« ElőzőTovább »
theory, for those who seek farther, of rived at Saint Germains; and
prespressure brought to bear on a young ently, when Mademoiselle de Vieillegirl's inclination through the secret ville, accompanied by the governess of practices of the torture-chamber which the queen's maids, came in to salute are not yet obsolete, it is pretended, her father, behold at his elbow a dashand were certainly efficacious in Cath- ing young gallant, smiling and blusherine's hands. “I scarcely dared ing and bowing to the ground, whose speak to the queen, my mother,” pretensions were as much in evidence writes Marguerite of Valois, referring as the feathers in his bonnet, of which to her childhood; "and when she he displayed an amazing profusion. looked at me I trembled lest I might Thenceforth the queen's presencehave done something to displease chamber knew no more assiduous danher."
gler than M. le Comte de Saulx. Nor But to
Carloix, who, was one ever better received by its after all, holds the only possible clue laughter-loving, sweet-toothed into the mystery, if mystery there be. mates, among whom he scattered his
It befell in the winter of 1556, by an sweet words and sweetmeats with inclement season and roads deep in equal success. Whether he was forsnow, that the Sire de Vieilleville, fu- tunate in winning the smiles of his shy ture marshal of France and father of young mistress history sayeth not, the sisters Marguerite and Philomèle, though 'tis on record that more than was on his way up from Metz, where
would right willingly have he held the post of military governor, changed places with her. It only reto pay his court at Saint Germains. mained for the gallant Provençal to With him rode a certain young Pro- show his address in those games of vençal, De Saulx, or Sault, by name, of skill and athletic sports which were as the illustrious stock of the Saulx- much the rage of that day as of our Tavannes, who had served under the own, and a sure road to court-favor. said Seigneur through the memorable And this he did not fail to achieve, siege of Metz (the glory of French carrying off the prize three times out arms), and been enabled to verify the of five; besides leading the dance at a true temper of his steel, not in action court-ball with so much grace, spirit, only but also in idleness, which is and agility that crowds followed him sometimes the severer test.
about, and a new figure, adapted from So it came to pass that, as these two the farandole of his native Provence, were conversing by the way, the elder had a prodigious run, and was long let drop a discreet hint to the purport known under the title of La Volte de that his second daughter, Philomèle Sault. (then enrolled among
the queen's In this manner the months of Demaids), had not yet been promised in cember and January sped merrily marriage, and was not, perchance, be along to the satisfaction of all. But yond the reach of one who, like his early in February important affairs, young friend, stood well in the sight connected with great land-suit of honor and in the estimation of M. which was then pending, called M. de de Vieilleville.
Vieilleville up to Paris, and upon him, You may be sure that this young as by duty and courtesy bound, atgentleman could hardly believe his tended his future son-in-law. They ears at first, so incredible seemed his were not detained long, thanks to his good fortune. But finding they had Majesty's letter of recommendation not deceived him he jumped from his and other potent influences which the horse, and falling on his knees at his seigneur was enabled to bring to bear companion's stirrup swore, then and on the law's delay; yet brief as was there, eternal gratitude, love, and obe this interval, scarce more than a fortdience. In such amicable accord and night, it took no longer to overcast our good understanding the travellers ar- lover's fair prospect, and scatter the
roses that erstwhile so sweetly lined through ignorance or instigated by a bis path.
