Marguerite de Valois, by Alexandre Dumas

Chapter 7.

The Night of the 24th of August, 1572.

When La Mole and Coconnas had finished their supper — and it was meagre enough, for the fowls of La Belle Étoile had their pin feathers singed only on the sign — Coconnas whirled his chair around on one leg, stretched out his feet, leaned one elbow on the table, and drinking a last glass of wine, said:

“Do you mean to go to bed instantly, Monsieur de la Mole?”

Ma foi! I am very much inclined, for it is possible that I may be called up in the night.”

“And I, too,” said Coconnas; “but it appears to me that, under the circumstances, instead of going to bed and making those wait who are to come to us, we should do better to call for cards and play a game. They would then find us quite ready.”

“I would willingly accept your proposal, sir, but I have very little money for play. I have scarce a hundred gold crowns in my valise, for my whole treasure. I rely on that with which to make my fortune!”

“A hundred gold crowns!” cried Coconnas, “and you complain? By Heaven! I have but six!”

“Why,” replied La Mole, “I saw you draw from your pocket a purse which appeared not only full, but I should say bloated.”

“Ah,” said Coconnas, “that is to defray an old debt which I am compelled to pay to an old friend of my father, whom I suspect to be, like yourself, somewhat of a Huguenot. Yes, there are here a hundred rose nobles,” he added, slapping his pocket, “but these hundred rose nobles belong to Maître Mercandon. My personal patrimony, as I tell you, is limited to six crowns.”

“How, then, can you play?”

“Why, it is because of that I wished to play. Besides, an idea occurs to me.”

“What is it?”

“We both came to Paris on the same errand.”

“Yes.”

“Each of us has a powerful protector.”

“Yes.”

“You rely on yours, as I rely on mine.”

“Yes.”

“Well, then, it occurred to me that we should play first for our money, and afterwards for the first favor which came to us, either from the court or from our mistress”—

“Really, a very ingenious idea,” said La Mole, with a smile, “but I confess I am not such a gamester as to risk my whole life on a card or a turn of the dice; for the first favor which may come either to you or to me will, in all probability, involve our whole life.”

“Well, let us drop out of account the first favor from the court and play for our mistress’s first favor.”

“I see only one objection to that,” said La Mole.

“What objection?”

“I have no mistress!”

“Nor I either. But I expect to have one soon. Thank God! we are not cut out to want one long!”

“Undoubtedly, as you say, you will have your wish, Monsieur de Coconnas, but as I have not the same confidence in my love-star, I feel that it would be robbery, I to pit my fortune against yours. But, if you will, let us play until your six crowns be lost or doubled, and if lost, and you desire to continue the game, you are a gentleman, and your word is as good as gold.”

“Well and good!” cried Coconnas, “that’s the talk! You are right, sir, a gentleman’s word is as good as gold, especially when he has credit at court. Thus, believe me, I did not risk too much when I proposed to play for the first favor we might receive.”

“Doubtless, and you might lose it, but I could not gain it; for, as I am with the King of Navarre, I could not receive anything from the Duc de Guise.”

“Ah, the heretic!” muttered the landlord as he was at work polishing up his old helmet, “I got on the right scent, did I?” And he stopped his work long enough to cross himself piously.

“Well, then,” continued Coconnas, shuffling the cards which the waiter had just brought him, “you are of the”—

“Of the what?”

“Of the new religion.”

“I?”

“Yes, you.”

“Well, say that I am,” said La Mole, with a smile, “have you anything against us?”

“Oh! thank God, no! It is all the same to me. I hate Huguenotry with all my heart, but I do not hate the Huguenots; besides, they are in fashion just now.”

“Yes,” replied La Mole, smiling; “to wit, the shooting at the admiral with an arquebuse; but supposing we have a game of arquebusades.”

“Anything you please,” said Coconnas, “provided I get to playing, it is all the same to me.”

“Well, let us play, then,” said La Mole, picking up his cards and arranging them in his hand.

“Yes, play ahead and with all confidence, for even if I were to lose a hundred crowns of gold against yours I shall have the wherewithal to pay you tomorrow morning.”

“Then your fortune will come while you are asleep.”

“No; I am going to find it.”

“Where? Tell me and I’ll go with you.”

“At the Louvre.”

“Are you going back there to-night?”

“Yes; to-night I have a private audience with the great Duc de Guise.”

