guise or Montpensier. It was evident that he thought a St. Mesmin equal to any man under the King; and that of all the St. Mesmins he did not value himself least.

    "Well," I said, after considering him, "I do not think that I can help you much immediately. I should be glad to know, however, what plans you have formed for yourself."

    "Frankly, sir," he said, "I thought of this as I travelled; and I decided that fortune can be won by three things--by gold, by steel, and by love. The first I have not, and for the last I have a better use. Only the second is left. I shall be Crillon."

    I looked at him in astonishment; for the assurance of his manner exceeded that of his words. But I did not betray the feeling. "Crillon was one in a million," I said drily.

    "So am I," he answered.

    I confess that the audacity of this reply silenced me. I reflected that the young man who--brought up in the depths of the country, and without experience, training or fashion--could so speak in the face of Paris was so far out of the common that I hesitated to dash his hopes in the contemptuous way which seemed most natural. I was content to remind him that Crillon had lived in times of continual war, whereas now we were at peace; and, bidding him come to me in a week, I hinted that in Paris his crowns would find more frequent opportunities of leaving his pockets than his sword its sheath.

    He parted from me with this, seeming perfectly satisfied with his reception; and marched away with the port of a man who expected adventures at every corner, and was prepared to make the most of them. Apparently he did not take my hint greatly to heart, however; for when I next met him, within the week, he was fashionably dressed, his hair in the mode, and his company as noble as himself. I made him a sign to stop, and he came to speak to me.

    "How many crowns are ]eft?" I said jocularly.

    "Fifty," he answered, with perfect readiness.

    "What!" I said, pointing to his equipment with something of the indignation I felt, "has this cost the balance?

    "No," he answered. "On the contrary, I have paid three months' rent in advance and a month's board at Zaton's; I have added two suits to my wardrobe, and I have lost fifty crowns on the dice."

    "You promise well!" I said.

    He shrugged his shoulders quite in the fashionable manner. "Always courage!" he said; and he went on, smiling.

    I was walking at the time with M. de Saintonge, and be muttered, with a sneer, that it was not difficult to see the end, or that within the year the young braggart would sink to be a gaming- house bully. I said nothing, but I confess that I thought otherwise; the lad's disposition of his money and his provision for the future seeming to me so remarkable as to set him above ordinary rules.

    From this time I began to watch his career with interest, and I was not surprised when, in less than a month, something fell out that led the whole court to regard him with a mixture of amusement and expectancy.

    One evening, after leaving the King's closet, I happened to pass through the east gallery at the Louvre, which served at that time as the outer antechamber, and was the common resort as well of all those idlers who, with some pretensions to fashion, lacked the entree, as of many who with greater claims preferred to be at their ease. My passage for a moment stilled the babel which prevailed. But I had no sooner reached the farther door than the noise broke out again; and this with so sudden a fury, the tumult being augmented by the crashing fall of a table, as caused me at the last moment to stand and turn. A dozen voices crying simultaneously, "Have a care!" and "Not here! not here!" and all looking the same way, I was able to detect the three principals in the fracas. They were no other than M. de St. Mesmin, Barradas--a low fellow, still remembered, who was already what Saintonge had prophesied that the former would become--and young St. Germain, the eldest son of M. de Clan.

    I rather guessed than heard the cause of the quarrel, and that St. Mesmin, putting into words what many had known for years and some made their advantage of, had accused Barradas of cheating. The latter's fury was, of course, proportioned to his guilt; an instant challenge while I looked was his natural answer. This, as he was a consummate swordsman, and had long earned his living as much by fear as by fraud, should have been enough to stay the greediest stomach; but St. Mesmin was not content. Treating the knave, the word once passed, as so much dirt, he transferred his attack to St. Germain, and called on him to return the money he had won by betting on Barradas.

    St. Germain, a young spark as proud and headstrong as St. Mesmin himself, and possessed of friends equal to his expectations, flung back a haughty refusal. He had the advantage in station and popularity; and by far the larger number of those present sided with him. I lingered a moment in curiosity, looking to see the accuser with all his boldness give way before the almost unanimous expression of disapproval. But my former judgment of him had been correctly formed; so far from being browbeaten or depressed by his position, he repeated the demand with a stubborn persistence that marvellously reminded me of Crillon; and continued to reiterate it until all, except St. Germain himself, were silent. "You must return my money!" he kept on saying monotonously. "You must return my money. This man cheated, and you won my money. You must pay or fight."