little natural spirit of retaliation. CerIn plain prose a rival had seized the tain it is that she lent a willing ear to occasion to steal a march upon him, her neighbor's proposal; and at parting one Duilly by name, of the noble young Duilly was suffered
to carry house of Châtelet (my Lord High-Sen- away with him a letter of introduction eschal of Lorraine's eldest son), who, to her daughter, wherein his admirawith his father and a crowd of Lor- ble qualities and the mother's high raine gentlemen, had followed M. de appreciation were categorically set Vaudemont when he came up to Saint forth. Germains to fulfil his marriage
The young gentleman now lost tract with the Demoiselle de Nemours. time in hastening up to court, where Now Messieurs Châtelet, father and he arrived at the opportune moment son, had long cast covetous eyes on the of M. de Vieilleville's absence, and Vieilleville connection, being fully proceeded to drive his suit at a furious cognizant of its value. Resolved to pace. That old fox, his father, mean. win by fair means or foul they were while, was no less busy currying favor not above availing themselves of Sire among the great, notably in the LorRenard's arts, and after quitting Lor- raine coterie of which Mademoiselle raine, travelled out of their way to de Nemours made one at present, and Metz, where, in all honor and tran- would have been delighted to secure quillity, resided the Dame de Vieille Vieilleville's company
apville during her husband's absence. proaching wedding-journey. Meeting To this lady, with a thousand respect this latter one day in the queen's ful observances and complimentary apartment the gay young bride speeches, my Lord Seneschal broached costed her by the name of "milk-sishis project of a match between their ter" (the two having fed at the same children, asserting that M. de Vieille- board for upwards of four years), and ville had already given it his sanction called out to her in a merry voice, so and promise of a settlement so soon as as to be heard by all, that when in they should meet at court, whither he doubt a maid could not do better than and his son were journeying with that give the preference to Lorraine, for object in view. Before going further, there were no husbands so good as however, he had desired to consult the those that came out of that country, wishes of madam herself, feeling per- witness, her own choice; nor was any suaded that the mother's prerogative road so pleasant to travel in the in an affair of marriage was no less co- springtime of the year as the one that gent than that of the father. It was a led thither. sentiment which did M. le Senechal Thus it was that Dame Fortune, honor, and could not fail to ingratiate who relishes nothing better than uphim with the good lady; all the more, setting lovers' calculations, played her perhaps, as it was one which that il- cruel trick upon M. de Saulx. But lustrious seigneur, her spouse, does faint heart never yet won fair lady, not appear to have shared. In fact, so and, quickly rallying, the Provençal little uxorious (we imitate the Lord threw himself into the breach with all Servitor's wise discretion) was the said imaginable ardor. Justice and honor seigneur in his conjugal relations that were both ranged on his side, suphitherto he had not deemed it neces- ported by father's authority; sary to take madam into his confi- whereas M. de Duilly relied solely on dence with regard to M. de Sauls. the mother, whose letter he had taken This poor lady, it would seem, was the the precaution of opening before devery last to be informed of news livery and been greatly encouraged by which had already travelled as far as its perusal. Lorraine; and small blame to ber, say Carnival was now approaching, and we, for the error she fell into, either the gay world a-gog usual for
merry-making. Balls, masques, tilt- pretty girlish coquetry which would ings, and tournaments were the order have been only natural in the circumof the day, and the gallant part played stances. Question it as we may, the in each by Mademoiselle de Vieille- pale young face still smiles back to us ville's brave suitors soon divided this across the centuries with its air sweet joyous court into two camps, one fa- and inscrutable, like that of Leovoring Provence, the other crying up nardo's Mona Lisa smiling out of the Lorraine. Like many of his country painted canvas. Possibly the poor men (including the great family of child's thoughts are more intent Guise) M. de Duilly was of a fair com- studying her father's commands than plexion, yet withal tall, well-shaped, in lending encouragement to either arand hardy with the best. His cool ad- dent suitor; or she knits her innocent dress and self-possession in moments brows over her mother's ambiguous of emergency offered a striking letter with an assiduity which their trast to the fire of his southern rival, most impassioned love-songs fail to inwhich seemed destined to win if only voke. by irresistible impetuosity. Howbeit And still the balance hung on more than one occasion it happened pended, neither party gaining the adthat Lorraine proved his match, even vantage. Events were hurrying on, in the tiltyard, where De Saulx had however, and a definite settlement, one hitherto carried everything before way or another, could not long be dehim. In like manner La Volte delayed. Early one morning (all the Sault suffered something of an eclipse world appears to have got about its through the popularity of
business with the birds in those stirdance, entitled Bransles du Haut-Bar- ring days) Mademoiselle Vieillerois, in which M. de Duilly figured to ville received a call to wait upon the the admiration of all.