As soon as Coconnas began to speak about going to seek his fortune at the Louvre, La Hurière stopped polishing his sallet and went and stood behind La Mole’s chair, so that Coconnas alone could see him, and made signs to him, which the Piedmontese, absorbed in his game and the conversation, did not notice.

“Well, it is miraculous,” remarked La Mole; “and you were right when you said that we were born under the same star. I have also an appointment at the Louvre to-night, but not with the Duc de Guise; mine is with the King of Navarre.”

“Have you a pass-word?”

“Yes.”

“A rallying sign?”

“No.”

“Well, I have one, and my pass-word is”—

As the Piedmontese was saying these words, La Hurière made such an expressive gesture that the indiscreet gentleman, who happened at that instant to raise his head, paused petrified more by the action than by the turn of the cards which had just caused him to lose three crowns.

La Mole looked around, but saw only his landlord standing behind him with folded arms and wearing on his head the sallet which he had seen him polishing the moment before.

“What is the matter, pray?” inquired La Mole of Coconnas.

Coconnas looked at the landlord and at his companion without answering, for he could make nothing out of Maître La Hurière’s redoubled gestures.

La Hurière saw that he must go to his aid:

“It is only that I am very fond of cards myself,” said he, speaking rapidly, “and I came closer to see the trick which made you gain, and the gentleman saw me with my war helmet on, and as I am only a poor bourgeois, it surprised him.”

“You make a fine figure, indeed you do!” cried La Mole, with a burst of laughter.

“Oh, sir,” replied La Hurière with admirably pretended good nature and a shrug of the shoulders expressive of his inferiority, “we poor fellows are not very valiant and our appearance is not elegant. It is all right for you fine gentlemen to wear glittering helmets and carry keen rapiers, and provided we mount guard strictly”—

“Aha!” said La Mole, taking his turn at shuffling the cards. “So you mount guard, do you?”

Eh, mon Dieu, oui, Monsieur le Comte! I am sergeant in a company of citizen militia.”

After having said this while La Mole was engaged in dealing the cards, La Hurière withdrew, putting his finger on his lips as a sign of discretion for Coconnas, who was more amazed than ever.

This signal for caution was doubtless the reason that he lost almost as rapidly the second time as the first.

“Well,” observed La Mole, “this makes exactly your six crowns. Will you have your revenge on your future fortune?”

“Willingly,” replied Coconnas.

“But before you begin, did you not say you had an appointment with the Duc de Guise?”

Coconnas looked toward the kitchen, and saw the great eyes of La Hurière, who was repeating his warning.

“Yes,” he replied, “but it is not yet time. But now let us talk a little about yourself, Monsieur de la Mole.”

“We should do better, I think, by talking of the game, my dear Monsieur de Coconnas; for unless I am very much mistaken, I am in a fair way of gaining six more crowns.”

“By Heaven! that is true! I always heard that the Huguenots had good luck at cards. Devil take me if I haven’t a good mind to turn Huguenot!”

La Hurière’s eyes sparkled like two coals; but Coconnas, absorbed in his game, did not notice them. “Do so, count, do so,” said La Mole, “and though the way in which the change came about is odd, you will be well received among us.”

Coconnas scratched his ear.

“If I were sure that your good luck came from that,” he said, “I would; for I really do not stickle so overwhelmingly for the mass, and as the King does not think so much of it either”—

“Then it is such a beautiful religion,” said La Mole; “so simple, so pure”—

“And, moreover, it is in fashion,” said Coconnas; “and, moreover, it brings good luck at cards; for the devil take me if you do not hold all the aces, and yet I have watched you closely, and you play very fairly; you do not cheat; it must be the religion”—

“You owe me six crowns more,” said La Mole, quietly.

“Ah, how you tempt me!” said Coconnas; “and if I am not satisfied with Monsieur de Guise to-night”—

“Well?”

“Well, tomorrow I will ask you to present me to the King of Navarre and, be assured, if once I become a Huguenot, I will out-Huguenot Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, and all the reformers on earth!”

“Hush!” said La Mole, “you will get into a quarrel with our host.”

“Ah, that is true,” said Coconnas, looking toward the kitchen; “but — no, he is not listening; he is too much occupied at this moment.”

“What is he doing, pray?” inquired La Mole, who could not see him from where he was.

“He is talking with — devil take me! it is he!”

“Who?”

“Why, that night-bird with whom he was discoursing when we arrived. The man in the yellow doublet and drab-colored cloak. By Heaven! how earnestly he talks. Say, Maître La Hurière, are you engaged in politics?”