    "With a dead man?" St. Germain replied, gibing at him.

    "No, with me."

    "Barradas will spit you!" The other scoffed. "Go and order your coffin, and do not trouble me."

    "I shall trouble you. If you did not know that he cheated, pay; and if you did know, fight."

    "I know?" St. Germain retorted fiercely. "You madman! Do you mean to say that I knew that he cheated?"

    "I mean what I say!" St. Mesmin returned stolidly. "You have won my money. You must return it. If you will not return it, you must fight."

    I should have heard more, but at that moment the main door opened, and two or three gentlemen who had been with the King came out. Not wishing to be seen watching the brawl, I moved away and descended the stairs; and Varenne overtaking me a moment later, and entering on the Biron affair--of which I had just been discussing the latest developments with the King--I forgot St. Mesmin for the time, and only recalled him next morning when Saintonge, being announced, came into my room in a state of great excitement, and almost with his first sentence brought out his name.

    "Barradas has not killed him then?" I said, reproaching myself in a degree for my forgetfulness.

    "No! He, Barradas!" Saintonge answered.

    "No?" I exclaimed.

    "Yes!" he said. "I tell you, M. le Marquis, he is a devil of a fellow--a devil of a fellow! He fought, I am told, just like Crillon; rushed in on that rascal and fairly beat down his guard, and had him pinned to the ground before he knew that they had crossed swords!"

    "Well," I said, "there is one scoundrel the less. That is all."

    "Ah, but that is not all!" my visitor replied more seriously. "It should be, but it is not; and it is for that reason I am come to you. You know St. Germain?"

    "I know that his father and you are--well, that you take opposite sides," I said smiling.

    "That is pretty well known," he answered coldly. "Anyway, this lad is to fight St. Germain to-morrow; and now I hear that M. de Clan, St. Germain's father, is for shutting him up. Getting a lettre de cachet or anything else you please, and away with him."

    "What! St. Germain?" I said.

    "No!" M. de Saintonge answered, prolonging the sound to the utmost. "St. Mesmin!"

    "Oh," I said, "I see."

    "Yes," the Marquis retorted pettishly, "but I don't. I don't see. And I beg to remind you, M. de Rosny, that this lad is my wife's second cousin through her step-father, and that I shall resent any interference with him. I have spent enough and done enough in the King's service to have my wishes respected in a small matter such as this; and I shall regard any severity exercised towards my kinsman as a direct offence to myself. Whereas M. de Clan, who will doubtless be here in a few minutes, is--"

    "But stop," I said, interrupting him, "I heard you speaking of this young fellow the other day. You did not tell me then that he was your kinsman."

    "Nevertheless he is; my wife's second cousin," he answered with heat.

    "And you wish him to--"

    "Be let alone!" he replied interrupting me in his turn more harshly than I approved. "I wish him to be let alone. If he will fight St. Germain, and kill or be killed, is that the King's affair that he need interfere? I ask for no interference," M. de Saintonge continued bitterly, "only for fair play and no favour. And for M. de Clan who is a Republican at heart, and a Bironist, and has never done anything but thwart the King, for him to come now, and--faugh! it makes me sick."

    "Yes," I said drily; "I see."

    "You understand me?"

    "Yes," I said, "I think so."

    "Very well," he replied haughtily--he had gradually wrought himself into a passion; "be good enough to bear my request in mind then; and my services also. I ask no more, M. de Rosny, than is due to me and to the King's honour."

    And with that, and scarcely an expression of civility, he left me. Some may wonder, I know, that, having in the Edict of Blois, which forbade duelling and made it a capital offence, an answer to convince even his arrogance, I did not use this weapon; but, as a fact, the edict was not published until the following June, when, partly in consequence of this affair and at my instance, the King put it forth.