king's second daughter, Madam Claude “These two determined competi- of France. For a description of that tors,” observes Maître Carloix, “were gentle and gracious princess we must rivals by nature as much as by cir- turn to Brantôme, who depicts her in cumstance. They continually spurred the heyday of her girlish charms; “So one another on to greater effort, be pleasant was she,” he writes, "and of grudging no sort of trouble or expense so open and sunny a countenance that in their desire to excel. At court noth
no one could help loving her at first ing was heard of but the admirable sight.” The summons, then, coming exploits, the audacious encounters, from such a quarter, caused
of splendid festivities, and gala doings those flutterings in the dove-cot which both on land and water (accompanied a like invitation to Queen Catherine's by sumptuous collations of fruits, rare redoubtable presence always and exquisite, and all sorts of marvel- sioned. Truth to tell, Madame Cathlous confections) which the brave ser- erine did not wholly confine her disvitors of Mademoiselle de Vieilleville cipline to moral suasion, inquisitorial provided for her gratification, and the though that was, but by dint of sundelectation of mesdemoiselles her com- dry sharp nips and downright blows panions.”
taught her tender maidens the full We hear much, indeed, of these weight of queen's hand. Blithe sprightly maids, who evidently lost Claude, on the contrary, they regarded nothing of their share when pleasure almost as one of themselves, a lightwas afoot. But to judge from the ac- hearted girl who stood quite as much counts handed down, fair Philomèle in awe of their terrible mistress as any herself seems to have played a curi- among them. At her bidding, accordously neutral part in the
brilliant ingly, our heroine sped away like a pageantry. No hint survives of partial- bee to the clover field, and arriving in ity shown by her to either eager com- the same breath found the young prinpetitor; no suggestion, even, of that cess not yet out of bed, making merry
with her waiting ladies in a pitched name of her I chose before giving a battle of pillows. But on Philomèle's thought to any other! Yes, heart of approach truce was called, and the my heart, 'twas thine; and so I told flushed combatants, one and all, incon- the queen, my mother; not, only betinently dismissed, for madam
cause of our joint birthday, which nounced that she had need of no one's falls together on the festival of Saint services at her robing that morning Barbara, virgin and martyr, but still save Vieilleville's alone. So, the room more for the love I bear thee. Indeed, being cleared, and the maid of honor and indeed, I swear by God's truth, on her knees before her young mis- this love is so deep and so tender that tress, madam began speaking in a nothing on earth could console me for low and confidential voice.
the loss of it!" “You know, Vieilleville,” she said, 'Twas Philomèle's turn now to sob “that my marriage with the Duke of a little, burying her face in madam's Lorraine is now fully decided upon; lap under the cloud of brown curls and the king, my father, only awaits which had escaped from their fillet, the conclusion of some important busi- not having yet been dressed for the ness, which detains him, before going queen's levée. up to Paris to arrange the wedding “And the queen also," Claude hasceremony. It is to be a very grand tened to add, "the queen, my mother, event, I am promised, and celebrated approves highly of you, for she has with all the pomp and circumstance often noticed the pleasant modesty of which used of old times to attend the your demeanor, and other virtues nuptials of a daughter of the lilies. which shine in you. She knows that But oh, my dear, if only you knew you are no busybody like many of how I dread it, and how I tremble at your companions who gad about backthe thought of going away into that biting and sowing dissension high and far country, among cold, critical stran- low,—some of them, even, so lost to gers, not one of whom knows me or prudence as to whisper scandal of a cares the least in the world for me! So certain very great prince and most nohappy as I have always been up to this ble virtuous lady, whose names need time, here in my own place, among not be mentioned. But I happen to my own people!"
know, and will tell you in confidence, Here Madam Claude paused to shed that several of these too-glib demoia few warm drops at the sad reflec- selles are likely to be sent back to their tion, while Philomèle, still kneeling be- parents after Easter, with shame for side her, kissed her hands again and their only portion. However, that conagain, her own eyes growing misty in cerns neither you nor me. Nor must I sympathy.