But this time Maître La Hurière’s answer was a gesture so energetic and imperious that in spite of his love for the picture card Coconnas got up and went to him.

“What is the matter with you?” asked La Mole.

“You wish wine, sir?” said La Hurière, seizing Coconnas’ hand eagerly. “You shall have it. Grégoire, wine for these gentlemen!”

Then he whispered in his ear:

“Silence, if you value your life, silence! And get rid of your companion.”

La Hurière was so pale, the sallow man so lugubrious, that Coconnas felt a shiver run over him, and turning to La Mole said:

“My dear sir, I must beg you to excuse me. I have lost fifty crowns in the turn of a hand. I am in bad luck to-night, and I fear I may get into difficulties.”

“Well, sir, as you please,” replied La Mole; “besides, I shall not be sorry to lie down for a time. Maître la Hurière!”

“Monsieur le Comte?”

“If any one comes for me from the King of Navarre, wake me; I shall be dressed, and consequently ready.”

“So shall I,” said Coconnas; “and that I may not keep his highness waiting, I will prepare the sign. Maître la Hurière, some white paper and scissors!”

“Grégoire!” cried La Hurière, “white paper to write a letter on and scissors to cut the envelope with.”

“Ah!” said the Piedmontese to himself. “Something extraordinary is going on here!”

“Good-night, Monsieur de Coconnas,” said La Mole; “and you, landlord, be so good as to light me to my room. Good luck, my friend!” and La Mole disappeared up the winding staircase, followed by La Hurière.

Then the mysterious man, taking Coconnas by the arm, said to him, speaking very rapidly:

“Sir, you have very nearly betrayed a secret on which depends the fate of a kingdom. God saw fit to have you close your mouth in time. One word more, and I should have brought you down with my arquebuse. Now we are alone, fortunately; listen!”

“But who are you that you address me with this tone of authority?”

“Did you ever hear talk of the Sire de Maurevel?”

“The assassin of the admiral?”

“And of Captain de Mouy.”

“Yes.”

“Well, I am the Sire de Maurevel.”

“Oho!” said Coconnas.

“Now listen to me!”

“By Heaven! I assure you I will listen!”

“Hush!” said Maurevel, putting his finger on his mouth.

Coconnas listened.

At that moment he heard the landlord close the door of a chamber, then the door of a corridor, and bolt it. Then he rushed down the stairs to join the two speakers.

He offered a chair to Coconnas, a chair to Maurevel, and took one for himself.

“All is safe now, Monsieur de Maurevel,” said he; “you may speak.”

It was striking eleven o’clock at Saint Germain l’Auxerrois. Maurevel counted each of the hammer-strokes as they sounded clear and melancholy through the night, and when the last echo had died away in space he turned to Coconnas, who was greatly mystified at seeing the precautions taken by the two men. “Sir,” he asked, “are you a good Catholic?”

“Why, I think I am,” replied Coconnas.

“Sir,” continued Maurevel, “are you devoted to the King?”

“Heart and soul! I even feel that you insult me, sir, in asking such a question.”

“We will not quarrel over that; only you are going to follow us.”

“Whither?”

“That is of little consequence — put yourself in our hands; your fortune, and perhaps your life, is at stake.”

“I tell you, sir, that at midnight I have an appointment at the Louvre.”

“That is where we are going.”

“Monsieur de Guise is expecting me there.”

“And us also.”

“But I have a private pass-word,” continued Coconnas, somewhat mortified at sharing with the Sire de Maurevel and Maître La Hurière the honor of his audience.

“So have we.”

“But I have a sign of recognition.”

Maurevel smiled.

Then he drew from beneath his doublet a handful of crosses in white stuff, gave one to La Hurière, one to Coconnas, and took another for himself. La Hurière fastened his to his helmet. Maurevel attached his to the side of his hat.

“Ah,” said Coconnas, amazed, “the appointment and the rallying pass-word were for every one?”

“Yes, sir — that is to say, for all good Catholics.”

“Then there is a festival at the Louvre — some royal banquet, is there not?” said Coconnas; “and it is desired to exclude those hounds of Huguenots — good, capital, excellent! They have been showing off too long.”

“Yes, there is to be a festival at the Louvre — a royal banquet; and the Huguenots are invited; and moreover, they will be the heroes of the festival, and will pay for the banquet, and if you will be one of us, we will begin by going to invite their principal champion — their Gideon, as they call him.”

“The admiral!” cried Coconnas.

“Yes, the old Gaspard, whom I missed, like a fool, though I aimed at him with the King’s arquebuse.”