    Saintonge could scarcely have cleared the gates before his prediction was fulfilled. His enemy arrived hot foot, and entered to me with a mien so much lowered by anxiety and trouble that I hardly knew him for the man who had a hundred times rebuffed me, and whom the King's offers had found consistently obdurate. All I had ever known of M. de Clan heightened his present humility and strengthened his appeal; so that I felt pity for him proportioned not only to his age and necessity, but to the depth of his fall. Saintonge had rightly anticipated his request; the first, he said, with a trace of his old pride, that he had made to the King in eleven years: his son, his only son and only child--the single heir of his name! He stopped there and looked at me; his eyes bright, his lips trembling and moving without sound, his hands fumbling on his knees.

    "But," I said, "your son wishes to fight, M. de Clan?"

    He nodded.

    "And you cannot hinder him?"

    He shrugged his shoulders grimly. "No," he said; "he is a St. Germain."

    "Well, that is just my case," I answered. "You see this young fellow St. Mesmin was commended to me, and is, in a manner, of my household; and that is a fatal objection. I cannot possibly act against him in the manner you propose. You must see that; and for my wishes, he respects them less than your son regards yours."

    M. de Clan rose, trembling a little on his legs, and glaring at me out of his fierce old eyes. "Very well," he said, "it is as much as I expected. Times are changed--and faiths--since the King of Navarre slept under the same bush with Antoine St. Germain on the night before Cahors! I wish you good-day, M. le Marquis."

    I need not say that my sympathies were with him, and that I would have helped him if I could; but in accordance with the maxim which I have elsewhere explained, that he who places any consideration before the King's service is not fit to conduct it, I did not see my way to thwart M. de Saintonge in a matter so small. And the end justified my inaction; for the duel, taking place that evening, resulted in nothing worse than a serious, but not dangerous, wound which St. Mesmin, fighting with the same fury as in the morning, contrived to inflict on his opponent.

    For some weeks after this I saw little of the young firebrand, though from time to time he attended my receptions and invariably behaved to me with a modesty which proved that he placed some bounds to his presumption. I heard, moreover, that M. de Saintonge, in acknowledgment of the triumph over the St. Germains which he had afforded him, had taken him up; and that the connection between the families being publicly avowed, the two were much together.

    Judge of my surprise, therefore, when one day a little before Christmas, M. de Saintonge sought me at the Arsenal during the preparation of the plays and interludes--which were held there that year--and, drawing me aside into the garden, broke into a furious tirade against the young fellow.

    "But," I said, in immense astonishment, "what is this? I thought that he was a young man quite to your mind; and--"

    "He is mad!" he answered.

    "Mad?" I said.

    "Yes, mad!" he repeated, striking the ground violently with his cane. "Stark mad, M. de Rosny. He does not know himself! What do you think--but it is inconceivable. He proposes to marry my daughter! This penniless adventurer honours Mademoiselle de Saintonge by proposing for her!"

    "Pheugh!" I said. "That is serious."

    "He--he! I don't think I shall ever get over it!" he answered.

    "He has, of course, seen Mademoiselle?"

    M. de Saintonge nodded.

    "At your house, doubtless?"

    "Of course!" he replied, with a snap of rage.

    "Then I am afraid it is serious," I said.

    He stared at me, and for an instant I thought that he was going to quarrel with me. Then he asked me why.

    I was not sorry to have this opportunity of at once increasing his uneasiness, and requiting his arrogance. "Because," I said, "this young man appears to me to be very much out of the common. Hitherto, whatever he has said he would do, he has done. You remember Crillon? Well, I trace a likeness. St. Mesmin has much of his headlong temper and savage determination. If you will take my advice, you will proceed with caution."

    M. de Saintonge, receiving an answer so little to his mind, was almost bursting with rage. "Proceed with caution!" he cried. "You talk as if the thing could be entertained, or as if I had cause to fear the coxcomb! On the contrary, I intend to teach him a lesson a little confinement will cool his temper. You must give me a letter, my friend, and we will clap him in the Bastille for a month or two."

    "Impossible," I said firmly. "Quite impossible, M. le Marquis."

    M. de Saintonge looked at me, frowning. "How?" he said arrogantly. "Have my services earned no better answer than that?"

    "You forget," I replied. "Let me remind you that less than a month ago you asked me not to interfere with St. Mesmin; and at your instance I refused to accede to M. de Clan's request that I would confine him. You were then all for non-interference, M. de Saintonge, and I cannot blow hot and cold. Besides, to be plain with you," I continued, "even if that were not the case, this young fellow is in a manner under my protection; which renders it impossible for me to move against him. If you like, however, I will speak to him."