forget to tell you, in proof of an affec"I know I shall feel miserably home- tion better than many fine words, that sick at first,” the princess resumed, in my marriage-contract (which "and all forlorn, like some poor half- drawn up the day before yesterday, fledged bird that has left its nest too your name appears writ fair and large soon. But, Vieilleville, give good heed over the title of First Lady-in-Waiting, now to what I am about to say, for I with an accompanying list of perquihave formed a plan in my head, and I sites, pensions, and so on, as long as count especially on your
aid and my arm. And this was done, it may friendship. Know then that rather gratify you to learn, by express comthan trust myself all alone in that mand of the queen, your gracious misstrange country I am resolved to take tress; though not at all to my content, from your midst six demoiselles, who let me say, for I was greatly vexed at shall accompany me, making my coun. first that the gift should be permitted try their country, loving me as I love to come from any hand but mine. So them, and living and dying with me. you see, Vieilleville,” the princess conSweetheart, I leave thee to guess the cluded, “there is no escape for you.
Good Saint Lorraine claims your But the sunshine of madam's disvows, and to him you must pay them. position would not long brook a cloud, Merciful heaven! what then becomes however slight, and soon, brushing of me and my cherished schemes if aside her tears, she cried merrily, “Eh! you persist in making your pilgrimage but how about this poor Comte de into Provence with M. de Saulx, as he Saulx ?” proposes? Surely you would not be so For all answer Philomèle continued cruel as to leave my affection to go to gaze, round-eyed, at her young misbegging, and me to regret all the day's tress. Truth to tell, our gentle enthuof my life having loved thee too well?” siast had not yet descended from her
So saying Madam Claude threw her peroration among the clouds, and the arms about Philomèle's neck, kissing expression of her fair artless visage and embracing her very tenderly. showed so little consciousness of the
“Oh, madam, madam," the young part she was called upon to take begirl stammered, unable to speak tween two furious suitors, each ready other word from her full heart. But to tear his rival in pieces for love of recollecting in time her court breed- her, that Madam Claude (whose huing and the respect which is due to mor was ever of the liveliest) could rank, she put a check on her emotions not restrain her merriment. She and replied in becoming terms: laughed aloud, and girl-like, laughed “Madam and princess, I know not how the more for laughing, joined pressufficiently to thank you for the favor ently by her companion, who must you have deigned to show the least needs help swell this joyous chorus, worthy of your servants; nor can I im- though without rightly comprehendagine to what I owe my good fortune ing its motive. Meanwhile the faces if not to your own unbounded good- of the Ladies-in-Waiting, who were ness, and to Heaven, which by its in- listening with all their ears at the fluence hath so embellished me in door, grew longer each moment, for your eyes. Oh, my mistress, sweetest still less could they understand the ocand best,” she cried, again forgetting casion of such inordinate mirth. herself, “there is nothing in the wide When gravity
re-established, world I would not do for love of you! Mademoiselle de Vieilleville began I would walk barefooted every step of again, blushing a little, yet preserving the road into Lorraine, the sun and the unabashed the clear, upward look of rain on my head, if at the end I might her candid eyes. “Madam and princbe sure of seeing your face and of ess, I cannot deny that I am under hearing your voice. Like that damsel great obligations to M. de Saulx, who in Holy Writ of whom the preacher is a very gallant gentleman, and above told us, “Whither thou goest will I the breath of reproach. At the same go, and where thou lodgest I will time I can assure your Highness, on lodge; thy people shall be my people, my honor, that no word or act has and thy God my God.”
passed between us that was not auThus these two innocent children, thorized by my father; and up to this whose years together scarce counted moment (thanks to the
grace of thirty, held sweet converse, hand Heaven) I remain entire mistress of clasped in hand, and lifted above our my own heart. Nevertheless, madam, wicked world in a kind of angelic rap- the designs of my father, in presenting ture. “The Lord do so to me and more this young gentleman to me, must be also, if :aught but death part thee and sufficiently well known to you. me,” Claude repeated, adopting in her short, to cut a long story, I admit that turn taat solemn Scriptural phraseol- the affair has already progressed ogy which was on many lips since far that our public betrothal is fixed Catherine had thrown open her doors for Wednesday next, that is in three to M. Théodore de Béze, and other elo- days' time, and the wedding for three que:ht advocates of the New Doctrine. days later. As regards M. de Vieille