“And this, my gentleman, is why I was polishing my sallet, sharpening my sword, and putting an edge on my knives,” said La Hurière, in a harsh voice consonant with war.

At these words Coconnas shuddered and turned very pale, for he began to understand.

“What, really,” he exclaimed, “this festival — this banquet is a — you are going”—

“You have been a long time guessing, sir,” said Maurevel, “and it is easy to see that you are not so weary of these insolent heretics as we are.”

“And you take on yourself,” he said, “to go to the admiral’s and to”—

Maurevel smiled, and drawing Coconnas to the window he said:

“Look there! — do you see, in the small square at the end of the street, behind the church, a troop drawn up noiselessly in the shadow?”

“Yes.”

“The men forming that troop have, like Maître la Hurière, and myself, and yourself, a cross in their hats.”

“Well?”

“Well, these men are a company of Swiss, from the smaller cantons, commanded by Toquenot — you know the men from the smaller cantons are the King’s cronies.”

“Oho!” said Coconnas.

“Now look at that troop of horse passing along the Quay — do you recognize their leader?”

“How can I recognize him?” asked Coconnas, with a shudder; “I reached Paris only this evening.”

“Well, then, he is the one with whom you have a rendezvous at the Louvre at midnight. See, he is going to wait for you!”

“The Duc de Guise?”

“Himself! His escorts are Marcel, the exprovost of the tradesmen, and Jean Choron, the present provost. These two are going to summon their companies, and here, down this street comes the captain of the quarter. See what he will do!”

“He knocks at each door; but what is there on the doors at which he knocks?”

“A white cross, young man, such as that which we have in our hats. In days gone by they let God bear the burden of distinguishing his own; now we have grown more civilized and we save him the bother.”

“But at each house at which he knocks the door opens and from each house armed citizens come out.”

“He will knock here in turn, and we shall in turn go out.”

“What,” said Coconnas, “every one called out to go and kill one old Huguenot? By Heaven! it is shameful! It is an affair of cut-throats, and not of soldiers.”

“Young man,” replied Maurevel, “if the old are objectionable to you, you may choose young ones — you will find plenty for all tastes. If you despise daggers, use your sword, for the Huguenots are not the men to allow their throats to be cut without defending themselves, and you know that Huguenots, young or old, are tough.”

“But are they all going to be killed, then?” cried Coconnas.

“All!”

“By the King’s order?”

“By order of the King and Monsieur de Guise.”

“And when?”

“When you hear the bell of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois.”

“Oh! so that was why that amiable German attached to the Duc de Guise — what is his name?”

“Monsieur de Besme.”

“That is it. That is why Monsieur de Besme told me to hasten at the first sound of the tocsin.”

“So then you have seen Monsieur de Besme?”

“I have seen him and spoken to him.”

“Where?”

“At the Louvre. He admitted me, gave me the pass-word, gave me”—

“Look there!”

“By Heaven! — there he is himself.”

“Would you speak with him?”

“Why, really, I should not object.”

Maurevel carefully opened the window; Besme was passing at the moment with twenty soldiers.

Guise and Lorraine!” said Maurevel.

Besme turned round, and perceiving that he himself was addressed, came under the window.

“Oh, is it you, Monsir de Maurefel?”

“Yes, ’tis I; what are you looking for?”

“I am looking for de hostelry of de Belle Étoile, to find a Monsir Gogonnas.”

“Here I am, Monsieur de Besme,” said the young man.

“Goot, goot; are you ready?”

“Yes — to do what?”

“Vatefer Monsieur de Maurefel may dell you, for he is a goot Gatolic.”

“Do you hear?” inquired Maurevel.

“Yes,” replied Coconnas, “but, Monsieur de Besme, where are you going?”

“I?” asked Monsieur de Besme, with a laugh.

“Yes, you.”

“I am going to fire off a leedle wort at the admiral.”

“Fire off two, if need be,” said Maurevel, “and this time, if he gets up at the first, do not let him get up at the second.”

“Haf no vear, Monsir de Maurefel, haf no vear, und meanvile get dis yoong mahn on de right drack.”

“Don’t worry about me: the Coconnas are regular bloodhounds, and I am a chip off the old block.”2

2 Bons chiens chassent de race.

“Atieu.”

“Go on!”

“Unt you?”

“Begin the hunt; we shall be at the death.”

De Besme went on, and Maurevel closed the window.

“Did you hear, young man?” said Maurevel; “if you have any private enemy, even if he is not altogether a Huguenot, you can put him on your list, and he will pass with the others.”