    "Speak to him!" M. de Saintonge cried. He was breathless with rage. He could say no more. It may be imagined how unpalatable my answer was to him.

    But I was not disposed to endure his presumption and ill-temper beyond a certain point; and feeling no sympathy with him in a difficulty which he had brought upon himself by his spitefulness, I answered him roundly. "Yes," I said," I will speak to him, if you please. But not otherwise. I can assure you, I should not do it for everyone."

    But M. de Saintonge's chagrin and rage at finding himself thus rebuffed, in a quarter where his haughty temper had led him to expect an easy compliance, would not allow him to stoop to my offer. He flung away with expressions of the utmost resentment, and even in the hearing of my servants uttered so many foolish and violent things against me, that had my discretion been no greater than his I must have taken notice of them. As, however, I had other and more important affairs upon my hands, and it has never been my practice to humour such hot-heads by placing myself on a level with them, I was content to leave his punishment to St. Mesmin; assured that in him M. Saintonge would find an opponent more courageous and not less stubborn than himself.

    The event bore me out, for within a week M. de St. Mesmin's pretensions to the hand of Mademoiselle de Saintonge shared with the Biron affair the attention of all Paris. The young lady, whose reputation and the care which had been spent on her breeding, no less than her gifts of person and character, deserved a better fate, attained in a moment a notoriety far from enviable; rumour's hundred tongues alleging, and probably with truth--for what father can vie with a gallant in a maiden's eyes?--that her inclinations were all on the side of the pretender. At any rate, St. Mesmin had credit for them; there was talk of stolen meetings and a bribed waiting-woman; and though such tales were probably as false as those who gave them currency were fair, they obtained credence with the thoughtless, and being repeated from one to another, in time reached her father's ears, and contributed with St. Mesmin's persecution to render him almost beside himself.

    Doubtless with a man of less dogged character, or one more amenable to reason, the Marquis would have known how to deal; but the success which had hitherto rewarded St. Mesmin's course of action had confirmed the young man in his belief that everything was to be won by courage; so that the more the Marquis blustered and threatened the more persistent the suitor showed himself. Wherever Mademoiselle's presence was to be expected, St. Mesmin appeared, dressed in the extreme of the fashion and wearing either a favour made of her colours or a glove which he asserted that she had given him. Throwing himself in her road on every occasion, he expressed his passion by the most extravagant looks and gestures; and protected from the shafts of ridicule alike by his self-esteem and his prowess, did a hundred things that rendered her conspicuous and must have covered another than himself with inextinguishable laughter.

    In these circumstances M. de Saintonge began to find that the darts which glanced off his opponent's armour were making him their butt; and that he, who had valued himself all his life on a stately dignity and a pride: almost Spanish, was rapidly becoming the laughing-stock of the Court. His rage may be better imagined than described, and doubtless his daughter did not go unscathed. But the ordinary contemptuous refusal which would have sent another suitor about his business was of no avail here; he had no son, while St. Mesmin's recklessness rendered the boldest unwilling to engage him. Saintonge found himself therefore at his wits' end, and in this emergency bethought him again of a lettre de cachet. But the King proved as obdurate as his minister; partly in accordance with a promise he had made me about a year before that he would not commonly grant what I had denied, and partly because Biron's affair had now reached a stage in which Saintonge's aid was no longer of importance.

    Thus repulsed, the Marquis made up his mind to carry his daughter into the country; but St. Mesmin meeting this with the confident assertion that he would abduct her within a week, wherever she was confined, Saintonge, desperate as a baited bull, and trembling with rage--for the threat was uttered at Zamet's and was repeated everywhere--avowed equally publicly that since the King would give him no satisfaction he would take the law into his own hands, and serve this impudent braggart as Guise served St. Megrin. As M. le Marquis maintained a considerable household, including some who would not stick at a trifle, it was thought likely enough that he would carry out his threat; especially as the provocation seemed to many to justify it. St. Mesmin was warned, therefore; but his reckless character was so well known that odds were freely given that he would be caught tripping some night--and for the last time.