Coconnas, more bewildered than ever with what he saw and heard, looked first at his landlord, who was assuming formidable attitudes, and then at Maurevel, who quietly drew a paper from his pocket.

“Here’s my list,” said he; “three hundred. Let each good Catholic do this night one-tenth part of the business I shall do, and tomorrow there will not remain one single heretic in the kingdom.”

“Hush!” said La Hurière.

“What is it?” inquired Coconnas and Maurevel together.

They heard the first pulsation from the bell in Saint Germain l’Auxerrois.

“The signal!” exclaimed Maurevel. “The time is set forward! I was told it was appointed at midnight — so much the better. When it concerns the interest of God and the King, it is better for clocks to be fast than slow!”

In reality they heard the church bell mournfully tolling.

Then a shot was fired, and almost instantly the light of several torches blazed up like flashes of lightning in the Rue de l’Arbre Sec.

Coconnas passed his hand over his brow, which was damp with perspiration.

“It has begun!” cried Maurevel. “Now to work — away!”

“One moment, one moment!” said the landlord. “Before we begin, let us protect the camp, as we say in the army. I do not wish to have my wife and children’s throats cut while I am out. There is a Huguenot here.”

“Monsieur de la Mole!” said Coconnas, starting.

“Yes, the heretic has thrown himself into the wolf’s throat.”

“What!” said Coconnas, “would you attack your guest?”

“I gave an extra edge to my rapier for his special benefit.”

“Oho!” said the Piedmontese, frowning.

“I never yet killed anything but my rabbits, ducks, and chickens,” replied the worthy inn-keeper, “and I do not know very well how to go to work to kill a man; well, I will practise on him, and if I am clumsy, no one will be there to laugh at me.”

“By Heaven! it is hard,” said Coconnas. “Monsieur de la Mole is my companion; Monsieur de la Mole has supped with me; Monsieur de la Mole has played with me”—

“Yes; but Monsieur de la Mole is a heretic,” said Maurevel. “Monsieur de la Mole is doomed; and if we do not kill him, others will.”

“Not to say,” added the host, “that he has won fifty crowns from you.”

“True,” said Coconnas; “but fairly, I am sure.”

“Fairly or not, you must pay them, while, if I kill him, you are quits.”

“Come, come!” cried Maurevel; “make haste, gentlemen, an arquebuse-shot, a rapier-thrust, a blow with a mallet, a stroke with any weapon you please; but get done with it if you wish to reach the admiral’s in time to help Monsieur de Guise as we promised.”

Coconnas sighed.

“I’ll make haste!” cried La Hurière, “wait for me.”

“By Heaven!” cried Coconnas, “he will put the poor fellow to great pain, and, perhaps, rob him. I must be present to finish him, if requisite, and to prevent any one from touching his money.”

And impelled by this happy thought, Coconnas followed La Hurière upstairs, and soon overtook him, for according as the landlord went up, doubtless as the effect of reflection, he slackened his pace.

As he reached the door, Coconnas still following, many gunshots were discharged in the street. Instantly La Mole was heard to leap out of bed and the flooring creaked under his feet.

Diable!” muttered La Hurière, somewhat disconcerted; “that has awakened him, I think.”

“It looks like it,” observed Coconnas.

“And he will defend himself.”

“He is capable of it. Suppose, now, Maître la Hurière, he were to kill you; that would be droll!”

“Hum, hum!” responded the landlord, but knowing himself to be armed with a good arquebuse, he took courage and dashed the door in with a vigorous kick.

La Mole, without his hat, but dressed, was entrenched behind his bed, his sword between his teeth, and his pistols in his hands.

“Oho!” said Coconnas, his nostrils expanding as if he had been a wild beast smelling blood, “this grows interesting, Maître la Hurière. Forward!”

“Ah, you would assassinate me, it seems!” cried La Mole, with glaring eyes; “and it is you, wretch!”

Maître la Hurière’s reply to this was to take aim at the young man with his arquebuse; but La Mole was on his guard, and as he fired, fell on his knees, and the ball flew over his head.

“Help!” cried La Mole; “help, Monsieur de Coconnas!”

“Help, Monsieur de Maurevel! — help!” cried La Hurière.

Ma foi! Monsieur de la Mole,” replied Coconnas, “all I can do in this affair is not to join the attack against you. It seems all the Huguenots are to be put to death to-night, in the King’s name. Get out of it as well as you can.”