    At this juncture, however, an unexpected ally, and one whose appearance increased Saintonge's rage to an intolerable extent, took up St. Mesmin's quarrel. This was young St. Germain, who, quitting his chamber, was to be seen everywhere on his antagonist's arm. The old feud between the Saint Germains and Saintonges aggravated the new; and more than one brawl took place in the streets between the two parties. St. Germain never moved without four armed servants; he placed others at his friend's disposal; and wherever he went he loudly proclaimed what he would do if a hair of St. Mesmin's head were injured.

    This seemed to place an effectual check on M. de Saintonge's purpose; and my surprise was great when, about a week later, the younger St. Germain burst in upon me one morning, with his face inflamed with anger and his dress in disorder; and proclaimed, before I could rise or speak, that St. Mesmin had been murdered.

    "How?" I said, somewhat startled. "And when?"

    "By M. de Saintonge! Last night!" he answered furiously. "But I will have justice; I will have justice, M. de Rosny, or the King--"

    I checked him as sternly as my surprise would let me; and when I had a little abashed him--which was not easy, for his temper vied in stubbornness with St. Mesmin's--I learned the particulars. About ten o'clock on the previous night St. Mesmin had received a note, and, in spite of the remonstrances of his servants, had gone out alone. He had not returned nor been seen since, and his friends feared the worst.

    "But on what grounds?" I said, astonished to find that that was all.

    "What!" St. Germain cried, flaring up again. "Do you ask on what grounds? When M. de Saintonge has told a hundred what he would do to him! What he would do--do, I say? What he has done!"

    "Pooh!" I said. "It is some assignation, and the rogue is late in returning."

    "An assignation, yes," St. Germain retorted; "but one from which he will not return."

    "Well, if he does not, go to the Chevalier du Guet," I answered, waving him off. "Go! do you hear? I am busy," I continued. "Do you think that I am keeper of all the young sparks that bay the moon under the citizens' windows? Be off, sir!"

    He went reluctantly, muttering vengeance; and I, after rating Maignan soundly for admitting him, returned to my work, supposing that before night I should hear of St. Mesmin's safety. But the matter took another turn, for while I was at dinner the Captain of the Watch came to speak to me. St. Mesmin's cap had been found in a bye-street near the river, in a place where there were marks of a struggle; and his friends were furious. High words had already passed between the two factions, St. Germain openly accusing Saintonge of the murder; plainly, unless something were done at once, a bloody fray was imminent.

    "What do you think yourself, M. le Marchand?" I said, when I had heard him out.

    He shrugged his shoulders. "What can I think, your Excellency?" he said. "What else was to be expected?"

    "You take it for granted that M. de Saintonge is guilty?"

    "The young man is gone," he answered pithily.

    In spite of this, I thought the conclusion hasty, and contented myself with bidding him see St. Germain and charge him to be quiet; promising that, if necessary, the matter should be investigated and justice done. I still had good hopes that St. Mesmin's return would clear up the affair, and the whole turn out to be a freak on his part; but within a few hours tidings that Saintonge had taken steps to strengthen his house and was lying at home, refusing to show himself, placed a different and more serious aspect on the mystery. Before noon next day M. de Clan, whose interference surprised me not a little, was with me to support his son's petition; and at the King's levee next day St. Germain accused his enemy to the King's face, and caused an angry and indecent scene in the chamber.

    When a man is in trouble foes spring up, as the moisture rises through the stones before a thaw. I doubt if M. de Saintonge was not more completely surprised than any by the stir which ensued, and which was not confined to the St. Germains' friends, though they headed the accusers. All whom he had ever offended, and all who had ever offended him, clamoured for justice; while St. Mesmin's faults being forgotten and only his merits remembered, there were few who did not bow to the general indignation, which the young and gallant, who saw that at any moment his fate might be theirs, did all in their power to foment. Finally, the arrival of St. Mesmin the father, who came up almost broken- hearted, and would have flung himself at the King's feet on the first opportunity, roused the storm to the wildest pitch; so that, in the fear lest M. de Biron's friends should attempt something under cover of it, I saw the King and gave him my advice. This was to summon Saintonge, the St. Germains, and old St. Mesmin to his presence and effect a reconciliation; or, failing that, to refer the matter to the Parliament.

    He agreed with me and chose to receive them next day at the Arsenal. I communicated his commands, and at the hour named we met, the King attended by Roquelaure and myself. But if I had flattered myself that the King's presence would secure a degree of moderation and reasonableness I was soon undeceived; for though M. de St. Mesmin had only his trembling head and his tears to urge, Clan and his son fell upon Saintonge with so much violence--to which he responded by a fierce and resentful sullenness equally dangerous--that I feared that blows would be struck even before the King's face. Lest this should happen and the worst traditions of old days of disorder be renewed, I interposed and managed at length to procure silence.

    "For shame, gentlemen, for shame!" the King said, gnawing his moustachios after a fashion he had when in doubt. "I take Heaven to witness that I cannot say who is right! But this brawling does no good. The one fact we have is that St. Mesmin has disappeared."

    "Yes, sire; and that M. de Saintonge predicted his disappearance," St. Germain cried, impulsively. "To the day and almost to the hour."

    "I gather, de Saintonge," the King said, turning to him, mildly, "that you did use some expressions of that kind."

    "Yes, sire, and did nothing upon them," he answered resentfully. But he trembled as he spoke. He was an older man than his antagonist, and the latter's violence shook him.

    "But does M. de Saintonge deny," St. Germain broke out afresh before the King could speak, "that my friend had made him a proposal for his daughter? and that he rejected it?"

    "I deny nothing!" Saintonge cried, fierce and trembling as a baited animal. "For that matter, I would to Heaven he had had her!" he continued bitterly.

    "Ay, so you say now," the irrepressible St. Germain retorted, "when you know that be is dead!"

    "I do not know that he is dead," Saintonge answered. "And, for that matter, if he were alive and here now he should have her. I am tired; I have suffered enough."

    "What! Do you tell the King," the young fellow replied incredulously, "that if St. Mesmin were here you would give him your daughter?"

    "I do--I do!" the other exclaimed passionately. "To be rid of him, and you, and all your crew!"

    "Tut, tut!" the King said. "Whatever betides, I will answer for it, you shall have protection and justice, M. de Saintonge. And do you, young sir, be silent. Be silent, do you hear! We have had too much noise introduced into this already."

    He proceeded then to ask certain details, and particularly the hour at which St. Mesmin had been last seen. Notwithstanding that these facts were in the main matters of common agreement, some wrangling took place over them; which was only brought to an end at last in a manner sufficiently startling. The King with his usual thoughtfulness had bidden St. Mesmin be seated. On a sudden the old man rose; I heard him utter a cry of amazement, and following the direction of his eyes I looked towards the door. There stood his son!

    At an appearance so unexpected a dozen exclamations filled the air; but to describe the scene which ensued or the various emotions that were evinced by this or that person, as surprise or interest or affection moved them, were a task on which I am not inclined to enter. Suffice it that the foremost and the loudest in these expressions of admiration was young St. Germain; and that the King, after glancing from face to face in puzzled perplexity, began to make a shrewd guess at the truth.

    "This is a very timely return, M. de St. Mesmin," he said drily.

    "Yes, sire," the young impertinent answered, not a whit abashed.

    "Very timely, indeed."

    "Yes, sire. And the more as St. Germain tells me that M. de Saintonge in his clemency has reconsidered my claims; and has undertaken to use that influence with Mademoiselle which--"

    But on that word M. de Saintonge, comprehending the ruse by which he had been overcome, cut him short; crying out in a rage that he would see him in perdition first. However, we all immediately took the Marquis in hand, and made it our business to reconcile him to the notion; the King even making a special appeal to him, and promising that St. Mesmin should never want his good offices. Under this pressure, and confronted by his solemn undertaking, Saintonge at last and with reluctance gave way. At the King's instance, he formally gave his consent to a match which effectually secured St. Mesmin's fortunes, and was as much above anything the young fellow could reasonably expect as his audacity and coolness exceeded the common conceit of courtiers.

    Many must still remember St. Mesmin; though an attack of the small-pox, which disfigured him beyond the ordinary, led him to leave Paris soon after his marriage. He was concerned, I believe, in the late ill-advised rising in the Vivarais; and at that time his wife still lived. But for some years past I have not heard his name, and only now recall it as that of one whose adventures, thrust on my attention, formed an amusing interlude in the more serious cares which now demand our notice.
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