“Ah, traitors! assassins! — is it so? Well, then, take this!” and La Mole, aiming in his turn, fired one of his pistols. La Hurière, who had kept his eye on him, dodged to one side; but Coconnas, not anticipating such a reply, stayed where he was, and the bullet grazed his shoulder.

“By Heaven!” he exclaimed, grinding his teeth; “I have it. Well, then, let it be we two, since you will have it so!”

And drawing his rapier, he rushed on La Mole.

Had he been alone La Mole would, doubtless, have awaited his attack; but Coconnas had La Hurière to aid him, who was reloading his gun, and Maurevel, who, responding to the innkeeper’s invitation, was rushing up-stairs four steps at a time.

La Mole, therefore, dashed into a small closet, which he bolted inside.

“Ah, coward!” cried Coconnas, furious, and striking at the door with the pommel of his sword; “wait! wait! and I will make as many holes in your body as you have gained crowns of me to-night. I came up to prevent you from suffering! Oh, I came up to prevent you from being robbed and you pay me back by putting a bullet into my shoulder! Wait for me, coward, wait!”

While this was going on, Maître la Hurière came up and with one blow with the butt-end of his arquebuse smashed in the door.

Coconnas darted into the closet, but only bare walls met him. The closet was empty and the window was open.

“He must have jumped out,” said the landlord, “and as we are on the fourth story, he is surely dead.”

“Or he has escaped by the roof of the next house,” said Coconnas, putting his leg on the window-sill and preparing to follow him over this narrow and slippery route; but Maurevel and La Hurière seized him and drew him back into the room.

“Are you mad?” they both exclaimed at once; “you will kill yourself!”

“Bah!” said Coconnas, “I am a mountaineer, and used to climbing glaciers; besides, when a man has once offended me, I would go up to heaven or descend to hell with him, by whatever route he pleases. Let me do as I wish.”

“Well,” said Maurevel, “he is either dead or a long way off by this time. Come with us; and if he escape you, you will find a thousand others to take his place.”

“You are right,” cried Coconnas. “Death to the Huguenots! I want revenge, and the sooner the better.”

And the three rushed down the staircase, like an avalanche.

“To the admiral’s!” shouted Maurevel.

“To the admiral’s!” echoed La Hurière.

“To the admiral’s, then, if it must be so!” cried Coconnas in his turn.

And all three, leaving the Belle Étoile in charge of Grégoire and the other waiters, hastened toward the admiral’s hôtel in the Rue de Béthizy; a bright light and the report of fire-arms guided them in that direction.

“Ah, who comes here?” cried Coconnas. “A man without his doublet or scarf!”

“It is some one escaping,” said Maurevel.

“Fire! fire!” said Coconnas; “you who have arquebuses.”

“Faith, not I,” replied Maurevel. “I keep my powder for better game.”

“You, then, La Hurière!”

“Wait, wait!” said the innkeeper, taking aim.

“Oh, yes, wait,” cried Coconnas, “and meantime he will escape.”

And he rushed after the unhappy wretch, whom he soon overtook, as he was wounded; but at the moment when, in order that he might not strike him behind, he exclaimed, “Turn, will you! turn!” the report of an arquebuse was heard, a bullet whistled by Coconnas’s ears, and the fugitive rolled over, like a hare in its swiftest flight struck by the shot of the sportsman.

A cry of triumph was heard behind Coconnas. The Piedmontese turned round and saw La Hurière brandishing his weapon.

“Ah,” he exclaimed, “I have handselled this time at any rate.”

“And only just missed making a hole quite through me.”

“Be on your guard! — be on your guard!” cried La Hurière.

Coconnas sprung back. The wounded man had risen on his knee, and, eager for revenge, was just on the point of stabbing him with his poniard, when the landlord’s warning put the Piedmontese on his guard.

“Ah, viper!” shouted Coconnas; and rushing at the wounded man, he thrust his sword through him three times up to the hilt.

“And now,” cried he, leaving the Huguenot in the agonies of death, “to the admiral’s! — to the admiral’s!”

“Aha! my gentlemen,” said Maurevel, “it seems to work.”

“Faith! yes,” replied Coconnas. “I do not know if it is the smell of gunpowder makes me drunk, or the sight of blood excites me, but by Heaven! I am thirsty for slaughter. It is like a battue of men. I have as yet only had battues of bears and wolves, and on my honor, a battue of men seems more amusing.”

And the three went on their way.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/dumas/alexandre_pere/marguerite-de-valois/chapter7.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37